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  #61  
Old Feb 7th, 2023, 06:34 PM
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LaisrenThe group tears the groom's hideous gloopy bits apart. He seems to have taken Hlin's lie to heart, and the ghost retreats through a wall with instructions about the ceremony.

Laisren checks for more ghastly enemies, and finds none. He does however find a range of odd expressions and reactions directed towards him. "What?" he asks, and plants the fork's butt on the ground. He does feel... odd. There is loss. And creakyness. He's got fewer uncertainties probing at his mind. But they're still there, you know? He just feels more comfortable that the uncertainties are just part of the way things are. He puts his hand out, in a questioning gesture.

It's his knuckles that give it away. Laisren's usually-wispy body hair is now more prominent - stiffer, and grey. He looks at his hand in shock. His gaze traces up his arm. His whole arm is covered in greyed hair. He gasps and grips his bicep (the fork clatters down to the ground), wondering if he's still alive and tangible. He is. He grabs a strand of his head hair and stretches it in front of his eyes. Grey! His only response is "Puh!" as he reaches to grab his tail. Still black and white of course. But its coast is less luscious, less shiny. He flings it away and rushes his hands to his face, as if that would reveal anything.

"What did he do to me?" Laisren asks as he squats down, again seeing his hair as it drapes over his face. "I'm... I'm old! I'm a crone! A... a...." he can't find a male version of the word, and so he sticks with it. "But Fain... Fainweyn... he won't... he wouldn't.... he couldn't.... Roisin is young. Rosy.... He'll never take me. Like this... it's all over. It's gone...."

Laisren is about to spiral down into a pit from which me might never escape, when he realizes something. I've seen this! This... this happens. It's happened before. The Fae. They take someone. Off in the wood. Gone for a few weeks. Then they come out, older, aged. Forgetful, lost. But! They don't always stay that way. The old druids. Speakers with the old gods. They can reverse it. They've done it, I've seen it!

He stands up like a bolt. "But you can't wait!" he shouts, apropos of nothing that anyone has said out loud. "The cure needs to come fast. I need to find someone touched by the gods! We need to go. Now! Let's get Liri and get her out of here. We can't sleep here again, or.... or I'll never... Fain wouldn't even look...." Just thinking about it drags Laisren back to that dark precipice. He shakes his head. If he thinks about that, he'd just as well be dead. "We need to move!"

Snatching up his fork, he dashes to the first door he can see. The time for patience and subtlety is past. He'll turn this whole place over, if it helps to escape faster. "Where's the bride?"
OOCSorry, I can't see a map. Laisren is in frantic action mode, so he will open pretty much any door that he can see, searching for Liri.

 
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Old Feb 9th, 2023, 05:39 AM
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Nukky watches as Laisren begins to run off. "Nukky will follow and help!" Sensing the urgency of Laisren's plight and older age, the Kobold begins to follow with the spirit in tow.

"Here, Nukky give you help." Nukky gently places a hand on Laisren's back. "Nukky not know what do to help age-curse, but will at least help with Guidance. Maybe find door with shiny rock."


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  #63  
Old Feb 9th, 2023, 11:35 PM
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This place...

He echoes his thoughts out loud. "This place. I don't want to be here anymore. This... this story or whatever it is. How can we be a part of it if it keeps trying to kill us, or age us?"

He doesn't follow Aru or Nukky for the moment. Instead he begins searching the slain undead that lay about from the moment they came in, even going back to where he first began fighting them and Nukky did the fire teleport thing.
He had to have something, something, to account for all this death and change. Hlin split from what he was, Laisren now old.

"What's next?", he said aloud to everyone and no one as he searched with all his blades sheathed and no weapons out.

Bodies of former undead searched, he put away anything he might have found and pulls out both his blades as he walks towards the door Aru headed towards earlier. "I'm turned into a human? Or a gnome? or... an orc?" He shudders at the thought, but feeling a little better if he found anything of value, decent value on the undead bodies.

 
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Old Feb 10th, 2023, 05:07 PM
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Baly, the ghost "corpse" is gone. He left nothing, not even a body. Down you go. The ghouls are a haul: you find the tiara, the single diamond earring, and a platinum tie pin set with a black pearl, all mundane, but also antique. The raw materials alone are worth at least thousand gold together, but the craftmanship and the antiquity would make this lot worth at least ten thousand to the right buyer.

