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Group Smoke in the Outskirts

Discussion in 'Rauru Village' started by Moone, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. Moone

    Moone Eccentric Inventor
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    Moone was quiet for a while. A very long while. One might even call it a prolonged, awkward silence without being entirely incorrect. The gears in his mind slowly turned within his mind, as he meandered aimlessly down memory lane. He remembered getting his first book on magic, a worn old tome that any mage worth his salt wouldn't touch on his worst day. It represented most of his mother's saving, and the best birthday party he could remember from his youth. It was poor kindling for a spark of magic, but then a spark of magic was all he ever had.

    He remembered the day his teacher gave up on him. A sour day tainted by hate, spite, and so much sadness. It was this first tranquil fury, this slight, that remained core to his passion, his work, his very being. It was the clockspring that drove him forward, that turned the gears of his mind in the relentless pursuit of alchemical superiority. That drove him to prove that with all but a spark, he could light up the whole world. That with only a spark, all that stood in his path would burn in the light of innovation.

    He remembered that day as the day he realized that a spark of magic was all he ever needed. And he grinned, wide and toothy in defiance of his roots.

    "Not for all the magic in the world, Squamata. Were I a mage, I'd be a footnote. A forgotten blot of ink in the pages of history. I am as I was meant to be. And as I am, it is I who will write the book."
     
  2. Squamata

    Squamata Honorless Warrior
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    Squamata looked at him a while and nodded slowly. "I... see." His answer unsettled her. "Your shame... you're saying it will bring you future glory." She gazed down at her metal gauntlet. "I... would not have answered the same." The confession was foul on her tongue, but she forced it out anyway. "If I could change things, if the chance to undo what has been done were offered... I would take it. There's wisdom in what you say, but I...." She clenched a fist. "I cannot accept it. I was a failure, and I was cast out of my home for the shame my failings brought to my people. Even if these circumstances eventually bring about glory I would never have otherwise achieved, I would still wish to be never torn from my family, from my lands, my very purpose. I would wish to never have been made an exile." She rose. "Perhaps someday I will understand the wisdom in your words, but today is not that day."

    She took a long pull from the waterskin and grabbed another chunk of meat. "I will find glory, though. Even if I'd wish it all away for a chance to make things different, I will still fight to reach heights of glory and honor I would never have dreamed of otherwise. I will be great and do great things for my people... regardless of my inner wish." Moone's words clung to her, but this was where she was. The shameful fires of regret still burned strong within her, and Squamata didn't have the inner strength to extinguish them even if she wanted to leave the burning behind in pursuit of true wisdom. Maybe someday she would be strong and determined enough to be as Moone was, but for now? Now she could only move forward, even if she did gaze longingly back. It would have to be enough.

    "When you're ready," she said, "I'd like to leave. I wasn't made to lie in bed while the world turns outside."
     
  3. Moone

    Moone Eccentric Inventor
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    Nathaniel looked out the window, gauging the time. The faintest shades of dawn were painting the horizon. It wasn't morning yet, but there was no real point to going back to sleep, he'd be up in a couple hours anyway. And besides... he had brewing to do. Speaking of...

    "Not just yet. I'm down to one kind of potion, and I need to check the Rot-glue flask for leaks... and I'm fresh out of healing potion. I need to wait until the shops open so I can get a hold of the ingredients and reagents I need to replenish my supplies. Unless you know a magic shop open on the wrong side of dawn?" He smiled at his little joke. "We can rest a little longer, I think. And use what's left of our feast for the day's rations."

    His sore limbs were beginning to loosen up. He stretched, cracking the kinks out of his bones. "But there's something you ought do while the world turns dawnward." He adjusted his stance a bit. Ready to fall backward, to avoid a potential left hook. He was unsure if the weight of his next words would bring retribution. "For just a moment, Squamata, forget your people. If only for a moment, forget the family, the lands, the purpose, everything that has been taken from you. It is time for you to look inward, and begin asking yourself the big questions: 'Who are you?' and 'What do you want?'"
     
