No.759115[Last 50 Posts]
Sir Pent slithers off of your arm and crawls over to Sparkler, and bumps his head against her arm until she relents and gives him a pat. Sir Pent soon bites off an old scale, one already on its way to falling off, and holds it out to her. Curious, Sparkler takes it, and after some deliberation, starts to mash it in a pestle while her healing takes its effect.>>759052>>759053
*Click click* the beetle continues, patiently awaiting your questions with its forelegs folded up together in a professional posture.>>759056
Your shark senses tell you there's something worth taking in this room… but it might be a nap.
Juniper flings herself into the pool outside the room, and Cycle follows suit. Juniper then climbs out and steps through the doorway with no issue.
"Looks like the Mechpriests would have had to purify themselves with a ritual bath before entering here," Juniper says. "But for our purposes, just stepping into the pool is enough to enter one of these kinds of chambers, I suppose.">>759057
"Yeah…" Chiu mutters, but she does not sound very sure.
"Well… ah! How many players are typically in this game? Is it done with two teams, I imagine?" The griffon asks, cocking his head to the side.
Willow, thinking he had done his best, moved to very slowly place the device on the drone. He aimed to translate the impulses from it's mechanical brain into speech through some handy dandy aura tech.
*Many teams can play, each as small as one player.* *Click click.* *Most game modes are played to best of three, but if all players agree, all rules can be modified. Challenges include the limiting of certain limbs, elimination-style team reductions, and so on.*
Splendid continues to scratch Alder, moving now to his shoulders and spine (tastefully kept above the waist).
"Oh, interesting! Limiting of limbs meaning that one could, for instance, bar the use of wings if not all competitors had it, or only hindlegs could be used to hit the ball? I see! What were the 'traditional' rules!" Alder asks, letting out a bit of a chirp as Splendid continues to scratch and preen. "Oh! No complaints about continuing, for sure."
*For teams of one to three players, best to three wins. Four or more, best to seven. Anyone hit by the goalie three times is out. A player can knock out another player at the cost of being out as well, but their team incurs no penalty.*
After a moment, Cloud puts a hoof under Chiu's chin, looking her in the eye with utmost sincerity.
"I know things have been rough, especially lately. But we got through Stone Cold, and the Ribcage hasn't been able to put me out yet, and it's been trying pretty hard. I swear on my life, nothing bad will happen."
Chiu nods, holding your gaze for a moment. She then hugs you– and forces you to think fast, as she then hops into your arms. "Nap begins now," she says, with a big yawn. "Fair to say this conversation took out the last of my energy. Chauffeur, back to our quarters, please."
Seeing that his work had indeed done the job he clapped for a moment before composing himself "Genius as always."
As the beetle goes on to explain the rules to Alder, Splendid passes you the ball. "That really is impressive sir – did you want to play a round too?"
Cloud catches Chiu, stumbling back as he does, spreading his wings to keep from falling.
"Any other requests, Queen of the High seas?" Cloud chuckles as he flies off back to the ship.
"I see, thank you! Hrm… were there any other sports people tended to play, or was this the main one?"
"Hmmmm…" Chiu hums, but she does not answer. Once you are back in your quarters, she gives you an answer of sorts – by pushing you onto the bed. Then, she hops on, and hugs you from behind, trapping you inescapably in the role of the little spoon.>>759126
*This was the most popular national sport, but individual towns and cities had other local pastimes. I am not so well-versed in those. My purpose was to play this.*
The beetle taps its legs together. It knows its purpose in life, and it does well at it.
"Hmm- any ideas, Splendid? I'm sure you have at least a few ideas on what to ask!"
"Has anyone been up here to play in recent times?" Splendid asks.
*No, they haven't,* the beetle says, deflating a little.
"Well, I know what I'm doing next," Splendid says. She scratches your ribs now, lingering there… the fiend!
"A-Ah! Rather thorough, I see." The griffon remarks, squirming a little bit and letting out a soft giggle. "A-Anyways… what are you doing next? Bringing the sport back? Reminding the Beggar King?"
*I have been waiting here,* the beetle admits. *It is my directive to. I cannot do more than that barring special emergency circumstances. But when those circumstances are gone, I am bound to go back to my primary directives.*
Cloud is caught by surprise as Chiu pushes him over to be used as a pillow.
"Good request," He says, accepting his fate with a yawn as the contagious sleepiness starts to infect him. "Could use one myself too."
With a flash of aura, Chiu summons shadow copies of both herself and you. The two are already fast asleep, and you know they won't mind being pillows or blankets as well.
"I can't say I know much about sports. At all. I've never played any."
"Our guide just explained the rules, with your help I might add," Splendid says. "But, some knowledge is best gained through practice, wouldn't you say? Want to at least shoot one?"
"The people down there seemed a bit more aware now," Splendid says. "Wouldn't they like being reminded of something they used to partake in? Might cheer up the god and this guy too – and maybe there's a god of this ball game too!"
He paused and then slowly brought the ball over with his horn "May I make it without being hassled?"
The beetle immediately turns your way. Its every robotic directive tells it to knock it – and you, probably – away from the goal.
*…That, I cannot guarantee.*
A competitive bug, it seems.
He hummed, and then took the shot now, figuring it was better to just do it.
[1d10] hoopsRoll #1 4 = 4
Cloud gently pulls his Shadow Chiu in, claiming a little spoon of his own, leaving Shadow Cloud open for Chiu to claim for a wing coverage.
"I agree- why not go spread the word, a little? It'd help everyone involved, I think!~" Alder suggests, squirming out of Splendid's grasp and settling atop her back- an easy enough feat, given her size.
The beetle grabs it, bracing itself to launch it back at you – but then drops it just to be on the safe side. It rolls toward you so you can give it another try.>>759140
Like a colony of bats, you, your special somepony, and your shadow selves, huddle together for sleep.
He was mildly chuffed by this, one might even say nettled, but he tried once more.
[1d10] alley oopRoll #1 8 = 8
You make the shot, scoring nothing but air! The arena flashes green in celebration of your point.>>759141>>759143
Splendid claps for Willow's victory, before turning to give a bow to the beetle. "We might be back in time – if our crew isn't in a hurry to leave. But whether or not we are, thanks much, sir. And don't think you won't be playing again soon, if we can have anything to do with it."
The beetle clicks is mandibles together, unsure of what she means.
"She's going to get more people I assume." he said before raising a brow "Have you ever considered leaving? I know you are built for this, but have you actually thought about leaving?"
"Ah- fantastic shot, Mister Willow!" the griffon chirps, before tapping Splendid's head softly and giggling.>>759144
"And, yes- we'll bring the players back, even if we don't return ourselves!"
"Thank you Alder."
*Then who will run the games?* the beetle clicks as if you just asked the dumbest question it had ever heard.>>759147>>759146
You go back down into town, and begin to canvas among the locals for who would be interested in attending or even playing some of the ball game hosted by the lonely beetle Watchkeeper. Within around an hour, as the festival winds down, more and more of the golden shades, reminded of their national pastime, head on up, with a renewed vigor once long forgotten.
The beetle is quite happy.
Willow seemed to be somewhere between amused and bemused by how eager they were for this oddly simple game.
Cutlass watches Sir Pent curiously. "You're such a clever, cute, little snake," Cutlass says with admiration as she strokes the snake with her hoof.
"Well being clean is important. Feels good to take a nice bath after getting all sweaty and stuff," she says while nodding, happy to see them in the room now with her. She gives a bit of a yawn though.
"Though kinda getting a bit tired with all this bashing and smashing lately. Anything special about this room?"
"You, of course- who else?" The griffon teases, giving the beetle a soft pat before hurrying back over to the others, to help find some shades to play ball!>>759147
"You are welcome, sir!"
Sir Pent bites down, toothlessly, onto your hoof. He probably wants more fish sticks.
Cutlass rolls her eyes at Sir Pent. She telekinetically retrieves a (at this point cold) fish stick for him. "You're going to get fat if you keep eating so much, Sir," she says as she lovingly spoils her pet.
As you start to explore the junk heap of a priestly cloister with Cycle and Juniper, the two pause, their ears attuned to something above them. At first, you hear nothing. Yet, focusing faintly, it's like there's some kind of high, high whirring, yet as quiet as a feather spinning in air.
"It's a bit late for that, isn't it?" Sparkler asks as Sir Pent eats the fish stick. She pokes him in the gut, and he rolls over, playing dead.
Though you would not know of Cerulean, Cycle and Juniper's suspicions right now – you too start to hear a strange and terribly faint sound, that high-pitched whirring, far-off, quiet, yet piercing, almost like – a warning.
Cutlass hears the sound and checks to see how much sunlight is left.
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 10 = 10
>>759725>before the perception
Cutlass can't help but snicker at the little snake's antics.
Cerulean attempts to focus her senses as well, not exactly liking any noise right now that isn't them.
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 10 = 10
It's just past noon, but…
Your memory reacts faster than your body, as Two Reeds' previous mention of the Heart Temple possessing "aerial defenses" jumps to mind. Presumably, these defenses would be made of the same advanced magitech from which the Watchkeepers were made.
And thus – could be just as easily hijacked by the dark, possessing sludge that comes from the bodies of the Metal Men.
You're hearing some kind of weapon
being charged up, while most of the rest of your party is upon the roof.>>759728
Your electroreception could have given you a jumpscare, if you hadn't instinctually braced yourself before giving into them. Through that sense, you can feel a great deal of power being drawn away from the rest of the Temple. The ambient lighting system, made by strips of a translucent mineral running along the walls of the Temple in geometric patterns, suddenly dim, as all their power is drawn toward the tops of the Tower.
The sense you get is like when a predator prepares itself for a sudden, and powerful attack. Another sense – you and the others are probably going to need to get to cover, right this second.
"Guys! Get down here now! Something's about to shoot at you!" Cutlass shouts to those still on the roof.
Cerulean thinks about it for a moment, then looks to the others.
Guys, get under something, quick!" Going off of instinct, Cerulean makes like a little fish and tries to find somewhere for her big frame to duck down into for cover.
An ear-blasting SSHHSSSSSSHHHHHHRAAAAAAACK!!
rips through the air, cutting off your warning midsentence. Blinded by a flash of light and deafened too, you are knocked to the ground by a great weight. When you shake off the daze enough to see again, you see that Auspicious Sign and Ossie have landed atop you, and are wounded with burns. Great chunks of the passageway's ceiling are completely gone. Hollow Promise and Two Reeds are nowhere to be seen either.
Sparkler and Ossie attempt to communicate, but neither they nor you can hear. Auspicious Sign is desperately pointing at the far door, back to the chamber filled with the poison gas, no way to tell whether Sparkler successfully–
Another one's coming. You feel it in your bones – quite literally, as the Temple's divine electricity surges through the rock–>>759731
Cycle and Juniper dive for a nearby bench, curling up beneath it as much as they can, when the whole Temple rocks and shudders, and a great blast rings out from high above, though muffled by distance. Moments later, a second, much closer impact lands, rock cracking against rock. It sounds like something landed on the Temple's roof, near where you are.
The two look out, but don't dare move yet, quietly scanning the room for any immediate dangers.
Cerulean is a bit bolder as she moves from her spot to more easily look around the room.
Unsure of what's going on, Cutlass chooses to follow Auspicious sign, gesturing for the others to come with her.
[1d10] to discern what he's trying to indicate as she follows his pointingRoll #1 10 = 10
In the next moment, for Cerulean and Cutlass both…
Everything goes dark.
The second blast from the Heart Temple's aerial defenses blast the Passageway of Penance, through which Cutlass and the others had been running. The lights in the Temple below dim, then, a moment later, completely black out, as another great impact – the Passageway collapsing upon the Temple's domed roof – quakes all those inside.>>759733>>759734
…>roll for recovery
Cutlass can't do anything before it all goes dark.
