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1005984 No. 1005984 ID: f57349

More specifically, an island of stability in the southeastern Wyld, where the edge of the map frays into chaotic liminal space between the cosmological poles of Heat and Life.

The air is so humid and warm, recovering after a hard workout is like trying to breathe chewing gum. Almost anything solid is either poisonous, actively being eaten by some sort of insect or fungus, or both - including your own clothes and skin.

There's a site of great geomantic power nearby, focal point maybe a few hundred yards underground. Up this close even mortals would be able to feel it. Probably worth checking out even if it's not the main reason you came. Tricky part is how to get down there, and dealing with whichever heroes or spirits have already laid claim.

Who are you? What's the plan?
63 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 1007973 ID: f57349

>>1007954
>>1007964
Grey Locust Scholar won the initiative roll by three successes, steps out into the open and starts talking first, then What Follows After's turn... follows after, as it were.

Significant detail is that the power armor's visor did NOT display Grey Locust's position through the otherwise transparent foliage until the very moment they deliberately revealed themselves, which strongly implies some sort of magical stealth.
>>
No. 1008056 ID: 336aeb

>>1007964

Despite the urging of their whispers and their desire to simply cut down these intruders and be done with it, What Follows After decides to, temporarily at least, stay their blade. Shouldering the edge of oblivion that they hold, the black clad abomination looks at Grey Locust Scholar with... Disgust? Perhaps. Disappointment, certainly. "Are theese... Kkkkssshh... Mortal creatures. Worth... negotiating... with? Or fussing... over?" it says. Perhaps it would be less disconcerting if they had emotion in their voice. Alas, the only emotion to be detected is their vague sense of disappointment. "My... blade... hungers..."
>>
No. 1008070 ID: f57349

Is anyone else taking significant mechanically-resolvable actions during the next few in-game hours, while Ana hunts bats and Sorel completes the summoning ritual? Casual getting-to-know-each-other RP can be handled more efficiently in the discord server's "dialogue" channel.
>>
No. 1008141 ID: f57349

A young woman, or living statue, of black marble appears. She wears a gold necklace with two large violet gems, and a red sash with a knife at her hip.
"What is the meaning of this? Building permits are Tiger's responsibility, not the Ministry of Unforeseen Ev..."
She starts to pace back and forth, brought up short by crashing face-first into an invisible sorcerous wall rising from the liquid-metal diagram. Her voice, initially calm and resonant as distant echoes underground, rises in pitch to something more reminiscent of fingernails scraping chalkboard.
"...have I been summoned by sorcery?"
Where she fell, there's a notably deeper indentation in the soil than would have been left by someone with the density of flesh or water. Her scarred, empty eye sockets gape wide in shock.

The circle will hold for an hour, during which Sorel Dhiunare is free to negotiate, attempt binding or banishment, or even take unrelated actions.

Anafzdes Noel is back from hunting giant bats - killed two, chased off the rest - so it might be safe for the bees to resume construction. Already finished paying respects and field-dressing the first one, started on the second, neatly separating skin, guts, and bones. Those flight muscles are very lean, halfway to jerky, but the legs look reasonably tender, and even if it's not the best quality that's still a good twenty pounds of meat per bat. Whole group should be set for food for at least a couple days.

Ana also noticed some lizardmen down on the floor of the cave, as well as a few humans on the big ledge. One of them resembled Sorel, but with less-pale hair and no Steel Thistle.
>>
No. 1008142 ID: 094652

rolled 6, 1, 2, 7, 9, 2, 10, 8, 7, 1, 6, 9, 1, 8, 6, 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 5, 7, 3, 2, 8, 10, 9, 5, 1, 7 = 161

Stallion has her servant give Anafzdes a "Thank You" note and quickly gets to work overseeing the bees in the caves, occasionally directing holes to be temporarily sealed with resin-printed barbed wiring in case the bats come back.

She also submits for visual approval a note held up by her servant to the... "Chief of Stationary", asking if she takes her jewelry for granite. A trade might be appropriate.
>>
No. 1008216 ID: d92af0

rolled 7, 4, 1, 8, 7, 1, 4, 2, 4, 7, 5, 2, 1, 8, 8, 8, 9, 2, 10, 8, 4, 5, 5, 3, 8, 4, 7, 7, 10, 8, 4, 8, 1, 5, 1, 2, 2, 6, 8, 8, 10, 8, 5, 8, 4, 10, 1, 4, 8, 6 = 276

>>1008070
Grey Locust Scholar, having delivered his message of agreement to Seventeen Quills, turns his attention back to the guards. He signs to them in frustration.

"This assortment of sorcerers and heroes are under my protection for reasons of future importance. Your deaths in battle are inevitable. I am only postponing them slightly."

Then he indicates to have them tied up while everyone helps set up shelter and he treats the drugged group.

(Trying to convince them, but either way, proceeding to try and save their lives.)
>>
No. 1008306 ID: 663e49

>>1008141
Anafzdes would quickly get to work butchering the giant bats, wanting to get them prepared before any kind of bugs or infestation could infect the corpses, which had a sharp concussion to the skull and what looked like a cut from a knife at the base of their spine to painlessly kill them in their unconsciousness.

She wasn't expecting to see all of the new comers, and quietly said something in her villages native tongue, before sidling over to the summoning area, and just kind of watching the Elemental with transfixed awe as she worked, using the razor sharp feathers on her wing arm like a row of knives to expertly butcher it, planning on making it all at once in lieu of any kind of real space or of materials to preserve it, especially since food in general shouldn't be hard to find out here.

"Who are everyone, and why are so many people in a dangerous place like this?" She would ask in Old Realm. "And who are you, strange marble lady?"

She also folded up the thank you note, and stashed it away in her robes.
>>
No. 1008307 ID: 663e49

rolled 5, 5, 8, 3, 5, 2, 10, 3, 10, 3, 4, 7, 8, 1, 7, 3, 1, 3, 9, 8, 1, 2, 9, 5, 7, 5, 8, 4, 4, 1, 8, 5, 6, 7, 10, 1, 5, 7, 4, 4, 9, 1, 2, 1, 8, 3, 10, 8, 3, 10, 7, 2, 4, 5, 6, 6, 5, 5, 8, 2, 3, 10, 3, 2, 4, 7, 2, 1, 2, 9, 3, 3, 8, 2, 9, 8, 5, 3, 8, 4, 10, 5, 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 3, 9, 8, 5, 4, 9, 7, 9, 8, 6, 5, 6, 10 = 535

>>1007578

With the tension thoroughly dissipated, the shorter of the crimson haired women hopped off her horse, and would go to lay down Seventeen Quills and start running diagnostics to see what actually needs to do.
>>
No. 1008315 ID: 54fca4

rolled 8, 7, 10, 7, 6, 1, 5, 1, 5, 2, 7, 7, 9, 1, 1, 8, 10, 2, 10, 4, 4, 10, 2, 10, 8, 9, 2, 7, 8, 5, 7, 1, 10, 5, 9, 5, 2, 8, 10, 10, 10, 5, 2, 9, 2, 5, 5, 7, 6, 8, 8, 9, 2, 8, 7, 8, 2, 6, 2, 8 = 362

>>1008141

Sorel disconnected, if briefly, from the Essence Tap to greet the elemental before her. She spoke in Old Realm, as she was taught. "Honored spirit, I thank you for answering my call. I beg your forgiveness if I have at all inconvenienced you. I ask but for five shelters, to keep me and my companions safe from the elements."

With that, she begins kowtowing, brow pressed against the earth, despite the discomfort it must cause her.
>>
No. 1008321 ID: f57349

>>1008307
For wandering alone and ill-equipped through wilderness at the edge of the world, Rhetor is in almost suspiciously good condition. No infections, open wounds, parasites. Mediocre cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone, but nothing a good drill sergeant wouldn't be able to fix - clearly not starved. Barely even dehydrated. No major scars, nor callouses on hands or feet. Seems more like some middle manager who had a few too many drinks and got lost among unfamiliar streets on the bad side of town, https://comic.skullkickers.com/comic/2012-09-18 rather than the last survivor of some previous expedition or any other typical variety of desperate refugee.

