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File 166873871922.png - (256.10KB , 522x700 , 15-1.png )
1049539 No. 1049539 ID: 9272af

Chapter 15
Adult content 18+

First thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/860238.html
Wiki: https://tgchan.org/wiki/Moot_Point
Previous chapter: https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/1013588.html
Expand all images
>>
No. 1049540 ID: 9272af
File 166873899874.png - (92.15KB , 500x357 , 15-2.png )
1049540

The mountain pulses with activity, its corridors full of excited chatter. In the months since the visitors first arrived, changes have blossomed in the kobold village as the outside world has made itself known. 

Several of the lizards huddle in the central chamber, their eyes watching an empty space marked with a square, painted outline. 
>>
No. 1049541 ID: 9272af
File 166873901053.png - (209.25KB , 627x700 , 15-3.png )
1049541

The chamber booms as a gate opens and the villagers beam as three of their kin come scampering through the portal. A several of the kobolds embrace the travelers as they return home, gossiping excitedly about their trip. 

Four larger shapes emerge from the disk of light: three mice and a skeleton. The Kobolds glare at the undead with noticeable unease, their conversation taking a lower, suspicious tone. 

“They seem to be adapting pretty well to the gate network. I’m glad the Academy was able to fit a daily gate into their schedule.” Casey remarks.

“There’s not too much traffic so its not a big deal, and once they get a few kobolds trained in gate magic, they’ll be able to come and go as they please.” Gabe waves at the kobolds amiably, who give him sharp toothed smiles in return. “ I’ve heard Zafi is picking up the theory really well.” 
>>
No. 1049562 ID: 83fb9f

How goes your progress, you three?
>>
No. 1049585 ID: 823a1a

we may as well check in on how they are doing since we're here, both as a whole and any individuals you care to
>>
No. 1049695 ID: 9272af
File 166898681119.png - (152.76KB , 700x500 , 15-4.png )
1049695

“I hope this doesn’t take too long” Graves mutters from behind the mice, “I was making such good progress. I could be doing so much reading…”

“Oh, you’ll be fine. Besides, if our theory is right, what you’ll find here is more interesting than a whole stack of books.”

“I find that unlikely, but I’ll humor you for now.” There’s a sigh from the skull. “So this is Muir the Miserable’s old haunt? Its cozier than I thought.” Graves observes, casting his eyeless gaze around the stone walls. The austere, grey stone is daubed in broad strokes of colorful paint.

“Seems to be a work in progress. ” Kol says, pointing to a scaffolding loaded with cans and brushes. “They must really like the paint from the outside world.” The mural seems to have been inspired by the villager’s experiences on the surface: depicting trees, houses, food, and mortals of all shapes, under a sky that blends from day to night. 
>>
No. 1049696 ID: 9272af
File 166898681621.png - (88.03KB , 338x500 , 15-5.png )
1049696

“You like it?” Says a voice behind them. 

The visitors turn to see Three Horns, draped in a colorful robe; which, on second glance, appears to be a shirt several sizes too big, held closed with a sash. “I’m so proud of them for making the village lovely! Also it makes the old man furious…”
>>
No. 1049705 ID: 52910e

Greet the BOLD!! Compliment his outfit. Even if it does make him look like he just came out after doing the lewd with someone in that room.
>>
No. 1049718 ID: 823a1a

is it odd, to be curious how Miur is doing in Gay Baby Jail?
though I wonder how Three Horns will react to our friendly Undead
>>
No. 1049725 ID: 83fb9f

There she is! Greet her with open arms. Maybe she'll give a hug.
>>
No. 1049756 ID: 9a2966

Hah, love what they've done with the place. The 'Old Man' deserves to see this place get livened up a bit.

Get the brief on how they're doing and introduce literal skeleton you dragged out of library closet.
>>
No. 1049811 ID: 223077

I really, really like Kol's fashion sense.
The kobolds aren't bad, too.
>>
No. 1049859 ID: add2e1

>>1049725

Yes I think a hug is in order.
A group hug even.
>>
No. 1049941 ID: 9272af
File 166916894125.png - (140.62KB , 500x700 , 15-6.png )
1049941

“Three horns, you’re looking fantastic!” Kol reaches out to shake her hand. “How’ve you been?”

“I feel fantastic! Look at this color, and its so soft!” She does a little twirl to show off. “We’ve never had such comforts, because of this fool.” Her claws tap the surface of a glowing gem tucked in the sash of her robe, from which a pair of sullen eyes glare at them. 
>>
No. 1049942 ID: 9272af
File 166916894762.png - (124.88KB , 529x700 , 15-7.png )
1049942

“Wait, is that him? The geomancer king himself?” Graves leans in for a closer look, clearly amused at the vampire’s imprisonment. “Funny, I thought he’d be taller.” 

The bound undead snarls and Three Horns laughs sharply. She nods at the skeleton with an appraising eye, “I was told that they found a rune reader. I didn’t expect one so… dead.”

“I hope you don’t hold it against me. My name is Graves.” The skeleton nods politely. 

“Call me Three Horns. Spirits and undead are welcome here, as long as they behave themselves.” The kobold leader smirks.
>>
No. 1049947 ID: 0f5708

Sounds like a good policy. Best to keep that crystal tucked away though, in case they try something to escape. Hasn't been any other undead around until now, right? Don't want unexpected exploits!
>>
No. 1049961 ID: 823a1a

Did we ever tell the story of this place (and our adventure here) to Graves? not to mention that have have a fair few more to share with Three Horns while we walk
>>
No. 1050002 ID: 83fb9f

Graves has been a fine asset to our efforts, and we hope to continue that here.
>>
No. 1050023 ID: c28082

>>1049942

Somehow I think we'll manage ;)

Anyway, let's catch up and inquire about why we're here.
>>
No. 1050115 ID: 9272af
File 166932162412.png - (198.97KB , 700x477 , 15-8.png )
1050115

The lights in Graves’ eyes flicker for a second as if blinking and he asks, “Oh? Do you get many around here?”


The kobold leader smirks and turns her head to glance at a pair of approaching figures. “One or two…”
>>
No. 1050117 ID: cf3ad1

>>1050115
Oh, we know those guys! What're they up to?
>>
No. 1050120 ID: db478f

>>1050115
Ah, acquainted are we? Well acquainted?
>>
No. 1050124 ID: 107c27

AAaaa these guys!! we love these guys! How'd they get all the way over here though or did I miss something
>>
No. 1050269 ID: bbb04b

"Oh, hey! Actually, the way we met is a funny story... heh, if you guys really wanted some 'release' down in that chamber, you could have just asked~. I think we all know there's no way you actually didn't understand how your own riddle worked."

(Yes, I'm still on about the fact that the whole point of the 'correct' solution to the "one of us lies" riddle is to craft a question that will get the same true - or false, depending on how you phrase it - answer no matter which guardian you ask, and how "forgetting whose turn it was to be the liar" therefore shouldn't have been even remotely an issue.)
>>
No. 1050288 ID: 9272af
File 166951860236.png - (121.57KB , 500x416 , 15-9.png )
1050288

“Rufus! Pezzi! Good to see you two!” Gabe hurries ahead to give the constructs a hug. “How are you doing?” 

“Kind of tired, but doing well.” Pezzi returns the hug with a careful, mechanical embrace. 

“Tired? What’s wrong?” Gabe’s ears fold back as he looks back and forth between them. 

Rufus shrugs with a clank, “These bodies use up our energy to move around and, as spirits, we can’t make any more.” The two Mediums share a knowing glance and he continues, “Sooner or later we’re going to have to abandon them and move on.” 
>>
No. 1050289 ID: 823a1a

well... let us know when you do, BUT! until then we have stories to share and stories to make
>>
No. 1050293 ID: 15c72a

Oh? There's no method of collecting energy for fuel?
>>
No. 1050294 ID: dee951

Surely there's some substance or act which could refuel those bodies, somehow??
>>
No. 1050295 ID: 85d357

>>1050288
As fun as having them around is, all good things must come to an end. We'll miss them when they move on. Hopefully they'll let Gabe have the honor of Sending them.

In the meantime, let's focus on why we're all here. Has anyone made any progress with the mysterious machine that was found in the mountain?
>>
No. 1050299 ID: dacf01

It's frankly amazing and wonderful they were able to be in this realm for that long in the first place.

If there's a workaround, great! But, there's always an ending.

We should make the most out of whatever time's left
>>
No. 1050300 ID: a67004

>>1050288
Come to think of it, the two robuts have yet to meet Casey and Kol yet probably.

