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File 156393346605.png - (177.57KB , 533x700 , 10-1.png )
940228 No. 940228 ID: 7816e7

18+ adult content
Chapter 10: Heart of the Mountain

First thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/860238.html
Wiki: https://tgchan.org/wiki/Moot_Point
Previous thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/932953.html
282 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 945618 ID: 10c408

>>945611
Well, it was an enclosed space until the hidden entrance was moved very slightly.

In any case, the air is probably rushing out now.

Check the stairs very carefully, and be mindful of the wall carvings as you work your way down the chamber to the box like object.
>>
No. 945630 ID: 91ee5f

>>945606
>booby traps
Who here thinks Gabe is going to start giggling and making jokes about boobs being traps?
>>
No. 945649 ID: f57349

Consider skipping past the possible wall traps by opening a portal directly to the central platform.
>>
No. 945651 ID: ce39da

Was there air rushing out of the hole you made outside? If so, we should probably plug that up.
>>
No. 945793 ID: 7816e7
File 156945781188.png - (160.68KB , 541x700 , 10-90.png )
945793

“Careful, stay close to the wall, guys...” Delilah motions them over with the flare. They stick together, carefully tracing step by step down to the platform illuminated from below.

“Who would have thought this mountain was hollow?” Mr Ochre wonders aloud, craning to peek over the edge. “And what could be making that glow?”

As if to answer him, light pierces the wall ahead of them. They freeze in place, breaths held in their masks, letting the seconds tick by as nothing happens. Delilah slowly stands up from her cautious crouch and approaches the source.

She peers into the recessed diamond shape cut into the stone, finding a flat, translucent tile that glows from within, casting a pale greenish light over the stairway. “Its some kind of magelight. Lets keep going...”

As the descend, their hands trace the stone, finding impossibly thin seams in the wall. The stones seem to have been carved to hook together, using their own weight to form a rigid structure rather than using mortar.
>>
No. 945794 ID: 7816e7
File 156945781705.png - (97.59KB , 700x350 , 10-91.png )
945794

The reach the end of the staircase: a flat landing that connects to a large, central pillar with a heavy stone bridge. Broken iron chains dangle uselessly over the edge, indicating whoever built the structure was at least somewhat safety conscious.

Gabe shuffles anxiously and mutters, “Guys, should we be worried about traps or anything?”

“I think the whole reason behind this place is its sheer inaccessibility. We should definitely keep our eyes out, but something tells me the mountain itself is enough to discourage most visitors.” Casey explains. “But who knows? Vampire lords were very protective of their secrets.”
>>
No. 945795 ID: b1b4f3

>>945794
That platform should be an elevator, since there's what looks like a button connected to a clearly marked central area.
I see some T-shaped markings on the floor of the bridge. Maybe try poking at them with a tendril.
>>
No. 945809 ID: a9af05

>>945795
This
>>
No. 945810 ID: e7848c

>>945794
Can Gabe inspect the dias through a portal?
>>
No. 945838 ID: 7fb87a

>>945794
>>945810
a closer look with a portal is also a good test if portals are being blocked
>>
No. 945850 ID: ce39da

Let's try not to be too frivolous with the portals; Gabe's not an infinite mana tap.
>>
No. 945861 ID: e6f10c

>>945850
Yes, let us not act like Gabe can Gate without limits. Gotta be frugal with his mana just in case he has to make a emergency Gate.

Now, considering the number of ways that the central pillar could be reached without using the bridge that were available in the age this place was made, (including but not limited to flying, gliding, levitating, and Gating,) putting a trap on the bridge does not seem like the most sensible place for one. That doesn't mean don't check for pressure plates and the like on the bridge, but we must consider that if there are traps then they'll be of a magical type. That means they could sense people entering a area without any visual or physical indication that the trap is there.

Also, the most sensible place to locate a trap would be on the pillar elevator platform itself or on the controls for the pillar elevator. That's the two locations anyone trying to get in via the elevator would have to be. And I would not be surprised if the elevator controls are locked too, possible with a code or by biometrics.

Anyway, I'd suggest Casey feels ahead with her mana tentacles and uses them to manipulate anything we encounter here from a distance. That way if they trigger a trap it'll be less likely someone will be hurt.
>>
No. 945862 ID: 91ee5f

>>945794
What is Mr Ochre leaning on? Is that a pickaxe? Let’s use that to poke the odd “T” shaped floor tiles on the bridge to check and see if they’re traps.

>>945861
>I'd suggest Casey feels ahead with her mana tentacles
Let’s not instantly jump to using magic to solve all of our problems. Casey has a limit on how much mana she can use, the same way Gabe has a limit on how much he can open gates.