  4. Squamata

    Squamata Honorless Warrior
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    Squamata crossed her arms, frustrated at the delay. She wanted to move under the open sky, and the thought of staying cooped up all day rankled her. Her legs itched to run through open grass and under tree, and she shuddered at the notion of sitting quietly in this dead house of chopped wood and cut stone. But the thought of treasure sustained her. She would need money to fund great deeds, and this was a bounty she had almost died to win. It was worth biting her tongue and waiting a day.

    Moone spoke again, and Squamata could tell by his stance that he expected her to punch him. She didn't. Instead, she laughed. "Forget? I could just as soon forget my arms." She shook her head, still chuckling. "Maybe things are different here in the drylands, but I am a member of my tribe, first and foremost. Before all else I owe myself to my family, to my people, and to my land. You are asking me to set aside all that I hold dear, all that I belong to and identify by and believe in and live for, and shrink my world so that I only consider myself. I can think of nothing more selfish." Selfish... or scary. What was she without that identity? She shoved her mind away from the thought before she fell into its cold abyss.

    Squamata fixed Moone with a steely stare. "Exile or no, I am a woman of the Sept, and my life is dedicated to the Lizalfos of the Midoran Marsh. I fight for the freedom and the glory of my people. I may be cast out, but I will not throw everything aside for the sake of myself. I will not abandon them." She broke eye contact and looked away. "I failed them before. I won't do so again."
     
  5. Moone

    Moone Eccentric Inventor
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    The hours passed quietly after that. Moone focused on doing maintenance on his gear until the shops opened, then spent the next couple of hours pestering apothecaries and herbalists and even a bewildered barkeep who was closing up shop for the day. Materials in hand, he returned to the room. He produced a strange apparatus of wires and bolts and used it to hold an iron flask over a candle's flame while he carefully poured in the ingredients. A sulfurous powder here, a sprig of thyme, a lump of something that could once have been cheese, and soon an acrid scent filled the room. He counted off the time as the final reactions fizzed away, closing his fingers one by one until a three foot gout of flame burst from the flask right on cue. He set aside the bottle with 'BLAZE OIL' embossed in flowing script, and placed another bottle on the fire. He hesitated, then set that one back down on the table. "ROT GLUE" it proclaimed, just under an ugly dent.

    "Hey Squamata," He said, by way of putting off the inevitable. "You want to learn how to make health potion by the bottle?" He held up one of the many empty bottles from last night's feast, each impeccably cleaned and awaiting new corks.

    He had everything he'd need laid out. A clean rasp and a spit of winewood, an assortment of fruits and vegetables, a jar of relatively fresh chu jelly... the list went on. Every alchemist had a different recipe, a different flavor, for their potion. Moone's was a bit more esoteric than most, but the way he measured ingredients prevented the need for a vat of sufficient size to drown a grown man, and let him stay nomadic and mobile.
     
  6. Squamata

    Squamata Honorless Warrior
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    Squamata watched interestedly as Moone bustled about, but she hesitated when he asked if she wanted to learn. Brewing potions was something shamans did, it was forbidden to warriors like her, and she would be punished back home if she was found dabbling in things best left to the spiritual guides. But to be able to brew her own health potions... That would be incredibly useful in her quest. And she didn't have shamans now to guide her.

    She nodded. "Yes," she said simply. "I would."

    Even with her practical reasonings, the decision felt odd. Warriors were concerned only with the physical, and it was alien for her to engage with something of the spirits. She didn't belong with the spiritual- only the physical was relevant to her. And yet, her experience between life and death sang to her still. Like it or not, she wasn't a simple warrior anymore. She had left the living world and walked a path in the shadowlands to death, and it was impossible to return from such an experience unchanged. The spiritual journey was hers now, and she would need to embrace it or risk being lost on the path she could still feel calling to her. Something about that made her stomach twist into knots. It meant change, huge change, to who and what she was, and that frightened her. But there was no time to hesitate now. There was no denying the importance of learning to make healing potions. She could sort out what all this meant later.

