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  #76  
Old Mar 12th, 2021, 05:45 AM
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Plucking the flowersThe battle raged on. Cassius, Brucian and Mephis roamed about the battlefield, parrying what vines were whipped their way and retaliating by targeting the plants "borrowed" legs. The heavy trident of the Grauhn made short work of one of those humanoid limbs, toppling another of the monsters. Surprisingly the human scholar was equally successful as he chopped at those exposed parts with his bare hands. Mephis stabbed more wildly at his opponent, but in the end there was only a single plant left standing. The last survivor prepared to blow itself up in an intoxicating cloud, however this was a trick that the group by now knew too well to fall for it. When everybody backed up it burst ineffectively, clouding the area briefly in a purplish mist.

The three most active fighters bumped into Tihimor behind them, who had been locked into indecision these last few seconds of the fight, but with the battle won this barely mattered. Technically the three plant-beasts that had fallen were still dangerous, swinging their long limbs every which way, but with their legs crippled it was clear that they could now be avoided easily enough.

The heads of the labourers poked out of the jungle to either side, looking to see whether the fight had been won or if they were doomed now. There was a softening of faces as they realised that their current employers had taken care of it. There were even words of supplication as their helping hands apologised that they had not been able to render any assistance - they were not trained in the art of war themselves and had not been hired for these services.

In the end the altercation had left the group none the worse for wear really, save for maybe Brucian and I think?Cassius, who had been struck at least once. They were free to round the site of these dangerous flowers, where evidently a previous group had been swallowed up whole. Now they also knew to avoid any other bulbs of this nature they might see on their way through the jungle.

It was hard to say how much time this detour cost them, unless somebody dared to climb upwards and above the canopy - even Tihimor could not just take off vertically anymore, given that there remained foliage above the group as they carved their way through the jungle.

For hours they advanced at a crawling pace as they hacked their way through this lush place, not encountering any other dangers along the way. It was probably a lucky path they had chosen. Maybe a god had placed a shielding hand on their fates, if they were believers that was. Either way, the jungle eventually grew looser until eventually they could see the marble of buildings up ahead.

They had already known that this tree had lifted parts of the religious district up into the air, but now they saw that in this process most temples had fallen. There was a clearing made up broken pillars, bricks and marble cladding strewn about on top of paving stones that had been ripped apart by rising earth and growing vines. It looked like a molehilled field of rock and grass, but beyond it all there was a single temple that had been left standing in its entirety.

It was built in an Uxian style, naturally, this one being a circular hall of stone that was rimmed with a double row of pillars carrying an elaborate dome above. Most Uxian temples were rectangular, featuring an antechamber, but it was not known to the group what the significance of this one being round was. Given that the hall of the guildmasters had been this shape as well it may relate to commerce, or simple be a style that this particular Uxian culture favoured. Neither did they immediately know to which god this temple was dedicated to, as most of the outside had been grown over with vines and leaves covering the colourful marble plates and friezes that would have usually adorned its outside.

No living thing stirred in the area, but a careful observer was able to spot two tents having been erected in front of this temple.


OOCI just had to keep us moving here, as we were a whole week overdue, and I had decided that we weren't going to be regularly this slow anymore.
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Old Mar 19th, 2021, 10:07 AM
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The top of the tree, Khabor, Urarj - Start of the drowning monthAfter taking a few moments, allowing himself to calm after the battle, Brucian stowed his trident and picked up the chopping implements once more. Seeing their laborers emerge with hesitation, he bade them come forth. "It's alright! The danger has passed... for now, it seems." He immediately waved away their apologies. "Nonsense! It was I who pledged your protection. You are not warriors and would not be expected to act as such. You have proven your worth already, and I'm afraid must continue to do so until we reach the clearing."

With a certain amount of dismay the Prince resumed his chopping, leaving him ample time to contemplate the origin of those plant creatures. As they made progress, he wondered out loud in case Cassius, Mr. Tihomir, Mephis, or any of the others had any insights to share. "Do you think... those bellflowers were grown with legs?... Or did they swallow... the previous explorers and were able... to somehow control their bodies?... Either way this tree's appearance... brings with it discoveries both amazing and... ... ..." He paused, taking a few extra chops before finishing the thought. "terrifying..."

After hours of relentless chopping Brucian lost all sense of the passage of time. In the Grauhn kingdom there was similarly no sunrise or sunset, but generations of civilization had developed inherent ways of tracking the days. Feeding and migration patterns of fauna, growth cycles of flora, slight variations in temperature changes, all served to mark the passing of days, months, and seasons. He assumed similar techniques could be used here, but since this was everyone's first passage through this strange tree-jungle, and indeed this tree hadn't even existed but for a few weeks or months, he seriously doubted anyone present could give an educated guess of how long they had been trudging through this alien place.

But, eventually, they had apparently toiled long enough and hard enough to break through into a clearing. And when Brucian saw it was not only a clearing, but held the very temple they had been seeking, his face split into a wide grin and he looked to the others to share in the satisfaction. "We made it, friends! Finally, I think this deserves at least a small reprieve. Khaborians! Please, rest your arms a moment but do not stray. We should secure the area and ensure its safety before venturing any further." Before he spun back to survey the ruined clearing more closely his eyes caught the edge of the clearing and he shared a thought, "I'm curious... what makes the tree's endless and encroaching growth come no further into this space?" Saving that mystery for someone else or a later time when they had the luxury, Brucian stuck his choppers into his waist-strap and took a few tentative steps forward into the clearing. If his traveling companions followed, he spoke quietly. "I don't see any explorers or priests... Those tents suggest at least some of the previous party made it this far, yes? Should we make ourselves known? If there are survivors hidden somewhere here we wouldn't want them thinking we're vagabonds, sneaking in to pillage or cause violence." If no one objected the large whale-Prince kept his empty hands held out to his sides and took a few more steps before sucking in a large lungful of air and bellowing across the clearing.

