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Oct 21, 2021 10:45 PM
Thorn scouts Sunless Skies
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This world is going to be risky. 

Strong magical signatures, low technological harnessment, low habitability. Even on the long-range scans, it doesn't paint a rosy picture. But there's a society down there, and so someone has to scout it for its hidden treasures. 

That's what Thorns are for. 

The one the Thousand Stars call this time is taller, older, already scarred even in her firstform, written with hard lessons in the core of her. She carries pistol and athame, and her runic tattoos cover both arms to the shoulder. If you looked into her eyes at night, you could see them reflecting light back like a cat's. There are subdermal modifications written through her bone and muscle. 

But still, she is a Thorn and not something else. She is optimized for survival and information gathering, not for combat. 

She pulls two Chron from her bag, opens the door, and steps out with a snap of shattering crystal. 

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There is a clearing along a cliff, surrounded by trees and other vegetation - silent, solemn, vast. Certainly a strange sort of forest. It's not dense enough to impede movement much. But the cliff opens up to a wide, wide expanse of sky strung along with occasional puffs of white. It looks as though if she leapt off the cliff she could keep falling forever. Nebulae and stars are visible both above and below. It's warm here, with the shrill wind blowing in from the wide cliffs carrying a slight chill. All around are floating mountains with great chasms between them, generally level with the same clearing (so far as gravity is behaving here), each laden with green growth.

And across the miles-wide gap, off in the distance is a truly spectacular set of waterfalls. Azure waters cascade down cliffs in multifarious patterns, splitting and recombining over bold rock faces framed by verdant growth, mist spilling forth in a haze where the water pools. As the falls descend the waters slowly turn into mist and clouds. They take up at least a mile of width, and almost seem sculpted to please the eye rather than natural.

That clearing now contains a door.

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Thorn steps through the door, and closes it behind her. It winks out. 

The space around her is certainly one of the more surreal worlds she's seen, though with a quiet beauty to it; the flying islands are mildly troublesome, though, as she'd rather rely on muscles than magic. 

She casts Overland Flight just in case of an accident with a cliff, and then takes the time to investigate her own flying island on foot. 

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It's a very big flying island. The forest is eerily quiet and seems to almost devour noise. Her breathing and the sound of her footsteps and such is clear enough, but no wind rustling leaves, and the distant noise of the waterfalls fades if she steps more than a hundred feet in. There are a normal amount of insects and animals in the forest, new species, but none especially weird. The strangest thing here is the quiet and the trees. They give off an impression of silent might.

After a while the path along the edge is barred by a chasm, and then a bit further inland a noisome swamp full of foul, sucking mud. There are plausible ways across on drier spots or fallen logs even for someone who can't fly, though.

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She'll try the bog. It's still better than falling off into... whatever that place is. 

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The bog is navigable with some effort.

 

The next notable event is when a field of flowers starts whispering to her. "you shouldn't be here" "the gardener's wood has been neglected" "a scribe's anger is inconsolable" "the way out is to the right, just a mile and you'll find the path" "something is watching you"

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Fascinating

But she's not sure she wants to stay among the whispering flowers, especially not when they're rather creepy. She turns around and heads back the way she came.

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The bog is equally navigable in the other direction. There aren't any obstacles immediately in the other direction along the cliffs.

 

 

Something is stalking her. Its eyes shine low to the ground among the trees.

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Some form of predator. Magical? A good bet in this world. She draws her pistol, and keys it in to the runes along her arms. Whatever it is, she won't be going down easily. She doesn't turn her back to run; she needs to hit this thing with an enchanted shell right between the eyes. She can do that, it exposes itself enough for that - 

If it shrugs that off, then she'll consider running.

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It hesitates for a while when she looks in its direction, but eventually tries its luck in a headlong rush - and flops to the ground limply after an enchanted shell between the eyes. The gunshot doesn't echo.

It's an extremely odd carapaced thing with the three-section body of an insect, but ten flexible tentacles for limbs and a mouth like an inverted cone. Blue blood.

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Oh, lovely. At least it's vulnerable to bullets. But if there are more of those, she's not going to do well. 

The wildflowers whisper, the trees are silent as death, and there are huge nasty gribblies that will try to eat you. Certainly a good vacation spot. 

She kicks off and takes to the air. Better her magic fail her than she be eaten alive when the need for sleep takes her. She'll sweep the area from the air and look for any sign of habitation.

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It's really cold out in the air! Also, when she gets far enough from the cliffs, or high enough, gravity stops being a thing.

There's a lot of wilderness out here. One of the waterfall's pools has a cleared area beside it and a staircase carved leading up the cliffside, though. The starlight is beautiful.

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She'll go investigate the staircase, pistol drawn. It's cold up here.

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A hooded woman waits by the waterfall, hands clasped. The stream is a continual thunder. The staircase is nearby.

"Oh, an interesting one. Are you here for the Regent's pools?"

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"I'm looking for a settlement, actually. Somewhere safe away from the creatures in the wood. Do you know where I can go?"

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"Oh, I see. The Reach is indeed a dangerous place even if you can fly. Somerset Camp is perhaps thirty or thirty-five miles south," (gesture to the left), "South-southeast once the path splits. But you had best wait for a locomotive and ask for passage, if you want to be safe."

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"How long will it take for a locomotive to pass?"

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"We usually see two or three a day. The Regent's Pools are known for their beneficial effects on health and allow a few of us who know the paths well a modest living as guides. But sometimes none for a few days, or even a week."

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"I see. Do you have somewhere you sleep nearby?"

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"We have a small cabin together, yes. Up near the top." She frowns. "I think I'd like to ask some intrusive questions before offering the use of it. Nobody's ever shown up without a locomotive before, you see. It's quite strange. Perhaps alarming, even."

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She shrugs. "Go ahead."

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"How were you flying? What are those tattoos for, and what are they? They're not Correspondence, you'd be insane and dead if they were Correspondence. Where'd you get such a nice-looking gun? Have you even heard the warnings about Traitor's Wood? Are you human? Do you still have your soul? Any malicious or unpeaceful intentions at all?"

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"I flew using my tattoos; they're complex runic mana channels, and are definitely not Correspondence. The gun is an original piecemade just for me; so far as I know it's unique. I've never heard of Traitor's Wood before; I'm from very far away. I'm human. My soul is right here." She pats her chest over her quartz necklace. "And I don't mean anyone harm; the pistol and dagger are solely for self-defense against the kinds of things that tried to eat me in the Wood. And hunting, if need be."

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Squinting...

"Well, alright then. Don't go into Traitor's Wood. It's over there - here isn't the Wood proper. New to the High Wilderness? Where from? Come along," she gestures as she turns sharply and starts unhesitatingly making her way up the narrow stairway.

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Thorn follows. "I'm definitely new to the High Wilderness, yes. The place I'm from... I doubt you'll have heard of it. Oifilei?"

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"Nope. Was it in the Neath, or Earth? Most of us around here are from one of those two, originally, if we're not born out here."

She moves with supreme confidence and familiarity with the path. There are no handrails, but the steps are fairly wide and smooth, if damp from the spray.

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