[1d10] recoveryRoll #1 10 = 10
Cerulean doesn't know what happens as everything goes dark. What is going on?
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
>>759736>10All is haze and shadow… earth and pebbles scrape your skin beneath you… you smell melted rock… burned flesh… rotted, fetid seawater… Something drags you away, your brain rattles as your skull drags against rock.
Barely can you twitch even the tips of your hooves… your magic fails you, and neither your Aura nor your voice will come… still, this is your last chance to do something… there might still be time to leave behind a sign.>>759737
Many heavy things of various compositions fall onto you from above as you stir.
From a distance, there comes a voice. "Cerulean? Hey! You there?" Though whispered and desperate, it's discernable as Droplet's. Some time seems to have passed… weren't he and Colobok lagging behind?
While concerning, Cerulean had no time to think about that as all this heavy stuff was crushing her, and she had to get out quick.
[1d10] RecoveryRoll #1 10 = 10
Cutlass's first thought is that she is being taken by the giants. But, how could that be? It's bright out, isn't it?
She doesn't know what is taking her, and she lacks the strength to fight back. Her only thought is that she will need help. But, how can she tell anyone want is happening?
Her thoughts go to Monty. But, Monty only knows things other people know. If she is to leave him behind, she has to first know what is taking her.
Slowly and carefully, she telekinetically reaches for a knife and picks it around whatever limb is currently being grasped. She doesn't want to start a fight. She just wants something. Some information. Some sound or reaction. If it's something hard, or soft or alive or machine. Something she can use to determine what is taking her.
[1d10] to poke with knife to get something usefulRoll #1 1 = 1
test roll for something that isn't a crit success or fail [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Almost as soon as you grip the knife, you feel yourself slipping back into darkness. The last you hear the faint clatter of the steel upon the stone…>>759739
With a great effort, you arise from the debris that had crushed you, finding yourself amid worse wreckage than before. Much of the room has collapsed, and the exit is blocked. Colobok and Droplet stand before you, their arms poised to attack – your sudden emergence probably spooked them.
"Afternoon naptime's over," Droplet says grimly. "Plans have gone awry – we need to get to broad daylight soon as we can."
"We think the Captain's been taken out," Colobok elaborates. "The route she was taking got hit by some powerful weapon, and the wreckage landed atop the Temple, hence the collapse."
Cerulean looks at them and blinks a bit, then tilts her head.
"Wait…weren't you…way further back?" She then has a look of sudden realization.
"Oh wait! Cycle and Juniper! Where are they?" She starts frantically looking around for them.
"Scouting ahead–" Colobok begins, before spinning sharply, his ears poised. He signals for you and Droplet to follow. You all head toward a section of collapsed wall, where the two assassins had come from. In the dim, flickering lights beyond, you can see Cycle and Juniper peering under a great deal of wreckage…
"H-hey!" Cycle gasps. "Juniper, get back!"
He throws himself in front of his special somepony to defend her–
From Sir Pent!
The fat snake pops out from the wreckage underneath which he had been pinned. Yet despite his quick and flashy reemergence, the snake looks quite troubled.
Cerulean blinks a bit, wondering why they'd be scared of Cutlass' snake. She shrugs as she starts trying to use her strength to clear out some rubble and such to free the two.
Sir Pent recognizes Cerulean and quickly slithers to her. He pokes Cerulean's leg urgently with his nose.
"Oh? Hey little buddy. Where is Cutlass? Its super dangerous for you to be out in these waters without her you know."
Sir Pent turns his head toward… which way did they take Cutlass? Sir Pent is not sure.
But, Sir Pent is a living compass… or something. He doesn't completely understand. Sir Pent is but a snek. Still, maybe he can find Cutlass?
Sir Pent digs deep down for his inner compass to find Cutlass. [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
As Cerulean clears the way through the wreckage, Sir Pent forges ahead, cautiously sniffing around every corner and under each heap of rubble for a clue… Droplet eventually picks him up to keep him safe around more hazardous sections of the floor.
Until at last, your hooves step foot into a hallway, illuminated by light from far above. The construction of this hall is not so different from the rest of the Temple – but it's certainly out of place. For one, it fell into the Temple from above.
For another, because of that fall, not much of it remains.
Out of what little remains, much of it is stained with blood…
And a single throwing knife lies slumped against the wall.
The Kirin continued to watch the crowd with a mix of mirth and mystified
Cerulean looks around the now destroyed hall, really dreading the thought of what might've happened if that big blast hit her and all. Though her thoughts are pulled away at the sight of the throwing knife against the wall. That…Sir Pent being here….
"Wait…no!" Cerulean goes over to the knife and starts trying to clear away rubble near it.
"C'mon, let me be wrong on this one. I'd really like to be wrong right now."
Sir Pent also forages for clues as to where Cutlass is.
>Survival: spot check rolls +3. Can create and forage for basic supplies like rope, bandages, tents, torches and low-quality meals. Can see far into the distance and can see if dim or night light.>[1d10+3]Roll #1 10 + 3 = 13
Cerulean, Droplet and Colobok overturn just about every shattered chunk of rock and marble they can find, all while Sir Pent sniffs around… yet the search turns up empty… of bodies, at least.
Sir Pent can still sense a faint scent trail… it's probably hours old by now. It leads somewhere deeper into the ruins, on the opposite end from where Cycle and Juniper are trying to dig a way out. They were taken that way.
"Nothin', huh?" Droplet muses. "Alright. Colobok, get Miss Sunshine on the Conch. She and Schnitzel are Vice-Captains, but he's busy, last I checked. We'll need to regroup. Cycle, Juniper, how long's our escape?"
"Almost… there…" Cycle grunts, trying to shove aside a heap of shattered stone blocking the doorway.
Sir Pent frantically slithers up Cerulean's leg, trying to get her attention.
Cerulean is in an odd state of mild and panic. Mild since there are no dead bodies, but panic because there doesn't seem to be bodies in general.
"What…where…huh? Where's anything?" Her confusion is somewhat halted as she feels Sir Pent slithering up her, which she allows him to do without issue. She gives him a gentle pet to try and calm him down.
"Oh? I know, I'm upset about Cutlass too, but we'll find her, okay?"
>Alder, Cloud, Willow
The next day…
With the port town's troubles quelled as best they can be, given the situation, the crews of the Beesting and Hidden Dagger sailed south along Cuauhtemoc's western shore, towards the Ruby Round. Both Little Miss Sunshine and Bee Holder stand near the helms of their respective ships, and the crews of both ships are likewise at the ready.
When Bee Holder and her four first mates had attempted to scope out the island's southeastern shore, they found themselves beset by the elements, forced away by winds, currents and rocks that all seemed to conspire to wreck their boats. And, proceeding by land was not much better, for they were under attack at all times by Watchkeepers, including those possessed by Metal Men, emboldened by the shadows afforded in the jungle undergrowth. In other words, it seemed forces were endeavoring to keep the crews on the northern end of the island, away from the Vault.
Soon enough, however, Little Miss Sunshine retrieves her conch from her bag. "Hello…?" she answers, pausing. Her expression quickly drops with alarm.
Willow for his part was reducing his fireworks machine into spare parts for later, not noticing the call for now as his attention was on that.
Two Tons for his part seemed to notice the change in demeanor from his spot as his eyes adjusted to look at Sunshine closer.
Sir Pent points his snout in the direction of the scent as pointedly as he can.
Cloud stands on deck as they sail down towards the Ruby Round, nervousness growing despite his best efforts to look calm and collected. While he's gotten over his bout of near-death depression, he's still not too keen on venturing into an area that seemed to all odds be working to keep everypony out. To this end he is keeping closer to the center of the ship, where it is more defended.
He tenses up as he hears Little Miss Sunshine answer her conch, unsure what kind of news will be coming through.
Alder's mood is put on hold as he spots Sunshine retrieve her Conch and answer it, alarm suddenly flashing across her face. "Is, ah, something the matter?"
"Colobok– Colobok, hold on. Let me talk to…" Miss Sunshine stutters, frowning, overwhelmed, and yanks the Conch away from her ear. "It's Cutlass… Sparkler, Ossie, a bunch of the others… they all got taken somewhere. Two Reeds' plan went bad out of the blue, they think it was some kind of weapon at the Temple of the Heart. Everyone else is mostly okay, but they're trapped in the Temple, trying to find a way out… th-they need my orders!"
Frantic, Miss Sunshine starts to pace about the deck, face fraught with worry.
"DO you have an estimate on their location and how deep underground or high up they are?" he asked letting a golden eye slowly glance over.
"Taken? O-Oh, goodness! We ought to hurry, then. Should we go check at the Temple of Heart for this weapon, then? Maybe we can find a way to reverse it."
Clouds face drops with dread, feeling concern of what they might get into after hearing of the weapon, and over hearing the others being taken and the rest trapped.
"Do…Do you think they took them to the Vault?"
"I… m-maybe? What would it be like within the Vault? We should hurry even moreso."
"I don't know, if they're tossing everything in there it might be a landfill."
"Perhaps there might be treasure."
Cerulean looks in the direction that Sir Pent is pointing and tilts her head a moment, but seems to put it together.
"Oooh! Okay!" She starts to walk in whatever direction Sir Pent points towards.
Droplet arches a brow as Cerulean takes Sir Pent away from the direction of escape, but stops himself from intervening, and follows along.
Through the stony ruins, the scent trail leads downward
, and in fact, the further it is followed, the more you realize you are heading downward through floors, floors you did not know the Temple of the Heart held, shattered and upended, as if something had drilled through the very earth. The air is putrid with the stench of sea-rot, stagnant and beyond humid…
Some levels down, the trail comes to a dead end… at some kind of horrid orifice
in the earth. A great ovular shape, mayhap fifteen feet tall, leaning into the earth below as if it were the head of a pustule. The "head" is sealed shut with a combination of metal and the sludge of the Metal Men's suits. Unlike elsewhere, this sludge is still liquid, not hardened.
"Careful, don't get close," Droplet warns. "Stuff's likely to take you away like it did Colobok…"
There's no apparent way to open it, but the hole is oriented toward the South…
"Maybe a cocoon, or a doorway?" Droplet speculates. "Cerulean, you sense anything around us?"
"The Vault would be my guess," Bee Holder says. "Or if not there, then the Ruby Round. Those two are still the strongholds of the Metal Men along with the Capital."
"C-Colobok is requesting we regroup to discuss a new plan of attack," Miss Sunshine shouts to both crews. "Their plan's down half its people, so they're considering pulling out. What do–"
"What are you asking me for?" Bee Holder scoffs. "They are your crew; you are their Captain. Lead them!"
"Tch–!" Miss Sunshine gasps, barely containing her panic. "…Colobok, let's regroup. Head due west from the Capital and send out the signal flare when you're at a safe distance. Stay put there and we'll find you."
Willow raised a brow but looked at the sphere he had finished yesterday before humming a bit and starting to take some glass and bits of metal, starting a new project while they waited.
Cloud gulps from nervousness hearing it's likely either of the Metal Men's hideouts that Cutlass and the others were taken to, dreading the possibility.
"Perhaps they are in the Ruby Round? I think it would be more likely to find them within the vault, but… it could also make sense to make us split attention from the vault, yes?"
Cerulean has a disgusted and confused look on her face, not liking the smell nor the appearance of this. Cerulean looks to Droplet and scratches her head, seeming unsure.
"Lemme…get used to this smell first…." Cerulean tries to brace herself as she tries to use her senses and such to try and detect if anything else is amiss.
