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  #46  
Old Jun 6th, 2022, 09:11 PM
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Ernest the Cat
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THE SPOON. THE BLASTED SPOON. This was all Ernest could think of as he sailed through the air, and again with a 9 quick!landed on all four of his feet . How could he have forgotten the spoon?! The whole point was to take the man's eyes, yes, but with a spoon of finest silver. It had to be the aging mind.

As the cat's four paws met the ground, he arched his back and hissed at the witch hunter. Ernest's sharp teeth caught the faintest glimmer of light, gleaming a warning to all who saw. He then darted across the room to where the spoon had fallen, next to Brie. Grabbing it in his mouth the cat slunk around the edge of the room, sly 9!attempting to melt into the periphery. The feeling of metal in his mouth was unfamiliar, but the old cat held the spoon steady regardless of its unpleasant taste.

Who can take it? Who can use this tool, now that the one with opposable thumbs has fallen?

The owl's wings flapped overhead. That was it!

"ANDY! Take the spoon! Take his eye! FINISH HIM!"

 


 
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  #47  
Old Jul 2nd, 2022, 02:09 AM
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GMBrie, sheltered safely under one of the auditorium seats, sees Rocco slide past, the soft gray-green flesh of his cherubic face squealing as it skips across the lacquered wood floor. The goblin comes to rest nearby, his body a limp and twisted heap. Brijida is close behind, slinking between the rows as quietly as possible. She whines softly when she reaches Rocco’s side, nuzzling his bloodied face. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but Brie detects the gentlest flare of Rocco’s nostrils in response to Brijida’s touch. If the goblin lives, and the Familiars can find a way to escape the lecture hall, their faithful fox will have to drag him to safety. In the meantime, there’s nothing more one rat can do for poor Rocco. Brie turns away, mounts the nearest chair, and scrambles up the rich upholstery to the crest of the seat’s high back.

“NYEHHH!” Furchtbar flails wildly at Zorandicus with both fist and saw. Luckily for the great owl, the Witch-Hunter’s toothy blade sails wide, and he suffers only a glancing punch to the wing. Andy soars in a wide arc toward the center of the auditorium, regaining his senses before wheeling around for another attack. Furchtbar whirls, spitting curses at the pale blur of Andy’s retreating form. His face twists into a demented grin. HA-HA! GO AHEAD AND RUN, YOU WINGED DEVIL!” With Andy out of reach, the man whips back around to face the others and is immediately met with another crackling spear of lightning from Brie’s wand. Furchtbar’s eyes go wide, and his maniac smile withers. The Witch-Hunter screams and ducks the bolt of arcane energy, barely evading the blast. It’s just the distraction Brie and his Not-So-Goodfellas need. In that moment, when Furchtbar is doubled over to shield himself, the half-dozen remaining rodents charge the man, leaping at his ankles, his shins, and then begin clawing their way up his legs. From his perch atop the seat, Brie squeaks his command: “Gnaw, gnaw, gnaw, gnaw, gnaw, gnaw, gnaw!" The rats set upon Furchtbar’s limbs like they’re the last meal they’ll ever eat.

The wiserats rip and tear, chew and shriek, until the human’s feet squelch in boots brimming with blood. Furchtbar kicks and thrashes, roaring with rage, but the rats are undeterred. Those that the Witch-Hunter is able to dislodge simply scramble to their feet, shake their gore-soaked heads, and charge again. The hit-squad’s frenzy is something more than simple professionalism, for every rodent that ekes out an existence in the shadows of man’s domain knows their cruel tyranny firsthand. Each of them has suffered and been made witness to the casual slaughter of their kin since time immemorial. The rats attack, are batted away, and attack again. They assail the Witch-Hunter with crazed abandon—a savagery to match that of their human overlords. Furchtbar wails in pain. Tears stream from his bulging eyes. The rats offer no mercy. This man may not have killed their mothers—Abigail is just a pretty name to the wiserats—but even so, this is personal. “NO! STOP! The Witch-Hunter’s cry is a high keening now, shrill with a new layer of emotion—fear. “NOOOOOO!” The cumulative effect of multiple lightning-blasts and a thousand vicious cuts is too great. “No-no-no-no-no!” He staggers, halting and unsteady, up the auditorium’s main aisle on stilt-like legs reduced to tatters and lurid, winking bone. The saw clatters noisily to the floor. Furchtbar’s knees buckle, his eyes flutter, and he stumbles. He sways in place for a moment, wearing a sad, faraway look. Finally, he simply tips sidelong over his ruined feet and falls. His charred mane, still smoldering, makes a gentle WHOOSH as his body rushes to meet the floor. His limbs crumple under him, and his head hits the ground with a sickening slap. His cracked and bleeding lips tremble as he struggles to form a word. His eyes are glassy and unfocused, drifting over the far distance. He sighs, breathing something that sounds like “Abigail,” then gurgles and lies still.

