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File 163198472971.jpg - (967.32KB , 1053x562 , sojourn_titlecard.jpg )
1010895 No. 1010895 ID: 673fe6

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

It is the FOURTH AGE, and now is a time of dire peril and uncertainty; the GREAT KHAN, AZAD KHAZARAD,
has perished at the apex of his ascension ceremony — leaving prophecies in tatters. Once mighty empires
teeter on the precipice of destruction, and the greatest among them, the KHANATE OF KHOR, lies in ruin
beneath a dark and mysterious PALL.

From the heart of the KHANATE, a terrible CURSE has begun to sweep the land, the spreading PALL warping
the very landscape and changing those with the misfortune of its touch in strange and sometimes MONSTROUS
ways. Sages say this is a prelude to the END TIMES: if left unchecked, all may be lost.

Desperate to avert calamity, many have dispatched expeditions or even armies, hoping to quash and forestall
such great perils and open the way to the FATED CITY at the heart of the KHANATE, where it is said answers
may lie. Few have returned, and the realms of man have grown restless -- and those beyond watch with
a growing concern.
83 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 1011522 ID: 9c850e

>>1011479
B
>>
No. 1011538 ID: 673fe6
File 163254969982.jpg - (200.28KB , 300x750 , soj_013.jpg )
1011538

Erring on the side of caution, you elect to see to binding the man -- retrieving your rope from your bag before taking dutiful time to truss his arms and legs. Afterwards, you toss the rope over a thick, sturdy branch and quietly thank the tree's presence in foisting so large and heavy a creature from the ground. With some strain and long effort, you flex and pull before tying off your rope--leaving him dangling just a touch above your own height, upside-down. It would serve to disorient him and keep him in a compromised position, just in case.

A part of you still fosters the notion of cultivating your more magical and wondrous image with these creatures, however; it could prove quite fortuitous.

Once you're confident you have your captive secure, you rummage through your reagents and ration out a portion for a bewitching spell; up close, with a slumbering captive, you've ample opportunity for direct contact and muttered murmurs -- feeling the bloom of your essence's influence branching out as the broad and hairy man sways, rope faintly creaking above. A sparing use of your ritual, for now -- but enough, you hope, to keep him from more immediate alarm and drawing unwanted attention too soon.

With that, you dismiss the shroud of slumber from the man, watching through your mask as he stirs groggily from his stupor with a guttural sound. He mutters something you don't quite recognize in searching your knowledge of the 'trade tongue' most commonly favored in the realms of man, but from the look on his face, he appears duly confused and uncertain what to make of the visage before him. Squirming, he tests at his bonds; your rope work suffices.

"El sou hwim ca soo cin co soo," you offer initially, expressing an intent to know what he knows "Ol co flep si su shoonncean?" Unsurprisingly, he appears baffled by your own tongue. You clear your throat, seeking to enunciate for him in a more familiar fashion. "Yow are in the difficult state, but I cahn help with these things..." Better -- understanding registers, though his brow knits in clear consternation. Though your accented trade is not quite fluent, he mutters a gruff acknowledgement before nodding, upside-down as he is. His name, you glean, is 'Rolph.'
>>
No. 1011539 ID: 673fe6
File 163254972641.jpg - (167.36KB , 750x300 , soj_014.jpg )
1011539

Between your ensorcellment, his lingering libations and the man's predicament, Rolph proves fortunately and fortuitously forthcoming enough as you proceed to probe him for a better understanding of the situation. By his word, those who remain in the camp had been left to secure passage for messengers or supplies across the border, while most of their number were to hold the city beyond as a limited garrison; one hundred were left to this task.

Ahead, an army has ventured deeper into the KHANATE, seemingly accompanied by 'great heroes' if Rolph is to be believed and trailed by a supply chain. However, Rolph indicates that the supply chains dwindled, until it had been weeks without relief; he speaks of 'dishonoring the ancestors' -- harsh treatment grew as the occupying force became more demanding, until it had apparently come to a head. Recently, Rolph claims that nearly everyone who had remained in the city had somehow gone in the night, including the remaining leadership among the SARKEN.

In the ensuing days, Rolph asserts that more of their number have 'vanished' into the night -- you're not entirely clear on whether he means desertion or disappearances, beyond his insistence that behavior has grown worse. Those who remain have been looting what has been left behind and that there is talk of abandoning this place once they have finished; he claims that he has refused to do so himself, and that the 'ancestors' would not forgive for such behavior.

All told, twelve others remain in the camp outside the city walls and another eighteen have remained in the city itself -- but most of them have not been seen for days; he knows only that they had boasted opening the way into the 'HALL OF LORDS' where allegedly hidden riches and RELICS were interred.

You have managed to gain a better understanding of the situation from Rolph, who has proven cooperative.

Currently, you have a few important decisions to make...

>1) What do you want to do with Rolph now?
Bearing in mind that you've currently used your rope tying him up, he is otherwise presently at your mercy and affected by your witchcraft.

>2) How do you want to deal with the camp, if at all?
Whether attempting to sneak around or openly engage the SARKEN there, you may yet be able to find useful supplies or valuables at some risk. It is possible that you could avoid the camp entirely, if you so choose.

>3) If you proceed directly to the city instead...
How do you want to approach it? Its grand gates are wide open, and may be unguarded; you could also seek to scale the battlements -- the walls are high, though crumbling in places and largely unmanned. Or another approach entirely?
>>
No. 1011540 ID: 8483cf

Open engagement is silly. Let's see if we can figure out if it's desertion, or something else poaching their numbers- and if the enemy of our enemy is our friend.

Also, we should put Rolph to sleep (but not upside-down).
>>
No. 1011546 ID: c92a02

Untie him and set him loose into the woods, to eventually wake from his stupor lost and confused. Head directly for the city and scale the walls.
>>
No. 1011569 ID: 3328c7

Tell him to remember this dream well,, and that to keep an eye out for the white rabbit, as she brings aid to those in need.

Then make him sleep again and leave him back in the camp, before moving on to explore the city.
>>
No. 1011668 ID: 9c850e

1) ROLPH
Leave him tied here while you investigate the camp. If you proceed to the city, DON'T leave him tied up, but wait to let him go until you have searched the area. BIND HIS MOUTH so he cannot reveal your location.

2) CAMP
Investigate the camp more closely. Attempt to scare these oafs away using your most dramatic witchcraft. If that succeeds, see if there is any more loot available.

3) CITY
See if you can glean something useful from the camp before proceeding to the city.
>>
No. 1011678 ID: f610a0

ROLPH: Put him to sleep and drench his shirt with alcohol to make him just look like an untrustworthy drunkard.
CAMP: Work our way around the camp stealthily, keeping an eye open for any valuable targets of opportunity while declining direct engagement.
CITY: Once past the camp, find a sturdy-looking unmanned section of wall and prepare to climb.
>>
No. 1011713 ID: 673fe6
File 163272196329.jpg - (188.96KB , 750x300 , soj_015.jpg )
1011713

Rolph has proved useful, though you've finished with him here; with a ginger flourish you mutter an incantation -- speaking to him then in a lilting tone as slumber and spell begin to wreath over his senses once more. "Remember this dream." You chime. "Seek the rabbit white, thee aid will come."

Once his eyes have slipped shut and you are confident he is fast asleep, you go about the business of letting the fellow down from his hanging place and reclaim your rope. Drench? You consider your available alcohol. A dousing of just a splash of your precious brandy is a considerable gift, but you commit it to his shirt in service of misdirection...

