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Author Topic: Thob Goes to the Surface  (Read 5377 times)

Loam

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #60 on: July 14, 2020, 06:25:57 pm »

A potential friend all the way out here in the middle of these lands of the dead?
The world is full of potential friends. You never know - that zombie might be an old friend you haven't met in a while!
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Thob Goes to the Surface (Adventure Mode story, in progress)

IncompetentFortressMaker

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #61 on: July 15, 2020, 11:45:58 am »

The world is full of potential friends. You never know - that zombie might be an old friend you haven't met in a while!
Well, an old former friend. As it turns out, zombies - even zombie friends - don't take too kindly to the living.

Loam

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #62 on: July 22, 2020, 09:23:07 pm »

In which, as it happens, Thob meets some old friends:



The goblin (as she called herself) was named Strodno Ursourar. And Thob hadn’t heard wrong—according to Strodno, goblins did in fact live forever. “Not that it’s always a blessing,” she said, glancing back at the castle they had just left.
   “So,” said Thob, to make conversation, “what’d you do before you got, uh, stuck in there?”
   “I was a surgeon for a while. That’s how I became a holy meadow.”
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “A what?”
   “I forgot—you don’t know anything. I’m a priestess of Egesh Bravedheather, goddess of healing.”
   “No kidding! That’s who I worship. Well, ‘worship’ is a bit strong, I guess, but I try to, you know, keep in touch with her, generally…”
   “Would you be quiet? You’ll wake the undead.”
   Strodno didn’t seem to like him much. Thob tried to ease the mood with a few jokes and kind words, but that just made it worse:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
She liked telling jokes, but Thob’s apparently weren’t good enough for her.

They were heading southeast, towards some of the old villages near the town, which Strodno called “Confineface.” As they walked and talked, a certain smell lingered in the air: the smell of death, getting stronger. Suddenly Strodno grabbed Thob’s arm, and pointed off to the south. A figure was approaching them, a tall creature with long, unkempt hair. The figure was completely naked and, apparently, quite dead.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   Strodno began to run away, which Thob considered a good idea; but after a few steps she stopped. “No,” she muttered, “not this time. They stuck me in that castle… I will have my revenge!”
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “Back me up!” she shouted to Thob, and rushed at the zombie.
   An ornamental gemstone knife, unsurprisingly, was not a great weapon, even against bare decaying flesh. But neither was Thob’s pick—both hacked at the corpse, tearing great gashes in its limbs, but nothing seemed to take it down. Suddenly it lunged at Strodno and bowled her over, collapsing on top of her. Rotting fingers reached for her face—until the steel pick pierced into its skull, and it went limp.
   “If you’re going to charge into battle,” said Thob, “we need to get you a better weapon. And some armor.” He scanned the horizon. “I think I’ve got it. Come on.”

The smell of death remained constant as they passed through old hamlets on the way, and obscure figures moved in the misty distance.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “Watch it,” said Strodno, “this place is crawling with zeds.” She pointed to the east. “Looks like they’re coming from the tower.”
   “Good. They’ll be gone when we get there.”
   “You’re going to the tower?!”
   “Sure!” Thob said. “Those places are loaded with loot—with any luck, we’ll find some armor in your size.” She just stared at him.
   Just as they approached the village they heard voices—quite a few voices. They crouched, sneaking through the grass until they could see the interlocutors.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
A living dwarf! And not just any dwarf—Thob recognized him as Ducim Woodflew, a fellow from Lawmined. What was he doing way up here?
   “Ducim!” he called—Strodno flinched and began looking around worriedly—“It’s me, Thob!”
   Ducim squinted at him. “It is you!” he said. “Hey guys, it’s Thob! ‘e’s alive!”
   At this a posse of dwarves came running.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “When ye didn’t come back,” said Ducim, “we gave ye up for dead. Say—ye ever find any booze?”
   “No; I’m still looking. That’s why I haven’t come back. But why are you out here?”
   “Same reason as you—Nish sent the lot o’ us out for alcohol! It’s an important mission.” Ducim seemed to notice Strodno for the first time. “Who’s this, Thob?” he asked. “Ye all right, ma’am? Ye look a bit… green.” Strodno’s face fell.

