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  #646  
Old 12-14-2011, 08:26 PM
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Garig extends his arms outwards, holding his staves up off the floor, and out of Nym's way, so they don't trip her in her stride. Tiny claws dig into his shoulders as Antes hisses her displeasure of this mode of transport, but her master seems rather taken by it.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, he says, laughing aloud.
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  #647  
Old 12-15-2011, 01:49 PM
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"Mana, no slapping party members!" Koma scolds as he follows the ... whatever she was. Sorceress, he thought. "Antes, you can ride with me for a little bit." Koma says, glancing over his shoulder as he slowed to a fast walk to let Nym by him, not wanting the sorceress to turn around and bark at him. Besides, Garig's outstretched arms were taking up most of the other side of the hallway that Nym wasn't on, and he didn't want to get hit by anything at that level if he had to stop suddenly.

"Let's head for the hall we came in. Maybe it was one of the other stairways that we had to take."

He grinned at Jake as the human took up the rear. The poor man had to take two strides at a trot for every quick stride Koma took. "You know, you're still the only scout I've seen that follows the party, rather than leads it. Put some speed into those legs." He quieted for the rest of the run.
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  #648  
Old 12-15-2011, 03:27 PM
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Mana's mind raced. She had been alive for all of fifteen minutes, and already it seemed the world around her was falling apart. The others were desperate for some kind of leadership, but the truth was that Mana was too young to provide it. All she knew was the castle, and some vague factual knowledge about architecture and magic - both of which were screaming at her that something here was going terribly awry.

She ran past door after door. She sensed opportunity lying behind each one, but the screaming of the walls and ceiling and floor told her that it was the opportunity to die, to be crushed by several tons of collapsing stone and mortar. The castle wasn't going to stand much longer, and stumbling blindly through the myriad corridors of this birthplace castle would result in nothing except a half-dozen deaths that could have been prevented.

If I could only find the right door, she growled at her own mind, hoping that she could produce the solution simply by wanting it. Door after door after door - and then she saw one that was already open. We haven't been through there, she thought.

She passed the door by. Whatever lay beyond that threshold, it was no different than any other door. Down stairs, up stairs, through hallways and corridors. Still the walls screamed at her, impressing the urgency of the situation, the danger of standing still. She wished she understood what they were saying; there was something going on, but she didn't know what it was or what it implied.

And the more that she ran, the more she discovered that the castle was all she knew. She had never seen trees, or grass, or the sky. She knew what these things were, but the information was there in her mind like a book on a shelf, and a part of her wanted more than anything to see the sun for herself, just so she would know what all the fuss was about.

She didn't realize she had stopped until Nibdelas came to stand in front of her. They were at the base of the stairs to the tower. "I don't know what to do," said Mana, on the verge of tears. "They look to me like they looked to you, and...I don't have any answers."

The walls thundered again, and Nibdelas looked around. "There's nothing to be done," said the witch of the wastes. "Something's very wrong here, and I don't think we're at all prepared to stop it."

"What do we do?" asked Mana. "I'm completely lost." Her eyes fell.

Nibdelas lifted her head by her chin, and held her gaze. Something seemed to happen, then; in the space of an instant, the smallest piece of information passed from one to the other. Then Nibdelas said, "Okay?"

Mana nodded nervously. "Okay."

And then, perhaps reflexively, perhaps with the gift of foresight, Mana raised her hand toward the ceiling, and shouted. "Protego!"

OOCLots of running, but the end result is this: At the exit to the dungeon, at the base of the stairs to the tower, Mana casts Wall of Force, Power 5, in the shape of a dome that surrounds and protects the party for as long as it lasts - which probably won't be very long.

The wall has 260 hit points and hardness 50; disintegration effects ignores 10 points of hardness per combined Spell and Power Level of the effect (or 5 points of hardness per caster level, for standard 3.5e spells).

Last edited by Aosaw; 12-15-2011 at 03:34 PM.
  #649  
Old 12-15-2011, 05:45 PM
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Coming up behind her, Koma's long ears caught her tearful words. "No offense, but we aren't looking to you for leadership, so no worrying about it. It's more of a group consensus thing. Except, you three -- four -- wield magic and I don't. IF I tried to boss you around, you'd probably stick me in some sort of dimensional pocket I can't get out of or turn me into Fried Koma. Unless I had a good idea, in which case I'm in charge for all of fifteen seconds. One of you already teleported me without my consent before."

