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File 156393346605.png - (177.57KB , 533x700 , 10-1.png )
940228 No. 940228 ID: 7816e7

18+ adult content
Chapter 10: Heart of the Mountain

First thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/860238.html
Wiki: https://tgchan.org/wiki/Moot_Point
Previous thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/932953.html
567 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 949606 ID: b1b4f3

Three Horns capturing this spirit would be real poetic, I wanna see that.
>>
No. 949607 ID: 5b0071

Hoo boy.. is that how Kol learned how to leave his body?
>>
No. 949613 ID: 10c408

>>949607
I'm not sure on that. It's way too risky of an approach for teaching, though it is perfect for driving out an enemy spirit trying to bodyjack a binder who knows it.

Deliliah, Kol could maybe use an infusion of life energy. (apply directly to the lips!)
>>
No. 949621 ID: ce39da

Looks like we got switcharoo'd on the perspective there. Where'd you learn that little trick, Kol?
>>
No. 949631 ID: 91ee5f

>>949605
Actually, now that I think about it, Casey keep holding Kol’s body in place until we’re absolutely sure it’s Kol in there and not the spirit.

I want to make sure this isn’t a trick where the spirit somehow changed Kol’s appearance so that we’d catch him, while the spirit is still in Kol’s body.
>>
No. 949671 ID: 10c408

>>949631
If the hostile spirit was capable of such subterfuge and needs a living body to accomplish goals AND was powerful/skilled enough to kick out a binder from their rightful body, why hasn't he done so already to Three horns, or any of the other kobolds who aren't binders?

Obvious answer: he can't. He's relied on opportunity and stealth to try and accomplish whatever his goal is, but those can only get you so far and now that he's been caught, he's got nothing left.
>>
No. 949748 ID: 7816e7
File 157403179844.png - (161.27KB , 700x700 , 10-147.png )
949748

Muir the king of the mountain dives back towards Kol’s living body, fury etched across his features and slams headfirst into a wall. He tries to escape but the crystal prison encircles him, shrinking and forming a perfect prism of outrage.

“My people have looked for this one for as long as we can remember.” Three Horns smirks, grasping the caged spirit in her claws. “For bringing him, you have our utmost thanks.”

Kol nods and steps down as Casey’s binding spells dissolve. “Well, thanks for my body back.”
>>
No. 949749 ID: 7816e7
File 157403180398.png - (164.69KB , 700x700 , 10-148.png )
949749

“You bastard! What was that?!?” Demands the spirit in a tiny voice.

Kol looks down at the unfortunate ghost and says in a voice that’s not unkindly, “The final test of the Path of the Medium: the Walled Chamber. In order for a living person to learn to spirit walk, they must first embrace death and the loss of self.” He shrugs and continues, “Don’t feel bad; it takes years of preparation to undertake it. The teachers joke that its the easiest test in the world: sooner or later all of us will pass.”

Muir snarls and sulks at the bottom of his crystal, knowing he’s been beaten.
>>
No. 949750 ID: 7816e7
File 157403181063.png - (901.18KB , 2344x2500 , 10-149.png )
949750

Three Horns claps her hands together, eliciting anger from her prisoner. “Such an auspicious day! I declare a feast in celebration! Come, share our bowls! Allow us to welcome you!”
>>
No. 949751 ID: cdabe3

Yay! Check on everyone’s status, and then join the feast!
>>
No. 949756 ID: e7848c

>>949750
What's on the menu? Mushrooms make great palette cleansers but leave one wanting for a flavorful entree!
>>
No. 949758 ID: 10c408

As nice as a celebration would be, it'd be prudent to start asking Muir some questions.

And also we should check in with flashing feathers so he doesn't worry.
>>
No. 949759 ID: b1b4f3

>>949750
We can share more than bowls if you know what I mean
>>
No. 949763 ID: 91ee5f

>>949750
Well that’s a much better offer than being their prisoner! Let’s accept the offer!

And if they’re willing to give it a try, we could offer to share that “outsider food” that Three Horns said she didn’t trust.

>>949758
>flashing feathers
Would it be possible to invite him to join us? I know he said he didn’t like the idea of being indoors, but I’d feel bad if we left him out of the feast.

>>949759
If that’s a suggestion for sex, then I’m going to have to say that we shouldn’t do that.

As much fun as it would be, we already saw what happened when Gabe got distracted, so let’s not distract Three Horns and give Muir a chance to run off again.
>>
No. 949776 ID: ce39da

Opening a portal to the harsh vacuum outside probably isn't a smart idea, Flashing Feathers made it clear he was content with staying out there, and his presence might alarm the kobolds. Let's not.
>>
No. 949778 ID: 10c408

>>949776
Did I say they should open a portal to do this? I did not say they should use a portal to do this.

They'd have to trek back to the cold weather gear at any rate and at that point it wouldn't be much further to the entrance to use a smaller portal from the entrance to topside.

