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File: drowned quest 5.jpg (126 KB, 564x846)
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Your doppelgänger stands above you and steadfastly refuses to meet your eyes. You're very hot.

"Um," you say. "It's not... it's not your fault, I guess. You didn't ask for this. Neither did I, but... yeah."

"Yeah." He tugs at his collar and continues to look anywhere else.

"So... we're good?"

His mouth curves up, but it's not a smile. "Up to you, isn't it? Nothing I can do."


"Right, then. Up you go."

You automatically take his proffered hand. It's ice against yours, or maybe yours is fire against his; you can't tell. (You're very hot.) He retains the smile-like on his face as he hefts you to your feet.

He also retains his grip on your arm, and once you stand he gives it a squeeze.

You look, and you're able to name every emotion that flickers across his eyes as you do. Fear, mostly; base feral fear badly, barely tempered by last scraps of vim and anger.

"Um," you say, and falter. How long has it been since you've looked like that? Ever? Looking at him like this gives you an unpleasant feeling in your stomach, but you're drawn in anyways. You dance in his eyes. You swim in his eyes. You desperately want to be that raw and unfettered and and and...

>|Mind: 75/100|

He closes his eyes, and when he opens them they're sad. He squeezes your hand again. "I'm sorry, Ellery," he says, and actually moves his mouth to the words.

And he's gone, and you're left cooler and wholer and with a lot of emotions you don't particularly want to deal with. You retract your outstretched hand and stuff it into a jacket pocket, massive hole at the bottom be damned. If the intended effect was to make you feel bad, you consider it a success.

You become acutely aware of the idea that you've been standing here for quite a while, and walking in circles for quite a while before that. The water is dusky.
>[1] You should probably get back before anyone notices. You can't see Lorne's house, but it's got to be around here somewhere. Right?
>[2] It might be best to walk off whatever that was first.
>[3] Actually, while you're out here, you want to... [write-in!]
>Previously on: Drowned Quest

You and your new acquaintance Lorne (transformed respectively into a crab-thing and a fish-thing) encountered an injured woman, whom you reunited with her companions. The man you brought her to recognized you as not-actually-a-crab-thing and, when you refused to prove it, promised to hunt you down.

You returned with Lorne and your kill and painfully turned back into a person. You spent the next few days on bedrest, with occasional interruptions from dreams or Lorne and Arledge asking you to trust them/not trust each other. You avoided any responsibility.

Unable to sleep, you're currently on a walk. A sun you summoned in your head has lodged in your chest, and your double is not happy about this. You've talked him out of messing with it, though.


- Voting windows are 10-20 minutes. If only one vote comes in after ~20 minutes, I'll take it. If there's a tie, I'll roll for it.
- Unless it's a choice strictly between offered options (ex: loot, chargen), write-ins are always open and acceptable.
- I'll always take questions, comments, critiques, requests for infodumps, etc. etc.


On most occasions, you’ll be tasked to roll 3 d100s, potentially with modifiers. The number of times the 3 rolls collectively pass the DC indicates the result, as follows:
No Passes: Critical Failure
One Pass: Failure
Two Passes: Success
Three Passes: Critical Success

>Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=drowned%20quest

>Twitter: https://twitter.com/BathicQM

>Pastebins: https://pastebin.com/u/bathicqm
>[2] It might be best to walk off whatever that was first.
.. very weird indeed.

Now I feel bad for that asshole.
>post thread
>immediately and without warning get called away for a full 1.5 hours

Great start, guys!

File: kersey dighton.jpg (84 KB, 564x852)
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>Keep calm and carry on!

Shit. That was weird. You feel like you've thought that a lot, or if you haven't you ought've... but it wasn't really the same kind of weird, was it? Everything else you can write off as external weird. It's not your fault, basically. This was too personal.

(You wait a beat for the reply and are let down when none comes. It was a good-- there were a lot of good opportunities there, you think, like 'what did you expect' or something, you're not good at it ignore that)

It was too personal, and you're still kind of hot, and something (guilt? nervousness? the final fragment of whatever you felt...) roils uncomfortably in the base of your throat. You need to take a breather. Take more of a breather. Continue to breathe, but not literally or anything. You know.

You shove your other hand into your other pocket and ball it up just enough to avoid plunging through the hole in the bottom. A rock rests just by your foot. You kick it.

Your fit of pique launches the rock into a graceful parabola, and you're mildly impressed at your rock-kicking abilities. It sails up to nearly the height of your head and down again, and you eye the trajectory so you can rush over and resume kicking.

Halfway through its final descent, the unexpected happens: the rock ricochets off of nothing at all and bounces back towards you. You pick up your casual stride into a jog (ow. ow. ow) and pick it up.

Boy, that sure is a rock. Nice and grey and everything.

You set it back down and give it another kick. It bounces off in the same area.

Okay. Okay. This is good. This is the good weird, not the uncomfortable weird. Hell, maybe this is Lorne's house--

>Random Occurrence! whatever number it was I don't want to look I just wrote down what it was not the number

A hole opens itself in the nothing, backlit in yellow. A man pokes his head out of it.

The first thing you notice is how just how old he is. The second is his hair: thin and wild and white and sticking four inches out the sides of his head.

The third is his voice, which is shrill and drills itself so hard into your head that you can't tell if he's actually verbalizing it. "Young man," he cries with a fair edge of menace. "You have summoned Kersey Dighton! What shall you do with him?"

>[1] You shall do nothing! Sorry! Sorry! Bye!
>[2] You shall... apologize for kicking rocks at his house(??)!
>[3] You shall profess your great admiration for Kersey Dighton, for you have come here to, um, uh, ask for his.... aid, or something!
>[4] You shall be honest! Who the feck is this guy! Why is his head 7 feet in the air! Why didn't Lorne or Arledge inform you there was an old guy right here!
>[5] You shall do something not described in the above options!

"Didn't realize you were living in an invisible house bro my B. Still getting my sea eyes ya know?"
>You shall be honest!

You fish your hands out of your pockets and cross them behind your back, then below your waist, then finally let them hang at your sides.

"Uh," you try to say, but realize your lungs are just as solid as ever. No bubbles trickle out of your open mouth.

You switch to the little sign you know. "No..." Why don't you know 'sorry'? It's all you ever say. "...S-O-R-R-Y. No K-N-O-W you there. Goodbye..."

"Hee hee hee!" His laugh is just as piercing as his voice, which luckily has lost its edge. "Never learned that stuff. Kersey Dighton's an old dog, young man. Oh..."

He sticks his head out further, revealing a white collar and black bowtie, and squints down at you. "...Young men. Sincerest apologies."

You look to your left and right in bewilderment, but it's just you and grass and the head and shoulders of Kersey Dighton.

"Hee hee! You two ain't not much of talkers. Every day, folks come here for Kersey. Ooh!" He switches into a even higher-pitched voice. "'Help me! Tent's filled with cockaroaches!' 'Help me! My friend came outta the Hall in two halves!' 'Kersey Dighton, I don't know who I am!' Yadda yadda! You see? Now, quiet young men... they get my help!"

You shift uncomfortably. He doesn't seem to notice.

"Now, come in! It's wet out there!" Kersey Dighton outstretches an arm and points downwards, just in front of your face.

>[1] Oh, what the hell.
>[2] This is edging into uncomfortable weird. Leave!
>[3] Write-in.
Help? Boy do we need some of that.

Should you maybe stay away from profoundly strange things? Sure. Have you ever? Not really. You're not planning on breaking your streak.

You nod up at him, but he just continues to point. Fine. You step forward...

...into the same place you were, a foot ahead, and with a foot digging suddenly into your shoulder. Kersey Dighton stands on top of you.

"Oh dear," he cries, and steps backwards onto nothing. "Sincerest apologies. Here, stand here! Through the floor, young man, is never a good place to be! Follow your friend, will you?"

He perches on a cane and boggles down at you, and for the first time you notice his eyes: his eye, rather. One swivels around in its socket, while the other is still with a shine like polished stone. The color doesn't quite match.

Your hesitation earns a bonk on the head with the cane tip. "Don't dally, son."

Okay. There's a floor, you guess, by your shoulders. It doesn't matter that you can't see it or feel it. Just gotta...

>Roll me 3d100s-6 (-16 Clear Mind +10 Kersey Dighton Is Here To Help) vs. DC 35 to hoist yourself up onto nothing at all!
I'm gonna call it here, folks, because I haven't been getting a ton of sleep recently and catching up on that would likely help my update speed. Which is... not super great at the moment. Roll is open until I return.

Expect at least one update tomorrow (maybe a few but don't count on it) and a full session Friday. Weekend is up in the air still.

Thanks to my voter(s), as always, and have a good night!
Rolled 69 - 6 (1d100 - 6)

I always regret needing to sleep while you're still running myself.
Rolled 11 - 6 (1d100 - 6)

And like a dope I forgot to roll
Rolled 52 + 6 (1d100 + 6)

We should figure out what we're gonna do. We need a project or something. Before we fell, it was politics, trying to make things better. What are we gonna do now? Self- improvement is too confusing and hands-on.
There will be opportunities for politicking soon, should that be something you wish to do.

Don't sweat it; PST isn't super convenient for anybody not in it. I appreciate whatever support you give!

And... >Success.
Writing at some point today.
Right now we're still trying to get our bearings in this crazy new world.
Things got a little out of hand. Still running tomorrow, est. ~4 PM PST but I'll update on Twitter if it runs long.
Hahahaha. Just discovered there's a shitton of things I need to do, that I haven't done, and that are speeding towards me like a train with me tied to the tracks. Tomorrow, as much as I hate to say it, is suddenly looking sucky. Sorry.
This weekend.
Good luck with life OP
ETA late afternoon-early evening.

You smooth down your collar in fussy consternation, which earns you another bop. You regret this already.

It shouldn't be difficult. It shouldn't be difficult, right? It's just about perception, or something, so if you just close your eyes...

WAIT, you think too late as familiar reddish-black greets you. NOT WHILE I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF--

You squeeze your eyelids tight in panic, and the black fragments and explodes into vague approximations of yellows and purples and shocking greens. A rush fills your ears. You reopen them just as quickly, and for a blurry fraction of a second see... the tiny warped interior of a wagon or caravan, crammed full of piles and piles of stuff-- and for that fraction of a second, you think "that must be a fire hazard".

And you can't see it anymore, but your memory is stained orange with the image of the little fire, and its crackling lingers in a pointed contrast to the quiet blue nothing you're back to.

There is a floor there. You place your palms flat upon it, and they whiten under the strain of lifting the rest of you upwards. But you are there, and nevermind that you flop like a fish upon rock-solid nothing.

"Good boy," Kelsey Dighton says, and offers you a shriveled hand. His cane prods what you're half-sure is a couch or bench or stool. You pretend it's a b... you pretend it is a cushioned bench, with feathered pillows, and sit upon it.

"You shouldn't listen to your friend," he continues, and his free hand comes unmoored from its position half-hooked in his belt loop and waves to a place next to you. "Patently ridiculous. 'You can't do this'! That's what quitters say, young man, and you don't look like a..."

His speech is inturrupted by a low, baffled "uhhhh" from somewhere in your head.

"...can do what you believe to be..."

Is he talking about *me*?

"...now! Right. Will that be all, or are you seeking some further goods and services? I offer all kinds, as I'm sure you're aware."

Kelsey Dighton has a gleam in his eye that makes you think he isn't kidding.

