No.743859[Last 50 Posts]
The party have concluded their business in Withick, having made an ally of Sprig, gaining a new companion in the form of the griffon Sir Gawain, and being rejoined by Aegis. However, not all is well. They have been effectively forced to flee the peaceful swamp town due to a new threat, a nefarious assassin and old enemy of Hermodur's called Gavrilo. Employed by Lysander, Gavrilo has delivered a mysterious dagger to the party, its purpose unknown.
Not all is despair, however. The party have decided on a heading after much debate; they have opted to head southeast, retracing their original journey and traveling back towards Durenwol Fen. There, they hope to strike a deal with the Beldam, a captive spirit of the swamp, and have her keep the Cuckoo's Egg safe from harm in exchange for her freedom. To do that, however, they will first need to deal with their old acquaintance Black Pudding, an adversary of the Beldam. With his current whereabouts unknown, the party have opted to follow his trail, heading to his last known whereabouts: The cursed hamlet of Larkstead, which has been plagued by a false Oneiromancer. This mysterious entity is a puppet of Lysander and Grosvenor, intended to act as a threat to distract from their true intentions…
She blinks. "Makes sense. I just hope we're ready for him, when the time comes. If not…" She lingers on the possibility of failure. It seems to be eating her.>>743342>>743343>>743340>>743339>>743336>>743322>everyone
The ship lowers closer to the ground to get a better view of the aftermath of your cannon assault. You see that there's three surviving Mummers, stumbling to get away and escape into the surrounding wilderness.
"Maybe we should let them go," Aurora remarks. "Having more reports of us in this area might throw Lysander and his goons off our trail.""Should we land to look around?"
"I say we head to those ruins over there and plant the decoy Egg like we planned," says Marisol, folding her arms. "If nothing else it'll buy us some time."
"Not to mention the possibility of further adventure!" Gawain chimes in enthusiastically.
"Maybe someone should
have a quick look down there, but I do wanna check out the ruins too after." I step away from the guardrail. "Anyway, yeah. I say we should let'em go. I'm sure even if somehow they still wanna attack the little village the guards'll be on high alert after the cannon blast."
"I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Lysander is setting himself up for defeat. When the time comes, he will die by his own designs.">>743860
"Decoy egg sounds like a good idea," Hermodur nods.
"Hrm… a quick look couldn't hurt- then we can check out the ruins. As for the bandits… yeah, let's let 'em go."
"We zhould let zhem zee uz heading towardz ze ruinz, zo zhere iz zhat rumor too. I plan to zpend ze time we're zhere creating many zeveranze runez around the ruinz, az zhey will exzpect uz to try and hide it az bezt az pozzible. It will alzo hide ze true nature of ze egg until inveztigated phyzically." Zunden says, continuing to try and shape the wood with a creation rune.
[1d10] CreationRoll #1 1 = 1
''I'll follow along then, I want to be there if you run into something bad lurking in those ruins… By the way, have you found a good use of the Liber Animarum while I was gone?''
"I have barely been on ze zhip in ze time you left."
"What makes you so sure?" she asks. "He's striking deals with people left and right to expand his influence. Grosvenor included. …I don't know how much her plans have changed, but I think we should be more afraid of her than of him.">>743877
You gather some dirt, wood and stone from the ground below and form it into the shape of an egg. It holds its form for a moment, then just crumbles apart. You now have a pile of dirt on the floor of the ship. A Servitor appears with a dustpan.>>743880>>743877>>743872>>743875>>743861"Let's see what we can find then."
Etrigan lowers the ship to ground level, and a Servitor lowers the ladder for ground access. There's not much in the immediate area that you can see, mostly dirt and shattered stone, but you might be missing something.>roll for looting
I take a look around, taking my bag with me to make sure to grab some dirt.
And also shoveling dirt into my bag.Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
"Exactly. He is the least threatening part of his own operation. Everyone hates him. Even the people he employs. It's only a matter of time before that sort of situation catches up to him.">>743888
Hermodur inspects the stone to see if it's anything special.
[1d10] lootingRoll #1 2 = 2
Aegis shines up a light and does a through search, carefully pressing down on cobblestones and the walls for hidden buttons or triggers>>743889
The wisp of light produced by the crystal mare also shone on the Lapis Norv was holding, drawing her attention to it ''Master Norvegicus. I believe that belonged to me'' She stated stoically, standing still
Zunden continues shaping, frustrated.
[1d10] CreationRoll #1 9 = 9
'1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
Rabi will take a look around for a little!Roll #1 9 = 9
At first I'm not totally sure what she means. I tilt my head and knit my brow, about to say as much when it dawns on me and my eyes widen a little. "Oh!" I say, flashing her a sheepish smile. "Yeah. Sorry. You just said-" I pull the lapis over my head and hold it out. "Sorry."
''No need to apologize, I'm the one who forgot to ask for it. Thank you for keeping it safe. I know it must be hard for you to part with such a nice gem''
You don't find much to loot amidst the debris.>>743889
You grab some of the dirt. As you all look around, Marisol arches an eyebrow. "What are you doing?">>743890
"Even if it does, it's still a dragon," she muses. "A dragon that thrives on petty revenge and sadism. Even alone, defeating him will be easier said than done.">>743893
You manage to get the dirt and stone to come together into a coherent shape, roughly the same size, shape and colour as the Egg. Knocking it a bit reveals that it's more or less stable through the power of your runes.>>743894>>743897
As one of the brigands limps away, he inadvertently leaves behind a satchel. Inside, you find two smaller bags: one filled with coins and the other filled with a strange emerald green powder. There is also some sort of key inside, with a bone-shaped motif running across it. It looks valuable, and you can sense some magical energy coming from it.
>Silver rolled a 3
While you don't find anything valuable in the traditional sense, you spot some interesting mushrooms growing near a tree, pale pinkish things with clusters dark red tendrils of some kind. Consulting your notes might yield some information on this strange fungus.
Hermodur waits for the others to decide it's time to go. In the mean time, he surveys the area to make sure there's no one else around waiting to ambush them.
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 7 = 7
Aegis joined the contents of the coin bag with her own, and opened the other bag and sniffed it>>743899>>743897>>743893
She presented the odd green powder and the bone key to the others (Gawain and Marisol included) ''What can you tell me about this?''
Eyeing the mushrooms curiously, I flip through the alchemical guide for information on these strange mushrooms, careful not to disturb them as i search
[1d10] knowledge (just in case)Roll #1 3 = 3
Satisfied with the egg, Zunden investigates the object Aegis presented her, "Let uz zee if I can identify your find."
[1d10] AntiquarianRoll #1 9 = 9
I glance up at Marisol as I shovel handfulls of dirt into my bag. Looking back down, I'm not sure how it isn't obvious. Looking back up at her with furrowed brow, I say, "Collecting dirt?">>743912
"That," I point to the green powder. "Is some kind of green dust. And that," I point to the bone key. "Is clearly a Skeleton Key."
Aegis gives Norv an indecipherable look for a few seconds too long in silence
''I see. And what do you suppose this key is for?''
"Huh. Take a look at this." the stallion says, looking over the key. He chuckles a little as he notices the motif, and says "Maybe it's a skeleton key."
You see one of the brigands peering out from the treeline, making note of everyone around. When he sees you staring back, though, he winces and scurries off into the green. Most likely not the last you've heard of them. "Most likely not the last we've heard of them," Gawain comments.>>743912
"Oh, I've seen this before," says Marisol, referring to the green powder. "Powdered Wildfyre. Very volatile. Handle it with caution."
You recall the strange green liquid that caught aflame in bright green at the castle out of time you stopped at at one point. It must be the same substance in solid form.>>743915
You flip through and quickly find information. Seems like a decent find!
>Death Gripper>A dangerous mushroom found in some parts of the Echoes. When powdered, it is a key ingredient in an incredibly deadly poison known as the Strangler.>>743920
A beat. "…But why?">>743919>>743928
It turns out, that's exactly what it is. This Skeleton Key, from what Zunden can glean, will open any lock, changing size and shape to fit whatever it is applied to. However, it can only be used six times before crumbling to useless dust. "Someone had a sense of humor," Gawain comments as he flies back on board the ship.
"Good," Hermodur responds to Gawain, grimacing at the retreating slaver.
"Oh. Sorry. I bought these metal and wood oranges filled with gears. If you plant the gears they grow into more oranges, meaning I have a constsnt supply of gears, metal, and bits of wood."
''So that is what they planned to do with this'' Aegis carefully puts away the powder ''An easy firestarter like this could be put to a better use than starting forest fires''>>743928>>743920
''So, any lock? Even the non-conventional ones? Do you think this could open the door in the inner part of the City of Tears?''
''…Do you think this could open the egg?''
"Zhere iz no lock to ze egg. Az for ze Zity of Tearz, zhere iz ze chanze it could work." Zunden muses.
"We should head back to ze zhip and get a move on to ze ruinz."
"My, what an exciting find! Something to increase poison potency was just what I needed."
Preparing my bag, I ready my jambiya and carefully cut free the death grippers from the ground, setting them inside.
[1d10] harvestRoll #1 3 = 3
''Truly odd how a common thug could be carrying around something with so much potential. I dont think they planned any good for this other than to escape prison cells if they were caught''
Aegis followed the others back into the ship
"Let's, uh… let's not try that last one, ahaha…" the stallion chucjles, before nodding "And, yeah- it probably could. You'd only have six uses though.">>743938
"Oh- you found something for your poisons? That's great!"
"Indeed. Quite the nasty thing, part of a recipe for a strangler poison when ground into a powder. Just what i need if we ever need somepony poisoned!"
"Strangler poison?" he asks, cocking his head to the side.
"Yes, by the looks of it a powerful paralytic, the victim's airways quickly closed due to swelling. Not very subtle but if imagine a very quick affair."
"Oh. I didn't know you were an inventor. Did you make that device of yours too?" >>743935
"I don't see why it couldn't," says Marisol. "Open the door that is. I know of a secret entrance through the Haventunnel though. It's how Hermodur and I were able to get in.">>743938
You manage to harvest the death grippers and put them away for later use.>>743944>>743950
Marisol's ears perk up. "The Strangler?" she repeats. "You have the recipe for that? It's probably one of the deadliest poisons you can make here in the Echoes. I've only seen its effects once. It's horrible.">>743942>>743940>>743938>>743936>>743933>>743932
You return to the ship and fly over to the nearby ruins. It's little more than the crumbling remains of some sort of underground structure, with stone staircases and corridors dug into the earth and a wall at the top surrounding it all. Looks to have been some strange sort of fortress at one point.
Taking a closer look, you can see the upturned remains of some wooden structures on the lower levels. Looks like the place was ransacked fairly recently. If there was anything outstandingly valuable before, it's probably gone now, but there might be something left over.>roll for looting if desired
Gawain peers over the edge, then back at you, then shrugs a little. "Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained!" He flies into the underground fort to look around.
Rabi blinks a couple of times, before nodding. "A-Ah! That does sound pretty nasty, yeah. The only toxins I've ever dealt with before this were animal venom.">>743953
Rabi hums a little, looking the fort and saying "Guess we're a little late to the party. But, there's no sense in not looking around a little.">[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
''What were the effects?'' Aegis speaks up, snooping in on the conversation
Aegis follows right after ''Do not stray too far, whoever was here before might have not triggered all the possible traps this place holds
'1d10+1'Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
"If it was this easy to ransack, is this even worth the decoy?" Hermodur ponders aloud.
With the grippers stored away, I approach the sublevels, with the others, sifting through the ruined area as we go.
[1d10] searchRoll #1 3 = 3
Instead of looting, Zunden looks for a good spotting place for the Egg replica.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
I blush a little. "Well," I say. "I wouldn't say I'm an inventor
but I'm a bit of a tinkerer. Definitely not on par with some of the really skilled smiths I've seen around the echoes. I mostly just dabble." I pull the bag over my shoulder and smile. "I'd like to think I'm getting pretty decent, and creative enough to make things work, though. The poison sprayer was actually made by a smith named Hadrian. Definitely not that skilled.">>743953
I give the place a quick, cursory once-over.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Well it's in the name, isn't it. It chokes them. Their faces turn as purple as the crystal the poison takes the shape of.">>743963
"We don't lose anything by doing it," Marisol points out.>>743968
"Oh, I've heard of Hadrian. He's the best smith around. Grosvenor commissioned him several times.">>743961>>743957>>743963>>743964>>743965>>743968
You head down into the underground fort, combing the ruins. You find a good hiding spot at the very bottom of it, inside what looks to have been a food storage cupboard. Searching for valuables reveals a few long-dead skeletons, among which you find 100 bits, a bronze studded helmet still in great condition, and a pair of strange, bladed metal rings. Those versed in exotic weapons would recognize them as chakram.
Hermodur picks up the bronze helmet and looks it over.
[1d10] to examineRoll #1 5 = 5
Zunden begins preparing Severance runes carved into wood and stone to prevent the location of the decoy egg from being scryed.
[1d10] SeveranceRoll #1 10 = 10
"Yeah. It's been really useful so far, and I'm pretty sure I can use it for even more than I have. So far most of the time it's been a flamethrower or spray sleeping gas. Also wanted to experiment with potions and smokescreens and stuff, but I haven't had much of a chance."
''This would be more useful with the rest of the armor'' Aegis comments on Hermodur's helmet ''Are you thinking of suiting yourself properly?''
"I still prefer the utility of intimidation over the practicality of full armor. Besides, I'm not certain I could maneuver properly in armor."
Taking interest in the strange weapons, I examine the design further.
"Oh my, what a curious pair of blades. How does one fight with a ring blade?"
''You cant intimidate a arrow away from your lungs. I dont think the safety of protecting your organs can be beat by being more intimidating. Besides, with or without armor, I dont think it'd make much of a difference in your case, Master Hermodur''
"Ah- paralysis and swelling of the airways." he says, flicking his tail.>>743976
"Hrm… well, I guess this is about what I expected to find here. Does anyone want some, uh… ringblades? I think I've seen these before, but the person was dancing…"
You turn the helmet over. It's a tarnished bronze hue, with several studs along the bridge of the nose, and two narrow eye slits. Around the eyes is decoration almost giving the impression of a bird of prey. From the tip of the nose downward is a sort of veil that drapes downward over the neck and shoulders. Looks menacing. And, more importantly, sturdy while still being lightweight. Marisol looks over your shoulder. "Cool," she remarks.>>743981>10, 5, 6, 4
You manage to engrave several potent Severance runes to keep the false Egg well and truly warded from prying eyes. No one should be able to spy on it through magical means now.>>743984
She nods. "Seems that way. Quite an ingenious device. I imagine we'll be able to make good use of it. Say. Maybe you should work with Silver. She knows a thing or two about making potions, after all.">>743992>>743995
"Oh, I've seen these before!" Gawain chimes in helpfully. "Quite a nasty weapon in the right hands. They're thrown, mostly. Like thus!" He demonstrates by taking one and throwing it. It wobbles through the air and bounces off a stone wall rather pathetically. "…Er, but with more finesse, of course. A rather tricky weapon. Ahem."
"Which is scarier: a beast which fears your arrow or the beast which does not? I was raised to be a messenger, not just a fighter. The combat itself is a part of sending that message. It's not just about winning the fight. It's about affecting an air of uselessness: the idea that fighting won't result in anything effective. If done effectively, the fight is already won before the battle has begun."
"This is why I am satisfied with these scars," he says, gesturing to half-burnt face, the glass eye, the missing ear, the gouge across his abdomen, the stab wounds in his chest all of which are on top of his older scars. "It demonstrates that others have tried worse and it didn't work. That effect would be lost from armor.">>743997
"Hmm," Hermodur mutters with some dissatisfaction in response to Marisol. "Previously mentioned obscured view of the scars aside, I already have enough trouble with my vision with only one eye. I don't want to obscure my vision worse."
"Would you like it?" he offers.
"Ah- I see! I've never been particularly great at throwing things, but that sounds rather neat. Something like that would be pretty tricky, I imagine."
Content with the amount of runes, Zunden gives the place a once over herself before she leaves back for the ship.
[1d10] lootRoll #1 3 = 3
"Yeah, I've actually been thinking about that. Getting her to check out some of my potions and dilute them, seeing what recipes she knows, stuff like that. Can't ever seem to catch her, though." I laugh. "Actually sorta seems like we all usually have our own things going on, even during lulls."
Aegis scrutinizes Hermodur's many scars as he motions to them ''Hm. Yes You have an excellent idea, it can be said that a battle never fought is already won, but my earlier point still stands. Your scars wont stop blade or bolt. What will you do when you are faced with something you cannot scare away? I'm sure you will wish you had the armor''
"Interesting.. If nopony is terribly bothered by the idea, I'd like to take them along for myself. A ranged blade would be quite helpful, provided I learn how to wield it."
"The answer to that is obvious: one of the two of us will die," Hermodur shrugs.
"I understand your concern, and I would agree with it if I were a fighter. But, I am not. I am a messenger. My primary concern is preventing death. Not just my own and my comrades, but the enemy's as well. Each death is a failure. If I have a path available to me that ends a fight before death occurs, then I will take it. And, that path involves less armor."
''Very well. At least you stay true to who you are and that by itself is admirable'' Aegis nods and looks away, but a couple seconds later looks up to Hermodur again
''Also, I apologize if I intruded in your personal life like that. I always feel like I should speak my mind in how I think one could improve, I was raised in such an enviroment, but I have come to realize most people dont appreciate that''
Hermodur smiles. "Think nothing of it. The notion of improving others was the basis of Ailuros's goals. No one ever improved without realizing that they needed to improve. It all starts with communication. As the messenger of Ailuros, my role was a valuable part of that process…" he trails off, looking sad.
She blinks. "Hm. It needs some work done, but I have been meaning to get some better armor than this." She looks down at her rather shabby brown cloak and black leather tunic. "Sure. Why not. Thanks." She gives you a bit of a smile before tucking the helmet under her arm.>>744007
Unfortunately, you don't find much of interest.>>744009
"Mm." She seems to agree with that sentiment. "We ought to come together more.Put our individual skills to better use. We'll need every advantage we can get with what lies ahead.">>744016
"Not at all." You take the chakram. They're rather small, and tricky to wield. Especially given your lack of digits. You'll need some decent practice to be able to wield them effectively in combat.
That night, you prepare for what's to come. Everyone else is asleep, except for Etrigan, who seems to be brooding on the upper deck. You can hear Dawn in her room as well, pacing restlessly.
I take a deep breath. Well. Here goes. I look down at Vi and smile. "Well," I say. "You ready?"
"I will do my bezt. I am zhinking how I will go about zhiz, zomezhing to Zever her zoul from the doll, Zever half of yourz, Return herz to her body, zhen uze Union to bring yourz and herz together. Zhere a lot of moving partz."
She looks to Norv, I know not want ze zenzation of giving half your zoul will be like- do you need zomezhing to bite down on? Reztrainz? We can alzo azk one of ze ozherz to be here for ze prozezz."
My face pales a little and I swallow. "Actually, uh… yeah. Restraints and something to bite down on could be a good idea. If we don't need em we don't need em, but if we do and we don't have them- well…"
I rub the back of my neck. "You think any of the others would wanna be here?" My eyes widen a little. "Oh!" I grab my mask, pull my Good Luck Charm out of it, and hand it to Zunden. "Here. This could be good, too."
"Zhank you, Norvegicus." Zunden takes the charms, taking out her Arcana artifacts, "Ideally, zhiz will not be down to luck, but ze gezture iz appreziated regardlezz."
She pulls some twine from the bag of holding, gesturing for Norv to lay down on the bed. "It zhouldn't need anything too ztrong, juzt to prevent you hurting yourzelf if you flinch or move around."
Zunden rubs her chin, "Marizol and Gawain are razher new, I don't want to get ze reputation of being a necromanzer to zhem, even if zhat may be an accurate dezcription onze zhiz iz over…" Zunden looks down, "Likewize, perhapz performing necromanzy in front of Etrigan would be razher inzenzitive, given hiz pazt. Dawn or Aurora could be choizez if you dezire, ozherwize we zhould be fine wizhout."
I lie down on the bed and nod. "Yeah, I think Dawn or Aurora would be fine. Probably Dawn, honestly. I'm not sure Aurora would have much of a reason to want
to be here. What do you think?"
"Ze only reazon I zhink we'd need anozher party prezent iz if performing ze ritual taxez my body enough to pazz out, I would need zomeone to enzure I'm zafe. Zhall I fetch Dawn zhen?"
"Oh. Yeah. I didn't think about that. Go ahead."
Zunden heads to Dawn's door, knocking if she doesn't hear the casting of spells.
Dawn opens the door with telekinesis. She seems to have been poring over a scroll written in Braille. Looking around, you see she has a good few books written in the same script. She seems to know why you're here. "Ah, Zunden. …I take it tonight's the night, then. I'm guessing you'll be wanting me to help. Resurrection isn't something I've ever studied extensively, but I'll do what I can."
She looks up and grabs your coat nervously.
"Juzt to enzure zhere are no complicationz, you zhould not need to do anyzhing related to ze ritual yourzelf." Zunden nods despite it being a useless gesture, "I zhould be mentally prepared for zhiz."
"Hey." I reach down and pet her, giving her a reassuring smile. "It'll be fine. Just about everything is in place, Z knows what she's doing, and I'm as prepared as I can be for what's coming. By tomorrow you'll be back in your body."
"Both of us should," she says quietly. "I don't know what this will entail.">>744125>>744126
Dawn follows Zunden back into the room where Norv and Violet are. The latter has a strange reaction as Dawn enters the room; she seems to look around, as if it's dawning on her what's about to happen, then squirms out of Norv's pocket and falls to the floor, starting to try and bolt to the exit.
"Hey!" I try to stand and scramble after her. "It'll be alright! Come back!"
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Zhere iz ze parazitic azpect of ze doll," Zunden goes to scratch a rune onto the door, preventing any entity from entering or leaving this room for the next 30 minutes, "I know not if you've actually been zpending time wizh Violet, or juzt ze doll uzing her az a battery. Regardlezz, zhiz zhould be remedied tonight."
[1d10] SeveranceRoll #1 1 = 1
Norv manages to grab her. As Zunden scratches a rune on the door, it closes gently, and wood forms around the frame interior, effectively turning it into a wall. Dawn looks confused; then, when Zunden speaks, she nods. "Ah. The Crucible. Definitely not the last trick it'll have."
The doll keeps struggling to get away from Norv.
Please don't do this.
"It iz unfortunate, but I take zolice in ze fact we have a limited amount of zoul to zacrifice in case a zimilar zituation occurz. We may have a new hozt for it zoon enough."
She looks to the doll, trying to appeal to the artifact, "You are not unwelcome here, only zhat zhiz dog iz willing to give half hiz zoul to return hiz loved one to life. We can keep you on our perzon in caze one of our alliez diez, zo zhat we may not loze zhem fully and zo zhat you may have life again. Do not zhink zhiz an act of malize."
I tear up a little as the doll tries to break free. I know it was Vi before. That much was obvious. Now, though, I'm almost certain it's the doll acting. I hold her against my chest and try to stroke her head to calm her down.
They'll both die.
Dawn stands by to begin the resurrection.
I lie back down on the bed where I was before, but keep holding Violet.
Zunden looks uncomfortable, holding up a claw, "If I may make one more precaution, I wizh to uze one more artifact before we begin. Zhiz will, however, require me to briefly become unconzciouz." Zunden says, removing the lute from the straps on her back. "I want to dizprove a zuzpizion I have."
The other one seems to be still, for now.>>744137
The blind one tilts her head. "What are you planning?" A pointless idea.
"Uh, alright. Whatever you think is best, Z. You're in charge of this thing.">>744138
I hold her tighter and close my eyes, resting my cheek on her.
"When I zaved Etrigan from being conzumed my ze Oneiromanzer, I undid fate zhrough ze effectz of a Zonata zhat haz allowed me to have vizionz of Ze Zhree in ze pazt. I have vizited zhem twize, but I want to confirm zhiz iz not zomezhing zhat will cauze more harm zhan good."
The other one is temporary. And fading. Meat will rot. This will last longer.
It enjoys your caress.>>744140
The blind one doesn't know what you know. "The Three?… Well, if you think it will help. It seems you're more knowledgeable in the Echoes' esoterica than I am, at least this time. I hope it works…" It won't.
I keeping my eyes closed, I whisper, "Then we can rot together."
"Zey knew of what would happen in ze dezert, I do not wizh to attempt zhiz lightly, nor overztay a welcome."
Zunden pulls out the Moonlight Sonata, letting the sheet music take her as her claws wait on the lute.>
The reptile plays. A cacophony worms from her fingertips. Everything writhes around her. Your ears scream for mercy, and you find yourself on your hands and knees. The blind one continues to stand, and see nothing. And know nothing.
The reptile will destroy you.
>roll to resist the Crucible's will>But it will fail.>>744143
You begin to play. You hear something in the back of your mind, like the thundering of great wheels.>freed from the Crucible
You feel Norv standing up all of a sudden, but keep playing, letting the arcane melody carry you away. You feel your heart pounding, your spirit soaring as the fateful melody carries you away…
You are in that empty space between spaces. A wrinkle in existence. A black nothingness, save for that omnipresent stone wall that stretches into the horizon on either side.
They are there again. You, and yet not you. Young, middle aged, and ancient. They are huddled together, whispering to each other, glancing back at you on occasion. Every once in a while, the Three laugh, sharing some private joke. They know you're there, but don't seem too interested in paying you much mind.
My eyes dart around as my head is filled with the voice. My ears- I squeeze my eyes shut and shake my head, trying to will it away. We're doing this for Vi. It'll be alright. We'll be fine. It'll be just like it used to be.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
>>744144No, it was definitely the Crucible using my thoughts, not their voices.
Zunden nods to herself, sighing relief even in the strange place. She looks nervous to approach, but eventually does so, "I erm.. already have had my question answered just by arriving here. I am not sure when I should I be here, if ever. what does He visit for?"
You know it won't.
The blind one does nothing as you draw closer to the reptile. You should destroy her before she does you.>Don't try again.>>744146
They don't acknowledge you at first. When you draw closer, they move away from their huddle, snickering slightly. Their claws are slippery with blood, but there's nothing there they could have come from. Oh, she's back, she's back! And still after answers…Poor child. So lost and confused. Why not rest a spell?
You notice there's an old rocking chair behind you.Hm. Well if you must know. He wants what you have. What all of your kind have. What most of you fear. What you're working to undo right now.
She traces a familiar symbol in the air: two eye shapes, criss crossed, with a circular eye in the center. It looks around wildly, focuses on you, then is gone.
No. My vision grows blurry as I start to cry. I keep trying to resist, attempting to call out to Dawn to stop me.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Zunden nods, assuming she understands, but refrains from resting at the chair, "That would explain his motivations a lot actually. I don't think I should linger, but I feel as if I understand better. The Crucible means you didn't actually rezeive one of mine, did you?"
She can't stop you. "Is something the matter?"
You take another step forward. The predator is blind to her own peril.
I try to nod and say, 'It's controlling me."
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
>>744149"We have. And we haven't.""So many riddles…""Time is a strange thing, sweetin. Especially now, and then, and thereafter. Don't you worry. It's not anyone's time just yet. Why not try to relax over a nice cup of tea?""You didn't come here for tea. You came here for answers. As much as we can provide. Don't pretend otherwise. Ask your burning question and begone with you."
You hadn't noticed before, but they're gathered around a round table, taking turns knitting with a needle and thread. Or maybe they're not taking turns, and it's just one of them doing it. Or maybe all three at once. Maybe they were never doing this at all. You also notice there's no coffins this time. "You're not in the wrong place, are you dear?…""Heh. If she was lost she'd be home by now.""Home again, home again, jiggity jig…"
You feel weak all of a sudden. Your knees give way, and you collapse. You see the Crucible running away, towards Dawn. Looking down at your hands, you notice your claws are bared, inches away from Zunden's vulnerable throat. You feel a great weight being lifted off your shoulders.>freed from the Crucible
Dawn continues to stand there blankly. A mild, insipid little smile starts to form on her face, and she absent mindedly crouches down and picks up the Crucible.
"One more, though maybe it's two, and I take my leave. Is it the music that brings me here? I don't know if it's the artifact or the thought behind it." Zunden asks, watching what they're knitting.
I gulp and close my paw. Looking up at Dawn, I slowly step toward her with my hand out. "Dawn. You should probably give that to me."
They're not knitting anything. It's just a single string. As it trails downward and to the floor, it seems to pierce through it as if passing through water, continuing onwards infinitely. Following it in the opposite direction, you can see the string goes upwards as well. A single thread, stretching infinitely in both directions."All of them. And none.""Why, you are a special thing, aren't you? You've always had this. Wouldn't you agree? Something that pulls you towards us, ever since you were a wee little sprog. Those little things you have, they just… nudge you towards us.""Home again, home again, jiggity jog…""What else do you want, then? Be quick about it. We're not obliged to humor you."
A familiar door opens behind you.
She doesn't seem to hear you. Under her bandaged eyes, you see dampness. Her smile grows, until she herself is weak at the knees, sobbing tears of joy. She clutches the Crucible close, and it goes limp. "I knew," she whispers. "I always knew you'd come back… They said you were dead… They won't take you from me again… Never again…"
"As I just said, I take my leave. I have had answered what I needed, now I need to start what I intended to."
Zunden returns herself to consciousness, feeling ready to perform the deed.
"No…" I rush over and try to pry the crucible away from her. "It's not him! Violet is in there. The crucible is lying to you."
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"That's not what we're asking.""Isn't it? I thought… Oh…""It's a question you should ask yourself, really. What do you want from us? What would you have happen? Think about it! And come back to us with answers.""If you can find them.""If you can find them.""If you can find them."
You walk through the door, reawakening in your body. You find Norv confronting Dawn, who is clutching the Crucible with a rapturous grin.>>744160
"GET AWAY FROM ME!"
You wrench the Crucible away, only to find yourself blown clear across the room by a blast of concussive magic. Dawn faces you down, hovering a foot above the air, glowing with energy, face twisted with rage. Her horn lights up. "YOU WON'T TAKE HIM FROM ME!"
[2d10+2] Magic BoltRoll #1 3, 6 + 2 = 11
I hold the crucible tight and turn around, shielding it with my back. "Dawn!" I shout. "It isn't him! It's trying to trick you! It's using Violet's soul, but right now it isn't even really her either. It's trying to use you!"
[1d10]Persuasion?Roll #1 7 = 7
Eyes opening, Zunden subtly scratches Severance into the wood again, clutching The Devil in her other claw, She turns her head to the Crucible, "You have never had any choize in ze matter."
Invoking the powers of The Devil for the first time, Zunden severs the ability for the Crucible to hold a soul within it, making it impossible for it to take host.
>The Devil: automatic instant; Give yourself or a target any roll result you desire, without modifiers. However, this guarantees a future roll of theirs in the session, usually their next, will be equal to the "opposite" of the declared result. A 1 becomes a 10, a 9 a 2, etcetera. This opposite roll may be redirected to the invoker of the Devil card, but only if the opposite is a 5 or below. If the target of the Devil card dies or is otherwise incapable of rolling again before the next session, the opposite roll is granted to the invoker if the result was negative, or the nearest ally of the target if the result was positive. Can be used once per day without consequence.
"Oh, neat. I'm going to need more popcorn for this one!"
