Its been a bit hasn't it. Apologies. Lets get this going shall we?
Opening Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCQmQwKEEOM
Story Thus Far: http://pastebin.com/tt1Dv05T
<Once more, you nearly had it that time.> Veles says.
You huff in frustration and go back to the task at hand.
It's been a month since you agreed to work with Veles, and you're growing more and more thankful for McCain every day. He's managed to give daily reports on the goings on in the ranch in a small journal left in a box near the gateway. The handwriting isn't his, Tai's you wager, and if the shaky scrawl you found underneath it is any indication, one of the two centaurs are trying their hand at learning the language as well. Things have been quiet since you started your learning, the final supports and trussing for the bridge were finished two days before first frost. The crew shifting to lighter duties while the weather runs its course. While not as cozy as your own house, Veles had definitely made the effort, providing you your own set of furs to use as a makeshift bedroll, and your own 'room' to place your things.
You spent the majority of the day with the old snake, eagerly drinking in whatever new tidbit of knowledge that he felt was relevant. He was no teacher, that much was certain, and lessons pretty much consisted of whatever had his dander up at the time. He knew what he was talking about, and could explain it well enough, but planned curriculum it was not. That isn't to say you didn't learn anything, the very first things he taught you were practical applications, controlled flames, shifting earth enough to create a concealed hidey-hole on your own. Conjuring water, conjuration being far more taxing than you expected.
Everything else however, has been largely theory. You'd expected incantations, canned spells, or something to that effect, secrets to make you summon doom upon your enemies. It was anything but, Veles saying that the real limit of magic was your own creativity. However your creativity appeared sorely lacking as you tried to find a way to move this water from one basin to the other without spilling the contents. Veles stressing the importance of finesse excersizes.
>Continue (Give a strategy.)
>Take a break
>Go check through the notes again.
>Go check on the ranch proper.
>Ask Veles about advanced training.
New Backpack - (Sealed)
Repeater - Unupgraded
Sasha: Skill list
Natural Ability (Lamia) +3
Casting (Draconic+4 Roc+2 Leviathan+3 Troll+1 Elemental+1)
Shape the earth into a trough for the water to run through. Or, allow a small trickle of water to leak, the water will follow the past of least resistance, meaning you only have to make small corrections.
For that problem, I suggest that we mentally view ourselves putting the water into a bucket. Then use the image of the bucket to hold our focus on keeling the water in the air until we get it to the other container.
I thought you meant to use our earth magic to construct a trough to force the water through.
That's how I understood it at leas.
Ether way, you should roll for your way of trying it too.
You first attempt to mentally shift the water into the second container with your mind alone, causing rivulets to extend out of it and up into the other one. Veles lets out a low whistle as one tendril extends itself just barely reaching the lip of the bowl before you lose control, a few droplets splashing into the bowl, the rest of that tendril hitting the ground. There's just simply two much moving, too many little parts to account for.
You're still wheezing from the exertion when Veles quietly upends the one bowl into the other. "Once more. Try something else perhaps."
You think back to the burrow that Veles taught you and then focus on the floor between the pots. Gesturing wildly, you raise up some of the and create a makeshift ramp between the two, sinking the empty pot into the earth. You find it far easier to get the tendril of water up into the the trough and let gravity do the rest. It is still taxing however, and you fall back after coaxing the last of the water onto the ramp, catching your breath as it slips into the other jug.
Veles claps his hand on your shoulder. "Good work, the point of this is to show that there are less taxing ways to achieve your result than brute forcing it. Take a bit of a break, we'll continue in a bit."
Shaking your head, you move towards your personal little alcove off of the main chamber.
>Go over the magical notes.
>Go over the reports from the ranch.
I combined votes so as to not have a stall. Your method had a higher DC since you are trying to account for each individual particle if you do it that way. Difficulty scales to how much you are relying on magic to account for it. That's why it failed in its first attempt. It wouldn't have moved if you tried to grab the thing in one go in its liquid form.
That's why I used visualization. It doesn't focus on each droplet of water, it focuses on the picture in your head. You create a force that acts like the bucket and use it to puck up the water. It's not manipulating the water, it's manipulating air to manipulate water. It's much easier to do.
Grateful for the reprieve you snag some cool water from an unmolested pitcher, downing a majority of it as you flop down into your pile of furs. Daisy, having grown like a weed and showing no signs of stopping, is perched on a hastilly tapped coatrack peg on the side of the cavern wall. Grabbing the journal, you go through the last couple days worth of notes.
