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File: 1591974137397.jpg (507.7 KB, 1920x1152, 1551406503602.jpg)

 No.740659[Last 50 Posts]

Last time, on Anno Castra…

The party set out from Ironcastle with their deliveries in tow, and bore witness to the awesome destruction of the land caused by the stampede of the Dreaded Ones. All the badlands to the north, east and west had been trampled and reshaped by the passage of the Dreaded Ones who were whipped into a frenzy by the Siren Singer's call. Crags and hills had been stamped flat, low valleys uprooted and shaped again into steep crags. Heaps of rubble and corpses of trampled Dreaded Ones lay underfoot. At least now this meant a somewhat easier passage from Ironcastle to their first stop.

They headed north over the trampled badlands, and found that the Old World town had been little affected by the stampedes, even though the land surrounding it had clearly been trampled. Why the town and the fortress was spared was unknown. It was getting late in the Cycle, so they decided to stop and rest here.

By the lakeside just south of the Abandoned Fortress, they saw a Helping Hoof, an Old World tankpony robot, designed for household cleaning and defense. It had just slain a pair of Sightseers, and took up residence in the Fortress. After some deliberation, the party went to the Fortress to investigate. There, the robot ambushed Zamrud, but seemed to be asking him for directions in Old Equish. It sought to know where it was in relation to a place called "Canterlot," a term unknown to the party. They discovered that the robot had a function for learning new languages and regional dialects, and so they spent the rest of this Cycle teaching it modern Equish by providing audio samples.

Good decided to give it a "Spicy Señorita" accent. Its ultimate accent would be determined by the aggregate of the audio samples provided, so other party members still have a chance to influence it in that regard, if desired.

 No.740660

Your alarms beep for 0600 hours. Your rest was peaceful and uneventful, overall. Good, who took the first shift, saw nothing of note out on the horizon, and in general it seemed that this stretch of the badlands lay almost totally abandoned since the passage of the Siren Singer.

The second watch, overseen by Zamrud, was similarly without note. The only real issue was the number of bugs that needed to be chased away from the campsite, as they had been attracted by the crumbs following the mishap that was the grilled cheese and bisque. At least the bugs seemed to like it.

As you rise and collect yourselves, you see the Helping Hoof rolling around the perimeter of the Abandoned Fortress, having apparently begun a shift of guard duty on its own initiative.

 No.740661

>>740659
Likely if Grutar had any audio samples, it was clips of dogs like him getting into scuffles or getting into not really fatal but still relatively painful AND comedic accidents. The whole time Grutar laughing at the videos while he told the machine of different similar incidents he has had or his friends have had.

 No.740662

>>740661
Such programs were surprisingly popular between 20 and 30 years ago, and as such, there are ample archives of footage, highlight reels, "Best of" compilations, and the like, along with amateur submissions that never made the final cut for these programs. The Helping Hoof watched with silent rapt the previous night as it studied your samples.

 No.740663

>>740660
Good had done his best over the course of his shift to put on an effeminate sounding voice and an accent to try and help the robot learn while he kept watch. While the first task was easy due to his normally soft spoken and slightly high pitched voice, his accent skills needed a bit of work.

He stirred and popped some water from his canteen to wash the nasty taste of morning breath and what remained of the previous nights less than decent meal.

 No.740664

>>740659
>>740660
>If the accent was wanted, the griffon could've been convinced to offer up some of his voice as a sample for something more fitting to what the party was looking for.

The griffon arises rather early, as he always does. He's ready to go whenever the party decides.

 No.740665

>>740663
>>740664
Trajan hops out of his little sleeping-place, rising along with the others. He looks up at you and clicks his claws as a manner of greeting.

 No.740666

>>740665
Good smiled and reached into his pouch and pulled some rations out to split with his little buddy for a quick meal.

 No.740667

>>740665
Qhapaq looks down at the scorpion and clacks his talons together in response.

 No.740668

>>740660
When Grutar manages to wake up, he would go through a usual routine of taking his rations and then making sure all of his equipment is on him at the ready.

 No.740669

>>740665
Little ol Billy waves his hand at the group while rubbing at his eyes with his other claw as he lifts himself from the world of dreams. "Goodmorning." He states out loud in a yawn.

 No.740670

>>740659
>>740660
The next morning, after Zamrud begrudgingly cleans up after his somewhat disappointing show of a dinner last night, he rises bright and early to see over the others, stretching his limbs and trying to whip together some simple eggs and hash-browns for a quick to-go breakfast as he looks about their campgrounds within the Fortress.

"Hope you all slept well last evening. We have another long day ahead of us."
After he finishes cooking, he goes and looks for the Helping Hoof, curious how its compilation came along last evening following his Equish lessons and the others' attempt at providing it with an exotic accent.

 No.740671

>>740669
>>740670
>>740668
>>740667
>>740666
After checking that your equipment and deliveries are intact, not robbed, and ready to go, you set out for the Fortress's front entrance once more, and once you are there, the Helping Hoof comes around the corner, its one eye lighting up a friendly shade of blue.

"Buenos días, señores," it says in a somewhat ambiguous voice, neither male nor female. "I seem to be having trouble locating the coffee maker. Please present your coffee maker in front of the retinal scanner now so that I can whip up a fresh pot this morning."

These terms – días and morning – hold no meaning for you, strange words that you can't recall ever having taught it.

>when ready to depart, Zamrud roll 1d100

 No.740672

>>740671
Upon hearing the notion of coffee, Grutar starts to look around to the others. "Wha-… Coffee? Did one of you bring a coffee maker with you and didn't tell me?!" He seemed annoyed at the idea of someone hiding all the coffee for themselves, especially in the morning.

 No.740673

>>740671
Billy decides to wave at the machine amused, announcing his own feelings with a giggle. "Well ain't that something new, did any of you do that?" He asked pointing to the bot before them.

 No.740674

>>740671
>>740672
"Perhaps it simply remembers things from… whatever its original purpose was intended to be. I, for one, do not have a coffee maker."

 No.740675

>>740671
Well I assume its trying to learn." he went looking on his magicomp for videos that might have the accent needed to match the words. He assumed those were words associated with the accent on context.

 No.740676

>>740674
"Can robots remember things? They don't strike me as the type to do so?" Billy can't help but think out loud in a question.

 No.740677

>>740671
As he meets up with the Helping Hoof, Zamrud rubs his chin, intrigued by the odd vernacular. "Odd… I do not think we covered those in our lessons. But, regardless," he smiles, "It is a pleasure to be able to hold a conversation with you in a modern language. I have a few items I use to brew coffee in the morning, if you'd care to use them."

"Now, we have to be getting on fairly soon, but unless you have anywhere more important to be, would you care to travel with us? Considering how you handled the Dreaded Ones in this area, I think your company would make us all feel a good bit safer."

[1d100] When ready, here's the roll

>>740672
Always prepared, Zamrud shows off a few items from his camping kit: a simple bean-grinder, a can of 'Ebirony' beans, and the camping stove he uses to heat the water. "Doesn't beat the sort I tend to brew in the kitchen, but when on the road, I find it pulls through in a pinch."

Roll #1 100 = 100

 No.740678

>>740677
[1d100] Non rigged

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.740679

>>740677
[100] test

 No.740680

>>740677
>>740675
>>740674
>>740673
>>740672
>>740673
Good references again and again the archives of text, audio and video media stored upon his comp. Every comp assigned to those with clearance to explore the Outlands receives a veritable library of such content, a few terabytes in size, to help them interpret any comparable Old World fixtures they come across – signs, machines, and the like.

However, Good searches for every possible spelling of 'dias' and 'morning,' but turns up only a small collection of hits each time. Said hits exclusively consist of declassified records of mythology relating to supposed technological feats of the ancients, known as "The Moon" and "The Sun." Strange devices they supposedly were, Lamps much like those each of you now carries. Artist renderings depict them as rectangular or cylindrical devices, propped on high mountains by miles and miles of sprawling black wires.

As Zamrud offers his coffee-making technology, the machine's eyes blink. "Please present your coffee maker in front of the retinal scanner now so that I can whip up a fresh pot this morning."

 No.740681

>>740680
He huffed and frowned and began to look up Senorita since that was a word he knew and others knew. That might get some audio logs worth looking for. He'd query the bot later about the meaning of those other words when it didn't sound quite so creepy.

 No.740682

>>740680
"I…" he says in confusion, looking at the tools he provided. "If you mean a proper coffee machine, I'm afraid it's rather difficult to carry one on our excursions. We wouldn't even have an outlet, most of the time."

"If these items won't do, then you do not need to worry about it. If you don't mind my asking, I was curious about the conversation we were holding yesterday: you mentioned you were 'lost'?"

 No.740683

>>740681
>>740680
"Did you manage to rest well." Billy asks good heading toward him at a slow wobbly pace.

 No.740684

>>740680
>>740682
Qhapaq nods a little bit when Zamrud speaks up about being 'lost', waiting patiently to hear about what exactly's up.

 No.740685

>>740677
Grutar grins widely when he catches sight of the chance at some morning coffee. "Now that's what I like to see!" He says, before offering to get some beans grinded up and some water boiled for a nice brew before they had to go.

>>740680
>>740682
Grutar leans in and whispers quite loudly. "Do you think it's trying to make a joke?"

 No.740686

>>740685
Zamrud smiles as he goes at the grinder, "I honestly do not think I would survive the Outlands without it."

As he whispers to him about the Helping Hoof, he whispers back, "I hazard a guess that this machine was not programmed for sarcasm."

 No.740687

>>740683
He looked up and beamed at Billy "About as well as I could my friend."

 No.740688

>>740687
Billy returns the smile. "Happy to hear my friend." He nods.

 No.740689

>>740681
Your search returns many results from Bronzecastle, where it seems that much of the media you "studied" when placed before your home computer originated, brought over by traveling import merchants. Bronzecastle's citizens speak mostly Horspanol, and where ponies maintain a slight racial majority in Ironcastle, donkeys and Vola maintain a majority in Bronzecastle. They are known for being industrious, playing the accordion, and having livers of steel – or bronze, as it were.

>>740681
>>740682
>>740683
>>740684
>>740685
"I am assigned to–"

The robot's voice catches slightly, and pauses. "FETCHING DATABASE RECORDS…"

A few seconds pass. Perhaps its internal circuitry requires repairs. "The Grand and Holy Patriarchate of the Fourth Boreal Empire of Canterlot. My GPS shows that I am… ERROR: UNDEFINED… kilometers from my assigned domicile. Do you think you could help point me in the right direction?"

'GPS' – another strange term. Perhaps it could be related to DPS, or Diskos Positioning System, which your comps use to map out your current position.

Once that discussion ends, you set out for the northeast.

As you travel along, the Helping Hoof follows along with you. It does not chime in on your conversations, generally speaking only when spoken to. Even then, it seems capable of only offering canned responses, no more advanced than a chatbot. It periodically stops and scans things in the environment, and an automated message plays, indicating its attempts at re-calibrating its GPS, only to fail.

About four Cycles pass in naught but slow and steady travel. After about the middle of the third Cycle, the stony and rough hills of the badlands gives way to lower, more even land. The earth underhoof becomes soft, and all is permeated by a cool moisture that defies the natural geothermic warmth of the luminescence that the earth usually produces. Near the end of the third Cycle, you notice clumps of mushrooms growing from the earth, in small gathered patches. Upon the horizon loom higher silhouettes, outlined by your armorsuits' visibility filters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN4FqiUzz3c

At around 0800 hours, on the fifth Cycle since your departure from Ironcastle, you reach the boundary of a most unusual forest, made entirely of mushrooms, some of which stretch to the size of the sequoias grown in Ironcastle's Orchards. Even higher above the caps of the mushrooms, comes a mist-like vapor, which hangs in the air, coloring all with a faint, ghostly blue light.

There is no semblance of a clear path anywhere about you, but on a hill high above, you can see the outline of a rough and small shed. You cannot see an easy way to get up to it.
At about 0800 hours on the fifth Cycle,

 No.740690

>>740689
Good had spent a good chunk of the trip finding those voices which spoke the tongue to which he was more accustomed to in the Bronzecastle accent and played the audio to the Robot from time to time as he found decent ones.

