No.756270[Last 50 Posts]
The Echoes are changed to their core.
Skylord Lysander is dead. The veil of the Cuckoo's Egg is lifted, revealing a new and altered world. The old chaos runs rampant. In a distant land, the flame of ambition is lit in a woman's heart. And somewhere, sometime, the drifters who were at the heart of it all awaken, amidst the ash and rubble of their former home.
Runes of Union hang in the sky, radiating their primordial spell. The world is unmade and remade again. Beyond the scope of the light they knew, and beyond the reach of the terror and dark, the drifters tread now, peering through the fog of the Conjunction, in search of answers…
There is a moment of silence among the group as Dawn's letter to you is read. Aurora bows her head in sadness. "She's really gone, then… I…"
"I-it wasn't in vain," Marisol asserts, her voice quavering slightly. "We can't let it be. I won't… W-we need to figure out what's happened. We can't stay here. We need to grab what we can and keep moving!…"
Gawain shakes his head. "Give… Just give them a moment, for pity's sake."
"She's right, though," Violet says quietly. She sounds exhausted from the whole ordeal. She half heartedly digs through the rubble of the ship. "We're exposed out here. We don't know this place. We need to find somewhere we can camp and get our bearings."
Aurora simply nods, but doesn't act, staying stalwartly by Zunden's side. "I guess it's over. It's gone. …Are you in there?…"
Gawain feels the exhaustion of everything that's happened catching up to him all of a sudden, taking a moment to sit down on a wooden beam with a soft groan, catching his breath. "Well, this is a right pickle we're in, isn't it…"
Aegis feels the Black Pearl Necklace stir, and one of its pearls begins to glow as the last remnants of Lysander vanish for good. The pearl is alight with a fiery white blaze before settling. She can feel the power of this twisted soul within the artifact.
>Lesser soul: +2 bonus
>Soul of Lysander: +6 and autocrit bonus
"Right." Rabi says, clearing his throat and working himself to his hooves. "Get together what we can, and let's try to see about… getting to a landmark, maybe? Somewhere with a roof over our head so we can take stock."
Aegis makes sure to keep the necklace safe with herself before adressing the others>>756272
''I agree. We have t move immediatelly, and finding a safe place to rest is the priority. We're all tired, wounded and scarred, if another trial appears, we wont be ready for it''
Aegis stumbles along, trying to see anything useful she can salvage among the wreckage
I quietly stare at the note for a few moments, trying not to choke up for what's the third or fourth time in as many hours. I lightly, absent-mindedly run my claw over the three scars running across my face. Anyone can be a good person if they're given the chance to try and do better. That- What happened to that fact constantly running through my mind throughout the echoes? I swallow, fold the note back up, and gently fold Dawn's cloak. >>756273>>756272
"Right. Maybe look around a little and salavage what we can manage. Then we gotta find somewhere to rest. Then, just as importantly, we gotta take inventory of our stuff. At least what we have left of our stuff. No telling how much of it was lost with the Fortune." I reach into the bag of holding and pull out Butler's bell, giving it a quick ring. If he actually shows up, I ask him to help look around the wreckage for anything that might help us out.
Having returned to the group and done what I can to brush the ashes off of myself, I look up from my seat after a moment of reflection.
"What a strange world we've found ourselves in.."
"There's very little around from the air. Aside from what remains of a burned forest, there's some form of settlement further afield." I begin, gesturing vaguely towards the direction of the distant ruins with a wing.
"We're too far to make out details, But it's the only thing still standing out here.. Perhaps somepony survived the blast?"
"Yeah, maybe. Even if not, finding a place to settle in and take stock of our situation, take a break, and try to recharge as best we can would be nice."
You ring the bell, but nothing happens. It doesn't seem to be working anymore.>>756275>>756274>>756272>>756273
Gawain looks up, noticing the ruins. He takes flight to check it out, glancing briefly at the rune Silver saw appear. He flies back down with a concerned frown. "It's quite far, isn't it. If we still had our ship it would be a matter of hours, but I doubt we'll reach that place before tomorrow. I feel Marisol and Aegis are right. We should gather what we can, and get moving as soon as possible." He, like Violet, sounds utterly exhausted, defeated even, but there's little choice to the matter right now.
Your companions talk amongst themselves as they scavenge through the remains of the Fortune.
"What does it all mean?" Aurora wonders out loud, never straying from Zunden's side as she searches the immediate area.
"Those runes mean Union," Marisol points out as she grabs some bags of dried fruit and nuts that survived. "I'm not a master of the mystic arts, but it seems that this Conjunction event, whatever it is, has merged us with… somewhere else."
"Time and reality's always been abstract here anyway," Violet deadpans, fastening her blades to her back with some scrounged leather straps. "Who knows, it might even be an improvement."
"I've seen strange things happen before, but never anything like this," says Gawain, recovering some tools from the portable forge. "The important part is not to despair! It could always be worse. We're alive, and all together, and more or less unharmed. That's cause enough for celebration, isn't it?"
"The sun's vanished," Violet retorts. "It doesn't get much more doomsday than that."
"True. But it could be dark and raining!"
>roll for looting
I tuck the bell away. Welp. That's disappointing. Not unexpected, but disappointing. I guess that means the spider and the shatterhorn probably don't work right anymore, either. All of my clockwork oranges not part of my last couple grenades are gone. Did I have anything else Discord made? I rub my eyes. Well, guess I'll figure it out.
"Discord mentioned something called 'The Return'. Do you think The Conjunction is pullint The Dominion and The Echoes together?" I really, really hope not. At least the Dominion would be safe if not, so this wouldn't all be for nothing.
[1d10]Salvage, mostly looking for our gear, but including grabbing some wood and scrap metal from the ship's wreckage. Especially scrap metal.Roll #1 9 = 9
"The runes are more than ominous décor, I'm afraid." I chime in, turning over some broken planks in the search
"The portal that opened earlier released a Prowler, but left behind another of those Union runes where it landed. There's a dark magic to it, something best left to Zunden when she feels up to it, but whatever it may be the implication is deeply concerning."Roll #1 4 = 4
>>756277>Searching the remains [1d10]
"Right. No ship anymore. We'll… we'll just have to deal with it then. Maybe there's people living in the ruins- there's still some hope, I think."
He gives Gawain a bit of a nod as he roots through the wreckage. "Right. Could be a lot worse, I wager."Roll #1 3 = 3
"What a cruel joke that would be, hoofing over the egg to Discord, only for the very thing we feared most happening anyway.."
''I suppose it WOULD be a way to return to our homes, but I would rather that not be the case either'' Aegis joins in after Norv's words, tryning to pry a plank out with magic
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
"To be fair I was more afraid of someone gettin ahold of the egg back in the dominion and it being broken there. But yeah. It'd be pretty rough.">>756279
"Huh. I wonder if we could take some time to collect some prowler hearts or whatever they were called. The magic prowler gems."
"The Dominion, or something else," Marisol muses. "Let's just hope that settlement over yonder has some answers.">>756280
"As I said. We should be glad to still be in one piece. We can still survive this. Dawn believed it so!">>756281>>756279>>756282
"The Dominion are the ones that made this place what it is," Aurora points out resentfully. "We don't owe them anything."
"If only Dawn were still with us," Gawain laments. "She'd know better than any of us what to do.">>756279>>756278>>756280>>756282
There's precious little left of your ship that can be salvaged, but you gather what you can. Apart from what you carry, you have the following:
500 bits total between you all.
A set of blacksmith's tools from the portable forge.
Enough food and water to last you three days on foot.
One remaining Harbinger to send messages across distances: the ebony raven statuette. The rest have been destroyed.
The ship in a bottle, which has miraculously survived.
Zunden's magic moon lute.
Carnifex's notes on potion making and effects, though its contents have been largely destroyed, leaving roughly half of what was once written.
In addition, Aegis finds something amidst the remains of her chicken coop: a single unhatched egg, buried under dirt and stone. It seems to still be alive.
Once you have gathered everything you can carry, you start your journey, leaving the remains of your home behind you.
There seem to be two paths you can take to make for the ruins:
A more hilly path takes you through the burned copse of trees Silver noticed. It would make for a slightly shorter journey, but you would be more exposed to potential threats.
The low road would take you through a patch of dried up bushland. Still potentially dangerous, and more difficult to traverse, making for a longer journey. However visibility would be higher on this path, making it harder for anything to get the jump on you.
Pulling free Carnifex's notes, my relief turns to disappointment as I note the extensive damage to the pages.
"Hmph. I suppose I should be grateful at least something
Of Carnifex's work survived.."
"With time of the essence, perhaps we should take the path through the trees? Were we better equipped we could afford caution, but I do not like our odds when facing an end via exposure."
''I need to keep this warm'' Aegis thinks to herself as she magically levitates the chicken egg with care, double-checking her saddlebag to ensure the Liber and the Beastiary are still there and in one piece
''We should travel low, through the dead bushlands'' She suggests, trying to find a way to keep the egg warm ''I am not ready to deal with possible ambushes''
"At least we've got us- I-I mean, the group, and you of course.">>756284
"We've got… some stuff, at least. Shame about my Greatbow… I'll have to work on one later." He mumbles to himself. "So… low road, maybe? I'd hate to get jumped."
I rub my forehead and sigh. "Well, it's better than nothing. Still a lot of good stuff just gone. I still have a bunch of my gear, but some of it is kinda useless now."
>Dart gun and six darts >Makeshift rifle>Modular spyglass>Good Luck Charm>Gas Mask>Magic Coat>Haste wand, 1 charge>Prayer of Healing wand, 3 charges>Three doses of Aqua Vite>One dose of High Aqua Vite>One dose of Stonefang>Striker>Two viridust grenades inside clockwork orange hulls>Unending sinew>Brontide Amulet>Butler's bell (No longer functioning)>Tarantellantula (untested)>Shatterhorn (untested)>Endless Mead Horn>Chemical sprayer with six canisters>Scrap metal>Scrap wood>>756287
"You didn't need a weapon, did you? I could probably loan you my rifle. I'd have to keep the scope, but-" I shrug. >>756287>>756286>>756285
"Honestly we're all exhausted and injured. Probably should just take the long way."
"Now Rabi, there's no need to be coy." I reply, nuzzling into your neck. "If nothing else, we do
still have each other."
Between this, the destruction of your lab, and the loss of one of your blades, you're running low on your go-to tricks of the trade for combat. Perhaps an upgrade is in order.>>756286
You find the bestiary, though it's seen better days. The Liber Animarum, however, seems to have completely disappeared. You have a bad feeling about it.>>756288
You take inventory. You've lost a lot of useful tools and materials, but you still have a decent amount left to work with.>>756287>>756288>>756286>>756285
"Better safe than sorry. Especially now," Violet mumbles. She looks like she's going to pass out, but pulls herself together and keeps going. The others nod in assent and fall in line, forming a weary little caravan as you traverse the broken lands.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XT3lEF1kN4
The rest of the day begins to crawl by as you travel. It's dfficult to tell what time it is, with no sun, but the day and night cycle still seems to exist somehow. The day only gets brighter as you trudge along. The landscape is oddly familiar, though fundamentally changed from what you've come to know from the Echoes. You feel like it will take a long time to adjust to this new world.
Every once in a while, the sky will streak with lightning, and somewhere on the horizon a bolt will dart down, smiting the earth. You come across the occasional Union rune embedded in the earth, just like the one Silver and Rabi saw before. This seems to be a common phenomenon post-Conjunction, though what it means is beyond you.
As you traverse the lowlands, making your way through the tall grass, the sky flashes, and a lightning bolt strikes only a few feet away from you with a deafening bang. The earth is scorched, and in your path is one such Union rune. The sudden occurrence makes you all jump. "Good heavens!" Gawain cries, flying up in alarm. Violet instinctively darts to unsheathe her swords, and the others get ready for a fight, but it doesn't seem to come. Marisol peers about as the sudden dust and smoke from the lightning bolt begins to thin, keeping an eye out for danger.
I catch up to Vi and walk alongside her. I open my mouth to speak, but stop. After a moment I dumbly ask, "Hey, you doing alright?" Realizing how stupid that is, I add, "I still have a few doses of heal juice if you need some."
I stumble backwards as the lightning strikes near us, unslinging my rifle. Slowly, I ease a little as nothing happens, but still keep on guard with my rifle out. "This is something we're gonna have to worry about when setting up camp, huh?"
Startled by the sudden lightning bolt, I jump back at the smoke and noise.
"Gah! More of those accursed runes!"
"Steer well clear of them, everypony. Until we know more of their purpose we can't risk activating their magic."
Rabi nickers softly, nuzzling against Silver's cheek and giving her a kiss on the snout. "We do, yeah. I'm glad I didn't lose you.">>756288
"Between my rifle and my bow, I ought to be fine. Thanks, though.">>756290
Rabi jumps back with a whinny and settles into a defensive stance at the strike of lightning. "It's… nothing? We ought to wait and see for a bit."
She just side eyes you and kind of shrugs you off. Doesn't look like she's in the mood to talk much. Probably not to you, at least.>>756292>>756293>>756291
Aurora nods at Rabi's suggestion. You see a small pillar of brick and stone, ostensibly part of a larger structure, suddenly appear on top of where the rune struck. A few moments pass; it looks like the coast is clear for a moment, but then the sky flashes again. More lightning bolts start raining down in the area around you!>roll to navigate the sudden lightning storm
I nod. Right. Guess I deserve that. I quietly fall back in line.>>756294
I wince as the pillar appears. "You think this is what happened when The Echoes were first formed? What Beldam Pudding meant when she mentioned the "Old chaos"? I try to steer clear of the lightning as best as I can.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
Eying the pillar curiously, I'm dragged away from the sight by the sound and noise of lightning striking the earth around us!
"Whatever is happening, It can't be good! I think it prudent to leave before this magic finishes!"
[1d10] navigationRoll #1 8 = 8
"Hmm… it does give me a neat idea though- I wonder if I could use magic to catch lightning, or other bits of weather or nature like that?"Roll #1 4 = 4
"Could very well be," Marisol nods. "I think I have an idea, but- shit!" She ducks for cover as the storm flares up out of nowhere.>>756295>>756296>>756297
Gawain flies up and perches on a nearby boulder, while Violet ducks and rolls for cover. Aurora pulls Zunden aside to protect her, while Marisol scrambles up a dead tree like a squirrel. Silver flies up to high ground to avoid being hit; Norv alone gets caught up. While he doesn't get struck by lightning, he inadvertently brushes a toe against one of the newly branded runes.
The slightest contact is enough to trigger a reaction; the rune begins to spark and flare, emitting a pulse of green energy. Before you can process what just happened, you find yourselves swept by a blinding shockwave that emits from it, knocking you all off your feet.>everyone takes 3 hits
As you all recover from the blast, you find something else entirely blocking your path. An entire two story house seems to have erupted from where the runes struck, a sturdy building of brick and cobblestone. It looks uninhabited, and it seems to be empty on the inside from what you can tell. There seems to be no going this way now with the building in your way.
"…What the hell just happened?…" Violet rubs her head, sitting up from where she took a fall.
"Today just keeps getting weirder and weirder," Aurora muses.
"…Should we go through it?" Gawain suggests, needing some time to process what just happened.
"I don't think we should go anywhere near it," says Marisol, staring in disbelief. "We should find another path."
"Yikes! That's what I get for thinking instead of looking… and, uh, this wasn't here before. I could always check it out on the Astral plane, maybe. It could be worth scouting out a little, instead of just ignoring it."
I groan and sit up. "Welp. There goes that plan. At least we know what actually touching the runes does now?" I chuckle. "Almost wanna check it out. Maybe even squat here for the night. Looks cozy."
Knocked over from the blast, I get back onto my hooves to see a building of all things out of nowhere.>>756300>>756299
"..Perhaps you have a point about this 'Old Chaos'. If this
is the result of that chaos, It feels as if the dimension could be remaking itself.">>756300
"If we've the supplies, maybe. It would certainly make for easier sleep than the ash around us, provided it's safe inside, of course."
Gawain acts first, tentatively reaching out to the door and knocking politely. Nothing seems to happen, so he opens it. "…Should we go in?"
save time if we just went through it," Violet chimes in.
"Marisol is probably right," Aurora points out, shaking her head. "We don't know what this thing is. We've poked enough weird things today as is. Today? Lately? …Let's just find a way around." She flies up to start scouting the area.
