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From Out of a Dream [Quest]

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  • Originally posted by wonderandawe View Post
    Find Nuo and then with her help look for a healer.
    I will go with this

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    • Look for a healer.
      Nuo? Too much of a pain; too many questions and not so good at taking direction.

      EDIT: What happened to Reaching Fist?


      Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
      An Exalt is never unarmed.

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      • Healer or Nuo, whichever we find signs of first.

        We're not the same person we were when last we saw her; I wonder if she's changed as well? If not, well, our memories of her are hardly all bad.

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        • You settle on trying to find Nuo, first. A friend1 who knows the city better than you do will make your search much easier.

          As it turns out, finding Nuo is not easy to begin with. You spend the rest of the day asking questions and getting nowhere. You ask merchants, street toughs, patrolling guards, beggars, thieves, innkeepers, and legal counselors about her. No one knows her name, or any aliases you guess2, and no one recognizes the description you provide. Bribes do not help, and neither do threats. Everyone you ask eventually confesses ignorance or blows you off.

          Finally, you run out of patience. You settle your mare at a livery stable and yourself at a cheap hostel called The Weary Traveler. It is worn-looking, narrow, mostly wooden two-story building that is cast into shadow by the establishments around it. The inside is warm and friendly, if a little small. The proprietor gives you some kind of unidentifiable mash of ground up meat and chunks of vegetable for dinner and sets you up in a little bedroom upstairs. When the sun goes down and you have nothing left to do but wait for tomorrow, you turn in. You rest uneasily on a mattress that you do not fit on, dreaming of wandering through maze-like streets forever.

          1
          ...If you can call her that.

          2
          Nou, the Courier, the Messenger, Sugaka's daughter, "Fish-Face"...



          Sometime during the pre-dawn hours, you are awakened by a soft scraping noise - metal being dragged over wood. This inn's doors had simple latch-locks, so as a precaution you piled your armor and some of your weapons right in the doorway. The noise comes and goes in an instant - someone tried to push the door open softly, jostled your piled equipment, and stopped.

          You wait, wondering if you just dreamed the sound up. Minutes pass, and then you hear a squeak from the window-shutters. Your hand grabs for the throwing knife you stashed under the pillow. Soft moonlight illuminates a shadowy figure with a conical hat pulling themselves up and into the room, as quiet as any thief you know.

          There is the tiniest pause, and then you turn over to get into a better throwing position. Unfortunately, you roll onto your injured side and let out an involuntary hiss. The shadowy figure turns towards you. You recover yourself, fling the knife, and watch it spin through the air.

          The figure tilts their head down, barely dodging. The flying blade sticks into the wall behind them. They clench their fists and smack them together, but instead of a clap you hear a sound like a smash. The figure sprouts spiny fins on their arms and calves and shifts into a martial stance. Droplets of water patter on the floor around them.

          Realization breaks through your sleep-addled mind. "Nuo!"

          The god-child takes a step closer. "Who are you? How do you know me!?" she demands.

          You sit up and inch your hand towards Water, stuck between the wall and your bed. "I saved your life, twice, not that long ago. You can't have forgotten already."

          She hesitates. "...Nergüi?"

          You stop reaching for the sword. "Yes."

          "...Otgonbayar...'a big man with braids and too many weapons.' I should have guessed it was you."

          "Who else did you expect?"

          Nuo lets out a breath, but does not relax her guard. "Things are... challenging for me right now. When I hear about armed men looking for me, the first thing I assume is 'assassins.'" She takes another step. "I haven't ruled out that possibility yet, either. Why are you here, and using a new name?"

          "It's my old name. I took it back. And I was looking for you because I need a favor." Your side twinges. "Maybe more than one."

          Nuo pauses, seeming to consider this. "And you threw a knife at me-"

          "-because you broke in. I'll forget it if you will."

          Finally, she relaxes. "...Alright. Let's start over. I'll let you sleep, and we'll talk tomorrow morning. Is that acceptable?"

          "Fine."

          "Goodnight... Otgonbayar. I'll see myself out."


          Nuo comes again the next morning when you are sitting on a bench outside the inn, finishing a breakfast on stale bread and overripe fruit. She sits down beside you without saying a word, staring at the ground between her feet.

          She has aged since you last met. The difference is subtle, but it is there. The beginnings of worry lines, slightly more tired eyes, and a gait that is a little slower. "You've changed," you think aloud.