Upon reaching the fungi forest though he was a bit stumped "Would some aerial views maybe help us forward?"

 No.740691

>>740689
Grutar starts to ponder more about the mushrooms, wondering if he has ever seen this in his ventures before and observes it longer to figure out what they may be. Possibly if they can eat them too.

>Figure out uses for mushrooms?

[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.740692

>>740689
"Hrm… from what I can imagine, the robot may be attempting to use something that simply isn't avialable anymore. Perhaps, if we have the time, we could let it see the 'DPS' we have? Maybe it will recognize the terrain or landscape of where it is, if nothing else- this could help it find this 'Canterlot'." he suggests, humming a little in thought.

>>740689
>>740690
"Hrm… if needbe, I could get airborne and try to get a better view." the griffon says, flapping his wings a couple of times. "Though, that mist…"
>[1d10] Knowledge roll

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.740693

>>740689
Billy points to the mushroom. "Do you think these mushrooms would be safe to eat? I do have a strong stomach for these things."

 No.740694

>>740689
"The Fourth Boreal Empire of Canterlot… fascinating." Zamrud does not recognize the name immediately, but is nevertheless made infinitely curious about this lost country.

"Well, I am afraid you are indeed a far way from your home: I do not know how to direct you towards it. Might I recommend traveling with us, and perhaps we can piece together some clues on to where that may be."

>>740689
After a long four days of travel through the Outlands, Zamrud perseveres, keeping to the safest routes along their journey towards the destination for their package as he keeps a constant eye out for trouble, following his instincts for spotting out danger.

Upon the fifth Cycle when they reach the edge of the forest, Zamrud looks up in curiosity at the tree-tall Mushrooms, turning his head in curiosity. "Fascinating… what could be making this fungi grow to such a size?" Curious, he tries to pull off a small piece of one of the stalks to study for later.

>>740690
>>740692
>>740693
"It might, Good, but I agree with Qhapaq. I do not like the looks of that mist coming off of the caps, it might be some sort of toxic spore they release."

>>740693
"You read my mind, Billy. Imagine the flavor of a gigantic stuffed mushroom using one of these specimens…"

 No.740695

>>740694
>>740690
"Muchas gracias for your assistance," the Helping Hoof says. It patiently studies Good's archival footage of raucous, spirited Bronzecastle mariachi.

It strikes you that you have not yet named this robot, or if it has given you its name.

>>740694
>>740693
>>740691
>>740692
Qhapaq recognizes the larger mushrooms above, and the mist they produce. But first, some backtracking. It is more than likely that this forest you are in is not made of mushrooms, but a mushroom. What appear to be multiple organisms are in fact one single organism, bound and fed by the same tangle of roots underneath – a single composite mushroom that paradoxically can even contain multiple species of mushroom.

To get to the point, the mushrooms above are Proavus Cathedra, and produce a mist that is hallucinogenic if inhaled in large quantities. Grutar recognizes the mushrooms below, distinguished by their flatter and more colorful caps, as Progenies Cathdra, which are generally safe to eat but not very tasty.

 No.740696

>>740695
"Well, if anyone needs more rations, we can always collect some of the mushrooms there. Taste may not be the best but hey, neither is some of the strongest drinks!" Grutar says, ready to pluck a few of the more edible mushrooms he finds should the party decide to head that way.

 No.740697

>>740696
"Hey hey, taste isn't everything. The texture might be nice. I have had a few foods like that before. So I think they would be worth grabbing." He sticks his tongue out from the side of his mouth.

 No.740698

>>740695
>>740690
>>740694
"Ah." the griffon says, blinking. "This is a single mushroom, in a way- they are all connected, in spite of the different types." the griffon says, pointing to the ground. "As for scouting above… I do not think it would be wise. The mist is being produced by the very large mushrooms, and in large amounts it can be a potent hallucinogenic. The mist is sometimes used for various practices among the Aya, though we should limit our exposure.

 No.740699

>>740695
He made a note of this but figured it'd be better to let someone else name the robot as he had already named the scorpion he considered his friend and battle brother.

>>740694
That is true, I suppose caution would be good. Also do you have any idea what we should call our mechanical friend here?"

 No.740700

>>740695
>>740699
"Right…" he says, not quite sure what 'muchas gracias' itself means but assuming by the tone it's appreciative.

"Out of curiosity, what do we call you? I know you are a 'Helping Hoof' but, do you have a designation? A moniker?"

>>740697
>>740696
"Agreed. Few ingredients taste good when eaten raw, given the right spices and amount of heat I would think these could make a delicious treat." He says, grabbing at a few of the 'Proavus' as well.

>>740698
"These are all connected to the same mushroom? What an organism, I can barely imagine the mass."

"Good call on the mist, Qhapaq. I agree: let's make due on foot best we can, if we find ourselves in more dire straights we can chance an aerial scout later. You said it is only in large amounts? Suppose holding your breath while going through it should be safe enough then?"

 No.740701

>>740700
"You may call me… ERROR: FILE CORRUPT… what can I call you?" the robot answers.

 No.740702

>>740701
>>740699
"You may call me Zamrud. As to your name… I am afraid that is somewhat difficult for me to pronounce. Would you accept a new one?"

 No.740703

>>740700
"Holding our breath would indeed help, yes. It would likely be best to avoid doing it until necessary, since we do not know where else within this tangled mass the mist may lie. I am quite hardy, so if it is for the best, I will scout."

 No.740704

>>740702
"To add a new nickname, please say 'Nickname Entry Protocol,' followed by my new nickname. Please note that it may take up to 15 minutes for me to recognize my new nickname."

 No.740705

>>740704
>>740699
"Fair enough…" he pauses, looking to Good. "Well, it would appear it's in need of one. Any suggestions, young Lord?"

>>740703
"Right, but as you said: avoid doing it until necessary. We just entered the woods, let's not count ourselves out just yet."

 No.740706

>>740705
I surrender to you my friend. It would be selfish to name all of our companions myself."

>>740698
Ah I see. I would be remiss if you were hurt because I asked you to fly there. I suppose we should search for a path to that shed by foot."

 No.740707

>>740704
"I am ok with not giving a nickname, I doubt I can come up with anything better than you guys can." Billy mentioned out to the group.

 No.740708

>>740705
>>740706
>>740703
>>740699
>>740696
>>740697
You proceed on hoof to the cabin, somewhat tricky business now, for the ground underneath is not only hilly and raised, but covered with clusters of mushrooms now. Your robot follows along, crushing the mushrooms underneath with its treads.

The cabin lacks a front door, and several of its panels are missing as well. It seems to have been empty for quite a while. Inside is the remnant of a bed, devoid of all but a mattress, and across from it is a typewriter, two standing combination lockers, and a small cloth bag. While everything in the cabin appears immeasurably old, covered with a patina of rust and dust, the cloth bag looks relatively new.

 No.740709

>>740708
"Hrm. Perhaps someone else is passing through here- this bag is very much so not like its surroundings." the griffon notes, looking around for anything else, inside or outside of the cabin, that might look recent.
>Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.740710

>>740708
While Grutar searches for as much as he can grab, he keeps a watchful eye out for any dangers or treasures that he may find along the way.

>Plucking Edible Mushrooms while looking around

[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.740711

>>740708
>>740708
Good looked around and decided to try his luck and opening the lockers by means of brute force or even some of his magic to help achieve the feat.

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.740712

>>740708
>>740711

Following the example of his friend he decides to try and pry open the metal boxes. Kinda like a treasure chest that lacks decor.

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.740713

>>740706
"Really? Me?" Zamrud says, rubbing his chin as he thinks of this development. "Hmmm… well, I could give it a shot."

He turns towards the Helping Hoof, "Nickname Entry Protocol," he says, before taking a few moments to consider a name.
>still thinking of a name, will post separate so as not to hold up the game

>>740708
As they spot out a cabin ahead, Zamrud follows the group over the rough terrain, looking ahead with curiosity at what it is doing here. "Hmmm… I wonder how long this cozy little hovel has been standing here?"

[1d10+1] Perception
[1d10] Alleycat

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

 No.740714

>>740709
>>740711
>>740712
>>740710
As the party members gather around the lockers, there is a sudden and loud crashing from above, and a heavy, nail-filled board snaps and falls from the ceiling, cracking down onto Billy, Good and Qhapaq. Each of them lose 1 Wound. After the board falls, you hear a rapid skittering and a babbling, clicking sound. Some hideous, deformed little creature, probably a Dreaded One, barely larger than a mushroom, runs out from the cabin into the misty forest.

It's as you follow the trajectory of this small Dreaded One out the door that you see another small figure, a pony wearing a hood, standing at the threshold. She appears to be a filly, judging by her stature, but most strangely, she isn't wearing an armorsuit. It's as you look at her arm, which is aloft and holding mushrooms in the crook, that you can see she is naught but bone – a skeleton. She looks at you briefly, and from beneath her hood, there is a brief telekinetic glow.

An old-world shotgun floats out from the side of her cloak, and points at each of you. She clatters her teeth in a mimicry of speech, but you cannot understand what she is saying, if anything.

 No.740715

>>740714
Good let out a cry of pain as he was suddenly impaled by nails and partially crushed, Though he quickly moved to stand between the skeleton and his friends

"Oh uh, hello there. I'm sorry we didn't know this was your home, we thought it was abandoned." he said trying to fill the door enough to take any kind of shot head on.

 No.740716

>>740714
>Have an idea on the name but will introduce it after this scene

>>740714
As the board falls away and lands on Good, Bily, and Qhapaq, Zam's eyes light up with alarm, as he reaches for his sachsum. "Dreaded One! Everyone keep sharp."

He follows the creature outside, looking to see where it goes before his attention is drawn to the filly standing not too far away. This disarms Zamrud at first as he cautiously approaches, only for him to double-back with shock as he sees the filly is naught but a skeleton.

As she prepares the shot-gun, Zamrud raises his knife to bear, but keeps the other hand out. "Hold your fire, miss. We did not come here to start a fight."

 No.740717

>>740714
"Ouch!" Billy loudly exclaims as he was attacked by the building. As he gets back up and spots the skeleton filly he makes another exclamation. "Huh, who is this?"

 No.740718

>>740714
Qhapaq says something- likely a curse, though not in a language that's understood- as the board bonks him on the head. He hisses softly and touches the wound softly, as if to check the severity. Within seconds, though, the wound seals itself shut. It's like he never got hit in the first place.
>Accelerated Healing: As an Automatic action (Recharge 3), you may further accelerate your body's regeneration, restoring full hits or a single wound if already at full hits.


>>740714
When Qhapaq looks back to what was going on, he looks at the shotgun with a mild amount of concern. Since she has yet to say anything, or can't say anything at all, the masked griffon simply dips his head in apologies, before holding a hand up cautiously.

 No.740719

>>740715
Qhapaq will gently step in front of Good Intentions, trying to remain as nonthreatening as possible.

 No.740720

>>740715
>>740716
>>740717
>>740718
The filly backs away a few paces, but continues to jaw away, the movements of her mouth becoming more pronounced and seemingly agitated. And then, to make matters worse, the blue eye of the Helping Hoof turns red, and it turns its head toward the filly…

[1d10+2] Mystery roll, wait for result

Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10

 No.740721

>>740714
Grutar returns from his mushroom hunting venture and spots the skeleton, he's about ready to smack that gun right away seeing it being pointed at each of Grutar's friends. But he takes a quick moment to try and figure out what exactly this thing is in the first place.
>Knowledge Roll
[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.740722

>>740721
All in all, she looks like she could be a real threat. You can't see much of her, for her hood and cloak are rather oversized.

>>740721
>>740720
>>740719
>>740718
>>740717
>>740716
>>740715
Each of you receives a ping on your magicomps, and the screen indicates that it's sent by the Helping Hoof, judging by the serial number displayed as the sender of the message. It forcibly downloads an attachment, sending your virus scanners into a frenzy. Suddenly, a voice plays from your comps.

"…y'all varmints gonna git it if you can't lissin t' some basi' direct'shns and quit snoopin' in my claim!"

A synthesized voice, but one of a filly. The filly leans in to get a better look at your comps. "What inna… you recordin' this? Ain't gonna stop me from givin' you a few extra eyes if you mean trouble."