"I say we go through it- or at least let me scout it."
"I suppose that would
be the simplest compromise, checking inside first before we enter."
"Be careful," Marisol warns. "Remember what happened the last few times."
You slip into the astral plane again. This time, however, it goes much like it did the first few times you ever did it. Everything seems to be fine with your astral form now; you feel more whole than before, and there is no interference from Elaina.
You enter the house. There doesn't seem to be much to it from what you can see. You see traces of green energy here and there, cracks in it filling up to complete its structure. After a few moments, however, you start feeling strange. It's like some unknown force is pushing you out. You find it difficult to concentrate on the structure's details, and your consciousness seems to fade and waver. It's an overwhelming feeling of being repelled, pushed away from this place.
Before you get a chance to process what's happening or fight back, you wake up back in your body. Something forced you back into your physical form. You don't get the feeling you'll be able to step foot in this place.
"My, you worked fast," Gawain remarks. "Are you alright?" Marisol asks with concern. "What did you see?">>756304
Rabi sits to project, but after a few moments stirs again. Something seems to have forced him to reawaken.
The relief of an uneventful entry into the Astral Plane is quickly forgotten in the face of the odd, unwelcoming, forceful aura of the building. Try as he might, Rabi makes little progress.
"I… hmm. Well, that's odd." He says, frowning a little as he sits up and rubs his mane gently. "I saw… well, not much. The building is supported by some sort of energy- warded by it, even. When I tried to enter Astrally I got pushed back into my body. Entering might be kind of hard, actually… and, I barely remember the layout either. It's all fuzzy."
"Well. Shoot. Guess that makes the decision easy, at least."
"Hmm.. strange indeed. Perhaps it's best we find a route around the building, then. If you were thrown out in an astral state, we're not likely to fare better."
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 1 = 1
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Aegis ultimately decides to keep quiet about this issue for now>>756308>>756307>>756306
''It might be that the house is only warded against magical energy, most likely to prevent it from being spied on by astral projectors, or scryed through with magic sight''
Aegis puts a hoof to her chin, but winces lightly as the action makes her shoulder ache ''This could mean that this house guards some kind of secret someone wanted hidden from the outside… And that means it could be the safest place we might find in this wasteland, if we can enter it without triggering any danger''
With a groan, Aegis sits down for a brief rest ''Or it could be that the magical ward is there simply to prevent outsiders from any traps hidden inside… Master Rabi, have you seen anything of the like? Ropes? Mechanisms?''
"Weird. Let's just go around it though," Violet sighs. "Had enough of a headache for one day." She looks about ready to collapse.
"This is quite a fix," Gawain muses. "Perhaps Violet is right. Getting to that settlement would be our safest bet. We're in no state to be chasing adventure right now."
Marisol approaches the building cautiously, only to back away, clutching her head. "Ah… Doesn't seem to just be an astral thing. I can't… get in. Very unpleasant. Don't try it. We should just put a pin in this and come back once we're properly rested."
Norv spots a slightly steep hillside path leading around. Taking initiative, Aurora flies up first, going around the house to continue the path. What she sees, however, makes her falter in shock, almost crashing back down. She manages to right herself and land among you.
"Heavens! Are you quite alright? What is it?" Gawain asks, his brow furrowed with worry.
"It's… it's the landscape. It changed… The settlement was at the foot of a mountain, but now… now it's on a cliff by the sea… How did…?"
Sure enough, you can hear the churning of distant waves. Somehow, the world has shifted in the wake of this strange structure appearing.
"Then… let's just leave it, yeah? Even if it's somewhere new, let's try for the settlement."
Aegis squints, and starts walking around the house to take a look at this for herself
"Ah. Right. Well, there's the chaos I guess. Maybe not as boring as I thought. Is the place itself at least more or less stable? Or did it change too?"
"A new landscape by simply rounding the corner? Just what is going on.."
"Is there still a path along the cliff to the settlement? Or should we try another route?"
Going up the hillside path, you can see that she's not wrong. The landscape seems to have shifted according to some strange whim; where before you were heading towards the mountains, now you have a large open grassland field to cross, leading to a tiny hamlet overlooking a steep cliff. Below is a vast view of a great sparkling ocean.
"Maybe this is a change for the better," Gawain remarks. "It feels like we're closer now than we were before."
"That's… because we've been walking all day," Violet says in disbelief.
"Hm? No, I mean our destination feels closer than before this structure appeared." He's not wrong. Where before it looked like over a day's worth of travel, now it feels like a matter of hours. It seems like fairly easy traveling from here to the settlement, but the exhaustion of everything that's happened is rapidly catching up with you. It hurts just to take another step forward; you feel like you could collapse at any moment.>roll Navigation
''It'll be easier to endure the trip then. Come.'' She commands the others. ''We survived Lysander, the Oneiromancer and the Isle of Glass. I will not accept to fall to tiredness after all we overcame''
With that, Aegis takes the lead, silently enduring her exhaustion and pain in order to move on
'1d10' NavigationRoll #1 2 = 2
"So yeah, sounds more like good luck than bad." As I sretch my back and roll my shoulder, each of my joints crack and pop like snapping wood. "Don't know about you guys, but I can use a bed. Let's go."
"Maybe… maybe we should make camp, actually. I'm a lot more tired than I thought."Roll #1 7 = 7
[1d10]navRoll #1 5 = 5
Braving the path towards the settlement, i try and power through the last part of the trip, exhaustion taking its toll.
[1d10] navigationRoll #1 6 = 6
You go around the mysterious house. As you press on, the weight of everything that's happened over the course of the last… hours? Days? It all blurs together at this point. It weighs on you terribly, and it becomes increasingly harder to put one foot in front of the other. Aegis nearly collapses from exhaustion at one point, but Gawain helps her stand. He, Rabi and Marisol seem the least exhausted, pushing on until the hamlet is in sight. Few words are exchanged on this leg of the journey; you need all your strength to be able to get to shelter.
You notice that the time of day has barely dimmed, despite having been traveling all day. You haven't slept since the previous day at this point, and the constant murky daylight is almost maddening. Still, you press on, crossing the golden scrublands to get to safety. Every once in a while, you see a flash of green lightning off in the distance.
At last, you reach it. The settlement is rather small, and looks like it's seen better days. Most of the buildings are in disrepair, being little more than a cluster of structures perched on the edge of the cliff. The entrance is blocked by a sturdy wooden palisade, which runs all the way around the edge of town.
"Not much… to look at," Violet breathes, only half conscious at this point.
"Anything's better than out here," Aurora mumbles, continuing to support Zunden as best she can.
You approach the main gate. As you do so, a slot opens in the moldering wooden construct, and a pair of eyes peer out. "State your business," the guard demands.
"Just looking for somewhere to get off our hooves for a little while. Rest?"
I weakly nod and agree with Rabi. "Just passing through. We were hoping for maybe a place with a bed for the night, but even if we can't manage that I'd be happy with somewhere safer than out there to rest for the night."
In too bad a state to possibly fix on the spot, I manage to straighten up and step up to the gate.
"Yes, hello, my companions are seeking a place to pause and take stock. Might you a place for us? If only to avoid the wind and water."
The guard looks at you with a slight frown, then seems to take pity on you. "Hm. You'd better come in. Look like you've been through the wringer."
You hear a comically large amount of locks and chains rattling, and he heaves to get the door open. "Haven't had visitors in a long time, not since 'fore the sun vanished. Still. Welcome to Moonhollow. It's not much, but it's home."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8ShsHeYkeI
You shamble in and look around. There's not much to this place, it seems. There's hardly any villagers to be seen, and the buildings are falling apart at the seams. Even so, a few places stand out to you:
There's a small two story building with a thatched roof to your left. The local inn, it seems.
Directly in front of you is a low, wide building with smoke coming from the chimney. A blacksmith's forge.
Across from the forge, on top of a small hill, is some sort of monument or obelisk. Seems to commemorate something. It seems to mark the way to a path leading down the cliff, to the beach.
There's a general goods store opposite the inn.
Past the inn and the store is an old church. It has a hole in the roof.
Aegis wordlessly drags herself towards the inn
"We have, yeah. I could sleep for a couple weeks straight, I think. Happy to be here." he says, stepping towards the inn.
I follow along with everyone else toward the inn. More time to look around and maybe resupply a little after resting some.
You head to the inn. The wooden sign above the door is too old and faded to be legible. You get the feeling this place is very, very old.
The inn is fairly minimalistic. It has seating arrangements, a fireplace with a fat black cat sleeping near it, and a bar, but not much else. There's a heavyset kirin behind the bar reading a book, but she quickly perks up as she sees customers. "G'day! How can.. Oh. Wow. You guys need rooms, huh. …I won't ask questions. This looks like an emergency."
She quickly rummages in a drawer and passes you a keyring. "Don't worry about the payment. You need this more than I need the money, I reckon. The rooms are upstairs, first three on the left. Should be plenty for all of you."
Sure enough, the upstairs rooms have enough beds between the three you were given to be enough for your whole group. They're rather dusty and sparsely populated, but at least you have beds. Your companions, hardly able to talk at this point, beeline to them, not bothering to figure out who sleeps where.
Nodding to the guard, I enter the town with the others, overjoyed at the simple sight of an Inn.
"Excellent, it seems we've found sanctuary, at least for a time."
Aegis enters the first room of the 3, sits down with a sigh, and rests against the bed
She releases her heavy bags and opens up, rumagging through her things to make a full invetory check while also pulling out the basic medical supplies and begins applying some simple self-care. Disinfecting wounds, applying some bandages and anything else she might need
"Thanks, friend- I appreciate it." he says, giving a bit of a smile despite his tired, haggard demeanor.>>756351
"Why don't we settle into a bed and rest a little, yeah? I think we could use it."
She also takes off her dress and unties her mane, giving herself a throgought check-up for scars and other bruises
I nod politely to the kirin. "Thanks.">>756353
I rub my forehead. "Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. I can't remember the last time I was this beat." I make my way into the closest room, find the nearest bed, and collapse without bothering to undress.
"Much appreciated, Madam."
trudging up the stairs, I find an open room for myself and Rabi, Taking a seat to take stock of my belongings and shake off my armor.>>756353
"Most certainly, dear. We'll have time tomorrow to properly understand what's going on, hopefully."
The rest of your companions hardly bother. Gawain borderline faints in his armour as he collapses on a bed, causing something to break. Violet just wearily undresses and curls up under the sheets. Aurora watches over Zunden even in rest, sleeping by her side. Marisol seems to have trouble getting to sleep, but soon enough, even she succumbs. Everything that's happened washes over you like a wave, and before you know it, one by one, you fall into a deep, dreamless slumber.
You awaken. You're not sure how much time it's been, but it seems to be morning now. You feel well rested, but stiff and sore from all the tribulations you've gone through. One by one, you wake up, getting your bearings and dragging yourselves out of bed. It feels like the world is quiet here.
Aegis spends a good time stretching and trying to relax her still limbs, then a good bit more time doing her best to look decent
Once she's as tidy as she can manage, she heads downstairs to look for the innkeeper
Awaking from my sleep, I take a moment to briefly cuddle with Rabi, before shifting over to my things and cleaning myself off, then getting properly dressed and returning downstairs for (hopefully) something to eat!
I slowly sit up, groaning as I realize just how stiff I am. I guess after the adrenaline wore off yesterday the exhaustion kept me from realizing just how much I was aching, but now I'm painfully aware. I stand up and stretch, starting toward the door. I pause when I actually smell myself. I look around, hoping for some kind of washroom.
Rabi murmurs softly and squeezes Silver tightly before she slips out of bed. He follows after shortly enough, looking better than he has in days.
Your companions wake up one by one. Marisol cracks her neck. "Gods. I needed that," she says with a small smile."
"What I need," says Violet as she gathers her things, "is a damn bath." Luckily, each room has a place to bathe and shower, allowing everyone to get properly cleaned and refreshed.
Gawain wakes up with a loud yawn and a stretch. "Nothing like a good night's sleep to improve the mood!"
"Food," Aurora mumbles. "Food and answers. That's what we need."
As you freshen up, you find most of your wounds have vanished, leaving only faint scars. Looks like someone in town lent you a hand and healed you while you rested.
You head downstairs. The kirin you saw earlier is sweeping up, looking bored. She perks up as your haggard little troupe enters the room. "Well look who's up and about! Thought you guys were gonna be out for good. You must be starving. What can I get you?"
''Anything, please'' Aegis approaches the Kirin mare and levitates her bag of bits ''Forgive me, but I only have 80 bits to pay for your services, I hope this is enough to cover most of our expenses?''
"Anything, really. What kind of stuff do you have?"
"The heartiest meal you have and a whiskey, straight. On the rocks if you can." >>756364
"If they don't, you think you can-" I mime waving my hands around to cast a spell, making a quiet, windy 'pshhhhh' sound that's obviously supposed to sound like a freezing wind. "I'd owe ya one." >>756363
I sit right at the bar near the kirin and lean on it. I almost snicker, but manage to keep myself from doing so as I say, "So, how about that weather?"
"It was dearly needed, thank you again for the room."
"Something hearty, perhaps? It feels as if I've not eaten in a week.." I reply, staving off a stomach pang as I take a seat.
''It'll be a trivial task Master Norvegicus, think nothing of it, but I only ask you share it with me, I rarely do this, but a little celebration with drinks seems like the fitting thing to do''
I smile and nod. "Sounds fair to me. Thanks."
"Ah, don't worry about it this time. First one's free for you guys.">>756367
"I mean, youse were out like a light for two days straight. Figures you'd be peckish.">>756366
"Whiskey for breakfast? …Alright then."
She gives you a funny look as you mention the weather, then has a look of realization. "Oh, you must've been displaced! …Er, I'm probably not the best one to explain things. You should talk to our marshal when you've got a mo'.">>756368>>756366
"Make it three," Violet grunts. "No, four." The innkeeper blinks, but nods.>>756364>>756365>>756366>>756367
"Alright, nine servings of "anything" coming right up. Take a seat, food'll be out soon." She serves Norv, Aegis and Violet their shots, and brings out water for the table. She goes out back to the kitchen, and before long a delicious smell wafts through the door. Looks like she's preparing breakfast for you all.
"Gods," Marisol sighs. "Can't believe we were asleep for two days."
"Well earned, I say! Well earned!" Gawain remains optimistic despite everything.
"What did she mean 'displaced'?" Aurora wonders. "You don't suppose…? No, never mind. I guess we'll find out soon enough."
"Anyone else notice how we got healed overnight?" Violet brings up. "Someone must've taken care of us. I mean I appreciate it, just unexpected really."
"I… sorta noticed, yeah. I haven't felt this whole since that misshap with Projecting. I won' complain about a chance to rest, though- we needed it."
? My word.. It seems we were worse off than I realized!"
"If we were out for that long, somepony arriving to help us recover Would certainly make sense."
"Such kindness to a group of haggard strangers.. It wouldn't be right if we were to simply take advantage and leave, yes?"
"More like over two nights." I scratch the side of my face. "Then again overnight might be right. I guess whoever it was probably only used one of them to heal us. Anyway, yeah. Weird, but not unwelcome. I get the feeling we've been out longer than a couple'a days, though. At least since-" I clear my throat. "Well, you know. The guard mentioned somethin about 'since the sun disappeared' or somethin. You don't say stuff like that unless it's been a while, right?"
I let my whiskey sit in front of me, patiently waiting for Aegis to do her thing.
''Please, I insist. At least let me do it on behalf of my companions. It is in my family to never leave a debt unaswered, and I dont know if we will ever see eachother again, so please take it'' Aegis levitates the bag of bits closer to the Kirin
Once the Kirin mare leaves, Aegis takes a seat with the others
''Indeed Violet, I dont think what we have been through could be solved by just a two days rest. I assume the Kirin is the one who did it, she has been very kind to us…''
Aegis pulls out the Black Pearl necklace and appraises it for a while, admiring the two souls swirling inside the beads while she waits for the meal
"We ought to do something in return, yeah. It's the least we could do after the help she gave us."
Aegis takes a moment to take notice, distracted by the swirling souls in her black pearl necklace
''Ah, forgive me Master Rabi, here''
Her shild glows faintly as she begins casting the frigor spell, cooling everyone's drinks until the surface of the cups is nice and frosty and dew has formed over it
With some hesitation, she raises her drink and takes a tentative sip of it
"Beautiful. Appreciate you." I lift my glass and hesitantly raise it a little in response to Aegis. "To not kickin it, I guess?" A celebration isn't really the reason I wanted a drink, but I guess it's not any small miracle we all aren't dead.