...And come to think of it, we should probably do that since the air is very slowly getting sucked out and the kobolds have no clue.
>>
No. 949780 ID: 3ce8ff

>>949778
>since the air is very slowly getting sucked out and the kobolds have no clue.
feel like the air isn't getting slowly sucked out, (any more than air is getting sucked out of the planet by space that is) pressure being a continuous scale and all. so up at the mountain entrance is low pressure same as outside, so you just have normal random air in air out.
>>
No. 949829 ID: a9af05

>>949750
Let's party!

>>949763
All of this sounds good.

>No sex, might distract Three Horns and give Muir a chance to run off again.
Sadly, I have to agree with this.

We'll have fun with the kobolds some other time.
>>
No. 949832 ID: b1b4f3

Could you anti-pervs at least wait until we find out if she CAN be distracted enough to drop the crystal?
It might be permanent until she wills it to be released.
>>
No. 949837 ID: a9af05

>>949832
After what happened with Gabe, it's kinda hard to want to do anything sexual again.

And I still believe that Gabe should be grounded from any kind of sex for a month. He needs some kind of punishment for making such a careless mistake.
>>
No. 949921 ID: 7816e7
File 157421504859.png - (133.27KB , 656x700 , 10-150.png )
949921

“Is he going to be safe in there?” Casey asks, “We may want to ask some questions at some point.”

“Oh yes, very safe!” Three Horns tosses the crystal up, letting it spin end over end before catching it. Muffled swearing emerges from within. “It is a very strong spell. A gift passed down from the first free kobolds and the emancipators before that. We can transfer him to a machine body if my mana runs low. They’re built with wards that keep them from harming others and entering certain areas; which is why I imagine he didn’t use one.” She grins impishly.
>>
No. 949922 ID: 7816e7
File 157421505438.png - (169.30KB , 629x700 , 10-151.png )
949922

Casey nods in approval and turns to the rest of the group. “What do you guys think? You guys want to join them?”

“I could eat.” Says Delilah, threatening to bring famine upon the warren. “What about you, Cecil? You feeling better?”

“Y-yes I believe so. That was quite the experience. I think I’d enjoy it again in a more controlled setting.” He taps his beak, “I do hope Flashing Feathers isn’t worried about me.”

“We could send him a signal, if you’d like.” Casey rummages around in her bag and pulls out a flare with a small parachute attached. “Watch your eyes everyone...” She cracks the seal on it, igniting a brilliant emerald blaze. Gabe opens a gate for her and she drops it through.
>>
No. 949923 ID: 7816e7
File 157421506128.png - (125.98KB , 700x514 , 10-152.png )
949923

Gabe reaches into his spacial pocket and pulls out some snacks, “If you like, we could share some of our food with you too.”

This sends a smattering of murmurs through the assembled kobolds. Three Horns raises a hand and the sound stops. “We would be honored to partake. What better step towards friendship than the sharing of dishes?” Behind her, lizard grins grow wider and tails wag. She turns and shoos them, “Well, what are you lot standing around for? Don’t you have a feast to prepare?” The diminutive citizens scatter, taking the mushrooms with them.
>>
No. 949929 ID: 7816e7

Also, y'all can shut up about how Gabe needs to be punished. Take that shit elsewhere.
>>
No. 949934 ID: e7848c

>>949837
Stop.

>>949923
Hell yeah, let's eat!
>>
No. 949939 ID: bb78f2

>>949921
Yeah, no, Kol, buddy, ask Three Horns out. I don't care that she trapped your soul for a bit, my man, she's got that tail swagger I've never seen before, goddamn.

Put that Ass on the menu and ask for seconds, Kol. GODDAMN.

In all seriousness lets get down to grubbin'. Where's the kitchen, who's the best cook?
>>
No. 949952 ID: 094652

Grab the pastries from your pocket dimension
>>
No. 949953 ID: b1b4f3

Oh, it occurs to me that our group probably can't eat most of the mushrooms. If someone identified some of them as safe for consumption, then whoever's got that information can go help with the mushroom dishes to make sure to separate them into toxic and nontoxic portions. Then we can share properly!
>>
No. 949968 ID: 10c408

eat first, make sure the mushrooms are safe enough for consumption, seque into asking Muir some very pointed questions after....

Then Kol should ask Three Horns if she's willing to share her binding spell with him. A private lesson, if you will.
>>
No. 949977 ID: 91ee5f

>>949968
>Then Kol should ask Three Horns if she's willing to share her binding spell with him.
That seems more like something Casey would do, since she’s the one that knows Binder magic.
>>
No. 949982 ID: 7e1c22

>>949977
Agreed!
>>
No. 950013 ID: 824a3f

>>949977
Perhaps studying those artificial bodies could somehow teach him how to possess inanimate objects?
>>
No. 950016 ID: 7816e7
File 157430112771.png - (136.59KB , 500x700 , 10-153.png )
950016

Casey approaches the kobold leader and drops down on one knee to converse: Three Horns seems to approve. “Can I ask you about that spell? It looks like what we call binding magic.”

