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File: 1659658239173.jpg (Spoiler Image, 175.26 KB, 1024x1024, Moon.jpg)

 No.761609[Last 50 Posts]

>Iron King Ischyros, the Far Seeker, sets down the fourth and final Report of the Agatecastle Investigation, and sips the coffee Sister Root had set before him. They are the only ones to occupy the conference room on this Cycle.

>Mabin, High Director of the Lux Deorum, is uncharacteristically absent.


>"Sister," Ischyros says, keen to take his mind off anything other than his confidant's absence. "Make a note about this Concord program. It desperately needs some security updates. I mean, have you read this Report? Seems just about everyone's exploiting it one way or another."


>"Yes, sire," the Sister says. She casts another glance at the conference room's sealed and enchanted door. "…Th-this Report was late in coming, I note. Do you think Mabin's absence may be–"


>Before she can finish that sentence, the door flies open. With quick and long strides, a lanky white Diamond Dog, his clothing ruffled and stained by dried blood, enters the room. Sister Root gasps, fishing for the medical supplies she always carries in her saddlebag.


>"You must forgive my tardiness, your Majesty," High Director Mabin says as he takes a seat, taking care to not let the dried blood flake off as he fishes his cigarettes from his coat pocket. "I had an unexpected rendezvous with a certain Noble and spent the past hours in a most gripping discussion."


>Iron King Ischyros scoffs. "Surely we have known each other long enough that you do not need to hide your personal affairs behind euphemisms!" he says. "Truly, it seems the missus was–"


>"No, no," Mabin interrupts. "I speak plainly, but allow me to be even clearer. The Noble who accosted me was none other than Lady Offbeaten Path, of House Titanite."

 No.761610

>>761609
The others keep silent as they help the soldiers get to the safety of the arcade, following Firmgold's direction for an indirect, winding route. However, they exchange glances of doubt, conveying they caught it too – this hope the battle has engendered is nothing but deceit.

 No.761611

>>761610
Lost continued to hunt for anything of value

{Previous roll was a 10}

 No.761612

>>761610
And I'm here too.

 No.761613

>>761610
Once we are across the arcade, I will whisper "we should make a dash for it."

 No.761614

>>761611
Unfortunately, it seems there is naught much among the battlefield worth taking.

>Deadweight

Thinking it over, you reason that staging battles like this would have little purpose, other than to convince the Iron Souls unwittingly caught up in them that the floating machines are their allies. The one who controls them seems to want the Ironcastle forces on their side, and is more than willing to sacrifice a few security bots, and possibly even able-bodied Iron soldiers, to achieve that.

>>761612
>>761613
>>761611
>Deadweight

"I agree," Huitlapan says. "We have yet two Floors to breach before we reach the Necromancer's lair. Let Vissei take commmand of healing the injured while we forge on."
"I too am in agreement," Cautaa says. "We've done what we can here."
"There's a stairway downward not too far from here," Xu says. "I'm ready to head out if you all are."

 No.761615

>>761614
"I suppose if we must…" Lost seemed more keen to keep in large number.

 No.761616

>>761614
>>761615
"Let's forge ahead."

 No.761617

>>761614
Deadweight mutters, "I think those floating machines were trying to win our favor."

When the party discusses moving on, Deadweight nods in agreement.

 No.761618

>>761614
"Every new step will take us to completion of this objective, and we should not tarry."
I will go with the group down

 No.761619

>>761618
>>761617
>>761616
>>761615
Xu nods, pulling up the map on her semi-bricked Comp. "Hope Sapphire didn't go through my Pictures folder…"
>"I did, and you should be ashamed," Sapphire types.
"Shit!" Xu hisses.
>"How the hell can you find anything when it's so disorganized!?" Sapphire scolds.
"That's the idea!" Xu says. "If somebody steals my Comp I need to buy as much time as I can before they find– we have a quest to get to!"

Xu leads the way north towards a downward-leading stairway station. As you approach the stairway, it looks to be in relatively good repair, and no hostiles are nearby… but the lights in the stair-tower are dim, and flickering.

 No.761620

>>761619
"Are you the type to send unsolicited memes Xu?" Lost asked as she began to try and slip into the shadows for the umpteenth time.

[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.761621

>>761619
I'll shine my suit light down it.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.761622

>>761619
Deadweight blushes slightly overhearing the mention of Xu's Pictures folder.

Deadweight follows Xu to the stairway section and squints down the stairway. Looks deceptively safe.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.761623

>>761619
I will use Spellbreaker pointed to just about everything before us prior to descending [1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.761624

>>761620
"They're funny! Nobody else posts in that channel because they're all waiting to see what I post!" Xu insists.
"There are only so many puns one can make on Prench cuisine," Huitlapan says. "Perhaps it is better if you branch out somewhat?"
"Es-car-go-to-hell," Xu says.
"You posted that one last week," Cautaa says.
Xu sighs like her career's been ended.

>>761620
>>761621
>>761622
>>761623
As you take some tentative steps into the stairwell, Firmgold's instincts warn her, and she takes aim, and blasts into the air before her. Her intuition is proved as keen as ever. Her magic bolt collides with a heretofore unseen rippling in the space before you, similar in appearance to heat shimmers, but much, much more difficult to see.

Now with something to look out for, Conflagration and Deadweight see that the corridor is full of the shimmerings. Each one is about 2-3 feet wide, and 4-5 tall. They are not so numerous that you could not descend the stairwell with some care, but if you were to sally forth without looking for them, at least one of you would surely collide with one, and experience whatever effects it may beget.

 No.761625

>>761624
I pick up a loose bolt from the floor and toss it at a shimmering field with my telekinesis.

 No.761626

>>761624
>>761625
Deadweight waits to see what the field does to the bolt.

 No.761627

>>761624
"Ah, perhaps it's a good thing that these creatures are not entirely magical. Hold fast as I find some… way to alert others who will pass through this way-"
I turn to look at everyone
"If we don't take the time to rid the staircase of these fiends. Neither choice is ideal, but I wish to save others from what we discovered."
I will then pull out my utility knife and start etching a warning triangle ahead of the staircase

 No.761628

>>761627
"Good thinking," Deadweight says to Firmgold.

 No.761629

>>761628
"Thank you, Miss Deadweight."

 No.761630

>>761628
>>761627
>>761626
>>761625
The bolt disappears, as does the shimmering, the second the two connect. Your allies fall silent, Xu and Huitlapan's ears twitching as they attempt to listen for another sound, some indication of its true effect… but none comes.

"No residue, so unlikely to be a disintegration," Huitlapan observes. "Perhaps shrinking… or teleportation?"
"Any idea where?" Xu asks.
"Nowhere any of us would like to be," Huitlapan concludes.

 No.761631

>>761624
Lost began to shoot some very basic memes into the channel if sher had access to it as she didn't wish to make Xu self conscious.

 No.761632

>>761629
Deadweight smirks and does the cool upwards nod at her.

>>761630
Deadweight tosses another piece of debris at where the shimmering was. If nothing happens to it, she gathers a bunch of debris in her wing and scatters it down the stairwell.

 No.761633

>>761630
I chuck another bolt through the area where the shimmering was. If it doesn't also disappear I'll proceed a few steps, chuck another, and repeat the process all the way down the staircase.

 No.761634

>>761633
>>761632
I will watch as Conflagration and Deadweight move down the stairs, and then do my best to etch that path in my warning
>>761630
then put my dulled knife away and follow the group as they cautiously trail down the stairs.
[1d10] my artcraft

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.761635

>>761630
Lost remains sneaky and watching as she dind't want to vanish.

 No.761636

[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.761637

[1d10] tosser

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.761638

>>761635
The others stop and check what you post… and a hail of disappointed glances fall upon you. The icons of the others' accounts all change to "Busy."

>>761634
>>761633
>>761632
>>761631
>>761637
You proceed down the stairwell, judiciously stopping to dispel the shimmerings with tossed debris… but after a few successes, one very small one suddenly appears. It happens just as Firmgold's hoof nearly settles onto a step below. But then, the shimmering disappears, and in its place, left behind by no discernable source besides the shimmering, is a banana peel, just under Firmgold's boot.

Firmgold goes tumbling into the aether, and Conflagration and Deadweight desperately pick up the pace, throwing as much debris as they can to protect Firmgold from colliding with the shimmerings. Your three allies join in as well. In the frenzy to protect Firmgold, some shots miss, bounce off railings, and then bounce off of foreheads, lightly injuring poor Conflagration.

>Conflagration 3/5


Soon enough, Firmgold comes to a halt – by slamming into the door at the bottom of the steps. The door is closed, but electrical displays near it indicate that it is unlocked.

>Firmgold 0/4

 No.761639

>>761638
"A banana peel? Diabolical."
I help Firmgold up.

 No.761640

>>761638
Deadweight sweats as she tries to dispel the shimmerings ahead of Firmgold. Once they reach the bottom, Deadweight silently sighs in relief and tends to Firmgold and Conflagration's injuries, with medical kits if necessary.

 No.761641

>>761638
Lost winced and began to try and find something a bit more timely.

Puros being caught doing cat things. She hoped that would help.

 No.761642

>>761638
>>761639
I thank Conflagration for helping me up, but turn down the medical kit offered by Deadweight.
>>761640
"Thank you Miss Deadweight, however I ache all over and if I don't know the extend of my injuries then I cannot place where medical application would help the most."
>Name: Apparent Invincibility
I will run my tongue around my mouth to make sure no teeth were knocked loose, and then stand behind the group to stretch and lean as I try to figure out where I'm most hurt.

 No.761643

>>761642
In your social image, you are definitely most hurt.

And between your shoulder blades. That absolutely smarts. You probably don't have any cracked vertebrae, probably just some bruising, but it wouldn't hurt to have a medical examination just to be sure.

>>761641
>>761640
>>761639
>>761642
While you assist Lost, Conflagration and Firmgold get over their recent misfortunes, Cautaa, Xu an d Huitlapan take up positions by the door. After preparing themselves for whatever might lie ahead in ambush… they open it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcJk8FstIw0

Before you is a scene straight from the Orchards of Ironcastle. Grass grows from below, shoots poking through the flagstones of the roads and sidewalks, even scattering them in some cases. Trees and vines are overtaking nearby buildings and disrupting trolley lightlanes, and they stretch high in the distance, in colors varied and rich. You appear to be in the midst of a public park – this place was verdant even before this sudden growth.

"Floor 5…" Cautaa says. "This is where we are to meet the forward teams and receive the spies' reports, is it not?"
"Right," Huitlapan says. "We should look out for signals from the other teams."

There is a sidewalk to the north, and a fountain to the south. All around you are high-growing and dense trees, leaving little walkable space. You can't get through to the east, and behind you, to the west, is the stairwell.

 No.761644

>>761643
"Okay, it's likely between my shoulder blades and my spine.."
Entering the orchard, I will look on the ground for signs of activity.
[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.761645

>>761643
Lost steels herself after the pain of rejection and moves along, remaining the groups stealthed eyes and ears.

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.761646

>>761643
I'll check out the fountain.
[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.761647

>>761642
"Mhm," Deadweight hums with a nod, putting away the med kit.

>>761643
Deadweight keeps her eyes peeled for anything sus.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.761648

>>761644
>>761645
>>761646
>>761647
As you prepare to explore this strange and overgrown floor, you keep your heads on a swivel to maximize your situational awareness – and out of all the possible combinations of blindspot overlaps, the worst possible circumstances arise…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwxTZaa3NgI

You all collide heads.

>all lose 1 Wound


As you sit there, dazed in your newfound headaches, you hear distant echoes… the faintest of rumblings… behemoths walk about here.

 No.761649

>>761648
Lost yelped and winced back in pain as she rubbed her head.

 No.761650

>>761648
I sit and hold my head
"This isn't good, the furthest we've gone and the most damage we've all taken is from each other's misfortunes… How long have we been at this?"
I will check to see if the clock on my magicomp is working

 No.761651

>>761648
Deadweight grumbles as she rubs her head. She stops when she hears something nearby. She hides in a nearby bush and tries to ascertain the behemoths' location.

 No.761652

>Perception
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.761653

>>761648
Can I tell where they are?
[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.761654

>>761650
Things are still all good there. It is about 1600 hours.

>>761649
>>761650
>>761651
>>761653
Listening carefully, you discern that they are quite far from you, and distantly apart… four… maybe five, in number.

"There aren't any within our vicinity, at least?" Huitlapan asks.
"None that I could hear," Cautaa confirms, and Xu nods in agreement.
"Should be safe enough to poke around a bit here," Xu adds.

 No.761655

>>761654
"I could try and peek on them while I'm still in the shadows if it helps?"

 No.761656

>>761654
Determining the coast is clear, Deadweight emerges from the bush, says, "I'm gonna walk down sidewalk," and walks down the sidewalk to the north, keeping her eyes peeled.

 No.761657

>>761656
"I will follow."
>>761654
[1d10] Perception as I ride Steadfast

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.761658

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.761659

>>761655
>>761654

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.761660

>>761654
I follow along and keep my eyes peeled.
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.761661

>>761657
>>761658
>>761659
>>761660
Just before Firmgold, elevated on Steadfast's back, can get whacked by a low-hanging branch, Deadweight flies in and catches it, moving it aside so Firmgold can pass.

