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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?
Expand all images
No. 1005989 ID: 45cf7b

A heaving pile of robes writhing with the multitude of bugs crawling their way into the multiple layers in what was probably extremely ill suited to the extremely hot and humid area, and more suited to relatively temperate farmlands.

It was here that the bundle of cloth just kind of sat down, glad to be out of the miasma of the Wyld, even if she felt like she was wearing a wet burning mattress and felt the horrible sensation of dozens of insect bites from more determined bugs than she was used to, and mold already starting to grow on the soaked clothes.

No. 1006000 ID: 094652

A strange one-armed clay golem who constantly swears and gripes while wielding serrated spoons.

No of course not, that's just the decoy.
Anastalislaus (Ana or Stallion is fine) hides in the shadows, covered in layers upon layers of rags and cheap guard armor. Little is known about them for now, but they have some human blood... apparently... was that a blood vein? And they're quite antisocial.

The plan is to collect local resources, build a team of expendable golems, and march them straight into victory by attrition. It's worked so far.
No. 1006016 ID: f75b75

A simple brown cloak draped from her shoulders, a dark-skinned witch whose thorny armor covered only her limbs.

The insects ignored her entirely, in favor of the walking tree beside her. The figure creaked and groaned, idly rustling bugs off, as fungi grew upon its bark.

The witch clicked her tongue against her teeth, her eyes tracking the lines, as they disappeared into the earth. "Damn... they descend here... but I'm not seeing any way down except by digging."

"The pact does not extend that far... little one..." The walking tree stated in its ponderously slow voice. The witch waved his statement off, before doffing the hood of her cloak, revealing long, pointed ears.

"I called you to draw the local wildlife off my back, and nothing else. I'm not dumb enough to renegotiate here and now." She sighed, scratching at hair as pallid as white jade, and started racking her brain for solutions to the problem at hand. Sorel Dhiunere, after all, dedicated her life to the study of Dragon Veins.
No. 1006029 ID: f57349

Please include a link to your character sheet.
And a roll for your initial action, by typing dice 60d10 in the Email field.
>racking her brain for solutions
Casting the spell Dragon of Smoke and Flame, set to seek out "a path downward" or something along those lines, might work. However, since the spell itself has no real capacity for creative thought, whenever directing it toward a place where you haven't been before it's important to carefully consider how narrowly you're defining appropriate destinations: too specific and it might fail to find anything, too broad and you could end up following the tracking-serpent to somewhere which technically meets the criteria, but only in some overly-literal way which is functionally useless to you.
No. 1006038 ID: 23ec59

rolled 3, 9, 2, 8, 10, 8, 5, 10, 1, 1, 9, 6, 4, 10, 5, 10, 9, 10, 2, 2, 2, 6, 9, 2, 4, 10, 4, 4, 4, 2, 7, 2, 1, 1, 2, 4, 2, 9, 2, 4, 4, 2, 3, 8, 3, 6, 8, 6, 4, 10, 2, 9, 6, 7, 8, 1, 5, 10, 8, 5, 1, 2, 4, 10, 4, 8, 5, 10, 5, 3, 9, 10, 3, 3, 10, 3, 10, 5, 1, 1 = 427

As more people made their presence in the relative area, the mass of robes turned her head to the noise.

"Hello?" Is someone there?" She would ask in River Tongue, standing up and heading in the direction of the source, not paying the one armed golem much mind at all.

"I think that this is probably a really dangerous place, so do you need help finding a way back?"
No. 1006040 ID: f75b75


(My apologies.)

Just as the idea to utilize the spell for Dragon of Smoke and Flame struck upon her, Sorel heard a voice calling out, in an unknown tongue. She clicked her tongue against her teeth once more, and pulled out some ritual tools. She'd be summoning a translator first, it seemed.

"Why can't they just speak Forest-Tongue, damnit?" She grumbles, before sitting seiza upon the soil, and taking a deep breath. She then switches to speaking Old Realm- the tongue of spirits. "O' noble souls of the ancient forest, I beseech thee for one who has the gift of speech, for a stranger has come before me, speaking a tongue I know not..."
No. 1006045 ID: 5f759e

The pile of Cloaks looked down before letting out a sigh, and in her mother's tongue cursed the situation of having to break out Old Realm, though sounding far less serine and far more brutalist, and as though it came from Hell itself.

"No, you don't need to worry about that, as long as you aren't going to attack me for sounding like... This. But I was offering help trying to find your way back, since I think this is supposed to be a dangerous place, especially since it feels a lot like one of the homes of the ancient predators that stalked Creation. Or maybe the kind of place where lost things wind up? I'm Ana, by the way." She shifted around and offered a gloved right hand, covered in various beetles and other venomous insects tearing holes in the fabric to reveal skin underneath with some kind of red tattoo or scar that seems to be talking about pain in Old Realm without any other context.

"Also, is that a real spirit? Is it an Elemental or a god?"
No. 1006046 ID: 5f759e

rolled 10, 1, 5, 3, 7, 9, 7, 1, 7, 4, 8, 8, 5, 8, 6, 7, 5, 6, 1, 1, 3, 8, 5, 3, 3, 2, 6, 5, 3, 6, 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 8, 1, 9, 3, 6, 9, 9, 5, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 2, 7, 10, 2, 2, 2, 4, 5, 6, 5, 4, 4, 1, 3, 3, 10, 7, 10, 3, 6, 1, 10, 7, 8, 9, 3, 8, 10, 6, 9, 5, 5 = 439

No. 1006057 ID: 094652

rolled 3, 4, 6, 9, 8, 7, 1, 4, 7, 3, 5, 2, 7, 7, 3, 9, 4, 5, 4, 2, 10, 7, 9, 5, 5, 10, 10, 9, 4, 8, 5, 4, 1, 8, 9, 7, 10, 5, 4, 8, 5, 1, 3, 1, 5, 4, 7, 1, 2, 1, 8, 9, 2, 7, 3, 8, 1, 3, 10, 8 = 327

Stallion "I wanted to be called Ana today", they quietly grumble has their little servant walk up and give the group a written message scrawled in Low Realm:

"Whatever suicidal act of heroic bravery you are planning to do, as wont of the average exalted-whatever, please keep me out of it. Send this messenger instead.

Since you are Ana, I will be Stallion. But I expect to be named "other Ana" in the future.

Here's my two cents: our first priority should be to send expendable scouts. Unfortunately, all my long-ranged scouts can't fly.

If your first thought is to throw the golem straight into the ravine, I will be very disappointed. It has a limited control range."

Stallion is quick to eye the group carefully and says "well?".
No. 1006069 ID: f57349

>Unfortunately, all my long-ranged scouts can't fly.
This is incorrect. Builder Bugs (and presumably also your more bee-like variant) can not only fly at 20mph, but provide realtime scouting reports through their telepathic network from miles away.
No. 1006102 ID: e84ea1

rolled 2, 8, 4, 9, 5, 3, 4, 7, 8, 5, 5, 6, 1, 5, 5, 2, 4, 4, 8, 4, 5, 10, 1, 4, 6, 7, 3, 1, 6, 3, 9, 10, 9, 6, 10, 3, 2, 9, 7, 2, 7, 3, 2, 1, 6, 4, 8, 7, 9, 8 = 267

Ana will take the slip of paper, and stare at it, studying it for a full minute looking at it back and front before yelling out in Old Realm.

"Hello, whoever you are! I don't know what language this is. Could you come out and say... Whatever the message does? I promise that I'm not dangerous, my name is Ana Noel."

She'll also hand off the message to the strange Witch lady with the spirits.

This is probably a textbook social attack, but I don't know what dice pool I would use
No. 1006209 ID: e9d6c6
File 162705880755.jpg - (42.97KB , 492x750 , -tGltLwNq59T-rlsTrWVQpBQEGmBup7WOFUrN_PvikA.jpg )

The figure in deep black armor trudging in from off-camera finally makes their presence known. There's a soft susurration near it, never quite loud enough to be heard clearly, never quite soft enough to be totally ignored either. They carry a thin-bladed sword, honed to what appears to be an impossibly fine edge. Their eyes, what little can be seen under the helm, glow a dull scarlet, malevolent in a coldly patient way.

The Wyld Zone around them recoils slightly at the passage of this armored creature, rejecting the stagnant, cloying nature of their essence.
No. 1006225 ID: f75b75
File 162708907522.png - (4.62MB , 2047x1370 , E6Q4AjYUUAMCODh.png )

A soft tapping touches Sorel's shoulder, another elemental spirit hovering behind her. It then speaks, somehow in both River-Tongue and Forest-Tongue and Low Realm at once, "I am here to speak for the mistress, as per the ancient pact."

Sorel sighs. "Forgot I had summoned you..."

