Game Thread Chapter 5: Warlocks and Wizards, Elections and Lizards - Page 13 - RPG Crossing
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  #181  
Old Jul 13th, 2022, 06:14 AM
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Ruined Lily Market
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Bingle, after you talk to Fela, after she laughs, it's better. It’s nice. The swamp gnomes sling up water resistant hammocks in the trees that can hold them, the ones less burned, at the edges. They roll into them, and they look like cocoons or branches and leaves. Gnomes? What gnomes? No gnomes here at all. You JUST saw that was a gnome there and now it is just a piece of tree. Does it make you homesick? To know they are here but erased by quiet and colors and stripes and still?

The night gets very dark, but you have good gnomish eyes for guarding. Now that Fela laughed, you can tell Falco you are a Warlock. Easy! The whole market is dark and quiet and ruined, less scary because the power is gone. These beings that seemed so dangerous are bruned pu and cyring. The dryads sleep and and the nightwind sighs in their ashy leaves, very sad. What is this Market with no Bramble? A void. What will come and fill it? Nothing, tonight.

If you pop into Halran, who is puffed for warm on a branch above you, you see and feel Pondweed snuggled by your bird-body making wet, flappy snore noises. When you look at him through your eyes, she isn't there.

You open your coin and read. Pim is low. Maybe the news of your death? Or? He miscounts words and it cuts off. His ink is faded into a sad poo-of-babies color that is not a color like when it is red for lies or blue for secrets. This is just like if it faded. You can't answer until dawn, if you even want to; the pen is empty.

Then it is morning. Fairies, gnomes, dryads, ruin, sad, heal, as Fiz bouncing, anxious, wanting to hug you because you are soon to leave but only bouncing, foot foot foot. Hlallo Hlallo. I say godobey. Do you wnat the Toy house? He holds it out. What now?

Falco, you have huffed a lily, so you can see a second shift of the little froggets has come. This lot also suffers and cleans and chatters dourly while the first shift is gone, or snoozes in abandoned little heaps on Lilypads. Even asleep, they are each a faint light source that makes the ruined market a ghostly green. Out past it—movement. A meat willow? It seems too small, or perhaps it is too far. There is movement though---night somethings, barely riffling the leaves. No one from the market seems to care. If the Swamp Gnomes or Dryads or Fae set a watch, you don't see it. Is this trust in a security that is no longer here? Whatever is out there does not breach the edges. It passes on.

After Bingle falls asleep, Fiz comes and sits with you. He knows that soon you will get up and eat more salad and leave, and he will stay here. He speaks druidic with you. It is strange for him to know you are going. He peers around you at Bingle, who gave him cnady and bossed him. You dawned like a big sun for him, and now here he is back in his life. He is happy, so happy--MAM DA A BORTHER all his people! But when you go, it will be a loss. You think it is easier for him to blat this at you and Bingle than at Tumble. He keeps peeping over at her. He saw her as a safety, as a Mam-like thing. He sees you as a teacher. A mentor. You are meant to grow out of mentors and into your next one --- but, mentors matter. You know this so well, how hard it is to lose one

left-aligned image
In the morning your lily has worn off. You see a ruined pond stretching far in all directions. Where now?

Fela, are you a reader? Do you love the songs after a hard day's training and you go for a cold ale with the other Watchers? There is no other explanation for all the mis-information that rushes to your head when you turn your mind to dragons.

This is probably Finn’s fault. He knows 187 songs about dragon fights. Many end badly for the heroes, and they are full of details that are exciting: drama, not science. In some songs, Greens don’t fly, or the young ones don’t? Or---they breathe water that does bludgeoning damage, like a blast of force, in some songs, poison or black flame in others. Are they are invisible when wet? One song said so, emphatically, and these memories of tall tales fight with your textbooks.

After Bingle and Falco have an uneventful watch, the idea seems to get dropped. You look after Maude, who is asleep on her feet, practically, and keep a half-hearted eye on the perimeter. You consider the Bird of the Cold Market. You want your blur, and so you touch the stone and call her.

There is static, A pause. In it, in this silence, you realize Slurry is trying to place you. New Stone, Who dis. Um, FAIRY! This is the NOBLE PALADIN, scion of the WATCHERS who let you out of the HAG JAR and BLASTED YOU ACROSS THE ROOM when you KISSED HER?

In this dreadful pause, you understand that this Fairy didn’t remove anything. She hasn’t thought of you for a breath since you left, she has not been policing you, she has no idea that you purposefully let pods escape, she has no idea where you are at all. She is starting up a market; she must be making deals like this every day, casting nets for what she needs out on the cold water.

At a certain point it clicks for her. Oh, this is that WATCHER. Her tone as she answers is not at all defensive. More curious, interested: I can’t remove it from here. Only you, and by action, not doubt or thought. Sure, sure, come on back; We’ll make out again.

This keeps happening in Saltmarsh and Fae places (though you are noticed and remembered for your deeds---Nyssa, for example.) You are used to be being kind of a big deal based on who you are, not what you do, and in Glotten you were a huge deaL. Now you bang into the certainty that the world is huge and you are a speck... It's enraging, but by the time you wake up in the morning, you have found that it is also comforting. Whatever marked you is much bigger than Slurry-Bird! If that Bird so seldom thinks of you---maybe this Big Thing will never remember you or come for you. Does it occUr to you that, the more you do Big Hero S***, the more things will remember you? Would it matter if you did? you are a Springer, called by Saliber to Big Hero S***...

right-aligned image
Tumble, Spatterdock, who huffed and flolloped and slumped (it is hard to slump and flollop while flying but she has had yeeeeeeears of practice, and she manages it) toward the center (near where Bingle said the rift was) to bloop under the water and get the Live Eye, now flies slowly off again, little floppy frog feet dragging through the scum-and-ash coated top water, leaving tragic little wakes, to bloop down in the same place, then finally returns with agonizing slowness. She is toting a second scroll that weighs 100 pounds, if her posture can be trusted. But no, like the first one, it weighs about an ounce when she presents it to you with a soggy Flourish.