Stowing your rope -- already contemplating ascending the walls to make your way into the city beyond -- you stalk back through the foliage and make your way back to the campsite.
>>
No. 1011714 ID: 673fe6
File 163272203458.jpg - (101.62KB , 750x300 , soj_016.jpg )
1011714

While the city beckons, there is a part of your mind that draws your attention still to the camp; with a better notion of just how many count among its scattered tents and guttering firepits, you move with deft, quiet footfalls to maneuver among the blind spots the tents can lend you. Your senses are more limited with mask and hood, but stealth remains at the forefront of your focus.

You're able to listen in on two of the men for a time as you remain out of sight; it would seem that in the span of your questioning of Rolph, the figure with the silver sword had encouraged others to accompany him back into the city before returning, himself.

Seemingly, the men in the city have been harangued by some 'elusive cur' that they have, as of yet, been unable to successfully confront; they complain of cowardice and injury, with growing desperation. There is uncertainty in those who remain -- something about dwindled supplies in the camp, but a wariness of 'losing their way' in the night if they attempt to leave.

Debating bringing your witchcraft to bear, you're unclear on a best means to frighten the oafs with your present repertoire -- but the thought has given you INSPIRATION to study deeper in your grimoire when next you rest. Creeping about, you attempt to spy a central reserve of alcohol and rations -- concluding that both must be tucked away inside one of the remaining tents, however much there is.

You feel that you have gleaned much as you are likely in a reasonable time from those who remain without exposing yourself further -- but before you slink out for the city walls, there is yet one opportunity of interest...

You've been INSPIRED for developing additional witchcraft when next you have a chance to rest and spend time to yourself.
>>
No. 1011715 ID: 673fe6
File 163272205696.jpg - (162.57KB , 750x300 , soj_017_chestday.jpg )
1011715

Carefully screening your surroundings for any onlookers or passerby, you make your way successfully to a collection of goods and valuables the men have laid out over a broad mat beside the more muddy footpath. Set beside one of the larger tents your eyes sweep over a variety of objects, containers and equipment gathered together and left, at least for now, outside of the tents.

Not everything could fit within even your magically imbued bag and lingering too long bears the risk of discovery, but nevertheless you've given yourself an opportunity to abscond with some of what you can only presume to be ill-gotten gains from the SARKEN men.

Quite a smorgasbord of things here to pick over, with a large, heavy chest securely locked on the far end. There are several smaller containers of different weights, lengths and sizes, as well as several sacks and pouches. A bundle of silk has been piled up beside a quiver of arrows.

There is a smaller lockbox, a goblet and what you recognize to be a holy symbol for SEHRAZAT. Some coinage, daggers, a gemstone, pearls and ornate bronze plates with different scenes and images on them. Additionally, a small shield or buckler, a helmet for creatures with much smaller ears, a ring and some gloves.


What do you examine or take, and how far are you willing to push your luck?

...>_
>>
No. 1011716 ID: 8483cf

Thank our lucky stars for making it in undetected. Stealth is awesome!

Gemstone and pearls for sure. Silk too. Value/weight ratio is great!

Has the lockbox been opened? Do we feel lucky in being able to get it open ourselves?

Leave the armor and weapons, we're fine as is.
>>
No. 1011717 ID: e51896

got tools to pick the lock of the chest? if so, spend time doing that before deciding on taking anything

otherwise, ring, gloves, goblet, and coinage.
>>
No. 1011718 ID: c92a02

Cool sword! Take that, the ring and gloves. Then scamper!
>>
No. 1011719 ID: 96c896

>>1011715
Spend as little time as possible standing over the loot. This means no opening containers, and not trying to carry off anything too big.

Objects of priority:
gemstone
holy symbol
lockbox (open it later)
pearls
>>
No. 1011721 ID: 673fe6

>>1011716

The smaller lock box has not been opened yet, but it does seem to be locked currently.

>>1011717

You are carrying your personal set of thieves' tools among your belongings, facilitating picking locks or disabling devices.

Both the smaller lock box and the chest seem locked; the largest chest seems to have a more elaborate and hefty lock on it.

There are signs that someone attempted to force it open, but they have not gone far enough to outright bash their way fully through the exterior of the chest yet.
>>
No. 1011739 ID: 1ee277

>>1011715
>>1011721
It's a tender balance: the value:weight ratio is operating on the assumption that there remain bastions of civilization where such rarities will remain desirable outside their practical stores of value. While they are light weight and can be very useful for trading, the opposite is true of the practicum in that they are large, heavy, difficult to conceal and likely outside your skillset.

However, the risk of trying to pick locks in the open could be well worth it. They obviously haven't made efforts to break the strongboxes, or at least not successful ones, and their origin is unknown. Depending on the size of the city, the contents may be important to the KHANATE and could prove useful later. If anything, stow the small box in your bag for later practice and try your hand at the larger box now.
>>
No. 1011764 ID: b6986d

>>1011715
Take anything small that can fit in your bag, and then have a go at opening the chest. Don't suppose we have a spell to pop it open?
>>
No. 1011783 ID: 094652

Grab the daggers, jewelry, gold, silk, and arrows, then scamper. Don't fleece too much or they'll pursue you.
>>
No. 1011864 ID: f610a0

I will throw a vote in for 'no lockbox picking, it'll take too long' and taking the lightweight stuff and scarpering; I will however specify that I think we really should take the holy symbol with us and not just the obvious riches, just in case.
>>
No. 1011913 ID: 673fe6
File 163289676786.jpg - (211.67KB , 750x300 , soj_018.jpg )
1011913

After a quick assessment of what lay before you, you swiftly settle into a low crouch and loosen the flap to your bag -- hands darting to deftly snatch up some of the more valuable or immediately useful articles on display. First you scoop up the ring and pearls, careful not to snap the band tucked beneath a heavy sack; the gemstone, a satisfying heft to it in your palm as you shift it atop the silk with one hand, the other grabbing the holy symbol, just in case.

You seize coins in a small fistful, a few errant offerings escaping between your fingers, focus divided to sidelong glances to make certain you've remained undiscovered; the goblet gets tossed against the gloves already resting atop the soft fabric before you gather it up into a bundle, easing the swaddled goods into the broad opening of you bag before it slims again as its enchantment does its work.

Time of the essence, you weigh your remaining options quickly, but carefully -- abscond with too much and it would be all the more obvious, or potentially prompt a more earnest pursuit of whatever thief had visited the camp. Shying away from the helmet, buckler and heavier sacks, you pass over the bronze plates and wooden cases in kind -- but quickly stow the pair of daggers into your bag, then heft the smaller lockbox with a flex of your forearm, feeling its contents jostle mysteriously.

A brief pause, and then you stuff the smaller lockbox into your bag -- feeling it occupy a more significant portion of the magical compartment, about half full you wager. Thoughts flit to the arrows and sword, both longer and more cumbersome by contrast, before you set your sights on the larger chest. No magic for this sort of thing, not yet at least -- but your skill at more delicate handiwork is not insubstantial. You still probably shouldn't...
>>
No. 1011915 ID: 673fe6
File 163289703511.jpg - (118.25KB , 450x300 , soj_019.jpg )
1011915

Out comes your kit, gingerly loosening its tether as you unfurl the leather spread of picks, rods and implements; taking another moment to listen intently, catching the faint squelch of mud from footfalls somewhat nearer to your vicinity, pulse quickening. It relents, trailing into one of the tents instead -- and in the quiet thereafter, you swiftly set to work attempting to defeat the sizable lock.

Nimble fingers working with practiced efficacy and a dash of adrenaline pumping through your veins, you work the tool to dance among the lock's mechanism in a succession of probes and tested tension until you arrive at a satisfying click. You angle your wrist to pop the lock open without scraping or knocking the iron unduly -- then ease it away, thumbs sweeping as you leverage the latch and heave the lid to the chest open enough for a peek at its contents.

