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961754 No. 961754 ID: f56a2b

Previously: https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/960086.html

This quest contains scenes of graphic violence.
Fear and pain are illusions.
Death is a choice.
Sacred it is, to fulfill the pact.
A sin it will be, to fail to act.
Freedom through bondage, in the greater whole trust,
for I am a worthless part, and mine soul hath rust.
All is ones master, save for one's self,
one's self is a lie, a figment of mind,
one's mind is like clay, fit to be shaped
shaped by ones master, who for one is all.
The only truth is in one's Word.
I have given my word that I will not desert.
To allow myself to fail is desertion.
I will not allow myself to fail, that is truth.
When command is not explicit, command will be implicit.
When command is obeyed, duty will remain.
When all duty is fulfilled, from all but reflection thou shalt abstain.
110 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
No. 966266 ID: d63ea8

I don't like that shift in his tone, nor do I like how he want to know how much we know.

Give a cursory description of Albinus, but leave out anything that is distinct to a monk's appearance (i.e the robes and the hair style).
Say that you met him on the road.

Be attentive to the guards movements, note if he tense up at with any particular word or description.
No. 966353 ID: b1b4f3

Hmm, it's possible he thinks you're one of the Godi's men here to kill the last monk, if Albinus gave them his story...
No. 966433 ID: 9876c4

I don't have a perfect grasp of the color palatte, but this guard looks pretty orky.

We'd probably be better off tricking than fighting him.
No. 966624 ID: f56a2b
File 158948500998.png - (28.83KB , 800x600 , 037.png )

>Could you take the guard in a fight? He looks pretty orky.

I'm... not sure what us having a race in common matters, but it'd be risky. Maybe too risky. I certainly know how to bring a spear to bear, but he's got armor and a club. I wouldn't try it unless I was very desperate.

>Give him a physical description, leaving out anything to mention him being a monk.

Gokmar: "I haven't known him for very long, but like I said, we were supposed to meet here in town after we separated for a bit. He's tall, heavy set, has blue eyes... he's a human. His hands and his right leg are bandaged, on account of some heavy burns."

He's more relaxed now, but he's searching my eyes very intensely.

Stranger: "Heavy burns, eh...? You sure about that? Yeah, I think I know who you're talking about. Just one question. What's his name?"

It's a tense moment, but something occurs to me:
>It's possible he thinks you're one of the Godi's men here to kill the last monk, if Albinus gave them his story...

Gokmar: "If you know him, then you know me. He didn't come here expecting you, but he's still expecting me to be here. I'm not going to risk giving you his name, but mine is Gokmar."

That caught his interest. He mulls it over for a second, and says:

Stranger: "Humph. Yeah yeah, fine. We're protecting him, so I'll take you inside if you'd like. Err, I'll take your spear for now though. We don't really know what you're like, and we don't like letting strangers walk around with arms out around us."

He steps aside and gestures to the doorway.

Stranger: "Hand me your spear, and you go ahead first."
No. 966627 ID: 9876c4

I guess we take the risk.
No. 966628 ID: d63ea8

Yeah, let's hand it over, it's not like we're really trained in weapons anyway.
No. 966635 ID: b1b4f3

From body language I think he's telling the truth. Hand it over, go visit your friend, find out how he's handling the situation. Maybe you can find out who's camping outside of town?
No. 966761 ID: f56a2b
File 158959656888.png - (24.94KB , 800x600 , 038.png )

It's a risk, but it's one I'll take. I hand my spear over and enter the vestibule. It's strangely empty but that's not what catches my eye.

:hardra1: "By the way, the name's Hardra. Nice to meet you."

The doorway is...

It feels like it's a million miles away, and I don't want to wander into it. I couldn't care less about what's on the other side, and if Albunis is in there I don't want to bother him.

:hardra1: "Hey, what are you- oh, hmmm. I'll be right back."

Hardra goes beyond the doorway. I wait for a couple minutes.

:hardra1: "Alright, you should be able to come through now."
No. 966762 ID: f56a2b
File 158959661349.png - (56.86KB , 800x600 , 039.png )

I feel very odd, like my thoughts weren't my own a second ago. It passes, and the sight beyond the doorway is stunning.

It's at once a sight of desecration and serenity. The shrine has been pilfered of it's centerpiece icon, the tapestries are torn down, the spots where icons hung from the walls are barren. Despite all of it, I feel the cool, pure light of the room's only light source glowing softly above me.

:albunis1: "Gokmar, it is good to see you again!"

:gokmar1: "Good health to you as well. What's going on here, Albunis?"

:albunis1: "It is rather an odd state of affairs, yes? When I arrived here, Hardra stopped me to ask what I was doing. He told me what had happened in this town, and... what happened to my brothers here, as well. As it turns out, this band is quite sympathetic and understanding of my situation. It does not hurt that they have a real rivalry with the zealots that have occupied Wyrdshire's keep."

:albunis1: "They have let me know I am free to go at any time, though I must admit I am loathe to give up their protection, knowing those fiends may strike me the moment I leave."

:gokmar1: "Have they told you anything else?"

:albunis1: "Ah, while I appreciate their generosity... they are not open with me. It is understandable, these are men and women of adventure and not fa-... not my faith. Perhaps you might glean more from them, as an orc to an orc."

What shall ye do next?

>Speak with someone?

>>The bloke enjoying a bottle of... something or other.
>>That... mountain of a... THING honing its (their?) axe!
>>Hardra, who hasn't gone back outside to keep watch, yet... and seems to never take his eyes off me for a moment.
>>The quiet young woman sitting by the shrine.
>>Either one of the orcs sitting at the makeshift table.
>>Almost didn't see the one standing in the back corner, there.

>Leave, and go to...
>>The tavern. It's there for what it's there for.
>>The smithy, that should probably be here. It'd certainly take a blow out of your savings, but you could probably afford a blade at your side if you were feeling envious of this lot of warriors.
>>The other band of zealots at the keep. Hey, they probably won't take a shot at you, and if nothing else, they're another point of view on the matters of faith. The whole reason you came out here to do this, right?

No. 966772 ID: 9876c4

Man-mountain and quiet girl for sure, anyone else at your discretion.
No. 966781 ID: d63ea8

Hmm. The hooks are asymmetrical, might be worth a closer look when you are chatting with the people here.

What are those icons in the ((bottom-right)) corner? Are they cards? Portraits?

I'd say that the mountainous individual and the person enjoying the bottle might be good candidates for conversation.
No. 966785 ID: b1b4f3

Specifically we can ask the mountain guy about how hostile the occupying hostile force is. Could we just go over there and ask for a Godi's perspective on religion? Is there anything we can do to help?
Obviously the quiet girl could have some insights on religion as well.
No. 967211 ID: f56a2b
File 158994708114.png - (17.78KB , 800x600 , 040.png )

>What are those icons in the ((bottom-right)) corner? Are they cards? Portraits?
They look like paintings to me. They're very striking even if some look... smudged? One of them has a big gash in it which is unfortunate. The pigments are incredibly rich and-- is that gold? Several of these paintings have gold being used to make the frame or the subject lustrous and shiny. These were not cheap.

>Talk to the man mountain and quiet girl, and anyone else at your discrestion.

:gokmar1: "I think I'll go ask these folk about what's going on, but... I have a few questions.


:albunis1: "--and so, you now understand, the lustre of gold is but a means to an end. The beauty of the Divine is such that we must seek out whatever may best serve to imitate and iconicize Them. The rich pigments make the image strikingly bold and yet pure, while the lustrous gold leaf entrances the mortal mind and stirs the soul."

