>>Previous threads can be found at: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Vale%20Quest>>In case you're lazy and don't want to archive binge, The synopsis and character descriptions can be found at: http://pastebin.com/WAF7dq90Astora held your hand tightly, leading you through the extensive dungeons below the Catastra estate, the hammer that the Heart of Flame had given you hanging limply in your hand. She led you upward, back to a hallway where the walls and floor were made of wood instead of stone, the pale light of sun filtering in from some window nearby."That was... strange." She said "That had never happened in that room before. It was always just the stars."
>>22880529"Yeah, probably because you brought me along. Sorry about that."
>>22880529"Rogue? Ares? Can you talk through the Hammer as well?"
Rolled 86>>22880529I have seen it before when I got the sword it was one of the murals on the wall ... odd I wounder how it got here (lest ask the sword about it)
>>22880529"You should probably hang onto the hammer, it is a family artifact, after all."
"Yeah, probably because you brought me along." You say. "Sorry about that.""Don't be." She said. "You're welcome here, and if the estate itself doesn't recognize that, then I'll have to burn the whole damn thing down."You look down to the hammer. "Rogue? Ares? Can you talk through the hammer as well?"It gleams, and you get flashes of images- a room, far away, a hallway, the walls made out of strange steel, and a strange gun- but nothing you understood. Something alien.<We can only speak through the sword.> Ares said.Astora let go of your hand, and started walking without you, through the halls of the estate. You sped up to keep up with her.
>>22880529"Is this one of those seeds that Gabe was talking about?"
>>22880598"Anything else you want to show me, Tori?"
"Anything else you want to show me, Tori?""Well, there's the atrium, the tower, the baths... " She said, thinking. "We should probably look at those in that order, since the tower's pretty cold. But if you want to talk to your sword... or the hammer, I guess... go ahead. I won't mind."She gave you a smile- something that didn't feel quite genuine.
>>22880738"No, I was just curious about something. Which way is the Atrium then?"Take her hand.
>>22880738"What, are you kidding? They're not going anywhere." Put an arm around her shoulder and say, "There's no one and nothing I'd rather spend time with than you, Tori."
>>22880771>>22880800These about cover it. Though I'd probably say "I wanted to check something" rather than "I was curious."
>>22880800Add to this:"That being said, it's another connection that you and I have that we didn't know about. The Hammer, the Sword, and the Spear are the three weapons that were depicted on the mural where I found this sword. And my father had the spear, according to Leez."
>>22880905Ooh I like this, let's keep going: "It makes me wonder if we weren't fated to meet."
"What, are you kidding?" You ask, and hook the hammer on your hip next to the sword. "They're not going anywhere. There's no one and nothing I'd rather spend time with than you, Tori.""Glad to hear it." She said, as you took her hand."Which way is the Atrium, then?""This way." She said, and led you through the halls. "It's another connection that you and I have that we didn't know about. he Hammer, the Sword, and the Spear are the three weapons that were depicted on the mural where I found this sword. And my father had the spear, according to Leez." You say. "It makes me wonder if we weren't fated to meet.""... I kind of wish we weren't fated to meet." She said. "Um! I don't mean that I wish we never met, but... That... um. I don't know how to explain."You thought you were near the kitchen when she pulled open a door, and instant warmth came through. Astora took a deep breath. The room was large, green, with a great window open to the sky, and dirt covering the ground, where buds and plants grew along the walls and floor, and several small trees sat in the center of the room. You saw a snowstorm brewing in the sky above, but the atrium felt... shielded from that, somehow."I love this smell." Tori said, and plucked two bright red fruits from one of the trees, tossing one to you. "These are safe to eat, but the cores and seeds don't taste very good." She said.
>>22881019"It's amazing, all this and it's freezing outside."
>>22881019"It's okay, I think I get what you meant."Eat the fruit.
>>22881019"Don't worry, I get what you mean."
"It's okay." You say, as she crunches into her own fruit. "I think I get what you meant.""I like the idea that we're here in the... defiance of fate." She said, flinging the core into the grass behind her. "But even if it is fate... I'm okay with that."You take your own bite, and sweet juices ran down your chin."Amazing." you say. "All this, and it's freezing outside.""And it wasn't made with a Gift, I think." She said, looking up. "I don't know who made it, but... Our family doesn't bear any gifts that bring forth plants. Not that I know of, anyway."You suddenly remember Ariana, as she danced in the desert of Atlask, wreathed in golden light, singing a wordless, tuneless song that sang of life, and growth, and struggle.
>>22881237"I get the same feeling in here as when I'm witness to Ari's Gift of Life. Maybe that's what it is. Or maybe they just happen to inspire the same feeling."
>>22881237lay down in the grass and look up at the sky
>>22881237"I can see how you got lost now, this place really is massive."
"I get the same feeling in here, as when I'm witness to Ari's Gift of Life. Maybe that's what it is. Or maybe they just happen to inspire the same feeling.""Maybe." She said, and lay down on the grass. "But, you know, it's not actually called the Gift of Life. There's already a gift called that. Though that's what it best fits, Ariana had to come up with a different name when she met the Crones after her coming of age."You lay down next to her."It's called the Gift of Peace, actually. Not because that's what it does, but that's what she plans to do with it. Remind everyone what life means, to keep them from fighting."The two of you lay there for some time."I can see how you got lost now, this place really is massive." You say."You get used to it eventually." She said. "Though... just the other day we found an entire room on the first floor that we didn't even know was there."She closed her eyes for a moment. "It looks like a storm. We should probably go to the tower before the storm starts properly, because it's open to the elements. But at least you'll be able to see Sanctuary from there."
