V [Crawl #0005] The Eye of the Maelstrom

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Crawl #0005 - The Eye of the Maelstrom
Party Members
: Labor 9, Totoro, Spider-Man

Party Meter: 100%
*Note: As the meter depletes, your party approaches starvation.
Quests Completed: 1

Background

Deep in the wilderness of Cevanti, a maelstrom rages. Miles in height and breadth, the storm is a perpetual feature of the land—an impenetrable wall of howling wind and rain crawling across the metalline wastes, spitting scrap in every direction. The origins of the maelstrom are unknown, save for folktales hinting at the reprisals of an ancient god. Those who dare venture close enough report only the otherworldly howls emerging from its depths.

Within the eye of the storm lives a group of people, isolated from the world outside and from any form of aid. Forced into nomadism by the ever-moving storm, their caravan is subject to its whims. The beleaguered community exists in constant motion, working in shifts. The strongest among them venture close to the storm, casting huge, tethered nets into the abyss and reeling in hauls of scrap—at once food, tools, and, they hope, the key to their escape. Their inventors work tirelessly, day and night, developing new technologies and machines in the hopes that one will prove to be their salvation.

The group would have starved long ago but for the efforts of their leader, whose unique brand of alchemy makes of metal an edible gruel. However, the alchemist is growing old. His death is approaching, and it will mark the end of the struggling community. If they cannot find a solution in time, they will succumb, at last, to the ceaseless maelstrom and all traces of their existence will be wiped from the annals of history.


Quest #2 - Finding Your Place

Part 2

Word Count – 500 (Spider-Man/Labor), 1,000 (Totoro)
Post Count – 1 (Spider-Man/Labor), 2 (Totoro)
Content – With the passing of the Alchemist and supplies running dangerously low, tensions in the caravan are reaching a fever pitch. Multiple contenders have their eye on the now-vacant leadership position, each with their own idea of the best way to move forward. With this in mind, the party now attends the nomination ceremony and must choose where their allegiances lie, while also helping to temper the rising chaos.

Loot (Labor 9) – Trinket (Tier 3)

Galebat Orb
Summoning (300)
--Removable (-50)
--Finite (-50)

Screeching Swarm
Damage 1 (100)
--Chaotic (-50)
Debuff 1 (100)
--Chaotic (-50)

On its wielder’s command, the Galebat Orb releases a swarm of tiny, metal birds who attack and disorient enemies in the immediate area, although they tend to have a mind of their own and will not act predictably. After a period of about 10 seconds, the birds vanish.

Loot (Totoro) – Obstacle (Tier 2)

An electrical storm passes near to the inner edge of the storm, causing Totoro’s translator and his already-unreliable trinket to malfunction. Instead of translating his words to the common tongue, the translator now causes Totoro to sound like a screeching Pterix. Meanwhile, his trinket is activating constantly, causing sheer chaos amongst the villagers as they carry out the nomination ceremony. Totoro must navigate this situation with caution, lest the anxious nomads decide he’s more trouble than he’s worth.

Loot (Spider-Man) – Mutation (Tier 3)

Alchemist’s Blessing
Concealment (Sight) 1 (100)
--Chaotic (-50)
Sense (Infravision) 1 (100)
--Concentration (-50)
Variable Creation (Metalcraft) 1 (200)

The Alchemist’s Blessing is a vestige of the caravan’s late leader, discovered purely by chance. The user gains invisibility they can generally control, although flickering in and out of sight is not uncommon. By concentrating, the user can detect the heat signatures of nearby entities. Finally, with some practice the blessing allows the wearer to create and shape metals.

Word Count – 500 per player
Post Count – 1 per player
Content – Now that they have successfully dealt with the Pterixes and earned the trust of the wayfarers, the party finds themselves in an unfamiliar place with no immediate avenue of escape. Split up, and begin to identify the status of, and important figures in the caravan.

Loot (Labor 9) – Mutation (Tier 4)
Storm Surge
Damage 2 (200)
--Affects Multiple 1 (100)
--Finite (-100)

Labor gains the ability to infuse himself with a surge of powerful electricity, causing crackling lightning bolts to lash out and zap foes within a 20-foot radius for a few seconds. This power can only be used up to three times in a single conflict, lest Labor risk permanently damaging his robo-parts. (Note: This Ability remains with Labor until the end of the entire Crawl run.)

Loot (Totoro) – Mutation (Tier 3)

‘Blessing’ of the Big Boy
Endurance 1 (100)
--Ranged (+50)
--Self/Other (+25)
--Indiscriminate (-50)
Teleport 1 (300)
--Concentration (-50)
--Indiscriminate (-50)
--Weakness (Heavy Targets) (-25)

Totoro gains the ability to ‘bless’ a random target (friend or foe) at any distance, including himself, with increased endurance indefinitely. However, this ‘blessing’ also triggers a forced period of concentration for Totoro lasting several seconds, after which a random target in his general vicinity is teleported 10 feet in a random direction. (Note: This Ability remains with Totoro until the end of the entire Crawl run.)

Loot (Spider-Man) – Coin (Tier 3)

Spider-Man receives 2,500 Coin!



Quest #1 - Arrival

Word Count
– 6,100 (2,034 per party member; 3 posts each, 678 words per post)
Content – Your party awakens in the eye of the maelstrom, with no memory of the preceding events. The community seems startled by your sudden presence, but you suspect this is not the first time a stranger has appeared in their midst under mysterious circumstances. You quickly learn that you have arrived in a time of mourning—the nomadic group's patriarch, the alchemist, has died. With food supplies already dwindling and panic beginning to set in, gather information about the situation and acquaint yourselves with one another. This chapter of your tale must feature a celebration and a nightmare as central elements.
Loot – Trinket (Totoro) & 732 Coin each. (This Loot was given out due to the switch to Crawl 2.0.
 
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Labor 9

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Do you know the old legend of the storm? No? Well then, let me tell you all about it. Once, a very very long time ago, we used to live out there; On the outsides of the storm. Our people were a peaceful one, only taking as much of the land as we needed, farming only enough to feed ourselves and our families, never did we take more than necessary. But then the outsiders attacked, and our ancestor’s refused to fight. Refused to protect the sacred lands that they had grown and harvested upon. The gods saw this act only as Arrogance and unfairly punished them for it. What was one luscious green lands, unspoiled by temptation and greed, became filled with metal and barrenness. The survivors of this great disaster were cast away into one of heavens deepest pits, both them and their descendants forced to walk the ground they did not use, lands that by the gods’ judgement was wasted by them. But… there was still hope.

