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 No.743587[Last 50 Posts]

Last time, on PirateQuest…

Cutlass, now awake again after her fainting spell, shared her suspicions of Kukulcan with Alder, Splendid, Prisma, Paraiba, the mooks, Make Believe and her four assassins. Her notion that Kukulcan was not who or what he claimed to be was backed up by the fact that Monty, her rumormonger snake amulet, changed his story about Kukulcan and the Watchkeepers after Kukulcan claimed that he was a god. Colobok asserted that he would leave behind one of the papers of his aura ability, Shadow Archive, to spy on Kukulcan and peer into his mind, to see if he was telling the truth. Colobok, Sparkler and Make Believe then left with the godray crystal to deliver it back to the Hidden Dagger before nightfall.

With evening upon them, and much of our crew still injured, Magoja (interning as the Thunder Serpent's surgeon) suggested that our crew ingratiate themselves with Kukulcan's. One such method, he suggested, was to challenge them to a drinking game. Nothing beats heatstroke and dehydration like alcohol, after all.

Cloud, escorted by Bent Scales of the Beesting, escorted Cloud partway to the Thunder Serpent. She broke off partway through, leaving to join the rest of the Beesting crewmates who had been spying on Kukulcan all day to get intel on him and his crew. Cloud arrived at the Dreamer's Moon just as Cutlass got several drinks deep with Cycle Kick. Alder, meanwhile, was being taught in the fishing and culinary arts by the hairless diamond dog they met earlier, the one with the compulsion for orderliness.

Cerulean continued to plumb the depths of the Skull Temple with her pets, getting as far as B5F. While her dog friends found another way around the pitfall obstacle she just cleared, she pressed onward, finding herself in a long hall, with a corridor to the west and one to the east. After going partway down the eastern corridor, she was stopped by a familiar sight: Herself, standing on the other side of what looked like some kind of translucent, watery mirror.


The larger one's head visibly shows surprise, and replies back with, "friend, as long as you two don't attack me." They look over to Tabasco, then back to the both.
"So… who are you two?"

By now, you are close enough to see that the figures standing before you are Cerulean and Tabasco. Between you is a wavering film, like the undisturbed surface of water, like a mirror. However, as you saw just now, the actions on the other side of the "mirror" are delayed by a variable time span – in both cases, the figure on the other side didn't respond until you finished talking, but in both cases, she perfectly mimicked your every action and word – even though your second reaction, the one made just now, was longer in time span than your first.


"Ooh!" Splendid says. "Wonder when I'll get me own title, too."


"I didn't say we were done," the dog says, passing you some cut limes and lemons, and sets shakers of spices and salt and pepper on the table. "Now, we flavor as we cook. Squeeze and shake!"



You can't tell, in your wavering vision, when he took it from his pocket, but Cycle Kick now has his magical coin held between his claws as he drinks, fiddling with it as the superstitious do with a good luck charm.

Rather than answer you right away, he knocks back his tankard of ale, practically drowning himself in the flow of ale.

>Cycle has 1 failure

[1d10+3: 12] 3 TBP, DC 7
[1d10+5: 9] mental fortitude vs suggestion


>Meanwhile, aboard the Thunder Serpent.

"Aaagh!" Paraiba cries. "Prisma, would you quit it?"

Droplet rolls over in his hammock, looking at where the massive chicken has been pecking at the floor off and on for nearly fifteen minutes by this point. He reaches out with his telekinesis, and grabs ahold at the object that's held her attention all this time – which fell out of Alder's plumage when she pecked him.

"Huh," Droplet says as he twirls it in the light. "Doesn't look like it's got Aura on it, or magic. Wonder where it came from?"

A pale golden feather.

Magoja sips his ale.



"Seems everypony got that or something else from that big stunt we pulled. Only a matter of time before you pick up one for yourself too."


"Oh, bloody hell," Splendid gripes. "Now I'm gonna be all self-conscious what I do, tryna get people to gimme a gnarly knickname. All you had to do was lose an eye! Lucky you, eh?"

She laughs crudely, socking your arm. Despite her muscles, you withstand the hit. "You wanna coldie? Captain Cutlass and one of our new friends is havin' a drink-off."


Alder chirps a little bit, trying to focus on seasoning the fish to the best of his ability.

"Nicknames are nice- I am sure you will get a good one, Splendid!"


"I'd suggest Peg-leg Splendid, but you had to go and ruin that for me by saving me life, didn't you?" she admonishes jokingly.

Following the chef's example, you season and salt your fish as they cook, the lemon and lime and spices sizzling and popping along with the flesh. This continues, until the chef, with dramatic flair, tosses back his exsanguinated fruits. "Enough!"

The three of you pull back your fish, the air filled with tantilizing scents of a meal well-cooked. "It is done," the dog says, wiping his paws on his apron. "Eat, and taste the fish of your labor."



Cutlass glares at Cycle Kick. "Something tells me you're cheating…" she says with playful suspicion before drinking more.

>[1d10] drink moar

"I'm guessing this is your aura power, then? Something like a 'save state'?"

>[1d10+2] Critrange 9+, Whisper in your Ear

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




Roll #1 10 = 10


[1d10+1] 1 TBP, DC 8

Cycle sighs and coughs a little as he finishes his drink. He furrows his brow, looking down at the coin in his hands. The look on his face is one of pure and genuine confusion, as if he not only had no intention of taking out the coin, but no memory of it whatsoever. Confusion turns to shock as his fingers start to twirl the coin, as if they were acting independent of him.

But in the next moment, shock and confusion fade, and he refills his drink.

"No, no, nothing so crudely practical. I suppose I can't delay answering this any further, hmm… If I had to put it into words, my reticence to answer you about my abilities comes from a modicum of regret that I have for even making them.

"I made my abilities to aid the search of my dream," he continues, staring into his reflection in his mug. "But, right before my eyes, without my notice, my abilities caused my dream to crumble away. By reaching for it, and grasping out to it with my abilities, I very nearly destroyed all that I had set out to find… nearly."

He knocks back his mug, and looks you in the eyes. "Captain Cutlass, what is it to desire something?"

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6


Alder chirps a little and pulls his away with a start, before giggling happily and saying "We did it! Here, Splendid- would you like to have some?" he asks, offering the larger of the two fish he cooked.

"A-And, I suppose I did. Peg-Leg would sound nice, but I think we can come up with a better one."


Cerulean raises a brow at all of this and raises a hoof up and tries to touch this wavering film she's seeing before her.


Without hesitation, Splendid chomps into the fatter half of the fat fish, and almost inhales it. Manners come to her as an afterthought, and she holds up her hand before her mouth. "Hmm… this is good," she says as she chews. "…The Splendid Chef… Splendid the Seasoned… Spicy Splendid… Lemon-Lime Splendid…?"

The dog chef clicks his tongue. "You cannot claim for yourself a culinary title until you can cook your own fish from the very beginning of the process."

"Alright, alright," Splendid says, wandering off to the lakeside with her fish. "Alder! Get me a drink while I get me own fish!"

A moment later, the other Cerulean raises a brow at all of this and raises a hoof up and tries to touch this wavering film she's seeing before her.

Your hoof permeates the surface of the wavering film as easily as entering the surface of water. And, as your hoof breaks the surface, your mirrored self's hoof passes through, entering onto your side. The other you is totally intangible, at least to you; though your hooves pass through one another, they do not interrupt one another's movement.

Roger observes this, and his mirrored self, and goes a step further: He dives all the way through to the other side, and his other self comes out. You notice that the temporal relationship has not changed – your Roger swims about in a circle, while the one that just came out, the mirror-Roger, mimics his movements a few seconds afterward.



Cutlass gives Cycle a serious, contemplative look as Cycle talks about his dream. "Your dream to be a famous sports player?" she asks, not minding the fact that she is revealing her own power since she's more or less said it already.

Then, when Cycle gets philosophical, Cutlass throws her head back and laughs. "If you want to get philosophical, I'm game. But, I'm also drunk. So, you're going to have to give me a bit more context before I can comment on whatever it is you're trying to say."

>Drink again [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1


Cerulean takes Roger's lead and steps on all the way through, looking at everything going on with a very confused look on her face, and trying to make sense of it all.



Roll #1 6 = 6


"An eye, the wings, a few other things. Don't worry though, Alder will stitch you back together when you get yours."
Cloud jokes.

"Thanks, but I'll pass. Probably should be taking it easy after getting this leg back to working condition."


"Spicy Splendid sounds good, thought you are far too sweet for that, I would think." he teases, swiping at her beak with his tail before going to try and get another fish!
>[1d10+2] (+1 from TBP, +1 from Griffon Flight (Divebombing))

Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5


The mirrored Cerulean takes Roger's lead and steps on all the way through, looking at everything going on with a very confused look on her face, and trying to make sense of it all.

Your mirrored self emerges on the other side of the film, where you once were. Her actions, and Roger's actions, continue to lag behind yours. The two Tabascos, after some hesitance, switch sides as well.

This mirrored world that you stand in seems to be identical to your own. You see a few cracks in the tiles and a few loose stones, mirrored on both sides, that confirm that this is indeed a mirrored world.

But there is one difference: In one of the mirrored Cerulean's saddlebags, there is a blue stone statue sticking out of the corner of the bag. You have no such statue sticking out of your own.

You dive, but catch no fish. Splendid, swallowing the rest of her fish, dives in after you to take her shot at it!


Upon noticing you, Juniper comes over, fanning away the afternoon heat with her fan. "You're another one of Cutlass' crewmates, aren't you? Can I get you some flavored water? I can do all kinds of fruit flavors with my magic."


>Critfail going to count for two failures, putting you and Cycle at 2-2 for dramatic effect.

[1d10+1] 1 TBP, DC 9

The world begins to revolve about you, twisting and dancing like a cheap carnival ride as you finish your drink. Cycle leans forward, leaning on his mug, slick with spilled beer.

"My dream to have everything," he says, not breaking eye contact for even one second. "I wanted all that I did not have, all that was over the horizon, all that waited for me over the next threshold. A silly dream like that was even enough to convince others to join me… and not all of them would live to see that dream fulfilled."

"But… as I pursued that dream, with abilities tailor-made to facilitate claiming the entire world under my banner, I unwittingly killed the very thing that I truly wanted, but didn't realize. I didn't want to have everything. Having things is a greater responsibility than just its mere possession. You have to care for it, or it'll rot away. You have to guard it, or someone else will come and take it. More and more abilities I made, all to maintain this gigantic pile of stuff I was accumulating. And the more I accumulated, the less I wanted it. I would take something, only to lose interest in it the very next day, and wonder why I'd spent so long chasing after it. Before I knew it, and without my realizing it, everything I had was becoming a prison."

"Only recently have I realized that I didn't want to have everything, after all. I wanted to hunt everything. To seek, to chase, to dig, to search, to inquire, to fight, to hunt… it was the very act of going out there to go after something, that I was after."

He raises his mug to his beak.

"Do you really want to know my abilities? They're boring, drab, and most of all, they're burdens, not powers."

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


"Oh, no. I'm with the Beesting's crew."
Cloud corrects.
"Sounds like some great magic. Surprise me with something tropical or exotic."
Cloud says, taking up the offer.


Cerulean blinks for a moment as she notices the statue. Wanting to get a better look at it, and seeing what's been happening so far, she does the movements of reaching into her saddlebag and grabbing where the statue would be if she were to have one, and take it out.



Cutlass listens and ponders. "I don't really know what I want. So, I guess I can't even really tell you what it is to want. I just know I want… SOMETHING. I came out to sea and became a pirate because it felt like it's what I had to do to be happy. Like being a pirate was in my actual veins. My father was - is - a pirate. I guess I inherited it from him."

"But, I got out to sea and I was lost. I failed again and again. It's only this time with this crew that I've felt successful. The only thing that has felt different is that I have had something to do each step of the way. The only time I didn't… I just floated along with whatever happened… and then one of my best crewmates died for it…"

"So, I guess you're onto something. The hunt is more important than having it. Having something to DO is what really matters. You have the soul of a pirate too," Cutlass nods. "We were both just too dumb to figure out what that meant."

"If nothing else, I'd like to know for idle curiosity," Cutlass says with a small smirk as she sees that there's no way Cycle Kick will make it through this drink. Might as well keep him distracted and talking for the short time he's conscious so he can't call her out on not drinking.


Alder will try again, unless Splendid makes a decent catch!
>[1d10+1] Fishe

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5


Splendid catches a large trout. As she comes up from the water, her drenched feathers and fur cling to her muscles, accentuating them as if she were some kind of water goddess. She stomps back onto shore, shaking herself out.

All you catch is a tiny goldfish. He looks at you with a glimmer of adventure in his eyes.

"Hopefully you're not sick of this island's fruit already," Juniper says. She goes and grabs another mug, and fills it with fresh water from a nearby barrel. With a sticker-covered grimoire that looks more like a diary than a magic book, she sprinkles some sparkles over it, and turns the water over to you. "They're called magmafruits, if you're not already familiar."

Your mirrored self takes out the statue, pantomiming your every movement. You can see that it is a small icon of a winged, feathered serpent with a fierce and mighty scowl, though the statue is no more than a foot in length, and made of beautiful dark sapphire. You're close enough that you could take the statue from your mirrored self, if you desired.

>The "you" refers to Cutlass; Cloud and Alder can see this too

"Very well," Cycle Kick says, propping himself up on one elbow. A shadow passes over his eyes, and though he looks like he's about to collapse at any moment, you feel a spike of dread coming from your shadow, transmitted by the bond you and Ossie share.

Cycle Kick's hand slowly stretches out toward you.


"The first of my abilities is called Purchasing Power – the ability to buy or sell anything in existence. I could buy the clothes off of your back, the skeleton right out of your skin, the brains right out of your head. I could get quite the fortune for your brain, too… they're in high demand and low supply these days. And speaking of selling…"

You're suddenly beset by a nauseating and disorienting wave of pressure, as your drunkenness shoots through the roof. You suddenly feel as though you'd just quaffed twice as much alcohol as you had. Through your blurring vision, you see a small pile of gold manifest before Cycle Kick, who slides it into one of his belt pouches.

"Thank you for your patronage," he says, now sitting up straight with no issue. "I hate losing, and I hate hangovers more."



As the nausea hits her, Cutlass doubles over. She's barely able to think. All that is in her mind is what he just said about buying and selling anything. But, how could he sell something to her she didn't want to buy.

Then, a thought occurs to her. If it weren't the thing on the forefront of her brain, she might not have thought of it in this extra inebriated state. The fact that she now has so much alcohol content that it could legitimately kills her fuels an adrenaline rush that helps her as well.

But, she's in no state to do math.

"Ossie!" she calls out to her friend. "The coins he just gave. Count it out. Give him double back," she orders, unable to articulate her plan better than that.



>no barf [1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5


"Haven't had a chance to try out the fruit here, so this is perfect. Magmafruit though, is it spicy?"
Cloud says, taking the mug and tossing back a gulp.

Cloud turns as he hears Cycle kick go on about his powers, concerned with the talk of buying body parts after his experience with the doctor. As the look of drunkenness swaps over, Cloud keeps his eye on the pony, but doesn't do anything else quite yet.


>Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1


Seeing that actually work, she mimics handing the statue through the mirror and pass it over to her.


Alder hums a little… he doesn't have anything to keep the goldfish in, but he'll look around and see!

He looks back to Splendid to check on Splendid, and finds himself struck silent. He stammers a little and flushes, before shaking it off and smiling "S-See? You got one this time! V-Very, uhm, very nice."

>[1d10] Perception
Alder lets out an annoyed huff, before fishing through his pack to try and put together something to take some of the pain away from Cloud Shear.
>Natural Remedy: [1d10+2] (+1 TBP)

Roll #1 9 = 9 / Roll #2 10 + 2 = 12


"Sweet and spicy," Juniper says. "They're the hard-shelled fruits you might have seen earlier, the ones that the Watchkeepers seem to love.

Indeed, the taste is a bit like melon, with a fiery kick to it at the end. It reminds you of some of the stronger sauces that Chiu cooked with back home.

You obtain the sapphire statue. As you hold it, you see that it has no base, and no end of it is flat; it is clearly not meant to stand anywhere as a decoration. Perhaps it goes somewhere…?

As you examine the statue, you happen to look back behind you, to see if there is anything further east. You notice that there is none; rather than continue further, this corridor inside of the mirror world does not go very far, and instead ends in a black wall of void. You recall there was another corridor to the west that you haven't explored yet.


Cutlass barely gets through her order before she vomits all over the grass beside her, her stomach twisting and churning with blinding pain.

>Cutlass lost 2 wounds, but regained thru Natural Remedy

Juniper gasps with confusion, and Alder can see that Juniper's eyes are scrolling from right to left, as if they were flying over a page in a book.

"How about we just get an exchange!?" Ossie shrieks, zipping out of Cutlass's shadow as little more than a black blur, hurtling toward Cycle.

At the exact moment that Ossie jumps out to attack Cycle, Juniper jumps as well, and grabs her from behind. She hooks her arms about Ossie's, and rolls back, binding her in a pin.

"H-huh!?" Juniper cries. "Wh– who are you? I'm sorry, what am I even doing!?"

"Huh…" Cycle repeats. He blinks in confusion, looking just as lost as Juniper is. He looks down at his fingers, which are twirling the demonic coin, then at Cutlass. "C-Cutlass!? You alright?" he gasps, stepping forward to aid her.

But at the moment that he steps forward, his eyes lose their color, going blank and dull. He stops in his tracks, completely halted. The only part of him that remains in motion is the hand that twirls the coin.

The hand flips the coin upward. As it reaches its zenith, you see the "heads" side glimmer in the light. The cameo on the heads side changes – going from that of the Crimson King to that of Cycle Kick.

As the coin comes back down, the griffon before you catches it. He stands, getting up from all fours, and extends himself to his full height. Reaching back a claw, he slicks back his white head-feathers. He holds up the coin between thumb and index finger for all to see.

"Money really is a useful thing, isn't it?" the Crimson King asks.

Cutlass's drunkenness fades quickly as Alder feeds her the potion. He realizes, now that the jar is empty, he has temporary storage for the goldfish.


Cloud savors the drink, the melon doing nice to quench his thirst and cut the heat of the sun, and the fiery kick gives him a nice kick up in alertness.
"Wow, this is great! I'm gonna need to grab some seeds so I can have a supply of these around."

In the rapid flash of attacks, counters, and confusion, Cloud jumps up from his seat, unsure of what is going on himself.
As Cycle flips his coin, changing to the Crimson King, Cloud shifts into a defensive stance, taking half a step back in concern.


Cerulean looks over the statue, really liking the color of it. Even though she's sure of what'll happen, she looks to her reflection.
"Thank you! Good luck with your journey," she says and moves to leave and check out the west hallway.



Cutlass figures it out as she drinks the the potion and loses most of her alcohol -before he even speaks at makes it obvious. She kicks herself for not figuring it out sooner, but chalks it up to the alcohol.

"I thought something was weird…" Cutlass mutters and coughs as she stares at her vomit on the ground. "That story didn't sound like Cycle's story at all. That dream didn't sound like his either. Definitely didn't think YOU'D be here, though."

"Of course, the greatest tragedy of all of this is that I'm not nearly as drunk anymore," she shoots Alder a mostly-playful accusing glare.

"I'm not even going to bother asking how or when. I probably wouldn't understand it. It's mostly meaningless anyway. The WAY more interesting question is why. Did you just want to play a drinking game with me? Did I leave that much of an impression on you that you decided to pull of some switcheroo just to play with me?" she laughs.

"I'm honestly flattered."


>Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3




Roll #1 3 = 3


Alder hums a little, scooping some water up and gently dropping the goldfish inside.

"Yes, Captain Cutlass." he says in response, sticking his tongue out.
Alder lets out a startled squawk, reaching for his spellslinger and aiming it at the Crimson King. "W-What happened to Cycle Kick?


The goldfish looks ready for adventure.

Ossie shrieks and thrashes upon the ground, trying but failing to break free of the bind that Juniper keeps her in. "I'm sorry, but could someone tell me what's going on!?" Juniper squeaks. "I can't move my own body – I just moved on my own!"

Ossie cranes her neck to the side, twisting herself into a pretzel trying to bite down onto Juniper's neck, but Juniper, crying with confusion, headbutts Ossie back.

The Crimson King shakes his head to Cutlass. "Not at all. I hadn't intended to reveal myself at all during this trip. You were the one who challenged me to a drink-off. But I overestimated Cycle's ability to hold his grog, and had to come out, lest I be the one to deal with this hangover. I assumed that this was all one of your manic schemes, being the pony with the gumption and the idiocy required to steal The Golden Vein. I was wondering where either I or Cycle had gone wrong to give it away."

"Cycle Kick…" Ossie spits. "Did you have to match up the initials?"

"Actually, yes," The King says. "Do you know how difficult it was to find a soul on the black market with the same initials, and a similar body type? Harder than one might think. It was Juniper Yumeno here who fixed the differences with a bit of dress-up."

"I did!?" Juniper exclaims.

"Juniper… Yumeno…" Splendid murmurs in thought.

The Crimson King turns to Alder, holding up the coin that now has Cycle Kick as its cameo. "Oh, he's right here. I wouldn't throw away an asset so easily now that the jig is up. I paid good money for him after all. Him and Juniper."

The mirrored Cerulean looks over the statue, really liking the color of it. Even though she's sure of what'll happen, she looks to her reflection.
"Thank you! Good luck with your journey," she says and moves to leave and check out the west hallway.

You go back to your side of the mirrored world, and proceed back to the central hall, then to the western corridor. About halfway down it, you can see another watery, wavering film. This time, however, the figures on the other side are already waiting for you: A mirrored Cerulean, Roger and Tabasco. Just like before, you can see that the mirrored Cerulean has a statue sticking out of her bag. This one, made of ruby.



"Alright, first of all, everyone calm down. Since when is the Crimson King our enemy?"

She pauses for a moment. "Okay, allow me to rephrase. Since when is anyone here stupid enough to have the Crimson King OPENLY their enemy?"

"Everyone, just put your weapons away so Juniper can let Ossie go and she can have her free will back. Momentarily. Whatever. Not sure how that works. But, also none of my business."


"Another one?" She looks around a bit, wondering if there is a spot to place the statue, or if there was a place back where the two hallways are connected.


"Do you not remember what you did?"
Cloud says to Cutlass at her calm collection over this, taking yet another step back.
"He's not exactly our friend either, otherwise he wouldn't have been hiding."



"I already talked to him about it. I gave his ship back directly to him. And, he knows it was never about him. I was trapped on an island by some people who happened to be allied with him. It's just unfortunate circumstance that I did what I had to do to not be trapped anymore. He certainly seemed to be understanding."