 No.740723

>>740722
"Oh no we assure you mam we mean you no harm. We just didn't understand you until our friend there helped us. We will happily leave your home." he said putting on his polite voice and doing his best to try and come across friendly despite the pain he was in.

 No.740724

>>740722
"Ah! I suppose the Helping Hoof can translate." the griffon says, smiling a little. He turns back to the skeletal mare, before cocking his head to the side. "We have difficulty understanding you, without the robot's help. We did not mean to intrude, and would be fine leaving."

 No.740725

>>740722
Grutar is like any other dog from Zinccastle, they don't take kindly to threats and especially ones that are made when in the outlands. "If you don't stop wavin' that thing around, I'm going to break it before it even hits the ground!" He barks at her, letting the creature know he's about ready to bite back if they keep waving their weapon around at his allies.

 No.740726

>>740722
Billy scrunches his face at the lingo not quite understanding the meaning behind it but understanding the intent. "Well I didn't expect this, but I honestly was expecting to find the unexpected. Does that count?" He taps his chin.

 No.740727

>>740725
Grutar I understand your anger but let's try to make friends here. She might be able to help us."

 No.740728

>>740720
>>740722
>>740724
As the Helping Hoof's eyes turn read, and it makes ready to look like it's charging the skeleton, Zamrud looks to it with alarm, "Hold on! Do NOT engage, I-"

He is interrupted by the ping on his magicomp, suddenly listening to the rather 'colorful' southern tongue coming through on their computers.
He smiles widely, looking to Qhapaq. "I do think you're correct, Qhapaq. Well done!" He says to the Helping Hoof, before stating out its new name. "Señorita."

He turns to look towards the skeleton filly after hearing her translation, shaking his head. "Not a recording, a translation. I apologize if we stepped onto your property, we had no idea it was already claimed. Though…" he looks her up and down, "I must say if we did, we did not imagine its owner would look quite like you. You are a skeleton?"

 No.740729

>>740727
"I don't make friends easily with someone threatenin' me or my pals."

 No.740730

>>740729
I Understand Grutar, but we did invade her home. She has a right to be a bit peeved."

 No.740731

>>740730
Grutar grumbles a bit before he speaks back up. "Well if she goes peppering you with a round, don't say I didn't warn you!"

 No.740732

>>740725
"Threaten me again and I'll pop you and let that tool of yers rust in the garden shed," the filly retorts, undaunted.

>>740726
>>740724
>>740723
>>740725
>>740728
The filly looks at you, then at the delivery packages that you carry, for the packages themselves are about her own size as well. She then focuses on Zamrud. "And y'all couriers are in the wrong neck of town. This here's th' Ghostroot Forest. That stampede from a few weeks back is still bein' felt around these parts. Dreaded One territories have been thrown all out of whack lately, got a lot more roamers around here, lookin' to stake a claim. That varmint dropped from the ceiling's probably one of 'em. And that's not even to mention those bandit sightings."

After a bit more hesitation, she lowers the shotgun, but makes sure it remains visible at her side. "How much you folks willin' to pay to ensure your goods get to their destination on time?"

 No.740733

>>740732
Er I assume you are asking for a toll to pass through your lands safely? I assume you are one of these Death Knights or Necromancers we have been informed live in this area?" he asked as he moved closer and took a seat on the ground.

 No.740734

>>740732
"Ah- yes, we barely missed being caught in the stampede ourselves. Were you, uhm… caught in it?" he asks, before humming a tad. "As for the other part, I believe I will leave that to my friend, Zamrud."

 No.740735

>>740732
"Do we really need to pay, I think we have been getting along well as we are now with a few hiccups here and there, but nothing impossible so far. Though the guarantee does sound good." Billy sits on his thoughts for a while.

 No.740736

>>740732
"HAH! JOKES ON YOU, THIS TOOL IS MY ARM!" Grutar says with a guffaw.

 No.740737

>>740732
"The Ghostroot Forest." He says, looking about the many towering mushrooms. "An appropriate name. I can certainly understand how such a tumultuous event such as the stampede could shake things up around here, I am particularly curious as to what 'bandits' you are referring to."

>>740734
>>740732
As Qhapaq asks him how much he's willing to pay to see their goods get through on time, he turns a brow up at the filly. "It depends. How much difficulty would we have to deal with were we not to pay anything?"
[1d10] Alleycat to detect danger

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.740738

>>740734
"Nah, Granpaw's egg-ray-gores done a fairly good job of keepin' 'em at bay. Every now and again one of 'em might slip through the cracks, though we are on th' edge of th' territory. Bound to have a few here and ther'."

>>740736
"Y' got my condolences, then, stranger."

>>740733
>>740735
>>740734
>>740736
>>740737
Zamrud's getting some bad vibes from this whole situation, and in fact this entire region. A lack of paths indicates that it's rarely traveled, but as they've heard and seen, the dangers of the Outlands are not limited to the tangible and the visible. Getting through on their own would be significantly more dangerous without a guide than with, in any case.

"It'll be a real pain gettin' through without a guide. Fer a smaller fee, I can tell the guards that you're to be let through, but they won't offer you any more help than that. But if yer lookin' to get past all the bandits on the other end of the territory, you'll want an escort. If yer interested, I can put you through to Granpaw hisself."

 No.740739

>>740738
>>740737
>>740736
>>740735
>>740734

I suppose this Granpaw would be worth meeting if only to have an ally in this land. What do the rest of you think?" he turned to look at the rest "It may be a risk but I think it'd be better than braving a potential Dreaded one herd."

 No.740740

>>740738
"I don't like any of this, Lads. And I don't exactly wanna buy what they're sellin'. They'll probably be just as likely to wave their weapons in our faces."

 No.740741

>>740738
>>740739

"Huh, that does sound quite nice. Do they use a different type of currency out here. I can't quite remember though." He looks to good.

 No.740742

>>740741
They might be willing to accept ours, I do believe that I have some left over."

 No.740743

>>740738
"Right. I thought these woods might be difficult to navigate, particularly with the mist above making aerial scouting troublesome. And what's more, beyond simply getting lost, AND the potential of dealing with bandits, there are more of your people out there running tolls that will prevent us from passing through should we not pay." He says, very wary of the whole affair.

"Out of curiosity, what are your rates? The smallest for simply passing by your people, and the full sum for hiring your personal services as an escort?"

>>740739
>>740740
"Personally, the whole deal feels like an extortion racket. I'm not only skeptical of their claim to this land, she doesn't immediately strike me as the most trustworthy either. Though, as the young Lord pointed out, it might do us better to be courteous with locals, particular given we're transporting valuables. Let's at least see what her rates are before we make any hasty decisions."

 No.740744

>>740738
>>740743
>>740739
"If you all think a guide would be wise, I will not object. Shady or no, better knowledge of the Outland is vital."

 No.740745

>>740744
>>740739
>>740740
>>740743
>>740741
"You Castle folk use Schillings, right?" the filly asks. "We've taken those before. Ain't a whole lot of trouble, that. But I can't answer on th' rates. Depends who you are and what you're carryin and how far you're goin'. On th' whole, Granpaw will take care of that. In the end, it's his call anyway whether you'll even get some help. But, I ain't seen him turn a soul down yet. If you come up short, maybe there's some work he needs doin'."

 No.740746

>>740745
I see, well then I suppose it would be best to meet this Granpaw so we may can figure out how much we might owe him."

 No.740747

>>740745
"As long as the side job doesn't take too long for us to finish our quest I don't mind doing it. What does gunpaw usually ask of creatures?" He pipes up with a question.

 No.740748

>>740745
"Well… I'm with you lads with whatever choices you end up going with. Even if I might not like it." Grutar says, assuring he'll be cooperative and prepared to do almost whatever it takes to support the group.

 No.740749

>>740744
>>740745
Zamrud nods contemplatively to Qhapaq, before turning to look at the filly again. "We do indeed use schillings. At any rate, it sounds as though we need to conduct our business directly with this 'Granpaw' gentlemen? In which case, would you be so kind as to lead us to him so we may discuss it in person?" He says, being careful not to mention exactly what it is they carry.

>>740748
>>740746
"If it is any consolation, Grutar, I am not a particularly big fan of it either. But the best path to take is usually the one of least resistance."

 No.740750

>>740749
>>740745
Qhapaq nods a little in agreement, staying silent for now.

 No.740751

>>740747
"Farmin'. Cleanin'. Reattunin' the egg-ray-gores. Always somethin' needs doin' around here, and only so much he trusts others to do. Most of it he wants done himself. Ain't much of a Necromancer."

>>740746
>>740748
>>740749
>>740747
>>740750
The filly nods as you agree to go see this 'Granpaw' she mentioned. "Go on and step aside and let me get my bag, and I'll take you right over. Oh, and the stuff in the lockers ain't mine. We don't really consider this part of our territory. You can go ahead and take it if you want."

>you can make two attempts to break into the lockers, or take another look around the cabin for anything else of note.


Once your business in the cabin concludes, the filly turns and directs you to follow her. She digs in her cloak, and produces a wand, of sorts. It's more like a chunk of mushroom stalk, and is nearly as thick as her very arm. She points it at the mushrooms before her, and they recede into the earth, allowing her and you to pass over them without difficulty. They rise again once you're past.

After about a two hours' walk through the mushroom forest, you come to a chainlink fence that runs through the forest. Behind it sits a tall donkey skeleton wearing heavy armor. He nods as you approach, and opens the gate for your entrance. Beyond the fence lies a vast yard, and a series of connected farmhouses that comprise a somewhat homely and humble estate. Farmworker skeletons of various races work the fields, growing special clusters of moss, roots and mushrooms for produce. Certain skeletons work with the aid of giant snails, about Qhapaq's size, who lug around carts and the like as beasts of burden.

"Granpaw!" the filly hollers as you approach the doublewide doors of the central farmhouse. She tilts her head. "Prob'ly in the back. Granpaw!"

After a moment, the doors creak open, an unexpected figure slides from the darkness. Out steps a buffalo skeleton, all shrouded in black, save for his prominent horns, and his magnificent ivory skull. The air chills as he approaches, and your bodies instinctively tense, with every one of your hairs standing up on end at the sight of him.

'Granpaw,' as he's called, says nothing to you, sizing you up at first, but especially la Senorita. Granpaw is about eye level with Grutar, but if you count his back, he's about as tall as Qhapaq.

 No.740752

>>740751
"Right, let us take a look around for anything of use, then we may be on our way. Also, I do not think you gave us your name, Miss-?"

[1d10+1] Looking around the cabin for anything else of note

>>740751
They follow the filly as she lowers the mushroom stalks in front of them, causing him to look behind with awe. "Interesting…"

When they reach the village, he looks around at all the various skeletons hard at work, a small, surprised smile appearing on his face. "They're ALL skeletons. Incredible, what sort of sorcery is at work here?"

When the filly calls ahead to the central farm house, he turns his head to look at the buffalo skeleton, eyes widening as he feels all the hairs on his tail stand up at once. Urging himself to be calm, he is the first to break the silence, offering a courteous bow. "Hello. I take it you might be Granpaw?"

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.740753

>>740751
[1d10] Locker break in attempts
[1d10]

He froze a bit as he looked at the skeleton "Well… it's a pleasure to meet you sir, my names Good Intentions, I heard you might be able to help us cross these lands and deliver a package." he said holding out a hoof to shake.

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

 No.740754

>>740752
[1d10]
[1d10]
Locker attempts

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

 No.740755

>>740751
Grutar goes ahead and revs up his drill, getting ready to break through the locks to pop open the lockers. "Well, at least this will help keep my mind off things."

>Open lockers Attempt #1

[1d10]
>Open lockers Attempt #2
[1d10]

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

 No.740756

>>740751

Billy just gives a nervous wave from the back of his group quite unsure what to say in this predicament to make a good first impression.

 No.740757

>>740751
"Is everyone else okay? That wooden plank sounded like it hit more than just me." the griffon says, ruffling his wings a little bit.

