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/qst/ - Quests

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Sleep is a fickle mistress, ever fleeing from her most ardent seekers yet falling unabashed into the laps of those who would deny her comforting embrace. Time is her plaything in the twisting labyrinth of imagery and emptiness she spins, her call thereto irresistible as precious hours in the waking world become seconds or days to a dreaming mind.

So, we come back to our young protagonist, Cici as yet still wrapped in the embrace of a dreamless, peaceful void. It was her reward for a night spent learning instead of sleeping: chasing spirits through the aether and being chased by would-be werewolves until the point of exhaustion. Now she simply dreamt of emptiness, one that seemed to span on for weeks condensed into mere seconds as a pair of hands tenderly roll beneath her and lift her semi-conscious form into the air.

“Good morning, sweet child,” comes a gentle greeting from Uncle Lee, his warm voice slicing through the indistinct grogginess of sleep as he begins walking with his adoptive niece in tow, her head still heavy with dreams as she reclines in his arms. “Or should I say good afternoon, rather? You’ve been sleeping like a log for most of the day.”

“I was up until real late,” Cici explains quietly, wincing as a yawn brings a sharp pain inside her skull. “And had a really weird dream…”

“Dreams are a fickle mistress,” Lee agrees with a laugh. “Still, there will be time for more sleep when the sun has once again set over the horizon. Until then, best you get some food in you. The others are already upstairs digging in.”

[”I hope I didn’t leave you guys waiting…”]

> Write-in
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Also, just in case:

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 steadily improving 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. I may also include a magic system down the line depending on how things go, but we'll see what the future holds.

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

And the archive can presently be found here:
> Write-in
Nah, don't worry about it, Cici.
Now go and get some food in you.
Oh things where happening weren't they...
I was busy thinking.
Don't worry about it
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Amazing how much things had changed over just a couple of days following Grampa Brad’s arrival. From a house that had previously amounted to little more than a few dismal dungeon cells with rickety furniture scattered throughout, the halls were now dotted with lights both magical and mundane, the floors and walls clean and clean-cut as though freshly laid at the hands of a mason. Even the broken bastion that served to hold the rooftop garden had been amended, crumbling stone now properly crenellated and cropped to let the sunlight in and chase the weather out.

And there in that garden presently sits a very familiar retinue, Mama perched politely on her coils as Vivi, Katie, and Hannah excitedly chatter about the night before. Unfortunately for Din-Din, the matron of the household seems to have diabolical plans for him yet, his small legs kicking frantically in her arms as she gives him another dose of moth dust up his nose, the fine powder coming out as a cloud in a sputtering fit of sneeze. A split second later, his teeth make his displeasure clear.

“Ouch!” Mama hisses, as the comparatively small hare latches onto her finger, gently pulling away before bopping him on the nose for his aggression. However, his continued growls brook no apologies. “Good morning, sweetling.”

“Good morning, Mama,” Cici returns, feeling wobbly on her feet as Uncle Lee sets her down. “Or good afternoon.”

“Sorry we didn’t get you up earlier, little sis,” Vivi offers between bites of bread, “but it looked like you needed the sleep. Not surprising after everything that happened… I swear if I get ahold of those bullies, I’m going to drop buckets of water on their head for a week.”

“Something tells me their parents will sort them out,” Uncle Lee assures the frowning harpy. “And that they’ll be far less likely to do this sort of thing in the future.”

“But just look at Cici’s legs,” Katy objects, pointing to the bandages.

“It’s okay. My legs’ll get better,” Cici says quietly. “And Din-Din will be fine, too, I hope.”

“The strange thing is…” Mama struggles to say anything as she finally releases the squirming hare onto the ground. Immediately, he hops over and into Cici’s lap. “He seems to already be doing much better. No bruising, no scratches. His hair has even grown back.”
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“That’s a little weird,” Cici admits, turning over the rabbit’s ears and petting around for sore spots, “but in a good way, I guess.”

“Maybe it’s because he’s a familiar,” Hannah suggests, between bites of toast and honey.

“It’s also possible he’s an evolved species of some sort,” Uncle Lee postulates, “but I’ve learned better than to look gift horses in the mouth.”

“All that matters is that he’s okay,” Cici agrees, offering him a berry for his earlier struggle.

“Though I’ve been meaning to ask, are you alright?” Vivi questions. “Your hair is kind of… still asleep. I’ve never seen that happen before.”

Cici looks nervously down to her hair and for the first time notices that they are, in-fact, limply hanging down her shoulders instead of perked up and nosing around. Combined with her headache that might not be good.

> Write-in
Maybe we should ask an adult?
A headache and your hair is still asleep?
That might not be good.
Yeah, Cici. You should ask your mother and Grandpa Brad to take a look.
You attempted to use magical powers your you'v body has not yet properly developed, and you might have strained something.
Like a pulled muscle or something.
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“I guess I don’t feel so good,” Cici admits, one hand stroking a limp snake tenderly as she sits there. “My head kinda hurts. Maybe that’s because I’ve been trying to use all sorts of magic an’ stuff, though.”

“All kinds of magic?” Uncle Lee probes gently. “Last I heard, your grandfather had only taught you the one, though I suppose even that can be extremely draining if you overdid it.”

“Well, there was that an’ then the ghost lady tried to help me learn how to see an’-”

“You were visited by the ghost of a seer?” Mama questions. “How did- Wait- Wh-“

“She wanted to say thanks for helping the lady at the fair,” Cici explains. “An’ so she helped me walk around while I was asleep an’ see things. It was weird… an’ kinda scary…”

“I can only imagine,” Uncle Lee sympathizes. “And maybe that’s what did it. That is, unless there were other kinds of magic you were using as well.”

Cici remembers the other kind of magic she tried to use yesterday evening, of course, though it’s more like a dream now than anything. However, the memory is still definitely there: the fear, the shock of pain, and that feeling of being completely overwhelmed. At the same time, she realizes it’s something she shouldn’t have done, and that guilt makes it hard to find the words to tell Uncle Lee and Mama about it. Would it be okay to keep that part a secret?

> Write-in
Tell uncle Lee that he's learnt the wrong lesson about gift horses. You are supposed to look them in the mouth.
Honesty is best. Plus at the time, you thought you were being attacked by monsters, which would absolutely be the time to do that.
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“I…” Her first attempt peters out at she looks into Uncle Lee’s visor. “I- When they were hurting Din-Din, I tried to make them stop with magic. An’ then my head started hurting an’ it got really scary an’ I tried to stop but-“

“I think I get the gist of it,” Uncle Lee says, putting a hand on her head. “As your mother would no doubt tell you, that was dangerous. Very dangerous.”

“I’m sssorry…” she whimpers.

“Someone could have gotten very seriously hurt,” Mama adds, her tone full of concern. “Not just the boys either. I doubt you could have hurt them one way or the other, but if one of the city guard saw and…” Mama shudders. “You have to promise me that you’ll never do that again, no matter what!”

