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File: 1570485830227.png (484.9 KB, 2304x1540, Cerulean Library Card.png)

 No.725286[Last 50 Posts]

Last time on PirateQuest…

Thessaly's (unintentional) summoning of Seravelum, and the demon's obvious control over blood and curses, was more than enough proof for the Kalphite King and Queen to relent, and agree to the party's terms. They released the ostriches and chickens that they'd taken captive from the town of Gecko, and Kalphite guards saw the party to the cave's exit. Seravelum was quite disappointed that they didn't get to whip up a blood curse, and so Thessaly had to appease them by agreeing to sacrifice the first thing she killed to them.

With that resolved, the party passed by Obstinance's tent, which had been left empty and apparently unguarded. This offered them an opportunity to investigate the enigmatic exorcist, but Thessaly and Alder wisely warned against it, figuring (correctly) that the tent was trapped. Now, while the rest of the party continued on their way back to Gecko, Cerulean went off in search of Obstinance, finding him sprinkling salt mixed with wine and incense on the ground in a vast, circular perimeter around Gecko. The two talked a little about demons, and Obstinance seemed capable of detecting the demonic power that Stone Cold Classic had given to Cerulean after her wish for power. In a very strange move for a demon hunter and exorcist, Obstinance offered to help Cerulean bring out that demonic power, and gave her a small, wheel-shaped medallion, the Yana of the Moon and Stars. The medallion was enchanted, and would draw oddities unto itself. How exactly this would help Cerulean was not explicit, but he assured her that it would be made clear in time.

Meanwhile, Captain Cutlass was finally reunited with the rest of the party after a long train ride from Xallan, the major port town on Agyl's northwestern point. She had much to tell them about her battle with Shiro and Kuro, and needed to figure out how that all fit in with the unexplained conch call between Phillip the Gentlecolt and Thessaly on the night that Cutlass had disappeared. Phillip had apparently known about the so-called "mutiny" of Cutlass's crew and the resultant battle, despite Shiro and Kuro having every reason to keep it a secret, and despite them actively taking measures to keep it a secret. This gave credence to the possibility of an informant's involvement in all this. And to make matters worse, there was their bounties to deal with – particularly that photo of Thessaly with the Liber Animarum, apparently taken on Kaco Island, despite those events taking place before she salvaged the book from the Lilliput.

Anyway, with the party all gathered, now was the best time to catch up on what each half missed, and piece some of these details together to figure out just what in the world might be going on.

 No.725287

>Alder, Cerulean, Cloud
Puddin and Plague look a little sour at the check's sight, knowing they won't get a cut since they didn't help for this quest. Schnitzel doesn't seem too upset.
"We're gonna need some funds to account for the repairs," Plague complains. "Know of any other odd jobs we can pick up?"
"If there are, the locals couldn't tell you," Zerk says. "We only met one guy who spoke Equish."
"Investing in some kind of translation tech would be prudent…" Puddin notes.
"Well, if you want to help us with the manor later, that's always an option," Paraiba adds.

>Cutlass, Cloud

"What a cope," Chiu says, smiling smugly. "And if you even think about doing anything to Cloud to try to speed up those debt payments, you'll have to answer to my guard."

>Thessaly

https://youtu.be/jNlDHzyoz9U

Mallea stares down at the Karmic Seed with a look of muted dread and quiet contemplation. "…I suppose my deeds are going to chase me even after Palafox is gone, aren't they? How ironic that it would be after getting onto better terms with Chiu and the Wetnurse that this would come to light."

She sighs and takes a seat. "I don't know for certain, but I have the strongest feeling that this is the most likely explanation. You might have noticed from my earlier explanation that I was not Mayor Palafox's first wife. I married him shortly after his divorce from his previous wife, Cosecha. Despite all rumors and gossip, there was no infidelity. It was… complex. Even had I not gotten involved, it would have happened anyway–"

Gullveig clears her throat gently. "Mallea."

Mallea catches herself, and sighs. "I'm… getting events mixed up. I'll start from the beginning."

Gullveig goes to fetch the three of you some water.

 No.725288

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>725287
"There might be more jobs when we get back to the port if you really need bits."
Cloud comments.


>>724863 [Cutlass]
Cloud narrows his eyes at Cutlass' comment.
"Are you saying us having a kid is a terrible idea?"

 No.725289

>>725287
"Well, we found out about this back in that big city where Cloud got his new eye popped in," she replies as she works on fitting her mane through the Yana icon given to her as an easier way to hang onto it. She ends up making…something like a ponytail, but she still has too much mane and it looks more awkward than stylish, though she hasn't seemed to notice. She clearly doesn't do mane styling often.
"Though if you wanna help with the manor, I'd be happy about it. The faster we get out of this dry place, the better for me."

 No.725290

>>725287
She listens politely, not saying much for now, waiting to hear what Mallea has to say about her past. "If it is a sore memory," she says quietly, showing an uncharacteristic amount of compassion, "you do not have to explain."

 No.725291

>>725288
>>725289
"Catch us up on the details about this 'manor' job," Puddin' says. "I'll let you know if I'm interested."

>>725289
Paraiba can't help but snort at your rather creative ponytail. "Do you want some help on that? With a piece like this, I can probably get a pretty good braid going. Where'd you get it?"

>>725288
"Congratulations, by the way," Puddin' stiffly says, nodding with a sneer at Chiu. You get the feeling he can't muster up the traditional enthusiasm expected after a pregnancy announcement. "Our crews aren't particularly close, but uh… good for you, anyway."
"I'm happy for you, but… juuuuust stay on your own ship, not mine," Plague says, taking a step back. "I don't think my crew will be too excited if you get onboard our ship. It's bad luck, you know. Bad feng shui."
"Who decides this stuff?" Schnitzel asks with a shrug. "I for one don't believe in bad luck."
"And I for one happen to know a little about 風水," Chiu says with polite annoyance, exaggerating her tones. "And I think he or she's going to be good luck. If you need someone to rearrange your ship so that you don't have such awful Qi, I'd be glad to help."
Plague winces, clearly regretting his words.

>>725290
"Are you certain you want to say that?" Mallea asks. "Don't offer words carelessly. Words are reality. Though, I won't be a hypocrite – I lied to you earlier, and explaining that lie involves explaining this."

Gullveig brings back the waters, cool and filled with ice.

 No.725292

>>725287
"Hrm… maybe some sort of calling conch that can record a voice, and translate it? It would be very nice, but it sounds difficult…"

 No.725293

>>725292
"I've heard that some wizards offer enchanted tools what can translate on the fly," Splendid offers. "Though I don't know where we'd get one of those little whatsits."

 No.725294

>>725291
"A bunch of spooky stuff that is Thess' forte are going about the manor. I kinda forgot the specifics and all, but I'm sure something cool will happen!"

>>725291
"Oh, could you? I've never been good at the whole…mane thing, so I just let it go nuts." She sits down so Parabia can better reach and all.
"And that Obstinance guy gave it to me. He said its suppose to help with this whole demon thing I've got going on. Its also suppose to 'draw oddities' to itself." She shrugs.
"Dunno what that means, but its got me curious."

 No.725295

>>725291
Her eyes narrow slightly, and the moment of compassion is gone as quickly as it arrived. "Well now I suppose you owe me the truth," she replies rather sharply. "If we're to be allies we should be able to trust one another more."

She looks over to Gullveig, her expression softening. "Ah, thank you, sincerely. The heat of this place is almost nauseating."

 No.725296

>>725291
"There's a lot of minor magic stuff happening around the village that they think is the cause of the witch in the manor. We met her and she's already working on it, so we're going to help her out tonight to get it all fixed."
Cloud explains to Puddin'.


"Thanks," Cloud says to Puddin', then looks over to Plague, "What? How would she be bad feng shui?"
As Chiu interjects, Cloud puts a hoof around her.
"Yea, this is all only good luck."

 No.725297

>>725293
"It might just need to be something we pick up back in town to have for later- I do not know if there is much for us to do about it now, and all."

 No.725298

https://pastebin.com/QkZAMWNv

>>725287

"Surely you realize that eventually my pride as a pirate would demand that I have to collect on the debt eventually. I am patient compared to most pirates, but I can't have you owing me forever."

>>725288

"The very fact that you have to ask that question is all the evidence I need to make my case."

>>725296
>>725294

"What's the reward for this job?"

 No.725299


 No.725300

>>725294
Paraiba gently pulls out the icon, gathers up your mane, and then is in the middle of threading your mane back through the spokes, when you mention Obstinance. She pauses, brows furrowed with several questions. "So the guy we thought we shouldn't talk to in the first place, the guy who burned down three blocks just to destroy one house inhabited by a demon, the guy Mallea's scared out of her wits about… you, a pony who has a 'demon thing' going on, went up to him and took a magic object from him? One that attracts all those different kinds of magical creatures he talked about?"
"Yeah that about sums it up," Zerk says.
"…You think that might have been a good idea?" Paraiba asks, dumbstruck.

>>725294
>>725296
"Nope," Puddin says, throwing up a hand right as you say "spooky stuff." "I don't mess with nothing spiritual. Ghosts, religion, voodoo, the occult, none of it. If I can't touch it, it ain't for me."
Plague and Schnitzel both look similarly reluctant, but say nothing. Looks like they'll have to be convinced, or ordered by Cutlass, before they agree.

>>725296
"Pirate superstition, don't pay it any heed," Schnitzel says. "They have all kinds of rituals, incantations, charms, and taboos. Some think a pregnant mare is bad luck. Some think having any mares on board is bad luck. Same with priests, or children. All hoo-hah."

>>725297
"Oh! Why not check that mail-order catalogue, eh?" Splendid says, slapping her fist into her palm triumphantly. "Wasn't there all kinds of tech and shit in there?"

>>725298
"You'll get your money after I get my cut," Chiu says. "And I have a lot to invest in. You should get it all by your… let's say, eightieth birthday."

 No.725301


>>725295
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AphdK3JROuk

Mallea snorts, crossing her legs with a businesslike professionalism. "Then let's get it out of the way: I didn't lie explicitly, but it was a lie of implication. When I said that 'demonology wasn't my Craft,' that was true. But what wasn't true was the implication I tried to thread into there. I tried to project the idea that I had 'nothing to do with demons,' which is plainly untrue.

"From the beginning, then. It began when Mayor Palafox was still married to his first wife. Things had begun very well for them – they had wealth, land, a loyal populace, popularity with the elite of the nearby towns, and even some renown on other islands for Palafox's mechanical knowledge and ingenuity. But, there was a singular problem for them: Cosecha was barren, and had hidden it from him until after they were married. Barrenness would be a grave concern for just about anyone, but for the Krikral, whose culture highly prized parenthood, and especially motherhood, and shamed those who either cannot or choose not to bear children, this was an unthinkable matter. For the wife of the great Palafox to not be able to carry on his family's lineage would be a scandal.

"But, to Cosecha's relief and shame, Palafox was far from angry. In fact, that very hour, he dropped the projects that had occupied his time for months, even years, to pursue methods that would be able to restore her. But…

"Modern medicine failed.
"Herbal folk remedies failed.
"Even conventional 'white' magic failed.

"This took years, you understand. And with each new solution Palafox found, their hopes rose a little higher, and with each failure, they fell even deeper into the earth. It wore upon them, but especially Cosecha. It… changed her. A woman who went from being the light of his day, his muse and greatest supporter, slowly darkened with each and every setback. I can't blame her. For someone's heart to be struck with hope time and again, only to be met with failure upon failure, not to mention the side effects from certain treatments… nobody could be expected to remain unchanged.

"Then, with every legal and several illegal solutions all ending with failure, Palafox, himself aged years beyond what he had spent trying to find a miracle, got into contact with… well, I'll let you guess who."

Mallea pauses, sipping her water and looking off into the darkness.

 No.725302

>>725301
Her expression doesn't shift as she listens intently to what she has to say. "I see. It's understandable that the townsfolk would be more than suspicious of you, given the circumstances. What happened then?"

 No.725303

>>725298
"I'm not liking your tone."


>>725300
"Well it's not spooky spooky, it's just some haywire magic from an old broken rune. That just happens to make weird things happen in town."


"I know they have rituals, but that seems like a stretch to think any mares around is bad luck."

 No.725304

>>725300
"Oh! Yes, good thinking! They should have something handy, at least. I was mostly thinking of looking around in town since we were planning on looking for things to help you with magic, but the catalog even has the items delivered!"

 No.725305

>>725303
>>725300

"About a year's worth of interest? Yeah, that sounds good to me," Cutlass says with a nod.

>>725303

"Yeah sure, emulate my grandfather. If your goal is to raise a resentful child who runs away at the age of 13, you're on the right track!"

 No.725306

>>725300
Cerulean's face shows the obvious signs of thinking everything she said, then nods.
"Yup. Well, seemed like a good idea. Guy knows how to work my curiosity against me, I guess." She chuckles and sticks her tongue out, clearly not so worried about it.
"Besides, he said he knew about my demon thing when we first passed by him. He could 'see it' or something like that. So call it odd, but considering he didn't try anything then and now…he seems kinda okay? I didn't quite catch all the magic mumbo jumbo he was laying down, but he could've tried to do stuff twice, so…." She shrugs again.

>>725300
"Aww, you're no fun. Guess that means we'll just help ourselves to any neat, old stuff in the house. And unlike when I went looking through ships, it won't be waterlogged."

 No.725307

>>725305
"Hey, I'm not paying any interest on this. You're geting back what you paid and that's that."
Cloud interjects.
"And also, my kid is going to be nothing like you. Not in a million years."

 No.725308


>>725305
"Mmm, interest? Yeah, I think I'll have to give you a rain check on that."

>>725306
"Being no fun is how I stay alive," Puddin says. "Ain't failed me yet."

>>725306
Paraiba hums. "…I guess. And, if he was hesitant the first time about attacking because we were a big group, he could have done something when he had you alone. Well, we shouldn't get too comfortable around him or his 'gifts'. If it starts doing weird things, you should rethink keeping it."

She then starts to braid your mane, and the spokes of the Yana do a wonderful job at splitting your mane into several sturdy cords of hair, which Paraiba then folds over one another into a very lovely and long blue braid.

>>725304
>>725303
>>725305
>>725306
As Splendid takes out a newspaper, she turns to the rest of you. "Oi, you lot, we going to stay out here in the sun all day? Why don't we get a spot to eat at Mallea's, if she'll have us?"
"If that's the mansion you're talking about, I'll pass," Puddin says. "There a restaurant or an inn we can go to instead?"
"Well let's just go SOMEWHERE," Paraiba says. "We need to get out of the sun already."

 No.725309

>>725302
"More than one bad reaction to medicine had caused Cosecha to refuse any further material treatment. Invasive surgery was out of the question, as well. And so, Palafox, failed by both science and the white magic approved by the Shaka Mage's Guild, turned his gaze even further underground – to demonology, Witchcraft, and the Occult.

"Now, it was Palafox's turn to hide something from Cosecha. At first, I was brought in under the alibi that I was a consultant on magic, not as a demonologist. Then, after Cosecha had retired to bed each night, Palafox and I would meet in the manor's extensive wine cellars, preparing a ritual to summon a demon that would hopefully work the miracle that science and other magics could not provide.

"As we drew the circles, gathered the requisite Aether, waited for the Harvest Moon, and gathered the sacrifices, I saw more and more of Palafox. I saw a man beaten down by a circumstance beyond his control. There's nothing worse for a thinking, tinkering mind than to be confronted by a problem he cannot solve. For every solution to explode in his face. People like him love a challenge, but this challenge was breaking him. And Cosecha's deteriorating emotional state… her outbursts, her retaliations, her fits, her despair… all of it just bore deeper and deeper upon him. The weight was dragging him into the earth.

"And so, the Harvest Moon came. The air was perfect. The incantations were flawless. The conditions could not have been more pristine. It was during the summoning, or perhaps just before, that she found us, I think. The demon had just manifested in the octagram when we heard her gasp. I think often on that night – I would blame Cosecha's insomnia, brought on by depression. And, well, when she saw us bowing before a demon, ritual knives and chains at the ready, in her basement… it broke what little was left of her spirit. Her faith.

"She left that very night, and it was a very difficult thing for Palafox and I to banish our summoned demon. A demon who has been summoned, and is then banished without getting to work any mischief upon the world is a very difficult task. But, it had to be done. And since Palafox had helped me summon it, he had to help me banish it. It would have failed without him. So, while Cosecha destroyed the house upstairs in her breakdown, he and I were nearly killed downstairs trying to reverse a summoning in progress."

She takes another long drink. Gullveig reaches underneath the counter, retrieving a bottle of hard liquor of some dark color.

 No.725310

>>725307
>>725308

"Oh, no no no," Cutlass says, poking Cloud in the chest with her hoof. "You agreed to interest. You'll be paying it."

>>725308

"You need to have more faith, Puddin. I severely doubt this Mallea could create any situation worse than what the Bee Queens did. And, we managed to escape that. We'll be fine. I'm interested in what she has to offer."

 No.725311

>>725308
"That still makes it sound boring though," she says with a pout as Paraiba braids her mane.

>>725308
"I mean, he still gives me some creeps, but so does Mallea. Like…on an instinctual level, ya know? I'm okay around them cause they haven't made a move on any of us, but I feel like I can't really trust either. I really don't like feeling like that." She seems uncomfortably upset by this feeling, but that seems to fade as she looks at the very long braid.
"Wow! This is…great! Way better than I could ever do! Thank you!" She excitedly and tightly hugs Paraiba for a job well done.

"I'm all for the inn. They got those chicken thingies that are super yummy."

 No.725312

>>725310
Puddin turns to you with what is without a doubt the deepest "I don't want to do this" scowl / pout that you have ever seen anyone put on, even the most spoiled of royal, noble and aristocratic kids you may have met in your youth.

"Is that an order, Captain?" is all he asks.

 No.725313

>>725310
"Whoa whoa whoa, hold on, when did I agree to interest?"
Cloud defends, swatting Cutlass' hoof away.
"I'm not doing to have some bratty kid bleed me try when my kid is gonna need it more."

>>725308
"I said I'd give Mallea some help in clean up, so I'll probably head back there."

 No.725314

>>725308
"If she will have us- I would not want to bother her too much…" the griffon trails off, before shrugging a little "Might as well see, yes?"

 No.725315

>>725312

"Yes," Cutlass says with a firm nod. "As much as you hate such things, it's precisely because of that that you are so good at dealing with them. I need your scrutiny and eye for detail at times like these."

>>725313

"When I first offered the money. And you said that there should be a time of no interest for recovery. And, I agreed to that. No interest has accrued yet. Does this really not ring any bells?"

 No.725316

>>725309
Her eyes widen slightly at the story. She nods slightly at her assertion of the difficult of banishing a demon, taking a while to process what she's learned. "It sounds like a nightmare made real," is all she can say, rubbing her face in exhaustion. "I'm sorry you had to go through it."

She looks back at the door they entered through. "Do you think perhaps it is the demon's doing that these anomalies are plaguing the town? And, what happened to Cosecha in the end?" She takes a drink of water herself.

 No.725317

>>725315
>>725312

I know I'm going to regret this… [1d10] for motivation

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.725318

>>725315
"I know I wasn't that injured to have my memory jumbled, but I was talking about a period of not paying back since I can't be going out to get your money fresh out of surgery."

 No.725319

>>725311
"Yeah!" Zerk says. "Let 'er keep it, Paraiba, even if it does weird things! Who knows, these oddities might have some good stuff we can steal."
Paraiba shrugs, defeated. And then you hug her, which pops a few vertebrae to underscore it. After she is released, she rolls her shoulders and neck, looking a lot more limber than before. "Ooh, that was nice. But okay, have it your way. You're probably stronger than any oddity that might come our way, anyway."

>>725313
>>725311
>>725314
>>725315
"Well if it's all the same to you, I'll head to the inn with Cerulean," Plague says. "They've got a chicken with my name on it."
"Same here, I'll be 'round the house at sundown," Schnitzel says.
Puddin just grumbles, accepting Cutlass' orders.
With that, you now have your plans set until the afternoon. Splendid and Chiu start to head for the manor, and Plague and Schnitzel start heading for the inn. Paraiba and Zerk hang around Cerulean, and Puddin grunts, wandering off somewhere by himself.

>>725316
Mallea shrugs. "…I never heard from her again, certainly. As for Palafox… well, for a week, he didn't say so much as a single word. He sustained his share of injuries during the banishing, but nothing that would have damaged his throat or mouth. I stayed by his side, treating his wounds, until he was healed, but as I prepared to leave… well, you might have thought it'd have been him to stop me. In truth, it was the two of us. I'm not sure what it was, but… well, I suppose you can't spend a long time with someone without at least getting a little of them into your heart. Months went by with us under the same roof, exploring Palafox's newfound interest in magic, particularly Communication magic as I mentioned before. Marriage never really appealed to me. All that ceremony and pizzazz to make official a relationship that always existed? But, he wanted one, and though much of the town's populace stayed at home… well, I'd never felt like that much of a princess in my life. He made me feel like I was…"

She smiles, trailing off. But the smile eventually fades. Mallea looks down at her empty glass, then takes the bottle Gullveig produced and pours a hearty portion into the empty glass. "… I should hope that's not the case. I checked the basement a few times after the banishment was complete. I couldn't detect any of its presence afterward, even when the magical circle and various seals were undone. But, I only checked during the daytime. In all the times I've tried to go down into the manor during the night, I've never been able to reach the basement. I always wake up in the morning somewhere on the first floor."

