Skullfort Town

Personal homes and private lots.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

"There's a reason my uncle and I left." Koshal says very quietly before they all move on.

Faye is a Good Dog and does not chew on historically relevant artifacts.
"I think I found the disc." Koshal calls, carefully not touching anything as requested even though it makes him feel like he hasn't much to do.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

Oh cool his people must have done the raiding thing. Awesome he pretty clearly isn't a fan of that Khannie won't talk about it more.

Awkward silence reigns.

This is what happens when you aren't allowed to be too strenuous, Koshal. You get roped into being an archeology assistant. If only you were already LORGE, then you would be able to beat up monsters instead of digging around for artifacts.

Regardless! Khannie will quickly join him, kneeling down the check. "Oh sweet, yeah, you've got it. Good find!" she says, giving him a jovial pat on the... ummm... shoulder? She has to reach a bit since he's tall. Then she'll do her documentation and once that's finished she'll gesture at the 'horns of consecration'. "You wanna set it in the slot?"

He certainly could do that! And Khannie wants to let him feel like he's contributing to the discovery!

"So what's it like living in an old flying fortress of doom? I guess it doesn't do much flying anymore," Khannie asks conversationally.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

Koshal nods and goes to put the THINGY in the THINGY SLOT like a good puzzle solving adventurer. There is a loud clank and the sound of something moving as he places it into the slot, which Koshal does not understand at all.

"It's nice. Lady Danir is a good Lady to serve. She teaches me about magic and swordsmanship and history and stuff. And it's a good town to live in. But there aren't a ton of people my age." That part does sting a little. He doesn't always have people to talk to.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

Excellent job, putting the thingy in the thingy slot Koshal. Being able to stick shapes into the properly shaped hole is a vital skill for an adventurer in search of adventure. There comes a clanking sound from the huge stone doors nearby as they begin to smoothly swing inward. Khannie takes a quick picture of the wall with the 'key' properly in place, then moves to head through the doors.

Honestly the silver, gemstone, and gold 'key' is likely worth a small fortune. Even if it's only overlaid with the precious metal rather than being solid. But the fact that it exists at all is a clear sign that this is an ACTION! Archeology site rather than just a regular archeology site. And that's the part that matters to Khannie! It means this WASN'T a dud! It'll be a great location to do a report on.

"That sounds kinda lonely,"
Khannie admits. "When I was little I grew up in a village with other folks. A few others my age. Once my dad rescued me I started going to school at Inari's. Then once I got old enough I started attending PREP. Have you thought about going to school in one of the bigger cities?"

That's a question to ponder while stepping through the doors and into the next chamber.

Which is really quite the sight!

Our heroes find themselves in a long hallway flanked with tall pillars painted bright red. Alternating between the pillars are stone horns atop altars and statues of female minotaurs holding a double-bitted axe. Beyond the pillars, to either side of the hall, water is busy flowing into wide pools sporting the occasional dolphin-shaped fountain head. It's remarkable that the water works here are still functioning at all. Hanging bronze braziers on chains above suddenly flash to life, bathing the room in firelight and making it unnecessary for Khannie to continue eating all the darkness through her horn.

Interestingly, the fact that there's enough light to see by seems to halt the process all on its own.

"Woah," Khannie gasps, her eyes dancing across the marble altars, the painted statues, and their polished bronze axes.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

Thankfully, someone Koshal's age seems to be coming.

"Koshaaaal! I'm heeere!"

There's a quiet *whoosh* sound as Iknika's beetle disappears into her pin and then she's coming through the same entryway Koshal and Khannie did. The newly-minted unicorn no doubt recognizes the voice of her friends' older cousin.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

"I dunno, it seems weird to go to a regular school when I'm already being trained for a specific role I'll be taking in a few years."
And then big statues!
"Huh. You know, statues of minotaur ladies are way less common on other worlds. I think because of the legend other places have of the first one being some monster dude."
Koshal goes to examine the statues, though he waves to Iknika as she comes in. Koshal is looking odd today; namely he's not in his armor and has clearly grown a few inches.
"Sorry Khannie I forgot to mention I texted Iknika when you mentioned her."
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

Khannie is a little surprised when a goblin arrives! And not just any goblin, but the one and only (so far) goblin knight to be! She watches in fascination when the beetle Iknika is riding up and vanishes.

"Hey Iknika! That's a pretty cool trick. How come you can't vanish Cliff?" she inquires of Koshal jokingly. "I wasn't really expecting any familiar faces on the expedition so this is pretty cool."

They're getting a regular party going!

Too bad Natalie hadn't come along.

Anywho!

Statue!