>Perception like Droplet requested>Electroception
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
You can sense that it is indeed a doorway, for there is a vast emptiness beyond it too deep to belong to a cocoon… a distant wind indicates an end far away… you check also with your Demonic senses, but you cannot sense any souls or other supernatural entities beyond the doorway. Still, you have no way of opening this eldritch door.>>760010>>760011>>760012
"I hope it is," Miss Sunshine says, finally hanging up. "Colobok's report made it sound like it was too dangerous to get into the Capital right now. They don't know that weapon's range or area of coverage, either. If we didn't hear the blast from this distance, then I don't think we're in danger out here or at the shore…"
"But getting too close to the Capital with too big a group would open us up for fire," Bee Holder concludes. "…We need also to figure out how far that weapon can reach, whether the Round is also a target."
Sir Pent slithers down and searches for signs of how the door was opened in the first place.
>Survival: spot check rolls +3. Can create and forage for basic supplies like rope, bandages, tents, torches and low-quality meals. Can see far into the distance and can see if dim or night light.>[1d10+3]Roll #1 3 + 3 = 6
It appears that the door slides outward radially from its center, pulled by the black sludge. But with no way for either of you to interact with that sludge, it doesn't seem operable for anyone besides Metal Men.
"So, uh… What is this weapon then?"
Cloud asks as the two captains discuss the new force the Metal Men are employing.
Sir Pent is but a snake, not a problem solver. He slithers back up Cerulean.
Perhaps we should try and go underground or something.?" He pondered aloud as he seemed to be shaping a pair of spectacles.
"Huh, jeez…you really wanna get in there, huh?" She ponders over things a bit and shrugs, then looks to Droplet.
"So last time there was this gunk blocking something, I just sorta beat it up. Think maybe I should give it a few whacks?" She slaps her tail on the ground for emphasis, though she is looking for a second opinion before making a tense situation even more tense.
"Hmm… have we anything in the way of a decoy? I would rather not risk our own lives to figure out the range of such a weapon."
"I wouldn't recommend it, that stuff looks live," Droplet says. "Besides–"
Before he can continue, Colobok hisses from above, and throws down a pure-black paper airplane. You recall this from Kaco Island, the last message Colobok was able to get out before being captured by Queen Toko's torturers: Shadow Paper Airplane!
Droplet catches and unfolds the paper airplane, and you are able to watch with him a glimpse of recorded footage of Metal Men prowling around the levels above. This footage appears to have been taken from within the collapsed room… it's safe enough in there, but the route out will be tricky.
"Shit, we shouldn't stay here…" Droplet whispers. "Hey– we should consider getting out of here.">>760021>>760019>>760017
The two ships start to drift eastward to the shoreline, looking for a suitable place for a makeshift dock.
"Colobok made it sound like some kind of ranged energy weapon," Miss Sunshine explains. "Apparently, everything in the Temple went dark when they heard it power up, like it was draining the rest of the Temple's magical energy to ready a shot."
"With that much power, it's going to have considerable range," Bee Holder says. "We should consider all the Capital, and some miles out, to be unsafe."
"Energy tends to want to disperse," Doctor Godot chimes in. "Once it's been fired, no shot from that weapon will keep its potency for long. Not to mention the difficulty of even aiming over great distances. I don't think we'll have to be overly concerned about it being able to hit us so long as we maintain cover and keep a dash of common sense in our mugs."
"A whole building's worth of magic?" Cloud repeats with dread. "Well, hey, it shouldn't be able to fire it off that much, right? A whole temple to recharge must take a while," He follows, trying to look on the brighter side.
"Seems like it hits hard but has a big recoil and recovery. It's an easy enough way to beat. We need to bait outba shot and then rush in before it has a chance to recover. That or we go in a way they can't see us."
Sir Pent sits with an air of sad resignation upon Cerulean's head.
Cerulean looks to Sir Pent and pats his head.
"Don't worry. We'll get ourselves back together and come back, okay? I could really use some patching up, honestly."
"So…up is out. So which way?"
"Hmm… that is a disturbing range. If it is want to disperse, I wonder if there is a way we could make it do so faster? Regardless, sticking to cover and out of sight sounds like the safest bet if we are to approach."
"We could all use it," Droplet agrees. "Alright, this way…"
>one stealth and one navigation roll please, +1 bonus to each due to assassins' and C&J's presences>>760023>>760024>>760027
The two ships pull in parallel to a level enough section of cliffside, employing lookouts to ensure you don't graze against rocks in the waters below. The ships drop anchor, then extend the gangplanks to land, and about half of each crew disembarks for land.
"They should be due southeast of us," Miss Sunshine says. "The sun's on our side for now, but sticking to cover means sticking to shadow. Give a shout if any of the Metal Men get you – but shut your traps otherwise!"
I don't know if Sir Pent has to stealth if he's on Cerulean… but…
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Also a navigation roll with a +3 if survival applies to it.
[1d10+3]Roll #1 1 + 3 = 4
The large and otherwise noisy Cerulean tries to her best to be like the sneaky assassins she's currently traveling with. What could go wrong?
[1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
/ Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4
As they dock, Cloud feels a bit unsure of how to help. He gives Chiu a hug as the gangplanks are set up.
"I'll be sticking in one piece this time. It'll be quick, I hope," He says to her before joining the expedition crew.
"I am… somewhat skilled in stealth, though my game has always been deception and misdirection- I can try to offer pointers, but I cannot promise the best of results. How large of a group ought we take?" He asks, before looking for Splendid- is she coming along, or staying behind?
Willow and Two Tons tagged along, the Kirin once again fiddling with his spectacles as he remained relatively close to Cloud.
>>760029>>760030>>760031>dubs… trips… sort of?
Cerulean is able to swim up through the floor to the upper levels, while Droplet hops from floor to floor with Sir Pent in the crook of his arm like a hoofball. When they reach Colobok, Cycle and Juniper, they find that the three have managed to clear out a small tunnel through the fallen rubble. Though they light is low, they keep an eye out for the patrols, and when a gap presents itself, they sprint through the opening as quiet as they can.
Soon they are vaguely aware of having passed through some manner of doorway, then of stepping into a much vaster space, judging by how every sound now seems to echo outward…
This must be the main chamber of the Temple… the great doors await them, but as Cerulean recalls, they can only be opened by switches atop staircases, near the apex of the doors.>>760032
"Cloud," Chiu sighs. "Whatever you do, don't lose your eyebrows, okay? You're already down one eye, it'll be hard to express yourself if you keep losing more of your face."
Was that supposed to be some kind of joke…? She must be really nervous.>>760032>>760033>>760034
Puddin Tame, Splendid, Squatz and Paraiba join your group, Splendid having apparently made some kind of nervous tic out of running her claws through Alder's feathers.
The others fan out in small groups of their own, sticking to cover and shadow with eyes peeled and weapons drawn, trying to bridge the uncomfortable distance of moving fast and quiet at the same time…
Alder squirms a little as Splendid immediately resumes running her talons through his feathers, before looking up at her and letting out a nervous warble "Y-You are coming along? You do not have to, if you do not wish to- I will endeavor to keep you safer this time, I promise."
Willow for his part was surprisingly apt at being quiet aside from the soft tinks of his work on his next gadget. Two Tons similarly managed to be quieter than one would expect for a walking machine pony thing. Perhaps his insides could insulate against sound.
Cerulean gives a slight sigh of relief as she sees the doors, even if the mechanism for them was a bit high up.
"Alright, I think we're almost out? If someone can get up there with me to the other lever, we can open these doors and get out."
Cloud gives a light chuckle in response, almost shaking a little himself.
"Heh, you got it.">>760035
Cloud keeps close to the group as they venture through the jungle, not wanting to get caught by any surprise ambushes, while also keeping his ears on high alert for any sounds.
Sir Pent slithers to the other lever dutifully.
As you split up to approach the levers, however…DOOM… … … DOOM… … …
With footfalls heavy enough to rattle the living bones of this Temple, a silhouette glides against the darkness, its graceful, stoic gliding contrasted by the earth-shaking steps it takes. With no light on in the Temple, you cannot see its true breadth and height, but its silhouette is gargantuan enough to obscure the massive front doors of the Temple.
>roll stealth again, DC 8, +1 from assassins.
Colobok's and Droplet's glaze over. They brace themselves, and an air about them suggests they're full ready to turn themselves into living sacrifices for your escape.>>760036
She briefly stops her scratching to honk your beak. "They're my allies too, Alder. A little brush with death isn't enough to intimidate me out of fighting at your side, either!">>760036>>760037>>760039https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRwnj5Olb5U
The all-too-familiar heat and humidity swallow you up, just as brambles and brush fall upon you like another layer of clothing.
>roll stealth and navigation, +1 to stealth from PT and Squatz, +1 to Navigation from Paraiba and Splendid
Alder squawks softly as his beak is honked, before leaning into the larger griffon and huffing a little. "I suppose you are right. I should not treat you like a child because of my mistake, anyways." he replies, squeezing her larger, thicker talons with his own. "You, ah… you are welcome to keep scratching- it is quite nice! Unless you would prefer me to return the favor instead.">Navigation [1d10+1]>Stealth [1d10+1]Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
/ Roll #2 4 + 1 = 5
Cloud fans his wings now and then to try and shake off the oppresive jungle climate, which is adding onto the uncomfortable feeling they could be ambushed again like last time. But still he marches on with the group.>Stealth [1d10+1]>Navigation [1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
/ Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8
Cerulean looks at Colobok and Droplet and she shakes her head from the look they have, as if trying to silently tell them to not think that. She motions for them to go first before she starts making her way as quietly as she can manage.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
Riding Cerulean, is it really necessary to roll? Well, here it is anyway!
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Willow for his part seemed more focused on his work but Two Tons seemed to have picked up the slack as he watched things.
[1d10+1] StealthRoll #1 2 + 1 = 3
/ Roll #2 1 + 1 = 2
Sadly for Alder, Puddin' shoots him and Splendid a frustrated glare at all the noise. She falls silent, and lets her feline ancestry take over, keeping as low as she can through the sweltering brush, despite her stature.
Your groups stick together as you pick and crawl through the brush, keeping bushwhacking to a minimum, communicating only with a few necessary gestures here or there, or a hissed word when it seems like someone's about to make a wrong turn. Mercifully, your course runs near a coursing estuary, offering you some reprieve from the intense heat whenever the riverbank is low and level enough for you to keep near it.
However, near the end of the first hour of navigating, Cloud's neck starts to itch, as the finest of hairs stand on end, buzzing with faint anxiety…>>760051>>760052
The two of you are forced to split up, with Cerulean taking the western staircase, and Sir Pent the eastern one. Colobok and Droplet remain where they are with Cycle and Juniper, keeping close watch on the patrolling giant…
Cerulean makes it up to her lever, but Sir Pent finds himself struggling with the stairs, as they were not designed with snakes in mind, much less chubby snakes… and as he gets about halfway up, the giant Metal Man pauses… barely more than a silhouette, the rusted steel of his ungainly helmet creaks and groans as his head turns to the east…
Willow seemed to have finished his work at this point and gently placed the spectacles on his nose before his eyes as he proceeded to turn his focus back to the path itself for now.
Two Tons to his credit was trying to not be a large metal construct clomping through the jungle bless his big mechanical heart.
Alder attempts to remain as silent as he can as they travel; unfortunately, navigating a crowd is different from navigating a jungle. The heat does him few favors either, but he manages to keep the noise to a minimum.
Cerulean watches as the Metal Man begins to look to where Sir Pent is. She tries to think quickly to get the chubby snake an opening, and she then thinks of something.
She quickly fuses with Roger and rushes out from her hiding spot, giving the Metal Man a hard smack of her tail. Then using the speed/momentum of the strike, she backs off and dives into the ground as she tries out a bit of hit and run to distract the construct.
>Slam>Crit 8+, DC -1, using as a Ranged attack, take better
[1d10+1]Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
/ Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6
Sir Pent coils, ready to lash out at the Metal Man.
