Welcome to The Lost Island Quest. Last thread our hero, Alan Rodain, participated in some inter-party arguments, summoned a devil and fought that same devil while in free-fall. Now, Alan laments over his broken saber.
http://pastebin.com/W5vqnRBU (Character Sheet)
You stare at your lap. Five or six metal shards. The handle is dented and cracked. You sigh. It will cost just as much trying to fix this thing as buying a new one. That's a downer. A minor one, but still.
“Broke your sword?” You look up from the plush bench you're sitting on in the hallway to see Ed standing over you. Seems he took a break from going through Chant Havelove's room. Chant was actually living in the sixth room of the fourth floor, two doors down from Quissonce. He was your neighbor and you never even noticed him.
“Yeah, dropped it in the fall.” you answer. Ed sits down next to you and gestures for you to let him see your saber pieces. You hand it over and watch him put it together like he was finishing a puzzle. When the chunks of metal are roughly aligned, he places his hands over them and begins to utter the incantations of magic.
As you watch in awe, the metallic pieces grow into each other and fuse. The handle fixes itself, popping out the dents as the magic washes over the sword. Maybe two or so minutes later Ed removes his hands and ends his chanting. He gives it back to you, looking good as new. You swing it once to ensure to yourself it still has the same weight and balance to it. You confirm the weapon's as good as the day you bought it.
“Thanks Ed. You're a life saver.” You sheathe it.
Ed waves off the compliment. “It's a pretty basic spell. Takes barely any effort.”
“No, you've really saved my life. Without you I'd be a smear on the ground outside the tower.”
He blushes slightly at your words, before rubbing the back of his head. “Uh, yeah, I guess so. Glad I could help. That situation was a bit crazy. I'm surprised you just rush into danger like that, Alan. I could never see myself tackling a monster.”
“Well, you can start to now seeing as how you did just that today, Ed.”
“Yeah, but I mean without someone telling me to. I wouldn't say I'm a coward, but I'm definitely not prone to heroics.”
You watch as Dolah exits Chant's room, a young orc boy on her heels close behind. She speaks. “I'm unsure of whether I'd call most of what occurred today heroics. Things, thankfully, turned out for the best. But if we examine the events closely, luck appears to be the guiding force for our success.”
She really needs to stop eavesdropping on conversations. Dolah holds out the Barbazu's glaive. You give Dolah a quizzical look. “Isn't it evil?”
“No, there is nothing wrong with the weapon itself. It may have been forged in Hell itself and crafted with a sinister design, but unlike the revolver,” Dolah turns her head to shout back into the room. “Which I advised Eve to not keep,”
“Fuck you, I want a gun!” Eve shouts back.
“there is no evil nor magical aura emanating from the weapon. And it is masterfully crafted. No one else wished to take it, so I was wondering if you would like it.”
>No, sell it
>Yes, I'll take it
You think it over for a few moments before reaching out and taking the glaive from her. You slip it into your quiver, watching Ed's amused reaction as you slip the oversized weapon into the container like a street magician might manage.
“Um, hey you might want to come in here. We've found . . .something.” Quissonce weakly utters from inside the room.
Dolah enters first, but your curiosity draws you in as well. The room has clearly been gone through in a very thorough manner. Kyra's attention to detail combined with Gabby's willingness to break shit. The efforts seem to have borne many fruits all laid out on the central table of Havelove's dorm. There is a weird decahedronal object, a small pile of valuable mundane objects and standard coinage, multiple books ranging from what may be a diary to more in-depth magical tomes, a collection of arrows, a pair of black leather gloves and armor decorated with animal bones.
All of these finds however pale in comparison to the scrabbling creature that Gabby is holding by the scruff of its neck over Havelove's bed. Red-skinned and tiny, a humanoid with fiendish wings and a scorpion's tail struggles in futility to remove itself from her grip. Quissonce stands nearby, holding her chin in her hand.
