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Uncle Grubb's Mysterious Mansion [Quest, Original Setting]

Discussion in 'Questing' started by JMHthe3rd, Aug 15, 2015.

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  1. JMHthe3rd

    JMHthe3rd Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
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    Chapter Fourteen
    Saturday, August 8th, 2015
    (Your phone) 12:01 PM
    "Eddie. Heartstone," you say.

    Wordlessly, he hands you the red sphere, which dims in your palm. You pass it to Maribel, whose fingers envelop its glassy surface. At her touch, the stone shifts to cyan and brightens, bathing you all with an ethereal glow which casts an almost fluorescent sheen to the sofas' white sheets.

    The air stirs, and your body grows buoyant. Vertigo reels your brain; your stomach lurches. The couch you're kneeling on bobs an inch. By the wall, the crate of tools jiggles as though alive.

    "Mind turning the gravity back on?" Helen says, still perched on the opposite sofa. She doesn't look away from her scope, though her eyes are teary from the gas.

    You pat your baby sister's shoulder. "Easy, Maribel."

    Crouched on the floor, she clutches the heartstone like a squirrel with an acorn star. Her watery eyes shimmer. Your weight returns. The levitations settle. Around you, wispy tear-gas ghosts swirl and stream out the kitchen window as they sing a breezy wail.

    Outside, wet patterings cross the grass--closer now. You aim your shotgun at the backdoor's window. Beside you, Eddie cocks his golden revolver.

    Footsteps quicken into thuds. A tall, lumbering shape barrels from the Fog and slams into the door, which splinters inward but jars against the breakfast table wedged under the knob. Pressed against the window, the creature is caught in the heartstone's pale light.

    The Deep One is not what you expected. He wears a wide-brimmed 'doughboy' World War One helmet and a leathery gas mask with round lenses and a tin can mouth. His padded vest is thick with woven plates and festooned with grenades and ammo pouches. For a heartbeat you think he might be human, but his bare, burly arms are a muddy blue glistening with tiny scales.

    He raises a pump shotgun in his stubby, webbed claws. Good thing you have a shotgun too.

    You pull the trigger. A mule kicks your shoulder. Fire flashes out the muzzle. A boom claps your eardrums.

    The Deep One staggers, returns fire, but it shoots high. Glass sprays over your head. Eddie's shaky shot leaves a cracked spiderweb in the window's upper corner.

    The Deep One stumbles to its left, out of your line of sight. It's muffled, loose-syllabled curses bay over the ringing in your ears. A second, lighter voice bleats a reply. Two pairs of feet--one limping--lope eastward along the patio flagstones.

    You blink back after-images, then squint at the smoking, baseball-size hole through the breakfast table and the door. You fired low. Did you hit the Deep One's leg? Groin? A giddiness floods through you. Panting, you fidget with your weapon, flexing numbness out of your fingers.

    "Everyone all right?" you ask louder than you intended.

    Eddie nods, twisting a pinkie in his ear.

    "I'm good," Helen says. She's aiming her carbine at the shot-up window, her expression drawn in a scared-monkey grimace. Sweat and grease glazes her face.

    Maribel seems to shiver, though it's hard to tell with her powers snake-dancing her hair. "Hey, guys! It's . . . it's like I can touch through the air. I can feel the fishies move. There's two there." She points east, at the bedroom behind the stairs. "And two there." She points north, at the front doors.

    As if on cue, wood crunches, glass breaks.

    Helen trains her rifle on the entryway vestibule. She hunches low like a cat stalking prey. "I got this."

    The doors fly open, and two Deep One troopers storm into the great hall's stark lamplight. One has a shotgun, the other a large sidearm. Helen's carbine cracks. The one with the shotgun flinches, but then fires at the Fort. A chunk of armchair explodes from the front barricade. The one with the pistol holds out as though to shoot, but the weapon makes neither bang nor flash.

    Your twin wracks the lever, fires again. The Deep Ones scamper across the checkerboard floor towards the cover of the den.

    The engagement takes little much more than a second, but it's enough for a decent look. Even with their helmets, masks and body armor, these Deep Ones are obviously nothing like the rubber-suited monsters from the 'Fish Men' movies. Those were reptile superman with spiky hides and rippling muscles--more akin to alligators than fish or frogs.

    The creatures before you are not so impressive. They are big--taller than you and perhaps twice as heavy. But they're awkwardly proportioned, with an overly stout top-heaviness that reminds you of cartoon strongmen. Their bandy, blue legs (half covered by webbed kilts) end with broad, flipper feet that force them to nearly hop as they run. They were much more imposing in the nightmare, but there they were in their natural environment.

    A Deep One blasts his shotgun from the den's doorway. Helen fires. He ducks back.

    "Goddammit, what do you want from us?" you shout. It can't hurt to ask.

    Guttural croaking answers.

    "I don't know what they want, but I know what they're gonna get!" Helen says, peering feverishly through the scope, her teeth bared in a savage Cheshire grin. "You hear me, you fish fucks? This is Texas, and you're home invaders!" Her carbine spits another round.

    She's defaulted to bravado, which means she's terrified. You are too.

    Eddie picks something off the floor and rolls it between thumb and forefinger. He shows you the black shotgun slug, about the size and shape of a thimble. "It's rubber," he says and then motions at the wall above the forward sofa. A small silver dart with feathery fletching pokes from the wood paneling.

    "A tranquilizer," you guess.

    Eddie stares at his revolver. "They're after me. And Maribel."

    Maribel curls inward, but her eyes remain fixed on the heartstone.

    "They'll never take us alive!" Helen boasts.

    More glass shatters. It's from the bedroom down the narrow hall. You peek around the corner, but the room's door is shut. The floorboards creak with footfalls. Throaty murmurs carry through the wall.

    "There's two in there," Maribel whispers.

    They're probably the ones who attacked the backdoor, which means one is full of shot. The piled up dining room chairs will keep them from rushing the hall, but now the Deep Ones can shoot at you from two directions.

    "Are there any more outside?" you ask.

    "I don't think so," Maribel says. "If there are, they're away from the house."

    You lean close to your brother, catching a whiff of bad breath. "Eddie, get down to the basement. Do what you can with the witchboard."

    "But it might take hours to--"

    You grip his skinny biceps. "Do something! Do anything! Just try!"

    "It's a Hail Mary," Helen says, "but what do we have to lose?"

    He chews his lip rings. "Okay." Grabbing the Klostermanns book, he leaves the revolver on the sofa. "Don't anyone die, all right?" With his flashlight, he descends the stairs in a duck walk.

    "Good luck," Helen says.

    The tear gas is all but gone, but the faint, windy howls continue. Across the great hall, a wide, gray dust devil whirls in the den's doorway, and though the Deep Ones are out of sight, they jabber in annoyance. A similar commotion emanates from the bedroom.

    "I tried to pick up the fishies," Maribel says, her words wan and distant, "but they're too heavy. So I'm blowing air around to make them dizzy."

    "Nice," Helen says.

    The Deep Ones in the bedroom speak up, their voices dampened by the walls. The ones in the den respond. They have discussion.

    "Hai grah'n fm'latgh ep ah!"

    "Mnahn' ep ah hai!"

    "Nog mn mnahn!"

    "Hlirhg! Hai! Hai! Ep hai!"

    "Ba! Ba!"


    Helen laughs. "What's the matter, fish? Got cold feet?"

    You chuckle more from fear than humor. In truth, the emotion is but a weary resolve tainted only somewhat by dread. To consider unspeakable 'ifs' would petrify you, so you ride the detached moment, basking in the hurricane's eye. The adrenaline helps, you're sure.

    Propped on the rear sofa, leveling your shotgun at the bedroom door, you glance back at Maribel. Her attention is now submerged fully in the heartstone, her dark pupils sparkling in the radiance like moonlit pools. She trembles. Perspiration beads her brow.

    Over the whirlwinds in the den and bedroom come mechanical clack-clack, clack-clacks that your recognize as the wracking of shotgun slides. Objects fall and roll on the floor. The Deep Ones are ejecting their ammo. The sound is soon followed by the softer click-shink, click-shinks of shells being fed into tube magazines. You imagine these won't be rubber.

    "They're taking off the kid gloves." Helen says. She fumbles in a vest pocket and hands you three long, obsidian shells: Black Stilettos--armor piercing. She also has three Thunderfists--explosive slugs. The rest of the special shells (including the Atomic Wraths) are in the basement.

    Should you join Eddie down there? Since the Deep Ones are--apparently--giving up on capturing you, it may be prudent to retreat to a position with a single entry point. You and Helen could cover the stairs while Maribel maintains her aeromancy distractions.

    On the other hand, the Deep Ones don't have to shoot their way into the basement. They could stay upstairs and toss tear gas through the door. You don't know how many of those grenades they have, but you'll err on the side of 'too many.' And you don't know how long Maribel can keep up her magic, even with the heartstone. It might be better to hold Fort Sofa. Helen seems to have the ones in the den pinned down. You just have to cover the bedroom.

    There doesn't seem to be a good option, but you have to choose.

    ***

    Chapter End Time
    Saturday, August 8th, 2015
    (Your phone) 12:02 PM
    ***

    Inventory has been updated. Next I'll update the Notes and References. I know the vote was to retreat to the basement if it devolves into a shootout, and the default still is 'retreat,' but you're free to change your vote in light of this chapter's developments.

    Voting will remain open until the evening of next Friday, July 1st.

    Here is an updated tactical map. I hope it makes sense. I'll post a more cleaned up version later. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

    [​IMG]

    The greened in areas indicate estimated locations of the Deep Ones. You can't see them, but this is more or less where you think they are. The blurred areas are Maribel's dust devils.

    Tactical Summary
    : You think one Deep One in the bedroom is wounded (it was limping). Helen may or may not have wounded one of the Deep Ones in the den (it flinched, but then again it's wearing body armor). At least two of the Deep Ones are armed with what look like to be pump-action shotguns. One was carrying handgun of some sort, which based on the silver dart in the wall, may have been a tranquilizer pistol.

    Here's your party's current inventory:
    Inventory
    • Dodge SUV with trailer, half tank of gas (Parked in front of the house)
    • Water: 5-gallon water jugs (4)
    • Fuel
      • Gas can
    • Vehicles
      • Dirt bikes (2)
      • Kayaks (2)
      • Skateboards (2)
    • Water
      • 5-gallon water jugs (4)
      • Bottled water (16)
    • Food
      • Food for three or four days (1/2th of a day used)
        • Boxes of snacks, sandwiches.
      • Mini-fridge
      • Styrofoam cooler
    • Medicine
      • First aid kit (Fort Sofa)
      • Misc. Medicine (Fort Sofa)
    • Weapons
    • Ammo
      • Box of ammunition for the Golden Revolver (100 bullets, blunt tip) (2 boxes) (Cardboard box, Fort Sofa)
      • Box of ammunition for the Golden Revolver (14 bullets, 'Stilettos'?) (Cardboard box, Fort Sofa)
      • Box of ammunition for the Golden Revolver (10 bullets, 'Ice bullets'?) (Cardboard box, Fort Sofa)
      • Box of .38 Special (50) (Bedroom behind stairs)
      • Boxes 9mm Parabellum (No inventory taken, but hundreds of rounds found in the basement) (Basement)
      • Boxes of 7.57Ln Shot Shells (83) (Basement)
      • Boxes of 7.57Ln Slug Shells (77) (Basement)
      • Box of 7.57Ln Black Stilettos (10) (Basement)
      • Box of 7.57Ln Thunderfists (6) (Basement)
      • Box of 7.57Ln Atomic Wrath (5) (Basement)
    • Camping Supplies
      • Changes of Clothes
      • Floor lamps (4)
      • Propane Generator
      • Fuel: 5-gallon propane tanks (8)
      • Tents (4)
      • Misc. camping gear
    • Electronics
      • Eddie's laptop
      • Maribel's Tablet
      • 1950's Portable Radio
    • Research Items/Artifacts
      • Hieroglyphic book
      • Old computer
      • Volume 1 of Uncle Grubb's Journal
      • Various books and letters taken from the library and bedroom
    • Tools/Hardware
      • Ax
      • Box of Nails and Screws
      • Chainsaw (Rusted)
      • Claw hammers (2)
      • Collapsible ladder (12ft, can telescope to 24ft)
      • Drill
      • Hacksaw
      • Hatchet
      • Hedge Clippers
      • Hoe
      • Jumper Cables
      • Machete
      • Roll of Twine
      • Shovels (2)
      • Sledgehammer
      • Tacklebox with fish hooks and string.
      • Tire iron
      • Wood floorboards, 3ft long (5)
      • Wood planks (12)
      • Wrenches and pliers
    • Armor
      • Normal clothes (Jeans, button up shirt, shoes, etc)
    • Weapons
      • Leather scabbard for shotgun
      Golden revolver (loaded: 6/8 rounds) (On sofa next to you)​
    • Personal Effects
      • Wallet, Drivers Licence, Credit Cards
      • $300 Cash
    • Electronics
      • Smartphone
    • Keys
      • Ring of old fashion keys
    • Magic Items
    • Artifacts.
      • Strange Newspaper
      • $560 in Earth-1901 money
    • Utility/Tools
      • Flashlight
      • Bag of Herbs
      • Spoon
    • Armor
      • Normal Clothes (T-shirt, jeans, sneakers, snapback hat
      • Hiking Vest (Very Light Armor: Torso)
    • Weapons
      • .38 Special Revolver (Loaded: 6/6 rounds)
        • Ammo: Box of .38 Special ammo (50 bullets)
      • Elvish Carbine (Loaded: 5/9 rounds, standard)
        • Boxes, (~250 bullets, 36 'Black Stilettos')
        • Extra cylinders (2)
      • Aunt Esha's saber
      • Ammo:
        • 7.57Ln Shot Shells (4)
        • 7.57Ln Slug Shells (4)
        • 7.57Ln Thunderfists (3)
    • Personal Effects
      • Wallet, Credit Cards, Etc
      • Cash?
      • Keys
      • Glass Pipe
      • Lighter
      • Bag of Marijuana
      • Sunglasses
    • Electronics
      • Smartphone
      • Earbuds
    • Magic Items
      • Copied runic diagram ('Anti-Fog')
    • Artifacts
      • A few Teddy Roosevelt 'novelty dollars'
    • Utlity/Tools
      • Flashlight
      • Bag of Herbs
      • Spoon
      • Olive-green canvas bag, moldy (contains Carbine ammo).
    • Armor
      • Normal Clothes (T-shirt, jeans, shoes, etc)
    • Weapons
      • Ammo: Box of 93 bullets for the golden revolver
      • Holster for golden revolver
    • Personal Effects
      • Wallet
      • Cash?
      • Keys for SUV
      • Bag of marijuana (bad quality)
    • Electronics
      • Smartphone
      • Earbuds
    • Magic Items
      • Copied runic diagram ('Anti-Fog') (x2)
    • Utility/Tools
      • Flashlight
      • Bag of Herbs
      • Spoon
    • Armor
      • Normal Clothes (t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, etc)
    • Electronics
      • Smartphone
      • Earbuds
    • Magic Items
      • Heartstone
    • Copied runic diagram ('Anti-Fog')
    • Utility/Tools
      • Flashlight
      • Bag of Herbs
      • Spoon