    She looked over the ingredients and frowned. She recognized most of the plants, but what was Chu jelly for? Did warriors really eat that stuff to survive? She wanted to ask but held her tongue, afraid to shame her with her ignorance, and stayed quiet, waiting for the lesson to begin.
     
  7. Moone

    Moone Eccentric Inventor
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    Moone could tell she had questions... probably a lot of them judging by the look on her face. Best to explain while he worked, and let her inquire when she needed to. He started by opening up the jar of chu jelly, releasing an acrid yet fruity aroma into the air.

    "The base for most health potions is chu jelly. Its important to keep it sealed when not in use, so it doesn't congeal," he explained as he tipped the jar carefully. A thin ribbon of red ooze flowed down the neck of the bottle until he had about a finger's worth at the bottom of the bottle. "Chu jelly is a digestive, it helps break down the rest of the ingredients for a smooth consistency. You can make it with any edible acid, but you have to stew it for days to break everything down. And even then it'll be a gritty lumpy mess." He sealed the jar again.

    "Next, we need a magically charged substance. A lot of people use lesser fairies or rare fungi for this, but I have a source that's easier to come by." He lifted the rasp and the spit of wood stained a deep purple one side. "I call it winewood," he said as he began to grind the spit into sawdust. There was a lot of alcohol absorbed into the wood, the room soon smelled like a vineyard... a really good vineyard. "The barrels they use to ferment alcohol are full to the brim with Forest magic. They're basically marinated in fruit or grain or and living yeast." He swept the fragrant dust into a neat mound on a slip of parchment, and carefully poured it into the bottle. "If you don't have time to grind it, or the tools, just lop off chunk and let it steep for a half day or so." The red liquid began to fizz and bubble where it met the powder. "You need one part winewood to two parts jelly."

    He dragged forth what initially looked like a bowl of salad, and began plucking fruits and vegatables and greens from them and chopping them into haphazard pieces with a knife. "What's already there would heal you, but it'd knock you right out. If you don't give it material to work with when it heals you it'll take what it needs from your body." He said. "You need a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Try and get something in every color except blue." He got the pieces small enough that they fit down the neck of the bottle and began dropping them in. "You need to mince these REALLY fine if you don't have chu jelly, it does a lot of the work for you." The bottle was hat full of chopped vegetable matter when he was done. Passing over what once was cheese, he plucked a clean chicken bone from the night before from a platter and dropped it in as well. He poured clean water in until it was just at the base of the neck, and corked it. He shook it, mixing the water and the jelly and all the juices together around the chunks. He pulled the cork out again, and placed the bottle on the fire.

    "Now all we need to do is let it simmer, so the heat can help the jelly break everything down. Once everything breaks down, we'll bring it up to a boil to denature the jelly and stop it from being digestive, and that's really all there is to it."

    The preparation took only a few minutes, and as Moone spoke the reactions began. The solid matters seemed to fade away slowly into a vibrant ruby elixer that bubbled gently in the bottle. And it smelled surprisingly appetizing. Not unlike a sweetened stew. Moone carefully picked it up and sloshed it from side to side, eyeing the cloudy liquid. Satisfied, he focused on the candles, and guided all the heat they could produce straight through the bottle and into the potion itself. It reached a boil in seconds, and stayed there until Moone took it off the fire with a thick leather forge glove. He corked it, and held it up to the light.
    "When it comes out crystal clear like this, you did it right."

    He took a step back from the table and gestured to it. "Give it a try."
     
  8. Squamata

    Squamata Honorless Warrior
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    Squamata looked at him uncertainly before stepping up to the table. She ran her eyes over the hodge-podge of stuff on the table, trying to remember everything he'd done. This was so different from anything she'd learned before. On the one hand, the unfamiliarity of the work made her uneasy. On the other hand, the novelty was thrilling. This was something entirely new, a secret process that would make her able to heal any injury sustained on the battlefield. Potions were forbidden to a simple warrior, but that just made the work all the more exciting.

