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Back Alive or Maybe Dead [Quest]

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  • I was all about getting the band back together, but wonderandawe sold me on the image. Let's go check out the Murder.

    ...of crows.


    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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    • Oh, Ash. Always making friends wherever you go.

      I, too, am in agreement that Ash should check out the crows. Seems suitably...ominous.

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      • I just started reading this quest a couple of days ago and i love all of it. I'd say we should follow the crows.

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        • Ash ignored the scene and focused on the birds. She nudged King in their direction.

          The building the crows circled over was a low, wide storehouse built mostly from weathered logs. Ash was able climb onto the gently slanted roof by standing up on King's back and pulling herself up.

          A group of crows mingled atop of the rough wooden shingles. They milled around, groomed themselves, squawked. To someone unfamiliar with the behavior of birds, they wouldn't have looked amiss. But Ash knew a signal when she saw one. She sat down to wait.

          Soon, the birds circling in the sky flew down to join those on the roof. The flock became flurry of whirling feathers before finally condensing into Gaze-of-the-Sun.

          The old woman sat down beside Ash, gazing out over the train tracks to the plains beyond. "{You still come when called, child. Will you be a child forever?}" she said, without looking at Ash.

          Ash chose to ignore the jab. "{What have you seen, elder?}"

          "{Commotion, child. The outlanders who dwell here are like the silver ant, scurrying about as though death dogged their every step.}" She shook her head. "{They take their hive for granted.}"

          Ash wondered if there was more to those words than social commentary. If so, there was little chance that Gaze would ever explain herself. "{Did you find anything of use against our enemy?}"

          Gaze nodded. "{I have sensed the weapons you seek.}"

          "{You saw them?}"

          "{I felt them.}" Gaze turned to look at ash. "{There is a strong spirit in them - full of heat and righteous anger. They seek a focus for their hate. Will you give it them?}"

          "{Perhaps,}" said Ash, a little taken aback. "{Where are they?}"

          "{Sealed within the great hall}," Gaze replied. She lifted an arm and pointed deeper into the town. Ash turned to look and saw the steeples of the town hall. In hindsight, this was not surprising.

          "{With respect, elder, you teach what was already clear to see,}" said Ash. "{Every day, you leave. Every night, you return. What do you seek in your travels?}" Internally, she seethed. Problems talking to each other was no small part of the reason they'd parted ways the first time.

          Gaze was silent for a time. Finally, she answered "{I seek that which our enemy seeks.]"

          Ash frowned. "{What would that be?}"

          "{The tower, child, the tower.}" Gaze went back to looking over the plans. "{I must go, child. To be seen is to be endangered.}" And with that, she abruptly burst into birds. Ash raised her arms, shielding her face from the sudden explosion of cawing, feathered flyers. Crows flew off in all directions, and in moments they were gone.

          Ash lowered her arms, blinked, and sighed. "Damned crone. Why did I bring you along?" she said to herself. She climbed down from the roof and regrouped with King, who had spent his time impatiently clawing at the ground and sniffing in the direction of the train station's yeddim pens.


          Together, they went on to look for the rest of their crew. Though, as it happened, Serge found them first. Ash and King were stopped at a crossroads, trying to figure out how to get by a line of carts and trolleys on their way to the river. The fact that people would slow down to gawk at King didn't help much with navigating traffic. But then the scruffy mercenary appeared behind them. He was on foot, having left his old nag behind, and he had an air of impatience about him.

          "Hey, I found you," he said. "We've got a place - the Hole in the Wall. Come on, I'll take you."

          He led her through alleys and sidestreets, some on which were almost too narrow for King to fit through. But soon enough they came to a small house that was indeed a hole-in-the-wall kind of place. It was squashed between two larger warehouses on a street covered with more of the same. But the sounds and smells that came from inside were inviting, and Ash found herself dismounting before she really knew what she was doing.

          She looked at King, then at Serge. "What about stabling?"

          Serge pointed down the road. "Turn right at the corner - there's a barn. Lans is getting us set up."

