No.751376[Last 50 Posts]
Last time, on PirateQuest…
Cutlass, Alder and Cerulean went south through the jungles of Cuauhtemoc, seeking after Captain Bee Holder and her four first mates, to update them on the situation with the informant, and the investigation of Gullveig's attack. It wasn't long before they found them, as the Watchkeepers seemed to guard the southern regions of the island far more jealously than the northern ones, and Bee Holder's party were forced to turn back after surviving encounter after encounter.
Cloud aided Mallea, Thessaly and Godot in collecting medicinal plants to restock their supplies following all the intense battles that had plagued their stay on this mysterious island.
Meanwhile, aboard the Thunder Serpent, Captain Kukulcan and his own trusted inner circle raised an automaton of their own – but not one of the Watchkeepers, over whom Kukulcan supposedly had authority as a god of the island. Rather, it was Two Tons, a sapient construction purchased on the Black Market. They were not expecting any manner of intelligence from the robot, so rather than press it into indentured servitude, Kukulcan negotiated for the robot's loyalty in exchange for fair wages, living accommodations and mutual aid.
Kukulcan shakes your hoof with gusto. "Good to have you aboard, sir. We shall discuss the details of your pay and employment once you have had a chance to acquaint yourself with the rest of the crew. Come, and I shall introduce you, though be warned that not all of them are with us for the moment."
>Cerulean, Alder, Cutlass
Bee Holder stops and considers for a moment as she takes in everything that you've said. "…Well then! Looks like we're the ones in need of getting caught up."
"You cleared that entire place by yourself!?" Bent Scales exclaims to Cerulean. "Respect! But, Captain, doesn't this mean we can get that map made now?"
"After we see what Mallea needs our blood for," Sickly Sweet says.
"Whatever it is, I'll bet it's to do with why you sought us out directly instead of calling ahead," Bee Holder says. "Let's be off."
Despite being down an eye and an all-knowing crow spirit, you aid Godot in finding most of the roots and shoots and bulbs and leaves upon his list. Godot hums to himself as he works, occasionally looking back to you. After a time, he signals to his goat bodyguards, and they plop down upon pony-sized tree roots to have a break.
"Worried?" he asks, offering you a handkerchief for the sweat upon your brow.
"Truth be told, I don't know why we are here," Cutlass shrugs. "I'm just following along until we get back on track. So, let's get back as soon as possible, please."
"Not entirely by myself. I had Roger and Tabasco helping me along the way," she responds with a big, playful grin.
"Yeah, but I don't think I can say just yet cause of 'that problem' we have and all."
"Ah, yes- it has to do with, ehm…" he looks around, before saying "The attack on Ms. Gullveig. We want to try and identify whose blood it was we found, and perhaps try to find out about any other traitors from there… though, I am rather curious- what do you do with traitors on a ship? Leave them on an island?"
The automaton for his part nodded happily and moved to follow the friendly stranger.
Bee Holder just smiles. "Perhaps you may find out. I know not to spoil a good surprise."
"Oh, right," Bent Scales adds. "You joined after
the last traitor. Yeah… that's… yeah.">>751378>>751379>>751380
At Bee Holder's behest, you head back to the Hidden Dagger,
explaining the situation thus far, up from Cloud's discovery of Gullveig's shop yesterday, to the investigation that Chiu, Mallea and Thessaly conducted, to Mallea's blood testing. By the end of it, they agree to provide Mallea with blood samples, and after a while, Sickly Sweet comes back from the Beesting
with Chiu's blood sample.
"Okay…" Mallea sighs as Bee Holder and her first mates devour the last of her cookies. "Is that everyone?"
"Droplet and the others are still aboard the Thunder Serpent,"
Mallea sighs. "Right, then. I'll take a small party to retrieve theirs."
Ossie looks out the window. "It's still early afternoon… you should be able to get there by nightfall. Just stay the night, as they've allowed us to do until now."
"Right," Mallea says. "Well, with the Captain's permission, anyway. Forgive me, Cutlass. I am not used to sea life."
"I see no reason to stay here. We might as well head back to the Thunder Serpent and retrieve the blood samples ourselves. This goose chase is not our top priority right now, anyway. We need to get back to the assault on that vault."
Ossie frowns. "If I make a suggestion, Captain: why not allow your crew to deal with it so that you can focus on the Vault?"
"Of course. My crew is welcome to do whatever they want as long as it's not hurting us."
"Though, if you remember my suggestion last night, then this problem will resolve itself soon enough," Cutlass says cryptically.
Cloud takes the handkercheif, wiping off his face from the heat of the island.
"A-A little," Cloud says, not realizing he's been on edge the whole time until called out. "Still not all that comfortable being in the forest after losing a leg, even with all the guards."
Alder swallows a little bit, before nervously flicking his tail, and coiling it around one of his hindlegs. "A-Ah! Well, I was, ehm, just curious, but I suppose I will wait until the time comes.">>751382
"This is everyone, aside from those aboard the Thunder Serpent- would you like any of us to accompany you to it, Miss Mallea?"
"Well if anybody goes there, I wanna tag along. With a bunch of other stuff happening while I was in the temple, I'm feeling kinda uneasy about all them…."
Kukulcan gestures about the area. "You have already met myself, Miss Two Reeds – our ship's Accompass, by the by – and the indomitable Sir Diamantaire."
He turns to where the tall, imposing griffon once stood, only to find a completely different griffon, one of a normal size, and a normal, quadruped posture, standing where he once was. He carries a dark red ball under one arm. "Sup? Name's Cycle Kick," he says, holding out his fist for a bump.
Nobody acknowledges this abrupt change of appearance.
Following this, they go up on deck, and begin the introductions of a wide variety of sailors. They are of diverse races, but the majority appear to be Vola, with Krikral and Puros being close runners-up. There are quite many – you'll have trouble remembering this many names.They're mooks.
Mallea frowns at the mixed signals. "I won't turn down your help, but I gather that Captain Cutlass wishes to focus on the Vault we have seen so frequently in our accursed dreams, than the investigation. If you shall entrust this task to me, I'll take Miss Sunshine, Puddin Tame and a few of your other sailors as my backup," Mallea says. "Godot shall remain behind as Vice-Captain while Miss Sunshine's away.">>751386
"Yes, yes," Godot says. He withdraws some fruit and fish from his pack, offering you the fruit. "Not to mention all else that you must have on your mind at this moment."
After snacking on the fish, he looks back your way. "I understand you got a newspaper on your last trip back to Agyl. May I borrow it?"
That's a neat trick you got right there bud." He says to the now smaller and significantly more rad Griffin. "You should wear a backwards hat."
At seeing all the others though his mechanical jaw hangs open "Wow… It must be a nightmare to organize so many birthday parties."
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 5 = 5
"Thanks," Cloud says, taking the fruit and biting down on one.
He nods, pulling the paper out of his pocket and handing it to Godot. He swallows his mouthful of fruit as he looks over it.
"So, what'd you do to get your bounty so high? And to have dead only too?"
"That would be a catastrophically bad idea," Cutlass responds to Mallea. "The last thing we need right now is less people on the ship being vigilant. We can find a way to send them back to you for a blood test."
"That being said, if we're taking the assassins out of the field, I'd be open to taking one or two crew members with us as backup," Cutlass adds after a moment of thought.
"Hmm…I dunno. There's just too much stuff happening at once. Its like picking between a tasty tuna or a just as tasty grouper." Has a look of bewilderment: both at the situation and reliving that dilemma in her head.
"Mmm, very well. Do not hesitate to call if you need something, though. I would not want any others to get hurt from investigating this mess."
Just as you ask that – indeed, even before – Godot has already flipped to the section on bounties. His beak is turned with annoyance, and he says nothing for a moment. "They reduced it…" he remarks, before idly flipping to other sections.
He looks over the edge of the paper as you ask what earned such a bounty. "I suppose that telling you is a different matter than telling the Captain… I was instrumental in a certain war effort. More accurately, it was thanks to the weapons I designed that the war did not end in disaster for our side.">>751390
"Trick?" Cycle asks, genuinely not understanding you.
As you look about, you see that the massive galleon ship is docked at a lake. Surrounding the lake is a vast wetland, bordered to the north and south by tall, dense jungle, and to the west and east by a long river that flows through the lake. Upon the eastern horizon, you see a large ziggurat.
"Thankfully, my sailors are quite on top of reminders of important dates. Now, let's go meet Itz," Kukulcan says, taking you down the gangplank, to where you see a hairless diamond dog sitting by a campfire.
He turns, and leers at you with suspicion, not saying a word. Three perfectly symmetrical mats, filled with perfectly symmetrical lineups of foodstuffs and tools, surround him.>>751392>>751393>>751394>>751395
Mallea shrugs. "Well, Cerulean, Alder, you're not part of our ship, so you don't have to take Cutlass's orders, but it looks like she doesn't want us to split up, so I'll be following her direction. Do as you wish. Captain, I'll depart at your command – just give me a moment to write some instructions down for Godot and Thessaly."
"Weapons for a war?" Cloud repeats, taking another bite of fruit. "But why would they want you dead only? I would think they'd want that info, or for you to make more for them or something."
Two tons veered off to look at those piles intently, eyes, if they could grow, massive at them as he looked at the items with such awe and wonder in his face. He wanted to touch, and yet he mustn't as it would undo the careful work this strange dog had done.
"Man if I could eat I would totally wanna try one of these maybe. I don't know." he said as he moved around with surprising speed to look at these many things in detail. He had forgotten what he was supposed to be doing now because this was quite neat.
"Wait, wait, wait," Cutlass says, shaking her hooves in the air for everyone to slow down. "There seems to be some miscommunication here."
"What I'm proposing is that Alder, Cloud, Cerulean, and I - and two or three others if they want to come - go back to the Thunder Serpent to prepare for the attack on the Vault. When we get there, we will send Colobok, Sparkler, and Droplet back to the Hidden Dagger so that Mallea can give them their blood tests here."
"On a side note, since we'll be going to the vault soon, we'll need to be sure to bring the control rod that Cerulean retrieved and the sun crystal with us."
"Everyone good with this?"
"I think that works well enough, yes- thank you for the correction, Captain." he says, to Cutlass.
"OH! That makes way more sense, I think! Yeah, let's do that! And no worries, I've been carrying the rod around so it doesn't leave my sight," she says and pats the rod that is currently strapped to her back.
"Good, in that case, let's go get some chunks of sun crystal. After that, let's find Cloud so we can head over the Thunder Serpent together."
Cutlass looks to Mallea. "Where is the Sun Crystal being stored?">>751401
"Good thinking," Cutlass says with a satisfied nod.
"It is precisely because both of those are true that I turned away from weapons dealing and manufacturing," Godot says. "And it is why they gave me such a bounty. Originally, my bounty came in at 100,000 Bits – an attempt at intimidating me, and enticing bounty hunters to go after me. I raised my bounty – through certain ignominious deeds that I made no attempt to hide – to strongly discourage my pursuers from bothering me. In retaliation, they…"
He pauses. "Cloud, I am a doctor. A dealer of herbs and medicines that save lives at certain doses – and take them at others. I can turn food and drink toxic with but a glance, and counteract that poison just as easily. Do you understand what it is that I contributed to weapons manufacturing – a field so conventionally different from my own?">>751398
Itz somehow narrows his eyes even more than they already were, which would seem impossible at first.
Kukulcan clears his throat. "It appears he is busy. Now then, where is…?"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-mirYruXFo
"Hello, hello!" a voice calls from behind. You turn, and see a unicorn standing upon the gangplank, wearing a robe of intricate folds, the likes of which you have not seen in your travels. "Ah, I see you've awoken it. How good."
"Magoja!" Kukulcan says. "Mister Tons, you have this gentlecolt to thank for your presence here. It was on his recommendation we purchased you."
"It just seemed like the right decision at the right time," Magoja says sheepishly. "No need to offer me so much credit. How are you, then, Mister Tons?">>751399>>751400>>751401>>751402
"Ah," Mallea says, head slumping to the side as she gazes at the floor of the infirmary, body limp as if dead.
"I gather you had an ulterior motive," Thessaly deadpans.
"Fresh air, stretching my legs…" Mallea complains. "No matter. The Captain has taken the helm, and I have pledged my service.">>751402
"We set it up in the port town's plaza," Bee Holder says. "It's focused on that Metal Man we took in two days ago. Make sure you leave enough to keep him pinned! I've already had one crewmate incapacitated because of that thing, I'll not suffer another."
There was a pause before he tilted his head and clomped on over, grabbing a gentle hold of the robes "Kinda worried about my friend but pretty good. A bit stiff though from being like a statue for so long. You ever been a statue? It's not very fun, it's like… all black and you dunno what's going on for a long time and then you wake up and some people wanna take you on a quest or something."
"I promise you, Mallea," Cutlass says, consolingly. "As soon as we are down to just one crisis at a time, you will have your opportunity for relaxation and sight-seeing.">>751403>>751401>>751400
"Thank you, Bee Holder. I'd rather no go out there alone. Not that Ossie isn't an excellent body guard. But, more bodies are always better. Care to come with me?" she asks Alder and Cerulean.
"Oh, don't be like that," she says to Mallea in an attempt to cheer her up, "you can take a break, ya know. Like five minutes personal time. Or maybe more.">>751405
"Of course! I've got some words with Kukulcan if he brings up some stuff. Plus, you guys mentioned Crimson King was around, right? Well I think its only polite I show myself since we do have a wager going." She grins and chuckles a bit.
"Perhaps a member of the Bee Holder should come along with us then- I would be happy to come along, Captain Cutlass. Perhaps we can bring along Cane Shuga- just in case we run into danger."
"We still have to find Cloud, so we still have some time before we've actually left," Cutlass comments as they head off the ship to go get some sun crystal.
"Right- I will go track him down, then."
"Close!" Magoja replies. "I was frozen for quite some time, imprisoned in a deep place. Only through the aid of certain travelers did I manage to survive. I always say that my one power is being in the right place at the right time, and even then, that held true."
He seems unbothered by the grabbing of his robes. "Would it assuage your concerns if I assured you that your friend was not far off?">>751405>>751406
"First the manor, now this ship," Mallea grumbles.
Thessaly's eyebrows fly to the top of her head at this flippancy.>>751405>>751406>>751407
Bee Holder nods to Cane Shuga, who gets up, and snatches the last cookie from the tray before Kling-Klang can grab it. As Bee Holder and her other first mates swear vengeance upon Cane, he trots to the deck, snickering all the while.
Following Bee Holder's instructions, you head to the plaza of the port town, where you see the body of the Metal Man, guarded by mooks from both ships. Etch and Splendid are there as well, observing the Godray Crystal as it hovers over the body of the Metal Man. Much of the Metal Man is covered with palm fronds, burlap sacks, and whatever else the pirates could spare, but his center is exposed, and thus the light of the Sun Serpent keeps it pinned.
Etch nods as you arrive. Cane Shuga, wasting no time, explains the plan to break off some chunks of the Crystal for easier use. Etch thinks about this for a moment, then takes his tools, and experimentally taps at the Crystal's surface. After some time of testing it, he starts to break off hoof-sized chunks for each of you, leaving about half the Crystal left when he's done.
