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File: esoterica3.png (1.74 MB, 1028x862)
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The world was changed. Everyone knew this. They couldn’t help but see it, and recognize it, and only the vainest or most desperate would deny it. There were mountains in the mountains, demons in the darkness. The men of the South were gathering in their masses, their leaders politicking to build alliances of war and commerce. Dragons and their scaly servants rattled with and ululated with ecstatic joy for the fall of the Age of Man, in their bottomless and abyssal caves, allied with their black men and blacker elves, with joy in their pitch-black hearts. The shining city on the hill, Hawksong, was now the sick man of the continent—literally beset by a plague, with its Paladin King dead and his young daughter smothered by his shadow.

After centuries of peace and plenty, all the old horrors were back… But not ONLY horrors.

What most people didn’t know, in those days, was that it was not just an Age of Darkness, or of Dragons, or of Monsters, or of Chaos. This was an Age of Wonders, and Age of Miracles, and Age of Opportunity.

You just weren’t yet sure which side of the scale YOU fell on. You, and Izirina Henzler, and poor Costella Fanucci.

You three, who had journeyed beyond the Realm Material and into the plane-between-planes, who had beheld the Elemental Plane of Fire on your right and the Elemental Plane of Air on your left, and who had allowed them to bleed into your very being even as you swirled into one another. You who had returned to your world changed, not just in body but in soul.
>>
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>>5846486
Your name is Ezreal Van Houtzmann, born Ezreal Mious, and better known to your dearest friends as ‘Tips’. You had come from your mother’s country in the Sylvan lands of the elven race to Hawksong, birthplace of your father, to study magic in the prestigious Mages’ Tower of Hawksong. In your years here—almost half your thirty-five years, now—you had achieved truly tremendous things.

You had found friends, and become more comfortable with the stigma of your mixed blood.

You had met your father, Rudolfo Van Houtzmann, and adventured with him into the Goblin Wastes.

You had studied the traditions of the True Fey and of the Neme-Ashurati, and learned some of their sacred secrets.

You had mastered The Alchemy of Life, becoming a truly great manipulator of flesh and blood, to heal and to transform, and even developed applications never before seen.

You had uncovered conspiracies of Hawksong’s dark and troubled past, including that of the Tower’s own Archmage and her enigmatic adoptive daughter. You had become Mage Apprentice to the one, and lover to the other…

And then, eager to hide your holy mysteries from the Archmage and to mend your lover, to heal all Hawksong and its people of the plague and restore normalcy to this troubled world, you had allowed Izirina Henzler to trick you, to lead you into the beyond and into her fantasy of abandoning her afflicted body, transfiguring her tainted soul, and leaving her history, her biology, and this whole world behind.
>>
>>5846486
It has been a month since then. You keep expecting to wake up and to feel as you used to feel, to be as you used to be… But you aren’t. Neither you nor the world will ever be the same.

You had become…
>Aetherial
[You are no longer fully material in your default form. When you do not focus, or lack mana, you cannot interact with physical objects that are non-magical, your voice becomes faint to mortal ears, and your very existence becomes difficult to perceive without the second-sight of a mage or magical being. However, you can benefit from the effects of <Free Movement> far more readily, and can see and grasp spirits as surely as you once could physical beings.]

>Elemental
[You are specifically attuned to fire, wind, and electricity now, such that you require gloves and shaded glasses to hide your glowing eyes and protect others from your burning, shocking touch. Your skin glows subtly shedding a faint light, and all Elemental spells have reduced difficulty, as does unarmed combat against vulnerable beings.]

>Paragon
[The mixture of bodies and spirits between yourself and your two fellow-travellers shed all impurities in either. You have become uncannily beautiful and graceful in the way of elves, with the versatility and hardiness of men, and the strength and sinuous dexterity of the reptilian race, and a perfect bill of physical health and a deeper reserve of mana than before… But you feel different, and you don’t entirely recognize your reflection anymore.]

[Previous threads (and previous quests set in the same universe, though they’re not required reading) are at https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=ReptoidQM]
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>>5846493
>Paragon
Mostly because of Costella
>>
>>5846493
>Aetherial
what's with the material-focused options!? Away from +here+ and into mystery!!
>>
>>5846493
>Paragon
>>
>>5846493
>Elemental
>>
>>5846493
>>Aetherial
>>
>>5846493
>Paragon
Has Tips become a gigachad? No wonder he doesn't recognise himself. What a chad.
>>
>>5846486
>There were mountains in the mountains
how unusual

>Aetherial
get fucked spirits
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>>5846493
>Paragon
Based new reptile race
>>
>>5846572
Paragon option sounds dangerously like a femboy to me
>>
>>5846493
>>Paragon
We already have Elemental Infusion and Free Movement
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>>5846589
*monsters in the mountains
[Fuck's sakes, I'm the worst proofreader]
>>
>>5846891
[Elemental infusion and free Movement pale in comparison to what following those specific paths will enable, if either of those are the direction you desire to follow.]


>>5846834
Tips is a half-elf. he's already effeminate
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>>5846834
Bro have you seen our pic? It's in >>5846487
We're as femboy as possible. I can't even call Logan gay.
>>
>>5846959
and it's weird because rudolfo is such a chad...
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>>5846493
Is the form we select going to be shared between Izirina&Costella. Or are they going to have a different change?
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>>5846493
>Aetherial
>>5846922
still funny though
>>5846834
nigga we're already a femboy
>>
>>5847006
Mentally, physically he's old and busted and really sounds like more of a dex build even when he was in his prime.
>>
>>5846493
>Aetherial
>>
>>5847099
>>5847006
>Rudolfo van Houtzmann, Human Rogue 5, 14 STR, 14 CON, 16 DEX, 10 INT, 8 WIS, 16 CHA, Weapon Finesse & Skill Focus (Perform, Lute)
[Tips could have ended up more muscularly built, but he's more bookish and spiritual and even in the Goblin Wastes didn't really get into the thick of things athletically or martially when given the options.]

>>5847018
That's a spoiler.
>>
>>5846493
>Aetherial

This one fits tips the most.
>>
>>5846493
>Paragon
>>
>>5846493
>[You are no longer fully material in your default form. When you do not focus, or lack mana, you cannot interact with physical objects that are non-magical, your voice becomes faint to mortal ears, and your very existence becomes difficult to perceive without the second-sight of a mage or magical being. However, you can benefit from the effects of <Free Movement> far more readily, and can see and grasp spirits as surely as you once could physical beings.]
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>>5846524
[Sole Elemental anon, if you have a preference, you may wish to choose a secondary vote. it's a very close race between the other two options.]
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>>5847171
>>5847165
>>5847155
>>5847106
>>5847044
>>5846891
>>5846592
>>5846589
>>5846572
>>5846539
>>5846524
>>5846517
>>5846507
>>5846502
[Locked and writing!]
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>>5847381
You had become… Aetherial, you supposed. It was as if when you returned form that other world, not ALL of you came back. You slept atop a bed as normal, sure, but as you then stand up and step off of it, you fall to the floor slowly, and it requires a moment of concentrated effort to avoid falling through your floor and into the abode below. When you wash yourself, the soap slips through your finger—not between them with wet slickness, but THROUGH them, right through what should have been solid flesh and bone! You look into the mirror and see yourself, clear as <Daylight>: you were no ghost, no <Free Moving> spiritual entity.

You were… You. Yet you weren’t.

You had become something else, something that other people stare right through… WALK through, if you’re not careful. The people are the worst, too: other objects barely register when they transpose your body, but the ensouled… They make you feel a profound discomfort, when they share your space for more than a moment.

As for the others who had made the journey there and back again with you, who had danced in the space-between and been transformed… Well, they were changed, but differently. The shining bright spot of the whole experience was Costella. You’d barely known the young woman before the dance, only as a test subject for your efforts to cure the ‘dragon-pox’ plaguing Hawksong, and deformed into a yet-more reptiloid monstrosity by your (semi-successful) efforts to cure her. You knew only that she had valued her appearance above all else, and had sought to return her some of that pride and comfort, while simultaneously proving your fairy cure to Hawksong’s queen and her council… And you’d succeeded.

Costella had returned more beautiful than ever she had been before—taller, stronger, somehow ‘fuller’ in her substance, and with a touch of the grace which you had inherited from your mother’s people… And which, after a fashion, she had inherited from you, when your souls and bodies had mixed and mingled. Her skin was still faintly scaled, when one looked closely, but they had become so fine and so evenly intermingled with her skin as to appear faintly greenish freckles across perpetually sun-kissed skin. Where people seemed to often lose sight of you as soon as they took their eyes off of you, she now drew stares from every quarter, like a goddess descended from the Heavenly Realms above. She hadn’t only changed on the outside, though.
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>>5847429
“It’s like… I was sleep-walking through life, you know?” Costella had told you. “I just wanted to sell stuff at my parent’s store until, like… I don’t know, I landed a husband, or maybe just until something, ANYTHING interesting happened. But interesting things are ALWAYS happening, when you know what to look for! Since we got back, I’ve been reading—like, not the Grey press and junk like that, royal gossip or whatever. REAL books! There are so many, like… BIG ideas out there that I guess maybe I always felt were too big to really understand. Maybe I was just, like… Thinking small?”

(You were fairly confident she could now perform magic, too, with the right tutelage. Certainly, she could see you in a way that non-mages rarely could)

And as for Izirina…

“Izzy,” you whisper to yourself.

What HAD become of you and Izirina Henzler—your oldest rival, your dear friend, your first lover, and the young woman whose origins and peculiarities had dominated your waking and dreaming life for almost a decade? The woman who had transformed you into a living spectre, sabotaging a simple experiment in her endless quest for transcendence?

The woman with the glowing eyes like holy fire, whose flesh crackles with electricity, and whose hair now blew in an unseen breeze? Who seemed scarcely human—or even elven, or reptilian—any longer?

>You haven’t spoken with her much since the incident—you aren’t sure how to feel about her, and what she did
>You feel closer to her than ever, for good or for ill, for who else can you share in this new existence with?
>You turned away from her, actively avoiding her—you still haven’t forgiven her, and you suppose you're on something of 'break'
>Write-in
>>
>>5847432
>You haven’t spoken with her much since the incident—you aren’t sure how to feel about her, and what she did
is she a pretty elemental at least ? And it seems Costella became the dumb Bimbo <---> Nerd Stacey meme, but in this case more bimbo and more nerdy.
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>>5847432
>You feel closer to her than ever, for good or for ill, for who else can you share in this new existence with?

So everybody got one of the options? Good thing we didn't take paragon, I feel like Costella would have been miserable with either of the other 2.
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>>5847432
>You feel closer to her than ever, for good or for ill, for who else can you share in this new existence with?
>>
>>5847432
>You haven’t spoken with her much since the incident—you aren’t sure how to feel about her, and what she did.

she almost got us killed, she defiantly has to make up for what she has done before things become all fine and dandy.
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>>5847432
>You turned away from her, actively avoiding her—you still haven’t forgiven her, and you suppose you're on something of 'break'
What the hell, Izzy.
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>>5847432
>>You turned away from her, actively avoiding her—you still haven’t forgiven her, and you suppose you're on something of 'break'
BETRAYAL
>>
>>5847432
>>You haven’t spoken with her much since the incident—you aren’t sure how to feel about her, and what she did

Okay now we have Parangon Costella, I really really wish to get her into a strange and messy relationship with Izzy and us.
>>
>>5847432
>>You turned away from her, actively avoiding her—you still haven’t forgiven her, and you suppose you're on something of 'break'
she's stinky. and not in the good way! stinky witch!
>>
>>5847432
>You turned away from her, actively avoiding her—you still haven’t forgiven her, and you suppose you're on something of 'break'
Had I realized this was back, I would’ve chosen Paragon. Why the fuck did anons think turning into a ghost was a good idea?
>>
>>5848259
>Why the fuck did anons think turning into a ghost was a good idea?

Because it is? The old spriggian once said that our material form holds back our potential. Now we are part sprirt and can turn into an invisible and intangible ghost whenever.
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>>5848259
Because it was a good idea.
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>>5848292
>>5848326
>>
>>5848259
Because it allows both Izzy and Costella to be literally and figuratively smokin' hot?
>>
what happens when we clone ourselves now?
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>>5848429
>picking physical buffs as a mage over intangibility and a greater connection to the spiritual
Not sure why you think this is a good idea. Plus Costella would have been miserable.
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>>5848512
You've never tried before, but now... Well, that IS an interesting question
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>>5848259
>>5847888
>>5847736
>>5847733
>>5847706
>>5847611
>>5847546
>>5847504
>>5847476
[Locked and writing!]
>>
>>5848628

In truth, you’ve seen relatively little of Izirina Henzler since your return. You’d spoken, when you first came back… But perhaps ‘spoken’ was the wrong word.

“IZZY,” you’d shouted, “what the HELL?!”

“We did it,” she’s whispered excitedly, the smile not leaving her face as she regarded the crackling energy radiating from her outstretched fingers. “I feel… Wow. This is AMAZING!”

“You could have gotten us KILLED. You realize that, right?”

“This is just the beginning,” she’d said. “Yous aw that place… Formless, shapeless, but WE could shape it! Make it over in our image—now that we’re better! THAT could be the better WORLD that we’ve always wanted, Ezreal!”

“You mean that YOU’VE always wanted,” you noted sourly.

But she hadn’t heard you—or hadn’t been able to pull herself out of her own tempest of emotion to properly respond. You’d reached out to help Costella instead, and had taken her away from that place, while Izirina slowly levitated and radiated energy behind you, reveling in her new power—a beautiful, terrible, living sun, purged of impurities and made almost divine…

And yet only then did you truly see how deeply flawed and broken she was.

It wasn’t that you hated her, exactly. You hadn’t been AVOIDING her. But… You couldn’t go back there, to the Tower, to her room or to yours. Too many memories, and the pain was too fresh. It was only when you were making your way through Hawksong to your new (temporary?) residence that you realized what exactly had happened to YOU, and how profound the changes had been to Costella.

No longer able to remain in the Hawksong Mages’ Tower, school and then home to you for years now, you instead found yourself bedding down… Elsewhere.
>>
>>5848680
As for the entire purpose behind your jaunt into esoteric magic and extradimensional spaces… Well, Izirina was cured of her affliction, and then some. She is no longer the sad and isolated shut-in with scaly skin and chimerically-crippled reproductive tract but instead some sort of… Of elemental super-human! And Costella, well, she is delighted with her ‘perfected’ body and mind, a purified and refined paragon of physical and mental being. Despite this, even Costella—perhaps ESPECIALLY Costella—recognizes that you could not reasonably utilize this process as a remedy to the dragon-pox.

“Not THERE, anyway,” she notes, with a small shiver and a cute frown. “Not like what we—well, YOU TWO, I guess—did. Not everyone’s going to like, turn out like ME.”

“No,” you noted quietly, “they might turn out like me.”

“Oh!” she gasps, bringing a hand to her lips. “I’m sorry. That was TOTALLY insensitive of me. I didn’t mean it like that, Ezreal, really!”

In truth, you were still grappling with how you felt about the ritual and what it had transformed you int—not quite a ghost, fully alive, and yet apart from the rest of the world. At dusk and sawn, in hidden and liminal spaces, though… Well, you saw clearly things now which you had only perceived in a shadowed, fragmented, or faded state before. You could see the shades of the deceased around graveyards, exchange glances and nods with the spirits of streams and the small spites which flitted around flowers even in the urban sprawl of Hawksong, and the floating luminous parade of dreamers ascending beyond their bodies each evening, and the angelic, demonic, and fairy spirits which hovered amongst them, playing their strange games and dancing their cosmic dance.

Your existence was complicated, but it wasn’t all bad… But it wasn’t something you could necessarily expect most people to choose, nor could you guarantee that they would turn out like YOU, and not different in some undefinable—maybe TERRIBLE—way, if you were to guide the afflicted in a dance, even on this material plane.

How did you plan to approach the ritual?
>Perform it as originally planned—here in the Material Palne, it sound function normally… And maybe even help to bind you back to Earth!
>Teach the ritual to Costella—she should be capable now, sharing as she does in your elven essence, and if SHE leads others in the rite they are likely to end up more like her, which is safer for everyone involved
>Abandon the use of the sacred fairy-ritual which transformed you—it is too dangerous, you have concluded, and you do not yet fully understand itrite-in
>>
>>5848683
>Teach the ritual to Costella—she should be capable now, sharing as she does in your elven essence, and if SHE leads others in the rite they are likely to end up more like her, which is safer for everyone involved.

Seems like a reasonable option if we are worried about the plague victims becoming ghost-like due to our changed essence.
>>
>>5848683
>Teach the ritual to Costella—she should be capable now, sharing as she does in your elven essence, and if SHE leads others in the rite they are likely to end up more like her, which is safer for everyone involved
double the dancers, double the subjects
>>
>>5848683
>Show Costella as your example of a perfected cure to the Queen and Council so they'll approve the land grant and you can uphold your deal with the Fey.

Sure they all won't turn out as good as Costella did, but she's the best example we could possibly find. If they don't approve it after seeing her, they never would have.
>>
>>5848683
>>Teach the ritual to Costella—she should be capable now, sharing as she does in your elven essence, and if SHE leads others in the rite they are likely to end up more like her, which is safer for everyone involved
>Starting a cult, the quest
this is gn' go great
>>
>>5848683
>>Perform it as originally planned—here in the Material Palne, it sound function normally… And maybe even help to bind you back to Earth!
>Abandon the use of the sacred fairy-ritual which transformed you—it is too dangerous, you have concluded, and you do not yet fully understand itrite-in
Absolutely do not teach it to Costella. She is 100% the kind of thoughtless, selfish human the Spriggan would hate, even if she has some bit of elf 'blood' now. She would see it as a way to become beautiful, or something to sell, or something she can USE, rather than as something solemn or valuable or deserving of respect
>>
>>5848847
>I accidentally fused >">Write in> with the last option
[Eurgh. Sorry, anons. Please ignore that.]
>>
>>5848683
>Abandon the use of the sacred fairy-ritual which transformed you—it is too dangerous, you have concluded, and you do not yet fully understand
>>
>>5848847
[Also, I'm not sure I understand: do you wish to try to perform the ritual as originally panned, or abandon its use?]
>>
>>5848683
>Teach the ritual to Costella—she should be capable now, sharing as she does in your elven essence, and if SHE leads others in the rite they are likely to end up more like her, which is safer for everyone involved
Accidental lichdom with a race of homegrown frankenstein fairy dragonborn under our command?
>>
>>5848683
>>Teach the ritual to Costella—she should be capable now, sharing as she does in your elven essence, and if SHE leads others in the rite they are likely to end up more like her, which is safer for everyone involved
>>
>>5848683
>Perform it as originally planned—here in the Material Palne, it sound function normally… And maybe even help to bind you back to Earth!
Anon might be on to something regarding Costella's personal qualities
>>
>>5848445
kek, you got me there

>>5848526
>choosing the spiritual over our physical ties to the world
Is what you mean. Like, fuck, our poor chimera, family, and friends must be worried sick, and we put additional challenges to our physical magic cause of this. At least the Paragon turns us more into fey, and not some Harry Potter specter like Headless Nick.
>>
>>5849502
Wrong on all counts I’m afraid. According to the update our transformation is nowhere near the handicap you imply, and Paragon would have diluted us with human and reptilian, not concentrated us.
>>
>>5849521
>>5849502
>Aetehrial implications
[You have to expend effort to be fully tangible and detectable to mundane humanoids and some animals, and if you expend all your mana (ie cast three spells in a single short period like a combat encounter) you cannot do so at all.]

>Paragon properties
[If you'd chosen Paragon, you would have had a subsequent vote as to whether you being more manly, more elven, but you would have taken on some degree of reptilian properties as well (mostly superficial, some added height and strength). It would have largely presented you the best of both world of your parentage, +1 Athleticism and +1 to your mana pool. There may have been a hidden downside as well, aside form the fact that, yes, Costella would have become Elemental or Aetherial and hated it\
>>
>>5849521
We haven’t used any spells yet dude- the moment we run low on magic, our utility changes to useless. Paragon is frankly superior, even with the gene nonsense I don’t give a shit about.
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>>5849559
What you call useless I call very difficult to kill. We’re nigh invulnerable to mundane weaponry.
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>>5849645
So we get to watch impotently as all of our friends and family die in combat? Greeeat.
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>>5849868
I’m sorry you struggle to understand why people wanted a spiritual boon over a physical one in a quest called seekers of the esoteric, where we play a mage. Hopefully one day it will be clear to you. In the meantime, please stop whining.
>>
>>5849914
People wanted a physical boon lol, and excuse me if I think a three spell limit on our physical utility is not worth the ‘spiritual boon’, whatever the fuck that means in your head. The whole thing with Tips was that we’re supposed to be the ones semi-grounded to the material plane, not fucking off to lala land like we’re Izzy on shirin.

I’ve said my piece.
>>
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>>5849914
>>5849935
[The voter went the way it went. Adjusting fro IDs which turned out to be 1-post, Aetherial won by an even larger margin. I appreciate the passion, but no one can win every vote in a quest with any number of voters, and no vote was objectively wrong for the direction of the quest or will lead to me punishing you all.]

At least not on that particular vote, dun dun dun

>>5848962
>>5848932
>>5848920
>>5848850
>>5848847
>>5848829
>>5848810
>>5848762
>>5848739
[Locked and writing.]
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>>5849946

There’s a certain draw to the idea of performing the ritual yourself, so automatic it verges in the instinctual. This is fairy magic—YOUR magic. It’s been half your lifetime, almost, since you lived among the elves, but that almost accentuates this urge: the urge to keep this secret safe, specific to you and yours, and to thus set yourself apart. It has become YOUR thing, your secret edge and a core part of your identity as a stranger in a strange land. You're understandably loathe to give it up, even for a good cause. There’s good practical reason to be concerned, as well: just look at what happened when you shared such secrets with IZZY, who you trusted and l—

…Who you held very dear.

Costella is… Well, she’s grown on you, but she is a shallow creature in many ways. She reminds you a bit of Testa, but where Testa is a gifted mage with a fair for the aesthetic and the dramatic, Costella is no aesthete, no beautician, no performer of grandiose illusion. She’s just… Costella Fanucci, merchant’s daughter. The ritual that so changed you and Izirina Henzler just made Costella MORE COSTELLA. She isn’t a BAD girl, or a MEAN one, not CRUEL or AVARICIOUS. She’s just… Normal. A regular, pleasant young woman whose principle concerns are simple, material ones. Her new passion for reading has focused on fiction and historical dramas and romances, or (despite her assertion that she is now ‘above gossip’) civic politics that amount to little more than public feuds between nobles and guild-houses. She understands them better now, draws connections between them in ways you strongly suspect were beyond her before, and she delights in sharing these ‘revelations’ with you and anyone who will listen, but even now she is no great thinker. What if she uses this sacred, secret knowledge for some petty, vain, HUMAN purpose?

But she is beautiful.

This isn’t necessarily a LUSTFUL thought on your part, or a romantic observation. It’s just objective. She is a gorgeous woman, statuesque and shapely in a perfect, unattainable fashion now. With her interest in reading, she has also acquired an interest in fitness and health, but you suspect she has no great need for such measures to maintain this physical perfection. It’s simply part of who and what she IS now, just as your semi-tangibility and attunement to dreams and spirits is a part of you. The addition of her daily exercises only accentuates the striking success of the procedure that made her this way, though, such that simply showcasing her to Queen Ekaterine and the Royal Privy Council is enough to instantly authorize the grant of Old Maple Hill and the surrounding lands to the fey that live there… Just as you knew it would.

But to make sure that the other afflicted victims of the pox turn out like Costella, and not like you or like Izirina, you must teach HER the words, and the dance.
>>
>>5849976
“I don’t know, Ezreal…” she says, in a rare moment of less-than-total self-confidence since her transformation. “I’m not, like, a WITCH, you know?”

“Female mages are still called mages,” you gently correct her. “or ‘sorceresses’. Witch is considered pejorative.”

“See?!” she throws her hands up in the air. “I don’t even, like, know the LINGO! I haven’t been to school EVER, you know? Not even grammar school or for, like, MATH.”

“But you can see me,” you point out. “You can touch me.”

“Well, I mean…” she trails off, twirling her hair around a finger.

“That’s a mage thing,” you say, “or an elf thing, and ALL elves are mages, by human standards.”

“That’s just because of me and you dancing together,” she says quietly. “I didn’t… It’s not ME doing all that. It’s you.”

“It’s us,” you correct her.

She blushes slightly, but smiles.

“Jeez, Ez, you sweet-talker. You really think I could be a… A mage?”

“I don’t know,” you joke, “but you make a damned fine half-elf.”

“More like a third,” she replies, grinning wider now. “Can’t forget the lizardy bits.”

But she agrees, and the lessons begin. Over the next few weeks, you tutor her first in the words. She remembers the meanings well in the Northern Common-tongue of Man, but less so the elven. Still, she doesn’t struggle as badly as you’d feared—perhaps another side-effect of the admixture of your essences, during your first dance. And speaking of the dance…
>>
>>5849978
“This is awkward, right?” she asks, as you hold her hands in yours, fingers intertwined, mirroring one another’s footsteps in a slow mimicry of your earlier whirling in the astral sea.

“No,” you lie through gritted teeth. “Why would it be awkward?”

“Just… Like, a guy and a girl holding hands like this and dancing while staring into one anotehr’s eyes…”

“I’ve been avoiding eye contact, actually,” you note, with a clearing of your throat. “Which… Yes, alright, perhaps it’s a BIT awkward.”

“RIGHT?” she says.

You continue in silence for a moment.

“Have you… Like, talked to her?”

“Not in a while,” you admit for you both know who you mean—HER, Izirina Henzler, the remaining third of your trio.

“But you want to, right?” she presses.

You say nothing.

“It’s just… I barely know her, but whenever I see the Mages’ Tower, I like… Can’t help but stare, and think about her,” continues Costella, as if oblivious to your turmoil, or just desperate to share her own. “I feel this PULL. Like… Well, it sounds silly, especially for a girl talking about another GIRL, but like my soulmate is there. My other half, or… Like, THRID, I guess?”

You still say nothing, but your feelings must show on your face, for Costella queezes your hands a bit more gently.

“Sorry,” she says. “I know it’s… I know you two were close.”

“Yes,” you admit. “We were.”

“I guess I’m lucky you’re spending all this time and effort, like, teaching me your ‘moves’, you know?” Costella continues to blather, almost criminally free from angst and self-consciousness now. “It takes the edge off, since at elast both of US are together. I wonder… I guess I wonder how she feels.”

Your expression must REALLY have darkened, because Costella lets go of your hands and hastily cups your face.

“Oh! Oh no, I’m sorry! Don’t cry okay? If you start crying, I’LL start crying!”

“I’m not going to cry!” You protest, grabbing at her hands and pulling them away from your face…

Only to find her deep blue eye fixed on yours, and your bodies and faces remarkably close.

>Cry, and embrace
>Kiss Costella [initiates romance]
>Continue the lesson normally
>Write-in
>>
>>5849980
>Cry, and embrace
Turn on the waterworks!
>>
>>5849980
>Cry, and embrace
I hope this isnt our only chance to romance Costella, I just dont feel like this is the right time as Id like to explore the whole "soulmate" thing by having Costella and Izi bond first, and then initiate the traditional reptoid polycule of course
>>
>>5850003
>traditional reptoid polycule
[Entirely feasible, but point of order: Kamunu/Ismena The Infiltrator simply fucked around and/or raped people, and her brief stint of polyamory with Paula and Edwin ended with them getting hitched and her sulking about it, and Theral had less of a polycule than a traditional patriarch's harem; none of his wives were into each other.]

>is this the only chance?
[Never say never, but after my initial offer of a romance option, I'll usually only offer it one more time if it's rejected. Glowie and Iri were exceptions because they had designs outside of love. After that, it's up to anons to write-in their intentions.]
>>
>>5849980
>Cry, and embrace
>>
>>5849984
>Kiss Costella [initiates romance]

Izzy tricked us, risked our lives to further her theories into the planes. And she didn't even brother apologizing or saying anything about it.

Until she shapes up, she doesn't deserve the waifu spot. Also the last thing she said to us
> “Yous aw that place… Formless, shapeless, but WE could shape it! Make it over in our image—now that we’re better! THAT could be the better WORLD that we’ve always wanted, Ezreal!”

Sounded a bit sociopathic, i feel that chasing after izzy at this point might encourage her increasingly bad behavior.
>>
>>5848853
my intent was an approval vote for anything that wasn't teaching costella. such is questing, that anons do not instantly agree with all of my amazing, indubitably correct ideas and opinions.
>>5849980
>Kiss Costella [initiates romance]
Tips is an unfortunate soul, to say the least.

They just met so I'm not gonna vote for romance now...is what I would have said but I think it's a terrible decision and therefore very funny!
>>
>>5850079
>They just met
[Technically you've known each other for a few months, but Costella spent most that time as essentially 'Test Subject 7' to Tips, and was in an increasingly deep depression, and sometimes appeared to be a terrifying gecko/crocodile woman]
>>
>>5849980
>Cry, and embrace
>>
>>5849980
>Kiss Costella [initiates romance]
>>
>>5849980
>>Kiss Costella [initiates romance]
if mixing up souls doesn't count as a valid reason for three-people couple, I don't know what would.
>>
>>5849980
>Continue the lesson normally
>>
>>5849980
>Cry, and embrace
I'm all for polyromance, but we barely know her.
Backlink: >>5846502
>>
>>5850258
Would’ve preferred Zi desu, but such is the quest
>>
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>>5850258
>>5850179
>>5850150
>>5850148
>>5850102
>>5850079
>>5850060
>>5850013
>>5850003
>>5849984
[We've got a close call here... Luckily, I'm at work for a while, giving late voters a chance to roll in and break the tie more decisively, or those with non-backlinked 1post IDs to backlink!]
>>
I'm >>5847476 only now noticed the id changed
>>
>>5850608
[You weren't the 1post; k71nfQff was.]
>>
>>5850459
You both remained like that for a long time—well, what FELT like a long time. At times like this, you’d noticed, time seemed to stand still. Perhaps time, like space, like the various dimensions, was just another matter of subjective perception? Maybe it all only meant as much as you believed it to, when you got down to it? Maybe a moment could stretch forever, or the space between two people could close up in an instant, collapse in on itself until they were—

Oh. Oh! She’s kissing you. And… You were kissing her back. Costella’s hands still cup your face, one slowly sliding around behind your head, knocking your hat to the ground and tangling in your hair. Your own hands find her sides, just above her shapely, hourglass hips. She softly squeaks into the kiss, surprised; the reaction only encourages your automatic response, as you pull her hips to yours. Her lips part, inviting you; your tongue finds hers, accepting the invitation. She clutches you closer, moaning into the embrace.

“Ezreal…” she breathes.

“Izzy,” you gasp.

A pause. Your breathing hitches. Your heart catches in your throat as you realized what you said, and what you’re doing, and aren’t sure which one you should regret.

“Ah, I mean…”

“I… Oh. Oh gods, I’m sorry,” Costella says, releasing you and stepping back so abruptly so quickly you actually fall forwards at her feet. “I’m sorry! I didn’t even think about—”

“No, no, it’s okay,” you lie, not yet sure if it is. “I mean, it wasn’t entirely YOUR doing. I was also—”

“But you’re vulnerable!” she exclaims, tears welling in her eyes. “Your heart’s all, like, broken and you’re CONFUSED and I just went and GRABBED you and—"

“Costella, HONESTLY, I’m… It’s fine.”

“I’s NOT!” she wails. “You LOVED her!”

You hesitate to reply to that., your concentration wavering such that you began to sink into and through the floorboards of the room where you were practicing your dance a few moments before.
>>
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>>5850871

“I don’t… I don’t know if I did,” you admit. “I never really allowed myself to properly… We never had time for all that. It was always one crisis to the next, or one adventure after another. I CARED about her, and I wanted to help her, but I…”

You stare down at your hands, passing through the wood below them, and fear the sting of tears forming in your own eyes.

“I failed, didn’t I?” you whisper. “I didn’t help her. I just… Enabled her. Let her lad us all into her spiral, her obsession, and now…”

The tears begin to fall-curiously tangible, unlike the rets of you.

“Hey, hey, no!” Costella admonishes you gently, kneeling in front of you. “You did your best. You always do. I’ve seen how hard you work… Like, for everyone, not just you. When I and the others were all poxy, you spent MONTHS trying to fix us. And when you found the first cure and I was… Well, you know, all gross and scaly… You still kind of DID IT, right? You’d won? That was a big deal! But when you saw how… Like… How sad I was…”

Her own tears start to bubble up again, and she reaches out to take your hands in hers—in that way only she, and Izzy, and a scant few other beings can. She lifts them out of the floor, guiding you back up onto your feet and onto solid ground—quite LITERALLY grounding you in the here and now.

“You saved me, Ez. Really, I… I couldn’t have lived like that. And if Izirina’s your soulmate… Well, she’s lucky to have you, and she’ll see that!”

“I was just doing my job,” you murmur.

She shakes her head, glaring almost angrily, only for her expression to melt.

“Nobody asked you to do all that!” she says. “You MADE it your job to help me, and to help her, and even now when you’re all hurty, you’re STILL making it your job, you know?”

You meet her eyes, and she smiles at you, and places your hat back on your head, taking a moment to play with your hair as she does so.

“You’re my hero, you know that?” she tells you.

You can’t help it—the tears come back. True to her word, this elicits tears in Costella as well. You don’t kiss again, but you do hug one another, holding each other tight, and finding comfort in each other—in a moment that lasts only an instant, yet stretches on forever, but romantic and not. The bond between you, two people who have barely known each other in the grand scheme of things, is profound in a way you cannot yet define. It is beyond friendship, not quite romance, too impassioned to be familial… But you feel in in your soul, suffusing you and making you whole—or nearly whole—once again.

“We should finish the lesson,” you sniffle.

“Yeah!” Costella agrees, messily wiping her eyes and nose on her sleeve in a way that makes you both cringe and laugh. “We’ve, like, got more people to help, right?”
>>
>>5850873
Together you dance, and sing, and somehow it all seems to come more naturally now to the both of you. The heartache isn’t gone, the ambiguity of your emotional connection remains, yet the awkwardness abates. By the time evening arrives, you’re confident—REALLY confident, to a degree that surprises you—in Costella’s ability to lead the ritual, and to thus share the gift of her ‘paragon’ physiology in some small part with those others afflicted by the pox.

But for you, it’s bed-time.

Your attunement to a realm without sun or moon ahs alleviated your automatic solar-lunar response, whereby the onset of darkness plunged you immediately into a soporific state without magical aid. However, od habits are hard to break—when dusk comes, you find yourself seeking home, and hearth, and a warm bed in which to take your rest. Costella, by contrast, seems to need less sleep than she did as a regular human.

“I guess I just, like… Sleep BETTER? Like, efficiently, I mean?” she muses, tapping her lip and looking towards the ceiling in thought. “I don’t know, I guess I just thought it was an elf thing?”

“It’s not,” you confirm, stretching and yawning.

“Well, sleep tight Ez!” she says and, after a moment’s hesitation, gives you another hug and a peck on the cheek.

(You only blush a little, or at least that’s what you tell yourself.)

