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File 155993935327.png - (609.16KB , 700x600 , title.png )
935060 No. 935060 ID: 395c02

Existence.
526 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 971467 ID: 465a14

Creator definitely existed and made things, but past that... who knows? Maybe slissa magic is just more subtle.
>>
No. 971473 ID: cdabe3

>>971467
Yeah, probably this. Ask tyrsis what’s on his mind!
>>
No. 971501 ID: 094652

"Maybe the point is that the statue of Shaia is just a statue, but through it you're doing the same thing that generations of your ancestors have done before you."
>That sounds stupid
"Then do something else. Nobody's forcing you to pray... are they?"
>>
No. 971597 ID: 365ffb

You're a humani... <i>slissaist</i>. You believe that gods could be cool, sure, maybe they died, maybe they're helping, but the more important thing is that <i>everybody</i> should be kind and nice!
>>
No. 971671 ID: afb3ad
File 159416047879.png - (384.24KB , 900x600 , 140.png )
971671

"Life is better when we do things we enjoy."

"What? You talking to me?"

"You don't have to waste your time here if you don't see the point of praying. It's not like Shaia's here to comment, right?"

"None of your business what I do."

He glares at Tyrsis. "Definitely not the business of ketza scum."

I'm taken aback. Other slissas don't always treat Tyrsis great, but none have ever acted openly hostile like this.

Tyrsis looks to me, seeming to also struggle comprehending what just happened.

"But ketzas are one of Shaia's--"

"Shaia this, Shaia that! Always the same with people in this back-cave town. Try living in the capital a while, see how much you love ketzas after that. If Shaia exists, she has a damn lot to answer for."

I can think of nothing further to say, so I decide to leave him to his grumbling. For his part, he seems happy enough to let the conversation end there.

Are things really so bad at the capital?

In the awkward silence that follows, I look back to the statue.

....

The bitter slissa's words hang in my mind. Why do we pray to someone who never answers?

It's something I've done all my life because I was raised to do so, but I've had my moments of doubt-- of wondering if everything told to me was actually true.
>>
No. 971672 ID: afb3ad
File 159416048167.png - (352.98KB , 900x600 , 141.png )
971672

"What do you think, Tyrsis?"

"Huh? What?"

"There's no way to know if the stories about Shaia are true, is there?"

"Uhhh... I mean, one thing that's been pretty consistent over the generations is the idea of Shaia and Creation. Hell of a long time to stick with something made up."

Ah, right. Tyrsis of all people would know all about the history of the story of Shaia. I think back to some of the things he's told me over the seasons.

"But it's not like the stories all say the same stuff, right? I remember you mentioning some of them say completely different things."

"Yeah. There's a lot of stories that conflict with others, and a fair amount that seem mostly to serve the people writing them."

"Even if we assume Shaia existed, could there be fundamental aspects that we've gotten wrong? What if she only created some of the life on our world?"

"I mean, that much is consistent in every version of the story. There was nothing, then there was Shaia."

"But if no life existed before Shaia, how could anyone know for sure? It's not like someone was there writing things down as they happened."

"I... hmm. Well, it's hard to otherwise explain Shaia's Love. Being able to conjure heat and cold out of nothingness sure feels like a blessing."

"A blessing only given to the ketzas."

"Well, that's one thing I know I don't fully agree with. I think slissas have Shaia's Love, it's just more subtle."

"I can't even get a candle to light. And I tried really hard that one time!"

"More like... take the glowgems. They've been here for all of time, giving slissas sight where they'd otherwise be running around blind. That's kinda what I mean by slissas having a version of Shaia's Love."

"Hmm. Maybe. We take them for granted, but things would be a lot harder without them for sure. But it's not like the ketzas can't use them too. They don't really feel like they were 'for' slissas."

"Remember that ketzas originally lived in the outside world, where glowgems don't seem to exist."

"Yeah, but they got a giant ball of light shining on everything! If not for the Great Beast, there's no way they'd choose glowgems over that."

"Still not sure why she created the Great Beast in the first place, honestly."

"See? It makes much more sense if the Great Beast was a creature that existed before Shaia showed up. There's no way she'd make something that massacred her creations like that!"

Tyrsis stares at the statue wordlessly, likely mulling over my Very Good Point.

But it's not like I think Shaia didn't exist. It's just... I don't know for sure. Nobody does. Maybe life did exist before her. Maybe we existed before her. That'd explain how we were able to write down her story, and why we don't have Shaia's Love (unless we're really gonna count the glowgems).

It's one of many things I hope to learn more about as I explore the world above.

For now, though, the story of Shaia contains a lot of important lessons about camaraderie. The idea that we are all loved, and should treat each other well. Regardless of what's true and what isn't, that's a philosophy worth following.

I motion to Tyrsis for us to leave. I tell the grumpy stranger that I hope he finds peace, but he seems to ignore me.
>>
No. 971673 ID: afb3ad
File 159416048458.png - (387.66KB , 900x600 , 142.png )
971673

As we walk around thinking about the next steps, I happen to notice a familiar looking slissa. It's Mama's friend! She might know something about where Mama ran off to!

...But should I just walk up and ask? If Mama's still upset, her friend would likely want to help give her time to recover. She'd probably try to distract me, or lead me astray. But it's no good for Mama to stew on what happened. We need to talk about it!

Granted, there's a chance she'd just tell me... But she could also just waste a lot of time. She's really chatty!