It is said that one day, three heroes will come to save the village from ruin and light the way in the most trying of times and this-

“Are there really heroes out there that will save us grandpa?” A little boy curiously interrupted from the elderly storyteller’s lap.

“Of course not.” Interrupted a tall well built man from the corner of the room. The young boy’s father. “He’s using the wrong interpretation.”

“Wrong?” The little boy questioned. It was obvious his young man wondered what the right one was then.

“Well you see,” The man spoke, he voice going naturally deeper. “It *is* said that a long time ago we lived outside the storm, in a city whose name has long been lost to time-”

“Grandpa has a better story time voice.” the boy interrupted. Ah… the joy of kids

“Do you want your father to stop telling you the story?” The boy shook his head. “Okay, the don’t interrupt when someone is speaking, you understand son?” The boy nodded. “Okay… so where were we… oh, yes. The city whose town has long been lost to name did start out small, but it was a town filled with sin. Soon the town spread, turning into cities of massive buildings. They spread as far as the eye can see, but the people built and farmed way to much. That’s when the outsiders came, they brought peace and knowledge, but the colony only wanted the land to themselves and declared war on the outsiders. This arrogant act led the gods to destroying all they had built, every city overturned and overgrown with plants. The last of those remaining got trapped here in the storm with no hope of survival. But one day, 3 animal spirits will come to find themselves in this place, and will cause the end of all of us.”

“How do you know that’s the correct version?” The old man questioned. “After all, these are just legends, stories, after all. All stories get retold, and as the old tellers stop, the new ones take their place. Eventually the original story and teller is no longer remembered, so who’s to say any interpretation of the story is the correct one?”

“Stop giving me this speech of wisdom crap,you have no more wisdom than I do, I see the stunts you pull.” the father sighed.

“Hehe, that may be true but at least at this old age you can pretend to and get away with it.” The grandfather had a slight cheeky smile on his face. Soon after boy lightly pulled on the old man’s robes to get his attention from the talking. “Yes little one?”

“N-No matter which story is true, the 3 people that come to this town would have to be powerful either save us or d-destroy us, r-right.” The child seemed a little shaken up, probably from his father’s take.

“Yeah, I would say so…”

~~Somewhere else in the eye of the maelstrom~~

“Rrraugh…” Totoro yawned, sitting up to try scratch and itch on their back. Their short arms could not reach.

686 words, post 1/3
 

Totoro

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„Rrraugh… gruh?“ Totoro grumbled, mostly to himself, as he woke up. This was a weird place to be sure. Not the one he recalled having been at last, with Yuuya and Labor and Gabriel the elf. And why was this place so windy?

He twisted his head left then right, looking around like an owl. There were silhouettes… of people? He rocked back and forth a few times until he had enough momentum to get himself on his feet, then walked closer. The silhouettes quickly turned into men that held ropes in their hands. The ropes connected to nets with stuff in them. It was like they were fishing, except there was no water to cast the nets into. However, Totoro quickly understood that these men were moving along the edge of a zone where the winds were still tolerable. They blew much stronger beyond that, pushing around all sorts of items, which the nets apparently caught.

“Ruuuh…” he growled as he came closer. The men had their backs turned to him as the wind came from behind Totoro, blowing the net in the direction opposite of him and they were just reeling in their catch before the net caught too many things to be pulled back by manpower. What he did not consider was how they would react seeing a strange creature pop up behind them. Namely, when the first one who heard footsteps turned around, saw him, let out a scream and dropped the rope. When another, startled by the scream, turned around to look and reacted similarly, the other men began to be dragged by the weight of the net still in the wind. They tried to dig their heels into the dirt but it was clearly a losing battle.

“What are you doing? We’re gonna lose the net!” one of them yelled, but the men were not hearing them. The beast in front of them was taking up their entire attention right then. And Totoro, quickly understanding the situation, decided to intervene.
„Raaagh“, he roared just enough that the two humans stepped back looking alarmed, and let him pass between them. He first stepped on the ends of the rope that were being dragged through the dirt then bent way down, picked them up and pulled. His weight allowed him to make up for the two men, and with a few hard yanks he helped the others pull the net out of the windy area. The junk was saved!

„Whew… okay what the hell happened back there, guys, did you see a… ghost...“ One of the other net-pullers turned around and promptly spotted Totoro holding the two ropes, with his men awkwardly standing behind him. Nobody really knew what to make of all this, save for the big spirit who bared his teeth for a big grin and held the ropes out to the two men.

The tension of the situation was broken when the net began to thrash around and a muffled voice came from within. The two men that were closest dashed forward and rolled the entire thing over a bit, shifting the various pieces of wood and metal inside around until a head and torso emerged from under the rubble.

„A human? Ay lad, are you there?“

„Ughhh. I feel like I went through a washing machine rapid cycle...“

„Sounds like he‘s alright. That‘s another mouth to feed though.“

„We‘ll worry about that later… hang on boy, we‘re gonna get you out of there. Just need to drag the net to safety.“

Seeing as how the strange bear-man was not just harmless but actively helping them, the nomads quickly decided that letting him help was the best course of action for now. So they quickly pulled the net away from the windy zone towards the center of the eye of the storm, where they opened it up and let the young man climb out before spilling the loot into a carriage, to be brought back to the main group and be rifled through later.

„So… what do we do about these two?“

„The lad‘s an outsider, maybe he knows something – maybe he can help us. And the animal thing… well if nothing else, it‘d make for some nice rations.“

706 words, post 1/3 (Quest 1)
 

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Encounter

As the group of wayfarers hauled in their nets and prepared to return to the caravan, a chorus of preternatural screeches rose above the howling winds. Grim-faced, the men turned back to the storm, bringing their makeshift weapons—warped rifles and cruelly-edged chain-swords— to bear. No sooner had they taken up a defensive position encircling the newcomers than the attackers emerged, three winged beasts cobbled together from sheets of wind-beaten metal. Their eye-shutters irised as they focused on their newfound prey.

1548429247540.png
Prompt: Defeat or repel the winged invaders.
Reward: +250 Coin for each party member.

Pterix (Level 2)

Physical Tendencies:

Power: 20
Toughness: 20
Quickness: 40
Skill: 20

Personality Tendencies:

Aggression: 60
Cunning: 40
Diplomacy: 0
Support: 0

Abilities:

Shrapnel Blast
Damage 3
--Affects Multiple 1
--Ranged
--Finite

As the Pterix navigates the maelstrom, its magnetized wings accumulate bits of metal. With a beat of its wings, the Pterix can unleash a volley of shrapnel upon its foes.