"Helllllloooooooo! Is anyone home? We are a group of amicable travelers come from... uhh..."

He looked back to Cassius, Mr. Tihomir, and Mephis with a shrug.

"Down Below!"

Brucian waited, listening, hoping to pick up the voice of someone calling back. Hopefully they were friendly. Maybe even... this Mayouni the Wise they sought?
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  #78  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 12:21 PM
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The TempleThe group had finally arrived at its destination, the centre of the treetop. It was a surreal feeling when the group remembered that this clearing was hanging on top of a gigantic arboreal growth that had lifted an entire quarter of a city. Only the thin air was a reminder of this at first, then the mighty branches that here and there stuck out of the ground, holding the clump of earth together.

Nutmekhu, the To'Ari spokesperson for their local workers nodded at what Brucian ordered, stunned into silence by the strangeness of the situation. Their hired hands settled down onto the ground after clearing away some shrubs to create a possible site for a resting place later. There was no doubt that they would patiently wait for further instructions, not least because they had nowhere to go in the first place. Nowhere besides the temple at least, but that was something they gladly left to their employers to explore.

Brucian led the advance towards the large edifice ahead. It was maybe an exageration that the tree had not encroached onto the temple at all, given that it was hung over and over with growing vines, ivy and flowers, but it was true that the way its general shape had been preserved was peculiar, let alone that there was an open space around it, rather than more jungle.

The Grauhn prince himself had no special knowledge of Uxian culture or language beyond what he had seen in his short stay in Urarj's capital, similarly to how Tihimor did not speak or write Ux, even if he was slightly more familiar with their broad cultural patterns. However, Mephis and Cassius were both familiar, one having studied from afar, the other having spent a lot of time among the slug-like people. It was those two especially on the lookout for any signs as to who's temple this was in the first place.

And while the outside was largely overgrown they managed to spot a few symbols and stray letters peeking through. Ironically the images were hard to spot at first because they depicted plant life as well, among lots of ornament there was one repeating symbol of a blossoming flower and a another of a split almond shape representing a seed. Having studied Uxian culture Cassius knew that the former generally stood for Kul-Vin, god of life itself sometimes called the "Lotus", and his child, Tehra, the god of the processes of growing, flowering and blossoming. This seemed suitably apt considering.

While Mephis and Cassius were still studying the temple Brucian had already announced the presence of the group. His booming voice even managed to echo once off the building in front of them, but after the sound had passed there was only silence but for the rustling of leaves and flowers. At least for a few moments, that was.

After half a minute of waiting and listening the quiet was broken by an unlikely sound - the laughter of a child.

It was a lone giggle coming from the general direction of the temple. First there was one, then another, then the group could see that there were multiple shapes moving within the shrubberies surrounding the outside of the building. Above the architrave pointy faces popped up, brightly coloured in unlikely hues. They did not seem as large as the hulking brutes that they had killed off earlier, and in fact even at a distance one could see that there were huge eyes and smiles on the weird little things crawling about the building. Their almond shapes suggested the same thing as some of the symbols on the temple, seeds, only these seemed very much mobile and alive.

The strange seedlings fully emerged from the foliage, ripping out flowers by the handful to throw them up in the air as they did merry little dances atop the temple. The air was soon full of the falling buds of many-coloured plant life.

However, still no sight of other more "conventional" life. The tents seemed empty, though there was nothing to suggest that they had been left in haste. It seemed like an orderly campsite, the owners of which had simply walked away on a stroll. Whether that was up the stairs and into the temple was not immediately clear - not without taking a very close look - but then again they could have hardly gone anywhere else on the clearing.

The entrance to the temple itself seemed dark and foreboding, though on a closer inspection it appeared that was usually a large and open entryway, easily ten Ux high and four wide, had a curtain of vines hanging down over it, which shielded the inside from view. It likely also dampened sound travelling in and out of the temple.


OOCBit more context and stuff happening as you approach the temple. I rolled perception for Mephis and Cassius here, but feel free to roll a lot more of that (or of other skills) as you come even closer.

Last edited by Phettberg; Mar 26th, 2021 at 07:12 PM.
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Old Mar 20th, 2021, 03:51 AM
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Battle’s EndCassius immediately looked to his companions at the battle’s end, silently assessing their health. The scholar’s posture appeared to relax slightly when he learned that only Brucian had been struck - the most armored among them - and that no one appeared to be under distress from the airborne toxins. The human did not appear to evidence outward signs of pain from his own wound. The only indication he was injured was the blood stain on his left boot above his ankle and slight tear in the hardened leather where it had been punctured.

The lone human ignored the laborers’ supplications - leaving that to his companions - and immediately went to work. He carefully stepped around the site in an attempt to take a sample of the poison spores that were left from one of the exploded bulbs for later study. By this time the scholar’s hood was again draped over his head, the philosopher-scientist coming to the fore. A careful eye also spotted the human picking up and sheathing any of the small metal disks he could find in the area that he had thrown during the battle.

Taking up his axe once again, Cassius joined in with the others, determined to hack their way out of the jungle, toward Mayouni the Wise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MoldyNolds View Post
"Do you think... those bellflowers were grown with legs?... Or did they swallow... the previous explorers and were able... to somehow control their bodies?... Either way this tree's appearance... brings with it discoveries both amazing and... ... ..." He paused, taking a few extra chops before finishing the thought. "terrifying..."
Replying between chops, “Strange. I at first assumed the plants merely covered the entire body of the unlucky humanoids, Ambassador, but the bursting bulbs appeared to show no such body left, unless they had dissolved the entire upper torso.” More chopping as Cassius thought to himself. “I attempted to take samples for later study and will convey what I learn to all of you, if there is an interest.

