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From Out of a Dream [Quest]

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  • I'm sorely tempted to say "surge of newfound strength," because that's how I like to roll, but Youngest Joy's probably more of an "expertise of a thousand battles" kind of guy, from what we've seen.

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    • Blessing! Yay magic powers!

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      • The realization suddenly hits you that the guardian must be a creature of spirit, and you know a few tricks for battling spirits.

        A warm, soft glow surrounds you. When you focus, you can mold and shape this aura as easily as you would wave your fingers. You will the energy to form lines, a hundred tiny hooked strands of pure spirit. Hooks and lines stick and tangle into the guardian's robes, suffusing it with your light. Then they pull upwards, hauling the soul of the guardian away. Its robes follow almost immediately after, unwinding from you and flying up into the air. You roll to your feet, try to regain your breath, and quickly take stock of your situation.Your neck feels raw, but you are not aware of any other injuries.

        The guardian 'stands' in front you you, wrapped in a net of golden light. It soundlessly struggles against its bonds, fixed into a rumpled, slightly crushed form of its human shape. Despite everything, the candles on its hat still burn.

        Reaching Fist's sickle is still in your hand. The chain leads to Nuo, standing to one side of you in her divine form, tightly gripping the weighted end. She lets go of the chain as you watch her, steps towards the guardian, curls up a scaled fist, and delivers a hard left cross to the creature's middle. There is a dull thud, like a weight hitting a mattress, and the guardian deforms slightly. Nuo hisses and the spines on her forearms flare out. She makes a flurry of arcing slices, her sharp ridges ripping and tearing at the creature's robes.

        Not to be outdone, you promptly pull in Reaching Fist, wrap up the chain, and hustle to the guardian's other side. This time, when your sickle pierces cloth, you have a sense of impact - the feel of cutting into spiritual, semisolid flesh. So you hack and slash at the guardian's corpus, timing your strikes with Nuo's to intensify the impact of each cut. You pour more of your power into your weapon, savaging the guardian's spirit with your own. Fabric, paper, and specter alike are shredded by your combined onslaught.

        When the creature finally dies it makes no sound, but blueish smoke erupts from the many cuts and holes its body. Your golden nets dissolves and the guardian collapses into a heap of tattered rags on the floor. Only then do its candles finally extinguish themselves.

        You step away from the corpse and indulge in a series of long, deep breaths. Nuo exhales, shifts back into her normal form, walks around and puts a hand on your shoulder.

        "Are you alright?" she asks, with real concern.

        "I will be," you growl without meaning to. Your throat feels thick.

        "You're still... shining, you know."

        "It'll pass."

        "Good. Godsblood, I never get used to this," declares Nuo, without warning.

        "Get used to what?"

        "Spirits. Sorcery. The supernatural." She grimaces. "It always feels like an intrusion, to me. An... imposition of something strange on how things are supposed to be."

        "Things are what they are," you shrug and rub your neck. "You're a god-child. I thought you'd get that."

        "I don't get how things are when magic gets involved. When it's only people and enterprises, all is well. I understand people and enterprises. But spiritual powers are beyond me, and being a god-child doesn't help."

        "When you change forms, isn't that magic?"

        Nuo sighs with exasperation. "It's not the same. That's a trick. A knack, a quirk. An unusual but useful talent that can give me an edge, sometimes. I didn't need to learn any mystical secrets to do it. I'm used to it."

        You shake your head. "Looks the same to me - a power only you have."

        Nuo is quiet for a time. When she speaks again, her voice has turned bitter. "I suppose that's how it looks to other people, isn't it? An accident of birth made me 'important' - everyone either wants to serve me, shun me, or use me, once they know. You're just about the only one who didn't... react... the way other people do. I suppose that's because you've got your own 'Blessing' to deal with."

        You find yourself at a loss for comments, so you say nothing.1

        Nuo looks disappointed. "Well... let's get back to work, then." She pulls away and starts walking down the aisle again, tracing the shelves with her eyes.
        • Help search. Maybe you can find something.
        • Keep watch. There might be other guardians, or someone else might come into the archive. Better keep your eyes open.
        • Pick over the guardian's tattered corpse. It's a stretch, but the dead might hold something valuable. Old habits die hard.
        • Something else?
        1
        "You're thinking too hard about this", "Why can't you just take things as they come?", and "How does this matter right now?" all feel like they would be taken badly.


