[ art / co / ot / q / qt / v ] [ 3dpd / unf ] [ g / sic ] [ countdown / hyperindex / linkboard / quest archive / stream ] [ Hamburger Time Calendar / MLPG Beacon / Donate / Game & Mumble Servers ] [ Rules & FAQs / Credits ] [ Mod ] [ home ]

/q/ - Quest

Name
Email
Subject
Comment
File
:
Password (For file deletion.)

  [Go to bottom]   [Catalog]   [Return]   [Archive]

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

 No.729349

Last time on PirateQuest…

The party caught up with Mallea for a while, and learned that she was having a very different experience of the manor than them. The most obvious difference was that she had been traveling with all of the missing party members through the manor. Furthermore, she claimed that they had been the ones to defeat the Immolatioknight and the Mischiefs. Obviously, this directly contradicted what Cerulean and Cutlass clearly remembered about their own exploration through the manor.

Mallea's recollection of events was foggy and uncertain past the point of defeating the Mischiefs. It was at that point, in a traumatic flashback, that Alder recalled the sight of Splendid's and Mallea's corpses in the Magical Research Lab. When he brought this up, Mallea was badly shaken, but aggressively dismissed it all as being the work of an illusion – some kind of magic wrought by whatever Oddities were left haunting the manor.

Without any concrete explanation for the diverging memories or the whereabouts of their missing allies, they went into the attic's back room, where they recovered two key items for their exploration: A stone chalice and a wavy ritual dagger, used in Krikral wedding ceremonies to offer the blood of the betrothed to their creator-god, the Architect. With that, they could proceed into the basement.

Using a trapdoor shortcut, they went from the Attic down to the second floor and then to the first floor, retracing the steps that they had taken when they first went from the foyer into the basement. At the end of the first floor's west corridor, they ran into a wall with a small altar before it, blocking their way to the basement. The altar had ornate flowering stone carvings upon it, and was covered with a white veil, as is fitting of the Krikral tradition.

Mallea set the chalice upon the altar, and offered a few drops of her blood. The wall behind the altar started to shimmer like fog, and vanished somewhat, but would not vanish entirely until the others offered some of their blood as well. At the same time as these blood offerings were made, an additional unseen force seemed, almost randomly, to increase the shimmering of the wall, causing it to break down more.

Once the wall completely vanished, they were able to proceed into the basement.

At first, the staircase leading underground seemed to be the same as ever, but it was soon apparent that the stairs had lengthened. They walked downward for a seemingly interminable period, all while the walls of the corridor got more and more narrow, darker and colder… until at last, they reached a small door, at the far end of a staircase that was so narrow they could only proceed one at a time.

 No.729350

>Everyone

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 reaches a fever pitch, maddening sensations piling upon sensations, culminating into an incessant storm of noise in your head–

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.

>Roll perception (Hearing), DC 8

 No.729351

>>729350

Cutlass listens into the darkness. [1d10]

She also uses Soul Sight to see if the darkness itself is a thing.

>Soul Sight on darkness


Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729352

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>729350
Cloud follows down the stairs, extending on seemingly forever, deeper and deeper. He puts off the uncomfortable lucidity to just being anxious, worried at this unending passage. When they get to the door, he sighs in relief, waiting for Cutlass to open it. When she does, his ears focus forward, listening out for what could be in there.
>Perception [1d10]
>Echolocation

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.729353

>>729350
Thessaly's skin crawls as the door opens, bracing herself for whatever lies beyond. Her eyes narrow to slits and she takes a step forward, firing off magic sparks into the gloom, trying to see whatever lies beyond.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.729354

>>729349
>>729350
[1d10] Perception
Despite his discomfort at the neverending, pressuring hallway, the griffon almost feels… worse, at the sight of a door. He strokes at his feathers a little and flicks his tail, before waiting for the door to open.

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.729355

>>729350
Cerulean grits her teeth, not liking any of this one bit and holds the fox closer to her. Granted, she's stopped enjoying a while ago.

>Electroception

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.729356

>>729351
Your Soul Sight returns nothing. It's as if you didn't activate it at all. From experience, you know that this means you didn't use it on a valid target. In other words, this is actual darkness caused from lack of light, and not whatever it was that you saw during your first trip to the basement, and again when you were attacked by the mysterious figure in the Magical Research Lab.

>>729352
>>729353
>>729355

Just as Cutlass opens the door, your ears twitch as they pick up a very similar sound – something nearly identical, so similar that you almost don't even catch it, lasting just as briefly as the sound of Cutlass opening the old, creaky door before you.

It is the sound of another door closing, coming from nearby, some distance ahead. It begins and ends at precisely the same moments that the sound of Cutlass opening this door begin and end.

>>729351
>>729352
>>729353
>>729354
>>729355
Beyond the door, the room is pitch-black, dark and void. Thessaly's magic, and the glow of the Fox's flames, illuminate it faintly as you step inside.

Before you lies a small stone room, maybe no more than ten feet long, wide and high, a perfect cube. Based on the smooth stone it's been carved of, it would look right at home in Mallea's basement – although, you saw no such room during your first trip into the basement.

The room is completely featureless. No homely atmosphere, no appliances, no furniture of any kind. Completely and utterly without any signs of life.

There are only three distinguishing features to the room:

The first is the hundreds of faint scuff-marks on the floor, vaguely following the curvature of hooves, paws and claws.

The second is the damage and blemishes upon the walls. Burn marks. Mold clumps. Dust.

The third is the single door at the other end of the room. It is old and worn, and black and soft-looking near the bottom, apparently from some kind of water damage.

Mallea remains at the back of your group, entering the room last. She reaches into her tunic, and pulls forth a small vial with a gray mixture blooming within. Wordlessly, she shakes it, pacing and trotting back and forth, the fraught emotions of anxiety.

 No.729357

The room is completely lifeless*

Of course there are features as the next line lists.

 No.729358

>>729351
>>729353
>>729354
>>729355
>>729356
Cloud hesitates for just a second as he hears the noise, following as Cutlass and the others enter the room.
"Guys… there's something on the other side of that door. It just closed it a second ago."
He whispers in warning.

 No.729359

>>729358
"I heard it too," she whispers back. "Be prepared for the unexpected."

>>729356
She hesitates to open the door, given what she just heard. Seeing Mallea fretting and shaking the vial, her curiosity gets the better of her. "What is That?" she asks simply.

 No.729360

>>729356
"It looks… familiar, too. Bits and pieces of everything we have come across while here. And, the scuff marks seem to be a wide variety too… hrm." he trails off, before looking over to Cloud.

>>729358
"H-Hmm? I-I will be as ready as I can, I suppose…"

 No.729361

>>729356
>>729358
"Yeah…I heard the thing too." Cerulean decides to lead the charge, shakily going up and opening the door.

 No.729362

>>729356
>>729358

"Oh really?" Cutlass contemplates out loud as she looks back and forth between the two doors.

"Cloud, be a dear and go check what's beyond the next door, won't you?" she requests of Cloud. As she does, she watches the door they just came in through.

 No.729363

>>729362
"What? Why should I do it?"

 No.729364

>>729362
>>729363

"Do you have something better to be doing right now?" Cutlass asks in annoyance. "Put those bat ears to good use for once."

>>729356

[1d10] listening

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729365

>>729364
>>729356
"I've been putting them to use this whole time."
Cloud complains, as he steps towards the door, listening out to see if he can hear what is beyond.
>Echolocation Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.729366

>>729359
Mallea uncorks the vial, then pours the contents upon the ground. The gray-silver compound bubbles and spreads, reacting with the oxygen in the room, until it forms into a translucent, ethereal young bear, covered with armor that is reminiscent of the shells of the Krikral race. Though it appears young, it looks fierce and brave – a smaller, tamed version of the Cub, in fact.

"An incarnate Sigil," Mallea says. "My Matron fancied herself a master of the mind, the psychological magics. With her techniques and the natural sciences, I draw forth from my own mind. Imaginations, daydreams, memories – all of them can become power for me."

>>729364
If anything happened or is happening to that door, you can't tell.

>>729358
>>729359
>>729360
>>729361
>>729362
https://youtu.be/XR68p_k_I88

Despite what Cerulean, Cloud and Thessaly heard earlier, and its implications, nothing attacks you when Cerulean opens the door. Instead, you see a small, tight hallway. The walls are lined with pipes of various sizes. Exposed wiring from electricity and magitech hangs low overhead. Below, there is a dense black liquid. It's impossible to tell how deep it is just by looking at it, but the hallway gets lower deeper in, suggesting that the liquid may rise up your legs if you proceed inward.

Further in, you see a low-hanging bulb of some kind, sticking out of the wiring that covers the ceiling. It flashes and blips now and then, illuminating the dark hall. From its cold, dying light, you see that there are three paths that diverge out of the watery hall.

The first, leading west, is lined mostly with twisting pipes, like the intestines of some awful machine. You can feel a distinct low heat coming from their near-imperceptible red glow.

The second, leading north, is a low crawlspace. The ceiling there becomes metal and square, and is very tight and small, barely more than a crawlspace, or perhaps a ventilation shaft. Dust chokes everything within.

The third, leading east, looks soft, dark and mushy. Stone gives way to fetid, dank earth, clogged with freely-growing mold and mutated fungi, the likes of which you have never seen, even in nightmares of the stuff.

>in addition to other actions, roll perception (visual)

 No.729367

>>729366
"Curious," she comments, observing the conjured Cub. "…Is it possible to learn this? It would be a useful addition to my repertoire."

She silently takes in the three paths, noting how they each seem to reflect the trials they have been through so far. Recalling what she has been told, she decides to take the western path, towards the heat, since it was their first encounter. She peers through the gloom, trying to discern what lies ahead.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.729368

>>729366
"All this water and those wires? This…this has me on edge even more now," she wonders out loud and, begrudgingly, follows Thessaly as she seems to have some idea of how this place works.

 No.729369

>>729366
[1d10] Perception
"I would say we all go together, yes? It may be a bad idea for us to 'split' up." the griffon says, trying to spot anything out of the ordinary.
[1d10+1] Master Thief

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

 No.729370

>>729368
>perception
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11

 No.729371

>>729366

"Huh," Cutlass shrugs when the door does nothing. "What an odd coincidence. She goes with the others into the cramped hallway.

"Well, this is a much more fun sort of mysterious haunt. Let's avoid the fungus if at all possible. No need to ruin the atmosphere with such disgusting abominations."

She follows Thessaly toward the heat.

[1d10] perception

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.729372

>>729367
"Yes – if she has but time and will, a Witch is capable of many things," Mallea says. Something about the casual chatter about magic seems to soothe her frayed nerves. "I was once cajoled into playing Matron to another Witch, decades ago. Thought I would despise the role of a teacher, and was pleasantly proven wrong."

>>729367
>>729368
>>729369
>>729370
>>729371
As you walk into the hallway, the black liquid rises up around your hooves. It's deeper than you thought it was at first glance, and by the time that you get close enough to the western corridor to see further down, it has risen up to your chests. Cutlass, owing to her more petite frame, is nearly submerged to her neck. It is thicker than water, but easier to move in than the black tar that flooded the basement the first time, and that which flooded the Magical Research Lab. The Fox, rather than risk being hurt by the liquid, opts to climb back into Cerulean's lantern.

You head deeper into the western corridor. The going is narrow, and the ceiling is low, forcing you to stoop and pull yourselves in to avoid scraping up against the pipes along the sides, which glow a dull red. Yet you cannot escape their heat, and an uncomfortable, sticky fever builds up within you as you proceed. The path is singular, but winding and maze-like. It is full of dead ends, and the pipes connect often to broken control panels, boilers, radiators, and so on, twisted black and burned. Steam leaks here and there, occasionally stinging you from the sides.

As you walk through the labyrinth of pipes, Thessaly, Cerulean and Cutlass start to notice strange markings on the pipes. They're faded-looking and old, and hard to see even with the help of light.

Groups of small, straight lines. Some horizontal, some vertical, some running across diagonally –

Suddenly, it clicks for you.

These are tally marks.

Just as that moment of brief inspiration hits, Alder feels something brush up against his claw. In an instant, so fast that it is nearly without a sound, he is pulled down into the black water, submerged entirely.

Mallea wordlessly starts scrambling about in the water, trying to increase her horn's glow to help find him.

[1d10+1]

>>729369
Blood and pressure rush to your head as you are yanked downward. Vertebrae pop in an awful shock of pain. You manage to look down, and though the water is dense and black, the faint light of the others above seems to give you some sight. You have chains around your back leg, identical to those that Thessaly uses with her Aura. The other end of the chains are connected to something else, further below, dragging you this way and that through what appears to be some kind of abyss.

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5

 No.729373

>>729372
"Decades?" she parrots, raising an eyebrow with curiosity. "Are you Undying as well, then?"

She observes the markings on the pipes, doing a little bit of a double take as she notices they're tallies. She's about to try to count them, but is distracted by Alder. Her eyes widen slightly, and without missing a beat, she lashes out with her telekinetic grasp, trying to blindly grab him and pull him back up.
[1d10+1] Telekinesis

Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2

 No.729374

>>729366
Cloud peaks in cautiously as Cerulean opens the door, though still worried as he know what he heard. He does enter right away, looking down at the liquid and above and the exposed wiring. But, again he follows as the others proceed. When they come to a fork in paths, Cloud looks down each one, checking for any more sounds of whatever being it was he heard earlier.
>Echolocation Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.729375

>>729372
Alder hardly manages to let out a startled squawk before he's dragged under. The sudden, sharp pain across his back scrambles his brain a little, and he desperately tries to free himself from the chains- he'd rather not find out what's pulling him down!
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.729376

>>729372
Cerulean looks back and dives down, using Alder's struggling to detect his body's electricity to find and swim to him.

>Electroception, can detect stealthed things but will roll if told to

>Earthly Affinity makes traversing water automatic

 No.729377

>>729376
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11

 No.729378

>>729372
>>729374
Cloud follows the others down the heated hallway, growing more uncomfortable as the black liquid rises up too high.
"I really hope this is just bad water."
He grumbles as they walk. The questionable substance and the hot pipes they pass makes the whole experience more draining that it should, no reprieve from either source. When he hears the splash of Alder going under, Cloud's eyes dart around to look for the gryphon.
"Alder? Alder where'd you go?!"
He shouts while he looks through the water, unsure if his hearing will help through a fluid.
>Grab Alder

 No.729379

>>729372

At first, Cutlass shivers at the cold water reaching up to her neck. "Well, this is unpleasant," she grumbles. "Sir Pent, be sure to stay on my hat," she looks up to her hat with concern.

As the water gets warmer, she says, "I take it back. This is actually practically nice. Like a really gross hot tub."

Just as she is about to comment on the tallies, Mallea starts splashing around in the water. Cutlass looks back to see what is wrong, and notices Alder is missing. "Oh no you don't!" she shouts as she reaches out in the direction Alder should be in with her telekinesis.

[1d10] blind telekinesis

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.729380

>>729373
Mallea is about to answer, but is interrupted by Alder's near-instant disappearance. You try to reach out into the murky black water to try and grab Alder before it's too late. You feel a shape in your magical grasp, and yank it back onto the surface against much resistance. The effort causes you to lose your balance and fall backwards. But, when the figure comes back up from the water–

It's you. Or at least, something that once was you. A corpse, your corpse, riddled with fungus, covered with mold. Decaying flesh and bones, now serving as fodder, a breeding ground for sickness and disease. The momentum of your pull causes the corpse to fall on top of you. Mallea pales, wordlessly tugging the corpse off of you, barely suppressing a horrified shriek.

>>729375
>>729376
>>729378
>>729379
Though the water is only deep enough for you to wade into, Cerulean is able to dive into the spot where Alder just vanished, rocketing down into the depths after him. When Alder sees her shape above him, he reaches out and takes hold of her. Cerulean's great power and speed stops whatever it is that's dragging him down into the abyss, and the exchange nearly tugs Alder's leg straight off. The figure stops, and the chain slackens, allowing Alder to slip his paws out.

In the brief moment when the figure stops, its head turns, allowing you only the briefest glimpse at it. It is gargantuan and dark, with a sleek and powerful body. It's covered with a combination of deep blue scales and fur, with its upper half seeming to be more fur than scales. It has forearms, which end in bird-like talons. Its head is wide and flat, with odd ridges atop it.

With a snarl, it turns and bolts back into the shadows, not to be seen again.

Although Alder starts to choke, having had no time to get a proper breath before being dragged down, Cutlass takes ahold of him, and she and Cloud help pull him back out before he can drown. He is drenched, his stomach filled with the foul, rancid water.

 No.729381

>>729380
>>729375

"Haha! Yes!" Cutlass celebrates as their combined efforts save Alder and bring him back to the surface.

Then, she stiffens up, and coughs awkwardly.

 No.729382

>>729380
>>729375
>>729373
Cloud gives Alder a few pats on the back to help him catch his breath and clear out the water after they pull him up from Cerulean's rescue.
"You okay there Alder? What happened?"
He asks with concern, before stopping as now Thessaly starts to thrash about with another of her on top.
"Th-Thessaly?"
He questions at seeing the dead body.
"…We should get out of here quickly, r-right?"

 No.729383

>>729380
Cerulean sees the creature in the dark, and blinks a bit. It may have been awhile now, but she still remembers what she saw after the last time her aura grew.
It's…that thing. The thing that went into the trench in my dream! She thinks to herself. She sees to make sure Alder is with the others safe before Cerulean dives down after it, not wanting it to sneak on everyone again and drag them down again.

 No.729384

>>729380
At the sight of the body, she backs up, eyes wide and trembling in fear. "…No… Get back… G-GET BACK!" In a frenzy of abject panic, she blasts the shambling carcass repeatedly with magic, trying to destroy the apparition with all of her strength.
[1d10+1] [1d10+1] Magic Bolt

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

 No.729385

>>729380
Despite the stressful situation, he manages to catch a glimpse of… whatever it is. It seems bizarrely familiar. He's thankfully pulled away from it, practically yanking his leg off in the process! Once he's pulled back to the surface he lets out a pained, panicked gasp, and immediately begins to cough up the foul water in his stomach and lungs.

>>729381
>>729382
>>729373
F-Fine, mostly. I will be sore for some time, I think." he manages between coughs. He stops talking long enough to get most of the water out, and lets out a disgusted little sigh. "Though… whatever it is, it is… familiar somehow. Scales and fur, blue and black, with bird-like talons and a ridged head." he explains to the others. "It used… well, it used Miss Thessaly's aura chains… somehow."

 No.729386

>>729385

At first, Cutlass doesn't take much interest in Alder's claim that the creature is familiar. However, when she mentions that she used Thessaly's aura chains, Cutlass's eyes narrow.

"Hmm. It sounds like an amalgamation of several of us. At the very least, it has qualities of Thessaly, Cerulean, and Alder."

 No.729387

>>729386
"More than that, perhaps- it likely is a little bit of everyone that we have with us, and that was separated."

 No.729388

>>729381
>>729384
Thessaly annihilates her replicated corpse in a plume of magical energy. Once the blast washes over the corpse, Cutlass notes that something looks quite familiar. A shadowy black mist fades off of the body, and then, instead of dissipating, it returns to Thessaly's own shadow. Cutlass recognizes this as the exact same thing that happens when Ossie dismisses her Shadow Masque technique – the shadows she uses to disguise herself as her target's greatest fear return to the target.

>>729382
>>729381
>>729383
>>729385
>>729384
Mallea is aghast when Cerulean dives back down only mere moments after bringing Alder back to the surface. Before Cerulean can get too far away, Mallea inhales, dives her torso down into the water, and flings three vials toward Cerulean's bag with her magic.

[1d10+2] Distill Life

>>729383
https://youtu.be/uLMqgqyiut4

The monster swims deeper and deeper into the strange, formless abyss below the corridor, zipping this way and that to try to shake you. But when it's apparent that you can keep up, it switches tactics, spinning around suddenly to get the better of you. It opens its mouth, which is a strange amalgam of beak and fish's jaws, lined with many jagged rows of dull pony's teeth. It lets out a high-pitched trill, which sends the water all around you into a dizzying vibrato.

>Screech (Instant, Recharge 1): You let out a terrible aura-enhanced screech and a shockwave of aura, dulling the nerves of your foes. Affected enemies take a -1 to their actions next round.

[1d10+1]

Then, it attempts to barrel into you, changing its direction sharply in its attempts to flee.
>Sprinter: Once per combat you can perform feat of great speed as part of an escape or charge. If used to escape combat only fast fliers are able to catch up with you as long as there is open terrain. If used as part of a charging attack your attack will hit on a DC -1
[1d10+1]

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

 No.729389

>>729387

"I am scared to know in what way it is like me…" Cutlass contemplates. "IF that is true."

>>729388
>>729384

Cutlass watches Thessaly, her expression turning more grave. "I stand corrected," she comments, more serious and concerned now. "It has Ossie's ability to manifest fears from your own shadow."

 No.729390

>>729388
Cerulean keeps swimming at it, looking to intercept it and give it a mighty slam of her tail.
"You're not getting away this time, coward!"

>Arabian Agility-counted as a Ranged attack

>Slam, Single, Ranged, tail blade bonus, crits 8+, take better
[1d10+2]
[1d10+2]

Roll #1 2 + 2 = 4 / Roll #2 7 + 2 = 9

 No.729391

>>729388
Alder flicks his ears as he catches a particularly familiar sound, and responds with a screech o his own!
>Rallying Cry (Instant) [1d10+1]

>>729389
"Perhaps something related to your aura? It would only make sense." he suggests, before looking around nervously. "S-Should we check the hallways? I would not like to leave Miss Cerulean here on her own, though."

Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2

 No.729392

>>729385
"It copied her aura? …Do you think this might be the copy thing Mallea was talking about earlier?"

>>729388
Cloud looks over as Cerulean dives back down, unable to really do much as he can't breath underwater, or really is all that willing to go under whatever this stuff is.
"What do we do now?"

 No.729393

"No! No! No! No!" She stamps out the smoldering remains in a state of sheer panic, trampling them into nothing. When it's done, she almost sinks to her knees, letting out a low wail of despair.

Thoroughly shaken by the incident, she lashes out on pure instinct at the strange creature, sending out strands to wrap around its legs, trying to pull it back towards the party before it can flee.
[1d10+2] Shackles

Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10

 No.729394


 No.729395

>>729391

A highly nervous expression creeps across Cutlass's face. "If it has my aura, this could get really bad…"

 No.729396

>>729391
You end up hacking and retching hard, coughing repeatedly as your body forces out a great deal more of the disgusting water – looks like you end up inhaling more than you initially realized.

>>729390
You end up smacking it down a great distance into the darkness, stunning it somewhat as you bring your tail down on it from above. Though the light is faint, you realize, from this angle, that the ridges upon its head look very much like the sucker-like dorsal fins of a remora.

Just as this hits you, the monster turns upward, and ghostly green light starts leaking from its mouth.

>Exequy: spell, recharge 2 after effect ends; Thessaly places a curse upon an enemy, crippling them with dark magic. The target auto-critfails its next roll, and on a crit the target is rendered unable to attack on the next turn. If an enemy gets multiple rolls per turn, the first of those rolls is the one affected by Exequy.


[1d10+1]

But suddenly, dozens of black strands shoot out from above, lashing onto the monster's body like so many harpoons. It thrashes as it tries to get free, to little avail.

[1d10+1] using second action on this

>>729392
>>729391
>>729389
>>729393
>>729390
As Thessaly lashes out and takes hold of the amalgamation, Mallea takes a hold of the strands and pulls with Thessaly to bring the beast up to the surface. "Press the advantage! Don't let it live! There may be more – and we may learn much from dissecting its corpse!"

