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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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You start singing again to get the attention of your captors. When they turn towards you, you awkwardly gesture with your left leg towards the object.

"There's something over there. Um, I think it might be under the weapon I lost."

The two-armed one heads over as their partner keeps an eye on you.

"Haska donro."

Haska, they used that word earlier too. Maybe it means "found"? Then the other words could mean "someone" and "something", or similar terms.

They come back with your slicer, and a very strange metal object. It's got a round center on some kind of axle, but rather than a wheel around the edge, it just seems to have... well, they look more like thick blades than anything else. But they look too small to be very useful as a weapon. You can't imagine wielding something like that without hurting yourself.

"Arraship?" the one-armed woman suggests. It sounds like she's trying to repeat something she heard, but doesn't quite have it.

"Grof," replies the other one with a shrug. So that term probably means uncertainty. Could be "I don't know", or just "maybe". Maybe if you listen long enough, you can get some idea of the language. They use a lot more words when they're arguing, but it's harder to pick anything out.

"The, uh, the wood thing is mine," you say. "It's a training weapon. No idea about the other thing."

"Egrin," says the woman. You suspect that means you're not getting your slicer back any time soon, not that you were really expecting to.

The other one just puts the objects in a large bag, then resumes prodding you to march.

"I'm too tired to walk," you protest. "I already walked all the way here."

The woman makes an annoyed sound - you can't tell if it's a word or just a grunt - and then picks you up with her one arm.

Well. That's kind of solved your problem.

What's odd, though, is that after they walk down the road for a bit, they turn away from the settlement. Where could they be taking you?
12-22-2017, 03:24 AM
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thriggle
 RE: Swamped

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A deep, hidden crevasse, wherein there's a surprising quantity of lush, verdant vegetation
12-23-2017, 01:44 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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They take a turn onto a winding road, which seems to be heading downward. Deep downward. Somewhere in there, it turns dark; your "guides" don't seem especially concerned, though.

When you can finally see again, you can barely believe your eyes. You're in a cavern, but it looks more like a garden. The light seems to be coming from some of the plants.

You get carried over to a corner, where you see an old woman hunched over at a large canvas. She grunts something as she turns around, and the one-armed woman puts you down in front of her.

You notice your two captors backing away as the old woman approaches.

Then you hear, of all things, a crow.

"Hmm? This is the one?" the old woman asks, in perfect Common. She seems to be talking to her canvas. "Well, then. Before we get on with this discussion, you need to apologize for senselessly attacking my Gertrude."

She steps aside, and you can clearly see the crow drawing from before. It seems agitated, probably because you... dispelled it? You don't really know how this works.

"I'm sorry," you say to the canvas. "I didn't know what you were. I thought you were attacking me, and I panicked."

The crow caws again, then seems to vanish into the distance.

"She accepts your apology," says the woman. "Not very gracefully, but that's just how she is. Now, with that settled, we can move on."

The old woman sits down.

"You are Marshall Laikenne. You joined the Bogknights in search of your father, who went missing seven years ago. You were captured by the Marshguards as part of a ploy to prevent an attack on your base, and while you were in the Marsh Fortress, you convinced one of your guards to help you escape. Then you found yourself dragged through a mysterious gateway to this desert. Since then, you've learned that you possess the potential for magic, and you're here because you were in a scoundrel's wagon when I had Archibald bring it to our mountains. Now you're wondering how I can speak your language and how I know all this."

"I'm guessing magic has something to do with it," you say. You're too stunned by the whole demonstration to really take it in.

"You were willing to tell me all of that, so I know it already. Saves time that way. I don't really have other questions right now, so you go ahead and ask yours. You've got a bunch of them swirling around, after all."

She's right about that. Where do you even begin?
12-23-2017, 03:36 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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Can you teach me how to do that?
12-23-2017, 04:10 PM
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thriggle
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Why did you want the wagon?

What was the fighting about back there??

Why is that giant mushroom winking at me???
(This post was last modified: 12-23-2017, 08:20 PM by thriggle.)
12-23-2017, 08:17 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"Can you, um, can you teach me how to find all that stuff out so fast?"

"It'd take at least fifteen years of training, and frankly I'm not inclined to take on another apprentice. One's enough trouble. Good to show initiative, though, I'll give you that."

You figured it wouldn't be that simple. So you might as well settle for the more immediate questions.

"Why'd you take the wagon?"

The woman turns back towards the canvas.

"My creations can't handle complex orders. They wouldn't be able to conduct a proper search for what we were looking for. Anyhow, it's not your wagon, is it? You've hardly got grounds to criticize us for stealing it."

