Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Lucien!

You have a sixth sense for these sorts of things, honed after years of dodging unfortunate assignments and ducking blame. And you're absolutely confident that if you escape through the floorboards, there will be shenanigans. Maybe even hijinks, which is the last thing we want around here. No, as long as you're here keeping Ailee reasonably behaved, you should be fine, and you'll walk out of this smelling of roses.

That being said, the quickest way out is getting down in the fetal position, stuffing your ears soundly, and inviting Ailee to rant. You will be able to leave immediately, given that this place of residence will very quickly cease to be a residence, or indeed even a place.

***

Coleman!

There's a far-off rumble in the distance. A ripple runs through the placid waters. The Storm is heralding its imminence. In the Storm are stars unwatched and thunders devouring and rain which sleeks against the windows. The Storm takes the tracks and changes where they lead to, and shows those caught in it mysteries and prophecies, and its leavings are the sharp taste of petrichor and a sense of personal smallness in comparison to the vastness of the Heart, and occasionally lunacy. You'll be fine, probably, as long as you get going sharpish.

Tell us about the barge, and how you mean to propel Sasha (and company) across the hungry waters.

***

Jackdaw!

The word is scrutinize.

The matron (her whiskers nearly dragging on the floor, her diminutive size suggesting she was once... perhaps a Felin, before her eyes became milky-white orbs and her lips scaled), scrutinizes Ailee, who's standing there looking like she's about to explode, with a thin strip of Lucien between her and doom for all.

Then she takes her knotted driftwood stick and pokes it into Ailee's stomach.

"You're a Rodine," she burbles, "but a fool one. The King only brings ruin and fire, child. Our lady might be able to wash it away, if you want... but I'm too old to make choices for children. Either ask to learn her mysteries or leave as sharpish as you can. We don't want you anywhere near us when you burn."

***

Ailee!

The stupid, paranoid, superstitious fish-creatures crowd behind the stupid old woman poking you with a stick as she lectures you about power, as if you aren't Ailee Sundish. Please, please, please tell her exactly who you are, what choice you made, who's in control, and why you are not doomed to a fiery and cruelly ironic demise in the depths of the Heart.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Count Numbers
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Thank God Lucien is smarter than his player, I would have just done the floorboards.

Lucien steps in front of Ailee - and more importantly between Ailee and the things Ailee is mad at, for the moment - and grips the end of the walking stick lightly.

"If you're worried about a fire, the last thing I would be doing is stoking it." Not even going to look at Ailee's expression right now, imagining it is bad enough. "Look, my friend here isn't a fool, trust me, she's very smart, and wise, and powerful. And angry. I'm an idiot that got pushed into a broom cupboard. I don't want to waste her time with my embarassing ignorance. So, could you explain this to me first, treating me like the know-nothing idiot that I am, while she gets us something to eat*, maybe something good to drink**?"

*if anything here is edible
**within given definitions of 'good'

I'm all for getting out of here fast, but it sounds like this might be important in helping us pick the direction. But, you know, does Ailee really need to stand here and handle the abuse to get it? Probably not.

One of us doesn't have Pride: INFINITE on our character sheet.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Thanqol
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"Yes, why don't you go ahead and tell your story?" said Ailee, walking behind the bar and lifting herself up into the air on a nexus of spectacular arcane energy - so she could grab a couple of bottles off the top shelf. Commentary that a regular sized person wouldn't need such assistance to reach that shelf would be unappreciated and unwise. She settles back onto the ground and starts pouring glasses.

If there's one saving grace for Ailee in situations like this it's that she doesn't consider work to be beneath her.

"I mean, I'm operating under the assumption that you're a washout who got half a degree in potions from Mudbank College and then moved down into the lowest IQ town you could find so that nobody would realize that you couldn't hack doing real magic - but maybe I'm wrong! Maybe you do know something interesting. Go on, tell us these mysteries - whatever they are, they are nothing I can't handle."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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“Ahem.”

Jackdaw cleared her throat.

“If we’re drinking to that, then I’ll have what she’s...not having.” Oh those. Those did not work well together. “I mean…” Ohhhhhh and now everybody’s looking at her. Oh no. “I would like to hear your story. Stories.” No, wait, that’s not it. Backpedal, backpedal! “That is, to say, your writings made me very happy - by which I mean, very sad, but happy to have been so sad?” Why was she talking and why couldn’t she stop?! “So. I. Would love to. Hear...more?”

