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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
318 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 960915 ID: c70ff4
File 158614009988.png - (124.48KB , 500x700 , 11-199.png )
960915

Deep within the Sender’s Library, Casey’s binding spell flips holds the page suspended for her to examine. She scribbles at her notepad, dutifully copying down as much of the poorly written text as possible. Once transcribed, it can be analyzed without further damaging the book.

The sound of lightweight wheels on stone cause her to look up as Ashe, the head librarian, approaches.

“You look tired, want to take a break?” Ashe suggests. There’s a small pop as she reaches into a gate and pulls out a sandwich on a plate. She places it at an empty table, away from any of her precious collection.
>>
No. 960916 ID: c70ff4
File 158614011250.png - (0B , 500x700 )
960916

Casey sighs, “Yeah. I don’t know if my eyes are getting tired, or if the handwriting is getting worse at this point.”

“Yes, its certainly a... unique text. It requires a certain amount of abstract thought just to decode it.”

“And that’s just the first section...” Casey joins her at the table, taking a seat next to the sandwich. “Its not one book: its three books!”

Ashe nods. “Have you learned anything yet?”

“Just bits and pieces. Its clear that each one is a kind of primer for a different school of magic. The first was definitely written by Augustine, although ‘written’ is a bit generous.”

“Yes, she was definitely not very familiar with putting her words down on paper.”

“Yeahhhh, its more like a loose collection of notes and scribbles. Half the time she addresses the reader directly as though she was writing a letter or something. Also looooot of old timey profanity. Augustine sure had a mouth on her.” Casey looks at her notes. A section stands out that roughly translates to “Don’t let me catch you pig eared, tail-lifting, sailor’s wives sticking your dicks in gates lest you lose them.

“Judging by what I’ve heard, that sounds about right.” Ashe admits. “She always seemed to be a very outspoken person; even going so far as to declare her distaste for the monument built in her honor.”

“The second part is written by Tuvara-Malli, that much is clear: its a classic fey poetic-contract detailing the art of aura shaping.” She sighs, but wistfully rather than frustrated. Casey closes her eyes, thinking of the long, looping strokes of ink. “Its so beautiful to read. 'I sat among the trees and watched the blaze of sun chasing moon. Vines came to claim me and tree as one, and reflected in my eyes were a thousand soft, green shoots. Coiled through my fur they became as iron: binding flesh to wood. I knew then the form of the vine, taking its strength and weaving it into my own.'”

“Mmm....” Ashe agrees dreamily.

“Its just so dense. Fey poetry has hardly changed in the last 500 years, but it still takes time to translate. It could take months to sort through it all.”

“Most troubling, but not insurmountable.”

“And the third book...” Casey checks ner notes again, examining the strange scrawls. “I don’t know who the author was, or what the language is, but do know one thing: the lexicon is identical to the runes found in Muirs fortress.”
>>
No. 960919 ID: e7848c

>>960916
Oooh inspect the floating one the on the far left.

Speaking up Muir, have we convinced him of any sort of deals to help learn something?
>>
No. 960921 ID: 91ee5f

>>960914
>“Let’s just say: ‘you break it, you bought it’ can mean an awful lot of things to a fey salesman.”
Let this be a warning, do not touch anything! Hell, you might even need to be careful with looking at something!

It’s not that I doubt Caleb’s ability to protect us while we’re with him, it’s just there’s so many unpredictable things that could happen when it comes to the fey.

Also, make sure you keep an eye on Cauldera and watch for any feathers that come off her! We really don’t want to accidentally set this place on fire!

>>960916
>“I don’t know who the author was, or what the language is, but do know one thing: the lexicon is identical to the runes found in Muir’s fortress.”
Did you manage to convince him to help or is he still mad at you guys for catching him?
>>
No. 960927 ID: 015bf2

>shop, strikes your fancy
Buy the rock so shiny that it feels like it punched you in the eyes except in a good way.

>Casey
Hey, Casey. While there’s not a lot to do about the first book (other than to start translating at the end and at select places backwards to see if you can’t pin down the specific point in time relevant to the vampire lord’s disappearance), but don’t you have a reader of yon Vampire Lord runic ancientspeak available? Two, in fact, is likely. Muir and the devil in the hill.

And you definitely have fey available who might be helpful in the translation of the third book.

If you can find it in you to trust them, why spend months doing it all yourself?

If you’re worried about the fragile state of the books, is making accurate copies an option?
>>
No. 960929 ID: b1b4f3

>>960914
Ask what kind of minerals these are. Also, the cup stands out as different.
>>
No. 960950 ID: a0dfd2

>>960916

> Misuse of gates for sexy fun
> Clio, Descendant of Augustine Moot

Well, Gabe just kinda like, uh ... really stuck his dick in all of that. Pun thoroughly intended.
>>
No. 960952 ID: a9af05

>>960921
This. Especially that part about watching Cauldera and her feathers!
>>
No. 960957 ID: 864e49

>>960916
Isn't Gabe friends with a fey thespian? Can she not help?
>>
No. 961207 ID: c70ff4
File 158640030769.png - (1.11MB , 527x700 , 11-201.png )
961207

“What kind of gems are these?” Kol asks, eyeing the selection.

“Gifts from the earth.” The gnoll giggles slightly. “Asked for and received by root and stone. We have lapis, opals, chalcedony, rubies. And for more discerning customers: warding gems of fire and frost, memory stones, and a portable scrying gem.”

“Whats this one on the end? The floating one?” Kol points, but is careful not to touch.

“Ah, a gust stone. It can be used to call winds at a moment’s notice and makes the wearer a bit lighter.”

“What about the cup?” Miki asks.