A familiar, genteel voice, brimming with playful joy, rings out around the room. Looking around, Discord is nowhere to be seen.
Norv's words fall on deaf ears as Dawn, entranced, fires a crackling orb of silver magic into his chest. He is knocked backwards and takes a knee as it explodes violently, searing his skin and burning his fur.>Norv takes 3 hits
Zunden's invocation makes the Crucible writhe, flopping out of Norv's grasp. Simultaneously, Dawn gasps, clutching her chest and leaning against the wall, released from its grip. On the floor, the Crucible squirms and turns, its limbs contorting in impossible shapes and twisting like licorice sticks, the little wooden box in its torso rattling and shaking violently, threatening to burst out of its chest like some vile parasite.
If I go, so will Violet.
"No!" I say. "You're saying whatever you can to keep us from doing this. This is to save
"If you tell ze truzh, zhen we never could've returned Violet in ze firzt plaze. We loze nozhing in doing zhiz."
Given that the doll is incapable of taking in another soul at the moment, Zunden looks to Norv,>>744165
"We will try ze act wizhout your bindingz, hold zteadfazt. By intuition zhiz will be eazier wizh your willingnezz. Let go ze worriez, and focuz on what iz driving you to make zhiz zacrifice."
>Assume this part would be after Norv does so, if he wants to make a post saying as such
Zunden extinguishes two of the orbs surrounding her, bringing part of Norv's willing and living soul together with Violet's expired one.
 Severance (Orb), Half of Norv's soul
 Union (Orb), The two souls of the lovers
You'll regret it.
The Crucible's flailing reaches a fever pitch as its torso continues to rip at the seams; then, pathetically, it collapses, deflating into a pile of sawdust and burlap. You feel a tremendous weight lifted from the room. Dawn slumps over, seemingly having passed out.
Zunden begins the rite. Severance appears across Norv's chest, and a ripple appears in the air, almost like some strange gas. Norv feels a sudden tightness in his chest, followed by a feeling of overwhelming heat, then cold, then heat again, alternating over and over. It's like getting plunged into flames then drowned in an icy lake, except there's no pain. Not physical, at least.
Three rings interlocked appear above Violet's body, which begins to glow slightly, like one of Zunden's suns. The rippling effect reappears, echoing the Severance rune. It's as if they're speaking to each other. Norv feels weakened all of a sudden, like the energy's been punched out of him by a spiritual fist. There's a feeling of sudden… distance. Apathy, perhaps. Ennui. It's all so meaningless all of a sudden.
As Zunden continues to concentrate, both runes fade away gently. The numb feeling Norv is experiencing doesn't, however. Looking over at Violet's body, nothing seems to happen…
With one last orb being extinguished, Zunden tries to return the breath of life to Violet by invoking Return to finish the rite.
 Return (orb)
I clutch at my chest as my heart races. My lungs burn, and I can feel my breathing grow heavy. So this is what it's like to have your soul torn in half. I squeeze my eyes shut and clench my teeth together, trying to steady my breath. Boiling. Freezing. My body trembles.
Finally, the entire thing stops and I collapse. My breath is still ragged, and there's a feeling I can't place. Or maybe it's a lack of feeling? Not quite sadness.
Finally catching my breath, I stand, walk over to Vi, crouch down, and wait.
Dawn starts to come to. Zunden invokes Return. Nothing more happens.
I wait and reach out to rest my hand on her side. "Hey," I whisper. "Vi? It's Norv. You there?"
Zunden goes to check in on Dawn, offering to help the mare up, "Everyzhing alright, Dawn?
" Zunden says, speaking with some weakness from doing all she can think of to finish the rite.
She gladly takes your hoof. "I… I think so. What happened? I feel like I blacked out the minute I entered the room… Did it work?…"
Takes your hand*
"I performed the rite, unlezz I have forgotten an azpect it iz all zhat waz needed to be done. Now I am not zure what happenz."
Zunden tries to think of anything she may have forgotten [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
I don't take my eyes of Vi. "I don't know. Maybe it takes time?"
Nothing comes to mind…>>744177>>744176
Dawn joins you both, looking over to Violet anxiously. Nothing happens.
You wait a bit longer.
A bit more.
Dawn looks defeated. "…I think we should-"
Violet turns over, as if stirring from a deep sleep. With a soft groan, she gets up, opening her eyes and looking around.
Something's different. Her left eye is a deep reddish purple, as normal, but her right has changed. Where once it was green, now it is a dead, milky white.
She stares around the room in confusion, looking through you all, clutching her head. "Where…?"
Zunden lets out a deep sigh, leaning against one of the walls and burying her head between her knees. "Zhank goodnezz…"
Zunden peaks a look at the Crucible, seeing if it still holds enchantment.
[1d10] AntiquarianRoll #1 4 = 4
My lip quivers just a little as she stirs. When she stands up and looks around, I can't keep myself from throwing my arms around her. "I knew it would work," I say. "I knew we could put you back. I love you. It's only been days, but I've missed holding you so much."
The Crucible is inert. For now.>>744364
She looks a bit surprised, grunting a little as you throw yourself at her. "Oof! Whoa, hey, steady on. Bit forward of you, innit. You're Norv, right?">>744363>>744364
"Easy," says Dawn gently. "You've been through a lot. Try to relax. We can explain everything."
"Sorry, do I know you?" says Violet innocently. "Uh, I feel like I'm missing something here… Zunden? Norv? Where are we? This isn't the Monastery, is it?… Gods, my head feels…" She tries to get up, but almost falls. "Agh… What's wrong with me?…"
Seeing Violet's state, Zunden quietly prepares a Union orb.
[1d10] Union (Frozen)Roll #1 5 = 5
I let her go and slowly take a step back, open my mouth, close it again, and take a second to try to figure out what to say. "Yeah? No, we're back on The Fortune. I-" I swallow, and, a little less enthusiastically, gently rest my hand on her side. "Vi, are you okay?" I chew my lower lip, and finally say, "You died at Last Hearth, but we were able to bring you back. Just in time to go back to the spring, too. Like you wanted."
You summon a Union rune. Violet does a bit of a double take. "Damn, when'd you learn that? Never seen anything like it before.">>744374
"I… I think so?…" She seems a bit weirded out by you touching her, but doesn't shy away. Most likely too confused to. "What's a Fortune? What do you mean I died? Is this some kind of joke?" She seems annoyed.
"No, Vi-" I study her and step back again. "I-" I take a deep breath. "Is the Lunar Monastery really the last thing you remember? That's been-" I look up at Z and knit my brow. "Months, right?"
"I can attempt to create runez zhat'll let you zhare memoriez, but I do not zhink I will be at my one hundred perzent until I have rezted again - ze ritual to bring her back waz taxzing, ezpecially wizh my vizit to ze Zhree beforehand."
Zunden looks to Violet, "You have zomeone talking to you like zhey know you, I'm uzing far more technical zpellz zhen you've ever zeen, and are in a plaze you do not recognize, while ze zhree of uz are talking about zhingz you do not underztand. Pleaze take a breazh, apply logic to ze zituation, and realize your memoriez may have a gap."
"M-months?" Her annoyance turns to trepidation. She pulls away and tries to stand up again. She manages to do so this time, hauling herself up. She looks at you both with slight panic. Zunden's words seem to stop her from completely freaking out. She swallows and nods. "I… Just… …What happened? Tell me everything. Please. I get the feeling I shouldn't be here."
I rub the back of my neck and give her some space. "Pfew. Everything. That's gonna be a doozy. I'll have to flip through my journal to remember everything, probably. Definitely to remember everything in order. Let's see. Braildorn is really where stuff started happening. Before that it was just mostly traveling. You got kidnapped in Braildorn by Lysander, who I guess you remember different than you would now." I look away. "Actually, come to think of it maybe you still think he's dead? After that we saved you and sorta stole his ship." I close my eyes and think. "I think that was after
we visited the Sands the first time?" I scratch my head trying to get everything in order. >>744384
"Yeah, I'm gonna need your help. Probably would be better if we have her something to work with for now, even if we give her sorta replacement memories later. If that's even how it would work, and-" I look back at Vi and knit my brow. "And if you're even comfortable with that."
"You died, zo yez, technically you zhouldn't. I will work to help you reztore your memoriez, but for me to have zome time to rezt, and to give you time to calm down and acclimate to being alive again, I would recommend we attempt zhat in ze morning."
The saurian takes another deep breath, and exhales slowly, "Ze mozt bazic information zhat iz I zhink you will need to know before breakfazt iz zhat we are currently on an airzhip owned by Lyzander, ze very one from your pazt, which we took after az Norv zaid, he kidnapped you. He haz allied himzelf wizh a maliziouz entity zhat can invade one'z dreamz, who iz intent bringing great harm to reality. For zhiz reazon, I would azk if it iz okay you zleep wizh a few charmz around your neck tonight, juzt for protectionz zake. Zhere are multiple alliez on zhiz zhip you will not recognize, a bat pony priezt from ze Moneztary, Dawn here, a ztag wizhout a phyzical body who can control zhiz zhip, a cryztal pony mage, a female felid, and mozt rezently a gryphon knight. Zheze, along wizh an infant balaur, are friendz, zhould you run into zhem on zhiz zhip."
"I mean technically she'd probably recognize Gawain and Aurora, and maybe even Dawn if she remembers the Monastery. Just not as friends or anyone she really knows." I shift and let out an uncomfortable laugh. "Actually, she probably wouldn't recognize Gawain as a friend anyway. I haven't even really talked to him yet either."
"I don't know at what point in ze Moneztary ze haz her memory from. We may have juzt arrived."
She nods, frowning in bewilderment. "Lysander as in the
Lysander? Gods. You guys have been busy, huh. That's… a lot. Last I remember we were just going to head to the Monastery. Part of me hopes this is just a weird dream."
"…Hold up, hold up. I died? How? When? Explain that.Seems like kind of a big deal." She smiles dryly, then swoons a little and catches herself. She's still weak from the whole ordeal.
"Helping a mare ezcape a zity zhat preventz it'z rezidentz for leaving in exzchange for ratzionz we needed to zurvive." Zunden says, looking concerned, "Az I zaid, it iz bezt for you to rezt before we try catching you up. Norv, I do not know what you wizh to do in zhat regard."
I move to catch her on reflex. "Hey," I say. "Easy. You need to rest." I freeze. My mouth suddenly feels really dry. How much should I tell her about that? >>744391
I nod. "In Last Hearth," I say. "We were fighting a bunch of their Keepers trying to escape, and the fight didn't go so well. Most of us barely made it out, but you-" My eyes drop to the floor. "Anyway," I say. "Yeah. I, uh…" I laugh. "I guess you wouldn't be comfortable sharing a bed tonight like we usually do. If you want I can take a different room for now. Until you start getting things back."
"Last Hearth," she mumbles. "What the hell were we all the way out there for? Weren't we going to the Sands? Or is that past now?…"
She blinks and looks over to Norv with a slight frown. "What do you mean like we usually do?…"
Zunden looks to Norv, "Let's keep from continuing to talk more and more until daw- err, until morning." She turns back to Violet, "You're weak, and ze rezt of ze party will be awake to confirm what we are zaying in ze morning, let uz wait till zhen."
I shuffle my feet and feel my face grow a little hot. "In braildorn, we sorta- Well…" I clear my throat. "Sorta started goin steady? We have been for a while."
"Oh. Right. Sorry. We all should probably get some sleep."
You notice Dawn has elusively exited the room.
"We… I…" She looks at you both at a complete loss for words, her gaze lingering on Norv with an unreadable expression, trying to make sense of it all. "……Yeah. Alright. Good idea. I, uh, guess I'll try and get some rest. Dunno if I can, but I'll try. ….Goodnight? I guess? This is all really… weird." She rubs her temples.
"Can I get you anyzhing to eat or drink before you rezt?"
I feel tears welling up in my eyes a little as there doesn't seem like there's really anything there. "Alright. Goodnight. I lo-" I catch myself and frown, and nod. "Goodnight." There's something wrong, though. It hurts, yeah, but I'm not as crushed as I'd expect to be. Maybe it's because I'm confident it'll come back when we can get her memories back for the most part?
"Some water would be great," she says with a smile. "I'm…really thirsty. Actually.">>744399
She notices the wounded look in your eye, and her expression softens. She tries to think of something to say, but can't seem to find the words. "…I, uh… I can find a room for myself. This is yours, isn't it?…"
I force a small smile. "Not your fault. There're, uh… There are plenty. I think. They're filling up so I'm not totally sure how many are actually left, but there should still be several at least."
"You haven't ate or drank in dayz, technically, I azzumed az zuch."
Zunden unseals the door, allowing a Servitor to visit with one.
A Servitor enters with a glass of water, along with some fruit. Violet tentatively drinks and starts eating, then proceeds to promptly annihilate the rest.
"…Sorry, didn't realize how hungry I was. Heh. I, uh, think I'm going to go lie down for a bit, if it's okay. Lot to process right now, you know? And, uh, thanks. For everything. You're good people."
I smile, a little more genuinely this time, and laugh. "Yeah," I say. "No prob, Vi. I'll see you in the mornin." I give her a short wave. "Night."
"Be zafe, I'm glad you're back." Zunden says softly, making sure Violet has access to the Severance charms before leaving her to herself.
The rest of the day goes by without much incident. You return to the ship with your spoils of war and continue on your journey. Etrigan estimates you'll reach the Dreaming Spring the following afternoon, assuming there are no further interruptions.
Silver has time again to practice her potion making skills. She may craft one more of any of the following:
>Alacrity Draught: A potion that stimulates the sense and improves reflexes. Dodge rolls autocrit for the next 3 rounds
>Addersfang: A wicked burning venom. When applied to a weapon, on the next successful attack the target will take 1 hit/rd for 3 rds, or until helpless. Stacks with repeated uses.
>Pheromone Tonic: A potion that seems to attract baser animals. Useless if ingested, but when applied to something, will draw creatures to it over time.
>Aqua Vitae: A potion that closes wounds and cures all manner of ailments. Functions as per Heal when imbibed.
>Snailgut: A potion that stimulates natural healing and numbs the user to pain. Target takes 1 less hit of physical damage until the end of combat, but suffers a -1 to Dodge rolls.
>Beast's Bile: A poisonous gas, despite its name. When release, will release a cloud of noxious, stinging vapors that will gradually blind and choke anything in a 30 foot radius.
>Potent Redwater: A stronger brew of Redwater. Rupture gets a +2 and crits on 8+.
>Potent Midnight Oil: A stronger brew of Midnight Oil. Sleep Serum gets a +2 and crits on 8+.
>Potent Sightsbane: A stronger brew of Sightsbane. Blind gets a +2 and crits on 8+.
The following morning, you wake to the delicious scent of pancakes. You feel well rested, more so than usual. From the kitchen comes cheery humming from Gawain, to the tune of Jenny of Oldstones, the song Aurora sung earlier.
I wake up alone in my bed for the first time in- I think for a second. Since we even got the ship? There was probably another time, but I can't recall. For a while I just lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, restless but also not able to will myself to get up.
Finally I smell someone cooking and decide it's probably time to go ahead and get dressed. I just slide on my pants and my white undershirt I got with my newest suit, not bothering to gear up. Before anything else, I stop at the bag of dirt I'd planted eight of the clockwork orange gears in to check on it and, even though I'm not totally sure if they even need water, lightly water them. If Purdue is awake I bring him. If he's not then I bring him with me.
Heading to the kitchen, I'm surprised to find it's Gawain and not Etrigan cooking. "Mornin," I say, taking a seat in the dining area. "That's that song I hear Aurora singin a bunch, ain't it? Been trying to noodle the melody out on my sax." I chuckle. "Got part of it, but I guess I should really probably crack open the book I got with it and learn to play properly."
Her resting place being in a corner of the dining room since hers was lost, Zunden stirs from her pile of pillows and blankets when she hears movement. Taking a deep breath, she positions herself so that she might watch Violet's door, replenishing her orbs in the meantime.
[1d10] Union (frozen)Roll #1 4 = 4
Hermodur silently enters and awaits delicious pancakes.
Rabi rolls out of bed and stretches out, giving his recently-healed leg a bit of extra stretching before hopping to all fours and heading for the kitchen. He'll stop long enough to give Silver a kiss, if she's still in bed.>>744454
Rabi flicks his ears and smiles a bit as he takes a seat in the dining area, giving both Gawain and Norv a friendly wave. "Morning, both of you. Pancakes smell great, Gawain."
As usual, Aegis wakes up a tad early and goes through her morning routine. Shower, brush, dress up and leave the room looking nice and tidy after an hour of preparation
This time the first thing she does is to visit Aurora before breakfast
I knit my brow. "There a reason you slept in her"
Zunden blinks, "Have for ze pazt week or zo."
The clockwork oranges grow remarkably fast. You can see a copper pipe poking out of the dirt already. Purdue is fast asleep, as usual. You hear him mutter something indistinctly as he slumbers; you think you hear the word 'conjunction'.>>744457
Your rune fizzles out of existence as you conjure it, not quite stable enough to hold its form.>>744471
You find Aurora up above deck as usual, reading a book. She looks up and smiles. "Hey. Good to have you back. What's on your mind?"
"Ah- morning, Zunden. You want some help picking out a new room, or something? Can't have you just sleeping in a corner."
Your leg feels more or less healed, though it's still a bit sore. You should be back to normal by tomorrow.
"If it iz an izzue I can move, I have juzt been too preoccupied wizh bringing back Violet, ze Egg, Oneiromanzer, et zetera. I zee no purpoze in moving everyzhing back to anozher room if it will not be a permanent home."
"W-Well, it's not. I just want to make sure you're comfortable."
Using more of the ingredients gathered, I begin to brew a batch of more potent Redwater, the thin red liquid slowly bubbling over the burner.
Refreshed after a good night's sleep, i slip on my underdress and trot over to the table to examine the spread of breakfast.
"Ah, Sir Gawain, How goes things this morning? The cooking smells wonderful!"
"I came to check your recovery" Aegis replies bluntly, giving Aurora a look over "You seem as healthy as usual. How have you been feeling?"
"Yeah, but you could still use a bed in the other room or something."
"It iz not uncomfortable."
"Huh. Well, alright. As long as you're comfortable. Did you need help moving your stuff? I'll help next time I'm not too busy if you want."
"Legs are still a little weak," she confesses. "Luckily I have wings to fall back on. I'm getting there though. One step at a time." She puts the book away and stands up, leaning on the walking stick she's been using while she recovers from her injury. "What about you? I heard you ran into that bounty hunter.">>744500>>744466>>744457>>744462>>744454>>744471
You gather in the kitchen, soon joined by Aurora, Marisol, Dawn and Etrigan, all looking well rested.
"Good morning everyone!" says Gawain cheerily, bringing out a steaming plate of pancakes with all the usual topping options. A Servitor sets the table for everyone. Marisol smiles at the sight of the hearty breakfast. "Thank you, they look wonderful."
"Think nothing of it. My way of repaying you all for your hospitality!"
The pancakes are as delicious as they look. As you begin to tuck in, you hear footsteps, and a familiar face appears around the corner.
"I-is there room for one more at the table?…"
Violet enters the room, looking out of sorts. Her left eye is a milky white, and she overall looks a bit out of sorts, but offers a meek smile in greeting. "Yeah, I'm here. Kind of. Still getting my bearings. Apparently I missed a lot. Don't even remember getting this… ship? We're on a ship, right?"
Hermodur happily eats a large pile of pancakes. When Violet comes in, he looks up at her in confusion.
"How?" is all he asks. It's more bemused confusion than shock or awe.
I look up and smile, probably a little more excited than I should be to see her. My tail beats against the sides of the chair as I fail to keep it from wagging, and I give her a wave. "Morning," I say. "Yeah. Plenty of room. And yeah, ship. The Fate's Fortune. Don't remember its original name, but it's a- uh…" I pause and look between Etrigan and Zunden. "Sanctuary? Am I remembering that wrong?"
I dig out some pancakes and douse them with syrup. "Anyway, yeah. Big breakfast. Plenty to go around."
"Yes. I think it could have gone better" Aegis raises a leg to show scars "I also learned that I might be a poor judge of character, but I'll learn. Come, we can talk more after breakfast"
Aegis silently watches the punished Violet show herself
"Do you remember me?" She asks
Eating my buttered and syrup'd pancakes, i pause mid-bite and visibly pale as i see the ghost of Violet arrive into the hall.
"..oh my. V-violet?"
"…Violet?" the stallion asks, setting his fork down and turning to look at the mare. "I-I, uhm… yes?"
"I will move my zhingz today, I apologize for worrying ze bozh of you." Zunden looks down.>>744512
"I had prezerved her body in a zpare room when zhe pazzed, I learned of ze ritual zhrough a rare concoczion given by Pudding'z alchemizt. It waz taxzing, and Norv had to make a zacrifize of hiz own." Zunden says, picking at the pancakes, "Zhe holdz no memoriez from before ze moneztary."
*made after ze moneztary
"Why specifically then?"
"How curious.. And what was Norvy's sacrifice?"
Aegis chews her pancakes, eyes locked on Zunden
I let out an awkward chuckle. "That's-" I clear my throat and avoid eye contact. "That's not important. Vi is back! That's what matters!"
"I know not, perhapz it waz dependant on how long her zoul rezided in ze Cruzible, and it slowly ate away at memoriez."
Aegis cold gaze turns from Zunden to Norvegicus
I shift a little and take a bite of pancakes, continuing to avoid eye contact. "Really," I say. "Look at me. I'm fine."
Rabi huffs a little bit and folds his ears back, before wrapping his forelegs around Zunden and pulling her into a hug. "Please, don't apologize- you've done nothing wrong, Zunden. You do a lot around here, and I just want to make sure you're comfortable.">>744519>>744529
"It's, ah… not important, huh? Well, hopefully it isn't. But, yes- Violet's back! Losing people is really, well… hard. Especially when I still feel like that was on me."
The others look about as surprised as (most of) you are. Aurora looks at her blankly, while Marisol looks a bit apprehensive at her appearance.Dawnand Etrigan don't look too shocked though, having been privy to the ordeal.
"Yeah, it's like Zunden said. There's a big gap in my memory. Last I remember was traveling to the Monastery. Whatever happened, it probably… erased everything else." She swallows. "But I'm here now. Right? It's like Norv said. I, uh, don't really have the full picture of what's going on though.I think I'll have to get caught up… or…" She doesn't finish that thought.
"There's a couple of new faces for me, yeah. I met Dawn last night, but I don't know about half of you." She refers specifically to Aegis, Aurora, Etrigan, Marisol and Gawain.
The latter, as usual, is eager to introduce himself. "Well, allow me to welcome you back, good lady! I am Sir Gawain, an unlanded knight of Andraxis. I'm rather new to all this as well, so I suppose we have that in common!""Etrigan. I control the ship."
"I'm Aurora. I got picked up right after the Monastery." She doesn't really elaborate.
"And I'm Marisol. Also rather new. I joined the group when Hermodur returned. My former employer is an enemy of ours, so I'm here to help."
"Uh, too many names to keep track of, but hi." Violet finds an empty spot at the table and quietly starts serving herself breakfast. Norv notices Dawn staring in his direction for a moment.>>744536
Violet blinks. "On you? Why?"
Aegis just continues staring for a moment, chewing slowly before swallowing
"You look fine" She says with no intonation to her voice>>744537
"I am Aegis Glaze. How is the wound on your chest? Did it regenerate completely?"
"Hmm… I wonder if we can use this memory loss somehow," Hermodur muses out loud.
I silently eat my pancakes, briefly casting glances up as others talk. I linger a little longer as Dawn almost seems like she's staring at me, but I don't say anything.>>744538
"Yeah! See! No big deal."
"I know not if I can reztore her memoriez, only zhare our own." Zunden says, then turning to Hermodur, "And we do not know if it iz a mental block, or totally gone- zhere iz ze rizk zhat zhe might not be able to accezz zhem, but an enemy could."
"That doesn't mean you are fine. I'd suggest you told at least one of us what exactly you have done, Master Norvegicus" Aegis makes a cut on her pancake, not breaking eye contact "You very clearly show when you are bothered, so it might help to have someone to vent to"
Rabi folds his ears back a little, and says "W-Well, we were… escaping Last Hearth, we took a route I helped scout out. Maybe if I'd scouted it out better, you wouldn't have gotten… y-you know."
I look up at her and knit my brow. "I mean I'm not feeling anything bad. No pain or anything. No real negative side effects at all, so there's not much to tall about. But-" I shrug. "I don't know. Maybe."
I feel my blood freeze in my veins, and sink down into my chair a little. "Blown up," I finish. I guess she's bound to find out anyway.
"Very well" Aegis nods "I will come to you later to talk about it"
"Interesting.. A shame so much was lost, but if it meant returning to life we can hardly complain!"
"We'll be making a detour to the Dreaming Spring as we decide our plans for the egg, a welcome chance to relax, if only briefly."
"I don't feel anything, so I think so?" She looks down at her chest; no scarring or anything. It's like it never happened.>>744541"Use how?"
Etrigan asks from across the table. "Uh, I'd rather not be a guinea pig, if that's alright," says Violet quietly. Her demeanor seems changed from when you knew her; more quiet, introverted even. Though it might just be her getting her bearings after her ordeal.>>744542
You get the feeling she's thinking about what happened that night. She was there. She knows.>>744543
"Maybe we should ask Black Pudding about it, when we find him," Dawn suggests. Violet pales and freezes. "B-Black Pudding? You're visiting him? Why? We shouldn't… No. Bad idea. We don't want anything to do with him.">>744546>>744548
Violet raises her eyebrows and pauses mid bite. "…Blown up?… How?… What happened? Is… is there something you're not telling me?…">>744554
"What Egg?" she asks obliviously. "Are you raising chickens or something?"
"We were surrounded by keepers. The guards at Last Hearth. Everyone was in a bad way, and I tried to buy some time to get everyone out. I kind of had something back that I was gonna save for an emergency, and it was an emergency. I pitched an explosive into the middle of the keepers, but it came up short. We all got caught in the blast -most of us, anyway- but you…" I trail off.
"We're working on a complicated plan to hide an egg that could destroy the world from Lysander," Hermodur gives Violet the massively abbreviated version.
"Honestly, I'm not sure how this is better for her than the doll," Hermodur says, looking to Zunden.
"I must agree. Unless Violet is in shape to fight like she did before, this seems like a sacrifice with little payoff"
"You, uh, you got killed in the explosion. I'd thought we'd had a safer route, but I hadn't scouted it out well enough."
I slam my fist on the table. "Are you serious?!" I shout. "She's not some kind of tool. Her value isn't based on how much she can contribute to the team."
"I suppose being trapped as a doll would be quite upsetting.. though the memory regression may have wiped even that from her mind."
"..My, that sounds needlessly cruel. She Is
our friend, after all, should we not be happy for her?"
"Well, she doesn't need to fight- I don't think we were bringing her back to do that, anyways."
"I didn't say there was no payoff" Aegis taps the sides of her mouth with a napkin "At the height of the stakes we are in currently we need all the help we can get to save both worlds"
"Ze doll wazn't her, zhe had no memory of it, it waz a parazite pretending to her." Zunden affirms, "Zhe haz free will, ze ability to finizh her life razher zhen have it cut zhort.">>744558
"Zhat iz fair, Violet, I have never required you to meet wizh Black Pudding in ze pazt, and I do not wizh to ztart given how you've alwayz been made uncomfortable by zhem."
"I wasn't talking from a combat perspective. I specifically said FOR her. Personally, I'd rather be stuck in a subpar body but still have all of my memories. Memories are what matter. They make you who you are."
"Wait…" Hermodur sidetracks. "The doll could fight?">>744576
"How could you tell?" Hermodur asks curiously.
"When we tried to remove her zoul from ze Cruzible, it began to referenze Violet az anozher being alltogeher. It holdz pzychic powerz zhat were interfering wizh our zhoughtz."
"I wonder what it was made for…" Hermodur muses.
I relax a little. "She hasn't lost all
her memories. And it's really shitty we keep talking about her like she's not right there. She has an opinion too. As far as we're concerned she doesn't even have to stay with us anymore. She has a way out of this. She can just go back to whatever she was doing before she met us and not put herself at risk anymore."
She sets her jaw. "That's… a lot. I mean I knew you guys weren't on good terms with Lysander and all, and I heard there was some pretty high stakes stuff, but this is… well, everything. What's this I keep hearing about a doll though?" Your slight seems to have gone over her head; though, not over Marisol's. You notice her stop eating and start watching you like a hawk over the table. Gawain coughs slightly and becomes very interested in his plate.>>744562>>744568
"I… Oh. …I see." She doesn't seem too hungry anymore, overwhelmed a bit by the implications of that. "…I think I should, uh… I don't know." She plays with her food a bit.>>744576
"Not just that, I think it's a bad idea to go making deals with him in general. Unless there's no other way, I think we should do something else."
"I don't think there is," says Dawn calmly. "We've reviewed all out options, and contacting him seems the most expedient solution to our predicament.">>744577
"It fought back against us," Dawn muses darkly. "Warping our sense of reality. It was…" She trails off, not finding the right word to describe it.>>744579>>744577>>744575>>744574>>744571>>744582
"I, uh…" Violet speaks up. "I think Norv's right. …I should go. Next chance we get. I mean, I like you guys, but this is way over my head, you know? I'm not really cut out for all this. I always worked better off alone anyway. Maybe once this all blows over we can meet up again. Somehow."
Aegis chews quietly for a moment before raising her head
"A fateful mission"
"No memories if we fail"
"Prowess is crucial"
"Are you going to with her, then?" Hermodur asks Norv.>>744585
"I didn't take you to be one for poetry," Hermodur comments.
"Very well. Then at least enjoy the food, it is a blessing to have such a hearty meal made for you by another">>744586
"My Sister taught me the value of having hobbies besides combat and the goods it does to the mind. Since then I could never stop"
Even being the one suggesting it it still hurts to hear. I force the last of my pancakes down my throat and nod. "That might be what's for the best. Lysander- I think they all think you're dead, considering… anyway, I might not use the same name if you can help it, but it might be a good idea. The things we've been running into…" She doesn't have to deal with that anymore.>>744586
I slowly shake my head.
"If zhat iz what you dezire, I will not ztop you. I do not imagine you would be going wizh uz to do zhiz when we firzt met, it waz monzhz of uz knowing eazhozher. I worry for when you will be found alone by ze enemy and attacked for zhingz you do not remember, but you are a capable mare." Zunden says, still picking at a pancake she's barely started, "I couldn't bring back ze Violet we knew, but at leazt you will have a chanze to live a full life."
"Oh my, so it was very much worth the effort then, the wretched doll holding Violet's soul hostage!">>744592
"Would there be some means of helping her with her eye before she leaves? It would be a shame to let her go with only one working eye.."
Hermodur opens his mouth to say something, but then he realizes. "Oh… right…"
"Sorry." the stallion manages, gently setting his fork back down. He doesn't feel particularly keen on eating right now, either.
Aurora does a bit of a double take at the haiku, smiling to herself in recognition.>>744586
"Why would he… Oh. R-right. No, I think I'll do this alone.">>744591
As she realizes what this means to you, she looks a bit hurt. "I… I'm sorry, Norv. It's… it's just not me. You know? Please don't think I have anything against you for what happened. I'd like to stay, but this is just… well, too much for me. I can't handle all this. I'm sure you'll do great though. All of you! Right?" She gives you a rather forced smile of encouragement, but you can tell it hurts her to see you like this.>>744592>>744591>>744590
"Thanks for understanding," she says quietly. "I know I'm in great company, but I'm not really the save the world type. I've had to go undercover before anyway. And hey, this doesn't have to be a goodbye. I'm sure we'll meet again eventually."
