No.757873[Last 50 Posts]
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.
Shorthorns turns back, willing herself forward after one last respectful bow towards the mighty Kerberos, guardian of Tartarus, and pushing on with her group consisting of Amy, Shei, Flow, Leather. As they hold on to their 'light' that dispels the mysterious darkness surrounding them on all sides, Shorthorns keeps an eye out on the other parties, questioning aloud as they all walk in silence in the straight vertical drop of a cavern, she asks
"Even now, I can only imagine what it must be like in there. Do you think we'll be separated by Tartarus itself as soon as we arrive, or will we be able to split on our own terms?"
>>757873https://pastebin.com/jbpPAusX>sheet not yet updated to autumn's standardization of skills
Leather mumbles prayers to keep himself grounded as they walk ahead, shield held in front of him and muttering only barely audible.
Amy slowly treads forward, poised like a dog on the defensive. Her hair stands straight, giving her a poofy, but fierce appearance.
As they progress through the vertical tunnel, Shorthorns looks over to spot the blue buffalo travelling along side them, roving over towards him quietly so as not to break the tension in the air.
"Psst… Voyage, I… I had something I wanted to ask you."
None answer Shorthorned at first. Voyage, however, seems to be concentrating, his ears twitching, as if trying to pick up a faint, far-off sound.>>757920
Voyage gives a small start, but quickly represses it. "Hmm?" he grunts.>>757919>>757916>>757917>>757918
On and on the nauseating tunnel goes, and the deeper you walk, the more that the nauseating vertigo adds to it a sense of turning, of a slow and subtle spinning. Even when you stop, even if you try to lean against it, always it feels as though your bodies are being turned anti-clockwise by a force you cannot place, a force just outside of your reach…
Just as the sensations begin to reach intolerable levels, you realize that the colossal tunnel in which you walk is tapering off, ending in the shape of a funnel, or perhaps, a root. There is, ahead of you, a small stone opening, just large enough for a mortal to stoop through…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwnGlUhgNnw
The hole deposits you upon a cliffside, the ground below dusty and frigid… you see now that it is not earth, but some peculiar metal that you stand upon. Before you stretches a valley of metal and stone, dotted by towering silhouettes, garbage heaps miles high.
The "cliffside" upon which you stand is the slanted roof of a long and rectangular structure, the likes of which you have not seen before. Everything sags and leans, collapsed long ago. It is as though some giant had uprooted the cities of a forgotten, now-mythical age and tossed them carelessly about. To Cloak, the feeling is reminiscent of Vadahara, and its own ancient citadels.
Shorthorns leans in closer to Voyage as they walk along, not treating it as a private conversation but still speaking quietly. "Have you decided who you're going with once we split up in Tartarus? Cause… you know… I was thinking, you and I usually make a really good team… and, it'd be nice to know you're safe especially, right?">>757921
Shorthorns strains her thick head against the encroaching vertigo as they walk through the infinitely long, dark tunnel to their awaiting nightmare, before the opening of the small hole ahead finally gives her reprieve knowing the entrance is near. As they leer into the wide, barren junkheap filled with metal and twisted stone of collapsed buildings, she looks around, mystified by it.
"Is… is this a city? It looks kind of like Mariposa and Cicadia, bigger even but, everything's tossed around."
Shei-Sher shutters as his sensations brace against their uncompromising environment. Leering his back forward he crawls under the stone opening, nearly cutting himself when landing upon the hard floor below.
The dim wastes ahead remind him of his little time spent in sheol, though this place is much more dim. "The scope of our adventures are eerily coming into view." He remarks toward the scene.>>757919>>757921
Shei takes Amy's hoof to help watch their step among the ramparts.
"I find making assumptions about this place the first step towards disaster. Without heavy psychic protections, who knows if our thoughts about the location may change how it works.">>757921>>757922
"I can work with cities, plenty of good positions for cover if needed. On the down side, there are plenty of places for cover if needed by the enemy."
The spinning is practically familiar to Amy - as familiar as anything in Tartarus could be. It's like a welcome home - almost nostalgic if she didn't feel the dread in the pit of her stomach.
Once the spinning stops, Amy looks to Shei.
"Where are we going?" she asks, her voice slightly shaky. >>757922
"Could be stuff that someone tossed in here at some point," Amy suggests. "We're basically in the world's dumping ground."
"Tartarus is said to be a dumping grounds of sorts. I see the world didn't have much use left for these dilapidated dynasties. The corpse of cities past their time in sun.">>757925
"Umm.." Shei looks about himself, not entirely sure himself "Down? In as straight forward a manner as possible? This place gives me nausea."
"…perhaps you're right. Tartarus is no place for a wandering mind." She takes in a deep breath, calming herself. "I'll stay focused. Whatever happens, we'll deal with it as it comes.">>757924>>757926
"It's also a mess to find our way through. I don't see a lake anywhere, do you?">>757925
"It does sort of look like a city of junk and trash but, where'd it all come from? Surely not from our world alone."
"I was going to go with Buiwong and everyone else," Voyage says. "It's… actually pretty important to me that I stay with…"
He pauses and listens again, ears twitching. After a pause, he looks conflicted. "Are you… sure?" he asks, but doesn't sound like he's talking to you. "Why all of a sudden…">>757922>>757923>>757924>>757925
Tantra pauses, his ears perked up. For a moment, he looks confused, then nods. "Okay, yeah… yessir."
He smirks, clears his throat, and thunders up to the forefront of the group. "Alright, my little ponies and friends! With his usual spokesbuffalo occupied, my Lord Buiwong has tasked me quite suddenly to relay certain information to you all."
Voyage gasps. "Wait, I was in the midd–"
"Per the writings of the Anathema Scripture, one navigates Tartarus Anchor-to-Anchor. One concentrates upon their destination, translated approximately as an 'Anchor,' and walks through the ungraspable sea of chaos filling Tartarus, until they at last reach that destination. We have already discussed splitting into small, like-minded groups to avoid chaotic happenings begotten by a lack of psychic cohesion, or worse, psychic conflict.
"Anchors provide a small degree of local stability. If we all agree to concentrate on the same destination, we will be able to meet up with one another along the way at these Anchors, in spite of traveling separately."
"Yes," Mudi says. "Despite Tartarus's chaotic nature, there are still a few trappings of order to it. Or else we would not be able to speak of the Ten Layers and other divisions. By traveling in the same 'direction,' so to speak, we may even be able to reach one another between Anchors in an emergency. Still, it's best to keep our meetings to these Anchors."
Shei raises a hoof "I spoke about this with my group. We plan on heading toward a place called the Hanging Port. If none of you have a destination in mind, it could be as good a start as any location to test our bearings.">>757928
Shei finds a reprieve to saunder over to Flow "Flooooow, what do you say to some good ole fashioned Flow and Shei adventures. Flow and Shei forever, huh? we have one more spot in our group you would fit right snug into."
"Well, I guess we DO have to get down from here first," Amy giggles nervously.>>757927
Amy shrugs. "I think you shouldn't ask questions like that in Tartarus. You'll never find an answer.">>757928
"So, let's go deliver that pizza!" Amy declares happily as if that's the obvious conclusion of what was just described.
"I see, well as Shei said, we do have a destination in mind, so we'll be focusing there."
Shorthorns appears somewhat disheartened for the briefest of moments as he mentions he was going to go with Buiwong's entourage, as he mentions it being important to him she almost relents. However, as he asks her if she's sure, she nods her head. "Well… yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm pretty sure. it's just… well, I think I might have a hard time concentrating if you're not close by, and, I figure that might be dangerous. Plus, I mean, we're definitely lacking for muscle on our side. Only one buffalo," she chuckles, "But… if you can't…">>757928>>757931
As she finds herself interrupted by Tantra's announcement, she looks over in his direction, paying close attention as he explains the nature of the anchors and how to find their way to it in order to meet up again. "I think I get it… then, what's the first 'Anchor' we'll be meeting at, what should we focus on? A particular scene or location in mind?">>757930
Shorthorns nods. "Mmm, a good point. Still, it's just incredible isn't it? There has to be more trash here then there are all the cities I've ever seen."
Amy smiles. Almost like she's showing off her home town. "Well, get used to that. There will be plenty of it," she laughs.
Flow laughs dryly, an odd thing for a goo. "Was there any doubt I'd join you, friend? I've had my fun catching up with Hope, but I've a feeling the fighting will be fiercest with you all.">>757932
"Oh, I was talking to–" Voyage begins, but then looks aside again, his ears straining to hear something that you cannot. He goes cross-eyed for a moment, caught between two speakers who wish to have his ear.
Eventually he takes a deep breath to focus himself, then looks back at you steadily. "Yeah," he says. "I'd be glad to join you. But first things first, I'll need to talk to Tantra for a bit. And if I'm going with your group, you'll need to give our group one of yours. Oh, how about Wireframe? She was part of our cultus.">>757929>>757930>>757931>>757932
As Shei suggests accompanying your pizza-delivery imperative, it looks like the others accept it.
"So," Ichimonji says. "I take it we just pick a direction and walk?"
"Right," Tantra says. "As long as we aren't at an Anchor, reality is as malleable as your imagination. It doesn't matter what way you head out, long as your intention and mind are focused."
"We've a vast city to leave behind, then," Vitalya says. "Let's get going."
"Wait," says the Dragon. He pauses, listening for something. "Any of you who have teleportation or other forms of long-distance movement, try them now. I want to see something."
Amy looks to Shei. "Can you still make dark portals?"
Shei-Sher smiles, relieved he may have one last sordid adventure with his oldest of pals>>757935>>757934
"Oh right- let's see about that." Shei flourishes a hoof to conjure a dark corridor, both ends in close proximity for everyone to see.
"My mode of transportation is short with my walking on air, so I doubt it'll do what you're wishing to test."
Shorthorns looks to Voyage weirdly as his ears seem to straight, causing her to turn her head sideways as she tries to gauge just what is going on with her bullfriend. "Voyage, you're acting funny, is everything okay?"
As he turns around on joining them, Shorthorns smiles, bowing her head, "Ahh… t-that actually makes me feel a lot better Voyage, thank you. I was kind of hoping we could do this together, you… I-it's just gonna feel right, you know?" As he says he needs to talk to Tantra first she nods, "Absolutely. I can talk to Wireframe too, make sure she's okay with it.">>757934>>757931>>757933
"Well, I guess that makes sense. Alright, I guess we just get moving on to this Hanging Port. Though, question," she turns her head, "What's a pizza again?">>757933
Shorthorns looks excited, "Wait, do you… are you remembering something about this place?"
"Not THIS place specifically," Amy says. "All the memories are sort of a blur. And, that's not just because it was a long time ago or traumatizing. Tartarus just IS a blur."
As Shei conjures a Dark Corridor, you all suffer through a gruesome and peculiar sound that is equal parts grinding and squelching. Shei involuntarily stumbles, and he notes that the portal of the Dark Corridor, the one he conceived of as "the exit," is considerably closer to him than where he intended to put it."
As Cloak asserts he likely won't be affected, Holy Hours clicks his tongue. "Do not be so sure," he says, gesturing some distance away. Freischutz and Anzu are some distance down the length of the fallen building, and both appear to be trying to not slouch or stumble. It's clear they just tried their advanced flash-step technique, only to end up unexpectedly weary from the effort.
"So," the Dragon continues. "Even at Anchors, it seems Tartarus does not take kindly to moving vast distances in a hurry."
Blessings nods. "It sounds aligned with what I have read… don't ever go alone, even when you are at an Anchor. If not enough people are observing something down here, it all falls apart, and you'll cast yourself into chaos.">>757938
"Oh, Buiwong's been yakking my ear off, moreso since the others stayed behind…" Voyage says as you ask what's wrong. He silently listens to your following words, his expression grave as he picks up what's unsaid. "Yeah… you can put your trust in me. Don't worry. Our tale is going to end in victory."
Amy nods at Blessing. "It's why demons stick together down here. Even if they want to kill each other, it's still better than… the crazy stuff this place does."
"Speaking of which, I'm kind of surprised there aren't more demons around… Usually they used to crowd around the entrance on the off chance it ever opens…"
Shei nearly falls backward as the awkwardl close exit portal sends his footing back. His ears folding back as he grabs at them even closer to his face when the corridor makes the revolting noise. "Not as intended! Not at all."
Shei steps up to his portals to get a good gander at them, to see if they look weird in any way "Well, I suppose that settles the question on dark corridors then."
Soon after he follows his respective group down their respective stretch of desiccated cityscape.
The others suddenly look around at this observation… but just as Amy said, there are truly no Umbrals to be found around here…
"If that's the case," Blessings says, turning to Amy. "…There might be something here now that's keeping them away. Does that sound about right?"
Shorthorns smiles at Amy, "Still, it feels familiar? Like somewhere you used to live? That's great! That actually sort of makes this easier, like… we're visiting an old home of yours.">>757940
"Ah," Shorthorns says, recalling Buiwong's ability to speak through one's mind. As he picks up on her meaning, Shorthorns smiles again, leaning forward to lightly but firmly bonk her white-furred head against his skull. "I know I can. And I know it is. Just would be all the better to make sure we're together when it happens, huh?">>757940
As the dark corridor experiment ends in failure, Shorthorns looks to the others. "Well, that's unfortunately, but definitely not unexpected. No way Tartarus was gonna be that easy. And who knows, maybe the Dark Corridor can still do useful things for us, there's more than one use for them I'm sure."
"Fair enough, I'll step with patience. I'm used to it." Leather nods back to Holy Hours, bemused that even the short distance is so taxing.
Amy shrugs. "You're probably right. But, who would have added that? When was the last time anyone even opened the door?">>757945
"Kinda…" Amy smiles slightly. "But, It's not really the kind of home you ever WANT to come back to…"
"Someone on the inside who would not want it opened," Blessings says.
Once more, the vast expedition team set out, sticking together in a tight group down the side of the slanted tower. Eventually you reach the bottom, where the foundations of the tower jut out, twisting and bent and broken like the roots of an uprooted plant. It is the same everywhere you look, stretching onwards for miles in every direction. Most of the airspace is just as crowded as the ground; towering plates of earth and metal stab, criss-crossing through the sunless sky, glowing with a strange un-light. The plates seem to be host to totally different building materials and architecture from the rest of the city, perhaps suggesting their origin in another time, and another world.
"A thought," Vizsla begins. "If I may propose it. We spent most of our day exploring God's Entombed. Soon most of us will need some sleep. If this city is so peculiarly devoid of Umbrals as it seems, would it not be prudent to find a place to rest anon?"
"Maybe not, but, it's still a home. Good or bad, there's history there. I'm not old enough to remember, but my parents used to tell me about bad places our ancestors needed to migrate from. I thought it'd still be nice to see where our paths have tread in the past.">>757948
Shorthorns keeps close to the collective as they make their way carefully down the side of the tower, using her powers to shape stone to make foot-holds for whoever it'd help (as well as to test her abilities in this new hostile environment). As they reach the bottom where the gnarled 'roots' of the metal building shoot out, Shorthorns climbs atop of one of them to get a look at the dismal scene around them. "Exploring this place first seems like a good idea before we push forward, give us one last chance to get our bearings. Does anyone know if anything will attack us if we stand too still for too long?"
"I may feel just as entombed as God's chosen if I spend a night in this rubble. But then again, it may be the last peaceful sleep we have before truly setting hoof into Tartarus. The thought of camping out one last time does linger attractively to me."
Shei speaks allowed to anyone who's listening, apparently discombobulated from this entire experience. Though they haven't even made much head way yet.
"I don't mind, I rather like exploring ruins too. Who knows if we might find something interesting from another world or timeline that was dumped here. I doubt only empty buildings were brought down here, there are plenty of inanimate things that have value too." Leather shrugs, scoping over the ruins with his rifle to see if there's any location that looks particularly cool.
[1d10] scoped perceptionRoll #1 7 = 7
Cloak takes a scoped survey of the area. He notes that, scattered amid the vast ruins of a mishmash of ancient cities, there are a great many statues of mortal beings. Many races are represented among them, but whatever their race, they are all of towering proportions, standing head and shoulders above any mortal of your day and age. They seem almost like the more personified iconography of the gods of Accorsia, perfected bodies clad in finery just as much as they are armor. Another peculiar detail about them is that the statues are all in far more dynamic and unconventional poses than what a stone-worker might usually take on for a commission. Almost all of them seem to be in the middle of battle, weapons and magic captured mid-strike. Even the plasmic and ethereal effects of their spells are captured about them in stone.
Freischutz, having recovered from her earlier weariness, studies a nearby statue through her rifle-scope. "Zhink zhey're a good place to camp out?"
"I can't imagine why anyone on the inside would want that…"
Amy looks around as Viszla makes her suggestion. "It's just so weird…" she thinks out loud. "Why would there not be anyone here?"
Then, an idea pops in Amy's head. "If there's no one here, then maybe there's a reason we shouldn't want to stay here too…" she says, looking around at everyone.
"Where else, than a camp under the wing of greater men before us." Shei agrees with the location for their camp. Trailing off with a skip, he seems particularly eager to gather a closer look of the statues' artistry.
"Well," Vizsla says. "Anyone who doesn't have the gumption to spend the night here can get on with their journey, since we're traveling separately anyway."
"But who knows how far away the next Anchor is?" Anzu asks.
"And," Lion begins, "How are we to know if the group that stays behind is going to reach the same Anchor as the rest of us?"
"Just a risk we'll have to take," Vizsla says nonchalantly, earning leers from the others.
"Long as they don't come to life. At the very least, it's an easy thing to spot to come back to, maybe in a ruin nearby just to put some space between a falling stone hoof and sleeping bodies. Could still use it as a rendezvous spot and respective groups could wander as they desire while knowing there's a safe place to rest to come back to."
As Amy brings up a fair point, Shorthorns says to the others, "Amy may be right… if there's a reason no one's here maybe that means it's not safe to stay here. But," she says to Amy, "We don't necessarily know NO ONE is here yet. Let's check out the statues at least, it couldn't hurt. If there are people there, we can take that as a good sign as it's a place to rest. It does sort of look like a place where you'd get good cover, huh?"
"If people are here, that's kinda just as bad…" Amy contemplates out loud. Then, she shrugs and says. "I guess if everything sucks, we should just rest whenever we feel like it."
Leather and Freischutz stay somewhat overhead, directing the expedition team through the shattered and wreckage-filled streets. They take care to make sure they see the others and that the others see them, having learned after Freischutz's earlier scrape with the dangers of not being observed by many.
Eventually, they reach the nearest statue, a titanic rendering of a minotaur, decked in armor of a style far foreign to yours. He wields a great hammer, and he is mid-swing, mid-stride, his body nearly a blur of motion, captured so eerily perfectly in stone, midway through a strike that looks like it could pulverize the slabs of earth sticking up all around you. His expression is one of unquenchable fury, a near-blind hatred kindled by unjustifiable wrongdoing… his eyes are fixated on a far-off, unseen target.
"…On second thought," Vizsla says. "Let's make camp a bit further out from this one's shadow."
"They've arrived, let's move up." Leather notes to Freischutz, feeling comfortable being partnered with another sharpshooter.
Shorthorns looks towards Amy, finding herself divided between the options of finding people there, or not. "It doesn't hurt to check out either way. If there's people there it'd be good to know what kind we can expect here in Tartarus."
Reaching towards the massive, imposing statue of the minotaur above, Shorthorns can only stare in admiration of the imposing figure, finding respect and awe of his brutal might overpowering any sense of dread as she leers up at it.
"Why?" She asks Vizsla as they suggest moving further away. "He seems quite powerful, like he'd protect us from anything that'd come our way doesn't he?"
Amy laughs. "Maybe now you guys can see why I'm so 'reckless'," she says the word mockingly. "I'd much rather get ambushed and know what I'm up against than just be scared of what's around every corner. That's the way Tartarus is."If one thinks about it, then they'd realize that Amy was still reckless loooong before she regained her memories of Tartarus.
You and Freischutz hop ahead through the air, carefully combing the perimeter for any sort of presences or entities. However, in all the vast city, there are none other who live and move, besides you two. Few and far between, you espy statues like those you have seen thus far, depicting some ancient champion. No two seem to have the same style of armor, though all seem to be of comparable stature and might.
"Scope ist clear," Freischutz notes. "It's… vell, far from mein expectations. I suppose ve should be grateful, ja? Vhat do you zhink?">>757975
"Or, he could take our heads off if he proves to be more than mere statue," Vizsla says.
Galton raises her claw as others open their mouths to suggest other courses of action.
"Hold, you lot," Galton begins. "Why don't we take the council of one who has been down here before?"
She turns to Amy. "Well, how about it? Do you think we should make camp here or be on our way?"
Amy shrugs. "Like I said, it's gonna suck either way. Caution isn't gonna help you much. Might as well rest when you feel like it. And, we're not gonna be able to feel like it if we leave the anchor. At least if we leave ourselves vulnerable now, then we will know who is around to attack us."
Shei considers Vizsla's comment with an sense of disappointment "If these statues animate themselves in the dead of our slumber to pose an attack, I will demand the destinies to wrack me with turmoil that could at least keep me entertained. Such an irredeemable cliche. In fact, I may as well tempt the fates and assign myself some demise forthright- so we can move on from the tepid scene."
Shei's cape rises to split into two wings that flounce upon the ground with great force, blowing wind before him as he launches himself toward the Minotaur statue, Axe posed he deigns to cleave the Statue in two.
>Griffon Flight: Griffons can fly, and have a +1 bonus to divebomb attacks from high altitude. This is about as taxing as running at full speed>Highlander: passive; You naturally adapted to the conditions of mountainous areas. Cold damage is reduced by 1 (minimum of 1 damage). Rolls affected by Goatcraft are automatically successful in mountainous terrain. Your attacks made from high ground receive a +1 bonus.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
"I'm in agreement. If we're gonna be ambushed, might as well be while we're awake instead of when we stop to rest, right?">>757978
Shorthorns takes another long look up at the statue above, turning back to Vizsla. "You think it might be? More than a statue, I mean. What else do you suppose it could be, alive?">>757980>>757979
"It is also the closest statue we've found. I wouldn't mind checking out some of the other ones just to get a look, it's a BIG city."
Knowing Freischutz has his back with her rifle, Leather sticks to keeping his shield up, "I am in my element among buildings and ruins, so I am not complaining so far. I was born and raised with rooftops and sewers as my domain, so I vastly prefer this to vegetation."
He looks at the material that the buildings are made of, investigating the makeup of any bricks or metals or glass out of mild curiosity, "It is not all foreign, worlds or eras beyond our own do have their similarities it seems. I wonder what certain aspects and traits all civilizations eventually converge to. Surely there must be some constants."
"Vith zhe Anomalies pouring in zhings from other Volds, I have often vondered zhat myself… do you zhink you may encounter a doppelganger of yours, vere you to enter another Vorld?"
"Ooh," Anzu says. "I sure hope so. I bet my doppelganger is quite skilled and successful, whatever her passions."
"I… I am sure meine does not have such an impressive gun collection as meine own," Freischutz says, her voice awkward and unused to casual banter. Anzu politely laughs and nods, sparing her Chorister from social awkardness. It is a pleasant distraction from the imposing surroundings.>>757984>>757980>>757982>>757981
The axe makes a bonking sound as it collides with the statue's head, but nothing happens beyond that. Shei does not even score a crack upon the stone.
The others watch Shei and the statue quite carefully, evidently expecting him to be rent apart by some vengeful beast of stone, but the statue remains inert and inanimate.
"I like it," Sir Gegenschein says. "Why not make camp here?"
"Apart from your reasons being simply to contradict me?" Vizsla sneers.
"Now now," Ichimonji interjects. "The both of you are beautiful young ladies."
"Ah, you think so?" Gegenschein asks. "I do try my best."
"But I am in agreement with Vizsla," Ichimonji continues, rolling her eyes. "Pressing onward without rest is simply foolhardy. Guards shall be posted throughout the… hardly can you call it 'night' down here, but through our hours of rest nonetheless. I suggest a guard from every group should stay up at each shift."
"You make it sound like we don't trust each other," the Dragon says with a laugh.
"I wonder what gives me that idea," Ichimonji retorts.
Shei hasn't given up apparently. The axe swings back into his guitar grip and a mighty *RANG* is strum from his instrument.
>Go, Go, Go!: Once per combat; For the next 3 turns, you and all allies may take an extra action. On a natural crit, that's 2 extra actions.
>I Dream of Alchemy+2: Instant; Thrice per session; Forge a small- to medium-sized object out of a natural elemental source, such as water or earth. If this object is a weapon, it carries the elemental properties* of the material it was made from and is +1 quality on a critical forging roll. Objects made with this skill disappear after a few hours. If this skill is used to make Bits or fake documents, they are obviously counterfeit upon close inspection. Keys made with this skill work just as well as their real counterparts, but break after being used. Forging an object requires access to an amount of source material equivalent in size to the desired object.
[1d10] to ensure the alchemy roll gives a +1 on successRoll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 6 + 2 = 8
/ Roll #3 7 = 7
"Shei, what are you doing?" Amy asks in an amused tone. "The statue hasn't done anything to you. Don't be mean to it."
"I have made many choices in my lifetime, so who knows what variations could be found in another world. There could be a Leather Cloak that is well respected tanner or haberdasher, were I to follow my other parent's hoofsteps."
Leather smiles politely to Freischutz, "I am sure yours is the greatest across all worlds, indeed.">>757985
"Settling in a ruin nearby allows us to use the statues as a returning point for exploration's sake, while allowing us to be distanced enough should they start to stir for any reason. I say we claim a ruin a couple building's distanced."
Shorthorns nods towards Ichimonji, "Then I'm in agreement too. We can afford to take a look at one or two more statues to find one that suits us best for defending ourselves over 'night'. I'll volunteer for the first watch from our group, as well.">>757986>>757987
As Shei keeps hammering away at the giant statue's massive head, Shorthorns turns towards him along with Amy and suggests, "I bet he's trying to show off for you, feeling intimidated by such a mighty looking minotaur standing above us."
Shei hits it harder, but still nothing happens. The others start to back away, and you get the implacable feeling that Shei might want to reconsider this course of action.>>757988
"Ach, I am so lonely," Freischutz mutters.
"Now's not the time for an existential or marital crisis, Sir," Anzu reminds her.
Freischutz flies over to the rest of the group. "If ve are going to make camp, Cloak und I shall find us a better place avay from zhese statues, provided zhe goat does not provoke one into attacking us."
"I don't know…" Hurricanrana says. "If I was an inanimate statue, I think I'd have woken up and pulverized somebody hitting me with a guitar by this point!"
"Y-yeah, we're probably fine to move on…" Supper says. You note that she is already dressed in pajamas.
"Well, look at the size of it. Shei might be a god now too but hitting something that big, maybe he doesn't even notice it. If I were that big and I were taking a nap, I'd think it'd take something much bigger to wake me up."
She shrugs, "Assuming it's even alive, I still think it may just be a statue. But I can go help you and Cloak find a campsite if I can be of any help."
"Do you think you would befriend yourself, would they have the same interests and personality?" Leather muses, stifling a laugh as a thought crosses his mine, "Or mayhaps more than befriend?">>757990
"And if I were an animate statue, I hold the strategy of however many lifetimes and wait to catch a large group at guard when they're possibly splintered into camps." Leather responds back to Hurricanrana, "Patience and caution in foreign lands brings better results."
"This statue had the very nerve to haunt me!">>757989
"I AM THE MIGHT MINOTAUR!" Shei Bellows>>757990
Shei brandishes another skyward strike, the whir of air being sliced sounds as his axes flies straight onto the Statue
[1d10+3]Roll #1 9 + 3 = 12
"I AM THE MIGHTY MINOTAUR!"
Amy giggles. "You don't have to show off for me, Shei. Besides, showing off with violence is kinda a bad idea in Tartarus…">>757990
"I doubt the statues are gonna hurt us," Amy says as she notices a lot of people feeling scared of them. "Heck, they might be the reason no one is around. Which would be good. Maybe…"
"Anyway, if we're gonna rest, let's just rest here, already.">>757993
"Are you okay?" Amy asks with a laugh.
Leather places his shield between Shei and the statue,
"Calm yourself, child." Leather says, tanking the hit.>Protect: Statue
Shorthorns shakes her head at Shei's continued bravado, and then looks to Amy with a smile. "Actually I think it's cute. In the Climbing Fire tribe, the guys would compete against each other for the attention of the girls all the time. A statue probably isn't something to be concerned about stealing you, but still, I think it's bold of Shei to challenge something a thousand times bigger than him for you."
Renon's Experiment/Electric *Vector Guitar
Vector: All attacks with this weapon have greater knockback, sending the target away from you based on how much your roll exceeded the DC.
>Mortal Inheritance: passive; the effect and usage of switchcane, witching lantern, sefer yad, cloudsmithstaff, book of beasts, cloak of beasts are now racial abilities and spell tagged. [Lantern is still required for Chorazin's Miracle]>passive; effect and usage
>Precise Switch Cane of: *Gravity and *Time [Spelltagged]
Using gravity element
[making a crater with this strike]
"You don't get through Tartarus by showing off," Amy rolls her eyes.
"Ach, gods–!" Freischutz gasps, considering a more ominous possibility. "Vhat if mein doppelganger… ist ein stallion!?"
"Sir Freischutz, Cloak, I think we best keep clear heads while down here," Anzu repeats, getting annoyed.
"I vonder vhat he… nein, nein!" Freischutz hisses, and splashes herself with water from a skin. Clearly the thought has not yet left her mind.
Anzu gives you a withering look.>>757993>>757995>>757996>>757997
Before Shei can make his final attack – perhaps in more than one sense – Cloak leaps in front of the strike, and absorbs it with his shield, a small shockwave erupting from the site of impact. Cloak skids away, but comes to a halt and holds his ground, despite the nerve-thrilling ripples coursing through his flesh.
>Damage and Vector push Negated by Vanguard.
The eyes of the minotaur statue now look at Shei.
Taking heed of this, Ecclesians, Witches, Light Brigaders and Spiders alike have begun to move elsewhere for a campsite, leaving the Saviors to deal with this mess.
"Compose yourself!" Volkama orders. "Sir Cloak, offer not your own health for this foolishness! Boy, has the darkness already enshrouded your mind!? What are you doing fighting something inanimate, when we have not yet even faced our first Umbrals!?"
"I had no plans to shed my own blood for this statue, forgive my action appearing to look as if I would ever." Leather bows slightly to Volkama, flashing Anzu a quick knowing grin before dusting himself off.
Shei lands before the statue and points, announcing a reply to Volkama's question "Aha! but it is animate. It's eyes moved"
Shei-Sher projects his aura outward to encapsulate the entire party and the statue. His aura illuminating the spirit of the statue, illuminating it's voice and mind or whichever resource it has to communicate a voice.
>PHASE AURA: Your body sheds light in a small radius of 5 meters, in a color you choose when you learn this skill. All creatures in this range cannot turn invisible or become hidden, creatures already hidden or invisible are made clear, and incorporeal beings and lingering magical effects and wards manifest a visible shape. Effect persists roll minus five turns (six lasts one, seven lasts two, etc.)
"How do you do minotaur. I've placed a spotlight on your spirit so you might speak. What is your occupation in this place? What name did this realm we find ourselves in, once have?"Roll #1 4 = 4
As the eyes of the massive statue move in the wake of Leather blocking Shei's latest assault, Shorthorn's hairs stand on end, staring upwards at the colossus with shock.
"It… its eyes DID move, I almost can't believe it! It really IS alive!"
As Volkama shouts up at Shei, Shorthorns joins in, "SHEI! If that thing's moving after all, then that changes things, knock it off before I come up there and knock it off FOR you!"
Amy waves at the statue. "I'm sorry! My boyfriend is dumb!" she says to it in a friendly but apologetic tone. She waves in a vigorously friendly manner at the statue.>>758003>>758001
"He's probably here to stop people from fighting, stupid," Amy rolls her eyes at Shei.
Forgot to roll for being friendly.
>[1d10] DC-4 normal social roll>>758004
"Which is an even BETTER reason to not attack it," Amy points out.Roll #1 9 = 9
"I'm not dumb! I just get excited." Shei complains
The statue offers no further reaction.
"Unlike you, I have something to do down here!" Wireframe snaps at Shei. "So don't go endangering that just because you're subject to violent outbursts!"
"If we let them get too far ahead, they'll take the good campsites," Gadriel says, tugging at Shei's arm. "Let's go. Just because something has horns doesn't mean you have to play horns with them, alright?"
"Besides, my horns are bigger than the both of yours!" Rus Tea asserts. "If you're going to fight anyone, fight me! …Preferably once we are out
Shei scratches the back of his let down by the outcome "Harumph, I really thought he might speak to us. You're right we best be going. Sorry about that." Shei pays the statue no further mind as he resorts to following his companions to a likely camp site.
Shei scratches the back of his head, let down by the outcome
"If the statue wanted to have a conversation with us, he would have said 'Hello'. There's a saying back in my tribe, I think it goes something like… 'Don't wake the Sleeping Dragon without good cause'. If he doesn't feel like talking to us, then that's that."
She shoots up along Rus Tea, waving the others along. "Come on, we've bothered Sir Minotaur enough. Let's go check out the rest of the city."
"Aha, patience prevails again. Let us start our search."
Leather goes broken window-shopping for a nice ruin to settle up in to for the night.
[1d10] searchRoll #1 6 = 6
"And, dumb people get excited easily!" Amy retorts. "I should know!">>758008
"What do horns have to do with this, Rusty?" Amy asks with a laugh.
"Might I add- Leather, I commend your profound respect for the arts in lending your security to such a beautiful statue. It would've been pretty remorse to have destroyed such wonderful piece.">>758013
"Maybe excitement only causes smart people to do dumb things. Allie was prone to bouts of excitement just as much as I am.." Shei thinks on that for a moment "Hm, there's a cautionary tale in there."
"All of us who have horns, when we see each other, feel the urge to lock those horns in combat! You would not understand it, hornless one! Horr horr horr.">>758009>>758011>>758012>>758013
By the time that you catch up with the others, they have already found a toppled structure, perhaps some manner of exchange or bank, that is the least damaged out of those buildings in the area. They have split themselves up into distinct camps, setting up tents and bedrolls in tight circles, evidently feeling no communality or comradery despite their shared mission.
Hurricanrana, Holy Hours, Gjenganger and Tantra look like they're staying up, being some of the few to have not established their sleeping arrangements just yet.
"I'll take our first watch," Busta offers. "If nobody else wants it."
Shei rests his hooves at his temples to imitate horns in a mocking gesture as he joins Rus Tea in her mocking gesture toward Amy "Horr horr horr."
Amy puts her hoof-paw to her chin in thought. "Hmm. I guess I should have said that stupid people let their excitement control them?" she says as if it's a question.>>758015
Amy stares at Rus for a moment. "I guess it's like wanting to hug people in a way…">>758016>>758015
"Well if you want to hug that badly, then we can find a place to sleep together," Amy says with a wink.
"I presume not only will we require watches that view out into the ruins, but also those to watch over the camps and make sure all continue to be perceived. We know not what could happen if we all are to stop being seen." Leather makes mention.
Shorthorns nods her head in agreement with Rus. "It's true. These horns were made for greeting one another by testing one's strength and bravery. You wouldn't find a bison out there who doesn't greet their own with a good head bump."
She jumps up to lock her horns with Rus Tea, knocking her head into hers in a friendly matter. "Of course, for you soft no-horned ponies, I learned to hold back a bit.">>758015>>758018
As the camps start to be set up among the various seperate groups, Shorthorns raises her hooves, "As I said, I can volunteer to take the first watch for our group tonight."
"I would be amendable to that" Shei says with the warmth of a genuine smile. He looks forward to sharing a bed with his girlfriend after the day is done. "Although, I can't really sleep so I may just wait for your to start snoring before I return to my work.">>758015
From within Shei's cape he retrieves a small crate of wine. It's the same wine he made at Fantasia some days ago. From blueberries raised in y'dryth's light, alchemized a mixture of dark matter, food of the gods. He has been duplicating bottles of the stuff ever since, though the hard part in it's creation is the glassmaking for more bottles.
"If there are any among you that don't sleep, perhaps you'd like to join me in some wine making?" Shei sets his crate of wine down by a disserviced Lamppost where everyone can see him and be within earshot.
