Swamped

Swamped
RE: Swamped
Do your people have a name?

"In the Guardians' tongue, they call this place simply Iv, and that applies to the village and its people. It's just their word for 'us', nothing fancy."

What role do you serve in this village?

"I take care of the cavern garden. And I give the elders a piece of my mind. That's not the job they wanted me to do, mind you, but I've got the clout to do it and lemme tell you, this place needs someone with that job. The magic doesn't hurt, either."

Gardening? Seems like an unusual job for someone who called herself an oracle.

"Well. It's not easy to grow anything out in the desert. That's why this job takes someone with special talents. Can't really give away anything more than that, though."

You feel a hard bump.

"Oh, there we go. You're starting to wake up. That was the wagon driving over something, not that I can see just what from here. I'm just a dream, after all."

Your dream starts to fade, and you find yourself awake.

Now what?
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RE: Swamped
now be someone else. be uh... strings, or ringer
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RE: Swamped
Maybe one has been ordered to keep tabs on the other.
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RE: Swamped
You're still feeling tired. Maybe it's a side effect of the spell, or maybe you're just worn out.

Whatever the case, you decide you need to warm up a bit before you really get moving. The wagon's still advancing, anyhow.

---

You're Ringer now, back in the swamp. Your guard duty shift is over, and you're looking to kill an hour or two before you head to sleep.

Of course, it hasn't escaped your notice that something's felt off lately in the fortress. And you don't mean the smell.

Rather, you've noticed some people have been unusually quiet in the halls lately. Most people probably wouldn't notice, but lacking a voice of your own, you tend to pay attention to the voices of others. And right now, a lot of those voices haven't been speaking.

Usually means they have something to hide. Something besides their past, that is.

Still, you're not one to raise the alarm based on vague suspicions. Your bell's got more flexibility than that.

That's why you're paying a visit to your old pal Strings. She's better at working out if you're overreacting, but she always takes you seriously even when you are.

But just as you're approaching the storeroom with the instruments, you think you spot something odd.
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RE: Swamped
It looks like a kind of shimmering glow seeping through the purple wooden wall. You'd think it was your eyesight failing you if nearby objects weren't casting faint (but definite) shadows from its light.
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RE: Swamped
Something on the other side of the wall seems to be glowing.

Your first thought is that there might be a stray patch of lightmoss in the walls, but the color's off for that. Maybe there's some kind of contamination?

No, a closer look at the pattern suggests it's not just discolored lightmoss. It's too clean, too uniform. You hesitate to call it unnatural - crystals form in nature, after all, and they can produce fairly regular light patterns. But it doesn't seem like it's coming from something alive.

You figure this is something Strings should have a look at. You knock on the door and, for good measure, ring your bell so she knows it's you.

But it's not Strings who answers the door, it's Quill.

"Hey Ringer," he says. "Looking for Strings?"

You ring once.

"She's not here. Claws keeps grabbing her whenever she's got free time. Don't know what that's about, Strings says it's some kind of punishment but won't give me any details. So I'm taking over her shifts on the instruments in the meantime."

Well. You don't have quite the same rapport with Quill, but he's hardly a stranger. You point to the wall.

"Huh," he says. "That's an odd color. Any idea how long that's been there?"

You ring your bell twice.

"I suppose we'd best report it, then. Probably to Crosswinds. Though, I suppose it'll go smoother all around if I talk to them, so why don't you keep watch on the instruments in the meantime?"

You ring your bell agreeably and step inside.

There's no formal duty to watch the instruments. Rather, it's something that your little "troupe" decided to do of their own accord. At any given time, someone is watching this storeroom, mostly to chase away any pests that might slip in and think about chewing on the instruments. You all give up free time to do it, but most of you use it as an opportunity to practice, so it's not really wasted.

In fact, you can see Quill's notebook on a table, already open. No doubt working on his next masterpiece.

So. What are you going to do while you wait for Crosswinds and Quill to get back?
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RE: Swamped
Play that sucker! You're not as good as Strings buy you can bust out a few notes...

