Swamped

Swamped
RE: Swamped
Well. You might as well get to the big question.

"You're in charge of the Bogknights. You know what in the hells is in our fortress that's such a big deal. I don't expect you to answer that, but I do want to know what it has to do with the call of the swamp."

Long is silent for a good long while. You figured this would be a tough one.

Finally, he speaks up.

"Do you know why Reth's primary temple is all the way out in the desert?"

"Uh, not really."

"Reth is the goddess of life, and yet the desert is one of the harshest places in the known world. In the swamp, for all its dangers to us, life thrives; even after the rains, the plants are still growing everywhere. But in the desert, for the most part, life is an anomaly; what few creatures live there have to adapt to the heat and lack of water. So why is there a temple to the goddess of life in a land of death?"

You think about that for a bit.

"Is it something about how even in the face of such hostility, life finds a way to thrive?" you guess.

"Perhaps that's part of it. But step back from the thematics. Who built the temple?"

"Greblings?" you guess. "They make a big deal of her."

"Greblings and humans, actually. Though the human component tends to be downplayed in some quarters these days, it's true. So ignore, for the moment, the fact that it's a temple. Why would someone build it out there?"

"To keep something in it away from civilization," you say, barely thinking about it. "Maybe it's people, maybe it's treasure, maybe it's a weapon. But that's the first thing that comes to mind." You pause for a moment. "Not sure how that fits with a temple, though. Unless the thing they're hiding away has to do with their goddess."

You think on how that could relate to your question. But you don't see how, other than one weird possibility.

"Are you saying that whatever they're hiding out there, we're hiding something like it for some other god?"

Long doesn't respond. He probably figures he can't say any more, whether you're right or wrong.

Before you have time to reflect on that idea, though, the door opens and the priest comes back.

"Found it! Sorry I took so long." He glances around. "Other fellow still isn't back?"

"No," you say. "I should probably go look for him."

"I'd still appreciate it if you brought my own staff," Long says, standing up slowly. "This one's passable, but it's shorter than I'd like."

"I'll keep an eye out for it."

The priest leads Long away. Just as he steps out the door, though, he turns back to you.

"I think the fellow you're looking for is in that direction," he says, pointing. "But I could be wrong. I'm a little new to this."

Well. You guess you'd better go see what's keeping Ash. Though, you're not sure if you're properly prepared if it winds up being trouble.
Quote
RE: Swamped
You suppose there isn't much you can do to prepare. You'll just have to deal with whatever happens when you get there.

You start walking in the direction the grebling priest pointed. You start calling for Ash, in case he's injured or something; but you don't hear any answer.

But you do find an open door after wandering the hallways for a bit. And inside you see Ash, staring blankly at a message in his hands, not moving at all.

You also see a gigantic beetle. It seems to be looking at you, but it's not making any aggressive moves.

That is, until you get a bit closer to Ash, at which point it leaps at you, knocks you to the ground, and then goes back to where it was.

You pick yourself up. Strangely, nothing hurts. Your best guess is that the beetle doesn't want you examining Ash too closely, though you've got no clue why.

So what do you do now?
Quote
RE: Swamped
Great, another holy writ of paralysis. I guess just leave Ash to his own devices unless you feel like tangling with Qlat. Can you get any useful info from the beetle?
Quote
RE: Swamped
Take off your shoe and squish the beetle
~◕ w◕~
Quote
RE: Swamped
What happened to Ash is a lot like what happened to that wizard, though you don't know enough to say for sure if the gods are responsible.

But they probably sent this beetle. You've never even heard of them getting this large.

Well. Might as well try asking it questions. You don't really expect answers, but after encountering those lizards, you aren't comfortable just assuming that now.

"Did you do this to him?" you ask.

There's no response. It seems indifferent towards you in general.

Hells, this is frustrating. You almost want to give the thing a good swift kick or something, except that probably wouldn't end well if it is indeed a servant of the gods.

Maybe you should just leave. Ash doesn't seem in particular danger, if nothing else; the beetle seems to be keeping watch. You could grab Long's staff, give it to him and tell him what you saw, maybe go and find Rider...

Wait a minute. Long's staff. You don't see it; Ash doesn't have it, and you can't see it anywhere else in the room. Wonderful, as if you didn't have enough other things to worry about.

"What, did you eat the staff?" you ask the beetle, out of annoyance as much as anything else.

Much to your surprise, though, this time it turns its head towards you. It doesn't seem to be saying "yes" or "no", but it does seem to be expressing interest of some sort.

How about that. Does it know something about the staff, then? Or perhaps it's just hungry?

Well, either way you've got its attention. Maybe you can make use of that somehow.
Quote
RE: Swamped
Tell the beetle that if it fetches the stick for you, you'll give it a beetle snack. Use your friendliest, most enthusiastic voice.
Quote
RE: Swamped
You've only got one idea. You feel a little silly doing it, but then, if it fails all that's going to happen is a beetle will ignore you.

"Hey! Do you know where the staff is?" you ask the beetle. "If you bring it to me, I'll get you some food!"

You suppose there's a chance Ash can still hear you. Eh, doesn't matter - for all his faults, he's not the sort to tease.

At first, the beetle doesn't seem to react. Then it walks towards the door, and stops.

Maybe it's waiting for you? Probably not eager to leave you alone with Ash. You approach it, and it starts to leave. Well, may as well follow it.

The beetle takes you to another door. This one's closed, so you open it up and take a look inside.

