Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Thanqol
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Ailee is uncharacteristically silent. No jokes. No quips. No smiles of delight, declarations of intent, or expressions of impatience. She just looks at Lucien, looks at Coleman, and then ties the rope around herself as directed.

Even with the rumble of the train's engine, it's the quietest it's ever been down here.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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RESPONSE LEVEL: 5

***

Lucien!

Whoever made this place (if it was made at all, and not just spat up from the depths of the Heart fully formed; if it is not some trap, designed by a blind idiot predator to lure delicious adventurers inside) was really interested in three things: books, squids, and books being held by squids. The motif is everywhere; verdigrised tentacles weave their way between damp, overstuffed shelves, and vast beaks loom above doorways.

There was also an infestation of giant, barnacle-infested crabs. Emphasis on was; their mottled shells lie broken on the ground, each one easily half the size of you, crushed and corroded. Someone fought their way through here.

There are signs that the stacks have been rifled through, now that you’re looking more closely. Books lie discarded everywhere, though here and there are neat stacks, carefully aligned: The Cup of Fortune; The Cricketer’s Cup; Cuprum Tools of the Meronni; Owl Be Back: The Daring Adventures of Lucien Roue, Continued. Wait, what was that last?

You pick it up and flip through it idly: it ends with Lucien Roue walking up a stairway in the Tyrian Spire, setting off a trap, taking a holy pie to the face, and falling down the stairs screaming through a burning throat and trying to claw off his skin until an errant spur of weathered stone breaks his spine.

...charming!

There is an epilogue in which the Vainglorious Witch, the Drowned Seeker, the Promised Conductor and the Grail Questor set your body out on a spur of driftwood and set it alight from afar.

And that’s when the terrible, terrible noise comes from below.

***

Ailee!

When you pull Jackdaw up from the water, she’s too heavy. Dangerously so, in fact. But you put your back into it and haul her up into your arms. She feels like she’s made of lead. Waterlogged or not, she can’t be this heavy.

Though, really, thinking about it, this isn’t that bad. You were worried, like, a shark made out of trash would burst out of the water and try to tear your head off. More stupid parlor tricks from a stupid garbage goddess.

When Sasha runs, you’re pulled back onto the shore without a hitch, right up until Sasha hits a hard stop.

***

Coleman!

It’s something like a lobster, but put back together wrong, and with quite a few replacement parts. It’s the size of Sasha and then some, and it exploded up out of a hole in the floor, dragging its exoskeleton along the wet tiles. Exoskeleton, armor, shell— it has something fastened all around it, splintering rotten wood and cannons and salt-swollen ropes.

It fires a cannonade that brings Sasha down to one knee, a barrage of fire from one side of its body, belching out acrid smoke. It opens its mouth, showing a nightmare throat full of pincers and spines (so that fish or kobolds can’t swim back up and out) and screams: a terribly, horrifically person sound. Those eyes, too, rolling and crying thick salty tears— each and every one of them is a person’s eye.

Take Damage.

Hidden 2 mos ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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the world is q u i e t

all is
still

she
can

r
e
s
t
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Count Numbers
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So, frankly, all of this is terrible. But there's three things Lucien just learned from the book, if the book is true:

1) There are traps here that can be set off, at least one of them on the staircase involving a "holy pie".
2) The other person in the Spire would have assisted in his funeral. At the very least, that means they would be a friend.
3) That would make Jackdaw the "Drowned Seeker" - Implying she'd survive this.

"IF"; Lucien's suitably paranoid to wonder if the book itself is the trap. There's one way to test it, at least: Find the trap it predicted would have killed him, and don't get killed by it.

If it's as the book says, he can infer the "Grail Questor" is probably going to be a friend, and that there's a chance to save at least a part of Jackdaw. Also, whatever a 'holy pie' is, it sounds like the sort of thing that'd be a lot more effective against the undead(?) crab monster downstairs than his waterlogged revolver.

Find the trap = don't die to the trap = aim the trap at big crab monster = trust the book = trust the other person here is an ally, not another enemy = save Jackdaw.

