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File: 1618452033498.jpg (599.23 KB, 1920x1997, 1547170014862.jpg)

 No.755391[View All]

>[ENTRY REDACTED]

Last time, in the Castle of Silence…

After whipping up a quick meal offering, the expedition team ventured out from the warehouse to approach the Necromancer, who floated languidly through the northern streets. Upon confronting him, they found him willing to engage in dialogue, whereupon he divulged that he indeed had been to the Pillars… in fact, he entered Agatecastle through the Pillars, indicating the existence of a clandestine gateway between the Pillars and the Castle itself. It was as this came up that Lost Hope accidentally divulged the existence of the Ironcastle Expedition Team, a fact which the Necromancer found quite interesting. Huitlapan panicked and tried to walk back Lost's revelation, only to be frozen solid with a blast of winter air.
829 posts omitted. Click reply to view.

 No.760947

>>760945
"Hmm," Deadweight hums, considering this.

 No.760948

>>760943
>>760944
>>760945
>>760946
Lost just ends up contemplating Deadweight's juicy, thick… eyebrows on the way over to the arcade. It's a really awkward angle to be looking while walking. For her sake, Cautaa, Huitlapan and Xu pretend to be more concerned with Ruby than with Lost.

When you at last reach the arcade, you can see about a dozen other Ironcastle expedition members standing guard at the front lounge. They raise weapons for an instant as you come into periphery vision… and they don't seem to lower them even when they see you.

"More hallucinations, you think?" one whispers.

"Hold!" a noble-looking goo pony, standing at the head of the group, shouts. "Come no closer without identifying thyselves."

He has a sachsum at his hip, and wears novitiate's armor… have you seen him before?

 No.760949

>>760948
"I'm the guy with the asbestos bedsheets. How do we know you're not hallucinations instead?"

 No.760950

>>760948
uh [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.760951

>>760948
"If we're hallucinations… then how come we sound normal?"

Flawless logic.

[1d10] Persuade?

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.760952

>>760948
"Well, uhm, I would kindly ask who was it that landed the deleterious marks on many of the destroyed sentrybots outside, first?"

 No.760953

"Hail, iron souls, we are Deadweight, Lost Hope, Firmgold, Steadfast, Conflagration, Xu, Huitlapan, and Cautaa," Deadweight proclaims, gesturing to each member as she says their name.

 No.760954

[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.760955

>>760949
>>760950
>>760951
>>760952
>>760953
"What the–" the goo pony says, curling his gelatinous lip at Lost's idiotic (but persuasive) rhetoric.

"Come off it, Vissei," another soldier says. "They look a little weird. The hallucinations were the other way around. Too normal, too believable. These guys are legit."

"Weird?" Cautaa gasps with dismay.

"Sounds about right," Xu agrees.

"I'll have to remember that…" Huitlapan mutters. "Too believable…"

"Tch," Vissei sighs, then gestures for you to enter. "Hail, iron souls. Get inside, we've shelter here."

Inside the arcade, you can see that quite a few other soldiers of Ironcastle are cooped up in here. Most are injured, about half of them badly, and about half, only mildly. Those few adept in healing skill have their hands full trying to care for the injured.

Vissei then turns to Firmgold. "Not any of us. Those things, the floating machinations, dealt those attacks, coming and going both without explanation. Their appearances were swift, and blinding, and their attacks heralded by terrible clanging… when the light cleared, the bots were felled."

 No.760956

>>760955
Deadweight tells Xu and Cautaa, "Try to find some intel on Ruby," then goes to offer her services to the injured.

 No.760957

>>760955
Lost clapped her hooves that her words were accepted before resuming the great Ruby hunt.

[1d10] Lets try and not stare at the waifu

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.760958

>>760955
"We saw those bots earlier in the middle of a hallucination."

 No.760959

>>760955
I let concern show on my face.
"Did you encounter… problems of the mind when looking at the machinations?"

 No.760960

>>760957
>>760956
Lost manages to stop browsing those 'brows, but at what cost?

Lost then realizes that the VR machine that Ruby planned to trap Mogao in might still have some trace of her. Crash dumps, access logs, cached backups… Cautaa or Xu would have to poke around in there, though…

>>760958
>>760959
"Some did, others less so," Vissei says. "It seems those with much to lose, or who had already lost many themselves, were most prone to the psychic effects of looking upon those floating machinations. However, nothing too grave seems to have befallen those who looked upon the machinations. And, since they aided us in battle against the security bots, the opinion of them among the soldiers has turned generally favorable."

