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Let's Play: Lovecraft - 'The Terror in the Crags' (Complete)

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by grotsnik, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Consummate, you say? Sounds good. :roll:
     
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  2. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    *

    Walking with Jezebel, you deliberately slow your pace to a dawdle, forcing Whipple to walk on past you. He glowers, and then strides onwards past the trundling cart.

    You may not be a tough guy or a marksman, but you haven’t been a professor at Miskatonic for a decade now without learning about the right words for the right occasion. With careful, quiet hints and thoughtful questions, letting her mind lead her to her own conclusions, you think you’ve managed to convince her that James’ motives on this expedition may not be all they seem to be.
    She shakes her head, a little sadly.
    “There’s something wrong, terribly wrong, about all of this,” she tells you. “What happened to those workers…and the way Professor Hurley smiled at me. Ugh! I thought he was being kind.”

    You’re walking close now. Her hand slips into yours, and clasps it tight.
    “You’re the only one I can trust,” she says, and smiles at you.

    *

    You stumble in under the great grey arch of the fortress.
    “The Eyes On The Cliff, they used to call it,” James shouts, his voice echoing through the immense passageway. “Kept watch for British ships approaching from the south. Built to be near-impregnable.”

    “What happened there?” Jezebel murmurs from beside you. She’s gazing down at an enormous crack in the stone wall; the side of the archway has begun to sag as a result. “I thought this place didn’t see any fighting.”
    “From the end of the war, miss,” someone growls. You glance around, and to your surprise, realise that it’s one of the dull-eyed locals who’s speaking. An older man, with a shock of white hair in the middle of the grey.
    “They moved the battalion out and west,” he says. “Left a token few men to maintain it. Well, it got to ‘em, just a couple of young local lads up here, locked behind these walls away from their sweethearts. One boy, Jess Tremaine, went worse than the rest. Blew up the powder kegs beneath our feet – you’ll see the damage to the south-west wall, miss, once we’re in the courtyard – took his rifle and started shooting.” His sea-weathered face is pale. “Lot of sweet young boys of Dynhill perished in this damned place,” he adds.
    Jezebel touches him softly on the arm.
    “I’m sorry, sir,” she tells him.
    He nods.
    “Best be helping them unload the cart,” he mutters. “’Scuse me, miss... good luck.”

    Gulls erupt from above you; the courtyard is huge, and the stone walls high. Turning back, you can see where the south-west side has begun to collapse, presumably from the explosion the old man mentioned.
    James is standing over a large, protruding rock in the very centre of the cobbles. He looks up as you approach.
    “We’ll set up the ladders and the harness under the southern wall,” he says. “There’s a little battlement, for the cannons; we can make the climb down to the temple from there.”
    His aging face is open, and smiling. The smile of a very old friend.
    “But this,” he tells you, kicking gently at the rock, “is to whet your appetite, Stephen. A marker-stone; the boundary of the sacred ground. Apparently even the soldiers were afraid to move it. So they simply…built around it. It’s how I even got wind of this place to start with.”
    You stoop, and try to make out the faint, rain-washed markings across the base of the stone.

    Welcome, traveller, to my golden hall.

    But there’s something else, as well; fainter scratchings beneath the scratchings, too heavily-eroded to be made out. Words beneath words.

    *

    As the workers begin to unload the cart, you slip away out of the courtyard.
    If there was one boundary stone,” you mutter, aloud, “there’ll be more. In the temple's outer circle...”
    In a narrow, shaded passageway near the north wall, you find what you’re looking for. A narrow slab of granite, half-tucked into a small doorway. You kneel, and peer down at it.

    Welcome, traveller, to my golden hall.

    But the lettering here has been partially obscured; the symbols have been scratched at, and other, fresher symbols etched over them. Mesopotamian in their depictions, perhaps, but not in any language you recognise. And beneath both of the patterns, faintest of all, you’re certain you can make out more pictographs, in a similar style to the most recent markings.
    There was a war here,” you mutter, aloud. “Its battles centuries apart; its worshippers on both sides seeking to cross out the other side’s culture. Or…perhaps…not a war, perhaps an equation…”“Praying for forgiveness, Professor?”
    You look up.