[1d10+1] pulling in the beast

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

 No.729397

>>729396
She places a shakily conjured seal on the creature to impede its escape further.
>Exequy: spell, recharge 2 after effect ends; Thessaly places a curse upon an enemy, crippling them with dark magic. The target auto-critfails its next roll, and on a crit the target is rendered unable to attack on the next turn. If an enemy gets multiple rolls per turn, the first of those rolls is the one affected by Exequy.
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5

 No.729398

>>729396
Cloud looks down the chains that Thessaly shoots into the water as her and Mallea begin to pull on them.
"Dissecting, really?"
He asks as he focuses on the murky shape, eye glowing as he attempts to shrink it to make it easier for the others to pull.
>Wax/Wane [Shrink creature] [1d10+1]

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6

 No.729399

>>729396
Cerulean gasps as she sees the ridges.
"ROGER?!" Rather than attack, Cerulean attempts to push up on the beast to bring it up.
"Hang on! We'll fix this Roger!"

>Pushing up to surface

>I assume autocritfail

 No.729400

>>729396

Cutlass looks at the chains with apprehension for a moment before she starts pulling on all the chains at once with her telekinesis.

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.729401

>>729399
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10

 No.729402

>>729396
"I-I will be ready as soon as it surfaces! What should we do to it, though?"

>>729393
Alder frowns a little more upon seeing how panicked Thessaly gets… maybe he ought to talk to her later.

 No.729403

>>729402
>>729399
>>729400
>>729397
>>729398
A few of the strands binding the monster snap as it thrashes about, nearly tossing Mallea off of her hooves. Cutlass stumbles, and in that instant of her weakness, the monster's thrashings knock her off of the strands; she falls against a wall of red-hot pipes, getting badly burned in the process.

>Cutlass 7/4


Mallea barely holds fast, helping to pull it closer to the surface. You feel its struggles weaken ever so slightly as Cloud's magic shrinks it down to about 3/4ths of its normal size.

Cerulean charges downward at the monster, and in the process, a green sigil scrawls itself across her forehead, branding her with dark magic. Yet she gets the advantage, swooping up underneath it. With a mighty push, she shoves it up toward the surface, forcing it to beach before the others. Now that it is in plain sight, the others are able to behold its awful grotesquerie, an obvious amalgam of a gargantuan remora and what is unmistakably a griffon with black fur and blue feathers.

Mallea and her Cub dive back as the massive Amalgam surfaces. It thrashes and spins in the confined space, and in its throes, it ends up bashing often into the heated pipes that fill the cramped corridor. It is so large that it completely blocks the way forward, leaving you only with the narrow, labyrinthian space behind you to maneuver – any dodges you make here will probably meet with disaster.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C3bVALdpj8

Mallea uncorks several tiny red vials full of liquid.

[1d10+2] Alchemist's Fire

The Cub charges forward with a roar.

[1d10+1] Slam

The Amalgam snarls, twisting and turning in its shackles, losing one of its actions in the process.

[1d10+1] thrash

As it spins about, it looks at Cutlass, and starts to whisper words only she can hear…

Draw your blades…

[1d10+1] Whisper in Your Ear

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

 No.729404

>>729403
"Roger! Snap out of it!" She yells at it as she tries to slam her tail at it again, thinking its the real Roger and trying to get him to come to his senses like she did with the fox back in the dining hall.

>Slam

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

Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6 / Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10

 No.729405

>>729403
She hangs back, getting more into the swing of things as the Amalgam begins to falter. She reaches out to the inky black liquid beneath her hooves, chanting and muttering to herself as she tries to bend it to her will. "Glacann fear na farraige liom de láimh…"
[1d10+1] Unholy Elementalist

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10

 No.729406

>>729405
> Evoker: When Thessaly conjures a minion via Unholy Elementalist, roll an additional 1d10 on a success. On a pass, the minion is raised with an additional 2 hits for a total of 5/3. On a crit, the minion gains 1 hit and 1 wound, bringing it to 4/4. On a critfail, the minion is hostile and gets no bonuses. (Amnis: +1)
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8

 No.729407

>>729403
>>729402
>>729401
>>729398
>>729397

Cutlass yelps as she is burnt on her side. However, she has no time to nurse her wounds as the beast surfaces.

At first, she is content to only provide token help and let the others handle this. However, when she begins to hear a voice, her eyes go wide with panic.

"NOBODY LISTEN TO IT! KILL IT FAST!" she shouts, providing no further information.

"Alder, I'm going to need a heal," she says before she starts launching a wanton barrage of blades at the amalgamation.

>Dance of Blades


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

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

 No.729408

>>729400
>>729403
Alder folds his ears back a little, and quickly tries to slather one of his mixtures on Cutlass's burn
[1d10+1] Natural Remedy

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.729409

>>729403
>>729407

>Soul Slicer activated before the attack, btw

 No.729410

>>729403
Cloud steps back as the amalgam breaches the water, looking in terror at the creature.
"How did this fit down there?"
He mutters as it starts to trash about. He looks around, the tiny cramped area not lending any use to his magic, and he is feeling rather adverse to getting close with his daggers.
("I won't catch anything from this, it's just… magic stuff I draw out.")
He mutters to himself for reassurance, opening his mouth as red aura pulls away from the creature, trying ot turn the tides more for their favor.
>Vampiric Leech [1d10+1]

>>729407
"But it's not saying anything."
Cloud says in confusion to Cutlass' outburst.

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5

 No.729411

>>729410

"Good, keep it that way."

 No.729412

>>729404
You bring your tail down crashing upon the Amalgam's head, but it shows no signs of giving up.

>>729405
From the tar-like water below you, you conjure a tall, lithe figure, resembling some kind of winged insect, perhaps a Krikral. They resemble a hybrid of mantis and butterfly, elegant, lean and curving. Its body seems to be invisible, and you are only able to see it because of the tar that drips off of it. Two golden slit eyes open in its head, and its look is that of one who thirsts for malice.

>Element: Spite

>All attacks deal a Wound in addition to their other effects.

>>729407
>>729408
>>729410
Cutlass scores many hits upon the monster, but in an act of defiance, it bashes its head against her on the final hit, knocking her back against one of the metal pillars, head-first. The wound is grisly, and risks infection as she slides down into the black water, but Alder pulls her back up and quickly heals her before sickness can spread.

>Cutlass 7/4, half-damage next turn


>2 turns left on Shackles, counting this turn


The Amalgam knocks back Mallea and her Cub into the water, deflecting their attacks with a thrust. The sigil fades from Cerulean's forehead, releasing her from its curse. The Amalgam's mouth continues to move, but none can hear it except for Cutlass herself. Compelled by an unknown force, Cutlass suddenly finds herself trying to stab into Alder's neck!

[1d10] Cutlass' Soul Slicer normal attack

The Amalgam continues to thrash.

[1d10+1]

The Amalgam's head starts to shapeshift, and from the sides appear great, curving horns, greatly resembling those upon Zerk's head. It darts forward, bringing its horns down upon Cerulean.

[1d10+2] Shatter

Roll #1 10 = 10 / Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11 / Roll #3 5 + 2 = 7

 No.729413

>>729412
"You're better than this, Roger! SNAP OUT OF IT!" Cerulean angrily bites down on the Amalgam wherever she can.

>Great weapon attack

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11

 No.729414

>>729412
Cloud takes a few breaths, steadying himself so he can better pull aura after all the discomfort this basement has caused. Somewhat improved, he bares his fangs again, leeching away at the amalgam's energy.
>Vampiric Leech [1d10+1]

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6

 No.729415

>>729412
She looks satisfied with the creature of pure Spite, commanding it to fly up and lash out at the red-hot piping, trying to break some of it loose.
[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.729416

>>729412
>>729415
Thessaly joins in trying to loosen the piping to use against the Amalgam.
[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729417

>>729412
Alder yelps a little as Cutlass lunges for him, trying to duck out of the way. There's no reason she'd do something like this, so it has to be the amalgam! He frantically searches his pack for the Witchkiller Bow, hoping that whatever this effect is, it's magical!
[1d10] Witchkiller Bow

He also lets out a louder, aura-infused screech, to try and throw it off.
[1d10] (Instant) Screech

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

 No.729418

>>729412
>>729408

Cutlass's knife lands directly in Alder's throat. And, it appears she did it on purpose.

Though, as she pulls it out, Alder is shocked to find not a single scratch where the knife sunk in. Though it hurt at the time, now it only leaves him feeling a little dizzy.

Cutlass suddenly shakes her head and look in horror at what she did. "OH! I'm so so so so sorry!" she says, quickly hugging Alder apologetically. "I didn't want to do that!"

Then, Cutlass turns furiously back toward the amalgamation and telekinetically brandishes two daggers. She runs toward it and swings twice.

>Dual Attack with Soul Slicer on

[1d10] [1d10]

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

 No.729419

>>729413
You bring your jaw down upon the Amalgam's side, yanking it out of the dissolving Shackles and slamming it back down onto the ground. Its movements start to slow, but it still bashes its head against you, pinning you against the burning-hot metal of the heated pipes nearby, badly burning the pinned side.

>Cerulean 7/3, because of Spite element, crit hit range increased by 2


>>729414
You regain only one Hit, as the sweltering heat of the room makes it hard to concentrate on the battle.

>>729415
>>729416
The piping holds fast against your pulls, and Mallea tries to help by tugging along with you.

[1d10+1]

Now freed of the chains that bound it, the Amalgam, with wounds piling up from the battle, now starts to back up, propelling itself backward with its now-freed griffon forearms.

>>729417
As the knife digs into your throat, your scream is caught, and you only let out a surprised gasp. What is more surprising, however, is that you do not feel cold metal severing your windpipe, nor even any pressure whatsoever. The dagger has an intensely ethereal quality; as it makes contact, you only feel confused and light-headed, as you might after waking up from fitful, restless sleep plagued by nightmares. Whatever happened, it did no physical damage.

>32/42 Soul Hits remaining


>>729418
Motivated by vengeance, you score two clean hits into the Amalgam's forehead; combined with the damage it's accumulated so far, the monster starts faltering harder, slumping upon its arms as it tries to crawl backward.

>>729418
>>729417
>>729416
>>729414
>>729413
The Cub charges at the Amalgam again, its teeth bared as it lets out a grizzly roar.

[1d10+1]

As the Amalgam tries to retreat from Cutlass, it seems that the battle is turning now in your favor.

But a victory counted before it is won is no victory at all.

Cutlass' stomach forms a cold, hard pit as she sees what the Amalgam does next, and so does Thessaly's. The Amalgam rears back, and its forearms begin moving in slow, concentrated, almost hypnotically subtle movements; the kata of martial arts disciplines. Cutlass and Thessaly have seen this before, in brief flashes – done by the assassins of the Gates of Justice mere moments before one of their unarmed strikes tears an enemy's head clean off their shoulders.

[1d10+2] Cleave vs Cloud, Alder, Thessaly
[1d10+2] Cleave vs Cutlass, Cerulean, Mallea

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11 / Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11 / Roll #3 1 + 2 = 3 / Roll #4 4 + 2 = 6

 No.729420

>>729419
Cerulean hisses out in pain just as her flesh does as she gets burned. But one slam deserves another as she slams her tail into its head.

>Slam

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

Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12 / Roll #2 5 + 2 = 7

 No.729421

>>729419
Seeing the Amalgam starting to get away again, she clicks her tongue. "Caitiff." She throws out more black chains to draw it back in.
[1d10+2] Shackles

The Spitebug darts towards the beast, harrying it with consecutive swipes and stings.
[1d10]

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

 No.729422

>>729421
[2d3]

Roll #1 3, 1 = 4

 No.729423

>>729419

"It has our fighting styles too?" Cutlass exclaims in annoyance. "Watch out!"

Cutlass protects her head with her hoof while her daggers continue to slash at the Amalgam.

>Dual Attack Soul Slicer

[1d10] [1d10]

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

 No.729424

>>729419
Cloud shakes his head to try and get some focus, as he can't even use the liquid they stand in to cool off as it's nearly as warm as the air. Though he is slightly refreshed by the drain, he feels more confident he can drain away some of it's size now to hopefully cut in before it lands it's next attack.
>Vampiric Leech [1d10+1]

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10

 No.729425

>>729418
>>729419
Alder lets out a startled, confused cry as he feels the daggers digs into his throat, and makes him feel… hazy? Confused? Something.

He slings the bow back across his back and hurries to Cerulean's side to try and address her burns once she's freed.
Natural Remedy [1d10+1]

Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2

 No.729426

>>729425
[1d3]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729427

>>729424
>>729420
>>729422
>>729423
>>729425
The Amalgam lurches forward in a perfect reproduction of Ossie's killing techniques. Cloud, Alder and Thessaly dive away without a moment to spare (Alder ends up dropping what was almost assuredly a bad potion in the process). Cutlass, Cerulean and Mallea are caught in the wave of its left hand, tearing gruesomely through flesh and sinew. Just being grazed leaves them with horrific wounds, though the injuries are not so deep as to sever or maim.

>Cutlass loses 1 Wound, Mallea and Cerulean lose 2 each


Just as the Amalgam rears back for another attack with Ossie's killing blows, Thessaly yanks it to the ground with her Shackles, disrupting its moves. Cloud helps bring it down by draining much of its stamina to restore his own health and shrink it down. Cerulean and the Cub charge in, knocking the Amalgam's head upward with synchronized blows. A second later, Mallea succeeds in yanking down the pipes in the ceiling that Thessaly loosened, and they come down upon the Amalgam's head. A storm-cloud of steam rises up from the water, and the air is filled with the Amalgam's pained screeches, roared, and unsettling near-Equine screams.

The hot, wet steam clings to and dampens your fur. As some of it disperses, you can see a great, melted-looking black mass, a slurry of unidentifiable substance, floating upon the surface of the water.

In the center of it, floating upside-down, is Roger.

 No.729428

>>729425
>>729426
Alder lets out a soft huff, and tries to do something good at least- he'll try to motivate his friends!
Rallying Cry [1d10+1]

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4

 No.729429

>>729428
You make a mighty victory cry as the party finally brings down the Amalgam. Honestly, you look pretty badass right now.

 No.729430

>>729427
>>729425

"Again, I am so so so so so sorry!" Cutlass apologizes profusely to Alder. "How do you feel?"

She grabs Alder by the shoulder to get a better look at his neck.

 No.729431

>>729427
Cerulean coughs a bit after that attack, grunting a bit as it really cut her deep. But then, she saw something that made her push past her own pain just to get to him.
"Roger!" She pushes herself close enough to slump over and scoop him up and hold him close.
"Roger…c'mon buddy! Wake up, please! I'm sorry I had to hurt you too, but…but you…please just wake up!"

 No.729432

>>729427
She is not entirely convinced the Amalgam is truly gone. She pulls out His Eye and watches the black ichor closely, and sends the Spitebug into the liquid to check underwater for good measure.
[1d10] Thessaly Perception
[1d10] Spitebug Perception
> Make Contact: passive; Thessaly's elementals have a psychic bond with her, allowing them to communicate with her directly. They cannot speak, but can still convey important information to her. At Thessaly's command, an elemental may also extend this bond to a target of her choosing. (Amnis)

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

 No.729433

>>729427
Cloud rises up from the water, luckily avoiding diving under completely to not swallow any of the questionable water, and leeches away some of the creatures vitality. He himself grows larger as he drains some of it's size as well, and thankfully still able to stand in the narrow hall without bumping into the burning pipes.
He covers his eyes as the pipes are brought down, shielding them from the steam. When it's safe, he opens his eyes, looking at the black sludge and floating fish.
"…So uh, is that enough for you to look through Mallea?"

 No.729434

>>729427
>>729431
>>729429
Alder definitely felt a lot better after all of that… his heart sinks a little bit upon seeing Roger. He looks into his pack, and gives the Sharkpony his remaining cure-all. "H-Here. If we cannot stir him, and our other medicines do not work, maybe this will."

>>729430
Alder lets out a startled chirp when he gets yanked over by Cutlass, and lets out a confused little warble. "I-It is okay. You were not in your right mind… and, uhm, I feel oddly tired. My head hurts, and everything seems a little hazy."

 No.729435

>>729434
Cerulean nods, but she is visibly shaking.

 No.729436

>>729434

"So it works!" Cutlass says with an excited smile, apparently already not worried about Alder anymore.

 No.729437

>>729431
There's no response… at first.

A faint, quiet stirring… and then a full-on shudder. Slowly, Roger flips himself right-side up, looking at you through bleary eyes. You didn't know it was possible for a fish to look sad and guilty until now – Roger looks like he's about to cry. Perhaps from pain, perhaps from guilt.

>>729432
It looks like the coast is clear, both nearby and underwater… at least for now. It stands to reason that, if the Amalgam was using abilities from all of the party, but only Roger was left behind when it was defeated, there might be more somewhere deep within the basement. Perhaps others could be possessed in the same way that Roger was.

>>729433
Mallea takes one look at Cerulean's grieving face and shoots you a silencing sneer.

 No.729438

>>729436
Alder lets out a confused noise, and cocks his head to the side.

>>729435
>>729437
"L-Let me see if I can help, please. Or… is he okay? Ask him if he is hurt, please."

 No.729439

>>729438
[1d10+1] Natural Remedy roll, if it ends up being needed.

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6

 No.729440

>>729438

"What you are experiencing," Cutlass says with a proud grin. "Is the sensation of your soul severed from your body. Not completely, mind you. I sadly am not that skilled at it, yet. But, it seems my attack certainly did the trick."

"Did it hurt? Do you feel sick?"

 No.729441

>>729432
As you survey the mass of ichor with My Eye, it lights up very brilliantly, much like the Dust in the attic did. This, it seems, would indicate that it is an embodiment of Sin, just as Dust was an embodiment of Despair. But while Cutlass spoke about Spite being the Sin that you would fight in the basement, you note that there are other emotions rolled into the black ichor. You feel them just as one who is near a fire can feel its heat from a distance.

And the principal feeling among those in the ichor is not Spite, but Regret.

 No.729442

>>729437
"Oh no no no, its okay! It's okay! Shh shh shh." Cerulean quickly cradles Roger and rocks him, openly crying with a very relieved smile on her face. She rests her head against him and speaks softly.
"It's okay. I'm just so happy to have you back, Roger. I've been a total shipwreck worrying about you. But its okay, I'm not mad…I'm not mad."

>>729438
>>729439
"If you can, please do. He's must've been through so much all by himself," she says, ignoring the obviously bad wounds on herself.

 No.729443

>>729440
"S-Sever my soul That, uhm… t-that sounds awful. I do not feel ill, I just feel like I just woke up from a nightmare. Rather light-headed, too."

 No.729444

>>729437
Cloud gives a confused look at Mallea's sneer, then looks over to Cerulean, unsure of what's going on now.

 No.729445

>>729443

"It IS awful!" Cutlass says in an excited high-pitched squeal. "Isn't it great!?"

"Just light-headed?" she says, cocking her head, sounding a little disappointed. "Nightmarish is good though. It's progress," she nods. "Means I just have to get a few more good slices in like that and boom, there goes your soul off to the afterlife."

 No.729446

>>729444
>>729442
>>729439
Alder, not sure what fish like to drink, mixes a mild potion for Roger as Cerulean cradles him. Roger takes it in small sips, and the cuts, bruises and burns he bears start to disappear as a result. Though he looks like he's not the only one in need. Several of your party are badly wounded, missing chunks of flesh even, from the severity of that last attack.

 No.729447

>>729437
She almost looks a little disappointed as Roger recovers. She was hoping to probe its mind for information.

>>729441
She starts a little at the discovery, frowning. "Malice, Jealousy, Despair, and Spite… no, Regret… Curious." She mulls this over for a minute before continuing further down the hallway, a bit disturbed still from the attack, much more cautious than before. She assumes the others will fall in line.

 No.729448

>>729447
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.729449

>>729443
>>729446
Cerulean watches as Roger gets better right before her eyes. She looks to Alder with a look of pure, teary-eyed gratitude.
"Thank you. *sniff* Really." She then stands up, letting Roger and the fox rest on her back, giving them both pets.
"Don't worry guys…we'll be out of this mess soon," she says as she wills herself to walk, looking a little shaky and stumbly on her hooves.
"And then back to…to sunshine…and food and…and traveling around. Together."

 No.729450

>>729449
"You do not need to thank me… b-but, hush now and take a seat. Please." he says, trying to mend her wounds as well.
[1d10+1] Natural Remedy (Hoping for a crit?)

>>729444
Alder gives Cloud a stab with the medic's knife, mumbling a soft apology.
(Free!) Heal, Medic's Knife

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.729451

>>729445
"I-I would hope that you do not do that to me, though." the griffon says, squirming a little bit. "Are you… well, by the way? I believe you were hurt more."

 No.729452

[1d2]

>>729450
>succeeds

>>729445
>>729447
>>729449
>>729444
>>729443
Assured that the nearest threats are gone for now, Thessaly starts to lead the way further down the sweltering pipe-lined corridor. Mallea silently follows behind her, with the Cub in tow. Like before, the hall is full of curves, turns, winding side-paths that become dead ends. At times, your hooves brush against something in the water, but just when it seems like another attack is imminent, you feel again that it is nothing but debris – pieces of wood, fragments of broken machines, and the like.

The lack of natural light, and the claustrophobic pressure, combined with the thought-deadening heat… all of it wears away at your sense of time and space. You lose track of turns, corners rounded, even the passage of minutes.

That is, until the sound of a familiar voice jars you back to alertness. It sounds like the voices of Zerk and Paraiba. They're coming from some distance to the west, echoing again and again off the metal of the pipes that fill this convoluted place. There doesn't seem to be any direct path to them; you are at the mercy of the labyrinth of metal and pipes that surround you.

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729453

>>729450
Cloud turns from Cerulean's tearful reunion as Alder gives him a prod with his healing knife.
"What are you apologizing for?"
He questions.

 No.729454

>>729452
Cloud treks on as Thessaly leads this time, slightly regretting making himself larger as he has to take his walking slower to avoid the pipes and wires. But he's further up out of the muck at least. When they begin to hear Zerk and Paraiba, he turns his head side to side, ears flicking back and forth.
"You think that's really them, or a copy?"
He asks, still tracking where the voices might be coming from.
>Echolocation Perception [1d10+1]

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5

 No.729455

>>729453
"A-Ah. Well, I am always worried that using the knife is… uncomforting. When I stab it in, of course. Does it not look strange or unnerving?"

>>729452
"Ah… ah! I think I hear a couple of our friends!" [1d10] (Perception)

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.729456

>>729449
Cerulean is more than happy to comply…somewhat. She more slumps over onto the ground and breathes heavily as Alder does his thing.
"Ahh…right. Guess I've been taking a beating too. Sorry to hold you all up. I could go for a long nap when this is all said and done."

>>729452
Cerulean decides to stick close to everyone else as they trek on.
"Not gonna lie. I'mused to the dark and all, but this is some advanced darkness, ya know?"

 No.729457

>>729452
She is constantly on edge in this place after her horrific encounter, but keeps her head on her shoulders. As she hears the voices, she scowls, not trusting anything she sees or hears. She starts peering around through His Eye again for anything hidden, then keeps moving through the steel maze, occasionally marking a wall with magic to keep track of where she's been.
[1d10] Navigation

>>729454
>>729455
"Another trick," she growls. "I'd bet my soul on it."

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.729458

>>729455
"A little, yea. But I know you wouldn't just stab anypony without good reason, so I trust you when you start poking with that."

 No.729459

>>729451

"Oh…" Cutlass realizes Alder's discomfort. "Sorry, you'll be fine. Your soul will fully reattach itself over the course of a few hours… I think. You'll definitely feel better… eventually."