>Write-in! Is there something you need?
> Can you help me figure out what I'm meant to be doing down here?
> There's at least 2 of me rn and I'm not entirely sure what to do about it

Lots of, uh. Stuff to confront, maybe.
Breaking for dinner then continuing to write.
>"I actually don't know who you are. Sorry, I'm new."
>There's two of me...
>[other question after]

What do you need? You need a whole lot of things, and you're a little unsure how this man can help with any of them. Firelight flickers across the matte pupil of his false eye, which is fixed on your face and positively boggles.

"Um," you again attempt to say, and realize your mistake. You intertwine your thumbs. Did this have to be so difficult?

I don't think you understand. He hears me, or something and-- shit, Ellery! The other guy! That's me. That's...

"Ellery." Kelsey Dighton trills the l's. "Ellllery. Don't see that name around often, nowadays. And what is yours?"

He speaks to your right.


Um. Well,

"That's sort of the problem."

It's your mouth moving, and your voice (what sounds like your voice) coming out-- clear and clean, like the water were air. But you didn't say that.

Kelsey leans forward on his cane.

"Holy shit." You didn't say that, either, despite all evidence to the contrary. You grope your neck in an attempt to source it. "I- I- ohman. Oh, gods, what did I..."

You didn't... you didn't even think that, you realize. It rattles around in your head, but it's not native to it.

It comes from your right.

"Feck," you say. "How do I-- you? we?-- I stop! How do..."

"I think I see the issue." Kelsey has a ghost of a smile. "Kelsey Dighton sees the issue, of course, of course. Is yours benign?"


"Are you being harmed, Mr. Routh? If one's self-image is unhealthy, or broken..."

"No. No, I wouldn't." The anxiety in your voice is difficult to listen to.

"So, then. Inconvenient? Bothersome? It can be difficult to grapple with y--"

You take the opportunity to wrest back a little control. "Well, I guess, but mostly I'm... confused. I don't know how to handle--"

He's turned his back and is rummaging through... a shelf, maybe, but it's hard to tell. "Split or reintegration."



You didn't mean that. "N... I mean, those sound a little severe? Permanent?"

He swivels around with an armful of what you think are bottles. "Kelsey Dighton offers solutions, Mr. Routh, and I thought you expected that. Here they are."

You can almost see them laid out in front of you: short and thin, wide and tall, all colors.

"Your little issue stems from your ego, yes? It's half off. Dangling by a thread. So lop it off altogether, or stitch it back on."

"Is there no, just... dealing with it?'

"Young man, you sought me out. You want solutions. Now: neither are quick. Both are difficult. Shall we barter?"

(Votes next)
>[1] Whoa! This isn't what you want. You were looking for, like, sage advice, not this.
>[2] Maybe... maybe this is what you want. It would be one less thing to worry about, to be sure, and isn't that what you want? Hell, isn't it what he wants?
>[3] Correct his misapprehension-- you didn't, uh, seek him out. You just happened to kick a rock at his wagon.
>[4] You're worried about That Guy. Well, A), he's... hijacking your voice, or something. And B), he seems remarkably chipper. Isn't he mad? He should probably be mad? You need to know.
>[5] Write-in.
>[4] You're worried about That Guy. Well, A), he's... hijacking your voice, or something. And B), he seems remarkably chipper. Isn't he mad? He should probably be mad? You need to know.
Only 1 and 2 are mutually exclusive, fwiw, if you'd like to tack something on.
He's annoying but handy
You decide it's best to clear things up.

"He di- I, um, didn't seek you out. Sorry. It was an accident, actually."

"An..." Kerey's good eye quivers in its socket. "Young man. Do you know who you're talking to?"

"...Kerey Dighton? You've said it, like..."

His voice quivers too. "Mr. Routh. Have you visited Kerey Dighton's Land of Wonder?"

"I don't thnk so?"

At once he thrusts away his cane (it clatters unremarkably onto the nothing you're standing on), pulls you up, and grasps you by the elbows. "Are you," he says, "fresh?"


His false eye was brown, you think. It was brown. Was it brown? Did you ever look? Because it's gold, now. Maybe not even gold. Sort of brassy, tarnished.

>|Mind: 74/100|

"Tell me," he hisses. "Tell me about the sky."

He has you locked firmly in place.

"It's blue?"


"It's black, a-at night, and there's stars. Sometimes it's grey from clouds. I don't know."

"And the sun?"

It's in your chest, you think.

"Same as ever, um. Hot. Bright."

"Mmmm." He closes one eye, his good eye. "I can feel it."

You say nothing. You hope this is a figure of speech.

Cerey Dighton lets go of your elbows and stoops to retrieve his cane. "Thank you," he says. "Thank you. I haven't seen them. For your generosity..."

He offers you three slips of stark white paper.

"Tickets to Cerey Dighton's. One for you both, and... a companion."


>|Gained: 3 Tickets to Dighton's Land of Wonder|

The edges are precise and almost sharp enough to cut.

"Now," he says with new vigor, "to business. Your eidolon--"

"No. Well, I mean... no. No. It's not... I don't want to, um, do anything like that."

"Wouldn't want to bruise that fresh mind, no, no. Not while you're still gelling, young man. There's less drastic measures, I'm sure..."

He mimes turning around the bottles in front of you, and they turn and are different bottles entirely.

"Simply to get you acclimated. Less 'confused'. Low cost, of course."

You're a little unsure. "I don't have any money."

"No money, Mr. Routh. Favors. Or..."

He looks at you sideways. "...memories. Small ones. Bad ones. You have plenty to forget, yes? But it's only an option."

>Select one or multiple to purchase. Specify what you pay in: favors or memories.

>[1] Bottle 1: Sealing Agent. "Sometimes you need something to stay as it is. It's more difficult than it sounds, Mr. Routh."
>[2] Bottle 2: Contact Solution. "One drop for each eye. One."
>[3] Bottle 3: Solvent. "Self-explanatory, yes?" "Not really," you protest. He ignores you.
>[4] Bottle 4: Cleaning Fluid. "For cleaning."
>[5] Something's off. Is something off? Something's off. Don't buy anything.
>[6] Write-in. (It's possible he has other things in stock.)

Couldn't fit in That Guy questioning smoothly. He'll be in once it makes sense.
>[1] Bottle 1: Sealing Agent. "Sometimes you need something to stay as it is. It's more difficult than it sounds, Mr. Routh."
>[2] Bottle 2: Contact Solution. "One drop for each eye. One."
I like these two. Also,
> Favors
>Sealing Agent
>Contact Solution

"I have to go," you blurt out, and cover your mouth with your hand. You don't have to go.

Kelrey Dighton smiles, and his two brass eyes practically vanish under vast piles of wrinkles. "Skittish? There's no hurry. You were just about to pay, then, Mr. Routh?"

You clutch two bottles(?) in the same fist as the tickets. Both, you imagine, are translucent and neatly labeled. Your other hand is outstretched, and Kelrey's cane twists off to reveal a long silver blade.

And your hand is scarlet, and the two bottles are placed in the flow. They solidify, and they are translucent and neatly labeled and clean as a whistle. "Seeling Agent," says one. "Contact Soloushon," says the other. Both are in your handwriting.

You don't wince at the sight anymore.

>|Blood: 90/100|

"It's done," says Kelrey, and his cane is twisted back together, and your hand is sticky and pink. "Now then..."

"I have to go," you say more urgently. "I have to go!"

"It's rude," he says. "Let the man say what he wants. He deserves that much."

You say nothing at all.

"Very well. Now then-- I will call on you when you are required. I will call on you twice. It may be in an hour, it may be in fifty years. It may be for anything at all. Do you understand, Ellery Routh?"

The bottles are prenaturally smooth and glint in the firelight. You understand.


There is a snap. It's not audible, though it reverberates all the way through one ear and out the other. It is the visceral snap of a too-stretched rubber band, and it feels rather as if someone has thwacked you with several at point-blank range.

>|Mind: 69/100|

"--I hope you enjoy your visit to Kersey Dighton's Land of Wonder, young man! Hee hee! And don't come storming back here after and yak my ear off, you hear? I'll get cross!"

You are ushered down the steps onto the sand below, and the cool night water makes you realize just how stuffy it was up there. You can see nothing of the interior.

Good gods.

You're not sure he has room to talk. Or he does have room to talk, because he did talk.

Not on purpose! Not on-- do you think I would instigate that on purpose? No. No. Can we please talk about...

He was literally just, like, super emotional, and now he's back to lecture. Seriously?

I-- there are pressing matters, okay. There are bigger things to deal with than, than me. Like making deals with old people who know your last name-- that never came up! He just knew it, okay, which is *not* okay in my book. It's not. That's not at all a good sign. If you can get a refund...

Somehow you deeply doubt that.

Good gods.

It's rather late, judging by the quality of the light.

>|Gained: Sealing Agent - Apply topically. Seals things.|
>|Gained: Contact Solution - One drop in each eye. ???|

(Votes next post)
>[1] You weren't given a curfew or any instructions, but you still doubt Arledge will be happy with you leaving the house at night. Best to get back.
>[2] You're in possession of some new toys. Might as well try them out now: if they're bunk, the guy's still right there for you to yell at.
>[3] Write-in.

(And that's where I'm gonna end for the night! Apologies for molasses update speed + not fitting in the "what am I supposed to do" - he wouldn't have given you a straight answer, at least, so it's not too much of a cop-out. Run ETA Tuesday. Good night!)
>[1] You weren't given a curfew or any instructions, but you still doubt Arledge will be happy with you leaving the house at night. Best to get back.
While exploration to neat and sidequesting forever is a national pasttime, mayyyybe getting back on track would be good.
>WAIT, you think too late as familiar reddish-black greets you. NOT WHILE I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF--
I have no idea what this is, Bathic! Quit hinting and just spit it out! I'm not enjoying how damn vague you're being. It was more fun when it was straight humor and a guy underwater in a tent. I don't enjoy never knowing what's going on.
Remember this location. Draw maps or leave marks or something.
It's possible I'm being too florid. That part wasn't intended to be vague: it's just you closing your eyes and going "oh shit what if I'm cut in half I shouldn't've done that".

That being said, we're pushing onto more concrete adventures shortly that I sincerely hope you enjoy more. Thank you for your time so far.
To add on: I firmly believe the audience should at least know what their POV character does. If Ellery knows something and the reader doesn't understand: that's not me dancing in a circle around you and chanting taunts in unknown languages, that's me being a shitty writer who can't clearly convey an idea.

If, like that, you read something you don't understand: kindly post it and I'll pull my head out of my ass long enough to translate it into regular English. I want everyone to have a good time, not be stuck scratching their heads over Bathic's latest contorted metaphor. Sound good?
I got very little sleep last night, so I'm gonna take a nap before the session. ETA 5-5:30 PST.
>Get a move on.
>But mark this location later.

You're still not entirely sure what Arledge thinks of you, but you doubt he'd be super happy with nighttime wanderings. You ought to head back.

It'd be wise, though, to mark this place in case you need to return. The great deal of rubble strewn about provides you with the materials to make a large X in the grass. You cock your head at in, and then trample the grass around it to ensure visibilty.

Good enough. You retrace your bootprints all the way back to the great circle you walked and pause there. It should be around here, right?

In fact, it is here. You're sure of it. You can't see anything, exactly, but there's something... building-shaped nearby. It feels like a building, is the best you can explain it. Which means that...

...This is a wall, you think, and hopefully the wall you need. You roll the bottles around in your hand once, twice, and step forward.

The bedroom is dark and, you're pleased to see, empty. You deposit the tickets and bottles into your bucket in the corner and flop exhaustedly onto the bed.

It should be no trouble going to sleep.

The stomping down the hallway jeopardizes that. Even through the dark, you can tell two things: It's Arledge who appears in the doorway, and his face is red and drawn. It takes a few seconds for him to focus on your face.