Claws
Damage 2

Maelstrom Navigator
Flight 3
--Ongoing
Agility 2
Adaptation (All except for falling and chemical environments.)

Steel Exoskeleton
Protection 2
--Ongoing​
 

Spider-Man

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Peter stood, running fingertips over a plethora of small, red nicks on his forearms. He stared at the net full of scrap metal. How did he get out here? More to the point, where was here?

Surveying the barren area, Peter inspected his saviours. Scraggy, unkempt people marched continuously, hauling all sorts of junk - mostly items built from the metal salvage that swirled around them. An enormous wall of wind encircled the caravan. The men who hauled him free of the cyclone chattered about the fate of Peter and another – a creature that Pete could only describe as a cross between a cat and a bear. It seemed docile enough, but even so, he took a few steps backwards just to be sure.

“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto,” Peter said to himself.

The hybrid creature looked at Parker with feline curiosity, tilting its head.

A warbled screech somehow overtook the raging winds around them. Peter looked skyward to see a massive mechanical bird sailing overhead, circling around them like a vulture. Its entire body was composed of metal, with long copper cables snaking down the wings. The blue light of its eyes scanned them without emotion, like a predator eyeing its prey.

How could such things even exist, let alone pass through a tornado?

Another two of its kin soared through the cyclonic winds to join in inspecting their prospective… meals? Victims? Why would a bird built of steel have any interest in a group of humans in the first place?

“Careful!” one of the men shouted. “They’re looking for blood!”

Peter pulled the collar of his shirt and looked down at his chest – no Spider-Man costume on beneath. He hadn’t remembered to replenish his web shooters either.

Great time to lose consciousness and wake up in a tornado without the suit, Peter thought to himself.

“Hey newcomer!” one of the men said, his face consumed with a black, wiry beard. “Earn your keep!”

He tossed a wooden shaft with a sharpened slab of steel affixed to it, sculpted to end in a point. It was ostensibly attached the pole by a rusted nail. And this is supposed to help me how?

“I-I appreciate the help, but what do I do with-“

The first robot avian screeched, a distorted, piercing sound that forced Peter to cover his ears, and dived. Flaring its wings, it spread its steel talons wide as it plummeted towards the humans. Peter’s face dropped when he realised the bird had singled him out as the target.

“Oh no!”

“Aim for the cables!” the bearded man shouted.

“What?”

“Do you see the copper lines on the inside of its wings? Stab them with the metal! It’ll disable its wing and it won’t be able to fly!”

Peter threw himself to the ground as the robot skimmed over him, its clawed talons finding nothing to grasp. He climbed to his feet and watched as it wheeled around.

“How am I supposed to get the cables?” Peter yelled as the other two mechanical birds dove into the crowd.

The bearded man shouted something back but was lost over the howling of the winds and the screeches of the metal predators.

Gripping his rudimentary spear in hand, Peter sprinted across the barren earth, hoping to draw at least one of them away from the crowd. Maybe with enough distance, they wouldn’t see him operating at full capacity, too.

His foe came screaming back, talons extended. Peter swallowed hard and blinked away the sweat that rolled into his eyes. When the creature came low enough, there was a slim chance he could pierce the cables with a well aimed jab. It skimmed mere feet off the ground…

Wait for it…

The mechanical avian screeched, setting Peter’s teeth to clench.

Almost…

Parker drew the spear back and thrust. The dirt beneath his heel gave out and he slid, sending the tip of the weapon to the side to skitter uselessly over the bird’s chest. The talons clasped over the shaft.

“Oh no!”

The wind belted Pete’s face as he ascended into the sky, his hands wrapped tight around the spear. Metal wings flapped around him. Pete was used to heights, but not without his web shooters. He swallowed hard.

The bird scanned the ground, apparently unaware of Peter’s presence. Perhaps in rage, the talons clenched and snapped the spear.

Peter’s heart stilled as he felt the shaft fall away. With a desperate reach, his fingers latched onto the bird’s foot. Breathing hard and fast, he swiftly climbed up and around, using his wall crawling ability to stay glued to the bird, until he rested on the robot's back.

“No easy ways out of this one…”
 

Labor 9

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Geez, these newcomers were hopeless and more trouble the they were worth. One was already out of commission and hanging on for dear life, an impressive feat If he were to actually survive, the other, if an unintelligent animal could even be called a newcomer, was running around panicked and chased by the Pterix group after they made the stupid mistake of aggravating them with growling and waving their arms about. Well, at least the animal was good for a distraction while the men aimed their weapons to fire. But wait, what was that on the rooftops. It was another metallic creature, a humanoid one this time and… Oh god, were those… Were those human heads. That was… disgusting.

“Help, Friend…” The mechanical abomination groaned, it's voice piecing to the ears. By ‘friend’ they obviously meant the mechanical monstoristies of the air, they looked disgustingly similar.

The black bearded man aimed his gun and gave grunt. “Say hello to the devil for me.”

“Wait, Don’t do that!” The man’s shot was pulled off course by a child mere seconds before he fired. The monster got away. The monster jumped into the other monsters back. The monster was helping the birds stear and it was all this chiLD’s FAULT-

A hand grabbed the arm he had lifted up, “Now, now. There is no need for that type of behaviour son.” The robed man said.

“But this dumb child stopped me from killing one of the monstrosities!” The man shouted louder then you would ever need to for that distance. The boy already backed away at this point. “I don’t care if he is ‘Joal’s boy’, he need to be punished!”

“That isn’t your call.” The old man said. His words were calm yet authoritative, you could tell the man was use to this sort of thing. “Anyway, you should observe before you take action. Take a look closely at the ‘monstrosity’ that you were about to take a shot up.”

“What are you talking about old man. Have you finally gone coo-co-” Wait… What was that thing doing. Was it… Was it attacking it’s own kind? “What in the bloody hell is going on!”

“You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover son…”

~~Just half an hour earlier…~~

“N-No matter which story is true, the 3 people that come to this town would have to be powerful either save us or d-destroy us, r-right.

“Yeah, I would say so…”

“Come on, ease up on the kid would ya.” The younger man said, gently ruffling boy’s hair. “I mean, I just as nervous if not more so about this day, but that doesn’t mean we should scare him half to death over a legend…”

“True son, true. But you never know when the unexpected will happen.”

It was then that they all heard 4 slow knocks on the door. *Knock… Knock… Knock… Knock* it went. “Who’s that daddy?” Asked the boy curiously.

