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Chapter Twelve: Loviatar's Icy Laughter! (Pathfinder 2.0 Playtest)

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Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter

(Part 1 of 2)

Paladin Bria listened to all of this. Grasping her beloved evergreen holy symbol, she prayed a silent call to her faith and moved closer to Brendoran as the leader of the Wayward Wanderers brought what explanation could be brought to such chaotic and strange happenings. There, she stood, tall-looking and proud as ever, but all the more curious. More than once, her soft brown eyes lingered on Otiorin as if drawn there by curiosity, but for the moment, those curiosities stayed within her. For she realized there was much to be learned, not only about the Red Cave and its bloody secrets or of the band she had thrown her lot in with, but also of herself and this unknown woman she evidently used to be.

Oscar of Highwind mused, his black ears swiveling to take in Brendoran's every word. "I see, Bren, though not as clearly as I would like, given the stakes. Thank you for summing up the facts so neatly." He turned to Paladin Bria, the little claw on his index finger raised. "And to you, divine one. All is as Lord Brendoran has told. I am Oscar of Highwind and it was you, or rather your former and true self, that brought me back from a death most unfortunate to serve the people and crown I so dearly love. You might say I am indebted to you, though I would have entered this," his little whiskers swished as he reached for the correct word or phrase, "series of foully-brought conundrums whether you had or not."

Paladin Bria chose this moment to curtsey and reply. "This stranger, this person you all say I used to be. If it is Mielikki's will, I would return to her while ceasing to be all that I am. For I have felt since we met that something indeed was not right with me. I have feelings I cannot explain, notions without decent reason bursting into my mind." She shrugged. "My mind and my spirit are not one and I suffer for it."

Oscar padded over to her and closed his eyes. "Upon my word of honor, I will see your suffering undone, Bria of the Ko, most peaceful of all healers in Highwind, nay, in all of Averlund and Sharseya!"

Paladin Bria stood there, apparently not knowing what to say. It was clear to all of you that she had not recognized any of the places Oscar had now mentioned. They may as all have been a forgotten dream. She crossed her arms and frowned in thought.

* * *​

He clasped Otiorin on the shoulder and nodded to Oreleth, then went to kneel beside Oscar the red panda. "And what are you doing here, Oscar? How came you to this...well, wherever we are? What do you know of this place?"
"As for me and my own escapades," he drew in a deep breath and focused himself, "allow me a few moments and I will share what happened on our side of the snow globe..."


10f7365ae3a83129b412f4aeb2ba0b0d.jpg
(Image credit: Hunaner)
GAME DETAILS Location: In the Red Cave.
Mode: Exploration
Click Blue Box for Ambiance =)
"Snow Blizzard Cave Ambiance" by Ye Olde Ambiance

 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Part 2 of 2)

The beginning of this scene up until the "* * *" is retold from Chapter 11: The Troubled Temple of Tapio - Preparation for the sake of atmosphere and remembrance of those moments. If you would rather, skip ahead to the "* * *" divider, or read on from here. =)

Inside Ben and Misha's Magic Shoppe, things were warm and cozy. Shopping was fun!

"Well," Ben the Giant replied to Luna, "you crazy evokers are the best at dealing direct damage to the enemy, as long as you're skilled enough to know what spells to use and when! Gather 'round, Wanderers, and I'll help each of you find something to help you excel!" As the Wanderers gathered, Ben stepped around one of his many counters and prepared to share his considerable experience with each of you. Only Mamapaw, Powerpaw, and Sparkle were not nearby. They approached, each eager to hear and learn.

But Fate was fickle this day.

The big, dopey fellow with the poorly-hidden flowers in the pouch behind his back gasped and pointed straight at Brendoran Sarabina. A large crooked grin animated his pleased expression. "Yeah, yeah! You're Brendoran the Paladin! Happy birthday, sirrah!" It was a nice enough gesture...

...except that it was not Bren's birthday.

The following scene seemed to move in slow-motion.

Without warning, the dopey fellow, as if performing some well-rehearsed performance, gleefully reached into his pouch and swiftly produced a very pretty, little snow globe. Like a schoolboy, he moved as if to hurl it like a snowball. At Bren!

snowglobe-clipart-winter-snow-globes-christmas-snow-globe-clipart-christmas-png-free-clipart.png
(Image credit: clipart vector design)

Strange things, snow globes. They are beautiful and magical in their ability to light the imaginations of the young and old alike. But this one was unlike any other. The Wayward Wanderers saw that it produced great magical snowflakes, each the size of a hobbit's hand, each sparkling strangely and all with the same image. It was the semblance of something some of you recognized immediately. That recognition brought a chill to the heart.

"A White Dagger Held in a Pallid Hand" - this is known to any character here with 1 Rank or more in Knowledge: Religion - it is the oldest of Loviatar's unholy symbols.
TDS.jpg
(Image credit: Animal Jam Roleplay Wiki - Fandom )

Loudly the fellow cheered and flung this thing at Bren. "Bren! Happy birthday from Gerran, sirrah!"

The moment it left his hand, it gave off a terrible chill! Sudden icy pain lanced everyone in the room. It was as if there were no building to protect you from the cold, as if you were smack dead in the middle of a snowstorm. This seemed to greatly surprise the dopey fellow, yet there was no stopping its path at Bren now.

That was, unless you happened to be near its path of flight and were aware of the images in the snowflakes. Bria was both.

"No! You can't!!" the peaceful healer shrieked.