    If you like this quest, please vote.

    The Deep Ones are in the den and the bedroom behind the stairs. They're loading their shotguns--probably with lethal ammo this time.
    [ ] Stand your ground.
    [ ] Grab your supplies and retreat to the basement. (Default)
    [ ] Write in.

    Your shotgun has two shot shells remaining. Helen has given you three Black Stiletto armor piercing shells. She also has three Thunderfists explosive shells. You yourself have 3 shot and 3 slug shells in the pockets of your shirt. Do you choose to reload, and if you do, which ammo do you use?
    [ ] Write in.

    Anything else you want to do concerning firearms?
    [ ] Write in.

    Maribel is distracting the Deep Ones with swirling dust devils. Should she do anything else?
    [ ] Write in.

    If you stand your ground, any additional tactical ideas?
    [ ] Write in.

    If you retreat to the basement, what should you do while in there?
    [ ] Write in.

    Anything else you want to add?
    [ ] Write in.

    You can safely ignore the results below. They're won't come into play until later, and by then they might be obsolete.

    The four of you sense an evil presence. Eddie and Maribel feel the Deep Ones are just outside.

    [ ] Try to board up the windows.
    [ ] Retreat to the basement, lock the door.
    [ ] Use furniture to make a barricade on the landing midway up the stairs, and retreat to the basement and lock the door as per Eddie's idea if too many hostiles enter the house for us to fight off.
    -[ ] Eddie says there's no time to board up the windows, and Helen makes the good point that if we hole up in the basement we don't know how long that'll take. There's no reason we can't first try Helen's suggestion, and go with Eddie's plan if things go south.
    -[X] Alternate bullet types until you find one that works. (Accepted)
    -[X] Get Maribel to whirlwind your packets or herbs and salt out onto the enemy. It might do something, and she shouldn't be shooting anyway. (Accepted)
    [ ] It's probably just our imagination. Let's get back to reading.
    [X] Immediately retreat to the basement if there are too many of them. Prioritize safety.

    Should Maribel try to contact the fairies?
    [ ] Yes
    -[ ] If we have time.
    [10] No
    [X] That's not the plan, but if combat happens and things start to look real, real bad, we're getting overwhelmed, the guns and magic-swirled spices aren't helping (or aren't helping enough), then it's worth a shot. (Accepted)
    [X] If we're holed up in the basement and combat isn't happening, it might be helpful to see if she can contact Elfstar -- not sure if he'll be reachable or friendly or knowledgable, but perhaps he's more likely to be friendly than the fairies. "SOS, stuck in Uncle Grubb's basement, fog around house, Deep Ones coming -- what should we do?" -- this is only a good idea if there's a gap in time. (Accepted)

    If you retreat into the basement, is there anything you would like to add?
    [X] Grab what supplies we can safely do so on our way, such as ammunition.
    [X] Gather water, food, and as much high tech equipment that is fragile as possible. Turn off the generator, etc. (Compromise. Will be discussed. Aside from flashlights, the generator lamps are the only light in the great hall. Turning it off would make things very dark)
    [X] Things to make sure we have, downstairs, in order of priority: anything we know is useful for fog-dispelling, any more ammunition; water; food.
    [X] We must grab any weapons which could be used against us (e.g. Halberd.)
    [X] Once down there, see if Eddie can turn off the fog (at least enough to turn away the Deep Ones).
    [X] Eddie could try scribing runes on the door? Things to force the fog/ fishmen away, if possible, or just reinforcing it.

    If combat occurs, is there any tactical ideas you have in mind?
    [X] Keep Maribel out of the fighting if possible. Flee to the basement if it looks like we can't fight them off.
    [X] Have Maribel use the heartstone and swirl the spices through the air into the Deep Ones. Try to intimidate them into fleeing before resorting to combat.
    [X] If combat occurs, Burt is in front with the shotgun and sword, with Helen and the carbine and saber behind him. Followed by Marbel using magic. Eddie should focus on figuring out the damn runes and drawing us some kind of protection ward, since that's likely what we need most to actually survive.
    [X] If it gets to violence, Maribel and Eddie should act as spotters, since the location is open from 3 sides, while Burt and Helen act as shooters. Eddie could join in in a pinch if things get hot, but normally he should be charged with reloading the guns so that the adults don't get distracted. Thankfully, we have spares.
    [X] If something/someone enters, try to intimidate them and get them to back off. Maybe Maribel can do some creepy magic stuff. Don't open fire until everyone is behind the barricade.
    [X] If there are more than two enemies, retreat to the basement immediately.
    [X] Don't attack them if they show signs of holding back at a certain distance -- i.e. not attacking us.
    [X] Aeromancy may have effects on the fog. Theheartstone should be on Eddie so he can do some stuff. Helen and we should have the axe and saber, at least.

    Below is the long term votes that have yet to be played. You can change your votes or elaborate, or you can just ignore this section.
    Four 5-gallon water jugs are left in the trailer.
    [ ] Everyone go out together and get then.
    [ ] Eddie and Maribel go out and get them while you and Helen watch from the front doors.
    [6] Leave the water in the trailer for now.
    -[X] We have four 5-gallon water jugs, that's about 80 litres. If we're careful about consumption that will last us for quite a while; making food, washing and staying hydrated can be done on a scale of ~2 litres a person a day in a temperate climate, so we've got almost three weeks' supply already if we're careful.
    [ ] Write in.

    Helen thinks Eddie should drive us out of the Fog.
    [ ] Yes, we should have Eddie drive us out of here.
    -[X] We might not still be on Earth with the Fog being what it is...should check.
    [12] No, it's too dangerous.
    -[X] We have found a lot of helpful things in the house so far. We should look for more before leaving.
    -[X] The way out feels less safe now than it did before we went out into the fog; Eddie driving us out using the hearthstone is a plan of desperation, not least due to the risk of us idly stepping out of the vehicle as it's moving or something...
    -[X] Given the effect it has on the two H's, we realistically cannot leave the house until we've done *something* about the Fog.
    [X] The runes let us see in the fog, rather than driving the fog back (look at how each of us can see a different distance, based on how attuned we are to magic). I think right now we should aim to leave about when we originally planned - after staying three days. (Conditionally Accepted, may be discussed later)

    Maribel wants to contact the fairies. (Instructions in The Biology of Woodland Fairies)
    [5] Yes
    -[X] But try to find out more about them first.
    -[X] Eddie should keep an eye on her, but should not interfere unless there is a dire need.
    -[X] Let her try and talk to the faeries, after discussing the plan with you and the others. Eddie should stay near her, so he can drag her back if she decides to do something stupid, like enter the woods. If you have found rope, tie a rope to her for extra safety.
    [ ] No, not now

    The brick wall in the alcove seems to have once been a doorway. What do you want to do?
    [5] Not urgent, but I want to smash this down and see what's behind it.
    -[X] I don't think this is likely to be dangerous like the metal doors, but it could be pretty time-consuming. Test a brick or two; if they seem supremely easy to move then let's go ahead and check behind there, otherwise let's do it later. (I agree there's a good chance it's Esha's grave...)
    -[X] After retrieving supplies from outside, see if you can knock down the bricks. A secret passageway, perhaps?
    [ ] Leave it be. We'll worry about it once we know more about magic.
    [ ] Write in.

    Any strategies concerning Eddie and Maribel's powers?
    [8] Maribel seems to be happy practicing with her powers on her own; Eddie's seem to be more draining. We should be making an ongoing effort to find texts for them to learn from, safe-seeming artifacts for them to practice with, etc. These powers are likely to be vital at some stage.
    -[X] Have them continue to use them for the sake of practice, to gain greater familiarity with their powers.
    -[X] Eddie should read the books from the basement. They seem like they would help him.
    --[2]Klostermanns Theoretisch Runelogie(Klostermann's Theoretical Runeology) (Accepted)
    -[X] Helen or Burt should read the books about elves, see what Maribel should be capable of and how to best develop her. There are some books on phenomenas among elves. (Helen will readPsychical Phenomena Among the Elves)
    -[X] Encourage them to experiment in areas without important books and where they won't do a lot of damage otherwise. Let them decide for themselves how to best go about it.

    -[5] Preserve the wood cut out from the floor and use it to try and close off the broken windows. Perhaps combined with some plastic sheets?

    [X] Try to use Aunt Esha's sword on the bricked over section in the basement. (You did, it might be easier to just use the sledgehammer.)
    -[X] And the safe.
    -[X] Proceed with caution - they may be closed for a reason, and we don't want to damage anything inside.
    -[X] Try to use the halberd if the sword does not work well on the bricks. (Compromise: It will be discussed. Using an explosive weapon in an enclosed space may be unwise.)