Then the wall went up. "Kind of like that." He said, eyeing the wall with annoyance. Reaching over to knock on it, he asked, "How do we get upstairs to stop the booming thing now? Are we stuck in here?"
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  #650  
Old 12-15-2011, 08:02 PM
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Garig laughs at Koma's question. Yes, indeed my friend, we are not. He doesn't explain the contradiction, however, still waiting for his ride to end, and his feet to touch stone again. Besides, he is slightly out of breath from laughing so much, and is still grinning from hairy ear to hair ear.

He eyes Mana's spellwork with a tilted head. Interesting solution, dear, is all he says.
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  #651  
Old 12-15-2011, 09:34 PM
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Once they arrived at the gathering point, Nym set Garig down gently. "Please tell your bird to stop biting me, I'm only trying to help." When she saw Koma knock on the invisible wall, Nym reached out to touch the invisible field for herself.

"We, we are trapped in here? Mana, you've been running around like crazy. Something's obviously on your mind. Please explain. Don't ramble, just speak plainly. What is going on here?" She turned back to the woman and met eyes with her, then hooked a thumb in her belt and a hand on her sword and waited.
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  #652  
Old 12-15-2011, 11:05 PM
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"No." Koma corrected. "Garig just said we weren't. We're fine. Mana's probably thinking the ceiling's coming down, which isn't all that bad an assumption." The minotaur was unusually talkative today. Flipping his grip on the axe, he examines the ceiling. "Want me to knock a hole in it? It will save the suspense, and we can skip the stairs." He asks Mana. His eyes were slightly crinkled as he teases the sorceress before he reaches out to pat her arm.
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  #653  
Old 12-15-2011, 11:09 PM
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Neither Nibdelas nor Mana spoke. They were both staring up the stairs, as though waiting for something.

Tep, as well, seemed unnaturally quiet. He curled around Mana's left leg and refused to let go. Whatever had caused Mana to call up the barrier, it was about to happen now.

OOCI'm now waiting on a DM post.
  #654  
Old 12-16-2011, 08:50 AM
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OODMIn favor of (literally) scrapping this section of ridiculously complex dungeon, I've had a discussion with Aosaw. His post above and this one are the result of that.


Mana, for all her newness, could feel something the others could not. After all, all she had known her whole life was the energies of this castle, and now that something was very wrong, she was far more sensitive to it than the others were. After all, they had been through all sorts of other weird energies, they had lived thousands of times longer than her. How else could you explain the growing shaking and electric thrumming not disturbing them.

She leads the party back, bafk the way they came, maybe eventually to outside the castle, but she stops, amid the cells of the dungeon when she realizes it won't be fast enough, and manifests the most powerful barrier she knows how to - the others laugh for a moment - they don't understand, but then the ground is wrenched from under their feet, as a shockwave ripples through the very fabric of the castle, tearing stones apart and ripping the iron doors from their moorings - and likely far more beyond the wall of rubble.

Inside the bubble though, the party finds the worst it has suffered is being thrown to their feet - and being unable to see beyond the many tons of castle rubble directly atop them. Well, they could all see slowly growing fissures growing along the otherwise invisible shield, this thin film of force holding back the world itself.

Mana's fingers quickly gathered Garig's hand in one, and Nymthraz' in another, who in turn link arms with Koma and Jake. Nibdelas, however, took only Jake's hand, and in a whisper she said, "Goodbye, Aviv." She leaned in to kiss him, and the instant before they touched, suddenly the sky was bright again. Brighter than midday.

Or, not quite. In fact, the sun was only an hour or so from setting, and the group was outside the castle, standing in the ruins of the camp they had assaulted yesterday. It almost felt like a dream, except for two very real reminders. One, were stone teardrops, hardened onto Jake's cheek, and the other... well, the other might be noticed for a thousand miles.

The castle had been blown apart. The tallest tower - the one the group had been trying to get into moments before had opened into a swirling tornado of lightning and winds, hurling stones the size of men through the air like they were feathers, and sending bolts of searing plasma into the air with sizzles and pops that can be heard even at your distance. The vortex had torn apart this supposedly invulnerable tower, and the nearby half the castle as well - and though it was dying down, the energies alone lit up the sky like a second sun. You were suddenly all very grateful for Mana's shield, another few seconds unprotected and you would have been caught in that same force.