          Nuo looks up at you and smirks. "You... haven't. You look so much the same it's scary. The only thing I know is different is that you don't smell like cheap spirits anymore."

          "...Have you been... well?"

          "Well enough. Yourself?"

          "I've been better."

          "So, what brings you to Nexus?"

          You look past Nuo at nothing in particular, thinking how to answer. "It's hard to say... I need to find the gate to heaven."

          Nuo's face turns incredulous. "What? You came all the way here for a brothel?"

          Now you turn incredulous. "I didn't say 'brothel.' What are you talking about?"

          Her mouth twists. "It's a place in Sentinel Hill..." she stops and shakes her head. “Never mind. What did you mean?"

          "I was told that, somewhere in Nexus, there is a gate I can use to get to the land of the gods. I need to find it."

          Nuo's face and tone are less incredulous and more disbelieving. "Why?"

          "...I need to meet the gods of death, and ask them a favor."

          "What favor? I thought you were already immortal."

          "Not for me - for my family. My children... aren't tied to the Wheel of Life."

          "You have children now?"

          "Yes. I... used the Stone of Making to create them. Fifty sons, and fifty daughters, to start my clan over."

          Nuo looks away. "To be clear... you need to go to heaven to plead for a hundred children you summoned with magic."

          "Yes."

          "You don't say."

          "I said it. You don't believe me?"

          "...I do, but I don't." Nuo looks away. "It's like something out of a legend. I've never heard of anyone real... anyone I know... trying something like what you are doing. But then, these are strange times, I suppose."

          "Can you help me?"

          She looks up into the sky, cloudy with smog from the city. "...maybe I can. If I had to guess, I'd say that what you're looking for is in the hollows." Nuo turns back to you. "This city is old. So old, it's been rebuilt on top of itself many times. Sometimes, people digging basements for themselves or sinkholes in the streets open up caves or catacombs underground, where the ruins of past Nexus are. There's old magic down there - ancient cursed tombs and stranger things. I don't know exactly that there is a gate to heaven or where it would be, but that's where I'd look."

          "Hmm," you reply.

          "I could find you a guide, but first you'd have to do something for me."

          "Of course."

          "Recent events..." she pauses to grimace, then continues.”...have left me short of people and funds. But the situation in Nexus right now gives me an opportunity recoup my losses and come out stronger than before."

          "What do you want?" you cut in.

          "A heist job. You'll need to do some wet work to make way for me and a few friends to acquire some cargo. There is a chance it could be dangerous, even for you, but if we succeed..."

          She trails off and gives you a meaningful look.

          How do you follow up?
          • Ask about a healer. If you're going to do any fighting, you should be in as good a shape as possible.
          • Ask about 'recent events.' You'd like to know more about what Nuo has been up to and how she's doing.
          • Ask about 'the situation in the city'. What's happening in Nexus?
          • Ask for more detail about the job. When does she want to do this? Where? How much opposition is there? What makes it more dangerous than anything else you do?
          • Something else?


          On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

          Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

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          • Ask about a healer and then details on the rest.


            Share your wonders in The Artifact and Evocation Workshop

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            • Find a healer and ask about the job.


              I write things.

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              • Healer first, job second, then why is she suddenly a thief?

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                • Top four, in that order. We don't need money at the moment, but we like to know what we are doing.

                  If all four is too much, 1 then 4, Healer and about the job.

                  Maybe it would help to show her Daddy's present, or has everybody forgotten the Pearl of Great Price?


                  Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
                  An Exalt is never unarmed.

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                  • Originally posted by L'het'esh View Post
                    Top four, in that order. We don't need money at the moment, but we like to know what we are doing.

                    If all four is too much, 1 then 4, Healer and about the job.

                    Maybe it would help to show her Daddy's present, or has everybody forgotten the Pearl of Great Price?
                    Yes, this. Ten.

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                    • "I can do it," you answer carefully, "but first I need you to do something for me."

                      Nuo frowns. "What is it?"

                      "I need a healer - a good one." You raise your left arm and point at the punctures in your brigandine. "I took a wound on my way here that won't heal. I think it's poisoned."

                      She sucks air through her teeth. "Is it serious?"

                      "Don't know. I've had it for days, but I'm not dead yet. Even so, I'd rather not fight with it."

                      Nuo puts a hand to her forehead. "I know someone. She isn't cheap, but she should be able to help. Shall we go now?"