You use your Ki, and Tifapine perks with interest. How--- That’s interesting. How are you doing that? She is working on the Lily roots, the pads and flowers all so blasted that any long term fix must begin here. As you heal roots with her, you hear low whispery notes, slow and scratchy in your head, rising from the bottom. You are still tirppign paltn blals! Are the lily-plants singing? Yes:

O Tifapine, O Tumble, did you ever lose a lover to the water?
Did you ever lose your love to mud and silt?
Did you give a child or give a brother? To the roots. To the roots. To be unbuilt.
Dear and quiet ladies in your last years, do you long for that lost one still, my daughters?

See the face of your beloved gone a-drifting, drifting down
To feed us, to feed us. O, how sweet it is to drown.

O ax Tmubel, O ax Tifapine, do not say, do not say your love was wasted.
It was eaten, eaten, eaten, o’er a thousand, thousand hours
Press your faces, press your faces, press so deep into the flowers.
Here your love is. Here we hold it. We have tasted, tasted, tasted.

See the dear face gone a drifting, drifting, drifting down
To feed us, O to feed us, O how sweet it is to drown.


She looks to you and rolls her eyes. Frist, I resnet the “lsat yeasr” siht, nad Laso, DEAR NAD QIUET!? says Tifapine. Much like you, she has centuries ahead of her. Morbid ****s, these lilies, sometimes. She is flushed, a little irked, but she has shucked off the effect. You ok? Hrad on a preson woh sepask to palnst to be hgih on teh lilies if they aret’n used to it...

You tell the lilies a story. Or you don't. You knit, or watch or sleep and all the plants shut up. In the morning, as dawn breaks, the little number on your scroll reads: 4

OOCFRIENDS it is dawn! By the end of this round, I’d love to know your destination and the route you take.

bothers, make a DC 16 wisdom save against the Lily Song. GNOME gives you adv. If you fail, Tumble must tell the avid, curious lilies of a loss she suffered. Tifapine and the lilies will hear, possibly dryads, you are not sure. This is not a deal. Tumble will remember the person or item she lost, the event she relates, and the telling the story.
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Last edited by Fillyjonk; Jul 13th, 2022 at 06:33 AM.
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  #182  
Old Jul 14th, 2022, 12:13 AM
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A journey ends as th' day begins
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It were a pleasant night as far as nights in th' swamp went. The mosquitos left 'im alone, mostly, an' whatever-were-out-there stayed out jus' beyond th' leaves 'n' vines. Bingle sat with 'im fer a bit an' said she were a warlock now. Falco don't know th' exact details o' it but he assumed it were how she got herself outta that dagger so, it can't be that bad. "Well, t' be true I were gettin' eaten by that tree th' whole fight so I didn't see much. I'm sure ye did somethin' amazin' though. Look, I don't care if'n ye turn 'nto a carnivorous wereotter, Yer always gonna be me friend. So if bein' a warlock got ye back then it were worth it."

Later Fiz came an' sat by 'im too. It felt odd knowin' that they finally got 'im home an' would be sayin' goodbye. Th' young druid felt like a lil brother t' Falco now an' he would miss 'im. But, he were glad they found 'is people an' proud o' how far the young druid had come in such a short time. He told 'im as much while they looked out at th' swamp. "Folk like us, Fiz, are like shootin' stars in th' night sky. We come an' light it up fer a time before we disappear. But, if'n ye keep watch, they come burnin' through again. We each have our own big destinies an' if'n we stayed t'gether too long, one o' us would get pulled off course. Besides," he patted 'is moon sickle, "I'm one o' ye now. When we find ye again, it'll be yer turn t' teach me somethin'."

Th' rest o' th' night went fast an' soon, th' dark greens faded t' light as th' sun rose above th' swamps. There were salads t' be had along with talk o' destinies an' dragons. It seemed like gettin' rid o' th' dragon would help th' lizards an', by proxy, Saltmarsh. Plus, a share o' a dragon hoard could buy a nice boat maybe. So, that was a thing. Also, th' ship with Anders' betrothed would be in soon. The destinies was somewhere jus' waitin' t' be found apparently so whatever path they took should lead t' one.

"I s'pose we should at least visit that temple an' see what we be up against with th' dragon. We got th' map, after all. We can offer news o' Shellycoat an' th' open council seats. After that, I'd like t' get back t' town fer th' market an' before Kreb can call in all 'is favors. If'n I can get 'im mad enough t' attack me in public, maybe we can lock 'im up an' be done with 'im without weakenin' th' wards any further." Before they left, Falco looked Mary over an' scratched all th' spots she couldn't get to.

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Last edited by AnotherDragoon; Jul 15th, 2022 at 10:58 PM.
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  #183  
Old Jul 14th, 2022, 08:26 AM
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Fela, turn and face the strange (ch-ch-changes?)
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Slurrybird's answer is insolent and infuriating. 'We'll make out again.' As if. It made her feel for Cypress all over again; if she was going to be teased and taunted by a fey servant, she'd take the dryad over the sweary bird-thing any day.

It takes her a while to get to sleep, pondering the "removing it by action" bit -- she'd been looking after a wounded and scared Maude. It seemed unfair that doing that instead of chasing after seeds should constitute an action worthy of breaking the contract. Yet she can't escape a pang of guilt. There'd been an intention behind it. You can't change who you are. Bingle could be both Good and a Warlock, why couldn't Fela be Good and Fey-kissed? The teleporting was fun and useful and she could control it on her own, sometimes -- maybe she could learn to do that with the charm on her own, too, without the blur.

But it all seemed rather tentative. Here, in the middle of the marsh, she could believe it. Falco, Tumble, Bingle -- she didn't feel judged by them. But it was hard to imagine returning to her world. Would your average Watcher accept her fey gifts? Her Father had already sent her away for it. She missed her old life, but on the other hand, sitting at home, wouldn't have had the opportunity to do so much Big Hero S***, probably wouldn't have her Springer sword waiting for collection...

You can't change who you are. But she was changing.

She tosses and turns while wrestling with these contradictions, as if physically taking one perspective and then the other, until the exhaustion of a long day's travel finally wins out against her overactive mind.




