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File 170026888272.png - (378.49KB , 800x600 , sep-title.png )
1077498 No. 1077498 ID: e139aa

Somebody Else's Problem
a Flockload of Problems Interlude
by Cirr
NSFW, 18+, etc.
C/W: nudity, violence, high risk of sex, drugs and rock-n'-roll

Still with apologies to Lagotrope, Slinko, Typo and Roaway.

Disthread: >>/questdis/139947
Expand all images
>>
No. 1077499 ID: e139aa
File 170026889723.png - (222.78KB , 800x600 , sep-1.png )
1077499

Please select a lens.
All will have their turn in time.

1. The Captive - He never expected these things to take him alive.
2. The Sentinel - She would chase this phantom to the end of the world.
3. The Witch - She could not ignore the dreams of the cave deep below.
4. The Investigator - He found the perfect spot, and the thing already lurking there.
5. The Raider - She gave them a reason to fear as she took what little they had left.
6. The New Guy - He thought he knew what he was getting into.
>>
No. 1077500 ID: 99f29a

1.
>>
No. 1077501 ID: 8e6882

3.
>>
No. 1077502 ID: a7a180

5!
>>
No. 1077503 ID: cc7ddf

3, because of the most stylish hat
>>
No. 1077504 ID: 1ff64e

3 is cute, I vote that!
>>
No. 1077506 ID: b42d1e

1.
>>
No. 1077507 ID: 8f9bc4

6 might get into the undefinable horror of the blot theblottheblottt
>>
No. 1077508 ID: 32ef95

>>1077498
4
>>
No. 1077509 ID: 2a82d3

...5
>>
No. 1077510 ID: 0a437e

3, lets see what other weirdness is in this world for a witch to be
>>
No. 1077511 ID: 197bc6

Would go with 4 because INVESTIGATING! However dude needs pants, so *2*. Disciplined warfighter sounds gud even if from a pacifistic culture. Still beats the warrior culture of 1 but best balance is in between IMO.
>>
No. 1077512 ID: f3fb1d

Definitly 4
>>
No. 1077513 ID: 0d10a3

3!
>>
No. 1077514 ID: de5cb4

3
>>
No. 1077515 ID: 0a437e

I also really want to throw a vote at 4 too, really
>>
No. 1077516 ID: 3d61ea

Mmm 4
>>
No. 1077521 ID: 273c18

>>1077499
3. Heh, you can tell these aren't ketzas from the visible breasts.
>>
No. 1077522 ID: 32a515

>>1077499
5
>>
No. 1077523 ID: db478f

5
>>
No. 1077525 ID: 2aa5f0

my OCD demands we go in order
1.
PS, I don't actually mind were we start
>>
No. 1077528 ID: 7a99fe

The investigator seems cool so 4
>>
No. 1077530 ID: 8f9bc4

We must go in LIFO order 654321
>>
No. 1077531 ID: ad16e3

An interesting cast of characters, glad we'll see all of them. Number 5
>>
No. 1077536 ID: ba9785

:3
>>
No. 1077555 ID: e139aa
File 170033313645.png - (251.27KB , 800x600 , sep-2.png )
1077555

LAI MOON, THE FEHUAN WITCH

The gifted are many among my kind. The spark of flame spreads through our blood, a force we can call upon to light the way or ward off the darkness.
Some have this stronger than others.

My own flame was a tiny little flicker. Back when it still shone with the warmth of burning wood, and not the cool radiance of yearned purple.
But it still lights the way.

For days and nights I have been preparing. Every price that needed to be paid, fulfilled in advance.
In my mind I retain four incantations, wriggling, begging to be spoken into the world again. I consider the names I gave them to keep them chained. Stone-as-wax. Quick-mend. Speak-to-dead. Blot-bubble. I will have to negotiate further if I need any more.

I stare into the Eye of the Yearning, the world stained lavender, a rare event, as my familiar Once-Wish paces around, grinning.

Most would not dare to be outside on such a night, when the things from above the sky and below the earth stir.

I am not most.
>>
No. 1077556 ID: e139aa
File 170033315913.png - (455.85KB , 800x600 , sep-3.png )
1077556

"It stares back into you, you know, mistress."
"So they say."
"You're awfully serious tonight. What has got the great and mighty Lai Moon so concerned?"

I find his banter irritating, and, of course, his smile grows wider, his voice a little more grating.
"Oh, come on," he says, eyes widening. "You can't be that annoyed by a simple question."
"Perhaps in your tone."
"We're friends, aren't we?" A subtle shift in my perception adds a sparkling to his eyes, an innocence to the smile. "Despite everything we've been through? Yes, I like being this better. We are friends to the end."

