The Maze of Ketchka Tsendsi

You feel a blistering heat on your skin. Bright light consumes you, and then nothing.

Warm air presses in around you, intensifying the feverish feeling beneath your skin. Your eyes slit open. At least you think they are open, as they are met by blackness. Gradually, you begin to make out your surroundings. In front of you is a wall made of unfamiliar, bright red stone. A scrape against the stone floor alerts you to the presence of others. Three people surround you, none of them familiar. Along one wall of the perfect square you find yourself in is a purple and green gift-wrapped box, large enough to fit a coffin.

Our first tale begins when our unsuspecting heroes arrive in an unknown land. This was the first the land had seen of them, and the first they had seen of the land….at least those who could in fact see the land. These strange creatures awake from a magic daze and find themselves in a room made of red stone. The bright red walls climb the length of 10 dwarves, ending in a glass ceiling that cascades sunlight down upon them.

One man, Ivaz the Ironsighted, stands stunned, unable to process the unexpected change in scenery.

By first glance, ‘The Ironsighted’ seems to be fitting, as something in or around his eye is glinting. There could be some kind of magical implant to better help with aiming, or maybe the eye itself is enchanted, but it’s very difficult to pinpoint the exact idea. Beyond that, it seems he has about six pistol holsters, empty, two holsters for larger weapons on his back, and three holsters for smaller pistols on his arms, all implemented and adjusted to be on his heavy coat. The coat itself goes down slightly lower than knee height and covers a messily-put-together semi-fine outfit. A simple vest covers a long sleeve shirt and some odd necklaces, with what looks to be runes inscribed on the chains or beads. He has a bandana around his neck and a bowler tilted up on his head. His pants, however, have four additional holsters for the smaller pistols, and like the holsters on his coat: they are empty. His boots go to mid-calf and look like they have enough space for another miniature pistol or two. And a dagger.

He has seen a lot, having made a reputation for himself in the military and later as a bandit, but this…something is not right here. The disorientation of magical teleportation leaves its aftereffects on not his body but his mind.

A tabaxi, Active Spell, perches on her toes, her honed catlike muscles flexing as she turns to gaze around.

A tabaxi with dark brown cloak that is very disheveled and muddy with light brown leathers underneath(not armor). A small dagger is held on the belt line but no other weapons are visible. The fur is mainly yellow with brown and black spots scattered around the body. While all of the clothes are muddy and unkempt, the fur is pristine and is soft to the touch. A strange glove is on their right hand with words written all over it in a strange language. A small pack is strapped on their back.

Her mysterious aura is not subtle or unseen by any who take the moment to notice. It is clear that she doesn’t avoid danger and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty…except for the one hand.

A tall elven woman, Jastra Srinshee collapses, her ice-colored eyes rolling back as she tumbles, her long pale blue hair obscuring the frost-kissed lavender of her skin. A full face and prominent cheeks contrast with the heavy armor that coats the woman’s bluish body.

Jastra’s scale armor is charcoal with royal purple accessory armor. Longsword has a charcoal hilt and guard. Her shield is large, rotund, and detailed with a dead tree with falling leaves. A exact design on her amulet worn around her neck. She wears a bracelet that represents the change of seasons on her left wrist. A light crossbow attached to her backpack.

Even unconscious, the woman gives off an aura of something otherworldly, as if the Realms of Death had reached out to touch her.

Nearby, a drow bard, Alyrae Kenana, stares vacantly at the red stone walls which surround her, stunned silent by what has occurred. Her lips move as she tries to process what has happened, but no sound reaches your ears.

(Alyrae is a) young Drow lady wearing a dark purple dress with cape sleeves, with a white shirt, dark brown pants, and black leather boots under it. On top of the dress she’s wearing a decorative leather armor bodice.

Alyrae has lavender eyes and waist-long, light grey hair, which she had trimmed into a fringe with shoulder-lenght side locks in the front.

The woman seems unapproachable even in her stunned state. the violin slung across her shoulder in a padded bag somehow seems more dangerous than the rapier slung at her hip. Though her lips move, the silence that descends around her seems unnatural, as if the air aught be filled with sound.

The single mobile adventurer begins to move around, examining the walls of the strange room uncertainly. Active Spell, known as Spell to most, emanates curiousity. Gradually, Jastra begins to stir, taking in the tall, white-haired gunslinger with pale, scarred skin, the impeccably dressed bard, and the catlike woman whose clothes have seen more wear than the woman herself.

Spell drifts over to a large box that takes up most of one wall, sparkling eyes examining the bright ribbons that wrap it, like a dramatic gift or a trap for the truly unintelligent. The room fills with the pop of split wood as the box breaks open. Colorful paper and ribbons burst through the air and float down. One gay purple scrap perches tentatively on the unflinching gunfighter’s shoulders as he continues to stare, unblinking.