“I p-promissse, Mama!” Cici lisps tearfully. “I d-didn’t mean t-to- I jussst- I-“

“You thought you were in serious danger,” Uncle Lee assures her, “and you responded to help a friend in the only way you knew how. That just means that we have to teach her other ways of dealing with these sorts of problems, Cassandra.”

“We’ve already taught her ways!” Mama objects. “She can run away, come find me, call for help, or-“

“What if those had been actual werewolves, Cass?” Lee sighs. “And what if I hadn’t come along at that exact moment? Not that the former is especially likely, but children are going to have the occasional scrap. It’s honestly just not preventable, and when that happens, wouldn’t it be better that she doles out the bruises?”

“I don’t want to hurt anybody…” Cici whispers.

> Write-in
I can completely understand not wanting to throw a punch at anyone or trying to deliberately injure anyone, but you have to be able to protect yourself somehow. Magic can do that, but not for a long time, considering the level you're at.

Maybe some method of debilitation is in order here? Perhaps some sort of powder or spray...
Not wanting to hurt people is a great sentiment to have, but sometimes they want to hurt you or people you love regardless.
Being able to defend yourself and yours is something you will have to learn.
Many people don't want to hurt others. Unfortunately, there's still quite a lot that would, whether for their own gain or amusement. Such a shame that no matter the world or dimension, there are still those who do wrong for such petty reasons...

But it shouldn't matter to one so young... See if there's any more of that powder, then put some up to your snaklings noses. That should help.
Don't hurt people, take drugs! Great advice anon.

“I just wanna go back to baking…” Cici murmurs, as she listens to the voices.

“We live in a very complicated world, don’t we?” Uncle Lee sighs. “But you know-“

“C’mon, Cici!” Katy loudly objects. “We can learn together, and it’ll be super fun. Then we can go around town and beat up ‘all’ the bullies!”

“Wouldn’t that make us the new bullies?” Hannah questions quietly, to which the other girl doesn’t seem to have much of an answer.

“As I was about to say,” Uncle Lee resumes. “The purpose of learning how to fight isn’t to learn how to hurt people, Cici, quite the opposite. It’s about learning how to disengage or end a conflict before anyone is seriously hurt. Monsters, beasts of the night, those shouldn’t be your business in the first place, but you may need to learn how to slow a bully down in time to get away or to stop them before they hurt anyone else.”

“I understand…”

“Lee, I can take your point, but I can’t exactly-“ She gestures to her serpentine lower half. “The way we fight is-“

“You are lovely, my dear, but I was thinking of another tutor. Either myself or Yesh would do really, though I am somewhat strapped for time…”

“Are you leaving again, Uncle Lee?” Cici questions, sadness clear in her voice.

“My dear, there is nothing I would like more than to stay here for a time just helping you and your mother along. I treasure you both dearly. However, I fear that there is simply no rest for these old bones to be had.” *Rattle-Rattle* “I have the rest of my family to attend to, a sister who from the sounds of things may be needing my help. I hope you understand.”

“I guess so…”

[“But who should we learn from?”]

> Write-in
While Lee would be interesting to learn from, as he said, he's low on time.

Let's go bug Uncle Yesh.
Probably your Uncle Yesh. He might have a few things to show you.

Other then that, you could try talking to the local constabulary when you're a bit taller. It'd also be a good chance to work with your mother on archery eventually. I'm sure she'll get around to showing you, so long as you be safe and pay attention.
Speak to Uncle Yesh Cici, but try and get some advice from Uncle Lee first. Archery would be a good skill to have, but sometimes you have to fight up close. Maybe some sort fo grappling or throwing style?
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“I don’t want you to go so soon,” Cici notes, “but I understand why you have to. Maybe Uncle Yesh can help us, instead.”

“Well, you aren’t going to be doing any fighting for today, I don’t think,” Mama interjects, coming over to lift one of Cici’s inert locks from her shoulders. “Not until we take care of your hair, at the very least. I think some time in the bath ought to liven them back up.”

“Okay…” Cici agrees without a fight, her sigh of concession causing a splitting pain to echo in her head.
“I just need to finish breakfast first.”

Jam, bread, butter, berries, and veggies. A full stomach isn’t really that far away as Cici quickly munches down on her remaining breakfast, Din-Din electing to hop away on mention of the word ‘bath’ to places secretive and unknown.

“Would anyone else like a midday scrub?” Mama offers as the gently grabs Cici’s shoulder and prepares to slither downstairs, but only Vivi seems keen on the idea.

“One bath is enough for a couple of days,” Katy assures her, Hannah silently agreeing beside her.

“You should really take a bath every day, though,” Cici complains as she’s pulled gently downward by Mama’s inexorable pull. “It keeps your bed clean an’ makes it easier to sleep.”

“It just means more warm water for us,” Mama, says, as they wind their way back inside the house.

A few moments later, clothes are piled up neatly by the door and steam is rising from the rather generous depths of the pool in front of them, Mama sighing gently as she lowers both herself and Cici down into the divot with Vivi quickly splashing in behind. It really was a pleasant feeling, so unlike those freezing baths in the river as the warm water kisses her skin, and no sooner has the warm water touched her hair than Cici feels some of the tension immediately drain away, like blood that had been pooling in her head had begun moving again.

“Ah, warm bathsss are ssso wonderful!” Mama hums in an uncharacteristic wisp. “Don’t you think, sweetling?”

“Mhm…” Cici mumbles in response, still kind of ashamed to say more as the minutes tick on and her mother slowly massages her hair back to life.

“Eh, don’t worry about it, little sis,” Vivi sighs, fluttering her wings as she reclines. “I remember the time I tried to pick a boy up by the head when he was bullying me. Next thing I know, he has three red lines running up his forehead and scalp. My mom grounded me for a month, and I mean literally: no flying, no leaving my room, no nothing.”

“That sounds real boring…” Cici says.

“But completely fair,” Mama insists. “Why, when I was a little girl and got into my first fight with a young human boy, my mother threw me in the dungeons for a week. That is, after whipping me completely raw.”

Cici shudders at the horrible mental image.

“It was a terrible experience,” Mama admits, placing a calming hand on her daughter’s shoulder, “but it’s not something you ever need to worry about, sweetling. If it’s one thing that all of those experiences taught me is that that is the last way you should ever try to teach anyone a lesson.”

[“Mama never talks much about her childhood.”]

But judging on just that casual snippet, Cici can begin to guess why.

> Write-in
Talk to your Mom about how exactly you feel, and what you felt when you had to defend yourself and Din-Din last night.
If you're still feeling awkward about it, it's better if you talk about what you felt and why you did what you did.
And we did goad you into doing it; the demon bear and vampires being so close to a town is what got us on edge about monsters prowling the outskirts where you live.

[“I don’t want to lose you guys. It was my fault…”]

“I’m sorry for using my powers, Mama…” Cici manages after a long, quiet moment, perhaps gaining a bit more confidence as her hair begins to stir once again. “I was just… just scared an’ I didn’t know what else to do… They were hurting Din-Din real bad… I just wanted to make them stop…”

“I know, Cici…” Mama coos softly, hands never pausing in their work. “You’d never want to hurt anyone if you could help it, would you?”

