A Chance Encounter - RPLOG
It is a clear, cold morning in the city of Braevales, as to be expected from the mountainous west of Cliffside. Whether the involved beings arrived by airship or where already in Cliffside they all converged towards the city gates of Braevales where the Pathfinder's Society caravan was preparing to move towards the ruins.
A tall great bustard being and a shorter, and much younger, jasmine being can be seen talking to each other. The moment they finish the jasmine being departs a couple of minutes before the sellswords begin lining up in front of the great bustard
A small salamander slips out from amongst the beings coming out of Braevales, having spent the night in the town itself in preparation for this event. He moves to mingle with the forming mass of sellswords, offering the bustard-in-charge a big smile and an energetic wave in greeting. He peers around at the other sellswords, looking for any faces he might recognize.
William arrives a few minutes behind the salamander, making his way toward the caravan and glancing over his travelling companions. He offers a nod toward the bustard as well as the salamander, hands resting on his cane as he awaits further instruction.
Hugo walks along sedately, tapping his fine, ornate cane on the street as he walks, his overly long tail draped over his arm. The snow white lion tosses his immaculately coifed mane and stops to lean on his cane as he looks around. He certainly stands out amidst the gathering of mercenaries. He seems rather older than most of them, for a start, and his clothing does not look like it belongs to a mercenary.
From this distance the assembled sellswords get a better look at the great bustard. A tall being in an immaculate, prim attire and sporting a non-sense expression, "Greetings, Freeswords, you may address me as Alfred." the bustard says as he eyes the group, "Mister Pondleaf, your involvement in this expedition will be noted down." Alfred adds when he notices the salamander before looking at other newcomers giving the whole group a quick scan before jutting down something on a ledger he has in his hand, "As a reminder: You have signed a contract for the Pathfinder's Society. Client, Ridgewell Aeneanas. Payment, a hundred and fifty crowns per being. Job description, you are all hired to secure an underground section of an ancients city, eliminating all threats, and reporting what you find. Nothing else. Things to note, the client demands that all collateral damage to be kept to a minimum and no looting or souvenir taking should occur. The Pathfinder's Society is not responsible for your protection if you break those rules. A reminder, our client is an elder candidate, so I advice against getting on his bad side."
After his small lecture, Alfred steps aside and points at the empty cart behind him, "If you still accept this job please enter the cart. It will take you to your destination. Otherwise, you can leave. The Society will still play for your travel fees for the inconvenience."
Zuri giggles as the bustard addresses him specifically. "Thank you Alfred!" He peers around once more before bounding off towards the cart as requested. "Don't worry, I've been down this place before, it's going to be fun!" He says to a nearby mercenary with a bright smile. He slips onto the cart and sits up onto the side to get a bit of extra height. "You all brought your gear? Never know what we might find." He peers over towards Hugo, his attention drawn to the fancy-looking snow lion.
William takes a small notebook of his own from within his cloak, hobbling a bit further to climb up within the cart and have a seat. He draws a pen from within his cloak as well, jotting down the details of their mission within it, and stowing it safely away as he looks out among the other beings in the cart. He raises an eyebrow curiously at the excited salamander, nodding along with him and following his gaze to the feline with the far superior cane, Hugo.
Hugo looks disdainfully at the cart, but sighs, hanging his cane over his arm as he climbs in. He frowns and lays a handkerchief on the bench before sitting down. He folds his hands on the head of his cane and looks resolutely ahead, meeting Zuri's gaze for just a moment.
Rokarion says, "You will meet a being by the name of Mervyn once you reach your destination. He is your liaison with Mister Aeneanas, and he will guide you through the explored portion of the ruins." With that said, the bustard moves away from the cart as the caravan begins moving. %r %r The trip takes hours as the caravan trudges across the narrow pathways of the Braevales mountains. The morning has turned into an even colder afternoon as the group finally reaches their destination. The caravan stops outside what appears to be a small camp filled with archaeologists and various scholars as well as Cliffside soldiers. A short distance away is the ancients ruin, judging from the colossal wall that spans from one side of the canyon to the other. Dozens of Cliffsiders enter and exit the immense broken gates of the ruined city, one wonders how this place was not discovered before. %r %r "Disembark!" A voice comes from the the head of the caravan, signalling for the Freeswords to exit their own cart."