Amy glares at Shorthorns jealously as she steps between her and Shei. "Well, then you're not allowed to bring those horns around my boyfriend," she says as she continues to glare.>>758020
"You can't or won't?" Amy asks with concern.
"Well. I-. never really needed sleep…" Shei spoke in a voice that was much tinier than his personality. Trying to excuse himself.
Busta nods as Shorthorned offers to take the first watch with the fellas. "Okay, I'll take watch after you." He begins to make his camp along with the rest of your group.
"Oh yeah," Wireframe says. "Shorthorned, I heard you and Voyage talking about me earlier. Something I missed?"
"Thanks for watching out for us, guys," Amy says with a thankful, vigorous wave of her hoof-paw. She then proceeds to find a soft spot on the ground to curl up on.
[1d10] to find comfy place>>758022
Amy looks at Shei while she searches for comfort. "That… doesn't sound right…" she says suspiciously.Roll #1 10 = 10
Shei shrugs and begins setting up his workplace. A collection of vials are soon laid out. The crate of wine bottles, He burns a jasmine incense as a nicety to his work place.
Shei begins by preparing the glass for making bottles. Using his godly powers to stir nearby concrete into sand with a staff he has on hand.
[1d10] turning concrete into sand>>758024
"I'll share a bed with you tonight. I will." Shei says in a more chipper tone, to assure her that he will be keeping company with her whenever she decides to sleep for the night.Roll #1 5 = 5
"Might I suggest three watches of two per watch? Lets the watchmembers have someone looking over them too."
Leather looks back in the direction of the statue, "I could share Shei's watch."
Amy smiles at the chance to snuggle. "I'm just surprised that this hasn't come up before."
"Amy I haven't slept a single night on the ship. I have always been busying myself with projects during that time. As a practitioner of the occult, I needed to find some time away from our adventures to keep up with my studies. Just as well- When do you think I had the time to practice my dance routine for our contact ritual with Crow-ley."
Shorthorns chuckles, shaking her head. "Hey, locking horns doesn't mean THAT kind of hello, either you know! Would you really think I'd try to steal Shei from you?">>758023>>758026
Shorthorn nods in agreement with Busta to take the first watch, then turns to look to Cloak as he offers his suggestion. "I think that sounds like a good idea. In which case, I could share with Busta on the first watch.">>758023
As Wireframe approaches her, Shorthorns nods, "AH! Yeah, actually I did want to ask you something Wireframe, if it'd be okay."
"Well… I was thinking, would you be okay if you and Great Voyage switched groups? I was thinking about what sort of abilities might help everyone and, well, I think ours is lacking a little in raw muscle like Voyage." She says, trying to down play her clear biases
"No wonder you're constantly getting into so much trouble…" Amy ponders. "You probably could have explained that back when I asked you to stop doing things behind my back and keeping secrets.">>758029
"Have you SEEN the size of his horns?" Amy says as if that's a response.
Shei manages to make a decent enough spot for you all to sleep in relative proximity without having to endure cold stone and uneven terrain. It looks like the other factions are making do with their own supernatural provisions to make more habitable campsites. Busta nods. "I was already planning to be up. Shorthorned, how about we talk with the other guys on the first watch about where they want to set up?">>758029
Normally, this is where the short-tempered and anti-social Wireframe would make some crass or abrasive remark. However, she just shrugs. "Okay. So, I'm going with Buiwong's group then?"
"Correct," Voyage says. "I don't believe you ever met the higher-ranked members of the cultus, did you? I can introduce–"
"No, no, I'll be fine," Wireframe says, her voice oddly calm. "I'll handle my introductions. You all make sure you get to the next Anchor alive, though, alright?"
"Uh… sure, we will," Voyage says as she walks off. "Odd… she's not usually like that, is she?"
"It seems to me like she's one of the only people here doing the right things and not being confrontational," Amy comments as she takes the comfiest spot for herself.
Leather has little to add, instead checking out the rubble for any neat signs of language or symbolage given this may have used to be a bank.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Amy?" Shei looks to where you've curled up on the ground "Are you going to sleep so soon? You want to help me with wine making? You can drink some." Shei asks, a little begging for the company. He had hoped someone from ecclessia or the witches would be enticed to help with wine-making.>>758031
Shei sheds his aura again to serve as a nightlight. Not 5 meters, but about 1 foot around his body he projects a warm glow to serve as light for his workplace and a night light for the camp.
>PHASE AURA: Your body sheds light in a small radius of 5 meters
Shei-Sher begins scoping up sand in a bucket and with only using his hooves manipulates the sand particles to become glass. As he works his hooves he molds the glass pieces into the shape of a bottle. He repeats this process for some time, making multiple bottles as preparation for the wine making.
[1d10] making glass bottlesRoll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
"Oooh! Drinking!?" Amy says excitedly as she hops back up.
Shorthorns grins widely. "…Voyage's are bigger.">>758031
As Busta agrees to stay up with her, Shorthorns nods her head in agreement. "Sure, I'd be okay with that. Best to coordinate with them all while we can.">>758031
Shorthorns prepares herself for Wireframe taking the request poorly, but is equally surprised when she goes along with it so well, looking at her as she moves along. "T-thank you, Wireframe, I promise we will. You make sure you get there too, alright?" She says in gratitude, before looking to Voyate.
"…no, that went way better than I thought it would. I'm sure she would have gone along with it eventually but, not that easy. Maybe she's being more easy-going cause of how dangerous things are…? Or do you think something else is up."
"kehehe, I knew you would like to." Shei presents you with a finely corked bottle of wine "It's very special stuff. A concoction made from dark matter and essence sourced directly from the Ember of Jalandhra. Also the base is blueberries. I like to watch my stock grow so as of recent I've been duplicating the wine and storing it. One day I'll have labels and a proper logo for the vintage."
There is some etched graffiti on what may have been a foundational stone for a pillar, but it is in a language you cannot decipher.>>758032>>758036
"I guess I'm just too used to hearing about the contrary from Buiwong," Voyage says. "She said earlier that she has something to do down here. Did she ever tell you what?">>758032>>758033>>758034>>758036
There is a quiet discontent as the rest of your group sets up their campsites. It does not take much in the way of perception to tell that they miss the other half of their allies already. They make idle conversation about rather inane, forced topics – anything to clear their minds of their allies upon the surface World.
As Shei prepares some wine bottles, the malakhim peer out from his cloak. "Shei, we were thinking…" the trianglist begins. "It's going to be crowded with Flow and Voyage and all of us in one group. We'd best join the others to even things out a bit."
Flow, sitting nearby, nods to this assessment.
Shei a bit startled when he feels the malekhim file out of his cape. "Yes, I had thought to bring this up too. I just hate to break up the band during our opening appearance at Tartarus."
Shei picks up a bottle of wine from his crate and gives it to the Malechim "Find a group then with a vacancy for you three and give them this. A little alcohol helps everything go down smoother."
Shorthorns' eyes light up, and she lowers them in slight disappointment. "Oh my… n-no, I don't. Actually, in all of the days we had leading up to this, so many things happening… I might have let it slip, but she did say that. I have no idea what she means though. Do you think it'd help to ask or, is that not really something she should share now that she's here?">>758038
The quiet of the camp lingers, at the static sounds of tinnitus seeps into Shei head again, intensifying in place of lacking stimulation. He tries to ignore by murmuring to himself quietly, but the constant droning noise makes the calm impossible for Shei to endure. Nonetheless he keeps to his work trying not to draw notice to his disability.
After several buckets of sand Shei has a row of 6 glass bottles. Taking bottle of wine he uncorks it. Shei carefully taps the bottle ring a tone. Soon it beings frothing and duplicating it's contents.
Shei begins pouring the overflowing wine bottle to fill his other empty glass bottles one at a time.
>I Dream of Alchemy+2: Instant
[1d10+2]Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
Amy says little about the Malechim choosing to go with another group. She eyes them with some discontent, but says nothing else.
Her mood is uplifted when she sees the wine pouring. She bounces with excited enthusiasm, waiting for a bottle to be handed to her. Yes, an entire bottle.
Leather sketches the graffiti as the others deliberate.
"Think of it this way," the Trianglist says as he walks off with the bottle. "Splitting up will let us cover more ground for music sampling.">>758040
"Well… I don't know. I think you may have traveled with her longer than me. I knew of her, back in the Empire, but hardly spoke with her until recently. If it sounds like something emotionally charged, be careful," Journey says. "Like Anzu said, it's best to keep a clear head down here.">>758041>>758043>>758042
You make some wine. Feel free to describe its scent, taste, weight and so on at your discretion. This attracts the attention of the gentlecolts who are staying up for the first watch – Holy Hours, Hurricanrana, Gjenganger and Tantra. Though they stay near their respective camps to keep an eye on their groups, their interest in the wine is apparent.
Shorthorns nods. "Right. That's part of what I feared most about asking her to go with Buiwong's group, was since she hadn't known them as long as she had us…. I'll keep a level head, but I owe her enough as a friend to make sure everything's okay."
She softly nods her head towards Voyage's, bumping her horns lightly against his, smiling before she goes to track down Wireframe.
"I wonder if I should try drinking using my artifact. It is a chalice after all." Leather muses.
Amy continues to bounce shorter and faster hops until she approaches the point she is practically vibrating with impatient excitement. Still, she is a good girl and waits until she is handed her wine.
>>758045>* That's part of what I feared most about asking her to go with Buiwong's group, was since she hadn't known them as long as she had us
"That's part of what I feared most about asking her to go with Buiwong's group, was since she'd been traveling with us for so long and hadn't been back with them."
It smells like a bouquet, scintillating notes of bright flavors penetrate the nose, the faint sweetness seducing the nose to a heavier body. When imbibed the exotic tastes are noticed in bold, a robust blueberry flavor liquored in a delicate oil like sample imparted by the dark matter which transmits mahogany flavors onto the tincture, the flavor transforms as the aftertaste is a soft, sweet bubbly reprisal of alcohol. Best served during spring, at formal gatherings, weddings, meetings with dignitaries, or celebrating the purchase of land. It is a drink with a very noble genre of tastes associated to it as any fine wine drinker might notice. The alcohol content is 16 percent.>>758041>>758042
Shei smiles to Amy, excited to see her excited. He gives her a bottle "The best part about wine is sharing wine."
Shei nudges his head in the direction of the ecclessians watching Shei make wine. "Let's give them a proper greeting."
Shei piles the 5 bottles of wine into an empty crate>>758044>>758047
Shei walks over to the colts staying up for the first watch, in a dopey voice Shei imitates to say playfully in jest "But does he keep all the wine to himself?"
And then speaks normally "No the Goat doesn't keep all the wine to himself." He hands them a bottle "Enjoy."
"What does the artifact do?" She asks, happy to see another friend lend him company.
Wireframe looks up from her tent and bedroll as she sets them up, wearing an expectant look as you approach.
The fellas on first watch start to pass out goblets with some of Shei's wine poured in, giving him the first toast.
"Aha, I believe I was able to use it to collect the blow of an attack headed towards you during our last multi-headed encounter. Once the chalice is full I must imbibe that same damage that was headed your way, but I imagine it also functions as a normal chalice as well.
>The Chalice of the Centurion: Relic; Recharge 3; Automatic Instant; The holder of the chalice can designate a target at any point during their turn. This turn, they will take all damage meant for that target. All damage taken through this effect is the original value of that damage; it cannot be modified by any factor, such as Attribute Relationships, Crits or Critfails, damage negating effects, etc.
"OBVIOUSLY the best part about wine is drinking it," Amy says with a grin before throwing back a third of the bottle. When she puts it down, she lets out a satisfied sigh. Then a hiccup.>>758052
Amy raises her bottle to the toast and chugs more of the wine happily.
Shorthorns approaches her as she sets up her camp, taking a brief respite from her watch duties to speak with her. "Hey Wireframe. I hope you don't mind my catching you before you rest for the night."
She steadies her breath, steeling her nerve. "I just wanted to make sure you were really okay with switching places with Voyage. It's okay if you don't want to either, and it was a sudden change. If you have any disagreements, it's best to face them head on and not let 'em linger, is what I think."
"A cup is a cup I suppose." Shei pours you some wine to fill your chalice>>758054>>758053>>758052
"To good food, good wine, good music, and good health." Shei raises his goblet to clink with everyone else's cups at the toast.
He leaves the rest opened wine bottle in the company of the first watch to enjoy.
After the toast and the drink, Shei picks up his crate of wine and heads over to the Ecclessian camp to offer them a bottle.
Leather sips from the Chalice of the Centurion, morbidly curious of it'll affect him adversely.
"No, it really is fine," Wireframe says. "Sure, I might have traveled with your group longer, but I fought for Buiwong long before meeting any of you. I fit in with either group."
Her assent seems sincere, but… a buffalo's intuition does not steer
her wrong. Is it for the reason she has given?>>758053>>758054>>758055>>758056>>758057
After it's established that the wine is not poisoned or simply poor-tasting, some food accompanies it, but the drinking is minimal, and the eating light. Mostly, the other groups keep quiet and to themselves, trying in their various ways to ease their minds into sleep. But in this place, with this mission, it will be long before any of them are able to relax enough to rest.
>Pause, timeskip available next session when chosen
Filling some downtime, Leather fetches some burnt section of ruins usuable enough to make some rubbings of the grafitti he saw earlier ( >>758038
), documenting the foreign language to pass the time.
Shorthorns does not leer too hard at Wireframe, not wanting to come across as too judgemental or mistrusting. But, all the same, her divine gut tells her something is up, and she dares to push a little further.
"Wireframe… I don't mean to be acting all flip-floppy on this, I would like if if Voyage could come with us, but I just need to be sure: there really isn't any reason you wouldn't be okay with that? Sorry if I'm way off here but I just… my stomach's telling me there's a reason you're not."
You record the message, though there may be no way to interpret it in the future, lest you come across more discarded wreckage from its World of origin.
When Shei has had his fill of good mirth he picks up his crate of wine, the sound of clinking glass accompanying Shei's departure "I'll take my leave then. Enjoy the watch."
Carrying the crate of wine in both arms Shei-Sher makes his way toward the Ecclessian camp, the ambient glow of his aura indicating his presence without disturbing anyone's sleep, as to let them know that he isn't intent on sneaking by them. Shei-Sher looks for someone who is awake to gift the wine to.
Wireframe shrugs and shakes her head. "What? Regretting your choice already? Does he smell or something? Look, we're all getting to the same place. What difference would it make if I'm in one group or another?"
She hesitates, then goes on. "Besides… my goals probably align with theirs better…">>758181
Lion, Viper and Doctor Galton have taken the first watch, it seems. The others, even the owl griffon Sir Gegenschein, have taken to sleep.
"Ahuhuhu," Galton says as you approach. "Lucky us for staying up. If it's poisoned, I'm afraid I have bad news."
"I find it hard to believe he would offer poison to assassins, Doctor," Viper says. "It's a rather banal gift."
"Don't be a downer," Lion says. "Some poison would hit the spot right now."
"What?!" Shorthorns shakes her head, "No, no, he smells fine!" She pauses, a light hint of red appearing on her cheeks as she lowers her head. "Uh… not that I, you know, keep track or notice that or… whatever…" She coughs, clearing her throat as she tries to get back up on topic.
"…if you don't mind me asking, what ARE your goals? I think you're right, the first thing we learned about navigating Tartarus is to stick with those who are thinking about the same path, but I don't think it does any harm to tell each other what those pathes are."
[1d10] Social Roll
Roll #1 2 = 2
Roll #1 9 = 9
Wireframe openly laughs as Shorthorned talks about Voyage's smell, yet she can tell it is not derisive, but supportive.
She hesitates again as you ask about her goal. Her eyes narrow, and she leans in conspiratorially, her voice low. "Well… the revival of Lord Buiwong, of course. The power Mudi has will be enough to restore him somewhat, at least until he can get his body pieced back together."
For a changeling… she's not the best at keeping secrets. She's hiding something. You can feel it.
The copious amounts of wine Amy has already drunk hit her hard as she starts to stare off into space.
"Isn't wine like *hic* already a poison?" Amy asks as if she's saying something profound.
"I'm talking like… poison
poison," Lion says. "The real stuff, not the watered down junk for sanitization and anesthesia and lame things like that."
Amy stares at Lion for a few seconds, as if she's contemplating important life-altering things. Then, she looks to Shei and asks, "Shei, can you give me some poison too?"
"Careful now, I take pride in the wine I make." Shei-Sher warns "Bah- I deserve more credit, had I meant to poison the entire Ecclessian camp you would not see me carrying it in crates. You wouldn't sense anything at all in fact. But I simply mean to get the lot of you tipped."
Shei gifts the small group of ecclessians on the first watch a bottle of wine. and sets another wine bottle aside for the spooks and light brigade "You are a rather large group, try not to drink two bottles in one day."
Shei-Sher pops the corks off the wine bottle he's gifted them and pours it into a cup he sits between them all. With a touch of alchemy he converts the tincture into a deadly toxin
>I Dream of Alchemy+2: Instant; Thrice per session;
[1d10+2] turning the cup of wine into wine flavored deadly toxin
"For the brave soul that enjoys they're poison a little too much."Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
"Suuure! What's the harm!" Shei says maddeningly, not wishing to say no to Amy but also not wanting to hurt her.
He abides by her wish and fills another cup with wine, with a touch he converts its contents into wine flavored deadly toxin.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Shei serves a round of poison for everyone present, and they raise their glasses in a toast, then have a sip.
>Lion, Viper, Doctor Galton>Absorb: Poison
The three look at their glasses again after the wine is gone. They don't look impressed.
"Well… thank you," Galton says. "I do wonder if the Witches shall partake."
Shorthorns allows a few chuckles as well to alleviate the tension in regards to Voyage, letting out one last humorous snort before turning back to the topic.
"So, reviving Buiwong… I guess that makes sense with how long you've been with his group. And, it makes sense, but…" this time, she DOES lean in a little hard, trying her best to give her impression of the 'stern eye' she's learned from the likes of Vortigern or Ichimonji to try and get her point across. "Is that really all of it…?"
[1d10] The StareRoll #1 4 = 4
Amy watches as they drink the poison, her tail wagging. An amazed expression is written on her face. She looks down at her own bottle of poison, contemplates for a moment, then shrugs.
"Everyone absorbs poison, when you think about it," she says before downing the glass of poison.
[1d10] to safely (?) drink poisonRoll #1 1 = 1
"Should they not, they will have one delectable bottle of wine taking up their inventory. Far be it for me to rescind a gift!" He says with a mote of pride in his voice.
After they share a drink or two and some conversation Shei-Sher takes his leave again from this watches' camp and heads for where he believe the witches keep their camp. His aura still giving off a small ambient glow as a courtesy for his arrival.
He comes toward the witches bearing a half fill crate of wine.
[1d10] perception?Roll #1 5 = 5
True, but that doesn't make it a good idea. You're not even halfway down the bottle before retching it all back up, some of it even getting onto Shei, as a burning, screaming pain ravages every cell of your body from stomach up.
>You lose 2 Wounds
Through bleary, burning eyes, you see Galton looking over with interest, then she raises a hand. At first it appears to be a limp-wristed gesture, but her talons are flexed out, and upon their tips is a peculiar silver mechanism, some kind of fashionable gauntlet mixed with stomach-turning medieval medical tubing and pipes, and needles at their tips. She holds her hand out there for a moment, then lowers it. A few moments later, you feel yourself recovering.
>Amy has temporarily gained Null: Poison>>758195
There, beneath another statue, this one of a knight, captured at the moment they are brutally slammed into the earth, armor dented and weapons shattered, you see the camp of the Witches. It is bare bones, and cold, for no fire warms it. Supper of Crows, Hurricanrana and Desert Lamp are keeping watch. Impossibly, it seems, Vizsla and Mudi have trusted them enough to fall asleep around them.
Wireframe meets your stare with even steadiness, and even a bit of insulted dignity. She puffs her chest out and looks down at you from the bridge of her nose. "Whaddya mean, 'all of it'?"
Shorthorns' brow wavers for a brief instance, realizing she may have crossed a line with her friend and realizes she may be risking going against her own advice of avoiding conflict with her comrades. Still, the buffalo senses she's in for a pebble already, and doesn't back down as she meets the stare head on.
"I MEAN I think there's somethin' else. If it were really all about reviving Buiwong I feel like you would have gone with them in the first place, right? But you agreed to go with us instead, even though we're as far from that spider as it gets, and you were a little hesitant to trade with Voyage. So… is that really it?" She says, lightening her tone a bit so as not to seem too aggressive. "I feel like there's somethin' you wanna say, and I want you to know you can say it to me. I won't be mad or nothin'."
[1d10] PersuasionRoll #1 8 = 8
Though Shei expected such a reaction from Amy is still all the same startled. He frowns softly as he notices some vomit had splashed on his pants. He takes a hoof and strokes Amy's back, a modest effort to comfort her. He hardly reacts when Galton retrieves her contraption to he aid Amy, not expecting the Doctor to do any harm.
"An adequate response but clearly I make a mediocre poison if it cannot arouse the tongues of connoisseurs. I think I'll work on this." He tells Lion, Viper, and Galton with a stoked admiration for their sense of good poison. It's shortly after this Shei holds Amy's hoof and they leave the camp for the Witch's camp.>>758197
Shei arrives close enough to the three keeping watch for them to clearly see him. He puts the crate under on arm and his other arm shakes a bottle of wine in front of the so it's swishing is audible "Some wine to improve morale?"
Wireframe grimaces, and at last, she breaks away, looking downward. "Look… thanks, and all, but… I– I can't tell you. Not while you wear that Ecclesian jacket. Not while you hold loyalty to them. I'm really serious when I say that I could be a danger being in your group. I didn't think about it, since I wasn't planning to go with you or Amy, and Zjetya being gone, but… it's better that I don't get too close to Ecclesians."
[1d10] Persuasion x 2Roll #1 5 = 5
"Hell yeah, brother, bring it here!" Hurricanrana says, keeping his voice low enough to not wake the seemingly-sleeping witches.
"Am I old enough to drink?" Supper thinks aloud.
"We're… in the underworld," Desert Lamp says. "I don't think there are many laws to be concerned with. And aren't you a demon tamer?"
"Hey, hey, don't be so sure," Supper says, puffing out her cheeks. "Everyone thinks that demons are lawless and chaotic, but there are some rather well-defined rules they follow. The same with Tartarus itself. It wouldn't surprise me if there was a rigorous legisla–"
"Alright, alright," Desert Lamp says. "The answer is no, but do it anyway."
Shorthorns frowns, looking down at her Ecclesian jacket, rolling a hoof over one of the sleeves as she lets out a sigh. "…it's just a jacket."
She looks towards Wireframe. "I mean, I do consider myself a member of Ecclesia, proudly so. But my first loyalty isn't to their organization. It's to my family, my clan. A clan you're a part of, Wireframe." She moves up, putting a hoof on her shoulder. "If there's anything dangerous about anyone being in any group, now more than ever, I think it's a good idea to know about it. And I swear, no matter what it is, cross my heart and may I jump in the gullet of the Dragon, I will not tell them what it is if you don't want me too." She says, hoping her promise is enough to convince her>>758202>Will use the roll I already did
She gulps, then just blurts it out.
"I'm… planning to fight Sir Freischutz."
"Bah- Hurricanrana, you already had a share of the wine" Shei says, having drank with him just a bit ago with the first camp he shared wine with "Oh- okay, take a cup." Shei quickly relents in offering the minotaur a cup of wine, purely of the grounds of he enjoys drinking wine with folks.
Shei observes the conversation with Supper and Lamp "And a taaall glass of No for the lady." Shei emphasizes, as he pours out -indeed- a tall glass of wine for Supper.
Soon enough everyone has their cup filled, Shei sighs with good grief "I'm tired of saying the toasts. You give us a toast Lamp."
Amy vomits violently multiple times. Just when it seems she is done, she comedically vomits one last time.
"Oh wow… That was TERRIBLE," she laughs weakly.
She pulls out a potion, and drinks it.
>Natural Remedy [1d10+4] Roll #1 2 + 4 = 6
Merryflower Root [1d3]Roll #1 3 = 3
"Is this the Amy Thest patent method for sobering up?" Shei asks in jest.
"I don't really think other people should try this method," Amy groans, as if that answers the question.
"I wouldn't say terrible, but not his best work," Viper says.
You heal yourself of your missing wounds, undoing whatever organ-melting damage was wrought by the poison.>>758206
"To knowing the laws and breaking them," Desert Lamp says, and the three drink.
Hurricanrana nods with approval, while Supper twists her lips with distaste. Desert looks indifferent; wine is wine after all.
Shei feels a twain in his heart as he sees Supper curl a lip at the taste and he is compelled to investigate. "Noo.. I brew this tincture from a cosmic order of ingredients. The alchemy is with a chemical accuracy. Do you not like the dark matter additive? Is it too sweet?
As she admits to wanting to fight Sir Freischutz, Shorthorns looks at her, turning her head. "Oh… well, that's kind of surprising. I didn't know you two had history. Feels like there's actually a lot of us who wants to fight some of the others when you think about it…"
"That explains why you were concerned about Ecclesia though. But why do you wanna fight Sir Freischutz?"
"I don't get how you guys like… DO that…" Amy groans, somewhat incoherently.
"People drink this stuff!?" Supper asks, aghast. "Willingly?"
"Ooooh, like you would not believe," Lamp says, draining the rest of her glass.
"I'll tell you when you're older.">>758214
"We are very practiced," Galton says.
"Part of it's training," Lion says. "And part of it's jackassery."
"You two and Fox are all quite fond of outdoing one another," Galton says.
"Regrettably, we all have nothing on Rooster," Viper adds.>>758213https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyqNtJSQvZo
"She's… one of the last survivors of the raid that destroyed my Hive," Wireframe says. "Back when the Accorsian Empire stood… back even before I joined Buiwong's cultus. You see that metal lower jaw she wears? I was the one who tore off her flesh and bone one."
She then gestures to her glasgow smile, stitched nearly ear to ear.
"And she was the one who shot me through the face, trying to get me off of her."
She looks over at Freischutz's tent, where the Chorister presumably lies asleep. "She has to recognize me, she has to know I'm going with you all… I never wear disguises around mortals. But she hasn't said a word to me, doesn't even react to my presence. No glares, no double-takes, no avoiding my presence… and to be honest, I don't feel much a compulsion to hide from or confront her, either."
Shorthorns looks towards Freischutz, trying to stem the tide of her newfound anger for the Ecclesia leader knowing what she did to Wireframe. A wave of empathy washes over her. "For what it's worth, I can understand that. One of the reasons my clan foolishly through our lot in with Buiwong in the first place was how the Empire treated our clans…" she sighs. "I'm sorry to hear about that, I didn't know."
She nods. "I swear I won't speak a word. I don't know why Freischutz hasn't said anything to you about it yet but, maybe it's be cause she knows how big the stakes are. I don't mind if you want settle the score with her… it sounds like she deserves at least that… but I just ask you remember the primary reason we're here. We have to stop the demons, one way or another. Do you think your duel will get in the way of that?"
"You guys sound like you'd be fun to hang out with," Amy laughs, recovering from her painful experience.
[1d10] Perception rollRoll #1 9 = 9
Shei takes breathes in relief when he realizes Supper simply isn't accustomed to wine. He swirls his bottle and uses something Crow-ley said to him when Shei had his first taste of wine. “I am the Snake that giveth Knowledge & Delight and bright glory, and stir the hearts of men with drunkenness."
"Mortalkind has always delighted in exploring the unknown, especially with our sense of taste. To imbibe deadly poisons, to taming grievous monsters, in a monastery far away right now a monk inflicts himself the bloodiest flaggelations without making a peep nor frown. Why do we do the things we do indeed, the only real answer I could give you is -you grow accustomed to the taste."
You sense Wireframe tensing, her eyes narrowing, even her heart beating ever faster as she makes ready to hide again, behind another half-truth, though whether it is to you, or to herself… her gaze catches yours, and she sighs.
"I… don't know.">>758219
"Hahaha, right on, little dude," Hurricanrana says. It is unclear if any of that registered with him, yet he assents, tastefully finishing off his drink.
"I don't feel any smarter, more delighted, glorious or stirred up," Supper says. "Do I need more for it to work?"
"Probably, but let's not start the expedition with you hung over," Desert says. "Give me her share, Shei."
Shorthorns looks at Wireframe as she feels her heart beating faster and faster. The young buffalo goddess bows her head, and reaches forward to pull in Wireframe into a hug, to help calm her nerves.
"And that's okay." She holds the hug for a bit, before adding on, "You have time to figure things out. When the time comes, I have faith in you to do what's right."
She accepts your hug, and you feel slight tears in your fluff. "Thanks… I'm gonna get some sleep too. Wake me when it's time for my watch, alright?"
"Hah! that is the share" Shei points to the single bottle of wine he gave them. "Try to leave some for Mudi and Viz. I want them to try it."
Shei finishes up his chalice of wine before asking "Will you follow us to the Hanging Port once in Tartarus? I'd feel more comfortable consorting with the Umbral secretaries knowing Supper was there to play delegate.
>ready for timeskip
Shorthorns nods, as she holds the hug for as long as Wireframe needs it. "Sure thing, I'll come get you. And… thanks again, for telling me. I promise, I won't breathe a word of it to anyone."
>Ready for time-skip as well
Desert Lamp's disappointment is immeasurable, and her day is ruined. She curls up into a ball. Hurricanrana corks the bottle and sets it by Mudi and Vizsla's tent.
"I'm pretty sure Mudi wanted us all to hit the same destinations," Supper says. "So, yeah."
"Wait, how old are you, anyway?" Desert Lamp asks.
"I'm glad you asked," Supper says. "I'm>>758224>>758223>>758221>>758217>>758178
At last you retire for sleep, with each group picking no small number of representatives to keep watch over the sleepers through the semblance of night, or as near as your bodies' rhythms can tell. Those who keep the watch in successive hours idle away the time with quiet conversation to quell their nerves, while those given leave to sleep endure no small number of intrusive wonderings about this strange un-realm…
When at last you wake again, your sleep only barely restful, you find that a spartan group breakfast is in progress.
>You get one (1) breakfast post
As per the norm, Amy doesn't stir from her slumber until barely any food remains. Then, she greedily eats up whatever remains.
Leather eyes his other sniper counterpart to see if there'll be another gift of ammunition before the groups depart, but makes no mention as not to look a gift pony in the mouth.
Shorthorns awakens with a yawn, throwing off her warm blanket as she shakes off the aches and cracks in her stiff body, stomping her hooves in place as she gets ready to go get breakfast before starting up a morning stampede-run around the campsite to get her exercise in. She moves over to the site of the lofty smells coming in from the group, looking around to find Voyage in particular as she grabs her share of fried veggies wrapped up in double tortillas and sits besides him.
"Mornin'. Just to let you know, I worked things out with Wireframe. She's still good for the switch. You good on your side?"
Shei and Amy unravel out from under Shei's cape. As they had spent their sleep on a bed of Shei's own making with the extra dimensional realm inside Shei's cape all to themselves.
As Shei can see the myriad of groups waking up he gathers intuitively it's breakfast time. He straps on an apron from his wardrobe and begins duplicating ingredients from his fridge and then serving up breakfast for himself, the Bodhidharm, his malkhim, and any on lookers jealous enough to ask for a plate.
Freischutz provides 5 more bullets of the following types:
Voyage doesn't look like he slept too well. An Ecclesian has apparently proffered him a double ration of coffee, judging by the mug with the Ecclesian emblem sitting at his side.
"Yeah… ready," he says, blinking away sleep. Bags haunt his eyes.>>758226>>758227>>758228>>758229
Following breakfast, you break camp, and the groups, large as they are, trudge through twisting streets, over hills of crumbling buildings, across bridges of fallen monuments. Hours pass, uncountable, indistinct, yet no force rises to confront you, and no conversation arises as the many factions focus on keeping an eye on themselves and one another.
Until, at the last, you see it – the end of the world.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE3oGBJZviQ
The strange material under your hooves – asphalt, as some Worlds know it – leads the way to a shattered bridge, whose surface is marked with faded lines of yellow and white, and treaded black smears. The bridge extends into the shapeless, shifting un-darkness of Tartarus's expanse. To where? Why, to anywhere you want, apparently…
"Let's proceed one by one," Mudi says. "We shall go first, if there are no objections."
"Not from us," Gegenschein says.
Tantra shakes his head, as does Observer.
Mudi continues. "We have agreed to make the Anchor called the Hanging Port our first destination, is that right? Shei, what can you tell us of this place? The more we know, the better we'll fare, as I understand it."
"The only details I was privy to during my conversation with the Umbral was small chit chat in the background, offerings of coffee and the busying of employees. It sounded much like an office. In exchange for information I have been obligated with delivering a pizza to an Umbral at the Hanging Port. In his words he assured me that preparations are made to direct our party to the Hanging Port once we enter Tartarus." This is all the information Shei has.
Amy dances nervously as they hang out near the edge of an Anchor. In the middle of Mudi's sentence, Amy winces and shout-whispers at her, "What are you DOING!? Are you TRYING to get us killed!?"
Mudi arches her brow at you. Many others start to look your way.
"Don't say names near the empty places!" Amy says, pointing to the abyss nearby, as if that should be obvious. "Or in them, obviously," she adds.
Shorthorns keeps a very careful eye on Voyage as they traverse through the ruined city that sprawls around them in all directions as they push their way to the very edge along the odd black smudge that marks the road leading to it. She keeps her eyes across the others as well before they reach the long, shattered modern bridge leading into the unknown darkness that would become their paths.
As Mudi suggests one group going out at a time, Shorthorns agrees quickly. "Yeah, that works fine with me. I volunteer our group to go first, we'll scout ahead since Shei had the idea of using the Hanging Port-">>758231>>758234
As Amy shouts at Mudi for using a name, Shorthorns covers her lips quickly as she looks between them. "Uh oh… is that a rule?"
Leather bows and thanks Freischutz quietly, knowing the two both don't like to make a scene, keeping the interaction courteous and brief.>>758234
Leather raises an eyebrow, staying quiet to avoid any other faux paus.
"I mean, there aren't really RULES here. But… you can like… HEAR names out there. I've heard it's because names are supposed to catch your attention. But, things don't really work right out there. So, it catches EVERYONE'S attention. You DO NOT want that."
"I thought that would be obvious?" Amy says, cocking her head at everyone.
Somehow, you get the feeling that you will have to pay for this by being a wingpony for her theoretical male self. A complex and detailed feeling, but you get it nonetheless.>>758231>>758234>>758232>>758235>>758236
Mudi pauses, evidently realizing her error far too late. She withstands the gazes as the others look back to her. Though their expressions are even, the taunting and questioning is all too palpably just under the surface… a ripple of realization passes through you, and through the others as well. Here, at the edge of an already tenuous concrete reality, emotions and intentions are plain to one another, palpable and contagious…
But whether those emotions were genuine from Mudi's onlookers, or imagined, projected in her moment of self-consciousness…
Mudi composes herself, and the feelings subside. She turns to face the unending unreality. "Then let's go… be safe."
"Au revoir, auf wiedersehen, and all that," Vizsla says.
Hurricanrana, Supper and Desert silently nod.
With that, Mudi sets her hoof out into the Abyss, her eyes carefully trained upon her steps. She stumbles forward as her hoof finds purchase in the void much lower than where she was expecting. She takes another step, only this one lands much higher than the first. With a grimace, her walking turns into a kind of peculiar climbing, as her hooves land in seemly random places at first… but some steps in, she manages to achieve something of an even pace, if perhaps only because of her imagination.
The others of the Witches of Gehenna follow suit in time.
>What If: Automatic; Once per Day; You may switch out your talent for a different one. This effect lasts 24 hours, and can be manually disabled prior to the time limit.
as a reminder this skill has refreshed by now
>Talent: Timid; +1 to actions when not involved in combat. Does not apply to social rolls e.g. Intimidate, persuade, etc.>>758237>>758230
"Oh that is quite shit! Then is there a conspiracy of demons after my name?"
Shei steps forward close enough the edge of the street but with setting foot into the un-darkness. He charges the sound of static he always hears into a pick on his hoof and then strums his guitar. To send shockwaves of static non-sense noise to clear out the void.
