https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRXycUEVQto"Listen to the heartbeat of the beginning"The world is covered in ice. Thick white clouds obscure the sky, preventing the sun's warmth from reaching the surface. Blizzards howl between the white sky and the white earth. The winds are strong enough to pick up the unwary and make them disappear. Snow limits vision to barely more than a few meters. Giant waves and icebergs make it impossible to navigate at sea. Very few things can survive in the harsh conditions and below-freezing temperature of this inhospitable place. Humans avoid it as best as they can.It was not always so. That is, if you believe the old tales. Myths tell of a long bygone era, when the sun could be seen by all who were bound to earth's surface. An era when the surface was green with plants as far as the eye could see, beasts roamed and fought humanity for supremacy. Humans, united in their struggle, could walk outside without protective gear and not risk freezing to death. But you're not even sure if you believe those tales, the world they speak of just sounds so different to your own.Your world is far from that pleasant dream. Humans are the undisputed masters of the glaciers, but have divided themselves into two. Magic, a gift by Lavos, God of Magic, is the dividing line. For that gift was not given to everyone.Those who can wield magic call themselves the Enlightened Ones. With powerful sorceries they wrested four islands and let them soar above the clouds. Thus was founded the Magical Kingdom of Zeal. A true, eternal paradise, powered by harnessing the unobstructed energy of the sun. With calm, warm weather all year around and artificial servants, magically created, taking care of all manual labour, the Enlightened Ones, dressed in the finest if cumbersome robes, want for nothing as they zealously pursue the advancement of their Gift under the kind, wise guidance of their monarch, Queen Zeal.And underneath this paradise the rest of humanity ekes out a meager existence. Those without the ability to use magic, the Earthbound Ones as they are called, live underground in the village of Algetty, cultivating moss and mushrooms, occasionally venturing in the harsh surface to hunt the hardy beasts. Dressed in rags and furs, necessary to ward off the bitter cold, the Earthbound Ones have no hope of ever seeing that paradise above the clouds.As for you? You were>An Enlightened One, born and raised in luxury on the floating islands of the Magical Kingdom of Zeal. Magic was your birthright.>An Earthbound One, born deep in the caves of Algetty. Your life was full of hardship and magic would be forever denied to you.This is a Chrono Trigger quest that I've been thinking about for a while. The setting will be familiar to everyone who has played the game. I will try to explain everything as it comes up so that anyone can follow along. Though not everything will be the same as it was in canon.
>>5363160>An Earthbound One, born deep in the caves of Algetty. Your life was full of hardship and magic would be forever denied to you.
>>5363160>An Enlightened One, born and raised in luxury on the floating islands of the Magical Kingdom of Zeal. Magic was your birthright.
>>5363160>An Enlightened One, born and raised in luxury on the floating islands of the Magical Kingdom of Zeal. Magic was your birthright.I want to fireball some nerds.
>>5363160>An Enlightened One, born and raised in luxury on the floating islands of the Magical Kingdom of Zeal. Magic was your birthright.Can't wait to lose it all
>>5363160>>An Earthbound One, born deep in the caves of Algetty. Your life was full of hardship and magic would be forever denied to you.
>>5363160>An Earthbound One, born deep in the caves of Algetty. Your life was full of hardship and magic would be forever denied to you.Time to nig out with the unga bunga gang.
>>5363160>>An Enlightened One, born and raised in luxury on the floating islands of the Magical Kingdom of Zeal. Magic was your birthright.
>An Earthbound One, born deep in the caves of Algetty. Your life was full of hardship and magic would be forever denied to you.>>5363239>>5363247>>5363323>>5363368>>5363650>An Enlightened One, born and raised in luxury on the floating islands of the Magical Kingdom of Zeal. Magic was your birthright.>>5363264>>5363269>>5363294>>5363438>>5363543>>5363687I'm gonna call it here and start writing. Living in the clouds wins by one.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igEGKynYxRYYou were an Enlightened One, born and raised in luxury on the floating islands of the Magical Kingdom of Zeal. Magic was your birthright. Your father was a battlemage, serving with distinction in the Zeal Expeditionary Corps. Your mother, Sara, was a renowned scholar and a healer. Both were overjoyed to have you. As you later learned, it was a troubled pregnancy, and not even the most advanced medicines and healing arts of the Magical Kingdom were able to help. Yet both of you lived and suffered no ill effects. It was nothing short of a miracle, one that was attributed to Lavos's blessing by some.You were named...>Aeneas>Boreas>Jacob>JuliusYour early childhood was a happy one. Your family lived in Kajar, the City of Magic, home to scholars seeking to advance the Magical Arts as well as the main staging ground for the Kingdom's army. After her recovery, your mother abandoned her scholarly pursuits to dedicate herself to her family, but she never refused those who came seeking her healing expertise. Her old colleagues considered it a waste and kept unsuccessfully trying to convince her to return for a time. You always felt uneasy around her Nu assistant. There was something unsettling about its round, blue form, its giant face, its lack of a head and ungainly movements. Your father kept training himself, all the better to defend his family and the Kingdom. He would occassionaly be sent to expeditions down below, always coming back with another exciting tale of adventure and danger in the cold wasteland. Your parents were loving, both to each other and towards you. Their open, and frequent, displays of affection embarrassed you at the time, but those were some memories that you would later look back on fondly.On your sixth birthday, you were escorted to the ceremonial chamber of the Revealing, the ritual that would show what your element was. You hoped that it would be...>Light: A noble element with spells that deal Light damage to opponents, as if calling down the judgement of a deity, in addition to being able to heal wounds. >Shadow: a versatile element that offers many powerful spells at the cost of its difficulty to truly master, resistance to Shadow magic is very rare.>Fire: An almost entirely offensive element that focuses on rapid destruction and sheer firepower, easy to learn but hard to control.>Water: The traditional element of the healers of Zeal, those with this magic are able to easily learn to use it to cure others of almost any wound, however it can be used offensively too, should it be required.>Wind: A mostly offensive element that uses the wind to attack, it is more effective against flying enemies and has a focus on spells to increase mobility.>Earth: A mostly defensive element that uses Earth in order to grant defensive and offensive buffs as well as attack using the Earth.
>>5364061>Joshua>WindWait, is our mom Schala?
>>5364061>GaiusThe most chad of greek names.>Water: The traditional element of the healers of Zeal, those with this magic are able to easily learn to use it to cure others of almost any wound, however it can be used offensively too, should it be required.Hear me out, anons.Mom is a fuckin expert in this shit, so we have a readily available trainer to optimize our initial gains with it.From then on we can abuse the SHIT out of healing magic to get our body into the absolute peak physical condition so that we're not a squishy mage but in fact a muscle wizard.Healing magic will absolutely be fantastic to augment our physical capabilities. And I'm sure if we delve into it enough we can use it to buff ourselves in other ways...
>>5364072I like the way you think. As a tip for the people who haven't played CT, magic kind of sucks, relatively. It's best use is to boost physical attacks because otherwise these just outperform spells in damage, it's only more convenient when you are killing multiple weak enemies with a single spell and even then your fighters can do the same in most occasions. Healing magic isn't great since healing items are plentiful and cheap, statuses are kind of useless and the good ones that you can apply to yourself? You are better off equiping magical items that do the same without wasting turns.
>>5364072>+1 to this anon, i like his idea
>>5364061>Gaius>Shadow: a versatile element that offers many powerful spells at the cost of its difficulty to truly master, resistance to Shadow magic is very rare.
>>5364061>Shadow: a versatile element that offers many powerful spells at the cost of its difficulty to truly master, resistance to Shadow magic is very rare>Aeneas
>Joshua>>5364067>>5364113>Gaius>>5364072>>5364098>>5364133>>5364229>>5365117>Aeneas>>5364219>Wind: A mostly offensive element that uses the wind to attack, it is more effective against flying enemies and has a focus on spells to increase mobility.>>5364067>>5364113>Water: The traditional element of the healers of Zeal, those with this magic are able to easily learn to use it to cure others of almost any wound, however it can be used offensively too, should it be required.>>5364072>>5364098>>5364229>Shadow: a versatile element that offers many powerful spells at the cost of its difficulty to truly master, resistance to Shadow magic is very rare.>>5364133>>5364219>>5365117Gaius it is. It's actually a Roman name, not Greek, but it doesn't really matter.We're tied on the element though.
>>5365193Close! It’s the greek version of the roman name Caius.
Let me see if I can convince any of the lads to swap over to water.Water is an incredibly versatile element. In-game, we see that it has access to Ice for damage (and in story terms could probably be used for a lot of trickier shit or for buying time by sealing enemies/areas for a little bit), Cure for the main strategy to get physical gains, Arise for literally resurrecting someone on death's door, and the all-important Haste to be way faster at acting than our enemies.The ease of learning Water just means it'll be a lot quicker for us to get into the true depths of what Water can offer. Or, alternatively, we can learn our basic Water spells then start learning from other elements of magic - Magus proves that you're NOT restricted solely to your affinity, you can learn things outside of it with some effort.
>>5365241Without trying to sway anyone for or against, I'm fine with any element winning here, I can confirm that all of them will indeed have more uses than they did in game, but also that they won't work exactly as they did in game. Water, specifically, won't give you access to Haste, it never made sense to me that it did. But you'll get plenty of goodies either way.
>>5365290I have two guesses for why Haste would be associated with Water.One would be that it's basically supercharging your perception, which sounds viable enough if you can already heal someone with water. Biological over-clocking for a bit. Or I guess literal overclocking with Robo...actually, why the fuck can it heal Robo? The fuck?My other guess is that it might tie deeper into the thematics of Water in CT. Both water and ice are associated with quite a few powerful things in CT and CC (i'm looking at you, Frozen Flame), and the time portals open up to an ocean-like trip, and Lavos himself is fought in some kind of an ocean.
>>5364113>>5365241I'm willing to change to water for tie breaking purposes
You were named Gaius, a name chosen by your parents to signify the joy that you had brought to them. You rather liked it, and what it meant.As you approached the chamber, you were not sure what you hoped for. Was it Shadow, the element of your father, Notus? You couldn't help but be influenced by his stories. Cloaking himself in shadows, blinding monsters before smacking them with his staff, or just blowing them up with a Dark Bomb, you couldn't deny that you found the idea appealing.Or Water? It was the traditional element of the healers of Zeal, the same element that your mother had. You had watched first hand as wounded and sick would come seeking her help. Those that had lost their health and their hope would regain both with the help of her spells and potions. You could see her joy at saving people. She was happy when she helped others be happy. Was this what you wanted as well?Though if you were to be honest with yourself, you had a second, more selfish motive for liking Water. Your father's tales always had one thing in common: No matter the danger encountered, the trials he overcame, it was always the Water Mage in his squad who patched them up and made sure they all returned home. Even if you decided to follow in your father's footsteps and become a warrior like him, Water would prove invaluable.You entered the sphere full of apprehension. Your parents had been unclear on the specifics of the ritual, but had reassured you that there was nothing to be worried about. The attendants began chanting as the sphere rose in the air and lighted up with all the known elements. Earth, Water, Wind and Fire in the four cardinal directions. Shadow below and Light above. All was as it should be. Soon, you saw Water expand from its position and cover the entire sphere. Did this mean that...?A red flash. Darkness engulfed you. As you were floating in a featureless void, you began to panic. Was this supposed to happen? You could see nothing, hear nothing. Your senses stubbornly refused to work, until suddenly, you saw a red light emanate from a single point far, far in the distance. You tried to focus on it, but could make out no details. A sense of malevolence permeated you. You heard your own voice intone, without you willing it to:"From Earth springs Water""Water summons Wind""Wind makes Fire dance""In Time, Fire burns all""Fire gives out Light""In Time, Light flickers""and Light is smothered by Shadow."In Time, Shadow consumes all.No, that was wrong. Every child of Zeal knew the Elements' rhyme. Fire chases Shadow and Shadow is pierced by Light. Why were the last lines different? What-?!
You opened your eyes, lying uncomfortably on your back in the now inert sphere. Your parents had rushed to your side. Your mother quickly examined you before pulling you in a tight embrace, seemingly satisfied with the result. The attendants informed you that the result was conclusive: You were a Water Mage, and an exceptionally powerful one at that, if the reaction was anything to go by. But you didn't care about that. In your mother's arms, you knew that everything would be alright.You soon put the incident out of your mind. You were sure it was nothing to worry about, and you were excited to begin your schooling. Over the next years, you would focus on:>Studying. Your element would be easy to use, but that didn't mean you could neglect it. And besides your Magic, there were so many other interesting topics! Under your mother's tutelage, you excelled in academics.>Athletics. A healthy mind in a healthy body. Sports and martial arts came naturally to you. With your father's training, you were a cut above your peers.>Making friends. You were a charismatic kid with many friends. Even adults found it hard to resist your charm.
>>5365455>Athletics. A healthy mind in a healthy body. Sports and martial arts came naturally to you. With your father's training, you were a cut above your peers.Time to abuse healing magic to truly excel in physical progress.
>>5365455>Athletics. A healthy mind in a healthy body. Sports and martial arts came naturally to you. With your father's training, you were a cut above your peers.
>>5365455>Studying. Your element would be easy to use, but that didn't mean you could neglect it. And besides your Magic, there were so many other interesting topics! Under your mother's tutelage, you excelled in academics.
>>5365459>>5365512>>5365554>>5365562If we remain tied...Then I propose a balanced upbringing, studying just as much as we train our body. Hell, maybe even practicing magic or reading books WHILE we work out.Which, hey, suits the idea of going musclewizard just fine. Being able to heal from our training will make up for sinking in less time overall to physical conditioning.
>>5365193>It's actually a Roman name, not Greek, but it doesn't really matter.Don't make me angry, Gaius.
>>5365650If the QM allows it I'll support.
>>5365455>>Studying. Your element would be easy to use, but that didn't mean you could neglect it. And besides your Magic, there were so many other interesting topics! Under your mother's tutelage, you excelled in academics.Sorry man. Magic made me. Mage classes in RPGs made me.
>>5365650>>5365672We're no longer tied, but I'd be fine with a Balanced write-in if you want it. You have 9-10 hours before I call.>>5365654Shut up Six, you're not even real.
>>Athletics. A healthy mind in a healthy body. Sports and martial arts came naturally to you. With your father's training, you were a cut above your peers.>>5365459>>5365512>>5366199>Studying. Your element would be easy to use, but that didn't mean you could neglect it. And besides your Magic, there were so many other interesting topics! Under your mother's tutelage, you excelled in academics.>>5365554>>5365562>>5365680>>5365743You studied like hell.
You focused on studying. How else would you learn how to be a better mage? From almost the moment you learned how to read, you would constantly be found with a book in your hands. You practically devoured books on anything: Water Magic, the Theory of Magic, the relationship between the elements, more mundane topics like History, Mythology, or even Architecture. And fiction, of course. Your mother was more than happy to teach you what she knew about the human body, what could go wrong with it and how to fix it, and help you with any topic that gave you trouble. Before long, you knew enough to assist her in turn.Learned Water Manipulation ILearned Water ILearned Cure ILearned Remedy ILearned Alchemy IYour teachers were proud and expected great things from you. But your academic prowess did not come without a cost. You were respected and admired by most of your schoolmates, envied by some, but you were also kept at a distance. You had no real friends growing up, but that suited you fine. The other kids your age were so dull, and knew so little. How could they compete with the knowledge contained in a fine book, or the experience of an adult?Your father's expeditions grew longer and more frequent over the years. When he was home he would try to teach you how to use a staff, the traditional weapon of the warriors of Zeal, but defending yourself was not a topic that interested you very much. Still, you learned the basics, if little else. If your father was disappointed in your lack of martial prowess, it was something he never showed.As you approached your teenage years, you learned that the utopia you lived in was not as firm as you had thought. The Sunstone that powered everything on the floating islands was slowly being drained. It would be decades, perhaps centuries, before it completely ran out, but it was still a matter of concern. Secretly, you hoped that you would be the one to discover a solution to this problem. You dreamed of the day when your name would be compared to the wisest men of Zeal: The three gurus, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar.Alas, your secret hopes were dashed before you had even had the chance to finish forming them. Before your thirteenth birthday, the gurus, true to their reputation, discovered that solution in the form of an immense source of mana deep under the ocean - under Water, your own element! King Consort Magnus himself organized an expedition to study and secure it, even acquiring the assistance of Earthbound guides, and your father was one of the people selected to escort him. Your mother pleaded to join as well, and put her healing talents to use, but she was flatly denied. She was a civilian and she had no place in such a dangerous enterprise. Your father reassured her however. He promised he would come back, same as always. He could never stay away from you two for too long.
You will never forget the day when tragedy struck. You were in your room, engrossed in a book like usual, when you heard a knock on the front door, which you promptly ignored. Your mother would call if it was something important. You rushed downstairs when it was followed by a loud thud, only to see your mother had fainted and a blond, unfamiliar man with long, wavy hair and an eyepatch stood at the door. While you tended to her, the man excused himself and left with an infuriating smirk. When she came to, she shared the news in between sobs: The expedition had proven more dangerous than anyone had expected. Your father had broken his promise. He would not be coming back.He was not the only one. Many had perished, including the King himself. A state funeral was held for all the deceased. You two, along with the families of all who had perished, stood at the side of the royal family as Queen Zeal, her voice breaking, spoke about the heroes who had sacrificed their lives to ensure everyone else would have a future. Your mother was composed as you stood steady at her side despite the void in the pit of your stomach. Yet you couldn't help but steal glances at the girl standing next to the Queen. Princess Schala, her eyes as red and puffy as your mother's, held her little brother, Prince Janus, in her arms. She was a few months younger than you and prettier than what you had heard. The ceremony ended eventually, and so did the procession of strangers offering their condolences to you. The royal family was escorted away by their guards, but as you guided your mother back home, a guilty thought rose to the surface: Would you ever see the Princess again?Life went on. Your father's sacrifice had indeed not been in vain. Despite the losses the expedition had been a success and soon the Guru of Life Melchior would begin work on the Mammon Machine, designed to be operated by Princess Schala in order to harness that nearly infinite power and distribute it across the Kingdom. And you had to think about your future as well. At age 20, you would be considered an adult and allowed to forge your own path. How would you spend your teenage years in preparation for this?You would: (Choose up to three)>Study advanced offensive Water Magic>Study advanced curative Water Magic>Study defensive Water Magic>Study Ice Magic>Study a second element (what?) (only one)>Study advanced Alchemy>Study another subject (what?)>Practice with the Staff>Learn how to use another weapon (what?)>Go out of your comfort zone and make some friends.>Other (write-in) (within reason)
And here's your character sheet: https://pastebin.com/PwdXKC9MThanks for sticking with me for what was a pretty lengthy character creation process. Unfortunately I'll be busy and unable to write tomorrow. We'll resume the day after with the real beginning.
>>5366440>Learn how to use another weapon, the claw.
>>5366440>study advanced curative water magic>go out of your comfort zone and make some friendsfor the third I'm torn between practicing with the staff because when doing so it's like dad is there with us, or going for defensive water magic instead. But I reckon we're better off going with>defensive Water magic
>>5366440>Study Ice Magic>Study a second element (what?) (only one) Shadow>Practice with the StaffDad's element, dad's weapon and more options with ice.
>>5366440>Practice with the StaffTo honor our father.>Study advanced curative Water MagicTo cure ourselves and those around us better.>Begin to train your body as thoroughly as you can, using your knowledge of Curative magic to decrease the recovery time needed and to work your body for longer.
>>5366440>Study advanced curative Water Magic>Practice with the Staff>Go out of your comfort zone and make some friends.
>>5366440>Study defensive Water Magic>Study a second element (what?) (only one) Shadow>Practice with the StaffSchala a cute
Musclewizard bros, now is the time to unite! We have Cure now, this is the perfect time to enact the plan. Even if you disagree with my other choices, surely you can spare one of your three for rigorous workout routines followed by self curing.
>>5366440>Practice with the Staff>Study advanced curative Water Magic>Go out of your comfort zone and make some friends.
>>5366058Cue Gaius having his head slammed into a desk."Am I real now, Gaius?"
>>5366440>>Study defensive Water Magic>>Study Ice Magic>>Study a second element (what?) (only one) shadow
My staff suggestion for Gaius...
>>5367880A staf like that served Ridcully from Discworld well
>>5366440>Study advanced curative Water Magic>Practice with the Staff>Study Ice Magic
>Learn how to use another weapon, the claw.>>5366495>Study advanced curative water magic>>5366499>>5366523>>5367097>>5367461>>5368516>Go out of your comfort zone and make some friends>>5366499>>5367097>>5367461>Study defensive Water magic>>5366499>>5367172>>5367699>Study Ice Magic>>5366506>>5367699>>5368516>Study a second element (what?) (only one) Shadow>>5366506>>5367172>>5367699>Practice with the Staff>>5366506>>5366523>>5367097>>5367172>>5367461>>5368516>Begin to train your body as thoroughly as you can, using your knowledge of Curative magic to decrease the recovery time needed and to work your body for longer.>>5366523Staff practice and Curative Water Magic are the clear first choices, but we have a for third place. Since it'd be a clusterfuck if I asked people to switch votes to break it, I'm gonna leave a new round of voting open for a few hours.Pick one out of:>Go out of your comfort zone and make some friends>Study defensive Water magic>Study Ice Magic>Study a second element (what?) (only one) Shadow
>>5368607>Go out of your comfort zone and make some friendsMaximum Friendship!
