Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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  1. Female
  2. Transgender
Genres
Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
Lumina had shared it's host's curiosity about the strange lack of predators among the ruins, but unlike Ratty, it had the ability to find the reason! Well... Sort of anyway, without direct access to whatever the source was it couldn't work out specifics, but there was enough magic in the air for it to analyse and make an educated guess, which it was finally ready to share.
"Magic is... Keeping animals away... Similar to the shroud, but different... Weaker? I am unable to tell where it is produced, likely... Lower down".
Lumina also didn't know why it wasn't affecting humans, perhaps it was breaking down like the golems encountered so far, or it was also possible that the shroud was the one that was broken, either way there was no way currently to reach the source at the moment.
"Perhaps... Don't eat this one?"
Lumina suggested... Was that possibly a joke? The mostly monotone voice made it hard to tell.

"Skilled people are easier to acquire than it might seem".
Lumina commented, producing an image of Lizzy, the stone had a decent opinion of it's host's first follower, first as it had no doubt Ratty would acquire more.
Lizzy was indeed a good example, she was a mage, a title that seemed to hold some level of prestige, and yet she was willing to live out in the forest, even if she DID prefer a good bed, it was also likely that she could know enough about society to know how one would go about acquiring more skilled people to aid the nest, or at least a place to start looking.
Speaking of which the lizard woman in question was currently staring intently at several of the warm stones, while a few of the rats had apparently decided to be helpers and were bringing more that had been laying around, as well as several other seemingly random things, it was mostly the younger ones but notably one of the older rats was watching over things.

"More warmth!"
The rat that had reported the findings declared, able to realise that yes, even while inert the rocks were likely the same thing, and could potentially be somehow made like the others, it may have been simple logic, but was logic nonetheless, notably logic that wouldn't normally be used in the rat society, things like logic and critical thinking were generally saved for survival.

The announcement of something important from the Rat that had brought them to their new home was enough to gather the vast majority of the rats to watch, though it seemed like half of the ones assembled were merely there because everyone else had gathered, with some already getting distracted by food or play.

The response to the transformation was delayed for a second, but not much longer than that as a cacophony of squeaking filled the room, the outermost rats running around in an apparent panic while the innermost group seemed in awe, like they were about a lot of things that Ratty did.
Gradually though calm returned as the closest rats worked out what had happened and excitedly spread the news, and about twenty minutes later the rodents had all gathered again, staring up at ratty... For an explanation perhaps?
 

Fyrra

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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
Truth told, everything about these little revelations was enough to whet the ratling's appetite for archaeology, but not enough to go digging down through enough rubble that Lumina considered the path unreachable as-is. There was a clear cost to such a foray, and while the rat might have been willing to go back to the elven township for a shovel and return to start digging out of stubbornness, again, the effects seemed benign at worst and beneficial at best, though there were too many variables present to rule out the lack of constant stress from danger as a barrier to arresting the development of a normal rat.

This sort of thing was why science probably fell out of favor with society, but was that sarcasm coming from Lumina? Their voice, or however the rat processed it, carried such a dry delivery, that it was hard not to smile. It was so... nostalgic. As for skilled, knowledgeable people to bring back into the jungle, however, the rat deemed Lizzy a terrible example: one does not expect to happen upon the servant of an abusive tyrant and become their rescuer by solving the obvious problem with murder: that was a matter of fortune.

....right?

That smile the rat wore vanished as suddenly as it appeared, a moment after doing so: this was not Earth, and that could very well be a common enough practice that the rat might as well just brace for an entire life of crime, were it not watching a whole mess of interesting developments right before its eyes, like the youngest speaking words in a language they should not know, or really, speaking at all outside of squeakery. With all the ruins and bodies, and apparently walking-corpses about, this could have any number of different implications that the rodent was more or less not interested in tackling at the moment.

It was a lot more complicated than, say, picking up one of the larger dead glow-rocks.

"I told them most of what happened. So, I guess I'll tell the rest," the rat explained to Lizzy, before sitting down and fumbling with the stone in its hands, as it squeaked out the concept of a transformation ritual. In hunting down the big scary thing that was threatening Elf and Goblin, it made them prepare a ritual in return. They want to be friends. But, with that friendship comes visibility. This form makes it easier to talk with them, but it also means helping with their problems... and needing a lot more food to make it through the day. It's also not nearly as agile.

It also feels wrong. I'm trying to find a way to make it feel right before I make a way to share it with everyone. It might take a long time...

Until then, Elf is asking for help in finding nests. They are willing to help me find more rats. Should I show them our old nest?


Of course, that question had to be repeated, since it was a big decision, and lots of voices in the chaos would only drown out the logic everyone had to share... but it wouldn't feel right if this one was the one calling all the shots. Clearly this world was a cruel place, and assisting in the rats' evolution would all but certainly drag them into the affairs of the outside world, but even if the magic at work in the nest was already speeding that development along with little concern for what anyone's feelings about it, everyone should still have a choice in the matter, yes?

The rat closed its eyes again, struggling with the concept of morality. Whatever the weight of this question was, the creature could not grasp it in its entirety like it could a rock. Rocks were tangible, and rough, and... nice, this rat had decided. As for the faded star-stone in particular, the rat-person had no idea where to begin, except by prodding, or in this case, trying to focus its intent on the stone itself and press some sort of mental pressure on it? The idea behind it was that these stones were just out of energy, but surely the solution couldn't be so simple as changing their batteries.

Or... pumping mana into it? Was that how magic worked?

Clearly the rat needed to add courses on magical theory to the lesson plan.
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. One post per day
  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
Writing Levels
  1. Intermediate
  2. Adept
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Female
  2. Transgender
Genres
Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
The reaction to the transformation was seemingly mostly positive, especially with news that it was going to possibly get even better, sure the rats liked being all ratty and such, but few of them were under any illusion that it was an ideal form, all but the youngest was well aware of their dire situation numbers wise, even if they hid their fear so well behind a playful, carefree attitude, the ability to stand on equal footing with humanoids would surely make them strong! Plus... They could play in so many new and interesting ways if they were big!
The fact that they could indeed turn back to rats whenever they wanted was big too, since they would not be losing their ratty forms and would only gain from the equation.

