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Summary[]

Join Alex, Helen, Bryn, Lydia and Ben as they adjust to their new normal aboard the Vengeance.

This week Hamid has a moment of clarity, Azu feels tall again, Cel keeps an eye on Carter, and Zolf has a discussion with the captain.

Synopsis[]

The entire party is still bodyswapped [see chart here] on the airship, traveling toward Svalbard. Skraak has just finished reassuring the rest of the kobolds that things will be fine. They are up at the stern, and Hamid heads up there. He’s struggling a bit with being in Azu’s body, but Zolf’s healing has helped. Skraak, meanwhile, is struggling to speak a bit - transitioning from having fangs to not having fangs (and vice versa) has left the kobolds, and anyone in a kobold body, sounding a bit off as they get used to it. and Hamid pulls them aside, asking to have a conversation, and Skraak agrees. They head down to a cabin on the lower deck, and Hamid asks how the rests of the kobolds are doing. Skraak mentions specifically that Sassraa is struggling more than the rest, although he isn’t sure why. Hamid says that they can speak to Zolf about it, and then thanks Skraak for helping to keep the kobolds calm when everyone was waking up in the cell. He mentions that Skraak is a natural leader, and says that he’s impressed with how Skraak has been conducting themselves with the kobolds. Skraak mostly brushes off the compliment; this is what he is meant to do. Hamid then goes on to talk about how he’s relieved that things haven’t been worse, but then changes tack to talk about leadership more than anything else. He refers back to an earlier conversation with Skraak, saying that they mentioned it would get easier, but that Hamid doesn’t really understand why the kobolds have come to follow him.

Skraak takes a long pause, looking at Hamid, and then finally says that Hamid isn’t what all of the kobolds were worried he would turn out to be. Hamid is confused by this, asking for clarification, and Skraak waffles for a bit, before revealing that he and the other kobolds haven’t been completely honest about why the kobolds returned to the party after the incident at Shoin’s lab. He explains that it’s a complicated situation, and that they’re mostly there to keep an eye on all of the party - and especially Hamid, due to the massacre of the kobolds at the Shoin Institute. Skraak is incredibly fidgety as he reveals this, and seems to be very uncomfortable and unsure of how to explain it to Hamid. He recounts how the party all came into the Institute and left things very messy behind them; Skraak adds that the kobold’s came along on this mission to watch the party and, fundamentally, ensure they weren’t the bad guys and would become the kobolds enemies.

This seems to deeply affect Hamid, who immediately says that he understands what Skraak means and that it’s a relief to him, since he felt a lot of pressure from the idea that the kobolds were looking to him as a leader. He confesses that he’s always wanted to be a leader, but that he isn’t; he adds that he was nominally the leader after Zolf left, but that that was only on paper. [Editor's note: this contradicts what he said earlier, in The Chatter Box.]

The idea that the kobolds were simply following him and kneeling to him after Hamid’s actions in the lab had been putting undue pressure on him, and he’s been incredibly worried about making a mistake. He says that Skraak is much better at this than him, and says that Skraak should be the leader, instead of him, before realising (and sounding slightly disappointed) that maybe that’s always been the case. He apologises to Skraak, and then Skraak takes a moment, before telling Hamid that he needs to hear something. They then reveal that the elders of the kobolds sent the group after the party because they thought Hamid and the rest would be a risk. Hamid understands, and Skraak continues, adding that they have now come to learn that Hamid isn’t a risk to the kobolds, but that he isn’t a leader. Hamid agrees with Skraak, and reminds Skraak that he owes the kobolds a debt, before adding that this seemed like a chance to make up for his actions. He continues in this vein, confessing that he thinks he’s only made things worse. Skraak interrupts as Hamid continues to spiral, saying that the kobolds are not here as an inconvenience. This is an opportunity for them to see more of the world and report back to the elders, so they are benefiting from it as well.

