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  #121  
Old 12-12-2018, 04:19 PM
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Orella
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The picture of the ovinnik was really cute. She shakes her head in response to the question. Do you mean the net? she fires back, wondering what the spider thing could be. She searches the pictures for any clues, tapping on certain features as she thinks back to her studies. Hey Mirabelle, did you see this? She holds the picture out, waving at her new friend to come take a look. It's cute! In an... ugly, pitiable way.

After showing Mira the picture, Ellie returns the image to Marcus. It sounds like it was acting aggressively. Maybe the curse affects its behavior? We're missing something right now but if we catch it, we'll have plenty of time to figure it out. When the boy moves over to free Tafl, something clicks in El's brain and she falls in beside him, taking a look at the supposed thief.

Two thefts on the same night, both with the intent to take the compass. It can't be a coincidence, she conspiratorially raises one eyebrow to Joey and Broask, can it?

 
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  #122  
Old 12-12-2018, 09:35 PM
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Mirabelle
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Mirabelle tilted her head to one side, thinking back. "Yes, I have seen this picture. Master Bo showed it to us in the tent, but..." Furrowing her eyebrows, the kitsune shook her head slightly. "I can't remember what happened to it. I think we were all too..excited for the mission."

Then nodding to Brutus, who she assumed is carrying the net, she added, "We got a magical net, although we weren't told about its effects. Maybe it can suppress the curse if we use it to catch Ovinnik? But Ellie is probably right, the curse is probably the cause of its aggressive behavior. Poor thing." She finished, looking down at the picture of Ovinnik again.


 
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  #123  
Old 12-14-2018, 07:59 PM
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Spindletop Loadlightener - Diminutive Deducer
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”Hold the speaking horn!” Spindletop blurts out suddenly, ”You guys got a net from the cat-guy? That does seem like it would be way more effective at getting Ovie to stick around long enough for us to work out what to do about the curse (of course, that’s only if it’s magical function is logically tied to its form, and magic and logic don’t always keep close company with each other). You should really test it out to see what it does. Part of our problem was that we didn’t do that - plan ahead, I mean. I certainly wasn’t sure what our spider-stone-thingy was going to do, but I certainly didn’t expect it to shoot out a web igloo … a wigloo? Yes, that’s what we’ll call it. I was thinking webloo at first, but then it occurred to me that people might think it was a loo, and then it would be way less comfy if it ended up all full of peoples number ones and number twos, right?”

As she speaks, she riffles through the pockets of her duster coat, one hand eventually emerging to hold the spider-stone aloft for all to see, while the other hand continues to rummage about on an unknown mission.

”See, here it is!” she declaims boisterously, announcing the arrival of the previously mentioned 7-legged spider-stone-thingy, then cocks her head as she eyes it critically. ”Y’kniw, it’s a good thing that spiders aren’t specifically named for their eight legs (even though that is probably their best known feature). If this had been an octopus-stone-thingy, then after that leg disappeared, we’d have to start calling it a septapus.”

As her stream of chatter continues, her secondary hand reappears from within the folds of her oversized coat, producing a large wooden bowl which she sets down in front of herself before diving back into the confines of her coat on another mission of uncertain purpose.

”But if you guys didn’t even get an any-kind-of-animal-stone-thingy, then maybe we all got different things? Joey! Broask! What did you guys get?”

Once again, the little loquacious lass retrieves her hand from inside her coat, this time bringing with it a stoppered wineskin and a small sack that exhales a puff of white powder as it is placed down with the other items.

”Come to think of it, maybe this was the plan all along. Rather than compete against each other (which seems like decidedly in-heroic behavior after all) we were always meant to find each other and work together. It’s like each of us was given only part of the solution and we need to piece it together like a puzzle! If we can just figure out how to use all our magical doohickeys with each other, then we’ll be able to save Ovie.

“Of course, I should probably still make those pancakes, just in case we need them.”



