Jonathan's Numenera Game

To Improve is to Change

The third and final crossroad was shrouded with a dense fog, limiting Leanna’s vision to only a few feet in front of her. Undaunted, she took a step onto the seemingly invisible trail, and despite its strangeness, she recognized it in the back of her mind as the Path of Mist and Doubt. Unlike the other paths, she could barely see the visions presented along the path until she was right up against them, and even then, the visions appeared to be shown through a hazy gray filter that made detailed inspection impossible.

The first of these visions took Leanna to a familiar setting – a deep, ancient cave system with dark swatches of color slowly combining and separating along the walls. However, unlike the vision that she was shown on the Path of Shadow and Fear, it was not Bassam that was traveling with the party, it was a strange, otherworldly body that seemed to be constantly shifting and mutating. Upon closer inspection, Leanna recognized the shape that was accompanying the others as a version of herself, but she noticed that not only was her skin no longer radiating a pale light, she seemed to be changing almost constantly. In one instant, she saw flesh becoming metallic, and she could see thin blue and green wires extend from the top of her head where her hair would usually be. A few seconds after that, her skin became a dark brown, and her hands and feet grew long, sharp claws that looked as though they could pierce through even metal. As they traveled, Leanna could tell that the party was wounded and weary, but were making steady progress deeper into the cave system, and she wondered her presence was valuable to the others.

The next vision showed the party in a large room surrounded by windowless metal walls lined with tubes, pipes and glowing panels. Lining the walls of the room were large, heavy sheets of material that were slowly being funneled out of the room by a series of conveyer belts and claw-like manipulators. As the party moved around, examining the various machines in the room that whirred and chirped, when suddenly, a loud, shrill alarm began to sound and large panels in the walls lifted up to reveal large metal constructs. As the constructs stepped forward, revealing smooth blue synth-blades, the party readied themselves for the inevitable attack. Leanna noticed that instead of fighting with beams of light, the version of her in the vision unclasped a smooth, hand-carved wooden bow and retrieved three arrows from the quiver strapped to her back. As she pulled the bowstring back and let the arrows fly, her form changed and she held her hand out towards one of the constructs, sending several large metal plates now scattered throughout the room hurtling towards it. Confused, Leanna stepped through the vision, unsure of what to make of the scenes it had shown her and how she had changed.

Continuing on, Leanna encountered the third vision, and she was taken aback to see the woman that had appeared so many times along the Path of Light and Blood. However, instead of standing beside her, she, along with Delin, Ignus, and Lloyd, surrounded her in a wide semi-circle, weapons drawn and ready. Still, the woman’s face displayed an expression of haughtiness, and it was clear that even in this position, she looked down on Leanna and the others. Their mouths moved in conversation, and although Leanna could not hear their words, she knew from their actions that they were preparing to give her a chance to redeem herself before they ended her life. The woman turned to Leanna, who brandished a pulsating purple energy blade in each hand, and put her hands to her face in an exaggerated display of mock disappointment before suddenly revealing a sinister grin and launching herself several dozen feet away from the party. As Leanna and the others charged towards her, Leanna’s energy blades disappeared, and in their place, two translucent copies of her appeared beside her, hovering several inches off the ground. The copies surged forward and darted around wildly in midair, deflecting the woman’s initial volley of radiantly glowing spears and throwing up a cloud of thick, billowing dust. As the fight continued, Leanna felt an increasing sense of confusion, although she was slowly starting to put all the visions that she had seen in context and learn more about the final decision that she would have to make.

The fourth vision displayed Leanna and the others standing atop the same fortress that she had seen at the end of the Path of Shadow and Fear, However, unlike in the previous vision, where the party had only other adventurers standing at their side, there were now strange green creatures that appeared to be made of gelatin surrounding the fortress. The creatures came in all shapes and sizes, clusters of green orbs hovering in midair, and massive twenty-legged crabs that towered over the battlefield. The creatures were as unique as they were innumerable, and as the armored warriors marched their way towards the fortress, the gelatin creatures and the adventurers prepared themselves for battle. Leanna herself looked far older than normal, having appeared to have aged ten or twenty years, but in the next instant, her appearance changed and the wrinkles that lined her face disappeared. In their place were sharp-edged tattoos across her forehead and jawline, and her eyes transformed into pupil-less pools of deep gray. As the massive fighters activated the jump jets on their backs and began leaping up onto the tops of the fortress walls, they found themselves intercepted in midair by winged insects that flew faster than the eye could see, gouging their armor and knocking them back away from the fortress. Leanna could feel a sense of hope well up inside of her, as she could see a path to victory where there had once been none. She stepped through the fourth vision, ready to confront the final decision.

At the end of the Path of Mist and Doubt stood a simple mural, plain in comparison to those of the other paths. It depicted the four people walking down a well-worn path with a bright yellow and orange sun ahead of them on the horizon. The path was lined with sunflowers in full bloom, and the clouds in the sky were tinted with a faint red. Unlike the other visions, Leanna could make out every detail of this mural as though it had been magnified a thousand times, and she could see Ignus’ burnished armor, Delin’s belt of knives, and Lloyd’s hands crackling with electricity as they walked down the path together. However, as she looked at herself, she saw only a darkened silhouette, even though the others were very clearly depicted. Leanna placed her hand through the mural, and as she pulled it back, she was surprised to see it covered in thick red scales resembling a lizards. She put her hand through again and pulled it back, revealing a tough and calloused hand that had been tempered by years of martial training. With full knowledge of everything that the three paths had to offer, she made her way back to the crossroads, ready to make her decision.

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