    What else should you do?
    [10] Stay together.
    -[2] At least until we've dealt with the Fog, we should probably go easy on splitting up.(Accepted)
    -[2] Use the instructions in The Biology of Woodland Fairies to contact the fairies. (Accepted, after Maribel reads up on them)
    --[1] Read it first. Are the fairies going to know anything about the runic diagram? Maaaaybe? If so, we want to ask them about it.
    -[ ] Read something from the attic.
    --[ ] The Elvish-Germanese dictionaries .
    --[ ] The Elvish children's books.
    ---[ ] Shubba und Wolff's Illustriertes Deutsche-Jahag Wörterbuch (Illustrated dictionary)
    ---[ ] Write in
    --[ ] Ein Elfen Odyssee: Kapitän Meero D'Mirsky die Reise in die Venda-Ka Abfall. ('An Elvish Odyssey')
    --[3] Die Magie der Welt-Springen. ('The Magic of World Jumping') (Accepted)
    ---[3] Klostermanns Theoretisch Runelogie(Klostermann's Theoretical Runeology) still takes priority, though.
    --[ ] Look in the attic for something else to read. Anything specific?
    -[5] Try to translate more of Uncle Grubb's journals (Note: Your skills with Latin will help).
    --[3] We should read Die Magie der Welt-Springen instead. (Accepted)
    --[X] We should definitely keep doing this, but it's not a priority right now. (Accepted, Eddie's reading takes priority)
    --[X] Use the old spreadsheet program to try to decipher some of the runic content. (Note: The glossary in Die Welt der Zwerge und Trolle may also help)
    -[ ] Go back to the 'Germanese' notes Uncle Grubb made in the hieroglyphic book. (Note: Your skills with Latin will help).
    --[ ] Use the old spreadsheet program to try to decipher some of the runic conent. (Note: The glossary in Die Welt der Zwerge und Trolle may also help)
    -[ ] Try to translate the letters found in the closet (You can only try to translate the 'Germanese' ones).
    -[ ] Read a book from the library.
    --[ ] The Encyclopedia Britannica.
    --
    [1] Have Helen read Psychical Phenomena Among the Elves .Helen barely even skimmed this. (for information on Maribel's powers) (Accepted, but reading the correspondence takes priority)
    --[ ] The World Almanacs.
    --[ ] The Lost Treasure of Min'Karanda
    --
    [ ] Psychical Phenomena Among the Elves .Helen barely even skimmed this.
    --[ ] Or something else? What are you looking for?
    -[ ] Read another book from the study.
    --[ ] Read The Biology of Woodland Fairiesand see if Eddie missed anything.
    --[ ] Read Visions of Y'ha-nthlei, see if Eddie missed anything.
    --[ ] Read On God's Ring: The Great Transmigration and the New Age of Colonialism yourself, see if you can catch anything Eddie missed.
    --[ ] Look over the science books and the map. (Note: You probably lack the necessary science skills to understand this)
    -[ ] Read the Elvish religious book (?) found in the attic tower (Note: You don't know Elvish. Even with the children's dictionary, this will take a long time to translate).
    -[1] Read a book in the basement.
    --[1] Klostermanns Theoretisch Runelogie(Klostermann's Theoretical Runeology) (Accepted, will help Eddie translate.)
    --[ ] Das Neue Platonismus (The New Platonism)
    --[ ] Eine Abhandlung über Panpsychismus (A Treatise on Panpsychism)
    --[ ] Void , Substanz und das Träumen Gott(Void, Substance and the Dreaming God)
    --[ ] Das Welt und das Abyss (The World and the Abyss)
    --[ ] Or something else? What are you looking for?
    -[ ] Read something in the rec room.
    --[ ] 'Zyklopädie der Neuen Welt' ('Cyclopedia of the New World')
    --[ ] Try to translate the Elvish encyclopedia.
    --[ ] Try to translate the Elvish diary.
    --[ ] Examine the hieroglyphic book with the strange blueprints.
    --[ ] Read Uncle Grubb and Elfstar's correspondence.
    ---[2] Have Helen read Uncle Grubb and Elfstar's correspondence. (Accepted)
    -[ ] Try to analyze the 'anomalous audio' from Maribel's EVP tape.
    --[ ] Anything to look for specifically? Any specific methods? Write in.
    -[ ] Experiment with the Ouija board and tape recorder. See if you can replicate what happened last night.
    --[ ] Write in.
    -[ ] Continue exploring
    --[ ] The roof deck. Try to find a way up there.
    --[ ] Explore somewhere else? Write in.
    -[ ] Try to connect the rec room's 16mm projector and play reels of film.
    -[ ] Play music from the rec room's Elvish photograph.
    -[1] Look for specialized literature on the following subjects: elves, Heartstone, Spinoza's Fog (or Spinozas Nebel), Welt-Springer (it's a dynasty, what are they known for?), D'yute (or the Autumn city), and any of related entries that can help us determine what we are currently dealing with. What books might be of interest to us? That should narrow down our immediate reading list that has grown completely out of proportions. (Accepted)
    -[1] Start rationing food and water. Don't use the shower. (Accepted)
    -[2] Get started on translating a Germanese text. An introductory, practical text on rune magic, if one is available. If not, then Klostermanns Theoretisch Runelogie. (Accepted)
    [X] When you pass by the bedroom behind the stairway, grab the rest of the Teddy Roosevelt dollars. You might end up in Earth 1901, in which case local currency would be helpful.
    -[ ] Write in.

    If you read a book or do some other solo activity, what should the others do?
    -[3] This is lower priority than the trailer, but -- we have a lot of books we need to absorb information from. I would like to distribute the task of book-reading and information-collection.
    --[3] In particular, Maribel seems to have an interest in the Elvish/German illustrated dictionary. Also, there seems to be a good chance that she has elf blood, and the concept of genetic memory may not be pure woo in this world. Maybe she'll have an easier time learning Elvish than us? Let's try to push this a little farther, see if, say, using the illustrated dictionary as a reference, she can make out the meaning of the Elvish children's books. Maybe this is the thing that the stone-experimentation is the carrot for. (Attempted, didn't work. May try again later?)
    ---[X] If this turns out to be a complete dead-end, Maribel can instead read The Biology of Woodland Fairies. (Accepted)
    ---[X] Have Maribel read something from the attic.
    ----[X] The Elvish children's books. (for teaching Maribel Elvish) (Accepted, bur reading about fairies takes priority)
    --[2] Have Eddie read a book from the basement.
    ---[2] Whatever Eddie thinks useful. (for information on Eddie's powers)
    ---[2] Meanwhile, have Eddie or Helen read Psychical Phenomena Among the Elves. It may help understand Maribel's magic. (Accepted, Helen will read)
    ---[2] Have Helen read Uncle Grubb and Elfstar's correspondence.
    ----[X] Don't force the issue. If they want to do something else that makes sense, let them.

    Priorities:
    [2] Fog first, fog first, fog first. I think if we can make progress with one problem, we'll all feel a lot better about our chances here.
    -[X] I guess some reading is a worthwhile approach there - trying to find a later part of Grubb's journals? Using the Encyclopedia? Or more exploration of the rune program?
    --[X] Additionally this might be sorta cheating, but asking our sibs for ideas might be a good idea. Keep them involved.
    [8] I think we need to focus on getting information, particularly learning Elvish.
    [1] If we're short of other ideas, trying to contact the Fairies might be worth a try, they do live here after all. Hell, they might even remember what Grubb used to do about the Fog...
    [6] Priority is to conserve our current modern resources. Figure out more about the fog and world jumping. Also, DO NOT SPLIT THE PARTY when dealing with the fog.
    [5] Survival utility (gas, food, tools, knowledge of terrain) should be most important right now.
    [2] If the basement turns out to be safe it may make more sense to bunker down there for the night, and trust the big heavy door.
    [1] Let's get back to exploring the areas of the house we haven't seen yet, especially given that the time dilation effect may potentially be triggered by or affecting things inside the house with us and that the fog doesn't appear to be an immediate threat to us while we're holed up inside.
    [1] Reading is important, but exploring everything (except what is behind that dangerous door in the basement) is more urgent. There could be very important things in those places.
     
    CptTagon likes this.
  2. Nolrai2

    Nolrai2 Can't count

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    God I want to vote, but I am no good at this.
     
  3. JMHthe3rd

    JMHthe3rd Not too sore, are you?

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    Well, actually the vote is already done. This QQ thread is basically an archive. The quest is active mainly on it's thread on SV.

    Chapter Fifteen should be up in a few days.
     
  4. JMHthe3rd

    JMHthe3rd Not too sore, are you?

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    Chapter Fifteen
    Saturday, August 8th, 2015
    (Your phone) 12:02 PM
    Pocketing the Black Stilettos, you keep your shotgun on the bedroom door. "We have to retreat."

    "Why?" Helen demands from the opposite sofa. "We have them pinned down! Maribel's sicced tornadoes on them. And did you hear them ribbiting? They're scared of us!"

    A shotgun barks twice from the den. The propane generator spits sparks, and the lamps snuff out. Only the pale blue sphere shining in Maribel's hands stays the great hall's darkness.

    "Oh, no! They killed the lights! Whatever will we do?" A stealth giggle slinks under Helen's words. She's low against the sofa's back, the gray lens of the night vision scope illuminating her eye. She shoots, wracks the lever, shoots again. A Deep One yelps. Two shotgun blasts splinter the paneling above your twin's head.

    You lunge and grab Helen, and you both roll off the cushions onto Maribel. Your baby sister cries out beneath you, her heartstone casting writhing shadows on the ceiling as Helen thrashes in your hold.

    "What the fuck?" Helen snarls.

    "Basement! Now!" you shout.

    She scowls, but nods.

    To discourage the Deep Ones in the bedroom, you lean from your sofa's edge and shoot through their door. Dust from Maribel's whirlwind escapes through the hole into the narrow hall. You drop the shotgun and golden revolver in the cardboard box and hoist it under your arm. You then lift the seven foot halberd, mindful of the blade. Helen pockets her .38 in her vest, slips Aunt Esha's saber through her belt and nudges a pensive Maribel towards the basement doorway.

    As you all walk in a crouch down the steps, you sling the two waiting gym bags over your shoulder. Helen shuts, locks and deadbolts the solid oak door. More gunfire erupts from the den, followed by a shot from the bedroom. It won't be long before the Deep Ones realize Fort Sofa is abandoned.

    Eddie is bent over the carved ziggurat of the Witchboard. On the tip of its silver shaft, the smoldering heartstone vies with the sickly yellow of the flashlight crooked in your brother's neck. He watches you through the curtain of his bangs. "What happened?"

    "They're shooting big boy rounds now," Helen says. "I had them busy, but Pookie thinks we'll be safer down here."

    "We are safer!" you snap. "Up there they had us on two sides. Down here they'll have to come down the stairs. It's a chokepoint."

    "All right, but we still need cover." She waves her flashlight over the Witchboard's intricately etched tiers; altogether, the layer cake tabletop is nearly two feet thick. "Help me flip this on its side."

    Eddie stands protectively between you and the table. "No! This is our key to turning off the Fog. It's not a bullet sponge!"

    Helen turns her beam to the waist-high bookcase, packed with ancient, irreplaceable tomes. Eddie groans.

    Over your heads, heavy feet creak in a tiptoe. Muffled utterances drift through the wood.

    "The shelves seem sturdy," you say. "We'll take out the books. And we'll use the workbench too. The Witchboard we'll move out of harm's way, over there." With the halberd, you point at the alcove at the end of the basement. "It should fit around the corner, and we can build our barricade out from that."

    You put down the gym bags, the box and the halberd in the alcove and help Eddie and Helen shift the Witchboard across the floor. Dried sap or tar coats its sides. The table's heavier than you would have guessed. Shaped roughly like a tree, its broad, bulky head rests on a trunk-thick pedestal, with feet jutting from the base as roots. Engraved runes jiggle under flashlights and heartstones. Carved doll-faces gaze up with pinched concern.

    Above, in the great hall, the Deep Ones also rearrange furniture. The dining chairs in the narrow hall clatter; the great hall's sofas and armchairs thud. Maribel stares silently at spots on the basement's ceiling. She can 'feel' their location through the air: you could shoot where she tells you. But even with her guidance you'd be firing more or less blind. You should conserve your ammunition. However . . .

    "Maribel, can you cut off their oxygen? Or compress the air around their heads, and then decompress? That might give them the bends."

    "That won't work," Eddie says. "Deep Ones are totally bullshit. They can swim from the bottom of the ocean to the surface--and I've never read anything about them needing time in a decompression chamber."

    "Maybe you can blow air into their ears, make their heads explode?" Helen says.

    "You think you can do that, Maribel?" you ask.

    Eyes closed, Maribel trembles. Her fingers clutch the heartstone which shimmers like a starving neon light. Her black hair snakes fretfully. Sweat and tears levitate off her cheeks to languidly orbit her head. She swallows. "I'm trying to hurt them! I am! I'm whirling the air around them, and I'm trying to squeeze them, but . . . I feel like I'm going to throw up."

    The rest of you exchange despairing looks. Helen hugs Maribel tight. "It's okay. Just do what you can."

    You want to encourage her too, but time is short. Helen tosses aside the armchair and nightstand (the old paperbacks spill, the lamp shatters), and you manhandle the Witchboard into the alcove space. It grinds against the brick walls, fitting like a round peg in a square hole. You and Helen then go to the bookcase where you dump the books and haul it to the alcove's corner. Eddie frantically collects the fallen volumes.

    The workbench gouges the floorboards as you and Helen shove it next to the bookcase. From the bottom drawers you remove the ammo boxes--the '7.57 ln' shotgun shells (shot, slugs, and the special shells) as well as the '.440 Zol' and the hundreds of 9mm Parabellums (odd that you haven't found any 9mm firearms). To bolster the new 'fort,' you place the armchair, nightstand and a footstool in front of the bookcase and workbench.

    You and Helen kneel behind the barricade. Eddie and Maribel duck beneath the Witchboard, which forms a sort of 'bunker' between the brick walls. Eddie quickly stashes the precious books and ammo against the alcove's far wall. From upstairs come clattering noises. The Deep Ones bleat to each other. One issues croaking commands.

