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Chapter Thirteen: Hearts and Darkness

Psychie

Princess Psychie
At the sight of the large angry Felane, Oreleth adds her grin to that of Luna's. "Ah! Our odds coming out of this alive and in one piece have gone up significantly. This is truly a blessing for us. Please tell us, great SkySting, how is it possible for Powerpaw to be here?"
 

Captain Hesperus

On Vacation
Supporter
Otiorin Taletreader

The shock of watching SkySting's magical prowess was swiftly overcome by the joy of seeing Powerpaw joining them. But Otiorin was cautious. If Powerpaw was here, did he also get caught in the trap? What of the others?
"Hullo, Powerpaw. How did you end up here?"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Story time, Gang! Grab a snack and a drink!) =)

Powerpaw gave big, warm, furry hugs to everybody who wanted one (he offered one to Nivirea too whom he did not know half as well as some of the others). He even scooped up Oscar whose tiny form disappeared into those white and black-furred muscles. "Awww, guyz! It's so good ta see ya agains! Lemme tell ya!

Snarling briefly at SkySting, Powerpaw leaned on his maul and began his tale. "After you'se disappeared, Oscar here told us ta run off ta Highwind's church ta dis god-guy, Saint Cuthbert! Den Oscar poofed, too. So we followed his advice an' we went lookin' fer a big, holy human dey call 'Bishop du Blake', da head of da church! So, de knights let us in, tanks ta Ben da Smiffy, and dere he is - Bishop du Blake - all preachin' in fronta people of all races in Highwind! So, we all start quietly wavin' at him ta get his attention. He sees us an' sez, "Adventurers, you are interruptin' me while I am giving the word of the Righteous to da People of da Faith! You haz one sentence ta tell me before I asks you ta politely wait until I is done!" Powerpaw performed a huddling motion. "So, real quick, Mom, me, Ben, Misha, an' Sparkle all put our heads together an' Ben told us what ta say. Since I was da loudest, dey had me shout back.

'Bren an' his team needs yer help right now!!'

"'Take over!"
he told another human holy guy an' away we went inta his study like a hobbit after a pie!

"After a whole buncha talkin' an' castin' an' prayin' an' even moar talkin', dat Shalin elfie-guy showed up wif his daughter, Kath. Den of all people, Kausheya of Bastet showed up too! Den Bishop, Shalin, an' Kausheya start puttin' dere heads together like dey has done dis befoar! All of it goes waaay over my fuzzy head (but not Mom's or Sparkle's or Kath's) an' finally, dey say, 'Pohjola! Dat's it! Dat's where dey gotta be!' An' I sez, 'Well, send me dere already! I gotta help 'em!' and dey sez, 'Hope so! We only has enuff spell for one person so yer it!'"

Powerpaw reached into his large belt pouch and withdrew a wide brown wooden case about as long as a dagger. "So, dey gimme dis and sez, 'Give dis ta Bren, Luna, Bria, Nivirea, or Otiorin! Only a magic-user kin use dese an' only a magic-user can break da curse!' and I sez, 'What curse?' Dat's when dey told me ta shaddup an' git goin'. Time was runnin' short. I chuckles an' sez, 'Does dat mean Time is a dwarfie?' Mom kicked me fer dat one but it wuz worth it!'

Powerpaw mimicked walking around and looking up to something taller than himself. "So den dey put me in front of dis really big tapestry an' dey sez, 'Stand here!' so I does. But dere's wittle Sparkle-face sittin' on a pedestal right beside me. She's all wishin' me luck an' Pyri dis an' Pyri dat an' I haz forgotten, so I'm thinkin', 'Who's Pyri? Shouldn't she be worried about Luna-face?' An' Sparkle's all lookin' at me wif dese big sad eyes. She turned aroun' ta walk away so dey could cast da spell, but I looked at alla da casters an' dey looked busy. So I grabbed Sparkle-face by da neck an' stuffed her in my pouch here," he pointed to his second belt pouch, "an' den I told her ta shaddup."

Powerpaw settled into a battle stance. "So den dey asks if I iz ready an' I sez sumthin like 'KILL!' and dey sez, 'Dat means "yes"' an' dey all cast dis big magic spell on da Saint Cuthbert tapestry. An' POW! What happens?" Powerpaw stabbed his claw straight up at SkySting. "DIS big snakey-face comes stickin' her big schnoz through it from da other side! Everybuddy in da room just flipped out! We don't haz dragons in Shamballah, so I thought it wuz Bastet's worst foe evar - Set himself!!"

Bria, her hands clasped, asked, "What did you do?"

"Whaddya think I did? I SMACKED HER RIGHT IN DAAA FAAAACE!!" Mightily, he swung his maul in a full circle. "WHAM!!"

