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1071683 No. 1071683 ID: 64dbac

|| SOJOURN || NOTE: This will be a NSFW / 18+ only quest!

https://questden.org/kusaba/quest/res/1010895.html - Act I Thread
https://questden.org/kusaba/questdis/res/137106.html#137106 - Discussion Thread

Google sheet & gamebook w/ detailed character reference.:

( Warning! Will contain spoilers if you're not caught up! )
Expand all images
No. 1071684 ID: 64dbac
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It is the FOURTH AGE, a time of great peril and dire portents. The GREAT KHAN, AZAD KHAZARAD, has perished at the apex of his ascension ceremony in the FATED CITY. Once mighty empires teeter on the brink of destruction and the greatest among them, the KHANATE OF KHOR, lies in ruin beneath a dark and mysterious PALL.

A terrible CURSE has swept the land wherever the PALL has spread, warping the very landscape and changing all beneath its gloom, some in strange and sometimes MONSTROUS ways. Sages say that this is a prelude to the END TIMES; expeditions and armies have marched on Khor as the realms of man wither and die. If the PALL cannot be unmade, all may be lost.

You are KAIA, a bold and inquisitive BUUNE. Elusive, reclusive and secretive, yours are a people most have rarely if ever seen among the realms of man. You hold the titles of Seeker, Rhiannon of the Briar Spire and Sentinel of the Obsidian Sanctum - a talented hedge-witch, student of the esoteric and the occult -- and able Coven Agent.

Through subterfuge, spell and cunning, you have taken up the mantle of a perilous SOJOURN - venturing towards the very heart of Khor and epicenter of the PALL. Yours is an arduous journey, but you are not alone: you are joined now by GEOFFREY, a charismatic mercenary swift of blade and cunning, ZARIN, an ONAGER of few words who towers clad in heavy armor and packing steel -- and last, but not least, CRYSTAL CRUMPSY, your affectionately named hound of the realm of spirits.

Your journey has taken you through the Bastion of the Last Lords, where you held conference with an ancient council before embarking beyond to the lands of Khor. Four MAGI of the Khanate oversee places of power and import -- and you have been led to believe that it is through them that you might find some means of combating the PALL and finding entry into the FATED CITY.
No. 1071685 ID: 64dbac
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You have arrived before the VAULTS OF VOLKREGAR, domain of one of the last Magi of Khor -- and that you may one day breach the FATED CITY, here you must prevail. Rousing yourself and steeling your resolve, you take stock of your surroundings: at your back lies a treacherous swamp rife with brigands and alleged monsters; a terrible storm looms and with it, a chilly and oppressive downpour.

Ahead, with a coursing river serving as its moat, rocky terrain rises beyond the opposite short and serves as the foundation to a vast fortress of sorts; a gatehouse looms before the span, its portcullis partly raised before the darkness within, while from your vantage you can see a drawbridge raised beyond. In the distance and on high, you spy crumbling crenelations and battlements shrouded in shadow while from the flanks of round towers trail staggeringly large chains, anchored in what appear to be rune-etched obelisks.

Lightning crackles again, twice over in tandem, bolts captured by metal spires capping conical roofs and illuminating gruesome gargoyles perched on their precipice while opulent archways adorn the cusp of a keep looming above it all. After a moment, you come to glimpse light aglow from lofty windows, suggesting an active presence within -- but no guard or garrison seems to grace the entrance as you might expect.

"Can't say I much like the look of that." Geoffrey mutters. "I'd almost prefer a slew of spearmen greeting us over this." He winces, squinting at ahead. "Right then, what's the plan?" He looks to you expectantly.

With the formidable fortress looming ominously ahead, there is much to consider.

Where will you begin?

> _

Welcome back everyone! Let's get this party started anew! For anyone newly joined or recently returned, a warm welcome. Reading through the Act I thread is recommended, but barring that the recap covers the most baseline beats. For those that want to get more into the meat of things, I also suggest taking a look at the gamebook / Google sheet linked in the opening so that you can peruse what you have available as far as inventory, talents and magic -- there's a bit to take in and brush up on.
No. 1071688 ID: e5709d

Those chains. You don't know what they do, but they are suspicious.

Have C.C. check the chains, then find a way to break them.
No. 1071691 ID: b57fea

Those pillars, are they covered in runes/heiroglyphs? Take a closer look. Might they have any magical function or are they simply anchors?
No. 1071693 ID: 58dd24

Okay I have been trying to figure this out. The portcullis gatehouse is outside the drawbridge. How does that work? Is it meant to be manned, or controlled from elsewhere with artifice or magic? If it is manned, then a siege would surely spell the doom of any defenders within, because they cannot retreat across the raised bridge. If the portcullis is operated remotely, why have the defenses on it at all?

Perhaps the great magi left a magical means for his gate guards to enter the keep, which a skilled bunne such as yourself might be able to sus out. Or perhaps the gate was manned by disposable minions without self preservation instincts, such as golems, which might still remain dormant and awaiting intruders.
No. 1071694 ID: 86974f

That's called a Barbican, and it functions as a second gatehouse complete with its own murder holes, portcullises, and all the lovely things that make gatehouses what they are. It's not a new invention.

Check the windows to see if there are any signs of light or life. Then, if nothing, see if you can read the runes on the pillars.
No. 1071695 ID: 58dd24

Sure, it's called a barbican, and a barbican that defenders can't retreat from is called a deathtrap and is *extremely* unusual.
No. 1071696 ID: ff90f3

First thing to inspect would be the gatehouse, which I suspect may have means of communication with the keep. Approach carefully though, for some outside force --be it bandit, monster or worse-- is likely to have settled in.
No. 1071706 ID: 32bc15

Definitely examine the obelisk. Even if you can't translate it, it might be worth trying to discover exactly why it's chained to that tower.

Plus, it's possible you could scale the chain up into the tower!
No. 1071722 ID: a785dd

Examine the obelisk, and then check for signs of life in the barbican.
No. 1071758 ID: 809e5e
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Together you advance to the muddy shore to take stock of the nearest obelisk -- loosing C.C. to flit past the dark, coursing waters flowing below. From a closer vantage, the sheer magnitude of the chain trailing down from the tower above. Pouncing on the blackened iron, you watch her juke and jostle at the structure and chomp at it with her jaws -- but fail to even make the chain sway. While it may be possible to destroy or sever the chains, a way does not seem readily apparent with what you have at hand.

Zarin looms beside you, shielding their eyes with a gauntlet-clad hand and squinting at the obelisk. Etched with runes and arcane symbols, your eyes rove the surface of the stone, weathered and crumbling in places -- though your attention is drawn by Geoffrey a short ways further up the road as he investigates the open barbican from afar. "Looks to be a real mess in there, from what I can see." He calls back, raising his voice to be heard over the rain. "No lights or... movement..."

It is difficult to make out the darkened recess beyond the portcullis from afar, but keen as your buune senses are, you can make out the vague silhouettes of figures strewn in the shadows of the interior, crumpled and scattered.

Try as she might to disrupt the chain of the obelisk (or claim a link to amuse herself with) C.C. relents, instead joining your inspection of the obelisk proper and filling the air with gusty chuffs and snorts. From the shore you can see portions of the stony structure have been broken or weathered away -- and that it extends beneath the surface of the dark, swirling waters of the river serving as moat.
No. 1071760 ID: 809e5e
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You have some familiarity with such things with your own studies of the esoteric arts: though they are not quite as you learned them personally, there is a commonality to the largest runes and rites writ within your grimoire. Reluctant to produce that precious tome 'neath a downpour, you rack your memory for the sordid, soggy interim -- and conclude with some confidence the presence of a ward or protective magic sustained in part by the obelisk, still relatively intact.

