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Jotnotes

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  1. Welcome, my friends, to Act 2! Having survived their ordeal at the ferry store, the party finds themselves pulled into the river after the ferry tears the earth beneath them apart, supposedly drowning them all. When they come to, they find themselves in wholly new places, seemingly alone and cold, but thankfully out of the rain--for now. There'll be maps incoming sometime after work, but currently I'm running out of time to produce them. Instead, I'll be giving each of you written details on your environment to work with privately so that you can each describe where you've wound up in your own words. This will be similar to how earlier I would DM details to you instead of putting them in a public space. As always, you can use this information as you like, to write whatever you prefer from your own perspective. This will continue for about a round or two (maybe three if progress is slow) before I provide each of you with a map of where you are currently. That said, I do have a few things to mention. Namely, nobody in the thread is alone right now. Each of you has been paired up with one other person, who will be your writing partner until the group reunites. Feel free to DM them anything you like in order to hide extra details from the rest of the party, or just to help coordinate your actions! Your partners will be assigned in those DMs you get later, so I hope you'll remember to include them in your starting posts. That said, I think @Rabbit gets to post first. Check your Inbox for details!
  2. Maat and Quill spent a short amount of time checking the others for wounds. Fortunately, it appeared as though they'd come out mostly unscathed save for Lumina--even Maat, who'd been forced to jog out in the wind and rain for five minutes to buy them time wasn't in that rough of shape. His clothes clung to his body like a frigid blanket, his hair clung to his skull, like the ears of a terrified cat. But he wasn't hurt, at least. Quill listened to the wind and rain buffetted the workshop. Heavy raindrops sounded like hammer blows raining down around them. There wasn't any noise at the door yet, the telltale crashing of the things outside wasn't audible, quite yet. Maat made his way towards Iohmar to talk while Quill slowly sunk to the ground to rest for a moment. Her long sleeves had kept the rain off much of her body for now, but the rain had chilled her to the bone all the same. From her spot on the ground she surveyed the others as they moved around. It was kind of invasive to see people like this, at their most vulnerable. Coming right off of the precipice of death, from the jaws of fate back into the cold, cruel world left people--left all people--with a lot to think about, a lot of repressed feelings to work through. Quill had her own feelings to work through too, and she would later on, but the situation required composure, and she took it upon herself to be a fount of composure for a while. "I don't suppose that thing has an air exhaust I can use to dry off?" Maat joked, trying to speak louder than the generator. The tabaxi working the engine didn't look too worse for wear, which was good. From the looks of things, almost everyone was doing well. Except for Lumina. Maat had forced himself to look away, to walk quickly past her after watching Quill check in on her. He had to; he couldn't stomach the idea of seeing her injured, when the rest of them weren't. Maat did his best to ignore her for now, for both of their sakes, he assured himself. He crouched next to Iohmar and checked out the roaring, rattling machine before them. "This is kinda old," He noted, taking note of the rust and sea life spawning on it. "Do you suppose they pulled it out of the river or something?" The back of the wall behind the machine had a small hole which led outside, through which the cables that supposedly pulled the ferry in exited through. These holes weren't quite big enough to fit his hand into, but Maat wondered, briefly, if the building was as old as the machine. If he'd had more time previously to look it over, before everything went wrong, well... Maat hesitated, as he recalled something. Well, if he'd been here to check things out, he probably would have died. Unlike the others, he had no magic to protect him from intruders, no means of stopping a lumbering abomination from striking him town. Earlier, when he'd come across Iohmar and Lumina, having faced down the thing, they'd gotten out with hardly any scratches. Maat, on the other hand, likely would have ended up pinned to a wall, like the poor guy inside of the bathroom. Shoving that aside, he changed the topic for his own sake. "You got that running