He looks up into the sky, and frowns. "I feel more fluid under Its gaze. You're squishing me around like wet clay. Let's get going before you make me go splat."

He looks at me and notices a stifled grin on my face, and rolls his eyes, annoyed. "Don't picture me going splat, please. I like being able to move."
"You're tempting me."
"Stooop!"

My familiar rolls onto his back, kicking his legs around playfully. Through our connection, I feel it is an act. He is as nervous about the task ahead as I am.

Leaping beside me, we head down into the darkness, the obscured stairway laid bare before the yearning purple sky.
>>
No. 1077557 ID: e139aa
File 170033320180.png - (492.39KB , 800x600 , sep-4.png )
1077557

And as we move down, I step more cautiously, as Once-Wish looks around unhindered by darkness as always.

"Picture me as a river," he says, and I am once again unsure if he means it literally or is making a cryptic boast.
"I don't want to get my feet wet."
"A river with no water, then? You can't see me, can you?"

I hold aloft my flickering flame, the birthright of the fehuan. I see only shadows of stone cast against a dim violet.
"I think you're a rock."
"Well I'm clearly not! Look harder!!"
I look around and see the gleam of his eyes in the darkness, and move my flame closer. There he is, as he always is. Larger than before.
"Hello friend," he says, with a faint purr. "It's awfully cramped down here, isn't it?"

I feel his breathing on my feathers and I shiver. He stops, trying to breathe more gently.
"I do not mean to scare you."
"That's not what I'm worried about," I say.
"It is. Please. I do not want to hurt you. We need each other."

Visions of Once-Wish erupting into teeth and claws and gore plague my memory. As I picture them I hear Once-Wish growl in the pain of an unwanted, resisted shift, so I try to focus on the present moment.
Our last outing ended in violence, and he did it to save me. But I saw a thing he could be, and, necessarily, a thing I could be.
Maybe they were right to throw me out of the palace.

But if I find the thing my dreams have been leading me towards...

I arrive at the bottom, and it looks like the corridor ends in solid rock. Betrayed, of course, by symbols inscribed by the spirits of the world, and iropte magics, no doubt. I recognise the most prominent symbol as one the iropte use to represent the Yearning, or one of its secret truths. Convergence and divergence. Waterfall into whirlpool, or spring into delta. I'm not sure. I'm not sure if it's a sealing symbol itself, but it's definitely a warning.
>>
No. 1077558 ID: e139aa
File 170033323875.png - (104.74KB , 800x600 , sep-5.png )
1077558

"What are we here for again?" I hear the scrabbling of Once-Wish's claws on the stone.
"Redemption."
"I can't be redeemed, I did no wrong. There is nothing to redeem me for. And the same is true for you! You didn't do anything wrong!"

Once-Wish moves his face next to mine, and I realise he must be as tall as me in this darkness, if not taller.
He rests two very soft hands (paws?) onto my shoulders. As he leans into me, his fur brushes against my feathers, and I realise he's taken a more upright form.

"They're just scared of you. Do you think this will make them less scared of you, wandering on your own into an abandoned shrine? Sealed to guard against whatever horrors lurk within?"
"How do you know what's inside?"
"I was going to tell you before you tried, but, well... something is in there, yes. Under the light of the Yearning, I just knew. It's something bad. Something like me, but untethered. It's much more powerful than us, Lai. Or, well, maybe more powerful than either of us, but not us."
"You could have told me before we came down into this dark cramped stairway."
"Yes, but, I didn't, because I knew it wouldn't change your mind. You want something, you go after it. Every time! I tell you otherwise, you tell me to stop worrying!"
"Being worried isn't good for you. You particularly." Once-Wish can't shape himself with his own perception particularly well, but it can happen, and the runaway escalation can be a problem.
"Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away."

After a heavy moment of silence, he grins again. "Otherwise I'd have disappeared into nothing long ago, right?"
"You're not a problem. We've been over this."
"No, I am your friend forever. Two hearts beating as one." He gently takes my hand, and puts it on his chest, as he puts a hand on my chest. He's done this so many times before that, of course, I am not surprised when I feel his heart beat in synchronicity with mine, but he seems to find some comfort in the gesture, so I do too, as his calm flows through me. "Your problems are my problems. I don't want you to break your heart when they turn around and kick you out again. It'll break mine too. We'll do this, but steel yourself."

I look into his sad eyes and waver for a second, before I pull myself together. I can waste more time with useless sentimentality or I can try and figure out a way past these seals. I don't recognise most of them, so trying to undo them is going to take a long time, and probably alert whatever is inside. Or I can call upon Stone-as-wax to just melt my way through the surrounding rock. Or I can ask Once-Wish for a new incantation, and Once-Wish can determine the price that needs to be paid.

