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You are Brianna la Croix, journeyman necromancer, and a teenage assassin is asking you to help her be haunted by the ghost of a sad and frightened six-year-old.
That sentence right there is your whole life in a fucking nutshell.
You look at the challenge in Jewel's eyes and sigh. Then you light a new cigarette, because this is that kind of conversation.
"You're right, it is your life. But it's also my job to help people with difficult decisions like this one, and to try to stop them from doing stupid, self-destructive shit. So /if/ Cherry is okay with the idea, I'd like you to carry her lantern for awhile and get to know her, and then we'll revisit this at that point."
"I'm okay with that," Cherry says quickly enough that you tap the top of the brass lantern with a little scowl.
"Of course you are," you mutter, rolling your eyes. "Deal, Jewel?"
Jewel mulls it over, then approaches and offers her hand out. "Deal."
The two of you shake on it, and the pact is sealed.
> Pay your respects to the residents of the graveyard while you're here
> Press on towards the Basement
> Detour to Split
> Head straight home
>Pay your respects to the residents of the graveyard while you're here
We really should check in, get their perspective on how things are going with Cherry, and in the Lichyard in general.
> Detour to Split
Let's not snub the sister. And bring Jewel (and the lantern) with us. Might do them some good to get another opinion on their proposed haunting from someone currently experiencing a haunting. River and/or the old kook (did we ever get a name for the guy haunting Sis?) might have some insights (pro or con) into the implications of the haunting, that wouldn't necessarily occur to Bri.
Good point, forgot about River being out of town. In that case, slight amendment to my vote here: >>45315771
> Head straight home.
Nothing for us in Split at the moment, that we know of. Can give Jewel and Cherry River's address and directions to her house, probably unnecessary to make the actual trip all the way over to Split just for that.
Okay. I was gonna call the vote and write but to be quite honest I'm passing out in my chair and the coffee is no longer defeating sleep.
Questions, comments, discussion, and criticisms remain welcome and appreciated.
Thank you all for reading and participating!
>Pay your respects to the residents of the graveyard while you're here
We need some perspective on Natalia, particularly the POV of the people she "failed" to "save".
>> Head straight home
Hey, here with a dark thought. What if Jewel does want to get laid . . .and it's only new to Cherry in that it doesn't hurt and it's with someone who loves her.
She had a pretty bad father if I remember.
>> Pay your respects to the residents of the graveyard while you're here
>> Get them to pass a message to River.
To be honest, I'm not so sure it's a good idea to let Jewel and Cherry do that. Maybe we ought to ask the gravedwellers for advice, so...
> Pay your respects to the residents of the graveyard while you're here
> Detour to Split
... so we can discuss this with Sis (hurray for alliterations!)
dude, she's SIX. Your average asshole only does so much evil given a set number of years. You can't assume that they just fill out the checklist of Bad Shit as soon as they ping evil.
I'm betting that the worst that was done to her in terms of stunting her development and bad parenting would be beating/ignoring her as a baby, teaching her that her crying would go unanswered.
Protip: That's pretty fucking bad even though it wouldn't be controversial.
Well, that's still a possibilty I guess. We can't ignore how awful Split was until we came to save (and even after). But to be honest, I'm not sure Vox would use that. It seems kind of cheap to me to use that kind of thing just to induce drama. I know that it happened with Lora, but we're talking about a little girl who has been left to die and rot, and even before that was beaten and told she had killed her mother when being born... Might be a bit too much, hm?
Alright folks, I need to hit some chores and the like, then gonna call and update. Also need to get some stuff out of the way for the Mourners KS and make some other arrangements, which may take an hour or two. Now's a great time for discussion or questions.
Honestly I just said that to make you sad.
Could we get one of the family ghosts to pass a message to her haunt? Just kind of a hey hello update?
Or at least leave a message behind about Jewel and that they have second chances in common and that River could probably help her out. Not as a redemption thing although there is that, but because she's the woman in the best position to do so.
I mean at least Jewel will then have someone who understands somewhat the things she's going through - aside from the being 14 thing.
You offer Cherry's lantern out to Jewel. "Keep it safe. This lantern keeps Cherry attached to this world; it is, for all intents and purposes, her body and it should be respected as such. Do you understand?"
Jewel nods. "I'll keep it safe. Though it seems pretty sturdy."
"Oh, it is," you agree. "You could probably beat a few men to death with it if you really had to. But don't, please. Cherry may be a ghost but she's also a very young girl."
"I'll be good," Cherry promises.
"Now I need to talk to my family for awhile," you tell them both. "Jewel, can you take Cherry back to Amy and Nate for a bit?"
