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File 158675636927.png - (18.50KB , 800x600 , 001.png )
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.
160 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 969716 ID: b1b4f3

>>969715
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 )
969800

>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

>>969800
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 )
969893

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

>>969893
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 )
970048

>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

>>970048
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 )
970464

>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.

>>970464
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 )
970601

>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 )
970609

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

>>970609
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 )
970939

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 )
970940

...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

>>970941
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 )
971127

>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.

Inventory:
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

>>971127
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 )
971239

>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

>>971239
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

>>971249
This seems the most prudent
>>
No. 971329 ID: f56a2b
File 159374584470.png - (117.51KB , 800x600 , 067.png )
971329

>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 )
971330

>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

>>971330
Guy's being held by magic, not sure how we'd break that spell. How do you know he's innocent?

>>971329
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

Hmm...

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

>>971335
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 )
971377

>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

>>971377
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

>>971486
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
File 159400186619.png - (399.30KB , 800x600 , 070.png )
971548

>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
File 159406060316.png - (435.14KB , 800x600 , 071.png )
971584

>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?!

"YOU WON'T FIND ME EASY PREY, SHADE!"

: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

>>971584
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
File 159425661309.png - (264.52KB , 800x600 , 072.png )
971810

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.

Shit.

-------------------------

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

>>971810
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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