With the spirit's help translating, she declares, "I'm casting Dragon of Smoke and Flame to try and trace the Dragon Veins to their source. If you want to help, I won't stop you." The scantily-clad elf seems unafraid of what Noel proposes might lurk. "I've been following the veins for a reason, stranger."
No. 1006226 ID: 094652

Stallion has their bugs scout the local area, tasked with constructing a general expedition map and pathway; the bugs will scout the local area (within an hour's walking distance) to create small markings in obscure spots of the trees, while Stallion uses their findings to draw an occult-encoded map. When they are done. Stallion's servant will submit a partial version of the plaintext map to the party.
No. 1006227 ID: 6ace4e

rolled 8, 10, 6, 8, 6, 9, 1, 1, 10, 6, 9, 10, 9, 1, 8, 7, 2, 10, 6, 7, 3, 7, 8, 3, 7, 3, 5, 7, 1, 8, 7, 3, 8, 4, 3, 4, 8, 9, 6, 4, 6, 9, 10, 1, 1, 1, 6, 6, 10, 6 = 298

"Well, I do like helping people, and you know how to get back if you tracked this place out here, right? So then yeah, let's stick together for the time being. Are you also helping Stallion?!" She would yell to the individual who still hasn't revealed herself.


"And what about you, are you interested in joining our newly established group?"
No. 1006230 ID: 59f01e

Providing a link to the character sheet and a written out version:

Name: What Follows After
Exaltation: Abyssal
Caste / Type: Dusk

Motivation: Kill the Neverborn and place them on the wheel of the samsara
Iconic Anima: Bloody chains piercing her body like puppet strings
Limit Break: Dark Fate/Resonance

Willpower 9 Compassion 1 Conviction 5 Temperance 2 Valor 2

Strength 3 Dexterity 5 Stamina 3
Charisma 2 Manipulation 1 Appearance 4
Perception 3 Intelligence 3 Wits 2

Essence 3 Personal 15 Peripheral 37

*Athletics 1
*Awareness 1
Craft (Air)
*Integrity 3
Investigation 1
Lore 1
*Martial Arts
*Melee 5
Occult 3
*Presence 1
*Resistance 2
Socialize 2
Survival 5

Hallucinations -2
Eerie Glow -1
Disturbing Voice -1
Diet -2
Aura of Power -4

Artifact 5 Celestial Battle Armor (Soulsteel, Oblivion's Panoply and Life Gauntlets)
Artifact 2 Soulsteel Reaper Daiklave
Artifact 1 Lullaby Stone
Leige 3 Manse with Flawed Gem hearthstone
Whispers 3
Manse 4 Twice-Striking Lightning Prism
No. 1006232 ID: 094652

rolled 4, 10, 5, 8, 7, 8, 5, 8, 10, 7, 4, 4, 8, 10, 5, 4, 7, 3, 7, 10, 9, 8, 10, 10, 9, 5, 4, 6, 1, 6, 5, 1, 4, 7, 10, 5, 1, 9, 5, 1, 1, 3, 10, 5, 3, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 6, 10, 7, 1, 3, 5, 6, 10, 8, 9 = 367

Whoops forgot to roll

Awesome motivation
No. 1006244 ID: e9d6c6


"...No." the figure says, its voice a rasp, heavily altered by the powered battle armor they're wearing. Even through that, their voice is ghastly, sending a shiver up the spine. "But needs must, when the devil drives." they continue, flexing a black-gauntleted hand. "And it would be... convenient... To have people to... watch my back..." the raspy voice says.

It's hard to say precisely why the voice is so unnerving. Maybe it's the way their tone never wavers or changes. Or how there's always a slightly echoing stereo effect, as if there are two almost-but-not-quite identical voices speaking from the same throat.

"We... are What Follows After. Who here... is a warrior?"
No. 1006248 ID: f57349

No roll?

Serpent of bright flame circling around you makes it easier for everyone to see each other in the shade of the trees, but once you reach a partial clearing and direct sunlight it shifts to smoke mode.

There's a massive stone platform, top surface three or four yards above ground level, wide enough you can't see the whole thing at once because trees are in the way, overgrown with vines and weeds, but it is not itself a manse. Apparently the path your spell found leads into that little hole next to it.

The hole is five feet in diameter for the first yard or so of depth, but rapidly widens. Overhanging inside surface of the cave (or buried temple-dome or whatever it is) has a thick coating of crumbly moss, probably not safe to climb by mundane means. You can hear running water down there. Floor is mostly too dark to make out, but there's a patch of sun on some stalagmites about... thirty-five, maybe forty yards down, less than ten yards off to the side? And a protruding semicircular ledge of white marble masonry, half that vertical distance, more or less directly underneath the hole.

That sort of distance onto a hard surface isn't the sort of fall normal people walk away from. Even with supernatural toughness you might want to be careful.

Builder Bees say they'd be able to construct a resinous spiral staircase down to the ledge in about an hour and a half, or a total of three hours to reach all the way to the cavern floor. That's if it's a rush job. More structural reinforcement, handrails, aesthetic styling, and some of them staying back as perimeter security while the others work, could easily be at it until sundown.

Did anyone bring rope? Or rather, does anyone still have rope which is sufficiently rot-resistant that they'd trust it to support their own weight.
No. 1006249 ID: f75b75

"Warrior?" Sorel asks, glancing at the spirit who translated for her as if to confirm. When it nods, she continues. "I'm no warrior... but when you live on your own, outside the comforts of civilization." Her armor's thorns expand, rapidly, becoming a pair of armblades extending from her forearms, and her greaves bear spikes emerging from the back of the leg. "You learn how to kill."

As the group follows the dragon, Sorel peers at the surrounding jungle. And when they arrive at the hole, she frowns, squinting down it, before idly kicking a pebble in.

"... I might have a spell that'll help with this, but using that dragon isn't as easy as it looks. Any of you have something that might help instead? I'll probably have to recharge soon."
No. 1006251 ID: f75b75

rolled 2, 2, 3, 7, 1, 10, 8, 4, 8, 9, 6, 4, 2, 2, 9, 5, 3, 3, 1, 3, 2, 9, 7, 7, 2, 8, 6, 9, 9, 10, 5, 5, 9, 3, 4, 3, 7, 6, 3, 8, 9, 3, 6, 9, 10, 5, 1, 5, 4, 8, 4, 8, 4, 8, 10, 3, 1, 10, 2, 7 = 331

(Expanding on my previous post)

Indeed, it was... blatantly obvious she had overdrawn, by how much was not clear, but her anima was fluxing, radiating in something akin to a localized storm, which had the fringe benefit of making the job of the wooden spirit drawing insects away from her much easier. Shards of metal, resembling that of her armor, floated through the air around her, cutting anything bold enough to come too close, her hair also seemed to almost glow, illuminating her visage.
No. 1006253 ID: 094652

Stallion orders the Bees to get started in four groups; one will start at the top to reinforce a grappling rope hardpoint, one will start at the bottom of the ledge to build the foundations for the stairway, and two groups will build pathways across any local path chasms so the party has access to quick alternate routes.

Stallion has their golem deliver another note:
"We will have a way down in three hours. Did anyone bring lunch?"
No. 1006256 ID: 6ace4e

rolled 8, 5, 4, 7, 10, 2, 7, 1, 6, 9, 5, 6, 2, 7, 9, 3, 6, 3, 3, 4, 1, 6, 4, 6, 2, 9, 8, 10, 3, 6, 1, 10, 9, 2, 6, 7, 2, 6, 10, 5, 2, 2, 8, 4, 6, 1, 3, 7, 3, 2 = 258

"Well, I don't know if I would call myself a warrior, but I'm not defenseless or anything. But, welcome to the team, What."

She reached out her hand to shake with the person who clearly was maybe a powerful ghost or something for as much kit as it had, though it's ability to stay corporeal in sunlight was weird.

"But, I have an idea, and you can trust me, but you also can't attack me for doing it because we're a team, and I don't know how well it will be to get back up. But, also I might want to wait until you aren't so... Pokey, I guess? Since I would need to carry you. And in the mean time, I can make everyone food? I brought my good cookware."
No. 1006258 ID: e9d6c6

What Comes After looks... Disappointed. "No... warriors." it breathes quietly to itself. "Troubling. This... one... will have to... do most of the fighting... itself." they mutter quietly. The mention of food, on the other hand, gets more of a reaction. Their voice actually sounds pleased. "Do you... have... cheese?"
No. 1006323 ID: f57349

If you just want a fireman's pole for descent down to the ledge, the bees could have that ready inside ten minutes, then fill in stairs around it afterward.

Wait a moment... estimate updated. Twelve minutes for the fireman's pole, assuming no further giant bat attacks. Should be able to replace bees already lost in about a week if you're willing and able to keep the hive fully infused with essence.
No. 1006326 ID: 094652

rolled 8, 1, 2, 7, 7, 6, 6, 4, 2, 1, 7, 6, 2, 6, 8, 1, 4, 8, 3, 6, 3, 5, 5, 4, 2, 7, 4, 3, 2, 10, 10, 10, 9, 10, 5, 1, 6, 10, 3, 10, 8, 6, 2, 4, 10, 2, 5, 2, 7, 10, 1, 8, 9, 4, 8, 6, 6, 4, 4, 3 = 323

Oh dang. Stallion curses and gives another message:
"Some of my scout constructs were just killed. I'm not sending any more until the giant bats are slaughtered, tanned, and sold in bulk. Again."

Stallion quietly pouts and orders the surviving colony to begin the pole, but only within safe distance. She'll micromanage to minimize further losses.
No. 1006333 ID: 6afee6

rolled 9, 1, 8, 7, 5, 4, 10, 9, 7, 4, 2, 3, 6, 2, 10, 8, 7, 5, 10, 3, 2, 9, 8, 2, 5, 7, 5, 4, 10, 1 = 173

Alright, well, this will probably be a dumb idea, but Ana sees no other way to deal with this particular problem.