“It was a gift, passed down to the wisest of kobolds.” Three horns explains, “Its said that long ago, a small band of outsiders somehow found a way into the mountain. With the defenses in chaos, the lord of the mountain himself stepped up to deal with them.” She gives the crystal a little shake and chuckles. “Unfortunately for him, the trespassers were ready. His body was destroyed and upon retreating to his well of power, found that they had sealed the chambers from within. Afraid for his life, the spirit fled deep within the tunnels.”

Indicating the shape etched into her forehead, the kobold continues, “Our people were free’d and offered a path to the outside world. But the kobolds were still scared and cowed by fear of reprisal, so they stayed. As a gift, one of the champions taught the kobolds the magic of the gem prison, in case our master ever should choose to return.”

“Do you think you could teach me that magic? I specialize in binding spells, see?” Casey’s aura extends in demonstration.

Three Horns shrugs. “I don’t see why not. I Imagine one with your talents would learn quickly. Perhaps we could share gifts?”

“I’d like that! Your magic might be an important piece of what we’re looking for.”

Her scaly eyebrows raise and the leader grins. “Oh? We will have to discuss things over dinner then.”
>>
No. 950017 ID: 7816e7
File 157430113398.png - (162.78KB , 700x700 , 10-154.png )
950017

“Speaking of dinner...” Delilah speaks up, “Our friend here had some kind of reaction to some spores. I’m worried that some of those mushrooms might not be safe for us to eat.”

“Hmm. I must confess, poisons and illness from food is nearly unknown to our people. We were chosen as servants for our hardiness and cunning as scavengers. Our chefs may have trouble discerning what is toxic to you.” Three Horns mulls this over. ”I’m at a loss. What would you recommend?”

Delilah scratches her chin, “Well. I’m a healer: I can negate the effects of poison pretty quickly in my own body. If you let me taste a bit of each type, I should be able to work out which ones are safe to eat.”

“Very well. Zafi, would you show our guest to the kitchens?”

The kobold bows shyly and leads the way for Delilah, eclipsed completely by her shadow.
>>
No. 950020 ID: b1b4f3

We can get a tour of their settlement while dinner is being prepared, and maybe get introduced to more kobolds too.
>>
No. 950021 ID: a0dfd2

>>950017

If Gabe is feeling up to it, couldn't we portal in some stuff for everyone (the kobolds included) and have a big, grand feast?
>>
No. 950036 ID: 10c408

>>950021
He just did that with the snacks. Not only do we want to ease them onto modern food, he also needs to conserve mana for when they eventually have to leave instead of blowing it all right now for one gate over a potentially gargantuan distance for a undetermined amount of time for city-wide catering.
>>
No. 950038 ID: 83bf07

Why don't we offer a breakdown of all the snacks that we have?
>>
No. 950061 ID: 812ad3

Just saying, but I guess kobolds would LOVE to try someone's baked goods.
Why not invite her?
>>
No. 950063 ID: a0dfd2

>>950036

Whoa, chill out, dude.

I'd presume they have a pantry and cookware that could be borrowed. We know Cecil does.
>>
No. 950064 ID: a9af05

>>950017
So Casey, what was the point of sending that flare to Flashing Feathers? Do you guys have a predetermined message system involving the color of the flare?

Because as far as Flashing Feathers is concerned, you just sent him a distress signal and he's currently looking for a way to tear down a wall to rescue you. And of that happens, the kobolds will be even more upset when their village gets damaged again.

>>950021
He can only do that with whatever he's already packed in his pocket dimension portal.

He's most likely only packed snacks, so I've got no idea why you think he's going to pull out something the size of a feast.

>>950061
Because she is way too far away for Gabe to make a portal to. We need him to conserve his mana for when it's time for us to go home.

She's also a little busy planning her wedding, so I'd rather not interrupt that.
>>
No. 950103 ID: 7816e7
File 157447495108.png - (86.08KB , 700x387 , 10-155.png )
950103

“While we wait, perhaps I could show you around?” Three Horns leads the way with a swish of her tail. They venture past the collection of roughly assembled sheds into a series of low tunnels. “In the days of our servitude, we were expected to stay out of sight. Tunnels like these run throughout the mountain and were the servant’s highways.”

After a short walk, the tunnel opens up to a large chamber formed around a large, natural pond. “We call this the twin lakes.”
>>
No. 950109 ID: 34cb4e

I suppose this is where we ask why its called the twin lakes when there's only one?

Also that 'bold is lookin hella smug.
>>
No. 950113 ID: b1b4f3

Do they get any fish here?
>>
No. 950115 ID: e7848c

>>950103
Twin? Also is this the communal bath area?
>>
No. 950222 ID: 7816e7
File 157456528307.png - (122.41KB , 700x700 , 10-156.png )
950222

Cecil adjusts his glasses and comments, “Why the twin lakes? I only see the one.”