Thob and the dwarves from Lawmined chatted for some time, swapping stories about their adventures. Many in Ducim’s crew were pale and retching—signs Thob knew all too well.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “It’s that blasted bright devil up there,” said Ducim. “What kind o’ hell is this ‘surface’?”
   “That’s nothing,” said Thob, “compared to the monsters. Put the cavern beasts to shame, they do.”
   They listened attentively to his admittedly embellished tales. “A hyena,” he said, when asked, “it’s a bit like a manera, but… ten times the size! And it travels in packs of twenty or more!”
   “And ye killed them all? More to ye than I thought, Thob.”
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   But the day was getting on, and with all those things roaming around Strodno looked worried—apparently she didn’t trust a group of armed dwarves against some half-rotten zombies. Thob thought he’d best be moving on: “Maybe we could travel together?” he asked Ducim.
   The other dwarf, however, shook his head. “We’re hardly in travelling condition,” he said, looking at his vomiting companions. “And anyway, travel where? It’s all ruins—no one around but the undead. I’ve half a mind to head back to Lawmined.”
   “I’m not stopping till I’ve had a drink,” said Thob. “I guess we’ll just keep poking through the rubble, then.”
   “Well, good luck to ye,” said Ducim. “Watch yerself out there, Thob.”
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Thob Goes to the Surface (Adventure Mode story, in progress)

King Zultan

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #63 on: July 23, 2020, 04:53:38 am »

Meeting friends from the fortress so far from it, is that unusual?
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The Lawyer opens a briefcase. It's full of lemons, the justice fruit only lawyers may touch.
Make sure not to step on any errant blood stains before we find our LIFE EXTINGUSHER.
but anyway, if you'll excuse me, I need to commit sebbaku.
Quote from: Leodanny
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TheFlame52

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #64 on: July 23, 2020, 07:58:33 pm »

I'm interested in where this is going.

TheImmortalRyukan

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #65 on: July 26, 2020, 09:32:34 pm »

This is pretty good, ptw
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Loam

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #66 on: July 27, 2020, 06:30:31 pm »

Meeting friends from the fortress so far from it, is that unusual?
Well I certainly wasn't expecting it. Considering Thob's one of maybe 100 dwarves still living in this part of the world, meeting more of them is always a noteworthy happening!

This is pretty good, ptw
Thanks! I like an audience :)



As Thob and Strodno left the village, they were surprised to see another dwarf ahead of them. This one, however, looked somewhat less healthy:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
And not far away, on a furrowed hillside, a thin, stringy sort of creature shambled towards them:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Once again, Strodno charged in ferociously, with Thob behind her. Good thing the zombies were so clumsy—they didn’t land a hit, but not because they didn’t have the chance. And the only way Thob could see to kill them was a pick to the head: nothing else even slowed them down.
   “So just why don’t people stay dead around here?” he asked, pulling his pick from the zombie’s skull.
   “Well, that’s a long story,” said Strodno. “But I’ll tell you—it has something to do with that tower you insist on going to.”
   Suddenly there was a whistling sound and a thock! as a crossbow bolt buried itself in a nearby tree. Coming up the hill towards them was a hideous creature: small but strapped with huge muscles, armored in gray scales, baring fearsome mandibles—and surrounded by a cloud of vapor pouring from its skin:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “Uh-oh,” said Strodno, “Thob, that’s no ordinary zombie! We’ve got to run!”
   But the thing loaded another bolt in its crossbow—it certainly had more dexterity than the other undead—and taking aim at Thob. He raised his buckler just as the bolt struck, and it bounced away, leaving a nasty dent. The creature was now running toward them, trailing smoke as it came:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “Don’t think we have time for that,” said Thob, “it’d just shoot us anyway!”
   He and Strodno closed with the monster. Thick steam obscured Thob’s vision so he could barely make out his opponent, but he swung with all his might He felt clothing and flesh rip: fortunately the thing wasn’t armored. But as he had learned, body hits barely hurt the undead. He glimpsed Strodno land a kick on its shoulder that made bones snap, but the creature still moved like nothing had happened.
   In the confusion of smoke and blows, he felt a sudden impact that sent him sprawling—it was Strodno! She had charged the monster, missed, and slammed straight into him. Now she stood over him, slashing with her dagger; the beast deflected the strike with its crossbow, then aimed for the goblin. With a lunge, Thob swung the pick as high as he could—and, praise Egesh, it split the creature’s head in two.
   The smoke began to fade away. “We did it, Thob,” Strodno said, “we killed it.”
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “And what was ‘it’ exactly? I’ve seen creatures like this before, but not undead ones.”
   “They're called ‘soldiers of Ral’: twisted experiments made by necromancers. This one, though, was a bleak slayer—one of the toughest kinds of undead. We’re lucky to be alive.” She looked at him. “Maybe you’re not so hopeless after all.”
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “Necromancers?” Thob said. “Experiments? Bleak Slayers? What is going on up here?”
   “I guess I need to tell you that long story. Or as much as I know.”
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mightymushroom