Is the light...responding?
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take out your red pen and start editing quill's draft
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RE: Swamped
It's been nearly a month since you had a chance to practice your hand at the piano. You're nowhere near Strings' level, but you can play a few simple songs and sound better than a rat chewing away at the chords.

You decide to try something just a little more complex this time. Just to see how it goes.

The answer is, not well. You find yourself pausing often to check the sheet, and you make more than a few slip-ups. You can't even tell how bad it sounds, because you're barely getting five notes out at a time.

Well. That's what practice is for, isn't it? You start over again, this time determined to get at least eight notes out at once.

But as you do, you catch something out of the corner of your eye. The light seems to be... moving? Shifting? It's doing something.

You touch a few keys experimentally. The light seems to react consistently, doing the same thing when you press the same key.

Very strange. And it's probably going to be a little awkward to explain when Quill and Crosswinds get back.

Hmm. Actually, they're taking longer than you expected to arrive. Not so much that you're actually worried, but maybe you ought to have a look.

Then again, you are supposed to be keeping an eye on these instruments.

What should you do?
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RE: Swamped
practice makes perfect
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RE: Swamped
Does it react to your bell?
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Oh odd Crosswinds just popped up from a floorboard. They haven't talked to Quill yet, huh?

And of course they disappear right when Quill gets back.
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RE: Swamped
You decide to wait a bit longer. You could use the practice, anyways.

Although... you're curious. You head to the hallway for a better view, and ring your bell.

You don't notice anything different. But after a few more test rings, you do notice a slight shift. Well, the piano's louder, so it makes some sense that it would have more of an impact.

Hmm? You think you spot a diminutive figure down the hall. Is that Crosswinds? Shorty's the only other Marshguard you can think of who's that small, and he's quite a bit pudgier. Still, you suppose there might be someone you're not aware of.

You're just about to investigate when you hear footsteps behind you. You turn around and spot Quill coming back, looking disappointed.

As you glance back behind you, the figure has vanished. Well. That's another point in favor of it being Crosswinds.

"Couldn't find Crosswinds, which I suppose isn't that surprising," Quill sighs. "But I also couldn't find anyone else to report to. Best I can tell, there's a council meeting tonight, and it's a major one. Most of the top officers have been asked to attend. And while this is weird, and it's probably going to need an officer's decision, it doesn't seem like enough of an emergency to interrupt that meeting."

You ring your bell to indicate you understand.

"They even dragged Mudviper out of her sickbed for this. Must be something really big. But Crosswinds isn't at it... well, unless they're slipping out of the meeting to issue orders. Either way, plenty of people have seen them since it started." Quill shrugs. "So I guess we either hope Crosswinds decides to check in on us, or we start investigating this ourselves."

You ring your bell four times, to indicate that you've got something to show. You point to the light, then to the piano.

"Something funny with the piano?"

You motion to Quill to stay where he is, then you head over to the piano and play a few notes.

"Well, that's weird all right," he says when you finish. "So. What do you think? Should we prod at this light some more, or should we look for Crosswinds?"
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RE: Swamped
piano
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forte
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RE: Swamped
After a bit of thought, you resume playing the piano.

Specifically, you play Ballad of the Lone Survivor. It's well above your skill level, so it sounds clearly off. Quill holds his hands over his ears.

"What in the hells are you doing?"

You don't bother thinking about how to formulate an answer. You just keep playing until you hear a commanding voice.

"Ringer. Treat that song with some damn dignity."

Crosswinds storms in, clearly annoyed.

"I can only assume you were trying to get my attention with that travesty. Well, you've got it. I hope whatever you've got to report is important enough to warrant pissing on Fallet's grave like that."

"Er, it probably isn't," Quill says, apologetically. "Ringer saw some odd light in the wall outside, and it seems to react to the piano. We, ah, thought it would be good for you to have a look at it."

Crosswinds gives you a fierce glare.

