Welcome to The Lost Island Quest. Last thread our hero, Alan Rodain, bought some new equipment, trained his horsemanship skills and got real intimate with an ally. Now, he prepares to hear the news from Quissonce.
http://pastebin.com/W5vqnRBU (Character Sheet)
You finish studying your spellbook in the morning, munching on some jam and toast. Ed has just woken up and grunts at you as he wipes the sleep from his eyes and goes downstairs to grab himself some coffee. He was still working at finding a solution to your telepathy problem when Quissonce told you and Rowe to get some sleep last night.
The two of you parted ways at Quissonce's door to return to your respective rooms, your last shared think an (I'll stay.) from Rowe. You're quite glad that breaking line of sight ends the effect. You don't know what level of shenanigans would occur if you started dreaming at each other. You relax in silence for some time before the door opens of its own volition and Ed comes to stand in the doorway. He's holding a mug of steaming liquid and gestures with his head for you to follow. You get up from the central table and deposit your plate in Muffin's reach so he can chow down on the crumbs.
Ed leads you into Quissonce's room. Eve is noticeably absent. Quissonce is sitting at her personal desk, dusty tomes with multiple color-coded bookmarks shoved in multiple places having conquered her living space. Four different empty mugs of coffee litter her work space, broken quills and crumpled pieces of paper strewn about the intellectual war zone. Quissonce is currently balancing a quill on her nose, trying her best to keep it aloft. When she spots you out of the corner of her eye she lets it fall and catches it.
You look to your wizards expectantly. “Good news first or bad news first?” Quissonce asks you.
>Good news first
>Bad news first
>Let's bring Rowe here for this
>Do you need help cleaning up the place?
“One moment, I'm going to wake up Rowe. She should hear this too.” You walk out the room and make your way down the hall to Room 9. A quick knock gets Eve to open the door for you. You look down at her.
“Uh, what are you doing here, Eve?”
(Quissonce was keeping her up, I let her use the spare bed here.)
“Quissonce was being a loud nerd so I decided it was sorceress bonding time.” Eve answers a split second later.
(Quissonce says she's got good and bad news.)
(Bad news first. Always.) Rowe gets up from where she was seated and follows you out the door, carrying a bowl of oatmeal with her that she casually finishes as you two find yourselves waiting for Quissonce to explain.
“Alright, so the bad news.” Quissonce breathes out a sigh as she rubs the aches out of her wrists. “There is no cure that I can fathom in all the books related to the subject I've managed to scrounge up and read through. This is most likely a permanent state of affairs for you both. The good news is, there is a magical artifact that can be forged that I believe has a CHANCE of blocking out the connection. I talked to one of the Circle Magisters who has taken to the crafting of magical items and we have discussed the necessary costs that would go into creating the ring. It'll cost 8000 gold for the reagents and the man's time. And you have to pay up front, no guarantees it will work. Your mind meld shtick is one of a kind, apparently.”
(So, 4000 gold each?)
(I don't have the money for that right now.)
(Me neither, just spent most of mine upgrading my bow again. Wonderful timing, that.)
>(Fuck the ring, we'll manage.)
>(Time to see if Blackburn has any lucrative opportunities.)
>Quissonce, take this to the Archmage and look for an alternative solution.
>Something else? (write-in)
>Something else? (write-in)
(Well normaly i woul say "Fuck the ring." but i'm not alone at this. So i'm willing to not buy it. But if you really want it we can go see if Blackburn has some lucrative mission.)
(Time to see if Blackburn has any lucrative opportunities.)
(Yeah, about time we got back out in the field anyway.)
“Thanks for your help Quissonce. Ed.” Ed nods at you while Quissonce gives you a lazy two-finger salute.
Rowe goes back to grab her equipment while you make your way to the Circle's entrance. You leave together and manage to pop into Blackburn's office. He gives you the standard greeting of cutting open his hand and bleeding into a wine glass, before asking you both to take a seat.
(You say that a lot.)
(I think it a lot too.)
“Well Blackburn. We need money. What've you got?” He quickly nods before pulling his papers out of his desk drawer and gathering them together.
“Let's see . . .” Blackburn flips through his documents
“Currently we're still dealing with issues over in the swamp with our allies: the Acidspit Clutch. Their rivals for territory in that area have got them in a stalemate position and I'll need the intervention of able agents if we want to make headway over in the west.”
“Our kobold prisoners have informed us of a cave system to the South-west which hosts a variety of different species. Many of which Gilda has an urge to take a look at. Other than that there is the kobold village in specific if we want to deal with them diplomatically and a ruby mine nearby that would provide us something to send back to the Mainland to provide proof to the senators as to why investing in this operation is beneficial to Ceril as a whole.”
“To our east we have that forest you have been operating in recently. That ruin the Forest Hunter shaman mentioned could provide us some clue about Island Elves. It may also be completely ransacked and useless. Also we still haven't repaid the greenskins for robbing us of my asset I worked my ass off to acquire. Handling them or repaying them in kind would be very well rewarded.”