"You will meet a being by the name of Mervyn once you reach your destination. He is your liaison with Mister Aeneanas, and he will guide you through the explored portion of the ruins." With that said, the bustard moves away from the cart as the caravan begins moving.
The trip takes hours as the caravan trudges across the narrow pathways of the Braevales mountains. The morning has turned into an even colder afternoon as the group finally reaches their destination. The caravan stops outside what appears to be a small camp filled with archaeologists and various scholars as well as Cliffside soldiers. A short distance away is the ancients ruin, judging from the colossal wall that spans from one side of the canyon to the other. Dozens of Cliffsiders enter and exit the immense broken gates of the ruined city, one wonders how this place was not discovered before.
"Disembark!" A voice comes from the the head of the caravan, signalling for the Freeswords to exit their own cart.
The salamander offers Hugo a big bright smile in return as their eyes meet, but he doesn't engage in conversation just yet. Rather, he sets about to checking his equipment. He peers up as the walls surrounding the ruins become visible in the distance, and helpfully points that out to everyone. "We're almost there!" He says, pointing excitedly. The salamander settles back down to bring out a notebook of his own. He flips past several amateurish sketches until he finds a blank page. He disembarks when prompted, and quickly dashes forward to start sketching the rough outline of the wall on his sketchbook.
William smirks as he watches Hugo set out his handkerchief, glancing back and forth between him and Zuri in hopes of getting some entertainment during the long journey through the mountains. He is sadly disappointed, but does nod in agreement at the salamander's observation, adding a quiet "We are indeed." The cat pulls his cloak tight around himself as the temperature drops further, hurriedly exiting the cart once they've arrived at the camp and waiting around for someone to follow.
Hugo descends from the cart, leaving his handkerchief behind and producing another to dust off his dark suit. He looks around, then loops his tail back over his elbow before unhooking his cane and walking along with the others. He seems wildly out of place here among all of the sellswords and archeaologists, but he walks confidently, watching the crowds with an intelligent gaze. "Will Ridgewell be joining us?" he asks, in a rich deep voice to the world at large.
"Unfortunately, no. Ridgewell is a bit busy in Cliffside with the elections and what not, but I am sure he will be thrilled to know that everyone hear was dying to see him." , a young-ish robin being, clad in robes, says as he moves towards the Freeswords. The robin smirks as he spots Zuri. "Why, hello there Zuri. Good to see that the society is sending some of their higher ups. Heard you and your girl were visting Cliffside." the robin teases before looking at the rest of the group, "Ok, then. You are the Freeswords, no? Good, we were waiting for the meat shields. Follow me, you can gawk but do not dawdle." With that the robin bounds through the gate and the city in turn.
Zuri looks up from his very incomplete sketch to look at the robin. "Mervyn!" He skips forward to walk alongside the avian, giggling at him. "Yep! Long vacation, did us both real good." He peers back at Hugo and smiles. "Yea, also I don't wanna see Mister Ridgewell hurt by the kind of stuff that could be down there. I need him alive so he can pay me!" His tail whips excitedly as he follows alongside Mervyn. "So where are you sending us this time?"
William watches the others in silence, nodding along with the robin and chuckling at his comment about freeswords. He does as he's told and starts to follow along after the avian and the salamander, ear cocked to listen to their conversation.
Hugo frowns hard at the Robin's flippant attitude, but follows along mutely. The lion reaches up and adjusts his cravat, or maybe something under his cravat. He then swaggers along behind the rest, tapping his can along.