Jewel nods, and walks away with Cherry chatting excitedly at her.
You look down at your cigarette, which as mostly burnt up without being actually smoked, and light a new one with the cherry on the end before adjusting your hat.
"Thanks for looking after Cherry," you say to the graveyard.
"Think nothing of it," the old woman's ghost says, rising alone from her grave. "Susanne will be sad that her friend is leaving, but I suspect Miss Cherry will be seeing us again at some point. Not that I can elaborate."
"I understand," you agree. "How was she?"
The old woman shrugs. "She was a little girl, Brianna. She is as little girls are. I was listening to your argument. I understand that your duty is to champion the cause of the living -"
"No shit," you interject.
"/But/," the old woman continues, "it is my personal opinion that it might be good for Cherry."
"I can't think of just Cherry," you murmur. "But I'll keep it in mind. I...wanted to ask you something. Jackson la Croix came down here once, looking for lore on the Mistlands. He passed through the Atheneum and kept going down. Is it still here?"
The old woman grins broadly. "His weapon, you mean?"
You nod, eagerly.
"He traded Reunion to a pirate king in the Sunless Sea in exchange for the secrets he sought. It dwells there still, waiting for a la Croix to reclaim it."
> Leave a message for River updating her on the Jewel situation and asking her to talk her through "Getting a second chance and not fucking it up, La Croix and Friends special service."
You grin broadly and stand. "That's some of the best news I've heard in awhile. It'll be looking for me."
"Oh yes. And whoever holds it will not want to give it up," the old woman warns. "Still, you have my best wishes. Go in peace, Brianna la Croix, and may your grave be warm and remembered."
"Thank you," you tell her, with a bow. "Rest well, honored ancestor."
"One tries," the old woman's ghost tells you, before she slides back into the grave.
When you get back to your friends, Amy gives you an odd look. "Bri, you're smiling like something awesome just happened, and it's sorta creeping me out."
"...I'll bite, why?"
"Because Jewel's been crying!" Amy protests.
"I have /not/," Jewel protests.
"I got good news about an old family relic with zero percent horrible shit attached to it excepting, perhaps, whoever currently owns it," you explain. "It's still down here."
> Tell Reunion's story on the way to the Basement
> Just give the name and tell a different story
> Fuck your storytime, Vox, goddamn.
Are there any similarly storied and exotic and high-quality materials to wraithsteel, but that are perhaps a bit more necromancy-friendly? Is Reunion perhaps made of such a material?
You start walking, and the others fall in with you.
"You've heard me talk before about Jackson la Croix the Cartographer, but since Jewel's a little new to the conversation, and Cherry hasn't heard the story, I'm gonna start from the beginning," you tell them. "Jackson la Croix came from a branch of the family that, as you can imagine from the name, wasn't particularly creative."
"/No/," Nathan says sarcastically. "Don't worry, I literally have the male version of my mother's name."
Amy blinks, then groans. "Fuck, you /do/!"
"Heh. Anyway, if I can continue?"
"Sorry Bri," they say at the same time, prompting a giggling fit from Amy.
"Anyway," you continue. "Jackson didn't become a necromancer himself - he favored alchemy instead - and eventually he left home to seek his own fortune. He fell in love with travel and served for awhile on the crew of a privateer ship, until he fell in love and moved back onto the land to marry. He and his wife traveled often, having a mutual love of the road, and had - if his journals can be trusted - a very nice life together."
"This story's going someplace awful, isn't it?" Amy asks.
"Yeah," you agree. "Jackson's wife, Brandy, caught they eye of a fey who found her body fetching and her creative spirit intoxicating. When she turned the fairy down, he stole her away and vanished into the Mistlands. Jackson was unable to follow and, incensed, dedicated the rest of his life to the art of exploration and map-making, seeking to hone the skills he'd need to get his wife back. He made quite a name for himself in the process."
"So where does this relic come in?" Jewel inquires.
"Ahh. That's where this gets interesting."
"Jackson felt that necromancy might be needed to shield his life from whatever he found in the Mistlands," you explain. "And in any event was inclined to trust family over strangers, and family is mostly, well, necromancers, healers, and alchemists. So in seeking a weapon to aid his journey, he deliberately avoided wraithsteel as an option. Instead, while he was making his preparations and criss-crossing the world seeking lore on the fey and their society, he also sought for a concentration of death energy that he might be able to fold into an appropriate charm, or even armor. Instead he found something no mortal had seen before."
"What was it?" Amy asks, fascinated.
You suck a drag on your cigarette. "A dead angel."
