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 No.757873[View All]

At last, the final sight of all those staying upon the surface of your World is engulfed by the interminable darkness.

The Great Seal rends the earth with a deafening quake, as it slides nearly shut, open only by a hairsbreadth. The Loyal Kerberos, ten thousand Umbral Hounds strong, holds one end of Shei's Black Thread in one of his mouths. It is for that reason that the Great Seal has not been shut entirely.

Members of each faction procure a variety of small light sources to aid in grasping the shifting, unpredictable stuff that became darkness upon your perceiving it. The presence of the light, conceptually implying a "darkness that must be lit," renders more of the chaotic stuff into darkness, that is then lit. Fortunately, all that seems to be around you now is a cavern tunnel, as long as it is broad and tall.

The other factions are silent as they walk, tensely keeping weapons at the ready. As you go with them, a nauseating vertigo wells up from within. It feels like gravity's shifting to be before you, as if you were walking down a vertical surface. Although you do not fall, your bodies scream warnings at you that every step could send you hurtling into the chaos ahead, or perhaps, "below" you.
967 posts and 1 image reply omitted. Click reply to view.


Your group and the Belphecorp Paper Trail continue along through the valley, singing and singing and singing…

Until some indeterminable time later, still wandering through the valleyland as before, your group, weakly muttering the chorus, are forced to stop at a rock wall. It's a rock wall you've seen before; you've climbed or walked or hopped or flown over it numerous times, now, coming this way and that to traverse it.

All out of song, the others eventually stop singing. The sight of the rock wall has broken them.

"We're…" Desert Lamp says, at last breaking the question. "Looking for what again, exactly?"

The Serpent manages to drop you, but it's more like you're losing your grip and fall off. The others jump in and trample it for a time, before one of them brays at the top of their lungs, giving the signal to bolt. With a great stampeding of hooves, they break off, and make a mad dash for the south, far away from the Serpent.

The Serpent gives chase!

>roll for running


The King raises his hand, the foreclaw and thumb curled together, almost in a flicking posture. When the audience and somnists see this, they really, REALLY hasten their exit. They know something you do not…

You see a great exodus of the audience and somnists from the tents – and they're in a real hurry. Something is probably not going very well in there…

Roll #1 9, 1, 5, 7, 2 = 24


Leather gallops horsedly away.


Roll #1 1 = 1


As she starts to see the crowd pour out of the tents in greater haste, Shorthorns lets out a groan.

"What do you want to bet our favorite goat has something to do with this? Come on, let's go!" She shouts, hastening inside to see what's happening and what has everyone so riled up.



Amy shrugs. "Don't look at me," she says nonchalantly. "I'm not in charge here. What did you guys get hired to find?"


Shei is on his guard, holding his guitar. "I see.. Then you leave me no choice."

He prepares a ballad one of such visceral compassionate it could compel even the most hardened of souls to begin crying. The Part 2 of his story.

A light fog remains at the floor of the room, though somehow it appears brighter -warmer, as Shei-Sher plays a sweeter sounding -though ambiguously emotive song.


The fog forms to show a goat held in the arms of a gryphon, Gabriele as she flies him through the sky. Below the kid can see all of accorsia, his home. As the goat reaches out to grab something shimmering just beyond his grasp he finds himself falling away from the Gyphon's reach. The goat turns mid drop to see his mother flying into the night sky where she becomes a constellation. Though at first it appears the young goat is lost and terrified, he is greeted by a wolf pony who makes him happy. And he makes her happy. The goat tugs at her paw, urging her that he has to go somewhere. But the wolf-pony convinces him otherwise, shaking her head and she leads him to follow her instead. The the illusion pans to various scenes of Shei's family life on the AirShip. Helping cook breakfast, showing off his trading cards to Kid Pryce, Sharing banter and tests of intimidation with Flow and his goolings, Fighting with Pryce, River Spring sharing the cure for Joy withdrawal with Shei, His family huddled around Chorazin's core wishing Shei might come out alive, There is Shei helping Volkama and his colleagues get well, and then a scene of Shei awestruck as he meets Gadriel for the first time. Shei holding onto wireframe and refusing to let go. There is a vision of Shei being stomped into the ground by a gigantic sphinx and the group gathers behind him in loving care. And then more from that illusory fog that makes the background. More of every person Shei has touched in his life stands behind him in care. The scene zooms out as more character's add to the image. And the fogs disperses to show the Dessicated Hydra of Crow-ley's form behind them all.