The city have not changed much since Zuri saw it last, it was now almost fully debris free leaving nothing but the large marble buildings and the defaced statues covering the whole city, now with more beings moving about as well. Of course it becomes apparent after a couple of minutes inside this place that whoever lived in this city, they were obviously all as tall if not taller than your average heavy clan being. The trip through the city takes a good half an hour before the group reach a large open square with a magnificent building on the other side, it must have been the city hall when this place was once populated. "Ok, so the stairs to the underground levels should be inside, any questions before you enter?" the robin says as he begins walking up the stairway leading inside the building, judging from the size of each step those shorter beings will be more climbing than walking here.
Zuri nods at Mervyn's words. "No questions!" He starts stepping towards the stairway before stopping and turning around. "I assume we're the first ones in, right? Noone to rescue or anything like that?" After that question he turns back towards the stairway and starts clambering up the first step, the nimble salamander used to this sort of deal on account of his stature.
William follows the robin reluctantly, his head swivelling around as he takes in the sights of the ancient city. He looks up, scanning over the outside of the building across the square. "What sort of dangers should we expect?" he asks, not pausing for an answer as he starts his way on the stairs as well, hoping a head start will make up for his lacking mobility compared to the salamander.
"Only let us have progress," Hugo says, following along with the others, though he shows no interest in trying to catch up with the others or to keep up. Anything worth doing or worth seeing will doubtless wait for him.
Mervyn shrugs as he guides the group towards the room that leads underground, "No idea. You will be the first group in as per the agreement with the Pathfinder's Society, but expect traps, and maybe if you are lucky a giant glowing jellyfish, right Zuri?" the robin teases as he guides the group down the staircase.
The architecture underground remains similar to the one above ground, but with a lot more torches and magical crystals that act as light sources, "The region you are going to explore is probably the last unexplored portion of this place, unless of course that place happens to have more stairs leading down."
Minutes later the group enter a large cavern room that have access to an ancient-made ungrounded lake. The other exit from this room is a dark hallway closed by road blocks and a number of soldiers, "Here we are, anything else before we go in? Also grab a magical crystal from the guards, you will need it to see." the robin says as he leans back onto a wall awaiting the group to get ready.
Zuri pouts at the mention of 'giant glowing jellyfish'. "That was a one time thing and won't be happening again." He continues to follow Mervyn until they pass by the underground lake, and stares at it defiantly. "One time thing!" He keeps his arms crossed until they reach the hallway, at which point his curiosity wins out and he steps towards the doorway to peer inside. "Ooh... mm.." He nods and goes to grab one of the glowy crystals, grasping it with his prehensile tail to keep both hands free. "Nothing else. Thanks Mervyn!" He steps past the door, keeping his gaze low for any tripwires or pressure plates. "Watch your step everyone."
"We can only hope to be so fortunate," William says, hobbling along after Mervyn on their way into the underground. He looks around in awe at their surroundings, peering over at the blocked hallway and starting on his way hobbling toward it, eager to grab a crystal for himself. He hold shis crystal in hand and follows cautiously after Zuri, eyes on the floor and cautiously prodding ahead with his cane, sure to let Zuri do the bulk of the pushing ahead. "My name is Will, if it's ever important," the black cat says aside to his exploring partners.
Hugo accepts an enchanted crystal for light and swaggers along with the others, holding his light up. Interestingly, he has stopped tapping his cane along on the ground and instead holds it gently in his left hand. "Jellyfish, indeed," he rumbles as he walks smoothly along, letting others blaze the way, "A pleasure, Will, and an honor Mister Pondleaf. I have heard a lot about your Explorers' Society.
The robin gestures for the rest of the Freeswords to enter as he takes a position behind them. The light exposes more and more of the hallway as the group moves inside, there does it not seem anything particularly eye catching, just old murals, benches and stalls in various states of disrepair, and the telltale signs of an abandoned city.
As the group delves deeper suddenly all of them could hear whispers from the darkness surrounding them, "Go back!", "It's dangerous.", "Escape, do not enter.", and various other haunting noises telling the group to drop their flags and run.
Suddenly, the group arrive in front of a crossroad, the road leading to the right is closed with debris leaving the road to the front and the road to the left, and of course the group could listen to the whispers around them and simply go back.