Terrible as things are, that's still a hell of a lot to be hopeful for.

[Look Closely - 3, 4, +2 = 9]

"Is there something hidden or out of place" - Looking for hidden traps
"What will happen if I try to set the trap against the Wreck?"
Tell me more about the scenery here - the squid statues, the gigantic and overstuffed shelves of books. How could they help me? How could they hurt me? Essentially - If the trap idea's a bust, is there an even bigger bust that I'd be able to drop on the Wreck? A spire implies a lot of height, and everything you've been describing sounds tippable and heavy.

I find one of these things out the hard way.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Thanqol
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Ailee contemplates for a moment. Carefully turns Jackdaw on her side into the recovery position, opens her mouth and jams her fingers inside to induce vomiting. Then she lays her on her back and starts a percussive and remorseless regimen of violent compresses and mouth to mouth rescue breaths. She does not mess around or hold back or pay attention to anything else that's going on - it's a textbook cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

It is quite impossible to rest while this is happening.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Balmas
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Sasha rears, a steam-fuel bellow shrieking from her whistle, and Coleman lets loose an equally profane streak of curses as the motion throws him against a pressure gauge. Gingerly, he feels the spot and winces. Not bleeding, thank heaven, as he's not sure where he'd treat a head wound, but that's going to smart for days.

[Damaging Grace]

That soggy bitch. Watery tart! Soaking strumpet! Touch Sasha again, see what happens! Do you have any idea how many cuddles Sasha is going to demand for this? He's happy to give them, but that's not the issue! You hurt his baby!

And as Coleman starts to furiously manipulate the levers in the cockpit, it flits across his mind that it's probably for the best that Lucien isn't here to see this.

The first priority is to clear the area, because Sasha is already tired and whining under his touch. She needs rest and a space to burn her energy out.

Fortunately, she has a target on which to vent both her rage and her steam. At a pull of a stop, a hatch in the firebox opens and a jet of steam force-feeds meteors of molten coal down the lobster's stinking throat.

Coleman coughs and fans a hand across his face. And he'd thought the stench couldn't get any worse. But now soggy, wasted flesh is screaming, eyes melting, rope singing and catching alight, lobster reeling. One coal-peppered step at a time, the train forces the lobsster away from the group. Don't let up. Keep it on its toes. Don't let it retreat inside its shell, or make it so that it has to choose between coming after the little rodents behind him and protecting itself. Drive it towards the water. Keep it away from Sasha.

Yeah, definitely best Lucien doesn't see this.

[Keep Them Busy, 12.

Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Lucien!

A-ha! Here it is! A cunning, spidery mechanism has attached itself to the ceiling up in the stairs, its many girder-iron limbs tense, its vespine stinger tipped with a huge, crimson-crusted pie. You play a game of bobbie weavers with it, and when it finally loses its cool and stabs the pie at you, you're able to smoothly remove it. And that's when things start to go a little wrong: firstly, it opens its mouth and starts to let out an awful noise of pipe organs, causing clatterly cacophony upstairs from whoever set the trap, presumably the Grail Questant; secondly, the pie is hot. Very hot. Scorchingly hot. It is hellfire and condemnation, ghost peppers and crushed mace, and the steam off it is getting in your eyes.

Take Damage!

That being said, if you managed to get this somewhere sensitive on that horrible thing, it only stands to reason that the infernal fires of this pie, this wrathful punishment of the wicked and the merely shady, might overcome the watery nature of the beast. It's ridiculous, preposterous, and illogical, which means that by the rules of the Heart it's sure to work perfectly.

And as for the surroundings: really, that's a terrible idea. The decay's going hard here; if you start tipping things over and breaking things, you'll accelerate its descent into the Flood. This is, for what it's worth, a place where you can all catch your breath, probably. A place where you don't have to worry about losing memories or beautiful shoes. Start shoving statues over and you'll bring the whole place down!

***

Jackdaw!

You are at peace. You are shapeless, formless; you are water moving on water. You are remembered forever in the currents and the bed. Existence is painful; memory is painful; the Flood takes all these things from you as an act of love. In the depths there are no colors; in the deep places, there are no sufferings. There are no worries, there are no fears. There--

hurk.