[Jackdaw tries to: Talk Sense with Wisdom! 2 + 3 - 1 = 4! It's very bad! Somebody save her!]
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Balmas
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Coleman adjusts the netting on Sasha with distaste and more than a little bit of distrust. It's always seemed presumptious, the way that some train crews tinker on their train. New functions, welded-on limbs, the odd weaponized steam whistle. And maybe the Train approves of it, and sometimes it's beneficial, but it still leaves a sour taste in his mouth to alter Sasha in any way. She can't approve or disapprove yet, so how could he try to improve on perfection?

Still, with some reluctance, he's built a sturdy-enough barge around her, and strapped a bit of hinged piping to her smokestack. Not welded! Don't worry, baby, this isn't a permanent thing, we'll get you across the water, and take that nasty bit of dross off of you. Still, between the pressure of the smoke exiting the smokestack and the crude oars, it ought to be simple to jet down the pond and across it.

It certainly doesn't bear thinking about what'll happen if the storm gets there first, because while he wouldn't trust a train's weight to a barge if it weren't sturdily built, he's also keenly aware that it's far from what you'd call fit to weather the storm.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Coleman!

She’s as quiet as a snake, and you have to choke down a surprised bark when you realize that you’re not alone.

She’s made of driftwood, mostly. Ink-blotched envelopes are crammed into her ribcage in the shape of organs, each and every one completely illegible now. Her hair is lank moss, muddy brown and reeking, and her eyes are smooth pearls, unnaturally bright. Her teeth are silver and gold, dull in the rotten black wood of her jaw.

She is the Flood, in the same way that you are one of your fingers. And if she touches you she can make your body forget its pains, or erase memories that cause you grief, or fill your lungs with brackish water.

“It is a long way to Terminus,” she exhales, her stamp-stained lungs slowly contracting. “Many of the things that hunt them would not give you anything but my death.” Forgotten, choking, erased from the Heart; and maybe a day after, or a century after, it would vomit forth your bones for some other explorer. She turns on you, as inevitable as a wave. “Give it to me. You will name a price.”

***

Jackdaw!

A bell begins to ring. It is deeper than you would expect from its small size, and dull, dull, dull. It sounds like it comes from some impossibly vast distance, despite the fact that you can see it hanging over the bar, which is a very neat trick indeed.

The matron sets her fishy lips in a grim line. “Our stories aren’t ours. They’re consigned. But you want a lesson? Here she comes to give it.”

She gestures for you three to follow her outside, and... there’s something about the way that bell’s ringing that makes that seem like a very attractive proposition.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Count Numbers
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[Look Closely: 2d6+2 = 6, 2, 2 = 10]

- What is going on here? What do my senses tell me?
- Tell me about the bell - Could it hurt me? How could it help me?
- What will happen if, instead, we tried to get out of Dodge? ... or just me?

(Lucien's so fucking done right now. Thrown himself on a sword just for Ailee to swallow it anyway. Feels like the Below equivalent of having walked into an island village, and she keeps doubling down on being sacrificed to the Volcano-God.)

("Excuse me? Volcano God?"
"I bet I could take him"
"What Volcano God?"
"Take me to him I want to fight him"
"When you say Volcano God-"
"Shut your backwater inbred mouths and let me fight your volcano god!"
)
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Balmas
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“It is a long way to Terminus,” she exhales, her stamp-stained lungs slowly contracting. “Many of the things that hunt them would not give you anything but my death.” Forgotten, choking, erased from the Heart; and maybe a day after, or a century after, it would vomit forth your bones for some other explorer. She turns on you, as inevitable as a wave. “Give it to me. You will name a price.”


Alone, on a boat, with the active attention of the Flood on them. This is, in fact, the nightmare scenario.

So, he ignores her. At least, at first. Fills his claws with the familiar mechanical motions of polishing. Deep breath in, polish on. Deep breath out, polish off. They may be about to sink, but he'll be damned if Sasha doesn't look her best when they do.

Finally, he delicately folds the rag and tucks the small jar of polish back into the forward storage hatch, before sitting pointedly between the Flood and Sasha. "You've got a lot of trains," he admits. "And it seems like you've got us dead to rights. Could capsize the boat, drag me down, and let gravity put paid to Sasha.