Layered on top of the contents is a thick white cloth which you pull away, setting aside where the silk had lain -- before your brows rise as you lay eyes on the contents of the chest beneath. A long, thick case, suitable for parchment or scrolls, along with a weighty medallion, a sizable chunk of a light blue crystal resembling topaz and finally a peculiar implement with a cord-wrapped handle and metal prongs.

Your ears prick beneath your hood to stirring sounds -- you'd best be quick.

A bit of a narrow call with some of the split on trying your luck at the larger chest, but fortune favored the bold this time insofar as your skill with the picks proved out. No time for gawking now though -- you've made it boldly off sneakiness this far.

What is your immediate instinct with the contents of the chest before you seek to make yourself scarce?

...>_
>>
No. 1011916 ID: 96c896

>>1011915
If you're trying to escape notice you shouldn't take all of the contents. Take half.

Priority:
keysword
scroll
crystal
pendant
>>
No. 1011917 ID: 1ee277

>>1011915
The key and the crystal take priority, the scroll case and pendant can be left.
>>
No. 1011929 ID: b6986d

>>1011915
Take EVERYTHING, put it all in your bag. The key first, pendant second, then crystal, then scroll case.

Then if you still have time, put the cloth back how you found it and close the chest.
>>
No. 1011933 ID: 094652

>>1011915
Now that you've opened the chest, they're going to know they're dealing with a rogue. May as well take all four items. Do not stick around to look for hidden compartments, because once again, they'll hound you if you fleece them.

The sword-key comes first. You know this is either a funny prank or the key to something very important. Either way, the hilt should be worth a pretty penny.
The pendant is easy to carry.
The scroll has information.
Finally, if you can, the crystal. It might be worth the most food to an immediate trader but that is what the guards need right now.
>>
No. 1011946 ID: ec632b

Take the key-sword and leg it!
>>
No. 1012060 ID: 673fe6
File 163303516663.jpg - (163.82KB , 750x300 , soj_020.jpg )
1012060

Working deftly, you gather up the peculiar implement -- presumably a key of some sort -- and tuck it away in your bag, next seizing upon the scroll container, fingertips brushing over a smooth stoppered end. As you shove the cylindrical case into your bag, you can hear movement drawing closer to your position, pulse quickening. Nimble digits darting, you snatch up the pendant by its chain and shove it into your bag before easing the lid of the chest back closed. Replacing the lock, you hear a voice carrying nearer -- time to flee, lest you risk discovery.

On nimble footing you move, quickly and quietly to depart from the camp, maneuvering quickly among the periphery tents to obfuscate your presence as best as you're able -- hearing the belated arrival of someone at the spread haul in your wake. You make for the city wall, veering to avoid the main gate until you tuck yourself low beside the foundation of the fortifications. There, you pause for a time further in caution -- but when no SARKEN appear in your pursuit, you still your heart and prepare for a climb.

INVENTORY Updated. You have gained:
> Gold Ring
> Pearl Necklace
> Gemstone
> Holy Symbol of SEHRAZAT
> 28 gold coins, 17 silver coins
> Carved Goblet
> Leather Gloves
> Silk Fabric
> 2x Dagger
> Small Lockbox
> Key-Like Implement
> Wooden Scroll Case
> Bronze Medallion Pendant
>>
No. 1012061 ID: 673fe6
File 163303528633.jpg - (167.32KB , 300x750 , soj_021.jpg )
1012061

High battlements prove for a challenging throw for your grappling hook -- requiring a few attempts before you finally hook a secure, stable anchor; after testing the line and re-checking your stowed belongings, you begin the steady ascent of the fortifications, feeling a faint burgeoning burn in your hamstrings and arms as you advance. Climbing towards the PALL above fills the pit of your stomach with an uneasy flutter, as if even so 'slight' a move of proximity could bear ill portents; nevertheless, you pace yourself and steel your resolve, continuing onward.

A stiff wind buffets over the old stone of the wall beneath your sandals, billowing your cloak and skirt as you brace yourself against the bluster -- hood slipping back as your hair and ears are freed in a moment of almost disorienting sensation. Steady now. Looping your forearm to further secure your grip, you flex your form lower and steady your position until the gust subsides. Faintly, the creak of leather straps reaches your ears, working to hasten up the last span of the wall.

As you reach the rampart battlements, you haul your head high to peer at the vicinity, taking pause to search out any possible sentries; finding the wall-top vacant, you waste little time kipping up and hooking a leg over the top, pulling yourself onto the comforting reprieve of a solid, stable surface once more. Pulling your rope up behind you, you lay back against the cool stones and feel a palpable wave of relief.
>>
No. 1012062 ID: 673fe6
File 163303537877.jpg - (421.19KB , 750x750 , soj_022.jpg )
1012062

For a few long moments you lay there catching your breath and steadying your nerves, before gradually pushing yourself up to a low crouch and taking stock of your surroundings. There are signs here of a siege--broken and crumbled stonework in places, patches of scattered scorch marks and overturned braziers -- along with signs of dried, congealed blood in one span. No bodies, however, nor further remnant sign of their passing.

Searching further, there are sconces for torches, along with other low braziers to provide light further down the span; as far as you can tell, no one has manned the wall-top recently. Westward, further down the wall, you have access to the main gatehouse -- presuming you can make passage beyond an iron-reinforced door to the wall-top; the gatehouse appears to be a formidable fortification in its own right.

Opposite and much closer to your position is a doorway into a narrow tower -- though its top appears to have been sheared off by some manner of siege artillery and its upper reaches have partly collapsed. Here, the doorway is partly ajar, a faint scent of timbers and dust wafting free of the gap. You may be able to leverage it open further, or squeeze yourself inside.

Peering back over the parapets whence you came, you check on the camp; it's difficult to tell from such a distance, but you can see some of the men there moving about with more purpose than they had before -- though that may be, in part, because evening approaches, with whatever else that entails.

At last, you turn your attention inward, cautiously peeking past the cover of the wall-top to gaze on the city below. There, you spy a dizzying sprawl of urban structures, sizable in their construction with a great deal of stone and timbers. Many appear to have had their doors staved open or windows shattered, while others deeper in the city smolder from prior fires, or lay in collapse from the fall of siege works which had cleared the walls.

Among the streets and alleys below, you can glimpse a handful of the SARKEN within the city itself, many seeming to have congregated near the vicinity of the main gate itself and the thoroughfare beyond. A dark gloom hangs over the recesses of cramped and winding spaces between buildings and among the alleyways -- and refuse, offal and detritus has been scattered in many places.

Off in the distance, nearer to the heart of the city, a gap in the PALL has lent a column of light over the center of an elaborate ring of pillars and stonework; raised stone dais and broad steps, flanked by braziers, lead to a grand looking stone structure capped with a trio of statues, figures rendered in prolific scale. This, you conclude, must be the HALL OF LORDS Rolph had spoken of.

You decide to...

> A) Make your way to the gatehouse to seek entry, contending with the SARKEN there.
> B) Make your way into the nearby tower, to explore its inner reaches.
> C) Make your way back over the rampart, lowering yourself to the streets below by rope.
> D) _

You are INSPIRED, and can develop yourself further when next you have a chance to rest and spend time to yourself.
>>
No. 1012065 ID: 2aef11

A. The gatehouse will is where the action is, and the more we can learn about what is going on (and what's passing through) the better. Plus it gives us practice breaking in, and potential to leave ot find a backdoor for if we need one in an emergency.
>>
No. 1012067 ID: 9a2966

>>1012065
Sounds good.
>>
No. 1012228 ID: 56d49d

I think the tower would be a good place to rest, and it does seem safer than the other places.
>>
No. 1012230 ID: 9c850e

>>1012062
I vote C, since it looks to be the most furtive. You have been so meticulous about not being spotted in the camp and subduing Rolph before he could report you.