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #67 on: July 27, 2020, 08:32:27 pm »

Yes! Tell, tell! :)
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King Zultan

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #68 on: July 28, 2020, 06:31:12 am »

Gather around the campfire everyone, it's story time.
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The Lawyer opens a briefcase. It's full of lemons, the justice fruit only lawyers may touch.
Make sure not to step on any errant blood stains before we find our LIFE EXTINGUSHER.
but anyway, if you'll excuse me, I need to commit sebbaku.
Quote from: Leodanny
Can I have the sword when you’re done?

Loam

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #69 on: August 01, 2020, 01:03:22 pm »

Alright, lots of text comin' y'all's way in this update, but there's no better way to do exposition:



MANY CENTURIES ago, these lands were the home of two great human realms: the Equal Kingdom and the Ferocious Kingdoms. They lived in peace with each other, and with the three dwarven folks to the south—the Sandaled Key, the Ring of Chance, and the Short Gem.

Maybe they’d be here today if not for one person: a woman named Álat Bookbridges.

Álat was a minor official in Trampledlearned, the biggest city in the Equal Kingdom. For years she was just another citizen, until one day she began to be really afraid of death. Now, being a goblin, I don’t really understand how it must feel knowing that, no matter how careful you are to keep out of danger and practice good hygiene, you’ll still end up dead. So I can’t really judge Álat for doing what she did. But I can’t excuse it either. She prayed to one of the dark gods—one of the worst of the dark gods—Vispol Freeknighted the Ashen Law of Matching.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
And Vispol answered her prayers: he taught her not only how to cheat death, but how to command it—how to bend the forces of life and death to her will, how to raise the dead and control them, and other, darker powers.

Power comes at a price, though, in this case Álat’s soul. She changed, became more anxious, more paranoid, more grasping, more ambitious—above all, more afraid.

She lived in Trampledlearned for another thirty years, until people began to realize she wasn’t aging like the rest of them. They got suspicious, she got paranoid, and she ran away into the hills. There she hunted out a store of corpses, an ancient battlefield, and raised them to serve her; and she built the first of those many towers, just like that one we’re headed for, and called it Blownslings.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

She was queen of her little undead domain, but that didn’t amount to much at first. Slowly, though, her power grew: she sought out more corpses to swell her ranks; meanwhile other humans heard about her powers and went to learn from her. In a few centuries she had an army and a coven of warlocks around her.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Then, sometime early in the 3rd century, she attacked the Equal Kingdom.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
At first she was wildly successful—no one was prepared for the undead scourge, and her army swarmed through small towns and villages until they overran one of the major cities of the kingdom, Scouredtruthful.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
But pretty soon the humans wised up: the two kingdoms joined forces and fought back. Álat’s army was hardly a well-trained fighting force, and they crumbled under the counterattack.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Fighting went back and forth for a few decades, but around mid-century the humans pushed to Blownslings and destroyed it, taking Álat and her coven as prisoners and slaves.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Everyone thought that’d be the end of it. But not too long afterward we started hearing about awful things happening among the dwarves: the long dead rising to destroy the living. This was the early 300s, now. There were rumors all over the region of towers rising in the wilderness almost overnight. We learned soon enough that not all of Álat’s coven had been rounded up: some had fled into the hills, starting their own covens. Other humans—and dwarves, as we learned—were coming to them to learn the secret, while others were making their own deals with the dark gods. Álat had started a movement.

But these new necromancers did even worse things than Álat. I guess it was the power—just went to their heads—but they didn’t just want to not die. They wanted to become gods: to create things according to their own sick designs. The warlocks did… experiments on the people the conquered.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
They made them into all those weird creatures you’ve seen, like the one we just killed. And those are the experiments that worked—the failures… well, they had even worse results.

   “Like… the hyenas?”
   “…no. The hyenas are normal.”

The mortal realms put up a good defense, but it just wasn’t enough. The dwarves fell first. Then the Ferocious Kingdoms, which had been almost untouched, were overrun in one fell swoop. Finally the Equal Kingdom, the last mortal remnant, was reduced to a handful of survivors huddled in ruined hamlets.

