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  1. - Top - End - #781
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Halae's Avatar

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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Quote Originally Posted by Earl of Purple View Post
    Bufopolis

    Emily doesn't really have any evidence it was confined to this village, there might be others nearby worse affected. Or not affected at all, due to better medical technology or reliable magical healing. Or they might simply have quarantined themselves until it runs its course, and therefore aren't telling anyone.

    "It's fine. Ya weren't ta know. Yer not from 'round 'ere." Mrs. Glubbholdt reaches out to pat Emily's arm reassuringly. Her skin is cold and clammy. "G'back to de party. Dere' 'ostin' it fer ya. 'Ave some frog. Best frog ya ever ate." She smiles, and turns to head back inside, her probably-a-baby starting to squirm.
    [Bufopolis]

    After a moment of hesitation, Emily nods, the sides of her toothy maw pulling up in a small smile. These people have really been through a lot. A small part of Emily is annoyed, as she moves back to the fire; normally by this point she's delineated who's in the right and really gotten to punch someone. But that's not what her father taught her - you have to see all sides of a conflict to understand what drives it, and that takes talking to people. Most conflicts can be solved without violence if you handle it correctly.

    Still, as Emily sits a little ways away from the fire, close enough to the ring of villagers to take part but be a little separate, she can't help but feel the desire to hit something. Rather than indulge, she simply eats more of the provided food; despite her misgivings about eating frog, it's actually quite good, though she does try not to eat too much compared to the villagers. Why am I feeling so aggressive tonight? she wonders.
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  2. - Top - End - #782
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Morty's Avatar

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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Nightmare Forest]

    "Anyone left? They might be someone left, but not like they were before," the stone-serpent says with difficulty. "At least we don't think so. But we don't like to think. It hurts. The fear went past us and didn't call us, but its voice was so loud we had to wake up anyway."
    My FFRP characters. Avatar by Ashen Lilies. Sigatars by Ashen Lilies, Gulaghar and Purple Eagle.

  3. - Top - End - #783
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Earl of Purple's Avatar

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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Waylaid Tour- Aelid

    When the old lady says she has enough, Aelid thinks a moment. "I'll have a glass of water, then. If you have enough." It's not much, and she is thirsty.

    She's a little concerned about what the old lady is, if she's not human. Since she's talking like she isn't. She's also not particularly plump; she's got a very active hobby that she practices whenever she can. In fact, it's what she was going to Riverside to do- she wanted to see what kind of birds turn up in a more stable area than Inside. "Of... Of course, I'll take one of your birds to the Hamlet." She feels a little like she doesn't have a choice, which is odd. Surely she has a choice, right?

    ...Right?

    Anyway, once she's drunk from her glass (if she gets one), she'll probably take the bird and go. She's handled birds before, so that doesn't worry her.

    Bufopolis

    Emily's going to be the subject of several toasts, and one young man, not as toad-like as some of the residents though sharing the greyish skin and bulging eyes will offer Emily a drink of the local swamp-brew. It's brewed from a mix of fungi and swamp-fruit, and it's pretty potent. He'll also try to sit nearby, unless Emily shoos him off.

    Nightmare Forest

    "Would you prefer to be asleep, then? Is that true for everyone?" Makuro's wondering if they can reverse the forest by putting the inhabitants back to sleep. The forest's existence does seem linked to the stone water-snake's awakening, since it wasn't awake until recently.
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  4. - Top - End - #784
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Bufopolis]

    Emily will take the offered drink. If it's poisonous (I mean, that's what alcohol is) then it'll hit Emily's system and likely do a whole lot of nothing. Between her immense size and her innate healing factor, any poisons in her system are going to be hard-pressed to accomplish anything; she doesn't even drink normal alcohol because of it since it's near impossible for her to get a buzz going. As a result, while she enjoys the drink for its own sake, she doesn't end up indulging in that.

    When the young man sits next to her, she smiles and says, "Something I can help you with?"
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  5. - Top - End - #785
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Quote Originally Posted by Rebonack View Post
    Gwyn

    There comes a meaty thunk as the spear of ice digs into the horror, drawing from it an absolutely inhuman shriek. The ghul darts in again, ramming his spear into the monstrosity and giving it a wicked twist. The horror responds to this by mashing the ghoul into paste. Now enraged at your audacity, the mountain of anger and death begins awkwardly skittering toward you with an almost insect-like swiftness. Nothing should be able to move that fast.

    But about half way to you it... falters.

    It's trying to lift itself up again, but it appears to be having great difficulty.

    Do you finish the monster off? It is probably beyond diplomacy now that you attacked it, but you could try. Or? You could just flee for your life.

    What do you do?
    Gwyn gives the monster a pitying stare, then springs into magical action. She breaths twice, muttering the syllables, "Trywanu..." after the first one, and then, "A Thyfu!" after the second. Within the beast, the icy spear's mass reorganizes, transforming from a sleek piercing bolt into a cone covered in cruel barbs perfect for rending flesh. Gwyn maintains her focus, gritting her teeth and adding, "Ceisiwch y galon!" as the magic takes its physical toll and the icy mass within the beast tries to force itself deeper and deeper, searching for it's heart.

  6. - Top - End - #786
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Bufopolis

    Ah, that's a pity. It's not just alcoholic, but it's also a hallucinogen. It's the mushrooms they use. Still, the gentleman sat next to her is affected, giving him some courage. "Ah, um. Yes, I think you, uh. Might. It's a new moon, tomorrow night. Or the night after. Would... Would you like to bath in the pool with me then?" He smiles, but his eyes are a little unfocused and his teeth are crooked and misshapen. He's also swaying a little.
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  7. - Top - End - #787
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours]
    Dave

    Leeches love friends. Friends are full of blood.

    The seraph leans his head back and groans toward the sky. It's like watching an exasperated teen.

    "Oh my Ideals, I don't care what you're doing. I want to know if you have a quest for me," he says, taking a few steps closer. He got to play a few mortal video games once. The NPCs in those had the option of skipping their dialog. He wishes the Eternal Game worked like that. Blah blah blah skip!

    It would appear as though this hallucination is strangely persistent.

    "I'm not a hallucination you dumb critter. Is your brain busted or something? UGH. Why am I even talking to you, this is floofing stupid."

    He probably expected you to reward him for saving your from spore inhalation. But so far you seem disinclined toward doing what he wants.

    You're just about onto the road. Just a few more steps and you could turn and run down the cobblestone path toward the Hamlet. You're almost there.

    What do you do?

    Hector

    You feel a great deal of fear wafting from the human to you now. It feels good! It's difficult to draw analogies to human memories. It really isn't like eating at all. Sure, you're filling up a hunger, but it isn't like hunger for food. Instead of feeling full you feel invigorated! Like you could perform even more impressive feats seemings with your shadows. You could still do with some meat, though. And the human in the tree is made out of meat.

    By the time you finish your intimidating he's hugging the branch, eyes screwed shut, crying.

    He doesn't appear to notice the second half of your message.

    Maybe you DID lay it on too thick?

    What do you do?

    Carlie

    You have discovered that you're pregnant.

    And that trips to forests overflowing with otherworldly power are unhealthy for pregnancies.

    The fish priest probably doesn't understand your hate, or the reason for it. He just gasps at the air like a fish gasping for water.

