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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Journey in the Dark

    Journey in the Dark

    A Daftendirekt Production


    And so the story begins...

    OOC

    {table=head]Player | Character | Race | Class | Alignment
    obscurejones | Glon Undarkife | Underfolk | Rogue | True Neutral
    Bohannamut | Nysan | Tiefling | Warblade | Neutral Evil
    Circle of Life | Tsal, the Exiled | Whisper Gnome | Duskblade 1, Crusader 1 | Lawful Neutral
    RaggedAngel | Vassi | Whisper Gnome | Factotum | Chaotic Neutral
    OMG PONIES | Konig der Totten | Desert Dwarf | Dread Necromancer | True Neutral[/table]

    Vassi & Tsal:
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    While their eyes of course can see fine in the darkness, the pair of whisper gnomes are utterly unprepared for the pure, endless, relentless black of the Underdark. Were all the sun and all the stars to vanish simultaneously, the world could not have been made darker than it is down here. As the pair grow accustomed to a world without color or light, they learn just how treacherous a place the Underdark really is. Vassi's vast knowledge allows them to survive on the edible fungi and avoid the poisonous ones, while the pair's talent at combat keeps them alive through the occasional foray with monstrous spiders.

    At long last, you happen upon a small village; twenty buildings or so, all either carved right out of the bedrock or made from rough stone bricks. The windows stare emptily, no curtains nor glass to fill them, no candles lit inside to make them appear homely and welcoming. The only thing more dreary than the town are its inhabitants. They are, surprisingly, your own size. Distant racial cousins perhaps? For though they are of similar size and stature, there the similarities end. The males are bald, one and all. The females are all dark-haired. All of them seem exceptionally hardy, but most notably they are all extremely subdued -- even from your 'silent' point of view.


    Nysan:
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    As Nysan flees for his life from Menzoberranzan, the guards of several houses hot on his heels, he wonders just where he will go. Having rarely left the city, he is not overly familiar with the Underdark as a whole, most especially areas outside Drow territory. However, this is exactly where he finds himself driven as he is pursued relentlessly. Once he is perhaps a day outside Drow territory, he gets the feeling that pursuit has died off, and that he can slacken his pace.

    Nevertheless, he knows that to return now would be tantamount to suicide, and thus continues forward. What passes for road signs in the Underdark are plain to see, and he follows them down a minor trade road to the svirfneblin community of Boldris.


    Konig:
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    The dwarf's most recent experiment had him seeking out some extremely rare ingredients, and he was having a most difficult time finding them. Try as he might, he simply could not find them above ground and even when he ventured into small caves found amounts too small to truly be useful. Thus it was that he found himself strangely drawn to the deep caves, the entrance to the Underdark, to seek out the elusive Headstone Cap mushrooms.

    As luck would have it, he did find them here and there, ever working his way deeper into the labyrinthine darkness. So absorbed in gathering materials for his research was he that he found himself reaching for a particularly large and bulbous tuber just as a smaller, ashen grey hand did likewise. Both Konig and the other figure leap back in surprise, and the dwarf finds himself looking at a small, wiry black-haired gnome dressed in simple pants and tunic, a basket already full of mushrooms gripped in one hand. After brief introductions, the quiet gnome indicates that they have a great store of the fungus back at her village, and that he should follow her there.


    Glon:
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    His most recent job completed, the half-breed finds himself yet again wandering the tunnels haphazardly towards the next settlement, keen on finding more work. His incomplete training as a Darkrunner and freelance work since then has given him a good knowledge of the geography of this region of the Underdark, and thus he knows that the nearest town would be the svirfneblin village of Boldris. It is exceedingly small, with only a single inn that would be called 'tiny' in any respectable city. Nevertheless, he figures it is worth checking out at the very least, moving on to a larger settlement if nothing pans out.


    As you enter the settlement, there is a little whispering and pointing but for the most part they merely look curiously at you for a moment before continuing on their way. When you enter the largest building, an inn advertised simply as "The Rock", you see something even stranger: a human man sits cross-legged near the fireplace, looking large and out of place among all these little people. Although you thought up until now that you had merely been wandering the endless dark labyrinth of the Underdark, you now have a sudden unexplained feeling that you were in fact merely making your way here, to him. Those who arrived first felt compelled to merely sit where they would and wait -- for what, they could not say. However, after no more than an hour had passed the inn now held a varied lot: two whisper gnomes; a bulge-eyed half-breed human of some kind; a horned, tailed tiefling; and an aged white-haired dwarf.