After being told it's okay, the griffon will try each of the lockers.
>Attempt 1 [1d10+1]
>Attempt 2 [1d10+1]

>>740751
The trip through the estate is… interesting, to say the least. Qhapaq gives the giant snails a curious look before moving on, trying to keep from falling behind. His wings are more ruffled out than usual, but his expression is unreadable through his mask. He doesn't say anything upon seeing the buffalo skeleton, but does dip his head in greeting.

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11 / Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8

 No.740758

>>740757
>>740756
>>740755
>>740754
>>740753
>>740752
"Rind," the filly answers.

Zamrud gets the first locker open, and Grutar manages to get the second one open. The first locker contains a bag of gemstones of various kinds, jewelry, and golden coins – 30 coins in total. This looks like the result of some kind of small-time Old World robbery.

In the second locker, Grutar finds two crates, each about 3x3 feet in size. Inside, the crates are packed with an alarming amount of blasting sticks. They're old and inert now, but with a little chemical treatment, they could be armed once more. Even in this state, they're worth a shiny Schilling indeed.

As for Qhapaq, since the others have already excavated the lockers, he looks about in the rest of the cabin, and sees the glint of something under the floorboards below the sparse bed. It's an easy thing to pry the termite-chewed boards apart, and it's there, submerged in dirt, that he finds a lockbox about 1 foot wide and long.

>>>


After sizing each of you up, Granpaw's mouth lowers itself, but he speaks without moving it further. His voice pours from it like a current of oil.

"Yer a long way from yer shelter, couriers of Ironcastle," he begins. "Goin' to trade with the Mutants, ain'tcha."

He looks down at Good, then at the packages you carry. "Set 'em down afore me."

 No.740759

>>740758
Good paused and decided to oblige him as he felt a bit of a chill but he decided it would be best to go along with him and cooperate.

"Well the Aya but yes sir."


>>740757
Good turned and looked back to his friend as he could see that he had some tension visibly radiating off his form.

 No.740760

>>740758
After opening up the locker, Zamrud takes a look at all the jewels and coins hidden away, counting them up before putting them away, intending to split them for later among the group since finding them in the locker was a group effort.

>>740757
Zamrud takes note of the ruffled state of his friend, moving to his side to check in. "Is everything alright, Qhapaq? You seem nervous."

>>740758
>>740759
Zamrud's hairs continue to itch, but he forces a smile. "You're quite observant, Granpaw. We are indeed from Ironcastle, and heading for the tribelands for such a purpose."

As he asks him to put down the packages they carry, Zamrud holds up a paw in front of Good, dissuading him from doing so. "Thank you for having us in your village. I am Zamrud Permata Bahasa. Miss Rind was kind enough to explain that you were willing to offer us passage through your territory, and possibly provide escort, for a nominal fee. Would you be willing to discuss such a matter?"

 No.740761

>>740760
Good paused and gulped as he decided to let Zam take the lead for now.

 No.740762

>>740758
Grutar grins at his find, making sure he has to keep these safe, he pops open Safey and decides to store the blasting sticks inside.

 No.740763

>>740758
"Quite lucky we finally managed to get these things open, surprised by the amount of trouble the chest gave us." he laughs a bit at himself.

 No.740764

>>740758
Qhapaq tucks the lockbox away into his saddlebag after brushing it off.

>>740758
>>740759
Qhapaq bristles slightly, but otherwise doesn't react. He sets his pack down, but his large talons don't leave it.

>>740760
"Later." he says, taking a moment to tuck his wings back in.

 No.740787

>>740761
>>740762
>>740763
>>740764
>>740760
Zamrud is able to distribute 4 gemstones and 6 golden coins per party member, minus la Senorita.

Granpaw's skull turns toward Zamrud, who can feel the temperature subtly drop around him. "Depends what you're carryin', son. Get tribe bandits in disguise comin' round here, 'gain and again. Moving drugs. Weapons. People. Bad news for the ranch, t' get tangled up in business like that."

 No.740795

>>740787
Qhapaq stays quiet, as before. Whether or not they show the supplies is up to the others, but he bristles a little bit more.

 No.741554

Last time, on Anno Castra…

The party learned that their new robot companion, La Senorita, was from a placed called he Grand and Holy Patriarchate of the Fourth Boreal Empire of Canterlot – perhaps best abbreviated as Canterlot. Not one of the party had heard of such a land, nor did their Magicomps have any information upon the topic. It also spoke using strange terms – dias and morning – that none in the party had taught it. Their Magicomps contained reference to those terms in their database of mythologies; the terms seemed to be associated with the mythical 'Moon' and 'Sun' spoken of in Mendicant Rudolph's manifesto, but their exact meaning was unknown.

La Senorita was a long way from home, so much so that its pathfinding system could not calculate the distance back to this "Canterlot." In any case, it seemed amenable to an alliance, and so it joined the party.

From there, they set out from the Abandoned Fortress, traveling for four more Cycles, until they at last reached the Ghostroot Forest, a sort of halfway point to their destination. As they explored an empty shack on the forest's boundary, they met a skeleton filly by the name of Rind, who accosted them with an Old World shotgun. They managed to talk her down, however, and learned that she lived at a farm with her Granpaw not too far from here. She floated the idea that he may be able to offer them some form of protection in the form of an escort through the forest. The party decided to investigate, and went with Rind to meet this Granpaw.

Oh, and as it turned out, Granpaw – a massive buffalo skeleton wreathed in deep black robes – was a Necromancer.

 No.741555

Zamrud is able to distribute 4 gemstones and 6 golden coins per party member, minus la Senorita.

Granpaw's skull turns toward Zamrud, who can feel the temperature subtly drop around him. "Depends what you're carryin', son. Get tribe bandits in disguise comin' round here, 'gain and again. Moving drugs. Weapons. People. Bad news for the ranch, t' get tangled up in business like that."

 No.741556

>>741555
Huh, well that is something new. Only have seen dreaded ones out here so far. Billy dislikes the idea of fighting against his fellow-creatures. Is there any known creature gangs out here? He tries to recall.

 No.741557

>>740764
Zamrud takes note of Qhapaq's timid demeanor, but nods his head in response to his wishes. "Very well."

>>741555
"I understand." Zamrud says in response. "I shall give you the most honest answer I am capable of: none of us have a clue. Our client specifically tasked us with delivering the contents without divulging it to us, as a form of protection for both ourselves and their company. That is the whole truth of it."

"I am willing to assume it is the most expensive of whatever it is you would charge us for allowing passage. What would that come out to?" Zamrud says, contemplating whether to use his Mutation to see inside of the package or not yet.

 No.741558

>>741556
[1d10] knowledge roll

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.741559

>>741555
>>741554
>Qhapaq waits quietly, as said before.

 No.741560

>>741557
>>741559
"Money ain't really the issue, at the bottom line, son," Granpaw says, giving another glance over the party. "Castle folk… be a hundred Schillings each if I don't know what's in it. Seventy-five if you drop 'em down before me, like I asked."

>>741558
>>741556
You know that, in addition to the Aya, there are other clans of Mutants that eke out small existences in the Outlands, although you aren't familiar with them in depth. Some of the more compassionate factions of the Castles – especially the Charismatics of Ironcastle – have sought to bring these tribes into the Castles for their protection, but they are thoroughly in the majority; most of the Castles bear no ill-will toward these Mutants, so long as they stay far off in the darkness, while a few disparage them as being no more than Dreaded Ones in disguise, tainted beyond hope of salvation.

 No.741561

>>741560
"What are these bandits that come by out here? Do they go by a name around here?" Billy asks out loud a bit worried that these might be a danger he hasn't heard of before. Something more than mutant tribes he knows of.

 No.741562

>>741560
>>741557
"Do we pay, or open?"

 No.741563

>>741560
As he lays out the pricing, Zamrud looks in his coffers: 100 Shillings isn't exactly cheap, but well within his affordable range, even able to cover everyone himself if need be. He nods his head, turning to look at Granpaw. "I understand. I'm afraid we must keep the contents of the package undisclosed if at all possible. We would not be upholding our responsibility as couriers if we did not. But let me discuss it with my comrades briefly, if we may have a moment."

>>741562
>>741561
"A hundred shillings should be well within all our price range after the previous job, correct? Would any of you be opposed to simply paying their toll?"

As Qhapaq suggests opening, he shakes his head. "I don't think that would be wise. More than likely there is some means our clients placed upon the package to deter its being opened by anyone other than its intended recipient. However," he taps the side of his head. "If we were really curious enough to know, I could take a small peek."

 No.741564

>>741561
"I ain't usually stop to talk to 'em… nor do they ever come close enough to trade words," Granpaw says. "…But now and then I'll get somethin' out of the Egregores. Call themselves the Skinners, these ones."

>>741562
>>741563
La Senorita waits patiently, having no stake in the matter.

 No.741565

>>741564
>>741563
"Very well. Payment it is."

 No.741566

>>741564
"I am well and fine with paying. Well worth it for the journey in itself in my opinion." Billy nods his head.

 No.741567

>>741565
>>741564
Zamrud looks between his compatriots as he confirms their collective decision, and he turns back around to face Granpaw. "After some consideration, we're willing to take you up on your offer for 100 Shillings a person. 500 will do then, to receive safe passage through your lands?"

 No.741568

>>741567
>>741566
>>741565
Granpaw nods, then looks back at La Senorita. "…Four hundred will do. This one ain't more than a tool."

La Senorita offers no retort to the insult, simply standing guard at your side, her eyes on the Death Knights waiting at the farm's perimeter.

Granpaw collects the money from Zamrud, then walks off the porch, heading for the farm's gate. "You're a mite different from the other Castle folk we get around here, you know."

 No.741569

>>741568
Ignore the remark about La Senorita.

 No.741570

>>741568
As he offers the money to Granpaw, Zamrud smiles, happy to see a good deal go fulfilled with no complications (for once). As Granpaw makes his comment, he turns up a brow. "I could certainly think of a few reasons why you might say so. Which one in particular?"

 No.741571

>>741568
Qhapaq pulls his pack on and sits up, before following after Granpaw and Zamrud.

 No.741572

>>741570
>>741571
"Fer starters, yer talkin' to me, not swingin' at me or sneakin' around," Granpaw says. "Most yer folk would tend to stick to the third, up until they saw all this, at which point they'd switch to the second."

As he speaks, he follows the edge of the fence Eastward, trudging through a thicket of dead trees separated by a narrow path between them. He's bulky enough that his body would, normally, collide with the trees on either side, being too wide to pass… but when he comes to them, his frame simply passes through the trees, as if either he, or they, were simply non-existent. Judging by the trouble that Qhapaq has with passing through the trees, getting covered with minor bumps and scratches along the way, it seems to be the former.

Granpaw eventually comes to a wider stretch of clearance amid the trees; a rounded space, where in the center there is a stone fountain, from which murky, luminescent water bubbles up. Tied around the fountain is a great black chain, which rises up and up, until at its top, you see something like a candle-holder. Atop it is a large and white spherical shape, resting atop the holder. Although it seems to be something of a gas, it retains its rough form without dispersing.

Granpaw busies himself with undoing the chain from the lantern. He begins to whistle, and just as you might start to wonder how, you can hear wind being pulled through every gap in his bones.

 No.741573

>>741571
As the group makes their way towards the outer gates, Zamrud turns to look at Qhapaq, whispering, "Would now be a good time to talk, or would you prefer until we're out of the village entirely?"

>>741572
"Ah. Well, I certainly can't deny there's many in Ironcastle who'd swiftly jump to either of those options. The Outlands are a dangerous place, after all. However," he smirks, "I've come to learn that just because the Outlands are dangerous doesn't necessarily mean everything in it 'is'. And I've also learned many problems one could solve with violence can be more efficiently remedied by diplomacy."

As they move through the mushroom woods, up to the stone fountain, and as the gas bubble comes up from below the water's surface, he turns to look at it with curiosity. His observations are interupted by the whistling bones of the buffalo skeleton besides him, prompting him to ask. "Some sort of ritual, I presume?"

 No.741574

>>741572
"Man, what a turn of life we find this place. I think it is pretty luck don't you think?" Billy turns his head.

 No.741575

>>741572
Qhapaq narrows his eyes a little, though remains quiet. Now that they're on the move, he seems to calm down. The brambles and trees give him trouble, and after enough time of trying to squirm through them he simply resolves to take the nicks and scratches- they likely won't be there for long.

