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In memory of Flyin' Black Jackson
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657970 No. 657970 ID: 26e769

“…and do you swear to uphold the neutrality and the purpose of the Messngers?”

“I swear.”

“Do you swear to forget the past, to remake yourself and your body amongst the ranks of the Messengers?”

“I swear.”

“Then it’s done. Well, almost. You’ll be given the powers and duties of a Messenger once you’ve chosen your new name, sex, and body shape.”

“What shapes can I choose?”

“Any shape you’d like. Not too big, mind. Size is a killer when it comes to dietary requirements. Most of us go for the vaguely humanoid, but others have been a bit more experimental. Setheral went for a swarm of insects, which has been working out for her so far.”

“Are there any constraints on name choice?”

“Ah, yes. One word or name at the most. If you need a surname for whatever reason, we all use ‘Messenger’. Do hurry it up, would you? We’re due to leave for Kakath tonight, and I still need to prepare.”

“So what do I-?’

“Just say what you want your name to be, what you want your sex to be, and what you want your body shape to be, in that order.”
Expand all images
>>
No. 657971 ID: bd8b82

ozool, any, slime.
>>
No. 657972 ID: ab7529

Gertrude, female, a vaguely humanoid (but reconfigurable) form made out of a group of octopi interlocking.
>>
No. 657998 ID: 26e769
File 143785885291.png - (367.31KB , 1000x1000 , lotm2.png )
657998

I hesitate. “I, uh…”

"Stop." Lydiri interrupts, his voice echoey and metallic. "I know I told you to hurry, but you have to think this through. The form you choose will be yours for the rest of your life, and I guarantee that no matter what you pick, you'll find yourself regretting the decision for some reason or another at some point down the line."

I bite my lip. ”Give me a little more time to think."

"Whatever you need." He nods. "Don't agonize over the decision, but don't treat it lightly, either. If it pains you, then you can always back out."

"No, I'm not going to do that. I committed."

"Then the only thing left for you to do is choose. If you need any more information, I’ll do my best to answer questions.”
>>
No. 658002 ID: ebcefd

How about a small dragon with fluffy feathers? Being able to fly would be useful.
>>
No. 658009 ID: 1cebc8

Zerth, Androgynous, Computer Program
>>
No. 658010 ID: 9ddf68

well if your a messenger, and if this guys actually delver stuff, I want to say go with something with wings. Could keep it simple and just go with an angle/demon look, or go with something a bit more exotic. Honestly drawing a bit of blank here.
>>
No. 658011 ID: 9297f4

Kantor, Male, anthropomorphic Deinonychus
>>
No. 658012 ID: 99cfa8

>Body
>>657972
I like this, except why not just one octopus with really long tentacles legs? Maybe ones that branch out at the ends so we can have "fingers".

Orrrrrr a dryad girl made of vines, like so: http://yasutoshimaru.deviantart.com/art/Chinese-Alraune-158365436

> sex
Duh.

> name
Jenny
>>
No. 658013 ID: 7dc3ab

How about a half spider person. Male so that we get the small nimble version.
>>
No. 658015 ID: e114bc

>>657998
If you choose a non-human body, will you ever get used to it?
>>
No. 658016 ID: 0fc976

Name: Daphne
Gender: Female
Shape: very tall dryad
(why worry about size when you can photosynthesize!)
>>
No. 658017 ID: ab7529

>>657972
I still favor this. (I might have suggested the swarm of bugs, if that hadn't been done already).

>>658012
I was thinking the hands were octopi, using tentacles as fingers, gripped from behind by the arm-octopus behind them. Everything would either be an octopus (heads, hands, feet) or made up of multiples interlocking limbs.
>>
No. 658020 ID: 26e769
File 143786919670.png - (216.66KB , 1000x1000 , lotm3.png )
658020

“If I choose a non-human body, will I ever get used to it?”

“Some don’t, but plenty do.”

“Okay, then. I’ve decided.”

“Alright. Go on, make your statement of identity.”

I take a deep breath. “My name will be Gertrude, my sex will be female, and my body shape will be a vaguely humanoid, reconfigurable collection of octopi, each with large numbers of tentacles.”

Instantly, the ground bursts into geometric patterns, and light shines from everywhere. My skin turns to steam and my body dissolves. I try to scream, but my mouth is already gone.

Then the process seems to reverse itself. My skin reforms, now thicker and more smooth. It glistens in vibrant shades of lavender and blue. After a moment, I feel my senses returning, but they’re new, alien. Sensations rush through my mind, but I don’t understand what most of them mean.
>>
No. 658021 ID: 26e769
File 143786923558.png - (350.09KB , 1000x1000 , lotm4.png )
658021

I see out of seven pairs of eyes, and I feel the jumbling motions of seven bodies. I feel so unsteady, like the wrong move will make me fall to pieces.

“Ooh, interesting. How do you feel, Gertrude? Are you comfortable?”

I try to speak, but nothing comes out. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t know how to talk, or if it’s because I can’t talk at all.
>>
No. 658022 ID: b9cef6

Uh... raise your arm and shake your hand just a little? The universal sign for "iffy."
>>
No. 658023 ID: 5c9255

Turn yellow. That's a happy colour, right?
>>
No. 658024 ID: ab7529

If you're confused, I suggest closing some of your non-standard sets of eyes while you adjust. Give you less to process at once, while you figure out the parts of your new form you can't turn off.

>How do you feel, Gertrude? Are you comfortable?
Try to do a thumbs-up gesture with one of your tentacle-fingers, if you can't speak. (Maybe we should have specified talking octopi).

>I feel so unsteady, like the wrong move will make me fall to pieces.
Clothes might help. We'd have an exoskeleton lattice structure to anchor on and keep us from losing shape.
>>
No. 658026 ID: e114bc

>>658021
Try dropping a "hand" then picking it back up again.
>>
No. 658027 ID: bd8b82

fall to pieces and then put yourself back together. you can learn a lot from failures.
>>
No. 658029 ID: ab7529

We're missing boobs. An important part of being female. You're gonna need to add two little chest-octopi.

Do we actually have a mouth and nose set forward on our face-topus, or are we just using adaptive camo skin to fake it? (Our entire skin is basically a high resolution screen, now).
>>
No. 658032 ID: 0fc976

Octopuses have beaks at the base of their tentacles, you might need to rotate your head-topus a bit so it has room to- *SKRAWWWWWW*

-To squawk.
>>
No. 658033 ID: 26e769
File 143787285215.png - (127.98KB , 800x600 , lotm5.png )
658033

I close all but two of my new eyes, to help adjust.

I try to speak again, but I can only seem to squeak quietly. I give Lydiri a very, very shaky thumbs-up.

“Wonderful! Just follow me, then, and we’ll meet the others.”

He starts walking, and I move to follow.
>>
No. 658034 ID: 26e769
File 143787288753.png - (119.45KB , 800x600 , lotm6.png )
658034

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be an expert at moving yet. I fall to pieces.

“Oh dear.” Lydiri chuckles. “Need some help?”

I nod.
>>
No. 658035 ID: 26e769
File 143787299507.png - (132.25KB , 800x600 , lotm7.png )
658035

Lydiri helps me reassemble my body, then goes off to talk to another Messenger. I notice that my new body is lacking in feminine assets. I feel slightly embarrassed. I start to consider methods for solving my lack of endowment, but my thoughts are interrupted by Lydiri’s return.

“Hold still, please.” He slowly slips clothing over me. I try not to move, but I can't seem to stop myself from wobbling around. After a while, he finally manages to get the shirt and dress onto me, and then clasps the cloak around my neck. “These are hand-me-downs from Rakazni, so be sure to thank her if you get a chance. Do you like them? We can talk to Setheral about alterations if you’re not a fan. If you’re lucky, she might even be willing to spin you up a whole new outfit.”
>>
No. 658036 ID: e114bc

>>658035
Standard uniform is legit.
>>
No. 658039 ID: ab7529

Can you control your skin-patterns deliberately? If you can't speak, we could, say, write text across your face with color changing.

Assuming there's not some magic speech spell. Magic is a thing, right? I kind of assumed it must be, what with the transformation.

Until we figure out some more detailed method of speech, you'll have to rely mostly on gestures. Hand movements, head shacking / nodding, etc.

>Do you like them?
Just nod, for now.

>clothes / outfit
We're really not in a position to communicate this right now, but a final design might want to wait till we figure out what the requirements of our new body are. (Maybe some tentacle-holds on the inside, so you can grab onto it in a few places, keep clothes in place, and yourself steady. We might also need something to help keep us moist, depending on how well we function outside of water for long periods at a time).

You probably want to favor dresses, skirts or robes over anything like pants, so tentacle-locomotion is easier.

...maybe something lower cut if and when we figure out octo-tits.
>>
No. 658043 ID: 0fc976

We're feeling proud to wear the uniform already. Slightly less so about our ability to walk in s straight line. We'll have to practice moving about as separated cephalopods later.
>>
No. 658052 ID: 26e769
File 143787777196.png - (186.54KB , 800x600 , lotm8.png )
658052

I focus, trying to display different patterns, but my skin just goes splotchy and brown. I guess I need more practice.

I nod my approval of the clothes.

"Fantastic." Lydiri pats me on the shoulder, very lightly, then leads me towards the Messenger camp.

I manage to stay together this time. The clothes help a lot.

"Okay, so, I'm sorry, but I've got to leave for a bit. There's some urgent business with a snapper tree." He leans down a little, to look me in the eyes. "While I'm gone, I'd suggest that you try to make some friends. You're one of us, now, and that means it's about time that you introduced yourself around camp. Maybe try exploring your new body a little, too." He stands. "Welcome to the Messengers, Gertrude."

Before I can respond, he turns and strides away.

I stand on my wobbly new 'legs', wondering what I should do first.
>>
No. 658054 ID: 5c9255

Do some stretches, try to get used to things, then talk to that guy at the campfire. Well, mime.
>>
No. 658058 ID: ab7529

>Do you swear to forget the past
Was that just an oath to forget the past, or did you actually magically forget when you transformed?

>I'd suggest that you try to make some friends.
I wonder how hard that will be while we can't talk. I guess we'll have to make do with a cute face? (We might need a nametag).

Maybe we could get a notepad to communicate with. We'd have to learn how to write with tentacle-hands, though.

>lack of feminine assets
I guess in a pinch, we could improvise tentacle tits, ala SCDA's Abbey. >>/questarch/564043
At least until we find little octopi for the purpose.

>Maybe try exploring your new body a little, too
For now, practice walking and moving. Later we'll experiment with talking, and controlling your skin.

Food will be interesting to figure out. Do all of your octopi need to eat, or does food / energy get magically shared like your consciousness? Will you have to just fake it (sticking food into face tentacles) that you then pass around inside the clothes? (If they all eat individually, it occurs to me that "legs" is the biggest, and does the most work carrying the rest of you around. Food goes down the metaphorical pants).

Bathtime will be fun. Fill the tub, go to pieces, swim around.

I wonder if drying out will be a problem. Or breathing. You're breathing, right? Hopefully we don't need to be underwater for gills.

>wat do
Go try and 'talk' to one of the others. Choices are the turtle (beetle?) guy resting by the fire, or the horned shopkeeper(?).
>>
No. 658059 ID: 9297f4

Make a couple of your throat tentacles vibrate at high frequencies, see if that can make noises. Then try to adjust them to form words.
>>
No. 658062 ID: 26e769
File 143788011645.png - (110.75KB , 800x600 , lotm9.png )
658062

>Was that just an oath to forget the past, or did you actually magically forget when you transformed?

I remember the past, but I can’t act on it or draw from it. Everyone knows that the Messengers can’t be biased.

I stretch my tentacles slightly. It feels squishy. After a little more squishing around, I carefully move myself over to the large man at the fire. I’m not sure what he is, yet.

I wave politely. When he doesn't respond, I tap him on the shoulder.
>>
No. 658063 ID: 26e769
File 143788014986.png - (163.41KB , 800x600 , lotm10.png )
658063

He wakes instantly, throwing back his hood. His appearance surprises me.

“Why, hello there! I must have dozed off! Sorry, missy.” He pushes his hands towards me. “Say, I don’t think I’ve seen your face ‘round camp before. You must be the newbie Lydiri brought in, huh? Gosh, that’s swell! We haven’t had a newbie in years! And I’d know, I’ve been on the trail for a decade or two myself, if you can believe it!” He laughs, and the sound is deafening. “But that’s neither here nor there. Leroy’s the name! Folks ‘round here call me Senser sometimes, but, heck, I hate that nickname! How about you, newbie? Got a moniker for old Leroy to call you by?”

I try to vibrate my tentacles to make sound. I manage to produce a quiet musical tone, but not much else. Leroy waits expectantly, a smile on his, uh, body.
>>
No. 658067 ID: e114bc

>>658063
You almost sortof spoke before normally. Try that but louder.
>>
No. 658068 ID: ab7529

Oh. Interesting. He's just the key elements of a face.

>I manage to produce a quiet musical tone
Can you vary the tone? If you increase the volume you could sort of sing-speak, maybe. Enough to 'sing' your name, maybe.

Maybe vowel sounds come from the tentacle vibrations, and the consonants from harder beak chirps?

If you can't manage to speak, gesture at your throat, shrug, and give an awkward smile. I think he'll get the message and understand you haven't figured out talking yet.
>>
No. 658069 ID: 1cebc8

Try singing with knives. Your tentacles can perform complex tasks with multiple objects, so find a way to simulate sound using random clashing objects.
>>
No. 658077 ID: 5c9255

Just gesture at your throat. You're still figuring things out.
>>
No. 658089 ID: 0fc976

Point at mouth (yours, not his - it's impolite to stare) and shrug. Try making some burbling noises.
>>
No. 658098 ID: 26e769
File 143788873046.png - (119.66KB , 800x600 , lotm11.png )
658098

I try my best to speak, humming along with the clicks of my seven beaks to vaguely simulate a human voice. “Guuuu… Gaaaaah… Goooooo…”

“Speak up, missy. My ears aren’t what they used to be.”

“Guuuuhhhh… toooo… toood…. teeeoood. Guuuh…teee…oood.”

“Gutty Ood?”

“Guuuuh… tuh… wooood. Guuuhtuhwoood.”

“Got Wood?”

“Gutwoold! Guhtuhrood!”

“Gertrude?”
>>
No. 658099 ID: 26e769
File 143788877782.png - (120.42KB , 800x600 , lotm12.png )
658099

Oh my gosh, I did it! I did it!

“Well, Gertrude, that’s a fine name you have there. Good and proper, that one. Gertrude, Leroy, we’ve got the right idea, you know, we picked names, not like all these clowns named Rikalokamumbo’k’taaaz or what-have-you. Why, nobody ever called themselves that nonsense back in the good old days, back when we had business a-booming and a place to rest our weary selves in every town we…”

He suddenly goes quiet and droops in his chair.

…is he asleep?
>>
No. 658101 ID: 5c9255

Maybe he just ran out of air. Give him a moment.
>>
No. 658103 ID: 0fc976

I think he's remembering something that makes him feel sad. Lay a sympathetic tentacle on his shoulder.
>>
No. 658104 ID: bd8b82

check him.
>>
No. 658105 ID: ab7529

>He suddenly goes quiet and droops in his chair.
>…is he asleep?
Maybe he nodded off. Or maybe he cut himself off because the conversation turned to how things aren't good for the messengers now, and he doesn't want to think about that. Or lay in on a newbie.

Put a sympathetic hand approximation on, uh, where his shoulder should be, and give him a small reassuring smile. It's okay.
>>
No. 658111 ID: 1cebc8

Yeah, at this point the quest title is REALLY ominous. Call for medical support, you never know...
>>
No. 658116 ID: 26e769
File 143789026473.png - (167.45KB , 800x600 , lotm13.png )
658116

I tentatively reach out to put a comforting tentacle or two on his shoulder, but I get interrupted by a hand on my own shoulder.

A warped, buzzing voice speaks quietly. “Leave the poor devil be. He hardly gets any sleep when we’re on the road, keeping watch like he does.”

I turn to the source of the voice.

Wow. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to these people.

“You’re the new girl, right? I’m Rakazni. Welcome to the Messengers.”
>>
No. 658117 ID: e114bc

>>658116
Oh alright. Say thanks. Hmm, th and s sounds might be troublesome.
>>
No. 658118 ID: ab7529

>Wow. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to these people.
Just remember how you look, and try not to judge.

Although you're at least based on a real thing. The more abstract forms seem like they would have been harder to imagine or describe in advance.

>>658116
Oh, hey, it's her. Try to thank her for the clothes she handed down to you.
>>
No. 658121 ID: 0fc976

She certainly has a LOOMing presence.

ha ha ha

knitting joke

Introduce yourself to Rakazni too, Goottoowoode. Uh, is that a scarf, or a tongue, or a beard?
>>
No. 658173 ID: 9ddf68

"thanks"

so what do these guys do anyways?
>>
No. 658208 ID: aef8a4

Thank her for the clothing and ask if she has suggestions for how to get used to our new existence: We're reconfigurable so eventually we should be able to walk around with porn-star curves--and do porn-star things with aplomb--but we're having a hard time walking, talking or keeping upright in human shape so far.
>>
No. 658212 ID: 26e769
File 143793499398.png - (140.08KB , 800x600 , lotm14.png )
658212

>so what do these guys do anyways?

The Messengers are diplomats-for-hire who travel the world. They say that a Messenger can bridge any gap, mend any feud, and speak any language.

I’ve heard stories that Messengers can even speak with ancient forces, like time and nature. Maybe that’s how they transformed me.

I point to the clothes, then to Rakazni.

“Yes, those were mine. I used to be a lot shorter, but puberty hit this body hard. Do you like them?”

I try to say ‘thank you’. “Aaannn… kuh. Annnn…kuh… oooo.”

“Huh?”

I give up. I point at my clothes, then give her a thumbs up.

“Oh, good. I’m glad you like them, uh…”

“Guhtuhrood.”
>>
No. 658213 ID: 26e769
File 143793505858.png - (156.60KB , 800x600 , lotm15.png )
658213

“I’m glad you like them, Gertrude.” Rakazni offers a hand. I shake it.

When we go to pull away from the handshake, though, I accidentally leave something behind.

“Oh my.” Rakazni stares at the little octopus on her hand.
>>
No. 658218 ID: ab7529

>The Messengers are diplomats-for-hire who travel the world. They say that a Messenger can bridge any gap, mend any feud, and speak any language.
>we can currently barely speak at all
Hmm. Well. Hopefully we resolve that eventually.