"So, there's a reason you aren't doin' that. Maybe has to do with those hunters you mentioned. Care to share?"

[9 on Speak Softly.
What were they doing, and what are they going to do next?
What should I be wary of when dealing with them?
What can they tell me about things that hunt trains?
One of these answers is not helpful.]
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Thanqol
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"See?" said Ailee, punching Lucien in the shoulder chirpily. "We're getting somewhere now! We've gone from being smack-talked by a waiter to getting a conversation with something that at least has the self respect to pretend to be a god. This is progress, Lucien, don't look so bitter! Maybe it'll be interesting enough to write a Monstrology paper about? The Deeper Journal can't get enough papers on creatures that think they're gods."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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...when she'd wished for the ground to swallow her up there, she hadn't counted on anybody actually listening.

"Aileeeeeeeeee, whyyyyyyyyyyyyy?" She moaned miserably, falling in with her and Lucien and casting anxious glances at that bell. "All we needed was some water! This is...probably? Probably too much water!"
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Lucien!

Jackdaw asked a question, bell started ringing, catfish-cat said that her story was consigned. Hypothesis: this is an excellent place for burned spies, people with unbearable regrets, and the like. An alternative to alcoholism and black nights staring out the window: give your sins to the briny deeps. As a result, you have no idea what these catfish-Beasts might be capable of, and honestly? Probably neither do they.

You, of course, have never regretted anything in your life, except possibly belated realizations of even snappier comebacks hours after the fact.

The bell’s just a bell! It’s not particularly likely to hurt you or help you. That being said, it does signify that Jackdaw has brought down the attention of one of the powers of the Heart, who is vastly more likely to hurt you or help you. As previously mentioned, the Flood could drown you, wash away your cares (and memories), drown you, dredge up strange and terrible things from her depths to torment you, or drown you.

Leaving immediately isn’t the best idea, but honestly? You are not presently likely to get any proper supplies here. It’d be better to calm the wet trash goddess down and then try to cross her ASAP, or just descend into the Houses of Parliament and hope you all get out alive. That said, there is almost certainly risk of being eaten crossing the Flood, given the ominous ripples starting to appear on that placid surface.

Thanks, Jackdaw.

***

Coleman!

“It’s best when they are given,” the Flood says. It’s impossible to tell if she is smiling, given the eternal rictus. “So sweet. So full of longing. And I am the first you have met. I do not taste the huntsman on you, or the lizard, or the Grail.” You can hear the absence and presence of capitalization. There’s another question: why does the Flood respect the clowns?

“Turtles lay their eggs in the sand.” Uh? Um? “When they hatch... so many die, as they travel to the sea. The birds snatch them up, the snakes poison them, and the careless tread upon them. The mothers shed their tears; so I am born. Maybe you will make it to Terminus,” she hisses, and reaches out to stroke Sasha, who flinches away with a chorus of metal whining. “But maybe you will not. I offer you certainty. Life. And she will not suffer. I am an end to suffering. I can even take away your guilt and shame. You need not suffer, either.”

You have to give her something, Coleman. If you don’t give her Sasha, she will make an attempt at killing you as you cross; if you don’t make any sacrifice, she will make a serious attempt. The difference between idly swatting at a fly and bringing the Flyfucker down on it with both hands. The fly’s much more likely to survive the first, even if it doesn’t enjoy it.

And it’s best if it means something. She cares about what it means, after all. That’s why she takes.

Oh hey would you look at that, the rest of your delving team just showed up with the whole town in tow, how nice.

***

Ailee, Jackdaw!

Coleman’s talking to a Wet Trash Homunculus. Behold, a god(‘s avatar). You can smell it from here.

Jackdaw, how blissfully ignorant of the Flood’s capability of taking your anxiety from you are you?
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Count Numbers
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You, of course, have never regretted anything in your life, except possibly belated realizations of even snappier comebacks hours after the fact.


We are blessed to remember our mistakes, because it means we survived them.

Also: Lucien hates garbage. He hates owls. And, at this exact moment he hates Ailee, but he'll get over it.