Let’s try a non magical solution, so that everyone can save their mana for emergencies.
>>
No. 945864 ID: b1b4f3

...true, we could just poke it with a stick.
>>
No. 945865 ID: a9af05

>>945862
>Let’s try a non magical solution, so that everyone can save their mana for emergencies.
Good idea.
>>
No. 945999 ID: 7816e7
File 156971665260.png - (95.89KB , 700x371 , 10-92.png )
945999

“I’ll go first, I do believe I am the lightest among us.” Mr. Ochre steps out onto the bridge, poking at the razor thin seams between stones with his ice axe. “Seems fine to me...”

About halfway across the bridge, a crack rings out like a gunshot as one of the titanic stones slips loose from its neighbors with a grinding sound.

Cecil mutters, “Oh, bugger me...” and freezes in place
>>
No. 946003 ID: cb6404

>>945999

Moving back to our friends might be safest ...?
>>
No. 946007 ID: e7848c

>>945999
He better start moving forward or he's going to have to expect a sudden landing after Gabe opens a gate under him.
>>
No. 946012 ID: ce39da

He didn’t step on the stone that came loose? That displays less malicious entrapment, and more compromised structural integrity. The elevator itself should be stable, so Mr. Ochre should proceed. It might be an isolated stone coming loose, so let’s not jump to the portal solution just yet.
>>
No. 946025 ID: e6f10c

>>946012
>That displays less malicious entrapment, and more compromised structural integrity.
Yeah. Considering all the stonework here seems to be just fitted blocks then any geological shifting since they were built could have weakened them.

Cecil should move on ahead with as much speed as he safely can while checking his footing ahead of him. At the same time Casey should advance, since she can use her aura tentacles to grab Cecil if the floor drops out from under him, as well as use them to haul him and herself back up if the whole bridge falls apart. Better figure out anchor points for her if that happens. No time to hammer any in, and doing so might weaken the structure more. Kol and Delilah will have to act as the anchors for Casey.
>>
No. 946026 ID: b1b4f3

Once Cecil is on the other side the team can throw a rope over to tie to something so we have a more secure crossing.
>>
No. 946041 ID: ce12d1

“like a gunshot" guns exist in this universe?
I think Cecil should stop further movement, while Casey has her aura ready. Otherwise if anything does happen after he moves forward it's going to be difficult to reach him.
>>
No. 946046 ID: a9af05

>>945999
At least it isn't a trap laid by whoever built this place, it was simple a trap that was laid in place by time and no maintenance to keep it secure.

Cecil is so close to the other side, he might as well continue walking over there as carefully as possible.
>>
No. 946232 ID: 7816e7
File 156997391521.png - (166.46KB , 700x597 , 10-93.png )
946232

"Cecil, keep moving!" Casey yells. "I've got you!"

The bird shuffles forward, feeling the stones shift beneath his feet. "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!"

Casey extends a hand and unwinds her binding spell. The coil rolls outward, lifting Mr. Ochre off of his feet and giving him the added push needed to bring him to safety.

The stones grind to a halt against one another as a chain falls somewhere into the depths with a clink of metal.

Cecil picks himself up and dusts off his legs. "Well… that was invigorating! Thank you for the save, Casey."
>>
No. 946235 ID: b1b4f3

>>946232
Well, everyone else needs to get across. We gotta either use some rope or a portal.
>>
No. 946236 ID: e6f10c

Good thing we've got Casey along, even though the bridge didn't collapse in the end. Still, it could have and we don't have unlimited mana either. Better use mundane means of safety to get everyone across now.

Run two ropes across the bridge and anchor 'em at both ends. That way y'all will have a backup in case one pops loose. Then the group can cross one by one, hooked to the ropes as they go. Having Kol and Delilah hold the ends of the ropes before they cross will provide additional support as well.
>>
No. 946237 ID: 2dbe9a

The way those stones have moved make me think this is some sort of contraption. Can you hear anything else moving? Any changing in the light?
>>
No. 946291 ID: 7816e7
File 157006294843.png - (141.79KB , 700x535 , 10-94.png )
946291

“Thank the Fates, he’s okay.” Delilah sighs. “Gabe can you just gate us over there? I think it’d probably be safer.”

Mr. Ochre looks up from the pedestal as Gabe’s portal booms in the cavern. “Come see! There’s runes that appear when you approach!”

“Can you read them?” Casey asks.

“No. I can’t say I’ve ever encountered these before.”
>>
No. 946292 ID: 7816e7
File 157006295316.png - (122.09KB , 700x439 , 10-95.png )
946292

“They look kind of familiar...” Kol mentions. “The Path of the Mediums uses a runic structure like that.”

“Do any of them make sense?”