“A travelers cup. Has a water stone in the base: will always provide fresh water as long as the cup is held upright.” To demonstrate he pours out the liquid and then rights it, showing that its once again full.
>>
No. 961208 ID: c70ff4
File 158640032262.png - (97.86KB , 507x700 , 11-202.png )
961208

“Sure, we know a couple of fluent fey speakers: Caleb, Nixxy, Vivian... The vampiric runes are going to be trickier.” She takes a bite of sandwich and thinks. “Muir hasn’t sounded cooperative, although maybe we just haven’t found something that interests him enough to help yet.”

“Do you think Rodwin might be able to help?”

“Its possible... Though getting the text to him might be tricky. Its hard to tell how corporeal he is.” She thinks aloud, “Although even if he can’t translate it, maybe he knows someone who could. The bargast is full of dead soldiers...”
>>
No. 961214 ID: b1b4f3

>>961208
Muir could be pretty interested in reading what amounts to the personal diary of one of his enemies... Asking Rodwin can't hurt though.

>>961207
I like the cup. Find out if you can afford it. A fire warding crystal could be nice too but ultimately everyone who needs it already has it (also fire wards are expensive iirc so you probably can't afford it)
>>
No. 961216 ID: 10c408

The scrying gem has potential, though it may be out of our price range. Ask anyway.
>>
No. 961225 ID: 91ee5f

>>961207
Wait, there’s a catch here. Either these things are crazy expensive or you need to pay with something that isn’t money.

What would fey accept? Hopefully not something drastic like a part of your body or an emotion or a part of your soul or something.

>>961208
The problem I see with having Muir translate is that he doesn’t have a reason to truthfully translate. He could lie and we’d be unable to check if he’d telling the truth.

I’d rather have someone more trustworthy do the translations.
>>
No. 961226 ID: c78948

>>961207
Whoa, this picture is HUGE. What happened?

And I suggest ask Rodwin. Someone on the bargast is bound to know the language. Too many bargain with Muir doesn't sound like a good idea. Shouldn't let him feel that we are in his debt.
>>
No. 961227 ID: b1b4f3

>>961225
It's basically impossible to translate runes in a false way that isn't immediately found out from attempts to consolidate knowledge and translate other samples of the language.
>>
No. 961235 ID: 10c408

>>961227
That still wouldn't stop the attempt, and we only have one person (at the moment) and one set of samples to compare and contrast with.

I vote Rodwin.
>>
No. 961284 ID: 4c7fcd

I wonder if it'd be possible to get a Traveler's Cup in the shape of a teakettle. That way it'd be easier to pour and easy to warm water for tea. Hm, perhaps with a heating gem or rune or somesuch in the base as well to warm the water just right for tea. Eh, having a separate hotplate would make more sense than integrating them, since it could be used for more than heating water.

Rodwin seems to be your best (and pretty much only) lead right now. Better figure out how to meet him safely. As for how to get the text to him, well, you have loads of folk here who can make portals. Either open one for him to view it or even pass it through to him. But failing that, is there someone who, or something that, could transcribe a copy of the runic text real fast?
>>
No. 961352 ID: c78948

Oh and there is a fire ward gem in the mix? If it's not too expensive they could really use one right now.
>>
No. 961584 ID: c70ff4
File 158665464816.png - (109.50KB , 500x700 , 11-203.png )
961584

“We should ask Rodwin. He’ll have to know some way to get it translated.” Casey decides.

“Do you want me to take you up there?” Ashe offers.

The mouse chews thoughtfully for a moment. When she’s done she says, “We should probably get Kol first. We need a medium in order to talk to Rodwin, and Kol seems to be the one on best terms with him. Although... Sir Opinel should be standing guard up there: it might be worthwhile to talk to him.”
>>
No. 961585 ID: c70ff4
File 158665465406.png - (132.37KB , 700x500 , 11-204.png )
961585

Kol leans down, squinting at the gems. “What are you asking for the scrying stone?”

“Would this be a gift, perhaps?” The salesman grins back.

“Uh- I- I guess so?” Kol stammers, having throught about how the clear crystal could help with Gabe’s gatecasting. “How’d you know?”

“I know many things...” The gnoll grins back with bear-trap teeth.

Caleb grunts and folds his arms. “Cestus, knock it off. We don’t need the whole song and dance.”

The hyenid makes a strangled noise and sighs, “Fine, kill the whole performance why don’t you? You call yourself a fey?” He lifts the jewelers loop away from his eye, revealing a glittering multi-faceted gem of many colors. “I’m half leucrocotta. I can see a lot of things people don’t realize.”

“Huh...” Kol looks at his own reflection in the strange gem. “So, you still haven’t named a price...”

Cestus scratches his chin and stretches his mouth back into a slow smile. “If its for a gift, how about the memory of your first night with that person.”

Kol shifts uncomfortably, his mind flashing back to the first night he and Gabe spent together. “Let me think on that... What about the cup?”

The merchant stares off into the middle distance for a second. “There’s a woman sitting at a table by herself at a cafe down the road with a red door. The price is a sign of her favor.”

Kol shares a glance with Caleb, who shrugs. “Who’s the woman?”

“I have no idea, I just know she’s there. That’s what makes it fun!” Cestus giggles again.

“What about the fire wards?” Miki asks. “We could always use another one of them.”

“Hmmmm...” Cestus’s grin vanishes into a flat, thin line. “They’re hard to get. Quite expensive.” He adjusts the loop over his eye and proposes, “However, I can tell you have something that might interest me. I’d be willing to trade one for a kelpie’s pearl.”
>>
No. 961597 ID: ce39da

Only the second offer is at all palatable, and even then, I’m not sure if we’re up for that kind of detour. Let’s move along on the tour.
>>
No. 961617 ID: b1b4f3

>>961585
Ask Cauldera if she wouldn't mind a detour to see if you can get the cup. The other two prices seem too steep.