"Order all of the bees to within a few feet of me." She says, loud enough for she hopes Stallion to hear it, as she spends a second transforming her arm, with a single twisted black crane wing shooting out of her mass of Cloaks and Robes as she steps into a stance as calm as a river before ascending into the cloud of bees building, admittedly slowly because of the fact it's just one wing. And while in Crane Form, she will prepare a defend other action on the group of bees.
No. 1006384 ID: f75b75

rolled 4, 1, 7, 10, 4, 8, 6, 9, 3, 5, 1, 6, 1, 2, 1, 4, 4, 8, 3, 2, 5, 8, 7, 5, 9, 8, 2, 7, 1, 4, 8, 5, 5, 3, 7, 6, 2, 10, 1, 8, 2, 5, 4, 1, 7, 10, 9, 1, 7, 7, 8, 4, 3, 10, 1, 6, 2, 2, 3, 3 = 295

Sorel watches the others get to work. Rather than interfere in any way, she turns around and sits overtop the Dragon Vein. Drawing a small jade essence tap from its hiding place in her greaves, she sets the tap into the earth and begins meditating.

As she does, she considers, though doesn't immediately enact, a plan to create some basic shelter at the surface, through use of her geomancy.
No. 1006404 ID: f57349

Once they're fully withdrawn from the cavern, the bees claim they'd be able to defend themselves well enough near their own hive, or all together out here in broad daylight. Bats were only able to pick off stragglers thanks to echolocation giving them an advantage in the dark, and having split up into groups to build from both ends.

Will Anafzdes be standing guard up on the surface, where builder bees are working out plans for a staircase that can withstand the dynamic stresses of being pivoted around and dropped into place? Or will she be diving down into the cave and picking a giant bat as the target for her next sacred hunt?

Tap setup successful. Easiest position seems to be sitting with the protruding upper end of the white jade drill against the small of your back, power conduit parallel to your spine, but there's not quite enough slack for that plug to reach your tiara's socket while leaving your neck at a comfortable angle, so you're staring somewhat skyward as you meditate and your throat feels uncomfortably exposed.

Half-hidden by the treeline there's a protruding mass of darker stone, nearest corner fifteen yards due south of the hole, ten yards square and roughly waist-high above the forest floor. Walked right past it on your way into the clearing. Probably the foundation of some ancient ruined building.

As for plans, could always summon another elemental. 'Bout an hour before noon now, so if you started immediately... four hours for the ritual, hour at most to either haggle or break their will, then some rock-bending spirit can raise up solid ground into a thousand-square-foot house by sundown. Chop some firewood in between supervising construction, assume somebody else deals with the cavern successfully, full shelter might be ready just in time to start grilling giant-bat steaks for dinner.
No. 1006420 ID: f75b75

rolled 5, 1, 9, 4, 3, 7, 5, 5, 2, 4, 10, 4, 5, 2, 7, 7, 8, 10, 1, 2, 8, 3, 1, 5, 6, 7, 4, 7, 4, 8, 9, 2, 7, 9, 6, 2, 2, 2, 7, 6, 9, 6, 7, 1, 8, 7, 9, 9, 10, 3, 7, 1, 9, 2, 7, 2, 9, 8, 2, 2 = 324


Sorel sighing at the prospect of having to haggle with a spirit, nevertheless consigns herself to the simple fact that she's not really adept enough in magic to bend the earth herself. It was rather ironic, considering she was an accomplished geomancer. So, while most of her focus remained on using the essence tap to rejuvenate herself, she also put out a general labor call through her pact.

'Seeking elementals for labor: constructing four simple earthen shelters. Further details will be provided during negotiation.'

And with that message sent, she settles in as the tap does its work, and she waits to see who answers the call.
No. 1006421 ID: 933c76

rolled 6, 10, 8, 3, 5, 10, 3, 6, 1, 5, 7, 1, 6, 4, 7, 10, 1, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 10, 1, 10, 1, 5, 4, 10, 7, 3, 7, 6, 7, 5, 3, 7, 5, 9, 1, 10, 10, 6, 9, 9, 10, 9, 9, 1, 2 = 298

I was actually planning on setting up the Giant Bat for her first sacred hunt, and also maybe getting ready supplies for cooking lunch, since I don't know if anyone actually has food depending on the quantity of Bats.
No. 1006503 ID: e9d6c6

"How... curious... What are we fighting down there? Should... I help?" What Comes After asks, their voice buzzing a little as they peek down the hole.
No. 1006508 ID: f57349

>Wits 2, Survival 2, stunt 2
>rolled 9, 1, 8, 7, 5, 4
Anafzdes will be busy hunting bats for the next three hours.
Sorel will be busy with the summoning ritual for the next four hours. Her anima flux had faded to the 8-mote 'torch' level in the time between casting Dragon of Smoke and Flame (which is actually still active, and will continue circling, pointing the way, and providing light in the dark until it's broken by countermagic or the destination is reached) and hiking over to the hole in the ground. Paying for the summoning spell out of personal motes may have raised her anima banner back up to 'bonfire,' but unless deliberately maintained it will have fully dissipated by the time the ritual is finished. Ritual only counts as light activity and is compatible with continued use of the essence tap, so mote pool replenishment should be no problem.

In both cases, any significant interruption would mean starting over from the beginning, but if a fight starts they're just considered distracted, not automatically caught by surprise.

>celestial battle armor, visor can provide essence sight
>Perception 3 + Awareness 1
>Intelligence 3 + Lore 1 for operate technology
>no dice roll

Fiddling around trying to get the HUD to automatically highlight nearby cheese supplies, What Follows After finds a setting which renders the underbrush transparent as glass, but many other things luridly colorful, and these new companions almost dazzlingly bright.

Briefly turning away from that glare, the abyssal notices six humans and thirteen goats sneaking around behind foliage to the south-southwest. The men have mundane spears, small shields embossed with a stylized skull design, and light armor. They're passing around a wineskin of something that, when they drink it, turns their faces leprous-pale with faint metallic veins or circuits radiating out from the lips and eyes, while exposed skin of their arms, necks, and legs darkens from its presumably natural olive shade, past 'deep bruise,' toward 'charcoal.' The goats look and act almost exactly like normal goats but somehow convey an even stronger sense of hostile intent.
No. 1006691 ID: e9d6c6


What Follows After snorts a little to herself. Pitiful. A mere handful of goat herders and their squishy flesh animals think to ambush such a mighty force? By which he is referring primarily to themselves. It draws its blade and advances. No need to involve the others when she's just getting a little exercise.

"What... do you think... you're doing?" WFA asks, looming up out of the brush like some terrible specter. "Begone, while I am feeling merciful."

dice 6d10
No. 1006692 ID: e9d6c6

rolled 1, 6, 3, 3, 3, 1 = 17

No. 1006695 ID: 094652

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

Stallion reacts to the giant bat attack on their servants by spending time Crafting an ultrasonic noisemaker, which should deafen the bats.
No. 1006709 ID: 5ba456


so I quickly put together a character sheet using Anathema but what sort of Urge do you get with an Aalu coadjutor?
No. 1006731 ID: 2c88af

rolled 1, 6, 2, 4, 6, 5, 4, 9 = 37

The brave archeological endeavor kept on unfolding beneath a wyld-warped sky - and, as if driven by the fates, more and more unusual specimens of humanity funneled into the tiny islet of reality just off the coast of Creation. Strange shapeshifters, infernal sorcerers, naked barbarians, sinister armoured silhouettes - and now, yet one more new face, of the sort that a typical epic story would hesitate to mention. The dense, lush jungle underbrush encircling the site of the excavation rustled and shook with much vigor and then the leaves of a massively overgrown shrub tangle parted and regurgitated from within their verdant depths a beautiful and desperate individual of a fashionably disheveled but still indisputably bureaucratic persuasion that then slowly made his way further into the clearing.

His dress was severely distressed, sleeves of a once luxurious - now merely impressively rustic - pentagrammic robe of a threshold dignitary torn by the claws of an unknown beast to create a delightfully rugged vest, colorful flaps of his once neatly crisped skirt trailing behind him like the tail of a wild peacock, the beautiful feathered hat of an Utmostly Incorruptible Assessor of Merchantry Tax skewed to one side in a daring asymmetrical display. Most shockingly, he wore a brilliant white scarf wrapped in a half-dozen layers around his neck - avoiding a total disruption of colours in his ensemble only by absolute miracle.

His complexion was likewise rather sickly in the glamorous style of a lady afflicted by a fainting sickness, with every laboured step betraying the newcomer’s nature as that of a man wholly unfamiliar with physical toil beyond the handling of a quill, but the sheer stubbornness and determination with which the pale youth forced himself to forge onwards, hands clasped, daintily prancing over the fallen branches, loose debris and mounds of suspicious sludge all indicated a certain… powerful conviction, a nigh-on fanatical obsession with decorum - as if he believed that correct posture and a courteous attitude made him proof against hunger, fang, mud and wyld’s chaotic touch. Considering the strangely pristine condition of his dress and flesh, he could very well be half-right, of course…

After a short while the itinerant bureaucrat had noticed the unusual quality of his surroundings and his confusion partially abated. He paused, stuck in a nervous middle ground between remaining upright and bending in a greeting bow towards nobody in particular - sticking out like a sore thumb - and cautiously let his glittering eyes wander, scanning the clearing and the people within. His body tensed up, prepared to skitter away or fall down and kowtow at a moment’s notice - depending on what his experienced eye saw...