He points to three. “This one looks like ‘garden’... this one is ‘vessel’ or something hollow... and this, I think, means ‘help’.”
>>
No. 946294 ID: b1b4f3

>>946292
Seems appropriate to try the "help" rune first. Is the middle thing a dial? Or do we touch a rune to select it?
>>
No. 946297 ID: cb6404

>>946292

Destinations? A gating mechanism? Hmmmmmm ...
>>
No. 946299 ID: 2fa945

>>946292
This seems like transport vessel. Try garden first to confirm it takes you to a garden
>>
No. 946342 ID: ce39da

... Don't tell me this also only works with lichfire... In any case, see if you can get "help" to work. If you must use that harmful magic, do so; I don't think its use, to begin with, is damaging to your soul or anything, but an exorbitant amount of mana is wasted in the course of its casting due to its nature. That's just my theory, anyway. We should probably think about consulting with good ol' uncle about it sometime soon.
>>
No. 946345 ID: ce12d1

"help"...this place has an assistance center? Majical help manual? Who'd have thought this is such a customer-friendly place? Let's see what can of help we are able to get here.
>>
No. 946354 ID: 10c408

>>946345
This place was built by vampires. "help" will likely be some form of security feature or personnel that will either arm itself or take umbrage with a bunch of mortals traipsing about the place.

Look around the edges of the platform for further structural instability and then try pushing the rune marked "garden"
>>
No. 946494 ID: 7816e7
File 157023783719.png - (131.94KB , 700x500 , 10-96.png )
946494

“Huh, why don’t we start with ‘help’?” Casey suggests.

“That makes sense.” Kol reaches out and turns the dial. A pulse of light flickers through the pedestal and the block of stone rumbles slightly.

The giant block slowly detaches itself from the crumbling bridge and hangs in space perfectly still. Everyone watches as the stone blocks tumble into the abyss like the dice of the Fates.

The crashes of broken rock fade away and Gabe manages a muffled “Oops.”
>>
No. 946495 ID: 7816e7
File 157023784327.png - (127.10KB , 500x700 , 10-97.png )
946495

The hovering platform starts to descend, moving smoothly into the depths of the mountain. The group clings to one another uncertainly as the ancient tunnel flashes by, lit by chunks of glowing green crystal.

“Ugh anybody else getting hotter?” Gabe pushes back the hood of his coat and pulls his goggles off.

Delilah follows suit, “Yeah its definitely warming up. Feel that breeze too? The air is thicker down here...”
>>
No. 946502 ID: b1b4f3

Makes sense. Even unintentionally, if the operational structure of the spire is at a lower elevation, it will be more inhabitable. We could stop using the feathers until it's time to leave (or not even exit the same way)
>>
No. 946504 ID: 9f5bef

Let Delilah make the call whether it's safe to save our feather-air and drop the masks.
>>
No. 946552 ID: 83bf07

This wouldn't happen to be a volcano, would it?
>>
No. 946585 ID: e6f10c

The group should take a peek over the edges of the elevator platform to try and see what y'all are heading towards.

Resist the temptation to pull your air masks off immediately. Just because there's more air doesn't mean it's good, breathable air. There's all manner of ways the air down here could have gone bad. Especially if this place reaches all the way down to magma, since volcanoes are known to put out all kinds of nasty gasses.

To test the air, have one person unseal their mask, shut off their air feather canister and breathe for a minute or two. Another person should stand by to reseal the tester's mask and reopen their air feather canister if the tester has a adverse reaction. And Delilah or Gabe shouldn't test the air, since whoever does so may need healing and we also can't risk our only Sender being incapacitated.

If the air checks out, then all but one of the group can remove their masks and shut off their air supply canisters. Delilah should keep hers on in case we hit a pocket of bad air that knocks out the group faster than they can put their air gear back on.

Otherwise, everyone should unbutton, open or remove their clothes until they feel comfortable in the rising heat. Better do so quickly, before y'all sweat 'em up in case the group has to leave the way y'all came in. Sweaty, wet cold weather gear will become icy and frigid once in the extreme cold, so gotta keep 'em dry.
>>
No. 946694 ID: 7816e7
File 157048868727.png - (121.15KB , 700x598 , 10-98.png )
946694

“You don’t think this thing is, like, a volcano do you?”

“I believe that’s unlikely. The current understanding is that whoever created the highpeaks used some form of geomancy to pull the earth into shape. None of the terrain surrounding the area has shown any signs of volcanic activity.”” Mr. Ochre points out. He tugs at his jacket, “Although I agree it is getting quite warm...” 

“What do you think, Del? Is it safe to strip down a bit?”

“No sense in getting heatstroke. Go for it.” Experimentally, she takes off her mask and sniffs. “Hmm... musky but breathable.” 
>>
No. 946695 ID: 7816e7
File 157048869219.png - (96.47KB , 700x377 , 10-99.png )
946695

As the party stashes away their heavy weather gear, the stone slab starts to slow. As it drifts in for a landing, it slots neatly into a square hole cut into the ground. 

The group stares. Scattered across the cavern is a shantytown composed of stone and adobe. The village is composed of dozens of roughly square structures, with very few standing more than 2 meters tall. There are clearly two architectural styles on display: newer wattle and daub walls and ceilings placed over or incorporating much older, and sophisticated stonework. Nearby, a few of the larger blocks from the collapsed bridge occupy shallow craters. 