Should remedy that.
>>
No. 1050301 ID: 2a82d3

Is that why they're here? Three Horns is helping with that? She must be a comforting presence, if nothing else, and the experience would be good for her too.
>>
No. 1050303 ID: f1650b

Well... you know, it's kind of weird. We've been learning lately about how, maybe our understanding of things isn't so black and white as we thought. There COULD be a way around that, and you're actually kind of on the track towards maybe finding it, too! either way though, it's nice to have them around.
>>
No. 1050310 ID: add2e1

Let's call Caleb and arrange a high sea fishing trip.
Let's sea what kind of stuff can be done with refined fish oil.
>>
No. 1050441 ID: 989e52

Being experienced mediums, after all the years, I'm sure they are prepared for this.

Do they have ANY unfinished businesses? Of course outside of...

>>1050300

...PROPER farewell from Casey and Kol.
>>
No. 1050535 ID: 9272af
File 166976950077.png - (175.19KB , 500x700 , 15-10.png )
1050535

“We’re going to the spirit realm soon! We can bring you back some raw mana!” Gabe offers.

Pezzi chuckles and shakes his head. “Its fine. We no longer need to watch over the Guardian’s tome. As Mediums, we’ve been prepared since the moment we gave up our bodies.” The brass lizard reaches out to his partner and their fingertips hook together briefly. “Getting to share this time together was a nice way to retire before we leave.” 

“Yeah, after a couple hundred years of living in the library, getting to see the sky with you and Clio was worth it.” Rufus agrees. 
>>
No. 1050536 ID: 9272af
File 166976951106.png - (122.42KB , 500x496 , 15-11.png )
1050536

“Heh heh heh. Good times…” Gabe grins as his memory drifts back to the free-fall fucking. “You know… I’m always down for another round, although maybe something more earthbound.” He leans in to confide, “I’ve only ever done that with at least one other Sender. Always safer to have more than one gate for in case things go wrong. I may be a dingus, but I’m not crazy.”
>>
No. 1050545 ID: 15c72a

We just got here, I think we'd better get to business before pleasure.
>>
No. 1050553 ID: 823a1a

question: robopenis?
but speaking of time, we DO need to check out that magi-computer
>>
No. 1050575 ID: 83fb9f

Crazy fun, maybe!
>>
No. 1051217 ID: 9272af
File 167046495649.png - (154.25KB , 500x700 , 15-12.png )
1051217

“So you hope to restart the quicksilver machine?” Three Horns asks Casey as they watch Gabe make future plans for mechanical fun. “I hope you know what you’re doing.” 

“Between what we’ve learned and Mr. Graves’s knowledge of vampiric runes, we think we can operate it. He’s been a huge help to us so far.” 

“Mmm…” the kobold leader nods noncommittally, “I trust your judgement, but I don’t trust that machine. Everything left behind by the old masters brings nothing but ruin.”

“I’m not sure if I should be offended at that.” Graves comments. 

The lizard blinks and looks at Graves out of the corner of her eye, “I’ll be happy to be proven wrong. Shall I lead the way?” 
>>
No. 1051260 ID: 4b0f55

These are times of change, Three Horns. This past year alone has been a wild experience for everyone, we imagine.
>>
No. 1051279 ID: 15c72a

>>1051217
Perhaps we should take some precautions...
>>
No. 1051293 ID: bceec2

>>1051217
Let's go take a look at the machine and hope we don't kill everyone by turning it on.
>>
No. 1051477 ID: 9272af
File 167072726562.png - (128.88KB , 700x500 , 15-13.png )
1051477

With Gabe having said goodbye to the robotic Mediums, the group steps onto the stone elevators and Three-Horns twists the dial to one of the strange vampiric runes. 

A moment later, the block of stone rumbles to life and floats into the central shaft of the mountain. The cube climbs several stories before changing direction and soaring into a yawning passage in the earth. Magelights flare to life along the darkened tunnel as the group huddles against the tug of inertia. 

“This is Muir’s handywork alright.” Graves comments as the walls of rock go flying past. “You’d think he would have put in a railing or something.” 

“He wasn’t exactly known for valuing the safety of others.” Three-Horns replies. “Here we are…”

The stone slows and docks itself in an empty space perfectly fitted for it. The group disembarks and steps through the massive metal doors.
>>
No. 1051478 ID: 9272af
File 167072727357.png - (202.98KB , 500x700 , 15-14.png )
1051478

“I just had a thought…” Casey says, pausing at the threshold, “If he didn’t value safety, shouldn’t we be taking precautions? We’re about to be messing with several tons of very toxic liquid.” 

All eyes turn to the captured undead, who glowers at them unhelpfully. 

“Good point.” Three-Horns acknowledges. She snaps her fingers and a glowing network of lines traces through the air, forming a crystalline lattice around everyone . “This should keep us safe for a time. “ 
>>
No. 1051484 ID: 15c72a

>>1051478
Nice. How long does it last?
We should start working, as not to waste the duration.
>>
No. 1051497 ID: 83fb9f

>>1051478
Her application of magic is real neat. I think it's worth discussing in detail further over a meal. But for now, where do we start?
>>
No. 1051689 ID: 9272af
File 167098647429.png - (160.04KB , 500x700 , 15-15.png )
1051689

“Nice work!” Casey nods at the binding spell. “How long will it last?” 

The kobold looks up at her handy-work and does a little mental calculus, “Long enough. Maybe an hour? Let’s not dawdle.” 

Mr. Graves steps up to the central console and begins examining it, his skeletal eyes alight with interest. “Okay… okay… I believe this is an indicator of date and time…” he points at a series of cylindrical dials mounted horizontally. “Some of these towards the bottom indicate direction. The right hand side appears to be related to control of the quicksilver itself: fill, purge, pressure. Also these dials seem to indicate some kind of spin control; does anyone know what that might mean?” The undead looks to the living group members for any clue. 
>>
No. 1051707 ID: 823a1a

my first, and admitably only, guess is that it relates to the only cicular thing there is in the room, the circle that lies in the very center, unless it's a VERY sideways way of refering to the flow/cycle of the quicksilver
>>
No. 1051710 ID: 15c72a

>>1051689
I'm guessing that disc in the center spins, but why? Maybe it has to be at a specific speed for certain functions to work?
>>
No. 1051732 ID: 9a2966

Date, time and direction are curious functions for something to have.

I think... this might be a very advanced scrying pool? That can look into the past and/or future? Quicksilver has mirror-like qualities and/or could be shaped into all manner of shapes assuming a guiding force.

Fill, purge, pressure and spin control though... perhaps such values are necessary for recreating certain scenes - correctly set they allow the scry to become three-dimensional. Or there's additional functionalities to this that we're not seeing.

If it IS a scrying device - and let's be fair, someone who isolates themselves in a mountain fort might be very interested in having such a thing - then I wonder if this could be set to scry on the time and place of lord Hekal's disappearance.
>>
No. 1051738 ID: c28082

>>1051689

... it's a portal device, or something like it. Not necessarily to somewhere but rather somewhen. Spin control could adjust the attitude of the resultant portal, together with the directional controls along the bottom.

The entire chamber is basically an open spell formula, powered by the mercury, and configurable through these controls.
>>
No. 1051748 ID: 83fb9f

Some sort of controls for the Quicksilver but to what purpose? You don't think it's a dam but uncertain what sort of machinery requires fluid to operate. Logic gates?
>>
No. 1051925 ID: 9272af
File 167115632729.png - (129.79KB , 544x600 , 15-16.png )
1051925

“Seems like it might relate that circular device set into the floor.” Kol points, “Why not try it?” 

The skeleton twists one of the dials and the central well creaks for a moment as an array of metal disks begin a slow, lazy rotation. 

“Interesting, it seems you can manipulate them individually.” Graves turns another knob and the disk shift slightly, forming a shallow parabola. 

“Stop! Get your hands off that!” A tiny voice screeches out of Three-Horns’ waistband. The kobold leader pulls the binding gem out and examines the wraith trapped inside. 

Muir bangs fruitlessly against the crystal wall and glares daggers at the skeleton. “You have no idea what you’re doing! The lattice with break if its not filled before spin up!” 

“Feeling more helpful are we?” Three-Horns teases, “You heard him, fill it up.” 

Graves nods and hunts for a moment among the controls before stabbing a button with a finger.

 The walls shiver as hidden machinery activates and hidden valves open in sequence. Liquid metal begins to pour into the network of channels surrounding the device, flowing with unsettling quickness as it seeks its way through the maze. Finally, the quicksilver pours into the central well, which, rather than beginning to fill, draws the liquid up into an unstable column. Once fully supported, the mercury spreads itself out and shapes itself into a shallow, reflective bowl as the mechanism spins faster. 