    Whipple is leaning against the far wall of the passageway, smoking a cigar. His revolver is hanging ostentatiously at his hip.
    “Saw you was keepin’ an eye on me keepin’ an eye on you earlier on the road,” he says, conversationally. “Figured we should talk. Name of Josiah Henry mean anything to you, Professor?”
    “No,” you reply, shortly. Anger darkens his face.
    “No,” he says, eventually. “Thought you’d say that.”
    He reaches inside his pocket and produces a tiny, framed photograph. You get to your feet, and take it from him.
    A young man, obviously in his best clothes, his hair slicked back to one side; smiling nervously towards the camera.

    “Had his picture taken right before he left for Miskatonic,” Whipple says. “His mother wanted a keepsake. Josiah Henry. Your friend Professor Hurley’s new assistant. Came with him last time he was in this damned place. Never came back. Ringin’ any bells now, Buch?”
    “Well, James never mentioned him to me,” you say, handing the photograph back. “Mr Phillips, can I ask-”
    “-and this,” Whipple continues, ignoring you, “is a telegram I got this morning down at the post office. Told Hurley I was going to check for news about my grandchild.”
    You take the proffered sheet of paper, unfold it, and read.

    JOSIAH HENRY FOUND STOP BEDROOM OF J.HURLEY IN LOWER AVENUE STOPMUTILATION SEVERE MURDER HIGHLY SUSPECTED STOP IF POSSIBLE SECURE A RETURN TO ARKHAM IMMEDIATELY STOP

    Whipple’s fingers are trembling on the butt of his revolver.
    “You sick bastards,” he hisses. “What did you do? What did you do to him? Some occult bullcrap? You thought that boy’s life was gonna bring your hoodoo suddenly decide to work? I knew him, goddammit!”
    You fold the paper again, slowly.
    “If you think I’m involved in any of this,” you ask, slowly, “then why are you telling me?”
    “Because I ain’t afraid of you,” he says, calming down. “And I’m thinkin’ this might be a good time for you to come clean. I don’t know what you boys have been planning – that caper with the five workers, the chanting in the manor, that white-dressed bitch you got following me about – and I don’t give a shit either. You ain’t gonna try and fight me, you university fops aren't gonna run off into some goddamn wilderness…either you get caught, or you confess voluntarily.”
    He flicks away the cigar, and turns to go.
    “Hurley’s going to be in handcuffs the second we step back into Arkham,” he says. “You might want to think about whether you want to join him.”
    “Whipple,” you call back. “You really think any of us are going to make it back to Arkham?”
    He stops, and turns back towards you.
    His face goes pale. And his hands, slowly, go to his revolver.

    You spin about.

    An old woman, her face half-hidden beneath the cobwebs of white hair, is standing at the end of the passageway. Her hands are clasped behind her back. She’s tall, and dressed all in white.
    Meg Polack.

    Whipple takes a step towards you. He’s keeping his revolver trained on the old woman. His hands, however, are trembling.
    “All right,” he hisses, and you can hear the fear in his voice now. “You just call your bitch off, Buch. I’ll shoot her if I have to. God help me, I'll shoot the pair of you.”

    A) "She's nothing to do with me. Shoot her!"
    B) Shove Whipple towards her, and run.
    C) Take advantage of the distraction; tackle Whipple to the ground.
    D) "Don't shoot her, Whipple. I don't think she means to harm us."
    E) Other. (I don't know. Something else. You think of it.)
     
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  3. TheLostOne Savant

    TheLostOne
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    Hmm.... Let's go with D. Our good professor has not proven to be the most agile of physical specimens so I doubt tackling Whipple is the best option.

    Don't want him to shoot the old woman, but better her than us getting hit in the crossfire.

    Nice atmospheric update btw!

    :thumbsup:
     
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  4. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
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    D
    I'm sick of this internecine fussin' and feudin'. We're supposed to work together and still get devoured one by one.
     