"Now 'tis my turn to speak, half-wit!" SkySting interjected. She placed her claw on her chest and began to tell her side of things. "I stormed into the Goblin chief's camp with every intent to seal mine debt with thee. 'A curse for a curse', I say! From the mutterings of the goblinoids who had trodden upon my bridge-form for years upon years, I had learned that there was a Pinnacle of Power nearby and a spatial wall between the dreaming worlds separating cold-hearted Pohjola and a city of hobgoblins somewhere on shining Sharseya. Restored to full life and flesh, I blew through the goblins's hovels like the horrifying hurricane that I am and as they fled before me, I claimed their Pinnacle of Power, dedicated to foul Maglubiyet, the thrice-ugly god of goblins."

Powerpaw shook his head. "Boy, you'se speaks really funnies..."

"Thou art one to talk!" SkySting continued. "Dispelling Maglubiyet's hold and claiming the pinnacle for myself, I was in the middle of adjusting the core of its mystical enchantments to mine liking when a mortal-born Gate spell formed right before mine eyes! I but peeked in..."

Powerpaw swung again. "An' dats when I smacked her!"

"Cease thine interrupting, dimwit! ...And was immediately, but harmlessly shown mine way out!" SkySting's irritated growl echoed all over the cavern. "I reached in, this time with mine claw..."

"...an' I chomped it!" Powerpaw roared in victory.

SkySting growled again wiggling the offended claw in mid-air. "And this thing was attached to it! By his very teeth! He dared bite me!"

"Well, you'se asked fer it!"

"Thou art lucky to be alive, simpleton! Were it not for the faintest of dragon-scents upon thine person, I might have slain thee!"

"Oh yeah!" Powerpaw finally remembered. He hustled up to Luna and reached into his pouch. There, upon a small bed of leather-lined pouches, lay Sparkle. The purple-scaled pseudo-dragoness was unconscious with the strangest of expressions upon her aged features. She seemed as if she had fainted. Luna had only seen this happen to Sparkle in the rarest of times. It only tended to happen when she was surprised beyond belief, as had happened in younger times when she had adventured as Luna's father's familiar. "Here ya go!"

SkySting slithered about and pointed at Sparkle. "There! T'was the presence of a true dragon mine nose did detect." She scoffed at Powerpaw. "And so, dullard, instead of sending thine soul to whatever nether realms thou shalt surely speedily depart to, I placed thee inside mine Cloud of Grasping and brought thee here. Fortunate for thee that these are friends of thine, else thine life would be forfeit!"

"Uh, whut?"

SkySting rolled her eyes. "Fools! Shall I never be free of them?"

"Uh, what fools?" Powerpaw looked around. "Anyways, I got da way outta yer curse right here! Just read these stones in da right order!" Powerpaw offered the sturdy box out to any of the Wayward Wanderers who were curious about it. About that time, Oscar appeared out of Powerpaw's fur, crawled down his arm, sat down on his forearm, and stared at the box. "Curious. This container does not appear to be of Averlundian make."

"Naw," Powerpaw licked his nose. "Master Kausheya brought it. It's from Rhumia! So's what's inside, you'll sees!"

This got even SkySting's attention. She peered down, her eyes glimmering like jewels.

What do the Wayward Wanderers do?
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
"Oh yeah!" Powerpaw finally remembered. He hustled up to Luna and reached into his pouch. There, upon a small bed of leather-lined pouches, lay Sparkle. The purple-scaled pseudo-dragoness was unconscious with the strangest of expressions upon her aged features. She seemed as if she had fainted. Luna had only seen this happen to Sparkle in the rarest of times. It only tended to happen when she was surprised beyond belief, as had happened in younger times when she had adventured as Luna's father's familiar. "Here ya go!"
Luna once more lets out the happy sound at the sight of her little dragon friend. "Sparkle! Awww, my poor, sweet dear! Powerpaw, thank you for bringing her along with you. I had worried that I would never see her or any of the other Wanderers again!" Luna gently picks up the stunned pseudo-dragon and cradles her in her arms.
"Uh, what fools?" Powerpaw looked around. "Anyways, I got da way outta yer curse right here! Just read these stones in da right order!" Powerpaw offered the sturdy box out to any of the Wayward Wanderers who were curious about it. About that time, Oscar appeared out of Powerpaw's fur, crawled down his arm, sat down on his forearm, and stared at the box. "Curious. This container does not appear to be of Averlundian make."
Despite the concern that Luna has for her familiar, she cannot help but find herself interested in the stones that Powerpaw has in the case. "If these stones are to be the end of our curse, we must handle them very carefully or else we may ruin any chance of breaking this curse on us. By putting our heads together, I do believe we can solve this riddle."
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Character sheet
Hit Points: 26/26
Armor Class: 22
Touch Armor Class: 16
Spell Points: 3/3
Hero Points: 1/1
Mighty Blow uses: 1/1
Interpose uses: 1/1
Color code: 3399ff
Powerpaw gave big, warm, furry hugs to everybody who wanted one
This included Bren, who was very happy indeed to see the big Felane. "Powerpaw! How in Mielikki's name did you get here?" He listened with astonished wonder as Powerpaw answered that very question.