>>5368607Well, if I had to pick one of the tied ones, it'd be...>Study defensive Water magicBecause buffs are king!
>>5368607The power of friendship!Picture hopefully unrelated.
>>5368607>Study a second element (what?) (only one) Shadow
My id changed I am >>5366506
>Power of friendship>>5368680>>5368711>Power of defense>>5368683>Power of shadows>>5368716>>5368720>>5368766Alright, I'll be calling it now. I hope to get an update out today.
With your father gone, your mother retreated to herself. It was like a light had gone out inside her. She would spend much of her days lost in her thoughts, sitting on a chair, looking outside the window, waiting for someone who would never come back. She blamed herself, she admitted one night. She should have listened to her bad feeling and insisted to go with him. If she had been there, she would have been able to save him. Though in your opinion this would have only lead to her following him to an early grave, you were unable to get her to see your point of view on this. With her depression, she found it harder and harder to treat her patients. You tried to ease her burden by helping as much as you could and learned even more under her direction. While they praised your diligence, the trickle of the wounded and sick gradually came to a stop. After all, they came to seek her help, not that of her untested teenage son.Learned Cure IILearned Remedy IIThe man you saw on that day, "Lord" Dalton, kept visiting for some time, bringing extravagant gifts and crudely hitting on her. Life could be difficult for a young, beautiful widow like her, especially with a child, and he could make it much easier - his words, not yours. Your mother remained polite yet firm in her dismissals. You wanted to be considerably less polite, but it was one of the few things she ever forbade you. Dalton was also part of the expedition that had claimed your father's life, his survival meant that he was a formidable warrior. And he had since risen to become the Queen's right hand man and perhaps something more if the lascivious rumors could be trusted. She didn't want you getting hurt on her behalf, and her patience was rewarded when Dalton gave up.You channeled your frustration into honing your skill with the staff, as your father had taught you. As you repeated the drills he had shown you, you could almost feel his presence behind you, guiding your swings, correcting your stance, urging you to strike faster and harder. It left a bitter taste in your mouth. You became interested in what he wanted to teach you only after he no longer could. You would practice for long hours, working through the pain and using your knowledge of the healing arts on yourself, healing your bruises and hurt muscles so you could practice even more. It was unhealthy, you knew, to hurt yourself like this, but you still couldn't stop doing it. Perhaps you too blamed yourself for your father's absence.Learned Whirlwind Attack
The Mammon Machine was completed a few months after the expedition. Like many others, you attended the inauguration ceremony that would herald a new age of plenty for the Kingdom. Princess Schala, like usual, stood at her mother's side as she addressed the crowd. Prince Janus was absent, though you weren't surprised. It was said that he was a difficult child. Even from afar, the Princess's smile seemed strained. Was she looking at you? No, she couldn't have. You were just another face in the crowd. Soon they disappeared into the bowels of the palace. Everyone could feel the exact moment she turned it on as raw mana flooded the atmosphere and spellcasting became almost effortless in an instant. But you found using the Machine's power to be disquieting. You couldn't really explain it, and no one seemed to share your apprehension, but it felt... red. Still, that power made your inner reserves largely irrelevant and it proved useful in your attempts to study spells from outside your element, something usually extraordinarily difficult. You focused on spells belonging to Shadow, your father's element, and despite the difficulty, you were met with success.Learned Shadow Manipulation ILearned BlindYears passed. The Guru of Reason Balthazar, fresh after the assembly of the Blackbird, an impressive flying machine that was unfortunately placed under the command of Dalton, came up with an even more ambitious plan: The construction of a palace on the ocean floor, as close as possible to what had been identified as Lavos's resting place. Even more power could be harnessed by moving the Mammon Machine closer to the source of its power. Enough to make every single Enlightened One immortal. Thinking of your mother eternally waiting besides that window made you doubt the wisdom of this plan, but dissent had become unwise in the Kingdom of Zeal.The Guru of Life Melchior publicly spoke up against this Ocean Palace, citing the need to further study the effects it would have. He promptly disappeared. The Guru of Time Gaspar was nowhere to be found. They said he had gone insane, secluded himself in a small island and began fruitless experiments on Time travel, working on some sort of Time Egg. Even Balthazar, despite being the architect of the project, withdrew from public life, leaving Dalton in charge of its construction. To supplement the workforce Dalton began forcibly conscripting Earthbound Ones. Some even applauded. The Earthbound guides had been blamed for the losses of the expedition, and this was seen as an opportunity to "contribute to the glory of Zeal".You kept your head down during all this. Rumours swirled that the Queen had changed practically overnight after the Mammon Machine was completed and anyone, no matter how unimportant, who criticized her would disappear. And what could you do? You were just a man, barely even an adult.PROLOGUE END
"Gaius...""Gaius!""Good morning, Gaius!"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQv1Xz2uKZ8"Come on, sleepy head. This isn't like you."A bright light forced you to open your eyes as you heard your mother draw the curtains. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm like always. In the distance, the sound of the Blackbird's guns thundered."You were so anxious that you didn't sleep well, did you...?"She was absolutely right. You had the feeling that your dreams had been unpleasant, though you couldn't remember. You groggily shifted in your bed and saw her smile."Take your time, I'll be downstairs."You didn't have the strength to answer her as she left and closed the door behind her. You struggled to get out of your bed and get ready. What was the matter with you? This really wasn't like you at all. After an inordinate amount of time, you were finally ready. You yawned and stretched as you walked down the stairs and your mother rushed to pull you in a hug. "Happy birthday, my little boy! Oh, how you've grown up. If only your father could see you now..." Her voice faltered for a moment and you squeezed her back "You'll make a girl very happy one day...""Mom!" you yelled as you removed yourself from her arms."What? I hope to see grandchildren some day, you know. Sooner rather than later." She chuckled and wiped her moist eyes before taking her familiar place by the window."Now, go on! Have some fun with your friends. Just don't be late for dinner, I want to celebrate properly tonight.""Don't worry mom. I promise to be back on time!" You looked at her one last time as you absent-mindedly secured your staff on your back and opened the door. Now, where would you go?>The library of Kajar. Reading books is fun!>Enhasa, the City of Dreams. Dreams could be fun.>The staging ground of the Blackbird. Perhaps you'd arrive in time to watch its maneuvers?>The waterfalls that lead to the clouds beneath you. You always found them soothing.>The palace. Its common areas were still open to the public.>Other (write-in)
>>5368830>The library of Kajarso what are we going to research? Alternative energy sources? Disappearing act? Experimental medicine?Maybe we could help someone in their studies instead...Dalton is going to be a source of problems, that's for sure.
>>5368830>The waterfalls that lead to the clouds beneath you. You always found them soothing.Sounds comfy
>>5368830>The palace. Its common areas were still open to the public.>>5368846>Dalton is going to be a source of problems, that's for sure.Oh for sure. Never trust someone who delivers the news of a man's death to his family *with a smirk*
>>5368830>The waterfalls that lead to the clouds beneath you. You always found them soothing.
https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2022/5363160/I have archived this thread just in case. If it gets deleted, I will make a new one asap and announce it on /qtg/.
>>5368680You don't post Cross content at all in this thread. Do it again and get reported. And I am so serious.
>>5369277Sorry, didn't mean to chrono cross you and make you chrono triggered.
>>5369277I want Harle to cast Diminish on me
>>5368830>The staging ground of the Blackbird. Perhaps you'd arrive in time to watch its maneuvers?
>>5368830>The palace. Its common areas were still open to the public.
>The library of Kajar. Reading books is fun!>>5368846>The waterfalls that lead to the clouds beneath you. You always found them soothing.>>5368861>>5368906>>5368980>>5369251>The palace. Its common areas were still open to the public.>>5368889>>5369695>The staging ground of the Blackbird. Perhaps you'd arrive in time to watch its maneuvers?>>5369418Next stop: Zeal's scenic waterfalls.>>5369251This is now canon. Gaius looks like DQV's hero. Cool game, with nice artwork.
Closing the door behind you, you considered your options. But there was ultimately only one place where you could think to go. Still feeling lethargic, you set out on a brisk walk to the waterfalls that lead to the clouds below. There was a nice, quiet spot there that always helped you relax.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPIyuGoH_24You came across more people than you expected on the way there and paused briefly only to greet a couple guards that you knew, politely evading their questions about when you'd be enlisting, without telling them the true reason you were hesitating. Placing yourself under Dalton's command did not sound very appealing. Few things sounded less appealing than that, actually.Children were playing tag around the neat, trimmed forest, and as you glared at the harsh morning sun that hadn't bothered you before, you suddenly realized the reason it was busier than you were used to: This was not your usual time to come here. You'd normally be in a classroom, listening to one lecture or another at this hour. You'd be free to visit the waterfalls either earlier, when you didn't sleep in, or much later during the day. These days were over though, and the thought made you feel a little nostalgic already.You steered clear of some people arguing about the nature of the relationship between the elements on the lake's coast. The last thing you needed right now was to get drawn into a prolonged, meaningless debate with an idiot. And that guy really was an idiot, his arguments little more than a passionate contrarianism. Light and Shadow were obviously opposed elements, even those children you saw earlier could tell him that!The distant sounds of the Blackbird's guns fell silent right on time as you jumped from stone to stone to cross the river without getting your tunic and cloak wet. You found your usual, quiet spot in between the two waterfalls and let out a drawn out sigh as you plopped your staff next to you and sat down on the moist grass. You could only feel the grass that you touched, only hear the sounds of the waterfalls to your left and right, only watch the empty, vast horizon above the clouds.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfYB0RAVlGYYou shifted to sit cross-legged, closed your eyes and tried to relax. You remembered the first time you had come here. Was it ten years ago? Probably even more. Your father had put you on his shoulders and prepared to jump to cross the river with you on his back, but your mother had simply laughed and created an ice bridge wide enough for you all to comfortably cross. He was a little peeved that he hadn't gotten the chance to show off. You were scared to death to approach the edge of the waterfall and the water cascading down into nothing, but over many visits your father had encouraged you to inch closer and closer, first grasping his hand and later by yourself. A man would have to master his fears, he had said, to protect what was important to him. Was he afraid then at the end, in some deep, dark hole so far away from home...?You abruptly shifted your thoughts. This whole system, the waterfalls, rivers and lake were all a testament to the ingenuity of the Enlightened Ones. A Skyway had been embedded in a cave up in the mountain, halfway on the path to the palace. It was permanently linked to another one like it below the surface of the ocean, providing an endless supply of water. An ingenious device filtered and purified this water, making it sweet and safe to drink. You'd like to study its workings one day, perhaps even improve it. But really? Was this what you wanted to do with your life? Minute improvements on Zeal's infrastructure? After the Ocean Palace was completed and made everyone immortal - if it worked as advertised - was this how you would spend eternity? And what if it didn't work? What if it lead to ruin, as Melchior had warned? What could you do then? Would the Princess...?No, one more try. You emptied your mind of all thought, ignored the splash of a stone falling on the river to your right, ignored the Mammon Machine's scratching in the back of your head. Calm your thoughts. Meditate, like your mother had showed you such a long time ago, when she first taught you how to harness your element and make it manifest on the world. But it was no use. You were too anxious. Your thoughts swirled about the past and the future, yours and the kingdom's. All of them ominous. You couldn't unwind. What would you do now?>Keep trying, you just need to be more persistent.>Pick up your staff and go through some stances.>Practice your magic.>Go somewhere else (where?)>Other (write-in)
>>5369947>One more try, with an alternate approach: rather than forcing the thoughts into calm, try to ride the current of the swirl. This might lead us nowhere as we end up bouncing back and forth, or it might allow the threads to untangle themselves into a more stoic stance...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxOWhdY1goA
>>5369947>Keep trying, you just need to be more persistent.
>>5369947>>5369971support May I suggest Doric as Gaius' father?
>One more try, with an alternate approach: rather than forcing the thoughts into calm, try to ride the current of the swirl. This might lead us nowhere as we end up bouncing back and forth, or it might allow the threads to untangle themselves into a more stoic stance...>>5369971>>5369988>>5370082>>5370118>>5370162>>5370247That was easy to tally.>>5370247A little too old and too muscley for what I had in mind. I'm imagining Gaius's parents as high school sweethearts who got married asap and wanted a big family. His mother is in her early forties now, and his father was in his mid thirties when he died seven years ago. And dad's fighting style relied more on trickery, using Shadow to create openings to be exploited instead of brute strength.
One more try, with an alternate approach. This wasn't how you had been taught. Your mind was not a ball of yarn that you could untangle by pulling at one end. It was an ocean, and you couldn't force water to be still with will alone. You had to ride the current, let the waves carry you. When the winds were howling it was natural for the seas to be rough. These were your thoughts, but they weren't all that you were. They didn't define you. You were more than just that. You were...Calm.A sudden noise brought you out of your trance. Someone was near you, probably a child playing. You opened your eyes in annoyance and turned to look at the source of the interruption, only to see a slim figure wearing a purple robe with long sleeves that obscured their hands and a hooded cloak pulled up to conceal their face. They were far too tall to be a child, just a little shorter than you, but you couldn't immediately tell if it was a woman or a particularly slender man. The question was answered when the figure took a half step back, raised their hand in an apologetic motion and said in a soft, feminine voice: "Oh, I'm-I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to disturb you. You seemed troubled. I'll go now..." Was that a hint of blue hair underneath her hood? How would you respond?>Introduce yourself.>Ask her who she is.>Tell her of your troubles.>Let her go.>Other (write-in)
>>5370675>I'll show you mine if you show me yoursjust kidding.>"It's fine. You're not wrong. But I get the feeling it takes one to know one, or am I mistaken?">introduce yourself
>>5369351You've avoided being reported only because that was a clever bar.>>5369355Verging on the final straw.
>>5370675>Tell her of your troubles.The black wind howls...
>>5370675>Introduce yourself.Manners first. Everyone remembers a healer with poor bedside manners.
>>5370675>Ask her who she is.
>>5370675>Tell her of your troubles.
>>5370675>>5370675>Tell her of your troubles.I have no friends, my dad's dead, and Dalton wants to marry my mom...how're you?
>>5370675>>Tell her of your troubles.
>"It's fine. You're not wrong. But I get the feeling it takes one to know one, or am I mistaken?">introduce yourself>>5370678>>5370789>Tell her of your troubles.>>5370708>>5371115>>5371159>>5371212>>Introduce yourself.>>5370726>>5371241>Ask her who she is.>>5370824Calling early because I'd like to try to write more than one update today.
"Troubled? You could say that. But it's fine, you're not a bother. Please don't go, there's more than enough room for the both of us." You motioned at the grass around you, with not another soul in sight, and she hesitated for a few long moments before silently sitting next to you. Her delicate hands were pale and thin. Too thin your mother would have said, before offering her some food.The silence extended and you decided to break it with what had been on your mind. "It's just... I have to decide what I want to do with my life, but how am I supposed to do that? I want to help people, I know that much, and the Kingdom of course, but... I don't know how I can do that..."Her voice sounded strained as she replied. "It is difficult to predict the future. And not everyone has a choice like you do. I envy that, a little. Is this why you came here?""Yeah. I like this spot. It's so quiet and peaceful, far away from everyone. I wanted to sit by myself and think without distractions but...""I'm sorry... I didn't expect to find someone here. I shouldn't have come...""Oh no, no! Don't apologize, it's not your fault. I couldn't be at peace anyway. You see, I first came here with my parents when I was a kid and I keep thinking about those days. My d... my father, he died seven years ago. He had tried to teach me how to fight while he was alive, but I was more interested in learning from my mother. She's a healer, a really good one, and a Water mage like me. She taught me much. I don't regret that choice but I... I just wish I had spent more time with him when I still could... I guess I just miss him more than usual today.""I see. I'm very sorry for your loss..." She hesitated, but you could tell she wanted to say more, so you waited patiently for her to continue "I... Um... can I ask you a difficult question?""Hm? Of course. What is it?""Was it hard for you? After you lost your father?""It... Yes, it was. My mother... She wasn't the same after. She never got over it. Even now, I can see her grief when she thinks I'm not looking. And Dalton... He made things worse. He tried to hit on her from the day after the funeral, and he wouldn't take no for an answer. I wish I could have done more to protect her from him and help her move on, but... I'm not as strong as I wish I was...""I know how you feel. I also lost Father seven years ago. It was hard for me and my little brother too. And Dalton didn't help at all." She let out a soft chuckle. Was your mother not the only widow that Dalton had harassed?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ6kaNcsw4QAn unexpected breeze ruffled your hair and cloak. She tugged at her hood to keep it up, but couldn't prevent a few strands of long, blue hair from escaping. It suddenly dawned on you, her identity, and you silently cursed yourself for not realising it sooner."P-Princess Schala?!!!"She turned her head towards you and let her hood drop, not bothering to conceal her face anymore now that you had guessed. Her long ponytail swayed in the wind and her green eyes met yours. She looked sad and tired and beautiful... "Yes, that's right. Does it make a difference?""Of course it does!" you replied instantly. "You're the Princess, and I've done nothing but ramble! I'm sorry! Please forgive me, your Highness!""Oh..." She simply said, as she turned back to gaze at the horizon, pulling her legs closer to her body and hugging her knees. You felt like a wall had risen between you. You cursed yourself again. How could you make such a mistake?It was her turn to break the now awkward silence when she turned again to look at you, saying with more conviction than before "Can I ask you another question?" You silently nodded, and she continued. "What do you think about the Earthbound Ones?"The Earthbound Ones? You didn't know what you had expected her to ask, but it certainly wasn't that. You felt you couldn't lie to her, not now. You had no choice but to tell her the truth.What did you think about the Earthbound Ones?>"I hate them. They're responsible for my father's death. They're worthless without magic, and Dalton putting them to work was the only good thing that fool ever did.">"I pity them. They live hard and destitute lives down there in the cold. I wish there was a way to help them.">"I admire them. They refuse to give up hope despite their harsh environment and lack of power. My problems are nothing compared to theirs.">"I don't really think about them all that much to be honest.">Other (write-in)
>>5371405>"I don't really think about them all that much to be honest."
>>5371405>"I'm not sure myself, honestly... on one hand, I feel sorry for them that many of the marvels of our realm are out of their reach. It seems unfair. On the other hand, they don't let their burdens crush them. Perhaps that is something they have over us."I suppose we don't have any reason to actually think Earthbound are in any way responsible for our father's death. If anything, Dalton's actions may strike us as suspicious in that respect.But we also don't have any reason to be overly familiar with Earthbound ones so we can only assume they are capable of maintaining a working society with their own ways of finding joy and love in the daily life.
>>5371405>"I admire them. They refuse to give up hope despite their harsh environment and lack of power. My problems are nothing compared to theirs.">"Although they probably do enjoy the silence from being so far from the Mammon Machine. I've been hearing it nonstop since it was turned on - must be worse for you since you live at the palace, right?"
>"I don't really think about them all that much to be honest.">>5371411>>5371448>"I'm not sure myself, honestly... on one hand, I feel sorry for them that many of the marvels of our realm are out of their reach. It seems unfair. On the other hand, they don't let their burdens crush them. Perhaps that is something they have over us.">>5371422>>5371501>"I admire them. They refuse to give up hope despite their harsh environment and lack of power. My problems are nothing compared to theirs.">"Although they probably do enjoy the silence from being so far from the Mammon Machine. I've been hearing it nonstop since it was turned on - must be worse for you since you live at the palace, right?">>5371497>>5371512A rare triple tie. Someone please break it before I have to roll.
>>5371405>>"I'm not sure myself, honestly... on one hand, I feel sorry for them that many of the marvels of our realm are out of their reach. It seems unfair. On the other hand, they don't let their burdens crush them. Perhaps that is something they have over us."Tie broken
"I'm not sure myself, honestly... on one hand, I feel sorry for them. All the marvels of our realm are out of their reach. It seems unfair. But on the other hand, they don't let their burdens crush them. Perhaps that is something they have over us.""An even-handed view. That's a rarity among our people... You're right, it is unfair. We have been given all this..." she gestured at the floating islands, from the Sun Temple barely visible far to the west, to the palace towering above you and Enhasa far to the east. "and they have been given nothing..." she continued "just because we were born lucky and they weren't. Or maybe they're the lucky ones...?"She fell silent again, lost in her thoughts and you couldn't think of something to say either before she continued. "I admire them. They have something over us, that's for sure... Say, you've never met an Earthbound One before, have you?" she asked earnestly."No, I haven't. I've never been outside Zeal, to tell the truth. Err, that is, the kingdom, not your mother. I mean, the Queen, err, I mean..."She stopped your floundering with a hearty chuckle "Don't worry. I know how confusing it can get to have the Queen change her name after her Kingdom. Try being a little girl and having to learn the difference between the two!"You imagined her as a little girl. No, you remembered her, back at the funeral. She didn't seem to remember you though. Was that a pang of sadness that you felt? "I hope you don't change yours when you become Queen. Schala is a beautiful name."Her eyes widened in surprise at your compliment and she smiled. "Thank you, but... me, the Queen Zeal? I can hardly imagine it. No, I really can't imagine it..." she repeated with a sadder tone."I'm sure you'll be a fine Queen one day. Everyone is!" maybe better than your mother, you left unsaid.She didn't reply to your comment and you couldn't see her expression as she said "Um, you said you're a healer, right? And that you want to help people?""Yes, that's right. Does it make a difference?" You echoed her earlier statement without thinking. She bit her lips, struggling about something, before seeming to come to a decision."Perhaps... If you don't have something better to do today, would you like to come with me to Algetty? That's the name of the Earthbound village. They're earnest, hardworking people. They would welcome your help. It's not a dangerous journey, I've been by myself there sometimes. I've tried to help them when I could, but... I know no healing magic and my alchemy... it's not enough. It's not too far away either, we'll be back by sundown! I have to be back at the palace before Mother sends someone to search for me... So, what do you say?"As you looked at her expectant face, you could only:>Accept>Propose something different you can do together (what?)>Decline>Other (write-in)
>Accept>>5371795>>5371796>>5371804>>5371808>>5371829>>5371830huh, that was much faster than I thought. Let's see, can I write a third one today?