He's also wearing a necklace of orichalcum and pigeon's-egg-sized gems, which is somehow both a clear sign that he's perfectly normal and non-threatening, and plainly worth at least a ledger talent of jade - easily enough to recoup the costs of the trip out here.

>>1008216
Gray Locust successfully kept the suicidal fanatics listening to reason long enough for the worst of their murder drugs to wear off, without even seriously injuring any of them in the process, though - if we're being completely honest - that probably had less to do with anything actually said, and a lot more to do with the squad both outclassing and outnumbering them, not to mention Locust personally being so good at tying knots.

They'll need two days' bed rest to fully recover, but are unlikely to relax sufficiently if they feel like they've abandoned their post. Straightforward option would be to open up the temple's concealed entrance and have them "guard" it from the inside... but the whole reason they were planning to attack in the first place is to stop presumed foreign-mercenaries-hired-by-the-Lizardmen from discovering the aforesaid entrance.

So, ideally you'd want to convince these newcomers not to set up camp on, or near, that waist-high block of darker stone, and particularly not go digging around 95 south 20 east, or at least distract them for a little while, without making it obvious that's what you were doing. Which... might be tricky, considering what's already near complete by the time you've figured all that out.

>>1008315
"...Well! This has been quite a day for surprises."
The earth elemental cautiously stands back up, glances around, and regains most of her composure.
"If, as I suspect, we are nowhere near the Island of Broken Masks, and you are a true disciple of Cselenine, with no part to play in the schemes of either the Silver Prince or the Western Censor or any prophecy of doom, I would be happy to do a bit of stonework on your behalf. Rather than five separate shelters, how about a single https://1d4chan.org/wiki/Imperial_Bastion in something like the Shogunate style?"
As she says this, Seventh Amethyst lightly touches her own jeweled necklace with the fingertips of her left hand, and a complete image of the relevant type of tower slams into Sorel Dhiunare's mind: instantly seeing it from every angle, knowing sizes and shapes the way a wise elder knows the home where they grew up, or a tongue knows the inside of a mouth.
"That should be quite enough space for five common people, or as many as fifteen soldiers. I could have it ready by sundown. You'd need to supply any emplaced weapons yourself of course, but customizing the interior with cabinets, tables, chairs, partitions, mounting points, &c. is no trouble. If that's all you wanted, I can be back home well before midnight. Everyone's happy."
>>
No. 1008322 ID: 54fca4

rolled 10, 10, 1, 6, 4, 1, 5, 6, 9, 3, 6, 9, 2, 9, 7, 8, 3, 3, 1, 3, 8, 8, 1, 2, 2, 3, 9, 3, 3, 7, 3, 9, 9, 1, 3, 2, 3, 2, 7, 4, 8, 6, 6, 2, 4, 8, 3, 5, 1, 7, 6, 9, 1, 5, 9, 2, 4, 2, 2, 5 = 290

>>1008321

Sorel lets out a sigh of relief as she's not smote for offending a powerful elemental, prompting the old, tree-like spirit attracting insects away from the others to loose a rumbling laugh. Sorel herself switches back to her rougher mannerisms as she sits up.

"Seems a little extravagant for what'll probably be a temporary shelter... but given we don't know what'll be waiting for us, and we might need to resurface..." Sorel trails off, tapping a thumb to her forehead while her brows knitted in consideration. "Yeah, I can see the merit of doing it that way instead. So, what's the price? I'll let you know if it's something I'm not confident I could provide, but if it's within my power, I'll repay you however I can."
>>
No. 1008323 ID: 2c88af

>>1008307
>>1008321

Seventeen Quills was quite obviously very afraid, but nevertheless suffered stoically through the examination - never ceasing to express, with much verbosity, his extreme gratitude towards the esteemed princess of the earth for stooping to assisting him. He provided many details of his travails, including near-death at the claws of a number of strange beings, general starvation, weird cramps in different body parts, ominous sensations in the back of his head, a general feeling of thirst, and a strange and unfamiliar stiffness of his muscles - all signs, in his opinion, of an imminently mortal disease that required immediate medical attention. All in all, it was clear that the man was hurt by his experiences spiritually to a much greater degree than bodily.

As he was lying there, arms conspicuously situated around his neck in order to conceal his eye-catching jewelry, the hapless dignitary assured the most esteemed lady that he was not meant to be a burden on her attention and pledged himself to repay this debt - and any further ones he would incur by begging her most humbly for shelter, food, and assistance in survival - by any means possible. He also asked, very loudly, if all these unusual peoples around the jungle clearing were, in fact, under the command of the Realm's beloved scions. Was this some sort of imperial expedition? Did he stumble, by accident, into something mortal eyes were not meant to see? Was he to depart immediately, and if yes, could he, perhaps, be provided some provisions for the trip?

The little man was full of words and concerns. He was quite obviously hiding something, and at the same time quite obviously feeling awful about that very fact.
>>
No. 1008403 ID: f57349

>>1008306
That "strange marble lady" either can't see Ana Noel (as seems at least intuitively plausible, given the apparent damage to her eyes), or is deliberately ignoring her. Or conceivably a mix of both.

The Crane, however, observes Seventh Amethyst with uncommon clarity. Ask seven questions, answers to which might plausibly be relevant, if only tangentially, to the terrible historical role this particular elemental has yet ahead of her.
>>
No. 1008405 ID: f57349

>>1007688
>Summon Folding Servant and have it scout the area.
More "activate" than "summon" - it folds up into a six inch cube when not in use.

Top of the larger stone platform has now been thoroughly scouted out, mapped (not that there's much of interest which wasn't already visible at a glance), and given a preliminary sweeping.

However, the basement - by which your folding servant means that area at the bottom of the stairs - is unsanitary far beyond what an ordinary broom and dustpan could reasonably deal with. So, in accordance with standing orders against making a worse mess or committing to excessively time-consuming preparatory actions, it has returned to deliver the initial scouting report, and request clarification (or new orders).
>>
No. 1008414 ID: d92af0

>>1008321
>>1008322
Grey Locust Scholar has a feeling that it's not very likely he can prevent the discovery of the concealed entrance. However, he also doesn't feel the scenario of 'Lizardmen hired mercenaries' is very plausible. He needs to decipher what exactly all these people are doing here.

So he starts with the sorcerer, speaking up in Forest-tongue.
"You should get her name. If she's worried about the Western Censor, it's very strange that she's here. This is all very strange. Oh, and please be careful where you have the shelter placed. Geomancy can be both delicate and dangerous."
>>
No. 1008518 ID: 394944

rolled 10, 7, 4, 2, 7, 10, 3, 2, 9, 2, 10, 2, 4, 4, 6, 10, 8, 8, 6, 10, 6, 10, 3, 6, 5, 10, 9, 10, 5, 9, 1, 5, 8, 4, 3, 2, 2, 4, 3, 9, 2, 6, 7, 5, 10, 2, 4, 3, 6, 3 = 286

>>1008403
> Ask seven questions, answers to which might plausibly be relevant, if only tangentially, to the terrible historical role this particular elemental has yet ahead of her.

Alright, so relying a tad on OOC knowledge to formulate this list:

1: Who is responsible for the prophecy that had her exiled.

2: What is the Island of Broken Masks

3: What is the pivotal moment her fate is building up to.

4: What is her relationship with the Island of Broken Masks and it's people.

5: When was the Ministry of Unforeseen Events created and for what reason

6: What is the wording of her destiny

7: How badly has her life been before this point and how bad will her life be in the future.

If I can't ask 6 I will spend 10m 1WP on activating Foretell the Future since this sounds especially damning.

