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File 157966232803.png - (76.51KB , 500x700 , 11-1.png )
954051 No. 954051 ID: c70ff4

Chapter 11
+18 Adult content

First thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/860238.html
Wiki: https://tgchan.org/wiki/Moot_Point
Previous chapter https://questden.org/kusaba/quest/res/940228.html
568 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 971351 ID: de3d9f

>>971317
Rise and shine, Misssster Graves, rise and...shine. Not that I wish to imply that you have been...sleeping, on the job. No one is more deserving of a rest, and all the effort in the world would have gone to waste until...well.

Let's just say your hour has come again.
>>
No. 971423 ID: c70ff4
File 159383431974.png - (115.27KB , 700x500 , 11-170.png )
971423

“Rise and shine, Graves.” Sir Opinel retorts. “We’ve need of you.”

“Opinel!” The voice scoffs, “What’ve you destroyed this time?” Graves grumbles something about inconsiderate soldiers, mostly muffled by the stone slab.

“Now, now don’t be like that.” Opinel levers the tomb open and reaches inside.

He fishes around for a moment and pulls out... a skull. The undead snarls and curses. “Blazing lichhfire! Too bright!”

“You haven’t got eyes, Graves.” Opinel chuckles and holds the skull up level with his face. Two pinpoints of mana fire burn defiantly in the sockets.

The skull is momentarily distracted from his predicament by the sight of Casey. “Here, who’s that? One of the living?”

Casey bobs her head slightly in greeting, “Nice to meet you. Casey Leander: I’m a spirit guide. We need your help reading a very old book.”

“Spirit guide? Never heard of it. What’s this about a book?”

“Its written in three different languages. One of them appears to be related to vampiric runes, but we don’t know how to translate that.”

“Is that it? Opinel, you wake me up after 300 years to do a bit of light reading? Anything else you want me to do while I’m at it? Shine your sword for you? Might need a hand for that.” The skull rattles.

“He’s always like this when he wakes up.” Opinel says as an aside. “Or when he’s busy, or whenever.”

“Whenever I’m around you!” Graves sputters in protest. “Blasted oaf...” The outrage wears thin as the undead simmers down.
>>
No. 971430 ID: b1b4f3

>>971423
It's a very important book. Related to the First Guardians. Interested now?
>>
No. 971436 ID: 9fad0d

>>971423
Should we give him a moment to get the rest of his bones together or is he just a skull? It'd be interesting if we could get a skeleton as a party member option.
>>
No. 971437 ID: ac70ae

Ask Graves what's his history with Sir Opinel that's cause for his consternation.

Would it help Graves' motivation if he knew his skill would be important to the project of figuring out what happened to Lord Hekal and where he went?

There anything Graves would like to see or do since he's gonna be out and about anyway helping you all?
>>
No. 971464 ID: fa2754

>>971423
Make no mistake, your transition will greatly help us. What can we do to make your time helping us more comfortable?
>>
No. 971591 ID: c70ff4
File 159407088407.png - (103.45KB , 700x500 , 11-171.png )
971591

“There seems to be some history between you two. Are you guys going to be able to work together?”

Opinel shrugs and explains, “He’s still a little bitter that I was afforded a body...”

“Wasteful!” The skull shrieks, “He barely takes care of it! Do you know how much time and magic has been spent stitching him back together? How many time’s he’s thrown himself into battle to get hacked to pieces?”

Casey eyes the longitudinal scar running up Opinels face. “Uh, no?”

“Seven! Those aren’t even the fool’s original teeth! They kept getting knocked out! Its why his mouth looks like a quarry!” The skull rants, the fire within it glowing with each accusation.

Opinel tosses the dead accountant into the air and catches him in one hand. “Hey, now. That’s a bit much. Everything I did was in service of Lord Hekal.”

“More like blind folly!” Graves whines, “The motley fool can’t catch a wink of sleep unless he’s had a fight. You know he gets off on it, don’t you?”

“No comment.” Casey giggles to herself. “So what happened to your body?”

Graves sighs, “Stored in the ossuary to save space. Piled in with the other bones. Thousands of them!”

“Spite me... I don’t suppose you would know where to find them?”

“Of course I can! I know exactly where they are: at least the important bits. A lot of the little fiddly pieces are just piled up, I’d take anything that fits.”
>>
No. 971621 ID: 3ed3c3

>>971591
We chuck him in the ossuary, he pulls himself back together, then he helps us. Fair deal?
>>
No. 971625 ID: ac70ae

Oh, boy. Looks like you and Opinel are gonna be pickin' through a bone pile 'till y'all get Graves' skeleton together. There goes the rest of your day. Well, on to the ossuary. Opinel, lead the way.

Ask Opinel if there's anything that is or was up on the barghast that may have taken, disturbed or destroyed the contents of the ossuary. The grave fleas, perhaps? Or even just the ossuary's ceiling falling in or rain getting in.