>>1012061
Plus, you demonstrated already that you are a decent rappeller/abseiler

Why reveal yourself on purpose?
>>
No. 1012234 ID: e51896

Agreed with c, we're stealthy after all
>>
No. 1012235 ID: bc11b8

C
>>
No. 1012254 ID: 673fe6
File 163322725054.jpg - (336.01KB , 450x750 , soj_023.jpg )
1012254

You consider making headway into the gatehouse and encountering the SARKEN gathered there, but decide to retain your advantage for now; readying your rope for a descent, you cinch it such that you can retrieve it once you're down. After taking a moment to check and secure you belongings, you leverage yourself over the edge of the ramparts and begin to lower yourself down -- a more swift undertaking than your prior climb. With deft kips and flexes you spring your way expertly down to the city streets below and leaving the high ground behind.
>>
No. 1012255 ID: 673fe6
File 163322732207.jpg - (202.57KB , 750x300 , soj_024.jpg )
1012255

Once you're on the ground, you take quick stock of your surroundings before darting past the precipice of the outermost buildings, navigating your way onto a broader side street which curves further into the city; as you had gathered from the ramparts, there is an eerie absence of the inhabitants you would otherwise expect in so prodigious a settlement of towering stone such as this.

Light on your feet, you push onward -- wary at the way your hood muffles your keener hearing with so many blind spots and hiding places to be aware of. Darkened and shuttered windows are nearly everywhere you look, both at street level and above -- while numerous alleyways offer egress and doorways loom with the prospect of plying their interiors. Faintly, voices carry from streets away from your own where figures glimpsed from the wall top still congregate.

With the span of this place, you could easily lose yourself for days if you're not careful -- and it is uncertain what may be found among its reaches. While the PALL oft casts its gloom over the lands beneath it, nightfall will surely deepen the shadows here further -- though you can glimpse the occasional street lamp illuminating pockets of the city.

Of greatest note yet is the HALL OF LORDS, where allegedly hidden riches and RELICS were interred which could prove invaluable for your journey -- and you recall mention of an unknown entity or individual haranguing the remaining SARKEN in the city as well.

You decide to...

> A) Begin seeking entry to building interiors, to search for useful supplies or a more secure place to rest for the night.
> B) Navigate the more narrow alleyways of the city, restricting your maneuvering but lending yourself more opportunities to avoid notice.
> C) Follow the broader streets, affording yourself more opportunity for discovery at a greater risk of discovery yourself.
> D) _

Separate and in addition to the above choices, it's up to you if you'd like to try to utilize the night to your advantage for greater cover of darkness -- but bear in mind Rolph's mentions of strange occurrences after nightfall.
>>
No. 1012256 ID: 8483cf

B. We have enough supplies for now, and fewer opportunities for us to move also means fewer angles to keep track of.
>>
No. 1012257 ID: e51896

A. We probably should look for supplies, and rest up for tomorrow, we did walk a long way to get here after all, we might get too tired to continue on, especially if we get spotted by an enemy. time to rest.
>>
No. 1012260 ID: e51896

Actually, changing my vote to B. we might have already been spotted by someone here >>1012254, so we should probably quickly make some distance from this place before we retire for the night
>>
No. 1012262 ID: 96c896

B, and see if you can find a secure location somewhere. You have to at least examine the loot you just got.
>>
No. 1012310 ID: 1ee277

>>1012255
A is the most viable option especially considering the habits of SARKEN looting toward treasures and relatively intact nature of the city. Further, if would allow for any spotting from scaling and descending the walls to blow over and bring them into a tizzy that would ultimately make any roving patrols more disparate and tired. Even if only for a small while a rest would do us good and give us a tenable position to hold for a time.
>>
No. 1012313 ID: b6986d

>>1012062
> B) Make your way into the nearby tower, to explore its inner reaches.
Maybe we can find some unlooted goodies, or someone off on their own we can interrogate. And if neither of those, it should be a good place to rest.
>>
No. 1012390 ID: 9c850e

>>1012255
voting for 🅱

This continues the stealth path. Are you able to cover up more to "blend in" with passing citygoers? Rather than hiding from view, you could go bundercover
>>
No. 1012458 ID: 673fe6
File 163346623132.jpg - (196.56KB , 450x600 , soj_025.jpg )
1012458

Erring on the side of caution, you take to the more narrow and darkened alleyways as you begin to navigate your way deeper into the city, softly padding over cobbled stone and hard-packed earth as you go. An eerie quiet hangs over your surroundings as once populous streets lay largely vacant and empty; though there are few signs of the remaining inhabitants or their SARKEN occupiers, you nevertheless cinch your cloak tight and your hood low -- keen to keep your identity obscure, should you encounter any passerby.

Most of the buildings you surmise to be dwellings of a more closely clustered community -- and though the architecture here looms high with stone masonry and roof tiles of fired clay, you can draw a sense of familiarity with the barrow homes you were raised among as a child. Passing beneath archways, your sandals lend quiet footfalls as you peer past darkened and shuttered windows, seeking to surmise the interiors beyond.

Despite the sacking of the city, you find surprisingly few signs of forced entry as you trail among entryways in the alleys; it is often difficult to discern what lies within a given space, in part due to the limitations your mask imposes on your senses -- but most are unlit as well. Still, you glimpse the occasional windows whose shutters afford a dull gleam, suggesting some still dwell within the city in spite of Rolph's foreboding tales. You take care to avoid lingering unduly where such vantages could observe you, for now.

At last, you come upon the stooped doorway to a promising building to stow yourself for the evening -- catching the faint but enticing scent of bread. Away from the sounds of more regular patrols and with no signs of active neighbors, as long as you keep a low profile and control your lighting you believe it will suffice to avoid detection while you rest. Slipping your tools to the ready, you work at the lock for a few deft moments before gaining entry, swiftly moving inside before you close and lock the way behind yourself.

Within, it is a narrow span nestled between buildings and sharing common walls. On the lower level you find the signs of a bakery, peering into the dark and cramped space of its kitchen and a broad stone oven -- long since cooled. There are sacks of flour among other ingredients, and though you find a few scarce remnants of the bakery's inventory, a cursory sampling finds it to be stale. Edible still in a pinch, though not your first preference.

Past a service counter there is a broad front window, presently shrouded by heavy curtains; you take a peek past the narrow part at the center and spy a continuation of a thoroughfare where more regular foot traffic would pass. No signs of passerby. Content with the privacy it provides for now, you take the time to check that the lower level is locked and secure at the front as well, before making your way up a narrow set of stairs to the upper level, boards creaking faintly underfoot as you ascend...
>>
No. 1012459 ID: 673fe6
File 163346640534.jpg - (286.50KB , 450x650 , soj_026.jpg )
1012459

Brushing past a crumbling patch of wall, you reach a short, tight hall -- finding three small rooms: a bedroom, a cluttered bath and a niche alcove which appears to be a shrine for offerings and prayers to SEHRAZAT and other deities. As below, so above -- you check to make sure the windows are latched, shuttered and secured before settling in.

Satisfied, you elect to get situated in the bedroom for the evening, at last shedding your mask, cloak and travel gear beside a surprisingly well-appointed bed -- it even has a stuffed mattress and pillows! You strip down from your attire and proceed to get more comfortable, contemplating how you wish to spend the evening's respite and make preparations for further exploring on the morrow...

* * * * * * * * *

After a bit of adventuring, some closer calls and exploring your capabilities, we've reached our first bit of downtime where you are also INSPIRED! Occasionally you will be able to further develop and expand your adventuring ability in a variety of directions, partly informed by the sorts of choices you've made in encountering and overcoming obstacles. As with many things, the more Kaia puts different skills and abilities to use, the more you can improve them.

