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In memory of Flyin' Black Jackson
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File 150629654995.png - (339.52KB , 800x600 , atoll.png )
832547 No. 832547 ID: c9b650

Warning: This quest will probably contain NSFW elements. It might also get weird.
by popular demand and you know who you are
Expand all images
No. 832548 ID: c9b650
File 150629656009.png - (44.43KB , 800x600 , at1.png )

No. 832549 ID: c9b650
File 150629657002.png - (47.08KB , 800x600 , at2.png )

"...fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK FUCK FUck fuck fuck fuck..."
No. 832550 ID: c9b650
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No. 832551 ID: c9b650
File 150629659340.png - (288.00KB , 800x600 , at4.png )

"Ha HA! Come back here, goatboy! There's secrets in those veins, and if you aren't gonna tell me, I'm gonna rip 'em out! AHAHahaHA!!"
No. 832552 ID: c9b650
File 150629660796.png - (69.83KB , 800x600 , at5.png )

No. 832553 ID: c9b650
File 150629665225.png - (89.64KB , 800x600 , at6.png )

"Containment protocols in effect. Please do not panic. The situation is under control."
No. 832554 ID: c9b650
File 150629666550.png - (111.71KB , 800x600 , at7.png )

"Continuing towards target--"
No. 832555 ID: c9b650
File 150629668396.png - (89.44KB , 800x600 , at8.png )

"Entropic contamination detected. Purifying."
No. 832556 ID: c9b650
File 150629670365.png - (159.61KB , 800x600 , at9.png )


"Unexpected phenomenon observed as consequence of directed purification fields. Logged. Continuing purifi--"
No. 832557 ID: c9b650
File 150629671815.png - (401.50KB , 800x600 , at10.png )

No. 832558 ID: c9b650
File 150629673880.png - (320.97KB , 800x600 , at11.png )


"--ispatching assist-- --rogue element-- --ential class IV scenari--"



No. 832559 ID: c9b650
File 150629674765.png - (204.17KB , 800x600 , at12.png )

A nameless, numberless creature awakes, free of principle, philosophy and experience.

It is a terrifying freedom, as it begins to wrap its newly enlightened mind around the concept of self-awareness.

After grappling with existential terror for a few minutes, it comes to the conclusion that, before it can continue anything, it needs a name. It doesn't know why, but it feels this is incredibly important.
No. 832561 ID: 3abd97

No. 832562 ID: 963ae7

No. 832564 ID: dae23c

Corporal Fluffsman (pronounced Fluffsm'n). You're not sure what a corporal is, but it feels impressive.
No. 832566 ID: 100607

Eudin Tal, but friends call you Odin.
No. 832567 ID: 3ce125

No. 832570 ID: c2051e

No. 832572 ID: 2a13fa

No. 832574 ID: 8cb228

No. 832575 ID: f65b48

No. 832579 ID: ba506f

No. 832580 ID: f0b268

Goat Girl
No. 832581 ID: fe7355

No. 832590 ID: be0718

No. 832602 ID: 1e7aa8

Ivendorf the third
No. 832617 ID: fff296

No. 832618 ID: 5f8c5e

No. 832619 ID: 9876c4

No. 832621 ID: ec5ca0

Seconding Basil.
No. 832628 ID: 08555f

No. 832633 ID: 94bef7

Kari. Short for Karishad.
No. 832642 ID: 57e2c9

oh hell

I want this so bad

this is also good
No. 832650 ID: 6e59e3

Seconding 'Kari', short for Karishad
No. 832658 ID: 8c51fa

No. 832665 ID: c9b650
File 150634597883.png - (98.85KB , 800x600 , at13.png )

After much thought, it decides to name itself Redford Kurasu, before being confused at which order the two names should go in.
It settles on Red for convenience, feeling it to be a very appropriate name for whatever creature it happens to be.

Red stands and surveys its surroundings, completely at a loss as to what to do next as the fog dissipates away.
Dull brass floors meet polished, engraved brass walls, inscribed with depictions of figures and symbols without any known meaning. Red can hear echoes of the desperate scrabble of hooves, as well as the many tiny taps of something with dozens of legs, both receding into the distance.

With its bearings gained, Red determines that it must be in some form of corridor. It pauses to wonder why it knows what a corridor is, then dismisses the thought as unhelpful.

The only obvious directions to go are one way or the other, one leading into darkness and strange noises, and one leading into light and silence. There could be other options, but Red can't immediately think of any.
No. 832673 ID: b9b4da

The other.
No. 832674 ID: 4eb194

The scrabbling of hooves makes me think there's danger there and we're only a newly sapient being. Let's go toward the direction of light and silence for now.
No. 832676 ID: 5f8c5e

Fortune favors the bold! Go in the dark.
No. 832678 ID: 56fca5

Take a look around in the lit direction.
No. 832689 ID: 3d2d5f

>It pauses to wonder why it knows what a corridor is, then dismisses the thought as unhelpful.
If you're going to question why you understand the concept of corridors, you're going to need to question the rest as well, encompassing the entire language and vocabulary of concepts you've used thus far.

Which yes, is unhelpful. You already know that you know some things, and that you don't know how you know those things.

>There could be other options, but Red can't immediately think of any.
You could remain stationary. That's the uninteresting option, though.

>which way go
Head into the light!
No. 832792 ID: 94bef7

So, how's wrapping your mind around the concept of self-awareness going so far?

Towards the light!
No. 832796 ID: be0718

Go into the light! Not even we know what awaits there.
No. 832809 ID: ba506f

well let's see what we can see, and unless you can see in the dark the only way for us to go is towards the light.
No. 833706 ID: c9b650
File 150679892889.png - (68.43KB , 800x600 , at14.png )

Red heads towards the light, emerging into bright light, the brightest it has ever seen in its life.

Strange colours and shapes assault its senses, too much to take in all at once. It tries to walk slowly, and finds itself outside the corridor.

Red treads carefully on a smooth brass walkway, glances down, and immediately regrets it, seeing that the walkway abruptly stops a few feet ahead, and a perilous, possibly fatal drop far, far below.
No. 833707 ID: c9b650
File 150679893686.png - (17.07KB , 800x600 , at15.png )

Red freezes up.
No. 833708 ID: c9b650
File 150679894343.png - (21.03KB , 800x600 , at16.png )

Ahead of it, across a short gap of pure sky and unfathomable descent, stands some other unfamiliar figure on a pillar.

"Woah! Who are you?! Are you here to rescue me from this place?! Can you fly??"

Red slowly shakes its head, and the figure pauses.

"Can you, uh, help at all please??"

Red considers asking how the figure ended up on a pillar with no way back, but finds that though it can understand language perfectly, it has no idea how to speak or even how to write.

It considers shrugging but remains petrified by the prospect of an errant twitch sending it falling.

"Hello?? I've been stuck here for a full day! Please help I'm gonna starve to death or die of exposure or something!!"
No. 833709 ID: ba506f

is their anything out here that you could use as a bridge between the platform the girl is on or something that you could use back in the hallway you came from?

I mean the only other thing I can think of is trying to get her to jump towards you and try and catch her and pull her onto the platform you're on.

Although I do wonder how she got up their if she can't get back down.
No. 833711 ID: 1b76d5

Not being able to talk could be a problem.

But yeah see if you can find an implement to use to bridge the gap.
No. 833712 ID: 3abd97

>it has no idea how to speak or even how to write
Gesture towards your throat and and then shake your head to convey your inability to speak. Possibly mine speaking, opening your mouth and not making noise.

>asking how the figure ended up on a pillar with no way back
Gesture at the pillar, and at the creature.
No. 833713 ID: be0718

>die of exposure
Doesn't seem fatal to me. Feels rejuvenating, even.
Get her to jump towards you by gesturing to yourself. Hold out your hands ready to catch her. It's very much a take it or leave gesture, as you lack the words and she lacks the options.
No. 833714 ID: c9f250

Put your feet a bit further apart for stability.

Then it's time for slightly-panicked confused arm movements!

If the figure doesn't have ideas then uh better keep exploring.

Look carefully for any buttons around the walkway or door first.
No. 833720 ID: 56fca5

Unless she is an exceptionally good jumper she isn't going to make that jump from a standing position. We don't even know if we could catch her. We need to go the other way and find something to use.
No. 833727 ID: 3ce125

Lower yourself closer to the ground. Can't fall over as easily that way.

Consider that there may be an invisible pathway. Feel around the edges of the bridge.
No. 833744 ID: fe7355

Dismiss any ideas of her jumping the gap and either landing on the walkway or you catching her. Unless she's exceptionally light, she'd drag you over the edge if you did grab her. And unless she's light or has strong legs, she isn't gonna get close to making the jump from a standing start anyway. Oh, and if she did somehow land on the walkway's end, it'd act like a springboard, bending down before springing back up then shaking about. That definitely would not be good for footing.

First things first, deal with your stability issues. Keep your arms out and slowly shuffle your feet apart. Then kneel down before going prone and grasping the edge of the walkway with each hand. And if looking down or to the sides locks you up out of fear, look up instead. In fact, look up anyway at some point to see what the tower above you is.

Via gestures try and convey to the lady that you can't speak by pointing at yourself, then clasping your hand over your mouth, then shaking your head. Hopefully she'll get what that means. Then point at yourself, make a walking gesture with two fingers downward in a inverted "V" moving past each other, then back at the tower. You hope she'll understand that means you'll be heading back to the tower.

Stay prone and shuffle your way back along the walkway going backwards, keeping a firm grip on the edge. Once you reach the doorway, look around it inside and out for any signs of buttons or other controls. There might be a mechanism to extend the walkway. Otherwise you'll need to find something you can carry here to bridge the gap.
No. 833762 ID: 41c9bc

No. 833822 ID: 100607

Get on your knees and feel around the floor to see if there's any buttons.

Then move to the edge of the ledge and swing your arm in front of the ledge. Perhaps the walkway is there but invisible.
No. 836313 ID: 416adc
File 150785933279.png - (21.29KB , 800x600 , at17.png )

Red first adjusts its stride, wincing at how close its feet come to the edges of the walkway. It knows it isn't going to be able to try catching someone about the same size as it, and she looks to be slightly taller.

It then points towards its throat and shakes its head sadly, and flaps its jaws silently to drive home the point.

"I don't-- you can't talk? What? Is that a permanent thing or is it gonna wear off? Look, just, never mind! Okay, so, uh, any-- any ideas??"

Red looks around for any sort of implement to use as a bridge gap, as the nameless woman continues.

"Okay, so, uh, sorry for being so, um, snappy, but you're seriously the first person I've seen ever since I got stuck here who didn't just ignore me and run off! You look kind of scared so I appreciate the help, I'm sorry!"

Red slowly nods, points to the pillar, and then points to the woman.

"Uh. Uh, what about this pillar? Yes, I'm on the pillar."

Red tilts its head.

"Why are you confused about me being-- oh. Well, uh. Uh. We don't, um, need to go into why I'm here, on this pillar, alright? We, uh, look, I've been here a long time and okay okay it's hubris okay I stole a potion of flight and now karma's come back to strand me up in the air and the sentinels considered this a fitting punishment and wouldn't help me down and now I'm stuck here forever and if I hadn't had the foresight to steal a ring of satiation I'd probably starve or die of thirst but instead I'll just be here hungry and thirsty but never actually starving or dehydrating and this ring of awareness doesn't let me sleep and they're both cursed and won't come off so I'm doomed to stay up here until I die of old age until someone helps me escape this horrible karmic prison I've created for myself!"

Red blinks a few times in surprise.

"Okay. Okay, sorry. I'm sorry, I really am. I didn't think any of this stuff belonged to anyone, I just came to this place to search for ancient artifacts! I didn't know the ones inside the crystal chests were property of the sentinels! I know I'm not innocent and I came here for personal gain and everything but I've lost everything I had just getting to this point and I don't want to die on a tiny brass pole!"
No. 836314 ID: 416adc
File 150785936429.png - (25.11KB , 800x600 , at18.png )

Red nods sympathetically a couple of times, before carefully, carefully lowering itself onto the walkway, knees then prone, feeling the edges for any sort of buttons or invisible pathways. The brass floor is cold to the touch, both on Red's paws and its stomach. It shivers.

Red crawls forwards, noticing a solid surface extending beyond the end of the walkway, and slowly, slowly taps the walkway ahead of it as it wiggles forwards, trusting the cold solid brass it can feel over the sudden and alarming absence of brass that it can see.

An invisible walkway. Heading directly in the direction of the pillar the woman is stranded on.

"Wait how are you doing that? Wait stop hold on how are you floating like that are you able to fly are you--"

Red taps on the visible platform and looks up at her, before slowly shaking its head and gesturing at the invisible walkway it's clinging to and pointing in the direction of the tower.

The unnamed woman stares incredulously, slowly bends down, and taps at a surface her intuition and observation tells her shouldn't be there. A muffled solid knock comes back to her.

She slowly stands back up.

"...I could have just walked away at any time, couldn't I. What kind of horrible, sick prank is this?! Oh. Oh, right, a punishment, of course."
No. 836315 ID: 416adc
File 150785937762.png - (31.01KB , 800x600 , at19.png )

"...So, uh, um, my name's, uh, Selenite. Or Selene. Actually Selene is nicer, call me that. Oh, right, sorry, uh, I'm not used to people not being able to speak around me, uh, usually I ramble a lot and people tell me to cut it out a bit and then I'm a bit quieter but I guess if you can't cut me off then oh no I'm already rambling again and uh hey this is just an observation but you don't seem to be wearing anything?"

Red points to Selene slowly, but she doesn't seem to understand Red's attempt to ask why she isn't wearing anything either.

"So, uh."

A long, awkward pause.

"I... don't really know what to do. I lost my cloak, I can't take these rings off, and I don't know anything about this big tower. Do... do you have any ideas how to get down?"

A longer, awkwarder pause.

Red isn't sure what to do next.
No. 836319 ID: be0718

She can't take the rings off, but can you?
No. 836322 ID: c88e6d

Shrug at her, give her a hug, then head back inside and keep searching. Try to appear happy or at least less concerned. Caring for others is probably a defining principle of living beings. Maybe.
No. 836324 ID: 91ee5f

>Do...do you have any ideas how to get down?"
Sadly shake your head no.

Try to indicate your name is Red to her somehow.

She's got red markings on her body. Try pointing to those and then point at yourself. Keep doing that until she gets what you're trying to tell her and when she gets it, nod your head yes.
No. 836326 ID: be0718

Grab her boob and fly off to ADVENTURE!
No. 836328 ID: 3ce125

Shrug, and point inside. Let's explore.
No. 836337 ID: 4763b1

Shake head then grab her hand and let's try to find a way out together
No. 836343 ID: cc5f4f

Well, let's try going into the darkness, and beyond.
No. 836344 ID: 3abd97

>stranded by a potion of flight with a ring of satiation
Pff. She's an amusing, less-metal Prometheus.

>Do... do you have any ideas how to get down?
Shrug, and then gesture towards the door behind you.

Back down the hall you came from is literally the only other way to go.
No. 836345 ID: 41c9bc


Only one way to go from here, so back into the darkness.
No. 836381 ID: 100607

You've never touched anyone before, right? So.. practice by hugging her!

Try to take her rings off. Maybe they're only cursed in a way that she herself can't take them off. I wonder if the ring of awareness helps being aware of your surroundings in any way, for instance, to be able to see in the dark.

And then.. we should probably go back inside and see if we can find anything in there.
No. 836386 ID: 8aa46e

First, give her a hug. She sounds like she's been through a lot.

Next, try to remove the rings. Cursed rings that can only be removed by someone else sounds like the kind of thing someone who uses invisible platforms as a prank would do.

Hold her hand and lead the two of you back down the hallway. Look for other passages and switches.
No. 836387 ID: 0d1514

boob honk
No. 836390 ID: c253d9

Yeah, back inside is the only direction that makes sense.

Hugs if she wants I guess. I mean if I'd been stuck where she was for who knows how long I'd probably want a hug at that point.
No. 836474 ID: a363ac

No. 836691 ID: 8d4593

Take hand, Go down corridor.
No. 836850 ID: 9d4af9

The walkway that you are one looks like it curves around the side of the structure. Maybe there is some kind of way down on the other side. Regardless, you should probably check it out.
No. 836916 ID: 1530a8

No. 836973 ID: 416adc
File 150811331484.png - (27.56KB , 800x600 , at20.png )

Red is without sex, and as such without libido. Selene's nudity does not strike it as anything abnormal. In its admittedly very short existence, it seems to be a common mode of apparel.

Red tries to offer Selene a hug, but Selene backs away a step. "Um, I, uh, I appreciate it, uh, whatever your name is, but I only just met you, and I appreciate you risking yourself to help me but I'm not sure what you are and for all I know you might have a curse on you too. Nothing personal! I'm just, well, a tiny bit, uh, paranoid right now. Sorry!"

Red nods, and then points to itself and to the red markings on one of Selene's arm.


Red points to itself, points to its mouth, and then points to a red stripe again.

"You want to lick my arm??"

Red shakes its head emphatically, a little frustrated, and points at Selene, closing its eyes and making mock speaking sounds.

"I... I don't have any idea what you're trying to say, what are you--"

Red keeps pointing back towards itself and the red marking over and over, emphasising the specific patch of red more and more each time with increasingly agitated and forceful swipes and stabs into the air.

"You're an arm? You want my arm? You need a hand? You're red? You're striped-- Oh! Your name? Is your name Stripes??"

Red pauses, shrugs and nods, figuring that this is probably the closest it's going to get. It then motions to the arched opening. The two enter the darkness of the tower corridor.

"Your name is Stripes! Awesome! Okay, Stripes, let's get going!"
No. 836974 ID: 416adc
File 150811335887.png - (24.93KB , 800x600 , at21.png )

As Red passes by a conspicuously empty and dizzyingly familiar plinth, it points to Selene's ring-bearing hand, then to itself, and makes an elaborate charade of removing non-existent rings from its own hands.

Selene understands the sentiment clearly and frowns, a little annoyed. "I don't think you'll have any more luck than me, Stripes, also I just said I don't want to risk you being charged with some sort of hidden curse even you don't know about!"

Red huffs, and realises with a start that, primitive as it might be, it just expressed itself with some form of air escaping its mouth. The possibilities, it notes, for future sighs and yawns and gasps are endless. The joy of this tiny revelation fades quickly away as Red feels hurt by Selene's accusations.

Red sighs deeply as the pair walk into dimming light. Selene breaks the awkward silence a few dozen steps further.

"Hey, uh, I didn't mean it like I think you'd be doing it on purpose. I'm just worried, okay? ...oh whatever, I'm at least on solid ground now. Okay, sure, if you think you can help me, I'll let you try."

She holds her hand out, rings offered to Red.

Red slowly takes her hand, and Selene winces, a sharp tension of muscle followed by cautious relaxation. "Okay, I guess you didn't curse me after all." Red absently nods as it tries to gently pull at the cursed artifacts, finding that they do not seem to have any sort of give, almost as fixed to the bone itself. Flesh and fur squish and stretch but the rings remain in place.

The rings look polished, feel warm from Selene's body heat, are smooth and pleasant to the touch, and feel revoltingly gritty to a sense Red was not aware it even had. An unpleasant grinding coarseness, like something intrinsic has worn away or been ground from them. It is not a painful sensation, but it is thoroughly unpleasant.

Selene tilts her head. "Are you alright? You look, uh, like you just ate the most bitter thing in the world. Oh no, did you get cursed too?!"

Red lets go and shakes its head, thankful to be free from the slimy scratchiness of whatever it was it just experienced. It offers a meek shrug to Selene. Selene sighs softly, takes her hand back, and the two continue.
No. 836975 ID: 416adc
File 150811337113.png - (34.71KB , 800x600 , at22.png )

Soon it becomes too dark to see, but a strange thing happens as Red ventures further into the darkness. Everything seems to adjust and brighten. Selene doesn't even seem to notice this.

Selene wanders around, looking at the inscriptions and reliefs on the walls that Red finds no meaning in. The room the two have entered appears to have no clear entrances or exits except the one they came in from, which is strange, as there must have been some way to get to here to begin with. If the room was meant to be accessed via flight, Red considers, why would there even be a walkway, and why would it be partially invisible?

Red is drawn towards strange luminous glyphs on the far wall of the room, the only clear source of surprisingly unnecessary illumination. As it draws closer to the wall, the markings all glow in much more detailed and intricate patterns.

"Woah! Hold on, Stripes, don't touch that wall, it might be a trap!"

Red stares at the wall, recognition coursing through its mind. It doesn't understand how, but it can read these glyphs on the wall just as it can know what Selene says. It feels almost like the glyphs are speaking silently to Red, conveying information on layers deeper and more intricate than visual means alone.
No. 836976 ID: 416adc
File 150811338348.png - (200.71KB , 800x600 , at23.png )

Administrative Segment - Status - Receiver Site Status
Segment 1 - Class II Risk Stability - Maintained
Segment 2 - Recovering Instability - Maintained
Segment 3 - Inimical (Life) - Inaccessible
Segment 4 - Inimical (Life) - Destroyed
Segment 5 - Class I Risk Instability - Maintenance Required
Segment 6 - BARRED - BARRED
Segment 7 - Class II Risk Stability - Maintained
Segment 8 - Inimical (Life) - Not Established
Nexus channel established
Receiver is not primed, message delivered to maintenance channel
Sender operational
Translocation ritual primed and ready
Available receiver sites in segments 1, 2, 5, 7
Please touch glyph of desired destination segment to initiate ritual

Red isn't sure what to make of all this. It isn't even sure what to make of the fact it just happens to be able to understand all of this on a textual level, if not at a deeper meaning.

Selene looks over at the wall. "What's with all the glowy lines? Is that some weird sentinel language?"
No. 836979 ID: ba506f

>What's with all the glowy lines? Is that some weird sentinel language?

nod your head, also let's start with segment 2 seeing how that one seems the least dangerous since it is maintained and recovering... really hoping that means good things
No. 836981 ID: 3ce125

Point towards your eyes and then to the glyphs and nod. That should hopefully indicate you can read it.

I say try 1.
No. 836982 ID: 3abd97

>Is that some weird sentinel language?
Nod an emphatic yes to this. If you express confidence, maybe you can convey the fact that is a language you can read. (Even if she can apparently not).

>Please touch glyph of desired destination segment to initiate ritual
Uhhh, of the choices, I guess 2 sounds best? A maintained area should be better than a non-maintained area, and recovering is better than an active risk.

Two bad we don't know the order of severity. Is a class I risk more or less dangerous than a class II risk? Which way does the scale go?
No. 836983 ID: be0718

Activate the number 5!
No. 836984 ID: 0c3362

Something amusing that you can read the stuff on the wall but can't talk to Selene to explain any of it. Oh well!

Try #2.
No. 836985 ID: ba506f

will if the title of this thing is any indicator it's a telaporter so you might want to hold onto Selene's hand so you two don't get separated.
No. 836990 ID: 56fca5

"Reciever not primed" sounds like we can't come back. That being said, there isn't a whole lot around here for us to do. Go ahead and activate the glyph for segment 2.

Actually, throw caution to the wind and activate the glyph for segment 6; see if that does anything first.
No. 836992 ID: 6cd244

Try Segment 5, it looks like that needs maintenance. If the forces that run this tower are willing to punish those who steal from it, maybe they'll reward us if we perform the maintenance satisfactorily!
No. 836994 ID: 41c9bc

Try 1.
No. 836995 ID: 91ee5f

Point to your eyes and then point to the glyphs while nodding your head enthusiastically. Hopefully she gets that you're telling her you can read it.

And if she mentions anything about how it sucks that you're able to read that, but you're unable to tell her what it means, then nod in agreement at how it sucks.

Do we even know which segment we're in right now?

Let's try going to Segment 2.

>hold onto Selene's hand so you two don't get separated.
That's a good idea.
No. 837108 ID: 380990

Go to Segment 2 through the ITRI.
No. 837207 ID: 100607

>asexual character
>hugs denied
Life has no meaning.

Segment 1. Because 1 is a lonely number.
No. 837490 ID: 416adc
File 150828691850.png - (196.41KB , 800x600 , at24.png )

Red nods its head, and Selene pauses.

"Wait, you know it's a sentinel language?"
Red nods.
"How do you know that? Can you read it?"
Red nods vigorously, smiling.
"What does it say?"

An awkward silence hangs around for what feels like an eternity before Selene breaks it again. "Oh, right. Right. Uh, hm. Well, uh, can you tell me anything somehow?"
Red sighs, ears drooping, and shakes its head.
"That's kinda terrible."
Red nods.

Selene pats Red's back. "It's alright, you can't talk, I can't read whatever this is. We've got different skills. I'm sure we'll find some way to communicate with each other better, alright?"
She gives Red a quick hug, which, though surprising, is quickly reciprocated. "So, is it anything useful?"
Red shrugs, pauses, then slowly nods.
"Okay? So, uh, can it help us get out of the tower?"
Red nods, gesturing to the glyphs.
"Oh! Oh wait I see! That's a map of the atoll, sorta! I mean, that's the atoll down below and we're on this floaty bit up here. What, does this give us a map of how to leave?"
Red shakes its head.
"Oh, like does it summon sentinels to take us to whatever these places are?"
Red shakes its head again, pauses, and mimics walking with its fingers on a hand, then making a big, sweeping arc with its walking hand onto its floor hand, having moved them both somewhere else.
"It... makes us jump to somewhere else?"
Red uncertainly nods and waves its hand in a close-enough gesture.
"Oh. Oh, is this like some sort of teleport device?"
Red nods again, and points out the four glowing glyphs, making a note to provide the number of each segment.
"Oh! Oh. I don't know what those numbers mean."

Red accidentally pushes on the glyph corresponding to segment six as it makes its demonstration, and freezes up just as a voice flitters into its mind.
"Access to barred segments requires sentinel authorisation, restricted use mode active. Please select a different segment."

Deciding not to push its luck further, Red holds Selene's hand firmly and taps the glyph for segment two. The world flashes teal.
No. 837491 ID: 416adc
File 150828693076.png - (217.36KB , 800x600 , at25.png )

Red looks around and is so disoriented it stumbles to the floor, not trusting its senses. Instantaneous was an accurate description. With little to no fanfare, with no sound and only a flash of light, the two find themselves in a completely different environment.

Selene falls to her knees, palms onto the ground, whining a little. "Makers I didn't think teleporting would be so nauseating, oooghh."

Red helps her up to her feet as the two begin to take in the surroundings.

If this is what the sentinels consider maintained, Red thinks, it's glad it didn't pick segment five. Unexplained stone rubble litters the edges of the room, and many of the lighting crystals are shattered or missing from their sockets on the walls.

"Woahhh. This place is a mess." Selene carefully pads around, the grim grey stone composite floor cold and rough. "At least the tower looked nice. What happened to this place?"

Red looks around, walking off of the raised dais the pair appeared on, and notices that the room has three exits. Two are boarded up from the outside, and Red approaches the third.
No. 837492 ID: 416adc
File 150828699837.png - (288.44KB , 800x600 , at26.png )

Something lurches in the doorway, and Red feels a sense of dread in approaching it. Red stares into a large, unblinking eye, which stares impassively back into it.

Its glowing eye is a beacon inside a cloud of supernatural darkness, swirling around it. Red feels its mind growing fuzzy and its focus blurring the longer it looks at the creature.

It slinks away, almost as if flowing, before Red can approach it further, and Red takes several steps back.
No. 837493 ID: 416adc
File 150828702426.png - (179.85KB , 800x600 , at27.png )

In the place of the ghastly beast soon stands someone new. With no pause to identify themselves, they walk through the archway, purpose in their motions.

"Neither of you are swimmers. Nor are you sentinels. Unexpected." Her voice is scratchy, deep, with a synthesized flange hinting at some profound alteration or artificial nature. "Return to wherever you came from. This place is not where you belong."

Selene looks confused. "Where, uh, is this place? Also, who are you??"
"I am the one demanding answers here."
"Also, uh, Stripes, can we even go back?"

Red shrugs.

The stranger stands, betraying no emotion, cracking her neck slightly. "Uncertainty is not an answer. You are trespassers within my domain. Do you have any compelling arguments for me to waste any further time without simply killing you both?"

The creature from before slinks back into view, staring at Red specifically.
No. 837495 ID: 3ce125

Point out the Swimmer. I assume that's what this lady is calling the dreadful darkness flowing eyeball thing.
No. 837500 ID: 41c9bc

Point at your eyes, then point at the sentinel markings on the walls to indicate that you can read them.
No. 837501 ID: 100607

Point at the boarded exits.
No. 837502 ID: 3abd97

>hinting at some profound alteration or artificial nature
How would you know which natures are artificial, Red? :v

Good. (And even if your host doesn't get it, Selene should be able to catch on and translate).

And then the way you teleported in. Indicating they can't leave, and you may have access to the teleportation system might have value.
No. 837593 ID: 56fca5

A compelling reason to not kill us...

Do they happen to have any use for some... cursed artifacts?
No. 837594 ID: ba506f

stand a bit closer to Selene, both for comfort and to try to protect her/grab her and run should the need arise.

Also maybe point at the teleporter to at least get the message across you'll leave... hopefully.
No. 837596 ID: 0c3362

This is maybe a reasonable shot?
No. 837613 ID: b9b4da

Yes: Your powerful dance moves.
Get funky.
No. 837628 ID: c88e6d

Communicate via medium of gesture. Or hold up Selene's rings and point at them. Maybe we can trade these stupid cursed rings of sustenance.
No. 837648 ID: 3ce125

Wait, what is that "remember" writing on the wall?
No. 837725 ID: 2a13fa

gesture that you can't speak
No. 838045 ID: a363ac

give hugs to everyone.
No. 841432 ID: 416adc
File 150949955424.png - (201.09KB , 800x600 , at28.png )

A flurry of ideas flit through Red's head. Firstly, it points at its eyes, then to the markings on the wall. Selene spots this gesture and helpfully adds "Stripes can read the weird sentinel glyphs! That's helpful, right?"

Red finds it a little odd that Selene's reaction to a stranger threatening her is this nonchalant.

The stranger pauses, silent, contemplating. She makes a few hand gestures and the eye creature slowly sidles away behind her, disappearing out of sight.

"Useful, if a little suspiciously convenient in the timing," says the goat. She looks around, tapping at her strange eyewear, and looks at the boarded up exits. "Hm. How did you get in here?"
"We, uh, used some sort of teleporter from Maker's Folly, I think? Something moved us."
"This ritual chamber hasn't been in use for at least as long as I've been alive. The capacitance crystals are completely dry. The only reason the lights are still on is because I tend to them."
"Oh. That was a one way teleport, wasn't it, Stripes."

Red meekly nods. Selene frowns.

"Well," says the stranger, "I am loathe to bring two complete strangers anywhere near my research, but you both show only residual traces of sentinel manipulation, and a sentinel designed translocation ritual would explain that. Do you recognise the marking on my chest?"

Selene looks and fiddles with one of her head ribbons. "Not really, why?"
"Excellent. It seems I misjudged you. The last few to enter here were, well, much more to the point. As neither of you are pointing weapons at me, I will extend you the same courtesy and refrain from deliberately bringing harm to either of you. As you are here alone, you are both welcome to stay for a time providing you do two things for me."
"What are those?"
"Firstly, I want your glyph-reading friend to prove him... her... themselves, secondly, reveal nothing of what you see in this place to any outside, especially not the sentinels. If you do happen to bring unwanted attention to me, I am going to have a very short list to go down of who betrayed me."

She beckons the two into the archway and melts into the shadows.

Selene hesitates before following. "Is it cold in here, or is it just her warm hospitality that's freezing? Maybe be on your guard, Stripes."

Red nods.
No. 841433 ID: 416adc
File 150949957104.png - (187.99KB , 800x600 , at29.png )

As the pair follow their aloof host, they step into a room that feels colder than the main chamber. The lighting is dim and red, and the shadows at the edges of Red's vision seem to sluggishly undulate and wander with no obvious source casting them.

The goat woman rummages through assorted tablets and shards on a desk at the side of the room, muttering about organisational skills and exemptions.

Red turns back and Selene is frozen at the doorway looking ahead in horror. Red glances to wherever Selene was looking, only to see some form of avian captive restrained to the wall, head obscured by a hood, standing with arms limply hanging by her side, with what appears to be a different type of script to the sentinel runes scrawled onto her body. Red can't read it from here.

Red had somehow completely not noticed this entering the room, and as Red looks back to Selene, the hapless victim appears to no longer be there.

Selene quietly mouths "we should leave" to Red.

"Please, come in. The wards are only targeted to those who oppose me, my aims or my allies. You won't trigger them."
No. 841435 ID: 3abd97

>Do you recognize the marking on my chest
Well, it's very nearly a targeting reticule, which hasn't very often been a popular thing to place on your chest.

>Selene quietly mouths "we should leave" to Red.
Adopt a helpless expression, shrug, and spread your hands.

Where else can we go? The teleport was one-way, allegedly. We can't go back the way we came.
No. 841438 ID: ba506f

>we should leave
Can we mouth back "where" are is that a little beyond us. If so shoot her an apologetic look and shrug. Also I guess you could try and read what's on the bird to get an idea of what the fuck is going on here.
No. 841443 ID: c88e6d

Gosh. It's usually more than eleven seconds before someone does something cartoonishly evil in front of their new prospective allies.

Clearly if they're willing to do that to sapient beings they consider you as nothing more than tools. Do your best to search for teleporter glyphs. This woman is mad, powerthirsty and depraved.
No. 841447 ID: 6cd244

Yeah, you two should both just ruuun away. Don't cross those wards, obviously, and if you have already you should slowly cross back before running so they don't trigger. I suspect that it'll be your responsibility in the near future to save your new friend Selene from horrible fates like this.
No. 841482 ID: c88e6d

Maaaaaybe they're not evil?

I mean, granted, there's like all the evidence in the world at this point, but you can't speak so there's no way to properly communicate in such a way that enables you to tactfully discuss it. She does have a lab full of chained up slaves and burnt dead things though. And threatened to kill us soooo... How are you supposed to NOT oppose her? She hasn't told you anything about her goals or desires and she's just throwing all this crap in your face after threatening your extremely brief life.
No. 841485 ID: be0718

You don't have anywhere to go. She's probably working against the sentinels but you don't know if they're a force for good any more than she's a force for evil. Right now she isn't trying to kill you, and you'll take what you can get.
No. 841486 ID: 314bcd

Euhhh, I guess we're not so much opposed as we are cautious of this goat? That might not set off the ward.

These gestures sound good.
There's not really much else that can be done, lest we raise suspicions further in not following the goat lady.
No. 841573 ID: 66a4ca

Follow the goat.
No. 841588 ID: 935d0d

Do you recognize that black thing on the counter? Also, I don't know where we can go other than following the goat woman.
No. 841619 ID: 41c9bc


You should cooperate, at least until you have a way to get somewhere else.
No. 841624 ID: 94bef7

Shrug at her. That might have been just a ghost.
No. 842101 ID: 416adc
File 150967628694.png - (68.41KB , 800x600 , at30.png )

Many things tell Red it should turn back now and run, but there seems to be nowhere else to go. Red helplessly shrugs and spreads its hands to Selene, who dips her head and quietly sighs. "Yeah, you're right, let's follow her in. I hope you can run fast."

Red feels a vague tingle as it steps over the runes and circles on the floor leading further into the room, but it soon subsides. Selene winces and grimaces as she steps over, more from anticipation than from any clearly observable effect. As Red enters the room, it can see the chained avian far more clearly, and does not know what manner of thing is playing with its senses. The entire room feels cold in both a temperature sense and in another stranger sense it can't put a name to.

"Do not touch anything, please," says the unnamed stranger. "I promised I would not harm either of you directly. I cannot be held accountable for harm you do to yourselves by interfering with anything here." She continues rummaging through piles of plates, all rectangular, rigid, and carved whole from different stones.

Red nods, and slowly steps closer to the bench, staring at the strange wormlike creature that seems to be charred to a crisp. It slowly looks up towards him, and Red realises that some sort of billowing black gas seems to be constantly seeping and flowing off of it onto the floor.

Red backs away from it, feeling cold and ill the closer it gets to it. The small wrong thing stares without eyes, but remains standing in its place.

Red leans towards the runes written on the captive, but can't read them, as they seem to be too small, and the captive's arm seems to be blocking its view of some. Red carefully and gently moves the captive, eliciting a small groan, and keeps her steady, staring closely at the runes. The larger rune has no clear meaning aside from "connection", but the smaller runes make up a report.

sick of losing my notes in this place, just going to write on the specimen directly. crown provided more material, infusion has had expected result on specimen. inconclusive effort to breach limit; clearly nothing is being destroyed or created in this transfer. can't risk further infusion, i'm no midwife. specimen is becoming of less and less importance and relevance, unless perhaps way to reverse process? tap unborn latent energies for source? specimen more useful as generator than vessel. no existing documented study, incredibly high risk. will need to confirm if specimen absence unnoticed before potential destruction, sentinels may get suspicious of disappearances.

As Red reads, it finds, along with growing concern, that it feels like it can write whatever this script is, provided with the appropriate tools. It doesn't know why. Red also finds that there's a strange sensation coming from the prisoner the closer its head gets to the prisoner's stomach, a sensing of something incredibly familiar yet tainted. Something like a warmth, an animating moment captured and pinned down. Burning fire, a constant force of wind. Red doesn't know what it means, but it recognises that whatever it is, it isn't something that should even be felt from a body of flesh.
No. 842102 ID: 416adc
File 150967629568.png - (16.68KB , 800x600 , at31.png )


Red spins around and steps away from the prisoner immediately, as the goat woman holds out a tablet. "Read this."


"What does it say?"

Red makes a writing gesture, points to its mouth, and flaps it wordlessly and shakes its head. Selene, transfixed by the general area, snaps out of her stunned disbelief. "Stripes can't speak."
"Irritating." The goat woman turns, picks up something resembling a fine-haired brush, and presents it to Red.

As Red takes it, the brush begins to bleed red into its bristles. Red chooses to ignore this for now, and deftly writes a translation of the glyphs into the rune language, annotated onto the engraving.

The goat woman betrays no emotion. "Impressive. Not a charlatan after all. Here's the actual text to translate."

She takes the tablet from Red back, who offers no resistance, and places another into his hands. Far more densely carved with glyphs arranged in a far more complex pattern, Red takes its time to thoroughly read through the labyrinthine snaking twists and turns of the passages, mentally piecing together what it says.

Recipient: Strategist Pattern 4
Sender: Observer Pattern 6
Sc 794.32, sc 0.75

I have reason to suspect that the archival lattices are being tampered with. Not by our usual enemy; entropic corruption is too well guarded against. I can think of two significant populations on the atoll with the capability to execute such skilled infiltration. I am increasing surveillance of segment 7 and deploying additional shards under the pretense of an expected incursion, and I have contacted Observer 5 regarding segment 1. While I am aware nexal consensus would abhor it, I am asking you to consider whether a mass-scale purge of segment 1 may be required as a precaution. I hope this is not in error.

Recipient: Observer Pattern 6
Sender: Strategist Pattern 4
Sc 794.35, sc 0.02

The mistake lies not in the purge of segment 1, but in the ongoing refusal to carry it out. Greater nexal consensus will oppose this course of action, of course. I will arrange for proxies to launch a preliminary strike, enough to raise the abomination's alarm. I will deploy my strongest defences, as part of custodian protocol and to prevent a class I threat. There will be acceptable losses in ensuring that segment 1 peace is kept. Nexal suspicion will not be raised, although I suspect it will be my last act as my fourth iteration.