[Character Sheet - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Dd0DOKmkFPJDX_fhlUwZKuDzNPI6KEa6W6XX-XLcmMo/edit]

[Activating Mastery of Small Manners for 1m]
[Rolling Investigation for the scene, 8 dice before stunts]
No. 1006840 ID: 5ba456

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

Okay, so Ophidian. I think I'm just going to grab the best corebook example Urge here- Seduce as many beings as possible at every opportunity. Of course, Crystal Fist Tyrant isn't actually any good at that, but that doesn't matter. Also dropping Chirality Prohibition Index to get back the BP to grab Savant 5. Sheet linked up there should be updated.

INITIAL POST assuming this is enough to get started with.

Shimmering force begins to bend back plant matter in an orderly fashion, forming an empty human sized corridor for the entrance of a diminutive man in a sweat stained leather apron and equally marred white silks. The myriad insects buzzing past him shimmer and fall to the ground, seemingly crushed by his proximity as he steps into the partial clearing.

He clears his throat as he abruptly addresses the figure in soulsteel armor in monotone Old Realm. "What beautiful armor. I do wonder what the person underneath looks like."

Without waiting for any response, he turns his head to the rest of the rather ragged and unusual collection of individuals.

"I do not currently wish to lay claim to the site, but if we locate a reality engine, I would like to be permitted to take a look. I hope this is agreeable."

Crystal Fist Tyrant is approximately five feet in height, wearing what at some point must have been fancy white silk robes of some kind before the Wyld and the jungle got to them, contrasted with a leather apron covered in pouches. His hair is as green as the jungle itself and hasn't been trimmed recently. He hasn't managed to remain as pale as the rest of this group, having developed a tan from the journey here.

Someone paying really close attention and with the right knowledge might notice that the apron is blood ape leather, and the silk originates from aalu.

(Assuming I have committed the motes for activating Mind Hand Manipulation.)
No. 1006944 ID: 4f2c57


Please join the discord for the group here to discuss your character further.
No. 1006988 ID: 5ba456

okay so ignore all of this for now
No. 1007188 ID: 5ba456

Working on character still. Technically have dots complete but still thinking about stuff like Urge and Intimacies and taking suggestions.

No. 1007506 ID: f57349
File 162852445941.png - (1.67MB , 821x725 , YAMIAJmap2.png )

rolled 6, 3, 10, 4, 8, 10, 5, 7, 2, 10, 5, 5, 8, 5, 1, 4, 4, 10, 4, 5, 5, 8, 6, 4, 1, 7, 1, 9, 4, 8, 7, 6, 6, 1, 8, 9, 10, 6, 2, 10, 7, 6, 7, 3, 6, 3, 9, 9, 3, 4, 10, 2, 1, 8, 1, 4, 10, 5, 2, 7 = 341

Sorel Dhiunere is seated at 83 south, 30 east - marked with an Earth mon. Thorny liquid metal is spread out in an ever-shifting runic array filling a three hex radius around around her, which should probably not be disturbed if the summoning ritual is to succeed.

The deep circular hole is at 78 south, 21 east. Ana Noel is somewhere down inside, hunting giant bats.

Grey Locust is at 90 south, 15 east, within one or two hexes of the six Bronze-Veiled Skull spearmen who just finished dosing themselves with dangerous combat drugs and were spotted by What Follows After.

Where exactly is everyone else when the excitement starts?
No. 1007541 ID: 5ba456

rolled 1, 7, 2, 8, 6, 6, 6, 10, 8, 5, 8, 1, 4, 9, 3, 3, 6, 6, 7, 4, 6, 9, 8, 5, 8, 1, 5, 5, 1, 3, 6, 5, 4, 5, 3, 5, 3, 10, 5, 2, 3, 5, 9, 7, 5, 5, 10, 1, 5, 8, 7, 7, 8, 7, 4, 3, 1, 8, 1, 4 = 317


Grey Locust Scholar speaks briefly to his followers, indicating the other People of the Bronze Veiled Skull as he whispers, "Restrain them. Take their drugs from them." That's the last sound he makes, uncoiling a vine net as he silently shifts through the jungle foliage towards the very out of their depth ambush party.

(Readying a net. Activating anima for silence, and spending motes to boost my Join Battle roll with the First Metagaos Excellency. Assuming I don't get to boost my Coadjutor bonus so -5 motes for anima, -4 for excellency. 10 dice for Join Battle)
No. 1007543 ID: 61a569

rolled 4, 9, 1, 2, 10, 2, 4, 3, 3, 5, 3, 8, 3, 1, 1, 10, 4, 1, 7, 4, 4, 4, 6, 3, 5, 7, 7, 4, 4, 4 = 133

Stallion quietly sets up her golems for battle formations in the quiet corner of 81 South 40 East, preparing to slink into the background while coordinating the batttle.
No. 1007578 ID: 2c88af

The tender patience of the hapless dignitary stuck stark in the middle of the impending jungle ambush had finally run out - not so much because of any personal frustration as due to a nervous agitation over the prospect of finding himself alone and unprotected in a hurricane of violence. He cast a cautious glance at the indecently dressed sorceress in the midst of a worrisome ritual, then transferred his gaze to the lumbering golems standing at attention, and then, after gathering all this concerning evidence, came to an inner conclusion that helped him soundly defeat his anxieties and, for the first time in a long time, act!

"G-greetings!" He cried out desperately, stepping forth and raising his arms in a supplicating gesture. His voice - the voice of a virtuoso singer, rich and pleasant, ringing loud and clear like brittle glass - rolled over the jungle. He did not speak Forest-tongue as a native, but he was close, dutifully expressing proper respect to the formal tone of the language and gracefully placing every digraph and diphthong into its appointed place, even in these trying times. With his formal dress and his singing voice and his impeccably maintained hairstyle he stood out in the midst of the jungle like a peacock would on an icy northern plain. "My name is Seventeen Quills, and although I am an unwelcome alien here, I must regretfully beg for your attention!"

He drew a sharp breath and continued, silently praying that no one chooses to cut his introductions short with a javelin or a poisoned dart.

"I understand everyone present may have good reasons for being in this dangerous place, and that some of these reasons may seem like a sensible justification for conflict - but great men of virtue teach us through history that whilst indifference is ubiquitous and hostility is an eternally available choice, both can yield to a timely attempt at peace and cooperation, which is an opportunity easier lost than gained! I would dare not intrude upon you without a good reason, but this is a matter of utmost importance to me. I must humbly admit that I am lost, I am wounded, I am starving, and without help, I may well soon be dead. I thusly surrender myself to your virtues and beg you for help - would those of you who are the leaders here extend a hand of friendship to me?!"


[Let's say Seventeen Quills is situated at 77 South and 11 East. His action is social influence to compel virtuous, compassionate behavior from everyone that can hear and understand him, and hopefully even from ones that can't. Mundane components of the roll are Charisma 8, Presence 5, Impassioned Plea specialty of 2, and, probably, a stunt bonus of 1 for a total of 16. Effective Appearance for purposes of determining MDV is 8. The roll gets 1 extra success from spending a single temp WP, 3 extra successes from 6m of personal essence spent on Second Excellency, and doubles the successes after the roll for 3m of peripheral essence spent on Irresistible Salesman Spirit]
No. 1007579 ID: 2c88af

rolled 8, 3, 2, 5, 2, 3, 1, 6, 6, 9, 10, 2, 9, 10, 5, 7, 6, 8, 7, 4, 4, 4, 3, 6, 6, 2, 9, 10, 7, 4, 1, 5, 8, 1, 9, 9, 10, 7, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 5, 1, 2, 2, 7, 3, 2 = 253

[The actual roll.]
No. 1007613 ID: 54fca4

rolled 4, 6, 7, 3, 8, 5, 1, 5, 6, 7, 5, 2, 3, 3, 5, 1, 10, 1, 10, 2, 6, 7, 5, 7, 3, 6, 7, 1, 7, 7, 3, 10, 5, 2, 9, 5, 2, 6, 5, 7, 6, 7, 8, 8, 8, 5, 4, 3, 2, 2, 4, 4, 8, 10, 3, 7, 8, 7, 2, 3 = 313


Sorel's eyes glanced to Seventeen Quills for a moment, as best she could from her position. She didn't even bother to deny his plea. "Doesn't sound like a real name. Sobriquet, maybe. Then I'll give mine: I'm the Witch of the Veins." Her Forest-Tongue was... almost paradoxical. It bore no respectful tone, nor polite intonation, it was even rough in its pronunciation. It was downright thuggish, in fact, brusque, but also coming out naturally.

"I'm performing a summoning, for spirits to give us shelter from the elements. We'll probably hunt later, as for being lost, I can't read a map worth a damn- I just followed the veins out here."

Mentally, she amended the request she sent out to the spirits available for summoning, noting that a new arrival has now necessitated a fifth shelter be built.