It looks to be brightly painted marble. Considering how clean it looks someone or SOMETHING must be doing touchup. Just a minotaur lady in a fancy robe holding a double headed axe. Also the robe doesn't really have a top.

"Yeah but this is Minoan stuff. We're pretty sure they were a matriarchal society. The minotaur wasn't made into a monster until after they got conquered by another civilization from the mainland," Khannie explains, walking a bit further down the hall. "This place looks like it was supposed to be a seaside temple but the Nexus just dumped it in the middle of nowhere."
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

"And I couldn't resist the call of adventure." Iknika waves her ice-hammer for emphasis. "The beetle is a spirit. It used to be a really annoying specieist spirit of an elf, but we fixed it up with the help of Isaac, his master and some hobgoblins. Long story." She looks Koshal up and down. "...is it me or did you grow since we last saw each other?"
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

"That's...a change. Lots of changes going on. I'm in the middle of my big minotaur growth spurt." Koshal still has Faye and his magic. Though he often forgets he has that.
Koshal glances up at the statues. It's nice to see people portraying his people nice. Humans would probably complain about that robe but he doesn't really mind.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

Iknika has no doubt seen Khannie without her illusions active around Glog. The children demand unicorn rides and Khannie really isn't the sort of person to deny them unless she has something really pressing and can't spare a few minutes to trot around the campsite. And seeing her with her human illusion active isn't unusual at all, either. But at the moment she isn't exactly doing either. She's got her unicorn back half, consisting of cloven hooves and her long tail with a pomph at the end. Her upper body, though, is human save for her cervine ears and the prominent horn on her forehead. It would appear as though when the situation is hazardous she's trying to go for the best of both worlds.

Superior human eyes, superior unicorn ears, ready access to her unicorn magic via the horn, hands to grasp, and hooves to tread upon the shadows. She moves with a cautious sort of easy grace. And the mix of humanoid and deerish features is reminiscent of the smallest and cutest of the Frescot kids. Just... more purple.

"Wow, haha, that sounds like a pretty great swap then. The riding beetles are sweet," would be Khannie's professional opinion on that subject. As she walks down the hall there's a rough ring of vaguely vulpine shadows flitting around on the floor to and from her. They keep zipping off into nooks and crannies, vigilant and searching. "Everyone's always growing one way or another when it comes to adventure stuff. Gotta keep getting better and going deeper."

Hopefully Faye doesn't decide that the zoomy fox spirits need to be chased and or borked at.

"Umm... this might sound kinda lame but would you mind doing me a favor, Iknika? If things get dicey don't mention to Brinika that I was here, too. I don't really talk to her and Cheasadh about the crazier stuff I get up and I don't wanna have them worrying about me," Khannie requests. She would prefer to be that regular friend that some weird stuff just happens to sometimes.

As they near the end of the hallway our heroes are confronted by a pair of huge wooden doors depicting some kind of festival with humans, griffins, some weird... dog... things? and one minotaur lady up in front of a horned altar. Flanking the door, seated in two red-painted thrones, are a pair of statues of minotaur GUYS holding spears. And as soon as they get close there's a dull WUMPH! as flowers of blue flames begin igniting between the horns of the stone altars they've passed. As the display reaches the end, blue flames ignite in the eyes of the statues and they cross their spears in front of the doors.

Then they speak.

The language, even with Nexus Translation, is utterly unintelligible.

"...um... did either of you get that?"
Khannie asks.

Unless someone happens to speak Minoan the answer is probably 'no'.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

In truth, Iknika finds it hard to keep up with Khannie's transformations. Near as she can tell, Brinika and Cheasadh don't even bother and roll with whatever she is at any given time. It's only sensible to follow in their example.

"Sure, I guess? I don't think they'd mind but I can keep it secret if you want." Then she looks up when the statues speak. "Not a word. But it's an old place so they probably speak some long-lost language."
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

Koshal shrugs.
"It kinda sounded like home? I got 'no' that's for sure. Not sure about the rest. The accent was REALLY thick. You want me to try moving them?" he suggests.
Right. Iknika might remember that he has actual magic.
"I could open the doors if they're not locked. Maybe even jump over if the doorway tall enough." He squints. The doors don't seem tall enough for that.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

Khannie would really indignantly say that she was just a regular old kangaskhan for most of her life and that all this crazy stuff started when she tried Wishing to be human. Obviously that opened the floodgate of weirdness.

"Thank Iknika," Khannie replies, sounding quite genuine.

And then some unintelligible stuff. Except for Koshal who maybe got one word.