>>Shepherd's Tone: one effect per 6 turns, stackable, negates resistances; Divinity transposed through rock and roll. Play a song that invokes profoundly visceral effects upon all your enemies or allies on the field to either alter their behavior or status condition.

to cause every one witnessing the story to have their hearts touched by it's message, provoking them to cry.


Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3


Using Light roll as a mulligan



Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3


Enraged, the Serpent snarls, and slams the earth. A spiderweb of cracks ripple out from the blast, chasing after your herd faster than they can sprint. With squeals and whinnies, they strain to run further and further, but the cracks overtake them, and you, the Green one, and the Time one lose your balance, as the ground below tumbles down, becoming a steep slope. The tall one and the others disappear from view, leaving you, the Green and the Time one in the chasm, as the Serpent bolts toward you.

The King, however… is not so compassionate.

With a flick of the King's claw, a great, astral explosion streaks across the arena, splitting in two around Shei only at the last possible moment. The arena all around him is deeply burned, and a horrible gunpowder stench lingers in the air.

>"Send the next one in," the King says.

>"Don't let the tent flaps hit you on the way out," the Queen says.

The Princess delivers a short exhale through her nose. Not quite a laugh, nor any other reaction at that, but at least something of an action.

"I thought the Paper Trail would point it out," Desert Lamp says.
"I uh… I had faith Vizsla would be able to find it!" Hurricanrana says. Vizsla arches an eyebrow.
"You mean none of you asked?" Mudi asks, aghast.
"It will obviously be obvious when we see it," Vizsla says. "Obviously."

The Paper Trail, silent as ever, offers no clue nor commentary.

"Then what ARE we looking for?" Mudi asks.

"It's… a tea ingredient of some kind, right?" Hurricanrana suggests.


Leather tries to bolt around the Serpent, trying to distract it to face opposite Green and Time, wanting sole attention pulled to him while the others escape.

[1d10] Taunt

Roll #1 2 = 2


The explosion rushes past Shei-Sher sweeping up his illusions, making him unable to continue his performance. The veracity of the King's dismissal defeats Shei. As Shei pays the princess one last glance before leaving the tent." Shei-Sher leaves to go find the rest of party to rethink their game plan.

"Flaaaamiiing, are you around?" Shei calls out around the crowd that exited the tents.


As Shorthorns enters into the tent just in time to see the King snap his fingers and nearly blow Shei to smithereens, Shorthorns is quick to make the leap to diplomacy (not a usual tactic of hers, but against DRAGON royalty she is particularly respectful)

She quickly runs to bow before the King and Queen and Princess, "Forgive him, your majesties! Whatever he did, I promise we'll take full responsibility for it… later, I mean, but I promise any mess he made or any demons he unleashed we'll take care of it! Sorry again, sorry sorry!"

She stammers before quickly trying to make a hasty exit

Shorthorns grabs Shei by the scruff and helps ferry him outside at all due speed. "What in Vir-can's name happened in there?!"



"Uuuugh," Amy groans in frustration. "This is just one of the lots of reasons to hate Tartarus… What were we looking for…?"

Amy tries to wrack her brain to remember. "I don't think I ever asked when I joined up with you guys…"


"The King and Queen have a temper.. The Princess was relay strong hints toward getting her parents to leave the room but they're too headstrong. We need to somehow get some private time with the princess so I can play her the other half of my story."