"I'm alright. A little hurt, but that happens when you're a pirate. We actually make a pretty good team," she grins. "I go overboard, and you heal me up. I feel strong when I felt with you!" she exclaims, before blushing and looking away.

"A-actually," she stammers, trying to move the conversation along. "I noticed that I feel like I have more endurance after I drink one of your potions. I have an idea. Next time, I'll drink your potion BEFORE I go overboard. That way, I can throw even MORE daggers before I lose my stamina."

>>729452

Cutlass raises an eyebrow at the sounds of the voices. "Did they even come in with us?"

[1d10] to hear what they're saying

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729460

>>729459
>>729457
>>729456
>>729455
>>729454
Thessaly leads the way using My Eye, and Alder's keen hearing helps keep you from going down any wrong paths as you clamber through the increasingly labyrinthine network of tunnels to try to find the source of the voices. Suddenly, as you round a corner, you end up hearing the voices getting loud enough to make out exact words.

Their source, it seems, is on the other side of a wall of pipes, thin enough to see around, but not enough for you to reach through. Between criss-crossing pipes, you see glimpses of scenes that could not possibly be real.

Between some of the pipes, you see the other half of your party – Ossie Schnitzel, Plague, Zerk, Paraiba, Pudding, Splendid and Mallea – fighting against the Immolatioknight. Between others, you see them fighting the Mischiefs. Only, Paraiba, Splendid and Zerk are missing from that fight, although Mallea is not. Between still others, you see another group – Zerk, Splendid, Ossie and Plague fighting against the Cub, with Mallea laying inert before them. Splendid screams in horror as the Cub sinks its teeth into Zerk's neck, breaking it in a single bite.

All of these scenes are juxtaposed and jammed up against one another, almost like a collection of stained glass shards.

If Mallea were here, she would be saying something about it.

In fact, it's odd that she isn't saying anything about it.

In fact, you look around.

She isn't anywhere to be seen.

>Paused

 No.729461

>>729458
"Alright. I will keep that in mind." the griffon says, bowing his head a little.

>>729459
"Ah! Yes, it does- it fortifies, in addition to healing. I suppose we do make a pretty good team, yes. Thank you for helping pull me back up, by the way." he says, smiling a little bit.

 No.729462

>>729461

"Oh… yeah," Cutlass says, not looking Alder in the face. She grows increasingly uncomfortable and red. "D-don't go forgetting it this time," she mumbles.

 No.729463

>>729462
"I will not, I promise. Apologies for forgetting, by the way." he says, rubbing at the back of his neck.
>>729460
>>729462
>free heal (1/round)

 No.729813

Last time on PirateQuest…

The party proceeded into the basement, a flooded and dark mess of twisting corridors, made treacherous by low ceilings, exposed wires, and a dark watery sludge climbing up to their knees. After wandering in for a time, they found three divergent paths – one filled with red-hot pipes, one mushy and soft with mold, and one choked by dust and exposed, broken metal, like a poorly-maintained ventilation system. It seemed that the basement housed lingering remnants of all of the Sins that had come alive in the manor above.

They chose to head through the corridor filled with burning pipes, and traversed a twisting labyrinth full of dead ends, tight turns, narrow passages, and so forth. Just as things seemed to be going alright, Alder was abducted from below, dragged into the sludge. Although the sludge only went up to their knees, the monster that grabbed Alder had the power to traverse the abyss below them. The party freed Alder, but before the monster could flee and plan another ambush, Cerulean gave chase. The monster changed tactics and attacked, using techniques from all members of the party – both the PCs themselves and their missing allies.

After a short battle, the monster was defeated, its body crumbling into darkness. In the center of its "corpse" remained Roger… but not Splendid. It was possible that other monsters like it still roamed these corridors.

Cerulean revived Roger with Alder's help, and the party pressed on…

 No.729814

>Everyone
Thessaly leads the way using My Eye, and Alder's keen hearing helps keep you from going down any wrong paths as you clamber through the increasingly labyrinthine network of tunnels to try to find the source of the voices. Suddenly, as you round a corner, you end up hearing the voices getting loud enough to make out exact words.

Their source, it seems, is on the other side of a wall of pipes, thin enough to see around, but not enough for you to reach through. Between criss-crossing pipes, you see glimpses of scenes that could not possibly be real.

Between some of the pipes, you see the other half of your party – Ossie Schnitzel, Plague, Zerk, Paraiba, Pudding, Splendid and Mallea – fighting against the Immolatioknight. Between other pipes, you see them fighting the Mischiefs in the Magical Research Lab. Only, Paraiba, Splendid and Zerk are missing from that fight, although Mallea is not. Between other pipes, you see another group – Zerk, Splendid, Ossie and Plague - fighting against the Cub in the Attic, with Mallea laying inert before them. Splendid screams in horror as the Cub sinks its teeth into Zerk's neck, breaking it in a single bite.

All of these scenes are juxtaposed and jammed up against one another, almost like a collection of stained glass shards.

If Mallea were here, she would be saying something about it.

In fact, it's odd that she isn't saying anything.

In fact, you look around.

She isn't anywhere to be seen.

 No.729815

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>729814
Cloud looks through the pipes as they start to spot the others, and multiples of them as well, fighting different creatures.
"Hey, the others are down here too!"
Cloud says as they spot the rest of the party, though seeing a second Mallea gives him pause.
"Wait… How can she be here, and there? And didn't we just deal with that thing?"
He questions, turning to the scene with the Cub, before growing pale as it clamps down on Zerk's neck. He looks from scene to scene, growing more worried, confused, and lost with each one.
"H-Have you seen this sort of thing before Mallea? …Mallea?"
He turns when there's no quick answer, seeing the witch is not among them anymore.
"Wh-Where'd she go?"

 No.729816

>>729814
She scowls as she sees the vision, frustrated by the neverending parade of illusions and obstacles. "Gan mhaith. Parlour tricks. Nothing but wretched parlour tricks…" As she notices Mallea missing, she spins around with uncharacteristic anger, looking through His Eye for any sign of what may have happened.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.729817

>>729814
Alder winces from a few of the sights he catches between pipes, and takes a few moments to try and collect himself. They're all so hard to look at and bizarrely split around, that it takes him a little while to make sense of all of it. He turns to look back at Mallea and ask her about what's going on, and chirps in surprise when she's gone!

"W-What happened? Where did she go? Did another beast in the ground take her?"
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.729818

>>729817
>Natural Remedy (Cerulean!) [1d10+1]

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.729819

>>729814

Cutlass squints suspiciously at what she's seeing. She uses Soul Sight on the Ossie that she's seeing in any of the scenes.

>Soul Sight on Ossie(?)

 No.729820

>>729813
>>729814
Cerulean tries to cover her eyes, hugging Roger and the fox close in case they were seeing the same thing.
"Why are we seeing this stuff?! I'm more than happy to leave now, Mr. House!"

 No.729821

>>729820
>>729816
>>729817
>>729818
>>729815
You check the nearby area as thoroughly as you can, but both Mallea and her alchemical bear are gone without any trace. Thessaly scans the area with My Eye, but there are no nearby trails of golden ripples, nor any nearby golden fragments. If Mallea had been taken by an Oddity, there would have remained some trace of its essence that My Eye could detect.

However, upon looking some distance to the southeast, Thessaly sees a tall, near-square shape, and flat, made entirely of golden light. It looks to be almost the outline of a door. From where you are, there is a corridor that heads south, before turning to the east at a sharp bend.

>>729817
In your search for clues, you happen to glance upward. In between a few thin, curving pipes is a small series of gaps, all showing different angles of the same scene. In that scene, you see yourself, Thessaly, Cloud, Cerulean, and Mallea. They are looking down at you, with roughly the same expressions that you wear now, as you react to Mallea's sudden disappearance.

But just as quickly as you get a glimpse, that particular scene vanishes, leaving only darkness between the pipes.

>>729819
You pick an Ossie and focus – the vision that comes to mind is faint and watery, but still feels as real as any of the other visions you've had with this Ability. It is, of course, the same vision that you had the last time that you used Soul Sight upon her. You pick another shot of Ossie among the myriad scenes around you – and again, you end up with the same vision, identical across the two of them.

Both "Ossies," even in the different, contradictory scenes, are as real as can be.

 No.729822

>>729821
"I… ehm, hmm? For just a moment, I saw… us. Up in the pipes above us, I saw all of us- with Mallea there, too." the griffon says, frowning in confusion.

 No.729823

>>729821
She turns around, trying not to show her intimidation as Mallea seemingly vanishes into thin air. She seethes quietly, and presses on.

Spotting the golden door at the end of the corridor, her curiosity gets the better of her. Morning for the others to follow, she warily approaches, pressing on towards it.

 No.729824

>>729822
"Another trick," she replies dismissively. "Try not to pay it any mind. The house itself would mislead us to our deaths."

 No.729825

>>729823
Motioning for the others*

 No.729826

>>729821
>>729822
"Yeah…now I see why that Obstinance guy would want to burn this house down now," Cerulean says as she follows along.

 No.729827

>>729821

"Interesting…" Cutlass mutters. "Not illusions. Which means that I'm still on the time loop theory."

>>729822

"What happened in what you saw? Was it something you recognized?"

>>729823

Cutlass raises an eyebrow and gets closer to where Thessaly is going, wanting to see what she's doing.

 No.729828

>>729827
"Like I said, it was us- with Miss Mallea here. Just for a moment, though. I believe I am quite fully done with this place." the griffon says, shivering a little.

 No.729829

>>729823
>>729821
As Thessaly moves on seemingly knowing where to go, Cloud follows after when no sign of Mallea comes up.

 No.729830

>>729828

"Tiiiime loops!" Cutlass says in a proud, certain, sing-song tone.

 No.729831

>>729827
>>729826
>>729823
>>729822
>>729829
You follow the labyrinthine corridor as it heads south for quite some time time, before turning eastward. As the corridor bends, you see two other paths that connect to it from the west, and from further to the southwest – those paths stem from the corridor filled with blooming mold and fungus, and the metal corridor choked with dust.

In the end, all three paths lead to this place.

You walk along through this lightless corridor. The ground beneath you starts to slowly incline upward, and the thick muck recedes the further you go in, giving way to cold, stone ground, marked and scuffed with many pacing, winding hoofsteps.

At the end of the hall, you see a wide set of ornate double doors. They are well-made, carved of fine cedar wood. After a moment's recollection, you see they are perfect replica's of the manor's front doors. The only difference is that these doors are scratched – and heavily so. Very small tally marks have been carved into its surface. Too many to count.

You test the handles, finding them unlocked.

With a push, they come open.

>>><<<

>>><<<
>>><<<
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koZRzhY321A

You find yourselves in a place familiar yet unfamiliar. It is a small, windowless square room, covered with a rug. The floor is wooden, and the walls are decorated with the occasional painting. Magitech lanterns line the walls, fine workings of quality glass and metal.

The room is fairly small. In your search of the manor so far, you haven't seen a room like it. You check the map, but there are no rooms that are as small as this one is. The only room it *might* be is the smoking room, but this room is much smaller than the smoking room.

In other words, it's a bit like someone made a small amalgam of all the rooms of the manor, an aggregate, trying to boil it down to its barest essence.

On the opposite side of the room is a door. Adjacent to it is an antique radio. It's identical to the one that Cerulean smashed earlier, down to the faintest detail. Quiet static murmurs from its speaker.

 No.729832

>>729831
>Note: The "front doors" that you find in the first half of the post are the front doors when viewed from inside the manor, not from the outside.

 No.729833

>>729831
Cloud walks along the path, wary for any more creatures that might grab them like the one that did Alder, or any sign of Mallea. Some relief comes as the path slopes up, lifting them from the muck and back to relatively dry ground, though it leaves a chill in his body now as his wet coat now is hitting the basement's air.
As they approach the ornate doors, Cloud looks around just to make sure they're still in the basement.
"Is this the way out?"
He questions as they pass through the door into the small, foreign room.
"I know Mallea said the manor gets all twisted up, but… this room just feels weird."

 No.729834

>>729833
>>729831
"Becareful with that door," Cerulean warns, following close, "there could be another one of those tar things waiting to do the weird stuff it did last time…."

 No.729835

>>729831
She does a slight double take as she notices the inherent strangeness of the room. She does what's become second nature at this point, and peers through His Eye for anything out of the ordinary. Or more out of the ordinary than usual.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.729836

>>729833
>>729834
"Back again, are we?"

 No.729837

>>729831

"Hmm," Cutlass contemplates. "If we or someone else keep arriving at the same door, what would happen if we removed the door? It seems to physically be the same door every time, considering the tallies."

Cutlass uses her telekinesis to tear the door off its hinges. [1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.729838

>>729837
The door does not budge, not even a little bit.

 No.729839

>>729834
"Tar thing?"
Cloud questions, looking to the door.
"Maybe we should… open it from a distance. Tie a rope around the doorknob and pull it from the hall."

>>729836
Cloud looks around, ears perking up to track the source of the voice.
"Who said that?"

 No.729840

>>729838

Cutlass observes the door and its hinges for screws. [1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.729841

>>729831
"This is, ehm… curious. As opposed to twisted, it is all mushed-together." the griffon says, frowning a little. He'll reach for his gun, just in case.

 No.729842

>>729836
Cerulean's eyes go wide and her ears fold back as flat as they can.
"I KNEW IT!" She suddenly yells out, looking for where the voice came from.
"Oh no, you got the jump on me last time, but not this time!"

 No.729843

>>729836
She jumps a little as the voice rings out, eyes darting around the room, horn swirling with dark energy. She's about to ask who the voice belongs to, but she already suspects their identity. "…Are you Auntzi?"

 No.729844

>>729842
>>729841
>>729839
>>729835
With the aid of His Eye, Thessaly ascertains the source of the sound. It is unseen to the rest of the party; she alone can see a vaguely feminine shape, or at least, feminine for the Krikral, composed entirely of dots of golden light. It is curving and flowing, with long, chitinous, segmented legs. A flurry of plates weave about the thorax, like the folds of an armored dress. The head is slender and smooth, but the jaws come apart, like the pincers of a scarab. Two narrow antennae flick from the top of her head.

Balancing on one foot, the figure perches atop the radio.


A soft, yet haughty voice comes from the speaker, playfully curling in the air. Thessaly can see golden shapes dancing, like leaves tossed in the wind, as the speaker continues.

"This is the furthest that this group has come, but you still haven't beaten the record. Even worse – the one who holds the record keeps managing to make it all by herself, each time. But, to your credit, you've come further than the last one. Though perhaps I say too much."

>>729843
"Well, I was. I've still got a long way to go to get back to my first state… but not nearly enough time to get there. We're… expected by someone outside."

>>729840
You find the hinges and screws of the door. If you narrow your focus to these, perhaps it would be far easier to disassemble it.

 No.729845

>>729844

Cutlass ignores the silly-voiced individual. She takes out her lockpick. She starts using it to unscrew the hinges on the door.

[1d10] with Master Thief if applicable

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.729846

>>729844
"Look, I don't care about your dumb game or records or anything anymore. I just wanna leave! This isn't fun anymore!"

 No.729847

>>729844
Alder lets out an angered huff, before saying "Some sort of game, then? And what do you mean, outside? Outside this… nightmare?"

 No.729848

>>729845

[1d10] hearing for some reason

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.729849

>>729844
"The furthest? What is this, some sort of game to you?"
Cloud says to the voice, still a bit worried.
"And you haven't said who you are either."

 No.729850

>>729845
>>729846
>>729847
>>729839
"Over there." She points on top of the radio. "She's the one that's doing it."

>>729844
"I think you'll find these mortals and I quite stubborn, demon," she retorts icily. "If a demon you still are." She feels in her pocket for the Seed, to see if it is vibrating. "What are you, then, if not Auntzi?"

 No.729851

>>729848
Ignoring what's going on behind you, you turn about and remove the hinges of the door behind you, and with a tug of telekinesis, you pull the doors back.

As you look at what lies beyond those doors, your head immediately starts to hurt. At first glance, it looks like an endlessly long hall of the manor, so long that you cannot see the end, is there. But even the smallest tilt of your head or tiniest movement of your eyes causes the pain to grow stronger. It's like perceiving hundreds of instances of that infinite hallway, all stacked on top of one another. You start to hear many voices – Alder's Cerulean's, Ossies, Plague's, even yours – snippets of past conversations you recall, and those you don't, all overlapping and talking over one another.


Behind you, the disembodied voice clears her throat with annoyance.

>>729846
…The voice gasps. She sounds… more than a little annoyed, but more than that, surprised.

"Then, I suppose that expedites things. There's a deal we can make."

>>729846
>>729849
>>729847
>>729850
"You know who I'm talking about. Obstinance. He promised to leave the house alone for a time… and time's growing short."

>Roll memory


"But, don't worry. It doesn't have to end with violence. Well, if I had more time, I could ensure that no matter how hard you tried, it couldn't end with violence. But even I don't have that kind of luxury anymore. You've… actually pushed me to my limits here. I'd much rather make a Contract with you than keep this fight of ours going."

>>729850
The seed is only faintly stirring for now – not enough to capture the being in front of you.

"Oddities and Demons alike feed on Karma. It changes them, defines them. Ordinarily, Demons are not so weak as to be altered by the Karma they devour. Only Oddities have such a weak existence that they are warped in that way. But, when Mallea tried to turn her summoning circle into a banishing circle partway through the ritual, I didn't manage to get away unscathed. I tried my best to break out of the circle – wouldn't any Demon, if she were to be sent back to her torments midway through her summoning? But Mallea was no pushover. A small part of me – what you alone can see now through that Eye – managed to break off from the rest of my body, and slip out of a break in the barrier that Mallea put up. I've been regaining my strength by feeding on the Karma in this manor… but now, reduced to this state, I am like a mere Oddity, being changed by the Karma I've devoured."

"In other words: Malice, Jealousy, Despair, Spite… and Regret. That is what I am reduced to."

 No.729852

>>729851

Cutlass turns to look at the door at the other end of the room to see if that door has similarly been taken off its hinges.

[1d10] for perception if you want it for whatever reason

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.729853

>>729850
"Who is?"
Cloud asks, looking at the radio.

>>729851
"Whoa, whoa. No, I'm not going into any contracts or making any deals, especially with all the weird stuff I've seen here."
Cloud says, getting back to a more stable state of mind.
"It sounds like you're getting a bit desperate, so I don't think you have much room to try and offer us contracts."
>Memory [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.729854

>>729852
It has not been. Unlike the double-doors to the west, the one to the east is only a single door, and remains closed.

 No.729855

>>729854
>>729849

"Hmm," Cutlass muses for a moment.

"Cloud, shrink this, please," Cutlass says, holding up the door with her telekinesis.

 No.729856

>>729851
"Ooooh no, I traveled with this prickly sea urchin enough to know how these deals go," Cerulean says with an annoyed expression and motion to Thessaly, "all these deals always have some kind of dumb drawback, all to solve some problem we could've fixed easily by doing it ourselves." Cerulean smacks her tail on the ground, gritting her teeth and showing them.
"And look, normally I'm not like this, but I'm hungry, I'm tired, my hooves hurt, and I'm really stressed out after nearly losing my two little buddies and having to put up with all of this! Any other time I'd offer you a hug, but right now, I just wanna go the heck to bed! So let us through cause I don't feel like smacking you, or anything else around, until that cat comes to torch this mansion!"

>Memory

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5

 No.729857

>>729855
>>729851
Cloud looks over to Cutlass from the voice. He gives her a confused stare, looking from her, to the door, and back, then shrugs.
"Alright."
He says, eye glowing as he attempts to shrink the door.
>Wax/Wane [Shrink Door] [1d10+2]

Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9

 No.729858

>>729853
"The demon Auntzi. Or what's left of her."

>>729851
"It sounds like there isn't much of you left, then. Good. It will make our job easier." She stares down the Oddity with scrutiny. "So what happened to the rest of your body?"

>>729851
>>729853
"No more contracts, creature," she agrees firmly. "We aren't here to bargain. We're here to be rid of you."
>Memory [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729859

>>729858
"…Who?"

 No.729860

>>729856
She blinks as she's described as a prickly sea urchin, seeming equal parts offended and slightly amused.

>>729859
She arches an impatient eyebrow. "Mallea summoned her in this place. But the invocation went wrong. An unfinished ritual, coupled with Mallea's subsequent experiments, leads to… well, all of this."

 No.729861

>>729857

"Thank you," Cutlass says in a business-like tone. She tucks the now-tiny door into a pleat of her dress.

 No.729862

>>729858
>>729851
"So, this is a fragment, then? Did the rest of you… I do not know, was the rest of you banished?" The griffon asks, before frowning "All of this is so confusing…"

 No.729863

>>729860
"Wait, the demon behind this whole mess is right here?"

>>729861
Cloud gives Cutlass a blank stare as she pockets the door.
"…What do you need that for?"

 No.729864

>>729856
>>729853
You recall what Mallea said earlier. The last time that Obstinance tried to exorcise the manor himself, Mallea heckled and bargained until he reluctantly agreed to give her three days to solve it without his help.

Three days.

So why is she acting like there's no time left?


>>729857
>>729855
"Can you… can you not? You're just making it more annoying for me. The more work I have to put in, the less time you get to try and solve this!"

>>729862
"The rest of me, I don't know what happened to it. I poured all my consciousness into this piece. The rest, if it hasn't dissolved, is floating out in the Aether, dissolving as we speak. I have been feeding upon the sins here to try and regain my power. Cosecha's, and Mallea's."

>>729852
>>729853
>>729856
>>729858
"…Ahem. Maybe you didn't hear me properly this time around. Maybe it's like when you hear something over and over, it loses meaning."

The playful amusement that was in the voice up until now starts to drain out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGqvpMQQ48o

"So let me speak more clearly. You're not in a position to deny this. I'm offering you an easy way to solve this. We both want to end this. I'm on your side, actually. No, scratch that. I'm more on your side than you are. Does that not make a lick of sense? Good, because neither did what you just said! Our interests are in line. I… need your help to get out of this. If Obstinance gets here before we can fix all this, we all go up in flames!"

She exhales a shaky sigh, and returns to her playful tone.

"Now, as we were talking about before, we can solve all this just by cutting a deal."

 No.729865

>>729864

The moment the radio speaks toward Cutlass directly, she jerks her head in its direction. An instant later, a dagger flies out of her dress straight into the speaker.

[1d10] single weapon on speaker, DC-1

"My ally told me to not listen to the radio," Cutlass states simply.

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.729866

>>729864
"And let me tell you again I'm not cutting any deals with demons."
Cloud says resolutely.
"I'm not gonna go get wrapped up in small print by some smooth talker. And you might go up in flames, but I have somepony out there waiting for me, and no demon or dog will keep me from getting back to her."

 No.729867

>>729863
She nods.

>>729864
"I'm already in debt to three different demons," she says stubbornly. I don't intend on dealing with a fourth. Especially when two of those have worked against you thus far. Besides, if you need our help so badly, why all the mirages and mummery? We could have ended this a long time ago."

 No.729868

>>729864
Cerulean growls angrily and slams her tail just next to the speaker.
"Shut up shut up SHUT UP! I heard you, but I don't care! Now let us out or I WILL swing for wherever the hell you are next time!"

>Intimidation tactics

[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.729869

>>729864
"I-I am not particularly keen on any more deals, no." the griffon says, huffing angrily

 No.729870

>>729869
>>729868
>>729867
>>729866
>>729865
"Okay, maybe I got a little carried away at the start. Maybe I thought I could siphon enough power off the souls that Mallea brought into the basement before Obstinance got here. Maybe I spent a little more power than I thought I would to try and set up a loop that would reset each time a certain condition was met. Do you know how–"

Suddenly, Cutlass' dagger stabs into the speaker. Sparks and sputters fly out, and the radio falls to the ground, smashing on the wooden floor.