"Seventh Amethyst... I'm sorry for everything that's happened to you, and how things are going to happen. I don't know if I will be able to go to help you, since I have my own home to protect, but... It's not right, even if you aren't actually a child."
>>
No. 1008520 ID: 394944

rolled 9, 10, 7, 8, 8, 5, 8, 9, 5, 8, 9, 9, 10, 3, 4, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 10, 4, 6, 9, 4, 8, 3, 9, 7, 2, 4, 10, 1, 10, 7, 1, 6, 9, 1, 2, 6, 7, 5, 1, 9, 9, 2, 9, 6, 8 = 320

>>1008323

> general starvation
> clearly not starved

> general feeling of thirst
> Barely even dehydrated

> near-death at the claws of a number of strange beings
> No infections, open wounds, parasites, No major scars

"Well, as soon as we have a secure tent up and established as a sterile location, we'll have to get you into immediate emergency surgery to get to the bottom of all of this and properly, unless you have something that you want to tell me first?"
>>
No. 1008706 ID: f57349

>>1008518
>I will spend 10m 1WP on activating Foretell the Future
Research through the Crane reveals the following:
>1: Who is responsible for the prophecy that had her exiled.
Her parents.
>2: What is the Island of Broken Masks
Most populous among the Archipelago of Exiles. None who go there leave unscarred.
>3: How badly has her life been before this point
That necklace holds her eyes; at her side, the blade which removed them.
>4: What is her relationship with the Island of Broken Masks and it's people.
They consider her a dependable pillar. She does not reciprocate the sentiment.
>5: When was the Ministry of Unforeseen Events created
At the founding of the current government of the Island of Broken Masks, shortly after the Contagion. It is no coincidence that this was also the same year Winter Roses (Oadenol's p. 153) were first observed.
>6: and for what reason
Military defence, and a balance against the ministries of Understood Pains and Pardoned Sins. The three of them, and Golden Swallow, report directly to the island's king, Silver Robe, who is answerable only to the island's prime law.
>7: how bad will her life be in the future.
She has successfully eliminated any of her subordinates competent enough to pose a threat, and recently received custody of a prize stolen from a dragon, which cannot be returned intact without violating the island's prime law.
>>
No. 1008761 ID: f57349

>>1008322
Initially she asks for a mina of jade - as a single solid piece - which you simply don't have. All your non-artifact worldly possessions put together might be worth so much. Seems like she expected that, and smoothly pivots to a more serious offer: summon her again 25 days from now, and pay 25 obols at that time, or one small favor (no more than half a day's exertion nor inherently dangerous) of her choosing per obol shortfall.
>Intelligence 5, Bureaucracy 0
>rolled 10, 10, 1, 6, 4
A jade obol is a resources 1 purchase, and handy thaumaturgical ingredient - you've got at least one in your liquid-metal pockets. A mina is nominally 16 obols, and on the upper end of a resources 2 purchase, which could be a fair price for a small stone tower, but an actual solid mina is 24 obols by weight, on the low end of a resources 3 purchase, because the process of cutting up rectangular slabs into round coins wastes 1/3 of the material as powder. So, she's overcharging, but you've probably had worse. Even marginal success at plundering ancient ruins over the next couple weeks should be enough to cover it.
>>
No. 1008764 ID: c70973

rolled 4, 2, 5, 7, 5, 10, 4, 2, 4, 9, 7, 9, 8, 6, 10, 9, 5, 8, 6, 5, 7, 7, 9, 7, 9, 10, 8, 10, 1, 6, 6, 10, 3, 6, 6, 8, 10, 1, 8, 2, 1, 5, 7, 5, 5, 2, 1, 9, 3, 3 = 300

>>1008761
Anafzdes has a better offer than that. She already apologized for her bad fate, but she offers knowledge on how not only is she the ultimate weakness in the security of the Isle of Broken Masks, but the trap to exploit her fundamental weakness has been laid, fallen for, and just hasn't been sprung yet.
>>
No. 1008838 ID: f57349

Cavern under the hole can be very roughly approximated as an oval, maybe 40 yards high, 25 yards wide, 50 yards end to end.

Water flows in at the north-northeast through a hole about five yards in diameter, down some rocky rapids, into a pool that covers about a third of the floor, then through a narrower channel along the oval's major axis, dividing the northwest side of the cave floor - with more moss and knee-high ferns - from the bare black sand of the southeast.

Fifteen lizardfolk are encamped between the pool and the north wall. The shaman is one of V'neef Ridal's spies, ready to provide updates on local politics and other items of interest as soon as someone with the right recognition codes asks. Behind a secret door nearby (easily bypassed with shadow-walking) are narrow stairs which lead down and down and down, to their private meeting place - and more beyond, not yet explored.

Decidedly non-secret door at the west end of the oval floor's minor axis, a short walk from the lizardfolk camp, smells like unwashed dog.

Near the south-southwest end, ceiling gets much lower and river abruptly turns eastward, past a thatch-roofed cottage with a skull on an upright stick in front of the south-facing door, then onward beyond what sunlight could clearly reveal. That's the direction surviving bats fled, and there might have been something bigger swaying back and forth among the shadowed chasms on the ceiling.

The ledge directly under the hole, almost twenty yards above the east bank of the river, is part of a larger structure of mortared stone with two other exits, both three yards wide, one directly back to the east and the other across a bridge to the north. Soon as anybody with Craft (Earth) gets a good look at the pillars and arches there, they'll notice something weird about how it's held together.

Looks like some ceremony is getting started on that platform:
Eight guards with bronze plate armor and swords,
three priests with fancy hats, robes, and hammers,
ten acolytes with less-fancy robes and candles,
and three in loincloths, with wrists tied behind their backs, who are clearly not People of the Bronze-Veiled Skull.
>>
No. 1009191 ID: 094652

rolled 4, 1, 2, 4, 3, 9, 9, 3, 3, 7, 6, 4, 9, 8, 10, 7, 3, 9, 8, 5, 5, 8, 9, 8, 9, 6, 9, 1, 8, 3 = 180

>>1008838
Stallion orders their bees to begin constructing a stairway to the bottom of the area, starting where the party is. While they wait, they copy the architecture in their notebook, but notice something weird.
>>
No. 1009208 ID: f57349

>>1009191
Those load-bearing arches and fluted pillars are oriented as if trying to prevent the causeway of the bridge from falling UP.
>>
No. 1009211 ID: cc7288

rolled 8, 4, 10, 1, 3, 3, 4, 2, 10, 5, 5, 6, 1, 8, 10, 8, 5, 2, 5, 7, 4, 2, 7, 3, 10, 8, 10, 1, 5, 2, 7, 3, 6, 1, 4, 2, 6, 5, 2, 10, 9, 4, 1, 5, 7, 3, 6, 5, 10, 5, 10, 5, 4, 10, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 6 = 321

>>1008761
>>1008764

"Dunno why you'd need more than a couple obols at a time, but you're the ancient earth spirit here." She concedes. "We're bound to find a few clusters of jade if we keep following the Dragon Veins. Alternatively, my companion here has information you might be interested in. Something about a trap to exploit your nature...? I didn't actually get much of what they were saying. So, which sounds more appealing to you?"
>>
No. 1009391 ID: f57349

>>1009211
"Kindly direct your pet oracle to speak to me while I work. If its insights are precise enough to be actionable, I'll count that as one or more favors done - perhaps even end up owing you. Is there some further procedure to make this accord magically binding or may I be let out of the circle now?"
>>
No. 1009436 ID: 2c88af

rolled 1, 4, 7, 4, 8, 1, 5, 5, 2, 7, 1, 2, 1, 2, 6, 6, 10, 8, 4, 1, 9, 3, 10, 10, 2, 7, 10, 6, 5, 9 = 156

>>1008520

The dainty man seemed to wholeheartedly trust the medical authority of his healer - although he went rather pale at the prospect of the surgery, he hardened his heart in anticipation and professed his thanks for the lady's expertise. It seemingly did not occur to him that he was being interrogated - 'twas rare to see a man who so eagerly believed in people's virtuous intentions. Of course, his staunch confidence in the fact that he was somehow sick could also have something to do with it.

"Nothing, my most esteemed and pious lady!" He assured with a stutter. "I've ut- utmost trust in you and your knowledge of the medical arts! Until such a time when you deem it appropriate, I'll be applying myself to my lawful utmost to assist and repay you, so as to expedite my treatment - rest assured of this. But- oh, but- there's only one thing..."