“I figured he might have summoned one of these. That's an imp. Baby's first diabolical venture. Weak, easy to summon, easier to control. Much more willing to talk. Smart too. Great for an adviser or a pet or a familiar.”
Dolah loudly clears her throat. Quissonce notices and at least has the decency to try to act guilty.
“Of course, only a really evil person would summon one.” she adds.
>Just kill the thing
>Something else? (write-in)
>LET'S KEEP IT!
"Are they disposed to act like their master, or are they concentrated evil?"
“They are concentrated evil, Alan.” Dolah tells you. “I can tell.”
You look over to Quissonce. She bobs her head a bit thinking before giving her opinion. “Well, Dolah certainly isn't wrong. They're evil. They're from Hell. However, if somebody who wasn't evil bound one to be their familiar, then they would have to do their master's bidding. Of course if asked for their opinion the imp would most likely suggest a course of action prone to evil, killing, death and damnation, but it's not like it would be particularly hard to sift the good insight from the corrupting, insidious insight.”
Dolah sighs before running her hand through her hair in an attempt to sooth her rage. “Alan! You can't seriously be thinking of letting her keep it.”
Quissonce turns to Dolah. “And why not? It's an evil tool, like that gun Eve has. But as I have already proven, as long as you purpose it for good any knowledge or tool can be utilized for good.”
“That's what you call risking the safety of this town? An act of good?”
“Let's see. One kid, saved from torture. Check. One dead evil guy. Check. Sounds like fucking good to me, Dolah.”
“Oh yes. The morality of results. As long as our hubris and stupidity hasn't killed us yet, why not keep going forward!”
“I am tired of you thinking I am a child playing with a loaded gun. I am much older than you! I am MUCH smarter than you! I know what I'm –”
CRACK! Before you can intervene, your attentions are drawn to Gabby. She holds a dissolving, dead imp in her outstretched hand, neck obviously broken.
“Oops.” Gabby says without a hint of actual regret. She drops the imp, only for it to completely disappear before it hits the floor.
>Gabby, you can't just do shit like that!
>Alright, let's check out what else we've got!
>I'm going to go to bed, tell me if any of these things are noteworthy.
>Something else? (write-in)
“What a shame.” you respond flatly. Dolah can't help but chuckle, relieved. Gabby shrugs. Quissonce huffs in exasperation. “Alright, let's check out what else we've got!” Your attempt to change the subject and move forward partially works. Quissonce shakes her head and moves to the table.
“Well, hopefully before any more accidents occur, you could allow me to explain the importance of whatever you're about to break.” Quissonce picks up one of the arrows. “These are enchanted to disrupt dimensional travel for a short period of time. Like the Barbazu's ability to teleport. We have twenty of them.”
(Split it with you 50/50.) Rowe thinks into your head. Quissonce picks up the dodecahedron next.
“This is something Chant writes is called the 'Devil's Crux'. It is a magical puzzle box that once I figure out how to open it, should be able to hold 200 pounds of anything we place in it.” She moves on to the gloves. “These gloves grant magical aid to the crafting of weapons and armor. They also possess a fire enchantment that enhances hand to hand combat.”
“Dibs.” Gabby states.
Quissonce picks up the armor, the bones that decorate it rattling as she lifts it. “This armor possesses some minor defensive enchantments. It also can be 'activated' to allow the casting of the Disguise Self spell and the Unnatural Lust spell once every 24 hours.”
Kyra raises a hand. “I'll take that. Useful for my line of work. Disguise Self is a nice bonus, too.” Kyra raises her eyebrows at you when you catch what she did there.
Quissonce moves on to the books. “Now, most of these are written in a language that H. Stephen calls 'Infernal'. It is the language spoken by the denizens of Hell. Most of Chant Havelove's own writings are written in this language. Now, I don't exactly know the specifics of this language yet. It will take me some time to learn the language and decipher these texts. A task that would have been made MUCH EASIER if I had, I don't know, an assistant who knew the language. Wow, if only we knew and had access to someone who could speak Infernal?” She glares daggers at Gabby who mocks Quissonce by putting her hand over her mouth and miming shock.