[1d10+1] to clear out the recent utterance of Shei's nameRoll #1 9 + 1 = 10
"From hence forth I will be exclusively using silly names to address you all. You may call me Kid Rock, Restless Angst, Mommy Issues, or any other appropriate moniker will do." Shei says, as apparently using our names in the void is not an option.
You blot out the utterance of your name with noise. Somehow, you feel like a part of you has come back.
Almost immediately, you feel a small part of yourself fall away.
"It doesn't really matter whose name it is. It just matters that a name was said at all. If a word is meant to catch attention, it will catch attention. So, she's probably more of a target than you, right now. SHE was the one trying to catch attention.">>758240>>758242
"So, the nicknames are just as bad!" Amy shouts, jumping up and down in a panic as Shei blurts out like 5 names, nonsense or otherwise.
"God Damnit!" Shei announces, as he has to clear out the names again.
[1d10+1] Clearing out names is degauss for the soulRoll #1 7 + 1 = 8
This time, you feel nothing different.
"You prooooobably shouldn't say that either…"
Amy considers it for a moment. "Yes," she nods. "Just don't ask someone to do it. They just might."
"Try silence," Flow hisses, apparently wary of even saying "I" and "you" now.
Shorthorns turns her head lightly at Amy's logic. "I guess…? I mean, I follow what you're saying but, if we're not even allowed to call out each other's names in Tartarus it's gonna get confusing.">>758238
Shorthorns shrugs at Mudi's apparent faux pas, shaking her head as she approaches the edge of the bridge. "It's alright Mudi, I apparently didn't get it either."
As Mudi first steps out onto the bridge that is the abyss, Shorthorns offer her a bow of her head. "Be careful, and we'll see you all at the Hanging Port!"
She watches the Witches follow in time, watching them along the uneven footing as she looks towards her group to follow next. "Let's let them get a bit of distance ahead of us, then let's dive right in."
"That's probably wise."
>it's gonna get confusing
Amy grins. "Hey, now you're getting it!"
Then, Amy winces when Flaming uses Mudi's name. "SERIOUSLY!?"
Leather muses the thought and finds it agreeable, positive feelings returned in kind, along with the feeling of being fortuitous the two are more in touch with their emotions to require very little words.
Shorthorns winces, "D'OH! Sorry Amy, it's just such a-…" she blinks. "DANGIT!"
"Okay, you guys are officially starting to freak me out…" Amy says, looking very stressed.>>758253
"Thank you, for being so good at this," Amy says, looking to Cloak.
The other factions start to slowly back away from you, while the other half of your party start making gestures desperately urging silence.
The Abyss waits.
"Hm?" Leather turns, having gotten used to tuning shouting out.
"Okay okay okay… so the trick is just to try and not speak? For the whole time?">>758256
She looks towards Flow and Voyage, nodding her head in understanding as she looks towards the others and prepares to make their journey into the mighty, dark Abyss of tartarus. "Right. Quiet… as a mouse…"
"You're just doing a good job of being safe. I just wanted to say thanks.">>758258
"I mean, you can speak. Just don't be stupid," Amy snickers.
"Anyway, I guess we should be going…" Amy says as she takes a deep breath. She steps out into the abyss.
[1d10] for balanceRoll #1 2 = 2
"Give me a quick reminder, anything else on the do-not-do list besides naming names?"
Shei looks back to every, a smile of chagrin before coming up ahead. With all the ruckus they've made it's obvious they're next.
With a flare of his cape they turn into wings and launch Shei into the air, he takes flight forward into the darkness. With one hoof he salutes everyone below "Later."
Shei plays a short song as he hails his departure, he says "Remember the Hanging Port. Continue remembering until reached."
He takes the initiative with leading the group.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhi3p31NRqo
"Oh thank you, it's not in my profession to blab." Leather smiles.
Amy thinks as she walks. "If you see a parasite, run. They're scary. Super scary. EVERYONE is scared of them. Which makes them even scarier because people are willing to do ANYTHING to destroy the parasites."
"They'll destroy themselves, they'll destroy anchors, they'll destroy you. Just them being around makes everything way scarier. So, run away."
Roll #1 7 = 7
You step into the unreality before you, your steps at first uneven and rocky, just like M– just like her… just like that person's. Step by step, the "ground" evens out, though each step requires deliberate intent, and even concentration, as though you were learning to walk all over again. It feels like nothing is underneath, nor above, nor anywhere about – and you realize now that though you are breathing, that your muscles and organs are pantomiming the act, nothing enters nor leaves your body.
What must be happening to your flesh…?
Oi. Best not to think about it. Goos don't breathe either.
Yeah, it's probably… huh? Was that y–
…Further and further, the Abyss continues. Eternal, empty and complete…https://youtu.be/wtbIUN6gh-w……… ……………. ………………….. …………….. ……………………………. ….. ……. ………. …………… ……………………………… …………….. ………………. ……………………………………. ……….. …………. ?……………… ……… "………." …………… …………… "………..""…………?" "……"…………… …………… ………… ………….. ………….. …………… ………… …………. …………. ………….……………….. ………………. ……………..………. — ……. -….. —-. ———-……… ?—— ——–….. —-. ….. ———….. ———–………———-——– ———-___ ———————___________ —-________ ———- ___________–________—– —-________ ——–___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________ ______________________ _______ __________ ___________________ _________ _____ ___ ____________ —-→"… ….. s… t….""… w….. ..h…..a.. ?""S… ..w…..h…. ….sai… ou…. see……. hat?""Jus… ahea… of…""…ere's… a… line…"
Amy continues, never forgetting the Hanging Port.
Shei's Evil eye flashes a vacillating rainbow of colors as he appraises what is possible up ahead.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
He stops in place as he gives his appraisal, only continueing to move when finished with the Hanging Port in mind
This is so weird… feels kind of like I'm walking through… nothing? There's no air but I don't have trouble breathing. It's like… okay, stop, don't let your mind wander. Don't think about ANYTHING but the Hanging Port. Hanging Port, Hanging Port… shoot, why wasn't I listening more closely when Sh… when the goat was talking about it?
Does it count if I think his name in my head? Surely that'd be okay I mean, it's just in my head. Maybe I can ask real quick…"..y …., d..s .. c..n. .f . .u.. .h..k .h. .a.e .. m. .e.d?"
Huh. Did they hear that? That sounded really quiet…
Leather ignores the chatter in the void, not wanting to be distracted towards his destination.
…Through the darkness ahead, a line trawls out, blank and colorless against the void. It is composed at first of intermittent dots, then of close-together dots, which in turn blend into thin dashes, until they too combine, becoming long lines. It leads you for a time, regardless of what direction you face, for an interminable time.
At last, the line splits into many pieces, at first becoming dots again, then dashes and lines. The dots and dashes and lines begin to trace out a semblance of a road, one-bit, all blank and void. Onward the road leads, and after following it for some time you see its destination – a far-off city.
The road-lines behind you split again and again, moving up ahead of you to form more and more details of the featureless city so far off. It is a stratified city, built upwards and downwards as much as east and west, or as near to any of those directions as one can be down here at least. Its platforms and structures seem oriented whichever way they please, gravity being naught but an old habit.Paused
Shorthorns maintains her focus on the road ahead, or rather the lines that appear to make up this road. She puts her focus on anything in particular she can hold focus to, working towards one goal fervently so as to avoid falling off this path of endless void.
As the city comes into view, one whose buildings stretch up and down and left and right, Shorthorns saves her many questions for now, focusing only on the city ahead and thinking the name of the port.
Shei-Sher glowers underneath his brow. The brunt of his tinnitus has assailed him for the journey. Begrudgingly holding in a weight of static wearing thin at his senses. Enveloping him entirely in a dull pain of numbness that accompanies the feeling of pins and needles. It feels as though he is a blur in motion. His thoughts ever so singular as his only measure against the spiritual tinnitus which urges his being to disintegrate into the un-darkness around him as shedding layers of unfocus.
Leather remains vigilant, certainly not planning to be the first to attempt speaking in the void or even just exiting, sticking solely to trudging forward until someone says otherwise.
"Ooooh! This place looks fun!" Amy says with her tail wagging as she looks around at the buildings not going the right way. "I want to climb one!"
When at last your hooves touch down onto the relatively concrete reality of the Anchor, you feel a kind of tangibility, a peculiar weight, come back to your flesh and souls, a weight that had been missing following your disappearance into the Abyss. It comes as perhaps no surprise that the folding, geometric city has no small number of structures and roads that cross over your heads, and below your hooves. Gravity here is just as variable as the buildings, for many peculiar figures walk about and fly here. The vast majority have bodies that are so diverse and clashing in their form and color that to describe them adequately would require pages and pages. None approach you – whether this is deliberate or accidental, you cannot tell.
None of your allies, save for Flow and Voyage, have made it to this destination along with you. The two remain silent on this point.
"Do you think we could like… walk on the side of one of them?" Amy ponders out loud as she jumps (most likely pointlessly) at one of the buildings with an apparent force of gravity in a different direction.
"I imagine it's less about thinking if you can, and moreso just doing it." Leather says, then pausing, "Though I'm a bit hypocritical if I say I imagine."
Leather follows suit, not attempt to experiment, just doing so with confidence whether the result makes him look foolish or not.
Shorthorns touches her hooves down on the platform, already getting vertigo from looking in any given direction as she looks around the vast number of buildings, jutting out against gravity in all ways outwards.
She looks around, noticing the others aren't here with them, and she claims, "We must have set out on a different path from the others. I don't see a sea, so this can't be any kind of port, right?"
"Maybe the water went away," Amy suggests non-chalantly as she continues to do pathetic hops up at a sky scraper.
As Shei nears the city he feels himself come more into focus like as if the totality of existence viewing Shei was putting it's glasses on to focus on him. This deep pressure within him that exerts itself in every direction pulling his body into blurriness finally dies down and as he lands onto the City he finds his mind and body are in a manageable order once again. The feeling being a very sobering one, Shei shutters as he comes into view with the rest of his party.>>758710>>758711>>758713>>758714
"Very well." He says shortly, and crossed arm as if hugging himself. "I want to beat these debutant sorcerers to the lead before the rest of our entourage have a chance to lay their crummy dogmas on my dealings. I'll have no bargain that endures the half measures of wisdom." He raises a hoof pointing into the air as a flourishing gesture to his point
"I'm pretty sure an escort was meant to be sent after us upon our entrance."
Having gotten a feel for underworld modalities of movement, you begin to walk up the sides of buildings, merely by your will. As you do so, you nearly end up bumping into the denizens of these buildings, who use any aperture, regardless of its design, be they doors or windows or other portals, to enter and exit the buildings in question. A glance into the closest of these apertures reveals the interior of some form of gambling hall. Many drinks are served, and smokers puff out haze that has a particular weight, and sinks to the ground like a prowling beast.
A strange game is being played upon a stage– it seems to be equal parts performance and argument. Two groups of three combatants stand against one another, vocalizing an unknowable song, wresting the melody and harmonies from their opponents by way of shouting and interrupting – though you cannot understand the language.
Perhaps a patron may know where you are…
"I have no idea what you just said," Amy deadpans. "So, I'm pretty sure that means we're doing good!" she nods in conclusion.>>758717
Amy wags her tail as she looks on at the gambling hall through the window.
"Man… I wish I knew what kind of money they need… Getting kicked out of places like that because you don't have money sucks."
>Vestigial Sunlight: Recharge 1; Spell; Roll to hear insight, whispers of guidance and fleeting thoughts from those who have come before you in similar situations. Roll number determines the quality of advice.>[1d10+2]
>Yes, I am indeed looking for guidance on how to get money to gamble away!Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
Shei snaps his hoof tips (snapping your fingers for equine folk)
Shei's party suddenly, and intuitively find themselves able to understand and speak the local language
With that taken care of Shei mozzies on to the nearest person resembling a bar keep. He leans himself on the island table as he asks "Hoy Barkeep, where can a tourist find a traveling agent or perhaps an address book to consult?"
Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
"It definitely wouldn't be the craziest thing we've seen so far.">>758716
"So, you think this isn't where the first group ended up?">>758717
Shorthorns walks up the side of a building, relying on this world's arbitrary gravity fields to keep her steady as she looks around and notices the locals around. "Hey, what do you know… there ARE people down here." As they notice the gambling hall, Shorthorns, unfamiliar with the concept, slowly walks in after the others as she looks around at all the loud, obnoxiouly noisy machines and creatures shouting.
"What sorta store is this?"
"The concept of this port may be more loosely defined than being next to water, I won't make any assumptions as not to be dragged elsewhere." Leather shrugs, following the others.
"Ba-ah, We're painfully impoverished for a crew of demigods. Lay out your hoofer flags Amy. The true reason for our visit is to get a job."
A chthonic and divine voice whispers sublime advice…>"Just kill them.">>758721>>758722>>758720
"…Woah, gnarly," the barkeep says, double-taking at the sight of Shei. A singular appendage, that might be likened to an eye, bulges out of the barkeep's head – for emphasis. "Since when do the Undefiled come this far up into Heaven? I doubt you'll find what you're looking for up here, there's not much to look at in these parts. But, there should be some Worshippers among the crowd here. Ask around. I doubt they'd risk trying to rip off an Undefiled."
Shei pulls his pockets inside out "The inside outs of your pockets.." He scratches his face "That reference is better used on someone else. I forget you neither read or wear clothes… Often."
"Not a bad idea. In fact, given how every side of it sort of gives out to the void, it's almost like every part is a port if they travel by air-ship.">>758725
Shorthorns turns her attention to the one-eyed stalk pulling itself out of the barkeep, raising her eyebrow as she approaches. "Heaven? I thought this was Tartarus. And what's an 'Undefiled'?"
"You can tell?!" Shei says as the barkeep remarks on him being an undefiled "What gave it away?" He said he was a tourist, but he could be a tourist from within tartarus.
"Wow, voice, that's rude," Amy responds to the voice only she can hear.
[1d10] to get a response>>758725>>758723
"Hah…" Amy giggles, bemused. "They think Shei is an Undefiled…">>758726
"Oh… I thought it was a sex thing…" Amy says, sounding somewhat disappointed.>>758727
"Undefiled are demons who haven't died too many times," Amy explains. "Or, at all."
This explanation is, quite notably, probably not very useful.Roll #1 10 = 10
Instead of pissing someone off by staring at directly at people, Leather instead decides to glance at what's being used as currency here, seeing it's material and any insignia if it's minted.
[1d10] casual perceptionRoll #1 9 = 9
Shei blinks really hard at you, stupefied by Amy's talent for perverting everything.
Amy smiles innocently at Shei and blinks rapidly in response.
>>758729>"Perhaps, but evergreen wisdom.">>758729>>758727>>758728
The barkeep looks blankly at Shorthorned, a peculiar tongue-like appendage sliding out from underneath the lid of its eye-stalk to keep its putrefying eye nice and moist.
"You really must be from far down… the First Layer we call Heaven – for what else could it be in comparison to what lies below, as close by as the Second Layer? In times past, demons called this Limbo – but all the stories of the Anchors below agree: We were born in Paradise.">>758731
At first they appear to be small tablets, but the familiar timber of their clatter and roll tells you that this currency is made of bone. The different denominations are distinguished by size and marking, though you don't know if the larger or smaller are more valuable.
"That makes sense for you, but what about me? I was never a demon at all.">>758735
Shorthorns cringes at the tongue sticking out to rub the eyeball. "Blegh…" she says audibly, sort of forgetting her manners for a bit.
As he explains how this place came to be known as 'Heaven', she nods. "Huh… well, I guess that would explain it. Is this whole city 'Heaven' or is it just one city?"
"We live in a society, voice in my head," Amy admonishes the mysterious advice-giver.>>758736
"I'm pretty sure everyone comes back as a demon in Tartarus."
Amy puts a hoof-paw to her chin in thought. "I don't know what would happen to a god, though…"
"Neat." Leather muses to himself, taking to draw the bone tablets, mostly interested in documenting their travels, "Wonder if there's any usefulness in making a travel guide."
"Teh teh teh teh." Shei tries to stop your sentence there "Well don't say that outloud. What- you want us to stand out?>>758735
Shei splits off a bit from his group to fill into the crowd. He watches the folks with his Evil Eye, giving it short scans of color as he appraises for a Worshipper.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2
"Undefiled stand out," Amy states to Shei matter-of-factly.
"Being a virgin is one thing, being a targeted virgin is another." Shei protests
Amy stares at Shei for a moment, clearly trying to figure out what he just meant. Then, she laughs.
"Oh, no no no. Undefiled are called that because they haven't died. Every time you die in Tartarus, your body and soul separate, but then they just fuse back together. But, doing that messes you up. Each time, you don't quite come back the same. Which is why people here look…"
Amy looks around at the others in the gambling hall. "Well, virgins," she snickers. "Undefiled are beautiful. Definitely not virgins. That's not why they're respected… mostly. But, it IS how you tell apart an Undefiled from… these kinds of demons."
"This place is but one leaf on a tree in Paradise," the barkeep says.>>758739>>758738>>758737>>758736
A sudden commotion breaks out from the stage, as one of the teams of three falls to their knees, or closest equivalent, obviously defeated in that strange contest. The victors accept their applause briefly, then turn to the conquered, and collect their prize. Flow and Voyage grimace, but force themselves to remain expressionless, as the victors, with little more than the diligence of a merchant counting out change, pick apart the bodies of the losers, pulling them limb from limb to check the contents inside. Grotesque organs and misshapen bones are the main interests of the victors, and they distribute them roughly equally between themselves. Dark puddles of thick, pudding-like blood stain the stage, to the barkeep's annoyance. When the vivisection is done, the victors push the remnants of the losers back together – and the mutilated bodies, robbed of their contents, shuffle off backstage on hands and knees.
With a grunt, the barkeeper comes 'round with the most mundane of tools, a mop, and goes to clean the filth. >>758741
As the crowd settles from that grisly display, your eyes settle upon a tall and ghastly biped, his head a white flame, and his body all clothed from the neck down in stitched rags. His gaze meets yours, and he approaches.
"Was it you, sir, asking for a boatswain?" he asks, his voice creaking and tried by much past shouting from his work.
"I sensed as much, sure. I was making a play on words. Describing ourselves as virgins since we have never been killed in Tartarus"
"Ooooh… I get it when you explain it like that! So, it's like I'm a demon, who ISN'T a demon yet."
She turns her head and thinks for a moment. "In which case… yeah, gods might be tricky.">>758744
Shorthorns is about to ask another question before her attention is swiftly drawn to the sheer carnage on the stage, gasping loudly as she sees a trio of demons is mutilated and torn apart for their innards right in front of everyone cheering… only for those same mutilated body parts to shuffle off together, looking at them drag themselves off in bits and pieces as she tries to stomach the urge to hurl.
"What… what kind of game is THAT?"
"The currency here, apparently it's made of bones. Since the loser seems to have survived, I imagine it was a contest with an agreed upon wager." Leather notes, continuing to add to his writing.
"Yeah, I got it," Amy laughs. "But, I'm pretty sure most Undefiled would take that as an insult. I certainly would have," she laughs.
"Although…" Amy puts her hoof-paw to her chin in thought. "I guess sometimes sex and dying kind of go together in Tartarus…">>758744
"Ooooh! THAT'S why the voice said kill them… That makes sense, now!" Amy says, barely affected by the demons being ripped apart.
"Huh… Is it weird that I feel somehow at home here?" Amy asks no particular companion around her.>>758746
"Pretty much everyone here is a demon already. They're just demons who haven't died yet.">>758747>>758746
"They would have agreed to it, even if it DID kill them. Heck, it may HAVE killed them. Demons up here have died so many times, it barely means anything to them anymore."
Briefly before Shei found his worshipper his attention stolen by the casual crunch and snap of flesh on the stage "Oh what the fuck." is voiced from Shei.>>758744
Shei meets with the worshipper and inquires "A boatswain?" He scratches his face briefly pndering. "I have a job that needs to be settled. This umbral is a secretary, he might have sent an escort after me but I don't where I could let them find me."
>>758748>"I guess sometimes sex and dying kind of go together in Tartarus…"
"Didn't need to know that." Shei says in stark horror.
"You thought I was rough with you before!" Amy says with a laugh.
"Well it has inherent monetary value, so I assume there's always meaning there."
"Well-" Shei points his eyes up in a dreamy sort of way "If every umbral in tartarus was a sex crazy demon puppy that wouldn't be so bad."
"They use BONES for money?! That's… th-that's awful." She shakes her head, remembering the old teachings of the Climbing Fire. "The remains aren't meant to ever be touched AT ALL, much less used for bartering!">>758748
"…I guess it must have its perks, not being able to die if you live down here. Still, imagine living with that kind of stuff every day."
"Yeah, I guess if you live, you get to keep your bones…" Amy contemplates the nature of life and death and money.>>758753
"Wait until you meet other Undefiled," Amy laughs again.
"But, I DO like to think I'm pretty, even among Undefiled," she says in a similarly dreamy voice. "The crystal pony body really added to my complexion too," she says, looking at her crystaline fur happily.
>>758748>"We would not lead you astray," the voice adds.>>758748>>758747>>758746>>758749
The tall and gaunt flame-headed figure pauses, and without a clear view of his face (if he even has one) you cannot tell why.
"Well," the figure says. "If you are waiting for an escort, there's no better place to look than the Abyss. You will surely find the Thread out there, and we'll sail onward to your destination."
"So that's what we saw…" Voyage mutters. The flame-headed figure briefly turns, and Voyage cuts off his words.
"That is better than nothing I suppose. We'd most appreciate you showing us how you do things up on the first layer." He said 'we'll sail onward' so Shei gets the notion this Umbral is offering his assistance.
If he is, then he lets the Umbral lead the way and show them how it's done.
"hay" Shei snaps his hoof in quick succession right in front of Amy's face "A person can't help but look, but no touching." It's said with importance to the topic. Shei wants to be on the same page with Amy.
Shorthorns spares a look towards the tall, flame-headed individual, watching him warily as he stops to observe their group. As Voyage mentions seeing him previously, she turns towards him, whispering quietly, "Where did you see him? On the way here through the dark road?">>758757
"The Abyss sounds like as good a place to start then as any. Can you point us in its direction, which part of the city is it in?"
"There's something to be said about death and taxes here." Leather responds to Amy, then turns and looks at the figure, "We could explore around and figure out our options first as well, as we know little of what 'Heaven' has to offer yet."
>>758760>replace first line with
"Yeah, I thought it sort of looked like a bunch of lines that were struggling to form a picture of some kind. I guess 'Thread' is as best a way to describe it as any."
She pauses as the flame-headed figure looks at them, and she turns to whisper to Voyage: "…is it just me or is he staring?"
"And now the death is as often as the taxes," Amy jokes.>>758757
Amy stares at the flame-headed demon suspiciously. But, her mind is too distracted by the voice in her head.
[1d10]>Does the DC-4 apply to defending against other people's social rolls?>>758759
"Hey… Keep an eye on me…" Amy says, sounding distracted and not quite right.Roll #1 5 = 5
"Hm? And what's that supposed to mean. I shouldn't have to keep tabs on you Amy." Shei continues on thinking she's making a remark on their relationship.
>>758764>"We would not lead…"
Voice… voice…? What voice are you talking about…?>"a…s…t…r.."And once again, she forgot the voice, but not the advice it had imparted.>>758764>>758763>>758762>>758758
"If you've got urgent business, best not to keep them waiting," the boatswain says to Cloak. "Come, at least let me show you where I'm docked."
The boatswain bids you follow from the bar, outside and down the side of the building again. Taking a left, he takes a short walk through an open part of the city, where the buildings are constructed around a great and vast pit, a yawning maw, that makes the Abyss its throat. https://youtu.be/B_A9JWf6_q4
Long wooden bridges stretch out into the pit, and there you see the boatswain's vessel. It is, to be plain, a patchwork of metal and flesh. Most of its hull is wrought from inflated, balloon-like sacs of various cuts of skin. Many hands can be seen among the balloon-like parts of flesh. Many are posed like a thinker rubbing their chin in thought. Others are clasped together in gestures of prayer. Among the hands, in fact – are faces.
"That's… Worship," Voyage breathes.
"Served me well for many years. She's a fine craft," the boatswain says.
"What's your fee, boatswain?" Flow asks.
"I think I can cut you folks a fair deal," the boatswain says. "But depends how far we go."
Shei shrugs, and boards the boat, finding a seat that doesn't make him too squeamish.
Amy blinks a few times and shakes her head. "Nevermind… It's gone now, I guess…">>758766>>758768
Amy holds a hoof out, stopping Shei.
"That didn't answer the question… What's the fee?" Amy asks, narrowing her eyes.
Shorthorns gasps in understanding as she hears the Boatswain explain his business, and nods to the flame-headed demon with excitement. "OH! I apologize Sir, I didn't realize you were showing us the way to your ship to get us across the Thread. Thank you for helping us,"
As he escorts them out to the great, open pit in the city, Shorthorns looks down at the unending depth within, a great deal of unease at the sheer depth of this endless void. "What a sight… there isn't a whole this big or deep in all of Accorsia. The next level's down there for sure."
As the boatswain introduces his great ship, Shorthorns turns her attention to Voyage as he speaks its name. "You know his ship?"
"If our boatswain wishes to make his bargain after our drop off that's his prerogative to set himself up for disadvantage."
"Is there any price for boarding?" Leather asks, waiting for an answer before continuing.
>>758769>"Nevermind… It's gone now, I guess…"
Shei looks at you impotently, his concern seeming to shed away with confusion as he exits the conversation for another.
"They called him a Worshipper," Voyage whispers. "His vessel is Worship. What other method would someone use to get across Abyss? Down here… belief and will are reality. What else is worship?">>758772>>758770>>758769>>758768
"Well, how about this, then?" the boatswain – a Worshipper – continues. "It sounds like you Undefiled will be out and about quite a lot. First ride's on me, if you lot agree to let me take you around on future trips, at my aforementioned discount rate."
He extends his hand, revealing his cyanotic flesh to the elbow. Eight fingers, and all without flaw or detect, not anywhere on his skin. "What do you say?"
Amy eyes the boatswain for a while longer. Then, she turns Shei and herself around so they can whisper without him listening.
"Are you able to alchemize bones?" she asks him quietly.
Shei remains seated with his arms crossed, eyes closed as is trying to meditate. He abruptly responds to the Boatswain's offer "Your offer is too generous!" With the short staccato meaning to halt "Take this apple as a gift. And we will take your proposal on the grounds of friendship rather than business. I expect to be making a lot of money while visiting the first layer. A crew and their conveyor should have a good relationship."
An apple rolls out of Shei's cape for the Boatswain to pick up and enjoy.
"Not without considerable effort I don't feel like investing."
he says this while remaining seated, eyes closed, arms hugged crossed tightly. Seemingly impatient though something about his position looks like he's holding onto himself.
"Well, you know how he got the materials for that boat… right?" She whispers before turning back to the boatswain.>>758778>>758775
"I DO like more friends," Amy says in a suddenly far more friendly, happy tone.
>Mantra of Equality: Recharge 2; Instant; Soothes a hostile target, making them more likely to listen to what you have to say, and unable to target you next turn.>[1d10+4] DC-4Roll #1 7 + 4 = 11
Leather remains silent, not wishing to continue to questioning, feeling it would aggravate the sailor.
Shorthorns nods in understanding of Voyage's explanation. "Yeah… that's a pretty fitting name then. In which case, we better hope it works hard."
As the Boatswain offers his deal to the group, she looks around with the others to guage their reactions, she offers a shrug as Amy and Shei at least seem to go along with it. "Do you make this offer to every Undefiled that comes through or are we special?"
Shei opens eyes only to turn his head and give Amy a face that just says -That's Rude!- all over it
Amy can sense that she may as well be talking to a corpse.
Yet he takes the proffered apple, and without care for it having rolled across the fleshy floor of his boat, he lifts it to his flame, and part of it burns away. "What can I say? When I looked at you, I could tell we could be friends, just as these two have said… So what's giving the rest of you leaden hooves?"
Flow and Voyage glare at Shei and Amy as if they're insane.
"Friend or no, a worker should not be defrauded of his wages," Flow grunts. "Honest work deserves honest pay. Before we get on this Worship, we should make sure we can afford the trip."
"Yeah… no need to rush so quickly out of town," Voyage adds. "We're not from Paradise… we'll need to earn some bones first."
"We will earn money." Shei remains cross armed and seated, his eyes still closed. "The umbral will hire us for work and we will collect our first payment as freelancers. I cannot guarantee it, but it's what I set out here to do. If we are going to survive in Tartarus we require connections and money."
"The secretarial Umbral, I am delivering this pizza to- that is." Shei clafies.
Shorthorns nods in agreement with Voyage. "Yeah, the first ride might be free, but we wanna at least make sure we can afford to pay him for a trip back first before we go out there." She turns towards the Worshipper, bowing her head. "We'll except your offer, but we need to make sure we have the money to pay you regardless in case things change. Way I hear, they do that a LOT down here."
"Maybe you know if there's anywhere to get… 'bones'… to trade?" She says as though having to force out the last few words. "We have some gold if they exchange that for anything here."
"Gold is likely the store of value in Tartarus. If we pay him with a gold coin we may be paying too much. And you burden our humble Worshipper with a currency that isn't easily exchanged."
"I'm used to destabilizing power structures for money, I wonder how desired that is down here, given the whole difficulty with fully assassinating someone might be."
"We could just kill some bad guys," Amy offers her input nonchalantly.
"Limited, considering the decentralized nature of Tartarus. If someone is hoarding money, violence seems far more effective here at remedying a depression than it as on the overworld."
"I Really REALLY, want to have this conversation with the Secretary before anyone else can but in. Expediency is prime as far as I am concerned. We're lucky to have made it to the Hanging Port first."
"Do you think he'd take payment in sex…?" Amy asks, glancing at him.
"I mean, if we end up stuck with nothing else to pay him with…"
"This deal's not going to last forever," the Worshipper says, a snarl creeping below his voice. "You can't expect me to just wait on your behalf. I already told you the money's little object, if you take my deal. Otherwise, the Hanging Port is far off. You'll not get there soon without my aid."
"We'll be quick," Flow says. His hooves stray near his swords. "We're Undefiled after all. Wouldn't be hard for us to gut and de-bone someone."
The Worshipper pauses at Flow's barely-unspoken threat.
In an abrupt coarse of movement Shei-Sher slaps Amy across the face. His eyes open, glaring on you as they hold back wetness. Shei is obviously hurt Amy would even joke about that. At least, he hopes it was a joke. He says nothing, but the look on his face says it all.>>758799>>758793>>758791
"STOP! STOP PLEASE!" Shei shouts at his indecisive party. He is clearly irritated "You are making this far more complicated than it is. I want to be on good terms with the man most able to provide us conveyance through Tartarus and you are making him nervous about our friendship. We will figure out. Worshipper please take us, I grow angry and impatient." Shei says with a kindled vigor that demands cooperation
[will make social roll if prompted to convince the npc component of the group]
"Wh– hey!" Voyage gasps.
"Damn it kid–!" Flow hisses, but bites his tongue before the rest of the sentence can come out. He's drawn his sword – and it's turned on Shei.
Amy looks a little annoyed that Shei would slap her over her point. But, to put a more obvious point on it, Amy says, "It's okay, I'm used to having to do bad things to help you out of stupid deals you rushed into.">>758799
Amy is ready to go.
Shei retreats to his cross armed seated position. Closing his eyes.
"You would draw your sword on a fellow in a den of savages. You would soon find yourself becoming one of them. You all act weak when you are so strong. We are gods. People expect more from us now. What careless fear and avarice you throw around by being indecisive when you are so powerful. It is our responsibility to act the part."
He opens the eyes to stare down Flow "When I say I have a plan. It means we aren't acting without thinking. Will it trouble you so much to trust your comrade."
[1d10] Leadership rollRoll #1 7 = 7
Shorthorns makes ready to argue with Worshipper once more before he hears Shei slapping Amy, gasping before hearing his outburst about making things too difficult and looking between him and the barge.
After a few tense moments, Shorthorns glares heavily at Shei, not saying anything but letting out a very irate snort from her nostrils as she scoots past him. She looks up to the Worshipper. "Very well. We accept your offer. We're in a hurry too anyhow, so let's just make this EASY."
Shei pays you mind in silence. Too hurt and busy to say anything more while keeping his composure.
"You're goddamn right – I'll do damn near anything to keep my comrades alive. Even if that means drawing my sword on them when they're on the verge of suicide. Now come, and see. Boatswain!" he calls. "Give us passage. We accept your deal."
"As I knew you would," the Worshipper says.
Voyage fumes, but has fallen silent.
The others climb abord the Worshipper's vessel, in silence. The Worshipper sits at the back of the boat. Rather than steer, or paddle, the Worshipper merely stretches his hands out to the sides of the boat, curling his perfect, smooth fingers over the edges of the boat, kneading and peeling at the flesh of the hull. The faces of its surface hum a discordant tone, and the boat lifts off, and sinks, pointing downward into the darkness of the Abyss.
Shorthorns still fumes silently herself, looking towards Voyage as he seems to share similar thoughts to her about the situation. She looks at the Worshipper almost as sternly, but does not shout or deride him as she steps onto the fleshy vessel. As it begins to lurch off, Shorthorns tries to think of something else to lessen the tension of the situation between the party, aware that such divisiveness could lead to their doom.
"…this ship, it is almost as though it is a living creature itself. Is it?"
"Well, this IS a lot better than walking!" Amy says happily, despite the uncomfortable tone the conversation took.>>758810
"That's probably how it works," Amy comments, shockingly astutely.
As they submerge into the darkness yet again Shei lets out a shudder. His form for a moment blurs out as if your eyes were unfocusing on him. But he holds himself tight and continues a breathing meditation the Bodhidharma taught him. He exhales frimly and breathes in gentle. The blur shrinks back and focus in, creating a thin halo around Shei's body. This halo isn't his aura, but his selfhood wanting to expand erratically just being contained by Shei's concentration.>>758808>>758806>>758803>>758793
Shei breaks the silence while still holding his meditation "Amy I am sorry for striking you. When you suggest such things it hurts me more than you know. And I don't know if you are joking. Please think of me when speak like that."
"I think I made my point," Amy says flatly.
"I can understand why what she said made you upset, Shei." Shorthorns offers. "I do think she should think about how that can hurt you. But you slap my sister again, goat-boy, and I will ram you down… WHEREVER the sun doesn't shine on this thing."
a moments pause passes as Shei finds the words to express himself. His blurriness increases briefly as his attention is taken away from it, but soon his form refocuses "Amy, I love you. To me our bond is sacred. This bond lives spiritually and physically. If you paid my debt with your body.. I don't know what would happen. I would regret everything."
Once more, the Abyss gladly welcomes you, and all gathers together in the darkness……………………………___________________————————————-———–→>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>———————————————————–_____________________………………………………….
And just as before, you are guided by a Thread, thin and indescribable though it may be… yet when there is nothing else you can perceive, save for those miniscule iotas of its light, still you can retain some sense…
It is perhaps thanks to that that, when there is nothing else– you can hear the buzzing, and the bubbling.
Beyond you, an eerie purple haze, odorous and sticky, luminates the misty bayou beyond. Bugs of unknown species dart about, naught but silhouettes. The darkness below has given way to a churning cauldron of humid swamp. Fog gropes its way across your skin. Things
brush overhead, caressing your eyes and ears.
Flow and Voyage grimly say nothing, while the Worshipper hums his sailing tune.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_7C8oN2klY
"Then, don't do things you would regret," Amy says just as flatly.
Then, she looks to Shorthorns. "You don't need to be mad. Thank you, though."
"Now, let's all stop using names, again, please."
Shei awashes with remorse when Shorthorns addresses, merely because it increases the wound he inflicted by hitting his beloved one. "I know.." Is all he has to offer as his head increasingly hangs low.
Shei opens his eyes to offer Great Voyage a pitiable look that is just asking help me out here please. As apparently Shei is in the dog house now for his outburst. To clarify its the sort of look someone offers when they're asking for you say something to help.
Once opening his eyes Shei's attention is taken to the purple haze of a swampy climate coming into view. This seems like somewhere outside the hangor port. Shei-Sher takes the tartarus Chalice from his cup to get on line with the Secretarian Umbral he was tasked for delivery.