Tai and Tataina have hit it off apparently, he's teaching her her letters now that the brunt of taking care of Artyom is over. Marie and McCain have been tending to the cattle mostly, assisted in the other chores by Artyom, who's refusal to remove his new armor has kind of negated his usefulness in cattle herding, the polished sheen riling the herd up whenever he attempts to do those duties. McCain had been adding relevant snippets out of his newspaper detailing important goings on in the area. The last of which was a flyer for a sale at Enos' shop, his subtle way of telling you that he bought supplies in bulk.
As for the UFK itself, the mainland is still posturing with the Phoenix Empire, who are still passively denying they have anything to do with the invasion. As for the invaders, neither hide nor hair of them has been seen outside of ransacked settlements on the very edges of UFK controlled lands. Two or three times references are made to 'captured dead' phoenix soldiers who you can only assume are the ones that attacked your ranch. No other successful defenses from their movements being reported. All in all they are like trying move water with a piece of cloth.
You look over to the Iron Book written by Dragon Who was Dragon. Veles has been kind enough to pull relevant entries out of it and translate it into the snake cant. Its been fairly insightful, but in a way that is impenetrable until you actually try it and see for yourself. Next to that are your own notes on magic.
That said, you're still pretty damned tired from your attempt, but you might feel up to another one of Veles lessons.
If we're as tired as you've made us out to be, I'd say it's for the best if we do something non-strenuous until lunch.
>Look over our notes some more. (my vote)
>Take a short nap (about an hour).
>Play with Daisy
We then eat lunch. After that, we'll see what happens.
She should take a nap, can't read notes when we're sleepy! Possibly on a nice hot rock out in the sun? That's usually good for a restful nap, reptilian or not. Then we look over our notes some more!
Hot rocks are in short supply at the moment given its winter at the moment.
You've got some ancient looking ones that Veles handed you, blinders, wrist brace, the like.
You figure some R&R is in order. Slipping on the handling gauntlet, you take Daisy and your notes up to the gateway atrium. The not so little falcon fluttering in agitation as you passed the rookery. Using what you know to light the braziers, and rigging up an impromptu hearth you sit on the balcony above the slew of defunct portals, basking in the heat while watching over the vibrant whiteness of the snow filled valley.
With Daisy happily swooping from perch to perch, you pour into the notes. Nothing else of note on the ranch you dive into the iron book notes. You see where you made your 'mistake' with the water, if you can call it that. From what you glean from Veles' translation, to pick up something of an amorphous shape the amount of magical energy required increases exponentially as you try and 'hold' the liquid together. Apparently creating a magical bucket around water would let it play off each other, but one would have to have the finesse to keep all the water from trying to flow outside of the projection. Or in laymans terms 'Because magic.' is the most energy inefficient way of doing something. For example, troll runes can be created without any outside instrument, but any caster worth their salt would use a focus or an engraver to create them.
You find yourself dozing off reading the notes, and come to to the sound of scratching. Crawling over to the lip of the balcony you see Veles working industriously. Noting your curious look the big snake answers the unspoken question. "Tending to the gateways, while their exits may be gone. I would feel remiss to my sire if I let them lapse here."
>Inspect the gateways.
>Go back to the lessons.
>Visit the ranch.
"Its been a minute since I've checked on my ranch. The Phoenix buggers have been too quiet for my liking so I'm gonna check on it. Did you have anything you wanted me to do today?"
He shakes his head, "Nothing really, more finesse excersizes, I'll come through if I've forgotten anything major. Consider yourself freed for the day."
You nod, beckoning Daisy to your arm as you bundle up the best you can. Focusing on the gateway, you activate the latent magic within opening the portal to your home. Ducking through, you are blasted by a cold that almost forces you back through the other side. Gritting your teeth, you sidewind towards your house, slipping inside in a matter of seconds. Once inside you're pleased to note the tiles within are still warm. You mentally thank your late father for insisting on installing those heating pipes beneath them, and head over to the stove where you stoke the flame.
From the safety of your upstairs window, you see Artyom proudly strutting around the edges of the compound, acting as an icebreaker for a pair of Liama's men. McCain is atop Traveller, plowing through the snow as he tends to the cattle. Traipsing through the somewhat cleared portion is Tai, running chicken feed to the coop with Tatiana in tow. In the distance you catch a flash of red, and see Marie conversing with the workemen, who seem to be checking how the bridge is holding up to its first winter.