"Sure! I don't have any plans for today." You had promised your mother you'd be back for dinner, but Schala had to be back too. It'd be fine.Her face beamed at your answer. "I'm so glad! Then it's a date!" You choked and almost fell backwards at her confident proclamation while she rose in one swift motion and offered her hand to help you up, still beaming. You recovered, grasped it and pulled yourself up while taking your staff with your other hand from where it lay on the grass.You secured your staff on your back once again while she pulled the hood of her cloak back up. "Come on, let's go!" she said "We don't have time to waste." She rushed ahead but you quickly caught up to her with just a few long strides and began walking at her side.[Princess Schala has joined your party]You retraced your steps towards the river closer to Kajar. It would have been faster to head to the other direction, straight towards the Skyway, but that river was deeper and wider. You'd have to swim across, and going for a swim was a terrible idea if you were heading to the frozen wastes below. Although... swimming with the Princess... maybe some other t-Your mind was pulled out of the gutter when she turned her head towards you and asked "Your staff... you know how to fight?""I've been trained and I have practiced, yes. I've never been in a real fight though.""A healer and a warrior. You're a man of many talents Mr..."Your eyes widened in shock and you broke out in a cold sweat. You stopped in your tracks and cursed yourself, again. You couldn't believe it! In all the excitement of meeting the Princess, you had forgotten to introduce yourself!"I-I'm Gaius! Please forgive me your Highness. It completely slipped my mind!""Gaius. A joyful name. I like it! But please, Gaius, call me Schala. Just Schala.""As you wish, Pr... Schala." you said, with some difficulty and you resumed your place at her side."I wanted to learn how to fight too after Father was gone but Mother... had other plans.""Maybe I can teach you when we next meet?""When next we meet... I think I'd like that." Your joy was palpable but... why was her voice so sad when she said that?You exchanged no more words after that. You helped her over the stones across the river, though she didn't need it, as she'd already crossed before by herself. But it was the polite thing to do. Your mother would have killed you if she ever found out that you hadn't.
You headed right towards the bridge across the lake instead of straight towards the road to Kajar and home, and approached that group you had seen earlier. They were still busy arguing and paid you no mind as you passed by them. You silently prayed to Lavos not to meet anyone you knew on the way to Enhasa. You didn't trust yourself not to act suspiciously if they asked where you were going, or about the mysterious girl you were escorting. The Pr... Schala had to keep quiet too, in fear of someone recognizing her voice and ending this charade.You arrived at the Skyway to Enhasa's island without incident, though you felt oddly anxious as you passed the garden, between the columns and ascended the stairs to the portal with the Pr... Schala at your side. It was a little disorienting, like always, to be beamed across, but nothing more. Just a straight stretch of road was between you and the other Skyway near Enhasa, the only Skyway leading to the surface, when Schala abruptly stopped and tugged at your arm."Wait, your clothes...""My clothes? What about them?""They're too light. My cloak is enchanted to resist cold, but your clothes are not, are they?""...no, they are not.""I'm sorry, I should have thought of this sooner. You should head into the city and buy something warmer, they have appropriate gear in stock for travellers. You'll freeze otherwise. Hurry, I'll wait for you by the Skyway!"You remembered your father's warnings about the cold, and how easily it could cause frostbite, lost fingers or worse. And now Schala's advice... Would you follow it?>No. This was a bad idea. We should head back.>No. You can tough it out. How cold can it really be?>Yes. Head into the city to buy a heavier cloak.>Yes. Head into the city to buy a heavier cloak, but also a gift for her. She called it a date, right?>Other (write-in)
>>5371966>>Yes. Head into the city to buy a heavier cloak.
>>5371966> Yes. Head into the city to buy a heavier cloak, but also a gift for her. She called it a date, right?However, do not lose any time looking for one or thinking it over too much. Maybe some keepsake reminiscent of the late king? Or something small that would fit with her colour theme. She’s a princess so it should be heartfelt rather than expensive.Or… nah, that would be a stretch and weird, but something she could share with Janus, like a 2 player game or something.
>>5371966>Yes. Head into the city to buy a heavier cloak, but also a gift for her. She called it a date, right?
>>5371966>Yes. Head into the city to buy a heavier cloak, but also a gift for her. She called it a date, right?Part of me feels like this is cutting it close, but I want Schala to think well of me
>Yes. Head into the city to buy a heavier cloak.>>5371982>Yes. Head into the city to buy a heavier cloak, but also a gift for her. She called it a date, right?>>5371997>>5371998>>5372120>>5372395>>5372401A gift for the Princess, coming right up!
"You're right, I'll meet you there." After you agreed, she produced a leather pouch heavy with coin from underneath her voluminous robes and made a move to give it to you, but you simply nodded negatively and run off. She'd called it a date! You'd be damned if you let a girl pay for you in a date, no matter how rich she was!You rushed to Enhasa, city of Dreams. You didn't come here often. It was on the other side of the kingdom on a different island entirely from Kajar, and it did not have much to offer you. It was full of public beds where the dreamers would lie and "seek truth and enlightenment in the bliss of sleep", or something like that, while nonhuman servants took care of their every need. You didn't often remember your dreams, but when you did it was always after waking up sweaty from the grip of a nightmare. The dreaming world was not for you. All you cared about was in the real world.As you entered the city, you were greeted by a small, yellow creature with pointy ears wearing a white robe. Some sort of created servant no doubt, though you hadn't seen its kind before. It tilted its head and looked at you quizzically. "In the eternal Magical Kingdom of Zeal, all dreams can come true. But how steep of a price will you end up willing to pay?" Before you had a chance to respond, she jumped, turned a circle around herself in the air and vanished.You didn't have time to dwell on the weird encounter though. You hurried through the city, searching for what you needed. You saw a bed with a small Poyozo Doll on it and briefly paused, wondering where the child that owned it was and why it had left its fluffy white plushie behind, when the doll turned to face you all by itself and asked "Do you believe in Fate? That everything in the world ιs preordained?""I don't have time for this!" you shouted and dashed away. Who the hell had thought it was a good idea to give sentience to a stuffed toy? It was inevitable that it'd suffer from an existential crisis! By Lavos, you hated this place!You finally reached the market, purposely avoiding anyone and anything else that might want to talk to you. You easily found a shop selling protective gear for the cold, just like the Princess had said. It had enchanted cloaks for sale, but at a steep price. You definitely couldn't afford that. You'd have to settle for more mundane equipment. A heavy, fur trimmed coat, long enough to cover your entire body would do nicely. And a set of fur gloves, of course, body heat escaped through the extremities more than through any other part of the body. They'd hinder you in a fight, but no beasts were supposed to exist that close to civilization. You already had a nice pair of boots and your existing cloak could serve as scarf and cap, protecting your head and ears.
You made your purchases and began heading back when you came to a sudden realization: Schala had called this a date, but was it really one? You'd done nothing to warrant calling it that. Only rambled about yourself as she listened patiently, barely let her talk or asked her anything in turn, scarcely touched, and you were now headed to a bleak area to help people other than her! You, err, didn't have much experience in this area, or any at all really, other than what you had read in your books, but this whole day did not sound like a date at all. And - your heart tightened at the thought - you might never see her again this close after today. No matter what she asked you to call her in private, she was the Princess and you were a nobody. You might not get another chance to fix this. You had to do something while you still could.A gift. You should buy her a gift. But what? Something small and not that expensive. You were not poor, no one in Zeal was, but you were not that wealthy either. And you doubted that something gaudy and extravagant would impress her. You didn't have much time to search either. What could it be, what could it be? You thought of maybe something reminding her of her late father, but there was no way you'd be able to find something like that in such a short notice. And besides, you weren't sure it'd be wise to link her memories of this "date" with her memories of him. There, a jewelry store. All girls liked jewelry, right? She already wore a set of large golden earrings, so that was out. You also saw the chain of a pendant while you talked, so that was out as well. A ring? No, that would be absurd. You'd only seen her from afar three times total and only properly met her today. You couldn't give her a ring just like that. A bracelet! There was nothing on her thin, slender wrists. You mentally congratulated yourself and you began browsing for a cute bracelet, when you caught something even better with the corner of your eye. A small hair ornament. A hairpin in the shape of a flower, golden like her earrings, with a red gemstone set in its center like the simple red ribbon she tied her ponytail with. It'd be perfect. Or, at least you hoped so. The seller congratulated you on your choice and explained that it was gold-plated silver and the gemstone was not a real ruby, but you didn't care and you were sure she wouldn't either. If she liked it...You paid quickly - a little more expensive than you thought but still well within your means - pocketed the hairpin and raced back to your rendezvous point, near the Skyway to the surface. You saw her hooded figure from afar, waiting right where she said she would. She'd have been very suspicious for someone not in the know, but luckily this Skyway was not well travelled. Few Enlightened Ones saw a reason to travel to the surface. She waved at you and you slowed your pace to catch your breath. It wouldn't do to be panting as you talked to her.
"Sorry I kept you waiting." you told her when you approached enough that you no longer had to shout."Oh, don't worry. It wasn't that long. And it was my fault, I should have thought of it sooner. You should have at least let me pay for your cloak, you wouldn't have needed it if it wasn't for me.""No, I shouldn't have. In fact..." You fumbled in your pockets for the hairpin, suddenly feeling very nervous. What if this was a mistake? Well, only one way to find out. A man had to face his fears..."Here... I, err, I got you something... A gift, to remember our date... It's, err, it's not much, but..." your heart raced as you fumbled your words, withdrew your hand from your pocket and presented her with the hairpin on your open palm.She was stunned, completely frozen for a moment, before she rewarded you with a wide, happy smile. "Oh Gaius, you shouldn't have..." She took the pin from your outstretched palm, her fingers brushing against yours "It's beautiful..." And she embraced you with the pin still in her hand, pulling her warmth right next to you, with only her hood standing between your heads "Thank you! I will treasure it always... along with the memories of this date..."You returned her embrace after a brief delay, but she removed herself from your arms in what felt like far too short of a time. "We should go. You won't have time to do more than meet the Elder." You nodded, not trusting your voice. And then your heart sunk when the pin disappeared inside her robes, same as her pouch had been. She didn't really like it... She would have put it on if she had...You spiritlessly followed her to the magic circle on top of the Skyway and beamed down right behind her. The other side looked very different. Instead of a pyramid in the middle of a garden, it was a squat round building, gold and purple and emblazoned with the symbol of Zeal.You turned to look at the Princess and found her securing the hair pin near the red ribbon that held her ponytail in place. Of course! She couldn't pull her hood down above. You were such an idiot...When she was satisfied, she turned to you and asked "How do I look?""Beautiful" you ardently replied.She smiled again and moved to the door. "Then, shall we?"You could hear the wind howling, though it didn't look like it was snowing outside the door. It'd make a conversation more difficult than it had been in the calm waterfalls, but maybe not impossible. What would you do on the way to Algetty?>Walk in silence. The wind was too strong.>Ask her about the Earthbound Ones and their village.>Ask her why she came to the waterfalls.>Ask her about the Mammon Machine.>Other (Write-in)
>>5372816>Ask her about the Earthbound Ones and their village.
>>5372816>>Ask her about the Earthbound Ones and their village.Might as well get the scoop on where we're heading.
>>5372816>>Ask her about the Earthbound Ones and their village.it's clearly not her first time down there. And something tells me she'd rather talk about anything else, including interior decoration, than the mammon machine.Also, why do I have this sinking feeling that we're going to see [Schala has left the party] within next three updates and then we have to go through no less than three separate time periods before seeing her again?
>>5372816>Ask her why she came to the waterfalls.
>>5372816>Ask her why she came to the waterfalls.>>5372838>Also, why do I have this sinking feeling that we're going to see [Schala has left the party] within next three updates and then we have to go through no less than three separate time periods before seeing her again?Such is the fate of (presumably) star-crossed lovers, usually.
>Ask her about the Earthbound Ones and their village.>>5372822>>5372824>>5372838>>5373355>Ask her why she came to the waterfalls.>>5372843>>5372891You're gonna ask her about your destination.
You exited the Skyway behind Schala and it was like you had entered another world entirely. The hard ground was covered in snow. So was the round building that you had just exited and the four glowing beacons that surrounded it. You supposed they had something to do with the function of this particular Skyway, but you didn't know for sure. The winds were louder than you were used too, though it wasn't snowing at the moment, thank Lavos.https://music.mega64.net/ct/403.mp3A decently sized forest lay to the east. To the south, a solitary mountain. Smaller pockets of green to the west, with a huge mountain range looming in the distance. The ocean to the north was full of white patches of ice. Everything was white. Even the sky was white and full of clouds. The sun was nowhere in sight.It was cold. Colder than you had ever felt in your life. You could see your breath as you exhaled and felt that if it was just a tiny bit colder, the vapors would freeze and fall to your feet. With shivering fingers you tightened your new cloak around you and put on your gloves. You were grateful to have this protection. In that moment, it felt like the best purchase you had ever made. Well, second best, you felt as you glanced at the ornament adorning Schala's hair.She waited patiently for you to finish your preparations and then pointed north west. "The entrance to Algetty is at the far end of those mountains. Come, this way!" Despite her far lighter clothing, she looked completely unfazed by the biting cold. Enchanted cloak. It was so unfair!You began your long walk towards the distant mountains. It felt quiet, even with the sound of the wind around you. It took you a while to realize the reason: The Mammon Machine. You didn't have to ignore its infernal buzzing anymore. It was no longer there. You were outside its reach for the first time since it was completed. A profound sense of relief came over you. But if it felt that way to you, who had never been close to that thing, you pondered, how must it have felt like for the Princess, who had to operate the damned thing?
Yet you decided not to broach that subject. Something told you that she'd rather talk about anything else, so you chose a different topic. Something safer. "Do you come here often?""As often as my duties allow me, but, um... not as often as I'd like. It's peaceful, isn't it?""Yeah. The surface has its charm. I didn't expect it. If only it wasn't so cold..."She chuckled softly at your complaint. "Have you regretted refusing my help yet?""Your help with what?"She seemed to deflate at your question. "Buying clothes. You could have afforded a cloak like mine if you wanted. Or maybe..." She took a mischievous look and touched the small golden flower on her hair. "you had an ulterior motive for your gift? Were you trying to convince me to trade cloaks with you?"You laughed. "No, no, don't worry about me Princess. I just like to complain, I guess. And.." You turned to look in her green eyes "I have not regretted a single thing, your Highness." you said seriously.She blushed and looked away. "I told you to call me Schala...""Sorry! It's a tough habit to break." you paused for a while before asking another question "Say, Schala, this place we're heading, what can you tell me about it?""Algetty? It's the only village of the Earthbound Ones, very different from our cities. It's a huge cave complex, with its entrance on the side of a mountain. And it's full of green. Did you know there are plants that can actually thrive underground?" you nodded negatively and she continued " It's warm down there, even without magic. Their homes are little more than a room on the side of the cave with a wooden door. Most Enlightened ones would scoff at them, but Algetty's people have done their best to make them cozy. And they're friendly, and humble, and diligent. They're not like our people. They seem more... human, somehow. Oh, I hope you don't mind ladders, they're everywhere. It'd be hard to climb those caves otherwise." You nodded affirmatively this time and gestured for her to continue, smiling all the while. "There's a huge underground lake on the bottom. That's where they draw their water from. They can't use the ocean's salty water like we do, and they don't have enough wood to burn to thaw ice. Have you ever seen a stalactite, Gaius?"You laughed. Her enthusiasm was contagious, it was obvious she really liked it there. "I've read about them, but I've never seen one.""They're impressive, these... stone columns, growing from the ceiling above the water. And everything glows without a source of light. Some sort of blue fungus. It looks beautiful. I'm sure you'll like it, with you being a Water mage. It's right in your element!""I'm sure I'll love it...""Oh, we're getting closer. Not much longer now..."You looked around. You hadn't even noticed that you'd almost reached the foot of those mountains. Your destination was just on the other side, she had said. Time flown by so fast while you talked...
As you surveyed the area, you spotted something new. The ground had been completely smooth so far, frozen under snow, but there were large circular holes all around. Craters? Was that where the Blackbird had been firing its guns? But it so was close to the Earthbound village and there were no monsters around. Was Dalton using the Earthbound Ones as target practice?You didn't share your dark suspicions with Schala. It would have only dampened her mood which seemed to be improving with every step. You quickened your pace, both to leave this area and to arrive sooner, but no sooner had you done that, than you heard something that made you stop."RRRROOOOOOAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHH"You quickly turned towards the source of the roar, pulling Schala behind you in the same motion, and you saw a large beast slowly climbing out of one of the craters that had been to your left. It was looking straight at you, easily twice as tall as you were, with white fur, giant yellow teeth and claws and some primitive decorations on its body. Your blood froze, and not from the cold. You recognized it from one of your father's stories. It was a Gosnell, one of the tougher monsters he had fought. His entire squad had struggled to take it down, and they hadn't succeeded without heavy injuries. What was it doing here? Your father had said that they were native on another continent entirely, and they definitely lacked the sophistication to build boats, even if they could sail the freezing seas. And this area was supposed to be completely safe! What would you do? How could you fight this thing?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvg4b9Yup7MYou had to calm down. Wasn't that what you had been preparing for? To protect those that you cared about? You couldn't fail now. You almost wished for the Mammon Machine's power, your mana was limited without it. You'd brought no Ether with you either. And with so many years of being reliant on that machine, you weren't even sure how many spells you could cast on your inner reserves alone. Five spells? More? Probably no more than ten. You'd have to make them count.The Gosnell was still far away, out of range of your Blind. It'd be a difficult shot with Water I, but not an impossible one. And with it still climbing, it wouldn't have been able to dodge. But was an attack your best move right now?How would you begin your first real battle?>Quickly remove your gloves. You can't grip your staff properly with them on.>Cast Water I at the Gosnell.>Obscure your and Schala's location with shadows.>Grab Schala's hand and run!>Other (write-in)
>>5373864how fine is our control over the water attack? I'm thinking we could spray the area with water, in the freezing temperature it could make everything slick and the yeti drop back down, giving us chance to hightail it.
>>5373886(or for Schala to disintegrate it if this is supposed to showcase how much of a monster she is magically)
>>5373886Water I is a large bubble of water that you could launch at the ground if you wanted. Water Manipulation I allows you to create a small amount of clean water near you. Either could be used to spray an area in different ways.
>>5373864>Obscure your and Schala's location with shadows.
>>5373896then I'd say let's throw water I into the creature's path, at its feet, to not risk it flies by.does shadow block all senses, or just sight? If the creature hunts by smell or sound masking us could be a waste, it's also going straight for us so we'd need to scoot once we hide - and in snow that means tracks, no? although these could be masked with water manipulation maybe?
>>5373904Supporting anon's suggestion, afterwards we leg it.
>>5373904>does shadow block all senses, or just sight?Your shadow blocks only sight at this level.>although these could be masked with water manipulation maybe?If you mean moving the snow to cover the tracks, that would fall under Ice Manipulation, which you never studied.
>Obscure your and Schala's location with shadows.>>5373897>throw water I into the creature's path, at its feet>>5373904>>5373993>>5374149>>5374718Alright, trying to make it slip. It's time to roll me some dice. 1d100, best of 3, DC 60, the higher the better.
Rolled 59 (1d100)>>5374838
Rolled 17 (1d100)>>5374838
Rolled 22 (1d100)>>5374838Shall we embarrass ourselves in front of our surprise date? Performance anxiety is an annoying thing...
You made your decision. An attack would be of no use. You couldn't defeat it, but you didn't have to. You just needed to delay it until you and Schala both reached safety. It couldn't be very far, could it? Looking at your enemy, you were gripped by fear. Your hands were trembling. But you had to master that fear. You tried your best to push past it, aimed carefully, and..."Water!"You cast your spell and instantly felt your mana reserves dip. The bubble of water you just created soared through the air, heading towards the creature's path, at its feet. And without waiting long enough to see if it would hit its mark, you turned, grabbed Schala's hand and yelled "Run!"She still seemed stunned by the situation, but didn't hesitate to follow you. You both began running towards the mountains. Time, that had seemed to slow down, sped up again. An approaching clamour made you take a quick look back and the cold grip of fear returned stronger than ever: The Gosnell was barreling towards you. You wouldn't make it. It hadn't worked. Had you missed, had it recovered too fast, or had it maintained its balance from the start? No, it wasn't important now. You had to figure out how you could both get out of this alive.It was getting closer. It would be more difficult to miss, but if you did... best not to think about it.What would be your second move?>Try again, it might work this time.>Blind it.>Just keep running.>Stand and fight, tell Schala to keep running. You'll hold it off.>Other (write-in)
>>5375137>Blind itLet’s hope at least this will work properly…
>Blind it>>5375157>>5375201>>5375236>>5375255>>5375530>>5375589A unanimous decision. Time for the dice. 1d100, BO3, DC:75Sorry for the delays folks, last couple of days have been a bit busy.