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  5. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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  6. Chef_Hathaway King of the Juice Patron White Knight

    Chef_Hathaway
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  7. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    :twisted:
     
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  8. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    “Don’t shoot her, Whipple,” you hiss. “I don’t think she means to harm us.”
    White pupils, in the shadows. Meg Polack’s hair seems to flicker, back and forth, as she laughs.
    thecolouredelementsthefourgreathallsbypassingthefrozendreamthemeetingplaceyouseeitinyoursleepdon’tyoustephenstephenyouseeitinyoursleepthethresholdoftheprince’shousetheoozingshapelessnessthefallenmaskthewaroftheseaandtheland-
    You scream. The mask fills your mind.
    Whipple is shrieking too, high-pitched, like a child-
    Theshootingstarstheburninglighttheancientcataclysmthewaroftheseaandthelandthewaroftheseaandthelandthewaroftheseaandtheland-
    A loud retort. An explosion of fire.

    Your limbs give way beneath you. As you topple down towards the ground, your eyes force themselves to focus into the empty passageway where the old hag had been standing just a few seconds before.
    You barely feel the impact of your fall at all. Your limbs curl inwards, into the foetal position. Your broken arm seems to fold in on itself.
    “She can’t get through,” you gabble. “She can’t get through to us, not here, not really into our heads. We’re in sacred ground now. We’re inside the circle. We’re inside the circle.”
    Beside you, leant against the far wall, Whipple repeats, very quietly, to himself,
    “The shooting stars. The war of the sea and the land. I’ve seen too much. I’ve seen too much.”

    You raise your head.
    “Should have heard the gunshot,” you whimper. “They should have heard it. Where are they? What’s happened to them?”
    Whipple has his eyes closed now.
    “You saw it too,” he says. “The shooting stars. The burning light. Who is the Stone Man? Who is the Stone Man?”
    You try to close your eyes, but you can still see it all.
    “The Stone Man,” you mumble. “The Stone Man waits for us at the Meeting-Place below. In his temple.”
    Your dreams are unravelling; their images as sharp as photographs. Your head pulses and aches. Whispers run along the back of your spine.
    “They came with the stars,” you manage. “The Stone Man and his…disciples. The Old Woman, she…she rose from the sea. The stars were her birthing pool, but she dwelt too long in the water and the stars had forgotten her. And the war…the war between them, the dance written in the blood of our world, their motives uncertain, their need to…their need to…”
    Every word sears at your consciousness.
    “They didn’t hear the shot,” you whisper, “because they’ve gone below. They’ve slipped down into the crags. They’ve taken Jezebel there. They want to…something. There’s…we have to save her, Whipple. We have to.”
    He simply nods.
    “I’ve travelled to every corner of this earth,” he says. “And I never until this moment caught sight of anything that made me truly afraid. That…that creature…when she got close, it was as if…as if…”

    He falls quiet for a moment. His hand clutches at the revolver, feverish, as if trying to keep hold of something solid.
    “I will never see the towers of New York City again,” he murmurs. “I will never see my grandson’s face. But…damnation…we have to try and get that poor girl out of there.”

    *

    The two of you, leaning on each other, emerge out onto the southern ramparts. The great keep is deserted. The cart lies, abandoned, on the edge of the promontory. And, stretching out below, the great night of the ocean and the faint torches of Dynhill.
    You can barely make out Whipple’s expression in the darkness as he leans over towards the battlements. He tugs at the rope guylines that have been hammered into the stone.
    “The ladder’s still here,” he murmurs. “Which means they want to come back up.”
    “Or they want us to come down,” you reply.

    You gaze out into the night; and, far below, you notice something strange. The great burning light.
    “Dammit,” Whipple says, from behind you, with a curious sort of calm. “They’ve thrown away all the ammunition. I think there’s another Colt in with the rest of the guns, if they haven’t got rid of that too. We’ll split my bullets. That’s what we’ll do.”
    “Whipple,” you say, taking a step back. “Whipple, the Jermyn house is on fire.”
    The blaze must be enormous; it towers over the tiny lights of the town. From up here it’s little bigger than your thumb-nail. The flame is almost pure white.
    “What does that mean?” Whipple asks. "Who's...who's doing the burning?"
    “The townsfolk must have set it alight,” you tell him. “There was…in the halls below…a thing…a thing…I think it may have once been Arthur Jermyn.”
    Whipple clears his throat.
    “The townsfolk,” he asks. “The locals Hurley’s got in the temple with him. Are they…friends to the Stone Man or are they its gaolers?”
    “Either way,” you say, “I think they mean us harm. Which means they’ll be coming here next.”