In the morning, Falco proposes heading toward the dragon née crocodile. "We are close, and I do want to wipe that thing away...but it feels like bad tactics knowingly approaching an overwhelming foe. But Cypress did say this Cleiophane would talk, and armies need scouts. Although, Saltmarsh feels precariously balanced enough right now, with plots to remove the wards, the lizards rising up, the King wanting to make it respectable...if we share any information with Cleiophane, no matter how small, we'd be encouraging him to start messing with it as well. Can we somehow convince him it's important things stay balanced?" Her head hurts pondering this already, and she felt a wave of respect for her father, balancing weighty questions like this constantly.

"Let's just be careful not to cause a scene with the Lizards. I've had Gellan pissed off enough with me already, thank you."


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  #184  
Old Jul 14th, 2022, 10:29 AM
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Bingle Wildwander, Forest Gnome Wizard/Warlock
right-aligned image
Bingle hears what she wants to hear.

1. "Oh, Bingle. Of course you're good! You're a great wizard and a great friend."
2. "You're always gonna be me friend."
3. "CARNIVOROUS WEREOTTER" <-- what the freakity froop!?

She skips blithely over Fela's "We can get your soul back." Because it hadn't occurred to her that this was something people did. Get their souls back. It wasn't in the language of the contract she signed with Mr. Perpetu. It wasn't in any of the stories. Malrowe was a gnome. Goethe was not.In all the stories you get dragged off to hell. But these troubling words slip pleasantly from her mind, because it doesn't matter. She's good. Fela and Doctor Pillows, who comprise as diverse a jury as it may be possible to collect on all planes, said so.

With these reassurances and this fascinating visual to turn over in her mind, sleep should be easy. But then she reads the Pim coin. His colors are dull. His words flat. She feels sick and sorry for him. Some people don't handle prisons well, and not everyone can become a perfectly fine warlock and get themselves out of prisons because they never give up. Maybe Pim is thinking of lying down in a box right now. Maybe hurling himself into a black pit. This cannot be because Bingle is going to rescue him because she happened along.

She realizes two things: First, that saving Pim is urgent. Second, that she needs some hlep.

As soon as dawn comes, and the sparrows and blackbirds appear in the trees that have been restored, to hesitantly tweedle and then confidently twoodle in the blasted swamp, she scribbles back:


Then it's time to say goodbye to the Swamp Gnomes, and Fiz has his little moment, offering her some toy hosue, which is stupid. Who would even want that. Literally who.

"Keep it," she says. "Godobey." This is all nothing to get excited about. It's not like she's going to add a puddle of urine to their symbols. But, the child continues to yearn and make his feet go up and down, squishing the moss annoyingly. She straightens up his kilt for him and refastens the pins briskly. She firmly shakes his hand but holds onto it for an extra minute and draws him in. Okay, this is not a hug, okay? It's a secret being told. This is the time to put her aversion to Fiz's essential qualities aside and understand that saving Pim is more important than not dragging your limbs all over other people who smell like the newt side of a river rock. "Fiz," she says quietly. "I'm looking for a gnome named Pim who is in prison behind a door with some dwarves guarding him. If you know of any such person, or run into him in your incomprehensibly nomadic lifestyle, please help him. This is a... I'm not sure whether this is a secret or not." It was a secret, and now it's not. She lets it go.

When they are on the way to the dragon, she chooses to walk beside Tumble in the frens and shurbs. With the coin in her hand, she makes it even less of a secret by telling Tumble all about Pim. As she's telling, she feels a little embarrassed that she didn't tell before. Those brown letters. That lack of a count. Pim had been so pert and funny, with games and jokes. Now so drab. Bingle is worried! She tells Tumble everything she can think of to tell and shows the coin. She might be in trouble for this. But if Tumble isn't too mad, she'll ask: "What do you think? What do you think he is? Do you think Pim is a gnome?"



ۜ\(סּںסּَ` )/ۜ
 


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  #185  
Old Jul 14th, 2022, 04:45 PM
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Tumble
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Artist credit: Aurore Folny (© Black Book Editions)

Tumble can't explain to Tifapine how the healing works because she doesn't understand it herself. And even though she really wants it to be magic, under questioning, she's forced to admit that it isn't. "I confess that it is a mystery. It does not work the way that ax Bingle or ax Fela or ax Falco tell me that magic does. It comes from somewhere else." And it's a balance - sometimes heal, sometimes harm. A visceral thing. Maybe one day she'll understand. For now, the lilies are trying to extract a story from her, as well as the healing, and for the first time in a long while, Tumble laughs out loud. Not her sly smirk or her calculating disingenuous smile or a polite titter hidden behind the hand, but a real laugh, as if the Lilies sang a comedy instead of a tragedy.

"Thank you," she tells Tifapine. "I am alright. They have chosen the wrong one to beg for a tale of a lover, or of a child. This is not how I have lived my life. Other monks do, sometimes, but never Tumble." If the lilies want a tale of romance and loss, they'd be better to ask someone like Falco, who spends his life stoking the kinds of fires that have never, ever warmed Tumble. Oh, there's been loss, sure, in all these years there's been a lot of that, but-- the twin edifices of Distance and Duty have mineralised themselves inside Tumble's heart, making it as small and sharp and hard as a diamond. There's no room for sentimental softness. Speaking of which--

"It is tmie for us to levae, ax Fiz." This is resolutely not a sad parting. This is what they were working towards, a balance has been restored, and something has been made right. "You were coruagoues. Thnak you fro your hlep -- if it were nto fro you, prehaps tehre wolud be no mroe Tumble. You msut shwo your borther to be barve too. As the lodest, taht is your role, and your pirvelege." This is largely theoretical, since although Tumble was the oldest in her family, she was packed off to Narngeldem before she could model any kind of behaviour for anyone beyond ostentatious tantrumming, but it sounds like the sort of thing she should say, in an unsentimental way-- "We wlil be aronud Slatmarsh for a wilhe. Be craeful of priates, and if you need our hlep, fnid a way to sned a mesasge and we wlil come."



Off to the dragon lake, planning along the way. "I agree with ax Fela. Cypress has told us that this Cleiophane is eager for politics - such an interest is always dangerous. We may share more than we intended to if we offer information about shifting power balances around Saltmarsh, and it would be better to give nothing away.

This creature is local to this area, and may be able to use knowledge gained from us in ways that are both dangerous and difficult for we strangers to predict. We must be cautious."


