[DRYH] Tracking Amanda (13)

edited July 2014 in DRYH
You're in the sewers of the Warrens now, the place is beginning to seem familiar to you after these many trips. The stench, too, which is not a comfort. You're in a relatively familiar section, one that Sir Ubert led you through before. The place where it became uncomfortably warm. The large pipes over your head are sizzling to the touch, and just low enough to force you to stoop over a little.

How are you feeling in this heat? Does you mask breathe at all?

Lady Dandywine is ahead, walking sure, gliding on her spider legs. It's smooth, how she walks on them nimbly, and unnerving because her head is always level, like a cheetah when it runs. She's able to easily lower her body beneath the pipes. However, Sir Ubert just stopped walking.

When you glance back, you see that his eyes are sown to wicks, the wax having melted completely. He says quietly, without fear, "Mister... Castle. if I continue, I will be well and truly blind. My sight will return when the Wax King gives me new candles, but not until."

"Tsh, young knight, such a shame." Lady Dandywine says politely. "The Howler is no fan of you at all. Perhaps it's best if he stays. What do you say, Max Castle?"


  • "Ubert, I thank you for your assistance, but this is my... task, not yours. Go back to the Wax King... I'll do what I can."
  • Sir Ubert nods. He seems grateful, the thought of losing his sight seems like a familiar horror to him. He bows to you, then Lady Dandywine, turns on a heel and heads back.

    She looks back at him, pausing to observe his exeunt as if it is noteworthy. Then, she looks to you, "I am ever so curious, Max Castle." She says your pseudonym like it's all one name, really. "How is it that a body would have a Blind Knight for a guard and seek a woman who sounds very unpleasant and just happens to be at least half Awake?"
  • My donkey-head gives something like an enigmatic smile. "Lady Dandywine, I may be half an ass, but only half. I know that information is currency, and I believe I have already agreed to your price for this outing. Maybe you have some suspicions? I might be willing to confirm an assumption or two."
  • Your half an ass comment elicits a silent chuckle from her, covered daintily by her hand. She tilts her head to the side when you present her with a chance to confirm assumptions. Lady Dandywine purses her lips in thought for a moment, searching your inhuman eyes. "Are you Awake, MaxCastle?"
  • Another smile. I suspect she wouldn't believe me if I denied it, so, "I am."
  • She makes a little "hmn" noise of self satisfaction. Not smug, she didn't solve the Sphinx's riddle or anything. "Ah. Are you in the service of the Wax King?"
  • "That's a tough question. We haven't made any... formal arrangements, but we've worked together to our mutual benefit."
  • That confuses her for a moment. She looks at you like she's not entirely sure she buys it, but doesn't say so. She holds up a finger, like she's saying "last one", "Were you involved with the... activities at the Finishing School, MaxCastle?"
  • I make a note to ask Ubert, or maybe the King himself, why everyone seems so stymied by the fact that I haven't bent knee to the Wax King.

    A mental sigh. I did agree to confirm or deny, and three questions seems both fair and fitting. "I was, Lady Dandywine." If she's looking, she can't miss the haunted look in my eyes at her question and my answer.

    Pretty sure she knows who I really am by now. She's a Seeker, though. I'd guess she could've found out on her own.
  • She nods slowly. "I don't mind, MaxCastle. Not in the least. I don't care who I work for, to be perfectly honest. I enjoy the work. Seeking. Poking my nose where it doesn't belong and finding secrets."

    Lady Dandywine looks up at you, adding, "I keep secrets as well. They hold their value much better that way. And personally... I was never a fan of Mother When." So saying, she turns back to continue down the corridor.

    Any further conversation before you enter the domain of the Magnificent Howler?
  • edited July 2014
    I follow Lady Dandywine down the corridor, keeping alert and quiet as we get closer to whatever awaits. Replaying our earlier conversation, though, it occurs to me for the first time that Amanda may be as much of a threat to me as this Howler. I did kick her out of my house, and I'm ultimately responsible for what happened to her, no matter what Eileen says.
  • What was poured concrete and tiles give way to hard-packed clay and dirt. The passage slopes upward until you reach the mouth of it. All the while, it becomes hotter and hotter. Sweat pours off of your muzzle, and down your back.

    Lady Dandywine doesn't seem nearly as perturbed. There's some light perspiration on her brow, but her hair is still perfectly coiffed beneath her hat.

    When you reach the surface, you see that you're outside under a starless night, lit only by fire pits. The area is closed in my craggy cliffs and the shadows dance along the clay walls.