 No.725320

>>725319
Cloud walks on back to the manor with Chiu and the others.
"So how much of the manor did you see while we were out?"

 No.725321

>>725319
After thinking it over for a moment, Alder heads off along with Chiu and Splendid- if Mallea doesn't want company, he can always head back to the inn.

 No.725322

>>725318

"Sure, like I said, there's no interest yet. But, over a year from now? How patient do you expect me to be? How much recovery do you need?"

>>725319

Cutlass frowns at Plague and Schnitzel. "After all that work to get you clean, you won't even show it off?"

"Now, enough of this teasing. I've heard enough about this Mallea, I want to go see her for myself."

Cutlass goes with the mansion group.

 No.725323

>>725319
"Yes," she says victoriously with a big grin.

>>725319
Cerulean asks three orders of chicken when they reach into the inn, along with plenty of water.
"So…think we should come up with some kind of plan for when we go into the manor?"

 No.725324

>>725319
She can't help but feel a little pity for Mallea, but doesn't show it, simply nodding. "A sordid situation. I can't help but wonder what became of Cosecha. She's still out there somewhere." She ponders this for a moment.

"What do you mean by you can't reach the basement? Do you just lose consciousness? I suppose we shall find out soon enough."

She observes the drink Gullveig has brought out with curiosity, pouring herself some and tasting it. "What is this?" she asks simply.

 No.725325

>>725322
"Probably not much, but soon I'll need to be taking care of Chiu. Just be happy with your money when you get it."

 No.725326

>>725325

"It's your funeral," Cutlass shrugs.

 No.725327

>>725323
Once you get back to the inn where you met Tranquilino, you find that it's all quite a bit more lively than before, thanks to the return of the herd of chickens. You note that the bar is packed, and there seems to be an abundance of fried, roasted, grilled and even steamed chicken on sale today. Drinks with little umbrellas are also free-flowering. Tranquilino runs back and forth between the kitchen and the tables, sweating from all the effort. He only barely manages to get in some hellos to you and your companions on your way in.

"Well, what was that about your little trinket you got?" Plague asks. "Couldn't we use that to draw whatever it is that's affecting the mansion toward you?"
"That, or if you could sniff out whatever the cause of the problem is – some kind of nexus of magical energy – you could see about breaking or dispelling it… maybe?" Schnitzel asks. "You're asking the wrong guy. I can't even spell 'mah-jik'. I'm not educated in the slightest."

>>725320
"Nnnnnnnot a whole lot," Chiu says. "The sunlight and all the excitement about our foal took more out of me than I thought it would. After helping Mallea with the dishes – much to her annoyance, I might add – I sat down on the couch… and promptly fell asleep."

>>725324
"Crone's Hemlock," Gullveig says. "A special blend of rum. Don't worry, you won't die! But those who don't have very strong magical reserves will be wishing they were dead. Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo."

>>725324
"I… can't precisely remember," Mallea says. "…That's something else I neglected to mention. I thought it best to not play up the potential dangers. But, I'm still in one piece, aren't I? If I had to guess, it'd be passing out from exhaustion, or from magical backlash that I fail to properly dispel. If it were the demon causing me to black out, wouldn't something far worse happen to me, instead of waking up unharmed in the foyer come morning?"

>>725321
>>725320
>>725322
>>725324
After you arrive at the manor, you find that it is open, but nobody is inside. Chiu pokes about worriedly in the foyer for a bit, until eventually in your search, you turn back around to the front door. You see that the front door is ajar, but rather than revealing the garden outside, it leads to a very claustrophobic back room of a shop, packed with all kinds of magical implements, tools, clothes, and even small animals that might serve as familiars. Inside, you see Mallea and Thessaly, as well as a very large owl, a Vola who resembles a great barn owl. The owl offers you a small wave, while Mallea turns and leaps upon seeing you. "Goodness! You people gave me a start! And hullo, who's this?" she asks, looking at Cutlass.

 No.725328

>>725327
"Ah… hello! Apologies for the startle, we just wanted to 'drop in'. I suppose this is not what I expected, to say the least… what exactly is this?" he asks, cocking his head to the side and looking around curiously.

"And, uhm, this? This is Captain Cutlass! She is a friend."

 No.725329

>>725327
"Woah, this is a lot busier than earlier." She pets the demonic lantern.
"Just give him a while and we'll get you something to eat in just a bit."

"Uhh…maybe? He didn't really say *how* it does it, just that its supposed to." She gives a very unsure shrug.
"I dunno much about magic either. Can't say I'm keen about *being* bait, but if thats what it takes, guess I should see how it feels every now and again. But only one way to find out if it actually does work or not."

 No.725330

>>725327
"Heh, well that just means we'll get the tour together. Though, I could use a nap after all that hiking now that you mention it."


When they reach the manor, Cloud looks around the garden as there's no sign of Mallea.
"Huh, didn't think she'd leave here."
As they turn back and see the bigger room, Cloud pushes the door open more to peak inside.
"Wow, is all that magic stuff happening early?"
He asks as he steps inside the shop room.
"Oh, she's just some hustler, don't pay her any mind."

 No.725331

>>725327
She forces a smile at Gullveig's bad joke and nods to her in thanks before trying the rum.

"I suppose you're right. Then again, this is potentially a demon. They live to toy with us. Who can really comprehend their motives."

>>725328
>>725330
>>725326
Thessaly turns around at the sudden intrusion, greeting her companions with a nod. "Ah. You found it. This is my friend Gullveig, and this is her shop. We met earlier."

 No.725332

>>725327

"Good afternoon," Cutlass says with a little curtsy. "I am Captain Red Dress Cutlass. Am I correct in assuming that you are the lord of this manor. Mallea, was it? I've heard much about you. I simply had to meet you myself."

Those who know Cutlass well enough can instantly tell she's speaking and acting in a far more proper manner than she usually does.

>>725331

"The owl?" Cutlass asks, looking to now to the Owl. "How is it that we got here, anyway?"

 No.725333

>>725332
"It's magic," she replies bluntly. "I'm sure I don't have to explain it."

 No.725334

>>725333

"I suppose by 'how' I really meant 'why'. Why here of all places?"

 No.725335

>>725334
"It was Gullveig who gave me, and by extension us, our current tasks. With the Kalphites seen to and the manor's anomalies under investigation, I thought it apt to inform her of our current status. As well as introducing you to her. There is much more in this shop that what you see."

 No.725336

>>725329
When Tranquilino comes by with three baskets of fried chicken wings (complete with dipping sauce), a flame darts out from the demonic lantern, immediately incinerating the wing. Tranquilino looks at the lantern, then shrugs and nods as if that was a perfectly normal event. From inside the lantern, you hear very loud chewing sounds. Plague and Schnitzel are transfixed by the sight. "Well, how about we see if we can get this little… guy… flame… thing… to eat it, just like he ate that chicken wing just now?" Plague offers.
"Another basket for the lantern!" Schnitzel says.

>>725330
Chiu yawns. "Mmm, so could I. And if you're going to be exploring the manor at night, you should rest up while you have the chance."

>>725328
>>725330
>>725331
>>725332
"Come in, come in," Gullveig says, ushering you in with a wing. "As for this space, rest assured that the manor's transformations have not yet started. I gave Thessaly a certain key that allows her to return to my shop whenever she has a door with a keyhole handy. Drinks?"
"Do NOT let that one have anything to drink," Mallea says, pointing accusingly at Chiu. "And don't let her near any of the dishes, or any feather-dusters, either. She'll clean this whole shop if you turn your back on her."
"That's just rude and completely true," Chiu says. "But please, just water."
The others enter, intrigued by the shop's myriad trinkets and baubles on display. But none are more fascinated than Splendid who is in fact totally enraptured, speechless at the magic in the air. Entering a room this dense with positive magical energy feels like you're stepping into a comforting, warm mist.

 No.725337

>>725331
>>725336
"Found what?"
Cloud asks, then looks up to the owl.
"Hey Gullveig."
He greets with a wave.


"Perfect, it's a date then."
Cloud says with half-jest to Chiu.


"So it's like a portal key?"
Cloud questions, looking over all the trinkets and assorted magical knick-knacks.
"If you got anything to beat the heat that'd be great," Cloud responds to the offer of drinks, "So this is a shop? What do you sell?"

 No.725338

>>725335
>>725336

"Hmm. Yes, this IS quite the interesting place," Cutlass says as she looks around. "I'll have some wine, thank you," Cutlass says when drinks are offered… despite previously stating her distaste for wine.

Though, the majority of her interest is focused on Mallea. "I've only heard the vaguest details, ma'am. What strange occurrences warrant investigation?"

 No.725339

>>725331
"Ahh. I suppose this is a magic doorway, then? That makes more sense than anything else I can think of… oh! A shop? Does she sell any translating items? We were looking for sch a thing!"

>>725336
"Hello! Do you sell magic things? It feels… sort of like you do!"

 No.725340

>>725336
"Oh, hey, try it like this," she says as she dips a wing in sauce before carefully holding it up to the lantern to consume.
"Well, its certainly not a picky eater; so if anything you guys can't touch appears, I'm sure it'll be turned into a snack or something. Could tell Mr. No Fun out there and see if that makes him more on board with it." She can't help but laugh slightly at the nickname she gave Puddin'.

 No.725341

>>725336
She observes Splendid's reaction to the place silently before turning back to the discussion. "As I was saying. The possibility of the demon having lingered in this place should not be ruled out. Especially given it was summoned during a specific night. If my theory is correct, we may be able to learn more to combat it." She pulls out the Liber Animarum. "Which of them did you summon?"

>>725337
"You could say that, yes. There are all manner of magical trinkets and baubles here. As well as something more. But that is privy to us only. Unless Gullveig wishes to show it."

>>725339
"There's all manner of things here. You might be able to find what you're looking for if you search hard enough. …I suppose that applies to life in general."

 No.725342

>>725341

Cutlass eyes the book silently with a raised eyebrow.

 No.725343

>>725341
"A wise comment, Miss Thessaly." the griffon chirps, bowing a little bit.

 No.725344

>>725339
>>725338
>>725337
Gullveig whistles, and the door of a small closet on the far wall opens up. Out falls a scarecrow-knight – a suit of armor and padded cloth, stuffed with straw. The scarecrow rolls across the ground and sticks the landing, hopping up. His armor and heraldry are all well kept, despite his ragamuffin looks. He's got button eyes and a stitched on smile. His helmet is shaped like a farmer's hat. "Drinks all around, coming right up!"

He reaches for a low, flat chest, which exudes a cool mist when it's opened. He pulls out crystalline jars, cool and clear and frosty, and several crystalline glasses that are cold to the touch, pouring everyone their requested drinks, the majority of which are unsurprisingly water.

>>725337
>>725339
Gullveig smiles, gesturing a wing about the very crowded room, rife with items both mundane and magical. There's quite a bit of dust in the room, much like in Mallea's manor. Chiu reaches for a rag on the counter, but stops when Gullveig taps her wrist. "If you have money, I would be honored to help you spend it," Gullveig says with a grin.

>List is too long, will post shortly…


>>725340
The lantern incinerates this wing too, but after it's burned to a crisp, you notice that the chewing is much slower and lasts far longer than the first wing's chewing. it seems that the sauce has made him / her / it / them stop and appreciate its flavor. Shortly afterward, it burps.

"You might be joking, but that may not be a bad plan. Couldn't be worse than the nothing we have so far," Schnitzel says. "How much of a handle do you have on the little demon guy?"
Plague jots down the nickname for Puddin, clearly set on using it later.

>>725341
>>725338
"I'll try to be as succinct as I can," Mallea says. "At night, the space within my manor distorts. Rooms rearrange themselves. Stairways stretch on further than should be physically possible. Doors lead to spaces that they are not physically connected to. This town, the town of Gecko, is also subject to a number of similar magical phenomena at night – people end up vanishing and reappearing days later, monsters from other habitats suddenly appear and disappear, as if fading out of existence, and vermin have been manifesting in both the wells and within the unfertilized eggs that the farmers harvest from their chickens for food. I believe that the cause of this is a series of experiments that I was conducting with my now-dead husband, former Mayor Palafox. But Thessaly, if I am taking her meaning properly, suspects that there may be lingering effects of a demon I invoked some months back."

Mallea then turns her attention to the Liber Animarum, perusing those pages which have entries upon them.

"…She isn't here. Perhaps she is in a later chapter that you haven't yet opened. However, the Animarum isn't the only catalogue of demons out there on the waves. Other cursed tomes, scrolls and implements are out there, having survived no shortage of attempts on their lives. But very few can match the depth that the Animarum holds yet sealed in its hidden pages. I used a very minor text, little more than a scrap of torn pages with barely enough information for one demon's summoning."

"But, no matter. Her name is Auntzi. As you can probably guess, a demoness of fertility, of creation, or prosperity, of eternity."

 No.725345

>Snowglobe of Manenhi, Agyl Island (this town), 5 Bits
Description: A snowglobe to remember this town by.
>Inkwell, Ink, and Quill Pens (3), 15 Bits
Description: Tools for writing letters. Papyrus not included.
>Papyrus (100 Sheets), 10 Bits
Description: Cheap paper for writing.
>Beeswax Candle and Floating Sconce, 20 Bits
Description: A brass sconce with a simple floating enchantment. Begins to float whent he candle inside has been lit, and sticks close to the one who lit it. Comes with a candle but can work with any candle put inside.
>Glass jar set, 50 Bits
Description: A set of 10 glass jars, enchanted so that their contents will never spoil. Range from small to large.
>Ghost Hunter's Incense, 30 Bits
Description: A jar of incense that, when exposed to air, will fill the area, looking for invisible beings and objects. If there are any in the vicinity, it will curl about the object, identifying it and making it visible.
>Wind Chimes, 10 Bits
Description: Simple metal wind chimes, a pleasant thing to listen to

(1/3)

 No.725346


>The Grimoire of Animation, 1000 Bits

Description: A heavy and old spellbook, featuring a moving scarecrow upon its cover. Gives access to the Animation School of magic, a series of spells relating to animating objects.
>Skull Hookah, 350 Bits
Description: A hookah with a basin shaped like a skull. If an item with a sympathetic connection to someone else is put in there, it can be smoked, drawing out information about that person as it relates to the object. Can reveal hidden information, such as the person's abilities, location, memories, plans, and so forth.
>Pocket Spiders, 100 Bits
Description: A jar full of small spiders that can be set to perform any menial task around the house or ship. Mostly for convenience when doing chores. Their specialty is weaving silk rapidly, enabling them to repair clothes, make rope, and generally perform any task requiring some length of silk. Can even fly
>Cloak of Beasts, 150 Bits
Description: A blank cloak. The user can store minions within the cloak, enabling them to be summoned later without having to use a roll. Can store up to three minions. When worn, grants a point of Pet Mastery. Design changes based on the minion stored inside the cloak.
>Bag of Masking, 100 Bits
Description: A cloth bag to be worn over the head, indicated by the eye and mouth holes cut into its surface. Grants access to the Disguise skill, but can only change the head.
>Self-Sacrificing Homunculus, 200 Bits
Description: A homunculus that can absorb curses if it is brought into close proximity with a cursed object or person. Appears to be a blank doll. Its appearance will change based on the curse that it has absorbed. Can transmit accumulated curses into another appropriate vessel. Rumors hold that it might start to get a personality if it holds onto a curse too long…

 No.725347


>Wildlife Whistle, 100 Bits

Description: A stone whistle shaped like a hunting hound's head. Capable of making any animal's sound, as long as the user has heard the sound before and can call it back to memory.
>Sky-Catching Parasol, 100 Bits
Description: A parasol that easily catches the wind, and has the curious property of sharply reducing the user's weight. In other words, it allows one to jump, catch the wind, and travel a great distance using the wind once they're airborne.
>Bell of Transformation, 150 Bits
Description: A bell that, once rung, can change the user into what they would look like if they were of another race, or gender, keeping their overall build, proportions and "look." The user determines what they transform into.
>Elemental Pipe, 100 Bits
Description: A pipe that, with a tap on its bell, lights itself, and always has a source of fresh tobacco inside. The pipe also has a property that allows it to store any one elemental minion inside. If the smoke or fire that the Pipe produces is targeted for Unholy Elementalist, it has DC 4.

You also see that a variety of critters are for sale. Mammals seem to be the most popular – rats, monkeys, stoats, and badgers are the more common, but there are a variety available.

Also, your attention is drawn to a series of string-based charms that hang from a hook, just above the familiars for sale. These charms are labeled simply as "Fate," and have a listed price of 0 Bits.

 No.725348

>>725344
>>725345
>>725346
>>725347
"Ooh… there is quite a bit here." the griffon remarks, stroking his beak in thought. After a while, he settles on… the Wind Chimes, for now.

"Do you see anything you might like, Splendid? Maybe you could ask about that magic… spark-thing?" he suggests, before cocking his head to the side and gently picking up one of the 'Fate' Charms. "Are these… what are these?"

 No.725349

>>725344
>>725338
"Or a combination of the two," she adds between swigs of rum. "Faith, this stuff burns the throat…"

>>725344
She furrows her brow slightly as she learns what the demon represents. "Hmm… You do not suppose there is a link between this Auntzi and our uninvited guest?" She gestures towards Chiu.

"Whatever the case. I suppose we will test our hypotheses soon enough. Perhaps another conjuring is in order?" She turns to the page describing Ragalaseab. "It says this one can help with charting concealed areas and the like. A useful skill for our predicament. What do you think?"

 No.725350

>>725344

"A lingering demon's effects, you say?" Cutlass muses as she looks around the store.

"This could be useful, then," she says as she takes the Self-Sacrificing Homunculus. "I'll give you 120 bits for it," she barters.

>[1d10+1] Whisper in Your Ear to barter.


Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4

 No.725351

>>725349

"That's how you know it's of high quality," Cutlass says before she sips on her wine and has a similar reaction.

 No.725352

>>725344
"Hey, this guy is pretty cool."
Cloud says as the scarecrow-knight tumbles out and hops around delivering everypony's drinks. He chugs nearly half his water, feeling the day's heat quenched.

Cloud snickers as Gullveig taps Chiu's wrist to stop her from cleaning.

>>725345
>>725346
>>725347
"Gotta lotta stuff here."
He comments, looking through some of the stuff. Some of the bigger things look entertaining to play with, though overall not to big of a use to him directly. But he does spot a few things of interest, picking out the snowglobe, two sets of the jars, the incense, and then after mulling it over, the spiders.
"I think this is all good."

 No.725353

>>725344
Cerulean giggles as the lantern goes through its motions, getting another sauced-up wing ready for it as she has one herself. There is some crunch, and its not just from the fried outer coating.
"Hmm…hard to say. I mean, I only just found it recently, so its not like its been with me for an overly long time like Roger." She has a pondering look on her face.
"I know when I first held it, it made my head feel extremely hungrier than I usually was. But other than that, I'm not sure if it can communicate beyond chewing and burping." She looks over at Plague's writing, but doesn't think much of it as she gets another wing for herself.
"Still, it came through when we were pulling in and those cloud cat things came down at us."

 No.725354

>>725350
"I already have one of those," she points out, producing the eerie little doll.

 No.725355

>>725354

"Where did you get that?" Cutlass asks curiously.

 No.725356

>>725349
Mallea turns her gaze back to Chiu and to the Wetnurse. "It would be such perfect mockery of my past failure for that to be the case," she says. "But Auntzi looked far different from this one. Although, demons of certain renown in the underworld are known to have peons, slaves, and messengers of their own. It could be that the Wetnurse is a peon of hers."

Mallea looks with trepidation at the Animarum, pale at the thought of another summoning. "Are you certain you can keep this one tame, and that you won't have another episode similar to what happened in the Court of the Kalphite King?"

>>725348
Splendid, nodding, turns to Gullveig. "What he said, Miss Gullveig. I'm looking for something that can spark an Arcane Awakening in me."
Gullveig smirks. "Adorable. But hasty. Why don't I start you off with something more your speed."
At her cue, the scarecrow steps forward, pouring Splendid a glass of wine. "Wizard's Wine, miss! Try it out!"
Splendid sniffs the strange red drink, then quaffs it in a single gulp, eagerly.

"That's Fate," Gullveig says. "Any Fate that you want – vague or specific, big or small. If you want an outcome for your life, I can weave it into the tapestry of existence it with Seidhr. Whatever must happen for that Fate to come to pass will happen, and you will not perish from this earth until it happens."

>>725350
Gullveig keeps her saleswoman's smile, but her eyes narrow to predatory slits. "…The sign says 200 Bits, ma'am."

>>725352
Gullveig eagerly collects your money, and passes you the merchandise after making sure that it's all functional and in good condition. "Hoo-hoo-hoo," she laughs. "Thank you."

>>725353
"Hmm… if it came through in the heat of battle, it's probably one of those hot-blooded type pets," Schnitzel says. "You'll probably have to impress it before you can bring it under your direct command."
"There might not be anywhere nearby we can get into a fight where you could impress it," Plague adds. "Outside of that Kalphite episode you were talking about earlier, things seem kind of peaceful around here. Hmm… any ideas?"
"…Well…" Zerk begins.
"Don't even think about it," Paraiba warns.
"She DID get in good with Obstinance…" Zerk continues.

 No.725357

>>725355
"Here. Yesterday." She waves the doll emphatically with every syllable.

 No.725358

>>725356
"Perhaps you're right, but I'm sure it'll warm up to me in its own time. From what I've heard from Mallea, I think it might've been forced into the lantern. So I dunno if forcing it out will sit right with it, ya know?" As Zerk speaks and mentions Obstinance again, she tilts her head a bit.
"Don't think about what?"