You have to wait for the exclamations of surprise and curiosity to die down, and pause briefly so Nathan can catch his breath.
"Believe me, he was as shocked as anyone else," you tell your companions. "His diary entries from that time took more than two weeks before he could bring himself to write what he'd found. By that time, he'd managed to contact one of the Chosen and petitioned the gods to ask what the proper thing to do was. He'd had no intention of using the angel's corpse for anything, at the time, he just wanted to do right by the dead. The gods told him that the angel had abandoned his vessel and gone on to the Sunless Lands, and that for his courtesy, Jackson's boon was the corpse, and the knowledge that the angel was once of the Sorrows Choir. From the bones and teeth, Jackson had a weapon - some say an axe, others a spear, a few a machete - made, as well as a compass. The weapon he named Reunion, the compass, Faith. But when he emerged from the Dungeon, full of purpose, he had only Faith with him."
Hmm... For a second, I thought the weapon was going to be forged out of pure necromantic energy...
By the way, did Jackson forge the weapon himself? Or is that not indicated in the story?
You flick the butt of your cigarette away and pack your pipe's bowl; you enjoy a few satisfying puffs before you continue.
"Reunion was supposed to have all manner of powers, including making the user tougher, sharpening death senses, and leftover powers from the Sorrow that had formed it, which granted Jackson the gift of tongues and an insight into the thoughts of others. Any or all of these might be false, or they might be /under/-sold. No one knows, because if anyone but Jackson ever used the weapon, they've never communicated about it to the outside world."
"And it's down here?" Nathan asks.
You nod. "He traded it for the secrets he was after, to a pirate king in the Sunless Sea. It awaits a la Croix to reclaim it. To the best of my knowledge, it is one of four angel-bone artifacts known to exist, with Faith being one of the others. To be the la Croix that reclaimed it..." you trail off, wistfully. "The family would immortalize me forever for that alone. For that /alone/."
"What's the Sorrows?" Cherry asks.
"They're the Choir that tends to minds and emotions, Cherry," you explain. "They keep souls in harmony with bodies and mediate disputes between the gods. In that latter capacity, the Sorrows Choir are sometimes venerated by mortals, and some nations and cultures will put up small shrines to them in courtrooms and places of hospitality."
You finally ascend into the Basement.
> Visit the Maze and check on its other monarch
> Head directly home and find someplace to stash Jewel and Cherry so you can talk to Nate and Amy.
> Visit the Maze and check on its other monarch
Huh, I guess that's why a Cartographer went down in legend. Creating artifacts from angel bones isn't exactly something you do lightly.
... Two of four known angel-bone artifacts were crafted by this guy. I wonder what the other two were... And what the angel that they were forged from died of.
Overall, Reunion sounds pretty cool. If also creepy as hell. Although, there's also the question of what secret is worth a weapon forged from the bones of a dead angel, and why a pirate king would know that sort of thing.
My money says a Chain Holder's got a hold of it and is probably abusing it somehow. Either that, or the whole No Good Deed Goes Unpunished thing will happen again, and we'll have to give it up.
You put a hand on Jewel's shoulder. "You know a lot about minotaurs?"
"No ma'am," the girl answers, sensing that right now you're wearing your Teacher Hat.
"Minotaurs are honest people. They respect honesty more than anything else and can't stand to be flattered or lied to. You be straight with the man we're about to meet, and he'll be straight with you. Get me?"
"You too, Cherry," you warn. "He'll smash your lantern without a second thought if you lie to him."
"Yes, Mommy," Cherry agrees. "I'll be good."
You don't set off immediately; you make quite a show of lighting a new bowl and enjoying your pipe so that Nate can rest without you having to tell him to. Amy gives you a grateful look behind his back and nestles between the two of you while the Hero goes back to a human skin tone from his breathless blue.
Then, you set off the short distance to the Maze.
The button signals the goblins just fine; they recognize Nate immediately and ask, in shock, about his leg. Nate explains as best he can, and soon all of you are on your way to Borsh.
The goblin seargent that escorted you whispers in the minotaur king's ear, and Borsh stands with an amused look on his face, brass armor shining.
"My friend," the minotaur booms. "I am told you lost your leg in a mighty battle with a wraithsteel penis."
Nathan looks at the goblin, realizes his error of translation, and you can /see/ the exact moment at which he decides against clarifying and just goes for it.
"Aye, your Majesty," Nathan answers. "And it fucked me pretty savagely, as one might expect from such a colossal dick."
Borsh raises his eyebrows and laughs, heartily.
> "Speaking of being fucked, congratulations on your pregnancy."
