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/qst/ - Quests

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When had the nights gotten so short? The voices find themselves asking that question as yet another morning rises, Cici with it, and their heads collectively pound from the previous night’s instruction.

“A sword is never half as useful to its soldier as their armor,” Queen Ashana had admonished. “So, now that you know the basics of how to strike, it’s best you learn how to defend against being… What was the word you used? Oh, yes… penetrated.”

You might have struck a nerve, in hind sight, and the queen, for all her composure, might not be above some petty vengeance. Whatever the case, the evening had proven instructive in all the ways your mental defenses could be assaulted, broken, crushed, eroded, erased, or seemingly devoured by an enemy with a modicum of skill.

The next thing you knew, the morning had come, the strange void between sunset and sunup at once seeming to have lasted for more than two weeks and to have been over in a flash. That just left you the morning and however many days were left until Cassandra’s mother’s representatives made themselves known.

At least you aren’t the only ones lagging from major exertion, Cassandra still seeming a little deflated and worn down after a day of hard decisions despite the smile she puts on for the children. Rosie at least is faring a tad better, though she seems the sort to let life’s intricacies roll off her back, the massive ogress happily helping Jade learn the nuances of eating as a massive shadow swiftly passes overhead.

“Is that-“

“It’s Grampa!” Cici confirms for her mother. “Hi Grampa!”

Whether or not he heard her is up for debate, but it certainly raises some questions for how they want to spend the day.

> What to do…
> [] Try to stay with Brad today. There were things you needed to ask him.
> [] Go with Cici to school today.
> [] Go with Cassandra to the town hall again.
> [] Other
> [] Try to stay with Brad today. There were things you needed to ask him.
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For any new players:

Welcome to Gorgon Child Quest! Where-in you take up the role of a magical talking artifact being wielded by a young gorgon girl named Cici. Living out of the remains of a once great dungeon, the game will focus on exploration, character interaction, and learning as the voices of the players within the amulet help guide her along.

For news about quest updates, my twitter can be found here:

And the archive can presently be found here:

The outline of the wings comes clear as Archer brakes away from the sun and swiftly descends downward, the griffin’s wings breathing a strong wind that billows through the grass before the old man strapped to her saddle begins struggling his way back down to earth.

“Grampa!” Cici calls again, excitedly moving to embrace the older gentleman. “You’re back!”

“That I am, dear,” he says, returning her hug with one hand and a warm smile. The other holds his bag and a staff. “And if I don’t miss my guess, much has happened since I’ve been away.”

“Uh-huh!” Cici says. “I learned magic an’ baking an’ how to fly an’ went to school an’-”

“My, my, quite the busy schedule! Hopefully, you’ve still been getting your rest in their somewhere.”


“Well, all’s well then,” the wizard confirms, turning to the others gathered around the fire. “Vivi, Iris, Cassandra, Rosie, and… Um? Well, aren’t you a new face?”

“That’s Jade!” Cici chips in eagerly. “The voices say she’s magic an’ Rosie’s her new Mama.”

Rosie seems a little flustered by that statement as she takes a napkin and dabs at the small girl’s face.

“Just, well, it was either me or the crazy robots…” she says.

“Ah, I see. That would explain a great deal about all of the things they requested from Ashport. Rather, fascinating honestly, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Cassandra, I’ll take the way you’re wringing your tail as an indication we have something to discuss.”

“Is it that obvious?” Cassandra sighs, ceasing her fidgeting.

“My dear, you have many fine assets. A poker face isn’t one of them.”
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The adults leave for a short while as the girls finish breakfast, talking amongst themselves about their day-to-day activities as normal until it’s time to leave. It would seem that for all her absence, Vivi is still living anything but a conventional life delivering on her mail route, visiting everything from castles, to small villages, to magical forests filled with talking trees. She spends the better part of the time today recounting a race of sorts that she’d had with an ostrich harpy, stopping just short of an important moral lesson as she looks to the dial and realizes she’ll be running late soon.

“Later, sis,” she says, giving Cici a hug.

“Later, sis,” Iris parrots back, giving a big toothy grin.

In response, she gets a stuck out tongue before the harpy is bolting toward the clouds and out of sight, leaving the girls to finish packing their bookbags.

“Grampa,” Cici says, when the adults finally make their way back out, the bracer already in hand. “The voices said they wanted to visit with you today. Don’t worry, though. I’ll be home early today. Uncle Guyus said one of his friends passed away an’ so he has to go say goodbye.”

Wait, what? It seems the life lessons never stop for the small child nowadays, whether you are with her or no. You just hope that they’re the right ones as she waves and begins walking out of sight.

> What to do…
> [] Say some words in parting before Cici is gone.
> [] Ask Brad about his travels and the city.
> [] Ask him about your limiters.
> [] Other
> [] Ask him about your limiters.
> [] Other
We take it Cassandra has talked with you about our problem of wizardly jurisprudence?
>Say some words in parting before Cici is gone

Try not to bring up the topic of the deceased relative when you see Guyus next. It's best to let some things stay nice and quiet until they stop hurting. No sense in causing issues with someone who likes you so much.

>Ask Brad about your limiters
This is a bad idea. If we have need of such things then we've failed our job of keeping Cici away from trouble. I vote against this. It could end up in the same situation that Iris was in with hers, and we can all agree that no one here (Iris excepted but 'haha beholder-kin') could handle that well.

Also, this.
>Try not to bring up the topic of the deceased relative when you see Guyus next.
Well that's not only ethnocentric but also anthrocentric.

>parting words
Observe Guyus and any other lizard folk and how they talk about the recently deceased. You should observe and try to act in accordance with the other person's culture. Given how Yesh conversed with the dead, the relative is likely not too far away.
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“I’ll be careful!” Cici promises. “Uncle Guyus said you’re not supposed to be sad, though. He lived a long life and did lots of neat things first.”

With a wave, she’s then fully on her way, Cassandra bringing up the rear with the girls’ lunches in tow.

“It’s peculiar how easily children can come to accept these things,” Brad notes, eyeing the bracer with a scholarly air as he places his glasses further up onto his nose. “Here’s hoping that she can maintain that intuition as she gets older.”