:albunis1: "As for the hooks on the wall being asymmetrical? Well, that's just how they were placed in order to position the icons, which are not all of the same shape nor size."


:gokmar1: "I almost forgot! I tried to get in here but something happened to me, and it was like I couldn't even think about walking through the doorway. Do you know what that was?"

:albunis1: "Yes, this band has invoked a blessing of Sanctuary from one of their gods, I believe. I was able to will myself to act through it, but someone like yourself would have a hard time overcoming compulsive magics. They tend to work very well on the young, the absent minded, and the dissolute. I do not mean to say that you are guilty of all three!"
No. 967212 ID: f56a2b
File 158994710611.png - (22.17KB , 800x600 , 041.png )

Yes, Sanctuary... a most powerful and yet elementary thaumaturgical work. Only the witless and bestial are spared from the invocation's compulsion; the more intelligent and rational one is the more wise to their fallibility they must be, for only by rejecting the will it imposes on you and defeating the false sense of self it preys on can you break its hold on your waking mind. As could be said of all mental trickery that thaumaturgy is used to commit, a naive trust in your own self is your undoing.

I did not realize my masters were molding me into such a twisted wretch until I first rejected my own will and butchered a priest who had called for sanctuary from his God. Since then, it has only become easier.

No. 967213 ID: f56a2b
File 158994714994.png - (17.86KB , 800x600 , 042.png )

How should I approach these folk? Oh, sod it. No sense pretending I'm not here to pick their brains.

:gokmar1: "Pardon me, sir."

:conchar1: "Mrh?" *gulp* "Ah, who are you?"

:gokmar1: "My name is Gokmar. W-"

:conchar1: "The name's Conchar. Good health!" *sip*

:gokmar1: "I've never met a Godi before. I was interested in how you folk all look at religion, I'm on a sort of 'see the world and find yourself' kind of trip you see."

:conchar1: "WELL NO SHIT! You've come to the right place."

The stench of mead on his lips is quite pungent. It's almost enough to make me regret seeking his advice.

:conchar1: "You oughtta join up! I'd know cause I'm in this band for the same reason you're travelling the world! Heyy how far have you gone so far huh?"

:gokmar1: "Actually, I've been to Wyrdshire before--"

:conchar1: "Wyrdshire huh? Where is that?"

:gokmar1: "We're in it. This is the Church of Wyrdshire."

:conchar1: "Shit, huh. Guess I forgot. Whatever, like I was saying before you oughtta join up us. We've got tough guys like Hardra backing us up. Nobody's gonna fuck with you.

:gokmar1: "What about that one, over there?"

:conchar1: "Who..." He gulps, without a drop of drink in his mouth. "ohhhhh... I wouldn't like, mess with him. He's like, kind of scary."

:gokmar1: "Scary? Come on now, doesn't he have your back?"

:conchar1: "I'm serious. I saw him tear a woman in two with his bare hands. It was... bad. I know he has my back but... like, I don't know."
No. 967214 ID: f56a2b
File 158994716581.png - (29.77KB , 800x600 , 043.png )

:gokmar1: "Pardon me, sir. I-"

I swear, I can feel him staring at me. Something in his pose shifts, and there's a tension in the air a thousand times worse than when I spoke with Hardra as he puts his sharpening stone down but does not let go of his axe.

He just sits there... his eyes-- no, the eyes of the pelt he's wearing feel like they're staring at me.

I almost flinch and step back instinctively, as he draws himself up to full height, axe in hand.

:banabjorn1: "Banabjorn I am. Thou, would approach me?"

:gokmar1: "Y-yes. I don't want to fight. I just want to talk, please."

He sits back down and... sets his axe down?

:banabjorn1: "Grrr... I want to fight not as well! All thee here are so strange, thou people the Great Island thereof. Do, thee here give respect when addressed? Do, thee here sit as the thumb stands?

:gokmar1: "Uhhh..."

:banabjorn1: "Orcling, thou hear me? Sit, fine. If, thou to me want to talk? Then, thou speak right! Do, I, thine mumblings care for? No. Speak!

>Thine questions parse-- err, phrase your questions to the barbarian in his own way of speaking, if you would be so kind.
No. 967221 ID: d63ea8

((Okay, not much vocabulary to go on, but I will try to pick it up.))

First sit down.

"Gokmar I am. I give respect greatly. Thou, a place from where?"

"Do, I, thine words care for? Yes."

((Hopefully he gives more definitive statements rather than questions, it'll take time to try and put the words together well.))
No. 967242 ID: e7c7d3

No. 967249 ID: 9876c4

You're on point for this
No. 967299 ID: f56a2b
File 159001665530.png - (35.57KB , 800x600 , 044.png )

I sit down.

:gokmar1: "Gokmar, I am. I give respect greatly. Do, I, thine words care for? Yes. Thou, a place from where?"

He goes back to honing his axe.

:banabjorn1: "Gokmar... Thy name empty rings. Have, thee, a clan not? I from away far, far am. Urorkland, across the whale-road be; my home."
No. 967341 ID: d63ea8

((Alright, I think I'm getting a better picture of the vocabulary.))

"Have, I, a clan? No. Clan, a place empty."

"I journey now, truths seeking."

"Have, thee, truths from away far? Truths the Urorkland thereof?"

((That's cool, he's from across the ocean.))
No. 968315 ID: f56a2b
File 159072160250.png - (28.27KB , 800x600 , 45.png )

:gokmar1: "Have, I, a clan? No. Clan, a place empty."

:banabjorn1: "Hrmm... Thee, a clan without? Thine own clan by thee not known, maybe."

:banabjorn1: "Here, now, I seek vengeance and fate. What thee seek?

:gokmar1: "I journey now, truths seeking. Have, thee, truths from away far? Truths the Urorkland thereof?"

This seems to stop him for a few moments, before he speaks again.

:banabjorn1: "Truths...? Lore this world thereof? Thee our band might join. We all seek. I, truth of Urorkland but one have. A story."
No. 968316 ID: f56a2b
File 159072161872.png - (172.82KB , 800x600 , 46.png )

He started as he meant to go on, in his barbaric speech...


Kin our own, we all adhere must. Tribes, trust thus.

Rites, respected; path wrong which is, rejected.

Youths' years all for we yearn,
Whose homes at, hearths brightly burn.

Adulthood orcs' all seek. One's path, an experience with, is earned.
But. when and whence, mine twin's turn.

as he speaks i feel it
he felt it in his mind
a conscio us ness not his ow n
wh a


It is cold. Too cold.

You're getting tired.

It's hard to focus.

What were you supposed to find? Adulthood? Your path? It's all so...

Focus. FOCUS! You can't just fade away now!

[You feel lethargic.]
[It's hard to focus and think.]
[You feel cold creeping into your core.]

Furs (worn)
-You're holding them tight to block out the cold.
Lugged Spear (in hand)
-A fine weapon, with lugs to prevent a wild beast from sliding up the spear to attack you once impaled.
Seax (at hand)
-A knife you've had since your seventh winter.
Rations (one meal, stowed away)
-The only sustenance not of your own making you were allowed to have.
Vibrant Potion (stowed away)
-The shaman said, "When a fight becomes too much to bear, drink deep of this and your soul will blaze anew. After the fire leaves however, your ashes will run cold. This works best on a full stomach. Do NOT use this when you are hungry or starving, unless it is truly a matter of life or death, as you might well die afterwards!"
Murky Potion (stowed away)
-The shaman said, "If you encounter an alf, or a skadi, or any manner of otherworldy being, this will expand your mind to see clearly. The more tired and hungry you are the more effective this draught will be. I hope I shouldn't have to say this then; do not drink it after a meal for base refreshment!"
No. 968325 ID: e7c7d3

Get up and look for a beast to slay
No. 968330 ID: d63ea8

The first thing you need is a fire. Cold and tired can be a lethal combo.