[1d10+1] contacting the Secretarian Umbral.Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
you don't have to reply to this post >>758819
would prefer if you replied to this one instead >>758822
Leather watches over the others, making not to attract attention as his profession entails, despite his mild annoyance that no other options were pursued like he had wished. Still, not wanting to project negative emotions into the surrounding area, Leather opts back to curiosity, seeing if there is any visible reaction from the ship's hull when it's flesh is poked with the edge of a shield.
Shorthorns muzzle scrunches up as she realizes her faux pas once again. "AH! Right, right, sorry…">>758817
As they pass once more into the great chasm of the gaping void, Shorthorns keeps her mind more about her, focused, not losing her wits for a moment as she focuses on the thread as it leads on to their destination…
As the light returns and the see the deep, misty purple-hued swamp beyond, Flaming gags as she shakes her muzzle in frustration as she swats away at whatever she feels piling up on her ears. "GAH! Swamp? I hate the swamp. Climbing Fire left the swamp to the Rain tribe. Is this where we need to go or are we just passing through?"
The ship wriggles and writhes underneath your bodies as Leather pokes it. Waves of goosebumps follow, thousands of small, haired bumps coursing below.
The Worshipper says nothing as he steers the Worship through the pokes and prods of his fingers. He seems to have many more than before.
As Shei attempts to reach his benefactor, there is an annoyed grunt on the other line. "Belphecorp Customer Service, please hold… wait– it's you! Meat-thing, mortal-thing, whatever your name was. What are you doing!?
Where are you going? You're way off course! I hope you're not planning on getting a tip at this rate – besides the tip of my pitchfork!"
Shorthorns watches the Woshipper as he steers the living ship with a precise and careful touch, looking down to the living creature as she wonders if the ship itself is something she could converse with.
Leaning down with her brooch that allows her to hear and speak the language of beasts, she asks the Worship, the living creature, "Excuse me, I know you're busy taking us through the swamp right now but, could I ask you a couple of questions?"
The reply is nothing intelligible – just a discordant chorus of moans and mumbling, incoherent words and streams of unconsciousness… this thing is beyond all communication, though it may be made out of the flesh and guts of the once-living.
Sensing the tenseness of his allies, Leather bows his head and begins to utter prayers to bless him should things turn south.
I Dream of Strength>Instant; Recharge 1; Enhances the target's combat abilities until the end of combat. Every attack they land will do 1 extra hit of damage. Every attack made against them will do 1 less hit of damage, to a minimum of 1. This effect stacks with itself to a maximum of 3 successes.
Sallus> Instant; Recharge 5; Self-Buff; For 3+1 turns, your physical attacks deal an additional 2d3 damage on success, rolled by you at the time of the attacks. If any of these attacks are natural critical hits, they will Blind the target, removing one of their chances to act next turn.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
Shorthorns frowns as the creature only offers gargled mumbling as a response. She looks down at the ship again and realizes, tough it may be alive, it is hardly 'living'. No more so than a heart is a living creature of its own rather than being part of a whole.
She looks around at the others, her own hair standing on end as she starts to become wary of the situation and their captain. Quietly, she prepares for something hard to hit her and bounce right back should the need arise…
>PRAYER FOR SALVATION>AUTOMATIC
Amy reads the room and quietly and cautiously sidles up to Shei. She whispers. "Give me your eye, please."
>Princess of Hunters: Recharge 3; Spell: Permanently steal any one skill from a target, gaining it for your own use. You do not gain the target's roll bonuses along with the skill. In order for a skill to be a valid target for stealing, the user must fulfill three conditions. 1: You must know what skill you want to steal. 2: You must have seen that skill used before. 3: You must know of the target's motivations and desires.>I'm assuming eating a willing thing is automatic
"Aaawhoops. Sorry Boss, looks like we got scammed. You just relax to some paper work. You're pizza's perfectly preserved and we're on our way."
Without hesitation Shei tears Pupil out from his eye socket and tosses it at Amy "Amy catch."
"Sorry guys, It looks like this one's a scam."
Chain's shoot out from Shei-Sher's cape and wrap around the boat
>BOHEMIAN PURGATORY>Effect: Apply Cursed Seal as an Attribute to the Switch-Cane; A Target affected by Cursed Seal with no AR against Mind suffers a Psychic HP damage multiplier for the number of chains; A Target with a Mind AR instead temporarily weakens their Mind AR for the number of chains, going down by 1 Stage per Chain; Can be Dispelled by breaking all Chains; A Control achieved this way is also Dispelled upon Chain break.
[spellbleed] 4 chains
Shei-Sher swings his axe into his lap and begins playing a song.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BjyR7tW7J8&list=PLzufGGatN-m3pB00S98lV8i_d3W1dudAR&index=23
>CONTROL+1: Spell, attempts to take control of a hostile or neutral undead. More powerful undead may require a higher minimum roll. Also used to take control of a larger undead at recharge 2.
[1d10+2] Control the shipRoll #1 6 + 1 = 7
/ Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10
Even in this forsaken place, you can sense the far-off love of the gods.
>Buffs will take effect the first turn of combat.>>759351>>759352>>759348>>759346
Before the Secretary for Belphecorp can respond to Shei, a grisly, grating scraping, like a bow being ground to death against the strings of a violin, cuts off the call.
In that instant, an oppressive, sweltering humidity swarms up all around you. Where before the air clung to you – now it's strangling you.
Targets: All Enemies
Tags: Turn Zero
Effect: At the end of every Turn, increase the Enemy's critfail Range on all actions by 1.
Duration: Until Dispelled
The Worshipper's flame-head spirals upward, roaring – and in response, comes a call of buzzing.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx5pN82nxo0
Targets: User's Allies
Tags: Turn Zero
Effect: User summons nearby Allies.
Six black clouds of vaguely mosquito-like clacking, clattering, buzzing squiggles
of chitin and mold swarm in, and the air shreds with their abominable skritting.
Targets: Up to the number of the User's Actions. Can Target one Enemy multiple times.
Tags: Ranged; Spell
Effect: Deals 2x damage after all other modifiers; reduces Target's AR against Ichor by 1 stage
Each of them swarms you in turn.
[6d10+2] Voyage, Flow, Amy, Shei, Leather, Shorthorned
The Worshipper points at Shei.
>BEND THE NIGHTMARE
Targets: Up to the number of the User's Actions. Can Target one Enemy multiple times.
Tags: Ranged; Spell
Effect: Deals 2x damage after all other modifiers; reduces Target's AR against Illusion by 1 stage
Flow cleaves two groups of bugs.
Voyage thrashes in the boat, trying to squish the bugs in one violent wave of his horns.
[1d10+7]Roll #1 9, 1, 8, 10, 2, 8 + 2 = 40
/ Roll #2 10, 1, 3, 10 + 5 = 29
/ Roll #3 2, 9 + 4 = 15
/ Roll #4 8 + 7 = 15
Shorthorns turns in surprise as Shei calls out to the rest of the group, her eyes raised up in surprise as he calls out the trap and she hears the chains wrapping around the boat.
"Seriously!? I had a sneaking feeling but I didn't think he'd try something THIS soon. Can't tell if that means he's taking us seriously or not!
As the swarms of buzzing insects form up around them on the boat, Flaming's horns light up with an ethereal blue glow, trying to draw all the insects to her alone like a bug-zapper as she lets out a roar of battle>Offering on the Mountain: Automatic; Recharge 2 after effect ends; A cursed blue fire encircles your head, drawing the ire of enemies, leaving them more likely to target you over allies who have not attacked yet. Allies who score critical successes attract more ire. This effect lasts 3 turns.
>Pragma: Passive; Select an ally at the start of battle. When an enemy inflicts you or that ally with a status condition, you deal 3 additional units of damage against that enemy.>Choosing Shei
"This is why you don't get on boats when you don't know the price, Shei!" Amy shouts as she transforms.
>Animal Totem: automatic instant, recharge 5 after effect ends; You shapeshift into a Mystic or War animal for 3 turns (chosen when you learn this skill), gaining a bonus. May be combined with Nature Elemental.: Mystic; +1 to a known spell. Gain useage of a cleric or shaman spell skill worth up to 2 points, chosen when you earn Animal Totem.
As Amy transforms into a demonic wolf, holy fire launches from her being and washes over all the bugs and The Worshipper.
>Wrath: recharge 2, spell, ranged; Damage all nearby foes with a powerful blast, ensuring they cannot attack you on the next round; renders targets helpless on 9+. On crit you can kill or incapacitate weakened/dying targets.>[1d10+5]
Amy observes The Worshipper and says with a grin, "Your skills WILL serve us, one way or another."
>Appraise: instant; Determine the number of remaining hits and wounds on an enemy, and possibly weaknesses. More powerful enemies may be harder to Appraise. Out of combat, quickly determine value of objects, study mechanisms and documents, size up other ponies, etc.>[1d10+1]Roll #1 10 + 5 = 15
/ Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4
She also notices Worshipper pointing towards Shei, and swiftly places herself between the two as she looks dead on at their treacherous guide. "Whatever you're trying, don't!"
Tags: Automatic; Instant
Effect: Choose an Ally; Take all damage and negative Effects for them this turn; You cannot lose more than your full Hits and 2 Wounds from this damage source.
Shei-Sher continues strumming his guitar amid the havoc. "This was my bad! I admit that. And I am sorry Amy. But just think about the new boat I'm getting you. You will love having a boat. Haven't I always said we should ride out into sea." Shei responds to Amy, trying to cover for his screw up with the promise of a new boat.
>SHEPHERD'S TONE>Attribute: Buff/Debuff>Tags: Ranged; Mind; Ignores Mind ARs except >Repel>Effect: Target either party or enemies; Apply a custom buff to party, or a custom debuff to enemies; Automatically succeeds on fearful enemies, and a successful roll bestows an Autocrit; Can only apply one effect every 6 turns>Duration: 6 Turns Max.>Recharge: N/A
Pitch: Enemies recently hit with a natural crit or made helpless have the DC for successful control roll against them reduced to 2DC
The sounds of Shei's guitar playing wrap around the Worshipper and steal the time from him.
>CAN I BORROW THIS?>Attribute: Debuff>Tags: Instant; Ranged>Effect: Steal 1 of the Target's chances to act next turn and use it in addition to your own.>Duration: N/A>Recharge: 3 Turns
[1d1Roll #1 10 = 10
On Nat 10s this procs on all enemies hit with the roll.>-(RACIAL)Evil Eye: passive; You come from a culture that’s mysterious, quiet and perhaps even sinister. Few understand you and some may even be unnerved by your odd appearance. If you score a natural Crit against an enemy in combat, they are paralyzed with fear and cannot take any action in its next turn. When a target is paralyzed by Evil Eye, you cannot proc Evil Eye on them again.>>759359>>759354
messed up the other roll for >CAN I BORROW THIS?
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"Ferry thee well, but fare well you will not." Leather speaks to the worshipper, "And as such, farewell."
Holy light emanates from Cloak and out to his allies, shielding them from the reverse ambush.>Vanguard: Free, Once per Combat: Negate all incoming damage and non-damage negative effects to allies the turn this is activated.>>759348
Fixing the Sallus from previous turn>Automatic; Recharge 3 after effect ends; Self-Buff; Roll 2d2 on Activation. For 3+1 Turns increase your ATK Support and DEF Support by X; if any of your Attacks are Critical Hits, they remove one Action from the Target on the next Turn
Having learned of Amy's ability to steal skills, Leather opts to provide her with additional support.>Serendipitous Duo: Relic; Turn Zero, Buff; Choose one Ally; If you and the chosen Ally are targeting the same Enemy in the same Turn, your rolls which target that Enemy gain +1 for that Turn.
He also prays for her continued success,>A Vision of Grandeur; Instant; Recharge 1 after effect ends; Choose 1 ally. For the next 3+1 turns, you and one chosen Ally gain +2 to all rolls made against any enemy that targets either of you for the duration of this Effect.
He then just bashes the Worshipper with his shield.
Shatter; Recharge 2, weapon; Breaks the target's defenses, opening them up for attack. Any attacks against a Shattered target crit on a 8+ for two+1 rounds. Can be used against inanimate objects or armor to break and damage them efficiently.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 2, 1 = 3
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
/ Roll #3 3 + 1 = 4
The grasp of the humidity squeezes ever tighter…
>IMPENDING DISASTER Count rises to 1, increasing Critfail Range on all your Actions by 1.
Flow and Voyage mercilessly crush dozens upon dozens of mosquito demons, and the Worshipper's neck slams against the stern of the Worship as he is tossed backwards by the Wrath. His head snaps back, and the flame is drowned in the waters of the swamp, until, twitching, thrashing, spasming, he wrenches himself back out, the flame smoldering and smoking.
When he sees the lot of you, unharmed and uncursed, he holds up a finger.
"Let's… discuss this."
"Yes, let's," Flow says, not sheathing his weapon. "I'm surprised you saw reason, and so quickly. But maybe I just have low standards."
Flow turns and glares at Shei.
Voyage turns and glares at Shei too, and as he does so, he slams a mosquito dead against the hull of the Worship.
Shorthorns chuckles at Leather's jokes about the ferryman not 'faring' well. "Hehehe, good one."
She returns her focus on the ferryman as he calls for a parley, snorting as he holds up his finger as she says to flow. "I also agree with you, that WAS fast. Almost too fast, if you ask me. I think he's just stalling for time until something else happens…"
As she speaks, she focuses her magic into her holy horns, using her Unweaving spell taught to her by the witches to undo the IMPENDING DISASTER she feels looming overhead.
[1d10] UnweavingRoll #1 6 = 6
With glares turned back on Shei stands to his defense "Oh c'mon you guys are scared of this guy!" Shei points his axe at him "We might not all have the same eyes to see people with, but puh-lease- this guy is a chump compared to Cerberus. I thought it was worth the risk- I'm sorry. However, to be genuinely honest this was quite dumb of me. Because I forgot we have a customer service line for when we're lost">>759363>>759364
With that said and Flaming's words Shei stands his axe to lean on the handle "Listen Worshipper, you betrayed us. We could have been friends but you had other plans. So unless the next words from your mouth are to make an oath of pledging your servitude to us without concealment or betrayal. We will not only kill you, but I will be consuming you whole. You will become a patch in my cape, there will not another life for you. And besides that I've already promised my girlfriend a boat- so what is it going to be." Shei says riding the wave of fear he has inspired in the Worshipper from Evil Eye procing.
"Then, talk," Amy says threateningly as a portal opens behind her, something crawling out of it.
>Animal Mastery: spell; You can talk to and understand animals, and wild animals obey your orders. For recharge 3 after effect ends, you can instead summon an animal minion of large size or smaller that obeys your orders for 5 turns.>[1d10+4]
>>PRAYER FOR ENLIGHTENMENT
Effect: Select a 1-point Skill from your Class and add it to your Skill pool for the duration of Combat
Duration: Entirety of Combat
Recharge: Once per Combat>learning Homing Magic
>Appraise: instant; Determine the number of remaining hits and wounds on an enemy, and possibly weaknesses. More powerful enemies may be harder to Appraise. Out of combat, quickly determine value of objects, study mechanisms and documents, size up other ponies, etc.>[1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 4 = 11
/ Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9
"Do we get their bones now?" Leather muses, reminded of the affair in the parlor just prior, "Or are such exchanges agreed upon beforehand?"
Seeing no reason to let his guard down just yet, he reverts back to his comfort zone of chanting mantras to himself.
>I Dream of Strength: Instant, Buff; Recharge 1; Increase the Target's ATK Support and DEF Support by 1. This can Stack up to 3 times.
[1d10] Critfails on 2
He continues to pray for Amy as well.>Anastasis and Apricity: Once per combat; Buff; If the Target of this Effect is reduced to 0 Wounds, they regain 2 Wounds, Dispel all negative Effects upon them and are immune to damage next turn. Whoever reduced the target to 0 Wounds suffers 33 points of Almighty damage.
[1d10] Critfails on 2, Target: AmyRoll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 10 = 10
Shei focuses some ambient magic amid the reprieve.
>GO, GO, GO!
Effect: For the next 3 turns, you and all Allies gain another Action, or 2 Actions on a natural crit.
Duration: 3 Turns
Recharge: Once per Combat
CONTROL+1: Spell, attempts to take control of a hostile or neutral undead. More powerful undead may require a higher minimum roll. Also used to take control of a larger undead at recharge 2.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
The grasp of the Tartarian curse weakens, but does not let go – it will take stronger, more concentrated powers to undo this evil.
>IMPENDING DISASTER Count will not rise this turn, but is currently at 1.>>759365
"We got lucky," Flow says, towering over you. Magatsuhi subtly creeps along his body. "And we did not need to chance this luck even once, yet you did not heed obvious tells this scum was leading us into an ambush. You whined. You practically stomped your hooves and started crying. You slapped your beloved across the face. All because you needed to have your way above everyone else, right then and there. You little control fr–"
"Flow, Flow," Voyage says, looking concerned. "Are… you feeling alright?"
Flow grimaces, blinking. The Magatushi recedes. He stops and rubs his forehead, his expression troubled. "…What I said stands. Do not think that this is going to happen again. The next time you run off to get yourself killed, you will run off alone."
Flow winces again, but calms himself quicker this time.>>759368>>759367>>759365>>759364https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tp56YsMdNKw
Distortion subtly warps the visible space around you. A sense of friction starts to grate all about. Amy recognizes this – wills are colliding near a boundary of the Abyss. Your will against his. Perhaps, even, unseen things around you.
You need to be careful…
"Now, now," the Worshipper says. "Save the big tough talk. So I thought I saw some easy marks. This one certainly didn't give much evidence to the contrary," he says, pointing at Shei. "Is that so wrong? Everyone does what they need in order to get by down here. I give boat rides. Sometimes I charge extra. You throw yourselves into ambushes. We all have our ways."
"Take us to where we want to go this time," Voyage growls. "And don't worry so much about Shei. Worry if you start annoying someone stronger and with more brains than him."
"Well, where do
you want to go?"
Shorthorns looks over towards Flow as he starts berating Shei, Shorthorns frowning in empathy for her friend being berated by cannot help but finding herself agreeing with Flow's chastisements. As Voyage steps in, she mentions to him, "Names, remember?" She says shortly before looking back to the Worshipper.
"We're new around here. If that's how you do things, we're not going out of our way to tell what we don't like about it. But we didn't come this far just to get ambushed in the middle of a swamp and let it all end there, and you can remember this and tell it to as many other demons as you know: we wouldn't even let something WAY worse than this stop us."
She sighs. "As to where we want to go, I thought we told you: the Hanging Port. Can you take us there or not?"
[1d10] Meanwhile, she tries another attempt to unweave the Impending Disaster, or at least continue to slow its growthRoll #1 5 = 5
>>759367WorshipperWeak: Noise, Water, Earth, DarkResist: Magma, Ice, Corrosion, Smoke, GravityNull: Mind, Ichor, Time, LightAbsorb: Magatsuhi, Lightning, SlashRepel: Fire, SmokeHP: 250Psychic HP: 125DC to Hit: 9DC to Persuade: 9Skill Bonus: +5Other Action Bonus: +4ATK Support: 5DEF Support: 5Critfail Support: 5Actions per Turn: 4>>759367
An absolutuely nauseating angler fish-like thing swims up to the boat and surfaces. For some unspeakable reason, it has four legs. It looks to you for orders.
Shei thinks this may be the first time Flow has ever exploded on him like this. He can't recount a time things got this bad between the two of this. It has always been like he could not do any wrong within their friendshisp. But perhaps this was the step too far. If Shei's arrived here. Has he really been running amok this whole time like a child while troubling his friends. The word control freak rings familiarly to Shei. In spite of Shei's physical growth, he feels much like an overgrown child at this point. God of bastards and Kids indeed.
Shei raises a hoof "That.. That is a rather fair point." Shei genuinely concedes to Flow's argument.
>"Well, where do you want to go?"
When this line is spoken Shei jiggles the Chalice of Tartarus. Without any bravado left, the wind having left's Shei's proverbial sails He asks the chalice as he shake its. "Are you still there? Can you signal our Worshipper the way so we may make the delivery."
Shei can feel some annoying curse cling to him. He brushes it off is shoulder.
>SPELLBREAKER: recharge 2 (minus 1), spell, ranged; nullify a spell or magic effect
[1d10+1]Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2
"A hearty degree of patience will help all parties." Leather nods, looking to Flow and Shei.
Leather also assists in helping dissolve the impending disaster.
>Spellbreaker; Recharge 2, ranged; Nullify a spell or magic effect.
[1d10+1] Critfails on 2Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3
"Flow I agree completely, but you gotta remember where we are. We have to cooperate," Amy says softly but firmly.
Then, she looks to Shei. "I AM waiting for an apology, though," she says in a way less soft and even more firm tone. "That slap was totally uncalled for.">>759374>>759372
"An easy mark?" Amy parrots the phrase in an annoyed tone. "Bitch, I know you feel Magatsuhi off of at leas one of us," she speaks in an uncharacteristically aggressive and well-reasoned tone. She even got the word Magatsuhi correct.
"Now, look at me," she gestures to her symmetrical, arguably beautiful form. "Do I LOOK like someone who dies a lot?"
"Now, turn off that weird feeling before I take your boat and your limbs," she says threateningly (referring to the IMPENDING DISASTER) as her new animal friend paces around them menacingly.
>[1d10] normal social roll, DC-4
"Or, if you'd like to escalate, I can certainly escalate…" she says as orbs of Magatsuhi well up in her crystaline fur.
>Homing Magic: Spell, Recharge 2 after effect ends; On success, summons a magical projectile, plus an additional one for every point you pass the roll by, to a maximum of 5 on a critical. The projectiles follow you around, and any number of them can be launched as an instant ranged-spell action, rolling separately for each.>[1d10+2]
>Appraise: instant; Determine the number of remaining hits and wounds on an enemy, and possibly weaknesses. More powerful enemies may be harder to Appraise. Out of combat, quickly determine value of objects, study mechanisms and documents, size up other ponies, etc.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 9 + 2 = 11
/ Roll #3 10 + 1 = 11
When Amy's asks for apology Shei's knee jerk reaction is to say "But I did offer a- ah" He stops himself. Biting his tongue to keep him from trying to argue the point. He restarts "…I want to make this up to you Amy. Because when I see myself now I see someone beyond reproach. I am truly sorry for what I did. I- I never thought I could be the sort to strike his spouse. But Please forgive me! ..-And please don't ever say you would have sex with another Colt. It tears me to shreds hearing you say that." Words come out painfully from his mouth, as the ball in Shei's throat grows soar. When he takes this moment to reflect on himself, he does not recognize himself anymore. Someone who's change. But he can't begin to articulate it, and he wouldn't use it as an excuse. He feels nothing but self-loathing for himself at this moment.
>IMPENDING DISASTER Count rises to 2…>>759375>>759373>>759379
"Ohohohoho, so, you're working for Belphecorp…?" the Worshipper asks.
"Yes, yes," the Belphecorp Secretary says. "Put him on the line. Just hit him a few times. That should be enough.">>759379
Flow grunts, sitting back down. Some of the distortion recedes… this was what so many forces warned you about. Psychic dissonance. Though whether Shei or Flow is the source, remains unclear.>>759379>IMMOLATION OF HYSTERIA
Tags: Ranged; Spell
Effect: Deals 2x damage after all other modifiers; reduces Target's AR against Fire by 1 stage
>GASPING ATTACKS AND MIRROR-BLOOD
Tags: Ranged; Spell
Effect: Deals 2x damage after all other modifiers; reduces Target's AR against Smoke by 1 stage
>BEND THE NIGHTMARE
Tags: Ranged; Spell
Effect: Deals 2x damage after all other modifiers; reduces Target's AR against Illusion by 1 stage
Targets: User's Allies
Tags: Turn Zero
Effect: User summons nearby Allies.
"That?" the Worshipper asks, also referring to IMPENDING DISASTER. "That's not me. It's something that happens whenever fights start around these parts. Nobody knows how or why. It's never the same thing twice. But, it goes away whenever a fight's over. So, call it off, put down your dukes, and we'll see what happens.">>759377>>759378
A feeling like fingers plays the piano down your spines. A quick glance reveals that it wasn't the Worshipper's hands. But, you don't see any other possible culprit nearby… You feel that you should really watch your backs from now on, literally and figuratively.
"We're only part time delivery boys. But after we finished the job I was hoping to ask for a full time position."
"-erm.. The chalice. Its for you." Shei remarks as he holds up the Chalice for the Worshipper to speak to.
Shorthorns grunts as she doubles her efforts to hold back the IMPENDING DISASTER using her Unweaving techniques, looking at Worshiper as he explains it's a result of the environment.
"It's not YOU who's doing this? That explains why it's so tough to hold back, it's the whole swamp doing it."
She raises her eyebrows, "So, that means it isn't just affecting us, but you too?"
[1d10] Maintaining UnweavingRoll #1 1 = 1
Amy cocks her head for a second as if processing what he is saying. Then, she says a simple. "Oh," in a light, childish tone.
In that same instant and over the course of that small utterance, all of her effects disappear. She instantaneously returns to her smaller, cuter form. Her magatsuhi is gone inexplicably quickly. Her new companion turns to leave.
Leather follows suite, ceasing his prayers.
"It seems like it picks sides. If it affected you this time, it might affect your enemies the next," the Worshipper says. "But again, it's anyone's guess. It's a capricious force. Cruel, mercurial, prone to mood swings, vengeful. Maybe it just doesn't like fights… and stops them by making them all the uglier until someone just gives up.">>759383>>759386>>759385>>759384
"You're supposed to hit him–" the Belphecorp Secretary says before the Worshipper takes the Chalice.
"Alright, this is your Captain speaking," the Worshipper says. "After a bit of an unexpected layover in East Dogshit, we're now back on our previously scheduled voyage…"
Great Voyage and Flow sit at the back of the boat, near the Worshipper, weapons and hooves ready in the event of more idiotic doings.
Shorthorns decides to take a chance and lower her battle-ready stance, anticipating the release of the impending doom around them all as she looks around the swamp.
"So it doesn't like fighting…" she says with an almost profound respect for the swamp. "I think it can be a little more choosey about which sides it picks but, I guess I can't be too mad at it." She says, leaning off the boat and giving a small bow of her head to the swamp in apology, treating the place like an actual entity with newfound respect.
She turns back to the Worshipper with a snort. "Heck of a place to spring an ambush on us, then. Why'd you take us here if you were going to betray us? How did you know the swamp wouldn't curse you instead?"
Shei swipes the chalice back and takes his seat as soon as the Worshipper appears done with it. Shei speaks into the chalice "You can hit me when we get there- how about that. I much rather not rock the boat -per say."
Shei puts a hoof to his head, as he sits down. Readying himself for another ride to endure as he focuses his concentration on holding himself together.
>ready for travel
Amy lets out a long sigh. "Shei, when I brought up sleeping with someone, it wasn't an actual suggestion. I was saying that you doing stuff without thinking in Tartarus puts everyone in bad situations. Do you want that for us? Do you want to put us in such a bad situation that we have to do something like that to survive?"
"If the answer is no, then stop getting a demon's before he even tells you what his price is."
*…stop getting on a demon's boat before…
"East Dogshit, Now I wonder how magnets work in the abyss. Is there an Abyssal North?" Leather mumbles, getting back to writing notes, "Or perhaps it's relative…"
Shei can't bear to look at Amy, He turns his head to his hooves on the boat floor. "No-.. No I don't." He adopts the disposition of a Husband receding into an unabsolvable guilt.
"I don't know how magnets work, but we probably don't want an answer to that question. If there's a thing that points to things, then someone in Tartarus has probably tried to get it to point to them."
"Do you think it's worth asking for a map of Tartarus? The thought never even crossed my mind before honestly, I figured this place would be total chaos but, if these guys can find their way around, maybe it's more charted than I thought."
"It's all Tartarus that does this, baby, not just the swamp," the Worshipper clarifies. "I hear the effects are quite light up here in Heaven. Further below, some fights just end
the moment they start – with one side no more than a streak of red across the earth.">>759391>>759389>>759394>>759392
Once more, your boat nears the edge of the Abyss, turning this time at a nauseatingly steep angle upwards, and you all lean back, as if you might fall off… …………………………………………………………
Some indeterminate time later…
At the edge of your vision, you see the beginnings of a great mass. The closer you get, not only can you see more of it, you realize you see far less
of it than there is to see. It seems like a great and tangled cluster of roads, of paths, of walkways, of currents, of channels, of streets, of bridges, of trails, of ziplines, of everything and anything that can connect travelers, stretching in every which direction. Somehow, this discordant confluence of means of travel weaves together into a ball of structures and nodes.
The boat nears something resembling a port at a seaside town. It's quite packed, like what you might expect from a story of pirates. The Worshipper pulls in, and the Worship stops with a sigh of exhausted spirit.
Shei gets up and pats the Worshiper's shoulder "Thanks for the ride Worshiper. And -uh you want to do me favor and not talk about this incident with anyone?"
Shei follows up the question with another question and "And Incase I get that job. How much do boat rides cost?">>759398>>759392
Sometime during the boatride I'm sure Amy gave Shei back his eye.
When disembarking, Shei hoofers his hoof for Amy to grab to steady herself when stepping onto the dock, like a gentlecolt. He then asks her "Amy can I ask for a favor. Could you?.. Eat my godhood?"
"A map of Tartarus would never work," Amy says flatly.>>759400>>759398
"Oooh! I like this place," Amy says as Shei politely helps her off the boat.
Then, Shei makes his request. Amy looks to him in surprise and confusion. "Why?"
Shorthorns growls. "I am NOT a baby," she snorts grouchily before looking back over the edge. "But, thanks for the information. Do you know any way to stop these effects? Artifacts that some people have around here or anything?"
As the journey continues onwards through the swamp, Shorthorns tries to suffer the humid, sticky weather conditions as best as her fluffy and warm coat would allow her before she felt the scenery turn on its side once again, looking up as the boat seems to take another sharp turn upwards back into the Abyss as Shorthorns prepares herself, growing used to the odd method of travel.
As they emerge from it once again at the sight of a great many roads, paths, and streets all circled together into a giant clumped sphere of paths, Shorthorns eyes peer through the gaze as they look at the side that resembles a sea-side port, hanging off of this sphere.
"Oooh… starting to see why they call it the 'Hanging' Port now. This place looks packed, who all lives here?"
"I want to feel what it's like without it again. You can give it back anytime. But just hold onto it for a little while. Until I need it back."
Shei clasp your paw in his hoof when he requests this. Both his hooves holding the paw he helped you off the boat with.
"Ah, again very homely. The architecture reminds me of the agility courses of the Morte Legionem." Leather speaks to himself as he looks over the rooftops, "I haven't used a zipline in years. I've grown quite a bit since."
"If there was, all Tartarus would be fighting over them. And the effects would only get worse as a result.">>759402>>759403>>759407>>759400
The Worshipper waits until all are disembarked before answering any more questions. The first one to ask questions is Shei. He responds:
"Get lost," and he and his boat drift off into the Abyss once more.
Voyage and Flow stare at him as he departs, until the two at last relax. Voyage takes the Chalice from Shei, listening for a bit. "Huh… alright…" he mumbles. He looks exhausted – Shorthorned knows that this Belphecorp Secretary is just the latest in a long line of voices whispering into Voyage's ear. But nonetheless, Voyage turns, and waves you onward. "Come. He says his 'office' is this way. Whatever an office is."
Amy's expression sours. "Shei… I rejected becoming a god for a reason… I'll take individual powers, but I NEVER want to be a god."
"Aren't offices where boring people go to yell at each other?" Amy asks conversationally as she follows Voyage.
As Voyage listens to the Chalice, and allows yet another influence to steep into his beleaguered mind, Shorthorns turns her attention away from the departing living ship and towards her partner, moving over to him as she notices the strain on his mind.
She takes the Chalice form him forcibly, adamant to remove the burden from him. "Alright, I'll lead the way on this. Hey! Whoever's been speaking to Shei and to Voyage, just tell me where to go!" She says, demanding directions from their would be sponsor.
Shei appears crestfallen "I shouldn't have asked you that. That's okay- It isn't right for me to treat godhood as a trinket I can pass around."
With as much said Shei contiues to hold Amy's hoof as he follows Voyage, whom leads the party to the secretary's office.
"They can also house politicians, those are the offices I'm used to snooping in on." Leather notes, following along too. "But same difference."
"An office is much like a study. Except it's saved for clerical use instead of a personal retreat."
"Aristocrats, clerics, bureaucratic trash…" Voyage grunts, snorting with pagan disdain for the social waste of civilized peoples. "We better not have been dragged all the way through that swamp just for that…" >>759619>>759621>>759620>>759622
"Ah, yes," a nasally voice answers Shorthorned. "Please, keep passing around the receiver. I do so love repeating myself… hold on, I am divining your position… aha! There you are. Come along, come along! I have a meeting in seven chimes I need to prepare for!"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JELt1jxJsHQ
The nasally secretary of Belphecorp provides real-time instructions for Shorthorned, who relays them to the rest of the party. Without his instructions, even the most seasoned navigator among you would surely be lost in this Anchor.
The Hanging Port is comprised of many contradictory architectures, no doubt harvested from the discarded waste of many Worlds. Brick, stone, straw, sand, thatch, jewels, seaweed, even fire and ice – it seems like every new building you pass along these Mobius strip-like roads is made of a new material, complete with its own physical laws, enabling it to remain hospitable no matter how illogical. The one thing unifying them is the endless stream of opportunities to spend your money – rather, your bones – on anything and everything you can think of, limited only by imagination. Every single structure has someone, usually a couple dozen, or even a hundred someones, who wants to sell you something. Flow and Voyage shield you from their purse-lightening attacks with their quiet ushering.
At last, you reach a skyscraper – or perhaps, an Abysscraper – made of blocky, geometric material. Not living stone, nor even noble metals, but something lifeless, artificial, manufactured. It has maybe over a hundred floors, and stands askew atop a patch of foul-smelling, tar-like matter, cracked and ill-maintained. A vast lattice of infrastructure, resembling the roots of a plant, scrawl out below it.
"It kinda looks like a tree!" Amy observes in an amused tone as she observes the tall building. Her tail wags. "Is this the place?"
"Fortunately my services can drain these kind of swamps relatively easily. I don't think that's how we want to negotiate though, I imagine destabilization doesn't do much for long in an realm that's unstable to begin with."
He looks out to the structures, watching demons interact with eachother.
"How do you drain a swamp?" Amy asks, cocking her head.
Shorthorns follows the Secretary's instructions dutifully while also sight-seeing, nearly missing a critical instruction here and there as she marvels at the many mish-mashed architecture pieced together. "Look at it all. I haven't seen a place this busy since Mariposa."
As they reach the tower, she looks up at the looming concrete structure towering over all of them. Her sensitive nose twitches at the scent of the tar, and she presses onwards, looking to Amy as she nods. "So the voice says. Come on, let's go on in and meet our guide."
"Paperwork is the backbone of civilization Voyage. If those of the first ring honor their dealings with Belphcorp, and Belphcorp honors their's. Than we should have our dealings with them too."
Shei hangs his head low, hoofs dug into his pockets as he follows his group. Despite the low mood, there are enough oddities to catch his eye once twice as his sights linger on this bizarre, bizarre world they've found themselves in.
"I've never seen a bureaucrat actually do it even though they often promise, really the simplest way is to shoot the people making the swamp."
"Yeah, reminds me of Vitral," Voyage mutters in agreement once you've gotten through the worst of the "downtown" congestion. "A capital city composed of stolen places, and a trading hub composed of lost or discarded places…"
"Aye," Flow says. "Be they umbrals, demons, or mortals, we've all got a few common motivations."
You enter the building, and the first floor is rather plain. A single receptionist's desk sits in what is otherwise a barren space. The desk is maybe 1/100th of the space. The rest of it is barren, empty, aside from the walls which are plastered with… portraits? Landscapes? There is text below each one – not that you can read them. You suppose they might be directed at the receptionist, aimed at motivating them.
