The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #991
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    [Elsewhere]

    Amalungak takes a few steps here and there, looking around and sniffing the air.

    "I believe so. Everything is... sharper? No, not sharper. It's like I see another layer to it. Beyond the physical and obvious. I wonder if this is how hobgoblins feel all the time. They're said to have a way of seeing past the veil." He takes a deep breath. "Everything has... a meaning. Connections, spreading around, explicit and implicit. That's what the spirit world means." He turns to Astrana. "Thank you. Now it's time for my part of the bargain, isn't it? The other half of the money and the letter of introduction. I can advise you on how to deal with Silent Feathers Drifting, as well."

    [Cold Snowy Woods]

    Amalungak returns to his horse and retrieves a satchel from the saddlebag. He opens it and it turns out to contain several long stones and pieces of wood, as well as a long stick as white as the snow. He arranges the wood and stones in a seemingly random pattern and steps back from it.

    "Stand in the middle of those rocks and branches, holding the axe before you. Then tell me what your choice was, why you came to believe it was wrong and how you want to make it the right one. Tell me the truth, but spare none of your feelings on the subject."
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  2. - Top - End - #992
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    [Elsewhere]

    "Just be aware of all the drawbacks that can come with this, keep protection close at hand if you can." Astrana warns. "There is nothing more dangerous than ideas and that was before you gave them the ability to mind-punch you." Her tone is lighthearted but she isn't smiling.
    "Either way, yes. What does this letter of introduction consist of exactly? I would need to know how you interacted with this being in the past."

  3. - Top - End - #993
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    [Cold Snowy Woods]

    Damon does as instructed, stepping into the middle and raising the axe in front of him. Admitting this all was putting a lot of trust in Amalungak.

    And the King in Rags, really.

    The zern takes a breath.

    "I had a choice. And it could play out in many wayss. I ssaw the outcomess - all the wayss in which I didn't ssave my world, becausse sso many timess I feared I'd doom another world in the processs, or lacked the courage to take the path that led to the decision at all." He pauses, scowling, "And I sssaw what happenss when I do make the decision. The other world ssstill survivess. And there I wass, a great and gloriousss dragon!" By the end he's practically spitting out the words.

    He's the wrong Damon.

    But he saw something more, that no other path led to.

    "And I sssaw all of them. All the posssible pathss I could take, all sssnuffed out by Yigoth, a vission of the future that demon forced upon me. Ssso perhapss I am the wrong Damon. But I can make it the right choice if thiss axe takess that wretched creature'ss head!"
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  4. - Top - End - #994
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    [Elsewhere]

    "I certainly will, not to worry. This isn't the first risky mystical ritual I've undergone. My mission requires risks." He then produces the scroll that Astrana has seen before. "The letter is written in the language of the fey. It signifies that you have done a favor to me, and by extension my lord and to treat you as a respected guest. Silent Feathers Drifting has some obligations to him. His hunter commune isn't exactly unwelcoming of guests, but this way you'll be able to speak with him directly. I stayed there for a time and made a deal with him to make my horse stronger, since I knew I'd need it for my journey. I gave him information about a worthy prey in exchange. He's a very simple soul, in truth. Loves the mortal world and its pleasures and concerns himself mostly with the hunt, tests of strength and cunning. His followers are similar."
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  5. - Top - End - #995
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    [Elsewhere]

    'Written in the language of the fey'? She was pretty sure the pixies couldn't even read, but perhaps it wasn't the same kind of fey or only meant for some fey. Pixies weren't your usual kind of fey. Either way, she didn't trust documents she couldn't read.
    Yet she accepts the document, if she could get this translated then it probably wouldn't be much of an issue. "So he's a hunter then. I've read reports of such beings, but never once encountered them myself." She admits as she studies the document, these words really didn't made any sense to her.

    "Hey! What about our reward?!" One of the pixies suddenly exclaims as it flies up towards them.
    "Yes! A reward!" Another agrees as it starts looking around. "What's the reward? Where is it?" The second pixie attempts to rummage around in Amalungak's pocket if he has any, otherwise its simply pulling his cloth as if to see if anything falls out.
    "Candy, we promised you candy." Astrana picks up the bag of candy she had in her pocket and the third pixie immediately flies up to it and snatches it from her hand with a childish giggle and flies off into the forest. Quickly disappearing out of sight.

    "H-hey!" The second pixie exclaims. "That was-" There is a deep serious frown on their face as the pixie points an accusing finger at Astrana and Amalungak. "That was not all you promised! You were supposed to show something!"