“Probably just one of the neighbors wanting some help.” The grandpa said softly to the boy before adding that ‘Daddy’ should go see who it was.

The Dad does just that, walking to the door, opening it up to greet the supposed neighbor. “Hey there, what do you… Want…” There was a thing. Right it front of him. A Non-human thing. A big metallic non-human thing that gazed over him, carrying around a limp body that was, judging by the amount of blood and heads on the creature, dead.

The man was frozen in fear, the monster only saying two words. But those two words would Huang the family’s lives forever. “Help… Friend…”

… “Wait, what?!” The fear in the room from everyone had completely vanished, instead replaced by visible confusion from the two adults and a mild curiosity from the kid.

Two arms picked up and the unconscious being off the things shoulders, showing a big red blood stain on the hip. “Help… Friend… Please.”

The sight of the beat up body put the man into adrenaline mode, motioning for his old man to help with the body as he half yelled at the child to ‘The mat’, the scare and confusion and just the weirdness if a metal skeleton in his house completely gone. Both people seemed used to this sort of reaction as they quickly did what they were asked without a fuss about it, not that the old man wasn’t still uneasy about it.

“They seem to have a mild concussion.” The auto-piloted man said, quickly removing the guys shirt to see where the blood loss from coming from. “Large cut across side but very thin. Judging by the silver flakes these were probably caused by getting hit but a large piece of metal.”

“Yuuya… Alright?” The voice came once again from the creature. It genuinely seemed worried.

“Yeah, he’ll be alright. He’ll just need a little rest and a couple of hours to heal the cut. Come on pops, you can help me take this guy to the bedroom.”

“Huh? Oh. Yeah, sure.” The old man responded, taking one end of the mat. Normally his son would carry someone of this weight alone, something had to be up.

“What’s wrong?” Damn, he was a sharp one.

“I’m just a little worried about our new ‘guest’ that’s all. I mean, coming in with an injured body when your made of the stuff that caused the injuries isn’t exactly a good first impression, and what do we do if your brother decides to visit.”

They haven’t visited us in 4 years. And besides, the guy just wanted some help but…” The man sighed. “If your so worried about it, how about you go and watch them while I Do everything here.”

“You sure.” The man nodded. “Thanks.”

The old man woddled his way but to the main room, fixing up a tilted photo frame along the way. Gotta make sure the house was clean. And what he came back to gave him a present surprise; the metallic person was playing with his grandson. He smirked. “What are you whippersnappers doing?”

“Jonhny… Fun…” The distorted voice replied.

“I’m glad your having a good time. But if you don’t mind, what’s your name?” I mean, it would be rude not to call them by that.

“It’s-”

“Emergency Code: 0421, Group of pterix attacking, they are extremely dangerous, anyone unable, unwilling, or unready to fight should stay indoors. I repeat, Emergency Code: 0421, Extremely dangerous, stay inside.” That… That was bad…

“Me… Help…”

“Alright big guy, but me and Jr are coming with you. They’ll shoot you on sight if we don’t.”

~~Now~~

“Don’t put my words back on me old man. I learnt my lesson from them.” The angry man stated.

The old man sighed at this. Just because one bad experience happens, doesn’t mean the whole world was that black and white...

1144 Words, post 2/3
 

Totoro

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What a strange day this was. First he had woken up in a weird place with winds everywhere around him, then he had met a bunch of new humans who fished things out of the wind with nets, and now he was getting a workout more tiring than even pulling the sled.

Namely, by running away from first one, then two flying metal birds that thought him to be the tastiest prey. Only one seemed distracted by the human that they had found in the fishing net, thrashing around and screeching. At least, that was what he could see at a glance, he didn’t have the luxury of stopping and taking a closer look.

“Oi, bear-thing! Come over here!” one of the men shouted. There was a group of three, all wielding those metal boomsticks with one exploding end. They were waving that end to point at the metal birds.

He wondered what they would do as he ran in a broad arc until he was heading straight towards them, ducking under the bird’s sharp claws. More than once, they had already scraped against his back and head, but fortunately, they were misjudging the amount of fur that he had, and didn’t manage to sink their talons into him.

The humans stepped to the sides and let him run between them. Anticipating what was about to happen, he covered his ears with his paws. The next instant three sharp cracks exploded and one of the birds screeched, though whether it was from pain or rage he couldn’t say. He slowed to look over his shoulder – and promptly had to drop forward to avoid having his eye gouged out by a talon. The first bird had taken the brunt of the attack and slowed a bit while the second had come straight for him. However, it wasn’t done yet: it slowed to a near halt and turned to face the four of them.

“Incoming, take cover!”

“Gruh?”

Totoro turned around to notice the men raising makeshift shields made out of metal scraps and huddling behind them while the metal bird defied physics by staying in place even as it pulled its wings to cross them in front of its head. He took far too long to understand that it was preparing something. Because when it flapped its wings, it was already too late.

Screeching, the Pterix spreaded its wings out at top speed, overcoming the magnetic pull of its metallic body and sending the numerous scraps of metal flying like shrapnel of a grenade. The area in front of it was peppered by the sharp-edged pieces that would no doubt have grievously injured several humans had they not cowered behind their shields. Totoro, however, did not enjoy such protection.

He gave a pained roar as shrapnel dug into his body. He had brought his hands up to cover his eyes, the most vulnerable part, but the shrapnel dug past his furcoat and fat layer, drawing blood. Yet, the pain was almost entirely confined to his arms, he noticed. And as he lowered them to look at the battlefield, he understood why.

A familiar humanoid figure stood before him, acting as a shield. Its metal body had taken the brunt of the attack with little more than scratch damage, though the burlap sack on its head was torn a bit. As the bird flapped its wings to escape the humans’s counterattack the figure turned around.

“Fluffy… okay?”

“Gruh… rah, rah”, he replied and nodded. Some blood stuck to his fur where the scrap had dug into his arms but he was still capable of fighting. Had it not been for Labor, he would not have escaped this lightly. But, he would have to thank her later. Now, he waved towards the birds and growled a series of noises. They had to go, but he couldn’t harm them. They may be attacking, but they were just predators looking to feed! To attack them for following their instincts was wrong. So, he tried to tell Labor that they had to drive them off.

“Fluffy… too nice…” Labor murmured. Then she nodded.

As the bird came back around for another attack, Totoro grabbed Labor by her waist and just as it descended to attack them again, he threw her upwards. Given that her metal body was a little heavier than that of a human, he wasn’t able to throw her far, but it was just enough that she could grab onto its wing and climb onto its back to attack from a relatively safe angle. Then he jumped out of the way to dodge the talons.