"I'm just going to assume that can kill us all easily, and very horribly. Ailee? Jackdaw? I love you both dearly, if you could write down for me what you're going to say, before you say it...?" Pause. "Then, when I say something stupid, I'll start having Coleman sign off on it. We can take turns trying to talk to God, but Ailee left her last three back in the broom cupboard."
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Thanqol
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Ailee had been cupping her hands over her mouth in readiness to yell something over at the direction of Coleman and the trash god before Lucien begins begging for restraint. She looks back and forth between him at the sentient garbage with a look on her face that clearly communicates how little she appreciates being made to think about what she's going to say before she says it. Then she shrugs and starts tracing a finger through the air, leaving trails of fire in very readable cursive. It's neat and refined, the kind of handwriting that might be formalized into a font on a printing press for religious works.

The content of the writing is itself less elegant. It starts with LOOK JACKDAW! I HAVE UNCOVERED THE SECRET OF WHERE THE FISHMONGER'S SEWAGE OUTFLOW IS and it goes downhill from there.

Ailee looks at Lucien expectantly, hopefully, with wide eyes and an innocent little mousy smile upon her face.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Count Numbers
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Do I even need to say that the second Ailee's finger has started glowing he's already put his entire, much taller body, between Ailee and the trash god? Hopefully the Flood can't read backwards letters easily.

"I'm going to have to shoot her, you know," Lucien sighs to Jackdaw, "One day, I mean. There's going to come a point where shooting her is either going to be the nicest thing we can do for her, or the only way we can get out of something alive." Grimace.

It's not a threat. The thing that Lucien is imagining right this moment is what would happen if the Flood saw decided it was in a bad mood, and just held Ailee's head and stuck an arm down her throat. Could they stop it?

Against his will, he's remembering a dinner party, back when he was only another one of His Majesty's Pawns (A8), that ended with silk cord and a change in supervisor. It had lasted longer than two minutes.

He doesn't say that out loud, though. It'll probably be fine. He's just worried.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Balmas
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Coleman doesn't know how or when he got between the Flood and Sasha.

Intellectually, there must have been thoughts involved at some point. Neurons must have fired, muscles contracted, to bring him to this point, chest and frills puffed out--fear him, for he is big and scary--mere inches from the Flood's outstretched fingers. But for the life of him, he can't recall having them. He just heard Sasha whining and, well, here he is.

He stares at the goddess's sightless eye sockets, and knows that he is going to die in front of an entire town.

So it's time to double down. Look at how on-purpose and intentional this was, Ms. The Flood. Look at how he matches your lack-of-gaze without flinching. Just stretch out your fingers an inch or two. His chest, his heart is right there for the taking, and just think of the sweet love that you could harvest. His wrench--his father's, his grandfather's, and so on for too many greats to count--is in his hand, loose, confident--

+++

Everything is so big! Stupidly big!

But that's okay! Because he's big too! Big enough to help clean the train for the first time! It's the biggest day in his life!

And yes, he needs help to reach the windows. But Grampa says that just this once, it's okay for him to stand on the benches. And he has to be right, because Gramps has to be the biggest kobold in the world! Why, he must be almost as tall as the train itself!

And Gramps says that if he does a super good job, he'll even get to hold The Wrench!

That's what Saturday afternoons are for, after all, is Gramps and Coleman sitting around a diner car table. He could listen to the stories for hours. There' that engraved story about the first engineer, this signature from the second, this elaborate manual on engine repair picked out in the tiniest font, the one picture that Gramps always faces away from him for some reason (which doesn't really make sense to him, since it just looks like the Nanny in fancy clothing, and what's interesting about that), jokes, advice, crypic wisdom, patterns, swirls, diamonds, the odd jewel...

He cannot fail. Too much is riding on this moment.


+++

And now the wrench is heavy in his hands. Because if there's one thing he can offer--one thing to match the potential new life of a new train--it's history of an elder. A tale of love and life, picked out in scroll and gilt.

It's not as important as Sasha. It's not. It's a hunk of steel, no different from any of the flotsam scattered around this tranquil pond. If he throws it away, it's not like he's losing anything. All the stories are tucked away in his head, after all, he can remember it all. He should just make it easy on himself

And maybe if he tells himself that enough, it'll feel true enough to let his suddenly-iron grip relax.

The Flood is still watching, waiting. Grinning. And that grin--that smug superiority--is what turns fear to anger.

How dare she?