    Finding nothing of any further use on the table, you continue off further down the tunnel. More of those strange spiraled monoliths decorate the sand, though soon the tunnel jaunts upward. As you travel further up toward the surface you'll eventually find yourself emerging from the mouth of a cave into the forest you briefly viewed through the windows of the bus. It abounds with decrepit trees, decrepit crypts, and unnaturally large mushrooms. You do not quite make it out of the cave, however, because you find yourself running headlong into a flexible, invisible barrier.

    "Ach, what'ev we 'ere?" mutters a little impish humanoid figure seated on a nearby stone. "A mortal struttin' about? Aye, that's a fine sight. This little patch 'o forest is mine, lass. If you want to pass then you must be payin' the troll toll."

    Apparently he's a troll?

    His nose IS rather large. And he has a cow-like tail sticking out of his trousers.

    "Standard fare. Ten years of service or one of your children."

    That seems like a pretty unfair fare.

    Well. Now what? You could agree to be his servant. Or sell your child to him. Or tell him to shove off and find your own way through his magic barrier. Or... maybe go back the way you came and find another exit?

    What do you do?

    Aelid

    "Ah, there, see? Let an old woman dote on you a little," Granny says, offering a small cup of cold water. "You just drink that right up. A little of Granny's water will make you feel pretty, my dear."

    The water tastes cool and refreshing.

    But once you've left the hut? Your mouth tastes sticky and metallic. As if you had bit your tongue. You can feel a few stray bits of something hard in your in your mouth and spitting them out, you'll find your spittle mingled with blood, gristle, and fragments of crow feathers.

    That was absolutely NOT a refreshing glass of water.

    You suddenly feel violently ill. Your stomach feels like it's trying to flutter its way up your throat. You're hit with an intense feeling of vertigo as your perspective warps and twists. A spasm rocks your body and you vomit a mass of giblets and black feathers. You flop uselessly on the ground for a few moments, trying to shake all the gore out of your feathers. To your surprise, it sloughs off as easily as rain.

    Also to your surprise, you find yourself staring up at... yourself. From the outside. You cry out in alarm, only for a loud 'Caw!' to sound from your beak, to which all the other crows nearby caw in reply.

    You are now a crow.

    Your soul has been expelled from your body in the form of a black carrion bird. Your body reaches down mechanically to pick you up and carry out Granny's orders. She must take you to the Hamlet. You can still feel a connection to your body. You could control it, probably. Looking back at Granny's hut, you can help but notice all the human bones pack into it. And heaped up around it. You didn't notice the heaps of bones on your way in. That probably would have been more alarming. But Granny didn't want you to see it. All those other birds, they were probably people before as well. Eventually your human body will get too damaged to be useful anymore.

    And then it will be food for crows.

    You don't know why Granny wants you to be taken to the Hamlet. But her request... It just feels like it would be overwhelmingly impolite to ignore it. You won't.

    You can't.

    Your body carries you back down to the place you had crashed, near the chair. You can descend down through the trunk, or clamber across the branches. You can fly. But your body can not. And you need your body to survive the trip to the Hamlet to let you in.

    What do you do?

    Gwyn

    You would do well to know this horror has a heart.

    Several of them.

    But the ice wedging itself into the thing rends it to bits even while preventing it from making much headway toward you. Its pace slows. Then stops. Then it heaves itself into the ground with a pained sigh.

    The monster goes still.

    Everything except for you in the room is dead.

    So that's... a victory? Probably?

    You continue on down the glowing green tunnel. The reason for the glow becomes clear quickly. The interior is lined with innumerable tiny green mushrooms, all shedding a small amount of light. After something so horrific, something quite mundane puts you at east. The glow wasn't some awful eldritch alter awash in verdant flames, it was just a bunch of completely harmless glowing mushrooms! Haha... this will probably be okay, right?

    ...right?

    With growing concern you notice that the eerie lichlight is growing brighter as you near the other end of the tunnel. Brighter than what a room full of glowing mushrooms could supply. As you step out into the chamber you discover what's making up for the difference.

    An eldritch alter made of bone lashed together with sinew and awash in verdant flames. Particularly from the eye sockets of all the skulls on it. Why are there so many skulls? Most of them don't look strictly human. They're... deformed. Warped. And more than a few look like bear and pig skulls that decided to occupy the same physical space. It's all pretty awful.

    Hovering above the alter is... nothing.

    Or, no. Not nothing. Something? But not quite something. It isn't quite so defined as a something ought to be. It's more like... the possibility of something. Anything. Everything. It radiates primal creative potential.

    You can see where it looks like some adventurer tried to touch it.

    They've been spread across the walls in a vaguely living tapestry of bone and twitching muscle. That's... probably where the meat-moss you saw earlier came from. The sight is nauseating.

    There's another tunnel on the other side of the room. Less green glow that way. And you can hear the squealing of pigs.

    Another path jaunts off behind the alter, covered in a thin coating of meat.

    And, of course, there's the alter itself.

    What do you do?

    Kyle

    You grasp the roots and begin to ascend. The cliff face is slick and treacherous, but the roots and dry and strong. They hurt your hands a bit, but you're counting on your blasphemous accelerated healing to take care of any problems there. You brace your feet against the cliff and climb, footing slipping a few times. There are a few close calls, moments when your feet slide out from under you and leaving you hanging precariously above the churning surf. You might be able to survive more than a human that isn't a sorcerer could, but you're quite certain that fast healing won't save you from drowning.

    Right as you reach the top and make a grab for the tree hanging over the watery abyss, you hear a VERY loud and a VERY angry voice cry out.

    "Ew! Pervert! EW EW EW EW! Don't touch me!" yells a feminine voice as the roots you're grasping fling you violently to the side. You lose your grip, but my some miracle you manage to catch yourself on a narrow shelf of stone about five feet down.

    You land with an OOF!, the air blasted from your lungs. Something in your chest cracks. And just as quickly you feel the itch of it putting itself back together again.

    "What's you're PROBLEM you sicko?" comes the voice of the angry dryad you just unintentionally groped. "I oughtta root-whip you until you fall in the drink!"

    The roots of the tree snap dangerously in your direction.

    It appears as though you have unintentionally upset a dryad. You could try to calm her down, maybe? If you flatter her enough she might let you climb the roots the rest of the way to the top of the cliff. Or she might even help you. Or see if you can't climb the rest of the way up the cliff on your own. It isn't THAT far. Or maybe you could scoot along the rock shelf to get out of the reach of her roots before trying anything else.

    What do you do?
    ****

    Kyle isn't exactly an expert on fae of any kind, let alone dryads. Do they even respond to the same sorts of flattery that humans do? Or do they like... tree things? He honestly has no idea. He does know, however, that fae are typically very fickle and very easily offended and very willing to do terrible things to people if the mood strikes him.

    That and they're, y'know, adversaries.

    It has been drilled into Kyle's head from a young age that all adversaries are dangerous and not to be trusted. Making deals with them is inviting disaster. And considering how poorly things are going right now Kyle would like a limited amount of disaster in his life, thanks. Warnings float around in his head. Don't give them your name. Don't thank them. Don't apologize to them. Don't accept food or drink from them.

    So to that end?

    "Umm... didn't mean to do that... uh... miss? I'll just be heading over this way now."

    And with that he begins shimmying his way along the rock shelf away from the dryad. Hopefully without being harassed further.
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  8. - Top - End - #788
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    5a Violista's Avatar

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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours]
    Carlie

    Carlie really doesn't want to go back down.
    In the first place, she doesn't think she can stand the smell again. Plus, there's probably more fish-people around, especially after that first one ran off. Maybe if she could, she could go down and bring some of the fire up and...hope? something happens. Or...she could take one of those other paths if she could manage to go down.