"Oh! Thanks, Aegis." He says, setting a hoof on her shoulder lightly.
I raise my water glass as well. "Indeed! Though it might not have been the happy ending we were looking for, at least we're alive."
''Ack'' Aegis hisses after taking a sip of the drink ''To our triumph'' She celebrates with Norv before deciding to down the whole shot at once, making a rarely seen scrunched up face>>756378
''You're welcome *cough*
"I feel like we should do something in return as well," Marisol nods. "I'm assuming we're going to stay here a while anyway. We need to get our bearings and rebuild. This place isn't much to look at, but it's all we've got to survive.">>756373
Aurora nods, looking down at her drink. "I've been having that feeling as well. The world doesn't just get like this overnight…">>756374
"Well, alright then. I won't turn down free money!" She takes it with a smile and a nod before retreating to the kitchen.>-80 bits>>756374
You observe the souls inside the beads. While they usually swirl, sometimes they start to thrash violently within their glassy prisons, as if still angry over their capture.
"What are you planning on doing with them?" Marisol asks. You notice she's been watching them with curiosity as well.>>756379>>756378>>756377>>756376
"To our valor, our swords, and our victory together!" Gawain toasts, raising his own drink: a large tankard of ale. You're not quite sure where he got it from.
"To Dawn," Aurora says somberly.
"To surviving," Violet mumbles.
"And to whatever may come next," says Marisol earnestly.
"Long may the sun shine!" Gawain drinks half a tankard in one go. "Er, figuratively."
"To sticking together. I'd hate to lose anyone else." The stallion offers, before taking a sip. "And… yeah. I'm sure there's odd jobs we could do to help, if nothing else."
''I dont know. I might absorb them for their power if I find myself in a life or death situation… Or I could trade them away in a demon deal. We will see''
''Master Gawain please take it slowly, you just got up from a two day rest'' Aegis waves a hoof at the Gryphon Knight
I take the shot, basking in the warm, icy feeling of the whiskey as it slides into my belly. "And this place is pretty beat up, so I get the feeling there ain't gonna be a shortage of odd jobs. I wanna look around some before actually doin any, but shouldn't be hard picking one up. Resupply. Figure out where to go from here."
"Hear, Hear!" I cheer, before drinking my cold water.>>756383
"Now Aegis, haven't we had enough dealings with beings from beyond the veil?" I ask with a chuckle.
"I know I
certainly wouldn't want to draw attention to myself, given what we've seen already."
''I suppose so. But what else do you suppose you could do with Lysander's soul? Its powerful, I can sense it pulsing near my neck. It'd be a terrible shame to let such power go to waste'' Aegis raises it close to her face again, a glint in her eye as she observes the foggy pearls
"Mm, Fair point. I suppose we'll find a use for it eventually, once we've a better grasp on the situation."
"Be careful with it," Marisol warns. "Lysander may be out of the picture, but my old master is still out there. As is my sister… Powerful souls are sure to attract her attention - and others'.">>756382>>756383>>756384>>756385
"If there's anything I've learned," says Violet with a small smirk, "innkeepers always have rumors and jobs for people like us."
"Speaking of," Aurora remarks. The innkeeper arrives, using telekinesis to carry plates of delicious breakfast food of all types. There's crispy bacon, pancakes, eggs both fried and scrambled, oatmeal, toast, and a whole basket of fresh fruits. For drinks, there's tea and coffee, but also fresh juice. A veritable banquet to choose from. "It's on the house. Enjoy!"
''I will keep that in mind'' Aegis nods to Marisol ''Lets ensure her curiosity becomes your old Master's downfall''
As the food arrives, Aegis's coat lightens up, and she swallows a lump in her throat, showing faint signs of hunger
''You are a blessing, Ma'am. Please tell me your name'' Aegis says as she begins serving herself some tea and toast
"Oh- that spread looks great, actually. I'd happily take some, thank you."
"you really are too kind, thank you!" I tell the kirin, gathering a serving of oatmeal and an orange for fruit, Carefully peeling the rind with my tanto.
"We were quite fortunate to find somepony so hospitable out here. How can we repay you?"
"Yeah. Lysander was a pain, but he wasn't exactly the worst thing we had to worry about. On top of that I get the feeling O-Man us still out there, too. Lot of folks might be interested in something like that.">>756388
Drool pools at the edge of my jowels, and I barely keep myself from panting as I catch a whiff of the food. Without waiting for anyone else, I immediately start shoveling every kind of food onto my plate, just realizing that I'm way hungrier than I'd thought. >>756401>>756400>>756389>>756388
"Anyway," I say, talking with my mouth full. I swallow and continue."Definitely got some stuff I wanna check out today, even besides jobs. Some time -maybe tonight- do you guys-" I pause and sheepishly look away. "Do you guys think we can have a little meeting? So I can explain myself? I still don't think I've done that yet. Not completely."
"Hmm.. Yes, I do believe a proper explanation is in order. All of this secrecy can finally be dropped, presumably now that we've finally cleared the worse of it." I reply with a nod and a bite of orange.
"Bonfire!" she answers cheerily as she lays out the feast. "This is my inn. Though it's more of a boarding house, since there's no customers and all. Hardly anyone else lives here, you know. More of a settlement than a proper town, this." She shrugs. "Been forever since we saw any new faces. Not since before the sun vanished.">>756401
"Repay? Not like coin's worth anything out here. You don't owe me anything! I'm just looking out for weary travelers. I imagine you'll be looking for orientation, though. You must've been through hell…">>756402
"Well, one down, two to go. We've come this far, right?" Marisol shrugs.
Violet eyes you from across the table expectantly as you bring up an explanation.>>756402>>756401>>756400>>756389
You dig into the food and drink proper. It's as delicious as it looks; you feel your strength returning as you eat. It's a feast fit for the gods. Bonfire seems pleased to see you enjoying her cooking. The cat you noticed earlier wanders over to your table, demanding scraps with a small sharp trill. "Oh shoo," Bonfire says sternly to the cat, but it won't budge. "Let me know if you need anything, loves," she calls before heading out back to tend to something else.
''Yes, I believe a little meeting later would be needed to discuss our thoughts and plan of action after we are more aware of the situation''>>756404
''I see. Thank you Bonfire. I am Aegis Glaze of the Junsei family, though I doubt you have ever heard of that name''
As the cat approaches, Aegis slips it a small portion of the scrambled eggs and attempts to pet it
"Thanks!" I say to Bonfire, continuing to dig in. I swallow. "Nice to meet ya, Bonfire. Norvegicus Black. Just Norv is fine."
I knit my brow and give Violet an apologetic look. "Maybe we should talk about it in private? All of us, I mean? I would give it a non zero chance of me getting, you know-" I clear my throat, lean in, and whisper. "L-I-N-C-H-D if rumors got around, you know?">>756405
"Right. That too. For now let's just get the lay of the town, though, yeah? Worry about all that tonight."
"A Pleasure to meet you, Bonfire." I reply, dipping my head in a slight bow, "I am Silver Song, pleased to make your acquaintance."
As she slips away, I turn to the others, continuing to enjoy my breakfast.>>756406
"Very well, Tonight then."
"I suppose our first task would be to find just where we've wound up. I haven't the foggiest where we could be, given the extreme shift of scenery."
"Thank you, Bonfire. I'm Rabi- it's good to meet you. And yeah, some orientation could be nice. Maybe… a map, or even just a good idea of what's around here?"
"Can't say I have, no." She shakes her head. "Sorry luv."
The cat eyes your scrambled eggs, then promptly consumes them, allowing you to pet it for a while.>>756406
Marisol blinks on the sidelines. "That's… never mind."
Gawain nods sagely. "Tonight it is, then. I don't see what there is to explain, but if there's something you need to get off your chest, we're all ears!">>756405>>756406>>756407>>756408
Bonfire's ears perk up at the mention of orientation. "I think I said it already, but the marshal was asking about you. She's the one that healed you while you were out cold, you know. If you're looking to get your bearings, I'd talk to her. She's out by the monument every mornin', or if not there then near the center of town. I reckon it'll be worth your while!"
"Sounds like we have a heading," says Marisol between bites of bacon. "Hopefully we're not too far from civilization."
"If it even exists anymore," Violet grumbles.
"Prhhph mrr cmr phblrr!" Gawain chimes in. Marisol raises an eyebrow, and he swallows his food. "Excuse me. Perhaps we can explore on our own! I noticed several points of interest not far from this little hamlet. This marshal might be able to point us in the right direction to start ekeing out a living again!"
''In any case, the Marshall is our main lead so lets talk to them first'' Aegis finishes up her meal, being careful to not overindulge even after not eating for two days, and heads out the inn to wait for the others near the doorway.
As she idles near the Inn's entrance, she takes in the sights of this little settlement and its people
"We gonna go as a group, or split up, then? I wanna check out the shop first. I had a few things I was workin on that I kinda lost the materials for. Meeting with the marshal don't seem like a bad idea, either. Other than that I just planned to wander, but if we got somewhere specific to go as a team then I'm up for it."
"Alright, marshall first. I guess."
Rabi gently sets a hoof on Gawain's back as he struggles with his food, snickering a little bit at Marisol's reaction. "At the very least, we should go and thank her. Once we're all done here, why don't we pop in and say hello?"
"I suppose we should
speak to the marshal first, she would certainly know the lay of the land. Afterwards, we could see about checking the shop or finding a map."
Finishing the last of the Oatmeal, I get back onto my hooves and Join Aegis at the door.
''We can take the time to see the shop later. Its not like we have anything urgent that needs taking care any more, yes?''
Time passes, and you leave Bonfire's inn with full bellies and an improved demeanor. Looking about the small settlement of Moonhollow, you barely see anyone about. The gate guard you met briefly is still there on duty, looking morose as ever, and you see a couple of other people in the distance, but overall it's practically a ghost town. "There might be more of us than there are of them," Marisol comments in surprise.
You head up to the monument Bonfire mentioned. Standing at the western edge of town, it's an old, elaborate statue built on the cliffside. It is a complex piece of craftsmanship, depicting several warriors like yourselves in heroic poses: a griffon, a goo pony, a unicorn, a zebra and a kirin.
By the monument is a unicorn wearing elaborate silver and white armor, tarnished over time but still retaining much of its former elegance. She seems to be crouching in silent prayer, but as she hears you approach she stands up, flipping up the visor on her helmet. A pair of bright green eyes peer out at you from behind a plumed armet helmet. "Oh, you're awake," she says graciously. "Are you holding up alright? You seemed in bad shape back there."
''We are, thanks to your help'' Aegis nods
''I am Aegis Glaze of the Junsei family, banished to the Echoes for a crime I did not do''
I roll my shoulder around and smile. "Still pretty achy, but doin way better than I'd expected to be this time last week." I knit my brow. "Last week-ish," I correct myself. "You're the one who patched us up?"
"Much better now, In no small part due to your aid, presumably." I reply with a courteous nod.
"I am Silver Song, a pleasure to meet you, Miss..?"
"That's an interesting monument- I guess whoever those people were did something important." he remarks, before offering a friendly bow. "Holding up pretty good- I don't think I've felt this good in a solid week. Thanks for the help, ma'am."
"Happy to help," says the marshal. "Can't turn down a helping hand to weary travelers. Especially not these days.
"I'm Dalliance. Kind of the one in charge around here. Whatever that's worth. You must have a lot of questions. As do I. We haven't had visitors in forever. What are you doing in Moonhollow?"
"We're, uh… lost, ahaha." he says, rubbing at the back of his neck. "We're just trying to get our bearings set."
''We found this place while looking for shelter after… The event'' Aegis motions to the rune suns above
''I would like to know what exactly happened. The scenery shifted and changed in unexpected ways and sights in the distance would become something else. Is this happening everywhere or only for Moonhollow?''
"Yeah, pretty much what they said. On our way through. Gonna cool our heels, stock up, maybe pick up some jobs to help us resupply, but really-" I shrug. "Didn't end up here on purpose."
"Ah, yes, it was quite the change of scenery! I believe Bonfire called it being 'Displaced'?"
She blinks. "The event?… Oh. You really are lost then. I'd heard rumors that some people had vanished afterward, but…" She rubs the back of her head. "There's… no easy way to say this, but that was one year ago."
"One year?…" Marisol looks dismayed.
"Maybe more. It's hard to say now. With the sun and moon gone it's hard to keep track of time. The whole world got turned upside down that day. We lost half of the village during it. Literally." She gestures at the cliff edge. "There used to be more land there. More people…"
Gawain seems lost for words, trying to comprehend the implications of it all. "…But where are we?"
"Hard to say. The whole world's been scrambled this last year. We've wanted to leave and try to get in touch with people outside, but anyone who leaves never comes back. We just don't have the resources to mount an expedition like that. Not enough people in this place, less so able bodied ones."
"Maybe… we could help? Like- help around here some, if there's anything to fix up, then go check around the nearby area. We managed to make it here, after all."
My knees go a little weak at the revelation, and I rub my forehead. "More than a year… I knew it was probably something like that, but that long? Jeeze. That's…" I sigh and let my hand drop back to my side. "Anyway, I guess we can just do what we can, yeah? Were they just gone, or did something happen to them? Maybe the rest of the village is just somewhere else in the echoes or something.">>756427
"Yeah," I agree with Rabi. "That's the plan, anyway. You who we'd talk to about that?"
"A year.. My word.." I trail off, Leaning against Rabi for support as the news hits me.
"I had no idea so much time had passed.. I had only assumed we had been teleported somehow, not flung into the future."
Aegis sat back and sighed, glaring a hole at the table
''One year… I wonder if time flows the same way in both sides''
Looking up at the Kirin mare, Aegis nods ''Very well, then we'll help in making one more expedition to the outside. My place is not here, and I'm sure my companions agree.''
Dalliance nods grimly. "I'm sorry to have to break it to you like this, but there's no easy way to talk about this sort of thing."
"Yeah. Guess we had to find out eventually," Violet comments.
At the mention of helping, she rubs the back of her head. "Well, we've been trying to mount a scouting mission, but there's bigger problems facing us than just not being able to leave. I think most everyone in this place wants to get out of here. Ideally we'd be traveling as a caravan once the way is clear, but…"
She trails off. "But what?" Aurora asks.
"Get down," she says sharply as she looks up at the skies. "Don't get their attention."
You notice some clouds starting to darken on the horizon, and you hear a faint rumble - then, what sounds like a high pitched bestial shriek echoing across the bay. You notice a couple of villagers freeze and run back inside in the distance. Dalliance rushes towards a nearby shed, urgently urging you to take shelter.
"I guess… it's to be expected, yeah. When's anything recently been calm, huh?" he offers, chuckling weakly. He flicks his ears and ducks down, running over towards Dalliance to take cover!
Hearing the screech, I gallop after Dalliance into the shed for cover!
"What now?" I whisper from around the shed's doorframe. "Some winged beast?"
Aegis moves in without a word, following Dalliance inside the shed. She prepares a spell in case a fight breaks out
'1d10+1' homing magic, iceRoll #1 7 + 1 = 8
Without questioning, I follow her, removing my spyglass from my rifle as I do. Great. Something flying we have to worry about now. Something apparently common enough to instantly know what they are at a glance. Peeking my head out, I bring the spyglass to my eye to get a better look.
[1d10]perceptionRoll #1 9 = 9
Dalliance closes the shed behind her, and you all huddle together to peer through the gap in the door.
The skies darken over the hamlet of Moonhollow, a dark cloud lingering over it all. With a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder, you see two serpentine forms emerge from the skies, dancing across the sky in graceful ribbon patterns. You can't get a good look at them from where you are, but they're big. Very big. The storm goes on for about a minute as the two serpentine creatures fly over the town, occasionally shrieking and calling to each other. Eventually, they seem to fly upward into their cloud, and retreat.
"And that's the other reason we can't really leave," says Dalliance matter of factly once the threat is gone. "They started showing up a few months ago. We've learned by now to avoid them while they're passing through. Problem is, they're always in the area."
She wrenches the shed door open. "So as you can see, we're not exactly in good shape to be heading out on any expeditions. Not with those storm beasts around. We don't know what they want, or why they're stopping us from leaving. But until we find a way to get rid of them, there's nowhere we can really go without being… well, incinerated." Aurora swallows nervously.