"It's definitely some sorta forbiddence. Maybe we have to do something before they let us in?" she wonders aloud. But what? It doesn't help that they can't understand what the statues just said. "These definitely seem like the kinda statues that are gunna get stabby if we try to bypass them. Maybe we could check out the area and see if there's anything that looks like a puzzle to solve?"

They already had that crest that needed to be replaced so that isn't TOO much of a stretch.

Hmm...

Well. There are the horn altars near the door for one. And the non-animated minotauress statues that are supposed to be holding the double-axes. And of course there are the pools to either side of the hallway. And the painted marble pillars, too. Any of those things might be hiding secrets!
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

"I'm going to take a look at the pillars," Iknika declares. "There's often... well, I was going to say there's often stuff written on them but we can't understand it if there is. But it's worth a shot."
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

Koshal nods and goes up to the most elaborately decorated of the minotauress statues. They seem to represent the priestess or some other big important lady. So maybe they need her authority to pass? Koshal will check if they have any sort of button or magic to them. He'll also check if her axe is removable. Maybe that would allow him to act with her authority.
Someone who didn't know Koshal better might get the wrong idea from him closely examining and poking around that kind of statue but well, at least one of the girls knows him well enough to know that's not why he's looking.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

"I'll check the altars. They've gotta have some sorta magical component to be doing the blue fire flower thing. This definitely feels like some sorta puzzle," Khannie says as she approaches one of the horned altars and kneels down in front of it to search for any hidden compartments.

Speaking of hidden compartments! The pillar nearest the doors has a scarcely visible seam on it. No writing, though. Ikinka will find that there's a slight lip to it that she can catch with her fingers to pull it open. Inside the pillar is a golden double-bitted axe. Or maybe more the size of a small hatchet for a human. The heads aren't sharp; it's clearly more like a scepter than a weapon. A symbol of office and authority.

"I got a hidden compartment over here!"
Khannie calls out. "With a bull horn head-dress thingy in it?" She takes some pictures of the artifact first, along with the altar it's contained in, before carefully pulling it out. It's a silver crown with bull horns attached. A veil of silver chains hangs from either side and a flower with petals of blue sapphire adorns the front. Rather like the flower motif our heroes have encountered thus far.

Koshal, meanwhile, finds that the minotauress statue is much the same as all the others. The axe is wedged into the statue's hands pretty hard. It COULD be removed but it might damage the bronze axe or the statue. The statue isn't magical or mechanical, or at least it doesn't appear to be. But there IS a useful set of pictures carved into its base. On one face it shows a woman stepping out of a crowd. The next shows her donning a horned crown. The next shows her taking up the double-bitted axe. The fourth, the image on the front, depicts her (or maybe a minotauress the pictures aren't that detailed) walking past spear wielding minotaurs toward a high altar.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

”I think I found instructions?” Koshal calls.
”The priestess can pass if she has an axe and a crown.”

Koshal goes to look at what the girls found, frowning.
”Maybe that should be you, Iknika? Me and Khannie have horns that’ll get in the way of the headdress.” it is hard to put on horns when you already have them.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

"That would make sense." Iknika weighs the axe in her hand. "But this headdress looks like it would go right past my head and rest on my shoulders. I'm way smaller than a minotaur."
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

The haft of the axe appears to be made of ivory and depending on how familiar Iknika is with metals she might realize that the head is only gold plated. If it were solid gold then it would be CRAZY heavy for how big it is. She could probably swing the axe one handed without too much trouble, but it really isn't balanced to be a weapon. It doesn't help that the only sharp part is a bronze spike on the object's pommel that's more likely to hurt the weilder than anyone else. This is definitely a symbolic rather than practical object.

"I can probably manage it. I'll just need to adjust my illusion a little bit," Khannie says, a wave of shadow washing over her and when it passes she's just regular old human without any unusual features. She carefully puts the crown on her head, letting it sink low on her brow. Once the crown is settled she holds out her hands to take the axe from Iknika if she feels inclined to pass it on. "It's a little big but not that bad? Was there anything else on those instructions I should know about, Koshal? I don't wanna to do something wrong and upset the stabby looking statues."

The stabby statues, meanwhile, continue to watch impassively.
Last edited by Rebonack on Nov 19, 2023 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

"Uh, not really? It just shows the lady coming out of the crowd, taking the crown and axe, and then walking past the spear guys to the altar. Pretty straightforward."
He does think it's interesting that the priestess' species isn't entirely clear but the spear guys are definitely minotaurs.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

"Your illusions actually change how you hold things? That's pretty wild." Iknika was pretty sure illusions only changed what people see. But she lets Khannie take the axe.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

"Yeah, shadow illusions are kinda-sorta real? Like there's substance to 'em. When the whole unicorn thing started I could hardly even stand on my hind hooves without using my human-illusion for support 'cuz human feet are bigger. But my hind hooves have broadened out a bit since then? Standing on 'em is way easier now," Khannie replies to Iknika as she takes the axe and hefts it a bit herself, getting a feel for the weight. It doesn't seem TOO bad. "Problem is since it's kinda-sorta real I don't have any horn right now, either. Which means no unicorn magic. So I've been letting it poke through the illusion so I can practice more."