“You plannin’ on croakin’ sometime soon, old man?” Rosie asks casually, getting a smile from her charge as she raises her rapidly up and then floats her down to knee level.

“I very well may,” he laughs. “At this point, my seventies are barely a fond memory, and the winter keeps getting harder on these old bones.”

“Still haven’t forgotten when you buried me up to the neck,” she reminds him.

“And I’ve not forgotten your attempts to murder my extended family out here,” he assures her. “If you’re ever of a mind to try to shorten whatever years I have left, I’d welcome you to try.”

“Shit, you really aren’t scared of anything, are you?” the oni chuckles.

“More than you can imagine,” he assures her, “but very little of it to do with my own personal health. Continue caring for that child in your arms, and you’ll soon come to understand.”

With the matter seemingly settled, Brad turns his eyes back to the voices and the amulet.

“So, what is it that you would ask of me?” the wizard questions. “I suppose I may not have told you much of your possible functionality when last I was here, my concerns being far more pressing in ensuring you couldn’t bring harm to Cici through your own intentions or no. I suppose when she’s of the proper age, you could serve her any other number of purposes by her will, either amplifying her magic or serving as a sort of living spellbook and library.

“Even now, should worse comes to worse, you could potentially provide additional aid to help her remove herself from harm’s way, but it’s important to realize that for all purposes, she remains little more than an infant to magic. Her abilities boosted to their utmost could very likely do more harm to her than to others or call unwanted attention down on her. So, I would urge you to think carefully before assisting her as to whether or not your short-term assistance may invite a more terrible rebuke.”

> What to say…
> [] Ask if he can teach you some new spells. (What?)
> [] Ask if he knows anything about the gorgons headed your way.
> [] Ask about William and his possible fate.
> [] Other
Yeah, like I thought. Bad idea to monkey with the limiters.

Not sure if he'd know anything about the gorgons heading up this way, though I would like to ask if he could maybe get Ms. Willow and Melody here to weave some anti-teleportation and/or anti-psychic attack defensive barriers around wherever we're going to meet with these interlopers. While I don't doubt one mage's ability to make such things it'll be three times as hard to pull trickery if all three make their own spellforms. I am expecting maximum subversion from this 'visit', and want to have all our bases covered. That old snake thinks she's just gonna waltz in here and abscond with our charge; well, she's got another thing coming. And I meant that "old snake" bit in the "sneaky, conniving schemer" manner, Baroness.

Not sure he knows all the details about William yet. We have no current knowledge as to the level of information he's had access to during his absence from here. So we'll take that one as it comes.

Also, yeah. The child there - whose name is Jade - is shenanigans from the golems. Be careful around her. Get her upset and she'll peg you with earth magic. Rosie got popped good one time.
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“I imagine if they had the ability to teleport, they wouldn’t be traveling on foot,” Brad points out, “but in the event that they have an amulet of recall keyed to the Stone Isles, I may be able to make a bangle of sorts to keep Cici in place, at the very least.”

“Teleportation’s rare, last I checked,” Rosie mentions.

“You aren’t wrong,” Brad concedes. “The magic in the best of times is extremely expensive and painfully selective, keystones to existing gates being the only reliable way to travel in that way at all, except for very short-term hops through reality.

“So far as wards against charms, I fear those are significantly more complicated to devise. It requires creating an astral-locked animus with a direct bond to the wearer’s own will, and there are few in my profession or any that could manage such a feat. In that regard, Cici is fortunate enough to have you, I believe.

“If Ms. Willow and… Wait, did you say Melody? Oh dear. I suppose she did take up an apprenticeship with a city mage some while ago, but to think she would have made it all the way out here…. I hope she’s been doing well, and that she hasn’t been causing undo trouble for any of you.”

> Hmm….
> [] She’s gotten better.
> [] She’s got a way to go.
> [] Other
>[] She’s gotten better.
>ask about William
Did people forget that Brad is the one to whom William's details were sent to in order to get assistance in his defense?

“It’s good to hear that she hasn’t been making too much trouble,” Brad sighs, the elderly wizard stroking thumb and index finger through his beard. “Truth be told, I worry for her. She seems to be in such an awful hurry to get through life, and perhaps that’s because I’ve set a poor example.”

The old man groans as he stretches out his shoulders.

“You see, when I was a young-.”

“Startin’ in on another story, old timer?”

“Yes, I suppose I bloody well am, you insufferable minx! Now quiet, before I turn you into an actual mink!”


“Now… As I was saying,” the wizard harrumphs, “when I was a younger man, I wasn’t particularly strong of body. I was short of breath and frail of limb, and it proved difficult for me to keep pace with children my own age. It was because of this that I found myself often alone with naught but my books and the housemaids to keep me company.”

“A cruel fate, I know,” the wizard murmurs sardonically before the ogress can rib him. “Surely others suffered frailty far worse without such luxury, but I had the good omens to be born of a family who had long excelled in the ways of magic and its touch showed in our prosperity.

“It was for this reason that we had claim to a library filled with books on matters both mundane and magical, and it was always the latter which captured the interest of my young heart and mind. It was love at first sight, you see. It was a passion for magic, a desire to learn about this wonderful world twisting beneath the surface of our own that saw me whittle away my hours and drive my tutors mad, waving my arms like a bloody nitwit until something finally came out.

“The awards and prestige that came after were never what I craved. It was the pursuit of the thing itself, a desire to weave ever greater spells and eventually to then apply those spells to curing the infirmities of those like myself.

“With Melody, I worry that she doesn’t have the same sort of love in the craft, and that she’s pushing herself out of a desire for acknowledgement rather than chasing her own enthusiasm. She wants to feel adequate, to live up to a family legacy she is in no way accountable for, and in the process, she is robbing herself of all of the joys of her young life.

“Had she a modicum more patience, she’d realize that her tutors that she’s discarded still have much to teach her, and that the raw talent of others in no way diminishes her own. I am not ‘the best at magic’, even ‘the best at my own form of magic’, and I certainly never got anywhere trying to do anything other than what I enjoyed.

“Is it too much for her to play with toys, laugh, and shop with girls her own age? Would it kill her to call me Grampa, again?”

You can see from the way he strokes a hand back through his wiry hair, this maybe -his- strongest sticking point. If nothing else, he grumbles under his breath when the oni begins laughing at him.