Cleiophane, Tumble thinks, can be treated much like any other politician, or Per, or royal. All of them grifting. All of them grasping. All of them grimly clawing their way to power and influence, scratch by bloody scratch. It's a relief to fall behind for a bit and pretend to look for mushrooms with Bingle instead. She recognises the coin right away.

"The coin that we could not identify! It was magic all along. That is interesting." She's not in the least bit angry about the secret. Who doesn't have those? "I suppose that your friend Pim could be a gnome, though he could as easily be like ax Mags, who is not but speaks the language all the same, or perhaps the coin is able to translate. Unless we find your friend, we cannot know." One thing is a bit strange, though. "I wonder why Pim preferred to play a game, instead of telling you where he was. Wherever this prison is, he must feel safe inside it, or he would have prioritised escape over friendship. That is encouraging, at least, is it not?"

It's not long before Fela gets bored of going at gnome speed, and Tumble (eventually) relents under her onslaught of glares and huffs and agrees to get back on the stupid horse. Hopefully they'll finish with the stupid dragon soon so they can get back to stupid Saltmarsh for some stupid ginger candies.



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OOC: this coin and the mysterious entity contained within sounds totally legit and not at all like a trap to me

 

 

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  #186  
Old Jul 15th, 2022, 10:34 AM
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Goodbye
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Tumble, you and Tifapine gnome off the Lily song with little effort, you amused and smug, but this person who strikes you as resolute and lowkey is---flustered? Once both of you have slipped the flowery noose, she regains what seems to be characteristic equanimity and firmly changes the subject.

She tries your movements to zero effect. Ki is as strange to this Swamp Gnomes as magic is to you. We have other ways. Do your people use these methods, also? She points out that many of the gnomes with unrolled leather kits of herbs, splints, and unguents are working to uncrumple bee wings and smooth away the pain of scalded frogs. Want me to put one together for you? Your party rescued Fiz; it will please them all for you to have one.

Fela, your order studies the Fae with a single motivator: abnegation. They thwart, avoid, and push back from the routes. They even work hard to not learn Sylvan, so their minds stay uncorrupted.

Through no fault of your own, strange Fae power got in you. This got you sent away like something tainted, and the upshot of that is, not only is it IN you, you are soaking in it. You are beginning to see this might you give an edge.

Your blur is gone, but these were your terms, and it's good they held. You were anxious she would keep a hold on you (Fair), so you wanted it to be easy to remove; all you had to do was stop actively pursuing her goals. The Fae reach and grasp---but once set, it truly seems their deals go off without their notice or choice. This is useful intelligence that could be used against them, and yet NO ONE else in your order knows. All you learned in Watcher class was: NEVER NEVER NEVER DEAL.

Another thing. That cold Bird or Bramble could kill you, you suspect easily, but they are canny opportunists and they won't. You are rich farmland, a fruitful mine, and they will look for ways to plant a flag. A final insight: This wholesale ruin here was a sneeze of irked power; Archfey are not like Bramble and Slurry, those capitalists, they are royalty, which in your experience means peppery and puffed. If you do go to the Brineweave, you, the only noble here, understand you will be stepping into a Court; there will be rules and manners. Best if you know some of 'em, before you take that door...

Falco, it is not hard for Fiz to let you go, because he is sure he will see you again. You know better. Swimmers think they battle waves, ship passengers think they spar with oceans. Sailors know each wave is a force called by the cosmos; there are ways to ask and finagle, you set your sails, but it is always a gamble, and any day they like, the waves can take you. You and Tumble both know will is powerful---but gravity wins.

Fiz hugs you, tight, tight, and you tell him none of this. He is too little to need to know how big the world is. Also? You are Hin, and that means OPTIMIST. Meh, probably you will see him again! Off you go.

right-aligned image
Bingle. You.... say your own goodbyes to Fiz. Then you offer Pim reassurance! YOU WILL FIND THE DOOR! PIM is held by Bad Dwarves of Bad Moradin. Who is Moradin. Literally who. No one cares, you will wizard ‘em and if they are not reasonable, you’ll warlock ‘em, and get PIM out.

Tumble, you are not at all sentimental, but Fiz---well. First, he is very formal and does the thing he has seen Bingle do, correctly. Hands behind back. Stiff bow. Then he breaks and lurches at you and clutches your leg and wets you with snot and tears (this is the MOISTEST child!) and professes his love forever. Oh, dear. He wants to know if you will be too sad without him and offers Mikkelpig to keep you company because now he has the Borther back and also House Junior. Finally his mother Porpy peels him away and thanks you and the whole group for bringing him back to them. Real allies here. This is useful.


On the Road Party, off you go. Only Tumble is really paying attention, and she sees nothing out of the ordinary as she and Bingle chat and gnome along in that pokey OH LOOK A MUSHROOM A BUG A FREN A HOLE A TURTLE way that makes the horses feel like they should eat gorse through their bits.

Fela: Your riding masters all said this is bad for the tack, and bad for the horse’s discipline. Time to work, time to eat, time to play. What horses need is structure, so they know that they can trust you.

Falco: This seems fine.

right-aligned image
Bingle, you tell you tell yet another secret to TUMBLE and get good response! You are a secret Warlock who has secret trapped friends, and no one gives you any **** about it. Bongle would put such a coin in a hollow rock and put the rock into the deepest pond and make MMP! NRP! BRRRB! noises over you if you ever tried to speak of it. Bongle hates for things to be mysterious! But Tumble has good insight: Why is Pim asking to play games? Why not TELL?

Eventually (after an hour, say) Fela cannot take it. It will be take 6 or 7 hours just to reach the NW corner of Dragon Lake, at this rate, much less the temple, and she makes big nostrils and opines loudly that if everyone just GOT ON HORSES you could cut that in HALF! Does no one want to go to market???

Tumble you are --- amenable? Well. Perhaps too strong a word. But as Fela alights to lift you on Maude and Bingle on Mary, Tifapine materializes from she crit on stealth and you ALL suspect you would never have known she was with you at all unless things went bad wrong with the dragonliterally right beside you in a brown and green mottled cloak. She says, Peh, I can’t keep up if you’re going to go on horseback. Fiz is one of my two favorite nephews, so I’ll do my best to keep the bulk of your blood inside your bodies if you really intend to parley with that dragon. He’ll let you in his territory. Hells, he’ll serve you bloody tea—it’s the leaving after that gets tricky.