There is a burning inside you, and a hammering on you. Your throat constricts as you vomit up: salt water, and barnacles, and a rusted jumping-jack, and sodden paper, and your throat burns with the expulsion. There are tears in your eyes as it all comes up, more and more, too much to fit inside of you, and with it all come memories flooding in, painful and sharp and angled, and not all of them yours. And then Ailee, in your face, smug as ever.

Do you feel saved, Jackdaw? Or do you feel bereft?

***

Coleman!

Amalgamation.

It is one of the great mysteries of the Heart. When one is transfixed by the eye of one of the great and terrible powers of the Heart, they change; their flesh becomes a canvas, and they become both more and less than what they were. Its study is one of the sciences you were never terribly good at, but it strikes you, as you fight, in some detached signal-box in your head, that this monster is the result of amalgamation. If you were able to study it, examine it and compare it to the shape of a train and some other subject, you might be able to discover secrets...

Secrets that might be the difference between failure and success when you reach the end of the line; when you reach Nexus; when you act as midwife.
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Count Numbers
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I scream, you scream, we all scream for eye screams! [-Sense]

Lucien's not a stoic. Why should he be? Not like he's trying to sneak up on the crab monster. And it's not like it's a small target, either. This is more of an agonized battlecry situation.

Rip some pages out of the Cricketer's Cup and use it as butcher's-paper oven mitts. At least it'll buy a few seconds.

The faster he can get the pie into the Wreck, the faster we can get these bloody fumes away from him. He can bandage his hands in his wet socks the second this thing's launched.

He charges back down the stairs into the fight, screaming a battlecry, half-blind and searing pain.

This is where the problems start.

[Finish Them - Kill them with Pie - 2, 2, +0 - 4 - Lose the Pie, Coleman is no longer Keeping them Busy, face retaliation]

First of all - Lucien has never, in his life, thrown a pie. He's seen it done though. The best way to do it is to hold your palm flat on the base of the pie tin, and cricket bowl it forwards. He holds the motion in his head clearly. He cocks his hand back.

The paper ovenmitt hits its smoke point, catching fire in his hand. He flubs the throw, the pie lands at the Wreck's pointy legs and smoulders almost harmlessly. It's the worst possible amount of harm to do.

It doesn't do enough to hurt the thing. But it definitely did enough to piss it off, and give it a new target. And now there's a fire between the Train and the Wreck, and stinging acrid smoke seperating the two.

The wreck turns to him. Lucien's legs won't move - he's done flight, he's done fight, and now he's up to freeze. He slips his scorched hands into his pockets and wears the soaking-wet socks as gloves. Standing there, hands in his pockets, he almost looks casual. He's just buying time. In his experience, things only know to chase you if you start running. They get confused when you don't.

He's eyeing the cannons through stinging, watery eyes.

"Please tell me none of you saw it reload?"

Woops. That twigged it. Might be time to run again.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Balmas
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What you need to understand about train crews is that most of them tinker with the engine at some point. What time isn't spent on cleaning, maintenance, the normal chores of living, or scouting and clearing the road ahead, is spent with a diagram in one hand, a welder in the other, and usually a mad glint in somebody's eyes. Engines bristle with add-ons and cannibalized scraps of the Heart until it's not clear which bits are natural and which bits aren't.

Mister Conagher doesn't like it. The Mighty Natascha gleams, and nothing is added unless the architect thereof can prove, in simple words, that it is beneficial, necessary, and reversable. If a train desires a flamethrower, it can communicate such as needed. Anything else is gilding the lily.

Thus far, Coleman has held similar views. What point exists in adding to perfection?

But, as his eyes flit between Sasha and the Wreck... No! His mind rebels at the very thought. Sasha's not old enough to communicate, much less choose.

But there is potential there. A train, capable of shrugging off blows that would cripple lesser engines and make mock of the Flood's threats? He can't help but peer just a little bit closer.