The elders however seemed to be the ones looked to for deciding on whether to aid in finding nests, they had relied on hiding nests in order to survive for so long... But if Ratty, their strange hero trusted these two legged furless folk, then it was worth trusting them as well, and they agreed to share the needed information, the chance of adding more rats to the nest, saving them from danger and bolstering their population, was too good to pass up.

Lumina seemed to assume what Ratty was trying to do and went along with it, helping guide energy into the stone in a controlled amount, keeping alert for any sign of potential danger that might result in charging unknown magical objects.
Fortunately there didn't seem to be any bad response, the stone even lit up briefly... Before returning to normal.
"Strange... Stone is... Charged, bit seems, different?"
Perhaps this stone wasn't a light stone? But something similar, could they have a different purpose perhaps? Though they could just be broken.
 

Fyrra

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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
In the end, either in spite of or because the taller rat-person only shared the least-dire parts of the situation, it looked like the nest was more or less agreeable about trusting the elves: frustrating for somebody looking to find a little resistance to what they were doing, but comforting in the notion that this was either the correct course of action, or close enough. The other rats were smart, this one kept telling itself, and if they could piece the basics together: hopefully not the part about how visibility was more or less inevitable in these ruins and that the choice was really more of a choice between accepting a rapid change as-is or being vocally discontent while it occurred, but they all didn't need to share in this rat's apparent disdain for people.

After all, that could just be what this rodent was here to provide of their own... And, part of the big plans this rodent had for the forest at large did involve uniting the people under it, so cooperation was a major and necessary first-step. Or, third step, considering the uplifting process and the resulting complications thereof? A component! It was a component.

"Seems we are more or less in agreement, about that anyway," the rat spoke up as its internal companion charged up the rock while it observed. Not having a sense for magic made the manipulation thereof tricky, or impossible without Lumina's help, but even with it, what was there to observe besides glowy rock stopped glowing? There could be a number of different things that meant, and for however adaptable the ratling was in situations where flexing and oozing out one's presence to look scarier, or flinging a web of sleep-snot at angry guardsmen, the ins and outs of artifact construction and tampering were a little too high-class for the creature. This could have been the magical equivalent of a fuse being frayed beyond recognition, or some other vital component being only loosely connected, if not outright shattered to the point that only a direct influx of power could keep it going.

This feels familiar.
Did the other ruins not have magic affecting the forest outside from its own subterranean power source?
Perhaps these stones were once connected to a power source below here?
Data inconclusive. Retrying.


Thoughts drifted from the rat to Lumina as it moved from one stone to another, picking out five more rocks at random to test with a magical infusion. The creature wasn't expecting anything, but until it had analysis results from Lumina's first glow-stone the rat wasn't about to treat this like a glutton's fantasy. Not yet, anyway, but another thought was drifting into the ratling's incoherent prodding, and from there, out the open air. What better time to speak of private matters than when there were no outsiders about?

"I suppose fixing up the other ruins should wait until we've made this place not just a viable shelter, but a stable and secure home on top of that. It's good that the kingdoms might turn a blind eye to us out here, but that won't last forever. Not sure if it's just my memories being somber, but I'm expecting their outright ire once we've united everyone here: to form a body where we all thrive, rather than those at the top. I suspect they might object to the practice because it would undermine their authority, or demonstrate that they lack necessity. Or something. An established seat of power's like-minded leaders will work together when their ideology is threatened, so we should be ready when they learn of us. But this also works to our advantage: their concentration of power is top-heavy, and cannot stand on its own without a lot of help."

By the way, since now is not a terrible time to approach this, do you want your presence inside to be known to our closest allies? Or would you prefer to remain hidden? Lizzie might have questions about how we're doing magic if I'm ignorant of the basics. She seems understanding enough and unlikely to betray us even when we start disrupting the social order directly, but we probably shouldn't trust other magic-wielders yet.

After a few more minutes of watching the charged stones, if nothing significant happened, the rat would walk off with a short announcement that it was going to grab its clothes and stuff, and upon returning, get a big stretch in.

"So! What'cha think?"
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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  3. 1-3 posts per week
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Genres
Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
The rats accepting the elves as allies was more of a foregone conclusion, after Ratty's stories they more or less came off as good people, trustworthy and most importantly, owing Ratty a great deal, none of the rats there would consider harming someone they owed something to, so why would the two legged folk?
Admittedly that might be something Ratty would need to work on with them eventually, the rats were currently not anywhere near wary enough to deal with the reality of humanoid society and norms.

"Unable to determine... Without more evidence".
The other ruin they had been in was not only more damaged than the current ones, but had also been heavily looted, and even these ones were cut off from the lower levels, so if there was a power source they wouldn't know... Though the fact that the sun stones were still working after so long certainly implied that there might be something connected to them, or at least that had been connected until very recently, it might be worth inquiring about any recent seismic activity at the next chance.

"That is your choice".
Lumina stated, though seemed to be somewhat pleased at being consulted, despite their best attempts it was hard to hide emotions from someone who you had to talk to via mind connection.
"I do believe the flame slinger can be trusted... And perhaps the Syol as well, however I will suggest taking care of who finds out... I know little of my own nature but it is clear that I would be considered valuable enough to steal with violence, which I am certain would be physically and spiritually traumatic to you".
The problem with how rapidly Ratty had changed and grown was that they were extremely unstable, and until things finished shifting around and Ratty's instincts could take over, Lumina was needed just to keep everything functional, like an extra organ of sorts.
 