“And the rest of this junk might be worth selling. That's all, folks.”
Quissonce gathers up the books and storms out of the room. Rowe hands you ten of those arrows, before taking the rest for herself.
>Alright, what do you want to do now, Alan? (write-in)
You give Gabby a nudge and a nod to show her your appreciation. She gives you a sly smile. You exit the room and walk over to Quissonce, who has already dumped the books into Ed's hands. As she fishes for her keys you offer to help her decipher the texts.
“Alan, do you think you could quickly learn Infernal right now, with no teacher or example.”
You give it an honest thought for a moment. “Nope, don't think I can.”
“Then I don't believe you can help.” She enters her room. Ed follows after her with the books, giving you an apologetic look.
Well, it is getting late and you've had quite the eventful day, but you figure you might want to give Blackburn an update while simultaneously figuring what your next job should be.
Blackburn listens quietly to your story and thanks you for informing him of your escapades.
“I encourage your group to find out about what this Chant Havelove's intentions were. He was brought here eighteen months ago and quickly drifted into irrelevancy like many of the casters with potential that end up in the Circle. I'm starting to believe it might have been a mistake to afford them such independence in their magical studies. For all I know this man could have been plotting the downfall of this city. And I'm not confident he was acting alone. I recommend you decipher his writings as soon as you can.”
Blackburn coughs once and switches topics. “As for work, many of the same tasks are open for your involvement. In particular the breaking of the stalemate our allies the Acidspit Clutch are entrenched in. Searching that ruin in the forest for signs of Island elves. Eliminating or neutralizing that tribe of Greenskins that killed our asset and still harries our scouts and patrols from time to time. Delving that temple that appeared around New Years is also still something I need to have happen. If I were to recommend one task in particular, it would be that one. Recent scoutings indicate that the land surrounding this temple is starting to wither and die. That makes it a bit more pressing of a concern.” Blackburn fishes out some more papers.
“As for new jobs, our allies, the Firegem Nation, are having issues with this General Agus fellow and I am very interested in acquiring his territory if it grants me a fully operational iron mine. The Mountain Riders tribe seems to be having territorial disputes with some creatures called Hill Giants. Apparently they look much like us just, well, giant. They sound quite dangerous. I understand you may not be able to capture one for Gilda to study.” He gestures to the various folders he has left out on his desk.
>Break the Acidspit Clutch stalemate
>Search the ruin for signs of elves
>Engage the greenskins
>Delve the deadly temple
>Take over the mine
>Fight Hill Giants
“Alright, if you think the temple is the most imposing threat that's what I'll handle next.” Blackburn nods solemnly, before pushing the file towards you.
“As I said before, the structure looks like something that would take years to build and it appeared no earlier than New Years. I have a . . . suspicion, it may be some entity's answer to the noise we made that night. Postulates aside, none of our scouts have gone near it. A five-man team of agents, much like your own, were deployed and failed to gain entrance. They claim the dead rose from the very Earth around them and attempted to take their lives."
"Only two of them managed to escape alive. One of them I believe you know. A dwarf by the name of Macarn. I believe you rescued him from orcs a while ago. The other survivor is, well, she's an odd duck among odd ducks. Apparently she was able to keep the undead at bay long enough to retreat. I recommend you talk to them about their experiences personally before you leave."
"As I've said, the land around the temple is beginning to wither and die. The dirt is most likely fallow. If it spreads towards Seaside we will have a starvation problem, not to mention every inch of land ruined by this temple's effect reduces the value of this Island to Ceril's war effort. However, that is not to say you should rush. Be prepared. Your group is too valuable an asset to lose.”
That is the sweetest thing Blackburn has ever said to you, the big softie.