[9 on Look Closely:
-Tell me about Amalgamation. How could it hurt/help me?
-Is something hidden or out of place? If so, what looks suspicious?
-Tell me about the Wreck. What are they doing? What will they do next?

I find out one of these answers the hard way.]
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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How does she feel?

Her throat is burning up from the inside out. Every time she takes a breath, it’s a fight between coughing up a lung, and doubling up clutching at her bruised chest. She tastes sickness and acid and no amount of spitting will clear it away. She can’t wipe at her eyes because she already wiped at her mouth. Her paws reek. There’s...fighting? Somebody’s fighting? Coleman’s fighting, and she needs to get up. She’s soaked to the bone, she needs to dry her things. Ailee’s looking at her, and she needs to say something, and, and...

And just a moment ago, none of it was. And with each passing second, she loses hold of her peace, and cuts herself on familiar thoughts gripped tight. They needed somebody brave and strong and smart, and all that woke up was Jackdaw.

The word is lost. That is how she feels.

Numbly, she rummages through her cloak, and pulls out a short stick of polished wood, not much taller than her paw. She holds it close, and hoarsely whispers

“De...fend…”

At once, it sprung to life, growing several times in size and whipping through the air with a life of its own. It batters and prods at the Amalgamation, striving to keep it away from Coleman.

She already knew it wasn’t going to work. She didn’t need to see it fail.

But today was not a day for small mercies.

[Rolling to Keep It Busy: 4 + 1 + 1 = 6 It is a bad day for Jackdaw.]
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Thanqol
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You were under the mistaken impression that Ailee had been hitting you before. You were wrong - now she hits you, an open-palmed slap across the face. "Jackdaw! What the hell do you think you're doing!?" she snaps, snatching the stick from the semiconscious fox's fingers. "E-NUN-CEE-ATE! Defend! For heavens' sakes, this is what you get for blowing off my adventurer training!"

Ailee's 'adventurer training' had involved her bursting into your room in the middle of the night, putting a pistol in your mouth as you were struggling to wake up, and screaming at you to perfectly enunciate a defensive abjuration. In fairness, she'd put herself through the same 'testing' - more than once she'd had a weirdly fluent conversation with you with a mouth full of literal marbles and she'd only accidentally swallowed and almost choked on a marble once.

Today was not a day for small mercies - mercy made for poorly trained wizards!

[Assisting Jackdaw, moving that result to an 8.]
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Lucien!

The flying stick (which, at this size, is more like a clacks pole, if we're being honest) slams into the monster's outstretched limb, knocking its aim aside. The retort of its discharge is deafening, and you are showered with fluttering bits of ruined spine and paper as it gouges a hole in the already ruined bookshelves. Boom, boom! You got to stare death in the face, haha! Isn't that moment when you realize you're still alive... isn't it exhilarating?

And if it's not, if you're trying not to curl up in a ball and cry, what's keeping you here in the fray, rather than running as far as you can and scraping your way back up to the surface?

***

Coleman!

Amalgamation! It is both a threat and a necessity. You've seen it yourself on the trains, when nails turn to brass and Engineers become more engine than man. The powers at play within the Heart are so vast that they impress themselves on the inhabitants like a pattern into wet clay. Each of you have your own defenses against it, if you're intelligent, though Ailee's defense is "I'm already claimed, suckers." She might even be able to do the opposite: to impress herself on King Dragon. If anybody could, it would be her.

Careful! Watch the claw!

You'll have to do that, too. To get Sasha to hatch properly in Terminus. It'll be much more, ah, equal than most cases. You'll become more like her; she'll awaken fully and become a little more like you. That's why you've been chosen for this honor. You won't flinch when you reach the end of the line.

As for something hidden? Ah, there it is! You've figured out the location of the Descent; a thin place, where you can lower yourself into a deeper region of the Heart. The problem is that it's down a side stairwell, one that the Wreck's cannons just blew open, and the smell of rot and decay's wafting up from it. You're going to have to dare the wrath of the Flood one more time... but it's not the end of the world! You've got options!

