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From Out of a Dream [Quest]

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  • Move on seems the wisest choice.


    I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
    I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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    • Move on, now he has allies and we are still tired. Be alert.

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      • Hunt him down and finish him off. I don't like leaving an obviously hostile threat out there to attack when least favourable for me.

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        • You decide that you need to move on. You feel a urgency to finish your quest that has only gotten stronger since you arrived in Yu-Shan. Chasing after Tal promises to be an unpredictable endeavor that might put you in more danger, or worse, waste more of your time. Leaving an enemy alive behind you is a risk you will take, despite your misgivings. You sheathe Cleaver and walk quickly away from the scene, studiously ignoring the commotion you hear as investigators arrive.


          You walk on, and on, and on. The sun fully rises. By this point you have settled into a rhythm of mindless travel - all you see is the way in front of you, all you think is of the direction you are heading, and all you feel is growing fatigue. You wonder how far the trail of ashen footprints you have left behind you stretches. You drink from various fountains as you pass, which refreshes you somewhat.

          You pass by more amazing sights, more remarkable people and creatures. You take no note of them. You are too tired to care. You have to reach the Fields of Eternity.

          The sun goes down, and you continue walking. Your Blessing gives you what you need to keep going through the night.

          The sun rises. At its apex, you find yourself walking down a broad street, densely crowded with people. These folk are a little less exotic than those you have seen before - their shapes are closer to human, their colors are less extravagant. Also, they keep getting in your way. As you walk along, one after another wanders into your path, pushing you this way and that. You stumble, and your clumsy movements put you into the path of other passers-by. After several such bounces, you growl at the next.... man? You struggle to pay attention to this person's shape... and try to shove them aside. They dodge out of the way, barking something indistinct at you. Your sudden movement causes you to lurch to one side and you fall, landing awkwardly on one shoulder before rolling onto your back.

          Your eyelids feel heavy and your stomach will not stop growling. While the people gather around and look at you, part of you wants to lie where you are and try to sleep.

          The onlookers gasp, murmur, and move away. You see a masked, black-clad figure standing over you. It reaches down and offers you a hand, which you unthinkingly grab. You feel a familiar strong chill.

          Your vision blurs, then clears. You are lying on a flagstone path of some kind. Off in the distance, you see a great house of stone. You sense it is your destination and you want to move towards it, but you cannot.

          You are so hungry. It feels like your belly is touching your spine. Just staying conscious takes more effort than you thought was possible.

          You are not alone on the path. A procession of hooded figures is walking towards the great house. Every one of them walks around you. A few pause to spit on you. You want to call out to them, but you cannot.

          You are so tired. Moving one finger is too much for you. You cannot think to tell what is real from what is not.

          You want to save yourself, but you cannot.


          Your vision blurs and clears again. Now you are on your feet. Cold pervades your body, although it seems the chill came with an adrenaline spike that is helping you focus. Your Doom is standing before you, having just pulled you up. They point to a building on your right.

          The place looks like a fusion of workshop and mansion. It is several stories tall, built of fine, smooth brickwork, lined with friezes that depict images of plants, crystals, and people laboring over giant pots. Tall smokestacks decorated with delicate ironwork vines sprout from its stately arched roof.

          You look back to the Doom. The creature shrugs, turns, and starts walking towards the building. The other people in the street are giving it and you a wide berth, so you have no difficulty following it.

          The Doom leads you past the large doors of the front entrance to a small side-road. This road runs around the work-palace to another set of doors on the other side1. The Doom walks over to these doors with a lumbering gait only to pause within an arm's length of them and then vanish.

          You approach the doors, vaguely wondering what the Doom meant to lead you to and why it always disappears right when you want an explanation. The doors are slightly open, and wafting through the crack is an overpowering smell of... honey?

          Your mouth waters as you reach out and pull the doors open. The inside of the building appears to be one large, open room with several balcony levels overlooking the broad ground floor. It is not, as you thought, a workshop - the array of bubbling cauldrons, glassware, and vats show that this is some kind of alchemical laboratory. You take a few steps into the lab. The floor hisses and crackles beneath your feet.

          Humanoid ceramic statues operate the equipment, performing repetitive tasks - stirring the vats, pumping bellows beneath the burners, turning cranks, ladling liquids between cauldrons, and carrying various vessels from one station to the next. Each one is stamped on the forehead with a few gods' tongue characters that you think might be a number, but they are otherwise featureless.

          Off to your right are several bubbling pots from which the aroma of honey rises. One statue carries metal trays to a long table by the pots. Another pours liquid from the pots into the trays, then sets the trays aside. A third picks up the filled, stacked trays and puts them into a large box from which cloudy mist rises. Finally, a fourth takes the trays out of the box and dumps the contents of the trays into a large funnel over a series of jars.