''Have you seen them attacking? What they are capable of doing?'' Aegis asks bluntly
"That's… something else, that's for sure. What do they do, exactly? Just… vaporize things?"
"Do they usually show up and leave that fast if they don't find anyone? Could always build camouflaged shelters while you're on the move. Have some canvas or somethin with a bunch of sticks or grass glued on. But yeah, I see why it's a little hard to actually even get gone to begin with."
I watch the clouds for a moment after the pair fly away.
"How curious.. Have you seen them move towards anywhere in particular? Perhaps their den is close by.
their den. They live in the skies and just wander across this whole area from time to time. Some folk think they're some sort of spirit, or a deity. Or maybe they really are just big monsters. Whatever the case, they definitely don't want us leaving Moonhollow.">>756489>>756490
"They seem to control the elements," she explains. "They live in that cloud they brought, and wind and lightning seem to bend around them. Plus, they're giant snakes. They could crush you in an instant.">>756491
She nods. "It's like they're on patrol. They seem more intelligent than common creatures. They're not just after food. We've tried offering them livestock, but they don't care for it. Part of me thinks they can be reasoned with, but, well, you try talking to a 300 foot long lightning snake."
''Hmmm… Do you know if there is a time where they rest? Maybe there's a window of time where they arent watching over Moonhollow''
"Mmm- That's, well… damn. Do they only appear occasionally? We might need to move, eventually."
"Hmm.. you mentioned a scouting mission, yes? If the village is trapped here for the moment, perhaps we drifters can scout the area for you?"
"I might," I say, giving a slight shrug. "Figuring out what they actually want seems like one way to go about it. Have you heard about anything like-" I go to glance down at my belt and freeze. My chest tightens a little as I suddenly realize what I was about to do. Taking a deep breath, I return to the conversation. "Anyway, I'm sure there's some way. So they've actually destroyed stuff, I guess?"
Dalliance shakes her head. "Not that I know of. They pass by maybe once every few days, but being up in the sky, it's hard to tell when they are and aren't around.">>756496
She blinks. "That could work. I mean, no one's come from outside in a long time. Maybe those things will leave you guys alone if you try to leave. …It might be a lot to ask, but if you're willing to try it, we'll give you all the help we can. Any supplies we have are yours. Just ask." >>756497
Dalliance gives you an odd look, but shrugs it off. "Yeah. Anyone that tries to escape gets fried sooner or later. But they don't go after people if they're staying behind these walls. Come to think of it, they only started showing up after we lost half the village a few months ago…"
"You think there's a connection?" Marisol prods.
"Maybe. Maybe. We just have no answers right now."
"Well, this is the only piece of civilization we've managed to find so far, so definitely willing to help. Especially if in the end we can get a little caravan going and get out to find others. Sounds more than worth the time and effort to me." I chuckle. "Guess I should wait to say that until after we've already been at it, though, huh?" I run my paw across the top of my head. "So, with no real trading goin on and not a whole lot of space to work with, I don't guess you folks really got a lot in your shop, huh? Was hoping to resupply some stuff that might be a little harder to come by, but from the sound'a things that might be a pipe dream right now. Oh! And if it's almost been a year-" I pull the clockwork orange viridust grenade off the hook on my waist and show it to Dalliance. "You haven't seen anything that looks like this around, have you? Should be growing on some vines or somethin."
"We'd certainly help, though supplies would depend on what you had in mind for scouting. How far we'll be ranging, where we're searching, what to look for, you know."
Aegis leans on her side, staring off at the clouds
''I dont like the idea of leaving it up to chance if those beasts will give chase to us or not. I think we should give it an attempt once we're ready''
The Crystal mare dismisses her icy magic ''Those monsters havent given us chase while we were walking through the wastelands before getting here. Maybe it was just luck, but if we can comfirm that they wont attack us drifters, it might be a clue to understanding how they operate, and what their goals are, keeping the people locked in Moonhololw''
"Damn… well, we'll have to be as quick as we can if we do need to move, huh? I'd hate to take supplies from you, though- you go through a lot as is."
"That was the plan," she nods. "Going out in a big caravan till we find someone else that's managed to survive all this. …Was."
She shakes her head. "We don't have much, but I'm sure if you talk to the shopkeeper, you'll find something of use. We have some supplies, especially for travel, but with the whole serpent situation…"
She examines the grenade. "Can't say I have. What is it?"
"A bomb," Violet offers helpfully.
She thinks. "Really what we need is someone to map out this whole area. If you could travel the surrounding lands, make note of what there is, and how difficult it would be to traverse, that'd be more than enough to start planning an exodus. Can any of you make a map?"
"I can," Marisol speaks up. "I've learned cartography before."
"Good, good. We should be able to provide whatever you need. Don't worry about the supply situation. We're actually quite well stocked. I'm sure people will be willing to part with wares if it's for this cause.">>756501
You see a faint spark of lightning flash across the sky in the direction the serpents left in.
Dalliance nods, considering this. "We certainly don't want you to get yourselves hurt in the process."
"Maybe we could just take it one step at a time?" Gawain suggests. "Leave as a group just to see if they'll pay heed to us. At the first sign of trouble from them, we could turn back. If they're trying to stop us from leaving, then surely they wouldn't attack if we do as they wish?"
''My worry, Master Gawain, is that we might not be able to find this place again once we leave. You remember what happened before? The landscape shifted when we werent looking. I say we leave only when we are absolutely sure, then we'll see if our efforts of mapping will do any good''
"Ah, a fair point. Cartography would be useless if the land changes.">>756503
"Has there been any obvious shifts in the land? from our time, we could scarcely find solid ground between the world shifting around us."
"Cartography? Well, that sounds perfect! What all would we need to do to help you draft a map?"
"It wasn't a bomb to start with," I clarify. "It was a metal fruit filled with wood, springs, and gears." I hook it back to my belt and sheepishly add, "But yeah. This one is a bomb."
I nod to Gawain. "Yeah. Testing the waters first would probably be a good idea. So that's the plan, then. Get kitted up, see how far we can get from the town before the sky snakes rain their wrath upon us, then mosey on back. Sounds good."
"It's definitely happened. Several times, actually. I thought it was the end of the world when it started happening when the sun went out. The last one was when we lost a chunk of the village. Then those snakes showed up, and ever since it's been quiet…"
Violet frowns. That makes no sense. We saw the world change just before we got here, three days ago. We saw it! This village was at the foot of a mountain, then it was on a cliff side."
Dalliance looks as confused as the rest of you. "Are you… sure you saw it right? We've always been a seaside village. Even before it ended up here in the Echoes."
Violet looks speechless.>>756506>>756507
"What he said," she nods in response to Norv. "Go out, see what lies outside the borders of the village, then come back with results. We can figure out what to do from there. I'd come with you myself if it weren't for those snakes…"
Aegis puts a hoof to her mouth, deep in thought
Then perks up slightly, a realization hitting her
''Wait, you said this village ended up here in the Echoes? You mean the whole village has been banished to this realm?''
I knit my brow. "Yeah. I assumed this place was just settled. Is something going on back in The Dominion?"
"Hmm.. well, hopefully the charts will remain accurate long enough to make use of them."
"What a strange situation we've found ourselves in.. But I suppose our the only thing we can do is work with the pieces we have."
"There should be enough sunlight to get started, and with luck the serpents wont be back for a while. Where could we gather mapping equipment?"
"Right- good to go, Marisol? I can help scout things out for you, if you want… if only there was a way to let you see what I see while I'm projecting." he remarks, frowning a little in thought.
She laughs humorlessly. "It's… a long story. I'm sure you don't want to hear it. Suffice to say this place has a pretty sordid past. Moonhollow's been in the Echoes for a long time now.">>756511
"Talk to the shopkeeper." She points out a building not far from Bonfire's inn. "Tell him what's going on, I'm sure he'll come around. He's been itching to get out of here for ages.">>756512
"Ready as soon as everyone else is," she nods. "We should stock up on what we can then move out."
"Ah. Right. Not gonna lie, I'm actually pretty curious, but I understand if you ain't super interested in actually talkin about it. It have somethin to do with those guys?" I point at the monument. "Either way, ready when everyone else is. I planned on hittin up the shop next, so this works out!"
Aegis gives Dalliance one of her illegible stares ''There could be a connection in that story. A hint to help us better understand the circumstances of Moonhollow. Long story or not, I'd be glad to listen. If you are willing to share''
"Right, a stop-in at the store for supplies, then we begin mapping." I reply, Following Norvy back towards the shop
"Right. I can… oh! Wait- if you give me a little bit of time, maybe I can
share vision. I think. Maybe. Would that help, Marisol?"
She looks amused under the helmet. "Tell you what. Do this job for us, and I can tell you all about it over drinks.">>756517
"Absolutely," Marisol nods. "We could cover even more ground that way, and faster too.">>756516>>756517>>756515>>756514
Dalliance nods. "I'll be around. Good luck, drifters. You coming here is a blessing. We'll do everything we can to help you."
"That went well," Marisol comments as you start heading to the shop. "No closer to getting answers, but at least we have some sort of direction."
Violet agrees. "Gotta make do with what we have I guess. No idea what we're going to do about the lightning snakes, but we'll make do."
"Helping this ailing town is its own reward!" Gawain remarks.
Aurora seems deep in thought. "Dalliance seems like a good sort. But what do you suppose she meant by the town having a sordid past? She seemed to want to dodge that conversation…"
''Tragic past, a misdeed… Maybe it was her fault the town had this fate. Whatever her reason for avoiding it, I'm interested in this story'' Aegis says, pacing herself to the shopkeeper's business
"Given our treatment thus far, I doubt it could be that
"We were unconscious for days
, with that much time any less scrupulous group could have easily exploited us then, yet we're more than alright."
"Perhaps they've changed their ways, if they were so bad? The echoes are full of those stories."
I grin and nod. "All you had to say was "drinks". Sounds like a plan.">>756518
I follow along with everyone else toward the shop. "Dunno. Places in the echoes kinda have a bleak past by default. Probably ties into the same story as how she got here, and we all got one of those, yeah? Can't really blame her for not wanting to talk about it."
"Okay, great! I, uhm… I think
I got this. I'm gonna do my thing- flop over and all, and… try touching me? Like, poke me- wherever really." he suggests, before settling down to sit.>Astral Projection
"Alright, let's try it."
She kneels down next to you as you slip into the Astral Plane. When you do, he touches your shoulder. She tenses up, squeezing her eyes shut with a grimace. "Gods… Okay, that's… a weird feeling. But it works. Wow. How do you get used to seeing yourself like that?…">>756521>>756520>>756519
"Yeah. Most people here aren't up for talking about their past," Violet agrees. "Probably a sore topic.">>756519>>756520>>756521>>756522
You head to the shop, a large wooden building with a low ceiling. Inside is homely; a rustic, sparsely decorated shop that doesn't look like it's been dusted in a long time. There are a few shelves with supplies and trinkets on display, as well as mounted weapons and armor. Behind the counter is a fat bipedal frog-like being, one of the Echoes natives known as Batrocs. He's snoring.
''Excuse me sir. Sir.
'' Aegis speaks up
''We are here to buy''
"It worked! It worked!" He whinnies, hopping up and down in the Astral Plane excitedly. He stops after a moment and looks away sheepishly, before saying "Rright. Uhm, sorry about that. Anyways… it takes some getting used to- it was really unsettling my first time too. Now, if this works, you should be able to see through my eyes, so… let's check things out, huh?" He suggests, starting to float off.>If I need a navigation roll? Just floating up for a better view, then scanning the area. [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
You start moving up higher, eventually getting a bird's eye view of the whole village. "Okay. Wow. That's not something you see every day. So this is what it feels like for winged folk, huh… I-I think I'm going to have to pull away though. Making me feel a bit nauseous. Sorry.">>756524>>756525>>756521>>756520
He opens one eye, then the other. "Eh? Wha? Customers? Customers!" He pulls himself together and stands up eagerly. "Sorry 'bout that. Welcome to me shop. I'm Morris. What can I do for you? Don't get new faces 'round here. Ever."
"Just lookin for some supplies. Gonna do a little scouting for the marshal, but a we just sorta drifted in without a whole heck of a lot to work with." I casually look around the store, just to get an idea of what he actually has before setting my mind on anything specific.
"A pleasure to meet you, Morris." I reply with a slight curtsy "I am Silver Song. Dalliance pointed us here for supplies prior to the scouting mission."
While introducing myself, I take a look at some of the mounted weapons for sale, feeling the empty sheath of my missing shiv shifting under my dress.
''We need supplies'' Aegis states bluntly before she starts browsing about ''What do you have that you think could interest us?''
"O-Oh, uhm… g-geez. Sorry, friend. I could pull back closer to the ground? I just wanted to make sure, you know… you got the right view you needed. Sorry." he offers, rubbing his neck a little.
"Oh, the marshal sent you? A-are you here to get us out of here then?" He sits up straighter. "Well, I'll do what I can! Don't have much, but I'm sure I can be of some use, some assistance. Just say the word."
Looking about, you find the following for sale:>Rations: Feeds one person for 3 days. 5 bits each.>Camping equipment: Includes a tent and 2 bedrolls. 10 bits each.>Firestarter: 10 bits>Rope: 5 bits/3 feet>Climbing gear: For steep inclines and such. 10 bits.>Torches: 2 bits each.>Aqua Vitae: Healing potions. Heals full hits and 1 wound. 20 bits each.>Medicinal herbs: For curing common ailments such as poison and non-magical diseases. 10 bits each.>Wards: Brittle stones with enchanted symbols, crushed to purge ailments of the magical sort. 15 bits each.
He also offers you free mapping equipment, which Marisol graciously accepts, and 50 bits worth of free gear for the cause.>>756528
You find a set of paired daggers among the other weapons. They are short, with wide curved blades. They seem suited for slashing more so than stabbing. You can tell that they are intended for combat, while also having an ornate, eye catching design.
"Don't worry about it," she answers as she recovers. "Definitely going to be useful in the future. How do you do that?"
>>756557>>756531>End Astral Projection
"I… hrm. Well, it's kind of like a magic piggyback ride? I help someone temporarily leave their body- it's kind of like that Astral Strike thing, but a little more…gentle? Willing?" he suggests, shrugging a little.
"It's kind of playing with what I know, and seeing what I can do. I've been working at other things, too- like… well, visions of the future."
Eying the ornate daggers with great interest, I flag morris down with a wing.
"These daggers here are quite lovely, what can you tell me about them? How much would they cost?"
I nod, rubbing my chin as I look the stuff in the shop over. "Yep. That's the idea, anyway." I glance back at the party. "Should definitely buy a few Aqua Vite. I can fit four doses into a canister, so I can medium range spritz heal four times before I have to reload. Right now I got two doses of the regular stuff and one dose of the superjuice left. Could definitely at least use two more if we can swing it."
Marisol does a double take. "Of the future? I didn't think it was possible… What do you see?"
"It's… hrm. I didn't think it was possible, either. But, I kept thinking about those memories I'd get when I'd Astrally Project before. They were, well… visions of the past. and if you can get visions of the past, maybe you can get visions of the future, right? It's… hrm. It's really hard to describe how I got it to work. It's really brief- a few seconds or so brief- and it's typically not super far in the future. For the most part, I tend to see what I'd see." He explains, before humming a little. "It's not perfect, though- and I doubt it ever will be. It's got a… hrm. I'd call it a flaw, but I don't really think it is."
She listens intently. "Not a flaw at all," she agrees. "Being able to see things before they happen is a rare gift. We're lucky to have you on our side."
Her expression changes suddenly. "…Before?… You mean, you can't see her sister anymore?"
"Nono, I meant- it's not perfect. I can see what's probably
going to happen. I've been trying with little things here and there. Most of the time, what I see happen is what happens. Though, not always. That's why I've kinda limited myself to stuff that's going to happen soon- if I look at something way far off, it's harder to know how likely it really is." he explains. "And… thanks. I'm just happy that I can help." he says, nickering a little and flicking his ears.
"And… yeah. I haven't gotten any visions of her since the whole Union thing. I don't feel the same changes that were happening. Maybe the link broke, somehow? Someone else might've found a way?"
She bites her lip in worry. "Then she's either dead, or Grosvenor actually did it… Shit. Gods know what's happened in the last year. Still trying to wrap my head around that."
