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807859 No. 807859 ID: d36af7

Our story so far:

Exactly halfway through the first leg of their first paying job as The New Fire Hawks, our heroes have been caught in a barely-natural disaster. With daring, cleverness, Viste's ability to casually tear a new axe-hole in space itself, Decaro Vos's "coral snake style" amphibious sumo wrestling, and Maria Agate's ability to tie knots which bind the very soul, they've managed to capture an alarmingly competent bandit lord, and thereby thwart his seige of the small seaside town of Eckton.

Before they could celebrate this unlikely victory, blood spilled during the battle triggered a cataclysmic upwelling of plant growth, releasing latent energies from the prior civil war and perhaps beyond. For the Old God in question, it might be the equivalent of popping a zit. For mortals on the ground, it's a brand new forest, twenty-five miles wide and five or ten miles tall. All the retreating bandits, pursuing guardsmen, inhabitants of outlying villages within half a day's travel of Eckton, and most of the New Fire Hawks (including Maru Red who was leading the charge out the front gate, Hore Wutashi who was dueling the bandits' mage, and Yisheng Ji who'd been hanging back as a reserve force but entered the fray to rescue their leader, Davina) are lost inside a vegetal labyrinth, leaving only Daniel and Maria Agate and Eckton's few remaining able-bodied men-at-arms to guard the town walls... and the tungsten shipment bound for the great metropolis of Overmire, some fifteen hundred miles further up the coast, safe delivery of which is their actual contracted objective.

Hore, Viste, Maru, Yisheng Ji, and a squad of ten halberd-weilding Eckton guards have met up in a large hexagonal... room? Forest clearing? The nature of this place is not yet completely clear. There's a rope bridge, woven from living vines, with gourds growing from it, which was on fire when they arrived, possibly as a result of Hore's previous passage through the room and indiscriminate use of a plasma cannon. The gourds have runes carved into them in High Draconic, but Viste is the only one present who can read that language at all. Taken together, as well as Viste can understand them, the gourd inscriptions on one side read "If you leave here through {two words illegible} and then {four words illegible} to avoid the traps" and on the side without fire damage, "you will be within one {fold?} of Eckton's front gate."

Meanwhile, Decaro Vos and the bandit sorceress Esmeraude Netseth (who narrowly escaped pursuit by Hore Wutashi thanks to a fluke of the forest-maze's rapid development) have met up without either one immediately recognizing the other as an enemy. She opens her mind to him by way of a magical makeout session involving biting her tongue hard enough to draw blood with his pharangeal jaws, so now they have a subjective hour in which to exchange exposition.
The bandits used to be a legitimate army during the civil war. Their old boss, her uncle, turned out to be a demonologist, so rather than defend him from inquisitors and an overwhelming alliance of marginally-less-corrupt neighbors, they ran off and turned to raiding. Conquering Eckton, if they'd pulled it off, would have meant establishing a defensible base, having some real supply lines and rear-area services again, instead of living in tents and eating what they could catch or steal. Eckton lost of a lot of people in the war, but they were holding together thanks to a mutual-defense arrangement with the nearby eelmen tribes. Nobody else could easily get in touch with them because of the rocky coastal cliffs and coral reefs. That's where Esmeraude's magic came in: she's got a few tricks for communicating with people she doesn't even know, fish-folk and nightgaunts in particular, from very far away. After setting up a parley, it turned out that the local eelmen were having problems related to inbreeding - albinism, deformities, hemophilia - because of that same isolation, and a population bottleneck long before the war. So, she offered her eugenic expertise (a common field of study among ambitious dynastic sorcerers) to make optimal use of the opportunity to intermarry with soon-to-be-subjugated townsfolk, in exchange for them switching sides. So far, Decaro Vos was the only eelman to participate in the fighting on either side, which would suggest that the local tribe was either a pack of lazy cowards, or waiting for the right moment to reveal their treachery for greatest tactical effect. All this is established very quickly, there's plenty of time for further follow-up questions.

Vos and Esmeraude are at a Y-shaped intersection of packed earth tunnels, each circular in cross-section and about 3 yards in diameter. Well, strictly speaking it's shaped more like a chicken's foot, but the 'middle toe' passage is narrower, and blocked after less than ten yards by a great mass of fungal material, which is warm to the touch and crackles audibly, like the exterior wall of a wooden fort whose interior is being consumed by fire. There's no ambient light, but Esmeraude's magic can easily produce the heatless, hands-free equivalent of a torch.
Expand all images
No. 807871 ID: 094652

rolled 2, 2, 5 = 9

Hore begins analyzing the message.

Two words probably represent a place rather than an action, while the four words could represent a place or an action or a combination. 'Fold' is probably a slang of measure of distance about less than the distance to the horizon. So in theory, if they climb somewhere high enough, they should be able to see the city, and then Viste can portal them out. Realistically, this seems like another useless riddle meant to mislead adventurers and the forest may be too chaotic to attain line-of-sight from the city or even the ocean from their current position at top-tree height.

Hore continues to analyze the local flora with her cybernetics, hoping it's not ready to grab and strangle. Roll for analysis.

(She hasn't fired her pistol since the fungus. So maybe the traps are fire-based?)
No. 807938 ID: af6e04

rolled 1, 2, 4 = 7

Okay, Vos is going to be upfront and honest and tell Esmeraude that he is a previously unaligned mercenary who decided to intervene and that he's responsible for the capture of Esmeraude's uncle.

I guess whatever I ask is going to hinge on her reaction to that. Vos will mention that the man is alive though not entirely unharmed.
No. 807944 ID: 8b6fda

rolled 3, 1, 5 = 9

Maru is incredibly uneasy- this is too similar to the bloodmist labrynth for her to find any degree of comfort in the momentary lull of combat. She's gonna look around for some hefty rocks and try to match up everyone's stories; Hore doesn't seem to think the sorcerous did this but Maru says she thinks that's where the smart money is. She's especially interested to hear Ji's perspective on things because he came in from above and probably had the best view of everything before it kicked off. She wanted to check to see if anyone had any radically different experiences or lost any time before they move forward so they know what they're dealing with. Roll to investigate the immediate area and what happened. Can she hear any bandits or fighting or such still nearby? Does sound seem to transmit through the walls at all?
No. 807948 ID: 3abd97

rolled 3, 4, 6 = 13

>She wanted to check to see if anyone had any radically different experiences or lost any time
The last thing Viste remembers is losing a duel with a man she had already run through. In the time it took her to recover from her fall... well. *gestures at the environment*. Her rations do not support lost time or absent memories.

Does anyone know what became of Vos and the bandit chieftain?

>"If you leave here through {two words illegible} and then {four words illegible} to avoid the traps" and on the side without fire damage, "you will be within one {fold?} of Eckton's front gate."
Wonderful. The key information is damaged.

Let's see if Mending can repair a gourd carving.

>So in theory, if they climb somewhere high enough, they should be able to see the city, and then Viste can portal them out
Assuming space behaves as we expect. Remember, it was not midday, nor was their a primeval forest here until very recently.

It might be worth asking Ji to ascend, to see if he can still see the town. Or the ocean.

She said her uncle was "their old boss", which implies he isn't their boss anymore. So the bandit chief we fought may not have been her uncle.
No. 808010 ID: d36af7

>analyze the local flora [...], hoping it's not ready to grab and strangle
>rolled 2, 2, 5 = 9
There are some oddly noose-like vines up near the canopy, swaying gently in the lack-of-a-breeze, about as far above the rope bridge as it is above the ground. They seem to be more than two inches thick, though, which might make it difficult to grab individual humans.

>Can she hear any bandits or fighting or such still nearby? Does sound seem to transmit through the walls at all?
>rolled 3, 1, 5 = 9
It's actually eerily quiet. Background noise is just some soft rustling and creaking noises, like loose soil or leaves shuffling around and trees bending in the wind or houses settling on their foundations.

There aren't really any well-defined walls to the larger room. It would be easy enough to step through Viste's portal down to ground level, then climb up and over the tangled tree roots which form those six archways and explore the space beyond.

>Let's see if Mending can repair a gourd carving.
>rolled 3, 4, 6 = 13
Ten minutes later, Viste has successfully (?) removed both the superficial fire damage, and the original carved letter, from one gourd.

Yisheng Ji's sense of time says you've got about nine hours, thirty-eight minutes to get back to the ship before the bosun starts worrying about missing the window to leave Eckton Harbor safely during high tide. He probably wouldn't depart without at least a solid majority of the New Fire Hawks present, but the shipping company wouldn't be happy about tungsten delivery being delayed just because you got distracted by some other business on shore. If you could get a message to the ship, they might be willing to leave on schedule and have Viste & friends catch up by way of portals along the coast road.

She's very briefly overjoyed to hear that her uncle, Baron Netseth, somehow survived or escaped after being abandoned by the bulk of his forces, captured by inquisitors, tried, and publicly executed six years ago. She rides a rollercoaster of emotions in a fraction of a second, settling on outrage at the idea Vos would jump in and brutalize the former captain of her uncle's guards (and current best hope of the survivors), for no apparent reason, on the eve of their greatest victory. All that hard work, research, shady deals, scouting, sacrifices, all for nothing! Why?

Absent a particularly compelling argument, she's about to break off the link and then attack like a cornered animal while weeping bitter tears.
No. 808012 ID: d36af7

>hefty rocks
Soil down below the bridge is damp, and almost pure loam. If it were dry, it would probably burn as easily as wood. There are pea-sized pebbles, but the only big rock is that massive boulder in the center. Hard to judge the exact size since it's partly sunk into the ground, but given the visible dimensions, and the fact that it doesn't sound hollow, probably at least twenty tons. Far too large to wield as a weapon.
No. 808013 ID: 1c693a

rolled 4, 2, 2 = 8

>OLD boss
Guess I glossed over this one.

>she's about to break off the link and then attack like a cornered animal while weeping bitter tears.
Vos will immediately break the link himself and try to restrain the sorceress before she can do anything.
No. 808018 ID: d36af7

He's two and a half, maybe three times her weight, already has a grip on her face, and she doesn't seem to be particularly experienced at ground fighting, so knocking her down and sitting on her is easy enough. Then her fingers and toes extend black resinous talons. Only superficial scratches from her frantic flailing so far, but she's not calming down in any sort of a hurry, either.
No. 808023 ID: 1c693a

rolled 1, 2, 2 = 5

Vos tries to reassure Esmeraude that he has no intention of harming her. "But try to understand, Esmeraude, what it is like for people in village who knew nothing of war until you brought it to them. Oath of devotion would not allow me to sit idle."
No. 808029 ID: d36af7

Critical success. She's still struggling, but only to escape, not inflict injury. Her claws retract and disappear. She's sobbing and blubbering barely intelligible phrases with a wounded tongue, spraying spittle and blood, mostly about how unfair the whole situation is, punctuated with unflattering fragments of Eckton's military history.

Esmeraude no longer blames Vos personally for everything bad that just happened, and given another fifteen or twenty minutes to cool down, an hour at most, she'll be willing to work with him, at least on a temporary basis.
No. 808095 ID: 094652

Hore considers for a moment, then recommends that Davina open a portal as high as she can. Hore and the others could use their strongest powers as morse code, calling the ship and remaining Fire Hawks to keep moving. Of course, this wouldn't be the best option by far, but something to think about if they only have a minute left.

Hore opts to analyze the next gourd as Viste repairs it. There might be something her cybernetics can figure out as the gourd is returned to its original state.
No. 808115 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 2, 1 = 6

Vos will get off Esmeraude and help her up to a sitting position, apply more healing goo for that bleeding tongue, and then give her a little space while she recuperates. Clearing up that misunderstanding with her uncle and the bandit leader too, though I imagine she already figured that one out.

Roll is to keep watch.
No. 808130 ID: d36af7

>more healing goo
Vos is 3rd level now, and has an immediately relevant choice to make. What sort of additional boost is he going to specialize in infusing his goo with? All five will be available, but the other four are optional, and effectively transfer the patient's relevant problems to him rather than such issues being cured outright.

-Comfort (opposite of disgust/revulsion)
-Physical energy
-Tranquility (opposite of rage, despair, etc.)
No. 808137 ID: 3abd97

rolled 1, 1, 4 = 6

>recommends that Davina open a portal as high as she can
Since my range is limited by sight, "as high as she can" is probably not above the canopy, between the glare and the foliage. (I'd also have to burn my last spell slot to survive the fall, if I'm opening a door in the sky).

>Of course, this wouldn't be the best option by far, but something to think about if they only have a minute left.
Fair enough. A plasma signal skyward might be easier if we find a room with a break in the canopy.

>If you could get a message to the ship, they might be willing to leave on schedule and have Viste & friends catch up by way of portals along the coast road.
Viste might be able to send her flying familiar up and over the forest to carry a message, but that's a long way to send a bug alone, through potentially dangerous territory. We shouldn't assume the canopy is without dangers.

Another possible option: if the forest hasn't caused an additional spacial distortion, the boulder here was within teleport range of the beach. Forcing Viste out of phase might allow her to see through the wood currently blocking line of sight.

>what do
Well, since the advice on which way to go is damaged and a repair attempt failed, spot check? Anything notable, or any noticeable differences examining the 8 exits (6 archs, 2 bridge ends) to the room?

Although our best scouting option is probably if Ji takes an areal view.
No. 808156 ID: d36af7

Viste, peering into those shadowy archways, spots a lone soldier approaching through what she's fairly confident is the northernmost. The bandit's face is flushed, belly swollen, and he's staggering toward you with one hand outstretched, like a drunkard or someone delirious with fever who's begging for alms. He trips, crawls a bit further on hands and knees, whispers something, then vomits. Vivid green fiddlehead ferns grow out of the puke, as fast as the ashy extrusions of cheap fireworks.

A moment later, his shirt rips open, straight along the spine as bark-clad spider legs unfold messily through shoulderblades and kidneys. The top of his skull cracks apart like flower petals or insectile mandibles, with some tentacle-tongue of repurposed grey matter coiled inside, tense as a serpent about to strike.

>rolled 1, 1, 4 = 6
The man's last words were "the ninth gate is down." Associations which spring readily to mind are the Agate siblings' description of their goddess's prison-realm having nine layers, but with dozens of interconnecting gates, or alternatively Yisheng Ji's esoteric medical theories involving 'gates' or 'flowers' or 'wheels' of subtle energy within the body, although in that case they're numbered from bottom to top, and only go as far as seven, plus two similar-but-crucially-not-identical features in the hands, and the sequential numbering is definitely from bottom to top.
No. 808290 ID: 1c693a

Physical energy seems the most logical given Vos' deity. In this case he'll impart tranquility though to take Esmeraude's grief upon himself,
No. 808350 ID: d36af7

Esmeraude swishes Vos's goo around in her mouth, swallows, and cheers up almost instantly. Vos, meanwhile, is overwhelmed by the futility of trying to escape. Barely more than a month ago he was stuck in the Bloodmist Labyrinth, then he managed to get lost in perfectly normal woodlands, and now this! Might as well curl up and sleep until something comes by to eat him.

The sorceress asks what he's so upset about, but grabs his hand and starts dragging him off down the passage directly opposite the fungus wall without waiting for a response, saying they need to keep moving before the law catches up.
No. 808385 ID: 74621b

rolled 4, 6, 6 = 16

>arial scouting
>Viste have to burn her last spell slot to survive the fall, if she's opening a door in the sky
Couldn't she open a portal in the sky and take Yisheng Ji with her? He should be able to hold her aloft long enough to give her a good view as well.

Otherwise, sure. He'll scout alone.
No. 808388 ID: 3abd97

rolled 1, 4, 5 = 10

>Couldn't she open a portal in the sky and take Yisheng Ji with her? He should be able to hold her aloft long enough to give her a good view as well.
I'm not sure, actually. I didn't know if Ji's weightlessness could support another person in a glide. If he can, yeah, that would make a door to the sky much safer, and more useful.

The concerning thing isn't that we're facing a monster, or even that something transformed that unfortunate. It's that the transformation / incubation period is very short- no one has been in this forest for long.

>tense as a serpent about to strike
Well, if it's tensed to spring forward, lets not play to its expectations.

Lunge forward, portal behind it, and stab.

>"the ninth gate is down."
With the context provided, that makes it sound like the forest is split up into layers or planes, and we need to travel between them to get out. Could be the "folds" the written message refereed to.
No. 808397 ID: 74621b

rolled 2, 5, 3 = 10

>could Ji's weightlessness could support another person in a glide
I don't see why he wouldn't be able to. His ability clearly extends beyond his skin to some degree, or else he wouldn't be able to wear clothes or carry anything on his person without dropping like a stone.

Roll to survive aerial fumble.
No. 808408 ID: af6e04

Vos ignores his strange intuition to go LEFT from the fungus wall and despondently insists that Esmeraude navigate, lest they remain lost forever.
No. 808420 ID: 0ea11e

rolled 3, 1, 2 = 6

Hore keeps her pistol trained on the mutated soldier. Apparently, he's not moving, but Hore is worried that someone is going to get too close and that tongue will pull them in, injecting parasitic plant life with a single bite. Hore opts to charge a sniper shot for precision.

Hore also stands alert, paranoid about all the other infected that roam the concealing forest. Roll for perception.
No. 808426 ID: d36af7

Yisheng Ji glides off into the open space above and between the northwest and southwest root-arches, intending to scout out a path straight back toward the coast. He hops from branch to branch in a straight line for almost exactly half an hour, noting clear landmarks or cutting small runes into the trees where there are none.

>Lunge forward, portal behind it, and stab.
>rolled 1, 4, 5 = 10
The blood's like rancid chocolate milk, but it does bleed. Seems to have some capacity for pain and fear as well. That bark-y hide is about as tough as good heavy leather, or maybe substandard chainmail, and Viste runs through some messy trial and error to find the thing's vital organs. Other than that it's easy enough. Squad of guards who followed Maru try to help, but most of the action was over before they could even catch up.

Only salvageable equipment, apart from his boots, a thin silver band on his left ring finger, and a thick copper ring around the base of his right thumb, is an elaborately embroidered hip quiver. Looks like it should have space for twenty arrows, but it actually holds fifty, with room for ten more. Color-coded fletching distinguishes between broadheads (10), bodkin points (15), Y-shaped blades with integrated whistles for tearing bare flesh or signaling (7), blunt heads for stunning birds in flight without mangling them (15), and strangest of all, little glass balls filled with tar and flecks of some luminescent white crystalline material like stars in the night sky (3). The quiver has two other compartments. One is only half-full holding a longbow, a spear with a good steel point, and a 6' long walking-stick or tent pole. The last compartment is packed with links of dried pork sausage (softer and fattier than jerky but more or less equally suitable as trail rations) totaling fifteen pounds, along with three loaves of bread each about four feet long but less than two inches wide. With all that inside, the quiver weighs only two pounds.

Twenty minutes after the fight (nine hours, eight minutes to rendezvous/departure deadline) Yishemg Ji is surprised and disappointed to discover that he's somehow circled around to emerge from the east side of the clearing.

Persuading the last scion of Netseth to change course isn't inherently difficult at the moment, but with the emotional penalty in place, no hard evidence or argument beyond a vague hunch, and the risks if you take too long and thereby proceed into uncharted territory, it is non-trivial enough to require a roll.
No. 808481 ID: 3abd97

>Ji attempts to scout ahead in a straight line and loops around the other side of the clearing
That would seem to support the idea that the dungeon is warped into layers connected by gates, or that Ji's senses were somehow deceived.

>bark spider slain
Viste places her sword tip on her slain opponent, in a gesture oddly reminiscent of a knighting. A flicker and a flourish later, and a glowing mark remains on the corpse.

(Tagged kill with Arcane Mark. Been waiting for a chance to start going Mark of Zorro on things for a while now).

>quiver of holding
>several types of arrows, bow, spear, walking stick, and a bunch of food for under two pounds
Nice! Totally not touching that though.

Viste warns her companions against carrying the enchanted object through one of her portals. Such devices have been known to react... explosively in the past.

Still, too useful a find to simply leave behind, or destroy by test-throwing it at a portal. (Viste can't safely handle it, Hore already has a ranged weapon. Between Maru and Ji, I'm thinking Ji benefits more from gaining the option to fire arrows from above? Unless one of the npc guards has training with a longbow).

>planning next more
We haven't found any significant clues trying to decode the riddle, visually examining the exits, or attempting an aerial scout. I think at this point we may just have to pick an arch and attempt to travel west to the coast. (Any objections, or better ideas?).
No. 808489 ID: 95d14e

Maru is going to start making some headway on that jerky and ask Ji if he wants to grab any of the weapons. Davina is fully equipped, as is Hore with her ax and pistol. She's not sure whether Ji prefers arrows or a quarterstaff style weapon. She has enough experience with a bow to shoot straight but she prefers to brawl more than the careful consideration involved in archery so Ji welcome to have first pick and she'll pick up anything left over.

She then takes a thoughtful moment and pulls a half chewed piece of jerky out of her mouth and holds it up. Since she's offering first dibs and all.

Also nice work dealing with whatever the fuck that was. Cheers to you. Half a nervous smile emerges as they kick around the loot and wait for more death spiders to knock on their non-existent doors
No. 808507 ID: d36af7

>destroy by test-throwing it at a portal
In many previous experiments and mishaps, even with cheap useless 'proof of concept' trinkets specifically optimized for fragility, a solitary item has never been known to cause damage to itself as a direct result of interaction with Viste's portals. On one occasion when some servant tried to carry a bag of holding in each hand, the first was fine (apart from smelling like the alley behind a butcher's shop no matter how thoroughly it was washed) while the second ruptured upon approaching within four feet of the portal, apparently when fringe effects from the first one reached it. Usually the "ghostly razor wire" only extends a handspan or so, almost never more than six or eight inches.

So, might be safe to toss it through, but also reasonable not to want to take chances. Good news is,
>too useful a find to simply leave behind,
Thanks to deputized black market exploration, Viste happens to know someone who'd gladly pay thirty pounds of gold ($600,000) for such an item, with no questions about where you 'found' it. Might even be talked into paying more, for one that's particularly well maintained. If you all makes it out alive, and back to Passholdt with that item in hand, this visit to Eckton just paid for itself, with enough left over to reincarnate MSgt. Oldaric in a full size body and then keep the lights on at the Fire Hawks chapterhouse for at least six more months.

>the NPC guards
Inspector Trihs, squad leader, says most of them have at least a week or two of archery practice, but that's with shortbows. Bigger problem is, halberd and bow are both two-handed weapons, so wielding one means you need somewhere to put the other, and you can't store a halberd in that quiver. Looks like it's working right up until the blade gets caught on the lip, then it spits the whole haft right back out. Could just leave your halberd leaning against a wall, but in a place like this that's asking for trouble.

As for asset review, they've got lamellar armor made from mostly chitin, with bronze bits over the vitals or wherever a scale wore thin, steel-reinforced turtle shells for helmets, some basic first aid supplies, a scattering of protective charms and amulets (which can't be definitively confirmed as having any actual magical effect), and... not much else. They weren't exactly packed for an expedition.

>pick an arch
>roll for perception
>rolled 3, 1, 2 = 6
The northern arch, which that infected bandit came out of, has a sulfurous steamy sort of smell, like a hot spring half clogged with mud.

She's not here. Maru figures she probably stayed on the ship, if she didn't somehow manage to sneak off for another 'emergency budget meeting' with Acolyte Galanodel way back in Passholdt.

Oop, looks like I misread this one. About half an hour later, Vos is adequately calm and lucid again, and Esmeraude wants his advice. They're in a 40' wide circular room shaped like a half a bagel, flat side being the floor. The dirt is not packed hard; in fact, it's so loose and soft as to be mistaken for knee-deep snow, apart from being warm and black. Roof and central pillar are held together by tangled pale tendrils, flat like the root-ball of some medicinal herb grown in a flower pot that was slightly too small. There are three doors other than the way you came in, thick slabs of bubbly blue glass. She can't figure out how to get any of them open.
No. 808508 ID: 094652

Hore will take the spear to replace her old one, which was broken in the labyrinth and low-grade anyway. She might not be as proficient in spearwork, but there are areas where an ax simply won't fit, and a spear can quickly stab through/from cover. Also, the roadside inns will allow patrons to bring covered spears into the house, but an ax is too much.

Hore eyes the rations. After what happened to Rainbow Ferns over there, she's not eating a single leaf from this forest.
No. 808547 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 3, 6 = 13

Well, let's see if the flesh blessing works on plants too. Trying to mutate the closest door to give it some sort of opening.
No. 808600 ID: 3abd97

>If you all makes it out alive, and back to Passholdt with that item in hand, this visit to Eckton just paid for itself, with enough left over to reincarnate MSgt. Oldaric in a full size body and then keep the lights on at the Fire Hawks chapterhouse for at least six more months.
Very nice indeed.

>The northern arch, which that infected bandit came out of, has a sulfurous steamy sort of smell, like a hot spring half clogged with mud.
This just seems like further reason not to take that path. Something that can rapidly infect and transform people, plus suggestions of an environment suited for stealth and ambush by the unknown infector.

If Ekton was to the west of our position, Viste is of the opinion we should try exploring the NW or SW arches. (Presuming then that arches around the hexegon are N, NE, SE, S, SW, NW? At least, as far as we can tell the cardinal directions in here).

The damaged engraving did indicate that one path out of this room (though not which one) is only one "fold" away from the exit. Which does give us one useful constraint. In theory, we're only two degrees of separation away from the exit at our current location- if we travel further than that down any path we can double back and try another. (In practice, this will be a little messy since we don't have a more concrete measure of distance, but it's better than nothing).

Should probably follow Ji's earlier example and mark our passage as we go.
No. 808691 ID: 74621b

rolled 1, 4, 1 = 6

>straight lines loop around
Sounds like there's either an illusion causing one's path to deviate subconsciously, very subtle teleportation wards redirecting movement, or we're in a non-euclidean pocket realm that truly is only 20 minutes in diameter at this segment. Regardless, it is another labyrinth which cannot be escaped via normal means, and should be treated with the standard fearful reverence and paranoia due to any such installation.

>bow and quiver should go to Yisheng Ji
I suppose. I don't know how useful they'll be in his hands, but he'll take them if everyone else insists.

>repeatedly scouting and doubling back
Yisheng Ji volunteers for such duties, as it is significantly less strenuous for him to cross longer distances and the others will need to conserve their energy to fight any enemies which appear. He will go whichever way Viste orders him.
No. 808757 ID: d22dc0

>Armor and other loot is still up for grabs.
Well, Maru isn't sure what to do with a ten foot pole- especially when you don't have somewhere to keep it. Might be useful for Ji in his scouting though- good for poking suspicious corpses before they turn into more bark spiders and such. Maru was never really one to wear much in the way of armor, but Hore could probably replace her damage armor with the bits laying around. Maru will take claim to the leftover first air supplies and the misc charms and trinkets, putting on whatever fits and stowing the rest away in her cloths. Feels good to do some looting again, she was kinda upset about not getting to scratch that itch much in bee-fuck central before.

>Viste happens to know someone who'd gladly pay thirty pounds of gold ($600,000) for such an item
>I don't know how useful they'll be in his hands

Less about combat use, more about who's the best candidate for ensure the safe return of the very valuable new toy they have. Upon appraisal, Maru insists he hold on to it, at least instead of her. Hore's reckless and flammable, Davina is going to be on the front lines portalling around, stabbing things and such, and Maru doesn't want to risk anything happening to it on her watch; she's seen how the this company keeps their grudges, and she can't afford 30 pounds of gold worth of anger directed at her if anything goes wrong. Plus, Ji is just kinda the right pick if they wanna keep something safe. Reserved, measured, always calculated and never off balance; almost the exact opposite of Maru, and no fun at parties, but pretty much the definition of "rooster for the job" in this case.

>Yisheng Ji volunteers for such duties
Good luck and good man. Or demi-god, as it were. Takes guts to volunteer to scout alone in the labyrinthine death jungle, even if your dad is the reason the sun rises or what have you. Or was that that goblin lady they ran into by the water wheel? She's never been good with getting the whole organized religion thing.
No. 809013 ID: d36af7

The slab of lifeless glass is impervious to mutation. Tittivila's energies flow across it, into the walls and ceiling, where rootlets crackle and spark. Loose soil begins to rise from the floor in strange whorls and arcs. A glowing rune, which Vos recognizes as Viste's signature mark, appears in midair right where the door would be if the open archway he and Esmeraude arrived through were also closed, and wind begins to whistle through that same opening.

> (Presuming then that arches around the hexegon are N, NE, SE, S, SW, NW? At least, as far as we can tell the cardinal directions in here).
Yes. Viste's main directional reference is the asymmetries of that boulder she was falling off of on arrival. She had opportunity and cause to carefully examine it's exact shape, and orientation relative to Eckton's walls, before and during that duel with the bandit leader. It doesn't seem to have changed, and hopefully someone would notice in the unlikely event that a force came along sufficient to relocate it.

>how useful they'll be in his hands
With fowling arrows he might be able to deliver disabling pressure-point strikes at range.

>replace her damage armor with the bits laying around. Maru will take claim to the leftover first air supplies and the misc charms and trinkets,
You seem to have confused equipment the allied town guards are still wearing with salvage from the dead bandit. There's no armor, charms, clean bandages, salves, or dubiously magical trinkets 'up for grabs.' If Yisheng Ji takes the expanded quiver, the only loot left is those two rings, a pair of boots, and some filthy ruined clothes.

So, are you going northwest, or southwest? Viste thinks northerly is a bit closer to the right angle back toward where she remembers the town gate being, but Yisheng Ji thinks he can hear birdsong through the southwest arch.

As a third option, Maru and the guards all definitely arrived through that knothole passage connected to the bridge, and they clearly remember charging out the front gate and then straight ahead to get there, though the ground was shifting under their feet. Hore seems to have come from more or less the same direction. The tree trunk in question is south-southeast relative to the big rock, and the packed-earth tunnel which was (last you checked) blocked by some sort of fungal mass is north-northwest. The fungus expanded rapidly when exposed to extreme heat, but nobody's tried cutting it yet.
No. 809016 ID: 85198d

rolled 2, 5, 1 = 8

Oh. Bubbled glass makes much more sense than bubbled grass, which is how I originally read that.

>Viste's Mark
Vos gurgles excitedly and explains that the mark belongs to a friend who will help the two find a way out. He'll try to touch the symbol, making praises to Tittivila, and quickly go slithering down the marked path (making sure Esmeraude is close behind) if physical interaction doesn't produce any interesting results.
No. 809027 ID: d36af7

The symbol is intangible, a simple illusion projected on the air. Esmeraude briefly protests that that's the way you both came from, and the other doors have symbols now too (similar but not identical) but her rant is interrupted when the whistling wind coheres into a staccato shriek, timbre somewhere between the honking of geese and the wailing of the damned, pulsing at precise half-second intervals, overlaid with a deep melodious voice chanting in High Draconic.

Esmeraude closes her eyes and bites her lower lip to concentrate on translation. "Tertiary lightning safety door is... audited? Lazy? Something bad. Usually I'd only hear that word when I made a mistake in ballet practice, or when mom was yelling at a bookkeeper. Anyway, something's still open, but it's supposed to be closed by now. Everyone who doesn't know how to fix that needs to leave, quick, or at least get out of the way of the ones who do. After that it just repeats."

She silently considers the meaning of what she just said for about three heartbeats before running on ahead of Vos, back the way they came. The tunnel is about ten yards long, followed by an odd little S-curve seemingly with no purpose beyond blocking line of sight, then ten more yards before emerging into an open area.

There's a rural cottage, the sort of place where a ranger or charcoal-burner might live, ringed by a 20' high wall of dense thorns with two other visible exits (apart from the tunnel you just arrived through, and sky-like ceiling), both more or less directly opposite.

Just outside the front door of the cottage is a family of elvenoids huddled together. Three adults, two children. Knee-high cabbages grow in the nearby garden. Esmeraude waves dismissively at the charred corpses, mumbling "don't worry, they were like that before I even got here," and turns back to the far exits. "I'm pretty sure we originally came through, um, one of these two."
No. 809255 ID: af6e04

rolled 5, 4, 2 = 11

>"Everyone who doesn't know how to fix that needs to leave, quick"
"Well, leaving quick sounds like good plan to me."

>Charred corpses
Vos briefly considers stopping to perform a funeral ceremony, but his friends need him and there's no way he can eat all these corpses in time even with Esmeraude's help. Might be a good idea to (very quickly) look for clues as to what exactly happened to them though.

>"I'm pretty sure we originally came through, um, one of these two."
"You were supposed to navigate, Esmeraude. You are almost as poor at it as I am!" Vos looks for his signature slither marks.
No. 809257 ID: 3abd97

>3 likely paths (down from 8)
Okay so:
1) NW, for being possibly pointed most closely in the right direction
2) SW, for still being pointed in a promising direction, plus birdsong
3) SSE back the way Maru, Hore, and the guards came from, which hopefully still connects to the front gate.

In those terms, I feel like option 3 is a good first candidate to check?

>I suppose. I don't know how useful they'll be in his hands, but he'll take them if everyone else insists.
If you're operating off ground level (this environment is a playground with Ji's ability) and scouting around too, you're also barely impacted in terms of mobility by being temporarily unable to safely use portals (without dropping the quiver). The group's average speed is higher with it trusted to Ji than any of the ground-pounders.
No. 809281 ID: d36af7

>look for clues as to what exactly happened to them
>rolled 5, 4, 2 = 11
Roughly triangular or paraboloid section of grass is also burnt. Scorch marks on the front wall of the cabin. Looks like somebody hit them with a cone of magical fire, most likely a breath weapon. Door is also blackened on the front, but sitting open, with a busted lock, and the floor inside is undamaged, so possibly the assailant kicked it down afterwards in order to ransack the inside of the house.

>"You were supposed to navigate, Esmeraude. You are almost as poor at it as I am!"
She pouts and grumbles that she wasn't expecting to turn back, and it's not her fault you were being all sad and dumb and not paying attention here either. Anyhow, isn't either path good enough for getting away?
>Vos looks for his signature slither marks.
>rolled 5, 4, 2 = 11
Drag marks in the grass from, or possibly to, both doors. None of Esmeraude's footprints near either, nor the usual swishing zigzag signature of Vos's slithering movement. Two sets of large dog paw prints coming out of the left-side tunnel, one heavier and closer together, both leading in to the house's open door.
No. 809283 ID: 49c9d4

rolled 2, 4, 4 = 10

If only Eric were here, his zombies could walk right into the minefields for the party...

Hore stands next to Ji and closes her eyes, attempting to scan using her cybernetics and natural senses to determine where the loudest things in the forest are bellowing. Hopefully Ji can use some of his monk arts to boost her perceptive abilities...
No. 809327 ID: d36af7

Hore confirms the sound that Ji heard, but is less certain it's actually birdsong. Seems to be a strong and irregular magnetic field coming from that same direction. Her database says it might be a fusion reactor with a damaged containment torus, in which case she's probably just outside minimum safe distance for the worst-case "spontaneous energetic disassembly."
No. 809396 ID: fc3fc0

rolled 1, 6, 3 = 10

>Davina isn't here, and general confusion over where we are and what's going on due to a lack of proper reading

Maru takes a second handful of jerky and bread, takes a seat by the boulder, and has a snack while she takes a moment to clear her head. For some reason she was unsettlingly dizzy and confused for a good few seconds there. Chock it up to nerves and bad vibes.

She takes the rings and, lacking a chain to put them on, pockets them for future evaluation. She figures taking the walking stick won't hurt, even though she's not gonna fight with it, they can sweep the path ahead and such. With everyone just standing around, she decides it's best to just pick a direction since no one seems to have a better idea. Viste seems to favor the gate Maru and the guards came through, so she gives a rousing call to everyone and gets down to sorting out a marching order, getting the names of their new companions, and hearing complaints before they move out. Her current suggestion, provided they can walk three abreast:

Hore , Guard, Maru

Guard, Guard, Guard

Guard, Ji , Guard

Guard, Guard, Guard,

Guard, Viste

Maru's reasoning is that she, Hore, and the guards are all equipped with weapons that work in short-melee range, and Hore's "scanners" might pick up magical dangers ahead. Ji, being the doctor with the valuable goods is the most protected in the center of the formation, and Viste can quickly jump between the front or back, so it's best to have her as a rear guard. She's also thus far shown to be one of the most competent swordsman in the local area, so it's comforting to have her watching one of the flanks should they get assaulted from the rear by more plant creatures.

Maru also wants to get a quick assessment on the moods of the guards, so while they're arranging the marching order and portalling up, she'll insist that everyone interested share some bread and jerky. No better way to get to know someone than to break bread with them after being rescued from dire straights.

She's particularly interested in assessing how likely they are to panic or break, and how angry they are at the bandits in case they meet up with any stragglers who want to set aside bloodshed and work together to survive.
No. 809417 ID: 3abd97

I think Ji's better off exploiting the third dimension with stuff to perch on everywhere in a forest than stuck in the middle of the formation. (And he already rolled to scout anyways). He's really mobile here, and having him in the air gives him better sight lines, scouting, and the ability to attack from above if he ever opts to try his hand at the bow.

Depending on the exact terrain we find, we may want Viste at the front to allow the ground-based group to quickly cut across terrain (opening a portal all the way down a hall, or to the other side of a room, instead of walking).
No. 809445 ID: af6e04

rolled 5, 5, 2 = 12

>Anyhow, isn't either path good enough for getting away?
She raises a good point, we don't know if we are actually supposed to be backtracking any further than this room or if we're supposed to take a different path from this point.

So this is interesting. The family was dead when we first passed through here. No sign of Vos' slither marks. If whatever left the paw prints also killed the family, they had to have passed through here before we even arrived and thus couldn't have stamped out our tracks. Vos will ask Esmeraude if she remembers seeing the paw prints when we first entered this room.

Might be a good idea to very quickly check out the house for any standout clues before moving on. Vos will tell Esmeraude to stay behind him.
No. 809452 ID: af6e04

Actually, I'll try asking Tittivila for directions again first.
No. 809485 ID: d36af7

The wooden tunnel connected to the bridge curves gently to the left for about twenty yards (far beyond apparent thickness of the surrounding tree), at the end of which there's a sort of six-way intersection: the narrow single-file tunnel you're in meets a big 12' diameter tunnel, then both of them cross a yawning 40' wide chasm by way of a massive fallen log, and go their separate ways on the far side. Well, not a fallen log exactly, maybe more like a splinter which came loose in the course of some titanic axe splitting mountain-sized trees for kindling. There's natural light comparable to a full-moon night coming up from below, but the top of the chasm is dark, and something's moving around up there with soft furtive rustling noises.

Nine hours and one minute 'til the tide turns. Planning to cross the bridge, or check out the wide tunnel on the near side (to the right, with it's floor about 3' lower, just enough overlap to form a lopsided 'binoculars cutout' shape), or what? Chasm walls are rough broken wood, so they should be easy enough to climb, at least for anyone with heavy gloves to protect against the sharp edges.

>asking Tittivila for directions
>rolled 5, 5, 2 = 12
Vos's patron deity thanks him for his devotion and good works, but suggests that maybe the next shrine he establishes should be somewhere likely to benefit from a bit more casual foot traffic. Rather than delivering a mass of transcendent wisdom relevant to the issue at hand, Tittivila simply rummages through and lightly annotates his own existing memories.

He and Esmeraude originally came through the tunnel on the right, but down the left path there's some sort of devil dog which must be slain, so saith the goddess.

It's conceivable Esmeraude is lying about the bodies being charred before she got here. Red dragons are well known to breathe fire, and many dynastic sorcerers can emulate the powers of their most significant ancestor. She certainly doesn't seem very upset about it, compared to how emotional she's been over some other things.
No. 809542 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 2, 6 = 12

>a bit more casual foot traffic
Vos thanks Tittivila and promises to do better next time.

>down the left path there's some sort of devil dog which must be slain
The path is clear then. Vos tells Esmeraude that they are in for a fight and to be careful, and slithers down the left path.

>Esmeraude might be lying
The thought had certainly occurred to Vos, but there's really no way of knowing. The two are inside of a giant dangerous dungeon that popped up out of nowhere, which adds a lot more possibilities to the equation. Also, Vos is having trouble picturing the formerly blubbering, pouting girl murdering a family of innocents at this moment.
No. 809687 ID: 3abd97
File 149810603681.png - (31.44KB , 400x417 , Quick chasm map.png )

rolled 4, 6, 2 = 12

>The wooden tunnel connected to the bridge curves gently to the left for about twenty yards (far beyond apparent thickness of the surrounding tree)
That seems pretty solid confirmation of the suspected spacial distortion.

Crude map of the room, not to scale (or attempting to get angles right). 6 Exits: skinny tunnel near (where we entered), skinny tunnel far, wide tunnel near, wide tunnel far, chasm left, chasm right.

>Well, not a fallen log exactly, maybe more like a splinter which came loose
>[Hore] runs along falling stalks of wheat as thick as redwood trees
I wonder if maybe the bridge is one Hore's been across before?

>what do
Roll for spot, I guess. Let's see if anything stands out that helps us pick a path, or shows someone went this way before.
No. 809694 ID: 9c5569

rolled 3, 3, 3 = 9

Hore tries to recall what path she took.
No. 809723 ID: d36af7

Even in bad light, muddy bootprints stand out clear enough on pale broken wood. Maru and the guards definitely came across the bridge. Hard to say which tunnel on the far side they came from without lighting up a torch (or magical equivalent, such as the low-power settings on Hore's plasma pistol) which might disturb the giant bats or piles of dry autumn leaves or whatever it is lurking up in the shadows at the top of the chasm.

She remembers running down a slope that got steadily steeper without curving, and shooting the base of a pillar to make it fall over as a bridge up to the ceiling. This could be that same spot. Certainly smells the same, apart from the charcoal smell being slightly less fresh.

Through the left side and past a curtain of spanish moss, there's another room enclosed by dense thorn-hedges. It's only about ten yards square, with an open-topped stone well in the center and another archway exit at the far side.

A large black dog, with bony ridges down it's back and a stink like rotten eggs, is holding a burlap sack in it's mouth. Esmeraude says the sack has something magical inside, just loud enough to catch the dog's attention. It turns, very deliberately tosses the sack down the well, and then growls at Vos, articulating one of the few goblin-tongue words he knows: a challenge to single combat without weapons or armor.

>rolled 4, 2, 6 = 12
Those scratches Esmeraude left with her magically enhanced finger- and toenails are feeling increasingly itchy. Surrounding skin is a little bit swollen and discolored, too.
No. 809733 ID: 6484b3

rolled 3, 4, 5 = 12

>a challenge to single combat without weapons or armor.
Vos bares the ghastly inside of his gaping eelmouth and accepts the challenge. Tossing his spear aside and stripping down, Vos stands tense and ready, waiting for the devil dog to move in close so he can grab it.
No. 809745 ID: 3f3105

rolled 6, 6, 6 = 18

Hore considers scanning the area, but thinks against it. The beasts above might be attracted by her scanning methods.