>>22881506"I wonder if this place rearranges itself when you aren't looking, just adds a room here and there.Let's go see the tower, it seems like it has a nice view."
>>22881506"Alright, would you be so kind as to lead the way?"
>>22881506"Makes you wonder if the whole house is sentient and likes playing tricks on people."
"Makes you wonder if the whole house is sentient and likes playing tricks on people."She laughed. "We may be witches, but we aren't *that* magical. Though.. sometimes I have a feeling...""Let's go see the tower." You say. "It seems like it has a nice view.""It does." She said. "And let's."She pulled you to your feet, and led you to another room with a large cabinet and a slew of coats, most woven, and a few furred- and she tossed one of the thickest fur coats to you."You're probably not used to the cold, yet." She said, and took your hand again after you put it on. She led you down a set of stairs, past some underground pathway, and then up again, to a great, spiral staircase, the temperature steadily dropping as you moved.Eventually, you were halfway up an ancient tower, frosty, cold hay covering the ground, with an enormous hole in the side of the tower, revealing a stone city, far below. From here, you could see the entire city. Along the mountains surrouding the city, here and there, were similar mansions to the one you were in, and in the very center of the city was an enormous tower, stretching high into the sky."That's the tower we keep talking about." Astora said, leaning closer to you- which is when you realize that she hadn't donned her own coat. "It's where we're taught, and where orphans are kept until they are adults. It's also where the library is, and where the crones stay, I think."
>>22881668"Wow, how old is Sanctuary anyway? It's a lot bigger than I expected."
>>22881668O a library
>>22881668"How tall is it? I'm worried that something that tall without the proper architectural support will get weakened and buffeted by the weather and fall over."
>>22881668Open the coat and envelope her in it with us.
>>22881668Wrap her up in ourselves and the fur. "You'll catch your death out here like that.""How many High Families are there? I see a lot of mansions."
>>22881668you dont have a coat on open ours and pull her in for a hung
"Wow." you say. "How old is sanctuary, anyway? It's a lot bigger than I expected.""... It's as old as Skiitara." she said. "Maybe even older. The crones say we left when the empire was established, and made laws against magic.""How tall is it?" You ask. "I'm worried that something that tall without the proper architectural support will get weakened and buffeted by the weather and fall over.""Some twenty stories." She said. "But the walls are thick enough that I don't think it will be an issue."She shivered, and then you wrapped her up in your coat, an arm around her."You'll catch your death out here like that." You say."Nonsense, I have the gift of flame. If I get too cold, I can just warm myself up." She said. "... Not that I mind this.""How many high families are out there? I see a lot of mansions.""Well, there's the Nirnat family, the Primm family, they have at least four of those mansions, and then there are the Celeste families, which is closer to three bloodlines who all bear the same name, and then there are a few smaller families with just small mansions- or ancient families that are... dwindling. Like this one."
>>22881837>>22881831Guys, she has the Gift of Flame. She doesn't get cold. Come on.
>>22881901excuse to get close :P
>>22881897"What would it take to get this one back on its feet again? Ariana gave me the impression that her having a unique gift would be enough."
>>22881901I think you've missed the point.>>22881897"Are the strength of families based upon the gifts they have?"
>>22881897Do you want childeren?
>>22881939A little early for that talk. Besides that is a rather inelegant segue.
>>22881897Are you still getting suitors, now that you are Soultorn? Ariana said she was meeting her first suitor soon. You'll have to give him a good shaking down.
>>22881984How else do you make a family bigger, anon?
"Are the strength of families based upon the gifts they have?" You ask."Usually, but a family with only two witches isn't a family at all." She said. "Which is why Ariana thinks we should adopt Sansa. I'm fond of her, so I think we will.""What would it take to get this one back on its feet again? Ariana gave me the impression that her having a unique gift would be enough.""We don't have the prestige we once did, because everyone assumes that we're just going to die off or marry into other families. The Primms keep trying to get us to marry into them."
>>22882021Sansa is an orphan?
>>22882021Grin, "So if you had some eligible young suitor living here, it'd be different?"
>>22882021"Well from a political view they have a point, but you shouldn't worry too much about that. Marry who you want to."
>>22882021"I guess this way means you can choose whoever you want though."
>>22882021The Primm family seems large, do they steal up a lot of dying houses?
"Sansa is an orphan?""... She may as well be." She said. "She was the daughter of an Order Knight. One of the bad ones. She can't go back home.""The Primm family seems large. Do they steal up a lot of dying houses?""They try." She said, and sighed. "Back in the old days, when we were larger and they smaller, we were the two greatest bloodlines in sanctuary. Now it's just me and Ari. We're not well liked.""Well, from a political view they have a point, but you shouldn't worry too much about that. Marry who you want to.""I intend to." She said, and shot you a grin. "After all, someone who can defeat a wizard without any Gifts at all is pretty special, wouldn't they be?"
>>22882183Give her a kiss."Oh I don't know, about that. They may have been given magic since, so nobody would believe you."
>>22882183Yeah, but who would believe that?
>>22882183"I find the trick is to stab them, anyone could have done that, nothing that special there, gifted or not most people don't survive that, except Gabriel, but he cheats.I may also be an Angel, but that's neither here nor there."
>>22882183"If you're determined enough, then sometimes the world will move for you. That's all there was to it."
Anyone else getting some serious wood here?
"I find the trick is to stab them. anyone could've done that.""After leaping over and around the Gift of Earth." She said. "And he had the Gift of Fate.""Yeah, but who would believe that?""The Nirnat family, for one. You could simply say you're going to tell the truth about it, and have them geas you to the truth. And the crones would believe me. And if the crones say something, everyone listens. But that doesn't matter at all. It's only important how we think and feel."You shiver, and she sidled closer to you- her job as living fireplace was working, keeping you warm."Let's go back inside. It is rather cold, after all." She said. "And it's going to snow soon."