    "That's true! We were talking about... chest-bumps and trouser-doodles!"

    "Snakes." The second pixie corrects. "Bii said it was a trouser-snake, like, huuuuge!" And so we learn one of the pixies names.

    Astrana seems mostly frustrated at this point, though she can't really give chase as Bii the pixie thief is already gone. "I'm pretty sure you told us that sort of thing was boring." She remarks dryly. "And you already stole from us, so I'd call us even now."

    "Nooo! Bii stole it, not us! We wanna see bumps and snakes! You promised!" The second pixie insists while giving them puppy eyes.

  6. - Top - End - #996
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    [Elsewhere]

    Despite not understanding the words, Astrana might understand the document's meaning - it does contain a pledge that Amalungak described. As a fey pledge, it's far stronger than any mundane contract. If she does have it translated later, it will be likewise confirmed.

    "Such fey are somewhat common where I'm from and my Lord still holds some sway over them. They're easier to deal with for mortals than many fey. Hunters visit Silent Feathers' lodge to learn, prove themselves and enjoy themselves-" he pauses when the pixie starts arguing. "I'm afraid I don't have anything near as interesting as the snake, but if you take a closer look at my horse, I think you'll find something."
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  7. - Top - End - #997
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    [Elsewhere]

    The pixies first look at the horse and then at one another. "But it's not wearing any clothes!" The second pixie protests. "It's like all those other things around here with their doodles out and swinging. They're huge, which is probably why they're not hiding them." They stroke their chin thoughtfully.

    "Why would you not want to hide a huge doodle?" The other pixie inquires. "They must be pretty, uh, clumsy. Swinging around like that."

    "I think it's since large things think larger is better, so they try to show them off as much as possible. Which would mean that the ones that hide them are ashamed since they're so small." The pixie gestures at Amalungak. "Do you have a really small doodle and that's why you hide it? We gotta know."

  8. - Top - End - #998
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    [Elsewhere]

    Amalungak sighs inwardly, before coming up with an idea. He has something that might distract the pixie...

    "You know, what we've got under our clothes is pretty boring. Ever wonder what we've got under our skins? I have some pictures to show you, if you want. That's not something you've seen before, I bet."

    [Cold Snowy Woods]

    Amalungak rubs the white piece of wood, which begins to smoke. The smoke circles around Damon, surrounding him in an intricate pattern.

    "A cruel trick, if there ever was one. We make our choices as best we can, given what we know. Which one of us wouldn't go back and change something?" he asks. The smoke seems to resonate with his words. "Fey are full of tricks themselves, of course, but this axe needn't be. It can be an instrument of truth, and of revenge. This Yigoth... does he fight? Or does he hide behind minions and lies?"
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  9. - Top - End - #999
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    [Cold Snowy Woods]

    An interesting question.

    "Yigoth, well, Yigoth decided to fuse with a temple. I don't know how or why, but it'ss a living temple now."

    A very weird answer.

    "There iss- there wass no fighting it. I went insside hoping to find a way to bring it down, and wass insstead completely overwhelmed by itss pressence."
    Before you criticise someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  10. - Top - End - #1000
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    [Cold Snowy Woods]

    "Was is, indeed, the key word here," Amalungak says, breathing in and then out, sending the smoke fluttering into a fine mist. "Now the power of the Fairest of Lands will go with you. A living building is not anything unusual in the Faerie. The Gentry of the Fairest of Lands take all sorts of forms, but underneath each of them is a title. Against which one can strike, if they're sufficiently mighty or clever." He traces a curve in the air with the smoking wood. "I will make this axe an extension of your vengeance, Damon. Like moonlight falling into a deep dungeon, it will cut through your enemy's form to strike at its heart. It will have the power of breaking barriers and banishing misdirection, if your determination is enough to give it an edge."
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  11. - Top - End - #1001
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    [Elsewhere]

    The second pixie looks confounded. "Like... pictures?"

    "What kind of pictures? Show me!" This pixie definitely sounds more interested.

    "But they're just pictures, so complex!"

  12. - Top - End - #1002
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    [Elsewhere]

    Amalungak reaches into his horse's bags and produces a worn-out book. It looks to be a rather simple anatomy book, comparing humans and elves. Their build, organs, skeletons, the works.

    "This is what we big people have under our skin," he says. "All the bones, guts and the like."
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  13. - Top - End - #1003
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    [Elsewhere]

    The pixie looks at the sketch for a moment.

    "Are there doodles and bumps inside you too, or are they just on the outside?"