Rolled 81 (1d100)>>5375899
Rolled 2 (1d100)>>5375899no worries m8
Rolled 25 (1d100)>>5375899
You firmly planted your foot in the snow to stop your movement, turned to once again face the Gosnell and began the difficult process of shaping your mana to cast another element's spell. And as always, vocalization was the last step."Blind!"Your mana levels dropped even more than before and the effect was instantaneous: Wisps of pure darkness surrounded its head, making it impossible for the beast to see. It kept galloping for a few more steps before it lost its footing and came crushing down in a jumbled heap. It recovered all too quickly and violently shook its head, attempting to get rid of the nuisance, but it was no use. The shadows clung tightly to its eyes as they were meant to. The beast, functionally blind for as long as the spell lasted, let out a frustrated roar. Schala cheered. "You did it!" You'd have jumped in joy, but the end of the battle left you drained instead. You'd almost died just now, eaten by a monster you couldn't have possibly beaten. And Schala had almost met a gruesome end because of you. She only came here today because she wanted to show you something beautiful and let you meet some good people who needed your help. And she seemed to come to the same realization, as her smile faded and she looked away from you. Still, you were safe now. Blind would wear off after a few minutes, but you'd be long gone by then. The Gosnell wouldn't be able to follow you if it couldn't see you and it wasn't even looking in the right direction after its fall.You were about start walking away when you saw it raise its face and begin sniffing. It couldn't be! "No...", you said, barely more than a whisper. Did it really have such a strong sense of smell? You didn't remember your father mentioning anything about that! But it did, and after a few more loud sniffs it turned to approximately face you and began walking at an unsteady rate. It tried dashing towards you only to lose its footing and stumble again and it resumed walking at a more careful pace, sniffing all the while.And again you took Schala's hand for your retreat. It wasn't like this at all when you imagined holding her hand! At least you weren't in immediate danger, the Gosnell couldn't run while blind. But its giant gait meant that it walked faster than you did. You considered running to try and put some distance between you, but that might have left you too exhausted to react when it regained its sight. Especially Schala, who wasn't nearly as athletic as you were and would get tired faster. It would have been useless anyway if it could track your scent. Better to be able to see it and respond appropriately. Trying to conserve your strength, and beginning to hope in a miracle, you half-walked half-run away from it.
Minutes passed in this tense stalemate. The ground grew more uneven as you reached the foot of the mountain, the wind stronger and the temperature even colder, hard as it was to believe. You wracked your brain trying to figure a way out of this mess. The craters meant that the Blackbird had been firing on it, so Dalton would probably be leading a team to kill it soon, if he hadn't already. You were willing to admit your thoughts may have been too harsh on him. You didn't know why he hadn't landed immediately though. Maybe he wanted reinforcements?You supposed you could keep blinding it until you reached the Earthbound village, but you weren't sure if the mana you had left would be enough. It was one of your more expensive spells and only Schala knew where exactly the village was. And Blind may have worked this time, but there was no guarantee it would work just as well the next one, or the one after. It only needed to fail once to get you both killed.You thought of drenching you two in water in an effort to wash off your scent and then run, but quickly dismissed the idea. You'd need running water or soap to properly mask it, and you had neither. Besides, Schala's cloak may have kept her safe from the cold, but yours would not be able to do anything to save your skin if you decided to drench yourself in water in sub zero temperatures.Your ideas were getting more and more far-fetched, when you spotted something that could be your salvation: The small opening of a cave. You pointed it out and asked Schala, your voice full of hope: "Is this it? Did we make it?""No..." came her disappointed reply "It's a different cave... There are more than one in those mountains. We're not there yet..."Approaching this cave, you determined that it might still be good for something. Its entrance was a little shorter than you were and barely wider than two people, but it opened up deeper in. Both you and Schala would fit comfortably inside, but the entrance was definitely far too small for the Gosnell. There was a chance it wasn't empty though. You couldn't see the far end from the entrance. Who knew where it led, if it led anywhere. The wind was picking up and it was getting even colder. Was a blizzard approaching? Oh Lavos, that was the last thing you needed right now!How would you use this cave?>You and Schala would stay in the cave. Either the Gosnell would get bored and leave, or someone would come to drive it out. In the meantime, you'd both be safe in there.>You'd both keep going. It was a risk, but you believed you could pull it off. It was the fastest way to reach your destination.>You'd ask Schala to stay in the cave where it was safe while you'd go by yourself to seek the Earthbound village and ask them for help. She'd be safe, and you could move faster without her.>Other (write-in)
>>5376268>You'd both keep going. It was a risk, but you believed you could pull it off. It was the fastest way to reach your destination.
>>5376268>>You and Schala would stay in the cave. Either the Gosnell would get bored and leave, or someone would come to drive it out. In the meantime, you'd both be safe in there.
>>5376268>You and Schala would stay in the cave. Either the Gosnell would get bored and leave, or someone would come to drive it out. In the meantime, you'd both be safe in there.
>>5376268What an unpleasant situation. Wasting both time and energy for purpose of our trip.Well I guess safety of the princess takes priority and we can’t ensure that if we keep going or leave her alone. So> >You and Schala would stay in the cave. Either the Gosnell would get bored and leave, or someone would come to drive it out. In the meantime, you'd both be safe in there.Ah well, I guess at least we’ll have some more time to chat with her.
>You'd both keep going. It was a risk, but you believed you could pull it off. It was the fastest way to reach your destination.>>5376269>You and Schala would stay in the cave. Either the Gosnell would get bored and leave, or someone would come to drive it out. In the meantime, you'd both be safe in there.>>5376354>>5376547>>5376567>>5376568Into the cave you go.
"We should get in that cave!" you shouted loud enough to go over the noise of the rising wind.Schala nodded, shouted back a simple "Right!" and followed you. Her pendant had gotten loose from inside her robes while she run. It was a simple design, round and golden with a large blue gemstone set in its center.The wind got more quiet as you stepped inside. The cave's walls were lined with bioluminescent mushrooms, giving off a dim green light - not the blue in that underwater lake that Schala had described. With the way things had gone you'd probably not get to see it today after all, but you consoled yourself with the fact that things could have been much worse."The entrance is too narrow for the Gosnell to follow us. We'll be safe in here." You projected an air of confidence that you only now were beginning to feel and tried to reassure her."Gosnell? Is that how that creature is called? You've fought one before?""Yeah, that's their name. And no, this is the first time I saw one. My father was the one to have fought one of them and he told me that story.""So that's how you knew about it... oh, Gaius, you saved my life! You were amazing back there!"Amazing? You didn't really feel that way. You'd mostly just panicked and ran away. But if she really thought so... you couldn't deny that her praise made you feel warmer. You didn't know how to respond though, so you just let her continue. "You were so fearless! Me, I could have helped... made it slower or made us faster, but... I just couldn't think. My mind went blank when it roared. I'm so useless..."She could? That was interesting. But not right now. "It's alright Princess. You didn't have to do anything. We got away, didn't we? I was scared too, to tell the truth, just... better prepared, I guess. You'll help next time, err, not that I want there to be a next time, err, I mean a next time going into danger, I do want there to be a next time to see you... ahem" You coughed to regain your composure before continuing. "We're safe now, that's all that matters. Maybe it'll leave when it sees that it can't eat us. Or we'll be rescued in a few hours. Those craters around where we first saw it must have been made by the Blackbird's guns. I bet Dalton is leading a sortie to kill it as we speak." Your distaste for the man was evident on your face as you spoke his name, but as the commander, he had to do something about a powerful monster so close to the Kingdom, right?"Dalton..." Schala looked anguished as she spoke. "If we can't get away, if he's the one to find us... please, you'll have to hide. He can't see you. If he does... Mother would never hurt me, but... I couldn't bear to see you getting hurt because of me. You have to keep yourself safe. Please, Gaius, promise me!"
What her words hinted regarding life in the Palace was unpleasant to think about, but there was only one answer you could give. You looked straight at her pleading eyes and took her hands in yours. "I promise you Schala. I'll hide if he gets here. He'll never see me in the shadows. But... he's going to take you away... I want to see you again after today.""I want to see you too Gaius..." She bit her lip, deep in thought. "One week from today. I won't be able to sneak away again too soon. I'll meet you at the waterfalls when the sun rises. I'll... understand if you don't want to come...""In one week, at the waterfalls." you repeated forcefully. "I'll be there. It's a date!" You smiled, echoing the words that now seemed so long ago."A date... next time you-""RRROOOOOAAAAAARRRRRGGGHH!"The Gosnell frustrated roar interrupted whatever she wanted to say. You were so engrossed that you hadn't heard it approaching. It was stuck at the entrance, failing to force its way in and impotently clawing at the walls.You pulled Schala away from it. "We should head further in so it can't see us. And maybe there's another entrance or the cave is connected to the Earthbound caves?" Or maybe it was inhabited by another monster? You didn't voice that part though."Right" She nodded and followed you.The cave wasn't very impressive, if you were to be honest. It was exactly how you imagined a typical cave to be when you had read about them. Just a roughly straight cylindrical corridor going down on a gentle slope, with rocks, stalactites and stalagmites. The green phosphorescent fungi were the most, no the only, interesting thing about it. It wasn't very deep either. You soon reached the far end and let out a disappointed sigh."It's a dead end. I guess we're stuck here for now. We should rest a little, then I'll go back to see if it left." You slumped on the side wall and let yourself fall down. Schala slowly moved towards the back. Suddenly exhausted, you closed your eyes and rested your head on the wall.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM1EFKmiBZAA cacophony from the back of the cave made you snap them open again. A round red portal had appeared behind Schala. Her pendant was glowing. Blue lightning crackled around her, originating from that pendant. She looked terrified. "Gaius!" She rose her hand towards you and an instant later - she was gone. The portal shrunk down to a small, red, glowing ball. The pendant fell to the ground. You...>Rushed after her.>Didn't.You all saw this coming
>>5377117>Rushed after her.
>>5377117Gosh, I guess we'll just have to go home...>Rushed after her.
>>5377117>>Rushed after her.
>>5377117> >Rushed after her.ReeeeWell here’s hoping we can at least get to work creating paradoxes rather than trying to sneak royal jewelry past the guards…
>Rushed after her.>>5377128>>5377130>>5377259>>5377263>>5377286>>5377503>>5377523>>5377585And the adventure begins.
You rushed after her. That pendant seemed to be the key, so you picked it up. It was warm to the touch. You held it closer to the still glowing floating ball. Blue lightning began crackling around you. The pendant grew hotter but you kept holding it tightly, your knuckles whitening. Your heart raced as the ball expanded into that red gate again and you jumped in before it had even grown to its full size.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRB29nXmq-QThe journey was... difficult to describe. Like squeezing through a pulsating, radiating tiny straw that expanded infinitely in all directions. You emerged in another cave, illuminated only by the blue glimmer - blue? Wasn't the other portal red? - of the portal. But that light too went out as the portal shrunk and disappeared, leaving nothing behind. Not even that glowing sphere you had seen before. You could see nothing in the pitch black cave. You felt dizzy and struggled to maintain your balance. But there was no time to wait for your lightheadedness to recede."SCHALAAA!!!" you yelled at the top of your lungs and waited for long, agonizing moments. No response. You were alone.[Princess Schala has left your party]
Where was she? Without waiting for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, you put your left hand to the wall and hurried ahead. The shadows were not your enemy. Time was. Your rush caused you to stumble and fall on the jagged rocks, feeling sharp pangs of pain in your hands and knees. The pendant fell from your grasp and, still on your knees, you fumbled in the darkness trying to find it. After your fingers touched its metallic chain, you quickly clutched and pocketed it. You wouldn't lose something important of hers just because you were clumsy. You stood back up and didn't even bother dusting yourself off before continuing. She'd entered the portal mere moments before you. She couldn't have gone far. Had someone taken her? You could see the dim light of an exit far ahead and you advanced as fast as you could in the shadows. You fell two more times before reaching it. This cave was more uneven than the last. And when you reached the exit... the world you saw was not the one you knew.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sa7vHLNZxdAIf the surface you had seen underneath the Kingdom of Zeal was white, this one was the opposite. There was not a hint of snow or ice anywhere and no green either. The bare soil was dark and lifeless. The sun was still not visible, but it wasn't blocked by white clouds. Instead, thick, black smoke lingered above like a solid ceiling. Gray ash floated everywhere and clung to your sweaty skin and hair. You looked down at your hands and legs and saw they were full of slowly bleeding cuts. The rocks in that cave must have had sharper edges than you had realized. There was a round burn on your palm, where you had gripped the pendant. You couldn't remember where your gloves were, but it didn't matter. It was still cold, but nowhere near as bad as it was before. You could easily tolerate it without your bulky gear. What was this place? It looked like nothing you had ever read or heard about before.There were no footprints, but you wouldn't expect there to be on the hard ground. You scanned the horizon for signs of where Schala might be. A road, not well maintained at all, extended from the west to the south. To the south, on one end of that road, was an enormous dome made from some sort of dull, corroded metal. It was large enough to house a city, and a city much larger than Kajar or Enhasa were. On the other end of the road, to the west, lay a far smaller dome, the size of a large building instead of a city. A temple perhaps? A gust of cold wind swept down from behind you and you turned and looked up. You stood at the foot of a mountain range, with most of the mountains as dark and lifeless as the soil around you. Yet the peak directly above you was uniquely cold and snowy.Where would you go next?>The large dome to the south.>The small dome to the west.>Up the snowy mountain.>Nowhere. You'd wait for her here.>Other (write-in)
>>5378006Hmm… the smaller dome kind of stands out and might be quicker to check out. But larger dome could have people in it or more opportunity to hide it salvage… in either case hiking could probably wait until we found our bearings, unless we have reason to suspect princess was taken there.Let’s go with bigger dome first?
>>5378019Hide or* salvage
>>5378006>The large dome to the south.
>>5378006>>The small dome to the west.cant remember the game well enough where to go
>>5378006>Up the snowy mountain.It's strange territory, might be full of monsters. If the rest of the world isn't cold and snowy, they're probably not adapted to the snow. So she might figure that the cold would ward them off, while she has clothes specialized for the snow to last there a while. Same for us.At least, that's the kind of logic I imagine we might use...
>>5378006>>The large dome to the south.Balthasar might help. Probably won't.
>>5378167Oh yeah, we got the full power pendant, we could just get the Epoch. If it was finished by now.
>The large dome to the south.>>5378019>>5378040>>5378076>>5378167>The small dome to the west.>>5378050>Up the snowy mountain.>>5378097Can I have some dice? 3d100, BO3, DC: 40
Rolled 34, 79, 18 = 131 (3d100)>>5378461lets not get eaten by mutants
Rolled 24, 60, 73 = 157 (3d100)>>5378461
Rolled 96, 48, 46 = 190 (3d100)>>5378461or mugged by robot bikers
The large dome to the south. If it was a city, there would be people there. Maybe they'd seen her. Maybe they'd taken her. At the very least, they'd be able to tell you where you were.Your heavy cloak wouldn't be needed anymore and would only hinder your movements so you stashed it in an alcove before heading towards the road. You wrapped your old cloak around your face to protect your lungs from the stinging, stale, ash-filled air. The road was black, made from some rough material you hadn't seen before. Its uniform surface was unlike the roads of Zeal and warm to the touch. 'not well maintained at all' had been an understatement. The road was filled with cracks and holes. A cart would have found it impossible to travel on its surface, though it would be merely difficult on foot. You headed south, following the road as it looped around the dome.From up close the dome looked in a bad shape. The metal was rusted and dented. You found the entrance on its southern side. It was a pair of giant metal doors, in no better condition than the surrounding walls. They were closed and you doubted you could get them open without them falling down on top of you. You searched for another entrance and found it in the form of a rip up on the side of the dome, more than large enough for you to go through.Climbing the dome wasn't hard at all. There was a catwalk right under you on the inside. You jumped down and surveyed the ruined city from your newfound vantage point. The air was clearer here. Less ash had found its way inside. Its roads were made from the same substance as the one you had just followed and, while wider than those of Kajar, seemed small next to the tall structures. All of the buildings that you could see were crumbling and open to the elements, their metal skeletons visible extruding from their torn walls. On the center of the dome was a building taller, wider and seemingly in somewhat of a better condition than the rest. Rubble filled the streets, making navigation difficult. Strange large machines were buried here and there beneath that rubble. It was eerily quiet other than the groan of metal and the sound of the wind behind you. There were no signs of life, and no indication of what had happened to the inhabitants. Not even their skeletons. What had happened here?
You climbed a rusted ladder down to ground level, only to have it snap and fall after a few steps. You quickly jumped off it and grabbed onto a pair of metal bars jutting out of the wall. Carefully you climbed down the broken wall, landing with no injury. You began the arduous task of navigating the debris-filled streets, heading towards the large building in the center of the dome, when you noticed an alley to your right that seemed to be clearer than the rest. On a hunch, you turned to investigate it and you were rewarded with the first signs of recent habitation: A circle of bricks stacked around a pile of ash that could have only come from a fire. And stuck underneath one of the bricks was a torn fragment of a page, burnt at the edges and hastily written in the language of Zeal.'...orld is truly dead. I've seen no living beings. Only dead machines and machines that shouldn't be alive. I'll search the west side of the ci...'What would you do next?>Follow the clue, head to the west side of the city.>Head to that building in the center.>Leave and go to the smaller dome to the north.>Return to the cave.>Climb the snowy mountain.>Other (write-in)
>>5378738>>Follow the clue, head to the west side of the city.
>>5378738>Follow the clue, head to the west side of the city.
>>5378738>Head to that building in the centerWe're already there, may as well investigate for loot.
>Follow the clue, head to the west side of the city.>>5378743>>5378747>>5378771>>5378826>>5378919>Head to that building in the center>>5378979Alright, it's time. 2d100, bo3, DC50.
Rolled 63, 74 = 137 (2d100)>>5379271
Rolled 17, 83 = 100 (2d100)>>5379271let's hope it's friendly, whoever it is
Rolled 27, 98 = 125 (2d100)>>5379271
How long ago was this camp made? Was someone left alive in this city after the catastrophe that befell it and resulted in its current condition? And what did it mean that he knew the language of Zeal? Could it be that someone else from your kingdom had been transported here before Schala and you, only to find it empty? Was it even a he, or a she? Did time pass differently here and what had seemed only moments to you was actually considerably longer? Had Schala spent days, months, years in this world of ruin, wandering alone, waiting for a rescue that would never come? Was she even still... No, you couldn't lose hope. You'd find her and you'd both return home. You'd have to keep going.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue04umSaCWUFollowing the trail of this mysterious person and the clue he - it had to be a he - had left behind, you headed to the west side of the city. The streets were as difficult to move through as you had expected. More than once you found them blocked by a mountain of debris that you couldn't climb, forcing you to backtrack and search for a different route, setting back your progress and making your frustrations mount. This far in, you could no longer hear the wind outside. There were no sounds other than the ones caused by you and those of the groaning, decaying buildings. The city was eerily quiet. You considered shouting to call for Schala, but decided against it. There was no guarantee that whatever responded would be friendly, and you didn't want to test your chances against something that had killed an entire city and maybe an entire world.You passed through what must once have been a shopping district. Signs, once inviting and colorful but now faded and broken lined the street. You checked a few of them hoping to find something useful, food especially. You could conjure water, but you wouldn't be able to survive long without food. But there was no such thing to be found. The stores had been picked clean. All that remained were shards of broken glass and the remnants of what had once been up for sale. Humanlike dolls with nothing but colorful wigs and scraps of clothing, small metal devices that had long ago ceased functioning, pieces of packaging decorated with pictures of various different and exotic types of food, long rotten and inedible. You found only two things that were not useless garbage: An upgrade over the staff you had trained with all these years:Acquired Iron StaffAnd a book, torn in half and singed, written by the same shaky hand as that fragment you had found before, with only its last sentence barely readable.'...ve been alone for so long. Finally we're reunited! Oh, the joy!' The next pages of the book were all blank. Had something happened to the author, or had he thrown it away now that he apparently had found company? You supposed you would know the answer when you found him, if he was still alive.