>>22882354Has it ever snowed in our little town of origin before?"I've never seen snow before."
>>22882354give her a kiss>>22882376i'll second that
>>22882376>You have seen snow before, and had every winter- you were actually trapped in a cave with a bear, once, when a surprise early snowstorm made you crawl into cover while hunting.
>>22882183I wish i had a ring cause you always had my heart
>>22882354"I don't mind the snow too much."
>>22882354Lets.How is ariana coping with being nobilis?
"I don't mind the snow too much." You say, but continue walking down the spiral staircase regardless. "but let's."As you put the fur coat back where you got it, you spoke up."How is Ariana coping with being nobilis?""Really, there's not much to cope." She said. "It just means that she doesn't need to worry about breaking the law- because there's no such punishment for nobilis. Though, she did ask the crones if you were permitted to be in sanctuary when we first arrived here. Owl said that she was glad that at least one of the nobilis still ask before doing things." She said.
>>22882564"Never hurts to earn brownie points."
>>22882564I thought there'd be trouble with suitors, and being the head of the Castara family. I was wondering if I could help out any.
>>22882564"So it's mainly just political movements you've got to worry about as a Nobilis?"
"So it's mainly just political movements you've got to worry about as a Nobilis?""Mainly, yes." she said. "To be honest, I'm glad she's nobilis. That gives the Primm family less opportunity to try to get to her.""I thought there'd be trouble with suitors, and being the head of the Catastra family." You say. "I was wondering if I could help out any.""... Well, with your station, anything you tried might have the opposite effect." She said. "But I trust Ariana to do what she wants. She's wiser than I am, for one, and I'm here to help her if she really needs it."
>>22882699"Yeah. Good luck to her."
>>22882699"I can always punch someone in the face if you want me to. I mean I'm an outsider, I can't be expected to follow all of your rules, and it can't damage my nonexistent social standing.So yes, I would beat someone up for you and Ariana."
>>22882699But you can wave your claw at people, scare them off.
>>22882699"So say we were to get hitched, would it decrease any of your familys standings? Considering I am not a witch and all... Mainly I'm just wondering if it's a common occurrence to marry outside of witch blood."
>>22882761Doesn't she have some issues with her claw being frightening.
>>22882699So how about them hotsprings?
>>22882699"How far are the hotsprings? You're right, I'm not used to the cold."
>>22882761Yeah, no. Let's not say that.
"I can always punch someone in the face if you want me to." you say. "I mean, I'm an outsider, I can't be expected to follow all of your rules, and it can't damage my nonexistent social standing. So yes, I would beat someone up for you and Ariana."She was silent for a moment, and then laughed."I could see you choking out that Primm bitch's familiar." She said, and continued laughing. "But that wouldn't be a good idea. Because then they'd retaliate, and it wouldn't be proper for me or Ari to protect you if you're flaunting your status as an outsider.""So... say we were to get hitched." you say. "Would it decrease any of your family's standings? Considering I am not a witch and all... Mainly I'm just wondering if it's a common occurrence to marry outside of witch blood.">Field too long!
"It's not common for the bloodlines, or the greater families... but it happens all the time in the city proper." She said. "But you're rather special. For one, you're an outsider, instead of someone who lived here. For another, you killed a wizard, and a kraken, and for third, you're related to royalty. That's enough for you to be more than just a non-witch.""So how about them baths? You're right, I'm not used to the cold.""Oh, right!" She said. "I'd forgotten entirely."She took your hand, and led you through another few hallways, and down a set of stairs- already you were getting confused, even with your exceptional navigational skill- until she stopped, pushing open another door, and you heard the sound of rushing water. You stepped in, and it was a great pool of water, the strong smell of sulfur rushing in through your lungs, bubbling water in the center pool.
>>22882931"That looks absolutely heavenly. Would you care to join me?"Start stripping off our clothes so we can get in the bath.
>>22882931Shuck a few layers, and test the water's temperature."Is this more magic?"
You strip off your boots, and stick your hand into the water- it was warm, almost uncomfortably so, as the steam came up from the center of the bath, where it was no doubt warmer."Is this more magic?" You ask."No, it's from the hotsprings in the mountain." She said. "The family who built the house had the Gift of Earth. They're responsible for most of the dungeons down below. That's why we have enough room here for maybe thirty people to live, not counting housekeepers."You blink. You'd thought this a mansion at first- when it was more like a keep."This looks absolutely heavenly." You say, and peel off your tunic. "Would you care to join me?""... I... uh." She said. "I uh... figured I'd... give you your privacy?"
>>22883082"If you really want, but bathing alone is pretty boring. Don't worry, I won't peek."
>>22883082Grin, "I'm not shy if you're not."
>>22883082Oh. Alright, I'll find you when I'm clean and warm.I'm sure these hotsprings will warm me up just find without you.
>>22882931Grab her by the waist and jump in.
>>22883082"If you're certain."
You give her a grin. "If you really want, but bathing alone is pretty boring. Don't worry, I won't peek." You say."You won't?" She asked."... Much." You add, and she went red."I uh, I'll think about it." She said, and crept out of the room. With a shrug, you apply the soap, used to the stinging, and then plunge into the bath- and it was much warmer than you'd thought, making you hiss. You were in there for only a short while before you hear a splash behind you, and Tori climbed in, a discarded towel sitting at the lip of the bath."There, now you won't be bored." She said. "It's... uh, good hospitality to keep a guest entertained."