Cici shakes her head.

“Of course not. I still remember the time I tried to teach you how to clean a fresh catch, and how for days on end afterward you cried and cried… You were miserable knowing the truth behind where meat came from.”

“B-but you said we had to… Cuz there weren’t enough wolves…” Cici finishes, her skin prickling at the half-remembered image of a half-skinned deer.

“And we needed to live,” she confirms. “But that’s just the kind of person you are, sweetling, the kind who cares about everyone, who doesn’t want anyone to be hurt by the end. If only the world were that simple.

“Instead, it’s one big mess,” she sniffles defeatedly, “one filled with hard choices and vague questions and terrible people who words will just never reach. Honestly, I’m half-tempted to put your uncle back in the ground for bringing all of this up, because never in a million years had I wanted you to fight anyone. I wanted you to use these hands for baking instead, for writing and for rearing your own little ones when the time comes, not slugging at some backstreet thugs with too much time and not enough common sense. I guess… I guess I just wanted thing to be different for you…”

By the sound of things, Mama is upset, her arms wrapped around Cici, clasping her tight as Vivi rustles uncomfortably in the corner.

> Write-in
They will be Cici. You have us, the hammer of our collective knowledge.
Someone has to man the walls, be the hard walls around the soft.
You can know how to defend yourself and still be a baker, or a tailor, or a mage.

Honestly, thinking that not knowing self-defense is a positive is pretty shortsighted of Cassandra.
Cici this world isn't a nice place.
And you can't always avoid conflict.
Learning to fight does not mean seeking battle.
Because sometimes conflict shall seek you out on it's own.
Cici, there is a kind of confidence that comes from the capacity to do violence. It doesn't require that you do violence.
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[“You’ll understand when you have children of your own.”]

From its position wrapped around Cici’s waist, Mama’s arm and more importantly her mind seems to have made contact.

[“To have raised a girl, to have somehow brought her up so innocent and so kind in this world… And then having to explain to her that no matter how hard she tries, there are people out there who will only want to hurt her, who no amount of kindness or logic will sway… I know it was foolish to think it could go on forever, but she’s still just a child, my child, and I don’t want her to change.”]

“It’ll be okay, Mama,” Cici promises. “It’s just like learning how to swim. There won’t be water all the time, but when you need it, it’ll help you get someplace safe, right? I don’t wanna fight anyone anyway.”

“Of course, you don’t,” Mama sighs, though in the background, the voices catch a thousand horrible scenarios flitting through her mind. “Of course…”

A brief scrub later, and the trio are toweling themselves off, Cici’s hair still drowsy but the pain in her head now substantially less. And as luck would have it, it seems that Uncle Brad has taken to amusing the remaining two girls by the fire, waggling his fingers to make a lump of clay dance on the table while Uncle Lee orchestrates a phantasmal band in the background, complete with dancing lights.

“I take it your bath went well?” Uncle Lee inquires, not losing time even as he turns away to get a look at the nonresponsive faces. “Well, I’ll take that as a yes then. Now, as for the would be instructor-”

“I refuse,” Yesh answers simply as Kate makes a less than polite face at him. “These two will need permission from their parents before I inflict bruises upon them, and Cici is unwell. Once both are remedied, we can talk again.”

“I understand…” Cici says, both her and her mother breathing a combined sigh of relief.

“There are, however, other things I can teach you, like how to thread wicker for baskets, start a small fire, or knit from the strands of reeds. Alternately, you can think of any number of ways to spend your afternoon. Simply let me know.”

[“I don’t know. What should we do?”]

> Write-in
Actually, threading wicker for baskets could be pretty useful.
You can't go wrong with extra containers.
This sounds extremely cool.
>Implying the disembodied voices ever will have children.
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It's looking like the most useful of skills is a shoe-in, but I'll leave the vote open until tomorrow just in-case. It's a little on the late side here, and I'm still recovering from two utterly murderous weeks. Feel free to vote, ask questions, all of that good stuff in the meantime.
Learning to start a fire is pretty handy. You should have him teach you some skills of that sort.
Let's do baskets, no fire for you little one.
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“The voices think basket weaving sounds fun,” Cici confirms, “and I think it sounds pretty neat too.”

“Very well then,” Yesh confirms, motioning for the girls to follow before exiting the tower. “It is a very useful skill to master, after all, and it could serve you well should you ever be lost in the forest.”

“Mhm. The voices also said something about being underwater?,” Cici adds, marveling as the small lizard man tugs a basket of reeds bigger than he is away from the tree line.

“Perhaps they refer to the origin of these arts,” he hums absently. “Long ago, our tribes learned these lessons from our kin who dwelled in the great river. Along its banks, reeds were plentiful, and in exchange for knowledge of our medicine, they taught us much of their craft.”

“I don’t get it,” Katy proclaims, folding her arms incredulously. “Why are baskets such a big deal?”

“When armed with little more than your wit,” Yesh explains, casually laying out a basic framework for a new creation. “A basket can be an incredibly useful tool. It can hold fruit and vegetables or serve as a snare for small animals while hunting. It can be hung high in the air at night, keeping your food and possessions away from bird and beast while you sleep. You can even use them to carry water if you seal the holes with wax or clay.”

With a twirl of his fingers, he begins deftly knitting the larger reeds together with the smaller strands, slowly filling out the rudiments of a basic design.

“And all you need to make one are fingers and patience… and maybe a sharp knife.” From a fold of his robe, the small man produces a blade and sets aside his own creation, now beginning to nick the edges off new reeds instead, trimming them swiftly down into smooth, uniform lengths which he stacks at his side. “Now, if you girls would like to try, there really is not much to it. You simply need to start with a good base….”
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Over the next couple of hours, the girls follow Uncle Yesh’s instructions as best as they can, from laying down a basic foundation to building up the walls to finally closing their patterns to complete their finished work. Of course, ‘finished’ might be a kind word for their respective projects. For while the reeds were certainly malleable, the girls were prone to snapping them in twain while trying to bend them into place, setting their work back by precious minute after minute as they sat on the stone benches near the newly furbished fire pit. In the end, Cici has little more than a bowl, Katie not far behind after having to utterly scrap her first project. Meanwhile, Hannah managed half of a basket, but had immense difficulty actually putting the finishing touches on it so that her weave would not later come undone.

Still, by then the midday sun has already begun making its way toward the horizon, and the girls know it is time to go, insisting that they don’t need an escort on their way back to town.

> Write-in
OH! Tell uncle lee of his haunted armor too!
don't let the girls go alone, at least have vivi fly over them?
Say thank you to Uncle Yesh, and see your friends off.

And maybe ask Uncle Lee about his Manticore friend!
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“Wait!” Cici objects as the girls begin leaving to gather up their things. “Vivi an’ I should go with you!”

“Are you sure?” Hannah asks. “You’re still feeling sick…”

But Cici’s mind is already made up. She could nurse her headache later.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s just a little way down the road, anyway. Also, thank you, Uncle Yesh!”

“You’re welcome, dear, but please be careful. The last thing we want is your condition getting worse.”