"ANDY! Take the spoon! Take his eye! FINISH HIM!" Ernest, materializing from the shadows, shouts at the owl overhead, his words muddled for the silver spoon clamped between his teeth, but clear enough. Raindrops on Roses bounds to the tomcat’s side, adding, “Take care, brother owl! Place the spoon but do not remove the eye! In accordance with the Lady Abigail’s instructions, the ritual must be performed by a creature that loved the Witch in life. It must be one of us who finishes the task. Place the spoon, my feathered cousin, and make room!” The hare goes on, addressing the rest of the Familiars: “Quickly, you must decide amongst yourselves who will do the deed. My special talents are better suited to enabling a hasty retreat.” The hare indicates the auditorium entrance with a tip of his head before bounding off.

Raindrops takes a few quick hops toward the door, where Stanley Schnurrhaar still lies sprawled half-in and half-out of the small goose-shaped opening, having fainted from the effort of providing so much last-minute exposition. “Finish the deed,” Raindrops calls back to his companions, “and I will clear the path. Stand back!” The hare closes his eyes and takes a deep, steadying breath. He shifts from paw to paw, clears his throat, and intones, “Barricade of wood and steel, bulwark made-of-man, fashioned to seal our fates and so appoint this human hall an eternal animal tomb—I command you, OPEN!” The man-sized door to the auditorium rattles in weak reply but remains securely shut. “Blast!” the hare curses, wrinkling his nose in frustration. “This stuporous magician will not be budged!” Raindrops on Roses begins thumping one of his hind legs nervously, mind racing. Suddenly, he stops fidgeting. “Ah-ha! Of course!” He hops closer to Stanley. “Second Mother prepared us for such an eventuality, with wisdom in the guise of parable!” He turns to the others, his excitement growing. “A kiss!” He exclaims. “Think of the Lady Witch Abigail’s favorite stories: In more than one—most, actually!—a helpless human maiden is roused from her hibernation by the power of a dashing hero’s passionate embrace.” The hare puffs his chest in a decidedly heroic manner. “Again, I say, stand clear!” Raindrops settles on all fours near the comatose warlock’s face. His pink tongue darts from between his teeth, smoothing the fur of his velveteen lips. He inches closer, whiskers dancing. His eyes gently drift closed. He leans forward and—ZZZZZIIIP! Stanley’s body shoots back through the tiny portal and disappears. Raindrops jumps back in surprise. “It worked!”

But not really. The moment that the venerable professor of Celestial Magicks and Mechanics is yanked free of the goose-door, a loathsome face pokes through the opening to take his place. Geoff, Furchtbar’s favorite human lackey, sneers at the grisly scene inside the lecture hall. Whether roused by the fracas in the theater or the din of the approaching canine horde, the Witch-Hunter’s men are awake and have taken up positions on the other side of the door. “My, my,” Geoff coos wickedly. “You fellers sure have been busy.” He winks. “Just a moment. Be right with you.” The face disappears and the animals can hear the shuffle of heavy boots and the sound of barking, growing to a crescendo. Outside Geoff hollers, “Get this door down before them damn dogs get up here!” A second later—BANG!—the door jumps violently on its hinges. BANG! Splinters fly. BANG! BANG-BANG-BANG!

The Familiars know: a few more good blows and the door will be open.

GM - OOCNo need to roll for removing the Witch-Hunter’s eyes.

PCs have one round of posts before Geoff and his men break down the door.

PCs have two rounds of posts before the dogs reach the auditorium.

Even with Furchtbar out of the picture, all actions should be considered DANGEROUS until further notice.

Because it’s been so long, and because many of the details were relayed via PM, I’ve included all the steps to the Witch’s resurrection ritual in a spoiler, below.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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  #48  
Old Jul 3rd, 2022, 07:00 AM
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Brie, Mūs Invictus
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The deed was done. The witch-hunter Ulrich von Furchtbar, terror of the forest around Whitebridge and Mother’s murderer, was no more, having been gnawed to death by rats. A fitting end, Brie found, and hoped that Beau would approve as well from her lofty seat among the clouds.