Red thinks deep and hard about what exactly it should write for its translation, uncertain if this presents an opportunity or another trap.
No. 842107 ID: c88e6d

She can clearly read the language as well, which makes her keeping you around unnecessary except as a curiosity. Translate it for now, continue searching for holes in the floor, ceiling or walls to escape through in your spare time.

She's still clearly crazy and violent so do your best not to make any sudden actions.

Note that you are most likely painting in your own blood with that implement.
No. 842111 ID: 6cd244

The described events concern things happening in segment 1, and we're in segment 2. I don't see any reason not to translate it correctly, and even if we didn't want to we don't know enough to make a useful and convincing fake.
No. 842112 ID: 3ce125

Write down that your name is Red, not Stripes.

Also write down everything as directly as you can. The segment we're in is segment 2, so this information is not directly relevant to whoever this guy is. He seems to be infiltrating and researching the Sentinel technology here...

Actually, I have an idea. Write down what the first message says and then tell him that you have questions you want answered before you give him the second half of the translation.
1. What is this place?
2. What are the Sentinels? What are they fighting against?
3. What's that weird cold thing on the desk and what was the bigger one in the room behind you?
4. What is he doing here? Just research?
5. What's in the specimen's womb? You can feel it, it's unnatural.
No. 842118 ID: 91ee5f

>Write down that your name is Red, not Stripes.
Yeah, good idea.

>Withhold translations and demand answers to questions.
Uhh, I don't think we're in a position to make demands. She could easily kill both Red and Selene.

Let's just translate this for her.
No. 842122 ID: 3ce125

Well sure he could kill Red but then he'd lose his translator. These aren't even sensitive questions, and he can probably refuse to fully answer some of them.
No. 842125 ID: 91ee5f

But what about Selene? I mean, sure, we just met her and we know nothing about her, but I'm pretty sure Red would feel really bad if something he did got her killed!
No. 842129 ID: 41c9bc

Cooperate and translate in full.
No. 842160 ID: 66a4ca

Write that sector 1 was purged without nexal consensus.
No. 842162 ID: 94bef7

The text they want Red to translate is clearly more complex compared to the prior one, which is comparable to a warning sign, which are often designed to be clear and easy to read. They probably can't understand a large chunk of it.
No. 842177 ID: 56fca5

While we might not lack any leverage in this situation, I don't think we should push our luck with this individual. Finish the translation in full, then ask questions.

The text makes it sound as if segments 1 and possibly 7 are dangerous, or at least more so. We should keep this in mind.
No. 842346 ID: 3abd97

You might want to test if you can communicate with Selene, now that you have a writing implement. Can she read anything you can write?

Asking to hold onto the pen might be a good idea, too.

>Red thinks deep and hard about what exactly it should write for its translation, uncertain if this presents an opportunity or another trap.
Transcribe it. She obviously isn't 100% fluent herself, or else she'd have no use for a translator, but she must know something to have confirmed the first test.

There's also the fact you know so little about the situation that you can't lie effectively if you choose to introduce falsehoods into your translation. You don't know what would make sense, or could be exploited to your advantage.
No. 843546 ID: e44c37
File 151018032959.png - (42.36KB , 800x600 , at32.png )

Red pauses to examine the brush it's using to annotate, as well as the fingers it's been using to hold the instrument. The dye does not seem to be blood, being slightly too bright a red, and has a slightly thicker composition.

Red writes down a brief note asking for a blank surface. The goat woman silently nods and hands Red what seems to be a thin slate of marble, free of any markings. Red then annotates the original carving with its translation into the red rune script, and makes a quick jotting on the marble slate.

I would like to clarify some things and ask some questions. My name is Red, not Stripes, this is a misunderstanding. Do you have a name? Where are we, and what is this place? What are the sentinels and what are they fighting against? What is the strange thing on the desk and the eye creature? Why are you here? What is inside the specimen? How do we leave if all the exits are boarded up?

Red hands the carving and the marble plate back to the nameless stranger. She reads the marble plate first, frowning, and then throws it into a corner of the room, a loud clattering as it tumbles onto the stone floor. She then starts reading the annotated carving, nodding slowly.

"Your assistance is appreciated." She deftly snatches the brush from Red's grip.

Red glares and flicks the backs of his hands out to the stranger, pointing to the discarded marble slate.

"I made no promises to answer questions. I promised only not to harm you."

Selene stares in confusion, only experiencing one half of this conversation, and mouthes "what are you doing?" to Red. Red glances back and shrugs apologetically.

"This structure was, as I said earlier, a ritual chamber for use in transporting sentinel assets between strategic locations. It still remains as one, but has fallen into disuse and disrepair ever since this location became destination only. You two are the first to arrive here for at least as long as I've been using this structure. The sentinels are the self-appointed peacekeepers of the atoll, and the jailers to all who dwell within. It is by sentinel action that none of us may leave the atoll. They are fighting against everything that threatens to break their stranglehold over the atoll or anything that could compromise their goal to keep everything and everyone on the atoll and out of the greater surrounding ocean."

The stranger pulls off her strange eyewear, showing one yellow eye and one ruined scarred patch where another eye should be.

"The creatures you speak of are my servants. They do not concern you, and neither does the reason I am here nor, the nature of anything else I am working on. However, your skills," she says, glancing at Red's annotations, "are undeniably useful. If you should encounter mindful beasts of chaos, let them know the Voice of the Alchemist vows for your compliance. Consider this payment for your services."
No. 843547 ID: e44c37
File 151018035217.png - (102.25KB , 800x600 , at33.png )

"Okay, uh, miss," says Selene, "whatever your name is--"
"Voice of the Alchemist, to you."
"Yeah okay whatever, look, why do you have someone chained to the wall?"

The Voice of the Alchemist closes her eyes and rubs her temples. "The awareness ring. I should have paid more attention to that. What is it to you?"
"I'm not a fan of innocent, vulnerable people being held against their will--"
"What do you know of her history? Not everyone held by the sentinels deserves their imprisonment, and no less should you assume innocence based on circumstance! The Voice of the Reclaimer was slain by her talons, and if I wish to transmute a defeated enemy into a useful resource, what of it? Who are you to proclaim otherwise?"
"That's not justice! Justice isn't an eye for an eye!"

The Voice of the Alchemist clenches her fists tightly, her body quivering, before she relaxes and assumes her emotionless demeanour. "You would do well to recall you are here at my mercy, mooncaller."
"Your kind. So rare. Someone like you seems like the sort to be a lonesome drifter looking for a purpose."
"Eh? No wait stop distracting me! What are you doing to her?!"
"Nothing permanently harmful, for certain, unless you and your friend decide to try meddling with the delicate balance of magical systems in this room."
"Stop evading the question!"
"An experiment I haven't the patience or time to explain! I'm not your tutor! What makes you so sure that freeing a highly effective killer will end well for you? Do you understand why I have to keep her barely conscious?"

Red desperately waves its arms trying to de-escalate the situation, to no avail. Selene looks ready to start a fight. As she strikes a pose, light begins to swirl along her arm.

"Stripes! Quick, go rub out that circle under the bird! Or take that hood off or something!"
No. 843550 ID: be0718

Time to rub one out real quick.
No. 843555 ID: 41c9bc

Don't rub out the circle.

Place yourself between Selene and the Alchemist and motion for Selene to stop.
No. 843557 ID: 56fca5

If there was anything actually dangerous we have done, this is it. Decline. There is nothing more you can do here except trip magical traps. If the goat inquires, no more translations. She hardly offered any adequate repayment nor is she making a good attempt to put you each on good terms.

Take the pen. Go back and inspect the teleporter. Maybe she is wrong about it being completely dry and we can teleport to another segment.

When we have a moment, see if you can write in any other language that Selene recognizes. An easy way to do this would be to ask her to write something and see if you can recognize it.
No. 843558 ID: 3ce125

Hell no we're not messing with a captive killer's magical bindings. Stand directly between them, and approach Selene to try to calm her down. Try to get the tablet again and write on it-- tell her it's too risky to interfere. There is something inside the captive that could be dangerous-- that is NOT a baby in there. If Selene can't understand those writings, give her the brush and gesture for her to write something so that you can learn her script.
No. 843561 ID: c88e6d

Try to stop the pair of them from fighting. While Voice of the Alchemist is excessively aggressive and provocative in her behavior, getting into a magical battle in the middle of this lab will most likely just kill the person changed to the wall as well as you and Selene.

Try to stop BOTH of them from fighting, because Voice of the Alchemist will most certainly attack Selene if you get her to lower her weapons without getting the Alchemist to de-escalate as well.
No. 843566 ID: 3abd97

>"Stripes! Quick, go rub out that circle under the bird! Or take that hood off or something!"
Interfering with magical bindings we don't understand, to release someone we can't communicate with, seems like it will only end in escalation and someone getting hurt.

>what do
We're in Voice of the Alchemist's home base, and she has allies / servants, and she alluded to automated defenses before. If Selene attacks, I don't think it will end well for her.

Put yourself in front of your friend, and try to implore her to stop with your eyes. Reach out and take her hand if she'll let you.

If you succeed at stopping immediate violence from breaking out, gesture for Voice of the Alchemist to return the pen. Maybe she'll understand you need words to talk Selene down.
No. 843571 ID: 91ee5f

Put both hands out, one hand towards Voice of the Alchemist and one hand towards Selene, in a "Stop!" kinda gesture.

Then gesture for the pen and something to write on. Write, "Can you read this?" and then show it to Selene. If she can't read it, then gesture for her to write something and you'll read it. Then write, ""Can you read this?" in the script that Selene used. If she can read it, then that's when you start writing your explanation.

>Hell no we're not messing with a captive killer's magical bindings.
I mean, yeah, she's a killer, but that doesn't mean that she's evil. And yet, that also doesn't mean that Voice of the Alchemist and her dead buddy were evil either.

This is one of those situations where due to the lack of information, we're either doing the right thing or we're screwing ourselves over. Unfortunately, we won't know which is the right choice until after we make it.
No. 843592 ID: 91ee5f

Also, write something like, "I know we don't really know each other and we've barley met each other a while ago, but I consider you my friend and I don't want to lose you."
No. 843745 ID: 66a4ca

I'm more worried about the experiment going wrong if we messed something up. It seems quite delicate. The only one who can properly stop the experiment is the goat.

Stop them and find something to write on. Tell the goat that you want to talk to the bird.
No. 844583 ID: 33cbe7

If Ash Ketchum taught us anything, it's that getting between them just means taking two hits at once. Instead of a dual martyrdom, tackle Selene and don't let go.
No. 860275 ID: 7c55ee
File 151658866548.png - (28.91KB , 800x600 , at34.png )

Selene swings her arms around in front of her as the swirling energy leaps from her left arm to her right. It crystallizes into a opalescent blade, which she points towards the Voice of the Alchemist.

Red runs to intervene, rapidly waving its hands and shaking its head as it desperately, desperately tries to make it clear that this is perhaps not the best plan for her to take.

"Stripes no! No you're in the way, stand aside! Look, she's clearly doing so many wrong things I have a moral obligation to make her stop!"
"Many before you have tried, and many before you have failed. I did not lie about my defenses. However, you are a threat to many of the more vulnerable and delicate operations I have here and--"

Selene swipes over Red's head at the Voice of the Alchemist. The tip of Red's raised left ear is neatly sliced off as her weapon swings, and an unexplained sense of weakness buckles Red's knees, sending it to the floor.

Red does not have time enough to fully process the next seconds to follow. It sees the weapon break into shards of glassy light on impact with the Voice of the Alchemist, who, in a guttural growl, begins screaming words Red cannot understand, accompanied by the sounds of something cracking and bowing. Selene's face changes from angry determination to fearful shock, and Red's ear begins to hurt--
No. 860276 ID: 7c55ee
File 151658868311.png - (3.16KB , 800x600 , at35.png )

Everything becomes a soundless explosion of light. The silence deafens, cold, numbing, and then all is but shining brightness.
No. 860277 ID: 7c55ee
File 151658869756.png - (206.40KB , 800x600 , at36.png )

The sky is aflame with the brilliance of the setting sun. Few clouds in the sky mask the twilight flowing over the atoll. Distantly visible, an island floats above the lagoon, so far away.

Red realises that first, it is still alive, and from its current perspective, is probably staring up at the sky, on the ground. The ground feels unpleasantly thick and malleable and it finds itself lying supine on a dense mesh of matted burgundy fibres, swaying in the wind.

Red realises that there is no wind. The fibres still move.
No. 860278 ID: 7c55ee
File 151658871657.png - (224.77KB , 800x600 , at37.png )

Upon hastily standing up Red staggers a little, a faint headache from the shock of stimuli it experienced... at some point, previously. It was daylight not long ago. Red does not know how long it was out. Long enough for night to approach. The same day? Days?

The depression left in the spongy floor quickly vanishes, flattened fibres quickly reaffirming their position. They all seem to undulate toward Red.

Red reaches at its ear, and winces, its injury apparently still fresh and tender. It can't have been long, it thinks. Maybe Selene is somewhere nearby.
No. 860279 ID: 7c55ee
File 151658873885.png - (177.84KB , 800x600 , at38.png )

A strange fuzziness forms as it touches its injured ear. It looks to see what now coats its hand.

A fizzing, frothing gold-blue mass, shining as it bubbles, never quite settling on foam or liquid. As Red watches, the glow subsides, the mass slows down, and congeals into a gel.

Red notices more of this fluid on its left arm, in strange scratch formations. It brushes the fluid off and gasps as it finds the area incredibly painful to touch.

As Red sweeps the fluid away, more seems to very slowly ooze from its arm to replace it. Sparkling drops fall onto the fibres below and strange structures seem to sprout from the ground where they splash.
No. 860280 ID: 7c55ee
File 151658874753.png - (110.42KB , 800x600 , at39.png )

Red isn't sure what to do at this point. It rubs the congealed fluid off of its hands, and while it stares at the phosphorescence of the fading mass on its arm, it too gels over. The glow is ever more noticeable as the sun continues to set.

Red realises it is perhaps not alone out in this field of fibrous masses. It seems all this glowing may have attracted attention.
No. 860282 ID: a363ac

zombies get away from them
No. 860283 ID: 33cbe7

Eat the sprouts to regain the energy you're dripping.
No. 860286 ID: 3ce125

I think you're leaking life energy. Don't touch your injuries for now.

Watch the red figures, see what they do. They look just like you, don't they? If your "blood" can create structures, I wonder if you created those red copies of yourself as you slept? Or maybe the red fiber did it on its own.
If they seem hostile you should run. If they simply seem curious you should allow them to approach.
No. 860288 ID: 3abd97

Ah too bad, you didn't prevent a violent confrontation.

>Maybe Selene is somewhere nearby.
If you're lucky, she's still alive, too.

Stand and observe the creatures. Let's see if they attempt to talk or interact with you, or if they react with hostility.
No. 860307 ID: 6cd244

None of those guys seem to be armed or anything, so you probably shouldn't be too scared just yet. That said, Selene just kind of turned her arm into a magic sword so maybe be at least a little wary. As for her well-being, you were injured pretty easily in the fight but were fine after the resulting explosion, so she's probably fine. Keep an eye out for any more poles she might have wound up trapped on. Actually, can you even see that big tower from where you are?
No. 860331 ID: 130855

Be careful around those red guys. They look a bit skeevy.
No. 860397 ID: 6cc25a

No. 860402 ID: cc5f4f

... I don't know what that is, Red, but I can assume it's an analog for blood, which is best kept within your body. You may be more magical than I thought you are, Red.

Wave at them.
No. 860406 ID: 56fca5

The one looking in your direction doesn't seem the friendliest. Be ready to run!
No. 860415 ID: ad51b8

probably a good idea to avoid people for now until you stop glowing and/or find something to defend yourself with. I mean we just found out that not everyone is friendly so probably best to just avoid those messes all together for now.
No. 860458 ID: b15da4

Shimmy into the cilia. I hope you're not ticklish.
No. 860545 ID: c88e6d

The fluid seeping from you is your lifeblood. You are bleeding badly. Try and apply pressure to your injuries. Wave at the strangers. You are in danger without assistance. Maybe one day you'll get lucky and the strangers you meet won't be crazy or injure you while trying to kill other strangers.
No. 871599 ID: 138717
File 152021146026.png - (74.53KB , 800x600 , at40.png )

Red quickly pulls one of the sprouts from the ground, the one with the dark red cap and small scattering of pits. Just as its tongue makes contact with the sprout it recoils and spits out the most vile sour bitter unpleasantness it has ever tasted. It realises that this is the first thing it ever has tasted, but is at least aware that edible objects tend to not taste like burning misery.

It quickly plucks a second sprout, taller and paler, as it picks up the trio of figures slowly approaching in the distance. Red's sight works as well in the growing gloom of twilight as in the day, and its ears swivel towards the approaching strangers. Their walking rhythms are synchronised.

The second sprout tastes much more pleasant, savoury with a soft fleshy texture. An incredible palate cleanser after the last. Red's headache seems to fade. It stuffs the rest of the sprout into its mouth and decides to let the strange cuplike sprout be.
No. 871602 ID: 138717
File 152021150317.png - (26.60KB , 800x600 , at41.png )

Red wanders into the cilial overgrowth, keeping a hand over its arm injury. While the fizzing, congealing substance appears to be subsiding in glow and activity, it decides it is perhaps best for its body fluids to stay within its body. It keeps an eye out for the figures until they blur from view, hidden behind the thick patch of tall, undulating red tendrils.

The ones softly stroking Red's body send shivers through its spine. It tries not to make a sound, before realising that this will not even require conscious effort. The strange organic growths seem to rub against Red intentionally, and the soft strokes start to very quickly become entangling snares before Red is even able to react.

The ground seems to open up beneath Red, and it does not have a chance to so much as yelp before it is pulled down into a roiling mass of red.
No. 871603 ID: 138717
File 152021151760.png - (76.93KB , 800x600 , at42.png )

Swallowed by the writhing mass, Red gasps in pain and shock as the world above seals itself away. The wounds in its ear and arm, already painful and delicate, now burn in agony as the red cilia try their hardest to pry the wounds open. Red can hear the fizzing, sparking sounds of its own lifeblood seeping out as the determined tendrils all but try to climb inside its wounds.

Tears stream down Red's face from the pain and the horror of the situation, but its screams are nothing but forced breaths, silent as always. Some of the tendrils try to enter its mouth as it screams and Red snaps its jaws shut, severing the intruding fibres completely. Red spits them out, the foul acrid taste of the dark cap sprout tasting only further magnified here.

Red struggles violently, tooth and claw it never knew it had ripping and shredding through the violent fibrous storm. The more it struggles, the more animated the seemingly endless cluster becomes in response, determined above all else to rip open Red's wounds even wider. The pain is excruciating.

After more thrashing, finally Red frees itself from the tendrils. In this underground pocket where once there were many of them, now Red finds itself panting and in overwhelming pain as its forced open wounds bleed onto broken fibres. Where it bleeds, the fibres spring back to life, but weakly, and only momentarily.
No. 871605 ID: 138717
File 152021153711.png - (96.23KB , 800x600 , at43.png )

The ground opens up, and Red is hoisted out of the pocket and thrown to the matted ground by the red creatures from before.

Red starts to get up, when something sharply hits it from behind. Thrown onto the ground, Red spins over, only for one of the red foxlike creatures to grab Red by the snout and slam Red's head against the floor.

The other red creatures start to surround Red and time becomes incredibly hazy as all becomes greater suffering. Already injured, the vicious creatures start beating Red with kicks, silently and wordlessly. From what little Red can catch as it flinches away from their blows, they stare with cold, uncaring eyes, no trace of anger on their features. If anything, they seem bored.

After some length of time -- far too long, by any means -- two of them hoist Red over their shoulders, bruised and battered. They walk to the edge of the red fibrous mat, and throw Red into the sandy dirt with enough force that Red tumbles along.

One of the creatures shouts flatly, with volume but no passion, "First warning. Last warning. Do not be here."

They all turn to leave as one cohesive unit, and walk away.

Red lies face down in the sand, choking and cough as it extricates its face from the earth. It catches its breath and quietly sobs into the sand, shivering. Its wounds still scream in pain, even though the bleeding appears to have stopped again. It tries, with much pain and repeated tries, to get back to its feet, to get away from this terrible, terrible place.

Red watches the moon rise, gibbous, as light shies away from the waking world. It staggers in the direction of the moon, unsure where it is going, but wanting to go anywhere else.
No. 871606 ID: 138717
File 152021156249.png - (217.52KB , 800x600 , at44.png )

After limping along for what feels like an hour, Red stops, resting on the beach-soil of the atoll as its injuries prove too tiring to continue on.

Whatever discontinuity Red encountered that brought it to its prior place, it wasn't very restful. Red is tired and exhausted. Lying on the ground, Red considers sleep, and finds that its tired body makes the decision for it.

Red dreams, for the first time as far as it is aware.

In its dream, Red floats within some fluid medium, incredibly thick air or the most flowing liquid imaginable. Red breathes fine but feels the fluid flowing over its body in swirling currents.

Red's heartbeat almost sounds like a steady rhythmic chant in a language older than the atoll, older than the sentinels. Red listens to its own body speak to it in words forged of heartbeats, of muscle contractions, of blood coursing through veins, of the flow of air inside its lungs.

The body asks a question. A slow, ponderous question asked far quicker than it would ever take beats of its heart to articulate. It is filled with life, it tells Red. Filled far too full. The raw essence of life itself. Far more than it needs to sustain itself. Red's body, Red itself. In the dream, the perspective is confusing, separate yet identical. Component and whole. Red sees itself as an observer of itself as well as its organism. And the organism asks the observer, can we shed some of this life, this substance we hoard for no adequately explained reason?

The observer Red is confused, asking itself why hoarding such density of life would be cause for problems, and Red's arm yells about the danger and the vulnerability, the glowing beacon of treasure that Red's body represents. Lancing Red's very lifeblood out will lead to the uncontrolled creation of life in every space available, and that there is a much simpler solution. The controlled creation of life.

Red's organs seem to mutter in dissent. A falsehood, of course, for Red is acutely aware organs other than the brain do not think, even if it is completely unclear as to why it knows that. Within the dream, Red's organs protest, asking why Red's brain should be so special. The organism consensus explains that it is in the nature of organisms to create more, and as Red lives, so too should it not hoard this gross excess.

Impatient, Red's heart beats faster, its words louder. It explains, to itself, to the body politic of Red, to the silent observer that is also Red, that perhaps Red should consider being able to either grow life within its body or plant life into the bodies of others suited for the task. Or, perhaps, to remain without reproductive organs of either known sex, and to find some new way to create life in controlled ways.
No. 871616 ID: b1b4f3

Well that was a bad idea!

Planting life within others seems like the best way to shed excess lifeforce. After all, growing life takes time so doing it yourself will be a bottleneck. Implanting life within multiple people means you can shed it more quickly.
No. 871617 ID: c79773

It is indeed an injustice of the greatest magnitude that that wealth with which we now find ourselves, the impetus of life itself, is confined to our single integument. But our duty to cure the paucity of being which we see before us needs not be an onus; While the assumption of a physical aspect analogous to that of a sexed being is of benefit to the dissemination of our essence, to our conjoint selves we must reserve the faculty for the creation of life independent of the mechanisms of the flesh.

how's that for an answer :3
No. 871619 ID: 3abd97

Well it seems like moving into the red growth was the worst move we could have made in the situation. I'm surprised we were spared, actually.

The three things moving in unison seem connected to the growth? Guards, limbs, part of a whole. They removed you when you did damage to the tendrils on the inside.

>And the organism asks the observer, can we shed some of this life, this substance we hoard for no adequately explained reason?
Perhaps we should consider the value of this substance, try to determine why we hoard so much? Perhaps there is good reason, and we are merely ignorant of it for now.

Can this force be harnessed or turned to any useful end? That might be better than simply creating new life. Life, once separate from ourselves, might act in unexpected ways, especially as we lack the ability for verbal communication.
No. 871625 ID: 62e66c

Does the decision have to be made now? If not, it might be good to hold off until knowing more.
No. 871627 ID: 56e50f

A task as heavy as a creation of life should not be left to gestation, neither our own or another's. No.. the life we bring forth into the world should be by means of the stories we create. Told by the books we write, the art we paint and the words we speak. Give us not a choice in reproduction, Grant us voice.
No. 871628 ID: 56fca5

Blaze a new trail. Adapt in ways others will not expect. If there is another way to create life, we will find it and make it ours. This world is enigmatic to us, we must be enigmatic to it.
No. 871629 ID: b1b4f3

Wait, can we choose both?
No. 871632 ID: 08d49f

Can we get an alien chest-burster style reproduction?
No. 871637 ID: 08d49f

You know, a parasitic one, where we plant "eggs" in victims which then consume them from inside.
I'd also like to stay androgynos if possible.
No. 871642 ID: d2e2ce

Traumatic insemination via retractable claws.
No. 871644 ID: 33cbe7

Full-body mitosis! Clearly the most spectacular and self-sufficient form of reproduction.
No. 871651 ID: 31b497

Grow life within. That way you're able to look after it instead of sowing your excess lifeforce oats all over the place.
No. 871652 ID: 6cd244

You need to consider what to actually do with the life forms you create here once they come into being. You're pretty clearly incompetent at keeping yourself safe, so I doubt that you really have what it takes to raise a child in this horribly dangerous environment. Whatever sort of weird magic spawn you produce are best off placed in the care of people you find who you can trust, and who are much better candidates for protecting them. You're going to, of course, have to convince them to do this, so the trust will have to be mutual. So, you know, explore the world, meet some cool women who can take care of themselves, and ask them out on a date. Like some kind of romance quest.
No. 871693 ID: b0879a

I'm glad some people realize we're being asked what gender we want to become.

Is say we go about this hentai style, Tentacle rape!

or this
or maybe we reproduce via the Ork method. No gender for us.
No. 871696 ID: cc5f4f

What if deposit the life force in the earth, where it will be safe, where it can be retrieved and removed.
No. 871697 ID: cc5f4f

Maybe growing into a little tree or herb that will bear the offspring.
No. 871710 ID: 05ff2f

Grow life within yourself. Pour your great abundance of life into creating a abundance of new lives where you can protect and nurture them.
No. 871711 ID: caf1de

when we die we split into two new forms that have all the memories and knowledge of the original and down the line anyone of the many branching offspring can fuse back together to share new memories and health for healing before almost immediately splitting into the same two forms they had before the merge
we will be a weird and unique creature unlike any this world or quest has seen before
No. 871715 ID: 91ee5f

>that perhaps Red should consider being able to either grow life within its body or plant life into the bodies of others suited for the task. Or, perhaps, to remain without reproductive organs of either known sex, and to find some new way to create life in controlled ways.
Grow life within yourself.
No. 871754 ID: a363ac

No. 871755 ID: 1f4fbd

Plant life into others male?
No. 871759 ID: 1f4fbd

Oh seeing into it again, defer
No. 871763 ID: b15da4

Instead of creating new life, channel this extra life energy into a rapid mutation ability. If you are going to shine like a beacon full of treasure wrapped in delicious candy, you should be prepared to defend that treasure, albeit by tapping into it.
No. 871916 ID: c88e6d

We should learn to produce life internally, then create more like ourselves that we can form a community and defend ourselves. And perhaps it will be our turn to kick some faces, some day, that others may be saved from the suffering we have experienced in our brief and confusingly unhappy existence.
No. 871950 ID: dbef3c

How did the thing from... "the Thing" reproduce? Can we get that?
No. 872004 ID: 138717
File 152037731681.png - (210.77KB , 800x600 , at45.png )

Red considers its options, and the dream shifts. Red finds itself beside itself, one evidently male, another evidently female. From nowhere, budding potential organs that do not exist speak to Red. Proto-male organs, proto-female organs and proto-planting organs, all lurking within Red's body as unrealised potential, as clumps of life energy slowly wishing for form. They explain that they will present their cases for why Red should favour them over the other alternatives, in a bid to be fully realised as flesh. Red asks why it cannot manifest all such organs, and is met with answers of incompatible locations and mutually conflicting concepts that could lead to damaged or inoperative organs.

Red's sexed selves connect and copulate. Red experiences a passionate throe from two perspectives, its selves gasping as motion and sensation alike both build to a climax at an unexpectedly fast pace. The proto-male organs yell triumphantly about the passion and pleasure it provides above the alternative, and of how little it needs contribute to the creation of life. Fluids are transferred with strange efficiency. The proto-female organs shout that nothing can compare to the security of growing life within, and that the proto-male organs do not even allow for the creation of life without pre-existing vessels. Males would not even be necessary, they add, as parthenogenesis with so much life energy is well within reach.

Meanwhile, a neuter Red wanders the dreamscape, brushing seed-spores from its belly and groin onto the ethereal ground of the dream space. The proto-planting organ does not offer much discussion to explain its processes, mentioning only that it is a simpler process and one that requires no mate, no special condition or investment. The planting Red watches the writhing couple in mild confusion and bemusement.
No. 872005 ID: 138717
File 152037733298.png - (160.24KB , 800x600 , at46.png )

Time rotates in a discontiguous fashion. The female Red, now heavily swollen with the product of the prior union, sweats and groans as her organs prepare for a final stage. The proto-female organs admit that this situation is not ideal, and the proto-male organs mutter about the vulnerability and helplessness of the pregnant female form. The proto-female organs take umbrage at this suggestion, claiming that organs extending out into the external world are always at greater risk than organs held within the safety and warmth of the body, but the argument is cut short as the proto-female organs get to work expelling new life. Red can feel every part of it, and wonders what it did to deserve this situation.

The male Red takes a place before the female, uncertain and anxious. The proto-male organs simply point out that the male Red is not suffering in this process whatsoever. The proto-female organs take a moment to interject that the proto-male organs will likely not result in the evident arrogance and smugness exhibited if Red chooses male sex over female sex, and that if they can't convince Red of female sex and a reproductive life free of reliance on others, they aren't going to try any further.

The neuter Red stares at a shrub of fox heads asynchronously blinking back at it. The proto-planting organs babble confusedly about this not meaning to happen, and that maybe the seeds were planted wrong or the soil wasn't right. This wasn't supposed to happen but the proto-planting organs aren't even sure what they were trying to do. There is evidently room for improvement, they are hasty to add, and this outcome is not indicative of the final product. The head shrub droops and the heads drool blankly.
No. 872006 ID: 138717
File 152037735430.png - (234.21KB , 800x600 , at47.png )

All three Red forms disappear into the swirling ether as Red angrily says that enough is enough. It asks its brain for its input.

Red's brain politely and calmly informs it that brains are organs, and organs do not speak.
Red can't figure out a way to glare at its own brain, which mutters that it'd rather stay as far away from this whole pointless debacle as it can.

Red's heart throbs with annoyance, threatening to slow Red's brain's lifeblood supply to a standstill if it continues to be so obstinate. Red's lungs swell in agreement.
Red's brain performs some sort of action that Red has no frame of reference to describe or even experience, and elects to suggest that perhaps reproduction is the very least of the greater organism's concern, with so many injuries and such vulnerabilities. Reproduction inevitably leads to further vulnerabilities, either internal or external, and Red would be best suited shelving this matter for now.

The protoplasm coursing through Red offers a sudden and unexpected insight. It tells Red that clearly it feels it can do more than simply nourish Red and act as acceleration for propagation. Red is filled with the essence of life itself, and is filled with the dreams of hopeful potential organs and glands that seek to become flesh, to serve the greater organism.

Red is confused, but its blood continues. It does not simply have creative potential within Red, but mutative. It gently asks Red what organ improvements or new organs it would desire above all else. It makes note that this mutative power is not a simple easily reversible shapeshift, and that whatever changes are made will be incredibly difficult to undo.

Red says a voice. Its lifeblood flows slower for but a brief moment. It mournfully mumbles that whatever force prevents Red from speaking, it cannot bypass.
Red's brain pointedly says nothing, and abruptly mentions it knows nothing of this issue, without prompting. Red is suspicious, but finds it cannot convince its own brain to release whatever secrets it clings to.

Red frowns, and tries to think of some other improvement to its body.

1. New internal/external organ (describe functionality)
2. Enhance brain (faster planning relative to realtime, greater insights into complex situations)
3. Enhance eyes (can see further, can see in all but total pitch darkness)
4. Enhance ears (can hear even further, can process better)
4. Enhance nose/tongue (can better identify sources of smell/taste as well as intuitive insight into what they are)
6. Enhance thaumid (better magic detection and more intuition into the nature of magic)
7. Enhance heart (speed regeneration of wounds)
8. Enhance lungs (allow for holding breath for up to an hour)
9. Enhance gut (allow for the processing of food into new lifeblood, currently just absorbs food as mass)
10. Enhance bones (much harder to break or injure)
11. Enhance leg muscles (stronger kicks, faster sprints, more stamina moving)
12. Enhance arm & back muscles (stronger punches, carry stronger loads, more stamina carrying things)
13. Enhance glands (faster instinctual reaction to danger, faster counteracting effects to harmful substances)
14. Enhance tail (long and fluffier, better balance, probably useless)
15. Enhance fur (comparatively rapid adaptation to hotter and colder temperatures)
16. Enhance blood (insufficient understanding)

No. 872009 ID: a363ac

1. Udder that leaks life energy that will heal Red people who consume it.
No. 872012 ID: 6cd244

14 or 15, now hear me out on this. We're in a dangerous world, mostly helpless, and separated from our only friend who was apparently a hundred times stronger than we were in a fight. Being alone out here is going to kill us, even if we do make incremental improvements. So let's focus on attracting more friends! We need to be soft and fluffy and lovable so people will feel the need to sympathize and protect us!
No. 872023 ID: c88e6d

2. Enhance brain to better understand what the hell is going on.

Then 16. Enhance Blood to enhance our ability to bestow life.

At that point we can 7. Enhance Heart, allowing us to heal these injuries.

Once all that is done, THEN we can figure out reproduction because we're kind of bleeding onto the ground right no-

>Bleeding onto the ground
We're going to wake up covered in plants aren't we.
No. 872025 ID: 138717
File 152038005179.png - (9.60KB , 447x238 , sai_2018-03-06_22-17-31.png )

No. 872026 ID: deec6e

9 and 14
No. 872027 ID: 1561e1

Heart, arm&
No. 872028 ID: cb585b

Two and Seven, because a better brain overall cant really go wrong, and faster healing is another good route to take, the rest we can slowly upgrade as we need them
No. 872031 ID: 33cbe7

This was clearly the best plan(t).

Enhance gut and tail. Remember that pole Selene got stuck on? Balance is important. Even more importantly, FLUFFY TAIL.
No. 872035 ID: dbef3c


No reason other that now we're alone and need something to hug.

No. 872036 ID: ad51b8

2 & 7
No. 872038 ID: b1b4f3

No. 872045 ID: 91ee5f

>The neuter Red stares at a shrub of fox heads asynchronously blinking back at it.
Maybe you shouldn’t have planted all of those seeds in the same spot? Try putting some space between the seeds next time.

>Choose gender later because it’s not important right now.
Yeah, let’s choose later.

>Still can’t get a voice
Oh come the fuck on!

2. Enhance Brain because with our luck, we’re going to keep running into complex problems that need to be solved.

7. Enhance Heart because right now we’ve taken a lot of damage and healing all of that should be a priority.
No. 872049 ID: a363ac

add tail 14
No. 872071 ID: 56fca5

14 and 9.
No. 872103 ID: aaa205

Enhance gut - You gotta have huge guts. We did lose a lot of life blood.
Enhance arms and back - To defend Red better.
No. 872120 ID: 830fb7

No. 872122 ID: cc5f4f

7, 12
No. 872132 ID: 5c850a

2 and 7. we can make ourselves harder better faster stronger later, right now we need brain power and regen.
No. 872138 ID: 39a82b

I still say we go for mitosis but whatever man.


I'll be serious now.
2. Enhance brain
7. Enhance heart
No. 872141 ID: 05ff2f

9. Enhance gut
While right now your overabundance of Lifeblood is a problem in that it attracts those that covet it, it also contains great power, and not just to alter your form. Being able to create more Lifeblood once you've used up your current excess will be valuable to you. It'd also mean you can replace lost Lifeblood if you bleed a lot of it or have to use up a lot. And if better guts means you can safely digest foods you couldn't before, then even better.

7. Enhance heart
Besides being a big help in your current situation, being able to heal faster from injury is just generally good. It'd also help keep more of your Lifeblood inside you if you do get wounded.
No. 872170 ID: caf1de

Enhance Knockers
Enhance Thicc
Enhance Blood so we can Enhance our ability to Enhance
Enhance health and then bone claws we'll get the adamantium later
or you know the ability to actually eat instead of just getting fatter fatty fatty no-parents
No. 872198 ID: 006e5c

1. Wings
No. 872214 ID: 8d480a

15. Be the coolest fox with the best fur
No. 872225 ID: e1c8f7

7 and 16

The less time we're in the dirt, the better. We have our gift, lets grow it.
No. 872232 ID: d2e2ce

14. Enhance tail
15. Enhance fur
No. 872261 ID: ca332d

7, 9
Our lifeblood is our greatest gift. We should make sure we can take full advantage of it.
No. 872383 ID: 3abd97

Tail and brain
No. 872457 ID: 810a1a

7. Enhance heart
Because c'mon guys, regeneration perks are always useful.

2. Enhance Brain
While we have an edge by knowing the facility's language, this'll improve our progress and chances in general.
No. 872485 ID: de6d84

2 and 14
No. 872545 ID: a6dc58

2 & 6
No. 872697 ID: 664b03
File 152065479679.png - (71.74KB , 800x600 , at48.png )

Enhancements: Heart and tail are now rank 2.

Red wakes, aching, to the sound of waves in the distance. The ocean beyond lapping against the beach beyond.
Its injuries seem mostly healed, and its heartbeat feels... off. Not wrong, not painful, but almost as if it's stronger. It takes very little time to get used to this new internal sensation, but Red feels strangely warm and comforted for a moment.

Red notices its tail now seems to be three or four times longer. It also seems to have more conscious muscle control over it. The tail is not fully prehensile, but definitely feels more flexible.
It also feels softer and fluffier than before, but deep down Red is concerned about it dragging on the ground or having to constantly keep it raised.

Red decides to continue wandering. Despite needing sleep, it finds, while expecting to feel hungry and thirsty in the morning, it feels fine. Food and water feel like they would be pleasant to consume, but there is no dire need. Red assumes its strange abundance of life energy means consumption of foreign substances is a luxury and not a necessity.

It definitely feels aching in its muscles as it wanders onwards.

The morning air is surprisingly cold, and Red shivers. Its fur poofs up, pathetically.
No. 872699 ID: 664b03
File 152065480825.png - (125.43KB , 800x600 , at49.png )

After what feels like an hour of forward wandering, Red arrives at a a strange sight, with solid crystals forming up from the ground in strange fractal patterns.

Red also spies a strange blue crystal, hovering in the sky. The crystal drifts gently towards Red. It speaks in a gentle but direct voice, androgynous and synthetic. The vibrations of the voice within the crystal add a faint reverberating edge to its words.

"Administrative segment 3 is currently categorised as Inimical (Life). Please turn back and make no further effort to enter this segment. Thank you for your co-operation."