        Last edited by semicasual; 06-10-2016, 06:09 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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        • Lets not forget to collect the two swords....


          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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          • Pick over the guardian's corpse and then keep watch.


            I write things.

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            • Swords, corpse, search. Quick search of the corpse, like 10 seconds.

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              • Nuo starts to pluck things from a shelf, seemingly at random. Then she steps back and sits cross-legged on the floor, spreading the collection of documents in front of her.

                You briefly pick over the guardian's corpse. Its fine robes are beyond repair, and it carried nothing else. You consider taking its weapon, but decide against it - the slicing sword would not serve you any better than the other blades you already have. Besides, you would look strange carrying a broom around, dressed as you are.

                You retrieve Fire and Water, then settle in for a long watch. Some time passes, but no other guardians or visitors to the archive appear. The basement is nearly as silent as a grave. The only noise you hear is the rustling of paper as Nuo works.

                "Now, this is interesting," say Nuo, apparently to herself.

                You peek over her shoulder at all of the books and loose sheets on the floor in front of her. "What've you found?"

                "Turns out the Gate to Heaven - brothel, not portal - has some interesting clientele." She pulls out her chalk and makes a little mark on one of the sheets. "VIPs with unusual tastes make good leverage... especially if they have outstanding debts..." she makes another mark. "Hmm. I'll need some time to go through it all, but I think there's enough to make a start."

                "Hmm," you rumble for lack of a better answer. "What about my gate?"

                Nuo starts to get up, pulls an empty bag out of her shirt, and carefully loads her findings into it. "That will be in another section," she replies. "No guarantees, but if we can find maps of the old city they might mark where your gate would be." She straightens up and walks past you into the corridor. "Should be this way, I think."

                Once again, you wander together through the aisles, scanning the signs for who-knows what. "I've been meaning to ask... how did you get stuck with graverot, of all things?" inquires Nuo, conversationally.

                "The poison?" you rumble. "Why do you want to know?"

                "Graverot is rare stuff. I'd never heard of it before the the Thorns invasion. The rumor is that the conquerers brought it with them."

                "I wouldn't know. I got it from a swamp-beast." And then you briefly relate the tale of how you wandered into a dark world and had to retrieve your horse from a bog.

                Nuo stops in the middle of the story to stare at you. When you've finished, her eyes are wide. "You just happen to walk into this ruin, then walk out into another realm... walk back in again, and come out in the realm you started from?"

                "Guess so."

                "...Madness. Five-fated madness..."

                Eventually, you find it. In the far corner of the archive, the shelves are interspersed with wooden tables, covered with glass. Many large maps are laid out between the wood and glass. All of them look extremely old - for some, the paper is practically dust, and the writing on them almost illegible. Only the little markers left on the glass tell you what the maps show and where they came from.

                Nuo scans one of the tables, then taps on the case. "Here. This one."

                The map beneath the case looks more like a diagram or plan of some kind than a picture. Tiny, barely-readable letters of gods' tongue are written around fine, clean lines that sketch out a spiderweb of blocks and connectors, split up by a curvy shape that you would guess indicates the river. The marker for this map reads "City Foundations, date unknown."

                "Do you see the gate on it?" you ask, unable to make out any such thing yourself.

                Nuo looks intently at the map and does not answer for several moments. "...Yes," she answers, finally. She rests a finger on the glass above one rectangle with a small block of test underneath it. "This reads 'Access to Yu-Shan, in the custody of Stone Lion's Roar, forbidden to the public.'"

                "Yu-Shan?"

                Nuo turns to you. "That's what I was taught was the name of the gods' holy city, ages ago. If this isn't your gate, then I don't know where else to look."

                "Hmph. That'll have to do." You rap a hand against the case. "...That old map looks it'd fall apart if I touched it. We should make a copy."

                "I'm one step ahead of you," answers Nuo, already heading toward one of the shelves. She grabs a scroll, unrolls it, sniffs, and brings it back over to the case. There she lays it out beside the foundation map and starts sketching on it with her chalk.

                It soon becomes apparent that Nuo means to copy the entire map, tiny writing and all. You lean against the case and prepare yourself for the wait.

                "Do you know, you've gotten stranger?" asks Nuo without looking up from her work.

                "...I don't know what you're talking about."

                "Trying to break into heaven so you can meet the death gods and ask for a favor is... unusual, Otgonbayar."