Zuri grins at Hugo. "Didn't know I was getting kinda-sorta famous already! Please, call me Zuri. We're friends here! And yea, this here is a Society job actually, hence stuffy-face Alfred up front." He pauses as the whispers commence, and peers around with a raised brow. "Uuh... am I going loopy, or can anyone else hear that?" He steps into the crossroad, stepping slowly as he checks for anything unusual. "Hm... which way to go.."
William holds a magical light up near his face, peering around into the dark. "Not the most welcoming city I've visited," the cat says, pausing as Zuri does. "The locals don't seem to have any good advice. Shall I flip a coin?" he asks, glancing between the two open paths before them.
Hugo's lips tighten at the sound of the whispers. "I hear them, Mister Pondleaf, Zuri," he says, coming to a stop at the crossroads and looking around. "Can we clear this path?" he asks, waving his cane at the fallen rubble, "I find that I have a taste for the forbidden, though I have no skill with earth magic. Failing that, I would opt to move straight ahead."
Zuri looks at the caved in passage, then shakes his head. "Nah, we're not going go that way, not any time soon. Maybe after we secure the rest of the way and get some help to clear that." He looks over at the passage leading to the left. "Well.. alright. This way then!" He stalks over that way, stepping forward one stone tile at a time while fully expecting to step on a pressure plate at any second.
William glances aside to Hugo, a smirk on his face as Zuri moves along to the left. "Well, the leader leads," he says with a shrug, making his way along after Zuri, crystal still held up to his face. "I suppose we'll be coming back either way.." He leans over on his cane to peer into the dark, letting Zuri move ahead slightly to clear out any pesky pressure plates while keeping his own steps as light as possible.
Hugo shrugs and points ahead with his cane. "Left it is then," he rumbles with a hint of a northern accent. He follows after Zuri, keeping an eye on the little salamander, his cane hanging in one hand and the other holding his glowing gem aloft.
The group presses on, Mervyn making a show of yawning in boredom as he just follows the group. The left path is not that different really from the rest of the place, the same architecture, with more and more murals. The ones here are more well-kept showing off the ancients fighting large beasts, debating among each other, and worshipping various spirits.
The path finally opens into a large room. Obvious on either side of the rooms are various openings that will no doubt have projectiles inside them. A number of stones on the floor are slightly upraised forming four paths across the room towards the other end. "Which one is the correct path? Do you trust your luck?" a whisper can be heard emanating from the all around.
The small 'mander steps gingerly into the room, slowly heading towards the threshold where the four paths begin. He peers at each of them, then looks around for the source of the voice. "Hm... not even a clue on which one is right? That's no fair!" He giggles. "Hrm.. okay.. this doesn't seem too hard to navigate, but who knows what's gonna happen if we pick the wrong path. Anyone have a guess how we can handle this?"
William follows after the salamander, standing just behind him and peering down each of the four paths. "I have two coins to flip," he suggests, with a shrug and a chuckle. "If I had to choose," he says, pointing down the rightmost of the paths, "I would choose this one - but my luck is awful, so perhaps we can rule it out?" He shrugs again and clears his throat, stepping back to allow the others a closer look at the paths.
Hugo raises an eyebrow at the sound of the whisper, then turns to look at Zuri. "Life does not often come with hints," he says, then strides confidently toward one of the paths, "And I always trust my luck." He does not even slow as he steps on to the middle left path.
The room vibrates as Hugo steps on one of the paths and continues moving causing the four paths to descent back into the floor, then everything goes silent again.
Zuri smiles brightly at Hugo. "Ha, I like that attitude!" He pauses to see what happens as the lion steps onto the path.. and blinks. "Huh.. was that a good thing or a bad thing?" He peers around. "Things haven't exploded yet, so I guess it was a good thing?"
William shuffles forward as the other paths descend, hurrying along after him on the remaining one. "Well, it's certainly narrowed our options down, so I suggest we commit to it either way!" Despite being obviously hurried, he isn't exactly quick about it, limping along with the aid of his cane. "I suppose confidence is key!"