> "It's nice to see you well, your Majesty."
> "Borsh, this is Jewel and Cherry. Cherry adopted me."
>"Aye, your Majesty," Nathan answers. "And it fucked me pretty savagely, as one might expect from such a colossal dick."
What happened to "whatever you do, don't ever lie to a minotaur"?
It's not a lie, it's a translation error.
Plus everything Nathan said is true. The snake /was/ both large and an utterly disagreeable being, and Nathan had trouble walking after dealing with it.
Sarcasm is not lying.
Lying is spreading misinformation with the intent to deceive
Sarcasm is spreading misinformation while using your tone of voice to imply the actual meaning of your words.
Ergo, sarcasm is actually really blunt honesty.
As good a point as this would be, it'd also be slightly hypocritical so soon after Bri brought up with Jewel, in Cherry's presence, the implications if Jewel were to want to get laid while haunted with Cherry.
No, I've learned anons can bitch about absolutely anything and stay salty for fucking weeks. QMing is for the sick and deranged who derive pleasure by being verbally accosted and abused by pushy fat neckbeards.
I can't get out
I am sorry to hear of your pain, anon. My audience has been fairly good to me, and I'm very grateful both for their courtesy and their critique. It's been a nice, friendly feeling.
Called, writing, final update of the evening. Woulda called it earlier but I got sidelined by some editing work.
Getting back into the swing of professional writing again feels good, guys. I've missed this.
You take a step forward and bow, sweeping your hat off of your head. "Speaking of being fucked, your Majesty, congratulations on your pregnancy. Lista told me that your delicate condition kept you from the field of battle."
Borsh lets out a thick snort of laughter and claps you hard on the shoulder. "It is good to see you, Brianna la Croix. I take it my wife and soliders are well?"
"You're gonna want to sit down for this one," you tell him. Borsh gives you a curious look, then takes a seat on his throne, humoring you. "When the enemy sprang their trap, your goblins were literally too short to be cut down by their weaponry."
Borsh laughs so long and so loud that his guards come running in to see what's wrong. The minotaur's mirth is infectious, and soon everyone, even the ghost, is caught up in it. You have to pat Nate on the back to stop him from literally passing out at a couple of points, but it was worth it.
Fuck, it was so worth it. You needed that.
"So what comes next for you, Brianna?" the minotaur asks.
"Right now? I need to help Nathan and Amy with their prosthetics. Our newest enemy is using hostages to dictate our engagement, and I'm inclined to cooperate for the moment."
"Sounds like a coward," Borsh opines.
"...Worse, really," you say softly. "She's gone mad. But now's not the time or place. I need to figure out what I'm going to do with the situation and see if I can't learn more about New Hell."
"New Hell?" Borsh leans forward on this throne. "I know some. My clan hails from New Hell, where they work as laborers and, at times, smiths."
> The good news keeps piling up! Tell me more.
> That's /great to hear/. Can I talk to you about it later though?
>That's /great to hear/. Can I talk to you about it later though?
If this guy is gonna explain New Hell, I bet he will go in depth. Can Jewel, Cherry, and the prosthetics wait for this long?
>The good news keeps piling up! Tell me more.
Ok, this is the part where we breath a partial sigh of relief. If Borsh's clan gives us a backdoor into New Hell, we can potentially disarm the hostage situation without resorting to Nate killing his own mother. Granted, we may still have to put her down, just because of what her instability and bitterness have made her do.
I'm just spit-balling, but will Amy's wings need names, like Verve? Or, due to being considered a body part rather than armor or a weapon, are they simply an extension of herself?
I also still support the idea that her wraithsteel wings could amplify and direct her screech. Sonic cannon attack?
They will need /a/ name, for the pair.
Additionally - though you should, of course, verify it - the Baron's mansion contains a backdoor to New Hell already.
Archiving the thread now. Votes will remain open while I sleep.
Questions, comments, feedback, and criticisms are both welcome and appreciated. You folks help me improve!
Thank you all for reading and participating.
Okay, makes sense. A living thing needs a name, an identity. How about a name in bird-speak, to bind them even more to Amy/Falling-Knives?
Anon's should share their ideas too. There could be /a lot/ of different possible bonuses Amy could get, depending on the size, shape and name of her wraithsteel wings.
I think it's important to note that she'll probably keep a future-seeing eye on the hostages.
We might be able to save one escape path when we're LEAVING, but getting to them in the first place might be significantly more complicated. Still, a path in that's different from a path out should help.
Falling Knives(Amy), Soaring.....gimme a minute.
I didn't know a squall was a wind name...