How dare she come in and lay claim to that which is not hers? How dare she force him into this position? How dare she think she has the right to offer him life! To offer him freedom--freedom, of all things--from existence? From suffering?!

The wrench hits the floor of the raft like the gavel of judgement. "I have neither shame nor guilt to give you," he snaps. "And I value suffering too much to exchange it for the soporific stupor of false life. This journey will end either in glory or death, and I'll hang before I let Sasha down! I have a duty!"

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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Ailee, Jackdaw!

Coleman’s talking to a Wet Trash Homunculus. Behold, a god(‘s avatar). You can smell it from here.

Jackdaw, how blissfully ignorant of the Flood’s capability of taking your anxiety from you are you?


Jackdaw is entirely ignorant of the possibility. How could she know? Its roots run deep, and she cannot see how it could simply be gone without taking away the rest of her.

Ailee had been cupping her hands over her mouth in readiness to yell something over at the direction of Coleman and the trash god before Lucien begins begging for restraint. She looks back and forth between him at the sentient garbage with a look on her face that clearly communicates how little she appreciates being made to think about what she's going to say before she says it. Then she shrugs and starts tracing a finger through the air, leaving trails of fire in very readable cursive. It's neat and refined, the kind of handwriting that might be formalized into a font on a printing press for religious works.

The content of the writing is itself less elegant. It starts with LOOK JACKDAW! I HAVE UNCOVERED THE SECRET OF WHERE THE FISHMONGER'S SEWAGE OUTFLOW IS and it goes downhill from there.

Ailee looks at Lucien expectantly, hopefully, with wide eyes and an innocent little mousy smile upon her face.


Wrinkling her snout at the smell, Jackdaw produced notebook and pencil from her cloak. She wrote. She scratched out. She wrote some more. She thought. She scribbled bits out. She ran out of space. She turned the page. She gagged and coughed. She frantically wrote, and held it out to Ailee.

NO! BAD!

Do I even need to say that the second Ailee's finger has started glowing he's already put his entire, much taller body, between Ailee and the trash god? Hopefully the Flood can't read backwards letters easily.

"I'm going to have to shoot her, you know," Lucien sighs to Jackdaw, "One day, I mean. There's going to come a point where shooting her is either going to be the nicest thing we can do for her, or the only way we can get out of something alive." Grimace.


...she made a slight addendum, and held it out to Lucien.

NO!!! BAD!!!

The wrench hits the floor of the raft like the gavel of judgement. "I have neither shame nor guilt to give you," he snaps. "And I value suffering too much to exchange it for the soporific stupor of false life. This journey will end either in glory or death, and I'll hang before I let Sasha down! I have a duty!"


*flip*

*scribble scribble scribble*

She held out her notebook. A little doodle of Coleman, standing brave and strong and heroic atop his dear Sasha, stared back at them.

A pause.

*scribble scribble scribble*

She held out her notebook. Some additions: A skull, complete with X’s over the eyes. Three more arrows, one pointing to each of them. Question marks, by the arrows, with more being added by the second.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Coleman!

The Flood reaches out and caresses your jaw with one rotten hand, and where scales and wood meet, the wood flakes away. For a moment, you are driftwood floating on the tide; you are a stone being smoothed by the current, washing away the words etched into you in memorial; you are love poetry surrendered to the water. Then the tide recedes, and you realize that, for one reason or another, you're still alive. And you only seem to be missing a little bit of yourself. A memory or two, but you'll be run over before you can tell where the holes are.

"This is the only time I offer," she says. "When you come to me again, I will take you both together, if you ask." And the way that she says it... she invites you to imagine yourself colonized, brutalized, or otherwise consumed by the powers of the Heart, dragging yourself and a dying Sasha along, and finding yourself at the shores of a still river. Her arms are wide and her heart is cruelly caring and she is so certain that you will eventually find forgetting yourself in the deep more palatable than your fate.

She recedes, wading to her knees in the water, and then--

It's like a magic eye puzzle (not that you'd recognize that; you'd have to ask Jackdaw). What was the Flood's merest fingernail is now just trash floating on the water; here, a spur of wood, there, teeth and gold.

The crossing has just become extremely ominous. But, again... the other path is through the Houses of Parliament. And she seemed like her vengeance would be like the flick of a hippo's tail, rather than the death roll of a crocodile with its prey in its jaws.

