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Summary[]

Join Alex, Helen, Bryn, Lydia, and Ben as they speak to some departed friends. This week Cel finds a puzzle, Azu is offered a hiding spot, Hamid feels a chill, and Zolf finds what he's looking for.

Synopsis[]

Zolf & Wilde

We begin with Zolf, moving through the city with his eyes closed, somehow moving around objects on instinct. He feels himself moving through the dense part of the city and then to a more open space, heading back towards the dock where he came in. Eventually, he feels his feet hit boardwalk (as opposed to palisade), continues walking, and then is brought to a stop.

A digital illustration of Zolf Smith, a short dwarf, and Oscar Wilde, a tall human, standing on a dock outside the bear city. Wilde is sitting at the end of the dock, with Zolf walking toward him. The dock stretches away from the city, with tall buildings in shades of purple and blue. The sky is colourful, with blues and reds making up clouds; the sky is filled with stars and constellations.

Zolf finds Wilde. Art by @cocoabats on tumblr. Used with permission.

He’s at the edge of the dock, next to a completely fine Vengeance. Wilde is sat on the edge of the dock, legs dangling out under him, looking out at the rolling mountains and forests, clear of fog. The city appears to be floating above the landscape, with no bear underneath to support it. Wilde is slightly younger; he looks like he did back in Paris: well-dressed, good hair, at ease, and lacking his facial scar. Zolf sits down beside Wilde.

Zolf and Wilde greet each other. Zolf asks Wilde if he know what’s happened. Wilde replies that he finally has time for a break, and invites Zolf to join him. Zolf says he’s still got things he wants to do, but needs to know whether Wilde does, too. Wilde suggests that it’s not really his choice, but Zolf insists that he’ll turn around if Wilde wants. Wilde, sounding exhausted, talks about how there will always be things to do; Zolf counters that he wants to do them, but it’s okay if Wilde doesn’t. Wilde says they should just sit for now, so they do. Wilde also mentions how this doesn’t seem to be “his” space — his space would be much nicer, with soft beds and music. Zolf suggests Wilde learn an instrument, but Wilde hints that last time he tried, things went very poorly.

Azu] & Carter

We move to Azu, in a museum, heading in the direction of the shushing. As she moves, she’s clanging through the space, her footsteps echoing on the stone floor — producing more hostile shushing. The more she tries to be quiet, the louder she becomes, and the angrier the hushing sounds. Azu apologizes and calls quietly for “Howard,” “Mr Carter,” and “Professor Carter…?”

She hears the very quiet sounds of pencil on paper in an adjoining room, and heads towards it, finding herself in another room on ancient history. The organization in this room makes no sense — it’s a random assortment of ancient stuff, as if a child designed it. There are a couple of stone benches in the middle of the room, and the scritching sounds come from one of them, though there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the room.

Black and white lineart of Azu and a young Howard Carter. Azu, a Black orc woman, is laying on her stomach under a bench, giving Howard Carter a reassuring smile. He is a young boy, also laying under the bench with a workbook in front of him, and he's giving her an anxious look.

Azu finds a young Carter. Art by @dinnsdale on Tumblr. Used with permission.

Azu calls for Howard again, and a small tousle-haired boy pokes his head out from underneath the bench, gives Azu a terrified, wide-eyed look, and then ducks back. The scritching sounds have stopped. Azu lies does on her front on the bench and looks under it. The child is scooched underneath the stone bench so that no one can see him from the doorway. He has several school books haphazardly laid out in front of him, and seems to be sketching something in a maths book.

Azu greets Howard and he apologetically says he can be quieter, cautioning Azu to be quieter because they don’t like loudness here. Azu says she doesn’t care what they think, but Howard does, because they’re very angry. Azu advises him that it’s not always his fault when people are angry, but Howard says it doesn’t make a difference. He talks about school being “rubbish.” Azu asks him what he’d like to do, and he says that no one’s asked him that before. He complains about Maths and English, but says that he likes drawing. Azu asks to see his drawings, and after some hesitating, he hands them to her.