>>658213
Hand-topus, maybe eye contact with and wave at Rakazni.

Gert, giggle. "Sorry."

Carefully hold out your left hand, release Rakazni from your stuck right hand, and then see about tucking you detached hand-topus back where it belongs.
>>
No. 658222 ID: aef8a4

We need the training montage, we can't even keep our hands off people. Time to scale walls, punch through boards, speech therapy, ballroom dancing, pole-dancing and so on.
>>
No. 658225 ID: 9ddf68

oops

we might as well grab that little bugger and put him back where he belongs.
>>
No. 658230 ID: bd8b82

switch control to hand topus, let go of hand, drop to the foor and then crawl up leg-topus and body-topus and arm-topus and get back in position.
>>
No. 658258 ID: 26e769
File 143794785462.png - (171.47KB , 800x600 , lotm16.png )
658258

I close off all of my senses except for the ones in my little 'hand' self, then jump out of Rakazni's grip.

Gosh! Everything's so big!

I look at the other me. Huh, so that's what I look like.

I crawl up my own body and hop into my other 'hand', then switch back to my 'head' self.
>>
No. 658261 ID: 26e769
File 143794795456.png - (192.06KB , 800x600 , lotm17.png )
658261

Rakazni watches me as I do my best to reattach it. The process takes a few tries. How embarrassing! Eventually I manage to get it back on, though.

I try to say 'sorry'. "Aaaaah... reeeee. uuuuh... aaah... reee." I feel even more humiliated by my inability to speak. I hang my head.

"Aww, don't stress over it, Gertrude." Rakazni shrugs. "So you're in pieces, huh?"

I nod.

"You're sort of like Setheral and Ziddicos, then. Seth is bugs, Ziddy is mice." She glances down at my hand. "If you want pointers on keeping yourself together, they might be able to help." She turns, searching with her eyes. "Aha, there's Seth, she's spinning spiderwebs... and there's Ziddy, caged as usual. I wonder what he did wrong this time?" She looks back at me. "Would you like me to introduce you?"

I try to say something, but Rakazni stops me.

"Hey, hey, don't push yourself, new girl. How about this? Just nod your head if you want to go talk to Seth, shake your head if you want to see Ziddy, and shrug if you don't want to meet either of them right now.”
>>
No. 658263 ID: e114bc

>>658261
Nod.
>>
No. 658267 ID: ab7529

>Seth is bugs, Ziddy is mice
A swarm and rat-king.

>How about this? [offers a non-verbal response]
Smile in relief.

Hmm. I think we should nod. Seth sort of inspired the octopi suggestion, and bugs are another weird animal that aren't made for normal talking (mice at least have mammalian mouths and lungs, even if they aren't supposed to speak). Plus if Ziddy is in a cage, that suggests they don't behave very well, or maybe aren't in a good mood.
>>
No. 658269 ID: 0fc976

Nod so vigorously your head comes off.
>>
No. 658272 ID: ab7529

>>658269
If that happens, catch it. (Octo-dullahan?).
>>
No. 658277 ID: 9ddf68

>I close off all of my senses except for the ones in my little 'hand' self, then jump out of Rakazni's grip.
holy crap we can spy the shit out of things. can't help wonder how well we can swim?

as for what do, nod.
>>
No. 658362 ID: 26e769
File 143796190629.png - (263.05KB , 800x600 , lotm18.png )
658362

I nod so hard my head almost falls off, but I manage to catch it before it hits the ground.

“No time to waste, huh?” Rakazni’s laughter sounds squeaky and weird. “Follow me, then.”

She leads me over to a small hill. I notice a strange web, with a dozen or so spiders spinning web around little cylinders on sticks. I look a little closer, and I realize that the webbed-up cylinders are empty rolls of thread.

“Seth?” Rakazni calls out.

The woman at the odd spinning wheel stops what she’s doing, tilting her head slightly.

“This is Gertrude, the new girl. I think she could use your help.”

The woman stands up. She walks over, slowly, her movements jerky and odd.
>>
No. 658363 ID: 26e769
File 143796194471.png - (223.70KB , 800x600 , lotm19.png )
658363

Suddenly, she jumps right in front of me, arms raised, shaking all around!

“Boo! Oooooo, whoa, oogity boogity I’m made out of bugs! Isn’t that scary?! Oh gosh it’s so scary are you scared yet because you should be because I’m a big pile of bugs!”
>>
No. 658364 ID: bd8b82

fall off your leg-topus
>>
No. 658366 ID: ab7529

>>658363
Why would we be sacred? We heard that she was made of bugs before we even picked a form.

Giggle musically while covering your mouth. Then remove one octopus hand and wave it around with the other to show you're made of tentacles.
>>
No. 658369 ID: 9ddf68

stare at her for a second, then pop off one of your octopus parts, place it on your shoulder, have your "head" and the other octopus look at each other, then shrug and have it go back to where it once came.

That should get the message across
>>
No. 658374 ID: ab7529

>>658363
Oh hey, can you tell how she's talking? Does it sound like a regular human voice, or is she approximating one out of a bunch of different bug noises.
>>
No. 658377 ID: e114bc

>>658363
Jump with an "aaaa!" and fall to pieces! C'mon, play along.
>>
No. 658384 ID: 0fc976

Give her your best The Scream impression.
>>
No. 658397 ID: 1cebc8

Throw one of your hands into her face.
>>
No. 658398 ID: 9297f4

GIVE HER A GOOD OL' TENTACLE FUCKING.
>>
No. 658401 ID: f4d940

>>658377
Yeah yeah, that one
>>
No. 658402 ID: 26e769
File 143797223608.png - (170.90KB , 800x600 , lotm20.png )
658402

I try my best to act surprised.

I squeak a bunch, as loud as I can, I throw my 'hands' to my 'face' in terror, squeak a bunch more, and then I disconnect all of my parts and fly apart as violently as I can in mock horror.
>>
No. 658403 ID: 26e769
File 143797228510.png - (106.39KB , 800x600 , lotm21.png )
658403

"...someone else already told you, didn't they?"
>>
No. 658404 ID: ab7529

>"...someone else already told you, didn't they?"
Giggle. Muffled "Yes". Or "esss". You should be able to manage one letter.

Pull yourself together, still smiling.
>>
No. 658405 ID: 1cebc8

Start sucking on her face, see if she screams for comedy.
>>
No. 658406 ID: 0fc976

"N-nooo... maybe."
>>
No. 658407 ID: 8ec139

>>658405
yes
>>
No. 658409 ID: ab7529

>>658405
She doesn't have a face. She's made of bugs. If we suck (assuming we even can), we're going to inhale a bug. You don't generally make friends by eating parts of them alive.
>>
No. 658428 ID: 9ddf68

yes, had have the squid on her head nod as well
>>
No. 658465 ID: f4d940

I'd say "that's kinda why I'm here", but unless you wanna try it, that might be kinda a mouthful.
>>
No. 658590 ID: d4a543

Maybe just write in the dirt instead of trying to talk.

"You were literally the first example Lydiri gave of an unusual form after I took the oath."
>>
No. 658599 ID: 26e769
File 143803683914.png - (125.88KB , 800x600 , lotm22.png )
658599

I squeak out a giggle.

I try to say ‘yes’, but I have a lot of difficulty making an ’s’ sound. I go for ‘yeah’ instead. “Eeeee… aaaaah… uhhh.”

Rakazni shifts around, looking guilty.

Setheral picks up on it. “Drat, Rakazni, first rookie in years and you have to go and spoil the fun!”

“Sorry, Seth, I didn’t mean to step on your toes.”

“I don’t have toes, dear. Even if I did, though, I’d still forgive you.” Setheral pulls my ‘hand’ off of her face and holds it up. “Now, let’s take a look at our little friend here.”

>Oh hey, can you tell how she's talking? Does it sound like a regular human voice, or is she approximating one out of a bunch of different bug noises.

I don’t think I would have noticed that it wasn’t a human voice if I hadn’t been paying close attention. It does sound like bugs buzzing, but it’s a really good approximation.
>>
No. 658603 ID: 26e769
File 143803703747.png - (134.79KB , 800x600 , lotm23.png )
658603

I switch into my ‘hand’ self and dangle in Setheral’s grip. There are small holes in the ends of her cloth ‘fingers’, and I can feel the bugs underneath. It’s ticklish, and I can’t help but squeak in laughter.

“Oh, you’re a cute one, aren’t you? Not to mention that you’re in about half a dozen pieces. Can you say your name yet?”

“Guurtuhrood.”

“Pleased to meet you, Gertrude. Lydiri brought you in, didn’t he? He’s always been a bit lax when it comes to explanations. You must be very confused.”

I nod.

“Poor thing. Do you have your tutor yet? If not, you should find someone before we leave tonight. It’ll be harder to get people’s attention on the road.”

“Uuuhh?”

“Right, right, you probably don’t know. New Messengers generally find a dedicated mentor to help them learn the ropes. Just pick someone you like and stay close to them.”

Rakazni speaks up. “Oh, Setheral, I almost forgot to mention: Lydiri wanted your help in talking with the tree.”

“Of course he did. Lazyhorns. Would you like to come along, Gertrude? You could watch the Messengers in action.”
>>
No. 658605 ID: e114bc

>>658603
Yup.
>>
No. 658610 ID: 9ddf68

not like we're doing anything else
>>
No. 658611 ID: ab7529

>Drat, Rakazni, first rookie in years and you have to go and spoil the fun
Technically Lydiri spoiled it first.

>There are small holes in the ends of her cloth ‘fingers’
Makes sense. The access holes let her feel, and let bugs get out when necessary, while the cloth finger gives her form.

>New Messengers generally find a dedicated mentor to help them learn the ropes. Just pick someone you like and stay close to them.
Well we haven't met very people, yet. Lydiri seems kind of busy with his thing, Leroy might not be the best choice if he's taxed enough already he randomly nods off. Rakazni and Seth have both been nice and helpful so far. Rakazni maybe more so, so far, although Seth might be more suited to advising with our specific challenges.

>Would you like to come along, Gertrude?
Nod with the one she's holding.
>>
No. 658625 ID: f61b8d

Leaning towards Seth, so far
>>
No. 658650 ID: 0fc976

Hitch a ride on Seth, little handtopus! Your body can handle itself for a few minutes.
>>
No. 658654 ID: 1cebc8

So you latch onto Leroy and Setheral latches onto you and then you go and do your stuff as some kind of booeywoman, right?

Well just get going already.
>>
No. 658687 ID: 26e769
File 143805170412.png - (188.92KB , 800x600 , lotm24.png )
658687

I crawl up Setheral’s arm and rest on her shoulder.

Setheral laughs in a lilting buzz. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

Rakazni waves us goodbye. “It was nice meeting you, Gertrude. See you later!”

I wave back with a tentacle. Then Setheral starts to walk, and I have to grip a little tighter to make sure I don’t fall off her shoulder.

We eventually reach a large tree surrounded by various Messengers, all discussing things in low tones. The familiar horned shape of Lydiri makes its way over to us.

“Seth!” He calls out. “I’m glad that you’re here. I see you’ve made a new friend.”

“She could certainly use a few more friends, considering her recruiter abandoned her.” Setheral crosses her arms sternly. “Honestly, Lydiri. She’s barely even able to talk. How could you just leave her like that?”

“Hey, hey, I was busy! I’ve got a lot of things on my plate today.” He gestures towards the tree. “Case in point. ”

“Excuses, excuses. What exactly did you need from me? Kotrei looks like he’s got it handled.”

“Sure, he’s been able to talk to it, but it’s been a bit stubborn when it comes to actual discussion. We think the reason it’s being so ornery is because it’s got a rotsucker infestation in one of its smaller mouths.”

“And you want me to take care of it, I assume?”

“If you wouldn’t mind.”

Setheral sighs. “…fine. But you look after Gertrude while I do, okay? It wouldn't be safe for her in there.”
>>
No. 658688 ID: 26e769
File 143805175772.png - (146.04KB , 800x600 , lotm25.png )
658688

Setheral bumps shoulders with Lydiri, giving me an opportunity to hop over, and then she walks off towards the tree.

“Hello again, Gertrude.” Lydiri gives me a small pat on the head. “You’re a lot smaller than the last time I-“

“Lydiri!” A large, flat-headed Messenger strides up to Lydiri, looking very irritated. “What exactly do you think you’re doing?”

“You’ll have to be more specific than that.”

“You-!” Thryke glances at me. “…you’ve got an octopus on your shoulder.”

“Very rude, Thryke. Is that any way to talk about our newest Messenger?”

”Hiiiii. Ahhhhh aaaahmmm Guhrtuhrood.”

“…uh, hi.” Thryke stares at me for a moment, then shakes his head. “Whatever. Lydiri, why are we trying to talk with that thing? This isn’t what our employer wanted.”

“He wanted us to resolve the situation. We’re resolving it.”

“It ate his daughter, Lydiri! He wants us to kill the damn thing, and we should.”

Lydiri speaks quietly but firmly. “I’m the one who took the contract, Thryke. I’m the one who decides how we fulfill it.”

Thryke stares at Lydiri, then turns and marches away, obviously unhappy.
>>
No. 658689 ID: 26e769
File 143805181445.png - (277.54KB , 800x600 , lotm26.png )
658689

"Don’t mind that too much.” Lydiri pats me on the head again. “Thryke is a particularly judgmental individual, and this isn’t an unfamiliar scene for him. Still, it’s good to consider all viewpoints when handling situations like this. Would you like to contribute your opinion, Gertrude?”

“Uhhh?”

Lydiri gestures over towards the tree and the odd Messenger next to it. “The fellow in the pot is named Kotrei, and he’s a very good friend of mine. The tree he’s talking to is a snapper, a kind of carnivorous plant. Snappers attract large mammals by drugging nearby water supplies - the drug puts the animals into a hallucinogenic, dreamlike state which compels them to wander aimlessly around the countryside. When a drugged animal gets close enough, the snapper bites it to death and eats the remains.”

I gaze at the tree. It has a number of large mouths, each lined with long, horribly sharp teeth. It looks very intimidating.

“Snappers are sentient, sapient creatures. They think, dream, philosophize, and even create intricate, breathtaking art. Their species is very old and very rare nowadays. Normally, the humans who populate this land respect the snappers and keep their distance.” Lydiri sighs. “Unfortunately, a few years ago, a massive rockslide cut off a nearby trade route, so the merchants have been forced to take a detour through the snapper’s territory. Recently, a young girl traveling with the merchants drank from a drugged river, and I’m sure you can guess what happened after that.”

I nod sadly.

“That girl’s father hired us. Contrary to what Thryke claims, our employer, though obviously upset, isn’t explicitly requesting that we kill the snapper. He’s just asking that we prevent any similar incidents from happening in the future.” Lydiri looks down at me. “So, Gertrude, how would you resolve this situation? Consider it your first test as a Messenger.”
>>
No. 658693 ID: d90668

Well you could clear the road. Or move the plant away from the new path. Or just put up signs everywhere warning travelers to avoid water sources near its glen.
>>
No. 658695 ID: 9ddf68

well easiest way would be to to either find a alternate route that leaves you clear of the snappers but I'm sure the traders would have done that already if there was a way. Guess if you could actually talk one of the snappers down you could probably try and get it to not eat any humans that come through it's territory even if they got drugged and in exchange have those you travel through it's land offer it some kind of toll for safe passage. Like some salted meat or something.
>>
No. 658699 ID: e114bc

I think the only truly reliable solution is to convince the snapper to specifically avoid eating humans, but any time a drugged human shows up the snapper gets some food as payment for letting the human go. I imagine the snapper would have to restrain the human until others come to pick them up.

Putting up warning signs to avoid drinking the water could help avoid that situation. Any caravan entering the territory should also have a waterskin for every person present, and to instruct them only to drink from the skin until they exit the territory.

...how do we even communicate this? Oh well, it'll make for good practice. See if you can make your other parts wander over to join this one. Don't forget your clothes.
>>
No. 658700 ID: 1cebc8

Perhaps a lack of communication caused the snapper to believe that it was doing the right thing, killing someone who intruded.

Remember, their civilization is different from the merchant's. What if the snappers were dissuaded from their attempts to terraform the landslide, and assumed there was a war? Or that the girl's reaction to the water was to spam magic attacks all around their village? Or some other logic that demands the slaughter of intruders.

Negotiate. The official reason the merchant invaded the snapper's territory is because their regular trade routes blew up. Get the opinions of the snapper and see if they can form a solution.
>>
No. 658707 ID: ab7529

What did we do with the rest of our body? Is it just standing near the looms? Maybe we should have it practicing walking, or moving around. Trying different poses. (Just don't walk into Seth's stuff, that would be rude).

>>658693
I'm not sure how we communicate any of this, but...

Can we do anything about rerouting the road? Fix the old route?

Can we do anything about the drugged water? If we diverted the drugs before they reached the river, or changed the river's course? It should be safe for travelers to pass by the snapper if they aren't hallucinating. Make sure all the drugs head away from the road, into the woods, where the wildlife is? (Although that effectively cuts the snapper's feeding area in half. Not sure if that's sustainable for it).

Could we provide equipment stations at each end of the road? Water purification gear, filter masks to wear as you pass through the affected area, and drop off on the other side? (Problem there is eventually stuff breaks or gets lost, or gets used incorrectly and an accident happens).

...could we simply get the snapper to agree not to eat any helpless humans that pass by it? If it's sapient, it has a choice to snap up a drugged creature that walks by it or not. Maybe in exchange for some kind of concession?
>>
No. 658825 ID: 2a7417

We could divert the rivers away from the roads, or divert humans away from the river by means of a suggestion spell that only affects creatures with higher thought processes. A third possibility is neutralizing the drug with a counteragent in the water.
>>
No. 659211 ID: 26e769
File 143821894929.png - (159.11KB , 800x600 , lotm27.png )
659211

>What did we do with the rest of our body? Is it just standing near the looms? Maybe we should have it practicing walking, or moving around. Trying different poses. (Just don't walk into Seth's stuff, that would be rude).

I practice moving around with the rest of my body in the background, but it’s very difficult to focus on multiple bodies at once. I take care not to mess up any of Setheral’s things.

“Olllduh roahduh?”

“The merchants are doing their best to clear the old road, yes, but it’s going to take years, and they still have to make the journey in the meantime. The trade route connects several very isolated communities, some of which rely on the merchants for basics like water, food, and tools.”

“Uhhduherr roahduh?”

“The only other way around this snapper’s territory would add too many weeks to the journey.”

”Kuhleehr tuh wahtuh?”