Fyrra

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  2. One post per week
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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
Part of the consultation with everyone was determining necessary steps for the nest's development, and finding flaws in reasoning: that everyone present appeared to express benevolence toward a hypothetical friendly actor was probably a good thing in general, it was also more of a problem for another day. So far only the elders of the nearby elf and goblin town had established ties, and while they were probably trustworthy, they also had firsthand knowledge of what a certain foolhardy rat was capable of, and presumably, enough common foes to make anyone feel lonely: Pellinta openly adjusting her plans for a future together wasn't just her kindness on display. The same could be said of Nulyth and her ritual, in regards to the uhar elder's craftiness: now that the shock of being changed again was starting to wear off a little bit, it was a bit easier to understand that this was someone who went out of her way to repay a benefactor the moment she was able.

The thought of payment made the rat shiver: what would a spirit want in return for tampering with the genetics or sapience of a creature? What had this ritual cost Nulyth, beyond a few days' exhaustion? The rat's response could not have been taken lightly, the way it scolded everyone before scurrying away... perhaps an apology was in order? Well, maybe that would be a bit much, but it wouldn't do to simply not work a visit into the schedule, either before or after undertaking a diplomatic mission into wolf territory... which would probably require a significant amount of meat and medicine, come to think of it.

But the point was, education about the dangers of outsiders could wait, even if Lumina's cautious advice on the subject was a much more grave matter.

Ugh, too true. We don't even know the neighbors won't take one look at me and want to perform a vivisection regardless of your presence. The thought of it happening isn't scary... but it isn't pleasant either. But it should be scary. Lots of things should be scary, but aren't. I'unno, does trauma become worse after repeated exposures, or does it lose its intensity? There's still no explanation for what happened to bring me here, but... wait, the flamesinger said reincarnation, right?

You have to be dead to reincarnate.

I... died?


Lizzie's lack of a verbal response to anything was more or less taken in stride at this point: either she was lost in investigating the architecture, or the stuff this rat was talking about out of seemingly nowhere was shocking enough to warrant pause: going on little adventures and researching lost civilizations was quite different from making plans to pick fights with global superpowers, after all, but on top of this, mere moments after mentioning such things, the rat had gone back to lying down on the stone flooring with its other ratty friends, confusion on its face from... something.

This world probably didn't have words to describe 'attention deficit disorder,' but even if it did, that probably wasn't all that was going on here. There's no telling what was normal when it came to reincarnated off-worlders.

Was this even the first time?
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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  2. Multiple posts per week
  3. 1-3 posts per week
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  3. Adaptable
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  2. Transgender
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Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
Lumina seemed perturbed by the question of what spirits might demand as payment for tampering with genetics and sapience, after all Lumina had done that EXTENSIVELY and didn't expect payment... Though it did take a large amount of it's host's magical energy... Then again, judging from what little it could glean so far, basic sustenance was most likely not something it's host viewed as payment for work in a normal situation.
"I... Don't request payments... Maybe spirits are the same?"
Lumina suggested, there was not really any evidence to support it but Lumina hadn't sensed anything untoward in the transformation ritual.

Lumina took a moment to gather it's thoughts before responding, it was pretty sure that such topics had to be handled delicately... Not that Lumina really knew how to do that other than softening the blow perhaps.
"Most likely... However, all things die... perhaps you lived a long and happy life?... And were given a... New life to explore".
It wasn't impossible, though a lot of memories seen so far suggested a less than happy life... They were all early life so maybe there was a chance? Admittedly Lumina could have been a lot more tactful discussing this, but thoughts of mortality were oddly confusing, since Lumina had not really thought heavily of such things, other than keeping it's host alive moment to moment.

Lizzie was indeed completely focused on whatever she was doing, hyper fixated on the now glowing circles she had drawn on a relatively smooth and solid part of the floor with one of the sun stones in the middle, presumably some sort of magic trance thing?
She did however eventually snap out of it and looked around, quickly taking note of her rodent friend and walking over to investigate.
"Umm... I learned some things about the stones... But are you okay? Magic things can wait".
She was worried, that was clear from the tone, even if humanoid faces were still somewhat hard to judge accurately sometimes.
 

Fyrra

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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
That Lumina wasn't the type of entity to request payment for their services sort of made sense, since up until now the rat had been more or less under the impression that they were sharing this body and should probably take care of it for the benefit of one another. This meant no using that dirty finger trick to vomit the pearl back up (not to mention that a being of magic probably had ways to make that ineffective, especially if it was already avoiding the correct exit point in the digestive system), and a little bit of hesitation when it came to leaping headfirst into danger. For... future confrontations. Not the last one: that was an emergency, and the one before that was-

"Mallard!"

The rat pointed a finger up in the air.

"That is the name of a... feathery creature that swims? Huh, peculiar, we cooked him like one but you're supposed to cook something before you bite into it, and we just- oh!" It suddenly looked toward Lizzy, then sat upright. Whatever tangent the ratling had taken seemed less somber than its previous encounter with its own mortality, but even then, there was no pulse on the subject of spirits or death or... something. It was more of a bubbling feeling, like when the water was hot and it hurt to put one's hand inside. The subject still looped back toward death anyway, but it felt less bad. "Just, trying not to think too hard about what it means to be reincarnated, but... I'unno. That ritual, it felt familiar, but alien. Like something similar had happened befo- well I guess I wasn't a rat back then, but- I was angry? Confused? Betrayed? Used? Not sure... Memory suggests I picked my share of fights. So I might still be the same person, but not entirely? Was I just split between Me and New Me? Or Fragmented before that entered into the equation? I don't have a lot to go on and dying to test out a hypothesis would be annoying."

Cue a headshake. Yes, dying is annoying. Anyone else would probably be terrified of the prospect, yet here sat a rat, thinking its closest friend right now would never forgive it for dying, especially without finding a new host as a replacement.