"…private time with the Princess isn't a bad idea. We actually just had another idea: apparently the witch who 'cursed' her isn't too far from here. We know whatever's going on with her isn't magical, but whatever happened to her DID happen with the witch. We were thinking of going to her lair and asking her what happened, maybe we can get both sides of the story to figure this out."

She turns her head, "Sorry, I stepped out when your act began. You were telling a story?"


"Ah yeah- it's too embarrassing to explain, you have to be there for the song." Shei waves his hoo dismissively, signaling he'd rather not talk about it "Let's see the witch then. Perhaps we can make since of the Princess's dilemma."


While Green and Time clamber out of the pit, you rush straight for the oncoming Serpent. Vengeful, it takes the bait, and clamps its pronged fangs down into your side.

>Leather 0/4

Its prongs spark with lightning as it shakes you about, thrashing all around!


The King and Queen go back to arguing over the time of day as you exit. The Princess, briefly bemused by their earlier break from the bickering, belays her relief at their befreshened belligerence.

Everyone tries to recall at least some hint of what the ingredient in question could be – only to come up with nothing at all.

"Well," Desert says, rubbing her temples. "We know it's a tea ingredient. Let's start from there and extrapolate. How do you make tea?"

"Leaves," Mudi says.

"Unlikely," Vizsla says.

"Tea… it's usually made with leaves, no?" Hurricanrana says.

"…It could also be a powder. Or a bag," Vizsla says.

"The bag is usually full of leaves!" Mudi snaps. "Or full of powder which is made of leaves!"

"…You don't know that," Vizsla says, though her eyes betray the absurdity of her knee-jerk denial. "Maybe they make tea with something else down here."

Hurricanrana and Desert groan.

"Vizsla…!" Mudi growls – only to be shut down by another glare from Vizsla.

With the earlier guard's directions in mind, your group collects themselves and makes their way north through town, the great clock tower watching every step of the way…

When you set hoof outside the city's northern gates– a familiar effect sets in. Just as in the Temple of Slipper…


>As if your vision suddenly became that of a bird, you can behold yourselves from without, and above. The others give a small start, and their movements become awkward and unnatural, as they get used to seeing themselves from the third person.

>The land outside the city's walls is… less detailed than that inside the walls. The colors are simpler, and things seem to have a thin graphite outline. It makes things easier to see, in a sense. There is a hut perched atop a hill. The path there is rocky, looping and inconvenient, but you can see most of it thanks to your altered viewpoint.

>Though the hut is small, it is not simple in the slightest. It is quite colorful, and a great waterwheel is built nearby, for the hut is built not far from a river. Other wooden and brass doohickeys and contraptions sit around outside the hut, equal parts decoration and function.

Roll #1 3 = 3


Leather whinnies and shakes himself off.

Roll #1 3 = 3


"I see- There are spans of distance within nodes where its solidity is not so true. These utilizations of concepts such as sketches on a canvas to manifest a form for space and time to exist. As if Tartarus borrows ideas from other worlds in the creation of its nodes."

Shei-Sher contemplates as he ambles ahead toward the hut.


"H-HEY! What the…?!"

Shorthorns exclaims as she returns to a very familiar out-of-body experience, watching herself as though a 2D character moving across a chapter book at the side. "I can see myself! I-I remember this, when we met Princess Wineberry…!"

She waves her hand around, fascinated with this new isometric perspective as she moves no towards the hut. "Why did it only just change now…? Does this witch have something to do with her?"



"It doesn't hurt to hear people's ideas!" Amy snaps at Vizsla. "What were you going to say, Moody?"


"Princess Wineberry?" Shei says confused at how Shorthorns could meet a historical figure of a forgotten past "How- When did this happen?"

[not sure how knowledgeable shei is on this topic]


Once the others get something of a feel for how they are to move when disrupted from their very bodies like this, you follow along the path to the Witch's hut. It takes some time, and a little trial and error, but at last, you manage to maneuver the hillside.