Speaking of which, any and all attempts you make to reach the receptionist are fruitless – the Umbral, comprised of dozens of mouths and dozens of mismatched limbs, is surrounded by an array of hundreds of mechanical devices, which chime and growl with torturous tones, which the Umbral only sates for brief periods by picking one up and yelling into it. They seem to switch languages with each new device. In the instantaneous breaks the receptionist gets, you convey your intentions to them, word by word. At last, you manage to make out words, after the receptionist deciphers your language…
"Floor – 333!" the harried Umbral snaps. With a tentacle limb, they gesture to the back wall, where one single elevator awaits.
Amy stares at Cloak for a while as if she's trying to solve a riddle. Then, her eyes narrow as if she's suspicious of something. "Is this one of those things…? A… megafour?">>759631
Amy turns to look toward the elevator. "Neat," she says with a wag of her tail. "Thank you," she says to the umbral before heading into the elevator.
Amy is very magical in nature.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Shorthorns nods her head at Voyage, "That's exactly what it reminded me of, was the mismatched buildings and streets! Like a whole bunch of different places were pulled together."
Moving into the massive lobby of the building, Shorthorn looks around before looking at the multi-limbed, horribly busy entity sitting behind the lone desk, watching in bewilderment as she works tireless to answer so many calls all at once before they manage to get their attention.
As she points them towards the elevator and the floor, the buffalo looks upwards, "This place has THAT many floors…?! Uh… sure thing, thank you."
She follows along with the others to the elevator, asking, "How long do you think it'll take this thing to go up THAT high?"
[1d10+1]Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
>>759631>any bonuses you might get to agility, dodging,
Tsiba: All Movement actions for you are Free Actions instead of Auto Instant; Enables pseudo-flight through repeated aerial jumps; Characters that can already fly gain +2 to Dodge rolls; Failed Dodge rolls halve the damage you would have taken.>even feats of strength, those can apply here
Tough: passive; Earth ponies take 1 additional hit before becoming helpless as well as 1 extra wound once they become helpless, for a total of 6 hits and 6 wounds without other modifiers. They can also lift, carry and move heavier objects than unicorns and pegasi.>>759632
"Something like that, I hear polders have something to do with reclaiming land from water too."
[1d10] and the actual rollRoll #1 7 = 7
Shei-Sher bewildered as much as his companions at the scene. He thinks as they idle that he does not envy that secretary's occupation.
His attention is taken away as if ripped from a day dream when the clerk shouts its directions at them. Shei busies himself to the elevator with the rest of the party.
>(RACIAL)Goatcraft: passive; Min -1 for all climbing and agility rolls, and can use anything as food, including non-food items>Talent: Timid +1
[1d10]Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
"What's a polder?" Amy asks curiously.
After calling the elevator, there is a long, long, long, LONG wait… the machinery behind the doors whirs endlessly, and just when it sounds like it's getting close, it fades out, as if it knows that you're waiting, and runs on spite and malevolence…
At last, the doors creak open… and Cloak, reacting on pure instinct faster than thought, sticks his arm out, and clotheslines a hideous little Umbral that had made a dash for the elevator! The Umbral crawls back up – all ears and elbows and noses and rotten teeth – and hisses gutturally, rushing into the elevator! It slams the buttons and tries to hit another button to get the doors to close, but Shei jams his horns in and holds the doors open, while Flow and Voyage toss the Umbral back out. With no time to spare, you all rush in, and the doors slam shut the instant Shei removes his horns, with such force as to behead somebody!
The elevator climbs up, mercifully silent aside from the mechanical creaking…
Floor 333 is a chaotic frenzy of flying office stationery, creaking and croaking mechanical devices, and harried Umbrals in ill-fitting button-up shirts and ties flailing and flying all about, screeching about one thing or another as if it were the end of the Underworld. Many more sit in tiny boxes that resemble cages despite having open walls and open ceilings. Those who sit in these cages stare with hunched backs at magitech monitors, displaying either arcane symbols or grotesque images of indescribable evil – namely the evils of lust and wrath. Yet all who sit in those cages look like they might take any proffered death. Flow and Voyage bristle, like they're considering just putting them out of their misery…
"Ah, you're getting warmer," the secretary says. "My office is at the far northwestern corner. Someone got a promotion recently~~~!" he brags in a singsong voice.
Shei shoves himself into the elevator with the rest as his horns skid by the closing doors. He stands by as their floor number is entered. "Some people! The importance of arriving early to things." Shei remarks
When entering the floor again Shei's overstimulated by a mess of things occurring. It does something to actually sooth the constant static he hears. Infact does not even notice his own tinnitus with so much chaos to fill in his attention.
"I like to hear that. Our prospective patron is in a good mood." Shei remarks as he over hears the secretary from the grail. Shei travels at a brisk pace with his party. His step seems to lighten, as their environment takes his mind off things.
Shorthorns lays on her back about halfway into the wait for an elevator, grouchily staring upwards at the ceiling as she mumbles under her breath for it to hurry up as she has the answer to her question of how long it'll take. "Very…" she says aloud to herself.
As the *ding* finally notifies them of its arrival, she perks up excitedly only to see the other Umbral rushing in to steal it out from under them. "HEY!" She barks, "That one was ours!"
After the others work to throw the Umbral out, she quickly heads on in to claim their spot as they enter in another long wait as it ascends to the top. Upon opening the door to 333, Shorthorns looks around at all the hurriedly moving Umbrals but looks with particular concern to the ones trapped in cages as they work to their deaths. Shorthorns growls under her breath as she asks the Secretary, "What are these ones doing in cages? This isn't how you treat your slaves, is it!?"
"How rude…" Amy comments to the umbral before the door closes.>>759640>>759643
"Reminds me of priests," Amy comments. "But, more useful."
"Priests help with morale, depending on their style of proselytizing." Leather notes, waiting patiently on the way up and then following.
"Hmmm…" Amy responds thoughtfully.
"If they don't like it, all they have to do is find another job!" the Secretary responds as if the logic were unimpeachable. "Belphecorp offers endless employment opportunities – we own everything in Heaven!">>759643>>759642>>759644>>759645
Dodging the melee of dodgy, depressed, desperate and despondent demons (Umbrals), you navigate through the chaotic office floor, though not without being showered with shredded paper and pencil shavings more than a few times. It'll be in your armor for weeks…
But at last.
When the office door (pure mahogany) closes behind you.
You are granted a reprieve.
Even Flow and Voyage, tough as they are, look like they needed it.
The corner office is indeed quite luxurious. It's a huge room for one Umbral, and he has a very large (mahogany) desk taking up most of the space. The north and west walls are clear glass, and the east and south walls are covered with portraits labeled, respectively: "MEME OF THE WEEK," "MEME OF THE MONTH," "MEME OF THE YEAR," "MEME OF THE CENTURY–"
etc, etc, in larger time increments. The walls are absolutely blanketed in the things. You can't even see the wallpaper underneath.
Speaking of time… how long has it been since you last ate…?
But just as that thought occurs to you, the leather chair before you – which had been facing away from you – turns around.
The figure in the chair is bipedal, and wears a broad-shouldered suit of a stark peach color, and a nauseatingly green tie. His face– he has none. Well, not quite. No skin can be seen, but a face of sorts is there, comprised entirely of everything besides the skin. He's got a colossal slicked-back pompadour, a monstrous grin, and golden wrap-around sunglasses… though, they probably amplify light, given there's no sun down here…
This asshole… his sunglasses even have a built-in nose cover! He's got no nose to speak of–
"REGARDLESS of my nose or lack thereof," the secretary says, straightening out his jacket with hands that have golden watches on every finger and wrist (he has six of the things!) "I'm more than glad you all could make it. My name is MISTER MOOLAH, the pleasure's all yours."
He sticks out six arms from one sleeve for a handshake – the other sleeve has gone empty just for the occasion. His three left hands shudder and crawl underneath the skin, as the bones and muscle reshape themselves into right hands for the purposes of the handshake.
"I trust you had a pleasant journey here?" MISTER MOOLAH asks.
"The city's kinda cool," Amy responds as an answer to his question. She shakes his hand.
"Nice to meet you! I'm Amy Thest!"
Shei focuses himself to not be turning his head around everywhere, instead darting his ee every which way and the sights to see. Though he tries to look sharp for his customer.
Shei-Sher directs himself to shake to Moolah's hand and not trouble him with any of their troubles by clearing the pleasantries. "Yes, smooth sailing the entire course Mister Moolah. I'm Shei-Sher, the goat that promised you your pizza."
Putting on some flare for their customer Shei flourishes his cape and drapes mid air. As his velvety cape traipses across the outline of a fridge. Pulling the cape in reveal the White fridgerator Shei has stored.
Shei opens the fridge door to take out a box of pizza. Opening the box lid to reveal the immaculate pie Shei has cooked for the umbral. Shei-Sher then asks "Would you like your pizza served hot or cold?"
Shorthorns grunts as she tries to dodge all the flying office supplies, looking upon the umbrals in the open-ended cages with pity. "I can't imagine they'd be working here if they didn't have any other choice."
As they finally manage to enter his office, Shorthorns looks around all the various pictures before looking towards Mister Moolah as he turns around, eyes opening and involuntarily jumping back a little as she sees his skinless features. As he comments about his nose, Shorthorns raises her eyebrows as she reaches forward to shake his hand. "Uh… I didn't say anything about your nose, Mister." She says respectfully (and confused), before bowing her head. "And it was, not easy but not the hardest thing we've ever had to do either. The building is crazy, how does anything get done around here?"
"Well the pleasure is all mine, so I suppose it's pleasant now." The assassin says offhandedly, more focused on the meme portraits and their contents than MISTER MOOLAH themselves.
"Ew! Cold pizza!?" Amy wretches.
"Efficiently, that's how!" MISTER MOOLAH answers. "You see those Umbrals out there running around like the damn building's on fire but they haven't gotten their timesheet approved for the week? THAT is peak employee engagement metrics. You run like that 21 hours a day, 100 days a week, you're in the GREEN, baby!">>759651
"HOT, PIPING HOT, please!" MISTER MOOLAH answers. "I'll have the rest cold tomorrow morning.">>759650>>759651>>759652>>759653
MISTER MOOLAH's hands readjust themselves into their original configurations, and he ties a bib around his neck – or what might approximate it.
"NOW then," he continues. "LET'S get down to BUSINESS. I didn't REALLY call you all the way down here just for a pizza delivery. You people… it's no secret that only one of you is an Umbral. Or, should I say, a former Umbral. You have the scent of sunlight upon you… You can bet your bottom dollar, your bottom bit, your bottom ruble, rupee, shekel, reichmark, pound, schilling, WHATEVER you might have – that every single Umbral you encounter is going to have their eyes on you. That's going to be a problem for you. I deal with
problems. I deal in
solutions. If you're smart enough to want to hear it."
MISTER MOOLAH leans in conspiratorially. He's… much taller like this. Like his pompadour might scrape the ceiling. When did he start towering over you like that…?
"You're gonna work them all to DEATH… which, I guess isn't a problem for them, given where we are, but still that doesn't make it okay. And there's only seven days in a week!"
As he explains how he knows where they come from, Shorthorns puffs out her cheeks. "It's not like we tried to make a big deal of hiding it. But you have a point, I figure a few people might want something to do with us. We've already had one nasty surprise already." Even as he leans in intimidatingly, Shorthorns snorts out her muzzle, stomping her hoof and keeping her ground like the goddess she is. "And what would your proposal be exactly, Mister Moolah?"
"How many days are in a week?" Amy asks flatly as her understanding of time is thrown off by such a ridiculous statement.>>759656
"Hey, I'm still plenty demon," Amy responds defensively at the statement of not being umbral anymore.
"It's in my business not to have eyes on me, I'm just on vacation right now." He pauses, "Will you be charging for your pitch?"
Shei is a bit blownback by the pace of things, used to a much slower approach. But he supposes thing run fast in the big city.
Shei-Sher retrieves his hobo stove from his cape and sits his pizza ontop of it. Though Shei expects it's be improper to set a fire in an office building instead Shei uses his influence of matter gently heat the pizza to a piping hot temp.
"Mister Moolah you are exactly correct, as newcomers to Tartarus we are in need of a sponsor. In addition to us appearing as tourists to any denizen. The void is a chaotic place, and I know we cannot arrive at our desired destination in one trip. Yet you are quite effective at mapping out lines for for us to follow in the void. I hope we can work out something that is profitable for everyone involved."Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
"Down here, it's HOWEVER LONG YOU WANT IT, BABY! OVERTIME!? You got it! VACATION DAYS!? After a ten century probation period! BENEFITS!? NEVER HEARD OF HER!">>759658>>759657>>759660>>759661
"We're throwing… a LITTLE TEA PARTY," MISTER MOOLAH declares while Shei heats his pizza.
Flow and Voyage, who had been poker-faced til now, raise an eyebrow each.
"You mentioned a nasty surprise just now– I take it this means you were WAYLAID ALONG YOUR WAY," MISTER MOOLAH continues in a solemn tone.
"…Aye," Flow grimly confirms. His face is tense, and his stress is plain. He's not uttering a word without intense calculations of risk.
"SADLY, it's the reality of unlife down here," MISTER MOOLAH continues. "And that ACT OF VIOLENCE was made all the worse by an unseen force, I take it?"
"Yeah," Voyage says.
"WE here at BELPHECORP INDUSTRIES, LLC, INT'L, PhD, PVC, ABC aim to offer the Underworld a TEMPORARY REPRIEVE from this exact problem! Dealing with problems by dealing in solutions."
"The Umbrals here say it's just a fact of Tartarus," Flow answers.
"Not quite true," MISTER MOOLAH says. "It's all the same to the COMMON Umbrals. Whether or not they knew the truth would make no difference. None of them would ever be able to address the problem properly. They would just try everything we've already tried! GUNS, KNIVES, DEADLY NERVE GAS, SNEAK GANGSTER CONSPIRACIES!
"But, the truth, if you care to know it, is that Tartarus itself doesn't intervene in fights – and certainly wouldn't tip the scales or try to end fights early! Come on, that's a LAUGHABLE notion! HahahahahaHA! A place like this, ever stopping the violence, ever stopping the bloodshed, ever stopping the cruelty, the evictions, the foreclosures, the targeting, the persecution, the kidnapping, the invasion, the manipulation, the POISON, the SIN, the HATRED!?
"That force, that omnipresent, unbreakable force, that makes violence ALL THE MORE OGRISH, all to get it to stop, so WE CAN ALL JUST GET ALONG, is the work…
"The work of an entity
"One entity, who is called the–
MISTER MOOLAH abruptly stops. He glances to the windows, gets up, and draws the curtains. He looks at the memes on the wall, and snaps his fingers. Each picture-frame darkens. In other words, every image, every doorway, every window, he ensures is concealed before he speaks again.
"The Vestal of Compassion," Mister Moolah says, this time barely above a whisper.https://youtu.be/PPa6ouVRTtc
Shorthorns turns her eyebrows up in confusion as he explains it isn't Tartarus itself that inacts the impartial 'curse' on those who engage in combat within it. "I guess, knowing what we know of this place, that it would work against itself to stop violence WAS a bit unbelievable… but then, who is it that IS responsible for it?"
She looks around as he hurriedly puts down ever window, image, door and everything else before muttering the entity's name. Shorthorn's heart seems to lighten just by the mention of it.
"The Vestal of Compassion…? I didn't know such a being could exist down here but, they sound nice. Do you know them?"
"You certainly sound afraid of compassion," Amy comments with a frown.
Shei finishes heating the pizza and carries it to MISTER MOOLAH's desk for his consumption.
"And Belphecorp has solutions for the vestal of compassion?"
erm- redact that statement. I dont want Shei saying the full name.
"And Belphecorp has solutions for the.. compassion?"
"Nobody knows the Vestal," Mister Moolah continues at this whisper-voice. "Few know of
her, and those who do, know next to nothing of her. Be she Umbral, mortal, or something else entirely… even those with keen spiritual senses cannot make sense of her presence. One of the few things we do know is her great love of peace. A lovingkindness so great, so messianic, so unbounded and free-flowing, that her reaction to sensing violence…
"And this comes from an Umbral.
"She has ingrained herself into the infinitude of the First Layer, and seeks to really, truly make it the 'Heaven' that we joke about. Her conception of Heavenliness is equivalent to perfect peace – serene stillness, without defect or disturbance.
"And so, upon those who would violate that peace, be they common thug, or righteous conqueror.
"She visits abject, torturous violence.
"An 'eye for an eye,' one might think?
"Nothing so legalistic and verbose!
"The equivalent of a girl throwing down her toys when upset at playtime.
"She… can annihilate Anchors.
"Yet, she prefers her punishments more personal, more torturous. To send a message to individuals, tuning it just to them.
"Naturally, she has no place down here. Nothing proper can really get done with her here. Her message is inarticulate, nonsensical, unrealistic, without hope or gravity. She is completely oblivious to material reality of how things happen in the real world."
"Strange words coming from an Umbral…" Flow mutters.
"True," Mister Moolah agrees. "That is how unnatural the Vestal's presence and influence is. Because of this, thugs and lumpen continue their random attacks. Muggings, murders, kidnappings, ransoms… oh, the Vestal visits punishments sublime upon them. But, she doesn't actually deter anything. Her peace is a complete farce!
"There are greater political enterprises in Tartarus that have been forestalled by the Vestal's pesky influence, because they would take too long to survive under her anti-violence influence… so we at Belphecorp have attempted for quite some time to put this girl to bed.
"Our most recent attempt… involved the recovery of certain weapons, discarded from a World far unlike any other I have seen.
"Great things, shaped quite like seeds of grass, or perhaps flowers…
"Just one… could burn away the capital city of a great empire.
"A handful… could erase the very countryland upon which that empire stands.
"Gone… reduced to ashes.
"Our most recent plan was flawless. We brought five of these weapons, shrunken down, disguised, made invisible and undetectable, before the Vestal… and activated them at near point-blank range by our volunteer kamikaze employees…
"Perhaps owing to their resemblance to seeds…
"Those marvelous weapons… bloomed.
"Subject to the Vestal's absolute, unquestionable influence, those ancient bringers of armageddon gave rise to a meadow of flowers and grass.
"Perhaps… because of the spectacular nature of their failure, that plan…
"That plan was the only one of ours… that did not end in the complete slaughter of the deployment team.
"The Vestal cannot be stopped… except on her own terms."
"It sounds like she just punishes inefficiency. A good bad deed is one that's done quick and cleanly, not stretched over long enough for her sway to matter, no?" Leather counters, ears perking up slightly over murders, "Or automation, would that not cut out the issue of Umbral being punished entirely?"
"If that were true, she would not have been able, or willing, to stop the weapons we appropriated – had it worked properly, she would have been annihilated the instant they activated."
"Oh I'm sure she doesn't play by her rules when it's her annihilation on the line, but I meant more for the status quo." He shrugs.
"In my opinion, sir, you are ascribing far too much rationality onto a mind such as hers. Besides, she did not even know of the weapons' presence prior to their activation. Her testimony, and the testimonies of all the would-be kamikaze employees, agrees to that."
"It's kind of annoying…" Amy muses. "If she can do something like change an explosion while it's happening, why can't she just change people's attacks to… not attacks? It seems funnier and more useful than making people hurt more."
At first, Moolah's description of the Vestal is seemingly so idealistic, so kind, that Shorthorns can't help but smile at one who shunned unnecessary violence in a place as steeped in it in Tartarus that it lends to admiration. However, as the description turns to her enthusiastic penchant for punishments, her expression turns slightly soured, perhaps thinking this entity isn't as altruistic as one might believe.
"…at least she's trying." Shorthorns says simply. "I can't say whether she's right or wrong in her methods, or how Tartarus really is supposed to be, but there's nothing wrong with someone trying to stop violence where it's unnecessary."
"Why tell us all this. You might have records of the feats of the previous tourists to arrive in Tartarus. But This Vestal could be far more than just a living a creature. She could be a cosmic entity on par with Y'dryth, shimmering in the void. A job of subduing such thing is well beyond our scope."
"If you people plan to get anywhere in Tartarus, you will have to deal with those who do not know of the Vestal. And even if they knew of the Vestal, it sure as hell wouldn't stop them. Nobody is down here… without reason. Punishment? Reprisal? These didn't deter them before. It won't deter them now. No matter how many times they die for it. They want what they want, and they will chase after it.
"By hook, by crook.
"By murder, by theft.
"By gossip, by sabotage.
"By savagery, by conspiracy.
"That is the nature of most, if not all Umbrals.
"And, any mortal, angel or demon fool enough to come down here of their own volition…
"And, I would dare say, that irrational, unthinking, unpeaceful Vestal herself.
"She is the most violent one of all.
"So, you have two options, as far as I see it," MISTER MOOLAH says, getting some of his earlier salesman confidence back.
"You can assist Belphecorp in our plan to subdue the Vestal upon terms agreeable to her.
"Or, you can go back out there, and take your chances with the violence others will visit upon you and your allies. And, the violence that the Vestal will visit upon you, if you so much as DARE to defend yourselves.
"…Where does this 'tea party' you mentioned factor in?" Voyage asks, skeptically.
"Why, it was the Vestal's idea," MISTER MOOLAH explains. "Despite everything else irrational and illogical in her thinking, she still likes cute, girly things like that. A tea party… certain teas are known to aid in restful sleep. So, Belphecorp now intends to throw her a party with a tea so calming… she will be put to a deep rest for aeons. A simple task, knowing what herbs and drinks can be found down here…
"Then, that will open the way for true change to happen in Heaven… a true confederacy of demon lords, ladies – and Interanchor corporations!"
As Moolah offers his terms in regards to either working with them, or going out and chancing Heaven on their own with the unbiased gambit that is Vestal's curse against violence, Shorthorns is actually given pause to think.
"…I don't disagree with Vestal's wish to stop violence, but, I have to admit… there is times where it is unavoidable. If we are attacked, we already know there is every chance the curse will afflict us despite being on the defense. We can't bet on making it too far with that in mind."
As he explains how she likes girly things, Shorthorns can't help a glance towards Amy, raising an eyebrow as she seems to draw comparisons between her and the Vestal. "And it's at this tea party of hers you intend to meet with her? What exactly do you have in mind to stop her that she'd still think she was getting what she wanted?"
"Does she communicate with people…?"
"Alas, if only the missus was here to assist. So hedonistic comfort and sloth, and the compassion to let her have the day-eon off for once for all the hard work she does." Leather shrugs, "So do you have our maid outfits already tailored?"
"So then, you would like to contract us as a delivery service. We will find the ingredients for your Tea and you will sponsor our adventure in Tartarus with aid in navigation and I presume a commission based payroll?"
Shei puts a hoof to his brow. With sickening twinge of befuddlement he contemplates the alternative of what Moolah may be suggesting "Or if that's not it- then perhaps you wish for us to accompany Belphecorpe in hosting the tea party?"
MISTER MOOLAH starts to eat his pizza as negotiations continue.
"We have contracted with a certain Umbral clan to draft up the ideal sleepy-time tea," he explains. "I can't exactly give you the formula until I've got some signatures on the dotted line… Primarily, we need forces who are capable of retrieving the ingredients the clan has named. These will not be easy to obtain… we can't just give this job out to any old chumps! Don't worry, you won't be the only non-Umbrals on the case… some fellows in rather snazzy jackets came by earlier who were quite amenable to this venture."
Voyage and Flow hold back on their reactions… so, the Ecclesians are already involved.
"However, if you believe your talents lie instead in conducting the tea party, or putting on security, we could use plenty of help there. We've already got some mortal volunteers. These weirdos were all dressed pretty funny, but they seemed a friendly lot."
Definitely the Witches of Gehenna.
That leaves out the other Saviors of Vitral, Buiwong's Spiders, and the Light Brigade. Who knows where they may be at this time… taking their chances against violence itself?
Perhaps, if you wanted nothing to do with this Vestal business, you might seek them out instead…
"I AM pretty good at partying," Amy says with a grin as she looks around at everyone.
"It seems she can, when she chooses to, but as I have said, she is plainly irrational, and one might even say given to mystical associations between concepts, a logic to which only she is privy. Communications beyond the most basic and unambiguous of concepts is essentially fruitless."
"Sleepy-time?" Shorthorns asks, leaning into Moolah as she puts her hooves on his nice, big, probably expensive desk. "Are you saying the plan here is to make her fall asleep? For how long? How does she get anything she wants that way, that doesn't exactly sound as 'agreeable to her' as you said it would be."
"That's the party host's job to convince her! But seriously, who doesn't like sweet dreams, especially someone who purports to be as innocent a girl as her!? If all goes well, she can snooze for aeons – that's the potency of the brew we're making! Don't drink any yourself!"
"Drat! I've let them beat us here." Shei curses the fact the other groups beat them to negotiations. "If they've gotten this far, the other groups must have devised their own methods of communicating across Tartarus.">>759687>>759690
"Now that I think about it. I might be suited for hosting a tea party. Could throw in some live entertainment as well. I know the malechim would be thrilled for our first gig."
Shorthorns still looks up at the imposing figure of MISTER MOOLAH with trepidation, not feeling entirely on board with the sleepy plan but admittedly unable to make a counter-suggestion until she knows more about the Vestal.
"I can work around getting the ingredients in the mean-time, but do you know if there's ANY way to meet the Vestal before the Tea Party? Even if just for a little bit?"
"I can't share all her DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS until I've got your signature, little miss ribeye…" MISTER MOOLAH says… until he leans in conspiratorially, his back bending at an unconscionable angle to slither in close. "…But out of the goodness of my piggy bank, I'll let you know this: You DO NOT want to do that.">>759692>>759827>>759687
Before you can say aught else…
Shei feels an iron grip settle onto one shoulder. Rather, it is merely cold like iron, and strong like it. But it is decidedly made of goo.
"Before we break out the good ink," Flow says, staring down MISTER MOOLAH. "I'd like a word with my staunch business partner here. Got anywhere a bit quieter than the killing floor out there?" he adds, gesturing to the cubicle farm.
MISTER MOOLAH's smile narrows with barely-veiled displeasure until it's a bottom line. "Since you want to help yourself to more of my time, why don't I let you have my conference room, too?" he sneers, gesturing to a door in the corner of the office.
"Much appreciated. I'm sure it'll bring us to the best deal either of us can get," Flow retorts, walking toward the conference room.
MISTER MOOLAH leans back, grabbing a coffee mug designated as belonging to the BOSS OF THE MILLENIUM, and heads for the door to the cubicle farm. "While we're waiting, you'll find refreshments in the BREAK ROOM, where I'm going. Small bones, exact change please. And the vending machine in the far corner will just straight-up eat your arm, so keep that in mind."
"Can we wait in here?" Voyage asks.
"…………………………………………………………………………sure," Mister Moolah decides, then slams the door.
"Then again- now I'm thinking if we signed up for the tea party portion of this contract, what would we do in the meantime inbetween now and the scheduled tea party. I suppose we could pitch in with procuring ingredients. No reason we can't both- I mean, why not."
Shei can feel the imminence of drama approach as Flow grips his shoulder. He has a notion of a discussion about be had. The levity of Mister Moolah's canter dissipates as Shei's remorse returns.
"Eat your arm for payment, or-" Leather starts to ask, before the door is shut.
Shorthorns huffs. "Little Miss Ribeye… call me that again and you'll be Mr. Porkchops!" She says to the pompadour'd CEO, laying out a sigh as he explains that they won't want to be seeing her in person. "I've heard that before…" she says, remembering all the warnings leading up to actually meeting with Regina. "We're gonna be seeing her for the Tea Party anyways, what's wrong with meeting her a little early too?">>759828>>759829
As Flow interrupts the proceedings for a request with a private meeting, Shorthorns nods her head respectfully before following Shei and Flow to the conference room.
"I think it wouldn't hurt to get the ingredients just in case: we definitely need to do something about Vestal and her curse or we'll never get through Tartarus. But I think we should try to figure her out more before putting her to sleep forever or something, she may just need our help like Regina did. I remember everyone saying she was beyond helping too."
"Good idea!" Amy agrees with Shei's suggestion. "I always like to help!">>759831
"No, silly. You CUT OFF your arm for payment. How could you pay anyone with it if it's in your stomach!?"
As the door shuts behind you, you find yourself in a long room, oddly spartan and utilitarian in comparison to the rest of the office. A long table, probably mahogany, fills the center, along with six spinning chairs.
Flow glances at a water cooler, placed in the corner next to a couple of ferns. He contemplates the water inside, fiddling a little with one of the paper cups available… but then puts it back.
He then takes a seat in one of the chairs, pushing out another nearby one for you to take.
Eventually, he breaks the silence. "I've felt no compulsion to drink water… Voyage hasn't felt hungry or thirsty, either. Just does it out of habit… How you faring, lad? Feeling alright?"
All things considered… you haven't felt most biological compulsions either. No hunger, no thirst, nor even exhaustion, save for just after that fight. It is not as if those needs feel satiated. It is more like you don't have them at all anymore.>>759831>>759832>>759833
Voyage waits until Mister Moolah has wandered off – at least, what he can see through the mixture of blood and vomit on the office's window – then turns to you.
"Not gonna lie… I'm none too eager to get involved here," Great Voyage says. "Coming here was Shei's obligation, sure, but we don't have to sign up to be pawns of this guy's next scheme, either. Tell me none of you guys believed his sales pitch."
"I don't imagine for a single second he's doing this out of the goodness of his heart or anything, he definitely wants something out of us… but all the same, he kind of has a point. Do you think we can make it all the way to the Lake with this curse hampering us the entire way? Even if we never go looking for a fight it could STILL hurt us even if we're just defending ourselves, that's a huge burden."
She pauses, "The other groups were all supposed to come to the Hanging Port too, think we should go out and try to find one of them, see what they think first?"
Shei-Sher takes a seat in an office chair, and makes himself open to conversation, turning his chair to face Flow.
It pains Shei to make small chit-chat when he expects some heavy is needed to be discussed. "..Please. Cut straight to what needs to be said. I'm not okay, and the way I have been behaving my traits as a liability are shining through my traits as an asset to the party."
"I kinda think he might just want what we want in this case. Of course, if he can get someone else to do it, then it's better than doing it himself.">>759834
"I'm listening if you have something to say."
"But putting Vestal to sleep forever… I don't know, it just doesn't sound like a very fair solution. Her methods are bad but she just wants people to stop fighting, that's not a bad thing to want at all."
"It does sound like they only affect this level of Tartarus, so we're not required to deal with them. That being said, killing's my profession, so it'd make things harder if they were still around."
"If you want to get people to stop fighting, you need to either get rid of their reasons to fight or take away their ability to fight. Making it worse just… sucks.">>759839
"We could just not kill on this layer."
"Oh, it's that obvious?" Flow retorts. "You know me, lad. I'm not much for words. But I care about my allies – asking how you're doing is what needs to be said. Just because you're obviously not putting a care into your safe venture, doesn't mean I won't."
He grunts. "…You're well aware of it then. From your rallying cry of 'Let's die already,' at the Great Seal, to your attacking the statue in the shattered city, to falling for a deal too good to be true, to screaming at Voyage and myself when we had doubt, to slapping Amy, to refusing to see the obvious lesson when we were taken off course and attacked… every time, putting yourself and others in danger with no need…
"And yet, you still did all of that. Why? I've known you to be lots of things, lad. Stupid isn't one of them. What's got you acting like this – and knowing that you're acting like it, too?">>759835>>759837>>759839
"All of that Vestal stuff aside, whether it's true or not," Voyage continues. "I kept wanting to know 'why' he'd even care about all that. He alluded to political upheavals and establishing some confederacy of demon fiefdoms and 'cor-por-a-tions'… whatever that word means. So, obviously the Vestal's been putting a big check on what sounds like a land grab, a campaign of conquest, something like that. Is that really going to be much better for us to have surrounding us than the Vestal's influence?"
"Right, but if she had the power to do it like this, she must have enough power to do it another way, right? Maybe she just needs someone to tell her what she's doing is wrong and she can use her powers to stop fighting the right way.">>759839
"It may only just affect this level but I assume we have a lot of 'Heaven' to go still. I'd like that curse not to be an issue the whole way."
Shorthorn scoffs, "Oh, THAT'S easy to figure out. Just spending a few minutes with this guy and in this madhouse he calls a building, it's obvious that the curse is stopping him from solving things through violence as much as he'd like. With the Vestal out of the way I'm sure that opens up a world of options for him, no wonder he'd like our help." She says, snorting out a little bit of frustration. "S-sorry, just… I get a bad feeling from the guy. Not sure where all that came from."
She takes a breath to calm herself. "But, even if that's true, at least whatever Mister Moolah does will be predictable. The curse is completely random whether it's gonna with us or against us, in every situation. Personally it sounds less risky to have someone you can at least count on to act in a certain way like Mister Moolah."
"I imagine it'd be easier to renege on any promise once the curse is gone too, for a demon with a lot of connections. Suddenly there'd be no downside for them trying to kill us off."
"That sounds like a nice idea," Amy says thoughtfully.>>759841
Amy thinks for a minute and shrugs. "I don't really care about the politics of Tartarus," she says in a bit of a callow tone. "It's Tartarus. It's always going to suck."
Shei hunches over in his chair. The static from his tinnitus blaring into his ears amid the heavy conversation and tranquil office space. Shei sighs "I've changed. My soul has been wrapped inside out. As a smaller kid the feelings I felt on the inside are now my impulses. My quiet, calculating temprance has been transformed into overbearing confidence. I feel everything so much more than I used to and it is extremely difficult to focus. The slightest distraction is such a relief to me. Because in place of stillness there is a constant static invading my senses. It pierces my brain. In the quiet of this room I hear and feel it drawn down on me like millions of years of geological pressure. The night before I consulted with the Bodhidharma. Asking him to train me in methods of self-discipline. Obviously I am in need or more training."
"Without this eye." Shei points to Pupil that he installed into his eye socket when he first emerged from the kindling "And without the guitar Renon gave me, I feel like I would completely phase out from materialness like a blur."
"For what it's worth, I at least believe he won't try to hurt us or anything as long as we fulfill our end of the bargain. At least not directly. What I know about business couldn't fill a small glass, but I figure it looks really bad if you immediately turn on one of your deals.">>759846
"I know! So, that's why I think before we do this tea-party thing, it couldn't hurt to try and figure out if she can be convinced to do it otherwise. Someone with that much power could really make things better here."
"Yeah, but that'd make the tea party like way more suspicious, wouldn't it?"
Voyage nods. "That's all true… hard to say more without the details. And that's exactly what he's keeping from us – details. He wants us to rush right into a signed contract without knowing the full implications. For a demon, that's bad enough. For an Umbral, down here in Tartarus, I'd say it's grounds for us making ourselves scarce. Ecclesia and the Witches sound like they're already involved… small wonder. This sounds right up their alley."
He snorts. "…You know we're going facing those two down some day, right?">>759847
Magatsuhi snaps across Flow's body, a small spark that covets nothing else but to be an inferno, to consume you – and him. You sense the impulse try to launch him at you, hooves grasping for your neck… but he remains inert. He remains in control, barely.
"And why aren't you leaning on us for help – why are you trying to endure it alone… especially when that itself brings the rest of us into danger? Damn it, lad, there is no 'alone' here, there is no solitude or stillness. Our group is all we have in Tartarus."
"…shoot, you might have a point." Shorthorns says on contemplation. "If we approach her beforehoof it WOULD make it look strange… I was hoping we could just try talking to her and then if that didn't work go with the tea-party but, I guess we're gonna have to choose.">>759850
Shorthorns nods. "I agree entirely, I don't want to just go through with putting this Vestal lady to sleep if she can be reasoned with. She at least sounds like she has noble intentions even if she's going about it in a totally bad way. I say the next time Mister Moolah comes in here, we demand he answer any question we have if he wants us to sign."
As Voyage mentions the witches, Shorthorns nods her head. "Yeah, I know. Some day soon, but not today. Not until we make it to the Lake." She pauses, "Hmm… if they're involved in this maybe we can make contact. Do you think the conch-shells work down here?"
The small sample of power, the single spark glits through Shei's senses a for an instant takes him to an oasis of clarity without the static.
He lifts his head, careful not to hit Flow with his horns "You- You have a storm inside you. But you've honed it. The mastery.. Is that what it is? -Flow would you teach me to hone my power?"
Shei is mesmerized by the small spark of magatsuhi Flow displays, he forget to say what he wanted to say "I'm sorry Flow. I feel all I can do is apologize. I haven't seen how I can resolve without my own methods. But please! Proctor me in your martial arts. Show me a way to control this. I'll take any help I can get!"