However, before they advance too far, Lost notices something, now that the branch has been parted: A camp, occupied by Iron Souls. Between the branches, you can see a group of four leaders – an Elemen, a Hippogriff, a Caprinos, and the Knight-Brother Mountain himself – sitting in a group, with their teams huddled about them. They are discussing something in low voices, and members of their groups are taking watch nearby. Perhaps owing to the serendipitous nature of your discovery, they haven't seen you yet.

 No.761662

>>761661
>>761660
>>761658
>>761657

Lost quickly messages the others on Concord

>Camp ahead, shall we move to join them?

 No.761906

>>761662
++I support this choice, if so we remember who we passed and who passed us on this trial.++

 No.761907


 No.761908

>>761661
>>761662
>>761906
>>761907
Deadweight replies with a wings up emoji.

 No.761909

File: 1662085082275.png (524.51 KB, 625x625, map.png)

>>761908
>>761662
>>761906
>>761907
As you push through the branches and bushes to approach the camp, Xu calls out. "Hail, Iron– gyah!"

The camp's guards snap towards her with weapons drawn… but lower them once they recognize the Ironcastle heraldry upon your armorsuits.

"Hail," Knight-Brother Mountain grunts in reply. Stress and worry darken his otherwise stoic countenance. The other leaders also look perturbed, but Mountain is the worst of them.

Cautaa, Xu and Huitlapan make ready to salute Mountain, but he motions them down. "Sit," he orders.

You can see that the groups have their comps on display, all showing an annotated map of this part of L-8, F-5. Many comps' screens glitch out now and then, much to the annoyance of the users.

"The team that ventured to L-8, F-4 got cut off from us," Mountain says. "Seals of a peculiar material appeared on the doors to both elevators and stairwells, after that team descended.

"The seals themselves didn't react to any attempt to break them, but they possess five indentations, where someone might insert a 'key' of sorts. We searched around, and identified five behemoths nearby. Each of them possesses a circular stone object. Most likely, the keys we're after. We circled the areas on the map where each behemoth was spotted patrolling."

 No.761910

>>761909
"That is unfortunate."
I turn to the group
"Perhaps we can visit the closest of these behemoths, while we still have the energy to."

 No.761911

>>761909
"Any description of them beyond that they're big?"

 No.761912

>>761909
Deadeweight sits when Mountain motions him to and nods as he relays info to her.

 No.761913

>>761909
Lost took a moment before joining the others for a seat and opening her helmet a bit to sigh and breathe in some non recycled air.

 No.761914

>>761910
>>761912
>>761913
>>761911
"There are two which walk upright, and three which walk quadrupedally," Mountain says.

"The first upright one prefers to fight with its claws, and the second uses magic. We believe it to be Dark-attribute, as it produces dark clouds, which are intangible, unlike smoke. However, our scouts didn't get close enough to run airborne tests, so we don't know if the clouds contain poison.

"The first quadruped is heavily armored, and seems capable of resisting most attacks. The second also uses magic, but seems skittish. Its magic appears to be of a primarily defensive nature. The third is also on the skittish side, but is quick on its feet, and throws objects at its targets."

"Prey?" Huitlapan prompts. "You have already engaged these behemoths?"

"Not us," Mountain says. "These behemoths have been making short work of Dreaded Ones. Our scouts were able to watch from a distance. It was a one-sided massacre on every front. The behemoths have sustained some damage, but it's anyone's guess if they are capable of recovering, or how long it'll take."

He nods to Firmgold. "My thoughts exactly. While each of them reels from their wounds, we move in and crush them. Five teams, we each take one, and meet back in Sector 1 with the recovered keys. Any objections?"

 No.761915

>>761914
"I've got no opinion on any of them. What about the rest of you?"

 No.761916

>>761914
"I have no overt objections beyond perhaps suggesting two teams to each behemoth, it would take three tries but we may incur fewer injuries as well."
>>761915
"I may be a soft counter to the magic-user, as my weapon cannot pass through armor."

 No.761917

>>761914
>>761916
"I agree with Firmgold," Deadweight says.

 No.761918

>>761914
Lost seemed to be fine with whatever the group chose to do.

 No.761919

>>761918
>>761917
>>761915
>>761916
"We don't have time for that," Mountain says. "The Seneschal herself is with the forward team trapped on L-8 F-4."

His agitation is getting worse, no matter how badly he tries to hold it back behind a set jaw and steeled eyes.

"Last transmission we got from them– we heard a crossfire," Mountain continues. "They need backup and they needed it five minutes ago."

With effort, he steadies his breathing. The other teams look between you and him, clearly contemplating your suggestion… with some pressure, he might relent…

 No.761920

>>761919
Deadweight furrows her brows and nods. "Looks like we don't have a choice then."

 No.761921

>>761919
"Let's do it."

 No.761922

>>761919
"Then by your word, Sir Mountain we shall take these behemoths on per team. I cast my vote to challenge the magical one."

 No.761923

>>761919
"Sir I think perhaps you need a moment to calm and consider things before rushing in."

 No.761924

>>761920
>>761921
>>761922
>>761923
"Come again?" Mountain asks, turning to Lost with a grimace. He's normally double her height, and with his scowl, seems even taller.

"Sir," Cautaa says, stepping to Lost's side. "If the behemoths massacred Dreaded Ones, surely living souls such as we should take greater precaution when facing them, despite their wounds… even if it might take more time."

Mountain pauses to think…

 No.761925

>>761923
>>761924
Deadweight looks at Lost in surprise, but she agrees with her words. She looks to the Knight-Brother to see what he says.

 No.761926

>>761924
>>761925
Lost started to bend but she cleared her throat "I'm just saying perhaps it's best if we think through all our actions before we push in blind."

 No.761927

>>761924
"Are any of them flammable?"

 No.761928

>>761924
I said my piece and will wait for further development

 No.761929

>>761927
>>761928
>>761926
>>761925
Mountain is momentarily distracted by Conflagration's question. "The lot of them should be susceptible to fire – every one of them appeared to be skeletal, undead."

"What?" Huitlapan gasps.

"Now what's the matter?" Mountain asks.

Cautaa freezes up for a moment. Perhaps he's suspecting the same thing. "…We have an adept fire magus among our numbers, and another skilled at countermagic. Let us take another group with us to fight one of the magic users. With overwhelming numbers and our advantages, we'll make short work of them."

"…Granted," Mountain relents. "Pick your allies and get a move on."

 No.761930

>>761929
"I vote for the dark magic one."

 No.761931

>>761929
"I'll just go wherever Deadweight goes."

 No.761932

>>761929
>>761930
>>761931
"We'll also go for the dark magic behemoth," Deadweight says.

 No.761933

>>761929
I ascent to the dark magic one

 No.761934

>>761930
>>761931
>>761932
>>761933
Mountain nods, and transmits the map data to you. "The dark magus was last sighted near Sector 10, but each of them is highly mobile, despite their size. Don't rule out an ambush, especially with one that can manipulate darkness."

He turns to the other three groups. "Meet Finether, Sonard and Idana," he says, gesturing to the elemen (a floating, vaguely equine-shaped crystal which emanates a dark, equine-shaped vapor), caprinos and hippogriff, respectively. Each one has a team of their own, consisting of three members total.

Finether's team consists of two magi, covering the smoke and bloom attributes.
Idana's team consists of a knight and a rogue.
Sonard's team consists of a second bard (as Sonard himself is a bard), and a paladin who looks like he'd be more at home in a mosh pit.

You are the ones who recovered the survivor, Green… Finether says. If you weren't after a dark magus, I'd consider my team and yours to be suitable allies.
"I don't know how well I'd be able to assist you," Idana says. "But if you want to team up, I am willing."
"The Seneschal promised me a concert at the end of all this," Sonard says. "So, if you wanna save her, let's get a move on already."

 No.761935

>>761934
Lost seemed to be leaning towards Sonard

 No.761936

>>761934
I will make a point on Concord to recruit Sonard's team

 No.761937

>>761934
I have no opinions.

 No.761938

>>761935
>>761936
>>761937
"Righteous…" Sonard says with a nod. His fellow bard, a she-goat with a small portable theramin, plays a spooky sound. The paladin, a male diamond dog in dark, spike-covered armor, puts his paws together, in a rather timid posture.

The other teams start to mobilize and make for their own assassination targets.

"…I hope we have not already met our targets," Cautaa mutters with apprehension.

>Paused

 No.761985

>>761938
"It's a pleasure to meet you all."
I make a quick introduction and then move for a waythrough to our destination.

 No.761986

>>761938
"This is going to be a blast."

 No.761987

>>761938
Deadweight gives Sonard a nod back, one of the cool guy ones with the half-smirk.

 No.761988

>>761938
Lost gave a lazy wave to them.

 No.761989

>>761985
>>761986
>>761987
>>761988
As you gather together with your new allies, you review the map data transferred earlier.

See: >>761909

At first, it seems that there is are two only slightly divergent paths one could take to Sector 10:

The first, head east from Sector 9, then either head south to Sector 13, then east, south, north, pass through Sector 18, then reach Sector 10.

The second, head north from Sector 9, cutting through Sector 7 to bypass Sector 13, then proceed to Sector 18 and then 10 as previously mentioned.

However, a glance back at the path that you took to get here, through the opening in the treeline, suggests an alternative.

"Ah," Cautaa says. "Perhaps this Floor's makeshift 'walls' offer an opportunity to bushwhack our own path. What say you?"

 No.761990

>>761989
"I suppose. I shall return to the shadows for now."

[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.761991

>>761989
"Sounds good," Deadweight says.

 No.761992

>>761989
"I like that idea, and we have our map to consult so lets be on our way."

 No.761993

>>761989
"I hardly ever get a chance to whack some bush. Let's do it."

 No.761994

>>761990
>>761991
>>761992
>>761993
Your new group proceeds to Sector 9, as you speak. You see the remains of a covered seating area, full of rotted wooden benches, and old stone stools, now covered with moss. There is a broad river nearby, and you see that the long "corridor" just east of Sector nine is actually a series of bridges. Much of the area to the south and east is a densely forested lake, with towering, reed-like trees growing up from underwater.

Xu and the female goat bardess stop to marvel at the view…

Sector 7, just to the north of this bridge, is another land-based seating area, with tree-walls to the north and east.

"Okay…" Cautaa says, consulting the map again. "In theory, cutting through due east of here would lead to Sectors 18 and 10."

"But," Sonard says. "Judging by the scenery, we might just cut a path into part of the lake if we cut through here."

 No.761995

>>761994
"Would setting the trees on fire help? I can burn down this entire floor. Except the lake."

 No.761996

>>761994
Lost for her part grunts and decides to not actually hide as she sucks at it.

 No.761997

>>761994
"Perhaps this water isn't deep enough to pose a problem."
>>761995
"Perhaps a finder's flare would help better."

 No.761998

>>761996
You creep behind the group hiding behind every mossy rock and bridge post you can find. It works for now.

 No.761999

>>761994
>>761995
>>761997
"Yeah, let's not set anything on fire yet.

>>761994
>>761997
"Yeah, let's try cutting across. If it's too deep, we'll just take a different way."

>>761996
Deadweight gives Lost a consoling pat.

 No.762000

>>761999
>>761997
>>761996
>>761995
"Given how much water these plants must be getting, a fire wouldn't be very successful," Cautaa says.

"And, it could just as easily turn against us," Huitlapan says.

As you suggest cutting across, Xu pulls up an image file of a lightbulb, and holds it over her head.

Sonard points to her. "Yes, you in the back, with your hoof raised?"

"There could still be maintenance boats docked somewhere under the bridge," Xu says. "We could swipe one, and maybe even get the drop on the target better like that!"

 No.762001

>>762000
"Maintanance bots sounds good. Do we just nab one and hack it or?"

 No.762002

>>762000
"I like that idea the best. Except haven't the robots been acting weird?"

 No.762003

>>762000
"Good thinking," Deadweight says, pointing a hoof at Xu.

 No.762004

>>762000
Rather than join in the conversation, I will keep an ear out as we pass through this place.
[1d10] Awareness

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.762005

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.762006

>>762000
>>762003
Deadweight looks around for a maintenance boat.

[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.762007

>>762002
>>762000
"Oh, boats! Good idea!"
I'll look around for some boats while keeping a safe distance from the water.
[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.762008

File: 1662694593910.png (526.75 KB, 625x625, L-8 F-5 with Water.png)

>>762005
>>762004
>>762003
>>762002
>>762004
>>762007
You do some searching around the bridges, and after some proscribed burning by Conflagration, you find a stairwell down to the underside of the bridge, near the water's edge. There is a lower bridge, specifically only to be used by maintenance workers. It's not nearly as nice or decorated as the upper bridge, for visitors to the park.

Closer to the land side, you see a small dock, where several boats are tied off. Most of them are in pretty bad shape, having been left without care recently. However, you see one that is mounted on the wall, and as such, is in fairly good condition. It's a gondola-style boat, with room for one pilot, and three riders.