Although we should probably consult with Harry and Isoldt before choosing a name that implies violence. We do want to make sure her wings don't just shred everything they touch whether she wants them to or not.
>Although we should probably consult with Harry and Isoldt before choosing a name that implies violence. We do want to make sure her wings don't just shred everything they touch whether she wants them to or not.
Indeed. I think we'd be better off with something that's more about our general intent: positive emotion, freedom, release from bondage.
You grin happily at the good news.
"Tell me more?" you ask.
Borsh gestures for chairs to be pulled up for the group, and the goblins bring cups of water cut with brandy - a Basement staple, which tastes like disappointment but won't give you diseases.
"New Hell, like much of the Dungeon, is factionalized," Borsh explains. "Unlike most of the Dungeon, conflict trends towards the nonviolent. While I cannot speak for what has or hasn't happened since the rise of your new enemies, the competing forges and foundaries of New Hell were more likely to engage in sabotage, espionage, and bidding wars than they were to harm one another. The inventors and smiths are mainly dwarves and humans, though at least one forge was run by an orc."
Nathan whistles. "Surprised he made it all the way down here."
Borsh grins. "So was he. New Hell also has a strong population of laborers and support personnel, most of whom are not aligned with a particular business interest. Doctors and workers are hired for particular jobs or retained on contract for a specified period of time, at which point they seek other employment opportunities. Most of the laborers will be trained soldiers and warriors, as they must contain outbreaks of forge beasts, fire elementals, and rogue demons. The smiths, as well, are not to be trifled with lightly."
"What's the culture like?" you ask. "How do the people act?"
"Imagine what happens when you take a lot of extremely creative people, all with their own ideas, and lock them in a box full of fire and metal for centuries."
Amy winces. "Kinda assholes?"
"They can be," Borsh agrees. "New Hell is full of brilliant minds that cannot stand the shine of another's glory. They can be petty, at times."
"Room layout?" Nathan asks.
"Heat management is a big concern. Each room tends to be large and connects to the cooling systems through vents. Those cooling systems are the religion of New Hell; anyone harming the pipes or the heat sinks can expect to die an agonizing death. The doors are reinforced steel and can be shut in an emergency to contain a flood of molten metal or an explosive magical reaction. These things are relatively rare by now, as those ill-concerned with safety die swiftly, but they do still happen and if you see a smith moving at a dead run, follow him and don't ask questions."
"Lovely," Nathan mutters. "Not a great place for anyone with feathers either."
"I do not envy you," Borsh agrees. "No army could ever claim New Hell. If you have an enemy to fight, you will need to assassinate them."
You let out a long sigh. "That's. A bit of a bitch, yes. And I'm guessing you left your clan for reasons that make using you as a reference a bit difficult?"
"...Yes," Borsh agrees. "But I may still be able to help you. I need some time to check on the situation and make some decisions - will you be in Lakehallow, if I send a goblin for you?"
"Likely to be," you agree. "Thank you for your aid, Borsh."
"Let it never be said that I was miserly with my allies. Go in peace, Brianna la Croix."
Borsh provides you with an escort out of the Maze, both so you don't get lost and because that's just kinda how it is in the Labyrinth Tribe's territory. Your journey back to Lakehallow is maked by a contemplative quiet from both you and your lovers.
You've got a long talk ahead of you.
"Jewel, I'm going to ask you to stay with a friend of ours for a few hours," you tell her. "I need to have a talk about some pretty personal shit with Nathan and Amy, and if they'd like to tell you about it afterwards, that's on them, but they deserve some privacy for the initial discussion."
"Who's your friend?" Jewel asks.
"Gentleman by the name of Meadows. He's the town's healer, and a good man. I'd take you to see Kells instead but Kells can't leave the water, which makes things awkward. You might ask Meadows to meet the guy, though. He used to be a pirate. Now he's a gigantic undead crocodile."
"/Cool/," Cherry exclaims.
Meadows agrees, fairly readily, to keep an eye on Jewel and Cherry, and immediately asks to see Jewel's nose to see if there's anything more that he can do about it. You give Nathan and Amy a nod, and the three of you set off for home.
You start a pot of coffee and try to figure out how you wanna go about this.
> This is a drinking-class conversation. Pour some rum.
> Get some breakfast (lunch? Dinner? Does eating on the march count?) going first and then break it gently.
> Just shoot straight. You made Nathan wait this long and he's been very patient.
You sit everyone down with coffee and put your hat on the table. You spoon in your sugar, quietly, and take a long sip before giving Nathan your attention.