Hore sniffs out, but recommends the others start tracking. Who knows what has been done to scent in here...
No. 809757 ID: d36af7

Vos's opponent laughs like a hyena as he strips down, then vomits some sort of gelatinous tar rather than closing in to bite as expected.
>rolled 3, 4, 5 = 12
Decaro Vos is now on fire.

Esmeraude jumps weightlessly over both of them and dives feet-first down the well, intent on retrieving whatever she sensed in that bag.

The bridge shifts slightly and a loose portion crumbles away as Hore is sniffing around, sending her tumbling off the edge into the abyss. Thirty-seven seconds later she comes plummeting past again at terminal velocity, close enough for someone to reach out and touch.

Eight hours, fifty-nine minutes 'til the tide turns.
No. 809769 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 4, 3 = 10

Oldest trick in the book, Vos does not think because he's busy screaming.

If it's some kind of fire hound then grappling is probably out of the question. Should have known, there's no way to hurt this thing unarmed.

Well, Tittivila isn't necessarily a goddess of honor. Vos picks up the spear and throws it.
No. 809781 ID: 3abd97

rolled 5, 6, 2 = 13

>Maru and the guards definitely came across the bridge
>Could be Hore too
Well that bodes well. If the dungeon didn't move the path or the entrance as it formed, we seem to be on the right path, so far.

>hard to see the tunnels on the other side from here without lighting them up
Is the light good enough to portal over to the far tunnels without physically walking across the bridge?

>Hore in a terminal velocity loop
Well that definitively confirms spacial shenanigans.

Hmm. If we approximate a falling cyber-gnoll as a human skydiver, that puts her speed somewhere around 122 mph. (Although she's probably falling a little faster? I'd expect a gnoll to be denser than a human, and then there's the cybernetics on top of that).

>Thirty-seven seconds later
Which, as a rough estimate, puts the total vertical loop somewhere around a mile to a mile and a quarter long.

>what do
Viste flickers momentarily in response to Hore's fall. On Hore's next pass, Viste will try to hit the canine with Feather Fall. (Not going to grab her though).

>Well, Tittivila isn't necessarily a goddess of honor. Vos picks up the spear and throws it.
If she were around to do so, Vos' friend would approve.
No. 809828 ID: d36af7

>Is the light good enough to portal over to the far tunnels without physically walking across the bridge?
Yep. Similar to that situation with the deepest shaft on the way out of the Bloodmist Labyrinth, light from below means it's easy to get a visual fix on the ceiling, but something unpleasant might be waiting on the floor.

>Feather Fall
With velocity mostly negated, two of the guards catch Hore and pull her in for a safe landing using the hooked side of their halberds.

The devil dog dodges, bounding side to side and barking "Cheater! Coward!" A thrown spear draws lurid orange blood from it's right rear leg, but glances off rather than penetrating more deeply and flies onward to become entangled in thorns on the far side of the room.

Decaro Vos is still on fire, starting to feel overheated and dehydrated.
No. 809846 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 5, 5 = 16

Seeing the dog is injured, Vos lunges forward and reaches out to slap it with a baleful mutation right in the face. Bubbled over eyes, tentacles coming out of the ears, lobster claw replacing the nose, anything that'll cause sensory issues.
No. 809874 ID: d36af7

>baleful mutation right in the face
>anything that'll cause sensory issues.
>rolled 6, 5, 5 = 16
Non-critical failure. Half-blinded by pain, Vos's grasping claw falls short of his intended target. He falls on his own face, accidentally delivering Tittivila's blessing to the grassy ground, which helpfully encloses him in a cocoon of damp seaweed. Vos is no longer on fire, and his wounds are being treated.

The devil dog laughs a while longer, steals Vos's chainmail shirt for it's own use, and eventually wanders off.
No. 809880 ID: af6e04

rolled 1, 5, 4 = 10

No time to nap now. Vos rips himself free of the seaweed and painfully slithers over to the well to check on Esmeraude.
No. 809887 ID: d36af7

>rips himself free of the seaweed
It clings to his charred skin like gummy green adhesive bandages, but doesn't impede movement as much as brass balm. Vos now has a sufficient range of experiences to justify points in the Connoisseur (emergency medicine) skill, which is unlikely to be of much use beyond making conversation with jaded aesthetes who suffer severe injuries on a regular basis.

>painfully slithers over to the well to check on Esmeraude
On closer inspection, it's less of a well, more of a slanted chute. There's a hatch on the left wall, about halfway down. The sorceress is at the chute's terminus, a hundred feet away, and has just retrieved her prize from among a heap of compost. "Aw, man! It's just a freakin' paintbrush?" she moans.

The brush leaps from her hand and delicately inscribes "O man, it is just a freaking paint brush?" on a polished section of the stone wall in vivid green ink. Esmeraude's eyes light up enough for Vos to see this all the way from the top. She clutches her hands to her chest, drools slightly, and squeaks "That is so cool." The brush dutifully adds her comment to the record.
No. 809922 ID: 85198d

rolled 6, 5, 5 = 16

Too steep to climb back out, I assume?

>"That is so cool."
Vos lets out a guttural sigh. "I will look for rope."

Checking the house or just looking for a sturdy vine.
No. 809970 ID: d36af7

>Vos lets out a guttural sigh.
Flesh around his inner jaws feels like he's been gargling sandpaper. The bee larvae in his pouch seem to be growing, and their writhing movements are making him mildly nauseous.

>"I will look for rope." Checking the house or just looking for a sturdy vine.
>rolled 6, 5, 5 = 16
No rope-like items of sufficient length are readily available. Vos crawls around in the abandoned/depopulated cottage, opening containers at random, hampered by feverish brain-fog to the point that he struggles to identify some common tools and furnishings at a glance. There was some reason he needed to flee this place, but he can't quite...

Esmeraude sneaks up, taps his shoulder just hard enough to derail that train of thought, and cheerfully asks what he needed rope for.
>Too steep to climb back out, I assume?
Apparently not for someone with a flight spell.
No. 810079 ID: af6e04

rolled 5, 1, 2 = 8

Vos ignores her question. "Esmeraude, answer me truthfully and I will not be angry. Did you poison me with your magic claws?" Vos takes a long drink from his water jug and applies some healing goo to himself to fix what he can.
No. 810087 ID: d36af7

>Did you poison me with your magic claws?
She clams to have never knowingly used poison or disease as weapons, nor sabotaged sanitation infrastructure, or anything else of the sort. Seems to be sincerely offended and disgusted at the very idea. Arson's only tolerable in a military context because everyone can tell when it's over.

Wounds might have gotten infected on their own, though. It could happen to anybody, particularly in a jungle or swamp. As a 3rd level paladin with the martyr archetype, Vos's 7-yard radius aura grants allies within it (including himself) a bonus to resist disease as long as he's conscious, but no total immunity. She's never seen infection proceed quite that fast, but then again she's also never seen a forest erupt like a volcano.

>water jug
It's packed full of spongy seaweed. Vos only manages to extract about half a mouthful of drinkable water.

>healing goo
Wounds close, swelling is reduced, throat feels slightly better, larvae settle down. Itchiness and nausea remain.
No. 810126 ID: 3abd97

rolled 6, 5, 6 = 17

>With velocity mostly negated, two of the guards catch Hore and pull her in for a safe landing using the hooked side of their halberds.
"Exercise caution, please. I cannot do that again, today."

>Similar to that situation with the deepest shaft on the way out of the Bloodmist Labyrinth, light from below means it's easy to get a visual fix on the ceiling, but something unpleasant might be waiting on the floor.
Let's conjure a dancing light and send it across to the other side, then.

If the other side looks clear, Viste will open a portal.
No. 810143 ID: 185fd2

rolled 5, 6, 2 = 13

Vos will look for some more damp sea weed or tree sap or anything that he can slather on to make himself less flammable. He'll also ask Esmeraude if she has a spell that protects from fire.

Retrieving his spear and folding away his cloak, he will start following the devil dog's blood trail.
No. 810146 ID: 185fd2

Or mud. Mud seems like a much better idea.
No. 810171 ID: d36af7

>conjure a dancing light and send it across to the other side,
>If the other side looks clear, Viste will open a portal.
>rolled 6, 5, 6 = 17
Portal opens, but rather than successfully stepping through, Viste is immediately struck in the chest with what seems to be an enormous spring-loaded battering ram, while the near end of the bridge creaks and falls out from under her feet. The ram withdraws just as the far end of the bridge also fails, and she's left standing precariously on the semisolid edge of the portal itself, with nothing but open air and bottomless pit out to four feet behind her or forty feet in front.

>a spell that protects from fire
Yeah, but she's a bit out of practice with that one. Ever since she started painting her nose, people hardly ever try to burn her alive.

Vos has been warded with fire resistance. While sufficient for most mundane purposes, due caution should still be exercised around high-circle magic or large quantities of molten metal. The spell also provides no protection against smoke or toxic gasses, which are actually the more immediate threat in most burning buildings or volcanoes.

>blood trail
None visible on the grass. Thin streak of that same lurid orange leads down the chute to the hatch, punctuated by some goblinese runes, then the words "cheater," "coward," and "omphalos" in humish.

Hatch is only about three feet square, composed of green shoots tangled together somewhere between 'watertight' wicker baskets, macrame, and rod-logic clockworks. There's a wooden wheel which seems to be stuck, refusing to rotate either way by more than an eighth of a turn, and a three-by-four grid of tiny delicate flowers.

Esmeraude probes one of the flowers with a wisp of magical energy, and it shifts from a pale pink blossom resembling the alchemical symbol for mercury, into a lavender bud resembling a rabbit's head in profile, facing to the left. She squints and bites her lower lip, pondering, and eventually says "I think that means it'll open if I do...this."

Then she kicks the wheel with her bare foot, hard enough to blow the whole hatch off it's hinges.

Beyond the hatch, there's a much wider passage, about the right size for cargo wagons to pass single file. If those parallel tracks in the floor are anything to go go by, it's actually be used for such. The walls are mostly off-white plaster, in between rough wooden beams weeping thick sticky golden-brown sap. Living branches sprout from the beams and form a dense canopy about 12' up. There's flickering lantern-light from somewhere above the canopy.

Paw-prints lead straight ahead, to a bubbling 40' by 60' mud pit where the ceiling is between twice and three times as high. There are a few irregular stone platforms, the nearest of which has a spatter of orange blood on it. A pair of deliquescent horses are still harnessed to an overturned wagon near the center of the room. Two other obvious exits, one twenty yards away at the far end, the other halfway between on the right wall, both similar to the way you came in. No active threats visible, but the devil dog could easily be hiding in or behind that wagon.
No. 810186 ID: 3abd97

>The ram withdraws just as the far end of the bridge also fails, and she's left standing precariously on the semisolid edge of the portal itself, with nothing but open air and bottomless pit out to four feet behind her or forty feet in front.
If I opened a portal 4 feet out onto the (now fallen) bridge, there would be open air for 40' in front of the portal, and 4 behind. But if Viste is standing on/in the portal itself, halfway through it, isn't the ground underneath / in front of the far end of the portal directly in front of Viste from her perspective?
No. 810194 ID: d36af7

Entry wound of the portal is 4' away from solid ground and allies. Exit wound is approximately 36' forward and 8' down, flush with the opposite wall, just below and facing away from the passage Viste was intending to reach. "Battering ram" was the bridge, after she accidentally sheared through it's attachment point.
No. 810200 ID: 74621b

rolled 1, 6, 5 = 12

>Viste is struck by a surprise attack and is left standing precariously on the semisolid edge of the portal itself
Yisheng Ji immediately lassos and pulls her back with a ghost whip, ensuring a solid grip on her whether she's flickering or not.
No. 810601 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 5, 1 = 10

>"cheater," "coward," and "omphalos" in humish.
"Esmeraude, does this last word mean anything to you?"

>Ever since she started painting her nose, people hardly ever try to burn her alive.
Despite her nonchalance when explaining this, Vos rests his lower jaw on Esmeraude's shoulder in a show of empathy. He vows that whatever happens when the two escape this place, he won't allow some torch bearing mob to lay hands on the young girl.

>Living branches sprout from the beams and form a dense canopy about 12' up. There's flickering lantern-light from somewhere above the canopy.
Before making it through this pathway, Vos will raise up on his tail and try to see where this lantern light is coming from. Seems like a strange feature for a forest dungeon.

>bubbling mud
Vos will find a tree branch to stick into the mud to see how dangerous it is.
No. 810640 ID: d10e29

rolled 5, 2, 6 = 13

Maru turns after chatting with guards, learning everyone's names, and ruminating over which side they came from, just in time to see Hore fall. After the combined teamwork of Viste and the town guards, Maru she then is left astounded as the otherworldly fencer portals into the makeshift bridge, rather than across it. That fight with the captain must have really done a number on her, or this ledge is just unnaturally dangerous. Knowing Ji will likely not react well if Maru invades his personal space at this, or really any moment in time, she elects to try to get everyone else away from the ledge, to prevent further problems and ensure no one is standing in the way of Viste getting back on solid ground or further complicating matters. Rolling to help in a way that doesn't involve grabbing Ji, and standing by to catch or help pull up Viste as needed
No. 810642 ID: 701418

rolled 6, 5, 6 = 17

Hore will help Maru if needed.
No. 810780 ID: d36af7

The guards start to back up, hampered by those in the back wanting to see what's going on.
Hoee interprets this delay as noncompliance, and attempts to punch one of them in the face as a gnoll-style disciplinary measure, thereby bruising her hand on his helmet's nose-guard.

Yisheng Ji pulls Viste back from the brink without incident. However, in another twenty seconds or so, that massive slab of wood which used to be a bridge is going to come back around and hit the midair portal, hard enough to shear off some substantial fragments and send them flying off at unpredictable, possibly dangerous, angles and velocities.

>this last word
She thinks it might refer to an Old God's belly button or some religious thing like that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphalos

>raise up on his tail and try to see where this lantern light is coming from.
Can't quite reach high enough to see all the way through the canopy. Pushing branches aside is ineffective at increasing the field of view, and gets sticky sap all over his hands. No matter which way he pivots around, the source and focal point of the light always seems to be just beyond the edge of his peripheral vision.

Under normal circumstances she'd be happy enough to cuddle up together indefinitely, ideally on a soft silk bed sprinkled with rose petals and gold coins, but for now we need to keep moving.

>test the mud
Some snapped-off twigs from the ceiling appear shriveled and discolored after exposure. The two horses hitched to a wrecked wagon might be more accurately described as horse skeletons dipped in puddles of horse-meat-flavored sludge, but it's not completely clear whether the mud itself did that, or another hazard or monster. Esmeraude carelessly scoops up a handful of the stuff and licks it, then says it's a little bit too warm to be comfortable for swimming, but otherwise seems fine to her. She loved goofing around in muddy hot springs back before the war.
No. 810804 ID: cb8a0b

rolled 6, 2, 4 = 12

>Twigs shriveled and discolored
>Esmeraude tries to lick the mud, is fine
>melted horses
>already know there is caustic mud in this dungeon

Vos will dip the very tip of his finger in this mud.
No. 810863 ID: 68db25

rolled 4, 1, 4 = 9

>in another twenty seconds or so, substantial fragments of wood will come flying out of the portal at unpredictable angles and velocities
Plenty of time to shout a warning and dash for cover, if indeed there is any cover to be found within a twenty-second-or-so dash.

If there's no cover, Yisheng Ji will just turn his back to the portal and maneuver Viste around so that he is between her and it, taking the brunt of whatever damage comes their way. He is somewhat more difficult to kill than she is, and significantly less valuable if lost. The group still needs her to get us out of here. He also will not forget to remove the quiver from his back and shield it with his body so it hopefully won't be damaged either.
No. 810881 ID: d36af7

Vos's fingertip tingles in a very unpleasant way, consistent with a mild chemical burn. He also recalls that Esmeraude never actually specified which sort of dragon the Netseth family is descended from.

Nearest accessible cover is a granitic disc protruding from a slot in the wall about ten yards down the yet-unexplored wider corridor on the near side of the chasm. Looks like it's meant to roll back and forth as a door or barricade. Yisheng Ji escorts Viste through the crescent-moon-shaped opening and around behind the heavy stone, incidentally away from the developing brawl, with adequate time to spare.
No. 810909 ID: af6e04

rolled 1, 5, 6 = 12

Not sure if this was a deliberate trick to try to get me to dive into caustic mud, or if she's just 'goofing around'. Either way, need to find a way across this mud pit. Are the platforms close enough together to hop across? It's going to be difficult with a naga tail but Vos will go ahead and try it if so.
No. 810935 ID: d5cc05

rolled 4, 5, 6 = 15

Hore's ears are sharp enough to hear that warning about a splinter explosion. Hore grabs Maru and makes a mad dash for cover, barking at the soldiers to get down and cover their heads!
No. 811089 ID: 3abd97

rolled 4, 6, 2 = 12

In quick succession, Viste finds herself unexpectedly slammed in the chest, has the earth drop out from under her, is left teetering on an impossible edge, and then is yanked back from behind. Then, as Ji leads her away from the from the edge of the cliff, her attention is distracted by the growing argument between Hore and the guardsmen.

As such, it is not until they reach the crescent opening that her mind manages to catch up with the immediate tactical situation and realize the danger bearing down from above.

Viste attempts to call out a warning to those of her allies (apparently) more concerned with some petty grievance than their own safety. "Fall back and take cover!"
No. 811107 ID: d36af7

rolled 5, 2, 4 = 11

>Not sure if this was a deliberate trick
She's had a fairly rough day, and legitimately forgot that weak-blooded peasants are so vulnerable to that sort of thing.
>Are the platforms close enough together to hop across?
Some of the gaps are wide enough that Esmeraude has to provide some support in between, but Vos manages to make his way over to the wagon without further injury, It contains sixty bolts of plain silk cloth, sixty inches wide by forty yards long. Cheap mulberry-worm silk rather than the sturdier stuff from giant spiders, and somewhat coarsely woven, but that's still good enough for moderately luxurious textiles. A dense weave of raw fibers like this is particularly well suited for undershirts worn beneath armor. In addition to comfort and padding, it can catch a penetrating arrowhead, simplifying extraction, reducing the risk of infection, and preventing any poisons or curses on the projectile from making direct contact with the blood. Each bolt weighs twelve pounds and is worth a bit over five silver if it's clean and intact, or somewhat less after being dipped in caustic mystery mud.

The chain-clad devil dog, as a swift quadruped, apparently has much less difficulty leaping from one platform to the next as it quietly circles around and gets ready to spit fire again.

Hore does not make it behind cover in time, and is hit by wood fragments in a random location as determined by that roll I just made.
No. 811111 ID: d22dc0

rolled 3, 2, 6 = 11

Maru's first priority would have been encouraging everyone to get to cover after the numerous warnings from her fellows- she would have brought up the rear of the retreat. Rolling to see how well she led everyone else and seeing if she managed to avoid the same fate as Hore
No. 811159 ID: af6e04

rolled 1, 6, 5 = 12

Vos waits for the devil dog to stop and open its mouth to spit fire, and then he throws his spear at its face.
No. 811185 ID: d36af7

Maru manages to get the guards to back up beyond the bend in the tunnel. Injuries are minimal. Hore caught a fist-sized chunk on her upper back, but fortunately broken wood is poorly optimized for penetrating even acid-weakened armor.

Decaro Vos's spear is stuck to his claw by a combination of sap from the ceiling and regenerating fragments of thorny underbrush from the previous room. This makes it difficult to effectively throw. He adapts the motion into a wild lunge, tip of his tail braced underneath the wagon to avoid falling into the mud, and thereby forces the dog to abort it's attack and leap away onto a different platform, where the fire breath can't hit both Vos and the wagon.

Esmeraude is chanting and gesticulating, waist-deep in the mud, as a halo or mandala of cold bruise-colored lightning coalesces behind her and begins to slowly rotate.
No. 811212 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 5, 3 = 12

Vos coils up, ready to dive out of the way of a fire spit.
No. 811307 ID: 3abd97

rolled 1, 2, 3 = 6

Might be wise to wait another revolution or two to be sure any debris left from that mess is in a "stable" loop.

If there are no other complications, let's portal across the gap properly this time. (Ji will have to wire fu, timing his jump to not get hit by what's left of the bridge, since the quiver of holding can't be safely portalled).

Once we're on the other side, do Maru and the guards' tracks continue down the narrow passage or the wide one?
No. 811442 ID: d36af7

Second portal goes much more smoothly. The broken bridge doesn't plummet by for a second pass at all on schedule (as of eight hours fifty-four minutes until the tide turns), but there does seems to be increasing noise and fluttering movement coming from that shadowy region up above.

>do Maru and the guards' tracks continue down the narrow passage or the wide one?
>rolled 1, 2, 3 = 6

Vos dodges successfully, and shrugs off fringes of the fire thanks to the sorceress's ward. The wagon is untouched. Esmeraude herself dives face-first into the mud, escaping with nothing worse than scorched hair. Her spell collapses into a single tiny icicle launched from her pinky finger, which ricochets improbably off the wagon, a wall, and two 'ceiling' branches before coming to a stop embedded in the devil dog's right eye. Vos's divinely sanctioned quarry yelps and whines in pain, then turns to run off through the passageway opposite where they all came in.
No. 811635 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 2, 6 = 11

>ricochets improbably
Nothing is improbable with Tittivila's guidance! Vos yells praise to Esmeraude as he gives chase.
No. 811660 ID: 3abd97


Since that roll seems to have been applied to spot / I already looked for tracks, anything else that notably distinguishes the two tunnels besides diameter, now that we're in close proximity?

We probably should get a move on before whatever we woke up in the chasm reaches us. Barring any additional information that might help us decide, I'm leaning towards following the narrow path (as it's what we followed so far, and it's conceivable there there was no intersection here when Maru and co ran past the first time, and the two paths were crossed through each other as the dungeon formed).
No. 811671 ID: 74621b

rolled 1, 5, 1 = 7

>time the jump to not get hit by what's left of the bridge
>broken bridge doesn't plummet by for a second pass at all
Alright, I guess now's a good time to cross then, before physics changes its mind again.
No. 811688 ID: d36af7

>anything else that notably distinguishes the two tunnels besides diameter?
Properly angled portals make it relatively simple to direct moonlight (or whatever it is) from below down along either path.

The wider passage, after about eighteen yards, splits like a tuning fork into two identical hallways ten feet apart, both tunnels continuing straight for another twenty yards before ending in identical thorny hedge-walls. Halfway along the split section there's a crawlspace between them, just under three feet in diameter.

The narrower tunnel has a side passage on the right after ten yards (same size, but flooded waist deep with crystal clear, ice cold water), curves to the left for another twenty yards, then there's a wicker door in the left wall with some sort of puzzle lock, and after that it slopes down for another twenty yards to a grassy clearing about a third the diameter of the one you started from. There are two other ground-level exits, and a bridge about 20' up above,
with a chase scene in progress. Decaro Vos, and a young elvenoid woman who can fly by magic but is otherwise unrecognizable due to being covered in mud from head to toe, are pursuing some sort of infernal canid, which is leaking prodigious quantities of day-glo orange goo from a damaged eye socket.

>before physics changes its mind again.
>rolled 1, 5, 1 = 7
Vos leaps across the chasm easily, and with a glance upward, notes that the broken bridge is still descending, escorted and slowed by a swarm of bat-shaped orchids and other animate winged epiphytic plants.

Helen and Jank climb up out of the chasm, from the misplaced portal, right behind Viste as she's looking for tracks and in front of Yisheng Ji as he's landing. Jank has a fresh blueberry pie balanced on top of his head, and shallow bloodless cuts on his right cheek, left ear, lower back, and both forearms, the source of which he does not remember. When Viste sees such wounds she should roll for her phobia.
>history check
Based on the style of armor those elves in the first panel were wearing, the events depicted probably took place shortly before the Rhestmere Incursion, Seems to be showing how the Church of Orcus relocated from wherever they started out to here. Or, rather, to where the frescoes are.
No. 811691 ID: d36af7

>Vos leaps across the chasm
Should be Yisheng Ji, but I don't feel like deleting and reposting the whole thing.
No. 811803 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 3, 3 = 9

I think Helen needs a minute to take all this in.

>Jank has a fresh blueberry pie balanced on top of his head, and shallow bloodless cuts
Any plausible hypotheses?

>chase scene
I'd like to point out that, as if this sight isn't bizarre enough as described, the infernal canid is also wearing Vos' armor.
No. 811816 ID: d36af7

>Any plausible hypotheses?
He must've looked too close at the Things Which Dwell In Corners. Rookie mistake for long-range scrying, relatively common problem among time-travel-related morbidity and mortality. Natural healing tends to be slow, and some claim the surrounding tissue needs to be massaged, burnt, or otherwise stimulated before it'll start at all. Infection and other complications are rare, magical treatment almost always works normally.

>chase scene
>I'd like to point out that, as if this sight isn't bizarre enough as described, the infernal canid is also wearing Vos' armor.

The hellhound spots Viste's Fire Hawk insignia and claims, in High Draconic (which she and Esmeraude Netseth can somewhat understand but Decaro Vos cannot), that if it's life is spared, it can teach them how to build a private place. such as Philista desires, without high-circle magic. Real gods have... shortcuts, and Agatia did not think to guard the library she stole.
No. 812376 ID: f9a482

rolled 3, 2, 2 = 7

Vos tries to lunge and stab the devil dog in the back while it's distracted talking to Vista.
No. 812539 ID: 0e104f

rolled 4, 2, 1 = 7

>three strangers show up, a wounded Vos and a wounded dog

Their garb isn't too far off from bandit wear- boots, cloak, rough around the edges, etc, but Maru thinks she recognizes the woman from the expedition. Can't recall her name, but if she's right, this is much closer to being the bloodmist labrynth than Maru is okay with. Seeing Vos take a stab at the dog, and not understanding a word of what it's saying, she starts yelling out to the others while grabbing the end of the 6 foot pole. She then takes a hard underhand swing at the side of the creatures head.

"I fink I recognize de woman comin out of de chasm! I dunno your name luv but I'm pretty sure we were down in dat bloody orcusite deaftrap togeder before de group got split!"
No. 812541 ID: d36af7

Vos rems his spear through the eye-hole in his stolen chainmail, into the devil dog's kidneys and out through it's belly button, pinning it to the bridge. The dog turns to look at him with it's remaining eye. "Breathe, breed, bleed, adapt... don't you wonder what I have that She hates?" Then it crumples up and disappears with a puff of green fire and whirl of silver sand.

Esmeraude Netseth groans and rolls her eyes in frustration, then stomps around in the air ranting about missed opportunities. She looked the other way for a minute and the captain of the guard got himself assassinated somehow, then the rest of her army gets eaten by freakin' trees, then this helpful eelman screws up all the awesome ancient secrets being dumped in her lap. At this rate, if she wants to rebuild her fallen noble house, she's going to have to marry somebody! Why is life so hard?
No. 812544 ID: d36af7

Maru Red is roughly two hundred feet away, around some corners, facing the wrong direction, and caught up in a brawl between Hore Wutashi and the Eckton Town Watch.

>swing at the side of the creatures head.
A normal human wielding a six foot pole does not have sufficient reach to make melee attacks against someone on a bridge twenty feet overhead.
No. 812555 ID: 0e104f

Hm. Would it be possible for someone to clarify how exactly that much distance was accumulated? I remember us taking cover from debrie, the viste portaedl across the chasm and looked down a couple different pathways, with Ji helping to scout. Now Helen and Jank emerged from that we just crossed, with Vos, a muddy mage, and a divine servant all within sight of Viste and Ji. How did I go from 10 yards away from the chasm to 200 feet? Or did they somehow move to a different chasm? I'm not quiet following where separation occurred and how
No. 812575 ID: d36af7

Maru is close enough to the chasm to possibly see or shout at Helen and Jank, though they're on the opposite side. The action with Vos is happening in another forest clearing sort of room, down one of those passages Viste scouted.
No. 812580 ID: 094652

Hore begins barking happily at Vos. Then due to her fear of this newly-formed dungeon, she decides to just keep following the others CAREFULLY until she can actually touch Vos. Which she will blah blah whatever.
No. 812594 ID: 3abd97

Before Viste can consider if she's willing to trust an offer that seems far too good to be true, or how to best interrupt the chase, Vos has already ended matters decisively.

"Vos, it was trying to surrender." she offers, while raising an eyebrow at the unusual sight of a flying pile of mud having a temper tantrum.

>At this rate, if she wants to rebuild her fallen noble house, she's going to have to marry somebody!
"Not me" our resident fallen noble thinks to herself, as she mentally files her poorly tempered peer far down her list of potential candidates. Alliances between houses can be beneficial, but less so if she has to pull them both back up herself.

Or in other terms, apparently Hore's squabble with the town guard didn't get end when diving for cover, and the eight of you haven't followed Viste through the portal to cross the chasm yet. (Honestly, don't feel bad for missing that, I didn't realize you guys were still held up either).
No. 812605 ID: af6e04

rolled 2, 5, 6 = 13

So let me make sure I have this sequence of events right.

1. Helen and Jank emerge right behind Viste just as she's portaling forward to scout ahead, and Ji is jumping across the chasm

2. Maru ignores the brawl that Hore started, instead looking over the chasm toward Viste and Ji she also spots Helen and Jank. She calls out a greeting to the two bewildered time travelers.

3. Viste arrives through the wicker door and sees Vos chasing the devil dog up above. Conversation and backstabbing occurs.

>"Breathe, breed, bleed, adapt... don't you wonder what I have that She hates?"
Vos' first kill in Tittivila's name. He doesn't feel particularly good about the accomplishment. He coils up on the spot, gasping for breath. "Viste. Do you have any water?"

>Hore begins barking happily at Vos.
(Assuming Hore heard of Vos' presence with her super dog ears, and the barking's loud enough for Vos to hear in turn) Vos shouts out to Hore at the top of his lungs, same as he did the first time the two shared that intimate moment in the Bloodmist Labyrinth.
No. 812617 ID: af6e04

Helen looks between the feathered fellow floating down in front of her and the horned lady shouting at her in cockney from across a giant chasm. Vaguely familiar faces...

"Excuse me. Where are we and what's going on?"
No. 812715 ID: d36af7

>Do you have any water?

>The narrower tunnel has a side passage on the right after ten yards (same size, but flooded waist deep with crystal clear, ice cold water)
Add a portal up to the bridge, backtrack, and Vos could be there in the time it takes him to cross 40 feet.
No. 812770 ID: 3abd97

Don't our basic kits include a day's worth of water? Unless Vos needs a great quantity, that seems safer to offer him than a pool in a dungeon (which might be safe, or might be poisoned, drugged, enchanted, trapped, harboring parasites, hiding an ambush, not actually water, etc).
No. 812861 ID: d36af7

>Don't our basic kits include a day's worth of water?

Did Viste, in fact, bring her full field kit along for that strike on the bandit leader, or did she leave a few of the heaviest and least immediately necessary items behind? Her private cabin on the ship, or the staging area on shore, were both readily available for storage at that point, and she'd have known (in appropriate in-character terms) that encumbrance penalties apply to movement speed, dodges, and fencing parries, all highly relevant to that mission, and further that 'zero encumbrance' means no more than twenty pounds of gear for someone of average human strength. Breastplate alone might weigh 18 lb, though particularly fine metalwork and tailoring could reduce that to twelve and a half pounds for a trifling 30x the base price.
No. 812919 ID: af6e04

Vos isn't drinking any dungeon water no matter how clear it looks. This place already gave him some sort of horrible infection, which he mentions to Viste and tells her to be very careful of any open wounds.

"And I am glad you are safe. Was very worried when you did not follow through portal. This is Esmeraude."
No. 812928 ID: 68db25

rolled 3, 1, 5 = 9

>nobody wants to drink the water
Yisheng Ji applauds the wisdom of caution when presented with a suspiciously convenient reservoir of water when one is thirsty. That said, he can purify food and drink at will, so while it doesn't rule out a situation where the pool may be concealing an ambush of aquatic creatures or is itself a camouflaged slime, it is enough to deal with any poison, disease, or contamination present in the liquid.

Holding his hand level above the water's surface, Yisheng Ji sends ripples of divine purification down into the pool, ensuring at least the few cubic feet of water closest to him is potable enough for anyone to consume. As a further precaution against potential threat afflicting the party, he will drink of it first, both to quench his thirst and to investigate any immediate effects it may have. (Such as if the entire pool is a potion of Flesh to Stone, or some other such nasty thing.)

Roll to detect unusual effects in the consumed water, if any.
No. 812944 ID: 3abd97

Fair point that the minimum necessary kit for a surgical strike expecting fast hard combat with a planned quick retreat would be less than the minimum necessary kit for prolonged field operations in a dungeon.

Although that raises other complications if we don't get out of here in time.

>though particularly fine metalwork and tailoring could reduce that to twelve and a half pounds for a trifling 30x the base price.
Well, rich bitch equipment bonus. :v

>I am glad you are safe.
"As am I."

>This is Esmeraude
Assuming Esmeraude has completed her tirade, or at least paused long enough to notice the introduction, Viste will doff her hat and nod in greeting.
No. 813055 ID: d36af7

>equipment bonus
>Esmeraude has paused long enough to notice the introduction,
>Viste will doff her hat and nod in greeting.
The sorceress curtsies, about three feet off the ground, but in the process looks down and notices (with a squeak of embarrassment) that she's still covered in mud.

A quick gesture and a few muttered words cause the mud to explode off of her, leaving her black dress and pale skin spotlessly clean. She fusses with rearranging her greasy unkempt hair before attempting the curtsy a second time. There's a brown starburst of smoldering dead grass now, but the mud didn't hit anyone standing nearby.

>rolled 3, 1, 5 = 9
Unpleasant alkaline flavor, and as previously noted it's extremely cold, but otherwise seems safe. If someone tried swimming in it without appropriate protection (a watertight 'drysuit' or magic) the fire essence in their blood would be leached away transdermally at such a rate that they'd be unconscious in a matter of minutes and dead shortly after, but with a well controlled heat source resuscitation would be relatively straightforward even without magic.

On the subject of minutes, once introductions are sorted out, the brawl with the guards has been smoothed over (at least temporarily, since they've got enough professional pride to not needlessly escalate petty disputes in the middle of a more serious crisis), and everyone is back together in one place, eight hours and two minutes remain until the tide turns.
No. 813085 ID: 094652

Hore isn't too bitter about Esmeraude's cheap shot because Hore was also lining up a mid-sentence murder herself, but she expected better from a supposed "professional".

Hore gives the mage a few pointers. Battlemages are supposed to keep an air of superiority and invincibility to intimidate their foes, and leave the dirty tricks to their minions. As we saw, using an attack of opportunity meant that Hore was both desperate to end the fight AND confident that Esmeraude was mortal, and the subsequent retreat just increased her confidence about the latter; if Esmeraude had conserved her spells and fought normally with a few extra inches of hover, she could have intimidated Hore, who was tiring out her ammunition, into retreating to a worse position.

Hore's eager to be friends. As a mercenary, she has learned to keep her grudges on the battlefield. Having a proper elementalist on the team fills an important niche. Plus, she's hawt.

Due to her developed phobia of dungeons and all the assassin things that lurk in their shadows, Hore sticks to Vos and tries not to touch anything.
No. 813090 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 1, 3 = 8

Alrighty. Does Echoes of the Old World have anything about huge forest dungeons?

Also, rolling for knowledge on local geography to recall if there is any place with impossibly gigantic trees roughly 1500 miles away from the entrance to the Bloodmist Labyrinth.
No. 813133 ID: d36af7

>knowledge on local geography
>a place [...] roughly 1500 miles away from [the mouth of the Stoneheart river]
>rolled 4, 1, 3 = 8
With no direction specified, you're talking about a circle, circumference of nine thousand four hundred and twenty-five miles, sweeping from civilized lands up north, out across the open ocean, potentially onto uncharted islands or some other continent, back onto the coast somewhere down south of the Wild Edge river and thus across unfamiliar regions of the current continent, over mountains and deserts... Helen is not aware of specific known forests of anomalous size or internal geometry, but can't rule out the possibility with much confidence.

>Does Echoes of the Old World have anything about huge forest dungeons?
Anywhere there's a massacre, usually meaning at least a few hundred people being seriously injured or killed in the same mile radius over the course of no more than a week, two main ways it can go from a geomantic standpoint: if it's one-aided, usually meaning systematic executions or torture, you get a 'necropolis.' Unseasonable fog, spontaneous undead, natural colors tending toward white and black with occasional red but very little gray, that kind of thing. If it was more of a fair fight, you get the reverse, an eruption of life. Necropoli tend to be fairly stable, gradually growing if actively managed by some sort of dark lord or eroding otherwise, whereas blooms rapidly expand until they hit natural barriers. then fade away in a few years.

This might simply be an unusually extreme bloom. Magnitude of the reaction usually correlates to the magnitude of the bloodshed, but there are exceptions, so it's possible the preceding battle 'hit a nerve' somehow. Particularly ancient and terrible necropoli such as the tomb of Queen [!]'Tula (the first letter of her name is one of those click consonants that doesn't translate well) are known to incorporate spatial anomalies so severe as to be deadly traps in their own right, so geometric weirdness might just be a thing that happens in any sufficiently extreme case. It's also possible that the Blood Mire's local overgrowth is being exaggerated and contaminated by some lesser divinity (an angel's involvement, and the presence of legible omens carved into gourds, would both tend to support that theory), or even that this is the culmination of generations of assiduous effort by some vast conspiracy of mortal geomancers.
No. 813146 ID: fc3fc0

rolled 6, 6, 3 = 15

"Some backwater seatown, 'cept, not really. Buncha bandits were slaughterin folks, and after de tides turned, dis big ol' forest sprouted up. I reckon it might 'ave been de doin of de mage dey 'ad, some sorta last ditch escape plan, but can't say for sure. Only fing I can say is it's too much like dat damned labyrinf we were in 'owever many weeks ago. Why dontcha follow me- we got a couple more friends up ahead, tryna find our way outta here."

After we all get united, and have a brief discussion to catch up, including the important detail of this not being the doing of the sorceress, Maru suggests they head towards the hexagonal room and look around some of those other exits, unless anyone has some sort of magical solution or good suggestions.
No. 813185 ID: 3abd97

rolled 1, 6, 3 = 10

>everyone introduced
Rolling for fear reaction to Jank's wounds, then.

>Maru suggests they head towards the hexagonal room and look around some of those other exits, unless anyone has some sort of magical solution or good suggestions.
Seems premature to me. Turning around means crossing back across the chasm with that "swarm of bat-shaped orchids and other animate winged epiphytic plants" we went and riled up by dropping a bridge on them. We should probably let them settle down before we go back that way. (Or we could go the other way around, but that requires breaking down or through the fungal wall).

Also, we just got where we are, and we haven't investigated the area at all. At the very least, several characters could / should roll for spot to see if we see anything that looks towards a clue towards a way out, or clear evidence Maru and co passed this way before, before we turn around.

Assuming we all met up by the pool of water, or in the clearing, there are several things nearby we can readily examine without significant travel: (This is mostly OOC, I'm summing this up for players who might have trouble keeping track, not so swordgirl can give a speech).

1) 4 exits (2 ground level, 2 bridge) in the room / clearing the devil dog died in. (Although one of these leads back to territory Vos and Esmeraude have already pretty well explored).
2) Down the flooded hall (Ji's basically the only one who can cross that path easily, assuming we can keep his feet from freezing off, so if he finds the way out is that way, we'll have to get creative).
3) The wicker puzzle door (one of the scholarly types could have a look, or one of the brash types could hit it with an axe, plasma fire, or sorceress strength).
4) There's the tuning fork hall that ends in hedge walls too, but that's a little father away, and requires heading back to the chasm, which I would prefer to give space for now.

Now that we have more of us there's also the option of combining resources to possibly find the exit more effectively. Some options that occur to me:

A) Esmeraude mentioned long range communication capabilities. Being in contact with an ally in town could make finding the exit easier (if for example they describe the exit near town, or they set up some kind of signal to guide us towards it).
B) If Esmeraude establishes communication with someone in town, it's possible that's a magical or mental link Vos will be able to see and follow with Aura sight.
C) If Contact Nightgaunts is a summoning spell, Ji might be able to call forth some disposable scouts / searchers to split up and speed our search. And Esmeraude's ability to communicate at a distance was specifically noted to work with nightgaunt.
D) Possibly Helen learned something from studying the discontinuity she passed through that might lend itself to a portal abuse? (Not very hopeful on that one).
E) Trying to eat part of the history of a seemingly primordial forest that just appeared might also have interesting consequences. (Although I'm less sure that would aid us in exiting, per se).
F) Vos completed the task his god gave him when he last asked for advice. She might be amenable towards providing further guidance in navigating this living space?
No. 813196 ID: 3abd97

>Ji's basically the only one who can cross that path easily
Oh, and the flier. Still, hard to move anyone else down the flooded path.
No. 813258 ID: d22dc0

rolled 2, 2, 1 = 5

Let's try some of the exits to this room we haven't looked at then. A puzzle, a hazardous liquid, and a maze all sound like sub-optimal choices at the current point and time. While Viste talks shop with the sorceress, Maru will grab anyone who's willing to take a quick gander down those 2 unexplored paths on the lower floor.
No. 813329 ID: d36af7

>fear reaction to Jank's wounds
>rolled 1, 6, 3 = 10
Failure by one, thanks to a penalty from Helen's expertise confirming that it's exactly what you think.

>2) Down the flooded hall (Ji's basically the only one who can cross that path easily, assuming we can keep his feet from freezing off, so if he finds the way out is that way, we'll have to get creative).
Thermal shock is only an issue with immersion. If Ji was walking (or even crawling on hands and knees) across the surface, keeping his torso dry, he'd be fine. If you want to be extra cautious, some minor magic could layer extra waterproofing onto boots or gloves, if they're already made from nonporous material (properly tanned leather yes, rawhide maybe, most cloth no). Esmeraude claims she can ward anyone against any single type of elemental damage. It's not perfect protection, but it should be more than adequate against any hazard that would normally take multiple minutes of continuous exposure to kill. Lasts a little over an hour. Only catch is, she hasn't got much magic left today, and probably wouldn't be able to cover fifteen people all at once even if she was full.

Her long-range comm spells are outgoing only. She can send 25-word whispers to anyone within a few miles, or a generic "Hi, I'm over here, please reply" to fish-people or nightgaunts from farther off, but it's the equivalent of dropping business cards in mailboxes. No way to be sure anyone's even received it. She's got two-way comm options at shorter range, but Vos can confirm those have other problems.

When the subject of navigation comes up, she also remembers seeing some message about a 'ninth gate,' and how to avoid related traps, carved into a bunch of gourds. She's idly curious whether any of you have found anything to which that might refer.
No. 813347 ID: 3d2d5f

>she also remembers seeing some message about a 'ninth gate,' and how to avoid related traps, carved into a bunch of gourds. She's idly curious whether any of you have found anything to which that might refer.
We may have seen the same message, though it was damaged by then.

