Love and Cheshires.

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Re: Love and Cheshires.

Post by supermooboo » Sun Aug 29, 2021 3:58 pm

"So what makes an animal an animal anyway? I've always thought if I can kill it and eat it then that's that. But I've killed plenty of people and well it tastes like pork." ~ Alvin the One Armed Baker

"It's strange you see, holding up a conversation with a big bird. Not some'ing I've ever done before. Nor really wanted to. I mean it's easier to eat em' if you don't think of them as the type to invite you to a spot of tea. But there it was: Rapid Strikes to the Heart or so Cusa translated."

So we talked to the Owlbeast. I say "we", but it was mostly Cusa working his magic. That said I was able to communicate to the beast the same way I might any other through body language, simple instructions, and the standard practice of asserting ones dominance. I quickly discovered while an Owlbeast will respond to such typical practice they are by no means typical. An equal, or perhaps something close to that, was my initial perception of my new relationship. I'm quite fond of animals. Get attached too easily mind you. But for some reason I couldn't shake this feeling, this feeling of dread from my mind when forming a bond with Rapid Strikes to the Heart (ominous name that it is). Perhaps we humans are not as high up on the food chain as we like to think.

Most interesting was this "friend" of the Owlbeasts who reportedly made and provide the clockwork measuring device to them. This tracked with my own research into the device as the clockwork construction appeared to be created using the imperial standard of measurement. Rapid Strikes to the Heart would not or did not go into much detail on who this person might be, but whoever they are, they must be British and a genius clockwork engineer (or at least one better than me a genius in his own right!).

I managed to track my new acquaintance to a degree. Direction and time towards the mountain was the best I could do given the situation. More than enough for now. No reason to stir a hornets nest I say. Besides we had originally come out to capture a Cheshire.

And capture one we did. I can't say I recommend reattempting the method we choose.

Capture and cook a Josisaur as bait
Use a man of the cloth and a dog along with the bait to lure in the beast
Use the dog to bait the Cheshire with the meat into a cage
Pray (I did say to bring a man of the cloth)

So that somehow worked and so off we went with our new friend back towards our fsr camp where Shustal was waiting for us. After convening about our plans to return to Fort Alice as quickly as possible, he told us to hold off because the elders of his village wanted to talk future plans about the lake.

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Re: Love and Cheshires.

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Aug 29, 2021 10:39 pm

Old Cusa continues his story. 

As Shushtal led us to Mothermouth, Alvin Baker started to make friends with the captive Cheshire (whom he named Chester), which seemed to me at the time to be counter-productive, as I was hoping to either give it to our employer, or sell it to a zoo. I started to worry that he might try to keep it. Mothermouth turned out to be a cave in the mountain. We entered the cave and traveled deep into the darkness. Inside we found a huge crystal (possibly quartz), gleaming in a shaft of sunlight entering through the roof of the cave, the crystal was shot through with veins of granite and golden metal, and had a very strong magical aura. Geritral and two other elders sat upon carved stone benches. The others were introduced as Katsuo (a shaman), and Cichaszesh (a clan chief). They were smoking a pipe (not tobacco, Trunkatte, a saurid acquired taste). 

We offered to help them with their frozen city, and they asked us why we wanted to. We explained our position until they decided we were do-gooding busybodies who liked poking our noses into situations that were not our concern. They agreed to accept our help, but they told us very little. They said that they (could or would) not discuss the nature of the problem. They mentioned that the lake was named Caldirae and that it was under a curse. We had to specifically ask if they wanted the curse lifted, and they said yes. The curse has been there for decades, and they have not been able to lift it. They doubted we could lift the curse, but said they would  owe us a great debt if we could. While they could not or would not tell us anything about the situation themselves, they said that there was a great and powerful spirit named "kisses of spider" that resided in another cave about a days travel away, and that it would be able and might be willing to provide detailed information about how the curse came about, and guidance in lifting it. They agreed to look after our captive cheshire while we were away. 