    But she doesn't want to go back.
    Especially because the forest is right here.

    Feeling really obstinate and wanting to be obtuse and have a little fun with it, the bunnygirl leans against the flexible barrier and stretches out, holding her arms up against it like she's relaxing on a lounge chair. Because of the damage to the shoulder and sleeve of the top, this practically makes the shirt act like one of those one-sleeved tops, showing off her bare shoulder. "To be honest, I hadn't really made up my mind if I wanted to go through or not," she says, "because I wanted to see who had the best path. But if you're willing to serve me for ten years for the price of me passing through..." See, the troll didn't actually say who would serve whom.

    Carlie tilts her head to get a better look at the troll. "Well...I have pretty high standards, so I guess you're cute enough to be my servant. It's in your favor that you said I'm a fine sight, too. Might make it worth keeping you even after the ten years are up...but I suppose once you agree to become my servant, there's no changing the deal no matter how much you'll want more. Just be warned, I'm a pretty" She sticks out two fingers and has them act like they're walking up the invisible barrier "demanding" they take another step "master" her pointer finger slides around "so make sure you're not going to regret serving me just because you wanted me to leave."

    To be honest, she's mostly just enjoying the air up here. And, in spite of how much she knows this toll-guy is just trying to take advantage of her, it's still better than trying to talk with a fish.
    Last edited by 5a Violista; 2020-01-17 at 02:22 AM.
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  9. - Top - End - #789
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Halae's Avatar

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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Quote Originally Posted by Earl of Purple View Post
    Bufopolis

    Ah, that's a pity. It's not just alcoholic, but it's also a hallucinogen. It's the mushrooms they use. Still, the gentleman sat next to her is affected, giving him some courage. "Ah, um. Yes, I think you, uh. Might. It's a new moon, tomorrow night. Or the night after. Would... Would you like to bath in the pool with me then?" He smiles, but his eyes are a little unfocused and his teeth are crooked and misshapen. He's also swaying a little.
    [Bufopolis]

    Emily looks at the boy for a moment, and looks at her own mug. Just what was in that brew? Or did he just have entirely too much? Ah well, one has to suppose that it doesn't matter; he's obviously inebriated, with the way his eyes and stance are unfocused, and Emily has never been the sort to take advantage of such a position as he's in, "That's very flattering," She says, "But I'm not the sort of girl to take part in that kind of thing," Besides, it's a polite denial of taking part in what's apparently a highly religious experience where people get pregnant.

    It's an unusual experience for her to be invited to do something like that, and while she has no real interest in him, she is absolutely enjoying the fact that he apparently finds her attractive. So, for now, she won't shoo him away, instead saying, "What's your name?"
    Last edited by Halae; 2020-01-17 at 02:33 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #790
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Quote Originally Posted by Rebonack View Post
    [Waylaid Tours]
    Leah

    You choose the path of preserving the fragile timeline. This isn't the safest path, nor the easiest, but it is likely the most righteous path. The appearance of the pillar catches the husk by surprise. Some of them have been able to Earthbend still. Some only doing so in a corrupted form, able to manipulate the colour crystals and nothing else. Almost as if they earth itself had rejected them for their uncleanness. This one appears to be in the latter category, as it touches the pillar to try to bend it, only for nothing to happen.

    Which means your hammer-blow strikes true.

    You've had quite a bit of experience destroying husks of late. They all have seemed addled in one way or the other, some more than others and dispatching them with the iron rod was rarely difficult, just... tiring. They didn't break easily. It took effort. A pitiless task that sapped your strength and rattled your wits. But with the hammer?

    You strike the husk and it shatters in a single blow, the temporal tension keeping it intact suddenly bursting with all the violence of poorly tempered glass. For a moment you see ten thousand glittering specks tumbling through the air and then it's gone. A pulse of power echoes from the hammer, sweeping across your immediate surroundings, erasing a few colour pools and banishing noxious crystal growths, leaving only damp leaf litter and a few unhealthy looking shrubs behind.

    Reality feels more stable.

    The past-Leah still lays on the ground, insentient to the world around her.

    The path of monoliths and drifting lights still awaits.

    As you continue on your quest, walking between the stones with their unwholesome spiraling designs, you can feel time and space tugging at you again. Just as they had last time you walked this path. It threatens to once against displace you elsewhere within the bounds of the garden to another where and when.

    But this time.

    You have an anchor.

    You can allow the tides of time to wash you away again. Or you can defy them, planting the mallet like a stone in the midst of a storm to weather the current.

    What do you do?
    [Waylaid Tours]
    Leah

    The ease in which Leah shatters catches Leah off guard. Even the colour recedes and some of the crystals banished. Very interesting indeed. Leah is tempted to reconsider her plan of attack and hunt down all the husks instead, mending the timeline one shattered rainbow at a time. But no, if she did that, more would still be made. She might eventually catch up, but best to cut things off at the source first.

    When time itself tries to wash her away, she plants her mallet into the ground, making sure to press the symbol hard into the dirt as she crouches down with it, staying as close to its sphere of influence as possible.

    "Not this time Ohlamel! You're done buffeting me around!"
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  11. - Top - End - #791
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Waylaid Tours -Dave

    Dave is looking pretty frustrated with the hallucination. Shouldn't it have gone away by now? "Of course my brain is damaged, or I wouldn't be seeing you!" With that shout, he turns and runs down the path to the Hamlet, hoping to leave the hallucinatory monster behind.
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  12. - Top - End - #792
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours- Hector]

    Hector scowls. It’s nice of this guy to keep feeding him, but he has places to be.
    ”Hey. Hey. HEY BUDDY IF YOU WANNA LIVE PAY ATTENTION!” he barks angrily, unconsciously summoning a little shadowy claw from one of the tree branch’s shadows to poke the man’s shoulder.
    ”I was screwing with you! And this place is full of horrible mushroom spores! So we need to cooperate to get us both to town! Got it?”
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  13. - Top - End - #793
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours-Gwyn]

    Gwyn takes a few deep, panting breaths in the monstrous-corpse filled room, trying to regain some stamina that she lost spellcasting, then proceeds down the tunnels at a reasonable, measured pace.

    When she reaches the next chamber, she eyes the altar and pasted-across-the-wall adventurer rather dubiously, then decides that it's probably best that she do something about this awful thing so that whatever is causing this corruption doesn't get any worse. She begins by chanting, "Edafedd o hud, datgelwch eich hun," casting a spell of seeing on her eyes to reveal the threads of magic that are holding the altar's supernatural structure together. Of course, if the altar's magic exists too far outside the domain she's familiar with, she might not see anything at all.

  14. - Top - End - #794
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Nightmare Forest]

    Lapis shifts uncomfortably.

    "Sometimes when people get stuck in an enchanted forest they stop being people," the little seraph reports. "I was afraid that might have happened but I didn't want to..."

    Say it.

    She didn't want to say that they were all gone.

    She wanted to hold out hope that someone could be saved.

    All of the corpses in the village were a pretty strong indication that there might not be anyone left alive.

    "This place makes my tummy hurt... I don't love it even a little." Lapis mutters.


    [Waylaid Tours]
    Leah

    The storm rages around you.

    Currents of time and space buffeting you, trying to rip you free from your current temporal position and cast you anywhere and anywhen else.

    But with the anchor in your hand you remain firm.