They’re all drawings overtop Maths homework that is clearly wrong. At first, he’s done still life drawings of objects in the museum, but then has contextualized them, imagining how they’d have been part of real-life environments. The art’s very good, and Azu compliments it. Howard says it doesn’t matter; he has to do what “they” tell him, whether or not he wants to. Azu asks who “they” are, and he just gestures to the doorway.

Azu says that “they” might not come in here when she’s here. She also introduces herself. Howard offers her space under the bench, but Azu says she doesn’t think she’ll fit.

Cel & Sassraa

A digital drawing of Sassraa. She is a red kobold with red wings and brown horns. They are wearing a white jacket with a blue handkerchief wrapped around their neck. They’re giving a thumbs up while holding a magnet in one hand and a beaker filled with green liquid in the other. She is wearing two sets of science goggles. She is sitting on a brown rug and a various array of different coloured pillows. The background is a bright orange. Cel, offscreen, is saying: “Sassraa do you know where we are?” Sassraa responds: “I mean yeah it’s… it’s my place.” Cel says: “It’s a lovely place.” Sassraa responds: “ I know. That’s why it’s mine.”

Sassraa introduces Cel to her place. Art by @bag-chips on tumblr. Used with permission.

We move to Cel, in a long tunnel with a woven mat on the floor. Cel walks towards the warm-looking fire around a bend, hearing the sound of movement echoing through the corridor. They talk quietly and reassuringly in Draconic, in case Sassraa can hear. Sassraa calls to them from further down the tunnel, and Cel jogs to meet her, finding themself in a larger space. There, they find Sassraa, who is now Cel’s height. Around them is what looks like “a quick sketch of a chemistry lab” mashed with “Mr Tumnus’s study.” There’s an open fire leading to a hole in the ceiling; furniture with cushions; and rugs. There’s something cooking on the fire. It seems like Sassraa is assembling a chemistry set.

Cel asks what Sassraa’s making and Sassraa starts discussing possible plans for assembling something, though doesn’t clarify what; they try to put together two completely incompatible pieces. Cel asks Sassraa where they are, and Sassraa says it’s her “place.” Cel compliments them on it, and Sassraa says they can stay.

Black and white lineart of Sassraa and Cel standing in a workshop. Sassraa is a tall kobold, looking larger than she does in real life; they are wearing a lab coat and are half turned around, waving to Cel and smiling. Cel is a tall half-elf, wearing a long coat with a bandolier and goggles, and they are looking up in awe at the rest of the workshop, There are random bottles and other accoutrement in the background.

Sassraa welcomes Cel to their place. Art by @dinnsdale on Tumblr. Used with permission.

Cel, stuttering, says that they can only stay for a while and tries to explain what happened in the crash, but Sassraa interrupts, saying that if she can sort out this puzzle, she’ll go with Cel. Cel offers to help, and Sassraa asks them where a giant conical flask goes. Cel does one or two adjustments to Sassraa’s setup before realizing that the puzzles are unsolvable — every problem that they solve will cause a bigger problem later on.

They take a breath and carefully explain to Sassraa that this is the “ultimate puzzle,” and while it’s wonderful, it will always be unfinished. They reassure Sassraa that it’ll be here when she comes back, but for now, Sassraa could come back and solve the puzzles in the real world.

BREAK

Hamid

We move to Hamid, still sitting outside the ritual space; it’s been about two hours and everything’s been calm and peaceful. He notices it’s getting colder and colder, to the point where it would be unbearable without endure elements. He also notices frost gradually working its way across the ground from the ritual space. It’s not yet reached anyone in the party.

Hamid looks at the kobolds, whose eyes are all closed. He keeps his eyes open, watching for the frost’s progress in case he needs to gently prod the kobolds into moving.

He also notices that a ring of awakened creatures are very gradually and organically forming at the edge of the ritual space. They’re not bowing their heads or interacting, but simply seem to be taking up positions.

Zolf & Wilde

We interrupt Zolf and Wilde playing Never Have I Ever. Zolf suggests getting something to drink, and Wilde leads them to the door of his cabin — which leads into a broad and airy Parisian apartment. Wilde grabs a drink from a cabinet and pours them both spirits.