Also, there goes another feather.
>>
No. 961619 ID: 91ee5f

>>961585
There goes another feather.
>>
No. 961621 ID: e7848c

>>961584
Maybe he could point us in the direction of some the graves of the scholarly types. Maybe someone still kicking around over there?

Watch that feather! See what you can get for two lose Phoenix feathers
>>
No. 961623 ID: 567477

This is a marketplace, isn't it? You're supposed to be able to haggle! Part of the fun. What a price for that scrying stone, now, come on, how am I supposed to help someone see clearly if I can no longer see them clearly? A memory like that is a key part of your ability to see someone for who they are to you!

Maybe that price is an eye for an eye
but says I oh my, too high.

Civil are we so from you to me
a thing I want you won't much miss,
and to not dismiss reverse, a kiss?
A kiss from memory (or real),
or more and maybe add a feel,
smaller things and more replaceable,
but in number, perhaps embraceable?
>>
No. 961659 ID: c78948

Scrying stone: if it's only sharing memory, why not?

Cup: may lead the crew into unexpected places. If Cauldera is up for it, go for it.

Fire ward: I really do think this can come in handy right now, so how about give Nixxy a call to come over while we are working on the favor?

If we are supposed to choose one from all three, I'll say fire ward, since it's really needed at the moment.
>>
No. 961726 ID: bb5949

I agree that only the price for the cup seems bearable, neither of the other options seems worth sacrificing such a precious memory or token thereof for (especially if Gabe or Nixxy were to find out).

On the other hand, only the scrying stone actually looks like it'd be really useful going forward: the cup is unnecessary when we have Gabe's pocket dimension for storing supplies, and we already have two fireproof folks (Miki and Raithe) to handle Cauldera.

Unless we're able to haggle Cestus regarding the scrying stone (in some way that Kol gets to keep his first memory of Gabe, which is backstory I WOULD love to see), I fear we've reached an impasse. Thank him for his time and continue your tour.
>>
No. 961727 ID: bb5949

Ooh, I forgot to add, we should ask Cestus if he has any familial connection to Tuvara-Malli? Fey lifespans are much longer than ordinary mortals', right? They might not be too distantly related, depending on how uncommon leucrocotta are...

Maybe we can garner some intel that'll help poor Casey decipher the second book in that volume, or otherwise shed light on the assault on Muir's Mountain by Madame Moot and her fellow Guardians, and the wider mana well-sealing campaign it was part of.
>>
No. 961735 ID: b1b4f3

I assumed using a memory as currency would mean losing it.
>>
No. 962096 ID: c84ff4

>>961623
all these prices are a bit much, what about the price being the memory of giving the gift itself for the scrying glass. Definite no on the other two though. (also feather)
>>
No. 962327 ID: c70ff4
File 158717335992.png - (136.58KB , 562x700 , 11-105.png )
962327

“Why don’t we check it out? We should be looking at the bargast as an asset, rather than something to be scared of. I’m sure there’s got to be someone up there who can help us.” Casey nods and polishes off the sandwich. “Why don’t you gate me up there?”

Ashe waves her hand, opening a person-sized hole in the universe, “Sure thing. I’ll let Mari know you’re up there, I’m sure she’d like the chance to poke around such an ancient site.”

Casey steps through the gate, finding herself in a field of gravestones. Scrubby weeds choke the spaces between graves, having exploded in growth due to the warmer climate.
>>
No. 962328 ID: c70ff4
File 158717336497.png - (115.89KB , 539x600 , 11-106.png )
962328

“Say, you wouldn’t happen to be related to the leucrocotta Tuvara-Malli, would you?” Kol asks.

“What, the old teacher?” Cestus sniffs. “Probably. Wouldn’t surprise me if we were cousins or something. There aren’t a whole lot of us around, you see.”

“Would you happen to know anything about her past? There’s some important history she was wrapped up in.”

“Yeah, the whole founding of Binding Circle, right? Not much, to be honest. They say she returned to the Feywilds after the wild age ended. Pretty bold, if you ask me. I can’t imagine that went over well with the courts.”

“Do you know what happened to her?”

“From what I heard, she up and disappeared. Went deep into the wilds and no one has ever found her.”
>>
No. 962329 ID: c70ff4
File 158717336917.png - (84.13KB , 428x600 , 11-107.png )
962329

Miki’s eyes flicker sideways at the small curl of flame and she hops up to snag it out of the air.

Cestus raises an eyebrow, “What was that all about?”

Miki gives him a bashful smile. “Don’t worry about it, its nothing. Saaay what about if we were to give you a couple of phoenix feathers and let Kol keep his memory for the scrying stone?”

The gnoll assesses the offer and twists his muzzle up, unimpressed. “You’re gonna have to do a bit better than that, no offense. Not that they aren’t fine feathers, but I’d need quite a few more.”

Cauldera suddenly looks self conscious, covering her breast with a hand. “What? Now you want me to molt? I’m not about go pulling out feathers just for a bauble.”

“We’d never expect you to do something like that. Maybe we’ll come back when you’re done molting. How about we go check out that cafe, instead?” Kol suggests.
>>
No. 962330 ID: c70ff4
File 158717337429.png - (89.29KB , 700x388 , 11-108.png )
962330

They trek down the winding street, passing rough burrows carved into the earth itself. Caleb stops at one and points. “Here we are.” The outside is rather plain and small, with a red flag fluttering from a post.

“How can you tell?” Miki asks, craning her neck to peek into a doorway that is essentially a hole in a hill.

“Stones told me. Also, it smells like coffee.”