Last, you find one of the ghouls had a bag with a long strap hung over one shoulder, and inside it is a small stone cat, carved and cute, with one eye made of a bright, pale green stone.

Hlin, you move to assist the distraught Marda, adding your encouragement and bardic expertise to his efforts.

A'ru, your first foray gets no response. He has fled, perhaps out of earshot of a paw-knock or a wheedle. But when Hlin encourages you, you howl, and this, he hears. A pause, and then a ghostly Marda hand extends through the wall beside your howling head, and a single finger points south. You see the bare end of his snout, releasing a long, desperate, Shhhhhhhhh!

POINT POINT SOUTH goes the hand. Then the pieces withdraw into the wall.

Nukky, you hurry to help the distraught Lais, and fill him with the guidance of the wild.

Laisren, Hell no. The bulk of your life, your youth and strength, eaten? Beautiful Fain stuck with an old man? No to this, straight up flat no. Too awful to think of, so you don't think. Why should you, when you know it can be fixed. You remember when little Martine, barely two, toddled off into the rift-addled swamps. You were a kid then, yourself, and you remember being frightened when your dad brought back a disconsolate middle-aged lady who wept and wet herself and called for, Mama! Mama! as if she knew no other word. A single touch from the Cleric, and there was small Martine again, no worse for wear. She is twelve now, a cute kid who doesn't even remember it.

But the cleric said the cure must be applied within a day. So! FINE. You have a day. You hustle forward and throw the first door you see open. Behind it is a decayed sitting room, empty except for the Marda ghost, who is busy disappearing through the wall just south of you, and an old lady ghost, elven, sitting quietly in a plush chair and kitting ghostly yarns. Her clothing marks her as a servant, but an upstairs one.

Nukky,
you go with him, and the old lady looks up placidly as Lais demands to know where he can find the bride.

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Liri? Long gone, I hope, though it may be my head to be so bold as to say it, and to also say, shame on you both for coming to celebrate this sham! If there is to be a wedding? Well, you'll soon see her in the chapel, I imagine, she says. She seems to take you and Lais for guests, and turns back to her knitting.

Sneech and the Fire Spirit both see the Marda Ghost pop out of the wall of the room and peek around the corner. Past him stairs lead up.

Hlin, you look south and see him gesturing from the corner, waving you his way in the universal signal for FOLLOW ME. A'ru sees him, too. He withdraws around the corner, and the Spirit and Sneech see him drifting up the stairs at a rapid pace Baly you are back by now...

Party, any who follow him up to a higher level of this floor will find themselves in a vast library. An empty study is one end, the door open. He goes across it, these ruins of the pristine library where Malveen took down Laisren's book of riddles. Now, the center has caved in, and from the hole, the sounds of a quartet playing and the chatter of a good size crowd drift up. Past it, to the north, a set of stairs leads back down.

The Marda has a worried face and wrings his hands, looking all about, nervous to be here, waiting for A'ru in this nook.




LINK TO A HELPFUL MAP SO YOU CAN VISUALIZE THIS BETTER, The purple line shows the route the Marda Ghost took after peeking through the wall at A'ru.

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Old Feb 11th, 2023, 10:57 AM
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"Take your time to learn what you must," Hlin says to A'ru. He then follows the path of the ghostly Marda and when it leads to the open room, he wills his magical hand to hover over the open hole in the middle of the room to ensure that nothing will come out of it and at them. If all seems safe from that position, Hlin will position himself back where they turned into the room, to guard against any danger that might come from behind them.

"Laisren," Hlin will nod in acknowledgment if the once-young warrior passes by. "Worry not," he assures him with an assurance that he doesn't honestly feel himself, "this world's glamour and transformations will fall from us once we return. We know this for certain because they say only youth is rash ... and you, if you don't mind my saying, are behaving a bit too rashly for an elder." Then, thinking it might calm him, Hlin nods at Laisren's mid-section: "Just curious about your other pitchfork there ... for me that was the most disturbing aspect of the change. Surely it proves that the lords and queens of this enchanted world have a sense of humor, no?"


 


 

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Old Feb 11th, 2023, 12:17 PM
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"All right." A'ru's quavering voice catches in his throat at first, so he clears it and speaks more forcefully. "All right, Sneech. Halt here."