[“If she wasn’t holding that child, I’d-”]

In the end, he just sighs, and listens to the rest of what the voices have to ask him, perking up at the mention of William.

“Cassandra’s letter will arrive at my office in a few days from now,” he tells them, “but Cassandra filled me in on the most part of the details. It certainly brings me no pleasure to hear one of my former students would ever do such a callous, foolish thing…”

There’s a hardness in his face now, an air of the judiciary and authority the voices are not used to seeing.

“I cannot forgive what I have no knowledge of,” he intones gravely, “and Mr. Hawthorne has much to answer for. You see, it was never the end goal of human transmutation that was considered abomination, but the unavoidable mistakes that occur in the gulf between failure and success.

“Should he have perpetrated even a single one, it is tantamount to murder and such a thing will never stand before the council. Even then, he risked the lives of innocents, brought about the potential of bringing a sapient being into this world whose very existence would be a fleeting stay of torment and sickness for his ambitions. He robbed from the dead and forsook every modicum of wisdom we attempted to shine in the gap between his ears.”

“Nnn…” Jade looks to the old man, worried, and Rosie is no longer laughing.

“I know what was done and why it was done,” the old man sighs, hanging his head. “I know that no man who had suffered such a loss would not consider such means had he the power and the knowledge, but we must know what has been sacrificed for what has been gained.”

> Well… shit…
> [] Maybe you should visit Will. He can clear this up.
> [] Change the topic. How about that Jade?
> [] Other
>> [] Change the topic. How about that Jade?
We can talk about Will later, maybe when he's around to explain himself a bit. But if it helps it all, the triplets are really cute.
> [] Maybe you should visit Will. He can clear this up.
Get this cleared up, like tearing off a bandaid.
>Change the topic. How about that Jade?
Let's jump off that other bridge when we come to it
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“All good things in time, however,” the man sighs as the voices point to Jade. “Let’s have a look at the new arrival, shall we?”

“Just don’t do anything weird, alright?” Rosie warns. “Don’t turn her skin invisible or try turning her into a gecko or whatever?”

“A gecko?” he asks, perplexed.

“The other thing happened,” she insists, “and she didn’t like it.”

“Will’s work, I’m sure,” the old man grumbles, “but you needn’t worry. There are plenty of ways to skin a cat… Apologies. Poor metaphor. Now, let’s see.”

The old man mumbles a few words in an arcane tongue while fishing his fingers through the aether, points of light emerging along their path until he has a glowing, runic circle projecting an image he can see from his side. Like an x-ray of sorts, the voices are in the right vantage to see it as well, the magical screen peeling back the layers of clay disguising Jade’s outer appearance to reveal the plant matter hiding underneath.

This time, at least, the child doesn’t panic. She just looks curiously at the glowing light as Rosie cradles her reassuringly.

“I see,” the older wizard hums as he dismisses the magic with a wave. “Rather interesting.”

“Am I gonna have to ask?” Rosie begs.

“I’m getting to that,” Brad assures her. “I’m just trying to find the right words. I suppose the best place to start, however, is to tell you that much as you’ve suspected, the little one is a golem of some form, though not of a kind you generally see.

“Normally, in the process of golemancy, the goal is to take an amorphous animus and give it the bearing of a human soul, a frozen representation of the id which defines our beings so that we can assign it tasks that correspond with our basic logic. In this case, what the golems appear to have done instead is to take the animus endemic to the elder root and to have morphed it into something altogether more sophisticated.”

“Can you say that again in common?” the oni grunts.
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“The plant they used is peculiar in that it has a form of life force inside it. The golems shaped that life force and the plant inside to make Jade look and act like a human, more or less. However, it’s more like someone drew what they thought a human looked like and then built something to efficiently replicate that rather than starting with an inherent understanding of what a human is.

“In the end, the clay is simply a mold or a disguise, if you will, for the underlying mechanism, with her actual body being the amalgam of roots running through that clay, their magical projection making it appear as though it were living flesh. She has no heart, no brain, no anything you would find typical in a human child, and yet, she has unmistakably been molded to play that part.”

“She’s a golem that looks like a kid,” Rosie shrugs, “and since she acts like one, she might as well be. What’s your point?”

“My point is only in that it is strange,” Brad concedes. “Wizards have been trying to make life-like humanoid golems for years, of course, and many would pay a king’s ransom for so much as a look at her… Not that I require funds or would ever endanger the child for such things.

“However, they went to all the trouble and expense of procuring these ingredients and they chose to make a child of all things. From how Cassandra has described her arrival, she couldn’t even speak so much as a single word, and even now, she seems entirely ignorant of the world. Why build something so utterly helpless?”

“She could probably knock your head off, old man,” the oni warns. “She crushed five of my ribs when I first met her.”

“The voices told me as much, and I can’t say that I’m surprised. The core of her being has a direct resonance with the power beneath the earth, if I’m not mistaken. I imagine were her temper thrown afoul, she’d likely do much more than simply knock my head off, but that doesn’t answer the question as to why they wouldn’t at least give her more than… What is she doing?”


Jade presently has her mouth wide open, looking directly at Brad.

“Think she might want another sucker,” Rosie comments.

> Any comments for the befuddled wizard?
> [] Write-in
Last time when Will did a checkup on Jade, which neither she or Rosie liked, we reminded him that most checkups concluded with a lollypop as a reward for being a good patent. She seems to have remembered that fact rather quickly...
Yeah, she wants a reward for being good during the exam. Shes learning quick.
Hey, maybe thats why they made her a kid. You just said they dont understand humans, and the closest thing they've been in regular contact with was Iris. Maybe they made Jade as a kind of probe, so she can interact and pick up the knowledge and fill out their limited understanding by watching her mature?

so shes our new freind?
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“A lollypop?” the old wizard asks, reaching into his robes questioningly. “You’d think a man my age would carry hard candy of some description, but…”

He seems to conclude that he’s all out, but undefeated, he then begins drawing a pinch of this and that from his satchel and throwing the collective powder into a small bag he pinches off and dangles from one wrist. The opposite hand then sets to work twirling in the air and begins calling forth water and a host of different vapors which he spins like small marbles before summoning them all together in a vacuum-like micro-gale with a clench of his fist, adding his salts to the admixture before select spears of nearby roots upend themselves and seemingly tumble into the recipe of their own volition.