We set out, and arrived at a great chasm that crossed our path, with a powerful torrent of water coursing along the bottom. The chasm was only about 20 feet wide at the top, and maybe 12 feet wide at the bottom, and about 20 feet deep. We looked around and spotted what appeared to be a cave entrance at the bottom of the far side. I turned into a flying creature and scouted several miles up and down the the river, but was unable to find a crossing place that was much easier than our current location. The others felled a tree. They were unable to find a suitable one that could be felled directly accross the river, so had to drop a nearby tree and manhandle it near the river, then stand it up and drop it over. With their brute strength, the horses, and a clever pulley arrangement, they managed. They crossed the log and then we all (I had landed already on the far side) used a rope to descend to the cave. Our more physical members shepherded us down the rope in safety. 

The entrance to the cave was knee deep in rapid water and we quickly moved in and up until we were on dryer ground. The walls were covered in thousands upon  thousands of spiders. When we used astral sight we saw a very, very massive spirit in the shape of a spider. The spirit was roughly the size of an Orca! I tried to use Spirit Talk to explain our task, but, while I did not know if he understood me, I could most certainly not understand it. It used it's many legs to quickly weave four silk cocoons and seemed to be inviting us to crawl inside, an invitation none of us were very eager to accept. 

600 + 600 + 100 = 1300 + journal

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Re: Love and Cheshires.

Post by supermooboo » Sat Sep 04, 2021 8:08 am

“There’s a fine line between courage and stupidity. Time to find out which one I am.” ~ Alvin the One Arm Baker

Chesire in tow we made our way back to the Saurids encampments where we were eventually told to go to this cave that they referred to as the “Mothermouth”. Glistening gems of quartz with rainbows and light shimmering as gold. A sight truly to behold. One that I was told was only enhanced for those with the knack for magic. The Saurids there were three and served as representatives for our discussions about the frozen lake. The talks themselves were interesting, in that they were more than happy to accept our involvement on the account of being ‘busy-bodies”. Although I’m not sure if that is a good thing (or even a particularly strong reason) in Saurid culture. I later got the impression that it was most certainly not given the intense nature of the trials we were to undergo following our discussion to truly earn their trust.

The talks themselves ended up being relatively simple. “It turns out we could swear to them till our bloody throat was horse and they still wouldn’t trust us. Instead they wanted us to go talk to someone they referred to as Kisses from Spiders. Not exactly the most pleasant of names but well whatever. I ain't afraid of nothing. Certainly not some weirdo who clearly likes spiders a little too much.”

The talks continued but I was more interested in the smoker circle that was quickly forming around the Saurids with them, myself, and Bernhard. I certainly didn’t expect to have to join in a smoker circle as part of a cultural exchange, but at least this was more comfortable than all the talking and good natured exchange that everyone else was doing. “Trunkatte they called it. Not exactly designed for the British palette, but not terrible either. Heavy, thick flavors that catch easily in your throat, Trunkatte takes no prisoners and holds no punches. Not exactly for the faint of heart or casual smoker for that matter. I’ll have to take some back to the office in case we get any Saurid smokers to visit. Poor Bernhard though. It took a lot out of me just to hold my own with the Saurids, but he didn’t stand much of a chance. Was hacking like a sick baby he was. Never seen a troll practically roll over like that.”

After the talk completed we agreed to meet this spider fellow (who I later realized was some kind of powerful spirit) and they agreed to look after Chester in the meantime. “Whose Chester? Why the Chesire we wrangled earlier. What do you mean why am I bothering to name an animal I have no means or reason to keep. I’ll have you know that animals deserve names just like the rest of us! And Chester is a kind soul at heart, just takes a bit of knowing is all. Besides, it’s a great name for a Chesire. Maybe I’ll keep him after all.”

We made our way to the cave where Kisses with Spiders was said to reside. As the cook of the group I was watching our rations carefully by this point. Because our initial journey did not include this 3 day side trip to this cave. We still would have about 3 days worth of provisions left after all said and done with the Saurids but we would need to stock up before heading back up to Fort Alice lest we risk running out of food. And that, as my mother used to say, is a fate far worse than death. Regardless, that is a problem for another day. For now we decided to focus on the trip to cave which ended up being relatively easy enough. Our little group was built for this kind of excursion into the Gruv Woods and by now this kind of light travel was second nature to us. No, getting to the site of the cave was not the issue, but rather descending the perilous ravine of where the cave sat at the bottom. It would seem that if we wanted to get to this cave we would have to find a way across this dangerous decline and then descend directly downward where the cave in question was. I could have sworn I heard the sound of three Saurids laughing as we stood there dumb trying to figure out how we were going to navigate this unexpected challenge.