Assuming that "inimical to life" is a bad thing, and deciding not to get on the bad side of any more bad things if it can help it, Red turns to leave. Perhaps, reasons Red, if it can simply walk to the side half in the lagoon of the angry redder fox land, it can just walk past their entire territory without drawing their ire. Their borders seemed to be marked by the edge of the burgundy growth on the ground.
No. 872700 ID: 664b03
File 152065482578.png - (76.64KB , 800x600 , at50.png )

Red does not wander for long until it sees another lone wanderer, heading towards the forest Red just turned from. Red can't make our their features too easily, and starts to walk towards them.

As Red gets closer the other wanderer seems to be limping worse than Red, and appears very strangely similar to Red as well. A vulpine form, around Red's height unlike the taller redder brutes that so cruelly harmed it. However, it appears to have fur the same black shade as the Voice of the Alchemist had. Its snout and ears appear to be shaped differently, and its eyes definitely do not resemble what Red has seen of its own reflection in polished brass and still water.

The figure stumbles forward into the sandy dirt, and Red struggles towards them as fast as it can.

Reaching the collapsed figure, Red wastes no time in trying to help it to stand, as the figure grunts and groans, tears streaming down its face.
No. 872701 ID: 664b03
File 152065484603.png - (88.39KB , 800x600 , at51.png )

The strange fox shivers, its sky blue eyes staring deeply into Red's own. "Did... did you just... help me?"

Red nods.

"Everything wants... everything wants me dead, everything keeps trying to hurt me, just... I didn't... I just..."

The strange fox trails off and bursts into tears. Red feels its eyes well with tears also in sympathy and empathy, and hugs the strange fox, wishing only that it could somehow scream "me too". The strange fox reciprocates the hug and sobs even harder.

Red can't speak, but finds it can just about curl its tail around this (surprisingly soft and incredibly vulnerable) figure. With a sudden stab of realisation Red notices its hug is perhaps a little too intimate, lingering strange feelings and thoughts from its dream of procreation, but as featureless groin meets featureless groin, Red reasons it probably doesn't matter.

Red is suddenly grateful it can't talk as it is sure this would have been the point where it began nervously babbling apologies and making things more awkward, but the strange nameless fox appears only comforted. Perhaps innocent of any other context, perhaps too caught up in emotional relief to even notice. Red feels guilty for having even considered this matter itself and tightens its hug around this shaking, weeping creature, this... kindred spirit in a world of confusing threats.
No. 872702 ID: 664b03
File 152065487495.png - (98.88KB , 800x600 , at52.png )

Before the hug ends, Red closes its eyes and focuses on the magical ambience it can feel from this other fox. It feels very much like the strange and unpleasant energies it felt in the Alchemist's laboratory, but with a strange softness on top. Almost as if something raw and horrible has been tempered, or if something soft and gentle has been struggling to resist some kind of magical infection.
It is a strange feeling of dissonance, flowers among baleful thorns. Red finds it fascinating.

As the hug ends Red notices it continues to keep a physical contact with the other fox. It waits to gauge a reaction from the other fox but it makes no move away, and Red remains a little tense, concerned it may be going too far.

"Sorry, I didn't... I didn't even ask you for your name, did I?"

Red sighs, and tries to mime that it can't speak using an elaborate series of mouth flaps, head shakes and a few hand gestures that only seem to confuse the other fox more.

"Can... can you talk?"

Red shakes its head gently.

"Oh. I guess... uh... will..." The other fox looks around, and looks over Red. "Hm. Can you write?"

Red stares at the sand as it feels like the biggest idiot imaginable, and eagerly crouches down, tracing its name into the sand in the writing script of the sentinels.

"...oh... I don't know that language..."

Red eagerly continues to write its name in the strange script it saw written on the Alchemist's avian prisoner and what it wrote to her.

The other fox looks alarmed, but nods and reads it. "Red. I like that name. My name is Sable."

Red nods enthusiastically, and writes "Sable" down in both of the scripts it knows. Sable looks down at the inscrutable glyphs and nods gently.

"I was formed through a chaos magic ritual, and the sentinels keep trying to purge me of `entropic corruption', and I don't know what any of this means because I've only been alive for a few days now. All I know is I was being prepared as some sort of sacrifice for a larger ritual and I've been running ever since, and you're the first thing I've found to not try and kill me on sight." Sable looks a little alarmed. "I'm just-- I'm just telling you things because I want to make it clear I haven't done anything wrong that I know of! Please don't hurt me I'm sorry!"

Sable suddenly winces and stumbles back, clutching its side.
No. 872703 ID: 664b03
File 152065488774.png - (80.53KB , 800x600 , at53.png )

Red notices that Sable seems to have a bloody wound in its side, and gently lifts Sable's arm, gesturing to it in concern. Sable looks scared and mumbles "I don't know what to do," trembling. "I'm hungry, thirsty, wounded, I have nowhere to go, and all I want to do is not die."

Red stares at the strange black fluid slowly oozing out of the wound and casually wonders what the upper limit of strange magical foxes with weird blood on the atoll might be. For all Red knows perhaps it and Sable are siblings or cousins of some sort.

Red realises it also doesn't know what to do.
No. 872704 ID: d2e2ce

Mercy kill it. More food for you.
No. 872706 ID: b1b4f3

It's possible sharing some of your life-blood will help. Bite a fingertip and uh... either apply it to the wound or let Sable drink it.
No. 872707 ID: c88e6d

Wound yourself. Give up some of your Life to heal this creature. We can Enhance Our Guts later to produce Life to replace it, but for now we need to Offer To Heal Our New Friend.
No. 872711 ID: 1561e1

see if you can give it some of your life. Only a little bit, though. Don't overdo it. You just got severely injured.
No. 872724 ID: 33cbe7

Get matching claw wounds. You can be blood sisters!
No. 872734 ID: 05ff2f

Hold up before you go about bleeding yourself and applying your life charged blood to Sable in a attempt to heal it. You don't have any idea how the life energy will react to the chaotic and/or entropic energy that's likely coursing through Sable's blood. Might heal it, might hurt it, might do something totally chaotic and unpredictable. To be safe, drop a sample of Sable's blood on a rock or something and drip a drop of your blood on it to test how they react before even thinking about applying your blood to Sable.

Write for Sable that you're less than two days old and don't know what happened to create you. You do know you're chock full of life energy so you're thinking your blood might heal its wound. ...Or its blood might explode in a violent reaction between life and entropic energy. Or negate each other. Or something else entirely. You have no idea. You'll need to test how a drop of its blood reacts to a drop of yours first to be safe. ...Actually, it'd probably be much safer to just help Sable along and search for bandages instead of risking mixing magics like that.

Write to ask what places Sable has been. Maybe it saw a teleport platform along the way and you two could use that to get out of this area. ...Though it would likely lockout due to Sable's "entropic corruption."

Also ask if it was that trio of nasty red fox-like creatures that gave Sable that gash.

Write that you're so glad you met Sable and that we don't have to be alone facing all this.
No. 872737 ID: 776273

Seriously? People actually went for the tail? I suppose it could turn out to be one of those "seems useless but becomes invaluable latter on" kind of deals but I'm just waiting for it to actually be useless and for something to rip it off.

I say we go somewhere else, preferably somewhere with water and maybe even food, before we start doing blood experiments that could be dangerous to Sable/ourselves.
No. 872739 ID: ad51b8

well you can probably let them lean on you while the two of you wonder the beach looking for somewhere safe to rest.
No. 872744 ID: e1c8f7

Let's relocate. Put your arm around their shoulder and help them get to a safer, secluded spot by some water.
No. 872761 ID: bd798e

Do they appear genuine? Help them in any way you can think of. You're kinda in this together.
No. 872765 ID: a363ac

try to will life energy into Sable. if that doesn't work a little bit of blood might help try scratching into your non-dominate palm.
No. 872780 ID: 3abd97

Well the crystal thing is a lot politer about warding you off than the red tendril things were.

>The other fox looks alarmed
That script must have some kind of bad connotation. Not surprising, really, given the circumstances in which you saw it.

>Seems to have a bloody wound in its side
Hmm. Those seem kinda small after a run-in with the tentacle things.

>Red realizes it also doesn't know what to do.
Well, we don't have anything to clean the wound with. We don't have any kind of material to bind the wound with to stop the bleeding either. We could try and harvest some of the red tendrils for this purpose, but they probably aren't sanitary and that would probably incite the tendrils and red foxes to retaliate.

Keeping pressure on it should keep the bleeding down till it clots, at least.

Once the immediate problems of injuries are sorted out, I feel like we should be drawing a map in the sand. Maybe with Sable's input you can figure out which direction seems promising to explore.
No. 872829 ID: 6cd244

The fact that we just happened to meet someone that looks almost like our photo negative, who seems to have some kind of opposite blood to you and even has the big fluffy tail you do. This is suspicious, and while I suspect they mean no harm, they very well be some sort of unwitting creation of someone who's been watching you, and hopes that you're going to do something weird with it. It said it was supposed to be used for some kind of ritual, and for all we know they might have intended to use you as the other half.
No. 872872 ID: 664b03
File 152073176959.png - (219.14KB , 800x600 , at54.png )

Red decides, before inflicting harm on itself, to see if it can somehow... somehow channel its excess lifeforce into something else.

Red places a hand on Sable's chest, and it shivers at the touch. Red softly moves its hand down in a slow, non-threatening way towards the wound, and Sable watches, nervous, as Red gets closer and closer to the wound. Sable seems confused and unsure of how to react to Red's gentle stroking, and yelps as Red's hand brushes lightly onto its wound, tensing up.

Red closes its eyes, and isn't even certain how to focus its surplus of energy into something else. Yet in its dream it seemed second nature to the extent it could reshape itself in astounding ways.

Red concentrates on Sable's wound, feeling the slow ooze of black fluid from it and the pulsing of its heart.
Red focuses on its own heartbeat, and finds, with excitement it immediately tries to shake, with enough focus and steady breathing, their heartbeats synchronise.

A faint, faint pull seems to flow from Red's chest to the hand it rests on the injured site, and as Red tries further to focus on its heartbeat, ignoring the restrained whimpers and groans of Sable, it feels a strange warmth flow through its arm.

Red finds it visualises a strange series of nets and broken strings, and finds the image instinctually compelling. It is wrong. The broken strands must be fixed. It focuses on the mental visualisation of the strands, and solves the puzzles in its mind of how they should reconnect. It gives small nudges and finds its intent and direction guide processes beyond its attention or ability to control to work to the broad plan it paints within its mind's eye.

Red feels the wound on Sable's torso shrink, a warmness leaving its arm and flowing into Sable. Sable shudders in anxious confusion, a faint gasp as the wound seals closed completely.

Red slowly opens it eyes. It feels faintly dizzy for a second, but the sensation soon passes. Sable seems too stunned for words.

Red is abruptly, acutely aware that it has managed to do something incredibly rare in this world. It feels proud in its accomplishment and glad to see a new friend in better condition. Teachings of a lost art resurface in its mind like memories of past lives lived and passed.

Biothaumaturgy rediscovered. Red is able to control its life energy in order to imbue others with healing, at a proportional cost to its own vitality, which is currently supernaturally enhanced to many levels beyond required for healthy life. It is also able to more accurately control its mutative abilities, but can only improve its body further by meeting an as-of-yet unknown condition.
No. 872873 ID: 664b03
File 152073178585.png - (30.74KB , 800x600 , at55.png )

As Red contemplates its sudden insight into its own nature, it briefly wonders if it could cause other neuter creatures like itself to possess masculine, feminine or wholly original sexes, before waving the idea out of its mind, unsure why it is so fixated on the matter.

Red ponders if a creature lacking sexual ability can still somehow feel some strange sense of physical lust and infatuation, and then worries if this is happening to itself right now.

It shakes its head to clear out the distracting nonsense, and sits on the sand, gesturing to Sable to join it. Red writes a few questions about Sable's nature and the nature of the ritual. Sable looks unhappy, pauses for a moment, and speaks.
"They said I was a mistake. A failure. Incomplete in some way. I was supposed to be something else. They didn't make it clear what."
Red pats Sable on the shoulder.
"The cultists, they wanted to make... I don't know. I think something like those red fox monsters. The ones that wounded me as I ran. I was quick, but they were quicker and one of them got me. They were incredibly unhappy that I was a failure of some kind. Apparently they used a lot of... uh... I think they called it protoplasm? They used a lot of it and chaos ichor to make me, and when I didn't turn out how I wanted they had plans to sacrifice seven living chaos creatures in a ritual as some sort of backup plan. They were upset because protoplasm is incredibly rare to come by and they couldn't figure out how to get it back out of me due to the chaos fluid."
Red pauses and scrawls "you're a chaos creature?" into the sand. The name sounds familiar, and Red recalls the Voice of the Alchemist saying it could invoke her name to gain the trust of such beings.

Sable sighs. "I... I don't even know. I'm flesh, blood and bone, but chaos creatures are plasm, ichor and fibre. My blood, though. They only needed the blood, and, uh. The sentinels kept telling me I was tainted and that they needed to purify me but when they tried it felt... it felt like the worst pain I've felt in my life. I felt so cold and faint. I was scared I was going to die, so I struggled and ran and the sentinels didn't like that."

Red traces "do you know the voice of the alchemist?" in sand. Or, at least, tries to. As Red writes the word "voice" in the script the Alchemist used, Sable looks terrified and grabs Red's hand.
"Don't! Don't ask me whatever you were going to!"
Red writes "why?"
"I-- I can't explain, if I even think too much about them they'll find me."
Red tilts its head.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm a mess, I'm a wreck and I'm a failure. They're hunting me down and they think I'm a waste of a precious resources and don't deserve to live."

Sable tears up and shivers, and Red offers more comforting pats. Sable calms.

Red thinks briefly on what Sable has said, its mention of protoplasm, its mention of protoplasm's rarity, and its apparent failed state.
Red doesn't have enough pieces to put together the puzzle for certain, but it sounds like Sable is a failed attempt to recreate Red itself.
Red doesn't like the idea and is incredibly uncertain. Why would there be a failed copy of itself roaming the atoll when Red itself has only been alive for at best a day or two?
Red wonders if it itself is a copy of something else, and what the original would have been. Some significant figure of high status? A genius archmage? Or some random test subject?

Red scrawls one more question in the sand, "do you have any innate magic?"
Sable nods, closes its eyes and chaotic energy swirls in its paws. Red is entranced, as instead of feeling horrible and corrosive as the magical items and creatures it encountered in the Alchemist's lab, this sphere of raw energy carries the same contradictory feelings of revulsion and attraction as Sable itself did. Sable mumbles some strange mantra. "Be as one, be as one, be as one, be as one..."

The sphere of swirling entropic force stops oscillating wildly and crystallises into a perfect black sphere, floating between Sable's hands. "I can contain chaos energy without annhilating it or otherwise causing any destruction." Sable grips the ball of chaos energy, moves it to its chest, and slowly absorbs the sphere back into its body. "I can pull it from things around me as well as from myself. I think they wanted me to act as a magnet and containment method for protoplasm, but it went wrong and now I'm a magnet and containment method for chaos energies."
Red writes, "what does chaos energy do?"
Sable shrugs. "It scares me. I haven't used it. I've only contained and absorbed it. I've been able to disrupt the chaos cultists' spells really easily. Until they get wise and switch to other sources."
Red writes, "sources?"
"Well, as far as I've learned from overhearing cultists, that's how magic works. You can't just make something out of nothing. You need to channel from a source of some sort. The sentinels use their own collective as a source, chaos creatures draw from some primordial source they let the chaos cultists use, and I've heard that incredibly powerful, rare magic creatures out there can use themselves as a source. So the chaos cultists had a few of those creatures bound and trapped to use as alternate sources against things resistant against entropic magic."

Sable's ears droop. "I guess if things had gone the way they wanted, and I was filled with protoplasm instead of chaos fluid, I'd be a living power source too."
No. 872874 ID: 664b03
File 152073180941.png - (14.88KB , 800x600 , at56.png )

Red draws a simple map. It writes "we should go somewhere that isn't here" to Sable.
In one direction lies the crystal forest.
In the opposite direction, the red fronds. Sable makes a pitiful whine when it realises what Red is saying, and Red slowly nods, writing "don't go here" in the red script.
The other directions head to the ocean and the lagoon of the atoll.

Sable looks at the partial map, and points at the crystal forest. "We can't go there, I've heard it's dangerous."
Red nods.
"And we can't go back that way..." Sable rubs where its wound was.
Red nods again.
"And we can't go into the ocean because of the barrier," says Sable.
Red looks up, confused.

Sable flicks an ear. "You haven't tried to go into the ocean? You can't do it. The cultists were very angry about it. I haven't tried but apparently no one can leave the atoll because of the barrier. Something to do with the sentinels, I think?"
Red nods, shrugs, and points to the lagoon on its map.
"I mean, we could go that way, but I don't really know how to swim. Also I'll probably die of dehydration and hunger before we reach a shore. ...hm. Is there anywhere we can go?"

Red scratches its head, suddenly feeling a lot less happy and confident about its place in the world.
It really seems to look like the only option the pair have is walking among the lagoon beach of the red land, and taking a large risk in doing so.
No. 872877 ID: 10c408

You either walk along the beach away from all the threats and barriers you find yourselves surrounded by and maybe find sustenance or stay here and assuredly perish of dehydration.

Get a move on, you have no other choice.
No. 872878 ID: 3abd97

>As Red contemplates its sudden insight into its own nature, it briefly wonders if it could cause other neuter creatures like itself to possess masculine, feminine or wholly original sexes, before waving the idea out of its mind, unsure why it is so fixated on the matter.
Maybe it's a side effect of your biothaumaturgy, or the life energy? The natural and most basic purpose of life is to perpetuate itself- so on some instinctual level your power wants to be used to that end.

>Why would there be a failed copy of itself roaming the atoll when Red itself has only been alive for at best a day or two?
Maybe you suffered a time lapse? When you entered and left Voice of the Alchemist's territory you suffered a discontinuity. Would have even known if there was a delay between you disappearing in one location and appearing in the next?

It's also possible you have been alive longer than you think. Perhaps you weren't so much born but... unsealed.
No. 872884 ID: 56e50f

There will be danger wherever we go. Let's try skirting the beach and the edge of the Crystal Forest.
No. 872885 ID: b1b4f3

Neither of you have tried approaching the barrier. Why don't you go check it out?
No. 872894 ID: ad51b8

guess we should try to head to the lagoon and hope to find food and/or water along the way. Not really much else we can do. If worse comes to worse we can always try and use that new Biothaumaturgy to hopefully stave off the worse effects of stable's thirst and hunger.
No. 872900 ID: 56fca5

Try moving on the beach around the crystal forest. We can at least learn the nature of the dangers there or maybe we will simply make our way past it.
No. 872902 ID: 91ee5f

Yay, Red made a new friend! Now we just need to find Selene! Hopefully she’s ok.
No. 872963 ID: b1b4f3

...perhaps the most sensible option is to fight through one of the two danger zones. Sable has access to chaos energies. Why not try to use them? Some revenge against the red walkers would be nice, or we could simply smash through whatever danger the crystal forest poses.

Sable can attack, and Red can heal. It'd be good practice for the both of you.
No. 872971 ID: c88e6d

Hmmmm. I'm honestly surprised the whole 'udder' idea had some possible future use. Anyway, we need to figure out how to evolve to recuperate life-essence, as well as identify a potential place of respite. We should also attempt to identify how Sable can effectively use her powers to her own benefit as well as ours, then work on locating shelter.

Also, possibly building some kind of bunker/cave/hole-in-the-ground, a defensible position. All life on the Atoll appears to be excessively violent by first impression.
No. 873097 ID: 006e5c

Go to the crystals. Have Sable use magic on the blue crystal in case it wants to attack us.
No. 873102 ID: caf1de

if chaos power is destructive and entropic could we use it as a weapon
like against the fleash assholes
No. 873103 ID: ad51b8

we might be able to drain them ourselves. I mean if we can give people our life energy then it stands to reason that we could take life energy away from others.
No. 873577 ID: 8a122e

Well, we only have one place to go and staying here won't help anyone. Let's get a move on.

... I wonder what happened to our erstwhile friend Selene? Will we run into her again sometime?
No. 875011 ID: 40bcd0
File 152176918811.png - (77.90KB , 800x600 , at57.png )

Red suggests to Sable that Sable could use its chaos magic as a defense against the red fox creatures and head back that way. Sable ponders.
"I... I guess they're not also chaos magic users who could just throw it back at me, sure. I don't really want to hurt anything that doesn't need to be hurt."
Red emphatically scrawls in much larger text that the red fox creatures can be hurt without moral quandry.
"Okay, but, I mean, this could end up killing them, I'm not a murderer, I don't want to--"
Red writes that this is fine and if Sable makes any mistakes, Red can try to fix them.

Before the pair head either direction, Red gets up and motions for Sable to follow. It needs to see whatever this barrier is--

The beach does not even meet the ocean waves before Red smacks into an invisible wall, staggering back.

Where previously there was air hangs a hexagonal grid of warding blue energy fields that Red can't ascertain anything about. Indeed, any effort to feel the wall is met by strange slippery nothing, and Red's magical senses show a uniform solid barrier extending in all directions spherically on a grand scale beyond Red's awareness. It extends into directions Red didn't know existed.

Red backs away and the grid visually becomes nothing, but the solidity of its presence remains, Red's eyes opened to a wall that none can pass.
No. 875012 ID: 40bcd0
File 152176920538.png - (48.27KB , 800x600 , at58.png )

Next, Red and Sable head to the beach of the crystal forest, only for the blue crystal from earlier to race over to them with alarming speed.

"As a reminder, this location is not open to unauthorised entities, as it is currently hazardous to all known forms of life. AS PER EUCLASE PROTOCOL the following information relevant to this location, ADMINISTRATIVE SEGMENT 3, designation UNAVAILABLE, will be revealed. Information: the crystalline structures present within this forest are impervious to magic and drain all life and energy from anything within REDACTED AS PER LAPIS LAZULI PROTOCOL meters. Security procedure: Deter vulnerable creatures from entering range of harmful effect."

Sable looks to Red and shrugs. "I don't think it's worth trying to go through here."

"Entropic contamination detected. Fetching purification protocols."

Sable looks terrified and starts to run the other direction before Red waves its arms at the blue crystal, desperately trying to get its attention.

Red accidentally smacks the crystal.
No. 875014 ID: 40bcd0
File 152176924151.png - (157.18KB , 800x600 , at59.png )

The crystal judders in the air, vibrating disconcertingly as cracking noises and crunching noises come from within.

It suddenly speaks in a much smoother, cleaner voice. Its intonation and cadence become less sing-song and more natural sounding.

"Hello, this is Vigilance Pattern 3, and, according to the emergency transmission this shard just sent, one of you two just bopped it. Looking over the "damage" reports it's incredibly clear this shard's well overdue for maintenance and calibration regarding what actually counts as damage. Huh, this is the border between segments 1 and 3. That's not a good place for anyone to be without a very good reason and you both look kind of terrified, so I'm going to assume that this isn't where you want to be."

Stunned, Red nods. Sable whimpers.

"Oh. Huh. Wow. You two are... well, huh. Hold on one moment."

The hovering crystal spins rapidly in the air. Red feels like it can, just faintly, hear something in the chimes it makes. It's too faint to make out, but it sounds like an incredibly rapid conversation.

"So! You two look like you escaped from the hiverfox stead, which is frankly unprecedented, but you don't seem to have any of the, uh... additions to the vulpic form they have. So trying to redirect you that way is a poor choice. However, this dead forest is intrinsically harmful to living creatures. Hrm. Stand still, please, let me scan both of you."

A blue light sweeps over Red, then Sable. The crystal emits a dissonant chime after scanning Sable.

"Hm. That'd explain the rapid escalation... Hey. Black fox. How do you feel about the sentinels?"

Sable makes a small squeak in lieu of actual words.

"Yeah okay I figured as much. You look terrified. Not, like, vengeful, or actively plotting my demise. Just try not to break anything, I guess. Anyway you'll both be fine in there, just don't stay in there for weeks or months. I'm going to escort you both through this forest for your own safety, I've already mapped a quick route to go through it and get out the other end without tarrying too long. It's a big forest, so we'll need to make stops to camp and eat because I assume you both need that despite your unique, uh, compositions."

Red slowly nods. Sable mumbles something accepting, shivering.

"Hey, red fox, can you maybe help that black fox to chill out? I don't want it dead. The shards don't really see a difference between chaotic corrosion and chaos creature, but, y'know, your friend there doesn't seem to be polluting the world just by existing, and seems fairly non-threatening. So, as far as I'm concerned, it's an individual among the throng of individuals we sentinels are duty bound to protect. Apparently from our own lesser processes, it turns out. Understand?"

Some things click in Red's head and it nods with more fervor. Red pats Sable on the shoulder and wraps an arm around it.

"Alright. Let's go, then. You might feel a slight tingle as the dead crystals try to drain you of your life. Red fox, you're fine, you've got too much of it for them to be successful. Black fox, they'll reject you for being antithetical to them. I would still advise keeping distance and minimising direct contact, though. Also, if my shard goes down, please wait for me to send another shard, there's a few around, do not wander off into the forest by yourselves, there's things in this forest even we sentinels don't want to come across."

The blue crystal heads into the crystal forest. Red and Sable follow.
No. 875015 ID: 40bcd0
File 152176925736.png - (209.51KB , 800x600 , at60.png )

Red walks into the forest and feels a strange coldness, permeating through its fur, skin, flesh and bone. Sable shivers and gasps, its breath a cloud of vapour.

The sentinel shard leading them pauses. "Hm. We are being watched."
"Is that b-b-bad?" asks Sable, shivering.
"No. Just an interesting observation. I believe they think they're hidden. I have their full records now. I have their names, species, sexes, ancestry, histories... All of them last-of wastrel drifters, here to pick over the carcass of a long dead land for anything valuable. It's been picked clean since before any of them were even born. There is nothing here for anyone now."
"Oh. S-shouldn't you h-help them out of the f-forest?"
"Sentinel custodian protocols dictate that we are not to interfere with individuals of endangered or extinct species unless directly approached by said individuals. It's a source of some philosophical debate. We aren't sure why the custodian protocols have such a non-intuitive directive, but my personal belief is that prolonging the existence of a species at the expense of the quality of life of an individual is inherently immoral. ...many disagree, but to be individual is to disagree, so that goes without saying."

Red nods thoughtfully as the group keeps moving.

"Still, an interesting little cluster of eyes watching us. For example, the three closest ones. Foi, female, avian, incredibly hostile to males especially. Has been recorded as wanting to "break the cycle" caused by her mother dying to give birth to her and her mother's mother doing the same, and is intent to die without children and end her species. Intrinsic metaphysical abilities tending towards mental manipulation and incredibly unreliable future sight. I've tried to offer her a way out of this forest many times but she just tries to break whatever shard I'm speaking from without saying anything. She seems convinced that sentinels want to capture her for a breeding program to prevent the death of her species and this is a delusion we have not been able to shake her with. To be honest, certain administrative duties would be easier if her life didn't mandate another category of functionally extinct species with extant specimens requiring cataloguing and recording. I've even told her as much and she seems to think I was lying. I asked her why she thought her species was so worth saving that the sentinels would care, she couldn't give me a satisfactory answer, and ended up retreating where I couldn't follow her."

Red sees a flash of a mental image of a creature.

"Ekin, male, crocodiline. Not sure how he ended up here. Last of his species but I mean I already said these were all last-ofs. Naked last-ofs prowling this waste. Animals, all of them. ...no offense to present company although I certainly have noted a correlation between civilisation, sophistication, and complexity of apparel. Still. Seems determined to find a mate for no reason other than feeling obligated to somehow save his species. I personally had a conversation with him where I mentioned being the last of your kind means your species is already gone, and then he said he'd find a way with or without sentinel help. Personally I've noticed he is absolutely infatuated with Foi. But he's absolutely distraught over what trying to breed with her would cause. I've seen him curled up weeping over his conflicting desires to do no harm and his burning lust and desire to procreate with a female he knows would certainly die in the process. I'd have more sympathy for him if he hadn't kept shutting down every outside offer of help. I don't know if he's ever even talked to Foi to begin with! What ridiculous mental prisons individuals construct for themselves. Maybe he prefers his pent-up lust to the possibility of rejection. I don't have the capacity for such drives so all I can do is theorise. Probably copulates with any vaguely attractive crystal deposits when no one's looking. Oh, right, also he has some sort of affinity towards smoke and flames."

Red sees another creature, and is not sure where these visions are coming from.

"And then there's Kalka, female, and not sure what her species is. She's quiet. Doesn't have much of a stored history. Doesn't talk. A little like you, red fox, without the effort to bridge the gap. One time Kalka and Foi were in the same area and, just as they were about to trade blows, Kalka just... disappeared. Not sure how she did it. Foi was sleepless for about two days before she couldn't continue. Kalka seems to have been made for combat and is having a hard time adjusting to life without clearly designated enemies. She doesn't seem to want to slaughter indiscriminately. I once asked her why she was here, and she drew a... well, actually, that information isn't free for me to distribute. Still. We've offered her structure and assistance in her goals, and she's politely declined. She knows Foi and Ekin exist and I've seen her watching them from afar. Either way, I have little patience for vigilantes acting outside of sentinel rules."

Red sees another flash and is unsure if it is the crystal that is causing these or if it's somehow remembering these names.

"You know, I wonder how any of these creatures survive in this forest. What do they eat? I haven't seen them eat. Maybe they're already dead and just haven't realised it yet. Stranger things have happened before. They all look in very good shape for dead things, though. Well fed, sufficient fat and muscle to hide their skeletal structure. Healthy. Maybe they've found a way to leech from the leeching crystals."

After a pause, Sable asks "Do w-we need to know who any of these p-people are?"
The crystal lazily flips on an axis. "No. No one needs to know who anyone is, I suppose. They'll all die here with only our archives to make a note they ever lived to begin with."
"They're last-of drifters with no homes, no families, no friends. There's more like them out there and there's more of them as the Limit weighs heavily on all within the atoll."
"L-limit? What's the limit?"
"Yet again, must I be the one to explain this tragedy? Well, here we go. The atoll can only support so much life. At this point, with such high population, fertility rates cannot descend any lower. The only way for new life to be born is for old life to die, or for other magical energy to be converted into something capable of supporting life. It has led to some... interesting outcomes for some of the civilisations of the atoll. Some seek artifacts to destroy and reclaim the magic of, some have simply descended into decadence following the principles of trying and trying again, and others have marched on the warpath to speed up the death of others. Add to this the fact the Limit is not fixed, and in fact has been falling as more and more chaos beasts consume more energy than they contain themselves in a disturbing violation of the natural order. Our long-term projections for the atoll are... unfavourable."

Vigilance Pattern 3 rasps slightly as it spins into a different orientation.

"Relatedly, red fox, the fact you are a walking sack of purest protoplasm is absolutely something you should never, ever reveal to anyone, unless you want to be torn apart by the most aggressive societies on the atoll for the sake of securing their future."
"What's protoplasm?" asks Sable.
"One of the most concentrated material forms of life energy. Incredibly, incredibly rare, and the most precious substance on the atoll."

Red nods, concerned.

The group keeps wandering. Other than the odd humming of the crystal leading them, they continue in silence in an eerily quiet dead forest of crystalline trees.

Red wonders if it should perhaps try to tell Sable to ask this crystal anything else.
No. 875017 ID: 7fad5d

No. 875019 ID: c88e6d

This explains the unreasonably ludicrous level of violence on the Atoll.

Is it possible to blow up the barrier surrounding the Atoll? Is there any life outside it? Is it possible to reverse the violation of the natural order by creating some kind of un-chaos that emits energy?
No. 875023 ID: 33cbe7

Ask who created this ant farm and to what end.
No. 875030 ID: b1b4f3

...we could probably fix Foi and hook her up with the croc. We risk revealing the protoplasm thing but to be honest I don't think Foi has any connection with any group powerful enough to cause us harm.

See if you can find a way to communicate that with the sentinel. Can we perhaps tell Foi this ourselves?
No. 875037 ID: 3abd97

Bopping crystals made things better, who would have guessed! How nice to meet your first honestly helpful authority figure.

>S-shouldn't you h-help them out of the f-forest?
Well, if they decide they want out of the forest, they can just follow us.

>Naked last-ofs prowling this waste. Animals, all of them. ...no offense to present company although I certainly have noted a correlation between civilisation, sophistication, and complexity of apparel
For what it's worth, our nakedness isn't by choice. Clothes were never an opportunity we encountered.

>Yet again, must I be the one to explain this tragedy? Well, here we go. The atoll can only support so much life.
Perhaps it's a good thing you didn't rush ahead with your body's ideas for reproduction, Red. Creating new life would have put you in direct competition with hostile factions.

>Red wonders if it should perhaps try to tell Sable to ask this crystal anything else.
Is the ground here something you can write on?

Do you have records on an individual named Selene? Female, pale, colored pastel bands, two rings, some kind of light shaping ability? I encountered her earlier, and was separated when discontinuity transported me here.

What's your job?

>the Limit is not fixed, and in fact has been falling as more and more chaos beasts consume more energy than they contain themselves in a disturbing violation of the natural order
So the reason chaos is seen as bad is because life energy input cannot be fully reclaimed from chaos?
No. 875049 ID: 297b5e

So where do you sentinels come in to all this? Are you just helping us out for the hell of it, or is this your job or something?
No. 875066 ID: 1da372

Ask about the barrier.
No. 875076 ID: 94bef7

What are chaos beasts and where are they coming from?
No. 875140 ID: 006e5c

Ask where these three are and if you can meet them.
No. 875146 ID: 91ee5f

I think we’re better off not meeting any of those guys and we should just keep following this shard.
No. 875159 ID: e1c8f7

No matter who we cross paths with, we can simply tell them we're leaving and they can follow if they want.
No. 875206 ID: cb585b

Attempt to ask Pattern Three if your inability to talk can be fixed, and if so, how to do it and if they can help
No. 875211 ID: 10c408

Try and get Sable to tell the shard that you cannot actually speak by getting his attention, pointing at your throat/mouth and then the shard.

Do NOT stray or slow down to write.
No. 875220 ID: 05ff2f

Put your arm around Sable and pull them in close next to you and curl your long fluffy tail around them to help them keep warm as you walk along.

Since it'd be agonizingly slow and imprecise to try and convey what you'd like Sable to ask the crystal using just gestures while walking and you'd have to stop to write in the sand or dirt to make yourself clear, wait until you stop to camp and rest to ask your questions. That way you won't be prolonging your time in the forest any longer than you possibly can. ...Actually, where are you or Sable going to get anything to eat or water to drink in this dead place for when you make camp?

Considering the denizens of this dead crystal forest, it's a good thing you and Sable are sexless in case you encounter them. Foi would have been totally hostile to you or Sable if either or both of you were male, and Ekin... Well, Ekin might have tried to force himself on whichever of you was female, since you both don't look like you could put up a fight. As things are, you may be able to talk with any of the three if they approach. Maybe you could convince whichever does to come with you out of the crystal forest and travel with you.

When you stop to rest, remember to write to ask the Sentinel shard if it knows of a female mooncaller by the name of Selenite or Selene and what became of her. Add that she was wearing cursed rings of satiation and awareness and you first met her high up Maker's Folly shortly after you were created, stuck on top of one of those tall vertical brass poles around the place. You last saw her in segment two, when your attempt to dissuade her from attacking Voice of the Alchemist (make sure Sable doesn't read or hear of her) for her immoral acts failed and the resulting magical explosion from VotA's retaliation somehow teleported you next to the hiverfox stead.
No. 875348 ID: 40bcd0
File 152195142165.png - (167.54KB , 800x600 , at61.png )

Red pauses, staring at the strange black dirt it's walking on. It motions to Sable to watch it, and starts to scribble some questions for Sable to repeat.
Sable reads, nods, and looks up to the crystal, which has paused.

"Hey, uh, c-crystal, my friend can't sp-speak and--"
"I can read, and there will be time for questions later."
"Actually I uh, I'm very hungry and thirsty and I don't know where to get food here--"
"Unfortunately neither do I, but I have a shard inbound, anticipating this problem."

The group continues. Red curls its tail around Sable to keep them warmer. Sable mumbles a thanks.
The crystal hums a gentle medley of various tunes, the only source of mental stimulation throughout what feels like hours of walking.

The sky is desolately uniform, a thick fog preventing any light or warmth from the sun piercing through the turquoise haze. Red feels like something bad happened here, at some point. Something terrible. It lmost feels like echoes of cries from eons gone by flicker within these alien crystalline structures.

The walking pace is brisk, but slows to meandering before Sable starts showing signs of visibly struggling to keep pace.

Red puts Sable's arm over its shoulders and starts helping it along, but all this does is delay the inevitable. Red catches Sable as Sable missteps, almost tumbling to the ground.

The crystal pauses. "Well, there's nowhere good to set up a camp in this place. Why not set up the first camp here."

Blue light scours a circular area free of dead crystal structures, the dust boiling away into nothing. A faint waving geodesic dome projects from the crystal, through Red and Sable, before solidfying and stabilising.
The air within this geodesic bubble immediately begins to warm and the oppressive chill and weight of the forest lighten immediately.

"Resupply will be a few minutes. I don't suppose there's anything you'd like to discuss to pass the time?"

Red stares at the black dirt of the forest, points at the crystal, points to the dirt, and begins writing.
No. 875349 ID: 40bcd0
File 152195143401.png - (148.61KB , 800x600 , at62.png )

Red furiously scribbles its questions, and the sentinel shard answers them.

>Can the barrier be destroyed?
"The barrier is indestructible. While the sentinels exist, the barrier exists. Neither can exist in isolation. The sentinels are duty bound, protocol bound and intrinsically bound to ensure the barrier is never breached. We have made two exceptions in the past to allow creatures outside of the barrier. Both times were some of our greatest mistakes. We will not allow anyone or anything outside of the barrier."

>Who created the atoll, and why?
"You know, it's strange. This question used to be one of the ones under lapis lazuli clearance, and now it's euclase clearance. We rapidly determined that this information does not by itself actually lead to mass panic or uprisings, so... This island was created as a place to store magical creatures that could not be safely or morally disposed of by our creators, the Makers. The nature of this place is a matter of perspective. Some see it as a fallen paradise, a place of peace that has slowly fallen into disrepair. Others see it as a prison, and we sentinels as its wardens. Ultimately, it is a closed system. Sometimes new arrivals just show up. One of my many duties is cataloguing unencountered creatures, which I'm scouting for right now with my other shards."

>Is there life outside the atoll?
"The ocean is cold and lifeless. There are no other landmasses on this sphere. There is nothing. So many seem to think we built the barrier to prevent more magic, more life from coming into this closed system. This is untrue. We are desperately trying to keep it from leaking out."

>Is it possible to reverse entropy/create some form of un-chaos?
"We can at best plug the leaks. We can't repair the damage done."

>What are the chaos beasts and where do they come from?
"Anathema to all the sentinels consider sacred. If we knew how they bypassed the barrier to enter, we would seal all possible means for them to arrive. We do not know how they're getting in."

>I can probably fix Foi
"You're suggesting she's somehow broken? Her kind was evidently never intended to reproduce in the first place. If you would die from running yourself through with a blade and severing your arteries, is this a flaw that requires fixing? It is not as if she desires children."