Studying the obelisk, you ponder further -- and of those other etchings... music? A proclamation? Some audible component you can't quite place, its function eluding you. You feel moderately confident in some of the etchings contributing to a locus of power for a demesne and anchored as it is, the obelisk may well draw from the essence inherent in the landscape nearby; before a stretch of clear-cut terrain before the fortress, the growths at the very edge of the swamp appear particularly gnarled, in retrospect.

Of the rest? Perhaps a language, rather than arcane script -- though it would not be the first time you encountered unfamiliar magics rooted in methods unknown.

Regarding the barbican sets a flutter of dread in the pit of your stomach, but that may well be by design; with no apparent means of ingress or egress with portcullis and drawbridge engaged, you are uncertain if or how defenders might fare. Still, there could be tools or mechanisms nestled within, the raised drawbridge notwithstanding. For a moment, you consider the prospect of ascending the vast chain: not impossible, though certainly precarious in this weather.

Reflecting on what you have gleaned thus far, you decide to...

> _

Still open-ended, there was a weight towards the obelisk so I mostly started there, but Geoffrey had a cursory look at the gatehouse in the meantime from afar. You are confident the river slash moat itself is treacherous and somehow disengaging the drawbridge of discovering alternative means inside loom as possibilities. With tools, cunning and magic at your disposal, there are doubtless a variety of approaches to consider.
No. 1071800 ID: 86974f

I’m going to assume that the “crumpled and scattered” refers to the silhouettes, not the interior of the structure. The former means the silhouettes are likely dead, the latter means the silhouettes are alive, but the interior is crumpled and demolished.

Since there’s no living or active inhabitants, there is no rush at the moment. Trust the senses of dread regarding the barbican, and seek entry to the Vaults further up or down-river. Perhaps a tree has fallen, or a structure collapsed that makes fording possible.
No. 1071841 ID: f8083d

Carefully approach the gatehouse. Trust not the apparent corpses to stay down.
No. 1072302 ID: 106bc5

Before testing an alternate path, examine the path itself more closely, particularly the apparent dead. Something struck them down and left them there, most obviously. Examining the cause of death could prove informative, maybe even give us better insight into what manner of magic that obelisk refers to. Even if it were a trap, the nature of the trap and it’s execution could inform us of what lies beyond.

If all of that does not amount to anything, the barbican could offer a small refuge for you to open the grimoire and do more to uncover the mystery of the obelisk itself.
No. 1072313 ID: 273c18

The smaller symbols have a repeated sequence. It repeats several times all over the obelisk. Must be important. The bigger symbols... well, I can't tell what's with them. There's barely any repeated symbols.
Is that round thing at the top a button you can push?

Take a closer look at the gatehouse interior but don't go in. It's probably some kind of magical ambush.
No. 1072330 ID: 809e5e
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You take a moment to scribe notation of the recognized -- and unrecognized -- symbols etched into the obelisk before turning your attention towards the looming gate and your surroundings. Tugging your hood tighter against the elements, you tread nearer to the raised portcullis and gaze into the darkened interior of the barbican.

Within is a sight that leaves you momentarily reeling: there are the remains of several men and women strewn across a passageway which you are quite certain is far longer and more treacherous within than without -- near enough to two hundred paces or more. However, juxtaposed with this is a distortion at the center of the path ahead which appears a distance away more congruous with your impression of the fortification's actual size.

Through this central path you can see what looks to be a smooth staff with a crystal cradled at its end, presently throwing off a steady shimmering glow. Ordinarily you would believe the arcane arts far more rare among the realms of man, but it is clear to you now that Volkregar bears more than stone and iron in its defenses.

Geoffrey, only now getting a close vantage himself, whistles. "You're savvy with this sort of thing, yeah?" He looks to you hopefully. "You think this is safe?"

While you are savvy with magic to an extent, it's not entirely clear what sort was woven here -- but the staff seems to have breached it.
No. 1072331 ID: 809e5e
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Stepping back from the gatehouse and its path to the raised drawbridge beyond, you take a length of time in the driving rain in an effort to scout your surroundings and take stock of your options. From your vantage, you're able to make out some of the larger and taller structures of Volkregar, though there are still lower portions obscured by the rocky terrain upon which it is built.

Volkregar's 'moat' is a river flowing from mountains further to the northeast -- behind the fortress, here -- before spilling over into falls at a cliff face further to the northwest. Two of the anchored obelisks seem within your reach, with one sunk into the river itself near the gatehouse and another further along the shore -- both with enormous chains trailing to towers beyond.

From your glimpse in the gatehouse, it appears others who arrived before you have already made some headway into the fortress; with rope and grapnel, you may be able to secure passage up and over the drawbridge for the main entrance. Past the cliff face, it is also possible there may be a means to navigate alongside a more open flank with treacherous terrain.

Considering your options, you decide...

> A) Focus on trying to surmount the gatehouse and raised drawbridge that you might open easier passage, following the invaders.
> B) Attempt to ascend the anchoring chains from either accessible obelisk, braving the elements and wards.
> C) Descend past the falls and attempt to navigate the cliff face for any possible hidden approach.
> D) Travel further to the northeast along the more heavily fortified flank of Volkregar, hoping an opportunity presents itself.

A primary quandary is that Zarin is likely to have a difficult time following you directly through more acrobatic approaches, though Geoffrey may be able to match you. From what you can tell, a hostile force has assailed Volkregar and likely entered the fortress despite casualties -- you expect they will have consistently taken whatever the most straightforward approaches are presented.
No. 1072332 ID: 32bc15

C) Considering our skillset, stealth seems preferable. Although this might mean they have to crawl through a sewer pipe or up a shit pit. Which isn't appealing.
No. 1072337 ID: a7a180

A. The work's already half done for us.
No. 1072338 ID: fb8a42

C, there have to be still-active traps in the obvious approaches.
No. 1072339 ID: b81afe

D. Hiding amidst the chaos doesn't seem like the worst way to go. Sure it's more heavily fortified, but that was before it was attacked.
No. 1072346 ID: f2cf5a


C. Let's take advantage of the mess they've caused- without anyone knowing.
No. 1072380 ID: 809e5e
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Wary of possible traps and a perilous ascent, you decide to head to the cliff-side falls to assess other possible means forward. With your sharp buune eyesight and in spite of the rain and billowing mists cast off by a cascade of water over stone -- you spy a hidden ledge which appears to extend beneath an overhang behind the western waterfall.

Checking the vicinity, a heavy outcrop of stone with the remnants of broken masonry seem suitable enough to anchor a length of heavy hemp rope. "Fuck me with this rain." Geoffrey curses as he peers over the precipice of the cliff before spitting off it. "You going to manage if we go down?" He asks of Zarin and the onager nods curtly, hanging their shield at their back before producing a coil of thick rope.

Working with the stone, Zarin secures the rope, testing with a few stout, powerful tugs before tossing the rest of it over the edge, where it trails down towards the ledge below. You volunteer yourself first, gesturing and rattling off "Ann oal ol thloolset el eam eackoth." Geoffrey and Zarin stare at you before you clarify in the trade tongue. "If there eez dahnger, I will cleer." This they understand much more clearly, both nodding.

After stowing and securing your gear, you ease your weight over the edge of the cliff and grip tightly at the rope; your breath hitches as a bluster of wind drives rain hard against your cloak and legs, making you sway for a moment. Undeterred, you make the climb down with steady determination and secure the line below.