Broken Religious DistrictInstead of letting down at the sight of the clearing up ahead through the jungle, Cassius’ entire body tensed up beneath his robes. Merely viewing what was left of the broken temples to the foreign gods was enough to put the scholar ill at ease. The thought of walking through the clearing was distasteful to the Myrnish human, though their journey to seek Mayouni apparently required it. As he was having these thoughts, Brucian’s question sounded in the air above him, as was usual for the hulking whale-man.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MoldyNolds View Post
"I'm curious... what makes the tree's endless and encroaching growth come no further into this space?"
Cassius responded without thinking, “But Ambassador, don’t you think it has something to do with the anathema of these foreign temples?” Cassius’ voice grew hard for a moment, his philosophical detest spilling into his speech, “Perhaps the tree itself does not support the worship of these false gods, which is why they were torn down.” The cloaked human paused for a moment in thought before starting to walk into the clearing as he spoke. “I am not entirely unsympathetic to the tearing down of these temples... and of those caught worshiping inside.” Cassius continued walking into the clearing, soon hearing the Prince’s booming voice making their presence known.

While the hired workers were resting, Cassius asked for a conference with Brucian, Mephis, and Tihimor at a location just out of earshot from the laborers. “There are a few items I would like to discuss before we continue. The first concerns payment of our laborers.” The human took a deep breath and glanced from the towering whale-man to their cloven-hooved companion. “It was important for us to enter the jungle as soon as possible, therefore I agreed with you to split the cost of our laborers to not stall the start of our journey any further. However, the truth is that I do not have the funds necessary to pay at this time.” The scholar looked toward Mephis, “I know you have a mercantile mind, and I am willing to pay an inflated rate if you…” The human looked up at the whale-main. “...or you, Ambassador, would cover my third of the payment when it is due. In any case, I anticipate that we will come into more coin before our journey is finished, and as a scholar, I rarely seek a monetary profit in such things.

The Myrnish scholar rubbed at his chin, in thought for a moment before raising the next item for discussion. Without realizing it, Cassius began pacing, as he most likely once did in the halls of his academy. “It is no secret that I and many Myrnians do not favor foreign gods or those priests that worship such gods.” Putting one hand up briefly as if to caution his companions from making false conclusions, “I do not mean to speak ill against you or your own religions.” As he continued, his voice became increasingly hard and angry. “I speak instead of those leading such worship.” Cassius stopped pacing and took a breath before looking up to his companions, his tone of voice reverting back to a scholarly manner. “I only thought it necessary to inform you of my own beliefs on this matter, as we might need to enter into the temple in the distance. I am of course willing to do such a thing, especially if Mayouni the Wise is inside, but I thought it pertinent that you know my own thoughts and will perhaps understand my actions, if and when it comes to that.

Lastly, that was a battle well fought back in the jungle.” Cassius looked from one companion to the next as he continued. “I understand if you choose not to answer this query, but I am curious how you, Ambassador, or perhaps it was you, Mephis, or you, Tihimor, were able to conjure up the Prince’s double during our battle. That was truly exceptional.” Cassius continued, motioning with his hands as he spoke, “I raise this because it might be helpful to tactically understand - if simplistically - what abilities we might be able to count on if we were to encounter other hostile beings.” At this point, Cassius pushed up his robe on his left arm, revealing a worn out leather forearm sheath with multiple shuriken. Taking one of them in his right hand, “As for me, it is fairly straightforward, I know how to use these disks…” the human resheathed it as he continued talking. “...and I know the art of arm locks and throws. What about you?” Cassius paused, looking to his companions to see if any of the others would speak up. If not, the scholar would make it known that he respected their silence and appreciated their time for the discussion.

Approaching the TempleAs they approached the temple, the “Lotus” symbol was not lost on Cassius. Images flew through his mind of when he first met the Carnival Master, the armless Rak’Ari named Urnabuk. How many months ago was it? And they had now almost reached Mayouni, and the answers beckoned. A child’s laughter, or what sounded like child’s laughter brought Cassius back into the present.

The strange seed-like beings were captivating, but also alarming. The scholar considered the raining flowers as potential signs of aggression. His first thought was about how they were going to protect the hired workers from what appeared to be a more mobile adversary. Even if his immediate companions were able to duck into the temple, it was unlikely the hired workers would be able to keep up or fend for themselves. The scholar approached with caution. He began glancing in the distance from every side of their group, watching for the seedlings to approach from any angle. Without stopping his scan, Cassius asked, “Does anyone have any knowledge of these creatures?
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Old Mar 21st, 2021, 07:56 PM
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Abilities and Beliefs Queried“I do not mean to speak ill against you or your own religions.” As he continued, his voice became increasingly hard and angry. “I speak instead of those leading such worship.”

Brucian looked genuinely surprised at Cassius' admission of his beliefs, or lack thereof. Not resentful or malicious, just surprised. "I had no idea. Of course one's belief structure is their own. It is true the clergy are often given, or take, much power and they have the option to use that authority for their own selfish gains. Faith is a tricky thing, quite often guidance can enhance one's experience. If you trust your guide. Ultimately it is up to each of us to forge our own path. Following in the footsteps of others only works if you've lived the same life and had the same experiences as those in front of you, which is rarely the case." He nods, as if coming to a decision. "I appreciate your honesty, Cassius."

“I raise this because it might be helpful to tactically understand - if simplistically - what abilities we might be able to count on if we were to encounter other hostile beings.”

Brucian nodded thoughtfully and absently ran a hand over one of the pock marks in his breastplate, a blemish from the bellflowers in an otherwise pristine multi-hued piece of armor. "I admit to no such supernatural abilities. The illusion, as I assume that's all it was, was startling at first but I assumed it had been conjured by one of us here. I think Mephis, here, had alluded to the possession of arcane abilities." The Grauhn briefly addressed the Gracan directly, "You certainly seemed to contribute more than mere dancing at the ceremony in Ezen. No, all I have at my disposal are my trident, my muscles, and my... charming personality!" He dons a showy grin for the group to emphasize his last attribute. "Oh, and my pearl-purse. Speaking of which..." He pulls it off his belt and peers inside. "I can certainly cover you, Cassius, although I must say I'm quickly running out of funds. Something I haven't experienced before. We may quickly find that securing funding to continue our little world-spanning investigation becomes a top priority for us." Brucian laughs it off, but he has trouble hiding the fact that there is real trepidation behind his voice. A beggar Prince... What a sight that would be!