She chuckles and picks up a rock. “Look deeper, my friend.” Three Horns hurls the stone and it splashes a respectable distance away. As it descends it disturbs a second layer hidden several meters below the surface. Sluggish waves ripple out in a lazy circle, forming strange, flowing reflections.

“What on earth is that?” Asks Casey, squinting at the liquid.
>>
No. 950223 ID: 7816e7
File 157456528893.png - (180.04KB , 500x700 , 10-157.png )
950223

“Come. You traveled here seeking knowledge, yes?” She waves the on, “Perhaps I know something that can help.” Three Horns shepherds them into another tunnel, which winds its way several levels higher in the mountain. They emerge outside of a large, metal door open just wide enough to admit a kobold.

A squeal of hinges later and they step inside. The kobold stops and warns them, “You must be careful. There are fragile places. Keep to the main walkway.”

Following the kobold, they find themselves standing in a large, open chamber. A wide podium covered in runes and shapes occupies the center of the space. It faces a shallow, circular depression measuring several meters across. Aside from a path stretching from the door to the podium, the floor is covered with a maze of narrow, interlocking channels roughly as wide and deep as a fingertip, studded here and there by tiny metallic pearls.

She waves a tiny arm at the strange room. “These are the quicksilver channels. Stories claim that by manipulating the flow of the liquid, one could access the secrets of the old master.” She sighs, “Or at least, you could before the quicksilver reservoir leaked into the lake below. My people have had no way to pull the metal out; as even a kobold can be poisoned by enough contact.”
>>
No. 950224 ID: b1b4f3

>>950223
We can pull out the quicksilver with a portal!
Time to figure out how this thing works I guess.
>>
No. 950231 ID: d004e0

They couldn't come up with a way to use tools to extract the quicksilver without any bodily contact? Off the top of my head a weighted bucket with a rope attached to drop in to scoop up the quicksilver and lift it out, a carrying jug with a sealable top to pour it into for transport to the reservoir and wooden rods to manipulate everything without skin touching would have worked. Is there hazard to this quicksilver beyond just a touch toxin risk? It gets airborne and is a inhalation risk?

Well, whatever the reasons simple mechanical means would not work, then perhaps magical ones would. Gabe could open a portal from the base of the quicksilver pool to the quicksilver reservoir. Gotta make sure the reservoir has been patched first or it's all gonna run right back out. Or maybe it'll run out slow, but we want as much time as we can to figure out the quicksilver channels. ...But maybe Gabe could just Gate small amounts from below to the four quicksilver outlets in this chamber's wall. Dunno if it'll work without the full flow, though. Worth a try. Still would prefer to fix the reservoir and fill it and leave this place fully working for Three Horn and her people, if possible.

Also gotta come up with a way to filter the quicksilver. Don't want silt, rock or water getting into the channels. Taking it from around the lower quarter of the quicksilver pool should keep most of that back 'till the pool gets low. The pressure is gonna be high, though, so use a small Gate to keep it under control.

And since the quicksilver is toxic even to kobolds, with prolonged exposure, it is very likely very toxic to everyone else. Make sure to keep the number of non-kobolds around when its flowing to a absolute minimum, and that whoever they are is wearing full body covering and respiration gear. Their clothing and gear is likely gonna be contaminated, so make sure nobody touches it with bare hands as its taken off and stuff it in a sealed container for disposal.

Alternatively, if Casey can form a fully atmo-sealed "second skin" around a person to protect them from quicksilver contamination, then she could do so for Gabe while he weaves Gates to get the quicksilver in. Though, he'll have to wear a air feather canister to breath. Just gotta make sure in the end to "peel" the protective skin off in a way that no quicksilver falls on the person.

But before y'all go mucking about with quicksilver, thoroughly examine the controls and the channels of this chamber. Try and get some idea of what they do and what to do with 'em before there's toxic liquid metal flowing about. Cecil ought to look for any text to read and Casey can use her aura tentacles to lower herself closer to the channels and metallic pearls to see what they may do and if any are damaged.
>>
No. 950232 ID: 4ea248

I think we could figure out a way to clean out this lake and learn something. First, we have to find out why it leaked. Patch the hole if needed.
>>
No. 950234 ID: 91ee5f

>>950223
>“You must be careful. There are fragile places. Keep to the main walkway.”
“It’s not going to fall on your village again, right?”

“No, seriously, we feel really bad about doing that earlier and we don’t want to accidentally do it again.”

>the quicksilver reservoir leaked into the lake below.
Wait, are you telling me that they named it the Twin Lakes after the quicksilver leaked into it? Does that mean that the lake had a different name before the quicksilver got into it?

>My people have had no way to pull the metal out
Gabe could probably portal it out. But before we even think about doing that, we should at least take a look at that podium.

