The Demigodess and the Bard

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Ottriman

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Curia listened to Lucky's explanation of travel arrangements, and frowned as she looked back at the bartender and the axe warrior. She looked back at Lucky, there were some things she wanted to say.

"You know that even if normally it would only be half a chance, the fact that a monster is known for being there just makes it guaranteed."

Curia stopped frowning, and smiled slightly.

"Lucky I'd rather not rush things just now, I wanted to get myself a drink, or a few dozen. I don't need to report in a year or two if nothing too over the top happens. So I suppose my main question would be, can I challenge that guy over there to a drinking contest before we go?"

She was grinning and the guy had noticed her looking at him, he didn't show too much strong emotion over it, just raised his eyebrows a bit.
 
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CreepyShutIn

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"Well, there's none known to lair or hunt along the path, just a chance they'll wander... Anyway, since we do head out in an hour, what with packing and preparations to make, I suppose there's time if-" He stopped. The thought had just entered his head that, while Curia's alcohol tolerance was probably pretty great, her directly challenging it was likely to result in property damage and general chaos. Also he might have to pay for that.

Then Dhasha came to the rescue, apparently having discerned they were talking about drink and wanting to put in her own two cents. As usual for her, this mainly involved a complaint, but he could work with that. "-if you can stomach the stuff," he finished. "Dhasha says - and this is a very generous translation - that the beer tastes like cat's piss."

While this was entirely true, he neglected to mention that she had a habit of exaggerating and cursing a lot, especially when complaining. Through the Dhasha Filter that probably just meant it was rather sour.
 
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Ottriman

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"Tastes like cat piss? That's not really what she was saying, and besides it's an exaggeration, else no one would come here."

Curia walked over to the warrior, drawing the attention of other bar patrons and the bartender as she did so. He had obviously noticed her looking at him earlier and smiled. Curia took a seat opposed to him.

"So what brings you to my table, miss?"

"Curia, and you are?"

He let out a short laugh.

"I thought you were new when I saw you but now I'm sure of it! I am Tordegg the axe bearer, mightiest and most dashing warrior in all of southern Africa!"

Curia briefly frowned, he was far from the greatest warrior of anything except maybe a neighborhood. And it seemed he had an ego the size of a barn door.

"Hmm, hmm so that's why you carry all these axes, I did wonder about that. What I'm actually here for is something else entirely. Have you had much to drink since coming here?"

This caused a murmur among the onlookers.

"No, not at all, why you asking? I wouldn't turn down a drink if you wanted to get me one."

Curia was practically beaming, this was going to be so fun!

"I challenge you to a drinking contest! Loser pays for the drinks!"

A silence fell upon the bar as the patrons tried to comprehend someone of moderate stature like her challenging Tordegg of all people to a drinking contest.

"Oy, uh you know miss Curia that this isn't a laughing matter, what kind of joke is this? It's clearly obvious I would obliterate you in a drinking contest."

The bar seemed to recover and laughed at the absurd notion of what seemed to be about to transpire.

Curia took Tordeggs right hand and squeezed it, lightly for her but definitely hard enough he could feel a good amount of strength. He flinched and recoiled slightly in surprise.

"Please, just accept and have some fun with me, if you think I don't stand a chance then you sorely underestimate me."

"A-alright then, I warned you miss let's get to it!"

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They first had a few shots of various drinks each, this was the warm up. Then for round two both got poured glasses of beer and had at it with Tordegg starting to show signs of serious drunkenness after his second beer. Curia was still just fine and seemingly unaffected by the alcohol at this point, being what could be described as borderline tipsy. After the fifth beer Tordegg was seemingly at his limits, five beers and five shots was a lot.

Curia herself was solidly tipsy heading for drunk at this point.

The third and final round to be consisted of a large mug of local extra sweet mead, it was around a liter and a half, which Curia happily guzzled down (having a sweet tooth). She had hit her limit after that, not due to her alcohol tolerance but rather due to her stomach, which had actually visibly bloated to an extent. Tordegg just looked as she did that in confused drunken despair, he tried to have some of the mead but fainted after being about one third through the massive mug.

Curia was happy with the result, first time she'd been drinking at a regular bar as opposed to in a feast hall with warriors. The drinks in this place were interesting to be sure.