"Point is, I don't remember humans being so BEEFY. Adrenaline can push people to perform great feats, but that guy had a chunk of his chest skewered and was missing several layers of epidermal and dermal flesh, scorched elsewhere, and then there was the poisonberry in his arteries, and he still- oh, there must have been some magical explanation. I'm bad at magic, but maybe I should have eaten h-" Blink. Blink. Awkward tongue roll. Blink. "So that's what disgust feels like. That, and either somehow surviving my own mortality did a number on my sense of self-preservation or I was missing that to begin with. Even just lying around, it's difficult to not continue scheming out things to do another day. We need beds and better lighting if we start bringing more people in, and safety measures for that chasm, and.. I guess it's best to start small: there is no uniting the people of the forest without having the infrastructure to make it worthwhile, and there is no toppling an army if we cannot at least get that far."

"I guess I'll probably lend a hand in cleaning the place up a bit, then we can go look into the local plantlife. Whatever's affecting the wolf population sounds like it could use some medical attention, and probably some food to deter them from looking at us like we're the food. Then there's your fr- former co-workers? Comrades? I may have misjudged their competence when we first met. We need to find them... and not frighten them into giving us information. Last thing we need is them running back home with what they know, which they're probably doing if every settlement here is treating them like fugitives or thieves.. I'unno, maybe the quickest or simplest solution to this problem isn't the best one."

The creature stretched, then stood back up, pulling the bramble-stone from its satchel and looking around for a nice little pool of water to make use of. "I guess we can make a little barricade so you don't get swept into the crevice when we find a little pool for you. Am at a loss on how to do repairs... but hey, we'll get you fixed up too. Somehow." Looking toward Lizzie, the ratling dug its toes against the floor. "You'd think an actual experiment would be the most exciting thing right now, but I think I'm still coming down from the rush of that expedition. Perhaps we could work in a return trip too? The thought of those tools going to waste... ah, I'm rambling, apologies. You've learned things from the stones?"
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

Useless Goddess
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  2. Transgender
Genres
Yuri, Magical Girl, High Fantasy, Sci-fi, Ray-gun Gothic, Mecha, Steam punk. Scifi Apocalyptic,
Lumina felt that it should confirm it's position in Ratty's body, while it had initially been in the stomach, that was so... Undignified, and also detrimental as it would reduce how much Ratty could eat, no Lumina had moved out of there as soon as possible.
"I am currently... Near the heart".
Lumina explained, it had seemed like a good place to be, made it easier to spread magical influence through the whole body too, making things like healing or evolution much easier to do on a limited energy budget.

"Perhaps that was not his real name?.... Humans are fond of things such as false titles and names...".
Lumina didn't really understand that, it just seemed unnecessary to further confuse identification, though Lumina had enjoyed acquiring a name so perhaps having many names was also enjoyable?
Lumina decided that must be it and settled on it as an explanation.

"Umm I'm sorry but reincarnation wasn't my expertise..."
Lizzy seemed sad at being unable to offer any further help on that subject at that moment.
"But... Most magical libraries have at least a few books on the subject! Maybe at some point we can go read them?... Assuming my guild ID still works and all... Apprentices who go missing aren't usually expected to return".
She seemed oddly comfortable with that concept, mage society must have been fairly brutal.

"Well... Most aren't that strong, I know some kinds of magic can do that but as far as I know Mallard had none... I assumed that he was just running on his death gasps... It doesn't seem like he had enough money for anything enchanted but it's possible that was it too".
It sounded like she might not be too sure of how Mallard was so sturdy.
"He did... Have some magical essence Perhaps we can find his body?"
Lumina suggested, after all he had to be somewhere.

The bramble stone pulsed momentarily as Ratty placed it in the pool, it seemed to be okay with the new arrangements.
"Right! The stones... Well I was looking into them and it turns out... They're NOT lights... Well not just lights, they're really potent magical storage devices... They can hold a spell and energy with no seepage which is incredible on it's own... I can also confirm they are receiving a recharge from somewhere, otherwise the lights should have burned out".
 
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  2. One post per week
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Female
  3. Transgender
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I'm open to a lot of things, but my comfort zone usually involves medieval and modern settings, with varying degrees of realism and fantasy. I like to explore mature themes, not for the sake of sex, but just because I like it when a character has to actually stop and weigh their options.
It only took a moment of notice regarding the relocation for the rat's immediate confusion to spark some imagination: the stomach was, in a way, just an acid pit: far from ideal for nesting. As for choosing a location near the heart, the rodent's thoughts immediately formed up a diagram of the human anatomy, focused in on the heart, and then outward, marking veins and arteries along the way. Was this to say that magic was tied to the bloodflow? If so, the heart was perfect: the organ that pumps blood throughout the body would be difficult to outperform for immediate results in manipulation. Were Lumina not a trustworthy sort, this could be worrying... though for a moment the ratling wondered why this spot was chosen and not the pancreas, or some other part of the endocrine system.

Oh, right, the kidneys and liver: organs designed to counteract the effects of toxic activity, and there was also this feeling that seemed to ooze from the internal void that one should not meddle with whore-moans lightly. There was that word again... and no explanation. Again. And just like before, looking inside the depths of this void revealed only murky waters. The ratling could reach in... but again, the thought of losing half a day to the resulting madness just wasn't a thrilling prospect when everyone was supposed to be resting.

Either somebody did something bad when attempting this, or I did personally? Or, perhaps it wasn't bad, but it had far-reaching consequences?

Not having the context to something complicated made sense. It was such a... small, precise thing to study, that the leatherworker's questions about how somebody would know all of this really didn't have an answer beyond 'it was in a book,' unless one became willing to accept that some questionable things were a valid method of observation. Knowing how the ratling felt about consuming human flesh, it tried to broach the thought again, and once more winced in disgust.