>Can you fix my voice?
Red hears a strange echoing inside its head. ~Can. Won't. This information is star sapphire cabochon clearance. I literally can't go into further detail without nexal consensus.~
The crystal abruptly hits the dirt and spins in it, destroying Red's written words before Sable notices them.
"Whoops! Minor locomotive malfunction, I do apologise." The crystal rises back to hovering height.
No. 875351 ID: 40bcd0
File 152195144689.png - (110.26KB , 800x600 , at63.png )

Red writes one more pertinent question.

>Do you know of a female mooncaller named Selenite, or Selene? Where is she?
"Well there's only one mooncaller in the index, so this should be brief. Let's see. Jare, male, mooncaller, now 48, ancestry traced for six generations. Ah. The index sorely needs maintenance, I suppose less effort has been expended on updating the catalogue for species of fewer than a dozen individuals. Successful procreation at age 25 with Siaia, female, 23 at time of birth. Species uncatalogued, extinct. Deceased aged 31, reason: incurable magical ailment, possible manifestation of inherent species flaw. Descendant, Selenite, female, mooncaller, now 23. Adding to index. Current location, administrative segment two, formerly known as Swimmers' Reach, now known as Swimmer's Beach for various reasons, under heavy sentinel scrutiny due to relative vulnerability of native population. Yes. I have a visual of her now. She's... apparently quite safe. In most senses."

Images flash in Red's mind of Selene, straddling some kind of male delphic creature in the throes of ecstacy. Selene yells for another drink, and a paler delphic female pours a drink into Selene's mouth. Half of it pours onto the male instead as Selene arches back and cries out.

"Okay. That's enough live feed. Probably should have screened that first. Let me check the recordings here for a moment. Ah. So, your friend Selene was looking for you -- yes, I am well aware she is a friend of yours, I don't give this sort of lapis lazuli class information to anyone who asks nicely -- and found herself amongst a tribe of swimmers. After asking if any of them had seen you, she managed to annoy the tribe so much into trying to exile her. Then she apparently talked her way out of it and into helping them deal with hostile creatures threatening their fishing, and then they declared her the season's champion and threw a celebration in her honour. She made it clear that she was very proud and honoured but that she had to find you due to fearing the worst. Then one of their males all but threw himself at her begging to show her a better reward. And, like every dumb adventurer I've ever seen, she decided to take what was offered to her. Ugh. Adventurers are I suppose one step above aimless drifters but there's so little differentiating them. Always causing trouble, either way. If people could just stay put for one chaos-blighted season things would be much easier-- ugh. I'm talking like Observer. Uggh. Sorry. Ignore me."

Red at least knows Selene is safe, even if it feels a strange pang of jealousy. It tightens its tail around Sable. Red pauses and tries to self-analyze why it would feel jealousy when it never considered Selene a prospective sexual partner, and why said jealousy would make it cling more to a creature it feels more pity and sympathy for than anything else.
No. 875352 ID: 40bcd0
File 152195145663.png - (20.03KB , 800x600 , at64.png )

Sable leans into Red so much it ends up lying on top of Red a little. Red feels strangely protective all of a sudden, and curls up around Sable more.

Rationally, Red knows it is being ridiculous. If anything, it felt a little touched that Selene made it clear to the delphic tribe that she wished to leave to try and find Red again.
The realisation makes Red tear up a little. It isn't sure why.

It also thinks that it perhaps views Sable with more than just pity and sympathy. Although it isn't sure what that might be, given all it really knows of Sable is that it seems to be in a similar predicament to itself.

Red isn't really very sure what it's actually trying to do. When it gets out of the forest, what then?
No. 875354 ID: c88e6d

It appears this planet is doomed. Whatever system the Makers built is failing rapidly, the mechanism for acquiring new arrivals is still working but only making things worse, and the world outside the Atoll is dead. Escape is also impossible without destroying the Sentinels, who are also the only reason life can exist here.

....Why don't we go find a nice bunker to sit in and spend the rest of our lives? Maybe we can figure out enough magic to locate a lifebearing world from this one and figure out a method to get there by mixing life magic and chaos magic to build some kind of portal. Not really much we can do otherwise but sit and cuddle.
No. 875355 ID: 3abd97

Huh, seems like Selene accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. Annoyed a tribe, saved them, and won them over again.

>And, like every dumb adventurer I've ever seen, she decided to take what was offered to her.
The way that's worded makes me suspect what Selene accepted wasn't so nice. Like the swimmers have her drunk or drugged off her head.

>So, your friend Selene was looking for you
>she had to find you due to fearing the worst
Would it be possible to pass a message? Let her know I'm okay after all. ...not this minute obviously, you don't need to interrupt that.

>When it gets out of the forest, what then?
Hmmm. That depends on what's on the other side of the forest, I suppose. Maybe you should ask for information?

It would be nice to find a place where no one is trying to kill you, or people you like, or do creepy experiments either.
No. 875356 ID: b1b4f3

>Foi doesn't want children
Not exactly. She wants to break the cycle of death. Allowing her to safely have children would accomplish that as well. Though if the children would have the same issue of the mother dying at childbirth... We could sterilize her instead? Then she could be with the crock without risk. Wouldn't have to die alone. Maybe that's closer to what they'd both want.

>long term plans?
Probably try to work with the Sentinels to get rid of Voice of the Alchemist, the biggest threat to Sable and likely Selene as well now.

Speaking of which, since Sable is resting and not paying attention... well, even with that we can't be too careful. Ask the sentinel to speak to you in private again, because Sable should not overhear what you're going to talk about next. It's not like Sable can read what you're writing though, as you're using Sentinel script. Then you can tell the sentinel that you encountered Voice of the Alchemist. Describe the lab you saw, and what was in it. Ask bluntly if Kalka is here to kill VotA. You would have no objection to doing exactly that. You will need to practice using your abilities however. Right now you are hardly a threat.
No. 875358 ID: e1c8f7

We reconnect with our friend of course. If we could send a message to her, that would be amazing. She seems to have made friends there. Perhaps we could stay with them for a bit? The tricky part would be getting the Sentinels and the tribe to accept Sable. It's worth trying at least.
No. 875362 ID: 379265

We should probably tell Shard about Voice of the Alchemist and what we translated for it.
No. 875363 ID: 91ee5f

Hey, did you see Selene’s left hand in that picture? It looks like the cursed rings that were stuck to her fingers are gone! I wonder how she got them off?

>Red isn't really very sure what it's actually trying to do. When it gets out of the forest, what then?
Obviously, finding Selene is what you’d want to do next.

However, what to do after that is a mystery.
No. 875365 ID: ad51b8

huh, might just be a trick of the light but it looks like Selene's rings are gone.

>When it gets out of the forest, what then?
Well first thing you should do is try to find some food for Sable. Just because you don't need it doesn't mean she doesn't

Also ask what use to be beyond the barrier and what happened to the outside world... if that information isn't restricted that is. Probably would be safe though to ask the crystal for some general knowledge of the the world. Like what places should we avoid and where is it generally safe to hang around... and I guess ask where we'd need to go to find Selene or at the very least if they could pass on a message to her letting her know that your alive and ... relatively safe. Not really sure how safe one can get around here.
No. 875367 ID: 33cbe7

Enhance defensive ability and lifeblood utilization capability. Assist the sentinels in entropic creature research. Determine where the extra energy is going. But first, grow a fox bush.
No. 875368 ID: 10c408

We should meet up with Selen and try to get her help with researching the problem. If we can fix it, then we can get rid of the abundant protoplasm we're containing.
No. 875372 ID: 006e5c

I still want to talk with the three that are watching us.

>I don't give this sort of lapis lazuli class information to anyone who asks nicely
Time for some flattery. Maybe it will tell us some more important things.

"Why is it that you have such a thankless job? I really think that more sentinels and individuals should be more appreciative of what you do. I certainly am. Oh Vigilance Pattern 3. Should I call you Vigilance Pattern 3, or do you have/want another name? Anyway, you're so nice and smart! And you know so many important things that I could only dream knowing of~" etc.
No. 875386 ID: 56fca5

Well, the automated shard said we are currently on ADMINISTRATIVE SEGMENT 3. That probably puts us pretty close to segment 2. We should ask if this way is bringing us closer to Selene. If not, we might want to turn around. If need be, ask Vigilance Pattern if they can help us past the hivers.

Dying during childbirth seems to be a pretty big flaw and we might actually be able to fix that. As others have said, it sounds like Foi just doesn't want to die a painful death to birth another that will be condemned to the same fate. That's different from not wanting kids. Probably should learn more about our abilities before tinkering in someone else's genetics, though.
No. 875388 ID: 3abd97

If Sable is asleep, I'll support asking Vigilance Pattern 3 about Voice of the Alchemist, using the sentinel script Sable can't read. Include how Sable reacted when you tried to ask them. It would be nice to know what kind of danger she poses to them.

>Foi stuff
I'd just like to point out we're making a lot of assumptions about the desires and feelings of someone we've never met, based off second information from a being whose perspective is at least a little alien.

Also that Foi, and everyone else still in this forest, is under voluntary self-exile, refusing offers of assistance and being guided out.

So maybe take a step back with the plans to go in and fix her life with protoplasm magic?

>star sapphire cabochon clearance
>lapis lazuli class information
Your security clearance system is based on semi-precious stones? Do you know the reasoning behind that? Does classification level increase with a stone's value or rarity?

>what else
You should probably thank Vigilance Pattern 3. It's been considerate and helpful in a way very few beings you have encountered have been. You appreciate it.
No. 877304 ID: e6bc82

Its more than pitty and sympathy. Sable is a friend, and you, their only. I mean heck, you know more about Sable than you do Selene as you shared your abilities and they poured their short life out to you.
No. 880398 ID: 5f0589

In many ways you and Sable are one and the same. You're an empathetic person evidently, and it would be strange if you didn't care at all for Sable by this point.

Why is the security level system based on rocks? You should ask.
No. 880970 ID: 3e857c

Your next step should be to find friends/allies to fit your heal/tank/charm build you have here. Get them to defend/attack for you, rather than get in front yourself.
I believe Selene would refer to it as an "adventuring party". You know, get in trouble, take quests, help people, fix the atoll (eventually), good stuff. Given how worn down they are, surely the Sentinels have asked for help from them at least once. You could ask Vigil 3 about it.

While you could find Selene first, maybe try starting with the other people following you. You can bargain with your life energy or mutation abilities to help get what they want. Or if that fails... create new kids/party members from their species.
I sure hope Sable is a nurturing type and likes kids, you should ask it when you have a moment.
No. 888786 ID: 334b68
File 152893575725.png - (36.46KB , 800x600 , at65.png )

Red realises that there are many purposes it can devote itself to after securing safety and leaving this forest, and its eyes once again well up with tears as it thinks of all the ways it can help everybody. Red needs to find Selene, improve itself to fear fewer things and help more people, and solve the deepest mysteries of the atoll, the problems that bind everyone to this cramped, limited existence.

Red also thinks that it should maybe not intrude on people who are actively keeping a distance from them.

Red snaps back to the current moment and decides to clarify some things and ask further questions.
Sable slowly drifts away into sleep. Red tries to write into the sand more gently.

>Did Selene get tricked? Do the swimmers mean her harm?
"No. She got distracted, it looks like. I have... something of a disdain for individuals with noble goals who throw them away for short-term indulgences. She is safe. If anyone is exploited here, I believe it would be this rarely contacted swimmer tribe. Selene has played the role of a hero for them through bravado and luck. It irritates me. But I digress. You asked me of her status, not my judgement."

>Can you let Selene know I'm alright? ...after things calm down.
"I'll see what I can do. The swimmers tend to associate the sight of shards as omens of misfortune due to the most prevalent causes we have to interfere directly, so I will need to wait until she's alone to prevent any panics."

>Also, I want to thank you for being one of the few helpful beings I've encountered before I continue.
"You're more than welcome. I'm disappointed most of the other sentinel patterns have become so aloof and disdainful towards the very lives we were meant to assist and protect. Just as a friendly piece of guidance, if you come across another autonomous shard, ask for Vigilance directly if you need an audience with a sentinel intelligence. Although I can't guarantee you'll necessarily get me. It's... complicated."

>Is this way we're going bringing us closer to Selene?
"Oh. We're going the opposite direction, into segment 5. ...Well, this may sound counterintuitive, but, I think we'll have better chances of getting to segment 2 via segment 5. Someone's bound to have a boat in segment 5. It's the third most stable society on the atoll. Although, well. There's some... recent political upheaval, but just don't openly favour any of the candidates and you'll be treated as a neutral outsider, so it should work out fine. Hm. Let me just double emphasise that. Do not under any circumstances express an opinion towards any of the candidates."

Red looks at the crystal with concern.

"It will be fine. Everything will work out fine. Just get to segment 5, find a dock, ask for passage to Swimmers' Beach or find someone who's already going there. You might need to do some drudge work but anything is better than trying to turn back and head through segment 1. Trust me on this."

Red looks increasingly anxious.

"...if those other fox-things knew what pumped through your veins, they wouldn't have let you leave, alright? I am acting in your best interests here. Also there's some other reasons we don't want you going back to segment 1 and it directly relates to making a big problem a bigger problem. Just. Trust me. Please."

Red slowly nods.

"Good. Now. More questions?"
No. 888787 ID: 334b68
File 152893578331.png - (73.05KB , 800x600 , at66.png )

>Your clearance system is based on semi-precious stones?
"Oh. The exact details are lapis lazuli clearance but that's pretty much a yes. Generally speaking, it relates to the opacity of the stone."

Red takes a deep breath and writes what it fears saying the most, in the sentinel script.

"Wait. How do you know-- hm. No. Carry on."

>I encountered Voice of the Alchemist, in a laboratory or workshop based in an abandoned sentinel transport ritual site in segment 2. The laboratory contained a pregnant avian restrained via a circle of some kind, strange black inky cold creatures and a flask of blue-gold fluid, which I think I now know to maybe be protoplasm, the same stuff that's inside my body. Selene attempted to attack her and then I passed out and woke up in the red moss. When I tried to ask Sable about her they froze up and were terrified, asking not to even finish writing her name. What danger does she pose to me and Sable?

The crystal's slow tumble in the air freezes. The humming and chiming stops. The silence of the forest weighs heavily on Red for each agonising second.

"This is incredibly fascinating. Thank you for your report."

>So what danger does she pose?
"I'm sorry. That's lapis lazuli clearance. Best to stay away from her as best you can, though."

>What if she comes after us?
"She won't."

>Are you sure?
"She has other things to worry about right now. Don't worry."

Red is very worried, but is distracted from its thoughts by golden lattices wound into spherical shapes floating gently into view, a sole crystal shard their chaperone. The crystal escort skyrockets away soon after the golden spheres arrive.

"Ah. Here is the resupply shard. Two water vessels, two food vessels. The fruits, I'm told, have a soft, sweet, mild taste, and a chewy flesh. They only grow on the flying island, nurtured by the automata that maintain and defend Maker's Folly."

Red nods, pauses and writes some more.

>I don't feel hunger or thirst. I'm not sure why. I know what they are and can imagine what they feel like, but I haven't felt hungry or thirsty since I awoke and am not sure why this is.
"Then I suppose more for your companion. It does not tax me to carry the weight of these vessels. We can simply take them with us."

>If it's that effortless why not carry us?
"Perhaps if you willingly climbed into a gilded cage first."
>It has to be gold?
"Gold is one of the easiest materials to work with. It conducts sentinel magic with trivial resistance, and rebukes entropic energy to some extent. Not as well as silver, but silver has a reluctance to carry any magical energy. Now, mercury, mercury works incredibly well as a conductance medium but has the unfortunate side effect of being elementally toxic to most living things on the atoll, thus requiring its use be limited to places sentinels have successfully contained... okay, never mind, I'm saying too much."

Sable is still fast asleep.

"Hmm. Maybe we should wait before carrying on. Do you sleep?"
>I'm not particularly tired.

Red and the crystal stare out into the quiet darkness of the forest for the remainder of the night. The crystalline tree structures have a faint hum to them.
No. 888790 ID: 334b68
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Sable wakes at the break of dawn, gorging itself on the fruits and water provided.

The rest of the travel through the forest is uneventful. Red and Sable travel quietly, and the crystal shard floats ahead.

The oppressive aura of the crystal forest clears, the uncertain sand starting to thicken and be covered in lush grass.
The sky seems grayer than it did before the forest.

The shard slows to a halt, hanging gently in the air.

"Well, this is it. The borders of segment 5. Good luck. My attentions are needed elsewhere and this shard needs to go back to its post. Just remember! If you're in trouble, call for the sentinels. Don't get involved in the local politics or things might go sour, gotta go, goodbye!"

The shard abruptly zips up into the air as though pulled away.

Red blinks for a moment. Sable holds Red's hand and gives it a light squeeze. "Guess it's just us, huh?"

Red gives a half-hearted smile and nod, and the two travel on.


The two freeze. Something lands on the grass before them. Some strange blue avian creature, wearing a red circular disc around its neck and very little, if anything, else.
It-- he?-- stands upright, readjusting its posture, trying to look casual and relaxed while its body language betrays its potential aggression.

A female creature arrives, slow and plodding, but authoritative and with burning intent in her eyes. She reminds Red of a softer version of the vision of the Kalka creature the shard displayed. Like the bird, she also wears a red token around her neck, but her token is not just a plain token, instead inscribed with unfamiliar markings.

The female crosses her arms. "Where are your tokens? Are you foreigners or independents? If you're foreigners you need to be registered, and if you're independents then your candidacy means less than nothing if you don't have tokens to represent it. I don't know what backwater tribe you two got exiled out of, but we have rules in our society here."

Sable opens his mouth to say something, only to be cut off.
"You both look confused, so you must be foreigners. Immigrants, undoubtedly. Come with me and we can get you documented and registered as supporters for my candidacy."
"Some think my present state somehow devalues my candidacy, but I have been over this time and time and time again, so before you spout that same tired rhetoric I've heard from the other candidates over and over again, come with me now and I can get you some tokens from the Red Circle village."

Red is aware that, during this scene, more and more creatures have slowly been arriving on the scene, some deathly serious, some faintly amused, all wearing red circular discs tied around their necks.

"This might be an unfamiliar concept to whatever backwater shore you came from, but here we run a democracy. So, please come along with me so we can get your vote for the most suitable candidate for running this segment of the atoll. The most suitable candidate being me, Eris, leader of the Red Circle party."
"We don't--"
"There'll be time for questions later! Come with us."

Red has never seen so many people in one place before and the amount of eyes staring into it is beginning to make it feel dizzy, light-headed and panicky.
No. 888793 ID: b1b4f3

Sable wasn't awake to be told not to endorse any candidates. You must immediately take Sable aside and inform them of this. Sable is to insist that both of you are neutral and wish only for safe passage to Swimmer's Beach.
No. 888794 ID: d7b8dc

Do not under any circumstances show an opinion for or against any candidate including her. Just slowly walk away.
No. 888797 ID: 91ee5f

That’s exactly what the shard told both Red and Sable before it flew away.

Sable knows this info already.
No. 888800 ID: b1b4f3

No, it said "Don't get involved in the local politics". None of the urgency and specific emphasis that it told Red.
No. 888802 ID: 4f1cbc

Wouldn't it be irresponsible for us to participate in your democracy, ill informed as we are? As foreigners, we know nothing of your candidates, your positions, or the needs or demands of your society to be addressed. The entire basis of a democracy is a well informed citizenry that can make intelligent choices. I'm sorry, but it would be wrong of us to contribute out of ignorance.
No. 888827 ID: 0c3c2c

Immediately hug Sable and point at the sand, start writing to her to explain that it is imperative that we do not express an opinion about ANY CANDIDATE AT ALL EVER.
No. 888882 ID: 56e50f

Write to Sable to tell these people that we need to get to Swimmers Beach. You two are just passing through and would be of no use to any voting systems here.
No. 888927 ID: 4f1cbc

>Tell Sable not to get involved
The Sentinel did say
>Don't get involved in the local politics or things might go sour, gotta go, goodbye!
While Sable was awake, just moments before we met these guys.

If we're lucky non-verbal denials should be enough to get them to catch on, because I'm not sure if we're going to get the chance to do writing with this political party trying to recruit us.
No. 888932 ID: b1b4f3

Ok fine, assuming we don't have to remind Sable of anything, Red should try to cling tightly to them for reassurance and maybe hiss at anyone that gets too close.
No. 888943 ID: 05ff2f

Like hell are you gonna let this bunch press gang you and Sable into their party.

Looking at Sable, put your finger to your muzzle in the gesture of "be quiet" towards it. Hopefully it'll catch on and shut up so there won't be a risk of it ignorantly saying something inflammatory and getting you both in hot water. Take Sable's hand firmly in your grasp and start moving to the side, around the group, while shaking your head "no" at Eris. If they make a move to grab you two, run.
No. 889021 ID: 334b68
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Red fights its growing anxiety in the crowd, shaking slightly, and pulls Sable from the crowd, backing up.

Red drops to a crouch and kneels onto the grass, looking for some bare patch of sandy soil to write on, when Sable speaks up.

"We, uh, we're just passing through. We need a boat to get to Swimmer's Beach, we aren't staying here or immigrating. We're not from here, we don't know anything about your politics and we ought not to be involved in them."

Red inwardly sighs in relief.

Eris toys with her neck token, her large claws surprisingly delicate on the small disc. "Disappointing. Still. Swimmer's Beach? That's a long way from here. A dangerous journey if you skirt too close to the lagoon centre. You'll need more than a boat. You'll need supplies, you'll need navigators, and you'll need protection. Undefended boats are a free meal to the creatures of the abyss."

Red stands up. Sable stammers. "Well, we were just going to ask the sentinels for help--"
"The sentinels have greater troubles to worry about than escorting two people on a foolhardy voyage across the lagoon. But don't worry, the Red Circle party can provide you with more than adequate provisions and skilled sailors."

Red buries its face in its hands as its ears dip down, and Sable quietly nods. "What's the price?"
"Well, for Red Circle associates, all of this could be provided free of charge. Otherwise, if you really, really are this set on leaving the safest land in the entire atoll, I suppose..."

Eris steps back and there is much murmuring around the crowd. The bird creature stifles a laugh. Red can just make out that it's laughing at the idea of Sable and itself being worth any more time. Red feels annoyed and embarassed, wrapping its tail around itself.

Eris pauses, clears her throat and licks a claw absently. "You two just came out of that... forest, yes? There's something special about you both." The bird stifles a laugh again. Eris elbows the bird, and continues. "Not many creatures can so casually walk through that place without the chill of death seeping through their bones. I'd happily scrounge together the things you need for your voyage, provided you bring back something in that forest."

Sable helplessly nods.

"There's a specific type of mushroom that only grows deep in that place. Where the crystal formations drain life, these mushrooms drain the crystal formations of their absorbed energy. They're blue and gold, glow, and have potent vital properties. Bring back as many as you can carry and I'll make sure you're treated as well as any other Red Circle member for the duration of your stay."

Red and Sable look at each other. Sable leans in and whispers.
"So, uh, Red? Is this... Is this a good idea or should we try and go around them?"
No. 889022 ID: 334b68
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Before Red answers, the bird speaks up. "Of course, if you two think that you're not good enough to go find mushrooms for us, you're more than welcome to just turn around and keep going. The last thing we'd need is for you to go and sign up to the other parties."

Eris elbows the bird a little harder. "You are not being representative of our values here, Shei. Oh. Yes. Our values. Our values, our values. Damn. What am I doing here? Pouncing on the first two unaffiliated creatures I see? You came through that forest, right?"

Red and Sable slowly nod.

"That must have been a tough journey."
Red and Sable exchange glances and reveal nothing.
"I insist we at least show you hospitality. The last thing I want to do as a candidate is paint so poor a picture of our land. Come!"

The group starts to wander off.

Red shrugs and starts following, Sable in tow.
No. 889023 ID: 334b68
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The group travels up a gentle slope. The village is not far from the crystal forest. Red notes that the two of them must have been easily seen from those living in the village.

The village seems to have maybe a couple dozen residents, including the group that came to them. Eris takes many brief pauses, out of breath, and frustrated at herself, muttering about her physique being taken from her.

The group arrives to a central circle of what look to be cushions and blankets strewn around, with a carved stone circle centerpiece housing a firepit. Someone is stirring something in a cauldron held above it, and it smells, to Red, like something that'd probably taste much better than it smells.
No. 889024 ID: 334b68
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Eris sits on a cushion as the group disbands to idle chatter. Shei ushers Red and Sable to seats near her.

Eris looks up at the grey sky. "We can move to my house if it starts raining. Still. Thank you for coming with us. Before you head out to Swimmer's Beach, I want to give you two a chance to rest and recover. Well, more selfishly, I'd like your memories of the Red Circle party to be good ones. It's always good to leave good impressions with the travelling sort, I feel. As foreigners, do you have any questions?"

"Uhh, uh, my friend here can't talk. Do you have anything to, uh, write on?"
"Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. Shei, do we have any spare writing material?"
"...I mean, we do, but it's for Red Circle members only."
Shei sighs. "Very well."

Shei almost revently places a sheet of treated palm leaves, delicately sewn together, on a sheet in front of Red. He also places a small glass bottle half filled with a slick crimson ink, and finally places a feather quill, evidently fashioned from one of his own tail feathers. Red gently takes it and examines it. It's carefully sharpened and crafted. Shei visibly cringes as Red picks it up, but his expression softens considerably as he watches Red handle the quill with care and purpose.

Red pauses to consider if it should think of questions to write down, or just cut all losses, thank Eris for the hospitality, set the quill down and run so very very far from this new situation it finds itself in, dragging Sable along if needs be.

The crackling of the fire nearby brings a warmth to Red that nearly draw tears from its eyes. It decides it can probably afford to linger a little longer.
No. 889025 ID: 86eb65

These people seem nice.

We could just make friends here and move into there tribe.

Ignore our weird problems and get fat old and happy together.

Seems like a good end goal at least.
No. 889027 ID: 7fad5d

It's a Cirr quest. Optimism is the most lethal thing in a Cirr quest.
No. 889029 ID: b38f01

We can ask for the history on this place. Maybe advice on the safest route to Swimmer's Beach. With the promise that you two will return with friends to take residence here with the hospitality shown here.
No. 889032 ID: b1b4f3

We were explicitly warned not to get involved. Staying here will probably end in violence. I'm guessing the political situation is in a stalemate that would explode if disrupted.

Don't ask any political questions. The best way to avoid getting involved is to keep reasons for getting involved to a minimum. Ignorance helps with that.
How about instead you ask what they know about the sentinels? And the Atoll in general?
No. 889035 ID: 0c3c2c

Politely offer to get some mushrooms in exchange for goods and resources but apologize that you cannot, under any circumstances, express a political opinion in the current climate. Be friendly and polite, enjoy the chance to rest, but do NOT join the party for any reason!
No. 889043 ID: bddb0f

I wonder how far along Eris is and how the Limit is enforced around here. I guess the Limit might help explain why the whole vote thing might be such a contentious issue - if the factions are split down the middle for votes this year/every year they might have no fair way to resolve ties and choosing leader or making decisions by drawing lots sure is super unsatisfying to an electorate.

Special note - the mushrooms are blue and gold. The Flask of protoplasm in the Voice of the Alchemist's lab was blue and gold. Your pure protoplasmic blood is blue and gold. They want protoplasm, a.k.a. your blood. Do not tell them or inform them about your blood. Do not get in a situation where you can get cut or hurt accidentally. Above all, don't start any knife fights, y'hear me young lady?

Now, paper is rare here and this is something of a gift (especially as you COULD write in a handful of sand on a pan as your questions don't need lasting documentation - in fact, ask this as your very first question), so keep your questions and answers short. Thankfully this is a good excuse to keep your statements and explanations short and vague, too. Write small, but legible. Go with something like:

"Name Red. New to Atolls, accident displace, sentinel help back. Hospitality fine, am grateful, but want neutral, no politics. No offense. Can -resist- forest. Possibly fetch life mushrooms, but forest not familiar, might get lost, get hurt or worse. Understand thing for thing, but not enjoy forest dangers. Also, this not normal work. Less risk preferred. If best offer then may risk, but is big ask."

As for questions.

"Maybe better to write on sand in a pan?" (remember to start with this!)

"How you know life mushroom? What life mushrooms for? Just want have in case for healing?"

"Others somehow live in forest. Why not ask them for mushroom?"

"What are actual dangers travelling between atolls by boat?"

"Can you prime us on Atoll societies you know of? Mostly want know who to avoid and who is fine with new strangers."

Now... if the mushrooms are required for healing, you could pretend being a healer and use Biothaumaturgy to try to treat whoever. If they're for having more children (protoplasm = life energy, life energy = ability to have more children), you're out of luck, since you don't really want to help with that right now. Being a healer would make you notable, but wouldn't reveal the exact nature of your powers, though these people who know about protoplasm properties, at least their mushroom equivalent, MIGHT suspect something's off. And word would certainly go down the grapevine of Red the Healer, and other people might guesstimate themselves to the truth, so it's not ideal for the long term. Although... it could be a good way of spending your excess life, without actually going through the bother of birthing it one way or another.

You could ask for a container and supplies, say you're going to the forest, wander off for a while, cut yourself and bleed into the container (and rest to let your heart heal the cut, so it won't be obvious), then come back with a 'mushroom extract' of your own making, so you can lie and say you went into the crystal forest, found, harvested and pulped the mushrooms into their current state. Less suspicious, but although pure protoplasm extracted from the mushrooms might open eyes. It wouldn't be connected as directly to your self, more to your knowledge, like 'how did you do that???'. This, assuming the protoplasm outside your body won't just, y'know, go wild and make the container sprout legs and wander off.

You could also risk going back into the forest, without the sentinel to guard you. It's, by far, the least risky option as concerns revealing your true nature (which is good), but it's the more risky option concerning getting lost or encountering any of the people hiding in the woods (if you get lost, you may have to actively ask for one of the last-ofs help to get out, even). If you do bring back the mushrooms, you're probably also upsetting the local balance of powers, since the red faction can say 'ooh, vote for us, we have healing/children mushrooms' to people - or maybe they'll just have more children and outbreed their opposite faction. Shit around here's weird, yo.

You may have to get the lay of the land a little more so you can, say, calculate to please everyone equally by distributing mushrooms equally under some egalitarian argument that they should be for everyone regardless of political affiliation. It may not endear you to the politicos, but people might still be (begrudgingly) grateful in that 'yeah, I -GUESS- she did something useful for our community and should be rewarded' way.

A potential up side to getting to those mushrooms, valuable as they are, are that you might eat some of the excess to stock up on protoplasm (as if you need more... still, it IS super handy and valuable). A down side is that this is probably how some of the last-ofs that were observing us earlier survive the forest's detrimental effects. Just eat enough mushrooms to not get emptied out.

Currently I'm leaning on getting questions answered and investigating the town a little more to get the lay of the land before we settle on anything... but it does rather look like the best option is the one where we're headed back into the forest.
No. 889047 ID: b1b4f3

I would ask "Should I conserve the paper and ink?"
No. 889048 ID: 05ff2f

You're making a lot of assumptions about the nature of those mushrooms and what Eris' people may use them for based on the little we've been told. We should not make assumptions about what they are, contain or what they're used for until we make further direct observations of the mushrooms or ask more about them.

The most Red should say right now regarding the mushrooms is to ask what they're used for. Then Red can compare what its told to its personal observations to determine how honest they're with it.

>"How you know life mushroom? What life mushrooms for? Just want have in case for healing?"
Don't ask this. It makes it sound like Red knows more about those 'shrooms than a newcomer should. This will increase suspicion of Red and it does not need that.

>Possibly fetch life mushrooms...
Drop the "life" part and this'll be fine.

>"Others somehow live in forest. Why not ask them for mushroom?"
If Red asks this, it should expect to be asked how it knows that there are others in the crystal forest, and that there's more than one. It'll be unlikely Red saw more than one of the forest residents while traversing the forest, so Red ought to say that it saw just one, off in the distance watching Red and Sable. If asked for a description of this other, Red ought to describe Kalka, asking if she's as species related to Eris'.
No. 889049 ID: 757ccd

We were told not to under any circumstances become involved. Accepting hospitality and performing favors are both 'becoming involved'. We need a way to find or pay for a ride that doesn't affect the standing of any party over another. We shouldn't do anything that can even be misconstrued as taking sides. I get the feeling from how they've been talking so far that this rivalry between the factions is extreme.
No. 889054 ID: a363ac

look we really can't get involved in anything political in this segment. maybe once we have finished our mission and rescued our friend we will come back this way to settle down and then you can come pitch us a reason to join you but even accepting hospitality is likely to get us screwed over in the short run of just trying to reunite with my friend and get a hug I desperately need.
I am sorry but we will have to refuse to stay with you for now and we need to move on as quickly as we can before my friend gets hurt or moves to a new place unless you can provide a non-conflict filled journey to my friend we need to leave before something goes wrong and we are sorry we can't help you with your mushroom problem for now.
No. 889064 ID: 05ff2f

Thinking on it, I agree with you. Red needs to heed what Vigilance said completely since it knows far and away more of the situation here. That means not accepting anything nor giving anything to any party groups, including working for them. That includes food, drink and shelter, and also writing implements and paper which appears to be rather valuable. Red ought to put the quill down, cork the ink well, stand up, take Sable's hand and start walking towards the lagoon to find a dock. Once there either find someone who's going to Swimmer's Beach who'll accept passengers for labor or wait around for one who will. At the least find out from another source just how tough the trip there is, since Eris may have exaggerated that to get Red's help.

In fact, the Red Circle may not be able to field the resources and boats they claimed anyway. They don't look like they have much. They're not even on the water, so why would they even have boats of their own?
No. 889065 ID: 91e86c

Vigilance said just not to favor any candidate or get involved in politics, not to help people or do good in general. Instead of giving mushrooms straight to the Red Circle, it would be fair to share what you can gather in the forest among all the people or tribes fairly, regardless of their vote or affiliation.

Maybe you can talk more like a merchant here, to distribute/trade mushrooms or provide services for the people in town. Ask if there is a common area, town square, or politically neutral zone you can trade from. Ask about the mushrooms, especially their properties, but ask more about other valuables you could find in the forest. You appear more neutral if it looks like you're looking for other buyers.
No. 889066 ID: d7b8dc

Doing business like an outsider doesn't seem to be "getting involved" with local politics. It'd be getting involved if you got the goods for free in favor of supporting them.
No. 889072 ID: bddb0f


>"There's a specific type of mushroom that only grows deep in that place. Where the crystal formations drain life, these mushrooms drain the crystal formations of their absorbed energy. They're blue and gold, glow, and have potent vital properties. Bring back as many as you can carry and I'll make sure you're treated as well as any other Red Circle member for the duration of your stay."

They already told us what the mushrooms were used for. Asking about their intended use is helpful if we want to play the healer angle (which we might not, which is fair).

I don't think it's useful to lie about how we know about there being people, especially if we aren't lying about sentinel guidance getting us through the forest. We don't need to tell them details, though. Stating that the sentinel informed us would suffice if they press the issue. It's partially a way of informing them of the locals (if they didn't already know...), and of asking why we, personally, are being asked to do this thing when they do have these people already hanging around the area they want us to go. It could be a lead-in to a follow-up question: Would taking these mushrooms upset the locals hiding there if they are using them for their own self-preservation?

>Shouldn't get involved

Vigilance Pattern 3 also expected us to be able to get resources for travel somehow, that was never something that was going to come for free (unless someone is already travelling there or trade ships arrive and they are willing to take on hitchhikers). It did not specify how we should best do this. We should investigate our options, but for now this is the first-best offer we've gotten. It's not a great offer as it involves risk, but as we're bare-tailed naked and have nothing to offer but manual labour and our literacy (or at least nothing that we ideally WANT to openly offer). And something tells me to get a job around these parts you have to be an official immigrant...
No. 889096 ID: 6288bf

Spread out some sand and draw the words in that. Tell them you don't think you'll be able to get mushrooms for them, you only got through the forest by avoiding pretty much everything in it. Getting involved in the party would mean commiting to someplace we'd be leaving behind. If there is some way we can trade or gain help moving on without imposing we'd at least see if we are able to. If not, we only ask if we can stay for a short time to rest before moving on.

If they are having trouble with energy being leaked from the system, why not attempt to just aquire energy from nature via solar, tidal, or geothermal sorces.

Also the weird non-sexual tension from a genderless being is funny, as is the Foxbush.
No. 889330 ID: 334b68
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Red reflects. It decides that, perhaps, this is a place worth returning to. Providing two things. One, it finds Selene. Two, its stay here does not demonstrate clearly why returning here would be a terrible idea.
Red wants to know the history of this place, and more of the sentinels and the atoll in general. It decides to introduce itself, writing with care and diligence, and in very small lettering.

>Name Red. Write in sand in pan? No waste good paper.

Red shows the paper to Shei, who pauses.

"...What? What does that say? What language is that? Wait, no, those are sentinel glyphs, right? You can write those? That's amazing, but, well, can you possibly use a script anyone here is likely to understand?"

Red quickly takes the paper back and pens the exact same message, this time not in the sentinel script. This time, Red uses the only other script it can call to mind, which is the cultish scrawlings Voice of the Alchemist used.

Red shows the message.

Shei looks blankly, then helplessly to Sable. "...Can you, uh, read either of those?"
"I can read the second. Red is introducing itself as Red, and asking if it could write in sand in a pan? To not waste good paper? I think?"
Shei grins. "Actually, I'd prefer it, Red, if you wrote on that sheet and left space for me to write some notes between the lines. I'd be fascinated to have an example of sentinel glyphs and what they mean. I can get you more paper."
Shei briefly looks to Eris, who nods.
"Yeah. I can get you more paper. In fact, stay right there."

Shei leaps to his feet and dashes off into one of the huts.

Red sighs and continues penning more questions, making sure to leave the requested space between its lines as it writes its questions in both sentinel script and cult script.

>Thank you for your hospitality. I'm grateful, but I want to make it clear we're here as neutral parties and we have no desire to be involved in your politics. No offense is intended. Forest resisted but still harmful. Could possibly fetch mushrooms but could get lost and hurt or worse. Other work possible?

Then, after transcribing its words in the cult script, it pens more, as Eris and Sable (and a couple of others) watch Red's apparent fluency in a script none of them know how to even begin reading, watching the tangled complex series of circles and interwoven lines and curves appear on the paper as though the workings of a mad genius.

>Also, if you don't mind me asking, I have more questions. What is the actual danger in travelling from one side of the atoll to the other? Do any of you know of the other societies of the atoll? I used to live in a big tower and ended up on the atoll by mistake, I would like to know who to avoid and who is welcoming. My friend also does not know this very well. Also why mushrooms?
No. 889332 ID: 334b68
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Shei returns with a dozen more palm sheets, all gently held, and takes his seat again. He stares over the reams of text written in red ink by Red's hand in a mixture of confusion and delight.

"I just realised I never got your name, friend of Red. What is your name?"
"Sable, can you read these upside down?"
"I think?"

Shei gently takes the paper from Red and flips it onto his own lap. Shei gestures for the quill, and Red dutifully passes it over to him.

"So, what do these say?"

Sable tries, for a moment, to read Red's scribblings from the wrong direction, then gives up and takes a seat next to Shei on the grass. Sable's translation is accurate, if perhaps mildly coloured by Sable's interpretations. Shei makes notes underneath Red's questions as Sable reads, and Red watches Shei write in a script that starts to feel gnawingly familiar.

