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slydingdoor
Oct 26, 2010

Are you in or are you out?

Ramona
16/25 HP; 11/13 XP; 1 Armor; 5/11 Load, Scarred
Scrimshaw wasn't going to die anyway because of precious elf tears, I keep myself from muttering. But she's probably wrong about becoming free, too. You just get passed down the line of succession, don't you get it? And you can't pay your own way out, you can only be bought, that's how their system works. But she's dying, doesn't matter that she's wrong, she doesn't matter anymore.

I take her tech, wrap it up and store it. No suit to install it in yet, and if they gave it to her there's no way it's just hers. Later on I'll check it out for homing devices. And talk to the elemental. And fix my chest. I need a fishmongers and a medbay to make sterile scale bandages. I just lightened my load armor-wise, and the bard's not carrying anything else that I can tell, so I offer to carry her by telling her not to walk ahead of me. See if she can still read between the lines or if she wants to be bait more, or sulk more. Squeaky wheel...

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Shardix
Sep 14, 2011

I've earned my fee. Ta-ta!

Serenity
HP 11/20 | Armor 2 | Load 1/9 | XP 21/13

Serenity stopped, hands on her hips. She slowly cracked her neck and dearly wished the pounding migraine would go away. Taking a deep, raspy breath, she turned to Ramona and hurled a fist at the bounty hunter's face.

slydingdoor
Oct 26, 2010

Are you in or are you out?

Ramona
16/25 HP; 11/13 XP; 1 Armor; 5/11 Load, Scarred
I react how I've been trained. I stick and move, sending a jab out with my longer arms. The only amendment I can slip in is to open my hand before I connect. "What the–you'd rather get knocked out and dragged? Is that it?" I'm so tired I didn't see it coming. It wasn't a knife to the heart like in my nightmares, but I'm just as alarmed. My heart is pounding against the charcoal door on my chest.

Shardix
Sep 14, 2011

I've earned my fee. Ta-ta!

Serenity
HP 11/20 | Armor 2 | Load 1/9 | XP 21/13

The elf staggered back, glaring at Ramona. Her breath hissed out as she spat a gobbet of blood onto the ground.

"Make up your mind already. I am sick to death of this. You spit on me one moment and try to coddle me like an infant the next." Straightening up, she strode up to Ramona, staring up into her eyes. "You have all eternity ahead of you. You had better start becoming someone the world wants to have around that long."

slydingdoor
Oct 26, 2010

Are you in or are you out?

Ramona
16/25 HP; 11/13 XP; 1 Armor; 5/11 Load, Scarred
Ah, right, just as you did to earn your immortality, is what I think. Don't say it though. You want to be sucked up to all the time, like you're my benevolent master? Don't say that either. I don't have any illusions you and the world both won't get tired of and regret being around me. I just have to make sure you don't kill me before you come around again. Maybe I should've said before that at some point, now, or soon. I say some other truth.

"I 'made up my mind' to treat you as an equal. Otherwise I'd be just fine using you as bait, or letting you wear yourself out completely and leaving you behind. I wouldn't care whether you were wrong as long as you were healing me and staying out of my way, and I'd drop you the second you threatened me. If I treated everyone like I'm treating you, I'd be long dead.

"I'm not confused, I know myself. You've had 300 years to meet enough people just like me to prepare you for me, to figure them out, didn't, and now you're blaming me for not making sense. Attacking me. And you think the the world doesn't want me alive? That's bullshit too. People like me get killed, starved, and worked to death because the world wants all of all of us, all the time, at any time, but not to owe us anything. And because it can get away with it. Dealing with us that way. I won't stand for it. I'm not just gonna let it happen."

Some other truth gets away with me too. I take a deep breath and try to calm down.

Shardix
Sep 14, 2011

I've earned my fee. Ta-ta!

Serenity
HP 11/20 | Armor 2 | Load 1/9 | XP 21/13

"You won't stand for it, huh? And what exactly have you ever done to fix things? Murdering people clearly hasn't helped."

Serenity turned and walked away.

"Talk about the hardships you've faced all you like. I approached you openly and free of assumptions and you have never failed to be spiteful and emotionally manipulative about it. The truth is, you are a lovely person and nobody wants to deal with you. That is why everyone attacks you. That is why you are alone. Because it's easier to blame everybody else than it is to admit that you carry some of the blame for your problems and work to change that."

Pausing, she looked over at Nori.

"Nori. Got anything to get off your chest? Just how guilty should I be feeling over Jaime dying through no fault of my own, anyway? All the guilt possible or just a little bit?" Her head whipped over to Branwen. "How about you, Morning Glory? I think I have just enough in me for one final screaming match before my throat tears itself apart."

slydingdoor
Oct 26, 2010

Are you in or are you out?

Ramona
16/25 HP; 11/13 XP; 1 Armor; 5/11 Load, Scarred
I don't stop her from turning on me again. I wait for her to take a breath, step forward, make a tangled fist next to her scalp in one hand and putting her own hand on my wrist with the other, so she has leverage to not get her neck snapped, then I drag her backwards across me so she's facing me again, and raise her to my eye level. She may be too weak to carry anyone larger than an infant, but she can hold herself up I'm pretty sure. I address the others first, then turn my attention back.

"The rest of you can have her in a minute. You've lived up your own rear end for so long you just don't get why everyone can't have it as easy as you! Can't be just like you! Isn't trying to be you! You're a coddled babe with babes of her own, Serenity, from a dream world painted on paper that you'd see is cheap and flat if you ever changed your perspective. But you're creativity seems to have hit a block. You're repeating yourself, and others.

"I hate this song. I thought you would be the one to write a better one with me."

"I know I'm not the first one to have to clean up after you, listen to you babble with a straight face then move all the dangerous things in your path into the locked cabinets, not the first "project" you've tried to "save" with your promises until you get bored and let them fall off the cliff you bid them climb up together with you.

"I'm just going to be the first to hold you to what you've said. You're not going to dash me on the rocks with my own hope, siren-like. And I'm not doing all the work. You're gonna learn a new way. You're going to meet me, then when you see me as an equal, maybe I'll see you how you wish I would."