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  #124  
Old 12-16-2018, 02:55 PM
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Date Day 2 of the Trials
Time Morning
Weather gray, overcast
Tafl's Story"Well I'll be..." Joey wonders, "Maybe you're right, Spindle. Broask and I got this here magnifying glass. We ain't sure what usefulness will come of it."

Ellie's skeptic eyebrow raise draws out a low whistle from Joey, "I suppose it seems a little bit suspicious. But why don't we ask the thief himself?" Joey turns to Tafl, who despite not saying a word through the entire exchange, has been reacting intently to the conversation ever since Ragli's name was brought up. "Well, speak up then... We still haven't heard a full recountin' of your side of the story."

Maybe it was Spindle's rambling about teamwork. Or maybe it was Marcus' decision to cut the boy free. Regardless, Tafl finally chooses to open up. His story starts with a little bit of stammering, but as he continues to speak the words seem to tumble from his lips more freely.

"Um... You see, I was grouped Phillip, Jayi, and... Lanthe... I had a bad feeling right away about Lanthe. He wasn't from the Orta, and seemed to be the bullying type. I thought he might be able to protect us..."

Tafl shakes his head trying to stay focused and not jump ahead of himself. It's clear he has not had a very good past two days. "When we came into the forest, Lanthe was so confident. He kept smiling and pointing in the direction we were supposed to go. We kept walking and walking without taking a break when suddenly out of nowhere, two other students pounced on Phillip and Jayi. I shouted to Lanthe for help but when I turned around..."

"He kicked me to the ground. And then kicked me a few times after that, laughing."

Tears started to form in Tafl's eyes, "They tied us up after that. Then left us in a cave without food or water for the rest of the afternoon. Said if we were truly heroes," Tafl sniffles, "We would free ourselves."

"One of their friends didn't show up," Tafl says, finishing his story, "He was supposed to bring them another compass. So they decided to send me to go get a compass. They told me that if I didn't return with a compass by dawn the next morning, that they would let Phillip and Jayi rot in that cave all by themselves."

Tears were streaming down Tafl's face freely now. Now that Tafl had opened up, it seemed that the tall young man had no shame sharing how he truly felt.

"Phillip and Jayi don't deserve that! Phillip's smile was so cheerful and friendly. And even when I was crying in the dark, Jayi still had the strength to comfort me..."

 
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  #125  
Old 12-17-2018, 12:02 AM
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Mirabelle
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Mirabelle frowned. "Wait a minute." Resting her chin on one hand, her gaze traveled to the ground as she tried to grasp the situation. "So..it almost sounds like each group had someone who wasn't on the Orta, and was assigned to steal each group's compass. Is that right? Do you think that's part of the test?" She shook her head slightly. "This is all too complicated. Figuring out what to do with the magical items given to us seems tricky already, without all these..betrayals." Her frown deepened, the last word leaving a bitter taste in her mind.

Looking up, she turned to Tafl. "I'm sorry you had to go through that. Do you remember the other students that Lanthe was working with? Did you recognized them or remember how they looked?"


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  #126  
Old 12-19-2018, 12:12 PM
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Marcus
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Marcus did what he did best, stood off to the side and thought about things. Why did they give us a week if the Ovinnik were so easy to find? Yes, there must be more to this. The different trinkets pretty much prove we need to work together. But what if that's not everything? We didn't get a non-Orta team member The boy knocked on his head with his knuckles.

The memory of the student's that retrieved him shook loose and floated to the surface. Maybe those non-Orta initiates are also students? Some other even deeper part of the test. Bah these teachers with their multi-tests. Didn't the magic that selected them all, know they were heroes without all this forest stuff? Man those pancakes smell good...

Marcus snapped out of his thoughts and followed his stomach to the fireside. "We were given a week to complete this task, is that the same for all of you? If so, I say we eat and then rescue Phillip and Jayi. By the sounds of it, they dont have much longer. It may also give us a chance to confront their captors. We get justice for Tafl here, and get a stockpile of compasses and maybe even other magical items in the process. It's a win win situation. How often do you get one of those?"

