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Valucre
supernal

Pursuing madness

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The anti-grav process was a gradient, rather than instantaneous – Silver felt it in his stomach first, the rising of his gorge a herald for the anarchy he had come to know inside of Bi'le'ah's borders. Springing into action from a foundation of instinct rather than rational thought, Silver dropped to one knee and plunged his fist into the ground, the upheaved earth rippling as if made of water; his Boulderfist ring was here being used as an anchor rather than as a weapon.

With the anchor point being halfway up Silver's forearm, the rest of his body had no means by which to fend off the inversed well, and the rest of him began to float upwards. Although the ring would keep him from falling clean off the face of the earth, Silver dangled helpless.

"I'm pretty much stuck here unless one of you can toss me a grapple or summat . . . if no one got a t'ing then we're gonna have to ride this one out I guess. Godric, what's the longest lasting well you've come across?"

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"Hard to say" Godric admitted as he pushed off with his legs to get to the panther man. After handing him the rope, he instructed his partner to start climbing down the rope towards the door. "These things don't last too long I don't think, just long enough to get you to whatever is required to kill you I believe."

Just as he was saying so, the gravity suddenly returned to normal all at once. The silver lining to all of this was that Godric could now say he was a part of a real science experiment. Does a heavy human fall faster than a pygmy goat?

Yes...the answer is yes, and it hurt.

Groaning, vision blurry, Godric lifted up his head to taste something coppery in his mouth. If not for the bleating of the goat now positioned on his pack, he would have forgotten all about the mission and had a nice little nap. "Just...give me a moment to collect my rope." He spat out a small amount of blood onto the cobbles. "At least I rescued the goat..."

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The world flipped again and Iani suddenly had nothing to grip. While it really shouldn't have made a difference, the panther-kin's instinct functioned properly when falling in this direction. His body twisted in mid-air and he landed on his feet, his knees bending to suck up as much of the impact as possible. He imagined an older, greyer version of himself getting around with a cheap metal walker and made a mental note to take better care of his joints in the future.

Crucible, meanwhile, hopped off of Godric's pack and nuzzled the back of the young man's head. It would be safe to assume that was goat for "thanx fam!" 

 

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"Yeah I'd say just abo –"

One did not defy gravity's reign with impunity, even if such an offense was far from one's intention. Gravity reasserted itself with force and Silver plummeted a short distance to the ground. He was nimble enough to have landed with gymnastic flourish, but the Boulderfist anchor prevented him from maneuvering, so while his nerves were quick enough, his body was incapable, and he had time enough to curse his circumstances before falling flat on his face.

"That was, pfft, damn unpleasant, pfft." Silver spat out pieces of debris but was only inconvenienced, unlike Godric, who walked away from their encounter with a bloody mouth.

"Make sure you stymy that up proper, we don't want to be leavin' a blood trail."

The next twenty minutes were uneventful and saw the trio broaching the perimeter of the market district. Silver pulled out a piece of paper and unfolded it, holding the creased and crinkled sheet out in front of him. On the paper was sketched a first person view of the street they were on, at the point they now occupied, with buildings whole rather than shattered, and only one of them in color.

"Der she is." He folded up the piece of paper and fitted the revolver's grip into his hand, the payload swapped to two armor piercers, two concussive blasts, and two stunners.

"Market still gets pillaged from time to time. Any luck we find our book a poems and move on in under five minutes."

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It was nice, not having to worry about anything trying to kill them during that twenty minutes. Of course it was still a gloomy and depressing place to traverse, but even gloomy places can be nice to visit once in a while. It was just one of those things you did to understand a different point of view and experience a new perspective and all that worldly nonsense.

"Great, I nearly forgot about all the madmen that still comb these places for loot." Yes Godric was also a madman for going to this place twice just to retrieve books, but at least it wasn't just for the gold!...actually yes that was basically the only thing that compelled him to actually go here, but at least...oh wait...oh for Gaia's breath.

"Do you ever wonder about that line between an adventurer and a bandit? I mean their basically the same person, but adventurers are the ones who kill things society deems acceptable to kill. Hell there could be a group of goblins who believe themselves the hero just for exploring unknown places to steal treasure off of unsuspecting humans...man this world is strange." At least he still had enough wits to load his crossbow with a bolt, though he really needed to stop landing on his face all the time.

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Iani walked very carefully through the ruins, as if he didn't quite trust the ground to still be the ground when his next step got to it. Crucible followed closely behind Godric.