                      "Yeah."

                      Both of you slowly rise to your feet. Nuo starts walking away, and you start to follow her. As you go, you notice a couple people detach themselves from the morning traffic and start trailing along behind you.

                      "So tell me about the job. What are we getting? Who's guarding it?" you ask, deliberately not turning to look behind you.

                      "It's a warehouse in Nighthammer," she says quietly, businesslike. "Full of processed food - rations. The Bronze Pioneers are on it. Ten armed men, last I checked, but there might be more now."

                      "Professionals?"

                      "More so than most in this city."

                      "So, what, I kill them all and you take the food?"

                      "I'd rather you just drove them off, but that's about the size of it."

                      "That doesn't sound so bad - not for me, anyway."

                      Nuo grunts. "The mercenaries aren't what concerns me. We have to be more careful not to draw attention from the Emissary."

                      "Who's that?"

                      Nuo glances at you and makes one of her self-satisfied smirks. "You really haven't been here long. The Emissary is... an enforcer for the powers that be in Nexus. People who break the Dogma - what passes for law in Nexus - find themselves hunted down by assassins, or worse. If you're a big offender, the Emissary might even show up in person and make you eat your own two-legged sword."

                      "...What?"1

                      "That's what I heard. Anyway, the point is people who egregiously break the Dogma turn up dead. The rules are flexible in Nexus, but if you do more than bend them you need to be ready for the worst. And the rules forbid disrupting trade or wanton slaughter... both of which we might do."

                      You turn a corner and take the opportunity to discreetly look back at your two tails. You soon find both of them, moving along like they have somewhere important to be.

                      "Nuo," so say, softly. "We're being followed."

                      "How many?" she answers, eyes straight ahead.

                      "Two."

                      "They're both mine. Don't worry about it."

                      "...Oh."

                      You continue on in silence for a while until you join a mass of people passing through an improvised checkpoint. A wooden fence has been laid across the street, and guards on scaffold towers watch the people passing below with suspicion. On the ground, two of them stop each person passing by and ask them to show papers.

                      You and Nuo refrain from conversation as you go down the line, eventually getting your turn to show papers and pass. Once you're through and have gone a little further down the street, Nuo stops you so her two followers can catch up. When they, too, have passed through the checkpoint, it is time to move on.

                      "Why are you doing this?" you wonder aloud. "I never figured you would risk death for food."

                      "It's not for me. It's for the people outside the walls." Nuo looks at you sharply. "You must have seen them, if you came from the east."

                      "The folk in the shantytown? What about them?"

                      "They are mostly refugees, and they're starving. Some rations could do them a lot of good."

                      "Is this charity? You said you'd get something from this."

                      "I do get something. I get goodwill and, more than likely, loyalty." She sets her jaw. "Nexus takes desperate people, chews them up and spits them out. Well, I think I can raise them up, and rise with them."

                      "You're building a gang from the city's castoffs?"

                      "I'm building a gang, sure. I hope to finish with much, much more."

                      1
                      Never heard that one before.


                      Nuo stops, and you stop too. She has led you to a small but well-kept shop set into the wall of Nexus' establishments. Red wood frames white stucco and little windows with plants set into them. A sign hanging out over the street reads "Marvelous Ginseng - Medicine and Surgery". There is a picture of a golden root on beneath the words.

                      "This is it," says Nuo, just to make things clear. She goes in first and holds the door for you. You hear a bell ring.

                      There is a strong smell of ginger inside the shop. Lots of other herbs too, but the ginger is almost overwhelming. Rows of jars with leaves or roots or dried stems are stacked on shelves lining the walls. Several potted plants sit under the front windows or a mirrored portal in the ceiling. Everything is spotless, even the floor around the plants. Towards the back is a floor-to-ceiling cabinet with dozens of tiny drawers.

                      Nuo shuts the door, and the bell above it rings again. A mousey-looking woman with dull brown hair, dull brown eyes, and a dull brown apron comes through a doorway beside the great cabinet.

                      "Good morning, welcome to Marvelous Ginseng," she chirps, cheerily. "Ah, Nuo! How are you feeling? Did your stitches come out alright?"

                      "I'm fine, thank you," answers Nuo. "I brought you another patient. Otgonbayar, this is Mistress Bo."

                      "What's your trouble, Master Otgonbayar?" asks Bo, stumbling a little over the name.