Unfortunately, there's only the one…

"So, four of us can take that boat," Xu says. "But that leaves the rest of us with these old things."

"We might be able to jury-rig a quick repair…" Cautaa suggests.

"And risk sinking if it is insufficient," Huitlapan notes. "Or if we are attacked."

"Others could just stay on land," Sonard adds. "Might be able to pull off a pincer maneuver, if the target's still in its last known location."

 No.762009

>>762008
"Yeah, I don't think we should take any of the other boats. Half of us can just go by land, and I can be in the air."

 No.762010

>>762008
"I am fine going on land. I can remain hidden better there."

 No.762011

>>762008
"I might set the boat on fire on accident. I'll walk."

 No.762012

>>762008
I agree with my team about going the long way

 No.762013

>>762012
>>762011
>>762010
>>762009
Sonard nods. "Sound travels easier over water, so we'll take the boat. Let's exchange Concord codes, and keep in touch if we see anything."

If you choose to do so, Sonard and the gang will give you their Concord codes, and accept yours as well.

"Looks like we're back to the long way," Cautaa says. "Now, then, north or south, everyone?"

 No.762014

>>762013
"There doesn't seem to be a through-way to the north, perhaps south as the path should be guaranteed."

 No.762016

>>762013
>>762014
Deadweight exchanges Concord codes, then says, "South sounds good."

 No.762017

>>762013
"I… whatever the group wants."

 No.762018

>>762013
I'll swap codes.
"South."

 No.762019

>>762017
"Something on your mind?" Deadweight asks Lost.

 No.762020

>>762014
Ah! And seeing Conflagration swap codes I will do the same after him

 No.762021

>>762019
"I unno, without something to actually track I'm… not very good at finding my way."

 No.762022

>>762021
"No worries, just stick with us," Deadweight says with a wink and a smirk.

 No.762023

>>762016
>>762017
>>762018
>>762014
Xu starts filling the new groupchat with memes. Sonard and his crew all start dropping links to Trotify playlists there too.

Cautaa, sensing Xu about to start roasting their musical tastes, intervenes.

>"Focus!" he types. "If you see ANY of the five behemoths, I beg you do not attack before we have a chance to study their appearance. I have a terrible inkling we may already have intel on these things, but I need to see to be certain."


>"Copy," Sonard and his crew type in response.


As these exchanges take place, you start making your way south along the rightmost bridge from Sector 7. Soon, in the distance to the east, you can see a tree-filled island, surrounded by more bridges.

"Another behemoth was spotted there," Huitlapan says. "Be on guard, everyone."

 No.762024

>>762023
Lost Tries once more to vanish into the shadows.

[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.762025

>>762023
I will notify Steadfast that we should add our ears to this.
[1d10] Awareness, myself
[1d10] Awareness, Steadfast

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 2 = 2

 No.762026

>>762023
Time to sneak.
[1d10] Stealth
[1d10] Awareness

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 3 = 3

 No.762027

>>762023
Deadweight keeps an eye out for any hostiles.

[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.762028

>>762027
>>762025
>>762026
>>762024
You reach a T-intersection, and begin heading east to continue following your chosen path to Sector 10. But as you cross the south face of the densely-jungled island, your sixth senses irritate you, your hairs rising, and skin prickling with goosebumps… something on that island has its eye, or eyes, upon you…

>Paused

 No.762074

>>762028
I take cover and try to spot what it is.
[1d10] perception

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.762075

>>762028
Lost bristles and moves to lock onto him.

[1d10] Hunter Sense

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.762076

>>762028
Deadweight jerks her head towards where she senses the eyes on her.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762077

>>762028
I will position myself and Steadfast between the island and our squishier members in the group.
"We should hurry and avoid a fight with whatever is watching us and the precious time we have to regroup with Sonard's group."

 No.762078

>>762074
>>762075
>>762076
>>762077
Out from the shadows of the treeline streak a flurry of near-white blurs!

>everyone roll dodge; Firmgold and Deadweight get a +1 bonus from previous turn's perceptions


Huitlapan, Xu and Cautaa hit the deck.

[3d10]

Roll #1 8, 5, 10 = 23

 No.762079

>>762078
Deadweight takes to the skies to avoid the ambush.

>Dodge

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.762080

>>762078
Lost moved to avoid it.

[1d10] Dodge

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762081

>>762078
[1d10] dodge

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.762082

I will pull Steadfast behind a tree, or a bench.
[1d10+1] Myself
[1d10] Steadfast

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

 No.762083

>>762078
>>762079
>>762080
Seeing Lost stumble, Deadweight dives in front of her to block her from the attack.

>Block

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762084

>>762082
>>762079
>>762080
>>762081
Conflagration, Firmgold and Huitlapan get just barely grazed by the streaks, yet the wounds sting screaming all the same. A silver-white mark, almost like a burn, lingers around the site of their armorsuits where the ammunition glanced them.

>Conflagration and Huitlapan lose 2 Hits, Firmgold loses 3


Lost and Steadfast aren't so lucky, and take the shots straight to the body, managing to twist just in time to take them to the haunches, and not to any vitals. The impact flings them to the far side of the bridge, where they slam into the safety rails.

Steadfast is large enough to brace himself, but Lost nearly falls over the edge. Deadweight drops in and grabs her by the hoof to pull her back, but takes a shot in the flank, and barely avoids collapsing. Straining through the pain, she flings Lost back onto the center of the bridge.

>Lost 0/5


>Steadfast and Deadweight lose 6 Hits


After they've landed, you can see the ammunition used: Long, silvery-white bolts, almost more like small javelins, for how large they are. No weapon used by a mortal fired these bolts. If you look at them for more than a moment, your visors start to blur, turning mosaic over the bolts.

Conflagration remembers a similar effect, from when he beheld the dust left behind by the floating machines' attacks against the "malfunctioning" security bots…

The others scatter, bracing themselves behind what limited coverage the great bridge's supports can give them. You can hear a rustling, and a metallic clicking and rattling, from the island… a great shadow steps back from the treeline, too fast to behold.

>"Are you all well? Can you run?" Cautaa says over voice chat.


>"Lost is down!" Xu says.


>"Shield me and I'll help her," Huitlapan says.


He attempts to heal Lost from behind his cover.

[1d10+2] Heal

Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10

 No.762085

>>762084
Lost Groaned and did her best to stand back up.

[1d10] Stand

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.762086

>>762084
"It's like those weird floating robots we saw earlier!"
I'll grab a stick with my telekinesis and give one of the bolts that landed nearest me a good whack to see what happens.

 No.762087

>>762084
I unsheathe my sword behind cover and grab Steadfast's attention through the group voice chat. My helmet enclosed.
"You must remain, sir Steadfast!"
[1d10] Lay on Hands: Steadfast
Steadfast prepares a Counter as he moves over to me.

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762088

[1d10+2] Steadfast's Counter Slam (crit 8+)

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7

 No.762089

>>762086
A fine silvery dust floats up from the javelin, and placidly drifts back down, feather-light. That which falls upon the stick lingers a moment, and then, starts to spread, like a creeping mold. Over nearby inorganic matter, it does not spread, only upon the stick.

>>762085
>Hunter Sense

You duck behind the nearest cover, and squint out over the railing at the shooter's last known location. Focusing deep, an image comes to mind, translucent-silver behind the great trees of the island…

It is nearly ten feet fall, and three feet wide, lean and scrappy looking. It is equine in shape, and covered, unevenly, with thin scraps of white plate metal, intended to straddle the line between protection and a low profile. Sections of the plate metal have dozens of the javelins protruding from built-in quivers, almost like patches of porcupine quills. Upon its shoulders are mounted a pair of large crossbows, rigged to be able to fire a half-dozen bolts apiece.

Between the plate metal, you can see that the figure has no flesh nor muscle, but only a skeleton. The skeleton is coated with white dust in uneven patches, as if it had simply dropped a bag of flour.

Additionally, the figure… appears to be dancing? Behind the treeline, it shuffles, wiggling its shoulders and hips, its hooves tapping out some unheard rhythm, the lone participant of a rave only it can hear. This, along with its white color, clashes with its otherwise stealthy form and strategy.

Perhaps it is because the face is no more than a skull, but something strikes you as… wrong. Well, many things are wrong here. But, something behind its metal helm, in particular…


>>762087
>>762086
>>762085
>>762088
>1 + Counter
As Firmgold rushes over to aid Steadfast, his head snaps to attention, and he pushes her aside. A bolt streaks from the treeline to where her center of mass had just been, and instead stabs into the wooden support stringer of the bridge. Steadfast yanks the bolt out of the stringer, stands and heaves it straight at the cover behind which the shooter was last seen.

The bolt vanishes behind the treeline, but Lost can see that the bolt struck true, grazing off the shooter's helmet. Still keeping up its crazed dance, it steps back and shakes its head to recover.

>"Where's the target?" Sonard says over vc.


>"Somewhere in the trees!" Xu shouts.


Your allies approach from below on their boat, their progress slow from the fact that it's a gondola. Lost can see the crossbows on the shooter's arms rack more ammunition… it's looking right at Sonard's crew!

 No.762090

>>762089
>It's some kind of large skeleton in the trees. Big and covered in a strange dust. It's behind the trees so we need to close distance since it seems to fight from range.

She moved to slip into the shadows and approach.

[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.762091

>>762084
>>762089
Deadweight grunts when she's shot and grunts again when she throws Lost back on the bridge.

Seeing Huitlapan taking care of Lost, Deadweight, Deadweight flies into the trees with her claymore in hoof.

>Tactician, declaring 2

>Slam, +2 bonus, crits on +9
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.762092

>>762091
>>762090
>>762088
"Don't let the bolts strike flesh! They've got some sort of dust on them that grows on organic material!"

>>762089
I toss the stick away and summon up some burning homing magic.
[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.762093

>>762089
I will pull myself away from this stagger, move ahead of Steadfast and shout "Show yourself!"
[1d10+2] Word of Power (antimagic focused on the bolts first)
Steadfast will request healing from Xu, as Slam and Counter are on cooldown

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7

 No.762094

>>762092
You conjure up four bolts.

>>762093
Hui slides in to the rescue.
[1d10+2] Heal

>>762092
>>762093
>>762091
>>762090
With no direct connection to the island, Lost waits a moment for Deadweight to fly over the water, then leaps and bounces off her back to hit the treeline. This throws off Deadweight's trajectory, and she makes an improvised landing on a steep slope, nearly falling into the lake. Through the shadows of the trees, she can see the towering shooter leap back, as if spooked. It lines up its shot, putting Deadweight square in the sights of one crossbow, and Sonard and company into those of the other.

However, when Firmgold calls out, the shooter raises its head toward her. Its shoulders slump, as if… almost as if in relief. The shooter turns its head toward both crossbows, which are still trained on their targets, then appears to strain. The crossbows shudder, as if they themselves were struggling against the shooter, but the shooter's will is stronger. Both crossbows point straight down and fire their heinous volley straight into the ground. A thick cloud of silvery dust balloons up from the impact site, blocking everyone's view. Only Lost is able to see as the shooter leaps back further toward the center of the island.

>"A skeleton, you said!?" Cautaa repeats. "I can't see! Did it respond to language at all!? Get it closer to the shoreline!"


>"What are you getting at?" Xu asks.


>"We may have met this target sometime before!" Cautaa says.


Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12

 No.762095

>>762094
>It's moving to the center. Watch for the dust.


Lost then moved to tail the beast, summoning a pair of dual claws through use of her partnership with Dhampir.

>Symbiosis Evolved, Dual Weapons

 No.762096

I will request of Steadfast that we be used to protect our crew who can't fly over the water.

 No.762097

>>762094
Deadweight tails Lost and tries to get her eyes on the hostile.

>Perception, +2 bonus from tactician

[1d10+2]

Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9

 No.762098

>>762096
>>762094
"Did they really run off ahead like that?"

 No.762099

>>762098
I will let out a worried sigh.
"It seems they did, but we shouldn't worry. There may be a way we can aid them from here."

 No.762100

>>762096
>"What are you talking about?" Xu asks.

>"It might be one of the Knights of the Gravepyre!" Cautaa says. "Oh, you never met them – a group of good-hearted fools, playing at serving the Necromancer!"


>"Whoever it is, our allies just ran in after it!" Huitlapan says.


He runs about on the bridge, desperate to find a quick way across. When none presents itself, he looks to Steadfast. "Throw me!"

>>762098
>>762096
>"Island access is on the north side," Sonard says. "And if we all piled into the gondola, we'd sink. We'll have to drop off our guys then ferry you over."

Their boat stops near the island, and he and the goat get out, leaving the diamond dog to steer toward the bridge. There's a maintenance ladder nearby you could climb down to get to the water's level.

>>762095
>>762097
Lost and Deadweight spring after the shooter, leaping over earth and rock to pursue the target, until it suddenly stops, near a shadowy bend where the canopy is thick. The thing spins around and fires at Deadweight, who on reflex, chops at the bolts… only to realize that both shots were aimed for the ground before her; they wouldn't have hit her unless she went for them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVZQJL4c034

The shooter, yet again changing its tactics, holds its ground. It resumes its bizarre gyrations and grooves, yet as it does, both crossbows stay trained upon Deadweight and Lost.