Technically she has a point, but you can't help but feel there's a difference, even if you're hard-pressed to explain just what.

"And what were you looking for?"

"Something," she says, very definitively. You suppose you're not going to get any confirmation unless you ask about the lodestone specifically, and you're not sure if that's a good idea, as you'd just be telling her about it.

"All right. Then what was that fighting I heard before these two found me?"

The woman glances at the pair behind you for just a moment.

"They don't know. Three enemies descended from the sky, fought them for a while, and then fled just as suddenly, even though they seemed to have the advantage at the moment."

"Descended from the sky?"

"That's what they saw. They don't know who it was, or why, though their best guess is that the outsiders were after the wagon."

"Maybe after the same thing you want?"

The old woman just shrugs.

"Could be. What's it matter to you?"

"Just curious, I suppose."

"Well. Then you'll just have to stay curious."

This feels more than a little odd. And you haven't exactly gotten satisfactory answers.

So you decide to ask something a little more immediate.

"What are you planning to do with me?"

"Nothing, yet," the woman says. "You're just going to stay here for a while. If the elders find out about you, they'll have a fit. Be grateful that these two have the sense to check with me first."

"The elders?"

"The elders are the ones who think they run things around here. Stubborn fools. They do a decent enough job of keeping the settlement running, but as soon as they start worrying about outsiders they lose their heads."

Well. That's not exactly comforting.

Do you have any more questions?
12-24-2017, 02:25 AM
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btp
 RE: Swamped
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Can I send a message back to the grebling camp? They should know that I'm alright.
12-24-2017, 04:03 PM
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thriggle
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They WILL know that I'm alright. I'm actually a pretty important quasi-wizard, you know, and this has been a frustrating day.

In fact, where are these elders? I need to set them straight on all this.
12-24-2017, 11:59 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"If I'm going to stay here for a while, I should send a message to the camp. They ought to know I'm all right."

The one-armed woman stands up to protest, but the old woman just raises a hand, and she sits back down.

"She's worried you'll reveal too much about where you are," says the old woman. "But, as you were about to explain, if you just go missing without a trace you'll worry your companions, and who knows where they might go if they search for you. And I certainly don't intend on keeping you here forever. You can even go back in the wagon once we're done with it."

"How long will that be?"

The old woman just shrugs. Wonderful.

"In the meantime, you've got a point. You ought to send a message. A simple one, one they'll know is from you, but that also makes it clear they've got nothing to worry about. Without revealing too much about where exactly you are."

"That would be easier to write if you'd tell me when I can go back."

"It would, wouldn't it," she says. Of course, she's still not giving you a straight answer.

"It shouldn't take that long to search the wagon. Not so long that you couldn't give me a guess, at any rate. Why string me along like this?"

"Interesting question," she says. "But you're a clever one. Let's see if you can come up with a good answer for that on your own before I give you mine."

Well. That's a frustrating response, but you suppose you weren't expecting a direct answer from her. You might as well put forward your best guess.
12-25-2017, 01:16 AM
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btp
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I've arrived in the middle of a seasonal holiday, and it's impossible to book a ticket back home?

You think I might have hid what you're looking for huh? I didn't.

Which you now know is true and is why you wanted to get me thinking about this in the first place.
12-25-2017, 01:04 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"Because you think I might have hidden what you're looking for? I didn't."

The old woman nods, satisfied.

"So you didn't take it out."

Wait a minute.

"Did they already search?"

"It's another useful thing about this talent of mine. You can have two entirely separate conversations without anyone listening in on the other one. I suppose your grebling friends have it and this was a big waste of our time, then."

"Um, I don't know where they'd have put it, but yeah, they probably took it out. Whatever it is."

"I figured as much. Well. Not much use keeping you and the wagon around here, then. Hmmph, this is the problem with hiding out in the middle of nowhere, you forget how to negotiate properly."

The scrawny person says something you can't understand.

"No, we're not taking a hostage. We're just sending the wagon and this youngster back, along with a message."

"Now?" you ask.

"Soon," says the woman. "I have preparations to make."

With that, she walks off to another corner of the cave, leaving you alone with her... guards? You're not sure what to call them.

You wonder if it's worth trying to strike up a conversation, despite the language barrier.
12-26-2017, 02:30 AM
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thriggle
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So... Get much rain here?
12-26-2017, 05:39 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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"So. I suppose it doesn't rain much here," you muse. Less for the sake of hearing them respond as getting a sense of just how well they understand you - do they even know what rain is?