It wasn't that the Mallard man was charred and overcooked beyond recognition, or lacking in spices and flavor, or left out to rot and decompose in a damp cavern for several days, though that should be enough to deter all but the most desperate of scavengers. It wasn't even the idea that such a person would then be inside of the ratling: a concept that was just a little on the abstract side.

"....No." This seemed like an emphatic decision. That was a person: this was not up for negotiation. Funnily enough this feeling of not-wanting-to-eat-kin came up once before with another non-rodent. Perhaps that was worth investigating too?

"Don't want to climb down there yet. Don't want to... eat him. Whatever is inside him can feed the river-fish. Or something else."

<Sturdy Human>

The ratling paused, glancing off in the direction of nobody, as if to either address Lumina or strangely bubbly pool of frustrating knowledge without quite being vocal about it: in this case, the latter. One might not be sure whether to first question that it had its own context for why a person could embody such fortitude, or why it took so long to chime in, but either in a sense of frustration or by accident the rodent reached inward... and was greeted with a memory of getting thwacked with a wooden instrument of some sort, sort of like that one dream, but without all the armor and clanging. It hurt... until it suddenly stopped, as though the pain either ceased or converted itself into fuel for something else.

For several minutes the rat stared, a blank expression coloring its face and a little bit of drool seeping down into its lip-fur as it processed just what this memory was. It ended with the visual of forcefully pushing up off the ground, throwing a body off one's back, and violently hammering a fist into some other people's jaws: more evidence for involved in fights, less evidence for happy life.

<Spite>

The feeling oozed its way out of the internal abyss, carrying with it a sense of malevolence, hatred for... something, and the necessary willpower to see to its destruction at the expense of one's self. And as it was understood, the rat shook its head around, trying to shove the feeling back into its origin, or jumble it up, or do something to not be as affected by it. When all was said and done, the creature sat back down, looking visibly less curious and excitable about renovating the ruins and making new friends, and more just unhappy.

It wiped its mouth clean afterward. This wasn't as bad as understanding the... migration? Yet at the same time it felt so much more personal, to the point of explaining so much, not just about the Mallard man, but about the rat as well: a fear-response was indicative of having a sense of self-preservation, and the lack thereof meant that the person in question... didn't care? When mixed with adrenaline, the spite pushes the limits of what a body is capable of, but the resulting crash is exhausting. Perhaps the ratling would have been better off not knowing? Lacking context, it just seemed like an additional source of stress to berserk like that.

"Guild apprentices? You say some worrying things sometimes.." The change in vocal tone was all too telling that something was up, but the way the rat clutched at its forehead could be explained as another sudden headache. "Possibly worthwhile. Don't want to get involved in an organization... doubly so if they're knowledge hoarders, triply if they are creating armaments of a disastrous scale... but I guess, that means there is no choice in the matter if we are to develop the means to render such a thing ineffective." Cue a long groan as the creature flopped onto its back. "...but, maybe not all bad. Do you think there is a limit to how much magic I can ingest? Will doing so inflate me big and round. or will it enhance something else?"

"Either way, the capacity on these rocks exceeds my output. I might take a few more... but until I can recreate or repair them, they're better off here.... but if they aren't receiving the power that they once were, that's indicative of another problem. We would need to repair the source... but, everything is more or less functioning, so perhaps it isn't urgent?" The creature looked toward its reptilian companion, trying to gauge for a response.
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

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Lizzy could tell that Ratty was misunderstanding something, she had a basic idea of how her fearless leader gained new powers, and made sure to clarify what she had meant exactly.
"Umm, it's unlikely that the enchantment is directly applied to Mallard's body, he didn't seem to be a mage of any sort when we were travelling... Most likely he had an enchanted ring or amulet, maybe a belt buckle, anything metal and in contact with his skin, though... Physical enhancement was a rather under used magical school even before taking into account the knowledge needed for enchantment... So if that is what he used it would have been very expensive, beyond what he seemed able to afford".
Lizzy was able to speak confidently here, sure she herself was only a combat mage, but she knew enough about magical culture to have a solid idea of these things, especially enchantment as her roommate had been skilled in that art.

"If Mallard had an item he could not afford... Perhaps he has allies? Or... Someone expecting a return on investment".
Lumina warned, it wasn't the best thought, that the dead man might have someone powerful who would come and look for him, that made either finding his former companions or his body more important, so as to learn anything about this potential future threat, it did seem like recently Ratty was bouncing from one threat to another though.

"Worrying?... I suppose the lack of interest in the wellbeing of apprentices is... Not a great state of affairs... It does seem as if mages see even their own apprentices as potential competition to eliminate sometimes, though it varies between schools of magic, and ritual magic also requires collaboration so people specialising in that are better".
The mage guild sounded like it was a rather unpleasant place, rife with competitiveness and secrecy.
"Well just visiting a library should be okay... Few mages would even notice an apprentice or Journeyman mage reading in the library, actually I think actively searching for knowledge is one of the few times we're likely to be totally left alone".
"Hmm... That is... Hard to say? Magic ingestion like yours is something I have never even heard of before, I know people DO have limits to how much magical energy they can store within themselves, but your case is so unique I can't even begin to tell, it IS suspected that reincarnations have higher limits though so that's worth noting".

Lumina was able to have input here, seeing as they were directly involved in such things.
"Your limits in your small form are highly limited... But I can store any excess, I can store roughly thirty times the total energy you currently possess without problems... There is currently extensive inefficiencies in doing so though".
So Lumina was acting as a battery, once again using their existence as a giant cheat code.

"Well from what i can tell these stones are highly efficient so my best, mostly uneducated guess is... Perhaps a month before they begin to lose power completely? That is just based off the few I have seen though... It could vary wildly but overall I wouldn't say it's urgent".
At this point Lizzy was starting to think she should find some books on enchantment just to be more helpful, since it seems they would be dealing with such things quite often.
 