>Reflex Shot; A vs Deadweight, B vs Lost

Crossbow A: [1d10+3]
Crossbow B: [1d10+3]

Roll #1 1 + 3 = 4 / Roll #2 5 + 3 = 8

 No.762101

>>762100
Down the ladder I go.

 No.762102

>>762100
Deadweight dives toward the shooter and tries to pin it down.

>Protect

>Grappler, +1 bonus
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.762103

>>762100
"Mister Huitlapan that's not a wonderful idea. H-…how will you land?"
If he presses this, then I nod to Steadfast to throw the rhodos to the other island [1d10]
Seeing Conflagration go for the ladder I will follow as well

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.762104

>>762100
Lost, seeing it stopped, decided to move and harm it with her claws.

>Unseen Foe

>Rupture
[1d10+2]

Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3

 No.762105

>>762103
"You may not know, but I'm a dab hand at rollerblading," Huitlapan says. "I know how to take a fall."

Steadfast nods, and with Huitlapan's assent, loads him up like a shotput, spins him around, and flings him toward the island. Huitlapan, balled up with his knees to his chest, lands on a heap of earth with a winded grunt. Sonard and his companion help him up.

>>762101
>>762103
You both climb into the boat, and Xu and Cautaa remain behind on the ladder. The mosh pit dog begins the arduous process of turning about the gondola to make the trip to the island.

>>762104
>>762102
Deadweight throws herself in Lost's way, and chops up a volley of bolts, but these ones erupt into sharp splinters, stabbing into her like a slew of porcupine quills. She keeps her footing for now, and grabs onto the shooter's right shoulder, yanking it down toward the ground. Lost uses the opportunity to run up and slam her blades into Crossbow A, shattering some of the dusty metal upon it.

>Crossbow A loses 5 HP


>Deadweight has 12 damage stored up in Protect

>Protect turn 1/2

The shooter's back half is still enraptured in its peculiar dance, despite its right foreleg being pinned by Deadweight. Now at point-blank, Crossbows A and B fire at Lost and Deadweight again!

>Marksman Shot; A vs Deadweight, B vs Lost

A: [1d10+3]
B: [1d10+3]

Roll #1 3 + 3 = 6 / Roll #2 10 + 3 = 13

 No.762108

>>762105
Lost yelped and did her best to dodge the attacks. Yet she also did her best to slash apart crossbow A with her claws.

[1d10] dodge
[1d10] dual attack 1
[1d10] dual attack 2

Roll #1 9 = 9 / Roll #2 9 = 9 / Roll #3 9 = 9

 No.762109

>>762105
"AGH!" Deadweight shrieks when she's pierced by the bolts. That was a bad hit. Once Lost lands her blow, Deadweight tries to land one herself then says, "I'm bailing!" and flaps her wings to fly back to the party.

>Dodge and gtfo

[1d10]
>Basic attack, Lone Knight
[1d10]

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

 No.762200

>>762105
I will wait as fast as I can while the gondola makes its trip to the island, shouting for Steadfast to wait on its return so he can get on as well.

 No.762385

>>762109
>>762108
Lost swerves the first of the crossbow's volleys and slashes across its frame, driving deep gouges into it! Yet in the slim instant she has to back up, she sees the other crossbow turn at a sharp angle, its reticule trained upon her. With no other choice, Deadweight shoves Lost aside, and is shot full of bolts for her chivalry.

>Crossbow A loses 12 HP


>Deadweight stores 12 more damage in Protect, 24 total

>Protect turn 2/2

The monstrosity steps back as its crossbows' reloading mechanisms rack more bolts for another volley… then unleashes a deep and pained roar. With sudden sharp twitching, the crossbows abruptly aim for the ground, and shoot their volley into the soil.

>"H-h-he…lp…"


The voice is metallic, grating– and desperate. The source is none other than your very attacker. The crossbows upon its shoulders train themselves back on you and start to reload – apparently against the attacker's will.

>>762200
>Conflagration too

The gondola arrives, but there are only two spaces left, with the dog as the helmsman. One of the four of you is going to have to stay behind, lest the boat sink.

 No.762511

>>762385
I will stay behind while everyone else goes ahead

 No.762512

>>762385
She's starting to feel it, and it does not feel good. She tries to find someone who can heal her before she stops feeling anything.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762513

>>762385
On I get.

 No.762514

>>762385
Lost growled and moved to try and rip the thing off as she turned he claws to the base of the crossbow (A) where it met the body.

[1d10+2] Rupture

Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9

 No.762515

>>762512
>>762514
The ranger skeleton, seeing Lost lunge at it, holds steady and turns the crossbow toward Lost, enabling her to get a better stab into it with her blades. More and more of the stock breaks away, and it's hanging from its shoulder by mere scraps of metal.

>"Keep it up… destroy it…!" the attacker stammers, its voice strained and ghostly.


However, as Deadweight hears Huitlapan's approaching footfalls, and turns to seek his aid, her muscles scream out, and she collapses at last under the pain, unable to bear it no more. Blood spurts out through cracks in her armor.

>Deadweight 0/4


The skeleton tries to break off from the fight as well, but you see a great spark of light and lightning coming from its chest, which is covered by a great wall of armor. The skeleton's head goes limp, and with jerking movements, turns back towards you. Much of its body has gone limp, yet it remains upright, like a puppet whose only functional string is upon its chest.

At this moment, Huitlapan stumbles in through the brush, just in time to see both crossbows turn towards you again!

[1d10+2] Barrage A
[1d10+3] Barrage B

Huitlapan tries to heal Deadweight.

[1d10+2]

>>762200
>>762511
>>762513
With each moment crawling by, you hop into the boat, and the dog, straining and wheezing, arms burning, steers you toward the island. Soon enough, you reach the shore, greeted by the distant sounds of muffled violence.

Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10 / Roll #2 6 + 3 = 9 / Roll #3 5 + 2 = 7

 No.762516

>>762515
Off I rush in the direction of the violent sounds.

 No.762517

>>762515
Lost cried out in rage once more trying everything in her power to completely remove A from it's body as she ripped and tore.

[1d10] Dual Attack 1
[1d10] Dual Attack 2

Roll #1 9 = 9 / Roll #2 10 = 10

 No.762518

>>762515
I tell the Paladin he cannot fight in that state, and that we should waylay the trip back for him to rest, afterwards I will raise myself up on my back legs and SHOUT a distraction at the perpetrator

Spellbreaker: Ranged
[1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.762519

>>762515
Her face to the ground, she breathes heavily, gritting her teeth. She's utterly relieved to see Huitlapan, but she doesn't quite have the energy to express her appreciation right now.

>Upsy daisy

[1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.762520

>>762519
>>762517
In a flurry of living blades and metal bolts, Lost crushes and shreds what remains of Crossbow A – only for her and Huitlapan, riddled with bolts, to fall to the ground moments later.

>Lost 0/6

>Huitlapan 0/4

Some of Deadweight's uglier wounds seal back up, the bolts falling out from her body as they do. Other wounds, still stabbed through with bolts, are coating over with a strange white dust-like substance. The flesh covered by the dust is numb, and immobile.

>1 Stack of ??? status gained


>Deadweight 11/5


>>762516
>>762518
Sprinting as fast as you can over the jungle island, you finally catch glimpses of the fight through gaps in the branches. A tall metal skeleton, its body mostly limp but somehow still upright, faces Deadweight, Huitlapan and Lost. A glowing light can be seen behind its armored chest. A damaged crossbow hangs from one shoulder, and a relatively intact one is perched upon the other.

>>762516
>>762517
>>762518
>>762519
The skeleton shoots at the two wounded!

>Trick Ammo: Split Shot vs Huitlapan and Lost

[1d10+3] Crossbow B

Roll #1 2 + 3 = 5

 No.762521

>>762520
Lost shuddered and tried to rise as she ached in pain.

If it's something dreaded Dhampir, eat it and let me keep going

[1d10] Stand up

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.762522

>>762520
I blast the intact crossbow with all four of my homing magic bolts I summoned earlier >>762092 and I'll hit the damaged crossbow with a two-hit fire storm bolt too.
[4d10] homing magic
[1d10+1] storm bolt

Roll #1 10, 9, 9, 6 = 34 / Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11

 No.762523

>>762520
I will bound forward and shout "Untrue to yourself!"

Word of Power [1d10+2]

Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3

 No.762524

>>762520
The sensation unsettles Deadweight, but she ignores it to help Lost up and protect Huitlapan from the skeleton's attack.

>Helping Lost up

[1d10]
>Protecting Huitlapan, automatic instant

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.762525

>>762521
Nope. It's all bones, and its armor is made of some kind of creepy mineral. There *is* a little something behind its ribcage, but it's nothing I've ever smelt before. Not particularly appetizing, is what I'm saying.

>>762522
>>762521
>>762523
>>762524

With every self-detonation from the past few Cycles rushing to the forefront of his mind, Conflagration's eyes are engulfed in flame, and from his horn screams a full-blown firestorm! The skeleton is launched across the way, slams into a rock, where it's pinned as blast after blast streaks across its armor!

For a moment, all is still, and a thick black smoke engulfs the blast zone… until a blur of white – a hunk of twisted metal, thrown like a discus, flies out and strikes Firmgold in the throat, catching her voice. She falls to the ground, blood leaking between her teeth.

>Firmgold 0/5


As the smoke clears, out stumbles a charred skeleton. Much of its armor is broken, melded together, and worthless. Behind what remains of its chestplate, you see a clump of glowing, twisting metal, wires and pipes, a crude parody of a cluster of organs – heart, lungs, kidneys and others, all woven and fused together. Despite being metal, it twitches, pulses and breathes – and it's glowing brighter and brighter.

The skeleton collapses to its knees, left now with no methods of attack…

>"G-get…" the skeleton breathes…


The hideous organ glows brighter and brighter…!

 No.762526

>>762525
I attempt to stand up [1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.762527

>>762525
Lost growled and tried once again to force herself up.

[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.762528

>>762525
"Leg it!"
I try and telekenetically rip the cluster of mechanical organs out of the skeleton and toss them high up into the air before turning to flee.
[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762529

>>762525
"Get away!" Deadweight exclaims before grabbing Conflagration before he does anything clumsy.

 No.762530

[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.762531

>>762528
>>762526
>>762527
>>762529
Lost and Firmgold get up and spin about – and Deadweight grabs a collapsed, burning Conflagration (0/4) to pull him away…

But… before you can get more than a step away from the now-blinding machine organ, as it shrieks out an alarming claxon–

Huitlapan runs toward the core, grabs it, and hurls it into the sky.

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3

 No.762532

>>762531
Lost moves quickly trying to aid Huitlapan as fast as she could.

[1d10] Assist

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.762533

>>762531
"NO!"
SPELLBREAKER [1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.762534

>>762531
After getting Conflagration to relative safety, Deadweight sees Huitlapan being dumb and self-sacrificial and yells, "No!" With the energy she has left, she jumps towards Huitlapan and tries to quickly pull his little rodent body away from the core.

 No.762535

>>762531
I dust myself off and try to stand.
[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.762536

>Brace
[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.762537

>>762532
>>762533
>>762534
>>762535
>>762536
As the core leaves Huitlapan's hand, Lost and Deadweight crowd around Huitlapan, and Firmgold ricochets a spell off the core, launching it just a bit further – before

https://youtu.be/iT2bZDOga0Q?t=14

…By the time you regain a little sense, the flames have subsided, and the smoke has largely cleared. Much of the nearby jungle is gone, leaving barren rock and scorched dirt. You are all badly wounded from the blast – but perhaps a little better off than you might have been.

>All lose 2 Wounds, Deadweight loses 4 for having taken Hui's for him.


By the time your sight and hearing return to you, Sonard and his crew have made it to the island, and are tending to your injuries.

 No.762538

>>762537

Lost groaned in discomfort "I am in a catastrophic amount of pain right now." she said looking around.

 No.762539

>>762537
I will force myself to stand and see what became of the skeleton we fought

 No.762540

>>762537
"Where'd it get those metal bits?"

 No.762541

>>762537
Deadeweight's still lying there silently, though her chest still rises and falls.

 No.762542

>>762540
"No idea…" Sonard says. "Doesn't look like it was part of its original body at all."

>>762539
>>762538
>>762540
Not much remains of the skeleton – the blast vaporized most of his right side. Below his ribcage rests a small circular stone, engraved with an etching of some kind of sharp-quilled monster.

Somehow, the skeleton still retains its peculiar bony eyebrows – identifying him as one of the Knights of the Gravepyre… the LARPers who fell in with the Necromancer. His eyes glow with a little lingering spiritual energy.

Huitlapan is too busy treating Deadweight to speak. His face is wrought with guilt and horror – her injuries are dire. Burns are deep, and many bones shattered. Much of her armor is now useless – or in some places, fused with her very flesh.

 No.762678

>>762542
Do I recognize the monster?
[1d10] smarts

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.762679

>>762542
>>762541
Lost agonizingly looks between Dead and the skeleton, horrified at it all before looking to the rest "We need to leave now. Forget going deeper, I don't want any of us to die."