“If we remove the drug from the water, then the snapper would likely die of starvation.”

”Wuhorn peepuoll?”

“The merchants were warned, and well aware of the danger, but accidents happen.”

”Tuhallkuh tuh tuh ‘nahppehr?”

Lydiri nods. “You’re already thinking like a Messenger. Yes, we’re working on talking to the snapper. But what should we say? How can we convince it to leave humans alone?”

”Tuhrayduh? Awwfehr tuhllll?”

“What kind of toll do you think we should suggest?”

”’ahlteduh meeatuh.”

Lydiri goes quiet for a moment. “…That’s a very good idea, Gertrude. I was considering various offerings, but salted meat wasn’t one that crossed my mind. It would make sure that the snapper wouldn’t have to worry about food, too. Clever.” He pats me on the head. “Thank you for your help.”

”Yuh wuhelkuhm.”

After a little while, Setheral returns, looking slightly more shaky. “Rotsuckers dealt with.”

“Thanks, Seth. You alright? You look a bit queasy.”

“Just indigestion. Rotsuckers don’t go down easy.” She burps and rubs her ‘stomach’. “I think I need to relax for a bit, so I’m going to head back to camp. Would you like to come along, Gertrude, or would you rather stay here with Lydiri?”
>>
No. 659214 ID: ab7529

>it’s very difficult to focus on multiple bodies at once
So we're not gonna realistically multitask, than. A remote octopus is something to switch to, and useful for communication and maybe surveillance.

>How can we convince it to leave humans alone?
Well there's also the pragmatic argument it's not worth provoking another race of sapients if it doesn't have to. The humans here could band together to kill it, if they prepared right, and if they were worked up enough.

And/or the moral argument that it shouldn't consume sapients when non-sapient food is available, but I doubt that approach holds much weight in light of it's past actions.

>Would you like to come along, Gertrude, or would you rather stay here with Lydiri?
The obvious (and cute and silly) answer is that we're still there. We have the body by Seth's stuff, and the remote-octo here. We can just pay attention to whoever is talking to us, and see if anything interesting happens here.

...also, now that she's eaten, we might want to ask how food works for her (and by extension, us). Do all the bugs need to eat?
>>
No. 659221 ID: e114bc

>>659211
One more thing. Since it's sapient and can make things, has it ever considered trading with humans and other races?
>>
No. 659227 ID: 0fc976

Ssstaaay. Left handtopus likes to watch.
>>
No. 659240 ID: 69aa21

Have your main body go with Seth and keep your shoulder octopus here just to keep an eye on things and how these guys work.

Also how the hell is this guy understanding what we're saying?
>>
No. 659241 ID: ab7529

>Also how the hell is this guy understanding what we're saying?
Maybe it comes with the magic mediator deal, being able to understand any language, even poorly delivered.
>>
No. 659404 ID: d4a543

Salted meat might be bad for a plant, same as salted earth.

How long does the hallucinogenic stupor last, and are there any other unpleasant long-term side effects? Could we ask the snapper to secrete in a more controlled way, into containers, and sell the rare goo as an anaesthetic or recreational drug in exchange for livestock, possibly even livestock that would otherwise be unprofitable due to their poor quality by human standards?
>>
No. 659473 ID: f4d940

>>659404
Oh, actually, livestock might be a reasonable trade; a chicken or a goat for safe passage, or something. Of course, the humans probably won't be especially happy having to pay a toll if they're not getting anything more out of it than "I won't eat you". They'd probably get fed up and torch the thing. Guy. Entity.

(Note that you can boil salted meat to remove the salt. Probably works with soaking it in water, too.)
>>
No. 659519 ID: 9ddf68

>>659473
>Of course, the humans probably won't be especially happy having to pay a toll if they're not getting anything more out of it than "I won't eat you".
just bullshit it by saying they'll also keep the route clear of highwaymen and bandits as well as not eating them. Hell we could probably work that in with the snapper if they can actually tell who's who.
>>
No. 659523 ID: d4a543

>>659519
The "monopoly on force" deal tends to be a better gig for governments who can support patrols on horseback. Snapper's big thing is drugs, and I think we should investigate whether controlled doses are marketable.
>>
No. 659588 ID: 26e769
File 143838784917.png - (104.54KB , 800x600 , lotm28.png )
659588

“Ah’ll ‘tay heeuh.”

“Okay, if you’re sure. I’ll meet up with the rest of you back at camp.” Setheral sounds a little apprehensive. “Be careful, though. Too much activity while you’re in pieces will probably tire you out, especially this early after getting your body.”

“It should be alright, I think.” Lydiri tickles one of my tentacles. I squeak out giggles. “I’ll let you know if she starts acting strangely.”

“Right.” Setheral nods, gives me a slight wave, and leaves.

I wave back to her with a tentacle.

I turn my attention back to Lydiri. ”Ahbout tuh ‘nappuh… maheybe naht ’alted meatuh. Mituh hurtuh tuh ‘nappuh.”

“True. I’ll check with tuh ‘nappuh - I mean, the snapper. We wouldn’t want to mess up its diet, after all. Oh, speaking of which!” He points over to Kotrei. The tree-like Messenger is waving his odd flower-arm in Lydiri’s direction. “That’s the signal, so it looks like the snapper’s ready to negotiate. I’m going to need you to be quiet for a while, Gertrude. This part’s going to be tricky.”

“Ohkay.”
>>
No. 659589 ID: 26e769
File 143838790121.png - (110.97KB , 800x600 , lotm29.png )
659589

Lydiri starts discussing things with the other Messengers, and I start to zone out. At about the same time, I feel somebody poking my ‘head’ self. I switch over, which takes more effort than I was expecting.

Setheral stops poking when I start looking around. “Ah, are you in there now? Your pieces are wandering all over the place.”

“Mah bahd.” I apologize. I try to pull myself together, but it’s difficult. Setheral helps out by picking up my various parts and bringing them over to me.

“Don’t worry about it.” It’s hard to gauge her emotion, but I think she sounds amused. “Hey, while I was waiting, it occurred to me that you probably don’t know much about the Messengers. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding us, especially nowadays, especially since Prodigal…” Setheral falters, going quiet for a few seconds. “Anyway! I figured you might have questions. Is there anything you’d like to know about the Messengers, Gertrude?”
>>
No. 659590 ID: 1cebc8

>>659589
WhatisthestateofthemessengersAreweaguildorasectHowdoesthepolymorphworkHowareweweventhinkingDoyouknowwheremagic
comesfromIsitacutallyaformofadvancedtechnologyAreweimmortalordowehaveasetlimitDoweautomaticallydieifwebreakour
oathsetcetcetc

And what's for lunch?

(After blubbering nonsensically for five minutes, let her describe what she thinks is the most vital intel.)
>>
No. 659607 ID: fbc59e

someone named Prodigal is mid-prodigal son journey? What a surprise.
Soo...I guess the whole 'gotta stay together' is a thing for swarm-types like us. Any other tips I should know about?
>>
No. 659609 ID: 9ddf68

what exactly do we do around here and who are all the people I'm going to be working with?
>>
No. 659611 ID: ab7529

>I try to pull myself together, but it’s difficult
Would it be easier to focus on this half of yourself if you let your loose hand nap?

>Is there anything you’d like to know about the Messengers, Gertrude?
Why do we super-transformation magic just for a symbolic start over? Especially when we just mediate? And, uh, aren't there a lot of ways that kind of thing could be used to help people?
>>
No. 659615 ID: 0fc976

Tell us about the origins of the Messengers, the level of their authority within the kingdom(s), and uh, what was that about a Prodigal?
>>
No. 662753 ID: 3bc92d
File 143968156317.png - (111.51KB , 800x600 , lotm30.png )
662753

I gesture at my body. “Howh do weh tuhranform?”

“Well, it’s not magic, if that’s what you’re thinking. Not really. The initiation and transformation is a gift left over by our founder. We don’t really know who he or she was, at least not with one-hundred-percent certainty, but we have lots of stories. Most people who know about the Messengers are aware that our founder was one of the inventors of writing and complex language, but it’s not common knowledge that the first Messenger was the creator of Speaking, as well.”

“Huh?”

“Speaking… is complicated. Most of us don’t really get how it works, either. Basically, Speaking lets us talk to, well, anything. Some Messengers are better at speaking with specific objects or creatures, but we can all do it, with a little work. The first Messenger made a deal with Word to let every new Messenger have a free bit of Speech at the beginning, to choose our new identities.”

“Howh? Why? What?” I’m still confused.

“You spoke to your body and asked it to be something else. If you were just asking normally, nothing would happen. But you were Speaking, even if you didn’t know it at the time, so your body was able to listen, it understood what you wanted, and it obliged.”

I look down at myself. “Mah bodeeh cahn t’ink?!”

Setheral laughs. “No, no, it can’t think. It has a will, but not free will, if that makes any sense. It has the will to breathe, to heal, to circulate blood, to function in certain ways. Everything has a will. The wind has the will to move in gusts and breezes, to be breathed in and breathed out. Grass has the will to grow, tides have the will to roll in and roll out - everything has the will to be what it is. But none of them can make decisions or think. Only the Forces can do that.”

“Tuh what?”

“The Forces. Time, Space, Sound, Light, Life, Word - the ancient Forces of the universe. They can think. When you Speak to most things, those things don’t answer. When you Speak to the Forces, though, they Speak back. For most things, when you Speak to them, they’ll do what you ask them to do without any hesitation or denial. The Forces, though, will usually demand a price for their services…” Setheral trails off, then shakes her head. “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this stuff. We’ve all been trying to be more careful regarding who knows how to Speak. We’ve been trying to avoid another Prodigal.”

“Who ih Puhrahdeegahl?”

Setheral is quiet for a long moment. “I probably shouldn’t say. It’s kind of an unspoken rule. We don’t talk about Prodigal, ever. Not unless we’re talking about how we’re going to kill him.”

I stare at her. She’s quite still, and very tense. “Uh…”

Noticing my expression, she relaxes. “Sorry. Prodigal is still a touchy subject for a lot of us. You’re new, so I suppose somone should tell you about him.” She sighs, and the tired sound has a lot more buzz to it. It must take a lot of effort to keep her voice discernible as human. “This is just a cautionary tale, understand? Don’t try to do what Prodigal did. We know the signs, now, and we’d stop you straightaway.”
>>
No. 662754 ID: 3bc92d
File 143968167297.png - (278.11KB , 800x600 , lotm31.png )
662754

I nod, surprised at her firmness.

“Alright, then.” She gestures with a hand, and bugs leak out of her fingertips. The bugs form into a small, rough figure. It looks like a writhing mass with a vaguely humanoid shape. “It’s not the best depiction, sorry. Prodigal looked like a man made out of wires, with an attractive human head. We’re not really supposed to talk about who Messengers were before they were Messengers, but we think he used to belong to one of the noble families in Tycandora, a decently-sized kingdom far to the west of here.”

I suddenly feel sleepy. Not out of boredom, but in the same way that legs fall asleep. The sleepiness seems centered on the part of myself that I’d left with Lydiri. I try unsuccessfully to move that part of myself while I listen to Setheral talk.

“Young noblewomen in that part of the world are often married off for political reasons, and are, more or less, considered property. Lydiri was the one who recruited him, so I’m only guessing, but the youngest princess of Tycandora vanished at about the same time that Prodigal joined us. I’ve always assumed that they were one and the same. It would go a long way towards explaining why he did what he did.”

Setheral pauses for a moment, collecting herself. “While he was with us, I’d love to say that he was cruel, that he was a monster, but he wasn’t. He was kind, open-minded, good-humored, and very helpful. He fulfilled dozens of contracts without issue, resolving situations peacefully. He was a Speaking genius, the kind that we hadn’t seen in centuries. Most of the Messengers considered him a friend, which made his later betrayal that much worse.”

Her voice goes hushed, and I strain myself trying to listen through the buzz. “We were completing the circle, our old route around the continent, and we were going through Tycandora. Everything went well, we finished our jobs, and we kept moving. A few nights later, after we’d left Tycandora, Prodigal vanished. At first we thought he’d gone on one of his ‘retreats’, where he would go off to study the more dangerous parts of Speaking, but then we started to find refugees, and we saw smoke rising in the distance.” Setheral goes quiet.

After a long wait, I pat her leg with a tentacle. “…what happeneduh?”

“Prodigal had killed the entire ruling class of Tycandora in one night. Using Speech and his own metallic body, he killed somewhere in the range of eighty-thousand to a hundred-thousand people. Then he claimed dominion over what was left. You might have heard of him. They call him the Wicker Prince nowadays, or Cord, or other names in that same vein. He’s a monster, a tyrant. When people learned that he had been one of the Messengers, then we were viewed in the same way. For generations, we’d only been thought of as diplomats and arbiters, but all of that veneration and respect vanished overnight. Since then, things have been very hard for us.”

Setheral sounds exhausted. “Sorry. It’s not exactly a happy story. Probably not the funnest thing to hear on your first day, either. Do you have any other questions, Gertrude? Concerns?”
>>
No. 662759 ID: e114bc

>>662754
She's made of bugs, how does she replace them when they die? Can she just grab bugs from the world? It'd be useful to know, because one of the octo-parts might have an accident and we need to know how to replace them.
>>
No. 662761 ID: 9ddf68

>Do you have any other questions, Gertrude? Concerns?”

Part of me just fell asleep and I can't see through my other self that I left with Lydiri, should I be worried?
>>
No. 662769 ID: ab7529

>sleeping hand
Normally when a part of your body falls asleep, it's because you cut off the nerves, or circulation. Not something you want to let be. Not sure what the cause is here, but maybe that's a warning you should retrieve it sometime soon.

>Speech
So... is that how I can have a body made of more than one body? On a fundamental level, they're all talking to each other? Am "I" only in one of them and telling the others what do to, or...?

>killing Prodigal
Wait, if he's made of wire, isn't he sort of not alive already? No blood, no breath, no food. The two of you are still made of meat but... he's basically immortal till you melt him down. Unless he's got a battery that can run down.

Heck, the two of you are functionally immortal too, so long as you can replace parts as they age and die off. Populations are longer lived than individuals. (Even if they too can perish). Presumably Seth can, since the average bug doesn't live very long and she's been around for a bit.

>Do you have any other questions, Gertrude? Concerns?
How does this collective body stuff work? Do all the parts have to eat, or can they share energy the same way you share your mind? (And ask after the shared mind and lifespan / body renewal stuff).

Laugh. Sorry. Immediate concern stuff is distracting me from the big picture, I guess.
>>
No. 662793 ID: 82c018

>Wait, if he's made of wire, isn't he sort of not alive already?
Well he has a human head, right? He probably needs that to live.
>>
No. 666000 ID: 3bc92d
File 144104521828.png - (227.91KB , 800x600 , lotm32.png )
666000

...Huh?

I wake up.

That's funny. I don't remember falling asleep.
>>
No. 666001 ID: 1cebc8

Roll out of bed and scatter across the room.
>>
No. 666005 ID: 88960e

Hey! We had questions that needed answers.

Get up, read the note on the desk.

Why do some of the things in the room look like they're resonating?

>don't remember falling asleep
Um. I don't remember having a room. Didn't the messangers have a campsite kind of thing set up?
>>
No. 666007 ID: 91700a

Do you have your hand back or is it still missing? I assumed you passed out because of that.
>>
No. 666015 ID: f427de

Quick, make sure all of you is here and then read the note on the desk.
>>
No. 666016 ID: e114bc

>>666000
I'm guessing it was because you spent too long with one of your parts separated from the main body. First the separated part falls asleep, then the main body?

Read note.
>>
No. 666028 ID: 2a7417

That... bauble? is glowing, pick it up.
>>
No. 666143 ID: 3bc92d
File 144107679546.png - (173.33KB , 800x600 , lotm33.png )
666143

All of my body’s parts are together under the covers.

I groggily heave myself out of bed, pick up the note, and begin to read.

Gertrude,

You passed out in the middle of asking questions. It’s my fault, really. I should have been more insistent that you not split yourself up so early after getting your new body. Amiara offered the use of her bed, so you should find yourself in her room when you wake up.

I hope you slept well. Here are the answers to your questions, since I figured you might still be curious: the bugs that make up my body are constantly reproducing, so when parts of me die, new parts are born. The same should apply to you. If the process makes you feel uncomfortable, try to understand that almost all other bodies work in the same way. Ours just have bigger pieces.

How our bodies stay connected is tied to Word, so your idea that our bodies stay connected via the use of Speech is a very good guess. The different parts of your body are sentient, but that sentience is shared, and the form it ultimately takes is your consciousness. The different parts of your body do all have to eat separately, though. It’s a pain - believe me - but you get used to it. Speak to Tiraman about any dietary concerns, if you’re confused.

Immortality does not exist. Sure, the two of us could potentially live forever, and we’re not the only ones, but we all have an expiration date. We might not know when or how we’ll die, but we will, someday, somehow. It just takes us longer to get there.

I hope you feel better when you wake up. Try to stick together, if you can.

— Setheral

P.S.: I’m really, really sorry that I endangered you and caused you to pass out due to my inaction. As an apology, I’ve left a small lightmaker next to this note, as a gift. It’s nothing fancy, but I do hope you’ll get some use out of it.
>>
No. 666144 ID: 3bc92d
File 144107685588.png - (92.06KB , 800x600 , lotm34.png )
666144

I pick up the strange glowing half-orb on the desk. It glows a vibrant white, but it doesn’t hurt my eyes. The half-orb’s light seems to dim or brighten itself depending on which direction I twist its outer ring. Neat!
>>
No. 666148 ID: e114bc

>>666143
>constantly reproducing
>octopus sex
WELL. I guess masturbating has another purpose now.

>>666144
Cool. Wash up, find some clothes again (there's a wardrobe right there), go out and see what's going on now.
>>
No. 666157 ID: 0fc976

Flick the orb light on and off really fast. Strobe light partyyyy!

I wonder if this room is in a pocket dimension or something. I sure hope Amiara checks her pockets before putting us through the wash!
>>
No. 666158 ID: 9ddf68

huh, whelp that happened. I guess get dressed and maybe see about finding some food, and what we should be doing around here.
>>
No. 666167 ID: 57dfcc

>Amiara
She goes on the thank-you list. And Seth too. Not her fault, we're sorry we didn't heed her warning, and put her in that position.

>reproducing octopi to replace parts
Well, know you know how you get a chest. You just need to have two boob-babies.

Also, I sure hope tentacle sex is your thing, cause you're in for a lot of it.

