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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
617 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
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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.
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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!”
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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
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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.
>>
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.
>>
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.
>>
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.
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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."
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No. 950853 ID: 7816e7
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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
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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.”
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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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