When you knock on the hut's front door, there is no answer. However, after a few seconds of waiting, you hear a click, and the door opens. There is nobody on the other side of the door –

–but when the door fully opens, the perspective turns once more, taking on a 2-Dimensional view. You can see the entirety of this floor from its side, as if the hut were a diorama. At the other side of the room is a staircase leading up, and a ladder leading downward. You can hear something mechanical going on downstairs.

"Why were we stuck outside this Anchor?" Mudi asks.

"Because we all saw something different," Desert says.

"And why was that?"

"We didn't agree on what it was we were seeing!" Hurricanrana says.

"So this ingredient…"

"…Needs to be something we reach a consensus on," Vizsla begrudgingly admits. "Or at least a majority."

"Tis simplicity itself… right?"

The confidence loses its brief stay on Mudi's countenance, and she looks to the others for approval.

You're tossed to the base of the chasm again, and as the Serpent approaches, lightning sparking from its pronged fangs and dagger-tail…


Pools of orange, shaped like glaring, burning eyeballs, spark to life on surfaces all about you, on the trees, in the chasm walls and ground. A distant crack of a gunshot – and a bullet blurs through the air, flying into one eyeball and out another, zig-zagging through the air. On this course the bullet rips through the Serpent in six different places, and lightning explodes all about as the bullet strikes the centers of power. With a furious snarl, the Serpent spins about and beats a hasty retreat.



"It was when we went to the Temple of Slipper, looking for a way to prepare for Tartarus. We met Princess Wineberry down there… or, maybe like a memory of her. She showed us the story of how the Sons of God first sealed all the demons in Tartarus in the first place, and helped us get a sense of what kind of willpower and sacrifice it took. It was an incredible experience… though, I'm still not sure why she chose to present it like this with the storybook, or why it's doing it now. There must be some kind of connection though."

Having done this at least once before (and another time in the dungeon leading to Tarturus' entrance itself, to a degree), Shorthorns is fairly quick to adapt as she watches her two-dimensional, pastel storybook self make the climb up to the hill. "It's a little weird at first, watching yourself do stuff, but once you stop thinking too hard about it it just comes naturally."

As the perspective changes with the opening of the door, Shorthorns enters herself within the hut and takes a look around, finding it a little difficult to see things up close from her far-off view. "You all hear that…?" She says aloud, looking at the ladder that leads downwards as she follows the sounds of the mechanization.



"Makes sense to me," Amy nods. "But, shouldn't HE know what we are here for?" Amy asks, pointing to the Paper Trail.


>The house is much deeper than one might assume from first appearances; through three successive floors, each connected by ladders, do you descend. As you cross each floor in pursuit of its ladder, you note each has its function – the first is an alchemy laboratory, the second, a storage room with crates loaded for many disciplines, likely due to being the midpoint of the laboratories. The third, a laboratory for enchanting. Glowing stones in metal lanterns fitted with reflective plates light up each floor. The laboratories are a little disorderly, but with decent enough egress.

>Down the final ladder do you go, into the largest and bottommost of these floors. The laboratory before you, focused on the disciplines of mechanics and robotics. Diagrams, manuals, models, and the like line the walls.

>In the back, leaning over a cluster of metal, is a rather tall and slim diamond dog. She wears an armored witch hat, somewhat rounded near the base for greater protection against falling objects. You cannot tell whether she has noticed you or not.

The Paper Trail, arms crossed behind its back, stands there in silence. It hasn't said a word this entire time, neither on the journey through the Abyss, nor during the sing-along montage.

"Probably incapable of speech," Vizsla says.

"Like someone we all know," Mudi mutters.

Vizsla turns and gasps. "Since when do you do catty remarks?"

"Learned from the best…" Mudi says. "But let's focus. We've been screwing this up because we're not communicating."