                "Well, that's what I have to do."

                "See, this is what I'm talking about. What you're doing is crazy. Ordinary people would never dream of trying it. Ordinary people would never have reason to try it. But here you are, on your way to becoming a living legend and acting as if it's the most natural thing in the world."

                You frown. Where is she going with this? "It's not as if I had a choice."

                Nuo gives a slight smile. "The thing is... I remember a few months back, me and Edee Liu were paying a visit to some... recalcitrant hired muscle that weren't doing the work they were hired to do. They were four big, intimidating guys who spent their time slacking off in a bar when they weren't slacking off on the job. I meant to find them in their drinking hole and rough them up a little - show my disatisfaction with their performance."

                "Uh huh..." you still do not know where she is going with this.

                "So, we get to the bar, and I tell Liu to stay back because I think the message will be clearest if I deliver it alone. He agrees, but in that way people agree when they don't want to tell you they think you're insane."

                "What, because you thought you could take on four big guys by yourself?"

                "That's what I think, yes."

                "Well, I'd guess you won. So what?"

                "It isn't about whether I would win or lose. It is about how I could even think about muscling four musclemen by myself. I didn't consider it at the time, but looking back on it I can see..." Nuo pauses, purses her lips. "...for as long as I have had power, it separated me from the people who didn't. I could do things they couldn't, and over time I got used to that - even took it for granted. That changes how I look at things, how I deal with problems."

                "Nuo, where are you going with this?" you finally ask.

                "I feel like you're as far away from me as I am from Liu." Nuo answers a little sharply. "You just... somehow find your way into problems that are beyond the ken of most people. And then you solve them with powers that are beyond the ken of most people. And I wonder..." she pauses again, and you wait for her to continue. Some time passes before she does. "...I wonder if you're eventually going to change into something that is so extraordinary you won't even be human anymore."
                • You give a short chuckle. "Heh. I'm already there." You're only half-joking. The truth is, you've been apart from everyone for almost as long as you've lived. You're almost used to it now.
                • You shake your head. "It doesn't matter... what I am. Only what I do." You were blessed for a reason - you have to believe that. Conversely, you have to believe that acting like you're just a mortal would work against your purpose.
                • "I'm still me," you reply defensively. You've done some strange things, but all for human reasons. Your 'crazy' quest is just what you have to do for your clan, your family. Who wouldn't do the same in your place?
                • Something else?

                Last edited by semicasual; 06-12-2016, 11:19 AM.


                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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                • ... Only what I do... Look at us, growing philosophical in our old age.

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                  • You shake your head. "It doesn't matter... what I am. Only what I do." How else could any man, blessed or not, be judged except by his actions?


                    I write things.

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                    • EDIT: Something Else
                      I am human enough to be worried about my children. When I drank, I was Nergui, a destroyer. It was then I was not human.
                      Last edited by L'het'esh; 06-12-2016, 10:20 PM.


                      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 wonderandawe View Post
                        You shake your head. "It doesn't matter... what I am. Only what I do." How else could any man, blessed or not, be judged except by his actions?
                        Originally posted by L'het'esh View Post
                        EDIT: Something Else
                        I am human enough to be worried about my children. When I drank, I was Nergui, a destroyer. It was then I was not human.

                        Can we combine these two?


                        I write things.

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                        • Your answer comes out slowly, but resolutely. "It doesn't matter... what I am. Only what I do."

                          Nuo pauses in her sketching to look askance at you, then gets back to work. "...I suppose that's a fair way to look at it."

                          "It's the only way to look at it," you insist. "God, man, beast - we're judged by what we do, and nothing else. So we should do the best we can."

                          Nuo chuckles. "When did you get philosophical?"

                          The question sounds rhetorical, but you still try to think of an answer. "...When I stopped drinking. Stopped... being Nergüi. Having family brings me closer to human, I guess. Gives me more reason to think. "

                          Nuo gets a thoughtful look, but makes no reply. A little while later, she finishes copying the map and you leave the archives in peace.

                          As as you walk out into the pre-dawn darkness, Nuo takes a deep breath. She turns to face you, walking backwards, and gives you an uncharacteristically broad smile. "Thank you for helping me with this. You have no idea how much this will change things."

                          "You're welcome," you answer shortly. "Now we have a map, can you bring me to the gate?"