Zarin has provided a rope for this descent from their own inventory, so it was not necessary to use your own. Your climb down goes without a hitch as you make it look effortless. Following your descent, Zarin goes second and Geoffrey third; you observe Zarin's climb to be somewhat halting. Perhaps the onager is not fond of heights?
No. 1072381 ID: 809e5e
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Once the three of you have reached the ledge, together you carefully navigate the narrow path and wet stone with somewhat precarious footing, threatening to cast you to your doom over the precipice. Nevertheless, you carry on and successfully avoid such a perilous fate for you or your companions. As you round a rocky overhang, a strong scent of lichen and surf greet your nose; you step clear into the broader solid terrain of a winding cavern hidden behind the western waterfall.

Though some light permeates the falls and cliffs, it is clear to you that the way deeper is like as not to be pitch black. A winding riverlet trails from deeper in the earth and stone before joining the greater flow of the falls at the mouth of the cave; its current is markedly slower than that of the river above, at least -- and is narrow enough that you are confident you could leap to the other side if desired.

From the entrance you can make out what appears to be a secondary cavern that breaks off from the first with a lower ceiling of stone and though the fortress is above, you faintly make out a rusty sconce embedded in the stone there. Beside that, the way following the riverlet seems mostly clear from what you can see so far. With either egress, you are still some distance from where you know the surface of Volkregar to be.

Overhead the cavern's ceiling is fairly generous here, twice-over Zarin's considerable height and interrupted only by the occasional stalactite. "Well," Geoffrey offers, brushing himself off, "At least we're out of the rain, yeah?"

Considering your options, you decide to...

> A) Stick to the clearer path, following the riverlet deeper into the caves.
> B) Explore the dark cave that seems to go deeper into the stone, as it appears some purposeful passage has been had.
> C) _

Fairly straightforward branching choice here for your consideration. In addition to deciding where you want to go, you have an ample opportunity here to make whatever additional preparations you would like between your spells and supplies. Your senses are keen, as are Zarin's -- Geoffrey is doubtless the odd man out for navigating the dark.
No. 1072382 ID: e5709d

Seems straightforward. Send C.C. into the dark cave and have your lackeys scout a few yards into the bright one. Move into whichever seems safer.
No. 1072383 ID: 057739

The easier path is ne'ery the correct one. But splitting up is also an option! C.C and Kaia can go one way while Zarin and Geoffrey go the other! Meet back up at the entrance when something interesting happens or after 20 mins pass.
No. 1072384 ID: a7a180

Don't split up, take the dark path together. You move with the shadows!
No. 1072385 ID: b57fea

Splitting up is never a good idea, I second this guy.
No. 1072391 ID: fb8a42

Explore the dark cave, and don't split up.
No. 1072489 ID: 809e5e
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Geoffrey and Zarin cast an eye along the broader path as it winds, taking stock while you consider your options; with a snort C.C. sets out a short ways into the darker cave. "Fair bet this waterway surfaces somewhere further back..." Geoffrey posits. Stepping closer to the darkened recess in the hound's wake, you reach out to nudge at a rusted torch sconce embedded in the rock face.

"We see what this leeds too?" You nod toward the winding descent -- a gentle slope at its entrance, at least. Zarin and Geoffrey exchange a brief look before the latter shrugs, both moving to join you. "Better for the unexpected approach." Geoffrey muses, adjusting the straps to his armor for a moment. "After the pooch, then."

Taking the lead, you begin your descent into the gloom, producing a GLOW with your crystal foci to light the way. Along the way you continue to spy intermittent sconces like the first -- and after following the dark passage some forty feet, you find that someone has taken the effort to carve stone steps just as the way began to grow steeper.

Occasionally, Zarin needs to duck down to avoid a lower overhang of the stone ceiling above. Here and there, a few sconces still serve host to burnt-out torches and you feel a faint chill with the passage of air against your drying garb...
No. 1072490 ID: 809e5e
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Though you find it difficult to wholly gauge just how deep you've gone, the stone steps end at a broad ledge as the winding passage gives way to an immense cavernous space beyond. C.C. stands at the precipice of what you now find to be a purposefully flattened rise -- and as the three of you join her and the crystal is held aloft, your eyes adjust to take in the breadth before you, the flickering glow of other lights glimpsed off in the distance.

A broad stone path has been carved into the rock-face around one side of a yawning chasm, pillars stretching up from an abyssal drop below to hold stone platforms and pathways aloft along its center. Along the northern wall, stone steps lead down from where you stand, offering egress to a corridor set into the rock-face. Far across the chamber you spy another passage above two flights of stone stairs.

From far above, a half dozen gibbet cages hang from thick lengths of chain -- and though your light does not reach, you glean the impression that there is an opening in the ceiling of the cavern, possibly leading to the fortress far above. Figures presently occupy the cages, but it is too dark and distant to discern much about them; one of the cages hangs near to the end of a platform at the center of the chamber, however -- likely within reach.

Further off and set lower into the rock-face you can spy what appear to be several cells open to the abyss, faint light visible from their recesses. A faint rush of chilly air carries through the chamber, resonating down into the plunging darkness below. "Oi." Geoffrey mutters, nodding across the span. "Someone's lit those torches, yeah? Recent-like. May have company down there..."

You decide to...

> A) Proceed down the steps and explore the nearest, northern corridor -- perhaps leading towards whatever chambers service this place...
> B) Venture down and attempt to navigate the platforms in an effort to reach the lowest-hanging cage and its inhabitant...
> C) Past platforms and the likes of macabre gaolers, make your way to the far passage to put this place behind you...
> D) Double back whence you came, that you may instead follow the waterways wherever they may lead...
> E) _
No. 1072491 ID: a7a180

B. Curiosity hasn't killed us yet.
No. 1072492 ID: fb8a42

B, but let C.C. go first.
No. 1072546 ID: f14228

Risky, but it might pay off.
No. 1072696 ID: 11f77a

I also agree with B. But you may want to put out your own light and use the aura of the already-lit torches to circumnavigate. Any keeper of this place with an eye out may spot your lit crystal bobbing around.

Don't forget we have the SHROUD ritual, in case we may need to risk detection.
No. 1072988 ID: 809e5e
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Venturing to investigate the cage and its inhabitant seems the most prudent course while things are quiet; dousing your GLOW to leave illumination to the ambient torchlight, you inform Geoffrey and Zarin of your intent, instructing the pair to cover your way back should trouble surface. With that, you elect to err on the side of shrewdest caution -- concentrating as you wreath your SHROUD ritual over yourself.

As before, you can feel a prickling sensation as the magic washes over you in broadening waves as you begin to fade into the shadows. From the corner of your eye you glimpse Geoffrey's expression swiftly shift to one of wide-eyed surprise, gaze trailing down -- and realize belatedly that the ritual has obscured your garb before your body beneath, offering the pair an open vantage of your naked form.

Your cheeks burn with embarrassment -- it was one thing to bare yourself for Khasma beneath the stars, but among observers not of the buune?

Zarin is swift to look away and makes no remark; Geoffrey's gaze lingers longer before the man clears his throat and turns his attention elsewhere as you feel the rest of your form fading in turn.

SHROUD has been erected! Possibly other things, too.
No. 1072989 ID: 809e5e
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No time to dwell on embarrassing voyeurism: you move with swift, hastened purpose with C.C. set before you, light of step as you descend the nearest stairs -- and then round to the other set leading further down to the platforms.

A glance over your shoulder finds the passage headed deeper faintly glimmering with torchlight far off as well, set in sconces as the others. Geoffrey and Zarin can be seen carefully making their way down the steps to the broad ledge, readied in case there are other arrivals.