Indeed, they seem confused. They repeat "rain" to each other a few times, before looking back at you.

"It's when water falls from the sky," you say. "Not very common, I take it?"

They look at each other for a while, a bit confused. Then the one-armed woman pulls something out of her pouch.

A sketchbook.

She does a quick doodle of a cloud with droplets falling. You nod your head.

She sketches a large number of suns. Looks like about... forty? Fifty? Seems rain comes once in forty or fifty days. Not unheard of, but not something you expect. So it might not have come up in whatever context they learned Common in.

"Can you speak my language?" you finally ask.

"Not well," the woman says. Her speech sounds strained. "Know words. Not... pron-unce. Not..." She pauses and waves her hand a little awkwardly. "Grandmother?"

"Grammar," you say. "It's a weird word, yeah. Well, if it's difficult, there's no need to strain yourself on my account. I was just wondering."

It seems the art is a more practical way for her to communicate. At least you seem to have some way of talking now.

Maybe you can get some of your questions answered.
12-27-2017, 02:44 AM
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thriggle
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Try drawing a representation of the rainspawn (with the rain) and see if they've any experience with or opinion of such creatures
12-28-2017, 01:13 AM
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btp
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Ask about her arm.

Actually, maybe you should ask grandmother about the rain beasts. She probably doesn't have any superstitions about them, and might be knowledgeable about that sort of thing.
12-28-2017, 01:15 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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There's one thing that's left you curious for quite some time now. You might as well raise the question now.

"What happened to your arm? If you don't mind letting me know."

Without any hesitation, the woman draws a scene. There's a few figures fighting a full-grown tunneler. You've heard enough stories of those beasts to understand that just losing an arm makes you one of the lucky ones.

"I see. How did the fight go?"

She draws X's on three of the figures. Then she bows her head.

"I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you don't have to deal with something like that again."

She points to your arm.

"Um. That's a bit hard to explain." You pause a moment. "Could I borrow your sketchbook to show you?"

She hands it over, and you doodle a shadow in the rain, then show it to her.

"I don't know what it actually looks like. But that's what took my arm. Only a few days ago."

She seems put off. She calls something out, and the old woman comes running.

"What is it... oh, just show me the picture," she grumbles.

The one-armed woman holds it up.

"Huh. I think we might need to have a more standard conversation to explain this one," she says. "What do you know about those things?"

"Not much. No one does. Just that they show up in the swamp when it rains, and they're ferocious."

"They didn't seem to care much for the desert," the old woman says. "Don't know if it was the sand or the heat or what, but they didn't move at all. We wondered if they'd died, but if they did, they didn't leave any bodies behind. And you're telling me they show up in the swamp at every rain?"

"There's a superstition that talking about them makes the rain come sooner. I couldn't tell you more than that, I've only encountered them the one time." You absentmindedly rub the space where your missing arm would be. "Apparently I was really lucky to survive that."

"I knew it had something to do with the gateways. Maybe now I can get the elders to stop listening to Jarn's nonsense explanation. I don't know how many times that man can be proven wrong before they stop taking him seriously, but apparently it's a lot."

"Why, what does he think?" you ask, before really giving any thought to it.
12-28-2017, 02:43 AM
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thriggle
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That the spawn are temporary manifestations of aether shadows cast by normal people in the presence of magical emanations.
12-28-2017, 06:32 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"He thought they were ethereal illusions. Manifestations of people's fears and whatnot, given physical form because there was a strong magical source flowing through the rains. When the rain stopped, the illusions went with it." She shakes her head. "Hmmph! Ridiculous if you know how mana flow works. He might as well have said they were ghosts. But I didn't have another explanation to offer until now."

That explanation immediately gives you another question.

"How, uh, how does mana flow work? I don't understand a lot about magic."

"Well, I'm not going to get into the full details, but the short version is, you can't really store mana in water. Oh, it goes in there easily enough, but it doesn't like to stay for very long. And since clouds are water and rain is water, you can't have magical rain unless someone is actively casting a spell as it's raining. And that's no easy task."

"That sounds like it would make it hard to make magic potions," you muse.

"Oh, for those you just enchant the bottle. Much easier. Anyhow, unless you've got anything else important to share, I need to get back to work. The sooner we get you out of here, the better it'll be for everyone."

While you can agree with that, you feel like there's a lot you still don't understand about what's going on here. But you don't even know where to begin on asking questions about it, whether to the old woman or to the others.
12-29-2017, 02:16 AM
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btp
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Be the old woman.