The solution we came up with was a bad one. But a solution it was nonetheless. I do not envy Bernhard for being on the receiving end of it.

1. Cut down a tree of appropriate dimension
2. Woodwork an improvised bridge. Ideally one that could be a drawbridge. More ideally one that has footholds and could act like a ladder which everyone could crawl across on.
3. Tie horses and one Troll to the bridge in case everything goes wrong
4. Attempt to move the log with the assistance of those tied in
5. Pray that nothing goes wrong

But of course something did. If not for the raw strength of Bernhard many of us (including my horses) would have been taking a drink at the bottom of this ravine. His gut certainly took a bruising after the tree slammed into him, but we managed to position our best attempt at a bridge where we needed it so we could cross. Nasty business that was but not as nasty as the vertical climb we would have to do next to get to the cave. Fortunately Bernhard had climbing gear and the experience to use it. Unfortunately he was the only one. I was not so fortunate climbing down the cliff side. If not for Bernhard watching my back I’m not sure i would have made it. Now I’m not saying I didn’t manage the climb. But it was the experience of someone who knew how to climb who made my job easier (the gear helped as well).

So we made it in and the only thing I can tell you about it in truth was that there were a lot of small spiders. Those with magic said something about an Orca Spider in the room but I didn’t see anything like that (at least not yet). But I imagine something was there because four silk beds were woven right before my eyes. Unsettling to say the least. I got the distinct feeling we were being invited into these silk contraptions that could best be described as a coffin. At least they looked comfy.

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Re: Love and Cheshires.

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:47 pm

Old Cusa continues his story.

We all hesitated, but the next thing I knew, everybody else was crawling into the cocoons the spider had wove. When I crawled in, the many tiny spiders bit me many, many times, and I let the poison pull me under. I immediately awoke in a different cave. The new cave was huge. It had no visible exit. There were crystals embedded in the walls, and large mushrooms growing from the floor.  There was a 100 foot wide ball of webbing suspended (by some unseen means) 20 feet off the ground with many small holes.. A stream of green liquid streamed from the ceiling onto the ball, and apparently flowing though the ball and streaming from some of the holes in the ball of webbing into a small pool on the floor. 

We quickly determined that this was some sort of dream world. Whenever we took a breath it burned our lungs horribly, so we held our breaths and spoke as little as possible. I examined the pool of green liquid. It looked like an acid of some sort, and I determined that it was a mild poison of some sort. The reverend Rowen was looking at the crystals, and determined that they could be attached in some way, but neither he nor I could figure out what could be constructed from them. Alvin determined that the mushroom shafts were very highly sticky, but the caps could be handled safely. He quickly started sticking them to a wall in the form of a ladder, which Bernhard started to climb. He got to the roof, and continuing to plant mushrooms and use them as climbing holds got above the ball of webbing and dropped down onto it. Alvin followed but instead of climbing across the ceiling, swung on a rope made of mushrooms. He then lowered a rope for the rest of us. 

We all climbed into the ball of webbing and it quickly became pitch dark. We navigated by feel toward the center of the ball, and soon we were all able to talk to the spirit who lived inside the ball. 

The Spirit "kisses of spiders", after some prompting, told us the story of the curse upon Lake Caldirae. It seems that about 120 years prior, a tribe of Aquatic Saurid had lived in the lake. This tribe had raided the Spider Silk villages excessively. To put a stop to the raids, the Spider Silk Shamans and Kisses of Spiders enslaved a very powerful water spirit and encased it in a vessel made of ceramic, glass, and wood. A team of warriors carried the entrapped spirit to Lake Caldirae, and activated a compulsion to produce great cold, then dropped the artifact into a deep part of the lake. The lake froze almost instantly, killing all members of the aquatic tribe (this was done when all members of the tribe were likely to be in their homes) and also killed the Spider Silk warriors who delivered the spirit vessel. This sort of attack was considered extremely dishonorable, and the spider silk shamans now have an extremely poor reputation with all the local elemental spirits, and also with any Saurids who know the story (which the Spider Silk tribe has managed to keep fairly quite, such that few other Saurids know of it). 