“But if the necromancers took over everything,” said Thob, “why aren’t they around now?” He gestured to the empty tower before them. “What happened to them?”
   “As it turns out,” said Strodno, “the only thing a necromancer hates worse than the living is another necromancer. Each tower was home to a separate coven, all of them vying for power. Soon they were attacking each other more than the remaining mortals. Towns and towers were razed and left abandoned, undead destroyed or driven into the wilderness. By the 5th century there was only one real power left: the Plates of Scouring, based in Brightplums.”
   “And what happened to them?”
   “Well, that was about the time I was captured and stuffed in a castle for six hundred years. So I’m not sure.”
   “How did you learn all this, anyway? Were you just there for it?”
   “Partially: remember, I’m old. I lived in Trampledlearned, or what was left of it, for a good while. But most of it I got from the beak dog’s mouth.

I was captured in Trampledlearned in 410, I think. For years I was kept in a vast tomb complex, until that was attacked and I was taken to Castle Beeryearling. But soon after that someone else arrived at the castle: Álat Bookbridges.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
She had escaped the Equal Kingdom’s dungeons and went off into the hills again, building a new tower. She started fighting again in the early 300s—but by this point she was just fighting other necromancers. Her new tower was eventually destroyed by another coven, the Pristine Rags, in the 440s; she escaped from them when the Equal Kingdom destroyed their fortress, and came to Beeryearling. She was there long enough to tell me the story, but she left the next year. I don’t know what happened to her then.

   “So all that I read about dwarves raising the dead… it’s true?”
   “Probably.”
   “So those dwarves I met in Quakegloves… really are hundreds of years old?”
   “Very likely.”
   “And they’re necromancers?”
   “Almost certainly. Hiding from other necromancers and anyone who remembers the Death Wars—which I suppose isn’t many people. You’ll have to be careful who you trust: anyone who's still alive, probably isn't alive naturally.”
   Thob shuddered. Who else among his kindred—even at Dawngloves, or Lawmined—might be a sorcerer?



The regular adventure will continue in the next update, which I'll try to get up tomorrow or Monday.
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TheImmortalRyukan

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #70 on: August 01, 2020, 02:34:38 pm »

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Loved the info dump, really is amazing the worlds DF can make
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TheFlame52

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #71 on: August 01, 2020, 02:56:21 pm »

That's some impressive storytelling! I love the narratives the new update creates.

But what happened to the elves?

King Zultan

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #72 on: August 02, 2020, 06:19:43 am »

Probably got eaten by zombies like everyone else.

At some point our quest might shift from finding booze to finding and killing all remaining necromancers.
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The Lawyer opens a briefcase. It's full of lemons, the justice fruit only lawyers may touch.
Make sure not to step on any errant blood stains before we find our LIFE EXTINGUSHER.
but anyway, if you'll excuse me, I need to commit sebbaku.
Quote from: Leodanny
Can I have the sword when you’re done?

Loam

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #73 on: August 02, 2020, 09:33:36 am »

Legends Mode is unequivocally my favorite way to play. I have endless fun diving through the wacky soap operas it generates.

In this last research session the best I found was the tragedy of Ohe Wispsweetness, a member of Alat's coven. Ohe was a tavern keeper in Trampledlearned for many years until he was made high doctor. In this position he was approached by Alat to embezzle funds from the government - this was while Alat was the town building official and was taking orders from Bosa Witchguards, a goblin underworld boss.
   In 84 Ohe learned the secret of life and death from Uja Fondledcloaks, Alat's apprentice, embarking on his own career of evil. He taught his own apprentice, Uram Lightspires, and managed to corrupt the baron of Trampledlearned with bribes. Sadly his plans were cut short when he was ambushed by Sana Partnerbasements, leader of a local mob (the Tactical Gullies); he was subdued, convicted of treason (against the mob!) and executed - in Blownslings. I can't for the life of me figure out what Ohe did to cross the mob - he has absolutely no connection to them - but for some reason they came after him.
   But Ohe's story isn't over. In 137 - ten years after his death - he was raised by Alat as a rotten one. But he wasn't able to accomplish anything, even in undeath, because once again Sana Partnerbasements shows up, subdues zombie Ohe, convicts zombie Ohe of treason against the mob again, and executes him.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   Moral of the story: don't cross the mob. They will kill you, and then they will kill you again.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   However Ohe did get revenge, of a sort. In 182 Sana died of old age. Uram Lightspires, Ohe's apprentice, wasn't going to let that stand: she went to the mob's fort, raised Sana's corpse as a rotten one, and made the undead mob boss into the leader of the coven's armies. Zombie Sana led the attacks on the Equal Kingdom in 220 until she was struck down by a dwarf - giving her the violent death I suppose Uram thought she deserved...