You see Long's staff in there, all right. But that isn't all.
Quote
RE: Swamped
BEETLE SWARM
~◕ w◕~
Quote
RE: Swamped
The beetles seem to be pouring out of a very conspicuous crevice in the ground...
Quote
RE: Swamped
There are quite a lot of beetles in here. Thankfully none of them are as large as the one that guided you here, but they probably have more collective mass.

You aren't sure if these are more divine servants or just a lot of beetles. They seem to be staying away from the staff, but they're all over everything else.

Oh, wait. They're crawling all over the walls and... forming letters? You really hope this isn't one of those paralyzing messages, because this is definitely not a place where you'd like to be paralyzed.

BEWARE

The moment you finish reading it, the beetles scramble themselves again. It's as if they know how fast you're reading, which is almost as unsettling as the sight of that many beetles rushing around.

THE, GODS, ARE, NOT, OF, ONE, MIND

Well. That's not exactly reassuring, but the beetles don't seem particularly inclined to clarify just what you're supposed to do about it.

Fortunately, they also don't seem inclined to get in your way. They scurry away from you as you approach, and let you grab the staff without further incident. The large beetle wanders off, presumably to keep other troublemakers away from Ash.

Your first thought is that you should probably pass this message along. Trying to work out the motives of the gods is well beyond you. But who should you talk to about it first?
Quote
RE: Swamped
Long, right? You have to bring back his staff anyway.
~◕ w◕~
Quote
RE: Swamped
Maybe Ash has something to do with this. We should probably check up again, anyway.
Quote
RE: Swamped
You think it would be best to see Captain Long, since you'll be returning his staff anyway. The only thing is, you're not sure exactly where the grebling took him.

So you may as well check in on Ash before you go exploring. At least you know where he is.

Nothing seems to have changed since you were last here. You're a little thrown off at seeing the large beetle back here already, though. It didn't leave that long before you did, and yet you didn't see it on the way here at all.

That said, you did learn something since your last trip here. You know now that "the gods are not of one mind", so maybe whoever did this to Ash was acting on their own. Maybe the beetle was trying to keep you from reading the message and getting similarly trapped.

"Don't suppose you can tell me who sent him that message," you mutter at the beetle. It just ignores you.

Well, you can see the back of the message without getting closer. You didn't really pay attention to it before, because there were no words you could make out, but maybe there's something else that offers a clue as to its origins.
Quote
RE: Swamped
Should be fine. Pray and read the message.
Quote
RE: Swamped
It's woven from wool?
Quote
RE: Swamped
Well. You don't see any markings or anything, but you do notice something odd... that's not paper. It doesn't look like parchment, either.

It's hard to get a good look without getting too close, but you think that's... wool. That's an odd material to write a message on, but then, you're on a flying ship and there's an implausibly enormous beetle a few feet away, so it's not that strange by comparison. For that matter, it's a good deal more conventional than spelling your message out with a swarm of beetles.

You don't know what to make of it, but the priest might. And you're aiming to find Captain Long next anyhow. So you think you're done here. You head out into the hall and think about how to conduct your search.

You're most likely safe now, since the shaking's stopped. And with Shume paralzyed, not to mention Ash... well, the only person you have any worries about running into is Carma. But she probably won't be that hostile if the trial's taken care of - which you assume is the case, since the ship seems stable. So you can probably just go down the corridors systematically...

Unless, that is, you walk down one and find a rather large and angry ram. You notice that it's missing a small patch of wool.

What now?
Quote
RE: Swamped
Apologize for all the mutton you've consumed, and if that doesn't work, run like hell in the other direction.
Quote
RE: Swamped
You don't know the entire story here, but you don't think you need to.

After all, you can tell that there's a large, powerful, angry animal that's looking right at you. Not that uncommon an experience in the swamp.

So you'll treat it just like you would a rampaging swamp creature: by running away and hoping it can't run faster than you.

You flee back into the main corridor, and you hear a loud crash behind you not long after. A quick glance reveals that the ram can move quite fast; however, it's not so good at stopping. It's struck the wall, which is not looking to be in very good shape afterwards, but the ram is still getting its bearings.

In that case, you don't want to leave open space between you and it. You rush down a side passage. Maybe the ram will rush right past...

...no, that collision you just heard sounded very close. Hells. You'd better get out of here, then.

Wait. There's a ladder leading downward. Maybe you can lose the ram there. You climb down quickly, and soon find yourself surrounded by machinery.

Hmm. If the ram were to come down here, it could do a lot of damage. And since you aren't entirely sure what it wants, you don't know if that would discourage it.

So what do you do now?
Quote
RE: Swamped
Look at the machinery and see if you can make sense of any of it, or if there are any parts you could pull out and use
Quote
RE: Swamped
You can't really grasp what any of this machinery does. You can see a lot of moving parts - gears and belts and pistons - but you don't know what they connect to or how any of it relates to this ship's functions.

What does strike you is that it's mostly made of metal, and some of it's quite sharp. Could be more useful than the mudpike if you have to fight, especially since you've got Marshall's throwing glove. You spot a few gears that aren't actually moving, and decide it's probably safe to grab them. If they're supposed to be doing something, they aren't doing it right now anyways.

You recall that the priest mentioned Rider was down with the machinery, keeping an eye on something. Maybe you can find him. It would be good to touch base, and if the ram does try something, well, you'll be in much better shape having his help.

You're just about to call out when you hear a loud thump behind you. You glance over and see the ram at the bottom of a ladder. There's a fair amount of machinery between you and it, though, so it might not notice you... but not if you go hollering for Rider.

How should you handle this?
Quote