Switching subjects, he returns the focus back to Cassius. "Your moves were quite the sight to behold, friend philosopher. I was surprised you exhibited such agility and martial prowess with your..." His eyes shifted to Mephis and Tihomir, and he decided not to finish the sentence, but instead continued on as if he had. "You don't have any secret weapons in that philosopher brain of yours? No learned occult tricks?"

Approaching the TempleThe laughing seedlings visibly unnerved Brucian. He stopped in his tracks and watched them for a moment. When Cassius inquired about prior knowledge the Prince huffed out a breathy laugh. "This time last season I had never even seen a tree, let alone climbed one into the sky and dispatched walking flowers... I would imagine these... creatures... are as unexpected a sight to Khabor as the tree itself. But they seem... friendly, don't they? I mean, they're laughing...?"

With a hand gripping his trident, the large Grauhn left his weapon slung on his back and, still feeling the aches and pains of their battle not hours earlier and with no rest, slowly restarted his approach towards the temple. "If they don't seem violent then I'd be willing to pass them by. If they'll let us."
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Last edited by MoldyNolds; Mar 21st, 2021 at 08:00 PM.
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Old Mar 26th, 2021, 06:23 PM
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Can we rest yet?With the last of the strange plants disabled and the jungle as safe as it could reasonably be considered Mephis took time to breathe. His exertions with the imagery of Brucian as well as the adrenaline of dodging the stinging tentacles had left him feeling winded. In response to Brucian's query he piped up, "Hard to tell as Cassius said. If they had swallowed those who went before, then their acid is quite powerful. At the same time, for what purpose would nature create legs like that? Or perhaps this isn't really nature, given the fact that we're atop a gigantic tree that sprouted virtually overnight."

He shouldered his ax yet again, standing side by side with their hired hands as they continued to chop their way to the temple. At Cassius' questioning and Brucian's inability to explain he did speak. "Yes, the double of our fair prince was my doing. A trick I have picked up over time. And you are correct Brucian, I do have some limited abilities. I suppose one could call them arcane." He bit his lip in contemplation, unsure of how much to reveal, but at Cassius' proposal to enlighten everyone was to what skills they may all have he nodded in agreement. "You are correct, mercantile means are something I have learned over time. But only to survive. My first love was theater and the joy of parties, however without a patron or a troupe it is difficult to make such things happen. I served many roles in my time, merchant, seaman, at times an informant. And then there is that thing you refer to as arcane. The best I can explain it is I can stretch my mind the way you might a muscle and make things happen. Words and movement sometimes help, and what I have figured out how to do is somewhat limited. But I can draw on my own reserves and cause certain things to manifest, not least among them fantastical imagery. It is tiring though, and I cannot maintain such concentration for long."

The obviously populated, yet silent camp that greeted them was unnerving. If his eyes didn't tell him otherwise he would assume that they had merely come upon a camp that had sent an expedition out for the day. But the lack of even minimal cook fires and guards was unlike anything he had encountered. Brucian's bellows did the job of announcing them well, far better than anything Mephis could muster. At the sight of the little seedlings he took pause. "Friendly, perhaps. But consider that before us is a camp that looks maintained but empty. Given what we saw from those creatures in the jungle, I wouldn't put it past these little things to tear our flesh from our bones. I personally have never seen such things, but I could try to sense if they bear us any ill will." With that he stepped aside, making a few of his familiar dancelike motions while muttering under his breath, his eyes narrowed as he stared at the little creatures flocking around the temple.


OOCCasting Sense Emotion targeting one of the seedling creatures.
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Old Mar 26th, 2021, 07:55 PM
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The TempleMaybe they would have needed an Ux with them, possibly a scholar of obscure knowledge at that, because when Cassius asked his question only silence followed. The creatures continued their merry dances and their throwing of flowers, their joy receiving an undertone of menace through the strangeness of it all. It might have been different if they had not fought animated plant life not too long ago, which had made it clear that not everything of this aspect was friendly. At the very least these seedlings had no gaping mouths to swallow anybody with, and only short knobbly little arms. In fact it seemed that what appeared like a mouth from a distance was not a hole, just two bulges like lips carved into a piece of driftwood. Yet what passed as their faces moved regardless, ignoring the fact that eyes needed orbs to see, mouths needed holes to feed.

The group advanced slowly and cautiously. None of the things dropped down onto them, nor did their demeanour change. However, when they saw that there were some of them hiding among the weeds at the base of the temple fears were renewed. But they did not charge either, instead stepping out into the light, looking at the group with their beady eyes and carved smiles.

It was then that Mephis was well within range to cast his magic, and the motions and moves proved fruitful for him as he targeted those closer seedlings. However, the result was known only to the Gracan alone, at least for now.

The four had to pause for Mephis to finish his short ritual, and while they did so one of the seeds turned and walked towards the overgrown temple wall. It fidgeted about with the green for a little while, then turned around holding some flowerwork in its hands. In fact it had rustled up a sort of wreath using red and yellow plants, some green vines and a few twigs. It slowly bumbled over to the group, looking a very tiny thing this close, no three feet tall and almost as wide. As it slowly walked like this towards Mephis the other seedlings picked up the idea and started to look for some appropriate bulbs themselves.

There was something comical about the walking seed, though a cynic might have suggested their meek exterior might hide a darker purpose. Either way, it stopped a good two yards away from the Gracan, lifting its wreath above its head as an offering. Soon some other seeds had prepared similar necklaces, diadems or floral trinkets, with varying success, and they too walked over to offer them to Brucian and Tihimor.