But he's out in the field, and the field is covered in snow. . . Snow is cold. Cold is bad. We should either watch everyone from the house until lunch or go to the one that would require going through the least amount of snow to talk to.
Not wanting to hazard the weather if you don't have to, you wait for them to come in for lunch. It doesn't take long, Tai slipping in and doing a double take when he sees you. Nodding in greeting, you let the phoenix empire man get to work, heating up leftovers of what appears to be roast beef, creating some sort of sauce you can only imagine the taste of as soak in the smell of the food.
Tatiana and Artyom are the next in, giving off a respectful greeting as the edge over to where Tai is cooking. Handing the pair some plates, the centaurs retreat back outdoors and you see them heading towards the bunkhouse. Cocking an eyebrow at Tai he simply mentions they've not wanted to be in the way, finding our dining room to be rather... cramped.
McCain is the next in, he's surprised to see you as well, and gives you a rundown of what he's already told you. Only new developments are that one of the cattle doesn't seem to be taking to the cold well, he's got it in the barn, but if the condition doesn't improve it might end up in the larder. Between that and the ones you lost to the mountain lion a few months back, you're still fixing to make a tidy profit, provided future loses are kept to a minimum.
Marie is the last in, sliding in behind Liama who energeticly greets you, informing you that no, none of the damned phoenix bastards had made an appearance. Marie on the other hand reports that most of the work on the buildings near the Casimiran pass has been completed, and the men are clearing the areas for the further built plans, but the ground is too hard to start work on, and until the situation on the other side of the mountain stabilizes, apparently the 'big bossman' who you can only assume is Serrak has put a stay on future building.
>Anything specific you wanted to ask?
Wait, Marie's got a COCKNEY ACCENT?!
I want us to be with her even more now.
>anything specific we wanted to ask
Not really. I just like her the most. I like her even more now that that's her battle-cry.
(I will never stop wanting to romance her.)
I suppose we could ask her for any interesting stories about any mischief she got into while living in the ruins of Citadel.
If there's nothing we can do roght now i suppose the only thing beneficial is go train more in magic so we can be of actual use when spring comes and we either go after the phoenix bastards or go through the mountian
You kinda wrapped up a lot of stuff before we went on the break, right now there are two things stopping you from making money on your trade route, the Kozak/Szlachta conflict in the centaur lands, and the phoenix invasion.
You actively went to learn magic from Veles prior.
You got like a net total of +6 to rolls from your studies so far.
So i'd probably say go back and learn some more magic, maybe try to develop our venoms.
It'll be useful come spring to be a force to be reckoned with considering the shit we need to do. Especially since trying to tackle those two issues isn't really reasonable right now due to the whole cold blooded thing.
It doesn't NEED to benefit us. (It would, though. To some extent.)
It's bonding. Bonding with people makes you closer friends. When you're friends with people they try harder for you.
"Hey Marie, you mentioned you grew up in the what was left of the Citadel."
Marie freezes as you mention it, looking over towards where Liama is chatting happily with a dour looking McCain, who is by and large suffering her attentions. "Yeah, I did. Why?"
"I've not really been to anything bigger than Riverport. I was just curious how life was like there."
"Hard. Above anything else hard. Those who weren't rich lived in the ruins. Those who were rich reclaimed the ruins, pushing off those who were there. It was all legal, the folks in the ruins were squatters and they'd be given 'compensation.' A pittance. Folks quickly split up into two types. The oppurtunists that fed off the hard work of their fellow squatters, and those who tried to make things better. The shadows were part of the latter. For all the good it did."
"Oh. Sorry, I didn't mean any offense."
She shakes her head, "Don't worry overmuch about it. It was a long time ago and quite far away. We did do some REAL good though. Bunch of nobs got together and bought what used to be an old inn. Massive thing, maybe fifteen floors. It'd been making due as a tenament before they hustled everyone out of there and put razor wire all around it. Me and a couple of the other shadows managed to slip in and get everyones belongings out before they toppled it. I hear its a garden now." She grimaces, focusing on her roast beef melt. You feel a sickening sense of deja vu from that story when the door suddenly opens.
Framed in the doorway, covered in enough furs to look like some ancient behemoth is Veles. Disconcerting worry is on his face, the first you've seen him use that expression.
"Something wrong Veles?" you venture hesitantly.
"Someone is tampering with the old gateways. How or why I do not know, but one is picking up a new terminus. Given it used to go to the far northern reaches of your 'UFK' this should not be possible."