"I can tell you the difference. Bandits - and pirates - prey on their own. Whatever people make up their community, their alliance, their whathaveyou social construct, those are targets of banditry. Adventurers and privateers prey on Others. Of course, what would we be if we sped on over to Genesaris and started a murder campaign? So maybe it's more complicated than that. But not by a whole hell of a lot. Plus, you gotta remember, everyone is the hero in their own story. Every bandit has a sob story, every pirate has a personal or societal betrayal, every mad wizard has a grand cause. The terms 'good guy' and 'bad guy' are created, culturally, more or less by fiat. Because the big group of 'people' at large is kinda dumb, and can't handle the idea that every person is a colorful painting. They need black and white, or their whole collective little lives turn into cats and dogs living together - mass hysteria."

Iani clambered over a pile of rocks and surveyed the marketplace. "I could go on. But then nobody'd buy my Politics Correspondence Course. This is just a demo."

The panther-kin's eye strayed to a pile of broken crates; he moved a rotted board to peek inside. "Hey! Ginseng!" he chortled, raising a misshapen root contained in a stoppered glass bottle for everyone to see. "Score!"

Crucible nibbled on Godric's pant leg affectionately.

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"If you mean that same line between war and murder, I ain't so sure it exists. Or leastwise it's so damn thin it ain't worth talkin' much about."

In his question Godric showed his youth, and his youth belied his competency in staying alive – in his answer, Iani showed a certain shrewdness which his jester-like personality successfully obscured until that moment in time. Silver marked these qualities in his mind to add to their personnel files.

"Why are you so excited 'bout some root?" Silver called to Iani, pulling from among his person another folded square of paper, unraveling it on the remaining half of a desk which had been cleaved in twain by a battle-axe still partially embedded in its body.

He looked at the paper for a few seconds, pointedly waiting for Iani's response because he was actually curious, then folded the paper back up.

"You two keep watch."

Silver proceeded to pick his way a warped staircase, leaping the last quarter to grab hold of the second floor landing, and pulling himself up over the edge. Minutes later he called back out to them.

"Looks like a certain someone left a certain somethin' else behin'. I'm smellin' a bonus here fellas. Help me out."

On either of them showing face, they'd see a grin stretching Silver's features so wide it looked like he might partially decapitate himself with joy. He had a leather-bound book peeping out of the corner of his coat, but more importantly he held in his arms a chest about the size of a baby.

"Catch it."

Edited by supernal

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Godric preferred keeping an eye out for any possible threats while they were out in the open like this. He had been in this place enough times to know that one was never alone in a place like this, especially when you were hunting for treasure. Taking a position at the top of a pile of rubble, Godric would keep his eyes peeled for anyone trying to get the jump on them.

"Fantastic, we have the book, now we can get out of here before another horrible thing happens to us." Every moment they stayed within this city meant being exposed to more of the maddening magic that made things all...weird. The sooner they were out of here the better in his opinion. Nothing ruined a pleasant stroll in a ruined city more than a fight with some angry beast or greedy bandit group.

When the command was given to help open it, Godric was at a loss. He didn't have the skills to open the chest, though he supposed he could try to bash it open with the butt of his crossbow. Carefully moving up into the staircase, Godric took hold of the chest after Silver tossed it to him. It was heavy, but not enough to make him stumble. "Now what?"

Edited by Grubbistch

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6 hours ago, supernal said:

"Why are you so excited 'bout some root?" 

Iani stuffed the jar into a pocket on the inside of his coat, his tail twitching happily. "You good at pleasing the ladies? Well let's just say there's always room for improvement! It's got more get-up-and-go than a Last Chance whore with your coin purse in her brasserie!"

He rummaged through the crate a bit more, to see if there were any other come-ups.

"So as you can imagine, it's pretty dear to purchase, especially around some of the more... conservative... ports"

He stopped suddenly, looking at Goderic.

"Or, you know, I guess it works the same if you're into guys too. Takes all kinds, no judgement. My bad."

6 hours ago, supernal said:

"Looks like a certain someone left a certain somethin' else behin'. I'm smellin' a bonus here fellas. Help me out." 

"Catch it."

Iani made a motion as if to go for the falling chest, but Goderic had it so he pulled up short so as not to crash into the kid like some stage comedy skit. 

"Woo! Nice find, boss!" he whistled. He would have mentioned something about this being their lucky day, but some things were dangerous to say out loud. You could never tell what malicious - but uncreative - spirit of ill omen might be listening in.

1 hour ago, Grubbistch said:

"Now what?"

"We crack that bitch open, that's what!" Iani laughed and leaned in to inspect the chest. "Or we pick it, but that's so much less cathartic. Who's got a hammer?"

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"How's about this for a line."

Freed of the chest, Silver was now capable of making his way down from the second floor landing with ease, sliding down to hang from the ledge with one hand and then dropping the remainder of the distance to the ground floor.

"Bandits steal from people. We adventurers just rob graves."

In the second of heavy silence which followed, meanwhile Silver knelt down in front of the chest and reached behind him to rummage through his pack with one hand, it was impossible to escape his pointed – they were now rummaging through a city-sized potter's field, for all those who had died here did so poorly.