She stood up slightly unsteadily and happily walked over to Lucky, a faint sloshing could be heard as she walked. Most of the bar was quite shocked and were still processing that shed just drank someone twice her weight under the table with seeming ease.

"Haha! That wash fun! Hmmm did you ever look so good before?"

A drunk and slightly confused Curia looked Lucky over, he looked better then she'd remembered before. She giggled girlishly, her cheeks were flushed and she was swaying slightly.
 
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CreepyShutIn

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"No, she really said that - you'd be surprised the lengths some mortals will go to and she's gone." Well, so much for the 'gentle dissuasion' method. She was already talking to the guy (So that's Tordegg? He's taller in person.) and would probably be drinking in under a minute. He got the feeling nothing could stop that now short of a total refusal of the contest- Nope. He just accepted.

Sighing, Lucky stood up and made his way to the inkeeper. "We're gonna need two rooms for the night," he said quietly, handing over some silver coins. Then he added a few gold pieces. "And this is for the damages. Don't ask, you'll see soon enough." Once he had the keys and the directions he needed, he sat down by the bar with a mug of water and waited for the inevitable resolution.

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Well, the reactions of the patrons were as hilarious as he'd expected. Even knowing that some damage was bound to occur, he couldn't help but chuckle at their stunned and bewildered looks. Some were sputtering incoherently, beyond words in their utter astonishment. Unfortunately for him, he was soon counted among the confused when she started eyeing him up. Oh gods no, he thought, this cannot be happening. Okay, play it cool, Lucky. You can use this.

"Same as always," he replied, giving a charming smile. "Why don't we head upstairs so you can get a closer look?" As he spoke he readied a few spells. At Curia's current apparent level of intoxication she should be much easier to affect with mental compulsions. More advanced ones, like communication and domination, tended to break down as one got truly smashed and the mind simply couldn't process them, but a simple Sleep spell? That would be child's play.

After that he'd have to spend some time purifying the alcohol from her system. He knew a spell for that, too, but judging by the gut she'd built up most of the drink hadn't even been absorbed yet, so he'd have to recast it repeatedly or risk having the super-strong demigoddess wake up with a horrible hangover. Otherwise he'd just cast it now and clear this whole thing up. Alas, the simple solution never seemed to work.
 
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Ottriman

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Curia smiled at his offer, he really did seem better looking than normal! She grabbed Luckys right hand and headed upstairs.

"Hee Hee, since we don't need to be going in an hour, we havs plenty of tiem to have some fun tonight. Just youz and me ~:heart:"

As she was en route one customer was notably staring slack-jawed at her sloshing and heaving gut, before he snapped out of it and hastily left the bar. Curia noticed this and finally looked at her own swollen gut, she let out a small noise of surprise and paused, looking quite embarrassed.

"Oh! Sorry bout that, given how sweet the drinks were I couldn't help myself. 's fine, It should be gone in an hour or so, I got such a short time to have fun with drinks, I gotta make the most of the scant hours while they're there!"

Curia continued taking Lucky upstairs at a more regular walking pace, humming some minor tune. When they got up to the second floor, she looked around to make sure no one was watching them and then whispered in his left ear.

"You got a room fer us? If not then we shouldn't do anything overly lusty. ´S very problemtic-problemasic-prob-problematic."

Curia pulled a bit back and stopped whispering, looking kinda sheepish.

Ugh, that just came out wrong, completely blundered attempt at seduction there. 'S alright tho, I mean if you're up fer it we could do something liek say a simple game or tellin of tales?"
 
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CreepyShutIn

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Lucky leapt on the opportunity. "Now you mention it, I don't actually have a room here," he lied. He'd gotten very good at lying, by necessity. The trick was to tell it with no bells and whistles, same as if it was true. "But I do have plenty of stories. Hundreds, actually. I'm kind of a collector." That was entirely true. He loved stories and had spent much of his life looking for new ones. Or old ones. Or really any tale at all.

He sat down by the wall and patted the floor next to him, inviting her to join him. He only had to keep her entertained for an hour. Child's play. Wouldn't even need magic.

