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Back Alive or Maybe Dead [Quest]

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  • I'm going outside the box here since the heist was rather hectic. We need to close some loops.

    Along their route to the chosen battleground they passed a watering hole. Ash decided to take advantage of a break for the animals and held parlay with her comrades.

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    • I choose Bo! She'd be able to tell us what went down back at the tower, and a different perspective on Serge's mood.

      I do think some sort of conference with the group would be handy but we may want to chat with people first individually


      The artist behind the quests From Out of a Dream (complete) and Back Alive, or Maybe Dead (running!). Go give a read and make your choice!

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      • ...Bo, at the bottom of the tower.

        She was taking another turn at the controls while Ash sat in the corner, studying the room. King had discovered he could easily cling to the outside of the tower face, and was currently resting on the shady side of the rolling structure. Ash figured that was fair - he'd had to work hard today, and she was feeling pretty tired herself.

        "I'd say we did good, wouldn't you agree?" Ash said, out of the blue.

        Bo gave a slight start and her hands jerked at the controls. The tower shuddered.

        "Er.. yes, mistress," Bo answered quickly.

        Ash waited for her to say more. When she didn't, Ash tried again. "We got what we needed, nobody died... and you've helped a lot on that front, Miss Bo. Don't think I don't appreciate it."

        "Thank you, mistress." Bo kept her eyes on the controls this time.

        Again, Ash waited, and again Bo said nothing. "Somethin' on your mind?" Ash asked.

        "It is nothing, mistress. Do not worry." Bo said, without looking up.

        Ash let out a little sigh. "Well, I wasn't plannin' to, but since you brought it up I just might. What's eatin' you, Bo?"

        Bo didn't answer immediately, and Ash was just starting to wonder if she ever would when she finally spoke. "We are close to the end, yes?"

        Ash nodded. "I reckon so. Don't know just how much time we'll have before Stitch-Eyes finds us, but the journey is about done and the showdown is comin'."

        "Are you sure you can win?"

        Ash nodded again. "Sure as I can be."

        Bo didn't respond. Eventually Ash spoke for her. "I'm guessin' you're not so sure."

        Bo grimaced. "I lived under the Anathema for a time. I have seen what he does. I am..." she paused, winced, then continued. "I am afraid we are not ready. We... have not enough."

        "What more do we need?" Ash pressed. When Bo again hesitated to answer, Ash went on. "I ain't askin' just to ask, Bo. If there's somethin' more we should do, now's the time to tell me."

        "It is not what we do. It is what we are," Bo said, tight lipped. Then her face changed and her tone became apologetic. "I mean no disrespect, mistress. I do not question your strength. But..."

        "You don't know if the posse is up to it." replied Ash, finishing the thought. "We've got a kid, a one-armed old man, a dune-witch who won't talk to most of us... and what's wrong with Serge?"

        To her mild surprise, Bo blushed. "Nothing, mistress. I mean..."

        "You think you're not up to it?" Ash interrupted.

        Bo fell silent again. This time, Ash let her gather her thoughts and resume speaking in her own time. "Medicine. Surgery," she said. "This is what I know. And for the Anathema, it is not enough. I have no magic. No holy strength. Not even a sword. What use do I have?"

        "You've traveled through the desert with us for months, faced all kinds of dangers, and never once complained," Ash answered her rhetorical question. "You've saved my life. Twice. Not everyone needs to be a fighter. Or Chosen."

        Bo didn't say anything, but judging by her expression, Ash didn't figure she was convinced. Ash tipped up down her hat and sighed. "Miss Bo, if you don't mind my sayin' so, this worshippin' thing you have for me is, to my mind, damn foolish."

        Bo looked up from the controls, started. The tower gave another jerk.

        "What makes a hero isn't what they are, or what they can do. It's how they use what they have. Find me someone who does the best they can with whatever they've got, and that's a hero, Bo." Ash tilted her hat up and looked Bo in the eyes. "Near as I can tell, that's just what you're doin'."

        Bo let out a breath. "Thank you, mistress."

        "And stop callin' me 'mistress'."

        "I... thank you, Ash."

        Their conversation moved on to lighter topics. Mostly about the uses of desert flowers.



        They stopped at a watering hole not far from the mine to rest before making the last stretch. It was a well the track-layers had dug back in the day, with low wall of piled stones around it. By some luck, the well wasn't yet dry, and there were some edible wild plants growing nearby. The posse ate and refreshed themselves, then sat down for a bit and talked. Ash took the time to assess everyone's readiness.