Their noses twitch and take in the rich smell hanging in the air and beckoning them inside.

“Are we going to be alright going in there?” Raithe floats anxiously in the doorway, “I don’t want to cause trouble.”

Caleb grins and waves them in, “Should be fine. Why don’t you see for yourself?”

Kol crosses the threshold and stops with surprise. Despite the tiny appearance, the interior opens up to a rather large, cavernous space. The walls are shaped with strange curves that funnel light into the rafters. Private tables sit recessed inside arches built into the walls, creating darker, cozy spaces for patrons.
>>
No. 962331 ID: c70ff4
File 158717337817.png - (153.97KB , 388x700 , 11-109.png )
962331

A spindly woman sitting on a pillow gives them a gobliny smile as they approach. With one hand she drags a long-handled copper pot through a bowl of hot sand, causing it to froth and boil. Earthy-sweet steam curls up from her work as she pulls the coffee out of the sand just before it boils over. “Come for a drink, my lovelies?” She cackles.
>>
No. 962337 ID: 86eb65

Yeah a round for everyone.
>>
No. 962340 ID: 015bf2

>>962331
And to drink in the ambiance. Quite the space, this place.
>>
No. 962342 ID: e7848c

>>962331
Prepare for the best coffee of your life
>>
No. 962343 ID: 91ee5f

>>962331
Ok, what’s the price? Hopefully not another memory.
>>
No. 962399 ID: dbd72b

That's a very interesting technique. Ask about it, and get an introduction while you're at it.
Don't agree to any deals without knowing if there's a price.
>>
No. 962886 ID: c70ff4
File 158749685893.png - (146.70KB , 700x500 , 11-110.png )
962886

“What’ll it cost?” Kol asks, leaning forward to watch the liquid settle in its pot.

The vendor sets out an array of saucers and cups, small enough for a single mouthful, with a pair hammered from metal for the elementals. Matter of factly, she states: ”My trade is a performance. Something as memorable as the flavor, so that we might treasure meeting one another.” With a practiced hand, she pours out a measure of coffee for each visitor, perfectly filling the cups without a stray drop.
>>
No. 962887 ID: c70ff4
File 158749688081.png - (151.02KB , 700x500 , 11-111.png )
962887

Taking his cup, Kol asks, “Do you mind if we wander a bit first?”

“I insist...” She shoos them away to enjoy their beverages.

Saucers in hand, they amble through the cavernous space, peering left and right and listening to the echoes of their feet. Further inside, a larger arch frames a raised stage, which looms in the dark.

“Wooow, I’ve never actually seen fae architecture. How do they build like this?” Kol asks, keeping his voice low.

Caleb chuckles, the resonant sound bouncing off of strange curves in the wall. “Ya gotta learn to talk to stone to shape it like this. Fae talk to things and can hear the ebb and flow of the world. Course, I’m more at home with tides and currents, myself.”
>>
No. 962888 ID: fa2754

>>962887
Oh now there's a familiar face. Introduce your new friend to Viv.
>>
No. 962895 ID: 9fad0d

>>962887
Kol's turn to meet an opera star, it seems.
>>
No. 962896 ID: cdabe3

>>962888
Great idea!
>>
No. 962950 ID: b34040

Have you met Viv yet, Kol? Or did Gabe not introduce you?
>>
No. 962952 ID: 688568

Make sure you actually reconize them properly first. It would be rude to just assume any kitsune is Viv.
>>
No. 962957 ID: 91ee5f

>>962952
I agree with this. We don’t want to offend someone by thinking they’re someone else!
>>
No. 963013 ID: 094652

This ninetales needs to take on a fire element!
>>
No. 963468 ID: c70ff4
File 158777964194.png - (161.26KB , 500x700 , 11-112.png )
963468

“Guys!” Miki tugs on Kol’s sleeve. Trying to not draw attention to herself, the baker squeaks as she tries to control herself. “Over there! That woman reading... is that...?”

The others glance sideways at the lone figure and confer with one another. “I think so. I’ve never actually seen her in person though.” Kol remarks.

Cauldera glances back at the kitsune. “Who is this person?”

Miki vibrates with glee and explains, “Its Vivian! She’s a famous opera singer!”

“What do we do?” Raithe asks.

Kol shrugs. “Well, Gabe’s a friend of hers. We should go introduce ourselves.” He heads towards the table and half turns back, “You guys coming?”
>>
No. 963469 ID: c70ff4
File 158777964915.png - (155.01KB , 700x623 , 11-113.png )
963469

With the group in tow, the mouse moseys up to the booth and stops a polite distance away. “Um, hi! Sorry to bother you, but-“

One of the kitsune’s ears flicks with irritation. Without looking up from the folded script, she remarks, “I’m not doing autographs today, sorry.”

“Oh, no its not about that, I guess. Uh, my name’s Kol. I’m a spirit guide: a friend of Gabe’s?”

Vivian immediately takes notice, her attitude brightening at the mention of the senders name. “Gabe? Ohhh, how’s he doing?”

“Off helping the senders in the highpeaks.” Kol mentions, mentally adding “and probably getting laid somewhere”.

“It’s been ages since I’ve seen him and Delilah.” She says airily, “They’re such fun. Anyway, what can I do for you? Is this some kind of guide business?”
>>
No. 963471 ID: 91ee5f

>>963469
>Anyway, what can I do for you? Is this some kind of guide business?
“Not really. Just kinda walking around and wanted to try some coffee. Although, now we’re kinda stumped on how to pay for it. We were told that it had to be ‘something as memorable as the flavor, so that we might treasure meeting one another.’ Would you happen to have some advice for us?”

Also, don’t forget to watch for more feathers falling off of Cauldera!
>>
No. 963472 ID: 015bf2

>>963469
Not truly, no. Friend favor business.