Meaning, she doesn't have time for your questions but she respects your openness and curiosity, it's an uncommon trait where she's from, so she stuns you with a version of her perception spell that allows you to observe from her point of view (blocking out anything she doesn't want to share).

Your body, meanwhile, will be taken back to the wagon while you're out of it. Spell should break off once you're out of range on the way back to the camp.
12-30-2017, 12:37 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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"All right," the old woman says, suddenly. "Just about done. Youngster, close your eyes, would you? It'll make this next part a lot easier on you."

You don't know what she means, but you decide to comply. Shouldn't your goggles help?

The next thing you know, you don't see anything at all.

It takes a moment to adjust. You can't tell if you're awake or asleep.

"You're asleep," says the old woman. "Well, sort of. I know you've got a lot of questions, and I don't have time to answer all of 'em. Plus there's stuff I just can't talk about, you know? So I put together a little dream where I can explain the basics. You should have time to take it all in while we send you back. It's not just me talking at you, though; if you think about something, I'll tell you about it if I can."

As she speaks, you realize that you're not in the cavern. Where is this?
12-30-2017, 02:02 AM
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bigro
 RE: Swamped
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Nowhere. Literally. A crossroad in the middle of an endless dry grassy field with a sign that reads "nowhere ∞ miles" in all four directions.

[Image: 933hfLL.png][Image: aCQpT7Z.png][Image: iRoHjKM.png]
12-31-2017, 01:07 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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You don't seem to be anywhere. You're just lying on the ground in the middle of a field.

"Your mind's a blank right now. Try to think about something and it'll be clearer. I know you had a bunch of questions aside from 'what's going to happen to me', so try thinking about some of those."

You opt to start simple. What's her name?

"Don't really have one any more. When you become Oracle of the Sands, that's what everyone calls you. I think that's the best way to sum up the title in your language."

And what's an Oracle of the Sands, then?

"A real important wizard. That's all I can really say about it."

It seems you just need to think and you get an answer. You just need to work out what your questions are, you suppose.
12-31-2017, 02:13 AM
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btp
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What is an "aargship"?

Why is my arm back? What are these markings on it?
12-31-2017, 06:11 AM
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thriggle
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What language do my captors speak? What is the nature of this community?
12-31-2017, 04:40 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: Swamped
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You can't help but notice that you have two arms again. But then, this is a dream, so maybe it's not that odd.

The strange markings on the arm you were missing, on the other hand, seem out-of-place even for a dream.

"The markings are just old runes used to indicate high ether concentrations," the oracle says. "Seems your magic has decided to focus itself on where your arm used to be. I don't think that should actually make a difference in how it works, but it might be harder to train yourself to focus on a limb you don't have any more."

Well. Magic's not really something you want to concern yourself with right now. You can probably learn just as much about it from Captain Long or Dominique when you get back. So you opt to focus on where you just came from.

You suppose the next thing on your mind is, well, where that is. Who lives there, and why? What's the language they speak?

"A lot of it's complicated," says the oracle. Your surroundings shift to a small village. "And not the sort of thing we're allowed to talk to outsiders about. So let's keep this simple. There's a small group in our village who... well, I suppose it would be easiest if I call them Guardians."

You see them step out of a hut, and immediately recognize their cloaks. You didn't get much of a look at the Dune Wanderers, but that's clearly them.

"Hmm. You've seen them. Well, I can't go into too many details on their mission. But they're pretty much the core of the village. The Elders give them orders, and the rest of us are just here to make the village function. Though a lot of us didn't come here by choice."

Not by choice?

"If a village is just the same few families, over a few generations you get problems. The Guardians' solution to this is essentially to kidnap people who get lost in the desert. They take care of you, or rather give you what you need to take care of yourself - but they don't let anyone off the mountain. If I hadn't gotten you out, that would have been your new life. Pretty sure you didn't want that."

What about the language?

"It's the language of the Guardians, as far as I can tell. They forcibly teach it to new arrivals, and punish them severely for talking in any other tongue. Not that people don't - they just make sure there aren't any Guardians in earshot. Of course, the Guardians have had a few encounters with hostiles in the past, so there's a handful of loanwords based on things they heard the enemy saying. Stuff like 'militara' and 'arraship', since those are on your mind. I don't know exactly what the latter one is, it probably came up in the fight."

Somewhere in there, you shifted back to the empty field. You didn't really notice.

"Anyhow. There isn't that much time left, but I think we covered the main points. If there's anything else you want to ask before the dream ends, think about it now."
01-01-2018, 03:25 AM
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