Shardix
Sep 14, 2011

I've earned my fee. Ta-ta!

Serenity
HP 11/20 | Armor 2 | Load 1/9 | XP 21/13

"I'm not here to play Who-Had-It-Worse with you. Everyone's life is hard, and your obsessive need to be the most beaten bitch in the room has grown beyond tedious. The rest of your nonsense I won't even dignify with an answer. You can pretend I lead some amazingly charmed life and never worked a day for anything I have, but it won't make you appear any more noble for it. As for the rest..."

Angling her head, she spat blood into Ramona's face.

"I don't need to dash your hopes. You'll do that just fine on your own. You'll get everything you've asked for and you will learn that nothing has changed because you haven't changed. Now either hit me, gently caress me, or let me go so I can find somewhere to collapse."

ArkInBlack
Mar 22, 2013


Branwen McAlister
HP 20/20 | Armor 1 | XP 8/12 | Load 4/12
Spells: Light[X] Sanctify[ ] Guidance[ ] CLW[X]
Bless[X] Cause Fear[ ] Magic Weapon[X] Speak W/ Dead[ ]
Boom[X]


"No." Bran rasps out, voice almost as hoarse as Serenity's. "You don't get to wash your hands just like that. Pretend you don't just drop people when you get bored." She reaches up and struggles to get her helmet off, previously attached firmly to keep the ocean out, before tearing it off. "You left us!" Bran's finger points accusingly. "Just like I knew you would. Just like he did. But at least that piece of poo poo had the goddamn courtesy to leave me my mother when he left!"

Shardix
Sep 14, 2011

I've earned my fee. Ta-ta!

Serenity
HP 11/20 | Armor 2 | Load 1/9 | XP 21/13

The elf's eyes slid over towards Branwen, staring dumbly at the girl. "Really? You were not some child abandoned. You were a woman grown even then, and my other daughter wanted to learn the arts. You both chose to stay in a swamp."

ArkInBlack
Mar 22, 2013


Branwen McAlister
HP 20/20 | Armor 1 | XP 8/12 | Load 4/12
Spells: Light[X] Sanctify[ ] Guidance[ ] CLW[X]
Bless[X] Cause Fear[ ] Magic Weapon[X] Speak W/ Dead[ ]
Boom[X]


"AJ's drat near old as me, so why the hell did her leaving require you to go with her!? Because you don't care! You never did! You dropped us the second you got bored and used your daughter as an excuse to leave!"

Shardix
Sep 14, 2011

I've earned my fee. Ta-ta!

Serenity
HP 11/20 | Armor 2 | Load 1/9 | XP 21/13

Serenity's eyes blazed. "No. I left because I still have a promise to keep. A promise older than you, older than your mother, older than this leaky poo poo hole. And a promise made must be kept. The gods destroy oath breakers, which explains everything that has happened since I last saw the sky."

Her eyes shifted back to Ramona. "You keep saying I have it so easy. I threw away my entire life on your account! I broke a promise made under Nashira's gaze, uttered with all my heart and soul, to the one person in all the world I never wished to hurt and I did it for you! Undeserving as you are, I will see this through. Now. Let go of me and cease your childish whining."

It wasn't quite a threat, but the hiss behind her voice was no longer simply on account of her injuries.

slydingdoor
Oct 26, 2010

Are you in or are you out?

Ramona
16/25 HP; 11/13 XP; 1 Armor; 5/11 Load, Scarred
I don't react to the spit, it's not headed to my eyes nose or mouth. I take a deep breath while she fights with Bran, sigh, and lower Serenity to the ground. Don't let go, just sit us both down on the floor. "No. You misunderstand me. Regularly. Then instead of listening to me you walk away and claim the high ground. I can't let you keep doing that, I keep letting you do that. I have never thought you've never had it rough, only that you've had it easy at all." I try to speak like a poet, "It is as if... the rough things we've survived are lanterns that could light a common path to each other, but you're wearing this drat veil too! Maybe it helps you rest your eyes or keep the dust out but you have to peek past it to see me in the dark. Please. You've paid so much to shackle yourself to me you might as well try to recoup your losses instead of focusing on the sunk cost." Damnit, I sound just like Benjamin. All business, no heart. I shake my head at myself and refocus on the bard.

"I don't want you to pity me or need you to validate my suffering. I use it to fuel my heart and fire myself up and keep my wounds from reaching into my mind and draining my will to fight. You remind me of people I hate, who've hurt me deeply, I can't help that, so I use it. But you're telling me that spite and vindictiveness burns your eyes, and I hear you, so I'll stop. You're not one of them." Yet–I can't help but think as I put myself out there trying to bring her back. "I'm sorry. I don't want you hurt, and I need you well more than I want one particular way I can use you."

I lift her back up to standing and before I let her go I whisper one last bit in Elvish, because no ghosts around me speak it. Nori and Bran probably do, but whatever. "Don't drat me before you've met me without your veil. If I'm undeserving as a mere protector then I suppose I must show you I don't always hire out caretakers."

Gods, what timing I have.

Alumnus Post
Dec 29, 2009

They are weird and troubling. We owe it to our neighbors to kill them.


Pillbug

Thock

The Bombardans are chopping firewood. Quietly, methodically, while your argument escalated and your voices rang loud in the darkness, Branwen's acolytes have prepared a campsite, and laid fresh-split logs carefully on the pyre's coals. As the flames start to crackle, the realities of this situation presently intrude into your dispute.

You're all tired, bone-tired; dead weary after long hours of combat and a grueling march to (relative) safety. Everyone's nursing scratches or splinters or bruises, adventurer and Bombardan alike. Everyone's hungry, everyone's thirsty, everyone's out of gas.

You're in no state to fight, or march, or do anything but rest.

So gather close; huddle in tenuous companionship amidst the firelight. Drink sparingly from your water supplies; never large, now dwindling. Quell your hunger; dress your wounds; tend to your aching hearts.