With that in mind, maybe I should try to quietly follow her while she heads to her destination. If Mama's staying with her, she could lead right to her.

Since she tends to be pretty chatty, I could be walking into a huge time sink with no payoff. She might not even know where Mama is. Maybe I should ignore her and continue looking on my own?


:sq_pathL:Path of confrontation...:sq_pathR:
She's my best chance to get a lead!
:sq_optbubble_left:A: Walk up and ask about Mama.:sq_optbubble_right:
:sq_optbubble_left:B: Sneak behind her to see where she's going.:sq_optbubble_right:

:sq_pathL:Path of the search...:sq_pathR:
If she doesn't know, it could be a better use of time to keep looking since she's so talkative. That would mean ruling out her place as an option, naturally. In which case...
:sq_optbubble_left:C: The graveyard. Is she at Dad's symbolic grave?:sq_optbubble_right:
:sq_optbubble_left:D: The old path. Mama wanted me to explore it. Why?:sq_optbubble_right:
:sq_optbubble_left:E: Back home to look for clues. Maybe she left a note?:sq_optbubble_right:

:sq_hint: PATHS are major branches in the direction of the story. When voting, your PRIMARY VOTE selects which PATH you choose. It's recommended (but not required) to use your SECONDARY VOTE for an option in the other path, so you can have a say even if your chosen PATH doesn't win.
>>
No. 971674 ID: 0fae41

C/b. What's her name, anyway?
>>
No. 971676 ID: 365ffb

AC! Talk to her and go right out front: you're stressed and you really need to find her. Look worried, maybe?
>>
No. 971679 ID: cdabe3

C/a

Hmmm, maybe shaia created the beast, and it was peaceful but became corrupted somehow?
>>
No. 971685 ID: 7ed0fe

Primary C, secondary B. After nearly losing you last wake, she might be unable to stop thinking about the last time she lost a loved one. Maybe she's visiting his grave to put her thoughts to rest?
>>
No. 971715 ID: dce46f

C/A
>>
No. 971829 ID: b099e2

D/a
>>
No. 971830 ID: 36784c

>>971673
C/a
>>
No. 971842 ID: 3fd119

D/c; It was really weird that she suddenly decided to take you on an adventure.
>>
No. 971844 ID: 736b7e

A, c
>>
No. 971845 ID: fa2754

>>971673
A, c.
It doesn't need to be a big confrontation. Just call out to her and straight ask her if she's seen your mom around. If she doesn't know, just keep on going and check the next destination. Your dad's symbolic grave.
>>
No. 971846 ID: 094652

D/A - What's your sneak skill level?
>>
No. 971947 ID: afb3ad
File 159450178591.png - (408.08KB , 900x600 , 143.png )
971947

The War Memorial Graveyard.

Stretching into infinity, it is home to generations of slissas that have lost their lives. First from the ketzas, then from time itself. Each grave has a story to tell. Each marks a generation of pain, joy, and loss.

Though we still add to it, it remains a memorial to how far we've come.

My father's body doesn't lay here; He never returned from his journey outside. But a grave exists nonetheless, another marker of a lost life.

I never saw a reason to come here. I don't want to talk to a marker of an empty space, I want to talk to my father's true resting place, if I ever manage to find it. But Mama visits often, and I should at least see the grave with her before I leave.

As we approach the symbolic marker of my father's resting place, I let out an audible gasp.
>>
No. 971948 ID: afb3ad
File 159450179542.png - (485.73KB , 900x600 , 144.png )
971948

The fifth bell tolls.

Atop the granite lie many letters, some showing incredible signs of age. They all share the same handwriting: Mama's. All addressed to Isthyr, my father.


"I... did not expect to see this."

"She used to talk about how she sometimes wrote to Papa, but I thought it was more... symbolic."

"Well, we probably shouldn't read them. Wouldn't be right."

"Yeah... but I'm going to skim the one on top, just in case it points us in the right direction."

"Uh..."

"Unless you want to keep running around aimlessly, I mean."

"Hey, she's your mother. I'm not gonna judge."

Sorry, Mama, but I'm worried about you!
>>
No. 971949 ID: afb3ad
File 159450180083.png - (396.47KB , 900x600 , 145.png )
971949

Isthyr,

Kliss comes of age today. I've gone over what I'll say so many times in my head. I want to beg her to stay here. To find love, give us grandkids, and enjoy a life of peace.

But she's too much like you. You're right, she wouldn't be happy here. If she tried to stay, she'd end up like you, spending many unhappy years lamenting the dream she never got to live. We had so much fun exploring Shaia's Embrace, I just wish that was enough for you. I wish...

I wish a lot of things. But don't worry, I'll keep my promise. I'll try to lead her to our spot, and if I can't do that, I'll figure something out. I'll make sure she sees the message you left for her.

You'd be so proud of her.



....

Mama, why didn't you just tell me you wanted to show me something? If I knew that, maybe I wouldn't have gone off-path. I wouldn't have--

Wait.

The Old Path.
>>
No. 971950 ID: afb3ad
File 159450180392.png - (347.83KB , 900x600 , 146.png )
971950

She didn't.