The ranger had not at first moved to follow toward where the ghost had beckoned, remaining frozen in place and staring up at the stairs, barely breathing. At Hlin's encouragement, he had nodded without really hearing. But Sneech had sniffed and prodded at A'ru until the ranger had shaken his head and looked down at the mastiff. He grimaced in annoyance at himself. "Damn me if I ain't completely unmanned an' befuzzled, Sneech. I been lookin' fer another marda half my life, but I dunno if I can trust my own legs to carry me to face this one, now I found 'em. I trust yours, though." The mastiff had whined in agreement, and A'ru had mounted and spurred his friend up the stairs.

But now he masters himself, and alights on the floor before the apparition. He says hesitantly, "So, I'm A'ru. What d'yez call yerself, then?" He pauses for a moment, then adds, "That barstard wit' the leash is gone fer good. Yez can talk freely. An' take off that damn hat, if yeh can."

As he waits for the ghost marda to reply, A'ru studies its face and its body language, hoping to learn by its cues and reactions how he might win the creature's trust and assure himself of its trustworthiness.




 


 
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Old Feb 12th, 2023, 11:20 PM
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Nukky closes his eyes as follows Laisren into the old lady ghost's room. He sees the ghost Marda lead the way to a back route. He looks up at Laisren, still worried for his sudden aging and current desperation. The young Kobold gingerly tugs on Laisren's clothes. "Umm, Laisren friend, Mother Forest has showed that the ghost Marda wants to lead friends through mansion." He looks at the old woman, who had resumed knitting. "Maybe...maybe we follow them as well? Maybe leads us to Liri and Malveen."

The Kobold does his best to not show how worried he is for Laisren's current situation.


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Old Feb 13th, 2023, 03:30 PM
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Nukky, the knitting ghost knits on, unfussed by you. You express concern for Laisren and suggest you that the two of you should follow the ghost.

A'ru, you hesitate, but Sneech encourages you, and you mount up and are carried up the stairs, across the dim library, and to the Marda Ghost. You see that he has ripped his collar off. It lies broken beside him, and he keeps glancing at it, licking his lips.

The Marda blinks at you in wonder as you get close, staring at your clothes, your feathered cap, your mount. He is young, and strikes you as a fellow with little guile. He yoinks the hat off when you say to and clutches it, spinning it in his hands. His ears keeping going flat, anxious, but then they flip up up and toward you; you see clearly he is wild with both curiosity and fear and---hope?

He talks fast and very quiet, his words falling over each other in a tumble. I am Oo'loo. Are---are you a Marda of the Il'a'rana? It's a Marda word that means, "free-runners." I --- thought you were just a story, meant to give us hope. Or, on my bad days, a story to give us false hope, as we wait in chains. But my sister always believed. She swore one day you would appear! Have you come for us, at last, to lead us to the meadows? Just then he sees Hlin approaching the hole with his light. Ears back, eyes wide, he waves frantically at the centaur, pointing at the lantern, shaking his head, No. They mustn't see me, unleashed, or know that you have slain my evil owner! My pack is locked down in the kennels, at their mercy! And my sister---

Hlin, there is faint light coming up out of the hole, enough for you to make out the shapes of bookshelves and your own ghost horse. His spangled hoof has intensified in color, the sparks deeper purple, pink, gold, and orange. He himself seems perkier, tossing his head, and he yearns a little ahead of you, as if he wants to go north. Still, he stops a few past you, and then returns to stay "attached."

With your excellent perception, you see the Marda signalling to you frantically to turn off your light, and long before you come to the edge of the great hole, you realize that if you bring this bright lantern close, it will spill down into the floor below. If you send it out to hang over the hole, you will essentially be shooting a bright, broad spotlight down from the ceiling to thee floor below, announcing your presence...

Looking down, you see a vast ballroom, the edges lit with ancient, dim, guttering drift globes, the center nearly pitch without your lantern. The collapsed ceiling is vaulted, so it is fifty feet from where you stand to the floor, and at one end of the room is a balcony, 25 feet up. The Quartetto is there, playing the lovely music you hear. The floor itself is Elven tile, wrecked but lovely, and it is seething, boiling with undead. Ghosts dressed in wedding day finery are revolving in a dance, or chatting in little groups, or spooning rotting foods up off a vile, broken buffet table into their mouths. The foods plop through them and spatter on the rubble and trash and old, gnawed humanoid bones (mostly elves, you would guess) that litter the floor. There are also a number of ghouls, but they seem to be congregating in the darkness. Still, you see them popping out of the black to lick at the floor foods or gnaw on an old dry bone.