    Eventually the storm dies down and you spy the source.

    Describing it is... difficult. A stone, maybe? A stone with something trapped inside it, shapes squirming incomprehensibly. Congealed colour clings to it. Crystals form and melt over its surface.

    A stone. A monolith. A tower.

    It looms before you, defenseless. You've already breached the only means it had to protect itself.

    What do you do?

    Carlie

    The troll sputters with indignant rage.

    "I didn't mean I would be your servant! I mean YOU must be MY servant!" he howls. "Just for that rudeness it is twelve years instead!"

    He doesn't seem to like you very much.

    The barrier flexes as you press against it, gossamer holding firm. It feels rather like touching a spider's web. Insubstantial, yet quite strong. Unlike a spider's web it doesn't break under your weigh.

    Well! It would appear as though you've managed to offend the troll. Otherwise your situation is unchanged. What next?

    Dave

    You somehow manage to upset the seraph even more.

    As you turn to flee, you find the monster standing directly behind you against all impossibility. With supernatural strength and speed, it tries to grab you by your gun-holding wrist and hoist you off the ground. So close to it now, you can see that it's big. Much larger than it had seemed before. Maybe it had grown...? The air around it feels alive, like standing next to a severed power cable. It makes your hair stand on end and your clothing crackle with static electricity. Metal objects on your person are tugged toward it.

    "Quest. Now. And you better make this worth my time."

    You had best making something up that sounds convincing quickly because this creature is rapidly losing patience with you.

    What do you do?

    Hector

    The fellow in the tree screams, "OH GOD!" when you poke him and panics, flailing wildly and tumbling out of the tree. He lands in a bed of puffballs that breaks his landing while also releasing a huge cloud of billowing spores into the air. The guy begins coughing and screaming and tries running away in a blind panic, only to collide face first into another tree when he glances back over his shoulder to see if you're still there.

    Hmm...

    Maybe scaring him really badly first wasn't the greatest plan?

    He's laying on the ground dazed now, a cloud of spores hanging heavily around him.

    You could eat him! Your stomach thinks that's a great plan. Or just leave him there to die of lung-fungus. Or drag him toward the threshold. It really isn't that far away. He had nearly made it out of the forest before he got treed by those zombies.

    What do you do?

    Gwyn

    You decide that touching the Icon and repeating the fate of the guy that got smeared across the walls is probably not a sound plan.

    Instead?

    You cast detect magic! The alter appears to be cursed. Touching anything on the alter inflicts the poor toucher with the awful living death that you're currently observing. The Icon itself is... calling it magical is an understatement. It's pure primordial creative potential, a (non) thing of extraordinary power.

    The only question is, what do you intend to do with this information?

    Especially since you can hear the sounds of porcine squealing growing steadily closer.

    What do you do?

    Kyle

    You scoot away along the rock face, the irritated dryad still, but now thankfully out of reach of her roots. Getting whipped off into the cliff face would likely prove to be fatal, after all. There are no roots to hang onto here, but thankfully the stone isn't quite as slick this far from the sea. You manage to find ample enough handholds to scale the last few feet and haul yourself over the edge of the cliff onto the forest floor above. From the high cliff at the edge of the forest you can see the bluffs tracing their way along the sea, waves crashing far below. In the distance you can make out a Hamlet and another cliff beyond, upon which is perched a magnificent Gothic castle. This should be easy now, right? Just a stroll along the sea cliffs at the forest's edge and you'll have made it back to civilization. Maybe you could charter one of those little fishing boats to take you to Seaside?

    But no.

    Nothing is easy.

    At the top of the cliff you immediately find yourself walking into a scene of violence. Two dryads have animated their trees, turning themselves into titans of the forest and are currently locked in pitched combat against a horror. It looks like someone took all the worst parts of a hermit crab, a barracuda, and the squelching flesh of a sea squirt and mashed them together into an awful amalgamation that doesn't even look like it should be able to move, let alone skitter as quickly as it does. The horror clambers over to one of the dryads and latches onto it with four claws and two sets of toothsome jaws, ripping into her bark.

    You could help the dryads. Or maybe the horror. Or you could flee for your life. What do you do?

    ****
    Of course.

    Of course this couldn't just be simple. It had to be crammed full of terrible things.

    Kyle has no weapons. He has no combat experience to speak of. He knows, in some nebulous way, that his sorcery COULD BE a weapon but he's never really experimented with it. While being a sorcerer isn't necessarily a sin, using sorcery IS. And... he might have tried something. Once or twice. But it spooked the heck out of him and he got caught. Which meant some sound whippings and lots of promises that he would never do it again.

    So... yeah. Totally unarmed.

    Not that Kyle would want to help either party to this conflict. He feels slightly less revulsion toward the horror than he does toward the dryads, but that isn't saying much. And he's pretty sure that it's because his sorcery ties him to devils like that abomination rather than fae. That's a lie, though. He has nothing in common with that monster.

    He steels himself, then runs at full tilt past the battle, hoping that he proves to be too inconsequential to be noticed.
    Last edited by Rebonack; 2020-01-17 at 04:16 PM.
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  15. - Top - End - #795
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Waylaid Tours- Hector

    Ugh. This is the worst. The WORST. Now this guy has gone and inhaled all those spores so now Hector has to get him to a doctor fast or he’ll turn into an awful zombie. With a groan the barghest conjures a shadowy fan to blow the spores away from him as he hefts the stupid survivor up by the collar and starts carrying him over to the fence. He’s going to have to get him all the way there, toss him over, and bark until someone finds him, which will totally blow his cover and make them know there’s a barghest prowling around. Perfect.
    This guy is just lucky that Hector knows eating humans is gross and he probably tastes terrible from all those spores anyway.
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  16. - Top - End - #796
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours]
    Carlie

    The bunnygirl, of course, still doesn't want to go back down. She figures she'll have to go back eventually, but...teasing this troll is a good stress relief.

    Plus, it's good revenge for all the stories of fairies that terrified her when she was younger.

    "Listen, just because you misspoke doesn't make it my fault!" Carlie replies with the same indignant tone. In her experience, when somebody has a tantrum like this, bringing your tone up to the same level then slowly pulling them back down is one of the best ways to calm them down without letting them know you're a pushover. Plus, of course, being angry at this troll is a good excuse to stay up here for a little longer.

    She stops stretching out against the barrier and instead points at the troll, smashing her finger against the barrier. "I demand you apologize for the offense you gave me, offering me a deal that I seriously considered and then changing your words and the terms of the deal! If you're willing to do that, how can I trust that you'll obey any future terms you offer?"

    Her tone drops a bit, no longer sounding as indignant but rather...a little more measured and reasonable. "As far as I'm concerned, there's many other people at the end of other pathways back there who have much more reasonable terms. How about a different deal: I'll go through this area with no conditions or terms or trades or anything else, and in exchange I won't go back and tell everybody about how you changed the terms after offering them."