"You've been very patient, and this is gonna be a shitty conversation," you say with a sigh. "I wanted you...and me...to have a few days to calm down and enjoy life a bit before we had it. Y'know?"
"I know," Nathan agrees.
"Your mother is the Traitor."
Nathan stands up, spitting a stream of curses in goblin. Amy chirps worriedly and stands with him, going to pull him into a hug, but the Hero shakes her off, angrily.
"This actually gets worse," you note.
"OF COURSE IT DOES!" Nathan yells. "WHY WOULD IT NOT GET WORSE?"
"Nate," you say evenly. "Sit down and listen, please. This is very important, and I need to know that you're actually paying attention. There's a lot at stake here beyond just Lora's freedom."
Nathan's jaw clenches, but he takes a seat and listens, silently.
"Your mother is a seer, Nathan. A very strong seer, who can see and process multiple potential futures at the same time. War wasn't the best profession she could have chosen in that circumstance, and it drove her to desperation and madness. In that desperation, she sought something that would focus her visions and let her act upon them more clearly."
"...No," Nathan whispers.
You nod, sadly. "Death was the catalyst she found. In all likelihood, the sin that turned both you and her into woundseekers was a mass sacrifice of some sort. To kill that many people at once, she would have needed a super weapon...or their trust."
Nathan's fist hits the wooden table hard enough to crack it.
> Nate, I need you to stay calm
> There may still be hope for her
> ...Nate, you'll break your hand like that.
>> ...Nate, you'll break your hand like that.
Expressions of outrage are both appropriate and emotionally healthy in a situation like this, but physically hurting yourself is not, uh, physically healthy. Obviously.
>> ...Nate, you'll break your hand like that.
> To kill that many people at once, she would have needed a super weapon...or their trust.
The plot thickens. And again, somebody she betrayed is apparently /alive/. As usual, we need info. We desperately, desperately need info.
The caveat was that she was unaware of it. And while she could be unaware of her betrayal of Nate, given he was kind of a baby when she handed him off to be raised, I'm fairly sure she hates herself for it anyway.
Honestly, I'd like to give him some hope. But it's a bit hard at this point. Calming him down and helping deal with his anger, on top of his /deep/ issues is something that takes a higher priority right now.
We can talk with Lora more later, and research ways around the Sight. We need something better than just 'Well, she went crazy rather then evil, so she might be redeemable' in order to give him hope.
Also, the Traitor pissed off the Baron. The Baron who, while being a scumbag, was at least able to say to himself 'At least I am not the Traitor'. This doesn't say good things about her actions in the last decade. And makes me wonder even more about Dick, and just how involved he was in pushing her over the edge.
The Baron was noted as being VERY loyal. His hatred of her largely stems from the fact that her title and probably the most significant event of her life involve her betraying people.
You reach your hand across the table and put it, gently, over Nate's clenched fist.
"Love," you murmur. "You're going to break your hand like that. And that's not going to help anyone involved in this, is it?"
"Give me one of those damn cigarettes," Nathan asks, frustrated.
"Gladly." You pass Nate a smoke, set two more on the table next to him, and light up the one he's holding. "Please, be angry. If you need a minute or three, I can wait. Just...don't hurt yourself."
"Are you done telling me about Natalia?" Nathan asks.
"No," you admit.
"Then finish up, and /then/ I can go outside and scream until I spit blood."
You light up your own cigarette. Amy frowns, worriedly, but Nathan's personal space is currently projecting several miles from his body, so she sits near you and leans against your shoulder for reassurance.
"Natalia's letter to you suggests that she was trying to avoid what she thought of as her destiny," you murmur. "She contacted me, through Lora, shortly after the battle in the Mine. She asked after you and seemed relieved that you were okay. She's become convinced that her destiny is to unleash death and destruction on the world, and that you have to be the one to try to stop her. She's using the Caretaker's staff as hostages to ensure that I don't go down there after her, and will tell us when it's time for you to go fight her."
"...How was she?" Nathan asks.
"Not doing great, Nate," you admit. "She didn't say much about her own condition, but she's a wreck. She couldn't focus properly, had wild mood swings. She hasn't been sleeping or taking care of herself. She's gone...she's gone quite mad. She's miserable and desperate, and that's going to make her do miserable, desperate things. I don't know how long she's been working for the Master but from the way Brigette talked about her own experiences, I have very little doubt that he's pushed her to get worse and to serve his own ends."
Nathan gives you an incredulous look. "Are you seriously suggesting that she's not responsible for what she's done? What she's planning?"