(And I guess we're technically hermaphroditic? Some of our constituent octopus population must be male if they're gonna reproduce).

>they all have to eat
Hmmm. Might be easier if we just went to pieces for that, though we can't really do that in public. Relay system, with the hands and head octopus passing food along inside the clothes to the others?

>dietary concerns
Prooobaby should look up what a healthy octopus diet is. Mostly shellfish, I think.

>lightmaker
What about the mobile in the ceiling, and the thing next to the mirror? Are they just fancy light fixtures?

I wonder if it has to charge, or if the lifespan is just arbitrarily long.
>>
No. 666223 ID: 91700a

The painting on the wall is the only colour in this room! You should go check it out.
>>
No. 666255 ID: 2a7417

>>666223
Nay, the only color in the entire universe! Guard it well.
>>
No. 666265 ID: 3bc92d
File 144112380531.png - (119.54KB , 800x600 , lotm35.png )
666265

The painting is some sort of abstract piece of artwork. It’s made up of interlocking squares of various texture and color, all intermingling and overlapping. It’s pretty.

The light fixtures around the room seem to be the same kind of object as the lightmaker. I’m not exactly sure what those objects are, though.

After I give my new body its first bath, I open the wardrobe and search for some clothes. I find a stylish dress, and, after some quick bodily reconfiguration to fit it, I slide myself into the garment.

“Looking good.”

I jump, surprised, and turn to the source of the voice.

The girl laughs. “Didn’t mean to startle you, new girl. You can keep that dress, if you’d like. It was never really my style anyway.” She walks up to me, grinning. “I’m Amiara, the old ‘new girl’. Seth failed to mention your name, so I guess I might as well ask. Assuming you have a name in the first place, I suppose. You wouldn’t be the first Messenger to ditch that convention.”

“Ah’m Guhrtuhrood.” I meekly mumble.

“Oh wow.” Amiara giggles. “Rakazni was right: you’re adorable!” She leans in with a wry smile. “Hey, level with me. You were a boy before, weren’t you? All of the cutest Messenger girls used to be boys.”
>>
No. 666268 ID: 2a7417

Nope! We were a girl kid, now we're a squid. Er, squids. Er, octopuses. Whatever.
>>
No. 666269 ID: 1cebc8

>>666265
(In case there isn't a set canon for Gootrude's sexuality)
"It's complicated. Some asshole mage turned me into a boy when I was five or six. My parents absolutely LOVED him for that. Never found out how it worked until I learned about speaking yesterday.

I wanted to make who I was clear, since the past doesn't matter anymore. Plus, sexuality is a serious factor in non-sapient beings, so I factored in the effect of estrogen in my units.

Besides, some of them might be male. Want to find out?"
>>
No. 666270 ID: 88960e

>first bath
There's something worth going to pieces over. Tub full of octopi swimming around. Whee!

>You were a boy before, weren’t you?
(Octopus :O face). I thought talking about who we used to be was verboten?

Personally, I don't mind telling her the truth (either way) if she's interested, but I feel like we should at least try to follow the rules.

Be sure to thank her for the dress, and the use of her room. (Although I thought we were on the road? Is this more speech-magic?).
>>
No. 666271 ID: 3663d3

plead the 5th
>>
No. 666273 ID: 9297f4

Give a multi tentacle shrug.
>>
No. 666280 ID: e114bc

>“Do you swear to forget the past, to remake yourself and your body amongst the ranks of the Messengers?”
Who I was before is not to be remembered.
>>
No. 666309 ID: 9ddf68

>Hey, level with me. You were a boy before, weren’t you? All of the cutest Messenger girls used to be boys.”
No, what does that mean you where a boy... not that I'm saying you're cute I MEAN, UH, UH, SO THIS IS YOU'RE ROOM HUH!? T-Thanks for giving me your bed while I pasted out. heheheh.
>>
No. 666343 ID: 3bc92d
File 144114813010.png - (169.96KB , 800x600 , lotm36.png )
666343

“Wait, duh dat mean you were a boy?” I look away, embarrassed. “Uh, I mean-“

“Oooh, are you calling me cute? How forward!” Amiara laughs playfully. “Fair question, I suppose. Yeah, I was physically male before I joined up. I was also a nine-meter-long swamp creature with twenty-two limbs and a name I can’t pronounce with one mouth.” She runs her fingers through her hair, smiling. “Things change.”

“Weruhn’t weh not ‘uppo’ed to talk about who we wuh befoah?”

“They’ve already got you believing in that messed-up philosophy of theirs, huh?” Amiara sighs. “I know a lot of Messengers are all-too-ready to forget the past, but I honestly think that the idea of losing your identity and remaining constantly impartial is kind of a fallacy. We are our past. Our previous experiences determine how we approach situations, how we solve problems, and how we feel about those we encounter.”

“But weh have tuh be neutral, right?”

“We can try to be neutral, but that’s really about as much as we can do.” She clicks her tongue. “My ideas aren’t shared by many other Messengers. Most of them push towards some perfect ideal of ‘true impartiality’. It’s all very, very stupid.” Amiara shrugs. “I’m probably biased, though. My old society tended towards honesty in everything, and the way the Messengers treat the past seems very deceitful to me. Then again, that bias kind of proves my point: perfect neutrality is a crock.”

I decide to change the subject. “Tank you for tuh room and tuh..." Still unable to pronounce the letter 's', I point to the dress instead. Amiara nods her understanding. "Where are we?”

“You’re very welcome.” She grins. “We’re on the third floor of one of the wagons. We’ve been on the road for an hour or two.”
>>
No. 666348 ID: e114bc

>>666343
Hmm. I suppose the most important thing is detachment. You can remember your past, and it will makes you who you are, but you can still prevent it from guiding your future.
>>
No. 666350 ID: 0fc976

Find a window and look outside.
>>
No. 666358 ID: fbc59e

Hrrrm...
You might be right when it comes to perfect impartiality not being attainable...However...
You've heard of Prodigal, now called the Wicker Prince, right? What's your thoughts on that?
>>
No. 666365 ID: 57dfcc

>>666343
Largely, she's right that no one can be truly impartial. We're shaped by our past.

That said, we're brand new, and it would be nice not to upset most the others by flouting their customs.

Although they probably come closer to neutrality in their collaboration. With diverse backgrounds and perspectives, they can try to approximate true neutrality.

(Although if we successfully changed the subject, let's not bring this up again).

>3rd floor wagon house
Huh. Those are some big wagons. Doesn't that make travel difficult? ...is there a window?

Where are we headed?

Um, how did we leaves things with the drugged water plant person?

>>666358
Maybe we shouldn't bring up the total mood killer traitor genocider?
>>
No. 666369 ID: ea75c9

Just how big we're those wagons? I never really got a good look at one?

Oh and is there anything we're should be doing now that we're up? And when's dinner? Kinda wondering how eating is going to be now what with the fact we need to feed all our bodies.
>>
No. 666611 ID: 3bc92d
File 144122105110.png - (192.85KB , 800x600 , lotm37.png )
666611

“What? How big are tuh wagons?” I look around for a window, but I can’t find one.

“Oh, fairly small. To look at them, they’re about three meters tall, but they’re as big as mansions on the inside.”

I blink several of my eyes. “Huh?”

“Parting gift from some ancient Messengers who made a deal with Space, according to Thryke. Please don’t ask me how it works, because I have absolutely no idea.”

“Whoa.”

“Yeah. Speaking is crazy, right? I’m kind of interested in learning how to do stuff like that, but, at the same time, I don’t really want to trade away my years.” Amiara wrinkles her nose. “Humans have such a short lifespan anyway. I mean, my body is young and tough and all, plus the variety and intensity of sensations is amazing, but I kind of wish I’d gone your route - I could have had multiple human bodies.” She pauses for a moment, then laughs. “I think I’d spend all day having sex with myself, though, so this is probably for the best.”

“Uh…” I notice parts of my skin turning a blotchy orange-red. Am I blushing? “I’m hungry.”

“For sex?” She winks.

“N-no, for food. I tink I need tuh, uh, feed my hand.”

“Oh, okay. Let’s see if we can find Tiraman. If I remember right, he should be down in the kitchen, getting dinner ready.” Amiara curls an arm around my ‘shoulders’ and pulls me out into a long hallway. Then she leans in and whispers. “I was flirting, by the way. Biped mating rituals are still a little tricky for me, so I’m not sure if it came across right, but I find you very attractive. I hope you aren’t offended.”
>>
No. 666617 ID: 9ddf68

>I was flirting, by the way. Biped mating rituals are still a little tricky for me, so I’m not sure if it came across right,
I...bu...what

> but I find you very attractive.
Uhhhhhhhhhh

>I hope you aren’t offended.
no just... surprised. Also why and how? As in how am I attractive. The cute one I could understand but that. That wasn't something I expected to hear.
>>
No. 666618 ID: 2a7417

Well, I'm not offended, but I'm not interested either. I have handtopuses to mash beaks with when I/we get 'lonely'.
>>
No. 666626 ID: 88960e

>space warped wagons
I hope we never have to find out what happens if someone damages one of these.

>“I was flirting, by the way. Biped mating rituals are still a little tricky for me, so I’m not sure if it came across right, but I find you very attractive. I hope you aren’t offended.”
Giggle. It came across pretty clearly that you were, yes. You're not offended.

...although you're still kind of overwhelmed just having this body.
>>
No. 666649 ID: ad936f

>I find you very attractive. I hope you aren’t offended.

Not offended but... She is aware that we're a collection of octopi?
>>
No. 666676 ID: e114bc

>>666611
I don't know how sex would even work.
>>
No. 666680 ID: 57dfcc

Even though I'm lacking in octo-boobs?
>>
No. 666699 ID: 2eeb65

>>666649
>>666676
That's a challenge for the fanart thread on /questdis/.
>>
No. 666755 ID: 09a39e

Are we sure any of our octopi are actually male? We did specifically ask to be female.
>>
No. 666900 ID: ad936f

>>666755
Wait how do octopus genders even work?
>>
No. 667025 ID: 2b3cd1

>>666900
Well, theres definitely a difference between the two. You know those orifices on the sides of an octopus? Thats where a females eggs are located. And males have a specialized arm that deposits sperm into that orifice. Its surprisingly intimate, considering how antisocial Octopi are. Squids on the other hand are quite social, but mating is boiled down to "hey Ill just leave this sperm cloud here. You can use it if you want, bye".
>>
No. 667026 ID: 2b3cd1

>>666900
>>667025
I realize this doesnt really answer the question so let me clarify.
The third arm is the special arm, which has a different tip due to its purpose. Thats pretty much the only concrete way to tell the genders apart without doing science that might not be available. Gender Dimorphism doesnt really apply to a chamoflaging pile of muscle and suckers that can force itself through a quarter sized hole on occasion.
>>
No. 667036 ID: 2b3cd1

>>667026
Actually, Im lying. There is some Gender Dimorphism but it depends on the species of octopus. Stuff like bigger females (which totally helps as we are a pile of different sized octopi with no frame of reference) or a longer tentacle dick. We seem to be pretty mediocre Octopi though so none of that may apply to us. There, now I feel at peace.
>>
No. 667053 ID: 3bc92d
File 144132534851.png - (139.83KB , 800x600 , lotm38.png )
667053

“Well, I’m definitely not offended.” I squeak out a small giggle. “But my body ih ‘till kind of weird. I don’t even know how ‘ex would work like thih.”

“Whoa, is that the next step? I thought it took longer to get to that point.” Amiara shrugs. “I haven’t had sex using this body yet, either. I imagine it’s going to be really hilarious when it comes to figuring things out. I mean, I do know where the holes are. and stuff, but I’m not sure how it all goes together.”

“How can you be attracted to me, anyway? Cute, I tink I can follow, but attractive? I’m a bunch of octopuheh. Thih body ih kind of confuhing even to me.” I glance sadly down at my chest. “I don’t even have any octo-boob.”

“Oh, you are just too cute!” Amiara laughs again. “Really, I don’t know why I’m attracted to you. Maybe it’s just a quirk of this body’s hormones, or maybe you remind me of my old species… I don’t know what it is. What I do know is that I feel a lot of affection and sexual attraction towards you. You seem like a nice person, too.” Her expression suddenly gets very nervous. “Do you want to be friends with me, Gertrude?”

“Huh? Um… okay.”

“Thank you.” Amiara smiles, looking relieved. “I don’t have a lot of friends. Before, when I was a big lonely swamp monster, other members of my species and I only met up when we wanted to mate, or to warn each other about danger, or to ask for help with specific problems. Even now, having been human for a few years, I don’t really know how to interact with people. So, uh, yeah.” She coughs, sounding embarrassed. “...Anyway! Follow me. The kitchens are just up ahead.”
>>
No. 667054 ID: 3bc92d
File 144132553896.png - (152.13KB , 800x600 , lotm39.png )
667054

As we’re approaching the kitchen door, we both jump as we hear yelling.

“No, Ziddicos!” The voice sounds like a middle-aged man yelling from underwater. “The answer is still no, and it will continue to be no until you cut down!”

”The Mischief will not accept this!” Another, smaller voice squeaks angrily. ”Our current rations are insufficient! We require more!”

“You wouldn’t need more if you’d just stop having so many babies! I already warned you that it would come to this, but, of course, you didn’t listen to me.”

“You dislike us. You are withholding our food as part of a vendetta!”

“Vendetta? What? No, Ziddy. I’m withholding my food from you, and it’s for your own good. Nothing’s stopping you from getting your own meals on your own time, but, somehow, I can’t see you doing that.”

“We are rulers, not hunters! The Mischief demands that you relinquish our rations!”

Amiara cautiously opens the door. Looking inside, I see a man-shaped blob of pale blue liquid, dressed in clothing and an apron. The blob is arguing with a small mouse on a cutting-table.

“Okay, Ziddy, enough is enough.” The blob sighs. “I’ve got other visitors, and I don’t see this conversation heading in any productive direction.” The blob reaches to pick up the mouse, but the mouse jumps and bites at the approaching hand. “Ow!” The blob grabs again, more aggressively. This time, the blob is successful. The mouse dangles, scrambling around angrily.

“Give us the food, or we will bite you with all our mouths! We’ll urinate in you as you sleep! We’ll-!”

The very irritated blob interrupts the mouse. “Oh, go fuck yourself, Ziddy! And I do not mean that literally, because there’s already far too much of you as it is. Don’t you dare come back until you’ve cut your body count down!” With that, the blob leans out the door and throws the angry mouse far, far down the hall.
>>
No. 667056 ID: 3bc92d
File 144132565807.png - (88.33KB , 800x600 , lotm40.png )
667056

The blob gently pulls us into the kitchen, then closes the door behind us. “Sorry about that. I’m Tiraman. What can I do for you two?”
>>
No. 667059 ID: 0fc976

Lotta messengers don't heed that warning about food consumption restraints, huh? Anyway, I'm hungry for calamari!
>>
No. 667061 ID: e114bc

>>667056
Fooooood. Also ask how he's talking, maybe we can figure out how to talk better from his example.
Also how does he see?
>>
No. 667065 ID: f61b8d

Soooo...what exactly are these rules on how much food we should eat?
>>
No. 667066 ID: 57dfcc

I thought messengers were supposed to be good at conflict resolution?

Also, looks like we picked the saner and calmer of our two fellow animal-collectives to go to for advice first.

>What can I do for you two?
Ask if you can have some food. You promise it's not to make a million octo-babies with.

...you're not entirely sure what a balanced meal is supposed to look like, anymore.
>>
No. 667070 ID: 09a39e

>>667059
Fun fact: Octopi commit canabalism quite often, to the point where during mating the female wil tend to strangle the male and eat him later. So calamari sounds good.
>>
No. 668381 ID: 6a656d

If this quest ends up in the graveyard I will be extremely displeased.
>>
No. 668506 ID: 3bc92d
File 144176951413.png - (75.83KB , 800x600 , lotm41.png )
668506

“C-can I have ‘hum food?” I mumble, anxious. “I promih I won’t make a million octo-babieh.”

Tiraman laughs. It sounds sort of like a sped-up version of big rocks banging together underwater. “Oh, don’t worry about that. Ziddicos is on a diet because he can’t fit all of his bodies into one room anymore, and we can’t afford to keep feeding him. You, on the other hand, look like you’re very far from being at that point. You can have as much food as you’d like. In fact, I encourage it.”

“Oh.” I hesitate. “About ‘iddicoh. Aren’t Mehhengers ‘uppohed to re’olve conflict?”

“Ziddicos is much more diplomatic - and mentally sound - when he’s got less bodies to look after. Try not to judge him too harshly. He’s a damn good Messenger when he hits his stride.” Tiraman pauses. “…unless you were referring to my own actions. I admit I can be fairly harsh when it comes to problem-solving, but Ziddicos has been a pain recently. He’s started stealing food from other people, so we’ve caged most of his bodies and keep him outside when we can. It’s not pleasant, but it is for his own good. We’re in a bad enough place keeping the Messengers together as it is; we don’t need rampant thievery on top of that.”

“Okay.” I nod. “I unnertand. Can I have ‘hum food now?”

“Sure thing. What would you like, and how much?”

“Octopuh food. Calimari, maybe?” I think it over. “I don’t know how muh I’d need. I don’t really know what a balanhed meal would even lookh like anymore.”

“I can handle nutrition and portion sizes for you, if you’d like. It really depends on how much you’re planning to grow, though. Pregnancy generally requires a higher calorie intake. Are you planning to increase your body count in the near future, or should I give you a smaller meal size for now?”
>>
No. 668507 ID: 0fc976

Yes we are. We must acquire octoboobs!
>>
No. 668509 ID: 1cebc8

>>668506
Well why not just add poison to some bait at the end of a few logic puzzles and have him fight and gamble and die for every bite? Not like you're actually murdering him...

>>668507
Also this. You must BREED sensitivity until you create a nonsentient octopus variant whose AI is dedicated to pleasure and food ONLY.

And see if you can get an octopi with uniquely shaped "caps".
>>
No. 668519 ID: 67d5dc

>>668509
Lets shelf such thoughts for at least until we figure out how to breed with ourselves. Are we ready to say 'I'm totally going to go masturbate later' to these people we just met?

I wonder if we can tame wild octopi into our body. it would make us much more stable if we had one big one to serve as a sort of skeleton.
>>
No. 668536 ID: e114bc

>>668506
Two solutions to the overeating issue:
1) stop reproducing jeez (probably won't happen)
2) RAT-SWARM, EAT THYSELF. If you think about it there's really no reason this can't be done. There are painless ways for rats to die, and there's nothing inherently wrong with cannibalism when the bodies aren't sapient on their own.