pretty easily, by the way. I'd say you probably saved us." He didn't know that yet. The ferry hadn't arrived, but he chose to ignore that. "What kind of ferry do you suppose this is going to bring across?" Then, the rain and thunder was drowned out by a horrendous, radiant noise like the sound of angels' trumpets, and the splitting of the sky. Through the roof and walls, the noise still threatened to wake the party from their nightmares. Yet despite the noise, they were still here. The noise---a foghorn, like that on a lighthouse or a boat--had roared across the river. Maat glanced towards the rest of the party. "I guess that's our ride. You all ready to move?" Quill insisted on helping Lumina move to the door, and Maat agreed to take the helm. The group had one last look around the workshop to find anything of value--weapons or supplies of any kind--before Maat braced his arm against the door. He listened for any movement, or sound, but beyond the roaring rain and wailing wind, didn't hear anyone coming. He waited one, two, three seconds--then shoved it open. It flung wide open, and Maat was immediately assailed by rain again as it blew through the open doorway, a literal wall of rain and cold threatening to bar him from passage. It wasn't enough to slow them down, and Maat pressed through with the others in tow. Beyond the workshop, the shambling horrors weren't immediately present. Or rather, the lights shining off the sides of the buildings couldn't capture them in its glare for the time being. For now, at least--they could hear the rattling of the fence, the banging of fists on walls and doors not far off. These noises, too, should have been lost in the rain, like the shrieking of the door as it crashed open, but they were clear. Distinctly so. Maat moved to the river side, which in the rain now seemed to stretch on far further than he could remember. Had they been able to see the other end before? The half-elf tried to think about it, but between the pouring rain and freezing wind had a hard time focusing on anything beyond the river before them. It was the first time Maat had taken a proper look at the river, and it took him aback. It was massive, and loud. The water, hundreds of thousands of liters of icy fresh water, roared past at speeds that put the Rollerbus to shame. The banks were steep, and tall--signs of clear erosion on the shores painted the picture of a disintegrating shore, being swallowed by the sea. The Sea? Maat questioned his own thinking then, as this was clearly a river, and yet the image it painted wasn't one of a knife cutting through the mainland, but a large, living mass swallowing the shores, a grain of sand at a time. Between the river's size, and the monsters behind them, it slowly dawned on Maat that this couldn't be really...real, right? A river this big doesn't go unmapped. A whale being caught far off the coast doesn't happen on it's own. No no-name town has a thriving whaling industry, without being bigger than a no-name town. As if to affirm his concerns, the ferry loomed out of the rain and dark before them, larger than life. It wasn't a ferry. Not in the etymological sense, surely, but perhaps functionally, and yet even then that felt doubtful, like a practical joke. To call their approaching vessel a ferry was akin to calling a giant a rather tall man. What slowly crept across the roaring river towards them dwarfed not only the shop next to them, but the trees around them. Her smoke stacks stuck out, high as sky scrapers, the vessel seemingly as wide as the river was. Porticullis on the side suggested untold depths to the interior of the ship--the deck was too high to see from here, but was adorned with walkways and staircases, rigging and abandoned supplies. The 'ferry' could have been a battleship, for all Maat knew, or a oil tanker, or something, but he had no way of knowing. Moreover, the ferry didn't stop when it reached the shore. With a heart-stopping thunder of the horn again, it slammed into the terrain and began splitting it asunder beneath their feet, as if the ground itself were ancient ice and stone, splintering beneath the powerful hull of the ship as it bore down upon them. This close, it looked less and less like a vessel, and more and more like Jonas' abomination--ready to swallow them, to inter them for their sins. Maat stumbled as he turned around, but found his footing as he shouted for the others to do the same. "Get back!" He shouted. "To the rollerbus!" The party attempted to flee backwards, while the encroaching vessel devoured the earth behind them. They couldn't outrun it--couldn't find their footing as the ground beneath them split apart, casting the party into the river. Frozen salt water gripped at them like the icy hands of the