She pinches the bridge of her nose in quiet frustration. "Nothing we can do about it right now I guess. Let's just join up with the others." She's very terse all of a sudden.
"Wait… what did Grosvenor do to her? Was there something she had planned? He asks, biting his tongue almost immediately after and folding his ears back. "I, uh… sorry. I didn't mean to upset you, Marisol."
She looks away. "She… After our parents were killed she took us in. Raised us like daughters. She made us into her slaves. Trained us to kill since we were six years old. If we dared to disobey she'd beat us. And worse…"
"Elaina tried running away once. When she was caught, Grosvenor used her in her arcane experiments. Turned her into… that. She said if we ever disobeyed again, we'd be stripped of ourselves. Remade into meat puppets. Like those… those clockwork things…"
She swallows. "Elaina was meant to kill me back there," she says, her voice quavering slightly. "But she couldn't. And now I don't know what's going to happen to her. I need to save her from whatever she's become. …And if I can't, I need to avenge us."
She wipes her eyes. "I-I'm sorry. You don't have to listen to this. We'll figure things out when we get to them. Right?"
"No, no no no- if you need to talk more, it's okay to." Rabi says, pulling the Felid into a soft hug and settling on to his haunches again. "I'll… I'll keep trying to find her, if I can. I'll do everything I can to help you save her, too."
"And… I'm sorry you had to go through all of that at such a young age. I can't say mine was perfect, but… at least I never had anyone trying to do that kind of thing to me. Trying to take away what made me… me. I promise, I won't let Grosvenor hurt you, or your sister."
She tenses up as you hug her, looking uncomfortable with being touched. She pulls away instinctively.
"…Th… thanks," she says after a while. "For helping, I mean. I'm sorry you got dragged into my problems, but I'm glad I met you." She manages a smile, then stands back up after a few moments, heading towards the shop where the rest of the party are. "Come on. They're probably wondering what's taking so long."
"Hey- everyone here's like family, in a way. I wasn't 'dragged in' to your family problems, 'kay? I'm happy to help, no matter what." he offers, letting her free from the hug once he notes the discomfort and offering a friendly smile. "And… right- let's get on back."
''Then we'll get a couple Aqua Vitae. We shouldnt pass them up If you can multiply their worth. I suggest at least one magical ward might be useful as preemptive measures. Never know what we will be dealing with in the future, so we'll have to expect the unexpected''
"Hm?" He waddles over. "Oh, these things. Picked them up in a bulk deal from a foreign caravan years ago. Back when we actually got traffic. Been gathering dust ever since. Still sharp though! Reckon they'd do right by you. I'm not much of a fighter. Never have been.">Keen Twindaggers: single/dual, crits on 9+. Gives access to the Backstab skill.>>756564>>756586
"Good thinking," Violet nods as she browses the shop. "Especially if we're going up against those giant sky snakes. How many should we get?"
Morris does a double take. "Whoa, wait, hold on. You're taking those monsters on? That's suicide!"
"Well, someone has to do something," Marisol points out. "We might not be able to fight them head on, but maybe there's another way…"
"A conundrum for the ages," Gawain chimes in. He doesn't have much more to add.
''I will leave the decision to Master Norvegicus and Master Silver, as I have no more bits to contribute'' Aegis says, stepping to the side and giving the weapons on display a brief glance before turning to Morris ''Tell me, where have your gotten those Wards from? Do you know who makes them?''
"Hey, everyone- we got that scouting taken care of for the maps. Got to try out a neat new trick, too… what's everyone gotten so far?">Purchase: 1 ration (4 total), 2 Aqua Vitae
''A ward or two should be good… And we might need some camping equipment, enough to share among all of us, though I still have mine. Havent had the chance to use it yet, but now that we have lost the Fortune…''
"Scouting first. Snakes second. From the look of things fighting them might be off the table, but yeah. Someone has to do something." I think for a moment. "Well, at least six would be nice. That way I can have two full canisters if we don't pass any around, but still have a full tank if we do. Don't want to spend all of our money on just those, but we definitely at least gotta keep some on hand. Honestly up to everyone else if they wanna keep some on them just in case. I can only hit one'a you at a time." I look up at the shopkeeper. "Oh, you got any tools? I think mine are scattered somewhere out there. Just normal buildin or craftin tools and stuff. Don't gotta be anything fancy."
I run my hand across the top of my head and hum. "Maybe we should grab a few torches too. We been usin the lights from Z's spell, but as long as she's out we can't really do that…"
''Very well pointed out Master Norvegicus. I have my own lights as well, but I cant give those to you like Zunden could''>buying 5 torches, 2 wards, 2 medicinal herbs
"Excellent, I was just looking for a replacement!">-60 bits
taking hold of the daggers to test their weight, I make sure to grab a ration pack before heading to the counter with the few items.>-5
"I don't believe we'll be gone long, but I suppose you can't rely on space and time as a constant these days, better safe than sorry."
>>756587>6 Aqua Vite
"So the tools, the potions… Oh, and any kind of lantern oil or anything?"
"Hey! Glad you got some replacements, sweetie. Do they feel right enough for you?" Rabi asks, nuzzling against the mare softly.>>756587
"So… map-making. How do we do this, Marisol?"
"Make them myself!" he says proudly. "Or… I did, at least. I used to be pretty good at magic, but over time I've just… lost the knack, I guess. And the tools. Tools are useful. Heh. But mostly just the spark's gone. Can't really explain it any better. Ever since the sun vanished, I just can't do it anymore…">>756592>>756595
Morris thinks. "Hmmm… Nope, don't have any tools. The torches come with oil to light them, though. Could use that," he suggests.>>756596
"Well, I can do most of the actual mapping. I'm good that that. I'd just need you to actually scout when we're out there, and do your magic… thing." She seems lost for words at the moment. "What you did before to show me. I don't think it'll work if we're just sitting around out here though. An overhead view is useful and all, but if we're not in the field ourselves testing our skills against the wilds, then we won't have much to report to Dalliance other than the basic geography. Know what I mean?">>756592>>756593>>756594>>756590
Aurora clears her throat at the mention of Zunden. "About that. We've been talking, and I think it's better if we both sit this one out. Zunden and I, that is. We'll stay here in town, at the inn. Seems like a good place to stay awhile and help out."
-5 rations - 25
-5 torches - 10
-2 wards - 30
-2 herbs - 20
-8 heals - 160
-twindaggers - 60
-total: 305 bits, -50 credit: 255
Morris goes around and gathers your things, putting everything into neat little bundles for you to gather. "Thanks, good chums! Always good to have new faces around here!"
"Right! We'll just have to keep up with it. I'll, ya know… limit it- I don't want to make you sick again."
"That's fine, Aurora. Take care of her- please. We've lost enough as this has all unfolded… I don't want to lose anyone else." he says, rubbing at his neck. "We'll try to come by and visit- I will, at the least."
I sigh. "Darn. Maybe I can ask around, but not many people to ask. Alright, thanks anyway. And yeah, that should do the trick." I grab my potions and put them away.
I look up at Aurora and knit my brow, not sure if I should actually say anything. After a moment, I finally decide and clear my throat. "She, uh… How's she doing?"
Aegis's expression is unchanging ''That is awful. I hope you recover your passion some day''
Then she turns to Aurora
''Very well. If anyone can keep her safe it will be you, Aurora. Please dont forget what we learned together and keep training whenever you have the chance. We might be lucky and find another Harbinger to stay in touch''
She takes a moment to unsheath the daggers, feeling the weight out and giving a few test motions, before nodding.
"Oh yes, these will do just fine, dear." She replies, returning the affection. >>756598
"Not a problem, Morris, a pleasure to meet you as well!" I reply, taking my bundle with a nod.>>756597
I pass between zunden and Aurora a knowing look, before nodding.
"For the best, it seems. We'll be certain to relay what we find as soon as we return, you two."
"I will. Thanks, Rabi. Don't be a stranger.">>756601
She can't seem to find the words at first. "……She'll get there. Eventually.">>756602
"Well, this isn't goodbye!" she explains. "Just see-you-later! You guys are coming back, after all. I'm sure there's nothing out there you can't handle.">>756603
She nods back. "We'll be around. Someone needs to liven things up around here.">>756603>>756602>>756601>>756600
With your provisions sorted, you head for the gate leading out of town. Aurora and Zunden follow you to the exit, and say their farewells there. You see Dalliance making the rounds in the distance. She takes a moment to salute you as you go to leave.
"Do you think they'll be okay on their own?" Violet asks. "Zunden and Aurora, I mean."
"They're in good hands!" says Gawain. "Zunden just needs some time off, is all. And Aurora is stronger than she knows. We'll be together again before we know it!"
The three circular runes in lieu of a sun hang above you as you exit the seaside town of Moonhollow. The craggy hills ahead loom ominously, yet even in the gloomy setting, there are little glimmers of beauty to this place. It's almost comfortingly open and quiet.
There are three paths you could take to explore:
Off to the left, the hills turn into cliff faces, forming a set of rocky gorges, ravines and caves. Difficult to traverse, but not impossible. Mapping this place would be essential for anyone looking to leave Moonhollow, as it is essentially a natural maze.
Ahead, the vegetation grows more sparse, giving way to a series of rock formations connecting with the ravines off to the left. It would be fairly easy going, were it not for the plethora of rocky spires and boulders obstructing the path.
Ahead is flatter terrain, sloping gently downward into a dense woodland region. This is the way you arrived from, though it is now covered in a layer of dense fog. You could retrace your steps and take in your surroundings more properly now.
"I won't. Promise." He says, giving Aurora a hug. He holds it for a few moments, before pulling away and sighing. "I wish I could've helped her more.">>756604
"I'm… hmm. Maybe the hills and cliff faces? Between Silver and I, we can spot out the right way to go. I don't know how I feel about the fog…"
''It might be harder without the both of you. I hope the world will be kinder to us than in the past'' Once at the gate, Aegis gives Aurora a curt bow before leaving. 'Indeed, Aurora has a strong will and a natural talent, she only needs to confidence to use them''>>756605
''Well, any path we take will have ways of avoiding the Serpent's sight and wrath, so I agree on the Cliff faces. A good place to start''
I just give her a nod. On the way out I take the time to pour two of the Aqua Vite into my potion canister to fill it up, seal it, and lock it into my bandolier. I do the same with a single oil canister, actually locking it into my sprayer. >1 Aqua Vite canister [4 Uses]>1 High Aqua Vite canister [1 Use]>1 Oil Canister>3 Empty canisters >>756604>>756605
"I say we either start with where we came from or over at those rock formations. We probably shouldn't mess around with the caves and cliffs without climbing gear. Should probably grab some back in town before going out there."
"Ah, excellent point. I might be able to avoid the fall, but the others wouldn't be so lucky.. perhaps the spires are a safer option for now."
''I suppose'' Aegis says flatly, ready to follow into the Spires.
"Not like we can't just check the other way if this turns out to be a bust anyway. Just seems like the safest option, and probably also the quickest to rule out." When everyone else starts moving, I head to the rocks.
"Seems reasonable enough," Violet nods. Marisol brings up the rear, taking in the landscape and filling in the map as you go along.
As you leave Moonhollow, there is a faint rumbling. Looking skyward, you see the clouds moving unnaturally fast. Closer glimpses reveal slender reptilian forms shifting within the clouds. The serpents are watching you.
You approach the rocky region. It is bereft of any plantlife, save for the occasional shrub or struggling sapling. The terrain is plain, consisting of dirt and stone. All around you are the stone formations you noticed, boulders for the most part, but occasionally you see what can only be described as spires. These odd formations are like huge stone spikes, towering upwards for dozens of feet, culminating in a sharp, pointed tip. You are reminded of the central hive in the Shifting Sands.
"How curious," Gawain comments as you pass the third one of these. "Do you suppose they're natural formations?"
"Not like anything I've ever seen," says Marisol. "Then again, given the circumstances, I don't think anything here is natural."
"Are we going the right way?" Violet asks uncertainly. "I think we went in a circle. I swear I've seen that boulder before.">roll Navigation
''What if we marked the spires with something? It would help ensure we dont get lost and would be a guide for anyone traversing here in the future''
'1d10' NaviRoll #1 7 = 7
"Probably not natural," I agree. I shudder a little as I think of the hive. Maybe I should try to get a better look. I pull out my spyglass and level it at one of the spires.
[1d10]NavRoll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
"Natural? Hard to say, really… weather can do crazy things on its own, but there's plenty of supernatural stuff here that could add to that, I wager. As for the right way… I unno, lemme try guessing it out…">Precognition: +3 to the Navigation Roll. Crit on a 9+ [1d10+3]Roll #1 5 + 3 = 8
"The serpents are aware of us, yet they've opted to leave us be, for now.. How curious. perhaps they really are
only after the village.."
[1d10] NavigationRoll #1 6 = 6
"Good thinking," Marisol nods. "We should probably point the way back towards town, so we know which way to go as well, not just where we've been." She holds up one finger and extends its claw, scratching a crude arrow on the side of the spire. Their surface, while made of stone, seems to lend itself to carvings.>>756613
You examine them a bit closer. They are made of dark brown stone, bursting upwards from the ground and… curving? It's as if they sprouted, or were built, in a slight curved pattern, arcing slightly along their surface. You count six of them at least, of varying heights, though there seem to be more.
Marisol shields her face from the sun to observe them alongside you. "What do you suppose they are?" she asks curiously.
"Big rocks," Violet deadpans, taking initiative and starting to climb one to get a vantage point. She gives up halfway, running out of footing.
"They don't look natural at all," Marisol continues. "Something's fishy.">>756614
You take a moment to use your newfound clairvoyant powers. You get visions of you and your companions getting lost multiple times, allowing you to cross off some of the possible paths ahead.
"Uh, you okay there?"
Violet tilts her head in slight confusion. "Didn't know you could float like that."
You become aware that you are floating a few feet off the ground, doubtless a side effect of your clairvoyance. "You need a hand getting down?" Marisol stares from the sidelines in slight confusion as you find yourself floating back down. It's a slightly disorienting feeling.>>756615
"How queer," Gawain comments. "It seems that anyone can come and go, except for its original inhabitants. Why would they be imprisoned in their own homes so?"
"Maybe there's something they're not telling us," Marisol ponders. "Something that those twin snakes don't want getting out.">>756615>>756614>>756613>>756612
As you do reconnaissance in this area, you start to get a good idea of the way forward.
Correction: you count five of them in the immediate vicinity, though there seem to be more on the horizon. Marisol does a quick count and maps the way forward.>>756615>>756614>>756613>>756612
As you do reconnaissance in this area, you start to get a good idea of the way forward. Just as you're ready to press on past this little maze, though, you see a flash in the sky, and a streak of rainbow light. Just past the maze of spires, in your path, is another one of those reality bending seals, charred into the ground by magic. "Another one of these," Marisol comments. "Let's not touch it this time and let it do its thing. Gods know what we triggered last time…"
On another note, it seems that past the claw-like spires is a cliff face. It should give you a good view of the region as a whole, speeding up the mapping process significantly.>roll Perception
''I was thinking of using some kind of tincture or paint to mark it, but that will do for now''>>756621
Aegis squints as she watches the charred seal marked on the ground ''Marisol'' She speaks up, turning to the felid ''Write down the spot where this mark appeared on the map. It is a stretch but someone in Moonhollow might know of its nature, and it might still be here once we're back''
'1d10' perceptionneRoll #1 7 = 7
Rabi blinks a couple of times as he snaps out of his trance, and realizes… he's floating. The stallion fails his legs a little and whinnies, before saying "A-Ah. I Didn't know I did that either. I was checking out what paths would and wouldn't work… I've narrowed it down some!"
He lets out a nervous chuckle, and says "And… yeah, help down would be nice."
"Not another rune.." I groan, taking flight to avoid it as fly towards the Cliff's edge and a bit beyond.
"I had hoped Zunden would be able to glean the rune's meaning, though in her state.."
I wince as the thought trails off.
"Better to check with the town, for now."Roll #1 2 = 2
"Not sure," I say. "But I agree that they're kinda weird. Even more outta place than everything else." I shrug. "Oh well. Doesn't change anything. Maybe get a closer look if we get the chance. Could always check one of them out before we leave.">>756621
I shy away from the seal, wincing a little.
I point up at the cliff. So, we headed there? Looks like we'll actually be passing the claw rock things anyway. Maybe get a look at them on the way if they're actually anything important. The main thing I'm worried about is something having made them instead of them being natural."