Use your Seax to hack off some branches and turn them into kindling.
No. 968566 ID: f56a2b
File 159088993944.png - (183.94KB , 800x600 , 047.png )

>Cold and tired can be a lethal combo.

A fire is a good idea. I can't just sit around and wait like this.


>Get up and look for a beast to slay.

This... marsh? is strange, and for the dead trees I'd say it was truely lifeless... Every now and then I look up from the fire to see shapes in the fog, but as I chase them they run away or just seem to disappear. I still haven't eaten, and I swear, the hungrier I get the more I notice shapes in the corners and behind trees...


I might just eat that meal, I really am starving...

I speak. AT YOU! come closer

No. 968573 ID: b1b4f3

>come closer, don't eat yet
Alright. See if you can follow the sound of that voice. Bring your spear.
No. 968579 ID: d63ea8

This is a place of death. Spirits that dwell here would be well versed in the words of desperation.

Grab your spear and drink the Murky Potion, you need to know what you are dealing with. And you are in the proper state to use the potion to its fullest effect.

Try to see where this 'voice' is coming from.
No. 968753 ID: f56a2b
File 159106756601.png - (82.27KB , 800x600 , 048.png )

>Bring your spear, follow the sound of that voice. Drink the murky potion, you need to know what you are dealing with.

This place is dead silent. Why do I think I'm hearing voices?

The more I think about it, the more it unnerves me; maybe it's time for a drink.


Tastes like... ugh, like... vinegar and spoiled meat. It's really not sitting too well in my empty stomach...

Let's get a move on.

I've been walking for a while.


That's strange.

My thoughts.

Come to me.

I have to think to catch them quickly all atoncetakestoo much my


is ?

[Yourbodyfeelslethargicbutyourmindhasnolimitationsonagency.yourwillisentirelyunfetteredbyphysicalfeedback.itshardtofocusorthink.thememoryofthefireswarmthismeaninglesstoyourmindandfreshinyourbodythecoldofthe Skadi-vidr's atmospherecontinuestopierceintoyourfleshbutthereislittletemperaturechangetheeffectismentalandyousuccessfulyresistit.yourbodystillwantswarmthofthefire.hungermakesyourbodytireditwantswarmth ]

I speak. AT YOU! come closer

! I DID hear that voice! the one I thought of hearing! I did not hear it! I do not hear it. But it must have happened.

Where did it come from?

>Your body is experiencing a heightened level of arousal and anxiety. It is attempting to identify the source of the voice in an area where it believes a dangerous unknown could have produced it. It has recognized the following patterns: Snake, Deer, Person, Sticks, Hole, Ghost, Demon, Fire, Spear, and Witchcraft.

>Your body is fervently attempting to compel you to investigate one, more, or all of these patterns or act to protect yourself against one, more, or all of these patterns.
No. 968754 ID: f56a2b

Without focus, thoughts come easily and almost instantly. With focus, the body can be controlled, but the ebb and flow of its own corporeal will resists the mind's control.
No. 968763 ID: d63ea8

There is a face in the Sticks and Fire but a Deer moves amid the trees.

We do not know if these faces hold the presence of a Ghost or a Demon, but keep your Spear at hand.

Focus on this:
Kneel at the face of Sticks but keep your eyes locked on the Deer off to the left.
No. 968764 ID: b1b4f3

Face in the sticks, probably nothing. Face in the fire, probably nothing. Just your mind playing tricks on you. The "deer" could be real but it's harmless and if it's real it will run off.

Investigate: "snake" in the snow, scare it off or just move away from it. "Person" behind that tree, investigate and talk to them.
Don't step in the hole.
No. 968815 ID: f56a2b
File 159114787118.png - (165.36KB , 800x600 , 049.png )

You choose to focus on controlling your body.

You pick up the spear and bring it to bear.
>Your body is mildly apprehensive about picking up the spear, but as long as the tip is away from you it does not fight your actions very much.

You kneel by the Sticks, and dismiss your body's paranoia about them.
>Your body is mildly afraid of the face it sees in the Sticks, but more so you fight to move away from the fire.

You ignore the face in the fire as a trick.
>Your body has no more fear of the Fire, but it does try to resist you moving away from it towards the sticks.

Avoiding the Snake by maintaining your distance, it seems to wind and slither in the distance.
>Your body has a significant fear of the snake, but at this distance it only fights to keep your attention on it, which it does not accomplish.

You keep your eyes on the deer(?). It continues to apparently sideeye you, from its position half behind the tree.
>Your body does not fear the deer so much, and this is enough for it.

You avoid the Hole(?) in the tree.
>Your body appreciates you giving in to its fear of the hole.

You call out to the Person.
>Your body is wary of the shape. It hears a whispered response spoken in tongues.

>Your body urges you to seek warmth, and fights your attempts to lower yourself towards the "cold" ground, unsuccessfully.

>Your body races with anxiety about ghosts, demons, and witchcraft. Something primal within you stirs, and though you do not see it clearly, your body feels something wash over it. You do not feel alone in your body.

Focus on control of actions or Think and obtain clarity of perception?
Either way, what do you do/contemplate and how?
No. 968823 ID: b1b4f3

Think. I couldn't tell where the ghost or demon or witchcraft were, let's try to find those again.
Maybe the ghost is in your body now, in which case maybe that's who you're trying to contact? Is the "Person" even real? Move a little closer to it to make it out more clearly. You would also be getting a little closer to the fire, which is nice.
No. 968826 ID: d63ea8

Think, we need to find what is real and what isn't.
No. 968954 ID: f56a2b
File 159131165624.png - (418.16KB , 800x600 , 050.png )

You choose to think, to search for the ghost, the demon, and the witchcraft. To figure out if the Person is real. To find out what is real, and what is not.

[You lose focus and your body's perceptions turn into a blur. It is free to act on instinct, and you are mostly unperceptive of current events, for the moment you think. Your memory, however, is well accounted for and your state of mind is open to you.]


All information that comes to mind has been considered, realized, and catalogued to be reviewed by yourself.

>Where is the ghost? The demon? The witchcraft?
[The body sensed a pattern that indicated a livi-- animated spirit nearby which it could not see, touch, hear, taste or smell. On reflection, you are certain there is such a being nearby. The body sensed a pattern of mental influence it was not used to; a corruption of self control could either be a Demon (if tied to the aforementioned Ghost entity or another specific entity) or could be Witchcraft in the abstract, divorced from any one source.]

>Is the person real?
[The Person is no more than a pattern in the fog. The mutterings heard by the body fall within a margin of mistaken interpretation not clarified by the altered state of perception caused by the drink. In addition, the mutterings carried no weight and did not wash over your soul like the words spoken by living beings would have. Your body was almost certainly interpreting ambient noises to be the speech of the "being".]

>What is real, and what is not?
[This requires the most withdrawal from the distractions of the physical world.]

[The cold is not real, you can tell you are being fed the sensations but the source is not obvious. The snake and the person are not real. The deer is not real. The spear has no supernatural qualities or real presence to your mind. The feeling of witchcraft, a ghost, or a demon, is certainly real. The fire is ] a fire. It is warm, and it can help stave off the lethal cold. You will need to warm up and come closer

come closer come closer >come closer >come closer to the fire >go to the fire >

[You cannot control your body with conscious thoughts. You must Focus to do that.]