dead, threatening to shove them beneath the hull of the ship as it marched onwards, and onwards and onwards. Maat swallowed a mouthful of sea water, surfaced and thrashed, looking around for the party. "Quill!" He cried, straining to be heard over the roaring rain. "Lumina! Help!" Could the others hear him? It wasn't certain. Slowly, and yet quicker than they could ever comprehend, the river swallowed them all--land and person alike. Maat came to in the dark, surrounded by the sound of the rain and waves, and the smell of putrid water, old brine and stale air, and the distinct absence of light. His body ached--his lungs ached and his throat felt scratchy. With a weak groan, he attempted to move, and immediately threw up. Based on the smell around him--his wet, warm knees and arms as well--he assumed, with the faintest of critical thinking, that this wasn't the first time he'd attempted to wake up and thrown up for it. This time however, he was still awake, which was probably an improvement. The half-elf groaned softly, and rolled onto his side, out of the filth for now as he struggled to catch his breath. His voice didn't echo, but certainly reverberated in wherever he was, so it was likely an enclosed space of some kind, not that he was really able to think on that right now. His body felt like it was made of glass; any rough movement might shatter him into pieces. His clothes were damp with sea water and vomit, and his skin felt cold to the touch. Was he dead? Buried, perhaps? He was able to think about that much, and experimentally moved his hands in all directions, feeling the ground beneath him only. It had a texture to it; a sort of diamond-like texture, that was cool to the touch. He rapped on it gingerly with his hand--it clanged, like metal. He sat up, and glanced around, hoping to spy a light in the dark, and found little. The urge to call for help was difficult to resist--but his unfamiliar surroundings kept him from giving away his position. Instead, he tried to focus on what he could remember off the top of his head. Maat and the party had started the engine, waited on the ferry and... Maat paused. The ferry? It was a bit bigger than a ferry, right? So big, in fact, that it'd split the earth apart with supposedly zero effort. They'd fallen into the river--Maat recalled then, the sting of swallowing sea water, the darkness of nothingness threatening to take control of him and the short, painful oblivion beyond it. Then he was...here. He supposed, then, that someone had dragged him out of the river, and put him someplace else. But who? Where? Maat still couldn't see, but he hadn't heard anything, either. Without any other recourse, he decided to push his luck. "I appreciate not being dead, but could I trouble you for a light?" He asked the abyss before him. Naturally, shouting into the abyss did nothing.
  3. I haven't forgotten I owe posts, I just like drawing girls.

    1. Houndy Poochykins

      Houndy Poochykins

      Do you take commissions?

  4. No worries! Pyrrah, using her senses alone, can probably determine right away that the arrows used were most likely poisoned. Tracks and footprints suggest that some of the loggers likely caught on to their attackers and attempted to flee, but didn't get far before getting struck down. It wasn't just arrows used to down targets, either; some of them have seemingly been struck dumb: the body is intact, and maybe even breathing, but the brain isn't working anymore. Other bodys have been splattered against the ground from heavy strikes--these bodies were likely hit more than once--something knocked them down based on skid marks and trails in the grass, before being flattened by something else. Lastly, none of the men or Verm here were armed, seemingly. In fact, there aren't even axes or saws remaining here, but the bodies definitely have scabbards on them, and nearby logs and trees have axe scars on them. As for the arrows, it's hard to place exactly where they came from, without a precise autopsy, and maybe even ballistic records (which regrettably aren't immediately available and will take a little time to figure out)
  5. Didn't have too much to do with this post; just needed to paint the scene and give you three the chance to investigate it on your own. In your next posts, I ask that you take your time and focus on various parts of the crime scene for whatever evidence you may find. If you want to know more about the crime scene, or want to do something in particular that I haven't mentioned yet, talk to me in here. Tell me about what you want to do in the OOC chat here in advance, and I will send you some more information for you to work with! This will allow you to experiment and approach the scene as you see fit, so please, have fun with this part.