“That seems to be working. I’m guessing that’s a scrying medium.” Graves states, staring down into the liquid mirror. “What next?” 
>>
No. 1051929 ID: 397626

Sounds like the best way to get info out of Muir is to look like you're going to use his precious gadgets the wrong way
>>
No. 1051933 ID: 4b0f55

>>1051925
Yeah seems like just probing until our crystalline friend relents and gives more insight, is the way to go
>>
No. 1051943 ID: b7f4e1

Hmm, I would assume scrying would use magic, and given that Muir is a Lich, one would assume Lich-Fire is an ingrediant, though who knows with him... at the very least, one could assume the direction and date controls are where and when you are scrying
>>
No. 1051950 ID: 15c72a

>>1051925
Fiddle with the time and date settings.
>>
No. 1051951 ID: 30b9f6

>>1051950
And direction. Get Gabe to calculate out something, he should be good at that.

Maybe... scry yourselves in some situation and location in the past, to see if it works that way?
>>
No. 1051959 ID: 454238

>>1051951

Knowing Gabe, the coordinates he gives would probably be a time when the group was having sex~
>>
No. 1052172 ID: e12308

I wonder if this thing has a re-dial function. Maybe we could look at the last time/place the device was pointed at.
>>
No. 1052250 ID: 9272af
File 167150490919.png - (117.96KB , 500x700 , 15-17.png )
1052250

All eyes turn to the captured lich, who suddenly looks extremely self conscious. “What are you looking at? I just didn’t want that ham-fisted fool to break it! Thats my life’s work! You don’t even know what it does!”

“Its a dream- seeing device, right? An attempt at recreating Fey scrying magic.” Casey states simply, her eyebrow cocked with the confidence of a rapier. 

The geomancer stammers and goes quiet, his eyes flickering between the mice, “Who told you that? Him?” He asks, pointing at Graves. 

“Actually it was a Dullahan named Ometra we captured.” Casey replies. 

“That means nothing to me.” Muir says, despite his expression betraying a new respect for the spirit guides. “You can’t make me help you.” He finishes, slumping against the wall of his crystal prison in a tiny show of defiance.

“Are you sure? We’re looking for information even you might want.” Casey says conversationally. “We’re trying to find out what happened to the vampire lord Hekal on the night of his disappearance.” 

“Hekal? That old bastard? Why would I care about him?” Muir sits up, his feigned disinterest starting to crumble. “He always thought he was so clever, well look at what his cleverness got him? Vanished! I tried to spy on him, but he moved his fortress around too much.”

“Well that’s fortunate, I know where he was the night of the disappearance: within a certain margin.” Graves states as he fiddles with the date and time settings. “I could use your help with the controls.”

“Let me out first!” Muir demands.

Three-Horns holds him up to her face and glares, “Not a chance, slaver.”

The caged vampire lord slumps, defeated. “Ffffine. Hand me over.” 
>>
No. 1052251 ID: 9272af
File 167150491502.png - (155.60KB , 500x700 , 15-18.png )
1052251

The kobold relinquishes the binding crystal to Mr. Graves, giving it one last menacing squint: daring Muir to try anything funny. 

The vampire lord begins pointing out a sequence of controls, guiding the skeleton in a startup of the scrying spell. A flare of mana courses along the channels, earthing itself into the central array and forming a poorly resolved image in the pool. 

“Its out of focus, use the knobs!” Muir snaps.

The skeleton adjusts the spin and angle until the disc forms a parabola with a more distinct image, “Like this?” The scrying spell comes into focus on the top of Muir’s fortress: its litchfire beacon blazing against a perfectly clear night sky. As the image from the past resolves, the onlookers crowd around the controls to get a better look. 

“That’s it! The machine always focuses on my beacon first. You can navigate with the orb.” Muir explains. 

Graves puts a bony hand on the impossibly smooth, stone sphere and rotates it experimentally. The image pitches sharply to the left. “Oh, that’s… huh.” The undead pans the scrying spell in a slow circle and clacks his jaw with irritation. “Um… does anyone have a map?” 
>>
No. 1052293 ID: 9a2966

I hope someone took notes on that startup process!

Give it to Muir, this is a pretty interesting tool - it could become invaluable in understanding past events assuming it can be kept operational without it running out of, uh, battery any time soon, or rare parts and such wearing down.

Granted, it is pretty intrusive if used to scry on others - and it is also the kobolds' to make of what they will besides.

>Map
A map - or some math! Gabe would be the expert on the latter, no?

At least he could calculate the math of it, how far away something would be, the rate of movement to spin, roughly how many turns to get from point A to point B, etc.

One also has the stars to go by here, which should suffice for the directional sense. Those don't move, after all... much. From there it'd be a matter of staying steady and on target, maybe identifying landmarks of the time. Good thing Graves' hand is unlikely to cramp!
>>
No. 1052307 ID: 15c72a

Yeah, Gabe should be able to navigate.
>>
No. 1052356 ID: 83fb9f

>>1052251
We have no doubt access to probably every type of conceivable map but at the moment? Probably Gabe is our best navigator, I would say.
>>
No. 1052386 ID: 9272af
File 167167640701.png - (133.91KB , 601x700 , 15-19.png )
1052386

“Oh, I do!” Gabe reaches into his storage space and pulls out a tome. He cracks open the book and pages through it until he finds the Highpeaks. “Okay, so… here’s where you are, that looks like… you’re facing south, towards the fernglades, here. 

“Do you know where Vianmille is from here?” Graves asks. 

“Uhhhhh…” Gabe flips through his atlas rapidly as he searches. “Is that a town or a river or something?” 

Casey thinks for a moment and says, “I think I’ve read about a ruin on the Tribune River with that name. Its downriver of Gristance, if I remember right.” 

“Okay I can work with that…” Gabe flips a few more pages and pulls a caliper out of a tiny gate in order to measure distances. “That’s… about 250 miles southwest of the Highpeaks.”

Graves looks to the controls and spins the globe to the left slightly. “So this way?” 

“Mmm, a little too far…” Gabe says, eyeing the stars in the image. “Want me to steer?” 
>>
No. 1052387 ID: 9272af
File 167167641313.png - (129.92KB , 500x700 , 15-20.png )
1052387

The undead shrugs with a slight rattle and moves to make room for the mouse. 

The Sender gleefully takes the controls and gets his bearings. He finds that by pushing the orb rather than spinning it, he can move the spell in different directions. “How fast does this move?” He asks the lich. 

“What? Oh… I don’t really know. Why?” The undead responds, taken aback by the question. 

“Well, I need to figure out how far to go, right? There’s no compass or anything so we’re kind of flying blind here.” 

“Well the thing is..” Muir mutters, his hands clenching nervously. “Alright! I admit it! The blasted thing is practically useless!” He sags, overcome with a despair that seems to have built up over the years. “It can scry on any place and time, but using it to find anything useful is practically impossible! I mostly used it to defend the mountain and spy on the kobolds! I figured I would have centuries to work out all the problems...” 
>>
No. 1052388 ID: 9dcfe9

>>1052387
Well... it’s not that bad, honestly. One could stay high in the air, tweak the date for a cloudless day and use landmarks for the initial location survey (Landmarks like a certain large statue!), plus presently modern times has an advantage in a ton of historical data (and modern maps) to work with, allowing one to narrow down both time and place. Spying in real-time might still be tough, but the past? Should be doable.

And since time can be tweaked, one can even start out from the perspective of the modern day, and tick back from there, easing things a little. Did you say it was downriver, Casey? Easy peasy, rivers are also good landmarks!
>>
No. 1052393 ID: 6bc5d5

how does one handle three dimentionsal movement with that system?
trying to find something useful when you don't know either where or when is a needle in a haystack, even if there are a lot of needles that's a LOT of hay
but whe already know roughly where and when, and if the machine can actually get us there
>>
No. 1052395 ID: 5046df

So what's Muir's definition of "useful?" He admits it can scry any place and time, and he uses it to defend the mountain and spy on kobolds. So how is it "useless?" It should work just fine for scrying Hekal's fate, since they already have an established time and place, it's just a matter of figuring out the controls and zeroing in on it.
>>
No. 1052413 ID: 835c62

You're gonna need a baseline for travel speed. Pick out a known distance between two landmarks, like a pair of mountain peaks, and take down the time of flight. That should give you a reasonable estimate of how fast your viewpoint can move. The longer the distance the better.

>>1052388
Better to try to pick it out in the past. The modern ruins may not be the site itself, and if Graves is familiar with it he should recognize it pretty quickly.

We may also be able to update (downdate? backdate?) our contemporary maps if we take a look at the landscape from on high.
>>
No. 1052492 ID: e12308

maybe scry up someone from the academy to help puzzle through this? They might have historical maps in the library
>>
No. 1052512 ID: f57349

>>1052413
Conveniently there are some mountain peaks right near the starting beacon, which Gabe presumably measured as part of originally finding this place. We'll need an accurate clock, though, and ideally some way to indicate the exact center of the scrying window.
>>
No. 1052560 ID: ccbdd0

>spy on the kobolds
oh really, you have fun doing that?
>>
No. 1052573 ID: 9272af
File 167200525867.png - (120.36KB , 700x346 , 15-21.png )
1052573

Gabe blinks back surprise at the emotional outburst and shrugs. “Its fine, no biggie. We’ll just have to measure it ourselves. Let’s see…” He angles the viewpoint up and does a scan of the skyline. “Doesn’t look like things changed much, at least. Okay now lets line up these peaks.” 