>>22883238"Oh yeah? Maybe this time I could entertain you.."*swim up to her and kiss her*
>>22883238Don't peek, yet."That it is Tori. I wouldn't have enjoyed this wonderful bath as much if I was alone.So, would you like me to wash your back for you and make sure all of the little crevices of your hand get taken care of properly?"
>>22883238Be a gentleman.Peek
>>22883238Give her a grin.Lay back and relax for a bit, maybe hold her hand."How are you holding up, Tori?""I've been worried."
>>22883332Not yet, too soon.
You shoot her a grin, and then lay back a bit, relaxing."That it is, Tori." You say."I wouldn't have enjoyed this wonderful bath as much if I was alone."You were unused to this sort of bath, used to bathing in a lake, or pouring heated water out of a bucket onto yourself. The steam and the heat was just making you sleepy."I'm glad to hear it." She said, her arms crossed over herself, trying to keep her modesty with the water line. She squrimed uncomfortably when you glanced at her, so you relaxed again, looking to the ceiling, where steam gathered."How are you holding up, Tori?" You ask. "I've been worried.""I... keep telling myself I'm fine." She said, quietly. "It's just the loss of a familiar. I'll get it back eventually. Everything will be okay again. But... it's like.. a part of myself is missing. Like a hand or a arm or a leg. But... the stump never heals. It's just bleeding, painful. Cold."
>>22883464that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger
>>22883464We'll get through it. If I can do anything, anything at all, just ask.
>>22883464"I know, I can't even imagine anything as painful as it except losing one of my travel companions, and even then it probably wouldn't hurt as much.But you're absurdly strong, I know that you'll make it, and if you ever need anything from me just ask."
>>22883464"I think I understand a little. I felt similar when my mom died. Like part of me went missing and I could feel this empty spot in me. It's never something you ever really 'get over', but it's something that you learn to live with. To accept. It becomes a part of who you are. It never truly goes away, you never really forget it, but it gets easier in baby steps."
>>22883464Hang in there, you're strong, you'll get through this in no time.
>>22883571Add to this, "I meant it when I said you were strong too. You may not think so, but I've seen it in you. I'm sure of it."
"I can't even imagine anything as painful, except losing one of my travel companions, and even then it probably wouldn't hurt as much." you say. "But you're absurdly strong. I know you'll make it. And if you ever need anything from me, just ask. I mean it when I say you're strong. You may not think so, but I've seen it in you. I'm sure of it.""... I don't feel very strong right now." She said, quietly, her voice hardly audible over the burbling of the hotsprings. "I feel like I'm desperately trying to hold myself together, to keep moving, to keep breathing, and that sucking, freezing wound is draining all of... me out of me."She closed her eyes."I worry that in a year and a day, there won't be any... me left."
>>22883647That won't happen. I wont let that happen.
>>22883647"Even if you don't believe in yourself, I do. So stay strong, for me, I don't want to lose you."Give that girl a hug.
>>22883647Go and embrace her, "It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to let it out."
Rolled 48>>22883647"even the strongest structures can buckle all alone, you just need a little bracing till your keystone is returned to you""I am here to be that brace, so is little Ari, you can make it just give it time."
"Even if you don't believe in yourself, I do." You say, and give her a hug. "So stay strong, for me. I don't want to lose you."She responded with her own hug, pulling you close, her body steaming... and then she realized both of your states of undress, going bright red.She didn't stop hugging you, and then reached up and gave you a kiss."... I will." She said. "I'll be me. I promise."Some time later, you dressed yourself, as Tori, still in the bath, eyed you appreciatively."... Thank you. For talking." She said. "Now, I need to get dressed. No peeking."
>>22883929"That wouldn't be fair in the least, now would it? You watched me get dressed so I can't promise I won't look at you, though I'm getting the better half of the deal in this case, you're far prettier than I am."
>>22883929"well if you insist."after she dresses"I wonder if Ari has had any luck scaring that suitor off"
>>22883929I'll try to find the kitchen.
>>22883929"No peeking? But you were so forward with your marriage idea earlier."
"No peeking?" You ask."No peeking." She responded."Well, if you insist." You say. "I'll try to find the kitchen.""Don't get lost!" She called, as you made your way out of the room.Nearly an hour later, your sense of direction entirely lost, walking through endless, hardly lit halls, you walk into... a goat.A brown and white goat, walking there as if it were perfectly normal. It looked up at you, and bleated.
>>22884139Look right into its beady little goat eyes, stare it down, and bleat right back.
>>22884139hello, are you just a goat or someone's familliar?can you help me find my way out of here?
>>22884139"Are, uh,... Is this a familiar? Sansa?"
>>22884139Pat it on the head. "I don't suppose you know where the kitchen is, do you?""At least you'll make a good meal if I can't find it."
>>22884139"You must be Sansa, am I right?"
You stare directly into the goat's eyes, into the dizzying depths of darkness that lies behind them, endless, yawning, pits of eternal darkness, from which nothing returns.You bleat back.The goat charges, and slams it's head into your shin, giving you a rather bad bruise and knocking you to your knees. It bleated again at you."Are, uh... is this a familiar? Sansa?" You ask, recognizing the intelligence with which it looked at you.It nodded."... I don't suppose you know where the kitchen is, do you?" You ask, and it whirled around, trotting away, You limp along with it, your shin painfully bruised, and eventually reach the kitchen, where Sansa was stirring something in a pot."Don't make fun of me just because I can't talk through my familiar." She said, unhappily.
>>22884259"I wasn't mocking you, I just couldn't think of how else to respond."