But then, a second later, the entire process reverses, even down to the dagger seeming to fly backwards into Cutlass' dress.

"I'm TALKING HERE!"

The voice clears her throat.

"As I was saying… with the power that I took from feeding off of Mallea's and Cosecha's sins, I set up a loop, a time rewind, in the manor. At first, I could only activate it at night. Magic is far stronger at night, after all, and Time is extremely resistant to being messed with. At first, it was just Mallea in the manor. I kept having to skim off of her soul each night that she tried to explore the manor and exorcise me. But when you all showed up, it presented an opportunity. With more souls to take from, I got a little greedy. I reconfigured the rewind so that it could continue to be in effect even during the daytime. That let me keep playing with you over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, gaining from your souls each time.

All the while, Time kept passing outside the manor."


It is at this moment that Auntzi is stunned into silence by Cerulean's outburst. She remains quiet for quite some time afterward. When she speaks again, her voice has gotten shaky, losing vitality.

"If I undo the loop now, I don't know how Time will react. Time is… tricky. She doesn't like being played with. She's very protective of this whole 'cause and effect' thing she's got going on. This whole place could come apart. If I had more power, brought on by a Contract, I could undo it a little more safely. But maybe you don't believe me. Maybe talk won't do here. That's okay… we can do it like this.

"Hey. Do you know how long you've been in here? If you don't…"

The door to the east clicks open. Beyond it is a long hall, resembling that of the entryway to the manor.

"…Then keep going. And if you still don't want a deal by the end of it… well, we'll play it by ear."

 No.729871

>>729870

Cutlass was already trying to open the other door from the moment she threw the knife. When it wouldn't open of normal accord, she started trying to take it apart like the last.

However, when the door finally opens, seemingly of its own accord, Cutlass walks through it, not saying anything to the voice on the radio.

 No.729872

>>729870
She fixes Auntzi with an icy glare. "If you think that after the living nightmare you've put us all through that we'd do anything to please you, then you have another thought coming. But, I'll indulge you, because I'm curious. What is your proposal?"

 No.729873

>>729870
"Then maybe you shouldn't have been messing with this time stuff in the first place you stupid idiot!" Cerulean says as she stomps on out, mumbling all manner of other obscenities under her breath…though 'obscenities' for her are more like young filly/colt insults than adult profanity.

 No.729874

>>729870
Cloud pauses as the demon says time has continued on like normal outside the manor.
"You're saying it's been more than just one night out there? Chiu's been out there, alone, for a day or more?!"
He says, angered and offended at being toyed around with by this demon. He looks to see Cutlass and Cerulean leave down the hall, and moves to follow them.

 No.729875

>>729870
"Perhaps that is why Mallea was so worried? Maybe it is much closer to Obstinance coming than we thought… w-wait, where is Miss Mallea? Is she still here?"

 No.729876

>>729875
(Staying since Autumn missed it in cytube)

 No.729877

>>729874
>>729873
>>729871
You go down the corridor, a long hall that itself seems to operate like a kind of loop. The paintings and statues that line the walls are arranged in a repetition of their own, looping in a pattern with every few meters that you walk. It is not until you repeat this cycle a certain amount of times that you eventually come within sight of a door.

The door opens without any resistance, revealing beyond it – a small gray hallway. Dingy, rundown, the paint long since faded and chipping from the walls. This small intermediary hallway t is, seemingly, completely pointless. Another door waits at the end of it. And you open it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjcazbvU1VQ

Beyond that door is a vast stone room. It looks like it would belong in the basement.

Dozens.

Hundreds.

Maybe more.

Mallea's bodies lay there. Some are skeletons. Others are in various stages of the process of decomposition, rotting away. Others seem almost freshly dead, the spirit looking like it hasn't yet left them. No two bodies seem to have been killed in the same way. Some are burned, others claimed by mold. Some have their throats choked with dust, spilling out of their mouths. Others are dark and bloated, having drowned in black tar.

Suddenly, behind you, you start to hear a knocking.

"Hello? Cutlass! Cerulean? Are you there?"

It's Mallea's voice.

"I don't know what happened, but I lost sight of you amid the pipes. I ended up with Ossie and the others – but then they were gone, after a wrong turn. I saw you just now, but the door's locked. Hello? You hear me, don't you?"

>>729875
>>729872
"Get Mallea to relinquish the manor – and all its hanging-on resentments – to me. This place is filled with sins, hers and Cosecha's.

"Malice: Cosecha's against Mallea for stepping into her relationship, Mallea's against Cosecha for abusing Palafox.
"Jealousy: Cosecha's attempts to cling to Palafox, Mallea's growing love for him.
"Despair: Cosecha's dwindling hope from Palafox's failed attempts to heal her, Mallea's thoughts of going back to the solitary life if she healed Cosecha for Palafox.
"Spite: Cosecha's against Mallea, Mallea's against Cosecha.
"And finally, Regret: Cosecha regretted ever letting Mallea under her roof. Mallea regretted letting Palafox die in that accident."

"These sins have been gnawing at Mallea's psyche because she refuses to let it all go. Her struggle with them has defined her for over a year now. Letting them go would change her drastically. Give it all to me. Let me eat my fill. And in exchange for that and my freedom I'll make sure Obstinance goes without so much as a claw stepping on these grounds."

 No.729878

>>729877
"I can understand needed to relinquish one's sins, but allowing a demon to eat them instead hardly sounds like a good thing… Miss Thessaly? W-What exactly should we do?"

 No.729879

>>729877

Cutlass wretches at the probably horrible smell of the room. When Mallea knocks on the door, Cutlass turns to it.

"I can open the door," Cutlass says slowly. "But, before I do, I just want you to know that I was definitely right. Usually, I'd say that as if I was gloating. But, right now, it's more to mentally prepare you for what you're about to see."

"The time loop theory is definitely 100% correct. So… before I open the door, I just want you to remember that. None of this is you. Just previous versions of you. Okay?"

She waits for an answer before opening the door.

 No.729880

>>729877
>>729879
"Cutlass, I don't mean to be mean to you when I say this, but right now I really don't care was is correct or wrong. I just wanna get out of here, go back to the ship, and PRAY I never have to come near this place again. So please, just open the door," Cerulean says, progressively speaking through clenched teeth as she spoke.

 No.729881

>>729880

"And just show her a pile of her own dead body? Have some consideration!" Cutlass objects, shocked that she's the one having to say such a thing.

 No.729882

>>729881
Cerulean slowly squints her eyes at Cutlass, trying her best to portray a look of being tired of all this shit.

 No.729883

>>729877
She scoffs. "That sounds like it benefits you more than us. I don't think so." She paces back and forth before an idea strikes her. "…The demon I made a pact with. Seravelum. He demanded I slay someone in his name. …There's not much left to slay, but I'll take what I can get. Plus, all these sins you've accumulated. Galutisons will be thankful for them being cleansed."

She starts rifling through the Liber Animarum, trying to find information both on entities like what Auntzi has become, and on how to summon Seravelum. She's not sure if she'll go through with it, but she's hoping she'll be able to bluff her way through this at least.
[1d10] Insight if needed

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.729884

>>729877
Cloud walks, and walks, and walks. The hallway goes on forever, but Cloud is still fully determined now to escape this manor and this demon. He continues on through the door, the small hallway, and the net door, only stopping when the mass of Mallea's corpses comes to them. He feels sick, seeing the dead bodies, having to keep his mouth shut at the sight of them, and only stopping from being sick right then and there from the notion to keep moving as they can't waste any more time. He takes a few steps back from the bodies, then turns as he hears the knocking.
"Don't come in here!"
He shouts as he hears it's Mallea's voice.
"It's us, but you really shouldn't open that door!"

 No.729885

>>729884
>>729880
>>729879
Mallea says nothing all throughout that preparation, waiting until the end before she finally speaks. "Alright… open the door."

Then, when Cutlass opens the door, Mallea steps through, before stopping dead in her tracks at the sight before her. Her face falls, turning a pale white. She staggers a little from the shock of it. You see countless translucent shapes surrounding her. Each one of those shapes is an outline of Mallea, each one of them in the midst of some different reaction to the sight. Every one of them an echo of a loop in which she made it this far, either on her own, or with you, or with the other half of the party.

"…I don't know why I felt so surprised just now," Mallea says, her voice flat and hushed. "Yes… it's all coming back to me, just as it must have in previous times. It always ends this way, doesn't it?"

>>729883
>>729878
His summoning sigil is a hexagram, and he requires blood and wine to summon. Preferably, taken by force.

"You can't be serious," the remnants of Auntzi protest, growing desperate. "I kept you here for longer than you know. Do you think this was your first trip through the manor? Your second? Your third, even? I'll undo anything you try… you're shooting yourself in the hoof if you keep that up. Look, why don't I agree to postpone our battle? I won't leave until you give me permission. Just don't let that Virtue get any closer to the manor than you can help it!"

 No.729886

>>729885
Cloud steps over, ready to give Mallea some support if she needs when she looks about ready to fall over from the sight.
"You've… seen this before?"
He asks cautiously.

 No.729887

>>729885
"For being so sure of your abilities, you do sound quite desperate." Alder comments, before looking to Thessaly and cocking his head to the side.

>>729883
"S-So, ehm… you are the expert, Miss Thessaly. What is the plan?"

 No.729888

>>729885
>>729886

"I see," Cutlass muses. She looks around the room for any sign of a struggle. Or any sign of what might have killed the past Malleas. Though, she's fairly certain of the answer.

[1d10] for perception

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729889

>>729885
"If you're so powerful, why are you so afraid?" she goads. "And why not just reduce Obstinance to atoms? Why not just put us in another cycle before we can do something harmful to you?" As she speaks, she pulls out a piece of chalk and starts drawing a hexagram on the floor of the room.

>>729887
"Destroy this wretch," she replies as she draws, "however we can. Her bark is far, far worse than her bite."

 No.729890

>>729889
"I-It will not hurt Mallea if we do so, yes? All of this has been very confusing, and I would not want to lose any of our friends."

 No.729891

>>729890
"She's been feasting on Mallea's soul like a leech for who knows how long. I don't think she could do any more damage to her than she already has."

 No.729892

>>729885
"It doesn't have to. We can make something else happen that doesn't end with you dying…again?"

 No.729893

>>729886
"I know I have, now," Mallea says. She looks down at herself as the translucent echoes of herself act out her realizations from past cycles.

>>729888
It doesn't look like most of the fighting took place in here. Based on the wounds of the corpses, each one of these iterations of Mallea died somewhere in the manor, fighting one of the four Sins. It seems they were dropped off here for convenience's sake, based on what Auntzi's remnants said earlier about how Time is resistant to being manipulated. If Time "doesn't like" being rewound, Auntzi might have to spend a good deal of power forcing it. Perhaps by cutting corners on certain things, she can get away with spending less power.

>>729892
Mallea nods slowly. It's all she can do at this point, quietly trembling as she is now.

>>729887
>>729889
"Undo."

In an instant, Thessaly's hexagram erases itself; Thessaly feels a dreadful sense of being tossed into a whirling current, buffeted on all sides by churning water, as she is forced to drag a piece of slowly elongating chalk across the ground. The chalk drawing of the hexagram zooms right back into the chalk piece.

Auntzi's remnants chuckle.

"Okay. Maybe I have a lot more to gain by playing nice here than I let on. All Demons stand to gain from signing Contracts! But, so do you. After all, the Oath-Words go both ways. Just negotiate some terms for me! Sweeten your end of the deal! I'm a Demon of eternity, of fertility, of bounty, of harvest! You can get all kinds of cool things if you just play along with me! If you make me swear, I'll have to abide by them or suffer a curse!

"Or you could keep on trying to pick a fight and have a very, very unpleasant experience," she says deadpan. "Pick wisely! And by that I mean make a Contact and ask for all kinds of good stuff!"

 No.729894

>>729893

"Well, there's no reason it has to end here this time," Cutlass points out to Mallea. "You enlisted our help precisely so you can change things. And now, things are changing. So, let's find a way to end this."

Cutlass looks around for some other door to go through. [1d10] if necessary

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.729895

>>729893
"You didn't answer my questions," she replies. "And I think you'll find my will equal to yours. I'm not going to say it again. I'm not here to bargain."

She starts drawing a hexagram again, and spills some blood with her dagger when it's done, after which she looks around for some wine, or anything approximate.
[1d10] Perception
>-1 hit due to spilled blood

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.729896

>>729894
There's no other exits that you can see. There may be something on the other side of the corpses, but that'd involve getting around their multitudes.

 No.729897


 No.729898

>>729893
>>729895
Alder looks at the un-doing of Thessaly's preparations, before letting out a nervous warble and saying "Maybe he is not as limited as he seems? Or, he can only un-do so much?" the griffon says, looking around a little. Maybe if he can help Thessaly spot out some wine, they can get out of here.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729899

>>729896

Cutlass uses her telekinesis to push the corpses aside and walks through the little walkway she makes for herself.

[1d10] telekinesis

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729900

>>729898
>>729895
You don't find any wine in the small room, but perhaps Alder may be able to make something, or perhaps has some equivalent solution among his potion reagants.

>holding off on dialogue response until your next action here

 No.729901

>>729893
"We should leave here then. I don't think there's much we can get from… all this."
Cloud says, more with concern on moving Mallea away from the room full of her. But then he grumbles.
"But the only way is just back to that demon. We're stuck in a dead end…"
He thinks for a moment, trying to figure out what to do next.
"Mallea. If this stuff came back to you, have you ever fought that demon before during any of these nights? Auntzi?"

 No.729902

>>729899
A wave of the corpses' odor hits you, leaving you completely unable to get a grip with magic, let alone move them.

 No.729903

>>729900
>>729898
"Hm. Alder, you're something of an alchemist, aren't you. Would you be able to cobble together a wine substitute for this?"

 No.729904

>>729902

Cutlass groans before gritting her teeth. There's no point but her own vanity to not touching these corpses. She just walks over them. Though, each step is repulsive to her. She must know what's on the other side.

[1d10] perception

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.729905

>>729901
Mallea rubs her forehead, leaning against the doorframe. Her legs tremble as she tries to inch backward from the grotesque sight of her past failures and deaths. "I'll… see what I can remember. So much is coming back to me all at once. Countless failed attempts, so many near-replicas of one another, apart from small details…"

>>729904
Nearly slipping a few times because of unspeakable things underneath your hooves making the climb slippery, slick and treacherous, you manage to make the trek to the top of the corpse heap. Behind them, you see the edge of another door, though it is currently inaccessible with how buried it is.

 No.729906

>>729900
>>729903
"A-Ahm, shoot. Let me see what I can manage." the griffon mutters, looking through his pack. He uses alcohol in some of his curatives, or maybe he can whip something together… maybe.
[1d10] Alchemical roll (+1 if you'd allow it to be a natural remedy roll?)

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.729907

>>729905

Cutlass groans through her gritted teeth as she pushes aside the corpses with her telekinesis.

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.729908

>>729905
>>729907
"I can imagine… Take your time, we're not going anywhere anyways."
Cloud gives Mallea some space, then turns to see Cutlass climbing the mountain of bodies.
"What are you doing?!"

 No.729909

>>729906
>>729895
Auntzi forces out a laugh as Alder starts to whip together a makeshift alcohol using various chemicals in his bag, and Thessaly gets a taste for bloodletting in the middle of the floor. It couldn't be more obvious that there's some kind of summoning going on. Through the Eye, Thessaly can see Auntzi's golden shape swinging its head from side to side in a forced performance of a carefree schoolfilly.

"I really really really really REALLY really REally really really reALLY really really would like you to reconsider thiiiiiis," Auntzi's remnants sing along. "I promise you, I will be as annoying as possible to fight! I am full of Spite and Malice after allllll~! You're just better off agreeing to the– JUST MAKE A CONTRACT WITH ME, YOU FUCK–silly gooses! Golly gosh gOD DAMN IT YOU CAN'T BE THIS DUMB! Last warning! I really mean it this time unlike the last three!"

>>729907
>>729908
Cutlass slides to the bottom of the pile of corpses, getting her skirt turned up in the process. Thankfully, Mallea tosses a hoof over Cloud's one good eye before anything unseemly can happen.

 No.729910

>>729908

"You said there's nowhere else to go, but there's a door over here!" Cutlass calls back.

 No.729911

>>729909
>>729908

Cutlass lets out a yelp as her skirt turns up. She quickly pulls it back down and fixes her dress up, her face bright red. "Nobody say anything," she grumbles.

Back to corpse moving! [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.729912

>>729909
Cerulean hears about a door and opts to help move some of the corpses.

[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.729913

>>729910
>>729909
>>729911
"There is?"
Cloud repeats, until Cutlass slide back down and then his vision suddenly goes black.
"H-Hey!" He says out of the sudden lack of sight, "I'm not going to stare at that when I have Chiu waiting for me."
He says in his defense, though leaving Mallea's hoof where it is to avoid any annoying complaints from Cutlass.
Once it's clear, he looks to the sea of bodies. It repulses him, and sends a chill through his body at the very thought, but if there is a way on past here it has to be taken. He looks down to Mallea.
"Do you want any help with this?"
He asks, offering to carry her with his current larger size if Mallea finds it too difficult to walk over herself. Either way, he goes to walk past the bodies to clear the door.
>Clear [1d10+1]

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6

 No.729914

>>729906
>>729909
"Ah, grand. Thank you, Alder." She takes the flask of alcohol and starts swirling it, looking down at the summoning

>>729909
"Why aren't you rewinding it?" she asks with her own mock innocence, as she opens the Liber to Seravelum's page and places it in the middle. "Surely you're not afraid, are you?"

"The other demons I've consorted with, they all led me to this, you know. Ragalaseab gave me his Eye, to see through your cycles. Galutisons gave me the means to devour your Sins. And Seravelum gave me a means to destroy you, and settle my debt."

"And if we don't, and you undo all of this, then Obstinance will." She looks up at Auntzi with a dispassionate glare. "Rewind all you want. It won't buy you a second of time. We're all on the same sinking vessel."

She uncorks the flask and pours it over the open book.

 No.729915

>>729913

"Oh, please," Cutlass responds in a huff, her face still red. "As if my young, unspoiled body isn't better to look at than your old, used girlfriend."

 No.729916

>>729914
"Ah! I-I am happy to help, as long as you… d-do whatever it takes to get rid of this thing." the griffon says, shuddering a little bit.

>>729909
"Please, do continue. I have a feeling that Miss Thessaly was right about you." he says, mulling over the phrase in his head. 'Bark is worse than its bite'. That one's pretty clever, actually!

 No.729917

>>729915
"You wish your body was even a tenth of hers," Cloud scoffs, "And yes, her more mature and full body is far better than some spoiled pirate's. And it's only been used by me, so that's not even an insult."

 No.729918

>>729911
You manage to find enough space on the sides of the room to push aside a few of the top layers of corpses. You get about a third of the door free, after which you give it an attempt with your magic – only to realize that it opens toward you, instead of away. You'll have to clear away much more to get any progress made.

>>729912
The room's foul odor keeps you from being able to approach the numerous corpses. The Fox, taking the weak Roger with him, steps away to get free of the filth.

>>729913
>>729911
>>729912
>>729914
Mallea shakes her head to Cloud, instead preferring to slump against her small armored bear.

Then, just as Cloud helps to get the corpses covering the door down to about half their height, they all hear a grand sigh from Auntzi's remnants as Thessaly pours out Seravelum's favorite unction.

"You people just do not learn," Auntzi says. "I TRY and I tryyyyyy to give you a good deal! I tried everything! I thought you'd be constrained if I gave you no options! Pirates like freedom, don't they!? Pirates like bargains, don't they!? But you just HAVE to have it all YOUR way, regardless of WHO ELSE has to hurt because of YOUR selfishness.

"Okay, then! I give up!" she shouts.

In a spark of red lightning, and a cloud of red mist – Seravelum's long, furred form starts to rise from the circle. He rises from a crouching position, stretching back and puffing out his chest.

"Back AGAIN, bitches!" he declares. "So what did I–"

"Pause," Auntzi says. Through the Eye, Thessaly sees her golden form touch Seravelum from behind.

Seravelum is now completely immobile; the lightning and mist that surround him are frozen too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QxCn7p6nSY

"Warned you!" Auntzi says.

>Paused

 No.729919

>>729916
You see nothing, but you feel a childish demon sticking their tongue out at you.

 No.729920

>>729917

"That is until the…" Cutlass stifles a laugh. "Baby."

 No.729921

>>729920
"And?"

 No.729922

>>729921

"Do you really think her body will ever be the same again?" Cutlass says with a condescending laugh.

 No.729923

>>729922
"No, it won't," Cloud says simply, "It'll be even better."

 No.729924

>>729923

Cutlass bursts out into laughter. "Wh-what?" she stammers through her laughter. "Do you understand how giving birth WORKS?"

 No.729925

>>729924
"Yes I know how birth works," Cloud says in a mocking tone, "And I also know how it'll affect the rest of her body. But I guess a child like you wouldn't understand adult tastes."

 No.729926

>>729925

Cutlass blushes as she understands. She has no response.

 No.729927

>>729926
Cloud smirks as Cutlass is left speechless.
"And that's why she's leagues ahead of you."

 No.729928

>>729927
>>729926
Somewhere, out in the middle of something completely different, Chiu sneezes.

 No.730260

Last time on PirateQuest…

Our Crew left behind the corridors of steaming pipes, rot and mold, and dust-choked metals, and proceeded into a long, dark hall, the end of which resembled the front hallway of the manor, when viewed from within. They opened the double-doors at the end, and came into a small lounge, a composite of the manor's many rooms. There awaited the radio that Cerulean had destroyed earlier in the Rec Room, repaired as if it had never been damaged.

From the radio's speaker came the elegant, playful voice that had bemoaned their summoning of Regalaseab: Auntzi, a Demon of eternity, harvest and bounty. She attempted to treat with the party, offering them a temporary alliance against Obstinance, the exorcist, who she claimed was coming any second now to immolate the manor, killing them all with it. This contradicted what Mallea said about Obstinance agreeing to give her three days to solve this problem without his help. As far as Cerulean and Cutlass knew, this was only their second time through the manor, and for the others whose memories had been claimed by the black tar in the Magical Research Lab, it was only their first time.

But the growing desperation in Auntzi's voice as they continually refused seemed to indicate that she was indeed telling the truth.

More information spilled out of Auntzi as she tried to cajole them into an agreement: Back when Mallea and Palafox first attempted to summon Auntzi, Cosecha's interruption offered Auntzi a chance to escape the sealing circle and act on her own. She nearly got out, but Mallea's banishment spells nearly destroyed her in the process. Auntzi managed to slip out a little piece of her soul through a crack in the circle, while the rest of her was banished to some unknown realm. That little fragment was weak, vulnerable, no more powerful than an Oddity. Like an Oddity, she had to regain her power by feeding upon the lingering negative emotions that clung to the house as part of the struggle between Cosecha and Mallea.

After Palafox's death, Auntzi's power continued to grow, Mallea grew more and more cognizant of her presence. To keep Mallea from successfully exorcising her, Auntzi established a small-scale, one night Time loop in the manor. At night, Auntzi would lure Mallea into exploring the manor, killed her, and parasitically siphoned a little Power from her Soul. Then, when morning came, the loop would reset things to how they were the previous day: The manor would no longer be distorted and warped, and Mallea would be alive once more.