With the Tower an absolute impossibility for you right now, in your current emotional state, where have you been making your bed these last few weeks?
>In your best friend Logan Pearce’s apartment, in the mage district known as the Initiate’s Village
>With Costella’s family, above a small shop near the central commercial hub of the city
>With your human father, Rudolfo Van Houtzmann, and his sister’s family
>Outside of Hawksong, on Old Maple Hill, with the True Fey, away from mankind
>Write-in
>>
>>5850876
>With your human father, Rudolfo Van Houtzmann, and his sister’s family
>>
>>5850876
>With Costella’s family, above a small shop near the central commercial hub of the city
Or
>With Zi and Hershy
Figured I’d add them as an option
>>
>>5850971
>Zi and Hershy
[They're still out-of-town adventuring with Efron... But not for long, and if people are eager to see them back and vote accordingly, I may be willing to expedite their return, especially since you've essentially cured the dragon-pox epidemic.]
>>
>>5850876
>>With your human father, Rudolfo Van Houtzmann, and his sister’s family
>>
>>5850876
>With Costella’s family
>>
>>5850876
>>With your human father, Rudolfo Van Houtzmann, and his sister’s family
family strong, toretto, cars, corona beer
>>
>>5850876
>With your human father, Rudolfo Van Houtzmann, and his sister’s family
>>
>>5850876
>With Costella’s family, above a small shop near the central commercial hub of the city
>>
>>5850876
>In your best friend Logan Pearce’s apartment, in the mage district known as the Initiate’s Village
>>
>>5850889
>>5850971
>>5851032
>>5851033
>>5851130
>>5851144
>>5851236
>>5851237
As you walk home, you cannot help but steal a glance at that ivory tower splitting the dark sky, jutting out amongst the stars like great dagger, as if to threaten the throat of the moon itself… The Hawkson Mages’ Tower. It had been your home for years and somewhere inside—probably in her musty room near to the top, though who could say given her current state—was Izirina Henzler. So too your master, Theresa Henzler, Izirina’s adoptive mother and the Tower’s Archmage. How would she react, to see you now? What had her reaction been to Izirina?

Maybe one day you would find out… But not tonight.

Your fairy-soft footfalls stir leaves like a subtle breeze rather than crunch them, and which scarcely shift even light gravel. In due course, they carry you away from Costella’s family home. Even at this time of night, this area of the city would normally be a bustling hub of activity—this area and, perhaps, the Red Lantern District known for bathhouses, bawdy entertainment, and libations. Both are all-but-empty tonight. Liquid refreshment, bodily fluids, close proximity… All of them are possible vectors for the pox. As the person principally in-charge of the city’s disease-response for many months now, you know better than most that this is an over-reaction… And yet, it CAN be spread, rarely, though intimate acts at least, and perhaps kissing.

Kissing… Intimacy…

You shake away thoughts of Costella, memories of Izirina, and even grim reflections of the plague which—gods willing—the city shall soon be free of. None of those brave or desperate few who brave the curfews and contagions notice you pass by them; you give them wide birth, so that they won’t pass THROUGH you. Your spectral stroll carries you in due course to where you woke this morning, and where you have called home since you returned from your journey beyond Earth and sky: to the home of your father’s family, and your cousin Fenna, in the city’s poorer southeastern region, a few blocks from the foundries and workshops of the ciy’s Smithing District.

“Who goes there?” asks your father, absurdly and with great pomp, as you open the door.

Your old man—truly old now, his lustrous head of hair and thick, well-kept beard fading to grey where they had once been black, and beginning to thin. His eyes are still bright as ever, his senses sharp, and even seated at the table in the centre of the humble home with a bottle of spirits and a freshly-empty glass at his side, his hand is swift to his sword upon his hip.

You will yourself to be just a BIT more ‘present’ on the prime material plane, that he might perceive you properly.
>>
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>>5851454
“Oh, I should have known!” he responds with an easy smile. “Well, come in my child! Sit down! Did you have a good time at—hmmheh heh---‘dance classes’ with you lovely lady friend?”

You feel your face heat up, and will yourself not to blush. The words ‘it’s not like that’ come to mind, and almost reach your mouth, but…

Well…

“It was fine,” you say instead, more curtly and with greater delay than you’d intended; your father’s grin widens.

“That’s my boy!” he cheers. “Let me pour you a drink. Tell me everything—except that which must be, a sthey say, never told for the sake of a lady’s honour, ey wot?”

“It wasn’t like THAT,” you say truthfully, attempting (and failing) to refuse the drink.

“Of course, of course,” your father murmurs faux-seriously, with a saucy wink, pushing the rather floral-smelling liqueur into your hand and pouting himself another.

“I’ve told you before: the water in this area isn’t contaminated with the pathogen,” you tell him, as you gingerly sip the potent beverage. “You CAN drink something other than alcohol.”

“I do, I do!” Rudolfo Van Houtzmann protests. “This is just my after-work reward. You know, after a hard day’s adventure, your mother and I and all our party were LOYAL patrons of whatever tavern would have us. Likewise, ey, for responsible work-day in what passes for civilized company toiling for those copper-counting magpies at the Engelson Storehouse Company—Hells, I may just need the drink more, haha!”

Despite his complaints, your father’s spirits have remained bright all these years since you convinced him to retire from adventuring life. Still, as you sit with him, you cannot help but be cognizant of how much he, too, ahs changed. He has not traveled between planes, not be transformed in an instant, but he is a full-blooded human—born of a short-lived race, in comparison to that of your elfmaid mother. Every subtle liver-spot, every crinkle of smile-liens around his bright eyes like yours, reminds you that he is now in his seventies. You have been sharing his room in the home of his niece this last month—space being at a premium, with her four children, and his brother and HIS wife and child. You are well aware of the aches and pains with which he rises on cold mornings, the cracks and pops which accompany his exercises. You have scarcely changed in appearance from the day you me him—a few inches taller, a bit more developed, but still barely a young adult, while this man—still working on the docks, a hard and physical job—sometimes seems as weakened by age as any man or woman of Hawksong by the sickness sweeping the city.
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>>5851456
“So you’re saying the bloody dragon-pox is all but dealt with, then?” you father asks. “Well cheers to that! I knew you would do it. My son, Ezreal Van Houtzmann, DRAGON-SLAYER!”

You smile a little at that, shaking your head.

“Nothing like that, I’m afraid,” you said.

“Well, slayer of the dragon-POX, ey wot?” your father presses, clinking his glass against yours.

You both finish your drinks, and return to your respective beds. The floors creak slightly under your father’s footfalls, though—of course—you pass over and through them with ghostly silence. Your father used to stay up late into the night but, between the plague and his advanced age, he has been nearly as early-to-bed as you have this last year. He always stays up to see you return home, however.

When morning comes, you are awoken by the commotion of your cousins and their kin. Your father’s sister’s husband’s brother’s child wake the house as always, by loudly voicing his displeasure at being awake, and yet unwilling to return to sleep. He’s barely two years old, at that stage of development you would have reached by three or four years, you suppose—when a child tests boundaries and is most eager to assert a personality before it is even built. His parents, young people who both live busy lives working in the nearby Smithing District as a steel-grinder and a mess-cook respectively, have little energy or inclination to correct him. Luckily for you, you are half-elven, and an early riser—you are already up. You drift out of your bedroom and down the stairs, willing yourself into corporeality, to greet the family.

“Good morning,” you greet them each in turn—younger Gustaaf, Marlien, Susan, Anne-Marie all around your age, little Addison and his mother and father Adolf and Marit, and of course Fenna.

They are all humans, many of them younger than you, and yet by your elven youth and newness to the clan, they treat you much like the ‘kid’ of the family, Addison aside. Fenna, de facto matriarch of the household since her husband’s passing, dotes on you in particular. The woman, your cousin by way of your father’s sister and only a few years older than you, is perhaps the hardest worker and the most generous spirit you’ve ever encountered. She is employed at a nearby shop, and yet also toils to take care of her four children AND has taken it upon herself to help tend to her baby nephew… And, in all honesty, takes care of you and your father as well, and without hesitation.

“Good morning, Ezreal!” she greets you. “Sit down, sit down. I’ve cooked up a big breakfast for you. Eat it ALL this time, hm? You’re a growing boy!”

“I’m thirty-five,” you pout, but sit down.

“Even so,” she says, her voice sing-song as she shovels bacon and roast vegetables onto your plate, and pours you…

“Is this BEER?” you ask, sniffing it.
>>
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>>5851458
“Can’t trust the water,” notes Adolf.

“I’m telling you,” you say, frustrated, “you CAN trust the water. The pox hasn’t reached the wells around here, and it’s being well-isolated and tracked by the Paladins.”

“Some of the men down at the foundry near my work caught it last week,” Adolf argues. “We don’t know exactly how it works yet.”

“I’m LITERALLY in charge of figuring out that exact thing for the Archmage,” you sigh.

“Yeah,” scoffs Adolf, “and how’s that coming along?”

“Actually—”

“Your rotten friends probably got that over at the Red Lanterns,” Fenna chimes in, plopping some breakfast noisily in front of her brother-in-law. “Keep an eye on this one, Marit.”

“That’s uncalled for, you know!” Adolf grumbles.

Your father, latest to rise and eldest in the house, soon joins you, interrupting the argument before it begins. You’re grateful for the interruption. Adolf is a good enough sort, but prone to rant at length about all manner of worldly inequity, and mistrustful trust the opinions of experts and authorities on general principle. Which… Well, the Archmage and Queen ARE both woven into a tapestry of lies and secrets, including some related to the plague. You suppose you cannot exactly say he’s WRONG to be suspicious. He simply takes it too far, and his theories are often scattershot—directed at travelers from afar, and non-humans, rather than those you know—or suspect, or believe, but cannot exactly come out and SAY—are more proximately responsible for his woes. He is an exemplar of the fear and mistrust which has seized the city in the last few years.

“Addy!” Marit cries, surprising you all.

“What? You can’t be taking Fenna’s little joke seriously, Mare?” Adolf grouches.

He pales when he sees the actual cause of her alarm. You all do.
>>
>>5851459
Little Addison, who has been whining in his usual manner, has particular cause this morning. At first it appears a rash, all up and down his abdomen and leg, but as his mother frantically removes his clothes for a better look, you recognizes that the blisters and scabs beginning to form around the edges are not the result of scratching or chafing under clothes…

They are the beginnings of scales.

“You were saying?” growls Adolf… But then casts his gaze around. “Hey, where did you go?”

Your concentration broken, your fork slips through your fingers, and you fall through your chair to the floor. You stare at the afflicted child for a moment, and then stand to your feet.

“I need to go,” you say, but nobody in the house hears you.

Focused upon the Addison and his burgeoning pox, they do not spend long looking for you. Not possessed of a magical sense, they do not see or hear you as you stand and leave.

The next few weeks take on an increasingly personal dimension as your dancing, singing, and ritual rites become your paramount focus. Your father’s family succumb are isolated in their home until the vector by which the disease reached them can be ascertained… And, though it does not spread easily between people with casual contact, it CAN spread. Washing their clothes together, sharing dishes… It can happen. You’ve SEEN it happen.

The cure cannot wait.

“We’ll save them,” Costella promises, with confidence she frankly has no basis for but which nevertheless brings you comfort, giving your hand a squeeze.

You seek special dispensation for your father’s family to be first among those who will accompany you and Costella to perform the rite, out on Old Maple Hill. There, in the parcel of land around the ancient maple where the spriggan who taught you this holy ritual holds court, there is enough nature to make it really work to its utmost—to allow Costella to guide the energies of nature and life into the souls and bodies of the afflicted, rather than the impurities and filth of even quite-civilized metropolitan living. Your tutelage has been paying off, as has Costella’s enhanced intelligence and her spiritual attunement to you—her pronunciation is perfect, her movements precise without being stiff, and you can even SENSE that her mind and spirit are as they must be to enact the ritual.

There is just one problem.
>>
>>5851460
“You want us to do WHAT?” Adolf busters, while Marit clutches their bundled-up baby boy close, staring with wide eyes—eyes with yellow rings, and slit pupils, veins visibly from lack of restful sleep. All three of them are, by now, victims of the chimeric plague.

“It’s just a dance and a song,” you try to assure him.

“The dance and song that turned you into a ghost, you mean”

“I’m not a ghost,” you protest.

“You might as well be,” he counters.

“I’m not sure…” Marit murmurs.

“Look, it’s that or the injections,” you try to explain. “Which, even then, you refused. And the results are unpredictable. And you’ve SEEN Costella! This WORKS!”

“Sometimes,” Adolf says. “One out of every three times, as far as I know.”

“That was different,” you say.

“So you don’t even know this will work, then!” he snaps.

“If my son says it will work, it will work,” your father speaks up in your defence. "Ezreal is the Archmage's own APPRENTICE, Addy! And you should have seen the miracles his mother worked, back in the day... We never could have defeated that sphinx without her magic, wot! Elf magic... You can trust it to get the job done, every time."
>>
>>5851462
You look to your father appreciatively, but as your gaze lingers, your heart sinks. In the period of isolation, Rudolfo Van Houtzmann miraculously avoided contracting the dragon-pox, but he looks worse off than any who did. You fear you had misunderstood him, and what it is that keeps him going: that hard work, those late nights of partying and drinking with rowdy men and women half his age or younger… You’d thought they must have been aging, but now you suspect they were somehow invigorating him, the activity keeping him energized. Now he is like one of the Smithing District’s clockwork contraptions, without anyone to turn his key and wind him up, gradually slowing and sinking into inactivity. He still drinks—more than he ought to,--and still tries to maintain good cheer…

But age is catching up with him.

The ritual, for maximum effect, must be performed tomorrow night. It can only be performed on a new moon, and can only transform (and thus cure) a small group of people at a time, one time, each month. Others have been waiting far longer, and perhaps require it more urgently, but a young child like Addison is especially vulnerable to the worst effects of the dragon-pox—including death. And Adolf, for all his blustering, is a member of your extended family—the family which has put you up, and taken care of you for months now.

What will you do?
>Argue with Adolf, and try to persuade him and his family to come with you
>Leave them to their fate for now—perhaps you can help them next time
>Steal the child away from them—frankly, they cannot stop you—and save Addison at least
>Write-in

And what of your father? His ailment is… Well, simply AGE. He is no pox-victim. He is not SICK, but he is-slowly, but surely—dying. This ritual infuses a person with something of the True Fey—it could very well help him to regain some of his lost vigor, though you can’t say how much time or energy it will grant him. But… Is it right to do so? To forestall a natural death, and at the expense of another person’s opportunity to be cured this month, potentially risking someone else’s life? And if it works… if you can extend a human’s life this way… What will it mean, when the Race of Man learns this?
>Invite your father
>Do not invite your father
>Consult with someone [who?]
>Write-in
>>
>>5851465
>>Steal the child away from them—frankly, they cannot stop you—and save Addison at least
Stealing kids in the night? We ARE fey now
>>>Consult with someone [who?]
>>>Ask HIM if he wants to live for longer by becoming similar to you
>>
After the ritual works and he gains mystical vigor, we sent him to the elf lands, fuck yes
>>
>>5851465
>Argue with Adolf, and try to persuade him and his family to come with you
>>Do not invite your father
>>
>>5851465
>Argue with Adolf, and try to persuade him and his family to come with you

>Ask HIM if he wants to live for longer by becoming similar to you
>>
>>5851465
>Argue with Adolf, and try to persuade him and his family to come with you
>Ask HIM if he wants to live for longer by becoming similar to you
>>
>>5851465
>Argue with Adolf, and try to persuade him and his family to come with you

>Do not invite your father
>>
Rolled 16, 10, 1, 9, 19, 17, 19, 15 = 106 (8d20)

>>5851515
>>5851532
>>5851564
>>5851664
>>5851668
[Alright, locked and writing, and wrapping up this arc.]
>>
>>5851742
You know the outcome you desire, of course. It’s obvious: it is in the best interest of your father and of Adolf and his family that they should all participate in the ritual. The difference between you and Izirina is this: even if you believe you know what’s best, you have no intention to force it upon anyone else.

“Adolf… Addy… Come on,” you appeal to him. “You trust me, right?”

“I…” he trails off, exchanging a quick look with Marit.

“I’ve been spending all this time on this to make sure it goes right,” you tell him. “What happened to me… It’s not going to happen again. I’m making sure of it. It’s why I’ve taught the rite to Costella—so she can perform it instead.”

“It’s still foreign, fairy magic,” he protests. “Who really understands it?”

“Less foreign than what’s already inside of you,” you point out. “Adolf… Amrit… Even if Addison survives the pox, it’s not…”

You take a breath, but resolve to do what you must to get through to them, even fi it means telling them the truth.

“It’s not just some disease. It’s a weapon. It’s meant to cripple and sterile humans.”

“I knew it!” Adolf almost shouts, looking furious—as well he might. “Bloody lizards! And the Queen and the Tower have just been hiding this from us?! I bet they’re behind it all!”

You frown. It’s an oversimplification, and you aren’t ENTRIELY certain what has been going on between closed doors. The Queen is married to a member of the reptilian race responsible for the pox, or so you’re told, but then why would she be helping you to alleviate and stop it? There’s too much you don’t know, so all you can do is shake your head.

“I don’t think that’s it,” you say.

“But you don’t know?” Marit asks. “Not even you, Ezreal?”

“It doesn’t matter,” you state firmly. “I’m not doing this for them, for the Queen or the Council ro the Archmage.”

(Not even for Izzy, not anymore.)

“I’m doing this because people are getting sick and dying,” you tell them. “Because Hawksong has been good to me, and so have you. You’re my family, Addy, even if not by blood. You opened up your home to me.”

“Fenna did,” Adolf grumbles, looking awkwardly away. “I didn’t do anything.”

“You’ve been welcoming,” you assert.

It’s mostly true, too. Even if he’s no great fan of non-humans or half-humans, Adolf has been cordial with you, and never made you feel unwelcome. Marit has always been kind, and helpful, and little Addison… Well, he’s an innocent, and a cute kid, and it hurt syour hear to see him suffer—so much so that a part of you is tempted to steal him away and heal him if this approach doesn’t work. But you’re not Izirina Henzler, and so you must ask:

“Please, let me help my family.”
>>
>>5851848
19 thousand characters... Okay, gonna' split this update. It really got away from me!

>16, 1, 10 for Sociability

Adolf looks back to you, lower jaw jutting, eyes narrowed… And he puts out a hand. You stare at it for a moment and then, with an effort of will to force your corporeality, you shake it.

“I’m trusting you,” he says, meeting your eye and pumping your hand. “Trusting you with my only son. Don’t let me down.”

“I won’t,” you promise.

“Of course not!” you father says with a grin, placing a hand on each of your shoulders. “You’re a Van Houtzmann now!”

You mull on what that means—to be a Van Houtzmann, ‘one of the strong men’ by its ancient meaning. Right now, it feels like a heavy burden to shoulder… But perhaps with that name, that lineage, comes the strength to bear all of this responsibility.

And speaking of the Van Houtzmanns and your responsibility to them… There is one more matter that you must discuss.

“Rudolfo… Dad… Can we speak for a moment?” you ask, as Adolf and Marit begin making preparations to depart.

"What are we doing if not just that, hm?" he asks, grinning too widely at his own dumb joke.

You roll your eyes, but can’t suppress a smile—if just for a moment. But this is a serious matter which you must now discuss. The smile cannot last.

"I want to know… If you’d like to come with us, to join in the ritual?"

Your father looks a little surprised by this, and then confused.

“I’m not sick, though.”

“Right,” you agree. “But, well… The ritual does more than heal illness. You’ve seen what it did to Costella… FOR Costella.”

“I never saw her before, but if that ritual has anything to do with how she looks…”

Rudolfo gets a peculiar look in his eye and chuckles quietly, and a little lustily. You give him a sharp look, feeling protective over the young woman even if you’re not ENTRIELY sure of your relationship to her yet. Your father seems to catch your expression and its meaning, and bows his head apologetically.

“Ah, sorry, I know that you get first crack at that!” he says, with a cheeky grin and a tap on his nsoe. “But I tell you now, my child, if I was a few years young…”

“Well, what if you were?” you ask.

Rudolfo pauses for a moment, before replying: “Wait, so you AREN’T interested in her, then…?”

“I’m not talking about y-you and Costella!” you almost shout, before calming yourself. “I’m saying that this ritual can DO that for you… Can make you more like, like me, or Mom. It can make infuse you with… Some of the youth you used to have. No, more than that… it could make you more like an elf.”
>>
>>5851863
Your father’s eyebrows shoot up.

“What? You mean… Eternally young? Living for two, three hundred years?”

“I’m not sure,” you admit. “Not exactly. But When Costella performed the ritual, she became… Energized. Taller, stronger, smarter, healthier… Just BETTER.”

“But the ritual you did with her and that Henzler girl was different,” he notes, spoking his scraggly, grey beard. “Is it really going to work the same for me?”

You expect him to think deeply on it, but instead the man just looks back at you and grins, slapping you on the back.

“Well Hells, it’s not like I have a lot to lose, ey wot? One last adventure—let’s give it a try, my boy!”

Costella is waiting for you outside the home when the time comes. With her, bundled up in rags and bandages like the outcasts of a leper colony, there are a half-dozen other people—women and girls from her experimental group, sick old people and young people chosen by the Council for their advanced stage of the pox. You can make out deformed and diseased limbs, fully or mostly sheathed in scaly skin and with claw-like nails. All of them look thin and ruddy or pale, a telltale sign of the onset of organ failure, where organs have been partly or entirely transfigured by the pox into a form incompatible with other portions of their body which have remained in their default state. It’s truly a terrible thing.

“Ready?” you ask.

“A Van Houtzmann is ever ready, ey wot!” declares your father, cracking his back and hobbling forward with vim you haven’t seen from him in some time.

“As I’ll ever be,” Adolf merely says.

You lead them to Costella and her group. She must sense your anxiety-in fact, she OBVIOUSLY does, with your spiritual bond—and so reaches out to hold your hand. You allow it and, admittedly, it does help. Hand in hand, you lea the first group of those whom you hope to save through the gates of Hawksong, out along the southerly trade road, and eventually off of it and through the now Crown-owned, fairy-designated fields around Old Maple Hill. There are still cultivated grasses here, but they are overgrown and wild now, mixed in with weeds… And here and there, you see places where the earth ahs been churned up and a maple sapling set down, the beginnings of a true Sacred Grove, and a useful way to demarcate that territory which the Queen has ordered unavailable for agricultural or economic usage.

This is holy ground, now, belonging to nature and to the True Fey. It is here where you make your camp and wait for dusk… And when dusk comes and you light the <Faerie Fire> and a miniature <Daylight> sun for all to see by, it is here that you explain the ritual.
>>
>>5851865
“The rite isn’t a spell,” you explain. “Not really, not like humans understand it.”

“I don’t understand spells at all,” Adolf chimes in.

“Human MAGES,” you correct yourself. “It’s more like… A religious ceremony.”

Immediately Adolf and Marit look uncomfortable, and they’re not the only ones, so you hastily amend:

“We aren’t worshiping any gods, or anything like that. We’re just… Opening our might and spirits to the esoteric. To holy, or… Well, to mysteries, anyway. To the universe, and to each other.”

You see a great deal of confusion among the dozen people here gathered, and so you turn to your lovely assistant.

“Costella?” you plead.

“Right!” she says, stepping forwards and smiling that bubbly, disarming smile of hers. “What Ez means is that it’s like… You know that feeling you get when you see something magical? Like, REALLY magical, like it makes you think that it’s bigger than this world, and you’re really small? But, like, you don’t HATE it, and you’re not SCARED-you’re just all tingly and wowed and can’t help but feel like you’re PART of something bigger? Like EVERYTHING is part of something bigger? And the bit of you that’s, like, YOU, for a second it just kind of goes fuzzy at the edges? That’s what it’s like! And then you just need to let the sickness out, and let the goodness and light in!”

The confusion doesn’t fade from all faces, but a few people tentatively nod along. Even those who plainly don’t get it seem automatically more at ease, dealing with this captivating and charismatic young beauty rather than… Well, a spooky, half-spectral half-elf.

“Don’t worry,” Costella tells them, “Ez is genius, and he’s been teaching me. We’ll keep you safe.”

You wish you had half as much faith in yourself as Costella plainly has in you. You borrow some of hers, and put on a brave face for the others.

“Let’s begin,” you say.

Amongst all these robes figures, you feel faintly cultic, out here beneath the new moon and the luminosity of magic lanterns, speaking sacred words away from prying eyes and listening ears of the uninitiated. One by one, you approach the afflicted and with needle and a vial containing your modified chimeric pox-creatures, you inject them with the more ‘material’ cure for their physical affliction. Only then can the spiritual healing can begin—or at least, only then does their condition mimic Costella’s own to the extent that you can feel confident that no untested variables will affect the outcome. You feel, perversely, like a priest administering blessings or alms.
>>
>>5851867
Costella takes the lead when you are done, as you step back and away. You cannot participate directly in what comes next, lest your own aethereal state taint the ritual and spoil the result with your extraplanar energies. You relax yourself, and fade from the perception of most of the participants. In the dark, like a voyeur, you watch.

And you aren’t alone.

Dozens of fairies gather around—pixies, sprites, flower-fairies and will o’ wisps. You watch them cautiously, worried they might interfere, but they do not. They, too, merely watch.

“Do you think this is smart, little eladrin?” asks one sprite, whom you recognize a regular in the court of the old spriggan on the hill. “What you’re making… It’s something new.”

“What did you call me?” you ask, bewildered.

“The balance,” the sprite replies instead, ignoring you. “What of the balance?”

The centrepiece of the ritual is about to begin. None, not your nor this sprite nor any other fairy present, would dare interrupt it to ask or answer questions, then... But damn it all, you have so many!

Choose one question to ask him:
>What is an 'eladrin'?
>What is this 'balance' he's speaking of?
>What is the original purpose of this ritual?
>Has this ritual ever been done in another plane before?
>What makes a human so different from an elf, anyway?
>Write-in
>>
>>5851872
>What is this 'balance' he's speaking of ?
>>
>>5851872
>What is this 'balance' he's speaking of?
>>
>>5851872
>>Write-in
>>I do not worry about balance when we are making something entirely new.

Also eladrin are elves but from there that visit here. Good 'ol elves are from here that visit there
>>
>>5851872
>Has this ritual ever been done in another plane before?
hypothetically, asking for a friend
>>
>>5852012
>>5851955
>>5851911
>>5851889
“Wait…. Balance?”

The words remind you of those of the Spirit of the Old maple, over a year prior… The warning he’d given you, about creating ensouled beings.

“I don’t understand,” you mutter, and then turn back to the sprite. “Please, what do you mean? I don’t understand, what is this balance? How do I avoid… Disrupting it? What does it mean if I do?”

The sprite looks at you incredulously, as if at first he believes you to be joking… And then, gradually, with dawning and simultaneous amusement and horror, he realizes you’re not.

“Are you not a child of the elves, eladrin? Surely you understand the words you’ve been singing? Why we sang them in the first place, when we first came here?”

“What?” you ask dumbly. “First came here….? What do you mean—came to the material plane?”

The sprite laughs , as if you’d told a delightful joke, which only confuses you further.

“Planes?” he asks, wiping a tear from his eye as his laughter dies down. “The planes are all just different flavours of ‘here’, elf-child. It was the natives who we struck the deal with, to maintain the balance. Every time a new soul is created, or changed and modified, the balance shifts. If it shifts too far… If the pact is broken… The others will take actions of their own. Down THAT path lie wonders and horrors best forgotten.”

“Natives?” you ask, more confused than ever. “You mean… The humans? Or… Elementals? And… What sort of—"
>>
>>5852146
Before you can get anything else out of the sprite, the whirling circle of the dancers breaks. It collapses in and radiates out as one after another, the dancers separate from those whose hands they hold to take centre stage, twirling, and exclaiming the words:

“Belbau nossta ulu uns'aa ghil!

Ori'gato uns'aa el lu'tlu rosin 'sohna, 'sovah, xondyerna lu'k'olah.

Ori'gato uns'aa dro ghil lu'nin; ori'gato nindol k'lar lu'draeval dro wun uns'aa, mziln.

Ori'gato uns'aa ssinssrigg, lu'tlu 'che, erl'eleeus 'zil l'dalhar wun nind ilhar, lu'tlu rosin natha seke ligah d'nindol sel thac'zil, dalninuk ulu nindel vel'bolen dron lu'dalninil ulu nindel vel'bolen elar!”

As the others hold their hands aloft, emulating a gate—or perhaps simulating a birth—the individual at the centre passes through. When they emerge, they are not QUITE as Costella is… But they are not the same as they were, either.

> 9, 19, 17, 19, 15 for Feycraft
>DC 17 since you’re not leading it personally, but dedicated time to teach Costella

Each of them gasps or cries out, you note, their eyes suddenly bright and perceptive in the gloom-able to see by light of dusk as an elf can, able to perceive the swarming fairy-spirits who have congregated to bear witness. This being but the first of several such rituals which they must undergo to fully restore themselves, they are nevertheless healthier-looking almost immediately: their afflicted limbs are no longer misshapen, the patterns of scales fade more naturalistically into the tone and texture of their skin, and their eyes, tongues, and talons are more akin to those of their human birthright. Even blemishes and deformities which predate the pox—or which you presume to have done so—are alleviated, and those who your earlier Chimeric cure stabilized… Well, they are the most changed, but also the most like that young woman leading the ritual, tall and strong in a way now less inhuman than somehow SUPERhuman.

…Though none, you must admit, is quiet as awe-inspiring as Costella herself. You wonder how much of that is your personal bond, and resulting bias? Even now, it’s tough to take your eyes off of her.
>>
>>5852148
You do so eventually, if only because you are now tasked with helping these confused, sometimes somewhat fearful humans navigate the new world they find themselves in. The fairies tease and taunt them—not in any greatly evil way, but they simply cannot pass up the opportunity to swoop at them, to pull faces, to sing mocking rhymes or to poke and prod at the peculiar, transformed humans. You wave them away, parting them to make a path. Then, you lead the humans to gather together, one by one, on the edges of the sacred grove.

“Is this how you see the world all the time?” asks Marit, wonderingly, clutching a much more hale-looking Addison to her chest.

You suppose it is. By the way that Adolf anxiously shifts next to her, eyes flitting this way and that, you suspect it may not be for everyone, however…

The last one to finish the ritual is your father. It is a testament to his advanced age that his own dance is so stiff an awkward—sad to see, for all that the man loves to dance and sing and caper about. You watch as he dances with you—with Costella, and you are delighted to see that his passion and exuberance—and flexibility—seems to gradually improve. Finally, she leads him towards you and the others, and you see a man who, if he is not YOUNG, at elast more resembles the Rudolfo van Houtzmann you have come to know and cherish.

“Welcome back, Dad,” you say with a small smile.

“It’s good to be back,” he admits, looking about. “Say, you never told me that this very court had so many fetching young lasses, ey wot?”

“The pixies?” you ask, incredulous. “Dad, they’re ageless beings beyond conventional material existence. They’re probably hundreds of years old.”

“Age is just a state of mind!” you replies boldly, shooting one a wink and a grin that she giggles at and returns. “Anyway, thanks to you, I might just have time to catch up!”

“Did I do good?” asks Costella softly, after your father has—regrettably, mortifyingly—wandered off to try his hand at seducing a member of the True Fey.

“You did very good,” you reassure her.

“Well,” she says with a grin, “I had, like, the BEST teacher.”

Costella gingerly steps closer and, with noticeable trepidation, leans against you. She makes no further moves towards a deeper or more overt intimacy and, while you aren’t sure whether you WANT that or not… Right now, this is very nice. Together, you watch the changed humans mill about, stretching their revitalized limbs and reveling in their new feelings of vitality and wellness, and it in the new expanse of spiritual and magical experience opened up to them in the process. How long will they live? What will become of them, as they live those lives? What will THEY become?
>>
>>5852151
“What happens now?” Costella eventually asks.

It’s a good question, honestly, and one that’s difficult to answer immediately. Ultimately, you resolve that…
>You will perform this ritual only until the pox’s victims are all healed, and only for those who need it to the extent it is necessary to help heal them
>You will offer this rite to anyone who desires it, for any reason… After all, look at the good it did for your father!
>You will train others in how to perform the rite, and initiate them into the Fairy Court if the local Fey will hear you and have them—this could be the start of something wondrous
>Write-in

“I meant what’s next for you, silly!” Costella laughs. “Or… Us, I guess?”

“Oh,” you reply. “Well…”

Hm. You’ve forestalled your own dreams and ambitions for some time now, to help and heal others to chase THEIRS. No longer are you bound to pursue the path of a Tower Mage—you are surely graduated from all that, in practical terms if not necessarily on paper. The Archmage ahs not sought to call you back to her side, to admonish or correct you, nor to instruct you.

(Nor, you note, has Izzy come calling…)

The world—MANY worlds, perhaps—are open to you now! You are well and truly free to pursue that which your heart and soul desire. In this instance, here and now, that means…
>It’s time to talk to Izzy, and to discuss her talk of a ‘new world’, and to determine if there’s a place in it for you
>Someone has to deal with the threat of these reptilian demonists who created the plague, and you’re the half-man for the job
>Finding a cure for your own condition—a way to become more corporeal again, and to anchor yourself in this reality
>That niggling feeling you have about this ritual… Its words and their meaning, its history and origins… You want to understand it more completely
>You still desire the prestige, power, resources, or opportunities which come with being Mage Apprentice to the Archmage… And perhaps, if the position is still open to you, you might yet become Head Chimericist?
>Write-in
>>
>>5852152
>You will perform this ritual only until the pox’s victims are all healed, and only for those who need it to the extent it is necessary to help heal them.

That pact, placing limitations on the creation and modifications of souls. Is probably why divine beasts and new monsters aren't being spawned everywhere. If some being of power catches wind of ritual and decides that the True Fey have egregiously violated the pact. That faction might start forcibly mutanting people and making new monsters in response.


>That niggling feeling you have about this ritual… Its words and their meaning, its history and origins… You want to understand it more completely
>>
>>5852151
dad will really fuck any female, be it non-human or immaterial
>>5852152
>You will perform this ritual only until the pox’s victims are all healed, and only for those who need it to the extent it is necessary to help heal them

>That niggling feeling you have about this ritual… Its words and their meaning, its history and origins… You want to understand it more completely
>>
>>5852152
>You will train others in how to perform the rite, and initiate them into the Fairy Court if the local Fey will hear you and have them—this could be the start of something wondrous
ALL humans WILL respect the supernatural

>That niggling feeling you have about this ritual… Its words and their meaning, its history and origins… You want to understand it more completely
>>
>>5852152
>You will offer this rite to anyone who Is worthy of it, and the responsibility

>Finding a cure for your own condition—a way to become more corporeal again, and to anchor yourself in this reality
We need to anchor ourselves and visit Logan and or pet again.

>>5852202
Father has the right idea- we should take more after him just to spite our mother.
>>
>>5852152
>You will perform this ritual only until the pox’s victims are all healed, and only for those who need it to the extent it is necessary to help heal them
Gatekeeping Paragon so they can develop their own unique culture with a shared bond as well as keeping this "balance" by only focusing it on the pox
>Someone has to deal with the threat of these reptilian demonists who created the plague, and you’re the half-man for the job
The Pox was made by Prosecutor cultists so Im hoping we get to work with Theral on this, get some insight from our divine enemy made strenuous ally, presumably we can get some magic knowledge he has access to being a direct line to our antithesis, plus Id love to see Tips interact with Szesty and possibly learn traditional fleshweaving to add some spice to our chimeric magics
>>
>>5852152
>>You will perform this ritual only until the pox’s victims are all healed, and only for those who need it to the extent it is necessary to help heal them
I'll be okay with few, selected exceptions. But let's be wary of the Balance;

>Write-In
With Grove secured, time to proceed our Extraordinary Creature Preserver road
>>
>>5852152
>You will perform this ritual only until the pox’s victims are all healed, and only for those who need it to the extent it is necessary to help heal them
>It’s time to talk to Izzy, and to discuss her talk of a ‘new world’, and to determine if there’s a place in it for you
>>
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>>5852482
>>5852379
>>5852296
>>5852263
>>5852216
>>5852202
>>5852188
[Locked and writing!]
>>
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>>5853038
Woops, forgot to update my equation. Still, percentages aside, same result

The words of the sprite, and the spriggan before him, stick with you. You resolve to only perform this rite of transformation sparingly, for those who truly need it, and to end the education of those thus healed at that point. This having been what you discussed with the spriggan, it is you hope that it will not cause any undue disturbance to this… ‘Balance’, whatever it actually is.

And as for this mysterious balance… Well, that is what is next on your list to determine. This ancient ritual clearly has its origins in antiquity… In the ‘arrival’ of the True Fey. If you’re to understand the balance, you must determine the nature of the ritual… And if in the process you can find a way to restore your own earthly corporeality, well, more’s the better.

