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Dec 04, 2022 6:38 AM
Sable eats an enjoyable meal, powers up, and escapes the Crack
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As Sable peaks out of the room she arrived in, she finds that it's opens to a hallway carved into the same dark stone as the room. She's close to the end of hallway on end, only a couple more doors to her left, while the hall extends several more rooms to her right, though there's only one door on the opposite wall from her.

There are glowing crystals in sconces on the walls. The air is warm and a bit stale, with a subtly sulfurous stench. There are sounds of habitation down the hall to the right, including the sound of people talking, though she can't quite make out the words from here.

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She cautiously steps out, moving as quietly as she can. She figures it's probably better to examine the area away from the sounds of life first, before getting closer to people who will probably wonder what she's doing here, so she turns left. As she walks, she listens very carefully at each door, before finally trying to open the last one silently.

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The rooms the left of the one Sable awoke in are both silent, and as she opens the one door at the southern end of the hallway, she finds a room similar to the one she arrived in, containing only a few large crates and some empty shelving.

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Empty crates and maybe one or two closed ones. Opening the crates will almost certainly be noisy, so she's going to skip that, despite the temptation. She'll repeat this silent inspection on each room in turn, moving toward the source of the noise, until either she can tell more about it or she finds something unexpected.

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Just more storerooms all along the eastern wall, though the two northernmost rooms appear to be for storing durables, chunks of ore and gemstones, digging tools, armor, and weapons, including several swords! They're a bit small, and rather low-quality, and aren't precisely sabers, but still feel much more natural in Sable's grip than the hand axe she woke up with.

Having covered the whole hallway, it's clear to Sable that the sounds of life are coming form the other side of the single door on the western wall.

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She grabs the best-feeling sword of the lot on her way, then creeps closer and closer to that last door, finally opening it just a crack and peering inside.

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Even the best sword of this lot isn't great, but it's at least decent.

The sounds of life are more clear with the door open. It's chanting, not just talking, and the rhythmic footsteps of a dance, not ordinary shuffling. Somewhere nearby, a ritual is being performed, and a pretty big one. There doesn't seem to be anyone in this new hallway, though. It's lit with glowing crystals just like the first, and there are several more doors on this hallway's eastern wall, and one door on its western wall, right in front of the one Sable is looking through right now, which is also the one the chanting and dancing can be heard coming from.

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Shit. Really? It had to be chanting? She's in a fantasy adventure world and stumbling into a ritual. Judging from the hallway, there's probably not anything that interesting in here, and she can come back if she lives through investigating the ritual chamber. Rituals are a great way to slowly stack power in most settings that have them, so if these people are worth allying with then hopefully she can investigate without interrupting, and if they're worth shutting down that's better done sooner than later.

She shakes her head, gooey curls bobbing with the motion, as her tail swishes anxiously behind her.

Nothing for it, then.

She opens the door carefully.

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The scene on the other side would not be out of place in a horror movie. Nine robed figures, ranging from about half Sable's height to just a few inches shorter than her, stand in a circle, chanting in a strange but not altogether unfamiliar tongue. It doesn't have the taste of language, but it is powerful nonetheless, serving as the medium for some kind of magic.. They dance also, as she heard. There's a tenth robed figure of middling height standing in the middle of the circle, behind a blood-drenched stone slab. A young woman is bound and lain on the slab, struggling but unable to move, and there are two humanoid corpses and two dead horses arranged around the slab but within the ritual circle, along with numerous small items and the broken remnants of a cart.

As Sable sees this, the central figure is already pressing a rune-etched dagger into the bound woman's throat and beginning to draw blood. The mana filling the chamber, thick but quiescent, is now beginning to awaken to the ritual's effect.

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Blood and ink, nope, this doesn't get to continue. As soon as the scene is identified as sacrificial ritual and she makes the decision to interrupt, she bursts into the room, those barely-explored combat instincts taking over. She dashes directly at the tenth figure, sword flashing out to strike the nearest cultist as she crosses the circle, then continues the motion to curve into a heavy slash at the leader.

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None of the cultists were expecting a threat to come from inside the compound, from which Sable emerged, so the smaller cultist who she passes on her way to the center of the circle doesn't even flinch before being cut down, their robe falling open to reveal the now slain kobold cultist.

The central cultist and seeming leader of the ritual is no less surprised, but some kind of prescient instinct pulls them down, under Sable's slash, and causing the dagger to plunge fully into the sacrifice's neck.

The ritual is fully initiated, though the absence of the slain cultist has thrown it off course. The mana's activity is rising rapidly, and will reach a climactic realization soon, but there's no telling what it will do when that happens.