“It’s fine,” Vivi chimes in, walking out of the tower with a yawn. “Worst case scenario, I fly her back here.”

“And then I can nurse both of you back to health…” Yesh sighs. “I told you. Your wing is not fully repaired yet.”

“What are you talkin’ about? It’s fine. It’s- EEEP!”

The harpy nearly keels over as with a single finger, Yesh prods her shoulder.

“That does not seem entirely well to me,” Yesh states calmly. “If you weren’t fit to gnaw through your own cast if left to your own devices, you’d still be bed-ridden. Don’t make me reconsider.”

“Bleh!” Vivi’s makes a sour face, tongue extended as she wraps a wing around Cici and begins leading her flock back toward the farm, though Cici can’t help but notice her other wing shake slightly as they walk.

“Are you going to be alright?” Cici asks.

“Y-yeah… Just a little sore still. Your Uncle just had to go and be a jerk!”

“Alright,” Katy says, counting on her fingers. “So, your Grampa is a wizard. Your dad was a wizard. Your Mama is a snake. One of your uncles is a lizard person and the other is-“

“A skeleton.”

“R-right, a skeleton,” Katy adds. “How in the heck are they all related to you anyway?”

“Huh?” Cici questions.

“You know, ‘aunt’, ‘uncle’, typically those are your mom and dad’s brothers and sisters. Does that mean you’re some kind of lizard person?”

“Umm, I don’t know….” Cici admits, “but I always called Uncle Yesh uncle since I was real little. So, I just call everybody uncle or auntie who’s a part of the family.”
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“Does that mean I get to be Aunt Katy?” Katy probes.

“Or I get to be Aunt Vivi?” the harpy adds.

“Nope, you’re just Katy and Vivi,” Cici affirms.

“But I’m way older than you,” Vivi objects, fanning a wing over Cici’s head, “and way taller!”

“You’re not that much taller!” Cici complains.

“Am too!”

“Are not!”

“Am too!”


The exchange continues down the road for quite some time, neither side yielding ground until they finally catch something more interesting to discuss, more interesting in this case being a mother dog leading her clumsy, loose skinned retinue across the road and into the opposite field, the smallest carried in her teeth as the others struggle to keep pace with their long-legged mother on what to them must seem like a tremendous journey.

They naturally cede the road to the procession as long as they can, no one in a particular rush to close the distance toward the barn already clearly visible in the distance. Even once the road is clear, they spend a bit of time leisurely strolling toward the gate, talking about everything and nothing in particular until Katy’s grandmother comes out to greet them.

“Well, guess this is goodbye,” Cici says glumly.

“For now,” Katy corrects with a smile. “I still wanna learn how to deck somebody from your uncle, right?”

“And it’s not like we have much else to do,” Hannah adds.

[“Was there anything we needed to tell them, or do before we get back?”]

> Write-in
Nah, things should be okay.
Maybe tell them that a bath a day is still good, and remember to clean behind their ears.

Remember that when you get home, you still need to practice your reading and writing.
Tell them that you had a great time with them last night, and that they're welcome to come over again to play if their parents give them permission. Don't forget to say thank you to Katy's grandmother if you see her.
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“Come back soon, then,” Cici says with a smile. “It was lots of fun… Also, thanks for letting them come over, Ms. Agatha.”

“Well, you’re welcome, hon,” the old lady greets as she finally gets within earshot. “See you even got ‘em a dip in a tub while you were out.”


“They have a heated bath the size of a swimming pool!” Katy explains excitedly. “It’s huge!”

“Hehe. Well, might have to check it out myself one of these days. These bones could do with a hot soak that ain’t in a barrel.”

“Oh right,” Cici says. “The voices said to remind you two that baths are important, and that you should scrub behind your ears every day.”

“I just about have to chase the little one here with a damp rag to knock the dirt off,” the old lady sighs. “Guess her folks are more scared of her catching a cold than a herd of dust mites.”

“But grandma…”

“No butts, little missy! Save it fer the winter months! Anyhow, thanks for bringing ‘em back, safe and sound. Can offer you some cookies for the road, if you want, but otherwise, I reckon I’ll need to get ‘em back to town and their own parents.”

A few more pleasantries and a napkin full of chocolate chip cookies, there were worse ways to part with people as Vivi and Cici wander down the road spilling crumbs for hungry birds and ants.

“Are you going back to work tomorrow?” Cici finally thinks to ask as the copse that hid the graveyard comes into sight.

“Probably,” Vivi confirms. “The post never rests. Rain, sleet, and snow, and all that… Why? Was there something you wanted to do tomorrow?”

“Uh-uh. Just… it’s kind of lonely with no one around.”

“Well, you always have your mom, and your uncles.”

“I know… It’s just… It’s different somehow…”

“We’ll find time, squirt. Don’t you worry,” Vivi promises. “And those girls will be back around before you know it.”

“I hope so…”
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A warm fire blazing in a brick and mortar chimney, that’s the new and unfamiliar sight that Cici comes home to, the elderly wizard apparently all too pleased with his latest accomplishment, not to mention the doors he’d hung on the main entryway as he excitedly welcomes the girls into their new and improved sanctuary. Still, despite his jovial greeting, it seems he’s quite preoccupied at the moment, he, Uncle Lee, and Mama collectively pouring over pages of documents while discussing things not really meant for children.

Land titles, taxes, sovereignty, just listening in for a moment gives Cici a dozen new words to look up in her dictionary later on, and so she opts instead to go to the desk that now housed her books and begin practicing her writing, slowly reading through the drills that Mama had written for her as she goes and sounding out the words. The resulting mangle of scribbles that usually results from this has been steadily improving, thankfully, though the art of holding a pen just so was still well beyond her. However, it also says something that by the time she finishes, the adults are still discussing things.

[“I should tell Uncle Lee about his armor, but he seems busy right now. What should we do?”]

> Write-in
Eh, he'll likely have figured out some of the basics by now. Maybe you should check in on Din-Din, and Okuu.

I'll get writing in a minute. Just need food.
I'll second this. Din-Din is probably still grumpy from the injury and the bath, so maybe do something to make him feel better?
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Come to think of it, where was Okku right now, or Din-Din for that matter? Neither had been around earlier when Uncle Yesh was teaching the girls how to weave, and Din-Din usually showed back up when he knew the coast was clear.


Back in her room, Vivi was already sound asleep, the responsible harpy already preparing for the early morning ahead of her. However, the tell-tale bulge of a hiding rabbit amongst the covers was nowhere to be seen. A brief check in his hutch, the rooftop garden, and a couple of calls out into the surrounding forest yield similar results. That really only left one place…

More than once or twice, Okku and Din-Din had wandered further down into the empty cellar rooms, scratching or hopping around respectively as the skeletons continued with their daily drudgery of excavation. So it is that Cici finders herself wandering down, down into the earth, the sunlight breaking through the bathroom window soon left behind as she follows the tremendous spiral ramp down past a half-dozen echoing, empty rooms. Unfortunately, there is still no hide nor hair of the beasts she’s seeking.