"We did it, my sweet", the dark rat whispered, "Now to bring back Mother..."

Cautiously approaching the hopefully deceased man in case he had one last trick to play, Brie took a good look at his eyes. Gone was the malice, the anger and the hatred in them, resembling pearls of hazy glass much more than the dread eyes that had looked upon Mother’s burning body without flinching.

"Ernest, I think that you should have this honor. Pluck out his eye - no! Pluck out both of them! He doesn’t need them anymore, not in the deepest hell where he is going to be spending eternity."

Brie didn’t really believe in hell, but in order for the witch-hunter to be punished the way he deserved, he wished that a place like this truly existed, a place where Ulrich von Furchtbar’s soul would be getting stabbed with pitchforks and burning for all time. Or maybe he would not stop being eaten by rats. It was this last thought that made Brie smile.

Whether or not the afterlife was just, the rat did not know. What he did know with certainty, however, was that this world wasn’t. No more proof was needed that the appearance of Geoff and the rest of Furchtbar’s men, accompanied by such intense barking that made the wooden seats of the auditorium, along with the stone walls, vibrate, seemingly in fear.

If they managed to hold the door even for a short time, it was possible that the fast approaching hounds would permanently take care of the humans, maddened as they were by the power of the whistle.

The whistle!

Indeed, the whistle could be the solution to this problem, just like the pied piper, accused for rat-genocide in several cities, towns and villages, had been the solution to the problems of Hamelin.

"Andy, Andy, the whistle! Take it and start blowing it, driving the hounds mad. Find a way out of here and lure them to the river. Petunia’s folk are traitors to animalkind, having sold their loyalty to humans in order to get the scraps that fall from their tables. Their sins can only be washed off by a good bath in the river - in the deepest part of the river, if you get my meaning. As for us…", Brie looked at the rats, staring back at him with self-confidence and pride, "we brace this door!"

"Raaaaaats!", cried Brie in his best imitation of Leonidas, king of an ancient city called Sparta, one of the tales Mother had read them time and again. "Three hundred Spartan men were able to stall an army of thousands upon thousands. I say that it takes only seven of us to keep this door closed! We are neither Spartans, nor men, but brave Whitebridge rats! We do not fear pain. We do not fear death. We do not fear humans. Drink some of the Plowman’s Helper Strength Potion and attack!"

As the Not-So-Goodfellas carried out the dark rat’s orders with excitement, gulping down the magical potion Zorandicus had brewed before arraying themselves behind the door to the auditorium, Brie brought Mother’s kind visage to his mind.

I need your help now, Mother. I need your help as I have never needed it before. It is important that the magicks work as I intend them to do. If not, lives could be lost. Innocent lives like Beau. Help me, Mother, help me!

With a sigh Brie concentrated on the energy around him, the light and the shadow and all the colors of the rainbow, before letting the magicks subtly slip underneath the door.

Will Brie’s crazy plan work? Will the Familiars get out of this alive? Will Abigail the Witch return to the world of the living?

There is only one way to find out.

Same rat-time, same rat-channel!



 


 
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  #49  
Old Jul 4th, 2022, 06:18 AM
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Zorandicus
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'Oh, for the love of- well, of myself,' Zorandicus grumbles, gently placing the silver spoon behind Furchtbar's right lower eyelid, requiring only a bit of force from any of his companions to remove the eyelid. 'Hold the spoon, blow the whistle- make up your minds!'

Truth be told, the anatomy of his talons was hardly any more suited to manipulating fine objects than his allies' paws and claws. Fortunately for them, Zorandicus' experience in brewing potions had prepared him for the task, far more than any of his winged brethren. He anxiously waited for his allies to act- to be frank, his goals were achieved. The witch hunter and his damnable pet were slain, and the only thing keeping him here was a promise to the muck-dwelling band of familiars. And yet, he felt as if he needed to see this endeavour to its end, wondering why he didn't just leave. Honor? Curiosity? Or had he actually taken a liking to the gathering of ambulant snacks? No- it must be the chance to see life-restoring magic in action. Yes, that must be it, he told himself.

Gesturing with one wing for a wiserat to bring him the whistle, Andy lowered his body to grasp the trinket with his beak. He resisted the urge to gulp down the rat, an urge easily spotted in his gaze, if the rat's fearful expression was anything to go by. It scurried off as soon as Andy had the thing in his beak. Hopefully, it would work. The black rat's plan was ingenious, Andy had to admit- he knew there was a reason he hadn't eaten Brie yet. But could his beak even work the whistle?