And we’d probably need to find and plug that leak so that any quicksilver we bring up here doesn’t just leak back out when we’re trying to use it for whatever this room needs it for.
>>
No. 950261 ID: de4944

Well for starters, we need to make sure the quicksilver reservoir is patched up and watertight again. Until then we have no place to store the quicksilver.
>>
No. 950270 ID: 10c408

It'd be best to have a bucket or similar large container on the floor with a very small portal placed an inch or two above it and a similarly small portal in the lake.

..But I'm not sure we've got a bucket on hand or any kind of spoon/ladle/scoop to go with safety gloves to try and refill the channels.

I'd say just mark this down for our eventual return trip.
>>
No. 950440 ID: 7816e7
File 157482179163.png - (120.60KB , 499x700 , 10-158.png )
950440

“I could do it with gates...” Gabe steps up, doing math in his head. “But to do it safely and keep an even flow, we’d have to use a fairly small gate to drain the lake. That’ll eat up my mana fairly quickly; it would probably be easier if I had one or two other senders to help.”

“We should get the leak fixed first. Wouldn’t want all that hard work to go to waste.” Casey suggests.

Mr Ochre jots down a few notes. “I know a few workmen that should be able to help. Once were back in Moot Point, I’ll make arrangements with them to join us on a return trip.”

Three Horns claps her hands once in celebration. “Good! Good! I was hoping you might be able to provide a solution. With your help, someday we may be able to turn the lake into a usable water source again!” She wags her tail and beams with tiny, sharp teeth. “You work together quite well, like a good kobold warren. I’m eager to learn more about you!”
>>
No. 950441 ID: 7816e7
File 157482180108.png - (140.82KB , 700x500 , 10-159.png )
950441

“Is that how the channels are controlled?” Kol points to the podium, “Would you mind if we take a look at it? I’d like to see if we can learn anything from it.”

“Please, be my guest..” Three Horns beckons him forward. “I don’t believe anyone knows how it works anymore, besides our gracious master...” She holds up the caged spirit, who sulks and glares at his captor.

Kol steps forward, eyeing the controls. Like earlier, the symbols seem familiar, but don’t have any obvious meaning. On one side, a glossy sphere sits cradled in a small depression, which spins loosely when touched. Next to it is a small, flat grid of blank squares. In one corner is a series of rings that rotate in place, clicking slightly and displaying a set of symbols. An array of runes is clustered in the lower section of the podium, laid out a comfortable finger distance apart.
>>
No. 950444 ID: a9af05

>>950441
Since the only ones that understand these symbols are Muir and the kobolds, let's ask Three Horns if she can tell us what the symbols mean.
>>
No. 950445 ID: b1b4f3

I bet this can be used to call up specific subjects by stringing together symbols to narrow down what you're looking for. Kindof looks like those symbols in the key grid should be letters?
Yeah we'll need someone to tell us what the symbols mean before we can make any further guesses as how to use this.
>>
No. 950446 ID: d004e0

Since Three Horns is the only one here who knows the Old Master's language and is cooperative, ask her to step forward and translate the control panel for us all. Also ask her she knows of what this quicksilver machine did when it worked. Was it simply the Old Master's analog to a library and personal notes and records or was it more? Like, could it remote control systems throughout the mountain? View areas of the mountain remotely? That kind of thing.

And off topic, ask Three Horns if one or two of her people could come back to Moot Point as guests at some point. There's only so much telling stories of the outside world can convey. Seeing it in person would be so much better, and then they can come back and share their experience with their fellow kobolds.
>>
No. 950448 ID: 91ee5f

>>950446
>Also ask her she knows of what this quicksilver machine did when it worked.
I believe she already told us everything she could know is based on stories passed down by her people, but there’s no way of knowing if any of the stories are true. Also, she wouldn’t have been born at the time the machine was working in the past.
>>
No. 950449 ID: e7848c

Such advanced technology to be lost to the ages.. would our spectral ghast be interested in explaining it's workings if we cut them a deal?
>>
No. 950451 ID: 91ee5f

>>950449
I don’t think we should cut a deal with him. We should just do this without his help.
>>
No. 950453 ID: a03998

My TRPG experiences would urge me to always try solving a problem on spot instead "coming back in the future", which rarely happens......

Either way, the complexity of that keyboard seems to indicate that to use it one would need to type in "command". I doubt that's a puzzle our crew (us) can solve. Perhaps we will need to strike a deal with our captive.
>>
No. 950459 ID: 10c408

Hmm...

best guess? Some kind of portal system. There's a LOT of buttons (far left and far right) to go with the gauge (top-middle), two adustable inputs (sphere and dials).

Ask Muir about it. If he continues to sulk, have a not quiet at all conversation between everyone but three horns that letting the various historians, repairmen and other busybodies visit over the coming weeks is going to ensure that nothing is left untouched, like the control panel.
>>
No. 950462 ID: a0dfd2

>>950441

Holy heck, it's a circuit controlled by the flow of mercury, ergo the conveyance of power through it. The "fragile places" are channels on layers beneath here, I imagine, that connect near the nodes.