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Over the next hour - and quite a bit after - he told the tale of a hero. It wasn't, perhaps, a traditional heroic tale. There were few true fights, and fewer straight victories. The hero, whom he named Sano Terevin, seemed to stumble through half of it; it was clear he wasn't a trained warrior, just a clever man with minor magic. When he had to fight, he fought with wits, sneaking around his enemies and using their weaknesses or the environment against them.

The tale seemed a small one at first. He stumbled onto some manner of cult and got away with his life, then somehow found himself a fugitive from the law. But over time it became clear that the kingdom he was in had been thoroughly infested, and the only true limit on the cult's power was the need to avoid the gaze of the ageless sorcerer-queen Helia, who could probably have obliterated them all if she found out. Eventually, after more than a month of scrambling to survive and learn more, Sano had proof enough to alert her that the very leaders of her internal security had been compromised and, worse yet, just what this cult composed mostly of the desperate, the deranged and the disillusioned had unknowingly brought about.

After creeping into the palace by what sounded like a combination of careful planning, dumb luck and the sheer power of bluff, combined with a brief chase scene, he was able to reveal the truth: The cult worshipped a 'trinity' of beings that would supposedly bring about a golden age once their plans came to fruition. In truth this trinity was composed of three immortal beings: An intelligent dragon, a rune giant and an Olanite outsider. Each had a grudge against Helia personally, and had devised a ritual to lay waste to her entire kingdom to take their revenge. The cult had served to bring them all they needed, and soon they would strike!

Though he was an outsider, and one who had broken into her palace, the queen listened to him. When he laid out the evidence, she sent her guard to bring those accused for questioning. And when she learned of the threat, she did not hesitate to take action. She immediately teleported herself and those in the room (Sano himself and the captain of her guard, who had captured him just as he entered her chambers) to the island where they were based. Then she tasked them with freeing the captive sacrifices while she confronted the cult's leaders alone.

Naturally, nothing went as planned. Though she did engage two of them, the dragon went to try and rush the ritual. After ensuring the safety of the captives, Sano and the Captain found themselves faced with an ancient and furious dragon whose decades of planning had just crumbled before his eyes on the very cusp of victory. They barely escaped with their lives, and the Captain was injured saving Sano from the dragon's fire. Though they had lived only by what seemed a miracle, still they knew the dragon would find the captives eventually. They could not rest. So they hatched a plan.

Sano, still able to run, caught the dragon's attention and lead him on a chase across half the island. Eventually he lead the drake into a trap, distracting him while the Captain triggered a rockslide in the mountain just over the dragon's head. And so finally, wounded, exhausted, unable to believe they had survived, the newly-minted dragonslayers returned to the kingdom to begin the slow process of rooting out every trace of the cult's corruption.

Lucky painted certain pictures with his words, evident in how he portrayed various characters. The sorcerer-queen, though benevolent and intelligent, had grown complacent in the relative peace of her homeland. She trusted her council too much, never questioning when they claimed all was well, too busy with diplomatic and administrative duties of her own. The Captain of her personal guard was perhaps overly focused on the letter of the law, but a good man devoted to his queen and his people. Most of the cultists, for that matter, were shown sympathetically. They were merely people whose lives had turned hard in the past years, with the true evil being the hierophants who preyed on their vulnerability, turning them into zealots.

And the hero himself? He was just a man. He had some talents, and many allies who helped him along his journey, but he was no great warrior or mighty sorcerer. He had survived by wits and by dumb luck, pitted against forces far beyond him. But even in the face of impossible odds and seemingly unstoppable enemies, he never gave up. With so many lives at stake, he simply could not. That, perhaps, had been his greatest strength.
 
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Ottriman

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Curia sat in silence, enjoying his storytelling, he really was quite good at this, maybe even better than Olaf. Curia reflected on the stories she remembered, none of them featured a hero being triumphant through trickery and sheer luck. Curia thought a bit about when such a hero would make sense, looked at Lucky and noted his name. It all clicked, Curia grinned from ear to ear.

"Oh ho ho ho, are you deceiving me and concealing your exploits behind some name alterations hmm?"

Normally springing into action quickly while sitting on the floor isn't exactly doable, but Curia managed it anyhow, in the blink of an eye she was right up in Luckies face, her breath still smelled of some alcohol (though not to the extent of reeking of it).

"You deceiving me? Because this story sounds almost like one of your exploits concealed in the wrappers of plot."