(You’re not sure what it says about you, and who and what you have become, that your condition is of secondary concern)

You spend the next month preparing for the journey, and you find yourself curiously torn. With the afflicted in your family household cured—and even in spite of Adolf’s obvious discomfort with his newly-expanded sight—things return to the cozy normalcy which you had come to count on to ground you…. But you cannot stay here. Hawksong does not contain the answers you now seek, and not even the True Fey of Old Maple Hill can teach you much more—or, if they can, they seem reticent to do so. After over fifteen years, you must at long last leave.

Your father’s youthful vigor being partly restored, he insists on taking you out to celebrate your recent successes with a night on the town—

“After all, if we catch the pox, you can just cure us again, wot?”

—and to your surprise, you are joined not just by your father, by Fenna and Adolf, and (of course) by Costella, but also by Logan Pearce… And, for that matter, by your one-time classmate and good friend James Efron, and the goblin wanderer Zith-Zi!

“I didn’t know you were back in Hawksong!” you greet the pair.

“We just got back,” Zith-Zi says, squinting and her ears wiggling and turning. “I hear you traveled a lot further than us, though. Came back all blurry ‘n shit, too, didn’t ya’?”
>>
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>>5853101
Right… You suppose that it makes sense that your aethereal form would be particularly difficult for Zith-Zi to perceive. Goblins are an inherently unmagical race, on a fundamental level. By some metrics and measures, they might not even qualify as ‘ensouled’ at all, though it’s always incredibly difficult for you to accept that when you’re in the lively company of the green-skinned girl before you. Or, well… Maybe ‘girl is the wrong word. She doesn’t look BAD, or HAGGARD by any means, but she HAS noticeably aged—refined into a more mature sort of appearance in the last few years.

“You’re looking a little ‘different’ yourself,” you note wryly.

“Asshole!” she laughs, and attempts to swing at you with a playful punch.

Zith-Zi’s tiny-but-mighty haymaker to pass right through you. She stares at her fist for a moment, and then at you. You shrug, and allow yourself a smirk.

“Huh,” she says. “Fuckin’ weird, not gonna’ lie. You’re like some spooky prepubescent ghost-boy forever now, then?”

“PREPUBESCENT?” you balk. “I’m not—"

“Speaking of weird, how was your ‘adventure’?” Pearce asks, smoothly segueing the conversation, while Costella pats your arm.

“Ha! Yes, let’s hear it—let’s live viviparously through you, oh noble purveyors of that most storied profession!” you father raises a toast.

“Vicariously,” you correct him.

“Well, you know how it goes,” Efron says with affected cool, sipping his drink before he continues. “You’ve seen one ancient crypt of the southern demonists, you’ve seen them all, as they say in the BIZ.”

“‘The Biz’?” Pearce mocks.

“Southern demonists?” you ask curiously.

“Yeah,” Zith-Zi says with a grimace. “Al kinds a’ creepy wizard shit—no offence intended for any of you ‘cept Tips.”

“Hey!” you protest .

The goblin gives you a signature shit-eating grin in response to your half-hearted glare, and continues: “Not in the actual south, of course… or not in any of the parts that are all allied against your government. They wouldn’t let Pasty James in there without a LOT of tanning. No Northmen without a permit and a collar—and Jimmy here don’t have no permit kink!”

She laughs, and Efron nearly chokes on his drink, turning a floral pink. You balance between them, wondering if they… No, it couldn’t be, could it?

“Anyway,” Efron hurriedly pick up the story, “there are some old ruins in the northern mountains there—southern from here, but they call them The Northern Range, I mean—where the old empires used to have outposts and fortresses, and something sort of like our Mages’ Tower maybe. We got hired to make sure it wasn’t in use by the Southmen anymore—and to see if it could be used by our lads, if it came down to it.”

“That psycho-bitch Archmage wanted us to see what we could find any relics or books or whatever, too,” ZIth-Zi adds.
>>
>>5853103
“The Archmage?” you ask surprised. “She’s not… FOND of demonism.”

“If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle,” Costelal chimes in, forehead scrunched in concentration as she summons the quote.

“That’s an Easterling saying, isn’t it?” Pearce asks.

Costella smiles brightly, and shamelessly admits: “I read it in a horoscope! The ones in the paper are kind of, like, basic, you know? I’ve been reading these ones you can get with, like, a seasonal almanac over at this shop near the church of the Lesser Temple of Marese, over on, like… You know that street with all the bakeries and linen shops, down past the Lacewing Boutique?”

“Sorry,” Zith-Zi interjects without sounding at all apologetic, “WHO are you?”

“Oh, sorry,” you apologize. “Zith-zi, meet Costella Fanucci. She’s…”

“I’m Ez’s newest bestie!” Costella slides into your awkward pause, coming to your rescue. “Well, except for Izzy, and Pearce, and maybe YOU from all I’ve heard about you! I kind of pictured you, like, limey-green and warty though, like a toad or something I guess?… Ez never said you were PRETTY!”

Zith-Zi stares blankly for a moment, before her gaze slides back to you, and she quirks an eyebrow. You shrug helplessly, and she laughs.

“You’re not too hard on the eyes yourself, Costella,” the goblin finally says with a grin. “I mean, for a human chick. Not that I swing that way or nothin’, so don’t get your hopes up!”

Costella laughs, and gingerly taps her cocktail to Zith-Zi’s own flagon of ale, before they both take a swig, tension broken. The rest of the evening carries on more or less like that and—even with the warmth of alcohol making it difficult to maintain your concentration, the good cheer of this welcome reunion helps keep your grounded.

(Though Zith-Zi and Efron both laugh uproariously when you pass through your chair and spill your drink all over yourself as a result, towards the evening’s end, and after a moment you join them)
>>
>>5853107
“So,” Pearce asks, catching you a little ways away from the group as you are returning, having wrung the beer from your robes, “you’re leaving town?”

“How did you hear?” you ask, and then after a moment intuit the answer yourself: “Costella.”

“She’s a nice girl,” Pearce says, reaching out to pet Muffins--who you brought, of course, and who has always had a particular fondness for your friend and eagerly butts up against his thighs with lion-head and goat-head both.

“Can’t keep a secret to save her life, though,” you note sourly.

“Must be a nice change of pace, huh?” Pearce asks, moustache twitching with a small smirk.

You frown.

“Sorry,” he sighs, looking away and crossing his arms. “I’ve got to say, though… I’m glad you didn’t just go running back to her.”

To Izzy, he means, of course.

“Me and Costella aren’t like that,” you insist.

“Don’t know, don’t care,” Pearce says, a little too quickly and defensively. “I’m just glad you’re not following after her like a lovesick puppy. It wasn’t good for you.”

“It was good for my career trajectory, though,” you half-joke.

“Bad for your health, though,” he retorts, reaching out and passing a hand through you.

“H-hey, quit it!” you shine, taking a step back.

Pearce chuckles, then looks away again.

“But you ARE leaving.”

“Yes,” you confirm.

“Where to?”

>You planned to return to the Goblin Wastes—to find the Neme-Ashurati, elemental fey-descendants who seem to have some manner of hidden knowledge of the planes and the spirits that dwell there,a nd maybe more
>You have been away from your birthplace for half a lifetime now… But after all these years, you have been thinking about returning, to consult with the elven mystics of Iternagreyn or the True Fey of those most ancient and well-maintained sacred woodlands
>You have heard tell of True Fey to the Far East, the yokai, who live freely among beastmen and even humanity, and who keep sacred secrets which they share with initiates into their monastic or bureaucratic courts… You thought you would travel there
>You were, in fact, thinking of speaking to Izirina Henzler about that… After all, if anyone could help you reach the True Fey who live out-of-reach of this plane, it is she… And THOSE fey, living in the Heavenly Realms, are the ones you need to speak with
>Write-in
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>>5853110
>H-hey, quit it!” you shine, taking a step back.
*whine
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>>5853110
>You have been away from your birthplace for half a lifetime now… But after all these years, you have been thinking about returning, to consult with the elven mystics of Iternagreyn or the True Fey of those most ancient and well-maintained sacred woodlands
>>
>>5853113
I prefer with the typo, meaning we "reflect" emotional swings with our condition.

>You have been away from your birthplace for half a lifetime now… But after all these years, you have been thinking about returning, to consult with the elven mystics of Iternagreyn or the True Fey of those most ancient and well-maintained sacred woodlands
>>
>>5853110
>You have been away from your birthplace for half a lifetime now… But after all these years, you have been thinking about returning, to consult with the elven mystics of Iternagreyn or the True Fey of those most ancient and well-maintained sacred woodlands
>>
>>5853110
>You have heard tell of True Fey to the Far East, the yokai, who live freely among beastmen and even humanity, and who keep sacred secrets which they share with initiates into their monastic or bureaucratic courts… You thought you would travel there.

Sounds like the most exciting of these adventure option's.
>>
>>5853110
>You have been away from your birthplace for half a lifetime now… But after all these years, you have been thinking about returning, to consult with the elven mystics of Iternagreyn or the True Fey of those most ancient and well-maintained sacred woodlands
>>
>>5853110
>You have been away from your birthplace for half a lifetime now… But after all these years, you have been thinking about returning, to consult with the elven mystics of Iternagreyn or the True Fey of those most ancient and well-maintained sacred woodlands
We've reconnected with dad, let's do the same for mom
>>
>>5853110
>You were, in fact, thinking of speaking to Izirina Henzler about that… After all, if anyone could help you reach the True Fey who live out-of-reach of this plane, it is she… And THOSE fey, living in the Heavenly Realms, are the ones you need to speak with
We should at least make sure she isn’t planning something else to do in our absence.
>No Northmen without a permit and a collar—and Jimmy here don’t have no permit kink!”
Lol- and if true, a shame. I really like Zi.
>>
>>5852151
>“Is this how you see the world all the time?” asks Marit, wonderingly, clutching a much more hale-looking Addison to her chest.
>
>You suppose it is. By the way that Adolf anxiously shifts next to her, eyes flitting this way and that, you suspect it may not be for everyone, however…


>>Remember to avoid looking too much into the fey, because if you do so, then you will bring atenttion of other fey...
that was a warning in the first thread when the kid learned fairy fire. Dang, this is going to get IFFY if they are naturally attuned to the inbetween
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>>5852152
>>You will offer this rite to anyone who desires it, for any reason… After all, look at the good it did for your father!
CULT CULT CULT CULT CVLT CVTL
>>Write-in
>>As you declared before, you will travel the land and preserve its mysteries

Oh LOL I kept scrolling and I noticed I am very, very late to the party
>You have been away from your birthplace for half a lifetime now… But after all these years, you have been thinking about returning, to consult with the elven mystics of Iternagreyn or the True Fey of those most ancient and well-maintained sacred woodlands
>Look mom I did it. Now you won't outlive me
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>>5853338

“Well, I guess I won’t be going SOUTH, if what Zith-Zi was saying was true,” you joke.

“Half-true,” Pearce replied, with a frown. “She’s exaggerating, but at least a few southern blocs have cut all ties and started enforcing a hard border against the nations under Hawksong’s protection. I hear that the Queen is trying to smooth things over but… Well, you know how crazy everything ahs been lately.”

You nod.

“Well… Honestly I was thinking about going home. You know, to the Sylvan Realm… Iternagreyn, maybe.”

As you speak the words, the memories float to the surface of your mind as if summoned: the seemingly-endless sun-spackled forests, the silvery sheen of the leaves under moonlight, the grown and shaped bridges of roots and branches bridging chasms over pristine and primeval rivers. It does make you smile to think of those vistas, and the abundant natural beauty. So too the feytouched wildlife—some said to descend from the stock of those first beasts and birds ever created, sculpted directly by the Bonum Chaoticum themselves and akin to those of the Feywild, or who dwell on the Sun and Moon with the gods themselves! Their magnificence and majesty is unmatched in the realms beyond—or rarely, at least, and only by those creatures of great rarity such as your precious Muffins, or exceptional chimeric creations such as golden-fathered Hershy perched upon your goblin friend's pauldron.

Of course, it’s also the land you were so strongly ‘encouraged’ to depart, treated like one who did not belong for your half-human heritage… The home of your estranged elven mother, Mylaerlea Mious. Now that you are thus changed, more akin to a True Fey even than any other elf that you have encountered, how will they perceive you? After all this time, why should you even CARE? Ugh, the Sylvan Realms always elicit such conflicting feelings in you…)

“You’re traveling there by yourself?”

The question—or perhaps the tone of voice it is asked in—catches you off-guard, pulling you out of your thoughts.”

“I’m FROM there,” you remind your friend, “and they’re allies. It shouldn’t be a problem…”

Pearce’s worried expression tells you otherwise. As a Twoer Guardian, Pearce’s principle concerns are the security of the Tower itself, rather than Hawksong’s walls or roadways. Nevertheless, his role means closer proximity to Hawksong’s security apparatus—including the Hawksong City Guard, the Royal Hawksong Legion, and the Paladins of the Holy Order—than many others. As with the matter of the Southlands, it would not be surprising to discover he kenw something… Unfortunate… About the situation in your homeland.

“What’s happened now?” you ask anxiously.
>>
>>5853376
“Nobody’s really sure,” he admits. “Well, nobody I’ve talked to and who’s been willing to talk to ME. The elves have just… Closed themselves off. Cut all ties, except the bare essentials. No complaints, no threats, nothing like that… But they’ve also cancelled all diplomatic visits to and from the Silver—err, Sylvan—Realms.”

That’s… Troubling, to say the least. You wonder what it could mean, both for your planned journey and for the future of, well, the WORLD. You are mulling over this when Pearce reaches out to lay a hand upon your shoulder; almost without thinking, you will yourself to materialize, just enough that he can squeeze it—something you suspect brings as much comfort to your friend as it does to you.

“Tips… The world isn’t the way it used to be,” he says.

“You’re telling me,” you mutter.

“Just… be careful, alright? Might not be a bad idea to bring a friend, or at least to invest in a wand or staff or sword.”

You arch an eyebrow.

“Are you volunteering?”

Pearce scoffs, pulling his hand back and touching his chest—the place where, years ago, a poisoned goblin arrow had struck him.

“I have responsibilities here,” he began.

“I know,” you reassure him. “I was only jok—”

“But… Well, if you need back-up…”

You shut your mouth, startled by the intensity and affection with which your dear friend regards you.

“You ever need me, and I’m there,” he said, jaw squared, eyes hazy from the alcohol he’d consumed but his tone betraying no drunkard’s false courage—only friendship, love, and unwavering support. “I’m there. You should know that by now.”

“I know,” you reply. “Logan… Thank you.”
>>
>>5853377
You consider Pearce’s words as you lay in bed that night. You know that any of your friends would be happy to come to your aid, and to travel with you—as well as your father, of course, who you suspect is raring for the prospect of adventure after being reinvigorated by the fairy-ritual. With so much uncertainty in world, perhaps it would be a good idea to travel with some form of accompaniment… Maybe even to see about hiring professionals, if you didn’t wish to pull them away from their own personal passions and responsibilities?

Not having had to pay rent for some time, the stipend of gold provided by your mother’s people has been simply accumulating—easy enough to purchase some arms and armaments, potions, tools, or even hirelings, such as a carriageman or some adventurers for protection and expertise, though that of course would be a bit more expensive. If you were to return to the Tower, you could easily finance any sort of party or procure any equipment you might need… But then you would be advertising this expedition to Archmage Theresa Henzler and… Her adoptive daughter.



You let out a breath which you had been holding. There’s no point in stressing yourself out over this, and there’s no rush to decide—certainly not while still tipsy. You shut your eyes, and drift off to sleep.

When morning comes, and your eyes open, your decision is made. You will…

>Make this a formal matter of the Hawksong Mages’ Tower
[Means approaching Theresa Henzler, encountering Izzy, and looping them in; gives you access to a far deeper pool of resources, to recruitment options you wouldn’t otherwise have, and to formal diplomatic status]

>Keep the journey private, and personal
[Means fewer resources, more limited recruiting options, but more secrecy and fewer obligations and complications, plus more control over the nature and duration of your journey]

>Write-in
[???]


[The next couple updates will likely focus upon party composition and equipment, but feel free to discuss ideas and options in the interim; I'll try to integrate or address those you discuss.]
>>
>>5853378
>Make this a formal matter of the Hawksong Mages’ Tower
Diplomatic immunity, plus a chance to pick the brains of the greatest elven magicians in the world? Sign me the fuck up!
>>
>>5853378
>Make this a formal matter of the Hawksong Mages’ Tower
>>
>>5853378
>>Write-in
>>Convince Izzy to cast dimension door for you to get as close as possible to the elven realms, saving up on costs and dangers... ideally we will do the ritual with our father, but this time it will be the aetherial third, no more of over-human!! This way our father, the one adventurer an companion I am willing to take, will be buffed as fukkk (and be easier to be recieved by the elves)
>>Use the funds to buy a magical sword for our dad and a wand for us. And trail rations...
>>
>>5853378
>Keep the journey private, and personal
>>
>>5853378
>Keep the journey private, and personal
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>>5853378
>Make this a formal matter of the Hawksong Mages’ Tower
>>
>>5853378
>Make this a formal matter of the Hawksong Mages’ Tower
>>
>>5853378
>>Keep the journey private, and personal
>>
>>5853378
>Keep the journey private, and personal.

Don't feel like begging Theresa for a support.
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>>5853421
[Given we seem to be looking at a tie between the other options, would you count this vote as more in favour of Tower collaboration (as I am currently interpreting it) or keeping it on the down-low from your boss/master?]
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>>5853403
[Welp, here goes nothing.]
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>>5854383
You decide to take a middle path. Diplomatic immunity would be nice, but with the Sylvan Realms essentially cutting off communications with the domains under Hawksong’s aegis, is that really on the table? And if it isn’t, is it really worth crawling back to your master—the Archmage—and inviting whatever ulterior motives she might have into the mix? On the other hand, there is one person in particular in the Tower who you DO wish to talk to… or at least, who you can’t put off talking to any longer.

After all, this might be your last chance to talk to Izirina Henzler for a good, long time.

Your current state of semi-corporeality allows you to easily bypass most protections and defences, but not necessarily all of those around the Tower. Paranoid of being detected, you await outside and send a <summoned> air elemental to send your message—using one of the same envelopes and the same style of parchment with which you once begged Izzy’s forgiveness and friendship, during a falling out. It feels peculiar to be using the materials in this way, now, when the situation really IS the opposite—it’s SHE who owes YOU an apology!—but it has the desired effect. A short while later, with flash like lightning, a <Dimension Door> opens and Izirina emerges.

She looks much as she did the last time you saw her: brilliant, and beautiful. Her bronze skin shines almost golden, no longer blemished or marked by pox-like affliction or by her sometimes-questionable lifestyle choices. If she isn’t quite the paragon of human femininity as Costella, she is stunning in her own extranormal fashion. Even with her hands hidden by dark brown leather gloves, and her sparkling eyes behind shaded glasses, she glows with energy, and her smile—small and subtle though it is—sparkles radiantly.

And besides… This is Izzy. Even without all that, even when she was sickly and unwashed, your heart always ached for her. The time apart, and the reasons for it, they all have done nothing to change the way you feel when you see her—if anything, your heart ahs grown fonder.

“Ezreal,” she greets you, not curt but nor as shy and soft-spoken as you had gotten sued to her being.

“Izirina,” you reply. “You’ve, uh… Started wearing sunglasses.”

She lifts them, and her eyes glow and crackle with the energy within her.

“Ah,” you say.

She lowers them again.

“And the short hair?” you ask.

She lifts her somewhat-rumpled wizard-cap—black now, you note, like those of the Archmage’s private agents—and reveals it not been cut but instead tied up in a bun, in Easterling style, with a single stick through it.

“It sort of… Blows around, if I don’t,’ she says, sounding almost embarrassed. “Like there’s always a breeze. It kind of… Gets in the way.”

“I see,” you note.
>>
>>5854418
“You’re still wearing the same robes,” she replies, mirroring your won commentary, before quickly appending: “B-but that’s not a criticism. They look, um, really nice on you!”

“If I try to wear any other clothing, it passes through me when I lose focus,” you note with a cringe and a blush at the memory. “I guess the ritual affected what I was wearing that day, too.”

“I guess it’s a good thing that you always smell nice,” Izzy says quietly, so quietly that you wonder if she even realizes that was out loud.

Humans always seem to think that of your scent, when it comes up. You’ve been accused of wearing floral perfume before, especially when sweaty… Something Izzy was always, ahem, very into.

...Not that you really seem to sweat anymore. Not since the incident.

“Look, Izzy—”

“I’m sorry!” she blurts out.

You stop, genuinely surprised to hear here say so without prompting. Her reaction when you’d first returned… It had been almost frighteningly excited, and utterly remorseless. Has she finally understood that what she did was wrong, and a violation of your trust?

“I should have come and seen you sooner—and Costella, too—but I’ve just been so busy! Ever since I returned, Mother has been running all these tests, and she’s been giving me all these resources… There’s so much to explore, so much POTENTIAL!”

…Oh.

“And I’ve got, ah… This other teacher now, sort of an… Expert in the field of other planes, and a lot of the other things you and I have been studying!”

“Y-yeah,” you manage to reply. “Well… You know, I’ve been busy, too.”

“I know,” Izirina Henzler replies, with a knowing smile that informs you she really does. She—or the Archmage more likely—has been keeping tabs on you.

“It’s really good, what you’re doing for those people,” she adds. “I only hope they all appreciate it… AND maybe by doing this, you’ll make them better people, too.”

“They aren’t BAD people to begin with, by and large,” you protest, feeling the strange need to defend those who were infected and whom you have begun the work of curing, most of them strangers. “They’re just normal.”

“Yes,” Izirina agrees sadly, as if speaking of the limitations of a drunkard or one with a mentally handicapped. “They are, aren’t they? But you’re doing your part to fix that! I really admire it, Tips.”

You aren’t really sure how to respond to that.
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>>5854419
“You said you needed to talk about something urgent, though?” Izzy prompts you.

“…Yeah,” you say. “I’m leaving for the Sylvan Realms—not permanently or anything, necessarily, just to research the ritual a little bit more… To really understand its history, and what it MEANS.”

Izirina’s eyes light up brighter—so brightly that the sparkle and flash is visible through the shaded glass in front of them.

“That’s a wonderful idea!” she says. “So you wanted me to use my spatial magic to transport you there? I think I could do that… Though I’ll need your help, of course, to pinpoint and anchor us to a destination. I’ve barely EVER been more than a couple days’ walk outside of Hawksong, until this last month… And not even THAT really, before you took me to the maple tree to see that fairy court!”

“Uh, well…”

>Yes, that would be good—just the transportation
>Actually, you were hoping to bring Izirina with you, to help with your research
>Actually, you were hoping Izirina could get you access to the Tower’s resources, while keeping your involvement secret
>Write-in

Do you have anything else to talk to Izzy about right now?
>Your feelings and your relationship
>Your kiss with Costella, and her crush on you
>The soul-entanglement and its implications
>Your misgivings about her mother and the tower
>Her own research this past month
>Something else [write-in]
>No, she's kind of weirding you out actually...
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>>5854420
>Yes, that would be good—just the transportation

>Your feelings and your relationship
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>>5854420
>Actually, you were hoping to bring Izirina with you, to help with your research
>Actually, you were hoping Izirina could get you access to the Tower’s resources, while keeping your involvement secret

>The soul-entanglement and its implications
>Her own research this past month
Oh god what is she up to now
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>>5854420
>Actually, you were hoping to bring Izirina with you, to help with your research

Get her attached to our home and elf family so she doesn't magic nuke it later

>Her own research this past month
>The soul-entanglement and its implications
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>>5854420
>>Yes, that would be good—just the transportation
>>Let's do a propper apology
If you know what I am saying
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>>5854420
>>Actually, you were hoping Izirina could get you access to the Tower’s resources, while keeping your involvement secret

>How soothing it is to be with her or Costella, and you want to experiment with the two of them to measure the depth of soul entanglement
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>>5854420
>Actually, you were hoping to bring Izirina with you, to help with your research
>Your feelings and your relationship
>The soul-entanglement and its implications
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>>5854420
>Yes, that would be good—just the transportation.

>Her own research this past month

Cringe izzy simps.
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>>5854420
>Yes, that would be good—just the transportation
>No, she's kind of weirding you out actually...
Gonna do a 180 on Izzy honestly, but she is giving off a lot of manic energy right now, and its not like she wont see/hear about what we are doing unless our hometown has antiscrying shit which honestly would be great to have the henzlers off our shit for a minute, Izzy doesnt have a good sense of social cues especially now that she has all this confidence, plus shes got a new teacher she can interact with outside her mom, we just need a ride and we can talk more when theres actually something she doesnt already know from her spying
>tldr Izzy doesnt understand we're upset and likely wont until she isnt able to spy on us anymore, Emotional detatchments wont get the memo until its at risk of leaving, Izzy cares about Izzy, she took an opportunity to take advantage of us and in turn cost us our physical form, we both lost our virginity but we lost the ability to continue a physical relationship not that she gives a shit
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>>5854420
>Yes, that would be good—just the transportation
>No, she's kind of weirding you out actually...
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>>5854703
No body, and good luck focusing on maintaining a physical presence and sticking it in her newly magicked poon, if I get what youre putting down
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>>5855233
I mean, we never tried did we? It’ll be fucking funny if THAT what maintains our physical form
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>>5855228
>we lost the ability to continue a physical relationship not that she gives a shit
[Point of order: Costella, Izirina, and any other normally-intangible or extremely and intrinsically magical creature can still interact or 'interact' with you physically without difficulty.]
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>>5855283
So Logan and Zi bros lose out? Smh

Is Muffins and Hershey considered a sufficient enough magical creature, or are they considered more mundane in this quest?
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>>5855233
>>5855244
>>has to concentrate real hard or he stops being corporeal
>>Just like counting backwards while doing you know what
>>I-i-i-it's bb-b-b-b-beeen three -hhhhours please ssshshtooop aaaa
izzy says
>>captcha GG
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>>5855351
>So Logan and Zi bros lose out?
[They both already got shot down across multiple votes, so barring write-ins I think they're already disqualified from the Waifu Wars anyway.]

>Is Muffins and Hershey considered a sufficient enough magical creature
[Given the context of this question involved sexual relations, you are making your poor QM rather nervous, anon... As far as general contact like patting your animal friends, you can do so if you concentrate, and they can both see and perceive you very readily at all times thanks to their heightened and paranormal senses (though with Muffins, only the snake head can do so. They cannot be easily interacted with in the way a ghost, demon, angel, demigod, or true fey could, however. The beings who can touch you and be touched are those who straddle the material plane and another, such as the realm of the divine, demonic, or elemental, or the boundary between life and death.]
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>>5855474
>they're already disqualified from the Waifu Wars anyway
;_;

>They cannot be easily interacted with in the way a ghost, demon, angel, demigod, or true fey could
Shame, but that was the just of the question. *Sad Muffins and Hershey noises*
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[Alright, locked and writing!]
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>>5855853
You can’t help it—even as you find yourself feeling a little weird about Izzy, seeing her like this, you really want to bring her with you. Costella is right: she draws you like a moth to a flame, an analogy perhaps particularly apropos with how she radiates light and heat these days. Every fibre of your being, material and immaterial, aches for her. You long to reach out and grab her hand, to pull her back into your life…

But how much of that is the soul-entanglement?

“Thanks, Izzy.” You force yourself to say these words, and nothing more than that—no invitation, no offer, no pleading for her proximity and fiery embrace.

She just smiles, seemingly unbothered by the idea of you traveling so far without her, and of being away for an indefinite period of time. You’re not sure if that makes you feel better or worse about your decision.

“Hey,” you say, hearing the words escape before you can stop them, “I was… Talking to Costella, and she mentioned feeling some sort of affinity, for us.”

“Affinity?”

“You know… Like a connection, or a pull. A sort of… Entanglement. Ever since the… Incident.”

“Experiment,” Izirina corrects you gently. “There was intent, after all. Purpose!”

Maybe from HER, there was intent! You bristle a little, but say nothing, searching the girl’s expression for understanding, for sympathy for the feeling… For evidence that she ahs felt what Costella ahs felt, what YOU have felt… What you feel for her. The shaded glasses make it rather difficult, though, and in a fit of desperate pique, you give in.

“You really haven’t… Felt anything like that?”

“I don’t know,” Izirina admits, frowning a little.

“It’s tough to tell,” she admits after a moment, trailing off and looking away, as a LITERALLY luminescent blush glows across her cheeks. “I’ve always felt that about you. And Costella…”

She frowns a bit more deeply at that.

“I guess I feel pretty attached to her, yeah. I mean, she’s sort of like our own creation, together, isn’t she?”

“What, like a CHILD?” you feel faintly repulsed at the analogy, not least of which because of the fond memory of her body—her lips—pressed to yours.

“No, more like a…” Izzy chews her lip, tilting her head back in thought. “A prototype. The very first of our own sort of person, you know?”

Even as the strange girl regains her bright and cheery smile, you can’t help but feel a little uneasy at the way she says it… And at the implication.

You part company with Izirina Henzler, for the moment. Despite having just reunited, and a part of you hating to depart her warm glow, you have preparations to make before you leave… And you definitely intend to go on this journey without her. You think it might be good for you, and certainly much less complicated and distracting.
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>>5855906
Without the direct involvement of either of the Henzler women, your options are more limited. You will be bringing Muffins, of course—he’s essentially your age-familiar by this point—and you have your ensorcelled robes and hat and—as you rediscovered upon stuffing your hands into your pockets and slinkling away from the rendezvous, you still have a packet of the ‘mind-expanding’ shirin stimulant which you purchased years ago, the greenish powder safe in its little treated-paper envelope. You’ve also obviated the need to hire transportation on to stock up on rations or other staples of travel through unsettled and uncertain lands—you’ll be essentially teleporting directly to the Sylvan Lands.

What you DON’T have is any companions capable of conversations to travel with you, or other equipment. Then again, if you aren’t traveling by conventional means, do you NEED any? Looking at it from another perspective, do you have anyone or anything else you WISH to bring?

Who will you bring with you?
>Rudolfo Van Houtzmann
[Experienced but elderly adventurer, freshly energized; has a complicated history with your mother and her people]

>Costella Fanucci
[No combat experience or aptitude, and not an especially talented scholar or mage, but she is a Paragon who speaks a bit of the Elven language, and is an initiate into the rituals of Feycraft]

>Zith-Zi & Hershy
[Crude, crass, and from a rather unpopular race, but she is a stalwart friend, strong, fast, deadly, and experienced]

>James Efron
[Your old classmate, a flashy elemental specialist with a fondness for powerful, devastating spells and a history of reasonably-good grades; also an adventurer]

>Logan Pearce
[It would be an unofficial and unauthorized absence, since you have not involved the Tower, but he is a powerfully-built man specializing in defensive spells, physical buffs, and he would die for you]

>Hirelings
[Create an NPC! Each one you create and which gets at least 50% of the vote costs you 5 points, though, or 10 if they’re a skilled adventurer or spellcaster (like a fully-graduated Tower mage, a beastman with magic powers, a reptilian, or a Paladin) or mage or from a race/exotic race.]

[You may NOT recruit Izirina, Testa, or Blanchette because you chose not to involve the Tower or Izirina personally.]

[You also only have 20 points total, and that which remains represents what wealth you have available for equipment in the next vote.]

[Note: you don’t need to take anyone, and can also vote…]

>Nobody else
>>
>>5855909
>Rudolfo Van Houtzmann
>>
>>5855909
>Rudolfo Van Houtzmann
>Costella Fanucci
>Zith-Zi & Hershy
>Halle- a newbie adventurer, who seems to have an insatiable curiosity about current events
>Laskar Endingray, elven bard
>>
>>5855909
>Rudolfo Van Houtzmann
>James Efron
>>
>>5855909
>Chlotsuintha
[A witchlet from a distant land which prosecutes magic, this shy still-growing giant of a young woman is trying to learn her strange magic in this new world. Her height and blank, bright snow-white eyes are unnerving, to say the least]
>>
>>5855909
>Costella Fanucci

Good leaning experience for her. She might gain knowledge from the mystics there.

>Logan Pearce

One of our most solid companions.
>>
>>5855909
>Zith-Zi & Hershy
>James Efron
>Rudolfo Van Houtzmann
if he wants to

>>5855943
>Halle- a newbie adventurer, who seems to have an insatiable curiosity about current events
>Laskar Endingray, elven bard
>>
>>5855943
>>5856020
>Laskar
[Holy callbacks! Guess there's no point in paying 'spot the RIQ players' with you vets. Sure, I'll allow it if it's a majority pick.]

>>5856020
>>5855943
>Halle
[Wait... THAT Halle? From DAQ? Oh my.]

>>5856013
>Chlotsuintha
[I've never played The Graverobber's Daughter or read it, so I must confess I doubt I'll do the character justice. I'm open to working with the description provided, but I caution you to be aware she may resemble Chlotsuintha from TGD in name only.]
>>
>>5855909
>Rudolfo Van Houtzmann
>Costella Fanucci
>>
>>5856042
Figured she might be a good fit. Got some some other ideas from some of my favs if you’re interested.
>>
>>5855909
>Halle- a newbie adventurer, who seems to have an insatiable curiosity about current events
>Laskar Endingray, elven bard
Haven't played RIQ or DAQ, but why not.
>>
>>5855909
>>Hirelings
Let's hire an ELF ADVENTURER WITH OUR 20 POINTS
>>
>>5855909
>Rutherford ‘Ford’ Jefferson-Jackson
[Born from the ashes of an advanced civilization long dead, a lone warrior in worn, ancient armor, almost dwarven in mechanical sophistication and design, signs up. Former fanatic puritan, he adheres to his own uncompromising moral code, play fast and loose with the rules, and carries a worn and chipped symbol of freedom painted on his armor.]

I was thinking of writing him in, and low and behold, Enclave Quest revived! If that ain’t a sign, I dunno what is.
>>
>>5856755
[I'm sorry anon, but I'm vetoing including something this jarring to the lore I've gotten written up to reference another quest I've never played.]

>>5856697
[Should I count this as support for Laskar Endingray? Also, an elven adventurer would only cost 10 points.]
>>
>>5856863
they elf? sure thing
+1 to Laskar Endingray
>>
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>>5857016
>>5856755
>>5856697
>>5856292
>>5856276
>>5856020
>>5856017
>>5856013
>>5855992
>>5855943
>>5855912
[Writing!]
>>
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>>5857201
>>5857201
Not being in ay need of defence, you really have no need to form much of a party at all. Oh, some people would be NICE to have along, but they all had other matters to attend to. Pearce had all but volunteered, but he was also a Tower Guardian, and his absence would not go unnoticed by the very Archmage whose involvement you wished to avoid. Costella could probably learn a lot from such a trip, but she had a role to play in Hawksong, continuing to cure the pox-bedevilled; if you both went, and took longer than expected, people would suffer or even die for it.

However, there was one person who you knew had literally nothing better to do, and would absolutely LEAP at the opportunity:

“RUDOLFOOOOOO~!” sing you father, drawing not his blade but his lute, strumming it a little tune that, as he had repeatedly informed you by this point, was something of a leitmotif. “Yes, RUDOLFO VAN HOUTZMANN is always ready for adventure! Gald to see you getting into the spirit of things, my child!”

Sure, his rejuvenation hadn’t exactly made your father ‘young’ in the way you or your friends were, but he looked at least as spry and spritely as, say, a forty or fifty-year old of his race. Moreover, the man was an experienced adventurer, good with a blade, implicitly loyal… And he was your dad. Traveling to your birthplace meant the possibility of running into your mother—by now twenty years estranged, even since before you had been away. There was something comforting about bring your other parent, and his personal (he would say ‘intimate’) cultural knowledge would be invaluable.

“Though I don’t actually speak any Elven,” he admits.

“WHAT?” you demand. “You… You had a child with an ELF.”

“That I did!” he laughs, ruffling your hair until, with some smug satisfaction you release your concentration to let his hand pass through your to send him tumbling.

“Then how on EARTH do you not know any Elven?”

“We mostly spoke the language of love,” Rudolfo explained.

“Eurgh,” you vocalized with an involuntary shudder.

“That is to say,” continued you father, strumming his lute, “I know a few tones by rote, most especially those to do with fair countenance, favourable weather, and the setting of the mood, ey wot?”