The sphere bit probably turns the main circle and alters which pathways are enabled or "active," whilst the dials perhaps control flow rates. The concentric rings may have a similar function given the overall layout.

As for the rune buttons ... I imagine they're like the elevator -- set spells that alter the quicksilver itself, and thus what flows through it?
>>
No. 950465 ID: d004e0

Muse out loud, so Muir can hear, why he'd design a control chamber that'd risk exposing the operator to quicksilver in the air. The seemingly smart thing to do would have been to keep all the channels, and especially the falling quicksilver from the inlets, in a separate chamber. So why build it this way? Are there things the operator has to do with the quicksilver to make this run that can't be done with just the console? He was no kobold, so even small exposure would have led to rapidly increasing neurological damage from regular use. Did he just jump to a new body and ditch the damaged one when it got to be too much, or did he have or wear protection, either mundane or magical?

Well, whatever the reasons it was built in such a hazardous way, we have to account for that for whoever operates it. Better ask Mr. Ocher to add getting protective gear for whoever is going to try operating this machine once it's filled with quicksilver.
>>
No. 950468 ID: 10c408

>>950465
This place was built by vampires, or vampire allied individuals with the hubris to go with it. Most likely the kobolds were never allowed into this chamber and thus there was no risk whatsoever.
>>
No. 950515 ID: 7816e7
File 157497289976.png - (130.06KB , 500x700 , 10-160.png )
950515

“Hmm, some of it clearly operates like the transport cubes, but most of this is mystery until we actually get it working.” Kol scratches under his dreads and nibbles his bottom lip. “Maybe Muir could illuminate some of the meaning?”

Three Horns holds up the crystal and the caged vampire grumps back at them silently.

“Really? Anything we can offer that might entice you?”

More silence. The defeated spirit turns away from him and curls up.

“Maybe now isn’t the best time...” Kol shrugs. “Do you think you could help translate it?”

Three Horns squints at the symbols and hmm’s to herself. “Given time, possibly. Some of these lexicons are new and meaningless to kobolds.”

“Alright, a mystery for another time then. Looks like we’re going to have to do more research.”

Gabe groans to himself.

“Very well! Let us retire to the dining chamber, then?” Three Horns leads them back the way they came.

“Three Horns, do you think any of your people would like to come with us when we leave?” Casey asks.

The kobold sighs and nods. “Even I have dreamt of the world outside the mountain. Much debate has been had over what remains outside: some theorizing that the magic users destroyed themselves, or that the world devolved into bloodlust. Clearly they were wrong.”
>>
No. 950519 ID: e7848c

>>950515
Well if you would allow us the honor of showing you just how welcoming the outside world is, we promise you'll enjoy yourselves.
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No. 950525 ID: 015bf2

>>950515
Casey, smile wide and say if it's world history they want to hear, they've come by the right person! Any questions they have, you'd be happy to answer before, during or after the feast.

At some point, you also need to tell them the real reason why you're here. Perhaps in confidence with Three Horns, first of all.

>Backstory
Summarizing quickly and roughly, when the Spirit Guardians of old shut down the Masters' mana wells the world stabilized, over time, as the great powers were unable to draw on the strength they once had.

The Masters are now gone, defeated, passed on, or vanished. People have lived without them and made cities, towns, villages with all kinds of industries and cultures. The world has by and large become a far more peaceful and prosperous place, with less mana-reliant technologies. Though the Spirit Guides remain to usher the dead on, to keep the cycle of life and death true, and prevent the rise of lost souls or new Masters.

>More backstory
You are actually ona quest hunting for information on a particular old Master, Lord Hekal, who vanished some five hundred years ago at the hands of Augustine Moot, one of the Spirit Guardians' great champions. You were also looking for an alternative place for a retainer of Hekal where they might stay to maintain their existence, for they can no longer last for long due to the world's current levels of mana.

Unfortunately, due to a fae-like bond of loyalty, the retainer feels beholden to search until proof of Hekal's passing - or lasting - is found. You'd like to resolve that, and not only because it has left a giant barghast sitting outside your hometown! It is a tragic remnant of an ancient betrayal, and is long overdue some peace of mind.

>Even more backstory
In your search for answers, you came across old records that indicated this place was one of the few mana wells that were not outright collapsed, so came to investigate whether it could be a viable solution for extending the timeline given by the barghast's keeper. Now, finding the kobolds here is exciting beyond words, but may leave you hanging for want of a solution. You feel like the Warren wouldn't be very welcoming of new neighbours that still espouse loyalty to a long-gone Master.

And no, you're certainly not going to force anything on them.
>>
No. 950527 ID: 10c408

>>950525
Let's not inform the kobolds that we're directly helping an ally of their old masters just yet. Keep that cat in the bag until later.
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No. 950528 ID: 91ee5f

>>950515
“We could tell you what it’s like outside.”