    Once all have arrived, the human man seated by the fire nods once as if confirming an earlier thought, and looks around at the group with strange, luminous eyes that glowed an eerie white-blue. Those strange eyes coupled with the warm, soft glow of the fire somehow put the group at ease, at least enough to sit and listen.

    "Now that you're all here, let me begin," the man intones calmly in a deep, rich voice. "You're here because I need your help. I have waited here some time, calling out to sympathetic minds, those who may have the courage and fortitude to aid me in this my eternal task."

    He pauses for effect, looking around once more at the assorted folk.

    "I have long sought an item that will help me achieve my goal. I must state right now that I cannot tell you what that goal may be; for to reveal it would surely spell its failure and doom. I know not what the item is called, what it looks like, nor specifically what it can do. I know only that it calls to me, ever in the distant recesses of my mind. Having tuned into its melody, I have a feeling that a good place to look for clues of its whereabouts would be southwest of here at Kal-thn, and the abandoned lodging you will find there. Speak now; I wish to have aid be given willingly, and I promise that any aid shall not go unrewarded."

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Vassi looks at the man with the appraising eyes of a pickpocket and the intellectual rigor of a mage. His mind was a closed door to her introspection, however, and his posture gave away no little secrets despite her careful gaze. His face, at the very least, she memorizes for later, running over its curves and lines until she could reproduce it perfectly. It was easier with humans than gnomes; humans had such big, clumsy faces that it was occasionally hard to not remember them.

    After he finishes his speech she thinks a number of things, not the least of which that she should run and hide. She quashes that thought for a time, however, and instead moves to speak, her voice light and her tongue quick. "Allow me to the be the first to demonstrate honest distrust of you and your motives. You are at once too indirect and too straightforward, and if you indeed called us here, as you claim, you have power far enough beyond mine to make me clammy."

    She smiles a bit, her teeth like perfect white tombstones, before continuing. "That said, I love your style and I can't say I could have matched your delivery. I'm fine with helping you out, assuming you have either the magic or the gold to make it worth my-" She glances to the others, Tsal especially, and grins apologetically. "Our time and effort."

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    Gah. I can't wait until next level, when I can start scattering skill points around now that I've put 5 in everything that matters. Until then, untrained Sense Motive: (1d20)[7]
    Last edited by RaggedAngel; 2012-01-04 at 03:48 AM.
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    The man appears to be telling the truth. He merely wants your help, and has no ulterior motives.

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    As he draws near the fire Glon begins to dig through the pouches at his belt. He rummages with a growing frenzy as his feet show no sign of stopping or even of slowing as he draws near the light. It is only as he takes his first step into the glow of the fire that he manages to produce his shaders, throwing them around his head with a sudden twist of his wrist. With a slight sigh of relief he adjusts the strap with his free hand, making sure his eyes are well and truly covered. He has just enough time to breathe a silent prayer that none of the gathered company saw his grotesque eyes before he is drawn into the waiting human's patter.

    When the mysterious figure's monologue draws to a close Glon realizes he is standing at nearly his full height. Something in the man's speech had stirred a desire Glon had barely acknowledged since leaving his home, his need to be part of something greater than himself. Drawing himself back down into his normal slouch he Raises a hand to draw the man's attention and then nods. No need to frighten the other potential employee's with his horrid voice.
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    Tsal glances sideways at Vassi, shaking his head in dismay over her blunt approach. Taking a step closer to the man so his back is slightly ahead of Vassi, Tsal places a hand behind his back and waggles his fingers at her.

    <His words have the ring of truth, but you are right to be distrustful, though for an entirely different reason, I think. He wears the face of a human, but those eyes...>

    Smiling while he holds a silent conversation with Vassi, Tsal runs his eyes around the group as though with only mild interest, then returns his gaze to their apparent benefactor. "As we seem to be trying for directness today, I would first inquire as to what, exactly, you are. I make it a habit to know the people I vow to serve, and knowing their race is usually a large part of that."
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    Default Re: Journey in the Dark

    The man looks in particular at Glon, brows raising slightly in a question. There is something so peculiar about the man, and his eyes were only the start of it. He seemed to be of middle age; his shoulder-length black hair was greying at the temples, and he had crow's feet at the corners of his eyes. Nevertheless, he sat erect and the hands that rested on his knees were strong. His left index finger taps a steady tempo, as if he hears a song that no one else does. He is dressed in simple, unadorned leggings and tunic, forgoing even footwear despite the ever-present chill beneath the earth.