Bingle, Tifapine has been following so stealthily none of you much as suspected. But that is too gnomey to surprise you. What surprises you is that she has a shield (rusty) and a breastplate (moldy) both emblazoned with a verrrry familiar symbol on it. The RACCOON! OF! BAERVAN WILDWANDERER! Here is a parent-aged person—well, the PROPER age parents of you should be, if you hadn’t been stuck for twice a hundred years in stone and helliknives---who is also a cleric of the very same exact correct god of your own personal father and village and you!

Tifapine is a cleric who gets a very flat mouth if you say the word Cleric. I’m a druid, she’ll say shortly while holding her rusted shield emblazoned with your god's holy symbol and wearing her moldy cleric breastplate and her cracked unpolished cleric mace, looking for all the world like a gnome who is juuuuust about to cast the Blessing of the Wildwanderer upon you!

Falco, she ducks; Fela and scrambles lithely up a cypress root and swings up onto Mary behind you and Bingle. Your horse is still less taxed than Maude, toting Fela in Armor and her second stiff unhappy passenger. Tifapine rides easy, moving with the horse.

You follow the road. The map is good. Around the time that you are feeling second-breakfasty or wanting some elevenses, Tifapine will say, This is the edge of his territory. What’s the plan?

Party, what is the plan?

OOCHere is Tifapine’s character sheet. She has all her spell slots and also default actions, but I prefer that you tell her what you want. She will go along with your wishes and cast what you ask for---unless she feels it is suicide, in which case she will usefully say so.

bothers add a healing kit---these guys would have millions of them and your rep with them is high.
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 12:19 PM
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Bingle Wildwander, Forest Gnome Wizard/Warlock
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Something trerbile happens while she is explaining Pim to Tumble. When Tumble muses about why doesn't Pim just tell her about it? Why play games? Bingle realizes she has been playing a little bit of a game too. She thinks back over the messages that have been sent, and how she called herself BB and then drew a little bee as a symbol of her name. And then the trerbile tohught hits her: SHE NEVER TOLD PIM HER NAME. But here it is on this last message, the brown sour one, plain as day: Bingle.

"Tumble," she says quietly. "I never told him my name. What does it mean. Who is he Tumble?"

Yes, Tumble examined this coin with her before. It came from her village in the weird collection the dopey gnomes put together for her trip. They couldn't make anything of it until she went to wash it and bubbles came out. Then she decided (wrong!) to keep it a secret (shameful!) and now she has opened up some kind of channel (stupid!) to be seen and for her friends to be seen. She considers throwing the coin down into the swamp and stomping it under her heel. Pim is a tricker! Pim is bad! And she just told him he was good. Bingle feels cold and hroribel inside. And very worried.

"Tumble, what should I do?" she wonders.

For now she puts the coin back in her pocket, and along with the Wildwanderer cleric, she mounts up on the horse. Where she starts trying out her Mask of Many Faces on the lizard disguise. Bingle has never seen the lizards. Maybe only Falco and Tumble have. Whichever one will look at her each time she says, "This one?" she will ask for input and make adjustments to her disguise, until it comes closer and better. Even if she has to work through Mocking Spongebob Meme through Caveman Spongebob Meme to Rainbow Spongebob Meme, she'll get it eventually. Of course it's no trouble for Harlan to just pop out and pop back in as a brisk little lizrad that is the cutest! Being a lizard person when you've never seen one is hard. But not too hard for Bingle, with the help of some critique and warlock magic that is not evil at all.

When they arrive at the lake, Bingle will collaborate with Falco on a great look for their disguises. Maybe they will be big crocodile, small lizard girl, and tiny lizard companion. Just out for a stroll! Whatever! She'll go with him to approach the dragon.



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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 10:59 PM
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A lakeside stroll
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Falco were surprised t' see Fizz's auntie slip outta th' green but he did th' Hin thing 'n' welcomed her with a smile 'n' shrug. Maude carried them along nicely by followin' Mary so he had time t' help Bingle work through her very mixed-up chameleon look. He tried 'is best not t' laugh an' were mostly successful as she cycled through scale patterns an' coloration.

Ever' once in a while, he'd interject with "Bigger eyes," or "Less spines 'n' frills." Soon enough she were lookin' less like an axolotl or spiky gecko an' more like one o' th' tribe what accosted 'em when they was with House. That gave 'im an idea, "D'ye think I should call House? In case we need t' get away fast? I don't wanna put th' thing in any more danger than what's necessary though." What would a dragon want with House anyway? Not like one could crawl inside t' roost.

Soon, jus' as 'is stomach started rumblin', Tifapine stopped 'em an' asked about th' plan. They were on th' border o' th' dragon's domain now. But, what were th' plan? They wanted information an' Falco were good at gettin' that from people but, a dragon weren't people were he? They need t' know about th' lizards an' maybe get a sense o' 'is strength.

"Well, I could wildshape in as a crocodile an' maybe swim right up t' 'im. But, then I can't talk." Falco scratched 'is head an' thought about it some. Plannin' were tricky. "Maybe we could pretend t' be some sorta delegation from town? Do we think he'll tell us anythin' about th' lizards? Maybe we should find some an' skin 'em fer disguises. Nah, crocodile's probably better, right? Who would expect a crocodile?"

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  #189  
Old Jul 16th, 2022, 07:22 AM
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Fela, prisoner of war
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Fela's too busy to keep much of a lookout -- she's got the ways of the fey to ponder, a Maud to constantly explain that yes they are moving but yes really this slowly, and relatedly a couple of gnomes to passive aggressively harumph at. Her celebrations at finally being able to move at a respectable pace are cut short by the shock that they'd been followed.

"Don't you think you'd have been better protection from us if you'd told us you were there?", stiff and suspicious. But she relaxes some when she sees the shield, armor, and holy symbol. Yes, a self-respecting cleric would look after their gear, yes, it was undoubtedly some hippy nature god she followed, but even then she ould understand clerics better than druids.