The boy tore his attention away from the cakes and knelt down before Tafl. "Is there anything you can tell us about Lanthe and company? Any reason to think a group this big couldn't take them by numbers alone?"





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Old 01-06-2019, 03:33 PM
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Date Day 2 of the Trials
Time Morning
Weather gray, overcast
Tafl's Story"Can't be quite right, Mira," Joey says considering, "Everyone in our group was from the Orta. And everyone in your group as well, ain't that right Marcus?"

Tafl's sniffling and tears seem to come to a stop as he wipes them away on the edge of his shirt. He takes a deep breath. The empathy he was getting from the others seemed to help him push away his fears. "There were two others working with Lanthe... I didn't catch their names, but one of them was an Ifrit and the other was a Drow. They were waiting for someone else, but they were getting impatient. That's part of why they sent me away, I think. I heard his name..." Tafl hesitated, watching Mirabelle and Ellie closely, "...His name was Ragli."

Joey shrugged, seemingly unperturbed, "Ragli, shmagli. I agree with you Marcus, we ought'n go and save Phillip and Jayi. Don't matter iff'n they be strong or whatnot." Joey brings his voice softer so as not to offend the proud centaur who had been listening into the conversation, "Only problem is that it don't look like Shiara's gonna be able to keep up with us."

Shiara was about to protest, but the goblinSam, steps on the centaur's foot and glares at her authoritatively before nodding in agreement with Joey's assessment. It seemed the small goblin-folk could understand more than she could speak.

"Then we should split up, stupids! Someone has got to stay here and watch out for the Ovinnik anyway!" the lizardfolk previously played by Krow NestBroask shouts, speaking up for the first time. He thumps his spear on the ground, "I don't trust Tafl. I'm going to stay right here and look for the Ovinnik!"

Joey grins broadly, "You got some smarts between them earmuffs, you do, Broask! The instructors never said we had to stick with the same groups, did they? And you're right Marcus, we still got a whole week. Splittin' up ain't a bad idea afterall!"

"They're not earmuffs!" Broask replies, before he turns away from the conversation exasperated.

 
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  #128  
Old 01-07-2019, 10:28 AM
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Marcus clenched his jaw as Tafl added more opponents to the equation just as Joey, Sam, and Broask remind them of their diminished capacity. Then the boy did what he did best. He overthought everything.

There are three, maybe four of them, and how many of us? Marcus lifted his fingers as he counted those that were ready for an armed conflict. Spindletop, Mirabelle, Joey, Orella, and myself. Five on three weren't the worst odds, but he liked it better when he thought there were eight of them. What if there are more of them? What if Tafl's friends are more hurt than they know? That will divert even more of our numbers. Is this still a good idea? Can we still pull this off?

He shook his head and tried a different approach. "Tafl, would you be willing to show us the way? You could even distract them while we free your friends. We should try and avoid a fight if we can."

Esspecially against a drow. Marcus had come across a few of their kind during his time on the Orta. Their features were too sharp, their ears too pointed, their eyes too deep. They reminded him of his captors' features, and the thought of having to fight one sent shivers down the boy's spine.

"Please Tafl?" Marcus pleaded. "Now's the time to show the judges why they selected you in the first place, why they selected any of us for that matter."




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Old 01-07-2019, 10:01 PM
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Mirabelle nodded as others shared their thoughts and opinions, her brows still furrowed. She looked back and forth at each one as discussion went on, occasionally looking over her shoulders to look around to see if anyone, or anything, was lurking nearby.

While Marcus spoke to Tafl, Mira turned to Ellie and Brutus, whispering so only they could hear.

"I can't believe Ragli was planning this all along, but then again, he always seemed to...shady. We should have been more careful." She huffed, pausing to control her rising anger at their discovery. "I really hate when people don't follow the rules. But we are lucky that we found these guys. Even though it looks like they will be splitting up, we should try to stick together, yea? What do you think, Brutus? You have been awfully quiet."