    Lady Dandywine approaches a humongous bonfire. The fire roars, the muscular people dancing around the fire like primitives roar with it. There are a few dozen men and women, all athletic and well-formed, scarred from battle and ritual, move with fury in their battle dance.
  • The strangeness never ends. I watch the dancers, listen for a moment, following Lady Dandywine toward the fire. My nerves are at a hair trigger, and I'm ready to act at any moment. Fingers literally twitching with the urge for speed, for doing something.
  • Lady Dandywine announces her presence, "Oh ye hateful host, be warned! The Lady Dandywine comes, bringing a visitor who seeks another!" Her voice is sharp, and the dancing warriors shift and slow their movements, three of them, all sized like linebackers, two men, one... probably a woman, come out of the circle to approach you.

    The pair of you, Lady Dandywine and yourself, you're walking round a column of rock, having walked for minutes to reach this place. The shadows on the cliff move and dance out of size and rhythm of the warriors who should be making them. There are images in the fire, Benny. Images of anger and betrayal. What so you see in them?

    "Who is this ass?" the one-eyed man with a mohawk demands in a loud voice. The probably woman snickers at the joke. One-eye is looking at you, Benny.
  • Looking in the fire, I see images of Bianca dying at Mother When's hand. Images of 'feeding' Bud and Todd and Amanda to Bianca's hunger, laughing. Darius' punches, the texts from Jazz, his puzzled, undirected anger. Earlier, less defined, fights with Heather, tooth-and-claw sibling shit. It's all there in the flames, every moment of anger, every moment when I backed down, let someone down. The worst is this: 11 years old, Bob Kidd is teasing Eileen, pushing and pushing about her mixed parents, her single mom. I turn away, don't defend her, don't start the fight I should have. Betrayal...

    After that, I'm not in the mood for jokes at my expense. I change. I become Beorn from the Lord of the Rings, in bear form, ready for battle and armed with tooth and claw. As I change, "Where. Is. Amanda?"
  • "Ah." One-eye says as you tower over him. He looks up at you and smiles a grim smile. "Good." He moves fast, Benny, scary fast.

    All three of them throw themselves onto you, sweaty hands gripping at your fur, mouths open to bite and rend you. If you want to defeat them, it is Pain Four.
  • I do the needful.

    Discipline: (Rolled: 3d6. Rolls: 4, 2, 4. Total: 10)
    Exhaustion: (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 3, 5. Total: 8)
    Madness: (Rolled: 5d6. Rolls: 2, 6, 5, 5, 6. Total: 24)
  • Pain: (Rolled: 4d6. Rolls: 2, 6, 2, 2. Total: 12)
  • Your three successes tie mine. Player wins ties, but man oh man, that was close!

    Madness Dominates, so make your choice. And what do you do to these three?
  • checking off Benny's one fight box

    I see red for some period of time that must actually be no more than a minute or two, but feels like a week or an eyeblink. After, I look down and the trio of muscled warriors are at my feet. One-eye and his two companions are still breathing, but won't be picking any fights soon, with four broken limbs and a dozen bleeding gashes shared among the three.

    I raise my bear head and shout, releasing the pain of wounds sustained from teeth and fingers, fists and feet, as a roar. "WHERE. IS. AMANDA!"
  • Everyone has stopped. The dancers, the warriors, watching you. On the edge of bloodlust and curiosity. The fire, though, it is rising even higher, fueled by your rage.

    A hand appears from the middle of the fire, reaching from inside the flames and parting it like a man might pull back a gypsy's beaded curtain and walk through.


    You know, somehow you instantly know this is the Magnificent Howler. He looks at you without fear, no hesitation. You feel his power. He may not be as powerful as Mother When, but he is formidable. "I. Am the Magificent Howler. I stole Amanda from the Slumbering World. She is the key to breaking the Mad City. And you will not take her from me."
  • Breaking the Mad City?

    Over the space of a second I become Benny again, though still bear-tall and wearing a cloak of bearskin. I am trembling with adrenaline and pain and take a moment to still myself before I answer. "Ah, Magnificent Howler. You stole Amanda? Did you also kill her brothers?"

    How is Lady Dandywine reacting? To the fight, and to Howler.
  • "Yes. They died at my hands. They defended their blood well. If you knew them, you should be proud." He answers this without regret, without a sense of shame or pride. It was simply thing that needed to be done.
  • At his hands. Defending Amanda. Proud.

    In my head, this is what had happened.

    Bud, sleepless for a few days now and more than certain he's going crazy, walks into Todd's room, intending to take out his frustration, one way or another. Todd struggles, and Bud snaps. Bud's anger and madness manifests as flame, and both are consumed. Amanda, hearing the struggle opens the door in time to witness the grand finale, and in her fear winds up in the Mad City randomly, as I did.

    Or something like that. But if it was not simply a matter of Bianca's feeding leading Bud and Amanda to this craziness, if this Howler sought Amanda out, it's a story changed more than a little from what my guilt has been leading me to. Still, in the end, Amanda would not be here without my choices, so I still have responsibility to discharge.