 No.762680

>>762542
Deadweight's nearly lifeless. If you look closely at her, you can see tears dried down her face.

 No.762681

>>762542
I start for the skeleton and pause when I hear Lost speak, turning to face her instead.
>>762679
With a low and serious tone I will respond. "Miss Hope, I understand your fear; but imagine this moment played out a million times over as Agatecastle became a tomb. There is precedent to discovering the cause, and stopping it before such a thing comes to Ironcastle."

 No.762682

>>762678
No doubt about it; the metal components were all from the pale, floating machines you've seen before – first, in the ghostly mall, and second, staging a fight with the security bots on F-5. Now robbed of their power core and destroyed, you're able to examine the bits of metal without your visor clouding over with static.

It looks like one of the floating machines was fused to the skeleton's body, much like a parasite.

>>762679
||Oh, now you take my advice! Dhampir complains. Hey, we'd better not dip before we find Shikka. Or at the very least, her Concord info!||

>>762678
>>762679
>>762680
>>762681
Between Sonard's group and Huitlapan's aid, the worst of the injuries are undone, though dull pain radiates through your bodies still, worse when you move.

Huitlapan is too exhausted to say anything to Lost's words.

Th-thanks… a burnt-dry voice creaks. It comes from the skeleton – or what remains of him. Sorry… I tried to resist it… but I couldn't hold it back… it kept…

 No.762683

>>762681
"And what good will it do if we fall learning nothing? What good will it do if all my friends die in some pit where nothing makes any sense!?" She screamed back at him.

She moved next to Deadweight and placed a hoof on her, closing her eyes as she listened to Dhampir.

 No.762684

>>762682
"I've got no idea what this monster is, but this metal is the same stuff those weird robots are made out of."
I'll heal my wounds with my med packs.

 No.762685

>>762682
Hearing the skeleton speak, I rush over and turn on my recorder.
"Wait! Please, speak your words again to forewarn others of this!"

 No.762686

>>762685
It was singing… and the sounds turned into this… pale, perfect light… the more it shone, the less I could resist…

A shudder racks the bones. He's not got much time left.

>>762684
>>762683
"Look," Sonard says, peering about. Seeing nobody else around, he leans in and lowers his voice. "If you want to split, I don't blame you. I don't even think mission command would fault you after that blast. But we've got friends on the Floor below. We're heading down once you're well enough to manage on your own."

 No.762687

>>762686
Lost was beside herself at this point. She was torn hard.

 No.762688

>>762684
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR6cC-arMpw

You regain two wounds with some application of your advanced first responder training (as all who adventure outside Ironcastle learn).

 No.762689

>>762682
>>762683
With the little energy she has, she wraps her forelegs around Lost and breathes deeply.

 No.762690

>>762689
Lost jumped then immediately embraced her back.

 No.762691

>>762686
I continue to record

 No.762692

>>762686
In a whisper, Deadweight says, "We should… keep going… I just need… a breather…"

>>762690
Tears start streaming down Deadweight's battered face.

 No.762693

>>762686
>>762687
>>762689
>>762691
"We're in this far, and it's not like we're not all on borrowed time anyway. Especially if this castle's heart could go bonkers or whatever happened. I say we press on."

 No.762694

>>762692
"Please… I don't want to lose you." she mumbled.

 No.762695

>>762692
Huitlapan stares at you, aghast. But, the memory of his insistence on remaining with the team surfaces… he cannot reconcile the hypocrisy, and remains silent.

>>762689
>>762690
>>762691
>>762692
>>762693

Xu and Cautaa approach from behind, keeping their steps quiet as they see Firmgold interviewing the skeleton.

I don't remember when they got me… everything's all scrambled up in my mind… but, I did see them trying to get someone else, too… at least, I thought that at first. They were following him… thought he was being chased… but, he had this staff… he…

Zonshii gasps. W-wait, I remember–! Mogao! It was Mogao!

 No.762696

>>762693
>>762695
Deadweight nods weakly to Conflagration.

>>762694
Deadweight's lips start quivering. She buries her face in Lost's mane and starts sobbing, as quietly as she can.

 No.762697

>>762695
"What did Mogao do, Sir Zonshii?"

 No.762698

>>762695
"Mogao wasn't the one that did this?"

 No.762699

>>762696
Lost hugged her tightly.

 No.762700

>>762696
>>762697
>>762699
>>762698
When I called out to him… he turned and saw me, then raised the staff… then, one of the angels flew towards me… everything's a mess after that.

"'An-gels'?" Sonard repeats, sounding out the word like something from a foreign language. "What's that?"

Indeed – this concept is as foreign to you as it is to him.

"Not just influencing these 'angels', as I thought before," Cautaa says. "But weaponizing them…"

 No.762701

>>762700
"Are we really surprised he's a traitor?"

 No.762702

>>762701
>>762700
Her tone was filled with melancholy and venom.

 No.762703

>>762700
"Yes another reason to kick his ass."

 No.762704

>>762700
>>762701
Deadweight continues holding Lost. There's nothing else she feels prompted to do at the moment.

 No.762705

>>762701
>>762703
>>762704
"Hardly," Cautaa says. "He was cagey from the first. He tried to pass it off before, under the pretense of being Lux Deorum, but has decided to lose the mask entirely now that everything is coming to a head."

"His search for computer data was genuine, however," Huitlapan adds. "The Necromancer attested to the trail of purged tech left in his wake, and Ruby and Sapphire both suffered his attempts at their data."

"That aside, I've got a bad feeling 'bout what's on F-4," Xu says. "If we're gonna dip, this is the last call…"

Sonard nods. "We'll be regrouping with the others now, too."

He points to the stone disc that fell out of Zonshii's body. "We'll be taking that, if you're planning to run. But if you do, do us a solid and don't drag our names into it. Mission command could be sympathetic, but they'd still put you through the wringer if they find out you're abandoning ship. Can't help you there."

 No.762706

>>762705
"I doubt they'd blame us given we're in no shape to fight." she responded snappily "Better to have a soldier who can fight another day over one who's dead."

 No.762707

>>762701
>>762705
Deadweight takes a few deep breaths, then releases Lost from her embrace. She nods to the group. She's ready to go.

 No.762708

>>762705
"I'm ready to keep going."

 No.762709

>>762705
I am ready, but continue looking at the fading skeleton and ask, almost whispering "Where are your compatriots, sir Zonshii?"

 No.762710

>>762709
Probably… fighting your other allies, like I did…

"I tried to warn the others," Cautaa mutters. "W-with any luck, they may show some restraint."

Thanks… stay safe… else the Necromancer might be your only hope of continuing on…

Huitlapan shudders.

>>762706
>>762707
>>762708
>>762709
Sonard nods at your determination. "The three of us will take turns rowing for you lot then. Take all the time you can to recover. Let's move out."

Huitlapan and Xu move in to help Deadweight stand, as you make your way to the boat.

Several trips later, you're back at the massive wooden bridge, where the angel-possessed Zonshii started to shoot at you.

 No.762711

>>762707
>>762710

"Do we have any medical supplies?

 No.762712

>>762710
Deadweight swallows her pride and accepts the help from Huitlapan and Xu.

>>762711
"I should have some kits in my saddle bag," Deadweight says.

 No.762713

>>762710
I'll leave the skeleton propped up somewhere and join Sonard at the boat. I did little to physically fight so I'll help rowing.

I'll then DM huitlapan that I too require healing, but not as urgent to have it now.

 No.762714

>>762711
"Down to my last one," Xu says.
"I used the last of mine," Cautaa says.
"I've got two left," Huitlapan says.

"KB Mountain's probably got one or two to spare," Sonard says. "But with Reprise on his mind I doubt he'll part with them easily. Could always try to search for a few on the way down."

>>762712
>>762711
>>762713
As you continue on, Huitlapan cleans and dresses Firmgold's wounds as well.

After some time of following the bridge, you eventually reach dry land once more – Sector Seven. The stone infrastructure nearby suggests that you've reached the peripheries of a great plaza. A gate to the north leads to Sector Six, per the map.

A message shows up on Concord, from KB Mountain.

>"All teams report in, stat."

 No.762715

>>762714
"What was our team name?"

 No.762716

>>762714
I recommend we top up then if we're gonna make this suicide charge into the depths. Me and Deadweight need it."

 No.762815

>>762715
"I.. don't think we made one, to be quite honest with you. Perhaps we can respond that we're still en route?"

 No.762816

>>762815
"'Still en route'. That's deep. I like it."

 No.762817

>>762714
"We're a little roughed up, but we're still alive," Deadweight manages to message back.

 No.762818

>>762817
>>762715
>>762716
>>762815
One by one, each team reports in that they've successfully recovered the sigil stones that each behemoth – the former Knights of the Gravepyre – had held. The damage report follows. It sounds like each team has suffered bad injuries, and all are running desperately low on medical supplies.

>"Understood," KB Mountain says.

>"And what of the other behemoths, sir?" Cautaa asks.
>"Damaged beyond repair," Mountain reports. "The machinery that grafted itself onto their bodies proved too dangerous to remove during combat. However– our priests should be able to purify their souls after the danger is past."
>"I see… thank you, sir," Cautaa says.
>"All teams, rendezvous at Sector One," Mountain says. "That's where the closest stairwell is. We'll assess who can and cannot descend to F-4 there. Let's not keep our foes waiting."

Mountain closes the call.

 No.762819

>>762818
Off we march to sector one.

 No.762820

>>762818
When the call is closed I speak underbreath, and then lead the way.

 No.762821

>>762818
Deadweight reacts to the message with a (griffin) thumbs up emote and makes her way to Sector One.

 No.762822

>>762818
"Shouldn't we… heal up before we rush into this fight?"

 No.762823

>>762822
"We'll heal up once we find the others," Deadweight says.

 No.762824

>>762822
>>762821
>>762820
>>762819
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw7FjnyTjoo

Sector One, as surmised earlier, is indeed a great courtyard, marked by a long fountain in its center, which is flanked by benches, tables, and surrounded by a number of now-deprecated buildings. These appear to have been shops, gymnasiums, parlors and other pillars of communal life. Now all gone, and empty.

Overlooking it all is a great metal slab, which has grafted onto the stairwell terminal like melted slag. Your visors hum over with static when you behold it… like the metal that covered Zonshii. This slab is made of the same kind of metal. Best not to stand too close.

On the surface of the slab are five circular indentations, roughly the same size as the circular seal that you recovered from Zonshii's chest cavity.

Standing at a distance from the slab are KB Mountain's forces. Each of them look badly roughed up. Some are barely standing, but pressing through, countenances frozen in grim determination.

Mountain nods in acknowledgement as you approach. "Well-fought," he grunts.

Xu, Cautaa and Huitlapan remain silent, and visibly nervous.

When Lost speaks up, Mountain shakes his head.

"We don't have time to dally," he says. However, he looks over her and Deadweight for a moment, then reaches into a storage cache, and hands them another small medical kit. "Our allies below have been cut off from support for too long. Do what you need to, but be quick."

He holds out his hoof for the seal you recovered from Zonshii.

 No.762825

>>762824
Lost quickly took one of the kits and used it on herself.

 No.762826

>>762824
I will give Mountain the seal.

 No.762827

Deadweight also takes a kit and uses it on herself.

 No.762828

>>762824
I'll hang around.

 No.762829

>>762825
>>762826
>>762827
>>762828
Mountain takes the sigil stone, and approaches the metal slab, as does a representative from each of the other cavalry teams.

When each stone has been slid into place, there is a moment of stillness– then a great cracking. Fissures shudder through the surface of the slab, as if it were not metal, but another peculiar kind of stone. Then, the material contradicts its nature again, and bends, and dents, as if being slammed by an invisible sledgehammer. The others back away, even as they study the alien material's inexplicable properties.

When at last the slab is near-totally covered with damage, it falls still again, until it crumbles, blown away like so much dust in a breeze. Compared to the earlier erratic breaking, its final departure is downright tranquil. Finally, when enough dust is clear to reveal the door controls, some of the cavalry approach, and inspect the door systems. They get it to work, and the doors slide open.

The Necromancer's Lair awaits below.

 No.762830

>>762829
"Spooky."
I preemptively call up some homing fire magic.
[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.762831

>>762829
With the passage open I take a step forward and pause, drawing out my march forward before turning back to my group and moving to them instead. I will speak in a low tone
"I understand this will not look well with Agatecastle's agency but not all of us are ready with only Sir Huitlapan's healing. If we're unsure about what lies ahead then we should use my courier and our pooled funds to bring medical supplies… I will deal with the outcome after the Necromancer is defeated."

 No.762832

>>762831
Lost nodded and handed over all 400 schillings she had on her to Firm to buy them all the meds it could.

 No.762833

>>762831
>>762830
Cautaa nods. "At this point, the expedition's leadership has graver concerns to contend with than a little smuggling."
Huitlapan grimaces, tapping his foot impatiently. "How fast can this courier of yours get here?"
Xu clicks her tongue. "I, uh… don't have any cash to lend."
>"She spent it all on this mobile game," Sapphire types.
"True…" Xu admits, too bummed about being a broke ass to even banter over it.

 No.762834

>>762829
>>762831
Deadweight also gives Firmgold all her schillings.