"Now, let's not linger on all that, yeah? I don't gather we're anywhere near a settlement anyway. That can come later. Where are we headed now? The Dreaming Spring, right? I'm guessing it's to help free that Swamp Spirit and…" She puts two and two together and frowns. "Hold on. What is it you're going to Black Pudding for exactly?"
I return her smile with an equally forced one. "Nah," I say. "Don't worry about it. You'll probably be safer this way, anyway."
"Honestly it might be best if you just didn't know. You can't extract information that isn't there."
Hermodur silently contemplates what he's going to do when he arrives at the Dreaming Spring.
What would have been a hearty breakfast is dampened by the bittersweet reunion. As the day progresses, Violet keeps mostly to herself, occasionally exchanging pleasantries with whoever she runs into. She recovers her personal effects from Norv's room, but doesn't seem to feel comfortable in them anymore.
Much of the day is uneventful. Gawain seems a bit more subdued after the breakfast, serving sandwiches for lunch and not much else. Violet and Marisol do a bit of sparring at one point. Despite having been out of commission for so long, she's still got some moves.
Late in the afternoon, you arrive at the Dreaming Spring; or at least, where it's meant to be. Down below and all around is nothing but dense woodland, stretching in all directions as far as the eye can see. Etrigan brings the ship to a halt, leaving it hovering over the canopy. "Hmm. I thought it'd be easier to find than this. The map says it should be here, but it just… isn't. …Should we disembark and take a look around?"
"It's not like we have another option," Hermodur nods. He grabs his stuff and stands ready to disembark.
"Are you certain that you aren't simply misguided, Master Etrigan?"
I look out over the dense forest. "Think the compass would help lead us the rest of the way? Unless part of the spring is underground or something. I'm pretty sure me and Vi ran into some of it a while back, so that wouldn't be too surprising, but we could specifically try to search for the flowers."
I pull out the second Compass of Want and do just that.
"While I am not a betting lizard, I imagine zhat one muzt rezt near ze locazion in order to find it. A zmall guezz into ze nature of ze plaze." Zunden muses.
I remain conflicted in Violet's changes, mostly spending my time enjoying the view as we sail along and making sure my potions are in order.
as we approach the location of the spring, i look over to see.. nothing?
"Hmm? how strange, the springs are missing?"
Rabi, for what it's worth, tries to keep Gawain in slightly better spirits- he might not be the best at it, though.>>744610>>744615
"As good an idea as any." he says, looking over the canopy and frowning. "No time like the present."
>>744612"I've never been wrong before,"
"We could just search from above," Aurora points out. "Probably best to disembark though.">>744615>>744618
"That's a good idea," Dawn chimes in. "Maybe they only reveal themselves at night?…">>744618>>744615>>744613>>744612>>744611>>744616
Etrigan brings the ship down in a small clearing, and lowers the ladder for you to descend. Violet opts to come along to explore a bit, wanting to spend a bit of time with the group before she leaves. You may have one other party member accompany you from here.
Norv's compass seems to point you in the right direction, but it leads right through the woods you're in, a dense thicket of bushes, saplings, vines, and other such greenery. It'll be difficult to carve a path through all this.>roll Navigation
Hermodur has claws for such occasions!
[1d10] navigationRoll #1 2 = 2
Aegis actively avoids getting any torns on her battle dress, traversing through the brambles with care
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
After spending the descending getting ready, I pull my coat on and slip my gas mask in my pocket, already having replaced my good luck charm from last night.
I sigh as I see just how dense the place is. Welp. Guess I didn't expect this to be easy.
[1d10]NavigationRoll #1 5 = 5
As we land, i take the time to add the plating to my battle dress, diembarking with a quiet clattering of mail.
"Right then, i suppose we should get started. A curious development, but i'm certain the springs are here somewhere.."
I follow the others as Norvy leads us further into the brush
[1d10] NavigationRoll #1 2 = 2
Zunden follows the others, not wanting to leave the ship but accepting she should be there to prevent any harm.
[1d10] navRoll #1 4 = 4
"I definitely trust Etrigan's judgement, that's for sure. This isn't much of anything I'm used to, but hopefully I won't get too
lost."Roll #1 7 = 7
Gawain accompanies you, flying down with a confident grin. "I'm certain we'll get to the bottom of this mystery!"
You start pushing through the undergrowth, to little effect. More than once you get completely turned around, despite the compass. You find a few paths laid out, but they don't help much as you push through all the greenery. It doesn't seem like this place gets many visitors. Gawain helps by taking the lead, hacking down the worst of it with his zweihander. Violet uses her dual blades as machetes to whack through it as well, but the more you cut down, the more seems to spring back up.
Before long, you're forced to face the facts. "Seems we're rather lost now," Gawain bemoans. "I-I'm sure we'll find this place eventually!" "Maybe we should retrace our footsteps and go back to the ship?" Violet suggests. "Try another path from there?"
Both your companions fall silent as you begin to hear voices in the distance.>roll Perception
"Now now, i'm sure this is but a minor setback! All we need is a few moments more with the compass and we'll be all set.. Now, which way is it pointing again?"
[1d10] navigationRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
Rabi flicks his ears, trying to listen carefully.>[1d10] Perception>[1d10] Navigation
"We could, yeah. Aside from that and 'keep going', I'm not really sure… well, what else. Maybe there's a way to… I dunno, look at this place differently?"Roll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
"I should have considered the possibility of us being lost. Forgive m-" Aegis cuts herself short and perks her ears at the sound of the voice
'1d10-1' perceptionRoll #1 10 - 1 = 9
Zunden keeps quiet, not wanting to alert those talking ahead. [1d10] percepRoll #1 4 = 4
I try to keep following the compass, but it pointing in a straight line seems like as much a problem now as ever. I pause and my ear twitches as I hear the voices.
[1d10]PerceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
You overhear parts of the conversation. Two male voices are speaking:
the woods. Why does she want this water anyway?"
"Who knows. Says it's to be able to see things?"
"What's that meant to mean?"
"I dunno. Ask her yourself when we get back."
"If we get back. Swear this place doesn't want us to be here. All these branches and vines and just, ugh."
"Why couldn't we have just been sent on a raid or something instead?"
"Shut it you two." A third male voice, gravelly and menacing. "Or I'll see you get thrown to Tiny when we get back."
Violet tenses up. "Sounds like bandits," she whispers.
"And they're as lost as we are," Gawain adds. "Should we try to take them on? Surely there's not as many of them as there are of us."
"I say we ignore them and keep searching. If we even can. I didn't miss this part of bushwalking."
You hear the faint rumble of thunder. Seems like a storm's coming eventually.
"I feel ambuzhing zhem in a plaze foreign to uz would be unwize, let uz be covert and try to find it dezpite zheir zimilar mizfortune." Zunden continues searching. [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
"Maybe we ought to keep searching, yeah. We're bound to find something eventually… or, maybe we won't. But, I'm sure we can figure out a way to find it.">[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"Judging by their conversation, they don't seem like common bandits. They must have been ordered by someone to come here. I think we should confront them now but if you think wiser to move on then so be it"
'1d10+2'Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
"But what stops them from ambushing us?" I whisper, pulling out my dart gun. We should probably take care of them now before they're a problem. I pull out a vial of sleeper poison and- I freeze. Am I seriously planning on ambushing three guys who I don't know anything about? I slide my dart gun back into my coat and nod. "Yeah. Let's keep looking.
[1d10]NavRoll #1 6 = 6
"So, they're searching for the springs as well? Interesting. With luck we can yet avoid them among the brush." i add, following Zunden's lead
[1d10] searchRoll #1 4 = 4
You creep closer to the voices, going as stealthily as you can. Before long they come into view. There's more than their voices suggested; a party of twelve, well armed and prepared for a lengthy journey. They seem to be currently huddled over a map, bickering amongst themselves, not noticing you. You also become aware that you have the high ground on them, though this might not be as much of an advantage as you'd hoped; the ground ahead slopes sharply downward, almost at a 90 degree angle. They're a good eight feet below you; you wouldn't be able to see them if it weren't for them clearing out bushes in their path. Getting down there will be tricky for those without wings.
Aegis takes a moment to get a good look at them. Seeing if she could find anything from their attire, equipment, weapons etc
"Plan?" Hermodur whispers.
peeking over the edge to see the armed group below, i pull back and turn to the others.
"My word, that's quite the group. There must be a way around them.. perhaps we should check the compass?"
'1d10' squintRoll #1 9 = 9
"Hrm… yeah. Let's look for a way around this, yeah?" he asks, trying to take a look for other ways around.>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
"Perhapz a diverzion in ze wrong direczion? Juzt have zomeone create a noize back ze way we came from."
Woah. Way more than I expected. I glance down at the compass to see if the group is going in the same direction. "Yeah," I agree. "A diversion is probably our best bet. Really don't need to take on that many ponies at once." I rub my chin. "But then again me and Silver could probably
pick a few off before a fight actually breaks out. Hit the leader with a sleeper dart and maybe get someone else before they actually find me. The forest is really dense, and if there weren't so many makin so much noise I doubt we woulda seen em. Same probably applies to them, right?"
They are of varied races, with no real uniform to their gear except the overall rough quality of it. Closer inspection though reveals a tattoo on each one's forelimb: a skull over two crossed axes. This coupled with their mean, weathered appearance seems to confirm Violet's suspicions of them being brigands.>>745033
Violet and Gawain both look at you, then back at the bandits, then shrug. "I say we try and avoid them," she says. "Or distract if we can. Don't fancy fighting all those guys at once." "Perhaps we can take them by surprise," Gawain suggests. "We do have the high ground.">>745034>>745038
The compass is pointing you straight ahead, directly through their numbers. They seem to be heading in that direction now, much to Violet's chagrin. "So much for sneaking around them. Looks like we're gonna be running into them eventually." "If we move quickly, we could beat them to the Spring," Gawain chimes in. "There's far less of us.">>745036
The cliff seems to slope a bit more gently down a ways off to the left. You could make your way down from there, or try and go down the steep slope. To the right, the foliage seems to let up a bit, opening into a small clearing. There could be a long way around that way.>>745037
"That could also work," Violet nods. "Only question is who's gonna try and draw them off."
Rabi hums a little as he tries to spy out a better way down, before flicking his ears and humming. "Maybe we could cause a distraction from a distance- like, an arrow?"
"Ah, that might work. Something akin to a flare? given their numbers they would be inclined to investigate, giving us time to circle around them."
I shake my head. "Beat them to the spring and then what? They're obviously going the same place as us. We're just as likely to run into them there and not have the advantage. Past setting traps once we get there I think we're just setting ourselves
up for an ambush by avoiding them." It does seem like I'm in the minority here, though. I rub the back of my neck. "But I guess if everyone else wants to try and avoid them then I don't want to give us away."
I try to think of something, but I brought pretty minimal gear. If I had the bell I might be able to have Butler do it. Pretty sure he can disappear at will, so probably wouldn't put him in any danger, but I left it back on the ship. I hum, taking a look around. "Maybe I can scout ahead and set some traps there. If we can move faster circling around maybe we can set an actual ambush up."
''Just and arrow?'' Aegis questions Rabi ''If they are not clueless they will just trace where it was fired from. How about something a bit more loud and compelling, like an explosion?''
"Mayhapz I could collect water uzing a rune, cauze a zplazh a wayz away. Perhapz zhey'll zhink ze Zpring iz zhat way."
Rabi blinks, before shaking his head a little "Oh! No, I don't use normal arrows, Aegis- I make them out of magic, so I could fire off a bolt of light or fire. Something kinda flashy?"
''Yes, the sound of water will surely bring them running if the Spring is what they're after. How much will be needed?'' Aegis presents a wooden bottle
"Hmm.. I suppose you have a point. If they are searching for the springs as well, leading them into a trap would be a better course. Numbers wouldn't matter if most are caught up in pitfalls or nets."
"I like to limit bloodzhed if pozzible, do we have enough time to zet zhoze kind of trapz? We have no way of guaranteeing ze direction zhey will go."
"This all based on the assumption we all can't simply mind our own business. Perhaps there's enough room at the spring for everypony?"
"You think you could set up some quick traps then, maybe? Might work."
I let out a dry chuckle. "That's assuming a lot from a group of bandits." >>745050
"If we can't get far enough ahead for me to set something quick up like a log trap or something then there's no point skirting around them to begin with because they'll catch up shortly after we make it to the spring. If I take my last swig of the strong ale then I can set up a pretty hefty log attached to a tripwire. Could take a bunch of them out at once.">>745048
I turn the compass around. "But we do. They're probably following their own compass of want. Which, if they're anything like me -and by the way they're hacking through the forest they probablh are- they're making a beeline. Unless there are obstacles you can't hack through if we're in a position where the compass points straight ahead we're somewhere we'll probably cross their path."
"I'll prepare a rune to return you to uz in ze caze you get captured, zhen."
"If you're sure, then."
"Between the ale and the rune, we may as well give it a try. Shall we circle around them while you prepare the trap ahead?"
I laugh. "Thanks for the vote of confidence. Probably still good to have, just in case.">>745053
I nod. "I'm sure. Like I said, it's better than getting ambushed by a dozen brigands while our backs are turned."
I pull my coat off, peel off the mournwing cloak, and slip it on back over the coat. "I'll be back."
I make my way into the forest, keeping to thicker brush as I make my way straight ahead.
[1d10+2]StealthRoll #1 5 + 2 = 7
Roll #1 8 = 8
Zunden begins preparing an orb
[1d10] Return (frozen)
Roll #1 6 = 6
"Be careful," says Violet slightly anxiously.
You take off from the rest of the group, looking around the dense underbrush for a fallen log somewhere ahead. It doesn't take too long to find one; a hefty black-barked hulk of wood, covered in moss and fungi, twice as wide as you and about four times as tall. It's the trunk of a dead tree. You've positioned yourself somewhat far ahead; however, you find yourself facing a problem. You won't be able to move this log or set up your trap without making significant noise. It's sure to draw attention to yourself, so you'll have to work quick.>>745057
You conjure yourself a Return rune.
Not content with the held orb's strength, she uses it on a fallen branch, attempting to make a strong orb with the sun's burst.
 Return branch to tree
[1d10+1] Return (Frozen)Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3
I take a step back and look at the surroundings. Rubbing my chin, I try to find a good spot where most of them will probably be funneled through. Between a couple trees or something. I know the sinew probably won't hold it, so I try to find some nice, thick vines. If I do I throw one over the top of one of the tree limbs between the trees, then save one to attach to the trigger.
Once I get an idea of how I'm actually going to set it up, I get to work.
[1d10]One to find sturdy vines
[1d10]One to rig the trap
[1d10]One to be quietRoll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
/ Roll #3 3 = 3
Ruse the one, good luck charm the 3.
With not too much else to do, Rabi will wait patiently.
You watch as a nearby branch floats off the ground and reattaches itself to a nearby try, the splinters and cracks sealing as if it had never been. Violet watches in slight awe. "You've gotta tell me where you learned all that sometime. That's so cool."
You fail to conjure another for now.>>745060
With a bit of ingenuity, you manage to set your trap, finding some powerful vines and using them to rig the log trap. Moving the log around with the Whale Ale makes a whole lot of noise though. You hear the nearby bandits get alerted to your presence…>>745062>>745059>>745054>>745046>>745033
Not long after Norv takes off, you hear some loud rustling in the undergrowth from his location. The bandits seem alerted.
"Something crawling about. …Cara, Millwood, Jorran, Garth, you're volunteering to investigate."
"Shut up and go. Now
Four bandits begrudgingly split off to investigate, at the behest of their leader. He is a one eyed, snaggle-toothed Diamond Dog with a wild mane of brown fur.
Violet and Gawain shrink away from the cliff edge and look back at you with concern. "Now what?"
Well, guess they heard me. Still, doubt they have any idea what I was actually up to. Might not be a bad thing if it lures them in. I load a sleeper poison dart into my dart gun and try to slip back into the brush before they actually catch up and find me.
[1d10+2]StealthRoll #1 7 + 2 = 9
''Master Rabi, I think now is the time for the 'flashy' arrows''
"Well… hrm. We better be ready to move fast, then- They might've spotted him." he says, frowning a little.>>745065
He flicks his ears a little, before looking to Aegis "Hmm? Might be, yeah- if everyone's sure, I can fire it off to distract them."
Zunden chuckles quietly, "Black Pudding taught me runecraft, unfortunately."
Zunden tries preparing the Return rune again, a little frustrated.
[1d10] Return (frozen)Roll #1 8 = 8
Hermodur quietly draws Mjolnir and revs it up out of sight.
He sizes up the lead bandit.
>Hunter's Eye Diamond Dog bandit leader
"Hmm.. Perhaps i can move into position while they're busy. A spot of sleeping poison will certainly help."
crouching low, i slink into the treeline, circling down into the foliage to wait nearby.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 8 = 8
''We'll see if we can trust Master Norvegicus to succeed, and if not Zunden can bring him in, but in either case stand ready to fire at moment's notice''
Aegis follows her advice and summons a set of crystal orbs behind her
'1d10' homing magic, iceRoll #1 7 = 7
You hide in the bushes, laying on your belly as they approach. A squad of four approach; a griffon, an earth pony, a crocodile saurian and a Dog. They look armed to the teeth, and are moving in single file, scanning the area intently.>>745067
Your Return rune flips about like a coin as you conjure it. "Never heard of such a thing," Violet remarks, watching with interest.>>745068
You keep an eye on the leader. He seems to be scanning the horizon with his single eye at the moment, doubtless looking out for any other threats.
Violet nods. "I'll go with Silver and catch them off guard." She grabs her dual blades, frowning a little as she briefly wonders what happened to her spear, and takes off after Silver into the bushes. "I'll, er, stay my ground with the rest of you, I suppose," Gawain says sheepishly. "I've never been good at staying quiet for too long."
Two icy orbs manifest behind you with a subtle hiss.>>745069
As the bandits start putting themselves on alert, you flit out of sight, taking the long way around to hide in the nearby foliage, completely hidden. You are aware of Violet following you, soon splitting up to flank them.Roll #1 2 = 2
''We'll be the artillery then, Master Rabi, be ready''
Aegis turns to Gawain ''Master Sir Gawain, you'll be our first defence, dont let them get to us''
I quietly lie in wait with my dart gun at the ready. As I see them start to make their way this way, I search on the ground for a rock or stick or something and toss it a little away from the tripwire, attempting to coax them toward it. I should have left something subtle as bait, but I guess it's too late now.
"Of course. I'll be ready." the stallion says, putting his magic bow away in ordr to ready the Dragonslayer Yumi.
safe in the undergrowth, i prep my shivs and wait for the commotion of traps sprung.
"I only see the leader. You'll have to tell me when to unleash hell on him."
"Zymbolz of baze conzeptz, zhat are zhaped by one'z interpretation of ze conzept, wizh zheir power defined by zheir meaning and intent." Zunden says, shaping another as she watches Violet follow Silver.
[1d10] Severance (frozen)Roll #1 7 = 7
You grab a rock and throw it. The griffon perks up. "Over there. Easy now. We don't know what we're dealing with."
"Probably just a mosscat or something," the earth pony gripes, picking her teeth.
The saurian takes the lead. "Don't worry lads, I'll find whatever's out there. I've got the ears of a fox and th-"WHAM
He doesn't get the chance to finish his sentence as he springs the trap. The log swings towards them, throwing all four bandits into the bushes like bowling pins. Three of them are out of commission, but the fourth, the mare, seems relatively unharmed. She pulls herself up and starts running back to raise the alarm. "Men down! Men down!">>745076
"The only problem is how to get down there safely and in a timely fashion," Gawain muses. "I have wings so I can fly, but you…" Idea. "Say. What if I were to give you a boost?" he suggests.>>745077
You conjure another orb. The eyes blink and look around before settling into their usual shape.>>745077>>745076>>745075>>745074>>745072
You don't have to wait long. You hear a commotion of splintering wood, followed by yelling. The bandit leader turns sharply, growling. "Ambush. Stay close, boys. Someone's got the drop on us!" They start heading towards Norv's position.
Springing into action, i wait for the bandits to begin moving, creeping forward to stab the bandit furthest back, applying a coating of midnight oil as i approach.
[1d10] Sleep serumRoll #1 8 = 8
I draw a bead on the bandit leader, take a small breath, hold, and squeeze.
[Cheap shot, automatic, autocrit]
''Now'' Aegis muters before getting a bit closer to the cliff's edge for a clear shot and unleashing frozen hell on the nearest bandit
'1d10' homing Magic, ice
'2d10' Magic bolt, iceRoll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
/ Roll #3 4, 5 = 9
Zunden prepares the final orb of hers, watching from more of a distance.
[1d10] Union (frozen)Roll #1 6 = 6
"I can make do," Hermodur says to Gawain as he swings back Mjolnir like a golf club. The front opens up. He launches a magic ball at the bandit leader.
>[1d10+3] [1d10+3] ranged attack>DC-1, take the higher rollRoll #1 7 + 3 = 10
/ Roll #2 6 + 3 = 9
Rabi nods a little bit and draws back the bowstring, forming a bolt out of light and firing it at the bandits. The bolt spreads out into a wave, trying to catch a couple of the bandits
>Dragonslayer Yumi (Light Element, Cleave 3): [1d10+2]Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10
Well, three ain't bad. I wait until the still standing mare is out of sight and step out of the brush, circling back around toward where the group was to wait, watch the fight from the side, and wait for a good opportunity to snooze someone.
You shank one in the back, wrapping one hoof around his mouth and dragging him into the bushes. He's out like a light in a matter of seconds, and no one is the wiser.>>745081
Your volley of magic misses, hitting the side of a dead tree. It seems to weaken the trunk; you hear a wooden creaking and groaning after the fact. The bandit, a blunderbuss-wielding griffon, yelps and takes to the air!>>745082
The familiar three rings coalesce with a faint clang
You hit him straight in the chest, making him stagger backwards and take a knee. He clutches his chest and looks upward, face twisted in pain and anger. He lets out an inarticulate cry, pointing towards you as he makes eye contact. The other bandits are on full alert, and start swarming to attack the party!>>745084
You anchor the longbow and draw an arrow of light, which bursts in a brilliant display, blinding three of the bandits. They yell and cower, raising their arms to defend themselves.>>745085
The fight is only just beginning. Seems the party took the opportunity to spring their ambush!>>745085>>745084>>745083>>745082>>745081>>745079
The bandit leader, whose name is Ahab, pulls out a black longbow and fires an arrow at Hermodur!
[1d10+1] [1d10+1] Higher roll succeeds
The blunderbuss griffon runs and guns, flying toward Aegis and opening fire!
Two crossbow wielding Felids, including one who was blinded by the light arrow, fire at Rabi and Aegis respectively!
[1d10] vs Rabi, DC8
[1d10] vs Aegis
Those without ranged weapons start heading up and around to your location. Violet takes the opportunity to pounce out at one and tackle him to the ground!
Gawain lets out a battle cry and swoops down to meet them, unsheathing his zweihander!Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3
/ Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4
/ Roll #3 7 = 7
/ Roll #4 9 = 9
/ Roll #5 6 = 6
/ Roll #6 4 = 4
Zunden prepares for battle, heading towards those with ranged weapons while channeling magic.
>Bask: Flash>move zones
Hermodur side-steps the arrow while he swings another ball of energy at Captain Ahab.
>[1d10+3] [1d10+3] ranged attack>DC-1, take the higher rollRoll #1 1 + 3 = 4
/ Roll #2 8 + 3 = 11
Rabi nods a little bit to himself, and tries to line up another shot- this time, aiming for one of the ones moving towards them.>Lightning Bolt: [1d10+2] [1d10+2] )Take Higher)Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
/ Roll #2 1 + 2 = 3
With one dispatched and my cover intact, i approach the leader of their band, applying a blinding agent to my shivs next, waiting for him to turn before slinging the soaked blade at his face!
[1d10] BlindRoll #1 1 = 1
I stick to the shadows in the treeline, looking for the best one to fire on. Seems Hermodur has the leader under control, so I fire at one of the crossbow weilding felids.
[1d10]Cheap shot, improvise, autocritRoll #1 2 = 2
Aegis raises her shield in front of her and backs off, reloading
'1d10' homing magic, iceRoll #1 6 = 6
You join the fray as Gawain charges in to 1v4 the bandits.>>745088
Your ball of energy sends him barreling backward, slamming into the tree Aegis hit. It creaks even more, and you hear wood splintering. Groaning, he pulls himself up, minding the delicate tree.>>745089
Despite being blinded, the Felid manages to clear his vision, firing a crossbow bolt at you. A rush of pain shoots up your right foreleg as it hits you in the elbow. You stumble backwards and fall momentarily.>Rabi takes 5 hits, helpless>>745090
As Ahab recovers from getting hit by Hermodur's blast, you rush out to try and blind him. His ears prick up, and at the last moment he shoots a powerful arm out with a snarl, grabbing you by the face and throwing you to the ground. Without hesitating, he wraps the longbow over your head and starts pulling you backwards!>Silver takes 5 hits, helpless>grappled>>745091
The Felid that shot at Aegis does a little 'huh?', turning around. He does a double take and smacks you in the jaw with the butt of the crossbow. You see stars!>Norv takes 4 hits>>745092
You back off and conjure another orb, but are not quite fast enough to avoid the incoming shots. You are hit by two quarrels and the blunderbuss shot, knocking you over, winded.>Aegis takes 5 hits, helpless>1 homing magic orb>>745087>>745088>>745089>>745090>>745091>>745092
Violet's attack misses as her attacker sidesteps her, kicking her in the back. She grunts and whirls around, lashing out with her dual blades and engaging the bandit in single combat!
Gawain takes on two of the other bandits at once, cleaving at them with his sword!
A fourth bandit breaks off, going after Zunden with an axe!
The griffon shotgunner starts flying to target Zunden!
Ahab yanks Silver backward, one hand on the bow and another grabbing her by the mane. He grins evilly in Hermodur's direction as he starts using her as a meat shield!
The Felid Norv attacked extends his claws and lashes out at him!
The other Felid breaks off and starts gunning for Violet!Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
/ Roll #3 8 = 8
Zunden raises her claw, beckoning her allies to rise again through the healing power of her magic.
[1d10] Healing Bonds, Rabi, Silver, Aegis>Temperance if failsRoll #1 1 = 1
Grimacing, Aegis tries rolling back to her hooves and into action
'1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
Rabi lets out a panicked whinny, before muttering "A-At least it's not the bad leg.">Recovery: Arabian Endurance
I wobble a little and shake my head trying to get my sight strait. Everything comes back into focus right as the felid swipes its claws at me. Instead of trying to get away, I growl, pop my sun, and lunge at him, trying to bite him.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
Slammed into the ground with my mane being painfully pulled, i grit my teeth and buck against his grip!
"Why the nerve! Unhoof me this instant!"Roll #1 9 = 9
Hermodur pauses briefly. Then, he smirks. Ahab is underestimating them. He's underestimating Silver. And, he's underestimating Hermodur's resolve to attack anyway.
He swings for another attack. Either Silver will get out of the way in time, or he's wrong, he'll hit them both, and he'll likely lose his grip on her.
>[1d10+3] [1d10+3] ranged attack>DC-1, take the higher rollRoll #1 10 + 3 = 13
/ Roll #2 3 + 3 = 6
Zunden spins around and lashes with her tail, tripping up the axe wielding bandit before channeling healing magic into her allies. They all find their wounds healing as quickly as they appeared, and filled with the strength to keep fighting.>Rabi, Silver, Aegis all healed>>745097
You heal yourself with the sun, but are unable to dodge the incoming claw swipe. Gashes appear across your chest with a spurt of red. Instinctively, you rush forward, biting his shoulder briefly. You get a mouthful of fur. The bandit yowls and pulls back, doing a bit of a capoeira spin before getting into a defensive position.>>745099>>745098
Silver manages to pull away just in time, kicking Ahab in the shins and pulling the longbow off of her. He growls and barks ferally, grimacing in pain, only to get blasted in the face by Hermodur's attack. He hits the tree again. The impact proves too much for it to handle, and it starts splintering and cracking…>Silver roll to dodge>>745099>>745094>>745095>>745096>>745097>>745098
The axe bandit gets back up and shakes his head before charging Zunden again!
The shotgunner, now in range, fires at her!
Gawain strikes both bandits down in one mighty swing. Without missing a beat, he rushes to help Zunden, Rabi and Aegis!
The brigand attacking Violet headbutts her, knocking her to the floor. Seeing him having the situation under control, the other Felid instead fires at Aegis!
The Felid fighting Norv extends his other set of claws, swiping furiously at him!
Ahab looks up in slight horror as the tree begins to collapse. He's too weak to get out of its way, but chooses to take this last opportunity. He pulls out a metal orb and whispers something to it before throwing it at Hermodur!Roll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
/ Roll #3 8 = 8
/ Roll #4 3 = 3
/ Roll #5 9 = 9
Holding out her ring, Zunden explodes in a ray of light.
[1d10+2] Flash: spell, recharge 3; Emit a burst of magical energy, attuned to Light. Affects enemies all around you, but does not deal damage unless on crit, instead debuffing them with the effects of the Light element. (The target is momentarily blinded, suffering +1 DC to all rolls on its next turn, or +2 on a crit. This damage type deals twice as many hits versus undead enemies. Radiant spells can be used to illuminate the environment, providing a dazzling light source.)Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
It's an unlikely shot, but you know what? What the hell, why not? Hermodur decides he doesn't want this man to succeed at anything. So, he aims his next shot specifically for the tiny ball.
>[1d10+2] [1d10+2]>ranged attack, DC-1Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
/ Roll #2 1 + 2 = 3
Kicking away from the dog, my elation is cut short as the sound of the tree collapsing brings me back to attention. Scrambling to get away from the tree, i use the commotion to slip back into the shadows.
[1d10] stealthRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
renewed, Aegis tries shooting the gryphon with the blunderbuss out of the skies again
'1d10' homing magic, ice
'2d10' magic bolt, iceRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 3, 6 = 9
"Thanks, Zunden!" he manages, before lining up a shot at the Axe Bandit and the Shotgun-Wielding Bandit.>Magic Bow (Lightning, Split): [1d10+2]Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
Not letting up, I focus completely on the felid attacking me. Not having an actual weapon, I pull the sleeper coated dart out and let my dart gun fall to the ground. Trying to step inside the felid's claws, I lunge out and attempt to stab the dart into the side of his neck.