 No.725359

>>725356
"This would be a controlled summoning. What happened with the Kalphites was an accident. If you are not comfortable with the idea, we can go without it." She closes the Liber slightly sharply.

 No.725360

>>725358
"Asking him for a friendly spar, maybe to get that demon out of its shell! Er, lantern," Zerk says.
"Whyyyy do you insist on pushing her luck?" Paraiba asks.
"Gotta go big or go home!" Zerk barks back.

 No.725361

>>725356
Cloud tosses down the 235 bits needed, gathering all his suplies up. And for temporary storage for now, Cloud's eye glows orange to shrink them down to carry easier in his bags.
"And thank you."

He steps back to Chiu, finishing off his water.
"Hope you don't mind spiders."

 No.725362

>>725359
"…If you can control it, do as you like," Mallea says. "Though, do you think it would be prudent to conduct the summoning under this roof, given what is amiss in the Manor?"

 No.725363

>>725361
"Why would I mind spiders?" Chiu asks. "Now, if you had bought some wasps, THEN we would have a problem."

 No.725364

>>725356
Alder looks over the Fate, and frowns a little as he mulls it over. "That is, hmm… powerful indeed, to say the least… I-I believe I will think on it." he says, before turning to look at Splendid. He gives a hopeful smile, and asks "How does it feel? Is it working? I do not know what to expect."

 No.725365

>>725356

"150!" Cutlass continues to haggle. [1d10+1] Whisper in your Ear

>>725357

"Well, there's no reason we can't have two. I want one too. They look neat. Also, I have an idea on something we can try if we have two."

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.725366

>>725362
She thinks. "It's either here or out in the open, potentially risking the townsfolk's ire, or Obstinance's attention… It seems like a risky option, but one that could potentially pay off. Do you have any other ideas on how to bypass this "fog" on the basement at night? …Perhaps if we went there now, and stayed till nightfall…" She wracks her brains trying to come up with a solution to the quandary.

 No.725367

>>725360
"Hmm…I dunno on that one. He seemed kinda busy with sprinkling stuff on the ground around the town. Not to mention, I don't think Thess and Mallea will be all that happy knowing I went and chatted with him when we got back. And Thess is…kinda scary. Like I wanna hug her cause she gets all grumpy like Cutlass does when I do it, but unlike Cutlass, she's actually kinda scary when grumpy." She can't help but shiver a bit when she thinks back to the stuff Thess has summoned against things that got on her bad side.
"Besides, Obstinance does demon fighting stuff for a living. I may like a fight here and there, but there's no fun in a one-sided fight not in my favor."

 No.725368

>>725365
"They aren't toys," she answers with slight indignance as she puts the doll away. "What's your idea?"

 No.725369

>>725363
"Just checking. I got some helper spiders, might be nice for anything small we need, take some work off of Granny. Or give you little personal assistants so you don't need to clean yourself."
Cloud teases.

 No.725370

>>725368

"I wonder what would happen if we passed the curse back and forth between the two dolls. At the very least, we could perhaps prevent them from taking on some sort of malicious personality."

 No.725371

>>725364
Splendid makes several punches at the open air, but nothing happens. She tries swipes and jabs and grabs, but still, nothing happens. Gullveig and Mallea snicker lightly at the display, much to Splendid's consternation. She clenches a fist, but you and her both notice a nexus of colors swirling around and between her fingers as she does. She opens her hands, and another twirl of color and sparks appear. Splendid gasps with excitement, but when she tries to force more of these light-show cantrips into existence, they fade away instead.

"Magic's not something you can force," Gullveig says. "It must be cooed, wooed, coaxed. Just as music is not made by screaming into a flute as hard and fast as you can, but by blowing and fingering each note in its proper time, at the proper intensity. If you were to come at magic with the mentality you demonstrated just now, both my Coven and the Shaka Mage's Guild would come and lock me up for the sheer irresponsibility of it all."

Splendid's ears flatten, but as she looks at her hands softly, the ribbons of magic color start to appear and dance again.

>>725365
Gullveig leans in, glaring at you as if you were the tastiest, fattest and most arrogant worm she'd seen all day.

"…I'll take it."

>>725366
Mallea gives it some thought, chewing on her hoof with apprehension. "The sun is the lord of the day, and the moon the beldam of night. The rational, scientific, and the material have reign in the light, and the magical, the mystical, and the fey hold dominion in the dark. It is at times of transition – sundown and sunrise, that balance of power shifts from one force to another. If we were to hold the summoning at sundown, at the moment the sun kisses the horizon, it may have the most results."

>>725369
"Aww, how sweet," Chiu smiles. "I hope you bought a lot. They'll be working full time, but I don't want to hear anything about unfair conditions. Do they have a union?"

>>725367
"No, that's probably fair," Zerk grumbles.
"Well, what if you just asked Thessaly?" Paraiba suggests. "Once we're done with our lunch, that is. Maybe there's a footnote in one of those chapters of her dark and scary book on a lesser demon like yours. Maybe even how to tame it."

 No.725372

>>725371
"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. So long as I don't get that pounding headache again." She rubs her head a bit as she remembers it from the cave.
"Dunno if it was the blood or what, but something wasn't liking me being around Thess' book. But I'll worry about that later. Like you said, lunch first," she says, turning back to the wings.
"Got wings to eat before they go cold…not that thats ever stopped me, honestly. Heheh." She then starts digging back into he wings and giving some to the lantern whenever it was up for having one.

 No.725373

>>725371
"This should be enough. Also said they can fly and make clothes, so I figure that'll come in handy as well."
Cloud pulls out the jar, returning it to full size to show Chiu.
"If they complain on a boat they're free to try their luck at sea."

 No.725374

>>725372
"Oh yeah, that thing that rodent-demon called the Devil's Instincts, right?" Zerk asks. "Did you ever get a definition on that?"

As you polish off the wings, Roger comes out to clean the crumbs of flesh and breaded crunchy goodness off your cheeks, obviating the need of a napkin.

 No.725375

>>725371
"Ah… oh! It worked, sort of!" he chirps, watching in surprise as the ribbons of color and sparks pop into existence. His expression falters a little as they fade in and out, and he reaches up to place a hand on her shoulder reassuringly. "It is like they said… just take it carefully. You seem to be able to do it now, so there is no need to force it! I do not have knowledge of magic, but my time in Equestria has taught me much about patience and practice. I can help you keep a proper mindset about it, if you would have me."

 No.725376

>>725371
She notes her consternation. "One occultist to another, if you truly believe this to be an awful idea, then I shall not summon him. I'm sure we can find a less risky solution to the problem." She looks over to Gullveig. "What do you think?" she asks the Vola. "Do you perhaps have something that could help us dispel the ward on the basement?"

 No.725377

>>725373
Chiu puffs out her cheeks. "If my parents taught me anything, it's not to mistreat your workers. They're getting vacation time, sick time, and 'just in case' time, too. Oh, and worker's comp funds, educational funds, training, lunch hours, break periods…"

She continues rattling off everything a good employer should provide for their employees.

 No.725378

>>725375
"Well, she'll be able to do it so long as the Wine remains in her system," Gullveig says. "Once she's digested it, it'll no longer have any effect on her."
Splendid snorts, frustrated at this knowledge, but calms herself when you show her your support. "Well… we've got some time, yeah? Teach me a little while you can. And Miss Gullveig, thank you. You were right, I was too quick on the draw there, wasn't I?"
Gullveig lightly laughs. "Indeed you were. But, if you should ever come back to me, and I can see that you've got the right mentality and attitude, then perhaps I can give you something that will lead you on to the road to true magic."

>>725376
Mallea and Gullveig both give it some thought, and then Gullveig shakes her head. "So long as you take some proper precautions, then I shall not stop you."
"Indeed," Mallea concurs. "On that note, I suspect that we shall find out rather quickly if the summoning starts to go wrong. We'll need to be able to banish it quickly."
"And, I've the thing for that," Gullveig says. She reaches into a locked trapdoor behind the counter, fishing around for it. She then pulls out a bag of salt, about the size of a fist, and sets it upon the counter. "Take that and hope to all gods that you won't have to use it."

 No.725379

>>725377
Cloud raises a hoof, and gives Chiu a boop on her nose as she begins to rattle off.
"I was kidding babe, I know you'll make a great boss."

 No.725380

>>725379
She boops you back. "Me? I'll have a baby to take care of. I don't want a career to get in the way of that. You're gonna be the boss, lazybones."

 No.725381

>>725371

"Excellent," Cutlass says, somewhat unnerved. She gives Gulveig his 150 bits, and takes the hommunculus.

"I'll also buy this snowglobe," she adds another five bits to the pile.

 No.725382

>>725380
"Hey, I'm going to be busy going out and hunting treasure for us. I can't be the boss here."

 No.725383

>>725374
Cerulean gives Roger some pets, even offering a wing that wasn't half-eaten to him so he could enjoy as well.
"If I remember right, its got to do when two demons meet and the weaker one either submits to the stronger one or they duke it out."

 No.725384

>>725378
"Ah… well, I am sure she will be of the right mind. I will help make sure of it!" he chirps, bouncing up and down a little and giving Splendid an eager prod in the shoulder.

"We can take some time this afternoon to see what we can figure out, maybe? I do not know how long it will last."

 No.725385

>>725381
Gullveig counts the bits, seeming suspicious of the perfectly good money. She then passes you the snowglobe. "I appreciate your business, Captain."

>>725382
"Think of it as some additional income to pad the budget with," Chiu says. "An investment into our new ship, Captained by you and manned by our crew of spiders."

>>725383
"Wait, couldn't you try to flex that against the lantern demon to get him to submit?" Paraiba asks.
"I dunno… that seems kinda mean," Zerk says.

>>725384
Splendid giggles as you poke her shoulder, shrinking away as if from a powerful impact. However, her muscles are solid and well-built. It's like poking concrete. Then, revitalized with your encouragement, Splendid taps the counter. "Ya hear that, Miss? Ya best keep the Wizard's Wine coming then, right?"
"Drink any more and I'll have to start charging you," Gullveig says. "Which is not to discourage you, mind you – I'm all too happy to have you open your wallets."

>Paused

 No.725715

Last time on PirateQuest…

After spending some time catching up with one another at Gecko's bird farm, the party members split off from one another to pass the time until the evening, so as to prepare themselves for whatever awaited them that evening.

Cerulean went with Zerk, Paraiba, Schnitzel, and Plague to the tavern where Tranquilino works, ordering up some fresh fried chicken wings as they talked about the day's events. Paraiba and Zerk were very concerned about Obstinance giving Cerulean the Yana icon, unsure of what a supposed exorcist might be planning by giving Cerulean an object that would supposedly help draw out her demonic power. Talks later turned to the topic of her lantern demon, who was as of yet unnamed, but was identified earlier as a lesser demon of desire known as a 'Taste.' It was decided that she might have to prove her strength to it before it could become her loyal companion, like Roger.

Thessaly met with Mallea de Valle again, taking her to the hidden back room of Gullveig's Affordable Sorceries with the magical key Gullveig gave her. There, she learned that Mallea and Gullveig were old friends, though seldom saw each other, both being solitary types. At the same time, Mallea confessed to Thessaly certain hidden details about her and Palafox, the deceased mayor of Gecko. Palafox had originally been married to a Krikral named Cosecha, who was barren. Nothing Palafox tried, from modern medicine to magic, would cure her infertility, and so he called upon Mallea to secretly enlist the help of a demon: Auntzi, demon of fertility, creation and eternity. Mallea and Palafox grew closer as they prepared a ceremony to summon Auntzi, while Cosecha's mental and spiritual health continued to diminish. Finally, on the night of the harvest moon, Cosecha walked in on the summoning ceremony taking place in the wine cellar, and in a horrified frenzy, stormed out, having reached her breaking point. Palafox and Mallea had to stop and reverse the summoning before it could be completed, leading Thessaly to speculate that Auntzi's influence could be a cause of the mysterious anomalies plaguing the manor and town. Although Mallea couldn't find any traces of Auntzi's presence around the manor during the day, in all her searches during nighttime, she was unable to even reach the wine cellar, and so she gave some credence to Thessaly's idea. Thessaly suggested summoning Regaselab, a demon of scrying, to help them scope things out and potentially identify where Auntzi might be.

Finally, Chiu, Splendid, and Puddin went with Cloud, Alder and Cutlass to the manor, and met up with Thessaly, Mallea and Gullveig about partway through their conversation. This gave them an opportunity to do a little shopping from Gullveig's wares. Splendid was disappointed when Gullveig refused to give her anything that would induce an Arcane Awakening, but that was offset when Gullveig said that, with a little more maturity and level-headedness from Splendid, she would go ahead and help her on her quest for magic.

 No.725716

>Cutlass
Gullveig counts the bits, seeming suspicious of the perfectly good money. She then passes you the snowglobe. "I appreciate your business, Captain."

>Cloud

"Think of it as some additional income to pad the budget with," Chiu says. "An investment into our new ship, Captained by you and manned by our crew of spiders."

>Cerulean

"Wait, couldn't you try to flex that against the lantern demon to get him to submit?" Paraiba asks.
"I dunno… that seems kinda mean," Zerk says.

>Alder

Splendid giggles as you poke her shoulder, shrinking away as if from a powerful impact. However, her muscles are solid and well-built. It's like poking concrete. Then, revitalized with your encouragement, Splendid taps the counter. "Ya hear that, Miss? Ya best keep the Wizard's Wine coming then, right?"
"Drink any more and I'll have to start charging you," Gullveig says. "Which is not to discourage you, mind you – I'm all too happy to have you open your wallets."

>Thessaly

Mallea and Gullveig both give it some thought, and then Gullveig shakes her head. "So long as you take some proper precautions, then I shall not stop you."
"Indeed," Mallea concurs. "On that note, I suspect that we shall find out rather quickly if the summoning starts to go wrong. We'll need to be able to banish it quickly."
"And, I've the thing for that," Gullveig says. She reaches into a locked trapdoor behind the counter, fishing around for it. She then pulls out a bag of salt, about the size of a fist, and sets it upon the counter. "Take that and hope to all gods that you won't have to use it."

 No.725717

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>725716
"Heh, we're going to be a sailing embodiment of Nightmare Night at this rate."
Cloud jokes.

 No.725718

>>725717
"That sounds pretty nice, actually!" Chiu says. "Instead of raiding ports and other ships that we run into, we shower them with candy and make them some costumes."
"Very untraditional pirates," Splendid adds.

 No.725719

>>725718
"Now that's a plan I can get behind."
Cloud says in agreement.
"I don't think we've been traditional pirates so far, why break that?"
He says to Splendid.

 No.725720

>>725719
"But, you know, in order to keep that up, we're going to have to spend a fortune on candy and everything we'd need to be able to keep it good while we're out at sea," Chiu says. She then gasps and clings to your shirt dramatically. "You might have to get… dare I say it… a job!"

"Oh, I wasn't knocking it," Splendid says. "The seas'd be a lot better place to live with fewer raiders, slavers and all that rot. Can't you just have a pirate crew who just want to see the world and have a bit of fun while they're out there?"

 No.725721

>>725720
"Whoa whoa, don't be saying crazy things now," Cloud says, giving Chiu a reassuring pat on the head, "Maybe I can spin my aura to grow candy. This stuff seems to do just about anything so far. Or we'll get our funds by taking out the bad pirates."

"That's what we're doing so far, seeing the world and also digging up a little treasure if we stumble across any."

 No.725722

>>725721
"Oh, you'll do anything to get to sit on your butt all day, huh?" Chiu teases. "No wonder we get along so well, heheheh."

Splendid half-smiles. "So, I guess all of that at the circus wasn't your usual modus operandi, was it?"

 No.725723

>>725716
"I understand," she tells Mallea. "With any luck the summoning will go as planned."

She tilts her head slightly as Gullveig produces the pouch of salt. She is reminded of the various items in Obstinance's tent. "Oh. Thank you, Gullveig. How much will that be?" She produces her coinpurse.

"Galutisons, Seravelum, and now Ragalaseab," she muses. "Perhaps I am getting in over my head." She rubs her temples for a moment, lost in thought before speaking up again. "Say this works, and we dispel the magic binding your home. What then? What of that Obstinance creature? He's on the move, you know. It shan't be long until he tries something here. And I can't imagine he'll stop there. …I'm wanted, you see. Word will reach the Virtues of me soon enough, if it hasn't already. I haven't given it much thought, but it seems like we cannot hide forever." She addresses both of them here. "So. What shall we do?"

 No.725724

>>725716
"Hrm… in that case, perhaps we buy a little more? See what progress we can make. Again, I do not have experience with magic, but attitude and approach seem important. yes? I can help with those."

 No.725725

>>725722
"That's one of the reasons."
Cloud says with a smirk, putting a hoof around Chiu and pulling her close.

"Yea.. that was an odd case. Something I hope is a one off deal."

 No.725726

>>725716
"That…might be too mean, yeah. I barely know anything about him…her…it. Well, aside it likes to eat as much as me and has great taste. Plus, Mallea said this might've been imprisoned in the lantern against its will. Not sure how it'd react to someone doing flexing stuff on it…again."

 No.725727

>>725726
"Is there any way to try to get to know… "it" better? Would it be able to hear you if you talked to it?"

 No.725728

>>725726
"Then maybe we could try to let it out and see what it does with a bit of freedom!" Zerk says.
"There's no way that could go wrong," Paraiba says.

>>725724
Gullveig smiles. "It'll only be ten bits for the bottle."
"We'll take it," Splendid says, reaching for her coinpurse. "Oh, but Alder, do keep me sober enough to read that newspaper like you wanted, yeah? Just snatch the bottle if I dispose with the glass and start drinking it straight, otherwise I'll be loopy all day and night."

>>725725
"Better make sure our kids don't pick up on our bad habits," Chiu says.

>>725723
"We can discuss prices when I see how much you've used, if you've used it," Gullveig says.
Mallea leans in to inspect it, then recoils as if simply being near it has burned her. "Consecrated salt!? And you just keep it under your roof?"
"Is it unheard of for occultists to appropriate the so-called holy weaponry of our foes?" Gullveig retorts. "Besides. It was a… donation. An old acquaintance left it the last time he and I… spoke."

As for your other question, Mallea studies the bottom of her glass. "Home, eh? That's a strong word. People like us have no home. Just as pirates wander the waves, so too must we, skittering under cover of night, from a half-sunken swamp hut to a stony grotto, to a slanting apartment in a forgotten ghetto. I'll get back to wandering again, once I've put this behind me."
"To where?" Gullveig asks, both quiet and stern.
"I'll figure it out," Mallea testily answers.
"Alone?"
"Perhaps."

 No.725729

>>725728
"Oh! Right! Though, if you would prefer, we can read the newspaper later. You sound very excited about practicing this!" he chirps, fishing out his own coinpurse and paying for the bottle. It's not all that much, and he's quick enough to take care of it before Splendid can react.

 No.725730

>>725728
"Yeah…but how?" Curious to this, Cerulean opens…whatever can open on a lantern.
"Uhh…hey? You wanna stretch your legs a bit or something?"

 No.725731

>>725728
"What bad habits? We're pirate captains in training."
Cloud says confidently.
"Our kids will come out fine, maybe a bit spoiled from all the treasure and candy we're planning on though."

 No.725732

>>725728

"If you're a wanderer, why can't you just leave this cursed place behind you?" Cutlass asks Malea curiously.

 No.725733

>>725728
She eyes Gullveig questioningly at the mention of an acquaintance.

She frowns disapprovingly. "So what? You'll just leave as soon as this is sorted out? You can't assume Obstinance will give up so easily. Or the rest of the Virtues for that matter. You can't run forever. Sooner or later, blood is going to be shed. And I don't intend on it being mine."

She looks over to Gullveig. "Begging your pardon, but the same goes for you. How long do you think you'll be able to hide for?" She asks it with a slightly gentler tone. "Sooner or later someone will come. It's inevitable."

 No.725734

>>725729
Splendid sputters and scoffs as, with lightning speed, you slap down ten bits before she can so much as undo the clasp on her purse. Gullveig scoops up the bits and passes you a hefty blue bottle of wizard's wine, still about three-quarters full. Splendid squints at you. "Well, aren't you just such a gentlebird!" she says with mock annoyance, then winks.

"I guess we could put it off. There was all that what Cutlass was saying a while ago, but… well, we can deal with that once we're done here," Splendid says. She then pours you a little of the wine, and a little for herself.

>>725732
"I don't leave a job half-done," Mallea says. "I still have business here inside this manor. Problems to fix. Broken things to repair. And, if Thessaly's hunch is right, a demon to dispel."

>>725733
Mallea tilts her head, frowning with annoyance. "That's the life of a Witch. You're acting like I don't know this. Before Palafox took me in, I've had my share of close scrapes with hunters and hurried escapes under cover of night… Or are you suggesting I go with you?"

Gullveig scoffs. "Yes, yes, I know. You'll find, however, that a little hole-in-the-wall shop like mine has a tendency to be very hard to find. Somedays you might end up in it without meaning to, and other days you might not find it no matter how many side streets you comb. If the walls start closing in, I will simply pack up shop – literally."

"What's that mean?" Splendid asks.

"Did you think that ships and airships are the only thing that can traverse the seas and skies?" Gullveig answers in her usual cryptic way.