A three-panel digital sketch of Hamid (in Azu's body, a Black female orc in armour) and Skraak (in Kiko's, a human woman with shoulder-length hair) having a conversation. In the first panel, Skraak is standing there facing Hamid, while Hamid's arm is stretching out toward him. In the second panel, Hamid and Skraak have both swiveled away from each other, both looking incredibly awkward as they realise that they aren't in their proper bodies, In the third panel, they are both leaving; both hit their heads on the doorframe if they head out of the door.

Hamid (in Azu's body) and Skraak (in Kiko's body head off after their conversation. Art by @bagelwhalee on tumblr. Used with permission.

Skraak briefly returns to one of Hamid’s earlier points, agreeing that he should be in charge, not Hamid, and adds that this isn’t a decision they can make all alone since there are a number of factors at play. Hamid slumps at that, completely distraught. Skraak adds a bit of levity, joking about how it could be worse and Carter could have been the first one in. Hamid doesn’t really engage with this, and goes on to acknowledge that no one else causes as much destruction as him. He asks where they will go from there; Skraak, jokingly, responds with ‘North’. Skraak gets serious again, explaining that the goal is the same, and that there is a lot of context, things are very broken, and they will take a while to fix. Hamid acknowledges this, and says that he wishes to explain more about the mission and what happened to the world, but that he was also missing for all of it. Skraak starts to fidget again, looking distinctively uncomfortable, and then tells Hamid that he should speak with the other kobolds without him present. Hamid doesn’t seem all that confident in this idea, but Skraak reassures him, and then adds that the kobolds hate Hamid’s clothes. Hamid’s nonplussed by this, and Skraak clarifies that there aren’t enough pockets, and that by kobold standards, Hamid is a terrible tailor. Hamid says that the clothes were just meant to help protect the kobolds from the cold, and offers to fix the clothes if the kobolds like. Skraak continues suggesting different additions that Hamid could make to the clothes, and Hamid seems all for it, if a little confused. He then thanks Skraak for revealing the true reason that the kobolds were there, and re-asserts that his role is to serve the kobolds as opposed to leading them. Skraak disagrees with this, however; they say that Hamid doesn’t have a role, and that he should start to accept that. They tell Hamid to continue fixing things, and then leave.

Two pictures of James Barnes, in Sassraa's body ( a red kobold). The larger picture is off Barnes holding his tail. Next to it is a small doodle of him stumbling away, awkward on his feet as his tail shakes.

Barnes, in Sassraa's body, is having trouble controlling his tail. Art by @bagelwhalee on twitter. Used with permission

Cel, meanwhile, is concerned about Carter not listening to their instructions to be respectful to whoever’s body you’re in, and has been monitoring him to ensure that he isn’t acting up. They know Carter is belowdecks, and begins to follow him; as they get closer, they notice that piston 12 isn’t firing right, and that something is in the way. They continue on to the engine room, and hear the sounds of a scuffle; inside, there are two kobolds fighting (more like a slap fight). Cel realises that it’s Barnes, in Sassraa’s body, and Carter, in Natun’s body, and steps in to pull them apart. Barnes tells them to get Carter, and Cel does, grabbing him - Carter attempts to pretend to be Barnes, but Cel just gets him in a headlock. Barnes explains that Carter has been acting up ever since the switch, and Cel mentions that they’ve been following him to keep track, and thanks Barnes for keeping an eye on him as well. They ask if there is something urgent to deal with, but Barnes just shrugs and says it’s Carter (so, standard). Cel sighs, and then mentions that they can just go and put Carter in the antimagic cell to keep an eye on him, and Barnes immediately agrees; Cel asks how Barnes is after the fight, and Barnes says that he isn’t a fan of Carter having a few pounds on him. Cel reassures Barnes, saying that they have a few feet on Carter, so things will be fine. They head off toward the antimagic cell; Carter is still struggling a bit, but eventually settles down. Even so, neither of them are able to control their tails. Barnes clearly hates his, and is holding onto his as he walks. Cel sympathises, and Barnes exclaims that the tail doesn’t go where he wants it. Cel goes on to explain that it’s just something you have to get used to; they struggled a lot with wings, at first, but now they have a lot more control when they transform.