>Talk to the survivors of the previous delve tomorrow
>Spend some time training (what?)
>Head for the temple tomorrow
>Something else? (write-in)
Really QMs live on alcohol and salt.
You bid your goodbyes to Blackburn and make your way to your room. After two hours of tossing and turning in bed you eventually get some rest. You wake up nice and early and do your morning routines.
You find yourself searching for Macarn at The Fighter's Guild. Thankfully Gale is able to give you directions to where the dwarf is this early in the day. You stumble upon him in the dedicated armor room of the place, polishing his plait mail while simultaneously polishing off a bottle of whiskey.
His eyes light up a little when he sees you, waving you over and offering you the last of his drink.
“So, I'm planning to see what's going on with this temple that seemingly sprung up from the ground and I heard you've had some experience with it.”
His expression visibly deflates. “Yeah. Paul and I figured we'd get back out there after the orc snafu.”
“I'm sorry.” you manage to offer as some comfort.
He shrugs. “You didn't kill him. Well, I best warn you. Don't let the skeletons and the more freshly dead ones lull you into a false sense of security. They're weak and easy to destroy if you have the right weapons. But it's the fast fuckers you need to look out for. They can paralyze you with one swipe. That's what did Paul in. Woulda got me too, but The Sculptor managed to get to me in time and keep them off me until whatever the poison was wore off. Then we retreated.”
“The Sculptor?” you ask, confused. Macarn laughs.
“Weirdo. Doesn't speak. Nobody knows why. It's apparently her 'codename' though so that's what we all call her. She's good at healing magic and other, much odder spells. She's spent much of her time helping 'make' the sewers that run under Seaside.”
You scrunch your face up. Macarn nods at your confusion. “Exactly. You'd have to see her in action.”
>Ask Macarn some more questions (write-in)
>Go check the Sewers for The Sculptor
>Something else? (write-in)
You thank Macarn for his information and decide to go check the sewers for The Sculptor. This is going to be gross! You find one of the entrances and descend. It . . . smells rather nice actually. Like someone has lit incense. You use the magical light that emanates from your buckler as a source to see in the darkness of this area. The dull illumination affords you some amount of sight.
This place is rather intricately and exquisitely designed. There is a walkway on either side of the sewer water. Pipes all lead neatly into the flow of waste. For a frontier town this is one of the most advanced and complex sewer systems you could imagine. It takes you fifteen minutes of wandering before you hear what you would best describe as the sound of a cliffside crumbling into the sea.
You follow a bend in the sewer in pursuit of the sound until you spot a woman near a section of rough, unhewn stone wall that contrasts greatly with the shaped stone work around it. A magical light source atop her helmet lets her examine a large cloth map she holds in her hands. She nods once before folding it and placing it back in her pocket. She focuses on the rough section of stone near her and raises her hands. You feel a magical pulse from her as the stone begins to mold itself to look like the sections of wall surrounding it.
After a moment of inspecting her handiwork, she spots you in the darkness. She quickly whips out a small spyglass, hung around her neck by a cord and looks at you through it. She then waves. You wave back and she puts the spyglass away.
Then The Sculptor, you presume that's who she is, jumps off the pathway into the water! Except instead of being submerged in it, she appears to be standing on it as if it were as solid as the stone you're standing on.
She quickly runs across the water, before jumping back onto the pathway when she nears you, kicking up poop water that you back away from slightly to avoid.
She bows once.
>Alright, what do you want to say/do?
That is just horrible. M'Lady tier. Stick to rolling dice Wren.
“How are you able to run across the water like that?”
She shrugs in such a lackadaisical manner you can't help but infer that she is not going to explain shit.
It's most likely magic. You cast Detect Magic. Yep, it's magic.
“Are you The Sculptor?” She nods her head yes.
“Alright. Um, so you were part of the crew who tried to enter that temple to the south a few weeks ago?” She nods her head yes once more.