Gabe maneuvers the orb into position and gooses it forward. “They should be about five miles apart according to the map.” He starts counting under his breath as the landscape sails by underneath them. The ice-capped mountain flies past their point of view and Gabe nods. “Three minutes and fifteen seconds, not bad. See? We know where and when to search, and we have a benchmark of speed and direction. Hardly useless at all!”

Muir sulks at the bottom of his prison, clearly a little put out that these mortals are so adeptly use his machine.
>>
No. 1052585 ID: c29e6e

It's because there's a combination of people's efforts going into this Muir. You made it and understand it's purpose and various dials and levers, Graves remembers the exact dates and names of places we're looking for, Casey knows where those places are in modern context, SOMEONE made this map being used as reference for directions, and Gabe's savant level mathematical understanding is calculating the exact coordinates from said reference. It is called "teamwork", and if you weren't such a narcissist tyrant you'd have had people with varied specializations that could have helped you with this.
>>
No. 1052588 ID: dee951

Most Tyrants and Dictators and the like still have their advisers and experts. What were his like? Was there some who he trusted?
>>
No. 1052593 ID: 83fb9f

That's teamwork, Dude. Powerful mortal tactics, that.
>>
No. 1052604 ID: c74ddc

>>1052588

Probably not. It seems like Hekal was a bit of an odd man out among vampire lords for valuing others and their opinions.
>>
No. 1052896 ID: 9272af
File 167236884747.png - (203.68KB , 700x688 , 15-22.png )
1052896

The mouse’s eyes dart to the side, trying to stay focused on guiding the machine. “Hey man, its just teamwork. We’re just cooperating and combining our skills. Didn’t you have people you relied on in your day?” 

Muir scowls and says nothing. 

“Vampires tend to be… selective about their companions: the Mountain Lord notoriously so.” Mr Graves says. “Lord Hekal was actually a bit of an oddity among them. From what I’ve learned in my service, the most important thing to a vampire is usually their lair, specifically their mana well.”

“What else did I need?” The imprisoned undead waves his arm at nothing as if demonstrating his point. “I had my servants, my machines, and my mountain: which I built, myself, from the corpse of a primal earth elemental! All of the other idiots were scrambling for power and I vowed to wait it all out, safe in my fortress.” 

“And that’s what got you defeated.” Casey remarks, not unkindly, “It was the combined efforts of Madame Moot and the First Guardians that slipped right into your mountain and stopped you.” 

Muir opens his mouth to say something and hesitates for a moment before saying, “I had… never seen magic like that before. It wasn’t even like the portals you use today. It was wild and savage, ripping my mountain apart from the inside.” 
>>
No. 1052898 ID: 96a9a8

Yeah, it's been refined a bit since then. Tamed, you could say. The world moves on, society and skills advance without you when you turn your back to the world.
>>
No. 1052904 ID: 9a2966

>A slain earth elemental
Wait, so this entire place was - or was powered by - the body of a dead elemental? Hoh, now THAT sounds like a story you'd like to hear someday. The stuff of legends - unless Casey knows those legends already?

Shame they are dead though - you've only had the pleasure of meeting one truly powerful elemental in this day and age - and you'd not have a feather on their neck harmed if you could help it. They were quite nice.

>Never seen magic like that before
Well, that magic disappeared with Moot (until recently, anyway) when she took Hekal and herself... elsewhere. With any luck, you can position the scry so that you can observe through the portal and see the other end to get a clue as to where.

>Came into my mountain
Knowing what you do, it seems probable Muir was attacked because he had a mana well and it needed to be capped. Did they ever try to talk it out or give an ultimatum? Given that Muir was so passive, that could have been considered as an option, even if not a well-considered one given that he'd probably never give up his home base and power source.

No offense, but you do agree with what they did, as much as it was an invasion of his quiet, private sphere. The world did not need a ceaseless procession of power-hungry, asocial immortal warlords - or a singularly powerful tyrant left over at the end.

From your perspective, at least, it feels as if things have progressed for the better since that time.
>>
No. 1052917 ID: 4b0f55

Portal magic is much more refined nowadays. But by all means, tell us what it was like back then.
>>
No. 1052931 ID: a2d88b

You've actually seen the contrast between old and new portal magic. It's very likely the First Teacher helped codify it into a teachable form.
>>
No. 1052954 ID: 104149

>>1052917

We already saw a glimpse of what Moot's original portal magic was like with Clio. Before she was trained, her portals were wild tears and holes rather than nice neat portals. Imagine that, way back in the days when all magic was operating on a x10 modifier.
>>
No. 1053187 ID: 9272af
File 167279871908.png - (219.23KB , 700x500 , 15-23.png )
1053187

“Can you tell us anything about the First Guardians? Like what happened when they attacked you?”

Muir squints, looking back into the mists of time at his moment of defeat. “It took me a while to even realize the mountain had been breached. I was scrying and noticed that the kobolds were busier than normal, animated by some… unseen purpose.” 

“I finally found them: a cat in a red cloak, a Fey I had heard about, the one called “the teacher”, and a third figure who seemed to be a spirit of some kind.” The vampire continues, “Immediately I turned the rocks of the mountain against them, trying to crush them. The Fey protected them with the same magic that currently imprisons me, while the cat tore some kind of hole in space and they escaped. For more than a day I chased them through the mountain: having to scry them out and attack, only for them to escape.”

“Time was on my side though, I could see that they were getting tired, and their magic starting to weaken. I could tell that they were trying to find the source of my mana and I was determined to stamp them out before they could. “
>>
No. 1053188 ID: 9272af
File 167279872654.png - (139.87KB , 500x700 , 15-24.png )
1053188

Coming to the end, Muir sighs and glares at Three- Horns with a hatred honed over the centuries, “I remember… I was here at my machine, searching through the corridors of my fortress when I heard the door creak open and saw a servant girl peek in at me. I turned and ordered her away but felt myself grabbed from behind. At some point I had lost track of the spirit, and the little lizard led him right to me.” 
>>
No. 1053196 ID: e12308

Who was the medium??!!
Also, It's clear now that Muir lost because his hat wasn't tall enough.
>>
No. 1053197 ID: 15c72a

Hey that might be a cool thing to watch...
>>
No. 1053200 ID: 9a2966

>>1053197
Solving the mystery of the first spirit mystic while we're here? Why not!

Though perhaps we should focus on the task at hand and do that after we've verified what happened to Hekal.
>>
No. 1053202 ID: 83fb9f

It seems likely they would have found you anyways, Miur.
>>
No. 1053219 ID: 800359

>>1053200

Why not both?
At the same time.
>>
No. 1053397 ID: 9272af
File 167306464749.png - (118.11KB , 700x461 , 15-25.png )
1053397

“Before I could think, the bastard ripped me out of my body and was draining away my mana. I managed to slip free and fled back to my innermost sanctum only to find it sealed by a crystal barrier.”
>>
No. 1053398 ID: 9272af
File 167306466725.png - (182.42KB , 500x700 , 15-26.png )
1053398

“As I struggled to find some way in, the cat appeared, brandishing some kind of glowing blade. Rather than face her… I dove into the rock itself and hid. When I emerged… my mana well was sealed, and the kobolds had been taught how to hunt and cage me. I spent centuries trying to grow stronger, feeding off of kobolds that were asleep or unprotected, trying to conserve my mana.”

“What did the spirit look like?” Casey asks, “We’d love to know more about one of the first Mediums.” 

“I didn’t get a good look at him.” Muir shrugs. “He could have been a dog… maybe a cat? Some kind of mammal. Its hard to tell with etherial forms.”
>>
No. 1053399 ID: 9272af
File 167306468072.png - (172.01KB , 591x700 , 15-27.png )
1053399

“Uh, guys? I think I found it…” Gabe turns to tell the assembled group.

Kol asks, “You sure?” 

The Sender nods, his face looking pale. “Just a hunch.” He says.