However, just as she’s preparing to leave, a sound catches her ear from somewhere down below, the puffing breath and clattering claws of something making its way rapidly upward. It might be Okku, is her first thought, or Din-Din, but as she begins considering the other things that had lived here before, Cici’s blood goes cold. What should she do?

> Write-in
Let's stick around.
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With little in the way of head voices to guide her, Cici takes the middle road between flight and fight, just standing there with goosebumps rising as the form grows closer, the echoing of its movements and voice seeming to magnify and distort everything in the all-too-quiet basement. Seconds tick by as she wades through the tension, her hair no doubt fit to stand on end were it not for the fact that each individual strand was presently still asleep.

“It’s just Okku…” Cici reminds herself. “It’s just Ok-ku!?”

As the form rounds another bend, a light begins to filter round, a ghostly radiance gaining quickly as a strange shadow dances along the cobblestones. A scream catches in Cici’s throat, her knees shaking as she stumbles backward and falls trying to get away. It is at this point that her tormentor finally reveals itself in all its twisted horror.

Round ears and short brown fur, the cub reveals itself, the former twitching curiously as it trots up and begins nuzzling at Cici’s face, a strange globe wedged in its maw. A second look reveals that Din-Din isn’t far behind, the rabbit hopping along at his own pace before planting himself down on the other side of her.

“You scared me!” Cici complains as she regains her composure, scratching each of her companions on the head as she makes her way back up to her feet. “And what’s this?”

Cici reaches for the strange device, but Okku seems more in the mood to play, happily bouncing away and back down the ramp, tiny nub tail wiggling behind him as he dares her to steal away his prize.

[“Umm, should we chase him?”]

> Write-in
We might as well chase him a bit.
It'll do Okku some good to get some exercise.
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“Alright, alright,” Cici capitulates, stooping down closer to Okku’s eye level and accepting the challenge, much to the cub’s delight.

And so begins the battle of wits, Cici dodging side to side, rolling, and lunging at the nimble fuzzball with all the alacrity she can manage with her still persistent exhaustion. Unfortunately for her, Okku is in peak form, outpacing and outplaying her at every turn, even running between her legs a couple of times and leaving her awkwardly stumbling.

Not one to be cowed, though, Cici doesn’t give up. She simply redoubles her efforts to catch the bouncy bear and rest whatever treasure he’s hiding. At least it looks too big to swallow, she thinks as the glint of metal flashes in the low light, but where would he even have gotten something like that?

Whatever the answer, Cici was about to find out, as with a nimble pounce, her feet leave the ground and she catches Okku by the rump, flattening them both to the floor and sending the ball clattering away down the hall with the heavy grating sound of stone on metal. Thus begins a new race between the two combatants to be the first to retrieve the prize, Okku gaining speed faster than Cici, but still coming up short as the ball makes a move of its own, lunging out of Okku’s way before taking to the air with a buzz and whir, still ball shaped, but now hovering in the air as it quickly flees its would-be captors further down into the dark.

> Write-in
Uh oh, a magical artifact?
I think this calls for some adult supervision.
I think this is important enough for you to get Uncle Lee and Grandpa Brad, and get some rest yourself.
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Cici nods at the sage advice. Mama said that if she ever saw anything weird, she should come back and tell her first, and as things stood, she was probably already much further down than she should be. With that in mind, she calls Okku to her side, picks up Din-Din, and begins making her way back up. The adults are still much as she left them, of course.

“You could always sell the tower you know,” Uncle Lee mentions. “Find someplace a tad less macabre with the proceeds. I’ve heard the coast is nice this time of year.”

“Mama…” Cici calls softly, trying not to let that bowl her over.

“What is it, sweetling?”

“There was a thing down in the basement…”

Immediately, the lot of them stop, all eyes turned to the girl and her fluffy cadre.

“What sort of thing?” Mama probes.

“Well, Okku was playin’ with a ball, an’ it was all shiny an’ metal. I tried to grab it from him, but then it flew away!”

“A mechane?” the old man questions, eyebrows raised. “Here of all places?”

“Well, not that out of place when you consider the hired help,” Lee points out.

“Bah, and I’ve been meaning to talk about that as well. It’s high time we laid those bodies to rest and gave the townsfolk some peace, don’t you think?”

“That may have to be a discussion for another time,” Mama insists. “Now, Cici, could you show us where this happened?”

With a nod, the small girl is swiftly on her way back down, Mama slithering ahead of her as they get further and further down as her eyes shine in the dark.

“I think it was here, Mama,” Cici finally affirms, looking around and spying three distinctively missing bricks on the wall. “It flew further down from here.”

“Lee, you watch Cici. I’m going further in.”

And like that, Mama is gone, her tail lashing behind her like a whip as she disappears into the dark. Long moments pass thereafter as they wait for her return, the quiet almost smothering before she once again slithers out into the light of Grampa Wizard’s torch.

“Nothing but collapsed tunnels,” she says. “Though I doubt what Cici saw was nothing.”

“Hmm… And here I was hoping to get home soon,” Brad sighs. “Though perhaps a simple barrier would suffice for the moment.”

“Somewhat of a rude hello,” Uncle Lee comments.

“But for an uninvited guest, I’d imagine we should hardly roll out the welcome mat.”

The adults continue debating their course of action as Cici sits there. What to do?

> Write-in
Hard to say, kid. Stuff like this is part of the adult world.

My advice? sit tight and wait. If something that needs your help happens, jump in.
Yeah, this one you might want to leave for the adults. I don't quite know what you might be able to contribute besides any further information you might have.
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“It didn’t seem bad,” Cici comments weakly, maybe feeling a little sad for something smaller than herself having so many people against it. “Just kinda scared cuz Okku was tryin’ to eat it.”

“Be that as it may-“ Grampa starts, but Lee cuts in.

“How about this for a compromise: we build a wall, but leave a door? They can knock if they’ve the mind at a later time, and at that point, we can try to become acquainted as neighbors. It’s not like this family is scraping for cellar space at this point, anyway.

“And as for the wandering not-quite undead, you may be right. A proper burial is likely more in line with the wishes of the deceased than round-the-clock excavation duty. Just, I’d prefer to keep the book intact, if you don’t mind. Lord knows I’m a bit too chatty for a stiff.” *Rattle-Rattle*

“Bah!” the old man, huffs, motioning for everyone to get back before with a great, irritated sweep of his arms, a solid slab of stone comes flying from the outside wall and cuts off everything below. With another series of motions, his hand then cuts like a knife through the air, a door taking shape, runes and etchings not long behind as the hum of magic pulses through the air. “We might as well sleep peacefully for an evening before rushing to action…”

“For my part, I suppose I’ve some fresh graves to dig…”

“Come along now, sweetling. It’s time for bed,” Mama coaxes, and completely dizzy, Cici just follows the current.

Moving, scary things down below, and the adults casually talking about burying what until recently had been her only friends, it made her stomach turn in weird ways as she considered all of the changes going on in her life lately, or changes that might soon be happening. She just can’t find the words to express it as Mama nudges her along.