    ...Where are the cutlass and mooring hook while she does this with her finger? That's an important question, because she only has two hands, and normally it would be safe to assume there's one in each hand.
    No, instead, she has the cutlass in one hand and with the hook, she's found a way to hang it in her shirt. Eventually, she figures, she'll have to move it but for now it gives her a free hand.
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  17. - Top - End - #797
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Waylaid Tour - Dave

    Dave screams as he's hoisted off the ground. The gun goes off, although the way he's gripped, it won't hit anything except the sky. His brain is finally catching up to what his subconscious knew for some time now. That's no hallucination. What can he do to make it let go? He's got a free hand and a good angle at it's throat. He could try stabbing it, but it sounded like attacking it would make it want to kill him more, and he's not sure it would die if he stabbed it. He'd better come up with a good quest, quickly. He draws the knife with his free hand anyway. It makes him feel better. "Back the way I came, there's a graveyard. There's something there, an evil presence. I didn't look closely, I was too busy running." He points with the knife. Here's hoping the thing holding him buys it.
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  18. - Top - End - #798
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Waylaid Tour Aelid the Crow

    Aelid waves as she turns to leave, but soon finds herself retching and gasping as... she forces herself out her throat. The crow-that-is-Aelid squawks with displeasure, before flying up and landing on the woman-that-was-Aelid's shoulder. She directs her body to leave. As she leaves, her body raises one hand in the direction of Granny's hut, pointing at the sky with the body's middle finger.

    Aelid considers the routes, the one which might leave her body tripping and falling off a tree, or the other which, whilst it would constrain her own flight, should prove less hassle for directing her body. She's not sure how fast she could react if her foot slips, since she's no longer truly aware of the foot slipping in the first place. Into the tree and down is the better option, so that's where Aelid goes. Maybe she'll find her satchel on the way. That'd be good.

    Bufopolis

    "Uh... Harry? Yeah. Harry. Pretty sure I'm Harry." He nods for a moment, before frowning and looking at the ground. "No, Harry's my brother. I'm Fred." He nods and smiles, turning back to Emily. "How about you? Do you have any Harries? I mean, siblings?" He's pretty badly affected, it seems. Whatever the drink is.
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  19. - Top - End - #799
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Rebonack's Avatar

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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours]
    Aelid the Crow
    Into the tree you go.

    It's fortunate that you can's smell or feel or see anything your puppet body does, because otherwise you would be smelling a great deal of fungal decay. Enough to make your eyes tear. The tears of your marionette are certainly tearing up, but it isn't happening to YOU so you aren't quite so likely to notice. The interior of the trunk is dim, illuminated by the unwholesome glow of fungus. It is, at least, warm inside the tree trunk. A humid, sticky sort of warmth. The warmth of decay.

    Thankfully there's enough light to make out where to put your feet. Inside the trunk you find a spiraling platform corkscrewing its way down the tree. It's a bit slick with mildew, but nothing too terribly difficult to navigate. The fact that you can't actually feel anything your body feels makes this a little more difficult to navigate. But, none the less, you do. There are a few slips, a few falls, but your body never begins sliding out of control. However, after five minutes or so of walking a very curious thing happens.

    Your body begins retching again.

    And after a few seconds of hacking vomits out another crow.

    This crow is also you.

    The experience of being in two different bodies is disorienting for a few brief seconds, but then it just sort of... begins making sense. This makes it less jarring when your puppet vomits out another crow a few minutes later.

    Nearly an hour of walking and about a dozen crows later, come upon a rather unwelcome sight. Spider webs fill the tree below you, great tangled masses of sticky silk forming sheets and funnels. You don't see any spiders, but you're certain they're there. And judging from the crow (and human) bones that litter the web, they probably aren't friendly spiders.

    You have several tools at your disposal. First is your growing murder of crows. There are quite a few of you, but you aren't certain what would happen if some of you die. If you smash against the web with enough force you could probably break through it. Or you could use your lighter to set the webs on fire. That would probably result in many angry spiders. Or... There's a small hole in the trunk of the tree nearby that you can see daylight through. You could probably squeeze your way through that. You aren't sure how far you are about the forest floor, but maybe trying to climb down the outside of the tree is less dangerous than confronting giant spiders?

    What do you do?

    Hector

    With a giant fan made of shadow attached to your tail, you wag the spore cloud into submission. You delicately collect the fallen man and trot up to the threshold-

    -and then toss him over.

    He groans listlessly.

    Then?

    You begin baying.

    It's an absolutely terrifying sound that can send people fleeing in blind panic. Sort of like this guy did before he smashed into a tree. You hear voices raised in alarm and feel more sources of fear coming closer to you. You spy several people coming toward you in the distance, carrying rifles. A guard drops to his knee and begins trying to line up a shot on you.

    You're reasonably certain that he means to kill you. The people here are quite accustomed to dealing with fae and devils. That rifle is likely loaded with an iron-jacketed bullet with your name on it. Now that they know you're here, they're going to be far more vigilant.

    What do you do?

    Carlie

    The troll gives an incoherent snarl of rage.

    "Fine. FINE! Get out of here!" he bellows, snapping his fingers. The barrier pops like a soap bubble. It's a good thing you aren't leaning on it anymore otherwise you probably would have gotten dumped in the mud. "You're free to go! I hope The Thing That Hunts eats you!"

    What a petulant little troll.

    You can see the Old Road nearby. The Hamlet isn't far.

    What do you do?

    Dave

    The seraph seems largely unmoved by the gun going off. "A evil presence? Eh. That's something I guess," it replies.

    And then tosses you casually into the mud. By the time you look up, the creature is gone.

    There's a leech sucking on your neck.

    A second is crawling up your arm.

    The road to the Hamlet is at last within reach.

    What do you do?

    Kyle

    Your plan to flee doesn't work out quite as you had expected.

    With hideous strength and tremendous violence one of the dryads is reduced to shrill screams and scattered wood pulp. The horror, apparently, doesn't mess around. Right as you're fleeing past it a mass of blubber, wriggling crab legs, and fish eyes launches itself at you like a cannon ball.

    You have no time to react.

    The projectile catches you square in the chest, launching you off the edge of the cliff and out over the sea.

    For a few horrible moments both of you tumble through the open air. Time seems to slow to a crawl. It scrabbles at you with its dagger-tipped legs. You mash your fingers into it and with a cry of anger and fear you tap your sorcerous power. Destructive arcane forces surge through the lump of meat, causing tumors to begin boiling across its form. It shudders for a brief moment.

    And the bursts like a turgid boil.

    You have a few scant moments to feel a wave of euphoria before you hit the water.

    Darkness.

    A sensation of gravity.

    Rushing water.

    Your lungs crying for air.

    And then, gasping, you're cast out onto the sandy shore of an underground cove. Eerie coral illuminates the chamber, casting it in a dim, unnatural light. You can feel the thing inside you thumping like a second heart. It pulls at you. Pulls your eyes to the twisted alter of coral and sponge. Pulls your gaze to the object that sits placidly atop it like a pool of calm water. It calls to you. In a trance you climb to your feet and shuffle toward the Icon. Some small part of you is screaming to run away, but there's nowhere to run. The cove is a dead-end. The only way out is back through the churning sea.

    You could touch the Icon, or you could touch the Icon, or you could touch the Icon.

    What do you do?
    ****
    Kyle fights against it. How many times had he been told what would happen if he gave in to the blasphemy inside him? It would consume him from the inside out. He tries to look away. He tries to close his eyes. He tires to pull back his hand. But his treacherous body refuses to obey him.

    He grasps it.

    And chooses the Ritual.

    Kyle had always assumed that it would just... burst out of his chest. An awful monster just hatching out of him while he lies on the ground dying. But that isn't what happens at all. Instead, he finds himself consumed in a brilliant flash of light. Realizing what he's done he screws his eyes shut, shielding his face with his arms. There's a brief moment of searing pain, and then nothing.