The village is deathly silent. The musk Delilah mentioned is stronger here, showing clear evidence of life somewhere in the cavern. 
>>
No. 946706 ID: b1b4f3

>>946695
I think you found "the help".
Approach one of the shanties and knock.
>>
No. 946710 ID: e6f10c

This looks like it might have been the quarters for the servants, or "help," that lived here. Really hope that if anyone was living down here none of them got crushed or maimed by the collapsed bridge. It's bad enough you crushed some of their homes, even inadvertently. Accidentally killing or harming any of the locals would be way worse. But if this place is deserted, then hope nothing that'd help with your quest got crushed.

The heavy cold weather gear can be stashed in Gabe's "portable closet." Keep the air gear out but not active, just in case of bad air pockets or the air pressure dropping too low down here over time due to breaking the seal up top.

Better inspect the site of the bridge impact first on the slim chance someone got trapped under the falling stone and is still alive. If there is then you can save and heal them. If there's nobody there, or nobody still alive, then check out the nearest buildings for any locals and work your way around the site until you've either found someone or checked all the buildings. And stick together. Last thing we need is a member of the group getting split off and in trouble alone.

Watch for any signs of recent habitation. Fresh food, lack of dust on surfaces, that sort of thing.

Anybody in the group heard about folks living underground with no contact with the outside before? Maybe even whole subterranean civilizations? Mr. Ocher?
>>
No. 946714 ID: 7dd1d8

>>946695
Check for movement. Ears open. Kol, can you project and see if there's any life in these buildings?
>>
No. 946729 ID: e6f10c

>>946714
Good idea. Gabe would have to set up a spirit ward to protect Kol's body while his soul is out and about, but it'd be worth it for the speed Kol could go and being able to pass through solid objects to search the place.

Out-of-body Kol ought to sweep the bridge impact zone first for anyone alive and injured or trapped. If anyone is there that needs aid then Delilah or Casey can run over to help 'em while Kol continues checking the rest of the buildings.
>>
No. 946731 ID: 91ee5f

>>946729
Isn’t there a risk that something down here could actually harm Kol’s spirit while it’s out of his body?

I mean, I know nothing we’ve run into before has been able to touch his spirit, but I’ve got a feeling that if there is anything that can touch his spirit, we’d definitely find it here.
>>
No. 946765 ID: a5e0db

>>946731
Hm. Right, right. And it violates the whole "no splitting up the party" rule too. Yeah, safer and better to stick together while searching the place.
>>
No. 946768 ID: cc6788

>>946765
This assumes that Kol doesn't know how to defend himself in spirit form. Or that he doesn't immediately flee at the first sign of non-physical danger.
>>
No. 946779 ID: cb6404

>>946695

Smells like zombuddies.
>>
No. 946795 ID: 7816e7
File 157058967282.png - (124.26KB , 588x700 , 10-100.png )
946795

“Seems empty. We should be careful though.” Casey squints at the village with suspicion. “I hope nobody got hurt when the bridge came down.”

“I could check.” Kol offers, sitting down and preparing to enter a spirit walk. “Gabe, can you give me a ward? We don’t know what might be down here.”

Gabe nods and focuses, creating a red glow around the edge of the elevator.

Closing his eyes, Kol steps out of his body and floats momentarily in front of them. “I won’t be long, I’ll just circle around and see what I can spot.” Gabe opens the ward for him to pass through and the ghostly mouse takes off on his journey.
>>
No. 946796 ID: 7816e7
File 157058969087.png - (193.00KB , 700x700 , 10-101.png )
946796

The ghostly figure sweeps low over the tiny houses, phasing through walls in search of life. Checking the ruins beneath the fallen stones, he finds the remains of some kind of storehouse. Scattered about are dried fungi, broken pottery and scurrying insects making a break for freedom.

Satisfied there’s no casualties, he phases into some of the houses, finding small, low beds and simple accommodations carved from stone or woven from some form of natural fibers. All of the structures appear to be empty.
>>
No. 946797 ID: b1b4f3

Nobody home, but what's that green thing? Let's check it out.
>>
No. 946798 ID: 958d59

>>946796
We have our target. That cube and that bowl. Were those mushrooms picked recently?
>>
No. 946807 ID: e3730d

What's behind the table, on the same wall as the door?
>>
No. 946817 ID: 3ce8ff

>>946797
i think it is just a light?
>>
No. 946819 ID: e6f10c

Inspect the food in the houses. If there is recently prepared food that isn't dried or otherwise preserved, that means there were people living here. Most likely they fled to a safer or more defensible position when the bridge chunks impacted. We ought to inspect the exits from this chamber for signs of recent mass movement to try and pick up their trail.