    "Okay," she said, leaning on the table with her hands, "first we need the base." She took the Chu and doled out a portion. She poured it slowly, keeping an eye on Moone to know when she'd gathered enough. "And we need it because... it helps mush and mix everything together so it isn't all clumpy. What are other acids that are safe to eat? Even if they don't work as well, I may need a backup." She capped the bottle of Chu jelly and turned to the wood station.

    Squamata took up the wood file, examining it. Did she need to find such a tool, or would her iron arm guard work just as well? She noted the rows of small teeth on the rasp. Her arm guard didn't have anything like that. She doubted her gauntlet would do more than crush the wood. She wanted to travel as light as possible and didn't want to be weighed down by anything she didn't need, but if this tool was necessary to produce health potions, she would have to sacrifice for it. It wasn't too big a tool, so it wouldn't be that inconvenient.

    She picked up a chunk of the purple-sided wood, turning it over in her hands. "Winewood, you called it? But anything magical will work, right? Carrying logs of wood around seems impractical." She began to grind against the wood with the tool, clumsily at first but quickly gaining confidence in the motion, until she had a fair-sized pile of sawdust to scoop into the bottle. She flinched when the Chu jelly sizzled at the contact, half-expecting the thing to explode in her face, but when nothing else happened she continued on. One part wood to two parts jelly, so there should be twice as much jelly as wood. When it seemed that she'd poured half as much sawdust as there was jelly in the bottle, she stopped. There was still some dust left on the table, and she grimaced apologetically at Moone. "Sorry about that."

    The next part was easy. Squamata had been preparing her own food since she was old enough to gather it, and she had the vegetables chopped and stuffed into the bottle in short order. "I never thought potions would be magic meals," she said, "but I guess it makes sense." She gave the potion as much variety as she could, but she passed over the spinach as it was bad for her kind. Finally, she topped the bottle off with water and shook it until everything floated together. She put the bottle on the fire, almost forgetting to pull the cork out, and waited.

    When she couldn't see any more chunks she picked it up carefully and checked it. "Looks like it's all melted," she said. She hesitated. Moone had used magic to bring it to a quick boil, but Squamata had no such tricks. "I guess I have to put it back on the fire and wait for it to come to a boil," she said. "That won't mess with anything, will it? You did it all at once."
     
    #48 Squamata, Jun 13, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  9. Moone

    Moone Eccentric Inventor
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    He watched her work, ready to stop any mistakes... not that there were any bad mistakes to make, the whole reason he used this recipe was because he'd pared it down so far. He'd seen recipes for health potion that took up an entire book on their own. He'd taken a lot of trial and error to sort out what actually worked. He answered her questions in turn.

    "Yes, it breaks down the materials we're adding so we don't have to stew it like most of the traditional methods." He said, while she poured the chu jelly. "Things like citrus juice will work, vinegar, or strong alcohol. Something served in a shot glass. Most of the alcohol will cook out while it simmers, but it will still be slightly alcoholic when you finish." He smiled. She was asking the right questions. She might make a passing alchemist yet.

    She began filing the winewood. "Not exactly, you need to make sure its the right element. Forest magic is what you want for a healing potion. That or Spirit, but reagants that carry that are rare and expensive." He said, filing away the idea of tweaking the elements in the recipe for later. She apologized for the waste. "Don't worry about it, winewood's cheap, usually free. Most brewers don't really care about old broken barrels."

    Heh. Magic meals. "You don't know the half of it. I've seen a recipe for fish stew that passes for health potion. Remember, its entirely possible to perform alchemy by accident." He chuckled. "Just try to write it down if you do."

    "No, it'll be fine. I just cheat to save time." He smiled. "Its not hard to do if you've got a little magical talent, but I think I'm the first to bother trying. He had no idea if Squamata could do any magic, so he left the offer unspoken as the liquid began to bubble. "Congratulations Squamata," he grinned, as the liquid finally began to clear. "You're an alchemist."
     