(Introduce everyone properly.)

The lovely baker couple over there, friends of yours and Gabe, are getting married soon, and this fine Phoenix came to visit them. You’re showing her the sights about town - and catching the sights of the fey quarter for the first time yourself. Does she have any particular recommendations for someone of a tourist-y bent?

(Sip coffee.)

In all honesty, you were being a bit star struck. Apologies seem to be in order for interrupting her private time, you can swiftly move on if she desires, no autographs required.
>>
No. 963478 ID: cdabe3

>>963472
this
>>
No. 964116 ID: c70ff4
File 158809891639.png - (183.70KB , 700x572 , 11-114.png )
964116

Kol chuckles, "More like regular guide business. Just doing some friends a favor and showing a visitor around. Let me introduce you."

"These are my friends Miki and Raithe, they run the Hearthfire bakery in town."

Raithe waves back and Miki makes an excited squeal.

"Is that the place everybody is talking about?" Vivian cocks her head. "I've been meaning to check it out."

Miki's squeal raises in pitch.

"And their friend Cauldera, who's visiting from out of town." Kol continues.

"Uh, hi!"

The kitsune smiles back, her expression full of interest. "Hello, yourself. I do hope you don't plan on leaving too soon."

"I- oh!" The phoenix blushes but rallies herself to fire back, "I might stick around a bit, since its so friendly here."

Finally, Kol introduces-
>>
No. 964118 ID: c70ff4
File 158809892266.png - (124.78KB , 700x500 , 11-115.png )
964118

Vivian stands up suddenly. “Caleb? Is that you?”

The selkie avoids her gaze, having lurked at the back of the group, hoping to go unnoticed. “Heya, Viv...”

“Root and Stone, how long has it been? Ten years? Fifteen?” The group parts as she stands to welcome him. “How have you been?”

“You know each other?” Kol asks, amazed.

“Oh we go way back. Before I was such a big deal. Ive known Caleb for- oooh fifty years?” She shares a gleaming, sharp-toothed smile. “I heard you got married! Where’s your partner?”
>>
No. 964120 ID: fa2754

>>964118
Oof.
Unfortunately no longer with us..
>>
No. 964186 ID: ce39da

"Er- You missed him, Viv. He's uh... no longer with us."
>>
No. 964189 ID: 91ee5f

>>964118
>"I heard you got married! Where’s your partner?”
"Unfortunately, Adrian is no longer with us. However, his spirit lingered here for a while because he wanted to return Caleb's skin before passing on. Gabe, Casey, and I helped them and we were able to Send him peacefully."

Kol, you might want to leave out the part where Adrian was a lich. Unless Caleb decides to bring it up, then you can talk about it.
>>
No. 964190 ID: 015bf2

Gone. Mortals, y’know? Had a fine goodbye, so don’t worry about it. Wish it’d been longer but... a lot of good came from it. Memories you wouldn’t trade for the world.

In fact, Adrian managed to introduce you to Kol before he passed on.
>>
No. 964252 ID: 812ad3

Open mouth, insert foot.
>>
No. 964273 ID: c84ff4

>>964190
>>964252
Both of these are good options.
>>
No. 964378 ID: c70ff4
File 158821234649.png - (106.57KB , 700x500 , 11-116.png )
964378

“He...” Caleb grumbles, unable to finish his sentence.

“Sorry, bit of a sore subject.” Kol explains. “We helped Adrian... move on a while back.”

Vivian nods solemnly and then stops as realization hits. “Fates, that was you, wasn’t it? With the lich? Oh, Caleb...” She drapes her arms around him as the selkie appears to crumble from within.

“I- I just needed a bit more time...”

“I know, dear.” The kitsune croons. She pats the broad, scarred back sympathetically. “He was your first mortal lover, wasn’t he? Its cruel, I know.”

“I- Viv, I couldn’t save him...” The titan’s voice breaks as he sags against her, trying to hold back the tide within himself. “If I’d had my skin on me, I coulda done something.”

“I know.” The singer lifts his head to share a gaze of total understanding. Through salt-blurred eyes, Caleb stares back. “I have seen one hundred and seven summers, Caleb. Barely yet have I walked this world and the ones beyond. Just as I hear the Root and Stone and the dreams of the One, I feel the scars left by love each and every day.” She sighs and lifts a tear from his waterproof cheek with a graceful finger. “The Fates are vicious bastards, aren’t they?”
>>
No. 964379 ID: c84ff4

>>964378
that they are. we do our best to deal with it.
>>
No. 964390 ID: b1b4f3

No. They just are.
>>
No. 964391 ID: fa2754

>>964378
We should take a step back and let those two have a moment. Our guest might have questions, yeah?
>>
No. 964394 ID: 015bf2

Perhaps, but... better to have lived and lost, than never have lived at all. Adrian very much wanted Caleb to achieve future happiness as well, and one thinks that includes in memory. Kol would hope the same of any long-lived friend or lover of theirs - that his death be bitter in passing, perhaps, but his life sweet in memory.

But it’s certainly fine to grieve! Shall you leave the two for a bit and figure out how to pay for your coffee while they catch up on old times?
>>
No. 964446 ID: 365ffb

Let them talk.
>>
No. 964968 ID: c70ff4
File 158863124246.png - (111.00KB , 500x700 , 11-117.png )
964968

“If, uh- if you guys need a minute,” Kol mutters, feeing awkward, “we’ll get a table and... er, yeah.”

Vivian nods sagely, letting Caleb rest his grief on her shoulder.

Miki and Kol take a seat in one of the alcoves while the elementals hover nearby.

“What was that all about?” Cauldera asks, sipping her coffee.