"You can come closer, just be careful not to step on that field of metal. It's kinda important to the ritual." The scantily-clad Dragon-Blood then turned her full focus back to the ritual at hand, her elfin ears twitching at the sound of her current host of retainers swaying in the breeze idly.
No. 1007643 ID: f57349

Your squad has the guards outnumbered about two to one, uses the 'elite raiders' template rather than their 'regular troops,' you narrowly beat their JB roll, and there's the social context, so I'm going to say it mostly just works. Anima power perfectly covers up the sound of six successful grabs. Half or more of the guards already dosed up on last-battle-wine, though. They're going to be eager heroic idiots feeling no pain nor fear during the next hour or so, and then miserable immunocompromised wrecks for at least a couple days if they survive.

With hand gestures, your captive kinsmen hastily explain that they were simply on duty at the temple's main entrance when some foreign sorceress and her entourage (who are, indeed, out there in plain sight, and you could choose to selectively suppress your anima in order to hear what they're saying) barged in like they owned the place, started messing with that skylight over the Axis Mundi.

"Why are you," the senior guard signs, a pleading look on his discolored face, "denying us such an ideal opportunity for glorious death in battle? Or, on the off chance that doesn't work out, for victory against overwhelming odds and correspondingly prestigious plunder?"
No. 1007648 ID: 5ba456

rolled 6, 9, 5, 6, 1, 7, 3, 2, 10, 9, 3, 1, 7, 8, 9, 5, 3, 2, 4, 2, 2, 2, 10, 2, 6, 2, 5, 3, 1, 3, 2, 5, 4, 1, 5, 1, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 5, 10, 8, 4, 8, 5, 5, 9, 5, 2, 10, 6, 9, 4, 9, 8, 10 = 291


Grey Locust Scholar signs back, agitated, as he hands the man over to one of his other followers and tries to get a better look. "Who are they? Why have they gathered here? It is not the time or place to die. The omens are wrong."

He suppresses the anima effect to hear what it is they're talking about over there.

A bunch of immune compromised guards probably means he'll have a need for some medicinal herbs in addition to whatever treatment he does himself. Does anything like that grow around here?
No. 1007657 ID: 35ed68

rolled 4, 9, 5, 8, 6, 10, 10, 9, 9, 10, 8, 10, 1, 3, 9, 4, 4, 2, 8, 5, 8, 2, 10, 7, 2, 4, 4, 6, 3, 7 = 187

"Because you're not the warriors of this story. You're not even an expendable formality. You're the message meant to help the sorceress, and we just intercepted you.

Now shut up and wait for the payment you deserve."

Manipulation + Occult to cow the soldiers into sitting still. They might have better use as tied-up watchmen.
No. 1007667 ID: f57349
File 162870670598.png - (1.42MB , 798x629 , YAMIAJmap3.png )

Red circle indicates the Scourge's aura of silence.
No. 1007668 ID: f57349

Anastalislaus, being more than twenty yards away with a lot of underbrush as well as an actual tree trunk and possibly some bronze shields blocking line-of-sight, is in no position to directly observe those hand-signals, much less interpret or respond to them. In fact, since they're still being stealthy, you'd need to roll to even notice that those guys are present.

Builder Bees could be helping out with scouting, but they were pulled back to prevent further losses to giant bats. How far out are you willing to spread them as sentries?

Also, what languages do you know, and why haven't you uploaded your character sheet as a google doc yet?
No. 1007688 ID: 094652

rolled 10, 1, 8, 7, 6, 3, 3, 6, 7, 1, 5, 2, 10, 9, 9, 10, 1, 3, 7, 7, 9, 7, 7, 5, 7, 7, 4, 1, 6, 7 = 175

Summon Folding Servant and have it scout the area.

Low Realm, Common, whatever.

I'm not used to google docs:
No. 1007871 ID: 1cc8de

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

Two crimson-haired women come from the west, riding a sturdy-looking horse. The woman steering the horse, with her long cascade of hair, has a green jade bow at her side and wears an extremely short and loose kimono, with moonsilver bracers plainly visible through the bug-eaten sleeves, which would be utterly scandalous were it not for the bodysuit of lace and netting underneath it.

Behind her, hand around the driver's waist, with a belt of throwing knives and a straight sword of bronze at her hip, is a woman with much shorter hair, and what was once a fine gown, with broad shoulders, cinched sleeves, and laces up the generously-open back and front, has been ruined by the myriad insect life, but strangely bears none of the hallmarks of damage from plants that the other woman's does.

Most noteworthy about the passenger is what must be her Aspect markings; her left iris is the green of jade at the center of a scar of wood, and her left arm similarly seems wooden, though strangely scarred.

The two women wore matching silver jewelry with several crimson gems, visible across the exposed areas of their skin. (ST note: these are summoned perroneles)

Trailing them were two great wagons driven by a yeddim each, their slow, heavy treading announcing their presence long before they were visible.

Seeing the crowds through the trees, the passenger whispers to the driver, "It seems we weren't the only ones aware of this place. The tribals I expected, but not the rest." *as if to punctuate this sentence, she reaches out to crush what looked like a large moth with an actual fucking jaw structure*
No. 1007872 ID: 1cc8de

I meant south, not west
No. 1007897 ID: 1cc8de

(should also note, Ridal currently is using Eldritch Secrets Mastery to appear to be a Wood-Aspected Terrestrial version of herself)
No. 1007949 ID: f57349

So, you're coming from the nearest section of partly-intact road, somewhere around 100 south, 60 east?
No. 1007951 ID: 1cc8de

(that sounds reasonable)
No. 1007954 ID: 336aeb

What Follows After moves into position to confront the other ambushers. Their weapon is advanced, their helm down as usual. They look brutal and grim as the foliage withers and shrinks back around them.
No. 1007955 ID: 336aeb

rolled 7, 9, 6, 2, 8, 9, 7, 6, 7, 10 = 71

(fucking hell forgot the dice)
No. 1007964 ID: d92af0

rolled 2, 3, 8, 6, 10, 2, 8, 6, 5, 3, 10, 3, 5, 7, 8, 8, 3, 6, 5, 1, 2, 5, 4, 2, 2, 7, 10, 1, 6, 9, 1, 10, 1, 4, 2, 8, 5, 7, 7, 10, 7, 3, 1, 9, 1, 8, 10, 8, 7, 1 = 267


Grey Locust Scholar might be a little distracted, but he's still certainly aware enough that he's not likely to miss the entrance of two yeddim. Between that and the pleas from Seventeen Quills, he abruptly makes the decision to lead his people forward, allowing his own followers to make sounds once more, and to hear what is being said. The others remain silenced and held back.

"I will assist you with your wounds, and we will help provide shelter, but in exchange I request respect for our most holy of places. It is clear that this is not a natural gathering, and cannot be treated as such."

(Possibly trying to build a positive intimacy towards the People of the Bronze Veiled Skull?)
No. 1007967 ID: d92af0

totally missed this, ignore me
No. 1007973 ID: f57349

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


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

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

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


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


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

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.

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.

"...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


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


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

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

>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

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

> 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


> 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

>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

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

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

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

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


"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

"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


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


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

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

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

> 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


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!


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

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

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

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

> 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


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


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

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

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

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.
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

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.
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

"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.
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.
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.
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.
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

"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.
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


"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?"
No. 1011573 ID: f57349

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.
No. 1011677 ID: f57349

What defenses have you positioned on or around the incomplete spiral stairs as sundown approaches?
No. 1011828 ID: 4c1cd7

rolled 9, 2, 4, 5, 3, 2, 4, 2, 1, 1, 8, 7, 3, 7, 3, 4, 2, 4, 10, 10, 10, 6, 9, 10, 4, 5, 4, 9, 1, 2, 8, 9, 1, 6, 6, 1, 6, 4, 1, 9, 4, 3, 9, 1, 8, 5, 2, 7, 2, 4 = 247

Well, since Seventh Amethyst doesn't seem particularly interested in further conversation about her cursed fate, Ana isn't going to push the issue any further, and is going to just jump back down the hole, her wing arm keeping her safe even as she carries anyone that wants to go down.

She had previously seen part of the ritual, at least enough to recognize that one of them looked like Sorrel, so she headed back over to there, and simply sat down right next to the cultists.

"Could you please not go through with this ritual?" She asks in Old Realm.
No. 1011829 ID: d92af0

"The palace beneath us is currently theirs, but this here is our territory. They raid us, kill and take our people as slaves, and I could not give you all the details as I do not know them myself. You really may be better off asking these questions below."
No. 1011832 ID: 4c1cd7

rolled 10, 6, 6, 2, 9, 10, 2, 1, 3, 6, 3, 10, 4, 2, 9, 3, 8, 5, 6, 8, 9, 3, 9, 7, 4, 9, 1, 9, 6, 2, 5, 10, 6, 8, 4, 10, 4, 4, 9, 9, 7, 2, 8, 1, 4, 3, 10, 3, 4, 8 = 291

"Exactly what amenities do you think someone would bring onto a small 'supposed to be private' camping trip? And even if there were any, we wouldn't have brought anything spare for people we weren't expecting to be here."


"Alright, well I will go and get her personally." Ridal would step right up and head through the ground, popping her head up right under Ertha's robes as she explained the situation with needing a net and the situation with the sacrifices.