"WE'RE LEAVING," he barks, garbled through the water. "LET'S GO."

More footsteps: lighter, hurried. Lorne rushes up behind Arledge and stops short when he sees you. Arledge ignores him.

"ELLERY," he says. "WE'RE LEAVING."

"...Graves..." You can make out very little of what Lorne is saying; it's too muffled. "...look.......gotta..."

Arledge gets redder, if it's possible, and gestures roughly at you.

>[1] This is none of your business, and if you're gonna be alone with Arledge you don't want to piss him off. Follow his lead.
>[2] You'd rather know the motives before you go anywhere, thank you. Why are "we" leaving?
>[3] Write-in.
>>[1] This is none of your business, and if you're gonna be alone with Arledge you don't want to piss him off. Follow his lead.

Seems to me that we are the last person equipped to intervene with this situation. Maybe later we can do something about it, but right now we'll just make things probably worse.
>Follow his lead.

This feels very much like it doesn't involve you. Involving yourself in a situation you aren't involved with is on brand, but probably not all that helpful.

You roll to the other side of the bed and lean over to grab your bucket. Arledge loosens up just a little. He moves out of the doorway into the room and crosses his arms. Lorne retreats back into the hallway.

You give Arledge a quizzical look, but his response is stony silence. Fine. Bucket in hand, you stand (ow) and walk the few steps to meet him. He places a hand on your upper arm.

Lorne watches, nervous, as you're frogmarched past him through the hallway. Arledge brushes past him, and he follows behind like a kicked dog. The hallway is remarkably nondescript, and you decide to look forward rather than sideways at the blank beige walls and scattered doors. All are tightly shut.

It widens, here, and Lorne quickens until he pulls up next to you. He takes your dangling hand, and you're not sure if he's intending to shake it or kiss it: but he only takes it in his, squeezes once, and lets go. You're wondering about subtext when you realize something's now in your fist.

You reach an intersection. A precarious little table stands by it, adorned with a clay pot containing a droopy bunch of flowers. Lorne peels off from your side and turns right. He doesn't look back.

Arledge pushes you forward, and you're led into a staid little entry room. The tables and couches are ornate, filigreed, and appear to never have been used. Arledge pauses here, but pushes you out through a grand front door.

You are in the dark ocean. You finger the thing in your hand. It's long and cylindrilical, but you don't dare look with Arledge just behind you.

You walk. Really, you are walked: Arledge takes the lead, but he moves so fast you still feel as if you're being pushed along. The vast fields of seagrass take on a new dimension in the dark: you find yourself on constant subtle edge wading through them. What could be waiting underneath? What can't you see?

"We're here," Arledge announces, and turns to face you.

It looks exactly like what you've been walking through for the past... 10 minutes, or 10 hours, or however long it's been. You see no crabs-- or hills, for that matter, which you're pretty sure is where you're supposed to be. Did you hear him right?

You give him a face.

"We're HERE," he announces again, and gives you a face back. In the shifting shadows, it looks positively animal. You flinch and glance behind you.


You look back.

Hills. You're here. Of course you're here. This is where you are. You're back at the Gape, which looks even more mouth-like steeped in darkness. You can't see more than a foot past its entrance.

"In," he orders, "And don't think!"

>Roll me 3 1d100s+6 (+6 Clear Mind) vs. DC 50 to make it through safely!

OR: >[2] Write-in.
Rolled 23 + 6 (1d100 + 6)

Rolled 22 + 6 (1d100 + 6)

and again
Rolled 8 + 6 (1d100 + 6)

>"WTF Arledge explain"
Nice. We did it!
You have no method of speaking to him at the present besides barebones handsign, and that may be difficult to make out in the darkness! If you'd like to try, that's a...
>3 1d100s vs. DC 35 (+35 It's Dark!) to effectively communicate "wtf" to Arledge.

I'll write while they're being rolled as with a...
>Critical Failure!
you may be a little preoccupied.
Rolled 85 (1d100)

Rolled 49 (1d100)

Rolled 55 (1d100)

We did it Reddit!

>Critical Success!
Hey, you're good at something. This will happen once appropriate.

Continuing to write.
>Make it through safely.
>29, 28, 14 vs. DC 50 - Critical Failure!

It's not your fault, not really. The exercise gets your heart pumping and your mind racing. And it's dark. What else can you do but think?

So when Arledge says "don't think," you think: wait, why not? what?

So as you press yourself into the narrow, jagged passage, you think: really, what does he mean? What could thinking possibly do?

So as you unhook your sleeve from a protruding dagger of rock, you think: Something bad, apparently. Maybe it's just so you don't psyche yourself out.

So as you slide the skin of your knuckles along the ridges in the cliffside, you think: But that seems counterintuitive. That's not it. Maybe... maybe there's something that, like, hears your thoughts. Or smells them. Or tastes them.

So as you shudder at the tiny shower of pebbles that hits your neck, you think: What would that look like? It would be big, probably. If it lived in this narrow fecking canyon thing, it would be slender. It would need a lot of eyes to see in the darkness. It would need a lot of teeth to eat.

So as you clutch your jacket close to you, you think: It could be behind us, right now, and we wouldn't even know.

So it makes sense that you're ready to run. So it makes sense that at the ROAR behind you, you break out into as fast of a sprint you can manage and immediately run full-tilt into Arledge's back. He turns around slowly, too slowly, and fixes you with a stare plainly stating "I am done with your shit".

And then he looks up, and the flush completely drains out of his face. You look too:

It is big. It is slender. It is many-eyed.

And oh boy, it's toothy.

Its head is at the end of a long, long neck. The neck has no bones, judging by how it coils and knots. Its eyes (they are red) blink one-at-a-time in a continuous sinuous motion. Its legs are clamped to each side of the crevasse. It has spots.

Arledge reinstates his death grip on your arm.

>[1] RUN. (Medium.)
>[2] UNIMAGINE. (Hard.)
>[3] FIGHT. (Hard.)
>[4] WRITE-IN.
>>[1] RUN. (Medium.)
>[2] UNIMAGINE. (Hard.)
>[1] RUN. (Medium.)


RUN it is. Please roll me 3 1d100s+3 (+8 Blood -5 Fatigued) vs. DC 45 (+15 Dark! +20 Narrow! +10 Crowded!)
Rolled 25 + 3 (1d100 + 3)

Rolled 10 + 3 (1d100 + 3)

Rolled 41 + 3 (1d100 + 3)

I want to point out before we die how incredibly unlikely we didn't get one on both important DCs

It's almost impressive.
We did it together, at least. I'm invested to see where this goes.
>28, 13, 44(!) vs. DC 45
>Critical Failure!

Writing :)
Rolled 84 (1d100)

>28, 13, 44 vs. DC 45 - Critical Failure!

You jerk forward in panic and Arledge follows. His strides are powerful, while yours are mostly just stiff: you're more fatigued than you thought. You keep your eyes to the ground, but the thing remains steady in your periphery vision: it's spotted in colors that don't exist and its one hundred- two hundred- three hundred eyes ripple.

You run, but it is not chasing you. It doesn't have to. Its head snakes forward at exactly the rate you move. Its body is now a hundred-fifty feet behind you. There is no end to its neck, is there? It's just lined with teeth all the way down, isn't it?

You run, because what else can you do? If you stop-- you don't know, but the idea strikes you with so much primal terror you're not sure you physically can. You run because you must, not because it accomplishes anything.

Arledge sees the kink in the path, sees the tiny ledge that lies next to it. In a bound he is perched upon it. He offers you a hand--

But you don't see the hand or the ledge or the bend. You are blinded by the saltwater that stings your eyes and the darkness that shades them. You shift from full sprint to the fastest you've ever been-- you have not had to run in a long time.

You run headfirst into the cliffside.

It would be comic were it not for context. You are sent sprawling backwards. The head-- and oh what a head, nothing but grotesque angles-- stops. Surprised?

It hovers over you. Its three hundred- four hundred- five hundred eyes look down.

Its infinite neck starts to unpeel, and in the moment though it sounds awful you want to laugh. It's too much. At this point it just looks silly: like a pantomime sea serpent all made of glue and old newspapers.

But oh, the budget for that pantomime! It's the best glue and newspapers you've ever seen, and the inside of its neck-mouth is pink and dripping with saliva.

Well, says That Guy. We had a good run.

FUCK him, you decide.

FUCK that.

FUCK that! You're not going to die to a stupid fuckass newspaper snake, even if it does have five hundred- six hundred- seven hundred eyes. So what if it hovers above you and is winding around you and its teeth graze your hands and face?

There's something you can do, right?

>Roll me 3 1d100s vs. DC 70!
>Writing in a strategy will add appropriate bonuses to this roll!
>Rolling for Arledge's efficacy!
Rolled 55 (1d100)

Rolled 8 (1d100)

Shit I don't know. Throw a knife into it's mouth and book it as it recoils?
Nevermind I'm cursed.
Rolled 98 (1d100)

Can we imagine a flashbang?
You can certainly try! It will need a separate roll, though. Quick vote:
>[1] Knife the thing
>[2] Attempt to flashbang the thing

(So far we're at >55, 8, 98 vs. DC 70 - Failure!
Arledge at an 84 adds +10, or >65, 18, 108 vs. DC 70 - Failure!)
>[2] Attempt to flashbang the thing
>[2] Attempt to flashbang the thing
What could possibly go wrong?
>Flashbang the thing
Nothing at all can go wrong!

I need a roll of 3 1d100s-6 (-6 Clear Mind) vs. DC 40 to actually make a flashbang, which if successful will push the "don't die" roll to a success. Good luck.
Rolled 76 + 6 (1d100 + 6)

Oh right. It's a +- syntax. A 70 then
Rolled 24 - 6 (1d100 - 6)

Rolled 43 - 6 (1d100 - 6)

File: hahahhahaahahaha =(.gif (1.97 MB, 154x273)
1.97 MB
1.97 MB GIF
>70, 18, 37 vs. DC 40
>55, 8, 98 vs. DC 70

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22 KB
>Produce a flashbang to scare it off!
>70, 18, 37 vs. DC 40 - Failure!
>Don't get eviscerated!
>55, 8, 98 vs. DC 70 - Failure!

Its... its whole godsdamn lot of eyes leer, and you have a thought.

It is dark.

What if it weren't dark? It would destroy this thing, maybe even literally. At the least it'd be blinded. At the most it'd be dead... or, you know, gone or whatever. Either one is vastly preferable to getting mauled.

It is light, you think, and attempt to ignore the contrary evidence. It is light. It is daytime, and the sun is shining, the sun--

Is in your chest, isn't it? You just have to get it out. You just have to get it out. You claw at your heavy jacket, you scrabble at your thick knit shirt, why are you so hot--

It could be day if you could get it out! It would be dead if you could get it out! You just have to get it out!

The thing ceases drooling on you. Its hundred thousand eyes blink simultaneously. It laughs.

"H͟A̶ HA̷ ͘HA," it laughs, and it is your laugh garbled and pitched down and coming from very far away. "HA͞ ͝HA ͡HA."

Arledge lets out a piercing cry and throws himself down upon the beast, but he is too late.

It rips apart your chest, and it lets the sunshine out.

You are incapable of screaming, but even if you could you wouldn't. You can't. Any pain withers and scatters like ashes against pure blinding white, and any thought.


"AAÀA̷AÀA͝A̕AAAA̧AAA̕A̧ÁA͟AÀA̵AA͠AÁAAA͠A͜A͘AAA" screams the thing, the beast, the monster, and it is shot through to pieces and vanishes.