Alder puts the fish away somewhere safe.

"O-Oh… I see. W-Well, that is just… eugh." the griffon says, shaking his head.

"I-I would not be so startled if he had not just… changed form?" he says, uncomfortably. He looks to Splendid, before cocking his head to the side. "Do you recognize the name?"


"Another one?" She looks around a bit, wondering if there is a spot to place the statue, or if there was a place back where the two hallways are connected.

This time – something's different. You don't realize it until after it's done, but this time, your mirrored self's actions preceded yours. She seems to be a span of some seconds ahead of you, but mirrors all of your actions and words just as well as the other one did. The same goes for Roger and Tabasco.

You recall the central corridor in which you dropped after passing the platforming obstacle. In addition to the west and east corridors here, that central corridor proceeded forward to the north, though you could not see the end of it.

"S-sorry," Splendid says. "Must have been before me time. Was wondering if I heard of any bounty hunters or pirates by the initials of 'J. Y.'"

>roll memory

Ossie stops thrashing, and the Crimson King nods to Juniper, whose body relaxes, and looses its grip. Whimpering with fear and confusion, Juniper scoots out from underneath Ossie, crawling away behind a barrel.

"Well," the Crimson King says. "I would hate to see you all put off from this adventure just on my account. I am Kukulcan's crewmate, and you are his hired help, after all. Wouldn't you agree that we can still work together to get to the bottom of this expedition? It seems that what we want is at the bottom of this Vault that we've all been seeing in our dreams."

He reaches his hand out, and Ossie tenses herself to pounce, but the Crimson King causes her to freeze with but a look. He simply leans forward, his hand held out for a shake.



Cutlass takes everything in for a moment. Then, she laughs. "This is actually perfect. You know how much time this saves me?"

"So, to be clear, you, the Crimson King, have always been a part of Kukulcan's crew? Not just Cycle Kick who happens to be possessed by you? You were hiding because you didn't want us to know you were here, not because you're hiding your presence from Kukulcan?"


"I don't really trust that it's all water under the bridge."

Cloud says nothing, already knowing it's better to not say things to demons from his experience earlier, walking back to grab his mug and finish off his magmafruit water.



"'Water under the bridge' implies there was ever anything to build a bridge over. He was never bothered by it to begin with."


Cerulean takes note of that and thinks to herself on how to work this one out. She really seems to be wracking her brain, but then an idea hits. She leaves back towards the hallway and hides so her reflection can't show up on it. She then sets her sapphire statue down, then goes back to the room to see if her reflection is still holding hers.


>[1d10+1] (+1 from TBP)
"No need to apologize, Splendid. though, hrm… I am not sure."

"I, hrm… I do not like it. Though, I might be outnumbered in the choice."

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4


"And I still doubt that."


The mirrored Cerulean still has the ruby statue. Although her movements are ahead of yours, you still seem able to take the statue, just as you did from the one that lagged behind.

"No, no, you were right the first time," the Crimson King says. "Technically speaking, he is one of the captains of my fleet. He is upon my payroll, with all that entails. It was Cycle Kick we had to retrofit to be part of his crew – nothing that a bit of suggestion cannot handle. Now, as for why I took possession of Cycle Kick, it has nothing to do hiding my presence, but it does have to do with you, or rather, with Cerulean. With her advice – that I go out and do things the hard way. Wearing another's body, especially with that other being's soul still inside, is quite difficult, and limits one's power. You may think of it as playing a game with a severe handicap in points, either for a challenge, or for the benefit of the opponent."


Seeing everyone leave him hanging on the handshake, the Crimson King reaches out his other hand, which holds the coin between finger and thumb. He flips it, and it turns back into Cycle Kick's. The Crimson King then shakes his own hand with Cycle's, and then turns the hand back to "normal."

"In any case," the Crimson King says. "As I was saying, I plan to get into the Vault that Kukulcan's after. It is the closest thing to a clue that any of us have to the location of the Heart of Gold. How ironic that I end up here despite pledging to do things myself, the hard way. Though, I didn't actually purchase the clue as I had originally planned. Ah, that's neither here nor there.

"What's important is that I'm doing things the hard way. You may notice I have nothing but the clothes on my back, a single bodyguard, and the money I made off of Cutlass generously purchasing my drunkenness. I am not a captain, but a lowly swab on a strange Vola's ship. Once I'm inside the Vault, any gold that I get my hands on will be fair game for me to use however I wish. And if I might add – I am going to be looking for a new crew to hire."

"No amount of money would ever convince us–" Splendid begins.

"Everything has its price, dear Si…" the Crimson King says, before narrowing his eyes. "…Miss Splendid. Even loyalty. Especially loyalty. Purchasing Power lets me buy and sell anything in the world, global same-day delivery. Do not think that any of you are above it."

The night after the attack on Kaco Island, you recall a conversation overhead from the mooks who went with Cutlass to take the Golden Vein, of a terrifying abomination of a crewmate that guarded the ship – half machine, half chimera… the Yellow Jester.


Cloud listens on as the Crimson King talks about doing things the hard way, surprised it was by Cerulean's words. But the end of his speech leaves him with worry and dread, having the ability to buy loyalty from a person. With how he traded drunkenness with Cutlass, the worst comes to mind.


"I… hrm. I think the name is familiar. Some sort of Yellow Jester. An abomination, of sorts." he says, humming.

"A-Anything? Goodness, that's… awful to think of." the griffon says, shivering a little bit. He flicks his ears and looks to Splendid, before asking "SW-What was he going to say?"



"Hmm," Cutlass says contemplatively. "I can see why you regret your own power. You're certainly an interesting person I can learn a lot from. Which is one of the reasons I'm so ecstatic to have an opportunity to have this conversation. Assuming everyone can stay civil."

"You've actually convinced me of something, in fact. I don't want the Heart of Gold for myself. I'm just here for the adventure, not the result. Which leads me to why I find these circumstances to be so fantastically perfect. It's been my intention all along to allow Kukulcan to get the Heart of Gold so that he could bring it to you. The fact that you're here just saves us all so much time."

"Even better, with this out in the open, maybe Kukulcan can stop lying to me and endangering my crew in so doing. Would you mind sharing the truths he continues to withhold from me?"

>[1d10+2] crits 9+, Whisper in your Ear

Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8


"Heheh, nice!" She says as she approaches her approaching reflection and moves her hoof to as to receive the ruby statue from herself.
"Thanks me!" She says happily, pretty sure that was it for here and goes back to grab the sapphire statue.


Cloud nearly coughs out his drink as Cutlass prattles on. He walks, over, speaking in an exclaimed whisper.
("Do you not remember what they all said way back on Kaco when we stopped all of his stuff in the first place?! Why do you want to help him?")


"That 'si' sound?" Splendid whispers. "Honest, I don't know. Thought he mighta been bout to call me 'sister' or summat, like we're both griffons? But I never heard anything like that where I'm from. Is it a trend where you hail?"

"Oh…?" the Crimson King asks, tilting his head. "You don't need to keep using your ability on me: I'll give you this one for free. You'll need to pay up if you want any more. He hasn't withheld a single truth from you, and does not intend to do so."

"We aren't after the Heart of Gold?" Ossie asks, mouth open in shock.
"You aren't?" the Crimson King asks. "Now that's something you should doubt, mister Azure-Eye Cloud."
"Set that aside!" Juniper shouts, trembling and shaking. "Alder, what was that? A Yellow Jester? Wh-what's going to happen to me!? Where's Cycle?"

With the ruby and sapphire serpents now in your possession, all that's left is to head down the final corridor of B5F.



"What reason do I have to fear the Crimson King?" Cutlass asks calmly in response, not whispering.


Alder looks at Cutlass in confusion, narrowing his eyes and frowning. He starts to step a little closer, before flicking his ears and looking back to Splendid.

"It was, ehm… I do not think it is, no." he says, frowning a little as he tries to think about what it was Crimson King was going to say.

Alder folds his ears back and sets a claw on Juniper's shoulder, before saying "R-Relax, please. C-Cycle is still here… s-sort of. I do not fully understand any of this myself, but panicking will only make it worse."


Cloud's eyes shift to the Crimson King for a moment, but he keeps his focus on Cutlass.
("I didn't say anything about fear. Why do you want to help his goals?")


Cerulean looks at the two statue pieces, then to Roger and Tabasco.
"Gotta say, three of us do pretty good, huh guys?" With a confident grin, she heads down the corridor to see what awaits them next.


At the end of the corridor is a high and narrow door of obsidian, with brass metalwork surrounding it. Clear panes in the door allow you to see the complex machinations within. At about eye level, there are two indentations, in the shapes of serpents, identical matches for the statuettes you found.

Could this really be all that there was on this floor…?

Juniper sighs, trying to calm herself as she sniffles back tears.


Cerulean takes a moment to look at all of the machinery stuff, blinking a bit as she understand a single bit of it, but it looked neat and fancy. She inserts the statues in the indentations and stands back a bit to let the door open.



Cutlass giggles impishly. "That last one was just to confirm whether or not you could sense me using it. I figured you'd say something."

"I guess if you both insist on lying to me, then you can continue to lie to me," Cutlass shrugs. "I don't see what benefit it gives you at this point. Speaking of no benefit, I can see why you were insistent on grabbing all the gold you can in the vault. I still don't see why it matters. If the Heart of Gold is really there, then it you'll have all the gold in the world - literally. I'm sure you'll understand, however, that my stance on that subject hasn't changed. As per the agreement with Kukulcan, I get all the treasure, you get all the items of historical value. That would include the Heart of Gold, obviously. If you don't like that deal, then I suggest you make sure your own subordinates don't go around recklessly making deals that are counter to what you want."


"I never said The Secret Assassins were coming here for the Heart of Gold," Cutlass says to Ossie. "We're here for untold amounts of treasure. That has always been the truth of it. Thus the deal I made with Kukulcan. If the Beestings happen to get the Heart of Gold first, well then I suppose that's what happens. It doesn't affect me any."

Cutlass doesn't acknowledge Juniper.


"He can obviously hear you whispering, you idiot," Cutlass rolls her eyes.


Alder rubs her shoulder a little, and tried to offer a smile. "He is still okay. He is still him, just… not here right now. He will be back. We can, ehm… maybe find a way to remove that from him."


"E-Excuse me, but what exactly are you on about? What is this?"



"It's exactly as I've said I've been doing the entire time," Cutlass shrugs. "I'm just here for gold. What really confuses me is what the Beesting's plan was. You also agreed to give Kukulcan anything of historical value. Did you intend on betraying him for the Heart of Gold?"


("I know what I'm doing, alright? You need to watch your words around these things.")


Ossie bites her tongue, but glowers at you.

"How unfortunate it is that you are so full of lies that you cannot recognize plain truth before you," the Crimson King says. "Kukulcan may be a fool, but an honest one. Ask your amulet if you are still in disbelief. In any case, let the one who gets there first be the one who lays claim to the gold. I tire of this conversation. Unless you want to drink some more, I suggest you regroup among yourselves and resolve this disagreement among yourselves about the Heart of Gold and who gets what."

"Yeah… yeah, we can," Juniper says, wiping at her eyes. "But… we also need to figure out why I lost control of my body just now, and why the King said all that stuff about my dress-up magic."

The doors shudder after you insert both statuettes, and with a great ger-chunk, slide back panel by panel, to reveal the path beyond.

Before you is another great corridor, about ten feet or so wide, and seemingly interminably long. Instead of walls on either side, you see the watery mirrors, whose glistenings fill the corridor with teal light.

Future Cerulean, the one who held the ruby statuette, is upon your left, already waiting for your entry.

Past Cerulean, the one who held the sapphire statuette, is upon your right, and doesn't take her position until you do.

At the very far end of the corridor, or at least, nearly to the end of what you can see, a very tall obsidian Watchkeeper appears, in the shape of a Vola that looks… somewhat similar to Sir Kukulcan. Two others appear alongside him, in both the future mirror world, and the past mirror world. However, all three of the Vola move in perfect synchronicity, unaffected by whatever magic causes your reflections to move ahead and after you.

In the Vola's hands is a very sophisticated contraption, seeming to be partway between a long crossbow, and a gun.


All three of the Vola take aim at the Ceruleans before them, past, present and future.

>each turn, roll an instant dodge roll for all three Ceruleans. All three Ceruleans must perform the same actions each turn, but roll separately. The differences in the rolls will represent the differences in time

>All Ceruleans share your H/W
>You can switch between which path you're on, Past, Present, or Future, as a free action



"Nothing has changed," Cutlass shrugs to the Crimson King. "You have your competition with Cerulean or whatever. I don't intend on interrupting that. I'm just here to ensure SOMEONE gets it."

"It was a pleasure speaking with you. I'll take your advice."

Cutlass turns to leave.

She heads far enough away that no one from Kukulcan's crew or the Crimson King is within eyeshot anymore. She pulls out her Caller Conch. "Ossie, I have a favor to ask of you," she says to her as she's getting ready to speak into the Conch. "We need to have the power to know when we are being eavesdropped. Someone is feeding him and the news information. We need to know who."

Then, she speaks into the Caller Conch the code to call Schnitzel.


Alder huffs a little, and ignores Cutlass.

"W-Well, perhaps he has some sort of power over you- a sort of power we should seek to cleanse from you, if we can."


Cloud turns back, stepping aside as it seems the topic has ended, unsure of how this expedition will go now, and more worried about who is safe to talk to.


Juniper wipes her eyes a bit, then looks to the Crimson King. He shrugs at her. "You may go with them if you wish. The Pattern Juggler would have a fit if he knew I was going without a bodyguard, but at last I have some proper cash on me. I am in no danger."
"Alright…" Juniper sighs. "Wait, why did I even stop to ask your permission!?"

She storms off alongside you and Splendid.
"Oh, er…" Splendid says. "Maybe this ain't a good time, but I wanna get that dog's name, the one what taught us how to cook."

"You have reached Captain Schnitzel's sausage delivery service," Schnitzel says.

As pirates, you've grown accustomed to hearing a peculiar tone of voice – when the one on the other end of the line is irredeemably drunk, yet somehow manages to put together coherent sentences.

"For one hot, fresh wiener delivered straight to your mo– no, gimme that back, you bit–!"

You hear some violence, and a few exchanges of Aura.

"Thought I confiscated all of these already," Miss Sunshine grumbles. "Hello, yes, what is it, who is it."



Cutlass just rolls her eyes at the antics. "Make Believe, Sparkler, and Colobok are on the way with some sun crystal that should keep the giants that come out at night at bay. Are they back yet? Have there been any problems?"


Present Cerulean looks to the two others and grins.
"Alright, let's do this!" She says, likely out of synch with the two others and she charges forward and moves her path around to mess up the Volas' aim.

>Future [1d10]

>Present [1d10]
>Past [1d10]

Cerulean gets her tail ready to give the ground a slam behind her, watching as her future self is already doing so and flooding her ground, and her past self is starting to get her aura ready.

>All three use Slam on the ground not to damage, but more to activate Tide Pool

Roll #1 7 = 7 / Roll #2 6 = 6 / Roll #3 3 = 3


Cloud looks over as Cutlass calls her crew, concerned over the plans she's making.
"Hey, Hmm," He asks Hmm, now that they'd away from earshot of the enemy crew, "How the Crimson King was able to take over that gryphons body, that's not an easy thing, right? We won't need to worry about his crew hijacking us right?"


Alder rubs Splendid's side a little, and says "I think that is okay. Go ahead and ask, Splendid."


Splendid waddles off to where the dog is busy organizing all the cooking supplies. You overhear a bit of their conversation as Splendid asks his name.
"Itz," he replies.
"It's…?" she asks.
"It's Itz."
She waits, thinking he's stuttering.
"It's what?"
"Just Itz."
"Just Itz!"
"Oh… It's Itz, isn't itz?"
"It is Itz," he confirms.

"I don't know any optimistic way of putting this," Hmm says. "If he had the money, and the will, he could buy any of you with a snap of his fingers. At the very least, it's not cheap. But if the Vault's as full of gold as they say, and he gets his hands on it…"

"They called ahead not long ago," Miss Sunshine says. "Had to take a few detours to avoid wandering Watchkeepers, but they're en route. Without much else to do here, the crew decided to get drunk. We're going to need to crack open the budget to replenish our stocks here soon. Please tell me you're finding lots of treasure out there."

You realize that Ossie said nothing to your request. You catch her sitting nearby, facing away from you, cheeks puffed out.

Showers of magical bolts fly from the three Volas' bowguns. You and the Future Cerulean dodge and weave around them, water filling the ground in your wake, but Past Cerulean, her actions delayed by precious seconds, gets caught by stray shots. Her wounds appear upon Future Cerulean first, then on you.

>Cerulean 10/7

>Shooters' actions to come next week



Last time, on PirateQuest…

Cutlass' drink-off opponent turned out to be none other than the Crimson King himself. Cycle Kick was, it seemed, still a real person, but his body and soul were being possessed by the King to serve as both a disguise and a self-imposed handicap. Both Cycle Kick and Juniper Yumeno (believed to be possessed by the Yellow Jester) had been purchased off of the black market; their minds had been overwritten through hypnotic suggestion so that they believed they were but ordinary crewmates of Kukulcan, and their bodies had been warped by Juniper's dress-up magic to better fit their roles.

The King confessed that he had no intention of revealing himself to our crew at any point during this expedition, as he had been convinced by Cerulean to go on a journey of hardship by seeking after the Heart of Gold "the hard way," with only minimal assistance from his near-omnipotent Aura Ability, Purchasing Power, which let him buy or sell anything in existence provided he had the money for it. He revealed himself solely to use Purchasing Power to avoid losing the drink-off, and had assumed that the party had already seen through his disguise by that point. They had not, and in fact, the drink-off had been Magoja's suggestion from the start…

Later, Cutlass took the party aside to discuss what had been learned, and to get in contact with Schnitzel via the Conch. Vice-Captain Little Miss Sunshine answered instead, because Schnitzel (and the rest of the crew) was blackout drunk, and apparently in a very… peculiar mood. Juniper Yumeno, terrified about the proposition that her body and soul were being possessed by a demonic entity, went along with them.

Meanwhile, Cerulean puzzled out the gimmick of B5F's trial. The floor was divided into three sections, each divided by a watery veil. On the eastern section was a mirror of Cerulean, Tabasco and Roger. These versions of her group repeated everything that the real Cerulean, Tabasco and Roger did, only they did it a few seconds after the real ones did – a temporally delayed mirror. On the western section was the same thing, only these mirrored selves acted before the real ones, a kind of glimpse into the future.

From both the past and future Ceruleans, our Cerulean obtained a statuette of a ruby and a sapphire snake, and used those to unlock the door at the end of the floor's central corridor. Beyond it lay an extremely long hallway, guarded by three Vola Watchkeepers armed with magic bowguns. It was a straight shot to the end, with nothing to serve as cover against the snipers – Cerulean would have to make a break for it, while enduring the damage that her future and past selves incurred.


Splendid waddles off to where the dog is busy organizing all the cooking supplies. You overhear a bit of their conversation as Splendid asks his name.
"Itz," he replies.
"It's…?" she asks.
"It's Itz."
She waits, thinking he's stuttering.
"It's what?"
"Just Itz."
"Just Itz!"
"Oh… It's Itz, isn't itz?"
"It is Itz," he confirms.


"I don't know any optimistic way of putting this," Hmm says. "If he had the money, and the will, he could buy any of you with a snap of his fingers. At the very least, it's not cheap. But if the Vault's as full of gold as they say, and he gets his hands on it…"


"They called ahead not long ago," Miss Sunshine says. "Had to take a few detours to avoid wandering Watchkeepers, but they're en route. Without much else to do here, the crew decided to get drunk. We're going to need to crack open the budget to replenish our stocks here soon. Please tell me you're finding lots of treasure out there."

You realize that Ossie said nothing to your request. You catch her sitting nearby, facing away from you, cheeks puffed out.


Showers of magical bolts fly from the three Volas' bowguns. You and the Future Cerulean dodge and weave around them, water filling the ground in your wake, but Past Cerulean, her actions delayed by precious seconds, gets caught by stray shots. Her wounds appear upon Future Cerulean first, then on you, then upon Past Cerulean.

>Cerulean 10/7

The Future Sniper takes aim at Future Cerulean:

[1d10+2] Marksman Shot, Autocrit

The Present Sniper takes aim at Present and Past Cerulean:

[1d10+2] Repeating Fire, Trick Ammo: Split

The Past Sniper launches a barrage of strange rounded canisters from his bowgun, arcing them high into the air over the long road before you.

[1d10+2] Smokescreen

You are currently 15% down the path.

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



"That shouldn't matter, should it? No amount of gold would get me to abandon Chiu or work for a demon, so if everypony else feels the same way we should be safe then, right?"


"Your case might be different because of your love for her and your incoming foal," Hmm says. "But, here's the rub… and I'm not even sure if the Crimson King himself knows this, but… his ability is to buy and sell anything. The means with which he buys and sells is irrelevant – I sense in his heart that he has devoted himself wholly to the pursuit and manipulation of gold, but things can be bought and paid for with any kind of 'currency.' If he came into possession of something you valued…"


The Ceruleans each does their own moving around as they proceed onward.

>Instant dodge


As the Ceruleans move, out of sync, they call out for their Rogers to fuse together with him, then dive down into the stone floor to avoid further gunfire as they move forward.

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11 / Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11 / Roll #3 6 + 1 = 7


>fixing H/W


"That's not gonna happen," Cloud says without hesitation, "I've screwed up before, but it won't happen again."


Wave after wave of magical gunfire flies overhead as you dive into the floor, with Past Cerulean just narrowly escaping as she lags behind you and the Future Cerulean. The sounds of gunfire continue, muffled, for a while after you dive, and you can hear the canisters land and explode, followed by the sounds of whooshing smoke as a smokescreen overtakes the way ahead.

You are currently 30% down the path. The gunfire stops once you vanish, the snipers reconsidering their plan of action. But, they aren't stopped for long. Suddenly, as you swim through the gray darkness of the earth, you hear shots ring out, and ricochet against the ground, ripping up tiles and leaving deep indents in the ground around you!

Future Sniper fires indiscriminately at the ground of the path!
[1d10+1] Barrage

Present Sniper tries to get a bead upon you…
[1d10+1] Sight Beyond Sight

You can hear the Past Sniper loading an exceptionally heavy-sounding charge onto his bowgun!
[1d10+1] Remote Charge

>no dodge rolls necessary until bond with Roger expires

"I'm just telling you this so that you can keep this in mind, if something happens!" Hmm says. "I prefer you either lazy or stubborn, pick one and stick to it!"