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Next day the desert sun was high in the air, sending its baleful rays down onto the ground. Most people stayed inside to avoid the heat but a group of three people gathered to make their move across the desert. The three travelers (plus camels) were not the slightest bit bothered by the rays or the burning hot sand.

There were accounts of an unusual amount of disappearances recently along the route they were planning to take, this at the very least didn't bother one of them.

Curia looked around the horizon before looking into the sun to bask in its sheer brightness for a short while. She then looked down again and towards her companions, she grinned and then pointed dramatically out at the desert.

"Off we go! And if any silly obstacle thinks it can claim our lives then clearly it hasn't seen what the likes of US!"

They set off, if no interruptions were to occur they could make it in a few days with the great speed they could cover ground.
 
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CreepyShutIn

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"It's not a lie," Lucky insisted, leaning back a bit and looking away sheepishly. "I mean... not anymore, anyway. When I started running from the cult, I couldn't keep my own name. They were already looking for Lucien Charlemagne. I made up Sano Terevin, but after using it for a while it kinda grew on me. These days it's like a local name. People there call me Sano, and I answer to it. It's also the name the queen gave the award to. After using it for so long I forgot to tell her it wasn't my 'real' name until after the fact. Since then I've made a bit of a habit out of picking up names, titles and nicknames. Speaking of which," he added after a moment's thought, "if anyone calls me something weird and it's not an insult, just roll with it."

He leaned against the wall, looking up thoughtfully. "Anyway, in the aftermath most of the cult was rounded up and imprisoned. Though one of the hierophants - the former Minister of Intelligence - escaped and it took me and the Captain weeks to finally corner him. Worst part is he later escaped during an unrelated crisis. But by now the cult is a memory, and the former Captain is the new Minister of Defense. He went on a spree in the years after that, rooting out corruption and restructuring the entire nation's guard forces to keep that from happening again. The dragon and the giant are both dead, and the Olanite... probably wishes he was dead. Queen Helia can be vindictive sometimes."

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Though his gear was enchanted to provide protection against the rigors of the environment, Lucky made a habit of keeping his hood up and his head down as he trekked across the scorching sands. Partly this was just a good general practice, partly it helped him blend in should they come across anyone. He preferred to blend in wherever he went. Curia, obviously, did not subscribe to this philosophy, as she seemed to prefer to walk around in the harsh desert with only her usual clothes, which had hardly been suitable back in the arctic either. Dhasha, of course, didn't need to blend in. She was a guide and she looked the part.

So far, they hadn't encountered a single living creature besides themselves and their pack camels. There weren't even any birds overhead. To some, this was perfectly normal for the desert, but those people didn't know much about deserts. There was supposed to be a whole ecosystem here. A quiet one, admittedly, and understated, but where were the snakes and scorpions, the birds flying overhead? Lucky exchanged concerned looks with Dhasha. Neither wanted to say it, but both knew the truth: It was far too quiet.
 
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Ottriman

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"Yes, yes it's lying, Lucky listen to me, This is a fairly mild case of deception but that doesn't mean I approve."

She pulled back from Lucky somewhat.

"I will not complain too much right now. But do be warned, if I find you deceiving me or pulling tricks on me I will be furious."

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Sleeps in sand stirred in xir sand burrow and cast out xir senses, three bright minds and some dull ones had just entered the area, Roller of metal had branded Sleeps in sand to carry out a mission. Sleeps in sand was happy with this assignment, just two weeks ago xe had been a dumb animal, but now xe was so much smarter and there was so much to learn from these funny creatures.

Since new folks were coming, it was time to make room! Sleeps in sand rumbled happily, it was it's favourite time, when the conversationalists xe met would be united with xir forever! The midsection thrashed as the conversationalists woke up and misguidedly tried to resist the union, they were quickly silenced as they started melting, their mind wails were shushed by Sleeps in sand as xe took away the pain and embraced them for the merger.

New memories and experiences flooded into Sleeps in sands mind, now they were one.

Now to meet the other 3 potential conversationalists!

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Curia idly swept the area to detect hostile intent for the thirteenth time, still nothing, who knew deserts could be so boring? The worst part was that she couldn't think of any topic of conversation to bring up, especially since whatever made the travelers vanish was still there. For all this group knew talking might well bring its attention towards them!