And, once Our Crew entered the manor to help Mallea, Auntzi just continued the plan, adding their Souls to her plate.

 No.730261


This plan had a number of drawbacks, however. Time is resistant to manipulation. Auntzi expended almost all the Power she drained from Mallea's Soul in order to reset the loop, coming away with only marginal gains with each cycle. To cut corners and save on Power expenses, Auntzi allowed many things to slip past the loop without being reset. Tally marks on the walls, left-behind notes, remnants of past battles – all of the marks that led Our Crew to this point were vestiges of previous loops.

And, as Cerulean, Cloud and Cutlass discovered, among those marks were corpses.

In a small room further down the hall from the lounge were Mallea's bodies. Dozens. Hundreds. Perhaps even more. Every single one of them was a corpse, bearing wounds that suggested which Oddity had killed Mallea on that particular attempt.

And just as they had discovered Mallea's endless failures, Auntzi snapped, provoked to violence by Thessaly's mischievous, bold provocations, and her summoning of Seravelum.

The battle for the manor had begun once more… for perhaps the thousandth time. And this time, there just might be a time limit.

 No.730262

>Cutlass
You manage to find enough space on the sides of the room to push aside a few of the top layers of corpses. You get about a third of the door free, after which you give it an attempt with your magic – only to realize that it opens toward you, instead of away. You'll have to clear away much more to get any progress made.

>Cerulean

The room's foul odor keeps you from being able to approach the numerous corpses. The Fox, taking the weak Roger with him, steps away to get free of the filth.

>Everyone

Mallea shakes her head to Cloud, instead preferring to slump against her small armored bear.

Then, just as Cloud helps to get the corpses covering the door down to about half their height, they all hear a grand sigh from Auntzi's remnants as Thessaly pours out Seravelum's favorite unction.

"You people just do not learn," Auntzi says. "I TRY and I tryyyyyy to give you a good deal! I tried everything! I thought you'd be constrained if I gave you no options! Pirates like freedom, don't they!? Pirates like bargains, don't they!? But you just HAVE to have it all YOUR way, regardless of WHO ELSE has to hurt because of YOUR selfishness.

"Okay, then! I give up!" she shouts.

In a spark of red lightning, and a cloud of red mist – Seravelum's long, furred form starts to rise from the circle. He rises from a crouching position, stretching back and puffing out his chest.

"Back AGAIN, bitches!" he declares. "So what did I–"

"Pause," Auntzi says. Through the Eye, Thessaly sees her golden form touch Seravelum from behind.

Seravelum is now completely immobile; the lightning and mist that surround him are frozen too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QxCn7p6nSY

"Warned you!" Auntzi says.

 No.730263

>>730262
"I, hmm… i-is there a way to un-pause him that we could manage, perhaps? Anything that worries Auntzi might be good here."

 No.730264

>>730262
She blinks in slight surprise as Auntzi freezes Seravelum like he's nothing. "Hm. That changes my thinking. A shame it won't stop the inevitable."

"So what will you do now, leech? Are you going to kill us? You may find us difficult to break. If it were up to me, we would settle this the old fashioned way. No more smoke and mirrors. But it's plain to see you are a craven little parasite by nature. So that won't happen, will it. No matter. I will think of something. We have all the time in the world, after all."

She doesn't give Auntzi much regard, focusing instead on the frozen Seravelum, trying to see if there's a way to unfreeze him.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.730265

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>730262
Cloud looks back from the room as they hear Auntzi's frustrations, feeling they might not have much time left. He quickly turns to the pile, stepping to the side of it and pushes against it with his whole body, using his enlarged form to shove the remaining bodies away from the door.
>Shove [1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.730266

>>730262
"Aww yuck. All these smell too dead for me," she says with a scrunch of her nose. She nods to the fox as if to tell him 'good job.'

 No.730267

>>729927

"Wh-whatever," she says in an attempt to be dismissive.

>>730262

"This is the most surreal thing I've done in my life," Cutlass comments as she clears away the pile of corpses of the same person.

[1d10] for corpse clearing with telekinesis

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.730268

>>730265
The decay and rot of death has not been kind to the corpses, as you can plainly feel with each squishy, wet push into the heaps. You clear away about another third of the pile, leaving only one more great mound before the door, but the nauseating smell makes your eyes water, and you are gasping for air before you can finish the job.

>>730263
>>730264
You examine Seravelum up and down, and note a translucent bronze Aura surrounding him. There doesn't seem to be any visibly apparent mechanism for breaking this Ability within the Aura.

However… her earlier words start coming back to you. All through her half-begging "negotiations," she seemed very concerned with Power. Gaining Power, conserving Power, spending as little Power as possible… almost as if it were money, and as if she were living paycheck-to-paycheck. The key, it seems, lies there.

"You know, I do tend to notice that people reconsider a lot of bad decisions after you beat them within an inch of their life. Not sure if it's just a coincidence or if there's a connection there," Auntzi's disembodied voice laughs. "Either way, I think I'll go all in. Figure another death or two might get you to see the light if I make it quick. After all, it worked wonders for the OTHER half of your party!"

The air begins to shimmer and stir… bronze Aura starts to bubble up from below, stinging your hooves like the sun-blasted sand of the desert.

[2d7]
[2d7]

>>730266
>>730265
>>730267
As Cloud clumsily tries to clear away the bodies, Cutlass miscalculates some basic physics, and ends up pulling on a corpse that's already got momentum in her direction. In short, a body tackles her to the ground, pressed up against her face.

The Fox steps back and barks a wave of fire at the remaining bodies, trying to clear them out as Cloud starts retching from their dreadful stench.

[1d10+2]

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

 No.730269

>>730268

"Getitoffgetitoffgetitoffgetitoff," Cutlass squeals over and over as she pushes the body off of her.

[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.730270

>>730268
Cloud takes a few steps back, shuddering from the feel of the corpses while coughing for the lack of fresh air in this room.
"I think this is the worst thing I've done."
He says, noting to take a very hot shower when they finish this. He blinks his eye to clean away the tears, focusing on the remaining pile to shrink them down to give himself a break from moving them physically.
>Wax/Wane [Shrink Corpses] [1d10+2]

Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8

 No.730271

>>730268
"Good idea. Keep it up!" Cerulean then hops in to lend a hand by tail slamming the pile to the side the best she can.

>Slam!

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

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10 / Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4

 No.730272

>>730268
>>730264
Alder hums a little, before cocking his head to the side and looking to Thessaly. "Perhaps we can force them to spend more power? he suggests, before yelping and flapping his wings to lift himself off of the Aura.
Flight [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.730273

>>730268
As bronze Aura begins to roil around her, she tries to step out of its way.
[1d10] Dodge

"I wonder," she calls to Auntzi, "how many times have we died in this place? Two? Thirteen? A hundred? And what has it availed you, I wonder, save for perdition. Of all the demons I have dealt with in my lifetimes, you might just be the most pathetic. Why, look at you. You're not much more than a flea." She keeps talking in an attempt to goad Auntzi into attacking more, making a marked point of standing her ground, refusing to attack with magical energies in case she somehow grows stronger from it.
[1d10] Taunt

>>730272
She nods. "Let her tire," she says in a low voice.

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

 No.730274

>>730269
You manage to get the corpse off.

>>730270
>>730271
Between Cloud's magic, Cerulean's tail strikes, and the Fox's fire blasts, the door is cleared at last.

>>730272
>>730273
As you attempt to make haste, the bronze Aura below you suddenly darkens, turning into a deep black tar, which spreads across the floor like a flash fire. The room's furniture and decor starts to sink and float about within. While you struggle to get your legs unstuck, two forms rise from below, striking you both in the gut.

>You both lose 3 Hits


>>730272
You look down as the wind flees your lungs, and get a better look at the rising body, emerging from the tar: An abominable beast of shadows, with gold-glowing eyes, made all of melting tar. It is hunched and fat, a mutated wretch. Something about the buffalo-like body reminds you of Zerk, and the shape of the almost feminine head reminds you of Paraiba – a wretched amalgam of your crew's thieves.

The Wretched Thief strikes at you with a headbutt.

[1d10]

>>730273
Like Alder, you are able to see your shadowy attacker more clearly as it rises from the deep tar. At first, you think you might be seeing double. Like the one that struck Alder, this one's head seems to resemble Paraiba's strongly, yet it rises upon two legs instead of four, stumbling across the ground with oversized arms, a malformed, sad, gorilla-like aberration, a cruel parody of the earnest Vice-Captain Plague.

The Thieving Captain strikes at you with a punch.

[1d10]

As you keep on yapping, you hear a grating of insect mandibles. Suddenly, the golden glow flashes before you, even without the use of My Eye. A gold-and-green striped insect Demon suddenly bursts into the world, her sharp claw poised to strike. The claw shrieks with the Immolatioknight's flame as it comes down upon your head.

[1d10+1]

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

 No.730275

>>730269
You manage to get the corpse off.

>>730270
>>730271
Between Cloud's magic, Cerulean's tail strikes, and the Fox's fire blasts, the door is cleared at last.

>>730272
>>730273
As you attempt to make haste, the bronze Aura below you suddenly darkens, turning into a deep black tar, which spreads across the floor like a flash fire. The room's furniture and decor starts to sink and float about within. While you struggle to get your legs unstuck, two forms rise from below, striking you both in the gut.

>You both lose 3 Hits


>>730272
You look down as the wind flees your lungs, and get a better look at the rising body, emerging from the tar: An abominable beast of shadows, with gold-glowing eyes, made all of melting tar. It is hunched and fat, a mutated wretch. Something about the buffalo-like body reminds you of Zerk, and the shape of the almost feminine head reminds you of Paraiba – a wretched amalgam of your crew's thieves.

The Wretched Thief strikes at you with a headbutt.

[1d10]

>>730273
Like Alder, you are able to see your shadowy attacker more clearly as it rises from the deep tar. At first, you think you might be seeing double. Like the one that struck Alder, this one's head seems to resemble Paraiba's strongly, yet it rises upon two legs instead of four, stumbling across the ground with oversized arms, a malformed, sad, gorilla-like aberration, a cruel parody of the earnest Vice-Captain Plague.

The Thieving Captain strikes at you with a punch.

[1d10]

As you keep on yapping, you hear a grating of insect mandibles. Suddenly, the golden glow flashes before you, even without the use of My Eye. A gold-and-green striped insect Demon suddenly bursts into the world, her sharp claw poised to strike. The claw shrieks with the Immolatioknight's flame as it comes down upon your head.

[1d10+1]

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

 No.730276

>>730274
>>730275
"Good, finally. Let's see what's beyond this door. Maella, are you coming?"
Cloud shouts to her, concerned on her condition as he pulls open the door to see what was hidden.

 No.730277

>>730274
>>730271
>>730270

"There we go," Cutlass says, trying to regain her composure as she stands back up. She dusts herself off.

"Well done, everyone."

 No.730278

>>730274
She flinches and grits her teeth, tilting her head slightly as the shadowy tar creatures make their appearance. "That's new," she says quietly, retaliating by firing a magical conflagration at the Thieving Captain.
[1d10+1] [1d10+1] Magic Bolt

"And there it is," she says, calmly sidestepping Auntzi's wild attack. "The insect herself. Tired of hiding, are you?"

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10 / Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6

 No.730279

>>730275
>>730276
>>730277
"Sweet, now let's-" she looks back a moment at the scene behind them.
"Uhh…guys? Something tells me that all isn't good."

 No.730280

>>730279

"All the more reason to continue on," Cutlass urges.

 No.730281

>>730274
Alder lets out a startled honk, wiggling his singed talons and trying to recover as the wind's knocked out of him. The weird amalgam of his friends unnerves him greatly, so he hurriedly scampers over to Thessaly to pass her a concoction to ingest.
[1d10+1] Natural Remedy

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4

 No.730282

>>730279
"Whatever's back here must help in some way, otherwise it wouldn't be blocked by all of these. We have to take a quick look at least."

 No.730283

>>730277
>>730276
>>730279
Mallea takes a step toward the door, but in that same moment, you hear the battle against Auntzi begin in earnest. Mallea turns and sees Alder and Thessaly get attacked, and then she spins about without a word, running into the fray.

Beyond the closed door, you see a long and narrow stone staircase, leading upward. At first glance, it seems to be the staircase leading to and from the basement. But where the staircase to the basement had stone walls, this one has walls of earth, reinforced by wooden beams. You look to the side of the doorway on the other side, and notice a hidden pull lever. Perhaps this is a secret entrance to the basement, much like the secret trapdoor in the attic.

>>730278
The Thieving Captain half-dissolves as your bolt explodes a great quantity of its body, missing its strike. Undeterred, it moves slavishly along, swinging again with a wild haymaker.

[1d10]

"Just thought I'd take a little of your constructive criticism and speed things up! We're on a deadline, aren't we?" she retorts.

As her swing misses, it strikes down into the tar. She dives in after it, vanishing under the surface, before emerging again on the side. This time, her claw is filthy with the black tar, as she tries to stab it into your chest.

[1d10+1]

>>730281
The Wretched Thief stops its headbutt mid-swing, pausing to bite down on the potion and snatch it away, perhaps unable to resist its nature as a thief. But in its haste it drops it into the tar, where it sinks. It sighs, then resumes its attacks.

[1d10]

You see Seravelum start to sink into the black tar, still frozen in his pose. However, his eyes seem to have come unstuck, as they are frantically darting to and fro, helplessly frozen in their sockets.

>>730278
>>730281
Mallea runs in behind you, skidding to a halt before the encroaching black tar that gradually fills the eastern hallway. Pale and shivering with fear, she gulps, forcing herself to muster up a number of thin vials with multiple colors, which she hucks at Alder.

"If I've come this far before, then I know your secrets, Demon! You stand no chance!" she declares.
"Get new material, that was your shtick last time," Auntzi retorts with bored mockery.

[1d10+1] Distill Life
[1d10] Memory

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

 No.730284

>>730283
Cloud looks back as they hear the fighting begin in full now, as well as watching Mallea run off to join them. He should help, but he has to see what lies beyond this door. He looks up the earthen staircase, and sprints up it.

 No.730285

>>730284
>Perception [1d10+1]
>Echolocation

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4

 No.730286

>>730283
"Then finish it," she snaps back, failing to stifle a mocking smirk as Mallea comes to their aid. "You have all this power. You could have annihilated us all by now. Are you afraid to fight us?" She tries to get out of the way of Auntzi's swing again and conjures a brilliant mandala to brand what's left of the Captain with.
[1d10] Dodge
[1d10+1] Exequy on Thieving Captain

Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10

 No.730287

>>730283
Alder huffs a little, and says "W-Well, she has us! That is different than the last time, yes?" he says, before screeching angrily.
[1d10] Screech

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.730288

>>730283

Normally, Cutlass would be more cautious. But, considering the circumstances, she opts to pull the switch and see what happens.

[1d10] to react to anything that might happen, Master Thief if applicable

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.730289

>>730280
>>730282
>>730283
Cerulean watches as Mallea runs off, then looks back to the fighting.
"Sorry guys, but…I need to go help them. Pretty sure you two can handle…whatever this is," she says and looks to the fox and Roger.
"You two go with them. It'd be a lot safer, and I'm sure they'd appreciate the extra light." She gives the fox a head pat of reassurance, then bolts back into the previous room.

Cerulean rushes as fast as she can, getting her tail ready to slap Auntzi with a speedy slam from behind with aura to flood the room a bit.
>Slam, ranged from Arabian Agility
>Tidepool
[1d10+1]
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5 / Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11

 No.730290

>>730288
The door behind you is sealed with a slow-sliding stone wall, completely blocking it off.

>>730284
You bolt up the staircase, and the cool earth of the walls is a serious relief from the dreadful humidity of the sealed room of corpses. But as you try to run up the staircase, you feel a great shuddering and a shaking, followed by a great crashing which throws you to the left. As you recover and get your bearings, you see multiple Clouds, all translucent, running up the staircase at different points. Each of them in turn stops, bracing themselves against some kind of shaking, and then stumble to the left. In that moment, they become opaque, and look at each other in shock and confusion, before each of them disappears.

When you look around, you are back at the bottom of the staircase.

>>730289
The Fox barks in affirmation, keeping Roger safely curled up in his tail.

>>730287
You catch three of Mallea's Distill Life vials, small but potent healing syrups.

>>730286
The Thieving Captain is sealed with an ominously green-glowing mark, binding it to misfortune.

>>730289
>>730287
>>730286
Thessaly is punched squarely in the jaw, and stabbed from the side, which knocks her into the black tar, dazed and stunned. The tar starts spreading across her body, blooming out from the stab wound, like a flower blooming at a vastly accelerated rate. She can feel it sinking beneath her skin, oozing into her veins.

>Thessaly 0/3


Auntzi raises her blade for a coup de gras, but Alder's awful shriek staggers her, and Cerulean's strike knocks her across the room, flying through the open doorway out into the western hall, where she tumbles to a halt. "You're just trying to goad me on into a mistake! You think you haven't tried this before!? You failed then and you'll fail now, and stop making me repeat myself! I'll do this as many times as it takes!"

Cerulean's strike causes a small tsunami to fill the room, diluting the black tar threatening to devour everything from below.

Mallea gasps, eyes alight with inspiration. "Stay at a distance from her! She doesn't have any ranged–"

"Shuddup! No hints! No metagaming!" Auntzi barks, leaping forward, her claw morphing into a taloned hand.

[1d10+1] Pause vs Mallea (Screech Penalty)

The Thieving Captain tries to pummel Cerulean.

[1d10-1] Autocritfail

The Wretched Thief tries to pickpocket Alder, hooves awash with purple Aura.

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2 / Roll #2 6 - 1 = 5 / Roll #3 8 = 8

 No.730291

>>730290
Alder folds his ears back and rushes back over towards Thessaly. Whatever the tar's doing to her can't be good, so he hastily pulls her back up out of it and tries to force-feed her one of his potions.
>Natural Remedy [1d10+1]

He tries to keep his pockets away from the Wretched Thief and its aura-infused hooves.
[1d10+1] Dodge

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

 No.730292

>>730290
Cloud runs up the stairs, feeling some energy coming back as the hall is far cooler than the basement. He stops when the stairs begin to shake, losing his balance as he's tossed to the side. He looks in shock as he sees multiples of him repeating his actions.
"Wha… How… Did I do this before?"
He mutters in disbelief, and then even more confused when he sees himself back at the bottom of the stairs. Determined to get past this mystery, he takes out his gripper gauntlets, putting them on for more traction with his hooves as he heads up the stairs again, prepared for any more tricks.

 No.730293

>>730292
>Resistance [1d10+1]

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5

 No.730294

>>730290
>>730285

First, Cutlass look at their exit getting blocked off. "Well… that was the opposite of useful," she mumbles.

Then, she watches the incident with Cloud. "Interesting. Let's shake things up then, shall we?"

Cloud, be a dear and turn this back to normal size. Cutlass says to Cloud as she pulls the door out of her dress that Cloud shrunk earlier.

 No.730295

>>730294
Cloud glances back as he starts up the stairs.
"What do you need a door for now? Fine, whatever."
He says, ending his magic on the door to let it go to normal before continuing on the staircase.

 No.730296

File: 1578027271060.png (Spoiler Image, 956.08 KB, 680x618, Approach.png)

>>730290
"Won't matter much anyway," she says to Mallea, "I can't thrash her unless I get closer." Cerulean then charges, ignoring the attacking Captain and going right for Auntzi again.
"So get over here and face me!" She flares her aura up and makes red chains wrap around her hoof, then fly out to grab, wrap around, and drag Auntzi closer into dueling distance.

>Hakarl: Recharge 3 when effect ends. Cerulean locks a target into a duel with her with her aura for three turns. If the opponent attacks anyone other than Cerulean, she can make a free Instant attack against them.

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11

 No.730297

>>730295
>>730290

"Exactly," Cutlass laughs in response to Cloud.

Cutlass goes up the staircase with Cloud. She telekinetically holds the door to Cloud's left side and stays close to his right side. [1d10] to remain steady

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.730298

>>730290
She curls up on the ground, unmoving for a minute, wheezing and gasping from the impact. She begins to stir, looking up at Auntzi determinedly as she drinks Alder's healing potion. She plants her hooves on the ground and pulls herself up, nodding with vindication as Cerulean makes a grand appearance. She stands up, defying Auntzi with a wide, almost manic grin.

"More."

As the Captain is sealed, she lashes out with a purple tendril from her horn, trying to leech life essence from Auntzi as she did to Mallea.
[1d10+3] Lifestream, using 3 TBP

Roll #1 9 + 3 = 12

 No.730299

>>730292
>>730293
>>730297
>>730294
Cloud attempts to climb the stairs again, and the same sequence loops once more – a shuddering, quaking feeling, then the BANG of a sudden crash or collapse. He feels great pressure trying to throw him to the right, but he digs into the stone of the staircase, bracing himself against force that threatens to knock him out. Cutlass is not so lucky, as she is smacked against the wall.

>Cloud loses 1 Hit

>Cutlass loses 2 Hits

This time, you see many translucent Clouds and Cutlasses suffer various fates against the pressure. Some are knocked against the wall like Cutlass, others stumble down the stairs, others cling to the staircase like him. They turn opaque, look at one another with confusion, then vanish.

When you come to, you see that Cutlass is nearer to the bottom of the stairs, but not at the bottom like she was before. Cloud's position hasn't changed.

>>730296
Auntzi reaches to stop Mallea with her bronze Aura, when you grab her and yank her in. Her hand brushes against Seravelum's frozen form. Auntzi yelps as she's pulled into striking distance, a gap merely six feet in distance.

>>730291
>>730298
>>730296
>Thessaly 6/4, obtains 4 HP to restore as she pleases [(13-5) = 8; 8/2 = 4]

Alder backsteps from the Wretched Thief, causing them to pickpocket only the empty air.

After Auntzi is yoinked into Cerulean's range, Thessaly scores a beautifully vindictive strike of opportunity, leaching away much of Auntzi's health, causing lines of age and weariness to appear on her face. With a snap of her fingers, the cosmetic changes vanish, but the damage remains.

"You want more, then?" Auntzi sneers. "Well good news, bitch! It's all you can eat!"

As Auntzi's hands glow with a bronze Aura, you hear a somewhat effeminate male snickering.

"You're a demon with control over time. You could have workshopped that as long as you wanted… and that's what you go with?" a positively ermine voice asks.

Auntzi gulps.

"UNDO!" she shouts, grabbing onto Cerulean's chain.

[1d10+2]

>Hakarl procs technically because she's attacking a target other than Cerulean


The Thieving Captain tries to jab Thessaly in the throat.

[1d10]

The Wretched Thieves try to pickpocket Alder once more.

[1d10]

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11 / Roll #2 4 = 4 / Roll #3 6 = 6

 No.730300

>>730299
"I said to face ME!" In seemingly an instant, Cerulean is quick to attack. She does a slight spin to give Auntzi a tail slap to knock her away a bit…
>Single weapon attack
[1d10+1]

…only for Cerulean to pull her back with the chains like a paddleball and into Cerulean's more signature tail slam.
>Slam
[1d10+2]
[1d10+2]

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11 / Roll #2 1 + 2 = 3 / Roll #3 7 + 2 = 9

 No.730301

>>730299
>>730295

"Hmm," Cutlass contemplates out loud. "It seems to be working. Let's do it again."