"We don't need to do it correctly," Vizsla says. "This divergence is unnecessary from the start. In Tartarus, the will is supreme. We could reach the Momentary Lake if it were central in our minds' eye, and not ridiculous notions of tea parties!"



"There's a lot of wills in Tartarus," Amy replies to Viszla. "Trust me, you won't get far just trying to force your way through alone. A lot of wills are better than one strong one. And easier. It's the only reason all these demons cooperate to begin with. Things start making a lot less sense when you don't follow the sense that's already around you."

"So, instead of arguing with every single thing we say, how about trying to make our plans work better? That'd do a lot more to unify our wills."

That having been said, Amy turns to the Paper Trail.

"Just because he can't talk doesn't mean he can't communicate. He's literally made of paper. Doesn't anyone have a pen?"


Instincts still bestial, Leather takes this strange occurrence as a reason to bolt as well, making his way out of the crevice and seeking out his herd, heading back the way he came if he cannot immediately see them.


Shorthorns takes note of all the various sub-labs as she passes through basement after basement, not knowing at all what the labs are used for but knowing potions when she sees them.

The final floor throws her for a loop however, robotics and mechanisms even farther beyond her purview. She finds herself awed by one of the nearby machines for a few moments before her 3rd-person view catches sign of the individual in the corner. Noting the obvious witch's hat she wears, Shorthorns quickly surmises where their occupant is.

As she works, Shorthorns clears her throat, trying to get her attention. "Excuse me? Do you live here?"


"Trapped inside a form of nostalgia, mayhaps? I should understand. I think Mudi does the same thing too with her snow globe and cutie marks. Ah- And then there's Regina. A penchant for sorcerers and sorceresses. It's our hang ups that make us dangerous. But I trust you left Princess Wineberry with a good opinion of us."

"Inside and outside of our adventures I've experienced the loss in dimensions many times and the experience is always a jarring one. It isn't intuitive at all how I can move at a lateral axis while still side-scrolling. And then if I bend over to pick something up I forget I can't actually see what I'm leaning into. How ever I do like being able to see my back side." Shei says that last bit as if admiring himself "Hmph! I'm not one for back doors- despite what anyone might say. But god damned if I have not developed into a fine specimen."

It may not be anything spectacular but, Shei isn't one to waste the opportunity to bask in a new environment. Admiring the workspace of craftsmen and studying strewn curios with intrigue. He notices he isn't actually turning his head to look at things, considering his perspective. So he pays attention to actually do so, despite it not being needed. He just felt awkward to himself not doing so.

Upon their encounter with the diamond dog, Shei follows up Flaming's greeting "Ahoy. Sorry for the intrusion."


Vizsla scoffs. "You make my case for me, Amy. Simply unify to my will and we'd be making fast progress to our *actual* goal instead of dallying about here."

As this goes on, Desert quickly patches up a tear she noticed in Hurricanrana's cloak. He does pushups while she works.

Mudi produces a quill and ink for you.

The dog's ears twitch, and she looks back with a little surprise. Her snout is remarkably long, fitting for how tall she is. She says nothing for quite some time, simply studying you and your party.

"You never learn a damn thing," she says at last.

"Whaddya mean 'you'–" Voyage grumbles.

"Mortalkind," the Witch says. "Every last one of you. Not that I'm necessarily excluding myself from that designation. I'm down here just like all of you."

"'Down here', eh?" Rooster repeats. "…I take it you know what's outside, beyond the boundaries of this kingdom?"

"The Abyss, of course," the Witch says. "The insatiable gullet of that thing we named 'God.'"