As the group continued on its way they end up spying a mysterious obelisk in the distance, almost at the edge of sight, it not even seeming certain whether it was real or not. One thing was for certain and that was that the obelisk wouldn't be too far out of the way, and that it seemed very interesting and something that just begged to be investigated.

Curia spotted the obelisk and felt very curious*, the path so far had been completely boring and empty, no monster had materialized and it would only be a short detour. However they had to stay focused to get to their destination and make progress towards her mission. This thing was seemingly a constant nuisance in her mind, it wasn't really important or anything but.....

Curia was very visibly agitated, frequently glancing towards the obelisk.

((* Curia has significant power resistance, how much of her burning curiosity is due to mind affecting effects or not is something ambiguous at the moment.))
 
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CreepyShutIn

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"Okay, noted," Lucky said soothingly, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender. "No lies. Even little ones." He got up and stretched out. "Well, since there's nothing holding us back and no damages to pay for, what say we get moving? We're losing daylight, after all."

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Lucky shaded his eyes to look around. Thanks to his enchanted jacket he had no fear of sunstroke or real blindness or the like, but the glare from the sun could still get on his nerves. Plus, even for a true explorer like him who loved to travel and savor the rich locations, deserts could get famously dull very fast. Over there was some sand, and to the left of that was more sand, and a bit of extra sand on the other side, and a monolith next to that, and then even more sand-

Wait, what?

The traveler wheeled around to look at the structure. It was... well, pretty plain really, if also very ominous. But the mere fact that it was here, miles from anything, set his senses alight. A part of him, which had somehow survived all these years with all its curiosity and eagerness intact, urged him to go take a closer look. Then another part, which had allowed the rest of him to survive all these years, reined him in with the perfectly reasonable argument that it reeked of a trap. A sudden hot sensation on his chest (more so than it already was) sealed the deal: His necklace was acting up. There was a mind-affecting spell.

He looked around at the others. Curia seemed, well, curious, but holding it off. Dhasha, on the other hand, was already leading the camel toward the monolith. "Dhasha, no!" He called out, leaping forward and stretching out his staff to catch her by the arm. "It's a trap!"
 
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Ottriman

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Curia saw Dhasha change her course and heard Luckies cry loud and clear, snapping her out of her musings. Lucky was reaching out with his staff for her, he would miss by a hairsbreadth judging by their current angles, velocities and accelerations. Dhasha would then continue on while Lucky recovered.

That would happen if Curia decided to do nothing, but she leaped into action, kicking up a dust could as she surged through the air right towards Dhasha. The plan was to grab the carpet and wrap her in it briefly before both would fall to the ground, with Curias body breaking the fall. The plan was ruined however when the carpet didn't neatly stop working, but instead wobbled uncontrollably and slowly glided downwards, heading roughly in the direction of the monolith.

The camels were quite confused by what just happened and thus were not doing anything at the moment.

Curia easily subdued the mentally addled dwarf and held her tight, so she'd have to be dragged back after they landed, preferable before whatever trap was there would be sprung. Exactly as she thought that, they were going to land soon and the sand was starting to... fall down!

The obelisk vanished as Curia landed on the extremely unstable sand, tentacles started rising from the sand as it flowed away. Curia found herself falling again as the sand cleared away to reveal a pit with tentacles and a ginormous maw in it.



Well at least the compulsion effect overlying the place was gone. Curia dropped Dhasha off, who promptly swore loudly and fumbled to try and get her crossbow out from the mess. There was no time, the tentacles descended upon them, Curia drew her sword in blur of glinting metal and thrust into the first tentacle to approach, the appendage was as thick as a goliaths chest but she pierced it fairly easily, eliciting a cry of pain from the monster.

The monster retracted the tentacles momentarily and instead hit Curia and Dhasha with a mental thrust that caused Dhasha to drop on the ground in pain while Curia barely felt it. The creature seized the opportunity and rushed forth with all its tentacles, Curia stabbed one but four others clung to her, she was busy wrestling with them as the sixth tentacle grabbed Dhasha.

The creature brought Dhasha up to its maw and opened wide-.
 