:SQ_pathL:A: Go after her alone. This is a matter between mother and child. Tyrsis will go get help, just in case.:SQ_pathR:

:SQ_pathL:B: Go after her with Tyrsis. The three of you are practically family.:SQ_pathR:
>>
No. 971952 ID: 0fae41

B. And watch both of your footings!
>>
No. 971954 ID: 736b7e

B
>>
No. 971955 ID: 465a14

>>971950
B!
>>
No. 971956 ID: b1b4f3

>>971950
B, because he was there the first time. But also, don't worry too much. She has no reason to go along the dangerous part of that place.
>>
No. 971959 ID: c5c951

>>971950
C.
Go now. If he follows, he follows. If not, that's okay too.
>>
No. 971964 ID: 7ed0fe

B. It's always good to have a buddy to watch your back in case things go wrong again
>>
No. 971966 ID: 470289

A.
>>
No. 971969 ID: cdabe3

B
>>
No. 971972 ID: 75ea94

B
>>
No. 971975 ID: b099e2

A. It's between you and Mama.
>>
No. 972013 ID: ae9bd9

>>971950
A. While this isn't something so serious as being between you and her. She could be hurt and it would be better to be safe than sorry. Tyrsis should go get help while you can try to find her as soon as you can.
>>
No. 972052 ID: 094652

B - You need an extra pair of hands in case something... happens.
>>
No. 972097 ID: 3fd119

B. You really are in this together. He should see whatever she has to show you, too.
>>
No. 972389 ID: 663062
File 159484055033.png - (362.19KB , 900x600 , 147.png )
972389

"Tyrsis! I know where she is!"

"You do? Just like that?"

"I mean, I'm pretty sure! The letter said Papa put something for me at the end of the Old Path!"

"So that's why she insisted we go there."

"I think so, yeah. But after what happened, Mama probably assumed I wouldn't want to try again. She has to have gone there hoping to bring it back with her!"

"Her? Alone? That doesn't sound like something she'd do."

"But it does! She knew what to do when I nearly fell, and that's something you only learn from experience! She probably explored Shaia's Embrace with my father!"

"I mean, most of the books that teach about cave expansion go pretty in-depth about-- no, you're right. It's the best lead we've got. But if she's hurt... maybe I should get help?"

"No, we should both go so we can back each other up if something goes wrong. Besides, we started exploring together, we should finish together."

"My instincts tell me not to go, but... if it'll help your mother, I'm in. Besides, I'm curious what else the Old Path can teach us."

"Hopefully a lot, but let's focus on Mama first! Come on, let's finish our first exploration as The Seekers!"
>>
No. 972390 ID: 663062
File 159484055396.png - (316.46KB , 900x600 , 148.png )
972390

As we retrace our steps, I mentally plot out the areas we've seen. We explored a room torn apart by tsiki spikes, with decrepit buildings and a skeleton I'm not going to think very hard about.

Inside one of the buildings we found nursery, long since abandoned. Exploring further, we found a secret path which lead upwards and outward to an outcropping overlooking Shisae Point and the War Memorial Graveyard.

The thin pathway there is where my last adventure came to an early end.

But this time, we're sticking to the main path. We don't have time to explore every nook and cranny!

We continue down a winding path, wondering if it was dug by someone who drank booze instead of water. Before long, the path expands outward, revealing something I'd never seen in all my seasons of life.
>>
No. 972391 ID: 663062
File 159484055659.png - (348.09KB , 900x600 , 149.png )
972391

"What... what is that thing?"

"I... I have no idea. I've never read about anything like this. It almost looks like a plant."

"A plant? But it doesn't look anything like Acquair! But if they're similar... what if you tried Shaia's Love?"

"I'm not burning my plant! Besides, it looks more like the ones I've seen in several ketza books. Maybe those used to make paper?"

"But why would a paper plant be here? Unless... is this why the path was blocked off? Is this what my father wanted to show me?"

"Maybe? But your mother isn't here, and she talked about this like it'd be a longer trip. Which means... oh no."

"We're going to have to get past this thing."

"Not only did I know you were going there, I helped you get there. I'm so bad at keeping us out of danger."

"Exactly! That's why I bring you along!"


:sq_tyrsisokay: :sq_klissyay:


If nothing else, Tyrsis helps keep my spirits up. I wouldn't make it very far if I let myself get overcome with worry...

Now then. This uh, 'plant'. There's just enough room for us to squeeze past it, but we can't do so without touching it. It shines a white light, illuminating a room otherwise devoid of glowgems.

I can't help but notice that the tsiki spikes fall away as they approach, with none at all growing next to the shining curiosity. Are they somehow afraid of it? Can tsiki spikes even feel fear?


:sq_optbubble_left:What should we do?:sq_optbubble_right:

:sq_hint: You can suggest actions for Tyrsis as well.
>>
No. 972392 ID: 736b7e

Maybe try to break off a tsiki spike and poke it with it? Tsiki spikes don't normally have problems growing near light, do they? You mentioned burning it but that could be a bad idea for a number of reasons. If it's safe enough to approach, dig a small opening around it for you and Tyrsis to comfortably fit through.
>>
No. 972397 ID: 365ffb

Is there a way you could safely break off a spike and slowly advance to see if you could push it away safely is an option?
>>
No. 972416 ID: 0fb3be

If you try crawling over the gap, just slowly approach it if you need to immediately hop back.
>>
No. 972418 ID: b1b4f3

Mom went this way, so... there must be a safe way past.
Check the room on the right. If there's no other way past, then it must be safe to touch?

Tyrsis: translate those signs.
>>
No. 972421 ID: cdabe3

>>972418
This!
>>
No. 972482 ID: 3fd119

I'd be a little worried to try digging past, if this thing's burrowed its way through the cave walls. The area might be less stable than it looks. Look around, can you actually see any evidence that anyone's been in here recently, like footprints or disturbed dust? You probably shouldn't just climb over that thing under the assumption that your mom did it.