He sees us an' sez, "Adventurers, you are interruptin' me while I am giving the word of the Righteous to da People of da Faith! You haz one sentence ta tell me before I asks you ta politely wait until I is done!" Powerpaw performed a huddling motion. "So, real quick, Mom, me, Ben, Misha, an' Sparkle all put our heads together an' Ben told us what ta say. Since I was da loudest, dey had me shout back.

'Bren an' his team needs yer help right now!!'

"'Take over!"
he told another human holy guy an' away we went inta his study like a hobbit after a pie!
Bren smiled wryly, remembering the many other times he and his party (The Light in the Dark, back then) had come to seek Archbishop Du Blake's advice or assistance.

Time was runnin' short. I chuckles an' sez, 'Does dat mean Time is a dwarfie?' Mom kicked me fer dat one but it wuz worth it!'
That made Bren laugh and shake his head.

"Anyways, I got da way outta yer curse right here! Just read these stones in da right order!"
At the end of Powerpaw's story, Bren looked up at SkySting. "Thank you very much for bringing our friend to us, Lady SkySting. By your tale and his, he would have appeared in the middle of the goblins' camp upon arrival in this place, and while he could perhaps take on even so many, he would be distinctly the worse for wear afterwards, and we would still have to meet up with each other -- and with us not knowing he was coming, even! Your actions have helped us greatly." He bowed, and then turned his attention to the Rhumian box Kausheya had sent via Powerpaw.

He nodded in agreement with Luna. "Working together has been the key so far. Let us see what we have here, and between us we shall return to ourselves and our proper place, in defiance of the Maiden of Pain!"
 
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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Oreleth looks at the others. "Despite my past training in the mystic arts to enhance my bow, I am not as smart as experts like Luna. But I will offer what opinions I have to try and help. Tell me, Powerpaw; do you know the proper order that these curse-breakers must be read in? It would seem to me to be the best answer out of all possible ones. That way, we won't run the risk of making mistakes and trapping ourselves in this icy place."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"Uhhh, me?" Powerpaw stared at the container and back at Oreleth. "Uhhh, mebbe start wif one dat looks like a face?"

Smiling Bria took Powerpaw's paw and hugged it. "Some things really are better left in the hands of the wise..."
 

Wolf Rawrrr

Wolf-Knight
Supporter
.:| Nivirea - The Sorceress |:.

Nivirea offered no resistance at all against Powerpaw's hug. Quite the contrary - she remained close to the fuzzy giant, even going as far as leaning back into him with her eyes closed and a content smile on her face. She seemed to appreciate the softness and warmth of his fur greatly. At the same time, she eyed the container with some interest but said nothing about it just yet.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Luna's curiosity is getting the best of her, so she does her best to pull herself out of the big fuzzy hug, and she asks, "Powerpaw, can I please have the case? I am quite anxious to take a look inside it." Once she has the case, she gently sets it down on the ground and examines it to see if it is locked. If not, she then gently opens it up and looks inside.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Powerpaw grinned widely at all the welcoming and hugging. As one who had felt like an outcast even from his own beloved Bastet-born people, it felt so good again to be by the sides of those who accepted him - his friends.

"Sure, Luna-face!" Lightly patting Nivirea's back lest he bowl her over with his great strength, Powerpaw handed the container to Luna. He watched the wizard's every move with childlike curiosity, for he wondered what brainy Luna would do to unravel its mysteries.

Luna found the container to be very heavy and once she had gotten it to the cavern floor, she opened the lockless lid with relative ease. The weight's mystery was soon dispelled; the container held strange blank stones made of a mineral she could not identify. The box held four stacked rectangular stones."

"Oh! I knows dis! Iz a kid's game started in Issmir! Make a square outta dem ta start..." Powerpaw pointed.

This Luna did without trouble. The sides of the quartet of stones clicked together and formed a square about the size of a small shield. Then Powerpaw shook his furry head and Luna realized why - these pictures seemed to make no sense.

"...now da whole ting..."

The square began to fidget and tremble with a life of its own until suddenly it crackled and split apart, not into its four original rectangular sections, but into sixteen small squares, each with its own glowing glyph!

"...does dat! Now make it a square agains 'cept ya only got so much time ta do it."

Thus proved difficult. Furthermore ("furthermoar?"), when Luna tried to reassemble them, some of the pieces quickly met together, while others stubbornly remained apart, unable to be pushed together - like tiny magnets. It seemed the trick to finding the correct message was to assemble all sixteen pieces, each glyph set in their correct positive-to-negative orders, in a short amount of time (about sixteen seconds) or Luna would have to start all over again!