>>741573
"Let us wait until we leave the village. I do not care for blasphemers, but I will be as respectful as I can stomach while we are within their village." he says, his voice low.

 No.741576

>>741575
"Blasphemers?" Zamrud repeats, his interest now very piqued by his friend's peculiar behavior. He shrugs. "Hmm. Very well. Soon as we're out of ear-shot. Forgive me, I did not know this would be difficult for you, I appreciate your patience."

 No.741577

>>741572
Good who had hither to been more on the silent side for now gave a small noise of surprise at the sight before him as he for the most part clung a bit closer to Grutar as he felt he would probably be on the safer side there.

 No.741578

>>741577
>>741573
>>741574
>>741575
"Just a bit of a tune," Granpaw says as he finally finishes undoing the lock on the chain. The thing, whatever it might be, floats a bit like a balloon, despite the great weight of the chain and the candle-holder-like apparatus at the top. He holds out the chain for someone to take hold of.

"This here Egregore, yer gonna wanna to hold onto tight until there's an emergency," Granpaw says. "Take the lock as well, chain it up when you make camp. Best hope you won't have to let it go. I'll fix you up with one of my Knights now."

He starts to head back to the main gate once someone's taken ahold of the mysterious floating chain.

 No.741579

>>741578
As the little ghostly orb floats with the chain, Zamrud takes responsibility and grabs hold of it, looking at the peculiar thing, studying it. "Must be buoyant, to float with this heavy chain attached to it. What is Egregore, exactly? Not some sort of Dreaded One, I hope?"

 No.741580

>>741578
>>741579
"I am bit worried what emergency would be needed to let go of this Egregore here. Is there anything we should be particularly worried about?" Billy tilts his head.

 No.741581

>>741578
Qhapaq looks the Egregore over with a frown, nodding idly in response to the buffalo's comment.
>[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.741582

>>741578
>>741578
Good shuffled a bit nervously at the orb moving but otherwise tried to put on the visage of being brave about the whole thing.

 No.741583

>>741579
"Thoughtform," Granpaw answers. "If you've ever seen folks get all caught up by an idea, that's the beginnings of one. That one right there," he says, motioning to the spherical wisps atop the candle-holder. "Is the result of a bunch of folks putting their heads together for a common cause… namely, keepin' things peaceful 'round here."

>>741581
You can't tell for certain, but you do not feel any of what the shamans of the Aya describe as signs that one is in the presence of a Soul. No warmth, no vibrations, just a hollow coldness. If you had to bet, it'd be a safe bet that this one is Constructed, not Ascendant.

>>741580
"Shade-Drinkers," Granpaw says. "See a dark cloud driftin' along the way, a mist that never quite spreads out, has a penchant for goin' right up to unsuspectin' travelers… that's when you leggo the chain and leg it. Most other things in this Forest, you should be fine, if'n you stick close with the Knight, don't get split up."

>>741579
>>741580
>>741581
>>741582
As you get back to the main gate, Granpaw walks a little back toward the house, whistling through his skull. In the distance further into the farmlands, you hear the far-off sounds of armored hoofsteps making their way toward you.

But before you can see your escort, you all become acutely aware of a cold prickling at the backs of your necks. You turn – indeed, nearly out of unrepressable instinct, more than direct will – and look to the south, where you see a lone figure, wearing an armorsuit of the Castle. They stand at the edge of what's visible from the farm, and though the light is dim, you can see that they aren't wearing any armorsuit, but one with the tassels and phylacteries of an Exarch – a high-ranking member of the Abbey… a holy inquisitor and execuioner.

From here, you cannot tell who wears the armor, only that they are an equine.

 No.741584

aren't wearing just any armorsuit*

 No.741585

>>741583
"You're a skeleton as well aren't you?" he inquired curiously as he seemed to be a bit expectant of this and not seeing anything that might actually be alive.

 No.741586

>>741585
The Exarch makes no response, simply standing at a distance as they survey the farm.

 No.741587

>>741586
Good frowned before deigning to flash the being his houses symbol to see if it might get any sort of reaction from them.

 No.741588

>>741583
"I don't think I ever had to bout with shade drinkers. Do they do anything unique with how they fight or is there any way to combat them besides fleeing perhaps?" Billy asks, unsure if those would be worth it fighting the dreaded ones on the surface.

 No.741589

>>741583
>>741583
"A Thoughtform…" Zamrud repeats, holding on to the chain tightly as he listens to the explanation. "Remarkable. If I may hazard a guess, if the sole reason for this Thoughtform's existence the idea of maintaining peace, I assume that it will somehow keep us safe as well as we travel through the forest? Why must we keep it locked up while we sleep?"

>>741583
As they approach the main gate of the village, Zamrud's hairs stand on end as a result of the cold prickling, staring at the armored invididual ahead of them. "Ah. Our Knight, I presume." He spots the tassels and the phylacteries, before raising a brow. "A member of the Abbey…?"

 No.741590

>>741583
Qhapaq hesitates for a little, but decides that it's probably not as bad as it could be. He'll shrug, and follow along with the others.

>>741583
>>741589
"We will be watchful for such things, then." the griffon says, before looking to the Exarch. "I would assume so, from how he looks."

 No.741591

>>741589
I am skeptical they remain one anymore."

 No.741592

>>741589
"Same reason I told you to let it go when yer in trouble," Granpaw says. "Once it's let go, it'll set about on the hunt."

>>741588
"If you breathe it in – and it's real good at gettin' past those little air filters yer suits got – it pulls you right outta yer body, and moves in once yer gone, takes over, with very few signs that anything's changed. Might be able to burn 'em out, considerin' they travel by the air. Weak to smoke… but you'd need to burn down just about everything nearby to make enough smoke."

>>741590
>>741589
>>741587
>>741588
The Exarch studies you for a little while longer, before turning about, and stepping back into the darkness that lies to the south.

From the north, Granpaw eventually comes back, accompanied by a bulky Death Knight, concealed head to hoof in armor. The Knight says nothing, but eventually extends his hoof to Qhapaq, with whom he stands at about eye-level.

"Sancho here will accompany you to the Forest's edge," Granpaw explains. "Just don't give him reason to turn back, and you'll be safe as houses."

 No.741593

>>741592
:Yeah, I am unsure how I would be able to handle a fight with something like that. Dreaded ones are quite the trouble with such unnatural abilities." He grimaces at the thought of losing his own body to such an evil thing.

 No.741594

>>741592
Good studied the being that approached trying to see if he could ID what lay under the armor.

 No.741595

>>741592
"On the hunt? The hunt for 'what', exactly?" Zamrud asks, a bit confused about its nature. "Is it violent?"

>>741592
As the Exarch disappears back into the brush, Zamrud uses his telescopic sight mutation to try and see where it goes for a while
[1d10+1] Perception

>>741592
As Granpaw returns with their guardian knight, Zamrud smiles and bows his head, "A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Sancho. Here's to a smooth journey ahead of us."

He turns to look at Granpaw again, "Pray-tell, how deep 'is' the forest? How long will it take to traverse, will it be more than one Cycle?"

Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8

 No.741596

>>741592
Qhapaq offers a short nod, before shaking Sancho's hoof as he offers. He looks to where the Exarch was, making note of his disappearance, before saying "Very well. I will try not to."

 No.741597

>>741592
Good looked back to Granpaw "Any other advice before we leave?"

 No.741598

>>741595
You zoom in and track the Exarch's movements. They head a bit south, and then west, before eventually stopping to sit atop a mushroom. They keep their eyes on the lone path heading out from the farm, and you get the sense that they're waiting for you in particular.

>>741595
Granpaw just stares at you. You get the feeling that if he had eyes, they'd be rolling. "Boy. If it weren't violent, I wouldn't be sendin' it with you for protection, would I? It's mostly deterrent. You let it go if you come up against somethin' fool enough to attack when it sees you got both an Egregore and one of my Knights with you."

>>741593
>>741594
>>741595
Sancho notices Good trying to get a better look at him, and raises the visor of his helmet. You can see that he has a donkey's skull for a head. Suddenly, two eyes roll forward from the back of his skull, settling into place in the eye-sockets… although, they're a bit off. The lack of skin and eyelids makes them look a bit more like googly eyes than anything else.

"Howdy fellas," Sancho eventually says, his voice far higher and more nasally than Granpaw's. "Let's, uh… let's stay focused out there, fight as a team, and uh… we'll all come out a-okay."

>>741597
>>741595
>>741593
"Gonna be a few Cycles out," Granpaw says. "You get started now, you should be at the end of the Forest in two, maybe three more Cycles. Ain't go that way often. When you set your camps, keep smoke burnin'. Don't matter if it's low… just make sure there's always some smoke about."

 No.741599

>>741598
Good found this to be both amusing and a bit horrifying as he nodded "Heh yes uh… lets be a proper team."

He looked back to the leader and nodded "Duly noted sir."

 No.741600

>>741596
You notice Sancho's got a very strong hoofshake. It becomes clear he's trying to show off. If you wish to rise to the challenge, roll… at DC 8.

 No.741601

>>741599
"Yep, we all got ourselves to work together. I do trust you that we can all make it through together!" He pumps his claw into the air in a show of confidence.

 No.741602

>>741598
Keeping note of the Exarch's location, Zamrud turns his attention back towards the Egregore. "I suppose I understand. It's just, and I know appearances can be deceiving, but it is hard to believe the collective thoughts of 'keep things peaceful' could be a brutal force. Seems contradictory."

>>741598
Zamrud's eyes perk up, not anticipating such a voice from their protector, but smiles and nods his head. "Well said."

As Granpaw mentions how long it'll take to go through the woods, Zamrud rubs his chin. "I see. We'd best be off as soon as possible then, to make up as much ground as we could. Does your village have a shop by any chance? We're well supplied as is but you never know when you might need more."

 No.741603

>>741598
Grutar finally returns with a flask full of the strange alcoholic concoction he was likely tipsy from. "I take back everything I said before. This place is GREAT! They make some real weird stuff, but it has a great kick and burn to it! These guys don't seem all that bad either!" Grutar says, seeming much more joyous about this place than his previous demeanor. All because of booze.

"Hey, who's the new guy? He comin' with us?" He asks, waiting for a confirmation before he would address Sancho. "Well welcome to the group, just make sure while you're with us you watch our backs like how I'll watch yours."

 No.741604

>>741600
>>741598
[1d10+2] Hoofshake.
Qhapaq eyes the knight with a bit of suspicion, partly due to the eyes. He'll mask it, though.

Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9

 No.741605

>>741602
>>741602
My mother once said 'The things some people do for peace will shock you'." he responded

>>741601
He smiled and laughed "Well said Billy. I like the enthusiasm."

 No.741606

>>741605
Billy nods his head and smiles.

 No.741607

>>741602
"Do you or do you not carry a weapon for yer own protection?" Granpaw asks with incredulous exasperation.

>>741604
You manage to avoid having your hand crushed by Sancho's mighty hoofshake. He chuckles, then lets go.

>>741599
>>741601
>>741602
>>741603
Granpaw nods to Zamrud's second question. "Have a look 'round. If you're a bit tight for money from payin' the escort fee, you can most likely get some things in exchange for a bit of hard work, assumin' you're not in too much of a rush."

Granpaw leads you past the central farmhouse, taking you round the back to a series of smaller abodes. There are many huts, some constructed of wood, others carved into particularly large and wide mushrooms, and various skeleton workers and their families are out and about. It's a surprisingly lively commune, and despite the overall grim nature, being born from necromancy, there seems to be an atmosphere of peace and optimism among the residents.

>rather than list off what the residents have for sale, post descriptions of anything you'd want to acquire and, if such a thing is available, I'll write that or its closest equivalent

 No.741608

>>741607
Good for the most part was impressed they were all skeletons and jut went along with the group as he was quite content with his belongings for the moment.

 No.741609

>>741607
Qhapaq hums a little bit, checking the occasional stall. He's pretty satisfied with what he has for now though, so he doesn't look too far.