As strong as magic of the Yearning can be, it does always require a price. Usually, the price for asserting one's own wishes onto the universe is to surrender to the wishes of the universe in return. Once-Wish, as a creature from the Yearning, intuitively knows what prices can be paid, and often figures out what the cheapest ones can be, or cheating prices that also benefit me. I just would need to tell him what I want to do.

"What would it take to get through this obviously sealed door?"
"I smell Stone-as-wax in you. You've got this covered. But if you want to keep it in reserve, I guess, I can fetch you Barrier-break if you're willing to either bind your legs and arms together for a full day and night, or get trapped under rocks later at the most inconvenient time. If you go for the postponement, try to not be under high ceilings, I guess."
"How far away would that 'inconvenient time' be?"
"Lai, I'm not a prophet!! It'll just happen! Usually soon!"
"What about Skip-through?"
"Yeah I checked the prices on that and you don't want that. You like your legs unbroken, right? I thought so."

So, I can use Stone-as-wax, choose a price for Barrier-break, or perhaps try to undo the seals at the cost of potentially alerting whatever is inside to my intrusion.
Or, perhaps, alerting someone else nearby.
>>
No. 1077559 ID: 99f29a

If you're so big and bad, might as well chat with the other horrors. Undo the seals and say hi.
>>
No. 1077560 ID: a7a180

How soon do you have to bind your limbs? Because if you and Once-wish aren’t doing anything later…
>>
No. 1077561 ID: fa3034

>>1077560
Fair point, It could just as easily be something fun if you can get someplace safe before the bind. That is of course if you and Once-Wish have that sort of relationship.
>>
No. 1077563 ID: 0a437e

Given you are going underground, "most inconvienient time" would be VERY inconvenient indeed, something you'd either have to keep Stone-As-Wax for (which... why not spend it now) or pay a great cost to get out of.
Assuming you have to be Bound now in order to get the Spell now, and you seem to need your arms for magic, and might need your legs for running, also a Bad Idea
Given you are going Underground Stone-As-Wax is going to be a very useful Trump should Problems occur
Try to Undo the Seals then, maybe you'll even learn something
>>
No. 1077569 ID: 8f9bc4

Stone-as-wax. You have stone, you need past it. Worry about futures you can predict, not ones you have no idea what will occur.

If you use Barrier-break, then the moment you discover a need for stone-as-wax, the ceiling will collapse on top of your head. You could use stone-as-wax to escape the fallen stone, but then you'll still need stone-as-wax, and on top of it the cavein will have alerted whatever lurks down here.
>>
No. 1077571 ID: 2a82d3

You could be overthinking this. There aren't many other situations were softening stone would come in handy. Than again, it is handy if you need to make a swift exit.

Maybe you should take your time with this. You'd think he'd tell you if the monster behind this seal is someone he knows, but he's hidden information from you before.

>>1077561
I think it's too early to rush at this point. As it is, they feel like a magical girl and her familiar. (Similar dynamic between LG and VT, now that I think about it.) Maybe it'll work once the native and Transcendental are more experienced and grounded, respectively.
>>
No. 1077579 ID: b3eab7

Use stone-as-wax now. You'll see what else you need once you've seen what's inside without breaking stealth.
>>
No. 1077581 ID: 273c18

>>1077558
I'll vote stone-as-wax. You've got a spell that will work for this. Use it.
>>
No. 1077582 ID: 2aa5f0

turn that stone to wax and hope to god that the scary thing behind the door isn't right behind the door.
>>
No. 1077640 ID: 9cc4dc

>>1077571
LG & VT??
>>
No. 1077683 ID: 2a82d3

>>1077640
I meant LightGreen and Visimi, not VahaTi. Sorry.
>>
No. 1077687 ID: eb0a9c

Nah, you want to save your spell slots for a potential fight, especially at the beginning of a dungeon. Hack the door. If it goes badly, you bail and come back later.
>>
No. 1077821 ID: e139aa
File 170067564495.png - (226.64KB , 800x600 , sep-6.png )
1077821

> if you have that sort of relationship
I don't even know what sort of relationship we have. He wants to be close and distant at the same time. I mean, so do I. Are we using each other? Are we even friends? Can we be friends when the pact was made for such mutually selfish reasons? He is, at his worst, a parasite on my mind and memories. I am, at my worst, a slavemaster whipping him with my opinions and perspective. We are feeding off each other. We both know it. No one summons a familiar from the Yearning if their life is going well.