As he rolled along the ground and came to a halt, he noticed that an item had dropped next to him. It was tiny, comparable to an earbud in size. “Gruh… rooo rah?” he growled as he picked it up. And the item responded: “What this… from bird?”

He responded with a surprised, high-pitched yelp and nearly dropped the item. And again: “Thing talk!”

It would appear that the bird had unintentionally dropped an auto-translator into Totoro’s furry paws. A fairly broken translator, messed up by the magnetic wings and the tornado, but still functional – more or less, anyway.

870 words, post 2/3 (Quest 1), total 1576 words
 

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The wind blasted Peter’s face as he clung to the back of the Pterix. The snapped spear spun in two halves to the ground, which was a dizzying distance down. The metallic bird flapped its wings and ascended above the caravan, its head rotating as if deciding which of the scurrying humans below would be its next target. Apparently it hadn’t noticed Peter on its back, or had no fear of him. No doubt being a robotic avian the size of a large elephant would impart a level of confidence against the feeble struggles of the flesh-and-bones humans.

Whichever was the case, Peter was about to test it out.

He looked at the beast’s metallic back. With the only tool capable of cutting the cables lying uselessly on the ground below, there had to be another way to disable or at the very least hinder it. Although Peter’s experience with artificial intelligence boiled down to the work he performed on Doc Ock’s mechanical arms, he hoped he could cobble together some solution if he could look deeper at the robot’s functionality.

Peter edged his fingertips around one of the metal plates on the bird’s back and pulled, sticking to the creature with his feet. Even with the wind whipping in his ears, he could hear the groan of the plate as it gradually peeled backwards. As he hoped, a mesh of wires and machinery grew exposed. The copper cables that lined the wings appeared to meet right in the opened area. Even without the spear, he could do some real damage to this thing now.

With a final yank, Peter tore the metal plate free and it threw it into the sky.

The robot’s head pivoted, its illuminated blue eye’s aperture focusing on Peter.

“Oh, that can’t be good.”

The bird threw its head down and its back upwards, trying to buck Parker off in one powerful motion. Peter flew off the robot bird’s back, unprepared for the force. His heart leapt into his throat as he hung suspended from nothing in the air, the enormity of his height ringing even clearer than before, before gravity sank into him again.

“No no no no no no!” he shouted as he plummeted. The mechanical avian was behind him, but its speed drew it closer and closer to him. Peter grit his teeth and hoped that he would still land on the bird as it passed beneath him. A moment passed where it looked like he had overestimated his luck and dread filled his mind.

He slammed hard into the bird’s head and rolled down its neck, heading quickly for its tail and the sheer emptiness of the air. Pushing the thoughts born of adrenaline from his mind, Peter latched onto the shoulders and hauled himself onto the robot’s neck.

There was barely time to catch his breath as the bird banked hard to the left. Peter clung tightly as they flew vertically to the horizon, but now that he was on, he wasn’t going to let go easily. The robot flung itself right but still couldn’t dislodge its unwanted stowaway. Instead it spun like a corkscrew, over and over again.

The world rolled in Peter’s vision, the dust strewn ground and dusty sky tumbling over one another. His lunch churned in his stomach like clothes in a washing machine. Gotta...stop the rolling...

But how?

C’mon Peter! Think!

His eyes found it difficult to focus as his sense of balance dimmed. The only things he could make out reliably were the metal components that made the bird’s neck and head... and the shimmering blue eyes.

That’s it!

Slowly, cautiously, Peter dragged himself along the robot’s neck. Peter could feel the neck trying to writhe, to knock him off, but the gravitational forces applied even to the robot stopped it from doing much more than trembling.

Making it to the head, Peter squeezed tightly with his thighs and slapped both hands over the robot’s eyes. It warbled in confusion, pulling out of its corkscrew flight pattern but unable to right itself. It soared haphazardly downward, flapping to keep itself from plummeting like a stone but heading irrevocably toward the ground.

Peter clung on for dear life. He thrust the bird’s head from side to side in an effort to control the descent and succeeding only slightly; the robot would jerk in the direction but then resume to flailing about wildly.

Another strong ‘suggestion’ of direction, unplanned, launched Peter and his steed into another of the Pterixes. They clashed in a whirl of wings, claws and sparks. Rebounding off, Peter’s ride tried to flap its wings but the motion didn’t stop their acceleration with the ground. Looking over his shoulder, Peter spotted severed copper cables and sparks spraying free.

The wings were out! Yes! ... Wait. The wings are out! I’m going to crash!

Peter and the Pterix hit the ground with tremendous speed, digging a trench into the earth. Parker held on with all his might but the crash threw him free of the robot bird and, after a solid hit to the head, into blackness.

854 words, 2nd post, 1641 total.
 

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Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick Tock. The seconds passed by, each one growing longer then the last, time never felt this slow. Waiting for a loved one to wake up from this state was hard… they looked so beat up. How… how could anyone do something like this… They didn’t do anything wrong… They… they just wanted to express themselves. Is that so wrong? I looked at their face. They looked the worst I’ve ever seen them, it pained to look at them for too long. This couldn’t be real right? Yeah, it had to be some sick twisted dream, right? No… that was wrong… I know this is will, that this is what happened-- will happen and that I wasn’t there--- won’t be there for it. I decided against it, somehow felt that my decision was the right one, but it wasn’t-- won’t be. It was then that I felt their fingers start to curl around mine. They then turned my head and said one thing, “Why did you leave me? “Why did you abandon me?”

“I didn’t- I didn’t mean to!” I yelled as the whole room started getting darker, their voice repeating over and over, getting louder and louder. All out of sync, all yelling from different directions. It was overwhelming, it hurt, it starting overloading my senses. “Please! I didn’t mean to! I didn’t-”


Both men woke up suddenly and sporadically, scaring each other’s sweat covered faces even more than the shock of waking up so suddenly would have by itself. The guy who carried in by the creature, despite having significantly less context, calmed down rather easily. “I have two questions for you, where am I, and where are my friends?” His voice was cheerful as he spoke but his eyes had a serious look that was hard to find, it was sort of scary how he said his lines this way.

Joaled sighed, this guy was going to be a handful. “If you are referring to the metal scarecrow that brought you here…” he started explaining, taking it slow as not to over-explain the situation and short it out in as little time as possible. “They should be in the lounge room with my paps and son taking care of them. As for you, you’re in my spare bedroom. You were passed out cold and hurt when your friend managed to find us, it’s lucky the first place they found was the home of a doctor.”