>>22884259I wasn't making fun of anybody. You bleated at me first.
>>22884259"Sansa, given how large this house is I figured I just ran into a normal goat, as with a place like this there might just be a goat room somewhere, and maybe hidden goat passageways. You didn't have to hit me in the shin, that hurt."
>>22884259I wasn't mocking you, I was mocking a goat.I was not told what your familliar was, and from what I've been told there might indeed be a place in this house that a goat could have come from
"Sansa, given how large this house is, I figured I just ran into a normal goat. With a place like this, there might just be a goat room somewhere, or maybe hidden goat passageways.""... A goat room?" She asked, and sniggered. "That's silly."Then she thought about it for a moment, and shook her head."No, wait, actually, that wouldn't be that strange. The menagerie in the tower has a goat room, after all. Anyway, come chop up some onions and then brown the meat for me."
Rolled 76>>22884381"What're you making?"Rolling to cook
>>22884381"Sure thing boss.There might still be a goat room that none of us know about, the goats are there, waiting, biding their time, planning to strike when we're at our weakest."
Rolled 79>>22884381Someone who can actually cook? These girls don't deserve you.Rollan
Rolled 39>>22884381just so long as there are no turnips in this I'll help...
"Sure thing, boss. What're you making?""A Kalid meal." She said. "Long, stringy noodles, meat, lots of tomato, bit of onion, a bit of olive..."She shrugged."Learned it on my coming of age. Ended up a cook's assistant for a duke."
>>22884418Feral goats, forgotten for years and left to die in a dark corner, but they didn't die, they never gave up, they grew strong.AND NOW THEY'RE HERE TO GNAW ON US!
>>22884460Help her cook, while cooking chat with her."That sounds interesting, what was your coming of age like? Was it fun?"
>>22884460Being a cook is a nice life, I'm sure.I know you have the gift of Clay, anything else I should be scared of?
>>22884460"How'd that happen?"
>>22884460"All that knowledge must be coming in handy now. By the way, what's your other Gifts?"
"That sounds interesting." You say, slicing up the onion. "What was your coming of age like? Was it fun?""It was... interesting." She said. "Started it out in Edgardia, took a ship north to Kalid, ended up fighting off a spider the size of you with my Gift of Clay, became a chef's assistant, they found out about my magic and I escaped, awakening my last gift and bringing forth my familiar, and then lived with the wolves until the crones arrived to take me back with that big basket.""All that knowledge must be coming in handy now." you say. "By the way, what's your other gifts?""My birth gift was the Gift of Clay. Then my next was the Gift of Vermin, when I was eight. It works on wolves, dogs, rats, and badgers. Then the Gift of Flow was the last one I got. Strangest thing in my life."
>>22884623"Gift of Flow, what's that one do if you don't mind my asking?"
>>22884623"Gift of Flow? What's that?"
>>22884623The Gift of Flow? Is that how you moved so fast when I snuck up on Astora??
"Gift of Flow? What's that?""... It's.. hard to explain." She said. "I can... feel the wind. Feel movement before it happens. Feel things around me, and feel the air move. It's a whole new... sense, I guess. Even from this far away I can feel you breathe." She said. "but it's also... I can feel the best way to do things. The fastest and most... efficient? ways to move. Ari says I move like an elf when I do things with the Gift.""Is that how you moved so fast when I snuck up on Astora?""That scared the thirteen hells out of me." She said. "I couldn't even feel you moving until you jumped up."
>>22884707"Wow, I didn't know I sneak that well."
>>22884707"No magic, I assure you. I just spent a lot of time as a woodsman and have gotten pretty good at being sneaky and not drawing attention to myself.You'd probably make one hell of a swordsman with that Gift."
>>22884707I was in sneak mode.
>>22884707"I'll make sure to warn you if I do that again."
Rolled 23>>22884707eh, tricks like that were gifted to me by a friend of a friend; I'll not share much, but that at least is the truth of it.
>>22884766I think we were just that sneaky, we got a 100, I don't think Leez's gift was part of it.
"No magic, I assure you." You say. "I just spent a lot of time as a woodsman.""Interesting." She said, taking your chopped onions and stirring them into the pot. "Anyway, that's all I needed. Thank you for helping. Ari's talking to someone right now, so try not to bother her quite yet. Dunno where Astora is."
Rolled 59>>22884808well, I did a moment ago, no idea now...
>>22884808"Last I saw her she was finishing up in the bath, then I got lost on the way to the kitchen. So, she might be looking for me. You might want to goat search for her, maybe try to find the secret goat tunnels that only open for goatkind."
>>22884808So I gather most Comings of Age don't involve setting whole villiages on fire or fighting world shattering evils?I just ended up on a particularly messy one?
>>22884808"I'll probably stay here for now. Tori was just in the baths when I left her."
"Last I saw her, she was finishing up in the bath. Then I got lost on the way to the kitchen. So she might be looking for me. You might want to goat search for her. Maybe try to find the secret goat tunnels that only open for goatkind?"She stared at you."You can go look for her using the secret fooltunnels that only open for fools." She said. "They look like brick walls. You just have to walk in as quickly as possible, headfirst. I've given you a great secret, so don't waste it."A moment later, Astora peered into the room, hair still damp."That smells good." she said. "It's familiar.""It's spaghetti." Sansa responded, with a smile. "It'll be done in another half hour.""Mind if I steal Abel for a bit?" Tori asked."Go ahead, but Ari has a guest in the meeting room. Sounds important.""Okay, we'll keep out of her hair." Astora said.
>>22884922I found Astora! Looks like my fool tunnels are more useful then your goat tunnels.So we're going to peek in on Ariana, right?