  6. Krakch mulled over this information silently, while Veron turned to speak with the metal-thing. The Shkei wasn't someone the slaver was familiar with; in fact, he hadn't met another Verm of any breed that also carried the Blacktear name. To Verm, last names meant nothing--to Krakch, it was a formality that the Merchant's Guild required for paperwork-things that he didn't care for. Necessary, for him making money off his work. To hear of another Verm-thing that held the name, and gave it...reverence, or significance perhaps, was unheard of. This revelation made sense, then; Veron probably existed from a world before him, before Nesthome. What a strange thing, then, for him to continue to care about the wellbeing of his brood-kin. What odd world did Veron come from? He put that aside for now, in the interest of the work. It wasn't hard; in a moment Krakch expunged his mind of wayward thinking and slinked off while the others were distracted. The guard patrol put distance between them and the wagon quickly--far too quickly for Susie to get an answer to her questions, and yet at least she didn't seem quite as confounded by the android's appearance. Whether her words fell on deaf ears, or if the elf's blatant disgust for Krakch was enough to keep her from lingering to talk further, was a mystery at that moment. Thus, with little other prompting, her drones were able to set off in order to gather information about the road ahead. The road ahead, speaking of which, layed around a long, slow curve---like an elongated C-shape--that eventually straightened out and continued forward, to the crime scene. The trees overhead weren't dense enough to hide the sky, and so the absence of smoke was not insignificant. As Susie's drones passed through the bend and came upon the site, it was immediately plain what awaited them. The road beyond the bend was still an ongoing logging site, and men and verm alike laid around the site. A few of them may have been alive, but if they were, it likely wasn't for long. While the drones approached, they were able to spread out, and take in the scene. The site was approximately a mile long through the wood, but hadn't hacked through enough of the wood on both sides of the road to get more than thirty meters into the woods lining the road. Stumps of massive trees laid long dead on the sides of the road, ancient bones of a dying species, slowly being scrubbed from the continent by the militant Verm. It wasn't all stumps and bodies, however--two, particularly stout-looking trees, remained among the stumps and bodies, firmly away from the rest of the treeline. One of these was closer to the road than the other, and both were on the right-hand side of the road. Beyond those two, however, there were only stumps in the clearing. It was on the stumps of these long-dead giants, and the greener stumps of the newer dead that the men and Verm working through the forest laid. There had to be at least another two dozen people dead here. Many of them appeared to have been running--there were doubtlessly tracks to be found on closer inspection--while others, at least five or so had been struck down where they stood. The strikes, speaking of which, appeared to be a collage of brutality. Many of the corpses, still warm, were riddled with four or five arrows apiece, and yet a number of them hadn't been hit at all with any visible projectiles--no bullet wounds, or scorch marks from sorcery. At least one of them, curiously was a mangled and crushed creature--flattened, almost, by brute force. The poor Verm was splattered across the grass, staining it red. There were wagons here too, destroyed and mangled beyond repair, their cargo left where it was--logs, recently hacked down and prepared for movement. The beasts of burden designed to move them around were nowhere to be seen--possibly horses, or donkeys? Naturally, there were no visible targets to be found anywhere, at least from the Drone's view. However, this was expected; from the Grey Seer's briefing, it was understood that these attacks weren't aimed at stealing the supplies most of the time; they left bodies and lumber alike when they left. Whether they were still around or not, was another matter entirely.
  7. I'll have a post up soonish, then!
  8. Just looking through the posting order. Would @Rabbit or @Zashiii like to get a post in edgewise, or shall I move us forward
  9. I will be detailing the crime scene in my next post, which Susie will likely get to observe first. If you like, you can do as Verin suggested and wait, or forge ahead if you prefer. However, I won't be describing the crime scene until later, so you won't know what to expect.
  10. It is now @Die Shize 's turn to post. Truth be told, I'd be pretty amused if the Verm took up Susie's offers, and the Verm bastardized their technology, creating like robotic servants and junk, or autonomous weapons.