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CreepyShutIn

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Things went downhill pretty quickly. Lucky missed his grab, but just as he was rushing in to try again, Curia decided to try and wrestle a magic carpet. Which works great if you can fly with enough strength to oppose its own, but otherwise you're not so much grappling as just hanging on in mid-air. And before he could catch up, suddenly there was a giant sand trap thing (yeah, that about made sense) and Curia was wrestling with several tentacles while the last was about to drop Dhasha down its gullet. Though he raced forward as fast as he could, Lucky knew he wouldn't catch up. But he knew what would.

He chanted a brief verse and thrust his free hand forward, and a sudden gale leapt forth from his palm. Gusting at several dozen kilometers per hour, it hit Dhasha like a hurricane and tossed her away from the maw. Landing on the sand wouldn't be fun, but it wouldn't injure more than her pride. With luck it should also get her out of the reach of those tentacles.

With her safely out of the way, Lucky flew up over the hole in the sand - just out of tentacle range - and drew back his staff. Without wasting time on preamble, he cast one of the stronger spells within it: One to call a series of lightning bolts from the sky, down on his target, which in this case was one massive, open mouth.
 
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Ottriman

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Lightning bolts started raining on the tentacle monster, it thrashed and writhed as arcs danced along its body, throwing up the stench of burnt meat. Curia exploited this opportunity to dash forth and stab the little of its body that was above ground (mostly the big mouth), which drew thick hot blood, and small arcs leaping into her sword.

The creature wildly beat on and struggled with all its might to grab Curia, and managed to do so, the amount and size of tentacles practically engulfed her as it flung her up into the air, towards Lucky.

"Waaaatch ooooout!" Curia shouted mid air as she flailed wildly mid-air.

Meanwhile the wounded and fatigued creature mustered up the power of its mind to firstly protect it itself from electricity, and secondly to teleport its body out of the ground and a short distance away. It looked like a crab whose pincer arms had been replaces with many tentacles and one that had a giant maw structure on top of its body (and a bloated underside belly).

It scuttled away no longer radiating hostile intent, desiring more than anything to survive and letting out little shrieks of fear as it ran away. If they chose to pursue then they could probably catch up to it and kill it.
 
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CreepyShutIn

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"Oh veshoth." Lucky just managed to slip out of the way, leaving Curia to hurtle past him, onwards and upwards into the air. Knowing her, the fall wouldn't hurt, so he looked back down at... at an empty hole where there used to be a beast. And with no signs of excavation. "Teleporter?" He wondered aloud, looking around, and sure enough he spotted it not far away. "We have to stop that thing!" He called out to Curia, now on her way down. "It'll only menace more travelers if we don't!"

And with that he took off after the beast, launching another bolt of lightning. This proved spectacularly ineffective. Unlike the previous reaction, it seemed to simply shrug off the electric assault. A spell? Psionic power? Some kind of adaptive defense? Regardless, it was now clear that avenue was blocked, so he would have to resort to less blunt tactics.

Finding Curia again, he called out to her and cast one of his own spells. He sang a brief verse in a dead language, the words infused with a sense of energy and urgency, that could hasten even the slowest creature's movements, and Curia was not slow. Hopefully she would realize what he was doing and let down her defenses so the spell could get through. Otherwise she might not get to the creature in time.
 
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Ottriman

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Curia hurtled onwards and downwards again for the second time in a fairly short time period, she made a mental not to herself to find some way of getting flight. Hitting the sandy ground was no problem for her, she rolled nicely on landing, causing a small splash of sand but no injury to her person. Not that a belly flop would have hurt much either, but it would have been embarrassing.

She quickly started moving back towards where she'd been flung when she heard Luckies shouts, she picked up the pace as Lucky shot another lightning bolt at it to negligible effect. Lucky turned and seemed to be casting his own spell at her, Curia debated with herself for an instant on whether to lower her resistance or not, but decided to do so since he was trustworthy enough.

She felt it, she sped up significantly and started eating up the distance with ease. Curia was almost a blur, great amounts of sand rushed behind her and the creature barely saw her before she darted upwards like a thunderbolt into a leg joint, crippling a leg. It lashed out at where she was an instant ago, causing further aggravating pain by avoiding the blows and crippling each leg one by one over a few seconds. The creature collapsed onto the ground and all fight was gone from it, Curia even poked an intact tentacle and it only shied away instead of trying anything with her. The creature was breathing in pained gasps and was functionally broadcasting its fear, desperation and exhaustion around itself.