"Thank you, Zuri," Hugo says, turning and giving a little nod to the Salamander, "Shall we continue?" The lion raises his crystal high to improve his view and strides forward with a confident swagger.
With all the group across the room, the beings continue on their straight path. Another couple of minutes of nothing but annoying whispers, murals, and various pieces of furniture the group stops when they reach a closed gate, with a large statue standing in front of it. The statue is almost four meters tall and it is of a knight completely covered in armour holding nothing but a mace in his hand.
Beyond belief, the statue actually begins moving slowly as his vibrating body shakes off the dust that has gathered on it throughout the generations. The statue's armoured head stares into the direction of the group as it raises its mace above its head, preparing to crush any who comes near it. "HE WHO WANTS TO USE THIS GATE, CROSS ME IF YOU DARE!" a bellowing voice comes from the statue before it goes silent and still again.
Zuri blinks as he looks up at the statue. "H-huh.." As it starts to vibrate and move he lets out a little 'eep!', stepping aside as if expecting that hammer to come smashing down right away. When it doesn't he looks up at it. "Mmm... curious mechanism. I wonder how its mechanism works.." He looks around. "Mmm.. I think I could try to run past it, I might be fast enough." He looks back at the others. "Unless you have a better idea."
William pauses, nodding at the statues warning before he continues on his unsteady hobble past the statue, as confidently as one can stride with a limp. "Well, it seems to be a recurring theme that just daring at all is enough," he says back to Zuri, walking in a perfect path to be smashed by a statue, and he keeps his eyes up and ready to jump from the path. During this, he continues speaking. "As the most crippled of the group, I have the least to risk here, anyway," he says with a smirk and a halfhearted chuckle.
The moment William enters the striking range of the statue and walks forward, the mace falls down alarmingly fast towards William. A loud crashing sound can be heard as the mace thankfully hits the floor, inches away from turning the cat into a pancake. The mace then is raised again into its former position and going still again as if waiting for William to see his next move.
Hugo did not get to where he is by being timid. The huge, snowy lion nods in moderate approval of William's forward actions. The lion walks toward the statue and stands just outside of mace range, assuming that the thing is not yet done with William. He stops and leans on his cane.
William blinks rapidly, reaching up to adjust his glasses and shake away some of the shock from the close hit. "Well!" he says, glancing back to his exploring companions with a resigned shrug and a sigh. "I should have known I hadn't the luck!" Looking down at the mace, then up at the statue, he lifts his crystal up to get a better look at the thing. "Zuri, have you any advice?"
Zuri wiggles his snout at the statue. "Advice.. well, that is no ordinary trap. Something's real fishy here. I don't see any mechanical-y bits that I could jam. Hm..." He looks down at the impact spot for the mace, then back up. "I bet I'm faster than the thing!" He rears up a few steps, looking at the statue defiantly, then darts forward quickly. He doesn't intend to actually step into danger, but to stop just short to bait the mace, and then vault over it -after- it comes crashing down.
Zuri's trick seems ineffectual as the mace remains floating overhead. However, the statues legs seem to vibrate as its head focuses its gaze on William.
Zuri comes to a skid, just shy of the impact site. He crouches down, one leg tensed and ready to cartwheel him over the mace and... nothing. It doesn't come down. He pouts. "Hey! What? I'm not worthy of trying to squish?" He stands up straight again, looking over at William, then back at the statue. "Hm... cross me if you dare..." He repeats thoughtfully.
William grinds his teeth anxiously, looking down at the impact site just beside him and then around the statue at the gate. He looks up at the vibrating statue, noticing that he now has it's attention. "Sorry to keep you waiting," he mumbles to it, glancing back to his companions once more before he takes a deep breath. He lifts a foot to step toward the gate again, ready to jump away with his better leg if the knight was tempted by the display.