You pressed on. Just past the last store in the row, you turned a corner and saw... there were two human figures in the distance, half obstructed by the intervening debris, both with their backs turned to you. One was short and round with a strange faded blue cap, but you could make no other details about him. And the other... she was taller than him, almost as tall as you. Even from this distance you could see that the purple of her flowing robes had faded, but her long, blue hair, set in a ponytail that almost reached her waist made it hard to mistake her for someone else. Was the blue of hair hair a tone lighter than you remembered? No matter, it was her! You had found Schala!You almost began running to her, but paused when you considered the oddity of the situation. They were both completely still and silent. And from a difficult to determine point to your left, you could hear a repeating, mechanical sound, like metal striking stone with a constant 'tap, tap, tap'. Was this an ambush?What would you do?>Ignore the noise, run to her.>Ignore the noise, approach her carefully.>Ignore the noise, attack her kidnapper from afar.>Investigate the source of the noise.>Surprise the source of the noise with a ranged attack.>Other (write-in)
I'm trying something different than pastebin for the character sheets.https://www.worldanvil.com/w/frozen-moment-chronoqmWhat do you guys think? It's a bit more work to set this up, but I don't mind if it looks better than raw text. Otherwise, I'll stick with pastebin.
>>5379469>>Ignore the noise, run to her.
>>5379474Neat website, I like it.
>>5379469>Investigate the source of the noise.Let's not take chancesWebsite looks fantastic!
>>5379469>Ignore the noise, run to her.I wanna be stupid
>>5379469>Ignore the noise, run to her.lean into the tropes!
>>5379469>Approach carefully, but be mindful of the noise, keep track of direction it's coming from.The noise could also be hostile to both us and them after all.>>5379474looking good OP!
>>5379469>Ignore the noise, run to her.
>Ignore the noise, run to her.>>5379475>>5379512>>5379540>>5379552>Investigate the source of the noise.>>5379493>Approach carefully, but be mindful of the noise, keep track of direction it's coming from.>>5379551So you're gonna run to her. Time to see what happens. 1d100, bo3, DC: 90I'm glad you all like the page, gonna keep working on it.
Rolled 72 (1d100)>>5379614Well, well, well, if it isn't the consequences of my actions
Rolled 90 (1d100)>>5379614Hello, Dice Gods my old friends~
Rolled 50 (1d100)>>5379614
You ran to her. The noise wasn't important. It was nothing. But Schala... how much time had passed for her, if her clothes and hair had lost their color like that? Were you late before you'd even began? You couldn't waste a single moment more!Your adrenaline pumped and you focused on maintaining your footing in the rough road ahead. But as you ran between the rubble, you caught a flash of light coming from the left with the corner of your eye with an accompanying 'zap'. Instinctively, impossibly, you twisted your body to dodge and felt the heat of the blast graze your gut as it passed you by and hit the wall behind you. You turned to look at the source of the blast. It was a small robot, built like a spider with four legs and a laser emitter on its head. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJpBeAONIgwYou patted your side. Your clothes were singed, but there was no injury. The robot was charging a second shot.Now what?>Keep running to Schala.>Jump back.>Cast Water I at the robot.>Run towards it and hit it with your staff.>Other (write-in)
>>5379678>>Cast Water I at the robot.
>>5379678>Run towards it and hit it with your staff.
>>5379678>Cast Water I at the robotmaybe we can short circuit it? let's hope our water is dirty enough for that.
>>5379678>>Run towards it and hit it with your staff.
>>5379678>Cast Water I at the robot.
>Cast Water I at the robot.>>5379681>>5379692>>5379707>>5380306>Run towards it and hit it with your staff.>>5379697>>5379881>>5380012>>5380020We're tied.
>>5380506>Cast Water I at the robot.Tie breaker!!
>>5380507In that case, I'll have to ask for some dice. 1d100, bo3, DC: 30, high DC: 75.
Rolled 55 (1d100)>>5380508none shall stand between us, and the paradox princess!
Rolled 69 (1d100)>>5380508
Rolled 57 (1d100)>>5380508Roll
Nothing would stand between you and the Princess. You'd have to spend some of your limited mana to end the fight quickly. You raised your hand towards the robot and cast your spell in a fluid motion."Water!"Almost simultaneously, you saw another flash of light coming from its head along with the telltale 'zap'. But your concentration on your own spell made it impossible to dodge this time. There was a sharp pain on your abdomen as your spell hit its mark. The robot was thrown back half a meter from the force of the blast alone and then it sputtered and died in a shower of sparks. You'd won your first victory! But there was no time to celebrate. You examined your abdomen. The wound hurt like hell but there was no bleeding. The laser blast that caused it had also cauterized it. How considerate. You could heal it, along with your earlier cuts and the burn on your palm, but you weren't in any immediate danger from any of them and the pain would pass soon. Schala and the short man besides her hadn't reacted to the battle at all. And now that you were closer, you could see that she no longer wore the golden flower you had bought her. Had she really lost it?You decided to>heal yourself with Cure I>conserve your manaand>run to her.>approach carefully. Something is wrong.>cast Water I at her kidnapper.>other (Write-in)
>>5380559>>approach carefully. Something is wrong.
>>5380559>conserve your mana>approach carefully. Something is wrong.
>>5380559>>conserve your mana>approach carefully. Something is wrong.
>>5380559>>approach carefully. Something is wrong.>conserve your mana
>conserve your mana>>5380572>>5380587>>5380617>>5381121>approach carefully. Something is wrong.>>5380563>>5380572>>5380587>>5380617>>5381121Economy and caution.I'm probably gonna stop tallying unanimous decisions, there's not much of a point.
You decided to conserve your mana. The pain would only be passing, but you'd need your spells if you came across more of those robots, or someone who needed help. You couldn't afford to run out just yet.You began making your way to Schala and that man, approaching carefully this time, moving low to the ground, keeping to the rubble as cover, ready to dodge or attack at the first sign of danger. You didn't want to make the same mistake twice. You strained your ears trying to hear the sound of another spider robot's footsteps or the zap of its weapon. Your eyes darted back and forth, looking for another ambush. A particularly tall pile of rubble looked like a prime location for enemies to be hiding behind so you climbed over it, looking to surprise whatever was there, but there was nothing. You jumped down with a grunt of pain, all the while glancing at Schala and the fat man who were still silent and unmoving.As you came closer, you lost your patience and called out to her, hidden enemies be damned. "Schala!" But there was no response. You quickened your pace. And when you reached her, you could no longer hold back. You pulled on her shoulder to look at her face. "Scha-!"Your voice died in your throat. Your mind went blank. What...What?It wasn't her. It was... a doll. Of her. Of that there was no doubt. It was well-made. Enough to resemble her, even the features of the doll's face. Only the colors were off. It was clear that whoever had made the doll knew her well. What was going on?The other doll was that of a short, fat old man with a giant gray moustache, black glasses, a blue and yellow tunic and a strange blue hat. You didn't recognise him, but that doll had also been well made. Leaving the dolls aside, you scoured the camp site for signs of its occupant. But there were none. It hadn't been inhabited in a long time. Was its occupant dead? Or had he abandoned it like his previous one? You couldn't tell, and this time there was no convenient scrap of paper pointing you in the right direction. The only other thing that you found was an old, worn music box. Its mechanism seemed to be working, but as with everything else, there was no indication of who had made it or why.You felt very weary all of a sudden. You had followed the trail of clues here and left with more questions than answers. The only landmark visible from your vantage point in the catwalk when you first entered the dome was the central building, the one that was larger and less worn down than the rest. But was it even worth staying here?What would you do next?>Sit down, wind up the music box, rest for a moment and think.>Randomly wander the city.>Head to that central building. It looks important.>Leave the city. (and go where?)>Other (write-in)
>>5381688>Sit down, wind up the music box, rest for a moment and think.There might be more going on at this camp than we can see currently
>>5381688>>Sit down, wind up the music box, rest for a moment and think.
>>5381688Let the music play.As bizarre as the situation is, Shala doll is a clear link to what happened. When was it made, and by whom? And who could the other doll represent? And who made those notes in our language in this strange land?
>>5381688>Sit down, wind up the music box, rest for a moment and think.
>>5381688>Sit down, wind up the music box, rest for a moment and think. We're not gonna put the schala doll in the inventory?
>>5382204It's life sized, I'm sorry if I didn't make this clear enough. Gaius is not insane enough to mistake a tiny doll for the real thing.Yet. You can carry it if you want, but it's not gonna vanish in a bag of holding. I'll let you vote on it in the next update.Why is a spoiler tag around "Yet." not working reeee
You sat down, with the music box still in your hand. Just a moment of rest. You needed it. It wouldn't hurt to rest for a moment. Well, your wounds still hurt, but less so than before. Rest would help with this pain too. You wound up the old music box and let it play.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt9xP8i-YewThe melody reminded you of Schala in a way. If you half-closed your eyes, you could almost pretend that the doll was her and begin speaking to it. But no, it had only been a few hours. You weren't that mad yet, unlike the mysterious dollmaker. How did he know Schala? Was it someone who knew her before coming here? Someone from your time, transported here in the same way that you did, slowly going mad as he wandered a dead city where only the machines moved? Or did he meet her here? Did the last survivor of this place come to know her, like her and then miss her enough to make that doll? Was she buried in some grave - no, you didn't want to think about that.Fiddling with the still playing box, you focused your thoughts on what you had seen. The world you had found yourself in was dead and lifeless. You had initially assumed it was a different world, but... maybe it was the future of your own world after all. Some scholars back in Kajar hypothesized that the Ice Age was a result of natural weather patterns - you had read the treatise - and it would dissipate on its own in time, letting the world restore itself to the verdant green it had once been. If that was the case... you could speculate about the timeline. Thousands of years after your time, the glaciers receded. Zeal had no use for the surface, but the Earthbound Ones who survived in the age of cold, would thrive in a new era of plenty. They created a civilization, one based on technology and machines instead of the magic that was denied them, they prospered and then... they vanished, as if by magic.There could be only one culprit. The Eternal Magical Kingdom of Zeal. War must have broken out, terrible sorceries unleashed, resulting in the ruins around you. Had the Earthbound Ones fired the first shot, resentful over Zeal's unfair treatment of them? Or had the Enlightened Ones seen a growing threat and moved to neutralize it before it grew too powerful? There was no way to tell, but the outcome was the same either way. Utter annihilation of the Earthbound civilization, leaving only their machines and their ruins behind.
You closed your eyes. Had the Kingdom of Zeal survived the conflict? Was it still up there, above the dark smog? Had the Ocean Palace brought immortality to everyone as promised? Was... was your mother still waiting for you by her window, thousands of years after you vanished? No, you somehow doubted it. You saw a vivid image of the floating islands being stricken by giant beams of light from below, breaking up as they fell. It was unlikely that anyone was left alive. Other than the one survivor whose cold trailed you had followed. He wouldn't have found himself so lonely as if to create those dolls if he had the company of people. How did he know Schala? You kept returning to that question. You would have to find and ask him, if he was still alive.You opened your eyes again. The box's music had stopped playing. Your body's wounds no longer hurt. Your moment of rest was over. It was time to move on. Where to?>The large building in the center of the city. It is the only unexplored landmark left here.>The smaller dome north of the city. Who knows what it might hold?>Back to the cave. Perhaps Schala returned there?>Climb the snowy mountain. Or maybe she sought comfort in the familiar cold?>Other (write-in)And what would you do with the doll of Schala?>Carry it with you. It would make navigating the city more difficult, but you couldn't just leave it here.>Leave it here. Never mind more difficult, it would be too weird. What would Schala say if you found her while carrying a doll of her likeness?
>>5382641>The large building in the center of the city. It is the only unexplored landmark left here.>Leave it here. Never mind more difficult, it would be too weird. What would Schala say if you found her while carrying a doll of her likeness?
>>5382641>>The large building in the center of the city. It is the only unexplored landmark left here.>Leave it here. Never mind more difficult, it would be too weird. What would Schala say if you found her while carrying a doll of her likeness?
>>5382641Let’s go to the central building and try to find out more about this world… place, or time.Leave the dolls, or maybe shift them to a more sheltered location. We may feel sentimental but we have much work to do if we’re to survive in this desolation.
>>5382641>The large building in the center of the city. It is the only unexplored landmark left here.>Carry it with you. It would make navigating the city more difficult, but you couldn't just leave it here.
>>5382641>>The large building in the center of the city. It is the only unexplored landmark left here.>Carry it with you. It would make navigating the city more difficult, but you couldn't just leave it here.
>The large building in the center of the city. It is the only unexplored landmark left here.>Leave it here. Never mind more difficult, it would be too weird. What would Schala say if you found her while carrying a doll of her likeness?>>5382648>>5382650>>5382652>>5383293>The large building in the center of the city. It is the only unexplored landmark left here.>Carry it with you. It would make navigating the city more difficult, but you couldn't just leave it here.>>5382710>>5383081Calling it now for the large building and not taking the doll.
You would leave the doll here. Part of you wanted to take it with you, but it would make your movements more difficult if you carried it. Not to mention how creepy it would be to have it on you if you found the real Schala. You refused to give up hope of finding her already, and yet... it didn't really feel right to leave her like this. It was just a doll but... it looked so much like the real thing. You didn't want to imagine it burnt by robots like the one you'd encountered, or smashed and buried under the rubble of a collapsing building.You were a sentimental fool to waste your time like that but it wouldn't take that long. There was an empty metal shed on the side of the road. The building closest to it had already collapsed, so it was in no danger of being buried under rubble in your absense. You moved Schala's doll in there and, after a moment's hesitation, the fat man's too. You had no idea who it might be, but he was important to the dollmaker. It wouldn't be right to leave only one of the dolls exposed like that. You covered up the open side of the shed with some of the debris lying around and when you were done, you swiped the sweat off your brow, satisfied with the result. The dolls would be safe in there and no one other than you would suspect there was anything in that shed.Feeling somewhat embarrassed at expending all this effort for two soulless dolls, one of which you didn't even care about all that much, you headed towards the large building lying in the dead center of the city. You couldn't really see it from where you were, but you remembered its general location from when you looked on the city from up high. Making your way there wasn't very difficult, though your pace was slowed by your caution. You wouldn't be caught unaware a second time. An unexpected clearing in the middle of all the concrete - with that much dark, dead soil it could have only been a park once - allowed you to view your destination and adjust your course. It was just a little to the right of where you thought it would be.When you reached the building, half as tall as those around it, you could see that it was in a better state than any of the other structures you had seen in this city. The set of tall double metal doors that served as its main entrance looked surprisingly free of rust. Circling around it once only confirmed your impression. There were no holes or cracks in it and no other way to get in, not even a single window. With no other options, you pushed on the heavy doors.
They opened with a loud groan. Anyone inside had surely been alarmed. You prepared for combat as you waited for your eyes to adjust to the darkness but nothing moved. You could only see a vast entry hall lined with columns. The air was stale and a heavy dusty fog made it difficult to see far. You sneezed after a few breaths and you immediately went on guard against anything that might have heard you, but once again there was nothing.You carefully crossed the spacious area towards its only exit. A few small rooms lined the corridor on the other side, with nothing of interest in them. You turned a right corner and brought yourself to a stop before a staircase leading up and down. You paused to consider your options.The faint odour of decay wafted in the dusty air, originating from the dark stairs heading down. From your left you could hear machinery working, loud enough to be heard even through the closed door. The soft sound of footsteps came from the corridor straight ahead. And was that a squeak coming from upstairs?>Go left>Go upstairs>Go downstairs>Go straight ahead>Other (write-in)
>>5383879>Go straight ahead
>>5383879>>Go straight ahead
Footsteps straight ahead. That meant people. A survivor? Or maybe a bipedal robot? No, it didn't sound like metal. It must have been a human. You couldn't ignore that, had to follow the sound of the footsteps. Your questions could be answered soon. Or...Could you hope that it was her?You hurried straight ahead in the murk of the empty corridors, ignoring the stairs and doors on your way. Nothing else in this building could be as important as finding someone alive. Black rectangular panels of glass lined the corridor here and there. They looked like windows, except they showed nothing, and you wondered about the lack of windows in this building. Were they related? Had Earthbound technology advanced enough for them to invent windows that could peer through walls? They were evidently not working, so that was something you may never know, trivial as it may have been.Your nerves returned as you reached the entrance to the room from which the sound you were following was emanating and your mind stopped wandering. You hid in the shadows of the corridor and peeked the room, hoping to see its occupant before he saw you. What you saw first... was a Nu. Of all the things to have possibly survived the apocalypse, why did the first creature you encountered had to be a Nu? Despite their undeniable usefulness and servile behaviour, or perhaps because of it, these things always gave you the creeps. Was your anticipation really just for one, measly Nu?No, the Nu was holding still, looking at some point behind a small wall that blocked your field of view, but you could still hear footsteps. You adjusted your position in the doorway, trying to get a better view of the room. The next thing you saw confirmed some of your earlier suspicions about the fate of the world and gave you more evidence to refine your theory. In an indent on the far side of the wall was emblazoned the symbol of Zeal in a prominent position. It was the first identifying mark you had seen in your entire time in this forsaken city, and it told you enough. The Kingdom of Zeal ruled these lands. This was the future of your world, and you had been mistaken. It wasn't war between two nations, a magical and a technological one, that ended the world. It was a rebellion, the oppressed Earthbound Ones seeking to finally free themselves from the yoke of the tyrants beyond the clouds. From enslaving them to build the Ocean Palace to this... it wasn't much of a surprise if you were to be honest. An immortal Queen Zeal, with no one to check her ambitions... with Princess Schala missing for possibly thousands of years... yes, you were naive to expect she would have let the Earthbound Ones dominate the surface free of her control. And many of your people would praise her leadership, especially after moving the Mammon Machine to the Ocean Palace provided them with immortality.
With your musings done, you scanned the room for the reason you had come here, the source of the footprints. And you found it: it was an old man, tall and lanky, with thick white eyebrows, a beard and a moustache, wearing a purple and orange tunic underneath a white cloak and a hat reminiscent to that of the doll you had seen earlier. His clothes were no rags, but of fine quality, if worn and faded. He was pacing forcefully and muttering something to himself. Neither he nor his blue servant seemed to have noticed your arrival. You observed him for some time, as well as the room, and when you were satisfied that you hadn't missed anything, you stepped out.His reaction was immediate when he saw you. He stopped in his tracks, looked at you with fervent wide opened eyes, and forlornly said:"Schala... I've missed you so..."Then seemingly losing interest in you, he turned away and continued pacing and mumbling incomprehensibly.Your response?>"WHERE IS SHE?">"Who are you?">"Where are we?">"What happened here?">Other (write-in)
>>5384829>introduce yourself(Although I don’t know, is it a good idea to volunteer our name here?)>Who are you?>Do you know what happened here?
>>5384829>"WHERE IS SHE?"
>>5384829>>"Who are you?"
>>5384829>"Who are you?"
>introduce yourself>Who are you?>Do you know what happened here?>>5384832>"WHERE IS SHE?">>5384837>"Who are you?">>5384862>>5384969So, just asking who he is. Calling a little earlier than usual today.
This old man didn't look very well. You wanted to scream at him to tell you where Schala was, but it wouldn't be very productive, you knew it. And something told you it might not be a good idea to volunteer your name just yet. First things first. You let out a sigh to calm your nerves."Hello." you said a little hesitantly, raising your right hand in a friendly greeting. "Who are you?"He snapped backed his attention to you and regarded you with curious eyes "It speaks... They do so rarely speak. So long since I last heard one speak... other than my assistant here" and he gestured at the Nu. "It speaks all the time!" he added quietly like a conspirator sharing a secret."I am pleased to keep you company, o Wise One! I await your instructions." the Nu interjected."I didn't ask for your opinion. Back to work, critter!" the old man seemed to have gotten angry at his Nu. The Nu who had remained still since you first saw it, moved to a nearby table and began fiddling with some mechanical components.He turned back to you with, now calm. "My name... It wouldn't mean anything to you... Say! Did you see my masterpieces? The Ocean Palace and the Blackbird? I designed and built them both."The... what? The Blackbird? The Ocean Palace? You had seen one of them with your own eyes and heard about the other, but... if he had designed and built them, then that meant he must have been..."...Balthazar?""That name! You shouldn't know that name... Did he send you? NO! I see clearly now. I built a third and forgot about it... Now, begone apparition! I still have much work to do and time, so little time!"He had all but confirmed his identity. Balthazar, the Guru of Reason, architect of the Kingdom of Zeal's grandest projects... how had he ended up here like this, alone and more than half crazy? What was going on? And if he was the one who built those dolls, did it mean that he hadn't seen Schala after you lost her, after all?>Explain who you are and how you got here.>Ask him about Schala, he mentioned her earlier.>Ask him what happened to him.>Ask him about the man that he dislikes so much.>Ask him what happened to this world.>Ask him what he's working on.>Leave as he requested (and go where?)>Other (Write-in)
>>5385289>>Ask him about Schala, he mentioned her earlier.>Ask him what happened to him.>Ask him what happened to this world.
>>5385289>>>Ask him about Schala, he mentioned her earlier.>>Ask him what happened to him.>>Ask him what happened to this world.
>>5385289Can we try to cure him?
>>5385289Regardless, ask about everything. Starting with what is this place and then if he knows anything about red and blue portals
>>5385346Magic has limits anon
>>5385362Well we’re healer so we’d be remiss to not at least try to milk that specialisation here
>>5385346You can certainly try.>>5385360Just to clarify, you want to ask about this place first, the portals second, and everything else after that in the order of the prompts?