    #49 Moone, Jun 14, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2018
  10. Squamata

    Squamata Honorless Warrior
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    Squamata snorted. "An alchemist? From this? It was more like cooking than anything else." There was a tinge of disappointment laced through her words. She had expected more to the process. This was what the shamans hid behind their dark curtains and thick smoke? This was what they practiced in the rooms forbidden to all except the gravely injured? "There must be more to it," she said, holding the bottle up to her eyes. "There was no ritual, no calling to the spirits, no magic beyond what was already in the ingredients." She swished the vial, watching its clear contents swirl and slosh against the sides of the glass. "This can't be the secret, not all of it. This is a piece, but it can't be everything." The image of the borderlands came back to her, accompanied by the memory of the strange fire burning within her. No, there was more to discover. This was only the beginning.

    Squamata tapped the vial with her claws and looked up at Moone. "Even so," she said, "this is a powerful tool you've given me. Thank you." She stared at the potion. "I can fight without worrying about being on my own in the wilderness. I won't need to drag myself to the nearest village every time I get injured to be treated. I can survive wounds that would normally kill me." She paused, letting it sink in. "A powerful gift." She wasn't sure what she felt. She should be excited, but it was tempered by something quiet and sad. Guilt at trespassing on things that had always been forbidden to her? Maybe, but only a little. More, it was the solemn understanding that her old life, both as a warrior and as a member of the Sept, had come to an end. She was in transition, in her own little borderlands, stepping between what was and what would be as surely as she'd stepped from life to death only a short time ago. It was hard to truly feel excited in the wake of that.

    And yet, the healing potion she'd made sparked a quiet passion within her. It was small, subdued, and entirely new to her, but it was there. This thing she'd done- the simplicity of it, the power the knowledge brought her, the ease with which she knew she could repeat the process- it awed her. What other powers were out there for her to discover? The world, which was already so large to her after leaving Midoro, expanded once again, but for the first time, the thought was exciting instead of terrifying. She lowered the vial to the table and set it beside the pile of sawdust she'd filed off earlier. Then her eyes snapped up to Moone.

    "I have questions," she said, her voice burning with intensity. She braced herself on the table and leaned towards Moone, her yellow eyes boring into his grey ones. "How much will this heal? Will it mend broken bones, close wounds, replenish blood? Will it help with an illness or poison, or is it only useful for injuries? Is it toxic if I use it too often or drink too much? How quickly does it act? Can I use this during battle, or is it so exhausting that I should only drink it during rest?"
     
  11. Moone

    Moone Eccentric Inventor
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    "Probably," Moone said in response. "I'm an alchemist, not a shaman. Its entirely possible that there's more to what you've seen so far." He smiled as he watched her face. It was alive with emotion, most of it seemed to be positive in spite of the melancholy. She turned suddenly, questions loosed in quick succession like a volley of arrows. He grinned.

    The spark has kindled new flame. He thought to himself. Another alchemist was born, untainted by hundreds of years of grandstanding charlatans. Squamata would move forward from where he already was, and that was something truly grand.

    "It can heal as much as half of its own volume, replacing what is missing or damaged." he stated, sliding into a familiar, academic mindset. "It is not a curative. If you're poisoned or envenomed it will mend the damage but it will not remove the cause. The best it can do for toxins is buy you time, and not much of it." "It's not toxic unless you make it with alcohol but you can build up a resistance to it if you rely on it for everything. Its like... well, alcohol. The more you use it, the greater your tolerance. Change up the mix of food you add to it from time to time to mitigate that."

    Excellent, excellent! He thought, a grin growing on his face. No stone unturned. She's a natural.

    "It works very fast, but the more tissue needs to mend, the longer it takes," he began. "Take a knife through the back, the wound will be gone in a few blinks. Suffer a deep tissue burn, and it may take a few minutes. Replacing tissue will always take longer than mending." With that, he thought of one final note. "I also wouldn't use it if you lose a limb and you can't recover it. The replacement would be stunted and misshapen. Better than bleeding out, but you'd need to have it lopped off for a prosthetic anyway."