And so, Ertha would politely excuse herself and head down with Anafzdes offer to head down and meet up in the meeting room.
No. 1011833 ID: 4c1cd7

rolled 2, 6, 3, 4, 9, 5, 3, 9, 1, 9, 9, 6, 5, 9, 7, 4, 8, 1, 2, 5, 4, 7, 7, 3, 5, 9, 6, 9, 1, 9, 3, 8, 10, 7, 2, 8, 2, 4, 4, 6, 8, 1, 4, 9, 1, 1, 3, 7, 10, 5 = 270

"Exactly what amenities do you think someone would bring onto a small 'supposed to be private' camping trip? And even if there were any, we wouldn't have brought anything spare for people we weren't expecting to be here."


"Alright, well I will go and get her personally." Ridal would step right up and head through the ground, popping her head up right under Ertha's robes as she explained the situation with needing a net and the situation with the sacrifices.

And so, Ertha would politely excuse herself and head down with Anafzdes offer to head down and meet up in the meeting room.
No. 1011834 ID: 4c1cd7

rolled 8, 9, 2, 6, 1, 10, 3, 5, 8, 5, 5, 3, 10, 7, 7, 7, 9, 3, 7, 5, 4, 10, 8, 8, 9, 7, 5, 6, 2, 9, 10, 1, 9, 6, 7, 7, 10, 1, 7, 5, 10, 10, 9, 2, 6, 5, 6, 1, 8, 6 = 314

"Exactly what amenities do you think someone would bring onto a small 'supposed to be private' camping trip? And even if there were any, we wouldn't have brought anything spare for people we weren't expecting to be here."


"Alright, well I will go and get her personally." Ridal would step right up and head through the ground, popping her head up right under Ertha's robes as she explained the situation with needing a net and the situation with the sacrifices.

And so, Ertha would politely excuse herself and head down with Anafzdes offer to head down and meet up in the meeting room.
No. 1011835 ID: 4c1cd7

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

"Exactly what amenities do you think someone would bring onto a small 'supposed to be private' camping trip? And even if there were any, we wouldn't have brought anything spare for people we weren't expecting to be here."


"Alright, well I will go and get her personally." Ridal would step right up and head through the ground, popping her head up right under Ertha's robes as she explained the situation with needing a net and the situation with the sacrifices.

And so, Ertha would politely excuse herself and head down with Anafzdes offer to head down and meet up in the meeting room.
No. 1011838 ID: 2c88af

"Only ink and stationery and maybe some fine sand!" The bureaucrat called out to her as she was leaving, "Pencils would be welcome too! Surely you've prepared to document your trip, yes?!"
No. 1011841 ID: f57349

"How... refreshingly direct, for an ill omen." replies the high priest. "There is time yet before we must either begin, or commit to a delay. Would you come with me to the chamber of purification, and swear on the Forge-Stone therein that you are not part of some Fair One's deceptive plot?"

His dialect of Old Realm is very unusual. He definitely didn't learn it from demons or raksha, and probably doesn't practice it often, but nonetheless managed to hit almost exactly the right degree of formal respect for, say, a mayor or other senior local administrator addressing a divine messenger or Prince of the Earth from outside their chain of command... not that Ana Noel, with socialize zero, would necessarily notice such nuances, but the high priest has plenty of practice at making best use of the cavern's acoustics for dramatic effect, so anybody else in there, or near an entrance, might reasonably overhear.

The rest of the congregation seems to be mostly frozen with terror.
>Perception 2, Awareness 1, Larceny 3, Lore 3
>rolled 9, 2, 4, 5, 3, 2, 4, 2
Ana notices two of them are carrying coils of rope - heavy stuff, thicker than the average person's wrist (and thus ill-suited for restraining, or being climbed by, someone human-sized) but no more than forty feet long. There's some heavy piece of brass or bronze spliced into one end that definitely wouldn't be usable as a conventional grappling hook.
No. 1011854 ID: 4c1cd7

rolled 7, 9, 2, 6, 1, 6, 7, 6, 8, 1, 1, 6, 9, 1, 7, 10, 2, 3, 9, 8, 2, 5, 9, 2, 3, 1, 8, 10, 10, 2, 2, 4, 6, 10, 2, 6, 6, 2, 4, 6, 2, 6, 8, 6, 4, 5, 10, 3, 5, 3 = 261

"Alright, as long as that doesn't involve removing my robes, I absolutely will truthfully swear that I am not associated with any of the fair folk. And to the best of my knowledge I am not a part of any of their schemes." Ana simply shrugged as she stood back up, fully prepared to follow this high priest. "Maybe it would involve like, eating iron shavings as definitive proof I'm definitely not from the Wyld or something?"

Ana takes note of the rope.

"What's that weird rope for, it looks like it's too heavy for most anything other than maybe building a bridge maybe?"
No. 1011856 ID: f57349

>Wits 3, Athletics 0
>rolled 10, 6, 6
Ertha descends the half-complete spiral staircase. Beyond the point where builder bees are still extruding steps (which look like quarter-inch-thick plate glass) there's a convenient central pole to slide down to the sacrificial ledge - one hand on that and the other arm over the ragged, ominous stranger's shoulder allows a safe descent that far.

Jumping eighteen yards down through open space to the cavern floor, but those knee-high ferns call out to her wood-aspected anima and cushion the impact. She manages a reasonably dignified landing and takes only five levels of bashing damage.
No. 1011877 ID: 181069

rolled 18, 16, 6, 4, 13, 9, 14, 17, 16, 7, 16, 20, 13, 15, 11, 12, 20, 5, 2, 15, 9, 18, 12, 17, 4, 9, 19, 11, 10, 16, 20, 18, 16, 7, 1, 7, 5, 19, 7, 20 = 494

Patches silently gazes at the sheer cliff, looking for purchase or hold to grab onto. It would make her ascent simpler, in any case-- she knew that, with her mutations, scaling the cliff was only a matter of time, but she wanted to do so with a minimum of injuries and as quickly as possible. Grabbing onto thick roots, rocky ledges and grabbing at handholds might give her a leg up over the competition-- she could consider letting a rope down after, relying on Webbe, to allow her temporary companions up.
Even with bad light she can pick out a few good hand and/or footholds on a natural stone wall.
Looks like most of the cave was originally opened up by that river flowing through.
Patches nods, and starts her leap-- she figures she can jump a few handholds and scramble up the wall with some effort, using her elongated legs and dextrous fingers to make the climb from there. She can worry about her party some time after. Her anima keeps the wall illuminated, helping her so she doesn't miss her targets.
She finds herself successfully clinging to a narrow, damp lump of rock protruding the overhanging cavern ceiling, ready for the second jump up to the actual bridge.
Leaping onto the bridge, Patches turns to face the necromancers, her anima still visible, and she coughs, before speaking in clear Old Realm. "Hi. Um. I'm in this conversation... now." Her eyes drift to Ana, and she stops in her tracks. "...um. Wow. She's beautiful." Patches mutters quietly, even though this woman looks... covered in all manner of obstructive garb. It's like-- she can feel something warm inside, looking at the Lunar and her other companion. "A, anyways. The ritual is going to fail. You didn't pronounce a lot of words correctly... ... ...I have more notes."
No. 1011878 ID: 181069

rolled 7, 7, 2, 9, 4, 5, 8, 9, 2, 4, 1, 4, 10, 5, 8, 10, 2, 8, 2, 4, 10, 4, 6, 10, 4, 10, 8, 10, 1, 4, 4, 7, 9, 1, 1, 5, 1, 6, 3, 8 = 223

((Wrong dice))
No. 1011886 ID: 48d501

rolled 7, 9, 2, 9, 10, 10, 8, 8, 2, 4, 10, 7, 9, 9, 2, 7, 10, 1, 9, 7 = 140

Rewind a little.
Patches notices the cultists are a little further away than she anticipated, and takes steps forwards to complete her introduction-- her light shines brighter, just in time for her to hear her footsteps make a different sound. She immediately looks downwards, but is it too late, or did she catch herself in time?
Without much time to spare, already triggering the trap and feeling it slip away underneath her and opening a chasm into the depths below, Patches sprawls backwards and reaches out, grasping at the ledge...
She scrambles back onto the ledge, pulling herself up, and resolves to try this more carefully this time, and look for traps on her way there.
She effectively walked all the way across the trapdoor and it only opened as she was stepping off of it - seems like sloppy machining tolerances rather than being deliberately designed to do that.
"...ugh. More mistakes. These cultists are unprofessional." Patches curses under her breath as she examines her way for additional traps.
She doesn't notice any other traps. There's a lit torch on the wall behind you, about forty feet away, and four guards around the corner - two on the far side of a closed door.
"Pardon. Um. I'd like to make an appointment with the head priest." Patches sheepishly asks the guards. "Can you escort me? With blades, preferably, I've been repeatedly um. Yeah. It's disappointing."
No. 1012064 ID: f57349
File 163303566283.png - (30.54KB , 702x191 , path to the chamber of purification.png )

"It is an anathema!" shouts one of the junior priests, pointing stiff-armed at Patches. "We must...!" then with an undignified yelp he starts to collapse. One of the assistants catches him.

"You must help Brother Amotu on his way back to the main sanctuary. Have them send a replacement to resume the preparations," says the high priest, quietly returning his mace to its belt-loop, "and make certain that Amotu's knee isn't permanently damaged. Do NOT start the ritual except at the proper time, and by the current high priest's will. If I am slain, that will be Nodjme."
He switches back to Old Realm.
"You two an-ath-em-es," (he pronounces it more like an unfamiliar technical term than a hostile epithet, conveying an implicit 'or whatever you prefer to be called') "will come with me, please."