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


"Ah- well, thank you for the lesson, Mister Itz!" the griffon says, offering a grateful bow. He'll also try to hide his snickering, and gives Splendid a soft peck on the cheek.


"I'll pick whichever one suits the situation the best," Cloud retorts, "Just need to worry about the others if things get bad with the King…"


The Ceruleans keep going down their lanes, moving faster now that they're in the water and doing dives and other 'underwater' acts she learned from the circus to try and keep the speed up.

>Full steam ahead for all three


"Not my fault he didn't articulate his words," Splendid grumbles, poking you with one of the bones from the de-boned fish. "Now, did I see you slippin' a fish into your non-existent trousers earlier?"

Cutlass, Ossie and Miss Sunshine appear to be engaged in some kind of intense discussion. You get the sense that they plan to keep it among themselves for now. As that goes on, Juniper's expression starts to fall. "I bet it's because I'm here…" she sighs, having lost her usual tomboyish energy. "They probably think I'm a spy."
"Can't blame them, even if you're not at fault," Splendid says with a shrug.
"Yeah… what about you guys, though? Are you alright with me staying over here for now? I just don't want to be around that guy now that I know something's up with me and Cycle."

The shots from the Future Sniper chip away at your sides, scoring small hits along your chest and shoulders. Tabasco, still stuck on the surface, grits his teeth and suppresses his whimpers each time he's grazed.

>Cerulean 9/7

Suddenly, an ominous chill grips your heart, as you're beset with a psychic pressure, the sensation of being intensely watched. Even without having to see it, you know one of the shooters has got your number.

You are currently 50% down the path.

Future Sniper takes aim at you!

[1d10+2] Basic Attack, Trick Shot Knockout

Present Sniper will as well!

[1d10+2] Marksman Shot

Past Sniper doesn't shoot, but you can hear an ominous chirping above you…

[1d10+2] Remote Charge detonation

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


Alder sticks his tongue out, before giggling. "Hmm? Oh! I found a small fish, and it didn't look… hrm. Not good for eating, but perhaps a pet." he says, holding up the jar.

"Ah- well, I do not think there is much to do about it, so I will not hold it against you."


Cloud looks over, distracted from his talk with Hmm as Juniper's mood continues to fall.
"Well, our crews only just joined up, so you really can't be considered a spy," He says, trying to make it better, "From everything that went on, you're still you, so I don't mind you around."


Cerulean attempts to speed up her pace, pushing herself as she darts forward suddenly.

>Using Sprinter to cover more ground


"Could be something of an appetizer, or a fishy-on-top for a larger dish," Splendid says. She backs away when the goldfish gives her the stink-eye. "…Right then, didn't think they were capable of that. Might even be a guardian beast with an intellect like that."

Juniper groans. "Thanks, guys. So, uh… well, they're certainly having quite the discussion," she says, leaning over to look at Cutlass and Ossie. "What about your other friend, Cerulean was it? How do you think she's doing?"

As the three Ceruleans dart forward, you suddenly see Future Cerulean flip and spin, her body suddenly covered with inexplicable burns and myriad wounds as she's launched back toward the surface. And you soon understand why: A moment later, an explosion rips through the earth around you, tossing you and Past Cerulean through the air in a smoldering heap. Your head rings and your vision distorts, but you can see that the Past Sniper took out a great chunk of the path with some kind of massive explosive attack, leaving behind a vast crater. Your last burst of speed, combined with the propulsion of the blast, has left you and your copies laying upon the rim of the crater.

>Cerulean 0/6

Roger flops out of your body, but quickly starts to try to nudge you back to your hooves. As all three snipers take aim at you, the Tabascos leap into action, holding them off with a volley of suppressive fireballs.

You are currently 80% down the path, won't make more progress until you recover.


The Ceruleans all groan in pain, but a look at the snipers and their long-ranged antics make them growl. Trying to use the aid of the water created earlier, the Cerulean attempt to get back up and closing the distance.

>Earthly Affinity makes recovery from helpless DC 4

>Future [1d10+1]
>Present [1d10+1]
>Past [1d10+1]

Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8 / Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7 / Roll #3 10 + 1 = 11


"I'm not sure what she's up to, but she's a tough shark. I'm pretty sure she has whatever it is covered just fine."


As you manage to get back up, the snipers take an unusual tactic for long-range fighters. They quickly dismantle parts of their guns, breaking off longer barrels and stocks, until they are left with shorter-ranged weaponry: The Future Sniper holds a crank-operated machine gun, the Present Sniper a pair of pistols, and the Past Sniper some kind of strange cross between a grenade launcher and a handcannon.

Just beyond them, at the end of the path, you see three great doors, just like the ones at the front of the hall. They are shut, but do not appear to have any lock system that would mirror the ones on the doors through which you entered. Perhaps if you're swift enough…

But the Snipers apparently don't want you to even try and make a break for it, as they fly toward you, guns raised for action.

>Cerulean 13/6, need to make dodge rolls again now that you're aboveground.

The Future Sniper cranks his machine gun at Future Cerulean!

[1d10+2] Basic Attack

The Present Sniper launches a volley at all three Ceruleans!

[1d10+2] Barrage

The Past Sniper does not shoot, but reaches his hand out toward the rubble scattered by the blast. Chunks of stone fly through the air, pulled toward the Past Sniper; they gather upon the ground before him, arranging themselves into barricades stretching above your head!

[1d10+2] Building high barricades to block off the exit

"Hrm, well, alright…" she forces a smirk. "I'm trying to fish for ways to ingratiate myself with you guys. Just what a real spy would do."
"Probably not something to joke about, what with Cutlass being concerned 'bout spying and all," Splendid says.
"Yeah, you're right…" Juniper sighs. "What else is there to do? That kid that liked stickers is gone, so I can't bribe him with any of mine. Your companions are still in the infirmary, but that Droplet guy gave me some strange vibes."
"Pushup contest, now that Cloud's got most of his bits and bobs back?" Splendid offers.

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11 / Roll #2 10 + 2 = 12 / Roll #3 8 + 2 = 10


The Ceruleans proceed to get back to running through the slightly-flooded lanes, so close now that they're sure they can almost reach them soon….


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


"Yea, Cutlass doesn't have a sense of humor so you need to watch your jokes around her."
Cloud says.
"Could do that, or something less physical."
He looks to Juniper.
"So where'd you learn that flavor changing magic? You practice in shaman magic stuff?"


Alder snickers a little, before patting her on the head and saying "Who knows? The ribcage is strange, yes."

"I think she is doing… fine. Well, I hope she is- she seemed rather preoccupied, but doing well enough. She is quite hardy, so I doubt she is in any danger."


"First things first, though!" Splendid says. She winds up her fist, acting like she's going to clobber you into next week with a vicious haymaker. But as she swings, she dampens the speed, giving you only a pat on the cheek. "You can't have a feisty fish like that in a tiny vial. It's downright cruel! Think we can shake down Mallea for a bigger bowl. Oh, but… best if I don't accompany you for that. I'm asking much of her as it is."


>12 results in 7 damage, times three from targeting all 3, = 21; 11 results in 6 damage, = 27; failure of 3 on the first dodge adds 3 damage, = 30; result of 10 and 8 removes 8 damage, = 22

As you run under the snipers, they hit you with a powerful volley of gunfire. Your armor absorbs most of the damage, but many shots pierce through, riddling you with holes. All three of the Ceruleans crumble before the doors, but before they can grab onto the handles, the Past Snipers make some barricades out of the stone, and place them before the doors.

>You are currently at 95% of the way down the path; victory achievable at 100%

Instead of shooting further, the three snipers set aside their guns, and start to pull at the barricades from afar with magic. The barricades slowly grind forward, pushing you away from the doors in the process.

>You will lose 5% each turn you are helpless

"Hang on," Juniper says. She goes over to where the Crimson King sits, and liberates some stools, giving him the stink eye the whole time. The Crimson King hardly takes note of her, instead consulting a dark red book, in which he writes.

Juniper comes back with the chairs, setting up a circle in the grass. "Oh, it's all just applications of dress-up magic. It's a very widely-applicable kind of magic, if I can put my head to it. Apparently, I even changed Cycle Kick's body to better accommodate the Crimson King… they must have made me forget that with their hypnotic suggestion."

Juniper sits for a moment, but is soon up again, restless with worry. She starts doing pushups in the grass, apropos of nothing.

"Hang on now," Splendid says. "…Wonder if you two were the only ones that the King did some suggestion on."


>Cerulean 0/5


"Pretty wide range to go from dress up to changing taste."
Cloud says, taking a seat.
"Sounds like you can change just about anything," Cloud comments, starting to think a bit, "If he had you change Cycle's body to accommodate him, could you do the opposite so he can't use his body?"


Cerulean gives some loud yells of pain as they get shot up, but growls when they feel the nudging of the barricade against them. Which prompts them to try and get back up quickly.

>DC 4 still


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


Alder lets out a startled chirp and flinches slightly, before giggling a little more and saying "Ah! Got me. And, yes- we need to get a larger bowl than my vial. And, please- you are not asking too much by coming along, it is fine!"

Alder gently pats Juniper's shoulder, and says "Relax, please. Getting worked up will not fix the problem, yes? Just make it worse." He looks back over to Splendid, and cocks his head to the side. "Who else, do you think?"


"Well, the act of 'dressing up' basically just means to rearrange things and present them in new and different lights," Juniper says.

Alder's suggestion appears to do little; she grips her dress's skirt between her hind legs, then starts doing hoof-stand pushups like it's no big deal. "It's not a big jump from breaking down something's outward appearance to breaking down its internal composition, and rebuilding it from there. But I have to be really familiar with whatever it is I'm breaking down to make any sort of complex alterations."

She mulls over Cloud's suggestion. "…No. It's not impossible, but impractical beyond reason. That brief glimpse of his Aura was the most frightening I've ever seen. He's beyond the level that most people would consider to be of a Master."

"It depends on who actually did the suggestion," Splendid says. "The King mentioned suggestion by name, but never said the practitioner's name. If it was Magoja… it makes me think there's a chance that the lot in the infirmary might have been subjected to hypnosis before we got here. Maybe even Droplet, too…"

All three Ceruleans manage to get back up, but before they can cross the barricades, the snipers go for a change of tactics! The barricades bend around you in a triangular formation, and suddenly pull inward to try to trap all three of you in a case of hard stone!


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


The Ceruleans each grin as they see they're up, and something solid is getting in their way. Something that they can finally slam with their tails! Seems they plan to use their brute force for the final leg of this!

>Slam Crits 8+, +2, DC -1, take better




Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6 / Roll #2 1 + 2 = 3 / Roll #3 4 + 2 = 6 / Roll #4 9 + 2 = 11 / Roll #5 5 + 2 = 7 / Roll #6 8 + 2 = 10 /



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


Although the snipers' barricades close in upon you, the three Ceruleans, acting in sequence, bash, smash and annihilate the stone walls, dodging and waving around the flying chunks of shrapnel and earth that hurtle about them as a result.

>Cerulean 10/6

You make a break for it, and get to the doors; the watery veils at your sides curve inward at the doorway, and all three Ceruleans are united there. But the handles are incredibly heavy, and hardly budge even with the three of you trying to get them open.

The snipers, seizing their last chance, raise their guns.

[1d10+2] Marksman Shot

[1d10+2] Reflex Shot

[1d10+2] Barrage

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


"Huh, didn't think about it that way. Sounds like a pretty adaptable power."

"What about yourself? If you can rearrange stuff like that, could you change yourself so whatever control that happened earlier on you won't happen again?"


"Would something like that work? It does sound far too dangerous to interact with Crimson, so…" he shrugs a little bit.

"That is a troubling thought… I wonder if it would be possible to detect if someone has been tampered with?"


As the Ceruleans notice and heavy door, they just grin at the strength challenge and attempt to pull their hardest!

>Tough: They can also lift, carry and move heavier objects than unicorns and pegasi.


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



"Doubt it," Juniper says. "Under normal circumstances, yeah, but while I'm possessed like this, I doubt it'd just sit by while I try to work my magic. I'd need a longer ritual to pull off changes on a deeper level. The… thing possessing me was able to take control on a hair trigger, with how I jumped out at Ossie like that. It'd be impossible to slip a longer ritual past a reaction time like that."

"They say that victims of hypnotic suggestion often respond to certain keywords, which activate their programming," Juniper says. "Or, which can shut them down, make them freak out, stuff like that. If we could discern what words might be a trigger for them, we could determine which ones are hypnotized."
"Wouldn't that risk affecting you too?" Splendid asks.
"Only if they used the same words for everyone," Juniper says. "But I'd prefer that so that we could at least identify what's been done to me, Cycle and the others."

You endure a final barrage of bullets, and with a mighty roar of effort, yank open the door to the path. A vast circular chamber lies beyond, but before you can enter, you notice something quite strange…

>Cerulean 4/6

…The bullets have stopped. You look back, and see that all three shooters have disengaged, their arms now pointed safely away. The three Watchkeeper snipers watch you with appraising stares for a moment, before flying off into the air, from whence they came.


>Cerulean 4/5*



"We're making progress. We're going to get a good score soon. There's a lot of roadblocks. A lot to do. When Make Believe gets back, tell him to get together with Schnitzel. The two of them need to call me alone. Due to the fact that we seem to have a mole, they need to be sure they are alone with no one around when they call me. Got that?" Cutlass instructs Miss Sunshine.

Once Miss Sunshine gives a positive affirmation of understood instructions, she hangs up and turns back to Ossie.

"Two breakpoints. Maybe three. That's all I need to beat him - Heart of Gold or not. Until we know our conversation isn't being listened to, I can't really say more than that. What's eating at you? I'll say what I can."


Cerulean pants as she watches them fly up and away, giving them a bit of a wave goodbye.
"Everyone alright?" She checks over Roger, but especially Tabasco as he was left alone for that short bit of time.


"Feels almost impossible to go through that method, who knows what word they could've used, or if they even did that."
Cloud says.
"If this is a thing that demons or whatever can do there has to be some sort of easy-ish counter, right?"
Cloud looks up to the sky, getting an idea. He tries to think back through Obstinence's memories again, figuring the Virtues of all ponies would know something about this, or at least a clue to it.
>Memory Hunting [1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9


"Hrm… the trigger words could work, but might be dangerous- is there not a way to 'feel' for it? Or, 'see' it? I am not sure hwo this sort of thing works, but it is like with hidden stashes- I have hidden things after attempts before, so I can sometimes spot when someone else has done the same."


Roger and Tabasco have some minor injuries, and are winded from the sprint, but it doesn't appear to be anything serious. Their eyes blaze with determination from how close they are to their victory.

In this chamber, you see another healing pool before you, like the one you encountered at the resting spot before. This one is out in the open, giving it a more ceremonial than private atmosphere. A bench is there for resting, and a small pit for making a fire to aid with drying off.

Beyond it, there is a vast and circular pit, great in diameter and depth. Along the outer edge, a staircase spirals into the darkness, illuminated only by periodic light crystals embedded into the walls.

Obstinance's wealth of knowledge alerts you to something strange. Demons have many methods for overwriting one's mind. Possession, corruption, seduction, mind erasing, mind breaking… all of which, they prefer to do through brutal methods, direct assaults on the mind through the power of Magatsuhi, against which most mortals are helpless. As demons, both the Yellow Jester and the Crimson King should have access to that. Hypnotic suggestion, a far more subtle and less powerful tactic, is a method used by con artists and quack doctors, not by demons. Yet, the Crimson King either opted to do that himself, or have someone do it for him.

"You'd want to avoid saying the trigger phrase until you're sure you want to activate the victim of hypnosis," Juniper says. "So it's usually some kind of nonsense word, or a long and complicated string of words that people aren't usually likely to say out of nowhere. Of course, the longer it is, the harder it is for those words to take effect, so it can't be too long… and you'd want to be able to get it out quick in an emergency, so it has to be easy enough to remember."
"You're quite knowledgeable," Splendid comments.
"I know it looks bad for me to drop all this information," Juniper protests. "But, I honestly did know it from before all this! And if I really was a spy, why would I lead you along!?"

"Uh, right, we need a mole exterminator," Miss Sunshine says. "Wonder if Brand can get on that…"
After you turn back to Ossie, she grumbles. "I hadn't thought that a crew of pirates would pass up on the greatest hoard of treasure ever spoken of in legend, especially when we've got ourselves an adversary who specializes in using gold for limitless ends. I wanted to get to it for myself."


"Hey, another one of these. Alright guys, another bath and snack break before we get back to it," she says and proceeds to take a nice bath again, focusing on the spots she got shot at and helping the other two in to get their injuries treated as well. Then a nice rest by the fire (likely provided by Tabasco) and what little bit of snacks they have left from when they started from the camp.



"There will be plenty of gold to grab. More than we will be able to grab," Cutlass assures Ossie.

"But, the Heart of Gold? No true pirate in their right mind would EVER want such a ridiculous thing. Put aside the fact that it ruins all future adventure, and you still have an object that will make you the target of every greedy person and organization in the world. So long as you hold such a ridiculous item, you will never know freedom. And, that's what any true pirate should truly be striving for."

"If you think the Crimson King wins by gaining such a target on his back, you aren't thinking long term enough. I acknowledge that he'll likely do a lot of damage with it in the mean time. But, he'll still be beatable. Aura guarantees that. Infinite potential means infinite ways to lose."


You get you and your pets all nice and cleaned up, the rejuvenating magical waters of the healing spring helping to clean and close your wounds. Then, drying by the fire, you finish off the rest of the snacks you had brought with you, with Tabasco and Roger play-fighting over the last few scraps, in order to unwind from the stress of the trials thus far.


Cloud thinks back to when Maella was telling him and Chiu about Magatsuhi, noting down mentally that finding a way to see that would be goo to spot if anypony is influenced by demons. The Crimson King though spoke of doing things the hard way, which might make the hypnotic suggestion more likely, which means it'd be easier to break.
Cloud mutters aloud as he thinks deeply.


"I…" Ossie grumbles, before falling silent. "…Very well," she snorts after a while.

"Any inspiration?" Juniper says. She has now switched to sit-ups over pushups.


Alder mulls over whether or not he should point out that a spy might, but decides against it- she doesn't need that right now. "So, something that's not easy to say, but not so difficult that you couldn't say it."




"I know," Amy chuckles slightly. "I want infinite wealth too. It's just… too costly. As ironic as that sounds."

"Are we good?" she asks, sounding much more vulnerable. She blushes slightly.


Cerulean takes a deep breath, watching over the two with a bit of a laugh as she watches them play together.

After a little while of resting, Cerulean will get up and put her armor back on and gets set to go.
"Alright, I think we're making good progress, so let's keep it going." Fired up and ready to go, Cerulean and company descend down the staircase and into more of the unknown.


"Something that's unlikely to come up in conversation, as well," Splendid says. "An outlandish accusation, an unthinkable request, a bizarre compliment… doesn't help when the possibilities still feel endless, does it?"
Juniper falls silent as she mulls it over. "…Think we'd be lucky enough that they might have it written down somewhere?"
"Doesn't strike me as unthinkable, no," Splendid says.



*Cutlass chuckles

It's been a long day!


>Perception, Electroception if applicable

Roll #1 3 = 3


"Even if we don't see eye to eye, you are still the Captain, and your rule is absolute," Ossie responds flatly. "I'll go with your orders."

Tabasco and Roger stick close as you descend the spiral staircase. Deeper and deeper it winds into the earth, with the eerie green light-crystals in the walls seeming to provide less and less light with each step. Just when it seems that the stairs may be utterly interminable, at last your hooves settle down onto the entryway of a brief corridor.

Lying beyond that corridor, is a vast, and seemingly empty stone chamber, utterly pitch-black and devoid of anything of note that you can see or hear, other than the echo of your own steps.


Cerulean eyes the chamber warily, then looks to Tabasco.
"Hey, think you can try and light things up a bit," she asks before proceeding into the chamber and awaiting what will happen next.



"Well, I'm happy to hear that, and I should hope that's the case. But, that's not what I…" Cutlass trails off. She blushes more.

"You know what? Nevermind…"

Cutlass heads back to where the others are.


"Perhaps something like a compliment? Just a very strange, out-of-place remark. And, well… I'm sure it is written down somewhere. Is there somewhere you might place it, Juniper?"


Tabasco extends the glow of his flame-body, but even his expanded light does little to illuminate the vast and endless darkness all about you… at least for a while. Without warning, Tabasco tenses, staring dead ahead, as at last a presence breaks the emptiness.

It's a small Watchkeeper spider, just barely visible at the end of the radius of light. It's about the size of a clam shell. It does nothing, despite Tabasco's suspicions.

"In either Kukulcan's quarters, or in possession of the King–" she gasps, then lowers her voice. "The book he had earlier! You think it might be in there?"


Cerulean looks at the little spider and tilts her head at it curiously.
"Huh…that's odd," she takes a few steps forward towards it, "it kinda reminds me of the one back at that one village keeping watch over those monkeys."


The spider turns about, and takes a few steps away as you approach it. However, it lingers just at the edge of Tabasco's light. The fur on the back of his haunches rises with worry.



"What in the world are you two talking about?" she raises a curious eyebrow.


Cerulean notices Tabasco's odd behavior, and notes how the spider keeps back away from them. A thought crosses her mind.
"Hey…think you could send a fireball or two up at the ceiling?"


"Oh! Goodness, it might be- it'll be difficult to say for sure where to look inside it, but… I remember where I hid it. We could go look, yes?"


"Maybe. It would be hard to steal something off of him though, wouldn't it?" he asks, frowning a bit.


"The Crimson King mentioned using hypnotic suggestion on Cycle and Juniper to make them forget they'd been bought off the black market," Splendid says. "Makes me wonder if he used a similar trick on any of our allies what are still in the Thunder Serpent's infirmary. So, we've been discussing how to tease out if they've been hypnotized and what to do about it."

"If everything else fails, we could just buy it off him," Juniper says.
"Erm, let's save that for a last resort," Splendid says. "But it would be a difficult task… didn't he say he was Kukulcan's subordinate on this expedition? Can't we try getting him to order the King to hand it over?"
"Maybe we could finesse it some other way…" Juniper says. "Have you guys found anything on this trip that might be of assistance?"

Tabasco obliges, quickly firing off two fireballs in wide arcs across the ceiling. The first one fizzles out at the end of its arc, illuminating nothing of note. But the other…

As vast as the fireball's light is, it hardly illuminates more than a fraction of the great beast. Obsidian armor as vast and glimmering with light as the night sky; brass metalwork that could fill a factory; and with it, a twisting network of strange pipes, darkened cloth, strange dials, and the cold and damp glimmer of seawater, clinging onto everything about it.

There's something up there.