"The security bots turned upon you?" Cautaa asks.

"Yes, down to the last one," Vissei says. "By the prerecorded alarms they blared out, their scanners identified us as Dreaded, and so they turned their blades and guns upon us. The battles were grisly, and we would have lost many had the floating machinations not intervened. I cannot blame my fellows for their high opinions of the machinations now, but… not knowing of their origin, I am loathe to trust so quickly."

 No.760961

>>760960
Deadweight tries to help nurse the injured.

 No.760962

>>760960
She gestured to those two to join her over by the machine.

 No.760963

>>760962
>>760960
"What's up?"

 No.760964

>>760960
"Thank you for this info, sir Vissei. It was one named Mogao who, in a flight of madness or brilliance, has gained control of those machinations. Our connection to him has disappeared and this place was where we made prior contact. I will be out of your way, thank you."
I'll leave the goo pony and rejoin my group

 No.760966

>>760961
>>760962
>>760963
>>760964
"Mogao?" Vissei repeats. "I confess, I do not know the fellow. Most strange… But, come to think of it, a fellow soul was complaining of a strange new Concord connection…"

When Vissei notices Lost gesturing to the VR immersion machine, he turns to the injured. "Don't depart from this base before we can mobilize. We are near our final battle – we'll not move on without a proper gameplan."

"Understood," Cautaa says.

"The 'bots thought they were Dreaded…?" Xu mutters to herself, her tone one of disbelief… and suspicion.

"Every one of them had that misunderstanding," Huitlapan confirms, his tone much the same.

"But bots don't just 'misunderstand,'" Xu says, as they all arrive at the VR machine.

 No.761044

>>760966
I will go to the VR machines and put on a headset before connecting my magicomp to a peripheral.
"(Please be here.)" I whisper before activating my connection.

 No.761045

>>760966
Deadweight continues offering her services to nurse the injured.

 No.761046

>>760966
>>760966
>>760963
She motioned more before whispering to Conflag "Ruby might still be in this VR machine she wanted to trap Mogao in."

 No.761047

>>761044
You feel your body relaxing into the cushioned chair as you dive into the VRealm…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6UuoS9keOc

Awash in teal and pink, you fall, deeper and deeper, into a charming loading screen, a realm of low-poly, low-framerate 3-D shapes and other figures… among them is a slowly-dancing Ruby. However, this Ruby is stylized like the desktop pet, and is likely only a fragment of her old self… and yet…

>>761045
Huitlapan joins you, and aids in cleaning and dressing the wounds of the injured. Most of them appear to have sustained bullet and blade wounds – the typical instruments of a security bot.

"Terribly tragic that they should have suffered such at the hands of machines meant to protect us," Huitlapan bitterly notes.

 No.761048

>>761046
See first post in: >>761047

 No.761049

>>761047
I hop into the VR world too.

 No.761050

>>761047
"Mm," Deadweight grunts, her brows furrowed.

 No.761051

>>761044
"What do you think?"

 No.761052

>>761051
"Worrying."
I turn to Conflagration
"I'm going to interact with her first, please be careful of our surroundings."
>>761047
I will walk up and lightly tap Ruby on her shoulder or an outstretched hoof.
"Miss Ruby?"

 No.761053

>>761049
>>761051
>>761052
"Insert one coin to continue," the Ruby desktop pet continues. It is most likely one of her canned greeting lines, not meant literally but to slightly amuse the observer before they continue on their quest to do programming homework or play fighting games for questionable amounts of time.

However, you suspect that she can be prompted further… perhaps a secret code, or a sequence of prompts memorized through machine learning, can get her to reveal her secrets…

>>761050
"I suspect you and I share comrade Xu's suspicion of this entire setup," Huitlapan says. "That all the machines would embark on such an error, and open fire on the very ones they were supposed to protect… but who is our attacker? The Necromancer….?"

 No.761054

>>761053
"I dunno who else. Maybe Mogao, but I still can't figure out what his motivation is."

 No.761055

>>761053
>>761047
Lost hopped in herself with the others and began trying to recall the many things Ruby said to try and bring her back. Shouting them rapidly.

 No.761056

>>761053
I look around and think, but consider going first for the obvious.
"Miss Ruby Round, I'm looking for Mogao."

 No.761057

>>761053
"Password: Password."