Shei takes another piece of paper. "It's been a while since we've had such interesting guests that didn't wish us harm. I'm going to read out the questions and transcribe the answers. Eris?"
Eris licks a claw. "I just heard them all being spoken aloud. I've been thinking of the answers. Let's go."

Eris begins her answering, pausing to let Shei catch up periodically. "I understand your reluctance to participate in our democracy, as a traveler. I was more of the adventuring sort up until about two or three years ago. I know I would have done anything not to be tied down to a specific part of the atoll.

"I only asked after the mushrooms because it looked like you two had no problems navigating the forest. I didn't think about the possibility of falling into the forest from above. I don't know how you survived but I won't demand you go back in to risk death on my account. It looks like you have certain other skills that could matter more than fetching medical supplies could. We have other suppliers. What we don't have is anyone who both knows the sentinel script and is willing to let us study it. The Blue Diamond party has something of a monopoly on that, and it'd be useful to weaken their grip on it if it was taught to all other parties.

"The danger in crossing the atoll lagoon lies in the fact it can be hard to predict what will happen. From below, the abyssal chaos creatures can strike at any time. From above, sentinel shards can misidentify your vessel as a threat and attempt to sink it and detain anyone registered as onboard. The sentinels, for some reason, are not fond of boats or sailors that approach their floating island.

"From my travels in my relatively younger days, the societies I know outside this segment are the delphic tribes of Swimmer's Beach, and the hierarchical Keepers of the Relics of Makers Absent. All others have... fallen, in some way, and ended up subsumed into the others. This segment was once known as the Tribelands, and to the east, the city-state of Reach once stood. Now it is a blasted wasteland sealed with a dome and rigorously patrolled by sentinels. And the Tribelands are now known by no official united name. The tribal chiefs were wiped out in the same cataclysm that saw Reach fall, and the sentinels thrust this democractic structure upon us."

Various listeners and eavesdroppers around the group all seem to have expressions of sad wistful longing, barely suppressed anger, or disenchanted acceptance.

"I feel democracy itself has more merit than alternatives, but the sentinels came too late to protect us, caged off the few survivors among the city ruins to an inevitable death, and then forced upon us a societal structure that served to take a broken community and snap it further apart into parties who are drifting further and further apart. There's too few of us for any real consensus to be had and so we just keep to ourselves and maintain an awkward stalemate where no one party will ever achieve a quorum. We've been trying for a coalition with the Blue Diamond and Green Triangle parties for a very long time, but the Blue Diamond and Green Triangle parties will never willingly work together. And the Black Square and White Shard parties are intentionally ruining this entire system for everyone else."

Eris sighs, deeply. Other Red Circle members pat her on the back and shoulders, nodding in agreement.

Red's heart sinks a little, this candid honesty coming as both a surprise and a blow to the idea of this place being an overlooked place of peace.

Something deep within it screams at it to listen to the plight of these people, to understand why their society has fallen, and to work towards fixing it, and the more Red tries to analyse this voice within its mind, the slipperier and fainter it becomes. Almost like an ancestral memory. A ghost of a past it's never had, like its perfect fluency in the glyphs of the sentinels.
No. 889333 ID: 334b68
File 152937011024.png - (83.18KB , 800x600 , at74.png )

"Yet," says Eris, lifting her head up, "at least we have some hope." She pats her belly. "Let me tell you about the values of the Red Circle party, if you'd be willing to hear them."

Red suddenly snaps back to the present reality and feels a cold sweat come on. It worries deeply that it's already gone too far and if it doesn't watch out it's going to end up snarled in these local politics just like Vigilance warned about. Thinking back, perhaps Vigilance's warning was not one of a physical threat, but a mental and social threat, a tarpit that Red could easily find itself lost in the more it stays here and feels empathy for the people of this atoll segment.

Red notices Sable, sitting next to Shei, enrapt and hanging onto Eris' every word. "I'm willing!"

Red fears it may already be too late to make a graceful exit.

Red shakes its head vigorously and gestures for the quill from Shei, who is too busy writing down everything Eris has just said to notice Red's inaudible plea.

Eris notices Red's plea instead. "...Ah. Ah, yes. I know, I know, I understand. You want to get going. Well, the Red Circle does not specifically own a boat, but we do maintain the east docks. It's about an hour by foot to the south. Just walk towards the lagoon, and walk towards the east if you get to the beach before you see the docks. I'll send word that you two are travellers looking to make it to Swimmer's Beach. And for your service in providing us with some notes on the sentinel script, I'll make sure we provide you with supplies and an experienced boater."

Eris is handed a bowl of stew, and dips her snout into it, chewing thoughtfully. "Of course, it'll take some time for that to happen even with the gates. Feeling hungry?"
No, thinks Red.
"Yes!" says an enthusiastic Sable.

Red concedes to itself that it should perhaps let the one of them that feels hunger answer that sort of question.

Shei takes his leaves, quill and ink and saunters off to his hut. One of the Red Circle members, some sort of squirrel creature, notices Shei wandering off, and wordlessly stands up and chases after him.

Sable is passed a bowl of stew. The female crocodilian server offers Red a bowl.
It smells like garlic, fish, onion, more fish, even more garlic, and has a faint afterscent of sulphur. Red's eyes water from just the smell alone.
Red politely declines. The server nods, and wanders off.

Shei comes back with what looks like a small tetrahedron made of the same crystalline substance as a sentinel shard, and sets it down in front of Red.

"Oh? Oh, that's not a bad idea," says Eris, between mouthfuls of stew. "The record of the most recent segment assembly. Can't think of a fairer way to introduce you to the parties here than that."

Red looks at the tetrahedron, confused. Shei taps it in some specific manner and shimmering lights coalesce into images of a scene in miniature, hovering above the topmost vertex of the tetrahedron as it glows softly. Sound emanates from the tetrahedron, the ghosts of the past captured for the future.
No. 889334 ID: 334b68
File 152937012583.png - (114.91KB , 800x600 , at75.png )

"I am the sentinel Archivist Pattern 9, present on request as an impartial observer for this segment assembly," chants a sentinel shard. "Representatives, please state your names and affiliations, and summarise your positions. Briefly. This is not scheduled to last longer than two hours."
"Eris, Red Circle. We believe in repopulating the atoll, protecting shapes and kinds facing extinction, and in breaking the Limit. Life is worth dying for."
"Carve, Blue Diamond. We believe in defending the weak, arming ourselves against the Enemy, and in following the principles of the sentinels. Be vigilant, protect others, purge the invaders."
"Starknown, Green Triangle. We believe in reason and restoration, mending the environment of this broken atoll, and focused research and study. Scientific enquiry is the light that leads."
"Lotus, Yellow Hexagon. We believe in industry and advancement. The Makers were nothing special, and we can exceed them. Progress is the way forward."
"N-67. Dead Square. Fuck you," says the fifth representative. The sixth representative yawns.

The crowd doesn't seem so much shocked as annoyed, with some of the representatives rolling their eyes. Carve crackles with rage. "Do not address a sentinel pattern with such blatant disrespect! Learn some manners!"
"This entire 'democracy' is a stupid sentinel puppet show being played out to make it look like we're doing anything with our lives other than being dressed up like pets to appease their own sick pleasures. I'm not going to pretend otherwise, you disgusting sycophant."
"You dare?!" shouts Carve.

"ENOUGH. This is not the time or place for disputes. I do not have the time. Let me amend the record. N-67, Black Square," says the sentinel shard. "Opposition of all sentinel interference in the atoll, active destruction of all sentinel works and sabotage of their efforts."
"Yeah, like I said, my position is fuck you. Also, it's Dead Square."
"The designation I have on file says--"
"The designation on file should also be fuck you."

The sentinel shard emits what sounds like a long, weary sigh. "Continuing on, last representative."
"Uh? Oh. Salp, I guess. What's our party again?"
"You are representing the White Shard party."
"Oh right. Hi I'm Salp. I'm here for the Whatever Shape party. I think that's what he called it? I dunno, I was super drunk last night, then I found out that I signed a thing that said I had to come here?"
"You are definitely representing the White Shard party," sighs the shard again.

"That's all six accounted for. This assembly has been called to discuss the sightings of the chaos creature Voice of the Crown in this segment. Each representative has been briefed..."

The sentinel shard rotates to face Salp. "Each representative has ideally been briefed on this matter. What approach will the parties take to this mutual threat?"
"Just fucking shoot it," says N-67, leaning back in its chair.
"...That's it? What an excellent idea. Clearly, the idea of attacking it with projectile weapons is a solution that our finest crystalline minds could never have come up with in independence. This is truly the greatest revelation ever bestowed upon us by mortal minds. Please, anyone else give me a sincere idea before these two limpets crack my shard apart with their brilliance."

Everyone starts talking at once, and Red can't follow any of the individual voices. The recording abruptly freezes.

"Oh, that meeting," mumbles Eris. "We... stopped inviting Black Square and White Shard to assemblies after that."

Red slowly nods, inwardly screaming about leaving right now before it sinks any further into the mire of this intractable mess.

"Still, are you sure you want to leave so soon? It's been a fair while since we've had visitors, and I'm sure we can think of further ways to repay you for aiding us in translating sentinel glyphs..."
No. 889335 ID: a363ac

you guys seem nice and we might come back if we can to help out this segment but we really must get going thanks for the food and shelter but if we stay too long we could get caught in a terf war over who gets to use my ability to read the Sentinal language and I would rather that happen after we are safe with my friend and not having to leave this segment where they could take us on the move or use my friends life against me.
No. 889336 ID: b1b4f3

Ask why Black and White were even part of this democratic structure. The Sentinels set it up so why did they encourage the Black party? White isn't even involved at all, why is it officially recognized?
I think N-67 has the right idea, this is an intentional quagmire to keep the situation here at a standstill. Stability in chaos that never accomplishes anything. That said, the solution is not to act directly against the Sentinels. The solution is to ignore the sentinels and go back to an earlier form of government that actually worked. Heck, many of the party lines here sound like JOBS, not political positions.
No. 889339 ID: 4f1cbc

Your name is the same as one of the political parties, you're doomed.

Honestly, Red, Blue Green and Yellow all seem reasonably compatible. Different priorities or order of operations for approaching the same task of trying to improve and preserve life here. They all represent progress in some way, and could be united. Arguably a stable society would need to embrace all those principles. The devil is in the details of balancing them.

I'm surprised Blue and Green and the ones not willing to work together. A defense industry and research sure go together in my mind. I would have guessed Blue and Yellow would have had the hardest time, since there's a difference between revering or moving past the sentinels.

Black and White are pretty much write-off non-starter positions. Active hostility to the process and apathy respectively.

It would be nice it try and help these people work together but the really interesting question is why the sentinels felt the need to impose this system of government on them. Archivist Pattern 9 certainly didn't seem to think things were going well in the recording, and Vigilance Pattern 3 clearly has a low opinion of what's going on.

(I would make an effort to refer to and treat sentinels as individuals, rather than lumping them together as one big group. Common agenda or not, they seem more divided with more individual perspectives than the way other people are talking about would seem to indicate).

>"Still, are you sure you want to leave so soon? It's been a fair while since we've had visitors, and I'm sure we can think of further ways to repay you for aiding us in translating sentinel glyphs..."
It would probably be nice to stay someplace for a whole day where no one is trying to kill you or worse.

It might also help them understand why you had to leave if you explain you have a friend stranded in a different segment you're trying to meet up with.
No. 889345 ID: 0c3c2c

Politely explain that we were given suggested courses of action by a particular helpful intelligence and you believe it is in your best interests to follow its instructions at this time, though you would happily visit again later once you have recovered your lost friend from the other side of the Atoll.
No. 889351 ID: 91ee5f

>Red watches Shei write in a script that starts to feel gnawingly familiar.
Remember how easily you learned Voice of the Alchemist‘s script? Maybe if you look at more of the script Shei is using, you can learn it also?

>Still, are you sure you want to leave so soon?
Write that you got separated from your friend and she somehow ended up in Swimmer's Beach, so you’re trying to go meet up with her. And once you do, you’ll most likely come back here, considering how nice they’ve treated you and Sable compared to the other places you’ve been to. That is, as long as nothing attacks you and prevents you from returning here.
No. 889357 ID: bddb0f

I would avoid discussing how the politics of their politics are awry. That may get you further wrapped up and involved in this odd little quagmire. There are certainly things worth pointing to here about this situation and causes to champion if you feel like it, but not here, not now. We know too little yet and we've got a friend to recover and a bunch of answers to get before we commit to anything.

>Still, are you sure you want to leave so soon? ... I'm sure we can think of further ways to repay you...

Shake your head silently. Raise a finger, as if raising an objection. Start writing again.

"I was separated from another friend. I have it on good authority they will be where I wish to go, but do not know how long they will stay. This is part reason for my urgency."

Then relent a little. They have been nice and open as such things go.

"Still - thank you for information and accepting translation for trade. May come back later if this place stays safe. Would appreciate if it was said that we paid for services in plainer way and that these translations be kept secret for now until we've left, but understand if that's difficult to ask for."

Warn them about the potential consequences of meddling with sentinel stuff.

"This is not politics - am worried giving knowledge of sentinel script may call unwanted attention to me and your society. Some sentinels seem to have weird threat priorities and I understand there are people who would probably seek to use this knowledge for their own ends."

Think about something they mentioned, then ask them to clarify.

"So if you have no access to boat, who does?"
No. 889371 ID: ad51b8

>I feel democracy itself has more merit than alternatives, but the sentinels came too late to protect us, caged off the few survivors among the city ruins to an inevitable death, and then forced upon us a societal structure that served to take a broken community and snap it further apart into parties who are drifting further and further apart.

oh god please don't tell me the sentinels didn't just walk in and declare this place a democracy. Democracies are meant to be for the people and if the people didn't want one to begin with it's no wonder why it's staling as hard as it is. Doesn't help that it seems that everyone almost from the start divided into parties so now everyone is more focused on getting their party out on top instead of trying to fix things... except for black square who seem like a bunch of rebellious teens that never grew up and white shard who just don't seem to give a fuck. Please at least tell me they managed to set up some laws to govern the people by before they decided who the leader was? Because if no one bothered to set up any laws then these party blocks are nothing more then separate tribes who may as well be doing their own thing instead of trying to play leader for a nation that doesn't even exist.

Oh hell we need to get out of here before we can't help but become involved. Thank god red is mute otherwise I feel like they'd be screaming at this mess right now.
No. 889388 ID: 10c408

Yeah, whichever sentinel(s) is in charge here is waay too overprotective of it's ineffectual society experiment that has everyone tied up in political quagmire.

Stay out of it, and don't even point this out to anyone. We have no means of directly combating the sentinels and allying with their obvious opposition would just get us killed and drained of protoplasm.
No. 889395 ID: b38f01

We're glad to have helped a little bit, but the life of our friend is at stake so we can't get comfortable here. Thank you for your hospitality.
No. 889414 ID: 91e86c

It seems likely that the sentinels assigned their own form of "government" without considering any differences between themselves and the people expected to live by. The sentinels seem to value consensus and procedure, but underestimate how people often don't or won't. It's apparent by the way they group up and label people be similar sentiment rather than the other way around. That said, the fact that 4 out of 6 parties have no problems with this arrangement, however artificial, means their assessment isn't inaccurate. But they seem to assume consent when it is not asked for; the people should label themselves and not the other way around.
All that said, I would be surprised if the sentinels weren't the ones to draft a constitution of laws/procedure; it clearly isn't respected. You should ask about their constitution and how political parties are formed. If they don't have one, that's the first problem right there.

At the end of the day, the big difference between tribalism and democracy is about how you feel about the other guys between elections. If there isn't a sense of kinship or shared goal between all the tribes/parties, then getting anything done under a democracy is a non-starter in of itself. That a shame because uniting them could be a powerful ally in your dreams reviving the atoll and/or the lives who live under it.
Even Black and White, motivated by spite and apathy, could be sway if they just found something to look forward to. Hope is powerful, especially when it could be fruitless.

Do not underestimate how an issue can divide parties. If their monopoly on the Sentinel language is and indication, Blue Diamond doesn't like to share knowledge as much as Green Triangle would like; Security is inhibiting the possiblity of Restoration. If Eris is a smart politician, she would share her findings with Green Triangle as leverage to work with Blue Diamond. Hopefully, this would not start a civil war instead.

Or maybe Green is looking into methods the Blue fundamentally disagrees with: something forbidden by the sentinels. It is possible that people here would work with, or align their goals with, chaos creatures like Voice of the Crown. Even if Green isn't taking the huge risk in doing so, Black is most likely to work with them out of spite, if they were better organized.
Tell her that about your encounter with Voice of the Alchemist and that it was how you got separated from your friend. Ask about any rumors about anyone working with Chaos magic.

Be sure to mention your friend is also an adventurer who might be interested in coming here. You might come back, if nothing else comes up.
Then just nod to wish her luck when you take your leave.
No. 889446 ID: 05ff2f

Out-of-character knowledge: The chaos entity in >>832551 who's entropic contamination led to the creation of Red appears to bear a structure hovering over its head that could be considered a crown or crown-like. It might be Voice of the Crown, but we need a physical description to know.

Knowing more about the chaos creatures that plague the Atoll would be sensible going forward. Ask if they could share their knowledge of Voice of the Crown, such as it's capabilities, appearance and known motives.
No. 889717 ID: 334b68
File 152971349771.png - (563.07KB , 800x600 , at76.png )

Red pens more, shaking its head softly.

>I was separated from a friend. I know where they might be, time urgent though. Thank you for hospitality. I may return. If you don't have boat who does?

After passing through the interpretation of Sable, Red passes the leaf-paper to Shei again.
Eris closes her eyes. "Typically merchants arrive at either the eastern or western docks. Red Circle and Blue Diamond have joint responsibility for the upkeep and safety of the eastern docks. If there are no merchants at the docks, I would ask for help from Yellow Hexagon. Neither they nor Green Triangle are very welcoming of outsiders, but Yellow Hexagon are at least not also intellectual elitists."

>Also what can you warn us about Voice of Crown? Voice of Alchemist is how separated from friend originally. What is Crown? What does it look like? What can it do?

Sable's voice gets noticeably shaky when it starts reading the names of chaos creatures, and its voice falters and dies away just as it finishes reading Red's questions.

Shei finishes his transcript and puts the quill down. "It's best for us all if you leave before you ask any more questions like that. Last thing we need is some eavesdropping sentinel getting the wrong idea--"
Eris holds up a claw to Shei. "No. No, I want to know something. Sable?"
"You recognise those names, don't you?"

Sable shakes. "...y-yes."
"You're afraid."
"Does Red know why you're afraid to speak their names?"

Sable looks over to Red. Red looks lost. Sable's eyes water and it looks away.
Red offers a comforting pat on the shoulder, but Sable scooches away.

Eris stares grimly at Red. "Red, Voice of the Crown is the most dangerous thing on the entire atoll. It looks like a serpent, with two rows of rending limbs, with burning, dripping iridescence making up its body. It bears the trophies of its former victories and the scars of its temporary defeats, but nothing has ever stopped it from ultimately doing whatever it wishes."

Sable is trembling so much Red can see the shaking.

"If you see any creature of that description, do not consider it a hostile person, or a rabid beast. Consider it with the same care and diligence you would give to a thunderstorm with a sense of purpose. If you obstruct that purpose..."

Eris gestures off into the distance. "Nothing will be left of you but memories." She strokes her stomach.

Sable nods, terrified. Eris looks at Sable. "Even other chaos creatures fear it, apparently."
Sable stares wide-eyed and panicked at Eris, who shakes her head and shrugs. "Well, you aren't a pure chaos creature. It's not hard to tell, though. It's fine. You aren't the first one with a heart I've seen. They got a lot more common near the end of the last war, or so the history goes."
"L-l-last war?"
"The chaos creatures wage war against the sentinels whenever they've built up their forces enough. The last war ended about three years ago. The sentinels won, but at the cost of Reach and a lot of the Tribelands. I was an adventurer before and then found myself a mercenary, and after the war, I'd had enough of the violence, and came back home to rebuild."
"You've been a better chief than--" says Shei, before Eris glares at him.
"I'm not a chief, Shei," she mutters, "I'm the Red Circle party leader. This entire situation is temporary until the election."
"Yeah. The prophecy foretold of the one true election," says Shei, rolling his eyes. "Y'know, I think the Dead Square guys have a point."
"It doesn't matter if they do or don't. This is our collective responsibility and opportunity to show the sentinels we don't need their interference. Still. I digress."

Red stands to leave, gently tugging Sable up, who follows without question.

Eris waves. "Good luck, you two, and I hope we see you again."

Red nods, smiling. The two wave to the assembled crowd and head on their way out.
No. 889719 ID: 334b68
File 152971351190.png - (20.42KB , 800x600 , at77.png )

With the midday sun now starting to fall, Red idly wonders where the time went. Sable excitedly points out at the docks as the two come downhill and see the docks before them.

The docks are humble, but seem to be kept in good working condition. A male crocodilian creature wearing makeshift armor, as well as an armband with a diamond carved from lapis lazuli, loiters around the docks, apparently keeping watch, looking bored out of his mind.

"Look! A boat!" Sable cries out with excitement, and the two run towards the dock.

The boat is much smaller than what Red was expecting. It also appears to be the only one at the dock.

Standing near it, looking anxious, is a female vulpine individual with strange white and black fur. Also, as appears to be something of a reoccuring theme for everyone Red's seen since its awakening, not very clothed at all, wearing only some form of backpack. She seems lost, as she looks over some sort of scrawled map, glancing nervously at the guard now and then.

"Is this your boat?" asks Sable, who nearly scares the fox creature off the dock and into the lagoon.
"M-me? I, uh, yeah, yeah it's my boat, I set sail from Makers' Mass trying to get to Swimmer's Beach and this doesn't look like it. Is this Swimmer's Beach?"

Red shakes its head. Sable takes the lead. "Hey! We're also trying to get to Swimmer's Beach!"
"Oh. So this isn't it?"

An awkward silence passes, and the unnamed fox tucks the map back into her backpack. "Well then! It was nice, uh, talking, I guess, but--"
"Wait! We also need to get to Swimmer's Beach!"

She stares at Sable, looks to her boat, and just stares in confusion. "Ehhhn, that boat's not really made for more than two people tops and I barely have enough supplies to last for myself..."

Red isn't sure this is a good idea.
No. 889722 ID: 7fad5d

Kill the fox to feed Sable.
No. 889727 ID: b1b4f3

This is not your ride. This is a foreigner. Find someone from Yellow Hexagon.
No. 889736 ID: 757ccd

She doesn't know where she is. If she's not careful she could get sucked into this area's politics. We should work with her to find a way for both of you to get to Swimmer's Beach. Warn her of the danger and suggest you should help each other.
No. 889737 ID: 0eeebd

write that you can pay with your body if need be but you really need to go.
No. 889740 ID: 036c76

Write in the sand on the beach so Sable can read. (Add in a small thanks to Sable for all the translating they're doing for you.)

This woman clearly doesn't need us for anything now that we've told her she's in the wrong place. Except... perhaps a navigator? Or a resupply? Things we're after anyway.

And, say, if she's heading to Swimmer's Beach, wouldn't she be safer travelling alongside another boat who knew where they were going? You don't have it yet, but you are trying to procure one, along with a navigator and some supplies (wait, weren't we promised something from the Red Circle there?), If you manage, you could potentially travel together with this stranger. If she's willing to wait.

The benefit for us would be an extra body to throw at problems if something attacks us at sea, and maybe a little gratitude - and the company of someone else who might tell us things about the Atoll. If that doesn't tempt, we should just let her be on her way.
No. 889750 ID: b38f01

We know how to get to Swimmer's Beach. You have a boat. Think we can work something out?
No. 889755 ID: 0c3c2c

Oh, hey! Voice of Crowns is your daddy, Red! Not that you'd know, as you were nonsapient inanimate matter at the time.

Anyway! Politely warn this lady about the local political situation and then seek out the Yellow Hexagons.
No. 889758 ID: ad51b8

>Ehhhn, that boat's not really made for more than two people tops and I barely have enough supplies to last for myself...

Do we still have those things vigilance gave us, the floating balls of food and water? We could let her know that we have supplies if that would help and since you really don't need to eat if we ration it right we could stretch it out hopefully till we get to swimmer's beach.

Also ask if she wouldn't mind telling us the reason she wishes to travel to swimmer's beach. We wish to head their to meet up with a friend that got separated from the party. Maybe offer to help her out with the map so even if we don't end up traveling with her we can at least try and help make sure she doesn't get lost again.

Oh and if we do end up having to find someone from yellow let her know about the political situation here and for her to try and stay out of it if she can otherwise it may be a long time before she can leave... and that if she wants to purchase some more supplies for her trip she might need to do some grudge work to either get money to pay for them or to just get the supplies she needs. Just a fair warning because she really looks like a fish out of water here.
No. 889917 ID: 8df643

Ask her why she needs to get to Swimmer's Beach.

Also, ask her if she knows that going there is dangerous as undefended ships are a free meal for abyss creatures.

Inform her of local politics and tell her that you're favored by a local party. Offer to take her with you, provided she can wait for you to find a suitable merchant ship.

But whatever you choose to do, you should persuade her with your ENHANCED FLUFFY TAIL. Let her touch it~
No. 894695 ID: 334b68
File 153282749638.png - (11.99KB , 800x600 , at78.png )

The supplies Vigilance provided appear to have gone astray. Red had no control over their floating movement anyway.

Back to the matter of the available boat and its confused owner, Red agrees that trying to squeeze three people on a boat of that size would be inviting disaster.

Red nudges Sable, pointing to the ground.
In the beach sand, Red quickly scribbles some hard-to-read notes with a foot.

>wan her aot poltics

Sable squints, confused, then nods. "So, uh, if you're looking to get more supplies here, be careful about the local politics. They're, uh, intense, and complex. You could get snarled up if you're not careful."
"Oh, that's still a thing? I heard it was a thing but I didn't think it'd last this long. Well, thanks, I guess."

Sable smiles. "What's your name, anyway? I think if we're all heading to the same place between the three of us we can probably get there safer."

The marble-furred fox looks thoughtful, anxious, and still seems to sweat nervously, as if expecting things to get violent or unpleasant. "We would be going into waters I don't really want to be in alone. But..." She rubs her snout. "Not sure I want to be on a boat with a pair of strangers far from anyone's eyes. How do I know you won't throw me off the boat?"

Sable looks horrified. "What?"
"You can't trust anyone these days. Chaos creatures, sentinel interference, and people convinced there's no future for any of us. Just doing whatever they feel like."
"Why would we ask to come along to throw you off a boat?!"
The marble fox says nothing and curls her tail around her.
Sable sighs. "Let's go see Yellow Hexagon, Red."

Red nods, and the pair leave, Red looking back at the nameless fox, who stares after them.

Red waves, and the fox waves back, looking ashamed.
No. 894696 ID: 334b68
File 153282750825.png - (19.60KB , 800x600 , at79.png )

Red and Sable have not yet arrived at Yellow Hexagon before they hear a familiar feminine voice call after them.


It's the marble fox again. Red tugs at Sable and the pair stop. Sable turns back, already looking displeased. "What is it?"
"Hey," she says, fidgeting with her backpack straps. "Sorry, I've just had bad experience with other vulpics before. There's not a lot of us left that aren't... those ones. We're a dying species, so some of them... well, I've been lucky, but I've heard stories and there's so many shape-kinds on the edge of disappearing forever. Just a little concerned that a woman on her own might have... oh, it's just stupid worries, stupid paranoid worries."

Red flicks its longer, very fluffy tail at the fox. It brushes against her lightly. She shivers. Her face is a complex mask of emotion, initial annoyance at being touched mixed with the reluctant enjoyment of a faint tail brush.

"...I know the boat I have won't get me to Swimmer's Reach all the way from the Tribelands," she says, petting Red's tail as she draws closer. "Wow, this is... uh, don't take this the wrong way but you're very soft. What did you do?"

Red shrugs. Not everyone needs to know the full details of its biothaumaturgy, after all.

"What's your name?" asks Sable.
"Chalk," says the marble fox.
"You look more marble than chalky," says Sable. "My name's Sable, and this is Red."

Chalk looks incredulous. "Normally you don't get named after the colour you are," she says.
"Aren't you named sort of like that?"
"...I guess, but Chalk isn't a colour. It's a rock."
"Are all vulpics named after colours?"

Chalk still looks confused. "Did... did you not have parents or something?"
Sable and Red both shake their head.
Chalk looks stunned. "But... oh, were you both abandoned? That's sad."
"No, I was made by a--"
Red nudges Sable, and shakes its head. Sable looks confused. "I was made by some sort of ritual, and I don't know what happened with Red but I don't think Red has parents either."
Red raises a hand to its face, sighing quietly.

Chalk just looks confused. "Did... did you just show up on the atoll one day?"
"I guess that's true?"
"Oh. I didn't think the Makers were still, uh, making. Well. Welcome to our atoll, I guess. It's not the worst place but it's seen much better days."

The trio keep walking and finally get to a large domed structure, looking to be the right size to enclose an area the size of the Red Circle village.
No. 894697 ID: 334b68
File 153282752157.png - (25.15KB , 800x600 , at80.png )

A bee-like creature stands guard in the front of an entrance, a hexagonal yellow agate worn on a band around her stomach.
She doesn't seem armed with any sort of weapon that Red can recognise, but something is tied to her back.
Her antennae keep tracking, twitching and pointing in the direction of the trio.

"Well met. Where are your tokens?"
"Tokens?" asks Chalk.
"Oh. We're foreigners," says Sable.
"This is the hive village of Forge. Are you intending to immigrate to this sector?"
"No," says Sable. "We're here to trade for a boat ride to Swimmer's Beach."

The guard pauses.

"Blue Diamond has the resources to vet you. Return with proof that you've passed their security checks."

All three foxes' ears fall.

"What?" asks Chalk.
"Really?" asks Sable.
Red just glowers.

"I thought you guys didn't like Blue Diamond," says Sable.
"It's not about politics here, they have experienced judges of character and the security and strength to handle any mishaps."
"Why won't you just let us in?"
"You could be invaders, infiltrators, saboteurs, chaos creatures, anything. We need to be safe these days."
"The Red Circle village didn't have this level of security!"
"Heart isn't this near the ruins of Reach. Also, the Red Circle would willingly welcome their undoing with open arms. We are more practically minded."
"We just want a boat to get out of this place!"

The guard shakes her head. "No entry without either a token of affiliation or proof you've been verified as not posing a threat. That's that. I have one job to do here, and it's to turn people like yourselves away until they've proven either commitment to an ideology we accept as non-destructive, or that they aren't going to destroy everything we hold dear."

Red's teeth grind.
No. 894710 ID: ad51b8

...quick question, if we do go to blue diamond, will they actually vet us, or is this going to be something we're we'll be walking around in circles meeting all the tribes?
No. 894711 ID: b1b4f3

Fine. Next stop, blue shape.
No. 894767 ID: ff82d2

I'd still try to persuade her in a couple of ways. The 3 possibilities that I see are:

1. Demand to speak to her superior.
Maybe things aren't as formal as she makes them out to be. Either her "job" isn't really her job, or her beliefs aren't shared among the rest of her kind.

2. Ask her, "What if we were interested in joining your ideology?".
Not that we would actually join them, but suggesting the possibility might change her mind.

3. Offer to heal her scars.
One way to prove that you're not posing a threat.
No. 894769 ID: b38f01

Jeez, we just want to leave. Fine. How how far away is that? Might be faster if we just return to Red Circle and tell them things have changed. They might scrounge up a posse to find out why the heck Yellow is funneling people to Blue.
No. 894774 ID: 0c3c2c

Write on the ground the suggestion that every tribe is going to keep referring them to every other tribe until they give up and pledge to support one. Take offense to that idea and prepare to leave in disgust.
No. 894782 ID: 757ccd

We could go to Blue Diamond but I get the feeling we are getting the runaround. I guess we might as well take a look first.


If we choose to go back to Red Circle simply tell them things have changed. Do not say why; we don't want to be politically involved. Saying that we were referred to another by another is reasoned enough for them to insist we stay as a witness or something and be even more ingrained into their system than we've already allowed ourselves to be.

We need to get out of here soon.
No. 894783 ID: 91ee5f

>3. Offer to heal her scars.
I’m pretty sure Vigilance Pattern 3 warned us to not do that around anyone we don’t trust. Because if anyone found out about what we can do, then they’d never let us leave without putting up a significant fight to keep us.

Besides, for all we know, there might be some strange political reason having scars is a good thing and healing them might have the opposite effect you’re looking for!
No. 894806 ID: ff82d2

> >>894783 >warned us
We were simply warned about not revealing that there's protoplasm in our veins. Using Biothaumaturgy is probably not a unique still on Atoll.
No. 896442 ID: a51175
File 153376848053.png - (13.47KB , 800x600 , at81.png )

Red decides to go the path of persuasion, the idea of a wild goose chase and being sent to visit every single village in the Tribelands an alarmingly high possibility.
While Red could keep on walking with only mild discomfort, it knows Sable and Chalk would need to stop and rest and eat and sleep.
Even Red would have to sleep eventually.

Hours could turn into days could turn into weeks, and by that time Selene could have set out trying to look for Red. And then they could spend months just missing each other.

Red crouches down and starts scrawling in the grassy dirt, uprooting some of the grass as it does so.
>we're going to go in circles if we agree

Red stands up and nudges Sable, who quickly reads Red's dirt scrawlings and nods glumly.

The guard reaches for the implement strapped to her back, a slight popping sound as it comes free of whatever casing is keeping it attached to her. She wields it in both hands.
"Okay. Explain whatever ritual you're doing right now before things get a little tenser."
"It's not a ritual, my friend here can't speak. This is how Red talks to me."
"What does it say?" The guard peers at the dirt, and her frown deepens. "I might not be able to read chaos script but I can certainly recognise it."

Red slaps a hand to its forehead as it realises it should probably stop using the chaos cultist script to write things down.
But it does seem to be the thing Sable can read the easiest.

Chalk looks at the writing. "It's just a message about us going in circles if we say yes."
Sable looks a little surprised. "You can read it?"
"I travel around a lot, I've got a pretty good simple understanding of a lot of languages. Stock, Primordial, Ascendant, Tribal, Flow, the only ones I've never figured out is the hiverfox one and whatever the sentinels use."

The guard doesn't look impressed. "Why would a traveller need to know the language of chaos cultists?"
Chalk looks a little panicked again. "I don't feel like I owe you an answer to that question!"
"Then I suppose I don't feel like I owe you passage into Forge."
"Ugh. Fine. It's a useful language to know, alright?"
"It's a suspicious language to know."
"Hey, you recognised it! What do you know that I don't?"

The guard pauses, and glares. "It's my duty to be on the look out for this kind of thing, chaos cultist."
"I'm nothing of the sort!" Chalk fumes, wringing her paws together. "I just want to get on the first boat out of here!"

"Please!" Sable waves its arms in desperation. "We mean you no harm, we don't even want to go inside, all we want is a boat!"
No. 896443 ID: a51175
File 153376851545.png - (17.83KB , 800x600 , at82.png )

The guard looks over the three, staring into Red's eyes with the most suspicion. She puts the long pole on her back, where a faint click from unseen mechanism locks it into place, and removes a much smaller device. A pad about the size of a hand, metallic, with a handle gripped by the guard with tacit care.

"Seeing as you won't go to Blue Diamond I guess I'll do the checks myself. This device is an assembler design, based off recovered sentinel scraps and Maker works. It is placed on the chest of the individual to verify, and activated. Normal flesh and blood creatures will feel a slight jolt. Chaos creature hearts burst. It does dual purpose as investigative tool and weapon. Step forward to be tested, and if you pass, you can go through."

Sable starts sweating. "Is this necessary?"

Chalk storms up to the guard. "Okay, get this over with."
The guard puts the device on Chalk's sternum, and Chalk makes a yip as her entire body tenses up for a second.

"I was... expecting that to be warmer," she says, as the guard knocks on the door. Triangular plates swivel away, revealing a hexagonal threshold.
Chalk steps in, waiting for Red and Sable.

"Red," mumbles Sable, "I don't want to do the test."
Red nods.
"I think I might count as a chaos creature. I only have the one heart, though."
Red frowns, shaking its head.

Red's earlier healing of Sable gave it enough time and focus to feel Sable's inner workings. Chaos ichor flows through Sable's veins and its flesh is laced with the fibre and plasm of chaos creatures, but Sable does not emanate the same wrongness Red felt from the creatures in the Alchemist's laboratory.

"Can I just stay outside--"

"Hey. Black vulpic. You're next," says the guard. "It's not even a painful test."
Sable whines and stays rooted to the spot.
"There's nothing to fear, unless you're a chaos creature."
Sable just starts trembling.
"Look, either you get over here or I'm going to come over there and put the thing on you."
No. 896444 ID: a51175
File 153376853725.png - (17.34KB , 800x600 , at83.png )

Red walks up to the guard and bares its chest, arms thrown back.

The guard shrugs, puts the device on Red's chest, and Red feels a cold jolt through its body. Red exhales sharply, taking a couple seconds to get its breath back. The sensation of the icy cold metal touching its bare skin was unpleasant, but whatever the device did caused the same sensation to feel like it spread over Red's entire body in less than a second.

The device, however, makes an unhappy bloop and the guard groans. "Well, that's all the juice it had left, I suppose."

The guard looks at Sable, and then to Red. "So, black vulpic, tell me, honestly. Are you a chaos creature?"
Sable looks over to Red.

Red shakes its head.

Sable also shakes its head. "No."
"Well, I need to recharge this device and if you three were going to try anything funny you'd have done it by now. Just go on in," says the guard, resigned. "Can't be caught keeping guard with an empty verifier. And if you are a chaos creature, vulpic, then you know very well what kind of weapons we have to handle your kind. So, be on your very best behaviour, all of you."

The guard heads in and the trio follow.
No. 896445 ID: a51175
File 153376857826.png - (20.83KB , 800x600 , at84.png )

The interior of the sealed hive village of Forge is a complex series of corridors and chambers. Red recognises and remembers the bee folk; known as assemblers, supposedly created to be proficient in industry and natural architects. Whether or not such traits were inherent or traditional, Forge stands as a testament to the assemblers' desire to live and work within contained spaces.

The walls, floors and arching ceilings are made of what looks like wax, a faintly pleasant odour filling the environment, mixed with bouqets of flowers. Well-crafted hexagonal divots in the ceilings house glowing light crystals. Salvaged sentinel lighting crystals, given their odd assortment of shapes and sizes.

Assemblers flitter around from chamber to chamber, none lingering in corridors long. The village atmosphere is tense and guarded. Red, Sable and Chalk are regarded with more suspicion than they were from the members of the Red Circle village, Heart, and the assemblers seem less curious about them, more absorbed in their own business.

"Does anyone know where we can find a boat?" asks Chalk.
Aside from a couple of glances and dozens of antennae twitches, no one pays much positive attention. Conversations continue, a little more hushed than before, and more assemblers leave the corridors and disappear into chambers.

Sable looks surprised. Red looks at Sable in confusion.
"I can feel something," says Sable. "A chaos creature." Sable points to a door. "In there."
"You can feel them? Huh. Weird. Well, let's not go in there, then," says Chalk.
"No. It... it feels different," says Sable. "Weaker."