“So they’re okay?” The man’s eyes seem significantly more relaxed this time.

“Yeah.” Joal answered.

The patient took a breath of what seemed to be relief as he laid back onto the bed. “Ça c'est bon.” he chuckled. “That girl seems to have a habit of getting in over her head.”

“Girl? Huh.” Joal quietly commented to himself before turning his attention back. “Your friend did seem worried about you though, want me to bring them here Mr…?”

“Sakazaki.” The man replied, “Yuuya Sakazaki. And Oui, I would like to see them.”

“Wait here while I go get them for you then.” Joal then softly got up from the chair and walked into the hallway.

‘God dammit, what were you thinking to yourself Joal.’ He thought to himself soon after, stopping to lighting bang his head on the wall. ‘Not only did you fall asleep while looking after a patient, you fell asleep on the patient! How do you even do that.’ He sighed. ‘Okay, calm down. Breath in.’ He breathed in. ‘Breath out’ He breathed out. ‘Now, It’s all right. It was an accident, we all make them. It was just one time and you’ve been tired recently as you haven’t slept that much since the patriarch passed away like most people, just make sure it never happens again. Okay? Okay.’ Well, now that that was clear up with himself, Joal went along the hall to get the other new arrival. But, as he stepped into the room, he noticed one problem, only his son was there, who immediately ran up to him and hugged his legs “Hey there Junior.” Joal said as soon he pat his son's head. “Where wrong? And where is Grandpa and the robot?”

“There was an alarm saying that there was a attack from the birds again.” The kid semi-wined. “They are both out there helping out, I hope they can fend them off…”

Well, there was the trouble Yuuya mentioned. “Don’t worry, I’m sure they will. And until then I’ll read you your fraviote story.”

754 words, Post 3/3
 

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As the first bird dropped to the ground while the other was interlocked in the struggle with Labot 9 on its back, the third one hesitated. This prey was turning out to be far more troublesome than it was worth to pursue. The one that was grounded would not make it, and the other‘s fate looked grim too if they kept fighting.

Maybe that was what they thought. Or maybe their metal brains, where cold numbers, logic circuits and preprogrammed responses had long ago replaced emotional thinking and instincts, came to the conclusion that the likelihood of being destroyed was outweighing the chances of eliminating all targets and thus a retreat should be made.

One way or another, the single Pterix that was currently unharmed screeched and the one that had Labor rodeoing it promptly adjusted its wobbly course to head towards the roaring storm. Fortunately Labor noticed it in time and let herself drop before the winds could tear her apart. On the other hand, having a heavy metal body and falling from that height wasn‘t the most desirable course of action – she landed with a loud THONK and needed a few moments to gather herself, while Totoro came over.

„Labor good?“ the little item translated his words.

„Fluffy… talk now?“

In response, he held out the translator. „Me talk. Thing talk also.“

Meanwhile, the catchers that had fended off the Pterixes along with the trio ran over to the downed bird. While two cut one wire after another to ensure that it was dead, the others tore off bits and pieces of its metal carapace until they were able to retrieve Peter. „How‘s the boy?“ one of them asked.

„Looks okay. Some cuts and bruises, probably hit his head hard when he landed, nothing bad.“

„It‘s been a while since we got one of the metal birds“, another remarked. „That‘s gonna be plenty of metal and stuff if we can bring it back.“

„We better hurry...“ the first replied to that, with a concerned glance at the ‚edge‘ of the eye of the storm that was slowly but surely closing in as the tornado continued to move along.

Ultimately the Pterix was chopped up as best as they could and about half its body was loaded onto the carts along with the loot they‘d accumulated in the nets. Then came the time to adress the elephant in the room: the newcomers.

„We should bring them back. If they‘re outsiders, maybe they could help us.“

„They‘re four more mouths to feed. Especially that big raccoon.“

„Our supplies are gonna run out one way or another if we don‘t break through soon, four more won‘t make the big difference.“

Besides, at a time of mourning not only the alchemist‘s death but also the loss of his unique skills that had kept them all alive for so long, they couldn‘t make these strangers ‚brave the storm‘ - the tornado tribe‘s equivalent of walking the plank for pirates, driving them into the storm to be torn apart by the winds. So it was quickly settled that they would come along.

With Peter on one of the carts and Labor and Totoro helping by pushing them, they rejoined the caravan in the center of the eye of the storm. The nature of their home did not even let them pitch tents, so their homes were built on wheels that were constantly in motion. Even the bonfire that burnt now to roast and cook the funeral feast on burned on a metal carriage. And though the atmosphere was one of mourning, there was some happiness in the celebration of the alchemist‘s life. His accomplishments, the stories he‘d told, the good times they‘d had with him – these things were celebrated. And the strangers that had arrived there at such a time were welcome to participate.

Although, things got a bit weird when singular people suddenly found their legs moving much faster than they were used to, when the mules that pulled the smaller carriages suddenly accelerated for brief moments and threw the entire formation off, when some kids who had cut themselves on the sharp edges of the Pterix‘s metal body had their injuries heal out of nowhere and nobody could figure out why they were crying over ‚boo-boos‘ and back to playing, happy as clams, two seconds later. Nobody knew that the originator of all that chaos was right in their midst.

„What… Fluffy doing?“ Labor asked when she noticed Totoro sitting on the edge of one of the Pterix carts, playing with something.

„Me have fun!“ Totoro gleefully replied. In his one paw he held a small metal cube with a single red button on its surface, which he was repeatedly pressing with his other paw. Each time he did, it made a clicking noise, making his whiskers shudder and his fur stand on end. That little click sounded so funny that he kept pressing the button. Clickclickclickclickclick.

„Where…?“

„Find on bird!“ He pointed at the remains. „Stuck to wing!“

„Oh.“ Then, a moment later, she clumsily raised her arms. „Food… for Fluffy...“

„Food!“ Just like that, he had forgotten about his plaything for now and took from Labor‘s arms the rations that she‘d been given by the barbecue-masters at the bonfire. As he scooted over to make some room for the metal girl to sit next to him, the carriage driver remarked: „Looks like the animals have calmed down. I wonder where that came from.“

„I dunno, man“, the next driver over replied. „Cevanti‘s a weird place like that.“

927 words, post 3/3 (Quest 1), total 2503 words
 

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Pain ripped across his skull. Peter sat up, rubbing the side of his temple, which felt badly bruised. He groaned, coming to terms with the injury, and opened his eyes.

He perched upon one of the carts hauling pieces of discarded metal. He almost fell off when he spotted the head of the Pterix, its unlit eye staring at him from beneath a pile of scraps. Peter looked around, taking in the unique view before him.