"Yes, a plan." She purses her lips. [say]I'm not sure about a delegation from town -- they said the delegation from the gnomes hadn't come back? I...don't disguise well. I could at least change into my hide...or we could loosely tie my hands and pretend I'm a prisoner, [say] her mouth drops into distaste at the thought of changing armor, and then downright disgust at posing as a prisoner. "Or I could just hang back out of sight?" A hopeful tone now, but full of doubt.

She looks questioningly at Tumble, hoping for an excuse, another plan, a way out, but sighs painfully as Ritter Schluss's class on tactics come back to her. Somehow what should have been the most interesting of the classroom based subjects was taught by the most boring, driest lecturer, and she'd forgotten much of the little she'd learned, but his complete disdain for leaders who clung rigidly to a single plan, and failed to adapt to the situation at hand had been a running through-point.

She was resigned to her fate. "The dragon's a superior foe; if it comes to blows we've already lost. Best take my blade, tie me up, make me walk -- treat me like a prisoner? Some of the others as well? I'll keep my armor on so it's I'm a plum prize, worth more in what I know than as a snack?" Or mainly, to keep some semblance of dignity through this charade. She turns to Tumble "You're another prisoner, then? And if I'm not to offer up too much politics of the town, what do we offer him...Tifapine is right that leaving's the issue...we need some reason for Cleiophane to feel like he's gaining by letting us go. As part of a prisoner exchange for the lizards to trade with Saltmarsh? Gah, that's weak, hope he's not tempted to hold me for ransom to build his hoard. Finn would be so much better at this. Nobody has a better idea?"


Actions, etc.
Dice The daily animal handling check for bonding with Maude:
d20-1sh16 (16)-1 Total = 15

Dismounts for Maude, moves her sword to a scabbard attached to her saddle, has someone tie her wrists (trying to do it loosely but look serious? That might be a roll for someone else)


 
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Old Jul 16th, 2022, 12:51 PM
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Tumble
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Artist credit: Aurore Folny (© Black Book Editions)

Normal people have normal reponses to loss, but what's normal about Narngeldem? Tumble realises she's made a misstep of empathy over the Lily Song, but she's not sure what to do about it. With younger people she can get by with saying something suitably gnomish and superficially wise, but Tifapine is far too old and clever for that.

What good is it for Tumble to tell her that Narngeldem teaches you that the Experience of Loss is an anchor, or a taproot, that holds you in place when you need to move on? What use is it to Tifapine to know that a Narngeldem monk crushes her feelings into flat pebbles that can be skipped away across the lake of life and left to sink? She pats a child on his emotional head and exchanges a tiny house for a stuffed pig and accepts a package of herbs and needles and soft absorbent moss and never once admits a feeling.



Possible explanations for how Pim could know Bingle's name:

1. Maybe the coin was sneaked into Bingle's pocket by someone from home, who has been keeping an eye on her in secret, and the pisron thing was just a little prank that's getting out of hand.
2. Maybe Pim can listen through the coin, but can only write to respond, and it would take too many words to explain properly so he didn't.
3. Maybe there's no Pim at all. Maybe the coin is like a magic imaginary friend that knows everything Bingle knows because she owns the coin and that's just how it works.
4. Maybe Pim is a fae or something and the whole thing is an elaborate trick with some unknown aim.

But in the end... "I am not certain there is anything that you can do, ax Bingle. Whether or not Pim speaks the truth, if he will not tell us where to find him, we cannot know where he is or if he truly needs help. If Pim is imprisoned, then he cannot come to us. I suppose that all that you can do is decide whether or not you wish to continue your correspondence. Perhaps the next message will help you to make up your mind."



Having ax Tifapine along for the dragon pleases Tumble. She'll pee herself a lot less than Fiz did (hopefully), and knows the local area. She's rough, and speaks her mind, like a soldier. Useful, useful. Bingle becomes a lizard. It's very convincing, after a while, between Falco's descriptions and Tumble's occasional oil crayon sketches.

"It is probably safer without House," Tumble says. "The horses are conspicuous enough, and I am not sure that they would think to follow House if we were to leave inside it." Maybe they could trot inside House and ride along with them! Tumble thinks about being crammed inside Granny Peth's front room with everyone else while Maude and Mary sonrt and siht everywhere and has a flatmouth to herself about it.

Her flatmouth is joined by a tiny eyebrow arch at the prisoner gambit. "No, thank you, I do not intend to walk into a dragon's lair as a prisoner, whether it is a ruse or not. Ax Falco and ax Bingle can disguise themselves, and ax Bingle has the alchemist's stone - leave them to parley with the dragon. While he is distracted, we can remain out of sight and assess his lair for ways in or out, or any other information we can find.

If we are found then I suppose that we must try to talk or fight our way out. Ax Tifapine, you are a druid, and so you can speak with the small creatures of the swarmp, can you not? If there is trouble then perhaps you can send a message to ax Bingle and ax Falco this way."


She casts a critical eye over the disguises. Who knows if it'll work! But at least nobody is going in tied up.



Action Block and Stat Block
OOC:

 

 

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  #191  
Old Jul 17th, 2022, 12:42 PM
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In Theory
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Bingle, Halran comes back SUPER pert and fancy, but he will go away and come back plain and green if you make him. Perhaps you are too distracted by the problem of PIM! Did he notice he used your whole name? Is he somewhere, not mipirsoned AT ALL, going DOH! or did he send the note, and now it's wiped away by yours and he doesn't even realize that he gave himself away... OR. Maybe he, as Tumble said, is 3) pretend and just you or 4) a tricky fae or 2) a trapped gnome really but he can hear out of the coin. You wrote him a nice and reassuring note right at dawn; you may have his note back right now. Or not. He sounded low. Maybe he really was low because he made a mistake (BINGLE, he said!) and also the ink seems to reflect things whether you want it to or not. Lies. Secrets.

Also, Gand told you--- Gand who is very, very good and knows about fairies --- it means nothing if a Fairy knows your name. It only matters if YOU give it to them. Even after they KNOW it from a source not you, you can still sell it or get tricked out of it. So if it is Tumble's #4), then at least “PIM” has no power on you because you were clever and stayed BEE! And anyway, as Tumble said, maybe 1) He is from your actual village and watching out for you and this is why he won’t say where he is and the story of pirson is to TRICK so you don’t know your family and friends are worried and spying.