Seventeen Quills rose up on his elbows, his visage a perfect image of theatrical desperation - a sick man imparting a precious secret with his dying breath.

"I beg you, mistress," He speaks in a conspiratorial whisper of a man wholly incapable of subterfuge, "Ask me not where I come from, for I simply can not tell. I swear to thee, I mean no harm and hold no malice, and throw myself at your mercy - but things I hold secret I can not disclose without inflicting upon you a severe insult. Trust in my virtue, I implore you, just as I humbly trust in yours..."

His dedication to the maintenance of etiquette and propriety clearly overcame most every instinct of self-preservation - he was either a bodhisattva in the making or led a very, very sheltered life prior to... right now, it seems. Still, his words were hard to parse as anything but completely genuine.
>>
No. 1009838 ID: cc7288

rolled 8, 4, 3, 3, 3, 1, 8, 2, 9, 4, 4, 8, 2, 1, 6, 10, 8, 1, 4, 3, 9, 3, 7, 1, 3, 4, 2, 4, 9, 6, 7, 6, 8, 6, 1, 9, 4, 5, 5, 3, 3, 4, 10, 8, 5, 8, 5, 1, 1, 6, 7, 6, 2, 6, 8, 8, 4, 9, 4, 9 = 308

>>1009391

Sorel nods, then turns to Anafzdes. "She'll get to work, and wants you to share... whatever it was with her while she works."

She sighs, cheeks flushing. "S-so... the old man- that is, the one in charge of my pact- told me I had to... dance, to seal a contract..." She shuts her eyes. "Just... promise you won't laugh." She requests.

After that, she takes a deep breath and begins dancing... and it is a ludicrous dance indeed. Such that her existing attendants nearly fail to contain their laughter. She gyrates, bouncing this way and that, spouting nonsense words that mean nothing, but that she spouts as if they were important. All in all, it doesn't take more than a minute for her... dance... to finish, and when she does, she curls up into a ball, cheeks flush with embarrassment. With that, however, it seems the contract is set, and Seventh Amethyst is free to begin her work.

... Somewhere out there, an ancient master of the forest is enjoying themselves entirely too much.
>>
No. 1009848 ID: f57349

>>1009838
After a disconcertingly audible blink of surprise, Seventh Amethyst smiles and claps politely in acknowledgement of your dance, then turns and sets to work.

Pacing around the plinth clockwise, she lays her right palm on each corner, slowly clenches, then with a flick of the wrist raises a pillar two feet in diameter and twice or three times the height of a man. Back at the point she started, a more elaborate gesture culminating with the mudra of Gendo (tented fingers in front of the lower face) bends those four pillars inward. They meet in the middle, at ceiling height, and fuse as smoothly as river-bottom clay, but with such force as to startle distant birds and momentarily deafen closer observers. She mutters to herself as she resumes pacing clockwise, raising more but individually narrower pillars, then extruding sheets or crossbars to connect them.

Anybody who understands Old Realm can roll Wits + Craft (Earth) or Lore, difficulty 3, to figure out that she's saying this particular outcropping is igneous extrusive, the 'tree stump' of a long-dead volcano. Nearly ideal for her purposes: easy enough to work by magic, but resistant to most mundane violence or erosion, and of course able to support tremendous static loads. Odd part is there are more 'vacuoles' - empty spaces - down below than she'd expect, even given the manse. Shouldn't be a problem, though, none of the nearby ones seem unstable and key load-bearing bits barely even need to be adjusted. Overall, work seems to be proceeding at precisely the pace she promised. Should be a fully-roofed gazebo around sundown, solid defensible tower before the end of your evening meal.
>>
No. 1009967 ID: 49a8bd

rolled 10, 10, 7, 3, 2, 8, 8, 2, 2, 2, 2, 4, 4, 3, 3, 4, 2, 8, 3, 3, 5, 7, 1, 4, 4, 9, 1, 3, 2, 1, 5, 3, 10, 7, 7, 9, 8, 5, 3, 6, 7, 1, 9, 6, 8, 10, 3, 2, 4, 4 = 244

>>1009391
>>1009848
Rolling first and foremost to see if I get what she is saying about the Rock.

Wits 2 + Lore 3

"I don't really appreciate being called a 'pet oracle', since I am a sorcerer. But, the specifics of the destiny that you fulfill are lost to time. But your fate is that you have succeeded too well at making sure nobody can possibly replace you as the Minister of Unforeseen Events, and with the ongoing situation regarding a certain prisoner, either Fakharu will personally see to it that you are tortured for the rest of your life leaving the islands military in the hands of the people you hand picked to be unable to actually run the military in order to secure your tenure. There might be some way to change that destiny, the being tortured for the rest of your life part. I am still consulting about that, but it almost certainly would wind up being abhorrent enough to be a hard choice in your eyes if it is possible."

Anafzdes sat crouched, holding her knees as she watched the ongoing ritual in one eye, prepared to stop anyone from falling to their death if she needed to with one eye and the building Seventh Amethyst was building with her other eye.
>>
No. 1009971 ID: f57349

>>1009967
> Wits 2 + Lore 3 + Sapience 4
> rolled 10, 10, 7, 3, 2, 8, 8, 2, 2
Five threshold successes beyond the requirement. You also realize the 'vacuole' is a tunnel deliberately carved for human use, but Seventh Amethyst hasn't figured that part out yet. At least one person here already knew... someone whose true name the Crane badly wants to taste.
>>
No. 1010243 ID: 2c88af

rolled 5, 5, 6, 3, 9, 7, 3, 3, 1, 10, 2, 1, 10, 2, 10, 4, 7, 10, 7, 4, 5, 4, 7, 8, 3, 8, 5, 2, 7, 9, 8, 9, 10, 2, 1, 3, 9, 5, 7, 8, 10, 4, 10, 5, 10, 10, 9, 5, 7, 5 = 304

>>1009436

Ertha let out a sigh. "Alright, I won't ask you where you came from. But I think I already have everything pegged down. I won't swear to not attack, but I will say I don't have any intentions of attacking."

"For that you consider sparing this lowly one at all I am already utmostly grateful!" Seventeen Quills assured, lying back down to once again bear the burden of his imaginary injuries. "Your compassion honors me who is not worthy of being honored. But... mistress, may I ask you what is it that is particularly wrong with me and requires," He swallowed nervously, "Surgery? Had I been poisoned? It feels as if

"Mostly verifying that you are an Anathema with a harmless incision before confronting you about the fact that you are either completely lying about your condition, or exaggerating it to the point of it being possible for a severe misdiagnosis. But, asking me to swear not to hurt you would be both dangerous since if you did need surgery then I wouldn't be able to do that, and it pretty much confirmed it."

I have to express my most spirited protest!" Seventeen Quills exclaimed, "I would never take so lightly a matter of life or death, mine or anyone else's! I speak as I feel, my mistress, for as I am as I was created, and as I was created with no constitution for medical study, I must entrust myself to your expertise. Am I not sick? Could it be that the air in here is tainted and plagues the mind into false sensations? You- ah, oh, but- you wouldn't need to look inside my head to check for that, of course? There has to be a more refined solution..."

"No, you are as healthy as can be expected from an Exalt of any variety in reasonably any situation. And it's not impossible that the air is hallucinogenic, but it so far seems that you're the only one going through something like that."

"But I feel dreadful!" The little man cried, "My legs are burning, and my throat is parched, and right until I've had a moment to lay down now my heart was beating so loud, oh so dreadfully loud! That isn't healthy at all, my mistress, is it?"

"Ah, I think I see what's going on here." Ertha would help Seven Quills up. "As much as I don't agree with how high the expectations might be, you are still a descendent of the Realm and an Exalt, so starting today I'm going to whip you into shape."

"How... how do you mean?" Seventeen Quills asked warily. Having gotten back on his feet, he took several steps back from the esteemed Dynast and bowed, seemingly on pure conditioned reflex. "And, ah, if you may forgive me for the informality, what is it that makes my mistress think I am a- well, that I am one of the Exalted Host? I am, frankly... not a hero. I've been assured multiple times, in fact, that I produce a rather... underwhelming impression, shortly after the initial meeting."