Also, have a bunch of shrimp. Octopi eat shrimp, right?
>>
No. 668541 ID: 57dfcc

>Are you planning to increase your body count in the near future, or should I give you a smaller meal size for now?
Um. Well, you don't know how near future, but you were kind of hoping you'd get to make some, um, boobs.

Not sure you're going to rush into this making yourself pregnant thing though. That's kind of weird to figure out?

Um, in the meantime you kind of just want to figure out how you eat, at all. You think it might be more complicated than you were used to, right now.
>>
No. 668550 ID: 56f4a8

Well, you are pretty petite and you should probably find out how long it takes to increase octopus in case you get hurt.
>>
No. 668558 ID: a107fd

Big meal, with as much variety as reasonably possible in order to figure out tastes. Amiara volunteered to... help. *suggestive wink*
>>
No. 668606 ID: 9ddf68

>>668506
Go with a normal meal for now, until we figure out just how exactly our body works I say we shouldn't try to grow until we know what we're in for. Cause From what I'm hear about Seth, it sounds like if we grow to numerous we start acting less like a person and more like whatever animal we chose to be our body. Also I have to wonder if the octopods that we have now will continue to grow or if they're full grown now. I ask because I'm kinda hoping we can get to Kraken size one day without having to jam a bunch of octopods together to get that big.
>>
No. 670669 ID: 00f662

>>668558
This. Many mouths, many stomachs to feed. Im not sure about the anatomy of an octopus' stomach, but seeing as there is at least a dozen of us I say we probably need a big hearty meal right now.
>>
No. 673417 ID: 3bc92d
File 144344818246.png - (152.25KB , 800x600 , lotm42.png )
673417

“I wuh conhiderhing having a few babeh octopuheh…” I glance anxiously at my chest. “I tink I’d like a big meal, wih a lot of variety. I’ve got to find out what I actually enjoy eating in my new body.”

“Sure thing.” Tiraman leaps into action. The goop-man’s hands fly through the cupboards and odd-looking iceboxes, grabbing piles of different seafoods and throwing them each into various cooking pans and trays. He then proceeds to cook them all at the same time, multitasking with unbelievable efficiency.

Amiara grins at my amazement. “Incredible, isn’t he? I swear, he must have been some world-famous chef before he joined up.”

“Even if I had been, I wouldn’t care to talk about it!” Tiraman calls out, without turning around.

“You should! There’s nothing wrong with being honest about yourself.”

“It’s not about being honest. It’s just that not everyone is as open about themselves as you are, swampy.”

“You’re more swampy than I am, slime-ball.”

“Hardly. I’m as clean as they come.”

“Aren’t you literally germs?”

“What? No, of course not. I’m a colony of microbial organisms,. Completely different.”

“That difference doesn’t mean much when it comes to your appearance, though, does it?”

“Ha. I’m sure that you’d find me a lot more attractive if you knew exactly how much harmful bacteria I cleaned out of your breakfast this morning.”

They continue bickering this way for a while longer. It doesn’t feel antagonistic, just playful. Eventually, Tiraman finishes cooking the various seafoods, and he then piles them all into a big bowl. He offers it to me with a slight bow.

“Tank you!” I smile, staring down at the delicious-looking meal.

“You’re very welcome, kiddo. Hey, when you have a chance, come tell me which parts of the food you like most, and I’ll try to buy you a larger supply of them once we reach Kakath.”
>>
No. 673420 ID: 3bc92d
File 144344845307.png - (189.85KB , 800x600 , lotm43.png )
673420

I thank Tiraman again, and then Amiara and I head out. She leads me into a comfortable dining hall.

“Huh. Looks like there aren’t many people in here yet. Tiraman and the other cooks must still be preparing food for everybody.”

I glance at her. In retrospect, I’m surprised she didn’t get any food for herself. “Are you hungry?”

“Oh, no, I’m fine for now. I had a snack earlier.” She smiles. “So! Where do you want to sit?"

I shrug.

"Well, let's check out our options." She scans the room. "It looks like Lydiri’s doing his usual society prep. We could go listen to him talk about Kakath’s history and culture or whatever. ” Amiara points. “Ooh, or we could go hang out with Setheral and her friends, they’re really cool! They’re all artisans and creators and stuff. Ah, and there's Thryke... He’s probably preparing to teach today’s Speaking workshop, over in that little side-room there. Thryke’s a friendly-if-snobbish guy, but he’s been a bit grumpy recently, 'cause of this whole snapper thing.”

“Uh…”

“Oh, am I overwhelming you, Gertrude? Sorry. We could just sit by ourselves, too.”
>>
No. 673422 ID: 88960e

>It’s not about being honest. It’s just that not everyone is as open about themselves as you are, swampy.
Interesting. Multiple perspectives on the letting go of the past: pragmatism / honesty, sticking to the ideal, and actually wanting to keep private (makes sense. The messagers would certainly be attractive to people looking for an escape or chance to start over).

>>673420
Oh hey, cool, a starry sky person.

>Oh, am I overwhelming you, Gertrude? Sorry.
Nah, we're good to meet with people.

Lydiri's thing could be interesting, or it would be fun to hang out with Seth. (And as our inductor and multiple body peer, they both sort of play a mentor role, and are people we want to keep up with). Plus we can, uh, check in with / reassure / thank them after passing out on them. (We should at least say hi to whoever we don't sit with).

>Thryke... He’s probably preparing to teach today’s Speaking workshop,
Let's avoid the deep consequence reality alteration magic for the moment. We haven't even got a handle on our body yet. Let's learn to walk before we run. ...And learn how to run without falling to pieces, too.
>>
No. 673435 ID: 2a7417

Ask Thryke about Speaking. Do accents affect the use of Speech at all? I hope not.
>>
No. 673459 ID: e114bc

>>673422
That's not a starry sky. That's teeth glittering in the darkness.
>>
No. 673463 ID: 9ddf68

wait, am I going to have to go to the speech class and history lessons anyways or are those walk in classes? I'm just asking because if we're going to attend them anyways we may as well meet some new people and get a better idea who's who around here.
>>
No. 674268 ID: 3bc92d
File 144376183458.png - (150.36KB , 800x600 , lotm44.png )
674268

“I don’t know, really…” I shrug. “Maybe Tuh-ryke? I could aakh if my voieh will affect ‘peaking at all.” I can’t seem to take my eyes off of the odd-looking shadowy figure.

“Oh, I don’t think it works like that. Kotrei can Speak, and he doesn’t even have a mouth. Relax. Besides, it's only your first day with your new body. I didn't even know how to walk for the first week after I got this body, let alone speak, so you're already miles ahead of me.”

“Whoa. Tat muht have been rough.” I blink a few of my eyes. “Hey, are tuh claheh mandatory?”

“Huh? No, you don’t have to take any workshops or classes or anything if you don’t want to. Still, I think it would be a good idea for you to learn as much as you can, starting out. Life in the Messengers can get very confusing if you're not sure about what job you have, or what country you're in, or what the Forces are, or...”

“Uh-huh…” I keep glancing back at the odd figure, finding myself distracted. “Hey, Amiara. Who ih tat?” I point.

“Huh? Who is who?”

“Tuh dark perhun. Who ih tat?” I point again, more firmly.

“What dark person?” Amiara's searching gaze skips right over the mysterious individual. “Lydiri? I mean, sure, his helmet-head is a little gothic-looking, but I wouldn’t describe him as dark…"

The shadowy figure stands, facing me. Some of what I now recognize as mouths open, letting out a chorus of wildly different voices, each speaking the same words at the same time.

“You can see this. Can you hear this? Can you truly perceive Word?
>>
No. 674269 ID: e114bc

>>674268
What?! This isn't a Messenger?! Or is it one that chose a body so strange nobody else can see it anymore?

Say yes, you can see/hear it. Ask what it's doing here.
>>
No. 674278 ID: 2ccbb3

>>674268
...Prodigal? No. One of his squad.

Demand parley. That is part of who you are. If they want peace, they'll get their chance the same as everyone else. If they want war, you'll bring it with dirt and fear. If they want something else then they should speak here and now and clearly with the fullest intent to voice the interpretation of their intentions as they understand them.

Otherwise, ignore anything else this guy says.
>>
No. 674279 ID: 2ccbb3

After all, he cannot possibly be the aspect of voice itself.
>>
No. 674280 ID: fede3c

You can perceive them enough to know that they are humanoid.
Given that they is bearing the Messenger emblem and including the seam between each half, can their chest open like the emblems too?
>>
No. 674282 ID: 13c4a5

Who are they, what are they, and why are they here? Also do they mind if we sit with them?
>>
No. 674283 ID: 149da0

>Can you hear this? Can you truly perceive Word?
Um, yes, I can hear you. I'm very new to this though, I'm not sure I can speak to what I know of Words. (Um, unless "Word" is their name, here?).

Is that not normal? I don't think she can see you.

>What?! This isn't a Messenger?!
They're wearing the messenger's emblem embossed on their chest, so one would assume they're trying to present themselves as a messenger, at least.

Maybe they're using word-magic to enact some kind of perception filter, so they're hard to notice?
>>
No. 674289 ID: e114bc

>The first Messenger made a deal with Word
THIS IS OUR GOD.

Holy shit. Tell the others that Word is here and you can talk to them!
>>
No. 674290 ID: 149da0

>>674289
...maybe we don't want the others to think we're crazy or the messiah on the first day. Maybe we should downplay it.
>>
No. 674292 ID: 0fc976

Word to your mother, homeslice. Foshizzle.
>>
No. 674340 ID: a107fd

Deep breath, then describe what just happened as meticulously and objectively as possible. "A humanoid made of coagulated shadow, with two bright eyespots on the front of it's head and a messenger emblem on it's chest and toothy mouths all over, was sitting at that table over there when we walked in. Just now it stood up, walked around to stand in front of me, and asked if I could 'truly perceive Word.'" This answers the questions from both of them.
>>
No. 687087 ID: 3bc92d
File 144931190658.png - (119.08KB , 800x600 , lotm45.png )
687087

“What? You ahn’t a Mehhenger?” I blink several of my eyes. “Wait… you can’t be tuh ahpect of voih, can you? Like, you ahn't Word, tuh forh, right? I mean, in’t taht our god?

“Ah, you can comprehend this!” The figure's dozens of voices are all articulated in perfect harmony. “Yes, this is an avatar of Word, of Voice, of the bridge and the barrier, the symbol of symbols, the living history, that which ties and that which divides. Mortal, you have perceived this, this mask, this avatar of an aspect of the universe. This has seen you, and you have seen this.
>>
No. 687088 ID: 3bc92d
File 144931195072.png - (137.47KB , 800x600 , lotm46.png )
687088

“Good job! Here’s your brochure.” The avatar of Word gently pats me on the head and places a small, old-looking piece of paper into my hands. “See you around, little one.”

I blink, and Word vanishes.

…Huh?

“Are you okay, Gertrude?” Amiara sounds concerned. “Who are you talking to?”
>>
No. 687089 ID: 0fc976

Keep quiet for now. Word will get around about your mysterious vision anyways, I'm sure.
>>
No. 687090 ID: 5f1171

Say you're fine now. Look at the note.
>>
No. 687091 ID: a22f87

think I just made a friend, he gave me a brochure. Anyways what does it say?
>>
No. 687111 ID: 2ccbb3

Just read the pamphlet. Advertisement books are notorious for getting into various secure offices, they'll probably think you picked it up somewhere else.
>>
No. 687127 ID: 5ad4a7

>>687088
Read the brochure before saying anything. If it tells you to keep quiet, do so. If not, tell them that you saw Word, and Word saw you.
>>
No. 687130 ID: 86cfc3

If we're gonna tell anyone we saw a god, I don't think it should be in the middle of a cafeteria.

>Are you okay, Gertrude?
Yes, you're fine, you think.

>Who are you talking to?
No one, anymore. They left.
>>
No. 687173 ID: a107fd

Hold up the pamphlet in front of Amiara, wave it around a bit, and say "Before I explain, please describe what you see me holding."
>>
No. 687186 ID: 3bc92d
File 144936599620.png - (166.41KB , 800x600 , lotm47.png )
687186

“I’m fine, now, I tink.” I shrug. “Hey, Amiara, can you dehcribe what I’m holding?”

“Uh… A bowl of seafood?” She blinks.

“No, in my uddher hand.”

“What are you talking about? Your other hand is empty.” She tilts her head. “I don’t get it. Is this a biped thing?”

“Huh. Never mind.” I look down at the paper in my hand. There are only a few neatly-written words, in ink that doesn't seem to have dried yet.

Hello, Gertrude.

I am Word.

I hope that you’re enjoying my gifts to you. I’m sorry about the lisp.


As I watch, the words vanish, only to be replaced with others.

Speak to me when you’re ready, and I’ll Speak to you in turn.

Don't forget to write.


“So, uh, hey, where did you want to sit?” Amiara taps me on the shoulder. “You weren’t really clear about that bit, and you sort of zoned out on me for a little while, there. Like I said, we can hang out and talk shop with Seth, be Word dorks with Thryke, learn about Kakath with Lydiri, or just chill by ourselves. Got any preference, or should I choose?”
>>
No. 687187 ID: 0fc976

Hmm... Word-building or World-building...
Let's go sit with Kakath and learn about Lydiri.
>>
No. 687188 ID: f2461f

Let's go sit with Setheral.
>>
No. 687196 ID: 86cfc3

>Speak to me when you’re ready, and I’ll Speak to you in turn.
I guess we're gonna have to learn to Speak. (Though I really wanted to avoid / put that off as much as possible. Seems very costly / bad idea too get too involved in).

>Don't forget to write.
I would guess that means we can use the magic note for two-way communication is we write on it.

Later, though. Let's avoid looking like a weirdo writing on empty air.

>I’m sorry about the lisp.
(Message for later): It's okay, I don't mind. It's kind of cute.

>Got any preference, or should I choose?
Let's stop by Seth. (She's our multiple-body older sister mentor senpai). You should apologize for passing out on her, and let her see you're all right.
>>
No. 687200 ID: 2ccbb3

How does the avatar of reality warping language have a lisp ?!

Looks like you've been selected as a candidate for the next leader of the Messengers. You'll need a larger vocabulary; talk to each person in the cafeteria and learn to Speak; go to the expert that everyone nearby recommends the most.
>>
No. 687202 ID: 5ad4a7

>>687186
Ask her if, theoretically, you were supposed to talk directly to Word... what would be the best way of doing that?

>>687200
He was talking about Gurtrude's lisp. He's what gave her her new body, after all.
>>
No. 687203 ID: 67d5dc

>>687200
So he doesn't accidentally alter reality when speaking to mortals.

I imagine it gets rather tiresome to have to undo every metaphor you accidentally Speak into existence over the course of a conversation.
>>
No. 687223 ID: a107fd

Hallucination check. Find a fork or a spoon or a clean shell from one of the seafood bits or something, set the pamphlet down on the table, place the test item on it, and then carefully lift by the edges without touching the test item.
>>
No. 687277 ID: 3bc92d
File 144938714813.png - (145.70KB , 800x600 , lotm48.png )
687277

“Leth hiht wit Hetteral.”

“Okay! Sounds good. Seth is the funnest to hang out with, anyway.” Amiara leads me over to the table. “Hey, everybody!”

A few of the assorted messengers greet us with nods and smiles. Setheral turns to me, surprised. “Oh, Gertrude! I didn’t think you’d wake up this early. I’m so sorry about letting you pass out!”

“Ih okay. Ih wuh my bad, really.” I shrug. “Hey, Amiara, can you hold my food for a moment? I’ll be right back.”

“Huh? Oh, sure.” She takes the bowl from me, grinning slightly. “I might steal a crawdad or two, though.”

“Ih fine.” I take some shrimp and move off to the side, where I decide to conduct an experiment. I place the shrimp on the strange piece of paper, and then suspend it with my tentacles. The shrimp stays in the middle of the paper. It looks like it’s not just a hallucination, then. “Hey, Amiara! Look at thih!”

Amiara looks. “Whoa! How are you doing that? That’s awesome!”
>>
No. 687278 ID: 3bc92d
File 144938724998.png - (166.79KB , 800x600 , lotm49.png )
687278

Wha-! Hold on, everybody, I need to speak with Gertrude for a moment!” Setheral leaps up from her chair, blocking the view from the table, and pulls me aside, glancing back nervously. When we’re out of anyone’s earshot, she begins to speak, her buzzing voice sounding very shocked. “Gertrude, where did you get that?”

“What, thih?” I hold up the piece of paper.

“Yes, that!”

“I tink Word gave it tuh me.”

“I was afraid you’d say that.” Setheral sighs.

“Did I do humting wrong?”

“Huh? Oh, I forgot, you haven’t chosen an official tutor yet, you wouldn’t know… No, you haven’t done anything wrong, not really, but…” She pauses. “Most Messengers don’t get their Covenant for weeks. I didn’t get mine for a month. To be given a Covenant on the first day is… well, it’s extremely remarkable and rare. It usually signifies a very strong potential for Speech.”

“But in’t taht good?”

“It would be. It should be.” Setheral hesitates again. “But… the last Messenger to be given a Covenant on their first day was Prodigal.”

“…oh.”

“Yeah. People are already nervous about teaching any new Messengers at all, since him, but if they hear about this? I don’t know what they’ll do. They’ll avoid you, at the very least, and I don’t want you to have to muddle through your first days as a pariah.”

“Tank you for tinking of me.” I smile. “Um, hey… what duh a Covenant do?”

“Well, it’s a direct bond between you and Word. It’s how Speakers make deals with the other Forces, by asking Word to contact them.” Her voice suddenly gets a bit stern. “You only get one, so take very good care of it. Don’t lose it, don’t use it for kindling, and please don’t use it as a platform for shellfish.”

I nod. “My bad.”

“It’s okay.” Her tone softens. “By the way, I recommend you find a full-time tutor as soon as possible. It’ll be next to impossible to find somebody once we get to Kakath, since everyone will be milling around the city. Just ask somebody you trust to be your mentor. Thryke might be a good choice if you want to learn more about Word, since he’s the best Speaker around since Prodigal left. Lydiri is friendly and knowledgable, though that lazyhorns tends to get distracted by the slightest busywork…” She shrugs. “I don’t know. You have to find the teacher who’s right for you. Do you have any ideas?”
>>
No. 687281 ID: 0fc976

Well unless we're going to summon a tutor of our own creation using the Word, let's go with Thryke.
>>
No. 687289 ID: a22f87

what about you? I mean since we're both swarms you'd have the best advice when it comes to questions about my new body, plus you seem to have a good idea about how word works?
>>
No. 687291 ID: f2461f

First choice is Setheral second choice Lydiri.
>>
No. 687297 ID: 86cfc3

>Covenant
Oh, so everyone gets one eventually? Okay, good, I was worried Word appeared to us at all. This is still within normal parameters, even if we're pushing the margins.