From the Raft to the seafloor, from the abyss wurm's grave to Ikaria Station; from Ikaria to the mana vents of Fitzl's Breach; now to Aqualantis at last, at last. You've made it this far.

Tian has fallen, but Silver-home remains.

clicky for bgm


• • • • • • • • • • • END OF SESSION • • • • • • • • • • •

Everybody Make Camp, and Level Up too if you've got the XP. You might be somewhere dangerous, so also decide the watch order.
You'll need two watches tonight for everyone to be fully rested.
Thank you all so, so much for sticking with me this far. We've got a long way to go, so rest up...

Alumnus Post fucked around with this message at May 28, 2018 around 03:16

Shardix
Sep 14, 2011

I've earned my fee. Ta-ta!

Serenity
HP 11/20 | Armor 2 | Load 1/9 | XP 12/14

After her confrontation with her companions, the bard had retreated into herself. What could she say to them? They felt the way they felt, and she felt the way she felt, and there was nothing to be done about the past or words spoken or actions taken. All that could be done is to pray to her gods once more and ask for strength. To that end she had cast her garb aside and given herself up to prayer. Foolish maybe, but exhaustion and pain had birthed in her a zealous reverie, a burning need to offer herself up to her masters. They, at least, were clear on what they wanted of her.

To that end the elf knelt just beyond the flickering light, hands clasped above her head, facing the darkness with upcast eyes. Blood ran hot down her arms, an offering to Jaira. A mirror lay broken nearby, a forgotten trinket of the poor souls who dwelled here, an oblation to Shula. A sizable shard from it was still embedded in her wrist but she paid it no heed. A tortured whisper from her lips as she named her sins, offering them to Nashira.


End of Session:
Serenity helped Scrimshaw realize he could still choose.

Did we learn something new and important about the world? Gretchen may be more deeply linked to Aqualantis, Murgo, and the rest of the madness occurring then previously thought, and that is incredibly concerning.
Did we overcome a notable monster or enemy? Scrimshaw sure as hell counts
Did we loot a memorable treasure? Serenity recovered the soulseed

Level Up:
Multiclass Master - Apotheosis
Strength +1

slydingdoor
Oct 26, 2010

Are you in or are you out?

Ramona
16/26-1 HP; 3/14 XP; 1 Armor; 5/11 Load, Scarred
Serenity runs away to pray on it to deities who seem as bent on isolating her as Savior, me. I have a lightning flower to bandage, and nothing to do it with but rations. I skin some fish, scrub it with our clean water until the smell goes away, sterilize it with some alcohol and apply. Feels like nothing, thanks to the nerve damage you don't get pain or relief. You just don't know whether it's getting worse or better where you can't see it...

I go check up on the bard to make sure she doesn't go off alone again.

Freed Sandbridge.
Learned Murgo and Scrimshaw are doing dumbass necromancy to keep Aqualantis running and defended.
Obtained Balancia.
Defeated Scrimshaw
Serenity promised to save me from hell itself, so I'll die for her if I have to.
Serenity doesn't want to save me, she wants to change me into someone safe. I'll show her how to care about someone for who they are.

+1 Constitution
A Good Day to Die: As long as you have less than your Con in current HP (or 1, whichever is higher) take +1 ongoing.

Alumnus Post
Dec 29, 2009

They are weird and troubling. We owe it to our neighbors to kill them.


Pillbug

RAMONA
Restore 2 HP and expend 2-rations: fish skin is better than nothing, but it's still not as good as real bandages. You have 3-rations left.

Away from the Bombardans' fire, the air is moist and clammy against your unarmored skin. You find Serenity deep in the grip of a curandeira's moon-trance, slumped bonelessly backwards over her folded legs, eyes open but unseeing. Faint whispers rustle from her lips: a litany of sin and secrecy in a language you can't understand.

You were worried about nerve damage; hell; what about her? Look at this - she's been cutting on herself just like Scrimshaw. Broken pieces of mirror are stuck into her wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips; most of the meridian points she could reach. Things are moving underneath her skin, pulsing and shifting like a nest of snakes. You don't have to worry about her going off alone any time soon, that's for sure. With the state she's in, you'll be lucky if she lives through the night...
What do you do, and who takes first watch?

slydingdoor
Oct 26, 2010

Are you in or are you out?

Ramona
18/26-1 HP; 3/14 XP; 1 Armor; 5/11 Load, Scarred
I get back into the firelight just long enough to signal to Bran that I'm not it, meaning not first watch, then I return to the little ritual. I did the same thing a few days ago with Nori, while everyone else celebrated around a bonfire I made sure she was safe. There is and was nothing in it for me, watching. It's not having to worry about what I might have needed to stop. Guarding a woman with a man is one thing though, a woman and some divine being, something else. I know all the risks with the former, pulling guard duty where I have. The latter is always surprises and I don't want to make things any worse for the elf. So I don't open my mouth or anything unless something's obviously wrong, like what happened on the sub with the ghosts.

Alumnus Post
Dec 29, 2009

They are weird and troubling. We owe it to our neighbors to kill them.


Pillbug

BRANWEN
That night, your acolytes come to you. Grimly, they supplicate you, faces and hair ritually anointed with an ointment of wood-ash and charcoal, chanting the Lament for the Extinguished Fuse in dolorous unison. One of them -- Sullivan -- breaks into a fit of thin, dry coughing halfway through the second refrain. As the prayer ends, Bigjob steps forward.

“--Lady, I’m no crusader like the rest o’ this lot,” he growls without preamble, “and we didn’ come down to Aquafuckinlantis t’ do anything other ‘n get in, get our envoys, ‘n get out!” He stabs a finger in the air, gesturing angrily-- “Now maybe those nutters you up’n signed up with think they c’n fight a necromancer to a standstill wi’ nothin’ more than their own two hands, but I know you ain’t half so stupid as that! I don’ much care if that deader we burnt told the truth or no, or what that poncey mooncalf out there did to yer mama, but I do know one thing.”