>>5385367I’ll leave it to your discretion but the idea was to ask about the current circumstances and historical context and then segue into how we found ourselves in this mess along with hopefully a way out, or at least forward.t. phonefag
Id changed again I am >>5384837
>Ask him about Schala, he mentioned her earlier.>Ask him what happened to him.>Ask him what happened to this world.>>5385299>>5385307>>5385620>ask about everything. Starting with what is this place and then if he knows anything about red and blue portals>>5385360
The old man - you would have never believed it was actually the guru Balthazar if not for your own recent experiences - joined the Nu on that table, working on who knows what. But you couldn't leave just yet. You still had so many questions! You had to risk annoying him further, so you started with the most important one."Err, excuse me, again, but I'm looking for Schala, err, Princess Schala. We were together but we got separated near here. You may have built a doll of her. Have you seen her?"He stopped his work and loudly exhaled without turning to look at you. "Schala? That's not a name you should know either, apparition. I told you to begone, now stop bothering me and begone!""You, err, mentioned her earlier..."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1gX3F-BVeU"I did, did I? You were together? I suppose you were, I built you this way. And separated now... I'm sorry, I'm sorry I couldn't carry you. No matter... I saw it... I was there at the end... she's gone... she's gone, it's gone, they're gone, THEY'RE ALL GONE, and it's my fault, my fault, my fault..." he ended in barely a whisper as he turned to face you, looking ready to cry. "He was right, he was right about everything. I should have listened to him when he saw what it did to her, when WE ALL saw what it did to her... he regretted building that machine before the end... he tried to fix things... I thought I could do better, make it better... now it's after the end and regrets is all I have left... if the three of us had united maybe... but I can fix it, I can fix all of it! I can fix everything! Time is the key! He was right about that, at least!"Gone? She was gone? And he saw her end? No! You couldn't believe it! You refused to believed it! Balthazar was insane, he had to be! He was mistaken about Schala's death like he was mistaken about you being a figment of his imagination. And what was his rant about fixing everything all about? What was he up to?
Nevertheless, you had to continue while he was still willing to talk. "What happened to you? To this world?""Me? You should know better than to ask this question, apparition. You're part of my mind, I'm not too mad to recognize that yet. You already know how it all went wrong. Do you want me to relive my mistakes, my shame, my REGRETS? NO! I will not indulge you... I will not indulge my old demons anymore! I AM DONE wasting my time feeling sorry about myself. I just need a little time, a little more time... and then I will have nothing to regret! My mistakes will have never existed at all!" Some spittle flew off his wide open mouth and he wiped it on his frayed sleeve."As for this world... you know who killed it as well as I do, apparition. That, at least, I cannot take credit for. Will it still be dead after I succeed? I am VERY anxious to find out! Or will I not remember the ash and loneliness and desolation... remember... just remember, you MUST NOT climb Death Peak! Wouldn't make it very far, anyway! It has to be the right time... and... THEY... have to show you the way! But now, now, my patience is at its limits. You have distracted me from my work long enough. I have to finish it while I still can or it will all have been for nothing. NOTHING! I say, BEGONE APPARITION! I will speak to you no longer!"He turned back to his work, making a point of ignoring you. You still had so many questions, but... would it be wise to keep pestering him after he had dismissed you twice? Or maybe you could try helping him? Remedy II could be used to cure magically-induced confusion. It was one of your most expensive spells and you weren't sure if it would do anything for the crazy old man, but maybe it was worth a try? Or maybe you should leave, at least for now. There was that other dome you had yet to explore, Schala may have returned to the cave to wait for you while you were here, and there was always the option of ignoring his warning and climbing the snowy mountain, the one he had called Death Peak.>Keep asking him the rest of your questions.>Try curing him with Remedy II.>Leave and go to the smaller dome to the north.>Leave and return to the cave.>Leave and climb Death Peak.>Other (Write-in)
>>5386362>Try curing him with RemedyWe are not ready for Death Peak just yet. If curing him doesn't work... I guess we can go check out another dome.
>>5386362>try curing himEven if it gave him some brief clarity it could be a boon.Also I wonder how he’d rationalize if we tried talking to the Nu. An illusion should be ignored by the creature.
>>5386362>Leave and return to the cave.Let's go back home, maybe we could stay with the earthbounds for a while before Dalton comes to kill us!
>>5386362>Try curing him with Remedy II.
>>5386362>>Try curing him with Remedy II.
You would help him. Or at least try. Maybe it wouldn't work and you'd end up wasting your mana and your time, but you couldn't just leave him like that without even trying. You wanted to help people. That's what you had been trained to do, by... no, you couldn't get lost in thoughts now. You had a patient in front of you and she had taught you better than that."Remedy II," you chanted in a gentle, non-threatening voice, feeling your mana reserves drop ever lower.The result was immediate. Balthazar's back straightened. He dropped whatever he was doing on that table, put his hands behind his back and turned to face you with clear, piercing eyes."Who are you, young man? And what are you doing here?""Balthazar? I'm so glad this worked! Maybe you can help me? I'm Gaius, from the kingdom of Zeal. Me and Princess Schala, we're... we're friends. She asked me to go with her to the Earthbound village, Algetty, to help the people. We were attacked by a Gosnell on the way, it's a giant-""I know what it is young man, please continue. Our time is limited."His interruption took more time than your explanation would have, but getting into an argument wouldn't help."Yes... well, we ran to a cave, where a red portal appeared after some sort of reaction with Sch... the Princess's pendant. This pendant..." and you removed it from your pocket. Balthazar examined it for a moment, before gesturing for you to continue."The pendant was left behind after the portal closed. A second one appeared when I picked it up and I went in after her, but the Princess was nowhere to be found. I wandered the dead world looking for her, searched the city and I eventually ended up here.""Hmmmmm. Your tale... it should be impossible. I never knew the Princess to have friends, let alone one like you. Gosnells don't exist anywhere near the road to Algetty. The Time Gates I know don't appear just like that and they're blue, not red...""Err, the exit was blue. Only the entrance was red.""Hmm. How peculiar. And tell me young man, the Ocean Palace, is it complete?""No. It was nearing completion but it's not ready.""Then all is not lost yet... I believe you. I cannot explain the oddities in your tale, but I believe you. Few people know that the Princess wanted to help those unfortunate souls on the surface, no one should have her pendant and you look sincere, not like one of Dalton's goons. And now, Gaius, one last question: the Princess, do you care about her?">Yes>No>She's a good friend>Other (Write-in)
The question took you aback. What did it have to do with anything? But... you didn't have to think long about it. You could only give one answer, and it was really quite simple."Yes." you answered with conviction.At your response, Balthazar suddenly jerked forward, catching your hands in his own. His eyes burned with a newfound intensity and his sudden change in demeanor left you stunned."Then listen to me very closely! I can feel my mind clouding again, I don't have much time to explain. If you find her and find your way back, back to the kingdom, no, WHEN you find her, keep the Princess away from the Mammon Machine! If you can find a way to stop the Ocean Palace from being built then do so! If not, stop her from going there at any cost! The Queen is a woman possessed, she will NOT listen to reason. You must find Melchior! He had a plan to stop all this. He can reactivate the Sun Temple before it's too late! I... don't know what he was planning, I refused to listen when he came to tell me to stop construction on my "masterpiece". Such a fool... I was such a fool... but you! You still have a chance to make things right! Don't squander it! There will not be another!"He released your hands and drew back. "And if you find your path blocked, then return here. I'm building something... something that will open a path, allow you both to return home, IF it works as I think it will. The Princess's Pendant will open the door..." he pointed at the emblem of Zeal on the back wall. That was a door? It didn't look like any door you had ever seen.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhHJn7pbs_o"But not yet! It's not ready yet! You will know when the time is right! Now go, time is of the essence! Find her! Remember my words, Gaius! Find Melchior! He will know what to do! And if you meet me, the me from before, that arrogant fool who destroyed everything in his pride, punch me in the face! I deserve it!""Wait! I still have so many questions! What happens when the Ocean Palace is completed? Is this how the world dies? What does it do to the Princess? What does the Mammon Machine do to her? What..."But Balthazar had began working on that table again, turning his back on you and making a point of ignoring you...Now what?>Open the door with Schala's Pendant>Cast Remedy II on him again>Leave and go to the smaller dome to the north.>Leave and return to the cave.>Leave and climb Death Peak.>Other (Write-in)
>>5388544>Leave and return to the cave.
>>5388544>>Leave and go to the smaller dome to the north.
>>5388544>Leave and go to the smaller dome to the north.Going back to our time at this juncture is probably useless, we have nobody there but our mother and a very hostile regime.However maybe if we could get some token here that would prove us to past balthasars, or Melchior? That might be handy. Or ask Nu if it can tell us anything of importance? Still, this was most fruitful encounter as we know what the danger is, and the possible way forward…
>>5388544>Leave and go to the smaller dome to the north.
>>5388544>Leave and go to the smaller dome to the north.Let's follow his advice.
I'll be a bit busy for the next days, might not be able to write as regularly as I have in the past. Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. I like writing this quest too much.I have also created an Items page over at World Anvil. I'm not sure what's the best way to announce that new info has been added over there, but in general that should be happening every time you learn something, acquire something or recruit someone. Tell me if you think there's something that should be added to those pages.And I'll be posting a little interlude right after this message, I hope you'll like it.
INTERLUDE"Don't worry mom. I promise to be back on time!" He looked at her one last time as he absentmindedly secured his staff on his back and opened the door. She watched from her familiar window as he left and choked up as an unbidden memory came bubbling up. A memory of another man that she had watched leave that way and break his promise to come back... and Gaius... he looked so much like his father.This wouldn't do! It was a day of celebration, not tears! She should be thinking of the future, not the past. Her little boy turned 20 today! There was no reason to be anxious. He'd be perfectly safe, he had never left the floating islands and there was no danger inside the kingdom. He'd have fun with his friends during the day, he'd be back on time like he promised and then they'd celebrate like family. Notus would have been so proud if he could see what a fine young man their beautiful boy had grown up into... She stood up. She had things to do, everything had to be perfect for when Gaius returned.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72zpRMdz1xsShopping first. She didn't go out of the house often, Gaius usually handled that part. But she couldn't have him buy the ingredients for his own birthday cake, could she? Or his gift. She knew the perfect gift for him, one of those fiction novels that he loved, with fantastic beasts, heroes and villains and adventure... well, she didn't know exactly what book to choose, but she knew where to ask. That librarian would know to recommend something, like she had for the past few years. And she was cute. Maybe she could try nudging Gaius again? She did want grandchildren while she was still young and strong enough to deal with toddlers. She chuckled. He always got so embarrassed about that topic...----------She was almost ready. Shopping had gone without a hitch, and the librarian had a recommendation that she was sure Gaius would like. Time flew by as she cleaned the house spotless, and she even had some time to spare for the laundry. She hadn't cooked lunch, but it would be a waste to cook for just one person. Yesterday's leftovers were just fine for her. Now the sun was setting, the cake would be done soon, and Gaius would be home any minute now. He had promised he wouldn't be late...INTERLUDE END
>>5389528Fuck you.Just kidding, very sweet. We better make it... on *time*.Maybe even with dad in tow.
You left. Balthazar had given you much more than would have ever thought. You now knew what you had to do, besides finding Schala. Find the Princess, protect her from what would threaten her, save the world in the process. It felt... right, in a way. She wasn't in this city, of that you were sure. She might have returned to the cave while you were gone, but something told you this wasn't where you'd find her. And you couldn't return to your own time just yet either, even if it was possible. The... Time Gate, Balthazar had called it, had closed and disappeared behind you. Would it open again if you approached it with the pendant? That was a problem for another time.Leaving the city was far more straightforward than your way in had been. You had no trail of clues to follow along narrow passages and collapsed buildings. Only the large main road that led to the exit. There were still debris hindering your path, of course, but nowhere near to the same extent as you had encountered before. You supposed it was to be expected. This street was too wide for even a collapsed building to be able to block it entirely.You encountered none of these spider robots on your way, and you thanked Lavos for this small mercy. The city's main entrance was still closed, and now you were on the inside you could see that it had rusted shut. It would take a considerable amount of effort to unblock it and there was no real reason to. The hole to the dome through which you had entered was still right there, after all. The ladder you used to descend had snapped but you found something even better not too far away, a proper staircase leading up. You wondered how you could have missed it until you reached the top and saw its exit had jammed. It would have been easy to ignore it from the other side when there was a ladder so close. A few solid kicks near its handle were enough to open it. Some people would have rushed at it with their shoulder, but that was the wrong approach and would have lead to an injured shoulder before it lead to an open door. Or at least that was what you had read, and you felt a strange exhilaration at successfully putting theory to practice.
The road north offered no significant obstacles either, despite its sorry state. You wondered what time it was now. Many hours had passed for sure since you last saw the morning sun back in the kingdom of Zeal, but how many exactly? It was difficult, if not impossible, to tell the passage of time in the perpetual twilight of this ruined world. You'd have to rely on your own internal circadian clock, and it was telling you that it was getting late. You were hungry and thirsty and a little tired. You weren't worried about water, you could provide your own supply. The only reason you hadn't done it already was your need to ration your mana in hostile territory. You'd end up dead if you ran out of mana and encountered an enemy you couldn't outrun or defeat with your staff alone. Food was more worrying, you had seen nothing edible in your time here. You cursed yourself for not thinking to ask Balthazar about it, he had lived here for years and must have had some way to produce food. But heading back to him now would waste too much time and food wouldn't immediately be a problem. The rule of three worked in your favour here. A human would die after three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food. Shelter for the night would be a more immediate concern, if you couldn't or didn't want to return to your time. You had some options to consider if that time came. And it was all thanks to your father that you knew all this. He had read one of your books once, complained that it had made wilderness survival seem too easy, and proceeded to explain to you exactly why.Your mind was occupied by various random thoughts as you made your way to the smaller dome to the north. Mostly questions. From "How is the Ocean Palace connected to the end of the world?" to "What was the Princess's life in the palace really like?" and "What was the name of that city?". Time flew and you you reached the smaller dome before you knew it. It looked in an even worse condition than the one to the south. Its entrance was open and you could see that the road continued inside and curved downwards into an underground tunnel that seemed to have partially collapsed and be dripping water. You circled around the dome searching for an entrance that seemed safer and you unexpectedly found more than one ways in.Which one would you choose?>Descend through the partially collapsed tunnel.>Enter through the wide open metal door to the side that leads to a small corridor.>Climb through that large gash on the back of the dome.>Other (Write-in)
>>5389860>Enter through the wide open metal door to the side that leads to a small corridor.
>>5389860>Climb through that large gash on the back of the dome.Just in case the door makes too much noise.
>>5389858>Enter through the wide open metal door to the side that leads to a small corridor.
>>5389860>Climb through that large gash on the back of the dome.
>>5389860>the large gash in the backIt might not guide us by design to any landmark but hopefully it could be less likely to lead into a robot filled death trap… unless of course the robots’ final instruction was to defend the gap from intruders. Though at least not letting ourselves too corralled should help avoid detection.
>>5389860>>Climb through that large gash on the back of the dome.
>Enter through the wide open metal door to the side that leads to a small corridor.>>5389885>>5390050>Climb through that large gash on the back of the dome.>>5389969>>5390103>>5390108>>5390445So you want to climb into the hole. I'm gonna need some dice. 1d100, bo3, DC: 40
Rolled 71 (1d100)>>5390448
Rolled 63 (1d100)>>5390448
Rolled 29 (1d100)>>5390448
The tunnel was obviously unsafe. The open door was suspicious. It might lead into a trap, or make noise that would attract enemies. That large gash on the back of the dome was the most promising entryway, in regards to safety. Or at least that was what you original thought, before you reached it and examined it up close. Unlike the hole through which you had entered the city to the south - you really should have asked for its name - this one was not naturally made due to the ravages of time and corrosion. Its edges were jagged, blackened and turned inwards. Someone, or something, must have wanted to enter the dome badly enough to blast it open. Was it too large to fit through the door you had seen?You carefully crossed the threshold of the gash, attempting to remain hidden and make no noise. You really didn't want to be surprised by whatever weapon had opened a hole that was larger than yourself in the metal dome. The room you found yourself in was a spacious warehouse, lined with a series of shelves and with metal crates haphazardly scattered across the floor. A faint smell of oil, dust and something unidentified permeated the air. The scattered boxes made it easier for you to move from cover to cover, going closer to the source of a mechanical, whirring sound until you could see what was causing it.It was three wheeled robots, similarly sized but a different model than the one you had destroyed in the city. They were busy loading crates on a... sort of metal chariot, one without wheels and floating above the ground. You had successfully evaded their notice and watched from the shadows as they kept at their work. After some more time spent observing, you were confident no other enemies lurked unseen in this warehouse. You considered how best to deal with them when you heard a distant bang, that of metal slamming into metal, followed soon by a second one and then a third. Now that it had began, that bang was regularly recurring. What could it be?After weighing your options, you would...>Rapidly cast Water I at each of the three robots, dispatching them in turn.>Surprise them by jumping in their middle and destroying them all at once with a Whirlwind Attack.>Just sneak past them towards the exit and that distant banging noise.>Leave the dome while you still can. (and go where?)>Other (Write-in)
>>5390791>>Surprise them by jumping in their middle and destroying them all at once with a Whirlwind Attack.
Oh shit, I forgot the pic of the robots you saw. Here they are. My apologies.
>>5390791How close they are to filling up the vehicle? If they’re almost done we could simply wait for them and then memorize in which direction they went off for future reference. And search leftover crates for clues what the bots are collecting. Are they scavengers? Or is there some working logistical chain here?Let’s check out one of the crates if we can do so without attracting attention, then sneak past the loader bots. What kind is directing them, and to what end?
>>5390837>What kindWhat mind *
>>5390837>How close they are to filling up the vehicle?About a fifth to a quarter full. They seem to have started only recently.
>>5390845Hrmmm… eh, let’s wait anyway, memorize direction they head off in and check the leftover crates for clues.Rule of cool option might be to ride with them as they depart I guess but that feels too risky.
>>5390791>Surprise them by jumping in their middle and destroying them all at once with a Whirlwind Attack.>>5390855That banging noise means there's more than those 3 and they're trying to brek in something. A vault probably. If we wait they'll come back and we'll have to fight them all or let them go with the loot.
>>5390859Fair point. And I suppose we have little reason to assume anything else than the robots are universally rogue and hostile. The alpha strike better work though, hope we can find a meat shield for our party soon,
>Surprise them by jumping in their middle and destroying them all at once with a Whirlwind Attack.>>5390859>>5390809>let’s wait anyway, memorize direction they head off in and check the leftover crates for clues>>5390855 (this seemed like it was your final vote, I couldn't tell if you wanted to change it later)Let's see how well this works. 1d100, bo3, DC: 20, 50, 80.
Rolled 37 (1d100)>>5391549It’s fine, let’s spin it up!
Rolled 100 (1d100)>>5391549
>>5391559Well shit, guess we're awesome
Rolled 91 (1d100)>>5391549>>5391559gg
You still had the element of surprise and these robots didn't look very strong. You were confident you could take them all out at once with a well placed Whirlwind Attack. There was no reason to waste your mana, or sneak ahead and risk them flanking you later. You just had to wait for the right moment, when they'd all be clustered together and distracted. You briefly considered letting them go in order to learn more about them and their destination but decided against it. Whatever they were doing here, they were up to no good.The distant pounding continued but you didn't have to wait for long. One of the robots seemed to be slower than the rest and the other two gathered around it, forced it to stop near the crate you were hiding behind and... talked? They could talk?"Hurry up! Estimate a 13.3% delay in our operations if you keep this pace!""Suspension fluid leak. Possibility of permament damage by maintaining maximum speed.""Irrelevant. R-77Y will return with the human female shortly. Do you want to be responsible for the delay of her processing?"Human female? Processing? You didn't want to hear more. The implications were enough for you to see red. With your newfound Iron Staff in hand, you jumped on top of the crate and used its edge to propel yourself forwards and upwards, right in the middle of the conversing robots. They'd surely be surprised if they were capable of such an emotion, but you only cared about destroying them immediately."Whirlwind Attack!" you called out as you firmly gripped the lower edge of your staff with both hands and spinned around yourself, just as you had practicesd so many times. You felt your staff connect with each of your enemies in turn as you turned. Screws, gears and small chunks of metal flew off in all directions and you completed your attack and paused to inspect the results. All three robots had been completely smashed to pieces, their mechanical components strewn all over the floor. They were flimsier than you had thought. Your anger dissipated as fast as it came and you focused once more on the still repeating banging. Human female... could it really be...?
You run out of the room and towards the sound, no longer caring about stealth, but your luck stood. The corridors were empty of enemies and lined with small holes in certain spots, but you just kept running instead of stopping to examine them. The noise suddenly stopped and you feared the worst before you turned a corridor and saw it. Four of those wheeled robots were arrayed near you, but with their backs turned. They were watching a sturdy, blue humanoid robot that was stepping away from a metal door. The door had been dented in numerous places but it still stood, and even the walls around it had not escaped the robot's wrath. The robot stopped a few meters from the door, turned around to face it, braced itself, aimed its hand at the door and said in a loud, synthetic voice:"Female! I do not want to expend valuable ammunition on one such as you! Do not force me to! Remove yourself from the room and your processing will be painless!"There was no response from behind the door. Was there really someone alive in there? The robot began counting down."3...""2..."You decided to...>Rush in, start smashing robots!>Time a Water I spell to hit the large robot's arm at the same moment it fires its weapon. Perhaps you can cause it to malfunction or backfire if you time it just right.>Aim a Water 1 spell at its head while it's not moving. It's a small target, but if you hit you might take it out with one spell.>Wait for the weapon to fire so that its blast will mask the sound of your casting, allowing you to take out the smaller robots with repeated Water I spells before focusing on the leader.>Other (write-in)
>>5391899>>Wait for the weapon to fire so that its blast will mask the sound of your casting, allowing you to take out the smaller robots with repeated Water I spells before focusing on the leader.