Kol lets out a long exhalation as he rewinds back to their first encounter. “We met Caleb a couple of months ago while searching for a ghost ship. It turned out his husband, Adrian, was haunting his boat and Caleb was using a natural source of mana to sustain him.”

“Woah! What happened?”

“Miki and I helped Adrian find Caleb’s selkie skin and move on the etherial sea. We’ve just tried to be there for him since.”

“Awwww. I didn’t realize guides took care of stuff like that.” She looks over at the shuddering hulk of a sailor and sighs, “Looks like he’s been holding a lot in.”

“He doesn’t really talk about it much.” Kol admits, “But he called me Adrian this morning.”
>>
No. 964969 ID: c70ff4
File 158863124621.png - (128.42KB , 700x500 , 11-118.png )
964969

“Poor guy.” Miki looks into her coffee with her lip pouting. “If anything happened to Raithe, I don’t know what I’d do.” She suddenly looks to the elemental, concerned. “Wait, how long do elementals live anyway?”

The salamander scratches behind his horns and shrugs. “Hard to say, but longer than the fae. Although after a couple of hundred years, most elementals settle down somewhere and fall asleep and become part of the world itself.”

“So you’re gonna marry me even though, you’ll outlive me by hundreds of years?” Miki stares at her fiancé with watery eyes.

“Well, yeah.” Raithe floats down to pat her on the hand, “I want to be with you for as long as we can have together.”

“Aww. That’s sweet, dear. Still unfair, though.”

“Yeaaah, we’ll probably have to talk about it at some point.”

Raithe catches Cauldera’s eye and notices the expression on her face. “What?”

The phoenix chuckles. “Nothing. Its just... its nice to see you so happy. When you left I remember just how nervous you were. Can’t help but feel a tad jealous."
>>
No. 964984 ID: b1b4f3

>>964969
I'm sure she'll find someone special someday.

>>962327
WHOOPS left Casey hanging. Go looking around for someone who's aboveground. You could also ask one of the buried undead.
>>
No. 965016 ID: fa2754

>>964969
If Moot Point is any indication, there's plenty of love to be found..
>>
No. 965133 ID: 028f23

>>964969
Cuties.

Nervous about what, though? I mean, he certainly was when we first met him. I hate to bring up an old relationship that didn't work out, but they both seem amiable enough and willing to talk about it.
>>
No. 965880 ID: c70ff4
File 158898878240.png - (174.73KB , 619x700 , 11-119.png )
965880

Casey skirts around the edge of the graveyard, wary of treading on any of the resting undead. She threads her way towards the head of the supine bargast, looking for one person in particular.

She finds him reclining against the log bridge with a stalk of wheat between his crooked teeth. The soldier perks up at the sound of her approach and hails her.

“Ah good to see you, miss. Here to see master Rodwin?” Sir Opinel’s voice booms enthusiastically against the trees.
>>
No. 965881 ID: c70ff4
File 158898878773.png - (126.32KB , 500x700 , 11-120.png )
965881

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll find someone.” Kol nods. He reaches out to pat Cauldera comfortingly but stops himself. “Especially here.” He chuckles to himself.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just that in the last year or so, I think we’re responsible for more than a few fresh relationships.”

‘Heh, no kidding.” Raithe and Miki share a blushy glance.

“By the way,” Kol says, glancing at his still untouched coffee, “what do you think the barista meant when she said we owed her ‘a memorable performance’?”

The others return a trio of shrugs.

“I’m not much of a performer. Every time I sing, my flame breath tends to come out.” Miki giggles.

“Its true, you should see her in the kitchen.” Raithe nods. “I -uh... I don’t know about performing. I’m not exactly comfortable on a stage.”

“I’m a pretty good dancer.” Cauldera twitches her hips and her flames crackle. “I don’t know if its memorable enough.”

“I suppose we’ll figure it out.” Kol sighs and takes a sip of coffee.
>>
No. 965882 ID: c70ff4
File 158898879127.png - (107.82KB , 700x500 , 11-121.png )
965882

As the earthy-sweet taste hits his lips, the lights dim, leaving only the cavernous stage illuminated. A single figure stands on the floorboards, his hands covering his chest.

Caleb’s gravelly voice warms up as he begins to sing, stuttering, but gaining strength. He begins to truly project as he loses himself in the song.

Désolé
Désolé, quand tu mens
Désolé
I'm a long way from land
Désolé
I don't know what to do
Désolé, désolé
Try to hold on to you

>>
No. 965883 ID: c70ff4
File 158898879589.png - (144.03KB , 500x700 , 11-122.png )
965883

Kol closes his eyes, and a rush of memory floods through him. Caleb’s voice comes through, but it joined by another. The familiar sound echoes back from nowhere and everywhere. The back and forth forms a warm nostalgia: of time spent close, of setting out together.

Désolé, désolé
But dear, I don't wanna die
Désolé
I'm gonna have my lamé
Désolé, désolé
Désolé
Désolé, désolé
I'm gonna have my lamé

>>
No. 965884 ID: c70ff4
File 158898880021.png - (240.02KB , 700x500 , 11-123.png )
965884

Memories rise up like dark waves across the deck of the ship. Under strain, the rigging groans with deep bass notes as the wind bows back and forth. Rain drums a savage snare against the sails. The sea pitches back and forth in a heaving crash.

Désolé
Désolé, compliqué
Désolé
I don't know what to say anymore
Désolé
While everyone on their own
Désolé, désolé
I'm tryin' to hold on to you

>>
No. 965885 ID: c70ff4
File 158898880711.png - (153.62KB , 500x700 , 11-124.png )
965885

There’s a gunshot snap as something in the rigging gives way. A large, heavy shape swings out of the darkness and there is a flash of pain.