          Filled jars are stacked against the wall to one side of the door. You walk over to the stack and pick one up, fumbling with the clay stopper. With uncharacteristic clumsiness, the jar slips out of you hand and falls to the floor. It cracks open against the hard, polished wood, scattering bits of ceramic and little hard chunks of honey everywhere.

          You hear someone calling from across the room, but you do not listen. Smoke rises around you as you reach down, scrambling on the floor until you grab hold of one of the chunks. You shove the honey-piece into your mouth and bite down with desperate gusto.

          You taste sweet, sweet, honey, followed by something indescribably bitter. It occurs to you that there was some kind of pill inside the honey when you are mid-swallow.

          An instant later, you feel every muscle start to vibrate. Your teeth chatter and your eyes unfocus. A warmth spreads from your stomach to your extremities. Then you shudder, give yourself a shake, and these sensations pass.

          You feel... well. Good even. Very good, for someone who has not slept in four or five days and has not eaten in nearly as long, and spent almost every waking moment in between on the move. You are completely refreshed, and believe you could go for another week if you needed to.

          "{Vagrant! Vandal! What art thou doing!?"}

          You turn your head and see an old man coming towards you. He wears a long, heavy robe, like a chemist's smock but oddly clean, and a small round cap on his head. He has an extremely long grey beard, tied into braids and pinned to the front of his robe with a series of silver fasteners. His face is beet-red as he shouts at you.

          At nearly the same time, you become aware of a sharp, burning pain around your feet. You hop back, suddenly aware that the floor where you were standing has caught fire, and the flames have spread to your boots. You fall to one side, draw in your legs, and try to pull your footwear off without burning yourself.

          After a few tense seconds you are barefoot, and the angry elder alchemist is only a few yards away.
          • Flee the scene. Your curse has gotten the better of you. Better run now while you still can.
          • Attempt to put out the fire. The risks of staying might be great, but the risks of committing arson... maybe for the second time... are greater.
          • Loot and then flee. These pill-candies are amazing. You should grab a jar before you escape.
          • Something else?
          1
          Even the gods must need service entrances, it seems.


          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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          • Attempt to put out the fire, it's nice to seem helpful.

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            • Put out the fire.


              I write things.

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              • Put the fire out. Time to earn some goodwill.

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                • While putting out the fire is the polite thing to do, we are already guilty of stealing and who knows what else. Flee


                  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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                  • Your first thought is that you have to put out the fire, even as the floor heats up beneath your bare feet. You take a breath, then rapidly scan the room. There is a bucket of sand in a corner not too far away. Smoke swirls around you as you run towards it, grab it, turn to run back, then freeze. There is a trail of cinders left in your wake. The fire is spreading and every step you take is making it worse1.

                    With no recourse left, you set the bucket down and focus on your escape. A short running start precedes a long jump over the burning floor, and then you sprint out through the open doors. The old alchemist is screaming something about sabotage. His voice carries into the street outside.

                    You look to the left - the crowded avenue seems uninviting. So instead you go up, jumping and climbing onto an adjacent roof. From there you run and leap from one rooftop to the next, drawing on your Blessing for greater speed and distance.

                    Almost an hour later, when you feel you have finally put enough distance between yourself and the scene of your latest crime, you descend to street level again.



                    You journey on into the afternoon. The semi-industrial part of Yu-Shan gives way to more spacious residences, then to scattered homesteads, and then finally to wide fields whose only defining feature is the road you walk on. Your feet are aching - it has been many years since you did so much walking at a stretch, and now without shoes.

                    An assortment of pilgrims walk this path in both directions. You pass by a badger-like creature, standing on its hind legs, dressed in a brown robe and hood. Then there is a tall, skinny, rat-faced man, bearing an enormous bundle of masks on his back. They clatter and rattle as he passes you by. A dense cloud in the shape of three female figures - sisters, you somehow know instinctively - drifts lazily overhead. These and other characters sometimes pause when they notice you and give you inscrutable looks. You do your best to ignore them.

                    Before long, the fields start sprouting stone structures - obelisks, tall pillars marked with runes, giant stone rings, and cyclopean statue heads, to name some. Smaller paved paths lead away from the road to each landmark, and most of the pilgrims you see turn off the road to pay homage at these totems.

                    You remember something like this from the map. You have arrived - these are the Plains of Eternity, and ahead of you is the Violet Bier. Off in the distance, the largest structure you have seen anywhere so far rises into the sky, so high and so wide as to nearly block the setting sun. It is a tomb the size of a castle, hung with purple draperies that fall from its roof all the way into the ground. It looks both awesome and ominous, but somehow looking at it does not disturb you. Instead, you feel oddly at peace.