>"If you leave here through {two words illegible} and then {four words illegible} to avoid the traps" and on the side without fire damage, "you will be within one {fold?} of Eckton's front gate."
From her account, we can infer "the ninth gate" fits in the first blank? (Assuming the "the" is implied or embed).

We also encountered a dying man whose last words were "The ninth gate is down."

If this place is broken into self contained planes or gates, we haven't found a way to transfer between them yet.
No. 813371 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 2, 1 = 6

"So you are saying this place sprung up out of nowhere. Well it certainly supports my theory..." >>813133 Which Helen explains to the party.

>Trying to eat part of the history of a seemingly primordial forest
Was thinking the exact same thing. Helen will try to eat a branch, a leaf, anything she can detach and fit in the maw. After warning everybody what to expect first.
No. 813372 ID: af6e04

rolled 2, 6, 6 = 14

Vos will accompany Maru after getting his fill of the water Ji purified and exchanging hugs with the party.
No. 813401 ID: d36af7

Both of the other ground-level passages are 20' wide and 15' high. The one on the right is blocked by a portcullis after about ten yards (it weighs 450 pounds, in case anyone wants to try lifting the hard way) while the one on the left turns sharply further to the left, passes through a cluster of single-file side passages and rat tunnels (one of which, on the right side, is covered with a crude oxhide curtain), then a 4-way intersection of similarly wagon-sized halls. Down the right-hand path from the intersection, you can see a broad sunlit area with an elephant-sized boulder in the middle.

Helen feeds the Cosmic Maw an (unlabeled) gourd from the bridge in the smaller, boulder-free clearing. The empty slot on the bridge's support vine is soon refilled with a ripe coconut, somehow naturally marked with the wax seal of the Mantis Courier Guild.

A dozen wrist-thick vines, bristling with glassy nettle-barbs, silently descend from the ceiling toward the location at which Helen was standing when the gourd was devoured. When anything other than native plant life touches them, they whip around to constrict-and-hoist it, but otherwise unfurl aimlessly like endless spools of rope.
>rolled 3, 2, 1 = 6
Helen successfully dodges this hazard.
No. 813454 ID: fc3fc0

Maybe the room they started in? Maru will enter, and barring any events that necessitate reaction, will mark the boulder with a big letter Y. Then she'll head back to the room where Viste and the sorceress are planning- or were planning, at least when Maru left. Seeing Davina flickering intangibly, she'll rush over and ask what happened, not having paid particular attention to the disquieting cuts on Master Jank. Rolling to help calm Davina, but not casting swallow your fear just yet. Maybe Vos and/or Ji would be able to better assist, given their history with Davina.
No. 813465 ID: 3abd97

Could be easily bypassed with portals, so long as Ji physically passes the quiver through gaps in the portcullis before taking the portal himself.

>Helen's result
Potentially a useful way to set a deathtrap or block a narrow corridor, but probably best not to repeat that in most circumstances.

>Maybe the room they started in?
Check if there's fire damaged gourds and an arcane marked corpse.

It's possible the path circled back to start, or it's possible each "gate" repeats the central room as we descend (ascend?) through layers.
No. 813556 ID: af6e04

rolled 2, 6, 2 = 10

Well it seems like the forest did not like that. Any cases I've read about where a geomantic atrocity reactively defended itself like this?

>gourd to coconut
Blueberry pie to rhubarb. Gourd to coconut. The symbol changes, though this particular gourd did not originally have a symbol. Seeing a bit of a pattern, though it's not enough to really formulate a good hypothesis. And no regurgitation this time?

>Mantis Courier Guild
I suppose this is common knowledge if I recognize the symbol. Is this a courier guild that is composed of mantids or is that just a company name? Where do they normally operate?
No. 813575 ID: d36af7

>fire damaged gourds and an arcane marked corpse
Yep. Intersection connects to the 'northern' gate, going by Viste's original reckoning.

no regurgitation this time?

>Is this a courier guild that is composed of mantids or is that just a company name?
Company name and signature martial arts style. Leadership is mostly mound-builders. and they adopt a lot of derelict or 'obsolete' necrolithographs.
>Where do they normally operate?
All throughout traditional mount-builder ranges. Green elven territory along the coast, grassland from Rhestmere to the Thumb, and possibly far beyond. It's a vast and venerable institution, like Lloyd's of London or the Shaolin Temple, but for hand-delivering documents and small packages. When the fate of your kingdom hinges on where some bit of paperwork ends up, or when, or who reads it first (all surprisingly common issues in a multipolar diplomatic environment), they're the ones to call. Most of the work isn't nearly so exciting, of course, and they don't have anything like a monopoly on such services.

>no regurgitation this time?
Decaro Vos lets out a painful-sounding burp and spits up what looks like a tiny snail shell, or maybe some sort of fern, but that's probably unrelated.
No. 813578 ID: 094652

rolled 1, 4, 4 = 9

Hore's ears perk up as Vos vomits out the spiraled fern. A horrifying suspicion creeps on Hore's back as she eyes Vos and the little thing frantically. Hore scans the strange spiral shell / fern for any anomalies.
No. 813651 ID: d36af7

It has the shape of a snail's shell, but is composed of green wood, with no sign of tool marks. Looks like it just grew that way. Seems stable and reasonably sturdy. Might make a good exotic ingredient for some sorcerous project.
No. 813853 ID: 3abd97

rolled 6, 5, 5 = 16

Viste will portal-travel along the path Maru just scouted back to the central room, and then check on top of the boulder / Omphalos.

It's the one significant piece of the environment to persist from the battlefield, it was at the center of the bloodletting that triggered this bloom, there were up to three open spacial anomalies up there when everything changed, and it's the one place in the room that would be hidden from sight from the ground and the bridge in a room with 8 visible exits, and a supposed ninth.

I'm guessing the portal(s) were co-opted, or that there's a path leading down on top of the boulder.
No. 813882 ID: d36af7

>Viste will portal-travel along the path Maru just scouted back to the central room,
>rolled 6, 5, 5 = 16
For many years, the air-tearing swordswoman thought she was either extremely resistant, or violently allergic, to all common recreational drugs. This latest chain of portals puts her in mind of the experiment with distilled fermented potato juice which disabused her of that notion. Almost every step seems to be subtly misaligned somehow, setting her staggering as if flat loamy ground were the deck of a storm-tossed ship. Doesn't help that her hands are still shaking, with Jank's wounds stuck in her mind's eye and the nonsensical concept of four-cornered time-hounds (lean and athirst but lacking bodies) rattling around her imagination.

>and then check on top of the boulder
>there were up to three open spacial anomalies up there
Bloodstains and footprints are consistent with the choreography of the fight, as well as she remembers it, but her familiar flits around and can't find any sign of those three portals in the space above. Yisheng Ji confirms how much time has passed, down to the second (speaking of which, seven hours and forty-seven minutes until the tide turns), and the quasi-winged millipede murmurs that a cut as rough and hasty as the one she used to flank the bandit leader that second time should have left perceptible residue for a day or more.

>it's the one place in the room that would be hidden from sight from the ground and the bridge
The bridge is relatively narrow. Anyone up there could have seen the top of the boulder by leaning over the side, or peeking between gaps in the boards, and in any case Yisheng Ji got a good look at it during his aerial scouting. Anyone reasonably athletic could have climbed up there the same way the bandit leader originally did, and Vos might have been able to peek at the top from ground level without even touching the rock, just by standing on the naga equivalent of tiptoes. If there was an obvious magical hole right out in plain sight on top of the boulder, I would've mentioned it by now.
No. 814210 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 6, 2 = 11

>tiny snail shell
"Strange. Do not recall eating this."

>ninth gate
Vos points out that it's possible the bandit was granted some sort of insight into this place from the affliction that transformed him. If Vos undergoes the same transformation (he seems to already be infected) then he might be able to lead his companions out.

Until then, he'd like to explore for clues a little more. Is it possible to stand on his tail and lift himself back up onto the 20' bridge?
No. 814328 ID: d36af7

>Is it possible to stand on his tail and lift himself back up onto the 20' bridge?

Vertical reach without jumping is only about fourteen feet, but he could climb the trees at either end, or Viste could open another portal.
No. 814355 ID: 3abd97

rolled 6, 3, 4 = 13

>If Vos undergoes the same transformation [as the infected bandit]
"That was fatal."

>Until then, he'd like to explore for clues a little more.
>Viste could open another portal.
Assuming Vos followed Viste's chain of portals to ask for her assistance, she'll stand up from the boulder she was investigating, ask what his third eye sees, then acquiesce with his request.
No. 814494 ID: af6e04

rolled 1, 4, 6 = 11

>"That was fatal."
Can Ji cure the infection? Vos will ask. He'll also ask Ji to check on his larvae.

>ask what his third eye sees
Alright, I'll roll for that.
No. 814552 ID: 74621b

rolled 5, 2, 6 = 13

>Can Ji cure the infection?
Diligent Vermifuge "expels infections, parasites, and other foreign objects from a living body." So if it truly is an infection, the answer is yes, but it may also have serious negative consequences for your children. Such as death.

If it is a poison, Yisheng Ji can merely delay it for a few hours. Normally, he could simply Detect if Vos has been poisoned or not, but as Vos himself is full of bee venom, the Detect would return a positive regardless.

He will allow Vos to ruminate on that while he employs what measure of medical, veterinary, and religious knowledges might be relevant to Vos's divinely-inspired hybrid eelbee larvae.
No. 814625 ID: d36af7

>third eye
There's a slight discontinuity, vaguely similar to the way light is distorted at the surface of water, or in Viste's portals - particularly that recent string of 'crooked' portals - wrapped tight around the boulder on all sides, except for a coffin-sized protrusion three or four feet above ground level on the northeast side, where Viste fell off after the duel. Possibly also underneath, where Vos's aura sight can't reach.

Or, at least. mostly can't reach. Like many low-circle detection spells, it sometimes catches a glimpse of something through wooden or earthen barriers less than a yard thick, or stone barriers less than a foot thick. Looks like there could be a hollow space down there, just at the edge of that range.

>simply Detect if Vos has been poisoned or not
>rolled 5, 2, 6 = 13
Combination of magical divination and mundane diagnostic skill can adequately discriminate between bee venom precursors in the larvae and various other toxins. Decaro Vos's nausea is not a result of any physical problem with chemicals in his bloodstream. It seems to be a relatively normal opportunistic infection, the all-too-common result of improperly treated injuries in a swamp or jungle environment, but it's being accelerated and twisted by excessive quantities of ambient wood essence. Reinforcement of the immune system from Vos's divine patron is probably the only reason he's made it this far, and even that won't last forever.

>medical, veterinary, and religious knowledges might be relevant to Vos's divinely-inspired hybrid eelbee larvae
Dilligent Vermifuge wouldn't normally abort a pregnancy far enough along for the baby to be kicking, unless it was cast with the specific intention to do so. Any degree of divine involvement also dramatically improves the child's chances of survival (but not necessarily the mother's, particularly for half-demons). If you want to be extra careful about the eelbee larvae not being treated as parasites by the spell, best option would be somehow providing them with food and/or drink that hasn't been pre-processed through Vos's body.
No. 814653 ID: d22dc0

rolled 3, 2, 5 = 10

>Hey, theres a cool thing popping up on the aura sight radar

>Also though Vos is getting sick, and may not have long

"Alright, feck all this todderin about. Anyone who wants to be useful, gimme a hand, or start workin on a way outta here." Maru tries to hide her fear, worry, and frustration at herself for being utterly unable to do anything useful for her friend, gets whatever tools that might both be somewhat relevant to the task, and on hand, and starts digging in that coffin sized area Vos pointed out
No. 814704 ID: 094652

rolled 3, 3, 1 = 7

"Let's just get Vos out of here before he begins raving the Caterpillar Song with real caterpillars for teeth."

Hore is going to assist Maru with... whatever the hell Maru is trying to do right now.
No. 814720 ID: af6e04

Vos would much rather not risk the larvae, but if Ji thinks the odds of the spell killing them are low then Vos will go along with it.
No. 814758 ID: d36af7

The coffin-sized area noted on aura sight is a volume of otherwise unremarkable air, between waist-high and chest-high for someone standing on the ground next to the boulder.

That being said, the ground under that area yields easily enough when Eckton's guards reconfigure their halberds into shovels. A single breath of Maru's inspired song sets them working tirelessly for an hour (six hours forty-four minutes remaining once they're finished, though other things could be accomplished before then), after which they've removed just over a cubic yard of soil each. That's more than enough of a hole to reveal a vertical shaft directly underneath, and nearly as wide as, the boulder.
Peering into the hole, Hore sees the indirect sunlight gleaming off of heavy chains and blades hanging at odd angles.
No. 814850 ID: e9490d

rolled 1, 1, 2 = 4

Maru checks on Vos, seeing if he's okay to go down the ladder. She snaps her fingers, casting spark down the shaft for some illumination, and asks for a dose of mages light somewhere on her so she can lead the group down. Suggested marching order puts Maru, Viste, Hore, Vos, Ji, and the the guards, the reasoning being Maru generally offers to lead, Viste seems to be their most capable in a fight, and seems to prefer the front, Maru wants Hore close enough to keep an eye on, and separate from the guards, and Hore is obviously better suited towards the front- Vos and Ji should both be protected near the center of the formation, and Ju should be next to Vos to moniter his condition and take action if needed. With those rules Gaurds naturally end up towards the back.

Rolling for perception.
No. 814910 ID: d36af7

There's no ladder. It's a smooth-walled pit, packed full of deadly interlocking traps. Looks like the nightmare of somebody who designed threshing machines for a living, lost an arm to one of 'em, and then passed out drunk in an abandoned, severely-haunted sawmill or abattoir.
>rolled 1, 1, 2 = 4
Critical success. Maru deduces, mostly from the way chains are hanging, that gravity is not pointed the same way inside the shaft as outside. The "floor" in there, direction you'd fall toward, is actually a helical shape along the shaft's apparent walls. Eckton's main gate is dimly visible at the far end, two hundred feet away, though it's shut and probably barred.
No. 814923 ID: 094652

rolled 2, 4, 2 = 8

After Maru explains the gravity shift, Hore begins performing mathematical calculations on paper to determine the least-risk plan for jumping through without getting speared by blades. She'll try basic calculations for applying powers and their effects in the subspace, and if she can come up with a general plan she'll spend another half-hour calculating non-magical methods in case their powers don't work down there. She's not very confident that she can get it right, but if there were ever a time to apply her childhood education in orbital physics...
No. 814924 ID: fc3fc0

>The gate is dimly lit
>Davina/Viste can portal to visible places
>Tunnel has gravity like a spiral(?) and is full of traps

Might be a better plan to wait for Davina to calm down, have Ji heal Vos, and then light the way more sufficiently so portalling to the end is a safer bet.
No. 814939 ID: 094652

OR Hore could just fire sniper rounds at all the blades.

But if she's not going to do anything else, PRACTICING physics calculations is a good mental exercise. Just saying.

She'll leave it to Maru.
No. 814954 ID: 68db25

rolled 5, 1, 4 = 10

>somehow providing [unborn children] with food and/or drink that hasn't been pre-processed through [the parent]'s body
I can't even begin to imagine how one would feasibly go about doing this without a level of power that would render the original task effortless to begin with.

>Vos will go along with it
Yisheng Ji will nod and (after making proper preparations) pour as much focus as he can into preserving the life of Vos's children as he cleanses the disease. If there is backlash from controlling the magic in such a way, Ji will do his best to take it upon himself rather than allow Vos (or his larvae) to suffer it.
No. 814991 ID: 3abd97

rolled 2, 5, 2 = 9

>working tirelessly for an hour (six hours forty-four minutes remaining once they're finished, though other things could be accomplished before then)
>Might be a better plan to wait for Davina [Viste] to calm down
Viste will take advantage of the wait to try and center herself. She'll spend part of the hour moving through sword forms (a familiar, comforting ritual), and some time with Vos (a comforting presence).

When the exit is unearthed she repeats, quietly, "The ninth gate is down".

>least-risk plan for jumping through without getting speared by blades
>Might be a better plan to wait for Davina to calm down, have Ji heal Vos, and then light the way more sufficiently so portalling to the end is a safer bet.
Ji would have to jump (or otherwise cross), since her can't portal safely while holding the quiver, not that gravity is much of a threat to him. Well that, or someone would have to toss the quiver all the way across so Ji can safely portal.

And using observation or Hore's math to figure out which way is down directly in front of the gate is probably a good idea before attempting to open a portal. (We want it oriented properly).
No. 814994 ID: fc3fc0

rolled 1, 6, 2 = 9

>Got the name wrong again
I apologize, I really should be better with that at this point, given all the reminders and clarifications.

>Send Ji floating along above the traps to spiral down and meet them with the quiver, instead of safely portaling with them without the quiver
Maru states that, yeah, that quiver is worth a fortune, but it's not worth recklessly risking the life of a friend. She'll insist that they don't leave Ji behind to gently float down the trap corridor simply to keep a magic hole safe. Maru has no doubt something deadly will stick out of the wall far enough to kill, and do so with malice, at at least one point of the shaft, maybe more. Rather just drop the quiver down the hole and hope it makes it to the bottom as opposed to doing something similar with Ji, who is significantly more skilled, but also significantly more fleshy. Quiver can't die of infection if it gets a scratch on the way down. In that same vein, Ji might have an advantage avoid the traps, but is certainly not the only option to carry it down. Maru doesn't want anyone to be sacrificed to an obvious death trap though, and is rather fiery in her expression of those values.

She makes it a point to suggest it's not unlikely some of the traps might function in such a manner that they would crush the victim to death, but only after Ji attempts to care for Vos. Don't want to spook the venerable doctor while he cares for a patient.
No. 815065 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 2, 3 = 9

Vos expresses the utmost gratitude to Ji and says that Tittivila looks kindly upon the doctor.

>hour of waiting
>time with Vos (a comforting presence).
No reason she can't do both at the same time. Vos can hang out with Viste while she's practicing her sword forms and they can talk when she's done (after Ji finishes his spell, of course. Not sure how long that takes)

Vos will also offer to heal Jank's time wounds with his healing goo (should have one left if I've been counting correctly), giving the whole evangelism pitch while he does so.
No. 815066 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 4, 6 = 13

Question about that coconut. Did it grow back or just materialize? If Helen picks a gourd, does it grow back?

Cosmic maw doesn't necessarily seem to eat things, just change them. But that's only been observed to happen for magically generated matter. The vampire's hand just poofed. Once again, a wonderful testing ground that's too dangerous to practically perform enough experiments. Either way, she'll try to take one of the gourds with her, being very careful of those snaring vines.
No. 815080 ID: 3abd97

>it's not worth recklessly risking the life of a friend [for a fortune]
"That is the job" responds Viste, who quite recently risked her life for the group when there was no money on the table, when she was the best person for a dangerous task. It was, in fact, the reason any of them were in this prediciment.

"And it is worth it" she continues, tapping her Fire Hawks' emblem as she does so, reminding Maru of the one recovered earlier, and that money can, in fact, buy back allies' lives.

>Rather just drop the quiver down the hole
>Quiver can't die of infection if it gets a scratch on the way down
No, but it is more liable to hit something on an unpowered / unchangeable course. And it it lands on a trap, it could still be destroyed, or just trapped where we can't recover it.

Let's not toss the expensive payday so glibly, shall we? Alternate creative solutions for getting it across are welcome.
No. 815125 ID: d22dc0

"Bullshite. We went in to keep a friend safe. Dis 'as nofin to do wid de job. If we were just doin what we signed up to do, none of dis woulda 'appened, but we all agreed dat lettin our friend frow dere life away wasn't somefin we were gonna let happen- I refuse to watch it 'appen now just because it might net some coin. Nofin's worf tossin out de life of a friend."

Maru concedes that it's a bad idea to simply toss such a valuable item down the tunnel, but suggests that if Ji is hurt or killed on the way down, then there's all the same risks of the treasure getting stuck, with the bonus penalty of not being able to retrieve remains easily. She's guessing Ji will agree to go on this suicide mission, but that Vos will likely side with her against it, leaving Hore to be the tie breaker if it comes down to it. In the case that she's overruled by a group vote, Maru will volunteer to be the one who has to walk the gauntlet.
No. 815248 ID: d36af7

Might be possible to launch, say, a javelin so it impacts the gate before touching anything else, but you'd either need to throw it with Olympic-level force and accuracy, from a really awkward position, or else get that boulder out of the way (somehow) and then drop your projectile from the bridge.

>how one would feasibly go about doing this
Well, keep in mind, they're not exactly placental mammals. Eels and bees both hatch from eggs, and in this case you're looking at larvae hanging out in a pouch like marsupials. They've got functional digestive organs, it's just that they're not rated for food less refined than milk or royal jelly yet.

No, more a matter of being less thorough. Vos's infection seems to be gone, but there's a chance it's just been beaten back into remission.
>try and center herself.
>moving through sword forms
>When the exit is unearthed she repeats, quietly, "The ninth gate is down".
>rolled 2, 5, 2 = 9
Viste lightly taps the tip of her ancestral blade against the stone, and that same mark she left on the mutant-bandit-wood-spider corpse appears, unbidden. One of those
>oddly noose-like vines up near the canopy
descends, coils around to frame the mark, and grips the boulder with swift-growing rootlets, straining to pull upward, though it's barely enough to even slightly shift the massive rock. If there were, say, two or three more, that might be enough.
>Did it grow back or just materialize?
Grow back.
>If Helen picks a gourd, does it grow back?
Yes, but not as quickly.
>being very careful of those snaring vines
It would seem there was more than one way to open this passage.
>Vos will also offer to heal Jank's time wounds with his healing goo (should have one left if I've been counting correctly)
Jank respectfully declines, saying that his condition is stable, and someone else might need it more before they're out of here.
No. 815291 ID: af6e04

>there's a chance it's just been beaten back into remission.
This will do for now. Vos thanks Ji again.

>arguments over Ji carrying the quiver to the gate
>that Vos will likely side with her against it
"I am sorry, Maru, but should all know not to question Ji's talents by now. Ji, if you are confident you can do this safely then do so. It is your choice, not for us to decide with voting."
No. 815399 ID: fc3fc0

Maru turns towards Vos, and locks eyes with the optimistic eel-man, getnly placing her hands on both shoulders.

"Look Vos, mate, dis ain't about respect. We all know damn well 'ow capable 'e is. 'e doesn't need us to surround 'im wid soldiers, protect 'im in dese situations and such, because we know 'e can take care of 'imself, better dan some of us can. But we do anyways. Not because we doubt eachoder, or because we fink we're better dan 'im, but because Ji can't be replaced. If I get a spear run frough my guts, no matter 'ow much our friend 'ates me, I can count on you guys to pick me up and get me back on my feet. Dat's what friends do. Dat's what a family is. I can't replace any of you. And I'm not gonna let you all risk your lives on some nonesense treasure! What good is gettin out wid de loot if it means someone we care about doesn't back wid us?"

She drops her hands and turns away, taking a breath before dropping into a more casual stance and tone.

"I know you two 'ave de utmost confidence in yaselves, but we've seen de trouble dat can cause. You and Ji bof nearly cut your lives short in dat chess room because you were confident about what to do. You lost a whole damn foot, and coulda died if it got worse, because you were confident. You were lost, Ji risked breaking away to sleep in a monster invested feast hall, and we're all 'ere because if we didn't come wid, you'd be 'ere fightin off bandits on your own! We're not 'ere to tell eachofer we can do anyfin as long as we try our best and believe- dat's all bulshite dat gets you killed. Friends make sure you don't run off into more trouble dan you can chew, or at least make sure you don't do it alone. I'm absolutely, 100%, dead serious when I say I'm not gonna see any of my friends try to run dat gauntlet down dere for love nor money. If you all insist it has to be done, den I insist you at least make me do it. I'm not gonna let my friends run off and get demselves killed just so I can keep de pantry stocked for an extra monf. Feck dat. Besides, I'm sure dere's ofer ways we can get dis damned quiver around. Don't 'ave to result to plan deaf right away yanno."
No. 815402 ID: b0bc40

rolled 1, 4, 2 = 7

>smooth-walled pit, packed full of deadly interlocking traps
>gravity is actually a helical shape along the shaft's apparent walls
>Hore performs mathematical calculations on paper to determine the least-risk plan for jumping through without getting speared by blades
Once Yisheng Ji has finished his business with Vos, he will consult with Hore regarding the optimal path through. Knowing the shape of the gravity will make it significantly easier to traverse, as Ji can ensure his feet are always towards the blades. His ability was designed explicitly to make him invulnerable to pressure-sensitive traps and he cannot cut himself on a blade just by landing on it. With Hore's calculations factored in, only proximity-based magical triggers hidden within the pit could possibly pose a threat to him.

>Maru obstructing progress with misplaced sentimentality
Yisheng Ji shares Viste's opinion on all counts.

>guessing Ji will agree to go on this suicide mission
"Correct, but I have no intention to die here."

>quiver can't die of infection if it gets a scratch on the way down
As someone who was just a moment ago curing an infection with his mind, it is rather unlikely Yisheng Ji will succumb to that particular threat either.

>makes it a point to suggest it's not unlikely some of the traps might function in such a manner that they would crush the victim to death
"Please. It is plainly obvious that blunt trauma was never the intention of this twisted arrangement."

>Maru will volunteer to be the one who has to walk the gauntlet
"I'm afraid I lack the energy to restore your mangled corpse at the moment. Perhaps next time."

Once he's fully prepared, Yisheng Ji will descend into the pit, carrying only the quiver (wrapped securely in his arms to shield it with his body should he make a misstep or other complications arise) and leaving the rest of his items with Viste to be retrieved afterward. (He'll murmur into her ear as he passes them over that she is to keep them if he fails.) If he successfully reaches the other side, he can conjure additional light for Viste to use as a portal beacon.

Roll with fingers crossed.
No. 815406 ID: d10e29

"Well, seems I'm out voted and out manned. Not much I can do to stop you, likely won't make any progress tryna do so. But look, Ji, I really did fink we were friends. I want you to know dat. It's not too late to turn around- you're gonna get chewed to peices in dere before you 'it de ground, and we're gonna be able to do jack shit to help. We could at least TRY somefin else before you frow yourself into anoder deaf trap. It doesn't 'ave to go down dis way. If you die 'alfway frough, we lose you and de treasure everyone is gettin so worked up over. We don't 'ave to make riskin people's lives de first option 'ere."
No. 815409 ID: 094652

"Maru... risking lives is what adventurers do."
No. 815412 ID: d22dc0

"Ach. Feck de lot of ya. I'm gonna go toke."

Maru goes to against a wall and take a smoke.
No. 815542 ID: d36af7

>With Hore's calculations factored in, only proximity-based magical triggers hidden within the pit could possibly pose a threat to him.
Conceivably some mechanical trap could be triggered by a tripwire. He'd be fine if he stepped on it directly, and in no danger of actually tripping of course, but the lateral force of brushing a camouflaged obstacle aside, or simply 'kicking' it in mid-stride, might set something off.
>rolled 1, 4, 2 = 7
Yisheng Ji glides from one perch on a dangling chain, to another on a spring-loaded scything blade, to the gate, with no such complications.
No. 815571 ID: 3abd97

rolled 6, 4, 2 = 12

>If he successfully reaches the other side, he can conjure additional light for Viste to use as a portal beacon.
>Yisheng Ji glides [...] to the gate, with no such complications.
Viste portals to Ji, in front of the gate.
No. 815594 ID: d36af7

>rolled 6, 4, 2 = 12
She immediately steps on a hair-thin wire. With an ominous click and swoosh, a lever-arm pivots down, swinging a 40" diameter circular saw blade at approximately shoulder or neck height, which grinds and roars and blunts itself against the back side of the portal. Rusty saw teeth break loose and ping off the walls. One passes intangibly through Viste's left calf but gets caught in her pantleg on the far side; Yisheng Ji deftly sidesteps another. The mechanism winds down to a stop just before the portal closes.

Eckton's main gate is about 20' wide and 15' high. Double doors of solid iron-bound wood open inward. Doesn't seem have serious wards, but it is currently closed, and likely barred shut, given that it's after sundown (noon-bright glow from behind you notwithstanding) and hostile forces are known to be active in the area. How are you planning to get through?
No. 815627 ID: 3abd97

>The mechanism winds down to a stop just before the portal closes.
I would have preferred to keep that open. Although I suppose reestablishing a passage back to the untrapped ground I started on is a less risky endeavor than getting to the gate in the first place.

>Doesn't seem have serious wards
Worst case, we did leave Maria behind. It's possible she could have been asked to bind the door shut. (More optimistically, it's also possible our allies are keeping vigil to see if we make it out).

>How are you planning to get through?
If there's any gap in the door, opening a portal though is possible. Although I'd expect some kind of watch to be posted in case something from the forest tried to get through, and that might lead to an unfortunate misunderstanding.

Honestly, it seems to me our best bet would be to knock loudly, and ask the guards with us to identify themselves to people inside they almost surely know. If we can't get anyone's attention, we could ask Maru to make some (musical) noise? Or she could cast message (should be able to get through a wooden door).
No. 815673 ID: d36af7

>I would have preferred to keep that open.
Portal stays open on it's own for about a minute, like usual. Mechanism winds down after 45-50 seconds. You could do other stuff while that's happening, and re-open the portal as necessary.

>If there's any gap in the door
It wasn't breached during the previous battle, and it's a reasonably well designed gate, so there aren't any knotholes or cracks wide enough to see through. Maru Red, or anyone else with an axe (or other suitable tool) could create such an opening quick enough, but doing so would be noisy and extremely rude.

>our best bet would be to knock loudly, and ask the guards with us to identify themselves to people inside they almost surely know
The squad leader steps through the portal once you've confirmed a particular patch of floor is safe, knocks, waits for a response. The voice on the far side sounds like a skittish child, barely audible.
"whose there?"
"Inspector Trihs, my squad, a doctor, that Lady with the shortcuts, a few others. Perimeter's secure, no hostile contact to speak of for..." The inspector glances at Yisheng Ji, who makes a quick gesture. "...more than an hour and a half. Let us in already."
"whatsa pass word?"
"I didn't get tonight's password. I was busy putting out that fire, then sallying forth through this same gate to chase off the bastards who set it."
"y'might be a bandit, just pr'tending."
"Damn it all, Gorsk, I've had lunch with you at the barracks every day for the last eight years. I haven't got time for your procedural shit right now. Open the fucking door!"
"can't let an'body in w'thou the pass word."
No. 816240 ID: af6e04

rolled 5, 6, 2 = 13

Helen will ask to be cleared to go down through the portal. Once this is so, she'll say something along the lines of "By high order of the drakocracy, open this gate or suffer heavy fines!"
No. 816249 ID: 3abd97

rolled 6, 6, 4 = 16

"We left two of our number behind. The nun and holy man would vouch for our identities."
No. 816369 ID: d36af7

"big fight, ma'am, audit hasta wait 'til morning"
>vouch for our identities
A few more minutes pass, lots of whispering and hurried footsteps from the far side of the gate but nothing intelligible. Scraping noise as the bar is drawn aside, then the doors open.
>The nun and holy man
>rolled 6, 6, 4 = 16

It's the bandit leader, standing alone in the middle of the gatehouse. Hands behind his back, smug grin on his (now fully clean-shaven) face. He invites you to enter, and says that a small feast is being prepared in your honor.
No. 816430 ID: 3abd97

>It's the bandit leader, standing alone in the middle of the gatehouse. Hands behind his back, smug grin on his (now fully clean-shaven) face. He invites you to enter, and says that a small feast is being prepared in your honor.

Viste heads back though the portal, renewing it as she goes (or reopening it if it's closed) so others can cross to (relative) safety. She'll motion Esmeraude forward for a reunion with the former captain of her uncle's guards.

Assuming the others are distracted, focused on the what's happening in front of them and/or getting across, Viste will take advantage of the distraction to step away for a moment and...
No. 816431 ID: 3abd97

...fetches her mistress from wherever she's been hiding to parley with their unexpected host.

After introducing herself, and expressing happiness at seeing he and Esmeraude reunited, Davina continues:

"Such hospitality is most welcome, although I must confess some surprise that you are in a position to offer it. My bodyguard offers the highest praises for your skills as a swordsman, but it would seem you are adroit on landing on your feet as well.

"May I inquire as to your position here?"

I would guess he went from prisoner to being recruited to help defend the town against the threat of the Green Tide? The squabbles of men pale before a violent act of god. Same as we made truce with Esmeraude, he made a similar with the town he was previously attacking.

Not 100% sure we should attend the feast, but we should at least try to play nice and see what's going on. And even if we do go, reuniting with our companions and checking in with our employer probably takes priority.
No. 816490 ID: af6e04

When Vos passes through the portal he slithers up to confront the bandit leader, tense and ready to strike. "Where are Daniel and Maria?"
No. 816492 ID: d36af7

Gimme a roll to avoid belly-flopping onto caltrops.
No. 816493 ID: 094652

rolled 4, 4, 2 = 10

Maru holds onto Vos's arm, guiding him from hugging the broken trap debris. She would rather Vos hold Esmeraude than threaten the bandit leader when his [] is now safely in his arms.
No. 816495 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 2, 5 = 13

Got it boss!

Gonna be honest kome, I can't puzzle out what you're trying to say with this post.
No. 816499 ID: 3d2d5f

I read it as both trying to keep you from falling on those caltrops and trying to preempt any impulse Vos might have to attack the once-bandit leader.
No. 816556 ID: b0bc40

>Dav and Ji mostly just need to figure out how to politely refuse to eat chicken stew without giving too much offense
I haven't seen this come up yet, but since we're apparently waiting on it, there's a very reasonable explanation to give. (with clasped hands)

"I thank you for your hospitality, but I must politely decline the stew, for my faith prohibits the consumption of feathered creatures. I will gladly partake of any other dishes that have been prepared sans such ingredients."

"Regarding my patient, she is unfortunately suffering from a rare, thankfully non-contagious illness at the moment, and as her physician, I must insist she abstain from intaking anything beyond her prescribed medicinal fruit. I thank you for your understanding."
No. 816582 ID: d36af7

The entry passage is 20' wide and 40' long, with ten arrow slits along each wall and dozens of irregularly-spaced murder holes in the ceiling. Bandit leader is standing 10' from the far end, with his arms tied behind his back and bootlaces tied together. The floor is strewn with caltrops.
>rolled 6, 2, 5 = 13
Vos catches one in the palm of his non-claw hand and two more on his right side, one just below the ribs and the other near that waxy scent gland under his right vestigial leg. Larvae seem to be unhurt, though.
>Where are Daniel and Maria?
Last he saw, they were talking about rescue missions, contract breaches, and payment plans with the mayor and some EOD monk.

Once it's been confirmed you're not hostile, the crossbowmen disperse. Apart from those inside the actual gatehouse, there were two ranks (ten standing, ten kneeling) lined up on either side of the gate, five crouched like trapdoor spiders in a storage pit in the middle of the square, and five more behind those, laying on their backs with their feet in the pit. Anyone who made it through before the portcullis closed would have a volley of fifty crossbow bolts to worry about, and if that didn't stop them, pit squad could pick up a set of five great monster-slaying pikes. Takes special training for two strong men to effectively wield one together.
No. 816741 ID: 3abd97

Ah, he hasn't been put in charge, they were using the durable prisoner as an expendable spokesperson. And that's quite the effective welcoming party they had prepared. Whoever's in charge here has a good head on their shoulders.

All right, assuming the excitement's over, there are a few administrate things I think the Fire Hawk's nominal leader has to see through before we wrap this up:

(a) Reunite with Daniel and Maria
(b) See what that business of rescue missions, contract breaches, and payment plans with the mayor and some EOD monk is, and resolve it.
(c) Meet with and reassure our employer, who is probably concerned right now.
(d) Figure out if anyone we picked up in the dungeon wants to leave with us. (Helen and Jank have a decent claim at membership if they want it, if they bring up the remains they recovered, pending confirmation they're authentic. Also conceivable Esmeraude might want to get out of town, though in her shoes, I'd stick around and try to use the disruption and opportunity of the dungeon to start building a power base here, and work towards getting her high level ally back). Bringing more people along might present contractual problems to iron out with the bosun.
(e) Collapse in bed back on the ship after having been up all day, most of the night, and having survived far more excitement than we planned for.
(f) Process level ups, if I'm lucky.

(And I'm assuming Ji will want to stow the quiver of holding on the ship until we get back to Passholdt to sell it. He doesn't seem interested in using it himself, and there's no reason to prolong the tactical disadvantage of being unable to pass through portals otherwise).
No. 816772 ID: 36105e

>Feast stuff

"Bound by de tides, can't leave our ship 'ere anofer night. You guys got any sort of potable rations, dat'd be good. Like de princess said, couple of de crew can't eat what yous servin anyhow, so it's best we be off."

Maru addresses the former leader of the bandits, and possibly the sorceress if they happen to be together.

"'Ey guv, ah, look 'ere. I fink if, in de future, yous lookin to hire on outside 'elp, I might not say no to an interested party. I ain't big on de ol' "organized army" deal, but everyone's gotta eat. Figured I'd frow dat out dere before we get movin again."
No. 816778 ID: d36af7

A)Easy enough.
B)The mayor's a crafty-looking old woman in a broad brimmed hat, and the second-coil monk from the Esoteric Order of Dagon has oddly wide-set eyes, like Hugo Weaving if he never blinked. They were in the process of talking the Agate siblings out of getting paid for helping out with the battle. Fortunately nobody had signed anything binding yet.
C)The trip's been going smoothly, and you were back well before deadline. You've been jumping into unreasonable-looking risks and coming out clean. Bosun's starting to think you know what you're doing.
D)Esmeraude and her sole confirmed-surviving minion don't intend to stick around in this town they just tried and failed to violently subjugate. She discreetly approaches Davina during the feast, voices suspicion that Dav's bodyguard was trying to keep the two of them apart earlier, and offers to hire the Fire Hawks to extract her from this situation. Main payment she can offer is spellcasting services up to the third circle, since she's a bit short on cash at the moment, but there are also a few Netseth family secrets she's the last living holder of, most notably a formula for constructing and enchanting a... well, a sex toy. All the key ingredients can be synthesized by her personally or bought off-the-shelf in a major city like Overmire, apart from a quill from the Tenebrous Bandersnatch, but those show up at auction in Passholdt from time to time, so it ought to be possible to work something out if you're headed there anyway. Relevant functions of the device in question include selective tangibility (reach through thin walls, provide haptic feedback for ghosts) and facilitating a lesbian couple's conception of one or more children who are natural heirs to both of them.
E) Easy enough, though timing is such that this should probably wait until business in town is wrapped up.
F) How's the Renown social talent suit you? Plus another spell known for both currently accessible circles (the last zeroth circle spell you'll get without spending feat slots or retraining), and a minor upgrade to your familiar's "vengeful" aspect. As for the usual feat slot, skills, BAB, and saving throws, instead of fiddling with specific numbers, think about what you'd prioritize in a training montage covering a period of a year or more.
No. 816800 ID: af6e04

>if they bring up the remains they recovered
Helen says she's not a combatant and wouldn't be of much use unless the Fire Hawks have need of some sort of field consultant. She would prefer funds to charter another expedition (a proper one this time). She mentions that Jank is quite the formidable warrior, however.
No. 816807 ID: d36af7

Is she going to volunteer the fact that she's got 90% of Azarthraine's skeleton in a bag, wait for someone to ask, or try to cover that up somehow?
No. 816818 ID: af6e04

Sorry I wasn't clear, yes she will bring up the bones. Assuming she recognized Viste's Fire Hawks emblem.
No. 816828 ID: 3abd97

rolled 3, 6, 2 = 11

>They were in the process of talking the Agate siblings out of getting paid for helping out with the battle. Fortunately nobody had signed anything binding yet.
Well, let's see if I can come to some agreement about getting paid, instead. Rolling for negotiations.

>Esmeraude's offer
Seems reasonable. Davina's willing to accept.

It would seem Esmeraude has something of a talent for knowing what people want, or gathering information on someone quickly.

>How's the Renown social talent suit you?
If I'm reading http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/base-classes/vigilante#TOC-Social-Talent right, basically Glory Girl aura lite? Sounds good.

I'll get back to you on the spells and a training focus after I've had a think on em.

I'd think the entire team probably has emblems, and even if Helen didn't recognize the symbol, I'm sure the name "Fire Hawks" has been spoken in her earshot by now.

Davina explains that, regrettably, we're more the people who participate in expeditions than those who fund them. Recovering the remains of our founder (presuming they are authentic) earns you membership, should you want it. Alternate remuneration is possible, although that does complicate matters by making authentication of the remains more pressing and as the discretionary liquid assets we carry in the field are limited.

You... are planning to hand over Captain Azarthraine's remains, are you not?
No. 816848 ID: d36af7

>Esmeraude's offer
Are you going to ask for Esmeraude and the man in the ochre coat to be treated as prisoners and handed over to the Fire Hawks as payment (which would already be a bit on the generous side for a day's work, given the fair market value for ridiculously elite warriors, or mid-level dynastic sorcerers who also happen to be young and physically attractive), or take some risks asking for more and/or faking an escape?

Jank isn't interested in joining the Fire Hawks, but even without him the ship is starting to get overcrowded.
No. 816890 ID: af6e04

Can we not lay claim on the prisoners since we were the ones who captured them both?
No. 816923 ID: 3abd97

>Are you going to ask for Esmeraude and the man in the ochre coat
Assuming that she's paying to get them both out of town, and not just herself, yes.

>or take some risks asking for more and/or faking an escape
Davina feels like she already took a good deal more risk than she planned for today, and managed to come out ahead. Not inclined to not push it any more, and the potential reputation hit of backstabbing the town if a breakout goes bad isn't worth it.

Well, technically, Esmeraude is currently no one's prisoner (so custody is moot) although a more useful position to take with the town is that she's already in our custody (and Eckton's leaders don't have much leverage if we chose not to cede jurisdiction and surrender her to them).

The man in the ochre coat is a bit stickier- our team subdued him, but there were guards on site when he was detained and the Agate siblings apparently allowed them to take custody. He's valuable, but also dangerous, and the town's leaders can probably be persuaded to part with him if that means not paying us in addition to that.

>the ship is starting to get overcrowded
Well, worst case, Dav might have to let someone else into the cabin she's "sharing" with her bodyguard (wherever she's hiding at the moment).

>If you want a more in-depth breakdown of what [Esmeraude's] magic can do, that'd be a very reasonable thing to ask IC as part of agreeing to 'rescue' her.
A list of what magic she's willing and able to use would be appreciated, if she's partially paying in casting services.
No. 816926 ID: 0f0804

rolled 2, 5, 2 = 9

Is that Eelfolk settlement a short travel away? If so Vos would like to forego the feast to visit the place and see if he can help their inbreeding problem (with Tittivila's blessing).