C.C. crosses the gap effortlessly, but despite a pantomime of the leap you're well aware the spectral hound could float her way over. Nevertheless, for a moment you observe as C.C. sniffs about, searching for any possible hazards lurking before she fixes you with a neutral stare. Satisfied that your destination is clear, you gauge the distance, tensing and flexing as you ready yourself before bolting in a sprint!

With a potent kick of powerful legs, you launch yourself sailing across the perilous span as ably as any athletic buune - landing with graceful agility and dropping to a crouch for a moment. Quiet, save for the crack of swaying cages, faint rush of air and distant crackle of flickering torches.
No. 1072990 ID: 809e5e
File 169550718558.jpg - (149.85KB , 750x450 , soj_123.jpg )

Straightening yourself, you stalk your way around and up the stairs ahead before treading across the raised precipice -- gaze set on the nearest, lowest-hanging cage. As you approach the brink of the platform, your keen eyes adjust in the dark enough to make out a stirring from the figure within.

Within the gibbet you make out a retavii man, stripped and nude, his legs crossed and thick tail curled about the interior of his slowly swaying prison. To your surprise, his roused attention focuses on you even midst your shroud -- though he squints, clearly having difficulty wholly discerning who or what you are; you recall the sharp senses of the retavii to be among the best.

"Who's out there?" He mutters in a hoarse, parched tone, long whiskers twitching as he sniffs.

You decide to...

> A) Attempt to discern a way to free the prisoner, conversing as a friend...
> B) Be wary of the prisoner, leaving him caged as you ply more information...
> C) Cautiously make your way back, saying nothing...
> D) _

Mind that those choices are fairly flexible, just going for general directions you might lean; feel free to suggest things you'd like to say, if anything.
No. 1072991 ID: 32bc15

A) Offer him some water since he sounds a bit parched. Start by asking why he's here and if he's seen anything.
No. 1072992 ID: fb8a42

A. Holy moly, a live person? Something's happening here, or some group is using this as a base.

"A friend, if you keep quiet and do exactly as I say," is the right play. Ask for information about who put him there and why.
No. 1072994 ID: a79990

B. Ask him questions before we decide to release him or not. He might be in there for a reason.
Give him water at least

But also, along with whatever choice we make

D. Feel very awkward about his nudity while also trying to be serious, and try to look away (but unconsciously sneak a quick peek from time to time)
No. 1072999 ID: 273c18

B. You don't know why he was imprisoned. Find out why, and who owns this fortress.

Does this guy actually need water? He's alive, and it looks like he's been fed regularly.
No. 1073121 ID: 809e5e
File 169560027144.jpg - (148.70KB , 750x450 , soj_124.jpg )

Feeling torn, you err on the side of initial caution -- asking who he is and why he was imprisoned. Within the cage the retavii man hastens to draw himself up onto his knees as his tail shifts back, gripping at the bars as he leans against them. "Conrad is my name," he affirms "I am, plainly, an intruder here -- captured by some manner of sorcery when the Sarken breached the fortress." Though he carries a distinct accent you can't quite place, his trade tongue is seemingly excellent.

You watch Conrad while he speaks, able to glean that though he addresses you, it is your general direction: he does not seem to see you thanks to the SHROUD, but instead seems to follow you by sound and perhaps scent. Seeking more information, you press Conrad on the matter of the fortress' owner -- to which he reacts with some surprise. "You know not? This is Volkregar, seat of the the Magi Vesaja Kazaad."

Listening intently, your gaze does wander to linger lower with a lurid glimpse of the man's loins -- you strongly suspect he does not realize he is exposed so to you. Squeezing the bars, Conrad presses his shoulders against them and lowers his tone. "By your accent I would wager you're neither Khor nor Sarken -- otherwise I might take you for another gaoler. Whoever you are, I would dearly like to avoid whatever it is they intend to do to me. Can you free me?"

Conrad -does- seem fit and fed, suggesting he's either been treated well or hasn't been a prisoner very long. Around you the chamber remains fairly quiet and you can still see Geoffrey and Zarin keeping watch over on the ledge.

You decide...

> A) You are satisfied enough with what you've heard, looking to the matter of excising Conrad from his cage...
> B) You remain wary and would first like to press the man further while he is at such a disadvantage...
> C) You'd rather leave the man to what fate has in store for him...
> D) _

Fairly flexible still, with the tie here I erred on the cautious side with how you've generally played Kaia. As before, feel free to suggest things you may wish to ask or say.

Google sheet & character reference (spoilers if you're not caught up!):
No. 1073122 ID: a7a180

B. What was he looking for when the guards stripped him of his garb and garrisoned him here?
No. 1073124 ID: fb8a42

B. What did you do to trigger the sorcery? Where was it? What happened?

Based on how sharp his memory is, we can judge on if he's party member material.
No. 1073130 ID: a758c7

woah, nice balls, bro
No. 1073135 ID: e5709d

B) Why would they imprison him this far from any manned security? Reeks of a trap...
No. 1073137 ID: b57fea

B, ask him how long he's been here just to check for inconsistencies.
No. 1073138 ID: 3ec394

Should try to be polite, but cautious.
B) He intruded without backup or an escape plan then? (Seems he has the balls for it) What could've been worth the risk (to him)? Could he not be under a spell now?

D) Check around for any means of freeing him safely. Not to free him (yet, he may have use), but to determine how often he's let out, ie frequently enough to keep it nearby.
No. 1073158 ID: 809e5e
File 169562049171.jpg - (252.29KB , 750x450 , soj_125.jpg )

Wary still, discretion drives you to question the man further, asking after the subject of his intrusion. Conrad rests his shoulders against the bars and settles before responding. "Within the keep there are several vaults containing relics, artifacts, objects of study. Whenever Khor conquest claimed those sorts of spoils, they'd likely wind up here first." He explains, round ears giving a faint twitch before he continues.

"Word was, Vesaja hosted acolytes and scholars both -- and with the pall and several armies pillaging and ransacking their way through Khor, odds were good she'd be doing so now." He gestures loosely at that. "Volkregar's not exactly an unknown either, so when word came that the Sarken had sent a tidy lot marching for a visit, it seemed as best an opportunity as there would be to get things done."

Conrad lowers his voice a tad with what he offers next and your long ears prick. "Among many other things, Vesaja has a very large, very pure kalatite crystal. It's a foci, apparently -- a very potent one." Conrad scratches at the side of his neck with his claws. "That was the main objective, at least."

You're quite familiar with just how useful such crystals can be, for your own facilitates your faithful companion C.C. and smaller fragments aid your other rites and rituals; during your audience in the HALL OF LORDS, it was conveyed to you that the magi and their foci could well be crucial to enter the FATED CITY in service of your QUEST.

After reflecting on this, you are swift with further questions as they spring to mind, beginning with his apprehension and what transpired. Conrad clears his throat, then speaks further. "I'd made my way to the archives, looking to lift or coerce a vault key from the senior archivist. That's what I was in the middle of doing when the Sarken attacked, in force." Conrad grimaces then. "I heard chimes starting to sound and saw a flash from patterns in the floor; next thing I knew I was on a slab being stripped before they stuffed me in this cage."

Drawing a slow breath, Conrad looses it as he rubs at his temple. "I expect that dormant defenses went up all over Volkregar when the attack came, leaving things a lot more complicated." With more in mind, you press the man on the matter of his seemingly unusual imprisonment, bereft of apparent guard -- along with other details.

Resting his palms on the tops of his thighs, Conrad glances back over his shoulder towards the flicker of torchlight on the far wall of the cavern. "Not unmanned." He offers in a low tone once more, returning his attention your way. "My gaoler and his lackeys are unpleasant to say the least -- that is where they lair." He motions yonder to the same-such passage your companions linger near. "They've a pole they use, with hooks on the end, to reel the cages over to the ledge. Something, anything, to pull ought to do the trick though."