Digital art of Cel Sidebottom and James Barnes sitting next to each other. Cel is a tall half-elf, with blond vertical hair, a long coat, and goggles on their head. Barnes, meanwhile, is in Sassraa's body, and appears as a red kobold with a breastplate and long horns. Cel is smiling over at Barnes.

Barnes (in Sassraa's body) and Cel share a nice chat while keeping Carter locked up. Art by @bagelwhalee on twitter. Used with permission.

They eventually make it to the antimagic cell. Carter keeps tapping Cel on the shoulder with his tail, and then they put him in the cell, lecturing him about being more polite and responsible with someone else’s body. Carter says that Natun can do whatever they want with his body, and Cel says that that really isn’t the point; Carter just seems to be argumentative now, and Cel leans against the door to keep it shut while he grumbles. Barnes, meanwhile, asks Cel if he can get them anything; they just ask for some company, and ask Barnes about himself. Carter interjects, asking how Barnes became such an arse, and Barnes tells him to shut up. Cel ignores this, asking what Barnes wants to do when all of this is over. He says that he loved patrolling the Channel, explaining where it is to Cel; they seem intrigued, mentioning London and their father, but trail off before explaining more. Barnes goes on, saying that his station was meant to be a punishment detail since nothing ever happened there, but he enjoyed it a lot. His ideal “home” is to be somewhere on the French coast, not on a ship. He does want his own boat, just for fun, but admits that he doesn’t know how to fish. Cel perks up at this, explaining the many different ways to fish and how they’ve experimented in the past. They start chatting about spearfishing - Barnes seems interested, but confesses that he wasn’t good at sword-fishing. Cel offers to build a boat with Barnes, if they have time. Carter just says to use a net, and both Cel and Barnes ignore him, continuing to talk about different methods of fishing and what Barnes wants after this is all over. It’s a lovely chat; they both are sitting against the door, keeping it shut.

While this is all happening, Zolf is wandering around the ship, checking in on people to make sure that they’re doing okay. Everyone is being very courteous to each other, due to the circumstances. Sassraa - in Earhart’s body - comes up to Zolf, clearly trying to be noticed but not initiating contact. Zolf asks what they need, and Sassraa responds in very broken English that they need help. He can tell that they’re suffering from physical withdrawal symptoms due to being in Earhart’s body, and that they need to be put on bedrest in order to recover from the symptoms. She doesn’t completely know how to explain, and isn’t sure what’s going on (they seem to be embarrassed by this). Zolf tells them that Earhart was addicted to alcohol, and Sassraa finally seems to get it - he continues to explain that Sassraa is dealing with these physical symptoms because she’s in Earheart’s body, and that they should go lay down and sleep it off until they’re able to deal more with the body swap, or the withdrawal. They’re officially relieved from duty, and Zolf tells them to not do anything physically taxing for the time being. Sassraa takes this all in, gives Zolf a thumbs up, and leaves; Zolf calls an awkward goodbye after them, and then goes to find Earhart.

He heads over to her cabin, knocking on her door and then entering. Earhart is just sitting in the room, hands in her lap, staring at them. Zolf greets her, and then asks how she is. Earhart takes a moment to respond, seemingly dissociating a bit, and remarks on how strange it is. She asks how everyone else is doing, and Zolf fills her in. Earhart still doesn’t look up from her hands, doing nothing apart from slowly rotating them and clenching them. Zolf realises that Earhart is not coping well with the change, and knows that there are two ways this could go - one very bad, and one not so bad; at this stage, it could go either way. Zolf mutters to himself, wondering if he should get Azu, but decides against it, going over to Earhart and slipping his hands into her own. He tells her that it’s going to be okay, and realises that Earhart is trembling. Her hands start to clench, without her having noticed, and her talons are digging into his skin. Zolf doesn’t acknowledge this aloud, or complain, and Earhart sits there for a while, quiet. Eventually, she speaks up, saying that nothing looks different. Zolf is confused for a moment, but cottons on, asking what she expected. Earhart releases his hands and stands for a moment, before sitting back down. He tells her to talk it through, and Earhart confesses that she thought it would feel different. Zolf kneels down in front of her and asks if she thought she was going to suddenly start worshipping dragons now that she’s in the body of a kobold.