 No.741610

>>741607
>>741605
"Of course I do." He says, pointing to the empty orbs on his bandolier he uses for his burning alchemics. "And, I suppose I can see where you're coming from. If it creates peace through any means necessary, presumably the things we would need it for would not know any other means to peace than through force. Still, a Thoughtform… what a curiosity."

>>741607
As they're escorted to the central farmhouse, Zamrud looks for gas masks, something that might guard against the noxious fumes above should they need to ascend above the mushrooms at anypoint. While he's at it, he looks for any particularly interesting ingredients found locally he couldn't get back at Ironcastle.

 No.741611

>>741609
Good decided to pair up with Qhapaq for now "So Qhapaq… would you care to tell me what its like as a member of the Aya? I'm afraid I don't know very much of your people."

 No.741612

>>741607
"I'm fine with stickin' around a bit longer to get some of those real good shrooms to help us with the trip back home."

>If others are fine, will do work in exchange for more rations/possibly water rations too.

 No.741613

[1d10] Bartering Roll

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.741614

>>741607
Billy finding the stall for the wand he was very curious about decides to barter for it with the shillings he has on him.

NonCombat Talent:[Unnerving frame]: Passive:Purposeful or not, Billy is quite intimidating in appearance that others are more likely to listen; You have +1 on all social rolls.

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.741615

>>741612
[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.741616

>>741608
>>741609
>>741610
>>741610
>>741612
La Senorita stays close, her mysterious software being your only means of hearing the voices of the dead. She aids you in your negotiations with the locals.

You end up staying a few hours longer than intended so that Grutar can pick up work tilling the mossfields in exchange for some food and water – they come in the form of preserved snails and purified water. The work is hard and a bit outside his field of expertise, but they pay him for what he accomplished; he comes away with two Cycles' worth of food and water for himself. Not much, but could still be useful.

During this time, Billy manages to find a wandmaker. After a short discussion, the magician agrees to make a mushroom wand for him for 75 Schillings. It takes a few hours but once he's done, Billy receives a wand – a chunk of dried and hardened mushroom stalk with runes etched into its side. The wandmaker tells Billy that the wand can help him identify and communicate with mushrooms, and even issue simple commands to them. He can make them grow, move out of the way, tell him about what they've seen around them, and if there is anything else of note around or happening that may not be obvious.

Initially, Zamrud's search for gas masks proves fruitless, until he finds a mechanic among the workers. After a brief conversation, he learns that the mechanic's son has an aptitude for working with aetherios circuitry and modifying it. It would be against Castle regulations, but the mechanic's son can, for 75 Schillings per person, augment the air-filtering capacity of the Armorsuits, drastically improving their ability to filter out poisonous material. Foes such as the Shade-Drinker will still prove a threat, but the improved filters may at least slow the process by which the insidious monster works its dread magic.

 No.741617

>>741616
Billy nods his head in thanks as he heads forward out to settle with good happy with his own purchase.

 No.741618

File: 1593235798447.png (54.72 KB, 256x256, T_Pictos_Mask_Wood_01.png)

>>741611
"It is… very different from life within the Castles. People must be harder, as where we live rarely offers the safety of a structure like Ironcastle. Like Mother-Aya, we and our ancestors adapted to survive on what scraps can be found in the Outland. To be an Aya is to accept the imperfect, or the damaged, or the flawed, and to find the strengths within them. However, despite that, weakness is not tolerated. Those too weak to survive the Outland will not find the respect or the sympathy of the Aya."

The griffon stops walking long enough to tap his mask, before saying "Though, I imagine you are curious of the mask, too. The masks are a connection to our past- Aya craft their mask when they reach adulthood, with guidance from their ancestors. Because of this, some mask patterns may repeat from time to time. Parts of the mask- eyes, colors, shape, how you carve it- these things give meaning to the mask, and are colored by your own personality and life. It is for this reason that young Aya do not wear masks such as mine, but ones that are a plain, smooth, simple white- it represents the growth the Aya has yet to undergo."

 No.741619

>>741616
After his hard work, Grutar chalks up his lack of expertise just simply on his slowly growing age. He's still thankful to get food and water in places like this at least, despite the food being very very strange.

 No.741620

>>741616
Qhapaq watches Zamrud and Billy deal with the shopkeepers as he talks, more out of curiosity than anything else.

 No.741621

>>741618
He nodded intently as he listened to the words from the massive griffin "I suppose my life must seem somewhat… soft." he said with a small self deprecating laugh as he let him explain "But I must say that I find your story about the mask to be very interesting. It's somewhat like a hoof or a finger print for those who have them. They may seem similar to others but they are their own unique thing." he said as he kept up with him.

"I would like to visit your home sometime, if only to repay the kindness you had in seeing mine Qhapaq." he said looking up, his smile visible through the glass faceplate of his helmet.

 No.741622

>>741616
>>741618
>>741617
Zamrud contemplates the deal offered with increasing their armorsuits' natural filters to provide more protection against not only the hallucinogenic mushroom spores above, but also against enemies they're likely to face in the forest.

As Qhapaq shows off his mask to Good, he calls them over. "Qhapaq, speaking of your mask… while shopping around, I found a mechanic who will be able to modify our armorsuits' air filters to better handle the fumes from the mushrooms. I figure we should at least see that our flyers, as the ones most likely to go above the forest, should be outfitted with them. Would you be opposed to seeing if your mask could be modified with it? It is also 75 shilling apiece, but I will be willing to assist with the payment."

 No.741623

>>741622
Good perked up "I might as well invest myself so I can be safe for the most part." he said perking up at Zam's words.

 No.741624

>>741622
>>741620
The mechanic calls over his son, who takes a moment to examine Qhapaq's mask. He cautions that it would be possible to install a filter for this mask, but that doing so would require the installation of the mask into an insulated frame, drastically adding on to the appearance of the mask, though it wouldn't detract from the overall look of the mask's face. Though they are simple farm folk, they at least know enough about the Aya to recognize their masks and their importance to the clan when they see them.

 No.741625

>>741621
"Masks will change at times, as you grow. From what I have been told, you might make a new mask when the ancestors push you to do so, or when you feel it is the right time." the griffon says, before shrugging. "And, to be honest, I do. Even if I do respect you and the others, life in the Castle feels… strange. Unusual. But, it is nothing to feel bad about." he says, giving Good a soft pat on the head.

>>741622
>>741624
"So long as it can be removed from the frame once I no longer need to filter the air, I can accept that." he says, pushing the bits into Zamrud's paw with a short nod.

 No.741626

>>741623
"I think that would be very wise. I think I intend to invest in it for myself as well. Better safe than sorry."

>Paying 75 for a Filter


>>741625
>>741624
As Qhapaq hands him the shillings needed for the enhancement, Zamrud nods, handing them over to the mechanics' skeletal son. "Will that be doable?" He asks him in reference to it being able to be removed

 No.741627

>>741625
He smiled up at the big griff and gave him a playful little punch in the arm "I understand, but as I have said, my door is always open to you." he said with the usual warmness he carried for his friends,

>>741626
>>741624
He nodded as he went to the mechanics and handed them the money as well.

>75 bits for a filter.

 No.741628

The son confirms that Qhapaq will be able to remove and slot in the mask from the insulated frame, with the caveat that he might break the frame if he does so carelessly, but adds that he'll show Qhapaq how it's done.

While Grutar works and while Billy waits for his wand to be finished, the mechanic's son takes you to his workshop, and begins to work on the circuitry of your air filtering system. It's a bit uncomfortable having to sit still for so long, but around the time that Grutar finishes his work, the son at last finishes the modifications to your suits and mask. Qhapaq, Zamrud, Billy and Good all end up with an upgraded air filter system… a bit of a steep price at 75 Schillings each, but a sound investment considering what they've heard of the forest's dangers.

>Paused, make a post for next time if so desired

 No.741629

>>741624
I decide to follow in the groups step for a filter as well.

>75 shillings for a filter

 No.741630

>>741627
"Mmm. I will… keep it in mind, Good." the griffon says. He doesn't really feel the punch, but it's the thought that counts.

>>741628
Qhapaq promises to be careful, but ultimately the griffon cares more about the mask than the frame- if the frame breaks, it breaks.

 No.741631

You obtain Augmented Air Filters

>Augmented Air Filter: Automatic Free Action; Regeneration 2 per Charge. Does not start Regenerating until deactivated.*

>Effect: While the Augmented Air Filter is active, you can spend any of the four Charges, listed below, as an Automatic Free Action when you are prompted to roll resistance against hazardous airborne substances.
>Charge A: You automatically succeed against the check
>Charge B: You succeed against the check on DC-4
>Charge C: You succeed against the check on DC-3
>Charge D: You succeed against the check on DC-2

*Regeneration periods differ from Recharge periods in that an item / skill with a Regeneration period can, generally, be used at any time so long as you have at least one Charge left. Some powerful items and skills might have both a Regeneration and Recharge period, but this is rare. In most cases, items and skills with Regeneration periods do not start Regenerating until they are deactivated.

 No.742070

Last time, on Anno Castra…

Granpaw entrusted the party with an egregore, a thought-form in the shape of a white, flame-shaped cloud sitting in a candle-holder that floated like a balloon. In the event of an emergency that could not be overcome by other means, they were to release the egregore's chain, and run as it went on the attack. In addition, he assigned one of his knights, a donkey by the name of Sancho, for more conventional dangers they might meet along the way.

While Granpaw was busy tracking down Sancho to conscript his help, the party felt themselves being watched from outside of the farm. They saw an Exarch, a high-ranking member of the Abbey, keeping an eye on them from a distance. This Exarch was alone, but seemed to be no worse off for it; typically, they handled the darker duties of the Abbey, as inquisitors and executioners, and had the power to match. The Exarch left shortly after revealing his or her presence, sinking back into the darkness outside the farm before Granpaw could see them.

After getting their escort, they picked up some augmentations to their armorsuits' air filtering systems to assist them with avoiding the powers of airborne Dreaded Ones and poisonous airborne susbtances more generally.

 No.742071

The son confirms that Qhapaq will be able to remove and slot in the mask from the insulated frame, with the caveat that he might break the frame if he does so carelessly, but adds that he'll show Qhapaq how it's done.

While Grutar works and while Billy waits for his wand to be finished, the mechanic's son takes you to his workshop, and begins to work on the circuitry of your air filtering system. It's a bit uncomfortable having to sit still for so long, but around the time that Grutar finishes his work, the son at last finishes the modifications to your suits and mask. Qhapaq, Zamrud, Billy and Good all end up with an upgraded air filter system… a bit of a steep price at 75 Schillings each, but a sound investment considering what they've heard of the forest's dangers.

You obtain Augmented Air Filters

>Augmented Air Filter: Automatic Free Action; Regeneration 2 per Charge. Does not start Regenerating until deactivated.*

>Effect: While the Augmented Air Filter is active, you can spend any of the four Charges, listed below, as an Automatic Free Action when you are prompted to roll resistance against hazardous airborne substances.
>Charge A: You automatically succeed against the check
>Charge B: You succeed against the check on DC-4
>Charge C: You succeed against the check on DC-3
>Charge D: You succeed against the check on DC-2

*Regeneration periods differ from Recharge periods in that an item / skill with a Regeneration period can, generally, be used at any time so long as you have at least one Charge left. Some powerful items and skills might have both a Regeneration and Recharge period, but this is rare. In most cases, items and skills with Regeneration periods do not start Regenerating until they are deactivated.

 No.742085

>>742071
Good fiddled with it a bit before making sure everything was online and took a seat next to the other two for the moment as he let them get ready.

 No.742088

>>742085
Can I have some help a bit. I have been stuck with this feeling of excitement and nervousness with going out here. I have been learning so many things in this larger world, but I do know there is so many dangers here that I don't know how to combat. What do you think?" Billy asks of his companion.

 No.742091

>>742085
>>742088
Sancho nods. "I hear livin' in a Castle will do that to a fella," he says to Billy. "You're just a little shocked after bein' sheltered for so long. You guys are out here wrapped in so much metal and reinforced fibres that it's a wonder how you can move or breathe. Meanwhile most of us here are doin' just fine with the clothes on our backs."

You note that Sancho is covered entirely in armor, and that the skeletons, being held together with what must be a form of magic, most likely do not share your biological concerns.