    Taking the Colt, and the two bullets, and stowing them in your jacket pocket, you put a hand on the end of the rope ladder.
    “Wait,” Whipple says. “We…we have to think about this. Whatever’s down there, whatever Hurley’s got planned…someone has to get the word out. Back to Arkham, and warn them. Warn the world. Warn my family... if one of us could get to the post office, maybe send out a telegram before that mob finds us…”
    “Father Harry could help,” you reply. “He tried to warn us. He told us to leave.”
    “Maybe, sir,” he says. “But we can’t just leave that girl down there either.”

    Whipple silently removes a nickel coin from his pocket, and flips it up into the air. He catches it in one hand.
    “Heads,” you say.
    He glances down at it.
    “Heads it is,” he tells you. “So…your call, Professor. How does a man choose which way he wants to die?”

    A) “I’m going down into that temple, Whipple. Get to Harry; get a message out to Arkham, if you can. With the devil’s luck, you might even make it out of here to see your grandson again.”
    B) “I’ll run it down to Dynhill. Harry knows me; he might be more willing to help. Get to Jezebel, Whipple. Whatever happens, you have to stop that bastard.”
    C) “Let the world burn, and everybody in it. I’m not letting her die tonight. We go down together.”
    D) “I’ll run it down to Dynhill. Harry knows me; he might be more willing to help. Get to Jezebel, Whipple. Whatever happens, you have to stop that bastard.” (Lie: follow Whipple down there afterwards.)
    E) “I’m going down into that temple, Whipple. Get to Harry; get a message out to Arkham, if you can. With the devil’s luck, you might even make it out of here to see your grandson again.” (Lie: wait until Whipple’s gone for help, and then try to run out of this damned town.)
    F) Other.
     
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  9. TheLostOne Savant

    TheLostOne
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    A.

    For in this day and age, what is a man without his honor?

    :salute:
     
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  10. Chef_Hathaway King of the Juice Patron White Knight

    Chef_Hathaway
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  11. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    C) “Let the world burn, and everybody in it. I’m not letting her die tonight. We go down together.”


    Is the only sensible thing to do.
    It will not end well, I know.
     
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  12. PandaBreeder Educated

    PandaBreeder
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    This.
     
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  13. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    This. Let's go solo and maybe even save the girl. :roll:
     
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  14. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
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    C, it sounds more EXTREME (besides we need a meatshie... I mean someone to do the shooting)
     
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  15. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Well, looks like we got a tie to be broken. Where's Yeesh?

    Yeesh!


    Yeesh!

    Edit: Or praetor. Sorry, praetor.
     
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  16. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Uhm, flip a coin? :roll:
     
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  17. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Yeah, I guess so. It's tough out here for us niche, hard-core, small-audience IFs, you know. Mainstream fellas like that Barbarian don't know how hard it really is...
     
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  18. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
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    Sorry, I was in a place as terrifying as any the most twisted mind could dream up - the South.

    Woefully belated, I vote C . Because nothing matters to us more than some tart. Nothing.
     
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  19. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    *shudder* Ah, well. At least you got out of that hellish place in one piece. That's the important thing.

    Update tomorrow. Will probably include vintage popamole. And, since you've only got 2 bullets, it's likely to be fairly short popamole. But, more importantly, rather than giving Whipple a chance to get away, you've decided to head into the temple

    with the man whom I'm very slightly disappointed nobody thought to Google. Shame on all of you. Well, you know what I'm going to do now? I'm going to kill hm off, rendering all Lovecraftian literature impossible and wiping out my own LP through the power of paradox. Bwahaha.
     
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  20. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Your right arm aches. Slowly, very slowly, pressing your upper weight against the swaying rope ladder, you lift it off and lower it to the next rung.

    From far below, Whipple shouts something, but it’s lost in the roaring winds.

    Your trembling legs shift down to the next rung.

    Whipple continues to yell. It sounds like,

    “The fog! The fog!”

    Three agonising rungs further down the face of the cliff and you understand what he meant. The cruel wind presses a familiar, throat-stinging stench into your face. Tendrils of grey fog creep and hiss all around you.

    Lowering your head into the slight shelter of your shirt, the revolver with its two bullets knocking about at your belt, you continue the descent.