 

 
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Last edited by DemonSlayer; Jul 4th, 2022 at 06:24 AM.
  #50  
Old Jul 14th, 2022, 05:20 PM
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Ernest the Cat
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Ernest had never been the hero.

After losing his eye, he played it safe, hedged his bets, and made sure to stay clear of harm's way. He had lived a comfortable and pleasurable few years with the witch in the woods, surrounded by the other familiars. This return to the city, and now battle with who knows how many humans, was too much.

One could say, that Old Ernest was a bit of a scaredy cat. He was also in dire need of a nap.

His fear and anxieties typically came across as annoyance or aggression. But now, faced with the opportunity to save the day, he found it hard to act. Andy had already placed the spoon, he couldn't fail. And yet he remained frozen. His shoulders sunken to the floor, yellow eye darting between the owl, the door, and the rats in terror.

Surely, someone would remove the eyes soon. They couldn't possibly be depending on the old cat to do it himself, especially after forgetting about the spoon of finest silver that he, himself had retrieved? The one sweet Beau had risked her life for?

Ernest's eye stopped mid-scan, suddenly narrowing on fallen Furtchbar, who lay on the floor beneath him. The cat lost his fear and found strength in remembering the cause for their mission: the love of mother.

He headbutted the spoon, which made a grotesque squelch as the witch hunter's eye popped forward. It rolled from Furtchbar’s face and fell to the floor near the man’s neck. With assistance, Ernest was able to place the spoon behind the other eye, and freed it in the same manner. He gently gathered the spheres in his mouth, applying enough pressure to hold the delicate organs in place but not puncture them, a skill gained by helping mother to transport ill familiars, stray rodents or birds, without causing them harm.

He paused for a fraction of a second, eyeballs in mouth, wondering what to do with them now that he had them. The cat turned back, and saw Rocco’s bag slumped over. Ah! The blasted pear-a-shoots! Ernest had hoped to never see them again, but the scraps of fabric would be just what he needed to keep the eyes safe until the familiars could return to mother. Or, at the least, escape Geoff and whatever else was on the other side of the door.

One at a time, Ernest transferred the eyes into one of the shoots for safe keeping. The fabric was folded over on itself, and the cat picked up the makeshift pouch between his teeth. The brief and rare moment of bravery from Ernest ended abruptly, as the banging on the door grew louder. The cat jumped with the final blow, landing beneath a nearby chair in a shadow. He hissed at the others, in no particular direction. “We need to leave, now!"

 


 
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Last edited by NightCheese; Jul 14th, 2022 at 05:24 PM.
  #51  
Old Jul 25th, 2022, 11:10 AM
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“Heave!” Geoff bellows, throwing his weight against the backs of his men. “Heave, you worthless, no-good bastards!” His screams are barely audible over the cacophonous baying of the impending horde. “Get that door down!” Geoff can even smell the mongrel swarm now. A choking blast of hot canine breath and stinking fur rolls over the men—a rank harbinger of slobbery doom. Furchtbar’s lieutenant casts a nervous glance back down the hall, toward the main stairwell. A three-legged dachshund is the first to summit the steps. The tiny beast gains the hallway in a flying leap, lone forepaw thrashing against open air as it sails into view. “Bugger me running!” Geoff yelps. “They’re on us, fellers!” Unable to reach the door over his three companions, he begins pummeling the other lackeys instead, cursing them and the walking catalogues of venereal disease that spawned them. “GET! THIS! DOOR DOWN! To Geoff’s utter bewilderment, the men respond by transforming into a trio of fat, lazy-looking cats before his eyes. He stops flailing, the advancing hounds momentarily forgotten. He gapes at the men—kitties?—before him. They bat playfully at the door and whisk their tails, apparently unbothered by the sudden metamorphosis. “F-Fellers?” he stammers, breathless. A chromatic whirlpool of light swirls at Geoff’s feet, originating somewhere inside the lecture hall and seeping under the stubborn door. He blinks stupidly, mind racing. One of the man-sized cats turns to face Geoff. His yellow-green cat-eyes widen in shock. “Boss,” he mews. “You got some, uh, whiskers on your face, there.” The cat-henchman gestures with a fuzzy orange paw. Geoff sputters. He raises one of his own hands—slowly, cautiously—to eye-level. Toe beans! Geoff shrieks and shakes the paw-that-was-his-hand violently. The quick motion dispels the illusion, but only somewhat—Geoff can see flickers of his own human fingers beneath the illusory feline form. He curses loudly, but to the frothing dachshund barreling toward him the words sound like an irresistible, snoozy “Rrrraaaooo!” Geoff whirls, battering the other goons with renewed urgency and chanting, “DOOR-DOOR-DOOR-DAMNIT-DOOR!” At that moment, hot on the dachshund’s heels, a snapping, slavering tidal wave of dogs crests the stairs and crashes full-force into the hall.