And practice makes perfect.

Anywho!

Khannie walks up to the door, holding the axe with one hand on the haft and the other atop the head. "Okay, so do I just hold it up like-"

She brandishes forth the double-bitted axe! The two minotaur statues respond by uncrossing their spears, gripping the doors, and opening them before the tributed minotaur priestess. Beyond the double doors our heroes will be met by the sight of a temple complex decked out for a festival, garlands of flowers hanging from the brilliantly painted temple buildings. Tables are set for a great feast and all around comes the noise of crowds of people celebrating.

But there's no one to be seen.

Just the occasional flitting of motion. The rustle of sourceless wind. A grand celebration populated wholly by phantoms.

At the heart of the complex stands a great horned alter, ghostly fire blazing atop it.

A cry rises up from the empty streets, a cry of jubilation. "The tribute has arrived at last! Now the celebration can begin!"

Apparently the actions Khannie just took counts as offering herself for the festival's tribute. Which means there is a VERY pretty and VERY upset looking minotauress glaring at Koshal now. "This had BETTER NOT have been in those instructions, Koshal!"

It was! Kind of! But it was a little vague! Khannie probably would have appreciated being warned about the vagueness.

Phantoms begin materializing, vague human shapes crowding to place garlands of flowers over Khannie's head and to try to lead her toward the great altar. It isn't clear whether she's meant to officiate the sacrifice or BE the sacrifice. Possibly both.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

”They showed the lady walking out of a crowd from a procession, that was it!” Koshal insists.
On the plus side, if Khannie was afraid that Koshal would start looking at her like the school boys look at Mary she will be relieved to see he is not. Though he does appear to be having a mixture of trying not to laugh while also being concerned and a bit...wistful somehow?

Then he leans towards Khannie and whispers into her ear.

”I’m a minotaur and Message protects me from other gods’ interference. Use your illusions to switch the regalia onto me. I can’t fight as well as you and Iknika so having them looking at me instead of you two will be better if there’s trouble.” he promises her.

Sirius is just staring at Khannie. He continues to follow at her side protectively. But she knows what he’s thinking without him saying a word.
Khaaaaannniiiiie!
She really needs to start using Detect Magic on things before she uses them.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

"Those spirit shapes don't look like minotaurs. More like humans." Iknika hurries to keep up with the two minotaurs. "But it's not a good sign if someone is called 'tribute'. Maybe Jig can help us see those ghosts more clearly?"
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

Okay to be fair Khannie DID employ her skill in spellcraft and the use of magical devices here. That's how she figured out how to trigger the spellwork so quickly. But neither of the objects had any sort of aura of transmutation to them! They must have just been a trigger for something ELSE that sprang the effect. She's agitated either way.

"I mean, I can try," Khannie whispers back, trying to step out of her illusion as she goes at times but finding some resistance. "I can tell I haven't been touched under my illusion but this thing feels... sticky. Like it's meant to actually turn humans into minotaurs. I think I'm gunna have to wait until I go to sleep and use my shadow to peel it off."

Definitely frustrating. But the fox will appreciate another Mask to play with. She still needs to eat Names to keep herself satiated and to prevent her foxfire from burning too hot. Thankfully the Nexus seems intent on throwing weird at Khannie for the fox to gobble up.

One of the ghosts approaches Khannie and offers her a priestess robe which is very notably lacking in the top department. Khannie shoves the phantom away. "Yeah there's a zero percent chance of that happening."

They seem content with draping more garlands of poppy flowers over her head and horns, at least.

"I think you guys are gunna have to try to find a way to disrupt the ritual. If we just bail there's probably gunna be a giant pile of angry ghosts coming after us, so I'm gunna play along for now. Any edge we can get is good,"
Khannie says. "The Minoans loved murals. If you can find anything that seems to be about the ritual? That might help us figure out what they're up to. These guys seem like the sorta ghosts that are stuck and don't know they're dead. If we can get 'em unstuck then we'll be able to explore the rest of the ruins without getting harassed."

But where will our heroes search?