> Write-in
Now tell Lee of the armor>!
I agree with dQc, tell Uncle Lee about the armor. Even if he knows, it is oftentimes good to be reminded.
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A diversion from all of this would be nice, something to distract her from the wet feeling building in her eyes.

“Mama,” Cici says, gently pulling away. “I need to tell Uncle Lee somethin’ before bed. Is that okay?”

“Of course, sweetling, but… are you alright?”

“Mhm,” Cici fibs, but before Mama can question her anymore she’s out the door and into the night, chasing her uncle and his shovel already gleaming in the moonlight.

“Uncle Lee!” Cici calls after his marching shadow, trying her best not to stumble in the uneven remains of crumbled graves. “Uncle Lee!”

“Come now, my miniature maiden, it’s nearly past midnight now, isn’t it?” Uncle Lee questions her as she continues to chase after his heels. “And last I heard, you had quite the headache to sleep off.”

“I-I’m fine…” Cici murmurs, her conviction decidedly fading as a chill, evening wind comes bowling through.

“Fine is such a finicky word, dear,” he comments offhandedly, continuing his idle stroll out into the dark. “Honestly, I’d understand if you were feeling a bit overwhelmed considering everything that’s been going on,”

With a snap of his armored fingers, a spectral flame springs into being close to Cici’s chest, the small flicker of gold sending what feels like real warmth back into her bones.

“M-maybe I am… but the voices asked me to talk to you first… to tell you that your armor has voices too. They said it was important…”

“Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t,” Lee sighs. “Can’t say I’m not interested to find out one way or the other, but right now, I’m a little more concerned about you. You’ve been looking pale as a ghost and lost as a blind kitten for most of the day and, well-“

He gives his gauntlet a few brief tugs and dislodges it, placing it down on a stump and motioning for Cici to sit herself down.

“How about we let them have a chat while you and I have a chat, hm?” he questions.

A simple nod is about all Cici can manage at this point, a lump building in her throat as she idly grabs the gauntlet in one hand, connecting the voices to the channel on the other side and begins to speak in a world that seems so distant now.

You are connected.

> Write-in
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A pretty slow day today, but oh well. We can pick back up again tomorrow. Look forward to it.
*meta observation* Holy bananas, that is adorable!

As for the armor: Hello and salutations! What have you been up to?
Hello there! Yes, yes, he's yours. We have no intention of usurping your position.
Just curious what's been going on.

Hi! Have you meet a singing sword yet? They were popular some time ago. Until a troll wizard that was tone deaf made one and... let's just say the end involves a mob and an angry dragon.
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The voices speak and the void around them answers, chattering in a thousand whispers all struggling to be heard in a mental expanse far larger than anything the ones in the bracer have yet experienced.

"̹I̢̮̜̻̬t͉̣'̳̺͍̞̜͔̗̕s̭͙ ̻̯̳̠͙t̙͖͕͎h̼͚͉e҉m̢̝̠̱̻̫ͅ ̪͚͙͓̮͘a͓̪g̀a͔̙̹͝i̬͓̲͉̳͉͙n̠̹̗͞.͈ I̛͙͕s i͍̼̳͇̹̹t̥̗̱̲̼̘̖͜ ͖̦t̪̭̀h̹̭̀e̖m?̢̥͚̩̭ ͇̻̼͔ͅY̲̯̦ͅo҉u̵̖̺͔̖̗̻ ̱̭̟s̮̰̙h̹̥̖̳̲o̟u̱̻͓̭̹͚̦l̗̲̙̜̯̩̕d̰͈̘̝̩̲n̦'̧̙̙͓̮t̲̜͖̗͎̘̗͟ ̡̮̦̺̥̳̪ͅh̝̞̝̠̤̳͖a̷̙͓͔̼̬͎̪v͎̘͚̩̳͕e̤̰̠̖ͅͅ ̢̺̟s̬a͕̞̳̦̘͈i̻̖̪̙̱͘d͏̰͖͚̜̱ an͈͍̖͟y͏̦̠̤̱͇ͅt͈̬͖̗̳̩h͇̤i̱̻̰̥͚n̸̳̯͕͚g͍̩͞!̵͚̘̞̥ ͉̮͈̘̪B҉͉̣u͙̱̳͇̩͇͜t̗̣̙͕̭̖̝ ̘͡d͍̖͠i̧d̗̞̭̻̭͎ṇ̺͔̥'̫̮t҉ ͈͉̯̟̯͞w̵̝̮͇̤e a͔̮͖̭̼̰͙͢l̶̳̰͉͇̣̱̬l̸̥̯͙̤ͅ ͘ś͙̟̪͔̥̘ͅa͔y͚ ҉͖̳͉̞̦͕̹į̖t̛̗?̴̘̬̼͈
͙̺̬̕N̥o̶͈͚̙̜͕͇͚, ̯͎͇͚̰̠̠í̫͉̹͕̲t̴͚̭̬͙ ̠w̝̘̰̞a̻̗̥̞̤͡ͅş̮̱̰̼̹ ̀t̳̭h̡̠̫̪̗̯͈̬ḙ͓͈͔̘̱̮m.͕̦͈͔͕̯̗ ͔̞̖̹͙̺̳B̘̦̹ͅu͇̞̫͜t̩̣͜ ̦͈̮͍t̻̗̪̪̬̖h͢ę̜͕͙m̺̬̯͕̜̤ ͏͇͍͓̳̣̥i̹̘̩̜s͔͇ ̠̦m͇̠̩͎̳̰͡e̥͈̕.͓̺ ̫̹̰̞͙͓͓T̖̻̣͡h̥͓̱e̤n̳̪̯͙̜̪̳ ̝̯̝a͠r̳̦͜e̞͍̲̮ͅ ҉͚̜̗͖̱̬ý̞̮̙̼͈͚̟o̞͕̲͕u̺̞͙ ̧͎̣̳̳͔t̝̯̜ḩ̲͖̥͕̙͔em̪?̬̯͙̳ ͎̲̩̹N̛̗͇̖͈̟͓o̪̱͚̱̫̯͠ ̴̺̦̺͕̙͙I̲͚̘ am̭̜͓͙̤͖͠ ̣͇̖̤͢t̸̘̣̫̩̣h̬͎̕e͔̥̤̮͖͜ ̢͍t̲̜̭͚̕h̞̥̲͍̥͖̜͜ḙ͖͙ͅm̩̲̺̪̯̬̀ ͉͎͉͚w͓ḥ͞o̼̤̳̫͚ ̧̰̝̫̝̩i̠̮s̭̭̱ ͍̻̭͢m͍̻̻̯͖̙͞e̜͇̮͉̯͜.̕"̘͓͎̕͜


As it all reaches a fever pitch, a maddening crescendo, a single voice forged of many takes precedence from the masses, its unnatural timber tempered with a trace of almost aristocratic composure as it assumes control of the void.