My mother was a witch too. She outlived her familiar. She was wise, though. Too wise. She learned how to tap into the unreal herself, and then, when I was between the worlds of the child and the adult, she was exiled from the Jade Falls, permanently, by the young King Shei himself, at his court's vehement insistance. The hat I wear is the last thing she made for me before I never saw her again. She told me not to follow her, not to throw away a comfortable life in the Palace just for her sake. I tried to run after her, but lost sight of her too soon.

And that night is when, streaked with tears and dirt, I saw the Eye in the sky, and I did the thing my mother always warned me never to do.
And I pulled Once-Wish from it, made the pact, and walked the path of the witch.

But the one thing my mother warned me was, if I ever made the same mistake as her, above all else, one thing.
Never, ever, ever fall in love with your familiar.
>>
No. 1077822 ID: e139aa
File 170067566681.png - (352.28KB , 800x600 , sep-7.png )
1077822

> use Stone-as-wax
Stone-as-wax it is.

"Hear me, unreal within," I say, as my feathers start to stand on end, faint crackles in the dark around me. "I name you Stone-as-wax, divergence of form, what cannot be and yet must."

Once-Wish shivers as the space around us begins to warp. The flavour of cotton fills my mouth, and a streak of ice running down my chest causes me to gasp, but I continue releasing the intangible from my memory.

"You, Stone-as-wax, you deny constancy, you are the bones of the earth rotting into flesh. Stone-as-wax, before me stands an obstacle to my wishes. I wish it made malleable. <Go forth.>"

I fight the urge to flinch as Yearning force surges from my mouth into the wall ahead of me, and I hear crackling and bubbling as the stone shifts and warps like thick wax before me.

I reach out and start pushing the rock aside as it bubbles heatlessly around me, my vision tinged with blues and purples as I continue my work into doing the completely impossible. The wall is, thankfully, much less thick than I was dreading, and it does not take much digging through it before I throw the last chunk of waxy distorted stone to one side.
"It's sticking in your feathers again," says Once-Wish, who makes a token effort of trying to widen the passage. We both know it doesn't matter. It likely won't be the same route we use to leave.
I shake my arms a little harder as flecks of stony wax all run off of it. "It'll fall out."
"Well, at least--"

We both stop as we see a second wall in front of us, with even more seals in front of us.

"...well, that's a particularly cruel trick," I say, the stone behind me bubbling and melting as the stone ahead of me stays resolute and firm.
"Wow, someone really, really didn't want anyone coming in, huh."
"Hold on a second."

I reach out and touch the second wall, and it ripples at my touch.

"I didn't think so."
Once-Wish makes a confused purr.
"If they could use all of these seals on the first wall, they would have. This is a trick meant to turn away the gullible."
"Or offer a second chance to turn around," says Once-Wish, shifting around uncomfortably.
"What's in here?"
"I don't know, but I don't like it. It smells familiar and I don't know why, and nothing I can think of is comforting."
"...what can you think of?"

Once-Wish rubs his paws over his body. Anxious. He's very anxious, right now. He keeps focusing on things like the feel of his fur, the beating of his heart, the air in his lungs. The chill of the dark. I can't read his mind, no, but these sensations and his awareness of them flow through him so strongly I can't help but notice. Things I take for granted, he's focusing on like precious gemstones. "Things I don't think I should say. Or think. I'm scared it'll colour your thoughts of me."
"Tell me. Now."
I can feel him grappling with an uncomfortable truth.

"...it smells like me, mistress," he says, head drooping. "And I don't know what that means, but nothing good."
"Maybe if we're lucky, it'll be as easy to negotiate with as you are."

I close my eyes and walk through the false wall. It can't stop me if I don't perceive it.
>>
No. 1077823 ID: e139aa
File 170067572964.png - (413.65KB , 800x600 , sep-8.png )
1077823

When I open my eyes again, I startle, and Once-Wish rushes to my side, holding me before I almost throw myself into an endless abyss of murky white.

The shrine should not be this large. Nothing underground should be this large. The ceiling towers overhead with a dizzying height that should not be possible for how far into the earth we travelled. Nothing about this is right. The space is wrong. I look up above and realise there is no ceiling. The dirty white abyss extends infinitely upwards and downwards.

I feel my heart racing, and I see Once-Wish clutch his own chest, panting.

"Mistress Lai, whatever's here can't be worth it. We should leave. This is powerful distortion. I think we might be wandering into a pocket of the Yearning itself."
"N-no, no. No! I came here to save the fehuan, I am not giving up like that!"
"You never told me what you thought was down here," says Once-Wish, staring into the empty horizon, the empty nothing up and down. Ahead is only this obsidian pathway, immaculately formed, gleaming. Light floods from all angles, directionless.
"The Palace of Mirrors is rotting. Down here... across here, wherever here is, there is an answer."
"How do you know this? Just dreams?"