“You mean to throw our lives in on this, then you better find us some backup. This shithole’s got to have a radio station in it somewhere. A thumpin’ big ‘un. So once we find a transmitter pow’rful enough to reach it, you get on that horn and you call in the Lahar. You call in the heavies. I want your word on it.”
Meet their demands or your acolytes quit on the worst terms. What do you do?

Alumnus Post fucked around with this message at Jun 3, 2018 around 02:30

Alumnus Post
Dec 29, 2009

They are weird and troubling. We owe it to our neighbors to kill them.


Pillbug

RAMONA
That night, you dream.

You’re standing at the summit of an active volcano, just as it’s about to erupt. You’re straining hard against the massive teardrop of black glass set into the crater’s lip, shoving at it with all your might, shifting inch by hard-won inch the direction of the impending lava-flow. When you look down you find you’re chained to the rock too, manacled at ankle and wrist and neck.

Here: trapped in the links of that chain is the scent of her, tears and moonlight and salt-soaked coconut, the tender touch of her undrownable hope. There: this shackle is her hand on yours, wet with grease and the fresh gore of her lover, singing her defiance against impossible odds. The stains on your palms are hers, blood and ashes, the twin tokens of her violent faith.

You shift in your harness and begin to pull, straining at the links of your restraints until the chains shatter like brittle ice. You fall from the summit, down down down until you strike the storm-wracked seas below. The swirling rip-tide takes you; a sucking undertow pulls you beneath the waves, out into the deep until all is blackness.

* * *

Blind and deaf, you grope for purchase in the abyssal deep, holding tight to your last lungful of breath.
There’s no up or down, no pull of gravity, no way to orient yourself in the swirling nightwaters…but nevertheless, you feel yourself guided. Stroke by stroke, you pull yourself through the sightless dark, following a sixth sense you can neither name nor explain.

Your outstretched fingertips begin to find tentative purchase, brushing against...strange things...columns or spires, long straight linear things, edged with scalloped crenellations...pillowy mounds of soft gauziness, giving way before your slightest touch...glassy walls of tortured fracture-edges….braided cords strung end-to-end with razor barbs. You’re getting closer to something. You can feel it in your gut; in the pit of dread that sits hollow in your belly; in your lungs clamoring for fresh breath.

* * *

Your fingers brush a wall, an edge; end to end it stretches as far as your reach, as far as you can swim. When you turn back the way you came the wall is there too, encompassing you, encapsulating you, everywhere you can touch...closing in on you until you can just barely stretch your limbs out to their fullest reach.

As you search frantically for an egress, as your mouth opens at last to take in the breath you know will never come, the truth bursts into your mind like an unfolding flower -- you know these contours -- you’ve felt them a thousand times before. You know where you are. In what you are.

Him.


What do you do?

slydingdoor
Oct 26, 2010

Are you in or are you out?

Ramona
18/26-1 HP; 3/14 XP; 1 Armor; 5/11 Load, Scarred
I doze off with my eyes open.

Sigh, I hate when the drat pearl pulls me into a dream. I need to hang in there without waking up if I want my body to rest, for as long as I can stand. My mind fights demons or it will interrupt my body's repairs, occurring in real time. I do what I usually do when I need to last a few hours and create help. For safety's sake, though I have no evidence that shared dreaming exists, I pick people I know aren't sleeping at the same time, or dead. Nori and Branwen, taking watch. Serenity, praying or whatever. No Benjamin and Josephine. I miss them.

Good thing I got away from the volcano. Glass blockage was only going to buy time, there's no stopping the earth's flow. I stop holding my breath because it's a drat dream and I don't want to wake myself up. I focus instead on pulling some coins out and dividing them between me and my party members, Bran and my armor repaired by my memory. Serenity with her fancy dueling sword, harp, and whole left hand. Nori with a little less rope. "Half in advance, half on completion. Let's explore Savior for a few hours." I close my visor and take point.

Alumnus Post
Dec 29, 2009

They are weird and troubling. We owe it to our neighbors to kill them.


Pillbug

RAMONA
The shades of your comrades-in-arms are paid in no mortal coin. No, their price is nothing more or less than memory. Battles won and journeys made, moments of intimacy or of hostility, victory and defeat alike: their bonds and yours burn hot and bright in the pressing dark, lighting the way. Try though he might to fray those bonds...Savior's failed so far. He hasn't broken them. Not these three. Not you. Not yet.

You had companions like these once. Fighters brave and strong; soldiers and scientists; adventurers, thieves, and fools. Their memories lie like anchors on your heart.
Mark XP if you tell us about the people you left behind, whether on the surface, or in Aqualantis.

* * *

At first, you walk only through darkness, but then shapes start to emerge from the gloom...great rearing columns rising from night into night, studded with pillowy excrescences like tree-burls or cooling lava...you recognize in these queasy contortions the shapes you passed across in an earlier part of this dream. Are you walking through Savior's memories? His mind? Many of the columns bear glassy fracture-marks, or have shattered into tailing-heaps of barbed wreckage...what happened here? What catastrophe left these scars?

Before long, you begin to glimpse ghosts drifting amongst the colonnades. Some you recognize: Jaime and Sandbridge, your old friend Knife, an old mayor from the Aqualantean slums. Most are alien to you: men and monsters, orcs and dwarves, slender elves in archaic garb. These are no spectres, no spirits of the unquiet dead; no, these are the shades of his victims. All the power-hungry fools who fell to his blandishments, all the well-meaning souls who grasped at power beyond their ken...all are preserved here, in the architecture of your Savior's heart.

Not all those old ghosts watch you with the hungry eyes of a predator. Sorrow is evident on those silent faces, and watchfulness, and on the youngest among them...a glint of hope. You'll join their number one day, should you pass the Black Gates while still his thrall...but you, hunter, you have withstood him longer than any. Perhaps for you, for them, there may yet be hope to win free your bondage.

You should be on the lookout for allies among the dead. Maybe more competent allies than last time. Good thing you're a medium, right?