>Trap: recharge 1; Starting next turn, first enemy to attack is helpless for 2 turns.>[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
As the Metal Giant's silhouette turns, four ghostly un-lights, pale and crusted as sickness, glow from within, behind a greasy and spotted glass visor. Its deformed hand, wrapped in its stinking, sodden cloth suit, reaches toward the eastern stairwell – until Cerulean leaps from the top of the western staircase, and slams into the monstrosity's helmet! A dull ringing shakes the Heart Temple's entrance-chamber. The Metal Giant swings at the open air, but Cerulean has already dived down into the earth.
The Metal Giant raises its foot, preparing itself to stomp…! Droplet and Colobok grab Cycle and Juniper, then leap into the air to avoid the tremors!
>Cerulean and Sir Pent roll dodge, instant, DC 7
Cloud is as silent as a bat as they trek through the jungle, eyes looking every which way to keep an eye on all directions. When they reach a river, he sighs in relief at the break in heat it gives, the island atmosphere really taking its toll.
When his neck begins to itch, he scratches at it, feeling the jitters. He glances around, feeling the paranoia picking up, hoping its just his nerves and not some terrible bug bite or other horrible incident.
Sir Pent dodges clumsily. He is a fat boi.
>[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
The duo of brains and less brains continued on not being particularly good at navigating of the area or being stealthy. They simply just moved with the others.
Willow continued his crafting of the pair of specs he seemed quite interested in making.
Cerulean, being a bit blind while in the ground, doesn't know the giant is getting ready to stomp. So she bursts from the ground, sees the oncoming foot, and tries to avoid being stomped on while also attempting to bite its ankle.
[1d10]>Great Weapon Attack
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
Everyone braces themselves for the Temple to quake at the giant's stomp – but when the giant's foot slams to the ground, there is no shuddering, no rumbling. All, in fact, seems still and quiet, until a half-moment later, when a sudden weight drops down upon Cerulean and Sir Pent, knocking the two to the ground.
Gained Status Condition: Siren of the Sea I>Siren of the Sea I>Effect: No immediate mechanical Effects besides written fluff descriptions. Being hit again with an attack that inflicts SOTS will upgrade this Status Condition to Siren of the Sea II.>Duration: Until Dispelled or exposed to harsh sunlight.
In turn, the assassins, Juniper and Cycle all fall to the ground. Cerulean's and Sir Pent's heads swim with darkened vision, their skin and ears and eyes feeling soaked, bloated and waterlogged. A dim, deep wailing assails their ears, a distorted siren heard from far off…
Cerulean forces herself to her hooves, then darts forward and bites the Giant's ankle! Briefly it stumbles, before reaching back to grab her.
The Assassins leap for the stairwells, becoming dark blurs as they make for the switches that you two tried to go for!
Juniper and Cycle groan, looking like they'll soon be sick, but steady themselves. Cycle grabs a piece of rubble from nearby, then spins and kicks it at the Giant!
Juniper sprinkles glitter from her purse onto her head!
[1d10+3] Dress-Up Magic: Sir Pent!>>760061>>760215>>760056
The treeline to the south shudders and thrashes without warning, and all your groups dive for the nearest cover on instinct! From high above and to the south, large shadows loom overhead – angular, obsidian silhouettes. They linger about overhead… could it just be the Watchkeepers who protect the Island…?
>roll stealth, instant, and mandatory, each turnRoll #1 4 + 2 = 6
/ Roll #2 5 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #3 5 + 3 = 8
Willow broke his focus from his work for a moment and motioned for him and Two Tons to try and slip into the shadows.
[1d10+1] Stealth 1
[1d10+1] Stealth 2Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
/ Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11
Cerulean stumbles a bit from the odd feeling. She was used to feeling soaked and wet, what with being a sharkpony and all, but this time didn't feel right.
"Gah…what the?!" She tries to make a bit of sense of it all as she goes to slam her tail into where she bit it, but this time looking to make a splash and flood the area a bit.
>Slam>Crit 8+, DC -1, using as a Ranged attack, take better, Tidepool
[1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
/ Roll #2 2 + 1 = 3
Sir Pent, still on Cerulean's back, has the luxury of not having to pay attention while getting away. Instead, Sir Pent listens to the singing. He tries to figure out where it is coming from. What it is saying.
This decision is, of course, not a conscious one, as Sir Pent is a snake.
>[1d10] to listen to singingRoll #1 5 = 5
>>760718>Stealth: [1d10+2] (+1 TBP)
Alder nearly lets out a panicked chirp, but keeps himself quiet! He'll try to slink through the shadows.Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Cerulean doubles down on the Giant's lightly injured leg, causing it to stumble down to one knee, but this only accelerates the drop of its hand onto her back. The Giant's hand closes around her and Sir Pent, trapping the two inside its iron grasp! As it raises them up, the Giant's head snaps back, struck by the chunk of rubble that Cycle "Kick"ed at it!
>Cerulean and Sir Pent are immobilized and must roll to break free before being able to act again
As Cycle readies another chunk of rubble, you see Juniper transform beside him – the glitter she tossed all about herself transfigures into a kind of silk, and also rubber, and even metal, all in shades of orange and black. In an instant, she's cosplaying as a four-legged Sir Pent!
Juniper hisses and screeches, and her tail elongates, coiling into a snare!
[1d10+2] Cosplay Skill: Trap!
The Giant's faceplate rises upwards from its helmet, and it leans over more, coughing up a dark and sinister brew of the black, tar-like sludge common to all Metal Men, the sludge that takes away memories and minds…
Cycle gasps and grabs onto Juniper, trying to fly the two away from the pool!
[1d10+2] dodge vs. DC 8>>760719>>760722
As you sneak eastward, you're able to get a glimpse at the shadows above… and you behold now that they are no mere Watchkeepers. What flies above you is a grotesque amalgam of the obsidian automata, a heap of winged insectine Watchkeepers, bound together by a hardened sludge, the kind you have seen exuded by the Metal Men.
The amalgam hovers above you, scanning the forest below in a hexagonal pattern, its internal crystal engines burning through untold amounts of power to keep itself afloat in spite of its unaerodynamic design. More dark sludge drips from its many agape mandibles…
The other pirates among you whisper with horror… this is the first time they've seen something of the Metal Men survive outside, in the sunlight, seemingly their sole weakness…Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
/ Roll #2 4 + 2 = 6
Cerulean snarls a bit, noting she couldn't just 'dive' into its arm or something and starts squirming around to try to get herself enough room to muscle her way out.
"Let go of me! Let go so I can hit you!"
>Escaping the grab
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Willow narrowed his eyes as he quickly worked to get his spectacles up and working faster and faster, hoping they might key him into this creatures nature.
[1d10+1] stealth Willow
[1d10+1] Stealth Two TonsRoll #1 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 1 + 1 = 2
Alder frowns a little. Metal Men surviving in the sun? Maybe the Black Sludge, or something else. >Stealth: [1d10+1]Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
The Metal Man raises the arm holding Cerulean and Sir Pent, ready to slam them down onto the sludge, but Juniper, carried aloft in Cycle's arms, whips her tail around his wrist, and twists, the Metal Man's arm groaning and shuddering at horrifying angles. At that moment, Sir Pent expands his body, ripping the hand apart! Cloth and metal fall into the sludge as the fingers snap, leaving the palm disabled.
But from below, dozens of long, many-jointed arms arise from the black sludge, and grab onto Cycle's hind legs. His eyes roll back in his head, and color drains from his body, and his wings fall limp. Juniper cries in horror as he and she start to plummet into the sludge, but she manages to reach up, and grab onto Sir Pent, and Sir Pent onto her…
You hear a further metal grinding from above, as Colobok and Droplet reach the levers controlling the front door, and throw all their weight onto them…!>>760726>>760725
Cracks and snaps as loud as thunder ring out – as the amalgam machine plummets from the sky, breaking through vine and branch and trunk, its great weight mangling all below it! The pirates scatter and dive, but Two Tons is not so fast as to escape in time, and with a deep crunching, is flattened beneath the amalgam-machine.
>Two Tons loses 2 Wounds and is incapacitated until freed
Panic flares among the groups. Dust from wood and stone fill the air, obscuring all vision, save for the amalgam's looming silhouette…
Willow froze for a moment before growling and letting his Spell emulator open up and work to summon magic to attack this monstrosity that dare harm his friend.
[1d10] Homing Magic:MagmaRoll #1 1 = 1
Sir Pent uses all of his snakey strength to pull out Juniper.
[1d10] to pullRoll #1 9 = 9
Cerulean sees what is happening to Cycle and redoubles her efforts, even trying to push herself by using a burst of her aura.
"Okay, forget trying to hit you. Now I gotta save my friend!"
>using temp aura point thing
[1d10+1]Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
Cloud hides in the bushes, the sight of the obsidian amalgam leaving him stunned in fright and bad remembrance of his last encounter with the Watchkeepers, and that was just a normal one.
He peers out after the thunderous crash, holding his hooves over his ears from the sound. When he sees Two Tons trapped beneath it, he rises up, still fearful of the amalgam but he can't just sit by leaving it crushing Two Tons. He runs over, attempting to pull the machine out before the bigger one can react and respond after it's crash.>Pull Free [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Piccolo meme [1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Yamcha pose [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Alder hisses angrily and tries to at ward off the amalgam. He'll use… the Witchwood Bow! Maybe the creature is magic?
>Ranged Attack: [1d10+2] (+2 TBP)Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
Sir Pent and Cerulean flex, and pull back Juniper, and the sludge-hands lose their grasp on Cycle's legs, but instead, start to pull out several pearl-like crystals and gemstones, which float out of his flesh like an object drawn from a pond. Inside the crystals can be seen images and icons, memories and aspects of his self, as Cerulean knows from firsthand experience.
The great doors groan open, and let in the incredible sunlight… but the giant is not immobilized. Now that light has been let into the previously darkened chamber you can see that a heavy, solidified sludge, a putrefied crust
, covers almost all of this giant's body. Unlike the previous giant who guarded this zone, this one is not so easily slain by the sunlight…
Cycle's limp form– stirs. Color rushes back into his body, as the Crimson King's golden irises take over Cycle's blank white eyes. "Oh, there we go, much better," the King says.
He swings himself over, much to Juniper's horror, and grabs onto a small patch of exposed cloth on the Metal Man's body. Golden Aura flashes about his hand, in the form of rings, bracelets, and all-around bling.
"This item came to me damaged," the King says, to nobody in particular. "I'd like an exchange on this."
Immediately, a massive cloth diving suit, fit only for a giant, appears on the ground before the Crimson King, whole and without blemish.
And as for the Encrusted Metal Giant – everything below his suit has been exposed to the sunlight. For only a brief instant, so infinitesimally brief, can you see the dark mass below, unable to make sense of the lumps, and the chasms, and the churning, and the bubbling–
–before it all erupts into a blinding, wretched inferno. The two of you fling yourselves away, lest ye be exposed and consumed by the maelstrom of fire. You fall to the ground, just moments after the black sludge below you, now exposed to the sun in turn, immolates, and dissolves, leaving only Cycle's crystals there.
Juniper lays there in silent shock, eyes wavering in horror.>>760732>>760729>>760735
A jagged appendage whips out from the smoke, and sweeps across the wreckage, striking Alder and Willow across the chests, tossing them both through the air.
>Alder, Willow 0/4
Cloud ducks under the strike, and reaches for Two Tons. Despite the weight of the two automata, the adrenaline coursing through Cloud helps him to yank the smaller machine free.
As the amalgam's eyes glow a deeper red, preparing for an attack– metallic scraping rings out from the north, as three Watchkeepers descend upon the amalgam, a spider, a scorpion, and a vulture! Pirates scatter for safety as the four obsidian machines fall into a frenzy, thrashing and flailing as to destroy each other and everyone around.
"C'mon!" a voice shouts, indiscernible through the chaos. "Keep going, leave them!"
Willow and Two Tons Groaned as they both worked to stand up.