“Anything you could tell me about it? I'm planning on heading there with my own crew soon and any forewarning would be appreciated.” She puts her finger to her lips and taps for a few moments before she sticks her finger in the air in a manner that indicates she has come to an informative conclusion.
She brings out her spyglass once more and pulls it off her neck. She holds it up in the air. You suddenly feel death wash over you. The very spark that is your soul begins being leached from your bones. You fall to one knee, your heartbeat slowing as if life itself wishes to vacate your body. Before you gather your bearings in time to strike down this foul witch, she flips the spyglass around and almost instantly an even stronger surge of energy flows back into you, granting back all the life force that was taken from you in its entirety. The excess burst of life energy dissipates into the surroundings.
As you catch your breath, she reaches down a hand and helps you back into a standing position. That felt very violating. But still, it's impressive.
>How are you able to do that without touching me?
>What was that first thing you did? That seems pretty evil.
>Do you also worship The Great Will?
>Something else? (write-in)
“How are you able to do that without touching me?” you ask a bit incredulously. Every instance of clerical healing you've seen has required touching the wound or near the wound in question. She pulls out a notepad and writes in it, before handing it to you. Written in big bold letters is GOTTA LEARN HOW TO BURST! You look at it in confusion for a while until she takes it back from you.
“Wait, but what was that first thing you did? It seemed pretty evil.” She gives you a sideways glance, shrugs her shoulders, turns around and begins to walk away from you.
>Teach me how to burst
>Teach me how to anti-heal
>Avoid this person for the rest of your life
>Something else? (write-in)
“Wait!” you shout after her. She turns around to look at you. “Teach me how to burst.”
She nods for you to follow her. You do and end up making it to some out of the way, underground arena she most likely constructed herself.
The Sculptor is a shitty teacher. And you say this as a person who has had Eve as an instructor. The whole not talking deal is a big strike against her. It's hard to learn when the answers you get to your questions are usually a shrug or a smolder or a smack on the wrists.
But even past that, she seems like she's almost trying to not have you learn anything. She'll pull out her holy symbol, the spyglass, and do a burst of channeled energy and then let you spend the next five hours trying your best to do it yourself. She doesn't change your stance. Doesn't grant you any wisdom. Doesn't do anything but stand there like a jackass waiting for you to emulate her actions successfully.
Many times she burst channels 'negative energy', as she wrote down for you once, into your flesh and forces you to try your best to reverse it with your own burst of positive energy. When you inevitably fail hours later she heals you up and sends you back up to the surface.
It almost feels like she is trying to waste your time. Which you think she is successfully doing when a week has passed and all your friends and your lover begin to grow concerned with the fact that you travel into the sewers every day and don't come back to the surface until many hours later. You try your best to wash your clothes and your body when you emerge, but you can't help but feel like the taint of sewage clings to you no matter how hard you scrub.
The Sculptor has one thing going for her and one thing only. She's the only person with access to the divine who can channel energy in a burst like that. You ask around about the other healers in town and no one is able to channel healing in an area of effect, not even Father Calloway. There was one other individual who could manage to channel energy like that and he died a while ago. The Sculptor is the sole example of this technique and you milk the most out of the scant times you get to study her healing in action.
Finally, after a week straight of your sewer sessions you manage to pull off burst healing. The Sculptor claps for an entire minute after your success. She then gives you a thumbs up.
You have furthered your connection to the divine in spite of her.
>Alright, time to head out
>Train something else first (write-in)
Learning how to channel negative energy is a lot easier than learning how to burst. Of course, this may be because you've already spent a week experiencing The Sculptor channeling negative energy. Or it may just be that the concept is easier to grasp. It seems to be comprised on focusing on depriving individuals of life as opposed to focusing on granting life to others. None of your theoretical musings come from your instructor, obviously. She's being as obstinate at actually helping you as ever.
On a whim you try offering her money for her services to see if that might urge her to help you more. The Sculptor just takes the gold and throws it in your face.