Ask Graves if he... Er. What pronoun would Graves prefer you use? Anyway. Ask Graves if Graves could borrow another person's major bones from the ossuary if some or all of Graves original ones were destroyed or missing. Failing that, you'll just have to have somebody else carry Graves while Graves does the translation work.

Think you could call in some more help to pick through the ossuary to speed things up? Any folk up on the bargast that could lend a hand? Oh, Ashe said Mari wanted to poke through such a ancient site, so maybe Mari could lend a hand too.
>>
No. 971631 ID: b1b4f3

>>971591
Well alright that sounds simple enough.
>>
No. 971669 ID: e7848c

>>971591
As long as this doesn't take a lifetime.
Pun intended.
>>
No. 971850 ID: c70ff4
File 159434416312.png - (189.00KB , 700x500 , 11-172.png )
971850

“Alright, as long as it doesn’t take too long. I’m hoping to get some more analysis done on that book today.” Casey shrugs and nods to the knight to lead the way.

Opinel tucks the skull under his arm, provoking some muffled protest, and sets off further into the graveyard. Hunting back and forth, he finds what he’s looking for tucked between a pair of towering tombs.

He holds up Graves and asks, “In here?”

“Yeah, thats the one. Come on, get moving, then.”

Opinel rolls his eyes and clambers down the steps into the crypt.

Casey follows, having to duck slightly to fit in the narrow passage. Icy blue flames illuminate a series of tunnels dug through the graveyard. In the dim light, she can see shelves lining the walls piled high with bones: each shelf seemingly dedicated to a specific body part.

Having never seen burial practices like this, Casey pokes around with interest. Having forgotten the original purpose of the bargast, she realizes the scale of its potential.

“So... Graves... actually, what do you prefer? He? She? They?”

“Mmm, hardly matters at this point.” Graves stares unblinkingly at a wall of bones, directing Opinel as he points with a finger at a thousand identical femurs. “When I was alive, I was a man.”

“How many bodies are there?”

“Just here? Or on the whole bargast?”

“The whole thing, if you don’t mind.”

The undead pauses to remember, “Oh, 30... 35 thousand. At the height of its power, it could carry some 50 thousand troops into battle.”
>>
No. 971851 ID: 3ed3c3

>>971850
A good number. Though, now that there is no war to fight, what becomes of all these people? Eternal rest? Or something else?
>>
No. 971852 ID: b1b4f3

Hmm, lots of bodies... but wouldn't it take a long time for them to ah... assemble? They're all in what is essentially cold storage.
Also it sounds like they might run out of mana during a war, and literally fall apart.
>>
No. 971854 ID: 365ffb

This is genuinely hella fascinating. Nerd out to your heart's content.
>>
No. 971858 ID: fa2754

>>971850
Is there enough magic around to animate all these people back into battle?
>>
No. 971887 ID: 4a9aa5

You really wish you'd thought to bring your notebook to record this stuff. Something to remember to do every time you come up to the barghast.

So, how old is that 30,000 to 35,000 head count? Do they still do a regular census to determine how many of those folks' spirits are still around, mentally together enough to fight and if they have damaged or missing parts?

Assuming those troops were stored in the same or similar way to Graves, how'd they go about assembling the troops and how long did it take? Because it seems like it'd take quite awhile to get all those people's bones to the right person. That'd be a detriment if the barghast comes under a sudden major attack. Hm... If the newly assembled troops also assemble more troops and so on, the assembly speed would scale almost exponentially. Then the limit would be space in the ossuary tunnels for them to move about. Though, in this case it'd make more sense to keep each person's bones all together for speed of assembly. Packed properly they'd take up hardly more space.

Hm... Why aren't there teams of historians and archaeologists up here? Getting first-hand accounts of history from those present would be something historians would love, and archaeologists would love to get a chance to work on a actual barghast. It seems like such a rare opportunity that such academics would be chomping at the bit to take advantage of.
>>
No. 972230 ID: c70ff4
File 159476056713.png - (187.63KB , 527x700 , 11-173.png )
972230

“Fucking Fates...” Casey mutters to herself, “Its a good thing there aren’t really any more wars to fight... hopefully.” She adds.

“True.” Opinel agrees, “The wars of old were terrifying, especially once things started to fall apart.”

Casey stops and turns to the knight. “What was that like? Our accounts of what happened don’t really tell us much.”

“Panic.” He shrugs and continues, “After Lord Hekal went missing, Rodwin returned from where ever he had been sent by magic. He tried to take the reigns over what was left. Some of the generals had carved up the kingdom into their own territories, but lacked the mana to field standing armes. It wasn’t long before they lost control.”