[1d10] StandRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
"Ack. Agh." Alder manages, attempting to right himself mid-air!>Recovery [1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
Cerulean dives into the ground to land from the drop and also to best escape the fire, but pokes her head up fast enough to watch everything happen. She picks herself up and out before the fusion ends and blinks in a mix of amazement and 'not sure what she just saw.'
"Woah…now that was cool to watch. Ah!" Cerulean goes over to the orbs, making sure they don't wander away too far or anything. She visibly shivers a bit, remembering when this process happened to her.
Cloud falls back as he pulls Two Tons free, looking up at the amalgam as it readies to attack, only to be besieged by other Watchkeepers. He mutters thanks for that lucky moment, not wanting to fight any of these again. As the pirates shout to get going, Cloud scrambles up, looking to see WIllow and Alder downed by a sweep of the machine. He quickly runs over to Alder, helping up the gryphon so they can get moving.>Recover Assist [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Sir Pent basks in the sunlight, happy to warm up.
Gently, as one would handle a gourmet hamburger, the Crimson King picks up Sir Pent. Cerulean recovers the crystals containing Cycle's essence, while the assassins rush down to the ground floor. Without breaking stride, Colobok helps Juniper up, and keeps running through the doorway. "Let's go, спешить!" he shouts. "Our ride awaits to the west!"
With the snake secured, the Crimson King runs after the assassins.>>760737>>760738>>760740
Cloud and Tons duck, and throw themselves onto Willow as metal and shards of stone fly across the battlefield, pelting pirates, who scream in agony. Alder is struck in the shin by one such shard, and a hot flush of blood gushes from the site of the wound.
In the midst of the chaos, Alder feels Puddin grab him by the scruff and wrench him upward, and Squatz does the same for Willow. The two don't stop to help further, instead bolting for the east as fast as they can.
Two Tons and Willow grab everything they dropped and bolted off after the others, wincing and groaning in pain as they did so.
Sir Pent tries to slither his way back to the familiar flesh of Cerulean.
As the pirates scramble and get everypony up to get out of there, Cloud has the nagging instinct to make sure everypony else gets moving before he leaves after them, so nopony is left behind.
"T-Thank you, Puddin. That was rather unbecoming of me, ehehe…" he works himself to all fours, and bolts after everyone else.
"L-Let us hope we can put good ground between us and them."
With the crystals secured, and making sure Roger and the gang were as well, Cerulean also makes good on getting out. She uses the flooded state of the room to get a bit of extra speed until she got back to dry land. In which case…she was still moving fairly fast.
"Huh, that was a weird way of saying his name," she says to the King, curiosity over the odd thing he said overtaking the fact the two are supposed to be rivals.
The Crimson King offers Sir Pent a juicy-looking cricket. Wonder how much that cost him. >>760743>>760745>>760746
Splendid doubles-back when she realizes Cloud's the last to leave, and nearly wrenches his arm out of his socket to pull him along. Together, the groups of pirates continue running to the east, until the last sounds of the gigantic mecha-beast battle fade away behind you. The adrenaline from the flight quickly drains, and you are forced to stop to treat your injuries and gulp down water, lest exhaustion do what the Watchkeepers could not.>>760747>>760746>>760745>>760744>>760743
After treating their wounded, the teams from the ships continues eastward, and Cerulean's group continues westward out of the Capital. The eastbound team continues on their trajectory, until they pick up on an old road, its use obviously discontinued even before the sacrifice of Cuauhtemoc, and start to follow it toward the Capital. Meanwhile, Cerulean's group follows the modern road out of the Capital. Soon enough, the two groups hear one another, and after some mutual suspicion and scouting out, you both see one that it is each other you have heard and come upon.
Willow for his part was wincing and trying to fiddle with his Two Tons as he desired to get him back up and running again. He noted the others but remained focused on getting his companion back to top shape.
Two Tons for his part waved to the others.
>1 Turn spent to repair Two Tons
Cloud stumbles as Splendid yanks him along, taking a moment to get his hooves moving.>>760748>>760747
Cloud waves over to the other group as they end up crossing paths along the roads, worn after all the trekking.
"Glad to see you guys got out okay," He says to the friendly faces, something nice to see in this jungle rather than more death machines.
Sir Pent eats the cricket and remains on top of the Crimson King.
"Thank you for grabbing Cloud, Splendid Dear." Alder chirps, flicking his tail at her beak gently. He'll thank her more properly once they stop to treat injuries, but it's still rather brief- a quick kiss between bandage dressings and wound cleanings.>>760748>>760750>Treatment on: Alder, Willow Wisp, Cloud.
"I would offer to help with Two-Tons, but I am afraid my methods do not help machines."
"Cloud! Everyone!" Cerulean, as beaten up as she is and likely looks, still has enough energy to run up and pull Cloud into a big, tight Cerulean hug. She ends up dropping Cloud as she waves over to Alder, not hugging him *yet* since he seems to be busy doing something.
"I missed you guys so much! And holy shrimp its dangerous around here!"
She then peers over closer, seeing Two Tons, but also someone else she doesn't recognize.
"Oh hey! Who's that? I don't think I saw them before we split up."
Splendid bites the top of your head as if to swallow you whole. Seems she's not very comfortable with more… conventional forms of affection.>>760752>>760751>>760750>>760749>>760753
The Crimson King quietly turns to Cerulean, and takes the crystals bearing the portions Cycle lost of himself. He presses the crystals back into Cycle's body, and flips the coin that has Cycle's head in the cameo. The griffon's body goes limp for a moment, before Cycle wakes back up with a pained, nauseous grimace.
"Let's keep it quick," Droplet says, as the members of the groups start to catch one another up. "The Captain's in danger."
The two groups take this second rest break to review what's happened since they split for their different missions…
"Ah! Cerulean!" Alder calls out, though he can't hug her just yet. He finishes binding Willow Wisp's injuries after smearing them with a soothing, blueish-green paste, and gives the stallion a soft smile.>>760749
"There. That should handle the worst of it.">>760753
Now that he's free of wound-mending, he hops up and wraps his forelegs around the sharkpony's neck before chirping "Ah! I was very worried about you and Cutlass- it is good for my heart to see you well… though, ah! You have many injuries- here, let me help with those, please. If you still wish for scars and marks I can leave them, but at least let me mend the injuries and dull the pain." He remarks, gently tapping her snout. "I only hope you visited far more damaging injuries upon them.">>760754
Alder lets out a mildly confused chirp as she bites at his head, but responds with a soft bite of his own, and a caring nuzzle.
"Thanks," Cloud says as Alder helps patch everypony up.>>760753
Cloud groans as he's pulled into a tight shark hug. "G-Glad somepony's doing great out here still," He says with a chuckle.
"Yea, we just ran from some of those machines fighting each other, it's crazy out here."
Willow glanced back at Cerulean and the others he wasn't too familiar with before focusing back on Two Tons
>1 more turn repairing.>>760755
"Thank you sir." Willow commented as his wounds healed.
Sir Pent listens anxiously about the fate of his pony.
The two sides fill one another in on what transpired in the others' absence. Splendid explains the town plagued by the theft of its very self, and the selves of its inhabitants, and Droplet catches the crews up on the gist of their failed mission, and the loss of Captain Cutlass, Two Reeds, Ossie, Sparkler, and the two Ninjador, Hollow Promise and Auspicious Sign.
"Now," Colobok says. "You mentioned you were attacked on the way here?"
"Yeah," Squatz says. "By a Watchkeeper, but it didn't look normal. Then a normal-looking one pounced on it, and we split while they were fighting."
"Was the attacker all coated in dark, mucus-like crust, by any chance?" Colobok asks.
"That's the one," Puddin says.
"Perhaps not just one," Colobok continues. "Come, show us to the site of the attack."
"You saw more of those grungy machines? Feels like this island is getting worse by the minute," Cloud comments, not feeling keen on hearing more of those odd watchers are about.
Sir Pent is visibly nervous about returning to the site of those big things. But, he also seems to feel safer knowing that he is protected by the Crimson King.
"Yeah. After some giant laser beam thing got us separated from Cutlass, there was a giant one of those guys. But it was all covered in this cloth that made him able to be around in the sun until it got pulled off. Had me grabbed something fierce, too.">>760755
"Hehe, well except for the big guy I just mentioned, everything else was breaking apart with a good smack of my tail."
Willow seemed to be content with his work on Two Tons as he turned and looked to the others
"Seems these things are quite nasty."
He looked to his spectacles and nodded seeing he had managed to finish them.
"Good! As able a warrior as ever- I should not have presumed otherwise!" Alder remarks, getting to work mending her injuries once he's been set down by Splendid.>Using Natural Remedy and Medic's Knife.>>760794
"A great number of losses… concerning. Are they, ah, gone? Or simply out of reach for now?" He asks, worriedly.
"A-And, yes- the attacker was much as you expect. Here, the site was over this way."
"I worry the answer may be the both," Colobok says to Alder's question. "We may find hope, at the site of the attack."
Spurred by Colobok's urging, your groups pick back through the jungle, following their fresh trail as best they can, and at times, stopping to erase the trails on Droplet's advice. Though this slows you somewhat, it is not long before once more you see the great clearing where the amalgam of insect Watchkeepers quite literally fell upon you. Shattered trees, gashed, crushed rocks, and pooling water from the disturbed water table mark the site of a fierce melee… but neither combatant is anywhere to be seen.
You look to the south, and see that the clearing has been extended… by the outline of something that was recently dragged away.
Sir Pent slithers into the underbrush, searching for signs of danger.
>Survival: spot check rolls +3. Can create and forage for basic supplies like rope, bandages, tents, torches and low-quality meals. Can see far into the distance and can see if dim or night light.>[1d10+3]Roll #1 10 + 3 = 13
"Sounds like we don't got much to worry about from these if you took out a giant one," Cloud says with some assurance as Cerulean mentions her fight with one of the machines.>>760800
Cloud keeps on alert as they work their way back, not wanting to get caught up in the crossfire of the Watchkeepers or ambushed by new ones. When they find the clearing to be empty and a path leading away, Cloud looks out in the direction of the drags with caution.
"After falling that far, it just pulled itself away since it couldn't walk, right?"
"Mmm. Concerning- I would not like to lose any more, Cutlass especially." Be says, hurrying after the others.
>Master Thief: [1d10+1] Just in case I can get a hunch about anything!Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
"No, you still do. Remember how I said that these things were taking my memories and stuff when I was in that temple? Same deal here. They almost got Cycle Kick.">>760800
Cerulean looks around the clearing in her typical, curious manner.
"Woah…yeah, somethingdefinitely went down here. But where is everything?"
There, Sir Pent finds much wreckage of obsidian and brass… wreckage that is clean of the dark gunk. It appears to be that the victor was the aforementioned abomination, the amalgam of insect-watchkeepers…
However, it looks like there's far too little wreckage for this to have been the site where their battle ended… together, with the obvious dragging marks to the south, suggests that the gunk covered amalgam's goal was not destruction
of its foe, but rather, capture
Alder reaches much the same conclusions… what lies to the south, then, the selfsame direction that Cutlass seemed to be taken via the underground tunnel…?
He suddenly recalls the name: The Ruby Round. >>760802>>760802
Colobok and Droplet convene briefly, whispering to each other, before splitting to address you all.
"If the Metal Men were all capable of covering themselves in this gunk to protect themselves from the sunlight," Droplet begins. "Don't you think they'd have overrun this island by now?"
"Perhaps it's a third party that has taken some of the metal men as it's own minions."
"…Maybe it doesn't last long?"
Cloud says, trying yo find an upside.
Sir Pent points his little snout insistently in the direction he concludes his pony is in.
"Eh, hrm… south, perhaps? I imagine it was capture, not destruction." He suggests, before pointing off in the right way. "Ah.. ah! The Ruby Round?">>760805>>760805
"Perhaps this gunk is something special- it needs to be made. Or, it is as Willow suggests."