Three days of focusing on inflicting wounds rather than curing them and you master the ability to channel negative energy via touch. You realize it's not so much evil as it is pleading to The Great Will for the power to defeat your enemies as opposed to helping your allies. It is faith transformed quite literally into a weapon of destruction. As your touch of destiny grants insight, your touch can now sap the life force from your enemies. You muse that you could potentially incorporate this attack into your hand to hand training with some focus and dedication.
It is almost trivial how quickly you learn to burst negative energy. Again, The Sculptor claps for your success for two minutes straight this time. She ends it with a thumbs up.
>Alright, time to head out
>Train one more thing (write-in)
You inform your team you wish to leave the next day. You also give them a heads up on the types of undead monsters Macarn encountered. Nobody seems to have any pressing matters keeping them from going on this expedition other than Gabby, who assures you she'll manage to find a proper dog sitter within the day.
Quissonce also tells you all she has managed to translate most of Chant Havelove's diary and believes it has some interesting information for you all.
She pulls out a stack of papers, covered in her handwriting. All of it in Elven. She clears her throat and speaks the words to as you sit round your table at The Sword and Shield.
“I finally did it. I summoned the imp. And I managed it without a dove's heart like the book recommended. I ordered him to call me master, but he refuses saying it would get confusing. Turns out, he already calls someone else The Master.”
Quissonce moves some papers around, finding the next relevant one. “I've asked the imp more about The Master. He doesn't know much himself, only that every devil up the chain of command he knows serves or knows of the Master. I wondered if this was their name for the head devil in charge of the domain of Hell, but the imp is unsure. The imp knows the names of the dukes of Hell and The Master is not one of them. Whoever this enigmatic Master is, he has me intrigued.”
Quissonce moves to a new page. “I hate that stupid paladin bitch! I hate her! I hate her! I hate her!” Dolah starts to chuckle. Quissonce looks up at her. “This goes on for two more pages. I don't believe this man was playing with a full deck.” Quissonce goes back to the writings, looking for the next relevant quote. “That's it, I'm going to summon something strong to kill her. Any more of her religious zealotry and I'll be swimming in a town full of stuck-up, mindless believer-drones.”
Gabby's turn to laugh. “You know, guy might have been a bit extreme, but I can relate.”
Quissonce grabs a new page, the last one. “The Barbazu was a lot more knowledgeable than the imp. When I asked it about The Master, it said The Master was running a temple nearby. It told me I should vacate Seaside and pledge myself to his cause. I didn't get into this business to be some entity's slave! I ordered the creature to slay the target and then go back to whence it came if it was going to bother me with such trite. The payment he asked for was peculiar to say the least. He wanted a chance to slay that Alan fellow who lives next to me.”
This gets your attention. Quissonce locks eyes with you for a moment, before turning back to reading.
“A murder in payment for a murder? Fine, I don't care if he lives or dies. I obviously added the stipulation that the devil was not to harm anyone while we were in the Circle. That would be much too close for comfort. I wouldn't want that orc whore traipsing in here trying to impose her God's will on this place. While the payment did not seem much, it did intrigue me. I asked the Barbazu why it wanted to slay some nobody sorcerer? The Barbazu told me that nobody sorcerer should have me paralyzed with fear. I asked, rather insulted, why should I be afraid of him? What made him so scary?"
"The Barbazu laughed. It laughed for a long while. When it's laughter had ceased it affixed me with a stare that was equal parts hate and terror. It uttered one word. And only one word.” Quissonce takes a pause before she finishes, seemingly trying to wrap her head around the meaning of the ending. “Assimilation. And then it was off.”
>End of Thread
I will most likely run this next Wednesday. https://twitter.com/TrickQM
Huh... what we've been doing isn't really assimilation but rather guided adaptation. Maybe there's something more to the inexplicable learning that seems to break the laws of magic and reality. We should attempt to learn more about different forms of mimicry and learning.