On the opposite side of the door, inside the School for Fanciful Creature Studies, the wiserats are putting up the fight of their lives. Wensley licks a stray droplet of Plowman’s Helper from his snout and hollers, “Heave, you worthless, no-good bastards!” Bulging, potion-enhanced muscles ripple under the rodents’ greasy pelts as they strain against Geoff’s onslaught. The door holds. Bright, colorful spell-light dances under the entrance, casting long shadows over the carpeted floor of the auditorium’s main aisle. “HEAVE!” the rats all shout in reply. The humans hammer harder, their blows come faster and more frantically. The barking grows louder still—no longer a collection of individual, overlapping voices but a relentless, head-splitting roar. The wiserats bare their fangs and roar back, defiant. The door holds.

Zorandicus, meanwhile, glides overhead, whistle clamped firmly in his beak. The owl sucks in a deep breath and gives the instrument an experimental blast. Lacking lips to make a proper seal, the sound that Andy produces is breathy and thin, and the note warbles like wind through dead reeds. Based on the redoubled howling of the dogs outside, however, it’s loud enough to do the trick. Now, Andy wonders, how to lure the mutts away from the Familiars? The snowy bird beats another quick lap around the lecture hall, scouting for egress. The auditorium proper is dark and closed-off by design, entirely without windows or skylights. The only available exit is the goose-shaped door-within-a-door from which the animals entered. Then Zorandicus remembers the passage stage right, standing open since the Witch-Hunter took its door as a makeshift shield. He banks sharply and swoops past, discovering a storage room beyond, stuffed with crates and esoteric laboratory equipment. Ah-ha! There, at the back of the room, Andy spies a high window. The opening is little more than a slot in the stone wall, and just wide enough for the owl to slip through. Outside, he can see fat autumn clouds crawling over the silver of blue. Perhaps Zorandicus could fly out and circle back around, re-entering the academy elsewhere to draw the pack away from the main auditorium entrance? The warlock Stanley’s window is now shut, Andy recalls, so he would have to find another way back inside. Whatever the owl chooses, he knows he must move quickly, for his test with the whistle has only incensed the strays of Whitebridge, and they are very nearly upon his fellows.

While the Not-So-Goodfellas brace the door and Zorandicus prepares his distraction, Brijida worries over the mostly-dead Rocco. In spite of the fox’s earnest nuzzling, and Ernest’s fussing with the knapsack and pear-a-shoots, the poor creature refuses to wake. As the largest of the Familiars, Brijida knows it will fall on her to move the goblin. She snaps up a loose fold near the collar of his red-and-white-checkered disguise and tugs. “Ooh! Heavy!” Goblins are made of denser stuff than foxes, Brijida decides, or else Rocco has been secreting away stones in his pockets. Dragging him any distance, she realizes, would take an eternity. “We need to move fast. Fast-fast!” Brijida paces a tight circle around the goblin, panting softly as she formulates a new strategy. Suddenly she stops and springs straight up in a high, excited hop. “Yes!” she yips. “I have an idea! A good idea!” The vixen scoots close to Rocco, flattening herself alongside him. She noses her way under his tunic and pokes her head through the garment’s neck-hole, sharing the opening with the goblin. She flashes her teeth proudly and calls for assistance: “Ernest, Raindrops! Help-help! Pull the sleeves over my paws and roll goblin-friend onto my back!” The old tom, watching from his shadowy hiding-spot nearby, understands the plan immediately: Brijida will use Rocco’s shirt to harness the goblin between her shoulders, just as humans often use fabric to sling their young. “Quick, cat!” Brijida calls, “Once goblin-friend is safe and secure, be ready to run!”

GM - OOCThe wiserats have successfully barred the door. Try as they might, Geoff’s men will not be able to open it alone.

That said, the dogs will reach the door in one more round unless diverted. Thanks to Brie’s distract/confuse spell, Geoff’s men now look like fat, lazy cats, and the door will undoubtedly burst under the crush of the dogs’ collective advance.