    You open your shotgun, discard the two empty shells and pocket the unfired one. You then slide the three Black Stilettos into the chambers. Following your lead, Helen fishes a fistful of obsidian-tipped bullets from her canvas bag and thumbs the Stilettos one by one into a cylinder magazine. Eddie passes you Maribel's flashlight, and you line it with yours and Helen's on the top of the bookcase. The trio of beams battle the basement's dust, churning the gloom to a blurry haze.

    "Goosie and I will watch the stairs," you say. "Eddie, see what you can do with the Witchboard. And load the ice bullets into the golden gun. I'm hoping they'll do something dramatic, like freeze them solid. Maribel, divert their grenades--towards them if you can, but away from us. And blow the tear gas back into their faces. I know you're getting tired and you're under a lot of pressure, but we need you to do this, okay?"

    Maribel sits with knees to her chin . The heartstone's shine obscures her expression. "Okay."

    You nod, smile and do your best to ignore your guilt. You're asking a lot of her, but what else can you do? You wrack your brain for ways out of this, but all seem like dead ends.

    There's the barred metal doors, warded with dirt runes. Should you open them? No, both Eddie and Maribel had gotten bad vibes off whatever lies on the other side.

    How about the bricked-in doorway at the end of the alcove? You could bash it down with the halberd, but the concussive magic could be dangerous in such close quarters. And you doubt a 'Thunderfist' shell would breach the wall: the ammo's box art implies they're intended to explode inside soft targets, not demolish masonry.

    Perhaps Helen could release the lighter fluid in her Zippo, and Maribel could diffuse it into a fuel-air bomb? Is that feasible? You wish you had one of the propane tanks from upstairs.

    Footsteps congregate by the basement door. The Deep Ones mutter in guttural discussion. You level your shotgun over the workbench. Helen braces her carbine on the bookcase's top shelf. As if in offering, Eddie lays the golden revolver on the floor by her knee.

    A shotgun blasts out, and the door sneezes splinters and smoke. A second shot. A third. A fourth. The Swiss-cheesed door tumbles down the steps.

    You sight on the top of the stairway, holding fire for a center-of-mass shot. From under the Witchboard, Maribel's breathing is slow and labored. Dust clouds rise from the floor. Cobwebs strain loose from the basement's dark recesses. The wispy materials float in preparation, glistening in the flashlights.

    The Deep Ones whisper. A yellowish foot pokes through the doorway.

    Helen shoots. The foot remains. You squint through the poor light. The 'foot' is a bundle of straw bristles.

    "A broom!" Helen says

    "They're testing the waters," Eddie says.

    The broom recedes. The Deep Ones bicker.

    "Be ready, Maribel." You do your best to imbue confidence in your tone. Your position is secure. Maribel can deal with gas, and should the Deep Ones descend into the basement, you and Helen will turn the stairs into a shooting gallery. The Deep Ones' assault has slowed to a siege, and as soon as Eddie discovers how to dispel the Fog, that should drive them off.

    Another object inches out the doorway. It wags back and forth, glimmering as it reflects flashlights. It's a hand mirror, probably scrounged from the bathroom.

    "H'ilyaa ph-nilgh'ri nw'geb! Ba! Ba!"

    Three sets of feet patter over your heads. Panic grips you. You raise your shotgun. You don't know the alien tongue, but you can well imagine the translation: "The humans are right there! Under the floor!"

    "Shit," Helen says.

    Gunfire rips through the ceiling. Shot pelts the floor. A shotgun from the stairs shoots blindly across the basement, and pellets ricochet off the brick wall behind you. You and Helen scurry beneath the Witchboard, huddling with your younger siblings. You count five, six, seven blasts. The barrage continues.

    Maribel's dust and spiderwebs swirl up the stairs like a spectral serpent. Your ears pop, and a windy roar erupts in the great hall above you. A cacophony of collisions reverberate downward. Curled in the alcove's corner, Maribel convulses, her heartstone blazing like a star. Her eyes are rolled back, the whites glowing. Eddie is crammed beside her, his face drawn in a terrified rigor grin.

    The Deep Ones cry out in the maelstrom but are otherwise undaunted. Muzzle flashes wink through the riddled ceiling as boards and crossbeams gnaw away in chunks. Lead balls crater the floor. The Witchboard shielding you thumps with impacts. Something bites your shoulder.

    The Deep Ones' surely can't see you, but their suppression fire has you pinned down. You're trapped: if you leave the alcove, the one by the stairs will have you dead to rights, out of cover. Your only hope is to shoot back.

    Helen is already taking shots at the ceiling. You peek around the alcove's corner. The Deep One at the top of the steps is hidden, but you suspect he's inside the doorway, reloading. You aim at the junction of stairs and ceiling and fire. Wood shreds, bricks chip.

    The Deep One shrieks. A meaty arm flings an something from the doorway. The grenade arcs towards you. It isn't a gray cylinder like before. It's green and shaped like a pineapple. You open your mouth to--

    A shockwave claps you from behind, knocking you forward. The grenade reverses back towards the stairs. You and Helen hunch deep into the alcove.

    The floor shudders. A smoky gale sweeps over you. Tinnitus sings. A burnt, acridic stench invades your senses. In this cuddled nest, you picture the four of you as mice cowering under a stool. Above, the shotguns rage on.

    You meet Maribel's now-bleary eyes. Her head bobs listlessly. Her heartstone wanes. She's spent. But she crawls past Eddie to the alcove's rear where she clumsily shimmies through the triangular gap between the Witchboard's curved edge and the alcove's squared corner.

    "I . . . I need more power . . . " Her sneakers scrabble against the bricks as she squirms her torso up and over the Witchboard's topside. Her heartstone cascades a flickering aquamarine down the wall. The table wobbles against her weight.

    You and Helen wiggle closer to yank her back down, but just as you brushes her dangling leg, you pause. 'More power.' She's reaching for the other heartstone, the one fixed to the Witchboard's silver shaft. Two stones at once? That could double her strength. Or kill her. It could do anything.

    Your hesitation lasts only a second, but it's enough.

    A thundering toll resounds through the basement like the lightning pulse of God. Your bones rattle. Your teeth chatter. A supernova floods the world. You shut your eyes and try to scream, but can only flap your jaw in a sudden vacuum as your ears and eyes throb and your skin numbs. You flail in void. Your mind is spinning, receding, dying like an ember.

    The abyss embraces you.


    [​IMG]



    JMHthe3rd Presents
    Uncle Grubb's Mysterious Mansion II: The Springwell Legacy

    Prologue

    You awake to the brackish stink of fish. Crusties seal your lids, and you have to rub to open your eyes. You're still in the basement, still under the Witchboard. Daylight seeps from the ceiling's dozen or so wounds. From a few of the holes drips a substance too pinkish for blood. The house is silent.

    Helen lies on your left arm. Stirring, she raises her head. Her hat's gone, and long blonde hair drapes across your chest like tangled nets. You begin to sit up but stop at the sight of the wine-red stain soaking your right sleeve. Two pencil-thick holes, one in your deltoid, the other your pectoral, bleed lethargically. You test your arm; it aches dully.

    "Maribel . . . Maribel!" Eddie's throat cracks. He jerks on the hem of her jeans. She's still wedged between the Witchboard and the alcove's corner, her hanging legs not quite touching the floor.

    Your stomach knots as you and Helen clamor to bring her down. She's stuck, so you brace a foot against the Witchboard's pedestal and force the table from the brick wall until she falls free.

    The three of you gently lay her down, and you all sigh with relief when you discover she has a strong pulse. Unconscious, she sways her head, an unnatural breeze tousling her hair. Her right palm is an angry crimson splotched with blisters; her left still clenches the heartstone, its radiance now dim. One finger at a time, you pry the stone from her grasp, revealing burns equally severe. Her hands twitch, and she whimpers.

    Helen chokes out a sob. "This . . . this looks bad."

    You thumb open an eyelid and shine a flashlight. She doesn't wake, but the iris contracts in the inky pupil. No concussion, at least. Her legs move slightly, so there's probably no spinal injury. You hope.

    You unzip one of the gym bags and take out the first aid kit and a water bottle. "They look second degree. They're painful, but she should be all right if we keep them clean." Assuming nothing else is wrong with her, but you set those fears aside. "Ideally, they should be soaked for a few minutes, but for now I can rinse them off. There's some Polysporin in here. I can rub that on and loosely bandage--"

    "Um, Burt, you're bleeding," Eddie says.

    Helen's eyes widen at the oozing holes. "Christ, Pookie . . ."

    You frown at your arm. "Oh, right."

    You can't treat Maribel if you're dizzy from blood loss, so you unstrap your shotgun's leather scabbard and take off your shirt, wincing as the wet fabric peels from the holes. Crawling out from the Witchboard, you sit against the brick wall as Helen treats you. The water washes away the blood, and she then cleans the area with antiseptic wipes. You spend this time examining the damage to the basement.

    Aside from the holes in the ceiling, the scarred floor is covered with chips of wood and tile, and the bookcase and workbench appear rat-chewed. The grenade by the stairway has blown away a section of the floorboards, exposing dirt. The stairs themselves are a blasted ruin, slacking to the side as if held together by glue.

    Most disconcertingly, the Witchboard's surface is pocked with shot, scraping away a number of its etched runes. Its heartstone glows blue now instead of red.

    "Don't we need to dig the bullets out?" Eddie asks.

    You flex your shoulder, feeling for the pellets inside you. It hurts, but no more than a nasty bruise. "That could cause more damage. But maybe later. I don't think they're very deep."

    Helen uses a finger to smear on the antibiotics. "This might be a stupid question, but what about the fish?"

    "Don't you smell that? And . . ." Eddie gestures at the cherry-pink liquid dripping from above. "But anyway, I don't feel their 'vibe' anymore, so, I'm pretty sure they're either dead or gone. It looks like Maribel's 'dual-wielding' gambit saved us." His eyes worry over her burns. He clicks his lip rings.

    After Helen dresses your wounds with tape and gauze, you work on Maribel. You wash her palms as well as you can, apply the ointment and lightly bandage them--careful not to pop the blisters. You're just finishing when footsteps sound from upstairs.

    You and Helen fumble for your guns and aim upwards. The steps amble past the front porch through the broken front doors. Boots ground glass. Your eyes shift between the ceiling's holes, alert for movement in the great hall above.

    "Oh god! Wh . . . what the . . . ?" The voice is raw, weepy, but also familiar. "B . . . Babe? . . . Burt? . . . Maribel? . . . Eddie? Is anybody here?"

    You all recognize her at once.

    "Bobbi!" Helen shouts. "Bobbi! We're down here!"

    A shadow blocks a hole, and Roberta's round brown eyes peer down at you. They're bloodshot, frenzied. "Jesus! Are you all right, Babe? What's going on? What are these . . . things? Did they kidnap you? How do I . . . oh, hang on, I'm coming!"

    Roberta's feet cross the great hall to the basement doorway.

    "Bobbi, wait!" Helen says.

    The stairway folds like a house of cards, and Roberta belly-flops onto the wood planks. Helen hops the bookcase and sprints to her.

    Moaning, Roberta props herself up from the debris and shakes her head. "I'm fine! I'm--"

    But Helen all but tackles her in a hug, and together they rock in each others' arms, kissing, crying, running hands through each others' hair. You and Eddie watch uncomfortably, for the moment forgotten.

    Roberta looks like hell. Her pompadour is a messy black mass; her broad face is blotchy and sunken, the tawny skin uncharacteristically ashen. Going by her cracked lips and tearless sobbing, she's likely dehydrated. Her gray auto shop work shirt is stained with long-dried sweat. Dirt cakes her jeans, boots and the worn leather jacket tied around her waist.

    She breaks the kiss. "Sorry, Babe. I probably taste like caca. I haven't brushed my teeth in--"

    "Shut up!" Helen says. "I thought I'd never see you again! But we got to get out of here. This place is crazy!"

    Roberta hiccups a chortle. "So I gathered."

    "But what are you doing here?" Helen asks. "I mean, why did you come?"

    Roberta arches her eyebrows. "Why did I come? You were supposed to be back Sunday night. It's . . . Wednesday? Thursday? I don't know. I was in that fucking fog at least a day."

    You and Eddie share a glance. It's supposed to be Saturday. Well, at least the time dilation was only a few days.

    "Is the Fog gone?" Eddie asks.

    "Yeah. Cleared right up. Otherwise I'd still be . . . out there." Her cheek tics. She wraps Helen with an athletic, tattoo-cluttered arm.