The camp of people trapped in the eye of the hurricane had been built entirely on wheeled platforms. Shacks built of metal, their disparate shapes and colours creating a patchwork of silver and copper structures, bumped along the trail, not a single pair looking alike. Dust kicked up from the worn wheels – some flat, others halfway there – so most people either helped with pulling the platforms or strode along on the sides. A brave few led the way for the caravan, searching for safe passage.

A child hurried back to Peter’s cart, cradling a bowl and spoon against her chest. Her face was streaked with grit but she looked up at Parker with bright eyes and smiled.

“Well hi there,” Peter said.

The little girl hoisted the bowl up to Peter. The gruel inside looked and smelled unappetising – it put Peter in mind of oatmeal mixed with cement – but Peter took the offering and smiled back. These people had next to nothing and yet they still provided sustenance to this outsider. He wouldn’t refuse such a kind gesture.

“Thank you,” Peter said. He didn’t intend on eating much of the gruel, but even with the ordinary smell and appearance, his stomach grumbled. He forced down a mouthful. Bland, a little pasty, but edible. “It’s... delicious.”

“Thanks for knocking down the big bird and scaring the other ones away,” the little girl said, then ran back to a caravan ahead of Peter.

“You’re welcome!” Peter called after her.

He finished the plain fare, struggling to finish the last few bites, and dropped the bowl and spoon in the cart. Hopping off, he strolled forward into the mobile camp. There had to be a leader here somewhere. There had to be a way out of this endless maelstrom – for everyone.

With or without his Spider-Man suit, web shooters and laboratory, he knew he could solve this problem for good.

393 words, 3rd post, 2034 total.
 

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No sooner had Labor sat down to watch Totoro eat did they feel something on their back, the wood made a distinctive tapping sound on the metal as they were poked with it, softly but firmly, not that anything harder with it would do much more than rip the fabric.

Looking over their shoulder, the culprit seemed to be the old man from earlier. “Ah, so you can feel.” The man said, seeming to drift off to his own thoughts for a couple of seconds before continuing. “Anyway, It would appear that your friend has woken up and wants to talk to you. Do you mind accompanying me back home or would you prefer to wait until after the celebration has ended?” The man waited patiently as the metallic creature turned his head around to look the animal, before coming back around to nod at the old man. “Let us go then…” He said, walking away as labor proceeded to follow them. Nobody would say it but everything

There was something labor wanted to bring up back at the celebration, but they didn’t want to ruin the mood. “Village… Patriarch?”

“Oh?” The old man questioned, seeming it a bit odd. “It’s like a leader of sorts.”

“No… Who was… Patriarch?”

Ah, that made more sense. “He was a good man. No one could ever say they hated him even before he went into power. Despite being on ten front lines and facing metal monsters in fights that would drain him and make most men go mad, he would always help the people who couldn’t and gave off a positive attitude. One day he found a way to turn the metal into food, so when when it eventually became time for the previous chief of the village to retire, something we never thought we would see the day of before he figured out alchemy, the chief choose him to be leader and the people agreed. Of course now the Patriatch is dead…” The old shook his head. “I’m sorry, there’s no need to wrap you up in our politics, we are almost to your friend any-”

Bang, Bang

Labor’s head turned quickly to the source of the noise. It was a house just like any other, the only difference being that the door had now been flung open by whatever they were doing in there. But, as labor focus, they saw something of a familier color. Wait.. Was that? Yes, it was.

The scarecrow monstrosity limbed it’s way towards the unsuspecting house, it’s footsteps loud and cumbersome. It’s breath heavy and smelling if oil as it got closer to the house, then closer to the door, then through the door and closer to the person inside. “Mmmm-”

“Aaaaah!” The person said, startled by the noise behind him, jumping forward and turning around, seeing the monstrosity before him. He had messing soft white hair and seemed to be taller than most people in the village, but still not as tall as labor as that would be ridiculous. He backed up into a drawer on the edge of the room. “Don’t c-come any closer. I have a ion-charged laser sword and I’m not afraid to u-use it,” he said, taking out a small cylindrical objects with buttons and what looked like it may of been a hilt from the top drawer. Really it was just a very fancy flashlight but he wasn’t going to tell them that.

“Come down young man… This is one of the new arrivals you surely would of heard about.” said the old man as he walk around from behind labor.

“R-really?” The skinny guy slowly put the object back in the drawer he got it from, his shaking hands easily visible. “W-well then, I’m Dr. Gate. Elon if you would prefer to use my first name.” Elon’s hand timidly moved forward to greet the new arrival, but labor just softly shook their head. “A-alright,” the doctor said, moving his hand back. “Y-you must have your reasons.” There was an awakens silence.

“This is our local inventor. He may be a bit awkward with social interactions, but he is the smartest in the camp and is extremely dedicated to finding a way for us to escape the maelstrom. Even if it does mean he misses certain events…” There was a visible gulp from Elon Gate due to the old man’s saddening of tone but no one said anything. “Anyway, how is your current project going?” He asked curiously.

“Oh, ah… Ha…” Elon stuttered. “I-it’s nowhere near ready to show yet. I promise something’s coming. But… but…”

As the doctor came up with excuses to explain why his next idea couldn’t be shown yet, Labor’s attention turned back to what originally lead them in here. Softly stepping closer labor noticed that while the paint was definitely scratched and worn, the colour and shape of the sleigh was unmistakable. “Ga… briel…”
820 words
 

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Clickclickclickclickclick.

Although his fur standing on end like he was charged with static electricity Totoro was enjoying himself to no end, listening to the funny sound that came from his new toy each time he pressed the button. And with Labor having left to talk with the humans, he was left to his own devices.

“Hey, big fella. I heard youarebleto speak no- what the hell? It’s starting again!”

“Gruh?” He looked up. Lacking a proper translation for the curious grunt, the little translator clipped to his ear remained quiet. He slid his hand into his furcoat and pulled it back empty, ‘storing’ the toy amidst the fluff.

“Weird… hmm, looks like it’s over now”, said a tall man as he looked at his own legs while approaching the cart Totoro sat on. “I didn’t get a chance to thank you guys in person for helping with the metal birds.”

The spirit replied with a series of growls and roars that the translator picked up: “Welcome! Me happy to help!” While he said so, he examined the other one a bit closer. Among humans, he would probably be a desired male: he had a lot of muscle, readily seen because his clothes were pretty torn up. Maybe that was a fashion thing. He had no fur on the top of his head but instead around his mouth and chin.