(I guess Amiara doesn't have hers yet, hence why she can't see it).

>but if they hear about this? I don’t know what they’ll do. They’ll avoid you, at the very least, and I don’t want you to have to muddle through your first days as a pariah.
Could I, uh, just not tell them yet? I mean, I've got enough things to adjust to and learn already, it's not like I have to start Speaking immediately.

>Just ask somebody you trust to be your mentor.
Setheral, will you be my mentor?

If she asks why her: you see a lot more... mentor-y than the other people I've been talking too!
>>
No. 687319 ID: a107fd

Requisition some sort of container for your covenant. Minimize exposure to the elements and concomitant cumulative deterioration. The box needs to be sturdy, waterproof, convenient in an emergency but unlikely to fall open by accident. Maybe two iron plates, interlocking teeth at the edges, sealed with wax?
>>
No. 693436 ID: 251089
File 145268107926.png - (145.88KB , 800x600 , lotm50.png )
693436

“What about you?”

“Huh?”

“Heheral, will you be my mentor?”

“What?!” Setheral seems surprised. “Me?

“Yeah! You’re tuh moht mentor-y perhun I’ve met!”

“But I’m… I mean, I’m bugs. You know I’m bugs, right? Because I am bugs.”

“Uh-huh, it ih perfect! You’re juh like me! You can teah me how to work my new body, and you know a lot about Word.”

“I - I suppose.” Setheral hesitates. “No one’s ever asked me before. My body usually scares off the newbies.”

“Do you not want to be my mentor?”

“I do! I do. It’s just a shock. Yes, Gertrude, I would love to be your official tutor. Wow. I’m a tutor. Alright!”

“Yay!” I smile. “Oh, tutor, can you get me a container for my Covenant? Tuh heavier, tuh better.”

“Sure! Lydiri should have a couple on hand, he’s one of the better blacksmiths - hey, Lazyhorns!” Setheral waves Lydiri over.

“What is it, Seth? Oh, hello, Gertrude! How are you doing?”

“Good!” I give him a smile and a tentacle-thumbs-up.

“I’ll say.” Setheral’s voice gets slightly more quiet, and her indistinct buzzing increases, making her words a little harder for more distant listeners to make out. “She got her Covenant, Lydiri.”

“What? Really?” Lydiri’s single, large eye looks me over with anxiety. “Did anyone else see?”

“I’m not sure. I pulled her aside as soon as I noticed. She needs a cover, though.”

“I’ve only got one left. Ziddicos stole the rest during one of his tantrums. I’m still trying to find out where he hid them away.” Lydiri pauses, considering something. “I think I can let you use that last one, though.”

“Tank you.”

“Hey, in exchange, can you do a small favor for me?”

“Lydiri…!” Setheral sounds irritated.

“Relax, Seth, it’s nothing major.”

“Oh, I’m sure it isn’t. Lazyhorns.

“Yeah, yeah…” Lydiri turns to look back at me. “Okay, so, Gertrude! Loric - another Messenger - got sick, and we’re understaffed as a result. Do you think you could help me out by being one of our front-door representatives? It’s an important job, involving incredibly -”

“It’s secretary duty, basically.” Setheral interrupts. “You greet people who want to hire Messengers for whatever reasons, you write down customer’s requests, you do your best to answer any questions they might have, and you spend a lot of time sitting around in front of the wagons.”

“Well, yeah… it’s not the most glamorous job.” Lydiri seems a bit dejected. “It is important, though. If you don’t want to do it, that’s fine, but I think it might be a good experience for you. Learning how to smoothly interact with strangers is an integral part of being a Messenger. So, what do you say? Feel up to it?”
>>
No. 693439 ID: edf87a

Sure thing, you'd better practice your handwriting first though. At least ink won't be a problem.
>>
No. 693440 ID: a22f87

>>693436
Well if you think I'd be good for the job I think it would be a good way to start helping out around here.
>>
No. 693457 ID: 3d2d5f

Um. I should check if I'm still able to write things down, first. I haven't tested how well I can tentacle-weild a pen.

But no, I don't mind answering questions for people, so long as my lisp isn't a problem.

Um. Maybe I should get a quick primer on the answers to common questions? And on the things we can and can't help with? Or won't? I don't want to misrepresent us.
>>
No. 694057 ID: 251089
File 145287300415.png - (125.70KB , 800x600 , lotm51.png )
694057

“Yeah, hur ting!”

“What? Are you in pain?”

“No, no… I meant - oh, forget it. No, I don’t mind helping out, it would be a good way for me to begin contributing around here, but won’t my lihhh - my lihp - my talking problem get in tuh way? I don’t even know if I can hold a pen, like I am now.”

“Not to worry!” Lydiri smiles(?) brightly. “Your speech impediment is hardly noticeable at this point. You’re honestly making remarkable progress! I’m sure that you’ll overcome it, given enough time. As for writing, let’s see… ah, I’ve got an idea. Amiara!” Lydiri turns, calling out to her.

“Mmf?” Amiara wolfs down her bite of meatball, then looks over, surprised. “What’s up?”

“Gertrude here has just volunteered to work as a front-door representative!”

“No way!” Amiara grins. “Does that mean that I actually get to have a different job? Finally!

“Um… well, about that…” Lydiri gestures at me. “Gertrude’s still adjusting to her new body, and she could use some help with a few things, like re-learning how to write. I was hoping you could teach her while on the job, and write down the things that she can’t.”

Seriously?” Amiara grumbles. “I’ve been the door-girl about a dozen times, by now.”

“Just once more, I promise.” Lydiri sounds apologetic. “Please?”

“Ugh. Fine.” Irritated, Amiara points at Lydiri with her fork, half of a meatball still dangling precariously from the utensil’s prongs. ”But I’m doing it for Gertrude, not you, got it?”

“Got it.” Lydiri nods.

“Hey, um…” I tap Lydiri on the shoulder. “I could do wih a primer on what to tell people.”

“Ooh, good idea!” Lydiri gets excited. “But I should give you an introduction to Kakath, first. I was already planning to do it - there isn’t really much of an audience for it, yet, but I can probably start a little early. Amiara, Gertrude, come on, I’ve got a whole display, with pictures - oh, Setheral, you should come see, it’ll be really interesting!”
>>
No. 694058 ID: 251089
File 145287309193.png - (151.88KB , 800x600 , lotm52.png )
694058

“Ha. I think I’ll pass.” Setheral waves Lydiri and Amiara away, but she gently puts a hand on my shoulder and pulls me aside. “Gertrude, as your tutor - wow, that’s weird to say - as your tutor, I’m formally ordering you to go back to bed, after Lydiri finishes up with his little show.”

“Why?” I frown. “I don’t feel tired.”

“Your body is less than a day old, dear. No offense, but you probably don’t completely know what ‘tired’ feels like, yet.” Setheral puffs herself up slightly. “Come on, I’m being official, so please listen to me. Finish your meal and head back up to Amiara’s room, okay? Don’t push yourself. You’ve had a big day, already, and you’ve done more in a few hours than most Messengers do in their first week. You’re going to spend the rest of the trip to Kakath resting in bed.”

“What? But-“

“I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer, so don’t even start. You’ve already lost consciousness once, and I refuse to let you strain yourself. I’m your tutor, now, so you’re my responsibility.” She lightly pats my head in a gentle, comforting way. “Trust me. You’ll probably fall right asleep as soon as you lay down. I’ll have an extra bed moved up there, so you don’t have to worry about Ami, and Tiraman will deliver your meals.”

“I…” I hesitantly nod. “Okay.”

“Good. Thank you.” She sounds relieved. “Well, better run along, then, or Lydiri will start without you.”
>>
No. 694061 ID: 251089
File 145287361796.png - (300.49KB , 800x600 , lotm53.png )
694061

This post is mostly for worldbuilding purposes. Feel free to skip it if you’d prefer to continue reading Gertrude’s adventures.

Lydiri’s introduction to Kakath is very comprehensive, if a little longwinded and dramatic in places. He explains that the city of Kakath is a rich city of merchants with a long and storied history. Due to both the spiritual and practical significance of its location, situated on a large hill between two rivers - Raliket and Jiraket, known as the Twin Whispers - many, many wars were fought over the city. It went by dozens of different names through the generations, as various new rulers claimed and lost dominion over it.

A few hundred years ago, the city was captured and renamed for the last time, so far, and the conquerors broke the cycle of conflict by building gigantic walls and turning the city into a gigantic market-fortress. According to Lydiri, the Kakath of today is run almost completely by barter and currency. It seems like absolutely everything is for sale: Kakath’s current governing families are descended from a group of extremely wealthy foreign merchants who purchased the city from its previous rulers.

Having summarized the city’s history, Lydiri moves on to discussing Kakath's society. The thing that most travelers first notice, he explains, is that homosexual relationships appear to be near-universal. (Amiara gets very interested at this point.) Sex for the purpose of reproduction is extremely sacred and ritualized in Kathi culture, to the point where even publicly showing romantic feelings towards someone of the opposite gender is a serious taboo.

People in Kakath are expected to have at least two partners - one reproductive partner of the opposite gender, and any number of romantic partners of the same gender. Having multiple romantic partners is considered a symbol of status and fertility in Kakath, so the richest merchants tend to hire, buy, or court entire personal harems, for appearance if nothing else.

Lydiri goes on to inform us that the species which makes up the majority of Kakath’s population is the indigenous humanoid people - the Kathi. They are lithe and slender, with skin resembling smooth chalk. They have black hair, black eyes, and blue blood. Despite the Kathi making up more than ninety-five percent of the city’s population, the ruling family of the city is almost entirely composed of humans.

The more controversial aspects of the city are based in its free market, which sells slave-servants, harmful narcotics, weaponry, poisons, personal information, and much more. Due to the negative image this presents to other, more reserved merchant communities, Kakath is sometimes called ’The City Where Dreams are Sold’. Despite this harsh moniker, life in the city is generally peaceful. Even the slave-servants are highly respected, mostly because almost everyone is forced to be a slave-servant at one point or another. It’s one of the simplest ways to pay off the debts that inevitably accrue due to the costs of living in the market-city.
>>
No. 694062 ID: 251089
File 145287373143.png - (197.27KB , 800x600 , lotm54.png )
694062

Over the next few days, I spend most of my time as a bored pile of octopuses lying around in bed. Setheral occasionally visits, teaching me more about how to focus on controlling my different body parts in unison, but I still don’t have the hang of it. She also does her best to help me speak more clearly, but, so far, my lisp stubbornly refuses to vanish.

Being roommates with Amiara is generally comfortable, and she’s nice enough to let me have some of her extra clothes. She doesn’t make any advances, but she does occasionally mention that she’s still interested in me. She snores in her sleep, sometimes, but it’s quiet enough that it doesn’t bother me too much, although that’s mostly because, in addition to now being an octopus collective, I’ve apparently also become a very heavy sleeper.

Other than that, Amiara spends most of her time engaged in what she calls her ‘being-a-biped exercises’, where she tastes different kinds of food and drink, sings, stares at paintings and figurines, juggles small objects, runs her fingers over various textured panels, and/or slowly walks around the room. I guess getting used to being a human must be just as tricky for her as adapting to being a bunch of octopuses is for me.
>>
No. 694064 ID: 251089
File 145287384422.png - (176.25KB , 800x600 , lotm55.png )
694064

The time passes quickly enough. Finally, early one morning, as I’m idly stretching my tentacles while still in my pajamas, someone knocks on my door.

“Come in!” I call out.

Setheral enters the room. “We’ve arrived at the city limits, dear.”

“Oh?” I jump to my feet-tentacles and stand, excited. “Where ih a window? I want to look!”

“Hold on.” She puts a hand on my shoulder. “I think we should talk about something, first.”

“Huh? Okay.” I sit down on the edge of my bed.

“I know these past few days have been a blur, and you might not have had time to think about what it really means to be a Messenger.” Setheral sits next to me, her tone slightly sad. “This… it might not be pleasant to hear, but it’s better that I tell you, rather than have you be shocked by it later.”

“What ih it, tutor?” I’ve gotten used to calling her by her title, since I can’t pronounce ’Seth’.

“When our names and bodies were remade, in the eyes of the rest of the world, we stopped being ‘normal’ and became something else.” She sighs, buzzing quietly. “Do you understand what that means?”

I shrug.

“It means that people will be scared of you, Gertrude - of what you are, and what you look like. Children will cry and run away from you in the street. You will be called names, and insulted, and maybe even attacked.” Setheral goes quiet for a little while. “I know this from experience.”

I curl a few comforting hand-tentacles around her shoulder.
>>
No. 694066 ID: 251089
File 145287396197.png - (201.08KB , 800x600 , lotm56.png )
694066

“Ah. Thanks, dear, but I’m fine. Anyway, that’s why I wear this hood and cloak: to hide how I look. Others, like Lydiri, have enough courage to go out into the world and not be afraid of what people think, but it’s not cowardly to want to be safe.” With that, Setheral pulls out a folded pile of fabric. “I made this hooded robe for you, if you want it. It’s spider-silk - my own, of course, I hope that isn’t too gross - and it will keep your face and body hidden from view.”

“Oh, wow.” I take the garment, turning it over in my hands. “Tank you!”

“You’re very welcome.” She sounds a little happier. “It’s yours to keep. You really don’t have to wear it, though, if you don’t want to. I’ll be happy either way, and going without it might actually be the better choice in the long run; it could help you get used to interacting with people in your new form. Still, I wanted to make sure you had the option open to you. When you’ve decided what you’re going to do, Lydiri wants us to meet with him and the others in the wagon’s lobby. I’ll see you there.” Setheral gives me a small hug, stands, and then heads out into the hallway.

After she leaves, I look down at the robe. I was planning to wear one of the prettier dresses that Amiara had recently given me, but now I’m not sure.

Do I want to hide the way I look, or not?
>>
No. 694074 ID: 7f917c

Allow thine noodly appendages to swing freely.
>>
No. 694076 ID: 2ccbb3

One awesome mask and a few gloves ought to do the trick.
>>
No. 694077 ID: 923da3

...Let's...Not hide. this place is accepting of the Messengers, and military power here is limited. Both make this a great 'training grounds' for getting used to the standard-issue humans.
Better to get the teething issues out of the way now rather than wait until say, we're forced to defend ourselves Prodigal style against large, angry armies.
>>
No. 694078 ID: 5ad4a7

>>694066
Octopi are cool and not scary. Plus this is a relatively friendly and peaceful city. Walk free!
>>
No. 694087 ID: 2a7417

Wear the robe. Setheral will like it, and you'll be able to keep your octopi together a little better. Wouldn't want someone trying to steal your hands!
You don't have to keep the hood up at all times, of course. And it's still not going to hide your feet. Embrace the spooky!
>>
No. 694088 ID: f2461f

Go with the cloak, cloaks are cool.
>>
No. 694115 ID: 3d2d5f

Man, making something human sized with spiders is a lot of effort on her part!

>what wear
Compromise. Wear the cloak with the hood down. If it gets bad, you can start wearing it up. And it shows appreciation.
>>
No. 694144 ID: a22f87

well she made it so I think it would be rude not to wear it, just keep the hood down unless it becomes to much of a pain to walk around without it.
>>
No. 694978 ID: 482778

>>694115
Sounds like a pretty good compromise.
>>
No. 694986 ID: edf87a

>>694115
Yeah this sounds nice.
>>
No. 712407 ID: 3bc92d
File 145934606743.png - (265.38KB , 800x600 , lotm57.png )
712407

I decide to compromise. I wear the robe, but I keep the hood down. I’ll put it up if things get bad. Feeling like my outfit is a little plain, I also throw on a small mantle that Amiara gave to me a while back.

Once I finish dressing myself, I head downstairs. I quickly find Lydiri, and wave to get his attention. He seems very busy, directing all sorts of Messengers this way and that. It’s kind of impressive how much he's doing at once, even if it does mean that he's a bit distracted.

“Oh, hello, Gertrude - no, Zarian, don’t walk away, stay with me, I still need to make sure you have Tiraman’s list of groceries, and enough money to buy them - Gertrude, right, yes! So, you’re going to be sitting out front with Amiara and Rioke, okay?”

“Yeah, but, um, you never did give me tuh primer on what to tell people.”

“Rakazni, no, we need you on animal detail, don’t start anything else - Gertrude, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you right now. Ask Amiara or Rioke if you have any questions, they’ve done this before - oh, speaking of! Rioke, this is Gertrude, she’s going to be one of the front-door representatives, so say hello.”

Rioke, a very short, stocky man with one large eye, gives me a curt nod. “Hi.”

“Hello.” I politely mimic his nod.

“Great, you know each other, now, so get moving.” Lydiri waves us off towards the front door. “Amiara’s already setting up outside. She could use your help. Right, Zarian, so - are you taking this down? Listen to me, already. Six flasks of jakkarai nectar, five ice-sealed barrels of various shellfish…”

Rioke and I head to the front door. I feel a brief nausea as I cross the wagon’s threshold, and I stare back at the impossible vehicle. It looks maybe one one-hundredth of the size it should be, based on the scale of what’s inside. I don’t have much time to look at it, though, because Amiara quickly waves Rioke and me out into the street. The place the wagon is parked in appears to be a decently-sized paved cul-de-sac surrounded by tall buildings, with a large stone fire-pit in the center and a well off to the side. I would guess that it’s some sort of camping area for visiting caravans.
>>
No. 712417 ID: 3bc92d
File 145934659771.png - (275.57KB , 800x600 , lotm58.png )
712417

“Good morning, slowpokes!” Amiara laughs. “You just missed the sight of three boys alternatively laughing, kissing, and sharing their dessert. I think I’m in love with this city! Hey, try keep an eye on that balcony up there; they went inside a little while ago, but they might come back out again.”

“Don’t stare.” Rioke grunts. “It’s not polite.”

“Really?” Amiara frowns. “But they were so cute. Besides, isn’t it a compliment to be interested in someone else’s life?”


“Would you enjoy it if a stranger stared at you?”

“Of course! I would be flattered.”

“Well, not everyone appreciates such attention.” Rioke sighs. “Whatever. Come on, let’s get set up.”