"Fine. I'll look at it. And then I'll have a little talk with Ringer about showing respect for a great composer."

You ring your bell in shame. You understand Crosswinds' frustration; you just didn't have any better ideas.

Quill guides Crosswinds to the wall, and you slink along afterwards. You don't know how much you can help; even if you get ideas, it's not easy to convey complex concepts. But you may as well do what you can.

"Now that's real odd," Crosswinds says. "This wall's supposed to be one of the solid ones. I've crawled down the halls here a hundred times and never saw an opening into it."

"So, do we just open up a hole in it?" Quill asks.

"First, we figure out if it really is solid," Crosswinds says, knocking on the wall. "Doesn't sound hollow to me. So we can't just open it up. Might even be important for holding things up on higher floors."

"But if it's not hollow, how is there a light source inside?"

"Beats me. Maybe a rat burrowed in and hid something shiny there. If the burrow's small enough, I wouldn't catch it on a quick knock like that."

"Oh, one more thing," Quill says. "The light seemed to move a bit when Ringer played the piano."

"Maybe the rat likes the music," Crosswinds shrugs. "It's weird, I'll give you that, but there's not a lot I can do about it right now. Unless one of you has any bright ideas."
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RE: Swamped
Better put a board over it in case it's a magical gateway carrying exotic diseases.
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RE: Swamped
earthquake!
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RE: Swamped
Yeah, that is what happens when a portal opens up underground.

Rider is real unhappy about all this swampmuck and purple wood falling from the sky.
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RE: Swamped
You make a gesture of covering up the wall.

"Block out the light?" Crosswinds says. "Dunno. If it's something troublesome, the light may be the least of our worries..."

At that moment, you feel the ground shaking.

"Oh hells," Crosswinds grumbles. "Don't tell me we've got a live tunneler this time."

"The dead one was enough trouble," Quill groans. "Should we sound the alarm?"

"No, we check it out and then we sound the alarm if we need to. A tremor like that should already have gotten everyone's attention. Come on, you two!"

"But... where are we going?"

"We're going for the hole where we found the dead one. If we do have another one down here, it'll smell the trail of another one and want to check that out. We should be able to see it from a safe distance. Now get moving!"

You and Quill dutifully run after Crosswinds. But just as you're leaving, you think you notice the strange light fading away entirely...

---

You're now Yvonne. You've had a busy night.

And it only seems to be getting busier. First the wagon vanishes, only for it to come back with the one-armed human kid in it, and now you're getting reports of a large anomaly being detected. The compass is reacting, too. So there was some kind of big gateway opening, and you can't tell right now which way something went through it.

This is on top of the meeting about ways to listen in on the mountains. Plenty of ideas brought up, but you still haven't quite got everything figured out.

So. What are you dealing with first?
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RE: Swamped
the anomaly is time-sensitive, so check out it first
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One of your researchers is super excited about it.

Though you never cared for their conspiracy theories.
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You decide to prioritize the anomaly. If you wait to investigate, it'll be harder to sort out what happened. Important clues could be eaten by animals, or just decay in the harsh sands.

You promptly start assembling a team to look into it. Dominique insists on coming along to take ether measurements, which you suppose is reasonable. Theodore points out that there's a lot of work to do at the camp, so you shouldn't both go. He thinks it would be best for him to lead the expedition while you stay here, but he'll go along with whatever you decide.

Stefan's been doing most of the work on the anomalies. He seems a bit distressingly eager to study one up close, and some of his theories about them are frankly ludicrous, but you can't deny his expertise is valuable here.

So you've got some decisions to make. Should you let Theodore lead the expedition, or lead it yourself while he manages things in camp? And who else should you send along, in either case?
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RE: Swamped
do it yourself. i don't care who you bring
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Stefan ought to go, since he's just causing problems around camp in his attempts to test his wacked out theories sans anomaly.

It would make sense to bring someone to serve in a security officer role, given recent events and the possibility of hostile creatures or individuals being swept up in the anomaly.
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