Zolf comments that the apartment is nicer than he remembers and Wilde replies that it’s only ok — he has big plans, but it’s nice to have somewhere to relax. Zolf is confused; Wilde continues casually, saying that while he’s been busy lately, once he’s out of university, he should look towards a career. Wilde, in this state, still recognises Zolf, but when asked where they met, he has trouble remembering, going out onto balcony. Eventually, he remembers crashing Hamid’s apartment and writing the newspaper story on Bertie, though he’s confused because at this point in his life, he hadn’t yet started writing for a paper. He lightly berates Zolf for asking so many questions, saying that they have all the time in the world.

Zolf tries to make Wilde understand that he’s dead, but Wilde just jokes that Zolf’s being dark and dramatic, insisting again that they sit and have a drink. Zolf, frustrated, asks Wilde if he wants to come back to life, but Wilde just keeps repeating that they need to relax. Zolf says he doesn’t want to relax with a version of Wilde that’s not real. Wilde asks for five more minutes, Zolf says that they’ve already taken five, and Wilde, frustrated, asks Zolf where he wants to go. Wilde opens the front door onto a park at night. Zolf says that he’ll go if Wilde wants him to, but Wilde still needs to make his choice. At this point, Zolf notices that Wilde is getting very angry but hiding it.

Zolf asks Wilde to talk honestly, but Wilde accuses Zolf of being dishonest — he thinks Zolf just wants him to fix everything again. He talks frustratedly about how he’s got finals and interviews coming up and everyone looking to him to fix things or cheating off him. Zolf angrily tries to convince Wilde he’s dead and doesn’t have responsibilities anymore, insisting that he has no other motive than Wilde’s own interest for trying to bring him back. Other people can carry the weight Wilde’s been carrying, and it wouldn’t be fair for Zolf to insist on Wilde coming back.

Digital art of Zolf Smith talking to Oscar Wilde. They are both standing on a balcony, leaning on the railing. Zolf is a dwarven man, with bright white hair, an undercut, and a single-plaited beard. He has freckles and isn't looking at Wilde as he says "because I need you, Wilde." Wilde is a tall human man, wearing a suit, with shoulder-length hair. He is looking down at Zolf. Both of them are coloured in orange, with white wisps of smoke surrounding them.

Zolf and Wilde share a conversation. Art by @bagelwhalee on Twitter. Used with permission.

Wilde still doesn’t understand why Zolf is here, but Zolf explains again that Wilde gets to have this choice. Wilde, more quietly, apologizes and says he’s tired: he’s the only who ultimately has to carry everything. Zolf responds that everyone feels like that all time; Wilde thinks that’s an exhausting way to live. Zolf re-iterates that he can return if Wilde wants. Wilde says he needs a reason to come back, not just the promise of more work. Zolf says, finally, that he needs Wilde, too. He didn’t want to say because he thought it wouldn’t be fair, but Wilde answers that nothing’s fair.

A digital drawing of Zolf and Wilde from the shoulders up. Zolf is tugging Wilde's collar so they're almost eye level, though Wilde is still looking down at him somewhat. Wilde is smirking slightly as he says, "Zolf, I won't come back with you unless you tell me where we're going on holiday together." Zolf is glaring up at him, but they're both blushing slightly. The background is grey, and most of the colors are done in grey tones.

Zolf pulls Wilde down. Art by @pawpotato on tumblr. Used with permission.

Zolf asks Wilde one more time if he wants to come back, and Wilde responds that once they finish their drinks, they’ll return and “figure it out,” like they always do. He’s just glad to know there’s another reason to keep going.

Zolf pulls Wilde down to his height by the lapels and promises that once this is over, the two of them can go on holiday together. Wilde teases Zolf, demanding to know where they’re going to go on holiday, though Zolf realises he’s messing with them.

Azu & Carter

Digital art of young Howard Carter showing Azu his drawings. He is a small boy with short hair, crouched on the ground and looking up at Azu, a Black orc in armour who looks down at him with interest. There are four speech bubbles coming out of Carter's mouth; the first is a bear, the second is a bear "x2", the third is a bear with a dagger looking angry, and the fourth is a six-armed bear, standing on its hind legs and brandishing four daggers "x2".