    He pulled out a couple more bottles, and another handful of candles. "Want to help me get the rest of the healing potions brewed before I start on the rot-glue?" He offered with a smile.
     
  12. Squamata

    Squamata Honorless Warrior
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    Squamata nodded as he spoke, committing the information to memory and binding the knowledge to the image of the potion and the scene around her. The more she could link this to, the easier it would be to remember it later. This was incredibly important, and she didn’t want to forget anything Moone was telling her.

    She ran a reverent claw over the potion's stopper. “A knife wound gone in a few blinks,” she marveled. “Incredible.” She couldn’t rely on it too much, but if changing the recipe helped keep the effects strong… Squamata felt her limitations fall away. The scope of what she could do was suddenly much greater. She could face dangers that once she would’ve balked at confidently. She wouldn’t be invincible, but survival was now easier to hold to.

    “Let’s do it,” she said, and took the jar of Chu jelly. “I’ll start doling out the jelly if you want to start grinding the wood. I want to practice getting the right amount of jelly in the bottles.” Adding the wood was the easy part once you had the jelly in, but getting the right amount of jelly in the bottles was the tricky bit.

    Getting home requires great deeds, she thought as she doled out the Chu jelly into bottles. And with this potion I can face the dangers that guard the path to greatness. And this is just the beginning. Who know what other secrets the spirits will reveal.

    Time passed as the two prepared bottles of healing potion, Squamata gradually becoming more and more comfortable with the procedure until finally she acknowledged that this was something she could do on her own later. Moone offered to show her how to make the Rot Glue Potion, and at first Squamata was eager to learn the secret of the weapon that had so effectively felled her, but at the first whiff of the potion’s contents she was overcome with nausea and dizzinness and had to retreat to the fresh air outside. She waited until he was done, and when Moone emerged- with the bottles of Rot Glue sealed- they began their trek out to where they’d first encountered the Moblins.

    Squamata stretched, relishing the freedom of the open air. She had been cooped up for too long. The dirt road ran before them, and Squamata balanced on the edge of the ruts wagon wheels had dug into the earth. There were no clouds to block the sun, and Squamata smiled at the warmth the light brought her. She knew Hylians disliked the beating heat of the sun, but her kind were different. They did not generate their own body heat but instead took energy from their environment. The Marsh was perfect for the Lizalfos in part because it was so hot. Her people spent a good amount of time each morning out bathing in the sun on large, flattened, communal rocks, and so while Moone may find the heat discomforting, Squamata found it energizing. There were reports that the fields of Hyrule got too cold for her kind in the deep winter months. She would need to find some way to stay warm, since she would be unable to return to the heat of the swamp pits when the world grew too cold.

    She looked at the human beside her. He made his own heat, and he was therefore more free to travel through the different environments of Hyrule than she was. She wondered if he made less of it than his cousins- he did, after all, produce much less magic than was normal for his kind. Were heat and magic related? She didn’t know. There was a lot she didn’t know. Despite his shortcomings, Moone was determined.

    Determined to do what, though?

    “Moone,” she asked, “what do you do with your potions? You said you aren’t a shaman for your people. Your potions are a marvel, but what do you do with your alchemy? Are you a traveling salesman or mercenary? You spoke with passion earlier about rising to the universe’s challenge. What did that mean?”

    [[Timeskip at Venompen's approval.]]
     
    #52 Squamata, Jun 29, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
  13. Moone

    Moone Eccentric Inventor
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    Moone shook his head. "I use my potions to stay alive. I'm not strong like you are, and I'm clearly no mage, so I rely on my mind." It hadn't worked out as well as he'd hoped. He clearly wasn't equipped to handle large groups. If it hadn't been for his scaly companion and the nutjob in the trees, he wouldn't be having this conversation.