    The second one seems mildly disappointed however. "Fine, whatever. But I will think of something more... later!"

    Astrana eyes the sketches curiously, but has nothing more to add in the presence of the pixies. She might ask about the sketches later though.

  14. - Top - End - #1004
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    [Elsewhere]

    Depending on how much Astrana herself knows about anatomy, she'll see that the sketches are pretty rudimentary. It's something her daughters might find in textbooks someday in the future. Amalungak is just trying to spin it for the pixies, counting on their lack of knowledge on the subject.

    "Oh yes, we've got a lot of bumps and doodles inside. Just look at this," he says, pointing to the lungs. "That's underneath chest bumps. And there's very long doodles down here." Now he's pointing to the intestines.
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  15. - Top - End - #1005
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    [Elsewhere]

    The first pixie strokes its chin and nods as if they were listening to a scholarly lecture. "So you all got double bumps and mega-doodles inside of you. Fascinating!" They exclaim. "May I keep those? I need to explain this to the others!" They gesture at the sketches.

    The second pixie have crossed their arms across their chest and refuses to look. "Hmph."

  16. - Top - End - #1006
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    [Elsewhere]

    Amalungak considers this for a moment, then shrugs. The pixies did help him reach the spirit world, so they can have those sketches.

    "Very well. I hope they prove educational," he says, holding them out for the pixies.
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  17. - Top - End - #1007
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    [Elsewhere]

    The one pixie actually who grabs them but seem to have some trouble lifting the entire thing and only manages to fly a few meters before slowly coming to a stop on the ground and wipe its sweaty brown. "Phew, I'll... take it the rest of the way tomorrow." And the pixie curls up into a ball on top of the sketches and promptly appears to fall asleep.

    "We still got unfinished business though! Remember that!" The other pixie exclaims before flying off, leaving him and Astrana alone.

    "Well... I did warn you of them, didn't I?" Astrana points out as the last pixie has left.

  18. - Top - End - #1008
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    [Elsewhere]

    "You have." Amalungak shrugs. "But a few drawings is a small price to pay, all things considered. If I ever want to study the subject properly, I can find better ones. Maybe I ought to have mentioned the hunting lodge to them... they're not big on modesty there." He chuckles. "Our business here seems to be concluded, so we'd best be on our way."
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  19. - Top - End - #1009
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    [Cold Snowy Woods]

    A title. Interesting. Demons aren't quite the same, but they are meant to have some sort of similar weakness, aren't they?

    Still, an axe that can break barriers and protect him from the deception of his foes sounds very good.

    "My determination? Heheh. When every one of my livess iss on the line? I couldn't be more determined." He grins, raising a hand and letting black flames spread across the axe-head, watching with interest as the moonlight pierces through the flaming darkness. "Fassscinating. Truly a potent weapon."
    Before you criticise someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  20. - Top - End - #1010
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    [Cold Snowy Woods]

    Amalungak focuses on the ritual now, spinning the smoke around Damon and his axe. The weapon will feel heavier in his hands, not physically but with purpose. When he swings it, he can put all of his hatred and vengeance behind it, if the target is correct. Once the process is complete, Amalungak stands in the circle as the piece of wood turns to ah entirely.

    "With that done, there is a task the King needs completed. He has already extended an offer to another who had made deals with him... and who shares a common enemy with you."
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  21. - Top - End - #1011
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    [Cold Snowy Woods]

    Damon breathes out slowly, focusing on his axe and waiting until he's quite sure the ritual is complete before stepping out of the circle.

    Is this enough on its own? Well, maybe, in theory he's now holding the best Anti-Yigoth weapon there is, 'cos boy does he hate that guy, but he's still got to get close enough to use it.

    No more misdirection, no deception, no distractions, those won't work with this thing...but there's still brute force, magic that can toss him around like an insect, and actually finding the temple and getting close enough to it.

    Those are problems that require a different solution though. Now, at least, he should have a way to actually hurt Yigoth. And that's the most important thing right now.

    "Of courssse. Whatever your king dessiress, I'd ssay he'ss bought my ssservicess for quite a while with thiss. I have not worked with otherss for a while, but out of resspect for the giftss given, I sshall do my besst to cooperate. Pleasse, lead on."
    Before you criticise someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  22. - Top - End - #1012
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    [Cold Snowy Woods]

    "The King in Rags needs to secure the service of an old vassal of his," Amalungak explains. "She's an old fey of earth and stone, named Singer in Dimmed Crystal, among other titles. But she didn't take his disappearance well, and he can't go himself for several reasons. His diplomatic corps, meanwhile, consists of me." He shrugs. "Thus he has to secure help in this. He has contacted a woman named Ilpholin, who had worked with him before. She'll be his voice in this matter and he needs you to watch her back, in case things to poorly. Or something unexpected happens. She hates the same demons you do, and the King has repaid her by aiding her in taking the fight to them, just like he has with you."