        She asked after Seres first. The girl had really taken a beating - her arms and upper body were covered in bruises. Bo thought she might also have some fractures, but as one Chosen she should be at full strength in a few days.

        Serge, on the other hand, wasn't doing as well. His ribs hadn't recovered yet from being kicked in by the deadhulk. He wasn't showing it, but the injury still pained him, and it wasn't improving his mood much.

        The others were in good health and full of anticipation. Lans was animated, talking nonstop about strategies he'd used or seen used in his past. Gaze was restless and continually paced the area, tapping the ground with her staff. Bo fussed about, gathering up extra water and other supplies. Their energy was infectious, and it wasn't long before the whole group felt an unspoken need to get on the trail again.

        Then Serge asked a question that caught everyone by surprise. "So, what if the Lost Souls don't come?"

        The others, mostly in the process of packing up, looked at him, and then at Ash.
        "They'll come," Ash said.
        • "I've seen it in my dreams."
        • "After all, we've got their tower."
        • "To avenge themselves, if nothin' else."
        • "Otherwise, we'll have to go find 'em."
        • 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 to come clean about the dreams.


          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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          • Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post
            Time to come clean about the dreams.
            Agreed. This.

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            • It is time to tell them all about the dreams...


              Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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              • "I've seen it in my dreams."

                There was a brief pause while everyone processed this. Seres broke the silence first - "Now hold up... what?!"

                Ash sighed. She'd been expecting something like that as soon as the words left her mouth. "I wasn't sure how to tell y'all this before. It started... just after I fought Stitch-Eyes. Feels like forever ago." She took a a breath, then went on. "When I went down, I found myself in... a place of shadow. Between life and death, I figure. And a fella with no eyes appeared there, started talkin' to me about what had happened."

                "Like the one the undertaker was talkin' about, back in Salsola?" asked Seres.

                Ash nodded, and so did Lans.

                "The Promising God," said Lans. "I know the legend."

                "Yep. Well, I've seen 'em again a few times since. I've found I can go back to that place in my dreams if I take... certain ritual powders... or if I've been knocked out. But the last few times, I found Stitch-Eyes was there, too."

                Ash looked at Gaze, and then finally told the others what she'd already related to the mystic when they'd met. "Looks like the Promising God, or the 'Gentleman', as he calls himself, is Stitch-Eye's patron. He thinks Stitch-Eyes will destroy frontier society, and gave him the power to do it. I've a mind to agree." She paused, and looked around at the others. "That's why we've got to stop 'em from gettin' the tower, whatever it takes."

                "We already know that," said Serge, crossly. "Go back to the part where you met Stitch-Eyes again."

                Ash frowned. "I don't know how, but he already knows I have the tower. And he all but told me he'll be comin' for it. It's a question of when, not if, now."

                "Why didn't you say something before!?" Serge demanded. "If he can tell you where are, what you've been doing, that gives him the edge on us, no matter what we do!"

                Lans nodded. Seres grimaced, and so did Bo. Gaze continued to look on, impassively.

                Ash shook her head. "I don't think he knows everythin'. One of those dreams was right after our tussle with the Lost Souls in Santa Mela. He didn't act like he knew what we did. My guess is that he can speak to the Lost Souls somehow from wherever he is. Maybe show up in their dreams, too. But he can't or won't do it all the time, and he only knows as much as they do."

                "Or the Promising God is spying on us for him," said Lans. "I can't imagine what a being like that is capable of."

                That led to another long, uncomfortable silence. But once again, Seres broke it.

                "Well, it don't matter now." She met Serge's look up surprise with a glare. "What difference does it make? We've come this far, and if Stitch-Eyes knows we're settin' a trap - so what? He's gonna have to walk into it to get his prize."

                Serge growled, but said nothing else.

                They finished packing up and got back on the trail. A few hours later, they'd reached their hideaway at the old Prosperity Mine. Then they started to prepare.



                This adventure would add a lot to the reputation of the White Plains Ranger - most of it bad. The train robbery would become the stuff of legend, and tales of outlaw gang of dust-thieves led by a masked woman in red would spread all across the frontier.

                Rustbank took a hard hit when the local boss of the Red Gulch refinery disappeared, along with a lot of workers and managers. Later, Red Gulch would have great difficulty finding new dust deposits to mine, and other resources that the town needed to survive became scarce. Most folks who could afford to leave, did. The rest turned on each other, and Rustbank became a township rampant with crime, gang wars, and cannibalism - at least, if you believe all the stories.