    "When you guys weren't back Monday, I got worried. My calls went straight to voice, so I figured you were still in this dead zone. And it couldn't be car trouble keeping you here either, because it's only a few miles to Huckley--and you brought those dirt bikes. That made me think you might have run into trouble. Like Hills Have Eyes shit. I called Huckley's police, but they gave me this, 'wait twenty-four hours,' crap. So"--From the floor she retrieves a stainless steel semiautomatic you remember from her Facebook page--"I decided to see if you guys need a hand.

    "It took my a while to find this place. It was night when I pulled off on the dirt road. At first I thought the fog was smoke from a forest fire, but I didn't smell burning. When it got too thick to drive, I parked and hoofed it. I didn't think I'd get lost following a road, but I must zoned because then I was wandering in the middle of the woods. I tried to find my way back, but the fog kept turning me around, making me forget what I was doing. I . . . I thought I'd die out there. But that wasn't the worst of it. There was . . . these head trips. And I . . . I . . ."

    Roberta bolts up. With sharp, shallow breaths, she paces, her trademark swagger reduced to an anxious shuffle.

    "Bobbi . . . ?" Helen says.

    Roberta bunches her shoulders. Horror creeps behind her eyes. She's not small, but she's shorter than Helen and has a muscled thickness that leads people to think she's a teenage boy--though the breasts usually rectify that. Now, her smooth, scared features give her a much younger look. To you, she's always been a crass stereotype that your twin inexplicably loves. This is the first you've seen her vulnerable.

    "Flashbacks, right?" Eddie asks.

    Bobbi's eyes narrow. "Yeah. That fog has to be some kind of LSD gas. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say those fish-heads are behind it. What were they? Space aliens? Why do they have shotguns and gas masks?"

    "They are dead, aren't they?" you say.

    She motions at the steadily dripping blood. "Uh-huh. Tuna casserole." Pointedly, she notices your triple-barrel shotgun as well as the bandages on your shoulder (your shirtlessness leaves you absurdly self-conscious). She grows alarmed when she spots Maribel lying beneath the Witchboard in the alcove.

    "What happened?" she asks.

    You hand her two water bottles, a juice box and some crackers, and she consumes them greedily as you all summarize your adventures. You tell her about the books and the journal. You tell her about the heartstones and Eddie and Maribel's wizardry. You tell her about the artifacts, demonstrating with the Trollefulch saber's runic heat. You tell her about the Deep Ones and their assault on the mansion.

    Roberta squats beside Maribel. Baby dust devils patrol around your sister, and Roberta scoops one into her palm and balances it on a finger. She pets Maribel as though she's an injured puppy.

    "You saved the day, sweetie. You killed those Deep Fish good."

    Maribel sleepily murmurs, but doesn't open her eyes.

    "She needs a doctor," you say. "Hell, I need a doctor."

    Roberta sticks her gun down her pants. "After we get patched up, how about a trip to Vegas? You and Eddie have never been. Lots to see and do. And with Maribel along . . ."

    "I had the same idea!" Helen says.

    You motion at Roberta's waist. "Does that have a round chambered? Is it on safety?"

    Roberta tugs it out to check, and then with feigned sheepishness flicks the little switch on the firearm's side. "Oops."

    She and Helen snicker. You and Eddie glare.

    It's about an eight foot drop from the doorway to the basement floor, but with the armchair, workbench and bookcase, you all build a makeshift platform to replace the destroyed stairs. You pass Helen the shotgun, and she, Eddie and Roberta climb up first. It's unsteady, but you're able to carry Maribel up to the bookcase's top shelf, where Helen and Roberta take her from you. They then help you up the last feet.

    Weakened though she is, Roberta does most of the pulling. She liked to show off her arms back when you took kickboxing lessons together, and since then she's added new ink to her already-crowded left. Along with a 1950's pinup girl, '3D' Escheresque patterns, and a coiling snake, there's now the word, 'RENEGADE' running down her forearm, while on her bicep the image of Private Vasquez glowers with a pulse rifle. Roberta's right arm is relatively bare, giving a lopsided appearance.

    You work your injured shoulder and stand. The great hall is hurricane-struck. Sofas and chairs, tools and planks, they all lie in heaps. Jagged glass rims shattered windows. Above, the upstairs hallways' rotted floor has collapsed, caving in the ceiling and littering wood and plaster across the checkerboard floor, which is scarred by blackened shotgun holes. The ruined propane generator has been thrown into a wall and rests upside down. The propane tanks and water jugs are scattered haphazardly, and one of the jugs has leaked water that mingles with the pools of blood . . .

    The fishy odor is worse up here. It's easy to see why.

    The Deep Ones are indeed dead. Sprawled among the carnage, the four stout, blue bodies are pulverized. Their body armor is soaked crimson; their limbs are twisted, bones protruding from gore. The creature closest to the basement doorway has had his gas mask and helmet torn away, and gooey sockets gape where egg-size eyes once bulged. His saw-tooth maw droops to the side as if he's in a drugged stupor. A lone fly lands and explores along his gums.

    In your nightmare, these were monsters of primal malice, like piranha in the shape of men. In death, they retain their grostequeness, but are more pitiful than fierce.

    Eddie snaps a picture with his phone. "H.P. Lovecraft was supposed to have turned into a Deep One. I wonder if these guys used to be human too."

    Roberta picks one of their shotguns off the floor. It's a Winchester 1897, an early pump-action popular during WWI. "How do you turn into one? Is it like a zombie-bite?"

    "No, it's inherited," Eddie says. "One of them has to be a parent or grandparent. That's what was going on in Innsmouth. The Deep Ones were bumping uglies with the townsfolk."

    "And they were going to do that to us!" Helen draws Aunt Esha's saber, her teeth bared in a feral leer. "I want to go Predator on their asses. Your uncle knows taxidermy, right Bobbi?"

    Roberta laughs. "Hardcore!"

    "You can collect trophies later," you say. "Right now let's get some fresh air."

    You grab Maribel under her arms. Eddie takes her feet. She mumbles in her sleep.

    You all navigate debris and bodies. A couple of grenades have come loose from the Deep Ones' vests, and you warn everyone to watch out. The gray cylinders are smoke, and the green pineapples concussion or fragmentation. The black ball grenades are a mystery.

    On the curving staircase to the second story, the suit of runic armor has toppled on the steps like a fallen colossus. The windstorm has hit the study as well. Strewn papers and books mingle with the disheveled tents and sleeping bags. The mini-fridge is overturned, and the old computer and the 50's-era radio looks smashed beyond repair. Fortunately Eddie's laptop is safe in the basement. Maybe he can rescue the hard drive.

    You all step through the kicked-in doors to the front porch. The Fog is gone; the fairy-lights are gone. The day clear, the air clean with woodland scents. Your SUV and trailer are waiting at the base of the stone steps, right where Eddie parked them.

    The cloudless sky's indigo suggests early evening, which is strange because the sun is directly overhead . . . That's when you see it. The thin, ghostly, segmented line rises from far behind the trees and arcs up through the sun, where it continues on its path to the opposite horizon. It's a dotted line, bisecting the sky.

    "It's still there," Roberta says. "I saw it when the Fog went away. I just assumed it was some weird contrail. You'd think it'd dissipate by now."

    "That's no contrail," Eddie says, his tone curiously flat. "That's the Ringworld. We're on the Ringworld."

    [​IMG]
    ***
    Chapter End Time
    ???
    (Your Phone) August 8th, 2015, 12:40 PM​
    ***
    Inventory and Character Sheets have been updated. Next I'll update the Notes and References. Voting will remain open until the evening of August 18th, next Thursday. If you enjoy the quest, please vote!

    Roberta Zacarias has joined the party.

    Party Skill Increases
    Bert has gained skill in:
    • Guns (Shotgun)
    • 'Germanese' (Written) (Language Talent bonus)
    Helen has gained skill in:
    • Guns (Rifle)
    Eddie has gained skill in:
    • Runology
    • Mental Strength
    Maribel has gained skill in:
    • Magic (Aeromancy)
    • Mental Strength

    Party Injuries

    • Burt
      • Minor wound to chest (pellet)
      • Superficial wound to upper right arm (pellet)
    • Maribel
      • Moderate wound to right hand (2nd degree burn)
      • Moderate wound to left hand (2nd degree burn)
    • Roberta
      • Dehydration, minor starvation

    Updated Maps
    Mansion, First Story
    [​IMG]

    Mansion, Basement

    [​IMG]

    Mansion, Second Story

    [​IMG]

    Updated Character Sheets



    Dramatis Personae
    [​IMG]
    Herbert "Pookie" Springwell
    • Age: 19
    • Gender: Male
    • Height: 6'2
    • Weight: 170lbs
    • Hair: Blonde
    • Eyes: Blue
    • Bookish, lanky. Wears hornrim glasses.
    • Strength: Good
    • Dexterity: Above-Average
    • Intelligence: Near Genius
    • Perception: Good
    • Willpower: Good
    • Health: Good
    • Academic (Moderate bonus to academic and research-related skills).
    • Antiquarian (Moderate bonus to history, literature and other related skills)
    • Language Talent (Note: Burt isn't particularly aware of this)
    • Slightly Nearsighted (Wears glasses)
    • Bookworm
    • Worries a lot
    • Skeptical, levelheaded
    • A bit of a square
    • Special bond with twin sister.

    Languages

    • English (Native)
    • Latin (Fluent)
    • 'Germanese' (Accented, Written)
    Mental Skills
    • Computer Operation *****
    • First Aid ******
    • History (America, 19th and 20th Century) *****
    • Literature ******
    • Medicine *****
    • Research ********
    • Writing ******
    Physical Skills
    • Driving (Automobile) **
    • Guns (Shotgun) *
    • Muy Thuy Kickboxing *
    [​IMG]
    Helen "Goosie" Springwell
    (Hebert's twin sister)
    • Age: 19
    • Gender: Female
    • Height: 5'9
    • Weight: 130lbs
    • Hair: Blonde
    • Eyes: Light brown
    • Pretty, lanky, tomboy
    • Strength: Average
    • Dexterity: Very Good
    • Intelligence: Bright
    • Perception: Good
    • Willpower: Good
    • Health: Good
    • Artificer (Slight bonus to mechanical related skills).
    • Musical Ability (Slight bonus to music-related skills)
    • Natural Athlete (Moderate Bonus to athletic skills)
    • Pothead
    • College dropout
    • Lesbian
    • Tomboy, snarky, reckless
    • A little unstable
    • Special bond with twin brother.

    Languages

    • English (Native)
    Mental Skills
    • Artist (Drawing) **
    • Computer Operation ****
    • Mechanic (Automobiles) ****
    • Musical Instrument (Drums) ***
    Physical Skills
    • Bicycling ********
    • Driving (Automobile) *****
    • Driving (Motorcycle) ******
    • Guns (Rifle) ****
    • Muy Thuy Kickboxing *****
    • Skateboarding *******
    • Sports (Softball) *******
    [​IMG]
    Edward Springwell
    (Herbert's little brother)
    • Age: 16
    • Gender: Male
    • Height: 6'1
    • Weight: 140lbs
    • Hair: Dark blond (dyed black)
    • Eyes (Blue)
    • Lip rings. Skinny, gloomy teenager
    • Strength: Average
    • Dexterity: Above-Average
    • Intelligence: Genius
    • Perception: Very Good
    • Willpower: Good
    • Health: Good
    • Wizard (World-Jumper)
    • Computer Wizard (Slight bonus to computer related skills)
    • Occultist (Slight bonus to Occult related skills)
    • Poet (Moderate bonus to writing-related skills)
    • Straw Nihilist
    • Gloomy, sullen, snarky
    • Plays pen-n-paper RPGs
    • Drinks cough syrup
    • Kind of lazy
    Languages
    • English (Native)
    Mental Skills
    • Computer Operation ******
    • Hobbies (role-playing games, video games, science-fiction novels) ******
    • Mental Strength *
    • Runology **
    • Writing *********
    Physical Skills
    • Bicycling **
    [​IMG]
    Maribel Springwell
    (Hebert's little sister (adopted))
    • Age: 12
    • Gender: Female
    • Height: 4'8
    • Weight: 80lbs
    • Hair: Black
    • Eyes: Dark Brown
    • Little girl. Black. Usually keeps hair in ponytail.
    • Strength: Weak
    • Dexterity: Good
    • Intelligence: Near Genius
    • Perception: Good
    • Willpower: Very Good
    • Health: Good
    • Wizard (Aeromancer, possibly a minor World-Jumper)
    • Psientist (Heavy bonus for Psi related skills)
    • Curious
    • Gets into mischief
    • Interested in the paranormal
    • Likes video games, anime
    • Thinks Helen is cool
    Languages
    • English (Native)
    Mental Skills
    • Computer Operation *****
    • Hobbies (anime, video games, and the paranormal lore) *****
    • Magic (Aeromancy) *
    • Mental Strength ******
    Physical Skills
    • Bicycling *****
    • Driving (Motorcycle, dirtbike) ****
    • Skateboard ***
    • Sports (Soccer) ****
    • Tae Kwon Do ***
    [​IMG]
    Roberta "Bobbi" Zacarias