>>725730
You undo the clasp on the lantern's door, opening it up. At first, nothing happens, and your guests lean in with curiosity. Then they dart back as a small burning shape leaps out of the lantern's flame. The shape is bulbous, like a half-melted candle, and as it pokes out, you see that it expands, growing longer and leaner. It starts to resemble a small fox, or perhaps a rodent; either way, it looks cutesy, almost cartoonish. It sniffs at the air, confounded by its newfound freedom.

"Not exactly what I was expecting," Plague says, scratching his chin.
"That's adorable," Schnitzel says with a straight face.

>>725731
"We'll just have to make sure they get all the sugar free candies, and that they brush their teeth four or five times a day… and that they get extra homework to keep 'em diligent. Just because we're going to rake in a lot of money doesn't mean they get to slack all day!"

>Timeskipping to evening is now available. Once you are ready to timeskip, please say so and state what you'll be doing to pass the time until evening.

 No.725735

>>725734

"I see…" Cutlass contemplates. "Well, I may not share your devotion, but this job has my interest for the time being."

Cutlass then proceeds to find a comfortable empty room in the manor. She takes off her hat and plays with Sir Pent for a while. She lets him hunt for any rodents that are surely in the manor. As she watches the snake, she makes idle conversation with Ossie.

>timeskipping while chatting and playing with snek

 No.725736


 No.725737

>>725734
Cerulean sees the little thing coming out, and gasps in excitement.
"Holy cow, it is cute! Yeah!" She quickly grabs a wing with dipping sauce, holding it near the creature.
"Hey, its alright. Just wanted to see what I've been feeding all this time," she tries to say in a non-aggressive way and keeping her sharp-toothed smile down to a minimum.
"Can you speak?"

 No.725738

>>725734
Alder sticks his tongue out in response, an unusual response from the griffon. The comment about travelling the seas and sky brings him a bit of pause, and he asks "I suppose, the way is through… magic? Or, do you choose what doors lead to your shop?"

>>725734
"Ah! If you are sure you wish to share. I will not drink too much of it, since it is more for your training than mine." the griffon says, accepting the cup and taking a sip.

 No.725739

>>725734
She looks taken aback as Mallea seems to misinterpret her, but rolls with it. "…If it please you. It would not be for me to decide, though." She nods towards Cutlass.

She gives Gullveig a knowing smile. "Baba Yaga," she says simply to Splendid, and does not elaborate. She's starting to enjoy the griffon's naivete.

>ready to timeskip whenever

 No.725740

>>725734
"I'm with you on the first two parts, but come on, we don't need to load them with homework."

>Timeskip, helping Mallea clean and getting in a nap

 No.725741

>>725740
>[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.725742

>>725735

When it starts getting later, Cutlass gets more on guard. Though, she isn't scared, exactly. She's excited. She is elated to have an opportunity to be witness to a potentially genuine haunting.

 No.725743

>>725737
The fox starts scarfing down on the chicken wing, bone and all. The wing starts to burn as the creature digs in, making short work of the meal. As you ask if it can speak, the fox starts grumbling, grunting and whining, all the usual sounds of an excited canine, but not intelligible speech. You're able to get a better look at its body now, and see that its core seems to be made of wax, while most of its fur and appendages are made of fire that extends off that waxen core.

 No.725744

>>725738
>>725739
"Ach!" Gullveig scolds mockingly. "Way to spoil it!"
"Ah, yes, Baba Yaga," Splendid says, nodding and folding her arms sagely. "That… explains everything. Of course."

 No.725745

>>725744
"Ah! I did not mean to." the griffon says, waving one of his wings a little bit. "I assume Baba Yaga is something native to this region, then?"

 No.725746

>>725743
Cerulean giggles at the cute noises it makes.
"Sorry, I…didn't exactly catch any of that," she says with a nervous chuckle.
"But hey, how about we go and help the others out? Might be time, and I'm sure there's more somethings for you two to find and eat," she says as she holds a wing up for Roger to nom on.

"If only I knew how to speak…whatever language you're speaking right now," she says with a pondering look to the fox.

>timeskip good to go

 No.725747

>>725745
"Not to here, no," Gullveig says. "But a tale all Witches know. She might be thought of as our matriarch, if you will, in the same way some religions look to their founding prophets or wiseponies. A wandering Witch with a house that has no end of magic of its own."
"What, you didn't know?" Splendid asks as she twirls small ribbons of color through her fingertips with much difficulty."
"I think YOU didn't know," Gullveig says.
Splendid gulps, looking very guilty all of a sudden.

 No.725748

>>725746
Roger and the unnamed fox make short work of the remaining wings in the basket, and even scoop up the crumbs and grease from the wax paper that held the wings. It's a bit of a chore to try to usher the fox back into the lantern, as it quite enjoys jumping around on the table. But eventually you succeed, and Plague and Schnitzel finish theirs too, and Paraiba and Zerk finish their vegetarian enchiladas.

>>725735
There's a hallway just off from the eastern door of the foyer, and about halfway down that hall is an open room. Inside you find a small study, lined with bookshelves that are in turn filled with many neat rows of books. Though, the books look like they haven't been touched in a while; they're quite dusty. While Sir Pent wanders about to sniff out mice and other small vermin, Ossie stops and looks out a window to the north. Just outside that window is a small garden, walled in by other rooms of the sprawling manor.

>>725739
Mallea blinks, eyes widening as she realizes her misunderstanding. "Forgive me for imposing. I didn't… well, you weren't clear about what you meant."
"Were you hoping to be offered a place with us?" Chiu asks.
Mallea pours herself a refill of her drink, much to Gullveig's concern.

>>725741
Still bickering gently about how you'll raise your children, you eventually ask Mallea for directions to somewhere you can take a nap. Mallea directs you to a guest room up on the second floor, and down the eastern hall, first door on the left. You eventually end up in a room with two narrow beds and a few drawers and dressers here and there. It overlooks a small garden, visible from a balcony on its northern end. It's a small labor for you and Chiu to push the beds together and seal the gap with shadow.

During your nap, you have a dream of some sort, though you don't recall much of it, as it is obscured by a thick darkness, a darkness that can be felt, and that weighs down upon you, pushing down and into your lungs. Your body starts to feel hot, incredibly so, and though you try to get away, your movements are slow and weak, and you are helpless, at the mercy of the pain and burning.

The face of the Wetnurse appears, moving in toward you out of the crushing darkness. Its horrid mouth starts to open, and a most grotesque voice shudders forth, like a deep rumbling coming down from a tunnel made of rusted metal.

"GET HER OUT."


(1/2)

>>>>Post Timeskip<<<<

>>725746
>>725745
>>725742
>>725739
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koZRzhY321A

A few hours after you have gathered together once more, the edge of the sun dips unto the horizon. The sun's shape is murky, watery, shimmering from the sticky heat that lingers in the air, pressing down upon the desert rocks. You have been called together in the foyer by Mallea. The door that led to Gullveig's shop has been closed, severing the connection. Gullveig wished you good luck before it did, using the strange phrase 'castwell.'

Mallea draws back from the window, pulling the drapes shut to close off the dying sunlight. With silent apprehension, she looks over the rest of you. "Ready?" she asks after a swallow.

Your gathered allies – Puddin, Plague, Schnitzel, Chiu, Ossie, Splendid, Zerk and Paraiba – cast glances over the rest of you. If they are nervous, they don't show it.

 No.725749

>>725747
Alder cocks his head to the side, and lets out a soft hum. He'll probably want to ask about that later. For now, though…
"Anyways, magic practice! And the newspaper. Let us get started then, yes? Maybe not here, but, you know."
>Timeskip

>>725748
"As ready as I can be, I suppose." the griffon says, occasionally clenching and unclenching his talons.

 No.725750

>>725748
Cerulean is back with the others, lantern in hand and Roger hiding in/peeking out of her mane every now and again.
"Yup! All set!"

 No.725751

>>725748

"Ready? I'm excited!" Cutlass says enthusiastically.

>>725749

"That doesn't sound very enthusiastic," Cutlass comments, sounding disappointed in Alder.

 No.725752

>>725748
Cloud goes to sleep well enough, together with Chiu. But his dream leaves him dreary, it feels different from the others he has had over the past few days. When the creature appears before him, he freezes in terror as it approaches.

He awakens in fright, drenched in a cold sweat from the experience.


Cloud nudges Chiu awake, though while he is refreshed from the nap he looks horrible.
"Chiu… I think we should get you out of here."
He says in a shaken voice, helping her out of bed and leading her downstairs towards the door after she's ready.

 No.725753

>>725752
Chiu's face falls as she gets a look at you. She immediately starts trying to fix your hair, but as you tell her she needs to get out, she frowns. "Wh-what? If… if you say so, but where am I supposed to go? I thought this was supposed to be the safest place from Obstinance!"

 No.725754

>>725744
>>725747
"My people called her Cailleach Bhéara," she chimes in. "The Queen of Winter. Mother of all other gods and goddesses."

>>725748
"If you wish," she reiterates, "I'm sure Cutlass or Bee Holder would have no qualms adding you to their crew." She doesn't push what she was trying to get at; that they ought to push back more against the Virtues. Neither of them would be very keen on the idea anyhow.

-

Thessaly spends the remaining time preparing herself for the summoning, reading over the Liber Animarum for any more useful information concerning their current predicament.
[1d10] if needed

>>725748
>>725749
>>725750
>>725751
>>725752
When the time comes, she turns to the page detailing Ragalaseab and nods to Mallea. "Ready."

She takes a piece of chalk and draws a perfect circle in the foyer, rummaging around in her coinpurse for a bit. Before she proceeds, she warns everyone in the room. "You may want to stand back. This one's a nasty one, according to the Good Book."

She places 200 bits in the center of the circle and kneels, closing her eyes.

"Ragalaseab. Seer of the Unseen. We beckon thee to aid us in our time of great need. We offer thee our gold and silver. Hearken to our call!"

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.725755

>>725753
"I-I-I don't know, maybe I'm just a bit jumpy from all the dreams, and from finding out we're parents, but I… something in my dream said to get you out."
Cloud says, stumbling over his words.
"He won't come into the town for no reason, right? Let's get you a room at the inn. If you see him just ring up my conch and I'll be over immediately."
He follows, not entirely confident himself.

 No.725756

>>725755
Chiu nods, making for the front doorway. Splendid and Ossie turn to watch her go, but don't attempt to intervene. At the door, Chiu gives you a kiss and a hug. "Be back soon, alright? I'll go right back to the room we booked last night. It's still in our name, so I should be fine. And I'll summon Granny for some insurance. Oh! And I'll call the Beestings, see if she and I can get some of the crew to keep an eye out."

>>725754
All that ends up happening, as you attempt to breach the dense cryptography and esoteric poetry and prose of the Animarum, is that you end up with a headache.

>>725751
>>725754
>>725749
>>725750
Mallea nods, and starts to lead you down the hall, leaving the foyer to the west. She leads you down a long hallway filled with paintings and an elaborate rug, which eventually turns toward the north for a shorter distance.

After passing through another doorway, she rounds the corner around a wall, and there waits a set of locked double doors. Mallea unlocks them, revealing a set of stairs leading downward, lit by dusty magitech lanterns along the side. At the bottom of the wide staircase is another doorway, beyond which is a vast and well-lit (albeit dusty) wine cellar that runs from west to east for a great distance. Cobwebs run around the walls and between the massive casks, and at the far end of the room is an assortment of vast silos and pipes and tubes and machinery for making alcohol.

Mallea leads you to a very large table in the middle of the room, which is covered with cobweb-covered books, ledgers, and a number of tools for testing alcohol quality. She reaches underneath it, and you hear a click as she presumably flicks some kind of switch or lever. You hear the grinding of plate and stone, as the wall between two casks to the south starts to slide back, and then recedes into a hidden slot, revealing a hidden passageway.

Mallea has a long pause, during which you can hear the faint grinding of her teeth. Splendid and Paraiba look to her with concern, but before they can say anything, Mallea walks into the darkened hall, her jaw set with grim determination.

At the end of the dark hall lies a smaller room, maybe fifteen feet long and wide and ten tall, devoid of anything except for a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. The floor and walls are all bare. It is here that Thessaly prepares her summoning circle. As she draws the diagram and prepares the offering, your allies spread out to the boundaries of the room, bracing themselves against the walls for whatever might happen next, steeled by silent anxiety.

(1/2)

 No.725757

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks0W9y9uC8w

As Thessaly completes the chant, a harsh, dark smoke erupts from the circle, spilling all out across the floor and out into the hallway. A stab of cold pierces Cloud's chest as the billowing darkness fills the room, but this smoke is not like that which he saw in his dream.

As the smoke starts to dwindle, a misshapen, pulsing ooze starts to coagulate in the center, bubbling up like an eruption of magma from a crack in a volcanic vein. As the grotesque mass starts to take shape, it rises, taking on an almost regal stature and atmosphere. The figure is mid-sized, somewhat taller than Splendid but not as tall as Seravelum. It is cloaked in royal blue, and wears an ornate robe underneath, patterned with the scales of regal serpents, and a plethora of rings, amulets, bracelets and the finery of the court.

The demon's body is paradoxical; although it appears to have the wild and fluffy fur of a pampered cat, the skin underneath, rippling with shifting, moving muscles that don't seem to know where they're supposed to go, appears to be covered with scales. Its sandal'd feet and bejeweled hands have webbing between the digits and long reptillian claws that could shred through your limbs with so much as a flick. The head is elongated, much like a crocodile, the mouth full of many rows of ivory teeth. Unlike much of the body, the head and neck have no fur, yet the lips and snout curve innocently like the mouth of a cat. Bulbous, predatory eyes stick out from its head, neither one looking the same direction. The eyes do not move except when the creature blinks, and both eyes appear to have multiple slit irises, one within the other. Much like Seravelum, the creature's expression is simultaneously one of deceptive, beguiling innocence and supreme haughtiness and arrogance.

After the smoke fades, the creature leans back, and a throne of gold manifests behind it, dripping into existence underneath it. There's something in its eyes as it surveys you, but you can't quite place it…

>Roll Perception


"Speak, Sons and Daughters of the Song. For what petty work have you called me into this realm?" it asks in a regal, impatient tone.

 No.725758

>>725757

Cutlass watches the demon with fascination. As he sits down and asks his question, Cutlass makes her way to Puddin, not taking her eye off the demon the whole time. As she does stare at him, her eyes glow slightly.

>Soul Sight on the demon


"Keep your eyes on Mallea," Cutlass whispers into Puddin's ear. "I don't trust this whole situation. I won't be caught off guard by a betrayal from a mediocre necromancer."

 No.725759

>>725756
Cloud keeps the hug longer than usual before they part.
"The second we're done I'll be there. And I'll call Granny."
Cloud says, taking the bell from Chiu and ringing it to call her immediately.
"Granny, I need you to walk Chu to the inn cause dangerous stuff is going on here and it's too long a story for me to tell you. Keep her safe, please."

 No.725760

>>725757
She bows before the mighty demon in obeisance, looking up at Ragalaseab with reverence.
[1d10] Perception

"Ragalaseab, King of Secrets. We have summoned thee to aid us with unraveling a thread. This place is beset by twisted magic, corrupting those around it. The source of it lies yonder."

She gestures towards the basement.

"We hold the lock, and found the key, but the pins do not align. The door remains closed. We beseech thee to help us discern the source of this abrogation, and to dispel it, so we may break the spell holding these blighted lands."

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.725761

>>725758
>>725758
>>725757

[1d10] perception

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.725762

>>725756
>>725757
>Perception [1d10]

Alder isn't too comfortable at the sight of another demon- they always seem to just be off, and moreso every time he looks at them. For now, he'll just try to stay alert and defer the talking to Thessaly.

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.725763

>>725757
>>725756
Cerulean is thankful that her head isn't throbbing with pain this time, but she still keeps a sort of glare on the demon. She didn't want to be seen as bowing down to it or the like, but at the same time, not wanting to pick a fight since Thess and the others need its help.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.725764

>>725759
Granny says nothing as she's summoned, and from the look of gravity she wears, you can tell that she picked up on the situation the moment she saw you and Chiu. Without saying anything more, she takes you by the arm, nods resolutely, and then takes Chiu, closely guarding her as the two walk out into the evening sun's dying light.

>>725758
Almost immediately after you look into Ragalaseab's soul, he blinks, and his massive, egg-shaped eye fixates upon you. It's a struggle to get a glimpse into his soul, reminiscent of all the trouble that you had to examine Magoja's soul back on Kaco Island. But as you pierce through the murkiness that shrouds his soul, you glimpse him seated in a court of regal demons, taking council on some matter or another. He is seated in a high palace, filled with hundreds of golden, jeweled thrones, some floating, some built into both grotesque and lewd statues. A strange cosmos can be seen out a nearby window, which itself is as tall as a skyscraper. An orgy of violence rages upon the palace's floor as demonic gladiators wage battle for the entertainment of the onlookers, seated in the high seats above them. But they care little for it, seeking instead to discuss matters of finance and territory, games of politics and power that the elite play.

>>725760
>>725761
>>725763
Cutlass and Thessaly cannot quite figure out what it is that lurks within Ragalaseab's haughty, arrogant gaze, and he can tell. He has a knife of a grin, the kind of grin held by those amused with something small and helpless before them.

But suddenly, it clicks for the perceptive Alder and Cerulean. Ragalaseab… he recognizes all of you… and he doesn't seem surprised by Thessaly's request. And for some reason, this amuses the Demon far more than he's letting on now.

"A trifling request in most cases, but you have called me into a house that rests upon knots and knots of spoiled magic… a home now of oddities, presided over by a Demon that this one–" he points at Mallea with a diamond-studded claw "–thought to summon and then banish without appeasing her. Produce your Karmic Seed, Sin-Eater," he says to Thessaly. "And just by the sight of it will you see why I am so hesitate to work my Magick here."

Mallea, almost imperceptibly, starts to shiver. "…So it seems our quest is known in the Netherworld… or at least by you, O Watcher of the Veil, O Seer of the Hidden, O Diviner-King."

Ragalaseab simply smiles.

 No.725765

>>725762
see the response beginning "Cutlass and Thessaly…" in >>725764

 No.725766

>>725764
She feels confused, but keeps a poker face and a respectful tone when addressing the demon. She does as he requests, pulling out the Karmic Seed without a word.

 No.725767

>>725764
Cloud nods as Granny takes care of the situation wordlessly, and then waves the two farewell as they depart.

Turning back to the mansion, Cloud takes out his yearning knife. While Chiu is safe now, he's still shaken. Why would he have a dream like that, a warning that realistic feeling. He's not going to let his guard down.
("…Now to find where the others went.")
Cloud mutters to himself as he goes to seek the rest of the group.
>Regroup (Roll for fun) [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.725768

>>725764
"You can stop kissing up to him," Cerulean says outloud on purpose to Mallea, "he knows what's going on, and knows us somehow. Even though I've never seen such a fancy…thing in all my life under the sea." Cerulean's body tenses as she feels very uncomfortable about all this, more so with her mind clear and blood-free.

 No.725769

>>725764

Cutlass eyes Ragalaseab for a while, thinking everything over. After a moment, she speaks.

"I am curious," she says to the unnerving demon. "I know the answers the superstitious and potentially uninformed ponies and other mortals would give. But, I think the answer would be far more significant and enlightening coming straight from the demon's mouth. Why do you come when you're summoned? You clearly have better things to do. And, for that matter, why do you help with anything they ask you to do at all?"

 No.725770

>>725764
>>725765
Alder frowns a little bit- he doesn't like the notion that it already knows them, but there's little to do about it for now. He'll make sure to bring this up once they have the chance.

 No.725771

>>725767
Drawn by the echoes of voices off the cold, lifeless stones leading into the basement, you eventually find your way down the stairs to the wine cellar, and then into the hidden chamber, wreathed in darkness. You stand at a distance behind Thessaly and Mallea, who are posed directly before the demon.

>>725766
>>725768
>>725769
>>725770
Ragalaseab lounges to the side, crossing his legs and leaning upon his fist as he continues to smile at your group. "Why don't I answer the both of you at the same time," he says, flicking a claw at Cutlass and Cerulean. "Of course, I cannot speak for all of demonkind. But as for Me, I come because I see Myself there. Past and Future! What silly concepts your kind forges to protect your fragile perceptions of being. I am here, and I am there, and I am at all places my path leads. I am at the moment of my death and at the moment of my birth. And I do what is asked of me because I am there, and I am fulfilling or denying that request. I am because I am!" he declares with a booming laugh.

"Blasphemy…" Splendid sputters out, but then throws her talons over her mouth, turning white with fear. Ragalaseab simply ignores her, his attention turning to Thessaly. As she reaches for her bag, she can feel a deep vibrato filling the space around her bag. Her bag appears to be covered with a shimmering, almost like a heat haze rising off of a scorched desert landscape. The Karmic Seed is the source of the shimmering. It's pulsing and reacting far stronger than ever before… and it's getting stronger by the minute.

"You have called Me into a domain that is not mine, nor is it yours. This is the house of Auntzi now. Hers is the hand that wounds. Hers is the hand that heals. Hers are the arms that deliver. Hers are the arms that bury. I shall intervene, but for a price."
"What… what do you want?" Mallea asks, now sweating, green with nausea.

Ragalaseab stares off into the distance for a time, utterly silent.

"Speak, Demon. Name your terms…" Mallea sputters.

"After this is done, many paths that lead from here will cross with those of the Crimson King, tangling into a knot, as all paths lead to the Heart of Gold. One of those paths is that of the Yellow Jester. I want her greatest treasure. I will lend you My Eye, and it will reveal her treasure to you. Take it and summon Me again, and our Contract shall be paid."