Without a second thought for her safety, Bria tried to push Otiorin away from it while shoving herself in the snow globe's path. She succeeded. She caught the globe with both hands, staring into it as if hypnotized. Then, with a blinding light and roar like a crashing avalanche, the snow globe exploded!

Bria took the full brunt of the magical blast! As she fell, despite her valiant efforts, the globe's magic encompassed all who were near! This included Nivirea, Luna, Otiorin, Oreleth, and Brendoran! Everyone else seemed to be outside the grasp of the snow globe's terrible magic.

* * *​

"The Awakening" by Composer Knut Avenstroup Haugen for the Age of Conan Original Score/Soundtrack

Meanwhile, in Highwind, Ben and Misha's Magic Shoppe was a scene of utter chaos!

Misha drew a prayer to Saint Cuthbert across her breast. Ben the Giant touched his amulet and with a blast of light, he was fully clad in steely mail with a rune-covered mallet and glittering tower shield. With a curse, the smithy threw himself between Misha and the danger. Customers ran out of the room, eager to flee the deathly chill and black magic. But not all fled.

"GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!"

Powerpaw's rage-filled roar shook the room. His blood-red eyes, blazing with hate and death-lust, fixed on his target. In a bound that sailed him across the room, the armored gladiator was on the human fop who had thrown the snow globe! With bared claws and fangs, Powerpaw snatched the big man off of his feet as though he had been a gnome. Grasping him by his buttocks and the back of his neck, Powerpaw swore straight to his face. "TALK! OR BASTET AZ MY WITNESS, IM'A CRUSH YOU'SE IN HALF AN' MAKE YA SWALLOW YER OWN NUTS!!"

His face stricken with fear, the fop gibbered and bawled excitedly like a man under a spell. "Buh-buh! I don'..."

Mamapaw rushed forward, her Bronze-made scimitar flashing from its sheath. She bore the steel down on the man's fat belly and for once she did not reprimand her son for his poor manners. "SPEAK! MY FRIENDS YOU ATTACKED SAVED MY SON'S LIFE! THEY SAVED MY LIFE! TELL ALL OR I LET MY SON DO AS HE WILL!"

Utterly trapped, the fop screamed horribly like a man being cast into Hell. He writhed crazily in Powerpaw's grasp, but he was a fish caught in the claws of a lion and he knew it. Outside, cries for the watch sounded. Sparkle faded, took cover, and watched the scene without blinking.

"Stop, children of Bast! Unhand him immediately!"

Powerpaw and Mamapaw whirled. It was Oscar who had made the demand. Tiny, cute, furry, and utterly wise Oscar.

"Wha?! You ain't serious?!" Powerpaw snarled. Mamapaw gazed at him incredulously.

"Serious as death and with no time to debate the matter." Oscar turned from them and took in the scenario. He first examined the remnants of the snow globe. The round glass had smashed with great sharp bits poking about from under tables and atop the wood floor, but what was this? One shard, large and still coursing with terrible magic! Could it be? There was but one way to find out!

Oscar explained as he scampered with all of the alacrity given to him in his new red panda body. He clambered up to Ben's collection of enchanted rings. "In your grasp is Popo, the town dullard! Never has he uttered a false word of another nor held evil in his wide heart. He is Gerran's unwitting pawn and innocent of Bast's vengeance!"

The Felane gawked and put him down immediately. "My apologies!" Mamapaw placed her paw on Popo's shoulder. "An' mine!" Powerpaw added.

From behind an armored helm on a shelf that had a wide view of the room, Sparkle the Pseudo-dragon snapped irritably. "Oscar! What in Bahamut's name are you scurrying about like a Hasted cat for?"

"I am going after them!" Oscar called out as he snatched up a certain ring here and a particularly useful ring there. "Ben! Forgive me - I must borrow your wares!"

The bearded blacksmith shouted back. "Take what you will, you big-brained red raccoon! Just get those young 'uns out of Loviatar's clutches!"

Mamapaw stepped forward, paws open. "But Oscar! What do we do?!"

Oscar hopped off the counter and made for the swiftly-fading magical mist still surrounding the snow globe shard. He tried to make his last words here count. "Seek Archbishop Du Blake! Alert Shalin the Silent Sorcerer! They know of the one, perhaps the only one, who can best undo this treacherous deed!"

"Aye!"

Popo waved and grinned dumbly. "Be careful, Oscar!"

Oscar spared a brief grin at Popo, as if asking him not to worry over him, and leaped head-first into the fading mist. He hoped dearly that he was not about to make a terrific fool of himself, but he needn't have bothered. The snow globe's potent mist took him like a dragon's breath. He vanished instantly, rings and all.

Sparkle gasped. "Wait! If you can go to help Luna, then I can too!" Sparkle leaped from behind her cover and dove, wings folded for best speed toward the shard Oscar had made for. But it was too late. Wherever Oscar the Sage had gone, he had gone alone. She hit the floor with a leathery thump, bruising her old skin.

"Blast and drat it all!!" snarled the she-dragon.

"C'mon, Sparkle-face! We gotta git!" Powerpaw scooped up the indignant dragoness and, with his mother offering a quick and heartfelt prayer to Bast and Mielikki both, they all hustled out of the magic shoppe with Ben and Misha leading the way. They hurried out into the windy streets of Highwind, under the bright blue skies, in the direction of the magnificent Church-Fortress of Saint Cuthbert, the mace-wielding God of Good Sense and Retribution.