    His strange eyes then move in turn to Tsal, and his lips curl slightly upward in a knowing smile as he listens to the gnome's query.

    "I come from Dal Quor," he states simply, and no more.

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    Konig sits silently as the others hold a discussion, slowly sipping at his beer and wiping away any droplets that land in his sparse beard. While other dwarves would down their pint in a few seconds and cheerily move on to the next, not so with Konig. He scarcely moves a muscle while drinking, and any who look closely notice that his eyes don't even blink.

    "Humph," he says. His jowls flutter slightly as the air passes through them and into his mug, making tiny bubbles in his beer. A mysterious man in an inn provides a mysterious quest and offers a mysterious reward? He had heard fables with a similar beginning many times as a child, and as such has half a mind to get up and leave. However, the voice of his darling Rose resounds in his head; she encourages him to get out of the lab more, to meet new people. While it seems like a loathsome idea, he owes it to his wife to heed her words.

    "S'pose I can help out," he grumbles. Anyhow, he adds in his head, if any of them die, their corpses would be great material for the experiment.
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    Nysan stands quietly hunched by the wall. He takes in the conversation being had with almost furious concentration. His breathing grows heavier as he goes over the implications in his mind; this is just what he needs - a quest! He snaps back to reality at Konig's decleration, intent on making his own.

    "Worry not stranger, I care not for your intent or purpose here, so long as it will not concern me after we part ways."
    As Nysan speaks, a strong scent of cinnamon fills the air, "Though I admit your display of power in bringing us all here is impressive indeed, should I chose to believe it, I find it curious as to why you are so clueless as to what it is you are after. Also, I would like some idea of what we can expect to face. I have no time for fools errands or simple tasks, as I am on the hunt for something suitably epic to bring home with me."

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    Also, do I know anything of Dal Quor or these ruins he speaks of? Some knowledge checks:
    (1d20+2)[17]
    Also, I shall sense motive.

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    Nysan
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    Nysan also has no feeling of ill intent or deception from the man.

    All he has heard about Dal Quor is refences to the "Region of Dreams". Rarely mentioned in conversation, but when it is, it is often referenced as an imaginary place. If somebody is caught daydreaming, one may say "Off in Dal Quor, again?"

    Kal-thn, if his memory serves, used to be duergar territory. They gad a stronghold there, but that was many years ago. Nysan can think of no modern mention of it.

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    "I... see..." Tsal says slowly. Behind his back he flicks his fingers in a curt gesture, a bit of handsign with no particular meaning, but roughly equivalent to attaching a question mark to the end of a string of words.

    "Well then. If you will not tell me of yourself, and you cannot tell us of this thing we search for, perhaps you can tell us more about these ruins, this... 'call-thoon'?" Tsal pronounces the last word clumsily, tongue obviously unaccustomed to the strange accent necessary to speak it. "What dangers lie within? I cannot imagine it would be so easy as simply walking in and looking about, else you would have done so yourself long ago. What do you know of this place that I would not? The more you tell me now, the more likely I am to trust you."

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    Take 10 on Diplomacy (if needed) for a 16, which should bump him up to Friendly if he's indifferent. Just hoping he shares some of his knowledge beforehand, I don't actually intend to be the one who refuses in a party of acceptance.
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    The strange man smiles his little smile again, and then speaks; very quietly this time, as if to himself. After the first line, it almost sounds as if a second voice joins in unison with his.

    Hello darkness, my old friend,
    I've come to talk with you again,
    Because a vision softly creeping,
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
    And the vision that was planted in my brain
    Still remains
    Within the sound of silence.

    After he utters the last syllable, he remains silent for some moments, deep in thought. His fingers drum a slow rhythm on his knee, and then he seems to make up his mind.

    "I have long been in battle with a powerful being. I do not know who or what it is, only that it must be stopped. Its mind is unlike anything I have ever felt, and it takes all my effort to keep it where it is," When he speaks this line, his calm face breaks down for a moment, looking order and harried. "That is why I cannot seek this thing out myself. Likewise, it clouds my vision of distant things, so I confess I have little knowledge of what lies at Kal-thn. I would not at all be surprised if this malicious mind has deployed minions there. So, yes, there is danger involved. Necessary, though, I believe; for this thing may spread its influence far indeed before this is all over..."