>>5391899>>Rush in, start smashing robots!
>>5391899>Wait for the weapon to fire so that its blast will mask the sound of your casting, allowing you to take out the smaller robots with repeated Water I spells before focusing on the leader.
>>5391899>Time a Water I spell to hit the large robot's arm at the same moment it fires its weapon. Perhaps you can cause it to malfunction or backfire if you time it just rightIt might just hit the other robots, especially if it's a very powerful attack
>>5391899>Time a Water I spell to hit the large robot's arm at the same moment it fires its weapon. Perhaps you can cause it to malfunction or backfire if you time it just right.
>>5391899>>Time a Water I spell to hit the large robot's arm at the same moment it fires its weapon. Perhaps you can cause it to malfunction or backfire if you time it just right.inb4 robots consider themselves human and it's Robo's waifu inside
>Wait for the weapon to fire so that its blast will mask the sound of your casting, allowing you to take out the smaller robots with repeated Water I spells before focusing on the leader.>>5391914>>5391931>>5391987>>5392168>Rush in, start smashing robots!>>5391928>Time a Water I spell to hit the large robot's arm at the same moment it fires its weapon. Perhaps you can cause it to malfunction or backfire if you time it just right>>5392051>>5392122>>5392268Small fry first. You know it's time for some dice. 1d100, BO3, DC:20 for a marginal success, 80 for great.
Rolled 49 (1d100)>>5392282
Rolled 24 (1d100)>>5392282For human female!
Rolled 58 (1d100)>>5392282
You waited. The blast would give you the perfect opportunity to take out the smaller robots before focusing on their leader, R-77Y."1..."It finished its countdown and launched a projectile from its arm, a small cylinder that left a plume of fire and smoke behind it before it hit the door. The deafening blast resounded in this constrained corridor and you made your move, repeatedly mouthing off the chant for Water I. You hoped the buzzing in your ears would be temporary, you couldn't even hear yourself cast!Five bubbles of water streaked towards your intended targets as the explosion's shockwave rattled you. Four found their marks and the small robots sputtered and died one by one in a shower of sparks without even realizing they were under attack. But you had misjudged the trajectory of the final one and it splattered harmlessly against the wall near R-77Y. A smoking hole where the door used to be was revealed as the robot turned to face you and regarded you and the wrecks of its subordinates."A male? I should have known that such a frail specimen as that female could not have survived on its own. How unfortunate for you. If you had taken your mate on your scavenging run today we would be gone by the time you returned to your shelter and we would have never known you two were here. Your water pistol may have worked against these obsolete Version 2.0s, but it will prove ineffective on a TOP OF THE LINE R-SERIES!"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2Kb8Z_snOcWith its last words, it launched itself towards you, pulling its fist back for a punch. The same fist that had put those dents on the metal door, presumably...You...>Kept attacking it with Water I, even as it closed range.>Prepared to meet its charge with your staff. You were confident you could prevail in melee combat. After all, you could always heal yourself and it couldn't.>Engulfed your current position in shadows and ran to put some distance between you two. Casting spells from afar was the best strategy against this enemy.>Cast Blind on it. It should work even on this mechanical opponent, if it relied on its optical sensors. Or at least you hoped so.>Other (Write-in)
>>5392386>>Cast Blind on it. It should work even on this mechanical opponent, if it relied on its optical sensors. Or at least you hoped so.
>>5392386Let’s try to blind it and dodge. We probably don’t want to tank neither it’s fists nor whatever it was that punched out that door. Quick attacks are probably our best bet especially if we can intermittently disorient it. And going by its taunts it might be genuinely water resistant so let’s not rely on water magic at least until we can put a dent in it…
>>5392386>>Prepared to meet its charge with your staff. You were confident you could prevail in melee combat. After all, you could always heal yourself and it couldn't.
>>5392386>Prepared to meet its charge with your staff. You were confident you could prevail in melee combat. After all, you could always heal yourself and it couldn't.
>>5392386>>Cast Blind on it. It should work even on this mechanical opponent, if it relied on its optical sensors. Or at least you hoped so.I doubt water would work, otherwise he wouldn't boast about it. Considering how strong he is, I don't want him breaking our one weapon. Let's do that then try to incapacitate him using the environment, maybe by leading him somewhere he could get crushed, or pushing him down a hole?
>>5392386>Cast Blind on it. It should work even on this mechanical opponent, if it relied on its optical sensors. Or at least you hoped so.
>Cast Blind on it. It should work even on this mechanical opponent, if it relied on its optical sensors. Or at least you hoped so.>>5392389>>5392390>>5392432>>5393198>Prepared to meet its charge with your staff. You were confident you could prevail in melee combat. After all, you could always heal yourself and it couldn't.>>5392417>>5392430Can you blind a robot? Let's find out. 1d100, BO3, DC:60
Rolled 14 (1d100)>>5393236despair thy sensors
Rolled 4 (1d100)>>5393236Fingers crossed
Rolled 22 (1d100)>>5393236Oh nuts
Balls. Let’s hope the presumed scav girl will be able to lend a hand.
Can't win em all. I'm sure we'll be okay, if only for a bit...
You only had moments in which to cast your most complicated spell before the robot reached you and made casting impossible. You had to do it quickly, faster than you had ever cast that spell."Blind!"But you knew something was wrong before you had even finished uttering the chant. You must have made an error in your haste. Shadows appeared around the robot's head but they were weak, almost ethereal. They would not be enough to obstruct anyone's visions and definitely not this robot's. Your disappointment at your failure caused you to hesitate and this hesitation almost proved fatal. You barely dodged his first punch, slammed your staff on the side of its arm to parry the second, cracking it in the process, but felt the third connect with your chest. It was fast and you had began dodging just a split second too late...You were launched backwards and your back slammed into the wall before you slumped down on the floor like a puppet with its strings cut. The pain... it hurt to breathe. Your ribs were definitely broken. Your sternum too. You coughed up blood. Internal injury, punctured lung most likely. But you were still alive. You could keep going if you healed yourself. If the robot gave you the chance...It gave you that chance when instead of finishing you off, the robot came to a halt in front of you. "Still breathing, human? Your are more resilient than the average specimen of your pathetic species. And your miniature shadow generator is an inventive device. It will be studied and replicated. Your female must have been the one to make it. She was intelligent enough to run. A bag of flesh and blood can not prevail against superior metal. Stand by for processing." and after a brief pause it added "It would be more efficient to gather everything here before loading the hoverbike. You will have the opportunity to say goodbye. Do not claim I am not merciful."The robot, thinking you were out of the fight, dropped something near you before it turned around and began walking down the corridor while tapping around the crack on its arm. Something small clattered on the floor and you focused your blurry eyes to see what it was.The hairpin.Schala's hairpin!You recognized it instantly. It was the same flower-shaped hairpin that you had bought for her just this morning and there was blood on its pointy edge. Her blood. There was no mistaking a doll for her this time. You had no idea how, but it was Schala in that room, she was wounded and the robot was steadily approaching her. Questions could come later. You had to stop it now. But how?Your mana was getting lower but you could still cast. Healing first. Then...>Cast Blind again. You'll get it right this time.>Rush and hit it while its back is still turned.>Attack it with Water I and try luring it to the warehouse to use the environment against it.>Other (Write-in)
>>5393500>Attack it with Water I and try luring it to the warehouse to use the environment against it.
>>5393500>>Rush and hit it while its back is still turned.
>>5393500>blind again, get it right this time.I guess the machine was not immune to it by its remarks. I’m worried that it will just ignore weaker water attack.
>>5393500>>Attack it with Water I and try luring it to the warehouse to use the environment against it.
>>5393500>Attack it with Water I and try luring it to the warehouse to use the environment against itIt'd be easy to drop a crate on it, or collapse part of the roof.
>>5393500>Cast Blind again. You'll get it right this time.What if it doesn't follow?
>Attack it with Water I and try luring it to the warehouse to use the environment against it.>>5393532>>5393575>>5393579>Rush and hit it while its back is still turned.>>5393549>Cast Blind again. You'll get it right this time.>>5393568>>5393585You know the drill. 1d100, BO3, DC:80
forgot my trip
Rolled 90 (1d100)>>5394169
Rolled 27 (1d100)>>5394169>>5394201Good job Anon
Rolled 17 (1d100)>>5394169
>>5394201Phew well done anon, didn't expect the DC to be so high
You prepared your move carefully. This robot didn't consider you a threat while it thought it had won but that would change quickly once you began casting. You'd only get one chance and you doubted it would be so careless if it struck you again. You quietly shifted your position and took a deep breath. Oh Lavos, it really hurt to breathe!"Cure II! Water!"You sprang into action without delay, healing yourself with one hand and attacking it with Water with the other. Even your most powerful healing spell was not enough to completely heal your wounds but it mended your bones and that would have to do for now. You jumped on your feet, pocketing the bloodied pin and grabbing your staff from the floor. You hadn't even noticed when you had dropped it.Your spell hit exactly where you had aimed it, on the crack you had created on the robot's arm. You hoped that even if its boasting meant that it was waterproof, this crack would have compromised its coating and allowed you to do some serious damage. You were proven right when sparks flew from the point of impact and its arm fell and hung uselessly on its side. It worked!The robot turned to face you, wordlessly for once. Was it annoyed? Afraid? Could it even feel? Its face was just an unmoving mask of metal, leaving you nothing to interpret. It raised its remaining fist in a fighting stance and you raised your staff in response. But you had no intention of fighting it here and now. You had to draw it away from that room, towards that warehouse where the terrain would be more advantageous for you. Schala, or whoever it was in there would be safe as long as it followed you..."Catch me if you can you rusted tin bucket!" you tried taunting it for one last time before you made a run for it. But after just a few seconds it was obvious that things had not gone according to the plan. You couldn't hear it close by, only your own footsteps and its metallic ones echoing from beyond the corner. You turned to look and saw nothing. The corridor was empty. It wasn't following you.It wasn't following you!>Stick to the plan. It can't leave without its 'hoverbike'. You'll be able to defeat it more easily there.>Go back. You can't let it go into that room!
>>5394429>>Stick to the plan. It can't leave without its 'hoverbike'. You'll be able to defeat it more easily there.
>>5394429>>Go back. You can't let it go into that room!
>>5394429head back towards the room, but not recklessly, the machine might be smart enough to jump us if we rush in.At any rate we can easily better afford for the robot to escape than it hurting the "female", whether it be Schala or someone else.
>>5394429>Go back. You can't let it go into that room!
>>5394429>Stick to the plan. It can't leave without its 'hoverbike'. You'll be able to defeat it more easily there.>Combine Shadow I and Water I with Whirlwind Attack. Full frontal assault with everything to take it out.>Mizukage Senpu Attack!
Rolled 40 (1d100)>Stick to the plan. It can't leave without its 'hoverbike'. You'll be able to defeat it more easily there.>>5394459>>5394831>Go back. You can't let it go into that room!>>5394470>>5394497>>5394510>>5394835Rolling for SAnd a small clarification:>Combine Shadow I and Water I with Whirlwind Attack. Full frontal assault with everything to take it out.I don't want to discourage you from thinking outside the box, but you do not actually know a spell named Shadow I. The prompts about using the shadows have been about Shadow Manipulation I, which is a more basic type of utility magic that cannot be used to deal damage.
Your turn now. 1d100, BO3, DC: 60
Rolled 99 (1d100)>>5395145
Rolled 89 (1d100)
Rolled 57 (1d100)>>5395145
The robot had refused to take your bait and had flipped your tactic on its head. Did it plan to ambush you, use the woman a hostage, or eliminate the weaker opponent first? It didn't really matter. You couldn't let it go into that room and leave her to its mercy. Even if it wasn't Schala - you had already been mistaken once today - it would be better to let it go than allow it to hurt her. So you ran back, abandoning your plan of an ambush, alert to whatever its next move would be. After turning the corner you watched the robot steadily enter the room in front of you, as if taunting you with its back, and you heard a trembling voice tinged with fear."S-Slow!"Schala's voice! You weren't mistaken this time. You abandoned all thought of caution and ran at the top of your speed. The robot's movements slowed down for a few moments under the spell's influence, but the spell was broken far too soon. Free from this interference it paused in confusion. "Internal chronometer out of sync. Wha-" This pause gave you all the time you needed to reach it. You did not allow the robot the chance to finish its sentence as you crossed the threshold of the door and jammed the bottom end of your iron staff on the back of its neck with a yell. Electricity arced around the deadly wound and you let go of your weapon. The robot jerked for a few more times. "Primary... objective... Mother..." and it fell, revealing a small dark room full of floating dust and on the far wall of that room... her...You ignored the distant explosion echoing in the corridor behind you. Schala was in front of you, sitting on the floor with her back on the wall. She was caked in dust and looked pale, even paler than she was when you had last seen her. She had blood on the side of her head that painted her beautiful blue hair into a sickening red. And fresh, wet blood pooled around her, staining her purple robe.Her eyes sparkled as she looked at you, coughed and smiled weakly. "Gaius...">Hug her!>Kiss her!>Ask her what happened!>Heal her first you idiot!>Other (Write-in)
>>5395595>>Heal her first you idiot!
>>5395595>Kiss her!On a mouth
>>5395595>Heal her first you idiot!>Hug her!>Ask her what happened!In this order
>>5395595>>Heal her first you idiot!>Hug her!
>>5395595Exactly this >>5395606
>>5395595>Heal her first you idiot!
>Heal her first you idiot!>>5395599>>5396103>Kiss her!>>5395601>Heal her first you idiot!>Hug her!>Ask her what happened!>>5395606>>5395630>>5396150>Heal her first you idiot!>Hug her!>>5395629
>>5396347>Heal her first you idiot!>Hug her!>Ask her what happened!support
"Schala!" You quickly crossed the room and kneeled by her side, taking her hands in yours. Her grip was weak and so was her pulse. Her lips were so close... what you wanted... no, she was injured! You had to heal her first you idiot!"Heal II..." you chanted softly and even though you hadn't examined her wounds in detail, you could tell that your spell was taking effect. Some colour returned to her cheeks and she squeezed your hand with more strength than before as something small, more than one, clinked on the floor. Your spell was pushing out whatever was embedded in her soft flesh while closing her wounds and she gritted her teeth at the discomfort.Satisfied that she was out of immediate danger, you let go of her hand and pulled her in for a tight embrace. After a moment you felt her returning your hug, putting one hand on your shoulder blades and the other, still wet with her own blood, on the back of your head. Your heart was about to burst as she whispered. "I hoped you would come... when the door blew and they didn't immediately come in, I knew it was you... I couldn't hear anything but I knew you were fighting... and when it entered with its arm broken, I thought it... I thought you..." she swallowed down a sob and you hugged her even tighter."I'm sorry. I-""Shhh... don't apologize. You're here now..." she took a deep breath before continuing, but the dust still in the air only caused her to spasm in a coughing fit.You reluctantly pulled back from the hug. "The air here is not good for you. We should go."She nodded once and you helped her up. She took an unsteady step and stumbled before you caught her and propped her up. You began walking back to the warehouse, with her clinging at your side all the way. Now that you were close, you had noticed more details indicating what she had been through. A trickle of blood, now stopped, had flowed down her ear on the side of her head that was not entirely covered in blood. Her ear drums must have burst from the explosion. Her lips were parched, her skin was dry and her temperature was high, all symptoms of dehydration. She would need even more water with all the blood she had lost from her wounds. But as you looked down at her on your side, you saw that her robe had gotten looser around her neck, revealing her shapely collarbone, marred by a puzzling injury: A burn in a thin branching pattern emanating from a single point, the telltale sign of a lightning strike. Possible neurological damage? With your curiosity burning, you couldn't wait before asking, full of concern "What happened to you?"
She took a deep breath before answering and it didn't send her into a coughing fit this time. "When the portal closed. I called for you. I waited and waited, but you didn't come. Eventually I thought I might find you if I moved, so I... went to the large dome to the south that looked like a city. But the door was sealed... I circled the entire dome but still I... I couldn't get in. I returned to the cave but you still weren't there... After that I came here, to this smaller dome and... did you explore the tunnel before you found me?""No, I don't know what's down there. The robots were here when I arrived and we began fighting immediately.""I think they dug it underwater to connect to the mainland. It goes down and towards the sea. It's flooded after a point, but there are walkways and corridors that can still be used. I tried to explore it but... I stepped on some broken glass and the noise caused a large sea serpent to rise. I couldn't fight it... it hit me with lightning and I ran back up. I felt so numb after that and I was tired, so tired... I got into that room and I slept..."So she had arrived before you. More than one day from the sound of it, though much less than what you had imagined in your worst fears. You doubted even she would be able to tell exactly how much time she had spent alone. "When I woke up, it didn't feel that numb. I went back to the cave but it was still empty. I couldn't think of anything else so I tried climbing the mountain but I didn't get very far. My cloak protected me from the cold but... I couldn't see anything in the blizzard. I came back down before I got lost and I returned here. I thought I might try sneaking by the serpent, but the robots arrived right after me and they saw me. They gave chase and I was shot by these smaller ones. I was barely able to get into the room and barricade the door before my strength left me and I collapsed. And... you know the rest..."You nodded. You did know the rest. "You are still wounded. That lightning injury hasn't healed and maybe your other wounds haven't either. You must still be in pain. I don't have much mana, but let me heal you fully.""It's ok, I'm used to... um, it doesn't hurt very much. You are wounded too. You should heal yourself first." She put her free arm on your abdomen, on top of the still visible burn from that robot's laser. You could feel your face burning up at her touch. You were glad she wasn't looking at your face, or she'd certainly see it turn fully red.Your mana was almost spent. It would be enough for just one proper spell and one cantrip, like the creation of drinkable water that you both needed. What would you do with the mana you had left?>Heal yourself like she asked you to.>Insist on healing her.>Heal neither of you.AND>Share water equally.>Pretend you are not thirsty and give her a bigger portion.>Other (Write-in)
>>5396804>>Insist on healing her.>Pretend you are not thirsty and give her a bigger portion.
>>5396804>>Insist on healing her.>Share water equally.
>>5396804Put away healing for now and drink more instead. That might allow us for better rest. We can carefully take a look around but we’ll have to avoid any confrontation. Could we commandeer the vehicle? It might help us stay ahead of trouble.
>>5396804>Insist on healing her.>Share water equally.
>>5396804>Insist on healing her.>Pretend you are not thirsty and give her a bigger portion.
>>5396804>Insist on healing her.>Share water equally.>Talk to her about what happened when you arrived, and most importantly about what Belthasar said.
>>5396804>Insist on healing her.>Share water equally.>Return the hairpin to her.>>5396945support
>>5396804>Insist on healing her.>>Pretend you are not thirsty and give her a bigger portion.
>Insist on healing her.>Pretend you are not thirsty and give her a bigger portion.>>5396813>>5396850>>5397300>Insist on healing her.>Share water equally.>>5396837>>5396849>>5397301>Put away healing for now and drink more instead. >>5396846>>5397217>Insist on healing her.>Share water equally.>Talk to her about what happened when you arrived, and most importantly about what Belthasar said.>>5396945>Insist on healing her.>Share water equally.>Talk to her about what happened when you arrived, and most importantly about what Belthasar said>Return the hairpin to her.>>5397226It's technically a tie, but there are more people who voted for variations of sharing water equally so I'm gonna go ahead and call it for equal shares unless there's some unexpected increase in support for giving Schala more water before I start writing in a couple hours.
"Cure." you watched with a smile as the sign of the lightning strike receded and disappeared from her collarbone - and kept watching for a moment longer than you should...Schala removed her arm from your abdomen and turned her face away, mumbling "You shouldn't have..." Was that a hint of red on her cheeks?You couldn't think of anything to say to that, so you simply resumed walking in silence. Her steps were steady now, but you were happy that she had decided to still cling to you. She seemed to be scanning the floor, looking for something while you walked and when you reached the door leading to the warehouse, she took a half step forward continuing down the corridor."This is where I came through. It might..."You finally realized what she had been looking for and belatedly took her hairpin out of your pocket to return it to her. "Err, I forgot to give this back to you."She carefully took it from your outstretched palm and said "Thank you. I must have dropped it when I ran. I... I'd hate to lose it..." She wiped its still bloodied edge with her robe and moved to put it back in its place adorning her head, but when her hand touched her wet hair, painted red with her own blood, she widened her eyes and broke down in a mirthless laughter that ended in a quiet sob. She rubbed her moist eyes dejectedly. "I look awful..."You took her hands in yours and locked your eyes with hers. "You look beautiful." you declared."I..." she hesitated.But the moment passed when you both smelled something burning and noticed the sizzling of fire coming from the warehouse. You rushed in and saw that the robot's hoverbike was burning, with thick, acrid smoke bellowing from its wreckage and out of the hole in the wall. That must have been the explosion you heard when you destroyed the R-Series. You had hoped to commandeer the vehicle, it would have vastly improved your mobility. Alas, the robots seemed to have foreseen that possibility and linked the vehicle with its passengers.