You ignore the waggling of his eyebrows and increasingly furious strumming of his lute—something made difficult by the fact that your dear old dad is, in fact, pretty good. His accented elven is atrocious, but somehow charmingly so.

“Well, I speak it” you sniff. “Obviously. Still, someone who’s bene there more recently could be invaluable. Someone with connections…”

“I know just the fellow!” your father proclaims.

You’re surprised, but pleasantly.

“He works at The Pretty Kitty,” your father elaborates.
>>
>>5857261
Your surprises wanes, and turns to disgust and disappointment. The Pretty Kitty… With a name like that, your father can ONLY be referring to one of the ‘gentleman’s establishments’ of the city’s Red Lantern District, home to dancers of an especially exotic sort often pliable to financial compensation for services being merely shaking what the gods gave them.

“Dad,” you chastise him.

“He works as a house musician—a professional bard! Nothing more untoward than that. And he’s an elf—full-blooded—and actually mentioned just last night that he was planning to make a trip back to the motherland, ey?”

“I don’t know…”

“Just give the man a chance,” your father advises (or begs). “you’ll see, he’s a great chap!”

You agree to meet with this full-blooded elven bard who plays music for strippers and harlots, after some cajoling.

“I am called Laskar Endingray, or Laskar Ndeirusune,” he greets you. “Dalninuk, al tha!”

To your total shock, your father is right: Laskar Endingray (his Common-tongue performing name) is indeed a gentleman and, as he said, ‘al tha’, or ‘well met’. He reminds you a bit of your father, which you suppose makes senses considering who made the introduction, and their shared profession. For all your father’s flash, bombast, and bluster, Endingray treads the same waters with greater grace and deeper subtlety: like your father he is well-traveled, and seems rather preoccupied with beauty—

“The glistening speckles of sunlight across the water, and the murmur of friendly conversation broken by laughter in a dockside tavern,” he sighs wistfully, “the flow of energies and affections, and pure aesthetic wonderment, in even the bawdiest brothel… I’ve always found much to love and admire among the other races.”

“Plenty to admire in the brothels most especially,” you father laughs, and Laskar Endingray’s own lip quivers and quirks in a supressed smile.

“Well, beauty takes many forms,” the elven musician demurs, “but music enhances it all.”

“Cheers to that!” your father concurs.

“Why are you returning to the Sylvan Lands, then?” you ask.

Laskar frowns a little, in a small display of discomfort.

“I find myself missing home more and more these last few years,” he admits. “The locking down of districts made this place a lonelier and less beauteous one… And the increasing xenophobia has made it less welcoming as well. And financially trying…”

Ah, yes, that matter.

“You would be paid for your time, of course,” you answer his half-spoken concern. “And if you can helps et us up with accommodation and help us to find who we need to speak with, you’ll be compensated further.”

“Thank you,” he sighs happily. “Dos ph'natha zlabak quortek.”
>>
>>5857262
‘A generous soul’? Well, it remains to see how generous you are, relative to what this Elfman can do for you… But at the very least, he claims to have a cousin of some renown in the mystic circles outside of Iternagreyn’s academy, which could be useful, and is proficient with a bow and with a sitar his small bandolier of woodwind instruments. And Muffins likes him, which is important!

This leaves only your equipment. You reflect on if there is anything you need, to make this trek, and settle upon…

>A wand [5 points]
[A small channeling, focus, useful for casting magic more quickly and accurately and with less footwork, requiring no somatic components and only a single keyword for simple magic missiles and basic healing spells; gain Magic Missile and Stabilize as spells while wielding it, -1 DC to ranged combat for mages only]

>A staff [7 points]
[More conspicuous than a wand, a large staff can store enough mana to essentially increase your point of available magical energies to draw from, and can also be used as a cudgel; gain +1 Mana and -1 DC to ranged and close combat for mages only]

>Light Armour [3 points]
[+1 HP against physical attacks; your father and Laskar will benefit from this sort of thing more than you, since you may pass through it when low on magic]

>Medium Armour [5 points]
[+2 HP against physical attacks, see above]

>Dagger [2 points]
[-1 DC to close combat, easily concealed]

>Sword [3 points]
[-1 DC to close combat and to intimidation; your father already ahs such a blade]

>Bow & Arrows [3 points]
[Enables ranged combat without magic; Laskar would benefit from this, and is skilled with such a weapon, though he currently lacks one.]

>Potions of Healing [2 points each]
[Restores 2 HP per use]

>Potions of Invigoration [2 points each]
[Restores 2 mana per use; mages only]

>Shirin [2 points per use]
[Mind-expanding stimulant, useful in the past as a trade-good or a means to invoke camaraderie and even revelatory visions…]

>Write-in
[Anything within reason, prices TBD]


[You have 10 points, and don't necessarily NEED to buy anything. Points which carry over will reflect more resources in the future.]
>>
>>5857264
>Shirin [2 points per use] X10
We Walter White now
>>
>>5857269
>X5*
Correction- turns out I’m bad at math xD
>>
>>5857264
>Light Armour [3 points] x2
>Bow & Arrows [3 points]
>>
>>5857264
>A staff [7 points]
As a proper mage we need one eventually. Would come in clutch if we have to up cast a spell.

>Bow & Arrows [3 points]
>>
>>5857264
>Staff
>>
>>5857264
>>A staff [7 points]
>>
>>5857264
>>Light Armour [3 points]
>Potions of Healing [2 points each] x 1

try not to die or go broke
>>
>>5857264
>A wand [5 points]
>Bow & Arrows [3 points]

Yeah, that should let us not being dirt poor
>>
>>5857264
>A wand [5 points]
>Bow & Arrows [3 points]
>Potion of Invigoration 1x [2 points]
>>
>>5857264
>>A wand 5
It comes with free spells? Sick
>>A bow 3
>>Potion of healing 2
We will be the dedicated support who will be able to shoot magic missile. The stabilization is MEH since we have a bonus to all magic of our school (albeit at a higher dc). Bow, yes a 100% so our bard is of any use outside of talking ei wot? And potions of healing BECAUSE WHAT IF WE GET KONKED AND THERE IS NO ONE TO HEAL THE PARTY? Yes this is only to heal the eladrin. Plus I hope some bullshit-fu that says we are more sensitive to magic so that potion is a +3 for us and a +2 for the rest...
>>
>>5857264
>A staff [7 points]
More mana is good
>Light Armour [3 points]
Only if father doesn’t have armor- if he does, switch it out for shirin.
>>
>>5858106
>>5857663
>>5857595
>>5857533
>>5857531
>>5857375
>>5857371
>>5857319
>>5857284
>>5857271
>>5857269
[Locked!]
>>
>>5858398
how did wand beat staff?
>>
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>>5858399
[I deferred to the majority that preferred to keep some money is reserve rather than spend it all (50/50, but in a tie I break with 1post IDs), but noted that that the majority wanted at least SOME form of self-defence; since neither staff nor wand had a clear majority, I made a judgement call. In the future, there will be options to change up your equipment, so don't sweat it.]
>>
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>>5858398
>>5858407
Even if you’re not anticipating combat, you decide it wise to make sure you aren’t TOTALLY defenceless… And anyway, if you’re going to be a Mage Adventurer, a wand or staff or some sort only seems appropriate.

“It’s tradition!” your father insists.

You indulge him, and yourself, purchasing a gem-capped and pearlescent blue-and-gold number from a shop which Efron recommends most highly. A wand of this make and model, enchanted with the aid of a skilled combat-mage, comes with a few distinct advantages: for one, you will have an easier time casting the <Stabilize> spell, which could easily save a life. For another, and perhaps most importantly, it will allow you to cast that staple of all combat wizards which you have sadly neglected: <Magic Missile>.

“Honestly, nobody bothers learning how to cast that old chestnut,” Efron intimated to you over drinks one evening. “Every damned wand comes with it these days. If you run out of Elementals, though, you’ll be glad to have it in your back pocket!”

This matter settled, you bid farewell-for now—to your father’s family and to your friends, and join the elven bard Endingray—who took the extra money you’d provided him to purchase himself a bow and some arrows as well. You feel better knowing that, if worse comes to worst, your hireling can do more than talk his way out of a bad spot… Even if you hope these precautions won’t prove necessary.

“Have fun fun!” Costella says, giving you a warm, soft, all-too-enjoyable hug, and a fleeting peck on the cheek.

“Bring me a souvenir,” Zith-Zi instructs you. “Something proper elfy, alright?”

“Bring me back one of those proper elfy WOMEN!” Efron quips, earning a kidney-punch from Zith-Zi.

“Right,” you say with a roll of the eyes and a smirk.

“Be safe,” Pearce simply says, as the two of your clasp hands.
“I always am,” you reply.

“Bullshit!” he laughs. “Just don’t turn yourself into an ACTUAL ghost this time, Tips.”

“You two are, like, SO cute,” Costella remarks.

You both blush, Pearce somewhat more vibrantly than you, and the two of you quickly release one another’s hands.
>>
>>5858434
You, your father, Laskar Endingray, and Muffins all depart shortly thereafter. You make your way to the edge of town, close to the docks, where Izirina Henzler awaits. She is still wearing his purple-lined, deep black cloak—her favourite these days—and her shades glasses as well, but she has forsaken the wizard’s cope for a hood on this occasion—less conspicuous, you assume. You still wear your own but, well… All it takes is to relax yourself, and few humans or demihumans notice your presence anyway.

“Ezreal,” Izirina greets you. “Ah, and Ruldofo, and…”

She pauses, appraising Laskar Endingray, who stands indulgently still In the sort of effortlessly-flattering pose which comes natural to elves… And which, seeing it second-hand after all these years, you wonder if you yourself have adopted. You feel suddenly self-conscious, not sure what to do with your hands or feet.

“…And Muffins!” Izzy chrips, kneeling to pet the lion head of your chimera with one hand and the goat head with the other.

The monstrous mythical beast nearly bowls her over, being easily the size of a fully-grown lion by now—with the goat head much larger than any normal goat’s would be as a result. Both mouth at her in harmless play, though they recoil in mild irritation and in plain confusion at the heat and light which crackle from her form in response. Endingray’s eyebrows arch at the display as well, and he glances towards you for explanation. You offer none, simply asking:

“Are you ready?”

Izirina pushes Muffins gently away, scratching the lion’s chin and gently massaging the goat between the eyes, before offering the snake-head that forms your familiar’s tail a gently stroke as she stands. She looks to you, not smug but with the easy confidence of expertise and experience—apparently earned over these last two months.

“Traversing space within the same plane is sort of just child’s play now,” she says.

“Oh,” you say, because what else do you say to a statement of overwhelming power like that?

“I’ll need you to help guide me, though,” she reminds you, and holds out a hand.

You stare at the proffered digits for a moment, your heart racing queerly. You steel yourself, reminding yourself to be strong—that this is just practical necessity. You take her hand.

It’s warm. She squeezes your hand tight. Your heart melts. You lock eyes. Your lips part. You really, REALLY want to kiss her, hold her, tell her that—



“Ready?” you ask, swallowing the sudden onslaught of emotion.

“Ready,” Izirina Henzler agrees.
>>
>>5858435
You close your eyes as she—presumably, behind the tinted glass—closes hers. You both breathe in, and commune. Mind-to-mind and soul-to-soul for the first time since… The incident… You allow your childhood memories of the green glades and majestic vista of the Sylvan realms to return. Memories of elf-song, or dancing, of fairy-friends and sacred beasts, of rot-bridges and trees so great and old and healthy that an academy can be built within while they yet live thrivingly. Of Iternagreyn, and of Dappulyet, your smaller ‘home-town’ (insofar as that term ahs any direct translation or meaning in the communal, collective, somewhat seasonal structure of Sylvan Land traditional lifeways).

“It’s beautiful,” Izzy whispers quietly, a you share the memories effortlessly between your entwined and enmeshed spirits.

“Yeah,” you agree softly.

The <Dimension Door> opens: a circular space above the waters of the bay, beneath the waxing half-moon above. Through its astral opening, you glimpse the moon-speckled silvery ferns and wide trunks of that unspoilt and primeval forest, said to be heir and offspring the moon’s own holy nature, and your heart suddenly aches for home in a way that you didn’t expect.

You reluctantly pull your hand from Izirina’s own, and with one last meaningful glance and a nod of thanks, you pass through, Muffins at your side. Your father and his friend follow shortly thereafter….

But it is not the Sylvan Realm where you emerge.

You KNOW what you saw on the other end of the <Dimension Door>,, and as much as you have misgivings about Izirina Henzler’s priorities and intentions you ABSOLUTELY trust her abilities. Nevertheless, when you step into space and set foot upon distant ground, the beautiful and lush forest of the Sylvan Lands are replaced—or rather overlayed—with an entire other dimension, and it is FAR less welcoming. Here, fiddleheads curl about trees and transform into choking vines. Mushrooms sprout up amongst the trunks, the size of children and dewy with blood-red, droplets that reek of poison. The soul is ashen grey rather than rich and loamy brown, and the sheen is not of silver moonlight from that most holy satellite, above, but of the unnameable and unplaceable colour for <Faerie Fire> which appears only to the supernatural senses of those with second-sight… Which, luckily for you, includes every member of your party this evening, including the reptilian tail-head of your chimera.

“What’s this, then?” your father murmurs, hand already reaching for his sword’s hilt.

“Trouble,” Laskar says, though with a careful calm, as taut as the string of a bow—though he keeps his hands at his side and CAREFULLY does not reach for his.
>>
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>>5858436
A spore-filled mist rises from the floor of this forsaken and forlorn forest—this woodland outside of conventional spacetime. Three figures emerges from the gloom, one for each of the (humanoid) members of your party… And at their side, a curious beast like a great, tan hound, with ridged back, catlike tail, and long, elfin ears.. And intellect behind the eyes. The three humanoid figures beside it each have their own eyes hidden by cap—mushroom caps, though whether they are low-slung hats or part of their faces, you cannot yet be sure. What you DO know is that they are each a member of the True Fey.

“You have a lot of nerve,” one of them says with a sneer, “coming here, bringing foreigners and unholy magicks.”

How do you respond?
>Quick—flee back towards the portal to Hawksong!
>Draw your wand, and open fire—a warning shot should suffice
>Hold up your empty hands and attempt diplomacy
[potential bonuses if you include details of your approach]
>Summon Elemental II to even the odds
>ATTACK! Panic and fight to kill!
[specify a tactic and/or primary target for better results]
>Write-in

Also, I'm going to busy for a couple days as I get drunk on fancy scotch for my birthday, just a heads up!
>>
>>5858441
>Hold up your empty hands and attempt diplomacy

>"I'd call them neutral magicks actually. Not like we're summoning demons or raising undead here. Portals don't really lie anywhere on the divine spectrum, they're just in the middle. Also I know for a fact that one of these foreigners has been here before, so it would be weird to get all fussy about it now."
>>
>>5858441
>Hold up your empty hands and attempt diplomacy
"harmless magick and it isn't unholy as a matter of fact. Only one of my friends is a true foreigner and I can asure you he means well."
>>
>>5858441
>>Hold up your empty hands and attempt diplomacy
supporting >>5858522

>The Chimera? A certain Spriggan I know have absolutely no problem with artificial Chimera, and this is a borned one.
>My Elemental-soul self? Well, it makes me more half-Fae than the half-man I used to be, don't ya think?
>>
>>5858441
>Summon Elemental II to even the odds

>Write-in: Warn them and tell them leave our path.
>>
>>5858441
It was good to know you. Thanks for running and hopefully your next life is a better one.
>>
>>5858441
>>5858968
oh shit that's right
I got distracted by humorous write in and forgot to say happy birthday pogchamp
>>
>>5858968
[Anon, I'm taking a couple days off to party with pals. I'm not dying. Lol, wut?]

>>5858967
[Oh, I probably should have said: if you have a preference for what type of elemental you're summoning, let me know!]
>>
Happy Birthday RQM.
I sincerely wish you the best for this week and the year to come.
>>
>>5858441
Happy birthday!
>>
>>5858997
we fighting fungi sprits so a magma elemental would be my pick.
>>
>>5858441
>>
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>>5858441
Happy Birthday. Hope you had a wonderful time!
>>
>>5861260
>>5859724
>>5859037
>>5859004
>>5858996
[Thanks for the well-wishes! It was a great time, but I also got absolutely hammered and so am going to have a nap and some water before I write. Update coming tonight!]
>>
Rolled 15, 14, 12, 5 = 46 (4d20)

>>5858522
>>5858601
>>5858631
>>5858967
You holds up your empty hands, throwing a quick-but-communicative glance to your father to ensure he does likewise; reluctantly, he does.

“Hello there!” you greet the fungal fairies, speaking your mother-tongue just as they are. “Should I assume you’re… Some form of borderguards?”

“Assume what you’d like,” sniffs one haughtily.

“Except that we’ll just let your out of this place and into the Sylvan Realms,” adds another.

The one at the centre crosses their arms, saying nothing but reaching down to rest a hand on the strange hound-creature.

“Right,” you say after a moment, satisfied that they have essentially answered your question.

Whatever this place is, it’s some sort of fey barrier to prevent unauthorized magical entry into the material plane of the Sylvan Realms and whatever the exact nature of these androgynous, mushroom-faced fey, they ARE effectively a border patrol. Unfortunately for them, with the <Dimension Door> shrinking to nothingness behind you, you have no way to go BUT forward… Nor do you intend to do so.

“Friends… No, cousins… Please, there’s no need to be hostile. Neither myself nor my fellow-elf here are ‘foreigners’. We’re both FROM the Sylvan Realms.’

Laksar Endingray nods, and you wonder if he is more familiar with these fey than you are. Maybe not—you don’t recall any such beings or even more mundane, physical elven security forces impeding travellers like this when you left, and Endingray had been away from the Sylvan realms longer than you have. This is… New. A part of the new isolationist attitude which Pearce forewarned you of.

“What about the others?” demands he fungal fey to the left. “You’re bringing men and monsters by whose warrant, huh? And full of unholy arts?”

“My chimera familair was born this way, a natural being,” you assert. “There’s none of my magic in him… And even if there was, I know a certain spriggan over near the old maple in the hills outside Hawksong who made no fuss about even an artificial chimera. Why should this be any different?”

“That is that and this is this,” says one of the fey enigmatically. “Besides, it’s not your cat-goat-snake we’re concerned about, is it? Like yous aid, the unholy magic’s not in HIM.”

You look to your father, who is visibly tense. Since he’s probably only understanding a merest fraction of the conversation, and the body language of these guardians has hardly softened, you can’t say you blame him. Seeing you looking to him, though, he forces himself to relax and to smile, as if to put YOU at ease.

“The only magic in that man is FEY magic, taught to me by a member of a fairy court,” you insist. “What’s unholy about THAT? I’m not summoning demons or raising undead here, right? And you can’t mean PORTALS are unholy, can you? All this magic is… Well, NEUTRAL."

[Sociability & Sense Motive, DC 8/12/16]
>>
>>5861640

“Exactly right,” says the middle fairy, speaking up at last, and pointing an accusatory finger. “The magic that you’re waving about willy-nilly, casting this way and that, is just as neutral as fire or water… But if someone was to use fire to burn up an old sacred grove, wouldn’t that be damnably unholy? What about using water to brew a poison?”

You’re a little surprised at the hostility of this metaphor.

“Please, I don’t understand, cousins,” you begin with a placating tone. “Tell me, what’s so bad or wrong about what I’ve done? None of us come to bring harm to my homeland or its people, honestly!”

>15 vs 8 (avoided violence); success
>15 vs 12 (convinced them of your honest intentions); success

The fairies on either side glare at you—quite the feats with no visible eyes, and yet they pull it off all the same. However, the central figure lowers his hand, the venom leaving his voice and his body language communicating a release of some of his tension… And perhaps some confusion.

“You might not mean harm, but it doesn’t mean you don’t BRING harm, teaching our sacred ways to our enemies.”

“Enemies?” you balk. “I… I haven’t done anything like that! I’ve only been sharing and teaching the magic to friends… To humans allied with the Syvlan Folk!

“To humans ruled by a wicked queen who has birthed the spawn of a great draconic beastie.”
>>
>>5861657
>15 vs. 16 (convince them you are harmless and to let you go free); failed

You hesitate, unsure how to reply to that accusation. Hawksong IS ruled by a woman with some rather… Unfortunate and peculiar associations. You’ve only met Queen Ekaterine twice, finding her to be a rather nervous person but not overtly menacing or ‘evil’… But You also know enough by way of your master the Archmage and from conversations with the Spirit of the Old Maple to know that the accusations these borderguards are making are not without at least SOME truth… And if they know this, and it is known to the Sylvan Realms, you suppose you now understand the reason for the severing of diplomatic ties to Hawksong and its allied realms.

“We can’t just turn back and go home,” you assert, in spite of all this.

“And why not?” demands the fairy to the right.

You open your mouth to answer, but the words die on your tongue. Given what they know, or THINK they know, and their obvious fears as to how you will share and use your information, you can’t exactly just come out and SAY you’ve come here to learn more ancient secrets of the Bonum Chaoticum, can you?

“Why have you come home, cousin?” asks the central fairy again, as his preculiar hound stares you down, awaiting his direction to act.

>Tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Wild Gods
>Try to trick some fairies with falsehood and half-truths
[Specify what you tell them you’re doing here]
>Throw yourself at their mercy—ask to be escorted to someone in a position of authority
>Enough of this—they’ll step aside or you’ll go THROUGH them!
>Write-in
>>
>>5861659
>Tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Wild Gods
since we managed to convince them somehow, we can tell them of our mission to study the balance dance
>>
>>5861659
>Enough of this—they’ll step aside or you’ll go THROUGH them!

Their argument is ridiculous, the queen is a broadline stranger to us. We're not her emissary or diplomats or even one of her noblemen.

We came here for entirely personal reasons which is none of these mushrooms sentry business.
>>
>>5861713
>Their argument is ridiculous
[This may well be, but in case I failed to communicate it, their main point of concern or contention seems to be that you're sharing and using 'sacred' magical secrets with subjects of a kingdom they regard as having fallen under enemy control.]
>>
>>5861659
>Tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Wild Gods

>>5861713
It makes sense to me, it's as RQM said here >>5861755

It doesn't matter how personal our reasons are, the end result is a rival faction gets info they didn't have before.
>>
>>5861659

>Tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Wild Gods
>>
>>5861659
>Enough of this—they’ll step aside or you’ll go THROUGH them!
Lord knows the truth will only horrify them further
>>
>>5861961
>>5861908
>>5861769
>>5861713
>>5861695
[I guess we'll see if the truth realy sets you free! I'll start writing when I get home.]
>>
>>5862512
These fairy-folk must surely see that their arguments against your entry were rooted in baseless paranoia, right? Your motivations for this research were purely personal… Or, at worst, humanitarian! You were trying to help the PEOPLE of Hawksong, not Queen Ekaterine, wherever her own loyalties and motivations may lie.

“I know nothing of the Queen or the Prince Consort,” you begin, but then stop yourself. “Well… perhaps I do, but I don’t SEVRE them! I’m not an emissary of the Crown, r a diplomat, or a nobleman. I come before you as a fellow child of the Wild Gods—that’s all!”

“You wouldn’t be the first of our cousins to serve the forces of darkness,” notes the rightmost the mushroom sentries bitterly. “Not even the first to throw in your lot with the so-called ‘Dragon King’.”

Dragon King? What? You don’t even know who or what they’re TALKING about! Maybe the Prince Consort, whoever and whatever he actually is… But you’ve never even MET the man!

“I’m a Disciple of the True Fey!” you protest. “I’m not even FROM hawksong—I’m from HERE! THESE lands! The Spirit of the Old Maple wouldn’t have taught me the secrets he did if he didn’t trust my intentions! The people I’ve healed… Whoever their leader is, THEY are innocents, and they’ve been our allies for centuries.”

“Are they really so innocent?” asks the sentry to the left. “With how they treat this world, humans are the enemy of our enemy at best.”

“You paint them with too broad a brush,” Laskar Endingray unexpectedly spoke up then. “There is beauty in their flaws and foibles… In their striving, in the briefness of their time and the intensity with which they live it. I have seen hardened men join together in drink, as strangers, only to embrace and weep for the pain and the nobility of one another’s spirits… Human women hold one another’s hair and whisper sweet nothings while they purge spirits from their body, and tend gently to one another. I’ve heard bawdy songs sung earnestly by honest and joyful souls, as boundless and beautiful as any elven hymn or dirge, cousins. And their suffering beneath this plague… It has been real, and the wounds lasting.”

He points to you.

“This young one has been helping to heal what the dark one’s servants have damaged and sought to destroy. How can you begrudge him the attempt to restore beauty and health to a blighted race?”

“You speak wisely,” the middle one concludes, “even if I’m not yet so sure you two are ACTING wisely.”

“And what do you mean to do here, then?” asks the one on the right.

You decide to answer truthfully, for these ARE your kindred.

“I wish to deepen my understanding,” you say. “I want to know the history of our people… And our magic. To become a better disciple, maybe. A wiser one. How can I know what’s safe to share if I don’t even really know the full scope of the forces I’m working with?”
>>
>>5862571
The mystical borderguards seem to exchange eyeless looks, unreadable.

“Are they going to let us in?” asks your father in his human tongue, having apparently either read their softening body language or inferred something of their shifting attitude from what words he can interpret without context.

“Maybe?” you reply, and then you hazard a hopeful guess. “I think so.”

“We are,” the apparent leader of these fey concludes. “We’ll be watching you, though.”

“Try not to take I personal,” the one to the left says with a small smirk. “It’s our job, after all.”

“Right,” your murmur.

The hound-creature is the first to turn away, taking a step and simply, well, blinking out of your perception. You stare at where it just was, shocked by how utterly immediate its departure was, and wondering where it went. After all, with your enhanced, aethereal senses, it can’t have just vibrated into the space-between-spaces where the Fair Folk dwell—you would still see it. As you try to work out the trick, each of the fungal fairies do likewise, one by one, faster than you can register.

“There’s still a lot to learn,” you mutter to yourself.

With the departure of these strange, supernatural broderguards, the mist of mystical mushroom-spores gradually settles and fades. Like a curtain falling to the floor, it exposes the physical forest one might expect: a silver-lit clearing without great and terrible fungi, but with more pleasant and less toxic-looking toadstools merely furnishing the base of healthy, hardy trees of a breadth and age unheard of in human lands. You exit one realm of wonder and enter another, but one more familiar:

You are once more home, in the Sylvan Realms.

“You did it, lad!” your father cheers you, slapping you on the back.

“Not alone,” you admit, with a nod to Endingray. “You’ve heard of what I’ve been doing, then?”

“Of course,” the bard replies with a small smile. “Everyone has. Few in Hawksong may see you pass by them, Young Master Van Houtzmann, but everyone knows about the Archmage’s Apprentice, who saved the city. They toast to your honour in halls big and small, you know… Or at least in the small ones. I’ve never been one for fancy parties.”

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the elf, with his perfect flowing hair and chiseled features. The more you look at him, and especially after hearing that SPEECH, you really can't imagine him as the sort of musician to be playing dive bars and brothels, let alone sentimentalizing that low culture of sexuality and alcoholism. What an odd fellow…
>>
>>5862573
“Well, my child, where to?” asks Rudolfo Van Houtzmann. “we’re in, but the Silver Realms are no small patch of woodland, ey wot? I assume you have a destination in mind?”

You do indeed. Maybe MORE than one, actually. First and foremost, though, you intend to visit…
>Iternagreyn’s Mages Tower—the great, towering tree, living and hale, which served as your first academy of magic, in this country’s closest equivalent to a ‘capitol’
[Pursue an academic course of study, with great access ot knowledge but in a place with many watchful eyes]

> Dappulyet, your birthplace and home of your mother’s clan and their divine patrons, to whom your blood and spirit are most closely allied
[You will have an easy ‘in’ with the local fey and elven seers, but this also means encountering your estranged mother…]

>You would seek out the secret mystery-cults of the most obscure gods, in the deepest and darkest forests of this place
[A fearful mystery, whispered among elven children like some might refer to the boogieman-of-the-montains or to the Hawksong Tower’s owlbears, but likely well-versed in shadowy lore]

>The holy-most temples of the Sacred Sun and Mystical Moon, who are nearest and dearest to the greatest gods of your mother’s race
[Pursue a religious education in the traditional manner of your people’s priests and clerics, though it will entail proving your piety and pledging your soul to truly achieve the most precious of their knowledge]
>>
>>5862575
>Iternagreyn’s Mages Tower—the great, towering tree, living and hale, which served as your first academy of magic, in this country’s closest equivalent to a ‘capitol’
>You would seek out the secret mystery-cults of the most obscure gods, in the deepest and darkest forests of this place
Magic towers and secret cults? I’m getting a bit nostalgic now…
>>
>>5862579
[Sorry, I should have specified: by first and foremost, I meant 'pick one' this time. The others will be options down the line, potentially.]
>>
>>5862581
Just the tower then- I wanna solve our intangibility problem
>>
>>5862575
> Dappulyet, your birthplace and home of your mother’s clan and their divine patrons, to whom your blood and spirit are most closely allied
hi mom
>>
>>5862575
>Iternagreyn’s Mages Tower—the great, towering tree, living and hale, which served as your first academy of magic, in this country’s closest equivalent to a ‘capitol’
>>
>>5862575
>You would seek out the secret mystery-cults of the most obscure gods, in the deepest and darkest forests of this place.

Where the actual useful knowledge is at. All the fey craft we've learned came from rural area's of wilderness.
>>
>>5862575
>> Dappulyet, your birthplace and home of your mother’s clan and their divine patrons, to whom your blood and spirit are most closely allied
>>
>>5862575
>You would seek out the secret mystery-cults of the most obscure gods, in the deepest and darkest forests of this place
>>
>>5862595
>>5862634
>>5862641
>>5862752
>>5862861
>>5862924
[A three-way tie, huh? jeez. I'll leave this open another hour or so, then break it for Dappulyet if nobody else changes their vote or adds one, in deference to >>5862579]
>>
>>5862575
> Dappulyet
>>
>>5863621
>>5862595
>>5862634
>>5862641
>>5862752
>>5862861
>>5862924

There re many possible fonts of knowledge in the Sylvan realms, obviously, but only one with the perfect admixture of advantages to immediately recommend it… And that’s your birthplace and longest home before Hawksong: Dappulyet.

Dappulyet is a small burg, if ‘burg’ is even the right word. Your clan, like most denizens of the fey-inhabited woodlands broadly referred to as the “The Sylvan Realms”, are nomads. They move about seasonally, following the bloom of nectar-bearing flowers to feed their hives of bees, or the fruiting of fruits and berries, the burgeoning of tubers, or the rare and reverent ritual of taking game-meat from a sacred beast of the holy forests. To call your people ‘of’ Dappulyet is to borrow a concept of your father’s race and loosely apply it. More accurately, the place called Dappulyet is where their most permanent dwelling-places and religious sites have accumulated over the last aeon, out of convenience or habit. Importantly, it is where the most important and powerful spirits of your bloodline and your spiritual lineage live, timeless and immortal, imparting ancient wisdom from days which no mortal—even an elf—can well remember.

It is also, of course, where your mother spends most her time.

“Ah, Mylaerlea! Fair and sweet Mylaerlea! My Mimi, oh most beauteous flower in all of these beautiful forests and glens!”

You look at your father strangely, fascinated and horrified by this response t the proposition. You’ve come to respect the old adventurer a great deal this last decade—Hells Below, you even took his NAME. Still, you are intimately and painfully aware that your own estrangement from your mother, Mylaerlea Mious (or, ugh, ‘Mimi’) is a product of not just your mixed breeding and comparatively shortened lifespan and expedited aging process, but of your father’s abandonment of his paternal and spousal responsibilities. Does he REALLY expect a warm welcome?

...Should YOU?
>>
>>5863666
“Dappulyet… Hm, it will be early spring there,” Laskar Endingray remarks. “A festival of blossoming, beauty, and honey… Is that what brought your people to dwell there?”

You nod curtly.

“Your clan are closely associated with a god or goddess of flowers then? Or of bees, or butterflies?”

“Well…” you begin, feeling a bloom of pride in spite of your estrangement and your complicated feelings about the upcoming, inevitable reunion. “My clan’s most famous ancestor is…”

>Sinhyana, Queen of Bees and Beekeepers, know for her industry and organization
>Crasowyllhin, Prince of Roses and Thorns, know for his love of beauty and fierce defence of same
>Vhynessien, The Butterfly Knight, a champion of freedom and self-expression
>Elxsalsar The Hunter, who leads the culling of those plants and animals which threaten the balance
>Lughala, The Sun God himself, he who dwells in heaven and whose great gift to all living things is light and warmth itself
>Miannie, Princess of the New Moon and daughetr of the long-quiet Moon Goddess, who oversees renewal
>Write-in [make up your own fey demigod!]
>>
>>5863667
>Miannie, Princess of the New Moon and daughetr of the long-quiet Moon Goddess, who oversees renewal
Time to punish some motherfuckers in the name of the moon
>>
>>5863667
>Write-in [make up your own fey demigod!] Miachmer, The Sage, famed patron god of herbalism and alchemy and the claimed founder of the school of transmutation.
>>
>>5863667
>>Sinhyana, Queen of Bees and Beekeepers, know for her industry and organization
You had me at beekeeper

I feel this one is the more in accordance with my Newt Scamander greater plan
>>
>>5863667
>Crasowyllhin, Prince of Roses and Thorns, know for his love of beauty and fierce defence of same
>>
>>5863686
>>5863798
>>5863881
>>5863994
[With a four way tie, some of you fine folks may wish to consider secind choices...]
>>
>>5863994 is me while I was away. as a second choice I support >>5863881
>>
I'm >>5862641 since id changed again.
>>
>>5863667
>Miannie, Princess of the New Moon and daughetr of the long-quiet Moon Goddess, who oversees renewal
Moonsword ;_;
>>
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>>5864634
>>5864636
>breaks tie

>>5864639
>re-ties it

>>5864639
>>5864634
>>5863881
>>5863798
>>5863686
[It's between Miannie and Sinhyana in the ultimate battle between MOON and BEE. Choose your character! I'll break the tie before bed if nobody else does.]
>>
>>5864639
Going with moon, we are a mystic Industry is cringe.
>>
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>>5864669
>>5864654
[Miannie it is!]
>>
>>5864669
>>5864639
>>5864634
>>5863881
>>5863798
>>5863686
“My clan’s most ancestor is Miannie, Princess of the New Moon,” you say, unable to hide your pride.

“Well that you ARE proud,” Laskar Endingray readily acknowledges. “It isn’t every clan that can claim patronage of a daughter of the Moon Goddess herself!”

Indeed it IS a prestigious thing, to be a so-called ‘Sun Elf’ or “moon Elf’. Those two celestial bodies, and the deities who dwell upon them, are principal ones of your race, and of the world as a whole. How could they NOT be, hovering overhead as they do, supplying almost all the world’s natural light. Even the human raceand others have temples to their honour, simply by dint of their universality! While the sun god Lughala remains everpresent, however, it is well known that the moon goddess Rianniane has long withdrawn herself from the world and its affairs and mortal people, such that an appeal to her is always made through one of her eight daughters. Each daughter is associated with a phase of the moon, of the calendar and an aspect of creation. Miannie, Princess of the New Moon, is a goddess who stands for secrets, shadows, subtlety, and of new beginnings, deep thoughts, and of rebirth and renewal.

…All oddly apropos of what has brought you here.

You muse upon this strange connection as you and Endingray navigate the forest. Despite your inward focus, you cannot help but become distracted at the nostalgia and undying wonderment which this place elicits in you. It is said that the Sylvan realms’ plants and animals are transplants of those refined creations which dwell on the Sun and Moon themselves, and it is easy to believe it tonight. The moon is half-full, in its first quarter, and by that light you catch flitting moths as bright as butterflies, foxes and hares frolicking in playful and non-lethal half-hunt, and even stop and crouch with bowed heads to allow the passage of a striding sacred elk with legs as long a you are tall and antlers twice as wide as their body, all white and shining in the light of moon and stars.

(Muffins is enthralled, of course, but you manage to stop him from doing anything regrettable with a few of the treats in your pocket, which Pearce insisted you take.)