Désolé, désolé
But dear, I don't wanna die
Désolé
I'm gonna have my lamé
Désolé, désolé
Désolé
Désolé, désolé
I'm gonna have my lamé
Désolé
Désolé

>>
No. 965886 ID: c70ff4
File 158898881365.png - (223.27KB , 700x638 , 11-125.png )
965886

There is a rush and a splash. Icy teeth chew their way into every nerve and spread a hungry numbness. A distant voice bellows a name somewhere above the churning surface. The consonants battle with the roar of the waves, becoming murkier as consciousness slips away.

Désolé
Désolé, quand tu mens
Désolé
C'est une longue file d'attente
Désolé
Tous mes fantômes sont bleus
Désolé, désolé
Try to hold on to you

>>
No. 965887 ID: c70ff4
File 158898881953.png - (120.76KB , 674x700 , 11-126.png )
965887

Kol gasps, taking the first breath in, what seems like, forever.

The last lines of Caleb’s song finish and silence spreads its thoughtful fingers through the quiet cafe.

Lyrics by Gorillaz. Apologies but it just seemed a bit too perfect
>>
No. 965897 ID: fa2754

>>965887
Hope no one's feeling Busted and Blue..

Kol, can your spirit dance better than your physical body?
>>
No. 965899 ID: 91ee5f

>>965887
Looks like you got some of Adrian‘s memories when you let him in your body.

Clap your hands and applaud Caleb’s song.

>>965897
>dance
It’s too late for that, the song has already ended.
>>
No. 965933 ID: dbd72b

>>962886
Just pointing out she never named a performer. Price paid?

Maybe look around and see if anyone else was affected, especially Caleb
>>
No. 966178 ID: bb5949

Nice (mice?) latté (ratté?) art. I feel even worse for poor Caleb and Adrian now though. I assumed it was just a case of fey-mortal lifespan mismatch that separatedthem, but now we know Adrian died suddenly and violently, and that it seems they only got to enjoy a few brief years together...

‹spoiler›If this is foreshadowing something tragic happening to separate Miki and Raithe I swear I'm going to cry‹/spoiler›

Kol, is Caleb actually on the stage, or is he still with Vivian and all that you just saw a coffee-fuelled vision? Can you see the barista's reaction?

Casey, jokingly demand to know where Sir Opinel's courtly manner is? Surely a knight shouldn't allow himself to be found in such a state of relaxation and neglect of duty, especially not by a fair maiden such as yourself?
>>
No. 966311 ID: 028f23

>>965880
There's something inspiring about seeing an undead soul with so much life in them. Guess there's nothing quite like a good bit of rest and relaxation, whichever side of the grave you're on.
He's not half bad on the eyes, either.

>>965887
Oh boy.
The past never really lets go, huh. Even if we try to ourselves. And it's clear that it has its hooks in both of you.
I think you gotta think about how you both see your relationship. Maybe not now, maybe not tonight, maybe not this week. But soon. Caleb is still mourning, and his closeness to both of you is starting to blur. Heal or harm, you're both going to have to confront how you see what's between you, and what that means.

Otherwise, you should speak to your uncle about this. Either this is a well-understood side-effect of sharing bodies with another, or sharing your body, mind, and soul with a being so desperate to live, so hungry for life, left more than passing mark on you.
I'm gonna guess it's that second one though.
>>
No. 966754 ID: c70ff4
File 158959177772.png - (152.92KB , 700x546 , 11-128.png )
966754

“Sir Opinel!” Casey hails back. “So odd to see a knight in repose. Shouldn’t you be guarding something?”

“Ever vigilant, my dear.” The stitched together soldier chuckles. “Hardly necessary at this point. After the first couple of weeks, the number of looky-loos having a peek around dropped off.“ He mumbles to himself jokingly, “I wonder if the grave-fleas got them all.”

He stretches his shoulders with a creak of ancient joints and comes to attention. “Anyway, what can I do for you this fine day?”

“I’ve come because I’ve found a historical source we’re hoping will help us figure out what happened to Lord Hekal.” Casey explains. “The problem is, its written in a runic system I can’t read. The only other example I’ve seen is in the lair of the vampire lord Miur.”

“You visited Miur the Miserable’s lair?” Opinel’s eyes perk up. “Not an easy task for an air breathing mortal. Spite me, even for a bone soldier like myself it was a pain in the backside.” His fingers drum on the pommel of his sword thoughtfully. “Never was one for the quill myself, but there should be someone around we can dredge up. Good thing you showed up, it was getting dull around here.”
>>
No. 966755 ID: c70ff4
File 158959178317.png - (142.14KB , 700x500 , 11-127.png )
966755

The world comes back into focus as gentle, but genuine applause fills the air. Kol looks around him at the others, who chatter to one another in surprise.

“I had no idea Caleb could sing like that!”

“Very moving!”

“Ohhh that was lovely.”

“Very memorable, wouldn’t you say?”

The fey barista leans over a counter and grins toothily at Kol.

Feeling called out, the medium gets up to join her at the counter. Keeping his voice low, he asks, “All that... did you see it too?”

Her eyes twinkle mischievously but she says nothing.

“Did... did anyone else see?” Kol asks.

“I don’t know what kind of bond you share, but it must be quite strong to have a memory so vivid.” Her eyes narrow. “You’re handling it quite well. I take it this is not the first memory of death you’ve encountered?”

Kol’s breath rattles loose. “Y-yeah. But nothing so... violent and sudden. In my own memory, its something I’ve prepared for. Nothing like this.”

“You saw what you needed to see, I hope it can guide you.” She gives him a sympathetic pat on the hand.