"We'll want more than one of these things if we can manage it," Etch observes as he passes out the crystal chunks to each of you.
He nodded so hard his head looked like it might fly off before he stopped and tilted his head in confusion wondering as to how this stranger might know this.
Confusion was all but written on his face.
"Well… I was just expecting to have Cerulean bite at it or something," Cutlass laughs. "This was MUCH more sophisticated."
Cutlass takes a chunk and some more chunks to give to others. She holds one out to her shadow for Ossie to take. "I wonder if you can even hold this…" she ponders aloud.
"Now, with that done, let's go find Cloud," she says with a sigh at the end of the sentence.
"Cerulean biting might cause a little bit too much damage, but it could probably work."
Cloud listens to Godot's story, sounding like a classic tale of getting roped into a bigger web than originally intended.
"…Was it chemical weapons?"
He answers after a moment of thought.
Cerulean decides to let Mallea be cranky for now and follows along with the others.>>751410>>751412
"Oh neat!" She takes the rock and looks over it a bit.
"Yeah, no, I don't really enjoy biting into really hard stuff like this. Maybe with my tail I could've, or it could've been some fun practice with my aura tools I got from the temple."
"What aura tools did you get from the temple!?" Cutlass asks, sounding a combination of exasperated and jealous. Or exasperated with how jealous she is.
Ossie takes it without issue. "No, I trained to bring objects in here," she says. "That way I wouldn't have to be naked.">>751414
"What was desired more than anything was a swift, and unquestionable, final word on the war. What better method than…"
Godot silently folds the paper and hands it back to you. Rather than say more, he looks past you. "We may discuss this further at another time. The Captain approacheth.">>751412>>751415>>751414>>751413
You find Cloud and Godot sitting at the jungle's overgrown edge, at the northwestern end of town, along with Godot's three bodyguards.
"Captain," Godot says. "Why do I have the dread suspicion you are here to abduct my research assistant.">>751411
"He won't be here immediately," Magoja says. "But it will not be overlong until you can see him again."
Kukulcan approaches with curiosity. "One of the Beestings
or the Secret Assassins?
"Mmm, I forget which," Magoja adds cryptically. "But speaking of them, Captain, isn't it about time we check in with Cerulean?"
"Oh!" Kukulcan says, his crest arising again. "Thank you, Mister Magoja. Two Tons, feel free to show yourself around. I've an ally to touch base with.">>751415
Your Conch begins to ring.
"I was more thinking about the odd condition of holding sunlight within a shadow," Cutlass responds to Ossie.>>751417>>751414
Cutlass can't help but laugh at Godot's question. "No way!" she says, in apologetic disbelief. "I am so sorry! This is just a ridiculous string of coincidences, I swear!"
"What did Godot rope you into doing this time?" Cutlass asks, looking to Cloud.
Cloud nods, taking the paper and tucking it away.
"Alright, I'll take your word on that.">>751417>>751416>>751415>>751413
Cloud turns, ears perking up as the others approach.
"Oh, hey guys. How's things going back at the ship with the testing?">>751418
"He didn't rope me into anything. I volunteered to help gathers herbs and plants."
He nodded and paused for a moment to look over the piles of pleasant symmetry once more before he went through and did his best to introduce himself to all of the mooks, Trying to get their names and birthdays so he could later send them gifts when said birthdays happened. That was what it meant to be a good friend.
"Ah! Hello, Cloud. We were looking for you- we were going to retrieve the last few from the Thunder Serpent. Care to join us?"
"To be clear, going to send them back to get their blood test would be the last step in this hunt for now, and the first step in getting back to the reason we came to this awful place."
"Oh, right. We still have a few on his ship still. We kinda lost track after meeting back with Cerulean and then all that stuff at Gullveig's, didn't we?">>751422
"Well there's still the blood where Hmm got attacked, Thessaly and Mallea need to do something with my eye to get that later."
"These," she says and shows a bunch of blacksmith tools that looked normal enough, but then had her aura flow through it much like water.
"Thanks to these, its how I made Torpedo, and put the spider guardian back together after I beat it up. The real Thunder Serpent let me keep them.">>751417>>751419
"Hey Cloud. Things are-" she's about to speak, but then her conch rings.
"Ah, sorry, gotta take this…I think. No clue who it is."
She reaches for her conch and takes it out.
"Heyo, Cerulean here!"
"It's not fair…" Cutlass grumbles.>>751423
"How soon and quickly can that be handled? If it's fast, we can do it before we go."
Cloud nods, not wanting to interrupt the phone call.>>751425
"Thessaly said I'd have to be put under, so I'm not sure."
"Mhmm- but, we are trying to mend it, now. Sort of."
"Sounds like something that should wait, then. We can't waste too much time. Kukulcan will only wait so long before he just attacks the vault himself."
"Cerulean!" comes Kukulcan's voice through the Conch. "What happened in the Skull Temple? Where are you now? We've not seen fin nor tail of you in quite some time, so I thought I'd check in so that we can coordinate our efforts to crack the Vault once more.">>751419>>751421>>751424>>751418
"Fine, fine," Godot says with mock annoyance (though it's hard to tell, given it's practically his default emotion. "Take him away, take him away. My guards and I will deal with this on our lonesome…">>751420
You take some time to thoroughly introduce yourself to each member of Kukulcan's crew. Most are pleasant enough, but some are quite overwhelming with their bombastic energy and physicality, clapping you on the back and shoulders despite you being made of metal. You're not sure if you can remember all those names, but they definitely remember yours. There's about 50 mooks in all.
"There's one more member," Two Reeds says, approaching. "A mare by the name of Juniper Yumeno. She should be with the Beesting
now, but we'll be regrouping in time. She and Cycle Kick are a package deal, normally."
"I don't know how long blood will last in there, so I intend to get it done as soon as possible. Kukulcan needs that staff, right? I don't think he'll do anything without it."
There was a delay "Oh you mean that guy who looked rad? Neat!"
Cloud stands up, popping the last of the fruit Godot gave him in his mouth.
"It is important we get the others back to our own ships. But hey, if you find any small sprouts or seeds of the plants you need still, I can grow you a whole stock from it."
He suggests to Godot.
"Well- ready to go, Cloud? If you need to hang back, I understand."
"He seemed to regard the staff as optional."
Then, Cutlass sighs. "Fine. We can at least see how long this will take."
"Oh, hey Kukulcan! Well, what happened was me and my friends passed all those trials," she says victoriously into the conch, giving a brief summary of her encounters, though she leaves out meeting the real Thunder Serpent and all that transpired there.
"But yeah, anyways, so I got that staff. Its really pretty."
>Last time, on PirateQuest…>>751702>>751703
"Off with you, have fun without me," Godot says, waving you away as a grouchy old bird (which he is) might wave away a fledgling (which you are not). >>751700
Two Reeds nods, though she doesn't quite seem to know your meaning. More of a nod to move the conversation along.
"Since you'll be working with us, we should get you up to speed on the situation. Both to begin the introduction, and to satisfy my own curiosity, I must ask: Have you been having any strange dreams – if you dream at all?"
Indeed, come to think of it, your CPU's information processing function has been producing strange subroutines as of late. In the middle of compartmentalizing and compressing the day's gathered information, you've been coming across strange visions not matching anything you've seen in your "Waking" state. Visions of a high Vault door, blurry, pixelated icons of humanoids, all in what appears to be diving equipment, waging battle against mechanical monsters that arise from thick jungle, like that which you've seen surrounding this lake…>>751702>>751703>>751704>>751705
"Incredible, miss Cerulean!" he at last exclaims, so loud that even Cloud, Alder and Cerulean can hear. "Unbelievable! Stupendous! This brings our plans along faster than I had hoped! Outstanding! If you were in my employ, I'd give you a raise – ask your Captain to give one in my stead!"
He clears his throat, calming down.
"Yes, well, I understand that you left our ship not long ago. But, if you are willing to come back, we might discuss the next step in prying open this damnable Vault in person."
As you discuss this, Cane Shuga and Mallea approach, Mallea having a noticeable bit of pep in her step from finally being let off the ship.
He stood there for a long moment staring into the sky "Huh… that's new… kinda neat though." he said before pausing again, mouth agape "So should I do something if I'm dreaming? I have to admit that these are weirder than the ones I usually have, but those are of back when me and my pal had fun… not like these werid things with big doors and weird art."
"Before we get going, CLOUD has to COMPLICATE everything and get some business concluded first," Cutlass announces to everyone pointedly.
Cerulean holds the conch away as it was a tad loud even for her, but she chuckles a bit as the compliments are poured on. She takes a moment to wave to Cane and Mallea before putting the conch back up to her ear.
"Aww, thanks. And sure, I think we were about to head to you to check up on our friends with you, so it works out.">>751706>>751708
Cerulean looks over at Cutlass and gives a slight inhale.
"Or…maybe might have to wait a bit. Dunno what's going on there, but I'll tell you all the juicer details when I get to ya…whenever I get to ya."
Cutlass waits until Cerulean is done with the conch to talk to her.
"We could bring you along next time, Mister Godot." he says, wacing a little in response and heading off.>>751706
"Oh! Hello, Mallea, Cane Shuga. Are you both ready to go, then?" he asks, fluttering his wings a little bit.>>751708>>751702
"Ah! What is the matter, Cloud?"
"Yea, I'm good to go.">>751708>>751711
"I'm not complicating anything, I had already established business," Cloud retorts to Cutlass's announcement.
"Thessaly and Mallea were going to use a spell to get the blood from my eye that I saw where Hmm was attacked. But Thessaly is working on dechipering a book of Gullveig's we found, so it'll be a little later. But getting back to the ship is fine, I can go with you guys no problem."
Two Reeds is plainly surprised. "Incredible… are you allowed to divulge information on your making…? Oh, don't answer that, lest I be distracted all the day long. To answer your question: No. If you are capable of moving during those dreams, which most of us are not, I would not recommend doing anything, except perhaps to run away from the Vault, and any of those strange beings who come forth from it."
She begins to elaborate. It seems that all who have been on this expedition have had those dreams in some form or another as they drew near to the island. Those dreams are of the Vault, and the tall figures who emerge from it are known only as the Metal Men. The mechanical beasts – machines of obsidian and ancient, advanced technology – are called the Watchkeepers, who arise each night to fight a losing battle against the Metal Men as they try to steal more and more of the island into the Vault.
"Any living being who so much as grazes the Metal Men are left as little more than husks," Two Reeds says. "We seek to plunge the Vault's depths in the hope of finding some manner of dislodging it from this Island, or this plane of reality, whatever the case may be."
She stops to think. "Is there aught else I forgot to mention…? Oh, and Kukulcan and I are gods of this island.">>751708>>751709>>751711>>751712
Mallea looks about between all of you, especially between Cutlass and Cloud over their dispute. "Dysfunctional… though I doubt that's a rare thing among pirates!"
"We'd be little better than mariners if we weren't," Cane says. "Come on, we're burning day snake light."
There's the way you took last time, through the Gibbon Village, a somewhat indirect route forced by the terrain and the omnipresence of the powerful Watchkeepers. However, the gibbons may be on high alert this time, given your last visit to the Village. And, with the Key of the High Mechpriest, the Watchkeepers may not be an issue…
>Choose either the Gibbon Village route, or opt for a new route. Majority rules. Roll navigation (with a collective +1 bonus from Cane's presence) if you opt for a new route.
"Neat." was the response as he really didn't seem to have a grasp of metaphysics or anything else that wasn't catching his immediate interest "Say do you think I would be a husk? I'm already made of metal."
"Considering we just robbed the gibbons, we should avoid their village. We'll be safe enough with Cerulean's staff."
>find a new path around the village [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Cerulean gets done with her conch call and looks to Cutlass.
"Hey, what's up? You looked like you needed to talk to me or something," she asks as she follows along, helping with finding a new path.
>New route option
[1d10+1]Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2
"Who were you talking to?"
"What, you couldn't heard from how loud he was," she asks with a slight laugh.
"Just Kukulcan. He hadn't seen me in awhile, so was checking up on how I did in the temple."
"Oh, you're coming along Mallea?"
Cloud asks as she and Cane join the group.
As they make their way forward into the forest, Cloud follows behind the others, keeping close to the group, still not all too comfortable going through the island.>New Route [1d10+1]>Echolocation if applicable>Echolocation: passive; Bat ponies can use the sound reflected off of objects to “see” their surroundings. Your ability to see is unaffected by darkness. While in low-light conditions, enemies without means of seeing in the dark (e.g. Light sources, Hawkeye, Phase Aura, Fourth Eye, Hornlight and similar effects) have DC+1 to all rolls against you, you receive a +1 bonus to all rolls against them, and you are counted as stealthed to them (But you don’t gain the Autocrit bonus of Stealth).Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
"Okay, so if I was following that conversation correctly, you were implying you'd tell him about our hunt for the informant?"
"Don't do that. Don't tell anyone who isn't in our crew. But, most importantly, don't tell Kukulcan. He works for The Crimson King - as does the informant."
>>751713>New route! [1d10]
"It is not rare, it seems. Cloud and Cutlass tend to be rather… like this. I am surprised neither has attempted to strangle each other."Roll #1 8 = 8
"What? No! Why would I tell him that stuff?!" She blurts out, sounding almost offended.
"I was just gonna tell him in more detail of what I went through. Like how I used my aura chains to ride on the back of a dragon."
Two Reeds pauses to think. "Hrm… it would depend on the nature of your consciousness… Watchkeepers possess an animal soul, which is of a lower order on the Chain of Being than mortals. Yet, perhaps owing to their mechanical bodies, they are less afflicted by the Metal Men's touch than mortals are. They are still lost, with enough exposure, but they are far more resistant, still. As for you – well, I suppose the answer lies in whether you have a soul. Then, have you one?">>751715>>751716>>751721>>751719https://youtu.be/H8NTdrl-MEI
You reach the hill's crest, where you previously turned south, and eventually found the bridge to the Gibbon's Village. However, as you survey the Sundial Plaza from this hill, you see that some slopes on its northeastern face look climbable. Opting then for a more direct route, you pick your way down from this hill, first proceeding north down a somewhat steep drop, before the path evens out toward the west, and leads into a low, bowl-shaped valley, full of high trees.
It's surprisingly cool, and even peaceful in this bowl valley, down where the sun-serpent's light can hardly reach. Ambient glows come from nearby moss and mushrooms. Cane takes point, hacking down thorny brush with a machete.
About an hour or so of hiking later, Mallea aggressively suggests a break. Despite her typical stoic demeanor, she's clearly sweating, unaccustomed to such a long walk as you are.
Obliging her demand, Cane clears a little space around a cluster of rocks, allowing you a space for respite.
"I… don't know… I never tried to find out."
Two Reeds nods. "Let us pray that you do not discover from a deadly encounter with the Metal Men. Now then, if you had any other questions, please ask away. Otherwise, feel free to explore the camp as you wish. I'd not venture far out without aid. Or, there's always lots of work to be done around here, if you've a mind to occupy your time like that."