Cerulean looks at the spider and backs away now from it, looking more cautious about being around it now. She looks up to the ceiling.
"Hey! We know you're up there! So how about turning on the lights or something?!"



Roll #1 1 = 1



"I think it would be a lot easier, and more practical long-term, to come up with a way to remove hypnotic effects," Cutlass comments after a moment of thought.


"Oh, I was just thinking it's a bit odd that if they are using hypnosis, why that and not any of the stronger stuff that'd be more permanent."


>Roll to remember anything that might help us finesse it off of him! [1d10]
"I am somewhat talented at thievery, so if it came down to it I might be able to. Though, he is rather aware of all of us, I think- my normal act of feigning innocence might not work."

Roll #1 2 = 2


"Maybe it's just too hard to do? Or, it's too noticeable. If it is just a hypnotic effect, they can be in control most of the time, and those around them are none the wiser."


The only thing that comes to mind is that puzzle box you found during the brief dive into the sunken pirate ship that you found before the cave that took you all the way down to where Cuauhtemoc now lies. You never finished it, but something clearly designed to teach a thief would assuredly hold a gift for the most talented thieves…

"Oh, that's…" Splendid says. "That's a good question. Not like he has any special feelings towards us. Or does he?"
"Maybe he just wasn't good at any of the stronger kinds?" Juniper says. "I wager that hypnosis is pretty delicate business. Press too hard and you could break somethin you don't wanna break."

"You're going to need a lot more crewmates with aura potential at this rate," Ossie grumbles. "And a tolerance for having abilities chosen for them."
Splendid winces, sensing Ossie's sudden new wave of frustrations, seemingly against you.

It obliges, if not your request, then the spirit of your challenge. The chamber shudders as an incredible weight detaches from the ceiling, and comes crashing down atop you. Your body screams out with pain as an unbearable weight lands from above, cold and damp metal shoving you into a deep new crater in the earth. Seven more shudders ring out as each of the monster's legs land in sequence.

>Cerulean 0/6

Imprisoned beneath its giant leg, all you can see is a sliver of Tabasco's light as he desperately starts trying to dig you out, from beneath the hold of…




"That is true, but since when are demons subtle?"


"Well, we did not notice him until he revealed himself, did we?" he says, before humming.


After Juniper finishes her situps, she looks around and grumbles. "Some chin-ups would really round this out…" she says, but finds no suitable place for them.

Splendid, being nearly twice her height, extends her arm out as an offering. "Ah, perfect," Juniper says, and resumes her workout. At her tiny size, she does not so much as make Splendid's arm dip.


Alder blinks a little bit and watches, before letting out a soft giggle. "Well, it is very good of you to offer something like that, Splendid." He says, fluttering up and pecking at her beak.


"How's it feel knowing I've got just as many ladies hanging off my arms as you do?" Splendid asks smugly.

"Seventeen… eighteen…" Juniper grunts. You swear you hard her skip a few here or there.


Alder puffs his cheeks out a little bit, before ruffling Splendid's head plumage a little bit and saying "Well, if I only get to have one, I think I found the best one."


Last time, on PirateQuest…

Cutlass, Alder and Cloud talked with Juniper and Splendid about the present situation. Splendid was wary that those allies who had been left in Kukulcan's infirmary overnight – namely, Prisma, Paraiba and their mook companions – had also been subject to the King's hypnotic suggestions. Thus they came to the topic of code phrases, or triggers: sequences of words that would activate or deactivate a hypnotized person's programming. Juniper saw the King writing in a small red book earlier, and suggested that the notes contained therein might have the key for setting her, Cycle and possibly their allies free.

In the Skull Temple, Cerulean cleared the sniper's runway, despite the handicap of having three different bodies that the shooters could target. After being afforded a final chance to rest and heal her injuries, she descended a deep stairway that spiraled all the way down to B6F. All that awaited her there seemed to be a vast and empty pitch-black chamber, but soon she came across a tiny Watchkeeper spider. It led her further and further in, until she was within the grasp of the room's master…


The only thing that comes to mind is that puzzle box you found during the brief dive into the sunken pirate ship that you found before the cave that took you all the way down to where Cuauhtemoc now lies. You never finished it, but something clearly designed to teach a thief would assuredly hold a gift for the most talented thieves…


"Oh, that's…" Splendid says. "That's a good question. Not like he has any special feelings towards us. Or does he?"
"Maybe he just wasn't good at any of the stronger kinds?" Juniper says. "I wager that hypnosis is pretty delicate business. Press too hard and you could break somethin you don't wanna break."


"You're going to need a lot more crewmates with aura potential at this rate," Ossie grumbles. "And a tolerance for having abilities chosen for them."
Splendid winces, sensing Ossie's sudden new wave of frustrations, seemingly against you.


It obliges, if not your request, then the spirit of your challenge. The chamber shudders as an incredible weight detaches from the ceiling, and comes crashing down atop you. Your body screams out with pain as an unbearable weight lands from above, cold and damp metal shoving you into a deep new crater in the earth. Seven more shudders ring out as each of the monster's legs land in sequence.

>Cerulean 0/6

Imprisoned beneath its giant leg, all you can see is a sliver of Tabasco's light as he desperately starts trying to dig you out, from beneath the hold of…



"He mentioned Cerulean, but I don't think he really has any care to all of us."
Cloud says in thought.
"I don't think any other kind is out of grasp for him, and breaking somepony sounds like something demons would enjoy too."



"He must have some more important reason for using hypnosis specifically, then," Splendid. "I'd say it's to keep a secret, but he seemed to throw it out there without any coaxing on our part. He didn't have to mention hypnosis by name, but here we are."


"Hrm… oh! Perhaps I should finish that puzzle box- I never did open that. It might have something of note within it."


Cerulean growls as she tries to wriggle her way out from underneath the giant leg.
"That was…a cheap shot!"


Roll #1 6 = 6


"It did seem like it was designed for a thief's edification," Splendid says. "We'd better get back to the ship now that it's cooling down for the evening."



"Okay, ouch," Cutlass responds to Ossie. "I guess I deserved that… But, to be fair, that's not what I meant in this case."

"I mean, if one of them want to do it, whatever. But, hypnotism has been a thing since before Aura. There must be techniques or items to undo it."

"No that I'm going to out of my way to solve this problem. I'm barely invested in this as it is. Juniper's kiiiinda been a bitch to me this whole time. And, she doesn't really keep very good company either. Seems like karma."


With Tabasco's aid, you wrench yourself out from the crater. As you do, the gigantic spider leaps back into the darkness. You don't hear any great thud of impact or other signs that it's landed, completely obfsucating any signs of where it might be right now.

Tabasco concentrates, attempting to expand his flames, and thus the light available to you.


"I whaaaat!?" Juniper scoffs. "Like, when? I helped with your plan, didn't I? And I drank with you too! If I was ever mean to you then I'm blaming the demon possessing me!"
"Maybe you should keep this demon around," Splendid jokes. "You could use her as an excuse whenever you need one."
"Now's not the time…" Juniper grumbles.

Ossie ignores the outbursts, staying on topic. "We should take Splendid's suggestion and make for our ships. If hypnosis is on the table here, we better not stick around. Prisma, Paraiba and the others may have been a captive audience, but if they can perform hypnosis with any degree of reliability, we better not risk even letting them have the chance to attempt it."

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11


"Mhmm! Perfect timing, too- I got through part of it. I am sure that I can get through more of it if I focus harder."

"I do not know, I would say regardless of attitude, no one deserves this. But, back to the ship."



"We'll never make it back before dark. Plus, we'll have to travel ALL the way back here the next day. Which will leave us tired and give us less time to accomplish the next day's tasks."

"Besides, from what it sounds like, the trek to get the control rod will be a multi-day affair. What are we going to do then? If we are going to rely on ourselves to defend ourselves from potential hypnotism then, why not now?"


"Maybe he's just trying to make us paranoid and nothing really happened at all."
Cloud says, trying to think around the subject.


"You can just ignore her, she's always like that."
Cloud says to Juniper as Cutlass calls her bitchy.

"What about Paraiba and the others though? Can we carry them back right now?"



"There's that concern as well," Cutlass nods in agreement.


Ossie frowns as the majority put together a good case for remaining behind. "Fine, but we'd better make lodging separate from the rest of the Thunder Serpent's crew, and maintain a guard all hours of the night."
Splendid turns to Alder and Cutlass. "Cutlass, you going to call over any of your crew in the morning? We can have them pick up Alder's puzzle box and bring it over with them on the way."
"I'm still part of Kukulcan's crew," Juniper says. "Regardless of all this hypnosis nonsense that guy was blabbering about earlier. So I can appropriate a few tents and cots for the night."


Cerulean tries to focus her own senses, specifically of the electrical kind, as she tries to go back to her hunts in deep, dark waters.
"Gotcha!" She says and runs to where she's picking up the electricity from, charging up her tail for a flood-inducing slam.

>Cerulean is able to breathe underwater and can detect movement of things via their electrical impulses, allowing her to see/target stealthed/hiding enemies.

>DC -1, crit 8+, take better, Tide Pool

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



"That's… incredibly generous of you," Cutlass says to Juniper. "I'm… sorry about that bitchy comment earlier."

"And, I hope someone here can attest to how difficult it is for me to admit when I'm wrong."

"I'll call over whichever two of my crew want to come along tomorrow," Cutlass says to Splendid. I'll tell them to meet us at the temple to save time. And, I'll tell them to bring the puzzle box."

"We should get the others from the Beesting over here too. As for watching out, Ossie and I can take first watch. I'm still barely tired, having just slept for however long I was out. I'm still waiting for a call on my conch anyway."


You focus, and begin to see an outline high above and far ahead of you, hanging from the ceiling, the circulating of a massive spider's internal electrical currents. Though the currents don't quite show its total shape, you can see that it is far different in structure from the Watchkeepers. While the Watchkeepers were normally orderly, blocky, and with designs that made practical sense, despite the exposure of some joints, this… this thing is a confusing mass whose shape only bears passing resemblance to a spider's. You can sense also a deep chill coming from it. Not the malevolent burning of a demon's soul, but something else altogether.

You run, leaping up along the side of a pillar to reach where the spider hangs from, but it reaches over and swats you out of the air toward the ground.

>Cerulean 12/6

As you fall, the Giant Spider opens its maw, and a putrid deep blue ink spews forth from within, spraying over in your direction in a wide arc.


Meanwhile, Tabasco keeps increasing the light of his flames.


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


"Acquiring a few tents would be very nice of you, Miss Juniper." the griffon says, bowing a little.

"Ah! If you are sure- will Ossie be alright, as well? I could take watch, if needbe."



"I don't know if Ossie COULD rest soundly while I'm unsafe," Cutlass says, looking to her. "But, if you're not up for it, Alder and I could keep watch together."


"I can help with the guard. Nopony will be able to sneak up on me at night."
Cloud says proudly over his battributes.



Cerulean rubs her jaw a bit as she gets up from being swatted.
"Okay, that was a better hit," she remarks as she tries to show off her maw. Or at least, show it biting down on one of its legs.

>Great weapon attack


Roll #1 6 = 6


You're a bitch and you stink," Juniper deadpans.
"I should kill you for that remark," Ossie says.
"Are you?"
Ossie suddenly becomes intensely interested in a fish swimming about in the lake. "Sorry, what were we talking about?"

"What a bad pun," Juniper says.
"What pun?" Ossie asks.
"Wha…?" Splendid says. "Whoever said that?"
"Uh… I dunno," Juniper says, suddenly getting shifty eyes. "Guess it just occurred to me as a pun someone might make."
"It is a pretty bat pun," Ossie says.
With a frustrated screech, Juniper leaves to go collect the tents as she suggested.

>Timeskip to nighttime available; roll perception for night watches

You dodge and weave around the river of pitch that spews from the monster's mouth. As it lands, it does not spread out, as one might expect from even a dense liquid. Rather, it lays where it is. It neither bubbles nor boils, but simply seems to sit there. The only notable effect is that it grows miserably cold around where it landed.

You clamp onto one of its legs, but this hardly slows the behemoth, as its foot has a breadth long as nearly twice that of your own body. It waves its limb about to shake you off, but you remain upon it quite solidly. It changes its tactics then, raising you to its mouth to crunch you in its vast mandibles.


As the behemoth opens its mouth, Tabasco fires off a string of fireballs in its direction.


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


As Cerulean is dropped to its mandibles, Cerulean opts to slam her tail into its mouth to try and break its mouth if she can.

>DC -1, crit 8+, take better, Tide Pool


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


"I'll take whichever shift you don't want, Captain," Ossie says, having apparently given her frustrations a necessary venting through her crass comments.


"Ah- that is very sweet of her. But, I will be fine taking her spot." the griffon remarks.

Alder blinks a couple of times at the exchange, managing a little bit of a snicker before settling in to rest- until it's time to sleep, the griffon will play a little bit of music on a flute he'd had tucked away in his saddlebags.



Cutlass watches the exchange between Ossie and Juniper with growing suspicion. "Ossie…" Cutlass asks slowly. "What IS your full name?"

>timeskip after answer

>don't forget I'm expecting that conch call still, please


"Very well, then. I suppose WE will take the first watch."


Cloud snickers at the pun talk.
"Hey that's a good one. I should use that on Chiu."

As they set up their own little separate campsite, Cloud sits outside the tents as he sits watch to make sure nothing shady happens. After all his dealings with Stone Cold Classic, he doesn't feel comfortable enough to sleep with the Crimson King nearby anyways.
>Night Watch [1d10]
>Echolocation: passive; Bat ponies can use the sound reflected off of objects to “see” their surroundings. Your ability to see is unaffected by darkness. While in low-light conditions, enemies without means of seeing in the dark (e.g. Light sources, Hawkeye, Phase Aura, Fourth Eye, Hornlight and similar effects) have DC+1 to all rolls against you, you receive a +1 bonus to all rolls against them, and you are counted as stealthed to them (But you don’t gain the Autocrit bonus of Stealth).

Roll #1 6 = 6



[1d10] perception

Roll #1 4 = 4


>Night watch! [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4


"Ossicone Bolts," Ossie says. "Why do you ask?"


The Sun Serpent descends over the horizon while Juniper and a collection of Thunder Serpent mooks come back with tents and cots for you to use as you wait at the edge of the camp. As the Moon Serpent rises, followed by an underwater night sky, Sir Kukulcan comes out from his ship, and with Two Reeds sets up a godray crystal of their own near the Dreamer's Moon. It fills the area with its stored sunlight, chasing away much semblance of the night in the immediate area. The combination of the night sky with the day's brightness down by the lakeside makes for a surreal, but beautiful backdrop.

Juniper, along with the rest of Kukulcan's crew, goes back to her own ship, so as not to raise suspicion.

During the first watch, when Ossie and Splendid are asleep, Alder and Cutlass are sitting together near the shore of the lake, when her conch begins to ring.

Meanwhile, Cloud, sitting some distance away, notes a rustling in the nearby bushes. Before he can react, Bee Holder sticks her head out of the bush, holding back a yawn.

The spider's mandibles mangle and chew you like a bit of shrimp as you're dropped into the maw, and you barely manage to cling to the edges of its mouth to keep yourself from being sucked all the way in. You feel its horrid tongue trying to wrap about you and yank you into its gullet, and wherever it touches, you can feel a deep numbness and frigid cold taking hold of your body.

With a swelling of strength, you manage to wrench yourself free, knocking loose a great portion of its mouth through which you escape, falling to the ground near Tabasco's light. In the light, you can see that much of your tail and left hind leg are covered in pitch – you can barely move them, too.

>Cerulean 7/6, max Hits reduced to 7

Tabasco's fireballs fly right past the spider, apparently missing it, but you see they hit their mark after all: A flame lights at the top of the room, beginning to immolate all over a network of webbing that covers the ceiling and the pillars all about the vast chamber.

The spider scrambles deeper into the shadows, concealing its physical body evermore. It spews pools of pitch at you from afar.


Roll #1 3 + 3 = 6



"Finally," Cutlass says as She answers. "Did everyone make it back okay?"


Alder looks over to Cutlass's conch, waiting to see what comes from it.


At first, there is silence over the line, then the sounds of a conch passing hooves. "Sorry," Miss Sunshine says. "Make Believe had the conch just now… still not able to say any words, poor kid. Uh, anyway. The group's all back and resting. Some minor injuries, but nothing noteworthy. The crystal's set up, and the giant you all brought back is still immobile and inert. Oh, and Splendid passed along that discussion about hypnosis you guys had earlier. We've quarantined Make Believe, Sparkler and Colobok until Mallea can give them the all clear for any magical influence. Now, if the hypnosis was done by more mundane means, there's still a risk of lingering, and in fact, undetectable effects."


"Oh no! Get back here, coward!" Cerulean runs after the spider, moving about a lot faster now that the area is wetter and in her favor more…or it would seem as she seems to have trouble moving the hind legs, but seems like its equaling out fairly nicely. Either way, she runs after the spider and tracks it via its electricity to run up and chain it up with her aura chains and force it to 1 v. 1 her.

>Hákarl: Recharge 3 when effect ends. Cerulean locks a target into a duel with her with her aura for three turns. If the opponent attacks anyone other than Cerulean, she can make a free Instant attack against them. Crits 9+


Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3


Cloud's ears perk as he hears the rustling, but thankfully Bee Holder reveals herself before Cloud can panic or jump. He turns, and scoots a little closer.
("Oh, hey. Didn't think you'd be all out here too.")
Cloud whispers, surprised to see the captain out on watch.


"You thought we'd just stay on the ship like boring little homebodies when we're at an underwater island?" Bee Holder scoffs. "We've been keeping busy; one half of my group has been mapping Cuauhtemoc, and we're nearly done getting its perimeter, but the southern end of the island has proved all but totally inhospitable to visitors. As for the other half, well, Bent Scales already let you know that we've been spying on the Thunder Serpent, with you as bait."

She hands you Alder's puzzle box. "I heard from Splendid that Alder had need of this?"


("I'm bait?")
Cloud questions, before taking the puzzle box.
("Oh, yea, they were mentioning that earlier. You're pretty quick.")

Cloud's eye shifts back and forth, just to double check they're alone.
("So I don't know what you know from your spy group, but the others are thinking the crewmates Kukulcan saved might've been hypnotized. And also the Crimson King is here in disguise.")


"Mmm. For now, that is the most we can do, I think. We are trying to figure things out on our end."


With the flame at the top of the arena lighting the way somewhat, you hook your chain onto one of the horizontal web-strands, and use it to swing and climb yourself up to the top of the webbing, where the spider lurks in the darkness. As you look about for your target, a bolt of pitch flies out at you from the dark, smearing over more of your hind legs, further stiffening and numbing you at the hips.

Out of the darkness, you see the creature's outline spark with a stream of sudden electricity – and it heads right for you. From the spider's mouth comes a bolt of lightning, stunning and shocking you, turning the water you've spewed to its advantage.

>Cerulean 3/6, Max Hits reduced to 6

An odd ability for a spider to have, you realize. This is only corroborated further when a strong wind begins to brew about the arena, stirred up by deep pulses of wind coming from the spider's mouth! The web you stand upon begins to sway, threatening to toss you to the ground.

>roll to hang on, DC 7

Tabasco continues to spew fire above to burn the web and light the arena.


Roger swims away, out of the chamber.

"Had someone back aboard the ship meet Kling-Klang halfway," Bee Holder explains.

Bee Holder clicks her tongue. "Just what I warned Thessaly about. Damn it all to the deepest trench… alright. We're getting them out tomorrow. It'll be just what Kukulcan wants, if it's him who hypnotized them. Not expecting much resistance there. But the King? Didn't think he'd make it down here after we thwarted him from finessing that vase. What's his business here?"

Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3


Rather than hang on, Cerulean swings herself and tries to use her tail to block the wind, and hopefully have enough momentum left to slam her tail into its face again.

>Slam, crit 8+, DC-1


Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10 / Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7



Cutlass doesn't say anything for a moment.

Maybe it's just the paranoia after a long day of deception. But, this doesn't feel right.

"How did Splendid contact you?" Cutlass asks, trying to sound more confused than suspicious.

"Do you remember what I asked you for last time I called?"


Alder blinks a couple of times, and tilts his head to the side to wait.


"Over the conch," Miss Sunshine says. "And Schnitzel's… well, I'm just up the hall from his quarters, but he's hardly lucid right now. He's either still blackout drunk or hung over. Either way, he won't come out. Need me to coerce him with my Ability? …Huh…? Yes– yes I'll tell her. Make Believe says he can get Schnitzel to wake up if you want him to. Basically, pick whichever Ability you think might get a more coherent answer."

You leap, and pull a somersault in the air, cutting through the gust of air, the second of the spider's strange powers. You spin until your frigid tail makes impact with the spider's face. But… nothing happens. There's no great impact, no cracks, no damage. Enough of Tabasco's flame is visible that you can see some of the obsidian face before you: Indeed, your tail had no effect. Instead, you take swings with your forehooves, scoring two powerful direct hits. Those ones, you know for sure dealt some damage.

But before you can puzzle out what's going on, the webbing begins to warble even worse. Tabasco's latest volleys were a little too successful, and he hit the spider's web at its center, just over the midpoint of the chamber. The flame loosens the web on which the spider (and you by virtue of being on the spider) stands upon. With a great series of snaps, the web collapses, and you and the spider begin falling to the bottom.

>roll to break landing, DC 9, or make some other appropriate method of avoiding the fall, DC varies by skill used

As the spider falls, it spews something green and goop-like at you, not its usual stream of pitch.


[1d10+3] spider roll

Roll #1 10 + 3 = 13


"Is, hrm… is that normal for him?" the griffon asks, somewhat concerned."


"Not before… well, not before the events in the manor," Miss Sunshine says, her tone dropping into worry. "I said earlier that the crew 'decided' to get drunk, but the real story is that it was more of Schnitzel's leadership there. Even before tonight, he seemed to be the one leading the charge to crack open the grog barrels the last few days."



Cutlass furrows her brow in a sort of confused concern. Then, she sighs. "Forget it. I need to talk to you tomorrow morning anyway. I'll call then. For now, everyone get a good night's rest. But, make sure there are extra crew members on guard tonight. And, tell them to be extra alert. If they see anything suspicious from anyone, from our own crew, from the Beestings, or from anything else, tell them to sound the alarm. Good night and get some rest."

With that, Cutlass hangs up.

She looks to Alder and sighs. "This is getting really annoying. I enjoy a good amount of subterfuge and deceit. But, this has passed the point of being unfun. I just need SOMEONE I can trust…"


("He wanted to get in some door or gate thing that has treasure inside it. The others know more about it but Cutlass made it sound like the Heart of Gold is down here and she's gonna give it over to him without a fight if it is. The only weird thing is is that the Crimson King mentioned Cerulean talked him into doing things the hard way, so he's posing as a crewmate of Kukulcan, like he's starting fresh.")