“And finally, directly south of Seaside in the middle of the plains there is a large complex that seems to be some sort of temple. It looks like it would have taken a long time to build, but all our scouts assure me that it's been there since, perhaps, New Years at the earliest. A group of delvers I sent out to investigate returned recently three members fewer and speaking of dead men walking and other ghastly things.”
He lays out all his papers on the table.
>Break the Acidspit Clutch stalemate
>Investigate the cave system
>Parley with the kobold village
>Explore the ruby mine
>Search the ruin for signs of elves
>Engage the greenskins
>Delve the deadly temple
>Investigate the cave system
>Parley with the kobold village
The cave system looks to be the most lucrative part since we will be capturing creatures. But the difficulty will be transporting then back.
The Ruby mine is most likely something to do with the Kobolts. Because i think those small rubies they had with then. So dealling with the kobolts might solve two problems in one move.
>Focus on the kobolds
If we get good with them then getting at the rubies should be easier, while going after the rubies first and foremost can complicate matters and leave any ruby related venture vulnerable. I assume this option doesn't ignore the rubies but focuses on the kobolds.
“Alright, we'll parley with the kobolds. I assume this ruby cave you're speaking of is the one they get the gems from.”
Blackburn nods. “Pex, one of the kobolds you brought back, says they collect the rubies from tunnels in the same cave system their settlement resides. They call it Firegem village, after the stones they carry with them ritually. The leader of their village is a wise man of theirs by the name of Ungblot, who apparently is quite crafty from the way he's talked of. An alliance or trade agreement with them would be preferable, but if you can get them to provide information on the caverns in that area of the Island that would be quite useful. Pex has given Gilda detailed instructions on how to reach the caverns to our south-west and she should be able to provide you a map to get you there. I will also say that if for some reason things do not go smoothly and you end up clearing out the caves of any hostiles, it would allow Seaside to attain a foothold in that area where a mining operation could be considered.” Blackburn hands you the papers relating to the kobolds for you to peruse and dismisses you. Outside, you have a think with Rowe.
(So, this Pex fellow could provide us some additional information. We could also bring him along to help smooth introductions. Assuming he isn't mad at us about executing his friends.) you brainstorm.
(We could also let Gilda tag along, although we'd have to keep her safe and she'd slow us down some. Although we might get paid more for letting her map the cave and write down the things we can't bring back. Also, you think we should bring anybody else along? Every person we add spreads our profits thinner, but if something goes wrong and we can't handle it we may have to bug out.)
>Ask Pex for additional information (write-in)
>Ask Gilda for additional information (write-in)
>Consult Blackburn's documents for additional information (write-in)
>Bring Gilda? Y/N
>Bring Pex? Y/N
>Bring anybody else? (who?)
>Ask Pex for additional information
Protocols and pass phrases to get past guards and to get into the village without killing everyone.
Bring Gilda? N
Bring Pex? N
Bring anybody else? Gabby.
Stunning Fist and strong enough to help us bring prisoners back.
Your whole team is willing to come with you.
All of them would like to go with you.
Eve is almost vibrating in how enthusiastic she is about heading to the kobold village.
>Bring Eve only
>Bring Gabby only
>Bring Eve and Gabby
>Custom selection (write-in)
(Let's bring Gabby for some extra muscle and I think we should let Eve tag along as well.)
(Because she's good at negotiating with the scaly little bastards?)
(I was thinking more along the lines of 'I wonder if she'll literally explode' but you make a good point.)
(What about Gilda and Pex?)
(We'll bring both. Go get the map and the team together. Ask Pex about any protocols about entering the village. We should head out at around noon. I'll be reading up on who we're dealing with.) you gesture with the documents and Rowe nods before striding off.
You quickly gather Tornado and your equipment, purchasing rations and feed as you think you'll need. You rub his snout some before pulling up a nearby stool and reading up on the creatures you're about to meet.
Emperor Ungblot, the Mightily Witted sees himself as the emperor of the Firegem nation. He came to rule his people because of his crafty nature and surrounds himself in his throne room with his ten palace guards and his harem of twelve kobold beauties. He possesses some staff of authority that is said to knock all of his detractors to the ground for their insolence. His guards are selected for their intelligence rather than their strength.
He also possesses twenty elite soldiers, the strongest of the Firegem kobolds, if not the smartest.
He has a court wizard by the name of Vort who casts powerful fire spells and possesses dragonbreath, a vestige of the First Dragon who created the kobold servitors.
The village possesses many war-rats and two powerful scorpions they employ to defend their territory. The disease and poison dripping from their stingers and teeth is enough to scare away even those strong enough to kill the vermin.
Twenty ambushers hidden in the trees guard the cave entrance at all times while fifteen more watch the interior from behind a well-hidden pit trap near the entrance to the cave.
The emperor has half a hundred runners move throughout the rest of the nearby mountainside to negotiate with various other species that live in the area.