“T̼̙̻h̩͜ę̤̭̘y̡͕ h̺̮a̦͓̲̖̻̯͢v̼͚͜e ̴̤͇̻̩̪̜m҉a̪͍̼̗̙̳n̵͈͉͕̗̫ͅy҉̮ ̧̙̝̜̫̼̳͇q̵̠̘ue̯̞̗͔̰st҉̥̮̹̥͇̬̜i͈ò͇̮̬̺̩ͅn̤̗͍̫̲̗s͈̤̻͉̻̠̳,̢̹̝ ̨̙͈̫̬ͅa̵̪̪̝n̹̳͇̖͇̹͟d̥͎ ̩̖̠w̱͙͙e͠ ̱̤̪͇h̪̥̱͉ạv̟̪̪͢e̟͔̟ ̛̱͙̣̜̩̙l̫̘̻̼̻͓̤͜i̵̜͍t̟̝̩͕͟ț̜͝l̠̝̳̺e͓ ͜t̴̼̤i̬͉̜ͅͅm̼̖e̸̞̻̥.̢”
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“So speak,” the voice comes clearer as a singular figure, an empty suit of armor walking upright, materializes from the void. “Speak and we shall answer as best as we are able.”

T̪̰̫́h̬͚̜͈͜ͅo̯͉͖͓̻͕u̺̤̦͡g͇̳̩̺̭̪͜ͅḩ̫ ̲̖̠̦͝ͅt̳̯̺̥̤̗h̲̙̬̱̣ͅe̸̪̳r̞̳̭̞̱̦̺e̹̝͉ͅ ͚̩̤̬̣̩is̯̙ ̛̤̺̜̫̪̖m̢͍̼̺̦̘͈u̗͉̘c̕h̤̫̩͖ ͇̖̼̩͕̺́w̥͉̝͖̘͡e҉̩͖̼̫ͅ ̫̮̠̰d̨̳͔o͕̼͡ ̥̞̭͚͡n͈̞̘̣̯͠ͅo̸͖͍̱̼̭͔ṭ̥͙̳̫̰ ̴͈̲͍͎k̜̮̦͔͎n̤̩̘͇͢o̗̹͓̬͙̩͘ẁ.̮̱ ̸͎̥̭̰A͎̘̣̞͔ ̴͓̤̖̜̥͉ͅm̯̘a͏͓gi̹̹c̪͈̠̙ ̫͇̼͕͡sẃ̝o̞̙͇͍̺r̬̻͓͕̣d̜̞͉̙͙?̱͙͍̙̰́

> Write-in
Seeing as you protect our charge's uncle, can you tell us how he can use your abilities better?
Do you remember who and how you were forged an came to be left here? Or what this place was?
All we know is that we are a Dwarven artifact.
Are we a set? If the one who wears you happened to wear us and wield this sword you speak of, would there be something that changes? Do you know what you, what we, are?
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“We help him as best as we are able,” the armor assures you, “though that may be a more generous term than is rightly deserved, given the circumstances. After all, there is no ‘we’ really, not anymore, and with it no great wellspring of power that we might gift to him in order to ease his burdens.”

He holds a steadying hand as the voices begin to murmur again.

“Perhaps some history will shed light on the matter. You see, nearly two decades past, I was not as you see me now. Rather, I walked of my own accord, an armored revenant driven by an oath of protection. Why I was there, what it was that I sought to protect or even for how long I had stood watch, I swore these things to forgetfulness when I took my charge, but there came a day when I was challenged by a particular man.

“In my time, I had seen challengers of all manner, of course: necromancers, warlock kings, monstrosities and cut throats. Yet, there on that day there came a dandy, a bard sashaying into my holds imperiously leading a retinue behind him.”

Out of the materium of the void, the scene is conjured, an armored beast trailing smoke in its wake squaring off against a team of heroes in the same way a tiger squares off against a burrow of rabbits, brutally and efficiently.

“However, my mission remained. They could not be allowed to pass, and it seemed that that would be no trying task. Yet, as I beat them black and bloodied, the bard began to see things, the forms of the heroes past that had left themselves in my motions, calling them by name and province, listing their great deeds in turn. And no matter how severely I beat him to silence that incessantly flapping mouth, the litany continued.

“Perhaps it was that he was the first person to ever ask my purpose there. Perhaps it was simply that the gods had decreed him too much of a fool to die, but my final blow that would have severed his neck fell short, and instead of slaying him, we ended up talking for a good, long while: of new kings and summer rains, of peace treaties and good harvests. He spoke of a new day that came beyond the wars that had claimed every hero who had ever worn this shell to protect them. He also spoke of the kindness of men, of the seeds of a new future continually sewn, and then finally he spoke of rest for the weary and of those who yet lived who would carry the burden in their stead…
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“It was a lie of course,” the metallic voice sighs. “A beautiful lie spoken with a heart steadied by a profound and earnest belief in its sincerity, but a lie nonetheless. And it crumbled away to dust, just like the tower, as the man who had sworn to carry my burden onward was crushed beneath a mountain.

“And I could do nothing to stop it. The spirits had already fled to their rest, only feeling his passing as his spirit wandered to the other side moments after them. I only had the prescience left to open the door before the last of my power was spent.

“And now, here he stands, a revenant himself, a wandering spirit trying to put all of the wrong in the world back to rights, not realizing the impossibility of it all. And here we stand on the other side, effectively deaf and mute to his situation.”

“Now as for if we form a set, would you truly abandon the child who wears you, even if it were so?”

> Write-in
No. Simple as that.
We simply wish to know. For She may be your inheritor. If we can do anything to help her, we will. She has the potential to offer this world so much, and is simply a symbol of harmony by birth.
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“There is no doubt that you could be of use to this one further down on the roads he’ll walk, but somehow I believe he will make it through one way or the other. At the very least, he’ll go out putting up one hell of a fight.

“The child, meanwhile, may never see a battle field, but if she should come into trouble, far better she have you at her call than her uncle hundreds of miles away. Trust me when I say that you have more power than you know, should you simply find a way to harness it.

“I say this because while we may have been made with different hands in different places and different times, we share a common spirit, and when many voices act in unison, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. Now, if you’ve anything more to ask, ask it now. Our time is growing short.”

> Write-in
I have nothing left to say but my thanks.
Thank you for your input. How might we harness said power? Have you any input as to how best to guide our young charge?
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“Practice and achieve unity,” it says simply. “The rest will follow, and where the child is concerned, apply a gentle hand and never lose sight of the little girl she is in the here and now. For now, however, farewell.”

And like that the world begins to crumble around it, darkness breaking away into light as the combined consciousness separate and return to the nighttime world without, one where apparently Cici has begun crying in your absence.

“There, there dear…”

To his credit, Uncle Lee is doing his best, gently patting the back of her hand with his skeletal fingers as he stoops there close to the ground.

“I promise that everything will be alright. Your mother isn’t going anywhere that will move you away from your new friends, and your grandfather won’t be blasting anything down in the basement without good reason. Everyone will be okay. Everyone will be alright. It’s just… well, it may be time to say goodbye to the skeleton crew, as it were. They’re dead tired, I’m certain, and could do with a bit of rest.”