"I hope Captain Cutlass's strange schemes and dealings don't give you any ideas, young bat," Bee Holder says. "I'm going after the Heart of Gold regardless, and I'll make sure each pirate fool enough to help me gets a captain's share of the treasure himself."

She looks about, then starts to head back into the brush. "I've no other orders for you for now – as you were, and try not to make any more deals with devils will you?"

With that, Bee Holder slinks away.


Cerulean notices the fall and tries to break her landing by using the terrain to her advantage as well as using her aura chains on the spider to do a swing to lessen the impact.

>Hakarl for swing

>Earthly Affinity for terrain bonus of water

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6


Alder folds his ears back a little, before sighing. "No one amongst your whole crew? Not even Ossie?"


("Not at all. I don't have any intention to let him even get close to the Heart of Gold.")

As she backs of, Cloud nods.
("I already learned my lesson plenty.")

After Bee Holder slinks back off, Cloud gets up and joins Alder and Cutlass by the shore. He holds out Alder's puzzle box to him.
"Hey, got a package for ya."


"Oh! Well, thank you. Let me see if I cannot make some progress…"

>Master Thief [1d10+2] (DC-2, +1 from TBP)

Roll #1 2 + 2 = 4


"Yes mom– tain. C-captain, captain, I said capt–"

After some stuttering and stammering, you hear Miss Sunshine toss the conch back to Make Believe. You can only guess what's going through his head at all this.

You manage to break your fall by swinging to the ground, using the giant spider as something of a counter-balance to aid your swing. But despite that, your landing is hard, and the shock of impact renders you immobile for a moment – just enough time to let the spider encase you in a stream of green glop, which rapidly hardens from exposure to the air. Before you know it, you're encased in an entire chrysalis, basically immobile except for some minimal struggling you can manage within the hard gel.

>Cerulean 0/5

Tabasco barks with alarm and dives sideways as the spider rights itself, and jumps upon the chrysalis. You begin to wax cold, and tired, as the gel starts to hum, filling your head with dizzying sensations, making you feel like a puddle bestirred by the stampeding of animals.

>roll endurance to avoid what the spider's doing right now.

Splendid rolls over and hugs onto Ossie, both remaining asleep.


You manage to press one layer deeper into the matroyoshka-style lockbox. However, as the next set of locks rises up, you note that the lock structure is starting to get more complicated. No solutions immediately jump out at you; you're just going to have to see what sticks to the wall with this one.


"Hrm… certainly a confusing lockbox. I have no idea if I am any closer to the center than I was before."

>Master Thief: [1d10+2] (DC-2, +1 from TBP)

"At least they seem comfortable."

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7



Cutlass wasn't sure that hanging up on Miss Sunshine would be the right call. But, as she hears Miss Sunshine accidentally call her mom and then the ensuing embarrassment, she knew she made the right choice.

The 16 year old takes a moment to recover from being called "mom" by someone who is probably older than her. What did that say about her? It certainly didn't feel like a good thing. But, that could partially be because her own mother was such a failure of a role model. She didn't know what it meant to be 'motherly'. There was her grandmother. But… something told me that sort of mental abuse wasn't exactly how your typical mother should act. And, more importantly, she did NOT enjoy the idea of being anyone's mother.

Her face turned red for a moment before she shook her head and pushed all those thoughts down.


"Ossie is acting weird now too," Cutlass sighs. "But, that could just be that she's kind of mad at me right now… I'm not a great friend." Then, she looks over at Ossie and Splendid together.

"And, I'm suspicious of Splendid as well. Miss Sunshine just told me that Splendid gave her information about the whole hypnosis thing, but I'm not even sure that how or when Splendid could have done that. I think someone might be stealing her identity or something. And the fact that the two of them are suddenly getting along is… disconcerting. This is all so weird and annoying."

She looks back to Alder. "I don't even know why I'm telling you any of this. I guess, for some reason, I feel like I can still trust you… Even though you and I are two of the most likely to have been targeted. ESPECIALLY if Splendid has already been targeted. She was taking care of us."


Cerulean grits her teeth as she tries to power through whatever it is currently trying to do as well as break free.


>Tough if the flavor text applies

>Helpless recovery if that is allowed at DC 4 due to Earthly affinity


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


"Well… that is fair. We might need to look into it more, however we can manage that. And… she definitely has some sort of secret, though I am not sure what it is. For what it is worth, I will try to look into it as best I can from my end… and, thank you for trusting me. I… do not feel any different lately, at least."


"So what do you think is in that thing anyways?"
Cloud asks, taking a seat by the group.



"I don't either. But, I DO still have a lot of alcohol in me that could account for me not being able to tell," she laughs.

She looks back at Splendid again, contemplating something. "What… kind of relationship do you two have?" she asks as if she's meticulously choosing each word.


"Hard to say, really- there might be something that can help us, so… it's worth trying, yes? It would certainly be a shame if there was nothing inside…"

Alder cocks his head to the side, and says "Dating, I believe the word is. Why do you ask?"


Despite all the rattling that assails your mind from whatever it is that the spider's attempting with the goo, you manage to retain some semblance of focus and clarity of mind. You feel its forces pulling at your mind and body, as if you were being yanked in all directions at once. But though you manage to keep hold of your mind, your body is not so fortunate, being drained like a juicy haul of fish.

>Cerulean 0/4, max wounds reduced to 6

Before the spider can come again with another attack, you hear Tabasco barking at the doorway you entered the chamber through. Soon, more barking follows it in kind, and a stampeding of paws. The hounds that you recruited earlier flood into the chamber, led by Roger. The spider turns its attention to them, spewing a wave of gunk to slow their tracks. Meanwhile, the dogs leap toward it, claws and teeth bared to stop its assault. Meanwhile, Tabasco runs to your side, trying to burn away the chrysalis.

[1d10+3] Spider

[5d10+1] Hounds

[1d10+2] Tabasco

Through a combination of luck and wit, the key tools of any thief, just barely does Alder manage to ply the lock loose, pulling it up to its final layer. The last lock rises for him to challenge it, but this time, there is no hole nor tumblers for him to fiddle with. What presents itself now is some kind of sliding tile puzzle, a simple one, yet one that defies an easy bypass.

Roll #1 2 + 3 = 5 / Roll #2 3, 1, 2, 5, 3 + 1 = 15 / Roll #3 1 + 2 = 3


Cerulean sees the sight of the hounds arrive, only motivating her more to try and get her body freed from this goo to help out and get into the fight again.
"C'mon…! Let me go!"

>DC 4


Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7



"I'm just… thinking," Cutlass sighs in response to Alder. "You make it seem so easy."


"Hrm… a, ah. A tile puzzle." the griffon remarks, giving it a curious look-see. He furrows his brow and tries to focus on it as best he can.
>Master Thief: [1d10+3] (DC-2)

Alder flicks an ear towards Cutlass, still focused on the puzzle for the most part. "Make… what?"

Roll #1 6 + 3 = 9


You make a neat shape… but still, it remains closed. However, all may not be lost. Call it intuition, but you've got a good feeling about the way some of these tiles are placed. Perhaps only a few more need to be rearranged…

>DC reduced by a mysterious amount


"Being locked up that tight, there should be something good in there."

While it's hard to tell how late it is with the sun crystal aboard the Thunder Serpent shining over the lake, it's been long enough since the 'sun' set that Cloud feels confident that most will be asleep by now. He turns to Alder and Cutlass.
("Guys, I got something I need to tell you two. I would've waited for Cerulean to get back but this seems like we should plan for it sooner than later")
He whispers to them both, gesturing for them to get in closer.



"I don't know… being friendly, I guess? Making people like you. Making friends. Making… more than friends?"



Cutlass eyes Cloud suspiciously. "Go on…" she whispers.


"I would hope so- I seem to have made significant progress. There is… hrm. I think I am very close, but I cannot say for sure." he says, looking up and nodding in recognition of what Cloud whispered.
>Master Thief: [1d10+1] (DC-2)

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5


Hmm… no that's just a smiley face.

Though the hounds fall and fall upon the gigantic spider, it manages to bat away almost each and everyone one of them, knocking one even into Tabasco, who rolls across the arena with a pained yelp. But his small spark is enough to loosen the goo to the point where you're able to wriggle an arm loose, and punch your way through the rest, allowing you to slump to the ground, free and able to fight.

>Cerulean 6/4

>Paused, post for next time / continue conversations


Cerulean gets a moment to catch her breath, just long enough to watch the fighting going on around her.
"Dang…you guys are a great sight to see," she says to the dogs, then watches them get swatted around. This only spurs her on as she charges at the spider and, seeing as how her tail doesn't seem to be working, she gives a loud yell and opts to slam her head into the spider as hard as she can.

>Slam, normal DC, crit 8+, extra +1 from Arabian Agility since I think the spider is on the ground/water now, take better


Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3 / Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10


Cloud leans in close to Cutlass and Alder, then raises his wings around the three of them for an extra layer of security to keep anypony from reading lips.
("Ok, so I had to hop back to the surface to deal with my genie problem, and I went through Gullveig's as a shortcut with they key Thessaly had. But when we opened the door, her whole shop was trashed and she wasn't anywhere around. She was looking into if somepony was spying on us, but with this Maella, Chiu, and I think we might have a spy or someone on one of the ships leaking out info.")


>I forgot to respond aaa
"W-Well, hrm." he tries to think on it for a little bit. "Making friends? I, well… hrm. It is kind of difficult at first, yes. You just need to be willing to open up, and trust a little. Is trusting, well… hard?" he asks, cocking his head to the side.

Alder looks like he looks pretty dumb for a moment, but shakes it off- he goes back to trying!
>Master Thief: [1d10+1] (DC-2)

("Really? Do you have any ideas who it might be? There has to be something that can help narrow it down…")

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7



Cutlass looks visibly uncomfortable with the proximity. Even more uncomfortable when the wings wrap closely around her.

"Yes," she says, keeping a level head despite her discomfort. "Word of that had already reached me. I had basically come to the same conclusion already. I think, more specifically, someone is pretending to be us and using that to spread information."

"I just spoke with Miss Sunshine and she was already privy to information that she wasn't told yet. She said Splendid told her. I haven't confronted her on that yet, but I'm not sure when Splendid could have told her."

"The alternative is that we're all hypnotized and we are all the ones leaking information. And, we don't remember due to the hypnotic state. We already know that Juniper and Cycle Kick were effectively hypnotized and don't remember that it happened."

"None of which, by the way, excuses you as a suspect. I'm more than aware that you could easily be the mole and this could just be a tactic to get me to see how much I'm onto you. I just don't really care for this confusing mess of subterfuge anymore. Lying is less fun when everyone is doing it."


Cutlass lets out a long sigh. "You have no idea…"

From her sitting position, she looks off into the sky. She grabs her legs with her hooves and pulls them in so that she's curled up into a little ball, staring off into space.


Alder goes to place a claw on Cutlass's shoulder, but decides against it- he doesn't want to make her uncomfortable. "Have bad things happened most of your life for trusting?" the griffon asks, scooching closer.


Cloud looks at Cutlass as she mentions Cloud himself could be the spy.
("First off, no,") He says in reponse to seeing how much she is into him, ("But this spy would've been on our ships before this mission, since those wanted posters of our crews have info they shouldn't have had. Like, they gave me the name 'Azure Eye', but I only got this eye put in that day we got the posters.")

He refocuses, looking between Alder and Cutlass.
("Anyways, we already have a plan working. I had to get Obstinance in to deal with Stone Cold Classic, and Cutlass's crew heard plenty about it. So, me and Chiu had the idea to tell the Beestings a different way how the fight went, since Ifigured information about a Virtue like Obstinance would be really important information to anypony out in the Ribcage, whether they're a demon or not. So, we just need to see what the news outside gets wind of, and we can have the crew narrowed down at least.")



Cutlass laughs lightly. "That makes it sound like it's just that I have a messed up point of view."

"I don't know, maybe I do? But, I'd argue it's just that I never really had the… filter that most people had growing up? Eh. That makes it sound like a crappy childhood. I didn't. I was rich. I don't want to complain about that. I had everything I needed! But, still I ran away anyway…"

Cutlass looks up at the sky and lets out a loud groan. She sounds like she's more having a conversation with herself than with you. "It's so… frustrating!"

"I'm sorry," she focuses back on Alder. "To answer your question, yes. I never really had anyone I could both open up to and trust. My grandfather definitely had no room in his heart for me. I was just there to be groomed. My grandmother was NOT someone you could trust."

"My mom… I thought I could trust her. But, she… well she had the same grooming I was getting. And, I found out too late how much that messed her up."

"After that? Pirates?" she chuckles. "You can't open up to OR trust pirates. Which feels like family to me," she says bitterly.


("As sound a thing as any. Any other things that might tip us off?")

Alder listens patiently, his tail occasionally swishing back and forth as he tries to take note of everything. "I… see. I had my own issues at home, but there were always those around me I could trust." the griffon remarks, frowning a little. "Though, I was not being 'groomed' for a position, or anything close to that."

Alder cocks his head to the side a little, before humming "I… hrm. There has to be someone on your crew you can open up to. Like, well… like you have done here. I understand pirates are pirates, but you must find people you can trust."



When Alder mentions that Cutlass just opened up with him, her eyes widen a little bit. She glances at him and looks away, blushing.

"I-I don't know why I said any of this… Like I said, you just make it so easy. It's weird," she says, looking down at the ground.

"I'm sure I can trust a lot of them. But, I can't open up to them. I'm their captain. If I talk about this kind of stuff? I'll look pathetic… More pathetic than I've already looked to them. I know what I am. A tiny unicorn, barely a mare, out here captaining a bunch of full grown people who have lived lives that have hardened them way more than mine. I have to try extra hard to make myself look tough."

"Not that I'm not tough," she adds quickly. "I am. You wear a mask long enough, and it ends up fitting eventually."

"But, really, it's not a matter of whether I can trust and open up to them. It's a matter of whether they will trust and open up to me. They won't open up, and they SHOULDN'T trust me. I've definitely established that precedent," she laughs.

"I mean, why not? Everyone leaves eventually anyway. My dad left me before I was born. I left my family. Like 4 previous pirate crews left me. YOU GUYS left me to get arrested by that Gates of Justice agent. Why shouldn't I lie to them? They won't be around long enough to unravel it."


("Other than waiting for this, I got nothing. We guessed maybe it's one of the newer crewmates we picked up from Kaco Island, but that's the best we can guess outside of questioning everypony.")



"I'm sure it's just someone on my crew," Cutlass shrugs. "I mean, I have 4 Gates of Justice agents on board. Not to mention that a lot of them are soldiers provided by the Gates of Justice. A lot of the others are prisoners that could have made some deal with the Gates of Justice."

"It could easily be WAY more than one person on my ship. But, that won't matter soon. I'm already working on a solution."


("Gonna replace them for a new crew?")
Cloud questions.



"No. I'm just working on a system so that no one can spy on me and no one can lie to me."


("Well, that sounds good and all but how does that stop anypony from spying on the rest of the crew, or the Beesting?")


Alder smiles a little, and says "Well, I am glad I am easy to talk to. But… I think you should try. At least, try and find one or two. I do not think you have to look flawless for them- you just have to be willing to lead, yes?" he asks, cocking his head to the side again.

"A-And… I am sorry for leaving you behind- I had not intended to, but that does not change that it happened all the same. But, you should not have to keep it going- you can try and find the ones you can trust, and keep them with you. Maybe it will help you hold on to some of them, yes?"



"Not really my problem," Cutlass shrugs. "Not like I tell you guys everything."


"It won't matter…" Cutlass grumbles. "Even if I do find someone, they'll always have someone else."


"But, they will have you, too." the griffon remarks, ruffling his wings and giving his puzzle box a curious look.


("If somepony is spying on your crew, isn't it your problem since you're the captain?")



"It won't be a problem," Cutlass repeats enigmatically.


"It's not enough," Cutlass says bitterly.


You leap to your hooves, then barrel across the arena into the darkness, and smash your skull into the spider's, whereupon you feel a calamitous crumbling of obsidian stone – and the sharp whine of dented metal. With a roar, the spider thrusts its mandibles forward, tossing you backward toward Tabasco's small light. Briefly, you get a glimpse of your reflection in the water that you've splashed about the arena – your skin has become pale and waxy, and blotched here and there with oily, dark-black splotches. You are reminded of the crewmate that you and Thessaly found inside of the chest cavity of the Metal Man; he had been afflicted by a similar condition, and his eyes were blank and watery, and though he yet lived, he was unable to speak. For now, you are able-bodied – for now.

The spider retreats into the depths of the shadows, leaving only a metal grinding to signal where it yet may be…

[1d10+3] Spider

The hounds get up, still full of fight and vigor, and charge bravely onward.


Tabasco snarls, and tilts his head up at the webbing between the pillars around you, firing wave after wave of flame to light the arena.


>Cloud, Alder, Cutlass

As you three discuss the break-in and assault at Gullveig's shop, and the possible identity of the spy among you, you hear a clicking from the magical lock box in Alder's grip. The sliding tile puzzle upon the box's final layer begins to sink deeper into the box's surface. Now that the tiles are all in place, you can see their proper design that the tiles were meant to convey: a slit-eyed mask made of an intricate mandala of what seem to be flowers.

The tiles split apart, and fold away into the box's sides, revealing the contents below – a pair of arm bracers, made of interlocking flowers, much like those that composed the illusory mask upon the tiles. Their colors are wondrous and strange, otherworldly shades that capture and play with the dim light from above, playing with the light of their own volition.

Roll #1 3 + 3 = 6 / Roll #2 5, 6, 5, 6, 4 + 1 = 27 / Roll #3 1 + 2 = 3


Alder flicks his ears a little and lets out an excited chirp as he finally manages to get the tile puzzle properly ordered. He doesn't have too much time to study the patterns before it begins sliding open, but does gently remove the bracers to give them a look. "I, hrm… these are not normal, clearly. I wonder what they do?"


Whatever they may be, you can sense a faint thrilling upon your fingertips as you touch them – not that of magic, but of Aura. Perhaps with study, their purpose may be ascertained.


Cloud peers over as Alder's box opens up.
"Nice job bud. So what's your prize?"


Alder the Surgeon (M. Hermit)7/6


>Ignore that

"Some sort of bracer- they seem wonderfully made, and… they have the tingle of aura? They definitely do something, then- perhaps something with shadows, considering how the light flickers around them?"


Cerulean takes note of this, figuring it might be best to try and bring it down as fast as she can. Seeing it start to run off, she brings her aura up and forms her chains.
"Oh no! Not gonna let you get away THAT easily," she yells and lashes her chains out to force it to 1 v. 1 her.

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

>Crits 9+

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11


"Give them a try, see what they can do then."


The end of the chain hurtles into the darkness, then clatters onto something with a satisfying clank. A sudden force yanks you forward, but you dig your hooves in, beginning a tug-of-war so fierce and fraught that your muscles burn, begging you for mercy. You and the spider pull each other closer, until at last the chain gives slack.

At the same time, Tabasco's flame waves succeed, but much too well. Burning webbing falls from the sky, and the dogs yelp as they run about to avoid the flames. But the burning webs become a kind of pyre that lights the arena, at last giving you a look at your opponent.

Though much of its body is like that of the rest of the Watchkeepers, the spider is a defiled and twisted thing. Much of its upper body is covered with not the smooth black obsidian of the Watchkeepers, but with dense and waterlogged cloth, and a sprawling tangle of black and silver pipes, like that of the Metal Men. Upon the spider's back, there rises a bulbous mass of murky glass plates, also reminiscent of the Man. In fact, much of the spider's body seems now limp, and the parts covered by the cloth and metal are animated – in fact, they are probably controlling all of the beast, by your reckoning.

The Metal Spider's head spins on a swivel, encasing the Watchkeeper hounds in cocoons of dark green, which starts to darken as it encases its quarry. Your Aura invigorates you, propelling you onward for an attack!

>Hakarl activates!

The spider stomps forward, trying to slam you down into the earth!


The dogs attempt to break free of their cocoons!


Roger and Tabasco flee in circles, and you soon see the cause – the burning webbing that falls from the sky.

>roll dodge, instant, for the next 3 turns; this does not occupy Hakarl's action as it is classified as Free despite the use of Instant in text

Roll #1 4 + 3 = 7 / Roll #2 7, 10, 8, 9, 3 + 1 = 38


"Keep it up, guys! I think we got it on the ropes now!"
With the invigoration of her aura, and the unknown timer she feels she's on, Cerulean is quick to go for a bite at the spider's leg as it comes down.

>Great weapon attack


After the stomp, she bobs and weaves about the spider's legs to better avoid the falling web balls of fire.
>Earthly Affinity: Movement is automatic, not sure if that might confer a bonus to dodging stuff

Getting a better look at the thing, she eyes the glass plates as she thinks she might've found a good spot to hit. She gives a tug of her chains to throw it off balance, and give her a good swinging point to get her on it for another head smash.

>Slam the glass! Crits 8+, +2, take better


Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4 / Roll #2 1 + 1 = 2 / Roll #3 10 + 2 = 12 / Roll #4 6 + 2 = 8


Alder nods a little bit and slides the bracers on- maybe they'll do something special?


Immediately, both of Alder's hands fall straight off.


Alder lets out a panicked screech, waving his forelegs around and reaching for his claws! He'd clench his talons nervously if he could, but… they're not attached, so what could they do?


The Metal Spider brings its mighty leg down upon you, wringing it back and forth, pushing you deeper and deeper into the stones below. Blood spurts from your sides as the crushing weight brings incredible pressure upon your veins.

>Cerulean 0/3, continue to roll dodge despite helplessness

Yet, just as the Metal Spider raises its leg to finish you off, you roll aside, and yank yourself upward with a desperate strength, flinging yourself overhead. In a crescent arc like the curl of the moon over the stormy ocean, you crush your tail down onto the Metal Spider's head, shattering the glass. Black, coagulated sludge oozes forth from the opening, and the Metal Spider utters a deafening shriek of metal upon stone.

Four of the hounds break free of their prisons, running back toward the Metal Spider, heedless of their own safety as they run to your aid.


The Metal Spider turns its attention to them, barreling forward with you still chained upon its back.

[1d10+3] AOE

>Hakarl activates; may be used upon successfully rising

A great chunk of burning web falls from above, nearly crushing Tabasco and Roger. It blocks their path toward you, and so the two regain their focus, and begin to run about it toward the far side.