          Ash nodded, then rode off. The barn she'd been directed was a typical construction of long wooden planks around a framework of beams. Lans was just outside, talking to a short, balding man in muddy trousers. They greeted her, then began negotiating where King could be stalled. The sand dragon was too large to fit in the horse pens, and his mere presence made some of the other animals nervous. King eventually resolved the problem himself by burrowing into a loose pile of hay at the back of the barn. The owner allowed that was alright - or at least that getting him out would be more trouble than renting the space.

          As they walked back, Ash and Lans brought each other up to speed. The rest of the group had accomplished little besides finding the Hole in the Wall to settle in, but Ash didn't see that as cause for complaint. Her own escapades didn't feel like much of a success.

          They came to the door of the guesthouse, and Ash opened it. Almost at once, she was buffeted by a strong gust coming from inside.

          Bo and Seres were facing off in the middle of a small common area. Seres was shaking with fury as the wind whipped her short hair about. Bo was frightened but unbowed, seeming to stand alone against a storm. Everyone else was hiding away from the center of the room, lurking behind the furniture.

          "YOU GOT NO IDEA WHAT THEY'RE LIKE!" screamed the youngblood. "THAT DUTY AND HONOR BULLSHIT IS HOW THEY HOOK YOU! UNNERSTAND!? 'S NOTHIN' BUT A DAMN LIE!"

          Bo held her hat to her chest. "You cannot mean that," she replied. Her face and her voice were tight. "You know what you are. What that means for what you must do. You must-"

          "DON'T TELL ME 'MUST!'" Seres interrupted. She raised a hand as if she meant to strike the healer.
          • Ash took a few quick steps forward and grabbed the girl's arm. "Hey! Get a hold of yourself!"
          • Ash walked in slowly against the wind, eyeing Bo. "Miss Bo, lay off the kid. She doesn't need a nanny."
          • Ash rushed in between them and held up her hands to push them apart. "Now, none of that! Enough! What's this about?"
          • Something else?
          Last edited by semicasual; 02-10-2017, 04:40 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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          • Hmm... picking a side always makes for a more interesting story... But...

            (Get between them)


            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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            • Grab the Youngblood's arm. She's Dragonblooded. She could kill a mortal with one blow.


              I write things.

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              • step between em

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                • Step between them; ask what this is about.
                  Remind Bo that self-control is needed. Chide Serge on pushing her beliefs onto others. Remind them they are on the same side


                  Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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                  • Split them up and diffuse the situation.

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                    • Ash rushed in between them and held up her hands to push them apart. "Now, none of that! Enough! What's this about?"

                      Bo automatically stepped back. She was the first to speak. "I question the young mistress'... manners. She-"

                      "It's nothin'. Forget it," Seres interrupted. She lowered her arm, and the wind died down almost immediately.

                      A short, tense pause followed. Ash fought the urge to retort or demand an explanation. She did want to know what had set Seres off, but this didn't seem to be the time or the place. Ash didn't want to get kicked out of another hotel today.

                      A sweaty woman in a bonnet and apron bustled from the back of the room. "We're honored by your visit, Chosen," she said, with forced cheer. "How may we serve you today?"

                      Seres wheeled around and glared at her. "I want a beer. And never call me 'Chosen' again."

                      The hostess' smile stayed fixed, almost manic in its intensity. Her smile did not match her eyes. "Yes, of course, er... mistress. We'll bring it right out."

                      Seres sighed. Ash silently coaxed her to a table in a corner by a window. Serge was already sitting there, watching them all with a look of disdainful amusement. Lans and Bo followed, and they all took their seats with a degree of concern or discomfort. Lans sat down right next to Seres. Bo sat beside Serge, as far away from Seres as possible.

                      They passed a short time making small talk, discussing the state of Santa Mela. The hostess brought drinks and, later, some food. Slowly, the tension eased.

                      "It's easier to understand when you're doing it yourself," Lans was saying. "I've seen dozens of boomtowns in my time. I helped to build several of them. But it still surprises me when I'm only gone a few years, but come back to find things completely changed."

                      "Seventeen ain't hardly 'a few', Lans," Ash responded. She raised a mug to her lips and took a long drink.