>ship is crowded
Standing offer to anybody who wishes to share a bunk.
No. 817010 ID: d36af7

>Does the training focus affects the balance of magical / physical specialization? Or is it just simply what things she would get better at.
I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. In Pathfinder terms, I'm asking you to define skill and feat selections from a practical standpoint rather than rooting through splatbooks. In GURPS terms, I'm asking you to spend at least a dozen character points on skills and learnable advantages. Magical Child gets 4+int modifier skill points per level, and everybody gets a feat at third level, so you could potentially be taking some class skill you don't have any points in and adding three points to it, plus Skill Focus, thereby improving the skill modifier by 9 points. In GURPS, that's the equivalent of going from a default skill of 6 ("saw somebody do this on TV once") to 15 (above average even among competent professionals), probably costing 16 character points, overnight. One character point is the equivalent of 200 hours of skilled instruction, meaning something like eight hours a day five days a week for a month, or at a less intensive pace, taking a typical college class for a semester. Might even have a couple points left over for some other skills.

Helen's leveling up to 2 as soon as she gets a good night's sleep, and everybody else is level 3, so similar questions all around. Yisheng Ji is almost up to level 4.

>a 500 strong army
Just as a technical quibble, the bandits weren't 500 strong. Barely even 150.
>Roughly a hundred infantry, thirty or forty light cavalry, one low-to-mid level magic user.

Cavalry isn't too useful in a siege or amphibious assault, and Eckton has a strong defensive position from the land side. Given the resources visible, the bandits were probably going to lose even if you didn't get involved. They were mostly planning to serve as a distraction, to set up a flanking attack after subverting Eckton's aquatic allies, but eelmen never arrived to fight on either side... or at least, haven't done anything you noticed yet.

>Is that Eelfolk settlement a short travel away? If so Vos would like to forego the feast to visit the place and see if he can help their inbreeding problem (with Tittivila's blessing).
Sun's down, but there's enough moonlight on the waves to spot sandbars and atolls for Viste to hop between, helping Vos get out and back in time.
>rolled 2, 5, 2 = 9
Unfortunately, either the directions were faulty or the eelfolk settlement has been abandoned. Also missing? Most of those little fishing boats loaded with Eckton's noncombatants.
>A list of what magic she's willing and able to use would be appreciated
Third circle: Aqueous Orb (10' diameter ball of water, can roll around at her command for a minute or so, scoop people up and maybe drown them, extinguish fires, etc.), Flame Arrows (50 arrows or crossbow bolts per casting burn but are not consumed; not much use without bows to launch 'em), Linnorm's Flight (as Fly but self-only, lasts 10 minutes per level)
Second circle: Acid Arrow (leaves a mild-looking burn but usually causes convulsions, coma, and death in short order by messing up blood chemistry; nanites helped a lot there), Arrow Eruption (only useful when you kill somebody outright with a solid projectile, basically turns the corpse into a fragmentation bomb), Contact Deep One, Contact Nightgaunt, Resist Energy, Whispering Wind.
First circle: Endure Elements, Grasping Corpse (reanimate a very temporary zombie, only lasts long enough to stand up, walk maybe ten yards, and grab someone, falls limp again when they get free; handy combo with Arrow Eruption), Mage Armor, kiss-variant Mindlink, Polypurpose Panacea, and True Strike.
She's also got a metamagic feat that lets her cast "self-only" spells on someone else as a 10-minute ritual involving a tea ceremony kit and bodily fluid contact, with concomitant disease risk. Privacy and a relaxing environment are preferable but not strictly required. Most common use is applying Polypurpose Panacea as a bribe, since it can treat minor medical problems, or get someone high with no hangover or other side effects.
The ice shard was a minor effect enhanced with True Strike. She's not inclined to list all the minor effects she can do, since that would take all day and most of them aren't good for much, but she does show off the ability to conjure arbitrary origami animals by snapping her fingers. They're as fragile as ordinary folded paper, and return to dust after an hour or so.
No. 817047 ID: 0e104f

If there's a feat or skill focus that would help Maru improve on bar fight style brawls, using a throw anything style of combined headbutts, thrown chairs, and dirty tricks, I'd like to grab that. Focusing on expanding on the social aspects of her skill set like rallying others, would be good- might be nice to get a sort of demoralizing presence or something similar in terms of spell or ability. I like the idea of a flame theme as I level her up, to match her fiery personality. Let me know what you think is appropriate.
No. 817064 ID: d36af7

>throw anything
Did you mean http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/throw-anything-combat-final ? Or possibly http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/catch-off-guard-combat
No. 817068 ID: 0e104f

I was thinking of the throw anything feat, but I like the catch off guard feat better- Maru is more melee than ranged.
No. 817078 ID: d36af7

On a less chatbot-y note, Ratbag Amphoranung's signature move is http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/deadly-stroke-combat and Maru could reasonably have Weapon Focus (summoned axe) and Dazzling Display as prerequisites working toward that. Or alternatively, assuming Int 13+ and some practical refinement of the aforementioned hypervigilance, Combat Expertise and Improved Dirty Trick. As for the fire theme, best match I can find at a glance is http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/racial-feats/scorching-weapons-combat-ifrit/ with further upgrades available at 7th level.

You also gain a rage power, which is granted to anyone who benefits from the axe's song. Kind of a long list, lemme cut it down to manageable chunks for you.
Fire theme:
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/barbarian/rage-powers/paizo-rage-powers/elemental-rage-lesser-su (you don't technically meet the prerequisite, but it's close, and I'm not exactly running an official Paizo-sponsored tournament here)
su-1 (same)
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/barbarian/rage-powers/paizo-rage-powers/infernal-blood-lesser-su/ (probably the best fit to the backstory)


Drugs theme:

No. 817134 ID: 0e104f

After looking at the rage powers, I do think infernal fits both the theme, and is better for group raging- might have been tempted to choose something like intimidating glare or brawler if it affected just Maru, but I like the image of Maru playing a power chord on her guitar and everyone's weapons bursting into flames.

I believe I also get a new cantrip and a new first circle spell- how does "unwittingly ally" and "comprehend languages" sound?

As for skill point focus, Maru would put emphasis first on preform (oratory), then intimidate, then a jack of all trades smattering of points in roguish things like bluffing and diplomacy, as well as wildnerness things like survival, mundane medical skill, and handling animals.

Based on her daily use abilities, I assume you're treating her as though she has a charisma of 16- if this is a ten point buy system that's everything she's got so she wouldn't have int 13. If it's a 15 point buy she'd probably have everything average with bonuses to Con and Dex, and if she had more than that I'd probably bump up strength and Dex again- so she probably doesn't have an above average intelligence score without racial bonuses and a lot of ability points.

Yisheng Ji is already level 3, so I think we mainly need to hear for the eelman and the cyber gnoll
No. 817178 ID: af6e04

I guess Vos will focus on honing his Coral Snake Style wrestling.

For Helen, I guess the wizardy route would make the most sense?
No. 817189 ID: d22dc0

What do you think about something similar to the archaeologist class archetype from pathfinder? You're basically a bard, with all the spells and bonuses to knowledge checks, but anything based on music or performance skills is replaced with roguish abilities to evade traps and damage. It's the first thing that came to mind when I though of Helen, given that it's a nice mix of knowledge, magic, and dungeoneering.

No. 817192 ID: 3abd97

>Unfortunately, either the directions were faulty or the eelfolk settlement has been abandoned. Also missing? Most of those little fishing boats loaded with Eckton's noncombatants.
Sounds like a backstab to me. Instead of helping the bandits take the town as agreed, the eelfolk snatched up the vulnerable noncoms and ran off with them to solve their inbreeding problem.

>I'm asking you to define skill and feat selections from a practical standpoint rather than rooting through splatbooks
I feel like there may be an implicit assumption I would know what I'm about doing the later. But okay, just things I'd like my character to be better at? Let's throw a few ideas at the wall and see what sticks.

Any hypothetical training montage would almost certainly include swordplay, and studying her new (compared to how long she's been practicing with a sword, anyways) magical discipline under her familiar's tutelage. Dav's a a bit of a perfectionist and would certainly keep honing her skills.

Speaking of the familiar, something that allowed more active synergy with it might be neat. I'm assuming that after sufficient fearsome evolution it will be able to function as an eidolon fighting alongside her in vigilante mode, but in the meantime, and in social mode, it's a mobile and intelligent creepy critter that could be hidden under loose clothes on her in person at any time. I feel like there must be some way to use that to ones advantage.

Something that exploits or takes advantage of the tangibility mutation could be cool. Something like a pokemon-style double team? Or being able to more reliably / safely clip through objects when she wanted to. Or maybe some kind of metal discipline feat that makes managing her own emotions easier, and indirectly allows better gaming of the mutation.

One idea I had was to rip off that obsidian butterflies spell we heard that neogi caster had (re-skinned to be energy constructs, or mobile holes in space with sharp edges, instead of stone) as a crowd control option, although I'm guessing that effect is second or third circle.

If weapon specializations are a thing, I feel like there must be a thing that rewards you for specializing in a specific weapon beyond the class of weapons it belongs to. Something that plays to or takes advantage of the seriously expensive ancestral blade.

I imagined Helen might be more occult researcher than archaeologist, but that's a neat idea.

Trying to think of what niche Helen fits, I was thinking she might eventually turn into something like Egon was in the ghostbusters cartoon, or any madgirl in Girl Genius. She's be pushing knowledge to its limits, jury rigging solutions to out of context problems (only with magic, instead of tech).
No. 817211 ID: fc3fc0

if you're looking for stuff that emphasizes your familiar, there's a feat called "evolved familiar" that allows you to choose from a variety of low level improvements; most of them didn't seem too thematically appropriate, but one ability called scent allows your familiar to sniff out enemies and other things within 30ft- I liked the image of your centipede senses alerting you to nearby danger that Viste or Davina might not normally catch. An extra pair of nostrils watching your back.

There's a chain of feats called eldritch heritage which allow you to tap into magical powers of your bloodline (or in your case, the bloodline of a strange outsider who shares your body). There's a few different ones that are thematic and interesting- the "ectoplasm" bloodline, which could easily be reskinned as more starbeast and less ghost-goo, gives you the ability to first make an attack that entangles people, then as it's upgraded it lets you make attacks with tendrils of ectoplasm which can also carry your spells and can reach further than you normally, and finally at the capstone it lets you transform into a flying "insubstantial, misty, and translucent" cloud- again, easily reskinned as your ethereal form rather than slimer from ghost busters.

Another one of these bloodlines that I thought might fit was the harrow bloodline, that lets you confuse a target for a round so they can't choose how they act (according to pathfinder rules- probably doesn't work quiet the same way in game here), gives you a bonus to saving throws, lets you gain a +4 bonus to a random ability score, which basically means +2 on rolls based on that skill for a few minutes. The capstone for this one is really cool " At 15th level, your otherworldly connection is so strong that your subconscious cleaves off a small portion of the Harrowed Realm for use as your own private sanctuary". Basically you get access to your own personal demi plane, a place where time does not pass while you're not there, meaning it can serve as a pretty effective prison/ hospital. I'm sure there's lots of other cool things you can do with a bubble of frozen time but that's what first comes to mind.

Amateur swashbuckler might be good- swashbuckler class is based around using weapons like a rapier, and the feat gives you ability to choose from some extra combat options, one of them being the parry and riposte ability that allows you to turn an attack against you into an attack against your assailant.

Arcane strike gives you the ability to apply a small but free damage boost, and lets your weapons count as magic which can be useful for harming enemies who are otherwise immune to mundane weapons.

Piranha strike lets you choose to take a small penalty to accuracy in exchange for a slightly larger bonus to damage

There's a lot of other good feats but those stuck out to me

>occult researcher vs archaeologist
The name of the class wasn't really the motivating feature- more-so the focus on knowledge skills, which basically translates over too "I'm great at research". Doing little on the spot gadgetry would be pretty cool though.

Side note, I just found the feat I wanna take at level 5 http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/general-feats/wasp-familiar/
No. 817221 ID: b0bc40

I'm not sure why we're putting all this meta build discussion in the main thread, but if this is the place for it, here are my two cents.

>Davina and Viste
Davina and Viste are dex-based characters with probably average strength, whose style of swordplay runs in the family. With that in mind, it wouldn't be a stretch for their ancestral blade to qualify as being a finessable weapon, and therefore making use of Weapon Finesse to use Dex to hit instead of Str. Having Weapon Finesse and Weapon Focus with the weapon in question (which they most likely do) qualifies them for taking Slashing Grace, which goes one step further and allows them to add their Dex to damage instead of Str. http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/slashing-grace-combat/

That is, of course, assuming the ancestral blade itself is not an Agile weapon, which it could very well be if it is a finessable heirloom. http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/magic-weapons/magic-weapon-special-abilities/agile/

I'm not sure what Coral Snake style fully entails, but as a custom style for someone with high charisma as he does, it might be very interesting and flavorful to stat it as a modified version of the Kraken style feat tree, using Cha instead of Wis.
No. 817237 ID: d36af7

Lot of that's covered by full BAB progression.

> I'm assuming that after sufficient fearsome evolution it will be able to function as an eidolon fighting alongside her in vigilante mode
Not exactly. It keeps pace with skills, saves, and BAB, and gains DR and improved evasion to compensate for only having half as many hit points, but it's still going to be tiny, which puts some serious limits on weapon size and leverage and so on. More of a sidekick, flanker, or scout than a powerhouse in it's own right.

>some kind of metal discipline feat that makes managing her own emotions easier, and indirectly allows better gaming of the mutation.
Something like a technique for opting in and out of some extreme emotion on short notice, so you could become fully intangible at will? Ideally some combat-effective sort of emotion, like berserk rage. Maybe something like, I dunno, a song that only affects willing allies? Changing whether you're "willing" would logically be a free action.

>that obsidian butterflies spell
Just a reskinned Magic Missile, actually, inspired by the classic Exalted area-attack http://rathess.xi.co.nz/exalted/index.php/Spells:Death_of_Obsidian_Butterflies
No. 817248 ID: d36af7

>eldritch heritage
Yeah, that sounds particularly appropriate. How about this: retroactively say Dav/Viste took Skill Focus (Stealth) back at first level, Eldritch Heritage (Ectoplasm) now, and that entangling ectoplasm power also catches on the weave of space, anchoring the target to their current position if they're on the ground or catching them like Feather Fall if they're plummeting... though it still can't be used reflexively without a readied action, and may miss.

Later on, after getting in touch with some deeper cosmic forces, you can pick up Mythic Eldritch Heritage, but, because I like that 'Harrowed Realm sanctuary' (and personal demiplanes in general) but not the rest of the Harrowed stuff quite so much, you get a variant: Black Tentacles is upgraded to Mythic Black Tentacles, acid damage and all, centered on the door to your sanctum whenever said door is open. To have one without the other is as inconceivable as a mouth to be open without the lips being apart, for exactly that same reason. http://falsemachine.blogspot.com/2013/02/still-tor-men.html

>why we're putting all this meta build discussion in the main thread
Most quests have IC stuff in the main thread and OOC stuff in the disthread, but for this one it seems more appropriate to consider character development part of the 'immediate action,' saving the disthread for long-term plans, characters not yet instantiated, and OOC stuff about the broader setting.
No. 817249 ID: d36af7

>eldritch heritage
Yeah, that sounds particularly appropriate. How about this: retroactively say Dav/Viste took Skill Focus (Stealth) back at first level, Eldritch Heritage (Ectoplasm) now, and that entangling ectoplasm power also catches on the weave of space, anchoring the target to their current position if they're on the ground or catching them like Feather Fall if they're plummeting... though it still can't be used reflexively without a readied action, and may miss.

Later on, after getting in touch with some deeper cosmic forces, you can pick up Mythic Eldritch Heritage, but, because I like that 'Harrowed Realm sanctuary' (and personal demiplanes in general) but not the rest of the Harrowed stuff quite so much, you get a variant: Black Tentacles is upgraded to Mythic Black Tentacles, acid damage and all, centered on the door to your sanctum whenever said door is open. To have one without the other is as inconceivable as a mouth to be open without the lips being apart, for exactly that same reason. http://falsemachine.blogspot.com/2013/02/still-tor-men.html

>why we're putting all this meta build discussion in the main thread
Most quests have IC stuff in the main thread and OOC stuff in the disthread, but for this one it seems more appropriate to consider character development part of the 'immediate action,' saving the disthread for long-term plans, characters not yet instantiated, and OOC stuff about the broader setting.
No. 817253 ID: af6e04

Kraken style seems surprisingly fitting. Perfect!

Archaeologist is a very good suggestion and pretty in-line with what I had in mind during character generation. Though I think at this point I'd rather tend more toward
>Egon from the ghostbusters cartoon
with more focus on arcana and less on dungeoneering.
No. 817270 ID: d36af7

>Hore's current skill list
TBH I don't actually keep detailed records of everybody's skills. D&D/Pathfinder, Exalted, and GURPS all provide reference points for how competent somebody should be, based on how much training and experience they've had and how that compares to average chumps, competent professionals, or legendary masters. I'm cross-referencing those, holistically estimating specific skills as they come up. Anything obviously directly relevant to your character's specialty, you'll be as good at as an optimized Pathfinder character (of the given class, level, etc.) reasonably could be. Less central, but linked to the backstory and/or specifically trained? Almost that good. Something they couldn't possibly be familiar with, or which you've specifically mentioned them being bad at? Better hope you get an amazing roll.
No. 817352 ID: 3abd97

>evolved familiar
A neat idea, though it might be redundant as long as Hore's canine nose is around.

>Arcane strike
An eventual answer to enemies that don't bleed would be nice. Flavor wise, I was thinking she might eventually be able to fold space around the blade, or do something like http://crawl.chaosforge.org/Distortion http://crawl.chaosforge.org/Warp_Weapon

>Wasp Familiar
You have my wholehearted support. Our familiars can be bug-buddies.

>Slashing Grace
I notice this precludes a second weapon, so it unfortunately wouldn't work if Viste was using a main gauche.

Thank you both for the input, help brainstorming is appreciated.

It had occurred to me that emotion altering allies could be used to force full intangibility. That strikes me as gross control though. I was wondering if there were ways to more reliably do fine manipulations, like when she phased her sword out of the bandit leader. (Might be a moot point if we've seen she can already do it?).

>Just a reskinned Magic Missile, actually, inspired by the classic Exalted area-attack
I was imagining more of an AOE option than the kind of targeted attack MM offers (unleashing a flock of random walking fluttering razors, spreading generally outward from point of origin until they expired). Dav doesn't lack for means to hit a distant enemy, but being pressed by a crowd is potentially a problem.

That and something that's innocuously innocent or elegant looking that will cut you up plus bugs would fit the eldritch magical girl theme I've got.

>Skill Focus (Stealth)
Not something I would have thought of, but it does make sense. A boost to stealth would felicitate stuff like stabbing things from behind, making a surprise attack with a poisoned piece of jewellery, sneaking away to swap between personas.

>Eldritch Heritage (Ectoplasm)
So, flavor wise, creating a small spacial distortion that catches or anchors things? I can dig it. Logically makes sense as something in the same tech tree as portal cutting (a different application of similar principles).

An eventual demiplane sounds awesome, as does Mythic Black Tentacles.

>Spell selection
I'm thinking Endure Elements for first circle (easy to flavor as a phase adjustment, and if Viste is supposed to something of an alien horror, resistance to some environmental factors makes a certain amount of sense).

Kinda stumped on a cantrip. Been browsing lists and I haven't really seen anything that strikes me as very in-theme or as having much utility to this character.

This post is way too long. Bad me.
No. 817381 ID: 094652

I've been going over the kineticist rules, and I feel that Hore's playstyle and build may need a few tweaks.

For starters, you'll notice how I stated that Hore's cybernetic arm overheats instead of developing burn. See, I was thinking about giving Hore a permanent Constitution penalty involving her various cybernetic organs unhealthily pushing into her body, causing complications from even the slightest of wounds, which brings her high constitution down to slightly above average. On the flipside, her cybernetic arm can take temporary burn in the form of overheating, and her cybernetic second liver produces low-grade nanomachines that aren't even remotely reliable in small increments of time, but are scary effective at counteracting against long-duration maladies and injuries, including aging to a certain extent, increasing the success rate of long-term healing to near-perfect. This would explain why a single death ray was enough to fell a woman who hacked an undead giant dire boar to death, and how she cheated death for an entire ten hours.

In particular, the arm is attuned to plasma, which decreases burn of plasma-based attacks by 1 (to a minimum of 1), and far more importantly, channels remaining burn as overheat, which dissipates over time. Since this is somewhat overpowered, there are a few limitations. Hore's arm is physically as durable as she is, but magically distracted, so magic attacks can break the arm like we saw in thread 4 and leave her arm's non-physical powers useless for all intents and purposes. Using a power that is NOT plasma-based, like the flamethrower, accrues burn as normal. Hore COULD attune the arm to fire and get an unlimited use flamethrower, but her arsenal is currently plasma based and she would have to attain the air element focus to attune it back to plasma. And finally, if she overheats the arm, it can shut down, explode, or even misfire in random directions before running out of power, possibly even in her face. Hore's arm in particular has multiple redundant combat-debilitating safety features that prevent the last two things from happening most of the time, and learning how to make her arm safe enough by learning kineticism allows her to disable a few safeties when she levels up. Once she reaches level 7 and learns air-based kineticism, this unlocks her understanding of plasma as a whole and removes some of these detriments, including the ability to cast with two hands with pure overheat instead of half overheat and half body burn.
No. 817478 ID: d36af7

>imagining an AOE version
It doesn't have to be just one spell. You could have the Magic Missile equivalent at first circle, then learn proper Death of Obsidian Butterflies at, say, third circle, and the horrific area-denial Chrysalide Bombardment https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1jmxwx7FPXA-jzWJiv2fyCGeJQGQu2QomFTs5j45mPec#h.5e4g6jlyn8w8 at... maybe fifth?

>flavor wise, creating a small spacial distortion that catches or anchors things?
With an "I'm crushing your head" gesture instead of a blade.

>ways to more reliably do fine manipulations
Will saves, and thus emotional control, improve as you level up. Mutations normally don't. I'll be mostly adapting the GURPS 'extra effort' rules to resolve any tangibility-related stunts, meaning you spend fatigue, then make either a willpower roll or a willpower-modified skill roll, with penalties based on how complex or intensive the stunt is and bonuses based on emotional stimuli. Success means you do something that wouldn't otherwise be possible, failure risks injury, crit failure cripples a relevant limb (not necessarily permanently).

>stumped on a cantrip
You could copy Esmeraude's origami-animal-conjuring spell. Max range is three or four yards, and the results are obviously artificial and temporary under any close inspection, but it can be used to create a paper privacy screen for better-than-nothing camouflage or tactical concealment. Also handy as a supplement to silent communication, since it can conjure semaphore flags, construct a 3d model of things that would take too long to explain any other way, or simply write a note without pen, paper, or ink. Traceless self-destruction after an hour may seem like a frustrating limitation, but it can be an asset in espionage contexts.
No. 817559 ID: 3abd97

Exalted has such fantastically descriptive beautiful horrors.

Sold. I'll take the 1st circle, uh call it Lesser Death of Butterflies for now.

>conjure origami
If it's not restricted to animals per se, and writing / ink on the false paper can be whatever you want it to be, yeah, that's pretty versatile.

Lots of applications for planning sessions: Make a small 3d model of the building or fortress or thing being talked about. Create a temporary copy of a map you've memorized, or an area you've explored. Create origami miniatures of allied and enemy assets to place on a map.

Might also be useful for making fancy napkins or impromptu doilies for an unexpected tea time, if you lacked better materials.

Fits the elegant nobility theme more than the eldritch magic girl one, but that's fine.

>a minor upgrade to your familiar's "vengeful" aspect
So what does vengeful-bug get in addition to a palette swap and heat-shimmer wings now?
No. 817723 ID: d36af7

>Lesser Death of Butterflies
Let's call it "Birth of Obsidian Butterflies," since that gives the three effects a certain cyclical quality when considered together.
>Do Dav's and Maru's spells per day go up from 3 to 4?
>So what does vengeful-bug get in addition to a palette swap and heat-shimmer wings now?
Some minor supernatural attack or enhancement to it's natural bite attack, comparable to the smite power granted by the celestial or fiendish templates, or the curse of a coral capuchin, or a pyrausta's breath weapon. Possibly some other powers, resistances, and/or vulnerabilities, all somehow thematically related to each other. Details negotiable.

>Sounds like a backstab to me. Instead of helping the bandits take the town as agreed, the eelfolk snatched up the vulnerable noncoms and ran off with them to solve their inbreeding problem.
Planning to do anything about that? Tracking down a bunch of eelfolk, out in the ocean, when they don't want to be found, will take, at minimum, several hours. More likely a matter of days, possibly weeks. Certainly (barring some convenient combination of superhuman expertise, magic, and luck) far more time than you have before the ship is scheduled to depart.

Various citizens of Eckton can scrape together a small amount of gold and silver as ransom or reward for the return of their loved ones, or promise a somewhat greater long-term value of various food (mostly fish), goods, and labor. Obviously useful for supporting a military, particularly one stationed at, or within two day's travel of, the town, but probably still not enough to be worth the breach penalties (and reputation hit) the Fire Hawks would take by fully abandoning their current shipping-security gig... unless that brand-new miles-high jungle turns out to have something unreasonably valuable somewhere inside, which Eckton is now ideally positioned to control exclusive access to. In such a case, the townsfolk would be able (and possibly also willing) to reward new allies very generously.

Splitting the party is a plausible option, particularly if Viste and Maru are on the same team, since their powers synergize well for accelerating long-distance travel. If Esmeraude traveled with the other group, and Davina permitted her to conduct some quick, and fairly safe, but disgustingly invasive 'research,' she could develop a new Contact {Entity} variant. That would then allow her to notify Davina's or Viste's familiar of her own identity, location, and willingness to be sought out, from at least a hundred miles away, which would remove a lot of dangerous guesswork from the process of reuniting the two teams. That's a full day's travel along the coast for the ship, or about an hour across any solid ground with clear sight-lines for Viste and Maru working together.

Jank is staying behind regardless. He will gladly assist with any plausible-sounding search-and-rescue plan, but is morally repulsed by contract mercenary work, even of a mostly nonviolent nature. He considers room and board to be an adequate reward for risking his life in service to a woman and her children, whether or not they're blood relatives, and has no use for any wealth beyond what he can easily carry.
No. 817797 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 6, 1 = 11

>Planning to do anything about that?
Absolutely! Vos will ask the townsfolk if they have any watercraft left over that can be used for the search. Any eelman insight into where they might have fled to?
No. 817802 ID: 3abd97

>Planning to do anything about that?
This sounds like something that needs to be decided as a group.

Breaking out contract to protect the merchant ship is a non-starter. In addition to the reputation hit and any contractual penalties we incur, we also lose our means of transporting the quiver of holding for sale (since we can't portal it).

There's also the problem it's fairly late in the day, most of us are tired from battle and dungeon survival (except Ji, probably), and somewhat depleted on uses-per-day limited abilities (and the level ups shouldn't kick in till after we've rested). Inspired song can circumvent the fist problem, but not the second, which would put us at a disadvantage if we did find them quickly.

The initial assessment also doesn't address the logistics problem of transporting... how many? civilian refugees back where they belong. (Estimated size of the eelfolk community we need to either convince or force into releasing their captives is also relevant).

I won't deny that the goodwill and debt of a town that controls access to a brand new dungeon would be useful... but this seems like stretching ourselves too thin. And we lack divinations of the sort to track them down quickly (unless the town has someone of that skillset?). Davina's inclination would be to let this go.

If we do split the group, Viste and Maru would have to be on the away team for tireless fast travel. Vos is probably needed for any hope of peaceful resolution or an alternate solution for the eelfolk (eelsecks, and/or forcing genetic diversity via deity) and it would be damn hard to convince him to stay behind anyways. Ji staying with the merchant ship means that group retains someone who can scout, and both teams have healing. That leaves the escort team somewhat lacking in melee units, though. And I'm honestly uncomfortable taking too many people away from the escort- it's poor planning if we leave too much of the burden of fulfilling our primary mission on the bandit paying us for transport.

And we haven't even addressed the problem of how we're accommodating the Swordsman, yet. He is extremely dangerous, possibly a useful asset, but he has good reason to hold a grudge, and we don't know what motivates him or how he feels about the current situation yet, or if he's willing to defer to and honor the arrangements Esmeraude has made.

tl;dr- splitting the party to pursue this is a mess, but possible, though I'd prefer not to.

Respect. One must hold true to their convictions.
No. 817904 ID: d22dc0

"I'll go. Fink Vos'll go anyway you slice it, and I'm feelin like personally we should intercede. If Dav or Viste wanna join, I guess that's Dav's call to make. You guys probably shouldn't leave the ship all by itself dough. I doubt princess 'ere and our former foe are gonna get much outta a cargo ship, 'specially one without much in de way of good dat can be used to support and supply mens. Maybe dey'll overpower whoevers still onboard and sail away somewhere new, but guess you gotta hedge your bets. Vos, lemme know when we leave."
No. 817929 ID: d36af7

>Any eelman insight into where they might have fled to?
Somewhere wet? But not too wet, if they've got so many guests.
>rolled 4, 6, 1 = 11
Vos does not know local geography well enough to come up with any credible leads on his own.
>any watercraft left over that can be used for the search.
Not really. Anything at all seaworthy was sent out. Locals have relevant skills, and tools, and plenty of lumber of course, so they could start patching up damaged or decrepit boats, or slap together a simple raft. That takes time, though, especially if you want it done right, and most craftsmen don't do their best work late at night after a long, busy day.
>when we leave
How good is Maru at swimming?
No. 817955 ID: fc3fc0

Floats naturally, but not much experience swimming in any body of water large enough to have waves or a current, so not particularly bad at it, but not really skilled either. Not going to spontaneously jump off the boat or anything like that though- she was more weighing in that she figured Vos would do what he wanted regardless of how the crew voted, and that she'd go with him.
No. 817959 ID: d36af7

>the logistics problem of transporting... how many? civilian refugees
Disproportionate number of very young children, so call it the equivalent of a hundred adults. Good news is, they've done this kind of thing before, so they brought along at least a day or two of provisions, and the mayor's apprentice who knows how to magically condense fresh water.

>Estimated size of the eelfolk community
Gods-only-know how many hatchlings, less than a thousand adults total. Less than a hundred adults living full-time within a day's swim of Eckton proper. Nearly all are armed with stone-tipped spears, but they're hunter/gatherers, not soldiers.
>divinations of the sort to track them down quickly (unless the town has someone of that skillset?)
The mayor can do some scrying and dowsing, but she's not much good beyond a couple hundred yards, and has other responsibilities, including administrative stuff and tending to the wounded. If you can follow the trail to a cave entrance or something, she'd be able to confirm whether they're still inside without actually intruding.

>Viste and Maru would have to be on the away team for tireless fast travel
Bosun thinks Viste needs to stay with the ship to counter possible boarding actions.

> I doubt princess 'ere and our former foe are gonna get much outta a cargo ship,
There's about five man-months of q-rations and
>the full value of the cargo (20 tons 'tungsten ingots. mid-grade' @ $400/lb = $16,000,000)
No. 817966 ID: d10e29

Q-rations I missed, those are very valuable to a teaming looking to support an army of hungry bandits. The tungsten I figured had less value- harder to pay your troops wages in tungsten ingots due to weight, size, and trade value compared to coins, jewelry and food. It would also be more difficult for them to sell the tungsten off in bulk, given that whoever the ship makes sales to probably has ways to identify the company they're buying from- normally you don't just ship 20 tons of ingots and hope someone's willing to buy, so there's likely a contractor who will be at least somewhat attentive to the details of who they're buying goods from. One could get around such things with magic, but it's still not easily liquidatable goods. Maru was suggesting though that there's still risks involved, there's not a big motivation for the bandit leader to try to capture the sip, since cargo of that size and value is going to get noticed, and if you have a two person team, or even if they managed to recruit another small fighting force, it's likely not going to be good for them if they get caught.
No. 817973 ID: 3abd97

>Bosun thinks Viste needs to stay with the ship to counter possible boarding actions.
If an away team wants to able to wrap up a search in a reasonable time frame, someone is going to convince him his cargo will still be adequately protected.

>there's not a big motivation for the bandit leader to try to capture the [ship]
Well, there's sticking it to the people who stabbed him in the back, maimed his hand, and messed up his attack plan, if he's not feeling charitable.

(Even if his eelfolk allies leaving him in the lurch, and the Green Tide happening would probably have doomed the assault if we'd done nothing).

>hard to liquidate assets
Even if someone had to sell stolen cargo for cents on the dollar on the black market, that's still a hefty profit for starting from nothing.
No. 817994 ID: af6e04

>If an away team wants to able to wrap up a search in a reasonable time frame, someone is going to convince him his cargo will still be adequately protected.
Don't see why. Viste can stay on the ship, while Davina stays behind in Eckton to help with finding the eelfolk and to help us catch up with the ship after the job's over.
No. 817995 ID: 094652

Hore just STARES at Vos as if he just ate a pack of nega-mentats. There is no way Viste can pull off constant portals between the ship and the coast, even if the ship's captain spontaneously lost his mind and decided to sail at the speed of a sloth. And they are SO not going to pretend that Viste is on the ship by placing a set of armor on display. Hore whispers to Vos, asking what the @#$% he's talking about.
No. 818004 ID: d36af7

>the details of who they're buying goods from
What if he escorts the ship there, lets the sale take place as normal, then steals a dozen Immovable Rods as soon as they're out of port on the way back? Similar price for a bundle that's plausibly small enough for two people to carry while flying, and they'd be easy to move on the black market with shady architects like the Youngmason family around.

How are the two of them supposed to pull that off with only one ancestral portal-cutting sword?
No. 818162 ID: ebaf71

Well Viste doesn't necessarily need the sword to fight.

Vos says he understands if his companions would rather move on, but he can't do so himself in good conscience. His primary goal is helping people and spreading the teachings of Tittivila, and making money is secondary.
No. 818163 ID: ebaf71

Vos also mentions that he thinks ha knows where the eelmen went, based on guidance from his deity.
No. 818168 ID: fc3fc0

Maru clicks her tongue, making a small smoke ring.

"Yous like to be 'elpin people eider way Vos, up to you which people you care more about 'elpin. Not plannin on lettin Vos wander off alone, just so everyone's on board 'ere. If dis is finna be a people style mission dough, might sit dat part out- just volunteering to tag along in case your marshy friends turn out to be less dan friendly. Unless of course dats an insult to your ability as an adventurer- wouldn't wanna offend anyone by suggestin we watch eachofers backs."
No. 818200 ID: 4cf648

Hore isn't going to leave Vos and the others for money, but she's of little use diplomatically and does not like dungeons. She wants to stay in the town and keep an eye on Esmeraude and her creepy boyfriend, guard the area so Vos and Maru can retreat back here with little worry.

(This gives her an opportunity to learn magic from Esmeraude, which unlocks further abilities like fire blast from her organic hand. If you think this is a bad idea just speak up.)
No. 818220 ID: fc3fc0

I believe Esmeraude is probably going to travel with the new Fire Hawks down river on the cargo ship, not stay in town. The crew might have something to stay about Hore deciding to stay behind in town, but if she wants to learn magic from Esmeraude that's probably not the route to go. The young woman might also charge for tutoring services. Maru isn't going to speak out or tell her what she should/shouldn't do at this point and time. She's not feeling particularly committed to keeping everyone together at the moment.

And as a technicality, I personally think it's doubtful the Eelmen are in a dungeon given the information gained form divine providence.
No. 818253 ID: 3abd97

Esmeraude and the man who isn't her boyfriend aren't staying in town. She's paying us to get the two of them out of dodge because they're wanted criminals here.

(Which incidentally, means staying here is bailing on two jobs).

Also, if Hore's afraid of dungeons, why does she want to stay in the little town that now literally has a dungeon looming at the gate, as opposed to simply sailing away as planned?

Davina is visibly perturbed. After being talked into a fight that was never theirs in the first place, getting out dueled by an opponent who by all rights should have died in her opening strike, racing against time to escape a dungeon that appeared out of nowhere... and just when they made it all out, reunited, and even managed to finish the day in the green, half her team seems set on jumping ship.

So now she has to argue with her too-good-for-their-own-good friends instead of being able to sleep.

"Vos, it is not about putting money before people. We made a commitment to see this through, and I cannot turn my back on that. Not if I want to see my other commitments through.

"I feel for the plight of these people, but I do not have the means to cross 30 miles of ocean, without a ship (even assuming you are right). I cannot prevent you from leaving, but I have today once already had to persuade you not to charge headfirst into danger, or without a plan."
No. 818255 ID: d36af7

Vos, and whoever decides to go with him, reach the atoll in question... mmm, probably late afternoon the next day. The civilians are all present and accounted for. They seem to be emotionally devastated, but otherwise in good health. They've got tents set up already and are settling in for a long stay. Most of the fishing boats have been disassembled, the lumber reused.

They're under the impression that Eckton has been overrun by bandits, and their old homes destroyed. When Decaro Vos asserts otherwise, the mayor's apprentice accuses him of being in league with the bandits, says that she can smell Esmeraude Netseth's tainted blood on his breath, and asks (rhetorically) what foul blessing she offered in exchange for him luring these poor people back into a trap.

Past two and a half weeks of travel have been coastal, not riverine. Remainder of the route to Overmire likewise.
>stay in the town and keep an eye on Esmeraude
These are mutually-exclusive goals. Esmeraude is doing her best to get as far away from this town as possible.
No. 818257 ID: d22dc0

I'm surprised Maru is counted in the too-good-for-her-own-good category- originally she was advocating they let the town burn, and they sail on by. Only reason she joined in was to provide back up for Viste and Vos so that if things went south your exit wouldn't be blocked. Even then she wasn't that interested in helping the people- she just wanted to satisfy Vos and help keep her people safe. She's volunteering to help Vos for the same reason- she's also somewhat motivated by the nature of peril the citizens are in. She dislikes most townsfolk in general, on the ingrained assumption that they'd probably refuse her the time of day, even turn on her for gain given the chance, so just fuck everyone in general, but she has a special hatred for rapists. And usually when you kidnap people to solve your breeding problem, there's going to be less than enthusiastic and ongoing consent. So she doesn't have any sort of moral or idillic stake, and would be fine if the Eel-folk were taking to townsfolk to eat or some other more gruesome act, but this particular scenario she's a little bit grudgey about. If they hadn't been in a life or death dungeon, having already seen Hore's capabilities in a fight, it is likely Maru would have been upset enough to attempt to maim/kill her after the displays she saw. Had a scene planned out and everything for if she caught a wiff or Hore doing anything like that in town. It's a touchy subject for Maru, and she takes that kinda thing very personally, regardless of whether she has any personal involvement in it or not.
No. 818312 ID: d22dc0

rolled 2, 5, 2 = 9

Whoops- that's right, we just left the coastal city. Obviously not in a river.

In keeping with what she said early, given that no one else is joining him, Maru went with Vos. As such, she's privy to the conversation going on.

"Look mates, I ain't 'ere to force you to do anyfing. You believe whats you want to believe, we just wanted to make sure de folks taken by de Eel-men weren't in need of rescuin. Given dat I don't see anyone 'eld 'ostage or anyfing like dat, I figure you all can work fings out yourselves. If it 'elps prove anyfing, we're wif de Fire 'Awks, who, if you alls familiar wif de old members, aren't pushovers. Got de badges right 'ere. After de fighting stopped, we met up wif Inspector Trihs and Gorsk, who've apparently been eatin togefer for de past decade. We talked to de mayor about recompence for helpin turn de bandits away- older woman wif a big 'at, and she 'ad a monk wif dese big ol' bug eyes. Dere was a feast wif de main dish bein chick stew, we came from de big boat off de coast of de town if dat's familiar to anyone- figured it would be best if we all intervened. Vos 'as de sorceresses stink on 'im after she got 'erself caught in 'is jaws. Up to you what you wanna believe, but I'm happy to answer any questions or try to verify what we're sayin. I understand you can do a little magic- can't 'appen to compel truf or anyfing like dat, right? Would certainly make dis business a lot faster if you knows we ain't lying about de town bein safe."

Rolling a persuasion check to convince the Mayors apprentice we're telling the truth.
No. 818319 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 5, 5 = 13

So...they're not being held captive by eelmen? If that's the case, there's really not much for us to do here. The people of Eckton can come get their noncombatants themselves when time permits. I guess I'll do a quick roll to see if I can spot anything amiss, but I'd rather not spend too much time here.
No. 818427 ID: d36af7

>convince the mayor's apprentice
>rolled 2, 5, 2 = 9
Success! Unfortunately, she doesn't want you to go on to convince anyone else.
>I'm happy to answer any questions
Who were your parents, stranger? Are those horns under your hair?

>they're not being held captive by eelmen?
>spot anything amiss
>rolled 3, 5, 5 = 13
Vos has the right combination of OOC knowledge, firsthand observation, and theological education, for the underlying plot to suddenly make sense to him at this point. Eckton's noncombatants are being held in a cage made of saltwater, deception, and despair, rather than a more conventional type made from iron and violence or the threat of violence. Ever since Mishka the Wolf-Spider was cut down on the Fields of Pesh, none have doubted that the greatest jewel among Dagon's manifold wisdom is patience. The local eelmen intend to keep their captives as safe and well fed as reasonably possible, allowing children to grow up accustomed to isolation and dependence. Eventually they'll want sex, and the Westermarck effect will rule out all the accessible humans. Typically the spawn of a human and an eelman is an aquatic elf, whose beauty may help overcome any lingering stigma. Three or four generations later, the inbreeding problem is solved.
No. 818441 ID: fc3fc0

rolled 1, 6, 4 = 11

>Who are your parents, are those horns

"Yep. Forgot to tuck dose away."
Maru will take some time to wrap her horns in cloth while answering the other question.

"Closest fing I 'ad to parents were a group of ythakite orcs- sort of a brothers band, only dey were a bit removed from dere culture. Don't really see 'ow dats relevant, or any of your business dough. I suppose you 'ave de upper 'and 'ere, what wif bein a friendly face dese people will trust and all, but is dere any sort of good reason not to let dese folk know dere 'omes are safe? I wouldn't mind 'avin a town to fall back on where people treat me nice like for a change, so I fink it's in my better interest to earn de gratitude of de familys of Eckton if I can."

Rolling to stay on alert in case the apprentice tries anything hostile- normally people who ask about Maru's horns and lineage aren't doing it out of curiosity, so she's a little wary here.
No. 818448 ID: af6e04

>retroactive diplomacy
Gonna go ahead and roll to try to convince the bosun to let Viste come with us
No. 818449 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 2, 3 = 9

for real this time
No. 818521 ID: d36af7

Yeah, she's calling you a liar and demon-spawn and various other unsavory things, claiming you're trying to lure them back into a trap, interrupting when you try to say anything complicated. Basically pushing Maru to either escalate, or depart.
Offering any bribes or concessions to balance that request?
No. 818526 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 5, 6 = 17

>Offering any bribes or concessions to balance that request?
Well whatever cash I have would probably be an insulting pittance for risking the security of the ship. But Vos will tell the bosun that Tittivila will look kindly upon him for facilitating a good deed.