If Andy decides to go through the goose-door, he must test Fierce DR9 to get past Geoff and his men unharmed. If, instead, he goes through the small window stage right, he must test Quick DR8 to get back inside before the dogs reach the Familiars. I see now that DemonSlayer already rolled a Quick 11, so I’ll call that a success using either of the aforementioned paths.

If Ernest comes to Brijida’s aid, he must test Fierce to help secure Rocco. I’ll roll for Raindrops on Roses and Brijida, and the group total must meet/exceed 24 (an average of DR8 per character). Brijida and RR together rolled 19. With Ernest’s current +5 modifier, he’ll succeed automatically unless he rolls a 1, his current DANGER level.Don’t roll a 1!

Assume most actions are still considered DANGEROUS.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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  #52  
Old Jul 26th, 2022, 04:32 AM
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Zorandicus
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Recognizing an escape when he sees one, Zorandicus flies up to the high window and, with effort, manages to push himself through the narrow opening, losing only a few of his white feathers in the process. The experience is harrowing- owls, certainly, were not built for such confined spaces. In his mind Zorandicus traveled back to the cage in which he grew up, a suffocating experience from he was only released to aid his "master" in his research. Alchemy, it seemed, had meant his freedom in more ways than one.

Finally Zorandicus wriggled through the window, relieved to see blue skies overhead once more. He took a moment to breathe in the clean air, to extend his wings and feel the cold wind brush his feathers. He made it! The great enemy lay dead, beside his accursed pet goose. A blow the muckdwellers would not soon recover from, to be sure! He was done, and he was victorious. There was nothing left to do except return to his roost, his throne, and lead his fellow avians in their assault against the muckdwellers.

And yet... The owl could not help but turn his head back to look behind. The rat, the fox, the cat and the goblin... And the newfound hare. He couldn't see them in the darkness, but he could hear their panicked cries. Theirs was a precarious position- the only way out barred by vengeful men and hungry hounds. For a moment, Andy entertained the thought of leaving them there. After all, their bargain had been upheld, and to put himself at further risk for the sake of muckdwelling familiars...

Grumbling, the owl sat off, clutching the magic flute in his beak. Maybe he was getting soft. Or maybe he was getting sentimental in his old age. Or maybe, he was just spiteful enough to deny the dogs their meal. Whatever the case, whatever he needed to tell himself, he couldn't leave the others to their ill fate. Even if they were muckdwellers.

Flying around the building, Zorandicus tried to spy another entrance- a window, a crack in the wall, a missing tile on the roof, anything! Then, he realized- the dogs had come to the academy from miles away- clearly, the whistle didn't need to be used within line of sight. Say what you will about the accursed canines, but their ears were keen indeed! Perhaps it was fitting, then, that their one advantage should lead them to their doom...

Zorandicus quickly flew to the academy's main square, from whence he would sound the whistle. And if that wouldn't work... Then perhaps he would have to take the path through the building as taken by the hounds, sound the whistle, and get out as fast as his wings could carry him!

 

 
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  #53  
Old Jul 27th, 2022, 02:38 AM
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Brie and the Lilliputians
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It was working. The magicks were working! Brie could almost feel Mother beside him, looking at him with her kind eyes, gently directing his paws and tail as he wove the arcane energies into different patterns of light and color.

"You are not like your many relatives back in Whitebridge, Brie." Mother smiled at him, clapping her hands in excitement at the rat’s illusion of a miniature ship sailing upon the waters of the garden pond. "You are an artist, my little artist!"

Yes, Mother, I am an artist and this is my masterpiece - for you!

What had started reluctantly with the rat turning mustaches into whiskers, flat human ears into catlike ones and making long, bushy tails grow between the legs of the witch hunter’s lackeys, soon turned into a riot of shapes and shades. Letting his imagination run wild, the rat added details to his catmen-creations, drawing from years of encounters with feline predators in his nightmares - bright green eyes and delicate noses, orange stripes and patches of black, white and grey fur, and finally soft paws hiding needle-sharp claws. When he finished, not even Ernest would have been able to tell Ulrich’s men apart from those of his kind. The magicks wouldn’t last long of course, but they didn’t need to. The hounds would be upon them any moment now.