In the glowing circle of mercury, a crowded warcamp sprawls by a river. Above it, the looming shape of a bargast blots out the stars. 
>>
No. 1053401 ID: 15c72a

>>1053399
Very nice. Let's find the throne room, and then wait for/fastforward to the confrontation.
>>
No. 1053409 ID: f8da40

So the first medium's identity remains a mystery. Buuuuut, who do we know that was good at taking spells apart and putting them back together, who might've created medium magic from necromancy (as Casey has deduced), and, it stands to reason, could've been its first practitioner?
>>
No. 1053411 ID: ceaf93

>>1053398
wasn't it said that there was only one person who wielded a portal as a blade, before our friendly neighborhood thief that is?
>>
No. 1053412 ID: 15c72a

>>1053409
...you're saying Lord Hekal is the First Medium?
It fits, doesn't it. Moot shows up, Lord Hekal vanishes, and then the wells start getting sealed, without anyone seeing the third member of the group.
>>
No. 1053581 ID: 9272af
File 167331336662.png - (197.29KB , 700x500 , 15-28.png )
1053581

“Okay, lets find the throne room and see what happened.” Kol leans in to eye the image. 

Graves points to a surprisingly plain building made of stone and says, “There, the throne room is in that building.” 

Gabe navigates the spell forward, passing through walls until it locates a low, wide room. Its center is dominated with a map, covered in colored stones and markers, showing the boundaries of war. At one end of the map sits a man in a throne, brooding over the sea of information: an expression of frustrated intelligence carved into his stony features. He wears simple, well made armor, with nothing to identify him as anything other than a common soldier. Despite this, the vampire radiates a pale, cold authority that marks him as an absolute ruler. 

At his side, Rodwin offers his loyal council with his branded tongue. The Fey points to the distribution of forces and offers his analysis without fear of reprimand. 

Hekal looks at the devil with an expression that seems… sad and immensely tired. For the first time in hundreds of years his voice is heard, although slightly unclear and warbling due to the spell. “True, true. In all honestly, I don’t know if there's enough power in the world to stop this war.”

“My Lord…” Mr. Graves makes a move to reach for the image before remembering himself. “Its him. Its really him…” The undead seems breathless, despite not needing to breathe for the last few centuries. 
>>
No. 1053582 ID: 83fb9f

The man, the myth, the legend. How long can can we watch this? We don't have the patience of the fay.
>>
No. 1053583 ID: f89136

>>1053581
Every time we learn more about him I'm more and more impressed at his tactical wit and marks of leadership. Not surprised they had to jump him to get the upper hand. Though it makes wonder what a man so seemingly wise wanted out of eternal life.
>>
No. 1053600 ID: 15c72a

Is there a fast-forward on this thing?
>>
No. 1053613 ID: 492304

I wonder if sealing the mana wells was Hekal's idea the whole time. As tired as he was of the endless magic superweapon wars of the Wild Age, was he really recruited by Moot to stop it, or was it the other way around?
>>
No. 1053614 ID: 9e7f25

>>1053613
Considering he's a cat, watch it turn out him and moot are relatives.
>>
No. 1053615 ID: 800359

>>1053583

Maybe he had a goal that met with Moot's.
If I were a betting man I'd say: a place to live for mortals, safe from all the magic users, the Fae wars and the chaos.

If Moot suggested him a way to access and close the mana wells he hadn't access to before (namely: her own magic), he might have been quickly convinced.

Hekal doesn't seem to me like a gloryhound or someone with ambitions of grandeur. The "noble goal through any means necessary" sounds like his hat though.
>>
No. 1053704 ID: 9272af
File 167357948202.png - (138.92KB , 500x700 , 15-29.png )
1053704

“We’re here too early.” Kol points and says, “Rodwin is still here. He told me that Madame Moot appeared and sent him somewhere else.” 

“You can speed it up, use the counter on the left.” Muir says from his prison. The caged vampire seems just as invested in seeing the events play out.

Gabe fiddles with the controls and the scene flicks forward in a rapid series of images. The vision suddenly flares with red light and he stops the spell. Caught in mid-stride, Augustine Moot steps out of a ragged tear in the world, as if her statue had stepped down from its pedestal and come to life. 

“Its really her… I can’t believe we’re seeing this!” Gabe breathes. He fiddles with the controls again and movement resumes. 
>>
No. 1053705 ID: 9272af
File 167357949894.png - (160.39KB , 500x700 , 15-30.png )
1053705

Rodwin leaps to his master’s defense, his face twisted in surprise, “What? Who the Blazing Fates are you?”

A moment later, he disappears: falling into a scar of light cut at his feet. 

Hekal looks at his lieutenant’s disappearance with concern, but a complete lack of surprise. “I do hope he’s not dead…”

Augustine shoots back, her voice full of wary spite. “Nah, he gotta a bit ova walk though.” The Claiomh Solais glows in her right hand, which she aims at the vampire. “So whas this all about, then? You invite me here to kill ya?” 
>>
No. 1053706 ID: 9272af
File 167357950813.png - (167.69KB , 700x500 , 15-31.png )
1053706

Fascinated by the sword of light, Hekal leans forward. “So that’s it? The blade I’ve heard of: the one that carves its own fate…” He sighs and sits back in his throne. “No, powerful as it is, I doubt even it can kill me, at least not in a way that matters. That’s actually why I brought you here: to give you the tools to undo the damage done to this world.”
>>
No. 1053715 ID: 8b6f88

>>1053706
That's a hell of an offer. What's the deal?
>>
No. 1053716 ID: 15c72a

>>1053706
Oh boy here we go. We're going to need to watch this whole exchange, and try to get a view through the portal Moot creates at the end of the meeting, so we can see where they're going next. Of course, if they outright say where they're going that's good too. Even better if they go into detail about their schedule before they leave...
>>
No. 1053718 ID: 30b9f6

Holy heck, so he did suggest a collaboration!

We never got a clear timeline from Rodwin, did we? If the capping of the mana wells started before or after his master disappeared... that'd be a fairly obvious tell in hindsight. Combined with the possibility of Mediums using a form of magic developed and taught by Hekal himself, that means...

Heck, we might not even need that sneak peek through the portal to see where he went. Call on Rufus and Pezzi! They were concurrent to the time, so get them to come in here and look at Hekal. Do they recognize him as their one-time teacher?

I wonder why he never returned to Rodwin and his people, though - if they won the war, he ultimately could have. Maybe something occurred to prevent it. Maybe he had to give up too much to be able to go back, or got put an end to in one of the later fights.

One thing's for sure - if he truly helped put an end to the wars Hekal's people and servants deserve the Guardians' aid. There'd be a debt there for sure.
>>
No. 1053719 ID: 1f71e5

>>1053718

Even more than that, who wants to bet it was Hekal that helped the otherwise illiterate and uneducated Moot codify Sender magic with all the precise mathematics and measurements, probably even helped found the Academy?
>>
No. 1053722 ID: e12308

So, Moot’s gate magic has the same shape as Clio’s did, just a ragged tear in space. But the Great Gate that she made to save the people of Moot Point was a perfect circle. Is Hekal the one who showed her how to stabilize her gates?
>>
No. 1053724 ID: 9caf29

>>1053719
Frankly that sounds more like the work of Tuvara-Malli, but perhaps Hekal was the one who got them together.
>>
No. 1053725 ID: 022c47

>>1053724

He probably did that, at least. It's looking like the sealing the wells was indeed Hekal's idea, and he brought Moot here to start building an A Team with which to do it.

Now that I think about it, I don't think Rodwin ever mentioned Hekal's own mana well being sealed, but it can be assumed it was at some point. I wonder if that's also what he brought Moot here to do. To test this plan on his own well first, to see if it's even possible to begin with
>>
No. 1053771 ID: a2d88b

>>1053725
I'm taking back what I said, perhaps it was Hekal after all, since I found a remark from Graves about him:
> “Very impressive.” The skeletal ghoul nods sagely. “Never really understood how magic worked, to be honest. Lord Hekal made it all seem so easy. He could pick it apart like a clock and put it back together without missing a tick of the second hand.”
>>
No. 1053961 ID: 9272af
File 167392103927.png - (114.26KB , 700x500 , 15-32.png )
1053961

Yah fuck’n wat?” Augustine cocks her head in disbelief, glaring daggers at the warlord. 

“I’ve heard the rumors: you’ve been appearing out of nowhere, attacking and stealing from the great powers. Trying to disrupt the wars by slaying the vampires.” Hekal expounds, waving a hand at the map in front of him. “But it won’t work. You could cut me down right now, and my spirit would just inhabit another body. Even the Fey and Elementals have their ways of cheating death.” 

“That’s why I want to help you. None of this will end unless someone can seal the mana wells. I can teach you to do that, as well as many other things.”

A smile spreads thin and wide across Augustine’s lips. She starts to laugh: a monotone, rapid-fire laugh that might follow a dirty joke in a bar. 