You do not see the old elf from the vision, the one who sent the orcs. Nor do you see Liri.


OOC

You can see a circle that shows the patch of darkness at the center on the map screen-shotted here. The rest is dim light, and that dim light bleeds up so the library is dimply lit, as well.

MAP IS HERE.
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Old Feb 13th, 2023, 11:42 PM
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Hlin pulls back from the edge of his observation point with a jolt.

"There are dozens and dozens of undead down there!" he mouths to any of his companions within sight. "We cannot--absolutely cannot--fight our way out of this."

Moving closer to the corner of the room, he listens to Oo'loo's conversation with A'ru.

When Oo'loo finishes, Hlin steps slightly forward, but making it clear that he is looking to A'ru for permission to speak. Regardless of whether A'ru understands his bid or stares at him with gruff confusion, Hlin will turn to Oo'loo and address the ghost.

"Our lord A'ru is, indeed, a Marda of the Il'a'rana, as you astutely observe. But he is not merely one of them--he is the chosen leader of the free Il'a'rana. It is his scent they follow, his howl they obey--not from fear, but from love and respect. I am bound as his pack in this journey ... it is my task to entreat you to listen to the words of those who roam free. "

And saying this, he will turn back to A'ru with a bow, and discreetly--as befits a member of a Marda prince's retinue--step to the side.


 


 

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Old Feb 14th, 2023, 10:56 PM
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A'ru had nearly choked at Oo'loo's words. "There's a whole pack o' yez?"

But before he could recover, Hlin had begun his powerful entreaty. A'ru's eyebrows had risen further and further the more the bard talked -I'd pay the entrance fee for a tour o' that centaur's brain- but he held Oo'loo's gaze steadily.

When Hlin's speech comes to its dramatic finish, A'ru clears his throat. "Eh? Grand high muckety-muck of the Il'a'rana? Wellll...yeah! Yez could say that. Yeh could!" He puffs out his chest, but then adds gently, "It wasn't meadows, though, Oo'loo, that part's just legend. It was trees. We ran free in the trees. Until the day that barstard of a king caught me and made me his fool." He laughs darkly. "But I bit the hand that fed me and got free again, and has been ever since...Sneech get back here!"

He glares at the mastiff, who had sniffed a little too closely to Oo'loo and now glances sheepishly at A'ru with a noseful of ectoplasm.

With a roll of the eyes, A'ru continues, his voice growing apologetic. "I'll say it plain and simple, Oo'loo. I'd personally move the heavens to get yer pack out o' the kennel. But first my friends and me, we got to stop this wedding, or there ain't a future for any of the marda, Il'a'rana or no. So we need yez t' lead us to Mal..to Liri."

With one final uncertain glance to Hlin, he returns his gaze to the spirit. "Eh, well. If it'll make yeh feel braver, yez can...can possess me. Yeh know. Temporary-wise, just until the quest is done. With yer knowledge an' my know-how, we can teach these bum-whiskers a lesson." He raises his muzzle and finishes imperiously. "What d'yeh say, Oo'loo the Unleashed? Will yeh be a free runner, or will yeh hide in the wall again?"







 


 
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Old Feb 15th, 2023, 10:29 AM
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This place...

Baly followed along, hoping for some more treasure/valuables to be looted along the way when he looked down at the swirling cauldron of undead below.

"Yeah, that's not gonna happen", he said and frowned.

First Hlin's splitting of their former selves, then Laisren's skipping all of the best years in life, and now Aru was talking about giving themselves over to the ghost?

He sighed and stepped over to Nukky and pointed at his wounds that hadn't healed from earlier and said, "Can you spare anything for this I got from those undead earlier?"

He didn't want to say, every old man, elf, former centaur, kobold, and marda for themselves, but it was becoming harder and harder for the Rogue not to constantly keep thinking along those lines.