Cutlass gets back into position with Cloud. [1d10] to not stumble

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.730302

>>730299
>>730297
Cloud looks back as Cutlass is thrown against the wall as is further back down the stairs, and that copies of her are shown with him as well this time.
"That demon definitely doesn't want us up here. Come on, don't fall too far behind."
Cloud says back to Cutlass, heading up the stairs with deep determination now, in that hopefully whatever it is up here will stop this demon before their friends get too hurt.
>Using 2 TBP
>Climb [1d10+3]

Roll #1 2 + 3 = 5

 No.730303

>>730299
She does a bit of a double take as Seravelum mocks her lame comeback. "You're losing your touch, little ghost. All this might and you can't even finish off a handful of mortals. Géill." She pulls up black chains from the tar and sends them undulating towards Auntzi, ignoring the Captain's attempts.
[1d10+2] Shackles

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11

 No.730304

>>730290
>>730296
>>730291
>>730298
>Autocritfail from last turn

The Thieving Captain tries to strike down Cerulean, but she effortlessly scoops him up with her tail and launches him at Auntzi like a catapult, dazing her and covering her with tar.

>This takes place before the chaining and all that

 No.730305

>>730299
Alder hisses a little when the amalgam tries to pickpocket him again, and shoots it with the witchkiller bow.
[1d10]

>>730303
"Ah, you are better? Thank goodness."

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.730306

>>730305
"Just grand here," she confirms, showing her closed wounds. "You have my thanks, Alder."

 No.730307

>>730302
>>730301
Roughly the same thing repeats as before – this time, Cloud gets further ahead, and starts to see the top of a door at the top of the stairs, with still about halfway to go for him. Cutlass is knocked down again, this time ending up about a quarter of the way up the stairs.

This time, when the other selves appear, they berate each other – and you – soundly. Cutlasses mock the Clouds, Clouds retort against the Cutlasses, and every now and then one of them says either something flattering or unseemly about Chiu. Whatever this is that you're seeing and hearing, you're clearly still yourselves.

>Cloud loses 1 Hit, Cutlass loses 2


>>730305
The Wretched Thieves are obliterated into black muck as the arrow screeches through them.

>>730303
>>730300
>>730305
Cerulean batters Auntzi back and forth, but the Demon's touch causes the red chain to recede back into Cerulean's body, as if it were never there. Still, her power hasn't undone the damage she's taken. She raises her hand for a counterattack, but then Thessaly's black chains emerge from the very tar Auntzi conjured, binding her to the ground in a heaped slump. She raises her head, only for a number of thin, flourishing red cloths to manifest in the air behind her, spinning about like on a magician's stage, revealing the lanky, white-clad Seravelum. Baring his fangs, he raises his claws, stabbing them down on both sides into Auntzi's shoulders. Her eyes go white as black blood starts to pump up from her body, directly into Seravelum's fingertips, bulging out the veins as it's drawn into his hands.

Mallea produces about a dozen vials with a bright red liquid, poised to strike the moment Auntzi stirs.

But…

Nothing happens.

Auntzi lays there, head slumped over, totally inert.

Seravelum licks his lips. "Okay! Good job team. Alder, nice footwork there. Thessaly, love the magic as always babe. Cerulean, you gotta take it down a notch! I almost didn't have anything left over to snack on! Mallea… you were there, I guess?"

Mallea blinks in shock.

 No.730308

>>730307
>>730301
Cloud looks at the images moving around and with them, listening to the comments and quips made.
"…Is that what we sound like?"
He says, pausing for just a moment before continuing on to the door that's finally in sight, clawing on ahead despite the soreness that he now feels from the constant shoves.
>Climb [1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.730309

>>730307
She can't help but look vindictive as Auntzi's blood is absorbed by Seravelum. She bows her head respectfully to Seravelum. "We did what we had to in thy name. Is it done, then? Our debt repaid?"

 No.730310

>>730307
Cerulean's battle high starts to settle down a bit and gives Seravelum a sharky/cheeky grin.
"What? Afraid some 'lower demon' or whatever would upstage you," she quips back, giving a proud thump of her tail on the ground.
"Though…something still doesn't feel right. Like she might suddenly pop back up or something at any moment…." She eyes Auntzi's body warily.

 No.730311

>>730307
>>730308

Cutlass laughs. "I know, you sound so dumb."

This time, as Cutlass climbs, she makes a concerted effort to only pay attention to the top of the stairs (or as far up as she can see). If she doesn't get distracted, then she won't lose her place, right!?

[1d10] to not get distracted

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.730312

>>730307
Alder lets out a somewhat shaky breath as everything seems to… wind down, for the most part. He grimaces a little as Seravelum drains Auntzi's blood away, and fixates on her enough to almost miss the compliment.

"I, oh! Uhm, thank you. This does not feel… right, though. Is it really done? Is she faking it with some sort of illusion?"

 No.730313

>>730311
"If I sound dumb it's only because of your terrible insults."

 No.730314

>>730313

"That doesn't even make sense. How could MY insults make YOU sound dumb?"

 No.730315

>>730314
"How can I sound clever if I'm working off your childish comments?"

 No.730316

>>730307
>>730311
>Catch [1d10+1]

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5

 No.730317

>>730315

"That sounds like an excuse for why you're not smart enough for me."

 No.730318

Health fix.

 No.730319

>>730310
>>730309
>>730312
"Silly shark! At least warn us if you're gonna spoil the surprise!"

But, contrary to what it just said, this voice does not come from the corpse laying before you. Auntzi's corpse remains as a corpse. This voice is completely disembodied.

"Yup! Ya did a real good job! If it wasn't clear from what I was talking about earlier, I'm really not that durable. If Mallea and Palafox beat me, you know that's gotta be the case!"

Mallea's eyes are ringed with frustration. "Get out here! Show yourself! Enough! Enough of all of this!"

"Oh, I'm not opposed to that at all. I really do feel bad for stealing away your victory. Really, I do. But I just can't get enough of it. It's like playing a board game you really enjoy all over again, or re-reading your favorite book! I get to go back to the beginning and start it all over again, and you don't get to do anything about it! Tell you what though, I'll preserve these Shackles for the next time you find me… if you feel up for playing again."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8oGDT_ZW3o

"But it's not fun unless it's a challenge, so on your marks, get set, [size15]GOOOOOOOO!!!"

You hear a rumbling, and from the western hall, you can see a massive tidal wave of black tar flooding in, threatening to fill the room.

"…Yeah, I've gotten my fill, Thess, so I gotta go now, bye!" Seravelum says. He withdraws a claw and snaps his fingers. But nothing happens. He tries again and again, but still he remains before you.

"…Shit."

He books it down the eastern hall, leaving you all behind.

>Paused

 No.730320

>>730317
"Right, the kid who's stuck in a dress from a genie is smarter than me."
He says sarcastically.

 No.730321

>>730317
>>730320
"Somehow your bickering can almost be… comforting at times, perhaps. A constant in this bizarre house." the griffon admits.

 No.730322

>>730308
>>730316
As Cloud climbs to about the 75% mark, he braces himself against the crash, and notices Cutlass nearly getting tossed toward the bottom. He reaches out and grabs her, yanking her back in. Meanwhile, the translucent Clouds and Cutlasses berate each other and argue endlessly as they are tossed back to the bottom of the stairs.

>Cutlass loses 2 Hits

 No.730323

>>730320

"I-I'm not stuck!" Cutlass denies the accusation as her face turns red. "W-what makes you think that?"

 No.730324

>>730323
"Well I haven't seen you wear anything else since that island, so either you got played by that genie, or you just don't have any other clothes, and you seem too prissy to just have one outfit."

 No.730325

>>730324

"W-why would I need any other outfit when I have the perfect one right here?" she continues to deny.

"And, what do you mean I'm prissy!?"

>>730322
>>730320

Cutlass yelps as she's about to fall down the stairs. Then, Cloud grabs her hoof. She looks up at him with a shocked and thankful expression. Then, she looks at her hoof being held by Cloud's. Her face turns redder. She quickly yanks her hoof away.

"Th-thanks," she mutters quietly as she looks down at the stares awkwardly.

 No.730326

>>730325
"A nice outfit is a nice outfit but even you can't have the time to wash it that frequently."
He retorts.
"Come on, you boss everypony around and don't like to be touched. That's like the definition of prissy."

>>730325
>>730322
Cloud catches hold of Cutlass before she falls again, looking as the rest of the images all tumble back down.
"Looks like I'm the best Cloud of this bunch."
He smirks as she quickly pulls her hoof away, only reinforcing his argument.
"No prob."

 No.730327

>>730326

"Y-yeah," Cutlass smiles a little bit as she realizes that Cloud misunderstands why she pulled her hoof away. "I guess if you consider not wanting to touch a bunch of dirty pirates 'prissy', then I'm prissy. I mean, have you SMELLED Cerulean?"

"And by the way, I don't need to wash this dress. That's the whole point. It can't get dirty, stained, or otherwise besmirched. Did you see how that mold just evaporated when it touched my dress? No matter what happens, it will always remain pristine."

"It makes bathing a little frustrating, though…"

Cutlass's eyes open wide. "N-not that I'm stuck in my dress!"

 No.730328

>>730327
"And yet you wanted to become a pirate captain. Should just get dirty yourself to avoid that problem."
Cloud gives Cutlass a look, not buying her claim.
"What, does the dress suck up all the water or something? Seems like that wouldn't be a problem if you aren't stuck in it."

 No.730329

>>730328

Cutlass groans. "Alright fine, yes. I'm stuck in it. The problem is just that it's hard to… reach everywhere. You know?" she says, blushing slightly.

"Actually, the absorption makes things remarkably MORE convenient," she says, changing the subject. "I don't need to dry off as much. I don't even need to rinse the soap as much as it just gets absorbed too!"

 No.730330

>>730329
"Eugh, I don't want that image in my head."
Cloud shudders.

"…Have you questioned where that stuff goes?"

 No.730331

>>730330

"Okay, it's actually getting a little hurtful!" Cutlass objects in a moment of uncharacteristic sincerity. "I'm not THAT young! Am I really that ugly to you?"

She conspicuously doesn't answer the other question.

 No.730332

>>730331
"I'm not answering that," Cloud says defensively, "I'm with Chiu and I got a kid on the way. The only mare that's taking any thoughts like that in my head are going to be her."

 No.730333

>>730332

Cutlass grins. "Ooooh. I see now! It's distressing to you because I AM appealing to you, and you don't want to be tempted. Well, I suppose your loyalty is commendable."

 No.730334

>>730333
"Oooh no no no, I'm not saying that either. We already covered why you're not appealing to me. And nothing could ever tempt me either, just to make that clear."

 No.730335

>>730334

Cutlass pouts. Then, she sighs. "I-it's been a long day," says admits uncomfortably. "Can't you please just give me ONE compliment."

 No.730336

>>730335

*"Can't you please just give me one compliment?"

 No.730337

>>730336
>>730335
Cloud looks at Cutlass, then down the stairs past her where the images went. After a second, he looks back to her.
"You've been pretty levelheaded through all this."
He says, then pauses in thought.
"And… you make one stallion out there happy someday."

 No.730338

>>730337

Cutlass opens her mouth to say something when he comes out with compliment of her mentality. That was certainly not what she wanted.

Then, he gives a far more personal compliment. She shuts her mouth and blushes. "Y-you're just saying that," she says as she looks away from Cloud.

 No.730339

>>730338
"If I was just saying it I would've said anything, since there's barely any ponies in this Ribcage."
Cloud clarifies.
"It maybe a bit much for me, but some stallions will appreciate the effort you put in presenting yourself."

 No.730340

>>730339

"Well th-thank you, Cloud," Cutlass stammers, clearly very bad at taking a compliment. "There aren't many pirates who are able to appreciate my… opulent appearance. Their limited mental capacities usually simplify it down to 'looking fancy'," Cutlass rolls her eyes.

 No.730397

Last time, on PirateQuest…

The battle began and ended seemingly in a flash. Though Auntzi took the initial advantage by freezing Seravelum with a time-stopping spell, Alder and Thessaly were able to hold their own against her conjured minions – shadowy apparitions resembling grotesque hybrids of their friends – and once Cerulean joined them, they took control of the battle. A botched use of Aura caused Auntzi to accidentally release Seravelum. Our Crew struck her down, and Seravelum effortlessly dealt the killing blow…

…But Demons are not put down so easily, much less Demons with domain over Time. Though this Auntzi was now well and truly dead, her disembodied, sing-song voice mocked them from afar. Using her Time-manipulating Aura, she had apparently prepared for herself the same sort of rewinding point in case she needed to be saved.

A 'save point', if you will.

And now, as darkness flooded the small lounge from the western corridor, leaving the sealed-off eastern corridor as their only escape, Auntzi's counterattack began.

 No.730398

>Cloud, Cutlass
As Cloud climbs to about the 75% mark, he braces himself against the crash, and notices Cutlass nearly getting tossed toward the bottom. He reaches out and grabs her, yanking her back in. Meanwhile, the translucent Clouds and Cutlasses berate each other and argue endlessly as they are tossed back to the bottom of the stairs.

>Cutlass loses 2 Hits


>Thessaly, Alder, Cerulean


"Silly shark! At least warn us if you're gonna spoil the surprise!"

But, contrary to what it just said, this voice does not come from the corpse laying before you. Auntzi's corpse remains as a corpse. This voice is completely disembodied.

"Yup! Ya did a real good job! If it wasn't clear from what I was talking about earlier, I'm really not that durable. If Mallea and Palafox beat me, you know that's gotta be the case!"

Mallea's eyes are ringed with frustration. "Get out here! Show yourself! Enough! Enough of all of this!"

"Oh, I'm not opposed to that at all. I really do feel bad for stealing away your victory. Really, I do. But I just can't get enough of it. It's like playing a board game you really enjoy all over again, or re-reading your favorite book! I get to go back to the beginning and start it all over again, and you don't get to do anything about it! Tell you what though, I'll preserve these Shackles for the next time you find me… if you feel up for playing again."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8oGDT_ZW3o

"But it's not fun unless it's a challenge, so on your marks, get set, GOOOOOOOO!!!"

You hear a rumbling, and from the western hall, you can see a massive tidal wave of black tar flooding in, threatening to fill the room.

"…Yeah, I've gotten my fill, Thess, so I gotta go now, bye!" Seravelum says. He withdraws a claw and snaps his fingers. But nothing happens. He tries again and again, but still he remains before you.

"…Shit."

He books it down the eastern hall, leaving you all behind.

 No.730399

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>730398
With them bracing and nearly to the top of the stairs, and seeing the rest of the images fall down to the bottom, Cloud walks up the rest of the way confidently as they're the farthest ones now.
>Climb [1d10+1]

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.730400

>>730398
Her eyes narrow as Auntzi's voice rings out, showing she's survived in some form for now. "Oh, little ghost. Why did you spill your beans," she says under her breath. As Seravelum fangs it, she doesn't hesitate to follow, looking around with His Eye as she runs off before the tar can reach her.
[1d10] Perception
[1d10] Escape if needed

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

 No.730401

>>730398
>>730339

"Huh…" Cutlass chuckles lightly as she looks at all the other versions of themselves. "I did all this silly door nonsense in order to change things up and do something no other version of me would have done. But, in reality, what we needed was something even MORE outlandish: you and I actually getting along."

[1d10] to climb some fucking stairs

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.730402

>>730398
Alder worriedly follows after the others, grabbing Mallea if she doesn't move fast enough on her own!
[1d10] Escape?

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.730403

>>730401
"Hey, You may rub me the wrong way but I can't let a kid go tumbling down a staircase."

 No.730404

>>730403

"I'm NOT a child!" Cutlass stomps her hoof indignantly. "I'm almost 17!"

 No.730405

>>730398
"Oh jeez not again!" Seeing the other run, but remembering something, Cerulean decides to take a chance. As the tar rushes in, she tries to counter/oppose it with a flood of her aura and a slam of her tail, remembering how the water was messing with the tar not too long ago.

>Slam with Tidepool

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

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11 / Roll #2 5 + 2 = 7

 No.730406

>>730404
"Close enough."
Cloud says dismissively.

 No.730407

>>730400
"You say something about beans?" Auntzi asks. "I can serve you with a side of beans instead of carrots this time, if you prefer."

You fumble and nearly drop My Eye as you run for the eastern hall, just barely managing to drop it into your bag instead of letting it hit the ground.

>>730405
You remain behind briefly, and with a slam that shudders the walls around you, unleash a counter-flood. Wave meets wave as they clash in the midst of the hall, and the black tar onslaught is slowed from the weight of the impact. Nevertheless, a small black trickle seeps toward the door, but you have bought your crew much more time than you would have had to escape.

>>730400
>>730402
As you bolt for the eastern corridor, the wave of tar laps at your hooves, chasing at your ankles like a slew of rabid dogs. A strap on Alder's saddlebag catches on a corner of a desk, and in the time that it takes him to get free, some of the tar flies into his mouth, spewing down his throat, nearly closing off his windpipe. A horrid itch starts to burn at his neck, but Mallea pulls him free before the tar can consume him fully.

By the skin of your teeth, you manage to outpace it, and come to the eastern door, but just as Seravelum throws his claw out to open it, the door slams against something solid and hard upon the other side. Through the slight gap in the door, you see a stone wall.

"Blast!" Mallea gasps, before you are all thrown off balance by a thick wave of tar, rising up your shins. "They pulled the secret lever behind them! Break it! Break it down!"

Seravelum's body starts to morph, creaking and crunching and gushing blood as he starts to flatten himself out as thin as a sheet of paper.

Mallea disregards him and rattles the stone wall with magic.

[1d10+1]

Her Armored Cub charges at the door and wall behind.

[1d10+1]

>>730401
How strange the wiles of destiny are when faced with the forking path of possibilities.

>>730401
>>730399
Bracing yourselves in a combined effort, you manage to endure one last shudder and shake, as countless other versions of yourselves fall down the stairs in their failed attempts. Some of them, in the brief moment that they become opaque, cheer you on. One Cutlass asks her Cloud why he can't be like this one.

As you get to the top of the stairs, you can see that the door you spied earlier isn't a standard door, but a trapdoor, at the top of a short wooden ladder. You ascend and try to push open the trapdoor, but it's stuck fast – a massive weight holds it down from the other side.

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

 No.730408

>>730407
and nearly drop My Eye into the tar as you run*

 No.730409

>>730407
"We can do this till the end of days, little ghost," she calls out. "I'll break before I bend to the likes of you. Wretched caitiff. And you call yourself a demon."

As the wall goes up to prevent their escape, she charges up her horn and unleashes a violent explosion of multicolored magic to shatter both it and the door.
[1d10+1] [1d10+1] Magic Bolt

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

 No.730410

>>730407
Seeing the tar still making an advance, Cerulean makes a rush for where the others went while she still has her aura water around the place.
>Earthly Affinity: Traversing on home terrain is automatic

As Cerulean quickly makes use of the extra time, Cerulean ducks her head down as she's looking to barrel right through like a non-exploding torpedo.

>CHAAAAARGE!

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10

 No.730411

>>730407
Alder lets out a panicked choke as he stumbles and falls into the muck, only getting out because of Mallea's quick thinking. He coughs a few times to clear his throat and tries to ignore the itching sensation, and instead focuses on trying to force the door down!
[1d10] Bodycheck (Alder's not very heavy, so it might not do much)

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.730412

>>730407
>>730406

Cutlass moans. "Open it, Cloud!"

[1d10] to attempt with telekinesis

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.730413

>>730412
>>730407
Cloud looks back as the images start to cheer the on, an odd feeling that he's being watched by himself. He gives a cocky salute as he champions on, making it to the top with Cutlass. He looks up at the trapdoor, giving it a push and feeling it weighed down. As Cutlass says to open it, he rolls his eye, gesturing her to step back.
"Whatever's blocking it is going to fall through if I do."
He says, eye glowing as he attempts to shrink the trap door off it's hinges.
>Wax/Wane [Shrink Door] [1d10+2]

Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6

 No.730414

>>730411
>>730410
>>730409
>Magic Bolt: recharge 2, spell, ranged; Fire a volatile bolt of magic. Roll two dice and use the higher roll for results. If one of the dice is a crit fail, then the spell crit fails regardless of the other roll.

Seravelum flattens himself to a razor's thinness, and slips himself into a minuscule gap between the stone wall and the slot that it's slid into, snickering all the while. "Well, this has been fun, but Thessaly did honor the terms of my Contract, so this is officially Your Problem. Buh-byee!"

A second later, Thessaly, Cerulean, Alder, Mallea and the Cub pool their power together and attack the door and stone wall beyond all at once, leaving it in smithereens. Seravelum, his body now restored to normal, looks back and snarls a curse between his fangs. "That means you need to stay behind and act as bait!"

With a rapid flash, he kicks Thessaly in the throat, knocking her back into the tar that flows ever after you.

>Thessaly 0/3


He spins and runs up the stairs, leaving you behind.

[1d10+2]

Mallea fires off a rapid slew of the most vile profanity and slurs available to the Krikral language, trying to grab him with telekinesis.

[1d10+1]

Mallea and the Cub also make a run up the staircase.

[2d10]

>>730411
The muscles in your right arm start to twitch and spasm, all while the itching in your throat gets worse.

>Roll resistance, instant


>>730412
>>730413
Behind you, you hear the sounds of your party breaking through the stone wall, and much arguing and cursing. All the while, the grotesque gurgling of the tar of Spite continues to rise up from below.

Cloud shrinks the trapdoor, and the second it gets small enough to fall, it drops to the ground. A very large toolbox full of gardening equipment and a small rug fall from above, breaking on the stone ground. Up above you, you see a glass roof, and can smell rich soil and flowering plantlife. The glass is stained a bright, aurora-like gradient of red and yellow, cast from some unseen light source.

Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12 / Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8 / Roll #3 10, 9 = 19

 No.730415

>>730414

"Hey!" Cutlass says excitedly. "Is that sunlight!?"

She quickly climbs the ladder. [1d10] if necessary

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.730416

>>730414
>>730411
>>730410
>>730409
Cloud looks back as he hears the others, ears perking to the familiar voices and the torrent of liquid following.
"Guys, be careful! This staircase shakes you around and tries to thrown you back to the bottom!"
He shouts as a warning.

>>730414
>>730415
When the door shrinks and drops a toolbox, Cloud looks up, taking in a deep breath of the earthy garden scent.
"Never have I been so glad to smell normal dirt."
He grabs the toolbox, giving it a toss up into the room above, and follows Cutlass up the ladder.
"Maybe we found a way out of this, who knows."

 No.730417

>>730414
>>730416
>Carry Box [1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.730418

>>730414
Alder goes to whip up one of his own concoctions, but locks up when his arm begins to spasm. He leaves Thessaly with one of the vials from Mallea, and tries to tend to himself.
>-1 Distill Life
[1d10] Resistance Roll
[1d10+1] Natural Remedy

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

 No.730419

>>730414
She snarls as she's knocked backwards into the tar, floundering and struggling to pull herself out and back on her hooves. "Cladhaire! Seravelum, you swine…" She curses and swears both in Common and her native tongue as she tries with all her strength to wrench free of it.
[1d10] Recover

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.730420

>>730418
[1d3]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.730421

>>730414
Cerulean watches the scene unfold, looking surprised by that sneaky trick.
"Oh you little eel," she yells out and runs after Seravelum, rushing up the stairs with big bound to slam her tail into him.

>Slam with Ranged

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

Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9 / Roll #2 6 + 2 = 8

 No.730422

File: 1578278854820.png (12.99 MB, 2880x2880, Manor_Floor_1_ver_1.png)

>>730417
>>730415
Cloud obtains a very useful-looking box of gardening tools, worn with many years of use.