The only odd thing was when a seedling walked close to Cassius. This little thing held another ring of green, but when it came close to the human it clasped the thing in an unsure manner, not turning its strange eyes on the scholar. It hadn't come as near either, stopping a few yards short. Eventually it simply dropped its would-be offering and ran away towards the overhung entrance to the temple.

As it passed through the "beaded-curtain" of the vines hanging down to cover the portal a ripple went through the lianas there. It would not pass easily, the movement in fact intensifying. Like a stage opening the vines curled up to pull away on either side, revealing the antechamber of the temple. Beyond another curtain made of vines covered the entrance to the inner sanctum.

The antechamber was not entirely empty, in fact there were three figures sitting on the marble floor there, one Ux, a Getta and a Rak'ari. All three were dressed in local but utilitarian garb made for the outdoors, though it was worse for wear and had clearly suffered the jungle for a while. The strangest thing was not that however - it seemed that both Ux and Rak'Ari had a leather strap fastened around their heads, covering earholes and eyes. The Gettan had something like cotton stuck into his ears from what the group could see, and held one set of his hands up to cover his eyes.

Now they realised that with the opening up of one veil there was now a sound coming from the temple, strange like everything about this place. It sounded like the rustling of a million leaves, like a stream hollowing a mountain, a whisper impossibly loud. There was a shifting in pitch and hue, suggesting speech, but while there was a boom to the sound it was still muffled by the second curtain of vines, and it seemed like that might have been a blessing.


OOCSorry I doctored the timeline a little bit here, but regular spells are cast with a range penalty, a fact of the trade that Mephis would intuitively aware of. Actually the rules as written state it's -1 per yard of distance for any regular spell, but that never seemed right to me, so I just use the normal range penalties, as would be used for ranged weapons. I get that the spell works best when one can touch their target, but I don't want to nerf magic that much, given it's already hard to master.

Other than that, enjoy.
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Old Mar 29th, 2021, 06:18 PM
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With...maws? wide openThough these plant-things seemed harmless enough Mephis couldn't seem to shake the feeling of dread that lingered from their last encounter. "Well, all I can sense is joy, like that of seeing a long-lost friend or lover. Joy mixed with...nervousness? Anticipation? I don't know if it's the difficulty in trying to tell what a plant might be feeling or if I'm simply not understanding what I'm experiencing." He watched with curiosity as the little creature gathered a sample of plants and held them up as though Mephis were to take them. "A gift of peace? Or seasoning? Something feels off but I can't put a name to it." With care he knelt down and took the wreath from the little creature, on the off chance he was to be eaten he at least hoped that accepting this with a little grace would minimize the suffering he was put to.

As the vines covering the opening split apart he shuddered. "At least we have an answer for the welcoming party. They couldn't hear us if they wanted to." A thought crossed his mind, imagery of a mocking drawing he had seen with a trio of Ilder, except none of these were covering their mouth. With the sussurations and and burbles echoing in his ears it seemed near impossible to concentrate. But the rhythms felt like words. Vaguely he wondered if Brucian might have some understanding, although the sounds of leaves was probably quite a bit different than the sounds beneath the waves. "I would say that they might be focusing on the sounds, except they have their ears blocked." Turning to the others he shrugged, "Should we poke one of them and see if they respond? If not, I can try and focus myself to understand any meaning that might be underlying the sounds here."


OOCFor now, doing nothing special, I want to see how the others feel.

If needed, I'll cast Gift of Tongues for 4 FP (burning health if needed, I only have 2 FP left unless we've had any recovery since the fight) to understand at Accented level.

Dice Gift of Tongues, SL 12:
3d6 3, 3, 2 Total = 8
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  #84  
Old Mar 31st, 2021, 05:55 PM
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BrucianThe whale prince nodded along as Mephis explained what he could of the seedlings' intentions. "Those all sound like good things." At this point he was ready to take a little faith that their welcome was genuine and wouldn't lead to a gruesome death with their legs left protruding from a bellflower. When their welcoming party approached and started handing them adornments made from the local plantlife, Brucian accepted each one with a smile and donned them; pinning them to his armor plating or draping them around his shoulders. He doubted any of the seedlings could make something large enough to fit over his enormous head, and he didn't intend to embarrass himself by trying.

When the vines opened into the temple Brucian looked on in amazement, unable to keep himself from pointing and exclaiming, "There's people in there!" As he watched them, sitting with a statue's stillness, he became confused. "Are they praying? Or in some kind of trance? And that noise... It's almost wave-like. But I'm sure it's quite loud in the chamber. Look, they're all covering their ears and eyes. I wonder what that's about." After a moment's thought he yanked off each of his gauntlets, then both of his segmented arm plates. Using one of his chopping implements he Medium Layered Cloth - Arms has been scavenged and removed from Brucian's inventory.sliced off his reinforced undergarments at the shoulder. Slick blue skin revealed itself underneath, rippling with a lifetime of swimming and sparring muscles. After re-donning his armor he took a seat on the ground and began tearing up the cloth into numerous long strips. Tying a few of them together he then wrapped it tightly around his head across his eardrums and tied it off. The end-result looked rather silly; with his flat eardrums located under his eyes the tied cloth looked more like a commoner's scruffy bolo tie than a headband, but he was apparently satisfied with the result.