If the spikes are "avoiding" it, that means it's probably around the same age as them. For something that huge to still be glowing so brightly after such a long time, it has to either have a dangerous amount of energy stored inside it, or be drawing strength from somewhere.
>>
No. 972524 ID: fa2754

>>972391
Tyrsis, can you read anything here? With haste if you can.
Kliss, make your way closer. Touch nothing. Find a path can Tyrsis can navigate though without touching anything either. Watch your necklace. It can dangle and touch the plant if you're not careful.
>>
No. 972903 ID: b099e2

First, check for footprints. Make sure your mom actually came this way. That should also tell you whether she went past the plant or through that door over on the right.

Then, follow the footprints. If they do lead past the plant, definitely try poking it with a tsiki spike before touching it yourself. Just because your mom managed to slip past it doesn't mean it's safe to touch.
>>
No. 972904 ID: 19fdd8

>>972391
Maybe it'll move if you hug it enough.
>>
No. 972939 ID: 663062
File 159536844290.png - (448.00KB , 900x600 , 150.png )
972939

"We should be very careful about what we touch."

"Beat me to saying it. Thought I wouldn't get it out before you ran up and gave that white thing a giant hug or something."

"I'm not that crazy, Tyrsis!"

"Nice to see you acting sensible."

"Now then. I'm gonna poke it with a tsiki spike!"

"Aaand back to your old self already."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You really need me to answer that?"

"You could at least humor me a little!"

"I could."

"...."

"But I won't."

Sigh.

Either way, we can't sit here doing nothing. If Mama's in danger, I need to save her. Despite Tyrsis' sass, I rip off a piece of tsiki spike and bring it near the glowing plant-thing.
>>
No. 972940 ID: 663062
File 159536844576.png - (424.98KB , 900x600 , 151.png )
972940

As I draw the spike closer, it starts to feel warm. The closer I get, the harder it becomes to make progress, as if some invisible force is pushing them apart. I consider using more force to make them touch, but ultimately decide it best if I follow my own advice and show a bit of caution.

I notice that there's no force pushing back on me directly, just the tsiki spike. Still, I should at least look around before experimenting too much.

"Why'd you stop short? Did reason finally get to you?"

"Oh, nothing like that. That thing's pushing against tsiki spikes somehow?"

"Is that what that is?"

"What?"

"Don't you feel it? It's like something is pushing against me slightly."

"I don't feel anything.

"I guess Shaia's Embrace really does contain unsolved mysteries, then."

"Wanna go hug the 'plant' and solve one?"

"I do not."

"You and your 'reason'. Well, what about the signs? Do they say anything interesting?"

"One says 'scoppa ssi arping'. Probably mentioning some kind of gift shop. The other says 'brimla baeldor'. Path of the hero, maybe?"

"That's kinda interesting! Just not that helpful to us. Let's take a look inside the building. Maybe there's another secret path?"
>>
No. 972941 ID: 663062
File 159536844935.png - (303.20KB , 900x600 , 152.png )
972941

This must be the 'gift shop' mentioned by the sign.

The tsiki spikes have not been kind to this place. Various dolls and mini-statues reveal that even in generations past, Shisae Point had a healthy dose of merchandising.

Rather than waste time considering which momento to take with me, I instead focus on the path near the back of the room.

"There! Could she have gone up there?"

"If only there was a way to know for sure which way she went."

"What about footprints? Do any of them look recent? What about back at the 'plant'?"

"It's hard to tell how old any of the prints are, thanks to the lack of erosion."

"What?"

"The caves are a lot drier here than near the ponds, so the only signs of time passing are the damage caused by tsiki spikes and hungry insects. It's hard to tell if there's any prints with more signs of decay than the others."

"Why is there decay, anyway? Why would Shaia make that part of her world? If she did make the world..."

"Well, the world was already here when she showed up. Likely she wanted to preserve the natural order of things."

"The natural order of things... Look, we can discuss that later. Is there any way we can infer which way Mama went?"

"We can puzzle it out. For one thing, your mother never brought up the 'plant'. Maybe she didn't think it was worth mentioning?"

"Or she intended to talk about it once we got here."

"There's also the fact that the plant doesn't seem to affect slissas the same way it affects me and the spikes."

"Could it be related to Shaia's Love? Man, now I wish we figured out that thing about if slissas have a tiny bit of it or not."

"Well, can you make a flame?"

"Hsss...! Uh... Nope."

"The effect would probably be unnoticable, then. With that in mind, we could just split up and try both paths."

Hmm...


:SQ_pathL: Path of the plant... :SQ_pathR:
Mama likely meant for us to stay on the main path. Looking at the prints, there is one set that seems to avoid all the tsiki spikes. I think. Maybe.
:sq_optbubble_left:A: Dig a path around the plant, so Tyrsis can hopefully come with.:sq_optbubble_right:
:sq_optbubble_left:B: Crawl through the hole and send Tyrsis the other way. Have him hold my stuff, to be safe.:sq_optbubble_right:

:SQ_pathL: Path of the ascent... :SQ_pathR:
There's no way Mama threw herself at a spooky plant, even in the company of my father! Heck, maybe he dug the second path himself out of what used to be a closet. It'd have certainly put Mama at ease.
:sq_optbubble_left:C: Go through the store path with Tyrsis.:sq_optbubble_right:

Also...
:sq_optbubble_left:This 'plant' might mark my first discovery! What should I name it?:sq_optbubble_right:
>>
No. 972942 ID: 0fae41

B/c. Name it Steve.
>>
No. 972943 ID: cdabe3

Primary A, secondary c

Name the plant, uh
uhhhhhhh

“The Big, Glowy Plant Thing”
>>
No. 972944 ID: b1b4f3

The plant pushed against the spikes but not you. I think it's safe.
A.