She stops abruptly and huffs, “You must be some kinda stupid, you know that? I spend my whole life hopping from town to town trying tah escape the fighting: having to steal and hide just to survive. And you fink you can just summon me like a pet and make me one o’ your lackeys? Eh?” Her eyes narrow to gleaming slits, “I ain’t nobody’s soldier.” 
>>
No. 1053962 ID: 9272af
File 167392104617.png - (137.54KB , 700x565 , 15-33.png )
1053962

Hekal pauses to think about this, his expression full of concern. “Yes, perhaps I misspoke. I have no intention of…” He pauses again. “I built this army with… every intention of remaking the world into something… enduring, something better. But it is an ungainly, impossible thing to control. Every movement, every order causing untold chaos and damage. It is like trying to do surgery with a scythe!” His hand comes down on the arm of the throne with a thump and he sighs. 

“But you…” He looks back to Augustine, his eyes pleading, “You have the scalpel we need. A knife to cut out the cancer, and I can provide the stitches to  heal the wound.” 
>>
No. 1053974 ID: 7309d2

...is this going to end with them having sex?
>>
No. 1053981 ID: f89136

>>1053974
Moot doesn't strike me as someone willing to bed someone this stiff, stoic and also technically a corpse, but who knows, maybe she isn't so picky.

Man, Clio certainly is her spitting image though, lifestyle, temperament, raw talent, everything but her accent. I wonder who Moot had kid/s with.
>>
No. 1054005 ID: fa3034

>>1053962
So what, he can paint himself as a savior in the aftermath? Moot, how can he prove he's legit?
>>
No. 1054006 ID: 15c72a

If Moot doesn't want to be a lacky, then she can just demand to be in charge.
>>
No. 1054014 ID: c28082

>>1053962

Odd metaphor, but fitting, considering the destruction this war has already caused. Alright, fair enough. Tell us about your stitches, and maybe we'll prove partial to your methods, vampire.
>>
No. 1054017 ID: 9a2966

>>1054005
Proving his intentions would be the big 'un here. This is a tough sell, as he surely can tell.

If he renounced his old ways - this damn game of pawns and players, toying with people's lives and deaths - and abandoned his whole damn necr-operation here to come with her... that'd be a neat start. Moot could enforce it, too - he'd only be able to go where and when she pleased if she dumped him somewhere his physical form couldn't easily escape in-between whatever tasks he's got planned. And if he offed his physical form to escape spiritually, she'd know during a check-in.

If he really has a plan that only needs him and her - if he can swear to this - then he won't need any of these armies and trappings of rule, yeah? Then that's the price for Moot's power is his power. His role and authority, now and forever, ceded to the people. Moot ain't gonna prop up some lich just for him to get away with lording over everyone in the end, no matter how well-intentioned.

Or the two of them can start duking it out now - and he can see how long it'll take him to get back from the furthest reach she can push her portals. There's some... interesting places out there.
>>
No. 1054019 ID: 9c856e

>>1053981

Hekal's a cat (at least in his current body), Moot's a cat, it's not too far-fetched an idea. They clearly end up trusting each other quite a bit, so who knows how far it went with time
>>
No. 1054021 ID: 2a82d3

>>1053981
Even kids aren't the exact model of their parents. This is more along the lines of reincarnation. That could've been was her final measure to keep his ambitions in check and ensure he'd live up to his word: a way of having "her" see the results of his efforts through fresh eyes.

As to the question of whether they "were intimate", it has horrifying yet intriguing implications. She would not even remotely consider it unless he proves here and now he can eventually, and perhaps literally, warm up to her as a person not a tool.
>>
No. 1054026 ID: 889865

>>1054021

To be fair, we've already seen Casey get intimate with Sir Opinel, a literal animated dead body. In contrast, I think the body a vampire usually inhabits might still be alive.
>>
No. 1054085 ID: 9272af
File 167409690044.png - (123.45KB , 587x700 , 15-34.png )
1054085

“This is fuck’n weird…” Moot scratches her ear, shifting uncomfortably as the warlord begs for her assistance. “So what, you want me to help beat all the vampires, then you take over? Rule the world?”

Hekal looks at the arraignment of forces on his war room table and sighs. “I don’t deserve to rule this world. I’ve been running this machine of death out of pure, delusional spite. It would be best for it to end and be forgotten. If you help me seal the wells and stop the wars, you may do with me whatever you see fit.” 

“What about them?” Augustine asks, one finger poking at the map, “All them men? You just gonna leave em? They gonna be forgotten too?”

“Yes. I must trust them to do what they can in my absence.” The warlord says simply, with a twinge of regret behind his cold voice. “The longer they continue to draw power from me, the more the lust for mana will consume them. They’re good soldiers and I can’t imagine my betrayal will be easy for them, but I cannot lead them any further.” 
>>
No. 1054086 ID: 9272af
File 167409691959.png - (165.33KB , 700x500 , 15-35.png )
1054086

Madame Moot paces as she thinks, her face scrunched up in a scowl. She huffs, clearly having come prepared for a fight, and now being asked to make a deal with a hated enemy. 

She spins on her heel and points with the sword of light, accidentally lopping a chair in half in the process. “Whats to stop you from doing a double-cross when we’re done, then? You know: when I’m not useful?” 

“An astute thought.” Hekal admits, which prompts a satisfied grin from the cat. “What do you propose?” 
>>
No. 1054088 ID: 43bc19

May be easier said than done for Rodwin, he's dedicated all those centuries in a giant dog to his master's vision.
>>
No. 1054124 ID: fa3034

Some sort of collateral, assurance, physical or spiritual proof of pact.
>>
No. 1054128 ID: c29e6e

Cue graves falling into existential dread.

>>1054124
A good thought. There's nothing more binding than a contract made by a fae.
>>
No. 1054130 ID: 2a82d3

Simple. Be a pain in the ass to double-cross. Be the student that has to and will one day surpass the rival master one day. (Basically, a shonen protagonist.) Train herself to eventually be his better in a variety of ways, and in a way prove herself always useful. If her magic fails him, her strength won't. If her strength fails him, her leadership won't.

If he's abandoning his army, obviously there will be a power vacuum to take advantage of. Was it actually comprised of all undead, or were some merely conscripted to be such? Getting her start liberating people from such fates, providing salvation from undeath, it's no wonder she'd be remembered as a saint. It works as a test of character too: in his absence, do they serve the man, for his power, or for his ideals? Only the third group could make the counter-intuitive decision he's making today.
>>
No. 1054135 ID: e5709d

There's only one viable means to ensuring an all-consuming undead overlord will lay down and die to a mere mortal at her command:

Link your souls together.

Ensure that if she dies, he dies with her. If she suffers, he'll suffer as well. If he throws her down a well and deprives her senses to keep her unconscious and as a new source of power, that just empowers the passive sense-share generated through the soul-link, which will allow her to assume direct control of Hekal.

Maybe add a third soul as an overwatch, to ensure he can't run circles around her.
>>
No. 1054136 ID: 15c72a

>>1054086
A truly binding pact will require assistance from a Fae.
>>
No. 1054139 ID: 8c7af7

"Gonna teach us how to seal a well, will ya? I see you've got one, yerself"

Even just knowing where and how he draws his power, and how to end it, is a pretty good assurance for a teleporter
>>
No. 1054141 ID: 904418

>>1054139

Yep. They gotta start somewhere. Sealing Hekal's own well, a vampire's most precious resource, would the best gesture of commitment he could offer
>>
No. 1054144 ID: 7309d2

This quest has been running so long, I'm no longer sure how much I remember from previous ones. How much have been said prior to this on Hekal's own attitude towards the war? I just also found his propasal not completely in line with his status. If he could provide a bit more on his motivation behind the change of heart it might be more convincing.
>>
No. 1054428 ID: 9272af
File 167443161955.png - (98.19KB , 700x500 , 15-36.png )
1054428

Augustine chews her lip for a moment and says, in halting tones, “Ow ‘bout… we get us a third party? Right? Maybe one of them Fae? I ain’t dealt with them much, but rules is rules with them.”

“There aren’t many Fae willing to deal with me, but you may be on to something. There’s someone I’ve had an eye on; perhaps they can be of help.” The vampire nods in sagely agreement. “Someone they call ‘the Teacher’.”

“An another thing: you want my trust? You gotta show me how to seal a well. You can start with yer own well.”

“I anticipated as much, and agree to your terms.”
Hekal stands up, a full head shorter than the Sender founder. “My well is here,” he points to a spot on the map, “Impossibly hidden in a place with no name. Can you take us there?”
>>
No. 1054429 ID: 9272af
File 167443162332.png - (202.74KB , 700x700 , 15-37.png )
1054429

The cat nods and rips open a gate with a claw.

The vampire approaches and examines the gate spell. The ragged edge shivers with a furious, uncontrolled energy: the sign of a self taught mage.

“Fascinating, its less of a ‘thing’ and more of a ‘place’…” he comments.

“Yeah don’t touch it, lest ya want ta lose a finger.” Augustine holds up a hand, revealing an unusually short pinky.