[1d10]Cheap ShotRoll #1 7 = 7
You move away, avoiding taking an axe blow to the collar. The buckshot from the blunderbuss catches you, though, peppering you with shrapnel. It smarts like nothing else.>Zunden takes 2 hits>>745102
It's an almost impossibly precise shot you're aiming. Your fireball goes wide, but only by a hair.>>745103
You try to scramble away, avoiding getting crushed by the falling tree, but a branch splinters off and hits you on the head. You are knocked to the ground, only just managing to get back up.>Silver takes 3 hits>>745104
You clip his wing, forcing him to land momentarily. He grunts and turns to face you, reloading.>>745105
Your shot misses, electrifying a nearby boulder.>>745106
You charge him. You feel a flash of blinding pain as his claws sink into your gut, but you manage to stab him in the neck with the dart. He gasps, reels, then his eyes roll up and he slumps over. Exhausted from the exertion, you find yourself sinking to the forest floor on your hands and knees.>Norv takes 4 hits, helpless>>745106>>745105>>745104>>745102>>745101>>745103
An almighty creaking and crashing rings out as the tree gives in, falling and crushing Ahab under its enormous weight. The ground quakes, and a cloud of dirt and debris flies up, limiting your vision momentarily. Through it all, Zunden thrusts her fist into the air, a flash of blinding light sweeping across the battlefield. Those bandits that are left are incapacitated by the burst of light, blinded and knocked away.
It seems the worst of it is over; however, Hermodur notices the metal orb is emitting a sinister fizzling sound…>Hermodur roll to avoid the grenade blast
Zunden waits a small bit to make sure Ahab as expired before returning the tree in place with a rune carved into the tree.
[1d10] ReturnRoll #1 8 = 8
My chest heaves as I look over the felid, and I clutch at my stomach. I wince and pull my paw away as a sharp pain shoots back through it. My mind wanders back to that cannibal in the Shifting Sands so long ago, and the scar across my face aches with a phantom pain that feels almost as real as the slashes across my chest and stomach. Something seems different, but I can't really figure out what.
I jump as the tree slams into the ground, pulling my thoughts away. Right. Battlefield. Even though most of the bandits are out of commission probably better to focus for now. Drawing in a sharp breath as I try to stand back up.
[1d10]RecoveryRoll #1 10 = 10
Aegis trades glares with him, looking down at the gryphon from her high ground, reloading as well
'1d10' homing magic, iceRoll #1 3 = 3
"Shit," is all Hermodur has time to say before he holds up the shield to activate it's mostly-broken magic.
>Bulwark [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Gah- almost. Everyone alright?">>745111
"S-Shouldn't have said anything." he says, folding his ears back as he spots the grenade.
mostly clearing the tree's collapse, i briefly see stars when a splintered branch bonks my head. with a pained hiss, i shake it off and return to the others.
"Phew.. Is everypony alright? Have we sent them scattering to the wind?"
You invoke Return, but it's only partially successful. The tree starts lifting slowly before suspending in midair. A closer look reveals it's falling in slow motion; it'll be a few minutes before it's back where it just was. The grisly crushed remains of Ahab lie beneath.>>745109
You stand back up, looking around and getting your bearings. Seems the fight's over, for now.
You feel an unexpected tap on your shoulder. It's Violet. She's holding some medicinal herbs, looking a bit roughed up but in decent shape all things considered. "Here. You might want to line those wounds with these, if Zunden doesn't have time for us. …You alright?">>745110
The griffon is no more, having been knocked out by Zunden's blast of light. Looks like it's all clear now.>>745111
You lurch backwards and throw the battered shield up to defend yourself from the explosion. A deafening BOOM
rings out as the grenade goes off, with a flash of flame and magical blue smoke. Your ears ring as you recover, dizzy but otherwise unharmed. Your shield, however, is a goner. It absorbed the brunt of the explosion, getting shredded and warped into an unusable mess of steel. It's not much more than scrap now.
You look around. Everyone seems a bit out of sorts, some more injured than others, but nothing fatal.
With everyone relatively healthy, i brush myself off and approach the crushed form of ahab, picking through the remains for a hint of their plans.
"Now then, just what was their plans for the spring? perhaps this one has an answer.."Roll #1 3 = 3
I take a deep breath and let it out, glancing at Vi long enough to take the herbs. I begin gently applying them to my wounds and nod. "Yeah," I say. Not really sure how convincing it is if I can't even convince myself. "Yeah. I'm fine. Thanks. Plus the plan went off without a hitch."
"Everyone alright?" The stallion asks, leaning over the side of the cliff and looking for the others.
Zunden scooches the corpse out of the way of the log with her staff, letting the tree fall back down slowly after it's been nudged out of the way. She gives the body a glance over to see if it had anything of interest on it, whether it be valuables, notes, or insignia denoting their allegience.
Zunden turns her head to the loud explosion, "Are you alright Hermodur? Zhat waz a razher alarming noize."Roll #1 9 = 9
Aegis dismisses her magic, but remains alert, looking around the battlefield for any remaining counscious survivors to interrogate
"I'm fine," Hermodur says as he rubs at his ringing ears. "My shield is more or less destroyed, though…" he says, looking it over.
Zunden looks to the tree, and remembers how the tomb golem's shield would return every time he threw it with the use of her runes.
"Let me try zomezhing."
>Spending held Return (8) to return the shield to the state it was in moments ago.
There's not much left to go through. Most of his gear was destroyed by the tree.>>745393
The medicinal herbs start easing the pain, and accelerating the healing process.>Norv heals 1 wound
"More or less," she nods. "You did good. Really good. Looks like you've been busy while I was… gone." She looks a bit uncomfortable all of a sudden, and breaks eye contact.>>745395
Everyone seems to be alright. A bit roughed up, but nothing serious.>>745396
They seem to be Bloody Mummers, from the crossed axes tattoo they all sport. You find a crumpled up note in Ahab's coat pocket, but it seems to be written in some sort of code at first glance.>>745398>>745399
It works, to a degree. The shield's still battered, and nowhere near as good as it used to be, but it's not completely broken.>>745397>>745399>>745392>>745393>>745395>>745398
You notice one of the nearby bandits stirring, groaning softly as she pulls herself up and starts limping away before anyone can catch her. When she notices eyes on her, she starts hobbling a bit faster with a panicked grunt.
"Ah- Should we, uh, just let her go? She definitely isn't going to be a danger anymore, but… I don't know what you all want."
I softly exhale a tightness in my chest as the wounds close up a little and the pain eases. "Yeah," I say, letting out a quiet chuckle. Still, I don't look up. "I've changed a lot. More confident in my abilities. Learned to do new things, or learned new ways to do things I already knew. You weren't any small part of it, either, you know." I put my dart gun away for now. "You helped me out a lot. Basic combat, but also helped me learn to hide and sneak better. I guess you probably noticed that, though."
Zunden fetches the note from the captain's pocket, "Could azk her to tranzlate zhiz note firzt, zhen I'd heal her and let her be on her way."
"I think that'd be a good idea, actually. No need to rough her up any more than we already have."
I sigh, use another dose of my dwindling sleeper poison to coat a dart, and pull out my dart gun. Taking aim at the retreating bandit, I pull the trigger, shooting her in the back.
"There. She should pass out. Problem solved. Now if there was anyone she could have alerted, she can't."Roll #1 4 = 4
Aegis fires off an unrefined bolt of ice on the mare's tail, gluing it to the ground ''Stop, we have some questions to ask before you can leave'' She says as she approaches, looking down on the wounded Mummer
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
"Ah, a note! Perhaps orders from a higher position?">>745400
My attention is drawn to the others finding a survivor. With an avenue of inquiry found, i rush to grab her, wings quickly propelling me up and towards her!>bounce
[1d10] GrappleRoll #1 5 = 5
"Thanks," Hermodur says with a nod as he looks it over again. "It's at least as good as it was before the explosion. How hard would it be to return it to its original state?">>745400
Hermodur swings Mjolnir again, aiming for in front of the fleeing mummer to knock her backwards with the ensuing explosion of force.
[1d10+2] [1d10+2]>DC-1, take the larger rollRoll #1 5 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #2 3 + 2 = 5
Gawain flies over and lands next to you with a loud clank and a thud. "Let her go, I say," he chimes in. "They can't harm us from here. By the time they can bring reinforcements, we'll be long gone!"
"She might know something useful," Violet>>745404
You look over the note. It's written plainly, but reads like gibberish:Trouble of feathers case in you beak with group a nest take
Hideout our wings of north days talon three spring egg the find chick you'll fly
Himself for peck water that bird of sample a preen wants he perch
The note is signed M, and features the familiar Mummer logo drawn clumsily. For deciphering the note itself, it seems to be cluttered with irrelevant words…>>745403
She nods. "You've come a long way since that beach. The Norv I knew wouldn't have done what he just did." She gives you a friendly pat on the back and goes to rejoin the others.>>745406
She looks back, yelps slightly, and breaks into a pained sprint. You miss your shot.>>745407>>745410
Your ice bolt fizzles in midair ineffectively.>>745411
You fly up and soar toward her. She lurches to the side at the last minute, kicking up dirt in your face to stop you from following her.>>745413>>745411>>745410>>745406>>745404>>745402
Hermodur's bolt causes a small explosion of dirt, twigs and leaves, sending the bandit stumbling backwards and flat on her ass. Violet and Gawain rush forward to flank her, stopping her from escaping. The bandit growls and starts futilely looking around, eyes darting around the forest for an escape route. It doesn't look like there is one.
''Thank you Master Hermodur. She has been surprisingly slippery… Now'' Aegis approaches the bandit ''You will tell us what you know and what were your ground looking for in this place''
Hermodur nods toward Aegis. He looms over the mummer as Aegis asks the questions, looking intimidating.
>[1d10+2] intimidationRoll #1 5 + 2 = 7
I put my dart gun away again and join the rest of the group, taking the time to look around the general area for my lost dart. For now I stay out of the interrogation, letting either scarrier or more diplomatic handle her for now.
"Zhat iz a queztion for a zmizh, not myzelf. I have been able to uze ze Return rune to return zhingz to how zhey were momentz ago, but I imagine I'd have to be well ztuddied in runecraft to know how to return zhingz to how zhey were weekz or monzh ago.">>745415
Zunden hums and looks over the note, trying to make sense of it.
[1d10] roll cause im low energy and dont wanna figure out irlRoll #1 5 = 5
Landing to shake my mane and wipe the dirt out of my face, i trot over, annoyance turning to surprise as i see Aegis take the lead.
"It would be wise to cooperate." i chime in "fleeing with injuries like those, you likely won't get far."
[1d10+2] persuasionRoll #1 1 + 2 = 3
Rabi looks away from the bandit and over to Zunden, cocking his head to the side. "Hmm? Is there something written on it, Zunden? Looks like it, at least."
There's an awful lot of references to birds in the message. They don't seem very relevant.>>745416>>745417>>745421
She scowls at first, kicking to get away, but grimacing in pain at her wounded leg. "I don't have to tell you nothing," she growls. "What do you care? Just finish me and be done with it.">>745418
You manage to find the dart.
"The fight is over. There's no reason to kill you," Hermodur speaks up. "You're no threat to us. But, we do have questions. So, you can either walk away having given us the information we need. Or, you can hobble away after I cripple you. Your choice."
[1d10+2] intimidationRoll #1 3 + 2 = 5
"Aha, it'z backwardz. Zhat wazn't zo bad."
Zunden clears her throat, reading the full mezzage out loud, "Take a group wizh you in caze of trouble. You'll find ze zpring zhree dayz Norzh of our hideout. He wantz a Zample of zhat water for himzelf.">>745428>>745422>>745421>>745418
"Zheir hideout iz zhree dayz Zouzth from here, we zhould ze about dizmantling it before continuing."
''That will not be necessary Master Hermodur, this is the perfect opportunity for me to test this properly'' Aegis pulls out the Maiden of Woe from her bag, floating it omniously in sight of the mare with its spiky opening laid bare
''Are you afraid of pain? If you are you should start talking now''
I put the dart away and turn my attention to the adamamtly resisting bandit. I still have the Bileblood venom. That's supposed to hurt like the dickens. I could probably get her to talk if I just- I pause that train of thought and my stomach sinks a little. No. That- that'd be really messed up. What kind of hero would do something like that?
I blanch. What kind of hero would crush three people with a giant log? I continue to stay silent for now.>>745429
I nod. "Yeah, probably."
"Well, nice. We're pretty close then, but they sounded a little lost themselves, didn't they?" he asks, cocking his head to the side.>>745430
Rabi lets out a nervous whinny, before waving his hooves a bit. "M-Maybe not using that."
"Oh? A Mummer's camp so close to here?"
"I suppose if we have the time for it.. It would
make our presence known, leaving the camp in ruins."
"Go ahead," she taunts, "do your worst. I don't even know anything, and even if I did, I'd never talk. Bigger than you have tried to take us down. Do what you will, it won't get you anything." She hocks and spits a bloody gob on Hermodur's clothes.
''Why not? We gave her a chance to say it herself and to let her go, now I will give her the chance to prove her loyalty''>>745428>>745439
''Very well. Master Hermodur, hold her down for me''
Hermodur doesn't respond to the spit. It only adds to the blood and mess of his outfit. It makes him look more intimidating.
He follows directions and holds her down.
[1d10] if necessaryRoll #1 10 = 10
With the mare properly immobilized, Aegis proceeds to take her blood with the Iron Maiden
''Now, you will tell us everything you know. The name of who you work for, what do they want the spring water for and where exactly your hideout is''
Hermodur pins her down, immobilizing the bandit. Gawain looks uncomfortable. "Is this really necessary?" he asks. "We got the note from Zunden, I don't see why we should…" Violet frowns. "What… what are you two doing?"
The bandit rolls her eyes at the maiden. "What, you going to poke me to death? I told you, no one ever tells me nothing. Ahab just led us all out to the middle of nowhere. Now quit messing around and let me go, you pricks." She struggles uselessly.
"I'm sure you're telling the truth. At this point, I'm just doing this because you spat on me."
Aegis just silently waits, cold eyes locked on the mare's face as she closed the maiden
I rub my eyes and shake my head. Without saying anything else, I walk away so I don't have to watch this.
Rabi tilts his head to the side, and frowns. "That doesn't really sound… hrm. You just kind of follow along blindly? Whatever works, I guess."
"Why should I care about the details, long as I'm getting paid," she smirks. "Where do you think we are, mate.">>745450
"Yeah? Have another." She spits again.>>745452>>745454>>745453>>745450>>745435>>745429
You hear a low throbbing sound as Aegis closes the maiden. It starts to pulse in her hoof like a beating heart, the cracks on its surface glowing red and black. The bandit hisses sharply and tenses up, groaning in pain and kicking frantically. The groan turns into a scream of abject pain that echoes through the forest, startling some nearby birds.
Gawain looks deeply disturbed. "That's barbaric! Stop it at once!" he demands. Violet looks like she's going to be sick.
"Zhat iz enough, Aegiz. We know where zheir camp iz, zhere iz no reazon to torture her for informazion zhat izn't needed." Zunden says sternly.
Aegis stays put, and waits a second or two longer before she opens the Maiden, releasing the mare from torment
''How about now? Will you speak?''>>745458
''There is no information that isnt needed'' the crystal mare spares Zunden a glance
"I do also have business with her, anyway. I need to know where a stolen shipment of a rare metal went."
A-Aegis, cut it out!" the stallion shouts, letting out a disturbed whinny. "We had what we needed, didn't we?"
I watch with interest as the maiden activates, seeing the bandit writhe in pain from the magic taking hold.
"Goodness.. what a torturous trinket. I had seen it before but never while active."
''Not yet Master Rabi. Do not give her undeserved sympathy, she would not do the same for you. Steel your heart to it''
Finally, I turn to Aegis. "Alright, Aegis, Z is right. Stop. We know where their base is. That's all we really need if we're going to do anything. What kind of information are you even trying to get from her?"
''Were you not listening Master Norvegicus? I want to know their leader, who they are, what do they want the water for, and Master Hermodur wants to know something as well. This is necessary''
"Is it really? We're going to go deal with them after this. Same result with less boundary crossing. This is really messed up, Aegis."
You hear faint, deep whispering as the maiden opens. She doesn't answer you for a while, heaving with shuddering raspy breaths. "…I… I swear, I don't know anything. We were just told to follow Ahab. I heard something about a spring, but that's it. Gods, what the hell did you…?"
"We must be better than this," Gawain says darkly. Violet just stares in disbelief, shaking her head slightly.>>745468>>745469
"We know most of that already!" Violet points out, her voice trembling slightly. "We…. You can't do this. Give that to me. We have to get rid of it." She takes a step toward Aegis firmly.>>745462
She looks over to you wearily. "What, is that what this is about? You're really determined to get those rocks back, cat."
"I will perzonally dizenchant ze artifact if you continue to uze it in zhiz way, Aegiz Glaze. Ceaze at onze." Zunden says, visibly preparing a spell.
"Oh. Wow. I'm surprised you actually know something," Hermodur says genuinely, but in a dry tone.>>745476>>745474>>745473
"No one has any objections to crippling, yes? I mean, I've already done it before."
''I take no pleasure from this, but if we want to end Lysander, we might need to get used to fighting on his level. Using whatever means necessary and taking any possible advantage we can get. This is a sample of what we might have to face''>>745474
''…I see'' Aegis puts away the maiden, turning to Gawain ''This is not about being better or worse Master Gawain. I will personally take any measure needed to save this realm and the Domain from Lysander and the Cuckoo. Her suffering means nothing compared to the existence of all we know''
Then to Violet ''No'' She says simply, keeping the maiden well hidden in her bag>>745476
''Very well. Now that I know if works properly, I will save it as a last resort. Do what you want with her and lets move on''
She's right. "You're wrong. We're better than him and can keep being better than him. This? This isn't right.">>745477
"Are you serious
? Just leave her alone. We took care of this already. It's done. We know what we need to know. Let's move on and get what we came here for."
"A fascinating item you've found, Aegis. As morally dubious as it is, it's effectiveness isn't without merit, though perhaps we should save it for a more.. connected target.">>745477
"There is the alternative of Zunden healing her, though the concern of her warning the other mummers of our coming is something to make note of."
"It is up to your discretion otherwise, Hermodur.">>745474
"Right then.. I suppose we should check the compass for the location of this camp, Hmm? Making our presence known by clearing them out would only benefit our plans."
"I still need to know where they took the ore. And, she's actually indicated she knows where it is. This isn't pointless," Hermodur says to Norv. "And, you haven't had any objection the other times I did this."
"And, her warning her allies is a concern regardless of what I do," Hermodur addresses Silver.
"Only that it happened. What, you want to talk to my boss or something? He's right over there." She points at the fallen tree.
"W-we've spilled enough blood here already," says Violet with a haunted expression. Gawain simply shakes his head in disapproval.>>745479
"We don't do this," Violet says firmly. She doesn't back down. "We're not highwaymen. We can't go around torturing people. By all rights we shouldn't even be attacking these bandits unless we have to. I don't know who you think you are, but the friends I knew would never stoop to torture. You either play by our rules or you leave.">>745486
"Why get involved?" says Violet. "This isn't what we're here for. Trust me, we don't want to go pissing off the Mummers any more than we already have. We've got other fish to fry. Let's… let's just keep searching for this Spring and move on…" She looks exhausted all of a sudden.
''Last time you were better than him you've let him escape, and now there is a real chance our world will at the mercy of a tyrant at best, and cease to exist at worst. You can think what you want of me Master Hermodur, but I will not play the saint. If our salvation will be mounted on my sins then so be it''>>745486
''Yes, half of this was a taste to ensure its effectiveness, and it escalated much faster than I expected''>>745489
''We? I thought you werent one of us anymore Violet'' Aegis remains motionless, giving Violet an empty look ''I was never your friend, even before you've lost your memory. My purpose here is for us to work together and save the realms, the bonding can come later''
"Hmm.. I suppose you have a point. The mummers here are evidence enough that we were here. If our goal was to lead Lysander along, destroying an entire camp may be overkill.."
"Very well." i reply, nodding. "Let us continue on to the spring. I had been curious to see if i could synthesize something from the waters there, and we've done enough to leave proof for now."
My jaw locks. I haven't? Most of the times I remember seeing him do this he never made it to actually injuring anyone. But this- I just swallow.
"We need to go. The dart I fired at her was laced with sleeper poison. We could have avoided this, and she wouldn't be able to report back to anyone until well after we're done. What are we going to do? Going around slitting all the throats of the ones still living?"
"Very well, then. At least now I know it's in some Mummer base in the area. I'm sure I'll find it eventually. Thank you for your cooperation," Hermodur says to the Mummer, paying her no more mind.>>745492
"They can do what they want," Hermodur waves a dismissive hand. "More Mummers coming after us just means more dead Mummers. Does the world a favor."
Rabi shakes himself out a little and sighs, before getting up to go.
She gives you a scathing look. "Yeah, I don't think anyone can really call you friend, huh. I dunno what your major malfunction is.">>745497
"How are you so confident?" Violet asks warily. "We're not invincible. This is a dangerous organization we're crossing.">>745492>>745490>>745491>>745476>>745463>>745497
She squirms loose and hobbles off as Hermodur frees her, giving Aegis a hateful look. "Bloody rockheart," she spits, and hobbles off into the wilderness. Gawain winces a little at the racially charged insult.
As Norv mentions the other bandits, you look around. Many are dead, but many more are starting to come to, though in no state to escape any time soon. Gawain looks eager to get going, quietly disturbed by everything that's transpired. "Hm. Where does the compass lead?" he asks Norv.>roll Navigation
Aegis says nothing to Violet and carries on with the group
'1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
"Lysander is more dangerous," is all Hermodur has to say to Violet.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Zunden keeps a side eye at Aurora, venturing forward cautiously.
[1d10] navRoll #1 9 = 9
with the bandit troubles behind us, i do my best to keep up as we progress towards the spring.
[1d10] NavigationRoll #1 2 = 2
"Right." I look down at the compass and point everyone else in the right direction. "This way."
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
"Onwards to the spring, then."Roll #1 4 = 4
"That doesn't mean we shouldn't be worried about pissing them off. We have enough on our plate as is." >>745512>>745508>>745507>>745505>>745504>>745501
You press onward. You get lost again for a little while, but Zunden and Hermodur manage to eventually carve a path forward. It takes a few more hours or so, but eventually, you come to what you can only assume is the right place.
You stand facing what must have once been a pond, but has mysteriously gone dry. It's as if all the water from this muddy crater has been sucked out in one go. The crater is surrounded by exotic flowers and endemic silver trees. Nearby, on a nearly forgotten path, is a hand-carved sign:The Dreaming Spring
Drink, gentle stranger, and be welcome.
Those of evil will, beware.
Violet blinks at the rather unimpressive sight. "Is… is this the right place?" She looks over to the compass, which is indeed pointing right at the muddy pit. Gawain looks around in utter bewilderment; it's as if a giant question mark has appeared over his head. "I expected something a bit more grandiose from the name. If this is the Dreaming Spring, then where's all the water? I don't understand…"
"Looks like someone stole it. Pumped it or something." I squat and look down into the hole. "Guess it's a good thing we weren't here for the water, because this is pretty bad. Especially if -and I really hate to keep assuming it was him. Seems like we can't go two paragraphs without sayin his damn name.- especially if it was Lysander who has it. Stuff is a really strong spying tool, I imagine."
"Might just be paranoia, though. Think we should go down and check it out?"
Glaring at the empty crater, i lean over the edge to look into the now empty pool
"Really now, the entire
pool is missing? There must be some hint of what happened, right? Surely It couldn't have simply evaporated.."Roll #1 10 = 10
"I ztill wonder if one needz to rezt near it in order to zee ze water, even if it'z a longzhot…">>745512
"…Do you zhink projecting yourzelf would allow yourzelf to zee zuch an effect, if zhat were ze caze?"
"Hmm.. would he really go to such lengths to find us? Quite the shame, really. I was so looking forward to taking a sample for my potioncraft.."
"They're too disorganized to come at us in force any time soon. Which means they'll keep harassing us in smaller numbers. Which is exactly what we want," Hermodur responds to Violet.>>745516>>745517>>745519>>745520
Hermodur stares at the empty spring with a forlorn expression. He secret harbored great hopes for this place. He takes out his own vial and holds it aloft in front of him. He stares at it pensively.
Then, he puts it away and looks toward the others. "Rather than asking the compass to bring us to the Dreaming Spring, ask it to bring us to Dreaming Spring Water," he suggests.
"Hmm? Yeah, I could try that." the stallion says, looking at the muddy
'spring' and frowning. "I'd been wondering if you had to be asleep or something to see it, anyways. Can't hurt to try, right?" he suggests, settling down on the ground to focus.>Astral Projection
"I imagine we're not his only enemies. Like I said, even if not aimed at us it's probably a valuable spying tool.">>745522
"I can try, but I'm not really sure that's specific enough. This stuff is probably everywhere."
I look down at the compass and try to make it find the water that was in the spring.
"How could he do that?" Violet wonders. "As in literally. It doesn't seem physically possible…" Gawain just looks around, gesturing slightly in confusion. "Hm… Well, if this really was fruitless, maybe we should signal our friend Etrigan to pick us up from here…">>745519
You look in, and tap the mud to be sure. There's really nothing there. It's like the whole spring just… evaporated.
Looking towards the center of the muddy hole, you can see something bubbling. But it's not water. It almost looks like… tar?>>745522
"I wouldn't get so confident. We don't know what they're truly capable of. If they decide we're a real threat, they'd make our lives a living hell.">>745524
The needle spins wildly as you change its desire, pointing at nothing in particular.>>745520>>745522
You both start getting a sort of tingling feeling of ineffable dread. Something's very wrong here. And it's not just the dried up spring. >>745523
You sit down and project. You have the now customary vision of Elaina. This one is nothing too unique; it seems to be a memory of her as a young kit, reading on her own. She seems to be locked in the library, wherever she is.
You pass into the Astral Plane. Nothing changes, but you get a sudden terrible feeling looking out at the mud. An icy, overwhelming wave of dread sweeps over you, rooting you in place and sending chilly blasts up your spine. You've only felt this sort of abject horror once before. In the presence of the Oneiromancer.
"Ah, that could work! Though we've no way to tell the distance from us with the compass' needle. It could be the next clearing over or a month's journey for all we know..">>745525
squinting into the crater's bottom, i get back onto my hooves and begin navigating the crater's edge towards the dark liquid.
"I think i see something within the crater. Perhaps a remnant of the pool?"
Rabi doesn't have much time to think on the mmory he's shown before the unsettling, cold presence puts him on edge. The stallion whinnies nervously (possibly in his normal body, too), before taking a look around him. Is he here? Am I alone? [1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Hermodur grows very still and very silent.
"Not fruitless," I remind him. "We still gotta grab the flowers. That was part of the reason we came.">>745525>>745522
"Yeah. That's what I thought. No dice. Ain't specific enough."
Zunden tries to sense what could be causing this dread [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
''What kind of flowers will be needed?''
His presence begins to coalesce in the center of the mud crater. He's here.
>>745532>End Astral Projection
Rabi wakes with a start, and lets out a panicked whinny. "I-It's the oneiromancer! He's in the mud, I can feel him!"
''Here? Right now?''
Aegis questions as she readily starts amassing magic bolts
'1d10' homing magic, iceRoll #1 5 = 5
Zunden immediately takes to carving a Severance ruin into the earth with her staff, invoking the power of the tarot as not to treat the Oneiromancer as an idle threat.
"Pretty sure, yeah! I can feel him… forming? In the mud, or something!"
The tar in the center begins to spread at an alarming rate as Silver investigates. It doesn't seem to obey the rules of physics, spreading out almost like a spider web in a time lapse, quickly beginning to cover the entirety of the spring. Gawain's eyes widen and he mutters a prayer under his breath. Violet starts backing away. "I think we should leave. Now.">>745535
You carve a rune into the earth. It holds fast amidst everything.
Hearing Rabi's warning and seeing the tar rapidly spread from the center, i quickly take flight to avoid making contact!>bounce
"What? He's here
Aegis dismisses her magic and quietly turns around to flee
Hermodur waits for the others to leave and quickly follows behind them.
"Black Lily." I take a look around for the flowers. "I don't remember how many, but I imagine they're literally lilies that are black.">>745537
"No," I mumble. "Shit. Not good. I still need to-" I stay behind, frantically looking for the specific flowers.
Roll #1 10 = 10
Watching Norv head towards
the corruption, Zunden continues to carve Severance ruins to try and prevent the Onieromancer's taint from reaching him.
[1d10] SeveranceRoll #1 9 = 9
>>745537"Etrigan, we need the ship, quickly! The Oniromancer is here!"
i call out mentally, hoping he's nearby
"Yeah. Let's get out of here, for now." the stallion says, picking himself up and scrabbling off.
Zunden's rune protects Norv as he quickly spots a large, black, six petaled flower growing nearby.>>745544Wh-? What?! W-we're on the way! I can sense you. Gods… He's here…>>745539>>745538>>745541>>745543>>745544>>745545
You turn around. He's there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbFgxucxVcM
A monstrous elk, roughly shaped like Etrigan's body, antlers dripping with black ichor, draped in a cloak of shadows. In one hoof, he holds what can only be described as a black hole in reality, bleeding black. Where the eyes once were are lipless mouths, filled with gnashing teeth. He towers over you all, larger than ever before, almost double the size of Hermodur.
He doesn't speak a word, nor does he move, simply standing amidst the rapidly spreading corruption, still as a statue. Walls rise from the tar behind you, blocking off escape in that direction.
At this point the tar's spreading to the trees. They seem to be swallowed up by it, sinking into the blackness and leaving nothing but a flat plain of black in its wake. Zunden's Severance rune is all that is protecting you from it, but it doesn't seem like it will hold very long. You are in a bubble of normality amidst the void.
"We leave when able, it iz not our fate to fight him on zhiz day.
" Zunden shouts over the chaos, trying to slowly cut her way through the darkness with Severance runes while preparing more during the process.
>Held Severance rune (7) to sever the Oneiromancer's influence a small distance back.
[1d10+1] Severance rune to replace (frozen)Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
"Not hearing any complaints from me!" the stallion whinnies out, backing away. He readies an arrow of light in his magic bow, ready to fling it just in case.
''If we are not fighting then what will we do Zunden?'' Aegis says, looking characteristically calm despite the situation, and summoning orbs of ice, despite the suggestion of not fighting
'1d10' homing magic, iceRoll #1 7 = 7
I grab the flower and quickly tuck it away. "Got it!" I shout, sprinting back over to everyone else. >>745831
I pull my sprayer, slam an oil canister into it, and use the spyglass to light the wick. "Not really any clue what to do here, anyway." I swallow. "ETA on our ride?
" I both say out loud and think at Etrigan.
"When able, Aegiz Glaze. Prevent it'z zpread to uz if we can."
Not to be confused with rune-an.
''Lets see if my magic will be effective then''
Reality is what I make of it!
>I also have a severance charm [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
You create a small bubble of Severance, but it gets snuffed in a matter of seconds.>>745833
You summon two orbs of crystalline magic.>>745834
He seems to falter as he speaks in your head, slurring his words. I'm… Tryyyying to figure out wheeere you are… It's all sssso… Daaaark… >>745836>>745838
You try to push through the black tar, invoking the Severance charm. It seems to work, to an extent. You manage to carve a hole in the wall of blackness, like waves parting to let you through. It'll only be a matter of seconds before they reseal, but it might be enough to be able to flee…>>745838>>745837>>745835>>745834>>745832You have what is owed.Severance, severance.Scriniarii does not realize her potential.The alicorn. Who is the alicorn.A burning house.A knife, a vial, and an unwitting lover.The false dragon bitten by the purple snake.Who is the alicorn.You are but a thought.Inferior sister.Your unconscionable cowardice.Climb the steps again.