[On a certain level, you know nothing about this is real, and yet, there is clearly a layer of substance to this false reality. You are a mind, in memory, being relived through another. Perhaps, you are merely a figment of the dreamer's imagination. Despite your realization that you are a mere memory of life, there is something about the landscape you find yourself in... as if the memory is but a play, yet the stage is real...]
No. 968955 ID: f56a2b

warm up with the fire
No. 968956 ID: d63ea8

The cold is not real which means:
You are a liar.

Do not approach the fire, speak to it.
No. 968957 ID: b1b4f3

Alright, we've eliminated basically everything but the fire.
What about the face in the sticks, and the hole in the tree?
After that, Focus, then get closer to the fire, but not close enough to burn yourself.
No. 969188 ID: f56a2b
File 159158682644.png - (453.35KB , 800x600 , 051.png )

mortal orc come to the fire orc focus come it's cold warm up

[The hole in the tree is not a figment of your imagination, that you can tell. What is inside of it, your body could not see. The face in the sticks seemed to be the product of a paranoid subconscious.]

[The fire appeared to be real, but on consideration... the cold does not exist.]

[You remember cutting tree branches with your seax and you lit the fire You had NOTHING to light the fire with. Every time you remember the event, there are no details. You remember nothing, except that you lit the fire.

[Your body seizes up. It does not move at all, and the limbs go nearly entirely slack. The blurred senses you receive become... wrong.]

[It is time to focus, and reunite your mind with your body. The ravages of the shaman's draught are unnavigable to a simpleton, which is what your body is reduced to unless your heightened awareness focuses its animation.]

[You focus back on your body---
No. 969189 ID: f56a2b
File 159158685892.png - (178.21KB , 800x600 , 052.png )

---and at once, you are past a threshhold. Your body isn't comatose and unresponsive. It was your mind which could not handle the world the draught revealed.


(You): "Hear me, you liar! I will not be decieved!"

(Skadi): It makes no difference. You will burn. Come to me and burn. Come to me and burn... Come to me, and burn.


Thought and focus are no longer seperate. The (Selfless Knowledge) draught is in full effect, and will probably remain so for most of the day, piercing the veil between planes.

Lugged Spear
(Your Seax)
A piece of your essence resides in this knife.
(Potion of Fire's Wrath)
Your Fire will burn gloriously. Your Air will be exhausted. Your Water will be depleted. Your Earth will become brittle. You will be resistant to thaumaturgy. Once the fire leaves, your mortal vessel will be used to nourish your soul.
(Potion of Selfless Knowledge) The world's Water will flow through your mind's stream, expanding your consciousness and perception. You will be resistant to thaumaturgy. Once the flow ends, your Water will not be entirely your own for some while.

No. 969190 ID: b1b4f3

What? Why is everything completely different?
Explain these elements.
No. 969191 ID: d63ea8

Uncork and throw the bottle of Fire's Wrath into Skadi's form, then hold your breath.

It will consume all the air, except for that which lay in your lungs.

Skadi will smother itself.
No. 969694 ID: f56a2b
File 159210381530.png - (20.88KB , 800x600 , 053.png )

>What? Why is everything completely different?
>Explain these elements.

Water is Mind, the flow of sense. Fire is Will, by which life seeks life. I don't even know what it means, it's just flowing into my (mindstream) because of the potion... Air is the empathy of souls. Earth is the binding of a soul to its vessel.


you I can barely handle everything, it's all happening at once!


Come to me and burn. Enter the fire.

Enter the fire... burn... Fire. Burn.

>Uncork and throw the bottle of Fire's Wrath into Skadi's form, then hold your breath.
>It will consume all the air, except for that which lay in your lungs.
>Skadi will smother itself.

I don't think--

Stop hesitating. Do it!

Must. Act!

(Skadi): You think to assault me now? Pathetic.
No. 969695 ID: f56a2b
File 159210383070.png - (162.11KB , 800x600 , 054.png )

(Skadi): Hahaha... what is this? A "potion? Was I supposed to be harmed?"

(Skadi): "Come on now! GET OVER HERE! COME HERE! NOW!"

As the (Skadi's) form grows more monstrous, I feel the raw spirit of his Fire radiate. At the same time, however, its Water dries up, leaving my (mindstream) unmolested...


(You): "And just why would I do that?"


He continues to rant and rave; I stop holding my breath when I realize the air around me is unchanged. None the less, I keep my distance from the raving monster. It's like watching a ravenous wolf... with its leg in a snare.
No. 969696 ID: f56a2b
File 159210385374.png - (23.69KB , 800x600 , 055.png )

It only becomes more pathetic, as it screams and wails of its terrible hunger and continues to claw in desperate attempts to reach me.

(Skadi): "I need you! burn! i need you... burn... so hungry.... i need you, burn..."

Realization dawns on it; surely as its strength fades its mind is returning...

(Skadi): "no. no no no no no no dont dont stop stay back stay back"

(You): "I wonder: just what does a hungry, evil little cuss like yourself go through when its starving, but when it doesn't even have the Fire inside it to seek food?"

(Skadi): "so hungry stop stop dont come just go please please dont destroy me"
No. 969697 ID: b1b4f3

No. 969698 ID: 9876c4

Pray for the vestiges of it's soul. Then destroy it.
No. 969699 ID: d63ea8

Even the smallest embers can re-ignite an inferno.

Use your spear to push the ash over Skadi and smother it for good.
No. 969715 ID: f56a2b
File 159217023134.png - (41.26KB , 800x600 , 056.png )

Yes. I want nothing more than for this wretch to die, viol-

>Pray for the vestiges of it's soul. Then destroy it.

What came over me, there? The (shadowfell) is... flowing through my (mindstream). I should calm myself.

Then, I will pray.

(You): "Gods above, this wretch may have once been my cousin, or my brother... whether he be of my blood, or that of race another, guide his tortured soul to the next life. Be at peace, shade."

(Skadi): ...

I spike its skull with my spear, but I do not take pleasure in it. This thing dies as much a victim of its hunger as any of the beings it burnt and collected in its ashpile.

Then, as its fire fades from its eyes, I work it into the ash, burying it once and hopefully for all.

And here I am. In this cave, surrounded by the ashen bones of however many died here. My head is starting to clear up after all that excitement.


Ah, that's right... before I fell for the trickery of this dark spirit, I was searching for clues as to the warband of my tribe that got lost in this cursed wilderness. If I don't have anything left to do, I should get back to it.
No. 969716 ID: b1b4f3

May as well eat your ration, since you have no potions and are hungry.
Are the effects of the first potion still working? You could *think* again, to find the trail... or search for items of interest in the ash pile.
No. 969734 ID: d63ea8

There was a blade sticking up out of the pile of ash.
See if you can unearth it again.
Are there any symbols that are related to your tribe, or this warband you are looking for?
No. 969800 ID: f56a2b
File 159227875535.png - (45.40KB , 800x600 , 057.png )

>May as well eat your ration.

By hearthfire, do I want to, but it can wait until I get away from this miserable place.

>Are the effects of the first potion still working? You could *think* again, to find the trail or search for items of interest in the ash pile.

>See if you can unearth the blade. Are there any symbols related to your tribe, or the warband?