 
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Old Feb 15th, 2023, 07:02 PM
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LaisrenLaisren's frantic-dash mode is quickly interrupted by Hlin, who admonishes and guides in turn.

"I'm not old!" is Laisren's immediate blurted response. But then he hesitates. "At least.... I'm not an elder. I'm still just me. I don't think any of this is funny!" He had considered the possibility that this was all a glamour'd illusion, but had rejected the idea. This is another place, as real as any other. He had seen too many people walk out of the Bright, changed, for forever and day. Some changes can be reversed, sure. That is Lasren's only slim reed of hope. But many, so many, could not. Even when outer appearences fell away, what lay changed within could never be turned back.

"The fork is the worst part! I'm me. I can be what I will. But the fork isn't mine, it's my family's. If I've ruined the heirloom..." That doesn't bear thinking, any more than the possiblity of a relationship forever changed, maybe lost. He tears himself away from the bard's musings and goes through the nearby door. Another ghost is there! But this one doesn't seem hostile. Just the opposite, if anything. What Hlin could not do to temper Laisren's rashness, the ghost-governess does. She does not seem to approve of the wedding proceedings.

If Laisren was wearing a hat, he'd doff it for the spectral old lady and scrunch it in his nervous hands "My pardons, ma'm. Though. If I'm being right honest with you, I'm not here to celebrate. There's a good man I met, down the road, Vildenai way. And he made it sound like something might be going wrong here. He thought Liri might want to be there, and not here, on this day. And if that's right... if this ceremony is not to Liri's liking..." He gives a nervous grimace, not sure if the ghost lady will look well upon the admission or not. He looks at her directly, with his ghostly-aged eyes "Well, then, I might be here to do something about it. It sounds like you might not be against that idea. The Chapel, where is it? I don't have much time, but I don't think she does either. We HAVE to be able to change what's happening here," he says, straining to convince himself as much as the ghost.
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Old Feb 15th, 2023, 11:31 PM
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Nukky nods over to Baly as he approaches. He puts his scaly palm on Baly's knee where he can reach, healing the elf. He then reaches into his bag and pulls out three Goodberries. "Nukkyberries very good for health, take some!"

Satisfied, he follows the group out to the large hole in the floor. Carefully peeking over, he marvels at the large crowd of....people? This has been only the second time the young Kobold has seen such a large crowd gathered in one place. He begins to scan the room to see if there's a safe way through without attracting attention.

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Old Feb 17th, 2023, 05:38 PM
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Baly, you stash the (your) loot, look down the hole (YIKES!), skeptically eye Dogspar the friendly ghost (NOPE!) and backtrack to the small room to get healed by the kind Druid in the little room. Laisren is there talking to an an old lady ghost, earnestly trying to secure directions to what may be an exit for the party.

Nukky, you heal Baly and offer berries, the head to the library to join Hlin and A’ru. You pause to look down the hole, but it is dim and crowded, all these swirling elven ghosts. No old cruel-faced elf man. No Malveen-Liri-Banshee. As far as you can tell.

Your dark vision can pierce the full-dark center, however, and you see the rubble, a few ghouls slouching and hiding in it. You think there used to be a column there, in the collapsed part, and gilt bits and glass shards tell you it was once hung with mirrors. All but one are entirely destroyed. The last lies prone on the rubble heap, and it is very cracked, damaged, but mostly whole in the frame.

right-aligned image
Oh hey! This is the remains of the exact mirror Malveen manifested whole, back in the hut, to show A’ru an image of himself when he asked her if there were living Marda in his world. What did she say? You remember her exact words:

I tell you true, because it pleases me to do so... You'll need a mirror to see another living Marda on the Prime Material.

Hlin you are right. You can’t fight your way through that ballroom. But with no Malveen there—there is absolutely no reason you can see to go in there at all—well the only exit you saw was a closed door. No Malveen or old orc-deploying evil elf. GREAT! You deploy a huge ball of truth-adjacent story to help A’ru make friends with this remnant of his lost people.