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  #130  
Old 01-09-2019, 01:44 PM
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”Y’know, you’re absolutely right. For such a big guy, Brutus here has been surprisingly quiet.” The pint-sized pilferer pauses her pancake preparations to pipe up unexpectedly. Though it seems to defy logic that the gregarious and garishly-garbed girl could possibly escape detection, Spindletop seems to somehow excel at doing exactly that, as Mirabelle whispers to Ellie and Brutus directly over the head of the little kender who still stands directly next to the kitsune admiring her lush tail. ”To be honest, I almost forgot he was here (as improbable as that might sound), but I’m just going to assume that he agrees with you that you guys were, in fact, really lucky to bump into us when you did, since it seems like your friend (or not-friend (I’m honestly having trouble keeping track)) Ragli is connected to our maybe-friend Tafl’s problems. And now that we’re all friends, that should make your not-friends our not friends and our maybe-friends your maybe-friends, right?” Spindeltop concludes her statement with a broad, guileless grin that makes it nearly as clear that she feels no qualms inserting herself into a conversation from which she was deliberately excluded as it is unclear if she even realizes that she was being excluded in the first place.

”Not to mention the pancakes. I thiiiink I should be able to make enough for you guys and still have some left for Ovie ... The compact cuisinier pauses for a moment, arching one lavender brow and gnawing on her tiny pink lip as she meditates upon mental mathematics. ”Though I’m not a hundred-percent sure … I always have a tough time estimating how much big folk will eat, but as long as Brutus eats about as much as he speaks we should be fine.” Confident that faith in her wholly unsupported hypothetical can resolve her conundrum, Spindletop abandons her complex and mentally taxing calculations and gleefully bounds over to where Joey and Marcus are discussing plans for the group’s next move.

”Anyway, I totally agree that we should go and help Phillip and Jayi. Even if it means we don’t complete the mission to de-curse Ovie, I don’t think I’d feel like much of a hero if we abandoned our fellow heroes-to-be in need. Besides, it seems we can be pretty sure that there are other groups out there looking for Ovie, but we could be the only ones who know about what’s happening with Lanthe and Ragli and their partners in crime - at least abducting and imprisoning people is definitely illegal, right? Though I still don’t know if their reason for trying to get all the compasses is totally a crime.”

The swift-tongued kender pauses for a moment, resting her soft chin in the palm of her hand as one nimble finger drums lightly against her temple, causing a dangling earring in the shape of a unicorn to swing in rhythmic fashion, the sunlight glinting off its rainbow gem-encrusted surface. One can almost hear the gears in her mind grinding against one another in an effort to bring together two diverging trains of thought. ”Y’know, this whole thing reminds me of what happened to my second cousin Fling Kettlepot when she found a magical mythril message mysteriously embedded inside a honey cake she ate once. As soon as she read the invitation (because that’s what the message was) she found herself transported to The Wiley Warlock’s Pasty Emporium, where she and a half-dozen other people were escorted on a tour of the facilities where they got to see how all of the Wiley Warlock’s delectable delicacies were made and were introduced to the kobold tribe that operated everything. They called themselves the Chumba-wumbas, and boy were they a persistent group - no matter how many times they got bowled over by the massive magical machinery, they kept getting back up again.

“Anyway, while she was there, she was approached in secret by the Wiley Warlock’s nemesis, Silas Snailprice the Sorcerer. So Snailprice asked Fling to bring him one of the Wiley Warlock’s perpetual pomegranate pies. Of course, Fling would’ve been more than happy to oblige, only she got totally distracted by the strange things that happened to the rest of the tour group, and by the time she got to the end of the tour, she had completely forgotten where she put the pie. That was when she discovered that Snailprice had actually asked all of the tour guests to get him a perpetual pomegranate pie. It turned out that the Wiley Warlock was aware of what Snailprice asked and it was all really a test to see if the tour guests would get him the pies or realize that they weren't supposed to because ... I guess ... because there was no way Snailprice could eat all those pies by himself - even I know that big folk don't eat that much.”