  11. Oh, and if it helps you write, Krakch definitely glanced over Susie's chassis for a little bit.
  12. Sorry for the long delay, all. It's been a rough few weeks! 🐀 It is @MyStalker's turn. Do keep in mind that the tree line is pretty far off, so Susie is probably fine to do whatever you please. Just remember that the magic of the forgotten woods is in the trees, so that should be your sort of guide line. Think of it like the shade of a tree, even! 😛
  13. The Verm appraised the group as they slowly introduced themselves, and gave them a further appraisal when Veron introduced himself, although his second passover didn't seem any more intense or careful; it felt more like the Verm was doing his job twice because his boss had unexpectedly arrived. Krakch especially closely at Veron when he spoke to him, and passed him a bag of dried food. He accepted the nuts easily with his free hand, the one with the heavy gauntlet wrapped around it. Upon closer inspection, it was easier to see that it was less of a gauntlet, and more of a loose assemblage of cannibalized parts--each finger was detached, and fitted over the rat's claws, like thimbles that crept up to the knuckles. These fingers were topped with thick, crude plates on the top and bottom, fastened with clasps of doubtless human origin. What appeared to be a rope--perhaps a grappling hook, or climbing rope--attached to the bottom of it appeared to be a lasso, or perhaps a noose. It dangled freely when he reached for the bag of mixed nuts, somewhat ominously encircling the Verm's own neck from the party's perspective. "Shkei-Blacktear? Strange-times." He noted passively. He didn't appear too enthused at the prospect. That wasn't particularly surprising, though; this meant much more to Veron than it did to Krakch. "If Shkei-Thing wants hear-say about Blacktear-Den, Shkei-Thing will get hear-say, yes-yes." "But mercenary-things should work-work first." He added, before gesturing to the group. "This-way, mercenary-things. Much-work to be done, yes-yes." Krakch led the party towards the gates Veron had entered through, and allowed the party to recover their wagons and company if need be. Through small talk and careful observation, he surveyed Veron's company with something that might be considered interest. After all, the Lost Scions were something of a large presence, even in a greater developed Tradetown, and their diversity was something of a curiosity for the Task-Rat. Before too long, he'd approached several Scions and investigated them closely, taking in as much about them as he could, but wisely choosing not to touch any of them. Among those he found the most interesting were Wruzree. The Drow's elegant facial features and stature were a natural lure for the Verm, who scrutinized him plainly, as if trying to mentally unassemble and reassemble his physiology. He didn't lay a hand on the Drow, but the stare was nothing if not violating. "Darkling-thing reminds this one of fae-things," He mused politely as his only way of speaking to the Drow. "This one wonders if darkling-thing sells-well like fae-things, also." His inspection of the various Scions he demonstrated in interest in only reaffirmed his slowly emerging profession to those on display. Each survey, each glance-over looked as muscle and fat mass, assumed how easy it would be to keep them fed, how hard it would be to collect them alone. It was never said out loud, but Krakch appeared to be well-versed when it came to collecting and selling bodies. He allowed Veron, if Veron elected to step in and do so, to introduce him to a few of them, but rarely offered his own name. He simply analyzed them, and even offered a few compliments here and there. He was especially pleased with the Gnoll woman he was introduced to eventually. "Hyena-thing has strong-fine bones," He told her plainly. "Would keep Hyena-thing for this one's self, yes-yes." With Krakch Blacktear firmly demonstrating a great lack of respect for personal space, cementing him as arguably the hardest to like Verm dwelling above ground, the party began to assemble. Krakch divulged that he was already privy to the situation at hand, and was instructed to take the mercenaries out to the sites of recent attacks to investigate and look for clues. From there, it was a matter of looking for clues, survivors of the attack, and perhaps most importantly, a safe means of reaching wherever the raiders were hiding out. With that in mind, Krakch turned to Veron and gestured at his company. "This one wonders; does Shkei-Veron hope to bring along all-bodies? It can be done, yes-yes, if Shkei-Thing chooses. Or, mercenary-things could travel-move lighter-quieter." He gestured to himself. "This-one cares-not. Verm-Krakch can keep-distance from noisy-things if he must-do." With that, he allowed Veron to decide who among his company would join them, and without waiting on further ceremony got everyone out of the gate. Travelling along the well-trodden