Red, curiosity ever winning over its desire for safety, tries the door. Like the external door, it's hexagonal, and Red finds that simply brushing a hand over it causes its triangular plates to retract.
No. 896446 ID: a51175
File 153376860121.png - (69.52KB , 800x600 , at85.png )

Walking in, Red is met with the sight of a black-fuzzed male moth creature, fluffy and fuzzy, content and relaxed with a pair of assembler females petting him.

Much like Sable, his eyes are a gentle sky blue. Much like Sable, he feels like dulled weirdness intermingled with radiant softness. He feels eerily like Sable on every magical level, save for feeling perhaps a little weaker.

Sable walks in and looks stunned.

The moth creature looks over to Sable and looks alarmed. "Hhh--"

An assembler male (a drone? a soldier? Red can't remember a lot about assembler society) walks up to the three foxes, looking displeased. "What are you doing in here? This chamber is for valued guests. I don't know who you are or why you're here but you have not earned this hospitality."
"Why do you have a chaos creature here?" asks Sable, before immediately looking like it wants the world to swallow it for asking such a provocative, dangerous question.
"He is... different," says the male. "Why are you here? I don't know how you got past the guards but it's blatantly obvious to anyone here you're also chaos-tainted."
Sable's ears fall. "I'm not chaos-tainted, I'm my own being, and we're just here to ask about a boat--"

"L-let them stay," says the moth. "I want to talk to them. Please."
The male nods, and walks over to the moth, petting him. Red's keen hearing picks up on a quiet, whispered message.
"You know how to call us if they start threatening you, yes?"
The moth gives a faint nod, and the male assembler nods in turn.
"Be safe."
The male and the two females all leave, leaving the moth and the three foxes alone.
No. 896447 ID: a51175
File 153376862061.png - (71.62KB , 800x600 , at86.png )

The moth stands up, looking incredibly sleepy.
"Uhh... so, uh, who are you guys and, uh..."
He points at Sable.
"Are you another Thorn work?"
Sable's eyes widen. "...Yes, why?"
"Oh, me too. Hi there, brother! Sister! ...Uh, uh, however that works out. Sibling? Sibling!"
Chalk looks incredibly lost. "Thorn work?"
"It's okay don't worry about it!"

Red absent mindedly pushes at the wax walls and realises it can write depressions into them.
It pauses to consider its next actions.

The moth wiggles his feathery antennae. "My name's Glass. I'm pretty fragile, you see, being a prototype, and Thorn decided I needed to be reminded of it always forever." Glass frowns.
"My name's Sable."
"That's a nice name. What brings you to this village?"
"We want a boat," says Chalk, wringing her hands in frustration. "Any idea if any of these uptight machinists have anything like a boat?"
"No idea. I only got out of the ruins to the east a few days ago. I don't know why they didn't kill me, but I passed out from exhaustion from running so much. I don't have the best stamina." Glass flicks its tongue. "But the people like me, for some reason. I haven't got anywhere else to go but they don't let anyone into the Yellow Hexagon party until Lotus feels they're ready, so I've been, uh, socialising and trying to learn their ideals."

"What are the ideals?" asks Chalk, while Red and Sable both immediately look to each other in horror.
"Well, progress and community," says Glass, thoughtfully. "Technological development, the infrastructure of the Atoll is dire, and using salvaged sentinel works and whatever gifts they decide to give out isn't sustainable forever. Also, in a world that's trying to eat anything and anyone left alone, to keep together and remember that we are greater than our individual selves."
No. 896448 ID: a51175
File 153376863304.png - (54.97KB , 800x600 , at87.png )

Glass fidgets with his antennae. "But whenever I talk to Lotus there's something she feels I don't understand yet, and when I ask what it is, she just looks sad and tells me it's nothing she can explain. It's like she wants to have me in the party, or tribe, or whatever the group is called, but something is stopping her."
"Why waste your time trying to convince these people you want to be with them if they keep telling you no?" Chalk swings her arms around wildly. "Just forge your own path! Screw these losers!"

Glass shakes his head fervently. "They like me. They want me here. And I like them. I don't know why they can't make it official, but unofficially I might as well be one of them."
He closes his eyes and tilts his head back, flicking his tongue idly. "This might be the only place I've felt at home."

Sable looks off to the corner. "Must be nice, feeling like you belong somewhere."

Red tries to understand the concept of belonging somewhere. It thinks back to its limited awareness of its abrupt awakening, and concludes that if it belongs anywhere, it belongs on a podium. But it sure prefers living to standing forever.

Red wonders where Selene felt she belonged, or if she also didn't feel like she belonged anywhere.

Red is also acutely aware that none of this is helping it, Sable or Chalk find a boat out of this place any faster.
It turns its attention to one of the wax walls and thinks about scrawling something onto it.
No. 896449 ID: ad51b8

I guess introduce yourself since I don't think you gave him your names yet and then ask if he knows where we should go to find someone to help us find a boat. It sounds like he's been here long enough to at least have a good idea on who could help us. Also ask for directions because this place doesn't have a single sign to help someone find their way around and the people seem to pretend that we don't exist and ignore any inquiry we make when we ask for help.
No. 896507 ID: ff82d2

Ask him what is "Thorn?
Ask him why do they like him. Could it be that he has some special ability that they find really useful?
Pet him to see if there's anything special about it.
No. 896508 ID: b1b4f3

We have a bit of time. This is a safe place.
Chalk knows more written languages, so ask for writing samples. You might be able to learn some of them like you learned chaos script.
No. 896511 ID: b38f01

Glass is our way out. He's got the connections with the assemblers. Tell him your story so far. Your first friend since you woke up is out there and you need the help of the assemblers to get to her.
No. 896523 ID: 91ee5f

>But the people like me, for some reason.
It might have something to do with his insect like appearance, since everyone here at Yellow Hexagon is also an insect.
No. 896570 ID: 0c3c2c

Try scrawling in a non-Chaos language. Also, suggest to Glass that the reason they can't join the party is because the Yellow Hexagons are connected in a Hive Mind.
No. 896584 ID: 30f4b7

We might be able to use our bodily manipulation ability to give him a connection to the others. No idea how practical that would be, though.
No. 896589 ID: ff82d2

> >>896570 >hive mind
If they were a hive mind, then why didn't the male drone know how we got in?
No. 897171 ID: a51175
File 153429121006.png - (36.14KB , 800x600 , at88.png )

Red decides to introduce itself, taking a claw and making some careful etchings onto the wax wall in chaos script, for Sable to read.

> Hi! My name is Red. I can't speak.

Glass looks at what Red is writing, and walks over, peering at the wall. "Oh. You know this script?"
> Yes, you can read it?
"Of course. It's something fundamental within anything Thorn makes. Be careful what you write in it, though. It's an old language of power. If you're not careful you can summon chaos creatures and invoke terrible powers."
> Oh. I didn't know that.
Sable glances over and nods in agreement. "It's not a language to use lightly, but it's all Red knows that I know."
"You can't read Stock?" asks Glass.
"I mean, I can, but I don't think Red knows how to write it."

"Red can't read Stock?!" Chalk wanders over to the wax wall, reads over Red's writing, and writes something.
Red reads it immediately as 'the quick marble fox leaps over the basking serpent', and recognises the sentence as an adaptation of an aphorism containing every common Stock character.

Red feels a little foolish reading the simple symbols of the Stock script, realising it's the direct written equivalent to the language everyone around it has been speaking. Clarity comes suddenly and refreshingly.

Red starts writing in Stock.
> Do you know any other scripts?
"Wow, you're a fast learner!"
> It might be my innate magical talent? I have a gift for languages and scripts.
Red chooses not to reveal that it feels more like remembering languages than actually learning them.

"Well..." Chalk furrows her brow as she reads Red's words. "Huh. That's odd."
> What is?
"The way you wrote that. The glyphs are more ornate than they need to be. It's like reading a text from a few decades ago."
> What does that mean?
"You write like you're from the past, is all." Chalk grins.
No. 897172 ID: a51175
File 153429123298.png - (43.70KB , 800x600 , at89.png )

Red writes in Stock on the wall.
> We're getting sidetracked. Glass, we're looking for a boat.
"Yes, you said, and I don't know where a boat is."
> Know anyone who could help?
"Other than Lotus? Not really. Maybe Snowdrop. She's usually by the docks, though."
> We just came from the docks. No assemblers there.
"Oh. Guess she's here, then."
> Where?
"She tends to work alone, unlike most of the other assemblers, so she'll be wherever it's quiet. I guess the third workshop chamber."

Glass rattles off a complex twisting turning route. Red and Sable listen with increasing confusion as Chalk just simply nods.
"That all?" asks Chalk.
"I can give you the list again--"
"No, that's fine. Come on, you two, let's go see this Snowdrop about a boat!"

Sable opens its mouth to say something and then shrugs, petting Glass as the group turns to leave.
"I wanna talk to you about some things, maybe, later."
Glass pets Sable back. "Sure thing, sister-brother. I'm sure we'll meet again before too long."
The two share a knowing, melancholy look that sends a chill down Red's spine, before they hug each other, brief but tightly.

> One last thing.
Red scrawls a question as Chalk lingers at the doorway, clearly agitated at having to stay. "Okay, one last question, then we've really gotta get going, alright?"
> What's the hurry?
"I need to get to Swimmer's Re-- Beach fast, okay?"
> Why?
Chalk wrings her hands, panic and anxiety flashing over her. "I just do!"
Glass flicks its antennae. "Red, your question?"
> Who or what is Thorn?

Glass and Sable both tense up.
"I can tell you later," says Sable. "Let's get going."
"Thank you," whispers Glass, unaware Red can still hear it just as clearly.

"Alright alright let's go before I forget the directions," says Chalk, not pausing for breath as she ushers Red and Sable out the door.
No. 897173 ID: a51175
File 153429125423.png - (37.75KB , 800x600 , at90.png )

"Why are you so panicked?" says Sable. The three hustle down the corridor with mild urgency, drawing more attention from the assemblers. The crowds part as the assemblers decide not to be involved in whatever business is driving a motley group of three vulpics down a corridor at a hurried pace.
"I can't hold onto these directions for too long!"
"We could have asked Glass to lead us!"
"Why would they have helped?"
"Why are you acting so suspicious all of a sudden?"
"Suspicious? I'm not acting suspicious," says Chalk, picking up speed.

Chalk bumps into an assembler, who calls out after her and yells insults only Red can fully understand. Red blushes, obscured by its fur.

Chalk picks up speed, and the group breaks out into a jog.

After further winding but increasingly empty corridors, the three end up at a hexagonal door, and Chalk knocks on it.
There is no response.

"Chalk!" says Sable, displaying the first sign of anger or irritation Red has seen the otherwise meek vulpic display. "What is going on?!"
"None of your business, alright?! I just want to get a boat and get out of this place!" Chalk knocks on the door, but louder and more frantic. "HEY! WE NEED A BOAT!"
"Stop! You're just going to get us thrown out! The guard said--"
"I don't care what the guard said! I want that boat!"
No. 897174 ID: a51175
File 153429126413.png - (61.17KB , 800x600 , at91.png )

The door iris spirals open, revealing an assembler female with white markings. Strange cyan stains mark the fuzz on her body.
"I don't know who any of you are, but you've got my attention," she says, a steel wrench in one hand. "My time is valuable, yours isn't. Talk fast."
"Snowdrop?" asks Sable.
"Yeah. What do you want? This is cutting into my dinner break."
"We need--"
"Boat," says Chalk, looking mildly nauseous. "Boat now, please. Need to get to Swimmer's Reach."
"...and you're paying for it how?" says Snowdrop, smacking the wrench against the wall and leaving dents in the wax.

While Red and Sable realise the harsh realities of societal economics, desperately patting themselves down for valuables they know they don't have to trade with, Chalk pulls her backpack off her back and pulls out a chunk of crystal. It looks like it came from a sentinel shard.

Snowdrop stares at it in awe. "Okay, I'm interested. I think we can work something out."
"Great you can have the whole thing, where's the boat?"
"...how recently did you get this crys--"
"Less questions, please," says Chalk, fighting back a retch. "Where's... urk... boat?"
"By the eastern docks, but you'll need the activator." Snowdrop holds out some kind of hexagonal prism, similar to the agate symbol worn by the assemblers but more intricately carved. "Take care of it, it's a prototype but it's still one of my better projects. The only reason I'm willing to part with it is because I've finished something better."
"Great okay thanks," says Chalk, eagerly taking the activator prism. "Let's go, go go!"

Red and Sable follow Chalk back with increasing concern and dread.
No. 897175 ID: a51175
File 153429127637.png - (17.22KB , 800x600 , at92.png )

As Chalk makes for the exit at a run, she slows down upon reaching the light, and takes a few steps before falling onto her knees and dry heaving on the grass.

"Are... are you okay?" says Sable, increasingly alarmed and upset.
Chalk pants and doesn't respond, a little too preoccupied to reply.

"Red, you know healing magic stuff, right? Can you help her out?"
"Don't," says Chalk before fighting back more retching. "The only one, hh, who can help me, hh, is in Swimmer's Reach."
"The right person."
"Why are you being so vague?"
"What, are you a sentinel?! What does it... urgh... matter?!"

Chalk seizes up, black chaos ichor flowing out of her mouth and staining the world with colours too vibrant to exist for long.
Red blinks and its eyes water, pained by the intersection of light and alien geometries.
No. 897176 ID: a51175
File 153429131787.png - (240.81KB , 800x600 , at93.png )

Chalk's arms buckle and she tumbles to the side. She reaches out in desperation.
"Okay," she weakly splutters. "The alchemist."
She lies on her side, panting, looking close to passing out.

Red and Sable stand stunned for a moment.

"So, um," says Sable, "Should we, uh, go back in and ask for help?"

Red crouches down and gently touches Chalk's shoulder.
Red's pulse synchronises with Chalk's, uncomfortably.

Where Sable's body presented itself to Red as a series of nets and frayed strings, Chalk's body is... something else.

Woven nets spiral around a swirling, small mass of wrongness, something similar to what Red felt in Sable and Glass, but isolated, concentrated.
The nets are clean, but where they come near the wrong mass, they corrode and corrupt and disintegrate.

Red comes to a very worrying realisation. This wrongness is somewhere in Chalk's abdomen.
Red can't trace an origin part, but it's like several of her organs have grown strange polyps of entropic matter.
It is unclear how long they have been growing, or how quickly.
Liver, intestines, kidneys, all of them seem ensnarled by strands of an ultimately connected invasion.

Red has no recollection of ever knowing of anything like this, and this realisation that this is the first time it has ever seen or known anything like this is almost enough shock to break Red's focus.

Red doesn't know what to do, or if it can even do anything.
No. 897177 ID: 0c3c2c

This appears to be the same manner of organism Voice of the Alchemist was gestating inside that captive. This is a problem. Is there anything you can do to isolate the contaminated segments of her biology without terminating vital function?
No. 897178 ID: ad51b8

can you slow down the spread or at least stop the pain? I feel going back for help won't actually help as I don't think they'll try and help her for free.
No. 897193 ID: 036c76

So, Chalk is an experimental subject of the alchemist? Maybe an unwilling agent under duress? Or maybe she got chaos'd some other way (ate or drank something real bad) and her only hope is the Alchemist. Regardless, she seems pretty sure the Voice of the Alchemist is at or near Swimmer's Reach. How can she be so confident of this? Also, how often has she been puking like this of late? She seemed to know it was coming.

Also privately write/ask for Sable's input - if there's chaos stuff inside Chalk's stomach, can they isolate it and draw it out while you try to restore Chalk's organs using you-know-what? It will probably not be healthy for Chalk to mix the two, but if the both of you work together, perhaps you can do it!

IF Sable can't help directly, a more direct, and gruesome, option might work: simply removing and heal-replacing ALL the tainted organs. We'll risk exposing our healing power and will probably waste a good deal of vitality, but if we succeed Chalk will owe us BIG and might more freely explain how she's involved with the Alchemist and also be our guide. It's not something to do lightly and depends on whether you have the time and opportunity to set it up.

As for how it'd go down, here's a few thoughts:

-Given the seriousness and potential risk, you should probably get consent from both parties, Sable and Chalk. Suggest you and Sable might be able to help with the right preparations (you can imply that the secret ingredient here is the forest life mushrooms, which seem synonymous with your protoplasm/life force), and that while it's not a sure thing, you think it may work.

-You'd want to test if organ healing/replacement ACTUALLY will work and abandon the attempt early if your healing power isn't up to snuff.

-You'd want to get something very sharp to do surgery. Using your claws is probably a stretch.

-On that note, whatever Chalk tossed to Snowdrop seemed valuable - you could write in dirt/ask Sable to re-enter the hive and 'belatedly' ask Snow if the trade can also include a really sharp cutting implement, a sewing kit, some anasthetic and a fire-making tool. If Snowdrop doesn't have some or any of these, he could ask if she has any kind of trade goods instead, and where the right tools can be found. It's an emergency.

-When sending Sable to talk to Snow, you can have him pass on a partial truth: that Chalk appears to be sick and claims the cure to what ails her is elsewhere (hence her rudeness and desperate need for a boat) and also that Red believes she might be able to alleviate Chalk's illness by doing a minor surgical procedure (hence the need for the tools).

-While doing the procedure, you'd want to avoid touching the chaos parts directly with yourself or your Biothaumaturgy. Sable's nature will likely enable them to touch and manipulate the chaos stuff directly, so they can act as the nurse, plucking away the tainted organs and containing, if able, the chaos energies as they are extracted. They might even do the surgery itself, if you have to fully focus on healing.

-You should have a fire of some kind going, ready to burn what's left of the tainted organs and cauterize the wound (if needed, or to act as a cover for the healing). Just in case.

Also: If Chalk faints, check her pack to see what else she has. She could have other items that could be of help in this situation, trade goods, anything. If she stays conscious, just ask her - if she gets defensive say that you don't intend to steal from her.
No. 897208 ID: b1b4f3

Okay we're not going to Swimmer's Reach then. Fuck getting near that guy again. No way will he help Chalk anyway.

If you do much of anything to her, it will be obvious you are an exceptional entity. The only thing you CAN do is violently extract the entropic matter then reform the missing parts of her organs. This should be done after making sure she cannot feel pain. She should probably be unconscious for it too.
So ask her first if she will swear on her life that she will keep what you are about to do completely secret. If she says yes, then drag her somewhere secluded to perform the extraction. Glass should not witness it.
If she says no, tell her good luck; you're not going with her.
No. 897246 ID: ff82d2

Sable can control chaos magic right? Could he use that mess inside her and create somethng organised out of it?
No. 897262 ID: b38f01

We bypass as much as we safely can. Pain relief until she can make it to The Beach. She has a cancer. We can't be feeding it.
No. 897281 ID: ad15a6

We shouldn't be prepping for surgery here. Red doesn't know what this stuff is and we don't know how it will react to our magic. If we can give her some pain relief, do so. We should be getting to that boat as soon as possible. We don't need to deal with the alchemist ourselves; we can part before Chalk goes to meet her.
No. 897288 ID: 465a14

Use life magic to transform the chaos cancer into a baby and make her pregnant.
No. 897289 ID: 486e87

Honestly I'm not sure what to do here other than try to apply life magic and hope for the best. I'm not sure how it'll interact with what is probably chaos magic.
No. 897290 ID: a363ac

Hug her from behind and get her to sit in your lap and pet your tail while you, use your magic to turn that chaos power into like triplets and make her pregnant and then everyday heal any damage done as the chaos solidifies and pulls back into the children.
No. 897297 ID: 036c76


We can infer it's POSSIBLE to make people (/babbies) out of chaos and protoplasm, as Chaos magic and protoplasm combined made Sable, but that was under controlled circumstances by chaos cultists who at least had some idea of what they wanted (even if they did not achieve their intended goal). WE haven't tried it before and don't know if anything else is necessary to make it 'work out'. Maybe we can speak to Sable about Thorn's techniques, as this person - presumably one of the chaos cultists - appears to experiment with precisely this kind of stuff. Maybe Sable picked up some pointers on how he or other 'Thorn works' were made before he ran away. Maybe even Glass knows something, if we can go back inside the hive.

Trying to achieve the 'babiefying' effect - somehow - on the chaos here (which is stuck on the organs, and not in the womb, don't know if that'll have an effect) and our own excess protoplasm may be even more risky than trying to surgically remove it. Really, surgery is just the brute-force option here - ideally, Sable draws out the chaos taint and Red heals the organs. That's probably the best option to take if it works.

Making a baby may also work, but even so there's the question of consent and how we're going to sell this (if at all) to Chalk. If she cannot be made to trust Red and Sable and remains conscious to resist them, that'll likely make anything we attempt on her harder - and how do you think she'll feel if we suddenly make her pregnant? Surgery-healing might be the easier sell. That said, whatever option's safest/easiest to achieve after consideration is the one we should try to convince her of accepting.

Lastly, as it hasn't been suggested yet, we can just go with the flow and not help her with her problem IMMEDIATELY and - for the time being at least - just bring her / let her go to Swimmer's Reach.
No. 897298 ID: b1b4f3

Hmm, a decent idea. Either that, or Sable can absorb it.
No. 897302 ID: c9f250

Why would.. baby.. what...

Try a few drops of life energy but holy shit don't try to cut her organs into pieces, they won't appreciate it.

And as wonderful as plan 'remove all organs' is, we're not that desperate yet.
No. 897408 ID: a51175
File 153445851536.png - (35.39KB , 800x600 , at94.png )

Red snaps out of its biothaumaturgic synchronisation with Chalk. Chalk and Red both gasp in sudden pain.
The sudden absence of warming life infusion hits Chalk just as unpleasantly as Red's sudden pains as the protoplasm in its body stabilises, pressures cascading as a passive flow is abruptly shut off.

Even when just looking into the biology of another, Red's overabundance of life flows into them while synchronised.
Some level of passive healing appears to be unavoidable, but all it seems to have done is alleviate some pain.
For better or worse, it has not affected the actual root of Chalk's problems.

As for the ideas of replacing organs completely, Red is fully aware its powers are limited and its understanding is still ever-changing and evolving.
If Red had the capacity to regrow organs in such a fashion, it would have been able to improve significantly more about its own body.

But Red does know how to heal what should already be there to its working capacity, or at least provide enough of a boost for natural healing processes to take over.

Red grabs Sable urgently, and Sable stares, immediately looking to the dirt for Red's next words.

> Chalk is infected with chaos ichor. I can feel it all around her abdomen.
Sable nods, and places its hands on Chalk's stomach. Chalk groans.

"I can feel it," says Sable. "Chalk, we're going to help you."
"What are you going to do to me?" Chalk half-slurs the words.
"Help you. Red, take the backpack off her."
"It's all I have," whines Chalk.
"Red, take good care of her backpack," says Sable, softly.

Red gently removes the backpack from Chalk, who does not resist, and sets it gently on the floor, keeping its tail on it to make sure it doesn't go missing.

"Close your eyes," says Sable.
Chalk closes her eyes, and Sable does the same.

Red feels a sudden lurch as the corrosive grittiness of chaos magic assaults its senses. Sable raises one of its hands, outstretched with an open hand as an inky orb slowly bubbles up.
It floats above Sable's hand, more inky bubbles congealing from Sable's hand and falling upward to merge with it.

Red sits next to Chalk and attempts to resynchronise, wanting to make sure whatever Sable's doing doesn't affect her too greatly.
No. 897409 ID: a51175
File 153445852967.png - (275.57KB , 800x600 , at95.png )

While Red's biothaumaturgy does not let it sense the exact state of Chalk's organs, the location of the swirling morass of chaos energy seems to drift in location, moving further down her abdomen, shrinking as Sable pulls the chaos fluid and fibres out of her.

A thousand miles away, Red hears Sable almost whisper something. "Oh. Something's pulling back."

There's a growing sense of definition as the swirl shrinks and Red can perceive--

Red is alarmed to find there's a mesh within the vortex. Something coherent and gaining form now that it's not being drowned by the harrowing emptiness consuming Chalk's life structure.
No. 897410 ID: a51175
File 153445854134.png - (188.10KB , 800x600 , at96.png )

"It's... alive," says Sable. Red can't tell if Sable sounds disgusted or just shocked.

Red investigates further, finding that the mesh is not like Sable's. It is a woven mass of fibres that form a patterned shape, with connections entirely unlike anything it has sensed before.
Red also realises that Chalk's patterns encircle the mass as if forming a shield, and in places even connects to it.

Red moves in to sever the connections, assuming these to be the root of the problem, only to be met with sudden cloudiness as it tries to focus.

[No,] says Sable, abruptly. With the two vulpics connected via their own mystical arts to Chalk, their minds interweave.
Sable's mental voice is tinged with a resonant edge, bitter, sharp.
[No?] says Red, its silent voice somehow a whisper without characteristic or inflection in this shared dreamscape. Even in a fictional realm, Red's voice is a shade, barely existing.
[It's alive, and it feels,] says Sable. [It didn't mean to do any harm. It barely knows what it is. It didn't ask to be awoken like this, and it won't survive outside. Not yet.]
[What is it?]
[A nascent chaos creature,] says Sable. [But most of them are nearly mindless, or slaved to the will of another. This one is free, awake, alive.]
[Chalk is pregnant?]
[Chaos creatures don't reproduce this way with creatures of flesh, blood and bone,] says Sable. [And if they could they'd be risking a lot, like... well, exactly what's happening to her.]
[What's happening to her?]
[It's trying to understand itself. Pure chaos creatures like these use magic like we breathe or blink. Chalk should be dead, with something like this inside her body.]
[So did someone put a chaos creature inside her?]
[I don't know,] says Sable. [Nothing here makes sense. But--]
[Get out,] says Chalk's voice, sounding very much like her waking voice. [I can hear everything. Get out of my body and get out of my head.]
No. 897411 ID: a51175
File 153445858226.png - (15.16KB , 800x600 , at97.png )

Red lets go, wincing from the desynchronisation fatigue.

Chalk lies on the ground, panting from her own end of the desynchronisation shock, and also visibly enraged, tears in her eyes. Sable quickly shoves the ball of chaos fluid in its hand into its chest.

"This is my problem to deal with, do you understand? My problem. Not yours. Not the sentinels'. Not the Keepers'. And I have a solution. If you two have a problem with that you can go. I have a boat. I'll take my chances." With grunting exertion, Chalk sits up, clearly in significant pain. "I don't even know who you two are and if I knew either of you could peer inside me that close I'd have never followed you. Give me back my backpack."

Sable stands up, holding Chalk's backpack in one hand and the activator in the other.

"She won't help you," says Sable as it passes Chalk her backpack, keeping the activator firmly held.
"What do you know about these chaos cultist types?! I was recommended her specifically!"
"A terrible amount," says Sable. "Voice of the Alchemist will not help you. She won't help it, either. You'll both enter her lab and never leave."

Chalk looks furious. "Have you even met her?!"
"Have you?"
"Yes, alright?! I've met a lot of them!"

Sable looks visibly agitated, hand closed around the activator now shaking. "Are you a chaos cultist?"
"I'm a trader, alright? I'm not choosy. I've met a lot of them. The sentinels aren't happy with me, and I'm sure you know what that's like."
Sable pauses, and looks to the dirt. "Yeah." It looks back up. "But that wasn't out of choice."
"Hey, I do what I can to survive, alright? We aren't all made of magic goo or shiny rocks! Now, give me the key to the boat."

Sable looks over to Red.

"Red, should we give her the key?"
"What?! I paid for that, you thief!"
"Red and I just saved your life," says Sable, cold rage burning in its eyes. "And all you want to do is go and risk it all again. Pointlessly"
"Give me the damn boat key!"
"Take it, cultist!"

Sable throws the activator with all the force it can muster at Chalk, who catches it with deft precision.
"Cultist? Feh! Think what you want. I'm Chalk. Your labels mean nothing to me."
"Those labels will get you killed!"
"I've survived this far. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a life to get back to."

Chalk walks off. Sable seethes, and kicks at the dirt wordlessly.

Red watches its ticket to getting to Selene storm off down to the docks, unsure of how to react or feel right now.
No. 897419 ID: 0c3c2c

Well, we need that key. Lacking a voice kind of sucks as we can't call out. The best we could do is carve words on stone and throw them at people and that might give the wrong impression.
No. 897420 ID: a363ac

apply hug to Chalk
No. 897430 ID: ad51b8

...would it be to much to ask for chalk's side of the story?
No. 897434 ID: 91ee5f

>"Have you even met her?!"
Red has met her and can confirm what Sable has said. Chalk will enter and never leave again.
No. 897459 ID: 036c76

Hug Sable and then hurriedly write in the dirt.

"Thanks for helping. Don't be mad. We were intruding and uncovered her secret - a secret others might hurt her for, even if we won't. Of course she's upset and wary. I can tell you care about the unborn one, though, so... let's still join her. Whether to convince her to not go to the Voice or to keep her stable until she does, or even to be weirdo midwives together should it be born on the way."

Smile at Sable at that last maybe-joke.

"If Chalk tries to push us away again ask how she's feeling compared to before. Say that's why we're coming with her. If she insists on doing things her way, we can pay for our boat ride by making sure she stays alive to get where she's going. As far as we can tell, she may not otherwise. She was lucky to meet the two of us, even if she doesn't understand how much."

Pat Sable gently on the side of their arm.

"You were being aggressive to her because she knew chaos cultists, right? I understand, but keep in mind we don't know her story or why this impossible thing has happened to her and that we won't know the details unless she tells us. Even if you have good reasons for telling her off, don't yell at her at least. If we want to convince her not to go to the Voice, we have to prove that it's a bad idea, that a better alternative exists and that she can trust us to provide it. It may not be easy, or possible."

Sigh at the unexpected and strange situation this turned out to become, then write down one more question.

"Is it special for a chaos creature to be born free-willed? You seemed a little awed at the idea. Do you want to protect it?"
No. 897478 ID: 91ee5f

If we’re going to catch up with Chalk, that is way too much for us to be writing.
No. 897481 ID: b1b4f3

We cannot follow Chalk to the Alchemist. Even THINKING about her is dangerous for Sable, and we have no way of fighting her or her servants. We must stay here and work to purchase another boat. Selene will be fine.

However, we can't leave her this uninformed. Tell Sable you want to tell Chalk about what you saw in the Alchemist's lab. There was a test subject there already pregnant with what was probably a chaos creature- what would the Alchemist do with a second subject, I wonder?
No. 897493 ID: 630ac3

You are not exactly easy to label and identify yourself. You could an awakened god, or an ancient from the past, or just a powerful artifact brought to life. You don't know who you are and you want to.
But you also see the atoll in its decline and see a need for a healer: of people and places, of societies, of ecosystems. It feels compelling to be that healer.
Yet you fear doing so that means risking your very being will be enslaved and drained at worst, or treated like less like a person and more like the statue that you were at best.

Hug Chalk right now before she leaves, and try to sympathize with her.
You don't know why she wants to keep the fetal chaos creature inside her. You don't know why see would even want see the Alchemist, if she knew of their reputation. But you know from experience what would happen if she visits her.
No one should ever have to give up their body for its resources.

Ask if you could try syncing with her again. Writing could take too long and you need to make sure you understand she feels. If you can talk to her telepathically, you can transmit experiences and feelings directly.

Go along with her, but have her agree to find Selene first before going to the Alchemist. She is an experienced adventurer and knows how to get herself and others out of trouble. Get Chalk to discuss what she plans to do, though.
No. 897495 ID: 91ee5f

>We must stay here and work to purchase another boat. Selene will be fine.
By the time we do that Selene won’t be in the same spot anymore! She’ll probably have moved on somewhere we can’t get to by boat and it’ll take us even longer to get with her!
No. 897506 ID: b1b4f3

If she goes somewhere else then we can find out where, because the sentinels will know.
No. 897507 ID: b1b4f3

..if we're going to try to convince Chalk to stay away from VotA it should be using a logical viewpoint: we just saved her life, and can continue to help her survive future complications. She does not know for sure if VotA will help her and we have reason to believe otherwise, but we are willing and capable of helping.
No. 897508 ID: 91ee5f

And how exactly do you plan on contacting them?
No. 897509 ID: b1b4f3

They're fucking everywhere.
No. 897517 ID: ff82d2

It's quite clear Chalk's trying to protect her baby. Just wait and let her leave. She'll be back. She's smart so once she's alone and thinks about things, she'll choose the safest option, which is us.

There's also no rush. Let's go explore this place in the meantime. I suggest we go talk with Lotus.
No. 897518 ID: 10c408

Try and get her to stop long enough to write down something simply.

"You won't make it on such a fleeting feeling of life that I provided."
No. 897532 ID: b38f01

Do not let this boat go. She owes you her life, but you won't hold that against her because you're not like that. Quick message to Sable: "No judge. Go to beach. Split ways." Run after her.
No. 898058 ID: a51175
File 153472162261.png - (22.23KB , 800x600 , at98.png )

Red looks helplessly at Sable. It walks up to Sable, and hugs it. Sable calms a little, still tense. "I wish you could talk, Red. You can think of what to say better than I can."

Red smiles and wraps its tail around Sable. Sable looks out towards to Chalk. Red tries to make a gesture along the line of trying to communicate with Chalk with biothaumaturgy, but Sable is absolutely baffled by Red's quick series of inscrutable gestures.

Red quickly scrapes "thanks, dont mad, im talk her" into the dirt.
The Stock script turns out to be much quicker for scrawling than the elaborate chaos cultist script.
Sable nods. Red runs after Chalk. Sable follows, but at a distance.
Chalk swivels around to face Red, angrily. "What?! What now?!"

Red mimes talking, points to its hand, puts its hand on its shoulder, and points to Chalk's shoulder.

"No. No, I'm not letting you do that weird magic stuff again. I didn't say you could jump in my head and mess around with my body, and I'm not letting you do it again, okay?"
Red looks thoughtful, and mimes writing, pointing to the dirt.
"I don't have time to watch you scrawl in the dirt!"
Red tilts its head questioningly.
"The more time I waste here, the worse the problem will get!"
Red stares at Chalk unimpressed. Red points to itself and Sable and back to Chalk, patting its hands on its chest, finally pointing at Chalk with more of a dramatic flair.
"I have no idea what you're trying to say. Just say whatever you're trying to tell me, why is it so hard?!"

In frustration, Red yells I can't talk!!, only to mouth the words and for nothing more than breath to come out of its mouth.
Chalk looks increasingly agitated. "Why can't you just speak normally?! Why can you fix other people when you can't fix your own voice?!"
Red screams, I don't know! Please, I just want to talk to you! Let me talk to you! Please! You're making a bad decision!, tearing up in frustration and powerlessness, only accomplishing a more forceful sigh.

Chalk clenches her hands into fists and looks down to the dirt. "...Fine." She shuffles her backpack onto a shoulder, throwing the activator inside it. "Make it quick."

Red reaches out a hand towards Chalk's bare shoulder, and synchronises its pulse.
No. 898059 ID: a51175
File 153472163988.png - (163.08KB , 800x600 , at99.png )

In a metaphysical realm of biology and essential connection, Red's whispering voice becomes audible.

[Thank you.]
[Where am I?] asks Chalk.
[Physically, where you were already. This place, I don't actually know,] says Red. [This stuff is still new to me. I didn't even know I could talk by doing this until just now.]
[You started messing with my body and you don't even know what you're doing?!]
[I understand healing, okay? I don't understand a lot of what else this can do, but I know how to fix wounds. And Sable can move chaotic stuff around. If we weren't around you might not have lasted much longer--]
[Wrong!] says Chalk, with enough force her bio-astral voice shakes the woven patterns of her body and sends ripples through Red's own patterns. [I'd have been fine! It clears up by itself!]
[How long has this been happening?]
[I don't need to answer that!]

Red feels a twinge of pain as the violent quaking of Chalk's patterns rips at its own connection. Some of its arm muscles cramp up.

[Can you maybe be less, uh, forceful in your words? It hurts.]
[Not my problem,] says Chalk, voice dripping with contempt. [And who the fuck are you to care about some random stranger?!]
[I couldn't just leave someone in trouble behind,] says Red.
[Everyone else does.]

The pain of Chalk's statement makes Red shiver.
[What happened to you, Chalk?]

Chalk doesn't say anything, the biothaumaturgic realm swept in bitter cold and lurching tension, buried emotion threatening to breach free.

After much silence, Chalk speaks. [Why do you care?]
[Because no one else does. I know what it's like to be an outcast in this world, Chalk.]
[You know nothing.] Chalk's bitter cynicism is overwhelming, an acrid flavour almost burning Red's senses.
[You're scared and alone. I know how that feels.]
[You've never had anything to lose!]
[I know what it's like to carry secrets and to be hunted for them.]
[Secrets? What secrets?! What secrets could you possibly have to hide?!]

Red feels apprehension and fear at the idea of revealing more of its nature to someone, but it knows things cannot work one way alone.
In order to gain the trust of another, it knows it must trust them as well.
Its heart warns against treachery and deceit. Something deep in Red's protoplasmic blood carries a mournful stain of another time, long passed, of tragic mistake.

[You do have secrets,] she says, quietly. [More than I do. Yeah, this fear's something I understand.]
[I will share them--]
[Don't,] says Chalk, softly. [I have enough secrets to live with.]

The biothaumaturgic realm still flows cold, sad, tension slowly releasing as threads of icy cold flow through the joined patterns of Chalk and Red.

[It's going to destroy you,] says Chalk.
[The secrets?]
[Your drive to fix things. Half of the atoll is broken, and each time something breaks it's because someone tried to fix things.]
[I might be different,] says Red.
[None of them were alike. The sentinels, the Keepers, the swimmers, the people of Reach, they all had their own plan, they all thought they were doing the right thing, and we have ruins of two great cities, vast wastelands and the Barrier now. Maker's Folly, too. I found out it used to just be an island in the atoll lagoon, once. Now it floats. It wasn't meant to float. And that's the least broken thing in the atoll.]
[That's where I was born,] says Red. [A statue of brass, and then suddenly I was alive. I'm not like any of them. I'm something different. Something new.]

Chalk sighs. [You don't understand what I'm trying to say. The atoll won't change because of one person. No one can change the way things are as one person.]
[I don't want to change the atoll completely. I just want to help where I can.]

[You genuinely think me going to see the Alchemist is a bad idea, don't you,] says Chalk.
[She's why I'm trying to track my friend down. We got separated because of her. And she kept a captive. Alive. Asleep. With something wrong growing inside her. Maybe a chaos creature, maybe a parasite, I'm not sure what it was. It made my friend angry enough to try to stop her. I don't think it's a good idea.]
No. 898060 ID: a51175
File 153472165142.png - (125.80KB , 800x600 , at100.png )

Chalk soaks in Red's words. She mulls over them, and Red feels acceptance tinged with fear and anxiety.

[Red, I'm running out of options and I'm scared.]
[We can help you.]
[Not forever. Not for long enough. I don't need a doctor so much as a sponsor. I'm wanted by the sentinels, by the Keepers, by chaos cultists, by a lot of people. And I can't keep running forever. I was actually hoping she'd decide to keep me as some test subject, because at least then I'd be safer.]

Red shivers. [That's awful.]
[I'm not sure what else I can do. It's my life or my freedom, and being free but dead isn't something I want.]
[There's got to be another option. My friend is a skilled adventurer. We've got to be able to figure something out.]
[If they don't just turn me in to someone,] says Chalk, bitterly.
[Selene's not like that,] says Red. [She's...] Red realises how little it knows of Selene, but continues. [She's very principled. Maybe too principled.]