Offering the leftover strips to his companions, Brucian spoke in a louder-than-normal volume in an unconscious effort to balance out the dampened sound coming through his makeshift earplugs. "Well, we're not going to learn anything more out here, are we? I say let's stay on guard, but it certainly seems like we're being invited inside!" Excitement at exploring the unknown took hold once more as the Grauhn couldn't help but look on with wide eyes and a bit of a grin as he climbed the steps and passed through the open vine-curtain...
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Last edited by MoldyNolds; Mar 31st, 2021 at 05:57 PM.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 03:46 AM
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Leviticus Leviticus is offline
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Tactical ConversationThe pale human stood quietly, cataloguing his companions’ skills and abilities, seemingly lost in thought until he heard what the Prince didn’t say.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoldyNolds View Post
"Your moves were quite the sight to behold, friend philosopher. I was surprised you exhibited such agility and martial prowess with your..."
Cassius lifted his gaze almost imperceptibly toward the whale-man’s closest eye, silently acknowledging what was unspoken for a brief moment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoldyNolds View Post
"You don't have any secret weapons in that philosopher brain of yours? No learned occult tricks?"
I have studied the occult, in fact, for years. However…” nodding toward Mephis, “...I do not possess the ability to make things happen with my mind.” Now addressing the Gracan, “Your arcane abilities are truly amazing, unheard of in Myrna. This knowledge will surely aid us in the future.” Nodding to Mephis and Brucian, “My thanks.”


Beyond the VeilCassius placed a hand on the Ambassador's arm and then silently motioned for the whale-man to take a few steps back while Mephis performed the movements apparently needed for arcane magic. The scholar spoke quietly from under his hood as he watched the Gracan. “My... condition, of which we spoke previously. It does not hinder my ability for movement, though I would understand why you might think so. As always, I appreciate your concern, Ambassador.” The scholar continued watching the seedlings as he waited for the Gracan’s ritual to finish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor Feelgood View Post
"Well, all I can sense is joy, like that of seeing a long-lost friend or lover. Joy mixed with...nervousness? Anticipation? I don't know if it's the difficulty in trying to tell what a plant might be feeling or if I'm simply not understanding what I'm experiencing."
Even with this knowledge, Cassius found himself feeling increasingly disturbed as he watched one of the seedlings ultimately advance toward Mephis. The human’s hands tightened into fists beneath his robes as different seeds presented floral necklaces to his companions, and then one finally approached him. He stood rigid, watching it until it stopped a few feet away. He pictured his hands breaking its three foot frame in half. Would its face still move if it was also broken? And then he watched as the seedling ran and the subsequent reaction of the hanging vines. Off to alert someone? The scholar squinted his eyes, attempting to follow the seedlings progress within the temple. Cassius strode closer to his companions, ignoring the ring of grass left on the ground by the seedling to take in the three figures within the temple antechamber.

Cassius stood quietly, pondering the figures for the span of three long breaths. He eventually joined in on the conversation about them. “I could be wrong, but based on my study of Uxian religion, I think what we are hearing is some type of worship from behind the second veil.” Pointing to the figures within the antechamber, “Those three have likely been privileged to get that close to said worship, but not allowed to hear it, or to see it.” The scholar rubbed his chin for a moment before continuing. “What that worship is, must be very holy or very secretive. Likely both. It would not surprise me if it was a particularly strong ritual to bring out an artifact of this temple’s gods...” Cassius pointed toward the symbol of a flower on the temple as he continued, “...Kulfin...” And then toward the symbol of a seed, “... and Tara. And from the sound of it…” Cassius looked around at his companions, “...perhaps it is already out.

The scholar grew silent at his companions’ suggestions to enter the temple. “I will say this. Even though I detest such foreign worship, we must use caution if we enter that second veil. It is one thing to be within the antechamber - like those three - but from the perspective of the inner worshipers, any intruders on such a sacred ritual would likely be met with an extreme response.” Looking up at the whale-man, “Perhaps, Ambassador, your thoughts to placate the worshipers with your own coverings may show proper respect in the antechamber, but I doubt they would matter beyond. But again, I could be wrong." After a slight pause, "And of course, Mayouni awaits.

Cassius silently followed behind his companions as they entered the first veil.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 10:51 AM
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In the TempleThe group was in agreement to proceed with caution, taking slow steps towards the antechamber. As they climbed the steps the strange seedlike creatures that apparently were the wards of the temple bounced up and down next to them, some tossing flowers in the air to meet those petals floating down from above, where their brethren were still making it rain bright colours of celebration.

Those few people kneeling inside with their ears and eyes bound were still an ominous sight. It was making the feet of the group like lead, every step slow and made very deliberately. The anticipation and suspicion in the air was almost like a physical pressure, like walking through molasses. Like swimming against the current when none was really there, was how Brucian may have experienced it.

Secreted Text to Leviticus/Cassius, unsecreted for HoFOOC Note: What follows here is a bunch of secret text that I wanted to share with people checking in for HoF (with the permission of the player, of course). Since I also spoilertagged it the players can decide to ignore it - in fact the spoilertag has some explanation about the situation that the players might want to find out through play.
 



As the four reached the top of the stairs they could see that the people in the antechamber were unhurt and breathing. They did not stir until the group passed underneath the opened curtain of vines that had overhung the outer doorway of the temple, which was when one of the Gettans that was only holding his eyes closed noticed a presence nearby, likely alerted by Brucians sheer mass or the clacking steps of Mephis hooves on marble.

The echidna-man turned his upper two hands to look towards the entrance, his red-rimmed eyes widening at the sight first of Brucian, a Grauhn, and Cassius, a human. By comparison the sight of a Gracan must have been entirely mundane, and even Tihimor was less exotic, birdperson he might have been. His mouth fell open, but closed again immediately when there was movement from the inner sanctum.

First the sound stopped entirely. What was a large grumbling like stones shifting underground disappeared one from second to the next, leaving only a silence that seemed absolute. It was replaced by a rustling of vines as the second veil started to twitch and shift. The Getta that had risked a peek towards the entrance veritably slapped his hands back over his eyes as the curtain of green lifted to reveal the inner sanctum.

It was a looming circular room with a frescoed dome far above, held up by pillars that were twisted and ornamental to simulate natural greenery, all the while just like outside most of the interiors were overgrown with actual plants and vines that had snaked in through the tall windows. Murky light fell in from an eye in the dome above and the many slits in the stonework, dust in the air made visible by the heavy golden rays. The air stank of chlorophyll and moisture. It seemed as humid as it had been out in the jungle.