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    Tsal shrugs one shoulder in a rolling motion, apprehension and distrust plain on his face. Finally, however, he sighs and nods his head. "If Vassi wishes to help you, I have no desire to be left alone down in these depths. I will accompany her, which I suppose means I will help you. Yes, I accept."
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    Vassi grins and hugs Tsal's arm, blinking at him with large eyes. "Oh, my hero, not abandoning me to the darkness. I don't know whatever I would do without you." Her voice is a lovely mix of earnestness and sarcasm, and she lets him go, laughing. "Come now, you speak as if I'm dragging you into this! You know the old gnomish saying, after all!" She says a few strange words that seem to almost rhyme* before continuing in Common. "And really, we might find something valuable or useful. It's better than wandering in the dark."

    *
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    "Anyone who can call us like that can kill us."
    Last edited by RaggedAngel; 2012-01-06 at 01:30 PM.
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    The man breaks into a genuine smile as Tsal speaks and bows as much as his sitting position allows.

    "My heart sings. I had to have a unanimous decision, otherwise I did not feel I could proceed. I apologize for my manner; let me introduce myself. I am Flynn. I have long been a student of esoterica, and happened upon this subject by complete happenstance. It did not take me long to realize its grave importance, but it did take me quite a long time to realize how far in over my head I'd gotten."

    At this, Flynn pauses for a moment and gestures one of the svirfneblin over. He whispers in the gnome's ear for a few moments, and then pulls out a gold piece of presses it into his hand with a smile. He waits quietly for a few minutes before the gnome man returns with a tray heavy with food, and sets dishes out for everyone.

    "This is the least I can do for bringing you all here like this," Flynn says with another bow of his head. "Rest up, and in the morning I will show you the way."

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    Glon holds back for a moment to see how the others react to the offer. You can learn a lot about a traveling companion by how they approach a free meal. Ravenous hunger might indicate someone less than capable at their chosen profession, starving from lack of profit. Or a poor hunter incapable of fending for themselves in the underground wastes. And then a thought crosses his mind.
    Or maybe I'm just sick of Ration Bars.
    With a silent chuckle at his own poor fortunes, Glon takes a seat near the fire and tucks into a dish of warm non alchemically treated food.
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    "Paying for a night's stay in a rocky old inn?" Konig sighs, "you were serious about that being the least you could do."
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    "'Rocky old inn'? Oh come now, my dear dwarf, do not spit so on the svirfneblins' hospitality. They do not mind my presence because it keeps some of the more unpleasant denizens of the area away, and they really are a charming folk once you get to know them. Yours, they accept by my request."

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    Nysan eyes the food suspiciously, waiting for the others to tuck in before slowly nibbling at his food. When he does so, he eats with sporadic precision - taking bites here and there - savouring every last bite. His attempts at small talk are embarassing and awkward, and he quickly settles for silence whilst he clears his plate.

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    Vassi winks at Konig, giving him a toothy grin. "You really shouldn't spit on a gift that concerns gnomes, if you like good luck. Have you ever heard the saying? A gnome pays you back once for an honest trade, twice for any given aid, and thrice for any insult made. You'd do well to remember that."
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    The group enjoys their meal of unfamiliar svirfneblin cuisine, prepared with strange spices, an abundance of mushrooms, and an unidentifiable meat*. A sour but strong liquor is also available for any interested. After the meal, rooms are prepared for the group -- although 'human-sized' rooms have to be dusted and cleaned out before Nysan and Glon can settle in. The night passes without incident.

    Morning comes, although that fact is most difficult to note here in the eternal darkness. All five adventurers simultaneously hear a pleasant tune tinkling away in their rooms as they awake, and as they make their way one by one out into the common room, they find Flynn seated again by the fire, eyes closed and a peaceful smile on his face as he hums the very tune they heard in their rooms. He rises and sits with the group over a breakfast of similar fare as last night's dinner, eating in silence unless anybody prompts him.

    *
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    Bat, for anybody who cares to ask

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    "A pleasant tune," Tsal remarks, setting his breakfast dishes down and adjusting his gear about his waist and back, preparing for the coming journey. He pays special heed to the overlarge crossbow of oak and steel with silver scrollwork inlay, adjusting it back and forth until it finally rests comfortably in a groove in his back. "It has the ring of an old gnomish song about it, but I can't place my finger on it. What name does it go by down in these depths?"
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    Nysan wolfs down his breakfast in minutes, paying little attention to the conversation surrounding him. I should probably get my strength up, looks like trail rations the next few days.