Your heart still shudders, agitated by adrenaline, as you sprint out of the chasm and run for the boundary of the valley, lest you be beset by another beast that lurks within. There, you see your herd, standing out over the edge, floating upon a kind of void whose nature cannot be grasped. The paradox slows your pace, but the further you get from the valley, the more that peculiar waves bounce about in your head, like so many pesky flies… wait… oh, yes, it's all coming back to you now…

Anzu, munching on a sugarcube, offers one to you out of a tin. Freischutz prefers to snack on a carrot. The others, save for Holy Hours, are also still acting out rather horsey behavior. Hours looks embarrassed on their behalf, but does not begrudge anyone their respite.


Leather chuffs and whinnies, before shuddering as instincts start returning and clearing his throat, "Ahem, apologies."

He checks over his personal belongings as he becomes more aware of their existence as tools and not just things attached to him, making sure nothing's too waterlogged.


"I think so, we were all getting along by the end and I think Wineberry was starting to have faith we'd be able to handle Tartarus ourselves." She shrugs, "At least, I hope we left that impression, I don't plan on letting her treasures go to waste."

To the backside comment, Shorthorns groans. "Oh please, what backside? Even as a god you're as scrawny as ever!"

Shorthorns' eyes widen as the witch speaks. "Wait… you're mortal?!"

"I thought you were just another part of this story, or another demon, or something like a denizen of Tartarus. You're from the surface? Who are you?!"



Amy takes a deep breath. "Okay…" she says as she collects her thoughts. "I'll admit that you not understanding is my fault. I like to use less words when I can. But, since you don't seem to be getting it, I'll use more words for you."

"You don't have the strongest will in Tartarus. Trust me. I'm the one who has actually spent time here. It's not even close. The whole reason we're even going to the Momentary Lake is BECAUSE we don't have the will to just outwill all the demons. So, you are NOT going to get through Tartarus just outwilling everything. So, there's no point in you trying to outwill us here. You're just making the problem worse. Even IF we did just go with whatever you wanted, it wouldn't be full agreement. So, you'd have one person -yourself- with 5 people who don't really agree all that much. But, if we talk things out and come to an ACTUAL agreement, then we have 6 people who actually agree on something. Or, at the very least, we'd have 5 people who agree and you. That's still stronger than your way. So, consider this practice in cooperating since you are GOING to need it."

"So, if you want us all to actually agree with you, please at least TRY to say something that would actually convince us you're right. And, to be clear, since you seem to need me to use more words, I AM saying that you haven't actually tried once to convince us that you are right. You've just tried to convince us to accept that you're right. That is NOT the same thing. That's why I said you're not being helpful. Even if we just followed you, that's not UNIFYING is. If you want us to follow you, actually be someone worth following. Don't just SAY you are."

"And, if that's too much work for you right now, then please just help us figure this out."

>[1d10] DC-4 regular social roll

With that, Amy takes the quill and ink and hands it to the Paper Trail. "Could you please show us what ingredient we are supposed to be finding?"

Roll #1 3 = 3


"I- Hay- I get my steps in. -watch what I eat. And then there's plenty of exercise where ever we butt heads. I deserve to be a little proud."

"I assume she is using the royal 'you' " Shei is a bit alarmed by the stranger's bold introduction.

After the last thing the diamond dog says, Shei comments "Only the first ring at that. Perhaps it's a mortal's insurmountable ignorance saying this- but, everything considered it's not that bad. And perhaps our insurmountable ignorance could help you stranger. Say- what troubles you?"


"What troubles me is a group of strangers let themselves into my workplace," the Witch says.

"Forgive us our intrusion," Flow says. "But we've heard you've had a dispute with the local royalty."

"Hmm…" the Witch says, then turns to Flaming.

"You should know I'm a Witch, and unafraid to confront even royal dragons," she says. "You think it wise to exchange true names with me?"

"Actually," Voyage says. "Our group's a little more acquainted with Witches than your average folk."

Flow nods.

"Oh-ho," the Witch says. "I reckon that's not surprising. Anyone strong or fool enough to enter Tartarus is like to be strong or fool enough to cross paths with Witches too. Do tell."

Everything is all there and accounted for.