>Task at hand
Yeah, the mayor's apprentice has an ulterior motive. What's her aura look like?

>says that she can smell Esmeraude Netseth's tainted blood on his breath
"This is true. How do you know the smell of Esmeraude's blood?"

>cage made of saltwater, deception, and despair
Unfortunately, this means we have made things a lot worse by coming out here ourselves. Now the civilians will think the bandits know their location, and the mayor's apprentice will have cause to convince them to move before the Eckton militia can come and confirm our story. In retrospect, probably should have just told the militia about this place and moved on.

To clarify, are there any eelmen present here at all or did they just guide the civilians to this place and leave? Vos will ask to speak with the eelmen if possible, since the current conversation doesn't seem like it's going anywhere.
No. 818594 ID: d36af7

>"This is true."
"So you admit to conspiring with the bandits!"
>"How do you know the smell of..."
>rolled 6, 5, 6 = 17
Vos's line of questioning is interrupted when the mayor's apprentice jabs exactly the wrong part of his chest with an accusatory fingertip.
>What's her aura look like?
Aura sight is temporarily offline. Ow.

>are there any eelmen present here
A few carrying baskets of kelp and fresh fish, or helping set up the camp. One seems to be doing a hand-puppet show to entertain the kids.

>Tittivila will look kindly upon him
>rolled 4, 2, 3 = 9
Decaro Vos described certain blessed possibilities so eloquently that the initially disinterested bosun will probably be plagued by oddly tempting Cronenbergian dreams for years afterward, but the answer is still no.

>speak with the eelmen if possible
On land, or down below?
No. 818612 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 2, 3 = 9

>plagued by oddly tempting Cronenbergian dreams for years afterward
Haha yes, gotta appreciate the small victories at least

>Aura sight is temporarily offline. Ow.
Vos snarls at the mayor's apprentice and clamps his arms over his chest. Fighting back the tears running down his belly, he turns at once and slithers off to find somebody more pleasant.

>One seems to be doing a hand-puppet show to entertain the kids.
Vos doesn't have the heart to interrupt this, but...

>On land, or down below?
Down below, he probably has a better chance of getting a complete sentence in when there are no humans within earshot. Vos will say that he has important news regarding the siege on Eckton.
No. 818631 ID: d36af7

>Down below
>important news regarding the siege on Eckton
The eelfolk already know who really won that battle, and they don't feel so great about the whole 'web of lies' thing. Dagon revealed it to be the best option for their long-term survival, and sometimes you've just got to do the dirty deed that's asked of you, with faith it'll turn out for the best. Not that it's hard to say how other paths might be worse in this case, given Eckton's chronic ingratitude, and Esmeraude's shortsighted pursuit of "draconic transcendence" by way of her own baser urges. Even if some of the humans wise up and leave, the remainder should become even more dedicated afterward, a process similar to evaporative cooling.

They'd like to have peace between Tittivila and Dagon, maybe even an alliance someday, but if the only way to make this plan work, here and now, is to kill and eat some knight who doesn't know when to shut up and walk away... let's just say, willingness to act when the time is right, is the essential factor distinguishing divine patience from mere rotten cowardice.

>rolled 4, 2, 3 = 9
Vos is not intimidated, but he IS significantly outnumbered.
No. 818642 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 5, 4 = 13

Vos explains that, due to a combination of intervention from him and his companions and a very convenient geomantic occurrence, Eckton's men-at-arms have suffered very minor losses from the battle. "They know where you are hiding their families. They will find you, web of lies will unravel, and sea shall be stained with blood. I only wish to prevent this, but if you feel you must silence me then so be it. Who will be first to try their luck?"
No. 818652 ID: 094652

rolled 5, 3, 4 = 12

Hore has tried to stay quiet, but the looks on the eelmens' faces are all too familiar.

"Vos, it's time to go. Believe me. To the tribes, family is everything. You insult that, and you are indistinguishable from their worst enemy. Vos, please.

Chief, we will go. You think about what he has said, and we will go."
No. 818776 ID: ebaf71

Hore is right, Vos will withdraw and immediately set out with his companions back for Eckton. He'll explain the situation to the mayor exactly as it is, mentioning his suspicions that their apprentice is in on the scheme. That's all the help he can really give.

Any chance of catching our ship at this point?
No. 818805 ID: d36af7

>Any chance of catching our ship at this point?
If Viste leaves the ship at dawn on day 22 (effective portal range is reduced considerably in the absence of daylight), heads south along sandbars and rocky outcroppings to Eckton, then has Maru's speed/endurance boost for the return trip, you'd probably be back on the ship before 10 AM. Fortunately no serious excitement until almost another week after that.

There's another piece of mail to deliver, a letter from one of Philista's priests to the slightly reclusive sage Deros Frist, loaded with technical questions (mostly related to that damaged force-wall projector) which are both urgent and strategically sensitive. This letter must be given to the sage directly, absolutely not entrusted to some fallible local courier or domestic servant, and the hand-off must be witnessed by someone who can confirm the recipient's identity.

Fortunately, Yisheng Ji once met the sage in question, over the course of his prior studies and travels, and has not just sufficient skill at recognizing faces, handwriting, and various other biometric factors, but also every bit of the unimpeachable professional integrity necessary to be entrusted with such a task.

The sage lives in a squarish stone tower, sixty feet high and thirty feet wide apart from the slightly wider ground floor, on a low hill a few miles inland. Matter of minutes to find the place with portals. Two chimneys, in the middle of the east and west walls, back door just north of the west chimney, front door facing south from that wider section of the ground floor. Garden full of cabbages and strange herbs, laundry rack loaded with threadbare gray robes, stack of firewood, latrine, some sort of toolshed. Seems quiet, but not suspiciously so.
No. 818807 ID: 094652

rolled 1, 3, 6 = 10

Azure is depressed about her slow learning curve. You'd think that being forced into a gilded prison would be the best learning spot of all. This time, she'll try to learn a skill from one of her friendly inmates, and teach them the art of healing in turn.
No. 818856 ID: af6e04

rolled 5, 2, 3 = 10

Who's accompanying Ji for this trip? I assume it's something best handled alone.

Upon party reunion and over the course of the week...

Vos offers Davina a sincere apology. He says he acted so brashly because he believes Tittivila may be disappointed in him due to his consistent failure to perform the tasks she's put in front of him, bringing up the admonition he received in the forest dungeon. But he's learned a valuable lesson about diving headfirst into a messy situation with nothing but good intentions to guide him.

Also also, since the bosun was interested and Vos no longer has any ulterior motives, I'll roll for evangelism/seduction.
No. 818857 ID: af6e04

rolled 5, 3, 3 = 11

Helen is trying to adjust to seasickness, her new life as a mercenary, and the slow, maddening crawl of time as every second that she spends sitting around on this ship instead of seeking out a cure to her curse slips away into oblivion.

She distracts herself by badgering Hore with questions about her cybernetics all day.
No. 818865 ID: 094652

Hore decides to explain everything she knows about the subject to her new teammate, while simultaneously learning magic theory from Helen and Esmeraude. Hopefully, between the three of them, they can make a breakthrough of some kind.

Take twenty, as this conversation takes place over a week. This means research rewards are small but guaranteed.
No. 818876 ID: 3abd97

>If Viste leaves the ship at dawn on day 22 [...]
Makes sense if we assume Esmeraude was asked to contact Vos on the end of day 21.

>Vos offers Davina a sincere apology.
"I'm sorry you couldn't be more successful. It sounds as if it had become a problem of politics and rather than a simple rescue. Though I am relived you were able to reunite with us so quickly. Leaving the three of you behind would have cast a shadow over the rest of this trip."

Davina makes up with Vos and welcomes him back with a hug owed >>/questarch/803413

Her familiar takes advantage of this moment to welcome Vos back by taking up residence on top of his head.

>Who's accompanying Ji for this trip? I assume it's something best handled alone.
I'd think several members of the team (anyone who wants to) could accompany Ji ashore in case we find trouble, but I agree, the actual delivery and initial contact is probably best left to the person who actually knows the intended recipient of the letter.

>other stuff to retroactively take care of before day 28 happens
How did we get the bandit leader settled / how are we treating him? I imagine some kind of http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2005-05-28 moment needs to occur and a judgement call made as if we're transporting him as a prisoner or a passenger based on his reaction. (Also learning his name would be nice).

Davina will approach Maru sometime after the away team returns, and try to get her to open up as to just what happened when the group found the dungeon exit. Focused on listening- given Maru a chance to vent and be heard. If Maru does open up, Davina will try and explain what the others were thinking otherwise, and the reality of money-fueled resurrections mean no one was being as cavalier with Ji's life as Maru thought. And the extend that funds translate to the company being able to take care of its members.

(Basically trying to have this conversation >>/questdis/113702 , >>/questdis/113712 , >>/questdis/113715 , >>/questdis/113720 , >>/questdis/113727 , >>/questdis/113748 in-character instead of OOC).
No. 818891 ID: fc3fc0

By the end of their "rescue" efforts, Maru was more interested beating out a public apology from the mayors apprentice than playing the hero for a bunch of townsfolk in hopes of some sort of kick back. It might be for the best that they decided to leave before she escalated the situation further.

Maru is perfectly happy with life on the sea, and is almost certainly unwelcome and unnecessary for mail delivery. If Helen goes with Ji though, might give her some time off the boat, and give us a chance to get a better read of her character given that we've only just met really.

Heart to heart is had, and Maru internally realizes that no one was being as callous or flippant as she thought. Externally she still puts on a huffy front, but concedes that she's not really used to the idea of being able to literally buy back lives, so maybe she's over-reacting. Still could have taken a little extra time to look for less risky options, but it's in the past, and she feels that it's best not to dwell on things that didn't happen. Everyone's okay, and that's what matters, this time at least. Peace in our time.

After having the talk with Davina, Maru goes to try and smooth things over with Ji, see what she can do to make up for things. If at any point, the subject of Maru trying to punch Ji comes up, she does her best to explain that she thought he was being led astray by an effect of the death trap, and was just doing what she could to try and protect everyone. She's never had malicious intentions or ill will towards him. Hopefully after she was protesting so loudly in the dungeon, it's clear exactly how she feels, despite how she might sometimes act.

Spending free time continuing the somewhat dramatized & poetic chronicle of their adventure, with an emphasis on Maru's heroics. Parsing it down to the juicy bits:

Their heroic charge into town

Maru rallying the guards to route the charge of the remaining bandits against Davina and Vos

The "surrender" of the evil and monsterous half-snake bandit leader once he realized he was surrounded and outnumbered

Him betraying that surrender to preform one last treacherous deed, channeling the spilled blood into a horrifying jungle palace, which was his real goal all along

Our heroes, hopelessly lost, spiraling ever closer to doom and despair as they began falling one by one to disease and traps in this foul place

Vos nobly sacrificing himself to destroy the horrifying snake-man abomination after he ambushed them and revealed his true form

Maru, the last one standing, exhausted and all but fallen, finding the exit just in time, and pulling them out to be greeted as heroes by the towns folk, eventually recovering from most of their wounds thanks to the good doctor

Spending the night feasting and reveling, with a happy ending for all. Expect the slaughtered townsfolk and fallen guards. So just everyone important really.
No. 818934 ID: d36af7

>Who's accompanying Ji for this trip?
Helen because "sage" means library and "tower" means solid ground, Viste for speed, and one or at most two others.
No. 818953 ID: d36af7

Hore discovers that she and Esmeraude have been using different vocabulary for the same basic alchemical concepts, while Helen uses the same words as Esmeraude, but half of them seem to refer to completely different concepts. Sometimes fiddly mathematical abstractions that add up to the same practical result under almost all reasonably attainable conditions, but in many cases, bizarre nonsensical assumptions or childish errors that even Helen herself recognizes as absurd when they're pointed out. The idea that a particular alloy of lithium, arsenic, and tin becomes hard and brittle when heated, but liquifies and may eventually vaporize in extreme cold. The "zorth" axis, which she can't even coherently explain, but gamely attempts to point at, as if it were an obvious cardinal direction, spraining her shoulder in the process. That sort of thing.

>Vos nobly sacrificing himself to destroy the horrifying snake-man abomination
The man in the ochre coat points out that he had nothing to do with the natural disaster that mostly served to destroy his own army, and also that both he and Vos are still alive, which might cast doubt on the whole saga if it became generally known.

>How did we get the bandit leader settled / how are we treating him?
He's still tangled in Maria's soul-binding knotwork. While that's in place, she claims he can't escalate force more than one step above what's been used against him in the past few minutes, on a scale of:
9)horrific atrocities (lasting curses, torture)
8)lethal weapons (e.g. blades, deadly poison, garottes)
7)nonlethal weapons (e.g. blunt arrows, staves, chemical irritants)
6)"hard" unarmed (punches, kicks)
5)foul imprecations. blatant lies
4)"soft" unarmed (grabbing, leg sweeps)
3)harsh but civilized language, half-truths
2)normal conversation, lies of omission
1)whispers, eye contact, meticulously polite and formal speech
0)disregard and isolation, written words

Somehow, having both arms elaborately tied behind his back has not impaired his ability to eat, drink, or otherwise take care of himself.
>(Also learning his name would be nice).
Esmeraude just addresses him as "cap," short for "captain of the Netseth family's personal guard." He accepts a variety of other titles and nicknames, but any question about his real name or family is deflected or ignored.
No. 818954 ID: b0bc40

rolled 5, 3, 4 = 12

>Yisheng Ji postal service quest
>it's something best handled alone
Alright, time for Yisheng Ji to make himself useful. He'll go regardless of whether anyone accompanies him, though fair warning: if he goes alone, don't be surprised if he is never seen or heard from again takes longer than expected coming back, depending on what kind of danger good company he may encounter. Needless to say, he will sternly instruct Davina not to delay the vessel for his sake if he is slow in returning. After all, it has been a long time since he's met with his old colleague, and he may find reason to stay and socialize for some time. Surely this is nothing unreasonable, considering (and here he raises his eyebrows slightly) the flexibility of schedule having been claimed by other members of the group so far. He assures her he will easily be able to catch up if the ship proceeds without him.

Once Yisheng Ji is sufficiently rested, renewed, and has taken care of his other immediate duties aboard the ship, he will set out. When he reaches the tower, he'll naturally take a precautionary look around for anything particularly unusual before proceding to knock on the front door.

>no one was being as cavalier with Ji's life as Maru thought
˙ ͜ʟ˙
No. 818964 ID: 094652

Charisma is Hore's dump stat, so following Ji might do more harm than good on a messenger mission.

Maru and Davina need to lead the majority of the group, and Vos might still be suffering from depression due to that empathy kiss AND his fellow eels rebuking him. Esmeraude and Cap should be kept in the ship lest they escape or get themselves killed by bounty hunters, and Helen might need some time to cure her seasickness. So Hore suggests he ask Jank, Maria, or Daniel. And of those three, Jank isn't exactly the social type.

Hore tells Maria that if she wants to get away from her for a few hours, this is a good time to escort Ji and show Daniel the sights.

If Ji really wants more backup, Hore and Jank can wait at the base of the tower in case something goes wrong, but that might give a bad impression.
No. 818976 ID: af6e04

rolled 2, 4, 5 = 11

At this point the pieces are starting to fall into place and Helen realizes that her curse may not be fatal by design, but instead may have the purpose of preventing her from coherently retaining and imparting knowledge. An immensely relieving theory, though this still needs to be corrected as soon as possible. Don't know why these two can't understand the simple concept of zorth though.

>"sage" means library and "tower" means solid ground
Helen volunteers immediately.
No. 818978 ID: d36af7

>look around for anything particularly unusual
>rolled 5, 3, 4 = 12
No assassins lurking in the underbrush or outbuildings. The tower's built on a plinth of natural stone protruding about 7' above the surrounding terrain, so the "ground floor" windows are about 10' up and short stone stairs lead to the doors. Most of those herbs in the garden are medicinal, but they're almost all cultivars usually grown in much colder climates, plus one or two that Yisheng Ji can't even recognize.
>knock on the front door.
Did Decaro Vos come along, or no? His aura sight (which has recovered by now) may be significant for this next bit.
No. 818980 ID: 094652

Hore is at the tower's base. She'll be willing to go up if at least three others accompany Ji.
No. 818982 ID: af6e04

>Did Decaro Vos come along, or no?
Sure, assuming Ji invited him.
No. 819023 ID: d36af7

Vos can see two people's auras through the door, probably first-circle divine spellcasters with the Madness and Travel domains. Initially sitting. probably on chairs. When Yisheng Ji knocks, they stand up very suddenly, one vaults over something inanimate in the center of the room and moves quietly into a position behind the door. The other says "Yes? Who is it? Just a moment, I'm coming." A third person appears around a corner in the back of the room, with a weapon ready.
No. 819027 ID: 3d2d5f

>not to delay the vessel for his sake
Davina almost certainly couldn't even if she wanted to, not without significant concessions or breaking the contract and doing so by force.

>He assures her he will easily be able to catch up if the ship proceeds without him.
Ji probably could make pretty good overland / overwater travel time with long wire fu glides.

>probably first-circle divine spellcasters
So neither is likely to be our sage, unless he's adept at concealing his power.

Before anyone charges in, I'd point out we have insufficient information to know if these are allies, acquaintances, or guests of the sage with good reason to be on guard, or if they're interlopers, thieves or enemies occupying the place who will be hostile when found out.

Viste mage armors herself, while waiting to see how Ji identifies himself and how the people inside the tower respond.
No. 819041 ID: d10e29

>people being alive is a story discrepancy

"Doctor saved Vos after we got out- dey can do dat apparently. Also mate, 'ate to break it to yous but you don't really look like you fit de part of snake-man abomination. And if yous didn't perform the blood rites to create a jungle palace over de town of Eckton, den I guess you must just be a different guy.
No. 819102 ID: b0bc40

rolled 1, 3, 1 = 5

>assuming Ji invited him
Yisheng Ji offered no opinion, positive or negative regarding accompaniment, although he perhaps had certain assumptions (such as that not EVERYONE would go). Bringing a small army to deliver mail is absurd, though it seems not everyone feels that way. However, anyone who joined, joined of their own volition without particular influence from Ji one way or another.

In a professional, detached demeanor: "Hired courier delivering mail for the sage Deros Frist. A signature is necessary for delivery before I can be on my way. May I please request he present himself? If he is not present at the moment, please be aware I am obliged to await his return to complete my delivery."
No. 819105 ID: 094652

Hore's ears perk up at the sounds of a scuffle. Sounded like two or three people, and she's sure these sage types are independent hermits. She decides to go in, hoping that Davos isn't dead on the floor but eager to dominate some off-guard amateur assassins.

BTW is Hore's arm fixed yet?
No. 819109 ID: af6e04

>Yisheng Ji offered no opinion, positive or negative
>Bringing a small army to deliver mail is absurd

Well I guess that's a no then. So none of you know about this ambush that's about to befall you. Meanwhile, Vos is out swimming and examining the auras of all the fish instead.
No. 819123 ID: 094652

Too late, gotta commit to your detection power. Sorry.
No. 819173 ID: d36af7

Door opens, revealing a small but tastefully-appointed foyer staffed by three large burly men, human or possibly half-orcs, two in battered military uniforms with faded purple cloaks and one wearing an incongruously frilly maid outfit. "Sage Frist will be down in a moment. Please come in and have a seat. Would you like some tea?"

There are two chairs and a couch positioned around a knee-high table in front of the fireplace, Two other doors, one on either side of the fireplace. Based on Yisheng Ji's recollection from a previous visit, and readily confirmed by casual inquiries or general knowledge of architecture, the nearer door leads through a load-bearing wall of the tower into the library, while the other door leads to the dining room, which is the remaining half of the expanded ground-floor area. Several windows, but they're narrow, barely more than arrow-slits. Not much natural light anyway since it's late in the day and cloudy.
>rolled 1, 3, 1 = 5
These men are no longer in a state of intense readiness to commit violence. Maid in particular is hastily returning a crossbow to it's rack behind the fireplace. All three of them carry short swords; the maid's is in a scabbard positioned such that the handle sticks up behind the back of his neck, so it can't be seen from directly in front, and could be drawn quickly from a position of apparent surrender. Also, the place seems generally untidy, and smells like somebody's been trying to cover up something unpleasant with cheap incense.

>is Hore's arm fixed yet?
Yes, but she's back on the ship, keeping the insatiable sorceress Esmeraude busy and out of trouble. Only Helen, Viste, and Decaro Vos came along with Yisheng Ji to deliver the mail.

When you have your own quest, you can run it however you like. Please stop trying to adjudicate OOC issues in mine.
No. 819277 ID: b0bc40

rolled 3, 5, 2 = 10

>Please come in and have a seat. Would you like some tea?
"Certainly. I would be grateful for a refreshment. May I ask the names of those to whom I am beholden? Are you colleagues of Sage Frist?"

If Yisheng Ji successfully manages to sit down and receive hospitality without being attacked, he'll introduce himself and his companions.
"This one (myself) goes by the name of Yisheng Ji. Please excuse my companions as well. This is Viste, my fellow courier and transportation specialist. The other two (Vos and Helen) are scholars of exotic branches of study who requested to accompany us, seeking to personally meet Sage Frist and/or pay a visit to his acclaimed library in hopes of furthering knowledge in their respective fields."

When he has a good moment, Yisheng Ji will also address the elephant in the room.
"You all seem to be rather heavily armed. Has there been an troubling incident we should be aware of?"
No. 819336 ID: 3abd97

Viste inclines her head in greeting when introduced to their hosts, but is otherwise content to let Yisheng Ji continue to drive the conversation. She will politely decline tea if offered.

Privately, she approves of the fact that someone trusted with strategically sensitive information has wary, armed protectors.
No. 819445 ID: d36af7

>May I ask the names of those to whom I am beholden?
Tilkos (in the maid outfit), Werra (opened the door), and Zard (hid behind it).
>Are you colleagues of Sage Frist?
Humble servants, only.
The tea is of poor quality, but not poisoned.
>rather heavily armed
Tilkos explains, circumspectly, that the sage has a certain spell of the fifth circle which permits instantaneous travel across very great distances, and accordingly has taken the opportunity to study in far-off lands, but has become concerned that the practice of allowing strangers to accompany him on any given jaunt for a modest fee may have unwittingly offended some distant person or group able and willing to seek revenge, even from so far away.

Viste also notes approvingly that anywhere a wall meets the floor, ceiling, or another wall has been filled in with durable mortar so as to present a smooth curve rather than a sharp corner.

Soon enough, Deros Frist comes thumping down some stairs and emerges through the library, then immediately approaches Ms. Nabot and hugs her. "Helen! It really is you! I've been thinking about what you said regarding the Baumhund Conjecture, and frankly you really might be on to something. I was just cross-checking reported 'errors' in observations of the discontinuity, and derived an alternate... oh, where is it? I know I wrote it down somewhere." He looks back toward the library, grimaces. "I really must apologize for my..." he pauses, exchanging a meaningful glance with Zard, "...guards, it's just so difficult to find good help lately."

Helen has never met this man before, nor heard of the 'Baumhund Conjecture,' though that sounds like something she should know.

"You must be Yisheng Ji," the sage bows in an appropriately respectful manner, "I believe I've had the pleasure of your acquaintance before. Accompanied by... if I may hazard a guess, an eshu sword-dancer from the fey Court of Valorous Pearls, and some manner of river-naga who acquired prehensile limbs through the worship of Tittivila? Much as I'd love to offer you all hospitality for the night and hear the full story, I'm afraid my guest bedroom is already occupied, and I heard you had more urgent business. How can I help you?"

In Yisheng Ji's professional opinion as both a doctor and a master calligrapher, Deros Frist's handwriting seems a little bit... off.
>rolled 3, 5, 2 = 10
Not like a forger, exactly, more like somebody re-learning how to write after a stroke, or the amputation of their dominant hand. Looking at the way he holds the pen, it's like he's been studiously imitating his own previous writing rather than moving naturally. He's got the right fingerprints, and the irises of his eyes seem to be the same (shapeshifters tend to miss that kind of thing, even when they're not outright congenitally incapable of accounting for it), but his standing posture is subtly different. More... confident, though the servants implied skittish paranoia, and with none of the hesitance and stiffness from chronic back pain he used to have.
No. 819463 ID: af6e04

Helen politely waits until after Yisheng Ji has handed off the letter before speaking up. "Master Frist, I have to apologize. I'm having trouble recalling exactly what I said about the Baumhund Conjecture. Truth be told, due to some unfortunate circumstances I haven't been myself lately. If time permits, you and I have a lot to catch up on." Hesitant to bring up the fact that she was cursed by the governing body to a man she has no memory of, but she hasn't met anybody else who seems more fit to entrust the information with.
No. 819464 ID: af6e04

rolled 2, 6, 4 = 12

No. 819489 ID: 3abd97

>instantaneous travel across very great distances
>care taken to specifically avoid something that makes Viste uncomfortable
>handwriting seems off, like someone who lost a dominant hand and is studiously imitating his own previous writing
...or like someone who had their dominant hand swapped and has learned to write (backwards) with their off-hand in an attempt to hide the change.

A certain fallen noble might have a peer, here. Though from the description, his ability might have manifested differently if it's long-range.

I'm guessing Deros Frist isn't partaking in the tea being served?
No. 819527 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 4, 3 = 13

Vos makes a concerted effort to take sips of his tea without spilling it. Does aura sight say anything particularly interesting?
No. 819633 ID: b0bc40

rolled 2, 1, 4 = 7

>more urgent business
"Indeed. This is an extremely sensitive message entrusted to me to deliver, for your eyes only. Even I am not privy to its contents. I highly recommend you review its contents immediately if possible, such that I may take your response with me when I depart."

He'll pass the letter into Sage Frist's hands with a formal two-handed grip, necessitating being received with both hands, only with his forefingers furtively splayed beneath the opaque envelope, such that accepting the envelope appropriately would necessitate touching his fingers. "Given the importance of this document, there is naturally a minor protective charm accompanying its delivery. Fear not. It is a harmless precaution." When Sage Frist accepts the letter, Yisheng Ji will cast Protection from Spirits on him, immediately suppressing, say, any possession effects he may be suffering from at the moment.
No. 819657 ID: d36af7

Iris and fingerprint patterns aren't symmetrical, to say nothing of moles, birthmarks, and old scars... actually, many of those scars are gone, or significantly reduced.
>partaking in the tea being served
He is, actually, and the flaky little biscuit things too.

>Does aura sight say anything particularly interesting?
>rolled 6, 4, 3 = 13
Deros has a few combat buffs active. Mage armor mostly comparable to Viste's, some concealed weapon, and a third effect which is hard to clearly identify. He's also (once Vos finds some way to compare notes with Yisheng Ji) got some nasty degenerative neurological condition which, untreated, will probably kill him inside six months, which he's also going to some trouble to conceal. Periodic pilgrimages to a suitable circle of standing stones for restoration would reverse the damage, and also adequately explain the disappearing scars and back pain. Still doesn't quite cover the smell of rotting meat behind that cheap incense, though.
No. 819685 ID: d36af7

>rolled 2, 1, 4 = 7
If you are uncertain that Deros Frist is in control of his own body and mind, it would not be appropriate to hand over the letter just yet. Protection from Spirits will block many kinds of mental influence, but only temporarily. It also would not prevent a telepathic domitor from spying through his eyes, nor would it present any inconvenience at all to, say, a purely physical parasite, or a mundane blackmailer.
No. 819686 ID: 094652

rolled 5, 6, 4 = 15

Hore is making small talk with Esmeraude and Maru about telltale signs of neural degeneration. Specifically, after looking at brains from the smashed skulls of her enemies.

Now that she has compiled her notes and the ship is docked, Hore requests Esmeraude's magical assistance in developing cheap armor-piercing enchantments for her throwing daggers. On the docks, so they don't bleed on the ship, and with Maru watching in case things go wrong.

Hore collects daggers from her victims. They're light, accepted for looting due to their millitary use, and cheap enough to use once and leave behind when retreating. But she hasn't had much luck enchanting them without paying more than what the blades are actually worth. Maybe a dragon mage could figure it out...
No. 819720 ID: d36af7

>cheap armor-piercing enchantments for her throwing daggers
>rolled 5, 6, 4 = 15
Esmeraude misinterprets this request as a euphemism for some sort of kinky sex act, and persistently clings to the idea, resorting to increasingly convoluted logic long after any reasonable person would have figured it out. At last she relents, breaks down giggling at Hore's exasperation, and admits that she knows almost nothing about bladesmithing, magical or mundane.
>paying more than the blades are actually worth
She's pretty sure that's just how it goes. Mundane knives are cheap, and named weapons are ridiculously expensive by comparison.
No. 820241 ID: af6e04

rolled 5, 5, 1 = 11

"Deros Frist, we can see that you are suffering an affliction of flesh. Please tell us the nature of your illness."
No. 820292 ID: d36af7

He's deeply embarrassed, and mutters "always trust a Tittivilan to tactlessly point out how baseline bodies just aren't good enough," in a resentful tone, before explaining that the affliction is some matter of frayed nerves, he can't recall the proper term, and medicine isn't his main field anyway. Ultimately comes from the ravages of old age. Hands get shaky, breath gets short. Mind stays as clear as ever, at least as far as he's dared allow the condition to progress before returning to those standing stones (the nearest site is held by a potential political rival of Passholdt, but he claims to use another, halfway across the world) and forking over more than he usually earns in a year just to set the clock back another few months. Hence why he's so eager to get started on consulting work for a patron with pockets as deep as... that IS the High Priest of Philista's personal seal, is it not? If all that answers whatever concerns you had about his handwriting, he'd very much like to get on with the business you were just saying was so urgent.

>rolled 5, 5, 1 = 11
Vos deduces that the sage is only lying about the root problem being general old age. There's a more specific cause, which Deros understands perfectly well but can't fix, not without some worse cost. Keeping that cause secret is more important to him than landing this job offer, or maybe even the lives of everyone else present. That might just be heat-of-the-moment reaction, though, weighting immediate frustration and humiliation too heavily. He does genuinely care about Helen, at least, and seems to be taking this mainly as a challenge to his professional honor and reputation rather than, say, a precarious opportunity to appease a blackmailer.
No. 820301 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 5, 5 = 13

Vos bluntly speaks his observations out loud to Ji, pointing out that Sage Frist is hiding something but seems to be in his own right mind from what Vos can tell. He then thanks Sage Frist for the tea.
No. 820400 ID: 3d2d5f

Viste spares an exasperated glance in Vos' direction.

"Your private affairs will, of course, be kept private."

Final call remains with Ji, but Viste sees no issue with completing delivery and handing over the letter.
No. 820493 ID: ddc3ea

rolled 6, 2, 4 = 12

>Sage Frist seems to be in his own right mind
>get on with the business
"Indeed. Here you are, honorable Sage." Yisheng Ji will pass the letter over into Sage Frist's possession. "If circumstances permit you to compose a reply before we depart, we will deliver it for you on our return trip."

>medicine isn't his main field anyway
Yisheng Ji will raise his eyebrows. "As it happens, medicine is a field in which I have some expertise. As I am here now and there is some time before I must depart, I am willing to offer my services for the duration, if desired. I will not, of course, pry into your personal affairs without your consent. I am no stranger to matters requiring discretion."

>Vos thanks Sage Frist for the tea
Yisheng Ji will politely decline to comment on the quality of the tea.
No. 821891 ID: d36af7

>"Indeed. Here you are, honorable Sage." Yisheng Ji will pass the letter over into Sage Frist's possession.
He bows to an appropriately respectful degree, politely accepts the letter, then immediately cracks the seal open and begins reading.
>"If circumstances permit you to compose a reply before we depart, we will deliver it for you on our return trip."
He appreciates the offer but doubts it will be necessary, unless you expect to be back at Passholdt within the week. Just from a quick overview, this looks like a problem which will require on-site attention, so he'll be teleporting out there as soon as possible.

>I am willing to offer my services for the duration, if desired.
Frist looks up from the letter, visibly considering this offer very seriously, but reluctantly declines, and then suggests one of those guests he mentioned might need it more. Head through the library, up the stairs, second door on the right, directly above the kitchen. First door on the right leads outside to the patio, while the door on the left side, straight across from the guest room, is the servants' quarters. They're quite skittish, so - while this should go without saying, hospitality and so on - he asks that you don't knock at the guest room door with more than one other person at your side, or visible weapons, even if they're sheathed and peacebonded.

>memory problems
Deros Frist taps the side of his head with two knuckles and smiles wistfully. "Happens to us all sooner or later. Don't worry, I wrote it all down, er... someplace. Feel free to look through my library while you're here." He gestures with the letter, "Business before pleasure!" then gets back to reading.

The library is about fifteen feet east-west by eighteen feet north-south. From the front hall you'd be coming in through the northeast corner. There's a fireplace in the south end of the east wall (the back wall of the corresponding chimney was the left side of the stairs you climbed to reach the front door), with a pair of overstuffed armchairs in front of it, one of which is flipped over onto it's back. Steep and narrow wooden stairs in the northwest corner, an odd design with separate sets of treads for the left and right feet so it's almost more of a ladder, leading west and upward.

Bookshelves are all along the west and south walls, more than half empty, and in terrible disorder. A few books and scrolls, out of the hundred or so present, are piled haphazardly on the floor, and one ("The Tale of the Chalcedony Chalice," worth hundreds of gold by dint of historical religious significance, beautiful illustrations, and simple rarity) is actually laying open on the upright chair, where someone incautious might sit on it.
No. 822076 ID: 3abd97

rolled 2, 6, 1 = 9

>he asks that you don't knock at the guest room door with more than one other person at your side, or visible weapons, even if they're sheathed and peacebonded
Viste won't be accompanying Yisheng Ji upstairs then, if he chooses to visit the skittish patient.

Viste accompanies Helen to the library. Roll for search / spot. Anything pertinent to her interests? (Perhaps something on the prolonged effects of q-rations on non-elves)?
No. 822156 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 3, 6 = 15

>more than one other person at your side, or visible weapons
Vos will leave his spear in the foyer and accompany Ji. Might be able to offer healing assistance or at least provide a comforting presence.
No. 822157 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 2, 6 = 12

>The Tale of the Chalcedony Chalice
>laying open on the upright chair, where someone incautious might sit on it.
How can this Deros Frist even call himself a sage when he treats any book so flippantly, let alone one so valuable? Helen tenderly picks the book up.

So, assuming Maru and Vos told Helen about the group's past exploits during this trip (seems like a safe assumption) would the chalice that they mentioned rescuing from the rats have anything to do with the story in this book? Seems like Sage Frist might be researching obscure healing methods.

Aside from "The Tale of the Chalcedony Chalice", other books to look at would be anything that may contain writing on this Baumhund Conjecture, and anything on curses or divination.
No. 822158 ID: 80f23f

Hore takes a walk down the pier, thinking of some general strategy to get Esmeraude to bed her. Then she gets bored three minutes in.

Hore scans the general area, hoping to find something of note. Take ten for this action.
No. 822186 ID: b0bc40

rolled 2, 6, 3 = 11

>one of those guests he mentioned might need it more
Alright. Let's pay a visit to the guests then, and see what might be able to be done.
No. 822200 ID: d36af7

>Roll for search / spot.
>rolled 2, 6, 1 = 9
one of the bookshelves on the south wall is a secret door, and the smell of rot seems to be coming from behind it.
>Anything pertinent to her interests? (Perhaps something on the prolonged effects of q-rations on non-elves)?
Yes, actually! A broad overview of mutations and teratogenic effects across all known elvenoid races, with a chapter on quintessential food. Long story short, if whoever wrote this knows what they're talking about, fishmen get fishier (and bigger), orcs stay normal-looking by daylight but go mad by the light of the full moon and shapeshift into their patron spirit's totem animal, or pigs if they weren't religious, while humans... well, after digging through some disturbing racist-grandpa sort of rants, humans seem to default to 'closest nonhuman relative.' Usually takes years and years to have any clear visible effect, if you start after puberty, and mix it up with other kinds of food, and aren't doing some sort of magic to speed the process along, such as the Netseth family's "blasphemous rites to reinforce their line's draconic taint." There's also a handy list of subtler symptoms a doctor can monitor, to track the progression.
>rolled 6, 3, 6 = 15
Vos is having a lot of trouble trying to slither up these weird stairs without breaking anything. He tried to brace his flipper-spikes against the wood, but one of 'em hit a knothole or rotten soft spot or something, punched right through and got stuck. Might actually be easier to go back outside, climb the wall, and come in through the patio.

>anything that may contain writing on this Baumhund Conjecture, and anything on curses or divination
Three-volume set in a shared slipcase. Volume one is a overview of the eight known types of spell, including divination which was not well understood by the Old Empire, backed up at every step by translated excerpts from Aquinbreke and other ancient sources. Volume three is dense with technical jargon, but it mostly seems to be vague speculation and theoretical faffing about. Plenty of footnotes and references back to a thorough explanation of the Baumhund Conjecture back in volume two, which is missing. It's been replaced with a different book (of very similar size and color) on the subject of how to cook or otherwise process various bits of a goat, such that no part of the animal goes to waste.

>How can this Deros Frist even call himself a sage when he treats any book so flippantly,
Planning to say that to his face?
There's a modest traveler's inn within sight of the waterfront. Esmeraude sneaks up behind Hore and whispers in her ear, with a deeply indecent-sounding tone of voice, that the two of them should rent a room and... cuddle.

Three hours later, Hore has discovered that the mutation she received to patch up that wound on her inner thigh holds almost as much concealed functionality as her plasma pistol. There's a tentacle, for one thing, all done in translucent rainbows (like if somebody hired Lisa Frank to remake Legend of the Overfiend), at least eight inches long and a quarter-inch thick, fully prehensile, as sensitive as a second tongue. Uncoiling that and pushing it out opens up room inside for, well, suffice it to say this night's no longer boring. The dragon-blooded sorceress is easy to tease or frustrate, cautious and gentle at first, but relentlessly energetic once the 'fun part' begins in earnest. She drools when she gets excited, and acrid smoke rises wherever her bodily fluids touch the bedsheets, but on Hore's skin it's only a pleasant tingle.
No. 822240 ID: 3abd97

>secret door
Did the door open when discovered, exposing anything to view, or is it still closed? (Actually opening the door, or entering might reasonably trip a ward that would alert the sage to the intrusion).

>humans seem to default to 'closest nonhuman relative.'
Unhelpfully vague, especially given her own unique circumstances. It's possible Viste's existence, or her appearance, are manifestations of this, but she can't be certain.

>if you start after puberty
A point against her, there.

>and mix it up with other kinds of food
A point for, although less so since her supply of fruit became limited.

>doing some sort of magic to speed the process along
She's not sure if what she's been learning these last few months qualifies, although that at least wasn't its overt purpose.

>such as the Netseth family's "blasphemous rites to reinforce their line's draconic taint."
Well, that's one road to "draconic transcendence", I suppose. Not that Esmeraude can really afford a q-ration diet at this moment.

>There's also a handy list of subtler symptoms a doctor can monitor, to track the progression.
That's rather more unambiguously helpful. Something for Davina to discus privately with Yisheng Ji, later.
No. 822364 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 2, 3 = 11

>Planning to say that to his face?
No, Helen has a little more tact than Decaro Vos.

>Three-volume set in a shared slipcase.
Seems worth a read, even though the most important volume is missing. How inconvenient.

>secret door
Can Helen check for glyphs or any other signs of warding? She'll do so in such a way that if Sage Frist were to walk into the room, she could play it off as examining the book selection.
No. 822365 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 1, 1 = 5

>broke the stairs
Vos curses and tells Ji to go on without him. He'll have to borrow some money from Davina to pay for that.
No. 822369 ID: d36af7

>rolled 3, 1, 1 = 5
No need to get the boss involved. Viste can simply portal to the top of the stairs, and call an imaginary maid to patch up the damage.

>check for glyphs or any other signs of warding
>rolled 6, 2, 3 = 11
Seems to be safe. Even if there were wards on the opposite side, Vos's aura sight should have noticed. It's not even all that thoroughly concealed, or locked. Probably just a servant's passage from before the expanded front hall, dining room, and patio were built, rather than anything sinister.
>She's not sure if what she's been learning these last few months qualifies, although that at least wasn't its overt purpose.
If meaningful comparisons to orcish lycanthropy can be made, and the author knows what he's talking about, training to "control the transformation" or "accept the alternate form as an ally" does count as magical acceleration.
The guest room is about twelve feet east-west by fifteen feet north-south. There's an unlit fireplace on the west wall, facing the door that silently opens inward when you knock. Lots of grease on the door's hinges, dripping off and puddling on the floor, with a strange burnt-metal smell to it. It's very dark, and the air in the room is cold as an icebox. The door is connected to some strings threaded through staples on the ceiling, in between wrist-thick tendrils of some sort of vine or fungus. Strings lead back to a human-sized figure, curled up under sheets of the bed at the south end of the room, who could pull on them to open and close the door. There's a narrow window in the south wall, but the quilt off the bed has been hung up to cover it.
>rolled 2, 6, 3 = 11
The figure on the bed is not breathing, and is in fact slightly colder than surrounding air, but something alive is hidden under the bed.
No. 822412 ID: b0bc40

rolled 4, 2, 1 = 7

>figure on the bed is not breathing, but something alive is hidden under the bed.
After entering the room, Yisheng Ji will speak as if to the figure on the bed, to allow the patient to maintain a sense of security as he attempts to establish communication.
"Greetings. I am a physician visiting at Sage Frist's recommendation. If you can understand my words and consent to an examination, please close the door at this time. If you do not consent, please close and re-open the door, and I will leave you in peace. If you do not manipulate the door in any way, I will assume you cannot understand me and will proceed with the examination regardless."

If permitted, Yisheng Ji will proceed to use Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Deathwatch, any mundane examination methods he has, and (if necessary) Status, to attempt to determine what may be afflicting the patient. Otherwise, he will simply leave.
No. 822449 ID: fc3fc0

rolled 1, 1, 3 = 5

Thankful she no longer has to endure Hore talking about inflicting blunt force trauma upon others, and doesn't have to worry about her or the sorceress endangering Davina's paycheck in some way, what with the knife throwing and all, Maru will head into town for a short jaunt, going towards areas like the marketplace and town center to see if she can pick up any interesting news or chatter, listening especially closely to anything dealing with bandit activity.
No. 822662 ID: d36af7

>Detect Magic
Nothing in this room besides whatever you brought with you. Interior walls and floors are reasonably thin wood, so it's possible to detect various warded cabinets and sorcerous lab equipment upstairs.
>Detect Poison, Deathwatch
The thing on the ceiling and the thing under the bed are both alive, healthy, and armed with paralytic venom.

Pile of pillows is manipulated from beneath, in a manner that could almost be mistaken for a shaky patient's arm pulling the string to close the door. Yisheng Ji hops up onto the edge of the bed, just in time to avoid having his ankles grabbed by tentacles from underneath. If he'd lunged toward the door as it was closing, he would likely have been caught by those 'vines' now dropping like a net from the ceiling.