"HOLY FUCK MY EYES," Arledge gargles, and lands with a thump onto hard stone.

Even after darkness returns, the two of you lay there for a long time.

Ellery, says your head with a great deal of tightly-controlled tact.


Ellery. Don't look. Don't look. But your chest...

You look. It is mostly not there. You very much want to stick your hand in, but do not.

You rest your head back on the stone and don't want to think about anything at all.

Arledge shifts.

"Ellery," he says into your head with the same pinched tone. "We... have to go. Can you move."

You can move. It brings far less pain than it has any right to. You're not sure you can stand, though. "I... I guess."

"Okay." Arledge gropes his way up to a standing position and moves his arms in small circles. "Where are you."

"I'm... down here."

He finds you, finally, and drags you up. You clutch your jacket and hope that nothing falls out. Haha. Hahaha.

You are in the middle of nowhere.

>|Blood: 35/100|
>|Mind: 35/100|
>|Complication Gained: I Can't Come Up With A Snappy Title For "You Are Missing The Front Part Of Your Chest And It's Bleeding Everywhere": Self-Explanatory|

>Rolllllll me 3d100s-20 (-10 Clouded Mind -10 Blood Loss) vs. DC 25 to make it out of the Gape!
Rolled 39 - 20 (1d100 - 20)

Rolled 87 - 20 (1d100 - 20)

Hot. Damn.
Rolled 30 - 20 (1d100 - 20)

This is probably the worst luck I have ever seen in a quest in a long, long time.
>19, 67, 10 vs. DC 25
Writing! This will likely be the last of the night.

>every single roll tonight has failed or critfailed
Yeah! I think you're on to something there.
We're all having fun, right? I'm having fun writing this.
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>Get out of the Gape!
>19, 67, 10 vs. DC 25 - Failure.

You both try. You really try.

You do. Arledge half-lifts half-drags you along, and for your part you don't vomit all over him. You do bleed all over him, and all over everywhere, so that's not great. But it could be worse.

Hahaha. It could be worse. You could be dead. You are dead! You could be dead more. That would be bad. That would be a bad thing. Hahaha.

You sound like a lunatic, says your head, but he sounds more concerned than acerbic.

You sound like a lunatic? You are a lunatic. You're over here with your innards dangling out and you're still talking. That's deeply not okay. But it's good! It's a good thing.

"Um," Arledge says politely.

He's banged up, too, and blind, but you think you're worse off. Which is a good thing, because you caused this. Not super good, because again you're bleeding like shit and you're gonna die! But it could be worse! It could be worse! Hahaha!

(It goes like that for two minutes or two hours.

It goes until Arledge collapses and takes you with him. He pants, and tries to rise. He cannot. You can't, either, which seems entirely reasonable.

You stare up into the black-- was it always that black, or does it just look that way now?-- and hope you don't die, and hope Arledge doesn't die, and hope that you're close to the exit, and hope that someone will find you, and hope that if you do die, you'll be buried.

Maybe not buried. Burned, maybe. Join the sun.

That would be nice.

You stare up into the black, and try to ignore the thick cloud of blood drifting into your field of vision.)

Okay! That was... that was, uh, that was a fun one.

Running Friday and weekend. Potential for a few updates tomorrow, but as always no hard guarantees with those.

Good night!
Thanks for running!

Pretty mad that Arledge dragged us somewhere so dangerous with minimal explanation.
You'll certainly have an opportunity to express your feelings next session.
Rolled 2 (1d34)

Rolling for blood loss.
>we could have lost 34/35 blood
File: the courtiers.jpg (412 KB, 979x1263)
412 KB
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You are lucky. It's not long at all.

>|Blood: 33/100|

You hear them coming. Snatches of conversation bounce off the rock walls:

"-I'm telling you, I saw-"

"-remind me why we're-"

"-how does my eyepatch-"

"-stop jogging, Lex, you're still-"

"-is that blood-"

"-shit, that's-"

"-LEXY slow down there's-"

A red-headed woman skids in first. Her companions follow. There are four of them in total, and they swarm about you like hungry seabirds. It's a comparison made more apt by the frayed feathers they all wear, which dangle in your face as they crouch to look at your wound. Is it a wound, really? You feel as though that implies some matter of scale or order of magnitude. But you don't have a better word for it.

Maybe there isn't a better word for it, because by all rights you really ought to be dead. There's just been no cause for that word to be invented.

"'S gone," snaps the pinch-faced, eyepatched woman. "Move on. Don't got forever."

Her every prod of your insides produces an unpleasant squelch, and you attempt to convey "STOP" with just your eyes.

"He's not gone, Helen. Look, he's looking at you." This man is eminently reasonable, you decide, and ought to be listened to.

"Not talkin', Dib. He's everywhere but here-- you've got 'm up your nose, I wager. We move on."

"Helen. We should bring the guy along, okay? At least see him off proper."

"Duncan Irving Blaine..." She rises with a final horrid plash of your guts and whips to face him. You'd listen to the tirade that follows, but a new face has leaned in very close to yours.

It's very familiar. It last informed you it would hunt you down.

This is far too close to irony for comfort. You're suitably pissed. But though the man takes a long time searching your face, he's seemingly unable to find anything conclusive.

"Duncan Blaine, if you don't listen to your superiors-"

"I don't listen to you, Helen, because you're always like this! At least Dec can admit he's wrong. I listen to Dec-"

"Not really," says the man above you, and finally rips his gaze away.

"Not when you're wrong. Which is usually. I listen when you're right."

"I'm right always." Nobody's looking at you anymore, which you feel shouldn't be happening. You feel very firmly that you should be the center of attention.

"Yeah. 'Oh,' you say. 'Let's go grab a deer. Nothing can go wrong.' Guess what happened, huh? Lost an eye, Lex almost..."

"[I]Guys," says the red-haired woman, who has stepped over you and stares down at Arledge's prone form. She kicks him sharp in the ribs.

"What the feck?" Arledge bolts upright. "What-"

Though the words are identical, his thought-voice and actual voice are half a second desynchronized. It's very distracting.

"Ha!" The woman points triumphantly at him. "It is. Guys. It's Arledge Graves."

"What?" "What, really?" "Lex, you're still out of it. Leave the guy..."

"Shut the hell up, Dib, and look here." She kicks Arledge again, who only mutters "Green Sea" and lays back down.

"They have feathers?"

It takes a moment for you to distinguish that Arledge asked you a question. "Uh, yeah."


They crowd around him now to boggle and chatter. "I don't know. Thought he'd be older." "Really? Thought he'd be less old. You know, the kids, they're more likely to be tempted..." "So who's that guy?" "What the heck happened here?"

"Why don'..." Helen drawls, "we ask 'im? Hey." She kicks him in the leg, just because. "You Arledge Graves? Magician?"

The conversation has so thoroughly moved on from you that you just close your eyes and try not to die in the meantime. All things considered, you don't feel that bad. You don't like that you don't feel bad.

"Shit," thinks Arledge. "No," says Arledge.

"He might be telling the truth," says the extraordinarily reasonable man.

"Dib." Helen says his name in a tone that means "you stupid feck" . "Shall we continue? Who are you, then?"

Arledge swallows.

"Um," he says, carefully, to you, "What do you think?"

You're incredulous. "What do I think? I just got... Do you not have a cover story?"

"I don't need one!"

You avoid the obvious retort.

>[1] You don't want to give them any information, especially with you vulnerable and being looked for. Craft a wholesale lie.
>[2] Tell most of the truth, leave out the sensitive bits. Crabs sent for you, yes; magic, no.
>[3] What are they gonna do, rip your chest open? There's nothing to lose. Press Arledge to fess up.
>[4] Write-in.
>[3] What are they gonna do, rip your chest open? There's nothing to lose. Press Arledge to fess up
These guys are with I’LL FIND YOUR EYES guy so lying is probably setting ourselves up to get fucked later
>[2] Tell most of the truth, leave out the sensitive bits. Crabs sent for you, yes; magic, no.
>[2] Tell most of the truth, leave out the sensitive bits. Crabs sent for you, yes; magic, no.
>The truth, more or less


>Tell the convenient parts of the truth.

"Well," you say. "Just leave the bad parts out."

"Everything is the bad parts."

"That can't be-- okay, it's largely bad parts. But just tell them, you know, we're travelers or whatever, gonna go see the crabs, got attacked by... something real. Make up names. Quick."

Arledge clears his throat. "Uhuh. Er, sorry. This is my... friend, Ell...iot, and I'm..."

You suggest the first thing that comes to mind. "Scott."

"...Scott. We... got attacked."


"There you go," Dib helpfully interjects. "It's Scott and Elliot and they got attacked. This place is dangerous, so it's no wonder. Where were you folks headed?"

"Up to, ah, the crabs. They pulled a favor on us."

Dib's far too excited to hear this. "Really! Us too! What a coincidence! You guys, really, just jumping to conclusions... Really. I mean, Arledge Graves? What would be the frickin' chances?"

As far as you can tell, everyone else's faces are various degrees of sullen.

"Looks like he's supposed to," says Elexy, and kicks him once more in pique. "Ow," he says.

"Who gives a flying fish? Man, I look like the frickin... I look like the old king of 11, does that make me him? No way. And lookit, Elliot over here's half-empty. We're not leaving them."

"Wasn't gonna leave 'im," she says with an air of disgust. "Was gonna kill 'im. It's what saltlickers deserve, anyhow."

"...It's no harm to help," Dec says. "Worst case it's four against one-and-a-half. Best case, look, we have some allies in the little hellpit we're heading to. No harm."

"That's two-- Helen? Come on."

"If it is Graves, I'd like to talk with 'im. Leaving him to the fish ain't fun at all."

"Okay!" Dib, you, assume, offers Arledge a hand.

"How did that work?" Arledge sounds disbelieving. "I mean it, what-- Scott?"

"I don't--" Dec scoops you up like a sack of leeks, and suddenly the dull ache in your... former chest explodes into hot bright fragments. It's all you can do not to thrash, and more than you can do not to scream-- but your lungs stay mercifully unyielding.

They walk in single file and talk incessantly about nothing at all. None seem concerned with your condition or the hasty falsehoods you and Arledge slapped together.

You have a little bit of free time.

>[1] Now that you're maybe not going to die, it's time to ask Arledge exactly what the hell he's doing. He dragged you out in the middle of the night into mortal danger... why?
>[2] Arledge just walks in shellshocked silence. Prompt him to make conversation so he doesn't look like a creep. Interject as needed.
>[3] Spend some time considering your cover story. If you're gonna be under close scrutiny, you really need it to be better than "Scott" and "Elliot".
>[4] Write-in.
If they already bought our cover story they'll buy any improv we give. It's even what we specialize in, we have a +10 bonus. I'm more concerned with Arledge shoving us in a cave where we lost most of our torso.
>[1] Now that you're maybe not going to die, it's time to ask Arledge exactly what the hell he's doing. He dragged you out in the middle of the night into mortal danger... why?

Would have voted for 3 but the other anon is right that yeah bullshitting like our life is on the line (especially when it actually is) is our specialty
>hey arledge wtf

You think they bought it. Or one of them bought it, at least, which is what matters.

No, you have unfinished business.

"Arledge," you say. "Hi."

He casts a glance back over his shoulder, though he's walking behind you. Your position draped across Dec's shoulders, though uncomfortable and embarrassing, does allow you full view of the line. "Yes?"

"Um..." You struggle with how to phrase this. "I think we should probably talk about what happened."

"It's over," he says, a little bitterly. "No need."

"It's over... it's not over. I'm still bleeding, like, profusely. My, my chest was bitten out, okay? It's not back yet? It's not over."