Return to the group and report your findings and be relieved that nobody was hurt or killed by the bridge collapse.
>>
No. 946822 ID: f57349

Now that we've found a habitable environment, would it make any sense to drop a beacon here, write down those runes from the elevator controls (or take a picture or something) and portal back to the library to attempt a more thorough translation? If the main reason we're rushing in is strategic time pressure, it'd be really embarrassing to miss something like a clearly-labeled "mana well maintenance" level.
>>
No. 946823 ID: 8226f2

Hm. Interesting. The undead lord had living serfs. I mean, given, it seems like plenty of the undead used to be on pretty chill terms with living people back in the day.
Still, if there's anyone still alive, and they've been living down here since the old days....there's no telling how they'll react to your presence. Making contact should be a priority now, but boy howdy do be cautious.
>>
No. 946842 ID: 7816e7
File 157067439666.png - (115.58KB , 700x700 , 10-102.png )
946842

Kol sweeps the room, eyeing the spilled bowl. Freshly cut mushrooms ooze onto the floor and mix with some kind of exotic grain: this was spilled recently. 

Evidence in hand, he turns to leave and rebounds against something. 

“What? What is this? Gabe, are you messing around with wards?” Dazed, the ethereal mouse backs off to examine the barrier and finds himself hemmed in on all sides.
>>
No. 946843 ID: 7816e7
File 157067440250.png - (159.20KB , 700x700 , 10-103.png )
946843

Glowing crystal walls converge around him, shrinking and squeezing the hapless figure within. Without a physical body, Kol finds himself condensed into a dense vapor, caged within a fist sized construct of energy. 

Kol fights back a rising panic as a scaled hand reaches out and clasps his prison. 
“Well, well, well. What have we here?”
>>
No. 946844 ID: 2df440

“Well hey there, cutie~. You’ve definitely caught my eye!”
cue finger guns
>>
No. 946845 ID: 028f23

This is the exact time to draw on those wellsprings of self-control and temperance you've developed, mate. This is a bad situation, but panicking can literally only make it harder to salvage.
Are you able to tell if they're undead or something different? They seem to have some sort of crystal prosthesis or focus, but it could be a totally different kind than the one they just trapped you in.
Whether undead or alive, we've learned that these old feudal types go whole hog for professional and dignified introductions, so give 'em one of those.
Or, ah, as best as you can manage while you're soul trapped i guess.
>>
No. 946846 ID: 91ee5f

>>946843
>Kol got caught
Called it. I knew there was going to be something down here that could affect Kol’s spirit, which is why I said that we should explore the area together in a group and not split up!

>What do?
I guess just explain that you and your friends were exploring this place and you’ve separated your spirit from your body so that you could scout around the area for any unstable structures that you’d need to avoid stepping on, like the bridge that collapsed earlier. Then politely ask to be released so you can go back to your body and friends.
>>
No. 946848 ID: 094652

Quick, shape your spirit form into a giant dildo!
>>
No. 946849 ID: 28ae7c

>>946843
A spirit guide, and an apologetic one at that. Forgive our trespass.
>>
No. 946850 ID: b1b4f3

>>946843
Apologize for the intrusion, introduce yourself, and ask to be released.
>>
No. 946851 ID: e3730d

>>946849
Secondly this.
>>946846
Congratulations, you're very smart. Now how much do you want to bet that if Kol didn't split off they'd ALL have been captured?
>>
No. 946857 ID: f0762a

Explain that you're part of an exploration team who were directed here because of a "help" sign. Apologize if you have disturbed anything. Ask who they are and offer to introduce your friends. And silently examine if there is any way for you to break free if necessary; and/or signal others.
>>
No. 946869 ID: cb6404

>>946843

>Musty smell

Oh. Right. Serpents.

Guess we found those Nagas someone mentioned a while back.
>>
No. 946873 ID: 91ee5f

>>946851
>Congratulations, you're very smart. Now how much do you want to bet that if Kol didn't split off they'd ALL have been captured?
There was probably no way of avoiding being caught, but with everyone in a group with physical bodies, we probably wouldn’t have been put in a very tiny crystal. Which is seriously triggering my claustrophobia right now.
>>
No. 946874 ID: a9af05

>>946843
Kol has always had a ghostly tail connecting his spirit to his body. Now that he's been trapped, his ghostly tail isn't connected to his body anymore. That is a very obvious sign to the others that something has happened to Kol and he's in trouble.

Which means that the others are going to be here any second now in order to find out what happened to Kol.
>>
No. 946897 ID: 7816e7
File 157076965503.png - (180.31KB , 700x700 , 10-104.png )
946897

Kol takes a moment to steady himself. Were he in his body, he’d take a deep breath, but instead closes his eyes and focuses.

“Uh, hello? Can you hear me?” He speaks through the crystalline barrier, watching her eyes narrow. “I’m sorry to intrude. I’m Kol, a spirit guide. My friends and I are exploring these caverns. We’re sorry if we caused any damage coming down here.”