"But, how did we wind up here? Neither Nib nor Mana have been here?" Jake asks, and despite his calm expression you can tell he is attempting to hold back tears.

"Your memories, Jake. Nib knew you would have a safe place. She burned herself up to extract us all from that wreck. Whatever energy had been keeping her here is gone, expended to save us." Mana explains, looking up at the castle, even as the energy of the vortex slowly fades, dropping wagonfuls of debris back onto the castle's roof and down the cliffside.

"I - " Mana is interrupted as part of the cliff supporting the castle caves away, sending half the rubble down the hillside, flattening the forest on the hillside for a hundred yards. "Nevermind." she finishes, watching the destruction slowly settle.
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  #655  
Old 12-16-2011, 09:42 AM
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Garig examines the swirling remains of all the magical energies with obvious delight, his mouth agape, eyes glistening as they dart back and forth following the magical streams streak across the skies.

Oh my.

Finally, he shakes himself with a small laugh, and turns. Well, the effects are certainly rather typical for us, he says, and points to the newly destroyed castle ramparts. But we do not have that which we sought yet. He raises one bushy grey eyebrow. A bit premature on the standard destruction, we were. We usually get our goal and then the place looks like that.

So, what now?
He waggles both eyes, and smiles with delight. Back in?

It was then that he noticed the downcast look in Jake's face, and the glare in Koma's eyes at him. The minotaur's head was dipping towards Jake, and Koma was mouthing words quietly to the confused gnome.

What? he says, trying to think of the social mistake he was obviously making. Remembering the social contracts in play in so many realities sometimes fuddled him. He spots the tears on Jake's face. Oh dear, indeed. Nib? Is that it?

At Koma's bovine nod, the little gnome nods. Ah, yes. I see.

He turns to Jake, and offers a comforting pat on his waist, as high as the gnome could reach. It's okay, my boy. Remember, that was never Nibdelas anyway, that was just a spell. Long duration and all, but just a spell, never her. He looks at Koma, and sees the bull-man nod slowly, somewhat approvingly.

Garig smiles brightly. But, if you need more time, I can recreate her again!

Koma coughs loudly, and quickly reaches a huge hand down, to brush the little gnome aside and away from Jake, and off to the side of the trail. Let's move over here, Garig, the minotaur says, pulling the wizard along easily, his huge horned head shaking sadly. You really don't get it, do you?
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  #656  
Old 12-16-2011, 12:55 PM
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Koma resisted the urge to knock Garig in the head, and see if some cotton fluff would fall out. The gnome wizard was constantly spouting off stuff, and for all his intelligence, sometime he was as blind as a bat. With a sigh of frustration, he went down to one knee to talk to the wizard, quietly.

"Look, Garig, you're a powerful, intelligent gnome. You can mess with all sorts of realities. However, Jake and me? We only deal with one. This one. And in this one, Jake fell in love with a woman named Nibdelas. Unfortunately, she died. Any man would grieve the loss of the one he loved. It's something that can scar a man for life. But he didn't have time to recover, because shortly thereafter, we found Nikta, and it was like he found his love again. She was a bit different, but Nib was in there somewhere. And then, back there, we lost Nikta. He's lost the love of his life twice. I was surprised he kept following us frankly.

And then suddenly, not five minutes later, somehow you "resurrect" Nibdelas yet again. I mean, I was having a hard time looking and listening to her, and I'm not even the one in love with her!"
Koma's head turns towards Jake as he realizes that his voice is getting loud again, and he quiets down before continuing. "He hasn't had any time to sit, grieve, recover from the sudden loss of his friend, when she's back. And now he has to wonder when she's going to disappear again. Or appear again. At least when most people die, you can bury them, so you have some closure! Now he's probably going to be looking over his shoulder to see if she's back. She died twice in front of his eyes, in the space of an hour! That's two times more than most men have to deal with when losing the love of their lives."

He paused, whipping his head around to make sure someone was with him. We're going to have to make sure he doesn't take Nerull's Option... He cocked an eye at the gnome. Garig was nodding seriously, but Koma wasn't sure that he could fully comprehend what he had done today to their friend. Well-meant, and in that situation, needed. However, the gnome was torturing Jake, and in a slightly different way, Koma and Nym, with his inability to comprehend that Nib or Nikta could not come back, should not come back, will never be back again. In this reality, she needed to stay dead, at least for the rest of Jake's lifetime, or Koma feared for his sanity.