"Yeah, but we at least know where Cutlass sorta is…kind of. Its just the way to her is blocked off by a big…clog of that gunk junk."
Cerulean keeps an eye over the area as the others look and talk, not wanting to be caught off-guard again.
"Hey Willow I think the snake wants us to go that way." Two Tons said as the large metal equine clomped over towards Sir Pent.
Willow for his part raised a brow and glanced in the direction Sir Pent was looking.
"That's a hopeful theory, Mr. Wisp, but I don't think it holds up," Droplet says. "It looks too much like the gunk they've been able to use against us, just solidified and treated… like it needs to be, for lack of a better term, forged, or crafted, or manufactured. Something that takes time and focus, and a base of operations. Something that can't be done to all the Metal Men or their captured victims, leaving them to prioritize the best among them."
"Spit it out already!" Puddin growls.
Droplet picks up Sir Pent and wears him like a hat.
"Everyone we lost at the Temple of the Heart?" Colobok begins. "They've been taken to the Ruby Round, just as this Watchkeeper has, to where they make this gunk armor to block out the sunlight. Our allies shall become just like them."
"W-Well! Let us not waste time. We ought to go save them as swiftly as we are able." Alder says, his fur and feathers ruffling up.
"Unpleasant." he said as he placed his specs on for now and was prepared to scan the area.
"Then lets go to this Ruby Round thing and break it open, then break everyone out," she says as her tail already looks rested and ready to break some more things.
"I don't wanna fight our friends all crusty and stuff if I can help it."
"You're saying they're going to turn Cutlass and the others into more of those Metal Men?" Cloud questions, the images already flashing through his head.
"How far away is the Ruby Round?" Do you think they got there already?"
Sir Pent continues to stare in the direction of the marks.
"Let's regroup to the ships, then," Splendid suggests. "The other team – Sir Diamantaire, Schnitzel and Make Believe – they were heading for the Round, last we heard, in't that right? If…" she stops and shudders. "If nothing's befallen them, they'll have at least scouted it out and gauged the danger, yeah?"
You start to rush your way back to the docking location of the ships as you talk – and after some more grueling time in the sweltering brush of the jungle, they at last come into view between the last of the distant trees.
Willow calmly scanned the area looking for anything out of the ordinary as they did so. He didn't want to get hit with an ambush.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 2 = 2
Sir Pent remains on Droplet's head.
"Mmm… p-perhaps it would be best to regroup. I would wish to pursue them, but it would be better to plan than go in without being truly ready."
Cerulean gives an exhausted sigh from the heat and walking.
"Jeez…its too hot. Are we there yet?"
Cloud keeps silent as they head back to the ships, worried now about going into the heart of a processing plant of enemies that'll purge your memories or turn you into one of them. Once the ships come into view, Cloud goes for a bee-line to them, being the one safe place on this island.
Your allies are all on the guns, and scan the horizon behind you as you hurry aboard. The moment the last of your groups has climbed onto their respective ships, the crews yank up the gangplanks, weigh the anchors, and conjure winds with the aid of the winged crewmates to get as far from the cliffside and the malevolent forces ashore as quick as they can.
Your groups have little time for a reprieve, before they split up, to start catching up the rest of the crews on the news. As you set a course for the south, Miss Sunshine takes it upon herself to call up Schnitzel on the conch, as she fervently paces back and forth.
"Schnitzel!" she gasps into the conch. "You're al– whoa whoa whoa, slow down… what? …I see… then you probably won't find this surprising, either: The Captain's in trouble… … … So, be on the lookout… okay, wait, let me get something to write this with… go on… … … Okay, I-I think I've got all of it. Don't get yourself captured too, alright!?"
She hangs up, and flops down into as close a state to gelatin as a vertebrate can be, helpless from stress.
"Guuuuys… cross-crew meeting, again… Schnitzel gave his report."
"They're not captured it sounds like… so is it good news?" Cloud asks.
I have a feeling that it will not be good if your trepidation is anything to go by."
"We will, ah… endeavor to not be caught, yes."
Cerulean looks with a slightly-tilted head and awaits the report.
Bee Holder and Miss Sunshine direct the crews to disembark from the island, taking their chances on the choppy waters near the southern half of the island to get more distance between themselves and any more possessed Watchkeepers. Once you're at a safe distance, Bee Holder has a gangplank extended to the Hidden Dagger,
and Miss Sunshine crosses it, caller conch in hoof, so that everyone can hear her – including the crewmates still on the guns.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpWCk-Z9aRU
"Okay… here's what Schnitzel said," Miss Sunshine begins.
"Him, Make Believe, Sir Diamantaire and a few others have scouted out the Ruby Round. It's late afternoon, so it's still safe for them to talk, but that will change soon, so ask your questions now.
"It looks like the Ruby Round has been converted into some kinda drydocks for the Metal Men. Live Metal Men drag their wounded comrades there under the cover of night, in order that they may be repaired, so long as the Sun Serpent's light isn't there to temporarily erase their existence.
"It looks like the Metal Men have also been experimenting with a few different types of 'living being'. That being wild animals, Watchkeepers, and living mortals captured from the crew of the Thunder Serpent.
"The wild animals and living mortals have undergone unspeakable procedures to become like Metal Men themselves… while Watchkeepers prove harder to convert. It seems that the dark gunk which the Metal Men harbor in their bodies can possess a 'living thing' completely voided of its memories, embodied in those spherical crystals which fall out of someone who touches the gunk.
"The Watchkeepers can also be possessed because the crystals that make up their power-cores also have a kind of life-force. However, almost everything else in a Watchkeeper's body is just rock and metal. Thus, Watchkeepers can go berserk when they're in a Metal Man's possession to cause as much damage before the gunk can reach their core. So, the Watchkeepers aren't very popular among the Metal Men for possession.
"It also seems that the Metal Men are starting to find means of augmenting themselves against the sunlight. When the dark gunk is hardened by some process – which Schnitzel and the others haven't discovered yet – they gain a temporary
resistance to sunlight, but it doesn't last long."
"And how many of the Metal Men have donned this armor?" Doctor Godot asks.
"My theory grows stronger…" Godot notes.
Cerulean listens to all this and seems amazed in intrigued.
"Woah…so thats why the stuff did what it did to me and Cycle." She shivers a bit from remembering the growingly-cold feeling.
"So is there any way of breaking it or something? Besides explosives and using my tail. Pretty sure I still felt my tail going numb whenever I touched it."
"Is the gunk-armor re-usable? Or, is it damageable?" Alder asks, cocking his head to the side. "Hopefully they do not get better at it soon- I would rather try something during the day… but, if we wait, Cutlass and the others might be endangered. Hrm."
Cloud listens on grimly as it already sounds like the conversion process has been going for a bit now.
"So this gunk stuff is the real issue. Is there an easy way to deal with it?" Cloud asks.
He then looks to Godot. "What theory?"
Miss Sunshine relays your questions into the Conch, then awaits Schnitzel's answer.
"Sounds like they haven't really tried, but Cerulean, I mentioned your experiences to them just now. If you had some success fighting them off, they say that should be safe…ish. Physical attacks aren't ideal, but if killing a Metal Man who has stolen away part of someone's self works, they're all for it. Just keep your distance."
"Just as Colobok speculated," Godot says. "If the Metal Men were capable of this gunk-hardening process en masse, this island, and all its inhabitants, long-standing or temporary, would have been captured already. It must take considerable time and, I imagine, resources for it to be accomplished. Miss Sunshine, what does the area surrounding the Ruby Round resemble, geographically?"
Miss Sunshine relays the question before speaking again. "Very rocky, and near a river and a mountain."
"Eureka," Godot deadpans. "They may be harvesting rare minerals of a sort – perhaps a counterpart to the Godray Crystals which have been our protection come nightfall…"
"So this Ruby Round's got to be our next target, posthaste," Bee Holder notes.
"Sounds like they're making some sort of moon crystal," Cloud comments to the theory.
"…Is there anyway to tell who those memory crystals belong to when they come out?"
Willow was quiet for some time as he pondered upon this "Do they have any info as to what the gunk is made of or any other properties such as flammability or reactivity?" he asked after a bit.
"If it's naturally capable of exploding or bursting into flames or anything else it will simplify it's removal and annihilation quite a bit."
"It seems they can be picked up by anyone they DON'T belong to, but when the one they DO belong to touches them, they're immediately drawn back into that person.">>760919
"None of them want to chance touching it, even the hardened material, but it pretty much explodes into fire once sunlight touches it, so sunlight and fire seem like solid options, if you've got either of those on hoof.">>760920>>760919>>760918
"What of tonight, then?" Droplet asks.
"These waves are rocky, unnaturally so," Bee Holder notes. "Getting near the Ruby Round by sea is a lost cause, and I wager, deliberately so."
"The Vault might be influencing the waves," Miss Sunshine agrees with dread. "Well they've got a Godray Crystal they've been charging… if we link up, the light from ours should be enough to help keep things away. Are you all up for getting close to them by nightfall?"
"Mmm… I suppose we have little other choice. We ought to strike tonight maybe, yes."
"With enough time I might be able to rig up something that weaponizes sunlight. Or something." he glanced to the sun quietly as he looked to see how long he had to do just that.
"Well if we can figure out whatever that stuff is, maybe we can find some way of breaking it then. And hopefully soon. Sir Pent was leading me somewhere blocked off by the stuff. Hopefully Cutlass is okay…."
"We can't afford to wait much longer if we want to save Cutlass and the others. We'll have to go tonight."
The Captains nod, and give twin signals to their crews. A great tension fills the pirates, but they obey, rowing the oars and sending wind into the sails to steer the ships back to this dark, sweltering grave of an island. When the ships are close enough to land, the gangplanks extend again, letting you and those who accompanied you last time run back onto shore.
"We'll want to save as much power as we can for the magitech flying-engines," Bee Holder says. "In case we need to flee in a hurry. But if worst comes to worst, fire your flare guns, and we'll come flying in to shoot down your attackers. We'll only be able to do that once… be wise about it."
"Ah, hmm… one time? Very well- we will try to use it only when absolutely needed, yes." Alder remarks, squirming nervously.
Sir Pent nods impatiently from the Crimson King's back.
Willow nodded as he prepared his current gadgets to be ready for this. He began working on another in an attempt to make a make shift sun cannon to deal with any threats.
"Hopefully it shouldn't come to that. Just a quick, get in get out," Cloud says as he prepares himself for this mission.
"No worries! Now that I had that rest, I'm ready to get back to smashing!" Cerulean excitedly gets ready to disembark from the boat, taking everything to not just jump in the water and avoid the gangplank altogether.
This time, as the six of you disembark from the ship, so too does Splendid, Puddin Tame, Droplet and Colobok. A deliberate shrinking of the attack team – apparently, according to Little Miss Sunshine, this was Schnitzel's advice.
>"Trust me, this one's not a lie," Schnitzel says, via Cloud's Caller Conch. "It'll be easiest to explain once you're in-person, but a smaller team of stronger fighters will be a better choice than a larger group."
>"Enough preamble," Droplet says. "We're near a jutting point of the west-southwest cliffside. About how far to the Ruby Round from here?"
>"Tch…" Schnitzel growls. "I think I know whereabouts you are – and it's not like the Round is hard to miss. Follow my instructions and you'll reach our camp soon enough."
>everyone roll navigation, +1 from Schnitzel's assistance
Cerulean takes lead, keeping her tail limber and ready in case something happens.
>Rolling to totally not get lost
[1d10+1]Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4
Cloud follows the group, eye and ears on alert as they enter the jungle again.>Navigation [1d10+1]Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4
Willows device was going to be on the larger side, being something of a shoulder mounted cannon instead of a small one. Given it's energy needs it did make sense. Two Tons meanwhile was his eyes.