“Name’s Yohm, by the way. I’m the leader of the retrieval corps… as long as we still have order among ourselves, anyway.” He held out a hand after just a moment of hesitating, which Totoro carefully pinched between two of his clawfingers.

“Me” he said then roared, but the translator didn’t work for translating names, apparently. Yohm understood and laughed it off.

“I’ll just call you Big guy, alright?”

“That alright!” He then patted the seat next to him, since Yohm had been walking behind the cart all this time. “Rooohm retrieve stuff?” he then asked.

“That’s right. The maelstrom’s a capricious thing, but it provides for us”, the human explained while sitting. “Now that the old man is dead though, we can’t make more food out of the junk we fish in our nets.”

“Food…” He looked down at his stomach. Going hungry was no good. “Humans no leave?”

“We would if we could. But we couldn’t find a way to make it through the storm. We tried digging someone in, weighting them down, using all sorts of tech… nothing worked so far.”

“So… far?”

“We won’t give up hope as long as we live!” Yohm explained enthusiastically. “And now more than ever we’re trying our best to escape, since our time’s running out.”

Totoro grinned. “Then… then me help humans. Friends also help humans!”

“Hah, you just be careful that you don’t end up ‘helping’ us as the next meal”, he joked. “Seriously though, you guys might be our best bet, since you’re bringing in knowledge from outside… well, some are going to treat you as outsiders because of that, but we need all the help we can get.”

“And if we no help, we also no escape.”

“Much as it pains me to say it, that too. You guys have your lives on the line with ours.”

539 words (Quest 2, part 1)
 

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Rumbles travelled through the caravan. People dashed back and forth, whispering to each other with worried expressions. Some lost their composure and cried.

Peter looked around as the news washed over the caravan. What happened? Had one of those metal birds claimed a life while he was wrestling one in the air? More than one life?

“Excuse me sir,” Peter said to the first man he found. “What’s going on? What’s everyone talking about?”

The man’s concerned eyes lifted from the ground and settled on Parker. “Oh, you’re one of the newcomers. I’m Joal.”

“Peter. So did something happen while I was airborne?”

Joal nodded. “The alchemist passed away. He was responsible for converting our scrap metal into a food source.”

Oh, so that’s what that claggy soup was, Peter thought. Not a bad effort considering what it once was.

“Oh I’m so sorry,” Peter said. “Does anyone else know his processes?”

Joal shook his head. “No. He was also the leader of the caravan. He didn’t have anyone appointed to lead after his... passing.”

Peter let the silence hang for a moment. The caravan was suddenly leaderless and with a limited supply of food. He knew what it was to lose someone important, but the caravan had the added strain of searching for a new source of sustenance all while trying to escape a raging tornado.

“That’s horrible news,” Peter said. “Do you have a process for electing a new leader?”

“People can nominate themselves, or have others nominate them, and then the caravan votes,” Joal said. “Still, I wonder what we’re going to do with no food. We only have enough supplies to keep us going for a few days tops – the alchemist never produced too much. We can’t afford to be slowed down.”

That is a concern, Peter thought. He hadn’t seen any wildlife the caravan could capture or farm and no crops or fruit trees would likely withstand the battering winds of the maelstrom if it travelled over them. If Peter had more time and at least a few seeds, he could have developed a hydroponic system and grown plants, but they would run out of their stores before he could raise them to the point of food production. Not to mention he had no seeds.

How was Peter going to solve a problem in a few days that had plagued the caravan for... who knows how long?

Perhaps Peter was looking at the problem the wrong way. The never ending maelstrom that haunted the caravan surely couldn’t be natural. Peter wasn’t a big believer in magic, but he had witnessed some amazing technological wizardry since arriving in Markov. Could the maelstrom be a product of another piece of advanced weather manipulation equipment?

If so, could the device responsible be whirling about in the gale? How would they even go about testing such a hypothesis? Countless pieces of metal spun about them; there was no way to identify or even reach all of it to find out.

There would be a solution. They just had to work it out.

“Well, we’re all in this together,” Peter said to Joal. “If we put our heads together, I’m sure we’ll find our way out.”

536 words.
 

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As the young man noticed Labor getting closer he quickly moved to their side (he was afraid he would get crushed in front of them) to try and stop them. “P-Please don’t touch that.” His stuttering voice came out, “ It’s v-very beat up and its important that, that it doesn’t get anymore broken this it already, i-is.”


“Gabriel… Sleigh… Where… Gabrie?l” The lanky scarecrow moans, staring at the familiar object in front of them.

“W-Wait. Y-y-you know what this is?”

“Gabriel… Sleigh.” The creature pointed at the red object, it definitely recognized it. Maybe this was a good thing.

Elon starting frantically searching around the room, searching every capient and loose pile of paper… maybe he should clean up in here every once in awhile. “A-ah, Found it!” they said triumphantly, holding a worse for wear piece of paper, various places on it being shocked and/or ripped. “I-I think this for you”

I’m sorry that I had to leave from the party so suddenly and that I couldn’t stay, but an elf’s work is never I’m afraid. I have to go back home and give my own kids presents before getting to work on the non-christmas related tasks santa gets us to do, it wouldn’t be a very good business if it only ran for a month or two a year now would it? But as thanks for your help, so as a reward (and it would just be strapped for a new one for being damaged despite it still having uses) I give you the sleigh. Take care of the old girl, would you?

~See you next year, Gabriel


As labor read the note, what sounded like a deep, groveling moan, but was probably just a sigh of relief, escaped their mouth. At least Gabriel was safe.

“Well, s-since this is yours… I p-probably won’t be able to help anyone, huh…” The doctor’s voice seemed defeated somehow, like whatever he was trying to do was blocked off.

Labor went to say something but the Old man would had been sitting back on the conversation stepped in. “What do you mean by that young man?”

“I-I mean… I measured a weird energy reading from the sleigh when I found it. I t-thought if I could harness it I could use it to get everyone out of here safely. B-but, if this is someone else’s I can’t just use it, you probably want it back, don’t you big guy.” The pile of metal nodded Hesitantly. “W-well, guess there’s nothing i can do about it. I’ll never follow in my f-father’s footsteps..”

“You know you don’t ne-”

“...Help…” A low growl sounded. “I… Help… You.”

“R-really?” The young male seemed surprised. Labor Nodded. “T-thank you.”

The old man sighed. “Well, if that’s what you’ve both decided… I would suggest yous try and win the nomination ceremony, that would be the closest step to achieve on your path.” He seemed disheartened, but at least he understood, unlike before in his life...

500 words
 
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