“A bit of earth candy,” he concludes, allowing the now solid brown jewel to fall into his hand, its surface reminiscent of rock candy if the voices aren’t mistaken. Now we just add a stick and…”

Jade seems amazed by the display, if likely completely unaware of its intricacies, happily waving her arms as Rosie takes the candy from Brad and in turn hands it down to her.


Naturally, the sucker immediately finds its way into her mouth. Sweets thus secured, Jade is then completely enraptured by the taste, quietly suckling at the hard candy as Rosie runs a hand through her hair.

“You know, now that you mention it…” Brad says at the voices’ suggestions. “I suppose it’s as good an explanation as any for them making a child. She’s a blank slate for impressions, someone with no pre-existing biases and able to interact with us in ways no machine ever could.”

“So, what? She’s supposed to teach them how to act human?” Rosie asks.

“Or she’s meant to teach them how humans act,” Brad conjectures. “Perhaps, if they couldn’t have a seer to experience the world in its entirety, they settled on a child that could see things from a worldlier perspective, one that could grow and learn to adapt to the world around her.”

“Eh. Whatever,” Rosie shrugs. “Till further notice, she’s just a kid with weird lookin’ hair, and I ain’t gonna let anyone mess with her. Screw all the child o’ destiny crap.”

> That’s… Well, that’s Rosie, but is that wise?
> [] Write-in
She should still eventually go to school and make some friends there.
Being around Cici will be a good experience for her. Though she'll need to learn to control her strength and be able to talk first.
Rosie, her prodigeous strength makes her being around other children potentially hazardous, and her value as a research tool to an unscrupulous mage could make treatment as a normal child difficult.
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“Maybe having a… mostly normal home environment would be best until she can speak, at least,” Brad offers. “We could certainly revisit the issue at a later date, should anything change.”

Some of the voices have reasonable objections come the issue of academic enrollment, drawing a grumble from the red-skinned woman.

“Listen,” she begins. “It’s the same thing I say about the runt. She’s just a sweet kid with weird hair. Sure, if she put her mind to it or even just had an accident, she could do somethin’ to hurt somebody, but it ain’t right to look at those worst-case scenarios. She can’t grow up bein’ scared of people or havin’ people bein’ scared of her cuz o’ what she is or things she can’t help.”

“Nnn…” Jade adds helpfully.

“Time will tell if she has the temperament for school,” Brad agrees, “or if the abilities she displayed on your first meeting are something she can learn to consciously control. For now, I’d simply recommend providing her a rich environment to absorb information from, introducing her to people and conversation whenever possible. Cassandra can send your letters as well should anything pressing come up.”

“Sounds easy enough.”


“Then we can leave it at that for now, but the real question is what the devil else I need to get done before I have to head back.”

> Was there anything?
> [] Does Rosie’s house have everything it needs for Jade?
> [] There’s always the school. He could see Cici at lunch.
> [] Other
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I'm exhausted folks. Gonna get some sleep and pop back in tomorrow.
>[] There’s always the school. He could see Cici at lunch.
But we should ask Rosie
> [] Does Rosie’s house have everything it needs for Jade?
She's not just a bachlorette living with her brother, she's a single mother now!

> Was there anything?
I hope you last a few years more old wizard. If teaching magic is left mostly to us it will be a disaster. Considering our most likely reaction to the Gorgons taking Cici away against her will would be to let free certain weapon... we try but we aren't what one would call sane. We love Cici and we are possesive of her. We try to do what is best for let and let her make her own choices as much as possible. But we are not alive, we don't see things the same way living beings do. We remember being alive but we also remember much harsher times.

Times of blood and battle, times were Gods walked the Earth, cursing and blessing mortals on a whim.

Thankfully that era is over, the very fact the Gorgons curse is weakening means the Age of Gods is ending.

That for bad and worse will lead to a era less focused on magic but it will take a long while. More time than even Cici has to live.

That's not bad just different, less magic will also mean less monsters and morr chances for science to advance.

And maybe some day centuries from now, we will be free, the magic that made us undone to the ravages of time.

What was I talking about? Ah yes Cici has destiny and fate all written over her. She will be probably end very good at whatever she decides to do with her life.

And while what that wizard did was foolish and criminal, he is the one most qualified to treat any possible health problems the sheep children might have. Not to mention it would be cruel to take their father away.

Think of it this way, people who could be of great help to either Cici or her mother keep getting here. So why not make that fool help?

And is getting a tad ridiculous. In fact is no wonder the Gorgons want Cici.

We have left Cici mostly on her own these last few days because her poor mother is almost having a nervous breakdown. But you are here now, so please talk to her.

And yes your niece could use more friends, but you are wrong on something.

She likes magic.

She sees magic as something wonderful and if anything she is frustrated because every other magic user she knows is better than her.

Friends may help but to overcome one own limitations one must first admit he or she has them.

The problem is, who could talk to her about that?

> [] Does Rosie’s house have everything it needs for Jade?

Just ask, no one here wants a child to suffer and is anything Cass can just take it from your salary later.
>There's always the school
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“Ah, the twilight of the gods,” the wizard murmurs. “People have been prophesizing the day since the start of creation, and I imagine they’ll continue to until the stars themselves go out. It’s hardly what I would consider a practical concern. As for everything else, well… We’ll just have to see, won’t we?”

“Are you certain that you have everything you need for the child?” Brad finally asks in agreement with the voices. “She’s a good deal smaller than you or your brother.”

“Well, we don’t have a heated tub like Cassandra, but it’s not like there are cracks in the floor for her to fall through…”

“If you don’t mind, allow an old grandfather to take a look,” the wizard insists, walking inside to the bathtub and waving his hands over his previous creation before stepping back outside. “Now, then, Archer… The devil did she go?”

The fluffy owl cat seems to have been distracted by something and vacated the scene, but the old man simply shakes his head and plants his staff down in front of him.

“I suppose we’ll walk, then,” he says. “Lead the way, and try to pick the route you’d find most ideal to walk every day.”