So if any of the kobolds wanted to come with us now, how are we going to bring them with us? We’d have to go back to the top of the mountain to get Flashing Feathers and so that Gabe can portal us back home. But the kobolds can’t go to the top because it’s too cold for them.
>>
No. 950542 ID: 10c408

>>950528
I'd be very surprised if there wasn't a signal flare color for "we're leaving via portal and under no duress" that could easily be sent via portal to flashing feathers so he can leave himself. We don't have to go and 'get' the flying weather god. At worst the only thing to do is recollect the discarded cold weather gear
>>
No. 950545 ID: bb78f2

Oh no, we've devolved into lust alright. Just not bloodlust.
>>
No. 950551 ID: 91ee5f

>>950542
But Flashing Feathers came with us through the portal. If we leave without him, would he even know how to get back to Moot Point from here?

And it’s been explained that Gabe needs to do some math in his head to figure out coordinates for his portals. Wouldn’t it be easier for him to return to the top, where he already made a portal, since he already knows the coordinates from up there? That way he doesn’t have to strain his brain trying to figure out the coordinates from within the village.
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No. 950590 ID: 7816e7
File 157516631135.png - (165.25KB , 700x388 , 10-161.png )
950590

“Well, you’d be more than welcome to join us when we leave. Gabe can create a beacon before we go, which should make it easier for any sender to create gates here.”

“What is it like, you know, on the outside?” Three Horns asks.

“We come from a place called Moot Point. The founder of the city was one of several people who helped seal the spirit wells that were the source of power for people like the old master. Together, they helped usher in an age of peace and stability and ended the wars between the magical powers.”

The tiny kobold looks thoughtful as she brings the group down a different tunnel. After a short walk, they find themselves standing in a round, domed room, divided into a circular amphitheater. Kobolds of all shapes and sizes sprawl on woven mats around a large, low fire pit. Delilah waves them over from her seat near the fire.
>>
No. 950596 ID: e7848c

Oh sweet, this is the perfect place to have a rad BBQ
>>
No. 950597 ID: a9af05

>>950590
Well Delilah, what's the verdict? Is the kobold's food safe for us to eat?
>>
No. 950613 ID: b1b4f3

Looks like a couple of them aren't wearing anything at all.
>>
No. 950630 ID: 864e49

>>950613
Looks like a couple of them have already started celebrating.
>>
No. 950636 ID: bb78f2

>>950630
Nothin' like a handjob before dinner, I guess
>>
No. 950652 ID: a0dfd2

>>950596

Oh heck yeah. Fun storytelling and a huge communal meal!
>>
No. 950852 ID: 7816e7
File 157542310631.png - (147.38KB , 700x500 , 10-162.png )
950852

“Hey Del!” Gabe plops down next to her and starts soaking up some of the heat. “How’s the food testing going?”

“Pretty good. I had them put the toxic fungi aside, just stay away from anything with the red spots on them, or any of the puffballs.” Delilah points to a basket of innocuous looking mushrooms. “They seem pretty excited about the snacks you brought. The chefs were experimenting with how to incorporate them with their diet, so be prepared for some odd dishes.”

“Sounds fun!” Gabe takes a peek around, eyeing the kobolds huddled together. “I see some of them have already gotten a head start on things. Is that common?”

“Apparently, yeah. When they come together for a celebration, they take the opportunity to bond with each other and have a little fun. With how excited everyone is, I wouldn’t be surprised if things get a bit wild tonight.”

“Our kind of party, eh?” Gabe sidles close and gives Del a nudge. The healer’s lavender fur blushes slightly and she wraps an arm around the mouse.

As everyone finds a place to sit down, curious kobolds join them and pepper them with rapid fire questions.

“Are you from outside?”

“Is it safe out there?”

“What are these clothes? Does everyone dress like that?”

“Is everyone outside so big?”

“Can you do magic too?”

As various answers are tended to, Three Horns asks a question of her own: “So why did you come here in the first place?”

Casey explains, “We came here looking for information on one of the old masters: a vampire lord named Hekal. Supposedly, the founder of our city appeared before him and he vanished shortly after. We thought we might find some clues about what happened to him.”

“Yes." Three Horns nods, "This Hekal is unfamiliar but if your founder took on one of the old masters by herself, it is likely she was one of our champions. What's more, the magic you have displayed is similar to that of our legends."
>>
No. 950853 ID: 7816e7
File 157542311119.png - (133.79KB , 700x500 , 10-163.png )
950853

"There were three of them. One, who moved like lightning: flickering from place to place in flashes of light. Another, a ghostly, spectral shape that slipped through stone like fog. and the third, who's brilliant gemstone eyes could freeze with a glare."
>>
No. 950855 ID: e7848c

Can we hear these legends? See how far they match up with the founders of each of magic for our guides
>>
No. 950856 ID: 34cb4e

>>950853
if this is a place where our "choice" serendipitously decides what future powers one of the lads gets, I'm most interested in the eyece dude. Otherwise we should ask about the flickering one, because its probs Moot.
>>
No. 950857 ID: b1b4f3

Did the flickering one wield a blade of light?
>>
No. 950875 ID: ce39da

The flickering figure may very well be Moot, which might be a lead. By the way, are there stories about the founding members of the other two magic schools, or are they an enigma? If the latter, it might be cool to get stories about those two as well, and chasing after their trails might lend further leads on Moot.
>>
No. 950884 ID: 10c408

>>950875
From the sound of things these ARE the first clues we're getting about the other two first guardians that worked with Moot. (binder in the middle and medium on the far right.)

