Swamped

Swamped
RE: Swamped
Didn't they see the swarm of crows? Order them to go defend the temple.
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RE: Swamped
"Is everything going well? There were a lot of crows in the sky not too long ago."

"Hadn't noticed. Wasn't looking up."

"I mean, a lot of crows. Practically blocked out the sun."

The silent guard's pike isn't holding steady at all. What do they know?

"Wait. A lot of what, you said?"

"Crows. Little black birds? Where I come from, we use them to send messages." Maybe they're not common on this continent.

Which makes the increasingly nervous reactions of the quiet guard even stranger. You can practically see the fear in their eyes.

"That's definitely strange," the guard says. "Did they just pass on, then?"

"It looked like they were descending... I think somewhere around the temple? Hard to tell."

The guard looks worried.

"I'd best take a quick look, then. Birds can be troublesome, and the Tala is too important to take chances." He turns to his partner. "You stay here. Don't let anybody in. I'll be back as soon as I can."

He rushes off, leaving you alone with the surprisingly nervous guard.

Now what?
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RE: Swamped
Give a momentary distraction of the "look over there!" kind then run past him.
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RE: Swamped
"I don't know if he's going to be able to handle it by himself..." Try and get the nervous guard to follow after.
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RE: Swamped
"I hope he'll be okay," you muse to yourself. "He's never seen a crow before, they might give him a lot of trouble."

No response.

"You think he can handle it? You probably know him better than I do."

Still nothing. But they seem extremely nervous now that you're looking directly at them.

"Well. Always good to have faith in the people you work with, I suppose."

You turn away casually, planning to move into another tactic. A distraction could give you a chance to slip past, or at least grab their pike.

"Maybe I should see for myself..." You pause suddenly. "What's that?"

You turn to the guard to see if they follow your cue... but it seems they've followed another one and started running down the stairs.

Something strange is going on here, but this is where you're headed anyway. You go down the stairs.

And it looks like chaos. You don't know what's happening, but everything's overturned and there's about a dozen people either fighting or cowering. You recognize a few of them as being among Azel's associates, and most of the rest were in here when you stopped by earlier.

As if that weren't enough, there's also a metal door blocking the empty room.

So what do you even do?
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RE: Swamped
>avoid the fighting, try to find a way to the travel room
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RE: Swamped
Your first thought is not to get involved and just focus on your goal. But the metal door blocking the room you'd be heading to isn't exactly welcoming, and even if you figure out how to get in, you've got no idea how the place works. That's before considering the possibility that someone might rope you into the fight if you get noticed.

Still, you can at least take a closer look at the door. You duck down and crawl over to it as best as you can.

And you can't see any hinges. Or even any gap between the door itself and the frame. It's like a solid block of metal. No keyhole, either.

Perhaps it only opens from the inside... well, you don't remember seeing anything on the inside that would suggest that. So now you're just lost.

This might be easier if you could get ahold of whoever contacted you, but they're most likely involved in this fight.

Or... are they? It feels like there's at least two factions here, and your contact's messages gave the distinct impression they were working alone. It's also hard to get a read on the situation from here, because everyone seems more interested in fighting than talking.

Wait. What's that guard who ran down here ahead of you doing?
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RE: Swamped
He's talking to what appears to be a child's toy.
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RE: Swamped
The guard seems to be holding some sort of marionette and just... staring at it?

Maybe it's like the bear you're lugging around. Someone's using it to pass orders along. For all you know it's the same someone who's been talking to you.

What are you waiting for? Get in here, quickly, before I have to leave without you and the statue!

You'd be happy to, if you could get through the damn door. Wait... unless they mean somewhere else? Hells, what if there's a different "travel room" and you didn't even have to bother with this mess?

You're right outside it! What's the holdup?

The holdup is that there's a big metal door between you and the travel room. Which apparently they either can't see or don't view as a significant obstacle. And you can't reply back...

Well, hold on. If they're in the room already, maybe you can. It's just that you'd probably make a good deal of noise, even if you just knocked on the door. And you're not sure the ruckus going on in here already is loud enough to hide that.

So what can you do to try to alert whoever's inside?
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RE: Swamped
Knock!
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RE: Swamped
You consider knocking anyways. Maybe a soft tap will be enough, it just has to be heard on the other side of the door. Especially if you wait for a moment that's loud to begin with...

And you think you might just get your chance. A rather large and muscular woman has just grabbed a fallen table and is swinging it towards somebody else.