With your currently inspiration, you can STUDY the Bramble Grimoire to discover new cantrips or rituals to pick from. These picks will be included alongside the results of your chosen downtime activities. Note: this does not count against the below picks!

Whenever you have a chance to take a 'proper' rest, you'll have an opportunity to examine and review anything you've collected along the way, use any of your supplies, attend to your equipment, etc.; there's a lot that Kaia can do during these opportunities, but limited time, resources and the like -- so it's up to you to decide together where you'd like to focus your efforts.

You won't generally have to worry about the 'essentials' as long as you've still got supplies and an appropriate place to rest (so e.g. eating is 'free' unless you'd specially like to skip it / ration yourself.)

* * * * * * * * *

During your downtime, you decide to...

(Pick three, in order of priority):

> A) Attempt to open the small lock-box and examine its contents
> B) Attempt to open the scroll case and examine its contents
> C) Attempt to sooth-say about _____ (write-in responses, seeking weal / woe insights)
> D) Relax & recuperate (enjoy luxury supplies / creature comforts)
> E) FORAGE for supplies or reagents in your surroundings.
> F) Pray for favor & guidance (To Khasma, or another deity if you so choose.)
> G) STUDY Logenthal's Lines for Lagomorphs and practice your 'trade tongue'
> H) __ (write-in activity not covered by the above.)

You are uninjured, and none of your belongings have been damaged, so there is no need / option to MEND.
You do not currently have spare arcane materials, so there is no option to ENCHANT.
>>
No. 1012462 ID: b320b1

Study the Bramble Grimoire. Maybe you can learn an invisibility cantrip or ritual to make you invisible for a certain amount of time to help with stealth. (Probably one of the drawbacks is that it only works on living things like yourself, not on objects like clothing...)

And lets do A, open that box!
>>
No. 1012463 ID: 96c896

>>1012459
STUDY the grimoire. Seems like that's all we can do atm with the inspiration.

A, B, F.
>>
No. 1012464 ID: a3b25e

>>1012462
Forgot we got three

To add on to my choice of A from my previous post, B: open scroll case, and D: relax (you know what to do ;) )
>>
No. 1012467 ID: 673fe6
File 163347089781.jpg - (195.31KB , 550x350 , soj_disctome.jpg )
1012467

Quick addendum / clarification:

STUDY of the grimoire is in addition to / a free pick an activity, and I'll further note (because frankly it's a fine idea) you can submit a suggestion for a possible cantrip / ritual to pick from in the next follow-up. I have a pool I'll be drawing from, but may also include some choice suggestions as options as well.

I'd also planned to give an opportunity to direct additional growth from your inspiration, there was just already a lot there to digest in one post; as I don't want folks to think that the grimoire alone is your option though, I may as well include this extended bit:

There are other sorts of inspiration Kaia can reach as well as you adventure -- as a buune with strong ties to ESSENCE and its flow, you have the potential to discover and unlock wholly new abilities and expertise along your journey -- some of which may be quite unexpected or potent. Other paths will remain surprises for now, but this is a good place to make note that communing, forming BONDS or finding powerful concentrations of ESSENCE can lead to new branches of growth as well!

So, beyond your STUDY -- you have also been INSPIRED to...

> 1) Pursue the Path of Shrouds, further honing your stealth and subtlety
> 2) Pursue the Path of Thorns, further improving your handling of martial combat
> 3) Pursue the Path of Stars, further attuning yourself to occultism and sooth-saying
> 4) Pursue the Path of Roots, further developing your form for acrobatics and athletics

Note: available paths may fluctuate / lead to new discoveries / close along the way.

To recap - please pick three downtime activities in order of preference / priority, and one inspiration; you can also optionally suggest a cantrip or ritual, which may or may not end up in the selections available when we see the results next!
>>
No. 1012469 ID: c92a02

Thorns cantrip (or ritual). Pick the lockbox, the scroll, and forage for cool stuff.
>>
No. 1012470 ID: 96c896

I'm gonna say 4. If things go tits up, the best backup plan is running away.
>>
No. 1012488 ID: 094652

Path of Shrouds - you're currently alone, so you need to focus on stealth until you can form an adventuring party. Stealth is also great for scouting ahead and stealing from the strong-yet-stupid.
>>
No. 1012492 ID: bc1608

Path of Shrouds
>>
No. 1012494 ID: 92c1dc

Path of Stars seems like the wise choice. It seems as if our magical gifts are the most useful tools we have at our disposal, and making them more powerful would be a great boon.
>>
No. 1012497 ID: b6986d

>>1012459
Study the BRAMBLE GRIMOIRE and learn a matchstick spell!
> F) Pray for favor & guidance (To Khasma)
> C) Attempt to sooth-say about traps or danger in the lockbox
> A) Attempt to open the small lock-box and examine its contents
>>
No. 1012498 ID: 92c1dc

> C) Attempt to sooth-say about traps or danger in the lockbox
> A) Attempt to open the small lock-box and examine its contents
> G) STUDY Logenthal's Lines for Lagomorphs and practice your 'trade tongue'

I think that we should probably want to open this box, but we could be smart about it. If there is anything worth selling in it, I think practicing the trade tongue would be beneficial!
>>
No. 1012508 ID: f8fa51

B) Scroll Case
E) Forage
A) Lockbox

Path of Shrouds
>>
No. 1012519 ID: f610a0

My votes: A, G, F in that order, and study the Path of Stars. I agree that magic is our best play but I want to keep balance between that and our athleticism; we wanted to be dual-role rollin' so let's keep to that!
>>
No. 1012608 ID: 9c850e

>>1012459
D > G > B

>>1012467
Path of Shrouds
>>
No. 1012630 ID: e0aaa8

Path of Roots.
Gotta unlock those sex positions.
>>
No. 1012636 ID: 094652

EGAd!
>>
No. 1012643 ID: c4817a

A B F sounds nice to me.
And the path of shrouds has taken us this far, so let's keep at it.
>>
No. 1012680 ID: 673fe6
File 163382056121.jpg - (138.49KB , 350x464 , soj_027.jpg )
1012680

As you consider your options for the evening ahead, you run your fingertips along the hinged lid of the lock-box and peer with some fascination at how snug a seal it has formed. Curiosity brimming, you can scarcely resist the allure of secured containers with mechanisms; you gather up the lock-box and scroll case along with your tools, seating yourself on the edge of the bed and pulling the small table at its side to use as a workspace.

Before you begin, you take a moment to center yourself and focus on the faint brush of essence threaded around your vicinity; retrieving a pinch of herbs from your reagents, you tuck them into your mouth and lightly chew, closing your eyes and steadying yourself with slow, deep breaths: attempting to search the nudges of fate. Weal... and woe. A vexing result, but not entirely unexpected -- you elect to proceed with caution.

Setting out the lock box and gathering up your tools, you go to work. Carefully, you probe about the conspicuously larger top to the keyhole as you feel out the pins of the lock -- pausing in hesitancy before you begin to test them; with a deft, gradual twist you find a secondary mechanism occupying the space. Woe indeed. Angling the box to one side, you swap tools and tease at the mechanism to better visualize it in your mind's eye -- and with a distinct, satisfying click you cinch it.
>>
No. 1012681 ID: 673fe6
File 163382057360.jpg - (207.61KB , 450x450 , soj_028.jpg )
1012681

Satisfied that you have disabled the trap, your handiwork is swift and practiced as you move on to the lock itself -- defeating it after a short span once it is safe. You open the lock box, discovering an exceptional find secured within: a roughly egg-shaped object four inches long, fashioned from smoothly polished kalatite crystal and secured with golden caps. With your knowledge of arcane and the occult, you recognize it to be a VESSEL for ESSENCE -- capable of containing and storing a substantial quantity of such, whatever the source, and making it available for later use.