Grabbing everyone free, you make with all speed to the gateway. Holding it open you hustle through your war party. McCain, Artyom, and Liama flanked by two of her mercs. Leaving Marie in charge of the ranches defenses for the time being (Her grin on that pronouncement making you nervous.) you head through. The gateway rotunda has grown pretty cramped with 3 lamia, a centaur, an elf, and a pair of armed humans inside. With the others covering the gate in question, you and Veles begin inspecting it, him rattling off a string of information about it in snake cant. Over your shoulder, you can practically FEEL Liama drinking in his discussion. Veles points to the artwork engraved above the dias the gateway would be on. A small gem inset between a carving of an insectoid and a tusked humanoid. Every so often the gem shifts in the light, sparkling
"It is attempting a link. Something has divined its location and is seeking it." Veles says aloud. "If we time it properly, we might be able to divine the diviners location and how they are doing this." He scrawls some sigils into the ground with his blade. "I need to you focus on the sigils. They will act as a waypoint for me. If I were to channel them a link might be created between here and there. There needs to be seperation."
>Roll 1d20+1 Troll Magic
You focus on the sigil, using the same mental processes you do when you open the gate between here and home. It glows a faint blue, almost unnoticeble as you do so, but you ignore it, instead focusing on keeping the thing activated. As you do that Veles places a hand on the gem in the dias. Palm flat to it you see the old snake stare off ahead, as if in a trance before he speaks. <I see blood. Blood is the crux and blood is the medium. Hands dipping into it. Sigils. Not carved, painted. Using the blood. I also smell something foul. Death long since coming but denied. The death scent is mixed with the blood as well. The sigils are Roc in nature. Divination. Of course. Roc Sigils using blood as a medium to channel energy. Inefficient. Effective, but much blood needed. Bodies. Some same as those painting, some different, less different than same. Bloodless. Another gateway, different. Underground. Entire area beneath the earth. Near. Nearer than the land the gateway went.>
He slumps backwards, spent. You and Liama prop the old snake as he shakes himself to wakefullness. "Whoever they are. They are nearby. On this land mayhaps. They know of this gateway. Sense it. It will take some time before they can open. More blood needed for that. Much more."
Well no shit, we set ourselves up right outside this room and as soon as they open the portal you send in an unending torrent of flame. Then maybe follow back and wipe them out, maybe not.
We need the phoenix threat done with in order to start helping with the situation across the range.
We won't, however, destroy the Portal unless we have Veles' permission or they have already made it in. If they over power us, the portal must be destroyed, and anyone still alive must make sure nothing is stolen by them by destroying everything.
Placing things inside of the portal, I'm hoping, will kill them when they try to warp in. This is preferable to Scorched Earth, but Scorched Earth is plan B.
The next few moments are a blur as you begin barking orders to the followers. Opening the gateway to your house you send McCain and Artyom through with explicit orders to get to the nitor as quickly as possible. Shifting the bulk of Veles' torso onto Liama, she and her men keeping their rifles trained on the gateway her tremendous longrifle gleaming as she crooks it in one arm. Moving at twice the speed of slither you duck into the main cavern, grabbing a pitcher of cool water and hurrying it back up to the gateway. Veles takes the thing and downs it in one go, making massive pulls as he drains it. He shakes himself again, trying to get some energy.
<Took more out of me than I like. Roc magic is not my specialty. Blood neither. Spent too much time looking at them I think. Trying to work out what they were doing.>
<Are you going to be ok?> You ask, worriedly.
He lets out a half cough <In time yes. It was only taxing is all.>
<Should we destroy the portal? Stop them from getting through?>
<It would only delay them, and tell them someone knows. They found that one because of the nascent channel between it and its old terminus.>
<You're sure they don't know?>
<They are working slow. Supplies are limited underground I imagine. If I'd guess, concealment is more important than haste to them.> he pauses, then laughs to himself <They probably think it a relic. Untouched but preserved. Fitting. Bst we had leave it alone. I imagine they'd hasten the pace if we closed it down.>
<But what happens if they do start to increase the pace?>
Liama's voice called from over your shoulder, uncharacteristicly hard, <We'll be ready for them.>
And this is it for tonight. Been running since three and it's a weekday so I don't want to ruin anyone's sleep schedule too badly. I'm HOPING to get back to WEEKLY threads here, no promises but things look kinda hopeful for that.
As always thanks for reading, and bearing with me while I vanished for a while there.