>brief timeskip available when desired
He nodded and happily moved off to go and help the mooks out while they work. He figured it'd be the best way to make some more friends.
Cloud eases up as they journey along without running into anything. With the cool valley helping fend off the sun's rays, Cloud starts to look over the flora around them more, noticeably so when they pass the glowing moss and mushrooms.
When the protests for a break come, Cloud sits down, gladly taking the respite. Seeing how uncomfortable Mallea looks, his eye glows lightly as he attempts to conjure a cool cloud over her to give her some extra shade.
"You doing alright there?">Climate Control [Clouds] [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Are you alright, Miss Mallea? The heat is quite unforgiving… here, take some of my water." the griffon remarks, passing her a canteen. He'll take a seat and stretch out, before pulling out his guitar and tuning it idly.
>>751723>Cerulean, Alder, Cloud, Cutlass
You feel slightly dizzy, as, unbeknownst to you, timelines merge… but it is for but a moment, and once it is gone, you realize that Juniper is there as well. She in fact has been with you this entire time. She's looking through her glittery, sticker-covered grimoire while resting during the break.
"I know that feeling," Cutlass laughs when Mallea demands a break. "I wasn't so unlike you when I first became a pirate. To be honest, I hadn't noticed how much these years had… toned me," Cutlass says, sounding proud of herself.
"Where did you get all those stickers?" Cutlass asks Juniper, eyeing her book cover.Roll #1 6 = 6
"Ah! Doing alright, Miss Juniper? I could share some of my water, if you would like."
"Whew…hopefully that's just the heat," Cerulean says as she shakes off the dizziness and takes a look around.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Mallea grunts her thanks, and as Alder passes his canteen, she takes a wooden cup and a couple of odd tablets from her bag, pours the water and drops in the tablets, then passes back the canteen. The water fizzles, turning a light red, before she sips it.>>751730
"Are you calling me young and spry, or yourself old and wrinkled?" Mallea scoffs.
Juniper looks over the grimoire. "Oh, some of these I already had collected from the Black Market. These new ones" – she points to the more detailed and colorful stickers – "I commissioned your crewmate, Make Believe, for.">>751731
"Oh, I'm good!" Juniper says. "I'm super used to hikes like these.">>751731>>751730>>751727>>751732
As you sit and talk, Cutlass, before the others, notices a large Watchkeeper snake approaching the party from behind, nearest to Cerulean. >>751726
The mooks are friendly enough as you approach again. A cluster of them, whom you spy working out near the lakeside, usher you over. Other groups protest, but the lakeside mooks chase them off with some rough and coarse banter. The others walk away, swearing their vengeance just as coarsely.
One of them, commenting on your metal physique, asks for a spot of sparring and wrestling, if you can manage it. Apparently, your metal body makes them tag you as a good training partner for battle with the Watchkeepers and the Metal Men, if you are willing to humor them.
The robot assumed a thinking pose and nodded. He had a bit of a soft spot for grappling so he figured he could spend a nice chunk of time having fun with them as he posed a bit.
"I'm calling us both pampered and sheltered," Cutlass responds to Mallea. "At least as far as manual labor and a general level of cleanliness are concerned.">>751733
"I thought so," Cutlass nods to Juniper. "I didn't think a sticker enthusiast could have contact with my crew without having made contact with Make Believe."
Cutlass pauses for a moment. "Off the black market?" she asks suddenly. "Stickers?">>751733>>751732
"Cerulean," Cutlass blurts out with the same sort of mild urgency one might have when they see a big spider. "There's one of those obsidian things sneaking up on you. Use that staff."
"Huh, what?" Cerulean holds the staff out, but looks around frantically, not seeing the snake right away.
[1d10+1] Time to GrappleRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
As they rest and rejuvenate, and spotting Alder take out his instrument to play, Cloud takes out the boney lute he got before. He didn't get a chance to try it after tuning it, or showing it off to Chiu, when they got caught up in the investigation of Gullveig. And it was one of the last things he talked to Hmm about before that as well. He frowns, but then tries to play it, seeing if the lesson stuck.>Strum [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Cloud peers over as Mallea puts some tablets in her water, turning it red.
"What's that you got?"
"The giant snake right behind you!" Cutlass shouts in a combination of growing panic and annoyance.
"Ah, you are? Glad to hear it, Miss Juniper. I am quite used to the outdoors, though the heat… not so much, ehehe…" the griffon flicks his ears a bit, before strumming his guitar's strings a few times.>>751733
Alder blinks at Mallea, before asking "Ehm… w-what was that? Is everything okay?"
You put up a good effort, but despite your weight and your grapples, the mooks manage to lift and toss you a short distance onto the soft grass. They'll be paying for it though, as you can tell from them massaging their muscles afterward. They help you up in case you want to go another round.>>751735
Mallea scoffs. "Speak for yourself. I may get winded easily, but if you knew what mischief I get up to in graveyards, 'pampered' would be the last word on your tongue."
Juniper nods. "You can get anything on the Black Market, even Clear and Gray Market stuff. As for what
kind of stickers you can get there, it depends. Usually, stuff that would get censored, such as for themes of blasphemy, or subversion against kings and barons. Or, if they're made of restricted materials, or maybe counterfeits of particular company properties… but mine aren't so exciting. These Black Market stickers of mine are a custom order, and I happened to find someone there who undercut the usual commission rates…"
She smiles sheepishly. "Can you tell I'm kinda broke?"
Then, she gasps, making a connection she didn't think about previously. "Oh, but don't worry, I didn't scam Make Believe. He doesn't charge much either… he could really make more money if he wanted.">>751739>>751741
"Something I made myself," Mallea says. "They make any water fizzy and flavorful."
She takes out another couple of cups, and a tablet. "Pour yourself some water, and I'll show you.">>751741>>751738>>751740>>751736
As Cerulean produces the staff, the Watchkeeper snake slithers into your makeshift campground, with Cane Shuga readying his gun, and Juniper her grimoire. Mallea, however, is totally relaxed as she sips her fizzy drink.
As for the snake… it glances at Cerulean, then to Alder and Cloud as they have out their instruments. It observes them, waiting for a performance.
Mallea scoffs at Cutlass's panic.
"Huh?" Cerulean turns around, and then finally sees the snake.
"Oh! Well hey there big guy," she greets as it observes them. She looks at the staff with a head tilt and a satisfied sigh or sorts.
"Huh, guess all I have to do is hold it out."
Two tons took a moment and all but sprinted back into the thick of it.
[1d10+1] Round 2Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
"Really? Neat, Juniper has something similar to that too," Cloud says as he takes the cup. He looks over to Alder. "Got some water to spare?"
The casual talk cuts short as the Watchkeeper snake comes into view, Cloud nearly jumping back in his seat, wings spread to bolt until he sees it just sit there, eyeing his lute. He looks down at his instrument, slowing his breathing after the near heart attack.
"This must be karma for those snake-charmer jokes."
He mumbles to himself, making sure his instrument is in tune to avoid another attack from the dolls, and this snake, before strumming out a tune.>Song [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"Ah! Alright, sure!" the griffon chirps, pouring himself a cup of water and presenting it to the unicorn.>>751742
"Hmm? Sure, I can try a little something." the griffon says, strumming his guitar again.>[1d10+1]Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4
"You had to dig the holes yourself!?" Cutlass says in a mock sort of scandalous voice. "You didn't have servants to do it for you? How shameful!">>751742
Cutlass shrugs. "I didn't even know he was selling stickers. Besides, I don't think you COULD cheat Make Believe if you wanted."
"It strikes me as a bit odd, though. That you can be broke as a treasure hunter. Unless you're all just really unsuccessful.">>751743
Cutlass stares at the snake for a moment. "Cerulean, I hope this goes without saying, but do NOT give that staff to anyone."
"More like a big spender," Juniper says. "It's a vicious cycle."
Mallea either deliberately ignores your humor, or misses it entirely. "If I'm to prepare a corpse properly, or harvest my desired materials, or whatever the cause may be, I do it myself, lest it be done poorly.">>751747>>751746>>751745>>751743
Perhaps due to the atmosphere of worry and anxiety around the snake's appearance, Cloud and Alder's impromptu duet is more than a bit shaky. The Watchkeeper snake is quick to lose interest, turning instead to Cutlass. Sir Pent crawls out of her hat, rearing up in a defensive posture as he prepares to defend Cutlass, and even Monty looks up, leering at the Watchkeeper. However, the Watchkeeper just seems content to hang out near her and Cutlass.
"Wonder how much control you can command over them with that staff," Cane Shuga thinks aloud. "Cerulean, care to give it a shot, test its limits?">>751744
You very handily redeem yourself, learning quickly the mooks' tactics, and manage to wrassle the lot into submission despite their best efforts to the contrary.
While the mooks take a moment to recover and catch their breath, you spy something to the south… two shapes emerge from the jungle. It's hard to tell at this distance, but one appears to be a dachshund diamond dog, and the other, a young colt in a blue gi.
Much like the big lug he is, Two Tons hops off the pile of victory had had made and bounded on over to meet the friends he hadn't made yet.
"Alright…hmm…let me see…ahh! Got it!" Cerulean steps forward and taps the staff to get the snakes attention.
"Play dead," she says in an authoritative voice.
Cloud tenses up as his performance isn't the best, expecting the snake to lunge, but when it turns away to Cutlass instead, opting to chill around her instead, he let's out a sigh of relief.
"S-So, uh, Mallea, how about that drink?"
He asks, holding out his cup to try the tablet.
"Ahaha… it could have gone better for us, no?" he suggests, gently ruffling Cloud's mane. In the mean time, he'll take a sip of the now-flavored water Mallea gave him.
"You and I had very different upbringings…" Cutlass deadpans. "And, not even because of the whole demon/necromancer thing.">>751748
Cutlass smiles at the odd circumstances that has lead to yet another snake taking an interest in her. "My moniker should have been Snake Queen, at this rate," she laughs.
"A bit more practice would help for sure," Cloud comments, giving his mane a flip after the ruffle. "Not having a giant snake for the first performance would be a plus too."
Immediately, the snake flops over, mouth open as if in the throes of death-agony. A moment later, it's peeking up at Cerulean, even as it plays dead, as it awaits her next command.
Mallea then obliges Alder and Cloud, pouring their drinks. The result is a fizzy, strawberry-flavored drink, quite sweet and tasty, and quite energizing. Juniper, upon seeing this, starts up a conversation about the subject. Juniper looks like she regrets it quite quickly, as Mallea takes the opportunity to begin a long and academic lecture on chemistry.
Cane Shuga takes the chance to sit in a nearby tree to keep watch as you recover and recouperate.
>roll navigation when ready to get moving again.>>751749
The two have a start, and brace themselves as they see you running up on them. However, they don't attack, and after you stop, there's a long pause where neither of them says anything, but they glance back and forth between each other. Eventually, both stare at you…
At last, the dog gasps, and shakes his head. "Whoops! Forgot, I actually have to talk, talk.
Uhh, hey there. I'm looking for a mister Kukulcan. You seen him?"
He gestures to the colt. "Short stuff here says he doesn't think he's met you. He's Make Believe."
"Think he's back on the boat, my names Two Tons of Fun. But you can call me whatever nickname you want." he said as he knelt down next to Make Believe and grinned "I was like a statue for a bit but I don't normally do that, so it was a learning experience."
Cloud glances over as the snake plays dead, deciding to keep away from these constructs even with the safe control Cerulean has over them.
He takes a sip of the drink, and then takes another chug.
"Wow, this is great! Got any more of those tablets to spare?" Cloud asks eagerly.
When Mallea get set on her lecture of chemistry, finishes off his drink, slightly intrigued.
"Oh, hey that reminds me. Mallea, you got anything cool you can do with Esthis Sap?"
Alder snickers a little as Juniper is given a long, dry, academic explanation of the drink tablets. He finishes his water and begins to pack up to continue on.>Navigation: [1d10]>>751754
"Mmm… strange audiences here, yes. On the plus side, most performances ought to be less nerve-wracking!"Roll #1 9 = 9
"Is there any alcohol in those?" Cutlass asks as she eyes the drinks Mallea is handing out.
Once the others are ready to go, Cutlass leaves as well.
>[1d10] navigationRoll #1 4 = 4
"You're right, nothing can be more intimidating than a giant snake."
Cerulean giggles a bit and pets the snake.
"Alright, now go and go back to what you were doing, but do not attack anyone I'm traveling with, okay?"
She then looks to the others.
"Alright, I think I'm good to go."
Make Believe tilts his head at you, as if confused by your very existence. He then cautiously reaches out, holding out his hoof. It is empty at first glance – until you see the glowing sphere of Aura atop it.>>751759
"I refuse to serve you alcohol," Mallea says. "Even if you were of age, I shudder to think what this would unleash upon the world.">>751757
Mallea blinks. "Tis like asking if a recipe calls for water… well, not quite, anyway. It's a rare and potent thing, yet unmatched in its versatility. Though, not everything calls for it. It enhances nearly every combination of chemicals you can pour it into, and of course, not all is well when everything is at maximum strength. Some tinctures are downright poisonous if they're too strong. I suppose you could always sell it for no small fortune, but it would be a grave insult to whoever entrusted you with it.">>751762
The snake gets up at your command, and slithers off.>>751762>>751760>>751759>>751759
Between Alder's aerial directions and Cane's navigating on the ground, you manage to suss out a decent route westward, directly from the abandoned port town, to the mountain upon which the Sundial Plaza was built. The path up the mountain is somewhat steep and more than a little treacherous from loose rocks and skittish little critters here and there, but with some effort, you manage to climb up the northeastern face of the mountain, and reach the Sundial Plaza, just as you did many days ago.
Mallea, taking another breather, trots over to the western end of the Plaza, peering out over toward the Dreamer's Moon with her spyglass.
"Hullo…" she mutters. "Make Believe and Schnitzel seem to have beat us here… are they speaking with an automaton? Captain, come and see this."
There was a long pause before the robotic form slowly reached out as if to touch the ball. Then he tried to touch it.
"Hmm? An automaton? What kind is it, if I might ask?" he says, scooching over to take a look.
Cerulean waves to the snake as it slithers off, then looks at the staff.
"Wow, that was actually really easy!"
"Wait, is one of those obsidian things actually able to talk," she asks and moves closer, also curious.
The automaton had a very equine base form, to the point of just looking like a big metal pony with armor plating that seemed to be capable of moving and redeploying itself.
"I drink all the time," Cutlass objects. "It's not THAT bad!">>751763
"They… beat us here? Why are they even here at all?" Cutlass asks, growing more confused by the second.
[1d10] to see what Mallea is seeingRoll #1 5 = 5
>Last time, on PirateQuest…
Our crew escorted Mallea, along with Cane Shuga and Juniper Yumeno, toward the Thunder Serpent,
so that Mallea could collect the last of the blood samples from Prisma, Paraiba and Droplet, along with their mooks. They were able to take a shorter route because of Cerulean's Key of the High Mechpriest, which rendered docile the Obsidian Watchkeepers.>>751764
The aura sphere disappears as you touch it, shrinking into your hoof as your body absorbs it. You soon hear a new, youthful voice in your head.Uh, hi! Can you hear me? Did it work?