 No.725772

>>725771
Cloud steps into the room, looking up at the odd demon, clutching his dagger tightly. He remains silent as the demon speaks to all of them, but he does end up giving a displeased grumble as it asks Mallea to summon him again.

 No.725773

>>725771
Cerulean has a look on her face that shows the gears grinding in her head as she tries to wrap her head around this meta-physical mumbo jumbo. As usual, its getting to be a bit beyond her grasp.
"Can't we do this without owing more to these guys? At this rate, I feel like we might lose the ship because of so much debt and junk."

 No.725774

>>725771
Alder huffs a little at the mention of another deal- this is starting to get ridiculous.

>>725773
"Agreed. I am not fond of who we are dealing with, either…"

 No.725775

>>725771

Cutlass struggles to grasp the concept of knowing your whole life as its happening. Not even really "as it's happening". That would imply that sequence still exists, which he CLAIMS it does not. But then, that doesn't mesh with what she saw in his soul. His desires involve lording over others and making plans. What satisfaction would you gain from beating others in a game of politics if you already know the outcome?

Then, all attempts at understanding this line of thinking stop as he brings up a price. "Ah," Cutlass says, practically disappointed. "So, the real answer is because you want to find a way to benefit from it. Fair enough, I suppose mortals are probably easier game than demons."

With that thought, Cutlass turns her attention to Mallea. Her eyes glow slightly again.

>Soul Sight on Mallea

 No.725776

>>725773
>>725774

"Welcome to the world of being a pirate. It's constant deals, backstabbing, and trickery."

 No.725777

>>725771
She is taken aback at the Seed's reaction. She's never seen it react like this before. She thinks twice about putting it away, setting it gently on the floor for now, letting it stew.

At Ragalaseab's demands, she doesn't immediately agree, though his desires seem to align with the party. He looks around to gauge the others' reactions, seeing them displeased with having to strike another bargain. She's not too happy about it either, but of the three she's bargained with so far, this demand seems the least obtrusive, at least so far. "What is this treasure?" she asks simply.

 No.725778

>>725776
"Yeah, but this thing isn't a pirate. Its some kind of fancy jelly thing wearing the kind of stuff we'd take without permission."

 No.725779

>>725778

"And, that's only a reason to be more confident about the deal."

 No.725780

>>725777
>>725775
>>725774
>>725772
>>725773
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgnZ9w5ghwE

"Upset about debt? Preposterous. That is the nature of the very 'modern' world that you have built for yourselves, mortals, Sons and Daughters of the Song. You sell yourselves at every turn, working at this task or that, hoping to be drip-fed the gold that others obtained through conquest and through cleverness and through crime, all so you can purchase this thing or that, which you will forget in time. You will not even discard it once you have forgotten about it! Hardly any of your kind truly dispose of anything. You horde and you horde, taking on debt to build bigger shelters to hold more and more of the things you sold yourselves in order to purchase, and others sold themselves in order to make. Debt and enslavement! The lifeblood of modernity! The products of enlightenment! The fruits of science!"

After his ramble, he turns again to Thessaly. "Her humanity. She thought she discarded it when she tasted the nectar of the Netherworld, and became a demon. But alas, she did not discard it; she could not, just as any other mortal cannot bear to part with any other meaningless thing they have purchased. If you have My Eye, you will see how to wrest it from her."

Mallea, her anxiety boiling into a fever pitch, turns to you, eyes shimmering with desperation. "If you accept this… I will join you, and I shall do everything I can to pay the debt you take on for my sake. I swear it upon every name of my ancestors… please."

>>725775
In your vision of her desires, you see Mallea walking along a dirt road in a countryside, blooming at the height of spring. But then, the road and the scenery change every few seconds. It is a cobbled road in a sleepy village. It becomes a bridge over a misty valley. It turns into the deck of a ship, the crystal steps of an underwater palace. Whatever the case, Mallea in the vision always returns to a small house of some sort. Even the house changes shape, but inside, faceless silhouettes of ponies stand and greet her, meeting her with hugs and kisses and welcoming conversation, in each and every permutation of her vision.

She wants a home.

 No.725781

>>725780
She gives Mallea a sidelong glance, thinking for a good long while before turning back to Ragalaseab. "Then it will be done," she says simply. "We shall accept this burden, O Keeper of the Occult." She kneels and looks up to him, outstretching her hoof to receive his Eye.

 No.725782

>>725780

Cutlass frowns as Mallea offers to come with them to help pay off the debt. "I see," Cutlass says to Mallea. "Well, I wasn't interested in any of this until now."

"You have the heart of a pirate after all," Cutlass says pointing to Mallea with a smile. "A wanderer who is looking for a place to stay. As a pirate, that place comes with you. If you're looking to come with us, then I'd be happy to have you on my crew."

Cutlass intentionally keeps it vague, trying not to be too obvious with how much she knows about Mallea.

>Whisper in your Ear to convince Mallea to join the Secret Assassins [1d10]


Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.725783

>>725780
>>725781
Cloud doesn't like the rant the demon goes on, sounding too much like crazy ponies he's seen in the city. And it trying ot justify these bargains only makes it less trustworthy. Cloud steps over to Mallea and Thessaly.
"I don't know how deep the stuff in this mansion go, but this knife can cut apart magic. It may not be much, but to me it's sounding better than dealing with more demons."

 No.725784

>>725783
She looks over to Cloud. "Be that as it may, demons are difficult to banish without a bargain being struck. And there is already one demon present here. I would rather avoid having to deal with two angry demons, for now."

 No.725785

>>725779
"I dunno…he says a lot of fancy things that makes my head hurt. Usually when someone does that, they're usually trying to pull a fast one so I'm too confused to notice them swimming away."

>>725780
>>725781
"Uhh…riiight," Cerulean remarks with disbelief after his ramble.
"Or I could just strong arm a bigger grotto and hunting grounds like I always have without having to repay anything."

She turns to Thessaly and Mallea.
"Look, this has bad junk written all over it. I'm not really for this, especially since you already owe a different demon something other than me biting his ass." She holds up the lantern to them.
"Whatever he plans on doing I'm sure can be just as easily burned and eaten up by my little fox buddy in here."

 No.725786

>>725784
"Oh, right… Can you strike a different bargain to just get rid of this guy?"

 No.725787

>>725780
>>725784
"I… I do not feel comfortable about this. I do not want to take the bargain, personally. As much as I hate to bargain with souls, I… I would be willing to take the deal. May it be the last demon we meet."

 No.725788

>>725782
Mallea gawks at you, allowing you to see all the fear and tension that's been building up in her body and mind and soul. It only takes you a second to realize that this has been brewing within you for a long time – probably since Palafox died… no, likely even longer than that, going back perhaps even before she stepped into his life and destroyed what was left of his dying marriage. "… Now… not now…" she heaves, practically falling apart.

>>725785
Ragalaseab nods, gesturing to you. "I like the way you think. I'd compliment you for being a rarity among your kind, but I can tell you have the presence of a demon already staining your soul. Surely whatever greatness you aspire to comes from that!"

>>725781
>>725782
>>725783
>>725785
Ragalaseab and Mallea both ignore Cloud's objections, focusing intently upon one another. Ragalaseab raises his claw to his right eye, obscuring it from view. His clawed hand makes many flourishes, tracing esoteric symbols and shapes all while keeping the eye hidden. Then, with a wave, he brings his hand down before Mallea, at it holds the Eye. In his right socket, there is still an eyeball, but it is completely white, all scelera, no iris or pupil within. Your allies recoil, but otherwise hold in their reaction. By now, they want nothing to do with Ragalaseab, whatever it is that he's offering.

As Ragalaseab holds out the Eye, however, the whole room shudders. It is as if the entire scene, just for a moment, became… squishy… soft… fleshy… wet… the shudder is slow, a second or two in length, and moves both vertically and horizontally, as everything is disoriented and then moved back into place. The air, previously cold and smoky, now starts to dampen, growing heavier and slower, like an invisible mist.

"How many times are we going to have to go through this?" asks a female voice, floating and lilting and elegant in its pure sound, but as it moves through the thickening, hot air of the basement, grows sticky and nauseating.

Mallea's horror deepens as she freezes, but Ragalaseab looks as though he were expecting this. He looks up. "As many times as it will take."

 No.725789

>>725788
"Not really. I was asserting dominance even before that dumb genie did this to me. And even then, it hasn't done anything except make it easier for you guys to see my soul or something. "

>>725788
Cerulean braces herself from all the shaking.
"Not saying I don't mind the more wet air, but…can someone tell me what the shell is happening now?"

 No.725790

>>725788

"And, what, may I ask, are we witnessing now?" Cutlass asks as she looks around for the source of the voice. Several daggers come out of her dress and float around her, ready for battle.

 No.725791

>>725788
Thessaly motions to take the Eye, now seemingly blind to her surroundings, reaching out as if entranced to Ragalaseab's claw. The room shifting, followed by the sudden foreign voice, makes her snap out of it. She jerks away, looking around suddenly for the source of the voice.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.725792

>>725788
"I-I would not suppose this is this… other demon, you spoke of? W-What is going on, exactly?"

 No.725793

>>725788
Cloud takes a few steps back from the two witches as they go through wit the deal, believing it to be a bad idea to be close to a demon's deal.

When the room for a split moment feels wet and fleshy, Cloud backs even more, sickened by the feeling on his hooves. His ears perk up at the voice filling the room, looking around for where it came from.
"Is that the other demon?"
He asks, starting to breath a little heavier as the air thickens like a humid day.

 No.725794

>>725793
>>725792
>>725789
>>725790
>>725791
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt5R8ElvWPI

The voice is without a source, seeming to come at once from the very walls and floors and ceiling themselves. Mallea looks to Ragalaseab with expectation and confusion, something about his last words seeming to give her especial pause. Yet Ragalaseab simply sits there, hands folded together now contentedly.

"You agreed to the terms, Demon!" Mallea barks. "Reveal the nexus of magic! Reveal the source of the curse! Show us where we must go to break it! Don't just sit there!"

Ragalaseab simply expands his hands out to the sides with a smile. "Look behind you."

Mallea's face drops.

"I said… look behind you," Ragalaseab repeats, pointing back down the dark tunnel.

And just as he commands, Mallea and the rest of your allies turn, facing down the lightless tunnel which led you from the wine cellar into this room.

Black.

A sheer darkness is all that lies past the dim light of the bulb in the hidden room. But that light, now fading, illuminates the fact that the tunnel is compressing, constricting. It bends at the edges, becoming rounded. Ridges have formed in the walls, ceiling and floors, creating grooves that are now slick with an unknown slime. Some invisible force spreads out from the tunnel, and that slickness starts to manifest upon the walls and floors and ceiling of the hidden room.

Ragalaseab leans back and laughs. The room and tunnel shudders again. And from down that blackened tunnel flows a darkness. A darkness that can be felt.

Like the gushing of a tidal wave, packed into the tightness of the tunnel, the darkness floods the room, overpowering all of your senses in a sheer, overpowering, crushing weight.

 No.725795

>>725794

Unable to fight literal darkness, Cutlass goes over what things she CAN do.

With few other options, an odd choice comes to mind.

>Soul Sight on the darkness!

 No.725796

>>725794
While not quite knowing entirely what is happening, Cerulean just growls in mild annoyance.
"Lemme guess, in the tunnel, right?" She holds up the lantern and eyes the tunnel the darkness flows from.
"Alright little guy, time to eat up," she says as she tries to have the lantern eat the darkness and possibly illuminate it a bit, all while Cerulean tries to muscle past the crushing feeling and power into the tunnel, keeping her wits about her as best she can in the dark.

>Lantern to eat darkness and be a light

>Electroception while Tough-ing it into the tunnel

 No.725797

>>725794
Cloud turns as the others do, looking back at where the demon points the source of the magic is. When he sees the dark tunnel, his body tenses. It's the dream he had, only now he can see the tunnel closest too him. As it shifts and morphs, moving as if alive and dripping, he feels scared. His first immediate thought, is that he should've went with Chiu to keep her safe. His hoof shakes from how tightly he holds his dagger, unsure if it can work against… whatever this is. When the room they're in starts to morph as well, Cloud steps away from he tunnel, feeling panic come over him.
When the darkness floods over them without warning, Cloud shuts his eyes in fright, and instinctively gives out one, single bat squeak.
>Echolocation [Passive]

 No.725798

>>725795
It is almost impossible to tell just WHAT it is you see, assuming you are able to see anything at all… but something starts to happen. An animal terror jabs through your body, shooting out from the nape of your neck, as your mind starts to bend, twisted by your Aura Ability in its attempts to make sense of the vision…

It is… the incarnation of spite. The desire to take what is not yours, something at the peak of its beauty and potential, and destroy it… for no reason other than to deny it. To illustrate this, you see a small home. Populated by nothing other than a faceless, nobody family. An intruder stands before it. No bag for stealing goods or money. No rope for tying up victims, no lockpicks, no screwdrivers or tools. Armed with nothing but a knife.

What are you looking at, mortal?


>>725796
>>725797
The force of the darkness sweeps the room's occupants off their hooves, and it is so much heavier and denser than water, causing almost everyone to sink into it as it washes over them. Screams and gasps of horror and disgust ring out as your allies claw at the walls and the wooden beams supporting the roof, trying and failing to keep the weighted darkness from crushing them alive. Cerulean, because of her massive strength, is able to persevere for a time, and though the darkness is dense, the light of the lantern-demon burns through some of it. At the same time, Cloud, though his eyes are shut, feels the vibrations of his squeak bounce back unto him. In this way, both Cloud and Cerulean are able to sense a single, feminine figure at the end of the hall, lingering in the darkness, washing over her and everyone else…

"It's her," Mallea gasps in despair.

>>>><<<<


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koZRzhY321A

>>725796
You stand in the mansion's kitchen, which is a long room with counters on either side to the north and south, with plenty of sinks and cutting boards and racks of tools, knives and hooks of various sizes for preparing dishes. An island is built in the middle of the room, where a number of gas stoves have been built into the marble. Pots and pans hang off a rack above the stoves.

>>725797
You lay in the beds in which you woke up just a moment ago, but Chiu is no longer beside you, although the beds are still pushed together.

>>725795
You sit in that small study, the one lined with bookshelves that are in turn filled with many neat rows of books. Though, the books look like they haven't been touched in a while; they're quite dusty. The window to the north has had drapes drawn over it, obscuring the garden lying outside.

>Paused

 No.725981

>>725749
"Hrm… where exactly whould we go to practice this? Is there somewhere you would prefer to, Miss Splendid?"

 No.725983

>>725981
"Given all the hospitality and what's waiting us after nightfall, somewhere we can't mess things up too badly," Splendid says with a self-conscious half-laugh, half-squawk. She then looks to Mallea and Gullveig.
Mallea rubs her temple, giving it some thought. "…The rec room, now that I think about it. Plenty of space. Not a lot of fragile vases or flowerpots. Or glass. Come along."
Mallea gets up, and Gullveig follows, directing the Knight of Crowsbane, her scarecrow assistant, to mind the shop while she's out. You're led up the stairs to the second floor, and at the top of the stairwell upon the left-hand side is a door leading northward.

This door leads to the rec room, which, even for Mallea's dusty mansion, appears to have fallen into severe disuse. The signature feature of the room is the pool table in the center, a putting green off to the side, a dartboard in the back, and a well-stocked bar counter complete with several rows of drinks and glasses. There's also an antique radio upon the counter, and a jukebox off to the side.

>roll perception

 No.725984

>>725983
Alder giggles a little at the mention of fragile objects, before saying "I am very careful! But, better safe than sorry."

>Perception [1d10]

"Ah! Seems a little dusty, but good otherwise. Perhaps if we push the table aside, it should be perfect." he chirps, looking around the room.

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.725986

>>725984
It's not just that the room has fallen into disuse, you realize. It's clear that nobody has set hoof in here for weeks, or perhaps months. Dust sits upon everything. The air is stale. Muffled, slow tunes whisper from the radio at a hushed volume.

"Righto, let me just–" Splendid begins, moving toward the table's side, but–
"DON'T push the table," Mallea barks. Splendid freezes, a bit worried. Mallea is silent as she uses her magic to gingerly lift the table, taking a noticeably long time to move it off to the side and clear a space for you two. Even after it's done, Splendid looks at Mallea, as if awaiting permission.
"The carpets tear easily," Mallea huffily explains after a moment. "Carry on."
"Right…" Splendid murmurs. "So… uh, the colors are nice and all, but I reckon I need a bit more than flash and pizzazz to really 'get' magic, right?" she asks you.

 No.725989

>>725986
"I would imagine so, yes. Now… g-granted, I have not practiced magic more than my simple potion mixing, but I believe I could help with the proper mindset- if you would allow me to explain."

 No.725990

>>725989
Shoo! My bird

 No.725991

>>725989
Splendid reaches for a chair, then pauses and looks at Mallea again, but Mallea has (unenthusiastically) already begun setting up chairs for the four of you in a semicircle in the cleared space where the pool table once sat.

The three ladies take their seats as you start to offer your help with mindset. Gullveig seems pleasantly surprised and interested. "Hoo-hoo. Here I thought I was going to have to lead a lecture on theory and practice, but I'd much rather hear your side of things fist. Your name again was…?"

 No.725993

>>725991
"Alder, of Tribe Frostclaw. I do not have any real grasp of magic, but I figured that you might need to adopt a mindset similar to… well, thievery. Which, I have a lot of experience with."

He settles in to his chair, and begins with "I was going to try and help her keep a calm, focused mindset- I noticed when she tried too hard, it did not seem to work well. It sort of reminded me of something like, well, picking a lock; when you try to force it too hard, it makes things worse. So, you'd need to be a little more careful, and more thoughtful about it… right?"

 No.725995

>>725993
Gullveig shakes her head "Well, you're only wrong on one thing. You need to dispense with that first notion of yours – that you don't have any grasp of magic. The mindset of the magic-used, be they magicians, illusionsists, necromancers, shamans, whatever… is not limited to those who can channel Aether through their bodies and fetishes and foci. It is the mindset of curiosity, of persistence, of having a hard head and a willingness to get your hands dirty and fingers burned if it means getting it done right. Simply by taking your thief's mindset and looking at it in a different way, like turning a kaleidoscope, you have demonstrated that grasp."

"Besides, even if you REALLY didn't have any aptitude for magic, you wouldn't be far off," Mallea says. "Thieves, locksmiths, pickpockets, even burglars – you're all a subject of interest behind the Veil."

"Make a list of all those terms and we'll get back to them later," Splendid says. You can practically see smoke coming out of her ears. "Right now, I'm at the basics of the basics."

She straightens herself up and then leans back against the chair. "Calm and focus… how do I… how do I *do* that?"

 No.725998

>>725995
"Ah! I, uhm… I see. I suppose it is nice to see that I am on the right track, then!" he chirps, reassured by Gullevig agreeing.

"And, uhm, what do you mean by that, Miss Mallea? What is so interesting about burglary and thieving?" he asks, cocking his head to the side.


>>725995
"How can you do it? Well… I noticed that, when you were not forcing it, it almost seemed to come naturally. You did it while you were not looking, actually. Maybe think about what you were thinking of during those moments?"

 No.725999

>>725998
"As I said earlier, the paradigm of night and day is more than just a feature of the natural world, or a symbol of duality or life and death or any of that psychobabble. The Day is the Lord of the mundane, the scientific, the rational, the mechanical. The Night is the Beldam of the mythical, the fey, the rumored, the mystical. The two are separated, however thinly and ambiguously, by the Veil.

"All manner of thieves, even the mortal races who dwell on this side of the Veil, become subjects of the Night's kingdom if they keep up their pilfering for long enough. You hide in shadow, move under cover of dark, and sneak with valuables both physical and intangible while constables and citizenry sleep away, unaware. Keep up your thieving, and you just might end up with some oddities taking an interest in you."

"Oh, oddities!" Splendid exclaims. "Why, we learned…"

She gulps, evidently realizing that to continue this explanation would be to admit to meeting you-know-who. "…learned about that in school, we did."

Gullveig and Mallea squint, puzzled by her pause, but don't seem to press it."

>>725998
Splendid, sweating under their suspicion, seems stumped by such a simple subject, searching for a solution. "…Strewth, I don't think I was thinking about much of anything when I did it. What's that mean?"
"That magic might come more easily to you when you are unburdened, and at ease. Has anyone ever told you that you overthink things?" Mallea asks.
"…More that they're surprised that I *can* think about anything at all with all the rocks in me head," Splendid answers.
Gullveig and Mallea both softly gasp.
"…What?" Splendid asks.

 No.726000

>>725999
"Hrm… I see. I suppose I never knew about such things. That is interesting to keep in mind… though, I suppose I did not thieve enough." he says, making note of it for later.

>>725999
"Rocks in your head? What is wrong, Miss Splendid? Is being at ease something difficult for you? Is there… something we can do to help?"

 No.726001

>>726000
Confounded by your lack of knowledge about whatever it is Splendid's referring to, Gullveig leans in. "Maybe it's just her different manner of speaking, but it sounds like this girl hasn't had a good upbringing, if she can say something like that so nonchalantly, and without hint of deliberate irony or humor."

"Well, what does it mean to relax?" Splendid asks.

"You… is that a REAL question?" Mallea scoffs.

Splendid winces. "Yes, yes! I'm not lying, ma'am! But if I have time to sit around and do nothing, then I have time to clean, and to tiday, and to pray, too."