Inside the temple was largely bare of furniture, the large spaces reserved for laymen and priests for their worship. There was only a small ornamental stone fence around where the high altar was placed, atop an elevated platform opposite to the entrance.

That is where they saw it.

That side of the sanctum was covered with a dense network of roots and vines, so much that one couldn't actually see where the altar once had been before. What had replaced it was a gigantic flower that had opened its purple petals fully, a purple and white sun dominating the entire wall with its diameter of at least ten yards. From its centre a fleshy white growth protruded almost like a huge slug or worm. At its end there was a face framed by another flower this one a glowing gold like a halo of light.

It was a frightening face. Larger than Brucian, smooth as polished silver, brutally ageless. An Uxian death mask. Eyes that were a solid white, yet did not appear without sight. A mouth that was shapely, understated, beautiful. The lack of a real nose or ears appeared less absurd than it did on Ux here. In fact there was nothing laughable about this heavy head hanging in the air, gazing out into the antechamber and at the four that had appeared there.

They hadn't even noticed that behind them the first curtain of vines had closed again, even though it meant that much of the light of day had been shut out again. In the corners of the room more seedlings stood watching it all with glee. Dozens of them.

The awesome white face had sucked up all the attention, but now the group could also see that beneath it on the stairs leading up to the altar sat a robed figure bearing a gnarled staff. It was an Ux, one that even at a distance looked remarkably old if judging by the wrinkled prune that was his face. That his eyes were also white seemed fitting, though this one seemed to be truly blind.

The mouth of the huge face moved in a just barely noticeable way, yet the voice that was ejected was booming and terrible. It made the bones shake and numbed the brain, a whisper louder than any ought to be. But it was also a voice that was smooth like honey, sweet but threatening to clog the mind with its stickiness.

What was said was understood by all, even though it did not sound like it was said in the common tongue. Such a language would have been sacriledge from such a mouth.

I am Tehra

Cassius had said the god of this temple was called Tara, but it was clear that they were one and the same.

You crossed the jungle. You may hear my voice.

Without it moving its eyes it was clear to all that the divine face was briefly turning its attention onto Cassius.

Even him.

This direct attention must have been alarming to the human scholar, but the others now saw that vines had crept up around the humans legs and hands, locking him in place.

Fear not. You seek answers. Speak your questions.


OOC

Please everybody make a fright check for me (which should be equal to will). A failure does not mean you run away, I only want it to give you some idea of where your character is at emotionally seeing what they are seeing.

Last edited by Phettberg; Apr 8th, 2021 at 06:45 PM.
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  #87  
Old Apr 4th, 2021, 08:51 PM
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Meeting With a GodIt was a strange sensation; to feel one's feet reluctant in moving forward and yet it was like Brucian was inexorably pulled towards the inner sanctum at the same time. He thought he might have had the willpower to stop and try conversing with the Gettan that acknowledged their entrance into the temple, although much like him the opening of the second series of vines caused any notion of distraction to flee his mind, and once again he was moving forward.

It was one thing to daydream about speaking to a God; it was something Brucian had done many times since coming to the surface. He had prayed, meditated, sought advice from religious officials, all in the hopes of communicating with the Moon Mother. This was... not what he expected. Everything was larger than life, like his brain would melt, or explode, or both just from trying to comprehend what he was experiencing.

The flowers... the face... the voice... By the depths, the voice!

Despite the philosopher's reluctance, and indeed, his skepticism that bordered on hostility regarding worship practices, it was Cassius that had identified the symbolism on the exterior of this place. Brucian surprised himself when he found he was able to tear his gaze away from this entity and look towards the human with the intention of asking him some clarifying questions as to this Tehra. It was then he noticed Cassius had been bound by vines and made immobile. A growing sense of alarm began to ring in the back of his mind and Brucian realized if this thing didn't want them to leave, it could almost certainly make sure they never did. Brucian succeeds his fright check!Nonetheless he took one more step forward and addressed the being in what he hoped was a voice that didn't tremble too noticeably.

"Oh..." This thing identified itself as Tehra, but it gave no titles... Oh Great Tehra? Oh God Tehra? Tehra the Fertile? This was a fertility god, right? In the end, Brucian gave it no titles because it gave itself none. "Oh Tehra, I am Prince Brucian Pough, Grey Ambassador to the Grauhn Kingdom of the Endless Oceans. We have come in peace, seeking an audience with Mayouni the Wise. Is this he?" The Grauhn motioned towards the old Ux holding the staff. "Our business concerns the Chaos that we have witnessed spreading across this region of the world." He looked to Cassius again, this time addressing Tehra and repeating their intentions. "We mean you no harm. Respectfully, if we are not to fear, why have you restrained our friend?"
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Last edited by MoldyNolds; Apr 4th, 2021 at 09:01 PM.
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  #88  
Old Apr 5th, 2021, 12:30 PM
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In the templeThe white face hung in the air seemingly catching what little light fell into the room from above, reflecting it like a beacon towards the four at the entrance to the inner sanctum. Its attention was palpable even if the expression did not change, even if the eyes were milky pools.

Finding some inner strength Brucian was the first to speak, his voice echoing around the large open hall.

When he was finished there was a long pause before Tehra's face ejected its own booming voice through a mouth barely moving.

I've known your movements and your purposes since before you set foot on my soil. I know all of your names. Do not waste your breath.

As compared to before the speech was a little more monotonous, the subtle change in inflexion giving it a malicious edge.

You do not ask me the questions that you truly want the answers to. No, you gaze upon the aspect of godhood and instead ask for things of little relevance. I know the movements of the gods and the fabric of reality, and you want to know the name of a mortal from me?