    (Helen's Girlfriend)

    • Age: 22
    • Gender: Female
    • Height: 5'7
    • Weight: 150lbs
    • Hair: Black
    • Eyes: Brown
    • Butch, 'bad boy' style, tattoos
    • Strength: Above-Average
    • Dexterity: Good
    • Intelligence: Clever
    • Perception: Above-Average
    • Willpower: Good
    • Health: Good
    • Artificer (Moderate bonus to mechanical related skills)
    • Driver's Reflexes (Slight bonus to driving related skills)
    • Musical Ability(Slight bonus to music-related skills)
    • Pothead
    • Addiction: Nicotine
    • Reckless
    • Butch lesbian
    • Owns a restored 1970 Ford Galaxie 500.
    • Maribel thinks she's cool.
    • You and Eddie don't
    Languages
    • English (Native)
    • Spanish (Accented, Spoken), (Fluent, Written)
    Mental Skills
    • Computer Operation ***
    • Hobbies (Prog Rock, Southern Rock, 80's music) ****
    • Hobbies (Classic Automobiles) *****
    • Mechanic (Classic and Modern Automobiles) *******
    • Mechanic (Classic Motorcycles) ******
    • Musical Instrument (Guitar) ****
    • Streetwise **
    Physical Skills
    • Bicycling *****
    • Muy Thuy Kickboxing *****
    • Driving (Automobile, Motorcycle) ******
    • Skateboard ****

    Updated Inventory
    Inventory
    • Dodge SUV with trailer, half tank of gas (Parked in front of the house)
    • Water: 5-gallon water jugs (4)
    • Fuel
      • Gas can
    • Vehicles
      • Dirt bikes (2)
      • Kayaks (2)
      • Skateboards (2)
    • Water
      • 5-gallon water jugs (3.5) (One has partially leaked)
      • Bottled water (13) (Alcove)
    • Food
      • Food for three or four days (1/2th of a day used)
        • Boxes of snacks, sandwiches.
      • Mini-fridge (damaged or destroyed)
      • Styrofoam cooler
    • Medicine
      • First aid kit (Alcove)
      • Misc. Medicine (Alcove)
    • Weapons
      • Halberd (Alcove)
      • Leather scabbard for shotgun (Alcove)
    • Ammo
      • Box of ammunition for the Golden Revolver (100 bullets, blunt tip) (2 boxes) (Cardboard box, Alcove)
      • Box of ammunition for the Golden Revolver (14 bullets, 'Stilettos'?) (Cardboard box, Alcove)
      • Box of ammunition for the Golden Revolver (2 bullets, 'Ice bullets'?) (Cardboard box, Alcove)
      • Box of .38 Special (50) (Bedroom behind stairs)
      • Boxes 9mm Parabellum (No inventory taken, but hundreds of rounds found in the basement) (Basement, Alcove)
      • Boxes of 7.57Ln Shot Shells (83) (Basement, Alcove)
      • Boxes of 7.57Ln Slug Shells (77) (Basement, Alcove)
      • Box of 7.57Ln Black Stilettos (10) (Basement, Alcove)
      • Box of 7.57Ln Thunderfists (6) (Basement, Alcove)
      • Box of 7.57Ln Atomic Wrath (5) (Basement, Alcove)
      • Ammo: 7.57Ln Shot shells (4, shirt pocket--basement)
      • Ammo: 7.57Ln Slug shells (3, shirt pocket--basement)
    • Camping Supplies
      • Changes of Clothes
      • Floor lamps (4)
      • Propane Generator (destroyed by shotgun blast)
      • Fuel: 5-gallon propane tanks (8)
      • Tents (4)
      • Misc. camping gear
    • Electronics
      • Eddie's laptop (Alcove)
      • Maribel's Tablet (Alcove)
      • 1950's Portable Radio (Destroyed?)
    • Research Items/Artifacts
      • Hieroglyphic book
      • Old computer (Destroyed?)
      • Volume 1 of Uncle Grubb's Journal
      • Various books and letters taken from the library and bedroom
    • Tools/Hardware
      • Ax
      • Box of Nails and Screws
      • Chainsaw (Rusted)
      • Claw hammers (2)
      • Collapsible ladder (12ft, can telescope to 24ft)
      • Drill
      • Hacksaw
      • Hatchet
      • Hedge Clippers
      • Hoe
      • Jumper Cables
      • Machete
      • Roll of Twine
      • Shovels (2)
      • Sledgehammer
      • Tacklebox with fish hooks and string.
      • Tire iron
      • Wood floorboards, 3ft long (5)
      • Wood planks (12)
      • Wrenches and pliers
    • Armor
      • Normal clothes (Jeans, button up shirt, shoes, etc)
        • Button up shirt bloodstained, off. In basement.
    • Weapons
      • Personal Effects
        • Wallet, Drivers Licence, Credit Cards
        • $300 Cash
      • Electronics
        • Smartphone
      • Keys
        • Ring of old fashion keys
      • Magic Items
      • Artifacts.
        • Strange Newspaper
        • $560 in Earth-1901 money
      • Utility/Tools
        • Flashlight
        • Spoon
    • Armor
      • Normal Clothes (T-shirt, jeans, sneakers, snapback hat
      • Hiking Vest (Very Light Armor: Torso)
    • Weapons
    • Personal Effects
      • Wallet, Credit Cards, Etc
      • Cash?
      • Keys
      • Glass Pipe
      • Lighter
      • Bag of Marijuana
      • Sunglasses
    • Electronics
      • Smartphone
      • Earbuds
    • Magic Items
      • Copied runic diagram ('Anti-Fog')
    • Artifacts
      • A few Teddy Roosevelt 'novelty dollars'
    • Utlity/Tools
      • Flashlights
      • Spoon
      • Olive-green canvas bag, moldy (contains Carbine ammo).
    • Armor
      • Normal Clothes (T-shirt, jeans, shoes, etc)
    • Weapons
      • Golden revolver (loaded: 8/8 Ice Bullet rounds)
      • Ammo: Box of 93 bullets for the golden revolver
      • Holster for golden revolver
    • Personal Effects
      • Wallet
      • Cash?
      • Keys for SUV
      • Bag of marijuana (bad quality)
    • Electronics
      • Smartphone
      • Earbuds
    • Magic Items
      • Copied runic diagram ('Anti-Fog') (x2)
    • Utility/Tools
      • Flashlight
      • Spoon
    • Armor
      • Normal Clothes (t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, etc)
    • Electronics
      • Smartphone
      • Earbuds
    • Magic Items
      • Heartstone
    • Copied runic diagram ('Anti-Fog')
    • Utility/Tools
      • Flashlight
      • Spoon
    • Armor
      • Normal Clothes (Workshirt, Jeans)
      • Leather Jacket (Very light armor for torso)
      • Boots (Very light armor for feet)
    • Weapons
    • Electronics
      • Smartphone (dead?)

    Author's Note
    This was a close one. In my combat trial runs, 'Stand your ground' usually ended with the Deep Ones taking some losses (either disabled or killed) and falling back, if not routing. On the other hand, Helen tends to get injured in that scenario, (the wounds ranging from superficial to severe).

    However, 'Retreat to the Basement' usually ends . . . badly. Not necessarily a party wipe, but I more or less was expecting disaster.

    But the vote to move the Witchboard to the alcove saved the day--for three reasons. I won't get into the specifics, but you can probably figure out a couple of them. In any case, this ended well. The party won, everyone's alive, and Burt and Maribel's wounds are fairly minor.

    Out of the three remaining Post-Fog scenarios I mentioned in this post, we've wound up in one, and strangely enough it's the one of the three I that was the least likely. The prerequisite was either Eddie or Maribel 'dual-wielding' the heartstones, and I assumed that was a long shot.

    I'll reveal 'the roads not taken' after your learn more about your current situation. In the Post-Fog scenario I thought we'd end up with, there waould have been no Roberta.

    Roberta was originally going to be part of the party from the start, but I thought she didn't gel with the character dynamics. Also she was maybe too much of a Scrappy, which she is in an in-verse way, since neither Burt or Eddie care for her much--with perhaps good reason. As a potential character, she was always 'in play.' The siblings would have run into her earlier if they'd attempted to drive out of the Fog. Any thoughts on her? I really hope to avoid making her a Poochie.

    Also, any thoughts on how I handled combat? This is my first CYOA, so I'm very open to advice. I think perhaps it was too brutal, but I wanted to avoid 'level scaling.' It's also worth noting that while the Deep Ones had scary strength, they had middling dexterity, weren't particularly skilled in guns or well disciplined (They were literally fish out of water, and weren't comfortable playing SWAT). Also, Maribel was a wild card--a total 'Oh shit!' for them. I was hoping that was enough advantages, but I feel like we made it only by the skin of our teeth.

    Anyway, I expect we're going to stay with Burt, but since this is Part II, I figure I'll offer the option. Do you want to keep Burt as the Player Character, or do you want to switch to one of the other siblings (or maybe even Roberta?)? Bare in mind each one has their own pros and cons as well as their own writing style 'voice.'

    Since this is a new arc of the story, the initial votes will be fairly free form. I'm also wiping the slate for the previous votes, since most of those were predicated on being stuck in the Fog.

    If you want, write out what you want to do, and I'll translate it into votes.


    Do you want to keep playing as Burt or be someone else?

    [ ] Keep playing as Burt
    [ ] Play as Helen
    [ ] Play as Eddie
    [ ] Play as Maribel
    [ ] Play as Roberta

    The Fog is gone, but Eddie thinks you're on the Ringworld. What do you do?
    [ ] Stay around the house for now.
    [ ] Load up the SUV and explore.
    [ ] Write in.

    Four Dead Deep Ones are cluttering up the great hall. There's four shotguns and other loot too. What do you do?
    [ ] Write in.

    What do you do about yours and Maribel's wounds and Roberta's dehydration?

    [ ] Write in.

    Is there anything you want to explore?
    [ ] Write in.

    Is there anything you want to read? (Check the Notes and References for option on what to read)
    [ ] Write in.

    What should take priority?
    [ ] Write in.

    Anything you want to do concerning inventory?

    [ ] Write in.

    Anything else you want to add?
    [ ] Write in.

    Remember, if you enjoy the quest, please vote!
     
    CptTagon likes this.
  5. JMHthe3rd

    JMHthe3rd Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2015
    Messages:
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    Likes Received:
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    Part II: Chapter One
    ???
    (Your Phone) August 8, 2015, 12:40 PM
    Roberta jabs a finger at the pale arc. "No. Uh-uh. That has got to be a contrail. Or a skinny rainbow. We're at your uncle's house, your SUV's right there, and that dirt road leads to Texas 148. We're on Earth. Not Halo."

    "Why not both?" Eddie says.

    None of you answer. You've had time to adjust to the weirdness, so you know the dotted-line is not a mirage but a million mile-wide ribbon circling the sun. The cosmic scale dazzles you; you sway with vertigo. Only your big-brother instinct prevents you from dropping Maribel on the front porch.

    Eddie puts down her feet. "Let's check the radio." There's a fatalistic flatness to his tone. He descends the steps towards the SUV, but his gaze never leaves the sky.

    You lower Maribel gently and follow him. Trailing behind you, Roberta glares above like a surly Chicken Little; Helen clings to her, your shotgun in her grip. Your twin's eyes are tight, her lips pressed thin, but she's wary rather than panicking. You're glad Roberta's here.

    Eddie sits in the driver's seat as the radio cycles through the AM spectrum. Hissing static clears to music.

    It's singing and a strumming guitar. You don't recognize the western tune or the female vocalist, but the crackly quality is reminiscent of the 1930's or 40's. The lyrics involve 'Moon dust' and an old elf gypsy granting wishes. Finally, the song fades.

    "Howdy! Welcome back!" The announcer's chipper Texan carries tinnily through the speakers. "That was Veda Autry with, 'Remember the Moon.' Ain't she pretty as a peach? She's playing Sunday down in Austin for the Zilker Thanksgiving Parade. Say a prayer for her to get there safe, cause lately there's been trouble brewing.

    There's a puspox outbreak near Stamford. Three dead, five on their way. National Guard has the area locked tight, though most of the town already has their shots. Governor Hamer's calling for more vaccinations for rural communities, but doctors--both ours and the Swans'--are stretched thin.