As you reach toward your claws, they clench nervously, and start to reach out toward the grass! Spinning about, they even fly right toward you! In fact… it almost seems like you're still in control of them…

Roll #1 3, 8, 10, 3 + 1 = 25 / Roll #2 9 + 3 = 12


"Hanss! I, ah, u-uhm, I feel them? They, uh… t-they are still there!" the griffon says, looking at his behanded forelegs, then at his talons. He tries to reach out at Cloud Shear, curious what they'll do.


You can feel him, just fine. For all intents and purposes, your hand still seems perfectly functional. Two matters remain, however – whether interrupting the line of sight between the stump of your forearm and the hand will have any effect, or whether there is a limit on the range that your hand may fly free of your body.


Cerulean slaps her hooves to her face and tries to get herself to refocus after all the hits lately, giving herself a splash to better clear her head.

>Earthly Affinity: DC 4 helpless recovery


As she tries to regain herself, she tries to shimmy herself through the water to avoid more falling, flaming debris.

>Instant Dodge


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


Back up and all it, she sees an opening as the spider tries to charge. She grabs the chains with her teeth and gives a mighty heave to throw off its balance and cause to hurt.

>Great weapon attack


She then pulls herself along the chains until she's close enough to get her teeth on the spider and go to rip and tear.

>Another great weapon attack!


Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5 / Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9


Cloud reels back in panic when Alder's hands fall off.
"Whoa! A-Alright,. no worries, we can put those back on with that healing knife of yours, right?"

Cloud reaches out to try and help Alder pick up his talons, until they reach out and grab onto him while dismembered. A chill runs down his spine.
"Okay, so they still work, and that's really creepy."


Alder seems rather unsettled by the whole experience himself, but starts to calm down a little. "They seem to, ah… be fine? This is incredibly strange, but… yes, creepy is the word." the griffon manages.

"Now, hmm… let me check something." the griffon mumbles, deciding to try out a couple things! For starters, he tries to put one of his hands back on to the stump. With his other set of claws, he'll try to 'walk' it out of his sight. Can he still control it if he can't see it?


Indeed, you still can – but eventually, you can sense your hand stop moving, after it gets too far from you. With a little mental math, you determine that your range is about 10 meters in a circle about you.

The Metal Spider's swift charge sends you flying, but you chomp onto the edge of the chain with your teeth, and barely manage to hang on. A few teeth, knocked loose by the violence, fly away, but you hardly notice through the rush of battle and blood – they'll be back soon enough anyway. You haul yourself upward, then leap up once more and clamber onto the top of the spider. You bite down onto a torn chunk of cloth, and rip upwards, yanking the spider backward. This throws off its trajectory, slowing it down before it can bowl over the group of Watchkeeper dogs. They are still hit, and scattered, but because the charge was slowed, they yet have their strength.

The dogs circle about the Metal Spider, and despite their wounds, bite down onto its legs, pulling back as best they can. The spider, caught off guard by this coordinated strike, is thrown off, as you and the dogs pull it backward…

…But a sinking feeling in your gut warns you that you just might be right where it wants you. A sudden sense of gravity tells you all that you need to know. The spider is now standing vertically, prompted at first by your pull, but now by its own scheming. You're dangling at its head, at prime position for a splash.

The spider throws itself backward, aiming to crush you underneath the totality of its weight, made deadly by the shattered glass and the putrid black gunk inside of its head.


The dogs desperately fling themselves away.


Roll #1 1 + 3 = 4 / Roll #2 5, 2, 1, 9, 4 + 1 = 22


Cloud watches the hand 'walk' off and out of view, still unnerved with the whole dismemberment aspect.
"Those are some weird little bracers you got…"


"It is, hrm… v-very weird, yes. I do not need to see my hand to move it, though it must remain at least somewhat close- this is very weird, but… incredibly useful, I think. As long as I conceal my stump, my hand can do plenty, I think." he says, fluttering over to his disembodied talon and re-attaching it.


Seeing the spider about to drop itself down on everyone, Cerulean gives a tug of the chains to rotate it more in the air so she's on top instead, then tries to slam it down into the ground with all her weight.

>Slam, crit 8+, +2, take better


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


As Alder winds his hand back, Splendid comes alongside with the hands, her face as red as it could possibly get for a griffon with blue feathers, and eyes so wide she may just need a larger skull. She walks… with quite a strange gait… as if recently wounded…

As she gets to Alder's side, she towers over him, plainly ready to clobber him into dust.

"…You think that just because you can move your hands wherever you like, you can just put them on or in anything you like…?" Splendid asks, murder written all over her face.

>roll to resist intimidation

You deftly take over its splash, and the Metal Spider is the one to plummet and slam down onto the stone. Chunks of obsidian, twisting curls of metal, and great shards of glass fly all about, as black coagulating sludge, putrid of odor and color, floods all about, threatening to push away all the water you splashed about to your advantage. Pillars of dark fire erupt all about as the dark sludge makes contact with Tabasco's flames, and the arena's air becomes a maddening dance of darkness and light.

The Metal Spider wriggles and flails about under your grasp. You have little time to act, before it will be up…

>Metal Spider unable to act!

At last, Tabasco and Roger circle about the burning webbing. The two stop, and take aim: Tabasco spews a current of fire from his mouth, while Roger, a yet of high-pressurized water.

[1d10+2] Roger
[1d10+2] Tabasco

Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5 / Roll #2 9 + 2 = 11


"A-Ah! What are you talking about, Splendid? I cannot see where my hands were, s-so… w-what did they do?" he asks, stepping backwards a little.

Roll #1 6 = 6


"Hmm, if you got some gloves to wear over them, you could probably pull off all kinds of things with that."
Cloud suggests.

Cloud scootches back a bit, familiar with this situation and letting it unfold between the two gryphons.


A shadow descends over Splendid's face, and Alder barely manages to stand firm against a wave of emotional energy that would knock most others flat on their back. At last, the shadow passes, and she steps back just a tad. "…I'll show you later. Now then, if you're done chit-chatting, those of us with a work ethic are done setting up the camp. Each of us has a tent and a cot. I ain't able to use Aura or Magic yet, so the lot of you are gonna have to give it a peek before we lie down and sleep in the company of demons. Ossie caught me up on the King and the Yellow Jester."


"U-Uhm… okay? Are you sure this is not something we should discuss now? T-That was, ah, c-concerning." the griffon says, stepping back a little more until the energy subsides. "And, yes. Let us go give it a peek."


"Hopefully we shouldn't have much to worry about," Cloud says, standing up to check out the tents, "Didn't plan on sleeping much anyways after the Crimson King showed up anyways."

Cloud then pauses a moment.
"Hey, Splendid, you know a bunch about the Virtues, right?"


Cerulean feels the battle fever as she gives a bit of a roar as she tries to stick her head into an open part of the spider and try to rip and tear as much of the insides as she can out.

>Great Weapon attack


Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3


"Well, if you really must know right now… it was here!" Splendid squawks.

At once, her claws fly out – and start to tickle Alder all along the ribs and sides of his stomach.

>roll endurance, DC 8

While tickling Alder, Splendid looks your way. "I know… some things. I believe I've already mentioned that I was raised on Sepulchre Island, which is where they made their headquarters. Though, I wasn't tutored by them for very long… nor was I initiated into their higher orders before my education was through. What do you want to know?"


As you bring your jaws down for a final blow, the Metal Spider suddenly shudders, and tosses you aside as it rolls back onto its feet. You fall upon your side, and sharp metal and stone pierce your skin, gushing forth more of what little blood remains within you. Below you, stained now in your blood, lie the broken remains of one of the Watchkeeper dogs – and in the dim light of the dark flames surrounding you, you see that four others lie broken and scattered all about.

>Cerulean 8/3

At once, the Metal Spider wheels about, grating a high and ear-splitting groan from its corrupted innards, a dying roar of fury. Black sludge erupts from its shattered glass, flowing toward you – and from its surface, hands of every possible kind, from each and every race, rise upward, fingers mutated by the metal and cloth of the terrible giants. They reach toward you, poised to drag you down into themselves.

[1d10+3] Unknown Attack

Roll #1 4 + 3 = 7


Cerulean looks down at the remains, then the scattered remains of the others.
"No…you all…." She grits her teeth and and eyes the hands reaching towards her. Her grip on the chains tighten. Even if it was a short time together, she still liked the mechanical pooches.
"You want me so bad, then come and get me!" She charges forth right at the spider, using her speed, mass, and aura to barrel through the hands and full-body charge into the spider.

>Slam, crit 8+, +3 after one aura point, DC -1 from Sprinter, take better


Roll #1 2 + 3 = 5



Roll #1 10 + 3 = 13


Alder lets out a shocked squawk, flailing helplessly and trying to get away from the tickling!
>Endurance [1d10]

"Hmm? Why do you ask, Cloud?"

Roll #1 7 = 7


Alas, you are helplessly trapped, beyond recourse, and have no choice but to laugh in the most embarrassing matter possible.


Spurred on by an incredible bolt of power, you leap through dark flame and black sludge both as you rush on toward the spider. As you run through the sludge, the hands touch your body – and go right through it, before pulling out and way a great number of strange objects. Crystal spheres do they hold, each one containing some image within. Some, images of your family. Some, unusual icons and glyphs that you do not recognize – but as they are pulled out, you feel vast gaps emerge within your mind. Skills, knowledge, memories, personality traits… all of it disappears.

>Cerulean loses all Skills, including Aura Skills

>Max H/W reduced to 1/1

But still you run onward, and collide, head-on with the Metal Spider. Bone meets steel and obsidian, and a shockwave explodes from the impact site. The Metal Spider bears down with all of its weight, and you hear a thunderous rumbling as it pushes you back, charging forward with all its power to shove you back into the black flames…


…Then comes a sudden cracking. You look up, and between the blood that gushes from your forehead, you see a great fissure opening on the spider's head. With a final crackling and groaning, the fissure spreads throughout the rest of its gigantic body, as it crumbles to its end, folding in on itself.

There lays before you the body of the Metal Spider… and as strength leaves your legs, so too do you fall.

The black sludge that poured from its body starts to grow still… and the hands that emerged from the sludge recede at last, surrendering their crystal spheres.

>roll perception


Alder lets out a rather embarrassing, snorting laughter, left a little too dizzy to focus for a while.


Cerulean has a big, relieved grin as the spider goes down, and even as she goes down. She lays there to pant and catch her breath. She looks at the crystals with a mystified look.
"Huh…wonder who…these belong to…." She looks around some more, not feeling sure of her surroundings…how did she get here again?

>Perception. Electroception if applicable


Roll #1 9 = 9


Although you don't know what's going on, or where you are, or who you are, or what you're doing, in fact, you seem to have quite the sense that those crystal spheres belong to you – they are scattered about the area, but you are confident that you know that those before you are all that were missing.


"Wait…those are-yeah, pretty sure those are mine. C'mon…uhh…," she says, cutting herself off as she can't remember the name of her body. She shrugs it off and wills herself to get up enough to take back the crystals closest to her first.


Shortly after you touch each crystal, it vanishes into a cloud of glimmers, which then sink back into your body. Each time, you feel the great expanse that is your mind fill up with something quite familiar – and on instinct, you immediately understand that each missing piece was once yours.

By the time that you finish recovering all of the crystals, you recall all that has just transpired, and have regained your body and mind in full. Your mind, in particular, goes to the slain dogs – and you see that the situation may yet have hope.

As you recall, the Obsidian Watchkeepers' souls are contained in the dark red gemstones that make up their eyes. And, as you look about the burning temple arena, you see, through electroception, that the dark red gemstones are still animate with power. All around you, very tiny Watchkeeper spiders are busy gathering up the gemstones into a neat row. A quick count reveals 18 animate gemstones altogether – 10 for the destroyed dogs, and eight… for the giant spider.

Something cold and wet nudges your leg – it is Tabasco, whining with concern. Roger has extinguished some of the black flames around you, leaving just enough to light the outer edges of where you fought.


Cloud lowers his voice, whispering to keep it confidential just in case with the Thunder Serpent nearby.
("I was wondering if you knew anything about the Maze of Mirrors.")

("Obstinance wished Stone Cold Classic off to there, and Mallea didn't want to talk about it, so I curious to how bad the place is since the genie was terrified of it.")


Splendid suddenly gulps, and lets Alder go after hearing Stone Cold Classic's fate. "O-oh… well, not much, actually. I'd only been there once or twice, actually. But, from what I've heard, it's not so much the Maze itself, but the Virtues who have made it their training grounds. The ones they call The Dharmachakra. If even one of them was present when Obstinance and your genie went there… the wheel will grind the evil karma from that genie… or so they say."


Cerulean looks down and gives Tabasco a hug, then Roger when he comes close enough. She rocks them, and herself a bit, really not liking the feeling that she forgot them.
"Its okay, guys. Its down and out. We're safe…I think."

Seeing the soulgems of the dogs, Cerulean cautiously goes up to them, not wanting to make the spiders upset next. She also tries to see if she can take them, but is ready to move her hoof away if the spiders take offense. She only passively regards the gemstones of the spider, looking at them with a slight shudder. Whether its from memories of the fight, or her body hurting, not even she knows.


"So Stone Cold is done for, basically."
Cloud says, sighing in relief.
"That sounds a lot better than what I was expecting. Obstinance was pretty roughed up, and I thought this place was some horrible obstacle course or monster pen or something. If it's just other Virtues being the danger he should get patched up real quick then."


"Ah, hrm…t-that does sound rather foreboding, yes. Do these Dharmachakra ever leave the maze? It is their training ground rather than a home proper, yes?"


The spiders gladly step aside as you approach to take the gemstones. The spiders seem to have taken great care to separate each set of gemstones into pairs, and to keep those separate from the eight of the giant spider. It seems quite important to keep each Watchkeeper's eyes separate from the others, so that they do not get mixed. As you gather the gemstones, two spiders play out a strange drama. They take two halves of a broken joint, and pantomime putting them together. They repeat this multiple times – perhaps suggesting it is possible to rebuild them.

Once you're finished gathering up all the dogs' gemstone eyes, the small spiders push the giant spiders' eyes toward you… perhaps hoping that it too may be rebuilt. Tabasco and Roger stay close, but seem too exhausted even to offer their trepidation at the idea of rebuilding an enemy that nearly took away everything from you.

>roll memory

"Depending on which of the Dharmachakra was training there when he arrived, Obstinance may not be home free just yet," Splendid says. "They wouldn't harm one of their own… at least, not deliberately. It's guaranteed that one of them was in the Maze at the time Obstinance arrived. Only one of them is allowed to train there at any given time, and for good reason. The entire clock is divided evenly between them, and some are quite finicky about their allotted time not being interrupted."


"Ah, I see. I imagine that regardless of who it is, we will not see Obstinance for some time then, yes?"


"They wouldn't kill him though, right? I guess I can see punishment for interrupting training, but they wouldn't take out their own order, especially since he was removing another demon which sounds like their whole deal."

>Memory [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1


Cerulean watches the spiders pantomime and gives it a go of rebuilding a dog to try it out.

When she sees them pushing the spider's gems up, she gives a slight pause.
"Are you sure thet's really a good idea," she asks the little spiders, "it seemed a bit…different from the others I've seen here, you know?"


Your mind is occupied by fantasies of Chiu cooking meals for you and your future son or daughter.

>try again

"Oh, no, he'll be alright if he can get their attention," Splendid says. "At most, he'll be stuck on Sepulchre Island until he's finished with all the chores they'll assign him in retribution."

Unfortunately, you don't have the tools or materials required to rebuild any of the obsidian creatures. Every one of them was thoroughly destroyed. You recall Kukulcan's claim that he had built them himself. Perhaps he may be able to assist you in that endeavor.

The spiders gather around you, looking up with hope. When you express trepidation, they turn and point toward the cloth and the different type of metal that covered much of the spider. It seems now that the giant spider was completely under the control of whatever type of Metal Man that was. Rebuilt without it, it may have a different personality and temperament. Still, it's quite the risk… but the spiders are adamant.


Cloud frowns, wondering if Obstinance could even get their attention without his memories.
"…I hope they take it easy on him. A good chunk of his head was burnt."
Cloud says, covering up the reason for his worried look.

>Memory [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4


Something occurs to you – not from your memories, but from Obstinance's. He seems to recall himself and the other initiates heading into the Maze of Mirrors – a grand and towering stone stupa – for training, when they were quite young. That memory fades, and another follows it – a few years later, he walks near the hill atop which the Maze is built, and notices Splendid heading up there, alone. Yet another memory, spurred on by the first and second, comes as well–

Splendid seemed to head to the Maze quite often, more than the other initiates.


"Hmm. Well, I suppose that is a relief… I think. I do not know what their chores would consist of. Though, we are getting distracted- we wanted to look around, yes? Or was it something else?"


Cerulean's concerns seem to be dispelled as she gets the hint of their explanation.
"Huh…I see. Well, I'd be happy to but…I don't really have anything to fix them with," she admits sadly, not really wanting to say it cause she knows the spiders would look at her sadly. Her body is feeling broken; she didn't want her heart broken next.
"Oh, but, I do know somebody who could help! So don't worry, okay? Just need to…ya know, get out of here or something, okay?"

She looks herself over and gives a tired huff, sitting down on the ground.
"I think…maybe I should head back? Or maybe take a moment to rest?" She gives a tired sigh.
"I feel like I'm so close now but…." She looks to Roger and Tabasco for possible suggestions…at least, as best as they can explain their thoughts.


"So, uh, if the clock is divided up, do you know who would've been in there a few hours ago?"
Cloud asks Splendid, more questions being raised as he delves into his memories.
"Wait. Hmm, what time was it when that wish was made? An exact time might be better."


You recall that this is B6F of the Skull Temple, and that your goal was B7F – it would be wise to rest up, just in case a final trial awaits at the Temple's bottommost floor. Tabasco, thinking on this, grabs you by the saddlebags and tugs back toward the stairwell – you recall now that there was a healing pool just after the trial involving the three shooters and the long hallway split into Past, Present and Future.

"Ah…" Splendid says. "Well, I'd prefer not to say their names. Call me superstitious, but it always seemed that the Dharmachakra knew when they were being spoken about. We might be 20,000 leagues under the sea, or close to it, but still…"

"It was about 4 PM when you finished the battle with the genie," Hmm says.


"That's fine. It was around four when they went to the maze, so without saying names, is that good or bad for him?"


"Ahh, good idea. Alright guys, how about we take a soak and nap?" She follows Tabasco to the healing pool. Her mind goes back to the fight and she looks herself over, remembering she was turning pale and all sorts of other things during the fight.


"He couldn't have picked a better time," Splendid says. "Any earlier and he could have been on a fast for the next few years. Well, not that he's really our ally, but you can rest assured he won't be slain for his choice."

>roll two separate memory checks, yours and Obstinance's

"Oh, right," Splendid says. "Let's have a look around camp. You two will have to use your magical and aural senses to check to see if Kukulcan's goons have left any bad enchantments about."
"And I can help!" Juniper says, running in from just out of frame.
"How much of that conversation did you hear?" Splendid asks.
"When I saw you guys whispering, I decided to do my stretches over by the Thunder Serpent, so as not to overstay my welcome," Juniper says. "But once you started talking normally, I came back over to make myself useful."
"I see…"

It seems that the cocoon attack that made you pale was of a similar nature to the hands that stole parts of your being from you. Now that you have recovered all of yourself from the Metal Spider, you seem to be missing nothing.

After getting cleaned, you set up a little makeshift resting area for yourself and your buddies. They curl up, ready for sleep. Perhaps you might check in with the others, or sleep however long you wish.

>timeskip to night or morning available


As Cerulean lays down for a bit, she takes out her caller conch as it has been awhile since she's talked with anyone. She decides to try and call Cloud's conch first, as even if he doesn't pick up, then Chiu might be nearby enough to pick up instead.


Alder hums a little bit, before shrugging to himself. He'll make sure his claws are both attached firmly to his forelegs, before giving Splendid a little prod and starting off for the camp.


"Oh, good, that's a relief. I still need to thank him for all his help."

>Cloud's Memory [1d10]

>Obstinance's Memory [1d10]

"I'll give it a try, not sure how to scan for aura exactly."

Cloud's ears perk as Juniper jumps back in.
"Oh, uh, thanks for respecting our privacy."

As they walk back to the camp, Cloud feels his conch ring.

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


"Hey Cloud! It's me, Cerulean!" She says excitedly into the conch.
"Was just calling in to see how you all are doing."


Splendid prods you back.


After finishing your discussions, you head back from the jungle's edge where Bee Holder was in hiding. From there, you wander back to the eastern shore of the Dreamer's Moon, and can see Kukulcan's ship and crew docked at the western shore, far out of your earshot.

By the shore, you enter the camp that Kukulcan's crew set up for you, and you can see that it's not a whole lot to speak of. A lean-to has been erected for each of you – Splendid, Cloud, Alder, Cerulean, Cutlass, Juniper and Ossie. They are arranged in a circle around a recently-dug firepit. Some kindling has been laid out, but not lit yet. Dried meat and vegetable rations, along with squares of hardtack, has been laid out on a blanket near the firepit. Probably Itz's doing.

Ossie is already wandering about, checking each lean-to herself with a scrutinizing eye.

>roll magical and aural perception

You recall another of Obstinance's memories, from a fourth time that he saw Splendid enter the Maze of Mirrors. She is greeted at the gate by a gigantic puff of beautiful white feathers, with a beak sticking out of it – it's hard to ascertain the race, because they seem to be naught but a puff of feathers, a cloud of feathers in fact. But Obstinance recalls a great set of arms – Vola arms – coming out of the cloud of feathers, which pick up Splendid in a tight and bracing hug, a hug which Splendid apparently endures. But soon after, the puff pulls Splendid in.

A name comes to mind… but escapes you before you can recall it.

You feel like you're missing one other thing…

Tabasco munches on your tail, as he tends to do when hungry.



Cutlass goes with Ossie, keeping her eyes peeled.

>Magic perception [1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7


>Magical Perception: [1d10]
>Aura Perception: [1d10+1] (+1 from TBP)
>If Master Thief applies to either, +1 to it!

Alder hums a little bit and slinks around the camp, trying to spot anything that might give him a bad vibe.

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


"Hey Cerulean! We're doing alright, just got camp set up out here. Where are you at?"

Cloud looks over the small little camping site set up, about as much as to be expected. He's wary of the food though, and peers over the sight, unsure of really how to look for aura tampering as he hasn't ever looking at that too specifically aside from Yellow Jester's flaunting at the circus.
>Observation [1d10]

As the memory leaves Cloud with something missing, he finds it frustrating, being left with this taunting feeling of ending just before one thing. He almost forgets about looking over the camping, trying to focus more on this memory of Obstinance's.
>Memory [1d10]

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


"Camp? Neat. As for me-ow, hey, okay I'll get you something to eat," she says, moving her tail from Tabasco and getting some food from the saddlebag for herself, Tabasco, and Roger.
"Sorry Cloud, Tabasco was hungry. Anyways, I'm still in the temple place. If I remember right, I'm on the…sixth floor down. Pretty sure I'm almost to the bottom!"