>>22884922Go with Astora, she's got an awful lot of hair so we can brush it for her, can't be easy to take care of waist long hair on your own.
>>22884922"What's going on, Tori?"
>>22884922>>22884997"Speaking of hair, yours needs a brush."
"I found Astora!""So you did." Sansa said. You make your way out of the kitchen."What's going on, Tori?""I need you to help me with my hair, really." She said. "Normally I'd just gift of flame all of it to dry it, but I need to look nice for dinner. And since Ari's busy, I can't have her do it."Some time later, you sat on a large, soft bed, somewhere underground, warmly lit, a silver comb in hand as you sat behind Tori, brushing her hair."Today's actually a rather important day for Sansa, is why." Astora said, small flames flickering in her hair now or then, drying it gradually. "The 'guest' Ariana is talking to is one of the crones. Cat, I think it was."
>>22885118"About the adoption?"
>>22885118"Is it about her adoption?"
>>22885118Keep on brushing her hair. "Is this about Sansa's adoption? Because that does seem important."Also check out her Flame Hand, make sure we don't need to do any touch up work on it, if it's an important guest it ought to look its best.
>>22885118"I think I like Sansa, she's funny. What's the occasion?"Try to get tori to relax.
>>22885118"Do you still have the ribbon? I'll tie it up when it's dry."
"Is it about her adoption?""Yeah." Tori said. "It's going to be a surprise, and you need a crone in attendance for something like this. Cat will also want to meet you, most likely, so it's important you be polite to her.""Do you still have the ribbon?" You ask. "I'll tie it up when it's dry.""I do." She said, and reached past you to her pillow, grabbing the ribbon from underneath it. "Though I think I should braid my hair, too. It'd be easier if you knew how, though."You nod, and start braiding- used to this from the times Lyra forced you to learn.
>>22885261"Lyra always did insist I'd be lucky to learn how to do this. Didn't really believe her until now."
Rolled 82>>22885261lets see about an intricate or complicated flourish for the end of the braid."have you met this 'cat' person? I figure if she might be talking to me I should ask; also are there any complicated courtesies I have to worry about?"
>>22885261We'll need to shave then, and maybe even a haircut."Is Cat scary? Do I need to be worried?"
>>22885261"Is there anything I need to say when I meet them?"
>>22885261"I grew up with a sister, I know how to braid hair, though don't expect one of those fancy layered braids within braids things.How should I act around this Cat? I've never met a crone before."
"I grew up with a sister, I know how to braid hair." You say. "Is Cat scary? do I need to be worried?"Tori giggled. "No, no, she isn't scary. Owl's very scary, so we're lucky it isn't her, but Cat's one of the sweetest crones there is.""How should I act around this Cat? I've never met a crone before.""Just be polite. Call her 'ma'am'. Basic things." She said, as you finished up the braid, and tied it up with the ribbon. She turned around, and gave you a kiss, the palm of her Gift of Flame on your cheek. "But you *do* need to shave. Don't want her thinking that you're a savage."
>>22885453"But I am a savage, kinda. I'll shave, I'll shave, do you have any razors around?Do you mind if I take a look at your hand, it's been a bit since I carved it, it might need a touch up, just like my face."
>>22885453"Good point. Do you have a razor around here?"
>>22885453"But I am a savage."Roar at her and give her a kiss.
>>22885453"Agreed, it's been a few days. How's my work on your claw holding up by the way? Has it worn down any?" after she answers, "If you're ever interested, I've also an idea for how I might be able to integrate some gemstones, metallic inlays and such."
>>22885518It wouldn't be that hard to get a metal inlay of something with a lowish melting point. It'd pretty much be brazing, we just lay some of the metal along the places where its needed, maybe silver, she gets it to just liquid temperature and we spread it with a tool to make sure it's smooth. Though we'd need some flux to keep it from oxidizing too much. Gemstone integration might be more difficult, though with Leez's skills we ought to be able to pull it off.
>>22885596You know, I'm surprised she didn't comment about the wildfire tattoo in the hotspring.
"But I am a savage, kind of." you say."Hardly." she said. "You just need to get trained up a bit. Tamed, maybe.""Do you have a razor around here?""... Somewhere." she said, and shrugged. "There's all sorts of ancient things around here."You shrug, and make your way to the mirror in her room, drawing the knife you use to shave, and start shaving."How's my work on your claw holding up, by the way? Has it worn down any?""Well... when I bring forth my Gift, now, it's only the cracks between the scales that burst into flame. And then it hardens out to be pretty much the same. So you might need to smooth the grooves, but it's still pretty, unless you look really close." She said, tilted over your shoulder, watching you shave.
>>22885644That's good. Does it hurt less now it's been trained into certain paths?Shave ourselves a manly beard, to see how it looks, then a mustache
>>22885644"Well if you're ever interested, I've also an idea for how I might be able to integrate some gemstones, metallic inlays and such."
>>22885644"I wonder if we could fit jewelery for that hand."
>>22885644"So, are you planning on taming me then?I'll give your hand a touch up, we ought to look our best, the prettier you look the less attention is paid to my less pretty self. By the way, you might be interested in something I came up with, it actually wouldn't be that hard to make channels for molten metal with your hand, might be able to have silver or gold inlaid into your hand, making some nice contrasting patterns or just enhancing the ones currently there. I'm betting you have some precious metals laying around that we could use."Shave, see what we look like with a goatee, then just a mustache, and then go clean shaven.
>>22885644"How much time is left before you meet with her? I could try smoothing it now if you'd like."