With that the oni strikes off ahead with Jade in tow, the massive woman’s ‘preferred’ route quickly becoming apparent by the broken line of foliage that she’s following with impossibly long-legged strides. Brad, being the old man that he is, simply tries to keep within sight as he plods his way methodically along after her, branches and brambles recoiling at his approach, bows shaping into an arc far above his head and staying that way as small stones and flattened earth chase the grass from beneath his feet.

It isn’t a short way, but not precisely a long way either before they finally come to the oni’s home, Micshael, sleeping contentedly in the yard with one hand on his great, round belly as birds peck here and there, looking for insects.

“Oi, Mishi!” the ogress yells. “I told ya to stop sleeping in the vegetable patch! You’ll kill all the plants!”

“Huh?” the big man grumbles, his voice alone sending a rumble through the trees before he peels himself up from the ground. “I sorry, boss. Outside feels nice.”

“Just put down picket rows,” Brad suggests as the ogre moves away, conjuring some wood with a wave of his hand and already getting to work. “It should serve as a suitable reminder while also discouraging other animals. You’ll also want to build a general fence so that wild animals can’t come in and attack her if she’s unattended.”
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“Good, guess now we can worry about-”

“Not so fast,” the old wizard tuts. “The earth here is too hard, and this type of grass has basically no spring to it. There’s a divot in the earth there, there, and there that will fill with standing water when it rains, ensuring a healthy mosquito population and plentiful mud for her to slip in.”

He clicks his tongue as he begins tracing the perimeter.

“Poison ivy, poison oak, arum maculatum, foxglove, nightshade…” He points to them all in turn, causing the plants to wither and fall dead as he creates a rut where a fence line should go. “It also appears whoever created the foundation of your house didn’t give a wit about spiders or snakes. I’ll have to find a source of stone.”

“Hey, Mishi, could you get us some rocks?” Rosie asks.

“Okay,” the big man responds dumbly before wandering away.

“Now can we get to the house?” the ogress begs.

“If I can even get in there,” the old wizard grumps, looking at the stairs. “The climb is too steep for an old man like myself, let alone a child.”

And so, with each step, the wood warps and reassembles into a ramp.

> Well, this could take a while…
> [] Convince him to dial it back.
> [] Let the grumpy old wizard do as he pleases.
> [] Other
>[] Let the grumpy old wizard do as he pleases.
> [] Let the grumpy old wizard do as he pleases.

He's honestly been alive long enough to have a good idea of what's needed. You - and more importantly Jade - will be happy with the end result.

The more problems you guys sort out now, the less problems you'll have later on. Best to take the help while you've got it.

While you're making things, perhaps you could clear out an area for Rosie and Jade to have a training area towards the end of things? Mishi's plenty strong already, but it couldn't hurt to give the oni clear room to get physical training in and Jade somewhere to point her magic *away* from the house. Earth manipulation and ground-bound structures tend to mix poorly.
>[] Let the grumpy old wizard do as he pleases.

Taking care of a child is not easy and children do tend to get in trouble a lot. While Jade is a golem that doesn't mean Rosie shouldn't be careful. And this way Cici and the others will be able to visit Jade and play with her.

And old man, another hint that the Gods influence is fading is Cici skeleton uncle, in times of old a single God was enough to power a champion. While in his case it had to be several and they had to use a creature that was already magical in nature.

Nothing of the blessing a baby so he would be a champion among men, or making the gods half divine children go on quests... at least not in a while.

But you are right, is something that's still too far away.

When most magical creatures that can start to run to other dimensions because the magic in this one is becoming too little, then it will time to worry.
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Corners, countertops, cabinets, creaky floorboards, structural weaknesses in the roof, the old man gives the entire cabin the silk glove treatment to Rosie’s seeming despair, Jade passively seated on her arm as the large woman struggles to keep pace with the much older man and his continual list of necessary improvements.

To be fair, he at least takes care of most of those himself, the entire cabin seeming to move around him, creaking and groaning as harsh edges round themselves, locks and latches appear on things that should have them, and new, smaller furniture appears to accommodate the child.

At that point, the stone arrives, and the madness only continues, the entire foundation of the house shaking as it’s replaced with solid stone, a small courtyard taking shape behind the house and a pathway stemming from it that leads to a training area and bath house which miraculously arise from the earth.

Dust flies through the air only to be fire forged into molten glass which is stuck to every window frame. An outdoor chimney, a fire pit, a hoard of dancing boards nailing themselves into a fence, it’s strange to remember that the usually doting old grandfather is one of the more powerful wizards in the kingdom, sweat beading on his brow from the exertion, but little other signs of wear making themselves known until the deep rumble of magic escapes his lips over the bowl that will become the tub.

The world seems to darken as he casts, magic from the sun itself expended in the form of fiery lines that carve themselves into the stone bowl’s surface as the wizard casts, waving his hands in swirling patterns as water comes erupting forth from some deep pocket in the earth. It’s equal measures intimidating and enthralling, the earth almost seeming to take on a supernatural quality as Brad’s voice echoes in the supernatural twilight, the amulet of the bracer seeming to vibrate with his will before in a simple, almost anticlimactic gesture, everything goes back to normal.

“Nnn…” Jade notes as the sun comes back out, trying to reach for the warm water in front of her as the oni runs stoops down and runs her hand through it experimentally.

“Making one your brother’s size would be too much work,” Brad breathes heavily as he tries to offer an explanation. “Still, have him towel off at least twice a fortnight, if you wo-.”
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The old man coughs a couple of times as he wobbles over to a freshly crafted bench and takes a seat, the voices feeling the swimming sensation in his head as the magical exertion finally asserts itself all at once.

“If you would…” the old man concludes, dourly.

“I’ll help him keep clean,” she promises. “What do you think, Jade?”

“Nnn,” the small girl confirms as she’s set down, looking briefly at the tub before walking outside into the newly-made yard.

“Hey, don’t go runnin’ off,” Rosie warns, “but it seems Jade finds what she’s looking for in a pile of branches, selecting and then idly waving her own stick at the others as if in some effort to get them to move by her command.”

“Another young magister in the making then…” the old wizard sighs. “I suppose it would suit her.”

Rosie moves to sit down by the older gentleman, just watching Jade enjoy a bit of autonomy.