Speaking of options, the Wreck's hunkering down, withdrawing into its shell. The harder you attack, the more you risk setting off a very, very bad explosion. Putrid powder is scattered all around, and the slightest thing could set it off. Really, it's lucky Lucien didn't land that pie dead on.

***

Ailee!

"Well said, Miss Sundish! You always did have the pragmatic edge needed for real work." Squeak, squeak, squeak. The saddest sight in the world comes ambling up to you, the slap of his oversized shoes on the puddles comical and distressing in equal measure. Professor Hamptonshire, your former advisor, lost to the Heart and his own obsessions.

He's clean-shaven for the first time in decades, the better for slathering on the face-paint. What little hair he has remaining has been fluffed up and curled in neon blue, and he wears the traditional armor of the Grail-Questant, smeared in the wicked paints of the Dark Carnival. His eyes are watery brown, floating in those sharp diamonds, and in his hand he has a nail-studded bat. "It's just a shame you never followed my arguments to their conclusion."

Hamptonshire's all consumed with death anxiety, see. The word immortality hooked in his spine, making him ignore the counter-arguments to seeking the Grail: the Ship of Heaven (if you replace something piece by piece, when does it stop being the original?) and the fact that immortality in the depths of the Heart is worse than dying up above. The fool threw away the chance to pursue real power because he lost all the hair on top of his head and started needing to walk with a cane. And, to his credit, it looks like he hardly needs the cane anymore, not after pursuing the Fools' Mysteries all this time.

***

Jackdaw!

You never turned in your final paper on Comparative Alchemy in Hamptonshire's class, due to his suddenly closing his office and selling everything he owned in order to fund a descent into the Heart. But you've still got it in your collection, somewhere. You should make him grade it! But, then again, was it really worth grading in the first place? Surely you've learned more on the subject! Except that now that you're on the spot, your head's empty. Oh no! This is just like the nightmares!

Except for the hideous monster over there. Weirdly, that wasn't in the nightmares. Or, well, it might be more accurate to say it's not in your nightmares yet!
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Count Numbers
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The decay's going hard here; if you start tipping things over and breaking things, you'll accelerate its descent into the Flood.

you are showered with fluttering bits of ruined spine and paper as it gouges a hole in the already ruined bookshelves




What's keeping you here in the fray, rather than running as far as you can and scraping your way back up to the surface?


There is an extremely good case to be made that this is much better than what would be waiting for a reformed spook in a deposed government back on the surface. The stay-behind operations of monarchies tend to involve the people who grew up with a scientific certainty in how many legs you could pull off a spider while keeping it indefinitely alive. Cats, too. Other children. Etc.

Every thing he passes on his way Down is another thing between him and Them; Maybe he'll find a place to retire in the Heart, when the dangers ahead scare him more than the dangers behind.

Until that happy day:

[Get Away; 1, 3, +1 = 5 - Wait. Voice of Reason*. 4, 3 +1 = 8 - Oh thank goodness]
[I get there quickly, avoiding harm]

"So glad you're alive, Jackdaw!"

Lucien pulls a flick-knife as he runs, slicing the tops off his sock-gloves so he can wriggle his fingers out through them - thumb holes are more complicated, thumbs can wait for later, already doing his best to duck and weave falling books without losing a finger

"Ha! And with your mind intact! Ha ha! Fantastic! Was very worried! Join the fun, then!"

This should be enough to work a trigger, though, and he doesn't know for sure the bullets are useless yet. Neither should anything he's pointing the pistol at.

"Last chance, any reasons not to run, anyone?"

He breaches into the blasted side staircase and shouts back what he sees to the rest of the Fellowship. Hopefully he hasn't found the reason, himself.

* (The rest of the party ignored Lucien's advice when they ripped Jackdaw out of the Flood without waiting for a confirmed escape route, or making sure her whole mind was going to come back with her, first. No complaints; We're glad they did.)
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Thanqol
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"Your arguments were the bloated ego-filled pomposity of someone who axiomically assumed that given the span of eternity he'd someday learn to magic his way out of a rotting hemp sack," said Ailee Sundish. "And while in most cases I would agree that the mathematical concept of infinity does by nature suggest that anything is possible, the Hamptonshire Constant states that the kind of person who has a mid-life crisis at eighty five, realizes that they've done nothing with all the resources of Grand Jelt's greatest university at their fingertips, and so decides to walk directly into the chomping teeth of the nearest consortium of evil clowns, has such a lack of talent that they can cancel out even the positive effects of infinity."