"No," you say steadily. "I'm suggesting that this might not be the future she wants, and that she's forgotten how to stop or see a way out. I don't know what to think or feel, Nate. I can't bring myself to hate the pathetic creature that came to talk to me. I also can't say that there shouldn't be justice for what she's done. And...ultimately, it may not be my choice. I'm not seeing a version of this where I can be there to help you. If I set foot in New Hell, she'll kill the hostages."
Nathan's lip trembles. Slowly, the Hero puts his head down on the table and starts to cry, in big, wracking sobs that shake his shoulders.
This time, he lets you and Amy comfort him.
* * * *
You've got a busy week ahead of you, but after the prosthetics are dealt with you'll have some free time.
> Visit River
> Stay at home with Nathan and Amy
> Spend some time with Jewel
Welcome to the quest, anon! Always glad to have new readers.
I'm leaving the vote open until just after midnight, as I need to perform Gainful Employment at this point in my life.
As always, questions, comments, feedback, and critique are welcome and appreciated!
Thank you all for reading and participating.
This /should/ drop into normal Interlude Time now. At fucking last.
Well, something I've noticed:
When we have some 'emergency' or 'emotional event' of some sort and you then proceed to show options/exposition, it seems /odd/ and doesn't quite fit to me.
Like, when we were treating Silence it was (exaggeratedly) "OMG you got a slab of iron killing you?! You're gonna die unless I do something! Now let me sit here and explain in detail all the options I can do in a relatively calm manner."
It seems like the pacing/emotional feel don't quite match and I can't blame you (mostly) as this is a hazard of the medium you're writing in as you /do/ have to explain what the options do but at times it seems out of character or just /odd/.
> Stay at home with Nathan and Amy
Did we ever have Shankbird day? I remember our date with Nathan that involved happy fun times in Lark's Barn, but I can't remember ever spending the day with just Amy after that.
As a counterpoint to this, I felt that those scenes do a very good job of demonstrating Bri's character. That particualr sene anon mentiond gave left me distinct impression of an experenced paramedic (if that makes any sense).
AT LAST AFTER TEN TOUSAND YEARS IN THE ARCHIVES I'M FREE (to particpate!). Rejoice for I come bearing .Gifs.
I was surprised when you told us you were a dad, but it explains a lot. Having an ankle-biter of your own kinda forces you to (gasp!) grow and mature as a person. Or, y'know, fail terribly.
>I'm not actually a dad, but having my niece around /has/ made me rethink things.
Besides battling Comcast, caffeine withdrawal, poverty, and the inexplicable madness that is retail, what do you do with yourself, oh Vox? I am genuinely curious, and want to make sure that our illustrious QM is physically and emotionally healthy.
I...try...to only do this in times when Bri has the /time/ to explain. You'll note that this didn't happen when River was in trouble? Silence was in shit but she was in the kind of shit where she could make an informed decision about her own care, and Bri offered it because, well, that's kinda how she was taught.
I do appreciate the critique, though, and I'll keep an eye on it.
Food has been eaten. Vote called, writing.
You are Amy the Dungeonbreaker, and you really, deeply wish that Bri could be here for this.
Harry, Nathan, and Isoldt are carefully creating your new wings while you lay, face-down, on a flat table with your shirt safely away from what is about to be some seriously painful shit.
You're drunk as you can be without passing out and you've got Meadows and Brooks on hand to supervise the procedure, but at the end of the day there's only so much you can do to make having molten fucking metal bolted to your shoulders not painful.
Brianna is waiting outside. She has to. Even being in the same room as smiths working the wraithsteel might spoil the metal. She'd given you a fierce, tight hug, and told you in a tight voice that it was going to be fine. You can see her out the window, standing across the street and chain smoking. The butts at her feet are piling up.
Some Duchess or other is supposed to be in town too, but the militia had conveyed Bri's request for privacy, and she'd sent her well-wishes and her promise that Bri could approach her on Bri's own time.
You feel Nate's hand on your back, warm and gentle.
"We're just about ready," the Hero murmurs. "We're attaching the last of the feathers and getting the cables into place. It should be almost like having your old wings back."
Tears well up in your eyes. "Thank you," you whisper, your throat tight.
"Don't worry about it," Nathan murmurs. He kisses the back of your head. "I love you, Ames."
"I love you too," you tell him. He offers you a polished wooden cylinder, and you slip it into your mouth so he can begin strapping you down for the procedure.
It's so hard not to scream, and you don't always manage it.
The feeling of your new wings is...strange. It's not like flesh and blood at all, and it's amazing how you notice the little things that aren't there - the pulse in the veins, the warmth of the skin. But you can still /feel/ them, still ruffle your feathers and twitch your new wings, feel the air in the smithy and the breeze through the open window.