    *

    Whipple’s hand catches you as you take the final step. Your feet touch rock.

    You can barely see the man’s face, shrouded in his raised neckerchief; a putrid mist assails your eyes. He signals at you to do the same.

    “We’re here,” he says. “In among the crags at last.”

    He nods to the left, and tells you,

    “I found the way in. Just press your palms against the surface of the cliffs, and keep shifting east. You can barely see a thing in this damned fog, so careful not to step back – it’s a narrow path.”

    Nodding, you touch your hands against the cold rock, and begin to move.

    *

    The fog’s grip heightens; it swells, like waves, then dies out again, the ghastly odour forcing itself deeper within you. Once, you look up, and think you catch sight of some towering shape moving up amongst the crags.

    Ahead, your companion points and yells,

    “There’s the entrance!”

    Two enormous rocks, forced upright into crude pillars. Strange symbols scratched over one another, traced into the sides. Strangely, you feel no fear, no shock at the sight of them. You recognise the gateway to the meeting-place; you are nearing the heart of your dream-wanderings.

    You do not dare to touch your hands against the Nyarlathotepian markings. Instead, your lips moving, you strain to translate them.

    “This is where it fell,” you murmur. “This was the things’…landing spot, their point of entrance. And although…I do not think they were superstitious, at least not in the conventional sense…it became sacred to them. A fortified point. A dwelling place.”

    “His golden halls,” Whipple says, and shivers.

    It takes him five attempts to light the torch; his hands are too unsteady.

    “Don’t you worry,” he says. “I can aim well enough. Nothing yet found on this earth’s caused me to shoot crooked.”

    He holds the blazing light aloft. For a moment it almost seems to you symbolic – the light of humanity descending into the forgotten, alien places – and you feel a little hopeful.

    “We cannot die here,” you tell yourself. “We are men. We seek out the darkness and we break its hold on us.”

    “Just you follow me, Professor,” Whipple says. “We lose sight of each other, we’ll both be lost.”

    He steps down, between the great stone pillars, into the pitch of the caverns below.

    *

    The writings stain the walls of the tunnel; as you move onwards, they seem to become older and more arcane; hieroglyphs you thought you knew begin to alter in design and some words appear which are entirely new. Several times you have to check yourself and hurry on after the light of Whipple’s torch.

    The history speaks, as you guessed, of a war. A ‘woman-child betrayer’ – you guess, Meg Polack – who, it seems, did not care for the existing rulers’ grip on organised religion, nor the ‘power of the Stone Man’, is mentioned with repeated curses. There are slightly boastful accounts of the number of her followers that have been killed.

    The tunnel curves downwards. Amongst descriptions of peculiar experiments, which often seem to require the use of slaves, hieroglyphs that appear to simply be artistic depictions in honour of the Stone Man, and passages you are completely unable to decipher, the ‘woman-child’ is only mentioned again once.

    -she who greeted the Stone Man, and first received his golden mask-

    “Stephen! Stephen!”

    Jezebel Locke’s voice. Crying out your name, in hideous anguish, through the tunnels.

    “Stephen! Stephen, no!”

    Whipple looks at you. He’s gone very pale.

    “She’s close,” he says.

    Jezebel shrieks, from out of the darkness,

    “Stephen…James! J-James…he says he wants to talk to you! The…the messenger of the Old Hag…but you must not…you must not bring the blazing fire.”

    “He means the guns,” you whisper.

    “He’ll…kill me…take me into the dark…Stephen!”

    Your call.

    a) “Let’s do as it says and leave the weapons behind. We can’t risk it killing her.”
    b) “We go in, but we keep the guns hidden inside our jackets. I think it’s a risk worth taking.”
    c) “I’ll go in alone, Whipple – I’ll try to keep it distracted. You keep your gun and try to sneak up on it.”
    d) “We go in shooting.”
    e) Other.
     
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  21. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
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    your future if you're not careful...
  22. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Oh my, I missed a cool update. :oops:

    I vote B!
     
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  23. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Yeesh, you have both effectively bumped my thread back into life *and* given me an erection. Also, you used the word 'apropos', which is awesome.

    In light of your three epic achievements, you shall receive a mention in this the (possibly) penultimate chapter.
     
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