dirt roads out of Tradetown was quick and easy, and relatively safe closest to the walls. This close to the city, the woods were thinned, and the guard stations were dense, with incoming traffic overburdened with weapons and supplies. Just as before, Verm strapped down with iron and leather plating, wielding long poles and spears exited the city alongside empty carts and workers, and carts filled with pulverized soil and clay, or wood and refuse, came back in, punctuated by the occasional Trader's Guild wagon. These wagons rarely featured only Verm guards; hardened mercenary types appraised the Scions as they passed each other by, armed with crossbows made of blackened wood, or well-preserved blades. These mercenaries were flanked usually by the meek Nesthome guardians themselves, in their ratty gear and mismatched weapons. Inquisitive noses twitched at passerby as they sailed past. Krakch chose to clamber up next to Veron at this point to speak with him, as he said he would. "This one has to say-so, but Verm-Krakch has never-met any other Blacktear-Verm," He informed him. "This one knew-not that Den-Blacktear was known. Brood-Blacktear is the only Broodmother to hold Den-Name now." Krakch was able to answer Veron's questions to satisfaction, more or less. According to Krakch, only one Broodmother held the name Blacktear now--an oddity on it's own, given that scarce few Broodmothers were named now. Broodmother-Blacktear was still well-fed and protected, interred deep in the heart of Nesthome and as far as Krakch knew, was probably best known for how healthy her litters tended to be. Yet, curiously, she never had any daughters--her litters were always male according to Krakch's knowledge, and for the most part, they were well taken care of. By his own guess, more than a few from Blacktear tended to be fed and trained to serve as soldiers. As for his last name. "This one was-not given-name." Krakch explained as they travelled. "Instead, Verm-Krakch found-name from Merchant-Place. Krakch sells-well with Man-Things, and Man-Things needed-name for records. This one guesses-thinks that Shkei-Veron works-also with Merchant-Place. Man-things must-keep Blacktear-Name on record-keeping, somehow." And yet, for all his willingness to answer questions, the Verm didn't really seem interested in asking questions of his own. Once Tradetown vanished from view, he eventually, perhaps even abruptly, stopped speaking with the Shkei long enough to disengage from the group entirely and vanish. Well, not vanish. He was visible, somewhat in the grass and brush, and behind the various projects going on on the sides of the road. He shadowed the convoy from a distance, keeping an eye on the woods to one side as they moved further from safety. As the distance grew between them and Tradetown, their pace didn't slow by much at first. It appeared to decay as their distance grew. This far out, their guide began to distance himself from the group further. The projects on the road were still ongoing--men and rats worked in tandem to hack down trees and upturn the holy earth in search of clay and minerals, while others stoked fire to incinerate refuse or fell trees with the fire. Wooden towers with dense walls and light roofs dotted the sides of the road, stacked with watchmen--typically rats, armed with bows or crossbows, who kept a weather eye out on the wood lines as they moved. Guard patrols moved around as well, stopping frequently to check in with workers of all kinds. One of these guard patrols flagged down the convoy as it passed, and the patrol--a tall, woman with smooth, dark skin and pointed ears, glanced up at him on the wagon. She was lightly armored with tight leather gear, but also wore what appeared to be a heavy cloak to protect her back a bit more. Her crossbow--a heavy looking thing, by human standards, was also tipped with a bayonet roughly seven inches in length. "Sorry to slow you down, but the road ahead was hit quite recently," She told him grimly. "We're waiting on the Rat King to send some of his people to take a look at it. If you're moving supplies, you'll need to wait here." Krakch appeared briefly to speak up. "These are Seer-Szabit's Mercenary-Things," He told her. She recognized his voice before turning to look at him, and her lip curled in disgust. "Slaver-Krakch is guiding you through here, then?" She glanced at the wagon behind Veron, doing what she could to avoid looking at the Verm. "Alright then; head on through, but keep your heads on a swivel. There's no guards in the area for now--we're not risking another patrol to any nearby raiders." She and her partner, a bespectacled goblin armed with a spear and a shield, walked away quickly. Krakch watched them walk off, and about ten seconds afterward, the tall woman shuddered as if she could feel his stare on her back. Once they were some distance away, he glanced up at the wagon. "Roads ahead are not-guarded, Mercenary-Things. How shall we-go?"