    Water is still dripping from the cove's roof. A steady plip, plip, plipping adding a bit of rhythm to the sound of waves lapping against the sand. In the distance there's the sound of the waves crashing against the sea cliffs. Somewhere even further, there's the sound of raucous sea birds.

    A long, white ear twitches at the sounds previously missed thanks to the overwhelming pull of the Icon. Then a dead black eyes opens. And another. And another. And five more. Arms are lowered, one pair stared at incredulously, the other wrapped around the chest in a sort of self-hug. Hands. Thickly webbed. The fingers are flexed. The cherub cranes his neck. A long, flat, paddle-like tail with flukes at the end. Like an otter and a whale? Feet with cloven hooves like a sheep's. White fur oozing black ink. Fibrous and shaggy. Where the ink drips on the sand words scrawl themselves. He touches his face, his ears, his horns. A lamb? He rubs his tongue along rows of dagger-like teeth. A nominally normal lamb at best.

    "I thought this was supposed to kill me," Khiael mutters. "This was supposed to kill me, I'm supposed to be-URK!"

    Four huge razor-bill wings erupt from his shoulder blades, spreading wide. White plumage full of oozing ink, dead black eyes set into the joints.

    "What..." he mutters, waving a hand in front of the wing-eyes. Sight from so many angles at once is disorienting.

    Paired concentric rings of gold hover about him, each etched with crawling, spidery script in back ink. At each revolution the ink peels away, ribbon-like, to drift through the air around him before vanishing. Occasionally the ribbons rend apart into a mouth full of jagged teeth. A pair of rings orbit each wrist, about two thirds of the way down his tail, and as a halo behind his head, script between the rings filling the gap, words radiation away like rays of light.

    He frowns down at the ground, at the heap of ashes he's standing in. He stoops down, scooping up a handful and peering at them.

    "...maybe I didn't survive..."
    Last edited by Rebonack; 2020-01-17 at 09:27 PM.
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  20. - Top - End - #800
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours- Hector]

    Hector makes an undignified canine sound and melts into the shadows of the fence and the man on the other side. They will still know he's there, but he is a significantly smaller target. Though...
    He sticks his head out of the shadow.
    "He inhaled a lot of the mushroom spores. Kinda ran right into one of those. Kiiiiinda my fault? You're gonna wanna get him a doctor before he- well you know." he mutters before he pulls his muzzle back into the relative safety of the shadows.
    He's not really sure where to go from here. They'll see him moving even as a two-dimensional shadow. How's he supposed to get in now? He just wanted to do a good deed. Mostly. After scaring the pants off someone.
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  21. - Top - End - #801
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Waylaid Tour - Dave

    Phew. That worked! Dave stands, wipes some mud off himself, and discovers the leeches. He pries the one off his neck and impales it on the point of his knife before doing the same to the one on his arm. Then, shaken by his encounter, and his eyes opened to just how strange this forest is, he sets off at a brisk pace towards the Hamlet.
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  22. - Top - End - #802
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Waylaid Tour Aelid the Murder

    Aelid is really quite surprised at just how many souls she has. Or... maybe they're all aspects of her soul? Like, one is her love of photography, one is her knowledge of bird calls, one is her sense of humour, and so on.

    Does it really matter, though? She can't tell the difference between all the crows that she is, so maybe it's not important? Unlike the spider webs below. Those look very important indeed. Her husk pulls out the lighter and flicks it, proving it still has fuel. That'd burn the webs, and hopefully the spiders, but any that are left won't be happy. And that won't be great at all. One of her crows spots the hole, and they all (and the puppet) turn to stare at it. The birds will fly out first, most of them, leaving two behind. One on each side of the hole is directing the puppet through the hole, and the other on the inside is keeping an eye on those webs. Aelid really doesn't want to be disturbed. The lighter is returned to its pocket, and the camera is handed to one of the birds. She doesn't want to break that; there's some good photographs on there! And some less good photographs on there. And maybe a few photographs of Aelid, too.
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  23. - Top - End - #803
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours]
    Hector

    "You saved him? Why would you do that? Th-" begins one of the guards, only to get slapped in the back of the head by a second. The third is still afar off, hoping for a clean shot.

    "Don't thank fae, you idiot. Then you would owe the black dog a favor," growls the second guard. "I don't know what your angle is, monster, but you aren't getting in there. You can sit and rot in the forest for all I care."

    Sounds like no good deed goes unpunished.

    "Cinin, head back to the guard-hall and tell them that we've got a barghest stalking the fence thinking we might plan nice. Some travelers must have blundered into the forest. And take the unconscious man with you. If the hound isn't lying he's got lungs full of The Rot," the second guard continues.

    Pretty serous stuff.

    The guards will continue standing there, watching the deepening shadows.

    You could slip away. You can, after all, move invisibly. But the sound of dragging chains will alter them to your presence. You'll need to find someone else to let you into the Hamlet. Either another fellow bus passenger or a creature of the woods powerful enough to breach the ward.

    What do you do?

    Dave

    You step out onto the Old Road and begin jogging toward the Hamlet. It isn't far now. You saw the sign. However, shortly after making your way onto the road something changes.

    The temperature begins to drop notably until you find that you can see your breath. The same wave of unnatural cold that washed over the bus moments before the crash. A nebulous sense of mounting dread falls over you. Some nameless malevolence is approaching, something that sends thrills of terror through your heart at the mere thought of it. Remembering back to the crash now, there was a brief glimpse of The Thing that the bus struck.

    Something...

    Something so wrong that even the universe itself is repulsed by its presence.

    You must hide.

    If it finds you it will kill you.

    Searching nearby, you spy three places where you could hide. An old burned out husk of a car, rusted and slowly being consumed by the forest. A marble mausoleum, its door standing open, with a sign next to it which reads 'To The Graveyard'. A large mass of trumpet-shaped mushrooms with lines of glistening silk strung between them, thick and tall enough to easily crouch behind and be obscured from the road.

    Or...

    You could embrace madness and face The Thing That Hunts.

    What do you do?

    Aelid

    Not... multiple souls. You don't think. More like you're all sharing the same one? All the different crows aren't sharing different thoughts. They're all sharing the SAME thoughts. Your thoughts. Though all from different perspectives since each crow is sensing something different. It's like each crow is one of your fingers. They can all act on their own or with each other. But you're the one who decides how your fingers move, right? It's like that with your crows. Each crow is part of you, all bound up in the same soul, the same sense of self.

    If that makes any sense.

    It probably doesn't. After all, not too long ago you were just a human. Now you're a rapidly growing flock of birds.

    You manage to get your old human body to squeeze out through the hole in the side of the tree and out onto the upper portion of a giant shelf fungus. The forest floor is about twenty feet below you, a swampy morass of cat tails, reeds, and gurgling mud. The water is dark, though it looks like it is perhaps ten feet deep with thick muck below it. Your body could probably jump down without being hurt. Or you could try to instruct your body to climb down. However, if it falls the massive tree has numerous roots poking up out of the water near its base. Falling on those would be no less harmful than falling onto a bed of spikes.

    Or... you could wait.

    You watch as your puppet retches up another crow.

    With enough birds, you could pull down some long vines for your puppet to hang onto and carry her down to the soggy forest floor.

    What do you do?

    Khiael

    You have undergone apotheosis; the ashes of your old body lay scattered around your hooves. You're assaulted by a cascade of new sensations and instincts. How to feed. How to grow. How to become more powerful. Some dim understanding of the nature behind the Eternal Game. You can't help but feel like you have way too many limbs. And eyes. And... everything. You have too much everything. You're trying to make sense of it, but you're making little headway. The most difficult part of all this is that you still, fundamentally, feel like yourself.