Name the plant the Glowstalk.
>>
No. 972947 ID: a9af05

>>972941
A

>>972944
>Glowstalk
This
>>
No. 972948 ID: b1b4f3

Ah, Tyrsis should check how close he can get before he's uncomfortable. Also he should walk around to the side where you plan to dig, to make sure there isn't more of it hidden there.
Come to think of it, you should scout a little bit past the plant to see if there's more behind it, so that you don't waste time digging around it only to find a second obstruction.
>>
No. 972949 ID: 736b7e

B, C

Also supporting "Glowstalk"
>>
No. 972955 ID: 365ffb

A c

name it the Door to Plantomile
>>
No. 972963 ID: b099e2

B/c

The plant seems to repel those with Shaia's Love, so let's call it Shaia's Scorn.
>>
No. 972974 ID: 7f1230

>>972963
backing this name
>>
No. 973027 ID: fa2754

>>972941
B, c "Nishalm"
>>
No. 973030 ID: 3fd119

A, and Glowstalk sounds like a good, simple name.
>>
No. 973091 ID: 663062
File 159564108674.png - (257.75KB , 900x600 , 153.png )
973091

Since it seems to be safe for me, I carefully approach the hole the glowing plant thing is partially blocking and take a peak...

"What do you see with your tiny adorable slissa eyes?"

"My what?"

"What's in there?"

"Uh, the path continues forward as you'd expect, but instead of tsiki spikes everywhere there's more glowing plant-things? Wait-- in the back near the wall..."

"What is it?"

'It's a glowgem, but some of the glowing plants have wrapped around it."

"Huh. Maybe they're attracted to light?"

"That's the thing. It's not glowing."

"What!?"

"It's completely dim!

Glowgems shine eternally, from the beginning of time to now. There's only one real explanation for this one being devoid of light.

"The glowing plant absorbed its light, maybe? Hmm. I think that makes sense, actually."

"How the heck does any of this make sense!?"

"Well, the plant doesn't affect you, but kinda affects me. One possible explanation is that this stuff was made to be an anti-ketza weapon, or at least a barrier."

"I'm not sure the slissas were capable of making something like this. And if we did, we'd have written it down somewhere!"

"True, but remember what we were talking about before? This and the glowgems might be what the slissas got instead of Shaia's Love. A silent protector of sorts."

"I guess, but this doesn't feel like 'love' so much. Shaia's scorn, maybe. Hey, we should call it that!"

"We could, but... as explorers, I think we should stick to simpler names, just so we can keep track of what's what."

"You're counting yourself as an explorer, I see."

"Being afraid of the outside world doesn't mean I don't enjoy finding new things."

Nice to see him coming around.

"Well, what should we call these things, then?"

"Let's see. Since it's so plant-like, how about 'glowstalk'?

"Works for me!"

"So we're gonna crawl on through?"

I dunno. I was thinking of digging a path for you, but if glowstalks litter the place I'm not sure you can come with me."

"I think I'll be fine. I feel a push from these things, but it's not all that bad."

"You sure? If Shaia or whoever made these to be an anti-ketza weapon, there's no telling what'd happen if you accidentally touched one."

"Yeah. They push against me, so the only way I'd touch one is if I were trying to."
>>
No. 973092 ID: 663062
File 159564108911.png - (341.84KB , 900x600 , 154.png )
973092

"Besides, it's not like I'm a real ketza."
>>
No. 973093 ID: 663062
File 159564109371.png - (286.67KB , 900x600 , 155.png )
973093

I get to digging.

....

"You shouldn't say things like that."

"It's true, isn't it? I'm only half ketza."

"Doesn't mean you should think you're a fake or something."

"Sorry, I just misspoke."

"You're an explorer and part of The Seekers. That makes you worth a thousand ketzas."

"Is that good?"

"It's like forty slissas."

"Holy shit."

"Yeah. So no feeling inferior or anything, okay?"

"But forty slissas is so many..."

"And that's just in general! To me you're worth a hundred slissas, which is more ketzas than currently exists!"

"Hehe... thanks, Kliss."

Thankfully, Tyrsis is able to make his way through my side path without issue. We continue forward carefully, doing our best to keep some distance between us and the various glowstalks.

Before long, the path once again opens up.
>>
No. 973094 ID: 663062
File 159564109771.png - (409.23KB , 900x600 , 156.png )
973094

Whoa.

A winding path upwards, marked by several signs that likely tell the story of the war and Shisae the hero. The glowstalks have ravaged the place, much as tsiki spikes destroyed the rooms before. One way or another, time has taken its toll on this place.

Every glowgem in is as dim as the one we saw earlier, sucked dry of the luminosity they once shed.

Near the top I notice a gap in the path, a spot probably destroyed by the nearby glowstalk.

Was it really okay to bring Tyrsis with me?

"It's a shame we're not wishbes."

"Uh... why's that?"

"Cause then we could just fly up there."

"But then I couldn't be a hundred slissas."

"Darn, you're right! Guess we'll have to figure something else out."