“And we weren’t alone. All over the mortal realms, thrones were toppling. Leaders of great factions going missing, their wells of power being sealed. The hunger for what was left led them to lash out in fear. But the people saw that, for once, they were vulnerable and struck back.”

He chuckles, “Rodwin did what he could, consolidated the undead still viable and took them north to await our lord’s return.”

Casey nods along, “Well, we know what caused that upheaval: Augustine Moot and the first guardians. From what we’ve uncovered, they were the ones sealing mana wells.”

“Hmm, a prudent tactic.” Opinel nods approvingly. “A means of sowing disorder among your enemies with minimal loss of life. Lord Hekal discussed similar strategies but lacked the means to execute them.”

“We really have to get a historian or archivist up here to document all of this.” Casey runs her fingers over a wall of ossuary, feeling the age pouring off of it. “It would really fill out our understanding of the end of the Wild Age.”

“Heh, it would certainly help pass the time.” The knight’s grin is a bone white saw in the dark. “Do you know any?”

Casey sighs and rubs her forehead. “I... might know a couple...” She jabs a finger at the undead and demands, “but you can’t tell them about our uh- ‘wrestling match’. Got it?”

“Fates forbid it.” Opinel promises.

“Wait, what’s this about wrestling? I missed something, didn’t I?” Graves mutters. Opinel raps on his forehead with a knuckle and shuts him up.
>>
No. 972232 ID: 365ffb

All the parts here pretty much the same, or could you mix and match parts?

It's probably a good thing all that happened. The world is sooo much better without all the fighting.
>>
No. 972513 ID: c70ff4
File 159495401590.png - (141.72KB , 500x700 , 11-174.png )
972513

“How’s the bone hunt going?” Casey asks.

“Eh, getting there,” Graves mutters, “could be faster though.”

“How much can you mix and match these?”

“A little bit, but I’d rather not be stomping around with two different sized legs, thank you very much.
But there should be some piles deeper inside for all the little fiddly stray bones. If you go grab a couple of handfuls, I can start piecing everything together.”

The binder dutifully heads off into the dark. She extends her aura to give the gloom a slight glow. The stones down here are cold and drip with a condensation that shines like seed pearls on velvet.

Something crunches unpleasantly underfoot and sends calcified shards tinkling in all directions. Casey holds out her hand to see and illuminates a pale, white cone made of tiny bones.
>>
No. 972514 ID: fa2754

You don't want to touch this with your bare hands. Will your magic accommodate holing a bunch of little things?
>>
No. 972519 ID: b1b4f3

>>972513
Moisture? How do they keep the mold out?
Oh well grab some of dem bones dem bones dem slightly wet bones
>>
No. 972530 ID: 3ed3c3

Ooh, actually. Just a thought, but be careful when picking out vertebrae. You get the wrong section in the wrong place and the whole thing collapses.
>>
No. 972531 ID: 36784c

>>972513
Normally places like this would have some kind of guardian, right? You should be careful, you never know where something would jump out at you in here.
>>
No. 972533 ID: 7dd242

"Sorry, whoever's bone that was."
>>
No. 972565 ID: 365ffb

Maybe the moisture isn't water? Either way, you're probably fine. If there weren't any problems having fun with opinel you probably don't need to worry super hard about it. Just try to get a good spine and set of legs.
>>
No. 972570 ID: 8fab7a

>>972533
and
>>972514
>>
No. 972847 ID: c70ff4
File 159528241764.png - (146.07KB , 700x500 , 11-175.png )
972847

Casey murmurs a quiet apology to the owner of the bone she stepped on and approaches the pile carefully. Extending her aura, she scoops into the surface and tries to collect a decent variety for reconstruction.

Despite her care, the top of the mound shifts and clatters to the floor in a cascade of ancient remains. Casey winces while she waits the rattling to fade away, yet strangely it seems to get louder.
>>
No. 972849 ID: b1b4f3

>>972847
Looks like someone mustered up the backbone to confront you!
Tell them you have permission to be here! Try to get back upstairs to rejoin your guide.
>>
No. 972850 ID: 1a04af

Yeah, this is no time to get boned.
>>
No. 972853 ID: e7848c

>>972847
Don't look now, looks like someone has a bone to pick
>>
No. 972906 ID: 422cea

Anyone else feel a chill going down their spine?

...

Boner.
>>
No. 972907 ID: 36784c

>>972847
It’s getting louder because the bones are animating behind you! Quick, use your aura and whip it away!
>>
No. 972914 ID: 62e4df

You were invited down here, I'm sure they would have warned you if there were something dangerous down here. Still, you can't help but feel on edge. This place is kind of creepy.
>>
No. 972945 ID: 9fad0d

>>972847
Look's like Casey's about to enter the BONE ZONE.

Or rather, the BONE ZONE is about to enter her.