>>762833
Deadweight nods. She understands.

 No.762835

>>762833
"I don't think I have any money."

 No.762836

>>762833
"Well, perhaps quicker if I divert my 70 shillings to quicker delivery. In all truth I've never asked for faster delivery as a timely arrival was more than affordable."
>>762832
>>762834
"Thank you dearly"

 No.762837

>>762836
Deadweight nods, more resolutely than when she nodded at Xu.

 No.762838

"Perhaps we could change the purchase of several of these medkits for some sage brew? I believe consuming them may give us access to spells that Sir Huitlapan may impart."

 No.762839

>>762838
"Yes but at the same time we could fudge the spell and make it worse."

 No.762840

>>762839
"Noted, sticking with medkits only."
I will make the purchase and spend however much of my own 70 shillings to make it next-second delivery if possible, teleports are expensive when you can't use 'em

 No.762841

>>762839
>>762836
>>762835
>>762834
The smuggler takes a bit to respond to Firmgold's request – normally the customer service department is quite prompt with responding. Maybe even they've been mobilized… or maybe they're just making sure you didn't put in the wrong amount. But, eventually:

>"Request accepted."


Some minutes later, after KB Mountain's forces have descended the staircase, a drone zooms overhead, and a box falls from the sky, held aloft by a parachute, descending toward your location.

When it lands, you and your allies tear into it – and it's a whole cache, packed near to bursting, with medkits.

 No.762842

>>762841
I will break one open and apply it to Deadweight.

 No.762843

>>762841
"That's a lot of medkits," Deadweight comments.

>>762842
"Thank you, Firmgold."

>>762841
"Aright, anything else before we head down?"

 No.762844

>>762841
Lost grabbed several, taking the time to heal herself up to full health.

 No.762845

>>762843
"You are welcome, Miss Deadweight. I should have sent for another set of armor for yourself but circumstance may not allow us such luxury."

 No.762846

>>762845
"Still appreciate the thought," Deadweight says.

 No.762847


 No.762848

>>762840
>>762841
I communicate a desire to buy three bottles of Noble's Wine, one bottle of Peasant's Aid, one set of High-Grade Explosives, and six set of Firecrackers. I'll hand over the 430 shillings needed.

 No.762849

>>762848
I nod my affirmation and put this down for another delivery

 No.762850

>>762848
>>762849
>"Request accepted."

Another drone zooms overhead, dropping another box of supplies.

Huitlapan, visibly agitated by the wait, casts pointed glances at the stairwell. His leg has not ceased tapping since it began.

 No.762987

>>762850
"We'll get goin' soon," Deadweight assures Huitlapan.

 No.762988

>>762850
My body is ready.

 No.762989

>>762850
I will apply more medkits until Deadweight conveys she's numb enough to move without trouble.

And then I'm ready

 No.762990

>>762987
>>762988
>>762989
Down a long and winding stairwell do you descend. Recalling the traps laid out in the last stairwell, you proceed with caution, at times throwing bits of debris and the like ahead, anticipating spatial anomalies. However, none await you. In fact, no traps await you. All in all, this final set of stairs is… well, remarkably plain. It's hard to see, as the lights are off, but when you scan about with your visor's low-light settings, you see that the stairwell is actually quite clean. No major damage to speak of, and although dust particulate is in the air, overall, it seems like an ordinary stairwell that one would see in Ironcastle.

"We're certainly getting our cardio in, aren't we?" Cautaa asks. "All these stairs."

>"I wish I had a butt," Sapphire sighs.


Cautaa clears his throat awkwardly.

Before the awkwardness can linger much longer, you reach the bottom of the stairs, where you find that the door is propped open by debris.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDG-84WgGUc

Before you is a circular room, not overly large. It is orderly and clean, and the furniture is of good quality. A desk and chairs occupies the center of the room, and there are other desks here and there on the northeast and western sides of the room. Though, there is nobody to be seen inside.

There are three other exits to the room. One adjacent to the stairwell, just to the right of it. Another is on the eastern surface of the room. The third exit is due south, across from the stairwell. All three of the doors of the exits are nice and well-kept, too.

 No.762991

>>762990
I'll rummage through the desks.
[1d10] perception

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.762992

>>762990
I will look at the floor and search for scuff marks and evidence of someone disturbing hundred-years old dust settling.
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.762993

>>762990
Lost quickly scanned for any threats to them.

[1d10] Search

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.762994

>>762990
Deadweight furrows her brows in suspicion.

>Observation

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762995

>>762991
Inside are an assortment of pens, staples, paperclips, rubber bands, sticky notes, all kinds of office miscellany. The central desk of the room contains a rather large novelty guest book. Most of the pages are blank, and structured with rows and columns for organizing guests: Printed names, signatures, dates of their arrival, departure and notes.

As for the few pages that have been filled in, you see a number of recurring names… most you don't recognize, except for those of the Knights of the Gravepyre. However, something stands out. In the "date" section, every year is different, sometimes wildly so. Many are decades or centuries in the past. A few appear to be in the future. This book doesn't look old enough to make the former plausible, and the latter is definitely out of the question… right?

>>762992
>>762993
>>762994
Nothing looks to be out of order around here – really, just a well-kept room. Deadweight shudders as a premonition of a falling anvil assails her mind… but it's all good.

"Whoa…" Xu mutters.
"Find something?" Huitlapan whispers.
"Not a single water mark on the desks," Xu says. "Must've been real strict with the coasters."
Huitlapan's stare bores right through her.

 No.762996

>>762995
"It is unnecessarily clean in here."
I will use Spellbreaker on this room
[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.762997

>>762995
>>762996
>>762994
>>762993
"Hey, check it out! Time travelers!"
I show off the dates in the book.

 No.762998

>>762995
Deadweight braces for an anvil falling out of the ceiling, but seeing the coast is clear, she relaxes a little.

>>762997
Deadweight takes a look at the dates. "Must be part of an illusion."

 No.762999

>>762990
>>762995
Deadweight looks back at the exit next to the stairwell. "I'm gonna take a look," she announces before taking a peek.

 No.763000

>>762998
>>762997
>>762995
"Or time distortions. I wouldn't put it past either of us." sh

 No.763001

>>762996
There is no effect. This is the product of honest, mundane work.

But who in the world would go to such lengths to keep this area clean?

>>762997
>>762998
>>763000
Cautaa looks over the dates with… well, after all he's seen, disbelief is about as far from his mind as it can be.

"Illusions, hmm…" Cautaa repeats. "No – I think that Lost has the right idea. Recall that the survivors we have met thus far have disagreed with how long ago Agatecastle fell. Green attested that it was but year ago, and Ruby, a decade. Ironcastle intel initially attested that the fall came thousands of years ago. And now this guest book has visitors from… well, the future, it seems."

>>762999
Finding the door unlocked, you crack it ajar, and peer through the gap. It's quite dark, but this door appears to open to a kind of bespoke patio workspace. The ground is covered with flagstones, though grass peers through the cracks in the stones. The walls are comprised of peculiar hedges, the likes of which you have not seen before, even in the overgrowth of the Floor above. There is a translucent cloth ceiling, held up on wooden stringers. It all carries the atmosphere of one with an intense obsession with their own idiosyncrasies of decorating.

 No.763002

>>763001
I turn around and around in a huff before stopping on the group.
"I've no idea where Sir Mountain or our cohort could have gone. I would have hoped this crossroads may have stayed them as well."

 No.763003

>>763001
"Weird."
I'll put the book back where I found it then check out the south exit.
[1d10] perception

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.763004

>>763001
"Hmm," Deadweight hums. Time travel's weird.

Deadweight peers through the gap and sees nothing particularly noteworthy. She trots over to the door on the eastern side of the room and checks what's behind it.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.763005

>>763001
"Perhaps there's some kind of Dreaded One doing it. Or maybe this is a dream." she said looking around

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.763006

>>763002
>>763003
>>763004
Conflagration and Deadweight check to the east and south, and see much the same as Deadweight saw when she looked through the door of the northern exit (see: last response of >>763001)

>To clarify, there is a HALLWAY to the north, as there is to the east and south.


The east hallway bends to the north, while the south hallway continues south for some time, before veering to the east.

There is a key difference, however. Conflagration can sense a high concentration of magic coming from further down the southern hallway, suggesting a powerful presence waits further beyond.

To the east, Deadweight can smell the faint scent of cigarettes.

>>763005
You flinch, following the brief premonition of anvils dropping from the sky… but it's all good. Coast is clear.

 No.763007

>>763006
Lost wondered quietly if she had been going insane as she waited for the others to pick a path.

 No.763008

>>763003
>>763006
"You see a patio there too, Conflagration?" Deadweight asks.

>>763006
She smells the faint smell of cigarette smoke and decides to investigate the hallway to the east.

 No.763009

>>763006
>>763007
>>763008
>>763006
>>763002
"Hey, there's a bunch of magic to the south. We might want to head this way last."
I'll check the other two halls to see if I also sense magic.
[1d10] perception

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.763010

>>763008
"It's patios all the way down, man."

 No.763011

>>763008
>>763007
Lost tailed Deadweight

 No.763012

>>763006
>>763009
"The south it is."
I'm going south

 No.763013

>>763012
"I said south last, not first."

 No.763014

>>763009
You can sense a faint presence down the northern hall, but to the east, all you can sense is that cigarette smoke.

>>763011
>>763008
The eastern hallway zig-zags north and east for a little while, until you see, at a three-branch junction, a familiar face. Or rather, a familiar skull.

It's the janitor, from L-8 F-9.

Finally, he's found a lighter that works.

He's got his cleaning stuff with him… but his clothes are worse for wear. Tears, cuts and burn marks mar them. Damage to his bones is visible through the tears.

All the same, he's just kicking back, having a cig.

 No.763015

>>763014
"Hey, long time no see!" Deadweight says to the janitor with a salute. "What're you doin' here?"

 No.763016

>>763013
>>763014
Down the hallway I will hear this echo and stop, turn back to see I'm the only one going this way and then sprint back towards the group.

 No.763017

>>763015
>>763014
Lost was a bit surprised "Wow. He's tough to have made it this far."

 No.763018

>>763017
>>763015
>>763016
"Cleanin', same as always," the janitor says. You can hear him at last, thanks to the effects of the potion brewed by the Knights of the Gravepyre. "And when this all blows over I'll be back to cleanin'.

 No.763072

>>763018
"Keep at it," Deadweight says, as if he needed the encouragement. "Have you seen anything out of the ordinary? she asks as she looks at her surroundings.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.763073

>>763018
Having caught up, I will wait for my turn to ask on his path to here.

 No.763074

>>763014
>>763018
"You look like you've been through a rough patch."

 No.763075

>>763072
"Not much," he says. "Apart from the big kerfuffle in the courtyard."

>>763074
"Yyyyep, some big hullaballoo happening in the ol' public square east of here. I was takin' lunch there when it all popped off. Still had 15 minutes on my lunch so I came 'round here to finish it."

>>763073
"You wouldn't happen to have change for a five, would you ma'am?" the janitor asks.

 No.763076

>>763075
"I wouldn't, I apologize. I- we spent nearly all our shillings on medkits. My own funds went to a speedy delivery on them."

 No.763077

>>763075
>>763018
"In a way I envy how satisfied this work makes you."

 No.763078

>>763075
"Can you define hullaballoo? We've been through a bunch of different ones already."

 No.763079

>>763077
"It put my kids through college in the Arcanum," the janitor says with a nod.

>>763076
"Money well spent if you're gonna be pokin' around here much more," the janitor says.

>>763078
"By hullaballoo, I mean a confrontation, going on in the old public square.

"You got this cheeky Lagomos fella, on the north side, and he's got all these floating machines, seems to be giving them orders. On the south side is the old fella who came from the Sky. And scattered all around between them are armored-up folks. They got the same crests on their armor as you do."

Xu rubs her chin. "Mogao to the north, Necromancer to the south, and the Ironcastle investigation forces between them."

"Sure, if that's their names," the janitor says. "Was lookin' like a big fight was breakin' out there, til seemed like the leaders of the three groups got something of negotiations started."

 No.763080

>>763079
"Well what sounds like a real hot mess of a situation."
I look at the rest of the group.
"Who do we like the least again? The necromancer dark one or asshole Mogao?"

 No.763081

>>763075
>>763079
"Mhm," Deadweight hums with a nod. "Say, do you happen to have a map of the place, or know where we can find one?"

 No.763082

>>763080
"Neither's really preferable," Deadweight says.

 No.763083

>>763079
"Indeed sir."
I will nod my agreement before looking at Conflagration to respond.
>>763080
"I would believe neither, but the Necromancer yet called us to action through trickery as Mogao already has. Even now our allies and acquaintances have been injured by the controlled machines."

 No.763084

>>763079
I mean if its genuine negotiations then that's good… If its some kind of trick… I'm scared.

>>763082
"Well one might make us skeletons. So that's not great."

 No.763085

>>763084
"That's true," Deadweight says, poking the air with her hoof.

 No.763086

>>763085
"Though Mogao is kinda… Jerky. So he's not fun either. The ironcastle guys are cool though."