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Shit, that's bad, and she doesn't know any healing options that would work anywhere near quickly enough. Well, only thing left to do is fuck this up as best she can, and hopefully whatever awful goal they had in mind is prevented. She lets her slash spin her a bit and twists into a heavy side kick, aiming to knock the lucky idiot who just dodged her into a cultist on the far side.

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The aforementioned lucky idiot attempts to dodge again, but is delayed by the dagger being well and truly stuck in the sacrifice's neck. Mentally stuck between abandoning the weapon or yanking it free, the choice is made for them by Sable's kick landing squarely on-mark and sending the ritual leader sliding back, colliding with the other target.

There's an odd moment now, where the rest of the cultists seem uncertain, caught between trying to continue the ritual as best they can or instead attacking the intruder. It's a prime opportunity to make a move.

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There's an intuition to do something odd here, and she rolls with it. She sinks into a bit of a crouch, dropping her borrowed sword. Her tail and torso thin very slightly as her arms split apart into nine inky tentacles, each tipped with something between a fang or a claw or a stinger, which lash out and jab into the bodies of the surviving cultists, injecting each with a potent dose of paralytic venom that she hadn't even realized she could produce.

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It is only one of several things that Sable has and will continue to learn today, probably!

Certainly it's something the cultists didn't know to expect. That's all the cultists incapacitated, The ritualized mana, however, is continuing to rage nonetheless, and a strange sort of red cloud is forming under the chamber's ceiling. There's more too it than just color, though. It's some kind of aura.

Then, the cloud parts, but instead of a stone, it's a dark sky with a single, blood-red star, quickly growing to the size of the sun.

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FAVOR. CONQUEST. CONSUME.

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Sable is suddenly very hungry.

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Um. What. That's... a slightly unexpected and worrying and possibly hot result of the ritual. Does this sudden hunger have any moving parts or instruction manual attached to it? She pokes at the bundle of sensations and instincts.

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If she eats something that was at least recently alive, she'll gain a portion of its power. It'll be a bigger portion the more recently it was alive, and best if it's alive as she eats it. It'll be a bigger portion the more of it she eats, and best if she eats the whole thing.

Only if she eats these heretics cultists, though.

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Did whichever god this was just give her a stars-damned vore power? Really!? 

Can she honestly let herself get into the habit of gaining power from eating people? Is that something she should accept?

...Given how much of this world is probably thrilled to kill or rape her, does she have a choice?

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Honestly, no, she really doesn't. She'll stick to defense of self or others — or volunteers, a treacherous instinct adds — and take the power. She drags all the still-living cultists into a row, and fishes in her backpack to find a rope and tying all their wrists together in case they wake up.

Then she flips the hoods back on everyone's robes, taking a good look at each cultist, including the dead one.

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Four kobolds including the slain, and six larger dragonkin, plausibly half-humans, though only half of them have wings. They all possess the same ruddy scales and have something like a family resemblance. Plausibly, they all share a common draconic ancestor. Aside from the ritual leader (one of the winged ones, and the second largest overall), none of them have anything on them other than the robes. The ritual leader has bloodied cloth with runes stitched into it and a small journal with notes written in an unfamiliar script.

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Best to start with the dead one, she thinks. If she's planning to eat all of them, she'll just be wasting value to wait. Plus it'll probably taste better while it's still warm.

She walks over to the dead kobold, then pulls the robe all the way off the body and look her meal-to-be over.

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This kobold (and, as it will turn out, the rest of the cultists) appears to be female, or at least doesn't have any obviously testosteronic physiology. Her scales are primarily green, at least where the neck-wound which slayed her hasn't stained them red, with yellow accents. Her eyes are closed, and Sable can recognize some runes of astrological significance painted around the kobold's face. She does have recognizable breasts, though small ones, and is generally thin. She is still warm, it's only been a handful of seconds since she died, but she is also definitely getting colder.

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Is she really about to do this? She killed a person, and is about to eat her body. Really?

...Yeah. She's not fortified enough to safely piss off the god-or-whatever that gave her this power, and these people just sacrificed other people in a ritual.

Okay. Okay. Right.

She sits down at the kobold's feet. How's she going to do this? Should she just take bites? Does she... stretch? She pokes her instincts.

Wow. Yeah, she can stretch. Okay. She picks the kobold girl's legs up, opens her mouth inhumanly wide, puts the feet into her mouth, and tries to slurp the scaly body down.

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It is a surprisingly easy process, almost natural. Kobold body slides into Sable's maw and down her gullet with no real effort, her jaw, throat, chest, and stomach all smoothly expanding to accommodate her meal. Even ignoring her hunger, feeling her body engulf the kobold is a greatly enjoyable experience, and she is hungry, and this is a delightfully substantial meal...though she could still go for another, probably.

Her belly is greatly distended by her meal, but she can already feel it starting to break down and soften, and with her new body moving around with the extra weight is only marginally more difficult.

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