To the east there's a polished stone tunnel, ten feet wide and roughly thirty yards long. Can't clearly see the far end but something down there stinks - possibly skunk musk. At the midpoint of the tunnel there's a grand set of double doors flanked by lit torches mounted on the north wall. Main sanctuary is apparently in there. The high priest, however, turns to the right instead, leading you into a much narrower and more rough-hewn passageway.
After barely more than a spear's length the narrow passage opens out into another chasm, crossed by a bridge which is, sure enough, held up by thick hemp ropes anchored in the rock by odd-shaped copper-alloy fittings similar to those you saw earlier. It's clearly well-crafted and carefully maintained - the planks are thick, dense, rot-resistant wood, fitted smugly together, held firm yet flexible by a tidy, efficient system of knots. Bridge as a whole is T-shaped, with the left-side handrail interrupted by an elaborate wooden archway suspended in midair. Rather than continuing straight ahead the high priest turns east again, leading you through the archway and into another narrow tunnel.

You encounter another individual coming back the other way, dressed much like one of the ceremonial assistants you saw earlier, with the addition of a bulky wicker backpack which is empty, but lined on the inside with thin leather and black dust. The acolyte hastily doubles back and ducks into a small alcove partway through the tunnel. Alcove has another torch in a sconce, unlit. The bridges are narrow enough that two people might shuffle past each other, but it'd be awkward and possibly even dangerous.

Out the other side of that ten-yard-long tunnel (apparently transfixing a wedge of stone which extends from the cavern ceiling like some titanic axe-blade aimed at a downstream section of the river), there's another bridge, longer but less elaborate, and a third relatively narrow borehole. Notably warm, dry air seems to be blowing gently out of it, contrasted with the cool damp of the river cavern, and it turns to the south, finally opening into a 30' long and 10' wide but notably high-ceilinged room with thick black curtains to the west and rusty iron bars to the east. There are two guards in bronze plate armor standing near the center of the curtains.

The high priest says something to them about 'sensitive topics' and the two promptly nod in unison. One guard spits out the gum she was chewing, stretches it into two pieces, and stuffs them in her ears (lifting her helmet out of the way and settling it back into place afterward with a well-practiced trick of the knuckles), then turns to stare intently at something in the space on the far side of the bars. The other removes a simple necklace hung with a thin carved bone, hands it over to the high priest, then turns and nonchalantly walks off the way you came in.

Up against the far wall there's a small basin of water, where the high priest performs some ablutions, pointedly turning his back on Patches and Ana Noel.

Has Patches allowed her anima flare to lapse, or is she maintaining it?
No. 1012066 ID: a55414

rolled 6, 5, 10, 1, 4, 8, 1, 1, 5, 2, 9, 6, 2, 3, 4, 1, 6, 1, 3, 5 = 83

Patches winces when the priest is hit with a stick, almost feeling the pain herself. She doesn't allow her anima to lapse as ehe follows besides... "I, um, thank you for the audience. It's just, well, you know, Anathema is a strong word, and I couldn't possibly... be that. Even if I can now jump higher, I glow, animals talk to me... ... ...okay, the evidence is admittedly mounting, but, I'm. I'm the least heretical person I know. Probably. Possibly. There's a teensy tiny chance I might maybe have Exalted. Don't worry about it too much. I'm just. Um. Okay, this, um. She's pretty, but I'm not with her, I'm here for something else." Patches points at Ana as she finishes sheepishly making a fool of herself in Old Realm. "I just came from a desert so..."
No. 1012147 ID: d92af0

"Well, sir, if you'd follow me, I'll show you to a less difficult entrance than the others have chosen to use. Meanwhile, I'll leave my own people up here to defend the surface with their six new fellows."

Then, assuming no objections, Grey Locust Scholar would lead any of the remaining surface exalts down through the 'secret' entrance.
No. 1012195 ID: 9df2e9

rolled 3, 3, 2, 9, 9, 2, 1, 3, 8, 9, 6, 3, 3, 9, 3, 7, 3, 5, 6, 2, 9, 9, 10, 1, 8, 3, 4, 9, 5, 3, 1, 8, 7, 10, 3, 7, 6, 6, 6, 4, 8, 6, 10, 1, 8, 2, 7, 9, 10, 7 = 283


Ana is going to pointedly also avoid looking at patches, or reacting to what she is saying regarding her manipulations for the duration of the trip. She wasn't entirely sure what it was, but she felt a strong sense of danger from the rabbit, and she needed to be contained. Plus she didn't want the Bronze Folk to think she was actually affiliated with the other person.

But, she made sure to be extra handsy with the rope the bridge is suspended on. "Oh, this is really nice rope. Before the most recent developments, I actually really liked weaving. When all that is cleared, would I be able to meet with some of the weavers of your tribe while they work?"

Ana would similarly compliment the basket weaving as they passed the big bulky basket, her personal curiosity mostly seeming to be on the weaved goods she made out. "But I think my main question about the baskets is probably about the baskets is do they lock from the inside or outside?"

Honestly perhaps more surprising is that she didn't seem to have any questions about the more obviously magical gum situation, though she did clap her gloved hands behind the guards head to see if she really was deaf now.

She definitely seemed to lack the gravitas and decorum of an apocalyptic omen even as she followed along.
No. 1012210 ID: f57349
File 163320215327.png - (21.12KB , 479x241 , Below the Secret Entrance.png )

There's a guard in plate armor at the bottom of the stairs, blocking the way forward, who recognizes Grey Locust Scholar on sight.
"Heretic! By what dispensation have you returned here?"

Oh, right. That little... doctrinal dispute. See, you were going to join the priesthood, but before they'd even let you approach the sacred heart-testing flame, there's this ordeal where you have to sit out on a rock - a specific rock, miles from here, friendly territory - for a day and a night and a day, with nothing to eat or drink but rainwater and bugs. You apparently failed the test because it was too easy. Enjoying direct sunlight and the taste of cave crickets is considered 'cheating,' somehow. Hence the deed-name.

Anyway, the argument escalated pretty quickly, both sides said some regrettable things, a few of the tribe's best warriors agreed with you that particular ancient tradition didn't make any sense to them either once it was spelled out plainly, you and your followers stormed off, you exalted... and now here we all are.
No. 1012237 ID: d92af0

rolled 1, 5, 7, 6, 10, 5, 4, 9, 6, 9, 5, 10, 2, 5, 10, 2, 7, 4, 3, 7, 4, 6, 1, 5, 7, 9, 7, 4, 3, 6, 6, 5, 10, 2, 8, 6, 9, 9, 8, 4, 9, 5, 8, 6, 7, 10, 4, 10, 1, 5 = 301

"I've come by my own dispensation, to escort these outsiders to speak with the priests before one of you attempts to assault them again and gets the lot of you killed. The six you had topside already tried that, and they're lucky I was there to stop it. Two of the outsiders didn't care to listen to me, and they've already leapt down the skylight. What is to be done about them is not a decision for you to make. Step aside so it can be made by someone in charge. And while you're at it? Get us all something to eat."
Grey Locust Scholar continues marching forward past the guard and then along the rope bridge unless physically prevented.

Attempting to persuade my way past the guard, spending 5 motes on 1st Excellency, and channeling Compassion because it's probably been a while since any of the others have had a good meal and shelter from the heat.
Should be rolling 15 dice.
No. 1012241 ID: f57349

'Someone in charge' happens to be passing by - no less than the High Priest himself. He overhears, then orders the guard to stand aside and let you pass. "Was it these two who jumped down? May as well test the whole lot of them at once."

There are actually three people following him, only one of whom was with those newcomers above. In the middle is a rabbit-woman, wearing a jacket over a damaged wedding dress, glowing with a golden aura and the brand of Twilight on her forehead.

Picking up the rear of the procession, and trying to avoid attention, is a young woman who looks almost exactly like a lower-grade version of Sorel Dhiunare. Couple inches shorter, one ear crooked, skin still approximately chocolate-colored but a vaguely unhealthy shade, more bony than muscular, pinkish-tinted pale hair disheveled rather than growing naturally into tidy angular shapes. She's naked apart from a loincloth and the bit of rope binding her wrists behind her back.

Once the others have passed she runs up to Sorel - who hesitated at the edge of the chasm, struggling with fear of heights - and whispers "Are we kin?"
No. 1012300 ID: f57349

I was already well aware the actual summoning isn't likely to work. Much has been lost. Even so, it gives the uninitiated something to hope for, secures favorable treatment for the souls of those sacrificed, and the scalies are less aggressive after eating.

From the fact that you are here in this place, but not screaming and melting, I see that you are not Fair Folk. At least one, and perhaps all of you must be what the Immaculates called "anathema." From the fact that I still have both my kidneys after looking away, I have learned that you do not seek my death, or at least are capable of patience.

It was said that some of your kind have been known to honor bargains, and grant terrible boons. I ask of you this:
First, that my people, those of the Bronze-Veiled Skull, be spared.
Second, that you go among the Fengari, beyond their hidden gate, and remove or destroy them, according to your nature.
I care not how, so long as whatever remains poses no ongoing threat to my people, in accordance with the first boon.
Third, that the treasures of our ancestors - the Oracle, the Deep Palace, and the Spear of Clarity - be left intact, unspoiled, and recoverable.