"'Ma'am.' Stop that. Makes me feel old," Mallea scolds. "Oh, dear… where to even start? Alder… what does your kind 'do' for fun and relaxation?"

 No.726002

>>726001
"Ah! Right, her upbringing was not great. Well, as for what my kind do…" he thinks things over, a little. "My kind? I do not know what other griffons do… my own people enjoy flight a lot, commonly. To free your wings is to free your mind. I also, uhm… I personally enjoy song and dance. Other such things."

 No.726003

>>726002
"Yeah, that's true, 'e's quite good at that, too," Splendid says. "When we met was shortly after his little musical number at that carnival last week. If that's what it means, then… do you think we could try it with that?"
"If you start singing and dancing, you'd better not scuff the floor or you're losing a talon," Mallea growls. "'To cut a rug' is just an expression."
"Oh come now," Gullveig protests. "If it helps Splendid along with her magic, how can you in good conscience deny her?"
"Because it's my damn house!" Mallea scolds.
"A-ah… surely just a song couldn't cause too much damage, could it?" Splendid asks. She gestures to the radio. "May we?"
Mallea looks even more displeased, somehow. "…It's a very old model. Don't break it."
"I won't, I won't!" she insists, trotting over to the radio. "Alder, why don't you find a good station, a song you like?"

 No.726004

>>726003
"H-Hmm? Oh, thank you." the griffon says, squirming a little and smiling from the compliment. He mulls it over a little, and begins to click through the radio channels. "I… uhm, I would be fine with any song, I suppose. I do not sing as often though, so forgive the stage fright."

 No.726005

>>726004
>>726003
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltFnHpOlP-s

Alder hums a little, and flicks his fluffy ears when he finally finds a song that sounds good! It takes him a few moments, but he blinks in realization. "Oh! This one might actually be rather topical! E-Excuse me if I sing rather poorly- it is not something I am used to doing in front of others, ehehe…"

>[1d10+1] Singing roll

"When skies are cloudy and gray
They're only gray for a day
So wrap your troubles in dreams
And dream your troubles away!"


Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6

 No.726006

>>726005
The ladies' eyes are on you as you sing, but eventually, Mallea and Gullveig start to glance at Splendid. At first, Splendid doesn't seem into the song, as if… initially resistant. Perhaps something in the lyrics doesn't quite sit right with her. But even as she puts on a stoic, calm demeanor, she can't stop her paws from tapping to the rhythm, nor her forefinger from tapping along against her thigh. And as she does, you start to see ribbons of color manifesting around her fingers, but far more orderly this time. Indeed, they seem to lack a lot of colors, being mostly black and white – and it's at this point you realize that the cantrips brought on the wizard's wine have now taken the form of musical bars and notes. She hasn't noticed yet.

 No.726007

>>726006
"Just take your time, Miss Splendid- goodness knows how much trouble I have singing. But… just try humming, or tapping, or… well, whatever feels right!"

 No.726012

>>726007
Splendid still tries to keep up her resistance at first, but the foundation gradually slips, and soon only an empty facade remains, as she bobs her head and clicks her beak along with the rhythm, despite herself. Her eye catches Gullveig, who is watching with no small amount of interest the rows upon rows of musical bars that emanate from her fingers, weaving a tapestry of music into the air. Splendid silently gasps, and the bars start to warble and fade, which in turn causes her to panic, which of course only accelerates the dissipation in a vicious cycle – but then, Splendid catches herself with a sharp breath.

After a moment of calm, Splendid shuts her eyes, allowing her fingers and paws to move as they will under the unconscious sway of the of the warbling tune. This surrender to the music, the sublimation of sense and desire into something greater than herself, allows the bars to pour forth from her talons. With your knowledge of musical notation, it is easy to recognize that her display reproduces the very sheet music of the tune on the radio.

"Whistle and dream your cares…
Away…"


And with the last notes of the song fading into radio static, so too do Splendid's musical ribbons. Gullveig hoots her approval, and even Mallea, grumpy though she was earlier, can't help but nod approvingly. Splendid, a little drunk, hiccups and smiles. "H-how was that, then?"

Gullveig opens her mouth on habit to respond, but then catches herself, deferring to you. "What say you, maestro?"

 No.726016

>>726012
Alder continues to sing along- it'll be more reassuring to her if he does, anyways! Though, his focus is more on Splendid's magic.

He falters a little himself when he magic begins to slip away, and goes to try and say something- but, there's no need! She gets herself focused again and the magic returns! Once the song comes to a close, the griffon lets out a happy little chirp and pats her shoulder a few times. After the last one, his hand kind of stays there, and gently rubs at her shoulder. To reassure her, of course! "You did very good! I think we found the state that works best for you, then… though, I am quite surprised! The musical notes you created matched up to the song perfectly! I-I suppose I made the correct suggestion."

Alder blinks a couple of times as Gullveig's compliment finally registers, and he swishes his tail around before chirping out "G-Goodness, I would not go quite so far!"

 No.726019

>>726016
"They did!?" Splendid gasps. "Shite, of course I had to close me eyes. Wish I coulda seen it."

She looks down at your hand, and though her gaze is a little lingering, she makes no attempt to dissuade you. "So, what's all this mean? I'm not gonna have to get legless and listen to some old tunes to use magic, am I? Not that I'm opposed to the idea! Heheheh."

"No, and yes," Gullveig says, causing Splendid to hop a little in surprise. "Your magic came to you not when you tried to force it, nor when you tried to tame it with violence, nor even when you simply tried conscious control. It came about in your unconscious throes, your unthinking embrace of the music. If you don't have the classic makings of a fledgling Hummingheart, then I don't know who does."

"Miss Gullveig, please, I'm afraid all these new terms are…" Splendid begins.

"The Humminghearts are a paradigm of the magic-used," Mallea says. "They are those who channel magic most effectively precisely when they are caught in the throes of emotion, when they are 'in the moment,' so to speak. To them, being visited by magic, having magic channeled through them, is only possible if they are swept up by some passion, be that intense love, or ecstatic laughter, or sheer fun. They are named after the Hummingheart, a species of bird native to the countries of the Vola."

 No.726022

>>726019
Alder smiles a little, continuing to stroke the griffon's shoulder reassuringly, and chirps out "See? It seems as if everyone has their own way of doing it! I suppose I am glad I did not try to push my mindset on to you- your own methods seem to work far better, and I think it came out wonderfully. I know some of the technical words may be hard, so… being open and emotional is good! So, just try and open up a little more. I can help with that, if you would allow me."

 No.726027

>>726022
https://youtu.be/W7fl4mbhDS4

Splendid takes a long while to process this information and all its implications. You don't have to be privy to her inner monologue, or to any of the fading fragments of thoughts caught up in the sky of her mind. It is plain in her eyes that something about the thought of the Humminghearts' ways haunts her; perhaps their openness, their eccentricity, their magic being intertwined with an act of surrendering oneself into such non-rational emotion, and therefore, earnest, sincere vulnerability.

The light in her eyes is that of terror.

And yet there you are, by her side. She looks at you in silence, then nods, gravely, serenely. "I'd like nothing better."

Mallea and Gullveig share a look.

 No.726031

>>726027
Alder gives the griffoness a very warm, gentle look, and nods a little in response. "I-I can understand how scary it is to just… open up like that. So, we can sort of… w-well, take steps to do it together."

He lets out a nervous giggle, before rubbing his own neck and saying "Ah- I suppose I am repeating myself a little, apologies. W-What I mean to say, is… I think you are wonderful, and I would like to help you open up more."

 No.726033

>>726031
Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.726037

>>726031
Out of the corner of your eye, you see Gullveig and Mallea slip out of their chairs and make for the door. Mallea shows severe hesitation about leaving what was possibly Palafox's favorite room unattended, but she eventually leaves too.

Splendid drums her fingers together as you make your offers, eyes, darting about across the tips. The cantrips have faded, though it's likely due to her high alcohol tolerance, since her face shows no shortage of flustered, restrained glee. "Y-you too… er, what I mean to say is that… um… uh… just as you'd support me, then I want to do the same for you! If you'd have my help, that is."

Beneath her, her tail shakes up a storm.

 No.726040

>>726037
"I, uhm… y-yes! I mean, uh, yes. I very much like the sound of that." the griffon says, his hand moving to cover his own face. His plumage is very light, so it's easy for the fluster to show.

He nods a bit to Gullveig and Mallea as they leave, before looking back up to Splendid. "S-So! Uhm, how do you feel?"

 No.726043

>>726040
"Accomplished, more than anything else!" Splendid says, her own embarrassment and flustered heart-fluttering giving way to simple, genuine enthusiasm. "Gratitude to you too, of course. But I'm far closer to reaching magic than I was before, even if all they've trusted me with up til now is basically just a magic playtime. The final goal's still out of my reach, but it's within sight now. That's so much more than what others who hunt for a certain treasure can get to say, right?"

 No.726048

>>726043
"Well, it sounds like they may be willing to help you with that last hurdle of actually getting the magic! So, maybe it is sooner! " he chirps, poking her side a little bit. "You are right, though! There's more than what they get to say."

He swishes his tail a little bit- gently coiling it around hers for a short time- before asking "So! Uhm, what would you like to do now?"

 No.726055

>>726048
The intermingling of your tails is, if nothing else, an intriguing phenomenon. Though Splendid's tail is as strong as the rest of her, when it is within your grasp it may as well be a piece of string for cat's cradle, or perhaps "Griffon's Grotto," as you might be more familiar with. It's effortless for you to play with, in other words.

Turning red from the pokes and tail-play, she drums her fingers together. "A few things… but you wanted that newspaper read, r-right? Or… was there something else?"

 No.726061

>>726055
Alder giggles a little bit, twisting her tail about for a few moments longer before finally speaking back up with "Hmm? O-Oh! Yes, we can do that. We could find somewhere nice and cozy up a little, maybe?" he suggests. He's not tugging on her tail particularly hard, so she could pull free if she wanted.

 No.726065

>>726061
"Er–"

Just as you ask that, a breath catches in her throat. You can feel the reluctance in the lingering embrace of her tail as she pulls herself away from you, even moving over to one of the vacated chairs. "…Why don't we read in the foyer? Plenty of light there. Lots of windows, y-yknow."

 No.726068

>>726061
Alder cocks his head to the side, and asks "Oh? Is something wrong, Miss Splendid? You seem a tad… hesitant. If something is the matter, feel free to tell me. If you would prefer, though… the foyer would be fine."

 No.726071

>>726068
"Isn't it too early for… for…"

Even the very concept seems impossible for her to conceptualize, let along articulate. "For that kind of thing?" she finally asks. "In the Virtues' Institute, we were taught… that things like that were to come much later, if they were to come at all."

 No.726076

>>726071
"Hmm? I, uhm… I think we might be talking about different things." he says, thinking it over. "I really did just mean being close for a little while. Going that far would, ehm… I would not suggest something like that just yet. Only when we are comfortable, yes?"

 No.726078

>>726076
Splendid pauses, then sinks her face into her palm. "…Oh. Paint me a real clown then. Thought you were getting at the 'root' of things!"

She forces a laugh to dispel the palpably tense and awkward atmosphere. "So… well, assuming Chiu's not still sleeping down there, we ought to be able to secure us a chair or two, yeah? We could do that."

 No.726085

>>726078
Alder giggles a little bit, before giving her another soft shoulder rub "Relax a little! It is fine. And, yes, that sounds like a good idea! I am curious to see what the paper has to say."

 No.726086

>>726085
Grinning through the pain of 1,000 awkward teenage years, Splendid shoulder-checks you as you rub it. The force is enough to knock you a few paces to the side, but fortunately no furniture nor walls are in the way. "Righto. You'll be reading at a university level by the time I'm done, yeah?"

Together, you head downstairs into the foyer, where you spend the rest of your free time with Splendid and the rather shocking contents of the newspaper, until Mallea gathers everyone together in preparation for the night's events…

>Paused

 No.726096

>>725794
>Forgot to post this last night, sorry!

Alder turns back to the tunnel worriedly, trying to get a better look at what exactly is there… sees nothing! Though, the wrong kind of nothing. He lets out a nervous chirp, before looking for something to get behind and brace against!
[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.726099

>>725794
She braces herself as the darkness rushes towards her. She meets it head on, seizing the Liber Animarum and holding it open in front of her almost like a makeshift shield against the dark. As it pours over her like a wave, she does her best to stand her ground, clinging to the cursed tome like a lifeline.
[1d10] Resist the Dark

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.726100

>>726099
Thessaly also spends much of her time before sundown on the front porch of the manor, poring over the Liber Animarum almost obsessively in search of knowledge to aid them in the ordeal to come.
[1d10] Vibe Check

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.726101

>>726100
During the course of your study, the words seem almost resistant to your reading. Sentences refuse to make sense, and the archaic diction seems to obscure itself by transforming into ever more esoteric and uncommon synonyms.

At first you might be tempted to attribute this to a lack of focus on your part, but you blink, and catch the words LITERALLY doing all of this, rearranging and rewriting themselves with an impish temperament whenever they think you're not looking. Once you directly spot them, they go back to normal, and a little yellow imp wielding a dinner fork pokes his head out of a diagram of a magic circle, then jabs you in the snout with his utensil before sinking back into the book's surface. It doesn't draw blood, but boy does it smart.

>try again?

 No.726102

>>726101
She gives the imp a soul crushing stare and gives the book a little shake of frustration, being careful not to potentially spill letters everywhere. Once that's over with, she keeps browsing the book, determined to glean something of use.
[1d10] Read

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.726103

>>726102
This time, it seems, the words cooperate, and you flip through the newer pages until you come across a very intriguing passage…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekEW5__xJGk

"On Oddities and the Kingship of Demons"

Lesser spirits, preternatural phenomena, apparitions and certain ghosts, colloquially known in occult societies as 'Oddities', have a most peculiar relation to their greater kindred, Demons. Oddities and Demons alike are known to seek out evil karma, as both consume it. For Demons, evil karma is a decadent luxury, akin to finely-aged wine or Trotkish Delight. For certain oddities, karma is sustenance, their daily bread.

This results in a hierarchical 'pecking order' between Demons and Oddities. Demons, being universally stronger than almost all Oddities, will take precedence when they arrive in a spot that is rife with evil karma, known as a 'power spot.' Oddities that then seek to feed upon that evil karma must then submit to that Demon's authority and all that it implies, or live on the fringes, stealing bites of karma like starved dogs raiding garbage heaps. The natural strong will and thirst for conquest that the majority of Demons share means that the former case is far more common.

Those who wish to dispel Demons that have established dominion over a power spot will first have to deal with the Oddities at their command. But Oddities, unlike mercenaries or soldiers in an army, are not so simple to kill. Most Oddities are incorporeal, sustaining a link to this world through some kind of connection, known as an Anchor. This Anchor may commonly be an object, but certain thoughts and emotions have been known to become Anchors as well. Powerful negative emotions are often Anchors for Oddities, as well as both symptoms and causes of evil karma. The methods for dispelling these types of Anchors is therefore determined on a case-by-case basis.

 No.726181

Last time on PirateQuest…

In preparation for the exploration of Mallea's manor at the end of the night, the party split up. Each found a way to enjoy a few hours of free time until the fated hour, the hour of sundown, came.

Thessaly spent some time on the manor's porch, studying the Liber Animarum for information about how they might deal with whatever curse had centered upon the manor as a result of Mallea and Palafox summoning Auntzi and then immediately banishing her. In her studies, she came upon a most interesting chapter about the relationship between Oddities and Demons…

Alder and Splendid practiced magic with Mallea and Gullveig in the rec room on the second floor, where they discovered that Splendid's capacity to use magic was tied to her emotional state; specifically, she had the makings of a Hummingheart, a type of mage who bests uses magic when they are in the throes of some kind of pleasant emotion, such as when they are moved by a meaningful song. After that, and after an EXTREMELY awkward misunderstanding, they moved to the foyer, where Splendid and Alder read the week's newspaper to catch up on what the media was saying about Kaco Island.

Cutlass and Ossie retired to a small library on the first floor, to the north of which was a small garden in the midst of the manor's grounds. Much like the other parts of the manor, including Mallea's workshop, the library signs of age and disuse, as a fine film of dust lay upon everything. She and Ossie passed the time with idle conversation and small talk about the events of the past few days, while Sir Pent went about and ate his fill of whatever small bugs or rodents may have been about.

Cerulean went to the kitchen on the first floor, and it was there that Mallea joined her after giving Splendid and Alder their privacy. Mallea allowed Cerulean to have some samples of various berry pastries, jams and preserves that she had made, all of which were quite tasty, but Cerulean could tell they lacked a certain passion in their making. They did not taste like they were made with love.

Cloud and Chiu retired to a guest bedroom on the second floor, where they got to have a nap (with permission hard-won from the stubborn Mallea). Though Chiu seemed to sleep well, Cloud had a most frightful and restless dream, where out of a storm of choking, burning darkness that threatened to crush him, appeared the head of the Wetnurse. The Wetnurse left him only with a very cryptic and terrifying message: "GET HER OUT."

(1/3)

 No.726182

When sundown came upon the land, it was time. Mallea gathered everyone in the foyer in preparation to head into the basement, the area that had been the site of her and Palafox's abortive attempt to summon Auntzi. The basement was also the area that Mallea was never able to enter when the manor shifted and distorted at night, becoming an impenetrable labyrinth. If Thessaly's theory was right, this was the most likely spot for the nexus of evil karma and rampant magic that they would need to dispel in order to free the manor, and the town of Gecko, from the anomalies that plagued them at night.

Cloud quickly sent Chiu back to the inn, under the care of Granny. Meanwhile, Thessaly prepared a ritual described in the Liber Animarum, and summoned Ragalaseab, Seer of the Hidden, into the hidden room in which Mallea had tried to summon Auntzi many months ago. Cerulean and Alder noticed that Ragalaseab seemed to recognize all of you, and was not surprised by Thessaly's request for him to pinpoint and help dispel the magic that possessed the manor. He agreed to help, but on the condition that they take the remaining humanity from the Yellow Jester, a member of the Court of the Crimson King, and counterpart of the Pattern Juggler.

But that will be a story for another day.

Ragalaseab agreed to the Contract, giving Thessaly My Eye. This object would help her not only see the Yellow Jester's humanity, but would also help her to find the key points of evil karma and spoiled magic that they would need to dispel in order to break the curses lingering in the manor.

But just as he agreed to Thessaly's terms, the manor's infrastructure appeared to distort and twist, the walls becoming damp and wet, curving inward and growing uncomfortably marshy. At that moment, an elegant, lilting female voice rang out, asking how many times they would have to go through this. Before the party could tell where the voice came from, or what it meant, they turned back toward the corridor from which they came, where they glimpsed the faintest image of a feminine form.

But then, just as soon as they saw that vague shape, the room flooded with darkness, pouring in from down the corridor like a tidal wave of black, dragging them down into the depths of its crushing weight…

(2/3)

 No.726183

And when the darkness cleared, each of them was… more or less… where they were prior to Mallea's summons.

Cutlass was in the small library.

Alder was in the foyer.

Thessaly was in the entrance hall.

Cerulean was in the kitchen.

Cloud was in the guest bedroom.

 No.726184

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koZRzhY321A

>Cerulean

You stand in the mansion's kitchen, which is a long room with counters on either side to the north and south, with plenty of sinks and cutting boards and racks of tools, knives and hooks of various sizes for preparing dishes. An island is built in the middle of the room, where a number of gas stoves have been built into the marble. Pots and pans hang off a rack above the stoves.

>Cloud

You lay in the beds in which you woke up just a moment ago, but Chiu is no longer beside you, although the beds are still pushed together.

>Cutlass

You sit in that small study, the one lined with bookshelves that are in turn filled with many neat rows of books. Though, the books look like they haven't been touched in a while; they're quite dusty. The window to the north has had drapes drawn over it, obscuring the garden lying outside.

Ossie is nowhere to be seen.

>Alder

You are back in the foyer, the newspaper folded neatly upon your lap. You sit in the loveseat that you had charmed Splendid into sitting in with you (nearly sitting on her lap from how large she is), but she is gone, without a trace. The curtains have been drawn over the windows, obscuring your view of the outside.

>Thessaly

You stand within the long, narrow entrance hall, just in front of the massive double front doors. The front door is to the south, while the door leading to the foyer is closed, waiting to the north. And in your possession, sitting at the top of your bag's contents, is My Eye, gifted by Ragalaseab.

>roll for identification of powers, or try to discern by using it (visual/spiritual perception).


The small corridor is lined at the walls with portraits of landscapes, but their ink appears to have run, and many of them have tiny holes, which look to have been made by the mouths of moths or silverfish. What once appeared to be tranquil vistas now have decomposed into dreary, cold wastelands and decaying bogs.

Beneath them stand a number of suits of Krikral armor, made of discarded carapaces reinforced with certain metals. The armor is caked with dust and rust and some pieces have fallen straight off their stands.

>everyone roll perception in addition to other actions

 No.726185

>Side-Story for Alder
During the last of your free time with Splendid, she read the newspaper's contents to you. The focus of her readings quickly fell onto the coverage of the so-called "Tragedy of Kaco Island," and its aftermath.

The story of the attack on the circus follows, roughly chronicling the night's events from several eyewitnesses, as well as statements from bystanders and even a statement from the Dextrose Family, who were the intermediaries between the Aristar Mafia Families and the outside world.