In Hawksong and its tamed surrounds, nature is all but non-existent. In other places—the woods to the west, the Goblin Wastes and Orcwilds, it is often called by the Race of Man ‘red in tooth and claw’. Here, in all the world, it is clean of such imperfections, fresh and pristine. Here, nature is holy and divine, full and perfected in all its dimensions. It is small wonder that few elves ever leave the Sylvan Realms, and almost all of them return before too long.
>>
>>5864727
“Amazing!” your father enthuses.

“You’re keeping up alright, then?” you ask, little guiltily, for you had forgotten your father lacks your low-light vision.

He merely grins a roguish grin, though, and taps his forehead beside his left eye with a wink.

“I see fairies and such clearly now,” he reminds you. “There’s bugger all what isn’t reflecting magical light back at me here, wot?”

It’s a fair point: even with full and luscious boughs above, the nature of this woodland is that each silver-green leaf reflects and refracts light in a pearlescent nighttime rainbow, losing almost none of the glow a of the sky above as it bounces it about between trees and bushes—if you but have eyes to see it. Now, thanks to your ritual, your father has such eyes.

On the subject of elves, you soon begin to encounter them. It is late here, nighttime, and yet in the Sylvan Realms it matters little. You feel peaceful as one asleep, but not exhausted, not in need of sleep. Endingray seems similarly enlivened, though since the Elfman plays music at NIGHTclubs, you imagine he must have some other trick to achieve this feat even outside this bountiful habitat. Just as you and he are still awake, so are many others. First there lone striders who pause to bow their heads or raise their hands in curious (even somewhat wary) greeting; then, there are couples holding hands, or gazing into one another’s eyes, or walking with their young families—children of ten years, of twenty, still prepubescent youths half the height of their mothers and fathers, still holding their hands.

“…Mothers and fathers,” you murmur to yourself, bracing for what is to come.

The flitting, fleeting fair folk begin to mass and gather in greater numbers as you grow closer and closer to Dappulyet. Even with the shortcut granted to you by Izirina Henzler’s magic, it takes you all night to reach it, such that dawn’s first light illuminates your reunion with the place you were born: an open glade, where trees are guided gently to spread themselves apart and spare a space for a most glorious monument of curated and polished stones, not roughly hewn or forced into brick-shape and stacked, but naturally accumulated and carefully arranged across hundreds or thousands of years to perfectly form an almost natural mound which is, even so, remarkably tall, and strong, and symmetrical, and all pristine white with a thin chalk powder which each year is reapplied and renewed.
>>
>>5864730
Around the central temple are gathered finely-crafted houses of living wood, cultivated to withstand all weather with scant maintenance, domed and with hanging boughs of useful herbs and edible fruits which can be plucked as needed, and as sustainable. It is humble, its native population smaller than a single apartment building in one of Hawksong’s more populated neighbourhoods, yet it is an ancient place befitting an ancient race, and it is as old or OLDER than that ‘shining city on the hill’, with some residents who might remember when Hawksong the Great was young and fragile.

“So this is your old stomping grounds, is it, my boy?” asks Ruldulfo cheerfully, slapping you on the shoulder and looking around. “Well, it’s certainly pretty!”

“It’s quite nice,” Endingray agrees.

“You’ve never been here?” you ask.

“Not this specific settlement,” Endingray says. “I’m a child of the Mockingbird Marquis, myself.”

“Mylaerlea and I met on the road,” your father explains. “I was never, aha, entirely COMFORTABLE going home… And she never asked to bring me here, if we’re being honest!”

He adjusts his hat and averts his gaze, and admits: “Maybe I wasn’t the, ah, sort of human a nice young elf brings home to meet her mum and dad, ey wot?”

Grandmother and Grandfather… Well, you barely remember, them, to be honest. It’s been so long and you saw them rarely. Maybe once, twice, in your whole young life? Then again, your mother sent you away to study at the sage of ten, so you hardly had the chance to get to know them.

“Over twenty years,” you whisper, with a shiver.

Suddenly, in spite of the rising sun and the excitement of your return, you feel very, very tired all at once… And old. So old, in spite of being still quite, quite young. You see children, ‘teenagers’, playing at games and flirtations which you, Pearce, Testa, Efron, and Blanchette indulged in ten years ago, and you know instinctively that some of these children are your ELDERS. Even transformed as you are, you draw many wandering eyes and whispered comments, and you feel at once an alien. You haven’t seen your homeland in over a decade, but it’s been TWO decades since you saw Mylaerlea Mious, or any other member of her family… YOUR family.

What will you do?
>Seek out your mother, and request a place to rest—might as well face the inevitable
>Find somewhere else to stay—perhaps you can find an old friend of the family?
>Head straight to the temple, as a religious pilgrim, and set yourself to work at uncovering ancient mysteries
>Retreat for a moment from this place—sleep in the woods if you must, but you need some space, NOW
>Write-in
>>
>>5864732
>Find somewhere else to stay—perhaps you can find an old friend of the family?
>>
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>Even transformed as you are, you draw many wandering eyes and whispered comments
No shit, we're third-ghost

>Seek out your mother, and request a place to rest—might as well face the inevitable
>>
>>5864871
>No shit, we're third-ghost
[To a lay-elf, you just appear to be MORE Fey, but also subtly wrong]
>>
>>5864732
>Seek out mommy
>>
>>5864732
>Find somewhere else to stay—perhaps you can find an old friend of the family?
>>
>>5864732
>Seek out your mother, and request a place to rest—might as well face the inevitable
>>
>>5864732
>Seek out mom
>>
>>5864732
>>Head straight to the temple, as a religious pilgrim, and set yourself to work at uncovering ancient mysteries
>>
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>>5864757
>>5864871
>>5864887
>>5864935
>>5865548
>>5865555
>>5865604
[Locked and writing!]
>>
>>5865641
There’s no avoiding it—no avoiding her. Frankly, the more you think on it, the more it feels silly. Why should You avoid your MOTHER when it’s SHE who sent You away? You were never uncomfortable with HER, and if she’s uncomfortable to see YOU… That’s Mylaerlea Mious’ problem, isn’t it?

“Damn right,” you almost snarl.

“Does he always talk to himself like this?” you hear Endingray ask your father.

“Not so much, no,” you hear Rudolfo whisper back. “I think he’s having a bit of a—Woah there! Wait up, my child!”

You are already storming your way through the glen. There is no veil of anonymity or intangibility for you here—if your average elf cannot touch you, they can surely see you, and in your wizard’s cap and human robes, you stand out like a sore thumb. It’s not just that, either—you know your magical aura is subtly shifted, twisted, ‘wrong’ in some ephemeral way, and even here in this magical place you move without stirring leaves, or grasses, or the breeze. You must seem a phantom—a spirit that walks like a man, striding determinedly through a place of elfmen and elfmaids towards the artfully-woven place which, even now, you recognzie as your family home.

“I’m back!” you announce, maybe a bit louder than you intended.

As you speak the words, you will yourself to full tangibility as you push open the thin, living-leaf door which serves as sole guardian against unwanted entry—without lock, or latch, and with only the gentle tinkle of a weakly-placed magical alarm to announce you. No one in the Sylvan Realms bars a door to guests—there is no need, with virtually no theft or violence to guard against, and few gauche enough to force themselves where they are not wanted.

...Except maybe you, Ezreal Mious. Ezreal van Houtzmann. Ezreal Half-Human.
>>
>>5865669
Inside it is not quite as you remember. It’s smaller, for one thing—a humble abode meant to house only a single person or a small family. You suppose YOU were simply not quite so tall when you last vlived here.

The space is a single room, broken up by a thin barrier of stringy, hanging willow-branches with fairy-light leaves—a screen of privacy for the ‘bedroom’ portion. The main room is dominated by craft-table for making charms and tools and artful things, and a smaller table bearing a wooden water-basin and cutting-board, as well as a beautiful knife of (by human standards) inimitable elegance and sharpness: the food preparation table. There is no firepit to cook over—no need, when the forests produce most raw foods ready to eat, and elves can digest them so readily; that which requires cooking is prepared by means of magic, or outside and communally, where most of the business of living takes place. The rest of the room is an assortment of little tchotchkes and mementos resting upon one another or hanging from the ceiling by gossamer threads: staffs and staves, gems and art, looted relics of bygone adventures. Amongst these are amidst rock-overgrown stone seats or careful-pruned floral bushes.

“Is that the mask of the Mad Warlock Athebastere?” your father remarks.

He peers over your shoulder, drawn in by one such once-cursed item turning this way and that in the sifting air-currents of the slammed-open door.

“I remember that one,” he notes quietly. “Bloody hard fight.”

“We nearly lost August. Were it not for you distracting the fiend long enough for me to drag him to safety and to patch him up."

The light and airy voice draws both your gaze and Rudolfo’s instantly—though not Endingray’s, you note, for the other elf in your party has hung back—perhaps out of discomfort or propriety, to let you settle introductions. You and your father, watch rapt as the curtain parts and your mother steps through. You take in her golden-white skin, her long and elegant ears, her wide and youthful eyes of forest green, her rich golden hair, and her light and gentle step—not timid, NEVER timid, but always gentle. She is…

“You haven’t changed at all,” you note aloud, unable to help yourself. “You’re just the same as when I left.”

“Well, it hasn’t been all that long,” says the nearly hundred-year-old elfmaid, with a small half-smile. “Though… You’ve changed a little, haven’t you?”

She looks past you, to your father, and then spectre of a smile fades at the eye and edges.

“…Both of you have, but one of you both more and less than he OUGHT to have. Oh, Rudie what have you DONE to yourself?”
>>
>>5865672
Rudolfo clears his throat awkwardly, suddenly taking a step back from the door as if in to assume defensive positions.

“Well, I mean, I didn’t…” he stammers.

Before he can say more, Muffins pushes past the both of you to invade your mother’s private domain. She raises her hands as if to ward herself, eyes wide and lips parting as if ready to scream or shout an incantation… But the three-headed ‘natural chimera’ simply rumbles and bleats in curiosity, while the snake scents the air. Muffins approaches unafraid and, sensing intuitively the strange animal’s intent, your mother lowers her hand for him to sniff, and nibble at her sleep-clothes long and flowing sleeves, until eventually he grows bored and wanders over to flop down upon a bloom of natural, mossy bedding, as if he owns the space.

“…He’s with you, then?” your mother asks, smile now a quizzicial smirk, and once more genuine.

“My, uh, familiar,” you proffer.

“Yes, I’d heard you left for Hawksong,” Mylaerlea acknowledges, “which explains how you met your father.”

An awkward pause linegrs.

“Well, come in,” she offers. “We can grow you some more beds while we talk, and I can get you two some food.”

“Three,” you correct, nodding to your quadrupedal companion.

“I don’t know that I have food for a carnivore about,” your mother worries aloud.

“And it’s four, anyway,” your father remind you. “Laskar, come in!”

There is no response. You and your father both peak outside, and find Laskar Endingray… Gone. Just GONE.

“There’s giving us privacy and then there’s abandoning his post,” you grumble.

“Well, he’ll be back,” your father says with a shrug.

“I guess we must have more to talk about than I thought,” you mother says with a smile. “I know you, Rudolfo. Coming here with a war-beast, a mage, and a hireling. This isn’t a social call is it? It’s an adventure.”

What will you discuss with your mother?
>Your purpose here in Dappulyet—the song and dance of adaptation and transformation, and what she knows of it
>Your time in Hawksong, and all you have learned and achieved—you would have her know the great things you’ve done
>Yours and you father’s transformations—the positives, the negatives, the complications, the possible solutions
>The state of elven politics at present—their closing-off and distancing themselves from humanity, and the hostility of the fungal borderguards
>What your mother and her clan have been up to these past two decades, and domestic affairs in the Sylvan Realms
>Your mother’s rejection, and your people’s, and the sense of estrangement and grievance you have long nursed
>Nothing—eat and drink in silence, then rest, and let your parents discuss what they will
>Write-in
>>
>>5865675
>Your time in Hawksong, and all you have learned and achieved—you would have her know the great things you’ve done
>>
>>5865675
>Your time in Hawksong, and all you have learned and achieved—you would have her know the great things you’ve done

>What your mother and her clan have been up to these past two decades, and domestic affairs in the Sylvan Realms
>Your mother’s rejection, and your people’s, and the sense of estrangement and grievance you have long nursed
>>
>>5865675
>Your time in Hawksong, and all you have learned and achieved—you would have her know the great things you’ve done


>The state of elven politics at present—their closing-off and distancing themselves from humanity, and the hostility of the fungal borderguards.

I wonder how the boarder guards knew about theral. Did they use divination?
>>
>>5865675
>Your purpose here in Dappulyet—the song and dance of adaptation and transformation, and what she knows of it
>>
>>5865675
>Your time in Hawksong, and all you have learned and achieved—you would have her know the great things you’ve done
>>
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>>5865885
>>5865869
>>5865815
>>5865731
>>5865722
[Alright, writing!]
>>
>>5866483
You’re sort of surprised at how casual your mother really is about all this—your return, even that of your father. It throws you off, distracting you from your mission. While your father makes the (admittedly somewhat-boorish) presumption of seating himself and watching while she works, you move to your mother’s side and begin helping gather and prepare fruits and vegetables from the walls.

As you gather ingredients, you can't help but marvel at the vibrant colors and aromas that fill the room. The walls are adorned with an array of magical herbs, fruits, and vegetables, some of which are found only in the lushness of the Sylvan Realms. You carefully pluck a handful of luminous moonberries, their soft glow illuminating your hands. Next, you select a cluster of ethereal starfruit, their celestial essence radiating a subtle, magical zest. With a gentle touch, you collect petals from the enchantress's rose, a flower known to imbue dishes with a particularly lingering form of the subtle taste associated with rosewater. All these you shop and slice, and set upon a bed of leafy elf-lettuce. Lastly, you gather some arcane peppermint leaves, which hold a revitalizing and invigorating quality.

As you bring your collection of fruits and vegetables to the wooden water-basin, your mother retrieves a delicate crystal bowl from a shelf and gestures for you to place your findings inside. She skillfully washes and slices each ingredient, arranging them carefully in the bowl, creating a tapestry of colors and shapes that is almost too beautiful to eat. At the last, she speaks mystic words which you half-recognzie: a touch of magic, weaving a spell of harmony and balance into the salad, enhancing both its flavors and nutritional properties.

With a final flourish, your mother places the enchanted salad on the table, the aroma wafting through the air, enticing even Muffins to lift his goat-head in curiosity. You both take a step back, admiring your creation, before settling down upon the ring of stones and buoyant bushes which serve as seats, each armed with a bowl and a thin, two-pronged salad-fork.

“Could use bacon bits,” Ruldofo van Houtzmann notes, with a wink.

You cringe.

“There never was a woman who could better toss a salad than you, though, Mimi!”

You enter an entire new Elemental Plane of Cringe, heretofore thought unattainable by mortal beings. As you do so, though, your mother tilts her head and smiles indulgently… No, not indulgently. You sense it, impossibly: the subtle tells which reveal genuine mirth. By the gods, she’s INTO this!

“You always knew how to… Enjoy a meal, as well, as I recall,” she notes fondly.

“Some things HAVEN’T changed,” your father replies smoothly.

Desperate to eat before you lose your appetite altogether, you take your first bite.
>>
>>5866511
The flavors burst on your tongue, an exquisite blend of sweetness and tanginess, accompanied by a subtle tingle that dances across your palate. While you savor the delectable salad, you do your damnedest to steer the conversation away from… Whatever is going on with the man and elfmaid sitting in the circle with you.

“Well, a lot HAS changed,” you interject, between mouthfuls. “I’ve grown a lot since leaving… Leaving Dappulyet and leaving Iternagreyn.”

“I can tell,” your mother notes.

She casts her eyes downward as she speaks, at your torso, and especially your stomach. With a start, you realize what she’s implying.

“Are you… Calling me fat?” you ask, incredulous.

You are, of course, the thinnest and slimmest of all your friends. If you are a bit thicker and stockier than a full-blooded ELF, it is only because the race is notoriously slighter than that of Man. Even the most powerful and muscular elven warrior is ectomorphic, lithe and springy and built for agility in comparison to human men who can build muscle upon muscle—even when the elf is nearly as strong. That’s an unfair comparison!

“Of course not,” Mylaerlea Mious replies demurely, and with a genuine smile full of maternal fondness. “I’m glad to see my son so well-fed and healthy, in spite of… Whatever else is going on with your aura, and your body.”

“’Whatever else is going on’ with me is the result of the revolutionary research I and my colleagues at Hawksong’s Mages Tower have been doing into the Elemental planes,” you reply curtly, chomping down on a fruit and leaf with a savage crunch. “Coupled with ancient magicks imparted to me by an elder True Fey outside the city.”

“Oh?” asks your mother.

“He made me his disciple,” you continue. “A Disciple of the True Fey.”

“I’m glad you haven’t forgotten your roots,” your mother replies, delicately nibbling her own salad.

‘In spite of being thrown out like a vagabond,’ you think.

“I haven’t,” you reply aloud. “I’ve actually dedicated myself to uncovering many a mystery and to preserving and using secret knowledge for the good of all.”

“Miannie would be proud,” your mother says with a bow of her head.

“I don’t know about that,” you sniff, “but I did help cure a plague. The dragon-pox—maybe you’ve heard of it? I was tasked with resolving that by the Tower and the Crown.”

“That’s amazing,” replies your mother, though she sounds infuriatingly calm—far from surprise or astonishment.
>>
>>5866513
“I was sort of a shoe-in for the role,” you press on, made uncharacteristically braggadocious by your mother’s muted responses, “being the PERSONAL Mage Apprentice of Archmage Theresa Henzler.”

“My, I don’t think she takes one many of those, does she?” muses your mother, taping her chin and looking up as if in thought or memory.

“None in my lifetime,” you reply proudly, in spite of your own mixed feelings about the elder Henzler, for you KNOW you earned that spot. “She’s preparing me to be Head Chimericist some day.”

“…Oh?” asks your mother, brown creasing ever so slightly.

“The Queen of Hawksong herself commended me, and even acquiesced to me request to set aside a SIZEABLE portion of land as a reserve for the local fairy-folk,” you continue, emboldened by the trace of a reaction. “That’s the sort of station I hold these days.”

“…You must be proud,” your mother replies, after a moment.

“What,” you demand, unable to contain yourself, “you’re NOT?”

Your mother regards you for a moment, expression largely neutral but subtly troubled. Her gaze flits briefly to Muffins, as if contemplating his origins and nature anew.

“Ezreal, I’m—"

Your father burps, seizing both your attention and your mother’s attention in an instant. He grins sheepishly, setting down his empty bowl.

“Surprisingly filling,” he comments. “I mean, bacon bits would have… Or maybe nuts, if you…”

He clears his throat, as you both continue to stare.

“I’ll go… Fetch us some spring-water,” Rudolfo offers, standing up and escaping the awkwardness, muttering something quiet about the wisdom of Laskar Endingray.
>>
>>5866514
“I only want you to be careful about the company you’re keeping,” your mother says after a moment, composed once more. “The path they’re leading you down, their purposes… I just don’t want anyone taking advantage of you.”

“I’m not a child,” you reply briskly.

“You’re only thirty-five years old,” your mother sighs.

“I’m a Van Houtzmann,” you snap back. “We age faster than your lot.”

“…Than ‘my lot’,” she whispers. “And you’re… Using his name now? I’m glad you reconnected, but… Well, nevermind. I suppose I have no room to talk, with how I carried on when I was almost twice your age. I mean, you've met your father now. You know what I must have been like, back when we were... Intimate.”

You stare at her for a moment, reply fomenting.
>No, she HAS no room to talk, and you’d prefer she kindly keep her opinions to herself
>You spoke in anger, and you’ll walk it back if you can—you’re a Van Houtzmann, but you’re also a Mious, and she IS still your mother
>Write-in

Do you follow up on the conversation at all?
>What’s her problem is with Chimercism?
>What has she heard about the Archmage and the Queen,a nd her pinions on recent political and racial turmoil?
>What does she know about ‘the Dragon King’?
>What does she know about the ritual which you were taught, and its origins?
>What does she know about the fungal guards, and how they might be keeping watch on you?
>What does she know about fey who serve darkness?
>How does she feel about your father’s return—or Rudolfo Van Houtzmann in general?
>Write-in
>No—you have nothing more to speak about tonight
[Please choose no more than three]
>>
>>5866515
>You spoke in anger, and you’ll walk it back if you can—you’re a Van Houtzmann, but you’re also a Mious, and she IS still your mother

>What’s her problem is with Chimercism?
>What has she heard about the Archmage and the Queen,a nd her pinions on recent political and racial turmoil?
>What does she know about the fungal guards, and how they might be keeping watch on you?

that three limit hurts
>>
>>5866515
>You spoke in anger, and you’ll walk it back if you can—you’re a Van Houtzmann, but you’re also a Mious, and she IS still your mother

>What has she heard about the Archmage and the Queen,a nd her pinions on recent political and racial turmoil?
>What does she know about ‘the Dragon King’?
>What does she know about the fungal guards, and how they might be keeping watch on you?
>>
>>5866515
*What has she heard about the Archmage and the Queen, and what are her pinions on recent political and racial turmoil?
>>
>>5866515
>You spoke in anger, and you’ll walk it back if you can—you’re a Van Houtzmann, but you’re also a Mious, and she IS still your mother

>What does she know about ‘the Dragon King’?
>What does she know about the fungal guards, and how they might be keeping watch on you?
>What has she heard about the Archmage and the Queen,a nd her pinions on recent political and racial turmoil?

Fearsome pinions
>>
>>5866515
>You spoke in anger, and you’ll walk it back if you can—you’re a Van Houtzmann, but you’re also a Mious, and she IS still your mother

>What has she heard about the Archmage and the Queen,a nd her pinions on recent political and racial turmoil?
>What does she know about ‘the Dragon King’?
>What does she know about the ritual which you were taught, and its origins?
>>
>>5866515
>>You spoke in anger, and you’ll walk it back if you can—you’re a Van Houtzmann, but you’re also a Mious, and she IS still your mother

>Why isn't she proud of us
>What does she know about the ritual which you were taught, and its origins?
>What does she know about the Pact
>>
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>>5866726
>>5866717
>>5866615
>>5866554
>>5866523
[Locked and writing!]
>>
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>>5866942
“I… Misspoke,” you mumble, grudge and guilt intermingling in your mind as you avert your eyes. “I’m a Van Houtzmann, yes, but also a Mious. Man, and Elf as well.”

Mylaerlea Mious may be a complicated subject for you, a sore spot capable of inflaming your much-tamed tendencies towards spiteful insecurity. You recognize that. Youa re no longer some snot-nosed kid, though. You’re a grown man—well, almost entirely grown—and you are master of your emotions. And, well… She IS your Mom. On some level, you know you still love her, and your frustration comes from the uncertainty that SHE loves you… Is PROUD of you.

“You’re angry with me,” she infers.

You stare at her in silence for a moment, unsure how to reply to that without another rude outburst. You settle for avoidance.

“You seem to have some negative feelings of your own, in regards to my master and her sovereign.”

Your mother is a little surprised by this rejoinder, taking a moment to muster herself with a small sigh and a nod.

“It isn’t that I’m not proud of what you’ve… Accomplished,” she says, with a noticeable delay as she chose the last word. “You’ve obviously grown into a very bright young Elfman. It’s only… Knowledge can be good, or bad, depending how it’s used, and whether morals are taught alongside the practical lessons. Is that not what they teach in Iternagreyn’s Great Tree?”

“It is,” you confirm.

“But not in Hawksong’s Tower, right?” your mother asks, gentle but incisive, with a knowing smile.

You flinch.

“What exactly have you heard about Archmage Henzler?” you ask.

“What everyone has,” she replies. “She and the Queen are in league with the Dragon King of Bloodrise, creating monsters to serve the Dark Gods, and taking over Hawksong to turn it from the worship of the Gods Above.”

You stare, boggling at this. It feels bizarre to be defending a master whom you have been actively avoiding out of moral compunctions of your own, and yet…

“That’s… Inaccurate. Not the full story,” you say. “I don’t know much about Queen Ekaterine, honestly… I’ve only met her twice. I DO know Archmage Henzler is no friend to the lizardmen who made the plague. I’d never even HEARD of this ‘Dragon King’ until the mushroom-fairies guarding the border brought him up. Who is he? Is he… The Prince Consort, or someone else?”
>>
>>5866968
Your mother again looks surprised, though he features quickly smooth out into their usual calm with, yes, a hint of pride and a dash of worry.

“You know more than I thought,” she admits. “The so-called Prince Consort and the Dragon King are one and the same. An evil tyrant, a conquering CHIMERIC monster created to destroy all that is good and holy and to take over the world. He’s taken up court in the Bloodrise Mountains, to the west of Hawksong and the Paladin-Lands, with a nest of dragon-men, horrible hobgoblins, huge and terrible insects… And even Dark Elves.”

“…‘Dark Elves’?” you ask, more confused than ever.

“The ancestors called them the ‘Drow’,” your mother explains, concern deepening. “From an old word, meaning ‘ill wind’. Long ago, when the Gods made their pacts and the Sylvan Realms were established, they rejected the agreements. They believed that the world should be divided up by the right which comes from MIGHT… By force.”

You’ve never heard of these ‘drow’ or ‘dark elves’… But you HAD, admittedly, heard rumours of black-skinned elves spotted by woodsmen in the west. Mainly in tabloid-rags and penny-papers but even so… The synchronicity brings a shiver.

It seems in the Dragon King, they found a ‘worthy’ lord,” your mother says, with surprising bitterness in her voice.

“So this Dragon King is amassing an army of evil monsters to take over the whole world?” you ask “And you think the Queen of Hawksong is in on it?”

“I don’t know much about it, honestly,” your mother says then, forcing a smile. “But… That is what they say.”

You reflect on the pretty young woman you met in Hawksong’s throne room, younger than you or even Izirina or your other human friends, and seemingly very overwhelmed by the plague sweeping her city and the political turmoil surrounding it.

“I don’t think so,” you say, “and anyway, why would she allow me to do what I’ve BEEN doing, then? Why would she encourage it? I’ve been curing a lizard-made plague!"

“By sharing our magic with her city, her Archmage,” your mother points out. “I don’t doubt your intentions, and I’m not saying you’re wrong to do so, Ezreal… I’m only saying that you should be careful.”

"I haven't really explained how any of it works, not even to the Archmage," you argue, not mentioning Costella or, perhaps more importantly, Izzy. "As for the Archmage... She's not a friend of the lizardmen. She talks about the Dragon King or whoever he is with total contempt.”

"Maybe to lull you into a false sense of security," your mother suggests.
>>
>>5866972
“You sound just like those fungus-fairies,” you note sourly. “What’s their deal, anyway?”

“Their ‘deal’?” your mothers replies, a little amused at your choice of words. “They are from the Deepwoods… Servants of the Kuttralasmeiads, the servants of Kuttralas the Mycorrhizal, God of Interwoven Roots. Do you rememebr him?”

You do, but only from a few lessons in Iternagreyn. You left when you were young, and the teachings of the Deepwoods’ mystery-cults was hardly a focus. Even among adult elves, you know speaking too openly of the Deepwoods and their rites is frowned upon. They’re GOOD, of course, and HOLY, and certainly not SINISTER, but those elves who pledge themselves to the monastic isolation and secret teachings in the deep, shadowy heart of the Deepwoods… They’re still SPOOKY. So, too, their principal patron: Kuttralas, Gods of Fungus and Fertilization. He’s not the God of Death—there is only ONE of those—but he is uncomfortably close in some regards. That his servants are watching you makes you feel suddenly and profoundly exposed, like a rabbit out in the open hearing the cry of a falcon.

“And they’re… Roaming about in the regular woods now?” you ask, resisting the urge to look over your shoulder. “Watching us, even now?”

“Watching OVER us,” your mother corrects.

“But how?” you press. “Divination? Some other means?”

“The sages of the Deepwoods can sense all the forest,” your mother explains, “through the web of interwoven roots, of plants and their fungus friends, which connect ALL the Sylvan Realms… And beyond. How exactly they do this is a secret of the Kuttralasmeiads, but the True Fey of that court can see, hear, and travel along that network.”

(Yep. Definitely spooky.)
>>
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>>5866982
“The Deepwoods sages, the High Priests of Sun and Moon, and the Council of Elders in Iternagreyn as well, they are all in agreement: there’s a great, terrible danger coming, Ezreal. Coming from the humans in the west, and the south.”

She places a hand upon yours, an unexpected act of tenderness that you nearly pull away from in surprise. Instead, your focus broken, her fingers pass through your flesh. Your mother’s eyes widen at that, and it’s SHE who flinches away, looking at you in shock and horror.

“It’s fine,” you mutter, willing yourself to corporeality again. “It’s just… A side-effect.”

“Oh Ezreal,” she says, bringing her hand to her mouth to hide her gasp. “What have you… What has that place DONE to you?”

“Mother, I’m—”

“I’m back!”

You both look over to find your father, lugging a great, hardened and dyed gourd full of water atop his aged—but magically-strengthened—shoulders.

“RUUUDOLFO returns, bearing the more splendiferous and delicious waters of this most noble land!” he boasts, setting it down with an audible grunt of exertion and quickly wiping away his sweat. “Do you, ah, have mugs, or glasses maybe, or… Little tiny gourds, I guess?”

Your mother laughs a little, and rolls her eyes, rising to go get some cups. You can’t help but feel she welcomes the excuse not to dwell further on what you have learned, and done, and become. Suddenly quite tired, you cannot bring yourself to bring it up again. After quenching your thirst, you, your father, and Muffins retire. You recline upon the surprisingly-comfortable bush-grown begging, in the perfectly-temperate abode without need for blankets. Your mother, with a final backward glance and a whispered prayer of restful sleep, vanishes back behind her curtain of willow-branches, into her own bed.

Muffins shoves his way onto the bed beside you, and you wrap an arm around his torso, scratching his neck between his two mammalian heads as the serpent-tail wraps around your leg, and together—in spite of your father’s snoring, which you are now well-accustomed to—you sleep.
>>
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>>5866985

In the morning, you rouse to the soft and melodious whistling of wind-no, of breath through an elven woodwind instrument. Laskar Endingray has returned and, by the sounds of it, is just outside the abode, awaiting you. You rouse your father and, with only a half-hearted growl of defiance from the lion-head—shove Muffins off of you. The goat-head bleats in alarm as he tumbles off the bed, but then he complains no more save for the seething hiss of the snake.

You glance back at where your mother—presumably—still sleeps.

Where is your next destination? What is your objective there?
>The local temple to Miannie, Princess of the New Moon, to seek communion with the Fairy Court of Dappulyet and its patron deity
>Wander amongst the people, taking in the local elven culture and reconnecting to your roots, and maybe picking up some information from the rumour mill
>Stay here with your mother for a time—she is a mage herself, and obviously knows a lot of practical Life Magic which you don’t… Maye she could teach you?
>Go somewhere else [Iternagreyn? The Deepwoods? The Holy-most temples?]
>Write-in

Whatever the case may be… Will you be inviting your mother?
>Yes
[Mylarelea Mious joins the party, you grow closer with your mom; she will be privy to that which you learn, and the nature of your researches]
>No
[She does not join the party, and you remain distant, but keep your secrets]
>>
>>5866988
>>The local temple to Miannie, Princess of the New Moon, to seek communion with the Fairy Court of Dappulyet and its patron deity
>Yes
>>
https://i.4cdn.org/tg/1702398744002135.pdf
>>
>>5867005
[Anon, why are you sharing this think-piece on dark elves with us here?]
>>
>>5866988
>Moon temple
>bring mom
>>
>>5866511
>You’re sort of surprised at how casual your mother really is about all this—your return,
if my kid left for a semestre to study abroad I wouldn't react much either...

>>5867013
I was browsing at tg and that was about elves and this has elves so why not. Nyway I am catchign up
>>
>>5866988
>>Iternagreyn
>>Yes take mother
This is when we betray humanity just to be able to fight the dragon king
>>
>>5866999
>+1
>>
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>>5866999
>>5867024
>>5867047
>>5867216
“Mother,” you call out, “are you awake?”

The willow-branches part, as she peaks out.

“With the sun,” she says.

You smile a little, and beckon to her.

“We’re going to the temple. Are you coming?”

She smiles back and, after only a moment to quickly dash about and change from her tighter, tunic-like sleep-clothes into a flowy traveling-dress and to take up her staff, she joins you. You introduce her to Laskar Endingray, the two bowing their head slightly and sweeping their arms in traditional greeting. She then falls in next to your father fall into an easy (if mostly on-sided, on his part) conversation, while you, Muffins, and Endingray take up the lead.

“What is it you hope to discover in the temple?” Endingray asks, not overly intrusive but obviously—understandably—curious. “We came with weapons, but save the precarious encounter with the fairy guardians, I see no need for them.”

“Better to over-prepare than to under-prepare,” you say, a touch more grimly than you’d meant to as the memory of the Goblin Wastes and the Plane Shift return.

Endingray raises an eyebrow, but simply nods.

“The Mockingbird Marquis is worshiped in a structure of wood, like a great thicket or nest, constructed precisely from only materials which, woven together, dampen outside sound. We set dishes there, upon the walls, to reflect and refine the songs we sing there, and the playing of our instruments please please our patron,” he comments as you approach the stone altar at the centre of the open-air temple. “Your patron is rather different in how she does things, I see. Your temple is open to the air?”

“The whole glen is like a temple, really,” you supply, reflecting back on the few religious festivals which you can remember form your early childhood. “The ceiling is the sky, and when there’s a new moon, especially at the right place… Well, the stones glow.”

“But why stones?” he asks. “I don’t understand the connection.”

“The moon isn’t all silver forests and great cities,” your mother answers him, overhearing your conversation. “The glow of it is emanated by shining, white stone and sand spread across vast beaches and seabeds, reflected through its waters. And up there…”

She points at the pinnacle of the tower of rock, higher than any of you can truly see.

“…Up there, there’s a single rock from the actual moon, blessed by the Princess of the New Moon herself in ancient days, in a basin which we fill with water as well, to signal our thanks and to catch and carry her light. It’s what sets the other stones aglow.”

“Oh!” you say, either never having been told this or—more likely—having forgotten it in intervening years. “A real moon-stone? That’s… Wow.”

(A relic like that, charged with lunar magic... It would be a TRULY phenomenal magical catalyst!)
>>
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>>5867309
Of course, you are all seeing it under light of day, with only the painted-on chalky residue to emulate the iridescence of this tale. Still, the explanation makes you really appreciate the scope of your faith. The moon is no other plane, but a part of the material one, but like the sun it and its fabled denizens are divine beings—members of the highest courts of the Bonum Chaoticum. THIS is the heritage to which you are heir.

“It’s an honour to care for it and to carry messages between this world and the Princess and her household, yes,” speaks up another voice.

You look to the source of the voice and find, descending briskly in small graceful hopes from the top of the stony tower, a young elfmaid… Or, well, at least not an old one. Your mother scarcely looks older than YOU, after all—it can get hard to tell. What IS remarkable about her is her long, fine, silver-white hair, which cascades down to her lower back and rear, and is almost matched by her fine white robes and pale, almost porcelain skin. Her ears, elongated and thin almost as antennae, rise high and curve into crescents above her head, nearly touching one another. Her feet, bare and dainty, grip the stone gently as she springs several dozen feet at a time, from one rock to the next, seemingly so untroubled by the effort that she can make this trip up and down with both hands full—one with a bush of wood and unknown animal-hair, and the other with a small cup full of white chalk paint. Upon her brow is tattooed a single symbol—a circular ring of black, with a black circle inside, divided only by a thin thread of white.

“You’re the priestess here, then?” you infer, feeling a little silly for even asking.

She smiles and bows. You hastily return the gesture, doffing your wizard’s hat. She looks from you, to your father, for quite a while and with some fascination at Muffins, and then last—questioningly-to your mother.

“My son has returned from his studies,” Mylaerlea Mious supplies, speaking the human tongue of your father for his benefit. “And this is my… His father.”

“Charmed,” your father replies, bowing far lower and with a more dramatic sweep of his plumed, floppy cap.