A being known as Journer Ironskin stands inside the remains of the crate.

With flesh looking much like cedar, featuring plates that resemble bronze at the joints, and connecting strips between, Journer looks somewhat intimidating, but with an open, inquisitive face.

He has bright copper eyes in a plated face, with what appears to be the south and east faces of a compass rose upon his forehead.

Tool handles protrude from this cedar man’s chest ever-so-slightly, emphasizing the constructed nature of the creature. The gravelly voice of Journer Ironskin is loud in the stunned silence. “Are you the beings my friends sent for, and where is the forest?”

Spell pipes up curiously. “What are you talking about?”

Jastra groggily shakes her head and picks herself up. “Forest? Huh?” She peers at everyone, taking in the strange group. “HI!” The frost-kissed creature giggles in the baking heat, laughter frothing out of her as she rises.

Alyrae sits up creakily “Beings?” She examines her surroundings and, namely, the wooden man, piercing eyes narrowed with thought.

The newly-freed man shows mild uncertainty, though he is not yet truly alarmed. “My friend said he was sick, he told me to get in the box, he said beings would come get me.”

Ivaz rubs his forehead and checks his holsters, “No clue mate, some magics brought me here. I’d rather just get home, yeah?”

In agreement, the group as a whole begins to move past where the box once blocked the exit to the room.

Journer shrugs, agreeing “I guess that is what friend was meaning.”

Jastra expresses in her usual jubilant voice “So you all got” makes a wild wobbly gesture “too?!” She is met by Journer’s confusion and Ivaz’s grimace.

Ivaz slips a small pistol into his hand, “Let’s just get this done. Where are we going?”

Spell pussyfoots from one corner to the next as she navigates the maze, “I would assume. Must be some strong magic to transport the five of us.”

In true form, Journer expresses his confusion. “What is this, transport? Is that what get in the box means?”

“I…” Alyrae pauses, hastily checking her backpack and violin for damage, “suppose that’s what happened.”

In agreement on the course of action, Jastra chortles with suppressed excitement as she peeks around the corner of the latest hallway. The group winds their way through an increasingly large maze of red stone. Spell and Jastra continue in cheerful form as Alyrae interrogates Journer about his bold arrival. Ivaz’s eyes nearly roll all the way back into his head as he groans, “Please stop being enthusiastic, I have a headache.”

The winter elf expresses her own macabre thoughts, “Hard to not be so joyed! Don’t you know how easily we could die?!” The increasingly jubilant woman giggles, “Like mice in a box waiting for the end!”

At Spell’s suggestion, the party is introduced. The tension eases for a moment, followed by cheerful and questioning voices alike.

Upon Ivaz’s introduction, the oft-confused Journer does not hesitate to ask, “How can one be iron sighted? Is your sight hard?”

Ivaz The Ironsighted says, “No. I have some work done a while ago. Caused some metal glint around my left eye.”

Jastra shows her teeth in delight, “A pleasure to meet you all. Now when we do die I can at least say a proper prayer over your festering bodies!” She nods quickly, keeping an eye about the crazy labyrinth in which they resided.

The gruesomely cheery statement is appreciated only by Spell, who claims “I like Jastra. Nice and upbeat. Good humor too.”

The two woman exchange morbid pleasantries, with their new bardic companion offering to play some funerary music in appreciation of the topic. A remark compares the unstable adventurers to mice in a maze, leading to a rather odd conversation with Journer, whose grasp of analogy is limited.

“Friend said cats good, keep mice away.”

“Your friend means domestic cats, I am sentient”

“Hmm. I think we had one like you in our army. She was quite the killer, if I remember correctly.”

“I think a hear death! Shall we go see??”

A groan of pain echoes though the warren of stone halls, growing louder as Ivaz subtly insults Spell’s talkativeness.

One gravelly voice bounces back towards the distant noise, “What is that sound?”

Journer’s voice is followed by the gay lilt, “The suffering before endless nothing. Wilted Mother told us to never fear and to accept it!”

The tabaxi and her newfound, death-loving friend, exchange excited words, each encouraging the other in their supposed love of death. Jastra places a hand on Spell’s shoulder and casts a guiding spell, calling, “I can teach you all about the ways of the Wilted Mother!”, just as Ivaz creeps forward at the head of the column of mice.

His eyes focus intently as he looks around the corner, “We’ve got something up ahead. Not human and not to far away.” His pistol slips into his pocket as a large-barreled musket takes its place in his arms. He leans out towards the hallway, musket ready for whatever may come. The groaning grows louder as his head protrudes past the protective wall.

Three pairs of eyes bored into his skull, flesh drooping off them in a gruesome display of Jastra’s favorite concept.

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