His words seem fractured, like a voice bouncing between a thousand different thoughts at once. They seem to worm their way into your own minds. It's like your brains are being pierced by a hundred hooks, scrounging about in your heads for any information. Gawain sinks to his knees, while Violet struggles to breathe, frozen in fear.>everyone takes 2 hits>roll to resist, instant actionI… I caaaan't see you… I don't see anythinnnng anymore… Wheeeere…. Whereeee?…
Etrigan seems to be struggling to speak, and unable to find you.
The Oneiromancer seems to draw closer, and yet further. The bubble is about to give way.
Aegis stands perfectly still, reinforcing the walls of her mind to deny the Oneiromancer's influence as she fires off a blast of ice shards to freeze its physical form
'2d10' magic bolt
'1d10+2' resistRoll #1 5, 7 = 12
/ Roll #2 10 + 2 = 12
Only for the briefest of instants does Hermodur consider calling out to the others. But, there's no time, and he'll be of more use outside of this effect than in it.
[1d10] to escape
[1d10] to resist alsoRoll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
Rabi lets out a pained grunt, hunkering over and trying to fend off the worst of it.>Resist: [1d10+1]
Hoping it'll do something, the stallion looses his arrow of light at the Oneiromances.>Magic Bow (Light Element): [1d10+2]>Popping Frozen Light for a +1 to the Resistance roll!Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
/ Roll #2 6 + 2 = 8
>>745839>free action resist [1d10]
"We're right HERE
Zunden holds up her ring, flinching and invoking The Devil to have light pierce through the darkness.
>Invoking The Devil, instant auto, setting next roll as 10
>lash: spell, recharge 3; Emit a burst of magical energy, attuned to Light. Affects enemies all around you, but does not deal damage unless on crit, instead debuffing them with the effects of the Light element. (The target is momentarily blinded, suffering +1 DC to all rolls on its next turn, or +2 on a crit. This damage type deals twice as many hits versus undead enemies. Radiant spells can be used to illuminate the environment, providing a dazzling light source.)
Roll #1 6 = 6
I clench my jaw and barely keep my eyes open at it feels like my brain is being torn apart. I let out a cry of both pain and determination, and, noticing everyone around me trying to defend themselves, I aim the flaming nozzle and pull the trigger.
[1d10]ResistRoll #1 10 = 10
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
Receiving a brief hoofhold on reality as Zunden's rune flares, i grit my teeth and struggle against the pain of the oniromancer magic!
with some effort, i try to follow the others as we begin our escape
[1d10] escapeRoll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
Your hand starts to pulsate. …No. Not a hand. It's just metal and wood now. But it burns all the same…
You push through, standing in a little bubble amidst the unreal. The Oneiromancer does not seem to be interested in snuffing it out. It's as if he's intrigued by your will to keep fighting, tWhoIsShe>Hermodur takes 2 hits>>745840
You manage to close yourself off to his influence. You unleash an ice blast, but it's like trying to attack the absence of light.>>745842
You shrug off the mental attack and fire your arrow. It fizzles against the blackness.>>745843Oh, it's this old stick-in-the-mud. Next time you're available you should hit me up so we can gossip about him. Wink wink, nudge nudge!
You thrust your fist upward, firing off a beam of light that seems to pierce the clouds. For the briefest of moments, the dark that covers everything here is dispelled, letting your signal reach the heavens.>>745844
You fire your flamethrower. A powerful roar of flame carves a path through the shadow, giving yourselves more room to move, but the Oneiromancer himself is unaffected. He tilts his head slightly.She is dead, then.
>Norv takes 2 hits>>745845
You try to shrug off the attack, but to no avail. It feels like he's trying to find something in particular amidst your memories…You cannot hide what you are.
>Silver takes 2 hits>>745843>>745842>>745841>>745840>>745844>>745845Iiii… see… yoooou…
It sounds like Etrigan is in agony.I see your mind.You could not save them.He stands on the swaying bridge with a crow on his shoulder.Jump.You are monstrous existence.Don't jump.Are you alright? Those monsters can be quite deadly. Count your blessings you ran into just the one, for now.Another hole.You are further out to sea than you can know.
You hear the movement of a huge, unseen shape above. A familiar rope seems to snake from the heavens, offering you to grab hold!
The bubble bursts. The shadows seem to cling to your feet, snaking upwards. Suddenly, you feel yourselves being physically ensnared, being dragged downwards into the abyss. You see eyes and brains and viscera bubbling to the top of the tar. Nothing but flesh and organs.>roll to escape
I scream bloody murder as I snuff the flame on my sprayer and make a mad dash at the rope.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3
Zunden holds fast, pulling for the Whale Ale in her bag and drinking to improve her strength momentarily.
>WHALE ALE [A bottle of a wondrous brew, resembling ale in color, flavor and texture. When imbibed, it gives the user incredible strength and resilience, if only momentarily. Each bottle holds enough ale to be consumed six times.]
[1d10] +whateverRoll #1 9 = 9
Hermodur grunts in frustrated struggle as he grabs the rope to climb up.
[1d10] to escapeRoll #1 2 = 2
'Hm. That didnt seem to work'' Aegis states blankly to herself before noticing the rope, then the shadows. She fires off the magic she was holding on to to try and freeze the shadowy tendrils off Her and Rabi while struggling trying to escape them
'1d10+2' homing magic at shadows near self
'1d10+2' homing magic at the shadows near rabi
'1d10+2' escapeRoll #1 3 + 2 = 5
/ Roll #2 4 + 2 = 6
/ Roll #3 5 + 2 = 7
Rabi grits his teeth and tries to drag himself free- his arrow did little to nothing, so the most he can do now is try to escape. >Escape: [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
staggering as the magic rips through my mind, i reach into my bag to pull the cork on my share of Whale Ale, throwing back the drink and using the newfound strength to hurl myself onto the dangling ladder!>Whale Ale
[1d10] Leaping escapeRoll #1 1 = 1
You try to grab the rope, but to no avail. You sink into the black liquid. Bloated organs and tar fill your nose and throats as you are dragged down into oblivion…There.
You find yourselves jolting awake. The three of you are on the deck of the ship, somehow. The other half of the party join you, shimmying up the rope.>>745848>>745850>>745851
You lunge for the rope, grabbing a hold and pulling yourselves up by sheer determination. Looking back for a brief moment, you see the blackness receding, with the Oneiromancer as its epicenter. He does nothing but look upwards at you, making no effort to pursue you further. It's almost as if he's letting you go.
As you haul yourselves up on deck, you find the half of the party that weren't so lucky. They seem unharmed; they're there in front of you, without a scratch on them. No sign of Etrigan, or anyone else from the group, save for Violet and Gawain, who follow you up.>>745848>>745850>>745851>>745849>>745847>>745852
Gawain almost collapses as he reaches the deck, hitting the floor with a clatter of armor. He seems exhausted from the ordeal. "In all my years… Never have I seen something so fell…"
that thing?" Violet asks, trembling slightly. She does a double take as she sees the half that didn't manage to escape already there ahead of everyone else. "…How did you…?"
Aegis conjures up another set of magic orbs once up on the deck with the others ''This is no doubt a trick from Him. An illusion? Mind control? Corruption? I will find out'' Aegis says, ignoring the lack of Etrigan and threatening Silver, Norv and Hermodur with magic
Out of the immediate danger, Zunden's stalwartness quickly fades to paranoia once again, "We're not out of it, Etrigan waz affected, ze Oneiromanzer can acczezz ze zhip at will, we're not zafe on zhiz vezzel. We eazily could very well not be awake right now, and anyzhing we're doing iz falzehood.">>745851
"Rabi, if you could find ze carpet, I wizh to get off ze zhip az fazt az pozzible."
My stomach sinks as what just happened sudenly seems very familiar. After a hard gulp I reach into my pocket. "He knows," I say. "There's no way he doesn't. Something bad is gonna happen as soon as one of the three of us gets near the Beldam. I can feel it."
Rabi grabs ahold of the rope and pulls himself up, before letting out a panicked whinny as he realizes Silver didn't make it!>>745854
Rabi lets out a soft wheeze as he pulls himself about, before looking to Gawain and Violet. "I-It's… awful. Horrible, is what it is.">>745852>>745852
"S-Silver! Y-You're… you're here!" he shouts, wrapping her up in a hug.>>745856
"Hmm? What, this is… oh. Well, let me go look. Are we all us?">Search: [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Hope fades as i fail to catch the rope, drowning in the tar as i flounder against the rising tide..
..Only to wake wide-eyed on the ship's deck.
After a moment, the panic crashes away into exhaustion and i slump wordlessly into Rabi's grip as he races over to grab me.
Upon suddenly arriving at the boat unharmed, Hermodur first checks that he still has his Dreaming Spring vial. Upon confirming it is or isn't there, he checks his body for any signs of corruption like the one that used to be on his hand.
''I dont think so Zunden. I feel perfectly awake and out of his influence. Not once did he lay a finger in my mind. The Oneiromancer cannot touch me, but I cannot say the same about the others''
If it's an illusion, it's extremely realistic. Violet looks alarmed as you summon magic. "Whoa, calm down. Let's just figure this out before we go blasting anyone, yeah?">>745856
Violet looks at you, fraught with worry. "You know this for a fact? M-maybe there's another way… Surely some sort of protection exists against that… thing…">>745857
Gawain speaks up, swallowing. He looks spooked beyond belief. "Perhaps we could… plan around this? We were speaking earlier of setting a diversion for Lysander. Perhaps the same could be done for this entity that stalks us…">>745858
You look around. Everything seems to be real. Or at least real enough. This doesn't seem to be some illusion of his.>>745860
It's there alright. He didn't take it. You don't have any spots of corruption on you either. In fact, everyone seems unscathed by the encounter.>>745861>>745860>>745859>>745858>>745857>>745856
You hear movement from the lower deck. Before long, the others are coming out to check on you. Dawn, Aurora and Marisol emerge, looking various degrees of concerned, frightened and wary. Etrigan brings up the rear, looking extremely shaken. Even Ganzen pokes his head out, trotting over to Zunden.
Aurora rushes to Zunden's side, putting her arm around her shoulder. "Are you… are you guys okay?"
"What happened down there?" Dawn asks, her voice trembling. "Was it really him?…"
Marisol moves over to Hermodur. "Are you hurt?" she asks, looking him over with concern. She offers to help him up. "Anything I can do to help?"
Etrigan says nothing at first. "I thought we were rid of him,"
he whispers to himself. "Gods damn it all… What have we done?…"
''I know, I am just being preemptive. Actually I think I have an idea''
Aegis opens up her bag and pulls out the bell of revealing, holding it up with a magical grip and letting it ring out
"It's okay. I've got you. You're here." the stallion says quickly, stroking the mare's mane a little bit and holding her tight.>>745862
"I, ah, I don't know what we've done. We might just need to… just need to put some space between us and here. The water wasn't even there anymore."
"I-i don't know, I don't zhink any of zhiz iz right. I need zpaze and I need time to zhink." Zunden says, growing incredibly tense when Aurora touches her, not pulling away but gripping her staff so tight the blood drains from her claw.
"Yeah. Maybe." I swallow. "We're going to have to. It's him we're trying to keep the egg from, even more than Lysander."
I swallow and talk at Etrigan without looking up at him. "You can't get rid of a bedbug infestation by throwing out the mattress. That's all we did. Threw out the mattress. We never got rid of him. Not completely."
"It… it feels real enough. Looks real enough. Maybe I could try projecting again, and looking for that feeling again?"
A wave of relief rushes over Hermodur.
When Marisol offers to help him up, he gets up of his own accord. "I'm fine," he says. "I hate that demonic… thing…"
"Why did it just dump us here? What is it planning?">>745863
"What does that do?"
My hand twitches and I feel a twinge of annoyance. Why are most of them focusing so hard on the water. "We weren't. There. For. The. Water. The water was going to be a bonus." I reach into my belongings and pull out the black lily. "We were there for this."
"The oniromancer.. He found what he sought from our minds.." i mutter into Rabi's shoulder.
"We musn't stay, i've no idea what he plans to do but we must leave while we can."
''It reveals what is hidden. Its what I used to reveal the demon that was possesing me back in the City of tears''
"I know. It was just an observation, relax.">>745870
"Right. It might not be worth hanging around here."
You ring the bell. Nothing happens.>>745864
Etrigan nods glumly. "It… wasn't there?…" Dawn echoes, confused. "What do you mean?…">>745865
Aurora jerks away in surprise as you tense up. "Zunden…" She's not sure what to say. "I… I'll bring you some tea, if you like.">>745866"I don't think we can."
Etrigan looks shaken. >>745868"He was looking for something,"
says Etrigan. "He was in my mind too. But it was different this time… He wasn't… He wasn't like before. He was… chaotic. Angry. He was trying to destroy me…"
Dawn looks up at Etrigan with concern. "The ship almost crashed while he fought him off. We're all lucky to be alive.">>745869
Aurora breathes a slight sigh of relief. "The lily. That's one of three things, right? So it wasn't all bad."
"At what cost, though," Dawn muses. "We need to talk to Black Pudding. As soon as possible. Surely he must realize what's at stake. The sooner we find him, the sooner we can be rid of this burden.">>745872>>745871>>745870>>745869>>745868>>745865"…Should we stay the course, then?"
Etrigan asks, as the ship starts moving again. "Keep heading west in search of Black Pudding? Or should we do something else?"
"Whatever we do, we can't stay here. Not after… that." Dawn's ears twitch nervously.
I take a deep breath, put the flower back away, and relax a little. "Yeah. Sorry. Just- just a little tense is all. I almost didn't even get the flower." And I'm pretty sure I just killed three people earlier without batting an eye, but I don't say that part out loud.
"Well, I'm not sure- when we got there, the spring was dry." He gestures to Norvegicus. "While he was grabbing the flower, I decided to project to see what'd become of the water. The dry spring started to fill with tar a little after that."
"We go to Braildorn to find Black Pudding," I say, mater-of-factly. "You guys don't have to if you don't want. You can just drop me off, but it's what I'm doing. I'll sneak into The Downs. Pay a visit to Carnifex's place. She'll probably know how to contact him, and he was supposed to be in Braildorn anyway, right? We just need the eyes and her skull. I know where to find both."
''Agreed. If there is someone who can help with this its certainly Black Pudding, although I do also fear for his safety, but I'm sure he has set up defenses of his own against the Oneiromancer''
"If we can't get more Dreaming Spring Water, what good is it to go to Black Pudding? We can't use the Lady of the Swamp anyway," Hermodur says, completely unsure of what to call the spirit they encountered so long ago.
I just tense up, stare at him, and shake my head. "Almost nobody listens to anything I say. Why do I even bother?" I turn around and head back to my room. Whatever. It doesn't matter. I know what I need to do, and I'll do it.
"He must have… drained it. Taken its power for himself…" Dawn looks pale and tight-faced.
"Is that even possible?" Marisol asks in disbelief.
"It's not supposed to be.">>745876
Marisol almost chokes on the swig of water she's drinking. "Braildorn itself? I shouldn't have to tell you how bad of an idea that is. The last thing we want after what just happened is to split up the group. We can go west, outside of Grosvenor's sphere of influence. That's where Black Pudding was last headed. But Braildorn is a death sentence. We can't risk anyone being captured or worse. Not in there.">>745878
"We don't need the water, we need his help," Marisol points out. "Aegis has the right idea. He's one of the most powerful warlocks in the Echoes. With what we're up against, we're going to need him. Petty squabbles with this swamp spirit be damned."
"You have other leads, then? I do have some dreamwater. It's a little different. Diluted or something, I think. I can try to use it to hone in on Black Pudding, but if it doesn't work then Braildorn is all we have. The water might not even be a good idea with-" I gesture vaguely toward where the dreaming spring was. "Him. And with what just happened."
"I'm confused…" is all Hermodur has to say in response.>>745880
"If we're abandoning the swamp spirit idea, then sure," Hermodur says distractedly.
As he speaks, he finds himself once again pulling out the vial of Dreaming Spring water to stare at it. Before he knows what he's doing, he's staring at its contents.
He grows concerned. What if this water is somehow contaminated? How will he be able to see Ailuros… if she's even alive? That thought lingers with him. IS she alive?
"Why was he so interested in Ailuros…?" he finds himself asking out loud to no one in particular.
A veil of unease hangs over your crew as you depart, making your way further to the south-west, towards Braildorn. Nothing out of the ordinary seems to happen, despite the circumstances, further building doubt and discomfort.
Gawain busies himself with keeping everyone well fed, making a hearty moussaka dish for dinner. He seems to be doing his best to keep spirits up.
Violet seems to be keeping to herself, shaken by the events that transpired. She has a long talk with Dawn to be properly kept up to speed on what she witnessed. She seems to have a better grasp of the stakes.
Aurora and Marisol keep themselves occupied by playing a few games of chess. Both seem to be quite good at it. They too are trying to distract themselves and not succumb to paranoia.
Etrigan keeps the ship steady, and in the meantime, starts doing some reading, parsing the book Norv found for him. He seems to struggle with the concepts presented.
Two days go past without incident, and your sleep is restless and uneasy. You are plagued with bad dreams, albeit not of the supernatural kind, rather brought about by the general tension on board.
On the third day, you spot some points of interest:
There is another Sanctuary ship nearby. Not one you've seen before either; it seems smaller than yours, less grand. Very practically built. They seem to have noticed you, but are not hostile; rather, they raise a maroon flag, and you see two tiny bipedal figures on the deck waving at you, trying to get your attention.
Below, you see a small, isolated little hamlet, situated near a river. It looks like a pleasant place to stop for a spell, far removed from most of the outside world. Its inhabitants go about their daily routines, looking like ants from where you are. A couple of them notice your ship and look up in curiosity.
Far ahead, you see a mountaintop, with some sort of tower built at its summit. It seems to be on fire, either being burned down or acting as a signal beacon for… something. It's too far to be able to make out any details right now.
Your companions gather and weigh in on the situation:
Etrigan: "Hmm. I don't recognize that ship. We should be cautious. They could be agents of Lysander."
Violet: "They don't seem hostile… Maybe we should check them out, see what they want from us. Maybe they're in danger."
Aurora: "I kind of want to go to that village, if we can. It'd be good to stretch our legs a bit, given everything that's… that's happened."
Dawn: "We have our mission. We shouldn't let ourselves get distracted. I say we ignore everything and press on."
Gawain: "Hm. Hmm. I wonder what's going on over on the mountain yonder? It intrigues me. We could fly over and take a closer look…"
Marisol: "I agree with Dawn. Let's keep moving and not get distracted. You never know who could turn out to be our enemy."
"Agreed on the count that the only two things which should distract us are potential enemies and people who are immediately in danger. It's difficult to say that that ship presents either scenario."
Rabi stretches out a little bit and takes a look over the side towards the hamlet, before shrugging a little bit. "I dunno. Taking a moment to stretch our legs and, you know… not be on a boat'd be fantastic. It's just hard to say what's safe. How are we doing on supplies? If we're not in the best spot the hamlet could be a decent bet, and after that we could fly a little closer to the… is that a beacon? A tower?"
Aegis spends the days offering to practise swordsmanship with Aurora and Gawain, to keep both their skills and wits sharp. As well as training with Dawn in the magic arts
She has not made any attempts to further justify her previous actions with anyone>>746278
''We move on. Once we are finished with the Egg we'll have all the time we want to help the common folk if you wish. We must remain focused on the big picture
I lean on the edge of the ship and scan the horizon. "I agree with Dawn," I say. "We can send our Raven harbenger to greet those guys, if we really want to." I pull out my spyglass and try to get a better look at them. "A short echange is one thing, but we really ought not stay anywhere for too long."
Zunden has finally moved her pillows and blankets into a spare room, and has exited for two meals a day, otherwise etching rune after rune into the walls, trying to prevent scrying throughout the ship as to prepare it to be the final resting place of the Egg.
Having left upon hearing a good deal of discussion outside, Zunden weighs in, "We know what happened ze lazt time we ztopped for zomezhing we azzumed would juzt be a zimple ztop for reagentz, we zhould not diztracted ourzelvez any longer. Let uz be done wizh zhiz buzinezz onze and for all."
''The Harbinger wont work unless you know their names, Master Norvegicus'' Aegis chips in
"Ack- well, fair enough. We can always come by here again, later."
You take a closer look through the spyglass. It's a pair of very familiar merchants. Since when do they own a ship?>>746280
Spending time with Etrigan reveals he's studying a book on lucid dreaming, in the hopes he'll be better equipped to combat the Oneiromancer. "The heart of this war we're in isn't on the battlefield,"
he muses. "It's in the mind. We have to be ready for the next time we see… him."
It's all very complicated, however. Neither of you can really understand much from the book at first.
Gawain takes a quick look. "Hm. Food is starting to dwindle a little. We'll be fine for now, but we'll have to restock soon…">>746281
Gawain seems to be avoiding you a bit since the last encounter, but Aurora is happy to train with you. Her fencing has improved significantly, and her legs have mended more or less. Dawn is usually busy studying something, but does fit in a few training sessions here and there.>>746283
You set up a new room. Ganzen moves in, making himself well at home, completely undisturbed by your carvings. He sleeps through most of it. He's quite large now, about the size of a German Shepherd.>>746283>>746282>>746281>>746280>>746279
"Guess we're outvoted," Violet says to Gawain and Aurora with a small humorless smile. Aurora just shrugs and retreats, while Gawain's face falls a little at being denied the chance to get off the ship for a while. Etrigan nods and steers the ship, moving it slowly away from everything once again.
I put my spyglass away and blink. "Oh, hey, it's Rosen and Glider. You guys want to stop in for a second?"
"Lucid dreaming? I think I've heard of that before, but never experienced it. Some of the concepts it mentions sound kind of similar to Astral Projection. It's not really the same, but maybe some of the things I do to practice that could help you?">>746287>>746286
"Rosen and Gilder? Well, uh… maybe, yeah."
''Hm. They might have something useful for sale. Do we have the money?''
"Hmm… Should we find their new ship suspicious? Considering that it's similar to ours. And we stole ours from Lysander…"
"I do have zmall zuspizionz given ze different zhip, a changeling can emulate a living creature, but zhey cannot replicate a vehicle. It iz paranoid even for me to make note of, but at zhiz point I juzt wizh to rid ourzelvez of zhe accurzed object we have in our pozezzion, we can zeek zhem out afterwardz."
"I'm actually not sure how much we have left, now that I think about it. It does seem like we're stockpiling a bunch of stuff we aren't using, though.">>746290
"I think it'll be fine. They've always been good to us before."
"Hmm.. Would the compass still point to an impostor? perhaps that could prove a useful test."
"Sorry, to be clear, I'm not suggesting some sort of trick or illusion. I'm suggesting that Lysander has may have bought them out."
''Too much is better than too little. I'm sure we'll find use for our trinkets later, after all we can always sell them''
"Hesitant as i am to admit it, you do have a point. As much as i'd love to pop in and see their wares, we are quite busy."
I sigh. "Yeah. Paranoia aside, I guess we really should get a move on." I give them a big wave before we leave.
Rabi at least offers a wave to the two as they pass, hoping to be friendly.
>>746288"I exist in both worlds,"
he replies pensively. "I can see you when you project, if you recall. I can't imagine what would happen if I were to try astral projection. …Maybe we could try it as an experiment, at some point. But not right now.">>746291>>746294>>746295>>746297>>746296>>746298
The merchants stop waving as you depart. Even from afar, you can tell they're confused and disappointed at not getting to say hi.
Another few days go past. You fly over an expanse of marshlands, and behind, you see the faint outline of the Weeping City. Green turns to brown, then green again. A storm hits, slowing your progress while it lasts, not letting up for a good few hours.
Eventually, looking ahead, you see the bend of the Broad River, and at its edge, the river city of Braildorn. Etrigan gives it a wide berth, to avoid any eyes, heading further south and starting to cross the river from there.
As you near your destination, Zunden starts getting a strange sensation in her right arm; a sort of painless throbbing, emanating from the black spot where she wore the Prowler bracelet Black Pudding had fashioned so long ago. It doesn't hurt; it's similar to the feeling of suddenly becoming aware of one's own heartbeat.
Hermodur watches quietly as the scenery goes by. In particular, he stares for a long time at Braildorn off in the distance.
Zunden passively watches the black spot as they continue onwards, having Ganzen sniff at it.
Aegis spends the days doing her usual activities. Aside from regular training, she also takes good care of the chickens. Esuring their breeding is kept in control
She also attempts to approach Gawain again, trying to discuss about what are the best ways to prepare the many eggs she's filling the pantry with
Waving the merchants off with a wing, i settle in for the long journey ahead.
Scenery passes by as we sail on, the duty to finish the mission taking precedence over the chance to gather ingredients.
"Hrm… well, we'd best be safe. No telling what could happen- after all this mess, maybe?"
You move on. Crossing the Broad River is no small feat, given its gargantuan lake-sized width, and you only manage to do so by nightfall.
The following morning, you awake to the smell of scrambled eggs being prepared by Gawain. Looking outside, you can see Etrigan has landed atop a rocky peak, looking down at the land below. It is noticeably less fertile than the eastern bank; further to the north, there's no vegetation at all, and the land turns to barren waste. You can see a large town to the north, on the western bank of the river, across from Braildorn.
Aurora checks the map. "That must be Larkstead over there. This is where we know Black Pudding was headed, right?"
"I don't like the look of it," Marisol remarks. "It's normally a thriving town, but something feels… wrong."
"A madman rules those lands. One of Lysander's puppets," Dawn muses. "A false Oneiromancer, to give the people of Braildorn an enemy to rally against."
"Doesn't seem to have worked out for him," Marisol replies. "Have you heard about the state of Braildorn nowadays? It's a war zone.""How are we going to do this?"
Etrigan asks. "We have to find Black Pudding. Should we fly over, or investigate in person?"
"Well, we have to figure something out somehow. Sending someone in person seems like our best bet, no matter what the place is like. We need
to find Black Pudding. There isn't much else to say on the matter." I clear my throat. "With that said, I might have an idea. I have that bell that summons this Butler guy. Maybe I could have him collect some intel. Not sure if it's actually an option, but maybe."
''If needed, we could send out a harbinger and see if it will head towards the town. This will both comfirm if Black Pudding is indeed there, and we can send him a message to come meet with us out of the city''
"Shouldn't it be somewhat easy to spot her big, walking shop?" Hermodur asks, looking around at the scenery for any sign of her shop.
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 6 = 6
The witch is a guy!
"I do like ze idea of zlowly circling ze outzkirtz in a manner zhat will hide ze zhip az we try to triangulate Black Pudding'z locazion uzing a Harbinger, he haz rezponded to zhem in ze pazt, zo he doez not have wardz to stop friendly mezzagez."
"Maybe we could find a safe landing elsewhere and try to scout things out? You know, land out of sight."
"Between the two of us, we may be able to slip in and gather information undetected."
"Then again, a harbinger message may prove enough to at least get Black Pudding's attention. Perhaps we could convince him to meet us out of town."
''Very well. Master Norvegicus, please bring your Harbinger and send the message. Tell Black Pudding to come meet with us outside of the town''
I nod. "I guess a harbinger would be a good place to start before we try anything else. All else fails, yeah. I'll join you, Silvy." I grab my harbinger and hold it out. "Someone else should send the message. I ain't the best with words."
''I believe Zunden has the best ties with him. Let her deliver the message''
There's no sign of his Sanctuary anywhere.>>746313"I'll move the ship once we decide on something,"
Etrigan nods. "It's not as simple as just doing it though, I have to find an open enough place to land it…">>746315>>746314>>746313>>746311>>746309>>746316
You send out the Harbinger, followed by Etrigan moving the ship a bit closer, but out of sight of Larkstead, parking it at the bottom of a ravine.
24 hours pass.
No reply. The Harbinger doesn't even return, though it headed in the direction of the town.
Dawn looks a bit worried. "You don't suppose something's happened to him?…"
"He'll be more willing to help us if we help him first," Marisol points out.
"I don't like any of this," Violet muses. "Not this place, and definitely not the idea of helping Black Pudding of all people. But, if we must, I suppose we'll have to."
"And we may be able to help the people of this town in the process!" Gawain chimes in.
"Should we go, then?" Aurora asks, looking from person to person.
''We have no other choice. But we must decide how to approach. A large group might be too suspicious so we could try entering the city and searching for Black Pudding in separate, smaller groups of three, four at most. We also need a way for each group to contact the other in case something happens though''
I shake my head. "Yeah, that settles it. We send a group in. We can contact eachother through Etrigan. I guess you weren't here when we figured that out."
''I was not informed of this, no. How does it work?''
"Oh dear.. Well, i suppose the next step would be a foray into the town.">>746323
"Indeed. You and I should be able to enter undetected, while Rabi could project into the city from the ship."
"If Lysander is operating off of old information, Aegis and Gawain may be inconspicuous enough to simply enter the city, given their relatively recent addition."
"Seems like a solid idea, yeah. As long as we stay in touch, just a few people heading in could work."
"Then, just a few stealthier people go and contact us when you find Black Pudding or get into trouble?" Hermodur purports.
Zunden deflates at it not arriving, but gives in to the general will of the others, "We'll have to hope to find him, I fear ztaying here zo cloze to Braildorn iz dangerouz, but I underztand ze will of ze group iz to get ze aide of Pudding."
''We'll make haste. I dont want to stay in here for any longer than we have to either''>>746323
''Master Norvegicus, are you going in too? Will you need the Mournwing Cloack?''
>>746324It just works.
You hear Etrigan's voice in your head. I… can't explain how. It's an instinct. A feeling. I can speak to anyone in this room from any distance, it seems.>>746323>>746325>>746326>>746327>>746328>>746330
"One of us should come along too," says Marisol. "In case of a fight. Not that you can't handle yourselves, of course. I volunteer, if you'll have me."
Gawain speaks his mind. "I don't feel we should waste this opportunity and have everyone just stand around, if you don't mind me saying so. Maybe the rest of us could look for clues in the area surrounding the town, while you all go sneaking?…"
"Yeah," I say. "I'm actually going to hang onto the cloak. It's done me a heck of a lot of good.">>746327
I nod. "Me and Silvy, at least.">>746333
"I don't know. It seems pretty dangerous just to expose yourselves like that, but I don't blame you for not just wanting to sit around."
''Hm. Very well, we can try to discover the meaning behind this convenient power later''
''I was hoping you'd join me, Master Gawain. Master Silver has a good point, we might be able to go by unnoticed even if we are seen''>>746334
''I understand. You can hold on to it as long as you need, but I will be taking it with me when I find a way out of the Echoes. It'd be an excellent asset to my family''
Hermodur looks to Gawain, then looks to Etrigan. "As long as Etrigan is able to inform if anyone else is in trouble, I suppose it's not a big deal. I'd just prefer to be in a position to come to help as quickly and directly as possible."
"Right- and, meanwhile, I'll get searching my way." the stallion suggests, trying to find either somewhere nice to sit or a cushion to fall over on to. "If I see something bad, I can pop back, tell Etrigan, and he can tell everyone. Sound good?"
"If there will be a ztealzh party, Aurora would do well to go along az I am not ezpecially zneaky, and a healer might be needed. Perhapz I will wear one of ze outfitz I have not yet worn in public and go along wizh Gawain."
"That would be appreciated, dear." i reply>>746333
"An excellent point, Sir Gawain. With you leading the search party and Marisol's aid infiltrating the town, i'm certain we will find our answer soon enough."