Hugo coughs politely at William. "Young man," he says, "You did hear it invite you to cross it, did you not?" Honestly, the young people today. Couldn't follow instructions at all! The lion reaches his right hand inside of his coat and leaves it there.
The statue stops vibrating and goes still again as William crosses it moving between the stone pillars that is the statue's legs and reaching the gate behind it. The statue on the other hand keeps its battle stance as it waits for the other two beings to act.
Zuri nods. "I think.. I think you're right. It just dared you. Maybe it is quite literally that, a dare." Zuri looks back at William, waiting to see what he's going to do. He nods as William makes the crossing. "Well there we go then, a nice friendly dare." The salamander steps forward himself, looking up at the statue anxiously as he hopes the 'invitation' extends to himself as well.
William nods in agreement with Zuri, turning to face his companions once he's made it to the gate. "I think you should just walk," he advises, beckoning the others closer and holding up his light for guidance. "I doubt it will hit you, just don't turn back."
Hugo removes his hand from whatever inner pocket it had been resting in, and nods at both William and Zuri's assessments. "Very good, gentlemen," the lion says as he strides confidently forward to walk between the statue's legs.
The statue vibrates once more and returns back to its neutral position as Zuri and Hugo move between the statue's legs and reach the gate as well. With the statue back in its place, the gate opens giving the group and Mervyn access to another room. This room is completely barren except for three doors on each of the other three walls. Nothing else stands out here, yet at least.
The salamander pumps his fist as Hugo finishes the crossing, then turns to William with a bright smile. "Nicely done!" He sashays towards the next room, his tail swinging behind him and casting a big moving shadow of his body as the glowy crystal is moved about. "Huh..." He looks around at the three doors. "Well, this is underwhelming.." He steps towards the right hand side door, examining it for any distinctive details.
William enters the room, stepping aside as the others enter, waiting in particular to follow Hugo. He looks between the three doors and chuckles, tapping his fingers along the top of his cane. "I doubt there's much strategy to this," he says to Zuri, watching him inspect the door.
"Young men," Hugo rumbles, "It is about gambling. The trick is always to make your opponent think they know the trick, while knowing all the while, that the odds are never in your favor. You will lose some time, but perhaps it will not be this time." The lion walks directly to the centermost door of the three and blithely throws it open.
The door the salamander decides to inspect is covered in strange markings that are either words or decorations as well as the carving of what appears to be A drowning ship.
The door Hugo opens reveals deep blackness. If someone attempted to shine the crystal closer they will notice that there is nothing here but a pit or at least that is what can be seen. There appears to be no walls except the ones holding the door, and no roof or floor, just a possibly infinite black expanse.
Zuri blinks. "Huh. A ship. A sinking ship. Hm..." He turns to his two companions. "Hey, what do you guys think of a.." He pauses, his eyes scanning the infinitely empty space that Hugo seems to have uncovered. "W-woah. What?" He bounds forward, getting close to peer at it curiously.. but not too close. "What.. what is that?"
"If a visit is your desire, then a leap of faith is what we require. Whether it brings you doom or to our court room is the gamble you take." A feminine voice can be heard from the opened door. "Do not listen to her, many are your choices. Two more doors to choose from." a more masculine voice says from the centre of the room.
William follows Hugo to the door, watching intently as he throws it open. The cat's ear flicks, and he lifts a hand to adjust his spectacles, holding it out ahead of him to compare the coloring of his fur to the color of the dark expanse. His ear perks and twitches at the sound of the voices from within, tilting his head curiously. "I'm not particularly invested in either option," he says with a shrug, lifting a hand to give Hugo an encouraging pat on the back. "After you."
It says something about Hugo that he is moved to listen to the masculine voice. It has nothing to do with the dark hole, nor any sort of fear, if one is to take the Lion's demeanor at face value, it just seems that he takes more stock in manly advice. "Let us see our other choices," he says, tossing his snowy mane and stepping to one side to throw open another door, "A man does not gamble until he has the facts, after all."