    You recall tales of sorcerers who turned into devils... no. Not devils. You aren't a devil. You're a cherub. An angel. A thing of light and life. But... Often times, it was said, that they would behave like they hadn't changed. They would use their foul sorcery to assume their original human shape. But inevitably they would bring ruin to everyone around them. But standing here in the sand, the waves lapping at your hooves, you don't feel like you want to bring ruin to anyone. Maybe... the stories were wrong? Or those other devi-people were just bad people at heart? Surely you would be able to resist whatever had tempted them?

    First, however, you need to get out of this cave.

    Your new eyes can see better in the dim light cast off by the coral.

    The alter the Icon is hovering above looks like is designed to slide forward. There might be something hidden below it. You can just barely make out the mouth of another tunnel at the back of the cavern, twenty feet off the ground near the ceiling. You glace back at your wings uncertainly and give them a few hesitant flaps. Could you just fly up there? The water-way that you were swept down lays behind you. You could backtrack, or possibly find another tunnel under water.

    What do you do?
    ****

    Khiael doesn't know where any trap door might lead. Nor does he know where the upper tunnel might take him. But he DOES know that both of those routes would probably lead further inland. And he wants to stay away from the corrupted forest as much and for as long as he possibly can. That leaves him with the third option.

    The underwater tunnel that sucked him into the hidden cove to begin with. And if it sucked him in here, he's going to be fighting against the current all the way out.

    "I hope you're more than just for looking silly," he says to the orca-like flukes at the end of his tail.

    He backs up a few paces, takes a deep breath, and then with a running start dives into the water.

    It should be freezing cold.

    It doesn't bother him.

    It should be pitch black.

    He can see fine.

    He beats his tail and flaps his wings, cruising along through the current like a torpedo. It's... actually working so far?
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  24. - Top - End - #804
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours- Hector]

    "Expect a lot. Whole bus got smashed by a big scary Thing on the way. 'Least two made it. And I felt bad, okay? You try to spook someone and they go and run into a death mushroom. Bleh. For the record, I would have asked you for a steak. Some of us don't get to eat when we have rules about not chomping people. You guys suck." Hector makes a show of slowly sliding along the ground, piteously dragging his chains while whimpering.
    He knows it won't work but it's part of the routine.
    But without help from a sympathetic human on the other side he's going to have to find someone else now. So off he goes.
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  25. - Top - End - #805
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Waylaid Tour - Dave

    Oh crap. If that one thing was real, the Thing probably is real too. Shoot! He should have told it to hunt down the Thing! That would have gotten it out of his hair and probably killed. Still, no time to lollygag. Mushrooms, car, or tomb? The car is probably the worst hiding place but the least likely to contain some other danger. The mushrooms would have him risking a lungful of spores again, or an attack by the spiders that made those webs. The tomb is probably safest, but if the Thing exists, there could be undead in there. He makes a choice. He can deal with spores and spiders. He rushes into the mushroom grove and takes cover in the shadows.
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  26. - Top - End - #806
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours]
    Carlie

    "Don't worry, I'll keep to my promise," Carlie says.

    She walks through and leaves the troll away - and, fortunately, the bunnygirl isn't so frustrated such that she has the presence of mind to avoid smirking until she's far enough away.

    Once she's far enough away, she calls out, "Bruce!" a couple more times, then she spots the road.

    Wait. Seeing the road reminds her.
    "The Thing That Hunts"? Carlie's not entirely sure what that's a reference to. Is it a devil-analogue? Or...maybe its that thing they ran into? Is this even the same road they came in here on? If it is, she could just follow it to the end. But...following directly on the road will be a little obvious for more fairies trying to block her path, and the bat Bruce was probably thrown into the forest alongside the road...and probably on the same side of road she was.

    Oh!
    There's a sign over there by the road.
    ...While her thermal-eye is great at seeing warm-blooded creatures or small bats or other people hanging around in the forest, the texture of things around that retain heat, camouflaged creatures, and so on, it's trash at doing other things. Seeing cold-blooded things and wet things, for example, as demonstrated earlier today. Reading is also one of the things that is really hard to do when you can only see infrared.

    Wow.
    This is probably going to be annoying over the next several months. One eye can't see color but only heat, weird depth perception, and so on. Reading her favorite books is going to be a nightmare. To read what the sign says, she has to temporarily close her right eye so that she's not getting weird thermal-signals from it. She'll just have to get used to this eventually.

    "The Hamlet." That way. Maybe they know which way direction to go down down the road to get out. And possibly food? Her stomach's empty, but she had enough energy in storage to probably be okay with that for the day.
    Maybe Bruce is there? Actually, at this point, she's hoping he just flew away to get help, or something.
    Carlie looks down at her tattered, rotten, and torn clothes, and grabs the hook again so it's in her right hand now. It's a wonder her clothes have held together this well. Maybe they'll have some clothing she can change into, too.
    ...
    Something that will work with her tail. Right. She's got to remember to keep that in mind in the future.

    Because of the reasons she listed above, she returns to the forest next to the road, and walks down it, parallel to the road in the direction of the hamlet.
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  27. - Top - End - #807
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours]
    Hector

    The guards don't reply to you. But there is some concerned whispering between them when you mention a whole bus full of people were lost to the woods. No doubt they expect that means many new monsters being created. They've killed off many of the more threatening ones who tend to stalk too close to the Hamlet over the years. This just means they may have to mount another purge soon.

    That isn't great news for you.

    You slink off further south, chains dragging with you. So long as the sound can be heard from the other side of the fence, one of the guards will follow along from safety. It doesn't look like they have any intent to let you in.

    Mushrooms grow steadily in size and number, eventually replacing the trees completely. The Rot, as the guards called it, is heavy here. The awful fungus is wrong on a deep, fundamental level. You somehow know that mushrooms are associated with one of the casts of devils, but these ones are somehow different. They're infested with devilry AND dreams. And somehow that makes them far, far more repulsive to you than mere devilry. Spores are thick in the air, drifting heavily. And before long you spy a ghastly sight.

    And oak tree.

    Unlike they other trees in the forest, this one still seems to be intact-

    -except for the great gash in its bark, covered in oozing red cankers.

    You can hear the tree weeping. It's a dryad. And she's been infected by The Rot.

    What do you do?

    Dave

    You huddle behind the mushrooms and discover, much to your dismay, that the webs you found in the front are just a tiny extension of the webs BEHIND the trumpet fungus. There's a burrow. A very large burrow. Ringed with web. Web that, in your haste, you just stepped in.

    Something horrible pops out of the burrow, grabs you, and drags you in. It all happens so fast that you get the impression of far too many legs and not much else. Before you can scream you feel a prick and your whole body suddenly feels like there's a tremendous pressure bearing down on your. A warmth settles over you as you feel... very... heavy...

    But totally aware.

    "Ssshh..." croons a voice in the absolute darkness. You feel something cold and furry caress the side of your face. "Poor thing, you're scared to death. Teehee! Just relax. Everything will be fine."

    A few minutes pass. You begin to feel your limbs again.