Cloak responds to Voyage's last note, "No guarantee, we don't know who will end up surviving the trip. No guarantee that there will be any of them or us left by the end."
"I'm sorry, but the godhood might have increased these problems, but they were always there. Remember when everyone was all scared about you using that lantern? You've never been as good at restraining yourself as you think."
"I'm not trying to disagree with you. I just think you don't need to worry as much about this like… changing your existence or something. But, yeah, you could definitely use some self-control."
"Not that I"m judging you, though," Amy laughs. "I mean, look at me.">>759850>>759847
"Flow has a point, though. I mean, I've learned a lot about self control… I know it might not seem that way. But, remember I was a… messed up kid," she says with an uncomfortable chuckle.>>759850
"Maybe we just don't sign anything?" Amy asks with a shrug. "I mean, what do we get out of this aside from the Vestige being off our case? If we want the same thing, no need for promises."
"We didn't test that specifically," Voyage muses. "But I figure it'd work like the Dark Corridor. Better to stick to calling people we know are at the same Anchor. Not across Anchors, and definitely not in the Abyss. Who knows what we'd pick up out there. Take precautions if you're going to try anything here. We agreed we'd meet at this Anchor, but who knows if everyone's finally arrived.">>759854
Voyage looks at you with particular intrigue. "Wasn't expecting you to say that, Ecclesian. I figured one of your jobs would be to keep the rest of us in check. Especially me.">>759853
"Lad!" Flow snaps. "…You've yet to answer my question. I've a third one: These changes… did they overshadow your will? Force you to do what you did?"
"I- I don't know.. It's hard to say. Maybe it's more accurate to put it that I've been removed of all inhibitions." Shei says, not sure himself. Being unable to detect the distinction now that he is what he is.
"We know the Witches have arrived at least, right? If they're involved in all this?" Shorthorns asks Voyage, making sure her logic is sound before tempting a call to see what their thoughts are.>>759855
"I guess that's also an option… if we don't agree to help him, he probably plans to pull it off on his own anyhow which helps us. And if it turns out he needs our help to make it work that means he does things on our terms, not the other way around."
"And what surprises you of what I said, I cannot guarantee that you, I, or anyone among those who passed the gate will survive?"
"Yeah, should be. I don't think they'd leave so soon, not if Ecclesia could do anything about it.">>759860
"Figured you'd be more single-minded, that you'd be dead set on not even entertaining the idea that you'd ever lose," Voyage continues. "Maybe you're more realistic than zealous…?">>759858
Flow sighs. "…All that 'confidence' and that's the answer you land on? That teacher of yours couldn't have led you further astray. Freedom and restraint, discipline and liberty – need one another. They need one another like you and the others need to breathe. If this supposed godhood of yours is really to blame for the loss of inhibition, then you can ease up a little – you aren't as culpable. But if it isn't – the responsibility is entirely yours to bear. As a mortal, and as a would-be god."
He pauses, leveling a stare down at you. "Shei, I will teach you alongside the Bodhidharma. Now you will have the both of us expecting more from you."
He sighs, and rubs his forehead. "…I'm really not one for words, after all. I'm worn out here. Shei… we're the last two that's left of our old group, aren't we. Gabriele, Punishment, Pryce… everyone else we met on that journey, everyone who walked with us. Just you and me from the old guard now. We've got new allies, to be sure… we need to do right by them. Show them why it is that we survived from the world of old."
He scoffs, his slight, melancholic smile a rare sight. He must find it strange to talk so much. "Shei… look, you know me. In the end, I'm simple. Transparent, one might say. I do what I do… seek out good fights, and protect all my allies… from all that would harm them."
His smile fades, and his gaze becomes deadly serious. Full of compassion… and dire warning.
"And that includes you."
Shorthorns nods, moving to sit down as she reaches into her saddle bag, a sharp look of alarm appearing on her face appearing as she does not feel Spark crawling within but quickly replaced by understanding as she recalls how he was left behind. With a calmer but sadder look, she takes the conch out of the saddlebag, "Okay, lemme see if I can reach them. If they're in on this, maybe they already know a little more than we do about the Vestal too."
With that, she puts the conch to her ears, trying to reach out to mudi and Vizsla
Leather chuckles, "Equally so, my zealousy manifests in patience, so why would I plan around only one of many outcomes. I care not if I 'lose', only that any one of the groups 'wins'. My zeal is based equally paternal duty as it is religion."
Shei nods, and continues nodding. He begins to nod in an exaggerated fashion, swinging his horns at this point and then stops at once "Right! Yes. Okay- I'm okay. I have a will. I have one Flow. -And I realize the importance you're placing on the balance duality brings, but I think I'll try a more passive role to minimize anymore fuck ups on my part."
Shei sighs again "Can we join the others now Flow? I hate heavy handed discussions like these."
Almost immediately, a terrified, high-pitched earthquake answers you.
"Aaah! M-m-m-m-m-m-m-moshi mosh–" Supper begins, before a sharp clattering damages your ear, followed by Supper's dismayed, now distant shrieking. "I'm sorrrrrryyyyy… it just slipped out of my hoof!"
Eventually, a different voice answers.
"Alright, alright, relax, I'll talk, chill out," Desert says. "Short Stack, what's up?">>759865
Voyage snorts. "Is that so."
You sense he was trying to test you more than anything else. Waiting on Mister Moolah, and then Flow and Shei, to hear the final words on a plan he thinks is a bad idea, probably has him anxious.
Still… a high member of the heresiarch's cultus of Buiwong, he must have his doubts about you… how that's going to affect movement through Tartarus is anyone's guess.>>759866
"Already off to a bad start," Flow grunts, getting up from the chair, as you rejoin the others.
"Oooh Crow-ley save me." Shei says, embarrassed of himself for having Amy overhear this conversation. He hides his face with a hoof to underscore the shame.
He speaks up after Amy says her piece.
"But I've made so much progress since then and now- eh.. It doesn't matter. You're right. And I hate blaming my new divinity. This is who I am without inhibitions. This is me. So please just forget you heard any of my confession and assume I'm simply an asshole. I'm working on it though. I promise I won't be such an asshole in the near future."
"You're not an ass, you're a goat," Amy says as she gives Shei a hug. >>759869
Amy (and presumably Shei) return to the conversation with everyone else.
"And the hoof that casts the stone?" Leather asks inquisitively, " It is good practice to ablution of our misconceptions, especially when among greater threats. Do you believe in a greater good?"
Shorthorns looks distracted at the nickname, a light scowl appearing on her muzzle for the briefest of moments before she has to remind herself she's grown up over being so insecure about her size. "Hey, glad to hear these are working down here too! I was trying to reach M… one of the witches," she says, remembering the rule about names in Tartarus. "Are any of them there with you, we had a question about Belphecorp."
Amy manages to evoke a chuckle from Shei as he tries to scoff at the terrible joke she made. Shei returns her hug by wrapping one arm around her. He rises out of the chair to return with her back to the rest of the party's conversation.
"I believe in the good of my people, and whatever else I make happen with my own two hooves and two horns," Great Voyage replies with pagan pride. "That's all we're owed in this life.">>759940>>759944>>759941>>759942
"Yeah… hang on," Desert says, before falling silent. Some shuffling can be heard, followed by Mudi's voice.
"It's you," Mudi says. "So, you've made it to the Port. We aren't waiting on any more, then… what's your question?"
Flow and Voyage look around at the many dimmed pictures on the walls.
"If he covered them with shadows before naming the Vestal, these walls – or rather, these frames – might have ears," Flow observes. "They all still look dark to me. Should be alright to talk, lass."
"Aren't waiting on anymore… you mean we're the last ones to make it here?!" Shorthorns exclaims, reaching up to rub her head. "Ooof, that's kind of embarrassing…"
She regains her focus. "We're at Belphecorp where they're discussing a deal for us to help deal with this lady called 'the Vestal'. They mentioned you might be involved already and wanted to see what you thought of it so far."
"Not really embarrassing," Amy comments. "Tartarus doesn't make any sense. You shouldn't expect to be able to get anywhere."
"Well my children were not created with hoof no horn, but other than that the sentiment remains in myself as well." Leather grins.
"The sisters? You're still here. I wagered you left us in your wake by now." Shei greets the witches as they greet us.
When Flaming remarks the savior's late arrival being embarassing Shei admits "No, you can pin the blame on me. I got overzealous about procuring resources and fell for a scam. Seems I'm not all that cut out for Tartarus, rather can't say there was ever a time I needed street smarts." Shei shares congenial conversation with the witches.
Shei-Sher goes on to mention "That said, I think? We are in the midst of detailing a contract. A little rude to barge in like that isn't it?"
"I mean, they were created with a horn in a way," Amy says with a snicker.>>759951
"What are we even getting out of this, anyway?"
reamking most of that post, because I thought the witches were in the same room.>Edit:
When Flaming remarks the savior's late arrival being embarassing Shei admits in the background of the conversation "My bad." he sighs "And I wanted to get here first. They've likely left us in their wake by now.">>759950>>759946
Shei ambles toward Leather and Voyage "I've returned- what seems to be the prevailing decision here?"
"Our personal convictions and their coexistence." Leather shrugs.
Shei touches his fore head "At this point we don't get much out of any deal we make. Because we weren't here first to set prevailing terms. But he lose a lot more by not making the deal. Now that the Sister Witches and Ecclessia have made their contract they will no doubt be aided by Belphecorp navigation. If we do not set a contract with Belphecorp we will have to find another edge against our rivals whom are already ahead of us. I think it goes without saying, we want to be the first ones to reach the lake before everyone else.">>759955
"Huh- how quaint.'
Voyage ignores Amy, instead sizing up Leather in light of his response. "Is this one of those 'we're not so different, you and I' kinds of situations, then?">>759947>>759948>>759950>>759951>>759952>>759954
"It seems… like a pretty good idea to me," Mudi says. "Not being able to defend ourselves won't be a viable situation, no matter what or who are are fighting. We're going to be gathering an ingredient… though, if you haven't already signed onto the deal, I'm afraid I can't say much more than that. What about you all – you seem like you'd be on board pretty quickly, right? I would wager… you'd want to talk to her, wouldn't you?"
"That's cliche, I prefer a 'we've been been brought together by abnormal circumstance so it's best not to live in paranoia towards each other in a realm where those passive perceptions towards others possibly can twist reality'."
"We have rivals?" Amy asks, cocking her head.>>759957
"Yeah, I just want to get the Vestal out of our way. But, so does he. That doesn't really need a contract, does it?"
"Ah, it can't be all you, that didn't eat up THAT much time. I think they would have beaten us here either way, they must have found a faster route. Hope that doesn't happen too much.">>759957
"We have our concerns. I'm kind of interested in seeing what the Vestal is like before taking part in this plan, and in general we feel wary about signing on to something permanently with them, they're not the sort we're quick to trust."
"…I don't suppose there's ANY way I might convince you to just tell us something about it we may not know yet? What kind of ingredients is he going after?"
I will let this post be my response for this post >>759957
In addition Shei peeks his head toward the conch to ask "Mudi? Did you get to try the wine I made? How did you like it?"
Your verbose slew of ten-bit words (or perhaps ten-bone words) seems to have intimidated him, though the only visual indication he permits you is a rather annoyed twitching of his dark, bagged eyes. "…Fair enough."
He looks down at the conch, eager to drop the subject.>>759960>>759961>>759962
Mudi takes a while before responding, doubtlessly weighing how to phrase certain things.
"I suppose it's not impossible that we
could have joined along without signing a Contract. However, we didn't try particularly hard on that front – someone here was very eager to explore how Contracts work with Umbrals."
She conspicuously omits any names. Perhaps she meant Vizsla or Supper… but when Shei says her name over the line, she goes completely silent.
Shei needs to roll DC 9 endurance.
"Well.. yes." Shei feels like an adult about explain politics to a child. "The Ecclessians for one, by gosh I love them all but we must beat them for the sake of our world. Since Metatron's designation for the world and the goals of Ecclessia fit into one piece, and seeing that what Metatron desires for this world is to steal all the good bits and let the damned fall into dissolution which theoretically would mean our world will sink into Tartarus some day. So yes- we have a rivalry with Ecclessia, I imagine it's why Leather and Cloak are butting heads at the moment."
[1d10+1] rollingRoll #1 1 + 1 = 2
edit that to
Leather and Voyage are butting heads at the moment."
"Are you guys in the empty space right now?" Amy asks Mudi with concern.
You can feel someone's hoof settling upon the muscles
of your shoulders, bypassing armor, fur, and flesh. The touch is feather-light, but terribly, terribly cold – and arced so as to grab and pull
with no notice.
"Hmmm… maybe we should try to convince him to let us work like that too, no contract. That way we're not indebted to anyone, and we can probably still convince them to help us find a way to the lake as long as we do our part. When Moolah comes back in, I'm up for trying to get him to agree to that."
The feeling notices Shei immediately of how he just screwed, he immediately "Sorry! It's going to take me forever to get used to that. Nevermind I said anything." Shei exits himself from that conversation.
"More the assumption that I have loyalties in this specific circumstance that aren't more than insuring the group with the greatest chance of success by time we make it our intended destination actually succeeds. The only thing that I cannot allow is all groups failing in their endeavors."
"I often forget you're a mercenary. But you are among Ecclessia's ranks. You can't chide me for assuming the obvious."
"I'm… having a little bit of a crisis of identity here," Amy says, sounding uncharacteristically verbose.
Shei comforts Amy by petting her head, as he's unsure how to treat the situation. "Well.. could you stop having one? Because that would make two mentally unstable party members." Shei says referring to himself as the other mentally unstable member.
"It is rather muddled, given that the organization I was operating in at the time of the end of the world became one of the cornerstones of the Ecclessia you now know today. But you are not wrong, I am a man of faith as much as I am an assassin, they are intertwined." Leather looks to Shei directly, "If by time we are at the end of our journey and if this party has been reduced to empty shells, then I will do what is needed to ensure that I did not go through hell and back for nothing."
Amy laughs. "Honestly, that could be the best idea. It's… kinda complicated. And, Amy doesn't do complicated."
Much like Voyage did, Mudi ignores what Amy asks. Rude. But also, practical, considering the hesitance toward using the Conch in the first place…
"I said that 'we' could have joined without signing a Contract. As for our collaborators…
Sadly, I don't know enough about them to judge whether they could have avoided a Contract, or not. Over the five days of preparation, they deftly evaded our… attempts
to get to know them better."
Scrying, spying, all other kinds of magical detective work, she means.
"I don't know if you're capable of negotiating out of a Contract, to be blunt," she continues. "These Umbrals are of a higher caliber than most demons. In the worst case, we could have forced his will. Unless you can really wheel and deal, as fast as you can, he might get impatient, and throw you out… I guess if I were to give you advice, you'd better overwhelm him right from the start."
"Overwhelm him… you mean, try to make him panic? So much so he'd negotiate on OUR terms like, if we threatened to walk out right now if he didn't let us work with him contract free? I'm not very good with negotiations, I don't come from a very diplomatic tribe of the buffalo."
"Hmm. If the contract really does end up being that bad, then it'll be bad for everyone who took it. So, we'd ALL have to do something about it. I'm sure we ALL could do something about a problem like that together."
"That's fair enough- I don't see why you're arguing with the man." Shei says to Voyage.>>759979>>759981
In the background Shei comments to his party "I Believe I have an idea of what they did for their deal. But it isn't at all desirable. I'll save it for when you're done with the call. It's hard to talk without speaking names."
"No arguments, just warranted distrust. Can't say most people would like a hitman that pontificates. Only thing that would be worse I went for limbs and then forced people to listen to a monologue before they died.">>759979
"I'm no stranger to contract work, so I am not uncomfortable as long as everyone here is satisfied."
"Shei, do you want to be served to the Dragon with barbecue sauce or ranch?" Voyage counters.
"Depends how you're going to cook him," Flow deadpans.
"The Dragon prefers to do his own cooking," Voyage says. "I usually just make the sauce.">>759981>>759982>>759983>>759985
"I'm sure you'll figure something out," Mudi says. "And if not, I wouldn't recommend trying to come along without the knowledge he provided us per the Contract. I can only say – the way you usually do things won't be sufficient this time around. Now, we're due for lunch. Join us, if you have the time. Hopefully, I will see you again."
With that, she hangs up.
"Well, Shei says I should go simple. So, I'm going simple," Amy announces. "I say we just get whatever deal the others got. That way, if it ends up being bad, it's bad for all of us and we can work together to fix it."
Leather nods to Amy, "Works for me."
Shorthorns contemplates things for a moment, thinking over all the potential implications of signing on for the contract, but ultimately nods in agreement to Amy's logic.
"I think I agree with that. If it's bad for us, it's bad for everyone else too so there's no disadvantage either way, and then that's a reason for us to work together if it does. I say we go for it and see what comes our way, we have to be straight forward as possible in Tartarus."
"Could I at least recommend a recipe from home?" Shei inquires gingerly towards Voyage's counter.>>759986>>759985>>759981>>759982
After the conch hangs up Shei explains what he clued in on.
"I believe Supper frontlined negotiations for them and only contracted herself, or Mudi was the only one contracted to belphecorp. And then everyone else was subcontracted to the person contracted to belphecorp. Which is quite clever as you could use a lot of legal language to simply say the contract has to have their subcontracters follow their orders. There's a lot of leeway in that considering only the primary contract is beholden to belphecorp's orders. But the subcontractors do not necessarily have to follow belphecorp's rules, just the primary contractor's rules. That said this also comes with a terrifyingly large responsibility placed upon the primary contractor as they have to not only please belphecorp but also wrangle in their subcontractors. With two obligations to satisfy failing to balance them could mean their head, while the subcontractors would be allowed to roam scott free. Something like this would work for the witches. As they are one unit, mentally, spiritually, in their objectives and culture. While our group is highly diverse. In fact.. that's likely how they traveled through the void quicker than us."
"What makes you think that's what they did?" Amy asks, cocking her head.
"Mudi kept saying they could have joined with a contract and that it's not entirely impossible they joined without signing a contract, but they're collaborators absolutely did. Why be so cockshy about whether they signed or not. Why not use absolute terms about their status as contractors. I would guess it's because they signed a confidentiality agreement clause. Meaning they can't talk about the details of their contract. But she did allude enough to the idea that they are contracted but also not contracted."
Shorthorns gasps. "Ooooh…. I'm, not sure I get it ENTIRELY, most of that mumbo jumbo just went over my head but, if I got the important part right, you mean only one of us need to sign a contract, and the rest of us just work for that person, right?"
Flow, glancing out one of the curtain-covered windows of Mister Moolah's office, beckons for you to hurry up this pre-game battle planning. "He's coming in hot. Must be energized by whatever he's got in that mug…"
"Seems like the best of both worlds, especially if that's what the others are doing. One person signs, and then that means the others aren't on such a tight yoke."
"Yeah, I think you're overthinking what she was saying. I'm pretty sure the other people she was talking about were the Ecclesians, not other people in her group."
"She definitely sounded like she was in a contract to me."
"Make it simple, it was good advice. If we're stuck in the same contract as everyone else, then we have the same goals AND the same problems."
*"the same problems to work out together."
"Shit- yeah. I think I was overthinking it."
"I reiterate my previous statement only to further progress this conversation."
Without warning, MISTER MOOLAH flings open the door and slides in, all in one smooth motion. Inexplicably, from somewhere above, laughter, cheers and applause can be heard as he stops for a sip of his – is that coffee? Smells rather sulfuric, yet caffeinated…
"Alright, PEOPLE!" MISTER MOOLAH declares, gingerly shutting the door behind him. "Are you ready to MAKE a DEAL? If not, get THE FUCK OUT!"
Shei-Sher is stunned by the sudden explicative shouting. He waits on Amy to speak for the group.
"You've got other people on this job already, right? We want the same deal you gave them, please," Amy says with a smile.
Leather remains as he has been, following the group consensus.
Shorthorns jumps with surprise as Mr. Moolah quite so suddenly enters the door, turning her head towards him as he slides in through the door.
As he demands them to make a deal or to get out, Shorthorns narrows her gaze, snorting before stating, "We have come to a collective decision, MISTAH MOOLAH." She says, before looking towards the others for confirmation to take the deal.
Shorthorns nods at Amy, "Right, exactly what she said. The same deal." She repeats for added emphasis, surely helpful in any negotiations.
MISTER MOOLAH's jaw falls to the ground – completely, having dropped straight off of his face. Piece by piece, the rest of his face follows. However, his body, apparently controlled by the huge pompadour, walks over to the desk and starts searching through the drawers. Piece by piece, his face gets up and hops over to climb back up to its body.
"WELL! Took you long enough to reach a REASONABLE decision! I'm quite happy to hear it, don't get me wrong," he says, flipping six sheets of papyrus out onto the table. The pages are practically black, every inch of them covered with infinitesimally tiny font. The only clear thing there is the dotted line at the very bottom.
He sets out six pens with the sheets. "Whenever you're ready, which I hope is going to be now."
Flow and Voyage glare deadpan at the sheets, then slide their suspicious glares over to you four.
Leather raises an eyebrow, amused by the literal jaw drop, "Do you gamble, MISTER MOOLAH?"
Amy can't help but giggle at the silly display Mister Moolah gives.
Then, when he takes the paper out, Amy looks at it with an annoyed expression, remember only now that she can't read. "I sure hope this is ACTUALLY the same deal," she comments to no one in particular.
>Vestigial Sunlight: Recharge 1; Spell; Roll to hear insight, whispers of guidance and fleeting thoughts from those who have come before you in similar situations. Roll number determines the quality of advice.
Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
Shorthorns looks over the papyrus as she tries to read the print on display, only to remember she can't read as she sighs and takes up the paper.
"Before I sign, I just want you to tell me straight: is there ANY kind of catch or something I should know about before I put my name on this? I'm just want to know if there's anything I should avoid BEFORE I get caught doing it."
"That's quite an eerily familiar glare you're giving us." Shei macabre-ly jokes. He holds the sheets of paper in hoof. "Suppose an ounce of wisdom in this case would be to actually read the contract."
Shei-Sher, closes his left eye while leaving the right one open. Pupil vacillates a gold rainbow of colors as it scans the document for anything particularly undesirable for the group.
>APPRAISE: instant; Determine the number of remaining hits and wounds on an enemy, and possibly weaknesses. More powerful enemies may be harder to Appraise. Out of combat, quickly determine value of objects, study mechanisms and documents, size up other ponies, etc.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
"Only when I get to be the HOUSE, of course!" MISTER MOOLAH says. >>760120>>760118
"It's all laid out there quite plainly in the contract," MISTER MOOLAH says to Shorthorned, waving his six hands dismissively.
Oh it is, as Shei can see. Most of the contract's thousands upon thousands of words is dense legalese that, though written in Equish, requires multiple levels of translation to be of any use to a regular person who hasn't sold body mind and soul to the writing of such contracts. Most of the complete bunk that makes up the contract is merchandising rights. This guy would be able to put your names and images on just about anything that can be sold, including: Body doubles, replica organs, novelty swirly straw cups, and other objects far too kitschy to describe in good conscience.
However, the stuff that really matters, Shei pinpoints:
>1. You must follow MISTER MOOLAH's instructions for dealing with the Vestal to the letter, except in cases where modifying the details of those instructions serves the interest of disabling the Vestal better than the original instructions. >2. The modifications mentioned in the aforementioned rule are subject to MISTER MOOLAH's approval.>3. You cannot share the details of this plan, or of any information about the Vestal shared as a consequence of signing this Contract, with anyone who has not also signed the Contract.>4. Violations of this Contract are punished with a loss of all memories relating to the Vestal, consented to by signing this Contract.>>760117
As you observe the papyrus… you feel a strange vertigo, a rather peculiar dizziness… reminiscent of the last unpleasant sludge of a hangover dissolving from your head and spine… your soon vision clears, but it's like you're seeing double. Another papyrus is adjacent to the one MISTER MOOLAH gave you, only this one has far fewer lines. On the first sheet of papyrus, a golden ink has stricken through well over half of the ink written there.
>"Teeeeeeeechnically, that is the 'same deal' he 'gave' Ecclesia and the sisters and their… I guess they're not really friends, considering what Booeywong told us. But the one on the right is the one that they negotiated them down to. He's telling the truth, but deceptively. Just scratch along the paper there in gold to cross out that other stuff. Oh, and note that number… 4? Is that a 4? Well anyway, the last one – they crossed that one out too. Mystery Money is gonna insist that you keep that one, but it's a bluff. He'll let it go eventually, to make you feel like you've got one over on him. Keep an eye on him…"
Without saying a word, Amy grabs a pen and follows the golden lines, crossing out words and writing in new ones. She has no idea what she's writing, but she knows it will make the deal match exactly.
"Fixed it," she declares with a nod once she is done.
"You made a few mistakes, I fixed them for you, though," Amy says with a smile to MISTER MOOLAH.
"That's a shame, you've got a killer poker face."
Shei begin plays tune a on his guitar. Using his affinity for light every note and in every dimension it interacts with the short tune he plays communicates a message. Transferring his knowledge of the contract to the rest of the party.
[1d10+1] to transfer Shei's knowledge of the contract to the rest of the group.>>760121
Shei Addresses Mister Moolah "There's just one problem. I haven't read anything in this contract in regards to our compensation." Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't see a part where we get paid.Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3
Shorthorns listens as Shei pinpoints out all the legalese and simplifies it for her, tapping her chin as she thinks over all the terms carefully in her head for almost an entire minute!
"Hmmm… if I think about this any harder my head feels like it might blow up. I guess that all seems okay." She's seconds away from signing before Amy uses the pen and crosses out the 4th term specifically, blinking in surprise as she looks at the altered terms.
"Um, is that okay?" She says asking about the changes. "Cause if so, I'm ready to sign it." She says, awaiting MOOLAH's official 'okay' before putting down her hoof-print
reroll [1d10+1]Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
MISTER MOOLAH scoffs. "I'm sure you can't read it, so why don't you read the Contract instead?">>760123
You did that… why, exactly?
>"…and the sisters and…along the paper… anyway, the last… Keep…"
You blink, and look about for something that should be there. Something extra, that was not there before… and isn't there now. Just the one Contract, one you've greatly modified. You can't remember why you just did all of that, those specific redactions and additions… you just know it was a good idea.>>760127>>760128>>760125>>760124>>760129
MISTER… Moolah's… irrepressible smile… tweaks
a little at the corners, bending down until his mouth is a pecular squiggle, caught between both extremes of mania and contempt. "Ah… a negotiator, I see."
He reads over Amy's proposed corrections… a flame suddenly alights on his fingertips, and he swipes them across where Amy removed stipulation #4. "Looks like I'm not the only one. That one is not up for debate. For your safety, as well as Heaven's.">>760128
"Right you are," Mister Moolah says. He whips out another sheet from the desk. "That document deals with your agreements to me as my subcontractors. This one deals with your payment."
He thrusts it toward you as if it were a dagger. "Here, for your consideration."
Shorthorns looks as Moolah's flame highlights over Stipulation #4, frowning as he insists that one is not up for debate before looking back at Amy, seeing if she has an answer to his refusal to keep going or to let it slide.>>760130
As he offers the paper with payment, Shorthorns looks at it with a surprised look. "Payment? I thought our payment was getting the curse off our backs, but if there's more…" she says, taking a moment to look at the paper. She suddenly frowns, giving a grumpy, frustrated look up at Moolah. "I still can't read. Can you tell me what it says please?"
"Oh, why thank you my good sir. I do like money." Shei-Sher goes over this one as well
Again Shei's Pupil shimmers golden with an array of rainbow colors.
[1d10+1] What's our pay?>>760128>>760125>>760124
as a note Shei's roll made it so you have a full knowledge of the contract's contents.Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
"Pweeease?" is all Amy says to Mister Moolah in a cutesie voice with big puppy-dog eyes.
>Mantra of Equality: Recharge 2; Instant; Soothes a hostile target, making them more likely to listen to what you have to say, and unable to target you next turn.>[1d10+4] DC-4Roll #1 1 + 4 = 5
And Shei-Sher play's another track on his guitar to communicate to the group what he just read.
[1d10+1] Transferring knowledge of contract to the party.Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4
"You, MISTER MOOLAH, are asking someone to actually read the fine print?" Leather responds incredulously.
"NO," Mister Moolah suddenly barks at Amy, standing up so tall that his pompadour grazes – no, jabs through, the ceiling.
"I am here to talk business, not bullshit," Mister Moolah continues, leaning in with his head twisting at an alarming angle. "And my assumption is that if you have made it into my office, you are here to do the same, and if you CANNOT read the fine print, you are here to bullshit, you are bullshit, you're scheduled to leave my office on the next trash pickup night. Understand?"
Shei, glancing at the fine print, sees that you will be paid 300 Bones for the first ingredient retrieved, 500 for the second ingredient retrieved, and 2,000 for the successful completion of Operation Teacup.
Flow's hoof has drawn alarmingly close to his swords, and Voyage's muscles and veins bulge, ready to stomp.
Shorthorns steps back quickly as he explodes at them, her ears drooping as he seems ready to completely cut the deal if they push any harder on trying to cut the stipulation.
"Amy, are you sure we can't go without that one? He doesn't seem like he's willing to part with it…"
Unable to stand by as someone threatens to fleece his girlfriend shei's body erupts into a spasm of impossible contortions and expansions.
>-Jhana of Malleable Flesh: Spell, Recharge 2(minus 1): You can escape from any physical binding or grapple by moving yourself freely through space in a radius of three meters in any direction. During this time, you are considered intangible for the purposes of moving through physical obstructions, unless said obstruction is larger than your three meter radius. This ability naturally has DC - 2 and stacks with other bonuses.
>Passive: You can contort your body into any shape with ease; this reduces the DC of Helplessness Recovery by 1
Jumping to ahead of Amy to meet Mister Moolah's gaze "It takes a MASTER! BUll ShItter to be a BIG SHOT Mister Moolah! And we intend to get there!" Shei's cape spills down to the floor like a bubbling puddle of feathers, his legs twist and elongate rooting up to his torso which curls up for Shei glance his EVIL EYE at Mister Moolah, shining with its golden brillance.
[1d10+1] If one of these crit it procs Evil Eye on Mister Moolah
>(RACIAL)Evil Eye: passive; You come from a culture that’s mysterious, quiet and perhaps even sinister. Few understand you and some may even be unnerved by your odd appearance. If you score a natural Crit against an enemy in combat, they are paralyzed with fear and cannot take any action in its next turn. When a target is paralyzed by Evil Eye, you cannot proc Evil Eye on them again.
"And in addition to our payment we want to lease Belphecorp's navigation system for the duration of our stay in Tartarus."Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
/ Roll #2 1 + 1 = 2
"I'm sorry I'm having such a hard time understanding, it's just like you're said, your desires and motivations are just so hard to read." Leather frowns.
Amy drops the cutesy facade, paying no attention to Flaming.
"Alright, fine. You wanna talk bullshit? I asked for the same deal the other people got. You gave us the same deal you offered them BEFORE the negotiations finished. Haha. Real funny, jackass," she says with vitriol in her sarcasm. "If we're done pulling each other's legs, then let's just skip to the part where we get the actual deal we asked for."
>regular social roll>[1d10] DC-4Roll #1 4 = 4
"You got the same deal they did," Mister Moolah growls back. "And they negotiated, because they weren't bullshit. They were here for business. What're you whining about? You come here looking for fair play? An honest night's work? Did you!? This is Tartarus, baby, we're up here in Heaven! You should count yourself blessed we're even hashing this all out with words! Two or three Layers down we'd be smearing each other red and pink all over the walls! Lust, Gluttony, Greed – cry like that down there and you're gone before you can even finish mouthing off!"
He relaxes, and leans back, slicking his pompadour back into place. "Besides – you already worked out the deal those other two groups got. What's the problem? You were doing just fine until now! This your first time or something? If it's that important to you, fine: We'll leave off stipulation number four. Will that make it okay? Will that make it all better for you? Or you gonna keep crying?"
Shorthorns growls, sticking her hooves up on Moolah's very expensive desk. "You want us to cut the bullshit?! We'll cut the bullshit the second we get the exact same deal the others got! Do that, and I swear on my clan I'll sign the dotted line right now."
As he seems to relent on letting off No. 4, she snorts out of her nostrils. "Good. Then we have a deal." As soon as the fourth stipulation is officially crossed off the agreement, Shorthorns makes ready to sign by dipping her hoof in some ink, ready to press on the papyrus.
Shei's body unravels, his cloak whipping up to him as it flourishes around him mid transformation. Shei returns standing again, normal bodied, with the payments contract in hoof. He fixes some semi-circle glasses onto his face "I would like to cry a little more. The navigation system..? -But it doesn't have to be so one sided Mister Moolah. Go on, ask us a favor Mister Moolah. Anything you would like us to pick up for you on our way. Some Jibyan take out maybe?"
bargaining for use of the belphe corp navigation.Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 10 = 10
Leather chuckles, "Well fair play has to be on the table up until the Vestal is dealt with, by their own design. The difference between Heaven and the other Layers is her
. Ideally, this should be the fair play to end all fair play in Heaven, right?"
Tears start welling up in Amy's eyes as Mister Moolah yells at him. "Wh-why are you so mean to me?" she asks as tears roll down her cheeks. "I liked you better when you were all smiley," she whines.
She then proceeds to make the loudest wailing sounds she can produce. Loud enough that they could potentially make it out of this room and disrupt business.
>[1d10] for annoying crying>DC-4 if this counts as a social rollRoll #1 2 = 2
Voyage tries to keep a brave face as Amy starts sobbing. He starts to grind his hoof against the ground… then he shakes his horns about… his eyes twitch…
"Amy… forgive me," he intones. He picks her up, deposits her in the conference room, and comes back.
An awkward silence settles in the office room, until Shei attempts a more sugary bargain.
Mister Moolah's eyebrow practically launches into the ceiling. "…Mochi."
"Pardon?" Flow deadpans.
"For some mochi, I can guarantee you the aid of Belphecorp's navigational methodologies," Mister Moolah says.
"Hey!" Amy objects as she is moved against her will. But, she doesn't fight it. She merely pouts in the conference room, her arms crossed.
Shorthorns likewise can barely see to see Amy crying. Shorthorns tears are directly proportional to those shed by her sister, and it takes the will of the ancestors to keep her from bawling alongside her as she is yelled at.
When Voyage takes her from the room, Shorthorns lets out a sigh of relief, reaching up to nudge her forehead against his shoulder. "T-thanks, Voyage. I know she was just trying to butter up Moolah but I can't stand to see Amy cry either."
As Moolah seems to sweeten the deal in return for something, she turns her head in confusion. "Mochi? What's Mochi?"
"I thought that was a way eastern kirin greeted each other. Mochi mochi or something like that."
"Soo…. he's asking for an eastern greeting? That doesn't seem like a lot to ask for but, okay."
She turns to Moolah and clears her throat, then with a wide smile says, "Mochi mochi!"
Shei takes the glasses only to conjure up an apron and sushi chef hat "Aaaah I see. A man of culture. It just so happens I have an replenishing supply of grains.
Shei-Sher takes off his cape, whiping it flat in the air and laying it on the ground like a tarp. He reaches a hoof into it and pulls out a bag of candies he fleeced from the Ecclessian "For the sugar." Shei then opens his fridge again this time retrieving a bag of rice. He duplicates it's contents, pouring them onto the cape laid on the ground.
Shei-Sher taps his cape with a hoof and the fabric stirs up to become hard like steel and form the shape of a cauldron containing the rice. "One moment." Shei zips right out of the office to grab the 10 gallon tank from the water color. With gusto Shei arrives back into the office with the water tank and pours it into his cape made cauldron.
With a staff in hand he stirs the cauldron and which magically heats to Shei's preference. Shei leans his head low and with the ridges of his horn he brushes the candies against it to grate sugar into the cauldron. And he mixes.
"And for the finale!" Shei-Sher slings his guitar in hoof and begins playing a resounding song.