Lastly, you question just how long he's been imprisoned. "I don't think I was out long, so near as I can tell, I've been locked up three days. There'd been a bit of bread, but rationing only goes so far."

With a look about, there are a succession of levers before large spools of chain in a row along the edge of the central platform; it is difficult to make out where each leads, but you can faintly see that each cage does not seem to be affixed in a stationary position.

You decide to...

> A) Devise a means of reeling the cage nearer, that you may help free Conrad...
> B) Leave him be yet, and press for further information while you can...
> C) Head back to rejoin your companions, leaving Conrad here for now...
> D) _

A lot of information, sorry for how wordy this update wound up being -- you all had a lot of good questions to press! You can continue to question and converse as you please, or ponder on how you'd like to approach things from here; these vote options above remain pretty flexible! You may also find some inspiration reviewing your inventory and available resources, if you so choose.
No. 1073159 ID: a7a180

A. Those levers seem related. Got a long stick?
No. 1073160 ID: 273c18

A. But make sure it's relatively quiet.
No. 1073166 ID: f8083d

So it seems at least, Volkregar is still in the hands of those you came to meet.
If you can toss him some rope, you can solve the horizontal problem while you work on the vertical one.
Be aware though, that doing so might sour your encounter with the masters of this place.
No. 1073167 ID: 32bc15

A) The bars look relatively easy to squeeze through. It just seems like a matter of throwing him a rope and making sure the other end is properly secured to something. I'm not sure our delightful bun can reliable take his whole weight.

Also, ask if he could kindly cover himself until we get him some clothes. It's a little distracting.
No. 1073176 ID: d3bf48

A. Smart guy.

Also, yes, ask him to cover up to avoid awkwardness.
No. 1073190 ID: 91a28f

A) Secure one end of a rope and toss him the other to loop around a cage bar, so you can work together on getting him above the platform. Maybe your bedroll could cushion the noise of the cage on the ground.
Be careful with the levers, see if he knows how they work before touching them.
No. 1073192 ID: 58dd24

You own a grappling hook. That part does not need to be difficult.
It is probably worth asking how loud the mechanism is before attempting to operate it. Don't know how much time we have before someone comes by, but no sense shortening it with undue noise.
No. 1073208 ID: a785dd

A. Tell your companions what you're going to attempt and where the gaoler is first, we wouldn't want them to be caught unprepared.
No. 1073239 ID: b57fea

No. 1073240 ID: 809e5e
File 169569538324.jpg - (147.50KB , 750x450 , soj_126.jpg )

Taking stock of the distance and sway to the cage, you ask after the mechanisms if Conrad is familiar. "I figure they bring the cages down and up, so they're accessible where you're standing. They used hooked poles for the rest of the distance." Reflecting on this, you anticipate that you could draw it near enough without having to engage the mechanisms -- though if you wished to examine the other cages and their occupants (or banish Conrad to the depths) such would likely be sufficient.

Set on your intended approach, you decide you ought to inform the others first -- but before you go, you pause to ask a courtesy. "Wood yew kindly cover your cawk? Eet distracts." Conrad blinks a few times rapidly at that before he glances down, widening his eyes; the man swiftly darts his hands to cover his groin, cheeks burning darkly as he clears his throat again. "I'm sorry, I hadn't realized you could see that."
No. 1073241 ID: 809e5e
File 169569540920.jpg - (135.81KB , 750x450 , soj_127.jpg )

With that distraction ameliorated, you make a swift descent back and around to the gap in the platforms before signalling for Geoffrey. "We turning a prisoner loose?" He nods towards the hanging cage when he comes to stand across from you. You affirm such, explaining your plan for the retavii's retrieval -- along with caution for whatever gaolers lurk beyond.

"Right then." Geoffrey nods, flexing his grip at his blade. "Zarin heard some groans back there, but no sign of trouble yet. No telling how long that'll last, though."
No. 1073242 ID: 809e5e
File 169569546560.jpg - (376.94KB , 750x450 , soj_128.jpg )

Afterwards, you make your way back up onto the central platform and set your bag down to grab your tools -- there are several large gnarled branches stuffed inside the enchanted space. C.C. whuffs nearby, apparently delighted at your discovery of these treasures. Sifting past the branches for now you withdraw your rope, grappling hook and bedroll before assessing the platform. At its corners are two iron rungs set into the stone, large enough to thread; with this, your own strength and C.C. providing additional leverage, it ought to do the trick.

Laying out your bedroll to cushion against the edge of the ledge that you might better muffle the draw of the cage, you alert Conrad before giving a deft toss of the grappling hook -- having little trouble landing it against the edge of the cage itself. Conrad draws up the slack and helps further anchor and secure it before you get to work with C.C. (who rather enjoys the ensuing 'tug of war' you find.)

Sure enough, the chain above provides slack enough to draw the prisoner to the platform as the metal base presses into the cushion of your bedroll. Clever thinking, that. Holding it steady, with your help Conrad is able to squeeze his way free from the cage -- clearly meant to hold those of the realms of man, rather than a retavii prisoner.

"My thanks to you." He offers gladly as you disengage and retrieve your grappling hook and rope before stowing them in your bag once more; as you rifle, you think to draw free the silk fabric you'd acquired. Straightening then, you find you fairly well tower over Conrad and briefly reflect that Geoffrey is fairly tall himself. (Among the realms of man, some may consider your kind, the buune, 'Amazonian'.)

"To cover." You explain as you hold the fabric out, closing your eyes respectfully that he may at least nominally cover his loins.

"Right then. Much as I'd like to be free and out of this place, I recognize I'm in your debt." Conrad offers, having cinched the fabric as a makeshift kilt about his waist. "We can put our heads together for a time, though I'll be much more effective if we can get my kit back from those wretches." He wrinkles his nose, then gestures to the gaoler's hall. "Here's what I can tell you from what I recall..."

You listen to Conrad enough to form a mental map of your options, then decide to...

> A) Regroup with intent to venture into the gaoler's chambers; there, you can find access to the lower cells in a guard room, an 'interrogation' room with an adjoining goods storage and a passage beyond, presumably to some manner of barracks.
> B) Rejoin the others, then take the northern corridor to lead up and into the underbelly of Volkregar abandoning Conrad's equipment
> C) Rally with the others but make a tactical retreat back up into the waterfall cavern.
> D) _

It's time for you to put your heads together and consider your next big move! Much is unfolding within Volkregar. Taking stock for more practical purposes: Conrad seems tall (for a retavii) and fighting fit -- you've freed him before any particularly egregious harm was wrought. Nevertheless, he's smaller than you, Geoffrey and Zarin and currently wanting for arms and armor.

Conrad is seemingly nimble, stealthy and an excellent marksman (you folks have managed to route your way to some synergies among the various possible paths!) Note: Conrad has seen no sign of his gaolers since being stuffed in the cage with a ration of bread. Incidentally, he's very hungry and thirsty.

No. 1073247 ID: fb8a42

A, but take it slow to give Conrad some time to eat up. We have 15 trail rations, and presumably some water to go with it. Let's get Conrad some munchies from the Mag Bag. That's it's name now. Mag Bag.

As tempting as it is to give Conrad some silk to cover himself with, that stuff is expensive. Sorry, buddy.

