Group Research Picture

"Can I help?"

"No."

"Can I just hold th-"

"No."

"Not even help with the-"

"No."

"But you said this is-"

"No."

Claire hung from the top of the workstation, her tiny feet skirting the ground as a result, and fixed her faintly-glowing eyes on the Leona's pendant.

Damn thing had more than just a mind of it's own. After Leona accidentally brought an aged nymph castle to an abrupt end with a single bout of growing, she chucked it far over the horizon before shrinking down with no intent to recover it. Yet only an hour later, as they were strolling back to the Broken Barrel, the gem had somehow managed to find it's way into the cavernous expanse that was her cleavage.

That's how it always was. This thing kept coming back. Not always. But many times. With the same basic results. So not only did the gem contain a magic that was one part impossible and two parts forbidden, but it was also semi-sentient. Aware of those who wear it. And purposefully sought out those who did.

And it was only Leona. Claire and Simon had both donned the pendant to test it's effectiveness on brownies and demons, but neither budged a millimeter upward. Unlike Leona's rather explosive instance of growth, capable of leveling buildings if left unchecked for more than a few seconds.

Simon leaned in on the clamped pendant, looking deeply into it's cuts and scratches, taking in the familiar translucent azure color that had become a detriment to Leona and those around her. Not always. But more than enough to be worth taking note of.

"Lend me your secrets..." He mumbled.

"Are you talking to it?" Claire got up on her toes once more and tried to get a peak of the arcane artifact.

"...no."

Just then the door opened, and in strolled Leona, ducking her head to fit through.
"How goes it?" She asked, approaching the two and looking in, dwarfing the two by simply existing in the same room.

"Simon's talking to the rock."

Simon grimaced, giving the girl a light push away from his work and leaning in on the stone. "Alright. It seems to react to external stimuli. But it doesn't grow or make anything else grow..."

Leona leaned in, looming high overhead and glancing at the stone with a bit of hesitation. This small back room Simon had called his workstation wasn't exactly the largest of rooms. If she were to somehow trigger the stone's archaic abilities, then there's a good chance she would do damage to both the room and the two small figures in it.

"It's probably bonded with you." A voice suddenly chimed in.

The rest of the room turned to discover The Outsider standing to Simon's side, as he had been doing for an indeterminate amount of time.

"Oh...hey." Simon blinked, a shocked to see him. "You...uh...know 'bout this 'ere?"

"Maybe." The old brownie shrugged with a stillness and gentleness as he leaned in and gave the gem a look. The rest of the room, save for Claire who was busy scaling Leona's mountainous form, seemed to hang on his words. Then he turned his attention to Simon.

"Where'd you get this stone?" There was a sternness in tone that took Simon by surprise.

"I, uh, kind of just found it. On a mage."

"I'm guessin' it wasn't a friendly exchange."

"Well he had a bounty on his head. So...no. He seemed real protective of the box that it was is in, though. Didn't let it go until I knocked him out. When I turned him in I asked the fairies what they wanted to do with it and they figured I could just, well, keep it."

The old soul leaned a little closer, his unflinching steady holding true. "Surprised it wasn't bound to them."

"What do you mean 'bound'?" Simon adjusted a loose wire and hooked it up to the gem.

"If your stories are true this gem always comes runnin' back to Leona somehow. But only after she chose to put in on and ya'll had your first brush with this here growth magic. Regardless of how you wrangle that kind of power, it's still power. If they had put it on, then they certainly wouldn't be in prison right now, and we wouldn't have this gem."

Simon paused for a moment. "So...wait...wouldn't it somehow teleport itself back to it's previous owner before the runner?"

"Not if there wasn't a previous owner anymore." The old man shrugged.

"Well, that raises unfortunate implications." Leona sighed, taking a knee and lowering herself to a level that was still an impressive distance above Simon's level. "I doubt I'm the only one to have worn this necklace." She pinched the chain ands sighed again, looking over Simon's records.

Just then, the gem began to emanate with a very familiar glow. Simon snapped to attention, tools at ready to try to disconnect wires and channels and chuck the damned stone out the nearest window. Claire, on the other hand, dropped to behind Leona and hid behind her legs. The outsider didn't flinch. Or move. Or show any real signs that what was happening was even getting through. Leona quickly withdrew her hand, to which the gem responded by losing it's glow. A myriad of sighs rung out in the room as the the gang focused their attention on the sone once again.

"...so it is bound to you." The Outsider muttered, shrugging and looking on curiously. "Interesting."

"...'sthere somethin' you're not telling us, Old Timer?"

The aged brownie simply shrugged. "Look at the curves of light in the stone. The way it distorts the beams." He nudged the candle closer and watched as the beams of light seemed to enter the gem and then promptly contort and bend in alien curvatures before exiting out the other side. Almost like an oil in water, the light seemed to flow in a slow repetition of waves. "Something about this stone is very very wrong."

"So..." Leona paused for a moment. "Any ideas on what we do?" She turned towards the old man.

The old sage simply stood with his hands saddled comfortable in his pockets, and giving a light shrug again. "I've heard a few stories similar to the one this rock spins, but I can't confirm or deny what is and isn't here. But if you're looking to rid yourselves of whatever hell this thing carries with it, we could always smash it with a hammer..."

INTRIGUE.

OR NOT.

I DUN' FUCKIN' KNOW.

I kind of wanted a nice group shot of this central gang of tiny characters. So I did that. And I like it.

It's not a terrible dynamic to have. A four character ensemble of mostly variable personalities and designs that's super flexible. I can do backstory shit, regularly story shit, cute shit, and fanservice shit. So that's nice. Probably why I've gravitate towards it.

Not much else to say. Simon doing a bit of technical stuff for once. And Leona's breasts going from large to heaving. Fun times.

Continue Reading: Ages of Man