He almost stops trudging along, but a shove from Elexy keeps him going. "Ow. What?"

"My... did you not know this?"

"I knew there was a shitton of blood, is what I knew. You taste terrible. But I'm inexplicably blinded, so I couldn't tell exactly, alright?"

You feel as though there's a great deal of blame being wrongly placed on you. "Okay, look, you brought me here. Out of nowhere. In the middle of the night. With no explanation. What the hell happened between you and Lorne, because, I mean..."

Arledge fidgets. One thumb flicks in and out of his pocket; the other smooths and resmoothes a curl of hair by his ear. He weighs very carefully what to say.

"We had a disagreement," he says.

"Oh." It feels like an understatement.

"We have a lot of disagreements. That's not the issue. The issue is that he tried to make up for this one..."

You have no idea where this is headed. "Oh."

"...with a kiss. The bastard. It's been eight years! It's over! And he presumed--"

You appear to have unlocked a whole new side of Arledge. You've seen him angry, sure, but not quite this arresting shade of red.

"He presumed. That's his entire fecking problem. He goes and does horrible things and he thinks a wink and a kiss makes it all better. It doesn't, Lorne! It actually-"

File: hills.jpg (505 KB, 1287x858)
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You would like very much to circle back to the original problem of the blood and everything. "So... you were, um, angry. I guess. So what, you took me to Monsterland in the middle of the night?"

"Nothing lives in here, Ellery. It's safe. You had to go out of your way to invent a problem, and here we are."

"You didn't explain anything."

He pauses. "...Never said I did. But I did. You didn't listen."

This is grade-A GS. "You say a ton of cryptic gullshit, Arledge! You can't expect me to magically know exactly what you mean. And I literally couldn't ask-- how are we talking, by the way, when you didn't do the..."

Arledge lifts the corner of his shirt, revealing long, shallow scratches. "Your blood, my blood. We're severing this as soon as possible, by the way. You're already too close for comfort."


"I actually literally have my chest torn open, Arledge, and I'd like it if you could acknowledge..."

"Feel it yet?"

You feel a lot of pain, but not nearly as much as expected. "...No?"

He scoff-laughs. "That's coming. Get your talking in now, and I'm severing before the screaming. Same thing with the blood-- you won't be feeling so chipper in a few."

Is he serious? "Feck you."

"Uh huh."

The end, you realize, is in sight. Just ahead is the canyon's exit. Dec halts.

"Okay," he announces. "Everybody knows what to do. Uh... Scott, just make yourself useful. I'll bandage up Elliot, alright? No need to worry about him."

Only Dib answers with a "alright!". Arledge's mouth is a thin line, while the two women positively stare daggers.

"O-okay. Alright." His words right now are a far cry from the threat he gave you earlier. What did you do to deserve that emnity? "Carry on."

The night a- water feels incredibly crisp and clear compared to the blood you'd been mired in. You're well and truly in the hills, which are gently sloped and starkly chalky orange. You see no crabs.

>[1] You want literally anybody except this guy to bandage you. Make your wish clear.
>[2] Requesting that would be weird, though. You just want Arledge there. That sounds normal.
>[3] You're gonna blow your cover! You can handle this guy... okay, not physically, but he's probably too noble to fight you with your guts hanging out. You'll be fine without help.
>[4] Write-in.
>[3] You're gonna blow your cover! You can handle this guy... okay, not physically, but he's probably too noble to fight you with your guts hanging out. You'll be fine without help.
So paranoid, nice
Arledge is being a huge grump, we shoulda stayed with Lorne.
Breaking for dinner. Vote is open until I return, which will hopefully be shortly.
False alarm! Writing, though I may have to take a break in the middle to actually eat that dinner.
I can't believe you'd abandon your questing responsibilities to take care of yourself!
You jest, but I feel really bad every time I have to run out midway through!

Writing... ish, because apparently the qtg discord is gonna liveread Thread 1 and I feel like I should be there for that. Come join and revel in my uncomfortableness as I try and multitask.
>You can handle yourself.

You don't say anything. You're not sure you really want to talk to Arledge when he's like this, whatever "this" is.

Dec lays you out by a cliffside while everyone else scatters. Once you're safely on the ground, he withdraws a handkerchief from his breast pocket and daubs his forehead with it. You're a bit taken aback at this show of sheer prissiness.

When his brow has been sufficiently mopped, he refolds the handkerchief and stuffs the square back into his pocket. Only now does he attend to you. You're crumpled in a shaky heap on the ground, so he first untangles the whole bloody mess of limbs and clothes until you're spread-eagled and, you feel, very exposed.

He raises his eyebrows. "Oh dear."

Your tired eyes say "no shit," and his mouth quirks up into a half-non-smile. "Not... not that. I was expecting that. I didn't expect... well."

He draws close, and you want to flee, you don't want to be near this guy: but you're not sure you can twitch a finger, let alone stand. He crouches next to you and pulls the shreds of your coat back. "Darn," he says, lightly, and stops to pick the gooey strands of thickened blood from between his fingers.

You don't trust people who don't swear.

"Here," he says, and presses down with his fingertips onto your bare... upon something in there, you guess. "Do you feel that?"

You can manage the barest twitch of your head-- no.

"No, I'd imagine not." Dec touches your shoulder with one hand and raps downward with the other. There's a high-pitched "tink". "Yes. It's glass, Elliot."

That does nothing to clarify. You wish he would bandage you and be done, because this whole thing is making you powerfully uneasy.

Maybe that's the pain coming on. Or the blood loss. Or both.

"Do you know what that means?" You think he's trying to be calming, but it comes off patronizing. Nevermind that you don't know what that means. "It means Skiens. No ethics, I tell you, none. I'm sorry."

He tries to catch your eye. You look everywhere but at his face.


Dec retrieves a small leather case from the inside of his jacket and opens it on his knee. He retrieves a small roll of off-white gauze, looks at it, looks at you. You wish he'd at least get to the point if he's not gonna bandage.

"How do you know Scott?" He winds the gauze around the palm of his hand. "How old is he? How old are you, Elliot?"

This is a situation you know well. He's not actually asking things: he's making a point. You just need to ride it out.

"What's that in your hand," he says matter-of-factly, and you're jolted back from the stupor you slipped into for two seconds. What is in your hand? Arledge took your bucket somewhere along the way, but your left hand is still gripped firmly onto a... long cylinder.

The powerful unease increases.

You finger the cylinder more and discover something: the end tapers into a sharp, metallic point. It, you think, is a syringe. It is a magician's syringe.

It, you think, is not an answer Dec would like very much.

He doesn't continue, and he doesn't wind the gauze. He waits for a response.

>[1] Palm it down the sleeve of your coat. You're not totally sure if he's suspicious of you right now, but that's this totally shot if he finds it.
>[2] Show him, but play it off. You're dumb! What's that? You don't know what that implies!
>[3] Write-in.
>[2] Show him, but play it off. You're dumb! What's that? You don't know what that implies!
>[2] Show him, but play it off. You're dumb! What's that? You don't know what that implies!

God damnit Arledge!
>[2] Show him, but play it off. You're dumb! What's that? You don't know what that implies!
In that case, please roll me 3 1d100s (+10 Loudmouth -10 Blood Loss) vs. DC 35 to bluff the hell out of this!
Rolled 99 (1d100)

Rolled 89 (1d100)

We should ask for a transfusionUnless that would fuck us up and make us into someone else.
Rolled 4 (1d100)

used wrong notation last time oops
>Regular Success!
Writing in approx. 70 minutes or sooner.
>Play it off.
>98, 89, 4 vs. DC 35 - Success.

What the hell else can you do? You're just going to have to keep your cool.

Play it confused. Why does this matter? What's he getting at? All you have in your hand is...

A syringe. Boy, where did that come from? You have no idea where that came from. You were there a long time, practically dead. It could be planted. Or maybe you just scooped it up, not knowing what it meant. That's definitely possible. That's plausible, even. That's way more plausible than you associating with magicians...

Dec's face flutters with revulsion, which he wrestles with and then he shoves deep down. A tight-lipped smile/grimace replaces it.

"Aha," he enunciates, pronouncing each syllable like he's being strangled. "A-ha. Okay. Do you know what that is, Elliot?"

It's your chance. You shake "no" again, and let your eyes say "what'd I do wrong?".

He softens a tiny bit and returns to talking at you like you're a small child, rather than a naughty small child. "No. Aha. Well, that's a... syringe. That's dangerous. Here, let me just..."

Dec plucks it deftly out of your splayed hand and slips it into his inside jacket. "There we are."

You allow a sliver of anger to crack your perfect porcelain mask. What an ass! That was your fecking syringe, and though you're not entirely sure why Lorne gave it to you or what you'd do with it... it was yours, okay.

He checks your slip immediately and again attempts to catch your eye.

You turn your gaze downwards instead.

Was Arledge trying to get a rise out of you when he said the pain was coming? That'd be a nasty joke, but you'd prefer it over the thought that this isn't over. It looks over: the blood has largely stopped flowing, causing the gaping hole (oh gods) to begin to web with pink strands.

"Better get that wrapped," Dec says, still with a sort of grimace.

It really doesn't seem like there ought to be enough on the roll, but Dec twists and stretches the gauze so your entire chest is nearly covered. "Keep those on," he says. "Especially in polite company."

You feel a little better, and reach to pluck inquisitively at the closest bandage. You don't make it there before you start feeling worse again, and then worse still.

The obvious thing would have been for it to come on quick. You're fine, you're in agony, you're fine. In and out, nice and easy.

You do not get this. The pain sneaks up on you like a thief in broad daylight. It cowers in dark recesses of your mind. It steals out when it thinks you aren't looking and darts back in just as fast. It hides, and in this way you can ignore it.

And then it comes for you.

You can tell, because all the color drains out of your hands. Dec can tell, because he finishes packing up his equipment and takes three quick steps back. "Ah," he says. "Aha. Erm. Good luck."

Is it your imagination, or are you ever-so-slightly faded around the edges?

Are you real?

What? You don't think that. That's my job.

But you did think that, and he can go suck a... well, there's no harm in checking, you guess. You look at your hands again.

Are you real?

It's like an automated message. You glance again.

Are you- and you look away.

You'd consider this unsettling if y

(You'd consider this unsettling if you weren't blindsided by the pain, which in a specimen of mockery is white. It is not the pure blinding white you saw. It is dirty, grimy, spackled white, and it's the only thing you can see.

It feels appropriately like getting your chest ripped apart, but curdled and looped in on itself a thousand times. It is worse than if you'd just gotten it over with.

You scream, of course, and somewhere Arledge is equal parts sympathetic/smug/annoyed. You do quite a lot of thrashing.

At one point you trigger the little automated part of your brain, and it runs on constant monotone repeat: Are you real? Are you real? Are you real? Are you real? Areyou real? Areyoureal? Areyourealareyourealareyoureal and it gets to the point where you're genuinely not sure.

From three yards away, Dec hopes you don't screw up his bandages. He wonders where he's seen your face, which he can't entirely remember.

Brown hair, he decides. Some color of brown. Beaky nose. Eyes... were important, but he's not sure. Something dark.

It's very blurry.)


(that took fiveever I'm really sorry! I'll be running tomorrow and Sunday, posting as often as possible [but I'm often interrupted on weekends]. Hope you enjoy + have a good night!)
File: QtNLNOT.jpg (88 KB, 912x317)
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Consequences for a host of bad rolls? Hell yeah. Poor Ellery though.

I can't wait to see what Maddie thinks when we return, so very fucked up from the Crab adventure.
You are Arledge "Scott" Graves.