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Month... Month... a fraction of a season? The rodent had probably heard the word before, but measuring it out directly didn't give the creature the same impression that it gave their companion. If all they had was a fraction of a season before the glow-stones lost their warmth, right when the cold season was supposed to start, this could prove beyond disastrous if left alone, and in the worst case it could render everything the creature had accomplished moot, apart from rescuing the uhar and the syol from disaster. Compared to that, the conditions of some far-away wizard union weren't worth considering beyond a potential excursion for some banditry education and maybe as a potential recruiting pool.

"Nnnn... We already know he has an employer, but I never considered that he'd have a patron. Maybe dumping his body into the ravine was a bad idea. Last thing we need is some sort of tracking enchantment pointing directly here. Which is... unlikely, but we shouldn't play with a non-zero chance."

And so the rodent stood back up, driven once more from its rest by the threat of an impending-but-slow doom, and just a hint of curiosity regarding what could possibly be further underground... only to be hit with the realization that following the waterflow into a nigh-bottomless pit with no way back up and no gravity-reduction magic would be beyond careless.

"Well... we know what to look for now. Can't let these stones lose their juice at the cusp of the cold season, or everyone's in trouble. And, like it or not, we're lacking in supplies, coins, tools, and hands, so... digging deeper's gonna haf'ta wait. But I know another place we can search. You up for another ruin soon?" The creature's ears flicked as it considered the locations of several ruins that had been pointed out to it days ago, pulling its harvesting sickle from its pack. "Not today though. Today we put my bag to use."

And without further explanation, the ratling walked back topside, assuming Lizzy might follow it up there. What daylight remained would be spent foraging for herbs, mushrooms, and roots, both edible and medicinal, and possibly the next day as well if there wasn't a fruitful harvest. From there, the next destination would be an unexplored ruin near a fork in the river and the recent uhar encampment, and amidst all the roots and herbs in the ratling's bag would sit the bramble-core and one of the functional glow-stones, along with two of the presumably-inert ones.

The idea was that, if there was nothing worth utilizing for trade in these ruins, then something else could be used as a backup, but hopefully it wouldn't come to that.
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

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"A month... Is plenty".
Lumina commented after seemingly doing some calculations.
Considering how much had been accomplished so far in such a relatively short time, it really did seem as if a month would be enough time to gather tools, companions and maybe more magic in preparation for fixing the sun stone problem, not to mention was that it was a month until the stones started to die rather than were completely dead, and it seemed as if the stones might be able to be revived with enough energy too... And even if for some reason the stones couldn't be fixed, it wasn't like surviving a winter was something new to the nest, in fact just the new home and seemingly magically increased numbers alone would make this coming winter easier to deal with.

"I doubt he would be tracked at least... Mallard was very paranoid about being followed, at least I think so, he mostly talked about it with the other two, except when he was asking me to check for magic".
It seemed if he did indeed have a patron Mallard was worried about being watched by them, assuming he hadn't just robbed whoever it was that made or owned whatever enchanted object he had, in which case killing him could totally earn some good feelings with the victim!

"Exploring ruins is actually... Fun, scary though, but I've encountered so many scary things since I started travelling that I think I am getting used to it".
Lizzy seemed oddly upbeat considering that statement was anything but normal, she was definitely more confident than when they first met though, their shared adventures so far having had a positive effect on the lizard's confidence, though eating more and starting to return to a healthy appearance was likely helping too, even if she was still lacking in weight... Winter would definitely be uncomfortable.

Though she lacked knowledge of what was edible or not for the most part, Lizzy did point out several non edible plants that supposedly had other used, varying from magic, to medicine (though she didn't know HOW to turn them into medicine exactly) and even one kind of strange purple seed pod that could be used to dye cloth, she was a little hesitant here and the knowledge seemed new, something that was confirmed as she took out the book retrieved from the dead mage they had found to check something.

The ruins were a fair distance away, even leaving in the morning they would arrive as it started to get dark, though the oncoming darkness was perhaps a boon, as it alerted them to the fire of torches held by patrolling Uhar... Though something seemed off, these Uhar were within the fortress, patrolling back and forth with ill fitting and often rusted armour, notably they also had wolves with them! Sickly looking ones at that, who stared almost motionless at the patrolling Uhar.
The scent of death also lingered on the air, perhaps there had been a battle? If so the corpses were somewhere unburied.
 

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Between an entire day of foraging and another of traveling to the ruins, there was much to discuss between the different plants and how medicines worked, and potentially cleaning up after a certain brazen fool's blunder: the rodent was noticeably insulting the dead mallard-man less, the more it seemed to understand of his motivations. Perhaps they were similar, in a way? They both certainly knew how to pick fights they were better off not starting, at least, and when it came to knowing when to quit... well, they had both died once too, right? What an awkward thing to find amusement in.

"Provoking someone powerful and not finishing them off would make anyone familiar with paranoia. If he was worried about scrying on top of that, then we may have another problem on top of everything else. Nothing we've yet to piece together."

"I'm not sure how well what I know about medicine would translate to this world, but the basics are to trust what your body is telling you. There's no avoiding illness completely, but a day or three of resting and drinking lots of water goes a long way and can fix much, because while you're asleep, your brain is able to focus on cleaning up inside. Wounds are trickier because they can get infected and you can't trust everyone you meet to clean the rust off their knives, and alcohol can only do so much to disinfect. Rust getting into your blood is bad. There's also the complication of scales and fur: skin can absorb medicine directly when it's prepared a certain way. which is great for when you can't swallow something and don't want to ingest it the other way. Not sure how scales interact with that, but fur is a definite barrier. But I guess that's a worry for... other rats." - That in-depth lesson on anatomy and physiology was just the headache that kept on giving: trying to reach for context didn't provide any other useful knowledge, like how to diagnose an illness or treat one directly, so it wasn't likely that the rat was a doctor in its previous life, but it was still jarring, how far this hole of information went.