Just dreams. The whispers of the unreal lapping at the shores of my mind, visions and knowledge offered to me for prices paid well in advance. 'Just dreams'.

Once-Wish looks at my quietly furious glare, and shakes his head. "No, I'm not being dismissive. I'm of the Yearning, I understand the power of dreams. But did anything else tell you?"
"I overheard that star knight mention it to his servant, a month before I was barred from the Palace. Something about a buried..." I try to remember the words, and realise I can't. "I didn't know what they were talking about, but something that would bring stability."
"The fehuan don't need the Palace," says Once-Wish, twisting one of his ears around in his hand. I realise he's kept a much more bipedal form.
"I liked you better as a silly little creature."
"Then I should be that, right?" He grins at me. "You're expecting danger. I'm in a halfway point between safe and danger. Also, maybe you just think I look better in a certain way like this."
"Gross."
"Hey, it's your subconscious! ...Are you blushing?"
"No. Sh-shut up. Whatever! Let's just keep moving."
>>
No. 1077824 ID: e139aa
File 170067577259.png - (158.72KB , 800x600 , sep-9.png )
1077824

We walk through this disquieting chamber, the length of which feels like it begins to stretch in pace with our walking.

"This is a trap," I say to myself.
"Maybe it's a trap for whatever's being held back down here," says Once-Wish.
"We can only hope."

I look behind me, and see there is no sign of wherever we came in.

A bolt of fear lances through me. Once-Wish's eyes widen as he realises, independently, what situation we're in.

"...I'm looking at prices for Return-wind right now," he says, after he regains his composure. "There's getting completely lost in a forest with no witnesses, deliberately throwing yourself knowingly into a dangerous situation that must cause you harm, leaving something you treasure behind to be stolen by wild birds, there's so many options here, do any of these sound like a fair trade for us leaving right now? Right now? Please? Please??"
"I don't remember thinking of you as a coward."
"That's a complete lie. You've always seen me as something small and cowardly. Do I have to tear someone else limb from limb before you stop chaining me to that?"

This time, when I recall the flashes of violence, he doesn't resist the change, and tries to hold onto it. He stays in his general form as his snout lengthens, teeth enlargen, muscles bulge ever so slightly.

"I will force you to pay a price to get us out of here if I have to," he says, as he seizes an opportunity to steer my perception.
Sadly, I can still tap into his emotions, and I feel the overwhelming taint of desperation for me to buy into the act.
"You can do no such thing."
"I will! I will! I am-- I am using you to live, Lai, our hearts are connected, if you die so do I! You do not need to be awake to keep me alive! I will force... I will..." I see him tearing up, as we both realise that his abrupt effort to scare me into making him less of a coward isn't working at all.

He falls to his knees as his features return to normal, and tries to fight weeping openly. He fails.
"Lai, I just want us to go back home," he says, a pathetic mess. It's all I can see him as.
"Tch."
"Why are you so cruel today? This isn't like you!"
"Why are you so unstable?"
"I don't know! The Eye of the Yearning was staring into me earlier, it always makes me feel everything more than usual! I'm sorry for threatening you, I just don't want to be here!"
"Why not?! We've been in dangerous places before. Why this place, specifically??"
"I don't know! I feel so scared, Lai. I don't understand it. I don't have any answers! Please treat me with more patience, I beg you, your harsh judgement is hurting me," he says, desperately trying to choke back the tears. "Please, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I would never hurt you on purpose, I just, I just thought scaring you might make me tougher, make me a better protector, I'm sorry! I'm sorry!! You must hate me. You should hate me!!"
I'm very annoyed, and yet my throat tightens as I watch him sob bitterly. I don't know what has him acting so weird, but there's a wide valley between irritation and hate.
I've tried again and again to reframe my perceptions to shape him more to what we want, but, no, it doesn't work like that. I don't know how it works. I think he's right. I think it's my reactions and perceptions on a level deeper than my conscious control can ever allow.
...I pull my hat down over my eyes so I can't see him as easily. For a moment, I wonder if his perception is affecting me, or if I really have become so cold and distant.
"I don't want to be this useless either, Lai!"
"You're not useless. I don't hate you, and you're not useless."
"I am! I am right now, anyway! Your judgement is right, it's always right! I'm a useless parasite, and all I do is make things worse, and I can't even tell you what's going on because I don't know either--"

He stops, and looks through his bleary tear-swimming eyes down the far end of this infinite obsidian pathway.
>>
No. 1077825 ID: e139aa
File 170067581304.png - (193.00KB , 800x600 , sep-10.png )
1077825

And then he stops sobbing, staring instead, paralysed by fear, as I look ahead further down the path, and see a writhing black mass approaching us. Or swallowing the space around us. It rolls in like an impatient fog.