>I Dream of Alchemy+2: Instant
The result: The cauldron ties itself shut, sealing away it's contents. And in a moment it inflates like a ballon rising into the air. And at the climax of Shei's song it blimps up and explodes into dozenss of balls of mochi.Roll #1 9 + 3 = 12
/ Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10
Somehow, somewhere, you can sense that Supper is nervously, but fervently, correcting your very mild and inconsequential error.>>760152>>760153>>760155>>760156>>760158
"Graaaaaaaaaaaaagh!" MISTER MOOLAH snaps again. "MoCHI! Not MoSHI! They're written with completely different Jibayini characters! Clearly I'm the only Umbral around here with half-decent cultural awareness!"
With rapt attention, Mister Moolah – and Sir Flow – watch as Shei brews up authentic Jibayini-style mochi. Flow's eyes narrow at the thought of Mister Moolah getting this all to himself.
Then, what at last the grand finale lands, Mister Moolah gingerly takes one, sniffs it, pops it into his mouth – and eyeballs explode out from behind his golden sunglasses. Said eyeballs recede quickly, and the golden shades repair themselves.
MISTER MOOLAH leans in, with a little wiggle and a smirk. "Fillies and gentlecolts, I do hope you will accept my HEARTFELT apologies for my earlier… tone. I was what you might call… a bit HANGRY. I certainly hope this will not sour our deal."
He pushes the pens and contracts to you as a reminder – this is
the deal the Witches and Ecclesians got, after all.
"Ahahaah! Rejoice! Wizard of life, conjuror of sweet appetites, Alchemist gooourmand." Shei resounds at his spectacular finish, clearly having a bit of fun with it.
As Shei-Sher ambles forward to Mister Moolah's desk he dips am arm into his cape and retrieves a bottle of wine from the wine cellar in his cape. He seats the bottle of wine on Mister Moolah's desk "On the house, I do enjoy when people compliment my cooking. Please update the contract post-haste. I will sign. No dilly dallying, and we may kindly fuck off."
"Is that poisoned?" Mister Moolah suddenly asks.
As Moolah snaps at them about the pronunciation, Shorthorns recoils in shock. "Well, sorry! They sound exactly the same!"
However, as Shei manages to finish cooking up a massive collection of mochi-balls, Shorthorns looks on in amazement as a single one seems to change Moolah's mood in an instant. Looking at how improved his attitude is, Shorthorns smiles at him, "Uh… no, don't worry about it. I can get like that too. I think I'd be happy to sign it now… right after I try one of these things."
She says as she strolls up to the mochi-balls, picking up one in her hoof as she sticks her hoof in one, then looking on in confusion as it seems to adhere right to it. "Ew, it's sticky…" She says with a quick shake of her hoof trying to see if it comes off, before shrugging and biting into it, pulling it away from her hoof as the mochi stretches the entire length of her limb. "Oooh, mmph sttrmphtchy!" She says with a bit of mochi in her mouth.
Without saying a word, Amy reenters the room, gets some ink on her hoof-paw and then dramatically slaps it down on where she is supposed to put her signature.
"In the mortal realm, we do enjoy the sport of shortening our lifespan by imbibing flameable poisons. This one is of my own make, an excellent vintage. If you like I could make it extra deadly?"
Shorthorns calls Amy over, her mouth full of the sticky white mochi-sweets. "MMphy!" She says, offering her a mochi-ball. "Trmmh thmmphs."
"Short shorts, come now. You eat with your mouth full at the country barn hooten-nanny, but in the office space it's improper."
"I didn't go to school, I'm a poor unfortunate soul that resorted to a life of crime; my cultural awareness is to be pitied not made fun of."
Just as everyone starts to sign.
Just as Mister Moolah is about to accept Shei's offer for a stronger poison.
Shorthorned takes one of Mister Moolah's mochi.
His head snaps in her direction. Bones can be heard cracking underneath.
His neck snaps at a 90 degree angle. His expression is unchanged.
Shorthorns continues chewing happily on her sugary, chewing, sticking mochi, letting it stretch to all corners of her mouth as she munches on it like a giant marshmallow. "MMMmmmmmh…. mmhph c'mph, Shmmph."
However, her ears prick down as she hears the blood-curdling *snap* of Mister Moolah's neck, poised in her direction. She looks up at him, a suddenly sheepish look on her face as she silently chews on the mochi, looking up at him with confusion as though she was completely unaware she'd done something wrong.
She just keeps. Slowly, awkwardly, chewing on her mochi.
"N-no…" Amy says awkwardly as her eyes flit between Flaming and Mister Moolah.
All of you involuntarily stumble, heads briefly swimming (though in a different fashion than what Amy experienced earlier)… when things clear up again, you find that the office suddenly feels much smaller…
…Or perhaps Moolah was a larger Umbral than any of you had thought from him sitting down.
For now– it seems like he's taking up all the space in the room. All of you are huddled together, and his face stretches from floor to ceiling, wearing one contemptuous, beleaguered, "I-can't-fucking-believe-these-people," type gritted-teeth smirk.
"…Enjoying my mochi there, Ribeye?" he asks Shorthorned.
Shorthorns looks up at Moolah as she continues chewing the piece of Mochi she took to try, moving the sticky sweet inside of her mouth from one side to the other.
She has a wide eyed look like the sight of a cow in front of an oncoming car. She says simply, unsure if this is the answer he wants to hear. "….ish shreally goodph, yeshm." She says simply, hoping the CEO isn't THAT torn up over one piece of mochi
Shei-Sher begins preparing the wine to become absolutely toxic. In hopes a stout drink will pacify Mister Moolah
Alchemy+2 [1d10+3] Make the wine extra deadlyRoll #1 10 + 3 = 13
"Shortyhorns, you should know better than to eat other people's food without permission! Imagine if you ate MY food!" she says, scandalized.
"But," she says, looking to MISTER MOOLAH. "Mystery Money, Shei can make more if you want it. Nothing was really wasted."
"Mmph… butmph itmh wasmphnt hisph foodmph, Sheimph madeph itph!" She protests through the stick mochi
MISTER MOOLAH suddenly stands up, becoming even impossibly taller, his physique throwing all physics out of the window. He snatches up the wine bottle that Shei has offered him, as if to smash Shorthorned to a pulp with it.
Flow slides forward, his hoof a millimeter from the handle of a katana–
Voyage rears up, his hooves burning like magma, ready to stomp the floor straight through–
But Mister Moolah suddenly sniffs the air, and glances at the wine bottle again. Faster even than Flow's iaijutsu,
than Voyage's stomp, Moolah pops the cork out and has a sip.
Flow and Voyage, meanwhile, hold position, and awkwardly make eye contact.
"Pwoooooooooooooooooooooo-wee!" Mister Moolah gasps. "That's…! A strong six-point-five, maybe a seven if I was to pair it with a gouda and some of those little Prench crackers…"
He sits back down, having shrunken down to his "normal" size.
Flow and Voyage, still frozen… quietly shrink back to relaxed postures.
Mister Moolah pops one of the mochi into his mouth, pacing his snacking with sips straight from the bottle. "Mmph… what were we… dischusshing aghghn?"
Shei turns back to his party amid the sudden reprieve. "I'll surely anger a spirit of excess and food if we continue idling here. Are we all agreed on the contracts?"
Shei-Sher gathers back to Moolah's desk "The amended contract! We were just signing the final amended contract."
Shorthorns takes on a battle ready stance herself, prepared to fight to defend themselves over Moolah's insatiable sweet-tooth, but when he finds himself enraptured with the wine Shei brews up instead, she lets out a sigh of relief, finishing off the mochi in her mouth which a loud gulp as she lets the tension go out of her body before sighing, "Phew….">>760222>>760221
As Shei mentions the amended contracts, Shorthorns nods her head, "Right! I was about ready to sign them too with that last change, no problems here! Good to sign, yep, just lemme get some ink on my hoof and stamp that sucker."
As Moolah seems to praise the wine quite highly, she looks to Shei and asks, "Can I try some of that wine later too? He's making it sound REALLY good."
Amy stands there smiling, having already signed it.
"Good spirits bring good spirits, let's wrap this up and not take up any more of your valuable, important time, MISTER MOOLAH."
Leather signs the amended document.
"Stop! Stop, bad buffalo wing. You get to wait outside… but yes you can try some later." Shei chides flaming, swishing her away with his hooves.>>760221
If everyone is in agreement, and the contract is ready Shei signs as well.
"Ah, yes," Mister Moolah says, reaching for one of the pens. He goes ahead and signs several portions of each contract with his six hands, and circles the portions that you are to sign. Once every contract is completely signed, Mister Moolah smirks, and tosses the documents up. Midair, they ignite without apparent cause, burning away to cinders.
"Haha, I do love that part," Mister Moolah says. "They're self-organizing too! You know how many secretaries I got to fire after we installed that enchantment? Hahaha, anyway…"
He pushes aside both wine and mochi.
"Before we get to the specifics of where you are to find the ingredients necessary for Operation: Teacup, there's just a few things we need to make perfectly clear.
"Must completely, utterly, absolutely…
"Forget the idea – of speaking with the Vestal."
"Fair enough, I suppose." Shei's attitude appears tepid at the condition.
As Shei swats her for asking for his wine too, Shorthorns grunts, "Hey, this time I asked first at least! Give me a break…">>760227
Shorthorns watches the contracts go up in flame after signing, a nagging feeling of dread gnawing at her as she listens to Moolah explain the first part of the plan to gather ingredients.
She turns to look up at Moolah as he insists they must not speak with the Vestal. "Why can't we speak with her? Is she dangerous? I mean… I know she's 'dangerous' but like, I mean would she be that unwilling to even talk?"
"Forget what?" Amy asks in a deadpan tone.
"Beat me to it, whatever it was you beat me to." Leather nods to Amy.
Amy gives Leather a sly smile.
"You are thinking far too high-level," Mister Moolah says. "The Vestal is incapable
of what we would consider 'speaking with others.'
"Even when her mouth moves. Even when those movements produce sound. Even when those sounds resemble intelligible words.
"Those are not
words. She is not
speaking to you.
"Someone with a rather unpleasant, cynical outlook once told me that 'Most beings don't speak to others when they talk, they only speak to themselves.' Well, even if I disagree with her gloomy, broad stroke of 'most beings,' I can't help but agree that she's at least right about some.
"Speaking with others, in other words, is communication.
And communication requires connection.
There are too many languages to name in Tartarus… but in most of them, these two words derive from the same root. A few languages do not even bother having a second word for what we'd consider two concepts; in those languages, they are the very same phenomenon.
"For beings who do not listen to others, who do not learn from others, who do not even consider others – they aren't forming connections. Perhaps they aren't allowing themselves to form connections, or their ability to form connections has been damaged somehow… well, that's the case for most beings.
"This Vestal, whatever she is, does not form connections.
"Cannot form connections.
"Will not form connections.
"You will never be able to convince her of one thing or another, for this reason. Any and all ideas she already possesses, or conceives of in the future, must come entirely from herself.
"She must decide on her own to drink the tea and fall into an unfathomable sleep.
These words bring to mind another being's grand strategies… Buiwong's master plan to defeat Mudi.
The Witches of Gehenna betrayed their ability to form connections.
Azawakh – despised connections.
Vizsla – mocks connections.
Mudi – covets connection.
And Regina, the trueborn Witch they sacrificed for their false power – feared connections.
At least, until now.
And yet the false Witches of Gehenna aren't completely disconnected from connections. They can still form them, and are weakened for it.
Becoming their friend… is the only way to defeat them. Or so Buiwong claimed.
So what then, of this Vestal…?
Shorthorns listens intently as Moolah explains how Vestal cannot, will not, form connections with others: that she is herself an island, isolated from the rest of reality and only her own word and her own sensibilities even register to her. With such an alien, bizarre entity they are faced with, Shorthorns suddenly starts to feel doubt to her aspirations of being able to make peace with her.
But, as memories of Regina and the rest of the witches return, and their own issues with connections, Shorthorns can't help but silently contemplate this.
"Can we ask who - or what - the Vestal is exactly? Where did she come from, is she a demon, angel, mortal? No one begins incapable of making connections with others, so she must have gotten to be that way somehow."
"I've not much interest for heaven's politics. Our contract is a means to an end. It is too much to dread for just one world's demise, I would hate to become attached to another world's problems."
"So we're in marketing, not sales - got it." Leather nods, "Modifying environmental factors leading to natural conclusions. I've always been a tool for doing such, never been one to plan it."
Amy nods. "Tartarus sucks. I really don't care about the Vestal or what she's trying to do. Tartarus will keep on sucking. There's too many weird things down here for me to think I can help them all. I can't even UNDERSTAND them."
"That's the only right attitude to go into this with.">>760234
"As I said before, nobody knows," Moolah says. "Not a single Umbral who's participated in past versions of this Operation could make sense of her soul, if what she has can even be called a soul. She has what appears to be a tangible body, or at least can manifest a physical body. But beyond that, she does not appear to radiate Magatsuhi, or any other kind of known energy, as other types of being do. She may not be a 'being' in the conventional sense, some unclassifiable kind of arcane entity…"
"How, then, are we to rely on this mere tea to subdue her?" Flow asks.
"She negates every attack that comes towards her," Mister Moolah says. "There would be no need for that if she were invulnerable. Every method of physical destruction we have tried, she has deliberately thwarted,
not simply endured. That suggests some kind of real 'skin in the game' for her physical self.
"That brings me to my second point," Mister Moolah adds. "She cannot, under any circumstances, consider the drinking of the tea to be an 'attack.' That seems to be the condition for her protective powers: They 'negate attacks'. If she decides to drink what she considers simple tea, her powers will not negate it. My scouting and planning teams are currently unsure whether it is better for her to be aware or not aware of the tea's secret ingredients… but for now, we are inclined to say she shouldn't know."
"I don't see how you could withold the information about what exactly the tea is without her senses, as you've described them, automatically associating with a hidden danger. I'd define a trap as a form of autonomous attack."
Shorthorns contemplates all this new information, thinking about all the precautions that would need to be made to avoid having their plan struck down before it even occurs.
"Do you know if she's capable of reading minds? I assume if she refuses to form connections, she wouldn't think to touch the minds of outsiders even if she could, right?"
Shei chips in another quip "We have hells in our slice of creation. But frankly, I wasn't aware third world countries existed outside the physical realm until I came to Tartarus.">>760238
"If there is one thing I know truly, is that all creatures, whether angel or umbral love good music and good food. And certain as sunlight, we managed pacify you. -I look forward to staging a first gig for my band."
"We have not seen direct evidence of her possessing the ability to read minds… But, she, or whatever mechanism controls her protective powers, detected the detonation of five city-destroying weapons during Belphecorp's last attempt to destroy her, and changed the contents of the explosion. That is how fast and absolute her defenses are. She may not need mind reading with defenses like that."
"So… what do we even do there?" Voyage asks.
"To put it simply, you're there to set the conditions for her to want to drink the tea," Moolah says. "How you do it – that's the responsibility of you and your imaginations."
"Grrreat," Voyage mumbles.
"Well, I LOVE throwing parties that involve food! So, this'll be easy! I'm a friend-making professional! She deserves a break after all the hard work she's done, anyway!"
"Right, but we can't just *convince* her she wants to drink the tea: it has to be her own thought, her own decision…" Shorthorns says, looking between the others as Moolah says it's all up to them.
"I guess, if you think about it, all we might need to do is put the tea in front of her. Who wouldn't see a hot cup of tea and not think about drinking it before it gets cold?"
"I understand your grievance Voyage. From a young I was also lied to -so sweetly, that violence could solve all your problems. Such innocent dreams.">>760242
"Any more conditions you would like to highlight before we leave?" Shei asks Moolah.
"Right, but also labeled properly so she is capable of being cognizant that the tea has soporific effects, else the autodefenses go off."
"That's ALL I had to say on this SECRET MISSION!" MISTER MOOLAH says, getting back some of his earlier gusto as he snacks on more mochi. "Your tour guides will meet you at Belphecorp's fountainhead plaza once you're all set to RUSTLE UP SOME TEA! If you have any questions – FIGURE IT OUT YOUR OWN DAMN SELF!"
He sips the wine. "And thanks for the snacks!"
Flow and Voyage try to hide it, but they're exhausted of this maniac…
"Uuhhh… cogni-what of sopo-what effects? I'm sorry, do you mean we should label that it's just 'normal not-dangerous tea'?">>760248
Shorthorns looks at Mister Moolah as he goes to focus on his snacks and leaves all the hard work to them, Shorthorns letting out a snort and nodding her head. "Alright, fine, leave it to us. We'll figure all this out somehow."
She turns to the others, suggesting, "I guess we can talk about it on our way to this plaza he talked about to pick up the ingredients? This building's making me nauseous."
"The opposite: she should know exactly what the tea does, that being making her sleepy." Leather repeats in laypony's terms, "If she's not aware, and her powers deem the effects dangerous, then the effect will be negated, if I'm understanding it right."
"Giving her a chance to rest sounds like something she'd want anyway."
"Oooooh, I get what you're saying! It's like, what do you call a truth that is also kind of a lie, or like, not the whole truth… whatever it is, I think that would work. If it's tea to help you sleep, she'd expect it to make her sleep so she wouldn't do anything to stop it! We just can't let her know how 'long' it works."
"No, I don't necessary think we should even withhold that. The act of withholding information that would put her in danger if she was unaware makes me worry it'd set off her powers just the same."
"I… do you really think she'd take the tea KNOWING it'd put her to sleep forever? I can't imagine anyone wanting to drink that, no matter how tired they might be."
"But if we tell her that, then she would realize that we want her to go to sleep forever for our own reasons. Which would make going to sleep look like an attack," Amy points out, sounding intensely confused.
"Well I think that's an interesting conundrum to figure out why would someone drink it despite knowing." Leather shrugs, >>760259
"I didn't think we'd be telling
her that, just unbiased labeling." Leather responds, rubbing his chin, "Is that something that would lead her to that conclusion?"
Flow, in a rare display, speaks up.
"Might we use that conference room again?" he asks Moolah.
Moolah lowers his shades to glare at Flow, revealing a dark void beyond where his glasses were. Still holding that gaze, he pops a mochi into his mouth. "…………………………..sure!"
Flow nods, then directs you all to enter the conference room with him.
Assuming everyone enters, he speaks up again. "Before we get too off into the weeds, I want to point out the nature of this opportunity. We'll be working directly with Ecclesia and the Witches of Gehenna. In other words, it's prime time to do some reconnaissance."
Shorthorns looks to Flow as he asks Moolah for the conference room again, rolling her withers as she sets out to join him in the private space to hear his thoughts.
At his suggestions, Shorthorns nods her head, "I agree, especially the Witches I'm always a little unsure what to make of them. If we're working closely with them on this it's a good opportunity to figure out what's going on. Don't think we should try to make it too obvious though, that we're watching them."
"We could send them a gift basket.." Shei mutedly responds.
"Hm, I thought I left this sort of 'snake slithering in the grass' approach to conflict when I abandoned my previous incarnation. By god, I hunger for our wills to meet in open combat like two ships colliding against the same storm. Unassailable winds stripping us of our masses, tearing us down to our naked spirits petering out for the cause of one more bleeding wound." Shei sighs "Combat is never so romantic- reconnaissance may be the wise choice. In any case we all do seem to get along with one another. It couldn't hurt to try reinforcing our acquaintanceships."
"You mean make some friends!" Amy retorts, her tail wagging happily.
"You all know more about the Witches than the nothing I know about them, save intel I've received from Ecclesia. As for Ecclesia, Rooster loves putting together parties."
"Wouldn't your involvement in this matter make it a conflict of interest. Dare I even ask; how do we know Ecclessia isn't spying on us at this very moment. You know, beyond your credentials as a good friend and loving husband." Shei asks Leather.
"Well, as far as their goals are, I think one thing we can say about all of us so far is we've been pretty open about what we all want. How they plan to get it exactly though is still a mystery, personally I think it's kind of a race. It all comes down to who gets to the Lake first."
"I am proposing a trade," Flow says. "One team member for another; one to Ecclesia, another to the Witches of Gehenna. The benefit to both parties is obvious: Spying on the other teams."
Voyage scratches his chin. "Who'd be a good trade, though?"
Flow glances over you all. "As you can presume, I am volunteering.">>760333
"Give into that hunger too early, and perish," Flow says. "Trust me: The Ecclesians and the Witches desire the same. They will partake sooner or later; better we prepare ourselves for the banquet before it arrives."
"Didn't I just have just have a similar conversation with you about this? My stake in the matter is my kids. I care about the highest percentile of success, which means whoever's held the most together by time we make it to the Lake. If there are only two and a half members among the Saviors by time we had approached the Lake, I very much will side with the Ecclesians by time we are there. If you all have flourished and they have taken a beating, what good would I have to support a failing cause and lower the chances of success of the dominant group?">>760338
"I would volunteer myself to Ecclesia as they would never deny it, but for reasons unknown I feel I should not." Leather muses.
"I don't see why Ecclessia wouldn't want what we want," Amy shrugs.>>760338
Amy frowns with concern at Flow. "You're not… exactly stable," Amy points out. "Even without the whole thing with splitting your brain up three ways, you still have the whole demon hunting thing. And, Tartarus has a way of messing up anyone's brain and intentions. We could send you with Ecclessia and then you could just end up as one of them."
"Not that I really have a problem with that," Amy shrugs. "Just kinda felt like something I should say."
"Either way, I'd be totally cool with spending some time with Moody. I'd like to be better friends with her."
"I think Ecclessia would be a lost less welcoming of demons in general than what we're thinking they deserve, at least is what I think.">>760338
As Flow suggests trading members so that they can get a spy on to both of the other 'teams', Shorthorns rubs her chin, smiling widely. "Oooh… that is clever! I think that could work. But, besides you…">>760340
She looks at Amy as she volunteers, frowning, "Are you sure? I still get a weird feeling from the Witches after all this time, especially Mudi. And you're the most important part of Shei's plan, what if they do something to you?"
"Everyone wants peace. Everyone wants it on their own terms." Shei says>>760339
"I'm not so sure. I could not exactly pin you as a rule by might, power makes right sort of individual. Surely even a mercenary has a law of his own." Shei says, not accusatorily, but with a chummy regard. As if whatever your answer was. It wouldn't matter to him.
>"I would volunteer myself to Ecclesia as they would never deny it, but for reasons unknown I feel I should not."
"Ever the more suspicious" Shei rubs his chin. He may just be teasing Leather but it's a fair point.>>760338
"Right- sorry Sifu." Shei deigns Flow respectfully, and sighs longingly for the combat he described.
"We all want peace," Amy nods, turning around Shei's words. "Ecclessia should only have a problem with our plan if they don't think it will create peace. And, they're right. It won't. But, what we are doing in Tartarus isn't the end. It's just the next step. We WILL solve the demon problem. We just need to calm them down first. And, Ecclessia shouldn't have a problem with that."
"I thought your previous conversation with Flow would have you mindful of distrust in Tartarus." Leather responds, giving Shei no further mind.
"I am disappointed in how much you underestimate me, lass," Flow says to Amy. "I thought I'd established by now I'm far too much of a fool to be won over by church pamphlets and wholesome conversation."
He scoffs. "If you're really worried, make sure I'm put on the same team as Sir Ichimonji. We'd be too busy comparing swords for me to fall under any of Gegenschein's charisma or Holy Hours's propaganda."
"…What if I went instead of Amy?" Voyage asks. "Trade me for Mudi."
"I highly doubt they'd accept a trade like that," Flow says.
"You sayin' I'm not a collector's item!?" Voyage grunts. "They'd be thrilled to have me, I bet!"
"Your power gives you control over elemental magma," Flow says. "Vizsla would smolder
at the notion of keeping company with you."
Voyage groans. "It used to be over earth, before I evolved…"
"Yes, and now instead of one interloper we'll be bringing on two more! Hahahaha-" Shei tones down his glib a bit a the next line "I only have the slightest care if you're spying for Ecclessia Leather. I love you all just the same. Our destinies will sublimate in brutal combat. That's the only conversation that will bear significance to me. Most genuinely, even if you were our enemy. I'd still want you here. It's been too long.">>760343
"The demon problem is only one part of the it. There is also the angel problem, then there's the firmament problem, and then there's the god problem and not only Buiwong for that matter. Among other things that need reconciliation. I don't expect either of us have the answers- that would be unreasonable, but people do tend to demand answers. Answers, answers, answers- violence is the only universal answer unfortunately."
"Oh yeah. Names, everyone. Careful with the names." Leather rubs his temples.
"But we aren't transiting the void! I thought that was only in the void?"
Leather turns to Amy, "Can we get by the whole name thing by just, calling each other by names that aren't are own? Or will that create another problem?"
"Okay, fair enough about Ecclessia. But what about the Witches? I know they're not as bad as we thought but, they can still be pretty unpredictable.">>760345
As the idea of trading in Voyage for Mudi goes out for suggestion, Shorthorns' eyes open wide, seemingly even MORE concerned about the idea of Voyage going with the witches than Amy. As Flow suggests they wouldn't accept him as a trade, Shorthorns huffs, looking over at Flow, "Great Voyage is worth a hundred Witches, any team would be lucky to have him."
She frowns and looks at Voyage, "But, I'm not sure I want him to go either…" although she cannot think of a reason why he'd be at any less risk than Amy. "Do you think you could handle them…?"
"Violence isn't a very useful answer when you're fighting immortals," Amy points out.
"And, you're right, we don't have all the answers. But, we're also just here for the demon problem right now.">>760349
"No, it's not the actual name that matters," Amy explains. "It's saying something that supposed to get attention. it gets the attention.">>760350
"What we want is best for them. Even if they don't agree yet.">>760345
"I'm okay with going with them," Amy says. "You don't have to do that. But, if you want to go with them, that's cool too. I just want to be better friends with Moody."
Trading Leather Cloak to Ecclesia, and Amy to the Witches of Gehenna…
"I see…" Flow mutters, weighing the options. "…Then, who would we ask for, in exchange?"
"If there's anyone off the table…" Voyage muses. "It would be Gegenschein, Galton and Vizsla, I think. Neither Gegenschein nor Galton seemed willing to travel apart from the other… the same for Vizsla and Mudi."
"Who else is with the sisters?" Amy ponders. "Just… like… Supper?"
"Supper of Crows, Hurricanrana, Desert Lamp, and the Shades, if you want to count them while they're in her crystal ball," Voyage says.
As Amy seems intent on going to try and spend more time with Mudi, Shorthorns frowns, not pleased with the idea of being separated from her sister in such hostile territory, but if she seems intent on it Shorthorns nods respectfully.
"Alright… but keep in close contact if you can, you being alone with the witches makes me all kinds of nervous Amy. As to who to take from their team, Supper of Crows was always really nice. Think we can convince her to let her come with us?"
"And as to Ecclessia, I feel like we can trust most of them but I've always looked up to Ichimonji. Leather, if you're going with Ecclessia, do you have anyone you'd recommend come with us?"
"I would like to get to know Supper better." Shei muses "I'm a little anxious to let go o my favorite demon pup. Are you sure you want to go Amy? What if they bully you and make fun of your dress? Witches can be so nasty with newcomers." Shei asks with genuine concern.>>760355>>760352
"I believe ichimonji hates my guts. Or just hates my type of character in general. In any case we don't see eye to eye. Those folks I served poison too were a nice bunch. I'd rather be on their side than someone I'm not well acquainted with. Frieschutz might also be a good pick- but I think she gets along with everyone."
"As I recommended earlier, Rooster is great at putting together parties. Additionally, while I do not know at this time if I should reveal the extent of their abilities, having some time to fight alongside Rooster in particular might elucidate you on a very specific power they have, if they choose to use it." Leather responds vaguely, not wanting to catch flak for releasing sensitive information just yet.
"And doubly the case, I believe Sir Holy Hour would not mind a +1 / -1 of those he commands, given both me and Rooster take orders from him. If you were to choose from another group, then a Chorister might remiss the trading off of their Spook."
"It'd be kind of nice to get to spend some time with some fellow witches," Amy says with a smile.
Shorthorns chuckles, "Right, sometimes it's hard to remember you're technically one of them. I guess that makes the most sense you should be able to blend right in with them.">>760357>>760356
"Well… if Ichimonji is off the table, I don't think I know Rooster very well. I'd be happy to try and learn a little more about him if you recommend him Leather. I'm sure he'd be a great ally to have."
"Another bonus - he's very good at making friends. You won't be getting a grump, that's for sure."
"Blend in?" Amy asks, sounding hurt. "I don't need to blend in. I AM one of them!"
"Isn't that what 'blend in' means, is being one of them? Am I saying that wrong?">>760360
Shorthorns nods. "Then, it sounds like a good trade then. You'll find out as much as you can with what Ecclessia's up to while you're at it, right?"
Shei chimes in "While we're at it, I'd like to reconvene with my band." He says refering to the malechim.
"I know a good bit of what Ecclessia is up to, what specifically were you looking to learn?"
"Just specifically if they have any plans being made against US, I guess. Amy's right, our goals are pretty close but you never know if they have something on their side we don't know about.">>760363
"Do we know where they are? The only reason we're talking about switching out with Ecclessia and the Witches is because we know they're in on this Tea Party thing too."
"I'm not sure they'd loop me in on that information, but at the same time if they were to loop anyone in among the this group, I suppose I'm the best candidate."
Shei taps his head to his astonishment "Right, right. That's a no then."
Shorthorns smiles. "Sorry, but first chance we get we'll get you in touch alright?">>760366
"Right, that makes sense too. I'm technically in Ecclessia too but I think they know I've been with Shei and Amy for longer, I think you'd be the one they'd most open up to on something they wouldn't want us to know."
Flow nods. "…Amy, Cloak, the best of luck to you. But it's one thing for us to agree on it, it's another to have our disagreeable allies agree on it too."
Voyage rubs his forehead. "Jeez… Supper of Crows, huh? We couldn't have picked Hurricanrana?"
"There's always a chance," Flow says. "Ring them up on the Conch before they can set out for the Abyss."
Shorthorns turns towards Voyage, "I liked Supper when we were all meeting earlier, but I'm not opposed if you want to ask for someone else. Was there a particular reason you wanted Hurricanra?"
As Flow mentions ringing them up on the Conch first and foremost, Shorthorns nods and gets the Conch, starting off with a call towards what she feels will be the easier of the two sells: Ecclessia.
"Cause he's cool!"
Ichimonji answers the conch. "Moshi moshi?"
Supper of Crows would be proud.
"I'm suuure they wouldn't mind swapping me back into their ranks for a bit to undo anti-Ecclesian propaganda."
Shorthorns chuckles and rolls her eyes at Voyage's reasoning. "Boys."
As Ichimonji picks up the Conch, Shorthorns clears her throat and answers, "Ichimonji, it's Shorthorned Dragon. We heard you all make it to the Hanging Port? We had something we wanted to ask you about 'business' down here."
Amy lets other people do the switch proposals since it was their ideas.
Ichimonji whispers something you can't quite hear, presumably to those around her…
"I am glad to hear your voice again, dear," she says, erring on the side of caution about using names over the Conch. "It has been quite some time since we spoke last… though I don't know how long it was for you. Time, as all other aspects of reality, seems especially malleable down here. In any case, let's do lunch. Look for the fountain that marks the center of the Port. You will know it by its hourglass water. Oh, and do not deign to drink it… I certainly hope you haven't eaten anything else grown down here…"
She hangs up.
As Ichimonji speaks out her warning about not eating anything down here in Tartarus, Shorthorns' eyes open wide, remembering the little piece of Mochi grown by Shei and hoping that doesn't count.
"…I'll let you know on that part later. But absolutely, we'll meet you by the Fountain. See you there."
She turns to the others, saying to them, "They're going to meet us by the Fountain that marks the center of the Port. Let's get moving so we can ask them about the trade. Amy, did you want to try talking to the Witches?" She says, offering her the Conch
"Easy enough." Leather nods, waiting for the other call to go through as the group is not yet going to that meeting.
"to be perfectly honest, I've given some thought to trying the oddities they serve at the food stand."
"Are we going to parent trap them?" Amy asks enigmatically.
Leather turns his head in confusion.
Shorthorns turns her head in confusion as well. "Are we going to what-trap them…?"
Regardless of who calls, it's Vizsla who answers.
"Oh, you again, it's so nice to talk to friends so frequently. I wish my sister called me this much!"
"But… we travel together…" Mudi mutters in the background.
"That's not stopping you from being considerate," Vizsla responds. "Anyway, how can I help you this fine… evening? Day? Who knows what it is anymore. I hope you all have been keeping track."
Shorthorns clears her throat and responds on the Conch,
"Not really but, something tells me time is one of many things that doesn't work in Tartarus the same way it does on the outside. Anyways, we wanted to call and ask if you felt like meeting up. We're gonna head over to the Fountain in the center of the port."
Shei-Sher takes a seat by the office table, retrieving from his cape some herbs that he grinds together in a pestle and mortar before packing it in his churchwarden pipe. The lighting it, puffing one end of the long, slender smoke pipe to coax it into retaining cinders.
Shei exhales a draw of smoke, relaxing as he does.
Leather finds it impolite to talk over on the phone, and is content to wait and listen.
"It's whatever time you want it to be, baby!" Amy says playfully.
"Hey, how would you feel about switching some of our groups up for this mission? Since we're working together anyway, it could be fun to mix it up!"
"Oh, hrm, well, actually we were just heading out, too bad, we'll have to catch–"
"A-a-actually…" Mudi interrupts, getting closer to the conch with each stutter. "That sounds like a fine idea. We'll see you there shortly."
Vizsla doesn't say anything, but… the conch, somehow, starts to feel cold, truly, truly cold.
"S…sorry, it won't work out, after all," Mudi says. "Like she said, we should be go–"
"AaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAGH!" Desert Lamp screeches in the distance. "Did you see that fabric!? Hey, hey, guys, I'm gonna head over there!"
"We gotta do the buddy system!" Hurricanrana shouts, and you hear his hooves trotting after her.
"C-can I go too…?" Supper asks nobody in particular.
"…It seems we'll be here awhile, after all," Vizsla says, displeasure plain to hear. "So, we can discuss this… proposition of yours. The fountain, you said? Okay. Buh-byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."
She hangs up mid-e.
Shei-Shers draws out another long, inebriating inhalation of herb from his pipe, before sighing deeply with relief as the feeling reverberates through him "Are we going for a walk now?"
You see Flow eyeing the smoke from your pipe with curiosity. But, before you can even think to offer him a hit, his hoof reaches for the handle of his sword…
"Okay, bye," Amy says quickly. She then promptly heads in the direction she assumes the fountain is in.
[1d10] for right direction>>760652
"You know…" Amy says, contemplating out loud. "I could totally take that high away from you if I wanted," she says with an impish smile.Roll #1 7 = 7
"It sounds like they're shopping. I can imagine they were able to procure bones a lot quicker than us."
"Don't poke fun at it- This helps with my disability.. I think?" Shei contemplates his pipe with half lidded eyes "With the short amount of time we had on the surface I thought I would try a medication.">>760656
Shei's head cranes around his shoulders as his interest is piqued. "I like shopping. Do we have any bones to spend?">>760653
Shei notices vacantly that Flow is eyeing him. When his friend puts a hoof to his sword, he momentarily tenses- not sure if it's a reaction to him smoking.
[1d10+1] preceptionRoll #1 8 + 1 = 9
Shorthorns looks at the conch with a confused look as the witches hang up quite promptly, raising an eyebrow in confusion as she looks at the others. "That was, weird… but it sounds like we have everyone heading for the Fountain now. We can talk to them about the swap there, I think you're gonna have to convince the witches to let them give up Supper. Something tells me they'll listen to you."
"Inside you, sure, I'm a bit too stingy to spend mine though."
Having dejected himself from the conversation at the conch earlier (due to a bad habit of saying names) Shei's shoulders rise like pikes from his slumped position, he becomes excited when mentioned they're going to be picking up Supper
"Then! We are picking Supper!?" He said, unable to hide his glee at the prospect.
All you hear is a KLAK
– of a sword handle reuniting with the end of the sheath. Without so much as a glimpse of the blade visible to your eye, Flow has cut the smoke from your pipe into two. He turns away and reaches for the water cooler…
He was probably just flexing… wait, what was that Vizsla said about not eating or drinking anything that came from Tartarus?>>760654>>760656>>760657>>760658
Activating Amy Maps, you leave the conference room. Mister Moolah reclines at his desk, tapping away at some glowing rectangle – no doubt an object of powerful demonic influence… images of cute girls can be seen in the reflection of his gigantic golden shades…
Voyage grimaces as he prepares to brave the gauntlet that is the cubicle-floor. "You all ready to make a break for it?" he asks, hoof on the door.