“Young Ezreal?” you priestess asks, fine and almost invisible eyebrows rising high up her forehead. “Why, look at how much you’ve grown!”

“We’ve met before?” you ask, astonished that you wouldn’t remember such a distinctive and—frankly—eerily beautiful elfmaid.

“When you were just a baby,” she confirms. “You don’t remember me, then? My name is Clanirae.”

“Ah… Ezreal,” you reply, unnecessarily. “Ezreal… Uh, Van Houtzmann.”

You get the feeling if she could evince more surprise than she already was, Priestess Clanirae would do so.
>>
>>5867317
“…And these are Laskar Endingray, and Muffins,” you complete the introduction, as the remaining elf steps forward and bows as well.

“We have many visitors this day, the Priestess remarks, “Including a disciple of the Bonum Legale, and a child of the Mockingbird clan, I hear?”

“Yes,” Endingray agrees.

“Well, I don’t know about ‘disciple’ so much as…”

Your mother taps your father’s toes with her own, a quick and subtle gesture.

“Yes,” your father agrees. “Quite churchgoing, wot. Often, even!”

“What brings so many… Honoured guests here?” asks Priestess Clanirae.

She asks your mother, but Mylaerlea looks to you expectantly. You return your hat to your head, clearing your throat and explaining your purpose:

“I am a Disciple of the True Fey, initiated into the ancient secrets of the Bonum Chaoticum by the Spirit of the Old Maple, upon the hill outside Hawksong. I came here seeking communion with the holy and noble ancestors of the clan… Including, if at all possible, with Miannie.”

It sounds presumptuous when you say it aloud, and yet you know it is your right to ask. The relationship between those of your clan and your patron is not like that between the humans, halflings, and dwarves and their gods—it is familial. Then again, you know it is no SMALL thing you ask, to see the head of a family as its most junior member, half-blooded and returned from foreign realms wearing strange garb. Still, if Priestess Clanirae is offended, she does not demonstrate it, simply sighing sadly and shaking her head, such that her waves of hair ripple halo-like around her.

“Well, I’m afraid that daytime is a bad time for that,” she begins, “and as you know, the next New Moon is fifteen days away. I could perhaps intercede on your behalf—you are a child of the Sun and of the Moon, and a subject of our most Holy High Mystery.”

Fifteen days? Well, you suppose that’s not SO bad, for the chance to speak to a proper, celestial goddess! And anyway—

“Though it might help if I knew what exactly it was you meant to speak to her about?”

—Ah. Well, that could get complicated.

“There is also the matter of the… Trouble we have been having, as of late.”

“Trouble?” you ask.

Your mother looks a little guilty as the priestess turns to her, shuffling her feet.

“I didn’t wish to impose, and I didn’t know how long they intended to stay,” she explains, as much to to and your party as to Priestess Clanirae. “If I’d mentioned… That…”

“‘That’?” you demand.

“Our temple’s holy light has recently attracted… Untoward spirits, of the Unseelie Court.”

“The UNSEELIE Court?” Endingray asks sharply, hand finding the bow which, just a short while earlier, he’d seemed to view as unnecessary. “HERE?”
>>
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>>5867326
“Oh, they come and go with the seasons,” Priestess Clanirae says dismissively, waving a hand in the air as if to shoo away the danger… But her frown is vexed as she adds. “More persistent lately, though. I suppose the guardians of the Deepwoods have been spread thin, lately, and the Hunter has had many new foes to face… And with the flight of so many fairy cousins from the dragon-occupied lands, taking refuge here, perhaps some Unseelie made their way in with them, bolstering their numbers and emboldening them.”

“I’m sorry, but WHO are these un-seel-ee fellows?” your father asks, evidently lost.

Even one such as you is at least familiar with the Unseelie conceptually, in passing. When you were young, first initiated into Feycraft, it was the Unseelie—the darker, more anarchic fairies—whom you feared to attract with overuse of <Faerie Fire> and other such spells. To call them a true Fairy Court is not really accurate; they are tricksters, troublemakers, nomads, willing to submit only grudgingly to the highest-most spiritual authorities of your kind and to nobody and nothing else except under duress. They aren’t always evil in the ways demons of the Hellish Realms are, nor servants of the Dark Gods, but they ARE trouble, to say the least. Dangerous, too—difficult to battle back without magic, and known to capture the unwitting as 'guests' (really, slaves or playthings), to curse mortals, or even to kill them.

“Bad fairies,” you supply simply.

Your father grins, overeager.

“Well, when you have an infestation of magic blighters troubling-up a temple, THAT sounds like a job for adventurers, ey wot?”

“Dad…” you warn.

Your mother sighs, pinching her forehead, and it becomes clear this is exactly why she didn’t mention the matter.

“Adventurers?” asks the priestess, looking to you.

>Yes, you’re adventurers! Here to help fight back these Unseelie Fey!
>No, you’re hear to learn and commune—not to get involved in any risky business
>Depends… What’s in it for you? [specify conditions, demands, or requests]
>Write-in
>>
>>5867330
>Yes, you’re adventurers! Here to help fight back these Unseelie Fey!
These bratty fairies need correction
>>
>>5867330
>>No, you’re hear to learn and commune—not to get involved in any risky business
Tips is a scholar. Perhaps one dragged into adventures, but not the sort to lean into it
>>
>>5867330
>Yes, you’re adventurers! Here to help fight back these Unseelie Fey
Realistically we need to be here in 2 weeks, we can get more mom lore and then decide if we want to parent trap them if we go on an adventure, mom may roll her eyes but this is a bonding experience and will get them in a nostalgic mood
>>
>>5867497
damn my ID changed im
>>5855233
>>
>>5867330
>Yes, you’re adventurers! Here to help fight back these Unseelie Fey!
you know what ? let's do it
>>
>>5867330
>No, you’re hear to learn and commune—not to get involved in any risky business
>>
>>5867330
>Yes, you’re adventurers! Here to help fight back these Unseelie Fey!
>>
>>5868001
>>5867680
>>5867497
>>5867416
>>5867465
>>5867825
You’re not quite as eager as your father is. You’re no adventurer, after all, no warrior—you’re a scholar! Perhaps one dragged into adventures, but not the sort to seek them out. But… Well, realistically you will be here at LEAST until month’s end and, in that time, you might as well do SOMETHING. If that means studying and better understanding the True Fey—including the Unseelie and the High Court of the Mon—that can only help you achieve your ultimate goal here: to understand the transformation you have undergone, the spiritual which facilitated it, and the truth of this ‘pact’ which is (apparently) threatens to undermine.

“We’ll do it,” you say.

Your father pumps his fist and launches into a rendition of a song about brave knights charging out to battle atop fearsome steeds. It doesn’t seem to be QUITE the situation at hand. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, he seems to your mother and the priestess—and several passing onlookers—captivated quite completely, if also rather confused. Laskara Endingray watches him thoughtfully for a moment, then thumbs his way through his bandolier of flutes and pipes, selects one in particular, and begins to play a suitable accompaniment.

“He really hasn’t changed,” your mother says after a moment, extricating herself and approaching you. “I had thought he must have, to be willing to have you in his life again…”

“He’s not an aimless wanderer anymore, fi that’s what you mean,” you say. “He’s settled down in Hawksong… Stayed there for years now. He’s helped me out before, as well.”

Mylaerlea Mious looks more thoughtful at that, turning back to Rudolfo Van Houtzmann… Then lets out a long sigh.

‘You’re certain about this?” she asks. “Adventuring is riskier than they make it sound in stories.”

“I’ve experienced the reality of it before,” you reply simply.

You mother searches your face as if trying to find your past and pains among your features. Eventually, she smiles.

“Your father’s son, then,” she replies, “and mine. Alright, Ezreal. I’m with you.”

Unfortunately, any action against the Unseelie will have to wait for nightfall. That is when the moon-stone is aglow, when the Unseelie come to besiege and assail the small tower of stones to snatch it up, and also when the Priestess will be awake again.

“She sleeps during the day?” you ask.

“She guards the temple-rock at night,” your mother notes. “She must sleep sometime, mustn’t she?”
>>
>>5868060
Still, between this and Priestess Clanirae’s appearance, you begin to wonder at her nature. She seems less like the Sylvan elf-folk with whom you are familiar than like… Well, like yourself, someone straddling the line of the mortal fey and their True Fey cousins. In this subject though, your mother is mum.

“She is the Priestess of the Princess,” she only replies. “She’s been serving that role since I was a girl. Perhaps, like you, she found a way to… Change herself, somehow.”

You force yourself to rest, even if you cannot quite manage sleep. Eventually, dusk comes, and you return to the sacred installation at the heart of Dappulyet, and there find the priestess, yawning ad stretching as if she has just woken up.

“When?” you ask.

“Soon,” she answers.

You all stand on guard, forming a spread-out permitter—well save for Muffins, who does not spread out but hews close to you—as Priestess Clanirae takes up a melodic hymn to the moon. With gliding steps, she ascends the tower, toes barely touching the stone as she effortlessly leaps I defiance of gravity from one precipice to the next, up to the topmost point of the tower.

“Wait, I recognize this magic… Protection? A ward?”

“A barrier against intrusion, and a blessing of protection for this temple and for all the people in Dappulyet and, eventually, all the Sylvan Realms,” your mother replies.

“Well she has quite the voice,” your father notes, stroking his beard and casting a wandering eye upwards. “I wouldn’t mind harmonizing a little, when this is done…”

Your mother scoffs quietly, muttering: “Yes, same old Rudie.”
>>
>>5868062
As Clanirae’s song continues, the hymn becomes louder and louder—not a scream or shout, but simply increasing in scope and clarity as if coming from everywhere all at once. The other elves of Dappulyet seem to take this as a warning, hurriedly returning to their homes and, with wards and defences of their own and quiet hums and soft songs of their own, protecting their abodes. In casting so conspicuous a spell, Clanirae is not just producing a powerful ward, she is advertising her channeling of the holy light of your people’s faith—that she holds the moon-stone and is wielding its energies.

It is a challenge, which (you are told) the Unseelie Fey will not refuse.

Laskar Endingray’s fingers move from the bow on his back to the flites on his chest. He looks to you questioningly, awaiting your orders-this is YOUR mission, after all. He is a hireling, and your mother and father are here in support of YOU.

Assign Laskar Endingray a role:
>Bardic support with flute
>Ranged defence with bow and arrow

Assign Ruldolfo Van Houtzmann a role:
>Bardic support with lute
>Melee offence with sword
>Melee defence with sword (select another character or object to focus on defending)

Assign Mylaerlea Mious a role:
>Healing and support
>Cast offensively
>Cast defensively (select another character or object to focus on defending)

Assign Muffins a role:
>Kill them
>Protect you

Decide on your own approach:
>Focus on wandwork—just blast them away with <Magic Missile> as they appear!
>Bolster your forces with <Summon Elemental> (specify what types of elemental you plan to summon, and how many)
>Support with <Elemental Infusion> (specify who you’re infusing and with what element)
>Assume <Free Movement> form and kite them into traps
>Focus on healing and support with <Cure Wounds> and <Monstrous Regeneration>
>Attempt to weaken the Unseelie with <Daylight> when they draw near—after all, they mostly come at night, right?
>Write-in

Do you have any grand strategy?
>Defend the rock so defiantly they won't dare try again
>Capture an Unseelie to interrogate
>Destroy them all to the last!
>Write-in
>>
>>5868064
Assign Laskar Endingray a role:
>Ranged defence with bow and arrow

Assign Ruldolfo Van Houtzmann a role:
>Melee defence with sword (us.)

Assign Mylaerlea Mious a role:
>Cast offensively

Assign Muffins a role:
>Kill them

Decide on your own approach:
>Support with <Elemental Infusion> (Muffins with magma)

>Defend the rock so defiantly they won't dare try again
or
>Capture an Unseelie to interrogate

fine with either.
>>
>>5868064
Laskar
>Ranged defence with bow and arrow

Dad
>Melee defence with sword (we)

Mom
>Cast offensively

Muffins
>Kill them

We
>Support with <Elemental Infusion> (Muffins with magma)

>Capture an Unseelie to interrogate
>>
>>5868064
In order
>Bardic support with flute
>Melee offence with sword
>Cast defensively (select another character or object to focus on defending) Dad
>KILL
>Focus on wandwork—just blast them away with <Magic Missile> as they appear!
>Defend the rock so defiantly they won't dare try again
>>
>>5868114
>>5868124
>>5868127
As the hymn reaches its crescendo, the air crackles with anticipation. You nod towards Endingray, signaling for him to ready his bow. Magic music is nothing to scoff at, especially from an elf, but your plan is not to set up a passive barrier: it is to invite the Unseelie in, to dash them upon your assembled might such that they are loathe to return, an (ideally) to capture one of them alive, that you might understand why this is happening and put a more permanent end to it. You have no desire to stand sentinel here every night for two weeks, after all.

With a determined look in his eye, the elven bard notches an arrow and takes aim, waiting for the Unseelie to reveal themselves. Your mother steps forward, her hands glowing with magical energy; beneath the rising chant of her people’s divine representative on Earth, she begins to chant an incantation of her own—Ancient Elven words, like those you sign during your own use of Feycraft arcana, meant to draw upon the energies woven into this sacred place, and to call upon aid of Sun and—most importantly this night—of Moon.

Your father, grips his sword tightly, taking up a defensive stance midway between the towering sacred stones and yourself. His eyes scan the surroundings, ready to strike at any moment. You can see the excitement in his face, the thrill of battle coursing through his veins, but his divided focus is also evident—he has seen you fight, or FAIL to do so, in the past. He knows you do poorly with visceral matters of viscera outside of the lab. Your empathetic and tender nature is decidedly NOT that of a veteran adventurer like the old human…

But a half-elf’s got to do what a half-elf’s got to do.


"Let's make them work for it," you say.

"Here here!" your father concurs.

You move your hands to south and to west, to east and to north, tracing symbols in the air with your wand and arresting and rediverting the flow of this realm’s magic to draw in those of two others. It takes some effort of will to pull down (or up?) the energies of the Elemental Plane of Earth, btu that of fire… Well, that feels just as much like coming home as it did to return to Dappulyet, oddly enough.

“<Elemental Infusion>!” you cry out.

Muffins senses the tension in the air, growling softly as his body starts to emit a subtle glow. You take a deep breath and channel the magic of those alien realms into him, infusing his form with the elemental energy of earth and fire. All six of his eyes begin to glow, not unlike IZirian henzler’s, as skin and scales crack apart and—alarmingly—seem to bleed for a moment. The ‘blood’ is glowing, though, and radiates heat with the light: magma, welling up from within. At the same time, his mane catches aflame, his ram-horns heat to red hotness, and his claws seem to melt and warp as he swells and shifts. You transform the natural chimera into something SUPERnatural, and his roars echoing through the glen.
>>
Rolled 12, 8, 4, 1, 8, 3, 3, 19, 1, 2, 5, 6 = 72 (12d20)

>>5868228
The roar seems to break the spell, as the priestess’ chanting ends almost simultaneously. The silence that follows is not a natural lull in noise. There are no chirping crickets or cicadas, no ribitting frogs, no fluttering or chirping birds. The squirrels and wood-mice hunker down, still and silent, sensing the approach of—if not evil—at least malice. Then, with a sudden rush of movement, the Unseelie Fey emerge from the shadows.

They appear as strangely savage figures, resembling at first blue-skinned men or elves in shaggy grey coats… But as you peer through the gloom they cast, you realize this ‘garb’ is not that of any attire, but rather a part of them. Stretched across hairless faces, between long ears, you see features like those of cats or weasels. Their grey-bristle ‘coats’ start at their heads and trail down their backs, ending just before stalk-thin feet, as it does on their arms before it reaches their twig-thin fingers. The rest of them is bare, save a strip upon their groin from strangely bulbous, rounded ‘tails’, and hanging fronds of fur which hang like a loose scarf from their shoulders and necks, but seems rather to be outgrowths of the hair upon their heads, splaying out like pine-branches with whisker-like protrusions. Their eyes gleam darkly. Their teeth are sharp and predatory.

“We’re here for what we’re owed, Miannites!” one wails.

“When you left the light of the Queen Rianniane, you forsook any claim to the moon’s treasures!” Priestess Clanirae calls down from atop the tower. “You do not belong in this place, not as you are. Submit or leave!”

“We are children of the moon as well!” snarls an Unseelie. “SHE turned her back on us!”

“Can’t imagine why,” you mutter.

You regard these twisted creatures—more wrong the longer you look at them. Many are lopsided, deformed in subtle fashion. Some seem more quadrupedal. Their eyes are mismatched, the number of fingers on each hand incongruous to the other or to the extremities of their fellow-folk. One could be forgiven for thinking them demons but, no—to your second-sight, they register as much the same as any other member of the Bonum Chaoticum you have met… If anything, slightly diminished, vulgar and debased without even the fearsome taint of demonic energies to reinvigorate their glory with dark menace.

It's a shame they seem rather numerous.

“We aren’t leaving without that stone,” the first one to speak reaffirms.

“Then come and take it,” your mother speaks up, eyes narrowed, with a steel in her voice you haven’t heard before.

[1d20 for Endingray (DC 14/17); 2d20 for your father (DC 13/16); 3d20 for your mother (DC 15); 3d20 for Muffins (DC 13), no need to roll for Tips yet since you're taking a more passive roll initially; 1d20 for the barrier (DC 12/15/18), 2d20 for your opposition's attack and evading of capture (DC REDACTED)]
>>
so only muffins had success, damn
>>
>>5868234
>REDACTED
Well at least the enemy rolled poorly as well. no way they hit their dc's with a five and a six.
>>
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>>5868234
>>5868240
>>5868229
The Unseelie charge, without battle cry save for a curious low drone. Their eyes—pitch black, you note—reflect the light cast by the faint lunar glow of the temple-tower behind you, and the reassure at its apex. There is no whites-of-their-eyes to see, therefore. Perhaps it is this, or combat inexperience, or simply the enemies’ raw speed, which causes Laskar Endingray to loose his arrow too late.

>12 vs 14 (to hold ground and defend) or 17 (to inflict serious damage) for Endingray; fialure

The elven bard’s shot flies wide. So does the next and the next as, set upon by fiendish fairies with ghoulish grins, he staggers back to maintain his distance. Sensing weakness, they press down upon the barrier which—unsupported by other bards or casters, proves too feeble so far from the divine patron’s sacred phase to hold back the dark tide of fur and fangs which swoops in.

“Protect Endingray!” you shout.

>8 & 4 vs 13/136 for Rudolfo; failure

Rather than move in to flank them, though—and how WOULD one flank such a mass, with at least two dozen of the dastards?—your father closes ranks with you and your mother, prioritizing your defence over the mission. It would be heartwarming if this inaction weren’t allowing the enemy to press their advantage.

“What are you DOING, Rudolfo?!”

(It seems not everyone in your party agrees with the ‘heartwarming’ part of your analysis, based on your mother’s shout…)

“I’m… Waiting for an opportunity!” he replies. “Gods, there’s a lot of them…”

“There aren’t going to be FEWER the longer you wait!” your mother retorts.

“Hey, hold on Mimi!”

Before your father (or you, for that matter) can intervene, your mother springs forwards to fill in for your father’s failure to protect her fellow elf. She raises her staff high, casting a radiant light to blast back the darkness…

>1, 8, and 3 vs. 15 for your mother; critical failure

…But they do not flinch away, but instead turn TOWARSD the light. Her body language changes, from being emboldened by outrage and fear for another to gripped stiffly by an icy fear for herself—or at least that’s how you feel as you see her freeze up, and then begin slowly to step back, only to be swallowed up by the grey-black waves of fur.

“Moonlight!” the Unseelie Fey cry in discordant cacophony. “MOONLIGHT!”

Beneath it, you hear her screams, and your heart is shred asunder. In that terrifying moment, you are sure you have reunited with your mother only to send her to her death.

“Muffins,” you squeak, “K-kill them!”
>>
>>5868244
>3, 19, 1 vs DC 13 for Muffins; success!

With another roar and a somehow even-more-unnerving goat-screech, your magma-infused quasi-familiar hurtles forth. Like a falling star, he crashes into the dark and furry horde, ram-head low. He hurls several forwards, igniting several more of their hairy bodies by his mere presence so that they must shrink back and pat themselves out. If they love moonlight, the red-orange glow of this monster you have created is decidedly NOT to their liking, not backed by such an inferno. They produce knives, cruel things of blackened, hardened wood,--but they cannot penetrate your chimera’s hide. One falls to a swipe of claws—not dead, but shrieking at the burning sensation of being thus raked, and stumbles away. Another is bitten, and is not so lucky. When several move to flank, to hurl themselves upon Muffins’ broad back, the flaming mane sets them ablaze all the faster so that they fall away, rolling this way and that—and that is only true for those who are not bitten by the snake-head, injected with a paralytic venom that precludes any such effort to stop, drop, and roll.

THOSE Unseelie fey merely lay there, twitching and burning, unable even to scream.

In the chaos and spectacle, none of these Unseelie have yet had the opportunity to ascend the tower of stones to claim their prize. Instead, their attention is divided, upon your small force—primarily your chimera and your mother. The former is a formidable defence against the, it seems, giving them pause to reconsider their reckless charge, but the latter—Mylaerlea Mious—has fallen, her staff ceasing to glow. You can hear her whimper, and so you know she yet lives, but you cannot tell how serious the assault upon her person was. Without the staff's glow, their interest turns to avoidance; they turn warily from the threat of Muffins to the promise of the moonstone's shining light, now the only other one in the clearing.

“Mimi!” you hear your father bellow as he pushed towards them. “Hold on, I’m coming!”
>>
>>5868246
You shout to your father to:
>Hold back, defend the temple-tower
>Hurry and rescue your mother

>Barrier failed, 2
>Enemies failed to gain much ground or hold ranks, 5 & 6

So far, your strategy to defend the tower with great violence has sewed chaos in both sides, but the magical barrier is too weak to hold them back, and in their haphazard fashion, the Unseelie ARE closing in. They’re closer to their goal than you are to yours. The fallen Unseelie Fey, though, are potential captives… Hostages and subjects for interrogation, if you can <Stabilize> them with your wand and later use your other healing spells to bring them back to consciousness in a controlled setting.

For your part, you…
>Rush to rescue your mom (requires courage roll; specify if you have a tactic in mind)
>Launch into the fray yourself, aiming to take down as many enemies as you can (requires courage roll; specify if you have a tactic in mind)
>Fall back to protect the tower and moonstone
>Try to stabilize a fallen fey and take a prisoner
>Write-in

Do you have any specific instructions for Priestess Clanirae or for Laskar Endingray?
>Yes (specify)
>No

[Notes: you have 3 HP and 2 MP left. Only your mom has lost HP; you can't tell how badly she's wounded yet. Your enemies' numbers are unclear, but Muffins savaged or scattered a few, sending them fleeing or distracting them with flames; about twenty still remain in the fight, smaller and slimmer than even an elf but ALSO possessed of unknown abilities and the physical resilience of (lesser, debased) True Fey.]
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>>5868247
>Hurry and rescue your mother

>Fall back to protect the tower and moonstone
>Yes (specify)
pls help as best they can :(
dang these dark fairies can throw hands
>>
>>5868247
>>Hurry and rescue your mother

>Write-in
><Summon Elemental> (magma) to protect the tower and moonstone.

Seems like these fey fight with their claws and wooden weapons. Magma seems to be ideal to fight them off.

>Yes (Ask if Clanirae can to cast moonlight on top of our elemental in order to bait the unseelie to it. Tell Laskar to shoot to cover us and the priestess.)
>>
>>5868254
>+1
damn that 1 for mom really fucked us on top of both dad and laskar failing
>>
>>5868247
>Hold back, defend the temple-tower
>Rush to rescue your mom (requires courage roll; specify if you have a tactic in mind)
>>
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>>5868352
>>5868258
>>5868254
>>5868250
[Alright, final update of the night!]
>>
Rolled 8, 8, 10, 13, 17, 15, 8, 18, 3, 14, 15, 7, 4, 6 = 146 (14d20)

>>5868388
“Muffins can’t hold them off forever!” you shout to your father. “Get Mom out of there!”

Your father doesn’t reply, mainly because his earlier defensive action has been replaced with a rather desperate bout of action, lunging forward to slide underneath Muffins and to scoop your mother up off the ground in one fluid motion. He cradles her body to his but, if he is less physically feeble than his seventy-plus years world normally have left him, he is still ‘no spring chicken’ as he might say. It takes your father a moment to right himself, and during that time all the eerie, black eyes of the Unseelie are upon him.

He needs your help. They BOTH need your help. You WANT to help. But…

You fall back.

“We have to protect the temple,” you say aloud, as much to yourself as anyone else. “That’s the mission here!”

Laskar Endingray seems to have had the same idea—or at least the idea to avoid beings warmed in melee combat by this savage fairy-folk with only bows, arrows, and woodwind instruments for protection.

“What do we do?” he asks you.

In that moment, it seems a faintly absurd question. The elf must be several decades your senior—maybe older than your father, or even your MOTHER. You’re thirty-five, used to thinking of yourself as an adult who simply looks like a teenager, but in that moment you VERY much feel like an elf-child out of your depth.

But then, you’re not just ANY elf-child, are you? You’re the Mage Apprentice of the Archmage of Hawksong. You are the man who cured the dragon-pox and saved the city… Who traveled physically to the nexus of two elemental planes, absorbed their energy, and lived to talk about it. And here, now, you have an idea.

“Priestess!” you shout up to Clanirae, switching back to the humans’ common trade-tongue. “I have a plan, but it involves… Using the moonstone, SORT OF.”

“What?” she calls down, confused and startled. “We can’t! We have to keep it out of their—”

She pauses, registering the inflection and emphasis you placed upon ‘sort of’. You can’t shout the entire plan aloud, of course—the Unseelie Fey are listening, and even discussing it in your father-togue, there’s no guarantee none of them have tortured some of the words of the local human dialect out of some unfortunate nighttime traveler. You can only hope she understands.

The Unseelie Fey close in on your father as he stumbles to his feet, threatening them with the tip of his rapier and shouting threats and promises of death and dismemberment:

“Back! Back, you blackguards! You face RUDOLFO, the Adventurer! I'll slice off your skin and make an ugly rug of the lot of you!"

[3d20 for your bluff to trick them; 2d20 for Rudolfo, 3d20 for Muffins, 2d20 for Laskar Endingray since nobody is currently attacking him, 2d20 for your Elemental, 2d20 for the enemy]
>>
>>5868399
>enemy rolled a 4 and 6
they suck worse than us
we live another day!
>>
>>5868399
>>5868408
Your mother seems to be supporting herself, though clutching at her side where her flowing spring-dress is shredded. Blood blooms from between her fingers, but so does light as she focuses upon mending herself.

“Rudolfo…” she warns him.

“You cannot harm us with that pig-sticker,” one of the Unseelie cackles. “Not really!”

Still, he leaps back from your father’s next slash, tutting angrily. You understand why: assuming physical form like this, a True Fey can still not be KILLED by regular, unenchanted steel, but they can be HURT by it—suffer physical pain, temporary maiming, and grave inconvenience. As you yourself know, it takes considerable effort to manifest and maintain a physical form on the material plane, when it is not your ‘natural’ state. Still, this won’t be enough to hold them off forever, nor even will a magma-infused Muffins. THAT’s where your plan comes in.

“Hey, cousins!”

A fey of the Unseelie look your way.

“You want the moon-stone, don’t you?” you ask.

The dark fairies elbow, prod, and slap at each other, gesturing towards you and the tower of stone behind you.

“Well, let them go and it’s yours!”

This gets ALL their attention. The discordant chattering rings out again: “Moonlight! MOONLIGHT! Moonlight! MOONLIGHT!”

“Priestess, it’s over! Just… Give it to them.”

If the Unseelie Fey notice you don’t sound too broken up about this, they don’t have long to think about it—no as, with an underhanded throw, the Priestess of the New Moon throws down her sacred stone, powerful relic of your people and the means by which your can communes with their noble ancestor. Every Unseelie who can leaps and lunges forwards, many of them unfurling heretofore—unseen wings like great, furred moth wings or twisted owl’s wing, from their back. Each and every one scrambles to capture the object, while you begin to conjure a spell upon the same spot where the ‘moon-tone’ is destined to land.

“<Summon Elemental>,” you whisper, quietly as you can without weakening the words of power.
>>
>>5868409
Your plan was simple: emulate the light of the moon-stone with the lunar equivalent of your <Daylight> spell—one you were virtually CERTAIN that a literal priests of a moon goddess would know. Then, <summon> a magma elemental within that orb of light, so that the Unseelie which dove for it would be burned and battered badly for their efforts. Unfortunately, no plan survives contact with an enemy—especially not an enemy you were treating as light-starved madmen but who evidently have SOME greater self-awareness as once-noble children of the gods.

“Wait,” growls one of the Unseelie—one who you think your recognize as the first to speak earlier.

He slows to a stop, casting his gaze upwards—where the much BRIGHTER glow of the TRUE moon-stone can only be obscured so much, and which is STILL setting the whole tower of stones at the centre of the open-air temple-ground aglow.

>8, 8, 10: Failure to bluff

“That’s not the stone!” he cries. “Fools, stop!”

Several heed their leader (?), beating their wings or digging in their heels to stop just short of your trap. A few even launch themselves towards the tower instead, following the other Unseelie’s gaze and pointing finger. Endingray fires arrows after them…

>3 & 14: Failure for Endingray

…But to no avail, for he must also avoid pincushioning the priestess whom they are flying towards. It’s frustrating, but at the very least you have confused and distracted a number of them long enough to finish you spell. As Priestess Clanirae dissipates her <Moonlight> sphere to focus upon defending herself and her holy charge, your Magma Elemental takes its place. If the element of surprise is gone, it is STILL a formidable force to face—a second creature like Muffins, capable of immolating these Unseelie Fey and repelling or ignoring their primitive (albeit probably enchanted) weaponry.

>15, 7: Success your Elemental

Not all the Unseelie, even forewarned, can escape the balls of molten rock which are hurled at them. You cringe and avert your eyes from the grisly fate which befalls those that are thus caught and… Ended. True Fey might not be killed by mundane weapons or regular, earthly fire… But the heat and stone of the Elemental Planes are as magic as they are, and more than enough to end a few otherwise-endless lives.

“Bastards!” one of the Unseelie shrieks. “Thieves and tyrants and kin-slaying BASTARDS!”
>>
>>5868410
“Hey now! Who do you think you are, eye, taking your eyes off of RUDOLFO in the middle fo a clash of STEEL?"

>13 & 17: Success for Rudolfo

That’s your father, slicing a deep gouge across the back of the distracted fairy-foe. The Unseelie cries out clutching at the wound and twirling around, only to catch the next thrust through the eye-socket. It falls over, screaming and wailing, thrashing this way and that as it holds its face. Other fairies rush to the fallen one’s defence—or at least to attack your father for the slight—but they had misjudged Muffins’ speed and thirst for blood.

>15, 8, 18: Success for Muffins

The three-headed monster which you have elementally empowered charges the distance with the ferocity of a ram and the killing intent of a lion, bowling over three of the Unseelie and immediately pinning one to tear at him with burning, fiery fangs. You flash back to the Goblin Wastes and shudder, stomach turning at the death-cries and carnage.

>4 & 6 for the foes: Morale broken, objective not yet achieved

It’s more than the Unseelie can stomach as well, evidently. Many turn tail to run—or fly, or to lope a hasty retreat on all fours like they were apes. A few continue to swoop and dive near the top of the stone pillar, however, snatching enviously at that which our people’s priestess guards so jealously. The combination of having one hand full and being thus harried must make it all but impossible for her to cast—in fact, you’d wager it’s all Clanirae can do to maintain her balance.

What will you do?
>Tell her to throw the moon-stone down to you—for real this time—and you’ll catch it
>Use the last of your mana to assume <Free Movement> form and ascend to aid her directly
>Have your elemental lob a lump of lava at the flying Unseelie (and hope you don’t hit the priestess) while Laskar joins in
>Write-in

I hope you anons don't mind me indulging a bit in the fight-descriptions. it's been a while since we've had a battle!
>>
>>5868412
>Tell her to throw the moon-stone down to you—for real this time—and you’ll catch it
>>
>>5868412
>launch magic missiles at the flyers
Those autohit, right?
>>
>>5868506
+1
>>5868412
Indulge well OP, it’s quite good
>>
>>5868516
>autohit
[While I've borrowed the name, they are merely magical projectiles, not mechnically identical to the D&D version]
>>
>>5868618
Probably still more accurate than the golem
>>
>>5868516
+1
>>
>>5868412
As long as we're sure we can shoot safely and not hit the priestess, I can back plan magic missile.

If not, try casting Calm on the unseelie?
>>
>>5868412
>>>Use the last of your mana to assume <Free Movement> form and ascend to aid her directly
I want to take a good look at the stone, y'know? I have a feeling it won't be that easy later.
>>
Rolled 4, 1 = 5 (2d20)

>>5868754
>>5868715
>>5868660
>>5868522
>>5868516
>>5868506
You debate the situation internally. Briefly, you consider having your <summon> sort out the situation with a sizzling salvo of semi-molten minerals… But then you steal a quick glance at one of the unfortunate Unseelie who came face-to-face with such a fate. You imagine what will happen if the mindless, soulless mystical construct misses its mark and instead hits Clanirae. Yous wallow back some vomit and, instead, draw your wand.

Now, it’s true that you’re no adept at the arts of war. You’re not an athlete or a warrior like your father or Zith-Zi, no battle-mage or duelist like Efron or Pearce. Damnit all, you’re a SCHOLAR, a man of letters and books and theories! A HEALER, a SEEKER, but not a KILLER. You don’t even actually KNOW any projectile spells. But what you DO have is a wand pre-charged with <Magic Missile>—a notoriously simple and straight-forward spell, with a guidance charm for added accuracy—and the mana to manifest it.

“Now or never, Tips,” you mutter to yourself

You steel your courage and point the tip of your sapphire-blue spellcasting focus towards the swooping moth-owl-monsters, praying you won't hit the priestess. At least if you do, you won't do as much damage as a ball of lava would... Right?

You cast the spell.

[1d20, as you have no training or experience in ranged combat;bonus die for having several ranks in Arcana. -1 difficulty due to your wand's enchantment; +1 DC due to the chaotic nature of the melee you're firing into. End result: 2d20, DC 15]
>>
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Rolled 10, 9, 5, 12 = 36 (4d20)

>>5869052
You’re startled by the sheer violence of the flash and the explosion of not just one, but several bluish-white sparks from the tip of the wand. You’re actually knocked back onto your rear, thankfully cushioned by the lush grass below. You hurry to sit up, watching as the spell you have slung flies through the air.

>4

The missiles swirl and swarm about one another, spiraling into a singular point as they approach, but with look of a spell with a broad area of impact—perfect for blasting multiple targets! Unfortunately, that also means a distinct lack of both precision, and of subtlety. The flying Unseelie see the barrage coming and, screeching warnings to each other, swoop out of the way. The only one who CAN’T move with that agility is the distracted, flightless Priestess Clanirae.

>1

The <Magic Missile> finds a mark, but not the one you intended. The Priestess was so focused on her combat casting and protecting her precious treasure from the dark fairies that she scarcely even ahs time to register the incoming attack before it hits her. The blast is not instantly lethal by any means—thank the Gods!—but it IS enough to wound, and disorient. The moonstone in its ornate ceremonial bowl slips from her grasp. The water spills out, the glowing stone escaping with it, as priestess and moons-tone tumble towards the ground.

“Oh, fuck me,” you whisper, bringing both hands to your lips and staring with horrified eyes and hammering heart as the spiritual leader and most sacred relic of your mother’s people both fall from what must be at least fifty feet off of the ground.

[2d20 for Clanirae to right herself and soften the impact, 2d20 for The Unseelie]
>>
>>5869057
oof
shoulda gone with calm
>>
>>5869057
You keep expecting—really, hoping against hope, for her sake and yours—that the uncannily weightless and nimble lunar cleric will snap back to her senses and do something to soften the coming blow. You’ve seen her hop, skip, and jump up that rocky tower to the pillar, and back down again. Surely she knows, you don’t know, <Feather fall> or something? That’s a fey spell, isn’t it??