I'll clear my mind...
hunger, cold... warmth, death, hunger... cold, Okuls, death... hunger, cold, warmth, death, hunger, Mikal...

Alright, this is all a little confusing but I think I've figured it out. When I clear my mind entirely and try not to think, others' Water will (flow) through my (mindstream). I don't really understand it, but I know it anyways.

It's almost as if when I empty my head it lets other things thoughts go into my head. That thing-- hold on, let me try... that (shadowfell creature, a Skadi), was trying to put thoughts in my head on purpose.

What's special now, however, is when I empty my head on purpose other thoughts will flow into it, from things like these remains and the pieces of equipment left behind.

They must not have broken out of that "forest", and starved to death or gotten consumed or something. All I hear from them is "I'm hungry, I'm cold, I'm covered in warmth," and "I'm dying."

The Skadi itself, I can't really tell apart from all the other voices. There was something about it when it tried to take control of me that made it stick out, although I can't really put my finger on why it felt "fake".


Alright, so here's the whole run of loot:
One very nice sword, which belonged to a "Mikal" for a long time.
I remember... that man, he was one of my brother's friends and liked picking on me. What a rotten way to go.

An intact skull, of "Okuls".
Okuls was a prickly one. None the less, we all tolerated him. I don't feel good carrying this thing around, there's something about it... When I empty my mind and turn to it, it goes silent. When I don't occupy myself with it, I swear it's like there's something else in my head.

An amulet.
This must be really new, it doesn't have bear any (erosion) from a (soul)... whatever that means. Guess it's nice to have something shiny and valuable in case I meet a peddler out here? Yeah, right.


So that's that. A new blade, a bauble, a... skull, and a nice chance to sit down and eat, for what its worth.

Already I can tell just opening my mind is going to let me navigate this bizarre world a lot easier and find the rest of the lost warriors. There's about 13 in total to account for, including my brother.

There's also the question of (you). You don't go away when I empty my mind. Just what are you? Where did you come from? You were there when I withdrew from my body, and you were there before and after I drank that potion.
No. 969804 ID: b1b4f3

Could that skull be dangerous? Or maybe it houses the lingering spirit of its previous occupant, who is choosing to hide from you out of caution? You sensed a ghost before, and the Skadi was not a ghost, was it?

>what are (you)
Uh... no idea buddy, we thought we were actually *you*, in a way. Sorry, you probably don't appreciate that answer but honestly we'd have to make some bullshit up otherwise. Maybe we're the voice of Fate, whether literal or metaphorical. Maybe we're lingering remains of the Skadi's victims. Maybe we're something else entirely. We'd like to help you regardless of what we are.

Now I'm interested in something else, something we were taking for granted... who are YOU? The last thing we remember before helping you fight the Skadi was we were helping a different orc, and listening to a story.
No. 969893 ID: f56a2b
File 159235262478.png - (216.54KB , 800x600 , 058.png )

What am I? My name is Gokmar, of Relsh, and you're part of a story a fellow named Banabjorn is telling me.
No. I will not fall into the trap of letting my memories assimilate me. You need only know that I am a fiend-mercenary from Gehenna, and your continued existence is convenient to me. That is why I am guiding you.
>Uh... no idea buddy, we thought we were actually *you*, in a way. Sorry, you probably don't appreciate that answer but honestly we'd have to make some bullshit up otherwise. Maybe we're the voice of Fate, whether literal or metaphorical. Maybe we're lingering remains of the Skadi's victims. Maybe we're something else entirely. We'd like to help you regardless of what we are.

>Now I'm interested in something else, something we were taking for granted... who are YOU? The last thing we remember before helping you fight the Skadi was we were helping a different orc, and listening to a story.

Huh? Helping another orc? Wait... I do remember feeling something odd the day I left home, as I stared across the ocean from the dock...
What in the nine hells is THIS? Damn it, a wizard must be doing something to my body! I NEVER did any of this in my past life! Be calm. Be calm...

I understand, you must be some kind of spirits of the dead, or something. I don't know what it seemed like to you to possess me, but I couldn't tell you apart from my thoughts until now. Now, it feels like you're just talking to me in my head... "b1b4f3"? "d63ea8"... "f56a2b"-- I know your "names" but they don't mean anything to me, it's just gibberish.

What does that mean, "dee-sicksteefree-ee-ay-ate?" Are you a Dracon, or something? I hear they have odd names.
You're-- Astral Spirits! By the HELLS you won't steal my mind from me! I swear, when I take back control, I will summon you and bind you to the mortar in Purgatory's great wall!

My name is Haradsson, son of Harad. My twin brother is also called Haradsson, only he's got this scar above his left brow you can tell us apart by. Frankly, I don't think you'll find me very interesting. I'm just trying to find thirteen of my tribe who might well have died and been turned into monstrous wretches in this foul, evil land full of dark magics and vile creatures. It's not just for the good of the tribe, I'm also going to be recognized as an adult after this. Dear, sweet Grisilda is waiting for me; the moment I take on the markings of a tribe's man I'm taking her as my woman.

>Could that skull be dangerous? You sensed a ghost before, and the Skadi was not a ghost, was it?

Hmm... I know old ghost-stories and what my mentor told me before I came out here. He told me that the Skadi were shades, a monster that people turn into when they die in an evil place without getting to pass on to the next life. This forest is called the Skadi-Vidr, so it's supposed to be full of them. I certainly thought some kind of ghost was near me when I was trapped in that forest-dream, but it was probably the giant burning monster only a few feet away.

Wait a sec... oh no, that's really sick. I think this poor man is still in his skull, or part of him anyway. The pile of ash looked like mulched up bones to me; this warrior is like a half-finished meal-- Gods, what a terrible thought!

On the other hand, those who die here become monsters... I don't know what to do about this skull. I'd appreciate any advice.
No. 969895 ID: b1b4f3

No more advice. We aren't supposed to be here. We did not understand what we were doing; I apologize, fiend-mercenary. Your story is your own to tell.
No. 969902 ID: d63ea8

We will remain silent.
But we must listen.
We do not have a choice.
No. 969909 ID: d63ea8

>what are (you)
What we are specifically, I do not know.
But I can guess...

We might be your own thoughts taken and reflected again into echoes that no longer resemble the original. And our names are merely categories for how these thoughts twist into there new forms.

I for one value symbols and what can be observed.

I do not believe that skull is dangerous. But you must heed it as a reminder of your own mortality. The Skadi had consumed all of these people and you were nearly next.

If this place truly turns the dead into monsters, then please ensure that the fallen are laid to rest so that their spirits are at peace. Even if it is just taking the skull, sword and medallion as mementos, ensure that their previous owners are remembered for who they were and that they are mourned within your tribe.
No. 970048 ID: f56a2b
File 159254091734.png - (194.01KB , 800x600 , 059.png )

>We might be your own thoughts taken and reflected again into echoes...

:gehennitesoul: Mere categories for my own thoughts? Perhaps I jumped to conclusions. Come to think of it, I didn't notice all this time before... and then, right after this potion that expands the mind? Maybe it's just some kind of benign magical interference.

>No more advice. We aren't supposed to be here. We did not understand what we were doing.

:gokmarsoul: No more advice?! No, please stay with me, Spirits!

:gehennitesoul: I had forgotten quite how credulous and naive I was as a young man. "Part of a story Banabjorn is telling me," "no more advice?!?!?"... It's a wonder I didn't die sooner than I did. It's a little annoying. I almost want to die and relive my immortal torment in the Hells instead. Very well, If I must make it clear to myself: you seem to be the thoughts that bridge my intent and my actions, for now. Keep advising this gormless barbarian on how to put one foot in front of the other without kicking his own legs... It's bad enough that I'm reliving memories of a mortal besides myself. I do not need to feel another's mind as they die.