You slip into the astral plane, but for a change, you don't form a connection with Elaina. First time since the Sands you haven't seen a memory of hers.>>746343>>746339>>746338>>746336>>746335>>746334
"Alright, sounds good to me," Violet nods. "Violet and I will stay behind and guard the ship," says Dawn. "I might try some new spells and see if I can't contact this Black Pudding from afar…">>746334>>746343>>746338
Marisol and Aurora both join you in your approach to Larkstead. You are forced to ascend a narrow stone path up the ravine to get to the top, and from there it's a straight shot to town.
The first thing you notice is how… normal it looks. You can see the townsfolk going about their daily routines as per usual. In contrast to the barren landscape surrounding it, nothing really seems to be wrong, at least on first glance.
"Strange. I expected it to look a lot worse," Marisol comments as she keeps clear of it, moving around to try to infiltrate the town unseen. "You don't suppose this is some sort of illusion?" Aurora asks.>roll Perception>>746339>>746336>>746335
You disembark. Gawain follows behind you, flying down and landing on the cracked dirt with a solid clunk and rattle. "Luckily I'm not going with the other group," he jokes.
You are currently in the ravine where the ship is parked. To your left you can see a precarious stone path that leads upward. The other group went up this way to get to Larkstead. Otherwise, you can see three paths:
Forward leads to a gentle upward slope in the ravine. There are some dead bushes here, and you think you see some sort of movement.
Back leads to a darker part of the ravine. It's hard to see much from here, but you can hear dripping water.
There is also a cave opening on your immediate right, leading into the ravine wall itself.
''Did you also see that?'' Aegis points out to the bushes, squinting as she tries to get a good look
'1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
"I don't imagine ze cave iz a good choize for finding hiz houze, zo perhapz up zhat zlope. Be cauziouz zhouzgh, I imagine it might've been a prowler."
[1d10] Zunden also keeps her eyes open.Roll #1 1 = 1
"That's not luck," Hermodur says to Gawain as he spots the movement over in the brush. "That's just proper strategizing."
[1d10] to investigate the movementRoll #1 6 = 6
I scan the town. Weird. "Well, illusion or not we should still keep a low profile. Guess that goes without saying, though." I briefly consider putting on my mask, but decide that'll probably attract more attention than I really need. For now I keep it in a pocket.
[1d10]PerceptionRoll #1 10 = 10
"Strange indeed.. If things are as they seem, why hasn't the Harbinger arrived?"
remaining inconspicuous, I look around at the seemingly normal town, recalling the wanted posters pinned up in the past and keeping my head down.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 7 = 7
You approach the rustling bushes. Something shoots out of them and hits Zunden square in the face; it's a glob of greyish material, which clings to her and restricts her vision, beginning to settle and solidify as soon as it hits.>-2 to Perception rolls for the next 5 rounds or until the substance is removed: DC6
The creature responsible reveals itself; it resembles an oversized whip scorpion, having spat the gunk from its chittering maw. It seems to make this region its lair, rearing up and spreading its claws menacingly, telling you to stay away. Gawain frowns. "Guess we're not going that way, unless you all fancy fighting that thing. Are you alright?" He moves to help Zunden.
>>746348"I, uhm… well. That's weird."
he says to himself, shaking it off- why did, for once, it not happen? Regardless, he moves on.>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Zunden gives a small yelp, prying at the material for a small moment before digging around in her bag for a book, holding it out to Aegis, >>746350
"Can you read up on ze creature and make zure zhiz izn't poizonouz?" Zunden says, handing the Bestiary, going back to prying at the material.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Aegis's shield glows for a second until she realizes that attack was just a warning ''It seems to be defending something, its territory or something'' Aegis points out>>746357
''Oh so thats where the Bestiary was'' Aegis picks it up magically and searches for the entry on the Whip Scorpions
''Well if you can still see then it is likely not poisonous'' She says as she flips through the pages
Hermodur draws mjolnir and his shield. He gently pushes Zunden back and steps between her and the scorpion. Mjolnir revs to life.
He waits for confirmation to attack. He stands in a battle-ready position, looking like an imposing opponent.
[1d10+2] intimidationRoll #1 8 + 2 = 10
Looking around, you come to a strange realization. Aurora voices what's dawned on you. "There's no farms. No gardens. Where do these people get their food and drink?…"
Norv notices that they seem to be acting out their routines instead of actually doing anything, like dolls in a dollhouse. It's as if they've been enchanted to simulate life.
Marisol watches them do this for a while, looking a bit unnerved. "Should… should we find a way in and explore more? Something tells me we don't want to alert them to our presence.">>746356
You move into the town itself. It seems like a perfectly ordinary town in its architecture and layout; upon first inspection, there's nothing about the town itself that's of particular note. It's only upon a closer look that you realize what Aurora voiced just now.
This is a significantly large town; it seems exploring it will take quite a while, if you're looking for signs of Black Pudding's presence. It is divided into many sections:
There are four gates to the north, south, east and west.
To the northeast is a residential area, having the most houses, as well as some miscellaneous shops and a church.
Southeast is an inn, a book shop, and an apothecary.
Southwest is a marketplace and a smithy.
Southeast is the town hall, a hospital, and a bell tower.
In the center of town is a park containing a fountain.
Rabi frowns a little at the realization… this can't be right at all. What's even going on here?
Trying to shake off the unsettling feeling, the stallion floats over towards the apothecary. Maybe Black Pudding might be in here? Or… something less concerning, at least?
You manage to pull off the blinding gunk before it can solidify any further.>>746359
The creature backs off slightly, but continues to spread its claws to assert dominance. It won't back down.>>746357>>746358>>746359
You consult the bestiary.
>Threat level: Medium
A large species of arthropod found in arid regions. Rock spitters are almost always found in pairs, and are not particularly dangerous creatures, relying on their menacing size and appearance to ward off any potential opponents. When confronted, they rely on their powerful claws, as well as their namesake; the grey substance they secrete can subdue an enemy in seconds as it solidifies to become hard as stone, trapping prey and shutting down predators from afar. They are not venomous, however, and to those so inclined, make for a decent meal when prepared properly.
"Maybe that cave system will lead to another path," Gawain suggests. "I think we should leave it be. We are trespassing, after all."
"The cave? That would have been my last choice. Why would Black Pudding have gone that way?" Hermodur comments as he continues to stare down the scorpion, unmoving.
Aegis relays the information found on the book before closing it and briefly exchanging stares with the Rock Spitter
''Yes maybe so. No reason to try to force our way through this, yet''
Aegis carefully begins to back off, respecting the creature as she heads towards the cave, staying right behind Gawain>>746364
''It doesnt seem like a bad choice. Staying in a cave ensures you will never be caught by surprise if there's only one way in. Of course you'd be cornered if the problem is more than you could handle but sure Black Pudding would have a plan for that''
"I honeztly don't believe ze houze would fit in ze cave, I zhink Aegiz could make uze of her zpecialized magic to take out ze Zpitter, given it'z natural weaknezz. If one of uz getz zpit on, we will all focuz on prying ze material off firzt."
"I don't know… This isn't right. It's like they're brainwashed or something. Just kinda doing things you'd expect townsfolk to be doing because that's what you'd expect to see. If that makes sense. We can slip in and have a look around, but yeah. We really shouldn't alert them."
Mere shells of life, acting out a recording of life in the town.
"Oh my.. This is certainly unexpected."
"I suppose we should try to enter the town proper, though we must be cautious.."
Picking my way through the outskirts, i wait for the bustle of fake life to move away from an entrance and slip inside.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 10 = 10
Aegis stops and turns back around ''As you wish, but we should be careful for its mate''>>746363
Turning back to the Spitter, Aegis begins calling for orbs of frozen crystal
'1d10' homing magic, iceRoll #1 4 = 4
"Black Pudding doesn't strike me as one to hide. That's why you establish the whole scary persona. To make it so that people are too scared to mess with you. Then, you don't have to hide.">>746366
"So, what's the plan?"
[1d10] Zunden keeps an eye out for the other SpitterRoll #1 10 = 10
''Estabilishing yourself as the mightiest is an invitation for potentially stronger enemies to seek you out. You dont try to gather that reputation unless you're certain you can attest for it, and I am yet to see Black Pudding's prowess against when cornered''
"Mightiest and scariest are not quite the same."
You don't find any trace of him at the apothecary. It's a perfectly ordinary shop. Too ordinary.>>746367>>746368
You enter Larkstead. Aurora and Marisol take the high ground, flying from rooftop to rooftop, unseen. As you progress, you notice something even stranger. Apart from them acting out aspects of day to day life, some of them appear to be moving… backwards? It's as if they're stuck on a loop, constantly moving back and forth, being rewound through time.>see >>746360 for the layout
Silver enters completely unnoticed, clinging to the shadows and moving only when no one is looking. She's almost impossible to notice.
''You definetlystand on the scary side, Master Hermodur''
Rabi frowns a little as he floats into the store, finding… nothing out of the far-too-ordinary ordinary. He'll move along to the bookstore next, keeping his eyes peeled for something, anything strange.>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Gawain explains his reasoning. "Caves are usually connected to other parts of a region. We could use them to travel to more open places where this Pudding may have been. Yes? It makes sense in my head, at least. We could try traveling via the caves, or turn back and explore the other way, where the dripping water was. Or go where the others went and explore the barrens above!">>746369
Your spell fails.>>746371
You notice movement behind the one you can see. It's keeping its distance more than the other one, more defensive.
I take a deep breath, pull the cloak tighter against me, and follow Silver in. Not entirely sure what we'll do now that we can't exactly interact with anyone but I'm sure we'll figure something out.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10
"I learned from the best.">>746377
"Up to you guys."
''Master Gawain, are you afraid of scorpions?'' Aegis briefly turns to the gryphon>>746379
''I have no problem fighting here, but I dont mind checking the other routes before we commit to killing these Rock Spitters here''
Skulking through the dark, i make my way southeast towards the Inn, slipping inside before anypony takes notice.
"I had a bad time ze lazt time I waz in a cave, and we don't know for zertain it will actually have anozher way out. If we are to venture in, we will need to have a way to mark our way back."
''If it doesnt then we just try something else. Or we can try the other paths first''
Seeing Silver head to the inn, I decide to cover more ground and skulk toward the bell tower.
This town is strange enough as is, but you do notice something: there is a little symbol drawn in chalk on a pillar of the book store. Looking close by, you can see other such symbols drawn on nearby buildings. It's like a breadcrumb trail left for someone to follow.>>746381>>746384
No one seems to be going to the inn, so it's easy enough to enter. You find another strange scene inside: the whole thing is frozen. Not by ice, but in time.
There are patrons sitting around eating and drinking, a pianist playing a tune, a cat sleeping by a fireplace, a barmaid sweeping the floor, but they are all suspended in the middle of their actions, like store mannequins. Even the flames of the fireplace are frozen, and you can see a drink being spilled, pouring over a table and about to hit the floor. It's like you've wandered into a painting, or a photograph.
Marisol follows you in, while Aurora looks around outside. "What in the…? What happened here?" She seems hesitant to touch anything.
"Some form of time magic?" i whisper, slinking over to the front desk to search for a guest book of some sort.
[1d10] searchRoll #1 10 = 10
Rabi hums a little bit, and slowly begins to follow the series of symbols. It's hard to say if he's going the right 'direction' on the trail, but he can always come back this way if he isn't.>Search? Perception? Is it needed? [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"I think that goes without saying. The false Oneiromancer's work, you think? This seems like some really darn strong magic, affecting this many folks like this." I check behind the bar for anything.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
"Afraid? Me? Hah! I fear nothing! …Except that shadow deer we ran into. A little.">>746379>>746380>>746382
You go through the caves. It seems Gawain had the right idea; it's less of a cavern and more of a complex of different tunnels. It's hard to see without a light source; luckily, you have Zunden's suns. You can smell mold, and water, and stone. Gawain tries to help mark the paths by scraping the rock with his gauntlet, leaving streaks on the tunnel walls to mark where you've been.>roll Navigation
"If magic like this constitutes a false
Oneiromancer, one shudders to think what depths of power the true version carries."
Silver finds a visitor's book. Marisol stops her from opening it, however. "I don't know if it's wise to tamper with anything here," she warns. "We could set this place off." She looks at the frozen barkeep, eternally pouring ale from a keg tap. "Maybe we should see if we can find any evidence of Black Pudding having been here upstairs. Or in the area.">>746387
You move from marker to marker. It seems to be taking you to the northwest quadrant of town, toward town hall and the bell tower, but you lose the trail.
Zunden keeps her eyes mostly low, making sure not to trip and fall down a crevice.
[1d10] navRoll #1 1 = 1
[1d10] NavigationRoll #1 5 = 5
''Yes I was also very afraid''
Inside the cave, Aegis calls forth a couple wisps of light to help illuminate the way ''If Master Norvegicus had not taken the infinite red yarn ball, we'd have something a little better to track our way back''
'1d10' naviRoll #1 8 = 8
It takes a bit of wandering, but you eventually find a path forward and out of the cave system. You are on the edge of the ravine now, on a seemingly carved out path that leads forward. Looking down, you can see that you're past the choke point that the Rock Spitters laid claim to. There's a path forward along the ravine side, and a path down that would lead you to ground level and past the Rock Spitters.
"Huzzah!" Gawain crows. "I knew we'd find a way! Good thing we had those orbs of yours to light the way, Lady Zunden. …Lady Zunden?"
You follow the others onward, but find yourself starting to lag behind some. You struggle to keep up, and at one point take a long way around to get to where you saw them. You get a bit turned around, finding yourself lost.
You backtrack. Stepping forward, you hear a soft crumbling sound. A sensitive part of the tunnel gives way under your weight, and you find yourself slipping and falling through a crevasse, deeper into the earth.>roll to avoid taking fall damage
"We could check the rooms, but do you think he'd actually've left any evidence he was here? I think he's pretty paranoid as it is, but if he was actually looking into this guy then-" I shrug. "Still, should probably check."
"Ah, an excellent point, we'd hate to join the villagers in this out-of-time trap."
leaving the check in book in its place, i slip around the counter to make for the inn's bedrooms upstairs.
[1d10] navigation (just in case)Roll #1 8 = 8
''We must find her immediatelly'' Aegis says with a hint of urgengy in her voice, despite the calm expression
''Master Sir Gawain, fly up and look for her from above, I will backtrack through the cave and see if she got separated from us on the way''
Aegis turns back and heads through the way she came, searching and calling out for Zunden
Hermodur lets out a long sigh.
He looks around for any sign of where Zunden with his eyes before actually going back into the cave.
>[1d10]>Hunter's Eye with applicable hereRoll #1 3 = 3
Knowing she doesn't have the orbs prepared to create something to catch her part way, she instead shapes a small bit of stone to stick out of the wall, just enough to grab ahold of with a claw to help with the fall.
>Frozen Creation (6) for small handhold
[1d10+1] avoiding fall damage with the help of breaking the fallRoll #1 10 + 1 = 11
Rabi lets out a somewhat-annoyed huff, but he's too creeped out by the town for it to be much else- he'll keep looking for anything weird, while he tries to pick up on the symbols he'd been following.>Navigation [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
You make your way upstairs, careful not to disturb anything in the process. Looking around you see much of the same that was downstairs: frozen candles, patrons in the midst of sleeping or moving about, and workers cleaning or serving food and drink. However, while exploring, you notice something different about one of the rooms: one of them doesn't appear to be affected by the time freeze. It takes you a moment to notice, but the candles are flickering in this room.
"You don't suppose this is where he stayed?" Marisol asks, looking around the room interestedly.>>746822
The closer you draw to the bell tower, the more you feel… something. A presence. You're not sure if it's malevolent or not, but there's definitely something in there.
You arrive at the bell tower. The marking seem to lead you here. It's a large square sandstone building with a pyramid shaped roof. There are two guards outside, frozen as usual, and the door appears to be closed. The feeling of a presence is strongest here.>>746819
"It's just Sir, actually," he remarks. "I don't see how she could be anywhere but in the caves…" He opts not to follow your request and instead follows you in.>>746820
You can't see any signs of her.>>746820>>746819>no roll from Aegis, using last digit of post number
You double back and make your way through the caves again. At first, you don't find anything, and it starts to feel like you're going in circles; then, Aegis comes across a section of the tunnel that's collapsed. Looking down into the hole, you can see Zunden clinging to the wall, having broken her fall. Looks like it goes down a few feet.>>746821
You manage to pull some stone out of the wall to grab and break your fall, leaving you clinging as the floor gives way under you. Looking down, you can see that it's not much of a drop; only a few feet below is a whole other sublayer of the caves. You think you can see something glowing down there.>>746821>>746820>>746819
"Oh good heavens! Lady Zunden, are you quite alright?" Gawain shifts uneasily on the spot, fretting and looking about. "How are we going to get her out of there? If only we had some rope, or…"
Hermodur lays down and reaches out with Mjolnir to see if he can get her to grab hold of it.
>[1d10] if necessaryRoll #1 1 = 1
"Well, knowing BP it's entirely possible he knew how to counteract the spell. Seems like that means he was here when it happened if that's the case, though. Wish there was some way to know how long ago that was." I trail off. "Well, I guess there is. If we're brave enough to open the guest book. I wonder if bringing one of the frozen folks in here would break the spell, or if the anti-spell-area thing just protected the place when it was first cast."
''Not to worry, I have some'' Aegis magically floats some rope out of her bags in a neat donut and hands it to Gawain ''My magic grip is not strong enough to pull her out, however. So you will have to do it, Sir Gawain''
"I'm uninjured, waz able to catch my fall.">>746828
Zunden takes the rope once she knows someone stronger is holding onto it.
"Perhaps. If the room is out of the spell's effect, he may have had the time to place a severance rune."
peeking my head into the room, I step around the door and inside, searching for evidence of black pudding, runes or personal affects.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Gawain starts lowering the rope as Hermodur tries to reach down and help Zunden up. You hear a soft crumbling sound as a piece of rock loosens, however, and Hermodur finds himself tumbling into the tunnel. He plummets right into Zunden, and both of them hit the rocky ground below hard. Gawain winces and lowers the rope for them. "Are you alright?" he asks with concern. "Is anything broken?">Hermodur takes 3 hits>Zunden takes 2 hits>>746825
You find an open window on the top floor of the tower. It's a fairly nondescript room. Some furniture, a workbench with some tools, and a bookshelf. There's a flight of stairs leading up to the bell itself, but it seems to be closed by a trapdoor. Other than that, you can't see anything too interesting here. At least on first glance…>roll Perception>>746830>>746827
Upon further inspection, you notice that the room seems to have been subject to a struggle at some point. There are scorch marks on the walls behind some of the furniture, and one of the chairs is broken. There's strange dark stains on the wooden floor too, and a sort of cloying aroma in the air. It's vaguely familiar.
You also notice two markings on a bedpost. One is the Severance rune, carved with a knife, while the other is a symbol you don't recognize, made with chalk. Looking around, Silver finds another similar marking on a wall in the corridor, and yet another on a support beam on the lower level. "A breadcrumb trail?" Aurora suggests, having quietly joined you earlier.
I hum. "You think he would've made himself that easy to follow? Still, don't have much else to go on. We should probably point Z here when we get the chance, though. Or draw the symbols down for her to copy or something."
''By the sounds they must still be alive'' Aegis comments as she looks down the hole, always keeping her ears peeled in case of any bushwhackers
"I'm fine," Hermodur grumbles. He waits for Zunden to climb up first, then follows after.
>[1d10] for climbingRoll #1 3 = 3
"Injured, but only zlightly." Zunden groans, trying to push Hermodur off of her. "Zhere waz zomezhing glowing down here, I waz worried it waz a pair of eyez."
Zunden climbs up first.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
"Did you figure out what it was?" Hermodur asks with concern.
"Waz buzy falling."
"Excellent idea, Norvy. perhaps she may have a sense of its use?">>746831
taking my journal out to mark down the rune's shape with a shiv and ink, i follow the trail of symbols back downstairs, looking around for more of its kind on nearby surfaces.
"We're on his trail now, though the state of the room is quite concerning.. who could have done this to black pudding of all ponies?"Roll #1 7 = 7
I follow Silver, trying to place the smell.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
You notice something on the trap door. There's a black ooze of some sort dripping down every once in a while. It seems to be seeping through from above at a snail's pace.>>746835>>746836
Looking back, you see that the glowing is coming from an ore vein nearby. It's illuminating the whole chamber. It seems valuable.>>746836>>746835>>746834
Gawain fiddles with the rope, tying it firmly to the base of a stalagmite. "Not to worry, it's safe now!" he calls.
Zunden manages to shimmy up with no problems. Hermodur follows, but not without incident. The rope strains and almost snaps under his considerable weight, but he makes it up in one piece all the same. "Phew. That was lucky. We could have lost you both. Are you hurt?" Gawain looks you both over with a bit of worry.>>746840
You've smelled that before. It's Black Pudding's scent.>>746832>>746839
"Perhaps he wasn't leaving a trail for us, but for himself," Marisol muses. "Or maybe he didn't care if he was found or not," Aurora chimes in.
You follow the trail of runes. It leads out of the inn and all across town. It takes you a good while to reach its end, culminating at the bell tower at the far end of town. See >>746824
for a description.
You start to feel the strange sensation of a presence Rabi is feeling. Aurora comments on it. "Do you think it's him?" "Why would he come to a bell tower?" Marisol ponders.
''What happened Zunden?'' Aegis asks in her usual monotone ''Why did you lag behind?''
"Well, any doubt I actually had is gone. It was definitely Black Pudding. It was kinda faint, but the room smelled like him."
I look up at the belltower. "Well, this place caught my eye to begin with. Thought about splitting up and checking here first." I walk up to the door and stop. "There was a fight, so maybe we shouldn't just barge in. Could be trapped or something." I carefully inspect the door.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"Only slightly," Hermodur answers Gawain. "Nothing to be concerned about."
"We should be wary of how far we go, though. Our main goal is to be on call if the ones in town run into trouble. If our way back is this treacherous, then we won't be very helpful in an emergency."
Zunden scowls at Aegis, already having been uncomfortable for the past few days and having Aegis imediately putting fault on her, "I did not chooze for ze earzh to crumble underneazh me."
Brushing herself off, she follows quietly and brooding.
was definitely Black Pudding. It was kinda faint, but the room smelled like him."
I look up at the belltower. "This place caught my eye to begin with. Thought about splitting up and checking here first."
For now I stand back and wait to follow Silver's lead.
off put by the intense feeling around the tower,I hesitate to enter, opting to put an ear to the wood of the door.
[1d10] listeningRoll #1 2 = 2
''I see. Try to stay in the middle of the group then where we can keep an eye on you'' Aegis followed right behind the Saurian
"Hmm.. guards posted to the entrance. what do you suppose we should try?"
"I could use a spot of midnight oil, leave one guard asleep. would you be able to take the other? or perhaps I could fly in from the tower's bell?"
"I do have more sleeper poison. I'm running out, though. I have maybe six doses left? Still, it's probably a good idea. Maybe we should just try to talk to them first, though?"
Gawain frowns a little as Aegis admonishes Zunden.
You return to the exit you found before. >reposting
You are on the edge of the ravine now, on a seemingly carved out path that leads forward. Looking down, you can see that you've gone around the choke point that the Rock Spitters laid claim to. There's a path forward along the ravine side, and a path down that would lead you to ground level and past the Rock Spitters.>>746851
"Something tells me we shouldn't engage with these people if we can avoid it," Aurora mutters.>>746847>>746850
"Flying would be best," Marisol agrees. "We could try to cause a distraction down here." "I can come with you if you like," says Aurora, albeit with a bit of reluctance. Despite having made up more or less, she doesn't seem to like being around you much.>>746844
Upon closer inspection, it looks like part of Black Pudding.
"Well, I feel weird sending you two in alone, but I guess if that's what you want to do then yeah. I'll distract the guards with Marisol." I lightly tug on the Mournwing cloak. "Wanna borrow this for a bit?"
''Down there'' Aegis motions to the ground path ''I doubt the Rock Spitters would wander that far off their area, its likely safe''
Zunden follows without putting in any input into where to go, summoning orbs to replace the one she lost, trying to calm herself by just focusing on something else.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
>>746852"Well, huh… I guess this must be the place. I guess I don't have much else I can do here, so…
>End Astral Projection
Rabi awakens with a bit of a gasp, looking for the closest ship member.
"That could work. Circling to the back before flying in would be the least likely to draw their ire, though a distraction would guarantee our entry, if at your risk."
"The aid would be appreciated, Aurora. Better to enter with an Ally, we've little to go off of what may be inside."
Waiting a moment to confirm the plan, I slink around the shadows of buildings until reaching the back of the tower, lifting off the ground with my wings and scampering onto the bell floor.>bounce
[1d10] just in caseRoll #1 5 = 5
"I still worry about the return trip," Hermodur comments.
He keeps a lookout for any signs of Black Pudding or trouble.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
You find yourself sitting at the dinner table. Dawn and Violet seem to be playing a card game. You briefly question how Dawn can see her hand. They jump as you reawaken. "Oh. Rabi. You're back." Dawn smiles softly. "What's out there?" Violet asks with curiosity, as Etrigan manifests by your side.>>746853
Aurora nods and dons the cloak. "Thanks. See you in a minute." With that, she takes off and leaves you with Marisol, who's eyeing the guards from your hiding spot. They seem to just be standing there, unmoving. "How are we going to do this then?" she asks quietly.>>746857
Aurora flies up with you. You both go undetected as you go all the way around, flying up to the top of the tower.
This floor of the tower contains little but the great bell itself, and a lever mechanism for operating it. However, on second glance, there's a black ichorous substance staining the wooden floor, and a piece of fabric nearby. "What… what is that?…" Aurora seems wary to go near it.
'1d10' PerceptionRoll #1 5 = 5
Gawain shrugs and follows along.
The ground path consists mainly of unremarkable dirt trails, with a few dying bushes here and there. At one point, though, Aegis notices some familiar purple-black ooze sticking to one of the bushes, along with a trail carved through the dirt. Gawain does a bit of a double take. "Oh. It seems he came this way at some point after all. Curious."
Landing on the tower's floorboards, i follow Aurora's gaze to the black puddle, stumbling back briefly at the memory of the oneiromancer's similar substance.
Shaking my head, i reexamine the ooze and the cloth, checking for a trail of the substance.
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 4 = 4
"We could just go talk to them? We're newcomers to town, so it'd make sense to ask about the tower. It's one of the things that stands out most in the village. Just bugging them should keep them busy."
Rabi goes to say something, but hesitates for a second when he sees Dawn playing… cards? Shaking his head a little and putting that off for later, he says "Oh! Sorry if I interrupted the game, but a lot of… creepy. The whole town's too ordinary, but I found a couple things- some symbols scratched into walls and doors along town like some sort of… I dunno, trail, and some black ooze dripping out of a trapdoor in the clock tower. That might be our best bet… or, at least, the only abnormal thing to check."
''There is no mistaking it. I remember this hint of purple'' Aegis sniffs the bit of goop, seeing if it had the same strong smell she felt when being in Black Pudding's presence
''We have our tracks, lets go''''Etrigan, are you there? Our group found something that might lead to Black Pudding. How are the others?''
"I don't recall, does his house usually ooze?" Hermodur asks with concern.
Following the trail.
[1d10] to keep watching for dangerRoll #1 8 = 8
Zunden squats down, looking at the liquid, "I wonder if it'z rezcent."
Zunden investigates the goo to see if it's coagulated any. [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
The cloth is actually a familiar ruined hat. As you approach, it begins to bubble faintly. Aurora pulls back in trepidation as it rises. Two mismatched eyes and a mouth appear in the ooze. It's him.
"Thou… Who art thou? Another one of his tricks?…">>746863
"Do you think it's a good idea to interact with anything in this town?" She seems wary of the idea of even touching things. "We should try and lure them away, if anything."
All of a sudden, they start moving. And not in a natural way. It's as if time is going in reverse for them. They open the tower door without looking and walk in backwards, vanishing into the building. Marisol blinks. "…What the hell was that?…">>746864
"Black ooze?" Violet asks, looking fearful. "Is it that… that thing we ran into?…"
"It sounds more like Black Pudding," Dawn chimes in. "Maybe we should inform the others."
Etrigan nods. "Should I send the message?">>746865
It's definitely the same aroma.Yes, I'm here. Rabi's back. It sounds like he found Pudding himself. Maybe. Still trying to figure it out.>>746867
It seems to have coagulated. Seems it's been a while.>>746865>>746866>>746867
The trail seems to lead up and out of the ravine. Zunden notices an unfamiliar rune drawn on the stone surface in chalk. Looks like a trail of some sort. Following the path takes you up to the surface, facing the nearby town of Larkstead.
Zunden identifies the rune with her glasses as she's done in the past.
>>746868''Maybe? Could you give me more details about their situation?
"I'm thinking it's black pudding, yeah. Or, I hope it is. Go ahead and send the message, Etrigan." he says, before stretching out and sighing "On top of that, this was just… weird, in general. This was the first time I projected where I didn't see any memories from Elaina."
"I don't know, but nothing good." I pull my dart gun and load a sleeper dart. "Come on. We're following them in. No way am I letting Aurora and Silvy get blindsided." I quickly make my way to the tower and slip in behind them.
[1d10]If there isn't anyone that can immediately see me and stealth is a viable optionRoll #1 8 = 8
recoiling in surprise, i look at the likely injured goopony with great concern.
"Black Pudding? It's me, Silver Song! My word, what happened to you?"
You examine the rune. It looks like a V with two small "wings" at the tips. You can't figure out what it means, though.>>746870
A mental shrug. The others aren't back yet, and it looks like Rabi split up from them. No word yet.>>746871
"No memories?" Dawn parrots. "That is strange. Perhaps it's this false Oneiromancer's interference…""I feel the others may be in danger the longer we're split up,"
Etrigan muses. "I'll call them back to the ship.">>746872
You touch the tower door. Inside, the guards seem to have gone up the stairs. There's a pony sitting at a desk reading, but again, it seems to be going backwards, flipping pages from left to right. Despite you being right there, he doesn't seem to be aware of your existence. "Did… did we trigger something, do you think? What is this?…">>746873
Aurora covers her mouth. "Are… are you hurt, sir?"
"We underestimated him… that arrant interloper… Malverlain…" All color seems to have drained from him, going from his usual vibrant deep purple to a matte black stain on the floor.
"Malverlain? Who's… What?…""Well well. And he calls ME an interloper."
The voice comes from behind you. Standing off of the tower, seemingly perched in thin air, is a Felid. He is thin as a rake, with brilliant yellow eyes and long, striped grey fur. His hooded robes are black, with an emerald green trim. He stands straight-backed, eyeing you with a predatory gaze, hands clasped behind his back. He doesn't move a muscle as he stands suspended in thin air. It's like he's standing on an invisible platform."I hope you're enjoying what I've done with the place. Who do I owe the pleasure of speaking to? Wait, don't tell me."
The Felid closes his eyes and sniffs the air curiously."Silver Song, and Aurora d'Arbanville. My my.">>746869>>746870>>746872
\You receive a sudden message from Etrigan. Rabi says he might have found Black Pudding. We should reconvene soon and share our findings. What news on your end? Do you need my assistance?
''No I dont believe we will need help, Etrigan. We're heading back right now''
"I don't know." I briefly peak around the corner to see if anyone is there, and if it's clear quietly make my way up the stairway.