Getting Tyrsis most of the way up there shouldn't be too bad, as long as we're careful not to repeat what happened last time. That gap near the top could be trouble, though. Normally we'd have no choice but to spend a lot of time digging a way around it...
>>
No. 973095 ID: 663062
File 159564110059.png - (7.22KB , 900x600 , 157.png )
973095

...But that's why we bought the stuff we did, right? Let's see...

:SQ_ration: 3 food rations
:SQ_water: 2 water canteens
:SQ_rope: 1 rope
:SQ_cloth: 1 bundle of cloth
:SQ_sewingkit: 1 sewing kit
:SQ_knife: 1 knife
:SQ_hammer: 1 hammer
:SQ_firstaid: 1 first aid kit
:SQ_triage: 1 triage kit
:SQ_pen: 1 pen
:SQ_notebook: 1 notebook
:SQ_goggles: 1 pair of goggles (currently put away)


:sq_optbubble_left:What should we do?:sq_optbubble_right:
>>
No. 973099 ID: b1b4f3

This looks like a job for rope! You can go up, and tie the rope to something so he can climb up too. Or you could pull him up if you're stronk enuff.
>>
No. 973100 ID: 193edf

>>973092
feels
"Well, yes. You're a real Tysis. You don't have to be exactly like them or do what they say or believe what they demand you believe."

>What do
Take samples of the plant for further study. Look at how it shines, it's even brighter than glowgems and it might even be capable of auto-photosynthesis!

Also, do not let the plants near your glowgem stash or they'll literally drain the currency out of your money.
>>
No. 973107 ID: 736b7e

Not a whole lot in your kit to make getting over that gap easier but you wouldn't need to dig a hole large enough for Tyrsis if you can tie off the rope at the top. Depending on how long the rope is you might even consider tying it off along the way for Tyrsis to hold onto while you ascend, so no glowstalk pushy-weirdness easily knocks him off.
>>
No. 973109 ID: b099e2

The gap doesn't look too bad, I think you can probably climb through it. If you do that, then you can tie the rope to that big glowstalk by the door and throw it to Tyrsis over on the other path.
>>
No. 973127 ID: 36784c

>>973091
>"My what?"
He said your eyes are adorable! That means that he thinks you’re adorable!

>>973093
>Thankfully, Tyrsis is able to make his way through my side path without issue.
Good, you remembered to dig the path extra wide for Tyrsis and his extra wide butt!

>>973099
Do this.
>>
No. 973134 ID: 0fae41

Stab the root that blocks the path, try to cut your way through. If only we had brought enough for knife hands...
>>
No. 973138 ID: fa2754

>>973094
Rope and anchor! Progress as best as you can. Depending on how much push Tyrsis feels, you might need to tie yourselves together. When it comes to the gap, have him be your anchor while you scale down and back up on the other side. Use the knife, hammer and your body weight to anchor for him while he scales it.
>>
No. 973327 ID: 3fd119

So if Tyrsis is directly above a glowstalk, will he land on it and touch it, or will he start flying? This seems like important and forbidden knowledge. Maybe you could ride your flying friend to safety!
>>
No. 973446 ID: 663062
File 159597965426.png - (388.46KB , 900x600 , 158.png )
973446

>So if Tyrsis is directly above a glowstalk, will he land on it and touch it, or will he start flying? This seems like important and forbidden knowledge
"I have the best idea! I'll take this rope--"

"No."

"What do you mean 'no'!?"

"Whatever you're planning is probably horribly dangerous and involves me in some way, so no."

"It's a crime how well you know me."

"It really isn't."

"Maybe it should be!"

"Gonna join the council and make it a law, then?"

"I would, but that'd get in the way of exploring stuff."

>Rope and anchor!
"Wait! I have a less dangerous idea this time probably!"

"I'll be the judge of that."

"I'll tie us together and try to climb up the other side. That way you can catch me if I fall."

"This is the less dangerous idea?"

"Believe it or not, yes. Once I get to the other side, I'll use my tools to fashion an anchor so you can safely climb to me."

"'Safely' is a very, very strong word."

"Do you have any better ideas? We can't abandon Mama!"

"Spee... Ugh. Fine. Fine! I'll go along with this insane plan, but only because we need to save your mother."

"I'll make it up to you somehow, I promise!"

"We'll worry about that later. Let's... let's just do this insane thing we're about to do."

I finish tying the rope around myself, then help Tyrsis get secured.
>>
No. 973447 ID: 663062
File 159597965708.png - (250.47KB , 900x600 , 159.png )
973447

I climb down without too much issue, then get to work climbing up the other side.

The rocks in this part of the cave are fairly soft, allowing me to dig my claws into the walls for a better grip. Nearby are signs of other slissas doing similar. Maybe left by Mama, or even my father long ago?

I spend some extra time digging extra large climbing holes for Tyrsis to grip onto. This slows me down, but better safe than sorry.

In the distance, I think I hear the 6th bell toll. There's only one left before I'm on my own for keeping track of time. My mind begins to wander as I try to focus on the climb...

>Good, you remembered to dig the path extra wide for Tyrsis and his extra wide butt!
I always work extra hard for Tyrsis's butt.

Wait that came out wrong.

Focus, Kliss.

>He said your eyes are adorable! That means that he thinks you’re adorable!
That's not how you focus!

Look, of course he thinks that. Not everyone can win the 'adorable tiny slissa' award like I did in my early years of schooling!