The hounds…

It was only then that Brie became conscious of his plan’s fatal flaw - it completely relied upon Zorandicus drawing away the slobbering beasts at exactly the right moment. If the bird took just a little too long with blowing the whistle, or decided to not do so at all, deeming potential snacks unworthy of his aid, the Familiars would be at the mercy of the pack of raging dogs and nothing they could do would be enough to save them. Oh, how Brie wished he was large and powerful like a bear. Then he could have…

"EurekaYoricka!", cried out the rat, surprising even himself with his own ingenuity. He didn’t really know who this female Yorick was, but he had heard Mother repeatedly call upon her when she had a particularly good idea.

Size was the solution to the problem, but not in the way he had thought at first. Becoming larger would have simply made him more of a target. What the Familiars needed was the exact opposite!

"Wiserats, help me with Rocco’s bag!"

As one, the swarm of rats entered the goblin’s makeshift satchel, and with frightened squeaks and anxious glances at the thankfully still standing door, started rummaging through the potions and ointments within.

"Yes, that’s it!", cried out Brie, pointing at one of the salves with his magical wand. "And that one. This sticky goo is going to save all of us!"

The Not-so-Goodfellas looked suspiciously at the black rat, wondering if perhaps the magicks had robbed him of reason, but they complied nonetheless. After all, what was the alternative?

Opening the two containers, Brie grinned at his fellow Familiars.

"Ernest, Briji, Drops, carry Rocco over here. It’s transformation time! Wiserats, help me apply the salve on them."

The rodents Lady Ami Brand Diminishing Salvecovered their paws with the ointment and generously applied it to the cat, fox, hare and goblin by running all over their bodies. It wasn’t the most elegant of ways, but it was effective. Within moments the four of them shrunk to one quarter of their original size. Had the situation not been so critical, Brie would have gladly teased Ernest about now being no larger than a rat!

"Perfect! Sticky Goo Mountaineering PasteAnd now the other paste. Everyone, kindly dip your paws inside it like… that." *Splat!* "Yes! Now follow me. We don’t have much time."

Scurrying to the storeroom next to the auditorium, Brie excitedly looked at the assembled crates, some stacked in columns, one atop another, every bit as tall or taller than the “Impossibly High Stone Wall”, while others were meticulously placed in rows. They could easily be scaled to reach unimaginable heights, keeping the Familiars and their allies safe from the jaws of their enemies. With the help of the miraculous -and equally disgusting- Sticky Goo Mountaineering Paste everyone could now laugh in the face of barking and howling danger!

Or at least that was Brie’s hope.



 


 
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  #54  
Old Aug 9th, 2022, 11:04 AM
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Ernest the Cat
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Ernest watched Brijida position herself inside Rocco's garments. The cat's head tilted side to side in confusion. Finally, he realized her end goal, and got to work.

"Slide your paw, here!" Ernest laid the fabric with the witch hunter's eyes carefully beside them, and grabbed the end of the sleeve in his mouth. He backed up a few paces, pulling it taught and providing space for the arms to go through. When Brijida's front limb was successfully inserted, the cat nudged through the shirt with his head, pushing Rocco's limp hand to the sleeve opening. Finally, he felt it fall through.

"There it is! Wait, accckkgh! No, get back rats! What are you--?"

The old black cat flicked his paws and hunched his back, walking backwards. A low, guttural growl came from him. What were these rats doing to him?! Why, everyone knows that a cat spends at least one quarter of their day maintaining a sleek coat, and it takes 26-27%substantially[more time for a black cat. The sheen and shine comes from vigilant upkeep and regular maintenance!

But then, he saw the others shrink before them, and realized in the all of the commotion of Rocco's adjustments, Ernest had missed Brie's commands. "Oh FINE," he groaned, relaxed, and let the rats cover him in the shrinking salve.

Before he could protest, the cat shrunk to half of his size. If only the kitten size came with kitten energy.

The rats applied the salved to his feet and he prepared to scale the wall.

"Let's go!" The cat shouted to his fellow familiars. But something was much smaller, and cuter, in his voice. The indignity, indeed.

 


 
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Last edited by NightCheese; Aug 9th, 2022 at 11:05 AM.
  #55  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 02:24 AM
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GMThe auditorium door jumps and rattles like a living thing. Beyond, the barking reaches a deafening crescendo—a hurricane roar that swallows whole the desperate wails of Geoff and his men. In the supply room, the miniature Familiars and their mercenary escort mount the looming stack of crates leading to the window high above. The Sticky Goo works a treat, and the animals are able to scurry up the sheer wooden surface with a spider’s ease. At natural size the climb might be completed in a few quick strides, but in their shrunken state the ascent is a harrowing endeavor. Even with the mountaineering paste to hasten their passage, the Familiars are only halfway up when the lecture hall door comes crashing down.