* * *​

Back in the Red Cave, in the present hour, Oscar of Highwind sat down by the campfire and admired the two rings he wore like bracers, mostly hidden by his fur.

"I appeared alone in someone's footprints; Nivirea's, I believe. There was a blizzard and only your receding tracks to follow. But you had made a trail and this," he tapped a fine ring made of dwarf-gold inset with a sunny ruby, "Ben's borrowed Ring of Warmth kept me alive and reasonably comfortable for the trek. Without it, I might have succumbed to the hellish frost outside. As for this other dandy," he turned and displayed a band of pure onyx fastened with seven mysterious stones, each glowing faintly with its own dark colors, "I suspect its powers have indeed aided me too. I shall keep the nature of it to myself for the moment, for magic secrets are not a thing to be bandied about like the shrieking from a marketer's stall, but respected deeply.

"In time, I came upon the goblins. They were in the midst of using little nets to capture up foxes, taking them alive. The snow had swallowed your trail, and unbeknownst to them, they were following it. So, as foul as the idea might seem, I acted like a fox and had myself captured. It was a risk, but it was all I had. Most of this past hour, I have been strapped to the side of a stinky warg. That is," he nodded, "until Paladin Bria freed me with a swing from her axe blade."

"I am but a servant of the creatures of the forest," Paladin Bria beamed, undid her gauntlets, and warmed her hands. "At least, at present."

Oscar looked up to the Wayward Wanderers. "You asked of me two questions, but in my haste to deliver the answer to the first, I fear I have forgotten the other. What would you have of me, friends and companions? " He looked down at his tummy and added with a fuzzy frown, "And might I bother you for some victuals? I lacked the size and opportunity to gather Misha's Robe of Plenty..."
 

Captain Hesperus

On Vacation
Supporter
Otiorin Taletreader

As Oroleth swept up the incandescent sword in eager hands, the Elven fighter felt a sudden, uncomfortable shift. It was as if he were in his own personal snowglobe that someone had suddenly shaken one way, but not back. All his senses narrowed and darkened and when they returned-

He was alone now.
The last of his loyal retainers, Fan-Eurielle the bardess with flowing golden locks and a voice like a thousand laughing streams, lay at his feet. Her lifeblood gushed from around the shaft of an orcish arrow embedded to the feathers in her throat. No more would she sing of distant lands and glorious deeds performed by noble warriors. Her sparkling emerald eyes were blank as death claimed her and her desperate struggles to breathe ceased.
All he could hear now was the constant rumble of orc war drums, an insistant rumble of thunder that emphasized the joyous roaring of the brutish greenskin warriors that even now encroached upon him. His own strength was failing him, his left arm was a ruined strip of tattered flesh dangling from his side, victim of an orc's barbed greataxe. Arrows jutted from his breastplate. Most had not penetrated, but some few, ensorcelled by dark magicks had cut through and their foul sorceries wreaked havoc within his tired body.
The burning sword in his right hand drew his attention. After long centuries of close contact, he could feel the emotions of his weapons and he could feel the Sunfire Blade's now. Fury at the surrounding foes and the harm they had inflicted upon his beloved master and defiance against their overwhelming numbers. But beneath that there was sadness and yearning. The Moonlit Edge, the blade married by steel to the sword, was gone. Carried away by that young brave drummerboy to safety.
"You two shall be one again, old friend. I swear by all the gods, there shall be one who will bend their will to rejoin you two once more.", the Elf lord whispered as he gathered his dwindling strength, "Now, let's teach these orc scum what terror feels like."
With that, he surged forward, and The Sunfire Blade burst into flame so bright it could be seen from leagues away.


The vision faded and Otiorin was himself again. All around him, goblin and warg bodies littered the floor. They were studded with arrows and bore cuts that were either flame-cauterised or edged in icy rime. His hands were heavy and as he glanced at them he realised he was looking at his own familiar Half-Elven hands in his rogue's attire. Held in his hands were his familiar Moonlit Edge and another weapon. It took him a moment to realise that he now carried The Sunfire Blade and the realisation struck him to the core. Mystified, he wandered over to the fire and carefully cleaned the blood and gore from the two prized relics of his people. Once done to the best of his ability, he laid them together, their blades touching ever so gently then quietly sat and cried, though whether it was joy or sadness he could not say.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter


This scene brought to you by "Crystal Explosions" by Trazer. I just can't get it out of my head as I write this post, so I thought I'd share some of its kind and peaceful beauty with you. =)

Paladin Bria disengaged herself from her own curiosities from the moment she saw Otiorin the Half-elf sit down and weep. Without thinking, she immediately crossed the distance between them, her armor clinking faintly. Without waiting for invitation, she found herself sitting by his side, her brown eyes staring into his. She moved like a woman who did not know the why behind her actions, but was willing to completely surrender herself to the inner forces that beckoned her on. It was a matter of faith, and like all such matters, Bria and Paladin Bria were not to be found wanting. They answered their faith with all that they were as if it were the most natural thing in all of Sharseya.

For the first time in ages, the Moonlit Edge and Sunfire Blade glowed softly together. Their twin auroras illuminated both Otiorin and Paladin Bria in a way no campfire could. In a way, to the sharp-eyed or empathy-hearted, those lights seemed to be reaching out to Otiorin and Paladin Bria, though the holy lady did not appear aware of it. Her eyes were only for Otiorin.