    And then all at once you're tossed out of the burrow. From where you're laying you get a brief view of the thing that just grabbed you, glistening eyes in the dark. Far too many eyes. "Come back and visit some time! Bring tea. I love tea." Then the lid of the burrow drops shut. You were... apparently just abducted/saved by a giant trap door spider. You also feel, somehow, that you have been doomed to return to this very spot some time in the near future.

    With tea.

    It is fated.

    The paralysis soon passes. The feeling of freezing wrongness has lifted.

    The Hamlet stretches before you, the end of the road a stone's throw away.

    A slow, rolling landscape of gentle hills and farms. Further, a small town full of bustling activity. Down by the water's edge a wharf is occupied with small ships. Fishing vessels, it would appear. Then the terrain rises sharply, up to a precipice overlooking the sea atop which is perched a grand, Gothic castle. The sea breeze carries the scent salt and the sound of distant, raucous birds.

    There are metal posts driven into the earth all along the forest's edge. Upon them is etched a symbol. A three pointed crown below a crescent, five rays extending from it. You could visit one of the outlaying farms. Or maybe the village itself. Or you could head straight for the castle. You still have the deed and the letter, after all.

    What do you do?

    Carlie

    The moment you begin walking along the road you feel it.

    Hunted.

    You are being hunted.

    A Thing stalks this road, and it draws near. The temperature begins dropping precipitously as it draws near, unnatural silence settling over the forest. The groans of beasts, the drones of insects, even the harsh cawing of the crows. All fall deathly still. The Thing that sundered the bus and scattered you all is coming. And you feel with absolute certainty that if it finds you, it will kill you.

    You and your child.

    There are two choices. Hide or perish.

    Casting your gaze around, you spy three places to hide. There's a discarded, deserted campsite nearby in a small clearing, a tent pitched near a circle of stones. A vile smell wafts from the tent. Then there's that large collection of headstones and monuments, heavy with oozing sludge. A sense of deep sadness hangs over the graves. Finally, you spot a thick ring of trees surrounding a rotted stump, suckers that grew from the fallen tree's roots and have created a natural cathedral of sorts. The ring of trees is, in turn, surrounded by a ring of mushrooms.

    What do you do?

    Khiael

    You swim, wings beating and tail pumping. Without even thinking about it, you begin breathing under water, feeling it flow cool and refreshing through hidden slots in your neck and back. It feels like you're flying. And makes you wonder what actually flying might feel like.

    Euphoria is, however, a ephemeral thing.

    But horror?

    Horror is easy to find in this place.

    Great tendrils of kelp lash up from the floor of the tunnel, grasping you and pulling you down. You can feel your flesh sting and sizzle where the fronds dig into you. As you're pulled toward the sea floor the source of the assault quickly becomes clear. It looks like a sea urchin. And a great bloated angler fish. And a pulsing mound of yellow-green sea weed. Rings of woven kelp rotate lazily about it, launching more grasping fronds of death toward you. To make matters even worse, the horror is surrounded by a small collection of reanimated corpses in various stages of decay. One is bloated with sea water and encrusted with sea life. A second is a nearly bare skeleton covered in jagged barnacle growths. The third is half-eaten, covered in scuttling crabs and hagfish. All are bound in kelp, the fronds pulling at their limbs and causing them to move in a stuttering, grotesque mockery of life.

    "You..." rumbles the horror. "How DARE you be blessed when I am cursed! I will crush the life from you!"

    Dragged to the bottom of the sea, the corpses begin to advance on you.

    How do you survive?
    ****

    First elation. And then panic.

    Khiael just can't seem to catch a break today, can he?

    He gives a scream of alarm, bubbles blasting from his mouth. Then he thrashes again the kelp. For every frond he rips away three more lash around him. As he's forced to the bottom of the sea cave he gets a good look at the thing attacking him and feels a wave of nausea. Not just because the horror looks... well... horrible. But because he feels some degree of kinship with the thing and that feeling leaves him recoiling in disgust. He has NOTHING to do with that thing! He didn't WANT any of this! He didn't ask to be born a sorcerer! He didn't ask to get thrown over that cliff or to be washed up to the Icon. That was all the work of forces beyond his control. And that disgusting mound of flesh is going to blame HIM because it sought out such a terrible fate and got cursed because of it?

    Power boils inside the cherub as he snaps his mouth shut and gives a shrill *CLICK!*, sending a wave of raw kinetic force reverberating through the water and slamming into the horror and its minions.

    "I'm not like you!" Khiael yells back, his voice carrying underwater. "I'm not going to be a monster! Maybe you got turned into that because you were already a monster even when you looked human!"
    Last edited by Rebonack; 2020-01-17 at 11:26 PM.
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  28. - Top - End - #808
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours- Hector]

    Hrmmm.
    Hmmmm.
    Hector should be leaving. This direction sucks. Nope. Doesn't like this at all.
    Except...
    "Hello, Ma'am. Anything a big ol' me can do about that? 'Cause you seem like you're having a bad day." Hector offers warily to the infected tree.
    But at the first sign of hostility he might just bolt.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  29. - Top - End - #809
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    bc56's Avatar

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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    Waylaid Tours - Dave

    That was... odd. Dave makes another note on his mental quest log.
    1: Find Hamlet.
    2: Bring spider tea.
    3: Return to Civilization
    Optional: Explore Castle
    Why does the spider tea thing seem so necessary? It's almost as if it's been woven into a web of fate. But that's crazy talk. He approaches the Hamlet, ticking off its quest from his list. He'll go to the city square first and try to get directions back to civilization. He can check out the castle later. It looks cool. He looks for somewhere to get tea. He feels like he owes the spider one for saving his life.
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Shakespeare, King Lear, IV.i.46
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  30. - Top - End - #810
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    5a Violista's Avatar

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    Default Re: Outside 48: Hotter than Inside

    [Waylaid Tours]
    Carlie

    Carlie can feel the shiver running down her spine: She's not the hunter this time.

    She knows there's not two choices: there's only one. Dying is not an option.

    Glancing around for places to hide, she first spots the graveyard. What she can tell from her initial glance, there's nowhere to hide there. Sure, behind a tombstone, but if it looks for her, it will see her as she moves from one to the other. Not there, that choice would be perishing.

    Next, the tent. As she approaches it, she notices the smell and, consequently, the desire to vomit rises once again. No, if she hides in there, it'll hear her just like the fish-people did.

    The fairy ring.
    As much as she's been terrified of fairies all growing up, she knows that if she keeps on looking, it will be too late. The fairy ring will have to do. And, maybe, since the child in her is technically one-twenty-second of a fairy-being, maybe it'll turn out alright.

    The bunnygirl sprints to the ring. As she runs there, all the terrifying stories her mother told her about fairy rings come to her mind. Most of them false, but...maybe here it could be true. Don't dance in there. Don't accept food or drink, or you'll turn to dust. Bring iron with you - she has the two weapons still with her. Don't break or damage the circle under any circumstance. Don't go in there alone. If you want to see be warned of its inhabitants, run around it several times first - there's not enough time for that. Watch out for the witches. You'll turn invisible and nobody will ever see you again. If you go in there, the fairies will try to make you live another life and forget who you were.
    ...
    There's endless stories that scared her when she was younger. But, now, she -

    She doesn't have enough time to finish that thought: she's there. She stops. In Portuguese, she says something that roughly translates to 'With your permission, we enter' and then carefully steps over the mushrooms to avoid damaging any of them. And then she tries to make her way in past the ring of trees, where she hopes she'll be safe from the hunter.
    Last edited by 5a Violista; 2020-01-18 at 12:13 AM.
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