The colt before you waves at you, suggesting the voice belongs to him. It definitely sounds like it matches.
"Either way, you know if Kukulcan's taking inquiries right now?" the diamond dog asks. Introduce yourself,
the colt scolds the dog.
"Eh… right," the dog says, obviously harboring trepidation about giving out his name. "I'm Vice-Captain Schnitzel, of the Hidden Dagger.
Mallea leans back, grumbling like a cat forced into a bath as you all scooch in to try to peer through her spyglass. She passes it to you then squeezes out the back to get some personal space once more. Through it, you can see the automaton speaking to Make Believe and Schnitzel, though you cannot hear what's going on.
"Perhaps Kukulcan was hiding a crewmate," Mallea guesses. "As to why it remained hidden, I can hardly guess."
"It?" Juniper asks. "Oh! Does it look like a robo-pony?"
"You are acquainted?" Mallea asks.
"Yeah, he was below-deck for the longest time," Juniper continues. "I honestly just thought he was a decoration we might have gotten as a promo deal on the Black Market. If he's moving, it might be for the first time as far as I know."
"I don't care about any of this! I want to know how and why Schnitzel and Make Believe are here!"
Cutlass pulls out her conch and says into the code that calls Schnitzel.
"Hmm. Well, maybe we ought to check it out.">>752059
"That too, of course."
"Sorry, I have to take this," Schnitzel says to Two Tons, pulling out a vibrating conch from his bag. He holds it up to his hear.
"Vice-Captain Schnitzel of the Hidden Dagger,
" he says, not bothering to walk away.
I think he's on the boat. I dunno if hes doing stuff with Ink but he's probably able to talk. I dunno. I got super distracted by this guy making piles of stuff and then I started wrestling the crew."
There was a moment before the lightbulb kicked in.
"Oh hey you can do that aura stuff my friend can do… Cept his doesn't make voices in my head." He said as he poked his head "Thats kinda neat. He'd probably go insane if I could be in his head all the time." He laughed.
"What are you doing? Why are you here? HOW are you here?" Cutlass asks in a huff.
"Oh go ahead, I'll be quiet." He said midway through his sentence.
"Hey, its not made of obsidian and stuff. Though guess we'll find out once she calms down a bit," she says with a giggling motion to Cutlass on her conch.
Cloud steps over to the spyglass to see what everypony else is seeing.
"Wait, they have a robot over there?"
"Captain!" Schnitzel greets. He nods to Two Tons, rolling his eyes as he points at the conch. He at last turns about and heads over to the lakeside further to get out of earshot.>>752062Oh, another Aura-user? Cool!
Make Believe says while Schnitzel walks off. Well, I was gonna talk to Kukulcan, but I wanna know more about your friend, if you don't mind. Are you busy?
He starts to trot toward the Thunder Serpent,
hoping you'll follow him.>>752065>>752066>>752060>>752059
"Shall we carry her down there?" Mallea asks. >>752063
"The how and the what aren't all that important," Schnitzel continues. "But, I'm here… because I'm weak, cap."
He starts to sniffle.
"Everyone else can do super-cool, super-strong Aura techniques, and all I can do is… oh, I'm useless! I can only see it!
His sniveling gives way to tears. "So I'm here to train with Kukulcan's crew, 'cause they're stronger than ours! That way, I can get stronger, so that what happened to Zerk and Cap'n Plague can never happen again! That way, I can defend you and all our friends!"
While he cries, you recall what he said to you via Make Believe's telepathic connection earlier in the day – about developing a special Aura Ability that would ensure the Informant's apprehension.
"I mean I guess so. But I gotta be careful about what I say. He told me not to go blabbing too much to strangers." He said as he followed the colt "But I guess it wouldn't hurt to talk a little."
"Sure, we might as well. If the automaton is talking, it must be decent, at least."
"Tempting as it would be to get a free hug on her, I think she'd get super mad if we were to do that. Plus, she's on the conch. I think that'd be a little rude to do that to her right now."
Cutlass stays silent for a moment. She contemplates at first calling him out for his crocodile tears. But, she then realizes it's not for her benefit.
"I see," Cutlass responds. "I would have preferred if you told me first."
"Also, I SAW you roll your eyes at me. I'm coming down now."
Cutlass heads down toward the two of them.
"Yea let's hurry down. I met somepony was looking for a robot, so this could take out a lot of jobs at once."
Make Believe laughs. Right, sounds like he knows his stuff. Don't worry, I won't ask you to divulge his abilities. But I take it that you can use Aura too, right?
Make Believe heads back around the camp, until you spy Captain Kukulcan speaking with Two Reeds, Sir Diamantaire, and Cycle Kick. They sit about a table, pushing about figurines between them.
Make Believe pauses. Hmm… let's wait until they're done. I'll want Schnitzel here for this.
After some time, Schnitzel approaches, frowning as he sees the Captain conversing with his inner circle. "Okay… Two Tons, your crew and mine are officially working together – as I'm sure you're aware. But, I've never really directly spoken with the guy, let alone asked him for a favor. Any advice?">>752071
You see Schnitzel whip about, trying to pick out your vantage point from which you saw his cheeky gesture. He says nothing as he tries, and fails, to play it cool. "S-sure, Captain, I'll see you soon.">>752069>>752070>>752071>>752072
As you come down the small mountain atop which rests the Sundial Plaza, you see Schnitzel walking around the Dreamer's Moon, from the east end to the west end. There, he speaks a bit with Make Believe and the automaton as they watch Kukulcan and his inner circle, along with Cycle Kick, speaking around a table. Nearby, Kukulcan's crewmates perform their daily tasks.
You are still far off, so it is unlikely that either the trio or Kukulcan's group have noticed you.
"I… Dunno. I don't think So. But maybe? I never really tried." He adjusted a bit "Most of the stuff I've seen is him doing stuff with other stuff. I never really had to wonder if I could do it because he could do it ya know?"
He seemed rather pensive on the matter as he mulled over if he could.
"As for him… I unno he was pretty friendly so… Be friendly? He offered me to join in for a cut of the loot so I think thats friendly."
"If no one else has any business to conduct, I think it's time we had a business meeting."
Cloud looks ahead, wary of Kukulcan's group and Cycle Kick after all the events earlier. He changes his focus to the robot with Make Believe and Schnitzel, heading over towards them to see this construct up close.
"I don't know much of business, but yeah, let's start the talking stuff!"
"Sure- I think that would be for the best. It seems like we are unnoticed as of yet. so why not head down?"
>>752074Sounds like a lotta stuff,
Make Believe says with a silent laugh. But the reason I ask is that I never really wondered what an autonomous life made with Aura would be capable of doing. It makes sense that, regardless of your own capacity, you'd be able to see Aura because you've been made with it. Are there more automata like you?>>752074
"Friendly, huh?" Schnitzel wonders. "Hmm… okay, thanks pal."
He approaches Kukulcan. "Scuse me, Cap–"
"Schnitzel, my lad!" Kukulcan squawks, flipping about. The crest atop his head flies up, as does his hat. While Schnitzel stands there, wide-eyed at such a loud greeting, Kukulcan catches his hat. "What may I assist you with?"
"Ah… well, sir, it's just that… frankly, I don't think I'm strong enough to be of any use to you. This expedition and everything we've seen has all been quite overwhelming. If it's not too much to ask… I'd like to request your crew's help with training myself, and my friend here, Make Believe!"
He bows his head, subtly shivering. Kukulcan reaches out… and pats him on the head.
"Of course, lad!" Kukulcan squawks again. "But only on condition that you relax, and not be so formal. I agreed to take your crew, and the Beesting,
as partners in this grand expedition, and I will not have fear and worry undermining our beneficial relationship."
"Th-thank you, sir," Schnitzel stammers.
Make Believe snickers, but nods his thanks as well.>>752075>>752076>>752077>>752078
Juniper pauses as Cutlass says this. "Sh-should I make myself scarce, Captain?" she asks Cutlass.
The machine pony shrugged softly "I am fairly certain I'm the only one W made. He made me when he was a kid to keep him company and I've been with him basically since I've been built. I still kinda worry about him but the captain said they'd help me find him.">>752078>>752075>>752076>>752077
Said robot was all but oblivious to the approach of any others.
Cutlass shrugs at Juniper. "You can do what you want."
"Hello!" Cutlass calls out to Kukulcan as she approaches.
As they approach, Cerulean gives a wave to just about everyone.
Cloud let's Cutlass handle her business talk, walking over to the robot to give him a look over.
"So, you're the talking robot the others talking about?"
"I would not say you have to, Juniper- up to you, I suppose." The griffon says, shrugging a little bit before waving a bit and following after Cutlass.
>>752080Only one, huh? I guess you two must have been pretty close… how long's it been since you were created? You must have seen a lot of islands together.>>752081>>752082>>752083>>752084
"I don't wanna be alone," Juniper mumbles, keeping close by you all.
"Captain!" Kukulcan shouts again as you approach. "Ah, and dignitaries from the Beesting
as well. Come, sit. How fortuitous your timing! We've much to discuss."
Kukulcan gestures for his mooks to bring more stools for you all to sit. You can see that the gathered participants are sitting around a topographic map of the island. Multiple stone figurines – in everyone's likenesses – are positioned at various points on the map.
Cane Shuga frowns as he looks at the map. "You wouldn't happen to have a copy of this map we could take, do you?"
"I'm afraid we shouldn't even be using this map to begin with," Kukulcan says. "For, you see, this map is outdated."
"I'm afraid before we discuss any plans, some business needs to be conducted," Cutlass says in a businesslike tone. "It's come to my attention that our arrangement has become… untennable."
Cloud glances over, noticing a figurine of everypony on the map.
"So, uh… what's all that for?"
Alder gives Juniper a soft pat on the shoulder, tugging her along to keep her close to the group.
"Outdated how, if I might ask? Have parts of the island, ehm… disappeared?" he asks, before glancing to Cutlass, and waiting.>>752080
The griffon peers at the machine pony for a little while he waits for Cutlass to continue, trying to get a better gauge of what it is.
Cerulean looks at the map, namely her own figure, and inspects it closely and curiously. She even opts to give it a poke, much like a little kid.
"Let's see he built me when he was 10 so… About 11 years old I think? And yeah we've been all over. Entered the place not too long ago.>>752083>>752088
"Huh? Oh hey new friends. Nice to meetcha!" He said beaming at the two.
>>752090Must have been something of a prodigy to make a robot at the age of ten! So… what can you do? If that's not rude to ask.>>752087
"We have been using these figures to map our plan of attack south along the island," Two Reeds explains. >>752089
They are expertly made, and quite stylized for simplicity, characterization, and silhouette readability. Yours in particular looks hungry.>>752088
"Thanks," Juniper says. She puts some confetti into your feathers.>>752089>>752088>>752087>>752090
"Exactly right, Mister Alder," Kukulcan continues. "Much of the southern half of Cuauhtemoc has been completely liberated
from this world. Stolen is a more precise term. If any of you have ventured southward in recent times, you will have more than likely met with extreme resistance by the Watchkeepers. Our scouts have reported as such."
After a moment of consideration, Cane Shuga nods. "Ours have, too.">>752086
Kukulcan leans in, putting his hands together as he thinks on your opening statement. "Go on, Captain. What do you mean?"
"Plan of attack?" Cloud questions, looking to where his figurine is. "When were you planning on telling us about this?">>752090
"Nice to meet you, a friendly robot is great for a change," Cloud greets, holding out his hoof for a shake. "Hey, so just to ask, do you know a pony named W.W.?"
"Ah! Uhm, hello. It is nice to meet you too… robot? Automaton?" he cocks his head to the side.>>752091
Alder blinks a couple of times, looking at the confetti in his plumage, before letting out a soft giggle and nodding. "Of course.">>752091
"Hmm. Concerning, but about what I expected. So, as the Watchkeepers push further north, will more land be stolen?"
"Before I begin, I feel it is important to… define some terms. Let me ask you this: would you say that Cycle Kick is a part of your crew?"
"Oooo, neato." Her attention then shifts away from the figure now to the automaton. She circles around it as she looks it over, more curious than aggressive.
"Huh, neat, I've always seen big, metal things like you in the ocean, but they were all rusty and not moving and some even had octopi living in the head part. Do you have any in you?" BEfore an answer is given, she's already trying to look all over Two Tons' head.
"Oh well I can shoot some magic and I can change my armor plates around to create different combat modes of I need them." He said with a grin as he gave a small flex of his plates.>>752092
"Huh! Yeah that's my friend! Do you know where he is?" He asker all but picking Cloud up and shaking him as he did so.>>752093
"You can call me Two Tons O'Fun. Or whatever you want." He said stopping his borderline assault of Cloud for a moment to answer before turning back to the other.
"Over the course of the expedition's unfolding," Kukulcan says. "But hiding it from you was never on the table. But, like the nature of my and Miss Two Reeds' stolen divinity, revealing it to you and not being met with complete incredulity required time, and first-hand knowledge of the situation.">>752093
"Right. The more ground they lose to the forces of the Vault, the more of the island that is stolen within, and the faster the island shall vanish, unless we stop it. Our progress has been slowed the most by the Watchkeepers, whose defense protocols have been so overwhelmed that they have come to see the very souls they are meant to protect as enemies.">>752095>>752093
"That is," Kukulcan says, turning to gesture to Cerulean. "Until one of your crewmates achieved the unthinkable, and retrieved the Key of the High Mechpriest! I must congratulate and thank you once more, Cerulean.">>752096>>752095>>752094>>752093>>752092
Kukulcan nods. "Indeed, he is."
Make Believe says. Well, I suppose it's only fair I share some of my tricks in exchange, right? You've already encountered my telepathy… so do you like stickers?
"And, if he were to be afflicted by some sort of state of being that would have some sort of impediment on his will, he'd still be a member of your crew, right?"
"For example… I don't know… If he were possessed or something. He'd still be Cycle Kick. And, thus, he would still be a member of your crew, yes? Even if he were acting of someone else's will?"
Yuh huh! Me and W used to use some back when he was a kid.">>752095
His mouth hung open as he mulled on it and he gently popped his head plate revealing the gears and servos that were inside so she could look "Do ya see any?"
Cloud stumbles in place a bit from the over-eager shaking.
"Glad for that wish now…" He mutters before recollecting himself. "Well, I'm Cloud. And yea, he's up on Agyl Isla— Oh! I was supposed to meet and completely forgot!" Cloud blurts out, remembering the call with W. W. just before the incident.
"Well, it'll be fine. I found you after all. Funny, he did mention you might've sunk to the bottom of the ocean. Guess he was half right."
Cloud pauses, looking around the automaton.
"He also mentioned you'd have a green flame. What's that about?">>752097
"Yea… time wouldn't have helped since I'm not all too keen on being back on the front line against any of those things out there."
Cerulean's curiosity only intensified as she looked inside. It reminded her a lot of the lowest part of the temple with all the fancy machine bits.