[1d10+1] NavigationRoll #1 2 + 1 = 3
Alder's both relieved that their smaller group might be less likely to spot, and worried that their smaller group might be easier to roll over!Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
>>761319>Sun Cannon>Ranged, Great>Damage Type: Light>Effect: Recharge 3: Attack Target(s) from Range with Light Attribute Damage. If the number of Targets is less than 3, then those Targets have their Attribute Relationship to Light Damage reduced by 1 stage until dispelled.>Duration: Until dispelled>>761319>>761318>>761317>>761316>>761320
Cycle Kick runs alongside Cerulean at the head of the group – though, it's Sir Pent who is really doing the leading. Whenever Sir Pent turns his head one direction or another, he sticks his body out, like a pointer hound, to indicate the proper direction to go. Alder keeps an eye on Sir Pent, and hiss-whispers the changes in direction to the rest of the group whenever Sir Pent updates the proper trajectory.
As Cloud keeps Schnitzel on the line, feeding him periodic updates of your journey, you can hear ominous tidings in the background. Metal grinding, creaking… a low shh-shh, shh-shh
of great swaths of cloth rubbing together…
The afternoon light is losing its luster…
Droplet subtly pushes ahead of Cycle Kick, forcing him and Cerulean to increase their pace so as to not lose him!
>roll for travel time; the better the results, the more light you'll have on arrival.
Don't know if I get my bonus for travel time, but I'll just put it in.
>[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Cloud picks up his pace as the sun starts to descend. Despite being a bat this is a night he doesn't want to be out in.>Speed [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Cerulean notices the increase of pace, so she increases her's as well! Though she might be treating it more as a race than anything.
>[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
Willow shouldered the weapon and began to hustle with Two Tons to save daylight.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
As you push along to keep up with Droplet's quiet mixture of impatience and worry, you notice something – this is easier than it was about a month, no, even a week ago. Those of you who awakened to your Auras on Semetyer Island heard from Master Cangrejo and Brewhaha that Aura enhanced one's physical capabilities, but until now, the improvements had been so slight as to not be noticeable… but now, it's as if you had suddenly taken stairs two at a time, instead of just one at a time, that's the kind of climb even your more mundane physical abilities have taken.
However, as you contemplate this, Cerulean drops like a rock. While trying to dash through a bush, she failed to notice an eroded ditch that the bushes concealed, and stepped where she should have leapt. She falls about ten feet, and by the time she rolls to a stop, her hind legs are coated in scrapes and sores, feeling the soreness in her tail and leg bones just as much as upon the skin.
>Cerulean loses 1 Wound and has her max Wounds reduced by 1 until the end of the next sequence
Two Tons stops, however, and helps Cerulean up, propping her upon his shoulders given their similar heights, and you are able to get moving again.
If Cloud wasn't anxious of being jumped, he'd probably find his natural improvement to be great, and a way to skip some workouts. Though as of now the rush to get to the Round is making him not focus on that aspect as much.
When Cerulean suddenly tumbles and falls down, Cloud stops momentarily.
"Are you okay?" He asks with concern, though Two Tons is already up on the save. He then gets back to running once they're set.
"Ah, hmm- I certainly do not feel as if I was in such good shape prior to this. Hiking was never a strong suit of mine… how utterly bizarre." Alder remarks, before shrugging. "I suppose it is the Aura, then?"
Alder lets out a quiet squawk as his friend takes a tumble, and tries to help her to her hooves.
"G-Goodness. Cerulean, do try to be somewhat careful- I do not wish to lose a friend to a tumble and a cliff!"
Sir Pent continues to be snek.
"Owww! Yeah, I'm fine," Cerulean says to Cloud as she keeps up as best she can while being aided. She gives a bit of a grin and chuckle before she speaks again.
"Though for our next big adventure, can it be underwater? I don't have to worry about falling when I'm swimming."
Willow paused and also offered to help Two Tons with Cerulean.
Were it not for Two Tons's robotic strength, Cerulean's injury would surely have hindered your progress – but as the two get used to each other's walking stride, and as Cerulean gets a bit of her wind back, you are able to make up for lost time and head for the camp.
Around an hour before sun-serpent-set, you get another call from Schnitzel.
>"Okay, stop moving," he directs.
Droplet and Colobok frown in confusion, their hooves practically sparking as they skid to a stop. The lack of movement in this dense jungle clearly sets them on edge, but Schnitzel is silent.
"Explai–" Droplet tries to say, before he leaps aside. The earth below him suddenly collapses, and Schnitzel pokes his head out from a hole. His large diamond dog paws are filthy with dirt from recent digging.
"Nishishi," Schnitzel laughs, putting aside two Caller Conches. "Dang, and I almost had you."
"Why two Conches?" Colobok asks, suddenly curious.
"Sir Diamantaire helped me find you, so I had to keep you and him on separate conches so as not to spoil the surprise. My rotten luck that he detected the assassin. Our camp's underground. If you'll follow…"
Schnitzel then looks at Two Tons and Cerulean, and frowns. "Hmm. Back to excavation, then."
He ducks his head back down and keeps digging in order to make the tunnels wide enough for them to enter. Droplet rolls his eyes, and awaits his turn to enter the tunnel.
Willow pulled out his destabalizer sphere and debated using it to help but instead opted to just wait and take up rear guard duty, letting everyone else get through before he tailed them in, cannon at the ready.
Cloud jumps back as Schnitzel burrows up from the ground ,startled.
"You got a whole camp underground?" He questions. Cloud's a little concerned about getting into close corners, but seeing that there's no way the automatons could fit in there, it's the safest place to be, and Cloud quickly heads in.
"Looks like me and you are gonna have to wait a bit, big guy," Cerulean says, giving Two Tons a friendly pat on the back.
"Thanks for helping, by the way. That ditch came out of nowhere!"
Sir Pent leaps onto Schnitzel when he appears, showing who his favorite is.
"Ahh, Schnitzel!" He chirps a little, jumping about a foot in the air from the suddenness of his appearance. He'll wait with the others for the tunnel to be expanded, flapping his wings a little bit and murmuring "Ahh… I do not like underground, but I will make do. Let us just hurry, yes?"
Schnitzel yelps when Sir Pent leaps onto him, much to Droplet's amusement. Schnitzel regains his composure, however, and puts Sir Pent to work moving small rocks loosened by the tunnel expansions. Sir Pent manages to find a few tasty grubs and other insects for his efforts.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzcwvQ0MDCo
At the end of a winding tunnel, you find yourselves in a mostly underground room, with a few holes leading to the surface to allow in light and fresh air. There are only two other occupants: Make Believe, who is busy making some simple decorations for the cave walls out of rocks and homemade paint, and Sir Diamantaire. The latter is laying against the wall, just a tan crystal. The storm of sand that usually surrounds him has gone inert, and lays around him, like a sandcastle that has been blown away. A caller conch sits next to him.
As you enter, the crystal that is Sir Diamantaire glows slightly.
"Right then, glad youse made it," he says in his usual deep drawl. "This is all of you?"
"That should be our question," Splendid asks. "You all really went this far into enemy territory with just yourselves?"
Make Believe approaches Two Tons and Willow, holding out a pair of translucent, glowing pink spheres in his hoof.
"It's the only way we could have, being a scouting party," Diamantaire says. "Boss Kukulcan said he had confidence in you to catch up and help with the actual raid."
Sir Pent does his job then settles into Schnitzel's clothes.
"Pspspspspspsps…" Droplet whispers, scratching the earth nearby to entire Sir Pent near.
The mechanical equine beamed "I always love to help a friend.">>761341
Willow eyed the orbs curiously through his spectacles "And what are we to do with these exactly?"
"This is all of us, yes- this place is, well… b-better than I would have expected, at least." Alder remarks, looking around a little… the decorations and holes seem to help him relax a little.
Cloud looks around the little room they reach, seeing their group is basically all there is.
"So… is this to camp out, or are we digging our way to the Round?"
"This place is neat! Its like those sea caves with all the tunnels and stuff! Just without the water, though!" Cerulean tries to stand on her own, putting weight on the injured leg a bit and testing how much weight she can put before it gets to be too much.
Sir Pent will not be swayed with such half-hearted attempts.
He continues to hold them out to you.
"Oh, right," Splendid says. "He's a psychic, and a mute. But, to hear him, you need to accept those.">>761348
Droplet lays his front half on the ground and raises his hind half, imitating a dog's play stance. Schnitzel scoots away, appearing unnerved and unsure whether the gesture is meant for him or for you.>>761345>>761342>>761344>>761346>>761347
"Dat's more or less what we came to figure out," Diamantaire says.
"Right," Schnitzel says. "As we discussed previously, the Round is a real hub of activity these days… well, more like these nights. It appears to be where the Metal Men are experimenting with ways to hide from the sun-serpent's light. We haven't ventured too far into the Round yet, but we're learning some rather interesting things.
"Bee Holder caught us up on one thing in particular that you guys came across… that god of money, right?" Schnitzel continues. "Well, we don't know for sure, but after hearing that story, we think there might be something similar going on here. If that's the case, that would explain some of the things we've seen and heard, and would partly explain why they're so slow with that hardened gunk armor that protects them from sunlight."
"Something similar going on here… so, this is the influence of some god, former or current? Perhaps I am a little confused, I apologize. How much of these gunk-covered Metal Men have you seen?"
"Do you they found a god there to make that armor, but it's just slow to remember how to do it?"
He nodded and looked it over for a moment before finally accepting the orb.
Two Tons took it with far less reluctance though one wondered if his mechanical mind could be talked to.
Cerulean just sits and listens, a bit distracted with her injured leg at the moment.
Sir Pent pokes his head up in confusion, cocking it to one side.
He produces a bribe from his coat… a fish stick.
But, there is no tartar sauce.>>761353
You can tell that even with medical attention, it's going to twinge like a motherpuffer for quite awhile. It could prove a grave weakness if you have to do any fighting anytime soon.>>761352
Willow's orb disappears as he touches it, but Two Tons's doesn't.Oh…
a youthful male voice says in your heads. Right! Whoops, sorry Tons, I forgot I already gave you one after you woke up on Kukulcan's ship. Well anyway, my name's Make Believe. Nice to meet you! You guys are our new crewmates, right?>>761350>>761353>>761354>>761351
"We've seen plenty being built in the arena around nighttime, but not a lot leaving," Schnitzel says. "That's because – they're destroying themselves. To be more precise…
"During the night, these things
emerge from the Metal Men's suits. They're the ones who knit together more of the Metal Men, and who make the hardened gunk armor. It definitely seems like a work in progress. We've seen prototype Metal Men engaging what looks like sparring. Different sorts of tests, or so we think. The sparring seems to happen around dawn, which would suggest they want to experiment with just a little bit of sunlight to see how well their creations hold up.
"However… as of late, we've seen this ruby-colored whisp floating around the arena just before the sparring starts. It's definitely afraid of the Metal Men, because it vanishes quick whenever they spot it. But when it's not running away, it seems to be… almost interfering with the sparring. The sparring combatants start to glow red here and there, and suddenly, their strikes get way more intense and powerful than they had intended. Or, even when they're just shuffling around, they glow red, then start moving way too fast, and crash into a wall, or even tear themselves apart with a normal movement.
"This breaks the newly constructed ones, and even breaks up the hardened gunk armor. Unfortunately, they seem to be learning from this, and spending more time and effort into making a small number of really strong Metal Men, instead of the full-blown armies they were trying to build before."
"So…" Splendid says. "You think this ruby whisp might be some kind of god?"
"Based on what I heard of your guys's side of things, it's not implausible," Schnitzel says.
This might be the longest he's gone without telling a compulsive lie… progress!
"To be perfectly fair I have not decided which crew to belong to. Though I do skew towards whichever one Cloud is on as he helped me a great deal in finding my friend." He said looking to Two Tons who seemed intent on just trying to put another ball into himself.
"My name is Willow Wisp by the way."