> What now?
> [] Let Brad rest.
> [] There’s still the school.
> [] Try to coach Jade… somehow? (Write-in)
> [] Other
>Try to coach Jade… somehow
Adopt our fairie form, then see if we can direct her with respect to the flow of magic
> [] Let Brad rest.
Lets have them swing by around lunch time
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The voices let the old timer enjoy a well-earned rest and drift over to Jade instead, floating out in front of her and assuming a fairy-like form as she continues to wave her twig over the pile of branches. Curiously, in the process, they see that some of them are actually already moving, the child’s will alone seeming to be enough to excite them to action though she doesn’t have the control to make them move in whatever way she is imagining.

The voices scratch their chin at that, trying to consider how to give her a more pointed direction to focus in granted the impenetrable fortress that is her mind.

> What to do…
> [] Write-in
Well, unless we can somehow figure out what shes trying to do, maybe we should just give her some encouragement!
Try moving around the stick that Jade is holding, in the direction that she's waving it around.
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What she needs is a bit of direction, the voices decide, and so they take all of the might they can muster and slowly move one of the more active twigs from the stack, waving to Jade to make her notice them as they try to get her to concentrate on just the one object.

The next thing they know, the earth is moving out from underneath them as the twig pogo sticks into the air, slowly hopping along as Jade waggles her staff imperiously, and though it takes the adults a moment, they do eventually catch on.

“Hmm. I see,” Brad responds quizzically. “I suppose given her nature, it shouldn’t be so surprising.”

“Heh. Your grandkid’s gonna freak out.”

“I rather hope I don’t come to regret this,” the old man murmurs. “She’s talented, without a doubt, but imagine were she to have been fascinated by my wilting spell. With the power at her disposal, she could render parts of the forest dead in seconds before anyone could stop her.”

“Jeeze, calm down old-timer,” the oni sighs. “Look, she’s just building a little fence.”

It’s true. As the voices watch, Jade is now taking the sticks one by one, bouncing them along the ground before jamming them into place in the softer soil next to each other, creating a sort of crude fence.

“Regardless, try to limit her exposure to dangerous magic,” Brad advises, “or magic at all. I believe it will make rearing her much simpler until she reaches an age of emotional maturity sufficient to take lessons.”

“Alternately, she’ll start freaking out when she accidentally turns herself invisible or starts fires with her mind,” the oni rebukes.

> Do the voices have a side here?
> [] Support Brad. She’s too young to understand what she’s capable of.
> [] Support Rosie. No sense waiting until accidents start happening.
> [] Other
>[] Support Rosie. No sense waiting until accidents start happening.
> [] Support Rosie. No sense waiting until accidents start happening.
> [] Other
ou should have her let you know before she tries to magic something though, just in case she tries to do something that could end up getting her, or someone else hurt.
If you want to treat like a normal girl, well, normal girls have rules too. Wouldnt let my kid swing around a naked blade without supervision or permission o matter how talented she was.
I agree with this. However, we should still limit her exposure to dangerous magics.
>[] Support Rosie. No sense waiting until accidents start happening.

She is magic so unless your plan is to lock her up for years, there is little that can we done to insolate her from magic.

Don't think that she is dumb just because she can't talk yet, she learns fast.

Better to have her supervised if you are so worried.

How about your niece? As you said yourself you are getting old, and between a Oni and a wizard they will be able to deal with Jade tries at magic.

Not to mention that teaching is a way to improve what you know, as it forces you to see it in a different way.
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“Alright,” the old wizard concedes as the voices add their two cents. “I suppose you have a point that her abilities developing in a purely latent sense may be more dangerous and stressful to her than helpful. I just worry.”

“Better the runt learn with Cici and the gang,” Rosie concludes. “At least, they can help her concentrate on doing things that aren’t so dangerous. How about it, kid? You wanna learn magic?”

“Aaaah…~” Jade replies, again with open mouth.

“Huh. Guess she’s hungry again,” she guesses. “Yer welcome to stick around while I whip her up some grub real quick. Might be able to make somethin’ for you as well.”

“Oh no,” the wizard declines. “I still have some food I packed which needs to be eaten, and I think I’ll try to find my god-daughter before partaking.”

“Suit yerself,” the oni shrugs. “Come on, Jade. We’re going hunting!”


“You couldn’t stop her if you tried,” Brad assures the voices as some of them move to object at the quickly disappearing silhouette of the ogress. He, in turn, begins walking back toward civilization. “Truth be told, her raw nature kind of worries me with such an impressionable child, but I suppose time will tell. Speaking of time, was there anything else that Cassandra requires assistance on which she hasn’t bothered to speak to me about?”

> Was there? Alternately, just make small talk on the way into town.
> [] Write-in
Well, She's definitely in need of help in how to relax and not take the fate of every friend and acquaintance onto her shoulders, thats for sure.
Really, I think what she needs most right now is advice and council, especially on all this political stuff with her moms lackey's coming her way. she's a bundle of nerves.
If you could make up some kind of official looking report on the big magic thing underground just in case it comes up later, that'd be helpful too, though I think if it was going to do anything I fail to see why it wouldnt have done so way before now, or how we could possibly be blamed for it when its been here way before anyone else living here was.

“The matter of the device has already been settled in the archives,” Brad assures the voices. “Under risk of causing a problematic incident, we have decided to leave things to lie as they are. Ms. Willow in the meantime is acting both as a teacher, but also our on-site vigilant over the fluctuations of the Immaterium. She will inform us should further corrective action be required on our parts.

“As for Cassandra’s woes, I fear there is little I can do to set her at ease. Her mother and the council of seers are a powerful organization, and to take them lightly would be a fool’s errand. At the least, I can say that any militant action they take would be unwise on their parts.

“Trading with the kingdoms requires abiding by our laws, and those laws are rather explicit with regards to abduction or engaging in hostile activities. Any crime they commit would have to be answered for and addressed if they wished to continue dealings in our territories. Thus, the only way they can take Cici is by her request or her mother’s leave, and I don’t see either coming around lightly.

“That isn’t to say that the seers would be powerless to do harm to the barony, afterward. In fact, I would bank on them using their influence to try to manipulate large forces to affect as many people as possible within the barony, and through them to get to Cassandra. However, she’s a resourceful girl, always has been, and I doubt they will break her so long as she has a voice of reason to hold onto.”