"You're still at it? That place must be massive," Cloud comments, "What's in that temple anyways?"


You check over everything in the camp, from the lean-tos to the cots to the surrounding environment, but find nothing of note, either made of Aura, or of magic. If Kukulcan or any member of his crew is planning anything nefarious, they don't seem to be acting tonight. It's more than likely safe to sleep out here, if you don't mind the bugs and the exposure to the elements. You are still at the edge of the godray crystal's light, however, so you will be safe from the Metal Men.

Ossie frowns, but shrugs. "I hate to admit it… but we should be safe here."
"If only those lean-tos were a bit bigger…" Splendid complains.
Ossie scoffs. "Think about how I feel. I can't even stand up in mine."
Splendid laughs. "That's not quite the reason I was complaining."
Ossie cringes, screwing up her eyes for a moment. "…I'm okay. I didn't hear or visualize that. Moving on: let's divide up the guards, and get some rest."

This time, it's the exhaustion of the day that distracts you. Perhaps you will recover it in the morning.

Tabasco leaves you be while he eats his fish, and Roger contents himself with the crumbs around your mouth.


"Yup! It's very big! There's a whole bunch of the obsidian things here, but they're not all so bad. I actually made friends with a bunch of dog ones, but they kinda got broken in the latest fight I had against a giant spider. Oh! And there was also a dragon one I rode on while I was here! Got into some pretty rough fights, too."


"Hrm… no tamperment that I can detect. We should be in the clean- err, the clear."
Alder gives a somewhat confused warble at the comment about the lean-tos, before humming and saying "Well… I do not think we could put the two of ours together to make it larger, but we could try?"



"Can you not sleep in a shadow?" Cutlass asks Ossie curiously.


"I'll take one of the later guards, just need to shut my eyes for a little bit after the flight over."
Cloud says, feeling the wear of the day getting to him, along with the battle and dealing with the trawl through Obstinance's memories.

"You've been fighting those obsidian creatures? Are you alright? How are they friendly?"
Cloud exclaims, finding this hard to believe after his incident.


Ossie shakes her head. "Well… I could, but it's not particularly fun. It doesn't feel like anything, so it's pretty difficult to get comfortable. It's like you're falling, except without the sensation of falling. It feels like nothing in particular. Even sleeping on the ground is less unnerving, because at least then you're secure. The grass here is pretty springy from the lake, so I could handle that better than in a shadow."

"Fascinating," Splendid says with a yawn. "But it's time we got some shut-eye."

"I'll have the first watch," Juniper says. "Doubt I'll be able to sleep much anyway… after all the news I got…"

"Fine, wake me next, then I'll wake Cloud," Ossie says. Cutlass can tell it's a lie – Ossie will probably stay awake with Juniper, knowing she's possessed by the Yellow Jester.

>timeskip to morning available

Tabasco crawls up under your neck, and positions himself like a shawl, before burping and getting settled in to sleep.


Splendid honks your beak. "Maybe… next time."


"Well, the dog ones were friendly cause I sang to them a bit, then gave them a bit of food. They started following me around after that. There was also a pig one that I just needed to lift and move out of the way, and the dragon one I just needed to prove I was the apex predator," she explains in between bites of snacks.
"As for alright, yeah, though had some close calls. There are these healing pools that are nice to swim around in."

"But, there was something weird with the last fight. There was one of those metal guys, ya know, like the one we brought back to the Beasting? It was on the spider and controlling it. I beat the crud out of it and just broken on the ground now, but there are these little spiders that were asking if I could put the spider back together," she explains as her tone get a bit more serious and slightly concerned.
"It also tried to make me like the one crewmate we found in the Metal Man, but I beat it up before it completely did that to me. I'm beginning to think these Metal guys might not be worth the trouble of figuring out so much anymore…."



"No one better touch me in my sleep," Cutlass says as she heads inside to sleep.



"Sounds like a plan."
Cloud says, walking into his tent.
>Good to skip

"That… all sounds like a rough time."
Cloud says, worry clear in his voice from hearing about all the constructs Cerulean fought.

"Yea, let's not rebuild that. That sounds like a horrible idea."
He says in agreement.
"How much more of that place do you think there is?"


Alder warks a little bit, and squeezes Splendid's beak in response, before getting ready to sleep.


"I think one more floor. I can tell you more later when we meet back up. Oh, speaking of meeting back up, how is everyone else out there? Also, what time is it out there? I haven't seen sunshine nor moonlight down here."


"We're doing alright, I think. Cutlass has something planned, and Alder got his little puzzle box open, so it's mostly good. It's pretty late out here, we're all getting ready to sleep."


After your conversations end, each of you retires to bed.

Like on the previous nights, you dream of the perilous vortex into which all nations and races of the world seem to be gathered. Just as the last ones did, the dream ends with the Vault opening. The Metal Men pour forth, and the Watchkeepers rise, screaming and roaring, to banish them back beyond the Vault's threshold. But, in this dream, the Metal Men reach further and further upon the land of Cuauhtemoc, stealing away ever more of the sunken island with each step.

At last the dream ends, and each of you wakes up where you lay. Cerulean finds that she has not been disturbed in her sleep, and the only disturbance that the rest of you have met is the presence of the rising Sun Serpent, who swims through the eastern clouds, bringing with it the light of a new morning.

Cloud notices that his Conch is ringing.

>Paused, reply for next time.


"Oh shoot, really? Sorry if I was holding you up then. But still, good to hear from you guys. Pass my hellos and all to everyone, alright? G'night!" She then hangs up the conch and cuddles up with Roger and Tabasco.
"G'night guys. Thanks for sticking with me through all this." She nuzzles both of them before going to sleep.

Cerulean awakens with a yawn and has a quick snack of breakfast, passing some to Roger and Tabasco.
"Alright boys, pretty sure we're in the home stretch now, so how about we go and see what's gonna happen next?" She excitedly gets ready for the day, and any other fights, and heads off back to the room she fought the spider in previously to head to the next area.


"Oh it's no problem, it was good hearing you're alright too. I'll tell everypony you said hi, night."

Cloud settles in his tent, taking out the photo of the gryphon goddess statue and propping it up against the inside of the tent so it can keep watch like it does back in his and Chiu's room. And soon enough, sleep catches him despite his worries.

Cloud wakes up, his mood unchanges from the previous night after that dream. He isn't sure if it's his paranoia after the fight with the golem when they first arrived, or just more of the same with the haunting dreams they've been plagued with.
He rubs the sleep from his eyes as his conch rings, picking it up after the third one.
He sleepily groans in greeting.


Alder groans a little as he's awakened by yet another disturbing dream- the more unsettling part being how much further the Metal Men get before he awakens. He shakes it off a little and mutters to himself in his native tongue, before getting out to try and stretch a little bit.



When Cutlass wakes up, she checks to make sure that nothing was stolen from her.


Upon arriving back in the spider's chamber, you find that it has been greatly cleaned since your chaotic battle. The remnants of the Metal Spider have been spirited away – you realize that you saw gashes in the floor on your way to this chamber. Perhaps whoever dragged the corrupted thing's corpse out of the room dragged it out to the cleansing Sun Serpent-light which paralyzes the Metal Men.

The chamber is now dimly lit by high crystals, recently embedded in the sides of the pillars which hold up the room. Perhaps these may be the godray crystals you have heard of from Kukulcan.

Crawling across the floor before you is a small Watchkeeper spider, the one who lured you into the Metal Spider's attack last night.

When Cutlass awakes, she finds that both Sir Pent and her hat are gone. As Alder steps out to stretch, he sees that said hat and snake are both upon Ossie's head. Ossie, along with Splendid, is busy preparing a breakfast of fish, using what Itz taught Splendid yesterday.

"Cloud!" Chiu says over the conch. "Hey, it just occurred to me, but – didn't you use Gullveig's key to bring Obstinance down to Cuauhtemoc? Go get a newspaper!"


Cerulean looks to the spider and gives a little wave to it.
"Hey there. You guys sure worked fast during the night, huh?"


Alder stretches out a little, careful to not accidentally detach his claws again. He'll unfurl his wings and flutter over to Ossie and Splendid, before giving the latter a soft nuzzle.

"Ah! Good morning- apologies for getting up so late, sleep was… disturbed, as is the norm, I suppose."


"Oh, morning babe," Cloud greets, mood lifting as he hears the call is from Chiu and not bad news from the Captain or somepony else, "Good idea. Let me just get ready. Wonder if this works on tent flaps…"
Cloud, still on the line, tucks the statue photo away in his pocket, stretches, and tries taking Gullveig's key to the flap on his tent to see if it works to open to her workshop.


The spider waves back, but seems incapable of offering much in the way of conversation. Other spiders trek about in the darkness, taking care of this thing or that, but the one before you stands at attention. It's difficult to tell without verbal communication, but it seems ready to offer some assistance if need be – answering questions and such.


Cerulean gives a little giggle to the spider, finding its response cute. Though it might be due to how small it is compared to her.
"Hey, so I have a question: what's down there on the floor below? Anything you can tell me about it…or well, try and tell me?"



Cutlass has a momentary panic attack when she fails to find her hat and snek. She quickly scrambles out of the tent, her hair a mess. She spots her hat on Ossie's head.

She sighs a massive sigh of relief and heads over to Ossie. She telekinetically retrieves her hat, taking care to not knock Sir Pent off. She places it on her head, giving Sir Pent a loving boop.

"You nearly gave me a heart attack," Cutlass says to Ossie, sounding relieved. "What happened?"


Sir Pent affectionately gnaws on the corner of Cutlass's ear for a moment. Ossie shrugs as she finishes separating the meals. "No deep reason. But a dream like that was sure to leave us all in a sour mood this morning. Thought I would try to change the note on which we started."
"A hearty breakfast will help," Splendid adds. "That's why it helps to make friends with whoever you can."
Ossie snorts, recalling how Cutlass antagonized Itz. Breakfast is a fruit spread with a side of fish, carried upon leaf rolls. Grooves in the leaves have made for handy containers of some kind of syrup for the fruit - or the fish, for those of unorthodox palette.
"What's the plan for today?" Ossie asks.

There is no effect. You require a keyhole, and the lean-tos have latches. The closest keyholes would be somewhere on the Thunder Serpent.

Chiu clatters away at breakfast while she waits your report.

The spider turns and heads deeper into the dimly lit arena, clearly expecting you to follow it. You can see now that the chamber is far longer than the space in which you fought the Metal Spider – you cannot see the end of it.


"Oh, guess I do need a door."
Cloud mumbles as he puts the key in his pocket and steps out of his lean-to.
"You think it'd be safe to open up a door on the Thunder Serpent?" He asks Chiu, "There's… been a lot of things since yesterday, and since he is with the Crimson King you think opening a door to Gullveig's for them to see would be safe?"


Cerulean watches it at first, but get the hint suddenly and hurries to catch up with it until she's at a calmer walking pace.
"Woah…this place is huge! Do you little guys take care of the place all yourselves?"


Alder happily accepts both the fruit and fish, finding a place nearby to take a seat and eat.
"Plan for today? I… hmm. doing as Cloud suggested wouldn't be a bad idea, and after that… do you think we ought to look around the camp some? Maybe return to where we were searching yesterday?"


"I… I wouldn't," Chiu replies after some hesitation. "Not unless you can find a hidden door somewhere discreet. Oh, what about in the surgeons room? You could pass it off as visiting the infirm. I feel like there's still some unresolved matters with the crime scene, and if the King is the one who's behind the attack, we wouldn't want him to know we're investigating."


"Yea, don't want to draw any more attention onto us than needed. Not sure what the other's plans are yet so I'll see what's going on. If anything else there should be doors around here somewhere since Cerulean was still out exploring through some ruins last night."
Cloud says as he steps outside to join up with the others.



"I have to call the ship and get a few things ironed out," Cutlass explains to Ossie.

"Then, we're going to start delving into that temple to get the control rod for these obsidian automatons."

Cutlass just eats a modest helping of fruit. It's all her tiny body needs.


The three of you meet up where Ossie and Splendid sit near the center of your small camp. In short order, Juniper Yumeno trots over, and is an odd sight; she's wearing her usual fancy dress, and fanning herself with her peculiar fan, but she's sweating, and panting slightly.

"Phew!" she exhales, trotting around a bit as she catches her breath. "Good morning everyone! Welp, goodbye now!"

Before anyone can get in a word, Juniper wriggles out of her dress in a single swift motion, and flings herself into the lake for a swim.

"I see that the bad news about her being possessed and hypnotized hasn't marred her athleticism," Splendid says.

Ossie turns to Cutlass. "Alright, Captain. While you call the ship, I'll check in with Cerulean. She spent the night in the Temple, and may have made some progress there."

The spider offers no response, but you somehow get the feeling he would if he were capable of it.

As you follow the spider, you are, bit by bit, wave by wave, set upon by a strange feeling of vertigo, and a slight disorientation. But, strangely, it is not an altogether unpleasant thing, as other instances of vertigo and disorientation tend to be.

The cause, you soon discern, seems to be the hallway in which you walk.

With each further step you take down the hall, a piece of it – comes away. Parts of the stonework pull back at your approach, vanishing to reveal a strange sub-space, hidden just behind the material world in which you walk. In that sub-space, you see gears turning, and pistons pumping, wires coiling, warm at a distance. The peculiar machinery is all of a muted gold, bearing their own slight radiance, but it is marred and dirty, and you sense that it has not been witnessed by a living soul in quite some time – let alone maintained. And though the hall has no twists nor turns, nor apparent changes in elevation, you cannot shake the sense but that you are heading deeper into the earth, in a clockwise fashion.

The spider continues onward, and though Roger and Tabasco have slowed their pace, they seem engrossed in the strange sights and feelings.


Cloud sits down, grabbing a hearty serving of the fruit to munch down on, his appetite larger than normal after the stressful day prior.
"So what is with that temple anyways, must be important if Cerulean went at it alone all night."
He glances back as Juniper quickly introduces and then departs into the lake.
"And what about the crew on the ship, how are they doing?"


Cerulean's pace slows down a bit as she looks around at all the bells and whistles and other fancy bits of technology she knows little to nothing about. She resists the urge to touch some of it since, after all, there'd be plenty of time for looking and touching when things were done.
"Woah…and I thought those deep-sea caves with the glowing stuff was fancy." She giggles at Roger's and Tabasco's reactions and motions for them to not fall too far behind as she keeps following the spider.
"So…you're not gonna try and turn me all mechanical and stuff, right? Not sure I'd be able to swim if that is the case down here."


Alder hums a little at that, and says "Sometimes, when one is faced with trauma, they try to slide back into normal things- it helps them not focus as much on it." He settles down next to Splendid to eat while they talk.

"She seemed to be doing okay last we heard… I think. I hope she is still doing well."



Cutlass grimaces as Ossie suggests she do something that separates the two of them.

She looks around to make sure no one else is paying attention to the two of them. She speaks in a lower volume. "I-I'm sorry," she says, slightly blushing. "I'm really bad these social things. A-are we… not on good terms?"


Again, the spider has no response – except the chittering of many, many legs upon the stone. You notice that, without warning, it is no longer just the one spider who leads you, but rather many more – and indeed, there are other Watchkeeper animals, of other sizes and shapes, who walk with you. Where they have come from is unknown, but they have a reverent air about them, walking with eyes slightly lowered. Not one of them walks directly down the middle of the hallway path, even as more and more of it breaks away to reveal the mechanical backing. Between the minute gaps between pipes and wires and gears here and there, you can see glimpses of some color, like the light of the night sky.

There is a small group of the Watchkeepers who deliberately crowd about you, corralling you in such a way as to keep you and your pets from walking in the center of the hall. They take absolute care to leave the center of the hall empty.

In time, all of the stone hall breaks away, yet there is wide enough piping below you that you are able to walk onward. Even with the floor itself gone, the Watchkeepers maintain their reverence. In short order, you see what are, without doubt, the objects of that reverence.


Sitting amidst the machinery, you see a group of mechanical beings, of humanoid, draconic, and avian shapes, and many others – the group does not seem to be overlarge, but for whatever reason, you are unable to get a proper count of how many there are, as they sit in the darkness. They look somewhat like the Watchkeepers, without the obsidian plating; they look incomplete, as if an echo of something now distantly missing. In their hands they possess tools and bits of metal. With glacially slow and imperfect movements, they attempt to build Watchkeeper skeletons. But you notice them often failing, dropping their tools.

Despite the decrepit nature of the mechanical beings, the Watchkeepers stand with reverence and respect before them.


Ossie gawks at you as if you'd just grown a third eye, then leans in to maintain privacy. "What…? I'm just trying to help you to get multiple things done at once. I learned recently that Conches can do multi-way calls. If you really want to do it all yourself, just do that."

Splendid looks on at Juniper's swimming technique (with purely platonic athletic admiration), eating her breakfast all the while. "Now that ya mention it, she's probably also tryin' to keep her mind off of Cycle. Those two were quite the pair – but I don't know. Hearing that there's hypnosis involved to hide their demonic possession, and that the Crimson King 'bought' them, makes me wonder just how much of them is really real."

Ossie looks back your way. "I haven't looked in on the crew still aboard the Thunder Serpent yet, so we ought to do that quickly. If there's fishy business going on, we might be able to slip in while Kukulcan's crew is making their morning preparations. Captain, with your permission, I'd like to get that underway. Perhaps some of the nearby Beesting members who are spying on us would like to sub out for guard duty."



Cutlass's face grows even redder. "I- okay. I'm sorry. I misread the situation, I guess. It's just, last night you made it clear you didn't like some of the things I'm doing. And, now you're suggesting we separate when, in the past, we've both agreed we should stay together at all times when we're not on the ship. I just…"

Cutlass sighs, growing more uncomfortable. "F-forget it," she stammers. "I'll go make my conch call. You do your thing. We're reconvene after."

Cutlass steps away to call Schnitzel and Make Believe.


Before you can step away, Ossie shakes her head. "One technique that Schwartzwelt was insistent on imparting to us was the ability to let things go. Like with the other techniques, I'm a bit of a prodigy; I forget more things than I remember. So, if you're worried about me being angry at you this morning, then you should stop worrying. This might as well be breaking news to me, for all that it's affecting me emotionally."

Make Believe picks up after the first ring – not that it does much good. Schnitzel takes significantly longer to pick up, but eventually he does, and the first thing you hear is a pained groan. "Mmmm… yea, yea, what is it."


"They're all together, right? I can make a check in on them while you guys get all planned."
Cloud offers, finished the last of his fruit and liking the syrup-leave holders clean.


"Hmm… I imagine more than you might expect- it would be a little tedious to make up every little thing about them, wouldn't it?" he suggests, wiggling his talons and trying out the bracers again. He won't let them wander far- just around in circles a few times, before bringing them back.

Alder glances between the two of them and decides to keep quiet for the most part.


Splendid keeps a close eye on those hands of yours, and occasionally fixes you with quite the powerful look, perhaps to deter – or encourage – any more funny business with them.


Cerulean looks around at the Watchkeepers around her, then back to the odd and old machines. Watching them mess up as often as they do fills her with a sense of pity. She stands for a bit, but not sure what to do, and also not being one to simply stay still, she tests her luck and takes a step forward towards them, looking at the odd gathering of machines, as well as the ones that lead her here.



Cutlass frowns, but says no more to Ossie.

"I see you're sober now," Cutlass says with a grin to Schnitzel. "Find Make Believe. I want to speak with the two of you. Alone. There's a mole among us, so I wish to be as discreet about this as possible."


The most Alder tries is prodding her leg, but he doesn't want to risk too much.


"Make Believe's right here," Schnitzel says, his voice straining. "But you're too far away for telepathy. He says he can hear us, he'll just be busy doing some jury-rigged hangover therapy with his stickers on me. I'll relay his wooooooordsssss… phew! Hey, give me more of that one, kid, that one's working!"

You feel a griffoness tail poke you in the hindquarters.

Ossie steps away from Cutlass, frowning in frustration at her troubles with the captain. "Okay. Cloud, I have no authority to command you, but I suggest you take at least one person with you to the infirmary aboard the Thunder Serpent. It's risky considering her possession, but Juniper Yumeno would be your best bet; she could put up a convincing cover for you if things go awry.

"Anyway, Splendid, Alder – I can't order you around either. But, if you want my advice, it'd be best to head for the Temple to recover the staff of the High Mechpriest with Cutlass."

Splendid shrugs. "I don't think any of us are bent out of shape about you giving us direction. Separate crews though we are, we're all of one goal. No need to be apologetic."

"Hrm?" Ossie asks, sounding distracted. "Oh. Fine – I'm in an off mood."

As you step forward into the mystical-mechanical space, more details, hiding just out of sight, reveal themselves to you. Each of the mechanical craftsmen seems to grow larger than they appeared when you saw them at a distance. You only take but a step, but even so, the shadows that surround them, cast by the light hidden behind the machinery, seem to be the shadows of giants.

And what more, the mechanical craftsmen seem to be sitting about in relaxed postures, contrasting with the holy reverence offered to them by the Watchkeepers. Every now and again, one of the craftsmen will look at another, and jaw away in silence, as if saying something – but all you can hear is the clacking and grinding of his ancient metal bones. The others respond to the one who speaks. Some bob their heads in a pantomime of laughter. Still others jut out their chins, a gesture of macho posturing and banter. You even catch glimpses of one craftsman looking at the project in its hands with a childlike fascination, as if the Watchkeeper he builds was not a weapon, but a thing of intense mystery.

The mechanical craftsmen sit in a crooked circle, with many spaces among them, where perhaps others sat. In one of the spaces of the circle, you see a most strange thing, propped up on a heap of scrap metal – a stone coffin. The coffin lays askew, as if plopped down carelessly by some giant's hand. Though it is askew, fresh offerings of fruit and drinks, served in stone cups, surround the tomb with meticulous and obviously reverent care. But most likely, not by the mechanical craftsmen – they jaw at the coffin with the same strange banter with which they regard each other.


Cerulean simply looks around with a great bit of confusion as all these details suddenly become more visible to her. But in that confusion was shark-like curiosity. Granted, not making her want to bite, but it was definitely helping her in wanting to keep stepping forward instead of staying still or turning back. And step forward she does, making sure to keep it slow and steady as to not, perhaps, give herself a sensory overload or something.