Maybe Geoff has an extra pair of shorts?
No. 1073286 ID: 58dd24

Lets investigate that guard room. Might give us a better idea what to expect around here too. In the short term, hand him one (1) baked goods and one (1) dagger from your stock. And some water, sure.
No. 1073287 ID: 23c010

I think it's time to explain that we'd like to remain on neutral-at-worst terms with the owners; we can check out the gaoler's room for Conrad's stuff, mug them for it even, but no killing. If your companions disapprove, you may have to tell them more of your quest. If Conrad can't abide this, he's on his own.
No. 1073289 ID: ef26f0

A, he’s much more immediately helpful with his existing kit.
No. 1073345 ID: 809e5e
File 169579012547.jpg - (202.13KB , 750x450 , soj_129.jpg )

Together with Conrad, you make your way back across the span -- relieved to find the retavii man is able enough to make the crossing as well. Regrouping with Geoffrey and Zarin, you relay what you have gleaned along with an intent to see to the potential recovery of Conrad's belongings. "If posseeble, try not to keel." You affirm to your mercenary companions; the two exchange looks before Geoffrey shrugs. "As you wish."

Given Conrad's famished state, you favor the man with one of your trail rations, along with a leftover baked good and one of your daggers, to arm and feed him. As he eats, you prod Geoffrey for potential garb. "I'm a lot bigger than he is, but..." Geoffrey appraises, but rummages in his stowed gear and pulls free a long linen shirt. "Enough to cover you at least."

"My thanks." Conrad offers back after hastily finishing off a crunchy dinner roll without complaint. Pulling the shirt over his head, the hem hangs down past his waist nearly to his knees; he tests the weight of the provided dagger before giving you and Geoffrey a nod. "Better, much better."

Geoffrey cranes to take a look down the corridor before looking to Zarin, then you -- hiking a thumb towards the onager. "No sneaking with the big 'un. Stick back here and keep an eye out, in case we've company from behind; if we've trouble enough we can call out and bring you running." With that settled for the moment, you proceed under stealth with Geoffrey and Conrad, bringing about your SHROUD for yourself once more...


Traversing the dim passageway, you reach the corner where the path turns before quietly positioning yourself to have a look. Beyond, a broad hearth crackles with flames sending smoke up through a chimney into the stone. A foul stench assails your nose -- a tang of blood and something moldering. It takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust to the new lighting before you can make out two figures that you can see.

Most noticeable is a huge, broad man with a bald pate and a thick, muscular neck and limbs on a heavy frame, seated with his back towards you as he leans over a table. From what you can make out, he seems to be in the midst of eating some manner of meat, cutting at it periodically with a large hooked knife. Seated further down the table is a second man, far more lean; there is no plate before him as he sits in still silence, a black hood drawn over his head.

From your position you can't make out the right half of the room without rounding the corner and drawing much closer. On the opposite end of the chamber, a passageway with an ensconced torch leads off to a darker room; there, according to Conrad's description, were torture implements and other paraphernalia.

You decide to...

> A) Attempt to dispatch the gaolers discretely...
> B) Attempt to dispatch the gaolers directly...
> C) Attempt to gather more information, through magic or other means...
> D) _

Each option is open to input on how you'd like to go about things. Zarin has been posted at the entrance to the corridor presently, for the sake of affording you maximal stealth at the moment; if things get out of hand, you can call out to them to join you. From what Conrad told you there are at least three gaolers, but may be more.
No. 1073346 ID: fb8a42

A. Have Conrad call out for help in a pathetic voice, and be as annoying as possible. Say he’s cut himself on a cage edge and is and is bleeding somehow, might get a guard to come out.
No. 1073347 ID: a7a180

Discrete. Don't cause a distraction from the same direction you're coming from, cut the gaoler's meal short then work on the others.
No. 1073348 ID: 32bc15

C) Wait until they say something or reveal some information? If need be, you could send a ghostly pup forwards to distract them while you either sneak past or creep up to dispatch them.
No. 1073355 ID: f8083d

A) Back off a bit; use your slumber ritual on the fat one, the lean one will take a second longer to notice since he's farther from his direct line of sight. Then conk the lean one on the head.
Edit: No wait, if there's talking going on, find out which one of them is talking the most, and use Slumber on the other one.
No. 1073801 ID: 809e5e
File 169622415840.jpg - (287.81KB , 750x450 , soj_130.jpg )

Silent and wary, you lend an ear to listening intently that more information might yet be gleaned. You hear a gruff guttural baritone from the large gaoler, muttering between noisome mouthfuls of meat -- seemingly in the midst of intermittent conversation. "And so we're safe down 'ere, just you wait now: Mistress'll sort out the lot of them yet, you'll see."

There is a long lull filled with hoarse chewing; the lean figure scarcely stirs, but you finally hear him speak in turn in a slow, crisp, chilly tone. "Lots of them still in the lower keep. Zealots with them, too." A snort. "Wish she'd hurry up." With a grunt, the larger man brandishes a hock of meat by protruding bone, waggling it at his counterpart. "Ain't our concern. Mind 'er playthings and keep our noses down."

It would seem then that the Sarken attacks remain active within Volkregar -- and may well have occupied the lower portions of the fortress. You recall a span between the larger fortifications and suspect that may be where the conflict remains at the fore, for now...
No. 1073802 ID: 809e5e
File 169622417822.jpg - (277.54KB , 750x450 , soj_131.jpg )

Once the conversation subsides, only the crackle of firewood and the scrape of cutlery against plates occupies much of the air. You wait a few moments more in case another of the gaolers might be revealed, but feel confident only two occupy the room before you at last. With focused concentration you commit to performing the SLUMBER rite from some distance away, consuming some of your reagents in the process to assure its efficacy; you elect to target the much larger man for assurance that you might negate the threat of him.

To your satisfaction, you see his gestures slow and grow swiftly lethargic before settling and slumping in his seat; his counterpart does not seem to have noticed the digression at first. Capitalizing on the moment, you stalk swiftly and silently, claiming a cudgel you spy in passing from an assortment of implements set along the wall; taking up position behind the lean gaoler, you deliver a decisive blow against his hooded head with a satisfying thunk. He groans, then slumps in his seat -- unconscious at the very least.

Silence then, save for the crackling fire still; Geoffrey and Conrad await your signal and direction, with C.C. at hand. Within this chamber you can see a variety of tools and implements in service of what you suspect to be a cruel regard for the prisoners of this place. To one corner of the room, a spiral staircase descends to a lower level -- other cells set deeper, from what you recall.

As well, a passage lit by a single torch heads further on, towards the interrogation room, goods storage and deeper reaches of the gaoler's chambers. At least one, but maybe more gaolers remain.

You decide to...

> A) Proceed deeper to the interrogation room, to contend with what resistance may be found there...
> B) Descend the stairs to the lower cells first, where you might find other prisoners...
> C) Deal with the gaolers you've disabled, thoroughly search this space or other such interests...
> D) _

You can freely task / direct your accompanying companions as you please, and are free to include additional discretion with the options above. From what you've gathered, the situation in Volkregar is still undecided.
No. 1073803 ID: a7a180

C. Did they drop any good loot?
No. 1073811 ID: 2c474b

C.) Have Geoffrey and Zarin secure the jailers, i'm sure there's plenty of bindings and manacles about.

A.) Scout ahead with Conrad and maybe C. C, once all hostiles are neutralized we can snoop and loot as much as we want.
No. 1073855 ID: fb8a42

Agreed, this is the best course of action. Have the team ready an ambush for when we return, just in case we have to book it back.
No. 1074889 ID: 809e5e
File 169751310042.jpg - (254.72KB , 750x450 , soj_132.jpg )

By your signal and call, Geoffrey and Conrad move in swiftly to join you while Zarin trails to re-position and guard the rear. With a cursory search of the gaolers and their accouterments, Conrad dons a thick leather forge apron for a modicum of armor before taking up one of the lengthy cage hooks -- sharp as it is, the end is more akin to a sickle you find. There are a variety of implements of pain here, but the gaolers themselves seem otherwise lacking in material value and no keys are found on their person.