Sorry, not sorry.
>>
No. 972978 ID: c70ff4
File 159546902640.png - (150.43KB , 700x500 , 11-176.png )
972978

The rattle of bones echoes behind Casey and she turns curiously. A long rope of vertebrae snakes its way out of the dark, blindly reaching for her. She stumbles backwards with a yelp and lands in the bone pile with a clatter.

Instinctively, she whips out her hand and lashes at it with an aura tendril. The magic bats away the top third of the spinal column, sending bones rolling like dice into lost corners of the crypt. The remaining undead construct advances towards her, seemingly unaware of the attack. Casey blinks at it disbelievingly for a moment before feeling more rattling from the bone pile.
>>
No. 972983 ID: 094652

Calm down; you are the guest, they are the residents. Maybe they just want to play. Just calmly state you are here under the permission of their lord and you're here to get spare parts for Sir Graves' new body project.
>>
No. 972984 ID: b1b4f3

If it's ignoring your actions maybe it isn't here because of you.
Collect yourself and get out of its way. Try not to step on any more bones.
>>
No. 973006 ID: 365ffb

Get back up near the door and just... watch. Maybe it'll be something good! And if not, you'll have Opinel nearby to uh, assist.
>>
No. 973012 ID: 028f23

>>972978
Huh. Maybe it's a housekeeping construct.
Best bet's to distance yourself and observe. It might just be trying to clean up the mess.
>>
No. 973020 ID: adb916

Get back to the stairs, should be able to grab a bit of bones from there anyway.
>>
No. 973025 ID: fa2754

On your feet! Brush yourself off, scan surroundings. Is it just the one skeleton forming?
>>
No. 973026 ID: 36784c

>>972978
Call for Opinel! He’ll be able to call off whatever that is so that you don’t hurt it and it doesn’t hurt you!
>>
No. 973097 ID: c70ff4
File 159564123696.png - (194.68KB , 500x700 , 11-177.png )
973097

Casey scrambles out of the pile and up the stairs, scooping up a load of bones in the process.

She emerges back in the upper crypt, panting and flushed. She drops the small pile on the floor and glares.

Opinel pauses from his task of laying out the collected skeleton.

“What’s the matter with you?” The skull stares back impassively from its place on the floor.

“What was that down there? Why didn’t you warn me?”

“Warn you about what?” Opinel asks, his hand going to his sword.

She points, double fingered at the lower crypt. “Some kind of... I don’t know, I went to collect some bones with my aura and they started animating: they were coming at me!”

“That... shouldn’t be possible...” Opinel says slowly as he stands up.

“Wait, you said you were spell casting?” Graves remarks out of genuine surprise.

“Just some simple auramancy.” Casey points to the seals on her arms. “So I could carry things easier.”

“Ohhhhhh...” the skulls voice trails off and it clicks a non existent tongue. “That explains it: they must have been drawn to the mana.”

“You didn’t mention that when you sent me down there!”

The brief break in conversation allows the distant rattle of bones to echo up from the depths of the crypt.

“Uh, we might want to hurry...” Graves barks.
>>
No. 973128 ID: 028f23

>>973097
Oh.
I guess without the actual souls attached, they're just going to act like mindless undead.
We should go, then, yes.
>>
No. 973139 ID: fa2754

Would they have been given enough juice to completely form? Maybe Dog knight should lead and keep them at bay with pure physical means.
>>
No. 973164 ID: 3ed3c3

>>973097
Oh, Graves, if we get out of this, I am using you for a kickball.
Piece his body back together and get the Hell out.
>>
No. 973168 ID: b1b4f3

>>973097
Ok no more magic. Physical only.
>>
No. 973170 ID: 83bd82

Better ask Graves just how bat it is that Casey fed mana into those bones and what we're gonna be facing. We talking a few mindless self-assembling bones flopping about, seeking out her as a source of mana, a big Katamari ball of bones rolling up the stairs to run us over or some big-ass mis-matched bone horror rampaging up to drain Casey's mana?

Considering that pretty much all of Casey's attacks are magic based and thus the mana she gives off would end up fueling those self-assembling bone things down there if they came up here after her, she ought not to be on the front line. She should trade places with Opinel, since his purely physical attacks would not end up feeding the undead bones mana.

Opinel will stand guard at the archway while Casey hunts down and collects Graves bones. She can use her aura magic to carry Graves' bones, since adding more mana to him isn't a issue. (She could even use her aura to make a assembly frame to piece him together on the go.) She definitely should not use her aura to pick bones out of the piled bones, since that's gonna animate even more of 'em. Once all Graves' bones are collected, the assembly ought to be done on the surface, where it's safe.
>>
No. 973453 ID: c70ff4
File 159598185037.png - (127.34KB , 700x500 , 11-178.png )
973453

“You two go. I’ll hold them back.” Opinel draws his blade and steps forward.

“...Really?” Casey cocks an eyebrow at the knight. “The exit’s right there. You can just come with us.”