The vampire nods and steps through, “You know, with some experimentation, I daresay you could make it much safer…” He steps through the blinding light and into history, followed closely by Madam Moot.
>>
No. 1054434 ID: 36784c

>>1054429
Well? What are you waiting for Gabe? You saw the spot Hekal pointed at on the map. Can't you work the mercury device to look at where Hekal and Moot are going?
>>
No. 1054441 ID: 43bc19

>>1054428
By the sea huh? I've got a hunch the answer was under everyone's feet the whole time.
>>
No. 1054449 ID: fa3034

>>1054429
The start of something great..
>>
No. 1054469 ID: 2f94e0

Rather surprised to learn Hekal's well isn't buried directly under his citadel or something. While I suppose keeping it hidden is just as good if not better than keeping it defended, how would you even hide something as powerful as an open mana well to begin with?
>>
No. 1054487 ID: edfb1b

Interesting. Is he responsible for making the portals a lot less jagged later on?
>>
No. 1054491 ID: 7b65e9

that.... would explain why the Barghast went back to Moot Point isn't it?
>>
No. 1054500 ID: 823a1a

I wonder if the scrying machine can go through that portal, it is "more of a place than a thing" after all
>>
No. 1054577 ID: a5218e

>>1054491

Nah, Rodwin took the Barghast to Moot Point because of the lichfire flare that Adrian shot up, thinking it could be something connected to Hekal.
>>
No. 1054596 ID: 7b65e9

>>1054577
That's right, I forgot about that.
Still, would make a good combo of circumstances...
>>
No. 1054635 ID: 9272af
File 167461407513.png - (148.68KB , 500x700 , 15-38.png )
1054635

“Follow them, Gabe!” Kol insists.

The mouse pushes the spell forward, passing through the plane of the gate spell. Gabe rotates the viewpoint, “Crap! Looks like we can’t follow them.”

“Did you catch where they were going on the map?” Casey asks.

“Yeah…” Gabe nods, “It looked like it was that wasteland Sifr took us too. The one poisoned with spite.”
>>
No. 1054646 ID: 15c72a

I guess we're going to find out why it was poisoned, then... Maybe one of Hekal's lieutenants found out about the plan and fought the duo?
Should be easy to find this time. We have a timestamp, and a location, and the gate should be easy to spot.
>>
No. 1054679 ID: 03f49f

Uh oh. I'm going to hazard a guess that their first attempt at sealing a well didn't go, uh, well...
>>
No. 1054681 ID: 9a2966

>>1054679
Or maybe there's one well left - and they needed to hide it but good. Somewhere that would only be accessible to someone with Madame Moot's skills.
>>
No. 1054689 ID: 9272af
File 167469756682.png - (138.93KB , 500x700 , 15-39.png )
1054689

“Can you navigate us there?” Kol asks.

Gabe pauses to think and nods. “I- I think so. Might take a while. Maybe an hour or so? Hekal said it was hidden, so maybe longer.”

Three-Horns speaks up to remind them, “My shielding spell won’t last that long. It may be better to retire for now and return after we’re rested.”
>>
No. 1054710 ID: e5a713

>>1054689
Fair enough. Let's break off and assess what we just learned. Cause this is literally history.
>>
No. 1054719 ID: e12308

Darn, I guess that rules out visiting his well, unless somebody knows how to protect themselves from Spite for an extended search. Hopefully we won’t need to try.
>>
No. 1054723 ID: 15c72a

>>1054689
Alright. How long until another cast?
>>
No. 1054726 ID: e5709d

We need to think about what we're going to say to Rodwin and the rest of Hekal's regiment. They aren't going to take the fact that Hekal effectively gave up on them well; sure, he wanted them to 'live' but he also made it clear they could never save the world and became unimportant to his greater plans.

Maintain the machine, we don't want it breaking down after this.
>>
No. 1054731 ID: bbb04b

Yeah, let's assess; we already had our suspicions from the journal, but it's starting to look like Hekal might be the third member of the original Guardians and the inventor of medium magic.

We should also be on our guard as we delve deeper; dream oracles aren't infallible, I'm pretty sure, but I'm also confident in saying they aren't normally this fallible with their recent losses. We can't dismiss the possibility that this one merely sacrificed a few playing-pieces to try and get us to where they want us to be. Such as uncovering the location of a hated foe for them - one that escaped the scope of their powers. Or perhaps uncover a way to undo the sealing of the wells. (It doesn't sound like the Court of the Reflected Sky are really fans of what the Guardian Trio did.)
>>
No. 1054736 ID: cd8054

"retire for now and return after we’re rested"

Translation: Sex, likely with another kobold orgy~

Also, who wants to bet that something will happen to the machine that disables it before it can be used again? Maybe an attack from the Court of the Reflected Sky. This one scrying could be the only one they get, and they'll have to find another way to get the rest of the story.
>>
No. 1054762 ID: 9272af
File 167478762931.png - (175.06KB , 700x500 , 15-40.png )
1054762

“Fair enough, I’d rather not be around all this mercury without protection.” Kol agrees, his dreads bobbing as he nods. “About how long would it take to recover?”

The kobold leader closes her eyes for a moment, gauging her remaining mana supply. She responds, “Three or four hours with food and rest.”

The mice share a few glances of silent communication and Kol speaks up, “Sounds good. That’ll give us time to unpack everything we saw and try to figure out what to tell Rodwin. I doubt he’s going to be happy hearing Hekal betrayed him.”

As the group turns to leave, Graves raises a bony hand. “Um, I don’t need actually need any protection. I can’t navigate as well as Gabe, but if you give me a map and point me in the right direction, I could steer things for a bit.”
>>
No. 1054764 ID: 7accea

I still think regrouping is the better idea. And even if he's dead the Mercury could still do something to his bones, but I'm no doctor so don't quote me on it.

If he double insists though it "should" be fine.
>>
No. 1054767 ID: e12308

How does Graves feel about Hekal's actions?
>>
No. 1054769 ID: 15c72a

>>1054762
Before Graves uses the device, we need to break the news.
>>
No. 1054772 ID: f8083d

I think it's best to discover whatever it has to show together.
>>
No. 1054792 ID: fa3034

Let's still take our rest but have Graves go ahead of the others so by the time they're rested he should be pulling up to the appointed place.
>>
No. 1054793 ID: 36784c

>>1054769
What are you talking about? If you're saying we need to tell Graves about what we saw, then there's no need to do that because he's been in the room the entire time. He already knows.
>>
No. 1054795 ID: cd8054

Oh yeah, just how delicate is Kol gonna have to be, breaking this news to Rodwin? He spent so long and sacrificed so much searching for his lost lord, taking care of the army as best he could, all out of love and loyalty. To find out it was all for nothing, and that Hekal not only never wanted to be found but willingly abandoned him... what's gonna happen if the person currently in control of an undead army gives in to despair?
>>
No. 1054802 ID: c28082

>>1054762

Good idea! We can let Graves maintain the spell so we needn't go through the whole process after we start the thing up again. Definitely owe him a favor later, for this.

As for Rodwin, however, was he honestly betrayed, or had Hekal simply taken an opportunity given to him to end things quickly and decisively, rather than in a drawn-out war? It might not be the resolution he desired, but it may be best to let Rodwin decide the matter for himself.

The two were close enough for such confidence, so perhaps ... perhaps the truth won't come as quite so unexpected or bitter, after all these centuries.
>>
No. 1054891 ID: 8eee37

>>1054762
Good idea, but when the gang comes back Graves should leave and clean himself up. Being dead doesn't mean you can't become contaminated.
>>
No. 1054918 ID: cfb4f1

Hekal claims he can't be killed, but what about Sending? You know, that thing Gabe does when he opens a portal to the afterlife so a spirit can move on. I think that's what Moot eventually ends up doing to Hekal. After all, if Gabe can do it to a lich, then it's not too hard to believe that Moot could do it to Hekal after she figures out how to do it and when Hekal consents to it.

>>1054762
As long as Graves isn’t following some secret orders to prevent anyone from discovering the truth, which will result in him destroying the mercury machine, then yes he can do this solo.
>>
No. 1055029 ID: 9272af
File 167513326371.png - (175.79KB , 553x700 , 15-41.png )
1055029

“Actually, I’d like to get your opinion on everything first.” Kol says, his eyes flitting to his two partners. “Considering everything we just saw… how do you feel? How do you think Rodwin is going to feel? How do we break the news?”

Graves glances over his shoulder at the rippling mercury mirror and sags under his robe. “Sure… let’s, go sit somewhere.”

A short trip on the stone elevator later, and the party reconvenes in one of the communal areas of the kobold tribe. A couple of villagers stare curiously at the outsiders before being shoo’ed away by Tree-Horns.

Graves sits on a stone bench with a clatter and stares into the hearth. “This is… quite a bit to take in. I’m trying to wrack my memory for any hint that Hekal may have harbored these feelings about...everything, but… I’m finding nothing.”