The two voices go silent as Hugo moves to the door on the western wall before opening it and revealing a small closet-sized room with a large chest in the middle. A sign is nailed to the chest that says 'Do not open. Snakes' in being tongue obviously. What a bizarre thing to find.
Zuri watches this with a mixture of surprise and bemusement. He turns to his own door, and quietly hopes that he is not about to open a door into the depths of the deep blue sea as he pulls on it to see what lies beyond.
The door opens and the salamander is greeted with the sight of a dry pool and a boat inside it. On the other hand the room itself has its own three extra doors, each with their own small slab of stone acting as a 'harbour' that can be reached by getting into the pool and climbing them. Looks like someone forgot to fill the water in this room. One wonders what test was it supposed to be about.
William follows with Hugo, looking out into the room with the chest in the centre. He peers in, reading the sign aloud slowly. "I doubt there's much point in that room. Be it treasure or snakes, we're not permitted to take either." He then wanders over to the other room, and after peering into it, shakes his head and returns to the center door. "Shall I?" he asks.
Hugo nods at the various rooms, then steps back to consider them. "I have thought out my options, and made a decision," the lion rumbles, then strides straight for the black door and steps through.
"Pity, so much more doors to be opened, so much choices could have been made. Not so adventurous are we?" the masculine voice says as Hugo steps through and immediately falls into the blackness underneath him. The chest remains closed and three more doors are unopened in the boat room. The cat and the salamander have their options set.
Zuri gasps as Hugo steps on through the inky blackness. He darts forward and leans over the door threshold to try and catch up to him, but simply watches as he falls out to nothingness. "Uuh... well, there goes my idea." He bites his lip, then looks over at William. "Well, it was nice knowing you buddy but I have a feeling we're going to have to take a huge risk here, just like you did at the gate." He looks over at the boat room, then the chest, and decides to try his luck with the latter. He heads over to the chest, hesitating for a moment before he flings it open.
The salamander opens the chest and finds...nothing, an empty chest with nothing inside. In the main room, small vibrations from the sealing is all the warning William gets as suddenly dozens of snake fall from the ceiling towards the floor. One falls on William's shoulder and attempts to bite, but thankfully the robe is thick enough to prevent from locking on and the cat quickly throws the snake back to the ground.
When Zuri turns around he will see that the floor is now covered in snakes and Mervyn is busy eating a sandwich in one corner wile pushing the snakes away with air magic. The room Zuri is in vibrates as a section of the door moves to the side opening yet another path. Three closed doors and one open hallway, and a room filled with snakes. The choices are set.
William shrugs at the voice, nodding. "Well, we can't keep the snakes, and my legs are so very tired of climbing.." he mumbles, leaning onto his good leg as he lifts his cane up into both hands, hobbling toward the door to blackness. He pauses to watch Zuri enter the room, calling after him. "It would seem we only have one option le-" he says, cut off by the falling of snakes. He sighs and looks dead ahead, pulling the snake from his shoulder and throwing it to the ground. With this, he promptly steps into the inky darkness, with a casual hop before plummeting into nowhere.
Zuri looks utterly confused by all this. He sighs. "Yep, spirits." He says to himself. He turns to the open hallway and explores forward in that direction. Anything's got to be better than a pit of snakes after all.
The two felines plummet into the unknown while the salamander dashes off into the open path, Mervyn deciding to tag along after finishing his sandwich. "Pity, I forgot to get some pie with me." the robin says with a burb as he and the salamander move through a zigzagging straight line.
With a flash of light, Hugo and William suddenly see each other standing at the base of a marble staircase leading to a small shrine above with an old, blindfolded Creator lady standing there. Zuri and Mervyn also finally burst into that room not a moment later. "So those are the inheritors of this world." the old lady says with a smile, seemingly starting into the distance. "A gamble you played and to your fate you scrambled. What is your purpose here, beings of Promise?"
Zuri steps quietly into the room, peering up at the blindfolded woman suspiciously. He peers back at Mervyn, gives him a quick shrug, then bounds off to stand alongside William and Hugo. He peers up at the blindfolded woman again and waves at her. "Hi there! My name's Zuri and wow, your place here was pretty fun! Apart from the snake bit." He peers around. "Purpose.. well, we're here to discover, and find, and generally learn more about. That pretty much encompasses the lot."