His captor snorts, bringing the spirit close to her face. “Kol spirit guide, I am Three Horns. wisest of the warren. It is I who was chosen by the elders to carry the magics of the old masters.“ Looking into her face, Kol recognizes the glow of an arcane tattoo across her forehead. “My people have fled into the deep tunnels. Scared off by your arrival.”

“We’re very sorry about that. We had no idea anyone was living here. We saw the rune that said ‘help’ and decided to examine it.”

“The rune of ‘servant’ you mean? We were once the playthings of powerful magic users. Lost. Forgotten. This place is ours now.”
>>
No. 946898 ID: 7816e7
File 157076966008.png - (75.10KB , 445x700 , 10-105.png )
946898

“We? Who are your people?”

“We are the kobolds.”
>>
No. 946899 ID: b1b4f3

>>946898
Well good news, there aren't any magic users of that caliber anymore so they don't need to fear slavery, and we can open up trade for their settlement here.
Tell her you really mean no harm, and if she wants she can talk to the rest of your group? Or is there some way you can prove your intentions are good?
>>
No. 946901 ID: f57349

Okay, time to dust off the ol' first contact procedures. Common language seems to have been established, they've made a territorial claim. Have you got official diplomatic authority to recognize that claim on behalf of Moot Point's government? Probably not, and you shouldn't set yourself up for trouble later by pretending to, but offering introductions to appropriate officials might be reasonable - or for that matter, introductions to the rest of your group. She'd probably need to let you out of the yasal crystal to accept.

You came here for access to the mana well, and if you're acknowledging it as their territory they're well within their rights to deny that, so think about what you're able and willing to offer in exchange, and what they'd want. Mineral wealth would probably be redundant. Medical supplies, and magical healing? Mountaineering equipment? Ethically sourced coatl feathers? Fruits, vegetables, and/or fish by the ton? Cash money, and a portal back to markets in Moot Point where they can spend it as they choose?
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No. 946903 ID: 7dc36a

Steps for Diplomacy of Liberated Kobolds:
-Congratulate her tribe on their freedom. May be long overdue, but still deserved.
-Swear that her clan will not be thrall to the dragon they may or may not have sensed outside. Really, he's a nice Coatl, he'd never want anything like that.
-Explain what you are here for and reassure you mean no harm
-Request, as politely as you can, that she help your friends through any traps she or her former masters set up to protect themselves
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No. 946904 ID: e3730d

Ask her what her clan's diplomatic stance is on meddling explorers, such as yourself.

>>946901
This. A thousand times over, this.
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No. 946905 ID: 094652

"How would YOU like to shove a pole up a Dragon's ass? Repeatedly? I can hook you up. Please don't smash me."
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No. 946906 ID: 0ecf4c

>>946903
This seems fair. Let's play diplomat.

... Is this binding magic?
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No. 946910 ID: cb6404

>>946897
>>946898

>'help', but actually it's 'servant'

... ooops. Guess we napped through those lessons a bit, huh?

Well, good that we explained things. Guess we should probably tell Three-Horns why we're here, and ask nicely if we can be let out.

In the very least, we're here to help, since Three-Horns and the other kobolds will probably know a lot more about this place than we will. Maybe they can guide us so we can get this mana-well thing figured out?
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No. 946911 ID: a9af05

>>946898
"You want to meet my friends? We can all sit down and talk with each other."

Kol, do you have a time limit on how long your spirit can be separated from your body? Like, if you don't get back in your body within a certain amount of time, your body will die and you're stuck as a spirit?

If there's anything like that, then you might want to consider asking to be let out before you die.
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No. 946916 ID: 7816e7
File 157083955450.png - (136.62KB , 700x466 , 10-106.png )
946916

“Thats fantastic! We come from a free and open society that doesn’t believe in the enslavement of sentient species. The ways of the Wild Age have long been abolished.” Kol explains from his prison.

She eyes him suspiciously.

“We’re sorry for intruding, and want to respect your territory, but are here searching for something. Is there anything that we can do to help you trust us?” He offers.

Three Horns nudges the spilled mushroom based meal with a toe claw. “Yes. But not for you. You stay with me for the safety of my people and yours. When we can trust you, you go free.” She hefts the crystal and strides out of the tiny hut in a haughty swagger. “You come with me, Kol spirit guide. Your friends will answer for your trespass.”

Striding into view, clad in strands of bronze jewelry, Three Horns approaches the stone elevator and stops. The kobold holds up her captive and announces, “Friends of Kol spirit guide! I am Three Horns, wisest of the kobolds! Your intrusion has disrupted the lives of our warren. You will make right the damage you have caused, or we shall keep your friend’s spirit for always!” She thrusts the crystal forward, giving it a slight shake.

“H-hey, careful! Uh, hi guys...” Kol’s dejected voice emerges from the glowing shard.

“What? Kol? Is that binding magic?” Casey demands. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’m fine. I guess we never really considered the possibility of running into another binder.” He admits.