"It feels familiar, and foreign, to explore like this. Not sure how to explain.. But yeah, if you take out the tragic historical backdrop, I guess it is kind of fun. If we don't fall into a ravine or meet an untimely end, we'll have all kinds of wild stories to tell. But I guess, if things continue the way they are, it could be more like the stories will be told, about us. Hopefully word doesn't travel too fast: I'd like to cherish the quiet before people start squeaking their cries of how I'm supposed to be the next Arraness, or something. That's just a lot to take in."

They're a chatty little bugger! But a bit less chatty when confronted with torches and strangers, even if those strangers were in fact the uhar patrolling a ruin.... with a pack of wolves... who were staring at the uhar with almost no motion in their expression... and reeked of death? With each new detail taken in, the rat's enthusiasm for this situation faltered: this world's wolves were big, and their expressions somewhat different from those of the other world's dogs. And, for all that the rat had learned on that subject, it only seemed to have memories of interactions with healthy, docile canines, and knowledge of the existence of a specific disease, with nothing in regards to how to treat it, or how to identify symptoms. That just left the ratling with looking for unusual traits in a creature it'd never seen up close before.

Once again, reality was depressing. The ratling sulked for a good few seconds before remembering that there were problems out in the woods that needed fixing, and faced Lizzy once more.

"We should have brought a shovel, shouldn't we? Well, we aren't hiding from that... might as well announce ourselves."

Drawing closer, the rat-person cleared its throat, summoned up its most obnoxious thought, and shouted out into the darkness with its squeaky, cracking voice, "HEY YOU GUYS DIDN'T TELL ME YOU LIVED HERE AND THAT YOU HAD PUPPIES!! WHAT'S GOING ON?! IS IT OKAY IF WE VISIT?!"
 
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Mahou-Shoujo

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"Oh rust... That is terrifying to have in the blood... I knew one mage who specialised in it actually... I don't like him, his experiments were cruel and harmed many animals".
Well it sounded like at least one mage was currently experimenting in what was basically a method of biological warfare, though the specifics of something like 'rust magic' was likely not so easily discussed, though depending on it's power it might prove a force for good via disarming soldiers.
Assuming Ratty found this mage and... Ate them? Probably not, but maybe stealing his diary would suffice.
If it comes to medicine applied to skin... Well I know there are mixtures created for those with scales, but I have many areas that lack scales so either kind works well for me".

"I suppose... It IS surprisingly fun, the adventures I mean, More fun than my time as a student, still terrifying at many times though... But most importantly it gives me something to do... I'm not so good at not having things to do".
It was probably deeper problems than just boredom or things in that vein but that could be a topic for another time, perhaps when things had calmed down finally.
"Hmm... Probably yeah... Though in the worst case we can likely make something close enough to be of use, shovels are fortunately not very complicated tools".

It seemed that they understood, presumably due to Lumina's assistance, as the Uhar barked a response.
"Intruder! Stranger! Kill it for the lord!"
One who seemed to be some sort of leader declared, it would seem that this group MIGHT not be as friendly as the others met so far, and as several seemed to be taking aim with various ranged weapons it might be time to get a little serious.
 

Fyrra

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As far as rust went, one couldn't really argue too much about the ethics of experiments and progress. Or at least, the ratling couldn't: whatever it knew about brains and whore-moans and nuclei and isotopes probably came from a terrible source, probably one that wasn't just the consumption of a body. Terrible like... what the little rat-child was likely to do to some people who mistreated their animal friends? Or worse.

"Take cover, pick a tree."

The words that left the little rat's mouth were quiet this time, and as the little gears in its head started churning, it just frowned while it scrambled behind the nearest other tree. To know that this was the welcome the Uhar had in store after reuniting was just a blow to the senses: perhaps its reaction to being transformed had taken a toll on their opinion? If so, this was a dramatic spread of information.

Kill it for the lord? - That bubbling feeling returned. These were not friends, because... lords were not friends? One would think announcing one's presence to a bunch of weary-eyed soldiers was a foolish idea, but right now it seemed a lot better than striding up close like they were all buddy-buddy. Look at all those weapons..

Stranger? - Oh wait, they were hostile because they didn't know what happened! Haha, what were the odds of such a misaunderstanding? Of course they'd be a little bit secretive, and hostile, and... not in the spirit of the arraness' request not to turn away guests in the jungle. Really, even a fool should be able to tell that this was unsafe territory, Unfortunately, part of being an emissary was being an even greater fool.

"Okay, so... I know I'm brazen to attack a fortress on my own, but that might upset the uhar, and there's too many of them for me to fend off well enough to keep you safe. But this is either ground-zero for the outbreak, or a place that was hit by it, so turning away isn't the best option..."

Plan! Plan plan plan plan plan plan plan pla-

"I can't talk to wolves, and they aren't likely to listen anyway. But, they aren't difficult to understand, nor are they stupid. A bap on the nose is enough to get them to back off for a moment. Whether they're willing to charge through fire to get a bite depends on a few variables: hunger, desperation, whether they serve these folk out of love, respect, fear, or are being controlled by magic... I know this might get in the way of survival, but if it comes to blows, try not to kill them."

From there, the ratling drew its warhammer, took a deep breath, got its sleep-spell ready, and... shouted once more?

"By the bi, before we come to blows, do you know a Nulyth? I bear a message for her, and if you get in the way of that message being delivered, you run the risk of upsetting one of us! Mostly me! If you upset me I will EAT YOUR LORD!"
 
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Lizzy didn't need to be told twice and ducked behind a thick old tree, the trunk of which quickly had arrows embedded in it's trunk, though just as many broke upon it's bark, it seemed these Uhar at least had rather shoddy weapons, probably junk taken from the ruins they were currently living in.
"Most likely... This is a different group of Uhar".
Lumina pointed out the obvious as the thud of weapons striking wood rang out, only to end moments later as one of the Uhar began shouting something that seemed like orders, though it was hard to tell at such a distance.