“This isn’t some noble sacrifice crap is it, Opinel?” Graves accuses, “He’s always doing this! Needlessly throwing himself into danger for no reason!”

Opinel sighs and leans on his sword. “Hey, I haven’t done a noble sacrifice in like... four hundred years. Besides: its a bunch of half-formed skeletons. They have no strategy or tactics, they’re just hungry. Plus I have the high ground and a bottleneck. Barely qualifies as a last stand if you ask me.”

Casey points out, “Yeah but didn’t we just talk about not exerting yourself too much?”

The knight rubs his forehead, kneading the line of stitches. “Well what do you suggest? Any more magic and we’ll have the whole crypt awakened.”

“You guard our rear then. Graves, do you have enough here to put yourself together?”

“I can make do.” The skull admits, “Might take a minute.”

The crack and tinkle of bone in the basement galvanizes them. “Fine, let’s get it done. Opinel, guard the door.”

The soldier turns back to the portal just in time to slap a stray femur back down the stairs. “Alright, have at you.” He barks back at the undead in challenge, but without much enthusiasm.
>>
No. 973460 ID: b1b4f3

Well, he can definitely handle that.
Help gather any bones that might still be missing.
>>
No. 973475 ID: 365ffb

Yeah he should be good for at least a little while. Try to assemble Graves nice and quick, do your best to limit your mana use so you don't stick out like a giant beacon screaming "eat me!"
>>
No. 973476 ID: fa2754

>>973453
Sorry Casey, seems like you're just going to have to get your hands dirty and reach into another bone pile
>>
No. 973500 ID: c70ff4
File 159608066179.png - (185.23KB , 700x500 , 11-179.png )
973500

“Okay, what’s left?” Casey picks up the skull and hurries over to the wall of bones.

“Errrr... shoulder blades, annnnd some of the arm bones. The smaller one, I don’t know the name for them.”

Casey finds a hollow space filled with shoulder blades and traces with her finger as Graves seeks out his missing skeleton.

“There, third one back.” The mouse shoves her arm in up to the elbow and feels around, pulling out a wide, flat slab of bone.

A few minutes of work later and she plops the remaining pieces down on the floor.

“Not enough for a proper tail, but I suppose I’ll ‘live’” Graves mutters. Various smaller bones start to rattle and drag themselves into position, forming hands, feet, shoulders, knees and spine. The undead slowly threads himself together with bits of magic until he’s standing for the first time in centuries. “That... oh that’s much better. Fates I’ve missed having legs.”
>>
No. 973502 ID: fa2754

>>973500
Make sure everything's aligned and get your stretching in, Graves. Casey, how's Opinel?
>>
No. 973503 ID: b1b4f3

What would be needed for a proper tail? We might have time still... depends on how bored Opinel is.
>>
No. 973601 ID: c70ff4
File 159624642937.png - (137.64KB , 700x542 , 11-180.png )
973601

“ We better use them, come on.” Casey waves towards the exit. “Opinel, you coming?”

The knight parries a few enthusiastic vertebrae and shrugs. His sword dances in the dim light as they make their escape, keeping a flurry of tiny bones at bay.

“Why are they so active? You said this shouldn’t be possible!” Casey asks as she stumbles back into the daylight.

“I don’t know. Normally the horde is content to sleep until called into battle. The bargast is supposed to keep them sustained.” Opinel sheathes his blade and joins her.

The various bones clatter to a halt at the entrance of the crypt before retreating.

“That must mean the bargast isn’t able to sustain them.” Casey kicks at a stray finger bone and frowns. “If this keeps up, we may not have to wait a year before there’s a whole undead army on our doorstep.”
>>
No. 973602 ID: e7848c

>>973601
Well that's concerning news. That means we'll need Graves all the more
>>
No. 973603 ID: cdabe3

oh dear, that's not good. we should probably bring this up to rodwin when we have a chance
>>
No. 973604 ID: 8fab7a

>>973601
Odd. Mmmaybe the issue is something different?

How do you communicate with 'the horde'? Normally, like. I mean, it's... still individuals right? Not some singular massive amalgamated conglomeration of souls.

... right?
>>
No. 973606 ID: b1b4f3

>>973601
Well... let's hope the leads we have pan out.
>>
No. 973608 ID: 8959f6

Well, this is bad news. Better bring it to everybody involved in the project of finding out what happened to Lord Hekal ASAP, as well as to Rodwin's attention. We're all gonna need to adjust our plans and timetables.

In the mean time, blocking up the crypt exits and sealing up any sleeping undead not in the crypts would be prudent, so they can't just wander out on their own, off the bargast and down into Moot Point.