                      "I have..." you grimace. “It’s easier if I show you."

                      Bo maintains a practiced smile. "Very well. Please, come into the back." Bo leads you into the room she came from. This small chamber is as clean as the front. More shelves line the walls, these loaded with a variety of small bottles. A stove with a boiling pot sits in one corner, and in the middle is large rectangular stone table, polished smooth.

                      Nuo follows you in. Bo looks from you to her, and you shrug. Without further ado, you start to pull off your brigandine and undershirt.

                      Both women stare at your wounds. A spider web of purple veins spreads from each of the buboes, covering much of your upper chest. "Godsblood, Nergüi," exclaims Nuo, softly.

                      Bo gives a low whistle. "Graverot venom! I'm impressed you're still standing, Master Otgonbayar. Please, have a seat on the table."

                      You slide yourself onto the cold stone. Bo raises your left arm and leans in for a closer look. "It looks like... three puncture wounds. Is that all?"

                      You nod. Bo releases your arm, steps back, and puts a hand to her chin. "Injuries of this kind," she says, "are treated by lancing the buboes. We drain the pus out, along with as much bad blood as we can. Then we cauterize the affected areas, stitch shut the cuts, and apply a poultice to stop any swelling." She lowers her hand. "It is, as you might guess, somewhat risky and very painful. I am afraid I will need to ask for payment in advance."

                      You start to open your mouth to ask for your bags, but Nuo speaks first. "I am covering this, Bo."

                      Bo nods. "Good. I can also give you something for the pain, for a minor fee."

                      This time you get the first word in. "I have something. Nuo, hand me that satchel."

                      Nuo raises an eyebrow, picks up your bag from the floor, and passes it to you. You dig through it for the tincture the last healer gave you. Bo blinks, staring at the bottle as you pull it out. "Excuse me, what is that?"

                      "Mostly liquor and opium," you reply absently. Then, before anyone can stop you, you chug down half the bottle. Almost immediately you start to feel dizzy. You lie back on the chilly table and cover your eyes with your left arm.

                      You are neither asleep nor unconscious, but the next few hours feel like an unpleasant dream. It feels like your left side burns, then freezes, then burns again. Then you are swimming in your own sweat, and strange colors flash against your eyelids. For a while it feels like you are floating, and you have an urge to turn yourself over and throw up. Indistinct voices chant something. Cold hands grip your shoulders, stopping you from moving. Soon the nausea passes, but you cannot stop shivering. Something lifts your legs and you imagine you are caught in a net. Your head is on fire.

                      When you come to your senses, you realize you are out in the open air. Two people are carrying you, one gripping you under the shoulders and the other your legs.

                      “Left! Left!” hisses one of them. It’s an unfamiliar man’s voice. The other one answers with a string of profanities, also in an unfamiliar man’s voice.

                      “Here! In here!” calls Nuo, somewhere ahead of you. You hear the creak of a rusty gate.

                      Your vision starts to come into focus – the two men are carrying you through a doorway into a dimly lit room full of sacks and boxes.

                      “Put him down gently.”

                      You are laid down against a pile of bags. From the feel of them, they contain sand. The two men step away from you, allowing you to get a good look. They are northerners, it would appear - pale skin and hair, solid frames and stoic expressions. The shorter of the two turns his head to look at the door or to listen for sounds outside the room. The other one, taller and chubbier, keeps his arms crossed and his eyes on Nuo at all times.

                      “Ah din agree ta this,” grumbles the tall one. “’S bad luck, or worse.”

                      You are still naked from the waist up. Bloody bandages cover your left side. You hurt, but it is more like the ache of a healing scar than the sharp, cold pain from before.

                      “It’s not your choice,” snaps Nuo. “I decide who we take on, and I say we need him. Riche, go out and make sure we weren’t followed. The shorter man nods and walks out the door.”

                      “Need ‘im? Lady, ‘e ‘asn’t been ‘ere a day and ‘e’s already going to get us killed.” The big man’s voice is soft, more resentful than outraged.

                      “That’s enough, Stock. If the heat is too much for you, then leave. Otherwise, shut up and pull yourself together.”

                      “Nuo…” you croak, pushing yourself up a little.

                      Nuo turns away from Stock and moves to your side. She gets down on her knees and tilts your head toward her, face full of concern.

                      “Nerg - Otgonbayar. Can you hear me.”