Sir Pent slithers toward the fish stick.
[1d10] to nab it with snake speedRoll #1 6 = 6
[1d10] MysteryRoll #1 1 = 1
"That's good to hear, that something out here is able to deal with them somewhat easily," Cloud says in relief at the sound of an ally. but, he thinks over the mental image of the metal men tearing themselves apart from its effect.
"But, uh… what if when we go to rescue the others it does that stuff to us too?"
"Ruby wisp?" Cerulean thinks for a moment about that detail intensely, even with her leg hurting. She looks at Torpedo a moment and her thoughts seem to focus a bit more together.
"What if that ruby wisp is something with the obsidian things? Cause when I was in the Skull Temple, they all had these…red things in them. Like a ruby red color!"
"Hmm… interesting. Do you think we could talk to it, or interfere with it somehow? It does sound skittish…"
Nothing at all happens when Tons touches the translucent aura sphere, so Make Believe puts it away. Nice to meet you… whoa… do you like… make stuff outta Aura?
He's not looking into your eyes, but rather your equipment. This young colt seems pretty perceptive… yet, his eyes are dull and without shine, darkened by something unspoken.>>761357
You snatch the fish stick, but Droplet snatches something in turn… a headpat!
The fish stick is a bit dry…>>761358
A ruby whisp, enchanting or cursing those within her domai…
Make Believe asks. You find that you have slumped a bit forward, and can't remember the past few seconds, as if you'd been daydreaming deeply.Here, you look exhausted,
Make Believe says, and offers you a waterskin.>>761356>>761357>>761358>>761359>>761360That's what we were thinking,
Make Believe says, turning aside from Willow. It's obviously no ally of the Metal Men, so if we can make contact, and it turns out it's intelligent, we could probably broker some kind of alliance.
"And with the Captain potentially being held here, we've got little time to waste," Schnitzel adds with a grimace. "We have just enough light to try to sneak into wherever the ruby whisp might be hiding now… if we're fast and fan out, we could find it – or maybe even where they're keeping the Captain."
"Yes I can make gadgest with Anima." I have this solar light cannon and my destabalizer sphere. That breaks molecular bonds and makes things break into a sand like quality…." He trailed off before he collapsed.>>761362
Willow looked around as his eyes felt so heavy. He took the waterskin as Two Tons was quickly beside him "Dubya?"
"Goodness! Mister Willow, are you well?" Alder asks, hurrying over to try and help ease the kirin back up to his hooves.
Sir Pent searches slithers into the dirt to look for signs of a hiding place.
[1d10+3] for searchingRoll #1 7 + 3 = 10
"If we only have a little lite, we should move quick then," Cloud says, anxious over the idea of going right into the enemy base right away, though more worried about what would happen to their allies if they held off.
"…Got anything spare lying around to craft something up real quick?"
Willow shivered and looked around a bit confused "I… I don't know."
You take a moment to ensure Willow is well, after his dizzy spell that seemed to last almost two months. With it seemingly gone, you rise to get searching for Cutlass, while you still have a little of the evening daylight left.
Accompanying you are Schnitzel, Droplet, Colobok, Splendid, and Puddin Tame. Make Believe and Sir Diamantaire stay behind. Sorry, but my stickers won't be much good against the Metal Men,
Make Believe says. So I'll stay back to help keep a look out in case any come 'round again.
"Keep an ear out for y' conches," Diamantaire says, spreading the dust that comprises his body out across the ground again. "If anything big heads y' way, I'll warn youse."
Schnitzel and Sir Pent lead the way, sniffing at the air as they return through the tunnel that Schnitzel dug to the secret base. Soon, dusty and grimy, you emerge back into the daylight, and head to the southwest, keeping low and as quiet as you can, while still maintaining your pace.
Soon, you behold the great stone and metalwork walls of a high and imposing colosseum. Though angular, the colosseum has many faces, giving it somewhat of a rounded shape, like a carefully crafted jewel. The walls are of a deep and ruddy hue, complimented by the deep brass of the metalwork, amplified by the setting sun.
Each face of the colosseum possesses a broad vomitorium, as well as a pair of smaller posterns, one on each side of the vomitorium, most likely for the laborers who maintained such an imposing structure in its heyday.
"Hmm.. perhaps a tad unsettling- I have not seen such construction before. It feels rather… grand, ominous."
>Master Thief: [1d10+1] to get a hunch, or a warning of a trap or something hidden.Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
Cerulean looks around at the grand colosseum, giving a long whistle as she looks at all the fancy building work. Though it was less looking closely for anything and more looking around in awe, like some kind of tourist.
Willow and Two Tons take the time to look around the area as Willow ensures his solar cannon is good
Sir Pent searches for signs of Cutlass.
>Survival: spot check rolls +3. Can create and forage for basic supplies like rope, bandages, tents, torches and low-quality meals. Can see far into the distance and can see if dim or night light.>[1d10+3]Roll #1 6 + 3 = 9
Schnitzel, Alder and Sir Pent sneak forward (with Sir Pent securely atop Alder's head) to survey the situation.
Alder's got quite the bad feeling about this area. Soft tremors, imperceptible to all but the most aware of thieves, signal the presence of guards. Big ones. With the sun nearly set, the malignant occupiers of this ancient colosseum must be gearing up to get to work. It is likely that most of the colosseum is going to be like this, but the tremors seem to be localized more to the northern ends.
As for Sir Pent, he picks up on subtle marks in the grasses ahead, signs of bending, where something heavy was recently dragged, or pushed, through the grass, to the south. >>762171>>762172
"We really must come back here when it's not being used as a twisted laboratory," Colobok murmurs.
Sir Pent points his snout to the south.
"I mean the lab is the most interesting part for me. I don't particularly care for combat sports."
"We have little time before we have company, I would like to say. There are tremors in the… northern part of the structure? And Sir Pent seems to think something is south. Perhaps we ought to look there?"
Cloud follows behind the group, a bit on edge as they approach the Metal Men's base of operations, the imposing walls of the colosseum not helping to soothe the feeling any.
Heading further south, Sir Pent detects that the bending in the grasses abruptly stops about 30 feet ahead of you. You look about in all directions, but you see little out of the ordinary; to the east is the jungle, and to the west, the great colosseum. You're near the eastern face of the colosseum now, and there is nothing particularly remarkable about this section that you did not observe further north.
"Hmm… if the trail we are following cut off here… perhaps there is something beneath us? A trapdoor, if you will."
Sir Pent searches the ground intently where the foot prints stop for anything that could be a trap door or an indicator of some other method of transportation.
[1d10+3]Roll #1 3 + 3 = 6
Seeing the trail stop suddenly, Cloud pauses. He picks up the closest rock or stick, and throws it to where the path ends in case there's a trap or anything hidden.
"Back up I have something that may work here if it's hidden beneath us."
He pulled out the destabalizer orb he had and pressed it to the ground, pressing the button on the back and stepping back as he waited for it to break the ground apart into sand.
Cerulean tries to keep her senses about her, seeing if she can pick up anything that might be moving or giving off electricity.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
The orb disintegrates, as does the non-living matter in a small and circular radius around it, dissipating into Aura. About six inches of earth disappears, leaving behind various insects, worms and much grass. Around most of the disintegrated area, there is simply more earth. However, further south, there is a gap, where the grasses and such have fallen down, onto a set of great steps. The orb has partially disintegrated a trap door, just as Alder suspected.
Looking about, Cerulean and Sir Pent find a suspicious mound, formed haphazardly of slash cuttings and loose earth. Clearing it away, they find underneath a stone tile, bearing a hieroglyph like those that Cerulean saw in the Skull Temple. They press it, and the earth nearby shudders. A pair of stone doors (one partially broken from the disintegration orb) rises up from the ground, then parts open, revealing a broad and deep staircase.
The masonry of the staircase matches the style used in the colosseum, but in the center of the stairs, there is a chitinous set of rails, made of the hardened gunk seen inside the Metal Men.
"Hmm…" Droplet says. "Their agents in the field must be too tall to get in here, so they made this rail system to shuttle captives down into the lab."
"What's down there, ya think?" Splendid asks.
"A good question…" Colobok mutters. "It's obviously part of the original colosseum."
"Whoa, what was that?" Cloud says in surprise as Willow's orb disintegrates the ground covering the trapdoor.>>762185
Cloud steps back as the doors rise, peering down the stairwell, eye focusing on the gunk coating the center.
"If they're too big to go down this, it should be the safest path, right?" Cloud mutters.
"Perhaps slave chambers or something." he said mildly annoyed that his aim had been off but he moved to investigate the stairs.
"I should have prepared a light in retrospect."
Sir Pent slithers back up to Alder's back.
Forgot to hit the numbers
"Aha! We did find a trapdoor, very nice. I suppose we ought to step inside, and quickly. I imagine the Metal Men are waking up.">>762185
"Perhaps someone, or something that is the cause of some of this? The stair railings appear to be made of the same hardened gunk…">>762188
"Excellent job, Sir Pent."
"Huh, thats weird. There's a bunch of stuff on it like when I was in the temple! You think maybe there might be more of those trials down there? Those were fun!" She says all this aloud as she excitedly goes down the stairs.
"Not necessarily," Droplet says. "Alder's right: They put the rail system in there to deliver to someone on the other side. Probably one of their allies small enough to work down there. Wouldn't necessarily be as brutally powerful as the big guys, but deadly all the same.">>762187>>762188>>762190>>762191
You step down into the tunnel; it is lightless, leaving you with little you can see from the dwindling evening light. Sconces line the walls on either side, where you might make torches. Cerulean's electroreceptors tingle, even without her conscious invocation of that sense; down here, the colosseum is full of ancient technologies, most likely to facilitate what Two Reeds and Kukulcan described as ritually significant games.
"We can't be ambushed from behind at least, right?" Cloud follows with some hopeful concern.
As the group heads down ,Cloud quickly follows behind, luckily his echolocation allowing him to see still, giving some ease of mind to see anything coming still.
"We would probably run into Cutlass before anything else down here, right? If they only just took her earlier today," Cloud says, looking at the brighter side.
"A shame this filthy gunk is everywhere. Otherwise I might be able to study things."
Two tons was at this point silent as he felt uncomfortable about the whole place.
Cerulean does a little shiver as her electroceptors go off a bit without her trying.
"Oooo, tingly stuff down here guys! Let's hurry!"
Alder cautiously pulls Splendid closer- or, at least, attempts to. "I cannot say I am fond of such places, but we do what we need to, yes?"
You just end up pulling yourself closer, as she is twice the bird. Such is the law of griffonic gravitation. She nods in agreement.>>762196>>762195>>762194>>762193
Tabasco pops out of his lantern (where he resides when he wants to nap, be lazy, or recover from injuries), and softly increases his glow, giving you just enough light to see your surroundings, but not so much to give away your position to the whole underground. This also freshens up the air, which til now was musty and rank, defiled by the stink of rotten seawater from the gunk.
With your path lit so, you find yourself proceeding down a long path. It eventually reaches an intersection. Hieroglyphs line the walls in ornate, deliberate carvings. At this junction, there are a number of placards, where less ornate hieroglyphs are carved in a haphazard fashion, almost like graffiti.
The gunk-railway continues to the west, and to the north, but not to the south.
Cloud trudges along the path, looking along the hieroglyphs as they continue along. When they reach an intersection, he looks down the three paths.
"…Did anypony note which way the colosseum was from the doors? We should head towards that, right?"
Alder giggles a little, and nudges against Splendid before continuing downwards.
"Hmm- much better, thank you. I must confess I am rather blind in the dark, despite being part-cat. I wonder what all these glyphs mean- I would ask if someone here read them, but I imagine they are not something often seen. Anyways… "Perhaps to the north would be best? I am not sure."
[Last 50 Posts]
"If we truly need more light I do have a trick that will work. Though it will be a bit surprising to you all."