Earhart starts to stammer; she’s clearly embarrassed that Zolf pegged it correctly. She immediately changes the subject, telling Zolf to go heal the others, and pulls out some paper as she rearranges some clearly blank paper. Zolf doesn’t listen immediately, instead asking for permission to speak freely. She doesn’t completely give it, instead asking Zolf when he hasn’t done so, and he continues, telling her to use this and not run away from it. Earhart asks, mostly to herself, why she allowed there to be a ship’s counselor, and Zolf reminds her that he’s the first mate. He again tells her to use this and keep moving forward; Earhart doesn’t address it, telling Zolf to go stop another mutiny. He leaves, and the moment he does, the sounds of paper shuffling stop.

Three panels of Hamid (in Azu's body, who is a Black orc wearing armor and a large, fluffy coat) letting Azu (in Meerk's body, a small red kobold who also has a fluffy coat on) ride around on his shoulders. In the first panel, Azu is reaching her arms up for Hamid to pick her up. In the second, Azu is climbing up Hamid. In the third panel, Azu is sitting comfortably on Hamid's shoulders.

Hamid, in Azu's body, lets Azu, in Meerk's body, sit on his shoulders. Art by @bagelwhalee on twitter. Used with permission.

Azu, meanwhile, goes to look for Hamid after he’s finished up his conversation with Skraak. Hamid has gone to do some basic work on the ship; he had intended to speak with Sassraa, but saw Zolf send her off and will speak with her later. [Meta note: the cast spends about 5 minutes discussing the mechanics of the ship itself at this point.] Hamid is currently updating the maps and charts they have; they’re still on the correct route, but he’s realising that they moved faster than they should have through the borealis. Azu comes up to him, sounding uncharacteristically awkward as she asks how Hamid is. Hamid says that it’s all very strange, and Azu stumbles over her words a bit before saying that she doesn’t like being small. Hamid sympathises; he’s struggling to accommodate to not being small. He goes on to compliment Azu’s strength, and Azu agrees with him. She then holds out her arms, silently asking to be picked up, and Hamid puts her up on his shoulders so that Azu can be tall again (Hamid cuddles Azu on the way up.) [Meta note: Bryn is trying to win the hug counter.]

Quotes[]

Alex: "Everyone says, y'know, that I do a lot of horror. Truly the most horrible thing that I've done is there was an entire musical number of 'Be Our Guest' , but I just refused to give any of the objects mouths."
Helen: "I have no mouth but I must sing."
―Alex's craft is horrifying.

Hamid: "I’m so relieved that everyone is at least on some level okay. It could have been a lot worse and I just… I have to ask, Skraak, I — it’s been a while, and you said it would get easier and I suppose it has in a sense but I still don’t really know — I still don’t really understand why you’re here, why you came to find me, and why any of you…"
Skraak: "It helps that you aren’t what everyone thought you might be."
Hamid: "I — what did you think I might be, Skraak?"
Skraak: "I might not have been… one hundred percent truthful with you… for why we are here."
Hamid: "H-how, how do you mean?"
Skraak: "It’s more complicated than just trying to help. Ehm. We’re more here to keep tabs on you and the rest of the group as much as we are to… help."
―Skraak tells Hamid the truth about why he's here.

Skraak: "You all swept in when everything was awful, and you did so… messily? And everyone was ready to jump… uh… there’s a phrase, ehm, it doesn’t — I don’t — to jump from the, ehm, to jump from the fire to the volcano?"
Hamid: "Yes."
Skraak: "Do you know this phrase?"
Hamid: "We have a similar one, yes."
Skraak: "We have all been ready to jump from the fire to the volcano. My job and my helpers are as much to spot if the volcano is going to erupt as it is to help you. This is, this is difficult. Erm. Better strong allies than strong enemies when there’s so much going wrong."
Hamid: "Oh… I… I suppose I see what you mean i-in a sense, I, I guess that’s kind… a relief in a way… I didn’t… the idea that all of you were… following me and… looking to me for leadership, it, Skraak, I’ve always wanted to, to be a leader. I know that probably sounds childish but I never have been and I don’t… I mean, on paper, I used to supposedly, the, back when it was… me and Azu and Sasha and Grizzop — but I never was, I didn’t have to be, they — we all did what we knew we had to and no one ever looked to me for leadership and… the idea that you all would come to me and kneel to me after, after what I did t-to, to you, to your people, I just… Skraak, I’ve been so scared of making mistakes and I just… you’ve been so understanding and patient and I just… you’re a — you’re just much better at this than I ever have been and I just think… you should be — but maybe you are already in charge, and maybe it wasn’t — you never really were following me and maybe that… [sighs] I’m sorry, I don’t know what I’m, don’t know what I, where I’m going really."
―Hamid is relieved at not being a leader.