 No.742092

>>742070
>>742071
Qhapaq pulls his mask back on once it's returned to him, being as careful as he can- he'd hate to mess it up right after he got it back.

 No.742093

>>742088
"It takes experience, and time- some problems have solutions that take work to learn. Other problems are simply avoided."

 No.742096

>>742091
>>742093

"That does sound right. I don't know anything else that could explain it. So I do thank you for that." I nods his head in a little bow. As his hoof taps against the ground as he waits.

 No.742098

>>742088
I've learned to just buck up and go in prepared for the worst but expecting the best. It doesn't hurt but it sure does help." he said being a bit more chipper than usual.

 No.742099

>>742098
>>742092
>>742093
>>742096
Sancho goes to a nearby shed, and retrieves a grizzled-looking axe of metal and bone, the handle stained black with a mysterious substance. Dark gemstones are embedded into the shaft. He sets the axe over his shoulders, and after casting an appraising glance at the party, heads southward toward the gate. "Alright, any one of you fellas wanna take point, or am I up front all by myself here?"

La Senorita rolls along after Sancho.

 No.742100

>>742099
"I don't mind joining you over here. I am pretty bulky myself here." Billy speed walks over in response to their new companion.

 No.742101

>>742099
Good looked back to the robot and did his best to try and talk to it for now as he nodded at Sancho. He also spared a few looks at Qhapaq now and then

>>742092
So is your tribe a static or a nomadic one? I would assume nomadic given how most Dreaded ones roam." he asked during one of his glances

 No.742104

>>742101
"Nomadic, yes- it is quite normal for tribes to keep on the move. There are some that shelter in older, broken Castles, though." he says, humming in thought.

>>742099
"I can, if needed."

 No.742106

>>742101
>>742100
>>742104
https://youtu.be/DSMkc7M-XgI

La Senorita occasionally responds to Good during their small talk, but most of it is nothing more than canned responses, pre-recorded messages in a robotic tone. None of it is particularly noteworthy. Sancho gets the gate, letting you all out into the darkness of the Ghostroot Forest just south of the massive farm.

There's a path leading out from the farm, but it is a short one. Small mushrooms gather all around you, filling up the space between the taller ones towering overhead. "Yeah, we don't really get anything in terms of hoof traffic in these parts," Sancho says. "And almost none of it is friendly. I hear Rind pulled a gun on youse when you showed up? Well, it's to be expected. Anyway, I'm ramblin'. We'll have to make our own path here."

He takes the axe from his shoulders, ready to cut a swathe. "Any particular choice of direction, fellas?"

>roll perception for hints on what may lie around you

 No.742108

>>742071
>Zamrud pays 150 for two, covering himself and Grutar's costs

>>742099
Following their purchase and Zamrud double checking the filter's mechanisms, he looks to Sancho as he offers to take point, shaking his head. "By all means, go on ahead. If you are to be our guide, I find it most efficient if you were to take the lead."

>>742106
As they leave the town, Zamrud take a look around with his telescopic vision, wondering if he may catch the Exarch again that left the village as he determines what direction might be safest.

[1d10+1] Perception

Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2

 No.742109

>>742108
You aren't sure how or when it happened, but a distinct buzzing in your ear, followed by a small pressure on your cheek, tells you that a fly has gotten inside of your armorsuit. If you're willing to brave the cold of the Outlands, you may be rid of him by raising your visor…

 No.742110

>>742106
Billy idly nods his head as he keeps up with the group on point. Checking left and right to keep up with his job.

[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.742112

>>742106
>Perception: [1d10]
Qhapaq nods a little bit as he idly listens to the rambling, mostly focused on keeping an eye out for any trouble they might come across.

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.742113

>>742109
As the buzzing pesters Zamrud to no end, testing even his impressive patience, the cat lets out a disgruntled growl, reaching up to open his visor ever so briefly to let the miserable creature out.

As he does so, he answers Sancho's question:
"The east, preferably, is where we're headed."

 No.742114

>>742104
"I see. Is there any place you would say your favorite place to rest has been?"

>>742106
Good still kept up his attempts of trying to help the robot learn with his attempts at an accent as he scanned behind them for now.

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.742116

>>742114
"We made camp by a river once- things were far calmer there than I was used to. It was nice, for the time we stayed.

 No.742118

>>742113
A terrible and paradoxical mixture of frigid cold and sweltering humidity floods into your suit as you raise the visor. The fly, caught in the rapid change of air pressure, is flung out into the darkness, where it almost assuredly meets an instant death.

>>742110
>>742112
>>742113
>>742114
"East it is," Sancho says, trampling over the smaller mushrooms in the path. Occasionally he fells some waist-high mushrooms with a thwack of his axe. Around you, you can see stalks of older mushrooms, having been cut down long ago, half-buried in the soft, damp earth. Newer, smaller mushrooms grow over them, their roots draining the old mushrooms of nutrients in a slow sapping. The skeletal remains of unknown life-forms poke out among them; some with slagged flesh still clinging to their white bones.

At about 1300 hours, Qhapaq notices the sensation of eyes upon his neck, coming from somewhere further up. He peers up, and sees the Exarch from before sitting atop one of the Proavus Cathedra, hidden among the mists. He is the only one to notice them.

Meanwhile, Billy assists Sancho in taking the lead, his eyes peeled for any dangers. Occasionally, small, rodent-like Dreaded Ones scurry underfoot, but they are quick, and flee before you can get a good glimpse at them, darting between the smaller mushrooms upon the forest floor. They do not show any signs of aggression to you, for now.

 No.742119

>>742118
Good for the moment seemed keen on just talking to Senorita and listening to Qhapaq as he kept on.

>>742116
Did you go for a swim in the water? I like swimming back at the castle when I have the time."

 No.742121

>>742118
>>742119
Billy decides to wave to the back from the front to his companions. Being more leisurely than he would otherwise with the extra companion.

 No.742122

>>742121
Good smiled and waved right on back to him with the same enthusiasm.

 No.742124

>>742118
Zamrud shutters as the atmosphere tenses up every nerve in his body, but quickly replaces his mask to avoid any more danger to himself as he lets Sancho lead the way to the east. As they walk through the forest of mushrooms, Zamrud approaches Sancho as he leads the way and decides to strike up a conversation.

"Earlier, Granpaw appeared to quite literally phase through the trees. Is that something you are all able to do or only him?"

>>742121
As Billy leads the way, Zamrud offers him a nod of approval in taking charge in way-finding for them.

 No.742127

>>742119
"From time to time, yes- I always preferred flying, but… swimming could be nice." he says, thinking back.

>>742118
"The Exarch follows. He is hidden within the mist." the griffon says, raking the dirt with his talons lightly.

 No.742129

>>742124
Your suit's temperature regulators quickly purge the atmospheric disturbance, and normalize the internal temperature to a more comfortable coolness. A notification appears on your magicomp, warning you to keep your suit sealed while outside of proper shelters.

>>742119
>>742121
>>742124
>>742127
Sancho shakes his head to Zamrud's question. "Nah… he's capable of more than a few things that we aren't. Some of them are the simple conveniences that you saw earlier. Others…" he pauses, and shudders. "They're best not witnessed. We get very few travelers in this area for a reason – and neither us Knights nor the Egregores are that reason."

"The Exarch?" Sancho asks Qhapaq. He stops, readying his weapon, and looks about, but clearly cannot see where the Exarch lies hidden.

"Exarch–" La Senorita interjects. "A high-ranking– member… the Abbey."

Its voice becomes stilted, jarring. It jumps from line to line, synthesizing a sentence from various disparate audio clips, instead of using the generated voice that you brought into being with your audio samples.

"And– an – extreme danger," La Senorita adds.

 No.742131

>>742129
"Oh yey! She's learning!" Good chimed before nodding "But she's right, it seems someone in the Abbey deemed us worthy of being watched right now. I am… unsure why. They're hard to understand even at the best of times." he said a bit distastefully.

 No.742132

>>742129
I decide to strike up conversation with our new skeletal companion. "How often do you have to escort? Do they usually go well?" Billy asks with a tilt of his head.

 No.742133

>>742131
>>742132
"Maybe once every couple of months," Sancho says, keeping his eyes peeled on the environment. "But this is the first time I heard about any of this Exarch business – and the robot just said he's an 'extreme danger'. You know this guy? Where is he?"

 No.742134

>>742129
"I see…" Zamrud says in response, more than a little perturbed by that skeptic description. "I suppose it is fortunate then, that he is so benevolent. I must admit, I had my concerns when we first arrived, but I see he is rather amicable." Zamrud suggests, seeing if Sancho has a different opinion.

As Qhapaq and Senorita both make notice of the Exarch tailing them, Zamrud turns to try and find the mysterious stalker himself, rubbing his chin. "How very peculiar… I suspect he must know we're on to him by now. Why does he not simply show himself?"

He turns to the others, "My first hunch is to continue onwards and let him approach first. If Stealth is his specialty, I doubt our approaching him would do anything more than scare him off. Best just to keep an eye on him for now and see what he does."

[1d10+1] Searching for him

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3

 No.742135

>>742133
"Ahh, that is quite spacious in time. I am unsure what the robot is going on about. My group is also trying to figure out what is with it. Quite an enigma honestly. Sorry for not being able to fully answer your question." Billy bows his head.

 No.742136

>>742134
You cannot see the Exarch, nor any trail that might lead to them.

 No.742138

>>742129
>>742134
"Hrm… I think it would be best to wait, yes. Searching for him will not do us much. Regardless, I imagine he simply does not want to."

 No.742140

>>742133
"Well no. All we know is that he seems to be interested in us but we had no idea he was here until earlier."

 No.742142

>>742140
>>742138
>>742136
As Zamrud fails to make note of the Exarch's position, he nods in resignation, looking to Sancho to continue the journey before he looks to Senorita, his interest piqued by the change in voice clipping.

"Interesting analysis… Senorita, why is it you say Exarchs are a danger? You are aware of what the Abbey IS?"

 No.742144

>>742142
>>742140
>>742138
>>742135
"Perhaps – present company – prohibits interaction," La Senorita posits.

You realize that she seems to know quite a bit about the Abbey for a machine that seems to have spent quite a bit of time wandering the Outlands, and being from this mysterious and unknown country of Canterlot.

"Huh?" Sancho asks, looking over. "You think they don't wanna be around me? That's… I dunno if that's a good or a bad sign. Well… looks like we're at an impasse. I'm here to protect you, and I'll be darned if I don't. My vote is we just keep on movin' and let this shy Exarch keep on where they are. Any opposed? You wanna try somethin' else?"

 No.742148

>>742144
"I mean I showed him my house symbol and they moved on so I think they're strictly observing for now. I think moving along would be best."

 No.742149

>>742144
"I think Senorita here can wait with what it has to say to us. Protection can't wait. Especially after we just had to pay for it methinks. So unless everyone else who had to pay I don't think we should do something else." He shakes his head at the idea.

 No.742150

>>742148
"Wait, wait," Sancho says. "You saw him before? When was this?"

 No.742151

"Shortly before we met you actually. They didn't really say anything."

 No.742152

>>742144
"I see…" Zamrud says as Senorita answers why the Exarch may be avoiding them, taking note of the peculiarity of her even knowing of what the Abbey *IS* despite pre-dating it by millenia. He decides to ask her more on this when they stop for camp later.

He turns to Sancho, "Let us move on. If he wishes to engage us without your being here, he may do so once we've exited the forest. I agree with your assessment, particularly if Good DID already attempt to communicate and it merely wishes to observe."

 No.742153

>>742144
"Best to ignore him for now. No need to go chasing in the mist."

 No.742154


 No.742157

>>742152
>>742151
"As in, this was back at the farm…?" Sancho says. "…If they didn't approach you then earlier, then maybe it really is me, and the rest of the family, that they don't want to be around."

>>742149
>>742152
>>742153
"If you wish to go out, I will remain behind and take care of whatever chores you assign me until you call me back, or until you call to tell me to come to you," La Senorita says, switching back to her standard lines and synthesized voice. "You can reach me at any time at…"

La Senorita makes something of a dial-up tone, a sound that only the older members among you might recognize. You each receive a notification on your magicomps, on the Concord application. It tells you that you have received a request to make a connection to a third-party program, and warns you that such programs may be viruses in disguise. It gives the name of the program, but you cannot read it – it only shows up as black squares on the screen. This happens when a comp does not have the requisite font installed to display certain text. Perhaps it is the script of Canterlot.