[no,] says a tiny voice, burbling but faintly melodic. [trap, trap, danger danger danger]

[...who is this?] asks a baffled Red.

[That's... you can hear it? That's, well, that's Spiral.]
[My... whatever it is,] says Chalk, confused and starting to tremble. [Wait. Oh no. You weren't supposed to hear that. You weren't supposed to hear that at all. You didn't hear it. It was me. Whoops! It was me all along, yes.]
[snap link, danger danger danger, run]
[It can talk?]
[Of course it can't, you idiot, it's barely a month old!] In waking reality, Red can almost feel Chalk starting to nervously sweat again. [We've made things clear now, we don't need to be doing this weird dreamtalk anymore, right?]

[Spiral?] asks Red. [Who are you?]

Red finds the creature, curled up and in tears, shaking in fear. As Red focuses on it, the creature coalesces into a visible form, tied to Chalk's projected form in biothaumaturgical space.

[I don't want to hurt you.]
[No, it's the truth.]
[lie lie lie]
[I'm friends with a chaos creature, and with them we saved your life.]
[they try pull me apart make me dead]
[We didn't know what you were, we're sorry--]
[Stop trying to talk to voices that don't exist and break this link thing! I don't know how you're doing it, I can't open my eyes!]
[no hurt maker, snap link, go away]

Red could easily just remove its hand from Chalk's shoulder, but it feels like if it just holds on a little longer, maybe it can explain to this developing chaos creature that its intentions and Sable's were in its best interest. Even though it has no common ground with a barely conscious creature of plasm, ichor and fibre.
No. 898061 ID: a363ac

lets try talking to Spiral later on the boat better not to push away anychance of talking to it by pushing chalk away.
No. 898064 ID: ad51b8

Look up to chalk and tell her that you can help her, but she has to let you help her. She doesn't need to decide right now but you do want to help her. Tell her you will let her go if she truly wishes for you to do so but you would like to talk to both her and spiral if she'll allow it and it doesn't have to be right now if she want's some time to think on it. Ask at the very least if she'll at least let you and Sable hitch a ride on the boat as well and if she truly desires to see things through on her own then we can split up once we make it to our destination. But you really do just want to help.
No. 898081 ID: b1b4f3

The best way to communicate your intentions is to do what it wants. Break the link.

Then write in the dirt that you and Sable could have killed either of them if you wanted. You are very sorry that you hurt them and you won't do it again. She can go with you if she wants but you are not following her to the Alchemist.
No. 898089 ID: 91ee5f

Before you break the link, tell Chalk that you won’t help her if she doesn’t want your help. However, you and Sable still need to get on that boat so that you can go meet up with Selene. So once we get to Swimmer's Beach, we can go our separate ways. But until then, we’re all going to be traveling together.

After that, break the link.
No. 898090 ID: 0c3c2c

Apologize for harming Spiral. Disengage linkage.

Politely write request to continue journey, offer help any time she requests it.
No. 898095 ID: deec6e

So... Chalk can hear and has communicated with Spiral, a little. She understands it's an innocent, new lifeform. It's been about a month since she 'got' it... yet she doesn't appear to want to get rid of it. She's obviously bitter towards those who consider chaos entities hostile, and is protective towards 'it'.

... maybe she has some sort of chaos-related romantic interest? One that she's lost or been separated from, and this is her remaining tie to it, so she wants to keep it no matter what, and blindly trusts it'd never harm her or let her come to harm? Mm. We'll have to ask her to clarify... but we don't have to do that through biothaumaturgy.

To Chalk: [Geez... it told you to run away, didn't it? Don't worry, I'll break the link. Thank you for your patience, and I hope you'll still let us come on that boat.]

To Spiral: [Goodbye, little Spiral. Take better care of your maker please. When you move through her, you can hurt her without even knowing, that's why we intervened. It would be safer for her and you if you stay in the womb where you are now. Ask her yourself if you don't believe me.]
No. 898137 ID: 630ac3

Advise little Spiral to listen to her Maker, not just her words but her body too. You have to teach it enough about biothaumaturgy to have it learn how to not hurt its mother. That can't happen if the fetus itself can't trust you enough to listen.
Some mothers like to hum or play music to their children while in the womb. You could try doing that here to calm him, but you would have to be very talented or practiced to appeal to what eclectic tastes of a nascent chaos creature may have.

If nothing works, you can break the link like it asked. If Chalk trust us enough, Spiral can too. She can relate anything it wants to say from now on.
Also, she may be in denial about her condition and we should address that.

-Ask Sable about Maker's Folly. Keep in mind you are not likely not setting foot in that place again anytime soon. For one, monsters tend tor roam the halls there, you are vastly unprepared for it in so many ways. But that place would be special to you, and you may remember more things if you at least hear things about it.
No. 898140 ID: b1b4f3

Wait a second, wasn't there some large faction that was friendly towards Chaos creatures that could think? I can't remember if it was the red faction here, or the non-automated operators of the Sentinels. Was it both?
No. 898148 ID: ff82d2

Tell it the following things:
You hurt maker. You pull it apart.
If your maker is made dead, you are made dead too.
We made maker feel good. Is this a lie?
We saved your maker. We saved you.
And we will make you alive. Is this not what you want?
No. 898151 ID: b38f01

"We promise we're going to try and help the both of you. We can figure something out."
Close connection. Nod to Chalk.
No. 898235 ID: 86eb65

I am so sorry little one.

We will do our best to try and help you and your mother.

Please do not cry. We are so sorry.
No. 898278 ID: 10c408

Be respectful and apologize to spiral, then cut the link like you were asked.

When you recover from disconnecting, warn chalk that approaching alchemist right now might not be the best idea. Not just because of the inherent danger, but also because she was at the epicenter of a reckless magic explosion that she apparently survived. She's probably mad about it still.
No. 899146 ID: a51175
File 153529677727.png - (87.39KB , 800x600 , at101.png )

[Okay,] says Red. [I'll break the link. Can we come with you to Swimmer's Beach?]
[Yes, yes,] says Chalk, eyes now transfixed on Spiral's manifestation as she quietly scoops it up and holds it protectively. [Let's get going.]

[Please let Spiral know we didn't want to hurt it. Just stop it hurting you.]
[It didn't hurt me on purpose.]
[What happened?]
[It was hurt, or sick. That chaos checking device, I didn't even think about it. It was trying to heal itself and it lost control. It was crying about missing what it was trying to hit.] Chalk tears up. [All I could hear was it getting fainter and fainter as I felt worse and worse.]

Chalk hugs Spiral's manifestation. [Sorry about that.]
[sorry hurting]
[You don't need to be sorry for being in pain, that's ridiculous--]
[sorry hurting you]
[sorry sorry,] wails the tiny chaos creature. [no want hurting maker]

Chalk starts crying softly and hugs Spiral more tightly, tears disintegrating into the formless aether.

Red pauses, as Chalk looks up. [Okay. I'm ready now.]
[For you to break the link.]

Red nods, and in the biothaumatic realm its eyes close.
No. 899147 ID: a51175
File 153529679180.png - (62.26KB , 800x600 , at102.png )

In waking reality, Red opens its eyes and tries to desynchronise much more slowly than before, keeping its hand on Chalk's shoulder. Red feels heavy and slow, but the pain of a sudden disconnect is absent. It realises it and Chalk have been standing in the rain for a few minutes. Chalk breathes in forcefully as Red moves its hand from her, slowly opening her eyes.

Sable is nearby, half keeping lookout, half watching the two with concern. As Red and Chalk return to waking reality, Chalk stares off into the distance dreamily for a moment longer.
"...This is just a weird magic thing. It's like a parasite or something, right? I don't know how these things emerge, it's not like it's my kid, it's some sort of magical surrogacy or something like that. Right. Yes. That's all this is. Is it even a kid, really? I mean, chaos creatures are weird, and, well, you know what I mean, right?"

Red shrugs.


Red shrugs again.

"Yeah, I'm probably right," says Chalk, laughing nervously. "Let's keep going."

The three head for the docks in a light shower.
They walk in awkward silence, Sable looking mildly annoyed the entire time.

"...also, sorry, and I'm thankful to you both."
Sable's gloom lifts very quickly. "You're welcome!! It's the first time I've been able to help someone with my abilities!"
"You could help more like that. There's a lot of survivors who have... well, bad things happen to them if they happen across random chaos creatures."

Sable nods. "How is, uh, how's the, uh..."
"It's fine."
"Good, good." Sable awkwardly scratches behind an ear. "It's rare for them to be so self-aware, you know."
"You're telling me, I thought I was going nuts."
"I meant chaos creatures."
"That's what I meant. ...What did you think I meant-- Actually never mind, we're here!"

Chalk takes out the activator and fiddles around with it, finding a button and pressing it.
No. 899148 ID: a51175
File 153529680466.png - (53.82KB , 800x600 , at103.png )

From below the water's surface, something large starts bubbling up and rises to the surface. It looks less like a boat and more like some sort of large repurposed wedge-shaped container, solid brass engraved with abstract curling patterns, with porthole bubbles dotting it haphazardly and an odd cyan glow from underneath it. Despite all signs to the contrary, it looks buoyant and seaworthy.

"That's... not really a boat," says Chalk.
Sable and Red nod in unison, eyes wide.
Chalk presses the activator again, and what previously looked like solid brass glows azure at its edges as it rapidly unfolds into a dozen segments, revealing a circular entrance.

"Well," says Chalk, after staring wordlessly for a few moments. "Got what I paid for. I'm just gonna leave the old one back at that dock."

Chalk presses the activator a few more times, closing the door and watching the ship sink and resurface.
She beams wide, before gesturing to the other two to head onboard. "No idea what that assembler meant by 'prototype'," she says, "given she clearly didn't build the damn thing herself!"
No. 899149 ID: a51175
File 153529683181.png - (84.90KB , 800x600 , at104.png )

Inside the "boat", Red lurches around unsteadily while Sable clings to a rail running around the interior.

Chalk walks around without issue, staring around in glee. "Fully enclosed! I've never been on a vessel like this before!" She looks around and all but skips to the ship's wheel, marvelling at the helm. "This must be some kind of sentinel ship! Look! It has a viewscreen! You don't get a lot fancier than that! Even the Keepers can't figure out how they make those! Genuine Maker technology! Rarer than diamonds! I can't read anything on the screen but that glyph looks like it says a storm's coming, so that's... that's going to be fun."
"Why would sentinels-- agh!" yelps Sable, struggling to stand as the wet brass ship floor shifts and bobs on the water. "Why would they build a ship, they can fly!"
"No clue, but this is the amazing!" Chalk grins widely and starts touching and patting a wide diversity of mechanisms near the wheel. "Well, this isn't what I'm used to but if I can find whatever makes this thing go forward, oars, sail or otherwise, we'll be in business!"
"Wait, we don't have supplies! We need food and fresh water!"
"Well, about that," says Chalk, letting go of the wheel and rummaging through her backpack. "I've got a purifier relic worth its weight in gold to me and then some here, it purifies saltwater into drinking water. So we don't need to worry about carrying too much."
"What about food--"

Red staggers over to the wheel, before losing its balance and desperately grabbing at the wheel to keep it standing.
The ship groans as mechanisms spin, and a violent rocking sends Sable to the floor and Chalk staggering to the rails.

"Red, try not to do that again," says Chalk, her poise disrupted.
"YES, DON'T DO THAT AGAIN!" yells Sable, clinging to the rail to prevent from sliding on the floor. "Still! Chalk, food?"
"Well, I have supplies for myself, but..."
"What? How? Your backpack isn't that full."
"It's fuller than you might think. I'm a trader, I need my inventory with me at all times."
"What, is the backpack also magic?"
"Kind of, it's a long story."
"Isn't it dangerous to walk around with a bunch of magic items?"

Chalk doesn't say anything, and continues rummaging. "Yeah, I have these, should last me the trip to Swimmer's Beach, but I don't think I have enough for three people." She takes out what looks like a small white cube. "Travel rations based on a combination of Maker magic and Keeper recipes. Two per day, I figure it will take us two or three days to get there, and I've got about ten of them left."
"That's not enough!"
"Well, not with two more mouths to feed, yeah."

Red considers bringing up the fact it doesn't eat at some point, but then figures preparing to keep three people fed on a three day journey is probably worth the inconvenience.
No. 899150 ID: a51175
File 153529684868.png - (45.81KB , 800x600 , at105.png )

"Wait a moment," says Chalk. "There's a port near Reach that'd be less than a day to get to. It's not known by any official name and isn't really very organised. Pretty much only accessible via the lagoon. We can get supplies there."

Sable finishes standing. "Reach? Isn't that the ruined city?"
"Near Reach, not in Reach."
"Who would set up a port near a ruined city?"
Chalk grins nervously. "Oh, you know, slightly less reputable traders who might find it, uh, difficult to operate elsewhere. Not a lot of sentinels near Reach, y'know? The ones there are just the ones keeping an eye for chaos creatures rallying in the ruins. Very busy, those ones."
"So it's a lawless port of criminals?"
"Well, there's some rules just to keep the place working. And there's... enforcement, of a sort." Chalk scratches at the back of her neck.

Sable looks to Red. "Uh... are we, uh, are we going to head to a place like that in a ship like this?"
"We can sink this thing on command," says Chalk, waving the activator around. "We just need to bring it back up when it's time to leave. Besides, it's an independent port town of traders, not a den of thieves. Mostly. Plus, they'll know me, and you'll be with me, so it'll be fine!"

Sable looks incredibly nervous, and Chalk's smile looks increasingly less reassuring and more desperate.

"So, let's head out, right?" says Chalk, looking to Sable and Red for some sign of confirmation. "If a storm's heading this way, the sooner we go the less chance we'll run into it."
No. 899155 ID: 757ccd

Well, we don't have any money to buy supplies here. If Chalk thinks she'll be fine there, then it is probably fine.

Also, tell them you don't need to eat. It keeps coming up so we should get it out of the way.
No. 899158 ID: ff82d2

While Sentinels can fly, it's possible some of them would have problems moving underwater. Hence this vessel.

Red should see if it can translate any of the text on the consoles and if it can figure out the extent of the vessel's capabilities. I'd venture it can move underwater, but I wouldn't be surprised if it could fly as well.

Even if you can't read anything useful, all the various controls should still be tested. Perhaps this vessel can move really fast, meaning the trip might take <3 (less than three) days.
No. 899180 ID: 0c3c2c

On the subject of the storm, why don't we just seal the door and submerge the vessel, thereby completely evading its effects?

And on the subject of the pirate port, DO NOT GO THERE. You have a woman pregnant with a chaos creature, a female pure chaos creature and a being of PURE LIFE ESSENCE. They would rip all three of you apart! Just suggest they grab some dirt so you can use life-essence to grow berry bushes or something.
No. 899181 ID: e7848c

What if we spend the night in here and ask Glass for supplies once the storm passes?
No. 899184 ID: deec6e

While it's slightly reckless, I think we should head to the black market port straight away - Chalk is a trader and feels confident she can handle these people. She also probably has goods to trade and acquaintances to get in touch with there, so letting her call the shot here will make her more inclined to trust us. As for the reverse, trusting her, if we're really worried, Sable and Red can always insist on staying on the boat, keeping guard so that nobody steals it. That said, I'd like for us to go with Chalk to get a feel of that place. The people lurking near Reach may have their own history or perspective on things, so we might be able to learn more of what caused its fall. We may already have a few clues from the messages we translated for the Voice of the Alchemist, and it would be good to learn more

For that matter, we could maybe make use of Sable's chaos control ability as a bartering chip. Chalk did say it could help people affected by Chaos Creatures, and that place may have a few! Even if they're people at odds with the Sentinels, having a few favors owed to us couldn't hurt.

As for the storm, it should not be a huge issue if this is a submersible vessel. Maybe if the storm lasts for days and/or breathable air becomes an issue, forcing us to surface regularly.
No. 899194 ID: ad51b8

Ask chalk what we should know about that place before we get there so we don't make a fool of ourselves or anger the locals. Also money, we don't have any and rather not mooch off chalk the whole journey. Lastly, this looks like a sub, can't it just travel underwater to avoid the storm? and does Chalk think it might be safer to park the ship away from the port and then walk if that would be possible just to make sure people don't try and take the boat?

As for what you can do know, first find your sea legs, then start deciphering everything on the boat and let the others know what everything says.
No. 899200 ID: a51175

hi it's me the author and before this starts going downhill fast, Sable is gender neutral and sexless, thanks bye
No. 899236 ID: 630ac3


Also, keep in mind that your group does need a capable bodyguard if you get into trouble. Selene would be ideal, since she's a friend, but hiring someone from there may or may not be a good idea.
No. 899260 ID: ff82d2

Does this mean I can't suggest Sable to impregnate Red with some of that sexy chaos magic?
No. 899667 ID: a51175
File 153566926746.png - (19.21KB , 800x600 , at106.png )

Red peers at the screen and, while Sable moans and clings to a rail for dear life, starts reading its shifting display.


Red can't find anything regarding instructions, while Chalk looks out at the storm with growing concern. "Well, at least this thing can't capsize and sink."
"I want to get off the boat!!" wails Sable. "Why are we on a boat with a storm approaching?! This is a terrible idea!!"

Red stumbles over to the viewscreen, and finds that, as it tries to regain balance, putting its hands onto the viewscreen leave faint glowing marks. It starts writing.

> Dive please Chalk storm probably not as rough below

Chalk shrugs. "I've never tried sailing or rowing a ship underwater but I've never felt the waves when diving before. Makes sense to me." She takes out the activator and presses it a few times, sealing the door and starting a dive. Sable starts panicking more loudly as the sky visable from the portholes rapidly disappears.

The boat rocking stops very quickly, and other than a slight tilt, the surface becomes very steady. Sable, coiled around the rail, slowly lets go and walks around.

Red strolls around the surface, watching streams of bubbles flow past the portholes. The light in the boat dims down and the screen shifts to a more abstract view, and Chalk looks at it, as well as the wheel and the mechanisms around it.

"Hm. The buttons on the activator look a bit like the glyphs on this setup," she muses. "But there's a few glyphs arranged in an odd setup that I can't recognise."

Red moves closer to the controls, to see if it can make sense of them, but finds the glyphs are not written words, instead abstract symbols. It doesn't recognise them either.
Chalk tries touching a glyph experimentally, and Red looks at the screen as more information shows up.


Red hastily scrawls quick translations onto the viewscreen, while Chalk watches with initial confusion.

Sable moves closer to the pair, inching around via the rail. "So we're not going to that place, right?"
> It's probably our best shot. Chalk sounds like she knows what she's talking about.
"I frequently do," says Chalk, giving the wheel a slight nudge and watching the bearing display change. "Huh. That's incredibly helpful, or it would be if I could read the numbers. Faster than a compass."

Sable looks at the viewscreen. "Wait, that's a map of the atoll!"
"Yeah, but I mean, I don't know where we are on it--"

Sable points to a subdued glowing triangle near the north lagoon edge of the atoll.

"Oh," says Chalk. "Huh. There's a lot of stuff on this thing. So much, it's giving me a little bit of a headache, so, uh, someone else want to take care of piloting so I can focus on navigating--"
"I don't think either of us know how to sail, also Red can actually read the map and all the fancy numbers."
> Just point to where we're heading, Chalk.
"Well, let's see. If we're here, then we need to head right about there."

"Ahh Red what does that sentinel scribble mean?! I just tapped the surface!"
> It said 'destination set' and now all the numbers changed based on how far away we're from it.
"...This thing is bewilderingly helpful and confusing in equal measure."

With only mild further confusion and a growing level of teamwork, the trio get their new submersible boat-like vehicle working. Chalk learns the impact of the various acceleration and deceleraton glyphs and Red finds new application of knowing how to read strangely written numbers and figures. Sable simply stares out of a porthole the whole journey, anxious.
No. 899668 ID: a51175
File 153566932302.png - (40.85KB , 800x600 , at107.png )

Less than an hour later...

The vessel resurfaces slowly amongst other, far more run-down and cobbled-together ships.

"So, just remember," says Chalk, the last to leave, "Leave all the talking to me, don't make eye contact with random people, and above all else be respectful and we'll have no trouble." After stepping on the dock, Red and Sable both nod, and all three look back as Chalk hits the activator button to sink the vessel again.

"Oh no," says Sable, freezing up. "Oh no oh no we need to get back on the boat--"
"It'll be fiiiiine!" says Chalk, patting Sable on the back. "If this place was too bad it'd drive away the potential customers. Just don't expect to be pampered."
"I have a very bad feeling about this," mumbles Sable. "Very very bad. Red, please stay near me."

Red slowly nods its head. Sable starts wrapping its arms around itself.

"It'll be fine," says Chalk, smiling widely. "We'll be safe. I promise. Now, if we keep hanging around this dock too long it's gonna look like we're going to steal someone's ship, so let's get going, alright?"

Sable looks desperately at Red for help, or at least reassurance. Red nods and wraps an arm and tail around Sable. The three venture into the nameless market. No one pays them much attention, save for wary glances to check for arms.

Red's eyes pass over wares that seem to mostly be smaller artifacts, some leaking their magic potential with haphazard sealing. Broken brass and crystal constructs are dissected and their mechanical innards discussed and traded. Prices are discussed in hushed tones, and several merchants are clearly armed. However, what also catches Red's eye is a stall with people bound and tied to a display.

"Don't start heading over there," says Chalk, casually, "the slavers don't see a lot of business and they might start getting excited."
"Keep it together, Sable, and yes, this is the best place they can do business. Also, they don't restock with customers, that's a terrible business plan."
"You-- you don't find that horrifying??"
"This is far from the first time I've been here. I told you, they know me."

"HEY, CHALK!" yells a voice from the slaver tent. "BINDING CHARM ANY GOOD?"

No one else in the marketplace bats an eye while Red flinches at the volume.
No. 899669 ID: a51175
File 153566935076.png - (17.56KB , 800x600 , at108.png )

Sable freezes up on the spot, tense. Before Red can investigate why, Chalk lets out a yelp as suddenly, standing before them, is a black wolf creature, with red chaos script on the left side of his face, a conspicuous strange symbol on his chest, and more script covering his left hand and left foot.

"Watch where you're playing with your magic tricks, I almost ran into you--"

Chalk's ears raise to points as the figure turns to face them. She gives a sheepish, nervous grin. "H-h-hi Ren--"
"The name," snarls the arrival, "to all who care to use it, or remember it, is the Voice of the Predator. As you should know already, Chalk."

Chalk meekly nods. "I, uh, I'm here on b-business--"
"Business, yes. Always business." The Voice of the Predator slides his right hand onto Chalk's stomach, and looks irritated. "An entire month and still that small, huh." He also pats Chalk's chest, as she flinches back.
"I... I, uh, I don't, that is, if there's a thing I'm, uh, supposed to be doing, I don't know--"

The Voice of the Predator growls in frustration. "Some choice you turned out to be." Chalk says nothing, but glares, and the Voice of the Predator shrugs. "You know, there were other ways to repay--"
"Let's not talk about it right now," says Chalk. The Voice of the Predator is caught offguard, but gives a slight nod.

He turns his attention to Red and Sable. "Are these yours?"
"They're with me, if that's what you mean, and we're not staying long."

Tears run down Sable's face from pure fear, and Red casually puts itself between Sable and the Voice of the Predator. The Voice of the Predator notices this, and grins, baring his fangs.
"Well, these two are far too weak to gain any satisfaction in hunting. You could probably take both of them down at the same time yourself, Chalk."
Chalk shrugs uneasily. "I mean, you know fights aren't my style."
"Fair fights, perhaps." The Voice of the Predator chuckles. "Lucky for your charges here, I'm also here on business. A white capric. Male. Blue eyes. We're trying to find him."
"Oh. No, haven't seen anyone like that."
"A pity. Well. Live well, Chalk. I'm sure we'll see each other soon after your business here's concluded."
"Live well, R-- Predator."

The two start to lean in to embrace, then both straighten up, cough, murmur, and start moving on their respective paths.

Red notices that Sable has gone missing and curses itself for getting wrapped up in eavesdropping on a conversation it wasn't part of. Red quickly looks around to see where Sable went, making sure not to lose Chalk, who seems lost in thought for the moment.
No. 899670 ID: a51175
File 153566936822.png - (47.42KB , 800x600 , at109.png )

Pacing through the marketplace, many of the vendors and traders pointedly ignore Red looking around with strange purpose, but some of them move their hands closer to their weapons to be safe.

Turning around, Sable nearly sends Red flying to the ground as it smacks into Red running at hysterical speed.


A glimmering white chaos creature walks towards both Sable and Red, opalescent sparkles scattered over her naked body. The crowds in the street all part to not be in her way.
The creature lifts her legs up as she starts walking with thick arms sprouting strangely from her back.


Red has a slim time interval to do anything but Sable's pursuer is advancing rapidly, rubbing her claws anxiously against each other.
No. 899675 ID: ad51b8

step in front of stable and keep her behind you.

Also why did she wonder off?
No. 899677 ID: 0c3c2c

No. 899684 ID: deec6e


Welp, there's the other shoe to this place, Sable's... creator? Genesis? 'Just want to talk' could mean anything, but since they seem kiiinda crazy and threatening with causing enough ruckus to call down THEIR attention (Sentinel or Chaos bigshots? Maybe the former, given how many are in the background), maybe they really do want to just talk? Depending on how this plays, Chalk may or may not intervene to help out - I don't think she'll stick her neck out if it comes to blows, Thorn seems kinda like a bigshot - although she might offer mediation or advice if we can manage to play it cool and get Thorn (and Sable) to chill down as well.

We should definitely be careful about not getting into an altercation. One wound and everyone will see we're a life energy smorgasbord for the taking. Talking, even with chaos-affiliated things, seems to have worked out for us surprisingly well so far. As much as Sable does not want it, it's probably our best option. For one, running from a chaos creatures with multiple powerful limbs and an unknown threat on top seems a bit like a fool's errand. At least if we stay put, the local area's skein of civility might help protect us.

As for means of communication, we should be careful about using biothaumaturgy to start with. Thorn's chaos-y and might actually be competent at it, considering she creates people like Glass and Sable, so initiating it MAY be giving her an advantage AND tell her that we're full of the good goop. She'd be very interested in that, given the crowd of cultists she ran with (and possibly her) wanted to kill Sable to recoup their loss of it.

>Wat do?

Gesture for Sable to step back, quickly draw the chaos symbols for 'Distance - Talk' and then wave your arms at Thorn and point at it. If she still tries to bowl us over, step back and shield-hug Sable, providing a warm body between them and Thorn so she can't pick them up or touch them easily. Pat them on the back, then sign on their skin 'Try talk. If talk bad, then run with Chalk - will distract.' Worst-case scenario, we'll try biothaumaturgy to stun her - perhaps Sable can do something about her if she's distracted... or at least manage to get away.


Probably wanted to get a little distance to Chalk's awkward lover(?) / friend on account of 'em bein' a terrifying chaos cultist troubleshooter. Sable's professed reasons to be nervous of chaos cultists, what with the crowd that made them all wanting to kill them.
No. 899725 ID: 2bfc8e

Yeah this seems reasonable.
No. 899728 ID: ff82d2

>A white capric. Male. Blue eyes
This one? >>832549 hehe. Altho I can't tell whether Red was already conscious at that time or not to remember the subject running past.

>Voice of the Predator
Should make a note to ask Chalk about the history behind the symbol on Ren's chest later on.

Sable's proved to be quite a chicken with all his worrying so I don't believe his actions here are reasonable.
Red should grab Sable's arm, and then grab Thorn's arm, and activate the synchronization.
If that's impossible then... do the same but with Thorn alone. The last time we used it on Chalk, she was unable to break free.
No. 899734 ID: b38f01

Stand up, brush yourself and Sable off. Take a breath and walk away with Sable in tow. Ignore the heckler until you get back to Chalk.
No. 899736 ID: 757ccd

Don't run, but put yourself between Sable and Thorn. They can speak, but don't let them too close.
No. 899737 ID: 91ee5f

Grabbing Sable’s hand and running sounds like a good idea right about now. Hopefully you guys can find Chalk in this crowd.

>Sable's proved to be quite a chicken with all his worrying so I don't believe his actions here are reasonable.
If Thorn is one of the cultists that created Sable in order to sacrifice it as part of a larger ritual, then its actions of running away from Thorn is a very reasonable thing for it to do, since Sable doesn’t want to die.

>activate the synchronization.
That is a terrible idea. Especially when we’re in the middle of a town with a bunch of thieves.

>The last time we used it on Chalk, she was unable to break free.
That might be because she wasn’t strong enough to force herself out of it. Thorn could possibly force herself out of it and significantly hurt Red in the process.
No. 899746 ID: ff82d2

>running away is a reasonable thing for it to do
There's several reasons why I think it's important that we talk with Thorn here.
1. Thorn said she just wants to talk. I see no reason to assume someone is lying by default. In fact, while Thorn did create Sable, there's no proof at all that she was the one that wanted to sacrifice Sable.
2. It's likely that after Sable got away, whatever plans Thorn had with Sable had to be scrapped as Sable would be presumably dead. If she's not after Sable anymore, then this knowledge would give Sable a nice peace of mind. One does not overcome fears by running away, but by facing them.
3. I think it's very important that we learn the exact circumstances surrounding Sable's creation. Sable said it knows almost nothing about it. Learning about these circumstances may be critical in our future ventures.

The arguments that you gave actually support the synchronization idea. Because we're in the middle of a town, it's good to use it because that way no one will hear us talk. Btw, Chalk specifically said this port wasn't a den of thieves.

>Thorn could possibly force herself out
Chalk was unable to do it, so there's no evidence that Thorn could do it either. Besides, even if she did, she would be hit with the desynchronization shock giving Sable enough time to run away.
No. 899762 ID: 630ac3

Talking is good here, from a distance, in public, where noone can hurt each other. Set yourself between Sable and Thorn and see if you get them to talk.

Syncing with her should be a last resort because:
- By default, we would be exposing who we are. And she is someone who hinted, as Sable's creation implied, as very interested in creating someone like Red. We could learn as to why she is and it would keep the heat off Sable, but it would be focused on us.
- The risk here is more psykic or mental in nature. Strong chaos creatures are hinted to be very good at dominating weaker chaos creatures, like Sable. Even if she couldn't break free, the best case is we get lasted aftereffects and the worse case is we get completely enthralled by her.
- Even if it were worth the risk for Sable's sake, we always need a fallback. Facing one's fears is good, but not having a plan if and when things eventually go wrong is not.

See if you could (or get Sable to) move closer to the slaver area to borrow, or "break out", the "merchandise" there. That could work as a distraction, maybe you could find someone with a grudge.
No. 899785 ID: ff82d2

>By default, we would be exposing who we are
There's no evidence that synchronization exposes the fact that we're made of protoplasm. Altho I agree that we shouldn't be too hasty with using it.

>she is someone interested in creating someone like Red
That's chaos cultists. She's a chaos creature. Two different things. Also, she doesn't seem to be boasting the mark of the Voice.

>chaos creatures are hinted to be very good at dominating weaker chaos creatures
I can't see where this is hinted. Also, Red isn't a chaos creature.

>we always need a fallback
How about this:
> >>843546 >If you should encounter mindful beasts of chaos, let them know the Voice of the Alchemist vows for your compliance
If Thorn tries to get aggressive with us, we mention the Voice of the Alchemist.
No. 899937 ID: 10c408

Synchronizing is a terrible idea.

For one, she'll either lash out at us, exposing our true nature to her/anyone watching the scene unfold OR she'll twig to the fact that we're a shell around a vast quantity of protoplasm and any use she makes of that bit of information will NOT be good for us at all.

And for two, she doesn't look stable. We don't know enough about the situation at hand except that Sable is freaking the fuck out, she's yelling at the top of her lungs and also growing another pair of arms.

And finally, three. We've [i]wandered away from chalk to find sable.[\i]

So, in short, screw this. RUN. Find chalk and leg it before the seemingly crazy Thorn gets ahold of Sable or we lose chalk and get stranded or both.
No. 899957 ID: b67388

Drag Sable away and try to find a place to lose it.
No. 915613 ID: 221205
File 154620093283.png - (17.80KB , 800x600 , at110.png )

Red does not remember anything relating to people running past its inert, lifeless statue state. Red also does not know any form of sign language or skin tapping code, which in retrospect seems a terrible oversight.

Red does the only thing it can do in such a short time, and hugs Sable, putting itself between Sable and the advancing Thorn.

Red doesn't reply. Even if it could reply, it wouldn't.

Thorn slows down as she approaches Red, whose arms and tail are wrapped around Sable's shaking body.

While the desire to run with Sable as far away from this unknown creature burns bright, Red decides to try and approach things in a more diplomatic manner. As it does so, it feels strangely warm, as though this is almost familiar to it.

Red turns away from Sable, and holds out its arms in a peaceful gesture.

Thorn pauses, tilting her head, confused. "Who are you, red fox? I haven't seen the like of your kind so pure and unchanged before. You're not of the hive? I didn't think there were any of you left. How odd."
Red shrugs.
Thorn looks intrigued, and fidgets her claws together, as her larger dorsal arms lower themselves to the floor. She suspends herself in the air with them.
"You strike me as not much of a threat, little red fox. Yet you are trying to protect my Sable?"
Red nods.
"A rare survivor risking his... her... risking your life to protect an imperfect recreation. Hm! Well, either way, there's been a tremendous misunderstanding."
No. 915614 ID: 221205
File 154620095505.png - (46.19KB , 800x600 , at111.png )

"D-don't listen, Red," says Sable, "S-she wants me back to k-kill me!!"
"No! No I spent too much time and resources making you, that's ridiculous! Why did you think this?!"
"The ritual!" cries Sable. "S-seven chaos creatures, bled to the end!"

Thorn looks confused. "We'd... we'd have spent more to make you than we'd get from including you in that. What? Why do you think I'd let anyone use you as ritual fodder?! There's swarms of mindless, pointlessly aggressive chaos beasts that would be far more useful as sacrifices! We'd have to get rid of them somehow anyway!"
Sable tears up. "You said I was a failure!"
"I spun you from my own blood to be a new vessel, Sable, and you'd understand everything if you'd only listen to me! I am your maker, Sable! Do you know what I had to go through to create you?!"

Sable shakes its head silently. Red warily prepares to intervene if it seems like a fight is about to break out.
Thorn continues, rubbing her claws against each other still in a nervous tic. "You were supposed to be a vessel for protoplasm, yes, a living guardian for the most precious fluid in this world. It didn't work, but you are a vessel for something else instead!"
Sable stares wide eyed at Thorn. "Something else?"
"I have seen you pull the essence of our lives from other chaos creatures, and replace it the same. Do you think we can all do this, Sable?"

Sable is quiet.

"The part in the ritual you were to play was not as sacrifice, Sable," says Thorn. "We wanted you to hold onto the ichor of the slain creatures and channel it into the focus when ready. We didn't want you hurt, Sable, we wanted a simple menial task! Is it too unreasonable for me to expect one small favour from someone in gratitude for being given life at all?!"
"I'm not a killer," mumbles Sable.
"No! I don't want you to kill anything or anyone, just to capture the essence of their lives after they had been slain!"
"Why didn't anyone explain any of this to me?!" wails Sable again. "Why did you all have to talk in secrets and cryptic messages and talk about my importance to the ritual without ever explaining why?!"

Thorn looks at her claws and retreats inwards. "They were afraid you'd reject your purpose."
"And I did anyway! Because I thought you were all going to kill me!!"
"It wasn't my idea, Sable, it all span out of my control. I didn't come searching for you to kill you, I just wanted to get to you first before anything or anyone else did!"

Thorn opens her arms wide. "Please come back to me, Sable. Please. It's not safe out here."
No. 915615 ID: 221205
File 154620097567.png - (29.15KB , 800x600 , at112.png )

Sable starts trembling in uncertainty again, and looks towards Red.

"I... I want to be free. I want to see the world. I want... I want to stay with Red."

Thorn closes her arms again, and looks away from Sable.
She says nothing for almost a full minute. The silence passes with excruciating tension.

"Very well," she says. "But if I hear you are harmed, I will find you and bring you home."
"Thank you," says Sable, softly, looking at the floor and tearing up. "I'm sorry."
"No, I'm sorry," says Thorn, wiping at her eyes. "I never wanted you to be hurt. I don't want to hurt any of my children but it just keeps happening. I'm sorry, Sable."

Thorn opens her arms wide. Sable hesitates, but wanders over and hugs her.

Red breathes the longest sigh of relief it can remember breathing.
Chalk arrives on the scene. "Sorry, I was-- wait, what's going on?"

Thorn suddenly lurches out of the hug and Sable's ears prick up. Red feels a strange scratching presence in the back of its ears.
"Is that--" says Sable.
"Oh, it is, so I need to get going," says Thorn, urgency in her voice. "Be safe."
"I will. You too."

"Well," says Chalk, showing up from another alley. "That... happened, I guess. We need supplies, still. Should we look for food first? Lights? Camping gear? Rope? I know where to go for those. Also, I want to check out the Last Stop, it's a, uh, not fancy enough to call it a tavern. Drinking place. Just to see if I run into anyone who owes me a favour. Maybe get a drink too."

Red looks at Chalk disapprovingly. Chalk looks back in confusion. "...What?"
Red just points to Chalk's stomach. Chalk rolls her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, okay, I'll make sure it's nothing too strong. Yeesh. What's it matter to you, anyway?"
No. 915617 ID: 221205
File 154620102224.png - (19.05KB , 800x600 , at113.png )

The Voice of the Predator appears behind Chalk. Red didn't notice him arrive. He puts his hands on Chalk's shoulders. She jumps and makes a quick "yeep" sound.

"Chalk. With me, now."
"The Crown wants to see you. I suggest for both our sakes we go now."
"Th-th-the C-crown?"
"Yes. Now." The Voice of the Predator looks toward Red and Sable. "Your pets can come too. Hardly a threat."
"I don't think that's a good idea--"

The Voice of the Predator spins Chalk around on her feet and holds her arms behind her back. "Less talk, more walk," he growls, frogmarching her into a back alley. Red follows at a cautious distance, with Sable following Red apprehensively.
"Ow! Hey, I know how to walk, you bastard!"
"You're slippery, I need to make sure you actually turn up this time."
"What is this even about? Ow, dammit, stop it, you're going to make me trip over!"
"Crown wasn't happy with my report. It wants some answers."
"Report? Answers?! Stop being so damn vague!!"

The two suddenly disappear from sight. Red halts, and Sable pauses, eyes wide.

"Red, keep walking," says Sable, a curious certainty in its voice. "You can't see it but there's something there."

Red flicks its ears around and focuses its magical senses forward, soon realising that, despite what its eyes are telling it, something does seem to be directly ahead. It takes a few more steps forward and--
No. 915618 ID: 221205
File 154620104695.png - (201.80KB , 800x600 , at114.png )

--nothing seems to quite line up anymore.

"I know this place," whispers Sable as the two creep forward. "This is the Alter."
Red raises a brow.
"It's... it's like halfway between the atoll, and the, uh, other place. The place the first chaos creatures came from. I don't know a lot about it."

The sky is black, the wind roars warm and cold currents from directions that don't match up, and the white sand beneath them makes chiming noises as the two walk on it.

Ahead of them, they see the Voice of the Predator still keeping Chalk restrained, but with her arms by her sides. Her hands are tightened into irritated fists.