You are in a bad mood. You have been in a bad mood for half a day, now, and it shows no signs of abating. Not with the strident, pleading screams in your left ear. And especially not with the barrage of enthusiastic questions in your right.

You are in the company of Duncan Irving Blaine (referred to gratingly as Dib), and you very much wish you were not. Though you do your best to throw up a shield of curt one-word answers, he just keeps going.

"Scott!" he says, and you can't decide between ripping out his throat or your ears. "Say, I can't believe I never asked." You can't either. "Have you heard of the Wind Court?"

Have you heard of the Wind Court? Several answers come to mind, and none of them work. 'Sure I have. You have a bounty out for my head.' 'Of course. They're one-quarter regular people over their head and three-quarters self-righteous psychos.'

"No," you say.

You'd bet your life Duncan has a great whopping smile on his face. "Really! Nothing at all?"

You're committed now. "No."

"Well!" You recieve a hearty pound on the back. "Scott, my friend... what a piece of luck! I'm a member!"


"Right?! Now, look. You're probably not down here by choice, right?"

You are.

"And aren't you tired of all the strangeness? There's nothing right or natural down here, Scott, there hasn't been for a long time. Don't you want things to be normal?"

He'll never say it, but 'if you don't...' is implicit. You hate courtiers so godsdamn much.

"Yep." Your hands are balled into tight fists. You hide them behind your back.

Duncan sounds relieved. "Right! Just like any regular person. You know, Lex was all..." He shifts his voice to a higher register. "...'Look, guys! It's Arledge Graves!', but I knew that was ridiculous, right? I was all..." Inexplicably, he deepens his voice to portray himself. "...'No way! I know these guys are clean!'"

"Oh." You can barely contain your contempt. "...Thanks."

"Ever heard of the guy?"

You were not expecting that.

>[A1] You've, uh, you've met the guy.
>[A2] You've heard of him, sure.
>[A3] Nope.
>[A4] Change the subject! Say, what are you... folks, uh, doing out here?
>[A5] Write-in.

[A1] or [A2]:

>[B1] And he's very, uh, nice. Really doesn't deserve... being wanted, you know.
>[B2] He was very... dangerous. You really should stay away from him. Far away. Please.
>[B3] Seemed, um, normal. What's all the fuss?
>[B4] Write-in.
>[A3] Nope.
> Is he famous or something?
God I hope we aren't famous

You are going to have to lie regardless, so you figure it's best to keep it short. The more you talk, the more chance there is of you saying something regrettable.

"Um," you say. "No. Should I...?"

The screams break the short silence that should have followed. Duncan appears to be weighing his words.

"No," he says. "Well, maybe. I wouldn't be surprised! But no, it's kinda... specific, I guess. But you should still know."

Of course you know. You just want to hear what he's been told.

Duncan drops his voice so low you actually have to lean in to hear it. "They say," he says, "Eight or nine years ago. He murdered an entire delegation. Never been found."

He waits for your reaction. You wait for the rest.

"Um," you say when none comes. "That's it?"

"I don't actually know that much, sorry. But that's bad, right?"

You were ready to be outraged. You were fully prepared to seethe at how wrong he was, how corrupt the Court was, at how your name has been slandered for a cause... but while he is wrong, it's just... factually wrong. It was seven years, and they were dead when you arrived. Your catharsis is unachieved.

Your bad mood intensifies.

"That's bad, right?" He sounds unsure, like if you don't agree it could be true that mass murder is a good thing. "Scott?"


"Yes! But don't go looking, okay? Arledge Graves is a magician."

You hate courtiers, because they never say what they mean. You need your catharsis. You need him to be deeply wrong, and to spell it out just for you.

"What're those?"

"What--" If only you could see his face. "What're-- well. Well. They're... they're not human."

This is good.

"Sure, they look it. But Scott, I've seen it. Their insides are all gone. They can't feel. And sometimes they drink the seawater, to try to feel, and sometimes they give it up and accept they're just animals. And Scott-- they kill. They always kill. They need the blood, Scott."

"I suppose they eat people? Sacrifice children? To the dark, dead gods and whatnot?"

"Both and more. I hope you never meet one, truly."

He does. He really, truly, hopes you never meet one. Do your eyes betray your feelings? Does he see your mouth twitch up at the corner?

You hate Duncan so much.

Gods. You don't even remember what you were doing-- you've just been walking automatically and ignoring the screams.

Which have stopped, replaced with ragged muttering. Glory be to the 8.

>[1] You have never stopped being Arledge Graves. It may be best to find out what Duncan's brought you along for.
>[2] You are Ellery Routh. The white is now murky grey.
>[3] Write-in.
>[1] You have never stopped being Arledge Graves. It may be best to find out what Duncan's brought you along for.
Might as well get a read on the situation
Ellery needs his sleepies right now.

Duncan, satisfied, immediately launches back into another round of questions. Where are you from? South of here (true). No, like, what pillar? 2 (true). How old are you? 34 (true enough). Haha, man, you look pretty good (thanks). It's exhausting, and you worry each time he's going to put two and two together and a knife to your throat.

It never comes. You aren't sure if he cares about the answers, or just asks the questions to fill space.

You pounce when he stops to take a breath. "Boy," you say... and halt the sentence right there. What kind of a man is Scott? Clearly he says things like "boy", and potentially "I declare". Possibly "howdy". You don't like Scott. You don't want to be Scott.

"Boy," Scott continues, entirely out of your control. You cough. "Ahem. Boy, it's... it... sure is lucky you found us when you did. Did you say where you were headed?"

"I think so, but I don't mind saying again! Same as you. Crabs called a favor in."

The day keeps worsening.

"Any idea why? We never got a straight answer."

"You and me both, pal."

And they don't know what's going on. Fantastic. Fantastic.

"We'll find out, I guess," you say, and the casual chummy shape the words take is reprehensible. "In that case, where are we heading now?"

He punches your shoulder. "Firewood! Gosh, Scott, I said this. I'm on firewood duty. Lexy and Helen are out finding some grub, which... in retrospect is maybe not the best choice, but too late now, huh? Hey, you know where the trees are?"

You're hung up on the first word.


"Aw, call me Dib. Duncan's Dec, 'kay?"

"...Dun- Dib. We're underwater." There's leafire, but that's not containable. Anything else isn't Court-approved. "Firewood?"

"Don't worry about it! Now, really, do you see anything? Trees?"

You can't see anything, actually, but that's not the point. The argument from earlier rings in your ears.

You'd finally managed to corner Lorne. You didn't care that he snuck off; that was expected. You cared a little that he dragged Ellery into it. But you largely cared that--

"You HELPED the fucking courtier?!"

"I was talked into it." He was infuratingly calm.

"But you did! So NOBLE of you. Now she's gonna run off and-- gods. You realize the endgame here, right?"

"So fucking what? Gr... Arledge. They're lunatics. They can't impose order on the fucking ocean; it's not possible. I don't know why you're constantly--"

And he was wrong, as usual. Fire. Proper fire, you're forced to assume, not leafire, not unreal fire.


>[1] You have to get a look... you have to see... uh. You have to confirm this. Have Duncan set your quarterstaff alight.
>[2] You're not sure your staff will burn at this point, and you don't have other wood. Help him search for a proper tree.
>[3] The last thing you want is to advance their goals. Try to lead Duncan on a wild-goose-chase.
>[4] Write-in.
The secret of fire underwater is already a thing, supposedly. Learning it for ourselves could be very very useful.

Also, I'm coming to like Scott. Boy howdy, chummin' up with a stranger over s fire sounds mighty fine 'rounds about now!
>[2] You're not sure your staff will burn at this point, and you don't have other wood. Help him search for a proper tree.

I am competent, I swear
What's this a vote for?

We voted on the option that said we have never stopped being Arledge Graves, and the first thing OP does is turn Arledge into Scott. RIOT
Rolled 61, 26, 68 + 10 = 165 (3d100 + 10)

I posted this, refreshed, saw the update, tried to amend this post... it didn't go through. What can you do?

I've gone mad with power!


Rolling for Dib's tree-hunting. He gets a +10 from your aid. DC 50.

Writing after, though expect this one to be stalled potentially significantly. Go... write your papers, or whatnot. Ahem.
>Find a tree.

You have to play along. Scott would play along. Scott just wants to see the world burn.

"I reckon," you say, and swallow hard. "I reckon... that, um, there's some around. Just keep on, um... pluggin'."

This is awful. You're going to develop a speech impediment.

Duncan doesn't notice. Or if he does, he keeps it handily out of his voice. "Keep plugging! Definitely. Just let me know, okay?"


Judging from how the sound bounces, you're walking just to the right of a cliff face. You run your fingertips up and down along it and frown as sandy particulate wedges under your nails.

"Oh gods," Ellery says distantly. You're glad he's found coherent speech. "Oh gods."

You have not yet found a tree solely through touch. Duncan has begun to whistle-- you don't recognize the tune, but it is ridiculously jaunty.

"Oh gods. Arledge."

That's you.

"Am I real?"

You're caught between pity and exasperation. One one hand, you're well aware how much it fecking sucks. On the other hand, this is baby's first existential crisis. You assumed he was past all this.

Some Scott bleeds in to your response. This is a speech impediment.

"Sure are, bucko." Bucko? "Sorry."

"I-I--" His voice cracks. "I--"

It's kind of interesting, hearing him raw instead of through obvious constant affectations. He sounds sad.

Duncan whistles. The cliff crumbles. The lack of urgency is distracting.

"Bucko? Is he okay?"

You furrow your brow. "What?"

"What? I-I didn't... shit." The walls are thrown back up in a flash. You're impressed at how well he conceals the waver in his voice. "I... sorry."

"Oh gods. Shit. Shit. What did he hear? I'm-- is Madrigal still listening? Does it still work over long distances? Is she okay? I'm screwed. I'm--"

This could prove entertaining, but it feels cruel. Better to clue him in. "You're still on."

"Yeah, I don't know how..."

It's not something you can exactly explain. "Just back off. Put... partitions between what you say, I guess. They don't have to be very good. Just present, please."

"I don't--"

"I feel like partitions are kind of, um, already a problem. Putting more up... I don't want to fracture--"

Your rust-stained fingers brush against something other than dirt. You stop in your tracks. "Duncan," you call.


"D...ib. Are these roots?"

"Oh! Yes!" He thumps you on the back, now. "Fantastic, Scott! Now, the tree... oh."


"It's, um, all the way up there. That's an issue."

That is an issue.

>[1] Cut the roots and call it a night. You don't actually care if they have a campfire or not, just that there's some fire at all.
>[2] Find a way up to the top to retrieve it. Watch the world burn.
>[3] Write-in.
>[2] Find a way up to the top to retrieve it. Watch the world burn.
Scott must be sated.
Also, are we hearing both Ellery's from yhe outside looking in? That's pretty neato
Please roll me 3 d100s-25 (-25 Blinded!) vs. DC 40 to scale this cliff!

Additionally, we are archived here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=drowned%20quest
Thread should be fine for another session or two, but I like to be sure.
Rolled 89 + 25 (1d100 + 25)

Hope to fail.
Rolled 75 - 25 (1d100 - 25)

Rolled 3 - 25 (1d100 - 25)

Wake up to needing a roll? Nice
>64, 50, 0 vs. DC 40 - Success!

No hate, just curious: why's that? More interesting result?
>64, 50, 0 vs. DC 40 - Success!

"Not really," you respond. "Give me a hot sec."

'Hot sec' doesn't even sound like Scott, who is a fictional character and doesn't sound like anyone. You need sleep or a solid slap to the face.

"If you say so!" You could start listing off bloodletting tenets and Duncan would blithely accept it. It's almost charming.