That those treasures be recovered by your own hands is not necessary, and I do not ask it of you.
That my own glory be advanced by these deeds is not necessary, and I do not ask it of you.
That my personal safety be preserved is not necessary, and I do not ask it of you.

For all this, what price would you ask of me?
No. 1012304 ID: 2c88af

rolled 8, 2, 3, 10, 10, 4, 5, 1, 1, 10, 2, 6, 4, 7, 1, 10, 1, 8, 2, 1, 2, 4, 10, 4, 10, 4, 4, 9, 7, 1, 7, 6, 2, 4, 2, 2, 7, 3, 4, 5, 4, 9, 2, 4, 3, 2, 8, 4, 7, 1 = 237

Seventeen Quills listens intently and attentively - it is evident from the borderline heartbroken expression he bore that the man was earnestly emphatizing with the Bronze Skull's plights, almost as if he was somehow experiencing their troubles second-hand. He nodded severely as the man finished speaking, and then, seemingly surprising even himself with this sudden decisiveness, was the first to reply. He spoke in measured, imperceptibly accented Old Realm of the academical variety that men learned not from teachers, but out of old books.

"There is no denying that at times the circumstances align in such a way that sacrifices are required for the greater good," He concedes sorrowfully, "But even in the direst straits, a sacrifice of human life could only be carried out as the last resort - and certainly not by the unwilling, and not by such deceitful ways. I will lend all aid that I can render towards securing your people's safety and well-being, esteemed priest, but only on the condition that you and your people will cooperate with me in trying to resolve all troubles so that we attain solutions that make the least number of souls on either side suffer, whether in war or in peace and that we strive continuously towards virtuous and kind outcomes and never towards the vicious and consciously violent ones. That, I must firmly say, is non-negotiable, no matter how presumptuous and prudish it may sound - and I am confident that all present beside me agree."

Having finished with his bold chastisement, the courtier took a breath and continued in a much milder and brisk manner:

"If that is acceptable to you, then the only things I would ask for in return is that I and those that I associate with are allowed to exist in your domain peacefully, that we be free to learn from your people and explore, respectfully, the mysteries of this place, both those known to you and those that may still be secret, and that any disagreements and troublesome developments that may occur will be guaranteed to be resolved with talks first and any violent action a distant second. Would that be agreeable for you also?"
No. 1012305 ID: 2c88af

[Seventeen Quills uses Sagacious Reading of Intent for 3m peripheral, targeting the words of the High Priest to discern the motivation behind them.

He uses Mastery of Small Manners as per the wording of the charm for 1m of peripheral essence, discerning the basic motivations of everyone present with 3 automatic successes on Investigation, among other effects.

Finally, he carries out a Performance-based social attack against everyone present to compel virtuous and compassionate behavior towards one another in these negotiations. *Provisionally* it's 8 Presence, 5 Performance, 1 Stunt for a total of 14 dice, plus one automatic success from expending WP and three more from Second Performance Excellency, expending 6m from personal pool. Effective Appearance for purposes of MDV is 8, or 9 if the boost from MoSM lasts enough to make this attack.]
No. 1012326 ID: f57349

> Sagacious Reading of Intent
His intent is almost exactly as stated: that you should benefit his allies and subordinates indirectly by ruining, or at least relocating, their enemies.

He is disclaiming self-interest because of an overly-literal reading of Immaculate propaganda, interpreting what was meant to be moral advice as a more neutral empirical warning that such thoughts would cause the process to fail.
No. 1012338 ID: 2abdc2

rolled 4, 8, 7, 5, 9, 6, 10, 6, 9, 8, 7, 7, 2, 2, 4, 6, 4, 3, 3, 9, 4, 5, 7, 7, 5, 7, 5, 3, 3, 6, 4, 3, 10, 3, 9, 1, 8, 4, 10, 10, 10, 10, 6, 5, 4, 5, 2, 3, 9, 7 = 294


"I'll be entirely honest, I have no leg in this race. I don't know anything about either of your societies, and I'm not interested in attacking innocent people or joining a war effort for either side."

Ana stood back up from the failed scuffle to try and put the Solar Rabbit behind bars, fully willing to head back through the bars mainly as her own protection against Patches until she can find a way to lock the other up, since it wasn't like it would be hard for her to just walk out anyway.

As far as mechanics go, she doesn't have any reason to either resist or care about the social attack from Quills.
No. 1012339 ID: 626f3d

rolled 4, 10, 7, 10, 1, 6, 10, 3, 3, 2, 1, 6, 8, 4, 4, 10, 4, 9, 1, 9, 1, 7, 9, 1, 7, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 10, 5, 1, 8, 4, 6, 7, 8, 6, 8 = 232

"I-- what? I'm... sorry? Okay, I'm not with them either, I-- I mean, violence isn't entirely off the... nevermind... I'll just go..." Patches, feeling pushed out of the conversation by the more charismatic solar, goes to sulk in a corner and hold her knees. She doesn't have the social skills to compete. As for her Motive, [b]Remove all obstacles to her art.[b]

Even after suplexing Ana's Dark Rider and pulling her and a wood spirit out of the dark passage she made, she doesn't feel confident.
No. 1012346 ID: f57349

>wood spirit
Hallway beyond the iron bars (which are solidly set into both floor and ceiling, with no 'cell door' or other apparent mechanism) soon turns left into a descending staircase. In the corner, perhaps seven or eight yards past that line of salt set into the floor, there's a natural stone formation which vaguely resembles a sugar-glazed tree trunk, complete with roots and branches along the floor and ceiling.
>Lore 5, Craft (Water) 1
Probably something to do with airflow and humidity making the stone incrementally dissolve and resolidify. Sounds like there's a reasonably large space behind that curtain to the west, with fires kept steadily burning - that acolyte you saw on the way in had a specialized backpack for carrying charcoal. Cold air gets drawn up those stairs and through the bars, warmed, flows out through the hole by the bridge where you came in. Gethemane, City of the Mountain Gateway, has similar sorts of problems: deep passages they'd prefer to fully seal off for security, but can't because they'd suffocate.

Anyway, staring at the tree-like rock, you get an indistinct visual impression of a humanoid figure, first struggling with the bars, then retreating, cowering, and looking toward the other passage in fear. Almost like a particularly vivid daydream.
No. 1012480 ID: d92af0

rolled 10, 6, 3, 1, 4, 10, 3, 9, 2, 3, 1, 5, 3, 2, 6, 6, 7, 6, 9, 1, 4, 4, 9, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 10, 4, 6, 4, 3, 7, 3, 8, 7, 2, 9, 7, 1, 5, 7, 7, 4, 1, 5, 1, 10 = 243

Grey Locust Scholar nods agreeably at Seventeen Quills, eyeing the scuffle between the other Exalts with confusion.

"I agree with this on principle, but perhaps not as an absolute? I would greatly prefer peaceful solutions where possible, but I can't say for certain that all parties will be open to them. Ah, I would like some acknowledgement of greater authority in matters of vital importance. Like defending the stability of Creation from the Fair Folk. You know, since we are all standing in it right now. And yes, I have taken the Second Breath."

Grey Locust Scholar's motive is to take control of the stable pocket in the Wyld, not sure whether his reasons for doing that are something the charm would pick up on?

Also spending 3 XP, 1 for Martial Arts 2, 1 for Survival 2, and 1 towards learning the procedure for summoning a tomescu. I don't have any idea how much XP I actually have but I feel like I can be fairly confident I have 3.
No. 1012547 ID: f57349

"So, restating to be sure I understand your offer: You will put a geas on the Fengari which prevents them from attacking by ambush, and possibly also aid us in other ways yet to be defined. In exchange, we will be subject to the same geas, provide you and yours with basic hospitality indefinitely, and you will have veto power over anything involving live sacrifices.

"If this is accurate, and you would be willing to grant my successors similar veto power over questioning of anyone among the People less than twenty-five years in age, we may have the foundation of an accord. First, however, those here for whom you do not speak must have a chance to present their own bids."
No. 1013058 ID: 82be69

rolled 5, 9, 5, 3, 10, 10, 5, 2, 1, 4, 10, 6, 10, 5, 3, 4, 2, 7, 3, 8, 9, 10, 4, 10, 7, 2, 8, 9, 1, 7, 5, 6, 6, 7, 4, 5, 6, 8, 1, 1, 10, 10, 9, 9, 3, 1, 10, 4, 1, 3, 3, 7, 2, 3, 5, 8, 2, 9, 10, 6 = 343

Patches manages to use the image of suffering to motivate herself out of the hole in her mood she dug... and tries to scoot and clamber closer to the bars. "Are you doing okay?" Patches whispers through the bars, looking at the tree. "You seem scared. ...I'm scared too. It's... okay if you don't want to talk." Patches tries to coax the tree into telling it a bit more about itself, hopefully without being overheard. She's going to rely on her investigative talents to try and discern more information, if the spirit doesn't feel comfortable.
No. 1013263 ID: f57349

There's no verbal response or even overt gesture, but you get the distinct impression that, beyond the obvious, this dryad is lost in a (by her own naive standards) shockingly hostile environment, like some rich lady's pampered little dog who accidentally wandered off onto the tundra. She wants to make like a tree and leave, but is too weak to be safely moved. She wants you (or anyone, really) to stay nearby and somehow help recover her strength.
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