[1d10]PerceptionRoll #1 7 = 7
You turn to her, only to find her drawing a crude circle on the map already. "One step ahead of you. Might mean something to the locals.">>756623
Violet reaches out, but you find yourself descending gently of your own will. "I guess that comes with the package," Marisol remarks. "Never was much for magic myself. Despite Grosvenor's wishes.">>756624
"Better to keep away from them," Violet agrees. "World's changed, after all. Who knows what'll happen if we mess with them. We need answers before we go poking things again.">>756625
"So it would seem," says Gawain, leaning back to get a full scope of the cliff. "Our mission is to observe, however, not to interfere," he points out. "I say we find a way up that cliff, take a look around, perhaps press on a little farther depending on what awaits us at the top. Then head back and be back home in time for dinner!">>756625>>756624>>756623>>756622
After making your way past the strange spires, you survey the sheer rock face ahead of you. There are two options that you can see:
The first one is to take a narrow, difficult path along the cliffside, hiking up the rocky face to reach the summit. This would be the faster option, but without climbing equipment, there is a risk of injury or worse if you're not careful.
The second option is to go around. The cliff face slopes gently downward to the east, allowing you to climb the hill by going through a dead forest. This would be safer, but it would take much longer. You'd most likely have to camp for the night instead of making it back to Moonhollow.
"Hmm… Decisions, decisions," Gawain ponders. "Perhaps we won't be home in time for dinner after all."
"We've gone through worse," Violet says confidently. "This is just like that volcano at the Isle. I say we take the cliff path."
"If only Dawn were still here," Marisol laments. "We could skip this easily. Do we have enough supplies to camp for the night? If so I think we should do so and go around."
''We are in no rush, So lets go around. I still have my camping equipment from before, I brought enough for one, but should be enough for us to share for a night or two''
I nod to Gawain. "Yeah. Sounds like a plan to me."
I knit my brow as I look up at the cliff. "Can't Gawain just fly Marisol up there with my spyglass? She's the mapmaker here. Would be nice to get a good look ourselves, but having an idea of everything is still good."
"It wouldn't be ideal, But I suppose we could take the path around.">>756628
"Ah, excellent idea, Norvy. We could complete a fair bit of the map that way, Provided the two of them don't mind."
"Ah, though given the scale of the mountain range, perhaps we should reconsider.." I chuckle, realizing the distances from here.
"Mmm. Yeah, most of the time I practiced it I was on my own, you know? Never really saw it." Rabi says, humming a little. "Anyways… we have the supplies to camp, I think- but between Gawain and Silver, we might be fine ascending the difficult path- I can try to see the best way to go up it."
"I, er, don't think I'm strong enough for that," Gawain admits sheepishly.
After a bit more back and forth, the majority wins out, and you start the long trek around the cliff face to hike up the hill instead. I It's a drab landscape, and dreary going, with the long dead skeletons of the trees rising up all around you. It takes up several hours. By the time you start nearing the summit, it's starting to get dark. It seems there's still day and night, despite the absence of a sun or a moon.
As you progress, mapping the way as you go, you see something flashing through the trees ahead. It looks like the same kind of magic that heralds the creation of runes, only this one didn't come from the sky. Violet draws her swords in caution. "What new devilry is this?" Gawain mutters, drawing closer and reaching for his zweihander. "Be careful," Marisol warns. "Let's hope whatever comes out of there isn't hostile. We're almost to the top."
''It must be hostile, if it didnt draw the wrath of the serpents'' Aegis mutters, preparing her usual spell
'1d10+1' Homing Magic, iceRoll #1 5 + 1 = 6
"I mean we're not drawing the wrath of the dragons either. Not yet at least." I check the canister of Aqua Vite in my sprayer, slot it back in, and try to summon three rats, just in case.
[1d10]Conjure Minion, ImproviseRoll #1 9 = 9
"Hrm… well, that could be dangerous. Here's hoping it's friendly." He says, readying his bow.
Spotting the lights in the distance, I duck behind some of the dead trees for cover
"Careful, the landscape as changed as it is we won't know what to expect out here."Roll #1 3 = 3
You ready yourselves for the worst: Norv summons some rats, while Silver hides behind some trees and Aegis conjures an icy spear to strike with. The rest of you draw your weapons as the rune continues to spark and glow, brighter and brighter. Tension builds to a boiling point…
There's a magical pop
. When the light fades, there's nothing there but a small box. Looking inside reveals a welcome sight; a wooden Harbinger, in the shape of what looks like a very large, heavyset, serious-faced rodent. It reminds you of Aegis somehow.
"Oh. False alarm," Gawain says in mild surprise. Violet breathes a sigh of relief as she sheathes her weapons. "Phew. Thought we were in for it." Marisol isn't too sure, staying wary, but nothing more seems to happen. "Lucky find," she remarks. "We can use this, actually, if we need to send word to the villagers on anything that happens out here."
''But who sent this? I expected there to be message attached to this Harbinger'' Aegis says as she picks it up with teleknesis
Stepping out from behind the tree, I examine the Harbinger for a moment, looking between Aegis and the rat in curiosity before heading back to the path.
"What a curious find. You don't suppose it has a message still?"
I laugh. "Well, better to be prepared and not need it. I'm not complaining."
''What?'' Aegis asks, deadpan
"That's… hey! Something good- that's definitely a nice change of pace. What a handy little thing, too."
"N-nothing." I reply.
"Will you be holding onto the harbinger? As i recall you still have our remaining messenger, yes?"
The resemblance is haunting.>>756638>>756639>>756640>>756642
There doesn't seem to be a message attached to it. It stays inert, staring blankly and judgmentally out at the world.
"Well, we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, in any case," Gawain points out. "Who wants it?" Violet asks. "I mean I'll take it if no one else wants it."
Marisol takes the opportunity to survey the landscape, running up ahead to the edge of the cliff. Though it's getting dark out, her feline eyes let her see just fine, mapping out the landscape. "Huh. There's another cluster of those rock tower things. Five more, ten in total." She shrugs. "…We should see about making camp. Maybe somewhere not as open as this. I can see in the dark just fine, but the rest of you can't. And we could all use some rest after today's expedition besides." Gawain nods and takes to the air, scouting for a suitable place to hole up for the night.
Seeing Gawain take flight, I join suit, using what's left of the light to double our efforts of shelter finding.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 7 = 7
''No, I lost the one I had. We'll share this, but I'll hold on to it. Speak to me if you wish to use it'' Aegis says as she bags the Capybara and begins unpacking some of the camping equipment ''I have a tent for one, but its big enough I think I can share with someone else except Gawain and Marisol''
"I'll take it if nobody minds. Wouldn't mind replacing the one I lost."
I look up at the sky. "Yeah, it's probably for the best if we set up camp. Are the rocks just all clustered together? So two clusters of five?"
"Right- let's make camp, everyone!">Camp setup roll? [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
''I mind. I also had one I lost and wish to replace'' Aegis speaks up, holding the Capybara magically
"Looks like it. Come see for yourself."
You can't really see for yourself because of the dark, but you can make out their silhouettes on the horizon. There's about ten, each of varying lengths. "Wonder what it means," she muses as she maps out the area. "Or if they mean anything at all.">>756646>>756648>>756647>>756645
After a bit of searching, you find two places you could hole up for the night. Quite literally. You find an extremely large dead tree, whose roots have grown to form a sort of cave to hole up in. Luckily, no animals have nested here, at least not recently. You should be able to sleep here for the night, though it's not exactly comfortable. "I've slept in worse," says Marisol. "Better here than out in the open."
"Is it me or has it been really quiet today?" Violet remarks as you set up camp. "I thought we'd be running into killer monsters or something. But nothing. So far at least. Suppose that's a good thing."
Marisol gets a fire going, then takes time to flesh out her map. "How much farther should we go tomorrow?" she asks. "Still got plenty of room on this thing."
"Oho!" Gawain looks around the root cavern, exploring its interior. "It goes quite a way back! And down! It seems we're sitting atop a significant cave system here, my friends! Do watch your step!"
I cock an eyebrow. "Oh?" I hum. Didn't expect anyone to contest my claim. "Well, we're both mature adults. I'm sure we can find a way to settle this. Wish I had my cards or some dice. That'd be an easy option. How about-" I dig around in my pocket and pull out a coin, holding it up in front of me. I show her both sides, showing it has both a heads and a tails. "We flip for it? I get it on heads, you on tails. Just for now. Find a better way to decide later.">>756650
"Yeah," I agree. "Definitely slept in worse. And actually come to think of it have we fought anything yet? There was, what, that prowler? And it ran away. It's kinda weird how quiet its been in general. Not just today."
"yes, it's quite unusual." I reply, nodding.
"You'd expect something
to make itself known, yet beyond a single prowler a few days ago, nothing."
Sitting near the fire, my relaxation is interrupted by Gawain's find. getting back onto my hooves, I make my way back towards the griffon further in the structure to investigate.
"Oh no.. The last
thing we need would be an animal making its way up from the caves.."
Aegis squints slighty, staring at the coin in silent judgement for a few seconds
''Very well'' She relents ''But have someone else other than you or me toss it Master Norvegicus''>>756650
''I am fine with the calm. I despise having to fight without anything to gain from it'' Aegis says as she sets down her own small tent inside a corner of the tree>>756652
''We could take turns watching. Actually we should do that even without the treat of animals coming out from within the caves''
"As for the map, We'll need to make sure to take our provisions into account. We'll need just as much for the return as we would venturing out, effectively halving our total distance."
I shrug. "Works for me." I hold up the coin. "Hey! Can someone else toss this for us?"
''I still have these'' Aegis holds up a small package and opens it, revealing some kind of dull biscuits ''These are rations my family prepared to me before I was sent off to the Echoes. They taste terrible but can substitute a meal…''
"Hey, this seems like a pretty decent spot, honestly! Not an honest bed, but it's… cozy, in its own way!" Rabi says, helping do what he can to set things up. "A cave system, huh? Well, we could always check it out- or, mark it and come back another time! Both sound rather doable, though we might want to report back a little sooner…"
"That would be fine as well. I had bought a pack of rations whilst we were in town, So in theory we've enough for quite the distance if we eat sparingly."
"Yeah, I, uh… I didn't bring anything. I got an endless supply of mead, though, if you don't mind the possibility of a war horn blowin in your face instead? Any takers? I'll trade for some food."
"Are you sure they haven't expired by now?" Marisol asks, eyeing them with suspicion. "I think we have rations anyway.">>756655
"Sure." Marisol takes the coin and flips it.
"We should be grateful for the quiet, I suppose," says Marisol, rolling up the map and stretching like a cat. "After everything we've been through, we deserve a break."
"Ironic, isn't it," says Violet. "We spend so long fighting for peace, and when we finally get it, we feel antsy."
Gawain thinks. "Do we have any way to seal it off for the night? Perhaps with rocks, or vines?…" He starts looking around for something to protect the group from unwanted guests.
"Hm. It might be worth the while to map out those caves as well, actually," Marisol points out. "I could easily draw something on the reverse side. Maybe we should check it out in the morning."
"Might not be a bad idea to see about finding more food as well," Violet points out. "Might be something we can forage around here."Roll #1 1 = 1
''These are meant to last for years. I dont know exactly how they are made, but its pure nutrients, packed into a completely dried out dough''>>756660>>756659
Aegis glares at the coin, as it flies through the air, then closes her eyes briefly as she sees the result, unable to hide her disappointment
''Very well'' She magically levitates the Capybara to Norv ''It is yours''
"Nothing on my end, I think. I don't have much, if any building materials, or even the knowledge of how to do it! Sorry."
I grin as I take the Capybara and my coin back, pocketing them both. "Thank you. Wouldn't mind upping the odds if you wanted to keep going.">>756660
"Yeah. Guess it's something we're just not used to. Just kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop, y'know? Makes it hard to relax."
Aegis gives Norv a neutral look with the slighest hint of curiosity ''Upping the odds?'' She repeats
"hmm.. I suppose while we have a chance I can search for something of use here. My notes are damaged, and my kit is gone, but maybe I can find something to preserve for later."
I shrug. "Yeah. Up the stakes. You put something else into the pot and play me for it. Maybe wager two things, and I wager it and something else. Then we flip again. Winner take all."
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 2 = 2
Roll #1 3 = 3
''I dont think I have anything you would be interested in, Master Norvegicus'' Aegis says, holding up her bag
'1d10' percepttioRoll #1 4 = 4
"Well, we have been gone for a year," Marisol points out. "May I?"
At your approval, she takes a biscuit and tries it. Not much of a reaction. "Hm. Doesn't taste like much. But more importantly they're edible still.">>756665
Violet looks up. "There's an idea. We could both go scavenging, why not. Or at least keeping an eye out as we go.">>756668>>756667>>756669>>756670
As Gawain looks around for something to block the cavern entrance, you don't see anything from where you are; until Rabi notices a portion of the roots on the ceiling. It's large and heavy enough to block the way, but cutting it loose is the tricky part. It's well embedded, and simply wrenching it off could cause the shelter to become unstable. Not to mention the weight of it. It'd be a team effort to cut the root loose and prevent a nighttime ambush.
"Well," I say, pulling on the Mournwing cloak. "You could stop hounding me about this-" I pull out the ball of sinew. "And this. And I'll put the harbinger up. How's that sound?">>756671
I look up at the roots and tilt my head. "Any way I can actually help with that? Don't have anything to cut with so I'd need to borrow something."
Seeing the root, I ponder what to do to cut it down.
"That would certainly work, though I've no tools for cutting it down. Daggers and shivs make for poor axes, and the blades would be ruined without a sharpener."
''It isnt supposed to taste like anything. Its just nutrients'' She repeats ''The provider told my family that one biscuit is enough to keep a pony going for 8 hours of heavy work. I dont know if it is enough for a felid though, so you might have to take another''
''I am no help for cutting, but why take the time and effort to try this? We can just save our strenght and time by setting up a night watch instead''>>756672
''Hmm… I accept, but I rather wait until we can settle this properly instead of leaving it up for a coin''
"This does remind me I really should find a hatchet for personal use." I muse "It would be perfect in pulling up roots and tough plants for brewing."
"Eh, that's fair. Just got a little overeager, I guess. Been a while.">>756675
"Yeah. Actually kinda funny we don't have a single axe between us, now that I think about it. That's something you'd always expect any hiker or adventuring type to have ."
Rabi's eyes briefly glow as he freezes in place, and shakes it off before saying "Oh! Those roots. It'd be a team effort, but if we cut them loose it'd do good at keeping us safe!"
"No need for a night watch if we barricade ourselves in," Violet points out. "We can be better rested for tomorrow.">>756676
"We should do something about that next chance we get," Marisol chimes in. "We really should be stocking up on tools.">>756677>>756674>>756673>>756672
It becomes increasingly obvious that blocking the path won't be an option. "Damn. Guess we should set up watch then," says Marisol. "I'll take the first watch."
"I can at least set something up. Just a quick bell tripwire around the area in case something comes around. Gimme 10 or 15 and I'll have it." I pull out the ball of sinew and the bell that's just a normal bell now. "Probably not loud enough to wake us up, but at least enough to get whoever is on watch a heads up to be alert."
[1d10]Improvise [if needed for setting it up.]Roll #1 6 = 6
"A night watch it is, then."
"do let me know when it's my turn." I add, before returning to the fire to get ready for bed.
"Oh, good idea!" Marisol nods in approval as Norv sets up a makeshift warning bell across the cave entrance.
After a meager dinner of rations, you fall asleep one by one, in varying states of comfort. It's damp, windy, and uncomfortable down here, but it's what you have to work with.
You do your best to get some rest, eventually nodding off to sleep, until…BOOM
A deafening clap of thunder jolts you all awake. Marisol is standing near the exit to the outside, hackles up and claws bared. "It's them," she whispers urgently. "Those snakes. They're on the move."
Sure enough, poking your head outside reveals the twin snakes. Bringing a thunderstorm with no rain, you can see their gargantuan heads descending from the sky, slowly but surely moving in your direction. Each one is the size of a house, easily able to swallow you whole. Their eyes shine bright white, like floodlights, staring directly at you, illuminating you in their glow. "That… doesn't look good," says Gawain, backing away nervously. "How are we meant to fight that?
" Violet asks, retreating warily. "Should we stand our ground?" Marisol asks. "Or run for it?"