"Well, exactly what other secret beyond being an Anathema would a Realmborn citizen keep from a Prince of the Earth? What else would you be aiming for with a request for me to specifically swear to not hurt you if not spring a binding oath onto that? Besides, who else but a Hero would survive a trip through the depths of the Wyld without so much as a scratch on them?"

Seventeen Quills clasped his hands behind his back and attentively scrutinized the toes of his shoes as he heard the dynast's clever deductions.

"I, ah... very astute, esteemed mistress." He confesses after a painful pause. "In general terms very... very accurate. Are you... going to detain me now?"

"I believe I already made my intent to whip you into proper shape clear. At least to the point where you won't embarrass yourself by losing foot races to children from how much you're complaining about any exercise."

The youth is taken aback. He wrings his delicate hands, pressing them against his chest.

"Do you mean to say," He slowly proposes in a hushed tone, "That you are, ah... in a way, so to say, of... heretical persuasion also? Not that- I do not wish to presume, and I certainly am not attempting to insult, esteemed mistress, but my, my, the status of my own persuasion is not... a matter of choice, you see, and although the faith, of which I considered myself an ardent follower, is very... uncompromising on this subject, I do not honestly consider myself worthy of, ah... Execution. Hence the... questions. The... wariness, for which I doubly apologize."

"You are right, you shouldn't be presuming things. But, go ahead and stand up, and for the rest of the day you're not going to lean, or sit down, or rest or anything."

As much as the dynast wanted to help whip Seventeen Quills out, she was not actually highly athletically excellent herself - her training method seemed to reflect that.

"As you wish!" The badly disguised Anathema complied with a certain enthusiasm. "But with all due respect, I simply do not know whether to attempt to flee your esteemed presence or not. It would bring me no end of honor to be mentored by one of the princes of the earth, but considering my... allegedly heretical status, I am afraid that I am more than willing to risk further travel through... there," Seventeen Quills gestured towards the edge of the clearing, "To avoid, to put it gently, prosecution. Is there a better way, esteemed mistress?"

"I already said before anything else that I had no intention of hurting you. But no, that will just be something to have to cross at some point.

""That" being exactly... what, if I may ask?"

"That being the Wyld. It's just where reality starts to break down at the edges, it's generally harmless if you are deliberate and don't let the natives, to use that term loosely, distract you from your goal. Especially since if I am right, they can't attack you unless you initiate hostilities."

"Oh, that!" The dignitary let out a nervous laugh. "No, or rather yes, I am familiar. I've been given, so to say, an expedited course in the basics of the... Exalted, or perhaps Anathema lifestyle. By one of the denizens. Surprisingly amiable. But I am afraid that the less civilized creatures are mostly imperceptive to the diplomatic immunity I was informed I possess. I've taken lessons in the martial arts, you know, but nothing could prepare me for what I've seen, absolutely nothing. But I am safe now, thanks to you, and as long as we're here, away from the Immaculate Order's scrutinous eyes, I hope you'll allow me to enjoy your protection! You are leading this expedition, yes?" Seventeen Quills gestured at the collection of unusual specimens congregating around the temple grounds. "Some variety of sorcerous endeavor, perhaps? Employing foreign mercenaries, that is very wise, circumstances considered..."

"No, there's not even an actual expedition outside of the quest for a secluded area. I have no idea who any of the other people beyond my companion are."

The man looked strangely disappointed - and troubled.
"Oh. That isn't very harmonious at all, is it? I assumed this... gathering consisted of your employees. They seem rather busy here, and everyone acts like no one else is there. Have you perchance arrived with a military force to... dislodge the ones you don't wish to linger here?"

Another voice suddenly joined the conversation - belonging to Sorel, who was finally done with her tense negotiation and could afford to again take in her surroundings. The witch looked up and called out from where she sat, red in the face. "I too don't know anyone here. And all anyone's given me since I got here were sobriquets."

The tips of the witch's ears were bright pink...

"Not very harmonious at all." The man nodded with great severity. "Not even an actual expedition. Where order is absent, chaos prevails. Order, in all things order. People so far away from civilization must stand together, lest they all lie dead in the earth separately, unless of course, they possess irreconcilable ideological differences because the maintenance of virtue is infinitely more paramount for the soul than health is for the body..." "Oh, but what does it matter now. You there, esteemed sorceress!" He called out to Sorel. "I beg that you forgive me for the breach of etiquette, and promise to compensate you for the insult rendered in any fashion you deem appropriate, but I am being forced to dispense with the formalities due to our unusual circumstances. My name is Seventeen Quills and I am at your service. What is yours? Are you the one on whose behalf the most esteemed divinity there is currently working the earth?"

Sorel takes a moment to reply, but when she does, she finally manages to uncurl a bit. "Sorel Dhiunaire. I can read, but otherwise, I'm what you fancy Realmers would call a barbarian. My Sobriquet is 'Witch of the Veins'. And yeah, I'm the one that set up the contract. Was raised by the forest. Literally and figuratively."

"It is my great pleasure to know you, o wise and sagacious one," Seventeen Quills bowed, "And it is an even greater pleasure to assure you that no matter your origin, it is a delight and an honor to make an acquaintance of a friendly soul in these dangerous lands - especially one knowledgeable in the secret arts and possessing of both great beauty and a sense of virtue! I think it would be most wise of us to put aside the particular lands of our origin and unite for the moment as children of Creation in a place so strange and so far away from it.”

“In fact,” He continued cautiously after taking a long, deep breath - centering his heart and soul for what he saw himself doing in close future, “I think it would be most wise not only for us three but for every person present here to share in a measure of unity, for to be alien to one another is not in the nature of men - especially not in circumstances like ours. If you’d allow me, esteemed mistresses…”

Without actually waiting for the permission of any kind, Seventeen Quills proceeded to dance away from Ertha and Sorel, moving a little further to the center of the clearing, stepping gracefully over the damp earthen mounds and grassy tussocks that could damage his expensive shoes - coming to a standstill at a point of a slight elevation in terrain where he could be seen a little better, at very least in his imagination. Once again, the soft-hearted scholar - now a tiny bit less lost and afraid than before - lifted his arms up in a supplicating gesture, wide sleeves of his dress billowing in the gentle wind as he cried out one more call to the public conscience, his voice rich and powerful and loud:

“Hear ye, and please hear me well! I am very sorry for troubling you who I address once more - but I may not keep silent! My name is Seventeen Quills, now humbly representing not only myself but the esteemed mistresses Ertha and Dhiuinere Sorel, and no longer begging for your assistance with nothing to give back, but rather extending a hand of friendship to you! I know, esteemed friends, that each one of you is here for different reasons, their own reasons - but is that in itself a justification to so diligently ignore one another, as if paying no attention to a fellow man will make him disappear from your here-and-now? There is a veritable keep growing out of the ground as we speak, brought forth by the wish of one of our number, and it disturbs me that I’ve witnessed from you neither wonder nor even the slightest degree of worry! Now, some of you might call this strange and distant place home, and others may be very, very far from the lands of their birth - but are we not all children of Creation? Before one of us does something others may find mortally offensive, and before our congregation arouses the wrath or interest of whatever dreadful things might find the very presence of our kind in this strange place an affront - before our lack of communication causes us harm, I ask you all with much passion to come here, come to us, and speak face to face so that we may come to know and understand each other and our purposes for being here, so that we perhaps may obtain a semblance of order and harmony!

...Please.”

Seventeen Quills would search the eyes and faces of anyone that would listen to him for understanding - and, just in case he saw none, proceeded to also repeat his message in Foresttongue and Low Realm in addition to Riverspeak. Just in case.
>>
No. 1010496 ID: d92af0

>>1010243
Grey Locust Scholar does not resist this social attack.