Beneath the floating mask the Ux slumped a little where he sat, tilting his head forward so that his hood feel over the brow. Shrinking his outline in that way he clasped at his staff while drawing in a big breath as quietly as possible, all in all seemingly trying to be inconspicuous while the god continued to speak.

I am no herald of men. If this is all you desire to know then exit these halls and you shall find out soon.

The vines behind the four twitched a little, suggesting to Brucian that they would open for him, should he really want to walk out. There remained the matter of Cassius, who alone was being held in place.

The plaything wants to run. I want it to speak, hence I hold it until it has. It won't be harmed and will be allowed to leave with you.

It was unclear what was meant by plaything, let alone why the god rudely considered the human something of a "thing". Then again as the well-travelled Mephis and Tihimor would have heard about, no god had ever heeded a humans prayer to the knowledge of any historian, nor given them divine strength. Occasionally some human might have claimed to wield the power of a god, but none could stand the test of real disciples.


OOCJust a quick update since we're more in a conversation here, everybody can just feel free to go in whatever order.
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  #89  
Old Apr 9th, 2021, 05:50 PM
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Entering the TempleThe human scholar followed the towering whale-man and cloven-hoofed Gracan up the stairs while exotic flowers dropped sullenly from above. If one of his companions had glanced back, they would have noticed Cassius pause at the top of the stone steps and jerk his head once to the right, and then to the left, as if he was hearing voices shouting from all sides.

STOP

GO FORWARD

IT'S THEM, THE FIENDS, PRETENDERS

BE STRONG, AVERT YOUR EYES, YOU HAVE ONLY DEATH TO FEAR

The human’s erratic behavior continued for the span of three long breaths while more and more voices screamed out from all directions until at last they ceased, and Cassius visibly steeled himself, only then removing the hands that had been pressed up against his ears in a futile attempt at protection from the verbal onslaught. The human finally stepped inside the antechamber - heavily breathing and gritting his teeth from under his hood - to reluctantly join his companions.

By this time, the sound from beyond the second veil had dissipated, and then stopped entirely. Cassius barely had time to look over the three figures within before the vines of the second veil shifted, catching the scholar’s attention. The human again followed behind his companions into the immense domed inner sanctum.


Conversing with a GodStepping foot inside, the scholar’s gaze was immediately drawn up toward the frescoed dome and then down along its ornamental pillars. Cassius focused into the distance through the dusty air on what appeared to be an immense flower, and then on its protruding white figure, and finally on its face framed in golden petals. THE FACE! The scholar instinctively took a step back and a sharp breath in. The Face. At his back, he felt the protruding vines of what he thought was the second veil. It would only take a moment, though, for the cloaked human to realize he was several feet inside the sanctum, and that these vines had grown taught around his legs and arms, holding him solidly in place.

Corded muscles tightened underneath scholarly robes as the Myrnish philosopher gritted his teeth and tested his bonds. Flares of anger erupted within the human’s mind alongside an acute awareness of fear, and of death. Cassius looked up again at the face, staring into its white eyes just as it started to speak. When the god turned its gaze toward Cassius, the human took the opportunity to look beneath the flower, taking in the ancient Ux sitting at its feet. Mayouni the Wise, thought the scholar, before turning his attention back toward his companions - now that they had seen his bindings - and ultimately on Tehra, god of growing, child of Kul-Vin, god of life.

Cassius’ mind reeled as he watched the Ambassador step forward and address the god. As the Prince spoke, the cloaked human considered his own words and potential questions alongside fears and doubts. His mind raced backward in time to his first taste of blood and resulting questions. It felt almost like a dream. Walking among the clouds. Roaring up at the blood moon mother. Being truly alive but without answers. What would he ask a being such as this that could provide them? What would he do?

It was the Ambassador’s companionship - his question about his friend - that gave Cassius direction. He would not succumb to fear, even if it meant his death. His companions deserved answers.

After a pause of two breaths, Cassius addressed the god by projecting his voice as he once did while teaching in a large amphitheater back at the academy. His tone was steady, precise, as if he was pacing in his usual fashion, even without his current mobility.

Tehra, god of growing, child of Kul-Vin, god of life, the Lotus. You know our movements and our purposes. You know of my past meeting with an armless Rak’Ari, a drakkarn touched by the Third, Danneish the greedy. Piglet from the Kingdom of the Pieu. And of this drakkarn’s visit by the Lotus.” Cassius paused for a moment, observing the god's reaction before continuing.

It was he that suggested I seek out Mayouni the Wise for answers, sitting beneath you now.” Cassius glanced down briefly at the old Ux as he continued. “You say for us to ask things of relevance. I ask you this. What am I? To use the drakkarn’s words, who is lording over me? And who or what is currently manifest as the blood moon in the night sky?

Last edited by Leviticus; Apr 10th, 2021 at 12:26 AM.
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Old Apr 9th, 2021, 11:06 PM
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In the presence of a god
Mephis looked at the scraps of armor that Brucian handed to him, briefly considering the idea of wrapping himself as Brucian and the three figures before him had. Instead, he let the pieces fall to the ground, choosing to leave his sense open. Something about the whispering sounds and the response of the plant creatures made him think that there was not intentional harm to be done. Cassius' discussion of Uxian temple rites confirmed his thoughts. Let us proceed I suppose, and make what we will of this situation."

As he crossed through the open threshold and found himself confronted with a towering...thing. Half plant, half something else with a mockery of what might be considered a face. The overall effect was unnerving, as was the voice that seemed to broadcast straight into his consciousness yet felt wholly alien as well. Questions? I have many. And if this thing knows all about us, why would it need to know what questions we have?

His mouth dry and putting all his effort into keeping his hooves firmly planted he still couldn't bring himself to meet the gaze of the thing before them. Instead he kept his eyes fixed squarely on the wrinkled Ux in front. "Are you the reason why this jungle grew in the center of the city? And if so, for what purpose?"
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