The little kender beams broadly, clearly satisfied with the accuracy of her assessment before uncharacteristically drawing to the point of her circuitous tale, ”So, do you think this could be like that? Is the real hero test here not to see if we can de-cruse Ovie, but to stop Ragli and Lanthe and them from taking all of the compasses?"
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  #131  
Old 01-11-2019, 01:17 AM
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Date Day 2 of the Trials
Time Morning
Weather gray, overcast
Tafl's StoryThere is a brief moment of silence as Tafl wrestles with his inner fears, "I'll do it. After Lanthe betrayed us, I... I didn't think I could trust any one else. But you're right, we came here to be Heroes." He puffs himself up, and looks surprisingly tall when standing up straight.

Spindle's tirade is well received, and Joey pipes in, "Well, make 'em pancakes up right quick, little Spindle! We got some Hero-ing to do today!"

Brutus, for his part, seemed to be overwhelmed and barely keeping things together, "I think I'll stay here... This Lanthe fellow... He seems to have a plan and... who knows what's in the forest..." It was strange to see this huge half-orc so spooked, but it seemed that he was going to refuse to put himself anywhere that seemed dangerous.

After a few more minutes of brief discussions, it was decided that six would go and four would stay. Tafl would lead them to where Lanthe and his companions were hiding. Joey, Marcus, Spindle, Mira, and Ellie would go with him on the rescue mission. Shiara, Broask, Sam, and Brutus would stay behind. Ironically, of the four of them it was the small goblin who seemed to take natural charge, protecting the others almost as mother hen does its chicklings, even without words.

Spindle made a quick batch of breakfast pancakes with her surprisingly full pack. Then, Tafl led the crew deeper into the forest, back towards the cave he had fled from the day before...

 
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:38 PM
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Date Day 2 of the Trials
Time Just past sunset
Weather drizzling, colored clouds
Daily CommuteTafl generally seemed to know which direction to go. Despite his easily timid nature, he was very clever, and had a knack for directions and an extremely good memory. An hour or two passed of constant walking when Tafl stopped everyone for a break. He looked a bit confused.

"I can't remember where to go from here..." he mumbled to himself, "Can I see your Compass?" He paused before adding quickly, "I promise, I am not going to take it!"

Joey gives him a sidelong eye, but hands Tafl the compass, confident that the others could catch him if Tafl tried to pull a fast one. "And, what's it gonna do for ye? I thought it only led straight to the Ovinnik..."

"That's only if you leave the brown side up. If you hold the purple side up, it pulls you in a different direction. Towards the cave. That's where we were headed when Lanthe..." Tafl shakes his head, remembering something he didn't want to.

"We should hurry."

The group took several more brief breaks throughout the day, and though the clouds loomed heavy and threatening, no rain fell.

ArrivalIt was just after sunset when Tafl put his fingers up to his lips and called everyone to a stop. A soft drizzling rain helped mute the companions footsteps and the last of the suns rays lit up the bottoms of the clouds in a beautiful array of reds, purples, and golds. He gestured ahead of them, towards shadowy outlines still visible in the growing dusk.

"The cave is over there, beneath that stone pillar," Tafl whispered.

As their eyes adjusted to the light, they could see before them a cliffside rising above the trees. On top of the cliff was a large stone...pillar. It stood maybe 20-ft, its dark outline clearly visible on top of the cliff. It was wide too: an easy landmark if they needed to search for one. From a distance it had just looked like a strange rock outcropping. Now it looked more like a marker, but it was difficult to tell what kind of marker it might be without getting much closer.

The cave opening was not visible through the trees, but following Tafl's instructions, the companions could see the outline of a figure, pacing at the foot of the cliff. That was probably the location of the cave entrance.