Falco, the druid makes you jump. She was right there. Even unhidden, her presence is a low hum, and she sits so quietly listening as you and your friends talk strategy and survival that you almost forget her again. But as your plan begins to come together, she has intelligence to offer.

left-aligned image
allaboutbirds.org
The Dragon has only been here a few months; the lizards got a temple up post-haste. They worship dragons---like ancestor worship. In the South East corner of the lake, there are old caves. We used to use them as a camp when passing; it kept the Bullywugs from settling there, anyway. They have a submerged entrance, but are dry after that. He's lairing there.

Fela, when you say If it comes to blows we've already lost, Tifapine shakes her head, very firm, and interrupts in a comfortingly clerical way. Listen, I’m grateful, I love my nephew, but I’m not suicidal. Cleiophane is young, and with luck and strategy the five of us might well take him. Or, with less luck and more realism, I believe we can hurt him enough to make him flee. The canopy won’t let him fly up and breathe us to death, once we’re off the road.

You offer to be a prisoner, but truthfully, you prefer your arse on a good horse, your hand on a good blade, your body covered in your gleaming Watcher’s armor, gleaming.
Tifapine agrees. If we look unafraid, like we think we are a threat, he is less likely to take it to fisticuffs, she says. She fits herself to Tumble’s plan. I can pretend to be a gnome from the mountains. I can pretend to be a cleric. She...is a cleric? She certainly doesn’t look like a druid or even a Swamp Gnome in her current get up, but she said it both blithely and firmly.

Tumble, with your high insight, you understand you have handled Tifapine exactly right. Say nothing, move along, done. Her interest in any sort of feelings being admitted is lower than the hole Bingle went down. You move on to un-personal topics of planning and dragons. She likes your idea about befiredning a small animal, which feels gnomish and druidic, comfortably in her wheelhouse.

As you travel toward the lake, she rejects birds that she identifies as a "coot," a "godwit," and a "whimbrel" to chat up a puffy, inquisitive “least bittern” (Tumble. Is she making this up?). He has heard the lake is fat with tiny fish from under-hunting, but is nervous of the dragon.

This is Air Prances, she says. Air Prances this is *unintelligible twootering* Prances can fly messages for us. She will captain Mary; though she prefers the undomesticated tackies and the saddle bothers her, her people have been known to ask the wild herds for rides and she is competent.

Before you split, she tells you everything she knows about green dragons: They breathe poison, and it’s good to not be in a clot because it’s cone shaped and spreads to up to 30 feet. They can fly and breathe under water. Most importantly, they lie. Even when the truth will serve him, expect` lies. Even when he actually says a truth, it is a tiny vehicle used to carry a heap of seething lies.


In Practice
right-aligned image
White team, Fela leads, clanking. Tifapine is whispering with Mary, coaching her walk soft-footed and through narrow gaps in hedges, keeping to the shadows. She herself is practically on the withers, lying along the neck, the reins slack, her hands fisted in Mary's mane. Tumble, if you utilize the saddle, you feel you are being very stealthy indeed, but you can be a little stealthier if you go on foot.

Your group stays a north of the other groups, dawdling so you don;t get ahead fo them or leave them by pausing to investigate local flora with pretended scholarly interest (or actual monkly interest). JUST PASSING THROUGH CLIP CLOP CLANK hoooooffffwhissssspersnooootch. You are also farther east, and so it is your party that comes upon the brand new clearing. A tree ripped up by the roots, bushes and grasses smashed, the earth scoured with deep marks and slick and wet in places. In the center of this carnage: A dead meat willow, the trunk clawed open and the pulpy guts yanked out and strewn...

Falco, your magic is wild. You have turned yourself into a child of the heavens, many times, but this is different. Now, you are to be an Animal. Rooted in the ground, in blood and bone. You have never done this before. How does it work? You aren’t sure. You have to figure it out.

Little lizard and littlest lizard, you are not stealthy. You walk beside your crocodile or surf on its back as if it were a magical mushroom or a floating desk. You have prepared reverent arms. Everyone has told you the dragon is curious and acquisitional, prone to parley, tricks and stealth, sly sly sly.

This – is not that. Yellow Team, what you see as you come to the edge of the lake is a sleek green form splishy-splashin' la la la! Playful Uncle Dragon spitting a whimsical stream of water up from his pursed, weirdly agile lips as he surfaces. He rolls belly up and floats, sleek and pleased, and just as ding-dang darling as an otter. Cleiophane is as unaware of your intrusive gazes as any Bathing Maiden from the bard songs. He even, as you come closer, bursts into a rumbly cheery growl of song in a language that sounds like a cat fight taking place in a stomach flu ward, all hiss and puke and spit and growl and hork: GARGLE CHUFF CHUFF BRRRRR GRRAHH HISSSSS GULP BRC BRC GARGLE RUMBLE ROW!

Why, if this idyllic scene is to be believed, he hasn’t the slightest idea that a single one of you is out there!

 
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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 11:41 PM
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After while, crocodile
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Falco listened closely when Tifapine, who were probably there a minute ago, spoke about th' dragon an' where they might could find it. "Interestin', so he don't stay in th' temple. Wonder how them lizards feel about that. His hoard must be in th' caves to then." Well, they have a destination 'n' a plan now. He turned t' Bingle t' explain he wouldn't be able t' talk as a croc so they would need signs an' signals.

"I can swish me tail back 'n' forth fer No, lift up me head up with me mouth closed like a smile fer Yes, or open me jaws an' hiss if'n we're in danger. How's that sound?" Yes, no, an' let's go; what else could they need? "Oh, an' I should be plenty big enough fer ye t' ride on me back. If'n ye want." He knew that he would want t' ride on a crocodile's back, given th' chance. So now, all were left were t' do it. But how?

He had th' idea down from goin' starry but that were different. When he did that, Falco tapped into somethin' from up beyond th' sky. Fer this, he would have t' aim much lower. He concentrated on th' mud an' moss whilst holdin' a vision o' a great big croc in 'is mind. He thought about baskin' in th' sun or divin' down in th' depths o' cool waters with th' swish o' a mighty tail.