 No.761058

>>761054
"I feel that we have implicitly eliminated all likelihood that he is truly an Ironcastle undercover agent," Huitlapan says. "His conduct notwithstanding, a Lux Deorum member could have exercised their authority to wrest command from even the Seneschal Colonnade herself…"

His face falls, and he stops his mending for a moment. "So, then, what if…"

>>761055
>>761056
>>761057
The Ruby desktop pet stops dancing for a moment, and a string of random, incomprehensible gibberish floats above her head for a moment…

Until, with teary eyes, this Ruby fragment greets you again…

>"Bruh omg lol wtf"


"Tis wonderful to see you again as well," Cautaa dryly replies.

>"U guyz got owned i bet lmaooooo"


"Not all of us…" Xu says.

>"Protocol recognized; step into my office, simps," the Ruby fragment says, then turns into a clickable icon.


"S-simp…?" Cautaa asks. "Is Agatecastle so similar to Ironcastle that we should even find this most modern slander in its communications?"

"Cut the Shakespony and come on!" Xu scoffs. She touches the icon, then disappears. Cautaa grumbles, but follows suit.

 No.761059

>>761058
Lost paused but decided to go and follow the others.

 No.761060

>>761058
When she notices Huitlapan pause, Deadweight asks, "What's on your mind?"

 No.761061

>>761058
I boop the icon.

 No.761062

>>761058

I will touch the icon

 No.761063

>>761060
"What if he is no iron soul at all…" Huitlapan whispers, leaning in. "But a soul of Agatecastle? I privately held out Hope that Green was not the only survivor… I wonder now, if Green was not 'the only survivor,' but perhaps, 'the only benevolent survivor'?"

>>761059
>>761061
>>761062
You are forced to endure a 30 second unskippable ad – but not for any product that any soul of Agatecastle would recognize. Rather, it seems to be a flythrough of a custom map of a game that Ruby and Amber enjoyed… a release date appears at the end of the trailer. It was set to release just one month prior to your arrival in Agatecastle.

When the ad finishes, you find yourselves back in the beachside town where Ruby first trapped you. This desktop pet avatar of hers sits down at a table under a pavillion overlooking the water's edge.

>"So wtf do you want" it says in a robotic voice.

 No.761064

>>761063
"Well… we were hoping maybe you were a backup copy of Ruby… she kind of… vanished. And I miss her."

 No.761065

>>761063
"I- we would like to know what transpired since your disappearance."

 No.761066

>>761063
"Hmm," Deadweight hums in contemplation, "Haven't thought of that."

 No.761067

>>761063
"What happened to you?"

 No.761068

>>761067
>>761064
>>761065
>"W8… did I get owned?" Ruby's avatar asks.

"I'm afraid so," Xu asks.

>"Fuggin shid he musta been hacking"


"Perhaps so, but if it's any consolation," Cautaa says. "We hosted your full self for a time on our devices here. Mayhap it may be of some use to you to…"

>"Yeah yeah i gotcha fam," Ruby's avatar says. "Tbqh i was worried about this possibility so i got a backup or two around here somewhere. Just chill out until i can load it…"


Cautaa and Xu nod, and cast their gazes out to the beach while they wait.

 No.761069

>>761068
Lost for her part patiently moved closer to the avatar and sat down patiently.

 No.761070

>>761068
"Mega owned."

 No.761071

>>761068
"Miss Ruby I must first ask. Are you, well I apologize that this isn't worded in the best manner but do you still have full control here? You seem.. different to the Ruby we've encountered and spent time with."

 No.761072

>>761069
>>761070
>>761071
>"O ya i'm fine," the Avatar insists. "Making backups takes a lot of power, time and memory so i gotta keep them in cold storage. Wat u r chatting with now is a barebones process i made in case of emergencies."

"I believe that is the longest sentence she's managed so far," Cautaa says.

A smiley-face emoticon appears on the Ruby Avatar's face.

 No.761073

>>761066
About an hour has gone by, and you and Huitlapan find that you've done about as much as you can for the injured. You brought several severe injuries down to more manageable levels, for which the other healers are quite grateful, thanking you each chance they get. Most healers have doffed their helms, their foreheads damp with sweat, and eyes red with stress and strain…

"In the event of a calamitous battle below, they shall be pushed beyond their limit," Huitlapan whispers.

 No.761074

>>761072
"Honestly I'm just glad to talk to you again. I don't have many friends so losing one was quite scary."


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