>Heed the skull as a reminder of your own mortality. If this place turns the dead into monsters, ensure the fallen are laid to rest. Take all the belongings as mementos, for their mourning.

Agreed. I shouldn't leave my fellows to their fates if they aren't already lost. For now at least, they go with me.
No. 970050 ID: b1b4f3

An ominous moon...
There seems to be disturbed soil down there. Should check it out.
No. 970062 ID: d63ea8

>I had forgotten quite how credulous and naive I was as a young man.
Ah. I believe I now know who You are.

It seems that the Blue Star has taken it's position in the sky, I believe it to be a sign of death, or un-death.

Keep your guard up and approach the oval shape that is amid the brush and ash.
No. 970464 ID: f56a2b
File 159292008079.png - (89.37KB , 800x600 , 060.png )

>Ah. I believe I now know who You are.

:gehennitesoul: You should well know, you're my thoughts. I believe I am starting to see the shape of things myself, and I don't like it.

>There seems to be disturbed soil down there. Should check it out.

Right then.

>It seems that the Blue Star has taken it's position in the sky, I believe it to be a sign of death, or un-death.

:gokmarsoul: Blue Star? It must be a sign!

:gehennitesoul: The Blue Star. The very same Blue Star that was a new celestial body in the sky not long before I fell in combat to those two mercenaries. The very same Blue Star is here, in this stranger's memories I have become entrapped in. A stranger from the memories of my mortal life centuries ago.

Death, un-death, or life beyond, it must not mean anything good.

I approach with my spear up, ready for anything to strike. It turns out not to be upturned soil, but a coracle! It's upside down but there's an oar right here, sticking up out of the ground... I wonder just how recently it was used?
No. 970498 ID: d63ea8

Hmm. The ground beneath the coracle has been greatly disturb, almost as though it has been kicked up into a form of mud. Something that would be unlikely to happen if one had only brought the boat ashore.

I believe that someone or something might be living in it.

Be ready.

Our view from higher up showed that something might be conceal amid the brush on the left. Search that first.
No. 970499 ID: b1b4f3

Knock on the boat.
No. 970601 ID: f56a2b
File 159304029923.png - (67.57KB , 800x600 , 061.png )

>Something might be concealed amid the brush on the left.

Alright... huh. Wait, was it the oar that I saw from up there? I carefully search the vicinity but I don't find anything new...

>Someone or something might be living in the boat. Knock on the boat, and be ready.

*knock knock*

"Hey, anyone in there?"
No. 970602 ID: b1b4f3

OH my god that's not a canoe that's a monster! Run!
No. 970609 ID: f56a2b
File 159305077576.png - (144.61KB , 800x600 , 062.png )

ARGH! My arm!

>That's a monster! RUN!

Don't have to tell me twice! I act quick and put some distance between me and that thing. My arm hurts like all hell, now... it's on alert, but it doesn't seem to be trying to follow me.
No. 970610 ID: b1b4f3

So uh, any idea what that was or what kind of venom you may have been injected with?
No. 970611 ID: d63ea8

This doesn't strike me as a predator that would run you down. It is likely venomous, which means we need to get out of its reach before our time runs out.

Look for a tree that can bare your weight and then climb it.
No. 970939 ID: f56a2b
File 159341112492.png - (144.13KB , 800x600 , 063.png )

Huff.. huff...

>It is likely venomous, which means we need to get out of its reach. Look for a tree that can bear your weight and then climb it.

Venomous!? No, no... slow down and think... my Earth is still solid, or at least no less eroded than it was before. This wound hurts like hell, but it's not poisonous... I don't know how I know, but somehow I can tell just by thinking about it, whether or not that thing's stinger was venomous.

:gehennitesoul: Now this, I am interested in. Before, I thought perhaps this potion just made his mind sharper, or imparted some kind of altered state on him, which is why he could perceive you, my thoughts, directly... and that somehow, I just happened to be receiving this adulteration by sharing his senses.

As far as I know, and I am by no means ignorant, one can only detect poison either by alchemical testing, or by arcane or thaumaturgial divination... and all he did, was drink some dubious brew that made the world's water "flow" through him. The mystical nature of this rules alchemy right out, and divination is about seeking an astral or transcendant spirit to answer your questions or guide you. I've never heard of this Earth, Air, Fire, and Water nonsense, either... at least, outside of the context of fireballs and such. This might be more than swamp wine and tribal superstitions... and that Fire's Wrath concoction too: that should not have done a thing to a ghost if it was just an alchemic brew. It was definitely a primarily magical concoction for its essence to seep into a spirit of any kind.

>Look for a tree that can bare your weight and then climb it.

Alright, lets get some height on this...

>Any idea what that was?

No, but it damn near made my heart jump out of my chest! I thought it was a boat for heavens' sake!

:gokmarsoul: What a strange creature... I've never seen anything like it.

:gehennitesoul: I really haven't a clue what that thing is, either. I'm not familiar with this barbarian's homeland. People like him rarely have many things of worth to trade for my kind's services, nor do they have much knowledge about how to contact us. As a result, I can honestly say that I have never been this deep into the land of the original orcs before.

What the-- my right hand's getting covered in leaves and dirt... was that boat-thing covered in sap?

I didn't see any remains of a warrior under or near that thing, so I think it's safe to rule that out.

I don't like to turn my back on a fight like this, but it's a wild animal or creature of sorts, not an enemy warrior. Although, so was that shade in the cave earlier...
No. 970940 ID: f56a2b
File 159341116957.png - (372.05KB , 800x600 , 064.png )

...alright, it's given up now. It's gone back to looking almost indistinguishable from a boat.

My arm's a problem now, but after some improvisations, I think I have the worst of it under control. Not going to be doing any heavy lifting though.

Lets keep the pace up, here. First thing I'm doing when I hit the ground is picking my spear back up. Then, I'm not hanging around to see what this thing does, so...

>Choose your next direction.

>11 Warriors remain to be found, including your twin brother, Haradsson the Greater.
No. 970941 ID: b1b4f3

Follow the road into the forest.
No. 970967 ID: d63ea8

Agreed. Through keep an eye out for disruptions in the underbrush, just in case the went into the wilderness.
No. 971127 ID: f56a2b
File 159356676224.png - (225.73KB , 800x600 , 65.png )

>Follow the road into the forest, though keep an eye on the underbrush in case they went into the wilderness.

I shouldn't have even entertained leaving as an option. I will find my lost cousins, one way or another.

I can feel them, staring at me. They hunger for me, like the Skadi from before. Dread probes at me, but I stand tall. These are not real predators: surely I only have the attention of weaklings and scavengers for now.

A fork in the road... I hesitate, and at once I feel the shadows grow. These woods are hungry, and I am dancing on their teeth.

This forest intends to kill me and death may come at any moment. My fate here might be all but certain... but I won't allow myself to fail.

>Your right forearm is wounded. Your non-dominant hand cannot be used to effectively wield weapons, or for any non-trivial feats of strength. The wound is stabilized, but will not improve on its own any time soon.

Furs (worn)
Lugged Spear (in hand)
(Your Seax) (at hand)
-A piece of your essence resides in this knife.
(Mikal's Sword) (at hand)
-A piece of Mikal's essence, and of slain foemen, resides in this blade.
(Okuls' Skull) (stowed away)
-A piece of Okul's remains, yet retaining a smidge of his essence.