"So," Anzu says through a mouthful of sugarcube (the tin of which is still being offered to you). "Any guesses what we got?"

"Don't talk und chew at zhe same time!" Freischutz scolds.

Hours turns over the pixelated thing and examines it from all angles, but there's not much to see through the cloud of pixels. He starts to pass it around for others to try their guesses.

Vizsla, for a change, is silent and attentive through your speech. She says nothing immediately after, and it is only that you hand the materials to the Paper Trail that she speaks.

"…Do you really understand what you're asking for, when you ask this of me?" Vizsla asks.

Mudi looks down, and off to the side.

The Paper Trail looks at the materials you've given it. It rips off a side of its head. Unfazed by this self-mutilation, it starts to draw on the torn scrap.


Noting her curiosity, Shorthorns thinks of something she'd commented on the names.

"We could tell you their names, if you might share yours? That seems fair, don't you think?"


"Very well," the Witch responds.


"What happened to the paper thing? Is it still out there or did we go to where it was leading?" Leather asks, taking a sugarcube to be polite and sucking on it afterwards.


Shorthorns smiles at having gotten somewhere with the witch. "We came down here with two of them: Vizsla the Kind and Mudi the Young… technically three but that's a whole other long story. OH! And we also know Regina, from the Wacachan Coven."

She smiles, "Do any of those ring a bell? I wasn't sure how long you were down here…"



Amy doesn't answer Vizsla's question directly. "I'm better at planning than you think," she says without turning to look at Vizsla. "If we're going to get through this, everyone has to look out for each other. And, I know exactly how to make sure that we ALL come out better through all of this."

Then, she turns to look Viszla in the eyes. "ALL of us," she repeats.

>[1d10] DC-4 social roll

Then, she turns back to see what the paper is writing.

Roll #1 4 = 4


Shei whistles as if impressed "That's not fair, you lined me up for that one in spite of my apology. I saw a lonesome witch brooding over the vaguest thing, of course I was going to ask how I could help."

As Voyage mentions their encounter's witches and the Witch asks for details he says.
"That's about several long stories. Another thing I'm quite proud of- In about every encounter I wagered throwing away my life for the opportunity to spite them and managed to become friends. It's been a bit of a theme- probably won't last me too long."


The Paper Trail's hanging out nearby, leaning against the open Abyss with a leg propped up.

"Either a skilled mime or a sharp will," Hours comments, then shows the pixelated thing to the Trail. "This is the ingredient?"

The Paper Trail gives a thumbs up.

Hours nods. "Let's move out once we've caught our breath and dressed our injuries. You alright?"

The Witch blinks. "…I probably should have brought a calendar down with me. Not one of those is a familiar name to me. Alright, my turn. Does the term, 'Bene Elohim' make any sense to you?"

"Oh, dear," Supper says, apparently recognizing the term. She skitters behind Rooster.

Vizsla grins, meeting your gaze. "Quite the task. You'll have to catch Ecclesia, the Spiders, and the Light Brigade up on the agenda, though."

The Paper Trail hands the sheet back to you. On it is a crude drawing of many figures around a table, drinking what you can only assume to be tea. The quality is that of a child's drawing.

"Maybe he didn't understand the assignment…" Hurricanrana says.

"Is it capable of understanding?" Desert asks. "If it can't speak, it might just be an automaton."

"It–" Mudi begins. "He understood well enough to ballpark what Amy was asking, even if he can't verbalize it. So… this might be the best clue we can get."


Shorthorns takes note of Supper's reaction, her brow raised in curiosity as she turns to look at the Witch.

"Not to me, but then I'm not a witch. Are you Bene Elohim? And, if so, how long have you been down here? We only just arrived, more or less. Time is a little tricky to keep track of down here but it's definitely only been a little bit."


"I feel like I should be asking for an autograph" Shei says genuinely impressed "So then… you're in it deep-?" Shei says in regards to her probable circumstances. which he imagines is pretty bad.