With a horrible shriek of metal-on-wood, the door’s hinges rip free of the jamb and the last fortification between the Familiars and the slavering horde falls. Geoff and the other lackeys-turned-kitties tumble screaming into the auditorium, heaved forward by the mad crush of countless canine bodies. A surge of dogs—big, small, mangy, coiffed, collared, and stray—crashes over the woeful bastards and they disappear from sight. Undeterred, the dogs charge forward, their panting ranks filling the room from wall-to-wall in a matter of a few scant heartbeats. Their paws pound against the floor, shaking the Volothamp building to its foundations. They topple chairs and rip up great swaths of carpeting, consuming the lecture hall like a single, insatiable organism—a scourge of gnashing fangs and lashing tails. The Familiars climb on, scrambling upward in a furious vertical sprint toward the narrow blade of daylight and promise of salvation.

Ernest is the first to reach the window, propelled by an ancient feline impulse so potent that even at one-quarter-size and half-blind the world-weary tom streaks past his companions like an obsidian blur. Brijida is next, with a comatose Rocco lashed securely to her back, urged forward by Raindrops on Roses and the remaining wiserats. Brie has just gained the topmost crate when the first dogs come barreling into the storage closet. In another second, the place is swarming. The air goes instantly rank with hot canine exhalations. The sound is extraordinary—Brie no longer recognizes it as barking at all, but instead as an all-consuming, agonizing whine. The tower of boxes teeters perilously. Brie lunges for the window as the crates explode in a hail of splinters beneath his paws, crushed by the swell of the mongrel multitude. The black rat somersaults through cool air, skidding to a rough stop at his companions’ feet on the slate roof outside the window.

A black, wet nose follows close behind. The flare of the beast’s nostrils alone is enough to convey its bloodthirsty delirium. The dog crams its snout into the slender opening, peeling back its prodigious jowls to reveal a set of moldy, clacking teeth. The dog’s head is far too large to fit through the window, and it withdraws. The Familiars breathe a collective sigh of relief, then—CRAAACK! The animals shield their eyes against a spray of mortar. CRACK! The dog—a mastiff, by the apricot coloring—smashes its colossal skull repeatedly against the window. CRACK! The brickwork around the window’s edge begins to crumble. CRAA-AAACK! The dog’s head is through. The mutt works its powerful shoulders against the failing masonry. It snaps its jaws at the Familiars, flinging foamy threads of slobber every which way. Then, suddenly, the beast simply stops. It tilts its great head to the side, listening intently. Then—and entirely without ceremony—the mastiff shrugs itself back inside and is gone. The clamor within the lecture hall also recedes, becoming quieter and more distant. When Wensley ventures a quick peek back inside, he sees the auditorium is deserted, save an oily smear near the entrance, where Geoff and his men had fallen.

The Familiars take stock of their surroundings. They find themselves atop one of the many shallow-pitched roofs of the Volothamp building, with a clear view of the other academy schools, outbuildings, and grounds arrayed below. Soon enough, they spy what’s turned the canis familiaris tide: Zorandicus is winging circles around the college’s main plaza, blowing the whistle to redirect the dogs. The snowy owl has the creatures whipped into in a churning whirlpool, running in an endless frenzied circle. From their high vantage, the Familiars can see beyond the School for the Magically Adept as well. The last of the village fire is out, and the Whitebridge Dairy Festival looks to be back in full swing. Humans crowd the streets, apparently content to simply bar the academy gates and seal the nuisance inside until they’ve concluded their merrymaking. A fresh batch of guards mill smartly about the academy perimeter. In the far distance, Sweetbriar Forest glows warm and welcoming, an autumnal patchwork of reds and yellows. Despite the hounds’ persistent baying, the Familiars can even hear the hissing of the forest’s leaves, beckoning them homeward.
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[GM] The Witch is Dead, our One-Page RPG about adorable woodland creatures on a quest for bloody vengeance, is now complete. The witch is dead, long live the witch!

Last edited by Mallothi; Aug 19th, 2022 at 03:06 AM.
  #56  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 02:34 AM
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CHAPTER 4 IS NOW CLOSED.

Please proceed to Conclusion: Homeward Bound
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[GM] The Witch is Dead, our One-Page RPG about adorable woodland creatures on a quest for bloody vengeance, is now complete. The witch is dead, long live the witch!

Last edited by Mallothi; Aug 30th, 2022 at 11:04 PM.
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