"Oh, uhm… hrm. M-Maybe we should dip into the caves? But, if we dipped into the caves and they collapsed the entrance… man, I don't know what's best here."
"Yeah, the more I see them the more I feel like fighting them isn't really an option." I let out an awkward laugh. "Maybe they just wanna talk?"
Startled awake, I stare wide-eyed as the shelter is illuminated like the midday sun.
"No cover to hide, ill-equipped to fight something like them.."
"We've no choice, gather your things and make for the cave!" I shout over the thunder, Grabbing my pack before retreating down the tunnel.
''I doubt their intention is to talk, and we wont reasonably have means to outrun them. We have to move in on the cave'' Aegis says, swiftly packing up her things the best she can
You barrel into the caves, scrambling to grab your belongings. By some miracle you manage to get everything. Marisol sprints forwards on all fours, slipping through the crack in the wall, Violet following shortly after. Gawain brings up the rear, but struggles in place, his armored bulk struggling to squeeze through the rocks. He kicks and pushes, straining to join you.
One of the serpents slithers inexorably through the cave entrance, fixing its gaze on Gawain. All of a sudden, he freezes up as he is exposed to its lantern eyes, staring limply into the light. Violet grabs him by the arm, desperately trying to tug him through the gap!
Marisol quickly joins in trying to rescue the petrified knight!
My stomach knots as gawain freezes. Without a second thought, I grab his armor and try to pull him through the gal with Marisol and Violet. There's no way that's not enough.
[1d10]Improvise, if needed.Roll #1 5 = 5
Passing through the gap only to see sir Gawain held back by the serpent's gaze, I quickly turn back to help violet in pulling the griffon through!
[1d10] assistRoll #1 5 = 5
Aegis is also quick to join the efforts, pestering the giant serpent with ice magic, going for its eyes
'1d10+1' homing magic, ice
'2d10+1' Magic bolt, iceRoll #1 2 + 1 = 3
/ Roll #2 2, 2 + 1 = 5
"C-C'mon now, big guy! You can stare at pretty lights back in town!" He remarks, giving him a tug.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Your shots ping and fizzle uselessly off of its body.>>756690>>756689>>756688>>756691
Through a combined team effort, you yank Gawain free, wrenching him through the gap. The force sends you stumbling backwards, falling into a dogpile of miscellaneous ponies. And other races.
Gawain starts to come to, mumbling incoherently. "The glow… burns…" After a moment, he regains consciousness, rolling over onto his feet and standing up. "Oof. That was most unpleasant. My deepest gratitude, my friends. I thought I was done for! Where would I be without you?"
As you pick yourselves up, the snake retreats, and with it, the light. You are plunged into darkness now, only the embers from your campfire flickering in the black of the cave. You won't be able to see a thing in here without a light source.
I let out a relieved sigh as the dragon backs up. Hopefully went back to the sky. As the light disappears along with it I squeeze my eyes shut, blinking spots away. "We, uh… we grabbed some torches, right?"
"That's why you don't stare at bright lights, friend. Let's get you some rest." he says, settling him down and humming. "We oughta… get a fire going. Until then…">Light Element: Magic Bow
Rabi holds his unstrung, runecarved bow aloft, which turns a warm gold and sheds a much less aggressive, hostile light than the snake.
Brushing myself off with my wings after extracting myself from the pile, I look back up to see the serpents light fade before turning to the dark.
"My word.. it seems my intuition was right after all, whatever magic those serpents wield is far too dangerous to face alone."
''Most of us are prepared to deal with the darkness ''Aegis replies to Norv as she produces a couple wisps of light and spreads them around the cave>Prestigidation
''Are you okay Master Gawain? What was that you mumbled about the glow?''
"So it seems," Marisol agrees. "I think we're going to have to find some other way to deal with them. We can't fight that."
"They seem intelligent," Violet points out. "Maybe they want something else from us.">>756696>>756695>>756694>>756693
"It's… the most peculiar thing," says Gawain as he fully recovers. "When it caught me in its gaze… why, call me daft, but it didn't feel like it had ill intent! I heard… words in my head… when it looked at me. Like it was trying to tell me something. But it's gone now… What was the message?…" He holds his head in his hands, still a bit dizzy from the encounter.
Violet raises an eyebrow. "Message or no message, we're probably better off avoiding them. They're holding that whole town hostage. Gods know what they'll do to us if they manage to catch us properly."
You light torches and other magical sources. You can see a few feet around you, but not too far ahead. There are three paths ahead that you can see, which Marisol quickly begins to draw out:
The path straight ahead seems to be a tunnel, perhaps carved by some unknown creature. It seems abandoned now, but judging from the breeze, it seems to lead to the surface.
Off to the left is a steep incline, which opens up into what looks like a much larger cavern. You think you can hear water running underground there. The drop down won't harm you, but you won't be able to climb back up easily. You'd have to find another path out.
On the right, another tight gap, which leads to a smaller cavern. You can see something glinting in the dark through the gap. Minerals, perhaps, or the eyes of some unknown creature. It's hard to tell without going in.
Looking back, you catch a glimpse of the serpent that approached you, watching over the camp site. Turning back would mean confronting them.
''To the right?'' Aegis asks the others
"Hmm… who knows? Maybe we'll have a chance to talk to them, sometime. I wonder if they could see me while I'm projecting… probably." he says, shrugging a little. "Right might be the best."
"Heading back to the surface would certainly mean confronting then again, be it climbing back up or proceeding ahead. Perhaps further down there's a safer route out?"
"Maybe that's part of it? Making you feel like there isn't anything to worry about. Either way, kinda wish there was a safe way to try and confront one of them safely." I sigh and hang my head. "A 'Return' charm would come in handy about now, but I'm sure there's a way."
I look around at the paths. "I'd say take the tunnel up. Really don't have the energy to get trapped underground."
I shift and let out an uncomfortable laugh. "Or I guess we'll risk getting trapped. I guess as long as a couple of us can fly we're only at a small risk of getting too stuck."
''I thought Diamond dogs enjoyed the underground'' Aegis says flatly
"Well, again, I could
try and see if I can communicate with them while projecting. It wouldn't be the first time something like that could be done, and I've got a lifeline I can snap back on."
"Yeah, well, I'm sure I would. Not the best history with it, though, and I can't seem to burrow to save my life."
"True. If you freeze while astral could you actually end it, though? Or would you be stuck?"
"Are you sure, dear?" I ask, concerned "how could we tell if something goes wrong?"
''I can go with him. And if communication fails, I'll return to my own body to warn you''
"They didn't find you out when you projected before, back in town," Marisol points out. "Though that might not prove much. If anything goes wrong, we should be able to tell, besides. What happens in an astral form usually affects the body too.">>756702>>756700>>756699>>756698
"Right it is," Marisol nods. "But Norv is right. We shouldn't stay underground for too long. Even with me mapping, it's easy to get turned around and lost. We don't have the resources for too long a trip. We should see about getting out of here as soon as possible, and trying to make our way back to town."
You pass through another narrow space and go right. Looking around the small cavern, you cautiously approach the source of the glint in the light.
It's a Prowler. Several Prowlers, in fact. Changing their black liquid forms to stick to the wall of the cave, they peer at you with their brilliant red eyes. At the sight of you, they shrink away. As if they're afraid of you, even though they easily outnumber you.
"What the hell…?" Violet peers at them as they flatten their bodies to squeeze into the cracks in the cave wall. "It can't be because of the torches, could it? I've never seen them react like that before…"
"Fair point, Marisol. Let's not risk it too much, right?" Rabi says, chuckling a little. "It's an option, though.">>756709
"These are… Prowlers, alright. Maybe they're weaker here? Newer? More timid, maybe?"
I hum and tighten my lips in thought. "You guys wanna, y'know… clear em out? Prowler hearts could still be useful, and if you guys step back I can probably just-" I pull the nozzle to my sprayer and point it. "You know. Immolate them."
"I haven't the foggiest idea.." I reply, watching the strange behavior of the prowlers warily.
"I'm hesitant to trust their behavior holds further in, though they're not known to plan traps..">>756711
"A fire within a cavern would choke us as fast as them, wouldn't it? Smoke has nowhere to go underground, after all."
''I'm with you Master Norvegicus'' Aegis says, conjuring a set of crystal magic ''I doubt the Echoes would be a better place with these alive. It would be best we got rid of them all while we can''
'1d10+1' Homing Magic, iceRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
"Right. I guess you guys don't have a mask anymore. Sorry." I look up. "Pretty sure it'd go that way, though, wouldn't it? Toward the way we came? We haven't gone too far. Probably act like a chimney."
"Hmm.. you're likely correct. Should we step back closer to the entrance, or simply hold our breath?"
"I'd say backing up to the dropoff would probably be fine. Not sure how much smoke it'll even make." I swap my healing canister with the oil canister, take my spyglass out, switch it to firestarter mode, and spark the pilot cloth. "But with them all grouped together like this?" I replace my spyglass and pull out my mask, tugging it down over my face. "Seems like a chance we shouldn't miss out on, yeah?">>756713
Turning toward the corner of Prowlers, I glance to Aegis and nod. "Ready when you are."
She nods. "Probably safer with two as well. Could be worth a try. Not now though." >>756710>>756711>>756712>>756713
Aegis conjures an ice spear.
"If the smoke is an issue we could burn them then turn back," Violet points out. "Go down one of the other paths instead where we won't choke." The Prowlers seethe quietly, watching you with trepidation. Marisol looks to Norv and nods. "Activate it."
"Right. Let's, uh… clear out while the smoke's thick, right? I'm not interested in a lungful of that.
I take a deep breath through my snout and let it out through my mouth. Aiming toward the center of the group, I pull the trigger and sweep it back and forth across the group, aiming the stream low.
[1d10]WerfRoll #1 7 = 7
I step back while Norv prepares his flamethrower, waiting to see the extent of the smoke.
"Fire away, Norvy!" I cheer, wing already covering my face for the backblast.
Aegis backs off as Norv does his work, wary for any Prowler attempting to flee through the group
You all back away as Norv goes for it, engulfing the cavern in flame. The Prowlers squirm and writhe helplessly as they are completely incinerated by the all-consuming flame, painting the underground cavern in blinding orange and yellow and red.
When the flame subsides, all that's left is acrid, poisonous smoke that lingers in the cavern. Your companions cough and choke as it wafts towards you. Not much chance of going that way while the smoke remains. Through the fumes, though, you can see the glint of several dark magical gems, left behind by the charred remains of the Prowlers. >Prowler Heart x8
"These'll come in handy," Violet remarks. "One's hard enough to get. Someone'll want them for sure."
"Gawain? You alright?" Marisol looks to him with concern. The knight looks spaced out following the dramatic display, staring glassy eyed in the cavern's direction.
"They're burning the gods… They're burning the gods… The pain… The fear…"
"Hm… so, they're difinitely linked on some sort of level here, aren't they. Gawain, why don't you try to calm down a little, and… well… explain it a little?"
Aegis tilt her head towards the gryphon ''That serpent must have done something to mess with his head. We should keep a close eye on him'' Aegis says, taking a step back from the Knight
Coughing as the smoke reaches us, I fan away some of the smoke with a wing, noticing the glimmer of Prowler hearts left behind
"Ah, Excellent work Norvy! Now, grab the hearts and lets see about finding another route."
My attention is drawn to the shell-shocked Gawain watching the last embers in the tunnel.
"Erm.. Sir Gawain?"
I walk right into the acrid, burning fumes and pick up each heart, pocketing them one by one. "Thank you," I tell the charred remains, and give them a small salute. "Going to a good cause."
I turn back to the others and rejoin the party, noting the cloud of smoke. Better than I expected. Worse than I'd hoped. "Alright. Guess we should probably-" I see Gawain and knit my brows. "You, uh… y'alright bug guy?" I look back at where I burned the prowlers. "Have you never had a run in with one of those things before? They're scary."
As you turn your attention to him, he comes back around again. He grins confidently. "Oh, apologies, friends. I was just absorbed in thought. Shall we move on?"
Violet and Marisol give him odd looks. "You… you were saying some pretty weird stuff," says the former warily. "What was that about?"
"Hm? What was what?" He seems bemused.
''Please watch him closely'' Aegis mutters to Marisol as she goes past her and goes to illuminate the cave, searching for any way further in
I knit my brow, but slowly nod. "Sure, bud. Let's get outta here. Still have to figure out which way to go, map out a little more if the dragons are gone, and maybe head back to town. Then you can get some rest."
"y-yes, lets keep moving." I nod, following behind.
"The right path has too much smoke, the center path earlier would likely lead to confronting the snakes.. It seems our current choice is to continue down, yes?"
I wince. "Yeah. I guess so. Maybe we should at least check the path up out, though? The dragons don't seem like they stick around that long, and maybe we can get far enough away to continue up to where we were originally trying to get."
"Maybe talk to us a little bit about what you were thinking? It seems… I dunno, important."
"Well, They are
persistent enough to trap an entire town within their homes, it wouldn't surprise me to see them waiting for us to leave just as easily."
"If they're still waiting, perhaps we really don't have a better choice than braving the lower tunnel for another exit."
At Rabi's prompt, he seems hesitant, but eventually says what he's thinking. "Those serpents… It may sound mad, but I think they need our help. They're in… pain… Oh, bah. What am I saying? They're terrorizing the villagers! I'm just a little addled from the encounter is all. Don't pay me any mind!"
"…Okay then…" Violet and Marisol seem concerned, but it seems that's all you're getting from him for now. "So, heading outside for some fresh air then? Better than some stuffy old cave." He seems eager to get moving.>>756734
"Maybe one of us should scout it out," Violet suggests. "Poke out a bit and see if the coast is clear, to avoid their attention. I could do it."
"I… hmm. Maybe there's a bit more to this- what if they really do need some help, you know? As for scouting… let me take care of it- it'll be faster, and I don't really have to worry about hiding."
"Wait, no, this is exactly what I was talking about before. It ain't like I'm gonna think you're crazy when 'wanting to communicate' is the thing I was thinkin they were tryin'a do."
"I'll go. Just a peek." I adjust my mournwing cloak on my shoulders and step up beside the wall. "Be right back."
[1d10]StealtgRoll #1 6 = 6
I pause for a moment to consider Gawain's words.
"Well.. given what we've seen before, there's a part of me that wouldn't be surprised. We do
have a history of communing with strange beings."
"I do wonder if we can trust stepping into the light to receive the full message, however. Having their words seared into our minds does not sound appealing."
''If Master Norvegicus is going, then I will as well. I can keep my mind focused even if those thoughts are seared in my mind as well. I might be the most apt for this'' Aegis says, stepping up to follow the dog through stealth
'1d10' sneakyRoll #1 6 = 6
The tunnel leading up to the surface is quite tight. You have to crawl on your belly like a snake to get through it. Once you do, you poke your head out. It's still night time, but there's no clouds, so visibility isn't much of an issue yet.
…No clouds. They're gone for now. Looks like the coast is clear.
''They must have given up. Lets move on.''
"Coast is clear!" I shout back down to the others. "Still dark out, but unless you wanted to rest some we can head out. Sooner we get out, sooner we can get back to town."
"Cool- let's ponder what exactly Gawain was on about later, and get on out of here!"
''There isnt much to ponder aside from the fact those snakes might. MIGHT honestly want to talk to us…''
Aegis puts a hoof to her chin ''Maybe… What if they arent keeping the citizens of Moonhollow in to contain them, but trying to protect them?''
"Very well. Though I'm not so certain we're safe above ground, we'll have to risk it."
"We should tell Dalliance back in town about this," says Violet. "There's no way it doesn't mean anything to her."
"I had the same thought," Marisol says in response to Aegis'
You crawl through and end up exiting onto a pleasant grassy hilltop. The exit is half overgrown by weeds, but you push through easily. Looking around, you have a great view of the surrounding landscape, even at night, which Marisol takes time to add to the map. You can see Moonhollow from here, and the ocean beyond. To your left is the cliff, within which you were recently camping, and beyond that the strange finger-like spires. Ahead and to the right, the landscape becomes more verdant, with a dense, overgrown forest awaiting.
"Should we start making our way back?" Marisol suggests. "Or keep exploring? We're not short on supplies yet, but I'm a bit worried about Gawain."
"Hm? Oh, pish posh! I'm doing quite well now. Just a bit light headed is all." Gawain seems to be in good spirits, all things considered.