"I wonder if we could fit jewelry for that hand." you say. "I have an idea for how I might be able to integrate some gemstones, metallic inlays and such.""... Well... I'm not sure that's a good idea." She said. "This is all just a single day of work, so if I have to put all my power into my gift , it doesn't matter when it all melts away. But if you put jewelry into it, then the gems and silver would be lost. I wouldn't want to waste all that work."As you shave, you experiment how you'd look with a goatee, then a mustache, but your sparse facial hair wasn't thick enough for anything that looked good, so you shaved it entirely."How much time is left before we meet with her? I could try smoothing it now, if you'd like."... We have enough time." She said, and kissed your cheek. "We have until Sansa or Ariana yell down at us that dinner is ready."
Rolled 11>>22885790"Alright. Let's do it."Rolling to carve that hand.
>>22885790Kiss her again. "Let's do that. You can sit on my lap while I work."
>>22885790"You might have a point, I just think it'd look really pretty with silver tracings in it."Give her a kiss, sit her in our lap and smooth out that hand, we've got Leez's gift so I don't know if we need to roll for something simple like that.
Rolled 50>>22885838Not with a roll like that.
Rolled 29>>22885790"Well if you thickened up parts of your claw, I could pretty easily socket the gemstones. Those won't melt. The inlays would have to be melted to get them on in the first place, but if we kept them away from the channels where the fire comes out they might stand a chance."Rolling for mad carving skills.
Rolled 43>>22885790Hackin', whackin', smackin'
"Let's do that." You say, and give her a kiss. "You might have a point, I just think it'd look really pretty with silver tracings in it.""You mean it doesn't look really pretty now?" She asked, with a wry smile.Some time later, she was sitting on your lap, leaning back, while you had both arms around her, one holding her clawed, taloned hand, while your other carefully smoothed out the grooves in the scaled, carved dragon's talon that her arm was, before brushing off the last remnants of stone grains that were left over from your carving."Hey, Abel." She said, twisting back to face you. "I... never thanked you for visiting me." She said. "Especially when I'm like this. When I don't feel like me."
>>22885851According to something Exa said in the IRC the other day, Abel was already equal to Leez in terms of carving before the boon.
>>22885911>stone grains>Stone granules, even. Yay, autocorrect.
>>22885911"If anything, I should be thanking you."
>>22885911"Don't mention it. If I wasn't with you during the bad times, I wouldn't have any right to be with you during the good ones. I care about you no matter what."
>>22885911Give her a smooch. "Don't mention it. I'm the one getting the better half of the deal, I get to spend time with a beautiful amazing woman and visit an amazing house, all you get is exchange is my company, I'm pretty much cheating you.If you ever miss me you can just look at your hand and remember how much you mean to me."
>>22885911"You don't need to thank me. It's the least I could do, to know your safe and looked after.""I'll have to leave all too soon, so let's make the most of our time."Kiss her until the dinner call comes.
>>22885911"I'll always be here for you, even at your worst."*kiss her forehead*"Did you not think I wanted to see you? It was killing me honestly not to be by your side through this."
"You don't need to thank me." You say. "It's the least I could do, to know you're safe and looked after.""I do need to." She said, and kissed you again. "And you're not allowed to argue with me.""... I'll have to leave all too soon, so let's make the most of our time." You say."Let's." She said, with a grin, and gently pushed you back onto the bed, kissing you.Carefully, Astora's kisses moved from your lips, to your ear, and trailing down your neck- both of you were breathing heavily, and you felt a claw pinning down your hand-When Sansa called down that dinner was prepared.Equal parts embarrassed and frustrated, Tori pulled away, giving you one last kiss."We should go." She said.
>>22886069"...We *should*. But do we?"
>>22886069"I suppose so."
>>22886069Tori's so dominant. I'm not sure how to feel about this.Make sure her hair is still good."We can come back later."Hold her claw as we walk back upstairs.
"... I suppose so." You say, and make sure her hair was still proper- which it wasn't. You'd mussed it up inadvertently. Quickly fixing her hair, the two of you made your way back up to the mansion proper, you holding her claw.In the dining hall, an extravagant room, clean almost to the point of shining, Sansa, Ariana, and a strange figure in a full-body cloak, hiding everything but her own laughing eyes and her mouth. She gave you a smile and nod."Ma'am." Astora said."Well, well, well." The woman said. "It seems I've already eaten, so let's get this over with so that I can leave you four to your dinner. Ari?""Uh, right." Ariana said. "... Sansa Velena."Sansa jumped."I, as head of the Catastra family," she said. "Formally invite you, to partake of our food, our life, and our Gifts. To become allied in blood. I formally open our doors to you- and, informally... I ask you to become my sister."Sansa's eyes widened."Of course." Sansa said."Well, that's that. Sansa Catastra, I've overseen this. Welcome home." The crone said, and clapped her hands. "Now, let me just nab this guy for a bit."Faster than you'd thought the woman could move, she grabbed your arm, and tugged you out in the hallway."... Abel's your name, isn't it?" She asked.
>>22886301"It is indeed, ma'am. How can I help?"
>>22886301That it is, ma'am. I understand you don't have one?
>>22886301Yes Ma'amAbel ByrneIt's nice to meet you, your town is beautiful beyond compare.
"That it is, ma'am." You say. "I understand you don't have one?""... Close enough." she said, and tilted her head. "Okay, I'll get down to the bottom of things, since I'm not one to stretch things out. Some hundred years ago, there was a knight named Kristoph. Yeah, that one. Apparently, he met a strange spirit calling itself the Bone of Earth- one that could sense the future. It told him many things, but the most important was that his descendant would arrive here. It was a duty, given to us, to pass a single message along to you. Are you ready to receive it?"