It was kind of like an inexplicable gut feeling, of knowing what it wanted without any words being transmitted, and what it wanted nothing more than to live. It pleaded desperately to not be killed, that it would do anything asked of within its power for the slim chance of survival, it would offer service, knowledge, power, anything.

It didn't seem to be lying about surrender as far as Curia could tell, it only whimpered slightly as she jumped up onto its immobilized body and prodded the side of it's mouth structure.

It then further implied that even if it were to be killed, that that wouldn't be the best result, that if it were to be spared then the missing folk could be brought out unharmed.

Curia was surprised, but also suspicious of this, mind you the chance of getting a bunch of people back safe was great, and if it acted up again then they could always beat it again.

"Hey Lucky! What do you think I think we should at least let it explain and potentially bring back the people, even if we do kill it afterwards!"
 
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CreepyShutIn

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Lucky watched as Curia hesitated and looked at the creature, as if seeing it differently. She didn't seem enthralled. After a moment she spoke up, and he understood: Telepathic contact. "I can't actually hear it," he noted. "My necklace protects me from any mental interference - even basic contact. If we can bring the people back, we might not have to kill it, but it can't be allowed to keep abducting travelers. We'll hear it out, but I don't have your resistance, so I'm keeping this on; you'll have to listen for the both of us." He descended to the ground, watching the creature warily. This could all be a trick...
 
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Ottriman

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Curia listened to Lucky and then nodded, she turned back to the creatures mouth structure and spoke to it.

"Alright I know you understand us, now where are the people you abducted?"

The creature flinched and Curia immediately felt that the people would be coming out of its mouth one by one. Curia frowned as one by one over the following quarter hour the people were brought up and out of its mouth. About 20 travelers total in addition to pack animals and equipment, after that was over the creatures underbelly was no longer bloated but flat against its main body.

The people were breathing but seemingly asleep, covered in a strange mucous that was explained as the thing keeping the asleep people sustained and protected from the elements. They would wake up soonish and the mucous would naturally harden and fall off over the next few days, but would otherwise cling fiercely to them.

Curia had been ferrying people down off the creature as they came, laying them down in the sand next to the creature. After it was all done Curia mused that the creature had displayed some honesty at the very least, actually kinda surprising it would eat them without digesting them come to think of it.

"Before we finally decide whether you get to live or not, we must know, why did you do what you did and would you do it again if we let you go?"

It trembled again, a great impression of rolling metal transforming its being from a dumb beast into an intelligent powerhouse, but only so long as it fulfilled a mission. Rolling Metal wanted it to prevent all traffic through this route for a given amount of time (that would now be over in about a week), failure would result in being turned into a beast again.

The creature was afraid of Curia and Lucky but also felt caught between a rock and a hard place due to the conflicting requirements of them two and Rolling Metal. It begged them to not go onwards through this route at the very least, both for its sake and for not drawing the ire of Rolling Metal onto them.

Curia nodded at the explanation and relayed things to Lucky, and the recently caught up (and irate) Dhasha.

"Now wait a little while, we have to decide what to do."
 
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Ottriman

Guest
Original poster
~ 1 Week Later


Curia and Lucky after some debate managed to agree to let the creature slink away, under the promise to not do this again (or face annihilation). They, along with Dhasha went back to where they came from in order to get the sleeping travelers back to the safety of town. This took several trips because of the simple fact that even if they were fast and Curia was strong, its a bit hard to hold 20 people, if only due to sheer bulk.

Dhasha was quite upset by this turn of events and demanded extra hazard pay, Curia and Lucky relented as this wasn't a typical occurrence. All in all about a week after encountering the creature they finally managed to get to the next city further north up the coast. This city being the city of Nincaneh, a city close to the coast that was split in half by the Chijomai river. Besides for being a fairly typical medium sized city it had a history of strong Kalthir and Heron worship, there is currently a large amount of religious tension going on due to the events of decades past preventing communion.

Dhasha advised Curia and Lucky to tread carefully.

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Curia was not sure whether to frown or smile, on one hand they were finally making progress and this city would no doubt be important in her investigations, on the other hand the religious conflict would be a minefield, especially if her status were to come out.