 No.763087

>>763083
>>763082
>>763080
>>763084
The others start a concord voice chat to discuss this outside the Janitor's hearing.

>"Let's review what the two have done so far," Cautaa says. "The Necromancer seemed intent on inducting the Ironcastle investigation forces into his undead thralls."

>"And he froze me in ice," Huitlapan complains.
>"But Mogao was bein' a total creepo toward Ruby!" Xu says. "And he tried to brick our comps, and he attacked Sapphire!"
>"Get him! Drag him!" Sapphire joins in. "…But more to the point, Firmgold's correct. Mogao was orchestrating fake shootouts between the security bots and the floating machines, two Floors above us. These injured many of your comrades. He was probably trying to thin our numbers."
>"And based on what Zonshii said," Cautaa adds. "Mogao likely used one of the floating machines to capture the Knights of the Gravepyre and turn them into his own thralls."
>"I think it's fair to say we're fans of neither of the two," Huitlapan says. "But if we want to make it out of here, we'll probably have to subdue BOTH of them. The question is how."

>>763081
"'S' a library down this way," the Janitor says, pointing down the north hedge path. "The directory section there should getcha the map."

 No.763088

>>763087
I'll join in the concord conversation.
>Can we make them fight each other?

 No.763089

>>763086
Deadweight nods.

>>763087
"Thanks," Deadweight says with a casual salute before walking over to the library. When she's there, she looks at the map.

 No.763090

>>763087
>>763088
>"For the safety of our future, making them fight each other is crucial."

 No.763091

>>763088
>>763087
>I concur. Getting them to wipe each other out then cleaning up seems the safest.

 No.763092

File: 1671165558768.png (1.25 MB, 817x1041, l-8 f-4 v2 you are here.png)

>>763091
>>763090
>>763088
>"That's probably the wisest course of action," Sapphire agrees.
>"But," Cautaa interjects. "Seneschal Reprise said that several investigation members had been attacked by the Necromancer's forces and were trapped on this Floor. We should take care to rescue them while we have the chance."
>"Assuming that's not also one of Mogao's tricks," Huitlapan adds.
>"All too true," Cautaa says.

>>763089
Xu follows you to ensure you've got someone watching your back.

The hedge-path to the Library is anything but direct, but soon enough, it does take you there. The library is quite small, but it is orderly, much like the welcoming area you found earlier. The lights are also on – the generators in this district must be active.

You come to a public access terminal, and pull up map data for the Floor.

>X is the location of the janitor and the rest of the group

 No.763093

>>763092
Deadweight gives Xu a cool kid nod, seeing she has her back. She saves the map to her Magicomp, takes a cursory look around, and if she finds nothing of interest, she joins back with the group and shows them the map.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.763094

>>763092
I tap the room corresponding with number 13 on the map.
"I felt a presence in this direction. Should we look there before we go south?"

 No.763095

>>763094
Correction: I instead suggest we check out rooms 3 and 11.

 No.763096

>>763092
>"Our actions are decided then? Wonderful! First to rescue!"
I will make sure we're all together before moving to the next room

 No.763097

>>763093
As you prepare to leave with Xu, you stop and glance about. A strange presence stirs the air – like tiny ripples in otherwise placid water. The source is somewhere just south of the library.

 No.763098

>>763092
"I shall follow the group."

 No.763099

Seeing that Deadweight is not here
>>763094
"Yes we should, Sir Conflagration."

 No.763100

>>763097
Deadweight squints at the uncanny feeling, then she leaves the room and joins back with the others.

>>763094
After sending the map to the Concord group chat, Deadweight happens to join back with the group right when Conflagration suggests they check out rooms 3 and 11. "Sounds good," she says as she saunters in.

 No.763101

>>763100
>>763099
>>763098
>>763096
>going to the library area by post-game discussion

After Deadweight rejoins you, she stops you before you can go on towards the east. As she gives you the map data, she brings up the faint presence she noticed near the vicinity of the library. Reminded of the presence you felt to the north earlier, you decide to investigate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDG-84WgGUc

After reaching the library, you poke around and find two eastbound side-doors, which open to another hedge-lined path that leads south, then east. Now, even without focusing overmuch, you can feel something off. It is soundless, but the feeling it evokes within is like listening to a binaural tone for an extended period – a tad unsettling, though not altogether unpleasant.

You follow the sensation to its source, only to find a dead-end. There are a few chairs and an umbrella here – in the old days, it might have been a little hideaway for readers or library staff who wanted a quiet break.

The source of the strange sensation is somewhere around here, but isn't immediately obvious.

>roll perception up to twice, take higher

 No.763102

>>763101
[2d10] Perception

Roll #1 7, 4 = 11

 No.763104

>>763101
>Perception
[2d10]

Roll #1 9, 2 = 11

 No.763166

>>763101
Lost scanned the area to the best of her ability.

[2d10] Perception

Roll #1 10, 2 = 12

 No.763167

>>763101
I'll poke around and see what I find.
[2d10]

Roll #1 8, 1 = 9

 No.763168

>>763166
>>763104
On the table in the reading nook – is a really rare trading card! It depicts a saint of the Abbey, a diamond dog lady who could work miracles unattributable to the powers of magic or technology… You recognize her from history courses – Deadweight's from her education as a knight, and Lost Hope, from her education under the tutelage of Lady Offbeaten Path.

But… that's just the issue.

You shouldn't recognize her.

This is an Agatecastle saint, a place believed to have been destroyed since time immemorial. You are Iron Souls, separated from this place by thousands of miles of inhospitable terrain… yet this saint is quite recognizable to you… Well, mostly, anyway. She doesn't look quite like you recall in the history books. Slight differences in her height, the tone of her fur… still, a near-doppelganger…

>>763167
>>763102
>>763104
>>763166
You soon discover a paradoxical curiosity, at the back of the reading nook, where small trees close off the space between the nook and a high stone wall. The trees at the back are clumped closely together – in a way that should be flat-out impossible. Branches are passing through one another, even passing into the trunks of the trees adjacent to them, like models in a computer game that lack collision. These branches even clip into the wall behind them.

"An illusion, perhaps?" Cautaa whispers as he leans in and studies the visual oddity.

"But I cannot sense any magic here," Huitlapan says. "A strange presence, to be sure, but not that of magical energy."

"Maybe a hologram or somethin'," Xu hazards.

 No.763169

>>763168
"We are well within the territory of Mogao and the Necromancer, each with their own power on display. Are we to interact with this oddity or find our compatriots?"

 No.763170

>>763168
"Hmm. I've got a trick that worked with that fake crowd of ponies earlier. Maybe it'll work again?"
I orient myself facing the clipping trees, close my eyes, and trot in their direction.

 No.763171

>>763168
This whole place… it's like a broken mirror version of what I know…" she said with a shiver. She moves to the table to pick the card up.

 No.763172

>>763168
Deadweight picks up the trading card and studies it with a look of disbelief. She puts it in her bag.

>>763170
"What are you doing?!" Deadweight exclaims.

 No.763173

>>763171
After Lost has a look at the card, Deadweight gestures to look at the card herself. "It's uncanny," she says in reply as she studies the card. She then puts it in her bag.

 No.763174

>>763172
>>763171
You retrieve the card. Despite its strange location and unsettling content, it seems to be a genuine physical object. Pretty good quality card stock, too. Would be a nice curio in other circumstances.

>>763172
>>763171
>>763169
>>763170
As Conflagration walks towards the clipping trees, he meets absolutely no physical resistance, walking through them as though they were no more than a fog. Further he goes, until the tip of his snout reaches the wall. His nose passes through, but at this point, the passage slows. The wall possesses a certain viscous quality, putting up some, but not much resistance.

Yet, assuming Conflagration chooses to press on, he is able to do so. After about a foot of resistance, he feels his movements are free again. He must be through the stone wall, and his eyes are closed.

Those of you still in this reality see that Conflagration has disappeared about halfway into the wall, confirming that this reading nook, by whatever mechanism, is hiding something beyond it. Your allies are stunned, but fascinated.

 No.763175

>>763174
"Oh my. Mister Conflagration! Can you hear us over there!?"

 No.763176

>>763174
Keeping my eyes closed, I'll type them out a Concord message to let them know I'm safe.
>nkmlczxvdiour3e4ipocdfxzgr,m.wesdoui934oijwqhi54

 No.763177

>>763174
Lost decided to follow, closing her eyes and trying to follow Conflagration by sound.

 No.763178

>>763175
"Sure can!"

 No.763179

I look at the message on Concord and pace in place.
>>763178
"Oh! Wonderful! Your message is… jumbled, what do you see in there??"

 No.763180

>>763174
"No threats? Take a good look," Deadweight shouts to Conflagration. She gets a Concord notification and sees the gibberish he sent, and she shakes her head.

 No.763181

>>763179
"Nothing! My eyes are still closed. It's hard to type like this."

 No.763182

>>763177
Deadweight puts a hoof in front of Lost. "Wait till Conflagration confirms it's safe."

 No.763183

>>763181
"Open your eyes!" Deadweight says. You can hear her rolling her eyes from the tone of her voice.

 No.763184

>>763183
>>763174
I open them up. What do I see?

 No.763185

>>763175
>>763177
>>763179
>>763180
The initial garbled Concord message clearly disturbs your allies, already imagining some terrible fate having gobbled up Conflagration's front half beyond the strange boundary– but his voiced reply reassures them.

>>763184
When your eyes open, your body almost immediately forces them back closed, a reflex triggered by a deluge of visual information. You will them open once more…

https://youtu.be/cloOIj2ApLY

…and behold a kaleidoscope of reality. There is an arcade pathway before you, buildings on either side. That is all that is consistent. As you move your eyes this way and that, the image shifts, like a lenticular picture. When you look one way, you see pedestrians walking about, running errands, chatting at a cafe, catching up with old friends. When you look the other way, the pedestrians disappear, and on the other side of the pathway, you see similarly mundane sights. Pigeons pecking about; mendicant priests collecting alms for the needy; delivery drivers on lightcycles.

You can see a distant light at the end of the pathway, but it is blurry, and unclear how far away it might be.

 No.763186

>>763185
"It's kind of like that mall, or whatever it was! Lots of things and people that I don't think are really there! Or maybe they're real and not here, but I think it's the same for us either way! There's a light at the end of this street that looks like it might be important!"

 No.763187

>>763185
>>763186
"Hmm," Deadweight hums. "Try coming back to this side," she says.

 No.763188

>>763187
>>763185
I carefully walk backwards without looking behind me instead of turning around.
"Has anyone got a rope or something? I don't know if the way in is visible from this side but I've sort of got the feeling it won't be! This entire place has been screwy for a while now!"

 No.763189

>>763185
Lost opened her eyes finally, having realized that she had not gone into the wall.

 No.763190

>>763189
>>763188
>>763187
>>763186
As Conflagration asks for a rope, Cautaa, Huitlapan, and Xu all withdraw some from their bags. Seeing that they all came quite prepared, they give eachother nods of quiet, stoic affirmation.

They get caught up in nodding for a bit.

When the nodding's done, they tie the rope lengths together and offer them to Conflagration.

 No.763191

>>763190
>>763190
"Thanks. Let's see if keeping my eyes open works."
When I walk into the visual glitch this time around I keep my eyes open.

 No.763192

>>763190
>>763188
I watch as Conflagration readies another trip in.
"Perhaps you should ready for an attack, now, to avoid catastrophe. Mister Caonflagration."

 No.763193

>>763190
Lost got ready to help with the rope where needed.

 No.763194

>>763192
"Ehhh. I can always explode after I get attacked."

 No.763195

>>763194
Perception.
[1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.763196

>>763194
>>763192
>>763193
>>763195
You take good hold of one end of the rope, while Conflagration keeps hold of the other. He steps back into the dimension on the other side of the wall.

>>763191
As you pass through the trees and wall with open eyes, your vision is briefly disturbed by a blue light, which you did not see last time, since you passed through the wall entire with your eyes shut. You see that it is quite similar to the distant light. These lights most likely mark the gateways to and from this strange dimension. The gateway-light is roughly a diamond in shape. The light churns, coagulates and breaks apart near the center, and at times, you see something like an image of a heart, in the shapes it forms. A diamond containing a heart – this is the common symbol of the Abbey.

You look about, and see flying machines – the parasitic machines Zonshii identified as "Angels" – patrolling overhead. They are distant, and few in number, travelling either alone or alongside only one other. This is the fewest you've seen; normally they seem to prefer traveling in great numbers, so that they resemble clouds. If this dimension can be thought of as their home turf, something has occupied a great number of their species elsewhere. This place should be safe enough for now, if you make no disturbance.

 No.763197

>>763196
I send back another Concord message.
>There's a few Angels up above. Nobody make a fuss.

 No.763198

>>763196
>>763197

"Oh dear…"

 No.763199

>>763196
>>763197
Deadweight puts her muzzle near her claymore, ready for things to go awry.

 No.763254

>>763196
I keep my grip on the rope and watch behind us.

 No.763340

>>763254
>>763199
>>763198
>>763197
However, none of these so-called "Angels" seem to take notice of Conflagration. The few which are about make for distant sources of blue, diamond-shaped light – presumably, the gateways leading back from this strange subspace, into the reality which you are more accustomed to…

…though, which reality may be the more genuine, is a question yet unanswered.