"Nope. I don't think anything would be too comfy in all that moving stuff.">>752097
Cerulean looks over as her name is called, making her grin a bit with a head rub as she finds herself in the spotlight a bit.
"Heheh, yup! There were a lot of neat things in there. And I learned a good bit, too," she says, giving Kukulcan a bit of an awkward stare, "a lot of very
"Hrm… how do we slow it, then? Just with the staff?" he asks, cocking his head to the side.>>752099
Alder gives Cutlass a look, just to see where she's going with it.>>752096
The griffon nods a little, and says "Ah! I am Alder."
>>752100Well, my stickers are special. They can change a person's strength and personality, giving them bonuses or weaknesses per the sticker. You wanna try?>>752102
Two Reeds notices your look. "What do you mean?">>752103>>752101>>752102
"With the staff, we shall be able to take control of the Watchkeepers en masse," Kukulcan continues. "Thus, we may rally them against the Metal Men in concerted fashion, and organize a counter-attack against the Vault. It opens at night, and closes when the Sun Serpent appears upon the eastern horizon. Two options are therefore before us: Attack at night, and invade the Vault when it is open, or attack in the day, and find some manner of opening the Vault when the Metal Men are at their weakest, made immobile and invisible by the sunlight which curiously deadens them so.">>752099
Kukulcan leans forward, his demeanor changing. "Let's cut to the chase, Captain. I am aware of the… situation… involving Cycle Kick and Juniper Yumeno."
"You knew!?" Juniper suddenly shouts. "But– but Captain! Are you just okay with it?"
"It was – following your run-in with her,
one of two ways to save both of your lives. Neither you nor Cycle should be able to remember what happened, however."
"Save us?" Cycle asks.
"I shall inform the both of you of the full details at a later time," Kukulcan says. "For now, for the sake of not letting this discussion become overly convoluted, I shall keep it brief. The two of you, Cycle and Juniper, perished during an ill-fated confrontation with her.
Luckily for you, you ended up – body and soul – upon the Black Market, where our benefactor – and now, my subordinate – purchased you."
Cycle shudders, and his mouth moves, but he speaks with the Crimson King's voice.
"Money, as I have said, is a useful thing."
Cycle grimaces, rubbing at his chin.
"I have already told the Crimson King this and I'll say it to you as well," Cutlass says to Kukulcan. "I don't care. I don't care that he is possessed by the Crimson King. I don't care how it happened. Who or why is not my concern."
"I have one simple question for you. Is he still a member of your crew and your subordinate even when the Crimson King is in charge of his actions?"
He pursed his lips and began to search his compartments for a bit trying to find where he had put the flame "Oh heck lemme look.">>752102
Well thats good." He said popping the plate back on.>>752103
"Nice to meet ya Mr. Alder.">>752101>>752104
He took a moment to open all his compartments which caused a small team orb of fire to emerge and gently float up between him and Cloud "There we are."
He promptly looked to Make and nodded so hard the joints in his neck audibly groaned.
"Does the door itself turn invisible like the Metal men, or is it disappearing entirely?" Cloud asks. "Cause if they're able to steal away this whole island, I'm not going near that Vault unless I know I won't get stuck there."
When Kukulcan mentions that Cycle and Juniper died, Cloud looks worried, but says nothing on the matter to avoid the topic from being worsen for them than it already is.>>752106
Cloud looks at the orb of fire, it being pretty much what to expect of an orb of fire.
"Huh. So is that your power source, or just a fancy trick?"
Cerulean blinks as she notices her stare and tries to play it off.
"Oh, nothing much really. Just maybe something to talk about later…privately. Ya know, not to make a scene or anything, ya know?"
"Its kinda like a conch phone but unique to W. He can make them and we can stay in touch most anywhere. But I don't think it works under the Ocean or wherever we are."
"Wait- they, uhm… they died? I did not realize someone could be Bought back to life. Are they… well, properly alive?" he asks, at a bit of a loss.
Make Believe takes a small metal case from his bag, then puts a sticker resembling a chimpanzee upon your arm. It takes a few moments. Walk around and just do what comes natural.>>752107>>752108
Two Reeds shrugs and nods to Cerulean. Then, to Cloud, she continues. "It does not seem like it disappears under the sunlight. We have not seen it ourselves for many centuries, not since Cuauhtemoc first sank, and we fled. But, unless something has changed between now and then, which is doubtful, it should still be the same as it was then.">>752105>>752110
"For my answer to make any sense, you must understand the 'mechanics,' so to speak, behind their situation," Kukulcan says. "Juniper and Cycle are victims of demonic possession, but if you presented them to any priest who lacked a particularly keen spiritual sense, you would not know it. That is because the possession has been made smoother through hypnosis. In the process, it wiped out all symptoms of the possession."
"This – this is just getting better and better," Juniper says, lightly stumbling as her expression wavers between aghast, disgusted, indignant, and despairing.
"A hypnosis, for which I can provide proof, that you requested," Kukulcan says.
Cycle and Juniper both fall silent with disbelief.
"Originally, the Crimson King intended to possess you with the Yellow Jester as mere disguises, with no consideration for what either of you wished. However… during the process of our negotiations, regarding him joining the expedition, I pulled a little trick on him, and he signed away his loyalty to me. To put it succinctly – he is bound to my orders.
"Back to Cycle and Juniper. When we first met, I offered to let them join my crew. I explained to them what their role was to be, and offered them the option of hypnosis to blot their deaths and subsequent resurrection-through-possessions out from their minds. As far as they would know, they had been my crewmates for the past year.
"Most of the troubles from possession come from the conflict of souls within the body. Through hypnosis, these conflicts can be smoothed over… like living with a roommate who says little, but always pays his half of the rent and does his assigned chores without fail. If they did not agree to all of it, down to the smallest dot on the smallest 'i', I would not permit the King or Jester to possess them."
"So, we agreed…?" Cycle says.
"As I have said, I can provide proof of the matter," Kukulcan says. "And so, to answer your question, Cutlass, yes, I consider them both my crewmates and subordinates. Despite everything – no, because of it – Juniper and Cycle are able to retain their wills."
"Hrm… after this's done, I want to see the proof," Juniper says.
"I'll take care of that," Two Reeds says.
"The yes is all I needed," Cutlass says, sitting on the stool. "On to business."
"When we began this expedition, the deal you made with me, Kukulcan, was that I and my crew would receive all gold and treasure that is found on this expedition. Collectively. This is a single expedition across all three crews. And, that means if it's found on this expedition and it is treasure, it goes to my crew."
"The exception to this that we both agreed to is that anything of historical significance goes to you. Now, I am still entirely for this deal. But, the minutiae of it has gotten… complicated."
"First of all, the Crimson King over there continues to insist that he will take any treasure he finds for himself, despite this being directly contradictory to our arrangement," Cutlass says, pointing to the Crimson King.
"Second, this is also obviously contradictory to the deal you made with the Bee Keepers. So, first, we need to figure out a deal here that doesn't contradict itself."
"Well… they are still them, at least. That is… ehm, that is something, I suppose. That is a very confusing process, though…"
The automaton nodded and pondered upon what he had to do as he began to scan the area for something as he seemed to be mulling over his thoughts.>>752110
He decided to do what seemed natural and give the nice Griffin a hug with his surprisingly strong metal limbs. He missed the talk of treasure as he hugged the poor bird.
Alder lets out a surprised squawk and squirms free after a moment or two, before shaking his head a little. "A-Apologies, I am… not quite as fond of touching from those I do not know particularly know. No offense."
"Huh, neat. Well after all this stuff down here is done, I can bring you back up to W.W. in a jiffy. He was pretty concerned about where you went.">>752111
"So you don't know where it is then."
Cloud responds flatly.
You… don't really feel all that different, come to think of it. No more or less like a chimpanzee.>>752116
"On the contrary, we know where it is, but getting there is our current main obstacle," Two Reeds says.>>752112>>752113>>752116
"I have a history of speaking… bombastically when thrilled, and few things have captured my attention like the chance to restore this island," Kukulcan says. "Though, I must thank you for your patience, and your willingness to negotiate. Other pirates would be more prone to just shooting."
"I better get the Captain on the Conch for this…" Cane Shuga says. He takes out his conch and dials up Bee Holder.
"Let's keep things simple and brief – a three-way split on the treasure should suffice," Kukulcan says.
"Ok but you also said you haven't seen it in centuries. What if it changed up how it works since it's been working on this island for so long?">>752117>>752112
Cloud looks over as Kukulcan starts to change up the treasure distribution.
"Well that seems like a poor deal from before. I'd take finders-keepers over that."
Cloud pauses, then thinks a moment.
"Yea how about that. If all the treasure is in the vault, the treasure should be divided on how many ponies each crew sends in there to get it."
He smiled from ear to ear if that's what those were. "Aww I knew he would miss me. Even if he keeps going on about how I give him headaches.">>752117
"I think this ones a dud." He said looking back.
"No," Cutlass says flatly. "I would not have come on this expedition for that deal. And, I will not continue the expedition for that deal. You forewent your share of the treasure, and I intend to persuade you to honor that."
"I'm willing to split the treasure with The Bee Keepers if I must. But, I won't partake in an expedition on terms that are so blatantly not at all what got me to agree to go in the first place."
[1d10+3] normal persuasion>Using 3 TBPRoll #1 6 + 3 = 9
"So how'd you end up down here anyways? From the sound of it it seems like you two normally stick together."
"It is alright, you did not know." he says, ruffling his wings a little bit.>>752117>>752120
"Ah, he did? I forgot that entirely."
"Because I didn't share that information with anyone else."
"My interest has never been with the treasure," Kukulcan says. "Take what you will and divide it as you will."
"I am fine going along with what Cloud suggests, Cutlass," Cycle says, with the Crimson King's voice. "You will get nowhere arguing with that one. He is a peculiar pirate, truly caring more for archaeology and his island, more than even the treasure the Vault steals from his island!"
"W-would you stop doing that!?" Cycle barks, poking himself in the chest.
"Finders Keepers is usually the law of my ship anyway," Bee Holder says over the conch.>>752119
Make Believe frowns. That's what I was afraid of. Just like with the obsidian robots, it seems it's not working on you too quickly. Keep it on for a little while, but don't keep it on longer than five minutes totall, alright? I'd like to see just how long it takes.>>752122>>752118
"A fair question," Two Reeds says to Cloud's objections. "If you are unwilling to deal with the Vault, we shall not force you, in accordance with our ship's law."
He visibly deflated but then perked back up and looked around at Make "Why shouldn't I keep it on that long he asked with a worried look.>>752121
Well I don't really know. We were out in this market and then something hit me. When I woke up it was because these guys were doing stuff to wake me up."
Cloud is shocked at hearing what happened, and leans in close to Two Tons to whisper.
("Did Kukulcan or his crew kidnap you?")
Cerulean hears about the split, and mulls over it a bit.
"Hmm…I dunno. I kinda have a bet going on with Crimson King here. Be a little tough to keep things challenging for him if I gotta split stuff with him, ya know?" She gives a slight grin to Cycle Kick, but it was directed to Crimson King more, obviously.
>>752125Longer than that, and the effects will remain after the sticker's been removed. More than ten minutes, and they could be permanent. But,, I wouldn't do that to someone I'm working with! Promise.
You begin to feel a most peculiar urge to climb a tree.
("I don't think so. They've been pretty nice to me and they even woke me up. Plus their crew was nice and wrestled with me. He paused ("Why are we whispering?")>>752128
He nodded as he began to eye the mast of the ship, gently pulling Cloud along with him as he debated trying to climb it.
"And, again I refuse. This need not turn into more of a competition than it already is. I'm willing to go 50/50 with the Bee Keepers. And, that's generous of me considering the previous arrangement I made."
"As for this one's input," Cutlass says, pointing to Cycle Kick. "I have no reason to care for or about it. He is not a leader here. And, he is bound to his captain's word."
"In fact, I'm inclined to say that we should make this into an unbreakable vow so that no funny business happens behind anyone's back."
"Hmm? I, uhm… I am not fully sure, actually- When you say finders, keepers, you mean like… the more crew we send, the more we get, yes?"
"There is no need for any of that," the Crimson King says once more. "I shall take what strikes my fancy. You may squabble over the rest among yourselves."
"Cutlass," Bee Holder says. "I highly doubt this is going anywhere other than a back and forth. Besides, pooling our wealth at the end and trying to split it down the middle is a fool's venture anyhow. No telling if everything we find that's worth stealing is going to be neatly quantifiable in its worth, or divisible. It's not like we're only going to find gold coins in there, I imagine. Statues, boats, weapons… everything like that will complicate an equal split further.">>752130>>752129>>752127>>752131
"If all of this negotiating is now done…" Kukulcan says. "We've plans to make for how we'll strike the Vault. We can't exactly divide up the spoils before we've even claimed them, wouldn't you all agree?"
("Cause you don't want to accuse somepony of kidnapping out in the open. And this is just a personal talk between us.")
Cloud whispers as he follows Two Tons along, not that he has much choice under the robot's strength.>>752131
"Pretty much, yea. Don't want any crew not putting effort but getting a ton of the treasure, right?"
"I still stay 'take what you claim', but I'll go with Cutlass on all the treasure going to our two crews."
Cloud comments to Kukulcan.
"As for the Vault, I'm not going near that until I know more about it."
"Hmm…got a point there. So then what's your plan with all this?"
The robot nodded quietly and began to try and climb the mast while leaving Cloud where he was.
(That makes sense.)>>752132
"I mean we could keep talking."
"Hmm… I agree with Cloud on this personally, but we do not even know the contents of the vault, yes. Would you happen to know… well, anything about the vault that might make this easier? Anything could help."
Last time, on PirateQuest…
Our crew gathered near the Thunder Serpent
once more, where they met Two Tons o' Fun, an autonomous mechanical pony, who could see Aura, despite his apparent inability to wield it. He was the newest member of Kukulcan's crew following his awakening in the ship's cargo hold, and was quickly brought up to speed on the crew's significant figures, as well as the goals of the expedition: to stop the eldritch entity known as the Vault, and its minions, from stealing any more of Cuauhtemoc than it already had.
Cutlass also stopped to renegotiate the terms of her alliance with Kukulcan, and in the process, learned more about Juniper and Cycle, as well as how they had come to be in Kukulcan's employ. They had, apparently, perished some time ago during an encounter with someone Kukulcan only identified as "her.
" The Crimson King later found their bodies and souls upon the Black Market, where Kukulcan offered them a choice to join his crew if they, through demonic possession, agreed to serve as disguises for both the Crimson King and the Yellow Jester. According to this narrative, they could have the possession process go smoother through hypnosis to make them forget everything from their deaths to the possession, replacing it with a narrative of having been Kukulcan's crew for quite some time. The two agreed, and thus joined his crew.
That divergence aside, Cutlass wanted Kukulcan to abide by his original agreement to let her have all the treasure, in spite of the Crimson King's desire to claim the treasure for himself. Kukulcan cared little for treasure, preferring to let them argue it out while he tried to lay out the agenda for breaking into the Vault.>>752434
The desire to climb, once placated, turns into a desire to swing and leap from tree to tree – or mast to mast in this case – and an overwhelming compulsion to ook.>>752133>>752432>>752433>>752435
Kukulcan nods. "As I was saying, our current knowledge of the Vault is limited to what we recall from the first attack, my and Miss Two Reeds's divine spirits were stolen away, as well as the various legends, folklore and pirates' tales we have accrued over the centuries following."