You run up the ladder, and find yourself in a well-kept greenhouse, full of all kinds of strange mushrooms and blooming vines. Through the glass walls, you see no sunlight. No, the sky above you is dark and illuminated by stars, but the town of Gecko is illuminated by a towering, circular wall, composed entirely of a vast, fire-like light, rivaling a skyscraper in its height. It looks strangely familiar…

…You realize that it's a Heat Wave – identical to those used by the genocidal Bee Queens. You recall also what Obstinance said about putting up a 'barrier' around the town, to protect it from Oddities.

Suddenly, your Caller Conches both start to ring.

>>730420
>>730418
>>730419
>>730421
The veins in Alder's right arm bulge and start to turn pitch black, as the tar he inhaled spreads through his veins. It itches horrifically as it spasms, control being wrested from him. It reaches for one of his guns, scrabbling at the handle, but Alder downs a potion. The vile corruption halts and diminishes, the swelling and itching slowly vanishing.

>Alder 7/5


As you run up the stairs, Mallea snares Seravelum's leg with magic, holding him just long enough for Cerulean to smash him against a wall. Cracks spread through the rock lining the stairwell, but it's not enough to deter him. He flees up the staircase on all fours, bolting with the speed of a fleeing cat up to the ladder.

As you give chase, you are suddenly beset by a shuddering feeling, and then a great crash that threatens to knock you down. After the crash, you see several translucent copies of yourselves manifest themselves like ghosts. Countless Thessalies, Alders, Ceruleans and Malleas fall to their demises into a ghostly black tar, before all vanish.

"You guys failed quite a few times. There's some real good highlights in some of these. Maybe I ought to bring a camera down here one of these cycles, make a snuff flick out of it!" Auntzi taunts.

Below you, in your timeline, the black tar continues to rise. Mallea and the Cub shake off the horrific vision and keep running upward.

[2d10]

Roll #1 4, 8 = 12

 No.730423

>>730422
She freezes as she sees herself die, momentarily unable to act. Auntzi's mocking snaps her out of it, and she composes herself, still defiant but visibly shaken by the vision. "Y-You'll find our will equal to yours," she calls out, her retort falling flatter than usual. As Mallea and the Cub start climbing, she follows suit.

 No.730424

>>730423
[1d10] Running
[1d10] Perceptin I guess

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

 No.730425

>>730422

Cutlass pulls her conch out of her dress with her telekinesis and floats it up to her ear.

"What's up?" she answers casually.

 No.730426

>>730422
Cloud gives a quick look into the toolbox, seeing if there's anything useful like the objects they found when dealing with the dust bear. And then, upon spotting the vines, Cloud gets an idea. He grabs some of the vines, moving them towards the trapdoor. He focuses his aura into the plants, trying to grow them out to become lengthy, makeshift ropes to go down the staircase for the others to use.
>Master Farmer [1d10+2]

He looks up through the glass walls of the greenhouse, the night sky above them being a welcome sight, but the flaming light is something that leaves him at a loss. When his Conch rings, he picks it up.
"…Hello?"

Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3

 No.730427

>>730422
Cerulean is too angry at everything today, and now at this smarmy asshole of a demon, that the visions of her falling fail at getting her attention.
"Get back here you slimey bait fish!" Cerulean attempts to keep running after him and try to leap up and grab him with her jaws.

>Running

[1d10]
>Grapple
[1d10]

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

 No.730428

>>730422
Alder coughs a few more times, holding his arm and lets out a somewhat panicked noise. When it finally subsides, the griffon works himself back to all fours and hurries after the others
[1d10] Running

He'll stop to help Mallea along, as well!
[1d10] Help!

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

 No.730429

>>730426
>>730425
On the other end, you hear a blast of shouts, overlapping argument, and the crackle of fires. Suddenly, two voices break through. The speakers are apparently very close together in proximity, as you can hear both of them speaking through both Conches. It's Bent Scales and Little Miss Sunshine.

"Captain!" Bent Scales shouts. "I got them! Cloud, where in all the seas have you been!? You're the first one we've been able to get ahold of! Can you move?"
Little Miss Sunshine is nearly sobbing, her voice coming out in panicked shudders. "Captain! Get out here, as fast as you can! We can't hold them!"

As Cloud tries to aid the party's escape, Seravelum leaps up from through the trapdoor, raking his claws up Cloud's chest. A great deal of blood flows from Cloud's body into the claws, but rather than make a killing blow, Seravelum sprints past him. He momentarily freezes, panic welling up in his face as he looks at the red glow of the Heat Wave, but he keeps running through the glass door of the greenhouse.

>Cloud 0/3


>>730423
>>730427
>>730428
Seravelum flees up the ladder, and you hear a grisly impact as he slashes Cloud once he makes his way up the trapdoor. You endeavor to give chase, but another one of those shuddering crashes knocks you off balance, staggering you. Black tar laps at your legs, spreading an itchy infection as it stains your coats, sinking into the skin.

>Alder loses 3 Hits, Cerulean loses 3, Thessaly loses 2


Mallea turns her head and pulls you along with magic, flinging you up a short way until you manage to make it to the base of the ladder. Alder grabs her on the way, pulling her in before she can be consumed by the tar. Up above you, you can see what Cutlass and Cloud see, the Heatwave that surrounds the manor, and you can hear the chaos on the other ends of their Conches.

 No.730430

>>730429
Alder huffs a little as they finally reach the ladder, and looks to Cloud worriedly. He'll try to clamber up the ladder, and give Cloud a slice with the Medic's Knife.
[1d10] Heal

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.730431

>>730430
(If it fails, he hands over a Distill Life)

 No.730432

>>730431
>>730430
Alder uses the second of his Distill Life potions on Cloud, leaving him with one left.

 No.730433

>>730429
"What's going on?!"
Cloud says as he hears fire and shouts from the conch.
"We've been in a mess with a demon, it's a long story."
He explains, before getting clawed from Seravelum, unable to react as the demon suddenly rushes and rakes his chest. He hisses in inhale from the pain, trying to scramble to his hooves before the creature does anything more.
"Wh-What's your problem?!"
He shouts at it.
>Recover [1d10+1]

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11

 No.730434

>>730429

"Wait, what? Hold what!?" Cutlass shouts as she looks around for the greenhouse exit. Upon finding it, she immediately sprints outside.

 No.730435

>>730429
She hauls herself up, grimacing as the tar stings and burns her legs, taking in the situation. She brightens a little as she sees Cloud and Cutlass, but then grows stony as she sees Cloud's wounds, and the general chaos.

>>730433
>>730434
"I take it you took the long way around. What in the world is going on up here?"

 No.730436

>>730429
>>730433
>>730430
As Alder gives Cloud a potion as he pops up from the staircase, Cloud gets up with a groan.
"Th-Thanks Alder."
Looking to Seravelum as he freezes at seeing the fire wall, Cloud's eye glows as he calls up the plants and roots to entangle and bind the demon in retaliation from the clawing.
>Earthen Grasp [10+1=11]

 No.730437

>>730429
Cerulean makes haste up the ladder, intent on getting some payback on this guy not just from just now, but also from when they first met.
"You're fight is with me," she yells as she sprints after him. She sees Cloud injured, which only angers her more and doesn't seem to notice the Heatwave happening as she runs to grab him in her jaws.
"GET BACK HERE YOU WEAK, LITTLE ASSHOLE!"

>Activating Sprinter for DC-1 on this grapple

>Spending two of those temp aura points
[1d10+2]

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11

 No.730438

>>730434
Alder huffs a little, before saying "Cutlass, come back! We can't split up!" he says, before looking back to Cloud and Thessaly worriedly. They need to be fixed up sooner rather than later.

 No.730439

>>730438

"My crew needs me!" she shouts back in response.

 No.730440

>>730439
"D-Do you even know the way out?"

 No.730441

>>730433
>>730434
>>730435
>>730437
>>730438
"It's Obstinance!" Bent Scales and Little Miss Sunshine shout at once.
"Chiu filled us in on the situation when you didn't come back on the first day," Bent Scales says. "We came, but we couldn't get into the manor at all. The locks wouldn't turn, the windows wouldn't smash, the doors couldn't be battered open. Then word got out, and the whole town lost its mind. You're highly-praised among the townfolk for getting their livestock back, AND for securing peace with the Kalphites."
"S-so when they heard that you had been lost in the manor, they immediately concluded that you'd been tricked by Mallea, that she was doing unspeakable experiments on you!" Little Miss Sunshine shouts. "We chased them off before they could burn it down, but Obstinance came earlier, whipping them into a frenzy! They're armed now too, and they've got the place surrounded… but we've lost sight of Obstinance! There's too many of them!"

The shouts intensify on the other end of the line, and you hear the clashing of steel upon steel, and the thuds of hurled rocks smashing against glass and flesh.

>>730433
>>730435
>>730436
>>730437
Every plant in the greenhouse encircles Seravelum, and though he cuts through many with his long claws, they shortly overwhelm him, entwining him in a vicegrip. Cerulean crunches down with jaws of steel, and the demon wheezes and gasps as bones crumble underneath her grasp. Snarling and beyond smarmy taunts, he flattens his hands like he did before, sharpening them to a razor point as he twists and stabs at Cerulean.

[1d10+2]

>>730434
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps_brVQV8Mo

You throw open the greenhouse door, and make a break for the patio to the south. It's locked, but before you can even attempt to force it, Sir Pent stirs. His body thickens and elongates, and with a gunshot's speed, he luches out, biting the door and a great deal of the wall adjacent, ripping it off its hinges.

As you make your way into the covered patio, black sludge rises up from below…

[2d7]
[2d7]

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

 No.730442

>>730441
"The town is trying to burn the plce down?!"
Cloud exclaims in shock.
"Where's Chiu?! Is she okay? They didn't do anything to her did they?"
He says in a panic, looking at Seravelum as he slowly gets entangled from his plants.
"Alright, we're on our way out. Keep them back for a few minutes longer."
Cloud runs after Cutlass, now in a rush to leave this greenhouse. He channels his aura into the plants around Seravelum, growing them further to thicken and bind further, making it harder for him to rip through.
>Master Farmer [1d10+2]

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11

 No.730443

[2d7]

Roll #1 1, 2 = 3

 No.730444

>>730441
"The nearsighted blackguard," she growls. "I should have known this would happen." She looks over her shoulder to Mallea. "Though, perhaps burning it all to cinders is a foregone conclusion," she adds quietly.

As Seravelum starts fighting Cerulean, her eyes narrow, and she traces a burning mandala to brand Seravelum. "Enough of thy baseness! Our contract is done. Leave us be yarely, and lay claws not on our ally."
[1d10+1] Exequy

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3

 No.730445

>>730441
Cerulean keeps her jaws in him, getting the look of bloodlust in her eyes between Cloud's blood and Seravelum's in her jaw. She begins trying to tenderize him some more with him in her grip, swinging her tail around to hit him and flood the greenhouse a bit, thinking the plants might like the water as much as she does.

>Slam with tidepool

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

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11 / Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7

 No.730446

>>730441

"Does anyone have anything to increase the volume of my voice?" Cutlass asks over the conch as she rushes toward their location.

She notices the sludge, but just does her best to avoid/outrun it for now. [1d10] if necessary

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.730447

>>730441
Alder lets out an aura-infused squawk, though it likely sounds less inspiring than he'd hoped.
Rallying Cry [1d10+1]

>>730442
Not wanting to leave his work undone, the griffon gets to work on Cloud.
[1d10+1] Natural Remedy

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

 No.730448

>>730442
"She's back at that inn," Bent Scales says. "Or she should be, assuming she hasn't done anything despe–"

She's cut off by a gunshot.

>>730444
Mallea's mane has many frayed and jagged hairs sprouting out of it. Many more cling to her clothing, freshly fallen off her head from stress. She seems to have aged ten years; dark bags line her eyes. "Everyone can just get the hell off my property if they want to keep all their limbs and eyes," she growls. "He steps foot in here and I'm going to have a new scarf. Come, Bruja. A mob is at our Coven. Evidently I haven't scared them enough if they can even approach my domain."

As she stomps off after Cutlass, you see a deep green Aura, very thin and faint, start to manifest about her.

"…What's all this Glowing?" Mallea murmurs to herself.

>>730444
>>730442
>>730445
Between Cloud's magic and Cerulean's small deluge, the plants grow and squeeze Seravelum tighter, til even his flattened body cannot escape their grasp. Cerulean trashes and smashes him until he's a ragdoll of shredded flesh and broken bones, laying inert in her teeth. Thessaly has little trouble branding his forehead. He has no response to her commands, his eyes having rolled back in his head. His mouth lies agape, twisted in a howl of shock. Despite everything, he clings to life, but the shock and abuse he's taken will keep him out for a good while.

>>730447
>>730442
Alder hacks up a featherball – a common problem for Griffons who take the time to preen their wings regularly. He notices he can hit much deeper, manlier notes now.

>Cloud 5/5


>>730446
>>730442
Before Cutlass gets a response from LMS, the sounds of escalating violence intensify, then the call cuts off. She makes a break for the door to the northern hallway, but two shadows rise up from the muck, much like the ones that attacked Alder, Thessaly and Cerulean before. This time, the two resemble bizarre, black caricatures of Ossie. One appears to be a fusion of her and Schnitzel, and the other, her and Puddin. The two leap at Cutlass, striking her in the neck and gut to halt her progress.

>Cutlass 0/3


The Lying Assassin (O+S) attacks Cloud next. [1d10]

As does the Lonesome Slayer (O+P) [1d10]

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

 No.730449

>>730448

Cutlass falls over as she's struck in the neck. She'd yelp if she had the ability to breathe.

"Not now," she gasps for air. She quickly tries to get up to her hooves.

[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.730450

>>730447
Cloud drinks down the remedy, the pain fully gone now

>>730448
When Bent Scales is cut off, Cloud pauses.
"I'll talk to you later."
He hangs up, and immediately dials Chiu's Conch.
"CHIU! CHIU WHERE ARE YOU?"
He says, unable to control his volume with his concern the second he hears anypony pick up.

>>730448
>>730446
Running after Cutlass to what he assumes is a way out of the manor's grounds and away from this demonic loop, he sees her fall to the tar creatures. Not bothering to stop, Cloud scoops up Cutlass, aided by his enlarged form, and continues running from the garden.
>Pick Up [1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.730451

>>730448
With Seravelum subdued, she nods and follows Mallea, though she looks uncertain. "Are you sure we can survive this?" she asks. "This doesn't look like a battle we can win. Auntzi and Obstinance are one thing, but a mob of misguided smallfolk is something else. I do not see a solution that does not end in bloodshed. Preferably Obstinance's." She pauses in her tracks and tilts her head curiously as she begins to glow, pulling out His Eye for good measure.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.730452

>>730448
As he lies motionless, Cerulean still keeps him in her mouth. She then starts moving her jaw as she begins squeezing and, more than likely, begins stress eating.

 No.730453

>>730448
Alder gives Cloud a soft pat, and hands the remaining vial to Thessaly- she might need it. He'll go check on Cutlass!

 No.730454

>>730450
>>730448

Cutlass yelps as she's picked up by the enlarged Cloud.

Then, she quickly rights herself and throws a dagger at the Lying Assassin as she runs away to where her crew is.

>using the 9

 No.730455

>>730453
She pauses before heading off with Mallea as Alder offers her the vial. She hesitates before taking it and nodding. "Thank you," she says sincerely, and leaves.

 No.730456

>>730452
>nom nom nom
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4

 No.730457

>>730451
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWi4BjzVk6s

"Maybe not, but this house is my husband's, my love's, and so is this town," Mallea says with doubtless resolution. "He gave his all, over and over again, for those around him – and most of all, for Cosecha and for me. Wherever he is now… wherever I may be when I one day lay down and die… I will not be able to face him unless I honor that, and do the same. These people who curse me don't know what they're doing. He loved them all, the fools… and I'll show them his great love once more, by saving them from Auntzi, from Obstinance… and from themselves."

Through My Eye, it is clear – this is the fledgling illumination of Aura. Mallea perceives it now as the Glow because she has not fully reached her first Breakpoint. But the determination that fills her voice tells you that she's on the cusp of her awakening.

As you look beyond her, toward the Foyer, you can see that it has a glowing of its own. The entire Foyer is awash with golden glowing, almost to rival the sun.

Your final battle awaits there.

>>730456
Seravelum tastes absolutely awful, so perhaps it is some relief when you're ambushed from the side – by the Fox, of all things. The fiery little hound, with Roger still wrapped safely in his tail, apparently hung back. He chews on Seravelum's legs, tossing his head back and forth as he tries to yank a piece from you.

[1d10+1]

>>730450
It takes a good while, but eventually–

"CLOUD!" Chiu shouts from the other end, her voice shaky, raw from recent crying. "He's coming! Stay on your guard! A-are you okay!? Where are you? Where are the others? Get out of there NOW!"

>>730455
>>730454
>>730453
>>730450
Running together, you shove your way past the Lying Assassin and the Lonesome Slayer. The Lying Assassin rears back for another kick, but Cutlass quickly dispatches it without so much as a second thought. The Lonesome Slayer raises his fist, but when he sees your group running forward, and the looks you wear on your faces, he folds his arms and leans against the wall, taking a page from the real Puddin's book.

You run east, south and then west through the hallway of the manor's first floor, damaged beyond repair by fire, by mold, by dust and by tar, bearing the marks of countless iterations, by countless tries and rewinds. As you get to the end of the eastern hall, the door to the Foyer lies just beyond.

Past this door lies the massive glowing that Thessaly saw earlier.

This is undoubtedly your last chance to prepare for whatever may come next.

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.730458

>>730457
Cerulean has a look of relief seeing the fox and Roger. She calms down enough to not fight the fox and let him yank some meat.
"Ahh, good. You two are safe. Thank goodness."
She drops Seravelum like a sack of potatoes and scoops the two up happily, even with blood around her mouth.
"C'mon, I think we're almost out of here. Then I'm treating you two to a very big buffet or something so we can forget about all this!"

 No.730459

>>730458
The Fox yaps happily, trotting in place with a bloody mouth and a torn leg in his teeth as you hug him. Roger floats over and cleans your lips and cheeks up a little bit.

The Yana begins to stir, and does even more the closer you get to Seravelum's body.

 No.730460

>>730457
Her eyes widen slightly with understanding as she sees the Aura glow around Mallea. Seeing what will come to pass, she nods. "They know not what they are doing. Let us bring an end to this bloody affair, one way or another."

Seeing the blinding glow of the foyer, she pauses to brace herself once she gets to the door. She looks around at her companions, unsure of what more to say, merely nodding, setting her jaw, and mentally bracing herself for whatever comes next. She gently pushes the door open.

 No.730461

>>730454
"Oh calm down, would you rather be left there with them?"

>>730457
"Chiu! Oh thank Luna you're safe."
He says, relieved to hear her voice but his heart wrenching to hear that she's been crying.
"I'm fine, we all are. We're getting out of here right now. There was a big mess but we have the issue with this manor mostly dealt with now, I think."

>>730457
>>730454
When they get to the door to the foyer, Cloud sets Cutlass down, now that they're past the threats, and taking a breath after all that running. He lifts his Conch back up.
"We just got one last bit to deal with. I'll see you in a few minutes."
He says to Chiu, then looking to the others.

>>730458
>>730455
>>730453
"What was going on back there in the basement? We heard a lot of fighting."

 No.730462

>>730457
>>730454
Alder will try healing up Cutlass- they don't wanna be down much when they go into this fight, after all. [1d10]

>>730461
"We were trying to deal with the demon, but it sort of… did not work. It was not really there, I think?" he says, somewhat confused.

>>730457
"I suppose we should be swift, yes? I am ready, for the most part."

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.730463

>>730459
Cerulean smiles, then grabs the Yana from her mane again. Remembering what Thessaly did last time, she mimics what she saw.
"Well, if she won't tell me what this is all about, guess I'll find out myself."

>>730461
"Oh, we beat up some form of Auntzi or something. Then she tried flooding the room with that tar again. And then Lunch over here," she says while motioning to the slightly chomped/gnawed on Seravelum, "tried to kill Thessaly. So pretty sure he won't be trying to do that anymore."

 No.730464

>>730457

Cutlass suddenly turns around and goes back the way she came so she can go around the east side of the mansion.

 No.730465

>>730461
>>730463
She opens her mouth to explain things, but Cerulean beats her to the punch. "In a truncated way, yes, that is the general idea. We summoned Seravelum to repay the blood debt, but as soon as things went sour he turned craven and tried to betray me. …Tried."

>>730463
Thessaly looks like she wants to say something before heading through the door, not making eye contact for a moment. "…I… I suppose an apology is in order. For earlier. I shan't beg for your forgiveness. But know that I do regret what I said earlier. …Somewhat. …You didn't have to come and save us, but you did anyway. So thank you. And I'm sorry. Perhaps I was too quick to judge your character."

 No.730466

>>730463
"I'll… get you…" Seravelum chokes out, half-conscious. His body starts to dissolve into a fine mist, disintegrating and vanishing into the Yana, until he is no more.

Despite not eating that much of him, you suddenly feel full, and burp.

>>730461
"Y-you better not die," Chiu stammers. "Or I'll send my dad to the underworld to beat your ass and drag you back up here. I love you."

>>730462
>>730461
>>730460
>>730463
>>><<<
>><<
><
<>
<<>>
<<<>>>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koZRzhY321A

As you push open the door, you find yourselves back in the Foyer. In here, something about it all seems… almost kind of peaceful. It's quiet. Despite what Bent Scales and Little Miss Sunshine said earlier, you can hear nothing from the outside. No mob, no fighting, no guns, no torches.

Over by the southern wall, in a love seat, you find Splendid, snoozing away. Her arms are curled around an empty space, where Alder was sitting earlier.

>>730464
Realizing that going back into the haunted manor is probably not the best idea, you exit swiftly. The Lonesome Slayer waves as you pass him by.

Circling around the eastern side of the manor, you slink through bushes until you come about to the manor's south side. Through the gaps in the high gate some distance below you (for the manor is built on a small plateau), you see a massive mob, hundreds of townsfolk strong, with torches, rocks, and makeshift weapons of all kinds, mostly from appropriated farm equipment, and the occasional clockwork or magitech contraption.

Surrounding the front gate is a massive phalanx, composed of the crews of the Beesting and the Hidden Dagger. They stay on the defensive, never retaliating even when the jeering, protesting crowds try to provoke them into battle. Some are bloodied and bruised, yet they show tremendous restraint in keeping the crowds back without retaliation.

 No.730467

>>730465
Cerulean is silent for a moment, but then comes up from behind and gently hugs her, not one of her bear hugs. Thessaly can see Cerulean is smiling warmly.
"Its okay, cause I'm sorry, too. I…really shouldn't have lashed at you like I did.. We were all stressing out. And of course I'd save you. I may've been angry with you, but that doesn't mean I want you dead. I still like you." She lets go.
"Now, let's get out of here. Together."

 No.730468

>>730466

Cutlass runs up to the gate where her crewmates are. "I would have just killed them," Cutlass comments. "But, whatever, the damage is done now. Someone give me something to increase the volume of my voice."

 No.730469

>>730463
>>730462
>>730465
"So you guys kinda dealt with Auntzi, and then also dealt with this guy too? What else is there left in the manor then?"

>>730466
Cloud chuckles in his usual way, but a bit nervous as well.
"Dying is the last thing on my mind. I can't go leaving you alone more than I already have. Love you too."
He says before they entire the Foyer.

>>730466
"… Is this it? I thought the mansion would look worse, or something."
Cloud comments as they walk into the normal looking foyer, lack of any sounds or conflict. Seeing Splendid though is a good sign, the first of their allies they've seen in a while.
"Hey, Splendid! Are you feeling alright?"

 No.730470

>>730466
Cerulean covers her mouth and excuses herself.
"Well that…didn't really answer anything. In fact, I think I have more questions now…."