>You can leave behind La Senorita to meet the Exarch, as Billy suggested and La Senorita offered. Regardless, if you wish to leave the Exarch behind, then Billy, roll 1d100 for navigation.

 No.742167

>>742157
>>742157
"Sancho, why don't you and Senorita hang back, then we'll use the transmission service Senorita possesses to contact you both once we're ready for you? We can't understand what it is you are saying without her translation protocols anyhow, so there's little sense in separating you two."

"The rest of us will forge on ahead slightly, and see if that draws the Exarch to come speak with us. If he makes contact, or does not meet with us after one hour, we will contact you and rendezvous back together. Does that agree with everyone?"

 No.742168

>>742167
"I don't mind. I don't see anything wrong with the plan suggested here." Billy nods his head.

 No.742169

>>742157
>>742167
I agree with Zamrud, that seems like the best option."

 No.742171

>>742167
>>742157
"If you think it is wise, Zamrud." the griffon says, bobbing his head a little bit. "Let us make it quick, though."

 No.742175

>>742171
>>742167
>>742168
>>742169
Sancho sets his jaw grimly, then nods. "At the very least, keep the Egregore with you. That, I'm not willing to let you part with just yet."

You leave behind Sancho and La Senorita, and pick your way over the floor of mushrooms all about you, heading in the direction, somewhat Southeast, that Qhapaq saw the Exarch.

In the darkness ahead, you see a shadow drop from above, though it makes no sound. A figure steps forward, and at last, you see that it is the Exarch, their visor a muted gray screen lacking all reflection.

Suddenly, the visor recedes into the top plate of the helmet, and the helmet – begins to retract. Folding back as easily and swiftly as one might pull back the hood from a sweater, the helmet slips back with technology more advanced than that in your armorsuits.

https://youtu.be/D-UGmfA10Ic

At last, the Exarch reveals their face – her face. Before you is a zebra mare, slightly older than Zamrud if you had to guess. Her mane is short, and kept in a bun, and she has a jagged scar, which goes down from her left eye, where the upper and lower lids meet, down her cheek – almost like a crooked glasgow smile. She carries a left-bladed falx at her side.

"At last we meet, fellow Souls," she says in a soft voice. "My name is Godspeed. If I may, I had a question for you."

 No.742176

>>742175
leaf-bladed*

 No.742177

>>742175
"Well now I feel sorry for thinking you were a stallion on size… Er sure, I am Good Intentions of House Titanite, I will answer any questions within my power to answer." seeing she seemed to mean no harm.

 No.742179

>>742175
"As long as it isn't rhetorical. I am not good with any of those. I can never give anyone a satisfactory answer on those ones." He grimaces at the thought of his previous experiences.

 No.742180

>>742175
Qhapaq widens his stance when he sees something drop from above, though he relaxes slightly when it's revealed to be the Exarch. The masked griffon eyes the Exarch for a little, before nodding. "I am Qhapaq. Ask your question, Godspeed."

 No.742184

>>742175
As the Exarch finally makes herself known, and reveals her face in the process, he offers a light bow of his head. "A pleasure, Godspeed. Though I must insist, we're not overly fond of stalkers. If you wish to speak to us, we prefer the straight forward approach." He shrugs. "Or Concord is rather popualr."

"I am Zamrud. If you came all this way simply to ask us something, then by all means, ask away."

 No.742187

>>742184
>>742177
>>742179
>>742180
"The domain of the Necromancer, back there, the one that you visited earlier," Godspeed begins, pointing Westward. "Is a place whose master trafficks in souls and undead. Recently, the master defeated a Dreaded One called a shadedrinker, which had captured the souls of two of our compatriots, fellow soldiers of Zinccastle."

Indeed, you recall seeing a mission blurb bearing that description when you checked the Mission Board five Cycles ago. Nobody took that Mission, but you should still have it in your Magicomp's intranet cache, if you wish to pull it up and review it.

"When I saw that you had left his domain, I wanted to hear your appraisal of the place," Godspeed continues. "I intend to enter his domain and recover those souls. So – would anyone miss that place?"

 No.742190

>>742187
Good frowned "I would recommend not doing this. For several reasons but most importantly for the sake of our survival." he said simply "He is the lesser of two evils when it comes to the Dreaded ones and while I am… sorry for the loss of your comrades, destroying an otherwise peaceful place would only hurt the area more." he said trying his best to be diplomatic.

"But… what if we convinced him to free the souls of his own volition so no one has to get hurt?" he said figuring a compromise could be met here.

 No.742193

>>742187
>>742190
"Yeah, I do agree with you here Good. I do prefer to not have this area to suffer from such, and there should be a compromise."

 No.742194

>>742187
"Of Zincastle? We thought for a time you might be from Ironcastle."

As Godspeed makes her intent known, Zamrud narrows his glare, deep in thought as he cross his arms. "I see… you have my condolences for your comrades. It is not a fate anyone deserves."

"But, from what I observed: those skeletons appear mostly harmless. I am not overtly fond of their toll-keeping, but I suppose one has to get by somehow in the Outlands, and they are certainly capable of helping those who would fall prey to this forest's dangers otherwise. If have in-depth knowledge of this place, and without them any future travelers who came here would find themselves lost without their expertise and knowledge of its hazards. I cannot condone its destruction if only for the well-being of those yet to come through here who they may help."

"I would recommend speaking with their leader. He has proven, at least to me, to be a reasonable being. If you explain the circumstances of your compatriot's souls, he may yet be able to assist you."

He pauses, "Are you capable of understanding them? We are only able to do so thanks to a Helping Hoof droid we were able to program."

 No.742198

>>742187
>>742194
"Mmm. I do not like them, but I do not think it would be wise to do such a thing." the griffon says, looking to Zamrud. "The Helping Hoof robot does seem to be able to help in that aspect."

 No.742203

>>742198
Zamrud turns to Qhapaq, "ON that subject, while we're away from our skeletal tour guide… you were very on edge while we were in the village. Would you care to talk about it now?"

 No.742204

>>742198
>>742194
>>742190
>>742193
Godspeed tilts her head, and smiles despite the grim subject matter. Her smile shrinks as you defend Granpaw and his farm; it becomes a small line, still curved upwards at the ends. Something about it – how it treads the line between smile and something else, creates an uneasy feeling in the backs of your heads, and in your stomach.

"Oh?" she says at the end of your appeals. "I wasn't expecting to hear such appeals from fellow Souls. Nor did I think I would have the luxury of other options available to me. Very well."

She looks to Zamrud and Qhapaq. "If I am to petition the Necromancer instead, I will need its assistance indeed. If you don't mind me borrowing it for a time, I will send it back to you once I am done."

 No.742206

>>742204
Good was mildly peeved at the snub but considered it a win that she was willing to be diplomatic about the whole thing "I would appreciate her coming back intact mam."

 No.742207

>>742206
>>742204
"They are rather uninformed about this matter I believe. Probably should talk to them about this new matter first for this is also the first time we are learning of this exarchs issues. Yes?" Billy looks to his group.

 No.742211

>>742204
>>742204
Zamrud thinks on this for a moment,

"In general, I would take no issue with lending Senorita… that is our Helping Hoof's designaton… to you. However, in this specific instance, that would prove a problem. We need Senorita to communicate with our guide as well, you see, if she goes with you we will be unable to understand Sancho."

"Allow me to speak with her and see if her translation protocol could be routed through our communications array - if I could send Sancho's clickings to her remotely, then she sends me back a translation message, she could feasibly leave us and go with you to the village. On loan, of course. Otherwise, I must insist we go with the both of you."

 No.742212

>>742204
>>742211
"Perhaps it would be easiest if we simply return with them to the farm- it could not take too long for the issue to be talked out." the masked griffon says, shrugging.

 No.742214

>>742206
>>742207
>>742211
>>742212
Godspeed waves a hoof, almost apologetically. "I don't want to interrupt your goings; surely you have a mission in progress as it is, if you're outside the Castles. But if it's not possible for you to communicate with your robotic assistant remotely, I will be as swift as I can in my dealings. Shall we go see where those two await you?"

 No.742216

>>742214
"Yeah we do have a mission, thank you for understanding. I hope things do turn out better for you as well." Billy bows his head.

 No.742219

>>742214
Zamrud nods his head, "Of course, let us go see them. You know," he chuckles, "We could have done this much earlier had you approached us in the village. Did our walking among them unmolested not seem to suggest it was amicable enough? Or are you simply shy?" He says in a good-natured teasing manner.

 No.742224

>>742219
She stares right at you without a word, retaining her strange not-quite-a-smile. You feel that if you remain in this position for very long, her stare will bore a hole through your head.

 No.742226

>>742214
>>742219
Qhapaq nods a little, and turns to head back towards Sancho and the Helping Hoof. His expression can't be seen, but he seems to at least look in Godspeed's direction for a while.

 No.742227

>>742214
"Good felt his fur bristle a bit and he remembered his mothers less than favorable words about the Abbey but he deigned to give her the benefit of the doubt as he fixed his glasses after opening his helmet.

"It seems fine."

 No.742228

>>742224
Zamrud's smile slowly subsides, coughing as he feels she did not appreciate his humor as much as he thought she might. "Ah… ahem. Right, well, let us go on and return to them." He says, trying to not let the awkwardness linger on too long.

 No.742233

>>742226
>>742227
>>742228
As you go back to where Sancho and La Senorita wait, the former tenses, and you can see that he's gripping his axe tightly. Godspeed simply gives him a nod, and her helmet folds back over her head as she looks at La Senorita. The robot gives her a greeting, but not much else. "What an interesting old contraption," Godspeed concludes. "Have you found anything interesting in its memory-banks?" she asks.

Regardless of how that conversation goes, you take about another hour to head back to Granpaw's farm, during which time Godspeed explains her mission to Sancho. He says little to either support or dissuade her, and in general seems quite uneasy about her.

At last, you arrive back at the farm's gates. Godspeed looks to you once more, somewhat apologetic as before. "Since it seems that I was apparently too shy last time, would one of you mind introducing me to the master of the house?" she asks.

 No.742235

>>742233
"A bit, but unfortunately, though they've endured spectacularly, the millenia have taken somewhat of a toll on her hard drives. Much of her memory is corrupted. We've learned of a 'Canterlot' however, possibly the name of a country from a bygone era."

As they approach and he notices Sancho gripping his axe, he nods and tries his best to keep the situation as calm as possible by stepping in when needed. As they come back to the gates, Zamrud mumbles lightly as she throws his joke back at him, but puts on a calm smile. "I would be elated to. Have faith, Godspeed, Granpaw will surely be willing to help once he understands the circumstance."

 No.742236

>>742233
Good stepped forward "I will, I was a bit quiet before, it'd be good to try and speak up a bit this time."

 No.742238

>>742236
As Good offers to do so, Zamrud bows and waves the way forward with his arms. "Be my guest, young Lord."

 No.742239

>>742233
"I will wait outside, if it is all the same to everyone else. I will be close by if needed, however."

 No.742240

>>742233
"Sadly we haven't been able to find anything. It seems to be very old though with old support and strange phrases." He grunts looking back to senorita. Quite an enigma.

 No.742243

>>742240
>>742235
"When we are both less busy, I must have one of the Abbey's technicians have a look at what may be saved from its memory," Godspeed says.

>>742235
>>742236
>>742239
>>742240
"If ya don't mind, pal, I'll stay here witcha, keep ya company," Sancho says to Qhapaq. He avoids Godspeed's gaze as it sweeps back over him. Godspeed does not remark on his reticence or fear, but simply walks into the grounds with Zamrud, Billy and Good at her side. Through one of the windows in the central farmhouse, you see Rind washing dishes. She glances up as she puts a glass aside, and her eye-less skull rises with recognition of your group.

Rind opens the door to the farmhouse, drying her hooves on her apron. "Back so soon? We don't do refunds or exchanges on bodyguards."

>Paused, reply for next time if desired


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