He approaches the others to speak.
"I am Grey Locust Scholar, of the People of the Bronze Veiled Skull. I welcome you to what I hope will be a second home for all of you. I ask for your cooperation in ending the conflict which currently prevents such a thing from happening."
>>
No. 1010657 ID: d92af0

rolled 4, 4, 1, 7, 8, 6, 4, 10, 4, 2, 3, 9, 1, 6, 10, 9, 9, 2, 3, 10, 8, 8, 10, 6, 5, 5, 7, 7, 9, 3, 6, 6, 10, 1, 10, 6, 8, 9, 1, 8, 3, 10, 10, 9, 4, 3, 9, 4, 7, 3 = 307

>>1010496
Grey Locust Scholar quickly confers with his followers, hands flashing in discussion as to how best encapsulate the current political situation as he currently understands it. Rolling to see how much of it he understands, no excellency so probably limited to Intelligence(5)+teamwork bonus, 10 dice?
>>
No. 1010658 ID: 094652

rolled 8, 7, 6, 2, 10, 1, 1, 9, 1, 4, 6, 5, 5, 1, 8, 3, 9, 4, 3, 3, 7, 10, 7, 8, 3, 4, 10, 10, 3, 7 = 165

Stallion shakes their head in annoyance and gets back to taking in the architecture, continuing the construction of a stairway for the party's inevitable evacuation from this dangerous mess.

Her servant delivers yet another message, on scrap paper, scrawled with careless drafts crossed out rather than discarded:
"Could you not fill our ears with loquacious moon-rot?
If we die because you couldn't stop
I'm busy
This is an expedition, not a theater.
Please give everyone time to speak."
>>
No. 1010704 ID: f57349

>>1010657
Teamwork bonus unfortunately is capped by the leader's skill. In the back of your mind your coadjutor hisses bitterly: "Call yourssself 'sscholar' when your own ssimple warriorsss know more about hissstory and basssic mathematicss? Thisss one thought ssschooling could wait until after you resssolve perssssonal businesss and return to The ssCity, but ssuch a ssshameful lapse givess the ssubject new urgensscy. Whatever non-critical dreamsss you had planned for sssleep-hourss of the nexssst ssix weeks, please re-ssschedule them, massster."
> Intelligence 5, Lore 0, War 0, Stunt 1, backstory circumstance bonus +2
> rolled 4, 4, 1, 7, 8, 6, 4, 10
Lizardfolk of the Cold Sun tribe are technically independent of the Fengari (which is what the local mammalian beastfolk call themselves) but allied. In a fair pitched battle, all against all, the People of the Bronze-Veiled Skull could probably beat their combined forces. Better gear, numbers, and your tribe's priests have real magic. Best the lizards can manage is cheap tricks like flashes of light or throwing handfuls of poison powder, while dog-brothers seem to be limited to brute force and occasional plundered toys they barely understand. Mostly skirmishes, though, and one on one, the average beastfolk raider is more than a match for an average human. Can't afford to fully armor everybody. Even if you could, can't run or scout as well with it on, or gather food efficiently while sticking together in big defensible groups. Lots and lots of your people have been caught in ambushes or raids and killed, or taken as slaves, over the years.

Supposedly the Fengari royal family (the big ones with bull heads) have worthwhile supernatural powers, but nobody you know has seen firsthand. Various weird, vague, contradictory rumors about divine bread or dew or honey healing from the brink of death, an axe which can cut things normal axes can't, walking shadows, icy invisible statues, flashing eyes, floating hair. Their current leader, Kazleth Khan or something, stays in his palace deep underground, hasn't come out on a raid in at least twenty or thirty years. Claims to be personally over a century old, with a lineage of rulership predating the Scarlet Empress.

Story is, his great-great-great-grandfather, Kublai, was born to the ancient human queen Paci-something after she was seduced by the god of war, then, to conceal her adultery, exiled. Even as a newborn, Kublai clearly didn't resemble the prince-consort, but killing the boy would surely offend his real father. He and his nursemaid, at their secret refuge in a 'tomb-city,' were the only ones for a week's travel in any direction to survive the Great Contagion. A messenger of the heavens came to them, clad in violet, saying "one month ago your mother and her spouse's children went together to an unmarked grave," and delivered his rightful inheritance - or the portion of it which remained, after being made clean by seven colors of fire and salt. Not all old stories are true, but that one might be.

Your coadjutor is aware of the type of magic wielded by your tribe's priests, and agrees such techniques would most likely be sufficient to bring a "mere sssixth-generation demigod" to a quick, grisly demise if he challenged them openly. But... maybe shouldn't bet your own life on that, if gathering more information is an option. Unknown magic items, or the palace itself, could plausibly give the minotaur king an edge. Even less sure how they'd measure up against these newcomers.

You personally have the potential to greatly surpass the priests in depth of true necromantic power, but your coadjutor does not recommend trying. Even the most unquestionable lords of Hell fearfully shun such aspects of essence - and not a useful sort of fear which could be controlled, leveraged. No. When a man burns his own house down, screaming family sealed inside, then says to the magistrate only "I was afraid the plague might spread," that sort. Better by far to threaten a san-tiger with having her fur petted the wrong way, since at least then the damage would be limited to your bones and flesh. Combined powers of the Silent Wind and the Trackless Quag should be much easier and safer to master (for the wielder, if not their surroundings) and better suited to your goals besides. According to that unwoven teakettle courtier, anyway.
>>
No. 1010708 ID: 1fd04f

rolled 10, 8, 1, 3, 1, 3, 7, 10, 10, 9, 2, 2, 4, 7, 10, 6, 7, 1, 8, 9, 3, 2, 2, 3, 6, 2, 8, 3, 4, 2, 2, 5, 5, 2, 9, 6, 9, 6, 4, 6, 1, 2, 6, 1, 1, 6, 6, 10, 2, 4 = 246

>>1010243
> 5, 5, 6, 3, 9, 7, 3, 3, 1, 10, 2, 1, 10

From the Discord

> I would like to do it via Performance, with a six-mote second excellency, 4m from personal pool and 2 from peripheral.

Counting 9 total successes assuming there is a 2 dot stunt.

Ana has Dodge MDV of 6 normally.

"Why are you talking for hours when you could get your whole message across in an easier to digest fashion with simple prose? Because honestly, I barely even get what you are asking for other than you don't think people will listen to you."
>>
No. 1010829 ID: 2c88af

rolled 10, 2, 9, 5, 7, 1, 9, 10, 5, 9, 7, 9, 3, 1, 10, 10, 8, 3, 10, 9, 7, 6, 8, 7, 1, 2, 10, 1, 6, 2, 4, 2, 2, 4, 2, 4, 1, 10, 10, 7, 1, 5, 4, 7, 4, 9, 10, 1, 3, 10 = 287

>>1010708
>>1010496
>>1010658

The courtier visibly deflates upon the realization of the fact that none of the present company seemed to regard him with any degree of overt hostility. With a rather guilty look in his eyes, he raised a warning index digit to the pair of fellows that deigned to approach him, asking for a moment's pause as he accepted the missive that was brought to him, scrutinized it and swiftly - with all the automated efficiency of a lifelong bureaucrat - penned a response on the reverse with the help of a piece of string-wrapped coal produced from a pouch on his belt, then handing it back to the emissary that delivered the note. In it, Seventeen Quills introduced himself and curtly apologized, then offering to hear out the author's thoughts and desires in full at any moment when it would be convenient for them, provided that would not intrude upon the time of other speakers. He wrote with a talented hand, in very small letters.

Upon passing the letter back to the servant of the Stallion, he once more faced and greeted the Grey Locust Scholar and the greatly overdressed figure that approached soon after the Bronze Skull representative. His gaze swept over the pair, unconsciously examining their posture, dress, attitude, and social station with the practiced ease of a career courtier His face was beaming with the joy of a man whose blind faith was just vindicated - a perfect image of an innocent soul. To imagine disappointing his faith in one's virtue was already almost physically hurtful.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, esteemed friends," He bowed with great formality. His hand moved in a deliberate, complex flourish - flakes of soot from the writing detached from the perfectly clear skin in motion and fluttered to the ground. "I am Seventeen Quills, of no particular providence worth mentioning. On behalf of the esteemed mistresses Ertha and Dhiunaire Sorel, I thank you for replying to our plea. To reiterate, in a very brief and direct fashion -" He nodded at the rag-swaddled figure that criticized his extensive verbosity, and proceeded to explain, extending his fingers as he made his points. "To the best of my knowledge, things are as such:

Firstly, the esteemed mistresses and I are all here seemingly by chance, or by the will of the fates - our intrusion did not occur through a fault of our own, and we are not at all very knowledgeable of either this land or its people and their customs.