We spend the next hour or so setting up signs, chairs, lanterns, tables, paper, and writing supplies. All the while, various Messengers wander through on their ways to various errands. By the time we’re done working, we’ve managed to make the once-desolate area seem warm and welcoming.

“What do we do now?” I ask, idly resting in a chair.

“It’s pretty simple, honestly.” Amiara yawns, sitting down in a chair next to me. “We wait. We’ve got criers out in the streets, so clients will start filtering in soon enough. All we have to do is be here to receive them.”

“Once they arrive, they’ll usually have questions. Amiara and I will handle those, since you’re new.” Rioke stretches, looking tired. “Then they’ll tell us whatever job they want us to do. If it’s simple and short, one of us will go and handle it while the other two stay here. If someone wants to hire the Messengers for a more complex task, we listen to their requests, write down the details, take one-third of our fee as an advance payment, and give them a receipt.”

“I can’t write yet.” I feel a bit useless. “New body.”

“That’s fine. You can start practicing now.” Amiara stands. “Hold on, I’ll try to find you some paper and -“


“Oh, wait, look there.” Rioke interrupts, gesturing at the small archway which serves as the de facto entrance to the area. “We’ve got a quick start today.”


Two young Kathi women are standing there, peeking at us. After a short, whispered conversation, they approach, one gently leading the other by the arm. Once they’re close enough to talk, the shorter girl speaks to us in a clear, loud voice. “You’re the Messengers, right? The super-courier people?” Despite the fact that she’s speaking in a language I don’t know, I can understand her perfectly. How strange.

“We are.” Amiara smiles. “How can we help you?”
>>
No. 712418 ID: 3bc92d
File 145934667515.png - (228.91KB , 800x600 , lotm59.png )
712418

“This is a mistake, Kinis.” The taller girl mumbles anxiously. “We shouldn’t be here.”


“Don’t be silly. You’re the one who brought it up.” The shorter of the two - Kinis, I suppose - squeezes the other woman’s hand in an encouraging way. “Just ask them, Ji. It’s not a big deal.”


“But it’s embarrassing.” Ji nervously swallows air.


“The Messengers are completely confidential.” Rioke points out. “We won’t share any personal details without your permission.”

“See, baby?” Kinis smiles. “It’s fine.”

“I… okay. Okay.” After briefly looking around in a covert way, Ji takes a deep breath, and then starts speaking very quickly. “I want you to deliver a message! I need you to… to tell a man that I want to have his babies!” She blushes blue. “Oh, I said it! Kinis, I actually said it!”

“I knew you could!” Kinis embraces Ji, giving her a kiss. “I’m so proud of you!”

Amiara grins.


Rioke coughs. “We’re going to need a bit more detail, miss.”


“Oh, right…” Ji thinks for a moment. “His name is Okran Tielsha. He lives only a few blocks from here, and I have his address, if you want it. You’ll recognize him, he’s very tall and strong and h-handsome… Sorry!” Ji shivers, as if she’s just said something obscene. “The message is: ‘Ji Yal-Makri humbly requests that you f-father her ch-children.’ End of message. Is that enough, or do you need more?”

“That should be enough, thank you.” Rioke gives the women an affirmative nod, then turns to me. “Gertrude, do you think you could handle this job? It shouldn’t be more than a quick run.”
>>
No. 712420 ID: 1cebc8

Disturbing, but you ARE a Messenger. Take the job.

Just grab a riot shield in case Okran doesn't take it well.
>>
No. 712423 ID: 2a7417

Woomy. I mean yes.
>>
No. 712464 ID: a22f87

yeah, I could handle that. Do you want me to just hand it directly to the guy or would you prefer that I be a little more discreet then that?
>>
No. 712474 ID: 51c5c7

>>712418
Give a playful salute...or as close to one as you can manage!
>>
No. 712508 ID: 02422f

>Gertrude, do you think you could handle this job? It shouldn’t be more than a quick run.
Does Gertrude know how to run yet?

Yes, you would be glad to deliver their message. Dose she know if Okran Tielsha would be found at home at this time of day?

(We don't know what day of the week it is here, or what time of day it is. If these are work hours, for instance, we might have to wait).

When we reach the address, and someone opens the door, say you have a message for Okran Tielsha (and then ask if you're speaking to him / ask to speak to him, as appropriate). You don't want to give the message to the wrong person, as this is pretty personal, and if their reactions are an indication, embarrassing.
>>
No. 712574 ID: f2461f

Seems simple enough and even if the situation gets a little complicated I'm sure we can handle it.
>>
No. 758363 ID: a606da
File 147909523718.png - (180.74KB , 800x600 , lotm60.png )
758363

>know how to run yet?

I can walk quickly. I don’t think I can go much faster than that, though, or else I’ll probably end up falling to pieces again.

“Yeah, I can handle dat.” I nod, turning to address Ji. “I would be glad to deliver your mehhage!”

“Th-thank you.” Ji stutters a bit. I think she’s startled by the way I look. “Is there anything else you need?”

“Do you know if Okran Tielha would be found at home at diheh time of day?”

“Yes, he’ll be there.”

“I can give you directions, if you’d like.” Kinis interjects. “It’s not far.”

“Tank you!” I give her a playful salute with my hand-octopus.

I listen closely to Kinis’s directions. When I’m sure I’ve got them memorized, I give everybody a friendly wave, then head off into the city.

I do my best to follow the directions Kinis gave me. They seem to cut through a lot of side-streets and alleys. I get plenty of strange looks from passersby, and I start to feel a little self-conscious.
>>
No. 758365 ID: a606da
File 147909533759.png - (108.27KB , 800x600 , lotm61.png )
758365

Before too long, I arrive at what I'm pretty sure is Okran's front door. I knock.

After a short while, a Kathi man answers the door. “Hello? How can I - gah!” As soon as he sees me, he recoils, shocked. “What are you?!”
>>
No. 758370 ID: 398fe1

A pile of octopus. Also, a Messenger. You're here to deliver a private message. Should you say it right here, or indoors?
>>
No. 758376 ID: 3abd97

>I get plenty of strange looks from passersby
Well that's what happens when you chose to look like exactly no one ever has before.

>After a short while, a Kathi man answers the door. “Hello? How can I - gah!” As soon as he sees me, he recoils, shocked. “What are you?!”
Be cheerful and upbeat.

"I'm a messenger! Sorry if my appearance startled you."

"I have a message for Okran Tielsha. Are you he?"
>>
No. 758420 ID: 13c96a

"Dude, who even SAYS that anymore? I mean, do you even know the species of your next-door neighbors?

I have a message for a Mister Okran Tielsha. Do I come in or nail this envelope to the door?"
>>
No. 758445 ID: 71d443

Uh, who was that guy in the alley? Did he look interested in you?

Time to deliver the spiel!

This is your singing telegram, I hope it finds you well!
Ji Yal-Makri wants to have your kids because she thinks you're swell!
That's everything she had to say, she wasn't mincing words!
Courtesy of the Messengers, now we've delivered hers!

>>
No. 758478 ID: 594c18

>>758445
Amusing as this is, it's probably best to stick to the original wording.
>>
No. 758557 ID: dd4df2

>>758365

Bright and cheerful might just take the edge off of that surprise.

"I'm different, but in a good way! Name's Gertrude. Pleased to meet you! I am looking for Okran Tielsha. I have something for them."

A message like this, perhaps it's best not to spill it out in the open.
>>
No. 758802 ID: a606da
File 147924846890.png - (160.26KB , 800x600 , lotm62.png )
758802

“A pile of octopuh. I’m different, but in a good way!” I smile brightly, trying to stay upbeat. “I’m a Mehhenger. Very ‘orry dat my appear’n ‘tartled you.”

“A… Messenger?” He blinks. “Oh. Yes, that makes sense. I’m sorry.”

“It ih okay!” I give him a cheery thumbs-up with one of my hand-tentacles. “Are you Okran Tielha?”

“Yes, I am. Why?”

“I have a Mehhage for you! Do you want me to come inhide?”

“Ah…” Okran glances down at the ends of my rubbery leg-tentacles. “I think I’d prefer that you stayed outside. Sorry.”

“It ih okay. I’ll tell you tuh mehhage here!” I nod, take a deep breath, then launch into Ji’s message. I briefly consider singing it, but I decide to stick to the original wording, as this does seem like kind of an important matter.

“…Ji wants to - ? With me?!” Okran blushes blue. He cranes his neck to peer outside, apparently worried that someone might have overheard. “I, er, I… thank you.”

“You’re welcome!”

“Can you give her my reply?”

“If you’d like.”

“Just tell her, um…” He lowers his voice to the point where I can barely hear it. “T-tell her ‘yes’.

“Got it! Dat all?”

“Yeah, thanks. Look, uh, I don’t know what rates you take, but…” Still blushing furiously, Okran reaches into his pocket and dumps a bunch of coins into my hand-octopuses. “Here! Keep the change!” With that, he bows politely, then speedily retreats into his home, closing the door before I can say anything else.

>who was that guy in the alley? Did he look interested in you?

I turn to search for the cloaked figure. It isn’t very hard to find them, seeing as they’re looming inches away from my face. They suddenly lean in and whisper, their voice hoarse and commanding. “You. You are a Messenger?”
>>
No. 758804 ID: 398fe1

>>758801
Shit shit shit that does not look good. Whoever that is, they have a Messenger amulet but it's all fucked up. Like it was snapped in half then tied together.

...though actually that's somewhat reassuring. Something bad happened but they still cling to their association with the Messengers.

Ask if they have a message for you to deliver.
>>
No. 758805 ID: 12d6e6

>>758802
...Depends on who's asking.
>>
No. 758813 ID: ba506f

...what's it look like?
>>
No. 758815 ID: 3abd97

>>758802
You're a pile of octopi and you're wearing the messenger emblem openly. There's no point in denying it or playing coy.

Also we're not equipped to flee or fight if this person is trouble in any way, and we're in the middle of a street in a city, in daylight. There's no reason not to talk.

>“You. You are a Messenger?”
I am. Can I help you?
>>
No. 758818 ID: 8c9b6a

"Yes. Do you need help with something?" Play it off nice and friendly.
>>
No. 758819 ID: 6d3d3d

My money's on a splinter cell messenger; Prodigal or some other mastermind has their own messenger guild that does work like the official Messengers, but for a political side.

And may or may not pose as Messengers while killing people.

As for the scratched amulet, if it's genuine there are two possibilities: the messenger defected from the official group, or he got it... 'somewhere'.
>>
No. 758821 ID: dd4df2

>>758802

Hm. Former Messenger? Maybe they tried to become one, picked a queer form, and then flunked out somehow. Maybe they lost their Compact. They could be here to pick trouble, or they could just be trying to talk to us.

Get back in his face (try to see what form and shape he has). Stretch your tentacles to make yourself larger so you loom a little over him. Smile. He has no idea what you can do, or how little control you have of your new powers, so do not act threatened (just yet).

"Yuhs I am. Intere'ting brooch there."
>>
No. 758833 ID: 6d3d3d

NOPE

Throw your head at her face. Suffocate her unconscious. You're not letting an assassin through the door!
>>
No. 758834 ID: a606da
File 147925332044.png - (161.16KB , 800x600 , lotm63.png )
758834

“Depend on who ih ahking.” I back away slowly, ready to run if I have to. I stretch my tentacles out as much as I can, making myself seem larger, but the figure is somehow still taller than I am.

“Ah… I did not mean to scare you. My apologies.” They shake off their hood. Long, wiry strands of hair tumble out. The person appears to be female, at least based on what I can see of their face. “Please, do forgive my lack of manners. I am a friend.”

“You are?” I point to her brooch. “Intere’ting brooh dere.”

“Hm? Oh, this…” She glances down at her broken amulet, sighing sadly. “It is rather indicative, no? To be honest, I am not a Messenger, per se; I was a Messenger, however, and I would love to be one again.”

“Huh. Can I help you?” I ask, relaxing a little. “Do you want me to deliver a mehhage?”

“No, nothing so complex. I simply require directions.” She smiles. She seems to be extremely exhausted; she’s pale, she sways slightly from side to side, her eyes are surrounded by very dark circles, and her voice is raspy and quiet. “I wish to meet with a Messenger named Lydiri. He is an old friend. Do you know where I might find him?”
>>
No. 758837 ID: 398fe1

>>758834
What is her hair made out of? ...I guess it doesn't matter, you'd have no way of recognizing Prodigal.

Ask for her name, and a meeting place. You'll let him know.
>>
No. 758843 ID: ba506f

I'm sorry but he's in a different group then I am in today so I'm not sure where exactly he is. Would you like me to give him a message... Oh and a name so he knows who it's from?

And if you're worried about a price I think we can call it even if you tell me how you were a former massager? I honestly didn't know one could leave but you do look like you could blend into a crowd a little better then me.

what a minute, why does this sound like something seth told us. Something about some guy named Prodigal...
>Prodigal looked like a man made out of wires, with an attractive human head.

> but the youngest princess of Tycandora vanished at about the same time that Prodigal joined us

>While he was with us, I’d love to say that he was cruel, that he was a monster, but he wasn’t. He was kind, open-minded, good-humored, and very helpful.

>Prodigal had killed the entire ruling class of Tycandora in one night. Using Speech and his own metallic body, he killed somewhere in the range of eighty-thousand to a hundred-thousand people

>they call him the Wicker Prince nowadays, or Cord, or other names in that same vein.

...for the love of god keep that polite and cheerful look on your face and play the naive kid here who can barely tell their ass from their elbow.
>>
No. 758844 ID: 398fe1

>>758843
Oh, Prodigal was a dude. This isn't him, then. Unless he changed his shape again, but I'm not so sure that's possible, nor would he choose to become female again.
>>
No. 758851 ID: 595d54

>>758844
Well, right now all we have is long hair and a feminine voice. Let's not discount that possibility.
>>
No. 758857 ID: 3abd97

>>758843
This seems the correct way to treat it. Be polite, offer a solution, but be unable to give her a location.

Maybe introduce yourself in an attempt to get her name in return.

>>758844
Prodigal's body was mostly wire. If he's skilled in shaping it, you could craft false-hair from wire, and wear a mask / overlay his face with extra wire material to fake a female image, probably.

Could also just be some kind of illusion. Prodigal was really skilled in Word-magic, and we already know that can alter perceptions (our paper that was invisible to certain people but not others, for example).
>>
No. 758863 ID: 12d6e6

>>758834
Even if it's not Prodigal, this is still sketchy AF. Reveal nothing.
>>
No. 758888 ID: a606da
File 147926046226.png - (210.75KB , 800x600 , lotm64.png )
758888

“How are you a former Mehhenger? I didn’t know one could leave.”

“Ah. It is not a pleasant story.” She winces. “It involved two philosophies: the first was that of the Messengers, while the second was my own. I betrayed both. I would rather not bore you with any further details.”

“Lydiri ih in a different group dan I am today. I don’t know where he ih, ehactly.” I shake my head. “If you tell me your name, I might be able to work out a time and playe for a meeting.”

I wait for an answer, but she’s silent.

“Do you not want dat?”

“Oh, no, it is a very generous offer. Thank you. I do not mean to be rude, only…” She trails off, looking uncomfortable. “Well, I am sorry to impose conditions when you are being so kind, but… after I tell you my name, will you promise not to be scared of me?”

>What is her hair made out of?

It looks like metallic wire.

As I examine her hair, I notice the strands shifting and bending in odd, snakelike ways.
>>
No. 758890 ID: 6d3d3d

Talk some more, get one of your octopi to sneak behind her, and SUFFOCATE HER UNTIL SHE STOPS MOVING. I don't care if that's Prodigal or his daughter, just neutralize her before she can talk her way into your house and butcher your new family! You can talk it out when she's in a warded titanium prison cell.
>>
No. 758894 ID: 3abd97

>after I tell you my name, will you promise not to be scared of me?
If you don't do anything scary, I won't be scared, okay?

I think I might have guessed already, though. I don't think there are a lot of ex-messengers.

If she (or he) gives you your name, respond in kind.

Might as well be honest if it's really Prodigal: you don't know if they're ready to forgive. You don't know everything yet, by a lot, by they still seem pretty upset about what happened.

(Assuming of course that Prodigal is being sincere, and this is not a ploy, of course. But we lose nothing by giving him the benefit of the doubt right now, and we lack the means to resist, fight, detail or escape from him anyways if we force a confrontation).
>>
No. 758896 ID: 12d6e6

Oh, sweet, merciful lord, it's him.
Her.
Whatever.
Get ready to bolt.
>>
No. 758898 ID: ba506f

>>758888
uh... ok. As long as you don't do anything to scare me that should be pretty easy
>>
No. 758928 ID: 398fe1

>>758888
Prodigal, right? Tell him you were given a different description. Did he trade it for the power he needed to get his revenge? He must know by now the Messengers want him dead. Does he think it's such a good idea to try to meet with Lydiri?
>>
No. 758942 ID: 8c9b6a

Well, we can't really control how scared we are, but we can promise to stay and hear them out.
>>
No. 758973 ID: 71d443

>>758888
Well, not really, because we already know who you are and are already terrified, so that precludes both conditions.
Can we use Words? 'Run' is a word.
>>
No. 759004 ID: a107fd

Am I allowed to be scared if I just guess, without you telling me? I mean, there aren't very many ex-Messengers made of metal.

That matter of conflicting philosophies seems less boring than you're trying to make it out to be. Maybe you should explain why you're not going to kill me and everyone I care about? Just to keep things balanced, my own reasons for not killing you include, but are not limited to, never having done such a thing before, clumsiness due to inexperience with my mew body, and your comparative invulnerability.
>>
No. 759091 ID: dd4df2

>>758888

The name seems unnecessary at this point. You have some idea of who this might be. And in that case, what have you got to actually be afraid of? If they wanted to harm you, they could have already. They seem to be here to get back in the Messengers' good graces (or at least, get to or at Lydiri).

Whether they're genuinely repentant or they're planning something else is, frankly, not your problem or judgement call to make, and they're not going to hurt you as long as they want to use you. So, you're probably safe, for now. Just carry on as if this was situation normal.

Squish/rub your squid head with an arm tentacle, look a little thoughtful.

"I -am- 'uppohed tuh be neutral... look, we don't have tuh make thih hard. If yuh want tuh talk tuh Lydiri, I promihe I will take a mehhage and make no judgement on tuh being giving tuh mehhage. Lydiri would probably approve of thuh approach. Lehh truhbul fuh everyone involved."
>>
No. 759092 ID: 595d54

"If you're Prodigal, that's difficult to promise, but I'm willing to hear your side of this or whatever else you'd like to talk about."
>>
No. 761596 ID: a606da
File 148018078035.png - (325.79KB , 800x600 , lotm65.png )
761596

“What if I’ve already figured out who you are?”