The sage's two guests don't seem to have any central body, just a knot of blue-black snaky tendrils. Each strand has a single bulbous eye and jawless mouth at one end, thorny leaf-shaped paw (or scorpion tail?) at the other. Perhaps some sort of communal organism.
No. 822668 ID: af6e04

>Viste can simply portal to the top of the stairs, and call an imaginary maid to patch up the damage.
Vos will slither off to the library to fetch Viste.
No. 822671 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 3, 5 = 11

Well Helen's all for snooping around, but we'll probably just get kicked out once Sage Frist finds out. Not to mention the Fire Hawk's reputation probably won't do well if we ransack every place we're supposed to deliver a message to.

If Viste wants to check out this secret door, however, Helen can stay here in the library and keep Sage Frist busy.
No. 822673 ID: 3d2d5f

Ooc, but I think your last roll took care of that already? The 5 meant you got the better result of getting Viste to resolve the problem for you.

Also, I believe the stairs are in the library, so you wouldn't have had to slither far.
No. 822675 ID: af6e04

Yeah, I wasn't sure because the DM didn't describe me as being in the room with Ji.
No. 822676 ID: b0bc40

rolled 4, 6, 4 = 14

>the sage's two guests are a single huge mass of hostile paralytic tentacles that cannot comprehend language
Fantastic. Yisheng Ji will immediately cast Delay Poison on himself to safeguard against the venom, and Calm Emotions on the patient to give himself a little time to work. He will also call politely, yet firmly for Vos to come assist him, as the patient is being somewhat uncooperative. If ever there were a person who wouldn't be bothered in the least by a mass of tentacles with little regard for personal boundaries, it would be Vos.

That said, the patient does already seem to be healthy and robust, and the active facade maintenance and net trap suggests some measure of intellect above animal instinct and a reasonable level of planning ability remain intact. The immediate hostility to a friendly presence suggests perhaps either sanity damage from their unusual shift in form, emotional trauma from perceived betrayal from a previous doctor, pridefulness / lack of faith in an outsider's ability to assist, or simply raw malevolence. If it is the first, it already appears to be to a grade that Lymphatic Auditor will not be able to treat on the short-term. (1d2/day is beans) If it is the last, I'm afraid there is little we can do beyond euthenasia. In case it is the one of the middle two, Yisheng Ji will continue to try to talk to the patient in hopes of establishing nonhostile communications.
No. 822729 ID: d36af7

>net trap
That was the second guest, initially sprawled out flat and clinging to the ceiling. now crawling back up the wall and holding the door shut.
>Calm Emotions on the patient
>rolled 4, 6, 4 = 14
An aura of serenity fills the entire room, but maintaining it requires concentration. A tentacle - the creatures are remarkably strong for their small size, and hard as steel cables - wraps around Yisheng Ji's left wrist, releasing a torrent of wordless, language-independent communication into his mind the moment it brushes against bare skin.

"Do not resist. If you cooperate, you will not be harmed in any visible or lasting way. Do not attempt to create further sound with your breath-organs, or by striking solid objects with your limbs. Do not attempt to project other forms of energy which your associates might detect. Do not attempt to write, or otherwise create durable evidence of this event. Do not attempt to produce fire or other excessive heat. Communicate your willingness to cooperate, or any further questions, through gesture and narrow-cast-thought exclusively."

Vos makes it up to the second floor just in time to see the door slam shut. Didn't hear any sort of lock engage, but now the door won't open. The doc asked for help with something, seemed more grossed-out than panicked. Aura sight is a bit blurry, but there's no hostile intent visible in there at all. In fact, the guest room seems like the most calm and homey part of the sage's tower so far. Whoever is staying there, it must be just about a perfect emotional oasis for them.
No. 822745 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 1, 4 = 8

Hmm, no signs of struggle according to aura sight and Vos is a little hesitant to cause more property damage. He'll keep trying to turn the doorknob. "Ji. Door will not open."
No. 822746 ID: b0bc40

rolled 1, 2, 6 = 9

"Very well. What do you require of me? I am here to assist you to the best of my ability. There is no need for coercion. Though if your needs involve physical intimacy, my companion outside is strictly better suited for the task."
No. 822836 ID: d36af7

We will conceal myself inside your body. The process involves a certain minimal amount of pain. You will then be permitted to leave this room, behave normally, and persuade your associates that nothing of importance has transpired. Violation of doctor/patient confidentiality will result in non-minimal pain.
No. 822876 ID: b0bc40

rolled 2, 2, 3 = 7

"Hmm, very well. I will agree to this arrangement conditionally. First, I must not be prevented (or severely hindered) from carrying out my pre-established obligations, including, but not limited to, offering my services as a doctor wherever I see fit. Second, this must be an arrangement of limited duration, with a separation condition specified beforehand. (Which must be reasonably attainable within a length of time appreciably shorter than my own lifespan, so "When you die." isn't a valid response.) Guarantee me these two things, and you will have my full cooperation."
No. 822941 ID: d36af7

>carrying out my pre-established obligations
Granted. Uncharacteristic behavior would compromise your value as a cover, in any case.
>separation condition specified beforehand
Locate a potential host more useful than yourself, arrange privacy and other prerequisites for a discreet transfer, and provide satisfactory assurance that your post-separation behavior will not reveal our presence or intentions.
No. 822973 ID: b0bc40

Acceptable. I will, of course, treat you with the same respect due to any patient under long-term care. You are not the first to request ongoing discretion, after all. So long as you do not break this contract of trust,
then you have nothing to be concerned about from me. We shall discuss desired qualities in alternate hosts at a later point, when more time is available. It would not be in your best interests to keep my companions waiting at the present time.

No. 823594 ID: d36af7

Ji emerges from the guest room, claiming everything is fine. His aura looks a little odd, like there's something else overlaid on it.
No. 823622 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 2, 1 = 6

>His aura looks a little odd, like there's something else overlaid on it.
Have I seen anything like this before?

Vos silently curses himself for not busting the door down when he had the chance. "What happened in there, Ji?" He'll try to get a peek inside the patient's room without letting the doctor out of his sight.

>"Don't go inside with any weapons or backup"
>Called for help
>Trapped inside room
>Came out with an altered aura
>claiming everything is fine
Ji is going to have to come up with something really good to explain this one away.
No. 823683 ID: d36af7

>Have I seen anything like this before?
>rolled 3, 2, 1 = 6
Looks like he's got some sort of parasitic infestation, sapient enough to have it's own political opinions.

Funny thing about physical parasites is, a host who's aware of 'em can cast touch spells and they can't dodge, at least not without leaving the premises entirely.
No. 823725 ID: b0bc40

>Vos immediately knows everything
(Speaking privately to Vos)
"Vos, I am aware of your abilities, and I'm going to have to ask you to keep private any observations you may have for the time being. Regardless of your opinion, this is still my patient, and as a physician, I am choosing not to discriminate. Surely you can agree, as an agent of Tittivila, that form does not determine the value of an individual's life. In this case, the treatment my patient requires is nonstandard, and therefore I will appreciate your discretion in this matter."

>Called for help
"I did ask politely for assistance. At that time, I was having some difficulty communicating with the patient, and was hoping you could assist me in the matter, given your empathic expertise. However, the issue has since been resolved. It was never a situation necessitating concern."

Yisheng Ji will also narrow-cast-think to the patient to bring them up to speed on the situation with Vos if they're unable to work it out themselves, just to prevent unfortunate misunderstandings.
No. 823736 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 3, 5 = 14

>"Regardless of your opinion, this is still my patient"
Can I tell if this 'patient' is exerting any sort of control or influence over Ji?
No. 823785 ID: d36af7

He doesn't seem to be blatantly mind-bondaged or held under threat of immediate violence, but it's hard to rule out anything more subtle.
No. 823827 ID: af6e04

rolled 1, 3, 6 = 10

"Would feel better about this if I had not been locked out while it was happening."

>"I will appreciate your discretion in this matter."
"Feel we should at least tell Davina. She will not overreact. I will not speak word to anybody else. Is this fair?"
No. 823844 ID: d36af7

>tell Davina
After minimal back-and-forth about who and what Davina is, Yisheng Ji's parasitic patient is adamant that she absolutely must not be informed on this subject. If gold or blood or spells must be expended to accomplish that, arrangements can be made. It refers to her, or possibly some category or organization which includes her, with the mental image of stone claws, gnarled and twisted in geometrically impossible ways, wielding a golden blade, rather than by any pronounceable name.
No. 823849 ID: b0bc40

>would feel better if I had not been locked out
"Would you feel the same about have been denied access to a more conventional operating theater, I wonder?"

>we should at least tell Davina
"I respect Davina as a leader. However, I was not aware I required Davina's permission to perform my craft. I must say, I'm somewhat disappointed in this sudden pettiness, Vos. I would have thought of all people, you would be the most considerate of my wishes concerning my medical affairs. Especially considering I quite recently saved your life from a fatal disease, whilst even preserving the lives of your unborn children. I cannot prevent you from doing as you wish, but know that I will be very displeased if you choose not to respect my request."
No. 823859 ID: af6e04

"It's not pettiness, it is fear for safety of everybody aboard the ship. If you could at least give good reason for being so secretive about bringing an invasive parasite back with us then I may reconsider. I have offered fair compromise."
No. 823867 ID: 3abd97

>If Viste wants to check out this secret door, however, Helen can stay here in the library and keep Sage Frist busy.
Lifting her head from the book she was examining, Viste considers the offer for a moment, then shakes her head.

"No, that's quite alright."

Her assessment is that Sage Frist seems already positively inclined towards our group, thanks to the delivery of a much needed job offer, his preexisting friendship with Helen, and the boys upstairs providing medical treatment to his guest. If we did discover something he was trying to keep hidden, best case is that gives us leverage over him (a stick we don't appear to need), worst case is it gets us thrown out, or incites violence (she'd rather prefer to avoid fighting a 5th circle or higher mage in his own domain).
No. 823879 ID: b0bc40

>give good reason
"If my word that my patient does not pose a threat to us or our companions, my opinion that this is necessary as a physician, and my request of you as a friend and companion all truly mean nothing to you, then I'm afraid there is little else I can say to convince you. Make your choice now. I hope it will be the correct one."
No. 823897 ID: 094652

Okay, then I'll take ten for this one. I'd take twenty, but Hore's low charisma means any critical fails could lead to open hostility.

Hore decides to discuss things with Esmeraude between @#$%s, specifically about her current military goals. Hore praises the captain's survival skills against a heavy combo of fairly unpredictable supernatural powers and tactics, complimented by Esmeraude's specialization in heavy-saboteur spells and general warfare.

Hore is curious; what was Esmeraude's plan once they conquered Eckton? Would there be any major construction, possibly a grand road, or would the army have made due with the existing buildings? Were they going to get foreign aid from nobles they had favors for, or declare themselves a sovereign state and hope to the gods that the dragons wouldn't ask for taxes before they were ready? Hore isn't judging, she just wants to learn more about long-term city planning. It's amazing how many raises she has gotten by talking about previous rants from successful conquerors to star rookie officers who don't actually know the first thing about ruling what they've conquered.

Besides, whatever their plans for Eckton, the instant forest would have shifted everything beyond use. With Eckton's unpredicted transition from a farming / fishing based food industry to a woodland outpost (slash minor fishing industry), Draconian emissaries will arrive within a year to audit the local earnings and annex the area if their profits are within rolling-in-the-gold standards, along with other adventuring parties hoping to make their fortune in the new forest dungeon. Fishermen will now have to compete with immigrant lumberjacks, whose work will now be essential to building new structures in the growing city and freeing up all the wyld-claimed farming acres. Eckton's worth and assets have changed overnight, and power players across the continent will be looking to sink their hooks into Eckton and her neighboring cities, if they aren't deemed worthless first.

Hore also asks if she found the eelman tribe attractive. Honestly? Hore finds tribal society repulsive. Eleven years of "worshiping a living goddess", and the moment she died, they went to town on her daughter, teaching her everything she needed to get herself killed horribly, and ultimately trying to kill her for attempting to leave. Vos, on the other hand, is a compassionate resolver who asks for little things and gave Hore some deeply needed affection in return. Some of the others in the Fire Hawks hate her guts, but they explained why they hate and gave her a second chance to prove she could change. There's a difference, a real difference, between family and tribe. Hore hopes she can find a family in the Fire Hawks, especially in Vos. Maybe Esmeraude could find one in Vos too.
No. 823898 ID: af6e04

Vos groans in pure exasperation and rubs the sides of his face. "Fine Ji! You win. I will tell nobody. Okay!"

He turns and hollers for Viste to let him back down the stairs.
No. 823929 ID: d36af7

>discuss things with Esmeraude between @#$%s, specifically about her current military goals
The sorceress finds nothing unusual about this as a subject of pillow talk, even 'sketching' diagrams across Hore's chest or belly with tickles and kisses while sitting astride.

Esmeraude is easily flattered, but hesitates and insists (in an "eat your vegetables or no dessert" sort of tone) on also being called pretty before going for another round.

>what was Esmeraude's plan once they conquered Eckton?
Oh, the usual. Silk sheets, as many gold coins as can be gathered, and some star team from the Whore's Guild, all piled onto the nicest bed in town the first night after it's officially over. Formally humiliate surviving local leadership and randomly pry into their affairs, but let them keep doing most of the actual work. Tax major industries and reinvest in infrastructure or charity to earn more later and buy goodwill. Stage some big screw-up after a year or two to bait out counter-revolutionaries. then quietly dispose of 'em. Breeding program for the eels of course. Repair and upgrade the fortifications, maybe add a little bit of light artillery. Whip her army back into shape so they can function as real soldiers again rather than scruffy raiders.

>foreign aid from nobles they had favors for
She laughs and laughs and laughs. If the Netseth name was still good enough for other nobles to remember old favors, she wouldn't be having any of these problems!

>declare themselves a sovereign state and hope to the gods that the dragons wouldn't ask for taxes before they were ready?
>Draconian emissaries will arrive within a year to audit the local earnings and annex the area if their profits are within rolling-in-the-gold standards,
Oh no, no, grown-up dragons don't just openly roll in on a predictable schedule and demand tribute. Bandits and warlords and sphinxes and whatnot will put any self-minted suzerain to the test, seeing what they can wheedle or pilfer or extort. True Dragons don't need to dirty their claws fighting over scraps, not when ambitious types eagerly seek them out and beg for the opportunity to go into debt. They run banks, and only bestir themselves to approach a new barony when somebody's achieved something special, or happens to be in the right place at the right time according to some grand occult strategy lesser mortals could only guess at. In either case, they always lead with the carrot. That's what she's hoping for, actually, to somehow attract the interest (and eventually regain the patronage) of that same black dragon who fucked so many of her ancestors.

Her scales and fingernails are naturally black, she just paints them red because it looks nicer and encourages people to set her on fire less.

>the instant forest would have shifted everything beyond use
>other adventuring parties hoping to make their fortune in the new forest dungeon
On the contrary, it could have turned out quite well, if only the forest had somehow done more to devastate Eckton's defenders than her own army. Rookie adventurers bring in news and niche skills from far away, then overpay for basic supplies. Successful ones shed gold and petty miracles like lepers shed skin, and unsuccessful ones eagerly volunteer for the dirty, dangerous jobs that sane locals would rebel rather than be pressed into. Esmeraude explains that she was targeting Eckton because it seemed like a defensible position without enough local troops to hold it (if the eeelmen had done their part), not for the town's mediocre existing economy.

>asks if she found the eelman tribe attractive
She shrugs. They had the right parts, and could have been trained to say the right things.
No. 823958 ID: 08bd9b

rolled 4, 5, 2 = 11

"Thank you, Vos. I appreciate it."

Yisheng Ji will return to the main floor and go to consult Sage Frist before he departs, informing him (with a meaningful look) that he has decided to accept Sage Frist's patient into his long-term care. Therefore, the last thing remaining to discuss is the matter of remuneration. Yisheng Ji is still a professional, after all. Out of consideration for Sage Frist's current monetary circumstances, however, Yisheng Ji is willing to accept a few scholarly tomes from his acclaimed library as a form of payment. (The patient did mention "arrangements can be made", did it not?)
No. 824010 ID: d36af7

>informing him (with a meaningful look)
In the moment of eye contact there is a discordant mental sensation which could be compared to modem screech. It seems Sage Frist and Ji's patient had a lot to say to each other, and said it all very quickly.
>long-term care
Deros is plainly pleased with this development, and sends Tilkos upstairs to fetch some items from his workroom. Ten gold and thirty silver in cash, a piece of oddly iridescent glass that could be mistaken for a peeled green grape (seeds and all), and an oilskin bag loaded with a quart of gritty black gunk. "Dehydrated wall," he explains. Simply sprinkle it onto water, half a pound foams up into a square yard of inch-thick crystal. Physical properties comparable to mahogany or some other hardwood but inorganic, airtight, and won't burn. Takes an hour or so to fully solidify, sometimes much longer if the water is silty or extremely cold, during which time it can be sculpted like clay. Doesn't work well at all on turbulent flowing water, since it would be scattered into useless little chunks by the current and washed away downstream. With sufficient study, Ji might be able to synthesize more of the stuff alchemically.
>a few scholarly tomes
Would Relicts of Yth (seems to be mostly geometric diagrams, or maybe clockwork assembly instructions) and The Tale of the Chalcedony Chalice be sufficient, along with those few other trifles from upstairs? Parasite notifies Ji that all this 'payment' so far is a field operations budget. Not for frivolous personal use. If he wants actual compensation, now would be the time to ask.
No. 824051 ID: b0bc40

rolled 3, 2, 6 = 11

>not actual compensation
Yisheng Ji will politely explain to his patient that while the budget is welcome, he also requires funds for personal use, for such things as medical supplies and to cover his overhead. If they prefer to record it in their checkbook as cover maintenance expense, that is fine too.
No. 824123 ID: d36af7

Do you think we can pull coinage out from behind your pancreas like a stage magician manipulating a child's ear? Ask the sage now, by conventional channels! HE is the one with resources at this point in time.
To an outside observer, it might appear that Yisheng Ji is simply doing some cost-estimate mental math and possibly mulling over a related ethical dilemma.
No. 824129 ID: b0bc40

>Ask the sage
Yisheng Ji literally just did this. >>823958
No. 824201 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 6, 4 = 14

Vos adopts his usual serene manner while descending the stairs and begins to browse books with Viste and Helen.

>Ji goes out of earshot to talk to Sage Frist
Vos quietly spills all the beans. He quickly relates to Viste that Ji has had his aura altered by a sentient parasite after being locked in the room with the 'patient'. "Please do not confront Ji about this. I promised him I would not tell you, and he may flee if he finds out."
No. 824260 ID: d36af7

Which specific books? If you want cash, how much? Maybe some other unusual materials from the lab? "Discussion of remuneration" needs to involve actual numbers at some point.

>all the beans
>rolled 4, 6, 4 = 14
Yisheng Ji and Sage Frist are in the front room along with Werra and Zard. Tilkos is upstairs. Vos, Viste, and Helen are in the library. Just a moment too late, Decaro Vos realizes someone else is eavesdropping from behind the secret bookshelf door. Shelves of interesting books plus a wooden wall too thin to be load-bearing adds up to less than three feet of plant matter, so it isn't opaque to aura sight, but it's enough cover, and there's enough clashing associations within those books, to provide concealment almost like a stained-glass window.

Vos sees a telepathic packet of whispered revelation and outrage emerge from the shelf and begin to traverse the library toward the front room. It's moving almost as fast as a thrown knife, but just might be possible to catch or block, if only you knew some zero-prep way to mess up disembodied thoughts.
No. 824279 ID: d36af7

>He quickly relates to Viste that Ji has had his aura altered by a sentient parasite

Viste thinks back to part of a song her mother would recite when she was having trouble sleeping:
"Mak Thuum Ngatha, the nine-tongued worm, has been our foe ever since an act of treachery at the turning point of the Snail-Unicorn War. He may be reasoned with, truces, compromises, even alliances of convenience against the greater threats are possible, but give Him no lasting trust and expect none in return. Eoth-Elids are not the greatest of His servants, but may be nearly the cleverest, and you must take the most caution around them for they can reopen old wounds and follow you even after the way appears shut. Eoth-Elids spawn the Seugathi, hollow-minded things which expire when their tasks are complete, and through them, loosely direct the great city-devouring Bholes. Even a god cannot issue direct orders to a Bhole and expect to be obeyed. The least of Mak Thuum Ngatha's sapient servants, both in number and in strength, are also the most insidious: Tsochari burrow beneath skin and muscle, each like a rat's nest of iron-hard cables, and can kill a man by devouring his brain from the inside. Like chakra orchids, they are sometimes revealed by the restless ghost of someone who appears to still be alive, though perhaps in poor health. They breed slowly in a distant place, dark and windy and cold. Starmetal is their weakness, but if you seek to coerce or slay them, remember that each strand has it's own set of vital organs and it's own animal-soul, though the older and larger they grow, the harder it is to survive separation."
She remembers dreaming about the little bear's adventures, and thinking up variations on the rhyme-scheme to trick her mom into making that cute little 'meow' noise, but... wait, that can't be right. That was a flat prose lecture, in a language she's pretty sure her mom never spoke, nor anyone else (other than Filo). There wasn't anything in there about a little adventuring bear at all.
Davina remembers the real words to that bedtime-story song. Viste just remembers how to fight.
No. 824343 ID: 751120

Hore spends the next Take Ten whatevers talking about hair dye tips (from Azure), cute pets, and where Esmeraude wants to be licked and nibbled.
No. 824375 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 4, 6 = 14

Vos suddenly clams up and then lifts Helen off her feet to interpose her in front of the thought packet.
No. 824391 ID: d36af7

Helen hears someone shouting "They're wise! What'd'we do, boss? Seal the exits?" but then realizes it was just her imagination. Also, a 400 pound eel-naga-man who she's only known for about a week is swinging her around like a rag doll for some reason.
No. 824432 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 4, 3 = 13

>Also, a 400 pound eel-naga-man who she's only known for about a week is swinging her around like a rag doll for some reason.
Helen thrusts her fist into Decaro Vos' chest eye.
No. 824468 ID: b0bc40

rolled 4, 5, 3 = 12

>Maybe some other unusual materials
How about we take a gander at some of the unusual herbs in the garden Yisheng Ji saw when he came in? ( >>818805 ) Yisheng Ji is very interested in medicinal alchemy, and would appreciate Sage Frist taking a little time to describe the ones Ji is not familiar with, as well as permit him to take some samples with him. He feels it would be very beneficial to his medical operations.
No. 824475 ID: 3abd97

Fresh from revelations on a previously unknown enemy, and the realization she isn't entirely who she thought she was, Viste is confused and befuddled to suddenly witness Vos and Helen wrestling for no apparent reason.
No. 824550 ID: d36af7

>fist into Decaro Vos's chest eye
>rolled 6, 4, 3 = 13
Helen is unsuccessful at temporarily disabling aura sight, but the sentiment of "put me down, you brute" is conveyed quite eloquently.
>Maybe some other unusual materials
>How about we take a gander at some of the unusual herbs in the garden
>rolled 4, 5, 3 = 12
Sage Frist evokes a torch-equivalent ball of artificial moonlight and leads the way. Some of the night-blooming flowers are lovely this time of year, and cultivated primarily for that beauty rather than pharmaceutical application.
No. 824579 ID: ee6e74

rolled 2, 3, 3 = 8

Vos apologizes and sets Helen down as quickly and gently as possible, then slithers over to open that secret door.
No. 824591 ID: d36af7

Behind the secret passage is an ill-maintained pantry, with an open door to the right leading back to the kitchen. You seem to have found the source of the rotten smell. Whichever of Deros Frist's servants is responsible for washing dishes and disposing of spoiled food, they've been asleep on the job for at least a month. Fruits, vegetables, and bits of meat are all the wrong colors, one partial loaf of bread has actual mushrooms growing out of it.
>rolled 2, 3, 3 = 8
There's a flicker of movement, something disappearing into the fireplace and up the chimney.
No. 824594 ID: 3abd97

rolled 1, 1, 1 = 3

>There's a flicker of movement, something disappearing into the fireplace and up the chimney.
Viste makes a sharp, sudden gesture at the retreating motion, as if crushing something unseen in her outstretched hand.
No. 824660 ID: d36af7

A young adult tsochar, consisting of thirty-six strands with symbiotically interlinked nervous and circulatory systems, is dragged kicking and (silently) screaming out of the chimney and promptly trapped in what appears from the outside to be a mirrored golf ball in Viste's clenched fist. It can breathe, and is as yet unharmed, though there's a scattering of mortar and brick fragments on the floor. Viste can communicate with the prisoner telepathically, selectively block the prisoner's outgoing telepathy, crush it further to any desired degree, or release it with a simple gesture, but cannot confidently move this improvised hyperspatial oubliette from the spot where it was created. The prisoner cannot escape while she's actively holding it, but might be able to if she were distracted, and almost certainly would get out sooner or later if she walked away. That might take hours or days, though. Never done anything quite like this before.
No. 824766 ID: 3d2d5f

Observing the shimmering construct in her hand, Viste notes to herself that excellence in execution and utterly overwhelming one's opponents makes for a rather satisfying antidote for existential uncertainty.

>Viste can communicate with the prisoner telepathically
Let's see if that display was intimidating enough to loosen metaphorical lips.
Tsochar. I require information.

Who and how many are your allies and assets. What is your objective. What are your brethren's intentions for my doctor?

No. 824768 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 4, 4 = 11

Helen is quite distraught at the fact that the only person she has met who might be able to help her unravel the mystery of her curse is host to some sort of hostile parasite.

>A young adult tsochar
Has Helen read anything about this? Also, are there any curses in her book that might be helpful in aiding the party's escape?
No. 824772 ID: d36af7

Outside in the garden, Yisheng Ji finds a patch of Cyrenian laserwort, which is said (in various historical accounts) to have a dizzying variety of medical uses, most notably contraceptive and anagathic. Everyone seems to think it went extinct centuries ago, except Deros Frist, who simply "bought seedlings from some greenhouse," conjured a bit of pure elemental soil to plant them in, and has been using the stuff mainly as a cooking spice. Goes well with roast goat, and seems to have much the same beneficial effect on his 'guests' as citrus fruit does for sailors.
"You're asking me to betray my cellmates and demolish the foundations of my career. What assurance can you provide that you'll protect me from retaliation, if I make myself useful enough to you? Not much incentive to do anything but stall for time, if I'm likely to end up dead either way."
No. 824852 ID: b0bc40

rolled 3, 5, 4 = 12

>Cyrenian laserwort
Yisheng Ji is delighted by the unexpected find (assuming it is, in fact, what he thinks it is), and sets about taking samples of sufficient size to grow his own on his own time, carefully wrapping them up for easy, hands-free transportation. As he does so, he questions Sage Frist on proper care and long-term storage methods.
No. 824987 ID: d36af7

>Has Helen read anything about this?
>Also, are there any curses in her book that might be helpful in aiding the party's escape?
>rolled 3, 4, 4 = 11
With a bit of string wrapped around the handle, and a prayer to the God of Locks (probably not this guy http://keychain.patternspider.net/archive/koc0005.html but who knows?), she can seal a door as if it were barred with a heavy oak beam. Only lasts about an hour, but if she closed up the doors from the front hall to the library and from the dining room to the kitchen, that'd probably buy enough time to finish the interrogation and sneak out the tower's back door.
No. 825057 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 2, 2 = 7

This ritual seems a lot more useful for burglars than it does for anybody actually interested in security. Helen doesn't dwell on it for long though, and instead goes about getting some string. Could probably rip apart a book's binding and pull out the stitching, which is anathema but might be forgivable given the circumstances. Helen will go ahead and try to lock up both doors.
No. 825106 ID: 3abd97

rolled 4, 3, 1 = 8

No answers? Tighten the prison slightly, not enough to injure.

>You're asking me to betray my cellmates and demolish the foundations of my career.
If you will not betray your cell, protect it. Placing a covert agent in my coworker and betraying hospitality are hostile acts. Disclosure of information is necessary if I am to be convinced your cell is not an immediate threat.

Threats are met with violence.

>What assurance can you provide that you'll protect me from retaliation
Evacuation is available. This may be of limited utility while your cell retains the services of a teleporter.

Mutagenic reconstruction is available.

Long term employment is not available, barring extraordinary developments.

Eradication of your cell and any threat it could pose may be available.

Rolling for diplomacy / intimidation / interrogation.

>if you seek to coerce or slay them, remember that each strand has it's own set of vital organs and it's own animal-soul
>crush it further to any desired degree
Is control of the interior space fine enough for crushing individual tsochar strands to be an option?

>Could probably rip apart a book's binding and pull out the stitching, which is anathema
Pulling strings from clothing, the armchairs, or using hair would probably be preferable to damaging valuable books.
No. 825209 ID: d36af7

Dining room door is locked with no complications. Just as Helen is finishing up the library door, Tilkos comes back downstairs with a pound of cash and ten pounds of dehydrated wall. He's still wearing the maid outfit with the semi-concealed shortsword, and asks Helen if she saw which shelf Relicts of Yth is on.

The secret passage is still open, though just by a few inches. Perspective is such that Tilkos probably hasn't noticed.

>Is control of the interior space fine enough for crushing individual tsochar strands to be an option?
Not really. They're all tangled up together, and you're basically just adjusting the diameter of a sphere.
>Long term employment is not available, barring extraordinary developments.
Prisoner gives the equivalent of an intrigued eyebrow wiggle. "What sort of extraordinary developments?"
>limited utility while your cell retains the services of a teleporter
"In that case, I have some excellent news for you! Deros Frist is dead, bored out and replaced by my commanding officer Yikk Tasst who cannot teleport without extensive ritual setup. Single-hop range is slightly over a hundred miles, maybe a hundred and fifty with Voorish augmentation. More than one hop in an hour is unlikely, that rate won't be possible until tomorrow, and accuracy is extremely poor without prior research or a dimensional beacon. Attempting to teleport onto a ship in motion would be disastrous. How did you get here from the port so quickly?"
>Who and how many are your allies
"Yikk Tasst, who I suppose you could think of as a landed knight, and my roommate Tchalcedo. No regular contact with anyone else, per cell-structure operational security."
>and assets.
"This tower and everything in it, of course. A few informants and scrying foci in nearby towns and villages. Three human cultists, light infantry specialized in wiping out undead."
>What is your objective.
"Mostly we've been gathering data and passing it up the chain. All kinds of stuff: commodity prices, troop movements, ether flux, tavern songs, astrology."
>What are your brethren's intentions for my doctor?
"Interim host, on the way to set up a new cell? I didn't actually 'overhear' the negotiation, but I understand he more or less volunteered. We try to reward that sort of thing, or at least avoid punishing it, just as a matter of not shitting where we eat."
No. 825431 ID: 3abd97

>Prisoner gives the equivalent of an intrigued eyebrow wiggle. "What sort of extraordinary developments?"
Viste ticks a few options down mental fingers:

"Advent of a sufficiently potent common threat. Discovering a reliable control mechanism. Trust."

>Deros Frist is [...]
"Can Yisheng Ji be protected from this?"
No. 825477 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 1, 3 = 8

>asks Helen if she saw which shelf Relicts of Yth is on.
"Actually, I think I remember spotting that one. Let me fetch it for you." Helen speaks loud enough that everybody can hear, but not loud enough to raise suspicion.
No. 825478 ID: af6e04

rolled 1, 1, 1 = 3

Vos moves into position for a surprise attack
No. 825481 ID: d36af7

>"Can Yisheng Ji be protected from this?"
"Mm. Tricky, given that she's already inside. Won't be an issue at all if both of them stick to the deal, but that's not what you're asking, is it? Could try social engineering to lure her out, but that's not much better. He's some sort of god-kin, right? If he could somehow alter his own physiology to not depend on conventional neural tissue, or better yet become completely immaterial, that should work."

>Advent of a sufficiently potent common threat.
"I'll let you know if I notice any. Can't see much from in here, but I've heard there's... a certain knife. At a glance it would seem to be a large but perfectly ordinary knife. A butcher in her shop or a hunter in the woods or anyone at all, who was permitted to carry weapons or even just dangerous tools, could carry and wield it and few would give a second glance. On closer inspection, this initial impression of normalcy seems absurd, since every specific feature of the knife is gaudy and bizarre: the handle is wrapped in ribbons of sharkskin sewn with gold thread, the pommel is a ruby larger than a pigeon's egg, the blade is silvery-blue starmetal and serrated so finely the cutting edge is like a dizzying haze-shrouded horizon where sea blends into sky without any clear border at all. The actual blade is so sharp that it can sheathe itself to the hilt in a solid oak beam without even being pushed, just dropped approximately point-downward from a handspan's height. The knife is intensely magical, and unique. There are two others like it. The specific alloy is one which any competent smith or sage could tell you can never be corroded, not by saltwater nor goldweasels nor rustroaches nor the most ancient black dragon's breath nor the passage of thousands upon thousands of years, yet the knife is also layered with anti-corrosion enchantments which would make the same true of crude pig-iron. It can be deduced that someone wanted that particular knife to last a very long time. Under even closer analysis, the serrations are not exactly regular, nor fractal. They form a complex pattern which never exactly repeats. Particularly clever and diligent analysis reveals that this pattern is a code, a form of language. After a brief introductory portion listing certain obvious facts about the Old Gods, and certain related statements which may once have been true, it explains that there are certain things of which gods do not speak, even when silence and ignorance might doom their most faithful and beloved. It describes the approximate location of such a thing, and particular narrow conditions under which it would be appropriate for the three knives to be brought together at that place, and why. All this in extraordinarily simple yet unambiguous terms, approaching the issue from every angle, like some idealized drill sergeant explaining mathematical proofs to small children. Then it concludes, abruptly, that anyone and everyone should under all other circumstances Not Go Down The Well."
>Discovering a reliable control mechanism.
"There's a pirate captain named... marriage-key? ... something like that, who supposedly knows a thing or two about subjugating and utilizing alien horrors such as you or I. Active down south, last I heard, probably based out of one of those coves around the Stoneheart River."
"What a bizarre yet fascinating concept! Never ceases to amaze me, the kinds of things elvenoids and suchlike can dream up to compensate for their many shortcomings. I think that's why we're really here, you know? All that pork-bellies-down-half-a-copper-per-pound stuff is just institutional subsistence-farming, but it's those revolutionary jewel ideas that make hot-zone espionage actually worthwhile."
No. 825487 ID: d36af7

Vos emerges from the secret passage, slithers across the floor quiet as a whispered subtext to Helen pointing out a shelf next to the stairs. Tittivila's champion grabs the hilt of Tilkos's shortsword with his good hand, to prevent any unexpected movement, then hits the man in the maid outfit with a claw to the temple, exactly hard enough to compress the corpus callosum and induce unconsciousness without lasting injury.

Looks like he's got a chainmail shirt on under the frilly dress. Moonsilver wire, and it's enchanted, either one of which would be a substantial upgrade over Vos's current armor, if not for the fact that it's also got the holy symbol of Mak Thuumn Ngatha worked into the weave. In his pockets he's got a steel key with some odd scratch marks on it, fishing line and hooks, a thumb-sized piece of soap, several flattish pebbles (mostly limestone and flint), and a set of seven bone dice, no two alike.
No. 825553 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 2, 2 = 7

Well I wasn't really planning on swiping all the guy's stuff...but is there anything particularly enchanting about the maid outfit itself?

Either way, probably a good idea to relieve Tilkos of his belongings for the time being and restrain him. Is the parasite inside him still conscious and capable of sending out telepathic signals?
No. 825565 ID: 094652

And now, for the elephant in the room.

Hore asks Esmeraudefordancinglessons. And possibly a few lessons in etiquette. Hopefully the humor involved in teaching a gnoll how to ballroom dance will offset the sheer frustration, though Hore will stop if Esmeraude starts stamping her foot on the ground.

And continue sex between attempts.

Take ten.
No. 825574 ID: d36af7

>anything particularly enchanting about the maid outfit itself?
>rolled 3, 2, 2 = 7
Unusually clean, tidy, and well-mended. Either a minor bound spirit, which aura sight somehow isn't picking up, or it's the only nonessential item around here that's been getting scheduled mundane maintenance and some extra care besides.
No. 825602 ID: 3abd97

>Is the parasite inside him still conscious and capable of sending out telepathic signals?
"My prisoner claims there are only three Tsochar present. In my fist, Yisheng Ji, and Sage Frist.

"It supports the claim Ji volunteered. Do we withdraw, or force the issue?"

Vos should probably stow the restrained Tilkos in the hidden passage. Helen should probably grab the Ji's payment in objects and books from Tilkos so we can attempt to leave peacefully without anyone being sent back to the library (and if we're not leaving peacefully, well, taking their stuff is a lesser offense than the impending violence).

>to the prisoner
"Will Yikk Tasst attempt to warn Tchalcedo of her discovery if we leave her to complete her mission?"

"You have cooperated. What is your preferred resolution?" (Leave it here, evacuation, injure it for show, etc).
No. 825630 ID: 3abd97

>Vos should probably stow the restrained Tilkos in the hidden passage
Or we set him in a chair, unrestrained, and go with the deception here: >>/questdis/114893
No. 825649 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 2, 6 = 14

Aw, I'll let him keep his special maid outfit.

Sounds good to me. Vos will gently set Tilkos on a chair and stand over him trying to look concerned (even though his expression probably only conveys "I got a eel face!' most of the time)
No. 825689 ID: d36af7

>"Will Yikk Tasst attempt to warn Tchalcedo of her discovery if we leave her to complete her mission?"
"Given that it's been a few minutes and he still hasn't come roaring back in here to murder you, I doubt he'll do anything overt about this at all. Telepathy's not much good beyond thirty or forty yards, without a magical boost, but I did manage to warn him just before you caught me."
>"You have cooperated. What is your preferred resolution?" (Leave it here, evacuation, injure it for show, etc).
"Running away down south to lay low out on the frontier sounds good. Point me at some mage whose services you require, but cannot otherwise cost-effectively obtain, and I'll be happy as a clam. Have you got any lead-lined baggage, ideally with contiguous capacity of at least half a cubic foot?"
Tilkos wakes up after about fifteen minutes, and the first thing he sees is glassy eel-teeth. http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff400/fv00354.htm

Out in the garden, Yisheng Ji hears a scream.
No. 825728 ID: ee6e74

rolled 3, 5, 5 = 13

Vos tries to calm Tilkos down and explain what happened. He lays the paladin charm on thick, with a syrupy topping of concern and compassion.
No. 825729 ID: ee6e74

rolled 4, 4, 4 = 12

While Tilkos is unconscious, Helen quickly goes to pull the string off the dining room door and find that Relicts of Yth book. Also will look for that second volume from that boxed set if time permits.
No. 825767 ID: d36af7

It's a curse. Weak and specialized, yes, but still a manifestation of divine power. That string isn't coming off until it's good and ready, and the door won't open early for anything less than 2nd circle spells or mundane violence involving axes and battering rams.
No. 825776 ID: 3abd97

>Have you got any lead-lined baggage, ideally with contiguous capacity of at least half a cubic foot
OOC, but do we? Offhand, I don't think we do. Only lead I'm aware of in our collective inventory is Maru's sling bullets.

If the idea is a space where it will be hidden from telepathic detection, Maria could probably rig a non-lead container to be similarly transmissions opaque? If my as of yet unnamed prisoner turncoat slash deserter was looking for a lead lined object to smuggle them out in right now, that's more problematic.

Did Helen actually finish blocking all the exits/entrances she planned to? I thought Tilkos interrupted that by walking in.
No. 825783 ID: b0bc40

rolled 2, 5, 1 = 8

>a scream
Yisheng Ji is put on guard, not recognizing the voice as being one of his party members. Having already secured his samples, he proceeds cautiously back towards the tower, scanning for hostiles as he goes. "One of yours, Sage? Or an uninvited intruder?"
No. 825819 ID: 3abd97

rolled 5, 6, 5 = 16

All right. While Helen and Vos are putting the room in order (make sure that secret passage is closed), and before Tilkos wakes, Viste will finalize arrangements with her prisoner, and then attempt to sneak them away from the tower, through the kitchen. Plan is to use a chain of portals to get it to a minimum safe distance from the tower before she doubles back to transport the group to port normally, so as to not raise suspicion. Then she'll return with a suitable piece of luggage (warded by Helen, and/or bought in town) and smuggle the ex-prisoner on board without Ji / Tchalcedo making it.

(I assume the port isn't close enough I can zip there and back in mere minutes?).
No. 825831 ID: d36af7

>do we?
>If the idea is a space where it will be hidden from telepathic detection,
Lead blocks many types of detection magic, but doesn't stop innate telepathy. At least not without additional precautions.
>Did Helen actually finish blocking all the exits/entrances she planned to?
>One of yours, Sage?
"Sounded like Tilkos, waking up from - or to - a nightmare." Werra runs out, helps the sage hurry back up the stairs. Inside, Zard is alternately struggling to open the library door and demanding explanation from whoever's on the other side.

>the port is close enough I can zip there and back in mere minutes
Close, yeah. Just a few miles. Round trip inside fifteen minutes?
>rolled 5, 6, 5 = 16
Maybe with a little more luck, or a lot more ambient light.

Viste is standing atop a hedgerow defining the border between two unfamiliar farm fields. It's a moonless night, and any good sight-lines are blocked by low hills, or strings of tall narrow birch trees planted to reduce erosion. In her haste to establish distance from the tower, she has lost track of major roads or landmarks and gotten turned around. The sky appears overcast and black as pitch, right up until she becomes convinced she's completely lost, and begins to panic, at which point the stars come out. She recognizes a constellation, starts to figure out which way ought to be toward the coast, calms down, clouds come back. Disoriented, scared, stars... not the same stars. Seems like they're changing places whenever she looks away.

The turncoat tsochar (who seems to enjoy being referred to simply as 'prisoner') is in a burlap bag slung over her shoulder, with a rusty frying pan between the bag and her travel cloak to prevent him burrowing straight in through cloth, and Filo hovering above and behind, watching to make sure he doesn't try anything else tricky.
No. 825882 ID: 3abd97
File 150402470981.png - (326.88KB , 396x346 , Cropped map.png )

Map of where we are, as requested. >>/questdis/114923

Map key:
1. Front Hall
2. Dining Room
3. Library
4. Kitchen

Sealed doors are highlighted in red. (Helen or Vos is gonna need an excuse for that, I imagine. Just got carried away testing what you'd read? Routine paranoia?).
No. 825904 ID: 3abd97

rolled 5, 3, 4 = 12

>Seems like [the stars are] changing places whenever she looks away.
Hmmm. Either I'm not seeing enough of the sky when I catch a glimpse, or there's something else moving above the clouds blocking sight, or there are false lights up there.

Let's send Filo straight up to get our bearings. Just need enough height to see the sea over the hills or the trees. From the coast, finding the port is relatively easy, and then following the road (more carefully) back to the tower to pick up allies is doable.