    "If you're traveling south of Wichita Falls, watch out for the Hayburners. They swept into Archer City last night, ransacking homes and businesses. Sixteen townsfolk were killed in the raid, including the sheriff and deputy. The motorgang is said to be fifty strong, and their leader, Charlie 'Boss' Parker, drives an armored Buick with a thirty-cal machine gun. He's recruited a half-breed pyromancer, and one eyewitness says the witch was 'flinging fireballs like it was the Fourth of July.' Colonel Winstead of the Texas Rangers vows to wipe out the outlaws and is gathering up a posse for the hunt.

    "Out by Sulphur Springs, a FBI Monster Squad got in a shootout with a werewolf pack. Six beasts perished in a hail of silver; no Federal Agents were harmed. The werewolves have been pressing out from the Dallas Anthrax Zone, and aside from their usual savagery, they've taken to kidnapping children. At least police think they're kidnappings, as no bodies have been found. The Confederate Navy's dispatched gunboats to scout the ruins for their dens. Lord knows I'm no elf lover, but I hope those little fellas bomb them wolves to kingdom come.

    "Sorry for putting a damper on you, but times are tough. But here's a diddy from Jimmie Rodgers that'll lighten the mood . . ."


    The banjo intro isn't bad, in an 'old country' way, but when the yodeling starts, Eddie switches it off.

    "Jesus," Roberta says.

    Helen titters with exasperation. "Pus-pox? Anthrax? Werewolves?'"

    "At least we're still in Texas," Eddie says.

    "What was that about Confederates?" Roberta asks. "Did the South win here?"

    "No," you say. "Uncle Grubb mentioned a 'Confederation' in his journal. I think they were one of the Jaganma Reich's--or the 'Aesiran Republic's'--neighbors." From your back pocket you pull out the newspaper. The headline reads: BRITAIN AT WAR: Elf Airships Attack at New Bristol and Avon.

    "I think we're in that world too," Eddie says. "And I'm guessing we didn't win the war. Not if elf gunboats are patrolling our anthrax'd cities."

    Roberta squints at the Ring. "Eddie, you said you're a 'world jumper.' You wouldn't happen to be able to 'jump' us back, would you?"

    He clicks his lip rings. "Um, not yet? The Witchboard is shot up. My phone has pictures of the way the runes were before, but would re-carving them into the table work? And its heartstone's changed from red to blue. I have no idea what that means."

    "In other words, you have to fix your Tardis," Roberta says.

    Eddie slumps forward, resting his forehead on the steering wheel. "It might take a while--if it can be done."

    Helen squeezes his skinny bicep. "Hey, you're a genius. A wizard genius. You got this!"

    Roberta wags her head thoughtfully. "Eh, I'm just glad I'm out of that Fog. But we only have food for a couple days, so if it takes longer than that, we're going to have to go out there." She points with her shotgun at the dirt path winding through the woods. "Might be fun, though. Adventures in space and time and shit."

    "What about the pus-pox? And the anthrax?" Helen asks.

    "We have gas masks," Roberta says.

    "Uhg."

    "We'll wash them out first!"

    "That would only help if the filters are fine enough to catch the spores," you say. "Anyway, anthrax can infect cutaneously--through the skin. I've never heard of 'pus-pox.' But we can worry about that later. Let's go back inside."

    This time, Helen and Roberta pick up Maribel. Your baby sister stirs.

    "Hands . . ."

    You ruffle her hair. "They'll be all right. Just don't take off the bandages. I'll get you some Tylenol."

    But she's already back asleep.

    They move her to study and tuck her into her sleeping bag. Roberta eats a sandwich from the overturned mini-fridge and drinks another bottle of water.

    In the wrecked great hall, Eddie surveys the four mutilated Deep Ones. "I've played enough RPGs to know we should loot these bodies."

    Not wanting to aggravate your injuries, you stand aside as Helen, Eddie and Roberta search the heavy corpses.

    The 'doughboy' helmets have unworn cloth and leather liners, and the olive green paint is unmarred. The gas masks, while indeed stinky, are likewise brand new. The Winchester pump shotguns show slight weathering on the stock and fore-end, but are well-oiled and in excellent condition.

    "Wherever they stashed their stuff, it wasn't on the bottom of the sea," Helen says.

    "Innsmouth?" Eddie says.

    Their body armor has pouches for 12 gauge shells. The brass-case ammo includes shot, slugs and rubber. Roberta thumbs a few shot shells into her shotgun and slings the firearm across her back.

    Eddie raises a slug more lustrous than the others. Window light glints in its mirrored surface.

    "Is that . . . ?" you ask.

    "I'm not getting a runic vibe," Eddie says. "I'm pretty sure it's only silver."

    "Deep Ones versus Werewolves," Helen says. "Nice name for a movie."

    Roberta examines one appraisingly. "We ought to keep these on hand when we leave. And maybe we can rig-up some wooden stake shells too. You never know."

    You all gingerly unhook the grenades from their armor and stack them in a knapsack as though they're delicate china. The grays are tear gas, the greens explosive. Eddie speculates that the blacks are smoke, but you'll have to test one to be certain. For now, you place the bag in the kitchen--and make a note to keep Maribel well away from it.

    In addition to the shotguns and grenades, the Deep Ones were also armed with knives, revolvers, 'cattle prods' and throw nets.

    By their peculiar squid-shape, the knives are clearly Deep Ones in origin. The squid bodies are the hilts, with sapphire eyes at the guards; tentacles trail the length of the ten inch blades. Their maroon alloy is lightweight and holds a keen edge--though one far inferior to the supernatural sharpness of Aunt Esha's saber. Roberta shoves one of the sheathed weapons through her belt.

    [​IMG]

    The revolvers are an odd pepperbox design with a protracted cylinder and practically no barrel. They're loaded with long, narrow cartridges tipped with what are probably tranquilizers. On a whim, Helen aims, shoots. The gun spits air; a red-feathered dart sprouts from a wall.

    [​IMG]

    The 'cattle-prods' are sturdy wooden batons about two feet long. A pair of prongs protrude from the end of each. You press the button in a baton's handle, and its prongs spark with electricity. Eddie stabs a Deep One's ruined face, and the body twitches as much as its crippled limbs allow.

    [​IMG]

    The folded nets are made of silk and woven with scores of fishhooks. Spreading a net until it's as wide as a bedsheet, you shudder as you imagine the Deep Ones ensnaring you in this vicious web and then tazing you into submission.

    "I wouldn't have let them take us." There's no bravado in Helen's voice: it's timid, distant. She draws her .38. "I was going to use this . . ."

    You're about to lay a hand on her shoulder, but Roberta hugs her from behind, nuzzling her neck. Helen relaxes in the embrace. You turn away.

    The body armors are tunics covered in linked steel squares protecting the front, back and sides of the torso, as well as the abdomen. The design is similar to the early bulletproof vests of WWI, though these are customized for the Deep Ones' rotund builds. One set bears two pockmarks where Helen's shots failed to penetrate.

    Using Aunt Esha's saber and a squid-knife, Helen and Roberta cut and peel off the gore-soaked armors. Naked except for their webbed kilts, the Deep Ones look like ruptured frogs. Against their scaly chests, they wear metal pendants of a six-eyed octopus.

    "Cthulhu?" Eddie says. "Or maybe Dagon."

    [​IMG]

    The Deep Ones have small packs strapped to their back waists. Each is filled with extra shells, a bundle of cord, a first aid kit, and several foil-wrapped bars of a briny, offal-reeking meat-substance.

    "At least we won't starve for a while," you deadpan.

    Roberta sniffs a Deep One 'MRE'. "Bleh. I rather eat the fish men. They're fresher."

    "Yeah . . . no," Eddie says.

    "They're not going to stay 'fresh' for long," you say. "We need to move these bodies away from here."

    "How far?" Roberta toes an alabaster belly with her work boot. "They must weigh four hundred pounds."

    "Far enough that we won't have to smell them," you say, "or deal with any vermin they attract."

    "We might want to wait until morning." Helen motions through a broken window at the dusky sky. "Fuck dragging fat-ass corpses through scary-ass woods."

    "Not that we'd be better off in the house," Eddie says. "With the generator out, we're down to flashlights. It'll be a spooky, smelly night."

    "What wrong with the generator?" Roberta asks.

    "Fish killed it," Helen says.

    Roberta squats by the upside-down machine and fingers the pellet-holes in the casing. "Anyone have a Phillips head?"

    After a minute of rooting through the great hall's debris, you uncover a screwdriver in a pool of congealing blood.

    Roberta doesn't bother wiping it off. She unscrews a panel. "No promises. If a vital part's broke, we're S.O.L."

    Meanwhile, you, Helen and Eddie return to the basement to retrieve the supplies left there. You amble down the wobbly, makeshift 'furniture stairs.' While your siblings collect the cardboard box and gym bags, you grab the leather scabbard for your shotgun and fish the 7.57Ln shells from your bloodstained shirt. Helen shakes the dust from her blue cap and slips it on.

    Eddie glances at the alcove. "We still haven't looked behind that wall. Just saying."

    A knock comes from the ceiling. Roberta peeks through one of the holes. "Is there any electrical tape down there? Needle-nose pliers would be good too."

    You discover both in the workbench, though you doubt even she can bring back the power. She may be an adept 'grease monkey,' but the engines she repairs usually haven't been riddled with lead.

    Back in the great hall, you hand the tape and tool to Roberta. Careful not to wake Maribel, you retreat to the study and don another blue button-up from your luggage. After stuffing the front pockets with shells, you fasten on the holster and slide the triple-barreled shotgun down your back. You hope you don't have to fire it until your wounds are healed.

    "Like the cosplay," Roberta says. "All you need now is a chainsaw hand."

    You tap the Trollefulch at your side. "Magic sword beats chainsaw."

    Helen assists Roberta with the generator while you head upstairs. While the windows here are also blown out, there's relatively little damage. Perusing the library, you decide on the 1924 World Almanac and the Encyclopedia Britannica volumes containing entries on 'elves' and the 'Aesiran Republic.' In Uncle Grubb's bedroom you gather up the rest of his journals--twelve leather booklets. He lived another life in his world. Perhaps there's someone he knows who you can contact.

    Hauling the books back to the stairway, you pause at the chasm where the hallway's rotted floor has collapsed. Twenty feet down, by the study doorway, Roberta and Helen hunch over the generator. Soft whispers drift upwards.

    " . . . this isn't a joke! When you came and said the Fog was gone, I was like, 'Yay! Everything's okay!' But then I saw that 'Ringworld,' and there's the radio . . . . Bobbi, what if we're trapped here forever?"

    "We roll with it, Babe. Life throws you curve balls, you make lemonade."

    "With curve balls?"

    "I'm not the sharpest cookie in the jar."

    Snickering, Helen punches Roberta's arm. "Oh, shut up! But seriously, I nearly lost it last night. Pookie had to talk me down. I don't want to disappoint them again. I don't want to be the 'crazy sister' always freaking out when they need me."

    "You didn't freak out when these fish-heads busted in. You went hardcore. And I'm sorry I wasn't here for that. My 'rescue' was kind of crappy."

    "Whatever! You went through a magical fog for me! That's like out of a fairy tale." Helen kisses her. "You're my hero, Bobbi. I love you."

    To avoid creaks, you tiptoe from the brink and only walk normally when you reach the stairs. You step over the fallen runic platemail.

    "Where's Eddie?" you ask.

    Helen gestures at the front doorway. "'Stargazing.'"

    Roberta eyes your armful of books. "Light reading?"

    "A bit, but I have room for one more." From the cardboard box you take the leather address book. "Maybe I can make sense of these numbers."

    Outside, the sky is rich violet, the overhead sun half-eclipsed by some shade megastructure orbiting high above. Stars twinkle in the twilight, and you scan in vain for familiar constellations. A nearby cricket chirps. A cool evening breeze dispels the lingering fishy stench.

    You find Eddie in the SUV, listening to the radio. An announcer with an antiquated Transatlantic accent excitedly advertises the new 'Tesla-Savage D3-800 Television Sets.' Boasting luxurious ten inch screens and electronics enhanced with the latest 'ethereal receiver runes', these marvels of the broadcast age were invented by 'Nicky Jr. and the Doc himself' and are manufactured by the good elves of the Diagnus Corporation. Sets are sold in Sears-Roebuck Catalogs and Department Stores. Special Thanksgiving Weekend Sale: $399.99. Buy yours today!

    Eddie turns it off. "I was hoping for a Nuka-Cola ad."

    "Learn anything?" you ask.

    "The DJ mentioned he's in Wichita Falls, which should be a half-hour northwest of here." He fumbles with a foldout map from the glove compartment. "Huckley and Henrietta are closer. Of course this assumes we're in the same geo-location, but it's a reasonable bet. We probably 'switched' with this Earth's area.

    "But the bigger question is, 'Where are we?' In another galaxy? A billion years in the future? And who built all this?" His blue eyes are bright with wonder. He thumps the copy of On God's Ring in his lap. "'Three millions Earths.' That's the surface area. And they say the population could be in the quadrillions! Can you imagine that, Burt?