                But all that might as well have been centuries and half a world away, as far as Ash and the posse were concerned. They had bigger, more immediate problems. Their journey was over - all that was left now was to see if they were prepared for their final destination.


                OOC Commentary
                Well, that concludes this chapter. I apologize for taking so long on this past section. These past few weeks, I've been struggling to find motivation to continue. It's not that I was too busy to write, it's that I kept finding other things to do and making excuses not to write. I will try to refocus and do better, until the last chapter is done. Speaking of which - my concept for this last section is that it's going to be a lot of talking, followed by a relatively short, action-filled finish. Ash will work alongside different members of the posse, preparing the battlefield to come, and maybe resolve some character arcs. If that all sounds good to you, please comment. If you despise this idea enough to cover me in firedust and fling matches at me, please comment.



                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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                • Breaks are important and if it helps I'm glad you took one.

                  I'm totally good with your direction choice for the final chapter. This has been an epic ride and I'm delighted you took us with you on it. Super excited for the ending (and hopefully to see whatever you come up with next). No matches for you, this has been a treasure to read.


                  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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                  • I'm not upset you delayed responding.

                    I like the general plan forward as you've e outlined. Let's inhale, get a firm grip on King's reins, and ride for all we're worth.

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                    • Ash and company started work as soon as they got back to their camp. They figured on Stitch-Eyes coming in force, with all the Lost Souls behind him. Stitch-Eyes had numbers, and with the way the mine was laid out, there would be no hope for escape. Once the fighting started, the posse would have their backs to the wall with no choice by to prevail, or die.

                      As I mentioned, Prosperity Mine was built into a box canyon. The entrance was narrow, but the inside was wide enough to accommodate a small railyard, bunkhouses for the miners, a small refinery to break up rocks, and a water tower. In the back of the canyon was the mine itself - an enormous, wide-mouthed cave carved out of the canyon wall, shored up with scaffolding and prayers.

                      Lans did something to alter the Tower's wheels again, making it possible for the thing to roll off the tracks and further into the canyon. They pushed it as far from the entrance as they could, behind the dilapidated buildings. And then they began laying down traps. There was a quiet urgency to their actions - a kind of a need to keep busy, because sitting and waiting would drive them mad.

                      Serge had had some time to survey the area, and marked places where it might be good to place tripwires that could unhorse riders, or dump piles of dust for later ignition. Lans had a notion that they could scavenge supplies from what the miners had left behind and build what he called "ground-firebursters." Seres wasn't keen on working with dust, but she figured she could do as well with some good old-fashioned pit traps. Bo remembered an old recipe from Nexus - basically a bottle or a jar full of dust, with an oiled rag stopping up the opening. Light, throw, then cover yourself. And Gaze was doing... something. As usual, she didn't offer an explanation freely, but it involved drawing strange marks all around the mystical tower.

                      With no real idea how much time they had before Stitch-Eyes arrived, Ash figured she should start by...
                      • ...laying lines with Serge.
                      • ...giving Lans a hand at the workbench.
                      • ...helping Seres dig.
                      • ...packing bottle-bombs with Bo.
                      • ...figuring out what the blazes Gaze was up to.
                      • Something else?
                      OOC Commentary
                      If ya'll have suggestions for more kinds of traps, I'm all ears. Or eyes, I suppose, because I'm reading and not hearing your suggestions. Unless you submit a suggestion via voice recording. I will not accept submissions using taste, touch, or smell.
                      Last edited by semicasual; 11-19-2018, 12:00 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

                      Comment


                      • ...laying lines with Serge

                        Kind of worried about the bloke @_@


                        The artist behind the quests From Out of a Dream (complete) and Back Alive, or Maybe Dead (running!). Go give a read and make your choice!

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                        • "...laying lines with Serge"

                          Kind of worried about the bloke @_@


                          The artist behind the quests From Out of a Dream (complete) and Back Alive, or Maybe Dead (running!). Go give a read and make your choice!

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                          • "...figuring out what the blazes Gaze was up to."

                            Leaving the sorceress to her devices for too long could backfire spectacularly.


                            Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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                            • Been a while on Serge so yeah, Serge.


                              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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                              • I vote Serge...but I wanna check in on Gaze too. Because it's good Ambush Etiquette to let your fellow ambushers KNOW if there's some sort of hellish sorcerous fire-trap they shouldn't step on, or a demon ant-lion, or something, BEFORE the ambush actually starts.

                                And it could start any minute.


                                So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

                                The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
                                -Roger Zelazny

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