Viste will take the sack off of her back, and watch her prisoner herself, while her familiar scouts.
No. 825916 ID: ee6e74

rolled 3, 3, 2 = 8

"Apologies, Master Zard. I was demonstrating a very interesting curse with some unpredictable effects that I recently read about. The other door should be unsealed."
No. 825934 ID: d36af7

>Let's send Filo straight up to get our bearings. Just need enough height to see the sea over the hills or the trees.
>rolled 5, 3, 4 = 12
Filo's flight maneuverability isn't quite good enough to hover straight up and down, so either a helical or sloped flight path is necessary. New problem: from any altitude high enough to see over the trees, whenever the stars become visible, the wind also shifts, and the ground vanishes. Just more stars down there.

Prisoner asks why Viste has stopped, offers whispered tactical advice if there's some sort of tollbooth or security checkpoint.

>The other door should be unsealed
"What, you're expecting us to climb up onto the patio?" says Werra
>very interesting curse with some unpredictable effects
>rolled 3, 3, 2 = 8
Deros Frist rolls his eyes, says something to Yisheng Ji about how she's been like this as long as he's known her, and knocks an odd syncopated rhythm on the library door. With the last tap, it comes unlocked, flies open, and bangs against the wall. "If you're going to run experiments on my staff without their consent, you'd better have properly formatted lab notes this time!"

Tilkos stands up and moves as if to hide behind Vos. Zard, still in the front hall, stares at Helen and silently mouths the words "This time?"

Werra runs up the stairs (surprisingly quick on his feet), checks the patio and both second-floor rooms, then doubles back to ask where the hell that "eh-choo" sword lady ran off to.
No. 825960 ID: 3abd97

>from any altitude high enough to see over the trees, whenever the stars become visible, the wind also shifts, and the ground vanishes. Just more stars down there.
Sounds like alien scout translation error? We found the sea. Or some smaller body of water. The ground "vanishing" is the reflection of the sky becoming visible when the clouds move, which shift with the wind.

>seems to enjoy being referred to simply as 'prisoner'
>offers whispered tactical advice if there's some sort of tollbooth or security checkpoint
They're having the time of their life with this, aren't they.

>doubles back to ask where the hell that "eh-choo" sword lady ran off to
Viste having an established reputation for disappearing and reappearing at odd moments might be useful to the others right now.
No. 825961 ID: af6e04

rolled 2, 4, 2 = 8

>"What, you're expecting us to climb up onto the patio?"
"Well yes! You're young and fit."

>"This time?"
Helen shifts her eyes away and gives a slight shrug.

>where the hell that "eh-choo" sword lady ran off to.
"I think Viste may have been temporarily removed to another plane of existence as a result of the ritual. She should be returned to us before fifteen after the next hour. Or the next quarter moon."
No. 825963 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 1, 2 = 6

>Tilkos stands up and moves as if to hide behind Vos.
Wait, he's hiding behind Vos? Can aura sight give an idea of why?
No. 825968 ID: d36af7

>translation error
>found the sea
No. Eighteen yards up, looking straight down, Filo sees Viste standing on plants and rocks between two muddy fields. Twenty-one yards up, and calm, same thing. Twenty-one yards up and not calm, Filo sees Viste standing on a road of green webbing between two starry voids.

>They're having the time of their life with this, aren't they.
Apparently so. Honestly, who hasn't, at one time or another, fantasized about the dramatic arrival of a dangerous and secretive (but ultimately kind-hearted) stranger, determined to drag them away from their oppressively boring desk job and into some grand adventure? It remains to be seen how well morale will hold up once the novelty has worn off.

Prisoner says there's a farmhouse nearby. Well, probably more of a burrow. Can't actually see it, but there's a telepathy trick for 'pinging' only the minds of people in range who are asleep or unfocused, in such a way that they'll respond unconsciously with a basic self-image. Five mound-builders: two children, mated pair of adults, one elder and not related by blood, maybe a great-aunt-in-law or something. Decent chance they're worm cultists (assuming you're still within a day's hard march of the tower), or at least bribed or blackmailed informants, in which case there are signs and code words for requesting assistance. Even if not, "which way to the sea" is not high-secrecy-value intel.
No. 825976 ID: d36af7

>Wait, he's hiding behind Vos?
Yes. Might also be trying to get to the pantry.
>Can aura sight give an idea of why?
>rolled 3, 1, 2 = 6
Tilkos is still a little dizzy from that blow to the head, but Vos did a decent job of convincing him that the wake-up jump-scare was just a misunderstanding, and explaining various protective and/or healing powers,
whereas Helen Nabot claims to have knocked him out, with no warning, more or less by accident, when he normally considers himself fairly tough and vigilant, so who even knows what she could do on purpose, while Deros Frist is his boss, and just blasted the door open with a 2nd or maybe 3rd circle spell like it was no big deal. The two of them are talking like they might be getting in a fight, and not caring too much about collateral damage. As light infantry trained to slay undead, Tilkos has some idea just how ugly "collateral damage" in a caster fight can be, and no wish to become part of it. Vos seemed like the hardest cover available.
No. 825981 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 1, 6 = 13

>Vos seemed like the hardest cover available.
Oh hahaha. In that case Vos puts on a show of standing strong and confident in front of Tilkos.
No. 826113 ID: b0bc40

rolled 5, 6, 5 = 16

Once Yisheng Ji has confirmed there's no actual danger, he'll relax and accept however much of the budget package they have prepared for him.

>she's been like this as long as he's known her
"Indeed? What a small world in which we live. I myself have only recently made her acquaintance. How long have you known her?"

>they might be getting in a fight, and not caring too much about collateral damage
Yisheng Ji will politely note the missing book alongside his small talk, and dryly suggest it may be preferable to help him find it before throwing the library into disarray.
No. 826114 ID: 3d2d5f

rolled 5, 2, 1 = 8

Okay, if it's not a misunderstanding, the next most likely explaination is Filo flying pretty much right on top of the planer boundary between old gods 1 and 2.

All right, let's try asking for directions. If they're helpful, Viste will leave them a gold coin in thanks, and as an appology for waking them in the middle of the night.
No. 826338 ID: d36af7

>dryly suggest it may be preferable to help him find it before throwing the library into disarray.
>rolled 5, 6, 5 = 16
Sage Frist takes offense at the apparent sarcastic implication his library is already in such disarray that a brawl would make it no worse. He grabs the money and pouch of dehydrated wall from Tilkos, Relicts of Yth off the secret door, hands the bundle over to Yisheng Ji and firmly asks you all to leave.
The recognition procedure involves vehement and exasperated denial of involvement in any sort of conspiracy, and use of a few carefully distorted expletives such as "dog-gammed." Even after the encounter is over, Viste is uncertain whether she met an actual informant or just someone willing to be helpful to strangers. Still, the directions are good, and it's simple enough to follow the slothcart-track back to town.
>rolled 5, 2, 1 = 8
Viste attempts to portal directly into a local lighthouse, and from there back to the ship to make arrangements for a divination-resistant storage compartment for the prisoner, but aims for the wrong light, in the wrong window, and thus walks in on Hore and Esmeraude's room at the inn.

Hore has previously explained that some of the plasma weapon's gyros are out of whack, so configuring for long-range fire just exactly wrong causes the whole thing to glow and oscillate like it's about to explode. Esmeraude is laying on her back on the bed, apparently trying to manually stabilize the oscillation by pinning Hore's forearm between her thighs, knees crossed, feet hooked under the corresponding armpit (she's very flexible). Neither of them are wearing anything that remotely resembles adequate protective equipment. In between gasps and moans, they're talking military strategy, particularly the situation back in Eckton.
No. 826365 ID: 094652

>Esmeraude using Hore's arm as a giant unstable dildo bomb
Okay, this went too far. Having spent about six hours in a bipolar confusion between cultural exchange and actual hedonism, and resorting to overclocking an unstable and potentially explosive piece of technology that happens to be grafted to her arm, Hore decides this is a good place to wrap things up for now. If a quick dinner is included in the inn's rental policy, Hore will do that with Esmeraude and get back to the ship, where they may continue this liaison with less intense fervor but over a LONGER period of time. And possibly with Vos.

"Oh hi. The date went well. I take it you got entire textbooks of useful information from Dr. Frist?"
No. 826414 ID: d36af7

>overclocking an unstable and potentially explosive piece of technology
Esmeraude pouts and whines that she already made Hore and all her equipment magically resistant to corrosion AND vibration-based damage, so it should be perfectly safe. Barely acknowledging Viste's sudden presence at all, certainly not treating it as a reason to desist cuddling.
Eventually she calms down, admits to being hungry, and reluctantly wraps the acid-ruined bedsheet around herself as a sarong before proceeding downstairs. Her black dress is... somewhere, she'll find it or reassemble it or steal a new one or something in the morning.

Main thing available tonight at the inn's dining room is rich chicken-based sausage inside little pockets of pasta, which are in turn covered with some thick spicy vegetable sauce, and cheese on top. Esmeraude orders three large bowls of that, then turns to ask what Hore and Viste want.
No. 826422 ID: 094652

One bowl of the special, fresh (< 1 week old) apple cider, a salad with cooked salmon bits, and a slice of pumpkin pie.

While they wait for the food, Hore asks Viste if everyone is alive and not crippled, what the general plan is, and why it involved her teleporting into the middle of a private room.
No. 826431 ID: 3abd97

>Esmeraude is laying on her back on the bed, apparently trying to manually stabilize the oscillation by pinning Hore's forearm between her thighs, knees crossed, feet hooked under the corresponding armpit (she's very flexible)
Viste absently notes that her libido is apparently much lower than Davina's. That display really should be provoking more of a reaction. It's a curious feeling, anticipating your own response but failing to experience it. Feels like there should be a German word for that.

>I take it you got entire textbooks of useful information from Dr. Frist?
"Yes, Yisheng Ji's payment included books."

And we returned with rather more information than we expected, besides.

>Her black dress is... somewhere, she'll find it or reassemble it or steal a new one or something in the morning.
Viste's inner perfectionist, and an imagined (?) imaginary maid silently cry out at this casual disregard for good equipment.

>Hore asks Viste if everyone is alive and not crippled,

>what the general plan is, and why it involved her teleporting into the middle of a private room.
"...a security check."

On that note, Viste will decline the offer of a meal, and excuse herself, as there are other things she needs to check on tonight.

Let's see about getting "Prisoner" their storage compartment, and then heading (more slowly and carefully) back up the road to pick up the others on their way home from the tower.

If anyone inquires after Helen's accidentally banishing Viste, she will obliquely reply that she did, in fact, find herself on a winding green path, with stars above and below, earlier.
No. 826523 ID: b0bc40

rolled 5, 1, 5 = 11

>Sage Frist takes offense at the apparent sarcastic implication his library is already in such disarray that a brawl would make it no worse
This is the exact opposite of what Yisheng Ji meant, and I don't understand how you could possibly have interpreted it in that way, unless you're trying to make a statement about Sage Frist's inhabitant having extremely poor comprehension of the subtleties of human linguistics. Yisheng Ji, noting a brawl is about to start in the library, is very clearly suggesting finding his book before the brawl throws the library into disarray, after which point the book would become much more difficult to find in the mess.

"Very well. Goodbye."
Yisheng Ji will leave immediately once he has his items, a bit put out by the sudden disrespect. He does not look back or wait for anyone else, as he's currently annoyed at Vos (for much the same reason) and Helen is a stranger. Viste will pick them up when she returns, so he's not concerned. He'll travel back to the ship on his own, taking the extra time to clear his mind and purge his recent accumulation of choleric thoughts. The darkness doesn't pose a problem for him, and he has perfect faith in his sense of direction and memory of the route taken on the way over.
No. 826557 ID: d36af7

>rolled 5, 1, 5 = 11
About halfway back to the coast, Yisheng Ji meets Viste coming the other way.

>poor comprehension of the subtleties of human linguistics
Maybe a little? Deros Frist may be widely traveled, but is not all that well socialized, as evidenced in part by the poor quality tea. Mostly it was a sore subject, mentioned while he was already upset, accompanied by a bad roll. It's not unheard-of for someone in a position of potential weakness to interpret requests to calm down as patronizing, or compliments as coded insults. The good doctor may know the function of every nerve, and deftly manipulate each in turn to heal or harm, but still brush against a raw one from time to time by accident. I am also trying, and at least partly failing, to resist the urge to point out your own assumption that I'd banned you from this game as evidence of how simple misunderstandings can lead to disproportionate-seeming hostility between otherwise reasonable people.
>storage compartment
Hiding among all those crated tungsten ingots turns out to be a more than adequate substitute for a lead-lined container, and the concealed prisoner can subsist on surplus q-rations, since Davina and Viste together have only been eating about half the amount contractually provided.
No. 826582 ID: af6e04

rolled 1, 4, 6 = 11

Helen asks for those notes before she leaves.
No. 826743 ID: d36af7

Sage Frist points out the three-volume slipcase. Helen explains about the cookbook. Tilkos hesitantly mentions that he saw such a book, with a sheaf of loose papers next to it, but it was on 'the locked shelf.'

Sage Frist slaps his own face, drags his hand slowly downward and groans, "That damn thing. It'll be the death of me." He turns to Helen and explains that there are some shelves and cabinets upstairs which he warded much more carefully, but then accidentally locked the key to one inside the other, and the key to the second inside the first, or something like that. He should probably have just hired a master cabinetmaker and a logophage to disassemble the whole mess and start over by now, but money's been tight, and it's embarrassing to resort to such brute-force measures when there ought to be a more elegant in-house solution.
No. 826763 ID: 3abd97

>About halfway back to the coast, Yisheng Ji meets Viste coming the other way.
Viste will greet the good doctor politely, and inquire after the others.

Depending on his preference, she'll either speed his return to port, or continue to the tower to pick up the others first.
No. 826813 ID: af6e04

rolled 1, 1, 3 = 5

>ought to be a more elegant in-house solution.
Well Helen's probably not the one to ask for 'elegant' solutions, but she'll offer to take a look.
No. 826857 ID: d36af7

>rolled 1, 1, 3 = 5
Deros reluctantly consents to allow Helen to take a quick look at the bookshelf in question, on the off chance that she'd be able to spot some trivial way to get it open, but insists that she not actually touch anything (as there are potentially deadly magic traps involved) and not take more than a few minutes. After that, he plans to check in with those guests he mentioned, and then straight to bed. He really does need to get some sleep. Big day tomorrow, after all, wouldn't want to be all drowsy while trying to teleport more than a thousand miles.

Up two flights of stairs, in the tidy but vaguely neglected-seeming master bedroom, there's a bookcase enclosed with leaded glass doors, each with a simple lock. Any serious attempt to open the shelves without the proper key, including by breaking the glass, would set off a trap that would fill the room with fire. Helen cannot, in fact, see any straightforward way to avoid the trap without that key, which is sitting in plain view on the center shelf, between Magic of the Dragon Lords and the book you're looking for.
No. 826872 ID: af6e04

rolled 6, 2, 4 = 12

Helen's not about to give up now.

Would simply removing the shelf from the wall trigger the trap? I assume breaking the lock would trigger the trap, but what if the lock just suddenly ceased to exist? Or never existed in the first place? Is it warded against localized teleportation and penetration from other planes? Could one simply create a copy of the key, or is there something special about THAT particular piece of metal?

Are there any other curses the God of Locks can perform that may be relevant? Can I go Zorth?
No. 826976 ID: d36af7

Some of those things might work, but neither quickly nor safely.
>rolled 6, 2, 4 = 12
You should probably make an effort to be gone before someone else notices that the other 'guest' went missing at the same time Viste did.
No. 826993 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 5, 5 = 13

>neither quickly nor safely.
>You should probably make an effort to be gone

Guess I lived a full life. Helen tries to eat the lock with the cosmic maw.
No. 827009 ID: d36af7

The bookshelf is now open, Helen is bleeding profusely from glass shards embedded in the vicinity of her spine, and Deros Frist's bedroom is on fire.

Tilkos, Werra, and Zard can all condense water, but not enough, not quickly enough, to stop the fire from spreading. They're doing what they can with buckets and soaked blankets. The sage himself seems to be panicking rather than responding effectively to the crisis; he says he's got higher-circle spells which could put it out, but doesn't have them prepared.

It's a dark night, and overcast, but not foggy, so Viste and Yisheng Ji see flickering orange light illuminating a column of smoke from the sage's tower. Esmeraude's Aqueous Orb spell could extinguish a house fire with minimal risk of killing people trapped inside, only issues are how fast she can get there, and whether you even consider this situation to be your problem.
No. 827010 ID: af6e04

rolled 5, 5, 3 = 13

Helen evacuates through the path of least fire.
No. 827011 ID: af6e04

After grabbing the books and notes
No. 827012 ID: 0fa7eb

Hore has a powerful axe, good reflexes, resistance to fire with her newfound magical knowledge (and it's the element she chose so she gets defensive bonuses), and enough castle raiding knowledge to get through a burning tower in ten minutes flat. Time to play fireman.

Hore shouts out a rallying cry to the others! Between their various spells and fighting prowess, they can rush through the tower and steal salvage half the library before it smolders to useless ashes! Meanwhile, Hore and Esmeraude can focus on rescuing anyone they can find!

All Hore is waiting for is the go sign from Maru and Esmeraude.
No. 827028 ID: d36af7

Hore is more than a mile away, inside a completely different building, and distracted with food. ISRU would be the option for absorbing (rather than producing) fire.
No. 827159 ID: 3abd97

>Viste and Yisheng Ji see flickering orange light illuminating a column of smoke from the sage's tower
Viste gives a small sigh and offers a rhetorical question: "...Vos and Helen were still inside, weren't they."

To Ji: "Your services as a doctor may be needed, shortly."

Viste will double back to the town and pick up Esmeraude (and sure, Hore, if she's there and willing), request her assistance in putting out a fire, and get them to the appropriate floor in the tower.

Viste will be indifferent to Esmeraude showing up at the tower in her bedsheet or stark naked.

Spending an OOC question for knowledge on fast / effective travel route, so as to avoid getting lost in the dark or popping in the wrong window this time. >>/questdis/115097 >>/questdis/115103
No. 827169 ID: 68db25

rolled 5, 6, 4 = 15

>services as a doctor may be needed
"Hmph. Everyone is so quick to 'need' my services when they're in trouble, yet so eager to harass and obstruct me as soon as someone unrelated to them requests those same services."

Yisheng Ji will grumble, but irritatedly follow Viste back anyway, wholly disgusted by this whole affair and everyone involved.
No. 827192 ID: d36af7

Esmeraude climbs on to Viste's back and the two of them arrive at the tower less than a minute later, A thousand cubic feet of magically cohesive water crash in through the roof access door, down hallways and stairs, extinguishing fires and inflicting further damage on wooden interior walls. By dawn, the sage's tower has been nearly gutted, with only the dining room, front hall, patio, and stone exterior wall still intact enough to be structurally trustworthy.

Deros Frist has no significant physical injuries, but is unresponsive, slack-jawed in shock. Tilkos has a broken arm. Zard has a mild concussion, from being knocked into a wall by the flood, and possibly some pneumonia from almost drowning. Werra passed out from smoke inhalation and has yet to regain consciousness. Vos wasn't hurt by the actual fire, but suffered a lot of stigmatic bleeding in the course of providing divinely inspired coordination and moral support, and his healing goo is tapped out for the day. Helen has third degree burns on her lower back, second degree on her upper back and legs, glass fragments and debris embedded in her wounds, but did manage to rescue all the notes.

Apparently the Baumhund Conjecture is one possible answer to an important open question in theoretical thaumaturgy and cosmology. It's well known, among the kind of people who study this sort of thing, that the Old God of magic, whose sacred number is five, is also the Old God of destruction, and the ocean. So, when someone casts a spell or otherwise uses magic, what happens to the actual magical energy involved? Some say it's consumed, like ore and charcoal being used up to make metal, that there's only so much magic in the world and eventually it'll all be gone. That's the decaying universe model. Some say it circulates back around, either quickly (steady-state model) or through some complex process that may go off-balance for centuries at a time (cyclic model). The Baumhund Conjecture is that none of these are true, that magic is neither consumable nor conserved. Instead, using magic leaves you more magic than you started with, but it gradually decays when neglected. Nobody's been able to derive an adequate cosmological model from the Conjecture, something that can survive questions as straightforward as 'whence the first mage' without adding a smokescreen of unverifiable postulates, but it has an intriguing record of predicting obscure experimental results slightly more accurately than competing theories.
No. 827194 ID: 68db25

rolled 6, 3, 2 = 11

>various injuries
Alright, Yisheng Ji will just go ahead and spend all but one of his remaining spell slots for the day on various true healing and lymphatic auditing (if necessary), distributed across all afflicted parties except Vos who has no physical injuries, to at least get people back on their feet, starting with Helen and going in order of most to least injured. He will maintain one single 2nd circle spell in reserve, just in case.
No. 827197 ID: 3abd97

rolled 2, 3, 1 = 6

One can hope the more valuable tomes were appropriately warded against fire and water damage.

>damage done to assets of Mak Thuum Ngatha's followers, by "halping!"
Privately, Viste is not truly bothered by this turn of events. She's not sure she could have arranged more effective sabotage under the pretense of assistance if she'd been trying.

Also, the ensuing chaos of the fire and flood provide rather effective cover for "Prisoner's" disappearance.

Viste will set some Invisible Maids (and Mending) to set right what they can while Yisheng Ji works. Might save some possessions, but I expect structural repairs to the building are beyond the scope of cantrips.

It's time to get the half-bedraggled mail delivery team back to port, before the merchant ship leaves.
No. 827198 ID: 094652

Hore lets out a low whine as Viste and Esmeraude teleport/fly to the tower. Hore figured Ji and company were just going to deliver the letter without incident, then have a 'formal politeness' which involves a ten-hour discussion about politics. Did she waste the opportunity for serious wealth and knowledge just to have a romp in a random inn?

... Meh, getting a new girlfriend was worth it.

After Ji comes back grumbling about his ungrateful colleagues, Hore gives Ji a sympathetic shoulder. You'd think that helping people for peanuts would garner sympathy by the boatload, but no, the world cares more about good looks, polite manners, and giant tits than it does about ugly people who get the job done. And apparently that does not include tits with scars.

Okay, MAYBE it gives two @#$%s about the ethics of the people it's judging, but that's no excuse to show disdain for being civil. Hore apologizes for not showing more gratitude to Ji for saving her life (getting yelled at by Maria made her forget) and gives Ji a peck on the cheek. If he wants to talk about something to her he just needs to ask.
No. 827743 ID: d36af7

>the more valuable tomes were appropriately warded against fire and water damage.
Yep. Anything presentation-quality usually has some minor enchantment against grime and decay worked into it, so the nicer books won't burn easily and can withstand short-term immersion in water. That doesn't apply to lab notes, or cheap palimpsests,
>Invisible Maids (and Mending) to set right what they can
>rolled 2, 3, 1 = 6
but prompt and diligent damage control paired with low-end magical repairs do as well as could reasonably be hoped.

Lymphatic Auditor restores Sage Frist to some degree of lucidity. He answers some simple questions, cooperates with further treatment, and is just getting started on a cranky old man/thwarted supervillain "you fools, what have you done, it's all ruined, get off my lawn" rant when he and Helen simultaneously vanish with a quiet puff of smoke and dizzyingly intense knot of divination magic. Vos's aura sight is dazzled by overstimulation, and even Yisheng Ji's ability to directly perceive the passage of time registers an odd irregularity.

Tilkos stands up, points a crossbow (loaded, cocked, and carefully braced to minimize the stress on his broken arm) at Vos, Viste, and Esmeraude, demanding an explanation of what just happened to his boss. Esmeraude hastily puts her hands up and claims ignorance.

A mound-builder (olive-brown skin except for bright pink tattoos coiled around the forearms, distinctive red porcelain mask and yellow-and-green leather satchel, both proprietary marks of the Courier's Guild, travel-stained clothes, smells vaguely of honey) steps out of the woodshed and shouts:

"Excuse me! I've got a letter here from Deros Frist, to be delivered no earlier than eight minutes after dawn today, no later than, and I quote, 'when the recipient picks a fight with the fire brigade,' and I think we'd all rather I not miss that particular deadline. You in the frilly dress, are you Tilkos?"

The letter is postmarked a month ago. In it, Deros says that after 'the anomaly' he arrived safely, in a rural inn just two days west of Passholdt by conventional travel, and is making progress on that engineering problem. Managed to wrangle a substantial bonus for responding so quickly, so financial problems are likely solved for the foreseeable future. He's still upset about his home being destroyed, but now that he's had a couple weeks to calm down and think it over, he understands it was all just a well-intentioned accident, and Viste's visible efforts to clean up the mess count for a lot.

>back to port, before the merchant ship leaves
Any particular plans for the next three days of travel? There might be enough factional complexity aboard ship for secret plots to be developing and crashing into each other, now.

Three days later (night 31 of the trip, now less than a week away from Overmire and payday) the ship stops at a small city surrounded by grassy fields, wracked by some sort of organized-labor dispute. Local stevedores are on strike (meaning they won't load or unload, and may take violent exception to any 'scabs' who try to do so in their place) in solidarity with masons and bricklayers, who are objecting to some newly-introduced creature or technique, full details of which they're not doing a great job of explaining, aside from the fact that it poses a threat to their business model. Angry crowd is picketing in front of a half-finished palace. There's a family of seven catfolk (possibly some obscure tribe of elvenoid, certainly from very far away) holed up inside the construction site, one more on the roof. That last one's big as an ogre and prepared to hip-fire some sort of magical artillery piece (tripod folded underneath, normally needs two men working together just to move) if the protesters try to force their way through the front gate. A few housecat-sized blue beetles are flying around the city and talking to people at random, trying to stir up support for catfolk in general and the new building technique in particular, but their voices have an unnerving buzz and they're not very smart, maybe comparable to small children.
No. 827754 ID: 5c99d7

rolled 6, 4, 1 = 11

Hore cares less about the consequences of this new policy that the workers feel threatened by, and more about the current conflict that threatens to spark a civil war. She's been hired for a few wars that started when the local company towns had to deal with unions on strike, and something violent got out of hand. Just like that giant kitten holding a magical minigun at a crowd of civilians.

Hore suggests they take action. The crowd THINKS it is the will of the people, but there are leaders in there that work less on ordering the crowd and more on keeping it from branching out into countless opinions and infighting. If the Fire Hawks find and negotiate with these "social stitch-men", maybe they can choose a side.

But first, Hore decides to take a chance and do a little scan-and-sniff. Hopefully nobody is packing any firewater, or this could get REALLY ugly.
No. 827761 ID: d36af7

>threatens to spark a civil war
Nah, nobody wants one of those. They just finished that big one with all the secret demonology stuff, and anyway this is strictly a local issue. Worst plausible outcome here is protest escalates into a riot, heavy on the roof kills some people trying to break it up, catgirls get torn apart by angry mob, palace gets burned down and rebuilt from scratch. Maybe, say, two dozen dead, a hundred more injured in any significant way, out of a city of over seven thousand. That's the worst case. More likely they're just going to yell at each other and obstruct trade until some third party gets involved to arbitrate a mutually agreeable settlement or impose new legislation.

Unfortunately the trade they're obstructing is the same trade you're contracted to protect, so that third party might turn out to be you.
No. 827768 ID: 193edf

Oh, almost forgot.
On the ship, Hore kissed Vos and showed her new appendage, thanking him and lightly praising Tiitivila for her flesh blessing. Seriously, these kinds of presents explain how Vos is so utterly devout, and Hore (and possibly Esmeraude considering her worship of Hore's genitals) can get into that. In fact, they both decided to give him a taste of their appreciation.

Take ten, as Hore (and Vos if he was willing) slowly persuaded Esmeraude of incentive to stay with the Fire Hawks even further (But none of those dangerous kinks like overclocking weapons. Esmeraude might have the spells, but Hore doesn't want to develop unsafe habits.) They basically screwed in the cabin for days.
No. 827788 ID: 3d2d5f

rolled 3, 5, 2 = 10

>we just sent a resourceful, intelligent and spellcasting spy several weeks into the past
Oh my goodness, I am laughing my ass off. There's gotta be ways he can exploit that that more than makes up for the damage done to his home.

...and incidentally, we completely cleared the tower of tsochari.

Did the letter mention Helen? Knowing where our ally is saves us the trouble of an investigation, or immediate search and rescue.

>Any particular plans for the next three days of travel? There might be enough factional complexity aboard ship for secret plots to be developing and crashing into each other, now.

Was planning on having Dav spend at least some of the time talking to Esmeraude (though Hore may have her preoccupied). The two fallen nobles certainly have things I'm common that could be used to foster a positive disposition or mutual sympathy (even if Esmeraude's hedonist and duty stats are probably the inverse of Dav's).

Davina should also probably arrange for her social face to make contact with "Prisoner" so there's someone who can talk more freely with it. Seems a bad idea to leave it to go stir crazy and bored.

Someone should probably be fostering goodwill with "Cap", our former bandit chief, in case he tries something independent of Esmeraude. Not sure who would be best for that.

>"Hmph. Everyone is so quick to 'need' my services when they're in trouble, yet so eager to harass and obstruct me as soon as someone unrelated to them requests those same services."
Davina will make a point of thanking Yisheng Ji for his efforts above and beyond the call of duty at the tower (while giving no indication Vos betrayed his confidence). His assisting the sage, the sage's guest, and the sage's guards surely helped prevent escalating to a violent incident after the fire.

>Davina permitted her to conduct some quick, and fairly safe, but disgustingly invasive 'research,' she could develop a new Contact {Entity} variant
Possibly retroactive, but if that's something Esmeraude brought up, Davina will allow it. (With a wry comment that between her familiar and herself, that's the first time the former was the one being propositioned).

>local civil unrest
First things first. Do the strikers and potential mob pose an immediate threat to our clients, or are they merely preventing resupply at this port? How far is the construction and the crowd from where we're docked?

Let's listen to what one of these blue beetles has to say. Filo might even be good for bug on bug diplomacy.
No. 827878 ID: d36af7

>Did the letter mention Helen?
Yes, though not in much detail beyond her also having arrived safely. Last he saw she was haggling for passage aboard some sort of land-ship.

> Do the strikers and potential mob pose an immediate threat to our clients, or are they merely preventing resupply at this port?
Just preventing resupply. A bit of rope, tar, and timbers for routine repair and maintenance, fresh food and water, that kind of thing. Could survive without any of that until you reach Overmire, eat mostly hardtack and have Daniel put in extra shifts on condenser duty, but morale might suffer, water rationing wouldn't be good for that portable herb garden Yisheng Ji is trying to cultivate, and if there's some sort of delay, or a sudden storm, deferred maintenance and supply shortages would make that much worse.

Bribing, intimidating, and/or sweet-talking the longshoremen's union into looking the other way while your crew grabs some essential provisions might be possible. If they did treat you as scabs and resort to violence, it would likely be more of a "teach 'em a lesson" beat-down than an all-out murder attempt, but that doesn't rule out the possibility of some vindictive thug deliberately inflicting disabling or disfiguring wounds.

Being hardened mercenaries with magical support, there's a good chance you'd win even in a stand-up fight against all the enforcers the union could scrape together (on short notice at least) http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2001-06-24 but the bosun would prefer things not escalate to that point. He's going to need to keep dealing with these people in the future, and doesn't want a feud started on his company's behalf.

> How far is the construction and the crowd from where we're docked?
Just over a mile straight inland. The city is sort of a gibbous moon shape, flatter side extending out onto the water, very elegantly planned with avenues radiating out from a central plaza and an outer wall exactly one mile in radius. There's a greenbelt of parkland and gardens for another half-mile outside the wall, with the palace construction taking place just north of the main road leaving the east gate. Anywhere beyond the greenbelt, particularly around roads, is encrusted with shantytowns and squatter camps.

>Time travel
Happens a lot with Wishes, but it's surprisingly difficult to set up on purpose.

>in the cabin
Hammocks, more likely, since Davina and Viste have dibs on the only contractually-specified private cabin. Alternatively, Vos could grant gills as a mutation and you could play around underwater while the ship is at anchor, or someone could scrape together the cash for a tea ceremony kit and other ritual implements (25 gold, including an adequate supply of candles) so Esmeraude could share her flight spell and go on a romp in the clouds.
No. 827896 ID: 094652

Hore tells Maru of something she learned from the daughter of a wealthy merchant.

"Well, we could start a bidding war between the Union workers and the shareholders on whether or not we properly pay for the supplies and safe passage. If the workers win the bid and pay us in store credit, they let us leave in exchange for a heavy markup of our purchases. If the shareholders win the bid and pay us in supplies, we take our supplies and go, fighting the workers if we must. The trick will be to declare a starting bid that is low enough to attract both parties, then use social manipulation to turn the bidding war into a matter of pride. To keep the obvious bluff going, we need to puff up our party, higher and higher, with theatrics and power showoffs to support the claim that having the 'heroes' (aka us) pick a side will somehow increase the odds of that side winning."

Boy, the Youngmasons know how to land a contract. Azure loved to talk about her father's grand misadventures in underhanded social manipulation for business development.

No. 828043 ID: d36af7

>Was planning on having Dav spend at least some of the time talking to Esmeraude (though Hore may have her preoccupied). The two fallen nobles certainly have things I'm common that could be used to foster a positive disposition or mutual sympathy (even if Esmeraude's hedonist and duty stats are probably the inverse of Dav's).
Any particular subject? http://oglaf.com/princessparty/

>Davina should also probably arrange for her social face to make contact with "Prisoner" so there's someone who can talk more freely with it. Seems a bad idea to leave it to go stir crazy and bored.
>rolled 3, 5, 2 = 10
Prisoner explains that some of the machinery depicted in Relicts of Yth could be used as a long-distance communication device, while the 'glass grape' contains contact information and codes for authentication and/or encryption. Naturally someone would need to actually build the device before it could be used.

>Someone should probably be fostering goodwill with "Cap", our former bandit chief, in case he tries something independent of Esmeraude.
Any time anyone speaks to him above a whisper without Esmeraude present, his initial reply consists of obscene imprecations against their family, their faith, and any other psychological weak points he's managed to identify, all in a casual how-do-you-do sort of tone. Maintaining enough composure to continue the conversation beyond that point requires a roll, and an agenda more focused than general probative small talk.

>Let's listen to what one of these blue beetles has to say. Filo might even be good for bug on bug diplomacy.
"Hi! I'm a bug! I don't want to take away jobs, or hurt anybozdy. I just want to do my own job. My job isz to make buildings out of reszin! At standard thickness I can secrete fifteen square feet per hour just by myszelf, in all sortzs of pretty colors, even see-through! Wait, does see-through count as a color? I don't think people should get in trouble for doing a better job, faszter, for leszs money, and being cuter or fuzzier. Are you from around here? You szmell funny. I'm part of a hive mind, so I could relay messages to any of my fellow bugs within a few miles if you want to say hi to someone, or help out my boss."
No. 828305 ID: 3abd97

rolled 4, 2, 3 = 9

>Any particular subject?
I was thinking to try bonding over common experiences. Neither of them has had a peer with a similar background to talk to recently. (And even back when they did have peers to interact with, there were probably politics in the way).

Which I suppose might include military doctrine, if that's where Esmeraude wants to take the conversation? I suspect the two of them have somewhat different philosophical approaches, there.

>Any time anyone speaks to him [...]
Given the constraints of the bonds Maria placed on him, that sounds like an attempt to deliberately provoke someone into giving him more options.

>Hi! I'm a bug!
Oh my gosh these things are adorable. (IC and OOC reaction, there).

>I don't think people should get in trouble for doing a better job, faszter, for leszs money, and being cuter or fuzzier.
Regrettably, that's rarely how local monopolies tend to see things.
>Are you from around here?
No, I am not.
>or help out my boss
Who is your boss?

That's one side of the story. Someone might want to try getting the other. (If there's a classist element to this unrest, one of the party who doesn't dress like nobility might have an easier time at that).
No. 828308 ID: 094652

rolled 3, 1, 1 = 5

>That's one side of the story. Someone might want to try getting the other. (If there's a classist element to this unrest, one of the party who doesn't dress like nobility might have an easier time at that).
Not it! Hore demonstrates why by walking within five feet of the crowd and attempts to strike up a simple, non-hostile, non-sexual conversation.
No. 828329 ID: af6e04

rolled 3, 2, 5 = 10

>romp in the clouds.
Sounds fun, but Vos is kinda broke.

>Vos could grant gills as a mutation and you could play around underwater while the ship is at anchor
Sure, if Hore is up for another flesh blessing

>one of the party who doesn't dress like nobility
Looks like Hore got a pretty good roll, but Vos will go with her either way.
No. 828584 ID: d36af7

>simple conversation
>rolled 3, 1, 1 = 5
One of the off-duty stevedores gives Hore a friendly punch to the shoulder. Twenty minutes later, they're in a nearby tavern, the 'Ox and Spade,' sharing ale and meat pies with the union's middle management and chatting about local history. Apparently the guild members are, as a whole, more (figuratively) dog people than cat people.

The masons and bricklayers have had it good for the past two generations, by dwarven reckoning, first in laying out all those broad avenues and setting up new buildings to go between them, then fortifications during the war and reconstruction afterward, but now the guild's got too many pensioners and not enough young blood. Extramuros slum-dwellers can't afford guild rates, so there's no point trying to punish them for doing shoddy work themselves, but when the Prince brings in some foreign sorcery to set up a new palace, well, that's their best customer base at stake.

Now, the Prince says it's just a "one-time exception," and technically outside the scope of the Guild's charter anyway since it's on the greenbelt and not made of earth or stone or even wood, but that's how it always starts, don't you see? First a crack, then a trickle, then the whole dam thing suddenly comes crashing down.

Supposedly that new palace is going to be some grand administrative nerve center for collecting taxes and enforcing building codes on the slums and thus overseeing the next phase of the city's expansion, but how can anybody trust the Prince to look out for Guild interests if the whole project starts by loop-holing around them? Can't expect anything good to come from building on a flawed foundation.

Vos is also tolerated at the tavern in question, as Hore's friend, but has to make do without free drinks.

>not from around here
"Where are you from, then? Is everybody made of the same kind of not-meat there?"
>Who is your boss?
"Sister Snart of the Nyaraku Nyanco!"
Based on an unpublished and incomplete character/group concept originally by Nigel Wong aka Silent Wayfarer.
>local monopolies
"Mono... pole. Is that like a tent-pole? All the weight on one compressive element is silly. Teeny little bit of lateral stress, and it fails by buckling. Gotta get some cross-braces in there! Or at least flare out the top, if it's supporting a broad ceiling." The bug seems to have an encyclopedic intuitive knowledge of architecture and structural engineering, despite being otherwise naive and completely illiterate. Understands diagrams well enough, and applied math, but struggles with any sort of abstraction and tends to deal with complex concepts by attempting to extrude miniature models. It can produce almost ten pounds of resin in an hour, and claims to be able to maintain that rate of production more than 20 hours per day. The whole hive, two dozen beetles at full strength, only eats as much as three humans. Where's all that extra mass coming from?

>an attempt to provoke someone into giving him more options
>rolled 4, 2, 3 = 9
He cheerfully admits to this, and asks whether or not, if their positions were reversed, Davina would also seek to make the best use of her own social skills in an effort to secure, if not complete freedom, at least more comfortable daily living conditions and occasional treats.
No. 828812 ID: 3abd97

Oh whups, I got swordsman diplomacy in my princess party.

>He cheerfully admits to this, and asks whether or not, if their positions were reversed, Davina would also seek to make the best use of her own social skills in an effort to secure, if not complete freedom, at least more comfortable daily living conditions and occasional treats.
"Oh, indubitably, though perhaps through different tactics.

"You seek to improve your accommodations then? Certain restrictions are necessary, but I did hope we were offering you more generous treatment than you might have found in Eckton."

>Is everybody made of the same kind of not-meat there?
"No, I'm something of a special case in that respect."

>encyclopedic intuitive knowledge of architecture and structural engineering
How do they feel about sharp corners on convex architectural elements?
No. 830163 ID: d36af7

>different tactics
"Then I hope you won't begrudge me doing my best to adapt my forces to the terrain."
>more generous treatment
"There's room for plenty of fine distinctions between 'good treatment' and 'not being burned alive,' I think. How did your mother handle guests and captives?"

>sharp corners on convex architectural elements
"You mean like the szpike on top of an onion dome? Sure, we could do that! You think the palace might look better with...? No, no, gotta stick to the blueprints. Or did you mean concave, like the perpendicular angles you see inszide cabinetwork with prefabricated planks? I get 'em mixed up all the time too. Those aren't very szmart to put in a big building, though, not when we could be making things out of reszin! Conczentrates the forczes. It's juszt a failure point waiting to happen."

Builder bug cheerfully starts to 'sketch' out a 3-D example. Gimme a roll for that phobia.
No. 830177 ID: 094652

Hore has spent a few minutes still confused; this is the first time in over a year she's been greeted with joy from a crowd, and they're not even military! She's not poorly shaped, but usually the scars and creepy Gnoll smile put people off... Did Esmeraude do something to her face?

To prevent hostilities, Hore will continue to take her time (take 10) for any further conversations with these exceptionally friendly townsfolk. Time for some questions:

1) Who did they send in to negotiate with the prince before things got ugly? Hore explains that royalty these days tend to hand out well-documented explanations made by their advisers so they don't have to talk at length to their 'boorish' generals, merchants, and diplomats just because they might be descended from commoners. If the Fire Hawks got a copy of the documentation, they might be able to work something out, or figure out if the Prince is up to no good, and expose him if he is.
2) Hore noticed a group of kittens on the way in. Are they the builders, or just hired muscle? Are they the only family of builders, and if not, are they the only clan? If they're all from one clan, then there's usually a soft spot that the families will agree to, not just bickering groups of scabs.
3) Hore asks why the guild doesn't just bribe the foreign magic architects to build for them instead of protesting in a crowd. Sure, most the guild is retired and on pension, but if they're willing to join the protest while a heavy weapons guy is pointing a minigun at them, maybe they could pool a small amount of their pensions to convince each mage to join their cause, one at a time, and then get paid dividends from the mages' work as part of a "consultation fee" for teaching the mages about proper construction so they know what to conjure and stuff. However, if they are being paid ludicrously, there might be an opportunity to fix the whole city without raising a capital building.
No. 830183 ID: 3abd97

rolled 6, 1, 2 = 9

>How did your mother handle guests and captives?
With an appropriately Cheshire grin, "My mother spent the larger portion of my life as a cat. Applying her standards of comfort to your situation might prove... interesting."

>guests and captives
"Your point is well taken, however- you do occupy an unfortunate grey area somewhere between prisoner and chartered guest. This mercenary business does indeed makes for strange bedfellows, I have found.

"I'm afraid freedom is out of the question until we part ways. Bluntly, you are exceeding capable and we gave you ample reason to hold a grudge. That said, I'll see what can be done to improve the remainder of your stay."

>builder bug
Hmmm, it was a passing thought, but looks the geometric preferences aren't shared.