Skimming through it, you find that the account of events was fairly accurate, at least from what the public would have known. The Bee Queens, several VIPs including nobility and aristocrats from other islands, and at least three dozen ordinary attendees were killed. Most deaths actually followed from a fire that started under mysterious circumstances toward the end of the night, not during Cutlass' initial burst of gunfire or the attack of the Beesting crew. Said fire destroyed most of the circus-grounds, making the Gates of Justice's investigation much harder. The Crimson King and his Court vanished, as have almost all members of the Aristar Mafia. In the power vacuum that followed the attack, the Gates of Justice have stepped in, and have their hooves full managing the chaos. Most residents openly resist their rule.

But what really catches your eye are the bounty posters, printed around the article in the corners of the text. You notice that each bounty poster is marked in the corner by the Crimson King's jolly roger.

WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE
"Red Dress Cutlass"
"Alder the Surgeon" (NO PHOTO AVAILABLE)
"Azure-Eye Cloud" (NO PHOTO AVAILABLE)

WANTED: ALIVE ONLY
"Black-Book Thessaly, the Sea Witch"
"Cerulean the Hungry" (NO PHOTO AVAILABLE)

Countless other posters follow, some with photos, and some without, that depict other members of your crew and members of the Beesting. Cerulean and Thessaly are the only ones listed as "Alive Only."

Splendid notices four key details about the two-page spread, which give her some pause.

1. Most of the posters don't have photos, except for Cutlass' and Thessaly's, and a few blurry photos of the Beesting mooks, probably taken during the attack on the circus. There is an open call in the article for info brokers, Black Market or otherwise, to send in any photos they might acquire so that the posters can be updated.
2. Cutlass' and Thessaly's photos are from Kaco Island. In the photos, they appear to be walking with a small group of mafia heads and their bodyguards along a forested, rocky cliffside along Kaco's coastline, toward a small cottage. But there's something strange about Thessaly's. Hers is a full-body photo, and her bag is visible. The top of her bag is loose, and the top of the Liber Animarum, a black grimoire, is poking out… almost as if it's peeking over the edge at the world outside. However, you know for a fact that she didn't obtain the book until after your dive to salvage the Lilliput… but that was well after the events on Kaco.
3. Cerulean's and Thessaly's photos have another insignia on them. A simple wagon wheel mark is stamped onto both of them at the top. You think you may have seen a symbol like this when you stopped by Obstinance's tent earlier.
4. Splendid is not present among the bounties.

 No.726186

>>726185
Alder frowns at that- wanted bounties are an inevitable thing, but it's not good in the slightest. He makes note of the fact that Cerulean and Thessaly are, oddly enough, wanted alive. It's probably because of the demons, so he makes note to suggest Chiu lay a little lower.

The bits Splendid pointed out are more concerning, though… some of this seems far too recent to have been known about at the time. He'll need to do some looking around on the ship when he gets the chance.


>>726184
>>726183
>>726182
Alder shakes his head a little as he comes to from the suffocating darkness, his heart still racing from the fear. He looks around tbe foyer and begins to let out a sigh of relief, before noticing… something's not right.

[1d10] Perception
[1d10+1] Master Thief (Intuition, or spotting other differences)

Roll #1 3 = 3 / Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11

 No.726187

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>726184
Cloud throws his hooves down, feeling the bed he now lies in. His eye glances around the room, unsure of what happened, or where he is for a moment. He looks to the empty bed beside him.
"…That wasn't a dream, was it? No… I know dreams…"
He sits up, feeling dread over him. While the dreams they've had the past few nights have felt far to realistic, they always were vague and oppressive in feeling. That ritual, that darkness didn't have the same feeling.
He slowly sits up, looking around the room. From what Mallea said, she always ended up in her bedroom by morning, so this would be a safe place to just sit and wait it out. But he can't sit by, he needs to help. He takes out his Yearning Knife, clutching it tightly, and hops out of the bed. He flips up his eyepatch as he walks to the door to step outside.
"Hey Hmm… Do you know what's going on?"

>Percetion [1d10]


Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.726188

>>726184
Cerulean looks around extremely confused and scratches her head.
"Huh…okay? Pretty sure I was somewhere else," she remarks and shrugs, going to leave the kitchen and try to find the others.

 No.726189

>>726184
It takes her a moment to get her bearings, frowning as she readjusts to her new (old) surroundings. "Curious," she muses. "Very curious…" Before giving it another shot, she examines the Eye, pulling it out of her bag and turning it over in her hooves as she gets a better look at what she's received.
[1d10] Identify

She also tries to see if anything's changed since before, eyes narrowed, shifting about the room with curiosity.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 2 = 2 / Roll #2 10 = 10

 No.726190

>>726188
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.726191

>>726184

"Hmm," Cutlass comments pointedly as she looks around the library. "Ossie?" she calls out, looking to her own shadow. "Are you still there?"

She then takes off her hat to see if Sir Pent is still there.

 No.726192

>>726191

[1d10] perception

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.726193

>>726187
The Eye of Wisdom is jet black when you look through it. You can't feel Hmm's presence anywhere.

As you step out of the room, you are struck with a sense of brain fog, followed by deja-vu. You are certain you stepped through the doorway toward the hall… but you are in the guest room now. You are certain it is the same guest room: A room with two narrow beds that have been pushed together, and with a few drawers and dressers here and there. The door leading to the balcony has had its curtains drawn over it. No light emanates from beyond the window.

You start to hear a voice, coming from the west, muffled and hushed.

>>726186
A thick layer of dust lays upon everything, from the floor, to the walls, to the furniture too. Faint cobwebs glisten between pieces of furniture, but you see no spiders, nor even traces of flies or gnats or moths caught in the webs. You note that, as you move around, your presence doesn't leave any indentation upon the omnipresent dust. You can't scatter it even when you touch it.

Something still feels off… and after scanning the room again, you note a small coffee table beside the loveseat. There is a book laying upon it, leather-bound, water-damaged and worn from years of being read. The title, barely legible from its years of damage, reads Psalms of the Entombed Maiden. The front cover is permanently bent back from years of being read, and on its inner side, you see a faded note, in red ink.

"For dearest Splendid,
Love, Headmistress Chastity"

>Roll perception and memory, Master Thief applies


>>726188
You head southward into the western hall, which you took when you went into the kitchen earlier in the day. The hall is terribly dusty, and the paintings on the walls appear to have been eaten away by moths or silverfish. Mold spores gather in the ceiling, and the magitech bulbs that once lit the hall now flicker, becoming quite dim.

From there you proceed east, past another door on your left (northward), and pass through another door, which leads to the foyer. It is in a state of terrible disrepair much like the hall through which you just passed. There, you also see Alder, sitting on a loveseat in the corner of the room.

It is as you see Alder that a flash of realization shoots through your mind. You look to your sides. Although your bags and the rest of your possessions are there, both the Lantern and Roger are missing.

>roll memory

 No.726194

>>726189
It is definitely My Eye, looking just the same as it did when Ragalaseab plucked it for you. My Eye is soft, glassy, double-irised, and always fixated on you, no matter what angle you look at it through. You're not sure what My Eye does, but perhaps, if you looked through it…

It's a small, key difference, but as you glance at the front door, you notice that no light travels through the peephole. A glance through it reveals that the world on the other side is completely pitch black. Any attempt at opening the door is fruitless. Not only is it locked, the locks (of which there are many) are all jammed and cannot be moved, even with great force.

You hear heavy hoofsteps to the north. The door leading from the entrance hall to the foyer is ajar, and through the gap you see Cerulean coming from the western hall into the foyer.

>>726191
There is no response from Ossie, and nothing stirring within your shadow. But when you take off your hat, you find that Sir Pent is curled up in there, asleep.

The room is decidedly far more filthy than it was before, you notice. Thick blankets of dust lay upon everything, and mold spores are visible in patches on the ceiling. As you glance about, you notice something sticking out of a drawer. Upon closer inspection, you see that it is a lockpicking kit

>Lockpicking Kit

>Description: A set of tools for picking various locks, including special hooks and needles with different tips for picking even the most unorthodox of locks with a variety of methods of force. Allows one to attempt lockpicking. If the character has any applicable Rogue skills, those get a DC - 1 when using this kit.

 No.726195

>>726193
Cerulean waves and happily calls out to Alder.
"Heeey! There you are! Jeez, what happened?" At the realization, she starts looking around for her two buddies, even looking through her mane.
"Wait…where are they?!"

>Memory

[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.726196

>>726193
Alder hums a little bit, taking in what he can. This definitely isn't the real manor, so he's not sure what to make of it. The heavily-worn book does catch his attention, though- he'll take some time to study it, and see if he remembers the name any.

[1d10] Perception
[1d10+1] Memory/Master Thief

Roll #1 9 = 9 / Roll #2 1 + 1 = 2

 No.726197

>>726194
She gives a little shrug and holds His Eye up, looking through it out of lack of any other idea of what to do with it for now.

She does a slight double take as she notices the outside does not exist. She bites her lip in consternation, and resolves to reunite with the rest of the party for the time being, starting with Cerulean.

>>726195
Thessaly approaches from the entrance hall, pointing out the distinct lack of an outside. "It seems our real's not real," she says offhandedly, as if commenting on the weather. "Have you seen the others, shark?"

 No.726198

>>726193
Cloud slowly puts the eyepatch back down, a chill running through him as his eye is pitch black.
When he finds himself back in the guest room, he looks back at the door confused. Even with a demon jumbling the house, a room shouldn't lead to itself. His ears perk and turn to the muffled voice. Cloud turns to the west, wondering if it's one of the others. He heads off in that direction, holding his dagger protectively before him.

 No.726199

>>726194

Cutlass sighs as she looks into her hat. "So, not a complete reset?" she mutters to herself. She looks around the filthy room. "Uuuuugh," she groans like a child. "I haaaate magic!"

She notices the lockpicking kit and takes it. She observes it suspiciously. "Seems a little too convenient…" she mutters.

[1d10] Master Thief to determine whether this Lockpicking kit has anything outright suspicious about it based on her usual knowledge of lockpicking

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.726200

>>726197
"Well, Alder is right there," she says and points at the loveseat in the corner with Alder on it.
"Though no idea where the others are. I hope Roger is okay…."

[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.726201

>>726200
"Hmm? O-Oh, hello there! I was a little distracted, apologies."

 No.726202

>>726201
"Oh? Distracted by what?" She looks over curious.

 No.726203

>>726196
As you thumb through the book, you are struck by the massive number of pages, and the fine small font, and the very thin pages on which it is all printed. The book is a collection of hymnals, prayers, chants, and chorals, and accompanying sheet music. Words are highlighted, seemingly at random.

About halfway through the Psalms, you come across a tightly folded sheet of papyrus. When you open it, you find that it is a map, and realize quickly that it is a map of the first floor of the manor, with a legend written on the side indicating doors, staircases, and each type of room.

You pick up on a faint scent, coming from the back of the page. It is the smell of soybeans. Something about this sparks a connection in your mind…

>Roll Knowledge, DC 3 because of your experience with alchemy and potionmaking.


>>726199
It looks completely mundane, in terms of magical influence. Even with your limited knowledge of magic, you can't detect anything wrong with it. On its merits as a lockpicking kit, it seems to be of high quality, and worth keeping.

As you examine it, you hear Thessaly and Cerulean's voices, coming muffled from the foyer.

>>726198
The door to the south, which SHOULD lead to the hallway, and the door to the north, which would lead out onto the balcony, are the only exits from this room. Thus, the only thing to the west is the room's furniture and the wall. As you get nearer to the wall, you hear the voice more clearly. It is mired in radio static, and you realize that it's some kind of program on the radio.

0:00 to 1:38 of
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-gbWxjzTYg

You are struck by how casually and with such interest the newscaster reads off the story's grisly details, almost as if lightly amused by the banality of the gruesome act. Nausea bubbles up in your throat.

>perception in addition to any other action taken


>>726200
As you rack your mind, a flash of a scene appears in a spark of recollection. You see a fire, raging out of control, spreading throughout a rich and vast dining hall, consuming all that it passes over. The fire, shaped like a monstrous, misshapen fox, emerges from a massive fireplace on the hall's northern end.

But, as you give it another thought… you have no idea where this place might be.

>>726197
As you look through My Eye, your vision is coated in a gold film, the color of Ragalaseab's sclera, of course. As you survey the area, you see a massive shimmering, bright white-yellow, coming from the northwest. It appears to be several rooms away, judging by the distance. Between here and the massive shimmering is a collection of smaller shimmerings, seemingly guarding the way.

With another sweep over the Foyer, you realize that the stairs to the second floor are gone. Where the stairs once were is now just a flat wall. In front of the wall is a low dresser, with an embroidered tablecloth over it. In the center of the dresser is an empty stand with an oval-shaped indentation, where it seems something needs to be put. It strikes you as a kind of shrine.

Through My Eye, you can see the wall and strange, empty shrine radiating a massive shimmering.

 No.726204

>>726203
She frowns as she takes in the odd sights, deciding to move towards the northwest, towards the large shimmer, occasionally peering through His Eye again to make sure she's heading the right way. As she does so, she calls out, trying to find the house's owner. "Mallea?"
[1d10] Navigation if needed

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.726205

>>726202
"Taking everything in… this certainly is not where we were. Ir is… somewhere else. That, and this book. I was reading the cover, at least."

>>726203
"A… hmm. A map? Curious, what is tha…" the griffon trails off as he gets a whiff of the peculiar scent. He'll try to see what he can remember.

[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.726206

>>726203
>>726202
>>726197

Cutlass exits her room and enters the foyer. "Any clues on what's happened here?" she asks, at a loss for direction.

 No.726207

>>726205
You realize that soybeans are a component in homemade invisible ink, and that messages written in them can be revealed if they are heated up enough.

 No.726208

>>726203
Cloud steps back from the wall, horrified at the newscast.
[It's just the demon.]
He thinks to himself to push it aside. He looks at the door that only looped back to this room, realizing the is a dead end. He looks over to the balcony, and steps out through that door slowly.
>Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.726209

>>726207
"Apologies, but would you happen to have a match? I need to check something…"

 No.726210

>>726202
>>726209
(Meant to respond here, apologies!)

 No.726211

>>726206
"It seems the house is under some sort of illusion," she answers, pointing out the darkness outside. "Either through the demon Auntzi or one of her subordinate oddities. It seems this Eye will be able to help us see the truth." She holds up the horrible disembodied eye of Ragalaseab.

 No.726212

>>726203
Cerulean scratches her head with a furrowed brow.
"Huh…weird."

>>726206
"Not a clue, but Roger and my lantern aren't with me." She gives a concerned noise, something between a hum and a whine.

>>726209
"No, but if anyone knows where the dining room is, I think there's a fireplace that could work?"

 No.726213

>>726212

"Ossie has also disappeared from my shadow. Which is especially disconcerting because I know she never left it."

"At least Sir Pent is still here and doing well," Cutlass says as she boops the nose of the snake on her hat.

>>726211

"How intense of an illusion are we referring to here? Are we actually in the foyer but certain secrets are hidden from us? Or are we just unconscious on the ground in the basement still? Or, are we wondering around somewhere else entirely and only THINK we're in the foyer?"

 No.726214

>>726212
"Sure. Have you seen anyone else, by ch-"

>>726211
"Ah! Another. All of us, then."

 No.726215

>>726204
You follow the shimmering trail with My Eye while keeping an eye on the decrepit manor with your own eye. The trail leads you down the western hall, which you proceed down for a time before stopping at the first door on the right, to the north. As you put your hoof on the doorknob, you notice that it is rather hot. In fact, the air here is growing hotter by the second.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSI5t3H1NSw

You enter the room, which you see is a large and spacious bar, with many stools around the counter. Bottles lay scattered, shattered and half-empty as they stain the carpet. Drying stains of melted ice litter the counter-top. The air here is sweltering, and unbearably stuffy and sickening, made so by the increasing temperature. The heat gets stronger the further north you go through the room. Your clothes start to stick to your fur.

On the other side of the room, the north side, you can feel the heat rising to a sickening degree. A set of double doors wait there, and they are held in place with a padlock, which by now has been made red-hot from the extreme heat.

You notice something, half-hidden under an empty black bottle. It is a sheet of folded papyrus, curling from the heat. It is much like the one you saw Alder find in the book he was fiddling with earlier.

>>726208
As you peel back the curtains that obscure the balcony door, you see a pitch-black sky… but more importantly, you see that the glass door that leads to the balcony is completely covered with an incredibly thick mold, black and shiny and moist, one that spreads from top to bottom. It seems to be twitching. If you want to get out onto the balcony, you'd risk that horrific mold getting all over you.

Suddenly, you start to hear the static from the radio growing louder.
"Don't touch that dial now, we're just getting started," the newscaster says, as he starts to repeat the broadcast, only with certain changes…

1:38 to 3:15
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-gbWxjzTYg

As the maddening broadcast continues, you notice a book laying askew on the nearby dresser. It is open to a certain page in what appears to be some kind of novel. When you glance at the page, you notice two words underlined. They're totally unconnected, not even in the same sentence.

"Fix"
"Room"

>Roll intuition if you want a hint

 No.726216

>>726213
"I only pretend to know everything, Captain," she answers tersely. "Right now, I'm almost as lost as the rest of us."

>>726214
"Not all of us," she comments. "We are still missing Cloud, and Mallea. And…" She can't seem to remember Splendid's name. "The other one."

 No.726217

>>726216

"Best guess?" Cutlass shrugs.

>>726215

Cutlass looks around the room for anything else useful or suspicious. [1d10] investigation

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.726218

>>726215
Alder hums a little bit, and starts off for the dining room. Once he's there, he'll look for any open flame he can find to heat the peculiar-smelling paper on.

>>726216
"Perhaps because only we made the deal? That is the most I could assume…"

 No.726219

>>726213
>>726216
"Very weird. So…is this the part where somebody says to split up? Because I think that was done very often in situations like this from talks of movies and stuff I've heard."

 No.726220

>>726219

"Only if you start hugging again," Cutlass responds in a tired tone, already sick of this heat.

 No.726221

>>726215
Cloud steps back from the window, not wanting to get covered in the mold. For a moment he considers using his magic to move the mass, but the twitching makes him reconsider.
When the radio grows louder, he covers his ears to try and block it out. With both ways out blocked, he thinks of using his other knife to make him intangible to pass through the wall. He brushes it aside as he sees the book, and then looks to the beds.
"…Is she upset?"
He says aloud, and then steps to the beds, pushing them apart back to their original spots.

 No.726222

>>726217
"A mirror reality of the demon's making would be my conjecture," she answers. "Some sort of nightmare reflection of the true manor. Nothing we see here is likely to be real."

>>726218
She shakes her head. "It would only be worse if I had not. The Eye seems to be able to show the way through this place. I'm not sure where it leads yet."

>>726215
She starts breathing heavily from the overwhelming heat, taking a moment to wipe her brow and convalesce before proceeding, pushing against the unbearable atmosphere. Noticing the piece of parchment, she moves over and takes a look at it before putting it away for safekeeping.
[1d10] Investigate, if needed

She also tries to force the padlock with a magic blast.
[1d10+1] [1d10+1] Magic Bolt on the lock

Roll #1 8 = 8 / Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6 / Roll #3 6 + 1 = 7

 No.726223

>>726222
"No, what I meant was that we were the ones that 'agreed', so to speak. Whatever it was that came isolated us?"

 No.726224

>>726220
"Well I mean, its not like you disappeared for a few days again and we're meeting back up," she says with a big, playful grin.

>>726215
With a shrug, Cerulean tries to see if she can find her way to the dining room she saw, taking the time to mark where she goes by biting down on wood every so often, letting the bite marks act as markers.

>Navigation (if needed)

[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.726225

>>726224

"Perhaps I disappeared because I grew tired of your hugs."

>>726222

"Well, forgive me for being cliche, but in that case, I must ask what exactly you qualify as 'real'."

 No.726226

>>726222
>>726219
>>726217
>>726218
Cutlass notices also the empty shrine and wall in the foyer where the stairs leading to the second floor once were. (See: Thessaly's reply in >>726203)
That strikes her as the key to moving forward through whatever it is that's going on here.

You follow the map's directions toward the Dining Hall, and he finds that he's going the same way as Thessaly. The dining room is on the western half of the first floor. To get there from the Foyer, you go down the west hall, north through the Bar and then north again. It is directly to the east of the Larder, and Northeast from the Kitchen.

As Alder leads your group into the Bar, you are all struck by the sweltering heat. The Bar is significantly hotter than the rest of the house, a clinging, sickly heat that only makes the smell of mold in the ceiling much worse. It is so hot that a few moments of being in the room is more than enough to start overheating you. To the north you see the double doors that lead to the Dining Hall. However, the doors are held in place by a massive padlock, which has grown red-hot from the massive heat, whose source seems to be on the other side, in the Dining Hall.

Alder shows up just as Thessaly takes the sheet of papyrus. Alder notices that a message starts to appear on the back of the map, made visible by the heat. Thessaly's sheet already has a message on it. However, neither message seems to make sense at first. Each message is just a string of words like "Hymns," "Glorias," "Romances," "Vox," "Anthems," followed by numbers separated by colons.

But then it clicks for Alder as he looks back at the Psalms. Each of the words in the messages corresponds to a chapter and verse in the Psalms. When Alder flips to those chapters and verses, he finds that certain words have been highlighted or underlined. When they are put together, they form a message that makes sense…

>The Message on the back of the Map

"And if a House be divided against itself, that House cannot stand."
"Absolve"
"The"
"Four"
"Sins"
"First"
"Second"
"Attic"
"Basement"

>The Message on the Note in the Bar

"Danger"
"Fire"
"Protection"
"Bolt"
"Cutter"
"in"
"Garden"
"Shed"
"Please"
"Careful"

Beneath the words on the second message, there are a number of tally marks. 7, to be precise.