Shei leans in to Flaming's ear and says "-Fairly certain it's old mariposan for sons of god."


"Other than some leftover intrusive desires and some mild scuffs, I am surprisingly fine." Leather notes, "I've never relied on wing or horn, so the experience wasn't all that awful."



"If he didn't know what he was doing here, then he wouldn't have been sent here with us. He wouldn't have followed us at all. He drew people drinking tea. So, our mission is to get tea."

Amy looks to everyone else. "Make sense?"


"It isn't my name," the Witch says. "But it was once a paladin order to which I belonged. We played at being successors to the Sons of God, after the disappearance of their Founder, and the order's subsequent dissolution. But, just as the Sons did, our order fell apart as well, and our membership scattered in disgrace. I am one of a few who, unwilling to remain on the surface world, struck out – for Tartarus."

She shrugs. "Of course, I only made it as far as Limbo, the First Layer. I couldn't hold a candle to Wineberry or to Vinland. So, I screw around up here."

"Are we supposing there's a little teapot somewhere in this valley we gotta find?" Hurricanrana says, tilting his head. "Is it perhaps short and stout?"

"No more singing, please," Desert sighs.

"Actually…" Mudi says. "In Tartarus, the will is supreme… It's even true at an Anchor. You saw how people suffered when they used techniques to move great distances without being seen, like the Ecclesian flash step. Oh! And we all had to agree on what we saw before we could even enter the anchor!"

"Oh no…" Desert groans.

"The singing probably helped us get this far!" Mudi extrapolates.

"No, no, no–!" Vizsla complains.

"We gotta sing to find the tea ingredient!!!" Mudi declares.

The Paper Trail shrugs.

"R-right?" Mudi asks, losing all her momentary bravado.

Hours nods, and then looks to the others. Having gotten to a more stable disposition, each in turn gives their affirmation that they are ready for the next leg of their journey.

With that assent, Hours turns to the Paper Trail, who pushes off from the imaginary wall, and gestures for you to follow.


"Oooh" Shei is disappointed "You were just the off shoot, of the sons of God. I really was going to ask for an autography."

"Did you meet the Arm of God?" Shei asks "He's surprisingly polite for being one of the limbs of God.. and -uh when he made you a bargain -did you take it?"


Shorthorn's eyes light up with surprise, and she turns to face Shei. "D-does that mean… is she…?"

As she clarifies she was only successors to the Sons of God, Shorthorns deflates visibly, though still very much intrigued.

"I see. I'm sorry for your order, it sounded like a noble one. We're trying to follow in the Sons of Gods' footsteps too, in our own way. And, I can't express how exciting it is to find someone else from the mortal world down here! I wasn't sure if we'd be alone or not."

Trying to get back on topic, Shorthorns asks, "So, you *are* the witch who cursed the princess here, right?"


Leather takes a middle position, ready to either defend or provide support fire depending on what the journey ahead leads to.


"Take it from someone who has spent more time down here than you–" the Witch says. "Anything you hear claim to belong to or be from 'God' is not to be believed. Best not to overuse that word. An Anchor may be safe enough, but in the Abyss – tantamount to suicide. What you encountered was most likely an Umbral who became overmuch obsessed with that thing, and began to hallucinate a theosis."

As a unit, with paces in sync despite the disparities in height and length, the Ecclesians move out, following behind the Paper Trail.

"Cursed?" the Witch repeats. "Is that what they're saying?"

She scoffs, then full-on laughs, like it's the only funny thing she's heard all day. She shakes a ratchet at you. "My Craft is in the mechanical arts. I put no curse on any one of them.


"People like them… don't need any curse from anyone. They are curses unto themselves. Curses unto one another… you get me?"

The others ponder this in silence.

She looks at Flow. "But, it is true I got into a dispute with the royals. Must be the genesis of this rumor. Why do you ask?"


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