You can feel a twinge in the pit of your stomach as you run your fingers along its polished surface, seeing faint glimmers of light shimmer and fade from your presence; it is warm to the touch and faintly, you can feel it tugging at your own spirit -- albeit fruitlessly with your present self-control. This is quite a find, though also a somewhat troubling one as it suggests a knowledge of essence weaving among the realms of man.

From what you can discern, there is a faint store of spiritual essence within the vessel already.

You have gained:
> Soul Vessel

With this object, you can potentially store spiritual essence or 'soul' energy from whatever sources you may discover; stored energy can be consumed to significantly augment your arcane abilities, to imbue items with magical properties, or as a means of containing spirits divorced of their own mortal or immortal vessels. You may draw your own implications from this.
>>
No. 1012682 ID: 673fe6
File 163382058583.jpg - (196.03KB , 450x450 , soj_029.jpg )
1012682

Stowing the vessel for the time being, you turn your attentions to the scroll case next -- its stoppered ends proving slightly more elaborate than a more straightforward removal; after puzzling out twists and pressure while listening with your keen ears, you are able to determine the correct motion to open the case and retrieve bundled parchment from within. Numerous written documents have been secured within the case, but regrettably they are written in a script you do not presently understand; there are, however, several diagrams included among the writings, some of which you glean to be the designs for intricate traps of a large scale for securing passageways and chambers.

Returning the scrolls to their container and stowing it in turn, you tidy up your belongings and haul before settling in for more lengthy study with your remaining hours. You capitalize on your inspiration to delve deeper into the Bramble Grimoire in poring over extended ritual-work, committing the incantations and foci for reflection while you dream -- and then finish out the evening nibbling rations as you pore over SARKEN segments of your translation guide to better foster your communication.
>>
No. 1012683 ID: 673fe6
File 163382059656.jpg - (246.45KB , 750x350 , soj_030.jpg )
1012683

When at last you settle in for slumber, sleep takes you swiftly after the long day's affairs -- ferried off to the depths of your own starry subconscious. There, inspiration helps to guide you as you reflect on your experiences, invigorating your core with the inklings of ancestry and more primordial ebbs and flows. Collectively, this helps you to focus your subconscious to better bolster your conscious expertise.

Your have set your current primary focus to the Path of Shadows, with lesser foci in Stars and Roots.

You have learned a new cantrip:
> KINDLE - Focus your touch or elicit heat with a snap of your fingers and produce a small flame, comparable to a matchstick while concentrating.

You may learn one new ritual:
> A) PHANTASM - Conjure an illusory figment in an attempt to frighten or vex observers with visual and auditory elements. Magnitude and convincing efficacy are dependent on time and reagents invested in preparation, while more detailed or specific phantasms are more difficult to pull off. Interacting directly with a phantasm can allow beings to realize its farce.

> B) SHROUD - Cover yourself in an illusory shroud which provides misdirection for your presence, bending light with a faint shimmer to render yourself nearly invisible. Potent augment for particularly focused stealth, though fast or rigorous movement can hinder its efficacy. Duration dependent on concentration and partly fueled by your own essence.

> C) AUGURY - Divination of a more potent magnitude which augments your sooth-saying capabilities, potentially allowing you to commune on subjects in search of portents of futures which may yet be. Can allow you a glimpse of possible outcomes ahead, or to glean sometimes cryptic omens which have yet to transpire.

> D) WARD - Wreath a measure of magical barrier about an individual or object, providing a degree of added protection; subtly turns or lessens blows, diminishes force and offers a modicum of resistance to the supernatural. Magnitude and duration of wards depend on essence and reagents invested in their creation -- can be applied to yourself, others, or objects.
>>
No. 1012684 ID: 673fe6
File 163382060944.jpg - (228.62KB , 750x390 , soj_031.jpg )
1012684

When morning comes, you rouse refreshed and readied; taking advantage of your undisturbed respite, you tidy yourself up and have a good breakfast before donning your gear. Descending from the upper floor of the bakery, you take the time to scrounge around the lower level -- managing to collect a few old baked goods and a container of cinnamon from otherwise threadbare stock.

You have gained:
> 3x Old Baked Goods
> Cinnamon Shaker

Taking stock of the vicinity of the bakery, you see no signs of passerby in the morning -- though you do faintly hear some clamor off to the north. Avoiding the front door, you instead double back into the alleyway before proceeding to follow the narrow pathways further still, arriving at an exit into a broader open square. In the distance, to the northeast you can see light penetrating the PALL still -- a curious anomaly.

Though muffled by your hood, you can also hear what sounds like a commotion off in that same direction beyond what you can currently see; you hear what sounds like a short cheer before it is interrupted by shouting.

Note: Please be sure to also include your vote for the new ritual in addition to your response below!

You decide to...

> 1) Move swiftly and directly, attempting to gain a vantage on what is transpiring with more time to respond to it.
> 2) Follow a more circuitous route, seeking to maximize your position but arrive later.
> 3) _
>>
No. 1012685 ID: e51896

B, shroud, we're in unfamiliar territory, best to have this to spy on others before making major decisions.

1, move swiftly
>>
No. 1012691 ID: 51c10d

I vote B as well. Who needs to know what's coming or not get hit when nothing can see you?

1 as well. Don't want to miss whatever's going on.
>>
No. 1012692 ID: f3efdd

B, for sneaky invisibility fun.

2, circuitous route. Best to make an escape route.

But if we do 1, lets test out our new shroud ritual first to gauge how invisible we'll become, and what parts of us will be invisible. If there are a lot of people over there, there is a large chance someone might turn to see us if we dont use our shroud ritual.
>>
No. 1012705 ID: f610a0

As a veteran D&D player I pick A) because the ways you can apply illusions are infinite and truly sicko. And circuitous route
>>
No. 1012706 ID: 96c896

B, Shroud. Let's lean into our dual-class specialization.

1. Move swiftly.
>>
No. 1012733 ID: b6986d

>>1012684
>Eat a baked goods
If necessary, toast it a bit with our new cantrip to negate the staleness.
>>
No. 1012843 ID: 673fe6
File 163409502871.jpg - (284.56KB , 450x750 , soj_032.jpg )
1012843

Intent on seeking the source of the commotion swiftly, you nevertheless take the time to put to practice your new SHROUD ritual -- focusing your spiritual essence as you gesture and shape the force of your will to coax the incantation into being. Having not seen it put to practice before, you're initially startled as the faint glimmers and shimmers blossom about your belongings and being in rippling waves -- leading to the unexpected and somewhat embarrassing predicament of inadvertently baring portions of yourself beneath garments and gear as they grow more translucent.

In turn, you can feel a prickling sensation as the shroud washes over your form in broadening waves, affording you a chance to see through yourself save for a faint shimmering blur, quite a unique experience on reflection...
>>
No. 1012844 ID: 673fe6
File 163409505355.jpg - (250.23KB , 450x750 , soj_033.jpg )
1012844

Fortunately, the spell completes its wreathing of your figure after only a few moments -- and as far as you're aware, no one witnessed your temporary arcane wardrobe malfunctions this time. You make a mental note to remind yourself that SHROUD's casting and full effect takes some time to complete, helpful to know in future potential predicaments.

As professed, you are not entirely invisible as a result of the magic hiding your presence -- but it certainly will lend itself to making you even more difficult to discern from a distance and liable to amplify your stealth in dim light or near darkness that much more.

You move with haste then towards the source of the commotion, opting for the swiftest and most direct route to seek a better vantage of what is already underway.
>>
No. 1012845 ID: 673fe6
File 163409510178.jpg - (248.54KB , 550x450 , soj_034.jpg )
1012845

Darting deftly among the shadows along the main thoroughfare's buildings and awnings, you maneuver your way to a broad junction of several broader streets; you arrive in time to see six SARKEN men running after a seventh figure in the distance -- most of them with weapons drawn and shouting in clear agitation.