She whispered to him, and if he looked, he found her armored palms upward, facing him, as if asking for his own. "I am here for you," she said in the same manner Healer Bria would say. "If you need me, I am yours to hold." For a moment, it was as if Paladin Bria did not exist. Her calming, loving eyes sought to comfort and quench the burning fires raging through Otiorin.

As if trying to find a way to turn his mind from any pain, Paladin Bria asked him the question held deepest in her heart. "I know you. I feel you know me." She reached up offering to hug him.

"If it aids you, would you tell me about the woman I used to be?"


10f7365ae3a83129b412f4aeb2ba0b0d.jpg
(Image credit: Hunaner)
GAME DETAILS Location: In the Red Cave.
Mode: Exploration
Click Blue Box for Ambiance =)
"Snow Blizzard Cave Ambiance" by Ye Olde Ambiance

 

Captain Hesperus

On Vacation
Supporter
Otorin Taletreader

Bria's words drew Otiorin's attention and he raised his head to see her close, perilously close to him. Her offer of an embrace could not be refused and he wrapped his arms around her and drew her close.
"You are," he began, trying to master his voice, "you are the very soul of peace, harmony, and love. There is not a single person of good nature who cannot but help themselves from falling in love with you and your caring ways. You have ever approached all with an open heart and open mind. You have even treated those who call you enemy with compassion beyond that which others would grant them."
He sighed, a deep wracking motion that sent a shudder through his body.
"But most of all," he drew back so that he could look her in the eye, "you are the one I love beyond life itself and I am bereft and heartsore now that the true you is currently lost to us. I will search and I will fight. And even if I have to kick open the doors to Loviatar's own domain and fight her with my bare hands I will not relent until you are restored to your former self."
Impulsively, and perhaps in fear that he might not have the opportunity to do so for some time, he leaned in and kissed her lips.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter

"Possession (Piano Version)" by Sarah McLachlan (hidden track on her Fumbling Towards Ecstacy album).

Listen as the wind blows
From across the great divide
Voices trapped in yearning
Memories trapped in time
The night is my companion
And solitude my guide
Would I spend forever here
And not be satisfied

And I would be the one
To hold you down
Kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
And after I'd, wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes dear

Through this world I've stumbled
So many times betrayed,
Trying to find an honest word,
To find the truth enslaved,
Oh you speak to me in riddles and
You speak to me in rhymes
My body aches to breathe your breath,
Your words keep me alive

And I would be the one
To hold you down
Kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
And after I'd, wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes dear

Into this night I wander,
It's morning that I dread,
Another day of knowing of
The path I fear to tread,
Oh, into the sea of waking dreams
I follow without pride,
Nothing stands between us here
And I won't be denied

And I would be the one
To hold you down
Kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
And after I'd, wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes dear
I'll hold you down
Kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away

And after I'd wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes...

Paladin Bria, for all her inner strength and noble spirit, was in no way prepared for this. Before she could even praise Mielikki, this stranger's lips were upon hers. She flinched at first. So unready for this that her ladylike being did not know how to react. There, surrounded in her sheath of armor and weaponry, she was more vulnerable than she had ever been.

But she relaxed.

Paladin Bria embraced Otiorin in a more womanly fashion, surrendering in a very soft fashion to his whim.

It was in that moment that everything changed for them.

Again, a grand light flowed into the cave from nowhere. Brighter than the campfire. Brighter than the swords. Yet softer and more peaceful than even the morning sun. A low and sudden groan shook the tunnel followed by the unmistakable sound of cracking ice, like a mountainside struck and splintered. This thundered throughout the cave for the second time.

When the soft light faded and the sounds melted away, there was Bria - Healer Bria - there lying in Otiorin's arms as if it were the only place in all of Sharseya she ever wanted to be.

There, in a tousled mane of rich brown, her brown eyes stared back into his. Paladin Bria was gone. Perhaps to Mielikki's side, perhaps into the realm of dreams where all of our strangest imaginings go.

Here was Bria of the Ko.

When their kiss finally broke, Otiorin felt cloth, not armor, against his body. He felt her soft warmth as surely if she had never left his side. Bria held Otiorin willingly, longingly, with all that she was. Warm tears of love and relief drifted down her pink face. But it was her smile, that sunshine smile, that broke through the Red Cave's darkness like no light ever could.

Her smile was for him and him alone.

"Hi Oti," she fondly whispered to him.
"Looks like you've rescued me once again."

It was all she could think to say.

* * *​

In the same moment, Lord Brendoran Killaneson Sarabina felt both the loss of the holiest inner magic that he had ever known leave him to be replaced by a feeling of such peace and freedom as only the wild woodlands know. A tremendous fearlessness filled Brendoran's spirit and with it came a vast reservoir of might and righteousness as only the holiest of knights know. But above all this, like clouds above the mountains, came a strength made of choice, a passion made of desire, and a sense of justice made of walking a sacred path - it was the power of faith.

For a brief moment, Bren could not smell the foulness of the goblin-battle inside the cave nor feel the invisible arms of cold that tried to chill him, but instead there was the sensation of a warm sunbeam upon his body and the smell of the forest, the great and bountiful forest, upon him. It was the scent of evergreen. Brendoran found himself closing his eyes.

When he opened them, he was clad fully in his armor, Powerpaw's borrowed shield on his arm, and his enchanted battle axe there in his hand. The axe was unbloodied as it had not once tasted enemy flesh since before his transformation. His magical jewelry was upon his person from Shalin's Ring of Return to the Highwind Medallion about his neck.