    "I used to feel dead inside. I used to lie in the dark, drink my 'tussin and wish I would drift off and never come back. But now I have a purpose. I want to explore this Ring. I want to unearth its mysteries. I want to master my powers and gaze into the abyss. Whatever happens, I'm glad I'm here. I'm glad we're all here, as a family . . . . though it's too bad Bobbi had to tag along."

    You're not sure what to make of a lot of what Eddie said. You reply to the last part. "No, it's good she's here. For Goosie's sake."

    He dips his head. "You're right. And she's okay, but . . ."

    "Yeah," you agree. But maybe you've been too harsh on her. She did try to rescue you, and she might be a valuable ally in this strange new world.

    You and Eddie read on the stone steps. Since it seems the most relevant to your situation, you open the newspaper first. It's dated 'July 13, 1932,' and judging by the radio station , the present year can't be more than a decade or so after that.

    The surprise bombing of Avon and New Bristol decimated the Royal Navy's Far Antarctic Fleet, sinking the carriers Argus, Courageous and Glorious, and the battleship Marlborough. Nearly three thousand died in the attack, a quarter being civilians. The elves' assault was particularly brutal due to their 'telepathic onslaught,' which disoriented fighter pilots and bridge crews.

    Honoring the 1920 European Powers Alliance, France, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungry, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Sweden-Norway have followed Great Britain in declaring war on the Aesiran Republic. President Rockefeller has opted to keep the United States neutral, though he promises to aide the EPA with supplies, including cavorite ore from the New Oregon mines. Special shipyards are already constructing more Daedalus class aerial destroyers, but the current scarcity of the gravity-defying element is problematic. At the conclusion of the report, there's speculation over how this might influence the ongoing Sino-Japanese War and the Far Pacific Company's conflicts in Zurain, but goes into no detail.

    To clarify the many false rumors and misunderstandings, there's an article (called 'Who are the Aesirans?' by John M. Keynes) which summarizes what is known of these mysterious elves--mostly gleamed from neighboring tribes and kingdoms. The Aesirans reside in a land called 'Jaga-ma' in the 'Jah-hana super-continent' located approximately seventy-five thousand miles 'south' of Antarctica. A group of 'Other Earth' Germans once lived among them, displaced over a century ago by an unknown teleportation process. These humans eventually came to rule over Jaga-ma, though this was but a nominal agreement between feuding factions following a civil war. The sides hated each other, and the Germans were accepted as a third party compromise. A 'Provisional Empire' was founded, complete with a puppet Kaiser and Parliament whose authority didn't extend beyond the German-populated enclave.

    The arrangement proved a disaster. Corruption was rampant. Expensive wars led to poverty; poverty led to unrest.

    The article compares the scenario with the French Revolution. However, unlike France's First Republic, the Aesirans espouse a political system more akin to Karl Marx's communism ('an anarchic philosophy inspiring numerous failed movements across Europe'). The Aesirans' 'Napoleon' can be found in Consul Karr V'Janahavabor, a formidable telepath and aeromancer of Jaga-ma's 'Sorcerer Corps,' who seized control shortly after the rebellion.

    The paper displays his grainy picture. He's a slender, balding elf, levitating on a stage before a crowded rally. He is shouting; his eyes bulge with fury. The skeletal prosthetic attached to his shoulder ends with a metal fist which he thrusts upwards in triumph. His military tunic is spangled with medals. A cloak billows behind him. In the backgrounds hangs the banner of a two-headed dragon.

    The Aesrians have recently developed airplanes, further strengthening their air superiority. Because they're physically weaker than humans, they employ 'Negro mercenaries' for both their infantry and motorcorps (you remember Uncle Grubb described the Venda Ka as 'coal skinned'). Having existed on the Ring for centuries, their influence sprawls for thousands of miles around Jaga-ma, dwarfing Earth's empires. Fortunately, Aesiran power is not unchecked. For the last seven years the Republic has been at war with the Confederation of Swan Kingdoms, another elvish nation in Jah-hana. The EPA is working to establish an embassy in their faraway capital, Zapaport.

    The paper presents two opinion pieces.

    The editorial is by Hereward Carrington, a famous psychical researcher and science consultant. He urges psychic elves loyal to the United States to offer their services to the military. He also promotes the study of 'Platonic Symbology,' in which certain symbols can be imbued with mental 'thought-forms,' granting protections or enhancements. He stresses that, despite popular belief, these are not superstitious nonsense but rather how elves regularly 'enchant' items and counter 'magical' effects.

    The op-ed is by Charles Davenport, a renown eugenicist. He calls for the elves to be confined to camps for the duration of the war. While the US is--for now--neutral, it's only a matter of time before the country is dragged into the fray. Meanwhile, every elf on the street might be an Aesiran spy sent to wreak havoc. Internment is the most practical and humane method of dealing with this threat. And while the elves are grouped together, doctors can sterilize their malcontents, removing criminal traits from the gene pool.

    From the house emanates a mechanical thrumming. Electric light floods out the doorway.

    "It's alive! ALIVE!" Roberta laughs with mad scientist glee.

    "I knew you could do it, Bobbi!"

    "We did it, Babe."

    You enter the great hall. The floor lamps flicker like LED torches. Helen and Roberta are huddled beside the resurrected generator, which purrs with a hint of growling.

    Roberta brushes back messy black bangs, revealing a face blanched by the stark light. She's recovered much in the last hour or so, but the dark circles under her eyes betray her fatigue. She taps the motor with her screwdriver. "Alternator's FUBAR, so we had to bypass the voltage regulator. Splice a few wires too. The output's uneven, so I wouldn't hook your phone to it. But it'll keep the lights on."

    Eddie nods appreciatively. "And all this with duct tape and bubblegum. Very cool."

    "Yes," you say, "nice work. Thank you."

    Helen climbs to her feet and helps up Roberta, who stretches and pops her neck. "And we have an idea on moving the bodies," your sister says. "We push them outside, then rope their feet to the SUV."

    "We drag them," Roberta says, "and kill two birds with one stone. I'm really hoping the 'world-jump' that brought us here included my Galaxie--she should be down the dirt road. If she is, I want to get there before some native rides off in her."

    That would be her 1970 Ford Galaxie 500, a scrapyard rescue she and her uncle restored over the years. It's her pride and joy. You're not a gearhead, but the car is pretty neat.

    "When we find it, we'll lose the fish and come right back," Helen says.

    The sky outside is a starry slate gray. Shadows shroud the woods. "I don't know," you say. "Like you said earlier, we should wait until morning."

    "Pookie, we'll be driving. It'll take ten minutes, tops."

    "But what about Maribel?" you ask. "I don't want to wake her up, and we can't leave her here."

    "You and Eddie can stay with her," Roberta says. "And stop worrying. If we see any wolf men or Mad Max gangs, I promise we'll lay low."

    Eddie scrutinizes her. "What's the hurry?"

    Roberta offers a tired, sheepish grin. "I admit, I'm in suspense. I want peace of mind. But! What if someone spots her from the highway--or whatever's in its place now? A weird car parked on a dirt road? They might investigate. We might get visitors."

    You frown. She's pandering to your fears, but does she have a point?

    What should you do?

    ***
    End Chapter Time
    (Thanksgiving Weekend?)
    (Your Phone) August 8th, 2015, 2:20 PM
    ***
    Voting will remain open until the evening of October 7th. In the next couple of days I'll update (and try to streamline) the Notes and References section.

    If it's not obvious already, the setting is fairly Dieselpunk, which is something I wasn't expecting, since this scenario had a very specific prerequisite (either Eddie or Maribel 'dual wield' the heartstones). I suppose it's not a spoiler, since these are now 'roads not taken,' but the other Post-Fog scenarios were:

    1. Disperse the Fog, leave the mansion. You're on your Earth. The world is just as it was before (This outcome wouldn't have been that difficult to achieve. The prerequisites are a spoiler).
    2. Disperse the Fog, leave the mansion. You're on your Earth. As you're driving away, the sky erupts with psychedelic lights. Your Earth is now on the Ringworld. Society shakes. Hilarity ensues.
    3. Disperse the Fog, leave the mansion . . . for a barren wasteland. You're on your Earth, but the year is 2033. The world went Ringworld eighteen years ago, and the sudden climate shift has caused a massive drought in North America. Megacorps run the world (and colonies). Lots of magi-bio-tech. Early antigrav spaceflight. Shadowrunish, with a bit of CthulhuTech. Roberta (now Robert) is a fortyish monster hunter with cybernetic enhancements. Married to a half-elf Werewolf. This was the most likely outcome. Or at least I thought so, anyway.
    4. Wander off into the Foggy woods looking for Fairies. Hallucinate like crazy. Head trips. Wind up in more or less Standard Fantasy Setting (on the Ringworld). Honestly, I couldn't imagine anyone voting for the requirements.

    I hope that was enlightening. What do you think of the quest so far? Any advice? Sorry for the long periods between updates, but no one's ever accused me of being a fast writer.

    Anyway, remember, if you like this quest, please vote.

    Deep Ones Loot
    Armor
    • 'Doughboy' helmets (x4)
    • Gasmasks (x4)
    • Body armor (x4) (Heavy)
    • Webbed kilts (x4)
    Weapons
    • Winchester 1897 (x4) (Roberta has one)
    • Tranquilizer Revolver (x4)
    • Squid Knife (x4) (Roberta has one)
    • Shock baton (x4)
    • Throw net (x4)
    • Grenade (explosion) (x11)
    • Grenade (tear gas) (x9)
    • Grenade (unknown) (x12)
    Ammo
    • 12 gauge shot (x166) (5 in Roberta's shotgun)
    • 12 gauge slug (x100)
    • 12 gauge slug (rubber) (x45)
    • 12 gauge slug (silver) (x48)
    • Tranquilizer dart (x46)
    Aid
    • Deep Ones 'MREs' (not recommended for consumption) (x12)
    • First Aid kit (x4)
    • Bundle of rope (x4)
    Misc.
    • Deep Ones medallion (x4)
    Party Skill Increases
    Helen has gained skill in: Mechanics (Generators)

    Roberta has gained skill in:Mechanics (Generators)

    Party Injuries
    • Burt
      • Minor wound to chest (pellet)
      • Superficial wound to upper right arm (pellet)
    • Maribel
      • Moderate wound to right hand (2nd degree burn)
      • Moderate wound to left hand (2nd degree burn)
    • Roberta
      • Fatigue

    Updated Character Sheets

    Updated Inventory

    Helen and Roberta want to tie the Deep Ones to the SUV and drag them down the dirt road. They also want to see if Roberta's 1970 Ford Galaxie is still there. It's nearly nightfall.
    [ ] Yes, they should do this. Drag the Deep Ones. Save the Galaxie.
    [ ] No, let's wait until morning.
    [ ] Write in.

    If Helen and Roberta drive the SUV down the dirt road, who should go?

    [ ] Helen and Roberta should go themselves. You and Eddie stay with Maribel.
    [ ] Everyone goes together. Carry Maribel into the SUV.
    [ ] Write in.

    If you and Eddie stay behind, what should you do?
    [ ] Write in.

    If everyone waits until morning, what should be done with the Deep Ones' bodies?
    [ ] Dump them outside for now.
    [ ] Write in.

    If everyone waits until morning, do you want to do anything besides sleep?
    [ ] Write in.

    Anything you want to do with the inventory?

    [ ] Write in.

    Anything else you want to add?
    [ ] Write in.

    Yet to be implemented votes (in the queue). Vote to change this, if you want.
    [X] Burn/dispose of the corpses
    [X] Clean the house
    [X] Move the shotguns to the basement. (<--Compromise, will be discussed)
    [X] it might be a good idea to not burn one of the bodies (but we should still remove it from the house). Having been attacked by fish monsters might help with making the locals feel sympathetic and being able to prove that story might be useful. Also if I recall correctly, writing from the ringworld said that there were no conclusive proof for the existence of those creatures, so the corpses might be valuable.
    [X] Herbert will rest for a time.
    [X] Read up on the Ringworld. Skim Uncle Grubb's documents (journals and the like) referring to his latest activities in the area. Search information on his associates and partners if he had any.
    [X] Search the documents for any mentions of the safe, what could be inside, or any clues to the combination opening it.
    [X] Check out the address book.
    [X] Herbert should read the Encyclopedia Britannica for some information on the US, while Maribel might want to read Psychical Phenoma Among the Elves.
    [X] Take stock of what we have, and try to think of what we'll need to see if we can get if we can find a town. Might need to sell some of our inventory to get money, so when we take stock of what we have we should put some thought into what we can reasonably part with.
     
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