Who or what could take a measure of the barghast's mana level and output as well as the mana drain of the sleeping undead hoard? We need that plus what the normal, stand-by levels of those are to figure out how much time we got left 'till they get hungry enough to wake up fully. Also to figure out how much of a mana deficit it's running. We might be able to delay things by adding more mana from outside, but we need a idea of just how much would buy how much time.
>>
No. 973610 ID: b1b4f3

Didn't we have a deadline of less than a year anyway?

...wait a minute. If Rodwin can't control the wild undead maybe that's why he's looking for Lord Hekal? In order to prevent an undead invasion?
>>
No. 973611 ID: 028f23

>>973604
I think the problem is that these are the bits of those people that aren't still connected to their souls.

Just like Graves wasn't connected to all of his bones. They were sleeping like he was, but separate from his body. They're supposed to stay dormant till they get reattached, but obviously they're not, so we have a bunch of mindless, soulless body parts flopping around looking for mana.
>>
No. 973612 ID: 8fab7a

>>973611
But there must be an animating force that's starting to leech ambient magic. I presumed it was spirits because, uh, what else would it be? They'd need the Barghast's magic to keep existing. If that's starting to not feel like enough they might just... start lashing out, instead of seeking, well, reasonable alternatives or going back into slumber.

Maybe the Barghest's supply still IS enough, even, it's just... well, richer stuff suddenly became available. So right now they're just acting a bit like magnets, going straight for the greatest attractor ('eyyy).

Maybe while still in slumber modus.
>>
No. 973845 ID: c70ff4
File 159658985352.png - (129.78KB , 500x700 , 11-181.png )
973845

“Casey!”

They turn to see a red robed figure waving at them from across the clearing. A gate opens and the figure hops through with a clap of thunder.

“Hey, I’ve been scrying all over. Ashe sent me by to give you a hand.” Mariana of the spirit guardians chirps brightly as the gate closes. “Sir Opinel, right?”

“Yes, I believe we met briefly before you went hunting the grave-fleas.”

“Such amazing constructs. We’d never heard of naturally occuring parasitic constructs like that.” She offers a hand to shake, “Mariana Rue-Larrey: guardian sender.”

“Well met.” They shake and Opinel grins, “You have good timing. We... have concerning news.”

“Oh?” The bird cocks her head.
>>
No. 973846 ID: e7848c

>>973845
Commence info dump. Casey, share notes. Graves, take your body through its paces
>>
No. 973851 ID: 3ed3c3

>>973845
The dead are rousing ahead of schedule, and we have no idea why.
>>
No. 973852 ID: b1b4f3

The dead... are restless.
>>
No. 973855 ID: b1b4f3

...oh god, what if the grave fleas were necessary?
>>
No. 973895 ID: 8fab7a

>>973845
Apparently ye olde ghostly bonehorde down below might not be quite satisfied by the current levels of mana the Barghast is providing.

Which is weird. Didn't the Spirit Guardians rid of a bunch of ticks that, well, was leeching off some of that too? If anything there should be more mana left than originally anticipated, no?

Anyway, long story short, you went down there to pick up some parts and your use of magic got them riled. They tried to glom onto you and may or may not be rilin' further. Sending in anybody with excess mana seems unwise if they leechin', unless it's to wholescale 'deal' with the problem, but thaaat might upset our more mindly new neighbours whose parts and buddies we'd surely be ruining.

Thoughts?

And the question is begged. Why now? They kept quiet so far. And no word has come in of that changing. Did Casey trip a latent trap/defense or what?
>>
No. 974038 ID: c70ff4
File 159676847633.png - (135.56KB , 700x500 , 11-182.png )
974038

“We were just down in the catacombs, “casey explains, “and we’re starting to get undead activity”

“Uh-huh?” Mariana side eyes Graves, who waves back.

“Oh no, not him. Thats Graves: he’ll be helping translate the vampire runes.”

The guardian raises a finger. “Wait, so we’re just going to have a skeleton wandering around the library?”

“Ooh, you have a library?” Graves stands up a bit straighter, his interest perked. “No one mentioned this.”
>>
No. 974039 ID: c70ff4
File 159676848010.png - (147.32KB , 700x500 , 11-183.png )
974039

Casey shrugs, “Unless you have any better ideas.” She continues, “Bigger problem though: there’s apparently tens of thousands of undead buried in the bargast and they’re starting to wake up. Sir Opinel thinks they’re hungry for mana.”

“Litchfire...” Mariana sighs, “Can they be controlled?”

Opinel waves his hand horizontally in a universal, non-committal way. “Vaugely. Some of them, yes, but the vast bulk of the army is made up of skeletal warriors. At the best of times they were made to follow simple orders, but if they’re hungry... who knows?”

“We best hurry then. The faster we figure this thing out, the sooner we can get them away from the city. I’ll let the other guardians know and see what we can do to contain the situation.” Mariana rubs her temples and groans, “And I have some math to do...”