Falco held th' image o' th' crocodile an' pulled it in closer 'n' closer till he were starin' directly 'nto a giant yellow reptilian eye. Then, he dove in.

It didn't hurt. Th' druid felt his bones growin' an' movin' as his insides shifted. But it didn't hurt 'im. Falco's skin grew scaly an' green. His body stretched from snout t' tail as arms an' legs pulled in. Th' light felt good on 'is back an' he were hungry. Horse smelled good but, no, he knew he couldn't eat 'em. He waddled along th' path t' th' lake.

When they came t' th' water, Falco picked up 'is pace in a funny wiggly run. He slid 'nto th' lake an' did a few rolls under th' surface. There were fish. A few snaps an' now there were less. The croc floated there lazily with only 'is eyes an' nostrils above water, jus' enjoyin' 'imself as he were before swishin' 'is tail an' turnin' back t' shore fer Bingle.

That were when he saw it. Falco blinked 'is eyelids over nictitating membranes an' sort o' surprised 'imself when he croaked with a bit o' laughter at th' dragon rollin' an' splashin' in th' lake. Well, he certainly can't blame 'im. It's th' first thing he did too! He swam back t' Bingle an' blinked rapidly as if t' ask "what now?"

Wildshape
Here is a link to a Croc Block on DND Beyond for Falco's current stats.

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Old Jul 19th, 2022, 01:50 AM
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Bingle Wildwander, Forest Gnome Wizard/Warlock
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It's fine to be a lizard, it's fine for Falco to have a tail, it's fine for Halran to be stripey and obvious, and it's fine to be in a swamp where everything drags on everything else and it's all dampening and moldering the wool of her important sweater, which still exists under the lizrad disguise. It's fine!

Halran is philosophical about being a stripey lizrad. He just doesn't seem to care. Bingle doesn't care about the disguise, and is trying very hard not to care about watching her friend Falco turn directly into a crocodile with strange ridges on his head and a ridged tail and slick talons and scaly elbows and a long tail. By the time they get to the pond, she's pretty close to it being fine.

She learns the crocodile sign, which is easy. Tail swish: no. Head up and mouth closed: yes. Mouth open and hiss: danger. She slides onto his back, anchoring her legs under his elbows and joink-joink-joinking along when he goes running. She tries to look joyful and casual at the same time as getting his knobby back joinked into her butt. How a lizrad girl would look joyful if riding a crocodile to the lake. The crocodile doesn't seem to mind if it takes her a minute. She puts a hand up, fist closed, and waves it around. "Hi-yiy-yiy!" she says experimentally. "Hey-yay-yay!" Halran seems to think these utterances sound lizardly, but what would he know, he is very supportive in general and he has only been a lizard for like five minutes.

They get to the lake. Falco takes a spin in the water, very casual. Bingle plucks a few reeds and considers chewing on one, but then the dragon corks up and spews water up in a fountain, like a dang rabbit or duck when it's goofing! Immediately when they see him, Binglizard puts the strange stone into her mouth, rune down toward her tongue, and starts to listen as hard as she can. She takes a hard, hard look at the reeds as if searching for something. Anything would do, really, a ladybug or skull of a grosbeak or something cute like a stone.

Harlan slides into the water and goes along the grassy verge and then into the pond, trying to get closer to the dragon. Bingle stays back at the edge.



ۜ\(סּںסּَ` )/ۜ
 


ۜ\(ಠ_ಠ)/ۜ
 
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Old Jul 19th, 2022, 06:32 AM
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Fela, doing fieldwork
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Fela is relieved at Tumble's refusal to play prisoner, at not needing to play one herself, but less thrilled about them splitting up, at being unable to Watch Bingle. A part of her wants to say "don't die again" but it feels too overdramatic and clingy. She covers for it as soldiers long have, fistbumps and backslaps, "See you on the other side." The little ceremony doesn't take away the fear, but shapes it into something useful, a purpose, an alertness.

Tifapine's reluctance to be a cleric unnerves her. She wants to argue with her about it -- just not so close to a dragon's lair. "The less we lie and pretend, the better. You're our guide, I'm Tumble's guard, Tumble is...looking for an Experience. Leaves out a bit, but none of it's wrong."

Tramping through the woods she keeps Maude close to her, ready to ride to Falco and Bingle's aid at the first sound of trouble. But they come across the new clearing before anything bad seems to happen.

"Well, that's one less Meatwillow to worry about wandering into town. But looking at how convincingly this thing was destroyed doesn't inspire confidence -- taking out a Meatwillow was a struggle for us, but this looks like play for the dragon. You're the druid, Tifapine" Not just flattery -- compared to Fela and Tumble, Tifapine was the druid "any sign this thing hurt Cleiophane at all?" Her eyes light up. "And how long ago this fight? With any luck it was just this morning, and the dragon hasn't recovered yet..."

Fela's been close enough to a Meatwillow already, thanks, and stays away, scouring the edges of the clearing, looking for...she's not sure. Torn-out dragon scales? Seed-pods? With this last thought she can't resist touching the side of her lip, murmuring "Hope you're noticing this, Blur -- I'm actively working on the deal.."


Actions, etc.
Dice Investigation, looking around the clearing closely for anything interesting, particularly seed-pods...:
d20 6

I guess I'm asking Tifapine to make some survival type checks about the tree...


 
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  #195  
Old Jul 19th, 2022, 04:59 PM
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Tumble
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Artist credit: Aurore Folny (© Black Book Editions)

The existence of a Least Bittern implies the existence of Most Bittern, and maybe even a Regular Bittern, though Tumble hopes not because really how many different Bitterns does a swarmp really need? And how many Meat Willows does a swarmp need, if it comes to that? Also weird: how fast do these freaking things grow, anyway?

With Tifapine and Fela doing the hard investigatory work, Tumble looks for other things.

First she looks for evidence of poison, since Cleiophane has poison breath! If there's poison on things and Tumble is able to detect it, she'll warn Fela and Tifapine so they don't put their hands on it or rub their faces in it or eat it or something.

Then she looks for evidence of Lizard meat puppets! They'll be all melted now if they did exist, but maybe there are remnants, and maybe they left their stuff behind like that cartographer guy!



Action Block and Stat Block
OOC:

 

 

Inventory, Herbalism, and Poisoning
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