    "Alchemy has the potential to do so much, to further both magic and technology. Perhaps one day it could even unite them. But I seem to be the only one that's doing anything new with it." He turned to face her, walking backwards as he did so. "Its my duty to remind the world that alchemy is more than giant vats of healing potions and sticking bombs on arrowheads. I lead by my own example and I experiment constantly. And sure, not everything works, but we won't learn anything by brewing the same damn thing over and over. Winewood should be a standard reagant. Its cheap, abundant, and safe! But nobody bothered to look!" He was beginning to lose himself in his frustration. He took a deep breath and turned around forcing the gears of his mind to slow.

    "That is my challenge, Squamata. To open the eyes of the world to possibilities that have long been ignored because they aren't straightforward or easy. To take the path less traveled by and map it for those who follow."

    He was silent for a time as the cave came into view. He opened one of his metal flasks and fixed it to the sprayer, priming it with pressure until he could barely move the handle and fiddling the nozzle until it would release a narrow, high pressure stream. This wasn't something Squamata had smelled before. It didn't have the vile stench of rot-glue, if anything it smelled clean. And it didn't burn furiously like blaze oil. As he primed the pressure, it produced a faint noise like a Minish sifting through a pile of glass.
     
  14. Squamata

    Squamata Honorless Warrior
    Lizalfos

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    "I see," Squamata said. "Alchemists- and the people who hire them- have grown complacent. Like a warrior become flabby and slow from resting on his past triumphs, their art has turned stale. Instead of continually striving for new heights of skill and knowledge, they have settled into their routine and do as they have always done. You see untapped potential in the discipline and work to innovate." She clasped her arms behind her back and thought. She wanted to know what drove him, what pushed him onward, but she didn't want to just 'know.' She wanted to really understand. If she could take what drove him and hold the lesson within her, she could walk her own path with her eyes a little more open. At last she spoke. "I think I understand. You have two goals: first, to research and discover new wonders; and second, to open the world's eyes to the possibilities alchemy offers, to light the fires of passion that have all but died to flickering embers." Slowly, she nodded. "These are admirable goals, Moone. You make your ancestors proud."

    The cave was small, barely enough for three warriors to stand shoulder to shoulder at the mouth. The sun overhead cast a deep shadow, and it was difficult to see far into the cave from her place in the daylight. It was unlikely for any hostiles to be lurking within, not when they had so recently flushed them out, but there was always the possibility that a few had been out hunting and had returned to an empty lair. They would have to be careful. Moone began messing with one of his contraptions, and Squamata took the opportunity to get a feel for the area. They had left the road some time ago, though they were not yet deep into the forest. The cave was surrounded by trees, with a small brook trickling downhill not too far from the entrance. "I can see why they camped here," she murmured. "Isolated location, easy access to water, plenty of hunting... I'll have to remember this place." There were no animals in the area at the moment- they had probably learned to avoid the Moblins that had lived here- but she doubted there was any shortage of game with the heart of the forest so close.

    She scanned for animal tracks, idly wondering what sort of beast was common here out beyond the marsh, and caught sight of something strange. Most of the ground was relatively clear, but there was something.... She knelt. Fresh tracks. An anomaly here, so close to the cave. Squamata recognized the type. Wolfos tracks. They weren't native to the marshlands, but roving bands of hungry Wolfos weren't terribly unusual. She'd had to hunt a few packs that had encroached on Sept territory through the years. And this- bootprints? The two were together, from about the same time. Had the Wolfos been chasing someone? No, she realized. The man, the crazy archer who'd attacked Michael. He must've run this way.

    Squamata's heart beat faster. She stood, her face flush with anticipation. "Moone," she called, not yet turning from the tracks. "I'll have to say goodbye once we find that treasure. I have a hunt to chase." Then, with one last glance out into the forest, she rejoined Moone to delve into the cave.
     