"I have all the answers you could ever wish for," it says, voice emanating from all around us, a swirling multicoloured head on a crooked multi-jointed neck emerging from the blackness.

Once-Wish and I both freeze.

The head twitches around, its bulging eyes turning, its piercing gaze feeling like a knife dragged across my feathers.

"I have everything you could ever wish for. But sadly, your wishes do not matter at this point."

I try to speak, but my throat feels dry and taut. I realise I can no longer tell which of out of me and Once-Wish is more terrified.

"It is quite convenient you decided to deliver yourselves. When one of my pieces decided to commit to its mortality and die, I was furious! I cannot return the pieces of myself that die. How pleased I am to see a piece of that piece here before me. I am Wish! I am your creator, and to me you shall now return."
"What are you talking about," I manage to get out.
"Well, I will need to eat you in a more traditional matter, to get back the Wish-Felt in your veins. Do not worry! You will not survive the process! The other piece will not be so lucky. Some part of them will necessarily linger! Until I can figure out how to properly eat them too."

Wish-Felt was the name of my mother's familiar. He died before I was ever born. My mother didn't talk about him much, and she was always upset whenever I asked. Before she made my hat, she had made a soft toy when he was still around of what he looked like "in a more whimsical manner," and she gave it to me. I treasured it for my entire childhood. My mother would sometimes see me hugging it, and sometimes she'd hug me too, and on cold dark nights, I could hear her trying not to cry as she held both it and me.

Then I lost it one day. A courtier of the Palace found it and quickly burned it, fearing it was some sort of hexing totem.

I remember crying the whole day. And so did my mother. She thought she hid it, but I could tell.
>>
No. 1077826 ID: e139aa
File 170067587364.gif - (1.15MB , 800x600 , sep-11-opt.gif )
1077826

The jaws of the head of this monster open, teeth bristling, wider and wider. I see teeth lining its throat. I think. It's very, very hard to focus on the thing with it constantly shifting and distorting.

"If you would be so kind as to cooperate with this process, I will not chew and you may simply perish within my body as I swallow."

"I have questions!!" I squeak out. Mortal terror grips me, but I know the sorts of unreal that speak so many words love to keep talking.

"Haha! Sure! Why not! Oh this is such wonderful stimulation. To be perceived again! To converge on one branch and not be stretched thin across all! I will bask in your terror. It's not like you can leave or hurt me."

The jaw snaps shut into a horrifying grin. I flinch horribly at the sound. It grins wider.

"Honestly, it's not like I can leave either, but, you know, maybe once I get all of my missing pieces back, I can figure that one out later! Go on, half-piece, ask your questions of me! Ask them as long as you like! I am not real enough to die, but you, my little pieces, hold your lives in such high regard. I am in no rush! I will not die of thirst. Or exhaustion, if you choose to run! And you would not choose to die to avoid death, would you, little pieces?"

"Are you me," says Once-Wish, clutching onto himself as if his own grip on his own body will somehow save him.
"No, no, no, little piece, you are me. A part of me. One so rudely torn from my body like so many other pieces!"

The head stares at me with a wide grin.

"Didn't your mother tell you not to do that, young witch? Where did you think you were pulling your new best friend from? Did you think there would be no cost paid but your own? Behold the cost of reifying the unreal. I will eat you now, if you have no further questions."

Once-Wish points at the creature, recoiling when its gaze snaps to him. "Y-you can't eat her without killing me, and you s-said you n-needed me to be alive, to take me back? Y-you can't eat her before me, then!"

Once-Wish is shaking violently. My heart is racing as his is. The beast stares at him. "You volunteer to be eaten first? Oh, but, oh, what is that. Oh, that smell. You have a beating heart, full of terror, lungs quivering, muscles tensing, veins rich, so many organs pulsing, you are barely unreal at all! You are so tightly woven into a flesh cage. I can see you aging. You are so very mortal, my little morsel. You are lucky! You will die when I eat you, instead of wasting away over the years. Care to wriggle down my throat, or am I going to have to bite? I will so enjoy the crunch of your bones if you choose struggle, but the hunger is so deep I will gladly feast on your surrender."

Talking. It loves talking. I need to make it keep talking. Have to think of a plan. None of my spells will help here, and Once-Wish is too terrified to help me right now. I am trying to not see him so terrified but I can't deny the truth of what I see him as. Just as scared as I am.
Why am I so scared? I'm trapped here. I'm trapped here with something that I can't even see the full extent of, disappearing into an obscenely large darkness, and I have no control over the situation. Stupid! Stupid!! How did I let myself be tricked for such a perfect answer to my problems??