“What do you want from him?”

Three horns continues, her voice echoing off of the stone ceiling and giving the diminutive lizard much more presence than one would expect. “You will appease us, or Kol spirit guide will remain here. There are old magics here, left by the lost masters to bind a spirit to machine-things. As such he will serve us: we who were once servants.”

Casey puts her hands up, acknowledging the kobold’s position. “Okay, okay. No need for that. We’re sorry for intruding on your territory, Three Horns. What can we do to help establish trust between us?”
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No. 946917 ID: 7816e7
File 157083956638.png - (121.82KB , 700x700 , 10-107.png )
946917

Three horns points to the wreckage left by the falling bridge. “Our village’s food supply, smashed by your actions. First: you will bring food, so that my people do not go hungry.”

“Oh is that all?” Gabe opens a gate and pulls out a sandwich. “We can get you whatever you want. What’cha thinkin: pasta, fish? Uhhhh, got some cheese puffs in here...”

“No!” Three Horns folds her arms. “I do not trust outsider food. Not yet.” She points up, back towards the top of the mountain. “Our food comes from the garden. In the old days, the machine-things cultivated it for the masters. Now it grows wild and unchecked. You will bring us enough to sustain ourselves.”
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No. 946918 ID: 54fe4d

Alright. Enough food for how long? I see no way to fix that bridge back to the main entrance, But the elevator shouldn't need that particular birdge right? We can just go directly to the garden from here, yeah? Also Cecil should stay here and talk with Three Horns. Trade info.
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No. 946923 ID: a9af05

>>946917
Ask if she'd be willing to come with us? Since we've never been here before, we need someone to act as a guide to make sure we don't get lost and to make sure we don't grab anything that would be poisonous. We'd also need her to read any signs we come across, since she can apparently read this language better than we can.

She can keep Kol with her the whole time she's with us.

Also, who's going to volunteer to watch over Kol's body?
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No. 946925 ID: ce39da

>>946918
>>946923
Both of these sound good. Open with immediate acceptance of her demands, first; a flat "Sure!" will do. Perhaps the sudden, no-hesitation agreement less than a second after she's done saying all that will catch her off-guard, at the very least. XD
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No. 946936 ID: b1b4f3

>>946917
Alright, ask for details. What kind of plants are we looking for, and how much do we need to collect?
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No. 946944 ID: 91ee5f

>>946916
>uses machines that are powered by trapped spirits
Isn’t that pretty much slavery? I’d like to point that out to her. But let’s wait until after we rescue Kol before we do that.

>>946917
>go get food for the kobolds
How do we know she’s not going to put Kol into one of those machines as soon as we leave? We’ve got no guarantee that she’ll keep her word. In fact, as long as she has Kol, she could continuously make up more things for us to do for her and never release Kol.

>>946923
>have her come with us
>we need a guide
>make sure we don’t grab poisonous food
>she can read the signs
>let her hold onto Kol while she’s with us
These are good points. Plus, if she comes with us and she has Kol with her, we can make sure she doesn’t put Kol into one of those machines she talked about.
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No. 946946 ID: 7dc36a

>>946925
Double this, yes.

>>946944
>Isn’t that pretty much slavery?
Well anthropologically speaking, living within a closed homogeneous society like the kobolds do would lead them to treat outsiders as more alien, and thus more enslavable, than they really are. Exposure and integration with the outside would help diminish this kind of thinking. We could invite someone on a tour of Moot Point, for later.
In this case though, Kol's predicament looks less like a normal practice of theirs and more like the worst punishment they can think of.
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No. 946982 ID: 015bf2

>>946917
Sure! Meanwhile, will they take care of Kol's body? He's kind of, uh, limp right now and his body needs to remain within the circle so nothing else, y'know, comes around to take it while he's a hostage. Would suck if some errant ghost ran off with your friend's physical form! Oh, and no eating him! (that's a joke)

... also, you don't mind paying the dues of your mistake, but if there's anything you should be careful about, you'd really appreciate an advance warning! Clearly you don't know what to activate and not. Oh, and what's the food plants look like?

As for Kol, ask if the whole being bound to a machine-spirit thing is reversible like other binder skills can be. Perhaps you could ask to be temporarily bound to one and check out what it's like? That way you could help clear the rubble while the others are gone. Pay your own dues. And while the food is probably squashed, Gabe could probably slice the rock that fell on the storage house before he goes so that it becomes more managable to shift. Maybe something survived?