>10,9

Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but it’s a hard thing to cast while dazed and disoriented by friendly fire. She lands poorly—very poorly. You heard a crunch. Clanirae makes landfall, and doesn’t move. You feel dizzy, ill, awful in the pit of your very soul. You quickly stand up and begin to rush towards her…

But then you hear another, softer thump.

>5, 12

You see the moon-stone which Priestess Clanirae so carefully protected crash down like a star from the firmament—a piece of heaven on earth, a glowing gem of purest silver-white light. The Unseelie are already diving for it—likely tried to snatch it out of the air and fumbled it, by the awkward and tumbling angle of its descent and distant impact-site. You are virtually without mana—so depleted that you cannot even maintain your physicality. Your wand is still clutched between your fingers, though: magical ENOUGH to grasp. The moon-stone SURELY would be as well…

But how would you protect it?

You could command your elemental to charge into the fray but, well, earth elementals (especially dripping, melting ones) aren’t exactly known for their fleetness of foot. If it were to lob a projectile… Well, it could DESTROY the moon-stone if it missed. You’re not even sure YOU could make it in time. Your father is currently preoccupied defending your mother, while Muffins has charged off to rout the feeling fey in a ravenous rampage of reawakened instinct. Endingray has his bow… But, as he’s amply demonstrated this evening, he is no master ranger; he could shoot down one or two of the four winged monstrosities, but not all of them.

Fuck. Fuck fuck FUCK. This is a DISASTER.

And in the mist of it all is your instinct to help, to heal, before anything else. Even without mana, you might just be able to force a <Stabilize> charge out of your wand if you push yourself… And that might be enough to save Clanirae’s life.

What do you do?
>Stabilize Priestess Clanirae
[The Unseelie will escape with the moon-stone]

>Recapture the moon-stone
[You’ll need to make a Courage roll, and an athletics one, but it’s your only shot to resuce it. Clainrae may die.]

>Have your elemental and Endingray launch everything they have at the Unseelie
[If they fail, the stone will either be captured or, perhaps worse, destroyed]

>Write-in
[If you have a clever solution, go for it! Keep in mind your MP is 0 and the DC will likely be high if it’s not a REALLY good write-in]
>>
>>5869059
Calm is one of your most basic spells, meant to be cast with touch or close proximity on an animal; mass-casting it on multiple extremely-magical, intelligent beings mid-combat would have required you to upcast it with more MP than you have OR to pass a very high DC
>>
>>5869069
>Stabilize Priestess Clanirae
>Have your elemental and Endingray launch everything they have at the Unseelie.

These shouldn't be exclusive, right? Just have to hope there's not one final moonstone destroying critfail in there.
>>
>>5869095
[You can do both, but a lava bombardment risks melting the moon-stone even without a CRIT fail.]
>>
>>5869052
we really weren't made for fighting wtf are those rolls. m-maybe by the third time we do it we'll get the hang of it.
>>5869069
>Recapture the moon-stone
fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck us
>>
>>5869072
>>5869069
>Keep in mind your MP is 0 and the DC will likely be high if it’s not a REALLY good write-in]

How is our MP zero? I thought the wand came preloaded with magic missiles? We also need to spend our own mana to activate it?
>>
>>5869113
[Yes. It auto-casts the spell with a simple keyword, but you are the battery. That's why it's for mages only.]

[That said, you CAN cast at 0 MP... technically. ;) The spell will come out very weak, you need to channel it through a wand or staff, and complex spells or critfails will knock you instantly unconscious]
>>
>>5869069
>Stabilize Priestess Clanirae
Ain’t playing this stupid ‘risk character death’ game again
>>
>>5869069
>Recapture the moon-stone

The priestess herself would rather risk her life then let the Unseelie get the holy moonstone. Judging by the fact she refused to put it down even while being attacked. And I'm certain their are other healers who could look her over once we win.
>>
>>5869069
>>Stabilize Priestess Clanirae
save the loli
>>
>>5869460
>save the loli
she isn't a loli, anon
>>
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>>5869461
>>
>>5869069
>>Recapture the moon-stone

My heart wishes >Have your elemental and Endingray launch everything they have at the Unseelie, but no one support this action
>>
>>5869589
I supported it
Also how many other people may have wanted it but also held off because there wasn't enough backing? Be the support you want to see in the world anon
>>
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>>5869658
>>5869589
>>5869460
>>5869190
>>5869153
>>5869104
>>5869095
[The vote remains open.]
>>
>>5869589
the problem with the elemental is that we'll cause damage to the stone even with a successful roll, otherwise I'd be all for it
>>
>>5869798
[On a success you won't. On regular failure, you have a chance to do so. On a crit fail you absolutely will.]
>>
>>5869801
>[On a success you won't. On regular failure, you have a chance to do so. On a crit fail you absolutely will.]
wait, only on a regular failure ? then I'm changing my vote since this seems way better than we running to the thing.
>>5869069
>Have your elemental and Endingray launch everything they have at the Unseelie
>>5869589
rejoice, anon. perhaps we can do it.
>>
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>>5869869
>>5869589
>>5869460
>>5869190
>>5869153
>>5869095
[Important one to roll for a tie-break, so I'll leave it open until tomorrow if nobody breaks it by bedtime.]
>>
>>5869069
>Recapture the moon-stone
New magic artifact to pilfer for the glory of our human ancestry? Dont mind if I diddly do
>>
>>5869902
Alas my id has changed again, I dont blame you if you dont trust it but I am
>>5855233
up to you
>>
>>5869882
Considering that only we do the stabilizing, and only Laskar and the elemental do the blasting, why not treat it as picking both?
>>
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>>5869904
>>5869903
>>5869902
>>5869882
You’re aware that it is a risky move even as you commit to it, but you have no other choice—no REAL choice. You cannot bring yourself, as a healer, to forsake an ally in such peril, especially when YOU inflicted it upon her. You have no intentions of letting your clan’s very envoy to the heavens die at YOUR hand, however accidental, whatever the risk… But you ALSO won’t be the elf who handed a fragment of Holy Luna to a bunch of jumped-up pixies in bad fur coats. Since you can’t make a choice—since there is NO CHOICE you can make—you must do both.

And that means rolling fate’s dice.

“I’m going to save Clanirae!” you shout. “Endingray, <Elemental>, stop them from getting that moon-stone!”

“The elemental?” Laskar Endingray asks. “But what if—”

You have no time to listen to him. Honestly, your'e just grateful that everyone here can perceive magically-incorporeal beings so easily, or your instructions, desperate and dire though they may be, may well have fallen on deaf ears and amounted to naught. They still might even so, for you well know the risks which Endingray would surely have spoken to, if you had but time to listen: that magical magma might well melt that sacred stone to so much slag…

But then again, maybe that is better than letting it fall into the grasping hands of these dreadful Unseelie Fey.

You hope the priestess will see things that way, when (if?) she wakes up.

4d20 for Healing; DC 10 to Stabilize, 16 to stay conscious as you do so in spite of 0 MP. 2d20 for Endingray's bow, DC 15 to hit one and 17 to inflict such damage upon the Unseelie that they're given pause. 2d20 for the elemental, DC 15 to hit, DC 17 to inflict some serious damage and drive the Unseelie away, and DC 10 to at least not melt the stone.
>>
Rolled 5, 15 = 20 (2d20)

>>5869924
[Forgot dice, but also can't forget THE ENEMY]
2d20 for them
>>
Rolled 15, 8, 4, 19, 11, 13, 20, 7 = 97 (8d20)

>>5869925
[Fuck, alright, should have written this while Iw as more awake. Damn ties. NOW your dice.]
>>
>>5869924
>>5869925
>>5869927
Your first priority is Clanirae. As has ever been the case, you are loathe to witness or permit preventable death. The losses inflicted on thieves and murderers like the goblins of the wastes or these Unseelie could be justified in your mind—if never entirely in your heart—as necessary for defence of others, but if you can save this heavenly, almost angelic elven mystic… Well, you have to. Luckily, with your wand pre-charged with the <Stabilize> spell, you don’t suffer the regular drawbacks of casting a cantrip that you are less-familiar with. Better yet that it’s among your specialty schools: that of Life Magic and Living Alchemy! However…

>0 MP

…You ARE running on empty. If the wand helps channel and focus magic, and expedite its casting it still relies on your own arcane energies—your life-force, in fact—to fuel the working of such minor miracles.

You turn over Clanirare the second you are upon her. In your depleted and panicked state, you fear your hands might pass right through the pale priestess of the New Moon’s princess. To your relief, they don’t; she must be more like you, like what you have BECOME, than you thought.

“Good,” you whisper. “Great. Finally, some LUCK.”


You hear the battle-cry of Laskar Endingray and—further away—your father’s slicing steel, the mockery of Unseelie turning to despair, and then a roar of geysering, superheated stone from your <summoned> assistant… But you can bare witness to none of it, because it takes all your focus to set right the wrong you’ve inadvertently done. Her arm is twisted and broken beneath her, but that is the least concern; her twisted, jutting shoulder bone and wheezing breath give you far great cause for alarm.

But you’re a healer, and—by now, you think it’s fair to say—at least a BIT of an adventurer. You’ve cured a plague. You’ve seen your best friend nearly bleed out and succumb to poison in a desert. Once or twice, you’ve sort of CREATED LIFE.

“How hard can it be?” you ask yourself.

>19 vs DC 10/16…

As it turns out… Fairly hard, under these conditions. You lift the wand, swish it once, speak the word—“<Stabilize>”—and let it drift over the priestess. The glowing tip ghosts over broken bones barely concealed by what seems like paper-thin, silk-smooth, hairless and delicate flesh, almost one and the same as her thin cotton robes. Her body, cradled in one arm, is so dainty and frail, thin and lean; she is almost your height, yet light like a child, or like some hollow-boned bird. The bones twist and shift into place, and her wheezing becomes a gasp of shocked pain. Her long, white-lashed eyes flutter open, only to close again…

>Success

…And a moment later, you join her on the grass.
>>
>>5869947
Your world turns sideways, your form collapsing atop hers. You lie like lovers in the grass, and you find yourself comforted by her breathing, as your head—innocently, honestly!—lands upon her chest, and you hear her breathing healthy, even breaths.

You remain conscious, just barely. Your wand slips through your fingers—not between them, THROUGH them, as your corporeality also slips still further away.

>11 & 13 for Laskar, vs DC 15/17

However, you are still cognizant enough to see Laskar Endingray’s arrows miss—again, ha! what are you paying this elfman for?—and the Unseelie to swoop between several of the projectiles with great agility, at abstract angles, to snatch up their prize.

“Moonlight!”

They alight upon the holy light, one of them grapsing the fist-sized lump of the moon and holding it, reverently, before his eyes… Only for another tackle him, shoving him down and taking it for himself.

“MOONLIGHT!”

So consumed are they with dodging and weaving away from the shots, though—and with the radiant object of their uncouth obsession—that the Unseelie Fey utterly fail to recognize the GREATER threat until it is too late. They jostle and wrestle for the right to hold the moon-stone., to touch it and caress it, to own it, to bathe in its glow—that they only turn their heads when they see that glow tinted red-orange, and feel the incoming heat.

>7 & 20 for the Elemental

It is a good think these dark fairies so enjoy holding the stone aloft, because only this spares the moon-stone the bath of molten earth and cleansing fire which consumes the ‘winner’ of that scuffle from the neck down. His arms fall away from his body, burned down to brittle bone in a horrid spectacle that would have made you violently ill if you had the energy to regurgitate… Or if you had no already seen so much death, and were not so horribly gratified to see the Reaper of Souls swinging his sickle in YOUR favour rather than for the sake of the foe.

>Critical Success

The Unseelie all stare in horror to make up for your own curiously-absent anguish at what once was their ally—friend? brother?. Then, their greedy eyes fall upon the stone which one of his ash-blackened hands still clutches faithfully.

“Moonlight…” one murmurs, and then another.

The voices are muted in their enthusiasm, though, zealotry dimmed by self-preservation instinct. They regard your elemental, considering their option.

“Get away from my son, you BASTARDS!”

“Dad…” you whisper, smiling.
>>
>>5869949
You crane your head, hearing your father’s approaching footsteps and—yes, by the twitching of your ears—Muffins’ two paws and two hooves are quickly catching up to him, as your faithful pet notices your plight. The battle has turned in your favour at last. The other Unseelie are fled, and the remaining three who gather around the moonstone and the smoking, simmering stone which encases what’s left of its last holder decide to join them.

>15 for their escape; you take no living captives

Haphazardly, one after another, they launch into the air and swoop away, leaving the moon-stone where it lays.

“My child! Are you alright?” your father asks.

He reaching down to help you up, only for his hand to pass through you. He stares at his hand, then back at you. You wave away his concern, sitting up. You rise to your feet and then, after a moment’s inspection and introspection, lift Priestess Clanirae as well, now that your strength is returned.

Laksar Edingray picks up the moon-stone itself and, looking uncomfortable to hold it, passes it swiftly to your mother. Mylaerlea Mious is healed by now, you gather, though your eyes still linger nervously where her dress is ripped open and stained red.

“I’m fine,” she promises you, with that same subtle smile she so often wears. “Is the priestess?”

You nod, and your eyes fall upon the moon-stone. Everyone else’s gaze follows your own.

“We should place it back where it belongs,” your mother suggests.

“What if the fuzzy freaks come BACK for the bloody thing, ey?” asks your father. “Safer with us.”

“Rudolfo…” your mother warns.

“They’re too frightened,” Endingray suggests, and casts his gaze about with a grimace at the half-dozen of their dead who lie gutted, shredded, burnt or blasted to smithereens in the sacred clearing. “They won’t be back, at least not THIS night. Who can blame them?”

“Ha! That’s my boy!” your father chimes in, attempting (and failing, agaim due to you ghostly intangibility) to slap your back.

“They must have wanted it very badly, to brave all this,” Laskar Endingray remarks.

“It is powerful, holy magic,” your mother speaks reverently, staring down at tehs tone with awe. “As you said… Who can blame them?”

You narrow your eyes, scrutinizing the sorcerous energies of the heavenly relic and reflecting on the battle—on the Unseelie, on their words and actions and desperation. Is that ALL it is?

What will you do?
>Replace the moon-stone upon the altar
[It’s he elven thing to do!]

>Study the moon-stone and attempt it unlock its secrets
[Faintly sacrilegious, but you’re curious…]

>Steal away with the stone
[You feel it… A calling, a kinship… But you’ll need to leave, and fast]

>Write-in
>>
>>5869950
>Replace the moon-stone upon the altar
We're in no shape to attempt magical tinkering right now.
Plus, we did two solid to the cleric (saved both the stone and her life) so if we ask pretty please, I'm sure she'll let us fondle the rock at our leisure.
>INB4 why not fondle cleric?
Prefer to keep romantical options of protage on Irina and Costella
>>
>>5869950
>Study the moon-stone and attempt it unlock its secrets.

More lore, more spells, more kino. Tis the life and ambition's of a true wizard.
>>
>>5869950
>Replace the moon-stone upon the altar
Thank the dice gods we did it, a shame we remain with no live subjects. On another note, Laskar really felt like breaking the archer stereotype, fuck us man. If this were akun I’d vote to correct him to get our worth outta it.
>>
>>5869950
>>Steal away with the stone
LET'S GOOO, fuck the gods
>>
>>5870089
>LET'S GOOO, fuck the gods
that's one way to use our new body
>>
>>5869950
>Replace the moon-stone upon the altar
Backlink just in case: >>5846502
>>
>>5870161
damn anon, it's been some time since you last voted
>>
>>5869950
>Replace the moon-stone upon the altar

aw yeah
finally we rolled well
now to hope the priestess doesn't remember how she fell and got injured
>>
I'm >>5870029 btw
>>
>>5870162
It's just the vote I can for sure remember is mine. I've been phoneposting this whole time.
>>
>>5869950
>Answer the calling
Having the Moon Goddess in our corner would be neat- you can take this as either stealing the stone or learning how to speedial her via magic or prayer.

I’m frankly curious if we can get the Dragonborn to embrace the Moon Goddess as part of his ‘Pantheon’- the Moonsword arc needs closure, after all.
>>
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>>5870092
Kek

>>5870539
>>5870178
>>5870161
>>5870089
>>5870029
>>5869994
>>5869959
[Locked and writing!]
>>
>>5870644
never miss an opportunity kek
>>
>>5870644
The moons-tone calls to you, that much is certain. But by the look in your mother’s eyes… Well, that’s probably hereditary. The fleeting notion that you could form some special communion with the hunk of rock, or the Holy Monarch of the satellite from which it was derived is a tempting one, but it seems almost silly, the more you think about it.

And anyway, you’ve put Priestess Clanirae through enough.

“Here,” you say, and unceremoniously hand off the unconscious astral acolyte in question to Laskar Endingray, who takes her without question, though with some confusion until he sees you take the moon-stone from your mother.

“We should put it back,” you say. “Those assholes… Uh, those Unseelie, rather… They won’t disrupt Dappulyet for even one more night.”

Your mother’s smile becomes more genuine, more full. You feel a mote of warmth ignite within your chest, though you’re careful not to show it outwardly as you carefully ascend the scared tower. The leaping, scrambling course you must make up the altar is far less graceful or dignified than that of the holy-woman whom you left at its base, but your temporary state of advanced immateriality almost makes it EASIER: you feel lighter somehow, almost but not QUITE like you were casting <Free Movement>. You’re winded by the time you reach the pinnacle, but as you set the stone on the altar, it feels worthwhile.

You’re glad you did this, and that you did it yourself. It feels… RIGHT.

Your descent is twice as slow and thrice as cautious as your ascent, lest you join Clanirae as a victim of gravity’s unforgiving embrace. When you are once more of safe and solid ground, you take her back into your arms. It’s automatic and, only once you’ve done so do you wonder WHY you did so. Endingray could carry the mystic just as easily—maybe MORESO, by his height and build.

(You ignore your father’s knowing look and saucy wink.)

Dawn is still a ways away, despite how long the battle felt. In truth, the entirety of the skirmish could not have taken more than ten, maybe twenty minutes, despite how rapidly you expended your energy and all the ups and downs of the tumultuous tangle. You feel the weariness of night seize your heart, and you resolve to spend no more time here tonight—you can clean up corpses in the morning, if you must.

“There may be no need,” Endingray notes when you mention it, and gestures to the Usneelie.

The bodies of those you slew are already beginning to dissipate, first to desiccate down to bones and then to crumble to ash. That ash proceeds to lift off from the ground on a breeze unfelt by anything else, whirling away into the woods around Dappulyet, and into the sky above, to swirl away and settle in some godforsaken corner of creation.

“Good riddance,” you say to yourself, though you still lament the lack of living prisoner to question.
>>
>>5870659
>>5870666
Your family and friend (hireling? Friend seems a bit much…) retire, while you carry Clanirae into the temple. Muffins follows close behind, your <Elemental Infusion> already fading, while you dissipate the other elemental ally you ,summoned> before it can cause any trouble unattended. Beneath the towering monument which is church and altar in one, there is a small grotto. It is there, your mother tells you, where the priestess lives. You find it small, simple, almost sad in how spartan it is: all pristine white walls, earthen floor, with small alcoves carves into the stone or dug into the soil to accommodate a precious few belongings: a bowl, two cups, a small locket, and a doll that looks to have been made by a child. No changes of clothes. No weapons, or armour, or staffs, or staves.

No bed. Just… A slab of white stone?

“Where the hell do you sleep?” you ask the unconscious woman.

“Exactly where it looks as if I do,” she answers, startling you.

“How long have you been awake?” you ask, when your hammering heart calms down.

“Long enough to appreciate the lack of ogling or untoward advances,” you notes.

You’re a little taken-aback at that. Nevermind that Costella (and even Izirina) are much more curvaceous than this elfmaid. Forget that, by your mother’s words, this woman must be over a hundred years old. Even if she were a nubile sexpot, you would NEVER do such a thing!

“What do you take me for?” you demand.

“A human,” she answers. “Or at least, half of one.”

You scowl. The priestess has the good grace too look sheepish as she gently places a hand upon your chest and, with your cooperation, lets you lower her onto her unsteady feet.

“You likely still have a concussion,” you caution her. “I was… Not at my best when I healed you.”

A thought occurs, and your chest is seized by the grip of mortal terror.

“Do you remember… Ah… What happened to you, up there, during the battle?”

She regards you cooly for a moment, then sighs, and shrugs.

“You made it right,” she says. “And… It was an honest mistake. Though I begin to suspect you’re not quite the ‘adventurer’ your father made you out to be.”

You avert your gaze, and clear your throat, unwilling to answer to that charge.

“The service you have done our people… Your people… It is still a great one, Ezreal Mious… Or, sorry, Ezreal Van Houtzmann.”

You nod, and belatedly add: “Thank you. It was an honour. Probably a duty, actually. I think I HAD to, didn’t I?”

“Only if you want to be a good elf,” she replies, and you THINK she’s joking.

Priestess Clanirae sits down upon the white-stone slab-unadorned, uncushioned. You cringe to look at it, imagining what it must be like to sleep upon such a thing.

“By the fact that you took on the duty of bringing me here yourself, I gather you have… Questions?”
>>
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>>5870667
“What?” you ask, startled out of your private thoughts.

She raises her eyebrows at the response.

“No?” she asks. “I had assumed you must. Or… Intention, I suppose.”

You feel your face flush. She IS beautiful, in an elegant and petite sort of way... Like a dancer, like a porcelain doll.

(Wait, what are you THINKING?! And in a church! Ugh, why must half-elven puberty last a full decade and a half?!)

Do you have questions?
>What exactly IS Clanirae?
>What are the Unseelie?
>Why did the Unseelie want the stone?
>Where do the Unseelie stay? Do they have a base of operations?
>What should you expect from the next attack?
>What is the true power and purpose of the moon-stone?
>Has she met the Princess of the New Moon? What is she like?
>Why does the Moon Goddess not interact with her people directly?
>What is Clainrae’s problem with the Race of Man?
>Would she have been… AVERSE to ‘intentions’? [Flirtation]
>Write-in
[Please choose three or fewer]
>>
>>5870673
>What is the true power and purpose of the moon-stone?
>Has she met the Princess of the New Moon? What is she like?
>Would she have been… AVERSE to ‘intentions’? [Flirtation]
>>
>>5870673
>You feel your face flush. She IS beautiful, in an elegant and petite sort of way... Like a dancer, like a porcelain doll.
Adorable and Humorous

>What exactly IS Clanirae?
>Why did the Unseelie want the stone?
>Why does the Moon Goddess not interact with her people directly?
>>
>>5870673
>What exactly IS Clanirae?
>Why did the Unseelie want the stone?
>Why does the Moon Goddess not interact with her people directly?
>>
>>5870689
>>5869468
>>5869460
[At the risk of spoiling anyone's fantasy, she resembles the picture I posted more than any sort of 'loli'.]
>>
>>5870700
I never thought she was a loli, lol. That’s what I said to that anon and I did the meme just because of the elegant and petite description.
>>
>>5870673
>What is the true power and purpose of the moon-stone?
>What are the Unseelie?
>Has she met the Princess of the New Moon? What is she like?
>>
>>5870673
>Where do the Unseelie stay? Do they have a base of operations?
>What is the true power and purpose of the moon-stone?
>Would she have been… AVERSE to ‘intentions’? [Flirtation]
>>
>>5870673
>What exactly IS Clanirae?
>Where do the Unseelie stay? Do they have a base of operations?
>What is the true power and purpose of the moon-stone?

Reject negging sexpot elf cleric, only Costella and Izirina. We went away partly to unmess our sentimental life, not getting it more complicated
>>
>>5870673
>Where do the Unseelie stay? Do they have a base of operations?
>What should you expect from the next attack?
>What is the true power and purpose of the moon-stone?
>no flirtation please
>>
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>>5870666
>you carefully ascend the scared tower
I mean after all the tower went through...
also pic relevant
>“Long enough to appreciate the lack of ogling or untoward advances,” you notes.
my man having a one sided discussion

>>5870700
I have indeed, joked when I said loli
>>5870673
>Would she have been… AVERSE to ‘intentions’? [Flirtation]
Look, you give me the option, I take the option. Also because this would improve her disposition towards us and in turn any emotions will make her more talktative. If anything she will focuss in defending +that+ and will spill secrets because her priorities would shift to the romantic
>>
>>5871205
[this is why spellcheck is simply not enough for my nonsense. Ah well.]

>>5870961
>>5870879
>>5870853
>>5870835
>>5870739
>>5870696
>>5870683
[fair warning to all: I may have a date tonight and, depending how that all goes, I may miss tonight's post. Also, expect some holiday-related irregularities over the next few days, of course.]
>>
>>5871301
Rooting for ya lad!
>>
>>5871301
Good luck, hope you manage to plap, QM. or get plapped, dunno.
>>
>>5871301
That mean I hope you won't update tonight
>>
>>5871394
>hat mean I hope you won't update tonight
why do you hope ?
>>
>>5871464
'Cause it implies his date went well?
>>
>>5871394
>>5871359
>>5871336
[Thanks, anons! It was a good night. I'll post this evening!]
>>
>>5870683
>>5870689
>>5870696
>>5870835
>>5870853
>>5870879
>>5870961
>>5871205
“I—I have no ‘intentions’, Priestess,” you stammer, adjusting your hat and (completely coincidentally) removing the alluring acolyte of the New Moon Princess from your vision long enough to regain your composure. “If anything, your fixation on the subject implies th—that it’s YOU, actually, who has ‘intent’!”

“So you DO have questions, then?” she infers, infuriatingly calm and (when you can finally bring yourself to look at her again) clearly a little amused at your reaction.

“I do,” you say, voice breaking slightly.

You clear your throat.

“I do,” you say again. “A lot of them. But let’s start with the most relevant, shall we?”

Priestess Clanirae inclines her head, repeating: “We shall.”

She still looks a little amused and, damn it all, you're pretty sure you’re still a little pink around the ears.

“What, EXACTLY, is the nature of this moon-stone? What can it do, and what is it FOR?” you ask, and after a moment’s hesitation you add: “For that matter, and pardon my bluntness Priestess, but what exactly are YOU?”

The Priestess’ amusement dissipates, expression and posture turning serious. She considers your question so long you begin to worry you’ve broken an unspoken taboo and offended he. You know well that the ways of the elven magecraft and Feycraft are not like those of Man; your mother’s people are more secretive and mystical about such matters, treating the whole body of their ancestral magic with the sense of sacred which humanity reserves for the arts of paladins and clerics.

“I only ask so I can better understand how to defend the stone, and you?”

“You fancy yourself my protector?” Clanirae asks with a slight lift of her eyebrow; before you can explode once more into flustered self-defence, however, she laughs and waves her hand appeasingly.

“No, do not worry Master Van Houtzmann, I understand. You returned the stone to where it belonged, and you have been courteous. I know you do not covet the moon-stone, nor mean me any harm.”

“Obviously,” you mumble.

Priestess Clanirae straightens her back, taking a long breath and closing her eyes for a moment as if summoning up the explanation from within. Then, demeanour subtly shifted towards the mystically-authoritative, speaking with wisdom of ages, she tells to you the tale:

“The moon-stone is not, as some might assume—or, I admit, as I might lead some to believe—a simple lump of stone from the seas or shores of Luna’s surface. It is a gemstone of particular make, an artefact of High Magic... Of the very arrays which sit in the throne room at the moon’s core, powering its flight and luminescence, and all the forces which the moon controls and radiates. It infused with some of the personal power of Princess Miannie and her sisters, the daughters of Rianniane, and of their mother and father.”
>>
>>5872198
You open your mouth a little, but aren’t sure what to say to that. You‘ve seen the remnants of a long-dead dragon, traversed the spaces between planes... But even so, as an elf, you can’t help but tilt your head up as if to peer through the temple hanging over you bot, and to gaze again upon the moon-stone where you placed it high above. A divine relic touched by Lughala and Rianniane themselves, the greatest gods and most ancient ancestors of all elves?! THAT is truly worthy of the term “High Magic”! No wonder the Unseelie want it so badly... But even so, for WHAT?

As if to answer the question you just thought, the priestess continues speaking:

“The power within s great, but it’s true power is a sort of... Attunement.”

THAT gets your attention.

“The crystal is aligned to, you could say bound to, the moon’s core, and to its energy fields... Including those which control its course through the sky, its light, and its defenses. It allows communciation between here, and there... For the Princess to speak to me, and me to her. The barrier it produces for us is a sort of echo or reflection of the moon’s holy energies, which keep away the forces of darkness, and preserve its glory and the health and well-being of those who lives there...”

She trails off for a moment, as if unsure whether to say what comes next. Continue she does, though, meeting your eyes with her pale, opalescent ones.

“The Lunar Eladrin. My kin."

Your full attention returns to Prietess Clanirae then, the wodnerment of the moon-stone temporarily forgotten. ‘Eladrin’? You’ve heard that word before, spoken by a sprite from the fairy court at Old Maple Hill. As if she again sensed the question not-yet-formed, Clanirae goes on to explain:

“We are... Like elves. ‘High Elves’, maybe... Closer to our shared ancestors. As the soil and sea of Luna are to Earth, so are we to... Well, you, and your mother.”

“You’re FROM the MOON?” you ask, still reeling.

Clanirae’s smile returns and she bows her head.

“Though I have not been back to visit my people or my princess in many, many years,” she admits with wistful sadness. “My duties keep me here, serving as an emissary to your people. Each of the Princesses of the Moon has such a few such emissaries, tasked with guiding and protecting our cousins here on Earth.”

“I see,” you say, because you feel you should say SOMETHING.

“It is a great honour,” she explains, and you get the sense she’s trying to convince herself as much as you.”

“...It must be,” you reply, ina tone you hope is affirming.
>>
>>5872199
She shakes her head as if to clear it, and regards you thoughtfully.

“Your folk... You do not live as long as us, you age faster, and you are... Closer to this place than to our creators, in some ways. Sometimes TOO close to this pace, I fear, and too distant from our origins. But then to see you—not even wholly of the Fair Folk, but still somehow... Well, perhaps I have grown too complacent in my judgement over the centuries. Perhaps it is time I looked again, more closely, with fresh eyes and open heart.”

You fidget a little under her too-close, eerily-intimate scrutiny. The silent appraisal leaves you feeling bare, naked, and oddly excited. Eventually, you can bare it no longer, and blurt out:

“Where do they live?’

“What?” she asks, apparently startled by the outburst and its apparent incongruity. “The Eladrin? Some on the moon, while other tend to--”

“Not THEM,” you almost snap. “The... the Unseelie fey! When we drove them off, where did they go>? Do they hide in the forest of the Sylvan Realms? The Deepwoods?”

“No,” Clanirae replies, “at least, not openly, not with permission. Many surely lurk there, preying upon unwary travellers... or even leave our realms altogether, to journey into other races’ realms among the children and creations of other gods... Like our other fallen and degraded kin. The Unseelie are no citizen or subject of those places, though, merely vagabonds or invaders. Their true home, like all True Fey is in spaces between.”

“So anyone like the True fey... Or, uh, like you, an ‘eladrin’... They could find them there? Pursue them, and put a stop to these attacks?”

Clanirae shakes her head, grimacing.

“Fearful of being called to account by our creators, the Unseelie have taken it a step further: they have taken the dimensions which they occupy, places here on Earth, and they have torn space asunder to disjoint their portions of the world... To keep them separate, and safe. A secret they learned from the Dark Ones, no doubt.., by selling out OUR secrets to THEM...”

“So... Like, another plane, you mean?”

Priestess Clanirae senses the shift in your tone, and looks at you with curiosity.

“It is... Something like that, yes. Another aspect of this universe, but not ENTRIELY apart, nor as expansive or populace as the so-called Hellish or Heavenly Realms.”
>>
>>5872202
You chew your lower lip, deep in thought. Now, you fully understand the nature of the moon-stone, and what you stand to gain by protecting it and earning an audience with the Princess of the new Moon. Aside from any sense of personal responsibility you have to protect Dappulyet’s ancient holy-of-holies, this is also your chance to answer every question which has been eating at you about the secret origins of your transformation, and not just of that, but of the entire eleven race and all fairykind! Of Feycraft itself, and of the Gods’ own plans and purposes for you and for the celestial spheres of Sun and Moon! Even the Unseelie themselves, sinister in aspect though they are, fascinate you as a biologist. As an elfman, as a seeker of the esoteric, this is an opportunity you couldn’t turn down if you wanted to!

...But if these Unseelie are really hiding out in another plane of existence of sorts, then there is an answer to the quandary of how to find them, reach their hidden lair, and put a stop to their aggression. It is an answer as glaringly obvious as it is blatantly problematic.

The answer’s name is Izirina Henzler.

What will you do?

>Go to Izirina Henzler for assistance in reaching the Unseelie plane with <Plane Shift>
>Find your own way to the hidden realm of the Unseelie
>Forget it -- You’ll just stay here in Dappulyet and defend the temple each night, until the New Moon
>Write-in
>>
>>5872207
>eleven race

>Find your own way to the hidden realm of the Unseelie
It'd be good to be more independent from Izirina and also have a way to come back if she pulls another trick
>>
>>5872207
>Forget it -- You’ll just stay here in Dappulyet and defend the temple each night, until the New Moon
>Check in on Izzy though
I think embracing the traditional hero adventure would be good for our soul (and family bonding)- but we should keep tabs on Izzy anyway.
>>
>>5872207
>Find your own way to the hidden realm of the Unseelie

>>5872224
has it exactly right
>>
>>5872207

>Forget it -- You’ll just stay here in Dappulyet and defend the temple each night, until the New Moon
>Check in on Izzy though

They probably have traps or something in the other dimension. Not to mention which ever corrupt fey that pocket dimension is probably pretty strong.

We nore suitable for defence than offense anyway.
>>
>>5872469
>>5872245
>>5872237
>>5872224
[My hope was to do a second update today to make up for missing yesterday, but perhaps that was a bit ambitious with the lower voter turnout on such an auspicious weekend. We'll hold off until we get a tie-breaker, hopefully by tomorrow morning! Otherwise, I'll break it myself.]
>>
>>5872207
>Forget it -- You’ll just stay here in Dappulyet and defend the temple each night, until the New Moon
>>
>>5872207
>Forget it -- You’ll just stay here in Dappulyet and defend the temple each night, until the New Moon
Or at least until we take a prisoner. Going into tbe enemy's lair with no intel is dumb
>>5846502
>>
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>>5872745
>>5872694
>>5872469
>>5872245
>>5872237
>>5872224
“Master Van Houtzmann?”

You return to reality once more. Clanirae is watching you expectantly. You can see the curiosity on her features. It’s at least a confirmation she can’t ACTUALLY hear what you’re thinking, which is comforting. You have enough complicated entanglements with women in your life.

“It’s nothing,” you say, a bit brusquely. “I… WE will defend this place. We did it once, we can do it again—however many times we have to.”

A moment of silence passes, the priestess obviously waiting for something more. She might not know what you’re thinking, but she surely senses the discomfort and turmoil. Izzy… You miss her. Thinking of her makes your very being ache to see her again, or Costella, or both of them. But that’s exactly the reason you can’t bring her in on this. You NEED to regain your independence, your autonomy.

“Then I suppose we had better get some rest,” the priestess eventually says, with a stretch and yawn.

“Yes,” you agree dourly, “we should.”

The pull of Izirina Henzler… That’s as good a reason as any NOT to call upon her. It’s a product of her trickery, her selfish pursuit of goals beyond your own and without consulting you. What would she do if you brought her here? Help you, certainly. There’s no doubting that. But THEN what? And anyway, diving right into another dimension, a dimension created by the sort of powerful fey entity who could CREATE such a thing? Without intelligence on the enemy? Frankly, it sounds like suicide. Better to stick to your strong suits, here, where it’s somewhat safe.

These and other thoughts—regrets, aspirations, lamentations, justifications-circle in your mind as your drift off to sleep. You dream troubled dreams—dreams of Izzy, of Costella; you dream of embracing them both, and of their warmth, and of that warmth fading away as you clutch and grasp for it out in the deepening cold which is their absence. You dream dreams of moonlight, and of fluttering moth-wings, and the silhouettes of owls. Dreams of circling predators in the dark, and of lightning strikes, and of tumbling stone.
>>
>>5872846
You awake. It is morning. You do not feel altogether rested, but you can’t sleep anymore… And you don’t wish to return to those dreams.