>>22886406"It'd be hard to say no. So, yes, I am."
>>22886406"...What. I mean, are you sure that's me? I've never heard anything about being a descendant of Kristoph himself."
>>22886406"Oh, this sounds important, sure.""Are you sure it's for me?"The message is a punch in the face, isn't it?
"What. I mean, are you sure that's me? I've never heard anything about being a descendant of Kristoph himself."Her eyes twinkled."You look just like him." She said, in a cryptic tone, and you had a feeling she was teasing you. "I'm certain.""... It'd be hard to say no. So, yes, I am.""Very well." She said, and closed her eyes. "The message is this. The twin keys need to meet the twin seeds. The hammer for the sentry, and the spear for the seer. Only then may the angel become whole, and bear the strength to consume the shards."
>>22886406"That...that makes sense actually. Thank you. May I ask you for a quick piece of advice?"if she accepts, "Do you think I should tell my sister?"
>>22886532"Yeah. Surprisingly, that makes a lot of sense. Does it mention who the sentry is?"
>>22886532The seer, so maybe Astora. No idea on sentry through.
>>22886532ur, thankyou.I don't suppose you have any insight as to what it means?Hopefully sanctuary won't get too involved in this mess, but my apologies if it does.
>>22886532"Okay, that makes some sense. I'm not entirely sure who the sentry and the seer are, the twin keys might be the hammer and the spear. I thought cryptic prophecies weren't supposed to make sense.And I must say you look absolutely lovely for your age Cat."
>>22886586Sentry'd be Stirge, I presume. She's been watching the games. But that would make Gabe the seer, with his knowledge?I'm not sure I like this.
"... bwa?" You ask."... It's a bit lackluster, for a prophecy." She said. " It's not even cryptic. It tells you exactly what to do. But a duty is a duty, is it not?""Yeah. Surprisingly, that makes a lot of sense." You say. "Does it mention who the sentry is? Or the seer?""... They're both human, and neither warlocks." She said. "The knight was certain of that.""... I don't suppose you have any insight as to what it means?""It's a prophecy, of course I don't. I'm not supposed to, of course. But then again... I do plenty of things I'm not supposed to.""And I must say, you look absolutely lovely for your age, Cat.""Cat isn't my name at all." She giggled. "But you're very charming, Abel."She shrugged, and turned, making her way away."Take care of my granddaughter." She said, with a wave, and then she... vanished.
>>22886677"Damn. You learn something new every day."Let's go get something to eat then.
>>22886677head back to the others."Your crones are very strange."
>>22886677Cat, Catastra, makes sense.I wonder if Lyra is the Sentry and Isalva is the Seer, that might fit. Well, let's go get some dinner with everyone.
>>22886677Does warlocks include witches?
>>22886780>Shoulda made this clear, but yes, it does.You make your way back into the dining hall, and take a seat."... Your crones are very strange." You say, and Ariana nodded, grinning at you."They are." Astora said, and took her fork to her meal. You met her eyes- and were struck with how similar they were to the crone's.>End of thread!>I'll stick around to answer questions, and my twitter is @futureexabyte.>And finally, as usual, I fuck around on the IRC (#Exabyte on Rizon), and I can answer any questions you have there, as well.
>>22886739hmm makes more sense than anything i came up with.
>>22886820Thanks for running, Exa!
>>22886739I think they call her Cat because of her familiar, just like the crone with the giant owl familiar is called Owl.
>>22886820yeah exa i'd like to know why you don't have any books published yet?your writing is astounding, i'm truly in love with your work.
>>22886873well she admitted that's her granddaughter plus they have the same eyes so the cat theory makes sense to be a shortened of the name.
>>22886890>any books published yet?Because I'm a lazy fuck. I can never get the determination to actually write something. VaQ's setting is such that it's a really good setting for a novel of some kind, so I intend to write something on it after I finish the quest. Albeit, without the whole 'angel/gabriel' metaquest.If it helps, though, I've also done a few other quests, if you haven't taken a look at them yet.
Don't think we can tell Ari or Tori that their grandma is a crone, what with Cat's duty to Sanctuary and all.
>>22886973Yeah, and she might get in trouble with the rest of the crones if they find out that she told us. They're supposed to completely forsake family ties to become a crone, after all.
>>22886955stop being lazy man! you could really turn this talent into something.i havnt. i heard you have done other quests but i never bothered to ask where they were.is there a way i can go back and read them?
>>22886973I'm going to guess by the way she was acting that she ommited a fair few 'greats' when she said 'granddaughter'. Especially since she seemed to know about Kristoph personally.
>>22887006http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=ExabyteIt goes NFCQ, SORQ, SCQ, SORQ again, VaQThere are a few missing from NFCQ so you'll have to go to the foolz archive for those ones.
>>22887033To clarify those are:Near Future Cyborg QuestSorceress QuestSpace Cyborg QuestThe two Cyborg quests are the same characters and setting, only the former is on Earth and the latter mostly takes place in space.And if you'd like, you can join our IRC channel. #Exabyte at Rizon.
>>22887033>>22887077just made my night, thanks.
>>22887077I would add that the IRC is where we do a lot of shipping of characters and generally messing about. Exabyte doesn't post important quest stuff there, just the occasional Fun Fact.
>>22887077and to further clarify, this isn't one of those "IRC is more important than the thread" type IRCs either, so don't worry. We don't suggest stuff there, and if anyone does, it's not taken for the quest itself.We do help him flesh out the setting a bit though.
>>22887123never veiwed an IRC before so this will be my first time. im fairly new to the whole /tg/ board but ive stuck by this quest since the start. its really one of the most exciting things with reading ive experienced.