Though it's strange that everyone else won too. I guess we were just an especially cute class!

Thankfully I don't need to think about it any further as I reach the top of the other side.
>>
No. 973448 ID: 663062
File 159597966072.png - (326.52KB , 900x600 , 160.png )
973448

I use my claws to dig a short tunnel and run the rope through it, tying the end to my hammer and knife so they can act as an anchor.

I don't trust them to do the job alone, so I'll also be pulling with all my might to keep as much tension off them as possible while Tyrsis does his climb.

"Okay! Come on over!" I shout.

"This is still crazy!" He shouts back.

"Just go slowly and carefully, and use the holes I left for you!"

He slowly makes his way down as I dig my claws into the rock, ready to do everything I can to save the big fluffy boy should he run into trouble.

So far so good as he manages to climb down without issue. I keep close watch on him as he starts to climb up the other side, ready to react to anything.

I soon notice the glowstalks pushing against his feathers.

"Are you okay down there? You're not getting pushed too hard, are you?"

"Trying to focus!"

"Sss! Sorry!"

"I'm fine! Getting pushed some, but it's not that bad! Silent time now!"

At any moment I expect disaster, and I try very hard not to jinx it by thinking about it. Wait, this doesn't count, does it?
>>
No. 973449 ID: 663062
File 159597966440.png - (239.92KB , 900x600 , 161.png )
973449

In the end, it didn't.

"You did it! I'm so proud of you!"

"Can't... believe... huff... you want to do this stuff... on purpose..."

"Well, yeah! Don't you feel alive right now?"

"I..."

"Still catching your breath?"

"My brain isn't willing to accept my answer so I'm just not going to say it."

"I knew it! The spark of exploration's in you too!"

"Let's not go that far. I'm just really glad to not be dead right now."

"No ketza would have been willing to do that, not for a slissa. See? You're better than a 'real' ketza!"

"Come on, the ketzas aren't that cowardly. Uh, I think."

I consider objecting, but he's just been through a lot.

"Anyway... thanks."

We rest a bit to recover from our ordeal. I undo my Tyrsis-saving contraption and place the items back in my backpack. That trip to the store has already proven valuable!

...Wait.

"Mama originally wanted us to come this way, right?"

"I mean, probably?"

"How the heck was she hoping to get past this part?"

"...."

"You know, she might have gone the other way earlier."

"We chose the wrong path!? I guess it was a 50/50 shot."

"I mean, we can't know without taking both paths, but it's definitely possible we made things harder on ourselves than... you know what, I'm gonna not think about that and focus on still being alive."

"Probably for the best, buddy."

My thoughts turn to Mama. If she's been in here since last wake, then every moment counts. I consider nudging Tyrsis to continue forward, but he's exhausted. We can't help anyone if either of us collapses.

Still, this will likely be our last chance to rest.


:sq_optbubble_left:Is there anything I should discuss with Tyrsis before we continue?:sq_optbubble_right:
>>
No. 973450 ID: 736b7e

Like every opportunity with Tyrsis, you should hug him. Also contemplate discussing your definitely very real feelings for him!

Maybe question why he follows you so steadily on adventures like these.
>>
No. 973455 ID: cdabe3

>>973450
yes do this :3
>>
No. 973457 ID: b1b4f3

So what do the signs all say?
>>
No. 973462 ID: b099e2

Maybe you guys should rest a bit and have a serious conversation about your long-term plans. You want to go to the surface world and explore it. He's said he's coming with you, but that means leaving behind everyone & everything he knows and possibly never seeing them again. Has he considered that? I mean, really considered it? Does he understand what he'd be giving up to follow you out there?

You guys are gonna have to confront this dilemma eventually. You might as well talk about it now.
>>
No. 973481 ID: fa2754

>>973462
Give him a head pat for being such a good boy. Thank him for being the friend you've always needed. Perhaps you can scout ahead while he catches his breath? Just to see how much further this path leads.
>>
No. 973485 ID: bac822

>>973462
This says it better than I could. If he's following you this far, he'll probably want to follow you all the way. Tyrsis needs to be sure that's what he really wants, so he won't regret it later.
>>
No. 973497 ID: a9af05

>>973447
>Wait that came out wrong.
Did it? Because I think it came out exactly the way you meant for it to come out.

>>973449
Ask him if he knows what the sign says.
>>
No. 973742 ID: 663062
File 159649105580.png - (349.30KB , 900x600 , 162.png )
973742

"You know..."

"Hmm?"

"I wasn't just saying that in the heat of the moment. I really am proud of you."

"Oh, um... thanks. That means a lot coming from you."

"I can remember a time when you'd never agree to come with me, not even for the short test trip we're planning. You've really grown up.”

"I guess both of us had to grow up eventually, huh?"

"But even though we're using this trip to figure things out, I can't help but think about the long term. What happens if you come with me for the real thing. What happens if you... don't."

"It'll be a while before we need to cross that tunnel."

"Yeah, but it doesn't stop me worrying about it. I don't want you to end up sad and alone, nor do I want you spending multiple seasons doing something you hate. Especially something so dangerous."

"I understand that, but it's not like I'd be alone if I stayed behind. I still have my dad, and a few friends I've been meaning to get back in touch with."

"I guess. But you know me; I couldn't leave without making sure you had someone to keep you company. Someone to share... certain feelings with."

"What, were you secretly planning to find me a life-mate along the way or something?"

"What? That's silly! That's a silly thing you said."

"Doesn't make it less true."