"Not so fast Godric, we ain't done here yet. This book a poems here is a prize but t'aint the only one worth speaking of. I said I got a lead on a safe room and I ain't lettin' that one go so easy. We gotta get our asses to the park. East."

Silver found what he was looking for and drew it from the depths of his pack – a rather modest set of lock picks, which themselves looked relatively new, but the case in which they rested gave one an impression of being well-worn.

"No hammer for me. Just me sword and me gun. I won't chip me sword on dis and I won't waste a bullet on it either. Besides merchants are a crafty sort. A vial of acid on the inside what opens when the lock is forced could turn the insides to pulp, if paper it be. When it comes to the paycheck Elder Company prefers finesse."

In a thriving urban landscape Silver would never dream of taking his time picking a lock. But there were no guards here. No police force. So he took his time and didn't mind it. What would have been an eternity to a thief under duress, a full ten minutes, just made time for pleasant conversation; pleasant if one did not concern oneself with the possibility of an inferno coming to life just outside the front door.

"You wanna talk about lines Godric, let me tell you the line between an adventurer what goes hungry and one what gets to eat: a diverse skillset. When we get back to HQ you're gonna train on one of our practice locks. You too Iani."

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Godric hated when someone threw a quintessential truth in his face. Picking locks had been something he had been meaning to learn, but he had his head more towards trying to court a certain dark elf on the main land. There was a good chance he was distracting himself from being a proper adventurer, something he didn't particularly enjoy.

"Yeah, probably for the best. Guess it would be better to learn a few things before we end up in a bad situation. Still though, this place is damned dangerous, makes me a little nervous."

Finding a safe haven from all this madness would be a godsend. If it really did exist, he would fight for his life to discover it. Staking a claim into some territory could be the foothold they needed for trying to straighten out this blasted place of madness.

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17 hours ago, supernal said:

"Not so fast Godric, we ain't done here yet. This book a poems here is a prize but t'aint the only one worth speaking of. I said I got a lead on a safe room and I ain't lettin' that one go so easy. We gotta get our asses to the park. East."

A safe house would be an awesome thing. Iani wondered silently how such a place could exist, and whether or not it could be replicated. If one safe place against all this crazy magic could be created, even if by accident, didn't that mean more could be created on purpose? Maybe even eventually enough to 'fix' the city and make it habitable again? The panther-kin smelled a much bigger business opportunity in this concept than just looting old marketplaces. 

It probably involved using magic somehow. He'd have to find a spell-slinger and ask some questions. Maybe set one up as a partner. A prospectus began to write itself in his head.

17 hours ago, supernal said:

You wanna talk about lines Godric, let me tell you the line between an adventurer what goes hungry and one what gets to eat: a diverse skillset. When we get back to HQ you're gonna train on one of our practice locks. You too Iani."

If Iani had still been in possession of a human face, his lips would have pursed with indignity. Instead, his ears flattened against his head and his tail twitched. He looked down and off to his left, muttering. "I coulda raked that lock. I just didn't feel like it. Humph."

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Silver lacked Iani's keen sense of hearing; the panther-kin's mutterings were soaked up by the floorboards at his feet and lost to a perceptual vacuum, the same kind where a tree falls and no one is around to hear its sound.

"It's just the nature of the job." Silver respond to Godric's meandering statement of concern, but only after the ten minutes had elapsed, only after there came from the locked chest the satisfying click of a successfully picked lock.

"If you want a safe job, study accounting or something. If you want a lucrative job, put something on the line."

Silver flipped the chest open. Inside were a number of papers turned to pulp, a few small ingots of gold and silver which Silver was quick to pocket, but not so quick as to make his partners-in-semi-crime think that he was cutting them out of the take. When it was empty Silver ran his fingers along the inside seams of the chest, found a weakness, and pried free a false floor. In the center of it were a pair of metallic knuckles.

He took up the knuckles and inspected them in the sunlight; they were transitioning from morning to early afternoon and were so positioned that Silver could catch a bar of sunlight beaming through a broken window.

"Hah! See what I mean?" Silver held the knuckles out to the sulking Iani. "Whaddayamake of that?"

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During the discovery of the mysterious treasure, Godric was feeling rather down on himself. He couldn't pick locks, he couldn't keep his cool, it felt as if he could do nothing right around here. Maybe it was the city, how it hung so ominously over you, like a corpse staring at you with those milky white eyes.

"Doesn't look like my kind of weapon" he said after glancing at it. "I'm more of a ranged fighter, personally."

With a sigh he looked towards the east, thinking about that safe room. Perhaps that could be his means of redeeming himself. "Once you're done dividing up the loot, we can head over to that safe house you talked about. Any port in this storm is a welcome sight in my book."

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