Kisses of spiders told us that if we could remove the "anchor" from the lake, the lake would recover. And if we could Destroy the anchor, the spirit would be freed unharmed. But until any of that happened, the spirit was likely to be very hostel to everybody. I figured that with creative use of some spells, I might be able to move ice and carry air under the water. We returned to the Spider Silk Elders to ask their Shaman to teach me the spells needed. 

AP: 600 + 400 + 100 = 1100 + journal.  Spent all (8970) AP.

The Control Water spell allows Cusa to move (at spellcasting rank 6), six times his own volume of an element.
Assuming Cusa weights 150 pounds and assuming he has about the same density as water, he can move 900 pounds of water or 828 pounds of ice (0.92 density of water).
1 foot cube of water weights 62.4 pounds, and 1 cubic foot of ice weights 57.37 pounds, so whether you calculate by ice or water, he can move 14.4 cubic feet of ether (the true measure is volume, but had trouble finding volume of a human in cubic feet).

At 50 unc rating, and 3 strain per casting (due to my strain discount by having to buy all the spells separately), I can cast it 16 times before needing to do recovery tests or healing. If I use all my recovery tests and Rowen keeps casting healing on me until HE is out of recovery tests we should be able to quadruple that. Call it 65 castings per day.

WWII escape tunnels were as small as 24 inches square. Assume Bernhard will need 30 or 36 inches square.
at 24 inches square, need 4 cubic feet per foot, so 3.6 feet per casting. Which will give a 234 feet of 24x24 inch tunnel per day.
at 30 inches square, need 6.25 cubic feet per foot so 2.3 feet per casting. 150 feet of 30x30 inch tunnel per day.
at 36 inches square, need 9 cubic feet per foot, so 1.6 foot per casting. 104 feet of 36x36 inch tunnel per day.

Needed materials:
Cold weather gear for everybody else.
A lot of rope. At least the length plus depth of the lake. 3 times that would be better.
draft harness for the horses (very different from riding harness and includes horse collar).
A small sled for drawing cusa out of the tunnel.
Other ice working and moving tools. axes, saws, wheelbarrows, etc.
At least one very large, very tough leather sack that can hold 900 pounds of ice, with a strong yet quick drawstring closure.
At least one large sled to carry the full sack.

Needed plan: how to locate the actual artifact under the ice.
I have one or two ideas, but they probably will not work, Will ask the Elders for the name of the spirit their ancestors bound. (this is the sort of thing that shamans would teach their apprentices). Will also ask the elders if they have any ideas for locating it. Cusa is not the sort to think of scientific ideas for measuring temperature, but maybe somebody else can come up with a clever way to actually locate the thing?
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Sun Sep 26, 2021 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Love and Cheshires.

Post by supermooboo » Sun Sep 26, 2021 5:36 am

"I can't remember when I first started having this nightmare. I'm still waiting to wake up." ~ Alvin the Fearless Baker

There was really only one thing to do at this point: "Bottoms up friends. I just wish what might be my last drink was something a wee bit stronger than this watered down crap." Liquid courage downed we decided to chance the silk coffins. Cusa was to be our watch. If everything was fine he would "join us" afterwards (whatever that means). I'm not exactly sure what I did in me life to deserve this kind of punishment but now that it's come to this I suppose there's no point in complaining.

So I did it. "Got right into the silk coffin I did. Not a shred of Fear. Not I, Alvin the Fearless Baker. No sir. Put up a right good fight too. Those spiders didn't know what hit them. Sure I got bitten all over and I'm still not sure what really happened next. But! I showed them, and that's what matters. I also got these weird magic scars on my hands now that only magicians with "the sight" can see or some lot. But that hardly concerns me."