I smush his fluffy face.

"SsSsss I'm trying to have a serious discussion, you goofball!"

"Shorry."

"And if you do decide to join me... It has to be because you want to. Not because you feel like you owe it to me, or because you have feelings for me."

Wait did I just say the quiet part loud?
>>
No. 973743 ID: 663062
File 159649105981.png - (323.05KB , 900x600 , 163.png )
973743

"Haha what?? That's silly! That's a silly thing you said."

"That doesn't make it less true."

"Guess I deserved that."

"You did. But I'm serious-- we're talking about leaving behind everyone and everything you know and love. We're talking about the chance of never coming back."

"I know. I know that. Why do you think it's been so hard to give you an answer? You're very important to me. You're kinda the reason I'm still here. You kept me going when things got hard."

I wince slightly as painful memories start to resurface.

"But this is about more than my um, feelings. I agreed to the test-run because I don't want to live my life knowing I missed out on the adventure of a lifetime because I was scared. Without at least trying."

"Wait, a part of you wants to go?"

"It's a chance to put pen to paper and publish our findings for all to see. I might not have your zeal for exploring the unknown, but I've always enjoyed learning new things and solving mysteries."

Can't deny how handy his knowledge has been while exploring these caves.

"For me, this trip is about learning if my thirst for knowledge is enough that I'm willing to take the risk of going on a longer voyage. It's about showing that I can hit my head and not cry. After that, if it turns out exploring's not for me, I'll wish you well and head home. Either way, I won't have any regrets."

"I'm glad to hear that. Really glad. In that case, I won't try to set you up with a lovely ketza after all."

"Yeah, I'm good. Besides, I'd never get used to being the small one."

We share a laugh, a boulder of weight lifted from both our backs. I give him a slissa hug and let him rest a little longer.

"Okay, I think I'm ready to keep going."

"Ah, good. Let's get moving, then."

Tyrsis lifts himself up and I start leading the way, before pausing to look back at him.

"Hey, Tyrsis?"

"Yeah?"

"Whatever you decide, I want you to know that when we make it to the end and I'm seeing the outside world for the first time..."
>>
No. 973744 ID: 663062
File 159649106384.png - (336.94KB , 900x600 , 164.png )
973744

"...I'm glad you'll be there with me."

There's no way to know how we'll feel about the long journey until we have firsthand experience of what it's like in the world above. Until then, I don't want to risk making our goodbye that much more painful.

But at the very least, I can rest easy knowing that if Tyrsis chooses to stay behind, he'll be okay.

And if it does choose to come with me...

Well, we can explore that tunnel when we get there.

For now, this is enough.


We continue on, feeling confident in our ability to handle what comes next.
>>
No. 973745 ID: 663062
File 159649106658.png - (361.31KB , 900x600 , 165.png )
973745

That confidence would prove short-lived.

"Mama!"

"Kliss? Kliss! By Shaia's love, am I glad to see you!"

"Starting with the important questions: Why are you up there and why is a tunnel-grub here!?"

"See the break in the path over there?"

"On the right?"

"This guy burrowed out from under me, causing the path to collapse! He got really aggressive, so I scrambled up here hoping he'd calm down and leave."

"You sat there this whole time!?"

"I haven't been here that long. I spent most of the wake at my friend's place!"

Welp.

"Not to alarm you, but I'm pretty sure the tunnel-grub can reach you from there. You should get somewhere safer!"

"That's the thing. I think he's scared of the white stuff!"

I examine the room. The tsiki spikes make a return, though once again they seem unwilling to get close to the glowstalks. I could try to fashion one into a weapon, but I don't fancy my chances against an angry tunnel-grub.

Why's it so angry, anyway? They're generally passive and easily frightened.

...Hmm.


:sq_optbubble_left:What do I do?:sq_optbubble_right:
>>
No. 973748 ID: b1b4f3

>>973745
Investigate! Keep the glowstalks between you and the grub, and look around a little.
Could it be protecting a nest? What do grub nests look like?
>>
No. 973754 ID: 62e4df

>>973748
A nest seems likely, but there's also the possibility it's injured. Can you check it for injuries without getting close?
>>
No. 973756 ID: 2aa5f0

could be hungry, what do they normally eat?
>>
No. 973761 ID: 0fae41

Cut off some of the white stuff as a ward. A Tsiki spike for a sword, and a root for a shield!
>>
No. 973765 ID: b1b4f3

>>973756
Well if that's the case we might be able to toss it some rations. They're not that expensive.
>>
No. 973767 ID: 736b7e

Giving it food might be a good idea.
>>
No. 973792 ID: fa2754

>>973745
Yeah an aversion/diversion plan could work. Glow stalks and Shaia's love to drive it back from your mom and some rations to lead it away further. Are the glow stalks safe to touch though?
>>
No. 973793 ID: b1b4f3

>>973792
Oh, we should ask her how safe the glowstalks are. She should know a little more about them. I'm sure she'd be interested to know that Tyrsis has a reaction to them.
>>
No. 973806 ID: b099e2

Can we have Tyrsis scare it away with some fire?
>>
No. 973896 ID: 36784c

I'm worried about asking Tyrsis to scare it away with fire. The glowstalks might end up pushing away his fire and make it fly in a different direction than where he was aiming.
>>
No. 973961 ID: 3fd119

If it attacks, you and your mom can probably escape onto the stalks. Assuming it's safe to touch. But Tyrsis doesn't have that option and should keep especially safe.
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