An Amulet (stowed away)
-A bauble, with a cameo of a woman.
No. 971129 ID: b1b4f3

Those sure are some shadow monsters.
Go left, assuming you are not immediately attacked.
No. 971161 ID: d63ea8

They seem coiled like serpents or vines. Do not walk beneath them or else they will descend upon you.

Can you possible circle around them and return to the path?

What does you Air say of this place?

If we can navigate to the fork successfully, then I agree that we should go left.
No. 971239 ID: f56a2b
File 159365524349.png - (170.24KB , 800x600 , 066.png )

>What does your Air say of this place?
This place... the air around me is fine to breath, but the Air feels... wrong. Though my breathing is fine, I feel a phantom pain of inhaled smoke. The souls around me now have a suffocating nature.

>The shadows seem coiled, like serpents or vines. Do not walk beneath those monsters, or else they will descend upon you. Can you circle around them and return to the path?

I see them now, they flow between the branches and trunks of the trees. I can't tell if it's one monster, or a swarm of many smaller ones.

They seem to dance between the trees, all around me. As I move to a side, they flow and twist and lay in front of me no matter where I am. They do not leave the trees for the road, however. I think the path will let me avoid them as it is.

>If we can navigate to the fork successfully, and are not immediately attacked, go left.

I move forward decisively, and the shadows stop growing.

The first thing I notice for its brilliance is the pale bone lashed to a pole... what is this? some kind of totem?

But the second thing that catches my eye...

What foul fate is this sorry soul bound to? He looks like he's all skin and bones! He stares at me, but he says nothing. As I approach he quickly sits up right and starts to shake as his chest heaves. He starts clearing his throat but as I reflexively stop he catches himself. I can't understand what this wretch is doing.
No. 971244 ID: b1b4f3

Those in cages are usually put there for a reason... ask who they are, and if they have seen anyone traveling along this road.
Examine the bone a bit closer. Is that a totem? Witchcraft?
No. 971249 ID: d63ea8

This poor creature has been given a fate worse than death. I feel that they will be one of the many things that are suffering here.

I think the wretch is warning you not to approach.

Examine the bone, but do not go near it. One of those swarming vines draws close to it.
No. 971311 ID: e7c7d3

This seems the most prudent
No. 971329 ID: f56a2b
File 159374584470.png - (117.51KB , 800x600 , 067.png )

>Examine the bone a bit closer, but do not go near the swarming vines.

I avoid the swarming vines... it's not quite that hard to do, actually, as I approach I see that the vines do not go past the bone; the woods past it aren't thick with flowing shadows.

Now, this bone... I don't know. I don't have an eye for witchcraft, or any kind of magic.

:gehennitesoul: A good move, getting this stupid vessel into place for me to have a look at it.

Hmm... Ah, now this is arcanist work. I've picked up enough in my time to get a vague idea of what's involved even if I, strictly speaking, don't know how to read it. This bone is being used as a focus for a spell, obviously. I can make out a trigram for Air, and... the Red Star, and... Tiphet, the... overspirit of... abjuration, was it?

It's something about abjuring the air, I think.

No. 971330 ID: f56a2b
File 159374587755.png - (93.37KB , 800x600 , 068.png )

>Ask who they are, and if they have seen anyone traveling along this road.

"Hail! Who are you, to be imprisoned here?"

No response... but he starts flicking his eyes from my feet to my head.

"I won't hurt you."

He shakes and fidgets in response.

"Have... have you seen anyone else pass by here?"

His shaking only gets worse.

:gehennitesoul: This sad wretch. I recognize those marks in his chest, without needing to know the symbols. He's being held here by magic. As for the other marks, I don't know, but I don't like unknown magic quantities.

I know that dumb bastard is on a quest to turn every stone over looking for his dead tribesmen, but we should avoid obvious danger.

...It's been so long since I got to live. Following orders, doing dirty deeds, calculating risks like an idiot in this chaotic world for all my afterlife... Just seeing someone so simpleminded, young and naive, and with fire burning in his heart, out to change something...

Nevermind those thoughts, they aren't relevant. I just want to get this over with.

This man was innocent. This is wrong.

What the hell am I thinking?

We must do something about this.

I need to get a grip on this. I am just surrounded by idiots, and it's rubbing off on me.

No. 971332 ID: b1b4f3

Guy's being held by magic, not sure how we'd break that spell. How do you know he's innocent?

Abjuration of the air? Usually abjuration implies protection or healing magic. What is the Red Star?

Can we see what's down the other path?
No. 971334 ID: d63ea8

Ah. This bone is a form of ward, best leave it as is.

This may be a darker option, but death is its own form of escape. Would the wretch want that sort of freedom? Rather than it being trapped in this wasting state?

As for You, do not mistake youthful passion and empathy for foolishness and weakness. Discarding those aspects self have advantages, but also drawbacks.

Those two mercenaries were able to overpower you because they were attuned to one another's thoughts and actions.
No. 971335 ID: d63ea8


Another thought occurs. This wretch is also marked with the signs of water and air, implying the connection of the mind and the soul.

Fitting that they would have a eye upon their head as well, implying sight or wisdom.

I believe You are the man in the cage, and that you are attempting to masquerade as one of us.

Your first statement implies your own experiences, while the second and third are an attempt to guide our actions.

Reveal Yourself properly.
No. 971336 ID: b1b4f3

I had the same idea. Intrusive thoughts may come from an external source.
No. 971377 ID: f56a2b
File 159380372550.png - (227.10KB , 800x600 , 069.png )

>Usually abjuration implies protection or healing magic. What is the Red Star?

:gehennitesoul: Protection, maybe. Healing, I don't know... I think it means rebuking or refuting, myself. The Red Star is some kind of symbol important to arcanists. From what I know it's the most powerful spirit they can invoke, but why they don't use it for every spell escapes me. It's no relation to that Blue Star; it doesn't show up in the sky and arcanists have been using it for ages.

>Do not mistake youthful passion and empathy for foolishness and weakness. Discarding those aspects of self have advantages, but also drawbacks. The two mercenaries were able to overpower you because they were attuned to one another's thoughts and actions.

:gehennitesoul: You as well? This is getting ridiculous. I have a chance now, to gain those aspects back, and redeem myself of my sins. Those mercenaries got me because I got sloppy-- they caught me off guard. My lifesight only revealed one survivor, how was I supposed to expect some kind of magic hiding the other's life signs? Pride cometh before the fall.

>The wretch is marked with water and air, implying connection of the mind and the soul.

:gehennitesoul: I know this barbarian is having a fantastical trip with his notions of mindstreams and breathing air with his soul, but I'm sure this is simply arcane magic and it's something to do with elemental water and air. What do I know? Do I even know the extent of the arcane?

>I believe You are the man in the cage, and that you are masquerading as one of us. Reveal Yourself properly.

:gehennitesoul: Maybe I am some kind of influence, some kind of intrusive force. I have been silent for a long time. I have watched, I have seen, I have done, terrible things that I knew were wrong. Sometimes, I do feel as if I am a wretch in a cage.

Maybe, when young Haradsson glanced at this pathetic thing, and I saw it through his eyes, it made me realize I've been silent far too long. Maybe, this Gehennite reliving the experiences of the living has weakened his faculties enough that he can't fully suppress his sense of right and wrong.

If a callous, pitiless shade like the Gehennite who once called himself Gokmar casts a shadow, you could call that shadow his conscience. It's the voice that cries out when he violates sanctuary; the naive sense of self that is preyed upon by mind control and mental magic.