Paladin Brendoran had returned!

He was still in Loviatar's land, he knew. If Mielikki had a truer foe in all the realms, it had not shown its face yet. Yet even here, Paladin Brendoran could feel the Mistress of the Forest and she was with him.

She had always been with him.

Two more of the Wayward Wanderers had been restored to their former races and classes!

Paladin Brendoran Killaneson Sarabina
Brendoran Restored to Paladin.jpg
(Image credit: http://www.kenkellyfantasyart.com/albums/album_image/6951881/5067894.htm)

Healer Bria of the Ko
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(Image credit: Shirow Masamune)


10f7365ae3a83129b412f4aeb2ba0b0d.jpg
(Image credit: Hunaner)
GAME DETAILS Location: In the Red Cave.
Mode: Exploration
Click Blue Box for Ambiance =)
"Snow Blizzard Cave Ambiance" by Ye Olde Ambiance

 
Last edited:

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
When Luna sees the change over Bren and Bria, she can feel her heart swell with joy. "Dear Bria! You have come back to us!" Luna rushes up to sweep up the Ko monk in a sisterly hug, then she turns to Bren. "You are looking more like yourself, my dear Brendoran! You get a hug, too!" She gives the newly Paladin-ized man a hug, squeezing as hard as her small arms allow. Releasing him, she steps back with a glowing smile on her face. "Now we just need to find a way to switch me and Nivirea back to our true selves. Aside from giving her a kiss, does anyone have any ideas on how we can do that?"
 

Captain Hesperus

On Vacation
Supporter
Otiorin Taletreader

The Half-Elf, now safely back into his own skin, sat back down and watched his comrades. His clever brain began to run through the events he had experienced and witnessed. There has to be some logical reason that we were able to reverse this curse, not once, but twice.
The first time was when Oreleth Half-Elven had taken up the Sunfire Blade, the second when Bria gave herself to himself. He blushed warmly at the memory.
"It's realization.", he said, almost dreamily, "We're in Loviatar's realm and far departed from our ideal selves. When one of us comes to the realization of our true self, our true purpose, that person's curse is undone. I think?"
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
"Love." Oreleth suddenly blurts out. "Its love, the one thing that the goddess can't comprehend, and cannot control. First, there was the bond between the two swords that drew them together, along with Otiorin's willingness to let me seize the burning blade in our battle with the goblins instead of being selfish and thinking of only himself. Then, there is the love between Bria and Brendoran, along with the love of the goddess that you follow."

She feels right in her estimation on what made the change happen, and then looks to the two spellcasters. "We just need to find something or someone that you are drawn to, a true love of your own that you can experience, and you should change back, too."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Luna snaps her fingers. "Of course! Why didn't I see it before? I must be slipping to have missed such an obvious answer. My only thought about this is, just what kind of love are we talking about? There is the love of, say, a brother for a sister. Or that of a parent that loves their child. There is the romantic love of a couple. or the love of a thing, or concept. What would be a strong enough bond for us to be ourselves again? I certainly have a strong love for all of the Wanderers, and would gladly risk my life for any of you. I had a love for . . . for Wolf, but he has traveled on with his father on a quest of his own. I also love learning. That has been a true passion of mine for many years before I left the confines of school and became an adventurer. But what would be the key to change both myself and Nivirea back to our original selves?"

She ponders for a moment, then shakes her head. "I just don't know. Perhaps one of you might have a flash of insight, just like Oreleth did."
 

Wolf Rawrrr

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

"Excuse me?"

Nivirea stood tall, with her fists clenched and a mighty frown upon her face. She carelessly dropped the book she was holding on the ground. She looked angry, as if gravely offended. It was probably the closest possible thing to being her old self.

"Aside from kissing me? Well you must either be so foolishly devoted to your runaway boyfriend, or else find me that unsavory, to discard the possibility so swiftly! Do you? Do you? Because that's what we're doing, if that's what it takes! They..." she opened her right fist to form an accusing finger pointed at Bria and Otiorin, "It worked for them! We have to try... Whatever we can! We have to... to..." Her voice trailed off, as if she realized that she was starting to babble, and she withdrew her arm, but her jaw was now shut tight and she trembled, like someone greatly upset.

In truth, if one paid more attention to Nivirea's words, or her mannerisms, or how her voice nearly broke when she pronounced the word 'unsavory', one would realize that her anger didn't really stem from being offended, but rather that it was born of frustration - and that the frowning of her eyes and the trembling of her jaw were more characteristic of someone on the verge of tears, more than anything else.

Yet at the same time, that angry glare was an accusation in and of itself. But meant for whom?
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Oreleth ties to hide her grin behind her hand, but is sure that she does not do a good enough job to hide her amusement. "Um, I'm sure you could try that, but I suspect that while you may be bound together by bonds of brotherhood, that might not work for you as it did for Bria and Bren. Otiorin and I didn't kiss, and we were switched back to our own bodies, after all."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Luna looks horrified that she offended Nivirea. "No! That's not what I meant! Its not that I don't want to kiss you, I just don't go for girls. Like that. I mean, I will if you want, but Oreleth has a point that it probably won't work for us. Oh, dear. I'm babbling." Her face is bright red as she goes on and on. "Well, if it might work, I can't pass up the chance to return the two of us back to normal."

I don't have much experience in kissing men, let alone women! But if there is a chance that it might work.... She purses up her lips and leans forward, ready to plant a kiss on the other woman.
 