* * *

But first, look up: the face of Nashira glints overhead, then fades as if behind a cloud. There will be no escape for you, should you fall; and perhaps not for Serenity, either. She's twined her soul with yours already; mere intimacy would see to that, and what of the ritual-of-entanglement you and her still plot to consummate? What of the face of Nashira, the Goddess of secrets and hidden things, She Who twined Her own soul with Serenity's?

Your mind flashes on an image: a whirlpool as big as a city beneath a storm-wracked sky, pulling ship and dinghy and oil-tanker alike into its sucking maw. Should you fall to Savior now, with your soul entwined with a priestess and her Goddess...who else, and Who else, may fall with you?

You should be on the lookout for unforeseen consequences.

* * *

You walk deeper, further into the regions of shattered wrack. The not-ground beneath your feet begins to feel shaky, uncertain, as though you walk across a crumbling cliff-edge. There's a sense of great distance unfolding on either side of you, vast vistas plummeting away into infinity in all directions. Fog is rising out of the dark, congealing into cloudbanks of woolly grey. None of the warped architecture you walk past is whole. All of it bears the scars of war. All of it seems aged, sharp edges softened and worn by the relentless march of time. There are no ghosts here. Only the rising fog, coiling and unfurling, giving up its memories to your watchful eyes.

You see a place of crushing darkness, a gorge between two looming walls of black basalt, honeycombed with tunnels and dim-lit with a flickering violet glow. Shapes move in that darkness, coiling sinuous things like serpents or eels, but vaster than whales, vaster than buildings. The Wyrms.

You see a sprawling walled city bright and gleaming, so carefully planned and ordered that it could've sprouted from the earth like a grove of trees. Something impossibly tall spears up from the city center: a needlepoint of glistening white, rising up past the clouds, up into infinity. A flash of scarlet bruise-light on the horizon, red as roses, red as wishes. Flying craft swarm like wasps; armies mass outside the city walls.

You see the subterranean cavern at that city's heart, a terraced omphalos beneath the great white spire. Out of the still pool at its center rises a menhir of black crystal; sculpted trees and smaller menhirs dot the creek-braided terraces, and slim figures move amidst them, backs bent with age or injury. Some sing quietly to the stones, or stroke them with age-spotted hands; others gaze raptly into the menhirs' depths, or move strange instruments of steel and glass over their surfaces. There is a peace about this place: the peace of an unfallen grove, of a beach untrod. Peace, and great age, and a sense of orderliness, as though the very warp and weft of fate is visible here, gathered and woven and spun out into the world.

You see a group of newcomers stride the terraces, haughty and battle-scarred and uniformed. The cavern roof far above shudders, and flakes of fallen stone trouble the stillness of the central pool. The elders' protests are swept aside; their resistance met with instant violence. Soon the creeks and ponds run red.

A uniformed figure lifts bloodstained tools to the sky: a hammer and pointed chisel.


You should be on the lookout for the other missing pieces.

Alumnus Post
Dec 29, 2009

They are weird and troubling. We owe it to our neighbors to kill them.


Pillbug

SERENITY

The grand temple again. The votive pool. The searing cold and the star-frosted sky. Anastasia's engagement ring nestled on your left hand, white pearl and figured wrightwood - and on your other hand, a bracelet of black pearl, glistening green and blue, filigreed with a motif of chains and oyster shells. Nashira and Her family, a crowding of stone effigies close-gathered about you. You've made of yourself a sacrificial offering - and your gods have accepted. Spreadeagled, you lie atop those still waters as the shadows flicker and sway; as the stars of the firmament wheel madly above, and the moons rush through their phases like choristers late for their recital.



An effigy of Nashira Militant looms over your head, resplendent in robe and coat of mail. A serpent twines her right hand, frozen in the attitude of unsheathing her scabbarded sword; her left hand curls protectively around the soft swell of her pregnancy. Her face is frozen in a mask of rage and anguish. At your feet, Jaira's effigy stands, face locked into an attitude of strong-backed resolution. In the four fingers of her right hand she raises a sickle in a warding gesture; in the three fingers of her left, she hefts a set of scales. Water trickles from the broken stumps, down to the sheaves of wheat piled before her. Shula's effigy is not visible, but you feel his presence hovering close, somewhere just below you. The others stand, or kneel, or poise, each to their nature: Eihaix frozen in her endless dance, Xvedon shapeless under their stony cloak.

The heavens above slow their wild whirling; the moons in their fullness glide to a halt, each haloing the face of their effigy. A glimmering of light glints on the effigies' faces: far, far below, the sun is shining. The moons brighten with that reflected light, casting stark shadows onto your upturned face - then suddenly the waters below burst out into a glory of golden radiance!



The light, the LIGHT! -- it pinions you between sea and sky like a butterfly to a corkboard, blinding, overwhelming. The voices of your gods rise in that consuming light, a clarion call to Their adopted stepdaughter. They speak no words -- the gods need no language to make Their voices understood -- but the force of Their speech, and of its meaning, is heartbreakingly clear.

Praise. Praise for you, O prodigal, who gave up hearth and happiness to walk a road of pain. Praise for you, who casts defiance into the teeth of beings far greater than she; who shines a beacon of hope in the dark, who stands by her comrades' sides through heartache and torment and the irresistible force of Fate. Despite your indiscretions, despite your occasional lapses in judgment, you've proven worthy to bear the firmament's mantle. Worthy to be Their vessel - to be the one to find the truth, and drag it screaming into the light.

Nashira's effigy bends close with a low scraping of stone. Her frozen shriek of rage is gone, replaced by the knowing smirk you've worn a thousand times before. The serpent coiled around her wrist stirs lazily. Its emerald eyes lock on yours.

You've given up so much to come this far, Serenity. But there's farther still to go - far more required of you if your holy mission is to be fulfilled. As you are now, you're an imperfect vessel for the Goddess' will: just tallow, just a candle, fuel for the flame. In the face of what Nashira has demanded of you, you would surely be burned away.