***

Lucien!

She wants you, too.

Not like she wants the train egg (a terribly cursed turn of phrase, still). But when she cast her gaze over you, she held your eyes for a moment with those cloudy pearls. But for all that you may have done regretful things, there's still more to be seen. Isn't that right? There's drinks to be emptied and sights to ogle and somebody needs to keep the mouse from dooming herself.

***

Ailee!

This power is a cowardly punk who got so huffy over not making out(?) with Coleman that she immediately collapsed into trash parts and if you don't cross her while making rude gestures you're going to explode. Screw "maybe not going over the power Coleman just offended/turned down and looking for a safer route," if she tries anything on the crossing you could probably blow her apart just by looking at her angrily.

***

Jackdaw!

What preparations need to be double-and-triple-checked on Coleman's lovely raft? Because it's amazing, yes, especially with the limited supplies he had to hand, but there's always something worth worrying about, and where oh where are you going to perch? And maybe you should leave sooner rather than later, what with the way the locals are giving you all the stink eye after you managed to make their god appear and then immediately swan off back into the water.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Thanqol
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"Ooooohhhhhhhhh," said Ailee turning about, one hand cupped around her mouth and the other waving in the air to face the witch-felid. "Your lame garbage elemental chickened out at the first glimpse of me. Where's your god now? Where's your god now?"

A flashback: Adorable young Ailee punching a fellow primary school student in order to steal their 'most graceful winner' medal.

"Coleman! Good on you for not playing dumb pagan games!" she said, walking over. "Honestly, I see so many grad students selling their souls for so much less than they're worth. Like, have you heard of self respect!? Are we going down that way?"
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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Rafts are nice. Rafts are simple. You can figure out what you need to do with a raft without making a complete fool of yourself. And since Jackdaw was really rather sick of feeling like a fool, she silently reviewed the raft's ability to remain a raft, doing her best not to wince visibly when Ailee kept making everything worse.

And, in that sense, it's not really worrying. That's not the word for it. It's business. Something useful to occupy her paws with while she ducked away from everything else for a little while. There's knots to test, oars to inspect, seals to make watertight (it won't do any good if they lose thrust around the smokestack) and a hundred other little tasks.

As to her perch, there's really no other place but Sasha. Maybe in the crook of one of her arms? It's always nice and warm there, and it'll keep her from getting too many errant splashes.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Count Numbers
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"Alright. I think it's safe to talk now. Now, I used to be a dab hand at sailing, but I'm not sure there's any wind or current. We're going to be at the mercy of the Flood, and we don't know they'll keep their bargain. Two things to worry about..." Lucien starts knotting a rescue line to the raft, looking for some driftwood for the other end of it. "Does anyone not know how to swim?"

+++

"Hate" (Rook, H8) was dead, shot in the back of the head through the chair... and Lucien hadn't thought twice about locking the door behind him, thought the old agent was just sleeping, and now the guards were breaking in. Had this been a setup? Had they known? Hate was still warm. Maybe-

The sealed brass tube is under the crackling logs in the fireplace. Who'd look for paper documents in a fireplace? Lucien's wearing gloves, thank God. He grabs it, then bolts for the one way out.

The door cracks. Guards are taking aim, but Lucien's already got shards of window against his arms. He's falling. Wasn't a chance to look if this was definitely the wall that was flush to the moat. He doesn't open his eyes to make sure.

Bullets crack the surface of the water behind him, then sink like pebbles. He rips the dead-weight jacket off, and swims for the drawbridge. There's air under here. At least it's summer. If he breaks for it now, he's got a minute headstart.

... he dropped the brass tube with his jacket, didn't he?

"Oh for fu-"

Down again into the black. Gloves, a riverbed, and only a vague idea of where to feel around...


+++

That was a memory he might do without.

"It might also be a good idea to write down what we're willing to sacrifice, just in case." He mutters. "Thoughts, memories. You don't have to show anyone, but we'll write it down and put it somewhere waterproof. We'll open them again at the other side, and if there's anything written we don't remember... we'll know what we gave up, at least."

Hesitation. Thoughtful frown.

"Actually. We probably should share them, too. I think. Between ourselves. Unless we give up our memories of each other, I think that's... that'd probably for the best." Seasick smile. "Might be fun?"
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