Carter shows Azu his drawings. Art by @bagelwhalee on Twitter. Used with permission

As Howard continues to draw, Azu feels like she’s reached a static point, where nothing will change unless she makes it. Azu asks Howard how he got here, and Howard replies that he always comes here, because it’s the only place people leave him alone — but Azu can stay, especially cause she can scare off other people. Azu says she’ll fight anyone for him, and Howard starts peppering her with questions about what she’d fight, up to and including two bears with four arms each, holding swords.

Azu asks Howard if he’d like to come out from under the bench, but Howard’s afraid of people yelling at him, especially after Azu leaves; he gives examples of things he’s gotten in trouble for. Azu comments that Howard seems to like breaking rules, but he says he doesn’t like breaking them, they’re just stupid.

Azu, reaching her hand out, says that he can come out and she’ll hit people with her axe if they yell at him. He asks what he’ll do when she’s not there, but she reiterates that right now, he can depend on her, and she’d like to see him stand up. Howard retorts that she doesn’t need him to — she doesn’t need him and he’s useless. Azu tells him that he’s young, and things might change if he comes out. He worries that he might change for the worse, and doesn’t want to just do what he’s told — people keep telling him to do things he’s bad at, and then get annoyed at him. He thinks Azu will be annoyed at him, but Azu promises she won’t be.

Digital art of Azu, a tall, Black orc woman, leading Howard Carter, a small, pale young boy, by the hand. There is a speech bubble coming out of Azu's mouth, with small icons of each party member and an item by their face [Zolf has a lightning bolt and a ship, Hamid has a fireball, Cel has a potion, Sasha has a dagger and quiche, and Grizzop has an arrow). Carter looks interested.

Azu leads Carter back to the mortal world. Art by @hobbitgeiszler on tumblr. Used with permission.

Finally, Howard climbs out from under the bench, standing in front of Azu and holding his books angrily. He’s very small with a big mop of hair. Azu sits up and asks Howard if he wants to be in this room — he doesn’t, but it’s the only place he can be without people being annoyed at him. Azu looks extremely sad, and promises she can take him to other places and everyone will be really happy to see him. Howard’s upset by this, saying that no one’s ever happy to see him except Azu, who’s cool. Azu says that Howard’s cool, too, causing Howard to puff up and age into a young teen. Azu starts talking about the cool people she knows as Howard continues to age into a young man.

After checking once again that Howard really wants to leave, Azu leads him away, out of the room, telling him about various members of the crew.

Cel & Sassraa

Digital, two-tone (blue background, orange characters) lineart of Cel Sidebottom talking with Sassraa. Cel is a tall half-elf with white hair, and they are wearing a long coat. They look distressed and conflicted as they look at Sassraa, saying "that's what 'being' is, right?'. Sassraa is a tall kobold, holding a beaker, wearing a lab coat, and not looking at Cel. They look unhappy.

Cel tries to convince Sassraa to come back. Art by @bagelwhalee on Twitter. Used with permission.

Sassraa puts a pair of flasks down angrily, cracking one. She berates Cel, saying she can’t just leave things unfixed or else they’ll get worse. Cel sympathizes with the urge to finish things, but says that over the years, they’ve learned that things don’t get finished. It’s okay if Sassraa wants to work endlessly on this problem, but there are other problems back in the real world. Their voice cracking, Cel says that they work well together, recalling significant time spent together on engineering, as well as doing logic puzzles together when Sassraa was in Earhart’s body.

Sassraa insists they’re so close to finishing, frustratedly trying to put two incompatible pieces together. Cel says that these puzzles will always lead to other things — which is just what existing is about, one thing always becoming something. They’ll never feel like things are complete. Cel reiterates that Sassraa can choose to stay here (and briefly gets distracted by how cool some of the equipment is) but reminds Sassraa of the things she can do in the real world and her friends there, including Cel.

Sassraa puts the two components down. They confirm with Cel that this place will still exist, for later, and gives Cel a sidelong glance that Cel can’t understand. Sassraa says she’ll come with Cel so long as they can finish the problem together, later, and Cel promises that they will. Sassraa gets Cel to come very close… and plucks a fang from behind Cel’s ear.