"Yeah- I'm not sure, but… it's kind of concerning. I've gotten used to seeing inside her head, as uncomfortable as some of the thoughts are. Maybe, I don't know… is she hurt? Is it blocked, somehow? Can she still look into my memories?"
Zunden continues to study the rune, "If the others need us, we'll head over.
[1d10] studyRoll #1 7 = 7
Whirling to face the intruder, i tense up for a fight as the mage floats calmly in the air.
"Interesting.. So you are the false Oneiromancer i've heard mention of."
"I must say the spellwork you've done here is quite impressive, though the reasoning behind it eludes me. Care to enlighten us?"
A feeling of exertion. I can't get in touch with either of them. What… What's going on up there? Can you reach them?>>746876Copy. I'll get the ship ready for your return.>>746877
Marisol follows. As you peek around the corner, you come face to face with the guards, who are marching backwards up the stairs. Yet again, though, they seem unaware of your presence. Marisol blinks. "…I think we're in the clear. We should meet up with Silver and Aurora up at the top.">>746878
"There must be something blocking it," she agrees. "I'm… I'm having trouble contacting Silver and Aurora,"
Etrigan chimes in. "It's like they don't exist for me. Maybe this is the same thing…">>746879
You try to discern the meaning of the rune. It seems to be placed as a way to guide one to something. Truth, perhaps, or guidance. Revelation. Some abstract concept relating to those. It's difficult to figure out.>>746880"I suppose some would call me that, yes. There's no point in trying to contact your friends, by the way,"
he says to Aurora. She freezes in place. "He knew…""Straight to the point, aren't you. I like that. I won't mince words. I'm a villain. I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. And you know what. It feels GOOD. I've been given so much. I can do whatever I want with your kind. You mud people. And this maggot comes in and thinks he can interfere with my playtime."
He looks at the bubbling, strangely quiet form of Black Pudding, trapped atop the bell tower."I don't need to smell you to surmise why you're here. I'm only going to give you two one chance."
You suddenly feel a great weight being forced upon you. Like a force pushing you to the ground, crushing you against the hard wooden floor. Aurora struggles in vain, gritting her teeth from the sudden exertion. "Kneel. Before your new god."
"M-Maybe we should go, then- At least, I don't think I can sit here and let… whatever's going on go on."
"If the others cannot be contacted, then there's no point not bringing the ship. If they've been captured or seen to the point of recognition, we might as well work with all the tools at our disposal.
I give Marisol a nod and try to push past the guards and creep up the stairs, keeping my dart gun at the ready.
The weight of magic crushes down on me! i struggle against this intrusive force mightily, eyes burning with rage at the notion of submission.
"The indignity.. You dare command me
?! I yield to none!"
[1d10] resistRoll #1 8 = 8
''Agreed. But Etrigan would certainly be warned if they were captured of anything of the sort, I dont think we have to worry… For now''
Zunden, Gawain, Hermodur and Aegis travel up the path, and are promptly picked up by the Fortune as a ladder lowers. You see the others gathered up top. Etrigan looks concerned. "Silver and Aurora… I can't contact them. We have to move now. Something's terribly wrong."
"It's him," Dawn muses. "That puppet of Lysander's…"
"Did you find anything down there?" Violet prompts the ground crew.>>746887"We'll see."
You feel the crushing weight dragging you down. You keep standing defiantly for a good while, but eventually it becomes too much for you, and you collapse. It's not that something's pushing you down, you realize. It's you that's getting heavier and heavier."That's more like it. You'll make a perfect slave once I'm done bending this town."
The trapdoor opens, and you see Norv and Marisol enter, followed by two guards walking backwards.>>746886
You move further up, seeing the guards continue to walk backwards. You follow them all the way up to the top floor, where they open the hatch to the top of the tower. Below the bell, you can see a weakened, imprisoned Black Pudding, along with Aurora and Silver being bent to the will of a sinister Felid mage. See >>746874
for a description."Oh what fun. More playthings. (sniff sniff) Norvegicus Penelope Black. …Penelope? How quaint. And…(sniff) Marisol Tatyana Cerwyn. What a lovely name. …Hold on. Aren't you…"
Marisol's eyes widen with sudden recognition. "You!" She reaches for her dagger instinctively, only to find herself floating off the ground like a feather, up into the giant bell."Tsk tsk. You stay there for a bit. …And I suppose you're here for Black Pudding as well, Penny."
It takes you a minute to realize he's talking to you.
''Some tracks of Black Pudding and his moving house. Etrigan, where were they when they contacted you for the last time? Can you take us there?''
Without missing a beat, the moment I see him I aim and pull the trigger, hoping but not actually expecting it to do anything.
My stomach sinks as he says my name. Including my middle name. I don't think I've even said it out loud in years, but somehow he knows it. "I am."
My strength fails me and i collapse onto the wood of the tower. Unable to move, i can barely shift my head as Norv enters.>>746891
"N-norv, get away from here! Leave us, take the others too!"
Rabi nervously goes to grab some of his equipment, pulling out both the Greatbow and the Copperhead rifle. He places his bow on the deck and draws the string back, readying a shot when he sees anything dangerous.
""Zhink we zhould repeat what we did lazt time when Norvegicuz waz captured? Fire ze cannonz near ze town, not at anyone actually zhere. Uzually workz to get zheir attentionz away from where zhey need to be."
He nods, and gets the ship into motion.>>746894"That could work. …I just lost Norv. And Marisol. I can't contact them at all."
"I don't like this…" Violet shifts in place uneasily.>>746890>>746894
The Fortune flies over, approaching the eerily silent little town. Etrigan starts piloting it in circles, trying to spot any trace of your companions. A Servitor produces a spyglass for one of you to use.>roll Perception>>746891
Malverlain's head turns sharply to you as you fire. He seems to do something behind his back, and your shot redirects itself in midair, instead hitting Aurora. She grunts slightly, then her head hits the wooden deck as she goes out like a light. "Heh. How'd that work out for you, Penny?"
He snorts. "Don't tell me you called these idiots here, Pudding. This is your cavalry? This is pathetic. Bunch of amateurs. Fine by me though. By all means, send in the clowns!"
One of the guards stops to guard the watchtower, while the other keeps walking, stopping as he faces you. "So what, you fancy yourself a hero or something like that, Penny? Running in guns blazing like that? (sniff sniff) Ohhhohoho. You do. You really really do. Hehe. But you don't think you're strong enough. You're not cut from the same cloth as all the others. Interesting.">>746892>>746891
Silver suddenly finds herself being dragged by a magical force, then forced to stand upright again. She can barely move her body. She's standing on the very edge of the bell tower now, turned around to look up. It's a long, long way down. "This one's a bad apple, you know. (sniff) A really rotten one. She's killed more than most of your friends put together. And for nothing but sport. Because she thought it was fun. …Wow. That's almost as bad as I am. How can you travel with someone like this, Penny? She's the sort of villain you want to try and stop, isn't she?"
Malverlain looks over to Norv. The guard walks over and presses his sword into Norv's hand before shoving him toward Silver."Kill her.">roll Perception
Aegis quickly snatches it and begins looking for anything of interest
'1d10' Look-seeRoll #1 8 = 8
Pulled to the edge of the tower, unable to even turn my head, my eyes go wide as Malverlain gives the order to Norvy.
"You'll find nopony here willing to play your games, monster!" I shout back, hiding the panic in my voice "My past is no secret between us, and I know norvy would sooner perish than kill a friend!"Roll #1 4 = 4
My stomach sinks and I feel my knees grow weaker as he redirects my dart with barely any thought. I cringe as Aurora slumps over. Sorry.
I stumble forward as the guard shoves me. "No," I say. "She's changed. She's still
changing for the better. It's different now." It's still pretty bad. A literal serial killer. Multiple murderer? It doesn't matter. That Silver and the Silver I know are different. "No," I say a little more firmly, trying to look him in the eye without trembling too much.
[1d10]Persevere in the face of adversity. How scared he look?Roll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
Zunden watches out without the spyglass[1d10], taking a casual peek as she then makes it down to the cannon room. "I'm going to inzcribe ze cannon and munizion wizh Zeveranze, zee about making ze round fly zhrough ze air unzeen again."
Zunden starts drawing Severance runes to do just that. [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 10 = 10
"So, to be clear, they ARE still cannon balls right? If they hit one of us, they'll still hurt?"
You begin casting your runes, inscribing the cannonball with Severance. A Servitor stands by, ready to fire at your command.>>747345>>747346
Dawn nods in agreement with Hermodur. "Are you sure this is a good idea? If this warlock's taken our friends prisoner, they could get caught in the crossfire…">>746896>>747345>>747344>>747346
It doesn't take long to spot where something is happening. At the top of a belltower in the north western quadrant of town, Aegis can see that your missing companions. They seem to be apprehended by an unseen force. Standing in midair away from the tower facing them is a robed Felid. He seems distracted dealing with them, not having noticed you behind him yet. Violet grits her teeth in worry. "I guess that's him. How are we going to do this?…">>747342>>747341
His mocking smile falls. He shifts slightly, and the guard proceeds to turn around and mechanically hurl himself off the edge of the tower."Look, I don't ask for anything twice. Kill her, or I'll kill you both."
You feel yourselves being dragged toward the edge of the tower yourselves all of a sudden.Behind Malverlain, you can see the shadow of a ship behind him…
''The most I could do from here is try to blast him with magic from here. It wouldnt be as lethal as cannon fire but it could still break his grip from them
Aegis prepares a few orbs as she speaks
'1d5'Roll #1 4 = 4
"I am, as ever, all for the heavy-handed, dramatic approach. I am just saying if we do this, we need to make sure our aim is true."
"Is anyone able to tell where exactly they are?"
[1d10] to see if he can find them (even though he almost certainly can't)Roll #1 10 = 10
"Heavy-Handed is fine by me. I think I can line up a clear shot from here, if we're all ready to go…" the stallion tries to calm himself and focus on his aim.
"When I did this before, it was distraction more than anything, I had no intent on shooting or harming anyone with this cannonball. If a random steeple explodes elsewhere in the city with no site of a cannonball that did it, their attentions would be diverted. While I could use an artifact to ensure our aim is true, it will take a lifeline away that could be utilized later.
"We could try that again. With how things are lately, I say avoid using any lifelines- maybe I could take the shot?"
"It is your choice.
At first I try to resist his pull toward the edge. As I spot the ship, however, I do the only logical thing I can think of. I run at Silver. Slipping out my good luck charm I pray to whatever god is listening that this works out.
"Silver!" I shout, barreling toward her. Spreading my arms wide, I wrap them around her and slip the charm into the front of her armor, trying to take us both off the edge. "Ship! Glide!"
shoved forward as Norv climbs onto my back, i focus on breaking free of Malverlain's control, unfurling my wings to try and carry us off the tower!
[1d10] Resist (use GLC if fails)
[1d10] gliding w/norvRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
"Alright. Here goes." the stallion says, moving to the cannon and taking aim…
>Cannon Shot (Lightning Element): [1d10+2]>Aimed at the steeple, like suggested.Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Aegis gives Rabi's shot a followup, unleashing a barrage of icy blasts on to the Felid at the Belltower
'1d10' homing magic, ice
'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
/ Roll #3 2 = 2
/ Roll #4 9 = 9
You conjure up 4 orbs. "If nothing else, it could cause a diversion," Gawain points out. "Perhaps it would buy them time to escape…">>747349
You take a closer look. Norv and Silver seem to be being dangled off the edge of the tower by some magic, while Aurora seems to have been rendered unconscious, slumped on the floor. Marisol seems to be under the effects of zero gravity, trapped inside the bell itself. Finally, a black stain on the floor seems to be Black Pudding, grievously weakened to the point of unconsciousness.
Seeing Rabi start to line up a shot, you guide him to aim true.>>747350
Violet nods. "I don't see what other options we have, short of ramming this guy with the ship itself…">>747351
"Aha! Very clever, Madame," says Gawain. "This should be interesting…">>747354>>747355
Norv throws himself at Silver all of a sudden. Both of you fly over the edge."What?!"
Silver manages to shake off the magical weight dragging her down, spreading her wings and gliding over the enthralled town of Larkstead with Norv in tow. Looking back, you see Malverlain scowling in confusion and anger as he notices the ship having approached. Your companions on the tower start to come to, trying to make an escape with Black Pudding.>>747357
You fire at him. He brushes your shots aside, save for one that grazes his cheek.>>747356
Hermodur helps you aim the shot. You charge up with electricity, line up the cannon and open fire…>>747356>>747353>>747349>>747348
All of a sudden, you see Norv and Silver throw themselves over the edge. The latter catches him in midair and spreads her wings, gliding close to the ship. The warlock turns around, noticing your ship. He takes a hit from Aegis, then, a cannonball straight to the chest. He is sent flying, smashing into the side of the bell tower with a sky-cracking BOOOOM. A cloud of dust and debris flies up from the impact zone.
A little while later, you see Aurora, Marisol and what looks like Black Pudding emerge from the bottom of the tower, wounded but all in one piece. Aurora starts flying up, motioning for you to land so they can climb aboard.
Hermodur lets out a raucous laughter as the cannon ball hits its target fantastically. He slaps Rabi on the back roughly.
"Impeccable shot!" he shouts through his own laughter.
I yell as we glide toward the ship, letting go of Silver and dropping to the deck as we land. Dragging myself to my feet, I cackle, rush to the guardrail, and yell, "How's that for a clown you self-righteous bastard?!"
''Perfectly executed, Master Rabi'' Aegis says as she heads towards the ropes to help protect the ones who will be climbing up on board
With norv dropping to land on the deck, i land jerkily nearby, slumping over from exhaustion.
"Excellent.. timing.." i gasp out in between breaths>>747361>>747360>>747359
"We need to go.. Grab the others and get away from here. I'm not even sure if that could stop him."
"Are you all safe?
" Zunden says telepathically, walking up the stairs with her staff clunking against the wood until she can make it to the top deck itself, "Zhere iz no reazon to linger for ze time being, unlezz it iz of grave importanze."
"We've made it aboard, but we must move quickly. This mage, Malverlain, he is the one that trapped the town, nearly compelled us to drop to our deaths with his magic!"
"I don't believe that cannonball killed him, not with his power. We must gather the others and flee while we can!"
"What happened?" Hermodur asks in urgent confusion.
"Malverlain, the one you fired into, he is the false oniromancer that took over the town." she begins, finally catching her breath.
"His magic held us in place, deflected Norvy's attack. He had almost killed Black Pudding! We were moments away from our deaths before you arrived!"
Rabi lets out a somewhat-excited whinny as the cannonball lands, moving from the cannon to his greatbow and drawing the string back.>>747359>>747361
"Thanks! Let's just get everyone on board and get out of here."
"Hmm. This could actually end well for us," Hermodur contemplates out loud.
"'End well'? Whatever do you mean?"
"We likely only escaped because of the ship's surprise attack, and even then i fear it might not have been enough!"
"And now, Black Pudding will be on our side because of it."
Gawain cheers, pumping his fist enthusiastically. "Huzzah! Capital work, everyone! We dispatched that villain with great dispatch!"
"That sounded like a good shot," Dawn agrees. "We should move with haste. Silver's right, I doubt that was enough to end him."
"Is anyone hurt?" Violet asks, looking over Silver and Norv. "Are you alright? What happened up there?"
Etrigan focuses on bringing the ship down to ground level for now, lowering the ladder for the other three.
The ship comes down to ground level, and Marisol and Aurora quickly clamber up to join you. Marisol seems to have hit her head, having blood running down the side, while Aurora looks dazed, and only half conscious. Behind them, Black Pudding sluggishly oozes up the ladder, but it seems he's too weak to move quickly. He's taking time to crawl up. Violet pales at the sight of him, shrinking away slightly and clamming up.
"We need to move. Now," Marisol urges. She looks uncharacteristically spooked.
Hermodur starts hauling up the ladder/rope while Black Pudding climbs up it to get him to safety faster, but not too fast/rough to jostle him off.
[1d10] for rope haulingRoll #1 7 = 7
Aegis gave BP a little help with climbing with a weak telekinetic grip
''Where is your assistant'' She asks unenthusiastically
Zunden works the ship to have a servitor scoop up Pudding, letting Etrigan focus on piloting out.
Recovered, I eye the hole in the tower with concern as the others are brought aboard.
"We found the false Oniromancer, the one that destroyed the town. His power is.. overwhelming. It was as if he controlled gravity itself.. Holding us down, deflecting attacks, dragging us across the tower's floor. If you hadn't arrived in time, it was likely Malverlain would have killed us all!"
"Once Black Pudding is aboard, we must make for safer skies, while we have the chance."
"Right- I saw a little bit of what happened, and we need to be out of here."
Pudding slowly oozes aboard, having seemingly not registered Aegis' question. He looks over to Zunden, extending his foreleg. "Reader… Lend us thy strength and honor thy pact…"
Before he can explain, you see a chunk of debris fly out from the impact zone, heralding the return of Malverlain. He walks out on thin air, emerging from the rubble. He looks beaten up, wounded even, but unharmed. His robe is tattered from You can see now that the grey, skeletal Felid actually has no arms to speak of. Like they've been ripped from his sockets. He cracks his neck and stares down your ship from afar."Not too shabby."
His voice seems to ring out all over town, coming from all around you. "Quite clever, really. Let's do this then, yeah?"
Several boulder-sized chunks of debris fly out from behind him, soaring up into the sky before arcing down to rain on you and your ship!
Aegis acted quickly and conjured a huge icicle, firing it towards one of the boulders in an attempt to pierce and shatter it
'2d10' magic bolt, iceRoll #1 1, 8 = 9
Hermodur doesn't even wait for Malverlain to finish talking before he fires another cannonball at him.
[1d10] to fire cannon!Roll #1 8 = 8
Panicked, i gallop downstairs to ready one of the cannons to fire, rolling the cannonball up and into the chamber.
"Ah, i knew it! I should have prepared another round while we had the chance.."Roll #1 5 = 5
Zunden nods, an orb bearing the rune of Return supernovaing behind her head as she tries to temporarily reverse the rocks as she did the tree, knowing that it won't be enough power to return them to place but enough to at least get the ship out of the way of their current trajectory.
>Spending Return orb (8) on shrapnel
With a temporary measure in place, Zunden moves to Black Pudding and removes the glove covering her runed hand yet again, making to carve the same symbol of Union on her palm to allow some blood to flow.
"I honor my pact, Black Pudding, you have my life blood and ztrengzh. Zhrough our Union let my debt be repayed and our agreement zanctified."
[1d10+1] Invoking Union for good measure to share life with Pudding.Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3
Rabi whirls around and aims his greatbow at the boulders, trying to take out as many of them with a magic-laden arrow as he can.
>Dragonslayer Yumi (Cleave 2, Split): [1d10+2]Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
I follow Silver down and, after she loads it, line up a shot as best I can with the giant gun.
[1d10]Fire at himRoll #1 5 = 5
The icicle manifests, then shatters in your face, momentarily disorienting you. >-1 to next roll>>747379
This time, he's ready for it. He faces down the cannonball fearlessly, and it seems to ding off him, and falls to the ground below and… bounces? It's like it weighs nothing.>>747380
You load another cannon. You see Hermodur fire at him, but it has little effect this time.>>747381
Some of the rubble starts going backwards, as if being played in reverse, but it's not quite enough to prevent the ship from getting bombarded.
Black Pudding wraps his appendage around your hand, draining the blood from the open wound. Apart from the pain of carving into yourself, you feel strength starting to leave you. You feel faint, like part of you is being taken away.>-1 wound, permanently
"Reader. Thy bond is honored." His voice sounds stronger now as he takes some of your life force. Color starts to return to his aqueous form, along with a tinge of red. He lets go of your hand, beginning to recover. "Our strength returns. Buy us time, Reader, that we may smite this unruly wretch once and for all.">>747382
Your arrow multiplies twice over, shattering some of the rubble into more manageable pieces.>>747384
You try to load up a shot with one of the cannons, but fail to lift the heavy iron cannonball.>>747384>>747383>>747382>>747378>>747380>>747379
Rabi and Zunden manage to mitigate some of the damage to the ship, but it's not enough to prevent it entirely. Etrigan lurches it out of the way, but a boulder smashes into the ship's prow, reducing it to splinters. A second one hits the mast, breaking it in two. "Impressive! Finally, a real challenge!"
His gaze turns to the ship itself, and you feel it lurch suddenly as he tries to manipulate it, starting to turn it upside down. The ship rocks and groans under the assault, threatening to throw you all off balance. You hear things inside the ship rattling around and breaking.>roll to keep your footing, instant action
Etrigan's manifestation wavers unsteadily as he struggles against Malverlain's grip. Aurora joins him, trying to use her novice attunement with the ship to break free of his manipulation.
You see Black Pudding starting to rise, color returning to his form. Zunden's offering seems to have given him newfound strength, but it will take him time to recover.
Dawn stands by nervously. "Should… should we abandon ship? It might be easier to avoid his wrath if we're not on it…"
"We need something to break his concentration!" Violet urges, scrambling to the edge of the deck to cling on. Marisol starts clambering up the mast to get to higher ground.
Aegis hisses and closes her eyes, struggling to maintain her focus as the ship rocks back and forth. With both mind and body occupied, she kept pushing on, trying to achieve enough serenity to cast her spells
'1d10-2' homing magic, ice
'1d10-2' keep balanceRoll #1 6 - 2 = 4
/ Roll #2 5 - 2 = 3
>>747385>Hold on! [1d10]>>747385
Rabi tries to keep himself balanced, before calling out "Let me see if I can distract him- I have something that might work!" He readies his rifle and fires a wispy, blue-silver, ethereal 'bullet' at Malverlain.>Astral Strike: [1d10+2]>Frozen Light for +1Roll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10
Gripping the cannon for dear life as the ship violently turns, i try to draw the cannon into a good enough angle to split his attention.
[1d10] keep footing
[1d10] cannonshotRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
"If it's his concentration we need to break, it may be time to use that ship in a bottle," Hermodur suggests to Zunden.
He then turns to Malverlain. "But, if it's a challenge he wants…" He holds Mjolnir aloft above him as its engine roars to life. "I'll give him one!" he shouts.
>Sentry, Sharpen>Hunter's Eye on Malverlain
Zunden kneels as the ship sways and her body is sapped of energy. [1d10] footing
She holds up her ring, trying to do just what Violet says and throw off the phoneyromancer with a bright flash of light.
[1d10] FlashRoll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
Something- something to break his concentration! "Line up a shot!" I yell. "I might have something, but I haven't gotten to test it yet! Hold on until I get back!" I start toward my room, dig out the Shatterhorn, and rush back up to the top deck. I stumble as the ship lurches, trying to keep my balance.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Your concentration is broken as you lurch to the side, getting thrown to the deck. You hit your head pretty hard.>Aegis takes 3 hits>>747387
You slip and fall, quickly picking yourself back up.>Rabi takes 1 hit>>747388
You fire the cannon, but the ship's movement makes it roll to the side, firing on nothing. You slip as the ship jolts, hitting the cannon wings first.>Silver takes 4 hits>>747389>>747392
You manage to steady yourself, powering up Mjolnir and digging it into the deck floor for stability. You stand steady despite everything, for now.>>747390
You lurch unsteadily, stumbling slightly, knocking into the broken mast. Your scales protect you from taking damage.>>747391
You scramble to your room. It's a mess below deck, as everything's been thrown around by the attack. The kitchen especially has been hit hard; most of the plates are broken, and the food is ruined. Everything is strewn about your room, including muffled yells of protest and help from Purdue somewhere. As the ship jolts, you try to steady yourself, but end up faceplanting instead.>Norv takes 3 hits
You find the Shatterhorn under a pile of clothes.>>747392>>747391>>747390>>747387>>747388>>747386
The ship is suddenly released as Malverlain's guard is momentarily broken by the flash of light from Zunden. A followup shot from Rabi knocks him out for a few moments while his guard is down. It probably won't keep him under for long, though.
Black Pudding begins to regain his usual shape, eyes opening, burning with indignant anger. He mutters quietly in a language you don't recognize.
Dawn gets up from the floor and seizes the opportunity, thinking fast. "Should I open a Door so we have an escape route?" she suggests.
Marisol doesn't speak, reaching into her coat and pulling out her trusty flintlock, lining up a shot on him.
Aurora and Etrigan start moving the ship upward, trying to put some distance between yourselves and Malverlain.
Gawain looks around before helping up Violet, who seems to have taken a blow from falling over. "Easy, we're not out of this yet!"
"He's out of it for a little! I won't be able to keep him like this for long, though- let's get outta here!">Automatic Action: Maintain Astral Strike
Aegis stumbles back to her feet, standing next to Dawn ''I was just about to ask you for that Master Dawn'' She says, rubbing her head ''We will need a window to escape from in case this goes south, but I wont allow it to be easy for him''
She raises her head, and gathers up some magical shots
'1d10' homing magic, iceRoll #1 9 = 9
'1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
Slamming into the cannon, i yelp in pain at what is likely a bruised wing. Gritting my teeth, i search around for another cannonball amidst the ship's scattered armaments, struggling to load the ball.
[1d10] ReloadRoll #1 10 = 10
"If you don't have a way to hit him, it'd probably be the best use of your time," Hermodur says to Dawn as he lowers his hammer like a golf club.
He lines up a shot and swings it, launching a ball of energy at malverlain.
>[1d10+3] [1d10+3]>ranged attack, DC-1, take the higher rollRoll #1 7 + 3 = 10
/ Roll #2 5 + 3 = 8
I grit my teeth and shake my head, grabbing the shatterhorn and rushing back up to the deck. "Dawn!" I shout. "Can you open up a small door next to his head? Or near him at least? This is gonna be loud!"
Zunden stays low, preparing to help with moving the ship.
As you say that, you start feeling a pounding sensation in your head, which quickly escalates into mental agony. It's like someone's invaded your brain and driven a spear through it."You're not the only one full of surprises, you know. Thanks for the link, though. Let's see what we can find in here…">Rabi takes 1 wound
It seems that as long as he's in the astral plane, he'll have full access to rifle through your thoughts and memories like an open book.>roll to keep him under if desired>>747396
You conjure eight icicles, which float behind you in an octagon formation.>>747398
You load the cannonball and get ready to fire.>+1 to the firing roll >>747399
Your energy orb slams him right in the kisser, leaving a smoldering impact on his face. He seems to still be under, for now.>>747400
She nods. "I can try. …What are you planning?…">>747402>>747400>>747399>>747398>>747397>>747395
Dawn's horn starts glowing silver, and she begins to strain from the effort of opening Doors. Two open up: the first is in front of the ship and leads to the edge of town, big enough for the ship to pass through. The second is smaller, and goes right up to Malverlain. While he appears unconscious at first, as it opens, you see one of his sallow yellow eyes shoot open, looking through at you all. "Be quick," Dawn urges, her voice strained. "I can't hold it for very long…"
Rabi grips his head and slumps over, before letting out a pained huff. "H-He's digging into my head! I can keep him under, b-but it's gonna mess me up if I keep it up for too long."
Zunden holds off on helping with maneuvering the ship, looking to Rabi with concern,>>747406
"Cut your tiez, our planz our not worzh revealing for an act of herorizm.">>747404
Zunden heals herself and her friends.
>Healing Bonds: Zunden, Rabi, Silver
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Hermodur does another ranged attack through the door.
>[1d10+3] [1d10+3]>ranged attack, DC-1, take the higher rollRoll #1 4 + 3 = 7
/ Roll #2 8 + 3 = 11
With the cannonball packed and ready, i aim through the now opened gate and fire!
[1d10+1] firingRoll #1 6 + 1 = 7
>>747404"Cover your ears!"
I poke the horn through and squeeze.
Taking advantage of the brief distraction caused by Dawn's portals, Aegis breathes out softly as she releases the orbs of crystal ice, causing a show of pale blue light to fly towards Malverlain, distracting from the extra icicle Aegis fired straight at the Felid
'2d10' Magic bolt, ice
>Homing magic, ice
'1d10'Roll #1 9, 7 = 16
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
/ Roll #3 1 = 1
/ Roll #4 8 = 8
/ Roll #5 2 = 2
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
/ Roll #3 7 = 7
/ Roll #4 6 = 6
Hearing the shout from Norv, i take cover and shield my ears!
[1d10] sound blockRoll #1 10 = 10
Malverlain recovers as Rabi breaks off the connection. He sees Silver lining up a cannon shot and focuses his power on it, deflecting the ball, but he seems to only be able to hold one thing at a time. Hermodur's orb blows him into next week, sending him hurtling through the air, while Aegis unleashes her barrage of icy missiles to juggle him in midair before he falls all the way to the ground. As he gets back up, mostly unharmed, he flashes you all a cocky grin and opens his mouth to say something. It quickly fades when Norv reaches through and uses the Shatterhorn.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSdSuWoNVwo
The peal of the tiny device crashes throughout the town, emitting a near gale-force shockwave that ruffles you all the way from over there. It rolls up into the top of the bell tower, the shockwave tilting the bell itself and causing it to lend its clanging voice to the din. The sound rolls throughout the surrounding barren lands, echoing for at least half a mile around. And caught at its epicenter is Malverlain. So thunderous is its sound that it shreds his robe even further, leaving him trembling on his hands and knees, bleeding from his ears. It doesn't look like he poses much of a threat anymore.
Aegis looks down in silence at the pathetic form of the defeated Malverlain, then back to Norv ''That was very impressive Master Norvegicus. It seems that neither magical or physical attacks had effect on him, but you completely shut him down by attacking his senses. I am once again impressed by your show of brillance'' She says without a hint of excitement
''Now what shall we do about him?''
I pull my arm back through and, careful not to drop the shatterhorn, cover my ears as the sound continues to resonate for way longer and way louder than I'd expected. I squeeze my eyes shut and wait until the noise finally fades. My heard thuds against the inside of my chest as I finally open my eyes and look out at the damage. "Holy…" I blink. Why does it seem like every time I get into a situation like this I should he thanking Discord?
My face hardens as I see the felid on his hands and knees. >>747416
"I… thanks?" I can never tell when this mare is being sarcastic or not. "We have to deal with him somehow. There's no way he won't hurt someone else if we let him." I look over my shoulder at Black Pudding to see if he's still working on whatever spell he was trying to cast.
Zunden rests from her position, back against the side of the ship and visibly paler. "Ze me and ze ozherz learned our lezzon wizh letting ze drake live, we cannot afford zhem ze merzy we onze gave to Lyzander."
Covering my ears from the blast, i look up from my position on the deck to deafening silence, the fight seemingly over. peeking my head through the firing port to spot the bleeding and battered Malverlain, i sigh in relief, trotting back up to the top deck.>>747411
"Goodness, what a fight that was! Excellent work, Norvy!">>747416
"Hmm.. There was mention of a bounty on his head back in Braildorn. Perhaps we could send somepony less conspicuous to turn it in?"
"Want me to finish him?" Hermodur asks, lining up another shot.>>747419
"This guy? Are you sure you're not thinking of the Oneiromancer?"
I rub the back of my neck and blush a little. "Thanks. Needed a distraction. Just sorta happened to have something that fit the bill. Guess it did a little more than just distract him, though."
Rabi rubs his head and groans a little bit, before looking to the result of the party's work. He lets out a relieved sigh, before flopping on to his haunches. "We got him, yeah? Is everyone alright? Dawn, you alright?"