    He finishes with a sigh, before turning to Flynn. "So when do we leave, and how do we get there?"

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    Konig pokes listlessly at his food, eating it apathetically (as though he has no reason to do so). He had already grown tired of the small talk; he cared little for song titles and only ust a bit more for their quest. There was only one thing he cared about any more; as the others talk, he pulls out his diary and begins to scrawl furiously.
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    "It has no name," Flynn responds. "It is a bit of my own creation, and I feel no need to name it. If it wills, you will know its name in time."

    And on that cryptic note, the party having finished their meal, the man with the luminous eyes leads them out into the unlit street of Boldris and heads south down the road. He instructs the group to follow the tunnel south-southwest until they come to a large underground lake. They would have to pass over it, and then look for the Mushroom Road -- named so for obvious reasons. Flynn tells them that the journey should take no more than a day, wishes them good luck, warns caution, and watches as they depart into the darkness.

    Long after they have disappeared from sight, the man continues watching down the road, shoulders slumped as if under a heavy load. He scratches at his jaw, and then says again to himself:

    "Hello darkness, my old friend,
    I've come to talk with you again..."

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    Vassi is in a bright mood at the beginning of the journey, though she stays fairly quiet; taking in the attitudes and personalities of a group of new people is enough to keep a mind like her's busy, especially since she has the doubly difficult task of both determining her new traveling companion's combat abilities and how easy they will be to swindle.

    In the end she decides to try a new, dangerous technique, something she had used lately to reasonable success; being open and honest. "Tell me," she says, her voice just quiet enough to make you pay attention to her words, "what is it you all do to keep yourselves from getting killed down here? I think it would be nice to know if I'm going to be risking my life with and for you."
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    "Mostly," Tsal says, voice somber and serious. "I try to run faster than everyone else I travel with."

    He lets the statement hang in the air for a long moment, then winks at Vassi and laughs. "I jest. I surround myself with the most competent allies a gnome can hope for, and hope my wits are enough to keep the lot of us alive through thick and thin. It has worked well thus far, if my lack of scars is any indication."
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    Default Re: Journey in the Dark

    Vassi laughs, a light, gentle sound, before spinning on her heels in front of the group, then walking backwards before them. "He's spewing lies and slander, and I must call him out on it. He uses that hideous crossbow contraption," she points it out, "to riddle people with holes. Holes, I may note, wish occasionally burn with more than a crossbow bolt. Not to mention," she winks, "he's nice to listen to to. I, on the other hand, am not nice to listen to, as I try to end fights before the other party knows that they've begun."
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  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Obscurejones's Avatar

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    Apr 2008

    Default Re: Journey in the Dark

    Glon listens carefully to the gnomes banter and nods when Vassi mentions her preferred method of entering and then ending a fight. He speaks as well, albeit quietly.
    Same. A dagger in the back or a bolt between the shoulder blades before they've seen you is best.
    Last edited by Obscurejones; 2012-01-10 at 01:56 AM.
    Chaotic Evil Orc Barbarian as my character of choice since 2002.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Daftendirekt's Avatar

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    Default Re: Journey in the Dark

    The stony monotony of the tunnels passes uneventfully as the group walks through the endless dark, shades of grey passing before their eyes and everything blending together in a colorless blur. Several hours pass before any change in this sameness. Glon notices it first, although not consciously -- a sound in the distance. A steady drip, drip, drip, and the lapping of waves on a shore. The air grows humid, and moss becomes more prevalent as the tunnel starts to have a noticeable downward slope.

    They continue on, when quite suddenly the tunnel widens and the walls disappear off to both sides. Ahead of the group, stretching off into the unseen distance, is a huge lake, its waters black as black can be, its surface so still that it is like a massive mirror -- a mirror with no reflection. The ground has turned sandy beneath their feet, and the air is thick with the scent of wet rot. No visible means of crossing is immediately apparent; just a vast expanse of water as far as they can see.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    RaggedAngel's Avatar

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    Default Re: Journey in the Dark

    Vassi looks at the water for a moment before speaking, her voice very soft and quiet. "I cannot express how little I trust that water. 'A', my friends, is for 'Aboleth', and I'll be damned if I let a giant fish monster or perhaps a swarm of nasty little blind fishes or, hell, mutant underground merfolk to come up out of the depths and rip the flesh off my bones. We need to find a way around this, or we need to turn back." She finishes with a distinctly resolve in her voice.
    LGBTitP

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