Your present condition is an obstacle, but not an unsurmountable one. You lace your fingers and stretch your arms over your head to get the ache out.

Enough. You lower them and place both hands square on the cliff-- on the outcropping weave of roots, which you had forgotten about. There's your handholds.

You boost yourself up.

"-I guess I don't... I don't like the idea that 'me' is dictated by how much fluid there is knocking around inside me-"

Ellery has started back up again. You seriously consider shutting him off, but you cannot leave him stranded with one or several Courtiers. That, as Scott would say-- someone please slap you-- would be a real dat-gum dick move.

You inch your way around what feels like a small ledge.

"-That's not... I don't think that's stupid. It's not like you have to worry about it, okay-"

The chunk of rock in your grip crumbles away, and your heart leaps into your throat. "How's it going?" Duncan calls as you scrabble for a replacement.

"-I don't know! I kind of assumed there was some abstract concept of me, like, separate from everything else. But there's not, is there? It's just... I could feel it draining-"

If you could see, you'd be up this in a minute. Instead, you're forced to take it in tiny steps. It's more tedious than frightening.

"-Yeah, well, I don't know why I'm arguing either! I don't have anything better to do-"

"Please stop," you interject, and in the moment of distraction lose your footing. Duncan yelps. You flounder...

But find a foothold just as your arms are about to give out. The top is here. You've made it.

You lay there for a second and collect your thoughts.

"Get back," you shout down to Duncan, finally, as you lift yourself to your feet. "Let me just find the switch."

The switch is half-buried in the dirt at the very base of the trunk. The tree cleaves smoothly in two when you flip it and topples over the edge. Duncan yelps again in alarm as it splinters on the ground, but he doesn't sound hurt. Success.

You slide down the roots to the ground.

"Arledge." You sigh.

"Tired?" Duncan says. "I bet."

"...Gods. What's the point? How do you go on, knowing-"

>[1] No matter how it originates, the end result is... you. There's no practical difference, so you're free to ignore it.
>[2] It's better this way, actually. You aren't bound to some imaginary conception of what you are. It's liberating.
>[3] If he wants to get all technical, there's no "point" to any of this. But that's no way to live. You go on because you must.
>[4] What did he see?
>[5] Write-in.
Arledge shouldn't be forced to watch the world burn ;-;
If I'm reading Arledge's character right, something along the lines of...
>[5] Write in: "It's the decisions that you make that decide who you are, anyway. We know who you are through the way you act, even if that way is frustrating and stupid sometimes. The same should apply to you. You're you through who you are and what you do. That was always the case."
>>[1] No matter how it originates, the end result is... you. There's no practical difference, so you're free to ignore it.
>"It's the decisions that you make that decide who you are, anyway. We know who you are through the way you act, even if that way is frustrating and stupid sometimes. The same should apply to you. You're you through who you are and what you do. That was always the case."

You collect an armful of wood. Duncan is whistling once again, off-key.

"You're looking at it wrong."

Regardless of your personal thoughts on the matter, you'd like to move past this as fast as possible. This means avoiding the question.

"What? I-- I mean... yeah, uh, I figured you'd say something like that."

You're miffed. "Oh."

"Yeah." Ellery sounds a little apologetic. "You know. You'd be, all, 'Oh. That's wrong. Here's something, um, really meaningful and cosmic.' And then I'd go 'oh, thanks, I'm no longer questioning the root of my existence'. Is that where we're going, or...?"

His pretty-good impression of you only adds insult to injury. You struggle to return to form.

"I haven't said it yet, so I don't... Okay. Nobody cares about where 'you' come from. It's irrelevant."

"I care."

"You shouldn't. What matters is what you do, okay? It's not you, it's your decisions-- and how they, uh, impact others. If you behave recklessly, if you throw yourself into peril, that's what's you. You are a reckless person because of it."

Your arms bristle with sticks and scraps of exploded tree. "Looks good," Duncan says. "Hope Lex is back by now."

Your "yup" is drowned out by Ellery, dashing your hopes of browbeating him into silence.

"Okay, first: hey. And second: that's not cosmic. That's just dumb."

"I never claimed it was... cosmic."

"Sure, you could say someone's reckless because they do reckless things. But they're doing those things for a reason. They do them because they're a reckless person to begin with. They have reckless blood."

You feel like you failed somewhere. "That's besides the--"

"You're just describing a circle! They do things because they're this, which makes them do the thing. But there's a starting point, right? People don't just come up out of, of whole cloth, Arledge. I want to know what made the first stitch."

"That's a tortured metaphor."

"I'm not getting the meaningful in here."

You're just about done. "Fine! Look at it this way. There's a person who's reckless in-- blood, I guess. In nature. But maybe he learned his lesson, or whatever. Despite his instincts, he's always cautious. Is he still a reckless person?"

"Yes! He's just hiding who he is."

You're inclined to agree, actually, but that would run counter to your whole argument. "People can change."

"They can change, sure, but they can't change everything. He'd be a different person. He can't escape who he is, Arledge. He can't."

The conversation is about something else now. "You should try."

"This isn't about me. It's about Reckless Man."

"Reckless Man should try. It's pointless to not try because it might not work, Ellery. You don't know if it will until you do."

"It's not about me-- did you fall in the dirt or something?"

You look down instinctively. "What?"

"You're coming around the corner. You're covered in orange stuff. Hello."

"No, I-- we collected firewood."


You're unsatisfied and must look it. Duncan ceases whistling. "Whatcha thinking about?"

>[1] WWSSTT: What Would Scott Say To That?
>[2] You don't know anything about Duncan Irving Blaine. You don't really want to. But he's right here, and will be right here for the foreseeable future, so you should probably find out.
>[3] Press for intel. What's going on at the Court these days?
>[4] Write-in.
They make any progress on finding that nasty Arledge Graves fellow?

And what are underwater trees like, that they have switches that can be flipped to explode them and cover you in orange?
You're orange because you climbed an orange cliff and got rock dust all over your clothes, the tree exploded because it's already weak and it fell a significant distance onto hard ground.

As far as you know, that's just how trees work. But you're not a tree expert or anything.
Whoops yeah, switches that cleave them cleanly in two. My b.
>[1] WWSSTT: What Would Scott Say To That?
This option is frankly just too entertaining not to pick
Rolled 1 (1d2)

Rolling between these two then writing. Last for today.
Running tomorrow to finish out the thread! ETA ~2:30-3 PST and hopefully it'll be steady updates rather than stop and go.
Spent 30 minutes looking for my laptop to no avail. I'll see you guys tomorrow with the update.
This is gonna be on the late side. I'll post on the qtg when it's up.
>Gather intel.
>On yourself.

As much as you hate to make conversation, this could prove useful. You could ask Duncan anything and he'd be happy to answer.

"Not much," you say. "Just, uh, why'd you... mistake me for this Graves person? Do you have a description, or... If he killed everybody, how would you know? There'd be no witnesses."

You know there had to have been survivors, or you wouldn't be in this mess. You don't know who.

"You'd think so, right? But I guess there was one, at least. A woman-- Rose-something. Rosaline. Rosamund. Something like that. She's a vidame now. Makes you want to survive a massacre, know what I mean?"

He elbows you cheekily, but you're too wrapped up in yourself to notice. Your slanderer has a name and face. She is alive.

You were over this. You had told yourself you were over this. You would leave them alone, and vice versa, and it would be done. But you're never over things, really, and not when you have a name...

You clear your throat. "Ahem. So she gave a description?"

"Oh, sure! Stocky guy, maybe early thirties. Dirty blonde hair in a ponytail. You can see the confusion, right, bud? Sorry about that."

It's undoubtedly you. "Yeah. Any progress on finding him?"

"That's not really my department! Ask Lex when she gets back. She's more in the bounty business."

It's Lex who seems the worst of the four, so that's unlikely. "Thanks."

"Sure! Now, set this all down here. I'll get the party started."

You're barely listening. A name...

You are Ellery Routh.

You feel like shit. You've had this thought more than once over the week, but those times were lies. Those were naps in the sunshine.

No. You really, truly, feel like shit, and if there's a way to feel more shit than this you'd love to see it.

It's not just one-dimensional shit, is the thing. It's not like you're just in pain, or just exhausted, or just scattered, or just broken. It's all of the above. It's check every box on the government form of "feel like shit". And something is gone.

Sometimes I feel like you're vulgar just for the sake of it.

Sometimes you feel like he's pedantic just for the sake of it. Isn't that funny?

Really: you feel like you've been set on fire without any of the perks. You're not warm, for one (where did that go?). You're not dry. Nobody can roast beach rats on you.

You hurt everywhere, but mostly where you're missing all the skin and possibly a couple ribs. And not at all in the head. This is scary. Your head should hurt.

Is that's what's gone? No. Maybe. You're not sure. You've never been sure, not really, and you're not sure you're ever gonna be sure.

>|COCKSURE cracked!|

Arledge treads in a zigzag in front of you, arms crossed behind his back. Dib's busy arranging firewood(??) into an elaborate pyramid. Helen and Lexy haven't returned. Dec hasn't blinked the whole time he's watched you, which is... the whole time.

You're not super happy that Arledge's ignoring you, but with how you left things it may be for the best. You've decided he's kind of a smarmy dick. Maybe you're not much better-- but it feels good to think it, anyways. It's better than what you have been thinking.

>[1] Write-in.
>[2] Watch Dib build the... fire? It's easily the most interesting thing happening, if only so you can speculate on what exactly he thinks constitutes a fire.
Underwater fires? We'll need them, since the sun in our chest apparently got torn out with the rest of it.
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Dib whistles "The Black Seagull" as he arranges the sticks. You think it's "The Black Seagull", at least: it's so off-key it might as well be a different song altogether.

You've very rarely started fires with actual wood-- driftwood is usually too waterlogged to produce flame. Still, you're fairly certain this isn't correct. Is the whole thing supposed to lean so much to the right? Why is it studded with arbitrary clusters of twigs? Why is he scuffing concentric circles into the dirt?

"You're doing it wrong," says Dec, and at the same time comes a cutting female voice-- "Helen couldn't find anything," Lexy spits. She's arrived empty-handed.

"I'm not doing it wrong-- what? Nothing?"

"What do we pay you guys for? Remind me." Dec keeps his eyes on you.

"You pay us diddly-squat, Edward, and it's dead night. What didja want from me, huh? Conjure up some--"

"I can't see your gesturing, Helen, don't go to the effort. I'm busy--"

Your eyes can barely flick between the speakers fast enough. "Oh! So you're watching this guy and not Arledge Graves. Okay. I see how it is, Dec--"

"You just went through this! You just..." He turns his shoulders towards Lexy, but his eyes hold fast on you. "If I don't watch him, for all I know he's going to bleed through the bandages and I won't remember he's even here."

What? You're pretty distinct, you think, laying here pale and shirtless and bloody. "Arledge," you say, "what does he--"

Arledge, midstep, jumps half out of his skin. "SHIT! Wh... Ellery."

"Yeah, uh, it is. Did you--"

"Doing okay, Scott?" Dib pauses the last of his stick-stacking. "What's the deal?"

"Howdy," Arledge says, and breaks into a coughing fit.

rest in ~an hour I'm sorry! additionally: have an MS paint map of the area, for no reason other than I think it's useful and I'm weak at describing that. Let me know if you like it and I'll make more.
I didn't realize firestarting would be such a lengthy process.

Also I vote to call Arledge by name at moments he least expects it.
Time "skip the chance to do anything personal if desired and move on to actual events; which I would normally do seamlessly in narrative but didn't want to delay the start time further by making the post double as long". Actual time passed is negligible.