"While I'd like to settle the conflicts of religion here, things could get very bad if we got mixed into it. I'm honestly torn, we should probably hash our plan out tonight at the hotel we stay in."

Curia mentioned to Lucky as they approached Nincaneh, but not within earshot of anyone in the city itself.

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A priest sitting in his room in the richer parts of Nincaneh frowned, people had made it past the agreed upon border, this most likely meant that the creature had been slain and powerful people intended to cross. This was less than ideal, the activities hadn't been fully covered up yet and them being found out was utterly undesirable.

He handled the crystal snowflake symbol around his neck, not the symbol he usually wore, but one that could be quite handy in redirecting tensions.

Just perfect for it in fact.
 
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CreepyShutIn

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Original poster
"Ah, the twin city of Nincaneh!" Lucky announced grandly as they entered, staff raised in a broad gesture to the city. Then, without turning his head, he slapped away a pickpocket's hand before fishing out a silver piece and flipping it to him. "I always liked this place. It's got some rich history behind it. You know this used to be two cities?" He gestured for Curia to follow and started strolling down the street, along the side of the river Chijomai. "That's why they call it the twin city. Nin and Caneh were rivals on either side of the river, competing for control over it - both for the bounty it brings and the trade barges they could tax. Didn't really fight all that often, but they had some cutthroat politics. Anyway, at one point the cities came under siege from an army of mercenaries and summoned monsters, lead by a cabal of warlocks who wanted something buried at the bottom of the river (long story) and the two cities had formed a temporary pact for defense. But even then, they couldn't decide who was in charge of their alliance, which clearly was the most important thing.

"Luckily there was a group of adventurers opposing the warlocks and one of their members, a priest worshipping Heron and Kalthir, proposed a way to settle it: A consecrated wrestling match under the eyes of his gods. Kalthir would decide who was most capable of leading them, and Heron would grant strength to the wrestler representing that side. It was intended to be the pure, honest and straightforward resolution. And here's where it gets good: After three hours of grappling by the champions, eventually both of them hit the ground at once. The priest declared it a tie, saying it was a sign from the gods that they were as equals, and should join together not just for defense today, but for prosperity tomorrow, and for all days hence. There are records of the stirring speech he gave, but that's the jist of it. And it worked! After the siege was weathered and the warlocks beaten, the cities signed a constitution officially uniting them as Nincaneh.

"If you look across the river now, you'll see there are still signs that these were once two cities." He gestured across to Caneh, on the other side. The architecture was markedly different, with a more angular style and much more sandstone used. "There are still distinct subcultures on either side, and sometimes things get a little tense, but it's mostly at the street level. There haven't been any serious conflicts between the two, since they have a single government. Also a single treasury for all that money they make off the river, which smooths things over a lot. Anyway, those two gods have kind of been patron deities here ever since. There's actually been some tensions, since the Heronites on either side lean towards different sides of the conflict, but they've kept the peace... more or less."
 
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Ottriman

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Original poster
Curia listened to Luckies words as the looked for a place to stay, that guy really was a great storyteller and informant. If she hadn't met him she would probably not have made it nearly as far at this rate, might still be in the arctic. Curia hadn't guessed at first that the city was once two cities until he pointed out the differences, which made sense.

Curia took the time to observe the strength and fighting ability of others around her, particularly the occasional guard they saw. The average fighting ability and strength of people here was higher than in the other places they had been in so far. In addition something was uncomfortable about this city, though she couldn't quite place her finger on what that was.

As they found a reasonably priced hotel she stopped assessing the environment for a bit and slackened her guard for just a little while.

"Well if you were the historian teaching a class history they would come away thinking adventurers did everything in history."

She joked, or half-joked, they really made such big impacts. One almost wondered what the world would do without them. Curias train of thought quickly shifted and she froze. She felt it from one of the visitors in the hotel who was shifting fairly unpredictably, couldn't get a read on the elfs fighting style. More importantly the elf had a faint tingle of hostile intent which helped explain something, the city had a very faint continual aura of hostile intent from all the pent up tension and conflict of the citizens.

After the two had stared at each other for a few seconds, the unidentified elf slinked away. Curia turned to whisper in Luckies ear.

"Be on your guard, this elf feels like an expression of the current of tension underlying the city. Let's not do anything rash besides for that, for now."
 
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