The old man sighs, scratching his head.

“Unfortunate, that I can’t be here waiting for whenever they arrive, but the city is in chaos right now. The jails are full. Corruption is being exposed left and right. There’s rumor of an outbreak of ghosts, dragon sightings, and that damnable bard seemed to think he was on the verge of discovering something ‘big enough to turn this city on its head’. Needless to say, I’ve many long, tired days ahead of me.”

> What to do…
> [] Talk about something else.
> [] Try to convince him to stay.
> [] Other
>> [] Talk about something else.
Shields and status buffing. We can act as a fantastic support caster.
"Oh, so Lee's been doing the Spirit of Vengeance and Justice thing with Falkor? Maybe he can do some civil asset forfeiture to bring some money back to the barony; there's always bills to be paid, and there was a manticore-girl that needed some payments made. And the school can always use more books and materials.
"If the jails are full, why not a work-release program? Or perhaps we should reconsider whether jails should be places of rehabilitation rather than punishment? Because, well, Lee IS quite a good argument for fixing one's mistakes in this life before moving on to the next."
> [] Talk about something else.
Maaybe you could have Lee come back to stay for a bit when you next see him if you cant be around. at the very least he could keep the mood a little lighter, ironic, given the being dead thing.
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“Yes, he and that cat of his seemingly haven’t taken a break since arriving in port with Archer and myself, not that I can entirely blame him. You see, the Townsend family, Lee’s blood relatives before he expired, were a rather prodigious trading company. However, following his passing, many things happened that had all but wiped them off the map.

“His actions in trying to rectify that have been… extreme, may be a good word. He got into a skull bashing competition with one of the most ruthless pirates in all the nine seas within a week and somehow won that exchange, but if you thought that would be the end of it… Well, we all had another thing coming.

“The catch is that in the process of all that, he turned up ledgers. Those ledgers turned up names. Those names turned up more pirates, more ledgers, and more names, and… You get the idea. He has half the city watch persecuting the other half, the nobles in a blind panic, and when he says that he’s about to do something even more drastic than any of his previous antics, I believe it’s fair to be a bit concerned. Either way, believe you me that if I thought I could convince him to give us a week’s respite, I would push for it whole-heartedly.”

For a time, the voices and the wizard walk in silence, Archer eventually pouncing out of the bushes on the way back to town and crawling casually up the wizards leg as the pygmy griffins pop their heads out in some gesture of goodbye.

“Good to see you’ve been making friends, Archer,” the wizard sighs, petting the cat-bird fondly. “By the way, I suppose I should say that their species may be less of a concern than we first feared. That particular breed of harpy, while strange and a bit unsightly are beneficial, after a fashion. They have a fondness for insects, especially the poisonous kind, and either chase away or become food for other predatory animals they feel threaten their homes. I feel the ecosystem will balance itself out, given time.

“So far as teaching you more magic than what you already know, you’re aware of what I said previously about not wanting to put Cici into harm’s way. However, in good conscience, I can at least grant you knowledge of some simple protection spells you can help her cast should something terrible happen. Just bear in mind that she is no warrior and not even half a mage, yet. When conflict rears her head, she should be fleeing, not fighting.”

> Spell learned: Shield
> Spell learned: Protective aura
> Spell learned: Fleet foot

“Is that everything, then?”

> The school is near…
> [] Ask for additional spells
> [] Try to talk Brad into seeing Will after lunch
> [] Other
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I'm a little exhausted folks. So, we'll pick back up tomorrow. Take care.
>Other: convince Brad to examine Will's daughters
Best that he see the results first.
This. Seeing the product of the crime might mitigate it sooner what.
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“I suspect there will be time to get to know Cici’s associates,” he concedes to the voices’ insistence. He then looks to his robes. “Hmm, but my present attire might cause more of a stir than I’d prefer.”

With that set in his mind, the next tap of Brad’s staff on the dirt road brings with it a welling of magic, his clothes disappearing for less than an instant so that his next stride lands in wholly new attire. A button up vest, a pair of pants, and a jaunty bowler hat give him the appearance of a salesman or a store clerk rather than a wizard, the added constriction of the garments seeming to force him to walk a bit taller as his oaken staff shrinks into a more typical cane.

Archer seems to stiffen as she realizes that she will be next, and the old wizard doesn’t keep her waiting. With a wave of the cane over his shoulder, he taps her on the beak, a whirl of magic shortly leaving a cockatiel in her place.

To anyone not witness to that spectacle, very little would seem amiss in the figure now walking down the road to town. An old man, his bird, and a flickering mote in the shape of a fairy, were it not for the last, they would be wholly inconspicuous on their way through town toward the school. As is, only a few eyes are drawn, and none so curious as to accost him.


Of course, it’s more difficult to fool the eyes of a grandchild than a common passer-by, especially when said granddaughter has such an abundance of eyes, Cici running up excitedly to the old man to give her a hug as her growing long-table of friends looks on, confused.

“He ain’t a snake!” you hear Davey object from over her shoulder.

“He don’t have to be,” you hear Clyde correct him. “Now, stop shoutin’ ya idjit.”

“Wouldn’t his beard be snakes if he was a snake?” Juno asks, apparently impressing her sisters with her insight.

“No way! That’d be so cool!” Daisy adds.

“And kinda scary,” Tracey finishes.

“He’s probably the wizard,” Danny finally speaks up between bites of his meal. “Not her real grandfather.”

“Grampa is too my real Grampa!” Cici objects as she leads the old man around by the hand.
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“Ah! T-That’s not what I meant!” Dannie objects, blushing heavily as his cheeks begin baking the surrounding air.

“Ha! Someone got in troub- Ouch!” Iris yells as she pokes his cheeks, immediately sucking the digit.

“My, it seems my reputation precedes me,” the old wizard laughs, quietly conjuring a small mound of earth so he can sit at the end of the table. “It certainly does this old heart good to see Cici has been making so many friends.”

“Yep, she’s good at that!” comes a small voice from the middle of the table, Itsy reclining in a cup of water as she munches on a cherry tomato bigger than her head.