You don't watch what happens next. You just focus on using the noise of the table breaking to cover your knocking.

...And it feels strangely soft. Cold and metallic, but not hard. Your hands feel like they're sinking into it slightly, not making any noise.

Why are you just standing there knocking on air? Hurry up!

What? They can see you? And not the door?

Is this door just an illusion? You try reaching past it, but your arm refuses to go further than what you can see. This is very strange.

Now what?
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RE: Swamped
Close your eyes, and run at it. Either its some complex illusion affecting your perception of your limbs as well as your sight, and you can go through it if you give yourself enough momentum that you cant stop... or maybe its simply invisible to whoever you're communicating with. But at least in that case, it should become obvious to them that there's something blocking your path. Make sure you position your body to receive minimal harm if there really is a barrier.
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RE: Swamped
You close your eyes.

You don't exactly know much about magic - hardly anyone does these days. But if this is an illusion, maybe it works through your eyes, and doesn't just make you see a door, it makes you believe there's a door there. And you believe it enough that you can't walk through it.

On the other hand, if it's solid but invisible on the other side, then attempting to walk through might at least convey that you can't. Either way seems like it might get you moving along.

Keeping your eyes firmly closed, you step forward.

And suddenly, it feels like you're walking through mud. But that's not exactly something you're unfamiliar with.

You feel around for your breather mask and attach it. Any Bogknight with half a lick of training can put it on blind. You're not sure if you actually need the help, but you'd rather not take a chance. You keep pushing forward.

It's extremely slow and uncomfortable, but you've spent enough time in the swamp muck that you can keep moving. You press on. The more you advance, the more the door, or whatever it is, tries to push back. It's worse than the muck at this point, but at least you've got your feet planted firmly on solid ground.

Finally, you feel it let go. You feel the pressure release. You're inside. You take a few more steps forward just to be sure, and then open your eyes.

Standing before you is Carma, the woman who locked you up not long ago. She's wearing a strange pair of goggles and holding a quarterstaff. You don't recall her being armed earlier, but maybe she wasn't expecting a fight.

"What the hell was that?" she asks.

"Just at a guess, do those goggles let you see past illusions? Because I think I just walked through one." You glance behind you, and sure enough, you still see a metal door. "I can't recommend it. "

She lifts her goggles momentarily, glances at the door, frowns, and puts the goggles down again.

"That's worrying. Shume and the Master are the only ones I know who could make an illusion good enough to stop someone from walking through it. I doubt it's the Master, considering he's preoccupied right now, but what could Shume be thinking?"

"I have no idea," you say. "I'm really not sure what's going on here at all. The only thing I know for sure is that I don't want an enormous flock of crows coming after me."

"Well, we don't have time to talk," Carma says. "Now that you're, and more importantly you brought the statue, I can finally leave. Just hand over the statue and I'll get this moving."

"I'm not one to hand over a bargaining chip for free."

She sighs.

"It's not a bargaining chip. If we have that statue, the Master can track us. I know how to stop that. You don't. Hand me the statue."

Well. If she's telling the truth, that would be a very good reason to hand over the statue. But you didn't get this far by trusting people blindly.

How should you respond?
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RE: Swamped
Extract a guarantee that you will also be able to leave this place.
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RE: Swamped
ask why they wanted you to grab books as well
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RE: Swamped
"From my point of view, you could be planning to run off and leave me stranded here. You need this statue for some reason, so until I have what I need, I'm not agreeing to anything."

She looks seriously annoyed.

"Not much time to argue. But fine."

She steps back a bit.

"Stand right there in the middle square. No matter what, whatever is in there is transported. I would have to actively shove you out of the way."

"You look like you could."

"I could. But I will need intense focus to set our destination and prevent it from being tracked. It is more than a little difficult to do that and engage in combat at the same time."

You hear a loud noise behind you while you consider that.

"And I would also point out that the amount of time you have to make a decision is not unlimited. Once that fight is settled, I expect the victors will investigate this room sooner or later."

She's got a point. You step in the middle.

"All right, I'll accept that. Here's the statue."

You pull the statue out and hand it over. Carma takes it, and promptly pulls off the statue's head and throws it at the illusory door.

"That's all it took?"

"You would not have the strength to remove it, nor would you know to do that," she says. Well, probably not, but you still feel irritated.