Trying to smile just makes it hurt more as Cici tries to accept the reality that tomorrow her longest held companions were going to be buried six feet under the ground. Of course, some part of her knows that it’s silly to be sentimental about it all, another understands why it has to be done, but like a well-worn and well-loved teddy bear, these piles of bones had always been with her. She’d helped them dig their tunnels when Mama wasn’t looking, told them all her secrets she couldn’t trust with anyone else, even helped drag them to the altar to be repaired when they broke down or ‘Splodey, well…

And now they would be gone, forever. Somehow it all just felt wrong, and Uncle Lee’s deadpan jokes just made the knot in her stomach feel worse by the minute.

> Write-in
I know it hurts to part with dear friends, Cici. And there's not much we can say to make it any easier.
If the book needs more hands to dig out the lower levels, I'm sure that everyone will be back up and digging.
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[“Uncle Lee’s gonna take the book.”]

Cici sniffles, wiping her eyes as Uncle Lee picks her up and begins walking back toward the house. Her head hurt, her eyes hurt, and she knew that tomorrow wasn’t going to be any easier. She’s just glad Mama is already asleep as Uncle Lee tucks her in and wishes her good dreams.

Incredulous as to whether those words will really prove true, sleep is all too quick to come upon Cici’s tired mind and body. No sooner has the door to her room been closed, in fact, than her eyes are already feeling heavy, the shadows bending in peculiar ways as her concentration fades. If only her feelings would do the same as she tucks herself into Vivi’s wing, the last thing she knows aside from a warm, fuzzy bundle crawling into her arms.


The morning comes and goes, but Cici’s eyes remain shut as her fatigue finally claims its due. Perhaps, it’s for the best, really, that by the time she wakes, the adults have likely long-since honored and buried the dead. She has no way of knowing for certain one way or the other, of course, but neither does she make any move to check as the seconds tick by. Something peculiar for her, she just lies in the otherwise empty bed and stares at the ceiling.

> Write-in
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Are your hair-snakes still sleeping, Cici?
Maybe you should take a dip in the bath to get warmed up and your blood moving.
I would taking some time to relax in the bath Cici.
Is dat some Fauxley?
Best get up and get moving. Maybe some calisthenics followed by a bath. Get the blood moving.
Aw yeah, it sure is!
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“Okay…” Cici groans aloud, starting to budge from her bed before remembering the furry lump presently snoozing on top of her.

She takes a moment to set Din-Din down in the covers before righting herself to a sitting position, straining slightly as the headache from yesterday tries to make itself known, though thankfully with a far lesser intensity from the day before. Honestly, her body feels relatively fine, just not her heart.

Still, maybe a hot bath ‘would’ help, and so without much fanfare, Cici makes her way out of her room and across her home, everything silent, neat, and tucked away. Maybe the adults were outside talking, she thinks. Whatever the case, Cici is not exactly in the mood to find them, instead shuffling over to the bath area and disrobing.

Her hair perks up a bit at the warm vapors even before she dips in, a few pitiful tongue flicks going out as the groggy snakes try to right themselves properly. Still, it’s an immense improvement from yesterday, and Cici isn’t beyond appreciating that as she submerges herself in the warm water and feels the tension in her muscles ease.

Truly, heated baths were beyond nice, but also prone to teasing an empty stomach. And as Cici’s begins to groan and grumble beneath the water, she decides not to take long in scrubbing herself down, taking a moment or two to fully submerge her head to try to get the blood once again flowing in her head while quickly attending to the grime and dirt of yesterday.

Thus, with slightly more alert head snakes, Cici makes her way back to the common area and out of the front doors, still not an adult to be seen. This remains true until she finally reaches the rooftop garden. However, instead of her mother, it is Uncle Yesh waiting there, the small lizard idly picking berries and roots as he gnaws on a turnip.

“Goodmorning, Cici,” he greets in that warm, drone-like voice of his. “And how are you feeling this morning?”

“Tired…” she answers candidly, “An’ kinda sad…”

“Well, there’s something I would like to show you that may help with your spirits. However, first, it’s important that you eat. It’s healthy for a developing body.”
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Cici isn’t really sure what he means, but she isn’t one to deny the urge to eat when hungry. What’s more, as the vegetables, bread, and fruit work their magic, a little bit of the discomfort in her heart eases as well.

It’s only after she is well and truly done that Yesh motions for her to follow, taking measured steps down the stairs before wandering off into the yard, taking the same route Uncle Lee had last night when digging the graves. Hesitantly, Cici follows, and sure enough, there on the hill where pits had been before is a long row of small rocks, each carved with a name and epitaph with a second line not far below.

The first reads: [“Here lies Gordon Mules, born of the Shires of Munsford.”]

And below: [“And his skeleton, ‘Splodey. Both will be missed.”]

“I don’t understand,” Cici says. “Who was Gordon? Or how do you know it was his skeleton?”

“Well, that would be because I asked him,” Yesh answers, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. “I made it my business when using the bones of the deceased in this tower to ask their spirit’s permission. After all, each and every one of them were once among the living. Each and every one once had a family. Perhaps that’s why they were willing to help us build this house for you and your mother.”


“I know you cared for them in your own way,” he sympathizes, surveying the graves with reverence, “but the time had come for them to rest, to allow the last remnants of their connections with this physical world to finally be stowed away.”

“I just- I d-didn’t wanna be alone…” Cici admits shakily.

“We all fear to be alone in our own way,” Yesh notes. “It’s a fear that lives in the heart of all living things, but we can’t allow it to blind us from all of the connections yet to be made. After all, you have Hannah and Katy now and a mass of disembodied voices besides, not to mention a town full of people waiting just beyond these woods. You have people and spirits who will be there for you when you need them with words of comfort, smiles, or tears of joy. You are far from alone now, dear, and you never will be so long as you keep your eyes open and never stop connecting with new people.

“Weep softly for the dead, dear, for their pain is at an end and their service is done.”
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And I think that's about all I've got in me for this week, folks. Hope you had fun and that your holiday season is soon to be off to a good start. The quest is up in the archive, also, so feel free to catch up, vote it up, whenever you have the time.
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See you next time, bananon!
Thanks for running.
I sure miss Fauxley quest.
Thanks, bananon! See you next time

Cici, you can't change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust the sails to always reach your destination. Or by using magic, you can create your own wind that blows the way you want to. But even then the real wind will still do as it wants. I know it hurts, but as long as you don't lock your heart away and pay attention to others, you will never be alone.

You have a great future Cici, you could end as a Seer who guides people, you could become the greatest Mage of your generation or you could just be the best Baker on the island. Is up to you. Distrust fools and gods talking about destiny because in the end, the only destiny is the one you make for yourself.

And dear child, is in times like this that I wish I had hands so I could hug you. That I had a warm body so you could hug it and calm hearing my heartbeat. That I could pat your head and give you candy and tell you everything will be okay.

But you have your mother, family and friends to do that, right?

Don't let our hate be yours, we are spirits that are not truly gone and so we aren't at peace. That's why your skeleton friends had to rest, to finally be at peace. Because the dead should stay dead and because Lady Death hates the trickery of stealing people from her.

You are still hurt, go with your mother and give it a hug, play with your pets, enjoy the rest of the day and don't worry about things you have no control over.

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