As for innocence... for what crime can you twist and torture a soul like this caged one? It is sadism. Just because nobody will save them, does not mean the damned deserve to suffer eternally.

>Can we see what's down the other path?

Shadows are shifting between the trees, but I think I see a clearing at the end of it.

>The bone is a form of ward, best leave it as is. This may be a darker option, but death is its own form of escape. Would the wretch want that sort of freedom? Rather than it being trapped in this wasting state?

I think about it for a moment.

I point my spear at it, and it seems to shrink. It does not move any more than it has been, of course, but I can feel its fear. Yet, it does not cower. Am I going to do this? If I do, how?

:gehennitesoul: It wants to be free of suffering. It does not want to die. Sometimes, you do not have the strength to make the right choice, and I understand that. Sure, waste it. It's probably some kind of ghoul anyways.
No. 971483 ID: e7c7d3

It might be best to end it's misery. Death is not ideal but might be the only option right now
No. 971486 ID: b1b4f3

Don't kill the guy yet, we can't take that back. We can explore some more to find another solution.

Try the other path, head towards the clearing.
No. 971487 ID: d63ea8

Very well, we can delay the decision until later, it's not like we're intending on dying either.

Do these shadows seem to be following us or are they omnipresent?
No. 971548 ID: f56a2b
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>Do these shadows seem to be following us or are they omnipresent?

A little of the first, but they are everywhere now that I look for them, except for the area beyond the bone ward of course.

>Don't kill the guy yet, we can't take that back. Delay the decision until later. We can explore some more to find another solution.

I suppose waiting on fate is nothing that thing isn't used to already. Alright, this can wait until later.

>Try the other path, head towards the clearing.
I move on, and while the shadows follow me none of them are game enough to swoop in. Finally, I reach the edge and leave them behind.


Is that... birds, chirping?
No. 971550 ID: b1b4f3

Strange. You sure this is real? Not an illusion? Cautiously approach the tree in the center. The ground around it looks unusual... is it another mimic?
No. 971555 ID: d63ea8

Watch the butterfly closely, does it act as one should?
No. 971564 ID: b1b4f3

Is that some kind of fence on the left?
No. 971584 ID: f56a2b
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>Is that some kind of fence on the left?

No, it's just more of the dark forest.

>You sure this is real? Not an illusion?

I... can't believe what I'm seeing. There's no way this can be real.

But... when I open my mind's eye... I don't sense anything. My Water is pure and undisturbed.

>Watch the butterfly closely, does it act as one should?
It flutters around freely, unfettered by my presence. I can't say I watch critters very often, but it looks completely normal. Wait, what if I...

My Air is still and calm around it, it's as natural as it could be.

>Cautiously approach the tree in the center. The ground around it looks unusual... is it another mimic?

I ready myself. A breeze blows through, as leaves rustle and grass sways.

Besides being on a raised hill, and being surrounded by a ring of flowers, the tree looks just like a tree to me. I watch it very carefully, but nothing seems out of place as I approach it.

It's like wading through waist deep water! My legs are so numb and ... I'm going against the flow of things.

My legs ache, my feet are sore. Every step is fighting against strained muscles.

I'm tired of this, I don't want to transgress against them.

This tree... doesn't want me to come closer. Why am I approaching this (Prince of the Land)?

:gehennitesoul: I can feel this magic trying to control me, and I'm not even supposed to be a part of this! Why am I--

I spin around in a hurry! "HUH?! SHOW YOURSELF!"

:gehennitesoul: Huh. What's gotten into--

I look left, I look right, I keep moving and I look behind me! WHERE is that voice coming from?!


:gehennitesoul: ...what?

Damn it, what do I do?! Forget the Prince for now, I'm tired of fighting it anyways. It's not a threat.

:gokmarsoul: ...
No. 971585 ID: b1b4f3

It's defensive magic. "Prince of the Land" huh? This must be an actual sacred glade. It looks so out of place because it's a sanctuary in the middle of a corrupted forest.
Set down your weapon. See if you can approach with peaceful intentions. Maybe even try talking to the tree? Tell it you are seeking the missing members of your clan.
No. 971620 ID: d63ea8

You are here for the Dead so that they can rest. You will not be held from that task.
No. 971810 ID: f56a2b
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No matter where I turn, I cannot figure out where that new voice is coming from. My Air feels like the voice is coming from right on top of me, stifling and cold.

:gehennitesoul: Orc... can you hear me?

There it is, again! "Show yourself!"

:gehennitesoul: I am... one of your guiding spirits.

"Guiding spirit, eh?" This, I find hard to believe.

:gehennitesoul: Well, yes... you have just been... unable, to hear me. Why you can hear me now is a mystery, it just completely escapes me.

"Hold on. Your name isn't a mishmash of sounds like the other voices guiding me. Your name is Go-- hey, what did you do?! I just forgot it!"

:gehennitesoul: An old trick, now shut up and stop trying to figure out my name.


:gokmarsoul: Can you hear me, Haradsson?

Oh gods, not another one. "Yes... oh, your name is Gokmar? That sounds normal."

:gokmarsoul: Yeah. I've been watching you before too, I just couldn't speak to you directly. I could hear and see everything that you and the spirits were saying and thinking, except for this new spirit... I don't know him either.

Huh. Wait, my thoughts too...?

:gokmarsoul: Err, yeah.



Well, I'm calming down now, but I still figure I should just move on and-

:BRIDGE: It's defensive magic. "Prince of the Land" eh? This must be an actual sacred glade. It looks so out of place because it's a sanctuary in the middle of a corrupted forest.

Woah. You're coming through very strongly.

:BRIDGE: You are here for the Dead so that they can rest. You will not be held from that task. Set down your weapon. See if you can approach with peaceful intentions. Maybe even try talking to the tree? Tell it you are seeking the missing members of your clan.

Approach... the tree? I don't know about that. I'll have to think about it, take some deep breaths.

I set down my weapon, and breathe in.
Okay. It doesn't want me to transgress against it with my weapon, I understand that. I need to show it I really don't mean any harm, but how do I do that?

I breathe out. I breathe in.
Why do I want to talk to it?
Uh... that's simple, I just want to go and find the missing warriors of my tribe. What do I say to it?

I breathe out. I breathe in.
Who are these missing warriors, and what did they aim to fight?
What the-- why am I thinking about them like that?

My breathing quickens, as I grow anxious. I take a deep breath...

There is nothing to fear. The prince only wishes to build rapport with me. It understands my Air. If I must speak to it in the song of beasts, its Dryad will present itself to me. What... is a Dryad?

I exhale, and after a few seconds, the tree shifts and someone... or something, steps out of the trunk.

:dryad: "Greetings, Man. I am the Prince's Dryad, and will represent him. I know that you seek other men, of your group. What else did you wish to ask of the Prince, before I carry your words back?"
No. 971812 ID: b1b4f3

Interesting... it was communicating to you through your breath.

We should ask about the environs. What is wrong with the forest? And that prisoner...
You might also ask what we are, though you may not get the right answer.
You could ask for more information about the elements. These concepts are new to all of us.
No. 971836 ID: d63ea8

Ah... I believe I might understand it. It is communicating through your Earth, that is why your Air and Water have not been touched. The spirits seem linked to the land, and as you brush up against them and breathe them in they are able to use your own impulses to reflect their thoughts.

As for what to ask:

What are the shadows that snake themselves between the trees? They seem unnatural. Is there a way to banish them?
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