Captain Hesperus

On Vacation
Supporter
Otiorin Taletreader

As the others squawked and babbled at each other, Otiorin picked up the book Nivirea so carelessly discarded in her indignant fury. He gently brushed the dust off its time-worn cover and carefully leafed through its parchment pages, each heavy with the sage knowledge of mages past.
He lifted it up then placed it firmly in Luna’s hands.
“You are Luna Callen, of the famous Callen family. You are an initiate of the flame, a magister of fire. Surely there is something there that you love.”
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Looking down at the book in Otiorin's hands, and in a very tiny voice, Luna says, "Fire" She slowly reaches out and takes the book and holds it tight across her chest. In a slightly louder voice, she repeats, "Fire. Ever since I was an initiate in school, I had a fascination with fire magics. Hell, even when I cast my first Cantrip of Ray of Frost, it came out as a Ray of Fire. Startled the hell out of my professors, I can tell you. Since then, I found that I had the ability to cast any elemental spell as a fire type instead of what it was supposed to be. It is just that fire is so . . . beautiful. It is a force for both creation and destruction, and the patterns of the magic energies are unique and challenging in a way that no other magic shares."

She opens up the book slowly, reverently, and turns to the page with the Cantrip for Ray of Frost. "This is it. My first venture into the world of being an Evoker. I can remember the very day I was accepted into the College. It was the proudest day of my life. I set my heart on the goal of being the greatest Pyromancer that the world has ever seen, and up until this curse, I was well on my way. There was no fire spell that I didn't know, several of them by heart so that I never even needed to look in my spellbook for them. It is such an . . . empty feeling knowing that I have lost so much of myself, if I were to stop and think about it, I would just break down and cry. But I am a Callen, and I am stronger than that. I will not lose control, and I will master my fire magics again. As Boccob as my witness, I will not be denied!"
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
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Color code: 3399ff

For several moments, Bren could only stand and enjoy the sense of being in his own, true self once more. He'd almost wanted to hold onto that healing holiness when it left him to return to Bria, but not only was it not his to hold, it wasn't really his at all, and so he simply looked over and smiled at the real Healer in Otiorin's arms.

Luna's sudden hug jarred him out of his introspection, but he patted her back with as little awkwardness as the surprise of it would allow, then turned to follow the conversation, listening quietly while he readjusted to being Mielikki's knight once more. He twitched his shoulders, feeling his armor move and settle, and gripped the axe haft more firmly in his hands as if to reaffirm to himself that it was there. Then he put the weapon away; it wasn't needed just then.

Then the newly-restored paladin walked over to Nivirea's side. Gently, both in voice and in the expression he turned to her, he said, "We will do what it takes, Nivirea. I won't stop until Loviatar's curse has been broken for all of us and we are all safely back in Highwind. Never doubt that." He nodded firmly and offered his hand, not exactly like a handshake, but in comfort if she wanted it. He tilted his head, listening to Luna, Otiorin, and Oreleth, then asked Nivirea, "What was it like, growing up as a fae-blooded sorceress? Was there anything you particularly enjoyed?" It wasn't as random a question as it sounded. Nivirea was the one he knew least about. If Luna's efforts were enough to restore them, well and good; if not, they'd need to know more about Nivirea to help her side of the exchange.
 

Wolf Rawrrr

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

For a good while it looked uncertain if the girl would accept Bren's reassurance or not, but eventually her features began to soften and she looked up at him with a clear appreciation before seizing his proferred hand with both of hers.

"It was... difficult, sometimes. I kept it secret, at first, particularly from my parents," she confessed. "I wanted to do everything on my own. Learn everything by myself. So stubborn... As if I could go from apprentice to master so fast that no one would notice before it was done. Stupid, really. I hadn't any notion of the true state of things, yet... Yet I'd probably make all the same mistakes again, if I could go back. Yes, I rushed things that weren't wise to rush - but it's the rush that got me going. The excitement of diving headlong into the unknown.

"My parents were supportive, once I'd tol- Once they caught me, I should say," she corrected herself, smiling a little. "No doubt about that. In fact, they were trying harder to help than I realized at the time. I was blinded by all the things arcane and Fey, all the possibilities that lay at my fingertips. I wanted to do, not talk. Experiment, not read and theorize. If it was safe, it was boring, and if it took time then I lacked the patience. I resented anyone who did not approve of me. I didn't care, because I was getting somewhere with my approach. I still think my family failed to recognize that. They saw me as a troublemaker, when I was an explorer - if a mischievous explorer at that. Ah, I did so enjoy the mischief," she grinned. "Even now, having grown older and wiser, I like to think that I still haven't lost those things that always felt like... Well, me.

"Except I have, haven't I?" she looked down, facing suddenly away from Bren and everyone else. "Now I have. I'm not me anymore. I'm half me, half someone else. And I hate it." The girl's hands clenched into fists of anger. "I would burn this whole place down if... if it would get me but a step closer to being just me again. I would, I would..." She seemed to be reaching for more things she'd do, but probably couldn't think straight from all the anger that suddenly piled up in her mind.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
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Color code: 3399ff

Bren smiled at Nivirea's story, then squeezed her hands very gently (mindful of his newly-returned strength). "You haven't lost it, my friend," he replied. "It was stolen from you, and you will get it back. Don't focus on the loss, but on who you know you are, curse or no curse. Remember the joy you found in your life. What was the first spell you cast?"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter


Bria gasped and frowned when Nivirea threw down Luna's prized spellbook; the Ko monk knew enough to know how precious it likely was to Luna. It was, after all, the very collection of a wizard's studies and written knowledge, at least as far as Bria understood. Inwardly, Bria wished Nivirea were nicer to people and more respectful of her things. There were no spoiled monks in the Phoenix Monastery. They only existed in the world outside - like here.