Before Casey can ask, Mariana opens a gate for the four of them. Through the blazing ring, she can see the library of the Sender Order.
>>
No. 974040 ID: c70ff4
File 159676848895.png - (116.14KB , 500x700 , 11-184.png )
974040

Kol holds up the scrying crystal and watches the light glint through its perfect surface. “Thanks, you guys. I know Gabe is going to love it!”

“No, thank you!” Miki shouts back. She waves from her perch in Raithe’s arms as he hovers above. “There’s no way we could have handled that without you!”

“Yeah sorry!” Raithe continues, “We’ll let you know next time we accidentally invite a walking wildfire into town.”

“Its okay! At least nobody got hurt, and it was fun!” Kol waves back.

Miki’s face twists up with concern, “I hope Cauldera’s okay...”

Caleb grunts and nods, “Viv knows what she’s doing...”
>>
No. 974043 ID: b1b4f3

Wanna go check on her anyway?
>>
No. 974059 ID: 365ffb

Maybe you could go shopping for something she'd like? She <i>did</i> pull you guys out of that fire, after all!
>>
No. 974097 ID: 9fad0d

>>974040
I kinda wonder how Nixxy and Fennel's time with fire rescue is going. What sort of antics they're getting into once the fires have been dealt with and all that.
>>
No. 974283 ID: c70ff4
File 159709831244.png - (103.10KB , 700x500 , 11-185.png )
974283

“Do you think we ought to go check on them?”

“Mmmm... I’d wait a bit. Something tells me Viv’s going to want some time to get to each other better.” A deep “heh” rumbles out of Caleb.

“Ohhh, gotcha.” Kol snaps and cocks a finger. The mouse staggers over to a bench and flops into the seat with a groan. “Fuckin Fates, that was a lot.”

“For sure.” Caleb plods over and sits next to him. The bench creaks and rocks on an unbalanced leg. “You alright?” The selkie drapes a hefty arm around the back of the bench, framing Kol’s shoulders.

“Going to be sore, probably, but doing okay.” Kol sighs, “I can’t help think we’re forgetting something.”
>>
No. 974284 ID: c70ff4
File 159709832045.png - (199.01KB , 700x428 , 11-186.png )
974284

”Hello! Nixxy is here to help! You hang on to Nixxy, okay?”

“Downt wowwy! We got dis!”

”NIxxy is having so much fun!

“Dats gweat, Niwxy! Get dem owut of the smowke and check upstaiws for anybody ewlse!”

”Hang on to Nixxy!”
>>
No. 974285 ID: c70ff4
File 159709832616.png - (122.33KB , 500x700 , 11-187.png )
974285

“Eh, I’m sure its fine. Its been a long day.” Kol smirks back at the selkie. “How about you? You okay?”

“Yeah... I guess.” Caleb stares at his knees and scratches at his neck with a stray claw. “Just... seeing Viv again really opened up a lot of... stuff I’ve been holding back.”
>>
No. 974287 ID: 864e49

>>974285
Yeah, about that?
>>
No. 974289 ID: b1b4f3

>>974285
Offer your shoulder whenever he needs it.
>>
No. 974291 ID: e7848c

>>974285
These big ears aren't just for show big guy.
>>
No. 974316 ID: 028f23

>>974285
Seems that heartfelt talk might come sooner than I expected. Feel things out, see how the cards play. If it's the right time to have that chat, you'll know.
Magical resonance or what have you can take a backseat to emotional intelligence for the time being.
>>
No. 974324 ID: c70ff4
File 159719564027.png - (81.78KB , 700x500 , 11-188.png )
974324

“You wanna talk about it?” Kol offers.

Caleb shrugs like a small landslide. “I guess... I’m not good at talkin’...”

“Its okay. You said a bunch of stuff opened up: like what?”

“Just... Adrian. Every time I think I can finally move on, something reminds me of him and all the...the hurt comes rushing back.” Caleb sighs. “S’ weird, you remind me so much of him. But for some reason when I’m around you, doesn’t hurt like it should.”

“I... yeah.” Kol nods along. “I don’t know what happened exactly, but... when you were singing, I think I saw something. It was you and Adrian... and what happened.” The mouse pauses, as he picks through his sentences.

Caleb looks back at him with a strange mixture of hope and despair. “Really? What, like his memories?”

“Maybe? I don’t know. Its like something left of him, I guess.”

Caleb groans and scratches his forehead hopelessly. “Fu-ckin magic... “
>>
No. 974326 ID: e7848c

>>974324
Hold that boy's hand. He looks like he can use the comfort
>>
No. 974352 ID: 9fad0d

>>974324
Mayhap an evening with Kol and the other mice together might offer Caleb that comfort to some degree? The extra attention and affection might do wonders, is all.
>>
No. 974354 ID: 094652

Piggyback hug
>>
No. 974355 ID: 365ffb

Just tell him that whatever the case is, you're here to help him feel better and you're willing to take the time to figure things out when he's up for it.
>>
No. 974363 ID: dbd72b

getting possessed by someone that close to lichdom isn't a really common or encouraged phenomenon. we don't regret what we did, but there might be some lingering effects? The mana oil kept any real damage from happening, but there may have been some kind of "imprint"?