                    The rest of the journey passes quickly. You soon find yourself at the base of wide, stone steps leading up into the enormous tomb, or temple, or state building. It is very quiet here. No pilgrims are about, the last of them having parted ways with you some time before. And so you climb the steps, pass through a great open archway, and enter the grand foyer alone.

                    This chamber is all cold, dark stone, hung with more purple draperies like those on the exterior. Golden lamps burn on the walls, providing reasonable illumination despite the gloomy design. A series of stone pews face a long counter. A collection of hooded figures quietly scratch away on one very large scroll that spans the counter's entire length. Besides the scratching of their pens, there is absolutely no sound in the room.

                    You instinctively muffle your steps and silence the clinking of your gear as you approach the counter. One of the hooded figures looks up as you come close. It is a woman's face, but she has only one enormous eye in the middle of her forehead - blue iris, slightly bloodshot. She blinks at you, taking in your ash-covered face, many weapons, tattered armor, bare feet, and the trail of ash you tracked in.

                    "{Welcome, pilgrim,}" she says softly, almost in a whisper. "{What brings thee to the Bier this day?}"

                    You think back to what Silk Butterfly told you.
                    • "{I come to see Jucandie. I am on a fated errand.}" You'll throw in your lot with the god of Death-by-Treachery.
                    • "{I come to see Jacnudei. I am on a fated errand.}" You'll ask for help from the god of Death-by-Inches.
                    • "{I come to see Jecaidun. I am on a fated errand.}" You'll curry favor with the god of Death-by-Surprise
                    • "{I come to see your mistress, the Fifth Maiden.}" You were told she didn't take petitioners, but you might as well try anyway.
                    • Something else?
                    1
                    you don't know whether to rage or despair.... rage. Definitely rage.
                    Last edited by semicasual; 09-02-2016, 09:29 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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                    • "{I come to see Jacnudei. I am on a fated errand.}" You'll ask for help from the god of Death-by-Inches.


                      Share your wonders in The Artifact and Evocation Workshop

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                      • Originally posted by Ferryman View Post
                        "{I come to see Jacnudei. I am on a fated errand.}" You'll ask for help from the god of Death-by-Inches.

                        Yes. Let's go see this god. Feels like we are dying by inches with this damned curse.


                        I write things.

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                        • Death by inches for the reason mentioned

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                          • I come to see your mistress, the Fifth Maiden. On the recommendation of Silk Butterfly.


                            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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                            • I come to see your mistress, the Fifth Maiden.

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                              • "{I come to see Jacnudei. I am on a fated errand,}" you answer the scribe. A death-by-inches sounds right to you. It has only been a few days, but even so it feels like your curse is killing you.

                                The scribe perks up at the words "fated errand." "{Wait,}" she bids you in a commanding tone. Then she closes her eye and hums for a few seconds. She opens her eye. "{Follow me.}" The scribe rises from her seat behind the counter and walks towards the wall on one side of the chamber. As she approaches, a section of the wall sinks into the floor with a soft grinding noise. You follow her through the opening into a hallway beyond.

                                The interior corridors are much like the anteroom in appearance. Golden lamps illuminate purple wall hangings. An almost-oppressive quiet hangs over everything. These halls are long, tall, and seem to branch in all directions. The scribe leads you left, right, then right again, then up five flights of stairs, left, left again, then right again. Finally she stops in the middle of a hallway. This time, you are expecting a hidden door and are able to notice the minute cracks in the wall before it slides open. The scribe turns to you and gives a slight bow. You answer with a nod and walk into the newly revealed room.

                                This room looks like a records office - modest, square, and full of paper. A lamp in each corner of the ceiling provides ample light. Floor-to-ceiling shelves on every wall are densely packed with scrolls. When your gaze lingers on one shelf, it seems to shift; the collection of documents on it becomes much larger than the space it occupies should allow. The shelf returns to normal when you blink, leaving you to wonder if there is some enchantment on it or if your eyes are deceiving you. The floor before the door is covered with a low mat, which you are careful not to stand on.

                                An extremely pale, thin man kneels on the mat before a low table, waving a brush over a scroll. He is the most unhealthy-looking man you have ever seen - bald, emaciated, covered with sores and dressed only in bloodied, dirty bandages. Starvation, torture, and mortal sickness together would barely begin to explain his appearance. If he were not moving, you would assume you were looking at a corpse.

                                He looks at you as you come in with bloodshot yellow eyes. "{Be warned, mortal,}" he rasps. "{Thou dost stand in the presence of Jacnudei. Mine is dominion over wasting sickness, wounds that will not heal, slow poisons, the inevitable failure of thy health, and all other manner of prolonged demise.}" He blinks. A bit of pus runs from his eyes. "{But fear not, for it is not your time. What is thy fated errand?}"

                                "{I seek audience with the Mistress of the Bier,}" you answer, trying to keep your face blank. He really is disgusting to look at. "{I was told thou wouldst bring me to her, in exchange for... service.}" You struggle to find the right words. Gods' tongue is not a good language for being circumspect.