He turns a number of papyrus sheets to you, bearing various illustrations of a terrible sea-monster, rendered variously, such as as a towering, dragon-headed serpent, a chaotic chimera of monstrous sharks and eels and whales and other feared sea-beasts, and, most commonly, as a writhing tangle of ridged tentacles, perhaps belonging to some kind of octopus, or other many-limbed beast.
"The common elements of the stories, we believe, point to a sea-beast you may know as the Hunger, the Voidmaw, the Devouring God, the Insatiable Lord… its titles are many. Each story, however, tells of some key weakness, a lone thread holding it back from consuming more and more, eternally. Though the stories disagree, we believe the Vault to be an expression of that weakness. If there were truly a sea-beast of legend such as this, why else would it not simply eat and eat until all was naught? I believe that it wishes to – but for this reason or that, it must send this entity, this Vault, with all its weaknesses, in its stead. The Vault is therefore some part of the Hunger."
Cloud looks over the sheets as Kukulcan talks.
"So the Vault is the Hunger's stomach then? Or it's mouth? That's not all that encouraging to make anypony want to go in that."
There was a pause before he began to ook a bit. For a minute or so. Then he pulled the sticker off and set it down "That was kinda neat. A bit of uh… existentmalawhatever nightmare, but all in all I could see that being fun another time."
He craned his head to the others "As long as I get a share for me and my pal, then I'm fine with whatever you guys wanna do."
"Hrm… perhaps this is the 'mouth' of the beast, then? It seems to be drawing things towards it though, like a lure… since, the Vault causes the dreams, yes?"
"Hmm…maybe it made a wish with a genie…," she says, pondering out loud and remembering why she's been more hungry than usual for a very long time now. Or maybe this new level of hunger is her new normal?
"Okay, so we know that, but how will that help with going inside with the staff? Are we just beating this Hunger up through the Vault or something?"
"Tell me, why should I care for or about anything you just said when you blatantly ignore me?" Cutlass says once Kukulcan is done talking. A clearly offended glare is written on her face.
The robot paused for a moment and then looked at her "Well I reckon it's because getting something is better than getting nothing?" he asked with really no hint of malice or sarcasm in his tone.
"Oh, I'll get something either way," Cutlass responds ominously.
"Well that's nice. Would probably be better to do it nicely though. Don't want people to get all mad and fight over it."
"That is where what we have witnessed comes into play," Two Reeds adds. "For we saw the Vault open, when we were but godlings, and we bore witness to the last generation of this island's divines charge inside, to tear and stab at what they thought was its wretched heart. Attacks to the exterior did not work, thus the gods surmised that something inside had to be the locus of its power, just as all things, immortal and immortal have their center. They left nothing unturned, blasting at the walls, the pillars, even at the treasure itself the Vault held within, all seeking to strike at its weak point, something that could be called its heart… to no avail."
"It was only as Miss Two Reeds and I escaped that we uncovered the trick," Kukulcan continues. "For we stole away a certain object – and the Metal Men fighting inside and out the Vault fell over, as if dead. Only, it was far too late. Our divine spirits had been lost, and the elder gods, who had fought to buy we godlings time to flee, lost every part of themselves – every bit, stolen away, leaving them lying there, helpless, as the great doors sealed shut afore them."
"The Vault's weakness lies in its name," Two Reeds says. "Stealing its contents is the only way to stop it, lest it devour ever more of our world, with each time that it opens. You may think it too dangerous to enter, but you will, one way or another.">>752441>>752438
cycle Kick just sits there, one hand twiddling his demonic coin, his face half-cocked in a smirk, the other a frown – probably both Cycle's displeasure at his situation, and the King's annoyance.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaMyVSovvjw
Kukulcan squawks, his crest flying up again. "Enough! Your Majesty, you shall take no treasure, on my life! Cutlass! You and the Beestings
will get what you take and divide it as you please, as you said not long ago! Am I clear!?"
Cycle shrugs, and speaks with the King's voice. "So long as I get my daily wages, it is as you say."
"Thank you," Cutlass says with a nod and a smile.
"So, you're saying that stealing from the vault weakens the metal men? Or, do we need to steal something specific?"
"So just taking stuff weakens it?" Cloud repeats in question. "I… guess that makes sense. What did you steal though to make them all stop?"
When Two Reeds says they'll all enter, he looks to her, forgetting the whole gravity of gods and the Crimson King as he glares at her.
"Is that a threat?"
The robot would find a mild annoyance in being annoyed but he seemed to have lost focus for the moment and he began to gently poke the cool teal flame in front of him "Oh Dubya, I miss you so much." he mumbled quietly
"That…actually makes sense. I know I'd feel super tired and stuff if a bunch of whatevers stole food from my stomach like that," she comments, giving her stomach a bit of a rub as she was making herself uncomfortable at such a thought happening to her.
"Well, I'll be entering of my own will, if that's what you're implying! I didn't go through that temple to not use this fancy staff. Oh! I think I just got a great idea, too!"
"Well… theft happens to be something I am rather decent at, admittedly. I do not know about essence-draining Vaults, but perhaps I could get something done." he remarks, flicking his tail.>>752447
"It does, yes- it would be like starving it, if it is devouring things. It is concerning, though- if this thing can 'steal' gods, how exactly can we get in and out?"
"Yes, but I am not the one threatening you," Two Reeds says. "Cuauhtemoc himself sunk to the bottom of the sea to imprison the Vault, bringing himself to the edge of death for this, his final noble act. What will you do, should the Vault escape, and place itself on another Island? Shall the Hunger devour you later, or shall you aid us now in crushing its mouth shut beneath the weight of what we shall steal from it – of everything it has ever stolen, from us and others!?"
Kukulcan gently lays a claw on her arm, then turns to you. "Never let it be said that I force anything upon my crew, or upon my partners in business. If you should wish to leave, nothing shall stop you.">>752446
"Although we stole something of great power and value," Kukulcan begins. "I do not believe it need be something specific. The principle, most likely, is that the more valuable the item stolen, the greater the damage done to the Vault.">>752450
Kukulcan catches his hat (which flew off when he snapped at Cutlass and the Crimson King) and smiles at you. "Full glad am I to have your assistance, then."
He claps you on the back.>>752449
As Two Reeds calms a bit, she looks your way. "And what would that be? Please, if you've even a half-baked idea, we would welcome any help.">>752448
Make Believe pokes you, holding out his hoof. If you're all done with the sticker, I'll take it back. I'm the only one capable of safely disposing of them.>>752446>>752447>>752448>>752449>>752450
"As I asked before," Kukulcan continues. "If you are willing to venture forth with us, I shall elaborate further on our more immediate tactics, and our longer-term strategies. What say you?"
"No further questions from us," Bee Holder says.
Make Believe, Cane Shuga, Juniper and Mallea nod.
He sighed and handed it over before looking to the captain "Uh yeah, sure."
"I guess either by being quick, or hoping it doesn't notice us.">>752451
Cloud looks between Two Reeds and Kukulcan, not entirely trusting either.
"Alright, whatever you say."
Cloud nods with the others.
"I'm not 100% on this yet, but go on."
"Go on," Cutlass nods slowly.>>752453
"What!? Cloud being reasonably cautious about something!? What is the world coming to!?" Cutlass says with a snide grin.
"Well, its more of an idea for when we get in, but I was thinking: we have a bunch of chests, right? What if we gather up our chests…and put wheels on them?! Oh! Or even make them float on water, and I could use my aura to make water as I go! Thay way, instead of just taking maybe a couple of meals from this stomach…vault…thing, we could take out an entire buffet!" Her stomach growls at her own word choice.
"If you want to rush in for treasure, go ahead. But I'm not running into some god-eater room and risking leaving my future foal without a dad over some gold."
Cloud retorts casually.
"Such maturity!" Cutlass says sarcastically as if she's impressed. "We'll see how long it lasts."
"But what if its more than just gold? What if there's a bunch of other things, like a crib! Or even a shiny, gold whatchamacallit?! I remember I liked those when I was a little pup."
"I seem to be particularly good at both of those things, so… here is hoping, yes?">>752451>>752453
Alder takes a second to look the hat over as he snatches it out of the air, before shrugging a little. "It seems if we want to know what we need to know, then we have no other choice. Continue on."
Kukulcan gestures to the topographical map once more. Illustrations of mortal-made landmarks, such as the towns, the roads, the Skull Temple and the Sundial Plaza, are all drawn out in a careful fashion. You see that there are many other towns besides the port marked on your map. Notably, there is another great structure, approximately the size of the Skull Temple, straight across from it, at an equidistant point from the island's center as the Skull Temple is. The Sundial Plaza is in turn equidistant from that place, and the Skull Temple, but oriented eastward. The center of the island also is marked with a great settlement.
The majority of the figurines are placed at either the abandoned port, or at the Dreamer's Moon. A few others are placed elsewhere.
"As I have said, this map is outdated, and we are in need of a new version as soon as possible," Kukulcan says. "That is our current objective."
He gestures to the great settlement. Cerulean recognizes one of the figurines put here: A dolphin inside an aquarium on wheels. "Currently, a small section of my forces are scouting the Capital, located here. As the grand hub and axis of this island in its golden age, he who controlled the capital held control of all major roads and rivers covering the Island. If we can retake it, we will have established a far more sound position for later attacks.
"Assuming we can take the Capital, we will then move on to the Ruby Round, located south of it. Part ceremonial ground, part sporting arena, it shall serve as a forward base ere we push onward to the final attack.
He points to the southern tip of the island. "The issue is that we know little of the current structure and makeup of the southern end of the Island. That will determine our attack routes, escape routes, and methods of attack. We know that the Ruby Round yet stands, as does the Capital, but little more besides that."
"Questions so far?" Two Reeds asks.>>752455
"Yes, well…" Kukulcan fishes for a polite way to say this… "A smashing idea! We had already something in mind with our empty barrels, but we've enough material from defeated Watchkeepers that the construction of wheeled plunder chests is not out of the question."
"Yes. I don't know what any of that means."
Not a question but perhaps a valid point.
"Hmm… so, we will scout out from the Capital once we take it, yes? Is there a particularly safe way to study or scout out the southern end? Taking the capital will likely be difficult, though…">>752460>>752455
"Oh! Perhaps we could make something out of the watchkeepers that could help? I would be of little use there, but maybe it would be worth trying."
"I'm sorry… I'm a… tad bit confused. You make it sound like we'll be waging some sort of prolonged war against them. First of all, I question whether that is the soundest strategy against something like this. But, more importantly, why recruit for this the way that you have?"
"You've been advertising this as a treasure hunt expedition. Clearly, you were looking for people who are skilled in seeking things out and getting what they came for. A quick, in and out, grab and run."
"And, that feels the best way to deal with this situation too. So, what is this strategy REALLY aiming to accomplish?"
"Don't worry, you'll learn it too if you ever find a stallion." Cloud says, reaching over to give her a condescending pat on the head.>>752458
"A crib could be nice, but I could probably build one of those with less risk. But uh, what gold thing are you talking about?">>752459
"If anypony could pull it off, it'd be you.">>752460
"Retake it? From who, the metal men? Shouldn't it be easy to just move them out of there during the day?"
Cutlass glares at him as she accepts the head pat. "I hope Sir Pent bites you…" she grumbles.
"Actually, I did find some special tools in the temple that can easily work and make Watchkeepers, like I did with Torpedo here," she says, motioning to the obsidian bulldog.
"I'm still kinda new with them, but worth a try.">>752460
"Uhh…one, from all that info you gave: are we gonna have enough time to do all that?"
Alder flicks his tail and smiles at the compliment, before saying "Hopefully I can put my new trinkets to the test, too.">>752472
"Oh! New or not, you did an amazing job, then!"
Kukulcan nods. "I found myself in that position often when I, as a young godling, had to acclimate to living in a mortal body. To put it simply, we are moving south across the island, taking territories as we can, to make our eventual assault on the Vault easier, and to build conting– backup plans if we should needs retreat.">>752464>>752466>>752472>>752469>>752468
"Right," Bee Holder adds. "We attempted to scout out the southern end ourselves, to little avail when all those stone bugs came out to greet us."
"An obstacle we faced as well," Kukulcan says. "But forgive me for singing Miss Cerulean's praises once more, for her recovery of the Key of the High Mechpriest will be instrumental here. As she has attested, she can command, and even rebuild, the Obsidian Watchkeepers, This shall help us retake the Capital and Ruby Round both. In fact, recovering the Key was the first phase of our plan, now accelerated from this boon.">>752469
"It is not so simple as that. Slight exposure to the sunlight paralyzes and weakens them, while full exposure renders them intangible – but not dead. They are able to rise once more when darkness falls upon them… even when seemingly dead. This is one reason why they are so damned difficult to push back. This is why I told you to put the body of the Metal Man that you recovered under tarps, and ensure that light would be upon them at every hour, both from the Sun Serpent in the day, and the godray crystal at night. >>752472
Two Reeds nods. "As far as we know, we are under no time limit, but we have sketched different variants of this plan for if our time were limited for whatever reason." >>752468
"Originally," Kukulcan begins. "That was the plan as we originally envisoned – while my crew, aided by the Watchkeepers, dealt with the fighting, our hirelings would run in, grab what they could, run back out, and repeat. It is, in essence, still the plan. However, the strength of the Vault's forces, combined with our numerous earlier setbacks at the hands of the rampant Watchkeepers, has required certain adjustments. The raid on the Vault will be much easier from the north, with both the Capital and the Ruby Round in our control. though, if you do not wish to partake in the capture of either, then I cannot force you. I will, however, ask that the holder of the Key of the High Mechpriest assist in the capture of both holdings so that we do not wage unnecessary battle against the Watchkeepers."
"Perhaps you are wondering why we cannot simply attack the Vault from the south, or above, with our flying ships?" Bee Holder suggests.
"Oh. Well that sounds smart. I can help fight pretty decent I guess," he said bounding up as the little teal flame followed and began to gently circle his head.
"Mmm. So, maybe we tak some time to try and make something out of the ones we have wrecked, and then use those to help us push further south? Less Watchkeepers hounding us would let us map things out better, and study our surroundings.>>752478
"What is, ehm, the flame circling you, if I might ask?"
"Huh, well neat. That's a lot more planned than I could've done…though then again, I don't really plan, so this is kinda nice having it done already," she says with a little bit of a laugh.
"Haven't you tried trapping them when they're paralyzed? If you can't kill them then locking them up in some cage should've been to go to."
"A more direct plan DOES seem more reasonable when we have an army of dispensable giant robots on our side," Cutlass nods to Bee Holder.
"Though, on that note, I suppose an indirect route COULD prove advantageous for gathering more forces. We could gather more obsidian soldiers as we go. By the time we get to the vault, we'd have a whole army at our disposal."