How do I solve this? How do I solve this??
>>
No. 1077832 ID: 99f29a

Imagine Once-Wish as the chad and Wish as the soyjak.
>>
No. 1077833 ID: 8e6882

Would closing your eyes and clearing your mind of its image affect the "realness" of something this strong, enough so it can't eat you?
>>
No. 1077835 ID: 2a82d3

By doing what any mortal does: delaying the inevitable, on your own terms should you be fortunate.

Open by asking how to save the felshawn. Expect twisting of prophecy, much like the one that got you here in the first place, and whatever truth to them to be skewed by his perspective. If he thinks you're making a deal, all the better.

Get him to monologue on how pieces of him break off and of how they remain separate, much to his own frustration. There's a clue to escape there.

Above all, remember this: If what that thing speaks is true, it seems you have been blessed by Wish-Felt. The reasons why, you know deep down. He must have left some remainant of himself in you to Tap into. Focus on your memories of him or your mother. Do they flow to her adventures with him together? Will they start to feel as if they were your own?
>>
No. 1077836 ID: 395885

This monster is of the unreal, defined by mind, and binding. Once-Wish has a connection to this thing presumably, and you are connected to Once-Wish.
Once-Wish has flesh, and contrary to this monster's words, this is a boon, Once-Wish has more Real-ness on his side.
This thing is of the unreal, of the dream, it is a nightmare, but only as long as it is seen as such, that is WHY is is trying so very hard to scare you two, without reality of its own and only its one perspective of itself, and your and Once-Wish's two... it will not be nearly enough to defeat this thing, lord knows trying to make a joke of it or trying to trick it into a fucking ligma will get you killed, but it will be weakened
compared to what you've seen in the two of you, how scary is this night-terror, really, just think back to the time Once-Wish split a person, would you do the same for Once-Wish?
Define this monster as a piece of Once-Wish, using both this unreal monster's connection to the more real Once-Wish, and through clearing your mind of fear.
Because if nothing else, you are not losing Once-Wish , not like you loss the last piece of Felt-Wish and your mother, and if that means you must be the monster you once saw in Once-Wish, if that means Once-Wish must be a bigger monster... So Be It
man I hope this is the right direction to take things, I can only hope as if my interpretation of this is wrong, this is ALL wrong lmao
>>
No. 1077842 ID: 0d4c43

What were you expecting to find here? Is its form subject to your expectation? The unreal may have form only in perception, not reality.
>>
No. 1077844 ID: 273c18

>>1077826
>what do I do
You and Once-Wish are paralyzed by fear. The questions are a distraction as much for you as they are for Wish. Use the time on questions to calm down, to think clearly, to evaluate, to plan.

Ok, questions:
How can you bring stability? (whatever it was that you came here for)
What is the Yearning?
What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?
How was it born?
What is its greatest fear?
What is its true form?
What is truth?
>>
No. 1077847 ID: 8f9bc4

It's trapped and hungry, unperceived, unable to do anything, while witches tear pieces off of it to make familiars with? That's... really sad actually.

Then again, it said that Once-Wish decided to commit to its mortality and die. So maybe some of its pieces aren't so happy being pieces of it.
>>
No. 1077848 ID: 99ca7b

This much terror isn't natural. You're probably under the paralysing effect of some sort of fear aura. If you can block that somehow, escape will be easier.
>>
No. 1077849 ID: b3eab7

>>1077836
Ooh, good thinking.

If this monster could eat you without you being terrified first, it would have done so. It is not real enough to have power over you, but Once-Wish is a being of two worlds. Don't let this thing eat you, eat it!

...And then spit it out, for it is what's anchored to this pocket. NOT keeping it inside you is likely the only way out.
>>
No. 1077851 ID: 395885

...if it's called the yearning, then for what does it yearn, who's lack has such force to bend reality so. could there every be more than the one answer?
>>
No. 1077856 ID: 2a82d3

>>1077848
It's not just fear. Once Wish noted you've been acting differently, more colder than usual, since entering. Could this greater devil be indoctrinating you two into what would be ideal for him, even subconsciously? And is it just to make easy prey, or does he have greater ambitions for your plane of existence?

It's not a coincidence your memories of Wish-Then, such as they are, are come here. It's another form of resistance to Wish's mind control.

>>1077844
>How can you bring stability?
I wouldn't trust promises of stability as far as I could throw him. She must have misheard that star knight talking about this one "stabilizing".
>>
No. 1077858 ID: 395885

...that rune sealing this place, Convergence/Divergence, seems to have power over this thing, if this monster is making the two of you diverge, then a usage of this rune should counter it, if you can. perhaps on yourself?
>>
No. 1077861 ID: 32a515

>>1077826
This is dangerous, but remember, perception shapes the perceived in the Yearning.