                      “Yes… what happened?”

                      “The surgery went well enough – Bo does good work. But you wouldn’t stop moving, and when she was nearly finished you threw her off, started yelling. Then your head began to glow and...” Nuo pauses, face twisting into a grimace. “I’m sorry. I didn’t figure her for the dragon-bothering type. But she ran out of the shop, screaming for help, and we had decide whether to chase her down or finish patching you up and escape.” Nuo looks down at the bandages. “I think moving you might have torn some of the sutures.”

                      “No, forget it, leave them,” You push away her hands. “Where’s my stuff?”

                      Nuo slings a familiar-looking satchel off her back and next to your legs. “We grabbed some of it. Your big sword and armor are still back at the shop, as far as I know.” She pauses. “Shit. We shouldn’t have given her your name. They’ll know you at the checkpoints, now.” Nuo exhales forcefully. “Did you give a false name to those people at the hostelry? Anyone else you bought something from.”

                      You shake your head. Nuo glares at you. “That was stupid, Otgonbayar. The Queen’s network is very thorough. They’ll know everywhere you’ve been by this time tomorrow.”

                      “What queen?”

                      “The Midnight Queen – it’s just a title. All she rules is a lot of informants. But she’s part of the Council, and that means the Emissary will know who you are soon.”

                      “Does their… dogma… say anything about me?”

                      “Not in so many words, but it’s part of the unwritten rules that the Council won’t tolerate threats to their power. If you’re lucky, you’ll only be followed and watched everywhere you go. If you’re not… every crowd might have someone to put a knife in your back. And if you're seen to commit any crime, the Executioners will be after you for certain.”

                      “…shit,” you reply, unsure what else to say. You badly want a drink, but something tells you that would be a bad idea. Nuo probably would not bring you one anyway.

                      “It’s a complication, but are able to deal with it,” Nuo looks over her shoulder at Stock as she says this. “We’re safe here, for now. You get some rest, heal up. We’ll do the job and get you out of Nexus… one way or another-”

                      “Wait,” you interrupt. “My supplies. My horse. What about those?”

                      Nuo stands up, brushes off her knees, and sighs. “Those are going to get lost, probably. The Queen’s people have sticky fingers.”

                      “Then we need to get to them first.” You start to stand up, feel a pulling sensation in your side, and lie back down with a scowl.

                      Nuo gives you a disapproving look. “You need to rest.” She puts a hand to her chin. “What all is there, besides what’s left in Marvelous Ginseng?”

                      “My horse, stabled… and my bags, at the hostel.”

                      “…I could get back some of the goods, maybe. I doubt there’ll be time to fetch and carry all of it, especially with all these checkpoints.”

                      You grind your teeth and think over your priorities.
                      • “Get my sword and armor.” Cleaver is your most trusted companion, and you feel naked without your brigandine. That you actually are half-naked now doesn’t help.
                      • “Get my horse.” That mare carried you thousands of miles. You won’t leave her now. What if you need her to journey on?
                      • “Get my bags.” All your food, silver, and bank notes are in there, along with anything else you couldn’t carry on yourself - including the pearl. Travel necessities, all of it.
                      • Something else?
                      Last edited by semicasual; 04-23-2016, 09:36 PM.


                      On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                      Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

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                      • Sword and armor, everything else is replaceable

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                        • Do we have the pearl still?


                          I write things.

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                          • Originally posted by wonderandawe View Post
                            Do we have the pearl still?
                            (I'm going to say... no, because I want you to suffer. }8D

                            The pearl is with your traveling supplies in the hostel, because why would you carry a fist-sized pearl on yourself if you didn't need to? And, while I'm addressing OOC items...)
                            Originally posted by L'het'esh View Post
                            Do we need swords when we have Righty and Lefty? Oh, well, can always sell the lesser pair.
                            (Those got lost. One was thrown away in a fight and the other was... warped, somehow... by the touch of Joy of Killing. Never replaced them, until now.)
                            Originally posted by L'het'esh View Post
                            EDIT: What happened to Reaching Fist?
                            (I forgot it. In my defense, you guys pretty much never want to use it. Anyway, I edited it back in.)


                            On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                            Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

                            Comment


                            • Oh, man... Cleaver, or the pearl that's a gift from an important god... that's a hard call. I can't decide.

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                              • Pearl. We need it to negotiate with the other gods for our children 's souls.


                                I write things.

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