Cutlass nods. "Aright, find. I see the sense in this plan for now."
Hmm? oh! It's my way of communicating with my friend… well it would be if it worked down here."
"You use a flame to communicate…?" Cutlass asks with a raise eyebrow.
"Hmm… is it too far to communicate properly?"
I think it doesn't work like… under an ocean. Though I guess no flame does…">>752485
Like it's linked to his magic? and we can use it to talk to each other like we have those conch phones. But he's the only one who can make them so it's a secret fire phone."
"That's a useful idea," Cutlass contemplates. "Is that an aura ability?"
"Can…" Cutlass looks Two Tons up and down. "Whatever you are… have aura?"
"We have, but the method is impractical between the time and resources it requires to subdue one of the Metal Men," Kukulcan says. "Recall that the majority of them are rightfully called giants.">>752478>>752479>>752480>>752481>>752483
Kukulcan nods. "We have considered both the aerial and seaborne routes before, but neither are more viable than the direct approach. Whatever's happening at the island's southern tip is generating great waves that repel those who would approach from the south, and an aerial approach, even with cannon bombardment, leaves us at a vulnerable position at risk of retaliation, and with no easy way to take away our stolen treasure from the Vault a safe distance. Thus, our current plan."
He separates your figurines from the pile, and pushes them away from the Dreamer's Moon. "Apart from Cerulean, who I must ask come with our main attack force to first take the Capital, and then the Ruby Round, you are free to choose how you would like to proceed with this plan. You might assist us in taking both holdings. You might venture south on your own to scout ahead and help fill the map. You might proceed west of the Capital to see what might remain of the other towns once situated on the island's western end. Or, you may try something of which we have not yet conceived. Though it may hamper me, I will not order you, for I am not your Captain, only request, and show my appreciation for, your assistance. What are your thoughts?">>752490
have Aura," Cane Shuga says. "At least, that's what Manny told me before we left. It's just that we use our Aura directly, and deliberately, to interact with the Aura fields of other objects. Hence, why some people can make objects float with Aura. All they're doing is connecting their Aura to the object's Aura, and influencing it, one way or another, to produce floating."
"No it's like… I guess something tied to his magic? His Aura stuff is… way more destructive than a talking fire."
Her sight beheld a large robotic equine that seemed to be trying it's hardest to match a Pony, With expressive eyes and a mouth the moved in an almost eeriely organic matter, though with a moment more, one would notice that all the details were slightly off, almost as if one had an incomplete picture with the subtle off difference. Also of note was the armor plates on this equine seemed to be made to shift mass.
"And I… I dunno. I had a talk with the sticker guy over there about it… I kinda wish I did though." he gave a small almost excited laugh "Would be cool to do that…">>752492
"Oh neat! I get to pick which team I'm on?"
"If we can't kill them and we can't trap them, then how can we retake it?"
Cloud looks over the map, and the options available.
"Do you think there's anypony else down here in those other towns?"
"I think we've split up enough," Cutlass thinks out loud. "We should turn this attack into a blitz. Gather a huge army and use it before the enemy knows what to do about it.">>752493
"You… are confusing…" Cutlass says as if that's the answer to the question she's been looking for.
"Honestly, I'm with Cutlass idea of staying together. I wouldn't mind having a few more extra eyes keeping me safe." She looks to her little companions.
"Not that you guys didn't do anything, but I think you could use a break from keeping safe like you did," she says smiling, petting each of them.
"Ah- makes sense, I suppose.">>752492
"Towns on the western end? Hmm… it might be good to check that out, though it would likely not be safe to travel there alone… if we find survivors, it could be of value though, no? As for taking the capital… I cannot say much about whether to split or not, but it might be best for me to go with whichever group is epxected to bear the brunt of it. It would be a shame to lose too much to make what we gain worth it."
"Oh? Do you want me to explain it again?">>752500
"Oh… happy to have you agree!"
Each pet eagerly accepts your petting.>>752495
"By weakening them with our theft, until they can be cast once more into the pit from which they came," Kukulcan repeats. "I should note that I have witnessed the Watchkeepers win far greater success at this endeavor than fighters of our size.">>752500>>752498>>752496>>752495>>752493
As you consider exploring the western end of the island against taking the Capital as a unified whole, Kukulcan looks over at the map. "Like upon the eastern coast, the west was also noted for its ports and trade hubs, only, owing to more favorable topography facilitating transit, the western end ws the more economically successful and developed. I doubt any living souls are left there, but if they were, they'd be there."
"We have enough crew that we could send small detachments to the West without weakening the attack on the Capital," Bee Holder notes. "I'll have a small force scout it out while another division joins you at the Capital, Kukulcan."
"My thanks," Kukulcan responds.
Cloud says after a pause to Kukulcan's explanation.
As Kukulcan explains the western coast, and Bee Holder chimes in, Cloud remains silent on the matter, thinking it over.
"If you just WAITED for us…" Cutlass says with a huff.>>752501
"I don't think it'd make sense, even if you did.">>752502
"If it's a port, I could have those left on the Hidden Dagger sail around to it. They could explore it on their way to reinforcing us," Cutlass suggests.
Cerulean giggles at the pets' eagerness.
"Don't think I have much else I can think of. I'm more interested in the parts where I smash things, maybe bite things, too.">>752504
"I'm sorry, I was just really, really curious! Then I got more curious the further I went in…and then next thing I knew, I got what we needed."
"Oh… uh sorry then.">>752502
Hmm, staying with the main group sounds fine I guess. Or I could go with the other guys."
"Mmm. Thank you, Captain Bee Holder." the griffon says, bowing a little bit. "In that case…">>752503
"Mmm? Cloud, what do you think? You seem rather conflicted."
Two Reeds and Sir Diamantaire play out a mock battle on a corner of the map with some of the unused pieces, while Kukulcan steps aside to give Cycle Kick/the Crimson King a serious talking-to, presumably over the earlier conflict. Meanwhile, Cane, Mallea, Juniper and Ossie gather around to process what they've learned and discuss possible plans of attack. It sounds like all but Mallea intend to head into the battle at the Capital.
"For obvious reasons, you understand," Mallea adds.
"I'm… not sure. Fighting those things…" Cloud pauses, a small shudder of fear rolling through him. "I don't know if I'll be able to do that.">>752512
Cloud looks around as everypony else is geared to fight in the Capital.
"I need to think on this."
"I actually don't," Cutlass says to Mallea, raising a curious eyebrow.
"I… I-I understand. I need to be more careful- I do not want any others to get hurt like before." he says, folding his ears back. "I do not want you in danger again unless you feel like it is right- maybe head back to the Beesting and think it over there?">>752512
"Of course, Miss Mallea. I understand."
"I can stand in front of ya if ya want. I'm pretty big and can take a hit."
"So Thessaly and I can do one another's hair, makeup and hooficures," Mallea answers.
Cerulean thinks over a bit, then tells her little posse to stay put as she moves a bit towards Kukulcan and the CKs. She makes herself slightly known as to not be accused of eavesdropping, but waits for them to address her in case they were talking. She got the somewhat serious look on her face like when she mentioned wanting to talk about something earlier in the meeting.
"Maybe I should…">>752516
"Thanks, but, I don't want somepony else getting hurt for me."
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
I mean I'm made of metal. Better I get hit than your fleshy parts. They can't take the same punch."
Cutlass stares at Mallea for a moment. Then, it clicks.
"Ah… Seems a waste of your time to have volunteered to come out here if you're so tied down by your work."
"You can make your way back to the Hidden Dagger when it arrives at the west port. So, go with Bee Holder, I suppose."
"I am… sorry this has been so hard on you. I do not know if promises to keep you safe would do much after last time." he says, scratching at the back of his neck. "Either way, perhaps a chance to talk with Chiu, and maybe even the Captain. The captain helped me work through some of my issues."
Cycle/Crimson continues to twirl his coin as he looks up at the displeased Kukulcan.
"…will have the path to the Heart that you so seek," Kukulcan says. "But only if you can cooperate with pirates who distrust you for obvious reasons. The contract we drafted with Magoja plainly ruled out this kind of…"
Kukulcan freezes, then looks back at you. "Cerulean. With what may I assist you?"
Immediately, Cycle/Crimson pocket the coin.>>752513>>752514>>752515>>752517>>752516>>752522
Mallea nods, then turns to Juniper. "You, demon mare."
"…That could have a good ring to it if I dress it up a bit," Juniper admits.
"Come with me to the Thunder Serpent's
infirmary," Mallea orders.
"Juniper Demon! The Demon of Dressup! …Eh, it's a fallback choice at best."
"Evening will be upon us soon," Cane says. "Let's secure some lodging for the night."
"We already camped here," Ossie notes. "I assume we can just head there. You can have Splendid's lean-to."
Meanwhile, Make Believe and Schnitzel head over to Two Reeds and Sir Diamantaire to discuss their training.
"Yea, but you'd still get busted up some. And we're a ways from your friend to get you repaired."
"I mean I was made to take some damage. Grasnted it's not punching robots level of damage but hey we got some time for me to bang them out.">>752524
"Oh do we have tents or are we sleeping under the… ocean since I don't think there's any stars down here."
"…Yea, that might help. Thanks, Alder.">>752526
"I guess. Let's keep the damage to a minimum then so W.W doesn't get worried when he sees you again.">>752524
As Mallea goes to head off with Juniper for the infirmary, Cloud turns, following after.
"Hope you don't mind me tagging along."
He says, with a mixture of concern and worry.
Last time, on PirateQuest…
The negotiation between Kukulcan, Cutlass and the Crimson King ended with Kukulcan reminding the King of their Contract – a powerful force that demons cannot disobey or violate, once it is sealed. The King had no choice but to relent, and thus, Cutlass was assured that Kukulcan's crew would take no loot – at least, not to keep.
This, they discussed during the next phase of their meeting. The Vault was an eldritch appendage of the Hunger, a legendary sea-creature capable of swallowing entire islands, and an appetite to match. For reasons yet unknown to Kukulcan, the Hunger was unable to freely rampage, or else the world would have likely been devoured by now. Instead, it could only send forth entities like the Vault.
But, Cuauhtemoc, the Island-Turtle, sacrificed himself to bind the Vault where it had appeared upon his back, thus sealing the Vault here. Still, little by little, the henchmen of the Vault, the Metal Men, would steal away Cuauhtemoc until naught remained, and the Vault could go free to devour another Island. It had, however, a key weakness. If valuable things were stolen out from the Vault, the Metal Men would weaken, and even perish, depending on the item's value.
Kukulcan's plan, then, was to coordinate a massive heist upon the Vault. The direct assault would be the most effective, and to this end, Kukulcan sought to capture two territories – the Island's Capital city, and a sporting arena south of it, called the Ruby Round. Controlling these areas would give them a base of operations close enough to the Vault at the southern tip of the island, allowing them to stage their assault once they were ready.
There was also a port on the western end of the island that their mooks could investigate, hopefully finding something that may be of use to the heist.
"Hrm… little else to be done tonight then, yes? Might as well settle in and sleep.">>752951
"Of course. Whatever you decide, I trust it will be the best decision for you."
"Then, if we are done planning, I will go ahead and call the Hidden Dagger," Cutlass offers, making sure that the proceedings are completed.
"It would be nice if we could get him before this for the extra help. But I'm sure he won't mind having to bang a few dinks and dents out of me. He likes to tinker."
Cerulean gives a brief smile and nod to the two, letting the two wonder how much she heard, but then looks serious.
"Answers," she plainly responds, "and real ones. No beating around the anemone or that nonsense like it feels you you have been. We can speak somewhere less crowded, but honestly, I learned some things in the temple that has me questioning you…a lot."
Cane nods. "A good night's rest sounds in order, even if it's a mite early. We've got much to plan for."
"I'll update the Beesting
on what we've discussed," Bee Holder says via Cane's conch, before hanging up as well.>>752526
Two Reeds gasps. "I was not aware you could sleep. My apologies for neglecting to assign you a room, but to be fair, you were cargo until just recently. I shall make arrangements for you anon.">>752956
Kukulcan furrows his eyebrows, then the King nods, and heads away toward the Thunder Serpent.
Kukulcan gestures for you to follow, then heads for the perimeter of the jungle, his hands folded behind his back. "What can I answer for you, then, dear Cerulean?">>752951
Juniper shakes her head. "Not at all. Consiering the circumstances, I'm surprised you all trust me to the degree that you do."
The three of you head into the ship's infirmary, where you see Droplet, Paraiba and Prisma, as well as the mooks. They seem to be doing alright.
Droplet smiles as you enter. "Well, well, another visit. Have we been missing much?"
"Indeed," Mallea says.
She begins to relay to the three of them everything suspected about the informant, including the attack on Gullveig, and the blood test.
"I hope so.">>752955
"Huh, yea. I guess getting him would probably make things easier on you…"
He mutters, trailing off.
"Anon? No my names Two Tons." he said with a laugh "I mean yeah I sleep, everybody needs to sleep now and then. I think it was mainly so I didn't bother Dubya too much.">>752958
He nodded again "I think he'd like you. He likes neat people. And you're pretty neat."
Cerulean follows Kukulcan and gives a sigh. So far, so good.
"You claim to be the Thunder Serpent, right? Or the incarnated form or whatever it was you said. However, I meet with a being called Thunder Serpent in the depths of the temple. It wasn't you. So tell me: why are you pretending to be a god, or as the 'real' Thunder Serpent called himself and the others with us there, a force of nature? Who, or what, are you really.
Cloud says, the compliment lifting his spirits a bit before he heads off to the infirmary.>>752957
"You look pretty in control of yourself. And I can't blame you for all that demon stuff when you didn't ask for it."
Cloud says as they walk to the ship.
When they reach the infirmary, Cloud looks over the trio.
"You guys all ok? Nothing weird going on here?"
Alder hesitates for a moment or two, before giving the bat pony a soft, quick hug.>>752957
"Mmm. Very well, then." he chirps, finding somewhere to settle in. He considers grabbing an instrument to play, but now might not be the best time.
Cloud is a little surprised by the quick hug, but returns with a pat on the back before heading to the infirmary.
Cutlass nods and steps away so that she can talk on the conch in peace. She calls Miss Sunshine.
Two Reeds nods. "This Dubya of yours would have made for a fine Mechpriest, if only he had been born long ago upon this island."
She then heads out to find you a room aboard the ship.>>752961
"Well, if his proof is to be believed, then I kinda did," Juniper says. "I don't recall dying, but… apparently, I wanted to forget it, and continue living, even if I had to do so, possessed by a demon."
"Nope," Droplet says once Mallea is done. "All seems to be in order down here. Not like you guys, by the sounds of things. I mean, we've got some unwanted attention, and of a violent sort to boot…"
"Well, it goes without saying we'll cooperate," Paraiba says. "We're almost well enough to head out, anyway."