Skraak: "I will tell you a thing that I think you should know not because it will help but because it is important. The elders, let’s say, that sent me here, sent me and the others not because we thought you might be a leader but because you thought you might be a risk."
Hamid: "Yes. Yes, I suppose that makes sense, I…"
Skraak: "Over this time I have learnt two things, Hamid. You are not a risk. But I am afraid at the moment, you are not much of a leader, either."
Hamid: "No. No, no I agree, I agree. I… I hope… I hope I’m not a risk. I- I told you, Skraak, I told you I owe your people a debt and this… this seemed like the only way I’d have a chance to make up for what I did and… I’m just, I feel like I’m making everything worse and I just don’t think that..."
Skraak: "You — our presence here… is not an inconvenience. We have now a lot of the world we need to understand and see again very quickly. We are seeing a lot of the world very quickly on this journey."
Hamid: "Good. Good, I’m glad, yes, I, that —"
Skraak: "As to whether I should be in charge… I think you are probably right. Unfortunately, I still, uh, the, the nest is not complete, I-I do not have all of the pieces to make such decisions."
Hamid: "What do you mean, Skraak?"
Skraak: "Context! There’s so much context. I can’t make any big decisions — I don’t want to just rush in and blow stuff up."
―Hamid and Skraak talk risks, leadership, and context.

Skraak: "It could be worse? Could you imagine what would have happened if Carter was the first one in?"
Hamid: "Skraak… maybe, I, but… no one else quite causes… destruction the same way I do."
―Hamid and Skraak talk about destruction.

Skraak: "Look, there is lots of context but… the goal is still the same. Stuff is broken so we fix it. It’s just that the stuff that is broken is… very big and very broken."
Hamid: "Yes. It — the… things are very, very broken, I… mm."
Skraak: "So, things need very fixing."
Hamid: "Yes. I wish I could give you more of the context, but… given what happened to us, I also… lack a great deal of understanding about the situation the world is in right now, I —"
Skraak: "I think you might benefit… I think you might benefit from talking with the other kobolds without me for a bit."
Hamid: "They’ve all seemed so scared of me, so unwilling to — I haven’t wanted to impinge on them too much."
Skraak: "Thankfully you haven’t seemed to blow up much while we’ve been here, so… it’s fine I guess?"
Hamid: "I.. I hope so. I hope so. Um. Thank you."
―Hamid and Skraak talk about goals.

Hamid: "Skraak, thank you, and thank you for your honesty, it… it means a lot that you trust me enough to be honest and… I’m just glad, and I’m still gonna do my best… not to lead any of you but to… to serve you, I guess. To— I think that should be my role, I…"
Skraak: "I don’t think you have a role, and I think you might need to stop thinking like that. Just keep fixing things."
Hamid: "Yes. Yes, uh, that’s, um, good advice. Thank you — thank you, Skraak."
―Skraak gives Hamid some advice.

Dice rolls & mechanics[]

  • Hamid makes a Diplomacy check talking to Skraak: 21
  • Cel makes a Perception check on Carter:
  • Zolf makes a Perception check on Sassraa: 29
  • Zolf makes a Heal check on Sassraa: nat 20
  • Zolf makes a Sense Motive check on Earhart: 19
  • Zolf makes another Sense Motive check on Earhart: 25
  • Hamid makes a Profession (airship navigator) check: 18

Plot Notes[]

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