    [Hunter's Sanctuary]

    Somewhere in the Hunting Grounds, there is a hunting lodge and a community around it. A collection of cabins and huts on the shore of a large lake. It's night there now and its inhabitants are asleep... but their dreams just became that much more uneasy. Someone is here.

    Uphill from the village is a lake, formed by a river flowing down from the mountains into the lake. There's a plateau surrounded by trees, where it pools. In the middle of the pooling river is a shrine of sorts. A simple building, occupying a tiny island and joined to the bank by stepping stones. Even though there's no call or announcement, the inhabitant of the shrine knows he is called.

    A figure emerges from the shrine, leaving behind an elven man and woman, fast asleep. A tall, slender and somewhat androgynous figure, with bronze skin and two pairs of arms. It's humanoid, but its face has a bird-like elongated aspect to it, as do its feet. For a moment, anyway. As the figure walks across the water as if it were solid ground, he shifts. The larger pair of arms becomes wings. The feet become talons and the face takes on a shape that's avian and draconic at once. A plume of bright yellow feathers sprouts from his back. The fey now glides over the water with his wings until he reaches the one he's waiting for. A figure draped in a cloak, with an antlered rat's skull and branches behind him like wings.

    "My Lord," the dragon-eagle fey says, getting down on one knee and folding his wings behind him deferentially. There's just a tiny bit of resentment in the way he says it, that makes it clear how little he cares for addressing the monster before him this way. But also how little he dares to express it.

    "I am in need of your services once again, Silent Feathers Drifting," the King in Rags says. "You must remember what you did before. A woman demanded that I give her a child and you will help me deliver the promise."

    "Dread Lord," Silent Feathers Drifting replies, in the unmistakable tone of a subordinate struggling not to tell his superior he's full of nonsense, "What you ask for... even if I were who I once was, this isn't poss-"

    "Have your centuries cavorting with mortals addled you so that you forget who we are? Who I am? I am a Lord. The woman is fey herself... a different kind, from a different world, but it is enough. The Wyrd will recognize her. And we are in a Nexus of realities, where few things are impossible. Tell me what must be done."

    Silent Feathers Drifting is silent for a moment, but the King in Rags appears to be in no hurry to demand that he speak.

    "You speak true, Fear of the Forgotten, and I will do as you say." He sounds resigned to this now. "I will remember my old titles and gather dreams and memories of lust, passion and birth from my elves. It will take some time-"

    "It wouldn't, if you would just go out and scour some other mortals' dreams. How far you've fallen, Silent Feathers Drifting."

    The other fey goes on, strained now.

    "I will give those dreams to you, so that you may merge your nature with them. But... even if she is fey, as you said, no woman mortal enough to give birth can simply receive your essence and survive. You may be diminished, Unspoken Terror, but you are still one of the Gentry. Still a word of creation spoken before time. It will need to be... diluted by several bodies and drawn out in time. You will need to use the dreams I gave you to create several extensions of yourself. She will lie with them for a day and a night, in a safe place that resonates with your title. And for the Wyrd to even recognize what we're attempting to do, it will need to play out in a very specific way. She will be welcomed and exalted and those aspects of yours will show nothing but a desire to please her. But she must decline to use her authority and readily cater to their desires. Giving up more control as the day and night go on. You... need to tell her to be ready for it, Hunter of Gods."

    The King in Rags' branches sway in an unseen breeze.

    "I will. She knows what she is getting into... or if she doesn't, she won't let it deter her. I admire that, in some way."

    "My King, forgive my boldness, but... why would she want a child with-"

    "It appears to be a matter of politics and heredity among her kin." The King seems willing to indulge his servant's curiosity. "She desires a strong heir. It amuses me, I must admit. And I am curious what she will do with such a child."

    "Of... course, Voice in the Woods. Of course, we don't know what the child will be-"

    "We will find out. You have done your duty once again, Silent Feathers Drifting, and another obligation of yours is fulfilled."

    Without any further words, the King vanishes. Silent Feathers Drifting's form reverts to its previous shape as he dejectedly returns to his shrine.
    Last edited by Morty; 2019-07-26 at 10:24 AM.
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