Luckily the fire looked localized to the machine, in no danger of spreading to the rest of the warehouse. With the smoke coming out of that hole, you weren't in any danger of asphyxiating either. The vehicle might have been destroyed, but there might still be something useful in the metal crates. They were all unmarked, with no obvious filing system, so you'd have to check them at random. You began with the crates dropped by the robots you had destroyed, curious with what they had wanted to take. They opened easily enough, revealing their contents: Rows of colourful small metal rectangles with rounded corners and two small protrusions on one side. You couldn't sense any magic coming from them and you had no idea why the robots might have wanted these things in particular. They were of no use to you so you moved on to the undisturbed crates on the shelves."What are you looking for?" Schala asked from behind you."Anything that might be useful. Most important is some container to hold the water I can create. Even a bucket would do if it's clean. We could cup our hands together to drink, but that's our last resort. Too much water would be lost.""Right!" came her reply and she made haste to follow your example and begin opening crates as well.You found more crates with those rectangles that the robots had wanted. Other than those, the crates you opened contained sheets of metal, tools of all kinds, gears and various spare parts and other things that you didn't recognize. However, you found an interesting weapon, a sword. It held no magic that you could sense, but had a button on its hilt that when pressed made it crackle with electricity. You figured it must have been some kind of advanced Earthbound weapon and clasped its sheath on your belt. You weren't really proficient with swords but it would be a waste to leave a weapon like that lying unused on a shelf.[Acquired Thunder Blade]
Your search was interrupted when Schala yelled you over from across the room. She had found a crate full of metal canteens, perfect for your purpose. They were a little incongruous with the other objects in the warehouse, but you weren't about to question some good fortune for once. "Nice work!" you complimented her, and she beamed at your words. You removed two of the canteens, examined their condition to your satisfaction and felt your mana reserves empty completely as you filled each with clean water in turn. 2 liters each, you estimated. You handed the first over to Schala who accepted it eagerly. She began drinking greedily and some of the water spilt around her parched lips, down her neck and into... no, that wasn't something you should be thinking right now.You dry-coughed to catch her attention - and hide what you had just been thinking about - and chastised her "Don't drink it all at once. You'll throw it all up if you drink too fast. You've been dehydrated, give your body some time to adjust.""I'm sorry... I didn't..." she followed your instruction, put the canteen down and wiped her mouth on her sleeve - but not her neck, a small, cursed part of you whispered, and your eyes began wandering down, following the trail of water once again...You quickly turned round, hoping that she hadn't seen your lapse, took a few sips from your own canteen and began thinking. You wanted to talk with her about what you had learned since you came into this dead future, but that could come later. You were tired and even if she was hiding it well, Schala must have been exhausted. It was time to leave the warehouse and seek shelter for the night. Or, well, to sleep, since it was impossible to tell when the night would actually come. Would you take anything else from the warehouse before leaving?>Optional, write-in only.And where would you go to rest?>Barricade yourselves in an empty room here. It will be safe enough.>Travel back to the cave. You'll be able to return home if the Gate opens with Schala's pendant. If not, the cave will be a good shelter for tonight.>Return to Balthazar. It will take many hours of travel and you might encounter more robots in the ruined city, but you'll be safe there. He'll have food too.>Other (Write-in)
>>5397817>>Optional, write-in only.There should be a Rage Band around here>Travel back to the cave. You'll be able to return home if the Gate opens with Schala's pendant. If not, the cave will be a good shelter for tonight.
>>5397816>Travel back to the cave. You'll be able to return home if the Gate opens with Schala's pendant. If not, the cave will be a good shelter for tonight.
>>5397817If the individual rectangles are not too large, take one as a sample maybe we meet someone able to identify it (like either guru or if we find some human survivors which are implied by the robot to be around.)And yeah cave seems to be best bet. Robots may be sending next party to find out what happened to last one.Also boo at that self destruct mechanism.
>>5397817>Optional, write-in only.Take one rectangle and a crowbar. We might need it in the flooded tunnel.>Travel back to the cave. You'll be able to return home if the Gate opens with Schala's pendant. If not, the cave will be a good shelter for tonight.
What to loot>Rage Band>>5397830>>5398166>Rectangle>>5398282>>5398293>Crowbar>>5398293Where to go>Travel back to the cave. You'll be able to return home if the Gate opens with Schala's pendant. If not, the cave will be a good shelter for tonight.>>5397830>>5398166>>5397848>>5398282>>5398293
You decided to take a couple things before leaving. A few of those rectangles were the first thing that came to your mind, they were easily small enough to fit in your pocket. There must have been a reason that the robots wanted them and you you might be able to find someone who could tell you what that was. You grabbed a crowbar in case you encountered a jammed door or something like that when you came back to explore the underground parts of this building. You could just drop it later if it ended up being useless or encumbering. You also opened a few more crates, hoping to find something as extraordinary as that sword, but you weren't to be so lucky. It was just more tools and spare parts. Schala watched you move from crate to crate with curiosity and you explained and asked her if she wanted to pick up something, but she couldn't think of anything.You stopped when you were satisfied that you had seen enough. It would have taken hours for you to check every crate and you just didn't have that much time. Even if you weren't tired, the robots may have already sent a second party to investigate what happened to the first. "It's time for us to leave. Are you ready?" you asked Schala."I am!" she excitedly replied. "Where are we going?""To the cave. We can go home if the Time Gate opens. And if not, it's not a bad place for us to sleep... err, wait, I almost forgot... This is yours too:"You held out her pendant, but her reaction was not at all what you had expected. She wasn't happy to see it, like she had been with the hairpin. Her good mood evaporated in an instant and she looked at it with wide, fearful eyes, like a woman condemned. You froze in confusion. What was going on? After just a few moments her expression changed again, to a mirthless smile, leaving you with the disconcerting feeling that you had just witnessed her putting on a well-practiced mask. Her eyes looked so sad all of a sudden... "Oh... Yes, you are right. I had forgotten, but this... this is mine too... Thank you, Gaius." She took it with trembling hands and put it around her neck as if it was a noose. What had you missed? What meaning did the pendant have for her? "Um... can we go now?" she asked and began walking towards the door. You followed her outside, rushing at her side. What else could you do?
You walked side by side in an uncomfortable silence. You kept drinking from your canteen, quenching your thirst at a steady, reserved pace. Schala drank from hers too, much faster than you despite your earlier chastisement. But with her having spent a couple days here, alone without water, not to mention all that blood she had lost before you found her... you couldn't really blame her, or find it in your heart to chastise her again. Before long she had drained it completely, and she let out a small, cute yelp of disappointment after her last gulp.You couldn't bear to be silent anymore and tried to reassure her. "Don't worry, you'll drink as much as you want tomorrow. I'll be able to just refill our canteens instantly once we rest and I recover my mana."She nodded and put the canteen away. She looked thoughtful. Something was bothering her. You mentally debated asking her what it was, but you didn't have enough time to come to a decision before she asked you. "Um... Gaius? You already know about me, but what happened to you after we got separated?"Was that the real source of her worry? You doubted that. But you put that thought away and answered her question."Let's see... after you disappeared in that cave, a small glowing sphere was left behind. It opened into another Time Gate when I approached it with your pendant and I was sent here, I'm guessing a day later than you or maybe even more. I saw this dead world and... I had to find you. I first went to the large dome to the south, just like you. But I found a way in, a hole high on the dome near the door and I climbed it.""A hole near the door... How could I not notice it? I'm so stupid...""No, no, it's better that you didn't. I climbed down a rusted ladder on the inside and it snapped. You'd have been seriously injured if it had been you and I... I might have not reached you in time.""Oh... Did you heal yourself after your fall?""Err, no, I jumped off it, grabbed onto the wall and climbed that down. No injury."She giggled. "You're so amazing!"You basked at her compliment, but paused to think about what to say next and your water sloshed in your canteen. It would be embarrassing to admit that you had mistaken a doll for her, and what Balthazar had said after you told him that you cared about her... would it only remind her of something she would rather not think about? You didn't want to make her sad again. Maybe it would be better if you omitted those things, at least for now? What would you tell her?>Everything.>Don't mention the doll that you mistook for her.>Hide what Balthazar said about her, the Mammon Machine and the Ocean Palace.>Hide both of these things.>Other (Write-in)
>>5398814>>Don't mention the doll that you mistook for her.From what we know the fate of the world might be at stake here, maybe focus on that
>>5398814I see no reason to hide anything from her. She might recognize the circumstance in her future. Paradoxes can go fuck themselves if they don’t like it. And she definitely needs to know about mammon machine being dangerous, if she doesn’t already. And of course as princess she might have insight into the sun temple, another lead we might be able to pursue.
>>5398814>Don't mention the doll that you mistook for her.I'd imagine Gaius is a little embarrassed about it and doesn't want to talk about it.
>>5398814>EverythingShe'll laugh with the doll before we move to heavier subjects.
>Don't mention the doll that you mistook for her.>>5398824>>5398899>Everything>>5398853>>5398951>>5399007>>5399491Honesty is a virtue.
Everything. You'd hold no secrets from her now, or ever if you could help it. Your embarrassment would be her mirth and the rest... she deserved to know, if she didn't already. You narrated your journey across the ruined city, following the trail of clues in your language, your fight with the robot - she gasped and expressed her concern, but the wound really didn't bother you anymore - and... the doll that you mistook for her. Her melodious laughter echoed in the empty, barren wasteland and you stopped walking."Ahahahaha, a doll? Really? How could you!""Err, it was an exceptionally well made doll. From afar, the only difference was its faded colours. I thought that it might be an elder you with graying hair and I was so afraid that you'd spent decades alone in this hell that I couldn't think clearly. It didn't have your hairpin either, but I thought you had lost it, or traded away for food, or..."She fiddled with her hairpin on her matted, red-painted hair and mumbled "I would never give it away...""After that" you continued "I made my way to the center of the city, to a large dome. Inside that dome I found Balthazar, the Guru of Reason.""Balthazar? Are you sure? How could it be him?""Yes, it was definitely him. I don't know how. He was... insane would be the best way to put it. He took me for a figment of his imagination. He kept rambling about his regrets and how he was building something that could fix everything. I think he arrived here the same way we did, but he was from the future. Our future, not the world's future, by Lavos this is so confusing. He said that... he said that you were gone, he had seen you die, that everything was gone and it all was his fault. I tried to help him and I did, a little. My spell made him more lucid for a while. I explained who I was, where and when I had come from. He asked me if I cared about you and after I said yes he-""You... care about me?""I do. I care very much Princess. But you need to hear the rest. He asked me, no, he implored me to keep you away from the Mammon Machine. To stop the construction of the Ocean Palace if I could or stop you from going there if I couldn't. He said your mother wouldn't listen to reason and that we should find Melchior. Melchior had a plan to prevent whatever it was that haunted Balthazar and reactivate the Sun Temple before it was too late." you took a deep breath before you said what you had to say next. "Schala... the Mammon Machine's mana always felt wrong to me. I could hear an infernal buzzing on the back on my head since you turned it on that only stopped when we left the kingdom. What does it really do to you? I can see that you hate even thinking about it, let alone talking, but please, let me help you!"
She took her pendant in one hand and looked at it solemnly. Time stretched on as she stayed silent, but you didn't rush her. She would choose to speak - or not - on her own. But when she began speaking you couldn't deny you were relieved that she chose to open up."This pendant... Melchior made it for me seven years ago. so I could operate the Mammon Machine. It's made of dreamstone, there's nothing else like it. He said that only I could do it and it would help everyone in the kingdom. It would make Father's sacrifice mean something... When I first used the pendant to turn the Machine on there was a connection. You are the only one I know who can hear its buzzing but it speaks to me sometimes, in whispers and dreams. Sweet things, grand things, horrible, horrible things... even now I can hear that buzzing. I don't believe I'll ever be free of its grasp." She let the pendant hang from its chain again and hugged herself tightly, looking downcast."Using the Machine... it feels draining. I cannot describe it another way. It feels as if my energy is being sapped, my life poured into it... Janus hates seeing me like this. He thinks Mother is making me do it and he has come to hate her for it, but he doesn't understand. I have to continue for everyone's sake. Someone has to bear it and I am the only one who can... Melchior came to me one day. He said that this was wrong. I should stop, it wasn't worth the price. He was sorry he had ever created it. We could find another way, the Sun Temple would give us enough time. He and Balthazar fought and Mother had him imprisoned at Mount Woe, above Algetty. It was for the best. This cost... it's a small price to pay for what it gives to the Kingdom, isn't it?""No, this is wrong. You shouldn't have to go through this. Melchior was right and the Balthazar I met had come to regret his part in this. He regretted it more than anything!""Even still... I'm the Princess of the Kingdom of Zeal. I have a duty to my people. What's a little discomfort and pain when everyone else gains so much? Janus will understand when he's older. He will stop hating magic and everything it has brought us, I'm sure of it. As for me... I have to believe that it's worth it. I have to believe that the Ocean Palace will work and give life to everyone, even if I don't... If I could help just one person there feel happier, then it'll all be worth it.""Schala...""Besides, what can I do to stop any of this? I'm just a pathetic little girl, too weak for anything else. This is the only way I have to help everyone..."So this was what had been tormenting her. You felt you had to convince her she was worth more than that. But how?>"You are stronger than you think.">"I will protect you from everything.">"Together we will find a way.">Other (Write-in)
>>5399681>We will find a way, even if it doesn’t look apparent currently.>for reason: look around you. We can tell this is our future. It looks horrible, yes, but we can learn from it. First, it seems that at least given choices made so far, it is going to be horrifying. We don’t know yet what exactly and if this is all due to to mammon machine, though If that is what Balthasar seemed to imply, that means that ultimately Melchior was right and going with it was a mistake. One we can maybe correct!>secondly, look at the engineering. It is done entirely without magic. That means Earthbound endured and thrived! These structures were not build by machines in dead world, they were teeming with life! It means we don’t need magic to survive as people. We don’t need the mammon machine. We just need to find a way to get there without it, and we even have a lead.>for feeling: keep her close and embraced.>for faith: I have seen you sensitivity and compassion, I know you had strength to help the people in Algetty. That is enough to be able to tell you have all the strength you need to make right choices, more so than you give yourself credit for.
>>5399681>>"You are stronger than you think."
>>5399681>"You are stronger than you think."
>Write-in>>5399691>>5399875>"You are stronger than you think.">>5399783>>5400008>>5400451
You embraced her, holding her close and locking her slender arms beneath yours at her sides before you began talking in a steady voice. "You are stronger than you think. Everyone in the Kingdom knows you are far stronger than your mother, perhaps the most powerful magic user in our history!""That strength... yes, I know what they say about me. A child gifted with a unique element and extraordinary magical powers. Yet never once have I felt powerful since... since Father died! Tell me, what use is power when it cannot help anyone?" With her head resting on your shoulder you couldn't see her face, but her voice was full of anguish."That's not true! You've already helped people! You've been going to Algetty all by yourself, haven't you? You helped those people and you did it on your own, without the assistance of that Machine that leeches your life. Your kindness and compassion are your true strength. Even when you felt you had no choice, you still found a way!""I...""Trust me, you can do it. Now, here's what we're going to do: We'll find a way home, free Melchior from Mt. Woe, listen to what he has to say and then we'll figure out how to prevent all this from happening. What do you say?" You pulled back and held her by her shoulders to look at her, waiting for her answer."Okay" she nodded once, weakly, then a second time more firmly."Good! Then, let's go!" you said energetically and resumed walking, holding hands with her until you came to your destination.
When you reached the cave you stopped to wait for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and emptied your canteen. You didn't want a repeat of last time, when you had run in the dark and ended up full of cuts and bruises. Schala suppressed a yawn. You went in ahead of her, just in case something had moved in while you were gone, but the cave was as empty as you had left it. You reached the back wall, the same place where the Gate had appeared but just as you remembered there was nothing there. The little ball of light had disappeared after it transported you both. Still, it was worth a try. You encouraged Schala to approach the place where it had stood with her pendant drawn and she took your hand in hers again. You held tightly. You wouldn't be separated again if the Gate opened.You held your breath without realizing it as you approached but it was unneeded. Nothing happened. This Time Gate would not open again for you."Looks like we'll be spending the night here." you told her. "Wait for a moment, I'll be right back."You quickly returned to the front of the cave and retrieved your cloak from the alcove where you had stashed it, then hurried back to Schala and gave it to her. "Take the cloak. You'll be a little more comfortable sleeping in that instead of the hard floor.""But what about you?""I'll be fine, don't worry about me."Seeing that you wouldn't relent, she reluctantly took it from your hand and spread it on the floor by the wall. She laid on your bulky cloak and wrapped it tightly around herself, it was easily large enough to serve as an impromptu bedroll for her smaller frame. For a moment you thought of crawling in there with her, but you quickly banished the thought into the deepest recesses of your mind and picked a relatively even spot on the opposite wall that wasn't too uncomfortable.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp8i5E2jXPE"About tomorrow... we need to find another way home and we need food. Should we return to Balthazar? He's lived here for years, he must be eating something and he might say more if he sees you. Or should we explore the underwater passage first? Schala, what do you think?"There was no response. The dark cave was dead quiet, except for the calm, rhythmic sound of her breathing. She had fallen fast asleep already. She really was exhausted. You closed your eyes and soon followed her into the land of dreams.
You are floating in a featureless void. You can see nothing, hear nothing. None of your senses work. It seems... familiar, somehow. Is this new? You usually don't remember your dreams, except for those nightmares that cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Or do you always have lucid dreams like this and simply forget about them when you wake up?Your pondering comes to a stop when the void around you shifts inexplicably. You are no longer floating but standing on nothing, on a floor that you can't otherwise sense. There are now five doors surrounding you.The one in front of you is a plain, unassuming wooden door. There are two large, ornate double-sided ones on either of its sides. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call these two gates instead of doors. The gate on the left is menacing, made out of some rough red material and flanked by two severe stone statues of humanoid creatures that are not quite human. It radiates power, but approaching it fills you with a sense of dread.The one on the right is a welcoming blue, engraved in a repeating vertical wave-like pattern and flanked by two simple golden columns. When you come near it you are overcome with a sense of longing and despair.On the other side of the red gate is a regular sized door made out of dark smoked glass. It is imbued with a sense of confidence.And the final door, between the dark glass door and the blue gate, is another glass door, one made out of an opaque frosted glass that swells with hope.Which door will you choose to enter?>The plain brown.>The dreadful red.>The despairing blue.>The confident dark.>The hopeful light.
>>5400624>The plain brown.All the other ones are actively trying to catch our attention. This is the only one that isn't. Why...?
>>5400622>The despairing blue.I wonder what's behind this one...
>>5400624Noooo not the mystery puzzle powers/companions episode. Think of the opportunities lost by picking one over others!Just kiddin op looking forward to seeing what you come up with.Hmm… tempted to go for the plain door since they kind of stand out in that selection, but the light of hope seems something we’d need. Could the red one be Lavos or maybe reptite related? Anyways>the hopeful lightThough plain looks good too if there’s gonna be a tie otherwise.
>>5400624>The despairing blue.
>>5400624>>The dreadful red.
>>5400624>>The plain brown.
>>5400624>The plain brown.
>The plain brown.>>5400626>>5400735>>5400979>>5401425>The despairing blue.>>5400628>>5400655>>5400665>>5401408>the hopeful light.>>5400636>The dreadful red.>>5400717Time to call. Plain brown edges out the despairing blue on anon's tie breaker here: >>5400636And I believe this is a good point to end this thread. I'm gonna take a break for a few days and prepare the next op. There'll be an announcement on /qtg/ if this thread falls off before I'm ready.In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you guys, if you'll indulge me. How are you liking this quest so far? I hope you're enjoying reading it as much as I'm enjoying writing it. No promises, but is there something you'd like to see more or less of in the future or that could be improved? And is there anything in general you'd like to say or ask?
>>5401766I like your writing, as long as you don't end up in the pitfall of too much monologue and not enough acting I think I'll stay around.
>>5401766It’s great fun, thanks for the thread OP!
>>5401766I like it a lot! I hope we'll get to visit some more time periods and that we'll meet new characters, perhaps even OCs!
>>5401766Very much enjoying this Quest. Big fan of Chrono Trigger/Cross and it's lore. Also very happy my suggestion for Gaius' appearance was well received. I had him in mind immediately when I saw the character creation.
>>5401771I hope to remain excellent in this.>>5401798And thank you for participating!>>5402296I can only promise that your journey will be both familiar to those who have played the game and full of surprises.>>5402434It really fit great. The major difference the appearance DQV's hero and what Gaius ended up being after character creation was the quality of the clothes and your adventure is quickly rectifying that.Thanks everyone! I thought I'd have more time but /qst/ is moving faster than expected. Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day this weekend, at dawn look to the east my usual hours look to /qtg/. Or twitter, QMs use that too, apparently? https://twitter.com/ChronoQm