William stumbles about and catches his footing, lowering his cane to the ground to steady himself and get his bearings. He gives a nod to Hugo, glancing back to do the same to his other two companions, before directing his attention to the blindfolded woman, scanning her over to take in the details of her appearance. "The salamander's summed it up," he says, taking a step up the staircase.
"While Mister Pondleaf has the noblest intentions," Hugo says in deep, fluid tones, "I fear that I am a bit of an opportunist and I hoped to find something here to endear myself to a prominent businessman." The well dressed lion is certainly blunt and brutally honest. "I am not sure that you are what I was looking for, though," he says thoughtfully, leaning on his ornate cane.
"Gotta give it to the old man, he has gall." the robin says with a smirk as he eyes the spirit, "Essentially my employer hired those people to clear any dangers within this place. for proper excavation to begin." he quickly adds.
The blindfolded woman keeps her smile as she listens to each answer before finally giving a single nod of her head, "Fascinating, the kin's description failed to shed the full picture." she says more to herself than the other beings. The old lady smiles again, "And may I know the identities of my guests, or at the very least what masks do they choose to wear."
Hugo nods his head, tossing his snowy mane. "Hugo Snowmane, Lady," he says, and nothing more.
Zuri giggles. "Zuri, like I said! Zuri Pondleaf! Adventurer! Explorer! Pathfinder! And a lot of other things, really. Mostly just a being who gets things done. Or tries to. And who might you be? I mean, I can kinda guess *what* you are based on how whacky this place is." He peers over at William, waiting to hear his response as well.
"William," the cat introduces himself with a bow, lifting his head again to add "Swift, if surnames are necessary." He glances aside at Zuri and smirks, nodding to him before his gaze returns to the spirit. "Scholar, and.. explorer, is the mask of the hour, it would seem."
"Mervyn, bored liaison, lady killer, and the Bad Queen of Sweetwater." the robin says with a shrug as he rubs his chin and looks around.
The spirit takes a step down the stairs, "Hmmm, and what is that guess, Zuri?" the spirit asks before smiling, "I am known by many titles in bygone ages, but the wheel of time has moved forward and such titles are meaningless to the beings of Promise."
The salamander grins. "Let's see. Ancient house full of weird stuff, check. Traps all over the place that both make no sense and are weirdly functional after Saints-know how long, check. Lovely appearance of a Creator lady... well it's happened before! You're a spirit, miss. Er, 'maam. In any case it's a pleasure to meet you!"
William nods in agreement with Zuri, rolling his shoulders and sighing softly. He taps his cane off the floor before taking another step up the staircase. "Hope we haven't intruded," he adds, lifting his cane onto the next step and pushing himself up to step upward along with it.
The spirit chuckles, "Was that not apparent?" she answers back before moving back up, "I am a spirit as you say." she says as her head is lowered to meet the gaze of the beings, or at least appears so, hard to tell with the blindfold. "Long ago, kings, peasants, adventurers, craftsmen, all kinds of people courted me and asked for my good will, but as you told me, beings of Promise. None of you is here for that. Your entrance is your exit, you may leave when you will." she says before she falls into a chair behind her, was that always there?, and stares into the distance.
The salamander seems unfazed by this, actually chuckling. He turns to William and smiles. "Right, I guess this path is fairly clear. I wonder how the archeologists up top are going to react to *this* particular finding."
William shrugs, nodding and chuckling at the salamander. "I hope they'll give her some space.." he mumbles, looking around and stepping down the stairs toward the exit.
The spirit has already disappeared by the time the group turned around to leave. "Well, there we go. Looks like we got a new spirit playing around." the robin says with a shrug as he ushers the group outside with him.
The road back towards the surface is thankfully simpler as the group is given their due rewards and sent on their way while the Society members remain for the time being to finish their contract.