Working to bind and strip the gaolers-turned-prisoners, Geoffrey finds a draught vial secreted on the larger man and gives it a cursory sniff; he wrinkles his nose and grimaces, but re-stopped the vial and tosses it to you. "Fireheart." He notes curtly; you're passingly familiar with it among alchemical concoctions, a mixture that can serve to set a creature into a zealous rage -- deadening pain and providing a surge of adrenaline and strength for a short while.

1x Fireheart Draught added to inventory.
No. 1074890 ID: 809e5e
File 169751312131.jpg - (230.59KB , 750x450 , soj_133.jpg )

Conrad sets off ahead of you down the adjoining corridor, carried on swift and nearly silent footfalls; the retavii seems capable of being quite stealthy from what you've observed. Upon reaching the end of the corridor however, you hear a clatter before Conrad swiftly steps into the chamber. You move swiftly to close the distance as torchlight crackles along the side of the passage, hearing a shout cut short with a choked gurgle.

Upon arriving to join Conrad, you find that he has dragged down a third gaoler by a hook through the neck -- dead where he lay as a pool of blood forms. "Don't shed tears over that one." He offers to you with a level gaze, before gesturing about the room: a torture chamber. A smaller cooked sickle rests near the slain gaoler's hand caked with gristle and pockmarked with rust.

Opposite whence you came is another short corridor, though it appears to be blocked off with a heavy slab of stone. At the far end of the chamber you see the caged storage Conrad spake of -- and it is to there that the retavii makes haste.
No. 1074891 ID: 809e5e
File 169751314488.jpg - (182.33KB , 750x450 , soj_134.jpg )

"My kit ought to be in here..." He mutters, kneeling down as he examines what looks to be a sturdy lock; you spy that he seems to have snatched up a leather roll of smaller torture implements -- picks, needles and blades -- beginning to probe about the lock's surface as his tail curls against the floor. "Shouldn't take me long."

Past the heavy bars you see a stone holding cell where several crates, barrels and a few strongboxes can be glimpsed along with standing racks for equipment -- though those seem mostly bare. Whatever the current purpose of the cell might be, you suspect it held more importance than a simpler lock-up for prisoner's belongings.

You decide to...

> A) Assist Conrad or take over contending with the lock, taking advantage of your own skill and tools...
> B) Observe Conrad as he works and converse while there is a lull, keeping an eye out for trouble...
> C) Leave Conrad to the task at hand and direct the others in the meantime...
> D) _

Passage deeper beyond the torture chamber seems to be blocked off, albeit with an impermanent barrier -- it is likely beyond more basic prowess and tools available to you at a glance. You could have a closer look around the torture chamber if you so choose, though it is quite abundantly clear that grisly work has been done here -- and recently, too.

Google sheet & character reference (spoilers if you're not caught up!):
No. 1074894 ID: fb8a42

C. Time to see if there are any notes from the interrogations, or personal effects from the victims that might identify them or give hints as to places of origin.

Once that's done, gather our forces and venture fo- uh, back up the passageway since this exit is blocked. Then we can take the northern corridor to lead up and into the underbelly of Volkregar,
No. 1074897 ID: 58dd24

B, but if he isn't very quick indeed, transition to A. A moment of bonding and assessment would be appreciated, and low key judging his skill. He is using improvised tools and your set is very nice, so no doubt it would be easier with your assistance, but maybe he really is that good.

Don't wander off though, you'll want an idea of what is in the confiscated item pile, both to get an idea of what he has, and what else might be available for immediate use.
No. 1075076 ID: 2c474b

B.) Observe his methods and his demeanor...and maybe his ass.

Hes an unknown factor, best to keep him in eyeshot until we get a full measure of him.

We know what he was here for but not why. Ask a few prying questions about his mission. Is he a foreign agent under orders; fool in search of adventure, or burglar after riches?
No. 1077645 ID: 809e5e
File 170042124147.jpg - (404.53KB , 750x450 , soj_135.jpg )

With a cursory search of the torture chamber, you are able to uncover a small compilation of notations seemingly scrawled in the process of interrogations; however, it is penned in a tongue you are unfamiliar with, perhaps more common among the khanate here. You stow the documents nevertheless, reasoning you can translate them later. Once that is settled, you step over to Conrad where he works at the lock.

Assuming the man capable, you assert to let him proceed as assigned and instead assuage your more dubious curiosity and assess Conrad's assailing without assistance. Assured by his performance you assay the rat may prove a promising asset as he defeats the lock with a satisfied grunt; Conrad proceeds to enter the locked space with its assorted goods before your new associate begins assembling his ensemble of equipment to don.

He does have a nice ass.

Granting Conrad some modesty as he sheds the leather apron and begins to clad and clothe himself with arms and armor once more, taking the opportunity to question him further -- and try to glean what sorts of articles he gathers. "Were yew on your own, or werking with others?" You inquire, leaning against the barred gate.

"I wasn't the only one sent on the errand, if that's what you mean -- but I tend to work alone with my approach." Conrad offers as he finishes cinching leggings and pulling on tall leather boots. "But I'd wager there's a couple others still up there; don't want to leave these sorts of things with a single point of failure." He casts you a look with a smirk at that, gathering up several belts and pouches.
No. 1077646 ID: 809e5e
File 170042126804.jpg - (360.36KB , 450x750 , soj_136.jpg )

Your long ears twitch as you consider, before probing further. "In service of a keeng, some lord, or...?" You watch as Conrad crosses a pair of belts at his waist, one with several large pouches in easy reach while the other hosts a loop he slings an axe to hang from. "Could be." He shoots you a look -- but you don't believe the remark to be made cheekily. "Discretion is part of the business and this client was very cautious."

Conrad dons long gloves that extend past his elbows, securing straps and cinching more of his garb; the man's gear is dark and well-suited for moving among the shadows at the very least. You glimpse him tucking several short blades into hidden but accessible places before draping a bandolier across his chest with several slender metal cylinders tucked into loops.

"Still, I do my due diligence and plan for contingencies." Conrad mutters as he pauses to check through a satchel he then slings to rest against the small of his back before draping himself in a long, dark cloak; curiously, his cloak extends around his left flank to the front, allowing him to more fully hide his actions there. "No one apparently knew there was a torture dungeon beneath the damned place though."

Lastly, you watch as Conrad gathers up a long cloth-wrapped bundle with a carrying strap which he slings at his back with some heft. "And what eez that?" You gesture.

"A contingency."

You decide to...

> A) Accompany Conrad back to the others to set out...
> B) Begin a search of what else may be in the locked storage while the others continue their watch for trouble...
> C) Confront Conrad with further questioning or more insistent interrogation...
> D) _

As usual you can generally finagle from these choices a bit, they're more general directions to take things. It's uncertain if or when trouble may come down to find your party here if you linger over-long. Barring anything unusual, once you choose to gather the party and venture forth we'll proceed with attempting to ascend within Volkregar.
No. 1077647 ID: 32bc15

B) Searching the storage can't hurt. Also, complement his buns. They're pretty good for someone who was imprisoned.
No. 1077661 ID: 3c2dff

C. We know he's after the Kalatite crystal. Let's tell him of our objective, and inform him that if he's going to get to his with our help, he'll need to repay his debt and assist us with searching for a way to combat the PALL. We can leave the FATED CITY out of it for now.
No. 1077662 ID: b3eab7

B must time may still be a concern. Don't spend too much time searching.