Nashira's serpent rears back and strikes, stone fangs sinking deep into your arm. Painless fire floods your veins. A silent scream bursts scalding from your throat. Your consciousness sinks away into a wash of golden light.

Candles can be re-cast. Fuel can be refined. And you, vessel, you will simply have to be transformed.

Alumnus Post fucked around with this message at Jun 13, 2018 around 05:13

ArkInBlack
Mar 22, 2013


Branwen McAlister
HP 20/20 | Armor 1 | XP 8/12 | Load 4/12
Spells: Light[X] Sanctify[ ] Guidance[ ] CLW[X]
Bless[X] Cause Fear[ ] Magic Weapon[X] Speak W/ Dead[ ]
Boom[X]


Branwen's gaze doesn't shift from the wall she's been staring at the entire time, responding to Sullivan's big speech with a deliberately flat "Sure. Find a radio, call backup." She takes a swig from her canteen. "Anything else?"

Bran takes first watch.

Alumnus Post
Dec 29, 2009

They are weird and troubling. We owe it to our neighbors to kill them.


Pillbug

BRANWEN
Sullivan seems to deflate at your response. His shoulders sag, his back bends. "No, lady," he says tiredly. He looks at the ground for a few moments. "'M sorry," he mumbles, without meeting your eyes. "This whole thing...it's jus' crazy, all of it. I dinnae think even the College o' Bishops knew wha' we'd be facin' here...I spoke out of turn."

He looks up sharply at you, fear twisting his features into a grimace. "But don' you mistake me, lady - we're for you. We're for you."

* * *

It's quiet here in Silver-home, but for the crackling of the watchfire and the small noises of a camp at rest. The air is damp and clammy, saturated with moisture and freighted with strange odors. Mildew and marsh-gas, damp earth, brine, rotting plants, and a strange yeasty tang like something you once smelled in an alchemist's lab. The air smells alive.

Serenity is off a ways, deep in fervent prayer; Ramona has gone with her. Nori and your acolytes slumber peacefully around the campfire. Niamh shifts restlessly in her sleep, mumbling something. You're the only one awake.
You can commune with Bombarda at this time.

Nothing happens for an hour, then for an hour more. Your companions slumber on. Then -- something catches your eye, out beyond the firelight -- a drifting wisp of marshlight. What's this? Who's that? You can't quite tell from here...
Something is approaching the camp. Roll +WIS, and decide if you're going to wake the camp or deal with whatever this is yourself. What do you do?

Shardix
Sep 14, 2011

I've earned my fee. Ta-ta!

Serenity
HP 20/20 | Armor 2 | Load 1/9 | XP 12/14

I am a vessel being emptied, to be filled with something greater.

Serenity lay beneath the whirling void, enraptured by the visions whirling through her mind. Not even an elven lifetime was enough to accurately describe the things she bore witness too. Joy and sorrow in all their infinite forms as her lords and ladies whispered in her mind, cradled her soul, and tore her apart from the foundation. Her own prayers were torn screaming from the ether - force of will alone giving them form. All the greatest things she had ever done had been preceded by pain. Her greatest loves, her children, the victories stolen from tyrants. By the grace of the moons this would be no different.

Let the will of my gods flow my every word and action. May I never falter, and may I always be found right in their eyes. Let my blood carry away my weakness as I am remade.

An eternity seemed to pass as Serenity sang wordless songs of worship. Her mind was aflame in zealous passion. Eons later a faint vestige of sanity crept back to her and her eyes opened.



Behold a paleblood sky, and behold our paleblood daughter born of it. Go forth, and be my anointed vessel.

It was the voice of her mother when she was a child. It was the voice of her first lover and her youngest daughter. It was her own voice. It was all of those and more. It was Nashira's true voice, and every muscle and nerve and bone in Serenity's strange new form thrummed and trembled and ached to hear it.

ArkInBlack
Mar 22, 2013


Branwen McAlister
HP 20/20 | Armor 1 | XP 9/12 | Load 4/12
Spells: Light[ ] Sanctify[ ] Guidance[ ] CLW[ ]
Bless[ ] Cause Fear[ ] Magic Weapon[ ] Speak W/ Dead[ ]
Boom[ ]


Bran holds still, waiting for movement, waiting for sound. Something to give away what lurks within the shadows. Nothing comes. Finally, she stands, pulling her makeshift staff from the ground and walks towards the darkness. Once more than a few steps away from the campfire, Branwen pulls the pouch off the top of the staff, once more revealing the light and brandishing it.

quote:

SidekickBOT - @ArkInBlack: 2d6+2 = (1+3)+2 = 6
+1 XP

ArkInBlack fucked around with this message at Jun 18, 2018 around 05:05

slydingdoor
Oct 26, 2010

Are you in or are you out?

Ramona
18/26-1 HP; 4/14 XP; 1 Armor; 5/11 Load, Scarred
Coins in my dreams are like the ones my dead told me about, shell beads strung into wide belts depicting the reasons for the covenant, as a record and mnemonic device. I take this work of art and start pulling threads so I can distribute my partners the loose beads, white ones and violet ones. The real one is Josephine's, maybe it's in a safe somewhere or she sold it, that's her decision. It shows violet her throwing a violet rope to violet me and pointing to a violet mountain. Refers to when she and her at-the-time suitor Benjamin hired me out of the streets to train on that mercenary mountain. With Ommegong, the birdman.

Zealot had gotten so close to the Thunderbird that he could sprout big magnetic wings and cathode talons and thunder beak. His highland people had been conquered enough times that he started training them up, recruiting orphans to boost their numbers. The lost and downtrodden with only "hidden value," unaware of their own worth. I didn't learn anything about survival that I didn't already know from ghosts, but I got to practice fighting and living outside of a city or farm. I realize now there must have been exorcium in that mountain, so none of the ghosts there contacted me until I opened that cave exploring. Ommegong said it was because they fed their dead to the buzzards and their souls were free to return to their lands, body and soul, none lingered because there was no reason to. Turns out, nah, they'd thrown the washouts there drugged and naked to feed the bears instead of letting them go home instead of joining his army. Had to keep it secret, tie up every loose end until his time came. I told who I could, only Josephine believed me. She wanted to leave, too, and I think part of her knew no matter how much he loved her he'd single-tearfully sacrifice her too.