>>726222
Your attack puts a great dent into the heavy padlock, made softer by the tremendous heat that fills the room. It looks like just one more good hit would be enough to destroy it…

>>726221
As you pull the two beds apart, you also fold the sheets, tucking them in properly and fluffing up the pillows. You hear the click of a door, and the southern door opens, allowing you to exit the room. Out in the hall to the south, you see a floor and ceiling stained and wet, rife with black and deep green mold stains, and a fine layer of dust upon everything. To the west, you realize, lies the stairs to the foyer. To the east is more hallway, and then a door to the north, but you don't know what waits beyond it.

 No.726227

>>726226
Cloud turns to the door as it clicks open. He wonders why it needed the beds to be put back to be opened, but he is more thankful he got Chiu out if stuff like this will keep him trapped.
He steps out into the hall, feeling sick from how damp and stained everything is. He looks to the west, but dismisses that path immediately, not wanting to go anywhere in the direction of that radio. He looks forward to the northern door, and goes to check on that, the closest available option.

 No.726228

>>726226
"'Garden shed'?" she muses with curiosity, putting the piece of papyrus away for now. She looks back to the padlock, and reaches out with black tendrils to wrench it free.
[1d10+2] Shackles

Roll #1 2 + 2 = 4

 No.726229

>>726226
You head east down the hall until you reach the northern door, but you find that it is locked.

 No.726230

>>726228
>>726226

"Well, it sounds to me like we need to get to the attic first," Cutlass muses. "But, that's upstairs. And, the stairs seem to be missing."

 No.726231

>>726226
Seeing the padlock o the door, Cerulean tries to help out by giving the lock a good, solid smack with her tail.

>take better

[1d10+1]
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5 / Roll #2 2 + 1 = 3

 No.726232

>>726226
>>726230
>>726228

"Hrm… it seems as if we must do a few things here- I think? Should we split up, or handle it together?"

 No.726233

>>726229
Cloud tries the door to no avail. He really doesn't want to head west, and then he gets an idea, He takes out his Tooth of Sa'eer, and prods the door to make it intangible so he can walk through it.
>Tooth of Sa'eer [DC5] [1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.726234

>>726232

"There doesn't seem to be any pressing reason to get this done quickly. No reason to split up."

 No.726235

>>726232
"I think it would be best if we stay together, for now. If we split up, we may not find each other again."

>>726230
"If only we had someone with wings," she answers dryly.

 No.726236

>>726234
>>726235
"Ah, good. T-To be honest, I am very woried about this place."

 No.726237

>>726230
>>726232
>>726231
>>726228
According to the map that Alder holds, the garden shed (and whatever it holds that might help you) is some distance away. You would need to cross through the foyer, enter the eastern hall and follow it as it loops to the north around the back of the manor. There, next to the vegetable garden, waits the shed.

Cerulean and Thessaly destroy the last of the weakened padlock, but the effort burns Cerulean's tail badly, leaving a lingering, stinging pain that refuses to diminish.

However, this has left the dining hall available for you to enter, if you're willing to brave the heat. Your mind goes back to the Ice Grape Jelly that Mallea gave you for dealing with the Kalphites…

>>726233
You touch the door, making it intangible for a moment, but you nearly miss the timing as it starts to turn tangible again, and it clips off a good portion of your tail as you try to pass through.

Inside, you seem to be in a decrepit bedroom. A small crib lays in the corner, and a number of toys and books sit on dressers and tables nearby. A closet in the wall holds a number of tiny clothes, faded and moth-eaten, but they look almost like they were new. In fact, you realize, they were never used.

To the north lies a set of double doors, with a massive block of mold growing over them, especially over the handle and lock.

>roll perception, yadda yadda

 No.726238

>>726236
>>726235

"Hmm, well THERE'S a good reason to split up," Cutlass agrees with Thessaly, ignoring Alder's objections.

"How about it, Alder? Care to see what's upstairs?"

 No.726239


 No.726240

>>726238
"A-Ah! I suppose I could, if al of you think it would be wise." the griffon chirps.

>>726237
"Regardless of what we do, it is important to go to the shed, it seems. Something helpful is there."

 No.726241

>>726237
She frowns unhappily as another heat wave rolls over her; then, she gets an idea. She reaches out to the heat itself and tries to dispel it somewhat by conjuring it into an elemental. "Grian an tsamhraidh…"
[1d10+1] Unholy Elementalist

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.726242

>>726241
>Evoker: When Thessaly conjures a minion via Unholy Elementalist, roll an additional 1d10 on a success. On a pass, the minion is raised with an additional 2 hits for a total of 5/3. On a crit, the minion gains 1 hit and 1 wound, bringing it to 4/4. On a critfail, the minion is hostile and gets no bonuses. (Amnis: +1)

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11

 No.726243

>>726237
Cerulean waves her tail around, and even tries to blow on it. But alas, it keeps feeling singed.
"Oww, jeez. Good thing I didn't try to use my teeth." Seeing the dining room open, Cerulean tries some of that ice grape jelly, giving it a good lick around the mouth to savor the flavor. Prepared to go, Cerulean pushes/pulls/however way the door opens.
"Hang tight…whatever your name is! I'm on my way!"

 No.726244

>>726241
Also Perception etc
[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.726245

>>726240
Perception! [1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.726246

>>726237
Cloud looks back as a portion of his tail gets clipped into the door, wincing a bit as the hairs are pulled. He looks around the new room, and feels almost guilty when he sees it was to be the baby's room. He steps through slowly, looking over the toys and clothes that went to disuse, realizing why the door was locked.
>Perception [1d10]

He looks to the set of double doors, coated in mold as they were before. He takes his dagger and tries to scrape off as much as he can from the handle before trying to open it.
>Clean [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4 / Roll #2 4 = 4

 No.726247

>>726238
>>726240
>>726237

"Well for now let's see what they find in that sweltering cesspool of a room. I'll be waiting at the entrance where things are only horrifically uncomfortable," she says, fanning herself with a hoof.

[1d10] perception

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.726248

>>726247
>>726243
>>726241
>>726242
>Cerulean gains the following effect until the end of the next combat
>Ice Grape Jelly: Your body becomes resistant to the effects of heat and dehydration, even weakening the effects of both natural and magical fire upon you. You cannot suffer from the Burn or Dehydrated status conditions, and you take -2 damage from all sources of fire damage
>Reminder you all have 3 small jars of these, good for 1 use per jar

Thessaly bends the repulsive heat to her will, conjuring a massive spider from it, a ripple of heat and light, like the shimmering silhouette of a mirage upon hot desert sands.
>All attacks can apply Fire Element. Effective against metal and other meltable and flammable materials.
>Minion has Absorb: Fire, meaning it is healed by Fire damage
>Also has Heat Wave, a Cleave attack that has -2 to its critfail range. Can toggle Fire Element on or off

Cerulean leads the charge into the Dining Hall. Inside, you see a very spacious and high room, one of the bigger rooms in the whole manor. The massive windows stretch nearly from floor to ceiling, and they are covered on the outside with a thick, coagulated coat of moist, black-green mold, mold which pulsates and twitches as if it were alive. Decaying and vandalized artwork lines the spaces between the windows.

In the middle of the room is a long table, with ten seats on either side and the biggest chairs upon the ends. The remnants of a grotesque meal remain on the plates, long since rotted and spoiled from the heat. Maggots and all manner of other vermin crawl about within the grotesque remains.

At the back of the Hall, behind the head of the table, is a massive fireplace. A small fire burns upon the hearth, but there are no logs or other materials which it burns. In front of the fireplace sits Cerulean's lantern, but it is empty, half-melted in the terrible heat that clutches the room in its unending grasp.

>roll danger sense, master thief applies here


>>726246
You don't find anything here that you could feasibly use, it seems. However, you spy another book laying upon the shelf. Five words are circled upon the open page, but the first word has been completely scribbled out, obscuring it. If you had to guess, it looks like it was eight letters long.

"——-"
"Fears"
"Flame"
"West"
"Lab"

You try to scrape off the mold upon the door, but all you succeed at doing is spreading it across the floor of the baby's room. As you do, you notice the scraped mold coagulating on the floor. As more and more of it gathers together, it starts to grow and grow, seemingly growing appendages. As its form becomes more clear, you realize that this puddle of mold is taking the shape of a misshapen, half-decaying kalphite!

 No.726249

>>726248
Cerulean gives a shocked, perhaps even worried, gasp as she sees the lantern.
"Oh no oh no!" She goes running over to it worried, then look quizzically at the hearth.
"Hey? Little buddy? Is that you sleeping in there?"

 No.726250

>>726248
Her snout wrinkles at the sight of the disgusting banquet, giving it a wide berth as she approaches the fireplace, popping an Ice Grape Jelly of her own in the process. She thinks for a bit before doing the usually most logical step; snuffing out the flame, which she attempts to do with telekinesis.
[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.726251

>>726248
>>726250
Danger Sense?
[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.726252

>>726248
>>726249
>>726250

"Hurry up in there, this heat is unbearable," Cutlass groans.

Cutlass is such a master thief that she can sense the danger from the other room! Maybe? [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.726253

>>726249
>oh right, danger sense
[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.726254

>>726240
As you look around the bar for anything that might be of use, you stumble across a marvel of modern technology, hidden under the bar's counter. They appear to be a case of small round pellets, ten in all. They are described by a note in the case as being an experimental dry powder solution that explodes on contact with a fire, and spreads a fire-dampening chemical powder upon explosion. They seem designed to be thrown, but you realize that, with a little oil to compensate for their size, they could be loaded into your gun.

>Extinguisher Bullets x10 added

>Effect: +2 damage against any Fire-attuned enemies or those weak to Chemical or Water damage

 No.726255

>>726248
Cloud steps over to the open book, reading over the words.
"Something fears fire off to the west?"
He mutters, picking up the book to try and pick out the word that's been scribbled out.
>Decipher [1d10]

Cloud steps back from the mold as it starts to pull together into a creature. When it starts to form into a kalphite, Cloud's eye glows orange as he tries to forcibly shrink the doors down to pop them off their hinges so he can get out.
>Wax/Wane [Shrink Door] [1d10+1]

Roll #1 7 = 7 / Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9

 No.726256

>>726254
"Oh! Curious little things, these are." the griffon says, tucking them away for later."

>>726251
>>726249
"Before we go any further, I think we should check out this shed it mentioned. Perhaps something there could be very handy."

>>726252
>>726248
"Hmm? Heat… oh! I might have something that coulld deal with that." the griffon says, attempting to load one of the pellets and fire it at the hearth.

 No.726257

>>726256
Danger sense! [1d10+1]

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10

 No.726258

>>726256

"What are you planning to do?" Cutlass asks wearily.

 No.726259

>>726258
"Fixing a problem, perhaps? Just to see."

 No.726260

>>726255
Taking a moment to concentrate, you realize that some of what you thought were ink scribbles were in fact just the black ink upon the page itself. You can make out a few of the bigger letters…

"J–l–s-"

But you have no more time to concentrate, when the puddle of mold coagulates, mutating and sprouting legs and fangs, starts to move toward you. It swipes at you twice, just as you pop the doors to the north off their hinges, revealing a master bedroom beyond them. The master bedroom, at first glance, doesn't seem to have any exits, not counting the bathroom in its northeastern corner.

[2d10+1]

>>726249
>>726250
>>726252
>>726256
As Thessaly and Cerulean get close to the lantern sitting in front of the fireplace, a sudden spark runs down their spines, as their bodies realize before their minds the presence of imminent danger before them. Reflexively, both leap back, and not a moment too soon–

The flame within the fireplace expands in a single breath, leaping out at them, just as Cerulean's pet fox leaped out earlier in the day for their lunch. This time, however, a massive, lean head, composed all of fire, extends from the fireplace, the head of some kind of terrible monster, a hybrid of fox and serpent, baring crooked teeth and snarling, flicking out a forked tongue to taste the air. Its body is mostly flame, with blackened coals and ashes forming a twisted, sprawling skeleton visible within the red-hot plasma.

At the instant it tries to grab Cerulean, Alder shoots the monster, his pellet landing in its eye and exploding on contact, spreading out a white-blue chemical powder all over the area. The monster recoils with a terrible, whining hiss, shrinking back into the hearth with its wounded eye closed.

But it seems it will take more than one shot to quell the beast. The burning monster continues to crawl out of the fireplace, shifting and distorting as it does. The more it climbs out of the fireplace, the more you can see a second figure riding upon its back. The figure is unclear, its form murky and shifting, but it appears to be some kind of hybrid of bug and woman, armored and wielding a fire poker in its right hand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLOlOFO5Udw

>Immolatioknight, the Sin of ——


After the beast and rider emerge from the flame, the rider raises her poker, and a fireball starts to gather at the tip!

[1d10+2]

Meanwhile, the twisted fox-serpent steed swipes its claws at Cerulean again!

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 9, 4 + 1 = 14 / Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10 / Roll #3 3 + 1 = 4

 No.726261

>>726260
Cloud quickly tries to back into the master bedroom as he knocks the doors down, but it's too late as the mold already lunges at him. He takes his Yearning Knife that's he's held close and cuts at the moldy kalphite as it comes at him.
>Cut [DC5] [1d10]
>The Yearning Knife: Attacks from this knife can cut through magic, enabling them to counter magical attacks and damage lingering magical effects, as well as Amnis-type Aura Abilities. Countering a magical attack reduces its damage, or negates it completely if you match or beat the roll on the attack. Damaging and dispelling lingering magical effects may be more complex, and generally requires striking at the source of the effect.

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.726262

>>726256
"Alright, I just need to make sure my fox buddy is okay."

>>726260
"Hey! There you…are?" She says confused as he takes on a new shape, one she's never seen before. Avoiding the firs attack, she bites the air angrily.
"Hey! Get off him!" She runs up to slam her tail into Immolationknight, pumping extra aura into it to get the area a bit flooded with her red, watery aura.

>Slam, crit 8+, take best

[1d10+1]
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3 / Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11

 No.726263

>forgot H/W

 No.726264

>>726260
"A-ha! I was correct!" the griffon chirps, somewhat emboldened by its recoil. He lets out a startled squawk and backs away a little as it pulls itself further out of the fireplace, and hurriedly chucks each of his allies one of the pellets. "H-Here! Try these!" he shouts.

 No.726265

>>726260
"A-Ah! No!" he chirps, firing a shot at the poker- maybe he can stop the fireball!
[1d10+1] (Apparently it has a +1 on the pistol- apologies!)

Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8

 No.726266

>>726260
Thessaly is slightly startled by the appearance of the burning rider, skittering backwards with narrowed eyes. The heat-spider leaps towards the knight, aiming to wrap its spectral legs around her body and dismount her.
[1d10] Attack: Rider

Thessaly focuses on the mount, reaching out with dark magic and trying to place a black sigil on it. "Géill!"

>Exequy: spell, recharge 2 after effect ends; Thessaly places a curse upon an enemy, crippling them with dark magic. The target auto-critfails its next roll, and on a crit the target is rendered unable to attack on the next turn. If an enemy gets multiple rolls per turn, the first of those rolls is the one affected by Exequy.

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 4 = 4 / Roll #2 2 + 1 = 3

 No.726267

>>726260

"Gah, what the hell am I supposed to do against this!?" Cutlass cowers in the doorway. She hides out of sight and launches a knife at the Immolatioknight.

[1d10] ranged attack

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.726268

>>726264
She catches it in midair and stores it for later use with a wordless nod of thanks.

 No.726269

>>726265
>>726264
You shoot at the fireball just as the rider winds back her arm and flings it – not at your party, but at the ceiling itself, in what you can only guess is an attempt to bring down the roof upon you. Your shot is true, and most of the fireball dissipates before it hits the roof, but not all of it. Some flames spread about, catching upon the molded wood and paint.

>>726266
The rider extends a long and bulky arm, punching back your spider monster. Although it takes no additional damage from Immolatioknight's flames, your spider is still hurt by the body of coal and cinder underneath the body of flame.

-2 Hits to Spider Elemental

As you try to lay your curse upon the fox-serpent, it leaps toward you, then skids with its claws, drifting across the surface of the dining hall. It scrapes past you, swiping and singing you with its tail as it does, but the Ice Grape Jelly inures you somewhat.

-1 Hit

>>726267
Your knife slides through the flame-plates of Immolatioknight's armor, sinking into the cinders that make up her core. Yet for all the damage she did, still she fights.

>>726262
Immolatioknight catches your strike upon her arm to block it, but this proves to be a bad idea as the waters flow freely from your Aura, extinguishing some of her exterior flames in a cloud of smoke and steam. The area is still too hot, and Immolatioknight's fires too plentiful, for the terrain to become watery, but every drop of water made their mark. Immolatioknight shoves you backward, silently glaring down at you with sheer killing intent.

>>726262
>>726264
>>726266
>>726267
As the battle begins, something about the message written on the back of the map nags at the back of your mind.

"Absolve the four sins…"

Something tells you that whatever that passage means will be important for this battle and for any others that come next.

>intuition toward this message can be rolled as a free action


Immolatioknight and the fox-serpent charge forward again, but this time, Immolatioknight drives her poker underneath the dining table, flipping it through the air with a flourish. It flies toward all of you, and burning pieces of cloth, wood splinters and fetid, rotten food fill the air.

>Cleave vs 4


[1d10+2]

Meanwhile, the fox-serpent barks twice at Alder, and with each bark comes forth a circle of fire from its hungry maw.

[2d10+1]

>>726261
You stab into the molded kalphite, and much of its body starts to rot and fall apart upon impact, but enough of it remains for it to slash you deeply across the chest, and you are knocked back onto the dusty carpet of the master bedroom.

>Cloud 0/4


The kalphite falls back, trying to regain its balance as its body withers under the Yearning Knife's damage.

Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12 / Roll #2 5, 9 + 1 = 15

 No.726270

>>726269
>Heat-Spider 3/3

As she recalls the cryptic words, she thinks about what it could mean for their current situation.
[1d10] Insight

Undeterred, she keeps focusing the fox-serpent, conjuring black tendrils to wrap around its legs and bind it in place.
[1d10+2] Shackles

The heat-spider rears up and stabs at the rider with its two elongated forelegs.
[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10 / Roll #3 7 = 7

 No.726271

>>726270
[2d3+1] Shackles duration

Roll #1 1, 2 + 1 = 4

 No.726272

>>726269
Cloud clutches his chest as he is knocked back, tumbling along the carpet.
"Grh, h-how is mold that tough?"
He groans, trying to regain his hoofing to stand before the kalphite can recover.
>Recover [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.726273

>>726269

Cutlass thinks back to the notes. "Wait… Fire… Protection…"

Cutlass face-hoofs. "Was that supposed to be one thought? I swear, if there's some sort of fire protection in the tool shed…"

[1d10] intuition for other such revelations

Also, she throws another knife since it seemed to work so well. [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2 / Roll #2 5 = 5

 No.726274

>>726269
Cerulean rushes the knight again, but this time, she tries to use her strength to disarm them of their fiery poker.

>drop it!

[1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.726275

>>726269
"Ah! Got it, sort of! Less fire, at least. I believe… I believe this may be important to that message. If we are to Absolve it, is there something we should try doing to it? I do not know…"

Alder lets out a startled chirp as the fox lashes out at him- maybe he can avoid the worst of it? [1d10] Dodge

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.726276

>>726272
You manage to get back up; 5/4

But at the same time, the decaying mold, falling apart even as it moves, starts to lumber toward you again, slashing again, though slower and weaker this time.

[2d10]

>>726270
In a flash of inspiration, you recall certain words you passed over in the Liber Animarum during your readings on Oddities: A simple, yet cryptic passage, and rather laconic in a strange departure from the book's usual tendency toward purple prose.

To defeat an Oddity, one must identify it, and discern its true name and nature. For Oddities born of sin, or great emotion, one must pinpoint the true name of that sin or emotion, and then absolve that sin or reconcile that emotion.

If the Immolatioknight is an Oddity, then, before you can defeat it… you'll have to learn its true existence, somehow.

>>726270
You bind the fox-serpent, and as it skids to an abrupt halt, the Immolatioknight leaps from its back, twirling through the air once before it hits the ground, running toward you with weapon drawn.

>>726273
Your blade misses at the last moment, due to the Immolatioknight leaping from her mount; the knife embeds itself in the wood on the northern wall.

>>726273
The sweltering heat makes it hard to focus on whatever it was that second note was getting at.

>>726275
You aren't nearly quick enough to dodge the attack, and are burned severely by the waves of fire washing over you.

-6 Hits

>>726270
>>726273
>>726274
The burning table careens across the room, shattering into flaming pieces which embed themselves into you, drawing a great deal of blood and crushing and badly bruising your bodies. But, with a last-minute surge of might, Cerulean smacks the Immolatioknight's hand, knocking the poker clear across the room until it clatters against the ground on the eastern wall.

>Thessaly 0/4

>Cerulean 0/5
>Cutlass 0/4
>Alder 0/5

The Immolatioknight pauses as the poker is knocked from her hand. She glances between the tangled fox and her poker, then with no hesitation bolts toward the scattered weapon.

The fox-serpent gnaws at its shackles, trying to work its way out of its bindings.

[1d10]

>Paused


Roll #1 6, 2 = 8 / Roll #2 9 = 9

 No.726277

>>726270
Perhaps, you realize, My Eye could help…


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