Second, we do not mean to inflict any harm, malice, or inconvenience upon this land and its inhabitants - the construction works you see happening before your eyes were initiated solely out of an assumption, hasty though it might have been, that this site is deserted and abandoned, and there was no intent in it to infringe upon the property of a fellow man. Likewise, any insult we might have inflicted by our clueless actions here, we did not intend, and would be glad to atone for.

Thirdly, we are exceptionally grateful for your hospitality and willingness to speak to us. It would be our utmost pleasure to learn as much as you are willing to tell us about this fascinating locale and the people inhabiting it, for we hope to come as friends unto the People of the Bronze Skull and never as enemies - and, therefore, it is also very much in our interest to help, to the best of our ability, to prevent the conflict you are warning us of. Please," He focused his attention on the Grey Locust Scholar, "Explain to us the plight you are facing, and how we might assure you of our best intentions by helping to put it right."

His words flowed like liquid silver - even in when attempting to be brief, the man could not avoid a certain unwieldy sophistication of expression. Shaking off the courtly manners was difficult, but he was already making steps in the right direction. His bright eyes were ablaze with certainty - no issue existed that he could not resolve by forming a committee.
>>
No. 1011150 ID: 0640da

rolled 10, 9, 5, 8, 2, 9, 9, 10, 3, 8, 2, 5, 8, 2, 1, 10, 1, 3, 1, 4 = 110

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Fi4AqW7l99-wP-7KihPIHQZaO-tmCDSMH3YvjAiZcHg/edit?usp=sharing

Through the gap in a door, one filled with a stench a mixture of wet dog and rat odor, a burly looking woman steps. She's tall, with a rosy but pale complexion-- her muscles are pronounced, but not masculine. By her side, a puzzle box hangs from a satchel like a decorative ornament, and the satchel has a number of needles slotted into the side of the pouch.

Most notable about the woman are her number of Mutations-- she appears, on first glance, to be a Lunar with noticeable Tells. Hoof-like claws extend from her rabbit's paws, which necessitate that the Exalt not wear shoes-- her wrists are surrounded in a tuft of fur, and the ears adorning her skullcap give her an additional foot of height.

Her hair is long, nearly knee-length, and she seems to be wearing a thick leather jacket over traditional ceremonial wedding clothes-- Southern in nature, for those who happen to be familiar. Her unfocused eyes are a cool silvery-grey, wandering around the room-- seemingly at a loss. Nothing about this journey has been familiar to her, but these beasts seemed to have marked her as one of their own-- or, perhaps prey? She is genuinely interested to find out which turns true. She bites her lip... it has been a long time since she got to ply in her trade as an artist. Perhaps an opportunity...?

She has been through a lot in the past 2 weeks. Watched the love of her life die. Somehow, against all odds, killed a Dragonblooded assassin and his mortal men. Some niggling part of her knew that it wasn't against all odds, that something had unlocked within her, but she tried to push that feeling down and resist it with all her might. Afterwards... she unlocked a portal to a party of imps, and wandered out into some... desert? In a drunken stupor. And then... she was here, and surrounded by people she never knew. Dogs, really, but still people-- and yet more people began to show, in shapes more familiar to her. Other mortals? No. Something is wrong, but she can't-- she tries to identify the nearest human she can see.
>>
No. 1011157 ID: f57349

>>1011150
Nearest visible human is on that ledge, maybe forty yards diagonally up from where you're standing on the sandy cavern floor.
>Intelligence 2, Lore 5, first excellency up to 7 more
>rolled 10, 9, 5, 8, 2, 9, 9, 10, 3, 8, 2, 5, 8, 2
At least seven successes, possibly as many as ten. Based on the look of his ceremonial regalia, that's the high priest of the People of the Bronze-Veiled Skull - a minor tribe from an island of stability in the southeastern Wyld. You know as much as anyone reasonably could about local geography, culture, and history, at least from an outsider's perspective.

You are 5,529 miles from Whitewall (plus or minus a couple hundred if too many of the adjacent jade obelisks failed during the fall of the Shogunate), inside... well, not the most sacred, their true oracle is said to be long-lost, but easily top five... places in their religion, listening to the setup before a sacrificial ritual. One or more live sapient prisoners are going to be shoved off that ledge, as payment to some divinity of the Underworld, in exchange for... something. The former celestial god Fou Tung, Annalist of Brigands’ Murders and Deaths, is mentioned as part of an invocation, but doesn't seem to be the actual intended final recipient of the offering? More like a witness or intercessor.

Lot of the chanting is in Old Realm, but either a weird dialect you're not familiar with, an atrociously thick accent, or garbled by phonetic memorization telephone-tag. Enough of the catechism seems to be intact, or competently reconstructed, that it'll probably do something, especially given how much raw power they seem prepared to throw around, but you would NOT want to bet on that outcome being whatever was originally intended - or anything good. Gut reaction is to simply point out apparent errors...
>rolled 1, 10, 1
...but Temperance clamps down on that, forces you to think before acting. People of the Bronze-Veiled Skull are at war with the local beastfolk, who you're currently blending in with, so even apart from the language barrier you'd need to figure out some way to get them to listen to you at all.

Guessing mostly by sound and smell, you could follow the river downstream to find agitated bats, or upstream (past some rapids) to a giant spider. Either or both would be likely be valid targets for Friendship With Animals Approach. Backtracking to contact the rat colony or explore alternate exits from those other caves would be an option too, but there's a well-guarded checkpoint in the way, and you've got no good portable light source besides flaring your anima.
Or, you could continue sticking with the squad of hyena-men for now, and see if you can strike up a conversation with those lizardfolk. Perhaps they're feral descendants of the 'dragon kings' who ruled over humanity when the world was young, supposedly retaining their full memories across incarnations, but requiring a guide to recover full sapience.
>>
No. 1011199 ID: 0640da

rolled 9, 1, 8, 3, 3, 2, 7, 4, 1, 6, 6, 2, 6, 6, 1, 7, 5, 7, 4, 5 = 93

>>1011157
Patches doesn't hesitate for too long-- as much as she doesn't want to stay and chat, she needs to go save those prisoners they're talking about. And for that, well-- the best bet is to go ask the giant spider. "(Why can I talk to... nevermind. Spider first...)" She bounds upriver, intending to go past the rapids, and uses her anima to light the way in the dark tunnel... only a candle's brightness, 3m to get Friendship With Animals going. Her goal is to convince the spider to help her web up some victims the necromancers will drop-- in other words, build a web across a chasm.
>>
No. 1011201 ID: f57349

>>1011199
It's straightforward enough to ascend a rocky slope beside the rapids, but there's no convenient path further up alongside the river. You'd have to either dive in and swim against the current, or climb along the wall.

Humans up on the ledge (more of a bridge, really, now that you've gotten a better look at it) don't have line-of-sight to you from this angle, but conversation among the beastfolk trailed off, and most of them are now staring at you, with a few spears angled defensively.

Apparent leader of the reptilian group says "Self having been named G'ruk. What thou having been named? Destined purpose of thou in this holy place being?" in broken Old Realm.
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No. 1011229 ID: e69848

rolled 7, 3, 3, 7, 2, 8, 1, 6, 5, 10, 2, 9, 10, 4, 5, 5, 8, 7, 6, 5, 8, 3, 1, 7, 4, 5, 4, 8, 3, 8, 4, 6, 4, 8, 4, 1, 4, 5, 1, 6 = 207

>>1011201
As grand speeches were being made to the ultimately undeserving and unappreciative Exalts in the surface, there was a shadowed figure that headed down to meet the head of their spy network in the area and principal worshiper, before waving off the initial defensive reaction.