                          Nuo's smile falters and she sighs. "Yes, we can. We could even go right now, if you're sure."

                          "I'm sure," you reply without hesitation.1

                          "You know, we work well together. I don't suppose there's anything I could do you persuade you..."

                          "No." You respond gruffly, then grimace. "Not this time... sorry."

                          "It's alright," Nuo says unconvincingly. Then she turns away. "There's a hollows-delver named Nukson. He owes me a favor. When he's not working, he's usually passing the hours at a restaurant called Hole in the Ground, in the Nexus. I'll show you the way."

                          1
                          You can't lose your nerve now...


                          The Nexus of Nexus is all shops, storefronts, and public houses everywhere you look. Here you practically walk openly, as Nuo notes "It's not so important to go unnoticed here - most people don't care what you do if you're not in their way." There are people about on business, preparing for the coming day or going home after a long night. True to Nuo's word, they uniformly ignore you.

                          Hole in the Ground looks unimpressive from the outside. It is one squat, one-story building among a collection of others bordering a small open-air marketplace, currently quiet. Unlike the rest, however, this establishment has lights in the windows and its doors are open. A modest painted wooden sign nailed above the doorway has a picture of wine pouring into a pit.

                          Inside it is warm, bright, and slightly smokey. Tables and chairs, mostly empty, surround a wide hole in the middle of the room. Nuo walks directly to a large, circular wooden staircase leading down. The steps lead down two floors, but you follow Nuo's lead and get off on the first. Here, there is more seating, fewer patrons, and one staffer going from table to table, cleaning up.

                          Nuo glances this way and that, then makes her way over to a seat in the corner where a man and a woman sit. The woman is typical for the region, average height and weight, dark hair, laborer's clothing. She is resting her head on her arms on the table, apparently asleep. The man with her is very small, thin, and bald, with the palest skin you have ever seen on a living human. He looks up at you as you approach, and blinks at you with pale red eyes.

                          "Nuo," he calls softly. with a voice both high and nasal. "Come for business, or pleasure?"

                          "Business," answers Nuo, in a businesslike fashion. "Nukson, this is Nergüi. Nergüi, Nukson. Nukson, I need you to lead Nergüi through the hollows to a gate to heaven." Nukson opens his mouth, "No, not that one," Nuo says, before he can get a word out. "This one."

                          Nuo tosses the map on the table. The tiny man unrolls it and studies for a few moments, nibbling on his lip. "Hmm. May I inquire where you found this?" he inquires.

                          "No, you cannot," responds Nuo. "Can you read it."

                          "I can read enough of it, I suppose." Nukson runs his thin fingers over the sheet. "Hmm. This looks like the old river tunnel... which would mean that this here is the black crypt. Hmm. Many passages on this map I do not recognize, likely because they no longer exist." He pauses, then snaps his fingers and looks up at Nuo. "I think I know where this is. I found it just a month ago, when I was digging through a cave-in. There is a chamber that I assumed led to another ancient tomb, reinforced in such a way as to support the city up top. But I couldn't get far inside before I felt the touch of old magic."

                          "Don't worry about that," you interject. "I can deal with any magic, if you just bring me there."

                          Nukson turns to look at you, then shrugs. "Yes, you do have that adventure-y look to you. Well, it's your funeral. When did you want to leave?"

                          "Now," you answer.

                          The little man blinks. "Very well, then." He climbs up out of his seat and calls to the cleaner. "Ord, I'm taking a client down. Would you kindly find me a feedbag? And get someone to sit with Jeolee?"

                          The serving-man grunts and walks over to the stairs. Nukson follows him, beckoning you to follow in turn. You start to go, but Nuo stops you with a look.

                          "Assuming you find what you are looking for, I suppose this is goodbye, then," she says, after a brief hesitation.

                          You answer...
                          • "I suppose so," and extend your hand. She gives you a firm handshake, and then you part ways.
                          • "Not forever," and shake your head. When this is over, you mean to come back.
                          • ...by walking away without a word. You and Nuo are finished.
                          • Something else?
                          Last edited by semicasual; 06-13-2016, 05:31 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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                          • "Not forever," and shake your head. When this is over, you mean to come back.

                            (( For completely out of character reasons, I admit. I rather like Nuo as a character.))


                            I write things.

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                            • "Not forever." Our fates have crossed twice now; it's more likely than not they will again.

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                              • Not forever. She's a handy ally.

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