“Have you?” She(?) considers this with a forlorn expression. “In that case, I suppose your response would be up to you. I couldn’t force you to control your reaction, anyway. Well, I suppose I could, technically - but Emotion is a fickle force, and I prefer to avoid dealing with it. That being said, forget my conditions. My name is Prodigal.”

“I’m Gertrude.” I nod cautiously, taking care not to lose my head. “If you don’t do anyting ‘cary, I won’t be ‘cared.”

“Your reaction is refreshing. My introduction usually provokes either fleeing or attempts on my life.” Prodigal exhales with relief. “You are a kind person, Gertrude, and I am pleased to meet you.”

“Tank you.” I look him over. He still seems extremely androgynous, if not explicitly feminine. “I wuh given a different dehcryptun of you, Prodigal.”

“Ah, so you have noticed the partial regression in my appearance? I theorize that it is due to my recent death, which is a mildly complicated topic. This face ironically works well as a disguise, though it is by no means ideal.”

“Um… can you maybe ekplain why you’re not going to kill me and everyone I care about?”

“What?! I would never hurt you!” Prodigal looks scandalized. “I am a pacifist, and I have always been one. Except for a single night.”

“It wuh a big night.”

“It happened. I do not regret my actions, nor do I consider them entirely logical. But that disgusting business is complete. If I am to be free of my past, I must devote myself to creating a better future.” Prodigal wheezes sadly. “I am responsible for much suffering, yes, but I will cause no more. I am not a monster.”

“I don’t know if tuh Mehhengerh are ready to forgive you.” I frown. “Dey don’t ‘eem happy about what happened.”

“Oh.” Prodigal wavers, looking at the floor. “I… I assumed as much, but it is still painful to be rejected by family.” He sounds like he might start crying. “I am grateful for your honesty, Gertrude. Stay honest, please, and tell me: Do you hate me?”

“I am ‘uppohed to be neutral…” I think it over. “It ih difficult, but I’m willing to hear your ‘ide of dih, or whatever you’d like to talk about.”

“You will? Th - Thank you! Goodness, no one has ever offered to listen to me. I am honored. I believe it is better to listen elsewhere, however.” Prodigal’s cloak throws itself open, and dozens of wires slither out like animals, grasping at the air. Several of them split into smaller wires which hang purposefully in the air. Space, be a dear, would you? You still owe me quite a few lifetimes, so please be silent about the price.

A symbol flashes in the emptiness between Prodigal’s outstretched wires. For some reason, it reminds me of the Messengers’ ankh.
>>
No. 761602 ID: a606da
File 148018111435.png - (693.32KB , 800x600 , lotm66.png )
761602

The street around us bends into a circle, and then it uncurls into somewhere else entirely. I feel a dreadful vertigo.

“Was that your first time? I apologize.” Prodigal’s regretful voice drifts into my focus. “If it helps, the second traversal is usually much easier on the system.”

“Where - ?” I barely manage to get a word out before I fall to pieces.

“Ah!” Prodigal’s wires fly out from under his robe and instantly weave themselves into a net to catch me. “We are under the sea. I chose the location to better accommodate you. You can go for a swim, if you would like; I made sure that the water will be comfortable for you. More importantly, are you alright?”

“I tink?” I slowly put myself back together. “Yeah, I am.”

“That is good.” Prodigal smiles. I jump back as his wires shove a small cup of steaming liquid into my face. “Would you like some tea? It is my own blend. It always perks me right up after a nasty traversal. I can have Space spirit up any other refreshments you might want, too. Just say the word.”

“Um…” I gaze out into the ocean, distracted.

“Again, I apologize.” Prodigal laughs nervously. “I am very excited, so I may be speaking overly fast. I am doubtless awkward in many ways; I have been alone for a long time. Oh, sorry, perhaps I should have kept that to myself… so, um, moving on! What do you want to talk about? Are you curious about anything in particular?”
>>
No. 761603 ID: 1137e8

One nagging question: why?
Why abuse the Messenger's power?
Why kill so many people?
Why wait so long to seek out the Messenger's again?
Why does he think that anyone will ever forgive him?
Why come to Gertrude? She has no reason to trust him, and even less reason to help him.
>>
No. 761611 ID: 3abd97

>My introduction usually provokes either fleeing or attempts on my life.
Honestly, I'm not equipped to succeed at either. I haven't learned how to run in my new form yet, and you chose one that would take some creativity for anyone to harm.

>We are under the sea.
How far under? I'm not sure what depth my new form is rated to. If my octopi are comfortable in atmosphere at sea level, they can't be deep water critters.

>I made sure that the water will be comfortable for you
Oh nevermind, they and/or space cheater to make sure it was right.

>What do you want to talk about? Are you curious about anything in particular?
Well, I suppose I should first allow you to give your story in your own words. No one has heard your side of things.

After he or she tells her tale:

The principle problem the messengers, as a whole, have with you is they view your actions as a betrayal of everything they are. From their perspective, it appears premeditated, too. That you mastered Speaking and chose a form specifically suited for the massacre you were planning. And... *look around at the spacial distortion around you* I expect they would find complaint if your current Speaker was paid for in advance by that night.

Frankly, your biggest problem would be convincing them you're being honest, now. They believe you lied to them the entire time you were a messenger. Trust will not be easy.

I'm not trying to be cruel. I'm just warning you what you have stacked up against you. If you really want to be a messenger again, it will not be an easy path.
>>
No. 761612 ID: 3abd97

>Are you curious about anything in particular?
That business of his or her recent death might be worth asking about.
>>
No. 761615 ID: 7b7ab3

>>761602
Guys, why are we listening to this actual mass-murderer?
Why are we in his creepy, undersea lair?
What are we hoping to accomplish?
>>
No. 761618 ID: e911ba

>>761615
Beats me!
One minute we're delivering someone's booty call, the next we're having tea with a wireframe Hannibal Lecter!
>>
No. 761621 ID: 3abd97

>>761615
Not getting murdered?

We have no means to harm something made out of metal, or that possess archwizard tier Speaking. We can barely walk, we don't have the means to flee (even before we get into Space shenanigans).

When Cthulhu comes up to you and offers to have tea beneath the waves you do it, because there are no better options. When evil offers to be affable, you let it, because it beats the alternative.

The goal is to obtain information that may be useful to us, and try to get the crazy murderer positively disposed towards us. And to survive. While acknowledging, inwardly, that they may be lying about everything they tell us, and may be trying to build a rapport simply to use us. (Redeeming or recruiting Prodigal is arguably a goal, but I'd say that's laughably unlikely for now).
>>
No. 761627 ID: 71d443

If Prodigal's so all knowing, ask them why the quest's called Last of the Messengers. You counted at least, like, three Messengers. Probably more.
>>
No. 761630 ID: db0da2

>>761627
If there aren't any more made after us then this group would still be the last.
>>
No. 761634 ID: 7b7ab3

>>761621
>a well written, thoughtful, logical response
Thank you very much.
>>
No. 761643 ID: ba506f

>We are under the sea.
"I haven't seen the sea since I ran to join the messengers"

>>Would you like some tea?
sure, take some tea. I mean I don't see her trying to harm you with it seeing how she has much simpler, easier, and quicker ways of dealing with you if she wanted to hurt you. Might as well be polite.


Well, uh... do you want to talk business right off the bat or would you prefer we start with some small talk?

If you want to start with business what exactly do you want me to say to the other messengers. After you, uh, left the rest of the world saw what a messenger could do and people actually started to attack the messengers out of fear. Even if that wasn't much of a problem the messengers themselves where kinda crippled by the sudden distrust placed upon them. I mean I was told they use to be delegates between kings and countries but lately they talk whatever job people will hire them for just to make ends meat. I'm only telling you this because I think it is only fair to let you know what to expect.

As for small talk... so how did you know where to find the perfect spot in the ocean for me? I mean I haven't had this body for to long so I'm still trying to figure things out.
>>
No. 761675 ID: ff10db

I could attempt to explain the myriad ways Princess Murder8!+(# could convince you of her cause, use poisons to mess with your mind, rewrite your memory as she talks her way into your core and shatters it from the outside.

But the simple fact is, she's a higher level than you. You cannot fight back with words, it's her strongest talent. You cannot harm her, you do not have the initiative against a walking bundle of wires that has learned to strangle hundreds of babies while shooting their mothers with pinpoint accuracy. You cannot run or use the environment, she's smart enough to immunize herself against electrical shocks, rust, and depth pressure, and she will likely use them against YOU. You need to defend your body and mind.

STAY PARANOID. There's a difference between looking at the enemy's perspective and @#$%ing Stockholm Syndrome.
>>
No. 761689 ID: b1b4f3

At least send PART of yourself out there to swim!
>>
No. 761692 ID: dd4df2

>>761615

There's also the weird thing about them being an all-around nice guy, then being a mass murderer and apparent tyrant, and then... suddenly being an awkward, tired and lonely-sounding dude partway regressed from their Messenger form.

They denied having killed anyone after the 'one night', which seems at odds with the stories of them putting themselves up as a tyrant called the Wicker Prince/Cord. Having been alone for a long time also seems a little odd; a tyrant is not, per se, alone when they are busy tyrannizing. Did they mean alone as in 'kindred spirits/friends' alone, perhaps? Or were they not actually the Wicker Prince, after all, and have been elsewhere?

It seems important for Gertrude to remain as friendly and unbiased as able, which means to accept the tea (it's polite) and listen to their story for however long it takes. We can ask incisive questions as needed and look for contradictions in their tale (but we should perhaps not press those contradictions too hard, for obvious reasons).

I'm also mildly worried/intrigued about the 'price' mentioned to Space. Why would Space be owing 'lifetimes' to Prodigal ('still', even, indicating more has been owed in the past), and what -is- the actual cost of what Prodigal just casually asked Space to perform for Gertrude's apparent comfort and benefit?
>>
No. 761694 ID: 3abd97

>and listen to their story for however long it takes
Well, actually, no. We do have someone waiting for us to return and deliver a reply message ("Yes") and if this takes too long, we may have to ask for a recess so we can deliver that message before it gets rude, or the person waiting for a reply assumes the worst or gets upset.

Although I wouldn't be surprised if Prodigal is on good terms with Time, too, and would be perfectly willing to bend great cosmic power to ensure our undersea tea party can run long without us being late.
>>
No. 761734 ID: a107fd

>>761675
>STAY PARANOID
Absolutely not. Paranoia is for people who have some hope of defending themselves. Prodigal is the legendary unsurpassed master of a magic system you learned the existence of less than a week ago. Assume good faith until proven otherwise, and pursue a diplomatic resolution, or you're already dead a thousand times over.

>>761596
>owe me quite a few lifetimes
So, am I correct in thinking that, on "that one night," you ritually sacrificed all (or most of) those people to various aspects of reality in exchange for future favors?

Why did you officially leave the Messengers, and, because surely any such issue would involve some sort of internal politicking, what do you think the real reason was? How much do you know about the Messengers' internal story of your career with them, and activities afterward? Justification and interpretation aside, what in-principle independently-verifiable facts vary between your version and theirs?
>>
No. 875949 ID: a606da
File 152238457434.png - (233.43KB , 800x600 , lotm67.png )
875949

“I haven’t heen tuh eea - not hinh I ran to join tuh Mehhengerh.” I gaze out into the ocean, distorted and blurry through the odd glass(?) sphere we seem to be occupying. “How far under? I don’t know what depuh my new form ih rated to. If I’m comfortable in atmopeer at eea level, my octopuheh can’t be deep water critterh.”

“I am not sure what unit of measurement to use.” Prodigal bites his lip. “Not too deep, I think? There is not much pressure here. I think I have the right area for your sort of species. Still, if I am wrong, I will protect you, Gertrude. I promise.”

“Well, uh…” I glance down at the tea Prodigal gave me, not sure whether to drink it or not. I dare to take a sip. It’s wonderful, actually! “Do you want to talk buhineh right off the bat, or would you prefer we tart wih ‘mall talk?”

“Whichever you are comfortable with, I suppose!” Prodigal smiles, anxiously backing away from me in an apparent attempt to give me more personal space. “I - I would like to be friends with you. I have never been very good at that, though. Making friends, I mean. Speaking is my strength, not, uh, not social matters; I find that excelling at one has meant little regarding the other, oddly enough.” Prodigal sighs, quietly gazing at the shattered ankh hanging from his neck. “I miss the Messengers. I loved them. They were the only friends I ever knew, and my better family.”

“Why did you leave?” I quietly ask him. “How muh do you know about what dey tink about your career wih dem, and what you did afterward? Dey believe you lied to dem tuh entire time. Dey view your actunh ah a betrayal of everyting dey are. It appeauh premeditated, too.”

“I did not leave, nor betray, nor lie! I would never, if I had any choice at all. I am a Messenger if I am anything!” For a moment, Prodigal puffs himself up, indignant - but a moment later, he wilts, and the bravado ceases. “Which means I am nothing. Oh, what is the use? I do not know the specifics of what you have heard, but it is doubtless true, for I know my friends would never lie. I know they must hate me.”

“Why kill dat many people?” A thought occurs to me as I glance into the ocean around us, and the glass orb we’re inside of. “…Am I correct in tinking dat, on ‘dat one night’, you ritooally ‘akrified all of dem to variuh apect of reality for favor?”

“I - I sort of did. Accidentally.” Prodigal mumbles with surprising eloquence. He looks away. “But… excuse me, I…”
>>
No. 875950 ID: a606da
File 152238461315.png - (235.19KB , 800x600 , lotm68.png )
875950

To my surprise, Prodigal bursts into tears.

“I beg you, Gertrude, try to understand!” Prodigal shudders and sobs, yet his words are as collected as ever. It doesn’t strike me as deceptive - I can hear the misery and desperation in his voice - but more as though he can’t help but speak clearly. “I cannot say that I wanted to do anything I have done, but also I cannot say that any of it was a mistake. I offer no excuses. Rather, it is simply a shame that my life is what it is, and that events conspired to rule me as they have done. A terrible shame!”

“I’m not trying to be cruel.” I lightly try to comfort him. Cautiously. From a distance. “I’m jut warning you what you have ‘tacked up againt you. It will not be an eahee road.”

“I know. You have been both honest and kind. May Word favor you.” Prodigal continues to weep. “Are you scared of me? Please, do not be.”

“I…” I hesitate.

“Oh. I see.” Prodigal whimpers, taking my silence for an answer. “I am sorry. I was not trying to frighten you. I never try. It just happens, now. Everyone is scared of me. I am, too. I am scared all the time, and I do not think anyone can help me, and that scares me even more.” Prodigal gazes miserably into my eyes, his face wet with tears. “Help me.” He pleads. “I do not know what to do. Please.”

I feel like I’ve been given the final exam on my first day of class.
>>
No. 875951 ID: a606da
File 152238472204.png - (591.35KB , 800x600 , lotm69.png )
875951

“I apologize.” Prodigal quickly fights back his tears, wiping his face on his robe. “I have been rude.” He forces a smile, quivering with nervousness. “Ignore my indiscretion. You are a guest. You are not here to solve my problems, you are here because - because I invited you.” Prodigal winces on the word ‘invited’, apparently realizing that he never actually asked for my permission. “Shall we go swimming?”

I tentatively nod.

Instantly, Prodigal throws off his robe. Underneath is nothing but a wild mass of wires constituting his body, with the only flesh being around his face and head. With a whisper, he does away with the glass around us, and we tumble down into the water.

Almost immediately, I come to pieces. I flail wildly, trying to collect myself, but one of my hand-selves slips away from me. I’m struck by a familiar vertigo as I see the world through two perspectives, and I meet my own gaze to find it full of panic.

I realize, to my horror, that I don’t know how to swim anymore! Not as I am now, anyway. Not in this form. I helplessly look over at Prodigal, but his eyes are closed as he drifts happily along in the current.

I don’t know what to do!
>>
No. 875953 ID: ad51b8

you can breath right? Octopi should be able to breath underwater. Just focus on keeping yourself together then once you're sure you won't drift apart try splitting a single octopus off of yourself and have it focus on swimming around your main cluster. then once you get comfortable with that add a few more until you can get to the point where all of you can swim... might take awhile though but hey, got to start somewhere.
>>
No. 875954 ID: 094652

You can't drown down here. Take all the time you need to move a single tentacle on a single body.

Of course, the lack of oxygen in your lungs means your brain is going into low-power mode, so try to think up a plan of some sort before you go stupid.
>>
No. 875958 ID: b1b4f3

>>875951
You've seen octopi swim before right? Let your parts separate a little, but stay close together. Mimic the movements you saw. It's like paddling but with every tentacle instead of just two arms.
Or just let one octopus go and control it specifically to experiment with tentacle swimming technique.
>>
No. 875959 ID: d887c0

>>875951
Calm down and focus on getting your parts under control. You should be able to breathe underwater, though now would be a really crummy time to discover that your relationship to actual octopi is purely cosmetic. What you don't want is to sink any deeper. Octopi propel themselves in the water by using their siphons. Do you have a siphon? Now's a good time to experiment.
>>
No. 875973 ID: 074011

Octopuses swim, it is normal for them, gestalts are untested. Go to the most distant octopus and swim with just one, back to your collective, you can catch it if it is out of control. Once you know what one moving feels like, you can work on spreading that feeling to all of yourself.

Just don't panic, ink would be terrible right now.
>>
No. 876123 ID: 3abd97

>Rather, it is simply a shame that my life is what it is, and that events conspired to rule me as they have done. A terrible shame!
I'm not sure blaming his actions on circumstances will tread much water with the others. It feels too much like a denial of responsibility.

>I don’t know what to do!
Maybe it's not so important to hold your parts together under water. Your bits don't have to be touching to control them, right? So you just need each octopus to stay near the others. A school, or a cloud moving together.

Once you've got the hang of moving octopi in the water, you can worry about trying to swim in a human-shaped formation.

Hmm. Hopefully Word's piece of paper will be fine under water?
>>
No. 876506 ID: dc91a0

Relax. You are safe. Breath through your gills.
Then, start trying to move with one body at a time. Remember: You are built for this.
>>
No. 877135 ID: 33cbe7

Focus on staying perfectly still and move one piece at a time, beginning with moving your handtopus back into reach of your armtopus.
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