"Okay, assuming this isn't a trick, I've got a lot of things to ask you about when we're on the other side. Like what the deal is with this Master, and why you had me grab some books."

"The books contain spells," she says calmly. "With my instruction, you would have been able to use them, so long as you understood the words. They still may prove useful. Now, please stay there while I prepare to transport us."

Before you can ask anything else, she turns her back to you, stands carefully so she's inside one of the squares, and begins chanting. Well, guess you're stuck with this for now.

And then, suddenly, you see the guard rushing in through the illusory door, pointing their pike at you. They still don't say a word, but you can see a strange and unsettling glow on the tip of their pike. A glow that seems to be getting stronger by the second.

You might have to do something more than just stand still.
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RE: Swamped
Think fast! Throw something heavy at him! (the book)
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RE: Swamped
>yeah throw something at them
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RE: Swamped
Book to the face, sweeping kick to knock their legs out from under them
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RE: Swamped
Well. You've got two books. You can probably spare one.

You pull one of the books out and fling it at the guard. Surprisingly, they don't react at all and just take it in the face. Didn't anyone teach them how to try to dodge?

They drop the pike, but that doesn't seem to stop the glow. In desperation, you rush over, grab the pike, and point it at the door.

The guard seems taken aback, and rather than fighting you, they just rush out of the way. You back up towards Carma, if only so you don't get left behind.

Suddenly, you feel strange.

"Where in the hells did you get that much ether?" Carma asks suddenly. "It's interfering with the transport! Get rid of it fast or we could wind up anywhere!"

You're about to comply, but all of a sudden, the guard lunges at you. You raise the pike to block...

...but it's too late. You feel your surroundings melt around you.

----

You're now Marshall. You just woke up after a well-needed night of rest.

You've had a lot to think about lately, but for now you're just focused on waking up. You get dressed and head to the food tent for breakfast.

As you eat your morning vegetables, you give some thought as to what you should do today.
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RE: Swamped
>Think about recent events. You still have questions about your father.
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RE: Swamped
Foremost in your mind is that you still need to talk to Rider about your father - and perhaps about that sketchbook, too. Between one thing and another, you haven't had a chance - either you've been busy or he has.

You suspect the latter hasn't changed, but you suppose you might as well find out. You head over to Yvonne's tent, since she seems to be in charge.

You are, of course, utterly unsurprised when a guard outside the tent informs you that the Director is in a meeting.

"Is Rider in there?" you ask.

"Don't think so. I haven't seem him this morning at all. Maybe he's sleeping in."

"That doesn't sound like something he'd do, even if he needed it," you sigh. He's probably off doing something, maybe not even in the camp at all.

Still. No sense giving up before you've even started. If he's still here somewhere, how would you go about finding him?
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RE: Swamped
Start by checking on the place where they've been keeping desert horses.
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RE: Swamped
If he's left, he'd either have taken the wagon or a desert horse. You can see the wagon, so you decide to check the stable. Or whatever they call it.

You get some directions from the guards and go over to look. The stable is more of a tent, and it's mostly designed for smaller creatures. There seem to be quite a few of them, all with grebling-sized saddles. The desert horses are off in a corner; both seem to be present.

A grebling dumps some feed into a trough and then looks up at you.

"You planning on going out for a ride?" she asks. "Because these horses have had a rough night. So unless it's real important, you're not getting one. And you're too big for the sandrunners. Not to mention, you'd better be real good if you plan on riding out with only one arm."

"Actually, I'm looking for Rider. Tall human, dressed in purple armor, carries a big lance? I just wanted to make sure he hadn't left camp."

"I know Rider, he's been helping me out the last few days. Got a real way with animals. Said he'd be taking a horse in a couple of hours after they've had time to rest. Don't know what he's doing now, though." She holds out her hand. "I'm Barb."

You shake with your one hand.

"Marshall."

"Pleasure to meet you. I don't meet a lot of humans out here, but most of them only think of me as a stablehand. Gotta say, I appreciate your crew a lot more."

"I grew up on a farm, so I've spent plenty of time in a stable myself," you say. "Though I can't say I know much about handling desert creatures. Do they give you any trouble?"

"Sandrunner pups can be a handful, but by the time they grow up they're pretty obedient. Never raised a desert horse myself, though; just taken care of them for human guests. And those ones are almost always well-trained." She pauses. "Although, one of the horses your group brought in has been a little bit troublesome."

"How so?"
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RE: Swamped
Well, it keeps making bird noises.
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