  14. The aisles blended together into a long-running corridor of wood and velvet shelving, long-running monoliths that as time wore on, made less and less sense. The esotericism of their design was akin to a a repeated phrase, a mantra in the physical sense that threatened to drag on until the words turned to mush and rot in the mouth, and their meaning obscured by repetition and routine. The walls bore fruit of a forbidden nature; wooden plants as tall as the sky and adorned with paper produce that the acolyte could not muster to retrieve on his own, lest he risk the vulgarity of whatever twisted retribution the mortal gods behind this bibliotheque had conjured in response to such primal thievery. The not-thief; the scrawny man behind the mask, clutching the book to his chest, dared not reach for those other texts, as he was still very much in a spirited pursuit. As he meandered through the bookshelves at a pace that didn't feel like a meander, M'yr quickly grew accustomed to the reality that his pursuers, the four or perhaps twelve men who were following him now weren't quite as lost in the shelves as he would have originally aspired, which prompted a few invasive thoughts about the nature of navigation in a place without direction. Indeed, it may have been possible that in such a place, you didn't need to know of which book you desired, but rather needed only to know where you wished to be, a natural defense against one such as himself, where his only desire was that of desertion and concealment, and his hunters the singular focus of entrapment and stoppage. Yet the guards were always behind, and never ahead--indeed M'yr felt as though he must be ahead for that was the design of a chase but if the guard's intention was corralling, would they not be ahead of him in head, and also in body? M'yr chose to be quieter, rather than wiser, and elected to dive into another alley at random instead of ask questions. The mask on his face was mercifully unseen by his own eyes, such was the nature of perspective of course, and yet with the current discourse of perspective what with the shelves, he began to worry that it was even there. The visions were thankfully less hazardous now that he was on the move, although not unseen. The stench of rotting fish, and the ringing of a distant ship as it drew into harbor sort of made him happy to return to the sea and flee this place. The mask however, was wily not without M'yr's consent, and to give consent M'yr had to be aware that it was required, else such an agreement could not be arranged between man and mask, and apparently this was the sort of deal an inanimate object was fine with making with a man, or so M'yr had to believe. It's mirages were soundly divorced from the world of men, and more relegated to the world of masks, and with the mask upon man, there wasn't quite any reason for M'yr to assume the two were the same. No, there was no port to crawl into, in here, although he certainly wished it were possible. He ran past a slumbering woman in a chair, and he wondered briefly if it was still someone he knew, but the acolyte knew many people, and many of them he didn't wish to gaze upon in such a time. It was possible that it were Shalana, true, but even if it were, guarantee of her identity did neither the slumbering girl, nor the waking man the fortune of greater enlightenment, nor did it prevent either of them from the certainty of capture. Moving beyond her, he flipped open the registry, and looked once more through the tomes. In retrospect, he realized the quaint futility in arranging such an operation without a clear objective, for indeed without the name of god, he knew little and less about which books would be required to even begin such a study. Like the student who lacks the key terms of their subject of scholarship, the library was an ugly mountain of books that made little sense to his inadept searches and resembled a sort of lock, in the same way that a lock required a key to be undone, and indeed like a scholar lacking the answers to the test he took, he had no such key. Thus was the predicament M'yr found himself in. Without much inference as to what he wanted to find, he sort of had to guess, or look for buzzwords, and buzzwords were a more modern invention than was useful in his current setting, as nobody had thought to tell the ancient authors interred within these wooden walls that buzzwords made short work of categorization and navigation alike. Words were there, indeed, in the book before him, but which words, and to what end remained unhelpful to his endeavours. The authors here were non-persons to his