“Hooboy. I guess Caleb and I should talk, shouldn’t we...”
>>
No. 966767 ID: 028f23

>>966754
They have kinda been sittin around for three solid months, aye? The restful dead folks probably don't care, but I imagine after the excitement of our first visit, Sir Opinel's probably hankerin to get out and about. Hmm. Probably not safe for them to come into town to chat and relax. Not just cause of how folks would react, but cause we don't know whether his bindings will remain stable outside the bargast. The big reason we can be chill with these guys is they don't need to feed on living things' mana. It would suck if we accidentally messed that up for them.

Might be worth mentioning to the others, though. Don't know if we can count the good knight as a friend per se, but it's never a bad idea to make one.

>>966755
Abso-lutely.
Even if it was just Fae magic amplified by your bond, that's heavy stuff for both of you to be carrying around on your lonesomes.
>>
No. 966768 ID: 567477

Well, you might want to take a little while to come up with a way to present it. "I remember what it was like for him to die" is sort of a sensitive subject.
>>
No. 966824 ID: 365ffb

Selkie's cried today already. You can tell him sometime later. Obviously you should, but wait until you're someplace a little more private.
>>
No. 966830 ID: dbd72b

>>966754
Dredge!

>>966755
Thank the lady. Then give Caleb a hug. Make a mental note to have a discussion with him next time it's appropriate
>>
No. 967420 ID: c70ff4
File 159010358295.png - (141.04KB , 700x500 , 11-129.png )
967420

“Now I just gotta figure out what to say to the guy...” Kol muses to himself.

“You’ll know the words when its time.” The fey barista nods sagely and shoos him back to his table with a friendly waggle of her fingers.

On his way back, Kol nearly bumps into Caleb returning from the stage. The selkie clears his throat and stammers, “Oh! H-hey, Kol. I- uh...”

“Caleb, hey! T-that was, um- really good. I didn’t know you could sing like that.”

“I mean... s’ been a while, but Viv insisted. It- it wasn’t too much?” The sailor shifts awkwardly on his powerful legs.

“No! No, it was... it was really incredible.” Kol sighs, letting the full emotional weight of Caleb’s loss settle on his shoulders. “Caleb, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were carrying all that inside all this time.”

“What?! I mean... ” The fey scratches self consciously at the small of his back: the blunt clawtip scraping pale scar tissue. “I guess. Its been... a lot to deal with lately. I dunno. M’not good at this kind of stuff.” He admits, through a twisted grimace.

“We should talk: about everything. I want to hear more about you, and about Adrian. I’d like to help you... I don’t know... just get all this off your chest.” Kol places a hand on the sailor’s broad shoulder.

Caleb nods back at him, finally letting himself look the medium in the eye. “Y-yeah. Next time we... get some time to ourselves, okay?”
>>
No. 967421 ID: c70ff4
File 159010358617.png - (84.52KB , 500x700 , 11-130.png )
967421

They rejoin the rest of the tour group at the table and Caleb shimmies into the bench seat.

Miki beams and gushes, “Caleb, that was fantastic! I had no idea you were a singer!”

“Heh. Thanks.” He grumbles warmly. “Been a while since I did anything like that.”

“So what now? Should we keep moving?”

Caleb shakes his head and grins, “Oh no. You’re gonna want to stick around for this...”
>>
No. 967422 ID: c70ff4
File 159010359006.png - (112.38KB , 500x700 , 11-131.png )
967422

“Sounds good.” Casey steps up her pace to follow him, “Where are we going?”

“I think I remember where a scribe or two is buried. They mostly dealt with accounting the lists and supplies. Odds are one of them ought to be able to read the old tongues.”

“There are accountants buried here? I thought it was all ancient warriors like you.”

Opinel chuckles. “Lord Hekal always said: that the secret to war was to sow confusion among the enemy and order among your forces. The tallying of battle is as much a weapon as a blade.”

“Huh, I had no idea...”

“To be fair, its not like bards sing the praises of legendary quartermasters. In reality, most of war is dull and tedious.” He sighs.

“Sir knight, if I didn’t know better it sounds as if you’ve been bored to tears.” Casey teases. “Is there some way we can brighten up your un-life?”

The knight shakes his head in astonishment. “M’lady you cut me to the bone. In truth: yes. For the first time in centuries I am surrounded by life and cannot take leave to enjoy it. The biggest thrill in the last few months was sparring with your partner, Kol.”
>>
No. 967452 ID: ce39da

Kol: "We'll want to stick around for what, pray-tell?"

Casey: "Looking for an escort, are we? Of course, I can't make any promises - a day-trip into Moot would need signing off from several parties that aren't me, so I'll have to ask around. If you had something more intimate in mind, I'd like to know just how well that body functions before I commit to doing anything with you."
>>
No. 967453 ID: f7c8e0

Ever since Sir Opinel's reappearance in this chapter I sense a strong signal suggesting that he's available for some actions.

I guess this is what people's looking for since his entry, right?
>>
No. 967471 ID: 6c227a

>>967453
I mean look at that smile. look at that hot dog bod. listen to that slam dunk of a conversational opening. How are we supposed to NOT proposition the dead pupper?
>>
No. 967482 ID: 028f23

>>967421
oooh, further Fae performances?

>>967422
Really is nothing quite like a good sparring match, eh? Matching wits and wills, feeling the fire in your veins and the thrill of willful strife with a worthy foe! No loss, no tragedy, no fear, only the singing of thundering hearts and jolly pugilism!

Pity that out of all our fellows, only Kol seems to have any experience with martial arts. That said, I'm sure there are martial artists, boxers, or other athletes in town who would leap head over heels at the chance to study centuries-old techniques from a professional fighter of a bygone era.

....there are, of course, other ways to feel alive and get some exercise.
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