There are the feasting tables over there. The temple of the war-god over there. The temple of the poppy goddess over yonder. Those appear to be the most important places. And of course the grand altar that Khannie is thankfully NOT being lead in a procession towards. Yet.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

Koshal sighs in a tiny bit of relief. A little part of him was afraid Khannie would just do it and then the regalia would make him look like a girl. He's admitted to himself he probably deserved that after he laughed at his uncle. At least Khannie has mostly kept her body type, she just has MINOTAUR MUSCLE status.

Oddly, Koshal steps forward and gives Khannie a tight hug. "Well, it's probably not what you want to hear but you look really nice." He says that not in the 'admiring pretty girl' way, but in what Khannie may be able to recognize as a "I've been really lonely" kind of way.
"And I'm sending you a little insurance. If those ghosts try anything while we're away Faye will get you out. If you can't use your magic while under that stupid enchantment just get to Cliff and me 'n Iknika will handle ourselves." Koshal whispers as his shadow detaches off of him and blends into Khannie's. Faye doesn't mind snuggling a fox for a bit. Koshal just standing there with no shadow at all looks very weird.

"Okay, Iknika. Let's split up and search for something that can get these ghosts off of Khannie." Koshal declares with a nod. Sirius looks at Khannie, his eyes asking if she will have the GALL to ask him to leave her.

Koshal goes over to the poppy goddess temple because they seem to be the thematic thing that the phantoms are pushing on Khannie. You'd think he'd go to the war god temple but he's honestly kind of uncomfortable about that sort of thing. As he walks, he flexes his magical muscle a bit and conjures a set of tiny little green flames that he begins juggling on his way to the temple. He hoped to distract the phantoms a little, but he immediately feels several intense stares at him.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

"Well, okay. I don't know if my hammer is going to be any good against them, but they seem to be focusing on Khannie now and not bothering us."

Iknika rushes over towards the war-god temple. Maybe she's small enough she'll get overlooked? Normally it would annoy her, but right now it seems useful.
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Re: Skullfort Town

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[The Mound]

Koshal has no way of knowing, but the objects are meant to be used on humans. He's already a minotaur so he doesn't have anything to worry about.

As opposed to Khannie, who now has to worry about being hugged and then told by a lonely minotaur guy that she, a minotaur heifer, looks really nice.

After a moment of shock she returns the hug.

"Umm... thanks?" she replies to both the compliment and the shadow bail backup plan.

And then they're off! "C'mon Sirius let's see what these ghosts want us to do." First over to the feast table! Apparently she's supposed to praise the gods for their blessing probably?

The ghosts seem vaguely irritated about Koshal's magical display, but he makes it into the temple no problem. Instead, there's a mural depicting the tribute being given garlands and poppy tea, then lead up to the altar where she stabs herself with the pointy handle of the axe. Then the minotaur is roasted and eaten by the revelers. Not great.

Some ghosts appear to be preparing the sacred poppy tea.

Iknika, meanwhile, heads into the war god's temple. He appears as a human youth holding a spear and riding a bull. There are several minotaur ghosts in here, the only ones our heroes have seen. A mural shows such warriors attacking a settlement by boat. Those that die in battle are brought home and preserved to be ritually eaten, then a new headdress made from their horns.

Looks like they're basically sacred slave soliders.

Maybe Iknika could sow descent among the spirits of the minotaurs?
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Re: Skullfort Town

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The Mound

Koshal would object STRONGLY to the use of the word "heifer" as much as he would "cow." That's super gross of you, narrator. Do not question why minotaurs find these words offensive but calling a male minotaur a bull is considered mostly fine. Koshal would be more offended by that than the narrator implying anything other than that he just wants someone his own species to talk to. Though he would also be offended by that.

"I knew he was the huggy type." Sirius says quietly. "So is this gonna be one of those things where cursed food magically appears or we have to pretend that there's actual food here? If you want you could mention Message. That's the goddess who runs the town, right? Oh and horse inn man. Could make them think." That's Sirius' best idea right now.

Meanwhile!

The mural makes Koshal irrationally angry. He was so close. He was so close to finally seeing another world where his people aren't part of some gross cult or murder culture and then bam, cannibalism.
"So what is this, then? Are you planning on poisoning my friend before you push her to suicide?" Koshal growls bluntly to the spirits. As it turns out, angry minotaurs aren't great at being subtle. The vague green aura around him is probably not helping the situation.
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Morty
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Re: Skullfort Town

Post by Morty »

[The Mound]

Were... were they sent off to fight and die and then eaten? That's gross. Sick. They used their horns as ornaments, too. And the god seems to be human. Did the humans keep the minotaurs as slaves? Just like her teachers warned her about, which isn't a pleasant thought.

"Hey, you. Can you hear me?" she asks the spirits. If they can't, maybe Jig can act as a go-between.
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