“Really good!” Bitsy adds as she gnaws on a grape.

“Huh, I remember you mentioning your grandpa was a wizard…” Katy notes.

“But where’s his flying bird-cat?” Hannah asks, “You know, Archer?”

The cockatiel screeches a polite indication as Brad opens his satchel and produces a cracker for the bird and three more for himself.

[“Where do I even begin?”]

> What to do…
> [] Convince Brad to put on a bit of a magic show for the kids.
> [] Just quietly enjoy the lunch. Talk to the kids.
> [] Go looking for Melody.
> [] Other
>Just quietly enjoy the lunch. Talk to the kids.
As much as they might enjoy it, I suspect it might excite them excessively, perhaps disruptong afternoon lessons.
>> [] Just quietly enjoy the lunch. Talk to the kids.
> [] Convince Brad to put on a bit of a magic show for the kids.
And obviously Danny needs to be given a short lesson in reproductive biology.
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There’s no sense causing a stir, Brad agrees, and so he keeps talk of magic to a minimum. Instead, he focuses on the children, and their experience with the newfound educational system. How they liked their teachers, what they wanted to be when they grew up, what they did in their spare time, those become the focus of the conversation as the old man gnaws his way through a simple luncheon of cheeses, meat, and crackers. Of course, eventually the teachers would become curious about the strange, older gentleman inexplicably sitting at a table full of children.

“Excuse me,” comes a gentle call from over Brad’s shoulder, Ms. Willow and Melody both having come around to see what’s going on. “You are, of course, welcome to join your relatives for lunch, but might I ask who you- ARCHMAGE!”

Thinking better of that outburst, Ms. Willow dials herself down to a whisper.

“Professor von Ostigar, what are you doing all the way out here?”

“Hello Grandfather,” Melody greets.

“Wait, so you were serious?” Davey cuts in, but is promptly ignored.

“Forgive me,” the old man apologizes. “I had meant to find you both after lunch, but it seems I’ve caused a bit of a stir, despite my best intentions.”

“Oh no! You’re perfectly fine!” Ms. Willow insists. “Have you gotten my reports?”

“All of them, since four days passed,” he assures her. “I’ve been traveling, after all, and I fear I can’t blame the mail for not chasing my wrinkled hide to the far corners of the continent. Also, hello Melody. I trust you’ve been doing well?”

“Yes sir,” she promises. “I’ve been keeping with my studies, and soon I’ll be ready to test-”

“I see, and how many new friends have you made since coming out to this neck of the woods? Have you been eating properly?”

“There’s no good food around here, sir,” she reports, “and no one around here is… Well, they aren’t…”

“I’m Melody’s friend!” Cici volunteers. “Even if she gets mad sometimes, she’s really smart.”

“Eh. She’s alright,” Davey concedes.

“She’s fine,” comes a general chorus.

“She brought us oatmeal one day!” Juno adds.

The young mage, for her part, doesn’t seem to know how to parse this.

> Do the voices have anything to add?
> [] Write-in
Social network development is less than average, but still within acceptable parameters. Just because YOU place such an importance on mistakes you've made in the past, doesn't mean others will regret their own choices in the same way in their later years.

If she's doing what she loves, do you have a right to criticize her for it just because you ended up not satisfied with your results?
She's been a little imperious with those of her age, but Cici send find of her at least.
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[“I have no regrets in how I spent my life, though I suppose I’ll have a hard time convincing you of that. Rather, what concerns me is how unhappy my granddaughter has seemed for most of hers, how dissatisfied she’s shown herself to be with whatever lot she’s managed to achieve in life.”

[“That self-styled superior attitude she adopts is nothing new. In fact, it surprised me to hear that there was a senior mage that would take her for an apprentice after she’d driven all of her previous instructors mad and her colleagues away with her behavior. My concern is not that she lives out her youth in ways I was unable to, but that she not wind up bitter and alone because she cannot form lasting attachments with those she deems inferior or unimportant to her goal in seeking ever greater accolades. Regardless, maybe some good will come of her stay in this out of the way place that runs less on accolades and titles than on interpersonal skills.”]

“Well, it’s nice to see that you’ve been making friends,” Brad notes, “and we can certainly discuss your ongoing research before I leave off out of town again. Just realize there is a vast wealth of things that you can learn out in this faraway place should you keep your eyes open.”

“Yes sir,” Melody answers before walking away.

“I’d like a word as well,” Ms. Willow responds, “but for now, I’m afraid the lunch period is over. Feel free to sit in on classes, if you want.”

“I fear I may need a word with the baroness before I set aside time for auditing lectures. Truth be told, I try to avoid the classroom whenever I manage to steal away for these small business outings.”

“I understand.”

> What to do…
> [] Jump back to Cici for now.
> [] Stay with Brad.
> [] Other
> [] Stay with Brad.
We need to stay abreast of what's bothering Cassandra.
>[] Stay with Brad
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Maybe it's because things are so slow. Maybe it's just something about my current mood, but I think I might take a break from GCQ today.

Before that, I feel I should say that we're coming toward the end of the child chapter in Cici's life. If the buildup to her grandmother's visit wasn't a clear enough indication, I figured I might as well state it a bit openly. In the end, mind you, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing given how much you guys have gotten to mold her childhood and see her grow.

If there are things that you feel need to be addressed before that, feel free to put it forward. Like I said, for the rest of the evening, I'm just going to check out.
I have liked the pacing thus far. Love the characters. Seeing the resolution of the buildup is coming due soon.
Is the next step her teenage years or adulthood?
I really want to bully Danny and his crush on Cici.
I wish we could have taught her more but I am happy we were able to help her.

Overall I am curious what she will focus on. Will it be magic? Baking? Being a seer? Or what?

Oh I also wonder what that garpy phoenix is doing, being a phoenix she must still be around. I wonder if time made her less of an idiot?
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Shanghaid by family, short on sleep, and my eyes are freaking out just looking at my computer screen presently. Sorry for under-performing folks, but I think this is where we are going to have to call it for now.


Thanks anon.


Feel free to debate it amongst yourselves. I hope that bringing the quest into a new chapter with a new title to the chronicle will bring in some new players and allow you all to experience a different fascet of Cici's life.

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