Respect Conrad's secrets.
No. 1077806 ID: a785dd

B) But don't take too long, focus on the strongboxes.
No. 1077884 ID: 2c474b

B.) It would be a shame not to loot something, but be quick about it.

Also keep an eye on Conrads' package

The one in his back

Are Buns familiar with Guns?
No. 1078592 ID: 809e5e
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Considering your options, you decide to chance complications from the time spent to search the strongboxes among the storage containers. Settling into a kneel, you produce your mastercraft tools to pick the locks. Conrad snorts upon spotting your handiwork, shaking his head ruefully. "I see how it is. I'll keep an eye out, try to be swift."

Fortunately, with your talent and tools you're able to make short work of the locks once you're confident there are no hidden traps or other mechanisms to defeat first. Among the several strongboxes you open and rifle through, you collect what coinage you find among the mix, alongside two notable surprise finds: a portable alchemist's travel kit and several fulminating canisters -- when thrown, they will billow a tremendous amount of smoke to obscure and debilitate any caught within.

You elect to eschew the bulkier mundane goods you discover, for concern of filling your marvelous bag to its capacity. Packing away your collected goods, you set out with Conrad to rejoin the others and proceed further into Volkregar.

8g, 42s coins added to inventory
Alchemist Travel Kit added to inventory
3x Fulminating Canisters added to inventory

You are not familiar with 'guns.'
No. 1078593 ID: 809e5e
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Checking in with the others, you find Geoffrey and Zarin at the ready with C.C. -- now joined by an armed and equipped Conrad, you gather the party and venture forth. Together, you navigate the pathway around the cavernous drop into the abyss below, making your way up the steps along the northern wall before heading down the arched corridor beyond.

Putting the hidden dungeon at your back, you proceed for some sixty feet of unlit tunnel before arriving at an antechamber with wooden benches, a smouldering bronze brazier and a set of stone steps ascending some distance. Here, you take to the lead from Zarin and C.C., particularly wary of the possibility of traps and ultimately arriving at a place where the steps lead up into a stone ceiling.

With a cursory search, you find a lever mechanism -- upon activating it, some hidden contraption begins to shift the immense weight of stone above you as it slides slowly back, revealing a grand open chamber beyond with high vaulted ceilings.
No. 1078594 ID: 809e5e
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Cautiously, you begin to make your way to crest the steps as your long ears prick to a din and clamor in the near distance. With a look about your surroundings, you find yourself to be at the top of a previously hidden staircase -- a sizable statue of a robed figure having shifted aside. Nearby, you see the cubby beneath an altar set before a long carpet flanked by wooden pews: some manner of grand cathedral or temple hall, you reason.

To either side of the immense chamber are several doorways on two separate floors with an open atrium above the pews; though most of the chamber is dimly lit, light filters through an immense stained glass window set high above the far yonder wall. Beneath it, you glimpse the source of the calamitous sounds: a large, heavy set of double doors have been burst open by force and you can see numerous figures in armor engaged in melee with an enormous, perilous creature of brawny limbs, tough hide and curved horns.

At present, you see the beast lifting a man from the ground as he struggles frantically midst shouts and calls to action. Strewn about the entryway are casualties, some clearly worse off than others -- but whatever force faces the beast seems to be under great duress. Up on the mezzanine to the side, you can see a robed figure chanting and gesturing with a vantage of the battle below as arcane energy crackles in the air. You expect that the combatants below are either Sarken, or ones who may be aligned with such; some of the casualties appear to be robed figures.

Considering your options, you decide to...

> A) Aid the imperiled Sarken against the defenders of Volkregar...
> B) Bolster Volkregar's defenses in a bid to ensure the Sarken are rebuked...
> C) Conceal yourselves as best as you're able, trying to avoid the encounter as it unfolds...
> D) _

Google sheet & character reference (spoilers if you're not caught up!):

At present, you have an opportunity to try to aid an abet either faction present if you so choose, or you can attempt to avoid notice with your party. For any of the listed options, it's flexible as far as how you choose to proceed with such -- so feel free to offer more involved direction.

With the four of you along with C.C., you can likely represent a decisive turn to battle. Consider how you'd like to proceed, you may wish to discuss this among yourselves as this may have a lasting influence on how things unfold!

No. 1078615 ID: 1bb0f1


On one side we have the away team, the (presumably) SARKEN. The Sarken are currently having a terrific season, scoring a string of victories this season over the home team, the Khanate of KHOR.

Our heroine, Kaia, has not drawn blood against the Sarken as a faction. Kaia has fought some brigands/deserters who were formerly part of the Sarken invading force, but were no longer flying that banner. So if Kaia decides to pick a side here for or against the Sarken, she’ll be putting herself (and indirectly the Briar Spire, and Obsidian Sanctum, and Coven) on the table as a political player. We should evaluate our options here.


- Currently kicking ass and taking names, doing okay military wise
- Have a cool Empress, according to her fan club
- Strong military presence
- Have divine casters

- Geoff thinks they’re all zealots
- Probably have committed atrocities in the invasion


- Have powerful magi, which are VERY rare in this setting so it’s cool (though the Sarken have divine casters)
- One of the four Magi currently controls Volkregar, so if we help the occupying mage here, they might help us in our quest

- Weaker military presence
- Power vacuum at the top due to the Great Khan dying
- Were about to torture Conrad, so he’s not gonna like them probably, though he could be mature about the whole thing
- Definitely tortured some other people
- Their mages tend to throw around nasty bad magic

Stay Neutral and Watch them Fight

- Is entertaining and safe
- Keeps our options open
- No risk to pissing off Geoff or Conrad

- If we want to join up with either side later, they’ll ask why the buune didn’t help them here, duude
- Passes over a chance to straight up get the stuff we want from Volkregar (if we want to team up with Khor)
- Passes over the chance to take over Volkregar (If we want to team up with Sarken)
- No opportunities to team up with powerful mages (Khor) or other exciting party members (Sarken)

If we like mages and underdogs, go Khor. If we want to be on the (currently) winning team with an actual leader and army that isn’t succumbing to infighting and not dealing with the PALL, go Sarken.

Or we could just watch them fight it out and see who comes out on top. Though if I had to guess, the guy slinging spells from the mezzanine might be the great magi (maybe) so that could tip the scales in favor of Khor unless we take him out.

I’m not actually voting at the moment I just felt like being a sportscaster for a bit, I’ll vote later
No. 1078618 ID: 32c482


We can solo, no diff.
No. 1078623 ID: a7a180

Sarken may not be our favorite faction politically, but the footsoldiers are alright and our goals align at the moment. Alliance of convenience, go A.
No. 1078624 ID: a25322


Very well explained.

B, let's side against Sarken.
No. 1078627 ID: b42d1e

it's so much easier to manage a defense, takes less manpower too... and lot less risky for the party!
No. 1078630 ID: eb0a9c

D) Kill them both, chalk it up to retaliation against rogue companies that were 'clearly instigated by independent brigades failing to uphold the rules of war'.
tl;dr: They committed war crimes, you treat them as bandits and not enlisted soldiers.
No. 1078635 ID: 2c474b

C.) the boring, cautious, neutral option...

From where you are would you be able to safely aid any of the casualties or at least drag them clear of danger?

It would be amusing to see how everyone reacts.
No. 1078636 ID: b3eab7

B) Check with your party for objections (and possible no-kill requests), then side with the Khor, since you are here to parlay with the magi.
No. 1079531 ID: fb32ab

B, because mages can conjure magic sticks for C.C., and this is an opportunity that cannot B missed.

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