Thanks to brushing up on your translation guide, you're able to readily discern "It's him! Get the bastard!" and "He's fast, don't let him get away!" among a litany of curses.

All you can make out of the pursued figure is a mustard-colored cloak -- and he appears to be quite swift. One of the SARKEN is lightly armed and armored, one of them is heavily armored and the other four wear heavier lamellar and leathers. They do not appear to have noticed your arrival or observation, distracted as they are.

Of interest, the SARKEN have been drawn away from a pair of tall pillars with an overhanging archway leading to similar structures down a more ornately cobbled path. You recognize the path to the HALL OF LORDS from your wall-top vantage.

You decide to...

> 1) Pursue the SARKEN and the mustard-cloaked figure, to see what unfolds and have a chance to get involved.
> 2) Follow the path to the HALL OF LORDS in their absence, a chance to investigate without guards.
> 3) _
>>
No. 1012846 ID: 51c10d

Follow the scene! We've already been granted the powers of not-exactly-invisibility. Sneaking past them again shouldn't pose any issue.
>>
No. 1012847 ID: 8483cf

Hall of Lords! Couldn't have asked for a better distraction.
>>
No. 1012858 ID: 820483

Follow them. As much as getting riches is nice, we can use this opportunity to instead learn more and get an understanding what is going on and who to help and gain an ally, lets not let out invisibility go to waste
>>
No. 1012859 ID: 094652

He'll be fine. Get the loot while you can!
>>
No. 1012864 ID: f57349

Follow, and get your rope ready. All sorts of ways an invisible rope could be used to interfere, and it's a chance to test out the duration. If you go into the hall and start poking at stuff, that risks getting cornered inside when your shroud wears off and the guards come back.
>>
No. 1012866 ID: 1ee277

Given the input of our confidant in Rolph telling us that the SARKEN have been lately harassed by an unknown figure, the relative sanctuary that our cadbury-clad compatriot has provided on the path to the HOUSE OF LORDS and their insistence on defending it, it would be wise to slip inside unnoticed. There must be a reason they linger in this place despite the brigands and the PALL; if you are able to ascertain why and assist them in this moment, you may forge a powerful alliance of them yet. Rogues must stick together!
>>
No. 1012868 ID: b6986d

>>1012845
To the HALL OF LORDS! This is a perfect distraction, and if this is the unknown figure haranguing the SARKEN in the city, it's doubtful they'll catch him now. If we run into him later, we can thank him.
>>
No. 1012921 ID: 673fe6
File 163427244214.jpg - (353.06KB , 750x750 , soj_035_halloflords.jpg )
1012921

Weighing the situation, you consider following the men in their pursuit, that you might intervene -- but reflect that the figure is like as not the one Rolph had mentioned haranguing the SARKEN in the city; if so, perhaps they are elusive enough to avoid capture and combat even still. Instead, you decide to capitalize on the distraction offered while your shrouding magic remains, treading down the cobbled path towards the HALL OF LORDS.

Along the way, you pass beneath stone archways held aloft twixt tall pillars of carved stone, before arriving at a broad central plaza; further pillars stand in a ring connected by further archways, separating the plaza from an encircling pavilion beyond. At the heart of the plaza, broad stone steps lead up twin terraced stone platforms -- the way forward flanked by sizable braziers steeped with ashen embers.

As you ascend the first set of steps and arrive at the base of the second, you turn your gaze skyward and take in the sight of the grand hall's entrance. From above a shaft of light continues to penetrate the PALL beyond, wreathing a faint glow about a trio of towering statues poised overlooking the entrance below -- each depicting a crowned figure you surmise to be a 'lord' by its namesake.

On the left stands a man in heavy armor with an immense kite shield and sword, wearing some manner of lenses over his eyes; at the center, a robed figure supported by a long staff with a bell hung from its hooked top. Lastly, the figure on the right is garbed in a long cloak and holds aloft what appear to be a scepter and sling with a fiery arch between them. You feel as though the statues observe you where you stand; the air feels cold here, but you can still feel slight warmth from the braziers nearby.

Beneath the stone figures and above the entrance lies a broad recessed mural of intricately etched and painted stonework -- though the pain seems to have chipped and faded. A trio of figures stand to the left of the mural, seeming to correspond with the statues above, with a mountainous landscape in the background; on the right of the mural, you see a creature only vaguely resembling a horse made monstrous -- with multitudinous limbs, frightful jaws and a billowing cloud of miasma surging behind it.

Below, flanked by carved pillars in turn, lies the entrance to the HALL OF LORDS: heavy stone doors carved with two of the figures from above hang ajar -- affording access to a darkened span beyond with steps trailing down into the greater structure below the plaza ahead.

Faintly, you can smell the remnants of the SARKEN having lingered here -- and easing your hood, you allow your ears to stand tall to better listen to the path before you. There is a sound, quite faint, reminiscent of wind chimes somewhere in the dark ahead as a breeze filters through the opened entrance.

You still have some of your obscuring magic in effect and neither hear nor see signs of the SARKEN here at this time; you recall from your interrogation of Rolph that the way ahead being opened was an apparently significant and recent development.

INVENTORY as of this post: https://pastebin.com/jCRpvtT0

How do you proceed?

> _

Collectively, you can form a plan of action / approach to proceeding utilizing what you know, what you have, and what you can do according to your suggestions.
>>
No. 1012922 ID: 094652

Light the braziers, set caltrops in the shadow of the entrance, press forward.
>>
No. 1012925 ID: b6986d

>>1012921
Hold the SOUL VESSEL aloft and check for stray magic or spirits it can absorb, before proceeding.
>>
No. 1013092 ID: f6821f

The remains of the responses can be solidified as such: as this is sacred ground, it is best to tread lightly and ensure that those who may yet pursue you do as well. Do both above suggestions in the same order then venture within.
>>
No. 1013165 ID: e51896

try to stay in the shadows if you can, you're not totally invisible
>>
No. 1013290 ID: 51c10d

Lay caltrops at the entrance before descending down the stairs. Hopefully you'll be able to jump them if you need to leave in a hurry!
>>
No. 1013296 ID: 673fe6
File 163478195618.jpg - (361.37KB , 750x750 , soj_036.jpg )
1013296

Reasoning that you tread on what may be sacred ground, you consider the braziers and their dwindling heat; though it would doubtless draw more evident sign of your passage from afar, you decide that lighting the path into the HALL OF LORDS may nevertheless prove fortuitous -- for reasons you can't quite crystallize, it feels right to do so. With the aid of your new KINDLE cantrip and a bit of stoking to coax re-lit embers into flames -- you soon have the braziers brightly lit again, the warmth of their light bolstering your determination.

Next, you turn your thoughts towards more corporeal concerns and rummage in your back for your enormous supply of sharp iron caltrops to sprinkle about the entrance to the hall -- with more to spread along the stairs descending when you proceed, affording you more protection from interlopers who may arrive behind you. While you are commit to memory the presence of this deterrent, you feel confident that others are likely to overlook them in any haste to descend as well.

Finally, you take a moment to fish out the SOUL VESSEL and hold it aloft, concentrating and searching for any latent spiritual essence which may be lingering in the vicinity...
>>
No. 1013297 ID: 673fe6
File 163478199454.jpg - (158.43KB , 450x450 , soj_037.jpg )
1013297

...perhaps unsurprisingly, you promptly feel a concentration of such spiritual energies clustered within the entryway -- some of it you estimate to be emanating from the structure itself, for ancient places of power could be suffused with essence. You reflect that the source of such an infusion could be the result of ambient gathering ( common for sites revered or paid homage by living beings ) or may otherwise be enriched by purposeful ritual or ceremony ( such as the consecration of sacred ground, or sacrificial forfeiture of the spirit. )

While you find that much of the latent essence here resists the draw of the vessel, so potently tethered to the HALL as it is -- you are still able to search out the spiritual essence of a lingering LESSER SPIRIT, which becomes snared by kalatite crystal before being drawn within it by your coaxing influence. When you have finished, it has grown warmer to the touch and you believe that you have likely captured some manner of entity.