''I saw we press on. Gawain will be fine.'' Aegis turns to gaze upon the forest ''Maybe something of interest awaits us there''
"I say we head back. Grab some climbing gear, rest up, and talk to Dalliance. As far as I know we're not in any rush, and I don't know about you guys but last night wasn't really the most restufl sleep I've had. No sense risking making a mistake out of exhaustion, even if it wasn't for the fact that-" I glance at Gawain. "You probably need an actual full night's sleep in an actual bed. Not sure what that was about, but you're obviously feelin it on top of our early wakeup call."
With a yawn, I consider our options, eying the landscape under the moonlight.
"We could certainly use the rest, but We would have to retrace our steps through the spires to return to town."
"Perhaps we should take cover within the undergrowth from the serpents, then retrace ourselves by tomorrow?"
''Fine then. I suppose we are in no rush. And we could use this chance to head back since the Serpents seem to be away'' Aegis relents, staring off into the sky
"Just tell us if you start feeling off, alright Gawain? I'd rather you not be hurt or messed up, somehow. I'd say we'd best hurry back- we can get more gear like Norv said, and talk over what we found- and what happened."
Gawain looks a bit hurt. "Oh, let's not turn back on my account! We've still got plenty of exploring left to-"
"No," says Violet firmly. "Not in your state. We need to talk to Dalliance about all this."
With that said, you turn back. It takes several hours of navigation through the wilderness; the three Union runes hang over you ominously as you march in single file, always consulting Marisol's map to keep your heading, and always with one eye on the sky in case those serpents return.
In the early morning, you see them stir again. The clouds above you begin to shift and stir, and a flash of silent lightning darts through them. They're searching from above again; you see a large glowing light course through the clouds as the serpents move almost lazily through the sky.
Your companions freeze and scramble for cover amidst the rocky badlands. "Get down!" Marisol hisses urgently as she darts under a nearby boulder. Violet throws herself on the ground and covers herself in her cloak to blend in with the rocks, while Gawain just sort of stands there for a moment cluelessly before flapping off to hide in a tree stump.
"No arguing, Gawain- we're doing this because we care, and we'd rather not you get hurt." he says, giving the bulky griffon a hug.
Rabi hisses a little as the clouds begin to stir, and dives for cover- after a moment, pulling Gawain behind a stump with him. "We can figure out what's up with them later- just need to be safe, first."
Glad the fact we're headed back town to rest and resupply some is settled, I quietly hike along with the rest of the group. As the sky darkens and flashes of lightning light up the clouds, I draw in a sharp breath and try to take cover behind some rocks.
[1d10+2]StealthRoll #1 3 + 2 = 5
searching for a place to take cover, I try to make myself less noticable amidst the rock.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 9 = 9
Aegis reacts quickly, slidding behind a large rock
'1d10' stealthRoll #1 1 = 1
Silver, Violet and Marisol manage to hide in time. Norv, Aegis, Gawain and Rabi get caught before you can make it to safety, as a scorching spotlight from the sky suddenly floods the area with burning light. From the clouds above, the twin snakes begin to emerge. Gawain seems to stop moving entirely as it happens, frozen mid action.
First one snake emerges, its eyes glowing brilliantly. It's now that you realize they're not of flesh and blood; their bodies seem to consist of streaks of white lightning, coalesced into serpentine form. Flashes dart across its swaying form, clouds gathering about them to form its reptilian visage, its body crackling with the power of the sky. It bears down on you with predatory intent, and the light around you begins to shine brighter and brighter, blindingly white. It gets closer and closer, its eyes beginning to strobe like flashlights-
Then, something strange happens. The second serpent emerges, and you see now that its eyes aren't shining bright, but dark, black like storm clouds. It surges towards its twin, causing the shining one to recoil and shy away from you. The two storm-beasts intertwine like strands of a braid, and retreat back into the sky.
The whole thing is over as quickly as it begins. Your companions wait to be doubly sure the coast is clear before emerging. "What the hell just happened?" Violet asks in bewilderment. "One of them stopped the other? Gods, I thought you were in for it. Are you alright?" she asks with concern. "You're not hurt?" Marisol chimes in, poking her head out from a bush. "Whatever's going on, we're lucky they decided not to. Are they toying
with us? Or is there something else going on?…"
I watch, slowly calming as they retreat back into the sky. "Well, whatever it is we can worry about it later. For now we really, really gotta get back to town. The 'they'll leave us alone because we're outsiders' theory is bust."
Having avoided the glare of the serpent's light, I rush out to check on Rabi and the others.
"Are you alright, dear?"
"It was as if they were fighting one another for a moment, but I haven't a clue why.">>756868
"Right. We had best make for town and relay our findings while the serpents are busy."
''I'm fine'' Aegis says, rubbing the arm she scraped as she tripped
''Seems that our predators had a disagreement on something'' The crystal mare looks towards the sky ''Either way its clear we cannot stand against them, their bodies seemed to be made of energy, pure magic. Closer to a force of nature than a living being''
''…Lets head back, maybe Dalliance will know more''
"I… I don't know. Something about them is strange- they're not as close as they might seem, I guess?" The stallion says, shaking his head and humming.
"It looked like they were at odds," Marisol agrees. "One light, and one dark…"
"We're lucky they decided to quarrel," Violet comments. She looks over to Gawain, who still looks a little dazed. "How are you holding up?"
He comes to, snapping out of his daydream. "Hm? I'm, er… feeling a bit out of sorts, I'll admit. My head hurts terribly…"
Marisol frowns. Wordlessly, she offers him some of her water. The least she can think to do. He accepts it with a muttered thanks, and you press on.
The rest of the journey is kept with one eye on the sky, as usual. However, the serpents never emerge again, and your journey onward goes undisturbed. You're left alone with your thoughts, and the whistling wind.
In the afternoon, you make it back to Moonhollow, the exertions of traveling starting to take their toll. You're tired and hungry from the ordeal. A guard calls out, and Dalliance comes out to meet you eagerly. She's not wearing her armor this time, giving you a better look at her; she's petite, with a brown coat and a silver mane in a ponytail. "Welcome back!" she says eagerly, greeting you with a smile. "How did it go? Did the snakes give you any trouble?"
"A little, but… I don't know- I feel like there's something more to the two of them. They're… well, fighting? At odds? Maybe what's been happening is, for a lack of a better word, just crossfire."
"Honestly? Went better than I expected. Got some stuff mapped out. We're back to rest, resupply some, and get safe from the sky lizards." I glance over at Gawain. "We do gotta ask you some questions about that, though."
"More than a fair share, I'd say. Our theory that they're only after those in the town was proven patently false; we were hounded by the serpents for most of the mission."
"Sir Gawain in particular was caught in their glare, and was, concerningly, afflicted with strange visions.. And a rather intense headache."
"Has Anypony else reported the same?"
''They also dont seem to have a pattern to them, at least none that I noticed'' Aegis continues after her comrades
''One minor thing to report is that we found a cave full of prowlers, but they were the first ones I ever seem that were completely passive. Even when cornered they made no effort to fight for their lives. What Gawain said then stuck with me; They're burning the gods. The pain, the fear…''
"I said that?" Gawain looks lost.
"You did," says Violet.
Dalliance takes in your report. When she hears about Gawain getting caught in the light, her face turns to stone. She takes a deep breath and steels herself, visibly shaken but keeping it together. "Listen. If this is what I think it is, then, well, we have a much bigger problem on our hands than I thought. I saw something like this, a long time ago. I didn't want to believe it'd come back, but… Well. We can figure it out. It's still early after all."
"You must be exhausted, though. Let's talk. Drinks?" She motions towards Bonfire's inn nearby.
I nod along. Yeah, maybe this thing with Gawain is worse than I thought. "Alright. Yeah. I can always go for drinks."
''Please.'' Aegis says, dragging herself to the inn
Concerned by her reaction, I nod wearily at her offer. "That would be lovely, thank you."
Rabi carefully pats Gawain's back, helping him on towards the inn. "That sounds great, Dalliance- a chance to sit by a warm fire would be appreciated."
You head back to the inn. As always, there's no customers. Bonfire is by the fireplace, entertaining herself by playing both sides of a chess game. Somehow, she's losing.
She perks up as you enter and the little bell above the door rings, hastily standing up. "Oh, hey loves! Thought you'd packed up for good! Oh, Dalliance too! What can I get you?"
"Just a whiskey for me. Thanks, Bonfire." Dalliance smiles warmly and takes a seat at a large table, motioning for the rest of you. "Time for a history lesson," she sighs, mentally bracing herself.
"Righto! And for the rest of you?" Bonfire waits expectantly to take your orders before you get into it with Dalliance.
''Something Spicy'' Aegis takes her place ''Do you have a place to bathe here by the way? I'd like a warm bath''
I wave. "Hey, Bon. The way things look we'll be in and out for a little bit. I'll take a whiskey, too."
"A glass of wine for me, please." I reply, settling into my seat at the table.>>756883
"Ah, that would be lovely! A bath and A chance to wash the smoke from my dress as well."
"Yup, all the private rooms have baths. I'll set them up for you, no worries!">>756883>>756884
Violet, Marisol and Gawain order brandy, a mojito, and beer respectively. "How does she afford all this food and drink with no money?" Marisol wonders out loud once she's out of earshot.
"It's her own brand of magic," Dalliance explains. "She can conjure the raw ingredients out of thin air, and applies her talents to them. She's a real asset to the town. If it weren't for her powers we probably would've faded away long ago."
The drinks arrive shortly, cool and refreshing, warming the cockles of your hearts after the expedition. Aegis' spice cocktail has a pleasant tingle to it.
After taking a moment to relax, Dalliance begins. "So. The snakes had a glow to them, did they."
"That's right. One did, at least," Marisol explains. "Light from the eyes. The other's eyes had gone dark."
Dalliance nods. "And the light affected your friend here. …Then, well, I hope I'm wrong about this." She rummages in her pocket, eventually producing a cigar. She lights it and starts smoking as she reminisces.
"It was 25 years ago now. The town was overrun by a plague. A magical blight that enslaved the people. Light from the eyes was the telltale sign. The Glow, we called it. The lord of the town called for aid in combating it. I answered the call. So did others…
"It turned out the Glow was a witch's curse. She'd died long ago, but her familiar remained in secret. Those affected were slaves to her will. Luckily, one of the drifters managed to find a cure, but it was still a long, bloody campaign. The witch and her familiar were defeated. We became legends to the people that remained. Eventually, our little band of heroes went their separate ways. But I found a home here, and the people needed a new leader.
She takes another drag. "So that was that. Things were peaceful around here for a while, but, well, the town's a shadow of what it was in its heyday. If this is the Glow returning… Dammit, we destroyed that sorceress, Henke. And her demon familiar was banished forever. I… I don't see how it could be possible. But if those… things… have the Glow… Then that means they're being controlled by something. Or someone. Could it be her ghost back again? Or something else…"
I take a sip of my whiskey, feeling it warm the pit of my stomach. Setting the glass back down, I hum. "Yeah. Yeah, that's bad. Hopefully it's something else. How did the curse pass? Was it just through seeing the glow or whatever? If this is what it is should we be worried?"
"Huh. Well, is there a way to fix it? Maybe the serpent with the glowing eyes could, I dunno- be un-cursed, or something. There has to be a way, right?"
''Then that means'' Aegis starts, panting slightly with her face red from her drink ''That Gawain is potentially dangerous to let roam around, as he can fall under the control of the Serpent's, or the one they serve''
Aegis closes her eys in thought ''But only one of them had the glow in their eyes… What if whats happening is that only one of them has the curse, and the other is trying to find help to heal its kindred?''
I mull the information over while sipping my wine.
"Hmm.. It certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility her spirit has returned, We've certainly seen worse."
"What of her grave? I'd imagine if she's returned by some foul sorcery her body may have been disturbed in the process."
"It spread through sight," she confirms. "By making eye contact with someone with it, the curse would pass on. But it couldn't spread at this stage of the… infection. For lack of a better name." She looks over a rather distressed looking Gawain. "It started with headaches, strange speech, general lethargy. Eventually, light starts shining from the eyes, a pinpoint at first. It gets to the point where their eyes are like sunbeams. That's when they start spreading it, and their will is gone.">>756888
"There was," she says wistfully. "The only one that could cure it left Moonhollow long ago, and the cures she left behind are long gone. Then there's the fact that the town ended up down here in the first place."
"Down here," Violet parrots. "You mean the Echoes?"
She nods. "There was a war on the outside, long after the Glow was gone. Fighting over land, resources. We thought we'd be able to avoid it, but their petty battles found their way to us. A whole stretch of land sunken, sent here to the Echoes. It was a disaster. Moonhollow's been struggling ever since, and the sun vanishing a year ago doesn't exactly help.">>756887>>756889
"W-well, I still have my wits about me," Gawain says nervously. "How long does it take to progress to… that?"
"A few days. Though, things might be different now. Either way, the best thing to do would be to keep you isolated for now, sir."
"We have to treat this like any other sickness. Until we have a cure, we need to keep you away from other people. There's an abandoned hut on the edge of town. I'll have people set it up for you. Don't worry, we won't treat you like a leper. None of this is your fault. We'll make this as comfortable as we can.">>756889
"Their minds being split sounds very likely from what we've heard. Though it still doesn't answer the question of why none of us can leave.">>756890
"Impossible. There was no grave to disturb. She was killed long before the Glow began, and even then there was nothing left but her skull. We broke that into a million pieces long ago and threw it in the sea. There'd have to be some insanely powerful black magic going on to bring her back in any form."
"I mean, the sun did go out," Violet remarks. "That's pretty next level."
"If they're connected…" Dalliance pinches the bridge of her snout. "Well, I don't even want to think about it. We have our hands full with these sky snakes as it is. I can't imagine being involved with something like that."
"Well, it sounds like we hardly have any time for our friend, and probably even less for that serpent- we ought to try and find a way to recreate the cure."
"If this is
the glow, you don't think some record of the cure's composition could have survived the ages and the shift here?"
"I'm something of an alchemist, though my original equipment was destroyed some time ago. Perhaps I could recreate it, given the ingredients."
I shift a little, take a large swig of my whiskey, and let out an uncomfortable laugh. "Yeah," I agree. "Can't imagine being involved with something like that. Either way, do you really think even if it was her she was powerful enough to take control of one of these things? They seem like soaring draconifications of a thunderstorm." I sigh and lean forward. "I don't know. It'd be so much easier if we could communicate with the darker one. Maybe it could tell us how we can help. Still not understanding how the prowlers fit into this either. But hey. We'll figure something out. Probably."
''It is a bit of a stretch, but I could, in theory, attempt to take in the magic of the curse, and attempt to dissect it and understand how it works, but that would take months if not years. Plus I think even that would be pointless since the curse spreads through sight… There's no other way, we will have to find an specialist on curses who can deal with this, or somehow find a trace of the one who first healed it. Do you know what was her name?'' Asked Aegis to Dalliance
"I-I swear I heard it speaking to me," Gawain explains. "Or something did, at least. When it caught me. …And then I… No… Well, I can't remember what it said, but there was something there. They- something- wants to send a message."
Dalliance thinks about this for a while. "Maybe… Hm. It could be trying to resist the Glow, somehow. It affected animals, but I never saw it enslave something on that level. I don't think it's worth the risk testing that on a hunch, though.">>756895
She shrugs off that suggestion. "Like you said, that'd take too long. Her name was Rainy Springs, but she left a long time ago. She could be anywhere. If she's even alive." >>756893>>756892>>756894>>756895
Dalliance perks up at Silver's suggestion. "Do… Do you think you could? I'd have to have a look around town, maybe she left something behind. No, actually, I'm sure she did." She seems more animated now. "There was some alchemical gear lying around too, back when we used the church to… Well nevermind that. I'll do everything I can to dig it up. The town's counting on it. And… thank you. In advance, I mean. We might not have much to work with, but if you can pull this off, well, you'll have saved us all."
She nods. "Yeah. I'll do that, and set up the home for Gawain here. In the meantime, you should all get some rest. I won't ask you to go out there again, especially with those snakes around, but if you can keep exploring, and filling out that map, we'd be extremely grateful. If not, well, we don't have much in town, but feel free to look around if you like."
[Last 50 Posts]
"Of course- I'd love to do everything I can to help, regardless of whether or not my friend's in danger."