After what felt like an eternity struggling against the countless spiders that were mobbing me I passed out. I'm not sure how long I was out but I don't imagine it was long. "The air itself was poison. I could feel it right in the lungs like I was hit by a lory. I must not have been passed out that long lest my longs be dead by now. But where was I anyway?" The surrounding area had a basin filled with a liquid that immediately reminded me of poison. A waterfall that flowed from an unknown source fed into a large silk cocoon with 4 holes (1 for each of us) that dripped into the basin. We got the impression that we needed to get up there but there wasn't exactly a staircase to help us up.

Looking around I found the most curious of mushrooms that seemed to stick together with a stronger force than any adhesive I've used to date. "You want a foothold? Done. A rope? Easy. I even worked on a ladder for a bit. Those mushrooms were incredible! Too bad I couldn't take any of them with me." Using these mushrooms Bernhard was able to get a foothold along the walls and ceiling with his climbing gear to make it to the cocoon. Not quite the climber that Bernhard is I decided to fasten a rope from mushrooms and swing myself over. Once there Cusa shouted out to me to drop a rope for them to climb up. Good idea. We all eventually made it up safely.

"Why have you come into my Palor" was the first thing the spirit said. And what a creature it was. Large, imposing, and perhaps most noticeably everywhere. I could feel it's words seeping into my bones with every fiber of my being. It was not pleasant. But I had come here willingly so I could do little but put up with it. Kisses with Spiders went on to explain all the missing details about the 'shame' that the saurids from before were so evasive about. That said it was all pretty straightforward. "So basically the saurids pissed off some powerful creature and that creature is related to the frozen lake. There's some more magic involved but the sum of it was this: not good. Honestly curses might not be my wheelhouse but even a layman like me knows that dealing with crap like that is nothing but trouble."

I've asked for an explanation about I really experienced that day on many occasion and the most I could understand was I went to a 'magic place.' Well if that's what magic feels like then I want nothing to do with it that's for sure! Regardless before we knew it we were back in the cave. "And then before anyone else knew it I was out of there. Honestly, if I never see a spider again then I'll be good!"

All of these experiences has led me to realize how important crafting can be in the field. I'll need to redouble my efforts if we are to succeed in solving this curse business without all of us dying.

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Re: Love and Cheshires.

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Sep 26, 2021 9:30 pm

Old Cusa continues his story.

We trained and re-equipped at the saurid village, before we set out to the frozen lake. They taught me the spells Gather the Water, Gather the Air, Control the Water, and Control the Air All of which I felt would probably be helpful to know for the upcoming project. 

The lake is long (almost 10 miles) and narrow (varying between one to two miles, with windings and many inlets and peninsulas. The remains of the three towers are about in the middle, but at a narrow point of the lake so only a bit more than a half mile from shore. We learned that the towers were about 5 stories tall from the bottom of the lake at that point, but mostly underwater, so the lake was 4 stories deep at that point. 

I had been expecting the lake to be frozen solid with no liquid water, but we were shocked to learn that the ice was only about 4 feet thick at the top of the lake. Inside the towers the water was thinner at only about 2 feet thick, and the water was not quite as cold. I used gather the water to make a large hole in the ice, we could watch it slowly refreeze from the ice edges only (in Alaska ice forms from the air down as well as from the edge of the ice inward). I then used Divination to ask the spirits of the people who once lived here (as opposed to elemental spirits) where the vessel the Elemental Spirit was bound to was, and I got the feeling that the vessel (which had been described to us as being about 30 pounds and 4 feet tall, made of Ceramic, Glass, and Wood) was spiked into the root of one of the three towers. 

However as soon as I asked my question (and got my partial answer), the clouds dissipated and  I felt a scratching under the ice. 4 cadaverous (dead - with flesh literally hanging from sometimes exposed bones) Aquatic Saurids leaped from the water and attacked us. Several of us were sorely wounded before the undead were dispatched. It seemed that the dead of the area were just as angry as the Elemental Spirit. We had been hopeing that the dead would not be angry with US, just with the spider silk clan.

Sh-kem volunteered to dive under the ice. It was too dark for him to see much, but he easily found a large stone dome between (and built into the bases of) the three towers. There was a hole 3 or 4 feet across that had violently pierced the dome. He saw something moving below him, returned to report. 

AP: 600 + 600 + 100 + 100 = 1400 plus journal. 

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