Black Pudding rises, bubbling up to double his usual size. He seems to crackle with energy, white and purple streaks of lightning coursing through his pearlescent form, his eyes glowing like lanterns. He produces a jar from within him; within is a familiar black spidery creature. The same demon that once tried to drain Aegis of her very existence.Leave Malverlain to us.
With that, he surges forward and down the ruined prow of the ship, leaving a trial of sparks in his wake. "…Do I want to know?" Violet asks with a bit of apprehension. Aurora shakes her head with a grim expression.>>747422
Dawn slumps back, closing the Doors with a bit of a sigh. She's getting the usual nosebleed that accompanies the exertion of doing so. She wipes it and smiles slightly. "I think so. Thank you. It's still taking its toll on me. I need to regain my old strength…">>747419
"Oh, excellent idea!" Gawain crows. "I volunteer, as I'm the only one of you who has no hostile connections in there. Th-"
"I don't think it's a good idea to go there regardless," Marisol warns. "There's been all sorts of violence happening there lately from what I've heard. Riots, infighting between different factions… It's dangerous. I don't think it's worth the risk."
"We did lose supplies," Violet points out. "We'll need the money, right?">>747419>>747417>>747416>>747418>>747420>>747422
Dawn chimes in. "As long as you keep your head down," she says to Gawain, it shouldn't be too hard. Right?"
"Of course! I am nothing if not subtle."
Marisol arches an eyebrow. "Well, I suppose I can't stop you if you do go. Just, do be careful. For everyone's sake."
Violet looks at the rest of you. "What do you think?"
"Dawn mentioned He was the 'Oneiromancer' the city was looking for, a fake to rally the city against. Perhaps he was the one the original bounty was alluding to?"
"That makes sense. Though, that would also make actually collecting the bounty tricky.">>747423
"Well, I'm certainly going to watch whatever Black Pudding has planned," Hermodur chuckles.
He watches the spectacle from the ship.
"Hmm.. Given the state the ship is in, we would
benefit greatly from the bounty money."
"..If there is anything left of him after Black Pudding is done, that is.." i trail off, watching the ooze practically fly off the deck towards the mage.
"Az much az I have gone on record to hate ztoping at locationz, ezpecially zhiz one in particular, we will need ztock up wizh many zuppliez if we're to make it zhiz final ztretch wizhout any more ztopz. Zhree zhouzand bitz worzh of zuppliez would help… Zhat being zaid,"
She looks to Black Pudding, "We cannot claim a bounty on zomeone who iz about to zeaze to exizt az we know it."
Rabi watches Black Pudding swooce
slide off the deck and descend towards the false Oneiromancer, deciding to leave him to it for now. He hops back up on to all fours after a moment, and trots over to Dawn to help her up if she wants to rise. If she doesn't, he just waits by her patiently. "Don't push yourself, yeah?"
''More money wouldnt hurt us. I could go down there and retrieve the bounty''>>747423
''I insist in coming along'' Aegis says simply
I watch Black Pudding make his way to take care of the fake Oneiromancer before turning away. "Well, that takes care of that, I guess." I look up at Gawain again. "So you think you'll be able to get in and out alright, then? Braildorn is supposed to be pretty rough now. If you think it won't be a problem I say go for it."
"O-oh! I don't think that's a good idea, my lady. You'd be walking straight into the lion's den. Lysander's agents know you, not me.">>747430
"Perhaps. It shouldn't take more than a day. While I'm gone, you could speak to this sorcerer, and figure out the next plan of action.>>747429>>747426>>747425>>747427>>747428>>747430
Aurora casts her vote in. "I don't think it's worth the risk. We have money already, after all."
Black Pudding seems to have overheard your conversation, looking back at you with a slight nod, and puts away the captive Squatterbloat for now.
You see him tower over the helpless warlock, looking at him with abject disgust for a moment. Then, he extends his hoof out, normally at first, then farther and farther, extending to unnatural length towards his face. His foreleg splits into several appendages, beginning to squirm into the Felid's orifices; nose, mouth, ears, even through his eyes. Violet looks like she's going to throw up, while Gawain covers his mouth, and Aurora looks away with horror.
Malverlain struggles and kicks helplessly against the black mass, then you hear a sick crunch
, and his body falls to the ground. Pudding bends over, takes something from his robe, then makes his way back over to you as if nothing had happened.
"Ah, an excellent idea. You and gawain should be safe in braildorn working together, i'm sure."
I wince a little at the sound of I don't even know what but don't feel much beyond a little discomfort. Am I used to this kind of thing already? I feel like I should be more bothered by what BP just did, but… I force that train of thought away as Pudding rejoins the party. "Seems like we got a lotta catchin up to do, huh? You alright? Didn't seem like you were doin so hot up in the belltower."
Hermodur waits for Black Pudding to return to them.
Rabi winces a little and looks away, trying to ignore it to the best of his ability. >>747617>>747431
"I did see a… part of him in the belltower, I think. Didn't look good."
Zunden watches at first, but has to turn away as Malverlain starts to struggle. She looks to Pudding, speaking softly, "Do you know if zhey had any conneczion to ze name ze drake gave him?"
''We have some money now, but it wont be with us forever, Aurora. Its better to have too much than too little'' Aegis says calmly to the bat mare before turning to Gawain ''I'll cover myself and obscure my face so they wont recognize me then. I'm coming along to ensure your safety, Sir Gawain''
"My safety?" He looks confused, and maybe a bit offended. "I am a knight of Andraxis! I don't see why I couldn't handle venturing into a city on my own. I appreciate your concern, miss Aegis, but I'll be perfectly able to carry this out on my own.">>747617>>747618>>747432>>747619>>747620>>747621
Black Pudding rejoins you on board the ship, scowling as usual, still crackling with energy. It subsides as he regards you all, his expression softening almost imperceptibly. He bows his head in gratitude.
"Were it not for thine arrival, we would have surely perished. That wretch held me prisoner for untold weeks. We suffered… indignities." His lip curls slightly at the memory.
"Thou must be brimming with questions regarding all this. We shall answer what we can, then, shamefully, we have another favor to ask of thee.">>747617
"We shall survive. In no small part thanks to the Reader." He nods towards Zunden. "Thy concern is noted.">>747620
"Lysander dubbed him the Oneiromancer, for that is what he became. The people of this town are trapped in a reverie of his making, puppets to his will. With his death, they will begin to awaken, and, with time, undo his stain."
He produces what he took from Malverlain's corpse: a black crystal pendant in the shape of an orb. It resembles the void the Oneiromancer seems to carry in his manifestations, though it seems hewn of the same stone as what powers a Prowler. "The source of his fell strength," says Black Pudding. "And proof of his demise."
"You, uh- you don't gotta talk about it if you don't want to, Pudding. Wouldn't blame you, with what little I got to experience while he was rooting around in my head." he says, before cocking his head to the side. "Favor? What?"
''I too thought I would do fine on my own in the Echoes, but I would likely be dead on my first day if I hadnt met the other drifters. The Echoes and even its cities are dangerous, Sir Gawain, and if you have to learn this personally, I would like to at least be there to help. Whats more is that even if we are discovered, it will be another place where Lysander will have to waste time checking for the Egg''
Aegis also briefly turns to BP ''Where is your apprentice, Master Black Pudding?''
"It's fortunate that you have a favor for us," Hermodur comments. "We've come to you for a deal. So, I'm sure we can work something out with this."
"Ah, zhat explainz ze pulzing I felt in a mark left on my zcalez by ze charm you gave me on our firzt or zecond meeting. Ze cryztalz dropped by Prowlerz muzt be attuned in zome way, or at ze leazt ze tainted magic zhat can be left behind by zheir uze."
Zunden bows her head subtly, "I am glad our Union waz able to reztore your healzh, your runecraft zimilarly made for our worriez to be lezzened at leazt for a few dayz from when we parted lazt."
"Wasn't a councidence we ran into you, honestly. We were actually looking for you. We, uh…" I rub the back of my neck. "We kinda got something we need to talk about."
"You really are insistent on accompanying me, aren't you?" he comments with amusement. "Why, if I didn't know better, I'd say you have feelings for me! Hahahaha! I'd welcome the company, really. Traveling on your own does get rather dull."
"Carnifex escaped," he replies. "With what we could salvage from our Sanctuary. Doubtless she has made it safely to Braildorn.">>747626
"Our runes faltered, then. We should not be surprised. Our battle against Malverlain must have caused unforeseen repercussions. Had we prevailed, the spell would have held.">>747624>>747625>>747623>>747626>>747627
He arches an eyebrow at the mention of wanting something from him. Before asking what it is, he explains his situation.
"That interloping cur Malverlain has destroyed our Sanctuary," he explains. "Dashed to pieces in a ravine somewhere. Carnifex salvaged aught of use. But now we are left stranded with little recourse. We know not of thy plans, but we would ask of thy company to allow us to journey with thee. At least for a time. In exchange, we would undertake what thou wouldst ask of us. What seekest thee?"
I clech my jaw a little, but decide to just come right out and say it. "It's about the Beldam," I say. "I want to help her, and I think she would be a valuble ally. Or if not ally at least someone we can set up a mutually benefitcal relationship with. I'm not sure how much sense exactly it makes, and that's why I wanted to talk to you first, but I think we can convince her to guard the egg." I glance over my shoulder and shift. Maybe I should have waited before talking about that so openly.
Rabi glances to Zunden and the others, humming a bit in thought- "Well, we did mean to meet up with you, but I'm not sure if we want to ta-" he stops abruptly, and whinnies a tad.
''Its a good thing you know better. I do not want any misunderstandings'' Aegis responds, unamused by Gawain's quip ''We leave when you are ready then. I'll just go get something first''>>747629
''Master Norvegicus. I need the Mournwing Cloak''
"I ztill do not entruzt zhem az an ally zhough, who iz to zay zhey would not zide wizh ze Oneiromanzer in exchange for zheir peaze or zheir land being protected. We cannot make zuzh offerz.">>747628
"Zhey have taken ze phyzical body of one our alliez, which iz a dark omen for what power zhey may have gained from it. Nonezhelezz, you are more zhan welcome here, and I will make zure a room iz cleared for you onze we finizh repairz from ze damage ze falze dream weaver cauzed."
"The Beldam…" His expression darkens, and he rumbles softly.
"She is dead. We slew her in hopes to claim her strength, and dominion over the land, but… it was not to be. With her dying breath, the wisp denied me her power. It is lost forever. And the fen with it." He looks bitter, regretful even. Dawn visibly pales, and Marisol takes a step back with a frown, covering her mouth in thought. Aurora tilts her head slightly.
"If it is hiding the Egg thou seekest," he continues, "heed our words: thine efforts will never last. A more permanent solution will be required to do away with this artifact."
"Did you have something in mind?"
''I considered the option of sealing it away in a pocket dimension, but I do not know the means to achieve that'' Aegis speaks up, unphazed by the news of Beldam's death''
"Let uz zpeak over a meal, you have had zome ztrenzh returned by our Union, but ze comfortz of communion zhould help zome." Zunden says, gesturing into the ship, "We can zpeak on what you mean by a permament zolution zhen."
"Is there a way to do away with it, even? I don't even know if that's possible." he says, before looking to Zunden and nodding. "Right. Let's get a move-on, though."
"Dead? oh dear. so it seems we return to where we began, still on the hunt for solutions.">>747637
"Excellent point, zunden. I'm sure we could use the time to eat and resettle the lower decks. I've heard quite the ruckus during the fight, and i do hope my glassware survived.."
"Oh! whilst we were searching for black pudding, we came across one of those runes he made during the struggle."
I unfold the drawn rune from earlier, holding it out for examination.
"I've not the slightest idea what it's intended use is, but perhaps you could replicate the design to test?"
[1d10] design accuracyRoll #1 3 = 3
Zunden chuckles a little, "I would azzume our guezt would know it'z meaning."
"..ah, yes." she trails off, quickly folding the paper back up in embarrassment
"I had sketched it in haste, but I suppose It would
be easier to simply ask him. Just wanted to make sure you were aware, I know you've an interest in rune magic after all."
He shakes his head. "Only one with the power to twist reality itself could hope to do away with such a thing. It is not a power any of us here possess.">>747640>>747637
He looks a bit derisive of Silver's attempt, correcting her drawing with a piece of chalk he produces. It looks like an arrowhead, or an inverted V, with tapered ends. "Guidance," he says simply. "We inscribed them to know the way back. As allies, thou couldst follow the same path.">>747635>>747636>>747637>>747638>>747640
He nods to Zunden. "A sound plan." "I'll put the kettle on!" Gawain says eagerly, rushing off to the kitchen.
Violet immediately makes herself scarce, while Etrigan and Aurora excuse themselves, beginning to clean up the mess made in the lower deck. Only Dawn and Marisol remain; as does Ganzen, who rears his head out from a corner as you enter. The interior isn't as bad as it sounded; some of the chairs are broken, and the table is a mess, but you get it sorted easily enough. A Servitor brings out some biscuits, tea and coffee for you all. Pudding thanks it quietly, pouring himself some tea with milk and sugar.
Rabi settles in at the table after helping clean up around the lower deck, giving Violet an apologetic nod as she makes herself scarce.
"Alright, so… where were we starting?" he asks, taking a sip of the coffee.
''Then'' Aegis starts once everyone is at the table ''If we cannot destroy it, and we cannot hide it forever, what can we do? Spending our entire lives running away with it is not an option either''
"I would azzume figure out at leazt a way to hide it away long enough for it to become ze fate of anozher group to protect it zome day. If we can poztpone it'z dizcovery but even ten yearz, it givez time to make preparations. " Zunden pats on her lap to summon Ganzen, seemingly not minding the now rather large pet's presence on her lap.
"It's not a power any of us possess… yet. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right," Hermodur responds before going below decks to enjoy some tea with the others.
"Ah, a path which eventually led us to the tower. Quite the useful Rune, I'd say!"
After making my way down to the lower deck, i check my lab to make sure the glass vials and jars are intact, before making my way to the table for tea, resigning myself to cleaning mine and rabi's room later.
Your lab is pretty beaten up; there's broken glass all over the floor. However, it's not a complete loss. Only some empty ones were lost, and there's still plenty of intact ones to spare. You'll still be able to use it.>>747647>>747645>>747644>>747646>>747648
He rumbles. "We know not," he admits. "Truly powerful beings are few and far between in these lands. Demons, perhaps, could do away with it, but not without considerable sacrifice…" There's a bit of an uncomfortable silence as you ponder your situation.
Aurora speaks up. "…What about Discord?" she suggests quietly. Dawn almost chokes on her coffee at the notion of working with him.
"The Draconequus?" Black Pudding looks bemused. "He is free? Is he not petrified somewhere in the Dominion still?"
Hermodur is practically petrified himself at this news. "IS he not!?" he asks with monumental concern.
I slip the cloak off, look down at it, and reluctantly hand it over.>>747633
Dead. After we agreed to help her. I clench my fist and glance down, trying to keep my voice calm and cool. "Right. It was probably a bad idea anyway.">>747643
And the only one I know with that power would be just as likely to destroy the egg for a laugh as he would be to protect it. But as things stand, with the power he was offering… "I guess we'll just have to keep playing it by ear, then."
''He traveled with us some time ago. Most likely is causing mayhem in some corner of the Echoes for fun, or searching for a way to escape it''
"He's free. Always seems to have a habit of not being all that far off, either. I've considered it, and I would be just as surprised if he didn't want to as I would if he did. Depends on if he'd have fun." Which, if I was in his position, would I be any different? Especially after being locked up for so long.
''I dont think even Discord would go that far to destroy reality for a laugh. With the absence of everything, there can be no chaos, and his existence is meaningless''
"Yez, zhey were trapped in ztone and waz wizhholding where ze Egg had been taken by ze zwarm of ze living zandz until freed. Wizhout ze zandz interfering wizh finding ze location of ze Egg, it waz ze only way to enzure it did not end up in ze drake'z handz."
"This isn't the only reality, though. Imagine how much chaos there would be if everything trapped here was let loose back in the dominion."
Hermodur says nothing, merely staring off into space with a shocked expression.
Scowling at the damage, i do what i can to sweep up and make my way to the table to sit down.>>747656
"Goodness, what a disaster that would be! Worse still, we'd be even further pressed to keep the egg intact, lest everything be erased at that stage."
"At that point I think he might actually protect it. Aegis is right about that much. You wouldn't destroy a toy you can't fix for a quick laugh."
"He's, uh, not. We bumped into him here, I believe. Parted ways a while ago. Do you think he could do something to the egg?"
''The Cuckoo will not stop in the Echoes. It will find its way to the Dominion and erase it as well'' She states
"For whatever it's worth," Aurora remarks, "he wasn't anywhere near as powerful as you'd think. Or if he was, he was doing a good job of hiding it. The fact that he's been free for so long and the world hasn't broken is most likely proof enough that he isn't looking to destroy the Echoes for a lark. At least, not yet.">>747658>>747657>>747656>>747655>>747654>>747660
"If my theories are correct," Dawn points out, "then the Echoes and the Dominion are inexorably linked in some way. Perhaps even physically."
"Aegis is right," says Aurora. "This entity exists across multiple perceptions of existence, doesn't it? I imagine Discord would have some insight into it. If he can't at least point us in the right direction to stopping the threat, I don't see what else could."
"These are all heavy presumptions," Pudding remarks. "Discord is legendarily impossible to trust. We would not bargain with him unless we had no other choice."
Gawain interrupts the conversation, bringing out a tray of scones, along with various flavors of jam. There is fresh fruit as well. He places the tray on the table for you all if you wish to pick at it before sitting down, eagerly rubbing his claws together and grinning at you all. "What are we talking about?"
"Preventing the end of the world as we know it," Pudding replies unamused.
"Oh. W-well, I'll do my best!"
"We canNOT trust Discord," Hermodur insists. "Even putting the thought in his mind is an extraordinarily bad idea. We shouldn't even talk to him AT ALL."
''Well the only two choices I can think of is Discord, or uncovering the Liber Animarum until we can find a demon powerful enough to deal with the egg. The cost will no doubt be extremely high, but at least demons are more trustworthy than Discord''
"Thanks, Gawain. We're all doing what we can." he says, before humming. "I… I think we can trust him on this, but I can't be sure. What other options do we have, you think?"
"Again, I only propoze prolonging ze time until it iz found, and azccept it will be refound and need to be hidden from time to time. We could zeek out a way to deal wizh it permamently when we are not actively holding it."
"Ah, excellent. Thank you, Sir Gawain."
using a knife to split a scone, i apply a layer of strawberry jam to the ends, before continuing, alternating between scone and tea sips.>>747664
"Well, there is
the option of simply sailing from this continent to greener pastures. Perhaps there is some place elsewhere we can hide it?"
she pauses to bite a scone, shielding her muzzle with a wing.
"It would at least have our trail lost, for a time."
I cock my eyebrow at Aurora. "You guys haven't heard from him since the Sands, have you? He's gathering his power. Definitely stronger now than he was when we first bumped into him." I rub the back of my neck and let out an awkward chuckle. "I, uh… I've kinda talked ho him a couple of times since?"
"Actually, on that note I really need to check on Purdue. He's been acting kinda weird."
"I agree with Zunden on this. We need to hide it first."
"Indeed. the matter is finding a place which gives us the time necessary to search unhindered."
"Although.. if were to craft a double of sorts, that could provide some measure of extending time while we search. So long as he believes
we have it, he wouldn't bother searching elsewhere, yes?"
''Yes I agree this is the best choice. It'll be much easier finding a way to hide the egg when we are not busy running away with it''>>747671
''So long as he doesnt somehow know how to tell the fake egg from the real… But I suspect the Oneiromancer would know, and he would whisper it upon Lysander's ear''
"Would he? Didn't Lysander backstab O-Man?"
''I wasnt aware of this. What happened'' Aegis's ears perk up slightly as she turns to Norv
"You've been talking to Discord?" Aurora asks Norv with a frown.
"None of these options are very appealing," Dawn comments. "But I think Zunden's right. We need to buy time before we commit to anything."
"A wise conclusion," Black Pudding concurs, taking another sip of tea. His complexion seems to change as it passes into him. "We should not be too hasty to commit to anything. It is our opinion that negotiating with Discord should not be utterly out of the question. Though, if we are to commit to this, we will have to be extremely careful not to grant this creature leverage. He lies as easily as he breathes." He looks to Hermodur. "Think not that your pleas fall on deaf ears, Herald. We would not strike a deal with Discord unless we truly had no other options."
"Who's Discord?" Gawain asks innocently between bites of scone. "No one friendly, I imagine."
''Then I suppose this means we are back to the original plan of hiding the egg'' Aegis gets up, with a scone on her mouth as she turns to leave ''Excuse me then, I have to tend to the chickens''
Hermodur grimaces slightly at being called 'Herald'. But, he says nothing of it.
He looks to Gawain. "He's a false-god of chaos," Hermodur explains to Gawain. "All of existence would have been better off if he remained petrified."
I stiffen up a little. "Well, talking to
is a little strong. I have spoken with him once or twice." I look over at the door below deck. "Really gotta go check on Purdue, though." I break off from the conversation and make my way below deck, headed back to my room.
I join black pudding in sipping some tea.
"Then it seems our plan hasn't changed, for the moment. Continue towards the isle of glass whilst we lay a trail for lysander to follow."
"Well, buy time it is- what's the best way to do that, you think? Just keep heading somewhere, like before?"
Zunden nods, "Our plan, barring deziczionz we plan to wizhhold until ze moment we need to dezide az to prevent our mindz being zcoured, iz to repeat zomezhing zimilar to ze runecraft you firzt applied to zhiz zhip and surround ze egg wizh enough wardingz to keep ze infernal embryo from being dizcovered for hopefully zome time. Fatez I juzt need zome time.
Dawn fills you in. "It seems Lysander and the Oneiromancer split ways at the Sands. The dragon wishes to claim the Egg to use as leverage to gain greater power, while the dreamwalker only seeks to use it to erase us. Gods know why Grosvenor wants it…">>747677
Pudding notices your reaction and frowns slightly. "Are you not the Herald of Ailuros Bastet? That is how you introduced yourself."
"Oh. Well, that's not good. I suppose we'll have to deal with that when we come to it.">>747676
"Oh, if you're still intent on going, I was planning on heading out in an hour!" says Gawain to Aegis. "Just let me know when you're ready. I'll be packing my things soon. Should only be gone for a day or so.">>747678
You head out from the dining table and to your room. It's a bit of a mess after that whole encounter. You hear Purdue's voice as you enter, muffled by being covered by a fallen bedsheet. "Oh! Is someone there? I say, hello? Hello? I'm, er… stuck.">>747680>>747681>>747679>>747678>>747677>>747676
Black Pudding nods. "It seems like a sound plan. A diversion should be enough to stay Lysander's ire. At least for a time. The Oneiromancer is the far greater threat. To him, eternity is but an eye's blink. He will procure it if thou seekest to obscure it from him. We have little choice but to find a way to stop his ceaseless pursuit."
"Until then." He finishes his tea. "Let us fly."
"Hey! Sorry, bud, I was in a hurry earlier. Had to grab something to deal with someone. Really should have brought you along, but you were sleeping." I squat down, pull the bedsheet off od him, and scoop him up. "How you feeling?"
"Lately I've felt… less than worthy of that title," Hermodur responds to Black Pudding.
''Yes I will see you then. I just need to ensure none of the chickens are dead or hurt''
>>747683"I've been lying here for 40 minutes."
You grab him and set him on the bedside table. There's a few chips in his chrome dome from being knocked around, but only superficial damage."Wonderful. Better than ever. Outside of being knocked around in an earthquake, or whatever it was. What's happening out there, anyway?"
"We fought the false Oneiromancer. He's dead now. Ship got rattled and banged up some during the fight. That's what caused-" I gesture around at the room. "Well, this." I start picking up while we talk, making sure nothing got damaged. In particular I check on my Clockwork Orange plants.
"Anyway, one of the things I got from R&G -the horn?- caused that huge shockwave." I theatrically rattle my head around some. "Ears are still ringin some. Fake O-Man had it worse, though." I laugh. "Got dawn to open up a little gate from me to him and honked that sucker right in his ear. He was talking real big, but after that he fell out of the air and Black Pudding took care of the rest."
>>747687"I heard that,"
he remarks as you tidy. "Thought the world was coming to an end. Frightened me out of my skull, it did."
The Oranges are blooming already, starting to take up a good corner of the room. You have several kilograms worth of scrap metal already. Purdue watches you tidy the room. "I'd help out, but, you know. Nyehe."
His gaze turns to the window. "Say. You remember that astronomical event I read about back at Sprig's? I think it might be coming up soon. Not sure when or where exactly, but I feel like something big is going to happen real soon. Don't you?"
"Hah, you're fine. Honestly I've been thinking of ways to get you a body. At least something that lets you move around. Not that I mind carrying you with me, but I can't imagine dangling from my waist is all that fun." I smile as I look the oranges over. Damn. These things grow fast. At this rate I'll actually be able to play around with them before the end of the week.
My smile falls a little as I look up at Purdue. "Yeah," I say. "I know what you mean. I might ask Black Pudding if he knows anything about it. I think there might have been something related about the sword one of us found, but I don't remember who or what about." I sigh. "I just hope it's not something bad. We're dealing with enough as it is. I just want some dang time to breathe."
He seems confused. "If you can, I'd like to stargaze tonight,"
he adds. "For a change. I haven't left this room in a while. I feel like I need a fresh of breath air."
"Oh. Yeah. Definitely." I frown. "I guess my head has been other places recently. Haven't been helping you out as much. I'm sorry for that, brother." I knit my brow and study him for a moment. "But seriously. Are you feeling alright? You've been sleeping a lot. Getting a little worried."
>>747691"Oh, it's fine. Don't worry about me. I'll survive."
He pauses at your question. "I've… just been feeling more tired, recently. Kind of stretched, really. And… my memory isn't what it used to be. It's like I'm… slipping away… But I'm sure it's nothing! Just a passing phase! I just need to stay more active! Or as active as I can be, I guess. I'll be right as rain in no time."
"If it gets much worse I'm going to try to ask Discord about it. Not that I can expect a straight answer, but I'm scared the magic holding you to the skull is getting weaker. Like one day you'll just stop responding and never start again." I fall silent for a long moment, letting that thought really sink in. Against all odds Purdue is probably the best friend I have here, and he's technically already dead and barely being held here by a thread. Maybe there are others besides Discord I can ask about it, but there's no way I can figure it out on my own.
"Anyway." I pull out the spyglass and start fiddling around with it to see if I can find a new mode. "I'm going to build myself a rifle. I've noticed I can't do anything long ranged. Short range I have my sprayer. Mid-range I have my dart gun and my sprayer. Long range I always end up just standing around scratching my butt. I tried Rabi's out and it was pretty neat, so I kind of want one for myself. That way I can actually be useful."
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
>>747693"…I hadn't… hadn't considered that possibility."
He doesn't seem to know what more to say.
You fiddle with the spyglass, ending up with an array of lenses focusing on some sort of crystal. But you don't get much more than that. "What's a rifle?"
H'm. Weird. I wonder just how many things this thing can do. I keep playing around with it while I talk. "Oh yeah. I guess you wouldn't really know. Imagine they didn't have them back during your time. It's sorta like a really long cannon that fires way smaller balls. Designed to shoot em really far and at single targets instead of the huge boom you get from a cannon. So basically just a long tube with a trigger."
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
You hear a loud ratcheting sound from inside. It doesn't sound like it's meant to do that."I see."
You get the feeling he doesn't. "How do you think you'll make this 'rifle'? How does it work?"
He seems curious.
I slowly undo whatever I did and put the spyglass down. Let's not mess with that anymore right now. "Well, for now my main plan is to put a basic thing together. I can't do much myself, but I seen Z use this rune to sorta shape stuff. I'm gonna see if I can't get her to make a couple parts for me. A long tube with a rifled center. Maybe some smaller trigger pieces. I have some extra flint from a fire kit I got with the basic camping gear when we first got here, so I can probably set up something with a piece of that on the hammer. The clockwork oranges have springs and gears and stuff, so I'm pretty sure the hammer, the barrel, and the wood to set the stuff in are all I really need to get her to make. It probably won't be pretty, but it really doesn't have to be. Besides that I guess the real issue is how I'll get ammo for it. I don't really have any lead I don't think. Maybe Rabi has some extra, since he says he uses his for magic shots or somethin."
It all seems rather beyond him. "…Right you are! A worthy plan, brother. I'm sure it'll turn out excellent."
Later that afternoon, Gawain comes to find you. He has his zweihander on his back, and is carrying several bags worth of food, drink, clothing, and other supplies. He is wearing an old cowl over his usual armor, and carries a second one in his claw. "Lady Aegis!" he booms jovially. "Are you ready for our little sojourn? With any luck it will be a short trip, no more than a day or two. Here!" He offers you the hood he's carrying for some reason.
Aegis was just done making sure the chickens were not dead or hurt and did some small cleaning up on the coop as Gawain comes in
''I am'' She replies, taking the cowl and wearing the Mournwing cloak over it, ensuring that most of her features are as well hidden as possible
''Also, while we are out on the field, call me Snowfall'' Aegis hides her shield under the layers of clothing and holds out the Dream Wine Staff at the ready, along with her saddlebags full of her usual stuff, except the Liber, which she decides to leave on the ship
You put the cowl on. It doesn't match the cloak at all, not does it really cover up your face. Not much of a disguise.
"It's better if you do this!" Gawain takes the flap of the cowl and pulls it over his face, to little avail.
Once you're ready, he nods. "And I will go by… er… hm, I hadn't thought of an alias. I've never had to conceal myself before. I'll think of something on the road! Unless you have a suggestion?…"
After saying goodbye to everyone, you disembark and start trekking toward the river bank. Gawain explains the route you'll have to take. "From what Marisol said, there'll be a ferry crossing a few miles west of here. We'll have to pay to be taken there. We shan't reach it before nightfall. From there, we can secure transport across the river; then, we reach the hamlet of Brine on the other side, sleep for the night, then in the morning, we can travel up to Braildorn. How's that for a plan?">roll Navigation
''Maybe like this'' Aegis takes some time to ensure she can be disguised properly, even going as far as changing her manestyle and also putting the cowl over her face like Gawain suggested
''Gilbert. Its a fine gryphon name''
''I see nothing wrong with this plan. We are well prepared and I dont see how this could fail unless I am recognized. If that happens then we must be prepared to fight or flee''
Roll #1 2 = 2
He nods in approval. "Gilbert. I like it! With luck, we'll be able to avoid any entanglements on the way…"
You head off into the wild, traveling due east. The terrain consists mostly of rocky flatlands, though after the first hour or so you come to less barren terrain, populated by small, squat trees and dense bushes that come up to your torso. Gawain hacks away at them to clear the way, but it's easy to get turned around. At one point, as the sun's going down, you find you've gone in a loop, and are where you were an hour ago.
"Hm. This is quite a fix," Gawain grumbles. "We need to get to the ferry before the sun goes down. Perhaps we could try following the sun… but we're losing light fast. Hmm…"
You can't help but feel a little exposed out here in the wild after dark. You get the feeling you'll be running into the native fauna at some point, for good or ill.
''Here, let me hold on to the supplies for a moment while you fly up above, try to get a good view of the surroundings and see if you can spot the ferry''