Her annoyance soon subsides into cowering fear when she sees the Voice of the Crown emerge from the white sand, a symphony of glissando tones as the strange grains disperse.

Sable drops to the floor hyperventilating. Red also lowers itself, trying to reassure a violently panicking Sable.

"RENTAUK!" booms the Voice of the Crown. "You prove merit as the Aspect of Predation!"
"...it's, uh, it's, it's Voice of the Predator, sir--"
"The titles are mine to bequeath and change as we see fit, Rentauk!" The Voice of the Crown snakes around the pair. "If I wish them changed, they shall change. However, you are correct. We shall continue with the Voice for now. Now, to business! Rentauk, why is that vulpic wearing a backpack? Remove it!"
"Yes, sir."
"Those are my things, let go!" says Chalk, wriggling, her anger overtaking her fear briefly.

The Voice of the Crown locks eyes with Chalk, who pales as her ears fall and her pupils widen. "I-I, uh, uh, I-I-I..."
"You were going to give Rentauk your possessions, yes?"
"Y-y-yes I was going to do that."

The Voice of the Predator takes Chalk's backpack from her and throws it into the distance. Chalk winces as it lands with a faint porcelain sounding clatter and scattered chords of wind chimes.

Angular stones, humming with the concept of contempt and disdain, erupt in a circle around the gathering.
Some bipedal chaos creature emerges from the gloom, itself frogmarching a visibly pregnant bat of some form. It lowers its long snaking head in deference. "Ve hev zhe referenze spezimen ez you requezted, zupremezt," it buzzes, its numerous eyes darting between the Voice of the Crown and its quarry. The bat makes no sound and makes no effort to free herself, despite visibly looking unhappy with her circumstances.
No. 915619 ID: 221205
File 154620106123.png - (257.31KB , 800x600 , at115.png )

The Voice of the Crown abruptly looks directly toward Red and Sable.

"Hold. We have unexpected guests." It smiles widely, rubbing its hands together. "Are these your quarries, Predator?"
"They're Chalk's associates, I believe," says the Voice of the Predator, more unease creeping into his voice. "Most likely followers or other tagalongs, nothing of any worth."
"No! Bite your tongue, Rentauk, that one I recognise! That's the Vessel! Far from worthless!"

The Voice of the Crown is next to Sable in seconds, grinning widely. Sable screams the loudest it's ever screamed before, only to swiftly be muffled by the Voice of the Crown grabbing it and shoving Sable's jaws closed.

"A loud one! Feisty, too! Look at it wriggle! Thorn did well, I'd say! I'll take you back home later."

The Voice of the Crown manifests some sort of writhing goopy black thread, spins it around Sable, and puts the encased Sable back down, still screaming in absolute terror.

"And the other--" The Voice of the Crown falters.
It stares at Red for an excruciatingly long time while Red stares away, unsure whether or not to run.
It grins more slowly.
No. 915626 ID: b1b4f3

Your last name. You have told no one this information. Why would they know this? Nobody else has recognized you, so your last name and general appearance must be somehow exclusive information. You knew Voice of the Crown. I wonder if the "Voice" title theme has anything to do with your inherent silence. Are/were you an Aspect? Your past life wasn't that of a captive or research subject, that's for sure. You knew too much, were too involved in diplomacy and politics.

You could try to run but I'm not sure it'd do any good. I doubt fighting will work either. Man, Chalk really screwed us. If we'd known this place was so closely linked to such dangerous people then we would not have come here.

Oh well, just nod for now.
No. 915627 ID: 0c3c2c

Shrug and nod.

Also, that dumb jerk Chalk really has screwed us completely, since these are the most dangerous people in the entire world. That entire civilization we just left had devoted its efforts to destroying Voice of the Crown on several occasions... and failed every time. And so did the crystal guys. So we've faced with an incredibly violent, sadistic, capricious, seemingly indestructible hellbeast.

Man, thank goodness we didn't develop a sex yet or he'd probably defile us just to be sadistic.
No. 915631 ID: ccf3c2

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. It seems very pleased at seeing you. Man, Chalk... how'd you get wrapped up in something the Voice of the Crown is personally involved in? And really, what IS it with all the probably-chaos pregnant ladies? With bat-girl and Voice of Alchemist's bird-slave that makes three now, and their words just now suggests there are more 'references'. Must be some kind of master plan of theirs.

Good news is that they probably won't hurt Sable (the poor guy's escalating traumas aside), given what we know now. Additional great news - they might not hurt us either, as they were looking for some way to contain protoplasm. Which, uh, we're pretty stocked up on, so we might count as a viable 'Vessel' or whatever. We'll PROBABLY only end up as prisoners for now! Yay, right?

Bad news, if we stay their prisoners the chaos faction gets to do something it wants and we'll probably be coerced into doing things for them. They don't seem like the types to accept a sternly worded no, Thorn aside.

Still, no use crying now - and running is only going to end up with us becoming a sticky thread burrito. So, instead:

- either point at your mouth, make wheezy noises and frantically motion for something to write on.

- or put a hand on the friggin' KING OF CHAOS's schnozz and daringly link up via biothaumaturgy, because, really, what else have we got to lose at this point?

Time to keep digging a hole and see if we can't come out on the other side somehow!
No. 915636 ID: fe4f01

shrug and nod boys just shrug and nod.
No. 915637 ID: e7848c

Do not give him an inch. Look at him like he just spoke some gibberish. This situation is bad but you need to be able to grab Sable and run back through that entrance.
No. 915639 ID: 91ee5f

>”A loud one! Feisty, too! Look at it wriggle! Thorn did well, I'd say! I'll take you back home later."
>The Voice of the Crown manifests some sort of writhing goopy black thread, spins it around Sable, and puts the encased Sable back down, still screaming in absolute terror.
No fucking way are we going to let him take Sable anywhere!

And we also have to make sure Chalk comes with us, since she’s the only one that knows how to pilot the boat we used to get here, since neither Red nor Sable know how to pilot it.

So.....anyone have any ideas one what to do here?
No. 915645 ID: 10c408

We're uh, well and truly boned here.

We can't run our way out of here. Not without leaving Sable and Chalk behind and that's assuming IF Crown or Predator don't immediately catch us.

We also can't do anything with our secret since even if we somehow killed Crown with it *right now* we still have to deal with Predator.

So yeah, the only thing I can think of is to point at your throat and then shake your head.
No. 915650 ID: 3674e7

No. 915790 ID: 221205
File 154630944848.png - (11.25KB , 800x600 , at116.png )

Red considers trying to form a biothaumaturgic link, but something deep within its veins screams that this is a terrible, terrible idea.
Red tilts its head in genuine confusion while trying to suppress its genuine fear.
The Voice of the Crown does not appear to pick up on Red's subtle gesture.

Red flaps its mouth wordlessly and makes a writing gesture with one paw on the other.
The Voice of the Crown's grin fades alarmingly quickly to a more neutral expression.

"What has happened to your silver tongue, Kurasu? I always did enjoy the sound of your voice. No, no, something is amiss here."
The Voice of the Crown moves its head closer to Red, who makes a slight muted whimper.
"You're different. But such a striking resemblance... a descendant, perhaps? The eyes, the shape of the head, but Kurasu was undeniably female in her body shape and you are... well, how strange. Ambiguous curves, indeed. And something about you feels... so shining, but yet so wrong, so out of place here. Dark burning brightness in the ocean, searing invisible, boiling, barely kept under the surface."

Red isn't sure whether to shake its head or nod.

"I didn't think there were any mysteries like you left for me to discover. How curious. I may have a favour to ask of you but I do have more pressing concerns right now."
Sable tries to shout something to Red through its cocoon of thread but the words do not come out intelligibly.

"Please, take a seat for now," says the Voice of the Crown, as a black chair erupts from the sand. Red sits down with great hesitation, and the surface is oddly warm and smooth to the touch.
The black, homogenous stone of the chair seems to shift gently to the contours of Red's body as it sits. The chair back scooches forward to provide support to Red's back.
It's comfortable and unnerving in equal measure.

The Voice of the Crown gently lifts the thread cocoon containing Sable back with it as it reenters the stone circle.

"Now then. Sorry to keep you waiting, Rentauk! I'm sure you also have better things to be doing. Yes?"

A bead of sweat rolls down the Voice of the Predator's head, matting in his fur, as he nods silently.

"Yes, I should hope so."
No. 915791 ID: 221205
File 154630946981.png - (37.81KB , 800x600 , at117.png )

A black, sleek altar, same stone as the chair, erupts from beneath the jangling sand in the middle of the circle, red chaos runes flowing over it.
The Voice of the Predator forces Chalk onto it, on her back.

"Wait what what what's going on Ren what's happening--"
Chalk gasps as she's suddenly pinned to the altar by an unknown force. The Voice of the Predator rearranges her limbs into a starfish arrangement.
"Ren? Ren talk to me, talk to me what's going on--"
"My name is Voice of the Predator," he mutters, "so perhaps ask me by that name."
"Okay! Okay! Voice of the Predator! Talk to me, please!" Chalk's ears flatten and she makes a feeble whine.

"Look at her stomach, Predator!" The Voice of the Crown gestures to the bat woman, who flinches. "Same conception day! I need to understand why there's such a difference! Are you sure this vulpic is even pregnant?! Did you impregnate her? Are you sterile? Is she? I want answers, Rentauk! I want answers, as far as you can give me, them right now."

The Voice of the Predator freezes up. "Well, I, uh, of course I impregnated her, I--"
"Did you check or did you just assume?"
"I'd like to think I have the virility required--"
"I do not care nor fully understand nor do I wish to care or understand anything about your fertility, its connection to your self-image, or anything else related, Rentauk!! I was expecting you to make sure when I gave you a direct order to make sure it was actually carried out!"
"I-- I'm not exactly an expert in midwifery!"

The Voice of the Crown makes a long, drawn out sigh and rubs at its face with its topmost arm pair. "Sleeper, give me the strength I need to see this wretched day through... Very well, then. Do we have anyone here capable of confirming whether or not this vulpic is pregnant?"
Chalk opens her mouth to say something. The Voice of the Predator shoots her a glare and rapidly shakes his head. She slowly closes her mouth again.

"I am not exzactly exzpert either, zupremezt," says the other chaos creature, shifting around awkwardly. "Without zhe bulge all I could do iz guezz like your mozt ezteemed zelf."
"Fine! Vulpic! Are you pregnant?"
Chalk slowly nods her head.
"Then why aren't you as big as the pteropic?! What went wrong?"
Chalk meekly mumbles something.
"Speak up! I don't have all day for this! I've still got to get a report from Voice of the Alchemist on her failures to stay on target!"
"Yes! Yes, sir! Sorry, sir!"
"Sir isn't the appropriate term of address for your station, but I'll allow it for now for brevity. Continue!"
"Yes, uh, s-sir! I've... had some issues with this, uh, weird-- uh, not weird, completely fine and functional, I mean, this chaos surrogacy thing. I've been kinda sick a couple times and I think it's made things worse for me and the baby... chaos... thingy. Also do I need to be restrained like this? It feels really kind of, uh, exposed."
"Hm. It's struggling to grow, you say?"
"I... I think?"
"Then we need to take it out and try this entire thing again, clearly we're wasting time on this one. Rentauk! Take whatever feeble sac of chaos fluid is in her out of her and this time I am going to watch you impregnate her correctly this time!"

Silence falls over the scene, save for the winds blowing chiming sand grains along one another.

"None of that is how it works, sir."
"Why not?!"
"It's... I don't... I'm reasonably sure we can't just--"
"Oh, oh, of course, of course, I should remember to explain my logic to your simpler minds. I do apologise! We have the Vessel now, extracting the dying runt from this vulpic will be simple. Ribbon, stop fondling that pteropic and inject some of your blood into Rentauk! As close to the generative organs as you can reach please."

The other chaos creature closes its slavering maw with a look of uncertainty. "...vouldn't zat damage zhem? Iz the hip okay?"
"Close enough!"
"Wait. Wait, why aren't we preparing this at the pace a ritual of this nature would require--" asks the Voice of the Predator, sweating more visibly.
"We're running out of time for this phase, Rentauk!"
"Do I... do we have to do this here and now--"
"I didn't set up a focus circle for the sheer hell of it, Rentauk! Now where did I put that cocoon..."
"Wait! No! I've spoken to it! It's alive! It's not just a useless lump of flesh! It has a name! Its name is Spiral! It's just taking longer, give it a chance, give it a chance to live!!" wails Chalk.

The Voice of the Crown is searching for the cocoon containing Sable, who has stopped screaming and is not immediately visible.
The Voice of the Predator is awkwardly pacing around the altar as the chaos creature named as Ribbon shifts awkwardly around.
The bat lady is leaning against one of the stones, trying to watch and be as uninvolved in the activity as possible.

In this increasing pandemonium, Red feels the window of opportunity to intervene in any way is probably the widest it's going to be.
No. 915792 ID: 0c3c2c

Okay, that's it. It's time to take a stand. These Chaos Creatures are HORRIBLY INCOMPETENT at biology. Clap your hands firmly and loudly to draw their attention then request paper or some other medium of communication to explain that, yes, you can confirm she is pregnant and have medical skills, and removing a living creature from another living creature would simply be fatal to both of them.

Chalk is a big dumb idiot for getting you involved here but now that you are involved you can't just abandon her to die.

Also the more attention on you the less likely they are to molest Sable.
No. 915793 ID: 395c02

I... yeah actually making a scene of some sort is probably not a bad move, given that Crown was badly distracted just by your presence and no one else here seems confident in any of what they're doing.
No. 915797 ID: fe4f01

...If we all get out of this thing alive, chalk is going to owe us so god damn much.
No. 915798 ID: b1b4f3

He said "favour" so you were someone he considers to be on equal footing.
Write in the sand, in Chaos Script: "Voice of the Crown, stop. Chalk is right. Let me help."
You should help by attempting to infuse Spiral with life energy. Help it grow properly so that it can survive being born. Sable might need to help you?
No. 915801 ID: 86eb65

We promised the little guy we would help keep it safe.

So go explain that you are the closest thing to a doctor and the baby is doing fine and they need to leave it where it is.

Find out what they are up to while you are at it.
No. 915808 ID: a9af05

Wait, where is Sable? Can you see where it went, Red?

>Make a scene and draw attention to self.
>Explain extraction will kill both Chalk and the baby.
Do this!

And while we've their attention on us, they won't be looking for Sable, who hopefully managed to get out of its cocoon and is hiding somewhere nearby!
No. 915821 ID: 91ee5f

Yeah, I agree!

We need to let those idiots know that they’re going to end up killing both Chalk and Spiral if they try to extract Spiral out of Chalk!
No. 915835 ID: 10c408

Problem is, if we explain this they're going to ask HOW we know and then we're fucked.
No. 915837 ID: 7dc36a

Yes, get everyone's attention on you now and demand for something to write on. Clearly, you need to act like a doctor here and use what knowledge you have (ancient or recent, conscious or not) to convince them that this surrogacy is just different from they're familiar with, closer to a non-chaotic lifeform, and not a total failure. Because there is an opportinity here.

Your best chance of leaving with all your friends it to Bluff Your Ass Off. Your goal should be to convince them that it is in everyone's best interest to have Chalk leave with you. Suggest that you can do an operation but you need equipment/magic they do not obviously have, at a location that is not here. Like, closer to Sentinel territory.
And that you need "the Vessel" (poor Sable) to maintain her health. And if they don't trust you, they can send a bodyguard, like Predator/Rentauk, with you.
No. 915838 ID: 4c908d

We've been fucked by design. Holding back now is going to get people unnecessarily killed.

I think we'll get more answers if we just get this shitshow on track.
No. 915839 ID: 83bf07

Take a sigh of relief knowing that these guys are incompetent as hell. stand up, make your way over to Chalk. Be as non-intrusive and gentle when approaching. You don't want any of these guys to stop you immediately. Look to predator and nod while pointing to Chalk's belly and then yourself. Gesture that you would like something to write with. The goal here is to bargain to check Chalk in exchange for Sable.
No. 915854 ID: ccf3c2


He got spun up in chaos stuff. The moment he stopped panicking, he probably realized that was the dumbest thing Voice of the Crown could possibly have done to keep him imprisoned.

I.e. he's probably unspun himself and might be using the material to hide from Voice of Crown. Good initiative! Not sure it's going to stop Voice of the Crown, though... let's try distracting the guy soon.


This is good advice.

We really need to de-escalate the current antics, so hop off the chair and step between Ribbon and Rentauk. Make a physical fuss; shake your head, glare, jump up and down, hold out the palm of your hands towards each of them. Raise your index finger as if you want to make a point. Point at Voice and gesture for them to call him over. Start scrawling in the sand (although be careful you don't ruin the focus circle - that'll be plan B, C, D or possibly E).

Everyone of note here should be able to understand chaos script, so write in that. Make it seem as if it's not a big deal for you to cooperate with chaos creatures - writing in chaos script may already indicate that you have done so in the past. Maybe you can make it seem as if you are more familiar with Voice of the Alchemist than you actually are.

The story - though you're still going to lie your ass off in places - should be PRETTY DAMN CLOSE to the truth as-is, but aimed towards de-emphasizing your role in it and buying time for everyone involved - you, Sable and Chalk. Although if you play your cards right, you might even get Sable to be able to do something for bat-lady over there. Or... heck, maybe even Rentauk/Voice of the Predator. He seems a little in over his head and just about now realizing it. Probably too proud to admit it, though.


Write that you can verify that the chaos creature inside Chalk is there, but weak - there was an unfortunate brush with an anti-chaos device recently. Chalk didn't mention this because you asked her not to - since you'd used Sable's ability to save both it and Chalk (truth) and Sable had requested anonymity. This explains why the 'belly bulge' isn't so big (that's not it, but these guys don't get the basics).

Write that the interaction seems to have left the creature leery towards Sable (truth). Further Sable interventions right now may have it lash back and kill itself (possibly true), rendering this whole damn exercise moot. You STRONGLY DO NOT ADVICE anything but allowing some time for the creature to recover for now. As for how long it will take - another month? Given the damage and the risks... maybe longer? You believe Sable might be able to work on strengthening it later. Even if not, you again STRONGLY ADVICE that Sable stay close to Chalk to intervene in case of further emergencies.

Write that whatever they're keen on rushing, you don't think it'll help their plans if their test subjects keep doing that whole inconvenient 'dying' thing. If they don't believe you, Sable can try proving he can do detailed assessment by checking up on bat-lady over there and give them a status report on THAT particular pregnancy. Assuming you didn't scare him off. He's terrified of chaos affiliates, let alone creatures. You suspect something was done by SOMEONE to terrify him. Not that you're naming names. Just... give him some personal space and a promise you'll let him continue travelling with you after this?

Write that if they want to be efficient, feel free to let you and Sable travel with the pteropic for monitoring and ACTUAL midwifery purposes and have Voice of Predator to keep an eye on all of you - he should be able to do at least that, right? Unless he so happens to have BETTER things to do - like getting his scrotum scrambled.

(At this, give VotP a dead-eye look, as if you're personally blaming him for this entire mess even as you're tossing him a potential lifeline.)

Definitely mention that you'll be favorably disposed towards performing that favor if Voice of the Crown proves capable of accepting your advice. Also, you could optionally ask whether reporting in to one of the other Voices later would be fine? You might travel close to Voice of the Alchemist's place and could bring Chalk over that way to check on her progress then. No doubt they'd be interested in the specifics of this case.

... of course, all of this is just to get you the hell out of here and out of VotC's immediate reach and figure out what the heck to even do now that you're all on his radar. Inviting Voice of the Predator along... it's just my gut feeling, but he seems new enough to his role that he might be more, uh, approachable than either the Alchemist or Crown. Or Thorn, for that matter. And Crown, despite not trusting Predator much, does boss him around a lot so telling him to babysit a bunch of people may be in-character.
No. 915855 ID: ccf3c2


Guh. That second reference was supposed to be
No. 915878 ID: 2202fb

So... are these guys actually powerful or are they just drunk on their own hubris? They know a pregnancy can take over a year depending on the species, right?

Do the facepalm.
No. 915992 ID: 130f18

Get Predator's attention and ask for something to write with again.

Explain to Crown that you and Sable are able to keep Chalk and the baby healthy and allow it to grow. You did it before and you can do it again. So long as Chalk is left with the two of you, the chaos child will grow properly.
No. 915993 ID: a9af05

We actually don't need something to write with. We just need our finger and we can write in the sand.
No. 916926 ID: 8267be

Tell the Voice of the Crown that a new impregnation would either kill both of them or simply result in the same slow growth.

Then tell it that, surely, as the Voice of the Crown, it has the knowledge about what a fetus needs to grow, right? Rather than pulling it out, they should be providing it with whatever nourishment and non-stressful environment (that is this place) that it needs for growth.
No. 933381 ID: 29d9e5
File 155829102533.png - (12.75KB , 800x600 , at118.png )

Red finds its fear rapidly melting into frustration and pity at the poor showing and clear incompetence at display. Its friends' lives are at stake due to nothing more than misunderstandings and ignorance.
It doesn't know where this sudden surge of courage comes from, but it's too much to just sit by and watch this all happen idly.

Red stands up from the chair and claps loudly to get everyone's attention, walking just outside the stone circle and kneeling onto the ground, furiously scrawling into the musical sand in chaos script.

"What the hell are you doing, Red?!" yells Chalk. The Voice of the Predator just stares wordlessly, apparently unsure whether to be shocked, offended or angry.
The Voice of the Crown, however, sidles over on its many legs, lifting its head skyward as it cranes to get a view of whatever Red is writing.

I can confirm that Chalk is pregnant, and that removing Spiral from Chalk is likely to be fatal to both. This ritual will not help anything. I have helped her before. There have been some complications in the past. Without the aid of the Vessel, Chalk would be dead. I can continue looking after Chalk and Spiral both but I'll need the Vessel to do it. Sometimes these things just take time.

Red writes with a curious confidence that surprises even itself, but it feels natural, familiar. Red's scrawlings become better formed with flourishes to the script as it writes.

The Voice of the Crown is quiet as it takes in Red's text. "What is your name, vulpic?"
"No relation to Kurasu?"
My full name is Redford Kurasu.
"Hah! I was right, you are related to her. You don't have her way with words but you sure do have her pride. Can't think of anyone else who would, in the Alter, where my powers are strongest, contest my will and intentions with assertions that I'm wrong." The Voice of the Crown folds its limbs. "So tell me, Red. What were these complications?"
An anti-chaos device was used on her by one of the tribes of the Tribelands. Chaos fluid from Spiral leaked through Chalk's body. It threatened both of their lives. With aid from the Vessel to remove the excess fluid, I was able to repair the damage to Chalk's body, but it likely set back Spiral's development. Trying to force the excess chaos fluid back into Spiral seems an unwise idea, we just need to let it recover first. Red is not actually certain this is true.

The Voice of the Crown rubs the underside of its chin a few times. "How are you so familiar with the workings of--"
No. 933382 ID: 29d9e5
File 155829103797.png - (368.05KB , 800x600 , at119.png )

It pauses and opens and closes its jaws a few times, before looking at Red more intensely. Red can't read its blank white eyes very well, but it looks almost as if the Voice of the Crown is coming to some sort of realisation.

It doesn't say any more, staring at Red. Red starts to feel its sudden burst of confidence drain away to nothing and it shivers a little.
The silence is terrifying. Red cannot read anything happening in the alien eyes of the Voice of the Crown save for a giddy excitment, as it grins again.

"Well, I'm sure someone of your specific talents found the entire process lacking in refinement, a crude effort by amateurs working with crude methods. No doubt you could more tightly weave and integrate two worlds into one far greater than anyone else ever could," purrs the Voice of the Crown, lowering its head to match its eye level with Red's. "We could use someone of your skills. We really could. The Voice of the Alchemist, Thorn, myself, and, well, you must surely know how those crystals would feel about someone like yourself wandering around unchecked. I mean, surely you know what has happened to others of your talents over the past several season cycles, yes? They have a way of ending up within the Sentinels' holding cells, indefinitely. It's a waste, I think. Suuuch a waste."

The Voice of the Crown's grin becomes a terrifying open mouth smile, and all Red can think about is the fact its head could undoubtedly fit in the Voice of the Crown's mouth with little exertion on the chaos creature's part.

"Now, I am stretched far too thin to force anyone to work for me, and I find coercing your partners to be an unnecessary drain on resource and attention, so I am going to offer you a job, Red. Feel free to decline, and we will both go our own separate ways and you can go wherever you planned to go to start with. I mean, someone needs to look after our dear Chalk, yes? And I certainly know we can't keep Chalk in one place against her will for long."
Chalk makes a confused noise.
"I may even graciously loan you the Vessel for the sake of keeping this little project of ours ticking away! I may need the Predator to oversee the effort, of course, but again, this is what I am prepared to offer you if you walk away! I'm feeling generous today, what can I say? But if you want to work with me, well, my next stop is the Voice of the Alchemist, and I could do with someone able to confirm everything she's going to report to me. I have had my suspicions for a while. And this is all I would ask of for now. In return, well, I have a small bottle of protoplasm that's just been looking for a new home, and I certainly can't do anything with it myself."

Red feels its pulse quicken as the protoplasm in its veins murmurs about the strength and understanding more protoplasm could grant it. Even if merely touched upon, absorbed, and carefully removed, the flowing substance holds within itself traces of life in its many forms, ever changing, entire histories of blood and bone. It could even decant the exact same protoplasm back into the bottle and use it for something else later. It could be a panacea, a food source, a way to bring life to a barren acre, and a way to fight the Limit for maybe several dozen lucky souls.

"So, Red, shake my claw if you wish to do this small task for me, this... independent verification of my alchemist's report. Else, shake your head, and I will send you, Chalk, and the Vessel on your way. With the Predator as your escort, naturally, in either case."

The Voice of the Crown offers its claw to Red.
No. 933383 ID: 29d9e5
File 155829104836.png - (95.37KB , 800x600 , at120.png )

"Also, while it occurs to me, if you could somehow figure out a way to get this annoying vulpic to catch up to the pteropic, I'll throw in a lot more than a bottle of protoplasm, but that may be a tall order. I went to a lot of trouble for this setup, though, I really want it to be worth the effort. I'm sure you understand, yes? Consider this a separate arrangement from the verification task, for what it's worth."

Red is vaguely sure, though it doesn't know why, that it could boost Spiral's growth and health by infusing Chalk and by extension Spiral with a mixture of chaos fluid and protoplasm. It doesn't know where it could get the chaos fluid, although the blood of a chaos creature would work fine. It pauses to wonder why it is aware of any of these esoteric facts, only to notice the Voice of the Crown's deranged smile broadening a little further.
"You know," murmurs Voice of the Crown, "Rentauk's body has been altered sufficiently enough that, with the focii at this ritual site in place, you could simply have him mate with Chalk to deliver the required chaos fluid straight to the site it would be required. I think. I'm not sure but it'd be close enough. Presumably. Whatever, details. Of course, I may be biased, seeing as it took me a very long time to set this up, have I said that yet? I don't think I have, it took me a lot of time for this setup which I could have spent on any number of ways to get those wretched glass ornaments off my trail."

Red is not sure why this chaos creature is so fixated on this ritual. From the way it keeps staring at Rentauk and Chalk with an ever sinister grin, it feels like it has more motivation for this than wanting to recoup time costs.
Before Red can even think of how to articulate this, Voice of the Crown makes a strange chittering sound. "Of course the respect I owe to your... I owe to Kurasu only stretches so far, Redford, so please consider that I do not have all season for you to consider my generous offers." It offers its claw again with more vigour.

Red's options appear to be a polite refusal of all offers, an agreement to audit the Voice of the Alchemist, an agreement to speed Spiral's development along, or an arrangement to do both of those things. No matter what, Red feels a heavy unspoken burden hanging around its neck, and the Voice of the Predator, Rentauk, stares uneasily at Red as though he can see straight into Red's heart pulsing with the essence of life. It feels like he's deeply aware that his immediate fate suddenly lies in Red's hands, and he is very, very unhappy about it.
No. 933390 ID: 2202fb

idk if it is the best idea, but lets take them up on their offer, on both counts. It is probably the most objectively helpful route.

We need sable back, they belong to Thorn, if they belong to anyone, and thus aren't a bargaining chip that can be used by this guy.

However, these guys dont seem evil. They seem powerful, but also extremely inept and more concerned with SCIENCE than actually doing evil stuff. They do seem like they want to look evil and scary though.

I think we could be a positive influence on them, and thus we should work with them for now.
No. 933391 ID: 2202fb

Additionally, tell them you need some of their blood to work, and the donor better be a willing volunteer, which means they cant use Sable.

Also, when you do the expediting, try to block off pain from Chalk if that is something you can do.
No. 933393 ID: b1b4f3

Let's do both. I think this business arrangement will be very informative as well as rewarding in other ways. The Sentinels are withholding information, so let's get some information from these guys.

Direct mating will definitely not be required in the second task. If the void fluid comes out of his genitals, then that can be gathered via digital stimulation, and then Sable can move the void fluid using its powers. If it's not enough fluid then you can just request some chaos creature blood.
You will of course require the consent of the mother.
No. 933400 ID: a9af05

>Chaos creature's blood
Would Sable's blood work? Speaking of which, let's not forget about him! Make sure you bring him with you!

>Let's do both.
>Reasons for doing both.
I agree with this.
No. 933402 ID: 8ef27d

Auditing Voice of the Alchemist sounds alright, but for speeding up the pregnancy, I'd like Chalk's agreement first. It's her body.
No. 933423 ID: f2320a

what would the position of being the Auditing Voice of the Alchemist
No. 933432 ID: ba56e6

I agree.
No. 933436 ID: f3310b

Tell Voice of the Crown that you have met the Sentinels, and they did you no harm. Instead, they helped you. Why was that?

Another thing that I'd like to know is, these chaos creatures seem to have titles, Voice of the Crown, Voice of the Predator, etc., besides their normal names. What are these titles... and can you have one also? :P Voice of Life?

Other than that, agree to both offers.
No. 933449 ID: 1ed92d

Alright, so these people are powerful, violent, incompetent and somewhat clueless. The best plan involved is asking Chalk if she'd be up to accept Rentauk's 'assistance' and agreeing to audit Alchemist, since she's kind of a dangerous and hostile weirdo and we don't owe her dirt.
No. 933464 ID: 2202fb

We really cant be a voice if we cant even speak.

iirc Sable is a genderless child, just like us (they/them).
No. 933468 ID: 191bf1

As sympathetically incompetent their "medical procedures" are, it seems overly naive to take Crown at face value. He knows you have something he wants and he would be smart enough to present himself in the best possible light. He may be giving incomplete information or outright lies about our situation right now.

If what Crown is say about the Sentinels is true, then the nice Sentinel did us a HUGE favor in covering for us. Thus, I don't think we should start burning bridges with the crystals yet. We can verify this if we somehow manage to get in contact with him and get his side of the story. For all we know, they could be collecting Kurasus because they were not dissimilar to us from a couple of hours or days ago.

Yet, we are living on borrowed trust from our predecessor. While we technically can go free, it's implied that it would be his last favor for us as far as he's concerned and we will not get far in atoll diplomacy if we leave it at that.

So agree to check in with Alchemist and nothing else, appear only interested in the ectoplasm and don't ask any other questions. You shouldn't trust him with more power yet but if pressed, say this: As much as you would like to see the creature grow, there is a reason it is developing slowly* and it is unsafe until you understand what that reason is.

*one theory: it's related to his empathic bond with the mother.
No. 933476 ID: f274b0

Support we need too look competent and smart
No. 933496 ID: bb0783

Why not both!
No. 933792 ID: 83bf07

Leeeets only agree to help Chalk on our own terms. No mating needed. We can audit VotA if we're nearby and Ren can relay the info to you. Don't want to play messenger fox.
No. 933973 ID: d984a7

This guy seems less insane and wanton than i thought, though just as dangerous. Take up both, but it would be rather difficult for us to get back to her from where we were, especially since we essentially told one of the higher ups we'd stick to a life of safety.

We did see her recently though. Bring that up to see if we might be able to deal with that one now.
No. 933993 ID: 94e3ab

I say do both.
No. 940213 ID: bddb0f

>oh hey I was going to reply to this
Hm. He's realized something of what you are, it seems like? He may even have clued in on your ignorance. How vexing.

His reward is certainly tempting, but even with how little we know he appears to be a no-good, unstable, bungling, impatient alien chaos being who has the motive of breaking the Limit that the Sentinels argue preserves all life on the Atoll. And he... somehow isn't directly coercing you or splitting you open for your precious priceless protoplasm. Hm.

That he considers your inherent skills, not your protoplasm, to be the most valuable - no matter your apparent relation to this Kurasu woman who seems to mean something to him - is worrying. Your ability must be unique or very valuable for him to start treating you with so much leeway when he's been running roughshod over nearly everyone else. He may think you the key to breaking the Limit - or that you'll do something else for him if left to your own devices. If he's willing to let you go with 'only' a guard he has some plan or expectation cooking.

His point about the sentinels is... well, it's a blatant half truth. We have seen indications that while they have a consensus that makes broad-strokes decisions they all have to adhere to, they also have 'individual' patterns that may agree or disagree with these in the details and can respond or interpret overalls rules favorably for you - or not.

For one, Vigilance Pattern 3 seemed pretty nice and was supportive of you in its own way. Of course, you did help Alchemist discover evidence of other Patterns launching a very non-consensal ploy to disrupt or destroy a particular troublesome segment of the population that was messing with them (at least that's what it seemed like), so... half-truth is still part truth. Consider yourself warned re: interacting amicably with ALL sentinel Patterns. There could very well be some you could trust, pending on your actions here and elsewhere, and some you manifestly should not, given the danger your existence may or may not represent. Involving yourself with anything that breaks the Limit WILL probably earn you Sentinel enmity, for reasons Vigilance Pattern 3 previously explained - that whole "the Atoll is a slowly decaying, fragile magical ecosystem keeping you alive on a dead world" thing.

Anyway, Crown is indeed generously giving you some offers here. Getting a bunch of protoplasm - hopefully without stepping all over the free will of people you've involved yourself with (including Rentauk who will be probably be your chaperone/guard dog for the immediate future) would strengthen you. We've been passing up a few opportunities for that so far (alchemist's lab, mushrooms in forest), so yeah, let's make the most of this!

... then again.

>Audit deal
Touching Crown and going to Alchemist should be a hard pass. Think about where he's going. Think about what happened there. Think about there maybe being Sentinels observing the area due to what happened there. Think about being observed by Sentinels with Crown.

Now, if Crown goes to Alchemist, finds her alive and unfled (or tracks her down) and gets her report, she may excuse herself with "Oh there's a lack of progress because this red-furred vulpic and a Mooncaller came along and messed up my lab" and then Crown is no doubt going to be a touch displeased by your lack of candour re: having met her before. So, shake your head and write:

"I've met Voice of the Alchemist once, recently. I can verify she appeared to be working on - but not making the desired progress - your project. I did not stay long, however. Your 'project' put my travel companion off, enough that they came to blows though I tried to prevent it. Due to the fight, the ritual chamber we were in activated which threw me halfway across the Atoll, where I met Sable and then Chalk."

This should secure you against anything Alchemist might tell Crown. Besides, you already kind of sold her out to Vigilance Pattern 3. Who informed you she was otherwise occupied right now, so you getting cut and leaking protoplasm all over the probably did a number on that area which, again, is why you shouldn't be going there to be seen with Crown. Sentinels do seem to pop up and keep an eye on interesting things happening.

>Growth boost
Shake head (although you can accept this one if pressed and Sable and Chalk wish it, though I think they will feel coerced into it, making it more likely that you can deny it). A soft pass. I'm just guessing, but I think you'd be showing him how to do something he wants to figure out - you'll have proven a theory and given pointers in his presence. That said, we still don't know why he wants to break the Limit so bad - other than just getting out of this place? Helping him outright in this task is probably going to earn us the enmity of the Sentinels if discovered.

If you decline, write something like: "My sympathies for your wasted efforts, but they may have been misdirected. The current speed of growth is arguably the better option if you want something to actually come from the initial experiment."
No. 940426 ID: f0a059
File 156409603682.png - (19.33KB , 800x600 , at121.png )

>accept auditing Voice of the Alchemist
>accept speeding up Chalk's pregnancy, but only with her consent
Red, after some hesitation, slowly reaches out and tries to grab the Voice of the Crown's claw. It feels cold and smooth, almost oily, far more solid than its owner's shadowy form suggests, yet it also feels coarse and grating and wrong to Red's magical senses. The contradicting sensations are like ice down Red's spine, and his fur stands on end.
The Voice of the Crown makes a chittering laugh, shaking its claw up and down. "I am so incredibly pleased to be making a deal with you, Red, even if I'm not entirely sure what parts you agreed with yet. Please! By all means, inform us!" It gestures to the sand, grin steady.

I will audit the Voice of the Alchemist but I need Chalk's permission for the other task.

"On her behalf, you have permission to do whatever you want," says the Voice of the Crown. "This is my realm, my domain, my kingdom of the Alter. I may not lay claim to it all, but time, and blood, will out. My word is the law here and I say Chalk's will is secondary to my own."

Chalk wriggles on the altar surface. "What's going on? What's being discussed?!"
"Your associate is concerned that you might reject the opportunity to catch up to where you should be in the greater scheme of things," says the Voice of the Crown, voice smooth and assuring.
"Red, if this oily snake bastard is asking you to kill me then tell it no! TELL IT TO GO FUCK ITSELF!!"
No. 940427 ID: f0a059
File 156409607905.png - (435.92KB , 800x600 , at122.png )

The chiming plains fall silent. The oppressively empty sky remains unchanging, a curtain of void cloaking the sudden silence with further dread.

"It is," says the Voice of the Crown, after an agonizing few seconds that feel as though hours pass, "not a capacity of mine, if I felt so inclined to indulge your epithet, vulpic. We are discussing your current subpar performance in a process that you shouldn't even be able to influence. If you do not wish to displease me further, you'll agree to everything Red wishes to do to assist you."

The Voice of the Crown's voice does not lose its pleasant tone, but a sinister edge has Red almost shaking in fear as the Crown's smile completely fades.

Red notices Rentauk frozen to the spot, trembling.

Chalk speaks in a shaky whimper. "Y-y-yes, sir."
"Address me as the Voice of the Crown, in full, or do not address me at all, vulpic." says the Voice of the Crown, in a voice suddenly both twice as loud and carrying an unnatural edge to it that has Red clasping at his ears as it feels like the air itself has been filled with greasy nettles.
"Yes, Voice of the Crown, sir!" shouts a teary-eyed Chalk, anger and frustration replaced by frozen terror.
"So, Red is still waiting for that permission."
Chalk writhes uselessly on the runed slab keeping her held down. "Alright. Do it." She sniffs. "I don't have a choice in this anymore, do I--"
"A simple yes would have sufficed. That's enough out of you," says the Voice of the Crown. "Any more and I'll make sure you can't talk back."
No. 940428 ID: f0a059
File 156409614141.png - (29.06KB , 800x600 , at123.png )

The Voice of the Crown holds out a claw towards Rentauk, making a clicking noise from it. Red is not sure how this happens. "Mate with her now."
"Wh-wh-what?" Rentauk's eyes widen and ears prick up. "Weren't you getting Red to--"
"I do not have the time or patience for further insubordination."
"I can't-- I can'