                      Lans gave a short chuckle. "It is when you reach my age." He glanced out the window beside him, looking thoughtful. In the momentary silence, Ash saw an opportunity to ask about something that had been on her mind.
                      • "Lans, do you know anything about a 'tower'?"
                      • "Seres, why'd you agree to come on this adventure?"
                      • "You seem pretty comfortable around powerful folks, Bo. Where'd you learn that?"
                      • "Hey, Serge... what do you know about ambush tactics?"
                      • 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

                      Comment


                      • "You seem pretty comfortable around powerful folks, Bo. Where'd you learn that?"

                        Let's hear more about Bo, the random healer who was at the right place at the right time.


                        I write things.

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                        • Yeah we haven't talked to Bo in a while. Let's do that.


                          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

                          Comment


                          • "You seem pretty comfortable around powerful folks, Bo. Where'd you learn that?" Ash let the question float across the table.

                            Bo seemed surprised to be directly spoken to. She had been quiet up until now. "I have... practiced. Before I came to the frontier, I lived in Nexus, among many people who came from many places. Some were wealthy, some were magical. Once, I gave sutures to an Anathema." A look of disgust passes over her face.

                            "Huh. Did you know they were...?" Ash dragged the last word out.

                            "No," Bo answered forcefully. "A man was brought to me by a woman I thought I could trust. His true nature was hidden from me until he was on my table."

                            "What happened?"

                            "He was sick from poison. After I drained it from him, he became mad, thrashing about with inhuman strength. I fled to find help, but by the time I found guardsmen he had already fled. Life there became... hard, afterwards."

                            Ash cocked her head. "Hard, how?"

                            "Good customers would not come. Suppliers raised their prices." Bo looked down at the table. "There is no real law in Nexus about Anathema, but the powers that rule there are fickle. They will find ways to ruin those who displease them." She let out a short sigh and looked up again. "Soon, I knew I had to leave. I sold my practice, and eventually traveled here."

                            "Mmm," Ash murmured, thinking of words to bring Bo back to the question she'd first asked.

                            Serge spoke up first. "I would think that would've made you more shy, not less."

                            Bo smiled and let out something like a chuckle. "No, no. I was not afraid in that way. He might have killed me then, but that does not mean I must hide now. I see..." she trailed off, thinking, then continued. "Those I care for, whatever power they have, I see them when they are weak. Even the Chosen become sick, tired, wounded. They are not so different from me then." Bo gave Ash a knowing look. "Besides, if I did hide, then what help would I be?"

                            "Here, here!" said Lans. He raised his mug and took a drink. Serge joined him, and so did Ash. Seres abstained, getting a sour look on her face.


                            In time, the day came to an end. The posse retired to their rooms.
                            But Ash found herself unable to sleep. When the moon was high, she opened the shutters on the window of her room, climbed out onto the sill, and then up onto the roof.

                            Santa Mela was still busy at night. Some laborers off their shifts spent these hours carousing, while others just starting work rushed to finish before daytime traffic began again. Lamps and torches along with the moonlight gave a dim, smokey illumination for the entire town.

                            From her perch at the apex of the Hole in the Wall, she was still lower than many of the town's taller structures. But she could still get a general sense of the town's layout and see where the major landmarks were. The town spire of the town hall, the ornamented roof of the Rose Crown, and the refinery smokestacks were plain to see.

                            Ash lay on her back and looked up at the sky. This was the kind of place where she felt most comfortable - on the edge of things. Near enough to civilization to see its works, but far enough away that no one hassled her. She closed her eyes, and let the sounds of Santa Mela's night life drift by.

                            Something sounded off. A sound like bursts, pops. Faint shouts. Ash sat up and looked around. The noises were coming from the direction of the Rose Crown. Now she was focused on it, she could hear persistent screams.

                            Ash got up, carefully climbed off the roof, and swung herself back into her room. Then...

                            * ...the Ranger got dressed, grabbed her firewand, and set out into the night.
                            * ...she ran from room to room, waking the others. After several minutes of hasty explanations, the party gathered themselves and ventured forth.
                            * 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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                            • Time is of the essence! The Ranger to the rescue!


                              I write things.

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                              • The Ranger will come to the rescue.


                                Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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