"Maybe we can retreat and find another way in?... If these ruins are anything like the others they must have dozens of holes and collapsed parts that could be used. Or we can find the other Uhar? and ask them to mediate?"
Lizzy suggested, sounding only a little panicked, she HAD been training to be a battle mage after all, so some familiarity with battle was to be expected, not to mention she could easily outclass any archer when it came to ranged firepower if she was in the mood to kill, which she was certainly not.

"Maybe I can use fire? Wolves fear flames so if I cast some at the gate it should keep them within until the fire dies out!"
Before Ratty could answer the Uhar's apparent leader shouted out his own response to Ratty.
"Nulyth is weak! All the elders are weak! The lord protected us and rules with power!"
He declared, making the group's allegiances clear... Ish, whoever this lord was seemed like trouble.

Lizzy would respond by firing a bolt of flame at the wooden gate, the bolt splitting into many smaller embers that created a large but contained fire on and around it, effectively trapping the Uhar and their sickly wolves within... Or at least it SHOULD have, as though seemingly unphased the wolves charged through the flames, many of them catching fire without so much as a whimper, had their strange plague driven them mad?
At the same time from within the fortress more troops emerged, walking out of holes in ragged armour, they were skinny and the same off smell was more notable now, this plague whatever it was, seemed to affect the mix of both uhar and taller races now marching towards the gate, likewise not fearing the flames.
"Umm... That's not... How wolves normally act".
Okay NOW Lizzy was panicked, and looked towards Ratty as if asking for permission as she gathered the energies for another, more destructive spell.
 

Fyrra

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"Ugh... call my bluff, why don't you? I don't get it, are they just not eating?"

This was the worst case scenario, it appeared: controlled by magic, and the removal of their fear (and by extension, survival instincts). If both the goblins and their companions reeked of death, and there were unburied bodies all around, then this was nowhere near as dire as it was prepared to get, and the lack of concern for fire specifically was its own set of contradictions. What the pair needed was information, which might have been obtainable if they'd spoken with the syol scouts or the haunted builder, but it was equally obtainable in a harrowing life-or-death field exercise. It just wasn't ideal.

"Yeah, we're leaving. Last thing either of us need is getting cut open and mind-warped here. Put something potent on those archers? Not your full power."

The ratling requested a potshot mostly as a form of covering fire for their retreat, and at a signal, pulled for Lizzy to accompany it as far from the walls as they could get on short notice. Apart from that, a full retreat was out of the question with those wolves about, and avoiding killing any of them like this wasn't likely either. But that sort of thing was fine.

The creature scoured its surroundings for loose rocks, or anything that might suffice as a throwing weapon. If there weren't any, the warhammer would have to suffice whenever a scouting group closed in. If one did. The duo could find another entrance now that the proverbial hornet's nest had been shaken up, and slip in while security was thinned out from taking the bait.. really, whichever opportunity came up first would likely be taken: as much sense as it was to slip out and escape, a more thorough defense-probing was still welcome.
 
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Lizzy could do that, she'd been preparing a rather more painful spell but it was easy to twist it into something more disabling than lethal, especially against archers in poor cover!
"Oh embers scatter and dance, seek and consume the fuel within their hands".
Lizzy declared as a similar shot to her previous one fired out, striking bows and setting them alight, there would be some badly burned hands to be sure but that's what you get for shooting at guests without proper warnings! The archers at least seemed to fear fire though as they flailed around, tossing aside their bows and stamping out flames, come to think of it the Uhar seemed to mostly be wearing cloth over their faces while the other less fearful ones were not.

The wolves followed them for a short while, lacking any sense of stealth or quiet, as well as the usual speed a wolf could reach in the woods, and even stranger, they ended up simply stopping their pursuit after a short while and heading back to the fort, along with the others who had followed them, some were even still alight as they returned, with the Uhar half heartedly patting out their flames.
Perhaps they had decided it wasn't worth chasing them further than the walls.

"I think... We got away...".
Lizzy was surprised at that, she was expecting that such a superior force would have little trouble hunting them down, or at least would try a little harder! Especially as they seemingly did not fear her flames like any normal wolf or soldier generally would.
"Those wolves... They have a miasma about them... It is foul".
Lumina stated, sounding genuinely disgusted, it seemed they didn't like sickly dogs that smelled of rot, the fact that they could suddenly detect things like smell was not lost on Lumina but they decided to ignore it as it seemed complicated and complicated could wait until danger was no longer present.
 
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Fyrra

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Escaping only seemed to fuel Ratty's agitation: a light jog was all it took to escape what should have been an organized force backed by a fearsome predator. Sure, the force hidden inside the fort might have sauntered out through the gate as a flex, but the aborted hunt could imply a number of different things: were they smart enough to know when their defenses were being probed, or just too cowardly to venture past their walls? Were the wolves and footmen on the ground the biological equivalent of automatons? Like... corpses? Or perhaps, with the masks the archers were wearing, this miasma was spreading through the air and into the lungs?

The ratling paced back and forth, putting its warhammer away.

"We'll need something to cover our faces.. Don't wanna breathe in The Rot. You said there might be another way in? Breaking in now might be reckless, but there's no reason not to nose around." Except, perhaps, every reason that that might be a bad idea. But, what was a reckless little rodent supposed to do? Just allow a miasma of disease and death to permeate in the jungle? Even Lumina seemed to want whatever it was cleaned up, and if there was any chance of freeing the wolves from the miasma, the catalyst was in there. As for freeing the others?

Who cares?

Yeah, that's what Bramble would probably have said! And they'd be right!

"Good work, by the by," the ratling said as it suddenly changed direction in its pacing, back in the direction of the ruins, though not the main gate. "We'll see what else is out here, then either find a place to rest, or regroup back in town, or... something else. We'll see what happens."
 
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