Ask more about this, we can compare notes with Pezzi and Rufus later.
>>
No. 950917 ID: 56076d

>>950853
Oh my! Is this in our own records, or something entirely new? Either way, it sounds like it's time for a story swap!
>>
No. 950965 ID: 7816e7
File 157558278916.png - (124.73KB , 700x437 , 10-164.png )
950965

“That flickering person certainly sounds like a sender: probably madam Moot herself. And the spirit was likely one of the original mediums.” Casey agrees. “As for the third, that can only be one person: Tuvara-malli, the teacher! They were a corocotta, a very rare fae born with gemstone eyes. They were the first fae to share binding magic with mortals and one of the founders of the Binding Circle.” She grins with the intense satisfaction of someone unlocking a puzzle. “This proves it! You were visited by the First Guardians! This might be a real clue, guys!”

“Okay, but what does it tell us?” Gabe asks.

“I don’t know yet, but we’re on the right track!”

“So... what about the third one? Must have been the founder of the mediums, right?” Gabe turns to Kol and cocks an eyebrow.

“Possibly. But it gets complicated.” Kol stirs the fire with a poker. “We don’t have a founder. The Path was created by a council of eight who undertook the trials to become mediums. Of the eight, only five survived. Supposedly, the Bardo family can trace their lineage back to one of those five.”
>>
No. 950966 ID: 7816e7
File 157558279894.png - (165.81KB , 700x500 , 10-165.png )
950966

“So, wait. They had basically a fifty-fifty chance of survival?” Gabe’s cocked eyebrow cranks upwards a few degrees.

“Its better now. Closer to like 80- 90 percent chance of success.”

“Still not great, dude!” Gabe scowls and points an incredulous arm across the fire. “It sucks thinking you could have died!”

“Aw, thats very sweet, Gabe.” Kol gives him a bashful half-smile out of the corner of his mouth. “No one undertakes the trials without fully preparing and understanding the risks. Magic like ours isn’t free, or easy to learn. Each of us worked hard and sacrificed to earn it. Its okay if you don’t agree with the way the Path works, but its something I undertook because it meant a lot to me.”
>>
No. 950970 ID: b1b4f3

>>950966
Because of his great-uncle Bardo?

Also, slowly succumb to kobold flirtation.
>>
No. 950980 ID: 3ce8ff

>>950966
gabe looks PISSED despite the happy kobold hug
>>
No. 950985 ID: 7dc36a

>>950966
Is it possible that part of the council died because they found out they liked being dead more than being alive?
Gabe, is Kol this distant often? Quick, Motivate him to stay alive somehow before his spirit floats away.
>>
No. 950997 ID: a9af05

>>950966
Guys? As fascinating as it is to be learning new things about the founders of our respective schools of magic, we're currently being extremely rude. Three Horns was in the middle of telling us the legends of her people and we just interrupted her! Let's listen to what else Three Horns has to say.
>>
No. 951026 ID: 2aa5f0

continue listening to the story while being slowly cuddled by more and more kobolds trying to steal your warmth
>>
No. 951029 ID: a03998

“slowly succumb to kobold flirtation” I would second this suggestion. Are kobolds in this universe warm or cold blooded?
>>
No. 951031 ID: 91ee5f

>>950965
>Tuvara-malli, the teacher
>They were a corocotta, a very rare fae born with gemstone eyes.
>shared binding magic with mortals
Sounds like Tuvara-malli was the one that taught Three Horns’ ancestors their magic.

>>950970
>Also, slowly succumb to kobold flirtation.
Before we do anything like that, I’d like to make absolutely sure that Three Horns’ spell isn’t going to fall apart if she joins in.

Because I really don’t want a repeat of what happened with Gabe. And something tells me that if Muir escapes, we’ll never be able to catch him again.
>>
No. 951032 ID: a9af05

>>951031
>Before we do anything like that, I’d like to make absolutely sure that Three Horns’ spell isn’t going to fall apart if she joins in.
I agree. Once we're sure Muir can't escape, that's when we can join in the kobold cuddles.
>>
No. 951114 ID: 10c408

I'm pretty sure that if you guys would take a moment to observe the rest of the amphitheater, you would discover that the.. festivities have begun in proper order.
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