She rolled her neck, getting to her feet and rather rudely rubbing the hand covered in Jackdaw's barf off on Hamptonshire's hideous armour. She's basically doing him a favour if it causes him to wash it.

"Anyway, congrats on finally learning what I figured out on day two at the university. Shame you stopped there, but hey, by coming down here and dressing like the contents of a sick bucket after a hotdog and mayonnaise eating contest you're still probably the smartest of all my former teachers. So, can I get some directions? I want to leave this place and I figure you're the kind of person to know where the door is even if it's just so you can wistfully stare at it and imagine how cool it'd be if you had the courage to go through it."

She wasn't quite this rude to her teachers when she was in school - she had to walk the intensely frustrating line of showing them the bare minimum amount of respect required to not get expelled, and in some cases that was still quite a lot of respect. It felt good to be honest at last.
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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The word is aughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

That’s it. That’s all the words she has. If you want something better, ask someone better. The amount of things happening has only gotten more happening, which was the opposite of what she wanted. And now they’re sending the teachers back after her even though they kicked her out! Shouldn’t that mean no more homework? Shouldn’t it?!

So she did the one thing she knew how to do, that was - generally - good for emergencies like this one:

“Aileeeeee!” She stood up. Wobbled. Fell in the muck again. Pulled herself back up. “We need a way out, not more angry!!!”
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Coleman grins, and jams a lever forward, sending another spray of fireballs to cut off the wreck from advancing further. "Jackdaw! Glad to see you survived, and still have your common sense! Exit, there, at your leisure, because this thing is about to boom!"

It's the worst game of keep-away imaginable. Poke it too much, it goes boom. Don't poke it enough, and it eats your friends. So he's doing his best to scare it, if that's even a possible thing to do, without actually hitting it. He's backing up, trying to keep himself between his friends and the wreck, but he's still backing up. Come on, people, down the hole! Now would be good!
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Lucien!

The sight is awe-inspiring. Or dreadful. One of the two. There is another whirlpool, far, far below: the roaring of water tells you that much. The stairs themselves are deeply, deeply unsafe: slick, viciously sharp spurs of dark black rock, draped in mildewing carpet and pocked by chunks of broken masonry fallen from the ceiling.

The good news is that it’s easily vast enough to fit the train larva(?) inside, if Coleman doesn’t mind a tight squeeze. The bad news is that it is also vast enough for that monster to follow behind you. The worst news is that anyone who tries running down here is just begging to have their skull split open. Slow and steady is the only way to go: but, again, that means you might as well walk back outside and rub yourself down in butter for the appetite of whatever that thing is.

***

Ailee!

You’ve already figured out how this conversation is going to go in your head. “Well, I never,” Professor Hamptonshire will say. “That’s quite unbecoming of a young lady,” he’ll add, his patronizing pride pricked. “I actually need your help,” he’ll say, “But I’ll do what I can with my silly clown tricks to distract the monster after I tell you the way out.”

You have made the one fatal mistake of forgetting that he has been learning how to be a clown. And the clowns have lots and lots of things to say about the holy meaning of rage.

Smack, goes his fist in your face. Crack, goes the bat over your head, while you stagger back. Crack, it goes again over your shoulders, shoving a nail somewhere tender.

“SHUT UP,” he froths. “YOU PATHETIC LITTLE SHREW. I’VE FORGOTTEN MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW.”

“...I have, haven’t I?” He turns melancholy again, and philosophically rams his oversized shoe into your solar plexus with a pathetic squeak. “No, man up, Hamptonshire. Sacrifices must be made. Now, forgive an old man,” he says, turning to Jackdaw: “I seem to have misplaced your name, young lady.”

Take damage, and be aware that can happen again.

***

Coleman!

Oh fuck, it’s a clown.