You have CAPTURED:
> LESSER SPIRIT, (Unknown entity)

The faint store of spiritual essence within the vessel has been increased by what latent energy you were able to gather; additionally, the captured entity can also serve as a source of energy to augment your arcane abilities, imbue items with magical properties or interact with other vessels you may discover. You can also COMMUNE with captured entities.
>>
No. 1013298 ID: 673fe6
File 163478223714.jpg - (285.23KB , 750x450 , soj_038.jpg )
1013298

Finally, you proceed to descend the steps into the HALL OF LORDS, taking the time to sprinkle caltrops periodically as you go in order to potentially hinder or disable unwary beings who might follow you into the depths. As you venture deeper, your nose is greeted with a prevalent scent of dust and musty ash; you strongly consider removing your mask as you proceed, so as to take full advantage of your keen senses ahead. Though predominately unlit, there is still a bare enough shaft of ambient light cast from above that your eyes are able to adjust without the aid of magical or mundane light sources as of yet.

Treading deeper, you are surprised at just how far beneath the surface of the plaza above the structure seems to extend; you absently count in the back of your mind while you traverse the dark stairway, estimating roughly one hundred steps before at last it levels out into a passage proper. Here, the floor beneath your feet appears to be hewn and worked natural earth and stone, with occasional paving stones laid out. Stone masonry walls stand to a surprising height of ten feet, before extending a further four to the apex of an arched ceiling above.

Three paths are presented to you at this antechamber, while you are also able to faintly make out several torch sconces set into the walls flanking arched doorways. Very faintly, you can still smell what you believe to be the scent of man -- perspiration, grit, and some subtler aromas you can't quite identify. To your left, a detailed bust has been carved over the doorway in what seems to be the image of an armored figure with pauldrons and a hooded cloak presented with a skull for a head. It is very dark in the passage beyond, but you can faintly make out a steady dripping sound somewhere in the gloom and glimpse hazy silhouettes in a broader span at the edge of your vision.

To your right, a similarly detailed bust has been carved in the image of a robed skeletal figure wreathed with flames; for reasons unclear to you, this figure has been fashioned still possessing eyes in its sockets. As before, this passage is also quite dark beyond -- though listening intently you hear a faint crackling akin to a hearth and can just barely make out a ruddy orange glow from beyond a distant bend further down the passage. There are carved bas-relief murals a ways down which you can also faintly discern.

Ahead of you, the largest of the archways has been capped with a carving of what appears to be either a lantern or perhaps the top of a lighthouse, emanating the imagery of gross incandescence. Judging by the scents on the air, you estimate the SARKEN who have been down here may have traversed that passage most recently; despite the imagery over the doorway, you find the further reaches of this passage particularly dark, though it may just be your imagination playing tricks on you.

INVENTORY as of this post: https://pastebin.com/jCRpvtT0
MAGIC as of this post: https://pastebin.com/E8iTCvFQ

How do you proceed?

> _

While the broader vote here is ultimately picking which passage is of first interest to you, I want to also leave this open-ended enough for you to once more help one another to form a collective plan of action with your available knowledge and resources. You can also elect to do more within the antechamber before you proceed, as well.
>>
No. 1013300 ID: f6821f

>>1013298
The purpose of any is only partially discernable given the unknown purpose of this HOUSE or its significance to the SARKEN who once occupied this city. At best guess the halls are of rough analogue to the positions of the figures above the HOUSE: notice the left path features almost exactly the same armor and hood, the left is a catacomb of tombs of the interred LORDS, the right a cloaked figure flanked by fire as a spellcaster of some sort. Of worry is that the center figure has no bearing on the center figure but remains of interest given the darkness, the portrayal of illumination and the statue bearing a bell. Perhaps they are of rough analogue to their roles to the end of the city: the left is a crypt of interred dead, the right some sort of infirmary and the center a hall of worship to 'find' oneself. In the midst of the PALL, such shelter and promise is likely not lost on those who remain.

Given the potential of less than savory figures remaining, slipping to the right to see who if anyone lingers while we are still invisible would be the best choice of action to ensure they can only come from one direction -- or worse, that we only have one way to leave.
>>
No. 1013441 ID: 5c87b4

I guess the lesser spirit we caught is one of the dudes that went down here and got done unto. So first I'd try to COMMUNE with the spirit on anything noteworthy in this place, or ask how it died. We'll probably also need to cast GLOW on one of our items. I also feel we may need to CLEANSE this place, however there is no obvious target for such a ritual yet.

Three lords, three paths. A rather arbitrary choice. Our profession does not match any of these lords - we're not a valiant warrior, a pious priest, or an elemental sorceress. But since the SARKEN that went forward likely found their demise, left or right would be a slightly safer choice and one that I would split my vote on.

If we lit the braziers, we might as well put some torches in the scones here and light them up... well, since we only have 3 torches, use 2 to light the path that we'll be taking.
>>
No. 1013544 ID: 673fe6
File 163510717272.jpg - (231.59KB , 750x450 , soj_039.jpg )
1013544

For a few moments you consider which passage to address first, part of you imagining what regular function each might hold and whether the carvings could offer clues to such. Of the three, you regard the right passage first -- taking the time to ignite the torches poised to either side of the archway; fortunately, they are brought to flickering light fairly readily.

With this done, the spirit you snared comes to mind for questioning -- and so you COMMUNE, focusing on the vessel as you cradle it in your grasp and watching as the stirred entity manifests before you. As you suspected, he appears to have been a SARKEN man as the vestigial memory of his garb partly clothes his skeletal visage along faint echoes of long hair and a beard.

"El tlinn co sceath," you offer in customary greeting to the spirit, dipping your head, before you begin to question him. "What can yew tell me off these place?" You gesture broadly. "And how deed yew perish?"

Apparently the spirit is agitated. "What is this--where is Lars?! Egert!" He gestures a skeletal fist towards you. "Who are you--what did you do to me?!" Briefly, a more corporeal facsimile of his form ripples over the remains beneath before swiftly fading. "...perish?" He gawks, looking down -- nothing at all beneath the ethereal apparition's waist. "I heard the snap -- and Lars yelled to jump, but then..." He seems distracted then.

Silent for a long moment, the spirit looks to you with empty sockets. "What of you? Are you a spirit?" You remain partly infused with your SHROUD magic, semi-translucent.

> _
>>
No. 1013546 ID: 51c10d

Explain that you are living and they are a spirit. Hopefully, they won't freak out too much.

Then ask their name! Always polite to ask someone's name.
>>
No. 1013547 ID: 5c87b4

Huh, he only obtained consciousness once you tried to talk to him? What a mindless spirit.

Tell him that you're translucent because, uhh, it's magic and you don't need to explain shit. While touching your tiddy tell him that, see, it's all real.

Anyway, tell him that you came to investigate this place and if he helps you out, in return you'll try to find his body and give it a proper burial. He wouldn't want his body to remain rotting in this place, right?
>>
No. 1013569 ID: f57349

Pretend to be some sort of psychopomp or judge of the dead, but try to avoid saying anything explicitly false. Calm, formal, like this is serious but also just an ordinary job for you.

"Within the Pall, you died. I found you wandering. Now, we speak. You answer my questions, and I answer yours, in balance - as all things must be. Speak truth and I shall aid the next stage of your journey."
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