>Make 2 dodge rolls, average the result
"Dang it," Amy says with a giggle. "I wouldn't feel right taking that from you, then!">>760661
Amy makes no special attempt at avoiding anyone. She is simply so in tune with the chaos that she doesn't disturb anyone or get caught up by them!
>Dodges [1d10] [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
Amy also frequently misunderstands situations and goes in with too much confidence as a result.
Leather makes sure all his possessions are securely fastened to himself. "I'd try to clear the masses by saying there's donuts in the breakroom, but I can't imagine this placing having
Leather avoids using Tsiba unless absolutely necessary, mostly using his mass to get through the offices.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
You kill Shei's buzz at the prospect of shopping "Suppose the saying carries more weight down. You're only as rich as you're willing to be.">>760661
"Erm- F-Flow!" Shei stammers as he stumbles out from his seat. He rushes over to him by the cooler "Why don't you share a toke from my pipe instead." Shei offers "I remember hearing something rather ominous from the sisters, pertaining to the native cuisine- including the drinks."
Should Flow enjoy a smoke. The herb is procured from the surface. Lemongrass, ginseng, and tobacco grounded into dry mince.>>760663
"So cruel" Shei coos "To steal my high. Even when I like to share.">>760661
Shei-Sher packs up his smoking kit and pipe into his cape as the group makes ready to barge past the cubicle floor. He arrives late to the race as he just finishes up putting away his things. He slings his guitar to hold in his arms, and skips across the cubicle floor while plucking tuning notes from his electric guitar.
>Goatcraft: passive; Min -1 for all climbing and agility rolls, and can use anything as food, including non-food items
>Dodge rolls [1d10+1] [1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
/ Roll #2 4 + 1 = 5
Shorthorns nods her head, "That's what we were thinking. Supper of Crows for Amy so she can check out what the witches are up to, and Rooster for Leather so he can see what Ecclesia's up to.">>760661
Shorthorns takes a deep breath as she eyes the madhouse that is the 'wage cage floor' ahead of them, steeling her nerve and pressing her hooves into the ground (scrapping them to gain a running start.
"If I don't make it… don't let them put me on this floor."
[1d10+1] X2Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10
Roll #1 2, 5 + 6 = 13 / Roll #2 8, 9 + 4 = 21
Flow, arching a brow, says nothing, but takes the pipe, apparently trusting your advice. He takes a long, deep toke, his skill and experience evident, despite you having never seen him smoke before now. The smoke churns in his translucent goo, and he makes a subtle sport of moving it through his malleable body. His expression is just shy of satisfied… he has clearly had better herb.>>760668>>760667>>760665>>760663
Voyage throws open the door, but on reflex, stops just shy of crashing into a harried, short demon, dressed in a purple sweatervest and black pencil skirt, her hair done up in a bun, her face barely visible behind a towering stack of papers. "Whoa, excuse m–" Voyage begins, a gentlebuffalo–
But Shorthorned, having been spooked by a sudden terrible vision of getting cut off at the elevator again, leads the charge, and wallops Voyage into the air with her mighty horns. The rest of you follow suit behind her blind rampage, dodging and weaving around a flurry of frantic office flunkies and a storm of stationery.
You don't escape without a few licks– Leather finds himself shot with a scattering of staples, and Amy suffers a splash of coffee into her face. It isn't hot – much worse, it is cold, and reeks of overcooked, twice-brewed grounds. Thinking quickly, she grabs some nearby styrofoam and sponges the coffee off of her face, lest she accidentally consume some of this putrid brew, and be bound to Tartarus once more…
But at last, Shorthorned wrenches open the elevator, and you scramble in. A screeching Umbral lunges for the door, but Flow cuts a hole in the floor, and the Umbral plummets to the level below before he can steal the elevator. "I was trying to go uuuuuuuuup!" the Umbral screeches mournfully as he plummets to certain doom.https://youtu.be/cc_KpOufpgM?t=11
Down you go to the lobby.
Amy laughs. "You like to share?">>760670
Once everything calms down on the elevator, Amy takes a moment of silence. Then, she declares in an annoyed tone out of nowhere, "This smells so bad," referring to the coffee splashed on her face.
Shorthorns looks back as she feels her hooves trampling over the poor overworked and underpaid secretary demon, shouting, "Soorrrrrryyyyy!" sympathetically as she does nothing to slow down her charge, leading the way down to the elevator as she pushes all opposition out of the way and keeps the door open. She looks to the Umbral as he leaps to his (inconvenient) fall, but lets out a breath after everyone gets in and the elevator music starts playing.
"This place is the WORSE! What kind of work do they even do here!?"
"We could see about getting some creamer if you think it'd help." Leather says, taking the time to unstaple the bandages from his flesh.
As they race past obstacles Shei struggles to keep up conversation amid high speed antics. Needing a few pauses to finish his sentence. "Well- You've seen- I like to share the wine-">>760670
Shei follows into the elevator with his group. Back slamming against one wall in his rush, heart pounding, as he cages his heart rate silently. Having stopped playing guitar out respect for the elevator music.>>760672
As Amy enters the elevator and complains about the smell, Shei remarks "Couldn't you eat the smell?"
With an annoyed snort, Voyage glares at Shorthorned for a moment, before bonking his horns into hers. Because the elevator isn't quite large enough to accommodate two buffalos bickering, the two find themselves wedged into the corner, horns locked. They might be able to escape, with some adjustment but they'd have to bump noses to get free…
When the elevator door opens up to the gigantic empty lobby, you see that the Umbral at the front desk has stopped answering the myriad ringing machines that surround it, and has collapsed onto the desk, sobbing weakly. Flow ushers you to leave this hellish office as quick as you can.
Thus you exit it, and once more step out into the Hanging Port. You trade the sticky humidity of the office's air for the chilling, salty air of the port once more. Both are unpleasant in their own special ways.
Amy snickers. "Creamer…" she says as if the word is funny.>>760675
"Ew," Amy deadpans at the suggestion of eating the smell.>>760678
Amy can't help but stop to ask the sobbing umbral at the desk, "What's wrong?"
As Voyage bonks her in the elevator, Shorthorns quickly bonks back, not one to be shown up by her boyfriend in front of everyone before she notices their horns cannot separate. She purses her muzzle in awkward silence, trying to avoid looking into Voyage's eyes (and failing) as they carry out the whole ride down in silence. When they reach the bottom, Shorthorns waits until EVERYONE is off the elevator, and then and only then bumps her nose against his
to release the horn lock before trotting out, looking around absentmindedly as she gets some fresh 'sea' air
The Umbral holds up a pink slip in reply. It is sealed by no signature, but by MISTER MOOLAH's custom stamp, an icon of his grinning face.
Shei hums along to the elevator music. Between experiencing a new alien genre of music and his high sinking him deeper into a state of wired attention, Shei's mood picks up with only minimal static invading his sense. This goat denies the music should stop. As they exit the elevator Shei begins playing on his guitar a melody of his own devise. A signature rift toasting to a good mood.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeYhue3lyMY
>SHEPHERD'S TONE>Attribute: Buff/Debuff>Tags: Ranged; Mind; Ignores Mind ARs except Repel>Effect: Target either party or enemies; Apply a custom buff to party, or a custom debuff to enemies; Automatically succeeds on fearful enemies, and a successful roll bestows an Autocrit; Can only apply one effect every 6 turns
[Pitch: Causes allies, enemies, essentially anyone around to hear to become optimistic, happy, even reconciling their situation if previous in a bad mood. Has no mechanic effect other than infecting listeners with a good mood.]
[Environment: Shei's song enhances their surroundings to become more pleasant to the sensations, textures are more ornate and interesting, colors are more vibrant and awesome, the blemishes in the scene provide personality instead harming the aesthetic.]
Shei-Sher skips ahead with his friends. Playing his song, fluttering his wings to hover, and dance on air as his song fills with the halls. Moving like ice on hot metal.Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4
"I meaaannn it's hell, what's right?" Leather says half heartedly, doing recon once again once outside of the building reflexively.
[1d10] scanning for targets just because it's in his natureRoll #1 5 = 5
Amy only slightly understands. The closest thing she's ever had to having a job was guard duty at that castle she can't remember the name of. But, if it's from MISTER MOOLAH, Amy knows well enough that it probably means that it's bad.
So, not knowing enough, she keeps it vague. "Oh noooo…" she says consolingly. "Why?"
"E-embezzling company funds…" the receptionist weeps.
Amy nods. "How Tartarus of you."
"Well, I'm sure you'll find another job. Good luck!"
With those cheery words, Amy leaves.
>Mantra of Equality [1d10+4] DC-4 to cheer her upRoll #1 4 + 4 = 8
"Yeah, I got a long career of theft ahead of me, I guess…">>760680
Even though Voyage initiated your first nose-bump in front of all the other factions, this nose bump, quick and cute, leaves him blushing and unable to retort. He follows you out like complete cattle.>>760687>>760683>>760682>>760680
With Amy Maps back online, you follow her bouncing steps through the Hanging Port. Your bodies adjust to the Port's perpetual twists and turns. The first few induce an unpleasant nausea, as your centers of gravity move to your head, or to your extremities, or to one side or another of your body. By shipyards, plazas and arenas do you travel, and through arcades, under bridges, sometimes even through the open air, as transit from one patch of land to another requires a leap of faith through uncertain gravity…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OpUos9qBQs
After you touch down from one of these drops, you at last behold what is unmistakably your meeting-spot. A great and broad wall, six feet high and many dozens of feet across in diameter, a great stone fountain emerges from the gray earth before you. Another one is high above you, or perhaps below, by one's perspective. From one fountain flows a great torrent of water, which curves just as it touches the surface of the other fountain. This torrent then comes back up, and flows back into the fountain near you, in a great hourglass pattern that occasionally fluctuates, turns, and flourishes with a peculiar sense of geometric style. Boats occasionally ride the stream from one fountain to another, ferrying passengers.
Fortunately enough, sitting at a collection of tables nearby, you see the two Ecclesian groups, as well as the Witches of Gehenna. The tables are rather ordinary, and the groups are eating… you quickly discern they brought their own food, and probably the furniture too, thanks to magical storage units.
Shei-Sher still playing his guitar, flutters through the scene on his wings, making a route through the market to street perform for tips.
His cape disrobes from his back and transforms into a top hat with a small functional pair of wings at the bottom. The hat hangs upside whilst hovering, following Shei in his performance and lunging toward passerbys to beseech them for tips in exchange for the pretty music Shei plays.
>re-rolling my Shepherd's Tone Roll
[1d10+1]Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
"Given the ration situation, mayhaps this swap will be better for me than I thought." Leather muses, following the party to meet with the two other groups.
"Hello, sisters!" Amy says happily as she approaches the witches.
"Is it okay for me to say that? I don't want to be offensive," she adds with concern after her greeting.
Shorthorns follows behind Amy with Voyage attentively close behind, trying to hide her own blush as she marvels at the complex and mind-boggling infrastructure of the twisting port.
Looking ahead at the great, six-foot tall walls of the Fountain, Shorthorns can only stare up in amazement at the water streams dancing through its hourglass pattern. "Wow… that's the biggest Fountain I've ever seen. Prettiest too, look at all that!" she says, her eyes drawn to the mesmerizing shifting of the water.
As they take notice of the other two groups already having arrive, Shorthorns decides to initiate with the Ecclessia group containing Ichimonji first, waving her hoof. "Hey! Good to see some of you all again. How have your travels been so far?"
You rustle up ten bones from vaguely amused and slightly entertained passerby. >>760692>>760693>>760695>>760696
Mudi stares off into space a little at the word 'sister,' and Vizsla pretends not to hear Amy over the sound of the water. You notice that the other three members of their group are still missing.
Like usual, the Ecclesians are a little more welcoming. Rooster trumpets, and more chairs pop into existence with a puff of cartoonish smoke, for you all.
"Oh, Vizsla!" Doctor Galton calls, waving over to the Witches' table. "It seems our guests have arrived, why don't we all do lunch? You know, we made these tables, you can scooch them over, nobody's going to mind."
Vizsla, with no argument, reluctantly scoots her table and chair over.
The disembodies cap hat arrives in Shei's hooves as he finishes playing. Digging a hoof into it he retrieves two pieces of bone to rub together. The creeking sound they make when rubbing is the sweet sound of entrepreneurship. So Shei decides it's time to go spend.
His cape unfurls back into a cape and gently places itself onto Shei's shoulders once again. Shei-Sher then traipses into the market stalls, to do a bit of browsing.
Sadly, nothing there (besides some fragrant pieces of spicy candy) would be affordable on your current budget.
Shorthorns helps with scooting together chairs and tables over so that the four groups can enjoy lunch simultaneously, smiling at Rooster as he provides assistance in making them
"Our trip's been alright so far, though we have run into a big problem I think you're all aware of by now too. We signed up for a little 'tea party'?" Shorthorns asks, looking for reactions from the Witches and Ecclessians to have signed on with Moolah as well.
"Speaking of, wouldn't mind a tea party now all that much." Leather seats himself and starts to catch up on drawing comical depictions of Mister Moolah for his children's book, aware that the witches might spy again.
Shei is disappointed by the short browsing trip. And unfortunately eating food from tartarus is off the table. He returns to the table the witches reside at intent on asking about the food in Tartarus.
When Shei arrives he asks to any of the witches present "Whom was the one that warned us about the native cusine?"
"Oh… Kay…" Amy says slowly. "I guess it WAS offensive. My bad."
"Anyway, I'm up for a little brunch if you guys want!" she adds, wagging her tail.
"What's that you're doing?" Mudi asks, looking over as you all take seats together.>>760701>>760703>>760704>>760705
"Oh, yes, on both counts," Ichimonji says. Doctor Galton starts to pass out rations. "I was the one to bring up the subject of eating and drinking, inspired by Mister Moolah's peculiar scheme of a tea party. For anyone who is not already aware, tales of the underworld, across the many cultures on our continent and her neighboring islands, almost always hold that to eat the food of the dead is to become as one of them. Even a living soul who consumes the food of the underworld will be unable to leave the underworld. Now, some more hopeful fables hold that it is possible to remove that curse, but as we have all no doubt experienced, Tartarus is beholden to no rules besides its whims."
"Not that any of us need to eat down here," Doctor Galton observes. "Not one of us has felt hunger or thirst, nor even the compulsion to breathe. It's all by rote habit that we perform these bodily functions in our current states. My medical examinations have confirmed as such following certain tests. But onto the other subject – obviously, you too found the Umbral's terms agreeable, or at least intriguing enough to agree."
"A little of both," Vizsla says. "I for one was quite interested to see how Umbrals handle their Contracts down here. I wonder if they can be considered Contracts proper, actually… not every Umbral is a demon… I wonder if there's a particular term for these sorts of bargains… oh, but that's Thanatological speculation for another time."
Shothorn's white coat seems to grow even paler as she recalls eating Shei's mochi earlier, her curly hairs standing on end as she's made aware by Dr. Galton's warnings.
"It, doesn't count if the food came from one of us though, right? If one of us made it, it doesn't count as food from Tartarus?" She asks, making sure she hadn't somehow doomed herself to eternity here should no cure exist.>>760706
She nods in agreement to the contracts. "It seemed like a good deal, though we had to put up a fight to make sure he gave us the same one you all were on. At any rate, it sounds like the best way to deal with our… *other* curse problem." She says, trying to avoid saying the Vestal's name according to the rules of Tartarus. "I wish we could get a chance to know more about her though, our benefactor wouldn't exactly let on a lot of info."
"Chronicling my adventures in the form of children books, as a gift to my twins. I may not be able to tell the story myself, but I imagine it is a tad easier for paper to leave Tartarus in such a circumstance."
Leather shows his latest illustration, an entire page of MISTER MOOLAH's crazed grin looking down at a very tiny party. "I don't want to make it too frightening, but I do very much like the composition."
[1d10] :eyes:Roll #1 1 = 1
Shei pulls out his churchwarden pipe and begins packing it with herb as he joins the conversation. Deciding to stand instead of taking a seat
"I'm sure contracts in these parts are as diverse as the inhabitants. Our patron had an incorrigible appetite thankfully. It made negotiations as easy as cooking. I can't say I have much interest meeting an umbral who isn't a slave to their senses. If such virtuous creatures exist down here."
Shei manages to light his pipe and begins smoking taking care to show his back when blowing smoke as not to disturb anyone. He coughs initially, but it subsides.
"Huh… we really don't need to eat…?" Amy asks Doctor Galton.
"Wow… a few thousand years and you would think I would have noticed that… But, I guess everything gets so confused that it's hard to tell. Also, everyone down here loves to eat so much, it makes sense that a lot of us haven't even noticed that we don't need to."
Amy looks to Viszla. "Yeah, I usually avoid making deals with anyone down here. But, you guys were doing it, so I figured it'd be fun to help out."
Quietly, Mudi heralds the composition, and gingerly turns the pages back to previous adventures, if you will permit her to do so. Something in her eyes sparkles as she beholds them…
"…Do you take commissions?" Mudi asks.>>760709
"I'm not quite sure, but if you'll permit me, perhaps testing can shed light on an answer," Doctor Galton says, her tone just a shade too eager.>>760709>>760710>>760712>>760713
"I think it's for the best he told us very little," Ichimonji says. "We're less likely to be caught up in irrelevant details and dead ends that way. Simplicity is an inestimable aid in countless other endeavors."
"All told, he did keep it quite simple for us," Holy Hours says. "Recover key ingredients, mix the brew, and then put on the party to ease her into drinking the tea herself. Although as I understand it, we were already delegated specific tasks, it wouldn't make any great difference, nor moreover, violate our contract, if we rearranged ourselves into different groups or took on different tasks than those we initially thought we'd take."
"So in other words," Mudi says. "This is really a chance to get to know each other better."
"Ah," Gegenschein adds. "Hoohoohoo, it's good to hear we're all of one mind. Really, what was that Kerberos so worried about with psychic disharmony? We're getting along just fine. Shall we roll dice, or draw cards to change up our groups?"
"I'm quite shy," Vizsla says, with just a tiny hint of a whine in her tone. "I'd really rather not travel apart from my sister. And besides, Supper is as well. We have a responsibility to look after her, what with her anxiety being the way it is…"
"So, you're only willing to part ways with Mortalkind's Strongest Fashionista and Demon Hunter," Holy Hours says.
"Hmm…" Vizsla says. "The thing is… I just don't think they'd fit your themes."
"Ve are demon hunterz vith ein ztrict code of vashion," Sir Freischutz deadpans.
"I hadn't noticed," Vizsla counters. "Maybe they would be able to help you after all."
As Doctor Galton suggests taking a test to see if the food issue is real, Shorthorns' face turns a little pale (impressive considering her white fur)
"Uh… you mean, taking a bite or two *yourself*, right?">>760714
"Ahem… rather than draw cards or roll dice, I think we had a few suggestions to toss your way to consider." Shorthorns speaks bluntly.
"We'd like to trade Rooster for Leather, and Amy for Supper. How does that sound?" She asks, eager to see initial reactions before the bartering stage begins.
"Aha, hopefully these are not the final versions of the drawings should I publish-" Leather rubs the back of his neck, somewhat abashedly, "But of course, it's a pleasant way to ground myself and pass the time anyways, so I'd be happy to."">>760779>>760714
Leather briefly turns from his conversation with Mudi to chime in, "As I see it, if the Saviors are looking for help putting together the party itself, who better than the merry Spook Rooster. He not only has the foremost expertise in putting together festivities, but also can put his keen memorization to good use
," Cloak speaks to Holy Hours directly, "And should I take his place, the good Sir Holy Hours should have no less travel companions than he began with."
Shei-Sher leisurely exhales smoke as he comments on Vizsla's conversation "Supper and I never finished our card game. As far as the Saviors go, we're a.. highly diverse group. Supper wouldn't stand out."
"Strike one," Doctor Galton whistles. She smirks and awaits your second and third guess.
Vizsla's head tilts her way at a worrisome angle.>>760780
Mudi begins to scribble away at some papyrus, folding it carefully so no others can see the details of her request. At last she slides it your way. "What will I owe you?" she whispers as negotiations continue.>>760779>>760780>>760782
A silence falls over the table as Shorthorned and Cloak propose some concrete trades.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpWCk-Z9aRU
"So, that would change things… like this, right?" Gegenschein asks, producing a sheet of papyrus. Instead of names, however, he opts to make some sketches of everyone's heads. Crude sketches… Leather's are professional, by comparison.
"IF I MAY," Rooster interjects, sipping tea from a jumbo-sized teacup. "BE THAT AS IT MAY, GOOD SIR CLOAK, I DO NOT BELIEVE I AM SUITED TO BE SWITCHED TO ANOTHER TEAM. MY STATURE AND METHODS OF FIGHTING ARE ILL-SUITED FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT BEEN TRAINED TO BE AROUND ME! WE WOULD TRIP ALL OVER EACH OTHER! OR, ACTUALLY, I'D TRIP ALL OVER YOU. AND YOU'D BE FLAT."
Holy Hours silently considers the arguments, his expression stony as ever.
"And I think poor Supper would hyperventilate herself into an early grave if she had to be social around new faces," Vizsla adds. "You're not exactly strangers, but she's got her anxiety, you know… I guess I just care more about her well-being than some silly little trade."
"Ah, whatever it is you feel they are worth to you by time they are completed, I have no specific desires save ensuring the safety of my family on this trip. So, if you are comfortable doing so, I ask you give whatever it is you think fitting once I am done.">>760783
Leather once again turns his head, this time with a sly grin, "My honorable and good Spook Sir Rooster, it is of my firmest
belief that such hoofwork would only prove to build some much needed
character for the Saviors, and might I add give you more practice with your own awareness."
Shorthorns winces, "Well, certainly not on *ME*, right?!" She says, hoping her second guess is indeed incorrect>>760783>>760780
Shorthorns looks to the giant elephant besides them, "Well, how exactly does your fighting style work? We've all gotten to be pretty adaptable, I don't think there's anything you can do that we wouldn't be ready to work with."
She turns to Vizsla next, "I've picked up on that, but I think you stand a lot to gain from having Amy with her fellow witches. And we'll treat Supper right, I promise we'll make her feel right at home. It'll build confidence in herself, and I think an important thing for Tartarus is self-assurance, right?"
"You-.. You're exaggerating. Come now Viz, I was just drinking wine with the girl last night. Ah- And when the Ecclessians were ouncing to bribe the little lady she hadn't even flinched. She WAS considering it!!? Not to say we'd try to sway her towards our side during the swap. You saw where I stand on the topic of bribing one another. More to my point, I think Supper deserves a little more credit." Shei points and waves his pipe various directions in concert with the inflections and emoting of his voice.
Amy cocks her head at both of the objections to the trades.
"Isn't that kinda exactly why we SHOULD make those trades? How are we ever gonna be able to work together if we don't know how to work together?" she asks, looking at Rooster.
"And, how are we ever going to get along if we're all afraid of each other?" she asks, looking to Viszla and Supper.
"I know, this place is scary, we want to be at our best. But, this is just the START. It's only going to get worse from here. If we can't get along and work together, this is NEVER going to work. So, it's better to work things out now while there's less danger than realize that we needed to work it out later."
>[1d10] DC-4 regular social rollRoll #1 10 = 10
"Hoohoohoohoohoohoohoo," an all-too-familiar voice hoots. Sir Gegenschein lightly claps as he laughs. "Well said, eloquent and simple as ever, Amy."
"Yeah, sounds good," Supper says… from behind Amy. She was not at the table until now, but now, fashionably late as is their custom, the three representatives of Mortalkind's Strongest make their arrival. Desert Lamp has a new bag of holding, which she looks very pleased with. Hurricanrana doesn't seem to have purchased anything. Supper of Crows has a new plush doll with her, which resembles a diminuitive, blonde demoness in a conspicuous blue and white dress…
…Supper also has a smoothie, which she's about to take a sip of–!
Shorthorns smile as Amy makes the most compelling argument for allowing their trade to go on through. "I agree with Amy too, trading would also make sure we know how to work with other teams and strengthen our unity"
As Supper appears from shopping, she looks on at the cute doll she seemed to purchase and was about to make a comment before she saw her drink. Shorthorns' eyes light up as she sees Supper of Crows about to take a sip from her smoothie, presumably taken from within Tartarus, and suddenly her horns glow white with magic,
"DON'T DRINK THAT!!!">Using Spheres turn the smoothie into solid stone
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"Suu-u-u-peeer!" Shei cheers as Supper shows up and it's settled she's tagging along with them.>>760859>>760860
"Cripes." Shei remarks, he slips the stone out of the plastic cup and waves it under his cape (which contains lots of different ingredients for stuff in his fridge.) Waving the cup out of his cape to produce a new smoothie.
Shei offers Supper the new smoothie he produced.Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
Amy smiles as she is praised. Her tail wags.>>760860
Then, Amy nearly jumps out of her skin when Flaming suddenly shouts.
Leather winces at Shorthorns shout, reflexively reaching for their shield before he actually realizes what's going on.
"Wh-wh-wh-WHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH–" Supper gasps, freezing with shock as Shorthorned and Shei promptly mug her of her smoothie, then just as promptly return it.
"…What was wrong with the first one!?" Supper asks.
"We aren't certain yet, but it might very well have killed you," Doctor Galton says with audible disappointment.
"Vizslaaaa, you said it would be okay!" Supper whines.
"Well of course it would be okay," Vizsla says. "I'm sure our dear friends in Ecclesia would have taken proper good care of your soul. Right? But I do wonder *which* one of them would have had custody of your soul, and *which* would would raise it back to life."
"Oh, I see," Supper says, then sips her new smoothie. "I guess it would have been okay then."
"Ach!" Freischutz scoffs with contempt. "Ze talizmanz are not to be uzed vor such idiotic ploys!"
"Right, it's only okay when you do it, isn't it?" Vizsla asks.
Mudi puts her arm on Vizsla's. "Enough, let's get back to–"
"Sister…" Vizsla intones, and Mudi immediately retracts her arm, as if she had touched a patch of thorns. "…I was just messing with them, relax."
Mudi mutters something, but her face is downcast, and you cannot hear it.
"So, we're compromising the psychic integrity of our groups to do another meet-and-greet," Vizsla says. "Is that right? Well then, will there be any more moving around?"
>Now is your chance to suggest other party configurations for the NPCs
Shorthorns takes a sigh of relief as she sees the smoothie stoned before her eyes. "To be more accurate, we just heard that consuming ANYTHING from Tartarus binds you to this realm and makes you unable to leave. I don't know if killing you and bringing you back to life undoes that or not but I figured it best not to risk it."
She takes an annoyed glare up with Vizsla. "I don't think that was a very funny prank. Even if the Talismans would work to fix that, that'd be a total waste we could have avoided otherwise."
Amy hops over to Viszla and Mudi and pushes herself between them with a smile. "I look forward to working together," she says, looking from to the other with a big grin.
Shei smokes one before shooting the bird with Supper "What did you do for Mr. Moolah? I cooked him a little mochi and the umbral practically became pudding in our hooves." Shei makes chummy conversation, curious how she handled the situation.
Situation tension relaxed, Leather sets to looking at the instructions of Mudi's commission, surprised by tbe number of individuals requested.
"…Huh?" Supper gawks. "You guys had to do something for him? I dunno… Mudi just pushed me up to the front of the group and the next thing I know we were signing our lives away… or something…">>760869>>760865>>760866>>760867
"I HAVE A SUGGESTION!" Rooster trumpets. "WHICH ONE OF YOU'S HURRICANRANA?"
"How do you not remember–" Voyage begins.
"GOTCHA! RACIST," Rooster boasts.
"What the f–" Voyage fumes.
"That'd be me, good Sir Rooster!" Hurricanrana boasts. "Mortalkind's Strongest Demon Hunter, or so they call me. Whether I am or amn't, all I know is protecting love, freedom, and the mortal way."
"I KNEW THAT!" Rooster corrects. "I WANT TO HANG OUT WITH YOU."
"Uhh…" Hurricanrana begins, trying to work out the logistics of such a trade.
"No," Vizsla says.
"Dang," Hurricanrana concedes. "But, that's what the boss lady says, so no dice."
"I WILL REMEMBER THIS, VIZSLA," Rooster threatens.
"I would be surprised if you didn't," Vizsla says.
"RACIST!" Hurricanrana says.
"THAT'S MY LINE!" Rooster says. "DANG IT, NOW I REALLY WANT TO HANG OUT WITH YOU."
"We'll join up at the next time we switch," Hurricanrana promises.
"Can we recruit him, dear?" Gegenschein asks, turning to Doctor Galton.
"Any more chaps like that in our ranks, and I'm afraid the brawn would outweigh the brains," Galton says. "You're already tipping the scales too far as it is."
Gegenschein nods. "Correct, but I am not hearing a–"
"No," Galton says.
Gegenschein sighs with disappointment. "That's what the boss lady says, so no dice…"
Fox shakes his head and shrugs. "Women."
"Oh wooooow!" Amy bemoans at Fox. "It's not enough that we have some racists among us, but now you have to add sexism to the pile? What do you have against women, hmmmmmmmmmm?"
Amy elongates the hmmmmmmm to an uncomfortable degree as she puts her arms over both Mudi's and Vizla's shoulders as if to imply that they are also insulted. Threateningly so.
"What-? nothing? Didn't have to do a thing for him?" Shei doesn't suspect her to be lieing. He gets an unexpectedly candid impression from Supper "This isn't one of those, coy with the truth repartees is it?.. I suppose these sorts of things are merely easier for girls." Shei concludes, scratching his head.
In the background of the conversation Shei can be heard chiming in briefly. "I'm actually quite proud of my racism if anyone wants to compare notes."
Shorthorns chuckles as Rooster accuses Voyage of being prejudiced. "Yeah Voyage, don't be such a racist. You're embarrassing me." She says, lightly knocking her horns into his as she looks over at Rooster.
"I promise I'll keep him in line, I know you won't regret coming over to our team for a bit. We're plenty impressive.">>760870>>760871
Shorthorns quickly jumps in along her sister. "YEAH! Got something against girls, buddy? HMMMMMMMMMM?" She says mirroring her attitude
"Aye, be wary transgressing Rooster: any slight against one of his stature is certainly a micro
aggression." Leather grins as he watches the groups interact.
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 7 = 7
Amy looks at Shei with the expression of a girlfriend who has just been embarassed by her boyfriend.>>760876
"Heheh… small cock…" Amy chuckles under her breath.
"Sexist!" Anzu joins in.
In an instant, Anzu has shot at Fox, but Fox has cut the bullet in two; both of their quickdraw techniques for pistol and sword were too fast to see. Even Flow seems impressed.
"I have an excuse!" Fox argues. "A girl keeps shooting at me!"
Anzu fumes with, as Amy can see, a faint blush.
Vizsla glares off into the distant, cold nothingness of the Abyss, her desire to be lost into it evident in her frigid stare.
"Alright, coffee date's over," Ichimonji says, tapping her hoof on the table to get everyone's attention. "Let's get something straight here."
"Oh," Gegenschein says. "I've got something straight alr–"
Another instantaneous strike–
Ichimonji stands adjacent to Gegenschein's chair, or what remains of it. It has been cut into seven pieces, cut down by six swords. Gegenschein, however, seems to have switched places. He now stands at the other end of the table, across from where he sat, in less than a blink of an eye.
screwing around, Gegenschein," Holy Hours says.
"Quite," Ichimonji adds.
"Will there be no more arranging of teams?" Ichimonji continues. "We should not keep our oh-so-generous benefactor, or our friends and families upon the surface, waiting on account of our propensity for long-winded nonsense."
"What?… What!?" Shei says clueless about the look.
"A meeting of the minds!" Shei can be heard shouting in the background of the conversation.
Shorthorns looks on with amazement at the speed demonstrated both by the pair of Anzu and Fox, as well as Ichimonji and Gegenschein, marveling and wondering if she could ever move so quickly and with such finesse. Putting such thoughts to the side for the moment, she turns to Ichimonji and shakes her head.
"I don't think it'd be wise to shake up the teams TOO much for the sake of muddling things. Trading one member each from our squad into each of the Witches and Ecclessia I think should be good for us, just Rooster for Leather and Supper for Amy.">>760879
She makes sure to add on for Fox with a smirk. "Oh boo hoo, so she keeps shooting you. You're a man aren't you? You're supposed to be tough and take it head on!"
"-What? …What?" Leather replies almost at the same time as Shei, for very different reasons.>>760879
"Aye, let us finish sharing our meal, and then be on with our tasks."
Amy just rolls her eyes at Shei.>>760879
"Oh, come on, Vizzy! You can't be angry ALL the time!"
"Watch me," Vizsla deadpans under her breath.>>760885>>760884>>760881>>760882
"A bullet head-on!? That would kill me!" Fox says.
"Ach, I zuppoze you are Veak to Gun," Freischutz remarks.
"Well, not anymore," Living Saint Zoantharia corrects.
"Though, Anzu is still Weak to…" Ichimonji says, but stops herself. "…I am far too old for this sort of jibbering."
"I'm– I'm what?" Anzu stammers. "Weak to what, Sir Ichimonji!?"
"You're prone to wasting time," Ichimonji says.
"P-prone, you say…?" Anzu repeats, blushing worse than before.
"Ready? Break!" Doctor Galton says, finally declaring an end to this nonsense. The gathered parties rise, and Rooster gives a light oot of his trunk. The tables and chairs disappear in a puff of cartoonish smoke.
"Well, there's only one cure for a sourpuss! Adventure and accomplishment!" Amy declares in an upbeat fashion. "Now, what job did you guys sign up for?"
Shorthorns give a wide, wry smirk to Fox as he claims he would die. "When I said you should take it head on, I didn't say you had to let it hit you, exactly. But a true warrior does not complain when he is attacked, he just deals with it. And that's especially when the enemy is someone you actually really like." She says looking at Anzu.>>760886
As Galton makes a call to end all silliness, Shorthorns nods as she looks over towards Rooster and Supper, "Well, if you mean to say the lunch break's over, does that mean we should start looking for these ingredients? I figured Beelzecorp would reach out to us with instructions sooner rather than later…"
Leather rights himself before Rooster makes the seats disappear, alert enough not to stumble. "The gods bless I will not be required to wingman today, I am already bound to do so should we come across Freischutz' double."
Ichimonji preemptively splashes both Anzu and Freischutz with her waterskin before the two can get even worse.>>760889>>760888>>760887
"Each of us will be procuring an ingredient, it seems," Doctor Galton says. "And from there, Ecclesia will be taking the lead on setting the stage for the tea party. You and the Witches can delegate responsibility for entertainment and atmosphere. We have the unfortunate riddle of picking the location. Don't envy our responsibilities."
"It seems we just need to approach the Abyss," Mudi says. "And from there, each group's guides will find them."
"From anywhere we approach the Abyss?" Flow asks.
"Indeed," Mudi says. "A charming way to make Belphecorp seem omniscient."
"Setting the stage, good. I do prefer a more passive and background role in these things, far more used to watching social events from a vantage point."
"Interesting… so all we need to is basically leave the port, and Beelzecorp will set us up with what ingredient we need to get." She nods. "Alright, I love it when it's easy like that!"
"As to either entertainment or atmosphere… I don't know what we could do for entertainment. Maybe music? I haven't really been listening for anything since we got here, did anyone spot a band or, maybe a performer? I mean, I could try doing the show we did for the talent show a couple nights ago but I feel like I just couldn't do it without Zjetya."
"Let's get going, then!" Amy declares impatiently. "To the nothing!"
"Since you poached Rooster from us–" Galton says, then trails off. "… There's a joke in there somewhere. Anyway, he'll prove an invaluable musical asset, so fret not over the preparations."
Over the next few minutes, the groups review their new configurations and make their best efforts to find their new buddies, sometimes having to consult Gegenschein's crude chart to remember who goes with where. But by the end, they are arranged.
Mudi the Young
Vizsla the Kind
Amy the etc. etc.
Living Saint Zoantharia
Supper of Crows
After some final checks to make sure no belongings have been forgotten or left aside, the groups nod, and split their separate ways, to find any way to reach the edge of the Abyss.