Wait, no, it’s a seeker of the Grail. Still bad. Maybe even worse, if they’re overcompensating.

Clowns are terrible passengers. They’ll laugh while beating you to death with a gaudily painted hammer if you piss them off, and once the bloodlust hits it starts spreading non-stop, until you’ve got an entire congregation ripping arms off train staff and honking their damn noses.

The only reason to even give them a hand is that their Ringmaster, a monster of a holy roller (several thousand years old, doesn’t look a day over thirty-five), is both very generous with his friends and very, very vindictive with anybody who pisses him off. Remember the Vladislav?

Yeah. Exactly.

Help them out, and they’ll be a pain, but if they don’t get themselves killed, the Ringmaster will remember. Kill them, and fail (seriously, clowns are like cockroaches) and that will be remembered, too. So if you mean to kill them, make damn sure they’re dead.
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Judgement is a terrible weapon in service of vice.

Here and now it flows through Ailee in regal violet and white, the impressions of robes and scepters and the skulls of birds and men. It reaches across into his body and muscles and forcibly fills them with sloth and cowardice. He pulls his strikes against his will. He cravenly backs down when she glares at him. An assault of fury and rage is diluted, watered down, transformed into the sad flailing of an old man who should have known better. Trying to batter your way past her holy words of Judgement? You may as well be striking the shadow in your own heart. You are who she says you are, old man, and she says you are no one.

(The energy crackles up her own arm as well. Judgement hates being wrong. Enforcing this reality has a cost.)

[Overcome: 8, damaging Pride for a lasting solution. Next roll is made with hope.]

And like a winter wind through the streets of the capital she snaps out like a serpent, taking the bat from him and cracking it over one knee. She takes the shoe from him next and hurls it over her shoulder into the river. All the violence that broke an unsatisfactory outcome coalesces in a terrible crackling hammer of violet, Judgement made manifest. It is an ungodly weapon hypersaturated with the vice that rules the deepening realms, a weapon angels would fear to cross.

"STAND BACK, JACKDAW," said Ailee, evidently not taking that 'less angy' bit to heart. "WE'RE GOING TO CONDUCT SOME EXPERIMENTS ON CLOWN IMMORTALITY."
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Count Numbers
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Count Numbers

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"No good! Backs to the wall, and fight like it!" Lucien shouts before turning around and seeing-

[Get Away with Hope; 4, 6, +1 = 11]
[Fast, while Avoiding Harm, I take someone with me]

Lucien doesn't pause to think - he's working against Ailee here, after all - and darts back to the fray, shoulder charging Professor Pagliacci in the gut, knocking the wind out of him, knocking him off Ailee...

...straight up into a fireman-carry, never stopping for a moment, weaving away from the biggest active threat right now, and also the Wreck. Hoping keeping his shoulder in the clown's solar plexus is going to stop him getting his breath back a few more seconds.

"Big fan of your work," Lucien's smile is tight-lipped, hiding gritted teeth, "did you know we're friends, you and I? Isn't that right? Fantastic friends. Love clowns. Worked with a lot of them. My favourite made me call him 'Your Majesty', would you believe? Dead, now. Probably not my fault. Making more of an effort with you."

Lucien's journey ends in an alcove behind a large squid-statue, with the Wreck between them and Ailee, and the bulk of the statue between them and the Wreck. He drops the Grail Questor down and takes some deep, gulping breaths in. The kind where you just grab your knees and feel your whole back rise to meet your neck.

Bloody hell.

Shit. Fuck. Piss.

Okay.

"Sorry about that, buddy. Fancy a chat?"

Hidden 1 mo ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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TheAmishPirate Horse-Drawn Tabletop

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"Hey! Hey!"

Judgement's mighty sleeve gets the tugging of a lifetime.

"Can we experiment on that thing first?!" Using a paw to point would mean one less paw holding onto Ailee, and right now Jackdaw needed as many paws as possible (pawsible? is that a word?) holding onto Ailee. So she jerks her head furiously towards the Wreck, and oh no bad idea bad idea the dizziness nearly floors her all over again.
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