Hey, here is a weird thing. The Marda ghost seems to see your horse! He reaches up to pet the questing nose absently as he listens to you and A’ru, and the horse is open to the advance—in fact, it reacts. The magic shoe is not a light source, but the sparkle is a veritable disco ball of color as the ghost Marda pats him…

A’ru, Oo’loo is young and sincere and takes the centaur’s story in with great earnesty. He tells you Lord Melve’en bought his entire pack for his amusement, and keeps them in the kennels under the kitchen. It is a hungry life, in cages in the dark until wanted. Liri, the daughter, is a friend to them, tries to make their hard lives easier, even though she barely has more freedom than they do.

The pack are all locked up there now, as the poor living conditions have led to a flea infestation that the Lord fears will disgust the guests—even though the fleas will not live in hair. The Lord only cleaned up him and his sister for the ceremony—until the foul tempered best man beat her near to death in the changing room!

I can take you the chapel, certainly, but please, won’t you first come see if you can help my Rar’Rar? I fear for her life… Alas, you know she is already dead. But—-you did “kill” the best man. Perhaps she can also “die?”

He isn’t sure what you mean by possession, but he wants to hide, so he tries it, slipping into your skin, where you feel him crouching in a corner of you. From this spot, he can talk to you, internally, and guide you anywhere you want to go.

left-aligned image
Laisren, your name means Light, but your sister, Aisling, says it ought to be “Buarth,” which means “Worry.” Pah, all your mother’s children have names to fit them, none more than Aisling herself, that stargazer! Well,Fain says you are a light—-Fain. The aging. The fork! Now you are back to worrying. Does Aisling have a point? She should mind her own meaning and get out of your head—you have work to do!

You were raised to be polite to old ladies. Even ones who are dead. Or in chains, as this one is, you see now.

Kind-eyed stranger, I cannot take you to the chapel, though I would, for I am Liri’s nursey, and I love her dear. Her father has warded his grounds, so she can never leave them. She wanders them, barred from any company, friendless here save for me and the poor Marda in the kennels below. But today, with the wards down to allow in all the guests, she thought to run to to Tomas, and away. It is he you mean, yes?

He is her fate, a poor boy of good heart who stumbled onto our lands by accident and lost himself here. He took shelter in a hunting cabin where Liri often slipped away to read in peace, and in a glance, their fate was sealed. I tried to help her escape this damnable marriage of money to money, and for my trouble I am chained here. The Lord told her he’ll take my head from my body—and Tomas’s too—if she will not put the gown on, walk the aisle, and speak the words. Well! My head is old, and Liri is like my own. I’ll gladly give it up if you can get her out and off to Tomas, to have whatever scant joy they can find before age takes him. Elf and a human—always a tragedy, but she says she’ll love Tomas now, bonny, and when he is a fine mature man such as you, and when he is old and frail as a newborn, and that after he dies, she’ll have no other.

I believe her. Liri is true-hearted as they come. Can you loose me? I will lead you to the chapel…Or go down the stairs and through the ballroom to the secret door behind the tapestry to the north. Or go the back way, through the library and dressing rooms. But go with care. He is ruthless, our Lord. He’ll have your head as well…




OOC Yoshi,you have complete control of A’ru. Oo’loo is not a pushy spectral passenger. He can guide you to anywhere in the castle, but he may not comprehend what is dangerous to you, as he thinks you are wedding guests. He doesn’t understand he is dead, and seems to think infesting you is sort of like being hidden magically in your cloak. You also realize he is a cleric—or was, when he was alive. He cannot cast spells, but AS YOUR ACTION action, you can ask him to Channel Divinity, twice per long rest. He can do the light cleric options: TURN UNDEAD or RADIANCE OF THE DAWN.

Anyone with dark vision who rolls at 10 or greater perception on the whole will see what Nukky saw.
Higher roles make it more information or a ghoul count LOL

OWLBEAR is down until Sunday when I can access the maps SORRY (I am scuba diving in Florida, taking a class, this weekend)
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Last edited by Fillyjonk; Feb 17th, 2023 at 08:52 PM.
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Old Feb 17th, 2023, 05:47 PM
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His first task as the Marda's pack-follower accomplished, Hlin watches the interplay of the two ghosts and the horseshoe with fascination.

Seeing Oo'loo step into A'ru, he has an idea. If a ghost can occupy a person, could a person occupy a ghost?

"Oo'loo," he asks, "can you guide me into that passage? "

And staring at the horse--himself--he steps in to possess his own equine body--or allow his own equine body to possess him.

"Gods willing, I haunt myself."


 


 

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