Roll #1 6 = 6


A shuddering of displeasure passes through the Watchkeepers as you step into the circle of giant craftsmen. A few of the smaller Watchkeepers step forward to retrieve you, but halt, once they see what happens next –


All at once, the mechanical craftsmen turn to look at you, as if just now noticing your presence. The weight of an unknown number of eyes bears down upon you as they size you up. Even now, you cannot tell how many there are. Even with your electroreception, your mind seems to enter a fog whenever you try to discern the giants' number. It is as if the giants themselves are not fully there.

The giant sitting beside you motions to the giant sitting near the coffin, who sets down the Watchkeeper in his hands, reaches to the coffin, and retrieves one of the drink offerings, as well as a set of the mysterious tools with which the giants make their Watchkeepers.

The giants pass down the drink and tools until they make their way down to you – and it is as you receive the tools that you realize there is something quite familiar about the one sitting at your side.

The giant beside you is of a curious structure – humanoid, but with an avian torso and limbs, and a skull that resembles both an eagle's, and a sea-serpent's. He wears an ancient crown of gold and gemstones, which resembles the crest of a cockatiel. In fact – much of his body, as you can tell with electroreception, is adorned in old and decrepit jewelry, barely containing hints of its previous magnificence.

As you look upon this familiar radiance, he seems to have a strange radiance of his own, constituting a vague, vaporous outline of some kind of body.

A body of teal.
A head of sunset gold.
And the wings of a Vola.

Each of them, reminiscent of Kukulcan.

This familiar giant hands over the tools with a flourish, and sets the drink at your side. With another motion, he gestures before you, where you see bits of metal laying in a heap, ready for the taking.


Cerulean can only blink as she seems a bit seized up from a myriad of emotions of the confusion and relief variety. She still tries to look around at all of them despite their numbers, but feels oddly at ease due to their familiarity.
"Kukulcan? You're here? But…up there and…taking a long nap?" She asks very confused before the drink and tools are handed to her. This seems to quiet her as her curiosity of the new things takes over her previous one. She takes a sip of the drink first, slightly worried about how long its been in that coffin, but perhaps putting her trust in the familiar figure to not have malicious intent.

She then blinks a bit at the tools before gently taking them, looking back at the figure with a confused stare.
"I…uhh…I gotta admit: I've never really used tools like these before," she admits nervously as she examines the heap of metal before her.


The drink is fresh, but blindingly strong. Some kind of fruit alcohol, which fights and kicks on the way down, and burns afterward.

As you manage to swallow your sip, the scene about you becomes somewhat clearer than before, like the sight of something coming up from underwater. Now, you are able to see more of the giants, more details and flesh, but they are still murky, unclear in number and kind. You catch bits of their voices, but their words are indistinct.

The figure who resembles Kukulcan sets his own tools to the side, then makes a prominent show of sorting through the metals that lay before him, taking a piece of scrap and inspecting it this way and that, setting it here or there. He remains silent through the process, but seems to be showing you the steps involved in working them.

Once he's gathered a suitable pile of metals, he takes the tools. Though they are old, and decorated in the style of shamanic totems and fetishes, their forms and functions are still apparent. Hammers, tongs, grindstones, pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, augers. He takes a hammer, and it gleams with a current of lightning. He begins to beat and work the metal, and though there is no flame nor forge available, the metal curves to his designs, molding as easily as wet clay.

The strangely familiar giant takes a slower pace than the other craftsmen as they resume their work, so that he may demonstrate the steps to you.


Cerulean coughs a bit from how strong the drink is as the shark doesn't experience alcohol too much, let alone of this strength. She gives her eyes a rub as things become clearer and she begins to hear more.

She watches the familiar giant demonstrate and her tail perks up and lightly sways as her curiosity is being sated. It looked easy enough that even she could do it. In fact, it was even reminding her of the stuff Etch does around the ship.

Feeling more confident now, Cerulean takes a bigger swig of the drink and pushes past the strength of it as best as a novice can. She then picks up the tools given to her, and seems to be trying to think ahead by applying her Aura as the giant's tools had his become electrified.


Much of your body is rapt with a wondrous, and sweet-tasting pain as you knock back more of the intoxicating alcohol. Your Aura feels extra smooth and liquid as you conjure it, and it flows with little effort into the tool, coursing through it inside and out, allowing you to control it as you please.

When your eyes finally stop watering from the drink, more of the giant craftsmen become clear – but perhaps it may have been better if they had not. As their bodies become more visible, you see the depths of their weakness. The giants' bodies are fragile, brittle, emaciated, old; skin wrinkled, feathers falling out, chitinous carapaces filled with cracks. Even now, though you can see some giants clearly, others remain nothing but silhouettes and vague outlines. Those giants you can see are diverse in race and size and even sex; some appear more like the mortal races, while others seem more like divine, heavenly monsters.

Some have no faces. Others have partly blank and blurry faces, while others work away, despite having no head whatsoever. Others are missing arms, legs, and still others bleed perpetually from gaping wounds in their chest or torso, their blood vanishing into darkness.

But that does not stop them from talking, laughing and working. One gestures to you with his tool, and says –

"Hey, Thunder Serpent. I was using those tools. Take them back from the outsider."
"Oh, shut up," the familiar giant, the one addressed as Thunder Serpent, says. "She made a lot of ruckus getting down here. Let her take a souvenir back."


His voice sounds nothing like Kukulcan's. You see that he works the metal before him with a lightning-blue Aura. You recall that, when you saw Kukulcan fighting the Watchkeepers in the Temple's upper levels, that his Aura was a golden color – so too was Kukulcan's lightning.

You look up at the one who shares Kukulcan's title of Thunder Serpent. His face is the most clear out of all the giants sitting there. He looks – somewhat like Kukulcan. His face is blurry, the details vague. But you can tell that the resemblance is not perfect, as if it were an unfocused snapshot of Kukulcan.

Or perhaps the reverse.




"And, you're sure no one else is around?" Cutlass double-checks.

As soon as he's sure, she continues on. "Like I said, there's a mole among us. That combined with the fact that the I'm fairly certain we're being spied on in a variety of other ways and it's become obvious that the Crimson King and his guards can possess people, we need a way to detect liars. You two are the best for that job."

"I'm thinking some sort of combined aura power like what Hurscurs and Qarrowmarrow did back on Kaco island. My idea is that Schnitzel develops a power that can detect if someone is lying or withholding truth. Then, Make Believe works in conjunction with that - most likely with stickers - to determine what exactly it is they are lying about and what the truth is."

"I want to reiterate: there are spies among us. I chose you two for this not just because you are the best equipped for it, but also because I trust you two the most. I can't rule anyone else out. So, you have to keep this absolutely secret from EVERYONE else, understood. If people know the power you're developing, they're try to come up with a counter to it. More importantly, someone COULD come up with a counter to it. Whether or not someone does, the fact that they COULD if they found out about it makes this whole thing a lot less certain. We need this certainty right now. So, it needs to stay secret. People can't counter what they don't know about."

"Thoughts? No pun intended," she adds after a moment with a bit of a chuckle.


The talk of spies helps Schnitzel suppress his hung-over rumblings and grumblings, and he listens with rapt attention. "Yeah…" he whispers. "We can do that. The kid says we shouldn't discuss this outside of his telepathy from now on. Wait… uh, you sure? No, that name sounds stupid. Hey, watch your mouth – er, thoughts – you little bastard! No, put that sticker back, I need it! Alright, fine, fine, no need to torture me."

Schnitzel clears his throat. "Make Believe says he already has a name picked out: Argument Armament. Now see, I also have a name for it, and mine's better, it's Confessions: Act of Contrition! Whaddya think? Perfect, right?"


"Recovering the staff seems like a good idea, yes." he says, shrugging a little at Ossie's comment as he re-attaches his talons.

"An off-mood? If there is a way we could help, please let us know- this is a bad time to be distracted."



"I feel like Confessions fits better, but I don't think Contrition is quite right. More like Coercion. Did the Bee Queens share a name between the two powers? I don't know how I feel about that. Theoretically, at least Schnitzel may be able to do his half whenever."

"What if you split the name in two? Schnitzel's half is Confession. Make Believe's half is Coercion. Together, you have the single group power: Confession Coercion. I think that's pretty cool."


"Ehh…" Schnitzel grumbles. "I feel like coercion is more of Miss Sunshine's gimmick. I don't wanna step on her hooves. Yeah, Make Believe's not feeling it either. Look, we'll workshop it later, we're going to be late for breakfast, and if either of us is late, people are going to start asking questions."

Schnitzel hangs up.


Alder chirps a little, and responds with a poke of his own.


Cerulean spends her tool time testing out the tools first hand, looking more like a kid playing with his dad's tools compared to the old craftsmen around her. Once she got the hand of things, she fiddled around until she made something…roughly like one of the smaller Watchkeeper dogs that helped her against the giant spider.

As the voices come in nice and clear, and her own head got a bit more clear after the big swig, she looks around her at the more clearer-ish shapes. She looks up at Thunder Serpent, rubbing the back of her head but with a good-natured laugh.
"Yeah, sorry about that. But it was actually kinda fun." Her smile goes to a face of realization.
"Oh wait, I can hear you all now! If you're not busy…well, too busy, could you maybe answer some questions? The spiders are cute and all, but they kinda don't talk much…at all, hahah."


>Applying temp aura point since she is channeling her Aura for the tools

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5


You make a skeleton for a fierce-looking bulldog Watchkeeper. The Thunder Serpent whistles to one of the Watchkeeper spiders, who hurries away anon. Soon it comes back, bearing with it large chunks of obsidian stone, and drops them before the two of you. The Thunder Serpent takes a chisel, and makes a show of demonstrating how to cut and shape the tool to one's aims.

"Why are you apologizing? It's the whole point of the place," the Thunder Serpent says. "We wouldn't put an obstacle course down here for it to go completely unused."

As you request some answers, the Serpent nods, focusing on his chiseling.


Ossie sighs and shakes her head with defeat. "Not unless you can manipulate the Captain into not being so strange."

Splendid suppresses a squawk, then yanks on your tail with hers. You her Juniper gasping from the lake. Her face is quite red, and she soon submerges herself so as not to be scandalized further by such raunchy actions.


"Oh! Yeah! I guess that does make sense," she says as she watches how to the chisel the obsidian.

She gives it a go herself, then decides to ask as she works.
"So…wow, where do I start? Oh! So you're Thunder Serpent, but there's another person I know that looks a lot like you also calling himself the Thunder Serpent. But you're not him so…are there a bunch more Thunder Serpents?"


Alder frowns a little at that, and says "I am afraid she will likely remain strange… though, maybe some aspects could be worked on, over time. She seems to have a… lot going on."

Alder lets out another little chirp, and snickers a little before deciding to coil his tail around Splendid's and leave it there for the time being.


The Thunder Serpent pauses to think for a moment.

Then, retaking the obsidian in his hand, he begins to chisel anew, picking up his pace significantly.

>roll for your own chiseling

"There is only one Thunder Serpent, and I am he. Only the High Mechpriests may impersonate me on festival nights, flaying the divine night sky for its skin, to fashion a mask in my image. But the last of the High Mechpriests lies dead before us," he says, gesturing to the coffin.

"What you have encountered is an illicit impostor."

The change is minute, but noticeable – the giant's face changes, blurry though it remains. A slight widening of the eyes, a narrowing of the shape of the beak. He now looks less like Kukulcan, after having decried him as false.


Cerulean chisels and listens, nodding along and taking note of how the image was getting less blurry.

"Kukulcan. He said he made these guys and was trying to talk to them or something," she explains as she works, focusing on her work as she talks.
"He was gonna help us because we're kinda having some issues with these big, giant metal guys who can go invisible in the light. Who are they, anyway, cause one was stuck to your spider when I faced against it."

Roll #1 6 = 6


It takes quite a while, but you fashion a suitable head for your bulldog guardian, fierce and bold. What remains now is the body, and the limbs. Perhaps, as your skill grows, you may branch out into more unconventional designs…

"We are the ones who carve violence from stone, who craft war from steel. If an illicit impostor would claim these as his own, he should come down here himself and become calloused by the tools of gods."

As for your second point, the Thunder Serpent thinks. "We know not, but they have made themselves our most ancient enemy. They have come from the Vault, whose ravenous maw opens far, far to the south, and has devoured much of this Island. 'Twas we who sunk Cuauhtemoc when it became clear that, whatever the Vault was, it was assuredly one of the calamities who come out to shake the world to its very fundaments every few epochs: The Hunger."


Cerulean smiles at her handiwork, surprising herself a bit even. She picks up another piece and gets to work as the explanation goes on.

"Well, he tried to, but he got pretty messed up on one of the things on the first floor. To be honest, I'm kinda surprised I got all the way here, but it was fun!"

"Yeah, I was told of a vault thing. I was told of a control rod or something down here that was needed," she frowns a bit as she works on her obsidian, "but if you're saying Kukulcan isn't who he says he is…than maybe I shouldn't be looking for it?"

Roll #1 3 = 3


"…Good idea," Cloud says, realizing going along on a ship ran by the Crimson King would be a horrible idea.
Cloud gets up, taking a few steps to the lake.
"Hey, Juniper! Can you show me where the infirmary is?"
He shouts over to the swimming pony.


As for your second attempt… well, practice will make perfect. You can probably still buff out the cracks.

"Regardless of who or what this 'Kukulcan' is, he has the right idea," the Thunder Serpent says. He gestures to the giant who sits beside the coffin again, who rolls his eyes with mock annoyance for the inconvenience. He stands, and opens the coffin. You are able to see that mounds of skulls of various races are interred within, arrayed so as to look at the object in the coffin's center – a tall staff.

It is, unlike everything else in this strange and ancient space, unmarred in its beauty. Its body is white, and trimmed at the pommel and various rings about its length, in gold. Its overall appearance resembles that of some kind of cryptic key. The head of the staff is a curious lattice of metal and crystal, arrayed in numerous patterns evocative of star-charts, or perhaps mechanical diagrams – as you look upon it, it seems to be both.

"I don't know who he is, or what," the Thunder Serpent says. "And we cannot leave to find out. "But as you have reached us here, by law of the island, you have won what you have sought. Whether you use it yourself, or entrust it to this illicit impostor, will be a matter of your own judgment."

He continues to carve at the piece of obsidian. "Stay awhile and finish your project. I have something else I must make ere you go."

Juniper emerges from the water with a gasp, averting her eyes from Splendid and Alder's displays of affection. "Sure. Are you ready to head out now? I can take you there."
"You all might as well," Ossie says. "I think I ought to hang back with the Captain to see what's got her bothered. It won't do for either of us to be distracted, as you said, Alder."


"Woah…pretty," she remarks as she looks at the staff. She looks at her obsidian as she notices her distractions causing a dip in quality, so she tries to refocus on her task for a short while.
>Aura point

"Yeah, truth be told, I was gonna stick around a bit as well. The little spiders back there I think want me to help put it back together after I hit it a lot, and the dogs were too cute and friendly and helpful to leave broken and all, you know," she explains to Thunder Serpent, getting a fond smile on her face as she talks about them.
"And the spiders looked so sad and hopeful at me how could I say no?"

"So wait, I gotta ask: who is everyone else here…there," she remarks, pointing to the skulls that she assumes correspond to the other figures around her somehow, "or…however things go around here."

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9


"Yea, I'm good to go now."
He says, taking notice of Juniper keeping her eyes away from Alder and Splendid.
"In a bit of a rush, eh?"


"Shut up," Juniper says. "I have exercise to get to."

You make a mighty chestpiece for your bulldog Watchkeeper. The limbs should be easy enough to carve in one fell swoop in comparison to the head and torso – now's the chance to trick him out, if you so wish.

>one more crafting roll required for your creation; repairing the hounds and Giant Spider may be defaulted on in exchange for spending most of the day upon it

"The former Head Mechpriests," the Thunder Serpent says. "They are joined to us in death, but they are not us. We are something older, and far different, as we have been in all our forms throughout the ages – once we were but high stone… a strong wind… the blasts of thunder… the glimmering of magic upon obsidian… the howl of the sea… the scorching sun… the wondrous moon…"

His words bring to mind what Kukulcan said about the nature of godhood, and its unity with Being itself.

"Whatever we have become, whatever we are now, and whatever we will become, are all but machinations of your kind," the Thunder Serpent continues. "Gods made in your image. Reflections in crystal, and glass, and water."


"Ah- squeamish, I guess. I believe I am ready to go, yes." he remarks, before nodding a bit to Ossie. "If the two of you get over…" he gestures a little, not sure what to put it as "-then please, tell us over the conch. Less so for coming to help, and moreso to know you are well again."


Cloud snickers.
"Alright, alright. Let's get to the infirmary and then you can get back to your laps."


"I don't know about squeamish – she's probably all a-fluster because her own griffon is 'occupied,' so to speak," Splendid whispers. "Could you imagine that? Being with your lover when you and she are possessed by demons?"
"Somehow I don't see the Crimson King going for the Yellow Jester…" Ossie whispers. "But Juniper is still being denied Cycle Kick's ball–"
"Hey, shut up and hurry up!" Juniper shouts, climbing out of the lake to get cleaned up.
Splendid's head snaps toward Ossie with surprise. "My word!"
"What?" Ossie asks. "His ball game skills. She has nobody to shoot hoops with."
Splendid narrows her eyes at Ossie's atrocious lie.

Juniper leads you and Splendid back to the Thunder Serpent. The motley crew is making their preparations for the morning, finishing breakfast and stretching as they plan the day's tasks. Neither Kukulcan, Two Reeds, nor the Crimson King is anywhere to be seen, but Sir Diamantaire stands watch upon the deck.

>Make stealth rolls if attempting to enter unseen

"Alright," Juniper says, as you reach the edge of the ship's camp. "How you wanna do this?"


Cloud shudders at the thought of demon possession as Splendid brings it up.
"I try not to. Been through enough demon stuff the last day alone for one lifetime."

Cloud follows with the others back to the Thunder Serpent. He looks to Juniper at her question.
"Can't we just walk in? Don't tell me Kukulcan has some protocol for visitors."


"Huh, that's…woah," she says, not quite too sure what to say in response. The answer was of very grand scale for her, and oddly poetic. As she works on the limbs, she gets a creative idea as she gives it bracelets, but tries to see if she could make it so the bracelets could rotate into wheels.
>spending last point

"Then, I must ask: do you guys know of the buildings and stuff outside of here? Because there was a city we came to that was abandoned. I had a gun that could tell me information about things, but for once, the gun didn't have all the answers."

"Oh! And in the trees was this big…structure thing guarded by monkeys and spiders like these. I think it was some sort of magic network thing…I dunno, magic isn't my strong suit."

>I will spend the time and default to fix the pack of doggos and giant spider

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3


"Ah- fair enough. That would put me out of sorts, for sure." he says, frowning a little bit. He'll follow along after Juniper, trying to keep an eye out for any sign of Kukulcan or the others.
>Perception: [1d10]

"As for what to do… I could try distracting the watchman, if needbe."

Roll #1 6 = 6


>Another craft…

>…and a perception


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


Alder looks about, and confirms that neither Kukulcan, Two Reeds, nor the Crimson King are anywhere outside. Only Sir Diamantaire and the mooks are about.

Juniper shrugs to Cloud. "You could probably be fine just walking in, but sometimes the crew can get possessive of their treasure. They may not believe you if you tell them you're just interested in seeing your crewmates in the surgeons ward."

"Indeed," the Thunder Serpent says. "Pieces of the place are gone, aren't they? Even we cannot recall them."

You make some sturdy limbs for your bulldog, and in a moment of inspiration, you see how you might include some extra functionality within the tail…

>pick any skill or combination of skills worth up to 2 points, for your Watchkeeper.

Something about the Thunder Serpent looks off to you now… you can't quite place it, but his appearance has subtly changed.


"Believe or not, that's the only place I'd walk too. Plus if they're real pirates they should have their treasure guarded up so somepony can't just waltz in and take it."
Cloud says, opting to walk to the ship without sneaking around.


"Mmm, very well- let us try simply walking in first then, yes?"



Cutlass rolls her eyes at herself for getting caught up in their naming nonsense.


Cutlass returns to wherever the others are.


As you climb aboard, most of the Thunder Serpent's crew offer little more than nods or grumbled greetings. They look a bit severe, probably suffering from the same affliction that all pirates know well – hangovers. They mostly stay out of your way as you head for the entrance to the ship's interior.

Though, once you get near the door, Sir Diamantaire, a cloud of floating dust surrounding a series of crystals at his core, floats over toward you. You see that he is posted up in front of the door to Kukulcan's quarters, which is situated above the door to the ship's interior.

"Can I help youse?" Sir Diamantaire asks.


Just before Schnitzel hangs up, you hear him mumbling names under his breath.
"Nonstop Debate… Perjury! No… Ace Attorney… Adhesive Attorney… how can I incorporate stickers into all this…?"

see also: >>747548


Seeing as how this was mechanical, and Cerulean was noticing a slight trend with things as of late here, she opts to use the tail space to help it generate extra electricity to use outside of powering itself. Also taking a page from her own book, she gives the bulldog Watchkeeper some extra jaw strength so it could latch onto something about as well as she can.

>Giving the Watchkeeper Elementalist Electric and Grapple

Cerulean hums as she works, not noticing the change at first, but it starts bugging her enough to ask.
"Hey…did you do something to yourself? Dunno why, but feels like something changed about you," she hums in thought, "maybe I need to drink a bit more of…whatever this is."


Cloud goes to cover his face as the dust cloud floats towards him, forgetting that one of Kukulcan's crew was an elemental of sorts.
"Oh, it's you," He says, lowering his hoof, "Nah, we're just going to check on our crew in the infirmary."
He says casually.



Roll #1 9 = 9


At last, it clicks – the Thunder Serpent has regained, at least in part, his passing resemblance to Kukulcan, which had vanished when the god denied the captain. The cause, however, is yet unknown.


"Don't overthink it," the Thunder Serpent says. "As I am now, I may appear differently to different people, depending all on one's perspectives and beliefs. When a tale is known by only one or two souls, it is they and they alone who have control over the tale's contents. When a tale is known by many, it becomes stronger in the telling. But the Hunger has consumed most who knew me, who knew us. As such, there are few now who may dictate who and what we look like. Only when one of decisive will and charisma arises to settle the story to the masses, will my form take shape again."

At last, the bulldog Watchkeeper is complete… but it lays there, inert and without life. The Thunder Serpent looks to you. "Well well. You're outstripping my teachings, I see. I trust then, that I can leave the final steps to you to bring it to life."


"But…didn't have an appearance of your own? I mean, changing shape is cool and all, but I'd be kinda bummed if I just changed into whatever anybody said I looked like, even if it wasn't true."

Cerulean looks back with a nod.
"Yeah, I think so," she says and takes out one of the soul rubies from the dog pack. She tries to put it where she remembers them being housed.

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