Quotes[]

Zolf: "Do you… know what’s happened? Do you know what’s going on?"
Wilde: "Yeah, it feels like for the first time, I get to have a break."
Zolf: "Yeah. Yeah, well, um, I guess… I guess that’s what I’ve come to talk to you about."
Wilde: "Could just join me. That’s okay too. You know. (Pats deck next to him) Room for one more, et cetera."
―Zolf and Wilde meet in Wilde's afterlife.

Zolf: "I’m not done yet. I don’t want to stay here."
Wilde: "Why not? Just…"
Zolf: "I’ve got things to do. And I’ve got…"
Wilde: "Yeah, but you always will. That’s the — if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, is that there’s always something to do. That’s doesn’t mean that you actually have to do it, it just means that there’s something to do."
Zolf: "I’ve got things I want to do."
―Zolf and Wilde talk.

Azu: "Hello, Howard."
Carter: "Hello. Um. I can be quieter. I’m sorry."
Azu: "That’s alright, I’m very loud."
Carter: "Yeah. Um. You might not want to be, they don’t like that here. [Whispering] We shouldn’t really be in here, they don’t let — they don’t like kids in here."
Azu: "Well, who cares what they think, hm?"
Carter: "I mean, I do. Don’t you?"
Azu: "No."
Carter: "Why not— they’re really angry, though"
Azu: "Well, sometimes people are angry and it’s not really your fault."
Carter: "Doesn’t seem to make a difference."
―Azu and Carter meet in his afterlife.

Cel: "Sassraa, do you know where we are?"
Sassraa: "I mean, yeah! It’s — it’s my place."
Cel: "It’s a lovely place. "
Sassraa: "I know, that’s why it’s mine."
Cel: "That’s — I mean, you, you are lovely, and you deserve lovely things."
Sassraa: "I do, you’re right. You can stay. "
―Cel and Sassraa meet in her afterlife.

Wilde: "Just give me a reason, other than because there’s something that needs doing. That’s all I need, just one reason other than ‘there is another job for you, Wilde.’ That’s all I’ll need."
Zolf: "Do you want there to be another reason?"
Wilde: "What did I just say? Obviously I do, yes. "
Zolf: "Fine. Because I need you, Wilde."
Wilde: "And there we go. An honest answer from Zolf Smith. I never thought I’d hear it."
Zolf: "You were just angling for that? You bastard."
Wilde: "No, I wasn’t just angling for that, but it’s nice to know, alright?"
Zolf: "Yeah, well, I didn’t wanna say cause it wouldn’t be fair."
Wilde: "Oh, nothing’s fair. Look at it!"
―Zolf admits he cares.

Wilde: "Here’s the plan. We’re gonna finish up these drinks, we go out there, and then we just… we figure it out. We always do. It’s fine. It’s just — it’s just useful to know I’m not just… beating my head against the wall for no reason, Zolf, you know?"
Zolf: "Look. (Pulls him down by the lapels.) When this is all done, we’ll go on holiday, or something."
Wilde: "Where?"
Zolf: "Oh, I don’t know! I don’t know where is gonna be left after all this is done. But somewhere nice!"
Wilde: "(Teasing) Zolf, I won’t come back with you unless you tell me where we’re going on holiday together. "
Zolf: "You’re such a dick. Come on. "
―Zolf and Wilde make plans.

Azu: "Howard, what do you remember?"
Carter: "Apparently nothing. "
―Azu talks to Carter as a child.

Azu: "Do you want to come out from under that bench for a moment?"
Carter: "Not really, 'cause if I do, everyone’s just going to yell at me again, so I’m fine. I’ll just stay here."
Azu: "I just told you I’d fight bears for you, you think I can’t fight them off? "
―Azu talks to Carter as a child.