Seeing that is how I knew not to trust him when he said he could resist Savior, and relieve me of the burden, take it all on himself instead. Know now too thanks to this dream that wouldn't have mattered either, there are more evil shells around, and I would have just attracted another, and he was lying about resisting Savior or being able to control him. He invited me to a dinner to celebrate my purification, I loaded up on charcoal beforehand so I could fake being drugged. Instead of letting his talons touch my temples and fry my brain, I parried it so he hit one of his underlings and ran all the way back to the cave, Josephine was waiting for me there. We escaped through it thanks to my memory map. Joined up with Benjamin, she proposed and they eloped. After that she'd only ever practice martial arts with me, otherwise she was all about business to become her husband's equal.

Hm, perhaps she was her father's daughter, and Ommegong truly was a troubled priest trying to become the equal of the overconfident warrior with the hammer and the chisel. Difference being that she wanted to become close to someone who loved her and helped her free herself, and he wanted to surpass the one who thought he was worthless and unthreatening, then put him in chains.

Alumnus Post
Dec 29, 2009

They are weird and troubling. We owe it to our neighbors to kill them.


Pillbug

quote:

Hurry. The moon is rushing through its phases. Stir the ashes into bloody water, rake them with cold fingers into rotting leaves. November already, soon to be winter. All this death must return to life in time for spring: red to red, eyeshine to eyeshine, flesh to night-black feather.

- Kathleen Dean Moore

quote:

The shape of power is always the same: it is the shape of a tree.

- Naomi Alderman

CHAPTER VII: "WHERE THE ASPHALT SPROUTS"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

BRANWEN
You follow the wisp out into the dimness beyond your watchfire. This side of the district locks is rather less developed than the densely built-up warehousing of Tian - in fact, it's all but deserted. You pass some more wreckage from the blasted-apart airlock seal, and an overturned, burnt-out groundcar, then a leathery corpse dressed in ragged ESCO fatigues, facedown in a shallow pool of brine. A semiautomatic rifle lies slung across its back. This must have been one of Sandbridge's troops. The body is thickly coated with furry white mold, blurring the contours of back and shoulder. Guess she wasn't joking about how something in here has it out for the undead.

Silver-home must have been built to a different architectural plan than Tian. This end of the district locks is at the top of a broad, shallowly terraced rise, maybe forty or fifty feet in diameter. You keep following the marshlight, picking your way carefully down the terraces. Your boots splosh shallowly into water after the first drop, then up to your ankles on the next. Without your staff-light, it would be almost too dark to see now. No other lights out there; no motion; just a gentle splashing somewhere out in the dark. Sandbridge said the life-support was still on in here, right? Sure as hell doesn't look like it to you.

One thing's certain: there's water out there. Lots of it. Your makeshift lantern casts gentle ripples of white out into the near distance. The wisp of marsh-light bobs out there, above the surface of the water, then just winks out. Huh. Guess there's nothing to worry about? You turn to go --


-- and then quick as blinking, a simply enormous crocodile, jaws agape, bursts from the water's edge! Its teeth clamp down, seizing your leg in an iron vicegrip! Aaaugh!
Your leg's held fast in the crocodile's jaws! Defy Danger or it'll drag you into the water! What do you do!?

ArkInBlack
Mar 22, 2013


Branwen McAlister
HP 11/20 | Armor 1 | XP 9/12 | Load 4/12
Spells: Light[ ] Sanctify[ ] Guidance[ ] CLW[ ]
Bless[ ] Cause Fear[ ] Magic Weapon[ ] Speak W/ Dead[ ]
Boom[ ]


"gently caress!" Is all Bran manages to get out as the massive croc yanks back itself and her leg. There's no time for more words, Bran's silent prayer to Bombarda more panic than coherent words. Her free hand grasps a non-existent detonator and then slams her thumb down, an audible click cutting through the chaos of the struggle, a split second where Bran's armored shin glows before it explodes.

Bran lies still, the profound stillness of the world once her ears stopped ringing comforting. She enjoys it, before the background thrumming drone of Aqualantis returns to her hearing. She picks herself up, pulling her leg from the wet mass that was once a beast's head. "Keep yer gob t'yerself next time." Punctuating this by spitting on the mess, Bran grabs her staff and limps back to the campsite.

Defy Danger w/Int:
SidekickBOT - @ArkInBlack: 2d6-1 = (5+5)-1 = 9
Cast A Spell (Wis):
SidekickBOT - @ArkInBlack: 2d6+2 = (5+3)+2 = 10
-Damage:
SidekickBOT - @ArkInBlack: 2d6 = (4+5) = 9

Alumnus Post
Dec 29, 2009

They are weird and troubling. We owe it to our neighbors to kill them.


Pillbug

NORI
Suddenly a tremendous, smacking detonation blasts through your campsite! You are rudely jerked from your peaceful, dreamless sleep to the sounds of chaos and consternation. The Bombardans start from their slumber with a chorus of shouts and curses, stumbling in the dim light of the watchfire for their wargear.

You're not much better off, either - Ramona still has your sword, and you took your armor off before you went to bed. Your pack and gun are close at hand, and your jury-rigged hoversled is tied down over near the watchfire. Those night-vision goggles would probably come in handy right now, because the only other source of light around (besides the watchfire) is a fading white glow about twenty, twenty-five feet off in the distance. You recognize it as Branwen's cleric-light.

What the gently caress is she doing all the way out there? What the gently caress was that explosion? And why does it sound like something's splattering out there...oh. That's why.

A rag of anonymous flesh slaps wetly into the fire's coals and starts to cook and sizzle. More scraps and bits patter to the ground in a grisly rain.
What do you do?

Alumnus Post
Dec 29, 2009

They are weird and troubling. We owe it to our neighbors to kill them.