"Bouncin' Bastet, it makes my face hurt jus' lookin' at it!"

Luna requires a succesful Arcana skill roll in order to assemble the heiroglyph. Do you want to use your typical dice color or another? Please reply in the Adventurers' Table.
 
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Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
On the surface, merging the hieroglyph in the sixteen seconds she had seemed almost like an impossible act. Before she knew it, the pieces had burst apart again forcing her to start anew. It was aggravating. But... Luna soon began to notice her advantages. The small squared stones each had four sides and each side either pushed or pulled, but the glyphs did not change from attempt to attempt. Once two glyphs locked together, they held until the time limit was up. Luna understood with certainty that it was really just a matter of time before she would have the sixteen-piece glyph into one big picture. And what then?

Finally, Luna was able to piece it all together. She had figured it out! The last piece clicked on and the hieroglyph was one big beautiful scene, but Luna was Averlundian. She had never before visited Rhumia and didn't know what a hieroglyph was. Still, the pictures, now in order, seemed to deliver a message. As more than one pair of eyes from her fellows watched her, Luna's understanding slowly formed. The hieroglyph read, "Whoever lets himself be led by his heart will never lose his way."

This is a real Egyptian proverb from whom my Rhumians are loosely based on.

Further study into the hieroglyph uncovered a magic under the script. Luna had, in truth, assembled more than a hieroglyph - this was a magical scroll of sorts.

Just a picture to show some hieroglyphs for atmosphere, not the riddle-trick before you.
httpsegypttours2014.wordpress.com.jpg
(Image credit: EgyptTours2014 )

Understanding the magic was easy for Luna - it was as if it wanted to be known - but she made yet another discovery - there was another message beneath the surface of the first written in magic. Someone had scribed written four words, not in glyph-form, but in your Averlundian Common tongue! They read, "Choose with your heart."

Then the spell itself was known to Luna. This was a special scroll of Remove Curse, powerful enough to break Loviatar's hold perhaps... but it could only be used on one person.

@Sherwood What does Luna do with these discoveries?
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Luna looks down at the scroll with a mixture of personal pride for solving it and dismay that the scroll can only help one person. Sitting back, she says, "Well, the puzzle has been solved, and it contains a way for one of us to be free of this curse. But, it is as I said, it will only help one of us. Naturally, the little devil on my shoulder wants it to be me, but I cannot in good conscience arbitrarily make that decision. This must be agreed upon by us all."

"I think that the bare bones of the matter comes down to, which one of us, after having been freed of this curse, will be of the best help to stop the plans of Loviatar and break the curse on the rest of us? With that in mind, I would have to place my vote for Bren to be the one to accept the blessing of the scroll. You are a paladin, and with your sword arm at full strength to lead us, I think that there would be few challenges that we cannot overcome." Even if my own heart screams for the benefit if this scroll, I must make the right decision for all of us.
 

Captain Hesperus

On Vacation
Supporter
Otiorin Taletreader

Hearing about the exciting new discovery, Otiorin couldn’t help but feel elated. One of them could break the curse that bound their greater skills and abilities away from them. The only thing that troubled him was Luna’s suggestion.
“I’d have to place my vote on Bria. Having a Paladin in the fullness of his puissance is one thing, but what fear would we have with one of Sharseya’s most powerful healers in full command of her abilities?”
He looked around the faces of his companions, trying to read their thoughts from their expressions.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Oreleth feels a warm sensation in her heart at the level of self sacrifice that is being shown here. "There is wisdom to both your suggestions. Consider this, though: We now have a potent fighter in Powerpaw with us, and if we are dealing with goblins, I would hazard a guess that he will be able to plow through them like a scythe through wheat. So, either a offensive spell caster to blow up the enemy, or having our healer at full strength to keep the rest of us alive in our weakened state would be good. That is my two copper's worth for you."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Luna looks pensive as she listens to Otiorin and Oreleth. "Mmmm. You are both right. What good is having a strong arm to fight with, if the rest of the Wanderers are felled because we are so weak? Bria, would you be willing to accept this spell to help us all stay alive in here?"
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Brendoran, paladin of Mielikki

Bren smiled at his friends. He knew how badly each of them wanted to be restored to their proper selves, for he felt that same desire in his own heart. And yet, none had spoke on his or her own behalf, only what he or she believed to be best for the party. "Oreleth makes an excellent point. My own inclination is to offer it to one of our offensive spellcasters, for I believe and hope that Bria's current abilities will suffice for the most of us, and the sooner we can remove the enemies in our path, the less injuries we will take ourselves. And yet I cannot help thinking that the curse should be removed first from the one who suffered from it most." He turned to Nivirea. "Forgive me for pointing it out, but it seems to have hit you the hardest. What say you? Which among us do you feel should have the curse removed at this time?"
 

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