"I apologize for my friends' behavior. They haven't exactly seen anyone quite like you before. But, what exactly brings you out here? After all, it's not every day that someone as important as you winds up out on the fringes of reality, and I imagin rarer still on accident."

The figure seemed cloaked in shadow even here in the face of a Solar's anima, with the only light on them being the smoldering tip of a cigar.

Attempting to 1, get Patches talking, and 2 build an intimacy that this new stranger appreciates how important Patches is.
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No. 1011237 ID: 0640da

rolled 5, 1, 9, 10, 6, 9, 5, 5, 8, 1, 3, 2, 2, 8, 9, 2, 10, 7, 10, 3 = 115

>>1011229
"I'm-- you know. It's just. Spider? And. Well. Pat--ches. Um. But. Cool cigar. That's great, this was a good talk." Patches slowly backs away, looking at the river-- gauging if she can make it before there's pursuit. "I'm, bye?" Patches just... Awkwardly shuffles towards the river, not really breaking into a run. It's incredibly unclear what her motivation is, if she had any, but spiders are presumably involved... I leave it to ST to provide any further insight.
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No. 1011386 ID: ff2e29

Patches and Ridal have a conversation-- Patches reveals more about her spidery goals than intended, before agreeing that contacting the two other individuals on the surface is probably the better option. She agrees to keep Ridal secret, so long as she finds a way to the surface to help save the lives of those victims as soon and as quickly as possible. Her exact words? "I accept your terms, now hurry!" The Infernal, seemingly satisfied, attempts to grant her wish.
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No. 1011500 ID: f57349

While the cigar-smoking shadow-person speaks with the rabbit-girl, G'ruk directs his followers to form a loose line, separating them from the hyena-headed warriors. There's some back-and-forth in the local language, which neither Patches nor Ridal understand clearly, but going by tone it sounds like G'ruk is trying to calm everyone down, de-escalate.

When an appropriate gap comes up in the conversation, G'ruk turns back to Ridal and says "Self having told the ignorant dogs this spiritual matter is being outside their territory. However, the ignorant dogs claim it might be so that this bright newcomer bears marks of having been descended of their royal line. Her name... begging forgiveness of self, who cannot be properly pronouncing. Mother of their great founder, whose father was horned god of war, her name bears the meaning 'wide-shining' or 'radiance for all' in literalness, and it is well attested that her ears were round, rather than sharply angled. Pernicious heresy claims that she was bald, tailless, and flat-faced like the Bronze Skull, who are being bitter enemies... if she had only thin soft downy fur and a very short tail and snout, like those of a rabbit, this could be neatly reconciled. It is desired by some of the ignorant dogs that further proof toward a connection to their tribe's royal line be made manifest."

Patches immediately wonders how 'the ignorant dogs' know so well what rabbits look like. She's pretty sure there aren't any leporidae native to the region.
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No. 1011543 ID: d92af0

rolled 6, 8, 7, 1, 8, 10, 2, 10, 8, 2, 1, 7, 2, 1, 5, 1, 9, 6, 10, 6, 9, 1, 7, 10, 1, 4, 3, 8, 2, 6, 2, 8, 6, 8, 3, 6, 9, 4, 9, 2, 2, 6, 7, 3, 5, 8, 8, 10, 8, 1 = 276

"A very quick summation of the situation, then. The People of the Bronze Veiled Skull are at war with the local beastfolk. They are a varied group, with similarly varied origins, but the ones in charge are called the Fengari. Their royal family, bull headed sorts, claim divine descent from a war god, and have inherited some number of divine toys. I don't know the details, only rumors. While the People are perhaps better equipped and trained, and have more potent magic at our disposal, a full bloody engagement of that sort would be wasteful. I am hoping your new arrival can at least stall them, if not find a diplomatic solution. With more time, I could find some potent enough assistance to shift the odds in our favor."

He pauses, looking around. "Where'd the other one go?"

He silently confers as well with his coadjutor, asking whether it knows any rituals for calling up other demons it could teach him in a couple days.
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No. 1011554 ID: 0640da

rolled 6, 4, 3, 7, 9, 3, 6, 5, 3, 5, 5, 10, 1, 3, 6, 5, 3, 6, 4, 8, 1, 5, 5, 5, 2, 1, 5, 5, 3, 8, 8, 4, 10, 8, 4, 3, 7, 8, 6, 3, 1, 10, 9, 2, 2, 6, 5, 2, 2, 3, 3, 1, 9, 4, 10, 9, 6, 4, 3, 9 = 303

>>1011500
"I wouldn't know anything about... well, my history..." Patches mutters. "...but unless they know Soth Aweosung, I don't think they'd know me... she passed away... I don't know my grandparents, either." Patches keeps the rest of her history mum, though. "Maybe... if you gave me a good look at the records? Or had corroborating documents... Well... no, but... it's possible... um, we have more important things to deal with, right now, right? The... the prisoners, we need to stop them from dying first. Can you tell me what you know about the captors?" Patches looks intently at G'ruk.
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No. 1011555 ID: 2c88af

rolled 4, 1, 7, 8, 9, 6, 4, 3, 4, 5, 2, 9, 5, 6, 9, 5, 2, 7, 5, 3, 8, 3, 9, 3, 8, 5, 1, 10, 10, 8, 8, 1, 5, 9, 3, 3, 2, 10, 2, 7, 1, 1, 4, 7, 10, 6, 8, 5, 9, 7 = 277

>>1011543

"It is regrettable to know that even in such distant ends of Creation wars are so familiar to people," Seventen Quills concurs. "But if you believe that we may help minimize the bloodshed and preserve the health and livelihood of good people under the Heavens, I shall apply myself to this task to my lawful utmost! Where do the esteemed Fengari and their flock make their home? We ought to attempt to parley. What are the reasons behind your feud to begin with, and what is the general state of the hostilities? Can a raid be expected at any moment or do you agree to pitched battles beforehand? Are we currently in your territory or in theirs, in the terms of military control? What are the numbers on either side"

The man reached subconsciously for a nonexistent stationery dispenser at his left side - thin, elegant fingers daintily gripped invisible paper before curling into a fist that trembled for a brief moment before once again returning into the linked-sleeved default position.

"Oh, and, ah... esteemed mistress Ertha, could someone among your servants provide me with some amenities, at the first convenience?"
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No. 1011573 ID: f57349

>>1011554
In addition to confirming a lot of stuff you already guessed, G'ruk can identify (or rather, provide descriptions clear enough for you to recognize) six necromancy spells the high priest of the Dark One has been seen casting: Bone Puppet Dance, Death Flies Two Sails, Iron Countermagic, Shattering Void Mirror, Soul Brand, and Sticks To Snakes. He's pretty sure the younger priests have a more limited repertoire, but any of them with a fancy hat will at least know Bone Puppet Dance.
They've also got some way to 'shrivel' or 'sour' living flesh by touch, going right through armor - in mechanical terms, a post-soak damage adder. Easy to see coming, hasn't been known to kill outright unless the target was already hurt bad, and they seldom use it during fights, especially on the defensive. Might be another spell that needs elaborate ritual setup earlier in the day, or thaumaturgy, or an expensive terrestrial martial arts technique, or something from the ghost charmset, insufficient information to be sure.

As for catching people fallen from that ledge without killing them, G'ruk seems eager to try, but not optimistic about the odds. This sort of sacrifice is, it seems, a relatively regular occurrence (though they might be doing something differently this time) - one every few months at least, apparently variable based on interpretation of omens and availability of foreign captives or internal volunteers. Usually the victims' hands are bound, and they're pushed off in such a way that they turn in mid-air to land on their heads. G'ruk has been trying to get his claws on live / intact / pure humans for at least a year without satisfactory success, as part of an effort to bypass or neutralize some sort of "troubled water," further upstream past the giant spider's web.
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No. 1011677 ID: f57349

>>1010658
What defenses have you positioned on or around the incomplete spiral stairs as sundown approaches?
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