“What about Rodwin? Will he be able to handle it?” Casey asks.

“I don’t know. He’s trying to hold the bargast together with willpower and his mana reserves. If that fails, it could all crumble.” Graves’s voice is haunting and quiet. “He was betrayed by his court once before and remained proud and powerful in defeat. But this is different. He’s waited so long. There has to be some reason why! Something more than what we just heard.”
>>
No. 1055046 ID: bf44a0

We could only hope. I can't imagine a man so calculating and good to his soldiery had no reason to end it like this without a way to put them to rest.

But he also seemed to really not want anyone finding out. Were there any glory hounds in the ranks that would want this fighting to last forever or at least to the end? Someone who would rebel and sabotage his efforts in aligning with Miss moot?
>>
No. 1055047 ID: f8083d

Perhaps we can look at if from another angle: Hekal was looking for solutions to end the war, preferably without taking a total defeat, and that he made no secret of (since he was discussing it with Rodwin before Moot arrived).

Hekal managed to get Madame Moot with him on a scheme that didn't just greatly weaken the Courts, but ended a whole age. Regardless of what happened to the man himself, Hekal actually won the war with this plan. The only thing wrong is that so few people know of it.
>>
No. 1055048 ID: 15c72a

Alright, here's the plan. First, we keep tracking him until we see his final fate, or to the full extent that we can follow him.
If that doesn't give a clue as to his motives, then we can start looking into his past actions. Let's work backwards, starting from when he first sent Moot that summons.
>>
No. 1055059 ID: e12308

It's entirely possible that He's still alive out there somewhere. Especially if it turns out he was the one who developed medium magic. Either way, we might be using this machine to track him for a long while
>>
No. 1055093 ID: 9a2966

>>1055047
Well, there is wrong in that Hekal left the faction and supporters he had - probably painstakingly built - just to wander for eternity searching for him. Even if he allied with the Guardians, it's notable that they never tied up that loose end, for good or ill.

The question is why? What happened to let they AND Hekal leave them be despite the Guardians' apparent victory?

To reassure Graves, I think we can answer why Hekal left them to start with. At least, on a purely practical level. You don't drop good tools - or good friends - on a whim and you don't not keep a backup plan if you're a centuries-old lich (Right, Muir?). When he set off doing this, Hekal did not know for sure Moot and the Guardians were going to succeed. In a way, he preserved some of his forces and left a card up his sleeve by just leaving them in Rodwin's hands. Moot certainly wouldn't have accepted their help without reservation. So, if need be, Hekal may have planned to return to them if things went bad and his plans awry.

That they did not, and then that he did not, suggests something happened to him to leave him unable to. Perhaps the binding contract forged by the Fae was too strong. That his mana well is surrounded by Spite also suggests... that perhaps something dire occurred at a point. Whether an unintended consequence, a falling out, or just their enemies catching up to Moot and Hekal and causing havoc at his source of power - it remains to be seen.

Maybe it's time we spoke to our two golem-inhabiting mediums again? If they were contemporary to Madame Moot - someone must've trained them to become mediums. And that someone may be Hekal - or at least someone who was trained by him in turn. So let's get some oral! ...history going here!
>>
No. 1055094 ID: 9a2966

>>1055093
Oh, and someone give poor Graves a hug. He must be pretty out of it. Reassure him that - kobolds willing, since it's their home and tool now - there is definitely space for him to investigate the matter better, get a fuller truth (and you certainly want that as well!).

>hint that Hekal may have harbored these feelings
Sometimes, like a sunbeam refracting through a crystal, you get to see hidden facets of people. No doubt Hekal's and Moot's stories were complex ones, from start to finish, and maybe the full of it will be hard to ever know - although with Muir's tool, there's a possibility.

But rather than spend days and years investigating it, you prefer to think of it this way: the way their stories reverberate to this day in the people and teachings they left behind and made a future for...? You don't think they were bad people, even if they kept things hidden. You don't believe in a Hekal who callously threw his followers aside. Something happened, for sure.
>>
No. 1055103 ID: 9272af
File 167530500510.png - (173.82KB , 700x500 , 15-42.png )
1055103

“Well, if you look at it one way: Hekal wanted to end the war by any means necessary. That was no secret, right?” Casey points out. “And in that sense, he succeeded without committing his forces to combat. He may have just been trying to keep his troops safe.”

“True.” Graves admits before continuing, “Although it’s not like us undead were ever afraid of falling in battle. And why did he vanish? Why not tell anyone about his plan?”

Kol nods sympathetically, “Its something I’d like to know too. It seems like he was the creator of the Path of the Mediums, but why hide it? We could try tracing them forward in time and see if there’s any more clues.”

“That’s going to be hard if he’s traveling with Madame Moot. We’re going to end up chasing them around, assuming we even know where they’re going.” Gabe leans forward, his chin cradled in his hands. “Might be better to check his past. It’ll be easier to track.”

“That's going to be very time and energy consuming, either way.” Three-Horns scowls from her spot near the fire. “I only have so much mana to keep you protected.”

“Speaking of mana: Rodwin needs some way of stabilizing the bargast before it collapses. We’re running out of time.” Casey sighs, feeling the seconds tick away as indecision faces them.

“Maybe we should ask Pezzi and Rufus again.” Kol suggests, “Now that we know Hekal was the founder of the Path, they might have more insight about what happened to him.”
>>
No. 1055104 ID: 9272af
File 167530501038.png - (138.52KB , 557x700 , 15-43.png )
1055104

Casey gives him a business-like nod and stands up, stretching her back after sitting on the stone floor. “Good idea. Mr. Graves, why don’t you work on navigating the quicksilver machine while we’re at it?”

“If you insist…” The skeleton’s hollow voice seems a bit more despondent as he stands to leave.

“Hey…”

Graves turns around and is surprised when a pair of arms surround him. His bones shift under the heavy robe, feeling living warmth envelop them for the first time in centuries. “Eh!? What’s this?” He asks.

“It’ll be okay.” Casey tells him, “There has to be a reason for all of this. We’ll figure it all out, together.”

"Th-thank you... for everything." The undead relaxes in her embrace and continues, "Yeah... we'll come up with something." When Casey lets go, the skeleton stands up straighter, as if her compassion lit a fire within him.
>>
No. 1055105 ID: a67004

>>1055104
So how are they gonna take him to the bonezone if he has no bone to zone?
>>
No. 1055106 ID: 7a6db2

>>1055105
Ochre still has an ample collection of toys
>>
No. 1055107 ID: f24c1a

>>1055104
Perhaps it's time to get something to eat and elevate our feet. They've been standing for a while.
>>
No. 1055122 ID: 7309d2

Hekal's past...that's hundreds if not thousands of years, how are we going to check on that?

Supposedly Graves could provide a list of important moments for the vampire's realm, and we look through them try to gain some insight on how Hekal feels on an individual level. Still sounds like a stretch.
>>
No. 1055174 ID: 9272af
File 167548347163.png - (217.50KB , 700x500 , 15-44.png )
1055174

“I’ll head back up to the machine and try to find where Hekal went. It’ll keep me occupied, at least.” Graves states, his voice growing more confident.

Gabe opens a small gate and pulls out a rolled up map, “If you follow the river to the ocean and follow the coastline south for… I’d say forty minutes, it’ll put you in the right area. Then head inland for about a half hour, until you reach a flat plain.” The mouse frowns and looks down at the map, “Around here… though finding the well might be tricky.”

“I’ll do my best.” Graves takes the map and stuffs it in his robe.

“We’ll catch up with you once Three-Horns is ready. In the meantime, we’ll go see what Pezzi and Rufus are up to.”

Three-Horns leads the trio down a flight of stairs to a larger building with a cloth draped over its doorway. The kobold leader strides inside with the confidence of a tiny ruler and the mice follow behind.

Casey waves as her eyes adjust to the change in light. “Hey guys, do you have a minute? Oh! Hi!”

The two robots pause their grinding as light slips into their chambers. “Oh? We didn’t expect you guys for a while, but you can join if you like.” Rufus says with a grin.
>>
No. 1055185 ID: fa3034

Maybe we can relax and watch for a little bit before we decide if we're up for it. Give them a cliff notes version but try not to kill the mood.
>>
No. 1055188 ID: d39f7f

What does Three Horns think? Seems good if Three Horns is up to it!
>>
No. 1055192 ID: 361b88

>>1055185
Can't imagine how it wouldn't kill the mood. I would imagine that everybody could use a bit of something something to relieve the tension, though. As long as we don't take too long.
>>
No. 1055210 ID: e7be99

Investigations can wait, robo-sex beckons~
>>
No. 1055214 ID: 9a2966

We're about to drop some heavy stuff on them. Let them have some fun first.


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