                                The wasting god raises a hairless eyebrow. "{What manner of service do you speak of?}" He waves a hand, and the stone door slides shut behind you. You shuffle forward, still trying to keep off of the mat.

                                "{I would aid thee in thy struggle against thy brothers,}" you reply slowly. "{It was given to me that they have... cheated thee of thy due.}"

                                Jacnudei gives a short bark of laughter, followed by a wet, hacking cough. "{Cheating is the least of it! Together, they would steal my entire domain!}" he declares, after clearing his throat. "{Jucandie the elder claims any ending that comes of a betrayal should be his - not content with knives in the back, he claims poisonings, torture by the trusted, and wrongful death by negligence as his own. And Jecaidun the younger will seize almost any ending at all, on the flimsy pretext that most deaths come as a surprise. For truly, who expects to die?}" Here his voice rises in pitch and emphasis, as if he were mimicking someone else. Then he pauses to cough again. After a long wheeze, he glares at you. "{They are jealous of my position, for which I have struggled for centuries. They know the truth - that most endings are slow, and painful. It is the way of the world, the very nature of mortality, that any who do not perish by the sword, tooth, or flame...}" Here he waves a hand at you, indicating your armaments, your scorched appearance, or both. "{...will perish by sickness and age. I should have the highest rank in this department, but for the machinations of my siblings.}"

                                You tilt your head down and cross your arms. "{Then tell me what I must do to give thee justice.}1"

                                Jacnudei stares at you, or through you, for some time. Finally, he says "{Go unto the offices of my elder brother. Search Jucandie's quarters and find his orders...}" He pauses and raises a thin hand to his chin. "{...take any that name a sudden death, unexpected and swift.}"

                                "{Should I bring these to you?}" you ask, wondering where this plan is going.

                                The god shakes his head. "{No. Thou shalt bring those orders to the offices of my younger brother. Again, search Jecaidun's quarters and find orders that name a slow death, protracted and painful, but inflicted by trusted kith or kin. Those, you shall bring to me, but not before thou hast secreted Jucandie's papers in Jecaidun's office. Know this - they must be hidden from the sight of an incurious observer, even one who dwells in that office all his days. But they must be easily found by a dedicated inspector, even one who spends no time in that place at all.}"

                                You nod. "{I understand.}2"

                                "{...That is good. Then go, and do not return until you have done as I have asked. But know this - I have not asked thy name, and I will not hear it. Should thou be discovered I shall say, truly, that I know thee not. None in heaven will take thy word over mine. And should thou betray me to my brothers, thou shalt know the most sustained, agonizing death a mortal can suffer.}"

                                He waves his hand and the door behind you opens again. Taking the signal for what it is, you turn around and walk out. The door closes behind you.
                                What Jacnudei wants from you is clear enough, but how you are supposed to do it is an open question. As you stand in the hall and consider the problem, the trail of your ashen footprints catches your eye. To start with, you'll need to do something about those - you can't hope to steal anything and get away with it if you leave a trail like that everywhere you go.
                                • Crawl. This won't help your pride, but it's the first thing you thought of.
                                • Walk on your hands. Awkward, over long distances, but if you needed to you could navigate the rooms and corridors of the Bier without ever letting your feet touch the ground. Your balance is good, and your stamina is even better.
                                • Improvise stilts. In hindsight, it was strange that your cursed feet didn't set your boots on fire - instead, the curse seem to carry through the soles. It was only when those soles set the floor under you alight that the boots caught fire. Maybe you can make some raised footwear out of the equipment you have on you to keep your soles away from the floor.
                                • Get someone else to do it. You could try to bribe, threaten, or trick one of those one-eyed welcome women to do the job for you. That would also save you the trouble of having to find the gods' offices on your own.
                                • Don't even bother. The schemes of Jacnudei don't interest you. You'll risk ignoring his warning and see if one of his siblings has a better offer. You might even be able to start a bidding war.
                                • Something else?
                                1
                                You don't know if this is 'just' or not, but he doesn't need to know that.

                                2
                                It's simple enough - steal something the Surprise-god would want and hide it in the Surprise-god's office. Then take something the Treachery-god would want that might also be desirable for the Inches-god. The Treachery god will immediately suspect the Surprise-god and find the stolen papers. Seeing that he has been both robbed and framed, the Surprise-god will want to retaliate against the Treachery-god. And the Inches-god will profit while his brothers fight each other.




                                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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