Bria saw the interactions taking place and was about to include herself when she saw Oscar - cuddly, cute, and infinitely knowledgeable Oscar - stepping toward her on his four black feet. She wondered, what a monk Oscar would have made!

Upon reaching her, Oscar stood on his hind legs and folded his paws. "A moment of your time, Healer Bria?"

"Of course, Oscar!" Immediately, Bria's concern for life and spirit overtook her. She looked all over his fur, realizing its red color could well hide bloodstains resulting from injuries. She sensed nothing, but it was always good to look! "Oh, you're not hurt, are you? Those pesky goblins and their rusty, poisoned blades..."

"'Pesky?'" Oscar mused. There were a vast multitude of descriptors of goblinoids, some decisive, most simply insulting, that issued from the mouths of adventurers the world over, but 'pesky' was one he had heretofore never heard uttered. "No, good-hearted one. I am whole and unharmed. I wished to speak with you about your recent transformation. Bria, what are you doing?"

Despite Oscar's reassurance, he found her playful fingers roaming through his soft fur, petting his furry hide, and playing with his ears. "I'm sorry." She meant every word. "I just can't help it. You're cute and fuzzy and you won't run away from me."

Oscar briefly studied her statement and discovered it to be completely accurate. "Worry not, hero. I doubt one of your golden nature and selfless reputation could offend me." Hearing this, Bria smiled brightly and continued.

"As I was saying," Oscar sniffed, "I would like to discuss with you some details of your recent transformation and your experience while Paladin Bria. Would you be willing?"

"Indeed I would, sir! But I'd really like to give everyone a 'welcome back' hug first!"

"There will be time to indulge your sweet disposition later, Healer of the Ko. Now is the best moment to reflect upon that which is still fresh." He asked pointedly. "What did you experience while Paladin Bria? What was the last thing you remember after leaping upon Loviatar's Snow Globe?"

"Hmmmm, well..." Bria's eyes drifted toward the fire-lit ceiling as she recalled. Then Bria and Oscar spoke at length on the matter.

This is simply a conversation Oscar would, in-character, request as he has. If you are interested in hearing it, I will write it out if a post in that direction is made in the Adventurers' Table. If not, we'll just keep on, keepin' on.

* * *​

Meanwhile, the tunnel was alive with chatter and the funk of dead goblins and young wargs. Anyone close to the campfire would notice it was receding and required more fuel to burn. Anyone not near the campfire would be getting chilly and fast.

The wind howled outside as it picked. The whiteness of the outside seemed to beckon to you in some unhealthy way, but it beckoned nonetheless. In the other direction of the tunnel, toward the bridge made of dragon bones, there was not a sound. Still, dried blood continued to mark the path toward the unknown.

Meanwhile, the fox pack meandered toward the cave entrance. They were not eager to stay here, but nor were they eager to leave into that white, wintery cold where death and stranger things lurked about.

Otiorin felt a new weight about him as he now had two enchanted swords on his person instead of one. Their presence seemed to help banish the ill feelings of the mystery the Wayward Wanderers had been thrown into. Still, their adventure lay ahead of them with more mysteries still to be unraveled and more dangers and denizens waiting to be thwarted for their fine rewards.


10f7365ae3a83129b412f4aeb2ba0b0d.jpg
(Image credit: Hunaner)
GAME DETAILS Location: In the Red Cave.
Mode: Exploration
Click Blue Box for Ambiance =)
"Snow Blizzard Cave Ambiance" by Ye Olde Ambiance

 

Wolf Rawrrr

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

Bren's words managed to stop the young girl from spiraling down further into her rapidly worsening mood. She seemed to calm down a little, but turned her back on him and walked nearer to the flickering campfire. She was starting to feel cold again.

"It was Spark," she answered, just when it was becoming doubtful if she was ever going to. "The first spell I ever cast was Spark. On accident, I might add." Her lips curled up in a helpless smile; a sure signal that some pleasant memory was being recollected in her mind. "But I don't see how that helps," she sighed, staring into the flames.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
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Color code: 3399ff

Bren followed, trying not to hover too much, but wanting to continue the conversation. "It may not," he said. "But if reaching our true selves is what's needed, it just might help. Not the spell itself, but the feeling of casting it for the first time, the joy you find in magic. The fun. I saw you smile when you mentioned it. Think about that moment, and try to connect with it."
 

Wolf Rawrrr

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

The smile had faded from her lips, much like the fire itself was dying. She brought her hands closer to it.

"I don't understand how that's supposed to work. What, I'll just think happy thoughts and make a wish and it will come true?" She sounded bitter. If it was truly happiness that was required, she was not on the right path. She was somewhere else. Somewhere distant. "I wish my sister were here..."
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Oreleth is quiet as both Luna and Nivirea try to find something in themselves to connect to in the effort to restore themselves from this curse that was laid upon them. As they do this, she keeps her attention split between the two directions that an enemy may come down. After all, there was something guarding the bone bridge, giving proof that they are not alone in here.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(The conversation between Oscar and Bria.)