    I try not to show my bewilderment at having all of my assumptions of the last 24 hours overturned. "How will she break the Mad City? Where is Amanda?" Knowledge first, then action.
  • "She is Awake." The Magnificent Howler explains as if it is enough. He steps towards you, his soul-scythe dips low. "Amanda is under my protection. She will unlock the gates of the Wax King so I can bring him to his knees. Once he has fallen, so shall the last two. Then, chaos will reign."
  • I don't really think I want chaos to reign, but I'm also not sure I want to go into this fight solo. I certainly can't expect Lady Dandywine to get involved.

    I look at his scythe, and speak sincerely. "Magnificent Howler, I do not want this fight right now. Will you allow me to speak with Amanda, so I know she's alright?"
  • Lady Dandywine has been very quietly slipping back away from the firelight, melding into shadows. She moves with that uncanny smoothness that her spider-legs grant her, and when you catch her eyes, she seems interested, but cautious. Not scared, though.

    "Not now?" the Howler repeats you. "Why not now? Do you fear me? What do you offer in trade for the chance to see her? Who the living fuck are you, bear-man?!?"
  • Fuck. This.

    My voice deepens a little, takes on a certain sing-song cadence. "Who am I, Howler? I am the light that comes in at the eye and the sound that comes in at the ear. I am the persistence of vision. I am the darkness between the frames. I am the death of Mother When. I am The Flicker. And I do not negotiate with Nightmares. Show me Amanda."
  • If you wish to cow the Magnificent Howler in his own domain, that's going to be Nine Pain.

    I'm aching to see how this pans out!
  • Discipline: (Rolled: 3d6. Rolls: 3, 2, 5. Total: 10)
    Exhaustion (adding 1): (Rolled: 3d6. Rolls: 3, 1, 2. Total: 6)
    Madness: (Rolled: 6d6. Rolls: 2, 3, 6, 4, 5, 4. Total: 24)
  • Pain: (Rolled: 9d6. Rolls: 5, 1, 5, 3, 5, 1, 6, 6, 4. Total: 36)
  • You succeeded, Pain should dominate... but I'm going to spend BOTH of my Coins of Despair to add two 6s to Madness, which means Madness dominates!

    Check off a box, big guy. I think you have flight left, right?

    Here's how you see Amanda:

    The Magnificent Howler takes the point of his scythe, and in one smooth motion, he presses it against the inside of his leg, and rips open his skin, dragging it up like a damn zipper. His flesh and meat fall open and gore pours out of him, molten blood-lava spatters on the hard ground. There, trapped behind his ribcage, her face full of woe, standing inside him, is Amanda. She's tiny now, mashed down somehow by him, or by some other unknown force.

    How do you react?
  • I thought I had gotten used to this place, at least a little. Apparently I'm not as jaded as I thought.

    I stagger back one step, two, three, and with each step I shrink until finally I'm standing there as my own true self. Before I can say anything, I fall to my knees and puke, the last remains of my distant dinner spewing out in a sour-tasting watery stream.

    Finally, choked out past anger and disgust and bile, "Amanda?"

    [OOC: I spend one of the two lovely Coins of Hope you just handed me to uncheck Benny's Fight box.]
  • Amanda looks up in shock, like you'd woken her from a nightmare. "benny?" Her voice is wavering and small. A trace of hope in seeing you, in seeing someone, a lifeline.

    The Magnificent Howler takes up his torn flesh like a curtain and begins to close the hole, "Flicker indeed. That is enough. She is mine... Benny." He glares at you, his posture angry. But just around the whites of his eyes, you see worry, a tiny frayed edge in his mask of power. You put it there.
  • Not now. Not here, in the Howler's place of power. Even with Amanda... trapped. What would happen to her if I killed him? I stand, but don't bother putting on a further show of power or strength.

    "Howler. When you come for the Wax King, I will be there, and I will end you as I ended Mother When. Understand this - you will end, and Amanda will be free of your... protection."

    Understanding that it's a gesture and feeling the anxiety and risk of it, I turn back the way we came, showing the Magnificent Howler my back and hopefully catching Lady Dandywine's eye. I'd prefer to make my way straight back to the Wax Kingdom, and her help would be a boon.
  • Lady Dandywine joins you, eager to leave quickly. None bar your exit from the Howler's domain.

    After you make your way to the tunnels of the Warrens, far enough from the Howler and his warriors, Lady Dandywine says, "I am sorry you were unable to retrieve your... friend."

    She asks softly, "What will you do now?"
  • "I will warn the Wax King, make a plan. Howler will not broach those gates. Can you take me directly to the King, not back to the Bazaar?" Fearing a request for further payment, hoping that she sees the need.
  • For a moment, Lady Dandywine purses her lips, considering. Then, she nods curtly, "Of course, MaxCastle. I would be glad to do so."

    --END SCENE--
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