un-intellect; mere names to the uninitiated mind of the acolyte, and the possible translations of their work fell on dumb ears. Just here, on the page he flipped to was 'A response on ensorcielled retainments,' which not only didn't help him understand the contents of the book (those weren't even words) but also didn't exactly supply the cultist with affirmations, or negations as to whether or not it was useful in his search. Was an 'Ensorcielled Retainment' something he'd encountered before? It could be, or it could be just the opposite. Bugger him. He flipped to another page, and ducked into another alley as soon as he read the name of a random book on the page. "A Frozen Lover's Grasp." Poetry, prophecy or pretention? Impossible to postulate upon further, as M'yr didn't have the time to check. He ducked into another alley. "A Play in Two, Regarding the Starved King." A play, then? M'yr ducked into the next alley as soon as he could, the voices of the guards behind him quite close. Starved King kind of had a more modern sound to it. Heck, the title didn't even use superflous replacements for other words, which was incredibly progressive for what was arguably a very ancient writer. Maybe? Honestly, M'yr wouldn't have been surprised if there were contemporaries in his current surroundings. He didn't know exactly how to check, but he supposed he didn't have time to experiment. M'yr figured that while the book was filled with titles that were supposedly translated into a language he could understand, perhaps he didn't need to work so hard to find answers. He only needed the slightest reference to something that validated his experiences in order for his searches to bear fruit. He cleared his mind, and let his thoughts slow from the vapid, anxious pace of a trapped rat, to something more resembling the impassive thinking of a rat in captivity. Big breath in, big breath out. He flipped to another page, and scanned through it as he ducked out of an alley, and found something that suited his needs. "Superliminal Speculum: The Unseen Rotation of the Tide." He muttered out loud, as he wandered around. "That almost sounds sensible enough to be literal. Almost." He glanced up. When did he get onto the second floor? He didn't actually expect the shelves to work like that. Perhaps they didn't. At any pace, the book was there--it was kind of helpful, in the sense that it stood out quite politely from the other books in a strange way, the way a moving part of an animation cel might be shaded differently should it have to move later. He approached it, and pulled it free--letting the ledger drop in the process. Then, M'yr sat down, and tried to read it as best as he could.
  15. The Seer went over the deal carefully. The Seer, quite unlike the King-King, was a somewhat miserable--bordering on angry--creature. He listened carefully and impatiently, and frequently snapped at the lesser Verm to write things down. By the end of their conversation, he'd seemingly already set some kind of plan into motion, and had taken careful stock of the Dwarfs' stipulations, clauses and offers. "Have heard enough, yes-yes." The Seer dismissed the question testily. "Seer-Khrol will speak-talk with King-King, to prepare brood-mothers for den. Brood-mothers will mother labor-rats for dwarf wood-cutting, and labor-rats will take-back food-things here." The Verm with the spectacles scribbled that down as well. Khrol snatched the paper from the Verm immediately afterward, and struck him upside the head, causing him to recoil as he fled from the room, leaving the Seer with the Dwarfs. "Setting up brood-den should take Skarr-Clan a little-time." He told them. "Seven-days? Maybe-more." But with that, there was little else to discuss. The Dwarfs were escorted from the stronghold and back the way they came. Instead of taking the pedal-way, as they did to get downward. Instead, the Verm who led them back upwards guided the Dwarfs along another pathway, across a Verm-made stone bridge to the far end of the chasm, where they could take a series of low-sloping paths up to the exit. It wasn't a short trip; in fact, it took them arguably twice the time if not more to reach the tunnel out again, which was ample time for them to recover and prepare for the journey out again. Once they reached the surface, the Dwarf's wagon was returned to them, and they were escorted out of the city once more. The gates swung shut slowly behind them, but Verm workers along the road the entirety of the route out of the woods kept them from truly feeling free of the ratmen's presence.
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