Back to writing.
Godsdamn. Look at him go.

You have no idea what's happening. Neither does Helen.

"So," she says briskly. "Let's ignore that. How's the fire lookin', Dib?"

"Almost!" He places a final twig on the top of the whole monstrosity and raises his hands. You're not sure how it doesn't topple. "There we go. Wish we had something to cook on it, but..."

Helen is not impressed. "Light it and then we'll see, wontcha?"


Arledge's face is red with exertion. "What- what, are they doing it? Are they lighting the fire?"

You're sorely tempted to say his name again and see what happens. You do not. "I... I guess. Are you okay?"

"You surprised me. Nevermind. Listen... tell me what they do, okay? All the details."



So you narrate begrudgingly: Dib retrieves something from his pocket, and that's all you can say: it's fully transparent, like the little vial Madrigal had, and you can't make out the edges. He goes to find something else, but Dec stops him and holds up a red-stained square. "Saved this," he says, "No need to waste..."

"You don't need to repeat what he says," Arledge inturrupts ungratefully. "I can hear it."

"That was a good impression, though?"


So- you're behind. Dib balances the square on the very top of the pile and raises the transparent-thing above it. He fidgets with its position when nothing happens. "It's a cloudy night," he says to nobody in particular. "Might not work."

"That was also pretty good."

"Tha-" the square is alight. It burns... it burns like a normal fire, sort of angry and, and, orange. Dib drops it abruptly onto the kindling, which goes up all at once in a great conflagration.

"You can stop," says Arledge, slowly, shakily. "I can... I can, I can feel it." He stands wan and paralyzed on the rim of the firelight. He's stopped coughing.

He's the only one who looks ill-affected, but everyone's transfixed. For a long time, the only sound is the crackling of the fire.

"Alright!" Dib shatters the silence. "I think this'll be a good one. As my co-logger, Scott, you're on feeding duty. Keep this thing going, okay?"

Arledge doesn't respond.

"Okay! That's a yes. We don't have any food, but heck, that's... that's fine. That's okay. I think we should say grace anyways. Helen?"

"Why's it always me?"

"It's not... you're oldest... okay. No. Lexy? Say grace?"

Lexy is squatting uncomfortably close to you. "No."

"...Okay!" There's a tinge of annoyance, you think, creeping into Dib's voice. "I will do it! Again! Here we go. Ahem.

We pledge to the wind, so we may breathe again..."

"So we may see it again," everyone echoes dutifully.

"We pledge to the fire, so we may live again..."

"So we may live again..."

"We pledge to the blade, so we may sleep again..."

"Sleep again..."

"And we pledge to the King, so she may die again."

"To the King." "To the King." "To the King."

Arledge looks like he's going to be sick. You feel like you're going to be sick. It's not the grace, which was a little weird but far from nauseating.

It's real fire, isn't it? It's actual fire. It's not internal, or metaphorical, or alive. It's just fire, and its heat loosens your lungs.

You cough, and though it sends a million needles skewering through your chest it's the best fucking cough you've ever had. And then you cough and cough and cough and cough and it starts to lose its luster.

Arledge rises from his stupor. "What the fuck," he says.

You laugh through the cough and sound like you're going to die. Maybe your laugh has always sounded like that. Who knows! Who cares! You have one!

>[1] "Write-in!"
>Pantomime for a glass of water, or something

>Ask if Arledge knows why you're coughing when your lungs are apparently made of glass

>Ask Arledge how they lit an underwater fire. It has to be magic, right? Don't these guys hate magic?
You figure your first words should be important. Something pithy. Something weighty.

"Water," you choke. "Water."


"Yeah, I didn't hear."

"I think," Lexy says helpfully, "he said 'water'."

Everyone processes this.

"We don't have any, uh, fresh water." Dib is just as helpful. "There's plenty of seawater. I don't know if that's what you want, or..."

Maybe if you close your eyes you'll have said something else. You attempt it.

"Well," says Dec, "At least we know he's not Arledge Graves."

Everyone laughs at your expense.

You've managed to defuse the atmosphere, somehow, and a raucous chatter begins. Arledge sits down on your opposite side. He continues to look terrible.

"Um," you say aloud, and have to stop yourself. "Um. What happened? Why can I--"

He smiles grimly. "I don't know."

"Okay. Um, was my description helpful? Do you know why there's a fire... It's real, right?"

"It's real."

He massages his unseeing eyes.

"It's FUCKING real, Ellery; I can feel it in my bones. It's not RIGHT, but it's real. It's real."

"Oh. But I thought their thing was, um, no magic. No weird stuff."

"I don't know! Maybe it's not... gods. Who's to say fire doesn't burn underwater? Have you ever tried? Maybe it's just normal. Or maybe they made it normal."

You're serious about the terrible, but it's a strange kind of terrible. It's not as if he looks different, exactly. It's you: you notice more in the firelight. The crows' feet. The hollow cheeks. The sallow skin.

He looks older.

"I feel older." He sounds tired. "Maybe literally, I don't know. But Ellery-- we have to go. I can't stay here."



"I can't stand."

"I," he says, resignedly, "will help. It's fine. We just have to use tact."

He rises, tactfully. Lexy points something at him.

"Um," you ask. "What's that?"

She looks down at it in confusion. "It's... it's a gun."

Arledge sits immediately and wordlessly. You don't understand.

"Lexy..." Dec is exasperated.

She brushes the hair out of her eyes and visibly swallows. "Arledge Graves, if you move I'll shoot."

"Lex. Calm down. That's Scott."

Her smile is fervid. "Look at him, dangit. He's avoiding the fire, huh? That's not a normal person. And e looks exactly like the description I walk by every day."

"Lexy. You're still scrambled, okay? Put the gun down and let the man stand."

"You." She swivels the gun towards you. "That's Arledge Graves. Who are you, huh? Start talking or I'll shoot."

(Choices next post!)
>[1] Keep to the story! You're Elliot... something, and you don't know about any Arledge Graves, and you're badly hurt, and...
>[2] Fabricate a more believable lie! You're still Elliot, but you have something to hide that's... believably secret but more innocuous!
>[3] Babble! She wants you to start talking? You will talk about anything! How's the weather? Boy, how about that fire! My chest hurts! What's glass!
>[4] Fall on the sword! Okay! Okay! He doesn't know anything! You're the magician here!
>[5] Tell the truth! About you, at least!
>[6] Write-in!
>[3] Babble! She wants you to start talking? You will talk about anything! How's the weather? Boy, how about that fire! My chest hurts! What's glass!
Oh this is gonna end badly
Roll me 1 3d100 + 10 (+10 Loudmouth) vs. DC 50 to pull this off!
I got this, don't worry
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Rolled 56, 55, 74 + 10 = 195 (3d100 + 10)

File: mission status sick.png (131 KB, 500x500)
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>66, 65, 84 vs. DC 50 - Critical Success!

You slip into a practiced routine.

"How's the weather?"

"What?" Lexy fingers the grip.

"You, you said it was cloudy? Right? That's really interesting. How do you know when you can't see if there's clouds or-or not?"

"It's darker than normal! Pretty easy. What's hard is the rain--"


There's usually more softening-up involved, but you'll be damned if you're not gonna take this opportunity and run with it. "Really? You can tell if it's raining way up there?"

"Yeah!" Dib scoots sideways so he can see you better. "The fish swarm near the surface. Makes life a lot easier, let me tell you."

"Dib! I'm trying to..."

"I haven't actually seen any fish. I thought maybe they were all dead. We've been catching less and less."

"Oh, no! Maybe not where you guys are. We lure 'em in ourselves. Were you a fisherman?"

"Not really. Knew a couple, though. Weird guys." They were weird guys. Spent too much time with the salt.

"Dib! You're talking to a potential criminal!"

"You knew them? That's so cool! Did you do an outreach thing with the lowsers? Pick up some trash?"

"No, actually, I, uh, lived there."


Dib's ecstatic. Lexy's furious. Everyone else is bemused.

"Yeah. Uh, 4. Whole life."

"Pillar 4? Level zero, or higher?"

You don't know where this is going and don't really care. "Zero, I guess, but we never call...ed it that. It's just lowest level."



"Guys!" He leans back over his shoulder and points at you. "This guy's from 4-0! That's where the--"

"Who gives a darn?"

"Who gives a-- Helen! That's the King's territory! That's her... you could've met her, man! That's crazy!"

"It's not crazy. There's only so many people down there."

"Look, Dec, you know perfectly well I mean crazy-awesome, not crazy-impossible, so getting on my ass about it is crazy. As in stupid.

"I think you should be more precise in your language, that's all. And don't swear."

"I will swear all I godsdarn want!"

"'Gods', seriously? Now you're just purposefully--"

"ENOUGH!" Arledge clambers to his feet. "Enough! Are you going to shoot us or what?"

You agree with the sentiment, if not the wording.

"If you shoot... this guy-" Dib is in semi-hysterics.

"Elliot," you interject.

"If you shoot Elliot, I'll shoot myself. I'll shoot myself, Lex. He maybe knew the King! You can't kill that!"

"It's bad form, Lex," Dec agrees. You guess. "You can't be messy about it. You know better."

"Didn't even bother t' question him first." Helen, uninterested, appears to be filing her nails with a loop of creature skin.

Elexy abruptly bursts into quivery tears. You have completely lost the plot, but at least dying no longer appears to be in the forecast.

"I-I'm a, a failure," she chokes out between sobs. "Can't- can't even kill Arledge Graves...... can't even kill- can't even kill some, some- some dead guy....... What kinda- what kinda business am I in, can't even kill....!"

"Hey." Dec takes her by the shoulder and lowers the gun. "Hey. You're hurt. You're not thinking straight."

She responds with more tears.

She's kind of cute. You should comfort her.

She literally probably just tried to kill you. Also, you like how he comes out now and not when you're in mortal danger or crippling existential crisis.

I've given up on the big stuff. You're not gonna listen. It's offhand comments all day, every day. Like now. I mean, she didn't kill you.

She is kind of cute, in a murderous, emotional sort of way. But your entire chest is missing. You don't think it's a good time.

Also, flying as your own wingman is weird.

Suit yourself. This is a golden opportunity you're passing on by.


"So," says Arledge, awkwardly. "As I was going to say, um, I reckon- I reckon we ought to hit the road. Thanks much for your hospitality, uh, mostly. Enjoy."

"You're welcome here," Dib offers. "No worries! There's space!"

"Thanks, but... we're okay. We'll see you there, I reckon. I suppose."

"We will! Okay, then. Goodbye, Scott and Elliot."

He waits for a chorus.

"Come on, guys. Be nice."

"So long," offers Dec. Helen squints and says nothing. "I'm gonna, I'm gonna... I'll kill you," sobs Elexy, and waves the gun limply in the air.

You'll cross that bridge when you come to it. For now: you're free.

Okay! So much for more steady updates. I am going to sleep.

This is the last session of this thread (we're on 10), but I haven't solidified a start date for the next one. It'll be no earlier than Thursday or Friday, at least, and potentially as late as next Monday. Check my Twitter, the discord, or the qtg to stay updated.

I hope you guys are enjoying yourselves a little more now that things are starting to chug along. If you have any questions/comments/critiques, I'm always and forever open either in this thread or in any of the mediums above. Or praise. Tell me I'm good. Tell me I'm good. Tell me I'm good.

Good night!
Thanks for running!

You're good!

the ok side of good
We've met 2 women underwater whose names begin with E and they both hate Arledge. Is it a curse?

Also how bad will Elexy feel when she realizes she had the chance to kill Arledge and let it slip away?

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