>Builder bug cheerfully starts to 'sketch' out a 3-D example. Gimme a roll for that phobia.
Perhaps a miniature model in the hands of a cuddly bug will be less frightening than the real thing.

Regardless, Davina will interrupt, explaining she has more of an aversion for that particular style, and attempt to distract the bug / change the subject by producing origami examples of architecture more to her tastes.
No. 830188 ID: 3abd97

>Hore will continue to take her time (take 10)
I'm reasonably certain you can count basic follow up questions as part of a continued action. >>/questdis/99618

That's actually one of the solutions I was considering. If the guild / union hires or recruits the bugs, they gain a measure of control over how much new construction is resin, instead of being forced out. Allows collaborative efforts too- resin structures with stone, metal, or wood facades. As well as installing conventionally built fixtures / furnishings / plumbing / etc to resin structures as they're built.

Also possibly allows an expansion to a whole new market (putting up cheap mostly resin houses in the slums where no one could afford to hire them before).
No. 831083 ID: d22dc0

rolled 5, 3, 2 = 10

Maru would also be interested in parlay with the swordsman- she already expressed an interest in working with him in the future should he need to hire extra help, and she would like to establish a rapport with him, be involved in providing accommodations. The union business sounds like a bunch of people fighting over how to rip eachother off, and she's not really interested in muddling those waters if everyone else has it covered. She does have a tendency to be somewhat inflamatory; doesn't seem smart to risk fucking up the hard work everyone else has put in. ;
No. 831147 ID: d36af7

>Maru would also be interested in parlay with the swordsman
When Maru comes to talk to the captain (and sole confirmed surviving member) of Esmeraude's personal guard, he's whistling a cheerful tune about heroic deeds, irritatingly off-key. He can even manage chords, by humming and whistling simultaneously. http://www.hpmor.com/chapter/84 "The only possible explanation for how this mode of humming came to exist is that it was deliberately designed by some unspeakably cruel genius who woke up one day, feeling bored with ordinary torture, who decided to handicap himself and find out whether he could break someone's sanity just by humming at them."Not actually singing most of the lyrics, though the few snippets seem like oddly specific allusions to Maru's own father. When she asks what it's about, he says only "an old colleague, probably dead by now" who "sired a few children, none of whom amounted to much."
>rolled 5, 3, 2 = 10
She raises her voice and says 'fuck' in the course of demanding further explanation. He stands up, headbutts her in the nose hard enough to knock her senseless, steals her knife, and strolls off toward the warehouse district, still whistling, arms still tied behind his back.
No. 831165 ID: f3e670

Maru would like to walk away, and explain the situation to Davina and Maria, and ask them to help her kill him, or at least give her advice on how to best attempt such a feat without endangerig everyone
No. 831410 ID: d36af7

Conjuring tiny architectural models with no sharp concave corners at all is surprisingly tricky, but possible. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origami#Wet-folding Just as Davina figures that technique out, and starts talking (in vague and non-binding terms) about the idealized curvilinear forms of some future mansion she might want, and how much it might all cost, the bug mentions that a man who arrived on the same ship as her recently asked one of it's hivemates for directions to the local Whore's Guild chapterhouse. Moments ago, around the time he could plausibly have gotten there (at typical walking speed) there was some sort of Incident inside the building. Flash of light, ethereal horn music, billowing smoke, scantily-clad ladies running out into the street screaming for watchmen or doctors.
>why the guild doesn't just bribe the foreign magic architects to build for them
Long story short, the "Nyaraku Nyanco" aren't interested in most of the benefits guild members get (already have skills and aren't planning to stick around and raise kids here so they don't need apprenticeships, work directly for the Prince so they don't need legal advice, etc.), so membership dues would basically just be protection money. Offering them a bribe that's worth more than they'd be paying in would be just like knuckling under to the Prince's demands, except stupider because you'd also be throwing money at the foreigners to get them to do what they were going to do anyway.

It might somehow be possible to persuade the catgirls to join the guild and then charge the Prince more than they were originally planning, so the dues come out of his pocket, but the Prince wouldn't like that, so you'd pretty much be asking them to betray a client. http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2005-05-01 Anyone with any professional standards at all is probably going to want more than just money for that, and anyone without such standards shouldn't be allowed into the guild.
No. 831425 ID: 094652

Fair point, or as fair as Hore can take on a swig of her apple cider, but bribery isn't just about money and power; rights, intellectual properties, promises, connections ... secrets. One of the few things Hore knows about catfolk is that they'll accept a heavy markup on a secret if it's something they can't find anywhere else. Hore asks the Union if they have any unique secrets that almost nobody knows about, like answers to local urban legends and family-owned maps to hidden dungeons. Use them to sweeten the deal, she says, and you'll get the Nyancompany for a fraction of their current paycheck. Of course, you can't just put a sack of coins in your basement and sell them a map to it, it's gotta be a deep secret, something kept for generations or applicable for further use.

Well, Hore won't request they just give out their secrets in the open, but it's something they can think about. Hore asks Vos if there's anything spiritual he or the Agates can do to convince the Nyancompany of anything whatsoever.
No. 831481 ID: 3d2d5f

A communication network, alert system, and builders all in one. And cute. Davina coveteth.

>the bug mentions that a man who arrived on the same ship as her [...] some sort of Incident
Davina sighs and flickers in response, and thanks the bug for informing her. She would be grateful if their hive passed that on to her companions, wearing this emblem *tap*. Where is this Whore's Guild chapterhouse? (Certainly not something she expected to be asking). And does your hive know the current location of the woman with red-painted scales, from the same ship?
No. 831571 ID: d36af7

>Where is this Whore's Guild chapterhouse
Not far from the waterfront, and with all these streetlights and broad open avenues you could get there by portal inside twenty seconds.
>current location of the woman with red-painted scales
"Flying out to the palace construction site to talk to Sister Snart in person about their next gig. She might be able to pay us with Immovable Rods, which is really cool, so I wasn't supposed to tell anybody! Er... oops."

Apparently Esmeraude also coveteth.
No. 831576 ID: d22dc0

If Davina rushes in, so will Maru; don't wanna leave her to face off against this guy, no element of surprise all alone
No. 831892 ID: 3abd97

rolled 1, 1, 6 = 8

With a cold smile and a calm belied by the blurring of her form, Davina informs the bug that it might help Sister Snart's negotiating position to know that Esmeraude Netseth is largely penniless and does not have access to immovable rods, unless she plans to resort to banditry.

Which certainly isn't going to happen! She wouldn't engage in such foolishness, not with my mercenary company guarding the next shipment, and our all being such good friends.

>you could get there by portal inside twenty seconds
Well, assuming everyone is sufficiently distracted looking in the direction of the Incident to not notice Davina opening one.

One minute, twenty seconds, if Viste makes the trip instead.

>what do
Let's see how bad the situation at the bordello is. Scout it out. (Preferably from a nearby balcony or rooftop or such). Rolling for spot.
No. 831929 ID: d36af7

>Let's see how bad the situation at the guild chapterhouse is. Scout it out.
>rolled 1, 1, 6 = 8
Fire stopped on it's own. Extensive property damage, but limited to one room. Rope expert has been incapacitated by horrific burns and is visibly pregnant. Wasn't pregnant yesterday. Three more with relatively minor injuries.

The man in the ochre coat is already gone. When Viste flashes her credentials (with fingers carefully positioned so that "deputized for arson investigation" is visible but expiration date and city name aren't) a handsome shirtless fellow at the front desk becomes much more helpful, saying he thinks the suspect ran off down to the basement, presumably to escape through the storm drains. It's a reasonably well-traveled alternate entrance, since for whatever reason some people don't like being seen as they come and go.
No. 831937 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 6, 3 = 13

>Vos is also tolerated at the tavern in question, as Hore's friend, but has to make do without free drinks.
I guess this is better than being stuck on the ship. Do they have any food?
No. 832029 ID: d36af7

Some sort of fried bread with too much salt, and pies filled with a mix of root vegetables, peas, and the less-favored cuts of meat from a giant sloth, slow-cooked to soften 'em up.
No. 832327 ID: 3abd97

rolled 2, 2, 3 = 7

>Rope expert has been incapacitated by horrific burns and is visibly pregnant. Wasn't pregnant yesterday.
Tsk. That's no way to treat a partner, Agatia. (However conservatively the Agate siblings must have been raised, it would seem Lady Fire-dick does not hold herself to the same standards).

Should direct Ji towards the poor woman.

>the suspect ran off down to the basement, presumably to escape through the storm drains
A network of underground tunnels, with limited sight lines, and multiple exits? Sounds like a great place to ditch pursuit. Or to get ambushed trying to follow someone.

Well, let's check the basement, carefully. See if he's made his exit yet. It's possible he might have been slowed down by burnt hands (well, burnt hand and burnt flipper-lump).
No. 832330 ID: 4bf177

rolled 4, 2, 6 = 12

"Look, Viste, mate, I know you're all vengeance and blood and mystery and such, but dis seems like a bad idea. If we don't gotta deal wif cap, den I say we round everyone up and split. I dunno if we got what it takes to handle dis guy on our own- last time it seemed like you and Vos barely scrapped by, and we had de upper hand dere."

Maru follows cautiously behind, roll for perception
No. 832333 ID: 094652

Hore decides to end her abnormally positive conversation on a good note, before they harass Vos even further. Hore explains that her other teammates are also looking into the conflict, so she'll tell them what she learned and try to find a solution that ends with the guild getting a stake in the city's development. She thanks them for their time and cider, taking Vos alongside, to look for places of interest.
No. 832374 ID: d36af7

>Should direct Ji towards the poor woman.
Daniel and Maria are more eager to volunteer.
>check the basement, carefully. See if he's made his exit yet.
>rolled 2, 2, 3 = 7
He did. Headed east, uphill. Storm sewers have better light and fewer blind corners than you might expect, since drains are positioned under streetlights and major channels run straight along underneath the main avenues. Sending ghost-lights out ahead and portaling in from odd angles still helps, though.
>rolled 4, 2, 6 = 12
When Viste and Maru catch up to him, chants and shouting from the protesters outside the new palace are audible overhead, but 'cap' still has his hands tied behind his back, with Maru's stolen knife wedged into one of the knots. He whispers a meek "hello again, didn't expect to see you here quite so soon," and smiles with a few too many teeth.
>It's possible he might have been slowed down by burnt hands
No visible injuries. He does seem to have been significantly delayed by the problem of how to climb a ladder and then open a heavy iron grate at the top, though.

>harass Vos
They're being (contextually) polite, answering his questions and laughing at some of his jokes, just not giving him free food.
>Hore explains that her other teammates are also looking into the conflict, so she'll tell them what she learned and try to find a solution that ends with the guild getting a stake in the city's development.
There's a cheer at this. As she's getting up to go, the dockworkers' liaison takes Hore aside and says that, with a few gold for "overtime pay" and some sort of distraction or magical concealment to be sure the Prince's men aren't watching, he could "make an exception" to get those supplies loaded for the tungsten shipment.
No. 832411 ID: 3abd97

rolled 3, 4, 3 = 10

>Daniel and Maria are more eager to volunteer.
...and are also more likely to give away or confirm our complicity in what happened.

Oh well. Viste doesn't really have time to argue, and cleaning up any legal difficulties or a bill for the damages (or child support) will be Davina's problem. If anyone else is listening to the builder bugs, they would have dawn the connection soon enough anyways.

>still has his hands tied behind his back
>He whispers a meek "hello again, didn't expect to see you here quite so soon,"
So either his bindings are still in place, or he's bluffing, acting as if they were still in place to catch us off guard. Sense motive?

>No visible injuries
Hmm. Speaks either to ridiculous constitution, some kind of resistance, or Agatia being selective in her wrath (She only smote the person actively trying to break the binding).

>what do
Viste gestures with her right hand, and a piece of paper appears. It contains a simple message, written in a larger font, and held such that 'Cap' can read it.

No. 832437 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 6, 6 = 16

Well, we are sure good at distractions. I guess the best thing to do now is report back to Davina so we can put a plan together.
No. 832583 ID: d36af7

>report back to Davina
>rolled 4, 6, 6 = 16
Based on what those cute networked beetles, the Agate siblings, and various Whore's Guild staff have to say, Vos deduces that Davina chased after 'cap' in an effort to prevent him from having his bindings professionally removed, caught up to him in some dark alley before he reached the guildhouse, failed, and was quietly murdered. Viste must have sensed that event remotely and pursued a now-unbound 'cap' into the storm sewers intent on a rematch.

He shrugs in such a way that Maru's knife slips loose, falling to the tunnel floor with a clink and a splash. Water's about ankle-deep, smells more like rotten leaves than serious filth.
"Davina offered me greater latitude of action in exchange for good behavior. I'm trying to earn that. If you simply allow me to go up there and talk to those protesters," he says, alternately looking Maru or Viste straight in the eye, "I'm confident you'll have gained some valuable new allies before the next day's dawn."
No. 832606 ID: af6e04

rolled 2, 3, 1 = 6

>Davina quietly murdered
>Cap unbound
>Viste going alone

Vos tells Hore that they must track down the 'Cap' immediately and kill him. Esmeraude too, if she helped him murder Davina. Vos leads the way down into the storm sewers to start the search.
No. 832631 ID: 094652

"Vos? I'm okay with us butchering that walking time-bomb before he somehow ruins another city, but we should be on the lookout for Davina. If she's alive, she might need medical attention. If not, we need to make sure her 'mirrored' corpse isn't another time-bomb or some other reality-warping whatever.

... Wait, did you say Esmeraude might be behind this? Well maybe, but I don't think she realizes how @#$%ed in the head the Captain got in the war. We shouldn't just assume she ordered him to use lethal force - Vos? Hey, are you listening?"
No. 832686 ID: 3d2d5f

rolled 4, 5, 6 = 15

>good behavior
Viste adopts an incredulous expression, and gestures to indicate Maru.

>If you simply allow me to go up there and talk to those protesters," he says, alternately looking Maru or Viste straight in the eye, "I'm confident you'll have gained some valuable new allies before the next day's dawn."
Again, assuming the bindings are still in place
(QA feedback for Maria: the next revision of prisoner restraints should include an indicator showing if the wards are active), Viste acted at level 0, so he's only able to escalate to level 1. Which means that's not a lie, even one of omission.

Although if he's planning on getting us allies by inciting the mob to violence and getting one side of the local conflict removed (for example), I'm not sure if that counts as a lie of omission or not.

The signcard is discarded and replaced.

No. 832703 ID: d36af7

>gestures to indicate Maru
"No blood was spilled. Given a day's rest with good food and maybe a bit of magic, she'll be fine. Half your squad are supernaturally effective healers, and I haven't raised a hand against any of those, though I heard that she once did. What's a little headbutt between friends?"
>Viste acted at level 0
Did she look him in the eye? Did Maru? Do you think one of those minor effects Esmeraude didn't bother enumerating might be something like Whisperweb, in keeping with her communication theme? If the protesters are directly overhead, wouldn't that also mean the palace construction site - which Esmeraude was last seen flying toward - would also be nearby, maybe even within medium range?
>rolled 4, 5, 6 = 15
He takes this as an accusation that the plan just described is too complicated, and starts to explain it more slowly using smaller words...
...when Vos charges in, spear at the ready, expecting a duel-to-the-death in progress.
No. 832721 ID: 3d2d5f

"Stand down, Vos."
No. 832786 ID: 55f668

rolled 1, 2, 1 = 4

Maru would have made eye contact- she's been watching cap very intensely. When Vos rushes in she grabs her pen knife and cuts herself, summoning her spectral ax and stepping back to get in a position where she can see everyone in case shite goes down; holding my action unless cap attacks anyone Maru knows, in which case she'll retaliate.
No. 832793 ID: 094652

rolled 5, 6, 3 = 14

Hore holds Vos back with her right hand, but is charging her pistol with her left hand. Hore, noticing Maru, shouts for tactical orders.
No. 832812 ID: d36af7

Maru Red says "No blood, eh cap? That's not 'ow I remember it." She thumbs her nose at him, and carries the motion forward. A red smear in the air solidifies into a fretboard in her hand and a blade pressed against the side of the bound man's neck. Deep metallic twang hits a resonant frequency of the surrounding tunnel, reassuring everyone within earshot - most notably Decaro Vos - that the Situation Is Under Control.

Cap's smile falters slightly. "If you take my head off, she'll be very upset. Might not be willing to work with you anymore."
No. 832903 ID: 3abd97

>Cap's smile falters slightly. "If you take my head off, she'll be very upset. Might not be willing to work with you anymore."
"Then perhaps we should revisit the matters of surrender and good behavior."

If it comes to a vote, Viste is not in favor of cap's summary execution.
No. 832904 ID: d22dc0

rolled 5, 1, 4 = 10

Maru whispers to cap through her front teeth, almost growling; she is visibly upset, but restraining herself

"I recommend you do as de nice lady says, cap. Not a freat, but a suggestion, from one professional to anofer. Best to trust de boss knows what dey're doin, even if you don't like it- turns out better for de whole crew dat way." She looks away and spits on the ground, not sure if that counts as any sort of violation, but willing to risk it to have someway of expressing her disdain for the current situation.
No. 832912 ID: d36af7

>do as de nice lady says
"That sign you just spat on said 'disarm,' so I dropped your knife. Feel free to take it back. I haven't got a clean white kerchief to wave, and even if I did my hands aren't exactly free. What else do you want? Free candy? A song?"
Without waiting to confirm, he starts singing a disconcertingly cheerful tune with a bouncy rhythm.
"Many a man at mer~cy held,
many a head to hearse she's felled.
Know her by weeds between her claws,
know her by axe, through blood she draws,
know her by horns beneath her tress.
Flee before Maru the Mur~deress!"
No. 832936 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 2, 2 = 8

Slithering in with a fiery vengeful intent, Vos stops in his tracks at Maru's awesome axe summoning, a little frightened himself.

Vos asks if Davina's body was recovered.
No. 832944 ID: 3d2d5f

>Vos asks if Davina's body was recovered.
Viste looks to Vos, adopting a moue of confusion.

"No. Davina is well. I would know, where she otherwise."
No. 833040 ID: 3abd97

>If you take my head off, she'll be very upset.
>What else do you want?
"To cease needling your headswoman and cooperate."

"Your shore leave is being cut short, before we have locals asking after arson, assault, damages, and child support."

Putting it in terms of getting him out of dodge ahead of trouble is at least a framework he should be familiar with. Also slightly face saving, in that it gives him a reason to go with us that's (at least ostensibly) serving his and/or Esmeraude's interests.
No. 833062 ID: af6e04

rolled 4, 5, 2 = 11

>Davina is well
Vos is visibly relieved!

>If it comes to a vote
"This man's aura reveals no compassion or tenderness. He is a demon wearing guise of flesh like a cloak. I have avoided him and abided his presence so far, but his existence offends me. What may we gain by sheltering him? Every word that has escaped his mouth has been lie or attempt to provoke us."
No. 833083 ID: 094652

"He bent the knee to Esmeraude. If anything happens to him... I don't want to lose her trust. Other than that... well."
No. 833089 ID: d36af7

Hore has a sudden unnerving sensation of someone licking the inside of her ear, followed by Esmeraude's voice whispering:
"Davina unresponsive. Blocked? Viste hates me. Cat architects shortchanged by prince. Riot will trigger warzone clause, they become our friends. Wanted it to be surprise."
No. 833093 ID: 094652

Hore takes a few moments to process what she just heard. Then she tells Viste about the Prince undercutting the Union and underpaying the catfolk at the same time. And that Esmeraude thinks she can incite a riot, but Hore strongly objects to anything that involves throwing a bunch of civilians in front of a minigun when there is a diplomatic way to save even more money. They can just set up a partnership for the Union and Catfolk, earning the favor of all the workers from all sides at the same time.
No. 833098 ID: 3d2d5f

We gain a solution to our current problem, for one.

As far as Viste is concerned, Esmeraude's plan is... workable. Messier than just bribing the dock workers, but it resolves the strike, makes us additional allies, and the only ones who suffer are those willing to riot in the first place.

If Hore feels she can strike a better deal, liaising with the union while Esmeraude liaises with the catfolk to unite them against an unfair prince, do so. Start coordinating over that whisperweb, tell her what you learned from the dock workers.

Kindly inform her, that in the future, the security team would like to be kept in the loop before inciting civil unrest.
No. 833109 ID: d22dc0

rolled 4, 5, 4 = 13

"What, so we just forget about dis little incident, and hope dey don't try anything again? Look mate, de boats already crowded. Wheder or not dis is just a right cock up of a well to do situation, or we're gettin shanked in de arse and goin along wif it, we got no room. I'll trust you know what you're doin, but dis is de second time we're in a dark hole and you're tellin me dat riskin our lives is worf a little dosh. And I fink you know how I stand on dat."
No. 833114 ID: 3d2d5f

>de boat is already crowded
"Making useful connections, need not include taking additional passengers."

>we just forget about dis little incident, and hope dey don't try anything again
"Hardly. We adjust."

>dis is de second time we're in a dark hole and you're tellin me dat riskin our lives is worf a little dosh
"We are mercenaries, Maru. That is the job.

"You insult each of our goals and ambitions if you truly think they are not worth taking risks for."

>rolled 4, 5, 4 = 13
Viste is frustrated with Maru's reoccurring inability to grasp that payment could possibly matter to the people around her for reasons other than baseless greed (and that it might factor into safety), and bucking objectives right before the finish line.
No. 833121 ID: a771ff

"FUCKS SAKE, if I wanted a fucking scolding I woulda just drawn a cunt on one of de twins and den shown it to de oder one! You wanna do dis right now? You wanna fuckin get into it front of scarface? Huh?? Just fuckin tell us what to do and wait until we're done to fuckin berate me again for caring about our livelihoods."

Maru is obviously unhappy with the current situation.
No. 833184 ID: af6e04

>Esmeraude wants to incite a riot
"Won't many people be hurt? I do not like this plan. Would rather sail on without supplies."
No. 833200 ID: d36af7

While Maru and Viste are yelling and pointing bladed weapons at each other, 'cap' notices Hore trying to subvocalize a reply, and sidles over to talk quietly with her. He says the whisperweb requires line-of-sight to establish, even though it can be maintained around corners and through some walls, so he's the only one with that two-way connection at the moment. Esmeraude's message was awkwardly crammed into exactly 25 words, right? That spell (a variant of http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/w/whispering-wind/ seeking a named individual rather than a location) doesn't carry responses. The Builder-Beetles might also work, but their channel is too noisy and leaky for such sensitive subjects.
>Won't many people be hurt?
> throwing a bunch of civilians in front of a minigun
Esmeraude has learned that the weapon in question fires blasts of pure concussive force. Steep ammo limit without a geomantic power supply, and low rate of fire even then, so it's far from ideal for riot control, but the catfolk have a 'family secret' for keeping it nonlethal. Even without that, as soon as protesters breach the gate of the construction site, the Nyaraku Nyanco's gunner could fire a few shots into the ground before all eight of them flee. That'd be sufficient basis to sue the prince for failure to defend the perimeter while they worked. If a bunch of construction workers manage to injure each other in the course of getting too excited about tearing down a fence, 'cap' is of the opinion that similar damage would occur in the course of doing their jobs. There aren't too many random bystanders out on the greenbelt in the middle of the night, and if some innocent person were to be badly hurt, he says - by trampling perhaps, or a heavy stone block being dropped on their foot - wouldn't they be grateful that the underlying forces of civil disorder just happened to come to a boil at the very same day, hour, and minute when a Knight of Tittivila was nearby, ready to help?
>partnership for the Union and Catfolk, earning the favor of all the workers from all sides at the same time.
What does the Nyaraku Nyanco gain from that? The union is at least a little bit racist against catfolk, doesn't have much to offer them in any case >>831410 and haggling for better pay after the deal's already been signed is incredibly unprofessional unless there's a specific clause allowing it, or some extraordinary development that nobody could reasonably have anticipated. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_majeure
No. 833233 ID: 094652

Hore takes a few steps away from the Captain. A lot can go wrong in a riot; fires start, feuds grow, heightened emotion causes an untrained mind to revert to about 20% of its regular intelligence and do something really stupid, possibly suicidal. You think the builders will get over having a giant cannon shot at their feet, with shattered bricks flying from the concussive impact?

Hore promised to help the union. She'd rather not forsake a bunch of honest working-class to trigger a wartime clause. Plus, they'd accept a bribe, get the supplies loaded on the ship with no fuss.

There has to be a smart way to resolve this, something that builds bridges with builders.
No. 833320 ID: 3abd97

>Hore promised to help the union
Arguably a riot helps the union, long term. This plan pretty much sours the prince from hiring nyanco in the future, and possibly prevents further contractors in the future (between the prince's bad experience, loss of funds, and the town's reputation).

Assuming the union is bigger than the people in front of the mansion, we could bribe them to do the loading at the same time, netting us the distraction needed. (And lowering the body-count at the riot lowers the chance of unwanted escalation).
No. 833334 ID: d22dc0

rolled 4, 5, 3 = 12

>cap moving towards Hore
Maru pivots on the spot and levels her Ax again, a deep, angry baseline pulsing all around the room

"Didn't 'ear de lady tell you to move. Kindly kneel where ya are until she directs oderwise. Until we's back on de boat and Davina makes your arrangements, I don't wanna see or 'ear you do anyfing without instruction from Viste or de ofers. Vist, mate, instructions."
No. 833335 ID: 3abd97

>sue the prince for failure to defend the perimeter
Assuming the prince is aware of his responsibilities, if we don't want escalation, we might want to know who or what the prince already has on security detail.

The cats can miss and retreat if they're in on it- but we can't control how local forces react.
No. 833497 ID: d36af7

He drops to his knees in the shallow water of the storm sewer, and stops talking, as directed.
If you want to evaluate the guards and other security measures around the half-built palace directly, rather than trusting the man in the ochre coat's account of Esmeraude's impression of the Nyaraku Nyanco's assessment, quickest option would be to peek through a grate and portal up to just above street level.

Streetlights are a fairly standard design: shallow wooden bowls about thirty inches in diameter, held in place about 20' above the ground by magic. There's no pole to climb. Each inverted brazier can support at least a few hundred pounds, similar to an immovable rod but vastly cheaper (can't be switched off or moved, and trying hard enough will just destroy it, so effective theft is impossible by any means short of volumetric teleportation or regional conquest) and is roughly as sturdy as an iron manhole cover (so even petty vandalism requires some serious effort). Underside burns steadily for some 250 years before being consumed, while the upper face is dark but uncomfortably warm. Standing on top for a few minutes should be reasonably safe, with a good pair of boots.
No. 833499 ID: af6e04

rolled 1, 1, 2 = 4

The cap's words are smooth and tempting, as should be for those coming from the mouth of a demon. Vos still has no trust for him, and would like no part in his schemes.
No. 833501 ID: d36af7

>rolled 1, 1, 2 = 4
Vos now understands the spiritual topology of those bindings which Maria applied, well enough to identify the current level of escalation at a glance, with no roll required when visibility is adequate. Subject having recently been touched by a lethal weapon, with hostile intent, the only current forbidden behavior is direct removal of the bindings. Aura sight confirms that the captain is cooperating out of confusion and a desire to be helpful, rather than compulsion or nefarious malice.

Apparently the soul in question has a hard time understanding anything outside the context of violence, and is driven by a warped sort of compassion to manipulate people back into that context, the way someone might want to cheer up a friend who was visibly sad and depressed.
No. 833584 ID: 3abd97

rolled 3, 5, 3 = 11

>Vist, mate, instructions.
>If you want to evaluate the guards and other security measures around the half-built palace directly [...]
"Hold. I will assess palace defenses, and if this plan is even viable."

Heading up, roll for scout / spot / etc. What defenses are in place, besides the gunner we observed when we docked?
No. 833884 ID: af6e04

rolled 2, 3, 3 = 8

>cooperating out of confusion and a desire to be helpful
>driven by a warped sort of compassion

Well, it's hard to hate him now that I understand him a bit better. Vos tells Maru that he's unbound but probably won't cause any trouble. Vos is willing to go along with this riot plan if we're sure that harm will be kept to a minimum.
No. 834605 ID: d36af7

Outer perimeter wall is unmortared rough stone, ten feet high and precariously thin, probably assembled by a Catgut Legion or some petty bound spirits and not intended to be permanent. Couple of sturdier-looking obelisks are mounting points for a wrought iron gate at one end of a sweeping crescent of driveway around a fountain. Lone elvenoid guard in a tiny shack right outside the gate, shelter from the elements but barely enough room to sit down. Front steps of the palace are fifty yards back from the nearest part of the fence, or about a 240' walk from the gate if you're following the instructions on all those little signs to keep off the grass.

No obvious active guards inside the fence, and the palace itself has far too many broad ground-level windows to be at all properly defensible, There are several elaborately sculpted bushes, though, mostly shaped like ox-dragons. It's on the prince's coat of arms, and the greenbelt was mostly ornamental garden space before the new palace got started, so it might just be a heraldic thing.
>rolled 3, 5, 3 = 11
Thinking back to her experience just outside Eckton, Viste directs a light inside one of the ox-dragon topiaries and notes that the layout of branches has some striking similarities to the skeleton of an actual ox-dragon: horizontal spine, knobby leg joints, even a sort of skull with solid woody material for the horns.

An 'ox-dragon' is a great big lumbering herd animal, about halfway between an elephant and a rhino: three horns, distinctive head crest. Slower than horses - too slow to be proper cavalry - but also sturdier. Even domesticated, they'll squat down and take a breather when they darn well feel like it, and fight if pressed, rather than running 'til they die of exhaustion, so they're more popular as dray beasts for ogres or gnolls (who often find such intransigence amusing) than with practical-minded dwarves, humans, or orcs. Often used in parades, though, since that crest is an ideal mounting point for elaborate decorations. The meat bears as much comparison to beef as basilisk does to pork.
No. 835361 ID: 3abd97

Viste returns to the others.

"Complication. The topiaries are remarkably lifelike, down to bones." Viste says, as a model appears in her hand. "I suspect concealed defenses, sufficient to drive off the mob. The prince would not be liable."

Viste will confirm with 'Cap' that Esmeraude is still in negotiations with Nyaraku Nyanco, ask him to inform her that Davina will be arriving with a revised proposal, ferry the group out of the storm drain, and then be off.
No. 835362 ID: 3abd97

rolled 1, 4, 3 = 8

A few portals and a transformation later, Davina inserts herself into the negotiations with Sister Snart and Esmeraude, introducing herself as the head of the security team responsible for the merchant ship in port, as well as Esmeraude Netseth's personal safety.

She sets about explaining the unfortunate roadblocks to Esmeraude's plan, and the logic behind the OOC-named option 4. >>/questdis/116559

"...regrettably, if the prince's concealed defenses drive off the mob, you will be left with no basis to sue. And if the criminal conspiracy to defraud the Prince were to come to light, you would find the screws you were under turned even tighter.

"Furthermore, the prince has bested you once already in the realm of law. Even if the riot and deception are executed flawlessly, it is possible the lawsuit could be defeated in court, leaving you in a worse position than you are now.

"The local unions retain lawyers whose entire job description is rebuking clients who attempt this kind of tactic. Go to the local union, hat in hand, and pay for the best legal advice they can offer (Hore Wutashi, a member of my team, struck it off well with them, and may be able to help with introductions). Paying for their expertise and assistance in resolving your contractual dispute will almost certainly be cheaper than a prolonged deception, or a lawsuit without the relevant experience."

As an private aside when I can find the opportunity- "Esmeraude, dear, I thank you for finding a way to resolve this situation without our needing to pay anyone off, but in the future, please, no surprises? Especially not surprises that sound like treachery in the mouths of small, flying babes."
No. 835767 ID: d36af7

Sister Snart isn't happy but sees the logic of it. Anything else you want to wrap up in town, or should I move on to the last random adventure before Overmire and payday?
No. 835796 ID: 094652

Hore suggests Viste give the bugs some hugs. Maybe if she can somehow show the Union how cyuuute the blue beetles (and some catfolk babies) are they'll develop some kind of lasting relationship?

Other than that, they should leave before the prince's subordinates realize who is responsible for their incoming cluster@#$% of legal issues.
No. 835803 ID: 3d2d5f

rolled 5, 6, 6 = 17

>Sister Snart isn't happy but sees the logic of it.
Davina sympathizes. Sometimes the most reasonable solution is not the most satisfying. Hopefully they have better luck with their next client.

>Anything else you want to wrap up in town
Did the Agate siblings resolve the matter of the spontaneously pregnant burn victim?

Based on Vos' testimony of "Cap's" earnest (if disruptive) attempt to help, it would probably be appropriate to arrange his request for greater creature comforts for the remainder of the trip.

To satisfy Maru's concerns, we should probably also arrange to keep a better eye on him.

>Hore suggests Viste give the bugs some hugs.
Well we do have a night to spend in town before we leave, and business concluded, it's time for pleasure.

Davina will see if she can find a catgirl to spend the night with.

>they should leave before
Our departure time is fixed with the tide.
No. 835831 ID: fc3fc0

>To satisfy Maru's concerns
>[Maru's father is] "an old colleague, probably dead by now" who "sired a few children, none of whom amounted to much."
>[cap] headbutts her in the nose hard enough to knock her senseless, steals her knife
>arrange his request for greater creature comforts
>rolled 5, 6, 6 = 17

Maru is out for his blood. Needless to say, she is unhappy that he's being given anything after the stunt he pulled

Adjusting Maru's ambitions to now include retribution against Cap.
No. 835910 ID: af6e04

rolled 2, 2, 1 = 5

>creature comforts
>has a hard time understanding anything outside the context of violence
"The cap I think is not interested in comforts. We will see more escape attempts if we do not somehow provide the violence he craves."

Thanks to that little moment of understanding, Vos is willing to take responsibility for keeping the cap from causing trouble. He'll ask Esmeraude how she keeps the demon from going stir crazy when they aren't murdering and pillaging.

The bindings could use some work too. Might ask Maria to focus on preventing treachery and deceit, so we'll at least know if Esmeraude plans to use him against us.

Vos will also spend his free time with the cap, participating in any shouting matches or fisticuffs the demon wishes to engage in but being very careful not to escalate things to the point where he could actually be killed. He'll clear this with the bosun first to make sure any related blood spillage doesn't count against the bonus.

>Maru is out for his blood.
"I know you are angry Maru. But it is exactly what he wants, for you to attack him. He will not take your revenge as punishment."
No. 837856 ID: d36af7

Periodic portals over to sandbars or atolls for wrestling and general roughhousing help everyone blow off some steam, and Maria adjusts the bindings to focus more on prohibiting deception. 'Cap' talks a lot less after that, but seems mostly content.

You're just one day's sailing out from Overmire when the wind suddenly goes still, and a pair of triremes - heavy combat ships - rows up to flank your comparatively small and nonthreatening vessel. Both have dozens of marines at high alert on deck, clad head to toe in bulky multilayered oiled leather and beaked masks with green glass lenses for eyes.

An arrow arcs over from the trireme between you and the shore to embed itself in the mast, then transforms into an iron nail supporting a short scroll of parchment bearing an official notification that, due to your contact with the Eckton Bloom, all living persons, animals, plants, and edible provisions aboard must undergo either a detailed medical examination or a lengthy period of quarantine. The order is signed by Overmire's director of public health, the captain of that triple-hulled trireme tender (a mobile repair shop and supply base) lurking on the horizon several miles up ahead, and, oddly, an archery sargeant.

A second arrow arcs out, plants itself in am inch-wide tag dangling off the lower end of the scroll just below the sargeant's name, then transforms into a second nail and scrap of paper which reads simply "That's me!"
No. 837886 ID: 3d2d5f

rolled 4, 2, 3 = 9

>outnumbered, warships, magic stopping the wind, accurate down to the scale of a written word with archery from beyond the horizon
Well they certainly didn't skimp on the demonstration of force.

The party might be able to slip away / break through if we really wanted to (not that we'd likely enjoy the consequences), but they certainly have the merchant vessel dead to rights.

>all living persons, animals, plants, and edible provisions aboard must undergo either a detailed medical examination or a lengthy period of quarantine
I assume the bosun is not interested in the prolnged delay quarantining the ship would bring, yes? Looks like we're cooperating, unless specific individuals would prefer quarantine.

Assuming the sergeant needs to be able to read that note at this range in order to shoot a particular word, Davina should be able to communicate back by conjuring placards. Failing that, Esmeraude could use her sending spell to reply, as the captain and sergeant provided their names.

Signal that we're willing to cooperate. Suggest the process might be expedited if they started with the testimony of our own accredited doctor who has already preformed his own examinations, and if we brought forth Daniel and demonstrated / explained his aura, and that it's been employed to prevent exactly this kind of contamination.

Potential issues: there shouldn't be enough space to unload all the tungsten cargo, and it messes with detection spells, so "Prisoner" should be hidden. Ji might have problems if his passenger is discovered, and trying to mitigate that is complicated (since most the party is either unaware of this, or unable to assist directly without putting him in danger. And because Tunic hasn't posted in a while. Hope you're doing well.). Some party members would likely raise eyebrows on a medical exam, I would think, but nothing I would expect to be detention worthy.
No. 837893 ID: d36af7

>archery from beyond the horizon
The 'mobile base' is miles away, but the trireme the archer fired from is only about three hundred yards. That's close to the limit of how far an arrow from a handheld bow can fly without some magical boost, and far enough for a -13 range penalty. Hitting an inch-wide square would be another -9 for target size.

Esmeraude sniffs at the order and says it's got some lingering divination magic, probably something similar to her own True Strike spell (huge bonus to hit and negates the effects of concealment for a single attack). So, good news is they probably have a hard limit on how much sharpshooting like that they can do in a day.

Bad news is, even with the cheat-y guidance spell, and the fact that there's no wind, that level of accuracy would require significant mundane skill to pull off reliably. Presumably the fleet wouldn't be gambling their 'show of force' credibility on a showy trick they weren't confident would actually work.

Worse news, her bodyguard's various contraband possessions, Decaro Vos's babies, Yisheng Ji's "patient," or Davina and Viste's inability to stand next to each other for a lineup, may all be things a medical exam would uncover and which law enforcement types would respond poorly to.
No. 837895 ID: fc3fc0

Maru is also strongly against having a medical examination preformed on herself by strangers representing a government authority. And by strongly against, I mean

“I’m not lettin a single one of dose fuckers come near me wif deir “instruments” and deir “exams” and shit, okay? De last time dat happened to me is not somefin im doin again, and I am dead serious on dis mate. Do whatever else you alls wants to do, but not a Single. One. Touches. Me. I’m keepin my fuckin clothes on, and I’m not fuckin submittin to anyone.
No. 838072 ID: af6e04

What do they have against my children?!
No. 838182 ID: 094652

Hore points out that the blockade's official goal is to prevent diseases from infecting the city. If we request a quarantine of our 'possibly infected', to be kept on a lifeboat until the ship returns and eventually returned to Eckton which is surely infected from close proximity to the forest, then arresting them would risk infection, and executing them would destroy commerce as traders with minor cases of cold and/or scurvy would refuse to add the city to their trade routes. It stands to reason that if the ships have sniper-level aim, the city has archmages scrying their beloved navy now.

We can split the party into those who want to go onshore and those who want to wait here and eventually go back to Eckton. Then we get the trade finished before these soldiers ruin our bonus, pick them up, and flee. Simple. If they accuse us of smuggling, explain that any contents smuggled would likely be infected from the isolated lack of sterilization, and opening any infected material would likely infect the rest of the crew, and then we'd sue for their sheer incompetence as disease prevention medics. Vos and company just don't want their pregnancies to be stillborn, or whatever it is they're afraid of when it comes to surgery.

As for Esmeraude and Captain, we'll just make a detour to another city. A small dip in the paycheck, but no real fuss.
No. 838184 ID: fc3fc0

Maru coughs up some phlegm, grimaces at it, and then agrees with Hore.

"Ay mate, dat's not a bad idea. We sit tight, dey scan de boat, send de goods on in and everyfins dandy. We'll need to arrange to protect it, but once it's in de port we should be good. As long as dey don't come near me dough, I'm 'appy wif whatever we do."

She stops for a second and looks around
"Anyone fink dis might be some sorta trick or trap or somefin like dat? We got some way to know dey're who dey say dey are? And dat dey're not gonna just abuse deir privileged, try to rob us or nufin like dat? Wouldn't be de first time a bloke in a fancy dress used deir status to get what dey want."
No. 842229 ID: f0eaf4

rolled 4, 4, 1 = 9

If we've decided on a course of action Vos will go ahead and sweet talk the bosun into fudging the books so it'll look like we already departed. Who's staying for the examination and who is bailing?
No. 842276 ID: e9490d

rolled 3, 3, 3 = 9

Maru certainly isn’t staying- she’ll try to work on dressing up and disguising some of the other crew members to match their appearances in case anyone was spotted when they came out on deck; that way, they can say “oh, that snake man you saw was just Fred here with his potato sack.”
No. 842328 ID: 094652

Hore will agree to the inspection, as long as the inspectors keep things professional and don't demand history from the older scars.
No. 842350 ID: d22dc0

rolled 2, 2, 6 = 10

Also, should have thought to ask this sooner, but how much does Maru reckon the Bosun would make on a trip like this? If we need to resort to bribery to get him on our side then knowing his pay rate would be useful.
No. 842478 ID: 3abd97

Supporting Vos:

Regrettably, several members of our company would prefer not to surrender detailed medical information to a government, or possess physiological oddities that would only cause unwanted tension and delays if examined. And I am confident in our own precautions.

In the interest of avoiding a time consuming quarantine, it would be most expedient if we were not here when the vessel complies with inspection.

>Who's staying for the examination and who is bailing?
The agate siblings are staying, as neither is particularly odd in a biological sense, and neither had direct exposure to the green tide. Furthermore, being able to examine Daniel's aura may help convince the inspectors our precautions are sound. (There's the chance that might even lead to a job, if they have other shipments under quarantine they'd like purified).

Vos and 'Prisoner', hidden in the quiver will be swimming with the quiver of holding (since it can't be safely portalled, and we don't want to risk such an expensive item being confiscated). Viste will be portalling everyone else away from the cabin.

Davina tells Hore if wishes to stay, she may, but her... augmentations might draw unwanted scrutiny. If you are detained, cooperate, try to avoid a violent confrontation, and we'll see to your extraction, by legal means if at all possible.

Use of portals and/or conjured paper privacy screens to prevent any of us being seen moving about above deck any further might help this endeavor.
No. 842479 ID: 3abd97

rolled 2, 4, 5 = 11

Rolling to portal the away team out of the private cabin to shore after other preparations are complete.
No. 842480 ID: 094652

Oh right, advanced technology is illegal. Hore didn't learn this early on because when you're in a war, you let the mercenary with an illegal death ray in her arm fight for your side, and not out of your POW camp with massive casualties. Now it has occurred to her that the mages will do more than a few alchemical blood tests.

Hore's not sure anyone else can fit in that quiver, but she'll take a seat if it's possible.