Looks like there's some figuring out for us to do
>>
No. 974403 ID: c70ff4
File 159728822623.png - (86.21KB , 700x500 , 11-189.png )
974403

The pair are quiet for a bit: the gulf of awkwardness between them swallowing up any conversation. Alone with their thoughts, they shift uncomfortably. Unable to take it any longer, they both try to speak and falter.

Caleb’s chest heaves a sigh as he finally breaks the silence. “Kol...I- I’ve been thinking...” He stares down at his calloused, shovel-sized palms. “You said that you wanted to hear... about everything. But I’m worried I’m just usin’ you... kinda...”

“What? No, Caleb, I’m here for you. I want to help.“
Kol lays his hand in Caleb’s calloused palm.

“I know that... I just... see so much o’ Adrian in you sometimes. I think I’m still trying to put off... accepting things.” His voice is a vulnerable grumble.

“You... you really think so?”

Caleb nods, still not looking at the mouse. “See, it feels like... I just picked up where I left off with Adrian, but I never got to know you.” The selkies eyes dart nervously between the ground and Kol. “Ya know what I’m saying?”
>>
No. 974416 ID: fa2754

>>974403
Caleb, you can just say you want to go on a date. It's okay. Kol's choice.
>>
No. 974417 ID: 9fad0d

>>974403
Definitely take his offer up on getting to really know Kol (and hopefully by extension Casey and Gabe as well)

Really though, it seems to have been a long and extremely eventful day for all involved. Bit of extra love seems welcome right now, in my opinion.
>>
No. 974422 ID: 365ffb

If you need help accepting things, you're talking to the exact right mouse. And sometimes learning more about someone new is going to help. Go ahead Kol, tell him you're up for showing him who you really are.
>>
No. 974430 ID: dbd72b

So... let's fix that. Kol, invite him somewhere you like that Caleb might be up for
>>
No. 974455 ID: c70ff4
File 159737417093.png - (137.83KB , 575x700 , 11-190.png )
974455

“I guess I can see what you mean.” Kol scratches at the back of his neck as he thinks about it. “What’re you suggesting?”

“Well... what if we start over?” Caleb nods to himself, feeling a bit more confident. “You and me: fresh start, that kinda thing?”

“Like a date?” Kol smiles back at him. “Didn’t think you were the type.” 

“Hey, now. Its been a while, but I still know how to show someone a good time!” Caleb chuckles. “Ya know, have a chance to get to know you, and your partners.” 

"Of course," Kol leans forward on his knees and smirks back at him. “You alright with me being open?” 

The selkie shrugs and folds his arms thoughtfully. “Eh, far as I see, its fine. Just another thing we should, you know, figure out.”

“Cool. Yeah.” Kol nods as he processes things.
>>
No. 974456 ID: c70ff4
File 159737418338.png - (144.75KB , 700x500 , 11-191.png )
974456

“So... I’ve got a question, since we’re getting to know one another. How old are you?”

“I’m...well... I’m eighty-four.”

“You fuckin dirty old man!” Kol backhands Caleb's leg playfully.

“What?! That’s like nothing for a fey!”

“Still though!” Kol, shakes his head and mutters to himself, “ Eighty-four!

“Okay, then kiddo: how about you tell me something about yourself?”

“Like what?”

“Like uhhhh,” Caleb rocks back as he thinks, prompting another creak from the bench. “You got any family?”

“Heh, yeah I’d say I have some family.” Kol nods and chuckles. “You already met my uncle Sifr.”

“Oh yeah. Nice guy.” Caleb mumbles.

“And I’ve got eight siblings back home...”

“Fuck’n Fates. Just a whole herd o’ya, isn’t there?”

“Three brothers, four sisters and Maoli, who’s agender. I’m the oldest though.” He waves a hand in a lazy circle. “I’m thirty-two, if you’re wondering.”

“I was, but wasn’t gonna ask after that ‘old man’ crack.” Caleb rolls his eyes. “You all get along, then?”

“Oh yeah, for the most part. They live up in the Stray Hills, near the start of the Path of the Mediums."

"Huh, alright...You got anything you want to ask me?"
>>
No. 974457 ID: fa2754

>>974456
You and Viv, eh? How much of a story is there? What's a fae childhood like anyways?
>>
No. 974464 ID: 365ffb

What's the best part of being a selkie? What's the best part about the ocean? Any secret insider knowhow?
>>
No. 974468 ID: b1b4f3

Seen any cool ocean spirits?
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