The moment Nathan unstraps you, you slide off the table, stand, and stretch them.
You let out a little sob of joy at the feeling. You have wings again. All these months of looking at the sky and wondering what it's like, and now - now you can know.
You're not gonna wait another moment.
"They need a name," Nathan tells you.
> What do you name your wings?
How certain are you that Amy would:
A. Give them her own nickname
B. Give them a name that implies lethal intent
Food for thought. I'm kinda handling some unexpeted night chores.
God. That feel when you go to do one thing and end up cleaning the entire bathroom.
Look folks, I'm gonna be honest - the more I chew on it, the more I'm kinda not feeling Shankbird. And I hate saying that because I don't like disturbing the voting process but...I dunno, it feels too flippant, too vain, for this gift she's been given.
So...I dunno. There's a couple here that have been suggested that I like. Or if you prefer, I can give out another ten minutes to change the votes and/or yell at me. But...I think I'm gonna drop the veto on this one.
Considering how long and often you run, and how varied the votes are if you scroll a bit further up, I think it's safe to say that we won't be getting everyone's vote here.
May I suggest you pick one/a couple here that you like?
Oh, I figured that was something largely analogous to a the east Asian naming schema, and that only a quirk of translation made them seem so dramatic. Shit is she naming these in bird?
Considering the emotions of the moment, Amy instinctively calling them something like 'Free-Spirit' in bird-speak is absolutely appropriate. 'Shankbird' just doesn't fit the mood of the scene. At all.
She could always surprise Brianna by using her harpy magic to take her flying.
Alright, I think in the interests of keeping this democratic (and killing this thread...) I'ma cull the options down to the following list and ask anon to pick from among them. This totally isn't a way to soothe my guilt for hitting the veto button, why do you ask?
> Silver Lining
> Soaring Song
> Gift of Hope
Alright, called for Soaring Song, it would seem. Writing, and will try to start new thread and then PASS THE FUCK OUT.
I'm going to be seeing Deadpool tomorrow evening at about 7 PM EST or so. When that happens, I'd appreciate anon's services in keeping the thread of the time bumped, as I'll be unable to attend to it.
You feel the bend of your wings, the glorious movement of the hot forge air as it wafts over your body.
"Soaring Song," you say, your tight with joy. "Their name is Soaring Song."
You feel the wraithsteel vibrate against and into you as it takes its name into itself, but you only have eyes for the door. You hear Nathan's protest, distantly, see Brianna stand up straight in surprise, but right now there's only one thing you want.
You bend at the knees, flex your shoulders and your wings, and launch yourself into the air just ahead of Nathan's grasping fingers and Brianna's shouted, "You'll hurt yourself!"
The blue sky swallows you, and you laugh, wild and free, while you dance with the wind.
* * * *
You are Brianna la Croix, journeyman necromancer, and your lovers are officially in recovery mode.
Nathan's new foot has an odd shape to it, with a curved, flexible bottom that bends and springs when he applies pressure to it. Isoldt had assured you that it would work better for him than attempting to crudely model the humanoid foot, and you have to admit that the demon certainly seems to be correct thus far. It's still taking a fuckton of getting use to, though.
Much like Amy with her new wings, the crazy bitch. You almost had a fucking heart attack when she took off into the wild blue yonder. Right now she's sitting on your bed, wrapped happily in her wings and humming while her feathers chime out a liquid, bell-like tune that harmonizes with her voice.
They're both doing so much better. It warms your heart.
> Stay in and relax
> Suggest someplace to go
> Ask if they mind inviting the Duchess over
Oh that post hadn't showed for me until now, my bad.
> Stay in and relax
I think we should take time to chill after all the travel, and prosthetics, and bad news. Fuck these people need a break
Gonna drop this in here, so that you can get feedback and I don't drag this into the next thread. First, you asked anon to do something petty tricky today vox. We had to play a character other then the MC in a situation where her normal character traits aren't appropriate and needed to make a choice with instant, permanent repercussions without basic options to fall back on, and we needed to do it on a time limit. Second, naming wraith steel prosthesis seems a bit weird to me. I mean a tool is strictly external so it can have it's own theme and it doesn't seem too weird but body parts blur that line a lot things with strong metaphorical significance (hands, heart, eyes, or in this case wings) are less weird but if you asked me to name a wraith steel liver I don't think I could take the question seriously.
WRAITHSTEEL LIVERSinviting Henrietta over. Which I guess means I won't be expanding on the Gdoc with her story in it but fuck it, I can revisit that idea down the road.
Writing new thread.