>>730466
Cerulean looks around a bit, looking very perplexed.
"Huh? Is this another of Auntzi's tricks or something?" She eyes the Splendid suspiciously, now really on guard with everything in here.

>>730469
"Uhhh…maybe? Auntzi herself, perhaps?"

 No.730471

>>730469
"Well, 'kind of'. I believe Auntzi is still around, it was sort of a… fake."

>>730466
"Are we… back? He asks, cocking his head to the side in confusion. "It is kind of, uhm…I-I do not know."
His confused frown evaporates when he spots Splendid, and lets out a somewhat-excited chirp "Splendid! Is that you?"

 No.730472

>>730470
"It is hard to say, honestly- I feel like this might just be another 'round'."

 No.730473

>>730467
She stiffens at first and instinctively pulls away, but then relaxes, awkwardly returning the hug with one arm. She gives a slight smile in return. "We are all on edge, I suppose, aren't we. In untold decades, I've never come across anything quite like this. …We cannot prevail alone. Let's finish this."

>>730469
"Auntzi's body is destroyed," she clarifies, "and that settled the debt with Seravelum. She herself is still in control. We have not yet destroyed her. But we will. And Obstinance too, if he intervenes."

>>730466
She immediately distrusts everything in front of her. "More smoke and mirrors, Auntzi?" she says, more to herself but loud enough for anyone nearby to hear. "You're getting predictable." She looks around, peering through His Eye, pre-emptively squinting in case she's blasted with light from it.
[1d10] Perception

>>730462
>>730471
She looks over to Alder with apprehension. "Don't trust your eyes," she warns quietly. "Odds are this is another parlor trick."

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.730474

>>730468
"And then I would reduce you to bloody pieces for killing civilians," Colobok calmly says. He takes a shotgun from a nearby mook, and rapidly fires three rounds into the air, causing the mob to scatter and stumble backwards in shock, though they do not disperse. Nearby, Droplet grabs you with telekinesis and lifts you up so that the crowd can see you. They start to quiet down somewhat, realizing that this means you've got something to say.

>>730470
>>730471
>>730469
>>730473
Splendid stirs and shudders a little as you call out to her. As you get closer, you notice that she's got bags under her eyes, too. She grumbles and stretches groggily, her eyes red and exhausted. Upon seeing you, however, she leaps backward, fingers trembling with shock and confusion. She reaches for the rope at her side, but Mallea steps forward.

"No! I made the same mistake earlier," Mallea says. "We're real, every last one of us… and we've come upon the truth."

Splendid shudders out a sigh, falling forward with her face in her claws. "Were… were we of any help? Th-the notes, I hope they weren't useless."

From other rooms, you hear the sounds of various hooves walking out from various other rooms. In short order, you see Ossie, Schnitzel, Plague, Puddin, Zerk and Paraiba making their way to the foyer. They look shocked to see you, but mostly they look exhausted. Paraiba and Schnitzel in particular look like they've been made numb, perhaps even dead inside.

>>730473
You look around the first level again, but My Eye might as well be useless right now. The golden glowing is so ubiquitous that you can hardly see anything through it.

But from above… you can hear a faint clicking of mandibles.

 No.730475

>>730474
Cloud looks as each of their allies comes into the foyer, all looking worse for wear.
"Good, we're all back together. We have to be done now if we aren't all scattered, right?"

 No.730476

>>730474
Alder's frown returns when he sees how ragged the griffon looks, and gently grabs her claws. "The notes helped out a lot, Splendid. Thank you, really. Are you feeling… okay? Hurt, any?"

>>730474
Alder offers a bit of a wave to the others, and says "Hello. It is a great relief to see that none of what we saw was, ahm… real."

 No.730477

>>730474
She's still not entirely sure if she can trust what she's seeing, but it becomes more and more evident that this isn't a trick. She breathes a quiet sigh of relief seeing everyone in one piece, at least physically. "They were," she nods to Splendid. "A bit vague, but we pieced it together well enough. …You all look like you've been through the wringer. Good to see everyone made it, at least."

>>730474
>>730472
>>730471
>>730470
>>730469
After greeting the rest of the crew, she points up toward where she heard the sound just now. "We aren't alone. There's something up there. Auntzi, no doubt."

 No.730478

>>730474

"They're not civilians if they're attacking you," Cutlass responds calmly. "They're enemies. The lives of your crewmates are more important than a bunch of idiots who won't listen."

Cutlass lets a little "eep" when she is telekinetically lifted.

"The people you are looking for are safe!" Cutlass shouts across the crowd. "Mallea was not responsible for their capture! A demon captured her along with the rest of them! But, they've escaped now. So, everyone please calm down. You're only making the situation worse with panic and aggression."

[1d10+1] Whisper in your Ear

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10

 No.730479

>>730477
>>730474
"What do we do? Head upstairs, or bring it down here?"
Cloud asks, looking up to the ceiling, wondering if he can hear what Thessaly heard.
>Perception [1d10+1]
>Echolocation

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5

 No.730480

>>730474
"Oh great! You're all okay! Well, as okay as we can be in this place."

>>730477
"Oh? Well just means we'll have to beat her up again, then."

 No.730481

>>730477
"Ah. Well, I figured it would not be over yet… I suppose we waste no time, and go?"

 No.730482

>>730479
>>730480
>>730475
>>730476
>>730477
"Reckon we won't be close to 'okay' for a good long while," Splendid grimly cackles, blinking away tears.
"I don't even want to know how many times it took," Plague grumbles, leaning over the railing of the second floor balcony.

"You sure?" many voices ask from above. "Because guess what? I know exactly how many times."

You look up, and see a mind-bending world above you. Overhead, the ceiling starts to transform. The ceiling's wood planks fold back and above them, instead of the night sky, you see another foyer, as if you were looking at it from a bird's eye view. That foyer's floor falls away, revealing another foyer below it, viewed from below – and the sequence repeats, almost like two mirrors looking at one another.

And in the opened foyers, lining the walls, crawling across floating furniture and wooden beams, you see dozens… or perhaps even a hundred.

Green and yellow scarab shells.

Each one of them, an Auntzi.

Each one of them looks down at you with a glowing grin of split mandibles.

>>730478
"These people are far too weak to be worth the force," Colobok says. "Your line of thinking leads to abuse of power by the insincere. But we shall save this discussion for another time."

One of the Krikral shoves his way forward through the crowd, coming toward you. Just as Sparkler raises her hoof to stop him, he tosses up a claw. "Wait, wait! I can translate for you!"

You don't recognize him, but he looks a lot like the nameless mantis you met on the small island northeast of Kaco. He spins about, and starts to, as far as you can tell, repeat what you said, but in the language of the Krikral. Your words seem to reach at least a few of them. A few start to lower their weapons, but many others keep them close. A few bark retorts and replies to you.

The translator looks over his shoulder at you. "They want proof! They won't believe you unless they see it for themselves. They think you're under la brujita's spell!"

 No.730483

>>730482
Alder lets out a nervous giggle, before reaching up to wipe away the tears and saying "A-Ah, right. Bad choice of words, I apologize. I just wanted to make sure you were not injured in, well… a way I could fix."

>>730482
"I, uhm… hmm. Do each of these represent a failed attempt? I think I am at more of a loss now than before…"

 No.730484

>>730482
She looks up, looking thoroughly disgruntled. "Are we supposed to be impressed or afraid? What are you trying to prove to us, little ghost?" She points out the door towards the Heatwave. "Either we destroy you or Obstinance does. There's no scenario where you escape unscathed. Your death will amount to the same as your life. A zero sum. So why don't you come down here and finish it?" she hisses.

 No.730485

>>730482
Cloud looks up as the voice calls out, peering into the morphing ceiling as it melts away and reveals another foyer, filled with scarabs like a sea of bugs even worse than the kalphite den.
"That's Auntzi?"
Cloud says, getting a bit worried.

 No.730486

>>730482
"Ugh…just give it up, already. We played your dumb games, now how about letting us go? Your house is nice and all, but I'd like to get ready for my cooler deep sea dive soon."

 No.730487

>>730486
>>730483
>>730484
>>730485
The countless Auntzis hiss and buzz with barely-concealed displeasure and contempt, masked poorly behind sneering overconfidence. "Hide behind your scathing words all you want. If I fall to Obstinance, it will be as you die with me, burned to death in his all-consuming immolation! You have come close to me, been subject to my Magatsuhi, and cavorted with Seravelum and Regalaseab to fight me. You are spattered in demonic influence, and so to him, you are just the same as me: A blight to be burned away, along with half of this town, just to be on the safe side. Look at my power! I far outstrip any of you. You will not survive his torch without me! I'm offering you one final chanc–"

Suddenly, you hear a knock at the entrance hall door. A very high, warbling voices comes through, just barely male, and always on the verge of cracking.

"Uhh… I have a delivery for one Mallea de Valle… I need a signature on this… please…"

>roll perception if you go to the door


Despite all you've been through, the Auntzis and your allies look flabbergasted at this strange interruption.

 No.730488

>>730487
Welcoming this sudden distraction, Cerulean shrugs and decides to play along.
"Alright, but just a warning: I don't write good," she says and goes to the door to open it.

>I think the music effect still works?

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10

 No.730489

>>730482

Cutlass thinks it over for a moment.

"I can go get them right now. They're right inside. But, the true captors are still at large. So, things are still a little dangerous. Which means I still need you all to please stay calm."

Cutlass motions for Droplet to let her down. She then calls Droplet, Sparkler, and LMS in for a group huddle. "Here's the thing," she says quietly enough that no one else can hear her. "If Obstinence IS involve in their behavior, then they're going to continue to be like this until they come out here. Without proof, they'll just keep being obstinate."

"Why didn't they just come out here…?" she grumbles. "I'll go get them. Watch the crowd. Be careful."

 No.730490

>>730487
"All I am surrounded by is fear and ghosts. Rain down on me, Auntzi. I dare you." She surreptitiously touches the Karmic Seed to see if it is reacting, before turning to the door, as confused as the rest of them as to who this might be.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.730491

>>730487
"If you're as powerful as you say, you would've done something by now!"
Cloud says, calling out her bluff. That is, until there's a knock at the door, something Cloud cannot believe he is hearing, given what they hard over the conch.
"That… That can't be right, the townsfolk are mobbing outside the manor."

Cloud steps towards the door cautiously to see who it is, but let's the others go first as they step forward to open it.
>Perception [1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.730492

>>730487
Perception [1d10] (+1 if Master Thief applies)

Alder starts for the door after Cerulean, and looks around with a bit of a frown. "I suppose I could do the signature."

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.730493

>>730491
>>730492
>>730490
>>730488
As you approach the door and reach for the handle, your body seizes up with a sudden, instinctual sense of overflowing danger. Though it is faint, and muffled, your ears can pick up on a quiet tune – one played on flutes, a stringed instrument, chimes and a drum.

Cerulean recognizes it immediately.

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

"Th-that's okay… I just need a signature on it…" the warbling voice on the other side says, only cracking twice this time.

>Are you sure you want to do this…?


>>730489
The familiar mantis translates your words to the crowd. Though many of them still seem apprehensive, your promise of proof seems to assuage them for now.

Droplet, Sparkler and LMS nod and turn back to the crowd, leaving you as you walk back up to the manor. As you reach the front door, you notice that it is just barely ajar.

Peeking inside, you see a partially-translucent Obstinance at the far end of the entrance hall, speaking to the doorway in the voice of an awkward teenager. He sways slightly, and has a half-empty bottle clutched in one fist. Small colorful wisps, shaped like ghostly paper dolls, flow in and out of the wind chimes all over his poncho, playing a soft song. Some of the wisps cling to his gauntlets and to his boots. The places where the wisps cling to his body are those which are most translucent.

 No.730494

>>730493
Your bodies*

I wrote those for one character and hastily adapted it for the plural sense, can you tell?

 No.730495

>>730493
"How is it out there? It seems awfully quiet…"
Cloud asks the voice, worried this might be another trick of Auntzi's.

 No.730496

>>730493
"Oh! Hey, its Obstinance," she says excitedly to everyone in the room.

 No.730497

>>730496
>>730493
Alder reaches out, before pulling his hand back and cocking his head to the side. "It is? Hmm?"

 No.730498

>>730493
>>730492
>>730491
>>730488
She freezes in place, her proverbial hackles up, starting to put two and two together. Who else would be knocking, after all. "It's him," she calls out in warning. "Cerulean, get away from the door. Mallea, any idea what we should do? He'll almost certainly try to force his way in. Auntzi… I hope you're happy." She grabs the Liber Animarum, flipping through the pages in agitation, trying to see if she can find something that will help them out of this mess.
[1d10] Insight?

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.730499

>>730495
>>730497
>>730496
The music stops as Cerulean points out the obvious.

"…Really?" Obstinance asks.

 No.730500

>>730499
"Wait…was I not supposed to say that out loud?" She smacks herself in the face.
"Ahh darnit! I'm sorry! Hey, can we have a do-over? Just forget what I said, alright?"

>>730498
"You sure? I mean, he was the one who gave me this Yana doohickey thing."

 No.730501

>>730493

"What in the world is this?" Cutlass asks Obstinence with an amused expression on her face.

>>730495
>>730496
>>730497
>>730498

"Guys!" Cutlass calls from the other side of the door. "Just don't open the door. I'm guessing he needs to be let in. That or he just really enjoys irony."

Then, Cutlass pauses. "I also realize that that could also sound like a trick. But, at this point, that'd be some really ridiculous double-reverse-psychology nonsense. Would… Could you describe that as obstinate?"

"Just… don't open the door."

 No.730502

>>730501
"Ah- uhm, okay. I will leave the door shut, then."

 No.730503

>>730500
"If he comes in, he will raze the manor to cinders. Then he'll come after us for consorting with demons. Do. Not. Open. It."

>>730501
"Ah. There you are. Rest assured, we have no intent to open this door."

 No.730504

>>730498
Not many demons are available to you at the moment. Of the demons listed in the first two chapters of the Animarum, Fezoar seems most suited to combat.

But… there's something interesting at the end of the second chapter. In keeping with the theme of how the second chapter is only unlocked after a properly botched summoning, you see a note about the unlocking of the third chapter. Unlocking that third chapter requires three uses of the "Heretic's Jewel" – an unpredictable sigil that may summon an unknown demon from a later chapter. Perhaps…

>>730500
>>730501
>>730495
>>730496
>>730497
Thessaly, Alder, Cerulean and Pyrite can hear footsteps receding from the door. Cutlass sees him turning about, taking one last swig of his alcohol.

"Pardon me, miss," he says to Cutlass, as he walks all the way back to the very front door, where he spins about. "But some people just don't understand the importance of putting on a good entrance."

"This is the worst day ever," the Auntzis sigh. They raise their hands, and the door is suddenly cloaked with a massive layer of thick black mold, sealing it from floor to ceiling. "There. That should hold, just in case he–"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUdKGo1XRYE

With a step so quick that it creates a shockwave, Obstinance takes off, leaping for the door to the entrance hall in a single bound, his knee raised to bash it down.

[1d10+4]

>Paused


Roll #1 8 + 4 = 12

 No.730505

>>730496
>>730499
"That's Obstinance? How is he here at hte door?"
He looks up at the Auntzi scarabs, then to the door again.
"Is the time loop or whatever done then?"

>>730501
When Cutlass shouts through the door, Cloud is left further confused.
"Cutlass? How did you get out there?"

 No.730506

>>730499
>>730503
Cerulean nods, then looks back to the door.
"Sorry, but we got this one handled. We're just waiting on this demon ghost thing to stop hiding like a clownfish in the anemone. Mind giving us…I dunno how much time, but some more time to chew her up? I've been craving something crunchy lately, and all this place has is soft, chewy stuff." She then backs away from the door and looks back up to the Auntzis.
"Okay, now I don't have the stomach to chew on each of you, so whoever is the real Auntzi get down here."

 No.730507

>>730505
>>730506
>>730504
"No," Obstinance grunts to Cerulean and Cloud. "You ruined it."

>Correction


Once he finishes backing up to the front, Cutlass can see him wave his claw. The sprites that are flowing in and out of his wind chimes stop for a moment. "Put on something exciting," he instructs them.

The sprites start to flow again, this time playing something far more suited for battle.

>as in they are literally playing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUdKGo1XRYE

 No.730836

Last time, on PirateQuest…

The party narrowly escaped the flood of black tar that Auntzi summoned to destroy the basement. Visions of their past selves, leftover remnants of Auntzi's imperfect time rewinds, flew past them, recording an unknown number of past failures. But this, just maybe, could be the one in which they succeed.

Their exit was another one of Mallea and Palafox's secret passageways, this one connecting the basement to the greenhouse in the backyard. Upon their escape, they found that the entire town of Gecko was surrounded by a Heatwave, much like what the Queens had used in their attempts to exterminate the villages of Kaco Island. The culprit for putting this up was none other than Obstinance, who had told them three days ago that he would set up a "barrier" around the town. Perhaps this suggested that either he, or the Virtues in general, had a hand in the attempted genocide on Kaco, but there was no time for speculation.

Cerulean, Thessaly, Alder, Cloud and Mallea made a beeline for the manor once more so they could stop Auntzi before Obstinance got involved further. Cutlass, meanwhile, went around to the front in order to help the crews of the Beesting and the Hidden Dagger quell the rioting mob of townsfolk outside before things turned violent. Ironically, the mob was there because they wanted to help the party. As far as the townsfolk knew, the very people who saved their ostrich ranches had vanished without a trace after entering Mallea's manor, and so they thought that Mallea had tricked them in order to lure them into a trap. This was far from the truth, but they would need to see concrete evidence before they relented.

Inside the manor's foyer, the party found Splendid, and the rest of their missing allies gathered with them in short order from the various other rooms that they had been in at sundown, three days prior, when Auntzi's time loop began. After countless failures, and an unknown number of deaths and conflicting timelines of events, all were thoroughly exhausted. This, Auntzi counted on. She and hundreds of past iterations of herself appeared above them in a kaleidoscope of past timelines, preparing to unleash a final attack…

But just as she appeared, there came a knock at the door. A voice claiming to be a delivery pony asked to be let in so he could get a signature on a delivery. Such an absurd claim, as they quickly deduced, could only come from the drunkard Obstinance, who had used his magical wisps to slip past Cutlass and enter the manor through the front door.

He was surprised and disappointed that his obvious ploy was found out, and so switched to his backup plan:

Complete annihilation of the manor.

 No.730837

>Thessaly
Not many demons are available to you at the moment. Of the demons listed in the first two chapters of the Animarum, Fezoar seems most suited to combat.

But… there's something interesting at the end of the second chapter. In keeping with the theme of how the second chapter is only unlocked after a properly botched summoning, you see a note about the unlocking of the third chapter. Unlocking that third chapter requires three uses of the "Heretic's Jewel" – an unpredictable sigil that may summon an unknown demon from a later chapter. Perhaps…

>Everyone

"No," Obstinance grunts to Cerulean and Cloud. "You ruined it."

Thessaly, Alder, Cerulean and Cloud can hear footsteps receding from the entrance hall's door. Cutlass sees Obstinance stepping back all the way to the very front door. "Pardon me, miss," he says as he passes by. "But some people just don't understand the importance of putting on a good entrance."

He stops and waves a claw at the wisps flowing in and out of the chimes on his poncho. They stop flowing, ending his background music.

"Put on something exciting," he instructs them as he starts to stretch with a few lunges. "Something much more suited for battle, you know?"

The sprites start to flow again, this time producing the slow buildup to the menacing theme of a monster.

"This is the worst day ever," the Auntzis sigh. They raise their hands, and the door is suddenly cloaked with a massive layer of thick black mold, sealing it from floor to ceiling. "There. That should hold, just in case he–"

https://youtu.be/MUdKGo1XRYE?t=39

With a step so quick that it creates a shockwave, Obstinance takes off, leaping for the door to the entrance hall in a single bound, his knee raised to bash it down.

[1d10+4: 12]

 No.730838

>>730837
She rolls her eyes at Obstinance's theatrics, preparing herself for a fight. "Another talker. You and Auntzi were made for each other," she remarks before turning back to the Animarum, deciding to press on, reading how to use the Heretic's Jewel.
[1d10] if needed

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.730839

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>730837
Cloud steps back from the door as Obstinance confirms his identity, and a few more once the door is covered with mold.
"Great, now we have to deal with the demon and this guy too?"

 No.730840

>>730838
>>730839
>>730837
"Maybe we just let them wear each other out? I have had quite enough today."

 No.730841

>>730839
She nods. "Now there are two stubborn wretches here to make us miserable. Grand, don't you think."

>>730840
"As have we all. But that nearsighted barbarian will burn this house to the ground if we don't intervene. I, for one, don't intend on giving someone like him one inch of victory."

 No.730842

>>730841
"A-Ah, right. Who first, then? Obstinance?"

 No.730843

>>730840
"Can we do that? I feel like both are going to attack everything that isn't themselves."

>>730841
"And we still have that mob outside to calm down too."

 No.730844

>>730842
She thinks, then nods. "He does not seem as strong as Auntzi. He is only one man, and a drunkard at that. I don't see him being much of a threat."

>>730843
"It seems our glorious captain is seeing to that. Doubtless making a dog's breakfast of it," she adds snidely. "…If I may ask. Why do you serve her? She has done little to convince me to follow her since we met. Especially with how you two bicker and bite. If I were you, I would have turned tail and joined Bee Holder's crew a long time ago."

 No.730845

>>730837
"Man…this is starting to feel like the circus all over again with all this stuff coming together," Cerulean remarks and gets her tail ready for a fight with…whoever at this point.

 No.730846

>>730844
"Me? Serve her?"
loud questions in astonishment before laughing.
"She's not my captain, I'm with the Bee Holders. The only reason I'd do anything she'd say is part of that debt I owe now since she covered my surgery."

 No.730847

>>730844
"We should be careful all the same, though- even if he is just a drunkard, he may have something up his sleeve, yes?"

 No.730848

>>730846
"Ah. Then you are wiser than many," she remarks. "Once this is all over, I fully intend on correcting my errors and abandoning her for Bee Holder."

>>730847
"Doubtless he does," she replies. "These Virtues are nothing to take lightly. Even so, there are thirteen of us, plus Auntzi, and only one of him. This will be over quickly."

 No.730849

>>730848
"Well, you say that, but he's got these paper things with him that can play music. I think they could do more…."

 No.730850

>>730848
"Heh, she isn't gonna be happy with that."
Cloud says with a chuckle.
"Let me be the first to give early welcome to the better crew of the two."
He says, offering out his hoof for a shake.

 No.730851

>>730850
"Oh no, whatever shall I do," she says dryly with a thin lipped smile, returning the hoofshake.

>>730849
She tilts her head slightly. "Curious. Paper and fire don't normally go hand in hand, but he seems to juggle both. I suppose we'll see how this pans out."

 No.730852

>>730849
"What sorts of things do you think they do? Do you happen to know any in particular?"

>>730851
"Well, welcome to the crew then, Miss Thessaly. It will be nice to have such a talented mage with us." the griffon says, offering a bow.

 No.730853

>>730851
>>730852
"Nope, not really. Other than he also wears tough, hug-resistant armor; I don't really know anything else about him."


[Last 50 Posts]
[Go to top] [Catalog] [Return][Post a Reply]
Delete Post [ ]
[ art / co / ot / q / qt / v ] [ 3dpd / unf ] [ g / sic ] [ countdown / hyperindex / linkboard / quest archive / stream ] [ Hamburger Time Calendar / MLPG Beacon / Donate / Game & Mumble Servers ] [ Rules & FAQs / Credits ] [ Mod ] [ home ]