 
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  #133  
Old 01-14-2019, 11:59 PM
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Mirabelle
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Heart thudding in half-excitement and half-agitation, Mirabelle squatted down and Mira has Low-Light Visionsquinted her eyes to see where Tafl pointed out. She thought she saw a figure and focused on it. 'Could it be..Ragli?' Her heart started thumping even louder in her ears, when she realized that she and her friends might have to confront Ragli if they did run into him. It suddenly felt very real after realizing that she might be getting in a fight with someone they knew, albeit very little, rather than with total strangers. And this wasn't anything like the mock duels she'd had in her lessons at home.

Mira shook her head a little and looked over her shoulder at the group, reassuring herself that she wasn't alone. 'Maybe it won't even come to a physical conflict. Surely those thieves don't want to risk their well-being for this test either.' Suppressing the questions and what-ifs rising in her mind, she turned her gaze back at the cave entrance.


 
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Old 01-16-2019, 03:13 PM
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Marcus
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Marcus made the best of the failing sunlight and
Dice Perception Roll:
d20+4 (14)+4 Total = 18
took in the situation before him. He was no stranger to darkness, not that that gave him an edge here. Well, here are the first two, where are the rest of them? Are they in the cave with the hostages, or are they out gathering more compasses?"

He whispered to the others as they stood hunched in their bushes. "Do any of you recognize these two? Knowing anything about them would be helpful. I wish we knew where the others were too. If they were out gathering more compasses, we could rush these two, and free Tafl's group and escape before the others return. If we attack and they are with the hostages, we'll that would complicate things quite a bit."

Marcus shrugged as he ran more ideas through his head. "Well, we need to know more before we act. Does anyone have a better idea than watching them for a while or sneaking closer for a view into that cave?" He tried to guess the distance between the bushes to his right. Could he move from shrub to shrub without them noticing?

"I sure could use that distraction I mentioned earlier." He looked at Tafl and realized they'd already asked enough of the boy. Now it was time for the rest of them to act.



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Old 01-20-2019, 12:48 PM
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Spindletop Loadlightener - Stellar Sportswoman
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Spindletop Loadlightener

As the group makes its way through the woods, Spindletop skips gleefully alongside Mira, her new BTFF (Best Tail Friend Forever (she wasn’t a hundred percent sure that was “a thing,” but she was a hundred and ten percent sure that she was going to make it a thing)), all the while keeping up a constant barrage of chatter. While this begins with the logical (at least relatively speaking) continuation of Cousin Fling’s adventures in the Wiley Warlock’s Pastry Emporium, the stream of consciousness quickly branches of into a variety of tangents, with the description of the crystal carriage apparently necessitating a detailed account of how Spindeltop herself became a card-carrying carriage driver extraordinaire (you’d be surprised how involved the process is for obtaining the proper paperwork to join Carriage Drivers Local 247). Before long, she has transitioned through a wide array of seemingly unrelated tales, eventually reaching the point where she appears to be expounding upon the apparent significance of the severed head of a humongous hyena which she inexplicably produces from somewhere within her coat, though it is somewhat difficult to focus on the little kender’s words amidst the mind-boggling mystery of the near-perfect preservation of said head, which seems to show no signs of visible decay.

Any questions regarding the safety and storage of severed appendages remain unasked and unanswered though, as Tafl signals for silence. Spindletop recognizes those signs. They had all the earmarkings of The Quiet Game, a game she was quite familiar with - having very frequently been asked to participate in it - though it was certainly not her forte. However, the lighthearted Lilliputian has a appreciation for games of all types, even those at which she does not particularly excel. And so she does her level best to keep up with the others, responding to Marcus’ inquiries in uncharacteristically hushed tones.

So what we need is something that might get their attention, the sort of thing that they would want to go investigate, because if their friends are in the cave, then they would probably go get them - either to invite them to join the investigation or at least to tell them where they were going before they wander off. She pauses for a moment in her contemplation to scratch absently at one of the twin tight little buns of lavender hair atop her head. I might be able to put together something to do just that, but would it be breaking the rules of the Quiet Game if it made a lot of noise? Even if we weren’t nearby when it did?

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