Bria picked up Oscar and sat down beside Otiorin. The flame of the Sunfire Blade, while bright, was about as warm as the dying campfire, but infinitely more beautiful to gaze upon. "Hi, big sword," she called. Then she looked at the Moonlit Edge. "Hi, little sword!" She nudged a little closer to Otiorin and gave him a kiss on his cheek. "Hi, scruffy scoundrel!"

By this time, Oscar was ready to be put down. So he was. He examined both swords as he spoke. "While your memory is still at its best, what did you experience after Wayward Wanderers fell into Gerran's trap in Ben and Misha's Magic Shoppe?"

Bria gazed at Otiorin and gave a smile his way as her memories guided her.

An old favorite, 'L'enfant" by Vangelis

"The first thing I remember was the overwhelming need to protect everyone! When I saw the big fellow throw the snow globe, there was no time to think or do anything, really. Just act. And so I leaped.

"I felt the iciest chill I have ever felt in my life. No winter I have ever read about, no dragon's frost, no spell of cold, compared with the pain of that snow globe exploding." Bria mused. "I think it was meant for all of us; at least, that's what I was thinking at the time."

Oscar plopped down and adjusted one of the magical rings he wore. "You did not fall unconscious?"

"No," Bria said with certainty. "I very much feel I was magically blasted out of my body, for I felt nothing else - nothing physical anyway. From then on, I was... kind of like in a snow globe of my own." Her hands reached up, her fingers spreading wide as if she were touching glass. "I was helpless inside. I looked for a way out, as if it were a riddle. I tried to cast. I even pounded on its surface. Nothing I tried worked." She sighed. "I don't like feeling helpless, but it was better than the feeling of death during combat. I don't miss that feeling at all."

"Then you must do everything you reasonably can to avoid it while remaining a successful adventurer."

Bria could not fault that logic. Running one hand through her hair, she continued. "I saw everything after that. I saw it all from Paladin Bria's eyes. I heard it from her ears. It was like being in a moving picture, carried along by mystical streams of magic far beyond my understanding and farther still beyond my ability, even when Bren and I were at our peaks." Bria pulled forth her canteen, offered some to Otiorin, then Oscar, then finally she took a pull of her own.

"Sorry. My lips are dry."

"Quite understandable given our circumstances. Could you communicate with Paladin Bria?"

"No. I could communicate with no one."

"What could you do?"

Bria thought for one long moment. "The only thing I could do without hindrance was pray. So I did a lot of praying for all of you."

"Did you feel anything unusual when Paladin Bria called upon Mielikki's power outside? There must have been a powerful amount of sunlight?"

"Oh yes! But I didn't see you or any goblins there! How did you know?"

"The condition of the forest, the great number of cold, but suspiciously-unfrozen branches and leaves, and the snow itself."

"Well, I felt a great holiness pour through me. It was easy to know who it was, of course. How many times have Highwindian adventurers called upon the Mistress of the Forest?"

"Did your barriers seem to weaken when Her power was present?"

"None whatsoever."

"Indeed..." Oscar rose, clasped his tiny paws behind his back, and began slowly pacing.

"Finally, what did you feel when Otiorin kissed Paladin Bria?"

"Oh, I was, um..."

"Yes?"

"...I was envious because it wasn't really me. But it was. But he wanted it to be." Bria glanced at Otiorin, her eyes filled with trust. "Oti wasn't really kissing Paladin Bria so much as he was wishing he was kissing the real me. And since kissing Paladin Bria was the closest he was going to get, perhaps in a forever, I didn't blame him!"

"Were you surprised to find yourself back in his arms?"

"Yes! But also no. Love is capable of things even magic cannot accomplish. You could say I was startled, but I've never doubted love and I've never doubted the power of Otiorin's love. I guess I should not have been startled at all! It sure was good to be out of that strange prison!" She gasped as a thought struck her. "Oscar? What do you think happened to Paladin Bria when the curse broke?"

"One can only wonder, dear Bria," was his reply. "For even the most skilled of wizards, faithful of clerics, and studious of sages have to sit in the grip of wonder from time to time." Oscar stopped pacing and bowed to her. "You have my gratitude."

"And you have my astonishment! That you would risk going through a magical portal after us under those conditions!"

"Oh, yes," Oscar tried to shrug off her compliments, but ultimately, her warmth got past his sense of humility. "One must take risks in life, especially when the chance at reward are the lives of those you value." Oscar waved a paw at all of you.

* * *​

The campfire's fuel was running out and with it, those warm, orange embers that brought life in this hostile realm. It would last perhaps another ten minutes and then the Wayward Wanderers would be caught again in the painful hold of whatever realm this was. Only one thing was certain - to remain here was to lay down and die. Ahead, somewhere, the dungeon of Castle Anguish awaited.

Who was to say if it were better to stay here forever than to dare that horrible place and the dangers lurking within?
 

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

Bren shook his head in genuine regret as nothing they did seemed to have any effect. "Not happy thoughts, but very you thoughts, if that makes sense. Either we aren't doing it correctly, or that's not the key. I'm sorry, Nivirea. We'll have to keep working on it." He patted her shoulder and turned to look at the others. "Perhaps it will be best if we focus on other things for the moment. We're still trapped here, after all, and the fire isn't getting any brighter. Now that we're all of our right minds, at least, if not of our proper bodies, shall we see about this Dead Dragon Bridge and its challenge? It would seem that's the next logical step in our journey."
 
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