Azu: "I’m saying that right now, you can depend on me to protect you, and I would quite like to… see you stand up. "
Carter: "You don’t need my help, though, look at you. Like you said, you got your big, like, axe and, and your big armour and your all of that. I don’t bring anything — like, I’ll just stay here, it’s fine. I get it, I’m useless, I don’t have anything to help or do, so I can just stay here, at least out of the way. It’s fine, I get it. It’s not nice, but I get it, it’s fine."
Azu: "Mm. You’re very young, Howard. Nothing stays the same forever."
Carter: "Meaning what?"
Azu: "Maybe if you come out something will change?"
Carter: "So if I just— wait, wait, ok, hang on. So what you’re saying is if I come out from under here, I change. But what if I change worse? Hm? I’m just hearing, I’m hearing a lot of ‘Howard I want you to come out from under the bench.’"
Azu: "Good…?"
―Azu tries to get Carter out from under the bench.

Carter: "If I climb out from under the bench, you’re just going to be annoyed, same as everyone else. "
Azu: "I won’t be, this time. I promise. "
Carter: "(Sighs)"
Azu: "Please?"
Carter: "You don’t need to say please, I’m — you’re massive, and I’m really small. It’s fine"
Azu: "I’m not going to drag you. "
Carter: "Fine!"
―Azu tries to get Carter out from under the bench.

Azu: "Do you want to be in this room? You said you —"
Carter: "No, it’s rubbish! But it’s the only place I could be. "
Azu: "I could show you other places? If you like?"
Carter: "And you promise no one’s gonna be annoyed at me for just being there?"
Azu: "Everyone would be really please to see you, actually, I think."
Carter: "No they won’t. No one’s ever happy to see me. "
Azu: "I am. "
Carter: "Yeah, but you’re different. Cause you’re, like, you know…. cool."
Azu: "I only hang out with cool people. "
―Azu and Carter talk in his afterlife.

Cel: "Sassraa, I, I know exactly how you feel, right? I, I do. I know that sometimes you, you feel— you need to solve the thing and you can’t think of anything else until that thing is done, but —"
Sassraa: "Great!"
Cel: "But there’s, but what I’ve learned — and I’m so old, Sassraa, I am so old, I have learned so many things so slowly, right? Sometimes, things don’t get finished, right, and that’s — that has to be okay."
Sassraa: "Yeah, but I can finish it, if you just help! If we get this done, and then we can go back and —"
Cel: "We’ve already done it! Sassraa, we’ve done it, we’ve, we’ve fixed the first problem, and then another problem came, and then another, and this is — this —"
Sassraa: "Yeah, but if we finish this, it’ll fix all the problems."
Cel: "It won’t, Sassraa! What I’m saying is that this — this is endless. And that’s fine, right? If you wanna solve these problems forever. But there are other kinds of problems. Back — back on the bear, back… back where we were, you know? And… those problems… I just… I think that we work really well together."
―Cel and Sassraa discuss puzzles.

"The things about these puzzles, right, is that they always lead to other things. And that — that’s what — that’s what being is, right — I thought that was what being alive is like, but it seems it’s even bigger than that, is that whatever you do, it becomes something else. And that’s — that’s, that’s great, you don’t get to get a completion score, though, always, on problems. And, and I think this — look — I just — I — I feel like there were other things that we left unfinished"
Cel, on puzzles

Sassraa: "I’ll make you a deal."
Cel: "Okay."
Sassraa: "We don’t solve this now."
Cel: "Right."
Sassraa: "But you and me solve this later, you know, when we get time. You know, when we’ve dealt with, we’ve dealt with everything else, it’s all done, it’s all solved, we can come back here and finish this together."
Cel: "Sassraa, I would like nothing else better in the entire world."
Sassraa: "You promise?"
Cel: "I— I promise."
―Cel and Sassraa make a promise.

Dice rolls & mechanics[]

  • Azu Perception to hear the sounds of drawing: 25
  • Azu Sense Motive to tell that baby Carter is scared: 25
  • Cel Craft (alchemy) to figure out whether Sassraa’s puzzles are solvable: 31
  • Hamid Perception to notice the coldness: 19
  • Zolf Sense Motive to tell that Wilde is angry: nat20, for total of 29
  • Zolf Sense Motive to tell that Wilde is teasing: 11
  • Cel Sense Motive to tell what Sassraa’s look means: 7

Plot Notes[]

Trivia[]

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