"Hmm. Alright, let me try it this way." Koma thought for a moment. "Imagine if you lost Antes." He winced as she hissed at him, and reached out to stroke the top of her head slightly. "Hypothetically, little dragon. Don't bite me. Garig, you would feel the loss of a friend right? Like a part of your soul? A piece of your self? You would be sad. You would miss her. Then suddenly, there was another pseudodragon on your shoulder, that acted and spoke like Antes, but was a bit more ... demanding, but she'd act mostly like she would before. You would be delighted, because she would be back. But then she died again. You would feel the loss again. Uh...never mind, let me try one more time. I'm starting to lose track of things." Koma shook his head to clear it as he stopped ticking off on his fingers.

"Ok, Garig, what you are doing is preventing a wound from healing. You're causing pain over and over again, and not giving the patient time to recover or heal." The bullman's eyes locked on Garig's with a very serious look in them. "Do not, under any circumstances, try to recreate someone who is gone, from now on. Not Nib, Nikta, me, Nym, Jake...no one. It's bad enough when we lose people once. Most humanoids aren't able to cope with losing loved ones twice. Yes, we were able to resurrect Nym, but that was a special method. It was her actual soul. What you created, was just a fake doppleganger."

Standing, he still wasn't sure if Garig understood the full picture, but he had seen a dimming of gnomish gaiety, and perhaps the solemnness of the situation would keep him from causing Jake to crack.
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  #657  
Old 12-16-2011, 01:28 PM
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Mana read through the manuals of Nikta's life, which now included Nib's life as well, and for the first time she felt empathy. She began to reach for Jake's hand, to offer him the comfort of someone being nearby - but she also recognized the truth of Koma's words.

If condolences were to be given, they would have to come from someone else. Mana would only make things worse - and, this time at least, she had the wisdom to recognize it.

So instead she saw an opportunity for closure, and got to her feet. "Right then," she said. "Statue or no, Nibdelas's body is somewhere in that mess. So is Koma's weapon, and I suspect there's some other things worth checking out as well. Let's go, retrieve what we can, and then give your friend a proper sending." She smiled at the group, then met Jake's eye. "Okay?"

It was the same word Nib had said just after bestowing Nikta's memories upon Mana, and when she said it now it had the same intonation. It was perhaps an ill-conceived notion of remembrance, but then again, Mana was still learning. She had all of this knowledge and information, and no proper experience with dealing with people.
  #658  
Old 12-16-2011, 02:53 PM
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Recognizing that with Koma scolding Garig and Mana seeming uncertain about her place, Jake appeared ever worse for the wear. Nym stood and approached the man and gave him a hug. She did not let go right away, but let the moment linger. Then she whispered, "Having been where she's going, I can tell you truthfully that she is on her way to a better place. And that her feelings for you will never cease..."

Nym waited until Jake was ready to let go and then touched his face with her hand. "Live for her, Jake. Learn to love again." She turned at Mana's words and smiled. "Okay?" And then she turned to walk towards the rubble and quickly caught up with Mana.

"How is it that you know so much about this place?" She asked, curiously.
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  #659  
Old 12-16-2011, 03:06 PM
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"I'm not sure," said Mana. "Although truthfully, it's less a knowing and more a sense. I can't tell you what we'll find, for example, but I know that there's something there. My best guess is that it's because this is the place where I was born. ...For lack of a better term. I don't know, really. But I wasn't the one who spotted the castle crumbling; it was included in the memories that Nibdelas gave me." She glanced back at Jake. "He's not okay, Nym. He won't ever be. Don't ask me how I know that, but... Jake's never really been okay, and I don't think having a funeral for a statue is going to make it better for him."

She bit her lip, but kept walking. "Don't tell him I said that. I would hate to know that I was the one who sent him over the edge."
  #660  
Old 12-16-2011, 03:32 PM
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"Interesting," said Nym. "Although I said nothing about a funeral, just that she had gone to a better place and that I knew that from personal experience. I figured it might help. Maybe not. The words were for him, as is the loss. I did not know Nibdelas, nor did I know Nikta for very long. I wonder what your senses have left you in regards to me."
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