Pillbug

BRANWEN
You make it about four or five steps before your vision goes gray and your legs turn to jelly, sending you to your knees in ankle-deep brackish water. You look down. The water seems a lot darker around your knees and ankles, and it kind of seems like the wet mass of the croc's obliterated head is still stuck to your leg.

You feel really lightheaded, and it seems like the light from your staff is fading out. Nevertheless, in that dimming radiance, you think you see a couple of...they kind of look like big flat rocks...calmly moving closer to you...


You went danger-close with an area spell, so the damage you dealt to that croc was also dealt to you.
That leaves you at 11/20 HP. What do you do?

Alumnus Post fucked around with this message at Jun 19, 2018 around 11:32

Shardix
Sep 14, 2011

I've earned my fee. Ta-ta!

Serenity
HP 20/20 | Armor 2 | Load 1/9 | XP 12/14

It was dark. Cramped. Like that time she'd stolen away from the Empire in that steamer trunk. Her arms were hugged tightly around her chest by the enclosed space, and what air she was able to pull in was hot and heavy. Every now and then her body seized and her nerves screamed a ecstatic chorus across her body. Every part of her was aflame. Even her hair seemed violently alive. But most of all, her legs and spine. It was as though her bones were being carefully removed and replaced with white-hot molten steel. She tried to wiggle her toes to reassure herself they still worked, and her body pushed up, face pressed against the wall of her cage.

Another jolt of searing agony rocketed through her. Her hand jerked reflexively the scant inch of room it had and impacted the wall with shocking force.

crack

It was faint. Faint enough she wasn't certain he had heard it. Another jolt and her head slammed forward.

crack

Nearly regular enough to set a watch by her muscles jerked and spasmed and he prison grew ever weaker. It was like giving birth, and it was then that Serenity knew with bright clarity what she was intended for. Nashira had chosen her. Remade her. A symbol of the goddess' will and a bold declaration of intent. The Lady of the Moon would have this city's secrets and none would gainsay her will. And every new thing must come from something else. In a sense, Serenity was giving birth - to herself.

crack

Time passed and a final blow knocked a chunk of her prison loose. She worked the edges patiently but steadily. Widening it piece by piece. Soon the gap was large enough and Serenity hooked her arms up to gain leverage for the rest of her. As she crested the rim of egg she sat upright, silently thrilling at a cool breeze on her skin after that suffocating heat. Looking down it was obvious why her cocoon had been so cramped. Her lower half was slowly uncoiling from the egg, and there was a great deal of it. A great serpentine tail pale as moonlight and spotted with brilliant red.

Leaning on her arms, she took great lungfuls of air as her senses adjusted. Her hair hung limp against her back and face, and it took a few swipes to get it out of the way enough to take in her surroundings.

slydingdoor
Oct 26, 2010

Are you in or are you out?

Ramona
18/26-1 HP; 4/14 XP; 1 Armor; 5/11 Load, Scarred
I'm almost completely finished with a sleep cycle before the sound of one of Bran's explosions cuts it short. First thing I do is check on Serenity, make sure she's awake and ready for a fight. It smells suspicious as I get near, then I see the giant mutant reptile halfway through swallowing her, looking stunned and disoriented. I draw the knife she lent me and feel with my free hand around her waist, looking for the maw of the boa, ready to slice open its cheek, careful not to cut the elf inside. I remember what feels like ages ago when I grabbed her by the pants and threw her up into a ship's mast, away from hungry ghosts that gnawed on me instead. This time, there's no pants, nor is there a hungry monster. Below her elven navel she's a calico snake. A formavit, now, like Stathis, or Scrimshaw.

I exhale in confused relief, "At least... you got something in exchange this time." Legs for a tail. Not finger for nothing. Still, like before I always feel like I'm losing something. With the finger it was her old harp playing, now I think she's probably quintupled in weight, she's also missed her chance to be carried. Also the reason to be, though, too. I hope. I look away in case disappointment shows. No doubt this is a great triumph for her.

"Can you move? Better learn how if you can't yet. I'm going after Bran."

If her goddess transformed injured legs into an injured snake torso I think I'll have a talk about the worthiness of worship.

Shardix
Sep 14, 2011

I've earned my fee. Ta-ta!

Serenity
HP 20/20 | Armor 2 | Load 1/9 | XP 12/14

Serenity raised her head as Ramona spoke. A flood of sensations were rolling through her mind and it was tricky to grasp quite what her companion was saying. Something about Bran. Shaking her head, Serenity heaved herself up with her arms, attempting to scale the egg with her feet. Nothing. Just a strange sort of undulating feeling.

"Heh...that's...a good joke."

Taking a breath, Serenity refocused on the task at hand. She had no experience with a form like this. She did not, on an intellectual level, quite understand how she would accomplish locomotion. Therefore. She probably just shouldn't think about it and let things work themselves out. With a second mighty heave, she hefted herself up and simply willed herself forward. The rest of her made it happen - with an unexpected swiftness.

Following Ramona

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ArkInBlack
Mar 22, 2013


Branwen McAlister
HP 11/20 | Armor 1 | XP 9/12 | Load 4/12
Spells: Light[ ] Sanctify[ ] Guidance[ ] CLW[ ]
Bless[ ] Cause Fear[ ] Magic Weapon[ ] Speak W/ Dead[ ]
Boom[ ]


Gritting her teeth Bran pushes forward through the muck, only to have her leg give out, sending her splashing into the muck. Fuming, she lays still, preparing a proper encore for the idiot animals. She holds still, every muscle tensed to hear and feel the creatures move through the waters, closer to her, hand prepared. Finally there's a burst of movement and her thumb jams down.

And nothing happens. No sound, no rising heat and force, her plea for aid unanswered, perhaps unheard, perhaps ignored. Well. At least she might find out which shortly.

Defy Danger w/Con:
SidekickBOT - @ArkInBlack: 2d6 = (4+1) = 5
Cast A Spell (Wis):
SidekickBOT - @ArkInBlack: 2d6+2 Cast a Spell Boom = (1+1)+2 = 4

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