Mallea nods, and begins to withdraw equipment from her bag for the drawing of blood.>>752960
Kukulcan listens, his expression turning to one of confusion, and of a genuine sort. "… I know not the meaning of this. The Skull Temple abounds with methods for testing and teaching its challengers… On Cuauhtemoc, there were priests – the Mechpriests – who would ritually adorn themselves with the clothing and mannerisms of the gods, taking on their roles and powers for a brief time, particularly for a ceremony or other major event. You must have encountered such an obstacle in the Temple, intending to test the faith of the Mechpriest, making the unworthy fail, and the worthy stronger.">>752959>>752962>>752964
While Alder and Two Tons chill, Cane Shuga decides to walk about near the lake shore, while Make Believe and Schnitzel speak with Sir Diamantaire.>>752964
Miss Sunshine picks up within a few rings.
"Captain, do you think I'm ugly?" Miss Sunshine says. She sounds like she's been doing her share of moping. "Or a creep, or a loser? Or poor?"
"He does make a bunch of things… but he really doesn't like rules too much." he responded before watching her go.
Seeing Cane Shuga he shrugged and hopped off the boat with a hard thud into the sand and moved to walk with them.
"Don't think anypony would want to not continue living if given the chance," Cloud comments, trailing in thought. "Guess there's not much point dwelling on all that."
"Violent attention?" Cloud questions, then looks to Paraiba. "Good, sounds like we need to get you guys back as quick as we can."
"I- what? Huh?" Cutlass stammers before she groans and regains her bearings.
"Of course you aren't ugly! I'm… not really into girls, but I have to say that you're the prettiest girl on the crew. I don't even know where you'd get the idea that you are a creep or a loser from. You ARE poor, though. We all are."
>>752967>>752965>changing the last line
"That's good to hear," Cloud says, hearing things have been fine so far. "At least getting you guys back soon will take away one worry, with how things have been going here."
Cerulean has a face like she's not convinced.
"I don't think so, because at first, it actually did look like you at first. But when I told them you were claiming to be the real Thunder Serpent, they called you an imposter, and their appearance changed to something else. In fact, their appearance changed a couple of times as I talked with them. If the test was having faith that you are truly Thunder Serpent, then I should've failed. Yet I have the staff, as well as tools used to build the Watchkeepers."
"Not to mention: why would you have to proceed through the temple and face the challenges if you are what you say? We saw you fight before and how close you were to becoming chum. From what I saw of that, and what I went through in the temple; its more reason for me to think you're not really what you say you are."
Alder stretches out a little bit, and takes a moment or two to try out his detachable talons again. He'll pop off his… right! talons, and let them walk around the camp for a little.>>752970
Alder flicks his ear, and listens intently.
Cane Shuga is a near-black earth pony stallion, and looks to be a pensive sort. He glances over as you approach, then turns to face you. "You're the new guy, aren't you?" he asks. "Good to be working with you. Name's Cane Shuga of the Beesting.
You've already met Cloud, Alder and Cerulean, and of course Cutlass, one of our ship's allies. Bee Holder and Etch will want to meet you, I imagine.">>752968
Miss Sunshine sighs. "It's just one of those days… I wish I wasn't so poor. Anyway, what'd you call for…">>752969>>752967
Once Mallea finishes taking all their blood, the trio sit and think for a bit. You notice that Prisma pecks a bit at a yellow feather sitting on the nightstand next to her bed. Mallea arches an eyebrow with concern. "I hope I didn't cause that."
"Oh, don't mind her," Paraiba says. "She seemed to have got it off Alder's head awhile ago, and she's been keeping it since, always playing with it.">>752970https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O3EDuV2FRg
Kukulcan appears more and more concerned as you go on.
"Then who…?" Kukulcan mutters to himself. "This… warrants further investigation. I know who and what I am. I have not lived this long and survived the loss of home and divinity to be undone by mere suggestions. Tell me: Is this entity you encountered still down there? I shall see and question him myself.">>752971
Your hand walks around on its index and middle fingers, enjoying the cool grass upon them.
It is now that you recall the notebook the Crimson King was writing in, shortly after Cutlass accidentally revealed his identity.
He nodded "Yeah probably. It's fun to get to meet some many new people. Wish that it was like… normal instead of waking up under the ocean but not underwater. That's kinda weird ya know? Then again I'm a metal pony… sort of. So who am I to judge what's normal and what's weird."
"When I left, they were. Though they looked very old and probably would've fallen apart if I hugged them," she idly remarks, as if hugging stuff was her normal thing.
"However, I don't think we're going to have that time to check, since the Vault should be opening soon, right? And plus right now, between having the Crimson King do some weird body stuff, and now this stuff with Magoja; how do I know you won't try and do something to them, especially since they're probably still fixing the damages I caused?"
"You mean like right now? Or is this some baggage from some other point in your life?" Cutlass asks, sounding genuinely concerned.
"Anyway, we have a plan of attack for tomorrow. There's a port on the west side of the island. It's too dangerous to sail now when night is approaching. But, once there's sunlight, sail around to the west side of the island and dock there."
"From there, you're going to assemble a good chunk of the crew push toward where we will be fighting. Then, we're going to push an attack all the way to the vault. If everything goes well, we'll ALL be much richer."
"Do your blood tests normally dye fur… er, feathers?" Clouds jokingly questions Mallea. Cloud then looks back at the feath after Paraiba mentions Alder. "Wait, off Alder? But he's not yellow, are you sure it's from him?"
"Hrm… he frowns to himself a little, before snagging his talons and slipping it back on to his wrist with… no noise, surprisingly. He wiggles his talons to test a couple of times, before looking around for Juniper.
"Uhm, Miss Juniper- where is Cycle Kick, if you do not mind me asking? Back on Kukulcan's ship?"
"Well, we are still underwater," Cane Shuga says. He gestures upwards at the dome of clouds which cover all of Cuauhtemoc. They are currently a sunset-red, and the source and summit of the color is a long, golden-red serpentine dragon flying down over the western end of the island, past its surrounding waters. "My guess is that the two serpents up there – the other, being the Moon Serpent – are keeping an air bubble around us through their power."
He shrugs. "This whole situation is weird. The Ribcage is weird. You're one of the more normal things I've run into on this whole trip. So don't feel like too much of an outcast.">>752974
"I shall pass along the plans to Two Reeds, Sir Diamantaire, Magoja and the rest of the ship's leadership. I trust them enough to let them run things in my stead. As for these peculiar beings… I can give you my word I shall do no harm to them. But, I can sense that mere words are not enough. Shall entrusting you with collateral suffice, if I let you name your desired collateral? You understand that I must see to this matter as quickly as possible, owing to its grave nature.">>752975
"Yes," Miss Sunshine says.
As you move on, she sighs again. "Yes, captain. I'll let everyone know… and I'd better get a Vice-Captain's share.">>752976
Mallea leers at you.
Paraiba nods. "She pecked him pretty good yesterday, and this fell out, though I don't think anyone but Prisma noticed until much later."
"Doesn't match her feathers or his, or anyone else's," Droplet says. "You got any idea?">>752977>>752976
Juniper turns as Alder enters the infirmary. "Sorry, I don't quite know. He must be around here, with it getting so late… oh, well, depending on which one's in control now, he could be in Kukulcan's office to see the proof of our agreement. Or, he usually likes to fish a little in the Dreamer's Moon, just before bedtime. Try those places."
"Of course you will. Just like last time."
"And…" Cutlass pauses for a moment. "If you want to talk about it later, I wouldn't mind."
With that, Cutlass hangs up.
"Aww, you're a nice guy." he said with a few laughs before he sighed "I hope this goes good. I don't wanna see people getting hurt if I can help it ya know? Maybe it's that part of me that just wants to make sure everyone's happy."
"What?" Cloud says as Mallea leers at him, the witch glare making him a bit wary as he turns to Dropletto focus on the mystery.
"I… No," Cloud says, realizing he cannot ask Hmm about this feather. But then an idea comes to him. He quickly turns back to Mallea. "Mallea, can you test this feather, see if it matches any of the blood, or the blood left where Hmm was attacked later?">>752978>>752971
Cloud turns as Alder enters.
"Oh, hey, Alder! Do you recognize this?"
He asks, pointing to the feather.
"Ah! I will try those two places, then. Thank you, Miss Juniper!" he chirps, offering a bow before stepping out.>>752981
"Oh! I, hmm…">Memory roll? Master Thief? [1d10]
"I am… is that
why she was pecking at my head?"Roll #1 5 = 5
"That's what Paraiba said. Have you been around any yellow birds or gryphons lately?"
"I…don't know how to answer that one. All this negotiation stuff is really not for me," she says plainly and with a shrug.
"Honestly, all I really know is something isn't adding up right. You said the gods were swallowed by the Vault and all, yet there I was talking with them. So its just……I don't really know now. I wanna believe you, but everything just isn't adding up right."
"Depending on what kind of feather it was, most likely not," Mallea says. "But, I can try."
She produces a petri dish from her bag, and holds it out for you to enter the feather.>>752980
Cane hums. "You are pretty weird; I take it back. That's hardly the attitude a pirate has. Wherever we go, someone's bound to be upset. Though as far as any of us are concerned, they either deserve it, or else we're basically indifferent to it all. Who made you? A fellow pirate?">>752982>>752981
Alder recalls seeing a similar feather before… the last time he came down here to visit the Thunder Serpent's
infirmary. Neither he, nor Splendid knew what to make of it, as it didn't match the colors of any griffons on the Beesting
or Hidden Dagger.
Prisma must have pulled off multiple, for Alder took one, and she has this one.>>752979
Miss Sunshine mutters something before you hang up, but you can't make sense of it. Probably more moping.
You notice Kukulcan and Cerulean having an intense discussion near the jungle's edge.>>752984
"Many gods, young and old, were worshipped in this land," Kukulcan says. "In the confusion and chaos that followed the Vault's appearance, it is possible that other gods hid elsewhere, even as the majority of the elders charged in, in their ill-fated endeavor to destroy it… but I remember what I remember, and I know what I know. Before I can call myself a leader to any, I have a duty to see this discrepancy through to its source. Let me enter the Skull Temple, and I pledge that I will only seek the truth, and nothing more."
"I don't think he's a pirate… but he also does do jobs for stuff that I find… weird." he said as he tried to hide the mild hurt he felt at the weird line, though his eyes still darted down for a moment.
"My friend Dubya made me when he was a kid. I've been with him ever since."
Cutlass takes a seat somewhere nearby that seems comfortable. She keeps Cerulean and Kukulcan within view. She's not trying to eavesdrop. She's just trying to make sure Kukulcan doesn't try anything.
"Let's hope it is."
Cloud looks down at the feather, picking it up with the tip of his wing to minimize any contamination and sets it in the dish.
"We'll get this back to you in a jiffy Prisma."
"Hmm… a second feather! It certainly does not belong to anyone on either of our ships… maybe on Cutlass's ship? Or, one of the previous islands… hrm.">>752988
"Hrm… does it seem familiar to you, perhaps?"
"Honestly, its probably the best thing for now. Still, I'll see you keep to your word, at least until I hear what you have to have about them."
"No. But Hmm was attacked by a gryphon, and we have a mysterious feather here. It doesn't hurt to check."
"Oh, I see, a civilian," Cane says. "A mechanic of some kind? Well, heed my warning anyway; wherever pirates venture, misfortune follows in their wake. Hopefully, the misfortune afflicts the wicked. We're not what you might have heard of pirates; on this voyage, we've freed an island from genocidal monarchs, helped a town clear out some pests, and sort of exorcised a house – alongside a host of other small deeds. I think I heard something about our crew fighting an evil scientist shrimp… but they'll have to relay that tale to you themselves.">>752988>>752989
On the contrary, full glad does she seem to be to get rid of it, because once Mallea seals the dish, Prisma relaxes, then leans her massive chicken neck over Alder.
Paraiba and Droplet rise from their beds, stretching out after the long rest they had there.
"Apologies, but you'll be back in there soon," Mallea says. "We're spending the night. You see…"
She explains the content of Kukulcan's plan.
At the end of it, Droplet smiles. "Nice… bout time we got going on this Vault thing."
"Cutlass better share!" Paraiba insists. "Or else I'll just steal from her if she tries to hoard it all.">>752990>>752987
Kukulcan nods, and bows, his hand over his heart. "As I have attested, so I will act. Let me convene with my command, so that they may be able to spearhead the operation in my absence."
"Heard she changed the deal to a 50/50 split for our crews," Cloud assures Paraiba. "Course, a little more wouldn't hurt for what we've been through."
Alder warbles a little as Prisma leans her neck over him, weighing him down quite a bit! He hums softly to the Accompass bird, before gently rubbing at her neck. "Hmm… you deserve a chance to relax a little, yes? Feeling better?"
"I mean if you're pirates, you could just be lying to me to make yourself sound better." he said shooting some sass back at him "Besides it's not like me and Dubya can't fight. The two of us can do a lot of damage when we need to. Mostly collateral but the point stands." he said sitting back with a grunt "I know… not everything he does is legal. And I have come to terms with that, so long as he doesn't do anything really bad… I know his hearts in the right place. Plus he kinda dresses like a pirate, with the coat and all."
Cutlass continues to keep an eye on Cerulean.
"Alright. Sorry about the news, but yeah, I think I better get back with the others as well," she says, giving a few nods before heading back to the others.
"Exactly," Paraiba says. "I don't see how we're going to pay for Zerk's medical expenses and recovery procedures without it.">>752994
Prisma clucks softly, then preens your feathers and fur a bit, giving you a nice scratching before she sits back in her bed again, watching you with her chicken eyes.>>752995
"Heh! Now you're starting to get it," Cane says, taking a shine to your sass. "Well, this Dubya guy, we'll help you find him as soon as we can. Figure we should help one another so long as the relationship's good and the money is gold.">>752996>>752997
Kukulcan nods and bows, before heading off to speak with Two Reeds and Sir Diamantaire. Schnitzel and Make Believe exchange some words with the three, and then head off to the camp's perimeter, unpacking their bags to make ready their tents and sleeping cots.
Alder flicks his tail happily as Prisma preens his feathers, and takes a moment or two to return the gesture as she settles back into her bed. "Anything I can get you, Prisma? A little water? Some music, maybe?"
"Bu-gawk!" she squawks.
Alder hums a little bit, before giggling. "Ah! Of course. Well, I will play a little something, and if you would like me to stop, peck me on the head once or twice, yes?" he suggests, before taking a seat and pulling out his guitar. He takes a moment or two to tune it, before strumming out a short song!
The mechaniquine grinned back at him and gave him a punch to the foreleg playfully with one of his own "Well I try to be nice but being sassy is fun too." he replied as he sighed "Who knows, maybe being a scoundrel will be a nice change of pace for me."
Prisma leans back to enjoy the music, and Juniper departs briefly, coming back shortly with a large water bowl, from which Prisma drinks with gratitude.>>753003
"You'll probably like it a lot more than being a square," Cane says. "We have far more fun than do-gooders, who have to clean up our messes."
"I have plenty of fun. Fun is what you make of it. You don't gotta go and do mean stuff or go and get messed up to have fun. Granted it's not like I can get drunk… I think. It's not like I've tried to be fair."
[Last 50 Posts]
"Thank you, Juniper! I hope you are enjoying the music as well- do you play any instruments, out of curiosity?"