  15. Moone

    Moone Eccentric Inventor
    Hylian

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    They explored the cave in near silence, the better to remain wary of an ambush. Moone lit them each a torch with a tree branch and a drop of blaze oil, and in they went. It was deeper than expected, and it had a few twists and turns as they descended. It was largely barren an uninteresting, though there was a notable natural spring deep within the cave. It was a waterfall in miniature that filled a small depression in the ground before flowing on through a crack in the wall. It looked like it easily held a few gallons at a time. This cavern in particular was also coated in mushrooms. There were hundreds of them like little blind eyes staring our of the dark. Moone speared one on a penknife, and brought it into the light. He looked it over, and sniffed it before smiling.

    "Agaricus bisporus," Moone said. "Common button mushrooms. They probably cultivated these as a food source. Would have helped them stay hidden if they didn't need to go topside as often." He dropped the mushroom into his bag off the end of the knife, and put it away as the left for the next cavern, where something promising was glinting in the dark.
     
  16. Squamata

    Squamata Honorless Warrior
    Lizalfos

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    Squamata rolled her shoulders contemplatively. "And I thought this place was a gold mine from the outside," she said. "No wonder they fought so hard to protect this place." She snatched one of the mushrooms, sniffed it, and nibbled a bit off the end. Moone implied that it was fine to eat, but he wasn't a Lizalfos. You could never be too careful with a new food. If she didn't get sick and nothing weird happened to her shit she could start relying on these mushrooms for an emergency food supply. I probably shouldn't have eaten that right before going on a hunt, she realized. Damn. Well, there was nothing for it. She wasn't about to let the trail go cold. She'd just have to hope that she didn't start crapping soupy goop on the way.

    They crossed into the next cavern. Squamata raised her torch high and whistled. "This just keeps getting better and better." An entire wagon rested against the far wall. A skeleton was flopped carelessly against the side of the driver's seat, several arrows tangled in the ratty cloth hanging from its shoulders. Shallow grooves in the soft dirt floor showed where the cart had been dragged from the outside. Squamata touched one and looked up at the skeleton. "This has been here a while," she said, walking over to the wagon. "But not long enough for the dirt to even out or the Moblins to break down the cart for firewood. It's hot and humid this time of year, so I give it... what, four weeks? Maybe a month? The forest would eat the body pretty fast, but if the Moblins didn't let any animals come and strip it...." She hummed to herself and moved around the back of the wagon, where the bed was still covered by tarp. "Dunno if there'll be anything in here. There should still be a little, or like I said they'd have broken the thing down by now."

    She threw the tarp back. Then she tsked. "That's it? What a shame." There wasn't a single money bag in sight. The bed was full of bundles of cloth, steel bars, planks of wood, and other things she didn't have a good use for. There was a good amount of empty space in the bed, and Squamata figured the Moblins had been using the goods to fund whatever luxuries they liked to indulge in. She poked at a large bag in the corner and shrugged. "Ore, looks like. I guess we could sell some of this stuff, so it isn't completely useless." She hopped out of the wagon and dusted herself off. "Just mostly useless. I'm not gonna lie, I'd rather it was just heaped with rupees. I'm not exactly looking forward to going back to Rauru after they kicked me out for having scales instead of warm fleshy bits."

    She turned to Moone. "I'm gonna make this place my base," she said. "It's surprisingly habitable for a random cave we stumbled on, and the forest outside is perfect for someone like me. Close enough to town to find glory but far enough away for humans to not bother me." She jerked a thumb at the wagon. "Take whatever you like, but leave me half. I don't have any money, so I'm gonna need to sell some of this stuff to fund my operations. I've got to go hunting a while, but if you're here when I get back maybe we can take a trip into town and sell together." She punched the man lightly on the shoulder. "I'm sure we can rustle up a good price for all this, and hey. That's a lot of winewood, am I right?" She turned to go. "I had fun, Moone. Thanks for showing me all that stuff about potions. Send word if you need anything, and don't be surprised if I show up at some point during your travels." She grinned. "I have a feeling I'll be seeing more of you." With that, she made to move out of the cavern.

    She had a psycho to chase.

    ((I had fun! Thanks for the good thread, Venompen. I hope we'll get to do this again.))
     

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