You tell your family—and Laskar Endingray—of your discussion with Priestess Clanirae, and of your resolution to defend the sacred moon-stone each night until the New Moon.

“And after that?” your mother asks.

It isn’t an accusation, you think, btu it feels like one.

“After I speak with Princess Miannie,” you reply, “we will have her advice on how to proceed.”

(And maybe YOU will have answers to other, more personal and existential inquiries as well)

With night not yet upon you, you have the whole day to explore Dappulyet and the surrounding woodland. Despite the Unseelie lurking somewhere nearby—unknown, hidden from even elven senses—you feel safe and at home here. The Sylvan Realms are a place of peace and, under Lughala’s own sun, you cannot help but feel untouchable. The Unseelie dwell in dark, as demons and the undead are said to do, specifically because the Sun God’s glare is too great for them to bear. It brings peace to your people—to ALL people. Peace, and the freedom to explore, or to study, or to prepare.

Of your force of six (counting Muffins), a third suffered serious or life-threatening injuries last night. You were wholly depleted of magic by the end. If you’re going to do this fourteen more times, and if you’re not going to summon outside aid…

(You shake off a brief, imaginary image of Izirina Henzler)

…something needs to change.

What will you do to prepare?
[Please choose only one]

>Study Feycraft with your mother
[Learn one or more new spells]

>Study the basics of melee combat with your father
[Gain some close combat ability and/or physical resilience]

>Attune to the local energies, and draw upon the region’s rich mana
[Deepen your mana reserves, and gain some MP]

>Walk the wood with Muffins, and look for clues as to the Unseelie’s angle of approach
[Gain a temporary combat bonus, and potentially more…]

>Rally the locals to defend their holy-place and heritage
[Gain some additional NPC support in the next battle]

>Write-in
>>
>>5872848
>Attune to the local energies, and draw upon the region’s rich mana.

The spells we already know are pretty powerful, we can phase through things. Summon elementals , cause things to regenerate and give them elemental traits.
>>
>>5872848
>Attune to the local energies, and draw upon the region’s rich mana
more RAW POWER does sound pretty good
>>
>>5872848
>Attune to the local energies and draw upon the region’s rich mana
Mmmm, tasty ancient magics
>>
>>5872880
This is me by the way i did not realize I was mobile data posting
>>
>>5872848
>Rally the locals to defend their holy-place and heritage
>>
>5872880
>5873181
I mean this is me.

>>5869190
>>
>>5872846
>Attune to the local energies, and draw upon the region’s rich mana
I'm >>5872224
>>
[I'm sleepy from a long, but good, day. Getting some shut-eye, posting tomorrow!]
>>
>>5872848
>Walk the wood with Muffins, and look for clues as to the Unseelie’s angle of approach
Active defense, people!
>>
>>5873538
>>5873286
>>5873202
>>5872996
>>5872959
>>5872880
As you consider how best to battle back against the Unseelie’s next assault, your mind keeps returning to one moment: the moment when you expended the last of your mana—or “aura”, you suppose, that being the elven term and this being an elven land. You remember the terror of watching your <Magic Missile> spell blast priestess Clanirae off of the top of the temple, of watching her fall from that high altar, and of knowing that even WITH a wand you might not be able to mend what you had damaged. You remember the light-headedness which had seized you afterwards, the wand slipping through the flesh and bone of your ephemeral fingers, and the feeling of dislocation, distance, and helplessness which accompanied it—of being rendered immaterial, and being unable to return to corporeality. What if your friends and family had been in danger? You would have had to simply stand, and stare, and watch… Helpless.

No. No thank you. You don’t like that one bit.

You need more magic—more mana, more aura, more POWER. Not for its own sake, but to protect this place and the people you care about. Luckily, there was nowhere better to acquire the energies you need than right here—in the place of your birth.

The Sylvan Realms are more magically ‘dense’ than most places on Earth, of course. That’s a part of it. More than that, though, there is a familiarity here, a oneness to things. The trees the animals, the fungi… the elves, the fairies, even the Unseelie Fey… Everything here shares an origin. Only three beings in the whole of Dappulyet stand out against it, as somewhat alien to the matrix of interconnected entities and their celestial patrons above: your father, and Muffins, and… You.

You cringe a little to feel that disconnect and discord in yourself, that failure to enmesh immediately into the environs. Is this because of your human paternity? Because of your time away, among humans in human lands, learning human magic? Or is it because of…

Her. And the incident.

You do not travel far from the village—just far enough that you are not disturbed by the soft and melodic conversation of your mother’s people. Though the elventongue is beautiful and flowing speech, even in times of trouble, even when discussing their fears of what tonight will bring, you need to be alone for a moment… Alone with the forest, with the sunlight, with the faint chirping of birds and rustling of squirrels and of wood-mice. Alone even from Muffins, though he is clearly unhappy to be instructed to stay away—you have to request that Endingray distract him with soothing music, akin to your <Calm> spell. Only then, in tranquility, can you close your eyes, and find your centre—the core of your, the origin-point.
>>
>>5873681
Sometimes, you think about what it would be like, to be a <Clone>… To have the same body, the same face, the same voice, maybe even the same MEMORIES for all you know… But to now you are a derivative duplicate, a pale imitation, a memory, a reflection. To know you are not really YOU anymore, but something else, something other and intangibly lesser. Is that why they refuse to eat, to drink, to move? Is that why they shrivel up and die?

You’ve thought about that a lot more since the incident with Izirina and Costella.

Are you still ‘you’? Still the half-elf boy who came from Dappulyet, studied in Iternagreyn, and traveled finally to Hawksong to apprentice under the Archmage? If your substance and soul are changed, altered… Did the Ezreal which your friends knew really return from that extraplanar excursion or was he obliterated and replaced by something else… Something with differing body, alien spirit?

No.

Here, here in Dappulyet’s midday sun, filtered through the bough of leaves, gently kissed by a fragrant breeze, you know that is not true. You take off your hat, undo the ponytail you’ve been wearing, and shrug off your outer robe. You remember this, all of this. You do not remember with the faint echoes of the past that normally constitute memory, replicable and fading and perhaps telepathically transferrable. You remember it with your skin, your nose, your ears. You remember it with your hear, your soul. You remember, on some level, your first breath of this air, your first feeling of this breeze, the first kiss of sunlight and—yes—of moonlight too. Your first day and night on Earth, here, in this place, as YOU.

>+1 maximum MP (permanent)
>+1 additional, temporary MP whenever you meditate in a place of significance to you, where you have recently attuned
>Current MP: 5/4

You are Ezreal van Houtzmann, yes, but you are also Ezreal Mious. There is a continuity there, unbroken, assured. You changed, but did not die. You shall not die. You open your eyes, and you are home.

“Welcome back,” Endingray greets you, when you return to reclaim your enthusiastic chimera (who, truth be told, nearly topples you with his ‘gentle’ headbutts).

“Thank you,” you say. “I feel… Better.”

“I can tell,” Endingray says simply, raisin a eyebrow. “You’ve changed.”

“We are all changing, all of us, always,” you simply reply, without angst. "That's how we know we're alive."

Laskar Endingray smiles and that and bows is head.

“Wise words.”
>>
>>5873682
Night comes, in due time, as night always does. The elves of Dappulyet wish you and your small fighting force well, offering simple blessings and thanks. You’ve noticed that even now, those who presently live here give you wide berth—you, and Muffins, and your father, and now even your mother and Endingray. It’s as if they fear to get too close, to look too long. Maybe they fear it will be the last time they see you alive. Maybe they feel shamed that outsiders, even non-elves, are doing a duty which they fear to do.

“Think they’ll come back again?” your father asks with a grin and a wink, “or did we give them too bad a whooping last time, wot?”

“I suppose we’ll see,” your mother answers.

Muffins hovers close at your side, tensed as you are tense. Laskar Endingray strings his bow and utters a quiet prayer for luck; based on last night’s performance, he could use it.

What preparations do you make?
>Help Clanirae strengthen the barrier—maybe you can reel them outright?
>Summon an elemental before the enemy arrives [which kind(s)? how many?]
>Infuse an ally with an element [which ally? Which element?]
>Work with your father and Endingray to set up some sort of trap to ensnare an Unseelie
>Write-in
>>
>>5873684
>Summon an elemental before the enemy arrives [which kind(s)? how many?]
A lightning elemental
>Work with your father and Endingray to set up some sort of trap to ensnare an Unseelie
Some sort of contraption to let tge elemental shock targets in a large area
>>
>>5873684
>Help Clanirae strengthen the barrier—maybe you can reel them outright?
Getting knowledge of a fairy/moon barrier would be kino
>>
>>5873684
>Work with your father and Endingray to set up some sort of trap to ensnare an Unseelie
>>
>>5873684
>Help Clanirae strengthen the barrier—maybe you can reel them outright?
>>
>>5873684
>Help Clanirae strengthen the barrier—maybe you can reel them outright?
>>
>>5873684
>Help Clanirae strengthen the barrier—maybe you can reel them outright?

The barrier getting fodderized is a part of why our last fight with the unseelie was so close. We should make sure the barrier can hold this time.
>>
There was a power outage at my house, which turned off my router.

This is me.>>5869190
>>5873232
>>
[Merry Christmas all! I'm hanging with the family, so there will likely be no update today, or else very late.]
>>
>>5873693
>>5873726
>>5873729
>>5873824
>>5873933
>>5874272
You watch the others take up their battle-stances, weapons drawn and spells at the ready. As you do so, a single thought takes primacy over all others: you would rather that they not fight at all. Your mother has mended her dress (like with <Mend> or some Feycraft variant upon the cantrip), but in your mind’s eye you can still see the blood seeping from her side. You have committed yourself to protect this place, to guard the sacred stone and the towering altar it is seated upon, but how much better would it be to protect it without even having to battle?

You ascend the great steps and high shelves of the temple-tower once more. When you reach the top, Clanairae is watching for you, well aware of your approach. To your embarrassment, EVERYONE is watching you, rather quizzically. You are no mountaineer or man of muscle, after all, to ascend quickly or with ease and subtlety; if you still sweated at all, you suspect you would be doing so now, to the point of soaking your robes.

“Huh, haaaa,” you wheeze, holding up a hand to the pale eladrin as you catch your breath. “Hello, Priestess Clanirae”

“Hello, Master Van Houtzmann,” she acknowledges you, polite enough not to laugh—or perhaps simply too worried about what is to come to find mirth in the moment. “Can I help you?”

“I was hoping that I could help YOU, actually,” you explain. “The barrier… Why is it so, well, WEAK?”

“I thought there was little point making a beacon of it again,” Clanirae says bitterly. “They will be coming, and in greater numbers.”

So last night was NOT the bulk of their fighting force? That’s upsetting news, to say the least. All the more reason to erect the barrier properly, and with great expediency.

“Why is the barrier just a beacon, then?” you ask. “I assume it’s normally meant to repel the Unseelie. Why isn’t it working?”
>>
>>5874670
Clanirae’s frown turns into a grimace, ill-matched to her fair fairy features, and she admits: “I’m afraid that’s a combination of circumstances, all chipping away at its power. This early in the season, relatively few of the clan are actually gathered here, to lend their energies. With the Unseelie attacking, those few elves present are understandably ambivalent about leaving the safety of their homes and the defence of their families to lend their aura to this effort instead. That’s normally what would power the barrier until the first new moon, when Princess Miannie would lend us her energies upon her first visitation. The Unseelie must have realized that this was the best window in which to strike, and over the first few attempts they made, I was forced to use much of the magic which was still stored within the moon-stone… And much of my own.”

She places a hand upon your shoulder, and meets your eyes with a small smile.

“Thank you,” she says, “for last night, without you and your family, we could well have lost it.”

You clear your throat, looking away and adjusting your robe to distract yourself from the rising heat in your cheeks and ears.

“Yes, well,” you say. “I wouldn’t thank me just yet. There’s still tonight to worry about… Which is where I was hoping I could help. You might not have the energies of all those other elves, but what about if I lent you mine?”

Priestess Clanirae looks thoughtful at that, turning her eyes skyward towards the waning moon, still half-hidden behind trees.

“It could work,” she admits, “but the amount of aura which would be needed from a single elf, to make up for so many…”

“I can do it,” you assure her. “I can take it.”

She regards you thoughtfully, and then nods. She reaches out, taking your hand in hers with her fine, delicate fingers. A faint humming vibration travels through them and into you, as she guides your hand to the moon-stone—crystalline, iridescent, still faintly luminescent, in its sacred bowl. He bowls has been filled once more with purified and blessed spring-water—as Clanirae explains it—and the holy artefact does not sit at the bottom but rathe floats, improbably, like a leaf. Upon the face of the water it casts a light—a faint silver, which sets only PART of the surface aglow, the mirror image of the moon above.

But it is faint. So faint.

“Very well,” Clanirae says softly. “Follow my lead. Let us begin.”

And then, beautifully, ethereally, she begins to sing. After a moment’s hesitation, you join her. Your voice is less soaring, less practiced, but the word comes easily, and you harmonize almost naturally.
>>
>>5874673
How much MP do you spend on the barrier? The More you spend, the better your chances of repelling more (or all) of the Unseelie.
>1
>2
>3
>4
>5
>6 (chance to fall unconscious)

Do you issue any specific instructions to the others?
>Instruct Myaerlea Mious and Endingray to focus upon protective magic as well, to bolster the barrier further
>Request that they look for an opportunity to take a living captive
>Write-in
>>
>>5874674
>4
Leave 1 for an elemental
>Instruct Myaerlea Mious and Endingray to focus upon protective magic as well, to bolster the barrier further
>>
>>5874674
>3

We need enough left over for, an elemental and to infuse muffins so he can kill fey. And then it would be safe to keep one mp in case we have to heal someone.

>Instruct Myaerlea Mious and Endingray to focus upon protective magic as well, to bolster the barrier further.
>>
>>5874674
>6
>Instruct Myaerlea Mious and Endingray to focus upon protective magic as well, to bolster the barrier further
I feel like barriers are an all or nothing kind of deal
>>
>>5874674
>3
>Instruct Myaerlea Mious and Endingray to focus upon protective magic as well, to bolster the barrier further
>>
>>5874711
>>5874806
>>5874843
>>5874899
[Alright! I'm taking the average of teh suggested mana spend (4) and writing the update! Locked.]
>>
>>5874674
>6 (chance to fall unconscious)

>Request that they look for an opportunity to take a living captive
>>
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Rolled 20, 2, 17, 12, 5, 20, 18, 3 = 97 (8d20)

>>5875037
[Sorry, just a bit late]

>>5875034
You resolve to expend virtually all of your mystical energy to this most important task, retaining just enough o cast an emergency healing spell, to summon an elemental, or to let fly a vlley of <Magic Missiles> if it should come down to it.

>MP: 1/4
>You have acquired a new spell: <Sanctuary>, which allows you to denote a space as ‘sacred’, repelling hostile forces so long as neither you nor anyone within that space attacks

The magic flows from you, through you, and expands outwards from you. Where you and the priestess gingerly clasp hands above the sacred water and shining sliver of the moon-stone, rays of unearthly light radiate forth. They do not simply shine out, though, but cascade down , more like water than conventional radiance. They pour over the chalk-painted surface of the altar, drenching the steps in a brightness beyond whiteness.

That isn’t enough, though, or at least you fear it might not be. If you’re going to repel the Unseelie Fey and KEEP them repelled, you need them to be truly and utterly convinced that the barrier is impregnable. Anything less, and you know they will return, again and again and again, every night… And with enough attempts, enough attacks, they might just win, or at least kill one of your loved ones.

“Endingray! Mother!” you shout down, pulling your voice back from the vibrational harmony with some effort. “We need your help!”

Both the elves grasp instantly what you require. Laskar Endingray seems grateful to return his bow to his back, and to instead select one of his more ornate instruments, which he begins to play. Your mother regards the luminescent temple, and then you, and you think you see pride upon her moonlit features; then she, too, begins to sing a song. She doesn’t sing the same lyrics, but rather a complement to that which Priestess Clanirae still sings… And which you now join.

The music draws to you the curious eyes of dozens of elves, peering out from their homes. They peer through carved windows, or simply part the dense branches and brambles of their homes by magic to create small viewports. None dare step outside their homes, but neither can they resist the pull of the holy hymn and ancestral glow. In that moment, they are nearly as captivated by moonlight as the desperate and carven Unseelie.

And speaking of the Unseelie…

[Rolling, with aid from others. DC 10 to delay and weaken the foes; 12 to repel half of them utterly and weaken the remainder, 15 to repel all of them]
>>
>>5875065
get dumpstered unseelie trash
>>
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>>5875065
>>5875088

Beneath the holy caroling, the sharp-yet-sweet whistling of the woodwind, (and, yes, that’s even your father’s lute, now) you hear a dull hum. It isn’t a musical sound, but the tuneless, terrible thrum of dozens, hundreds of wings beating at once—wings like insects’, more than n those of birds. The Unseelie do not come quietly, not this time, but in a great swarm. In fact, as the shadows rise from the forest and blot out the sun, you think you see their dreadfully-familiar shapes writhe and break apart, as if they have rejected singular, elf-like shapes in favour of each and every one of their number assuming their own sort of… swarm-shape, becoming a cloud of fluttering, thrumming moths or cicadas of some sort. Even in this amorphous cloud, though, you can make out the paired, reflective orbs of those empty, hungry eyes, fixated upon the stone and its light.

“MOONLIGHT!” comes their war-cry, their demand, and their mission-statement, as if from a million tiny throats.

The cloud descends, and you raise your own voice in response—in terror, in defiance. Your friends and family do likewise.

>20: Critical success

The wave of darkness comes crashing down like a tsunami from the sky, but the barrier holds—a sacred <Sanctuary> supported by all your voices and by yours and Clanirae’s aura. The priestess beside you flashes brightly upon impact, and flinches at the recoil; you feel it also, like the battering of hundreds of squirming hailstones. You shudder, but hold firm. Neither of you lower your voices or break from your holy chorus. Thus it is that even as the insectoid mass batters against the immaterial wall of the shrine’s radiance, they can draw no nearer—rather, they ricochet from it, or mass against it, bashing and battering angrily against it in their furious, but fruitless, siege.

Despite this success though, you feel a pang of fear from within. The cloud… Each of these little insects cannot be one of the unseelie, surely, but to form such a swarm there must still be dozens, maybe even a hundred of these antagonistic entities, these dark and unclean fairy-folk. Can you really keep this up all night? Your throat is already horse, and you have precious little energy to reinvigorate the barrier should your <Sanctuary> spell falter for even a moment.
>>
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>>5875104
>20 again: DOUBLE CRITICAL

It is then, however, that our people find hope. From out in the village of Dappulyet, you hear the first unfamiliar voice join your own: that of a child. The young elf steps brazenly through her front door, joining your mother’s complementary chorus. At first her parents watch horrified from the door but then, swallowing their fear, they exit after her and, tentatively, join the song.

One by one, one household after another sets forth, climbing through windows and doors and clasping their hands before their chests. Emboldened by your own courageous example, and by their priestess, they each join in your song or your mothers, to take up instruments—bells, simple string instruments, flutes, or even simply clapping. With each voice that joins your own, the barrier grows wider, the moon-stone shines more brightly, and the Unseelie…

The Unseelie are defeated.

You hear ancient oaths, mostly minced, as the edge of the <Sanctuary> becomes utterly unbearable to the rejected cousins of your kin. The Unseelie sizzle and smoke as if touched by cold iron, and their massing swam-form begins to break apart s more solid, substantial examples of their blighted race are hurled from the border of that sacred space which you have delineated. They land hard upon the turf, dazed and disoriented. Some hack and wheeze as if they will be ill, while others clutch and claw at their body as if scalded. One by one, they scurry and slink away, too weakened to even fly, and too fearful to look back.

As the fey foes flee in shame and terror, humiliated beyond measure, your mother’s people do not stop singing, but rather begin to dance, to frolic and to celebrate with a half-dozen other songs. One bleeds into the next in a beautiful harmony as they circle in astrological orbit around the lunar altar. Eventually, your own voice gives out and you feel your knees tremble with the exertion, and with relief; Clanirae catches you before you fall, though, and buoys you up.

She smiles, a triumphant and uncharacteristically toothy grin, which you cannot help but return. You both burst into laughter, child-like in spite of her age and your propriety, and begin to sing again—a joyful song of hope, and gratitude, and victory.
>>
>>5875105
At some point a clear, white liquor as sweet and smooth as wine and strong as distilled grain-spirits was produced, and not a one of you failed to partake. How could you not? Your victory was absolute!

“They won’t be coming back,” Laskar Endingray comments, with the boastful certainty of the comfortably inebriated.

“No,” your mother agrees, somehow not slurring her words despite her wobbliness, which Endingray and your father both support and offset as best they can. “Thanks to my little Ereal.”

“Little?!” you balk. “I think not!”

“Nothing little about what my boy accomplished tonight, ey?” your father agrees, laughing and snatching through your hat, grasping at your immateriality in an effort to ruffle your hair affectionately.

The failure to do so just makes you all laugh all the louder. You flops down upon Muffins, who grumbles and smacks half-heartedly at you with a paw, only for his snake-head to hiss helplessly as you bury your face in his furry belly.

When you look up, Priestess Clanirae is watching with some amusement, while her returned flock join her in a more solemn prayer to the Goddess of the New Moon.

What will you do?
>Join the prayer circle
>Try to play matchmaker with your parents
>Wander away and attempt to contact Izirina or Costella
>Take Muffins into the woods and go looking for an Unseelie to capture
>Find somewhere to pass out and sleep this off
>Write-in
>>
>>5875107
>Join the prayer circle
poggers job out there fellow elves
>>
>>5875107
>Join the prayer circle
Moonmagic is basedmagic
>>
>>5875107
>Join the prayer circle

Kill unseelie. Behead unseelie. Roundhouse kick unseelie into the concrete. Slam dunk unseelie baby into the trashcan. Crucify filthy unseelie. Defecate in unseelie food. Launch unseelie into the sun. Stir fry unseelie in a wok. Toss unseelie into an active volcano. Judo throw unseelie into a wood chipper. Twist unseelie head off. Report unseelie to the IRS. Karate chop unseelie in half. Curb stomp unseelie. Trap unseelie in quicksand. Crush unseelie in the trash compactor. Liquefy unseelie in a vat of acid. Eat unseelie. Dissect unseelie. Exterminate unseelie in the gas chamber. Stomp unseelie skull with steel toed boots. Cremate unseelie in the oven. Lobotomize unseelie. Mandatory abortion for unseelie. Grind unseelie in the garbage disposal. Drown unseelie in fried chicken grease. Vaporize unseelie with a ray gun. Kick old unseelie down the stairs. Feed unseelie to alligators. Slice unseelie with a katana.
>>
>>5875110
>>5875138
>>5875160
“Hey!” you say as you approach the prayer circle.

The elves look up at you, and you realize with a faint flush that you perhaps were a bit louder than intended. The elven moonshine must be hitting you harder than you’d thought. Luckily, as the hero of the hour—or at least one of them—nobody seems to begrudge you. Clainrae’s bemused is certainly amplified, though, and she raises an elegant finger to her pale lips.

“Sorry,” you mutter. “Uh, do you mind if I join you?”

“Of course not,” the priestess replies, and gestures for you to take your place in the circle.

You do so, keeping Muffins close; this is easier said than done, as his lion-head seeks to sniff and rub against a nearby elfman even as his goat-head tugs and chews at the poor fellow’s tunic. You smile apologetically at the elf who, though visibly nervous around the large, three-headed beast, seems loathe to offend you after all you’ve done, or to delay the ceremony any further. Eventually, you wrangle the chimera and—with a quick casting of <Calm>, get him to settle down.

“He isn’t normally like that,” you murmur, and wonder if it’s because he didn’t get to kill any Unseelie this time around.

Your introspection—and a rather unpleasant flashback to the first battle—are interrupted by Priestess Clanirae’s voice, raised in a soulful, rhythmic prayer, almost a song:

“O miraculous Miannie, Daughter of the radiant Rianniane, we revel under your new moon. Lady of shadows, bearer of the secrets of night, we cherish the cover of your darkness, the subtlety and gentleness of your guiding hand. Humbled by your hallowed mystery, we find solace in your silent whispers of assurance, and of hope. Blessed are we, your children, cradled in the promise of your night: of clear skies, sparkling stars, and of a fresh dawn. Infuse us with your wisdom, that we might reflect upon ourselves and our place in creation. Empower us, to redeem ourselves and the darkness, and to seek the light. We thank thee, O Princess of the New Moon, for the safety of your watchful gaze and the gift of tomorrow.”

“Thank you for tomorrow,” mumble each of the elves around you.

“Thank you,” you hastily add, suppressing a hiccup.

The elves each stand taking Clanirae’s hands gently in their own and lowering their foreheads so that they nearly touch her knuckles. She bows slightly in turn to each, and offers a quick thanks as well, and they go on their way. Finally, it is your turn.

“Uh, thanks,” you say.
>>
>>5875348
You feel a little out-of-your-element. You are a Disciple of the True Fey, of course, but your practice over the last fifteen years has been a lot less… Officious. All True Fey can be thought of as gods of a sort—or demigods, perhaps—but those on Old Maple Hill are rather different from your clan’s patron and her holy mother. They are ancient and ageless, but there’s ancient and there’s ANCIENT. The old spriggan might qualify as a deity by SOME definitions, but he is a decidedly LESSER sort of deity: the spirit of a specific place, tied to a single old tree and the surrounding scenery, not to the MOON, let alone to grand spiritual concepts of rebirth and renewal. Your relationship to him and his court is simply more personal than… THIS.

“You haven’t been keeping up with your worship, then?” Clanirae replies as—tipsy as you are—you blurt this all out in a rambling stream-of-consciousness diatribe.

“Uh,” you say, suddenly self-conscious.

She laughs, and pats your back softly.

“I make no judgement,” she reassures you. “I am not surprised, though. It is my understanding that the humans do not teach their mages to view magic as a part of the Divine, but as something… Separate. Secular.”

You think of your master—former master, maybe?—the Archmage Theresa Henzler. So cold, so imperious and impersonal. Have you ever so much as heard her mention the gods, of ANY pantheon, in anything but dismissive tones, or even in anything other than a passing remark?

“That’s… Probably accurate,” you admit.

Suddenly defensive of your human kin, you add: “Though humans have priests and paladins and such, too!”

“Of course,” Clanirae acknowledges gracefully. “And what of you? Where does your spirit lie?”
>>
>>5875349
You stiffen, suddenly sober. You feel as if you’ve fallen into a trap, but Calnirae only laughs again.

“Master Van Houtzmann, you do not need to justify yourself to me,” she says.

“But you’re a priestess! A… And eladrin, from the MOON!”

(You whisper the last bit, so the others do not hear)

“Yes, and you’ve done a great service for me and for my lady, the Princess Miannie,” she says. “If you did that out of loyalty and faith, that is a wonderful thing. If you did it WITHOUT any sense of religious fealty, though, should we condemn you for kindness and generosity? Should we lambaste you altruism and an open-heart?”

She smiles, and shakes her head.

“I am merely curious as to what it is that you believe, and hold dear.”

You answer, telling Clanirae…
>You are a faithful adherent of the Princess of the New Moon [truth]
>You are a faithful adherent of the Princess of the New Moon [lie]
>You believe in the philosophy of the Bonum Chaoticum—freedom, exploration, veneration of nature—but you neither have nor want a specific patron or master
>You respect the Bonum Chaoticum and the fairy faith, but you are a secularist—an individualist, and an empiricist—like your former master
>It’s none of her business, frankly
>Write-in
>>
>>5875350
>You believe in the philosophy of the Bonum Chaoticum—freedom, exploration, veneration of nature—but you neither have nor want a specific patron or master
I think this is the most accurate
>>
>>5875350
>You believe in the philosophy of the Bonum Chaoticum—freedom, exploration, veneration of nature—but you neither have nor want a specific patron or master
>>
>>5875350
>You are a faithful adherent of the Princess of the New Moon [truth]
>>
>>5875353
>>5875392
>>5875675
“I believe in the Wild Gods, and what they preach in regards to the natural way of things,” you say carefully, “especially the bit about freedom and exploration.”

Clanirae takes your meaning altogether too quickly: “You have no desire for a patron.”

“I’ve had one master,” you reflect. “I don’t think I want another.”

You’re not sure what you expected—proselytization, perhaps, or dismissal, or a comment upon your human blood. Instead, the Priestess of Miannie simply bows her head, her platinum-white hair whining like scattered and refracted moonlight.

“That is your choice,” she says.

“Uh,” you say, “y-yeah. It is.”

She raises her head, and regards you with a deep sympathy.

“It is a difficult path, to travel this world and the next on your own, without a guide,” she says. “Luckily, I think you are worthy of it.”

“…I am?” you ask, unable to hide the surprise from your voice.

She smiles again, and nods. She stretches out a hand, directing your gaze to al the elves around you—free, happy, at peace in prayer and at play.

“I walk with the Princess, a Goddess of the Moon, and yet I could not bring these elves hope of victory. I could shelter them, but not inspire them to step outside that shelter, and to brave the darkness to protect one another. YOU did that, Master Van Houtzmann.”

She steps closer, and to your shock, you feel her softly kiss your cheek—not with any romance in it, or lust, but it warms your face and your heart all the same.

“You have my thanks,” she whispers, “and my gratitude. You have brought me some hope, as well.”

You raise a hand to your cheek and watch as the lunar eladrin floats away, gliding across the grass and down into her half-hidden chamber beneath the sacred stone and its altar. After a moment, you retire to take your own rest as well.

You sleep well, to say the least.
>>
>>5875897
The next few days and nights pass peaceably. By night, you stand guard, but the Unseelie do not return-not for the whole week. You are finally allowed your rest and relaxation, and a chance to properly acclimate to the local culture—YOUR culture, the province of your youth.

he elves of Dappulyet are eager to meet with you and with Endingray, and even humour your father a few songs and boastful retellings of old escapades. As much charm as the aged swashbuckler has, though, it is the subtle and mystical arts which capture the imagination of young elfmaids and elfmen most of all, and the bardic music of their own kind which makes them tap their feet. If Rudolfo Van Houtzmann minds playing second-fiddle to another musician, though, he doesn’t show it.

That isn’t to say he is without worry, however.

With the break in combat, your mother has been busy. Rather, she has MADE herself busy, gathering herbs and mending scrapes and scuffs, attending to religious ceremonies with Priestess Clanirae or to or community cookery with the other elfmaids. When all else fails, and she seems to have a free moment, it always seems as if she’s walking the woods. She makes some time for you, inviting you to the elven activities, but you often catch your father’s longing eyes following Mylaerlea Mious.

(Though not ONLY her, for his eye admittedly wanders quite readily to other fetching elfmaids throughout the glade and grove in her absence)

There’s precious little to do until the New Moon, or until the Unseelie attempt another attack. For your part, you…
>Spend your time with your mother, learning of her own mystical and clerical arts
>Ask Laskar Endingray to teach you an instrument, and to explain the elven bard’s art
>Spend some time with dear old dad, listening to his tall tales and silly songs
>Study the religion of the elves under Clanirae—academically, not with the seal of a close adherent
>See about reequipping from the local merchants and artisans—you have some gold left over, after all
>Seek out rumours of the Unseelie, that you might better understand them
>Write-in
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>>5875898
>Study the religion of the elves under Clanirae—academically, not with the seal of a close adherent
Moon and Beekeeper lore pls
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>>5875898
>Study the religion of the elves under Clanirae—academically, not with the seal of a close adherent
lore time
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I'm >>5875392 btw
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>>5875898
>study under moon elf
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>>5875898
>Study the religion of the elves under Clanirae—academically, not with the seal of a close adherent
>>
>>5876123
>>5876107
>>5875957
>>5875956
>>5875944
[Seems pretty unanimous! I'll post when I get home. Locked!]
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>>5876549
You want to learn more about this world, and especially about your divine progenitors and the ritual which they created. Isn’t that why you came back to Dappulyet in the first place? Now, knowing that a fellow ‘eladrin’ (a concept you’re still unclear on) is here, from THE ACTUAL MOON… Well, how can you ignore this opportunity to study under her?

“I thought you had no need or desire of a master, Master van Houtzmann?” Priestess Clanirae asks, a bit of a teasing tone hidden subtly in the silk of her voice.

“I’m not looking to join your sacred order or anything,” you reply, a touch defensively. “Just… To elarn more about where you come from. Where I come from. About our history.”

You hang on the request for a moment, awaiting a reply which doesn’t come.

“Is… that allowed?” you ask.

Clanirae smiles, and shrugs.

“I am given a great dela of leeway by my lady as to who I may induct into our holy mysteries,” she says. “I think you’ve earned a few answers, don’t you?”

“Yes!” you agree, and then belatedly you add: “Thank you.”

She laughs, and beckons you down into her private sanctorum. It is there that you pass the next few days.

“You seem groggy,” you note, during one of these lessons. “I hope I’m not keeping youa wake?”

“You are,” she admits readily, “ but I don’t mind.”

You glance towards the door, where the dappled sunbeams of Sol above just barely reach the open entrance to this chamber.

“Why DO you sleep during the day?” you ask.

“I am attuned to the cycles of the moon,” she sys. “I draw my energies from it, as you and your kin draw it from Lughala’s sun.”

You frown.

“But we’re… I mean, my mother’s bloodline, this clan, we are ALSO children of Rianniane, aren’t we?”

“And of Lughala,” she replies. “But not as direct in your descent. There are… Layers. Degrees. There are those like the True Fey, direct children and siblings to Lughala and Rianniane…”

As she speaks, she draws two circles-a sun and moon—and then another circle tighta round them.

“Then there are those such as I—the eladrin, or High Elves, who hail from the Heavenly Realms and are attuend to them.”

She draws another circle—further from the first three.

“And then there are those fairy-folk of flesh and blood, here on the Earth… Like your mother’s people.”

One more circle—far away from the others.

“But… Our patron is one of her DAUGHTERS! Shouldn’t we also be nocturnal, then?”
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>>5876612
Now it’s Clanirae’s turn to frown.

“Once upon a time, you were MORE than nocturnal or diurnal, as were my people. We had no need of sleep—we drew upon the Sun by day and the Moon by night. Such was the gift of elves—to be able to refresh ourselves with waking meditation, the trance.”

“What changed?”

“Much,” she replies, with a rueful smile—bittersweet, bemused, and subtly sad. “Hard choices were made. Bonds were broken, and new ones forged. There were betrayals. Recriminations. Punishments. Consequences. Wars test even the trust and love of family. Grief can dim even the light of heaven.”

You narrow your eyes. All this vague riddle-speech peeves your methodical mind, accustomed to the secular and direct teachings of your former master and her Tower. Still, you are no novice to Feycraft, either. You know that the riddle is part of the process—the subtle implication which provokes the student to ask those questions which are most meaningful to THEM.

What, then, will you ask? [Choose three or fewer]
>The origins of the Bonum Chaoticum—where do they come from?
>What bonds were broken? What new ones were forged?
>Who did the True Fey wage war on, and why?
>Where do the Unseelie fit in? What ARE they, exactly?
>What grief can dim the lights of heaven? Does it have to do with the absence of the Mother Goddess of the Moon?
>Where does the Ritual of Attunement fit in?
>Is there a way to make yourself more like the ancient elves? To make others more like them?
>Write-in
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>>5876614
>The origins of the Bonum Chaoticum—where do they come from?
>Where do the Unseelie fit in? What ARE they, exactly?
>Where does the Ritual of Attunement fit in?
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>>5876614
>The origins of the Bonum Chaoticum—where do they come from?
>Where does the Ritual of Attunement fit in?
>Is there a way to make yourself more like the ancient elves? To make others more like them?

These are the three that most directly relate to our research.

Me
>>5874806
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>>5876614
>What bonds were broken? What new ones were forged?
>What grief can dim the lights of heaven? Does it have to do with the absence of the Mother Goddess of the Moon?
>Is there a way to make yourself more like the ancient elves? To make others more like them?
>>