 No.763341

>>763340
Lost seemed to be just waiting

 No.763342

>>763340
"Perhaps we should pull him back."
After waiting for awhile I will speak into Concord's voice chat
"Mister Conflagration it's difficult to hear you, perhaps you should return so we can move as a group once more."

 No.763358

>>763340
I back out if the strange space and rejoin the group.

 No.763360

>>763199
>>763340
>>763341
>>763342
"The angels were all headed away. I think if we keep our heads down we'll be fine in there."

 No.763361

>>763360
"In there as in we follow them?"

 No.763362

>>763360
>>763358
>>763342
>>763341
Cautaa, Xu and Huitlapan all look relatively apprehensive at this assessment of the strange space. But soon enough, curiosity gets the better of Xu, and she approaches the dimensional rift.

>"Put me into Cautaa's Comp before you start peering into alternate dimensions!" Sapphire protests.

"He'd just plug you into one of his dating sims," Xu counters.
Cautaa sputters but cannot quite muster himself to deny the accusation.
"Join mine," Huitlapan says. "The worst that would befall you there is facing me in chess."

 No.763363

>>763362
"I'll take you if you want Sapphire. you'd pretty much have free reign."

 No.763364

>>763361
"Or poke around and see what's up."

>>763362
"I hardly use mine."

 No.763367

>>763362
>>763364
I take a deep breath and make sure my helmet is secured.
"Right, perhaps they'll lead us to Mountain and the rest."

 No.763370

>>763360
>>763362
Deadweight gently nods at what Conflagration says, and she slowly proceeds through the dimensional rift with her guard up.

 No.763374

>>763364
>>763363
>"You must fight over the honor of me becoming your desktop mascot," Sapphire decides. Huitlapan arches an eyebrow at the two of you. His hand rests upon a pocketknife.

>>763367
>>763370
>>763364
>>763363
Assuming you all proceed into the dimensional rift, you undergo a brief disorientation, followed by a re-stabilization. You can see the world as described in these posts:

>>763185
>>763196

The light at the far end of this arcade corridor remains visible.

 No.763376

>>763374
"Well his is probably pretty melted from exploding, mines nice and secure."

 No.763378

>>763374
>>763376
"Mine's mostly fireproof. It's made of Nokium."
I trot towards the light at the end of the arcade.

 No.763462

test

 No.763463

>>763374
>>763378
Deadweight follows Conflagration. She keeps her eyes peeled for anything too out of the ordinary.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.763464

>>763374
I will study the heart/light thing as I follow Conflagration.

 No.763465

>>763376
>>763378
>>763463
>>763464
>"Nokium, huh?" Sapphire asks. "Changed my mind, I'm going with Conflagration. I could beat somebody senseless with a Nokium chassis."
"Now hold on," Xu asks, mulling the logistics. "How would you move the magicomp?"
>"Get a little closer and I'll show ya."
Xu gulps.

As your allies exchange such banter, you examine the world about you. Ever-shifting, nothing remains constant here, like watercolors exposed to rain, like sand and snow, worn away by wind. These specters of Agatecastle fade in and out, trading forms with others by the minute. The iconography of the Abbey remains visible in the twin blue lights, awaiting at either end of the corridor.

As Deadweight looks about, she nearly double-takes time and again– as souls she recognizes mingle among the Agatecastle ghosts. No friends nor family, but simply passerby, distinctive enough in appearance or stature to be somewhat more memorable than all the others one crosses by on city streets, seen once, and never encountered again. Yet now these passerby have followed her into this peculiar realm, inside of Agatecastle, in defiance of time and space…

In time, you reach the other end of the arcade corridor, where a blue icon floats, awaiting your touch.

 No.763466

>>763465
I will walk forward and scan the icon
[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.763467

>>763465
Using my tried and tested method of exploring alternative realities, I close my eyes and walk into the blue icon.

 No.763468

>>763376
>>763464
>>763465
>>763466
Deadweight squints at the figures she spies.

When they reach the end of the corridor, she asks the group, "So, uh, we gonna boop it?"

 No.763469

>>763465
Awwww."

 No.763470

File: 1674791437848.png (1.49 MB, 1331x1040, L-8 F-4 v3.png)

>>763469
Sapphire floods your inbox with no shortage of heart, kissy-face and related emoticons. Seems she's not as into the modern emoji of Ironcastle.

>"I also take commissions for ASCII art," Sapphire adds to the narration.


>>763466
Your comp, as with all Magicomps registered to those few permitted to leave Ironcastle on missions, comes equipped with an index of knowledge, collected from countless prior expeditions into the Outlands. Scanner functions pull the entries in the index most relevant to the scanned object, and create new entries for new oddities.

Normally.

When you scan the blue icon, your screen is awash with a number of apparent junk files, most of them nothing but mosaics of other entries. It looks like the relevant files for this blue icon were deliberately overwritten… by someone with a less-than-thorough approach to redacting material.

You have a recovery program on your comp, as well. With a little luck, it might be able to restore these files.

>>763467
>>763468
>>763469
Conflagration (and anyone who chooses to follow him) passes through the blue light, and once beyond it, surfaces back into the more grounded reality of before.

You find yourself in the remains of an arboretum. On either side of you are displays of rare plants, hidden behind protective reinforced glass panels, and marked by display placards. The path ahead curves to the right after a short distance.

According to your maps, you've teleported no short distance – to the opposite side of this area, in fact.

 No.763471

>>763470
Lost remained in place for a bit, seeing if she could take another path.

 No.763472

>>763466
>>763470
"What's it say?" Deadweight asks Firmgold, not having crossed the threshold.

 No.763473

>>763470
>>763472
"I believe these are overwritten files that I may have to work on restoring.. If sir Conflagration reports back nothing then we may be safe to traverse over as well."
I will pass through the blue light and get to copying these files before using a recovery app

 No.763474

>>763470
>>763473
Deadweight nods and follows her through the blue light.

 No.763475

>>763470
"Well this is strange."
I send a message with my discovery to the others then head off out of the room.

 No.763476

>>763471
>>763472
>>763473
>>763475
As you proceed through the arboretum's maze-like displays, you soon reach a junction, with one branch zig-zagging north, and the other, turning due south (towards Room 14).

It's not long before you sense a great tension in the air, coming from the southwest. Through the glass of the arboretum's displays, you see glimpses of Angel-clouds. But, rather than patrolling in constant movement, as others have been, these ones are clumped up, in a tight defensive formation. You cannot see from here what they are guarding, if anything, but they are, down to the last of them, facing south. None of them can see you from here– heading southeast, or circling around them to the north, would keep you in their blind spot.

 No.763477

>>763476
Lost opts to go north

 No.763478

>>763476
I will check the progress of my backing-up on these files.
"Odd, they look to be defending something. Perhaps someone? I cannot see whoever very clear."

 No.763479

>>763476
>>763477
>>763478
"Let's not get too close," Deadweight says. She follows Lost to the north.

 No.763480


 No.763481

>>763478
The restoration continues at a smooth enough pace, but the entries are not yet usefully legible. You do see that the filenames all include a similar refrain:

"The Castle-Seed"

There isn't enough of the restored files to determine what is meant by either term yet…

>>763477
>>763478
>>763479
>>763480
You follow the arboretum's northward path, until you reach another junction. To the south is another path leading to room 14, while to the west, you see a long corridor stretching away into the distance, before it bends south.

You can also sense a subtle vibration, of a disturbance nearby…

 No.763482

>>763481
Deadweight's ears flick at the sensation, and her eyes dart around, looking for anything amiss.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.763483

Lost also begins to scan the area for threats.

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.763484

>>763481
I will have the copied files moved to Steadfast's magicomp so we don't lose these in case of further corruption.

>>763482
>>763483
"I take it we're to leave these Angels alone? Perhaps west-long is our preferred choice."

 No.763485

>>763481
Another disturbance? I start pressing against walls looking for another weird portal.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.763486

>>763484
"Yeah, let's go west," Deadweight answers.

 No.763487

>>763485
>>763484
>>763483
>>763482
You head down the west corridor for a time, until about halfway through, when Conflagration slows, and notices something. Three vending machines are grouped together on the south side of the western corridor. Despite everything Agatecastle has been through, these vending machines are well-stocked, and in good condition. A kind of anomaly in itself.

Conflagration feels his attention drawn to the vending machine in the middle. It vends various kinds of drinks. No soda, only fruit- and vegetable-based beverages here.

And perhaps, more than that…

 No.763488

>>763487
Lost decided to take this time to try and slip into the shadows and camouflage.

[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.763489

>>763487
I seek the forbidden V8 blend of fruits and veggies.
[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.763490

>>763487
Deadweight takes a look at the vending machines herself. Anomaly or not, she could go for a drink.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.763492

>>763490
>>763489
>>763488
As you examine the machines… the less sure you are that they dispense anything but mysteries. Most of the drink icons are little more than cylindrical smears of colors and typography. The "letters" on the cans can barely be called that. They're more like squiggles that don't seem to match any known languages recorded in your Comps' research indexes.

You note that three of the buttons are more worn-down than the others.

"And I'll bet they don't even use real sugar…" Xu mutters.

"With magic, I could attempt to force the machines to reveal their purpose to us," Cautaa posits. "But, doing so may risk security finding us. It's that or try to puzzle out a combination, if that's what these worn-down buttons suggest. What say you?"

 No.763493

>>763492
"Let's try and figure out the combination first."
Can I see anything else on the machine or buttons that indicate what the combination is, if there is one?
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.763494

>>763492
>>763493
"I've not come across many of these on my home level, perhaps interacting with it using your memory of having used one before would help?"

 No.763495

>>763492
Lost opts to investigate the machines as well.

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.763496

>>763492
>>763493
Deadweight squints at the unintelligible markings.

"Let's try figuring this thing out first. Looks easy enough, just three buttons."

 No.763497

>>763494
>>763496
>>763493
>>763495
>3, 3
>rule of dubs

As you look into the machines themselves, you notice that all of them are fully-stocked save for the middle one. And, the middle one is fully-stocked, save for three drinks. "Lawn Clipping" Lemonade, Tomato Drank (sic), and A Vague Sense of Ease. The glare on the glass makes it hard to see, but it looks like there are different quantities of each drink.

"What… even goes into that last one?" Huitlapan wonders.

"Steal one and taste it," Xu suggests.

"After we finish the puzzle," Cautaa insists.

 No.763498

>>763497
"…This actually a puzzle?" Deadweight looks around at her surroundings to try to find a clue.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.763499

>>763497
Is there a mathematical ratio to the remaining drinks of each type?
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.763500

>>763497
"Ah, unfortunately I spent all my shillings and I don't believe this machine will take makeshift currency either. Perhaps we should continue?"

 No.763501

>>763497
Lost opted to hit the lemonade button.

 No.763502

>>763498
>>763499
>>763500
>>763501
Conflagration notes that there are 5 of the Lemonades, 4 of the Tomato Dranks, and 3 Vague Senses of Ease.

When Lost Hope hits the button for the lemonade, nothing happens. Though, it seems that button is more worn down than the other two…

 No.763503

>>763502
"So if there's more of a drink that means the button would be pressed less, right?"

 No.763504

>>763502
>>763503
That makes sense." she hit one of the sodas on another machine

 No.763505

>>763502
>>763503
>>763504
"Yeah, maybe it's supposed to be hit twice, like it's a four… drink combination."

 No.763506

>Perception
[1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.763507

>>763504
>>763502
Lost also looked around for clues
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.763508

>>763506
>>763505
>>763504
>>763503
There might be something to Conflagration's theory… it looks like a full stock of a certain drink means 8 cans in the row. In other words – 3 Lemonades are missing, 4 Tomatos are missing, and 5 Vagues are missing.

 No.763509

>>763508
"Do we have to hit twelve buttons?" Deadweight exclaims.

 No.763510

>>763508
>>763509
"Nah, we gotta be overthinking this. Let's look around more," Deadweight says in a huff, not wanting to admit that she's too dumb to figure out the puzzle, if there is one. She walks off in an arbitrary direction and keeps looking around.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.763511

>>763508
I don't have any money on myself but I will press the button for a Vague Sense of Ease

 No.763512

>>763508
Lost his the lemonade 3 times, the tomato 4, and the other one 5 as she felt like it might work.

 No.763513

>>763512
>>763511
>>763510
>>763509
As Lost puts in a combination, of sorts… the rightmost of the three vending machines changes its appearance. The shimmering blue light, the heart inside the diamond, appears on the outside of every drink. They warble and shine in unison.

Cautaa experimentally extends a bit of measuring tape to the glass of the rightmost vending machine, and the end of the tape passes right through the glass. "Hmm. Well-done," he says to Lost. "Another path forward lies just ahead now."

Xu glances with curiosity to the other two vending machines. "Wonder why only that one changed…"

 No.763514

>>763513
I'll poke my head through and see what's on the other side.

 No.763515

>>763513
>>763512
Noticing something happening to the vending machines, Deadweight turns back. "Good goin', Lost," Deadweight says to her with a smirk


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