Anyway, all efforts should be made to get along with this cute li'l imperious kobold and her people. Imagine that, an entirely new race, hidden in a mountain! A secret culture to explore and greet! People with memories of and skills passed down from the Vampire Lords!
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No. 946983 ID: 015bf2

>>946982
Oh, and if Three Horns is confused about Kol being willing to voluntarily get bound, he should pshaw and say "I'm not worried, Three Horns. Casey once freed a Coatl from an Ages-old bondage, y'know. That's how we could even get here over the mountains - with our friend's blessing."
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No. 946987 ID: f57349

How much was in the smashed stockpile? Unpack and hand over at least twice that much "outsider food" as a gift/collateral (presumably there are some not-the-wisest kobolds willing to taste-test cheese puffs so everyone else can find out whether they're poison or what), but try to get a complete, quantified list of demands before you run off and start doing all the farm work.
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No. 946989 ID: a9af05

>>946944
>How do we know that she'll keep her word and not harm Kol?
>How do we know she won't make Kol a permanent hostage to make us always do things for her?
Yes, those are legit concerns. But the real question is, should we ask those questions?
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No. 947004 ID: e6f10c

Okay, y'all will do that, but you need some info first. First, y'all don't know what mushrooms to harvest, since this is the first time any of you have had experience with picking mushrooms, let alone these kind. We do know there are toxic mushrooms, so we don't want to pick any bad ones. Also, we don't want to pick any immature ones, so what does a mature, but not too mature, type of mushroom she wants look like?

Second, how many mushrooms would she consider enough for her village to "sustain ourselves?" Maybe she could mark out a square and hold her hand up how high it'd have to be filled to be enough. But related, how much can we take without over-harvesting? Since their storehouse already had a harvest in it, would taking another now be too much? Do we have to put anything back, like fertilized dirt or compost?

How long can Gabe keep up the binding circle around Kol's body at his current mana drain? We talkin' minutes, hours or indefinitely if Gabe doesn't expend mana on other things? Because if we don't have enough time to harvest what Three Horns wants before the protection around Kol's body runs out then we've got a big problem and should voice it. And does Gabe have to stay near the binding circle to keep it up? That'd slow down harvesting if Gabe has to stay near Kol's body. Also ask Three Horns if there are known hazards around here for a spirit-less body, even one protected by a binding circle. Don't want to come across something down here that could punch through a binding circle to possess his empty body.

Actually, suggest that another person stay as Three Horns hostage, since her holding Kol's spirit would make it harder for your group perform the harvest for her. See, Gabe here has to keep the binding circle up to protect Kol's empty body, so that means he can't help physically or magically. And Kol in his body would be able to work way harder than a normal person, owing to his spirit magic training. So, would Cecil be alright with staying? I'm sure he'd love to talk with Three Horns about her people's history and share our people's with her.

Also offer to clear away the rubble of the fallen bridge and help rebuild their storehouse when your group returns.

>>946944
If Three Horns turns out untrustworthy, then we'll deal with it. But until then we'll assume she's operating in good faith.
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No. 947018 ID: 10c408

>>946983
We may be playing the peaceful diplomat, but we should still hold certain things close to the chest. Especially our very powerful weather god friend.
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No. 947053 ID: 015bf2

>>947018
Nah, that's too much paranoia. I think they'll be impressed despite themselves if we can claim (and prove, whether through the feather, Casey's Wings or an eventual meeting) that Casey freed a friggin' Coatl from a thousand-year bondage. Given Three Horns' aversion to the idea of enslavement as anything other than a form of punishment, that should earn the home team some brownie points on the 'huh, maybe not bad guys' scale. We'll need those when we are to discuss the use of their mana well by a remnant of the old masters!

Also, if you personally know a 'god', why NOT flaunt it to the tribal society magic-user? Worst thing she'll doubt us (when we can show proof) or be thoroughly unimpressed and go 'pshaw, everyone knows a coatl, we got dozens down here' in which case, uh... just call that bluff? Gently.

Also also, I really wanna see mecha ghost Kol, so let's play all the cards we can! The tech in those ghost-machines could also end up being used as new 'bodies' for a certain silly pair of spirit medium friends, y'know?
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No. 947054 ID: 10c408

>>947053
Okay, first of all, it's not paranoia. I'm just being cautious since they're holding Kol's spirit hostage.

Secondly, the two groups are still feeling each other out and while I don't think it's a bad idea to introduce flashing feathers to the kobolds, doing so right now before at least assessing the task they've given us to build trust is not only bra
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No. 947055 ID: 10c408

>>947054
(apologizes, I was still typing when my post was submitted somehow)
-brazen and a huge dick move from the gunboat diplomacy playbook, revealing that we do in fact have a bigger stick then her isn't wise at the moment. It's not a bad idea later, but we're not done with the speaking softly part of the proverb just yet and there's a lot of groundwork we can lay after the current task is accomplished.

Plus, accomplishing all of her tasks WITHOUT requiring the aid of a literal god is only going to add weight to her opinion of us since we could have threatened her with sucking the air out of the cavern to release Kol and didn't do so.

(and speaking of, when we eventually do go to get flashing feathers, Gabe is going to have to re-suit up and make his portal pretty far away from the periphery of the village so the oxygen getting sucked out is negligible)
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