Wield the power of Synecdoche to perceive Wish as similar to Wish-Felt and Once-Wish. Let Wish feel their fear, their love and attachment, and manipulate him into being a more benign creature.

....Also ask him why being down here for years bothers him if he didn't really 'exist' for all those years and remained in an unreal state until someone perceived him. Heck, you might as well point out that killing you would mean there would be no witnesses to his existence and he'd be completely shafted and stuck alone and unnoticed for even longer.
>>
No. 1077867 ID: 9413c5

>And you would not choose to die to avoid death, would you, little pieces?
Well it gave you the out here. Seems you have to be alive to be of use. So if you lose regardless, select the path of spite. Either it lets you go so it gets a better shot later or you deny it what it wants. Even if you lose it loses too.
>>
No. 1077868 ID: 9413c5

Wait oh derp you have the prices to leave. Going to who knows where in a random forest seems like a low price compared to this.
>>
No. 1077869 ID: a7a180

Don't look away. The more you perceive him, the realer he gets. And the realer he gets, the more he can be hurt with pyromancy, the oldest trick in the ketzbook.
>>
No. 1077871 ID: 3184a6

so this thing and your familiar are one in the same, or at least were originally? Does that mean you can bind it? If it can absorb your familiar does that mean your familiar can absorb it in turn? This thing has been starved and imprisoned for who knows how long, it should be weak, you should be able to bind it, to feed it to your partner, or possibly eat it yourself.

After all your familiar and you are bound. Therefor it is a part of you. You may hate it at times, love it at others, be annoyed by it from time to time, or find great joy have it around but is that any different from yourself? You can love yourself, hate yourself, be annoyed with yourself, and be pleased with yourself. If this thing wants to eat your familiar it therefor wants to eat you, if it can eat and absorb your familiar who it admitted is a part of itself then should't your familiar be able to eat it back in return, and if your familiar is just a part of you then shouldn't you be able to eat and absorb this creature as well?

I say get it to tell more about itself, find something you can use to try and bind it, then once you got something turn the tables and feed IT to your familiar instead or possibly absorb it yourself to increase your own power. You want to save your kind, you'll need power to pull that off, and this thing seems to have so graciously offered itself up to you to help to achieve that goal. You just need to trick it into a position where you can take that power.
>>
No. 1077875 ID: b10161

if it tries to eat you then eat it back
>>
No. 1077876 ID: 932a49

Start with a deep breath. Biologically, deep breaths force you to relax.

Then, shift your perception: the physiological responses to nervousness and excitement are the same, so you're not afraid, you're excited. You're excited because this is a chance to learn something new, something that may help you save yourself and your people.

Now that you're out of your mind with excitement, ask this creature as many questions as you can think of about its strengths. Listen to it brag, and realize as it talks more and more how weak it must be to make such claims. A plan will reveal itself to you.
>>
No. 1077878 ID: 098116

If this a creature of potential and thought, why does it hunger?

It must be because it needs to - or chooses to. Then perhaps that hunger can be steered elsewhere, into an ache for answers rather than assimilation. A choice that must originate from itself, so be persuasive.

In fact, its separation and the release of a part of itself must have originated from within too. And when that part left… it probably took the desire to go with it, no?

So if it returns that part now, won’t it just start another cycle of separation later, for as long as that part desires to be apart? Clearly that part must sate its fill of apartness before it can truly rejoin. And from the look of things, it has not yet.
>>
No. 1077896 ID: ae0c62

Did it just say that Wish-Felt was your father?
>>
No. 1077898 ID: eb0a9c

>>1077896
Dude we were all thinking this
And the implication is that childbirth between a witch and their familiar is fatal to the familiar
No exceptions
>>
No. 1077899 ID: 273c18

Would that mean that, in some way, Lai Moon *is* Wish-Felt?
>>
No. 1077900 ID: 273c18

Oh let's just straight up ask that shit.
"Was Wish-Felt my father?"
and
"Do I carry part of Wish-Felt within me?"
>>
No. 1077901 ID: 273c18

and
"What can kill you?"
"What can trap you?"
"How can we escape?"
>>
No. 1077934 ID: f3171e

>>1077826
If Once-Wish is a part of Wish and you are connected to Once-Wish, are you not also connected to Wish?

If Wish-Felt was your father, are you not also connected to Wish?

Your perception could still be influencing Wish, even subtly compared to its vastness. You need to find something stronger than terror that you feel.
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