Non-combatants in the village number slightly over 100 and are comprised of weaker male kobolds, female kobolds and kobold young.
As you finish up the report your allies approach. You see that Pex is the kobold who managed to wound Tornado. You share an awkward look. You calm Tornado down so he doesn't step on the little lizard.
Rowe comes up to you, before turning to face the rest of your companions and shouting the plan. “Alright everybody, it's going to be four days to get there and four days to get back. Hopefully we can hash out a deal all in one day.”
(Pex says there's no protocol to entering the village. He says he'll vouch for us and get us inside to speak with his leader.)
You and your companions saddle up and leave out the east gate. You head towards the swamp, and then follow along its edge towards where the mountainous region with the various caves and caverns are etched into the Island.
You possess three tents, for two people each. Eve and Pex are taking one tent. So far you've been paired up with Rowe, but you're not sure if you want to risk letting the connection linger while you're unconscious.
>Bunk with Rowe
>Bunk with Gabby
>Bunk with Gilda
You decide to bunk with Rowe. Your only chance at halting the effects of this bond is not even guaranteed to work and you'd rather not have the mental link blindside you in a situation where you can't afford it to. A quick mental conversation affirms she's alright with risking it as well. Maybe being unconscious will cut the link like distance does. To be fair, you only spend two hours a night sleeping next to each other. You are forced to take a four hour watch and Rowe is awake for half of your sleep cycle.
The connection does seem to fade at night. Every time you wake after having Rowe sleep next to you, you feel fine. Your dreams were either mundane or too hazy to remember. You were worried for nothing. For three nights of sleeping to accompany three days of riding your subconscious mind is your own.
And then the fourth night happens.
The nightmare is at first like the ones you usually have. The ones you used to have, you remind yourself when you finally wake in a cold sweat. At least, you thought you had moved past them. You haven't dreamed of the killings or Tobias since the day you made that cracked, glass marble channel The Great Will's light.
It starts with you running them down. Killing soldier after soldier. Suddenly they flash green and large, pointy-eared and growling as you cut through them. Their crocodile tears and blubbering falling on very deaf ears. They deserve to die and you cut through the cowards like they were made of straw. You are the Red Rider and you'll burn down their encampments along with the rest of the Sfar Forest. Among the burnt bark and ash will rest the skulls of all those you've killed.
You watch The General torture Tobias. He laughs at how weak he is. “Look, The Red Rider brought so low!” He's wrong! Tobias screams The General has the wrong man. The General doesn't care and merely cuts off another finger. You watch your friend scream in agony. Let it happen. The smart thing to do. Putting him out of his misery risks your own neck. You hide amongst the branches, covered in a sea of corpses so The General's men won't find you. Don't breathe. Don't move. Wait. Bide your time. The General wishes to meet The Red Rider does he. Your hands clench your shortbow and twist the wood in anger. You watch your best friend bleed out, eyes locked on yours and mouthing for you to keep quiet for once in your fucking life. Tobias's eyes go back to The General, who smiles a great big smile. You love watching their faces, when they're like this.
Your eyes shoot open, you hear yourself breathe heavily as Rowe wakes up beside you.
(THE FUCK!) thought into your head so loudly you start to feel a throbbing headache. (Who is . . .) She stops. She has some idea of what happened. (Who . . .)
>(I don't want to think about it.)
I'm a bit confused about what the normal nightmare is and what's new. I guess the "the fuck" came from Rowe?
It's not as if we could hide it from her, might tell her all of it.
(I don't want to think about it.) snaps out of your mind like a cerebral viper. You try to calm yourself. If you focus hard enough, you can keep them buried. You don't want to flood her with thoughts of Tobias. Your breathing slows and steadies, your mental discipline kicking in. You find your center and simply breath.
Rowe sits up and wipes her eyes. (Yeah. I, uh, I understand.) She grabs her things and starts to get up completely. (I'll switch with Gabby. This was stupid. We should never have – I should have just . . .) She actively stops herself from thinking the end of that sentence. You have a semblance of an idea about how she was going to finish that thought, though. (This mental bullshit can't end fast enough.) She leaves the tent quickly.
You lay there in your tent very awake. You should probably sleep some more, but its hard. You fish out your marble and give a quick prayer to The Great Will. You pray for forgiveness and thank him for granting you as long a respite from your sins as he did. As you place the marble back, you hear the tromping footsteps of Gabby. She opens up the tent and climbs in. She sighs and settles in to rest a bit before she takes the watch over from Eve.
“Is Rowe alright?” you find yourself asking.
“Bawling her eyes out.” You grimace. “Go to sleep, Al. Whatever happened can be dealt with in the morning.”
“You're probably right.” You put your hand to your temple and rub away the building head pain.
Gabby gives a humorless chuckle. “Gotta say, Al. You have a strange fucking effect on women.”
Yeah. You guess you do.
>End of Thread
I will most likely run this next time on either Wednesday or Friday. https://twitter.com/TrickQM