But what happened to the elves?
As far as I can tell there were never any elves in this part of the world. What elves there are seem to have trickled in from other places.

At some point our quest might shift from finding booze to finding and killing all remaining necromancers.
Despite my best efforts the story is shaping up to have an actual plot. It was inevitable, I suppose.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 09:56:22 am by Loam »
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Loam

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Re: Thob Goes to the Surface
« Reply #74 on: August 03, 2020, 02:20:03 pm »

They made it to the tower grounds without incident. Thob began checking the nearby barrows for treasure: sure enough, he managed to scrounge a full suit of armor for Strodno, along with a sword and buckler. It was an eclectic panoply, and a bit rusty, but still better than nothing.

With some trepidation they entered the tower—but it was as quiet within as without. There were, to Thob’s delight, many books lying around:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “Don’t go reading too hastily!” said Strodno. “Some of these books are… dangerous.”
   “What do you mean? They’re just books.”
   “Just… don’t read any written in blood or bound in dwarf skin, please?”
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   Thob read cautiously, but he didn’t see the problem. The books seemed innocuous enough. Most were minor autobiographies or guides to various places, but here and there was an occasional work of literature.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Among the guidebooks Thob was intrigued to find a scroll about Lawmined, written by a former resident who, apparently, didn’t think much of the old homestead:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
The most interesting autobiographies came from one Lorbam Faintpaint. His necromantic experiments gave Thob chills, but his attempts at intrigue were pretty laughable. His writing was kind of downer, though.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
The necromancers seemed to have a tendency toward pettiness—particularly towards old flames. One Thîkut Granitepointed wrote two essays about his ex Asmel: Asmel Helmsbrass and the Coming Troubles (about their marriage), and Victory by the Dwarves (about their divorce).
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
And then there was Lon Socketlistened’s stunningly self-indulgent The World Without Bestra Subtlelanterns:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Frankly he wondered how such petty people could have conquered the world. But maybe having an army of zombies made things easier.

Having loaded his pack with the worthiest books—even necromancer knowledge, he reasoned, was worth saving—Thob and Strodno headed out. The sun was going down. There were some huts to the south—some huts, and a lot of things roaming around:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
He and Strodno conversed a bit as they went. She seemed a little more well-disposed towards him; she even laughed at his jokes!
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “I’ve been thinking,” she said. “I think something strange is going on.”
   “You mean, something other than the zombies and mutants and whatnot?”
   “Obviously. I meant… coincidences. How many dwarves from Lawmined are in the Communion of Saints?”   
   “Just me, I think.”
   “Thought so. But you’re the dwarf who got me—a priestess of the Communion—out of the castle. Didn’t you tell me you prayed at Egesh’s temple just before that?”
   “I see what you mean. And before that, she blessed me with good luck.”
   “Well, all that got me thinking… what if they’re not coincidences? What if they’re signs?”
   “Signs? Of what?”
   “There’s a holy relic of our religion that was stolen a long time ago. It’s called Puresuns—a beautiful jewel sacred to Egesh. Guess who has it now?”
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
   “Hold on, now,” said Thob, “I’ve been to Brightplums. It’s scary! I didn’t even get to the tower.”
   “But I’ve seen you tackle the undead…”
   “One at a time.”
   “…and you said you’d recovered artifacts before…”
   “Yes, but not ones guarded by zombies.”
   “You’ve got to have some faith! I’m sure this is why Egesh brought us together—so we could recover Puresuns from that witch’s grasp.”
   “Look Strod,” he said. “Faith is all well and good, but blind luck isn’t worth much against the witch-queen of the whole world and her army of zombies. And I’m just one dwarf—one dwarf who has gone without a drink for far too long. I’d need a stiff drink or fifteen before tackling that task.”
   “I didn’t mean right this second,” she said. “We’ll need to be a lot better outfitted… and maybe find some extra hands to help. But just… think about it, okay?”
   “I can’t really think about anything but booze,” said Thob. “Tell you what: you help me find some alcohol, then I’ll think about getting this Puresuns back. Deal?”
   “Alright, Thob,” she said. “We’ll try to find you a drink. If I remember correctly there’s more towns to the north—maybe there’s some alcohol left. We’ll head out tomorrow.”
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