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Jon0113
2016-01-15, 02:21 PM
I try to give selino covering fire
I'm not panicking yet

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-15, 06:52 PM
>Draw daggers
>Not quite panicking yet. Fearless, remember?

You say "He's surrounded!". I say "They're out of position!".

Eggel
2016-01-15, 07:02 PM
I try to give Selino covering fire

I don't think he would last long enough if we drew daggers

I'm not panicking just yet

Fear won't help our aim (unless it's a sort of "in the moment" feeling, which would help our aim. I guess.)

THEChanger
2016-01-15, 09:43 PM
Just checking, are my daggers iron?

Elenna
2016-01-15, 11:35 PM
>I try to give Selino covering fire.
>I'm not panicking just yet.

Xefas
2016-01-16, 11:05 AM
Update might be a little late today. Going to go see the new Star Wars.


Just checking, are my daggers iron?

Indeed.

Jon0113
2016-01-16, 02:42 PM
Hope you enjoy it

THEChanger
2016-01-16, 07:53 PM
>Draw daggers
>Exert heroic Will

FOR THE GLORY OF FEARLESS JUNE!

Xefas
2016-01-16, 08:03 PM
As the fight wears on, you become increasingly aware of how much easier the goblins can maneuver in comparison to yourself, even in the relatively shallow water. If it were, say, chest-deep, you'd both be chum by now. But, staving off that flash of morbidity, you make an effort to back off from your attackers and sling arrows Selino's way. He still hasn't moved much since the beginning of the fight, and so you aren't too concerned about your haphazard shots accidentally hitting him, but having to constantly be wary of the two goblins nipping at your own ankles keeps you from spending too long aiming.

Finally, the goblin with the still-smoking chest has decided it's time to end things, and rushes directly at you, screaming some high-pitched battle-cry. Its sudden and swift motion catches you off-guard, and you're forced to hurl yourself back from being caught, launching an iron arrow at point-blank range as you fall. The arrow lances through the goblin's skull like a hot knife through butter, sending sizzling flecks of grey-matter shooting through the air behind it. Alas, your moment of adulation ends the instant you hit the water. It's enough to cover your body, and before you can scramble to your feet, the other goblin has leapt on top of you. As humans go, you are quite strong, but despite its smaller stature, the goblin is just as strong, and has more leverage in this position. The two of you begin thrashing for control.

In your peripheral vision, you see a goblin-ear spinning through the air, tongues of scarlet fire consuming it to ash, but then you see the silhouette of Selino, wavering in the unstable light of your flailing lantern, go down into the water, two goblins coming at him from either side.



--Selino is at Short Range from you.
--A Small Mob of Goblins is at Melee and Short Range from you.
--The second key is at Short Range from you, in the opposite direction as Selino and the goblins.

Your Fighting Spirit is guttering, ready to go out.
Selino's Fighting Spirit has been broken! He's vulnerable to a killing blow.
The Goblin Mob's numbers and morale are dwindling. They are ready to rout.

Choice 1
>I attempt to strangle the goblin on top of me to death. (Having another goblin fall may rout the rest of the mob.)
>I try to throw the goblin off and come to Selino's aid. (This will protect him, but may potentially make you vulnerable.)
>I try to throw the goblin off, grab my bow, and disengage the mob, creating some distance.

Choice 2
>And I put the full force of my will into it.
>And I pace myself for what challenges may lie ahead.

ImperatorV
2016-01-16, 08:08 PM
>I attempt to strangle the goblin on top of me to death. (Having another goblin fall may rout the rest of the mob.)

>And I put the full force of my will into it.

Eggel
2016-01-16, 10:03 PM
I attempt to strangle the goblin on top of me to death. (Having another goblin fall may rout the rest of the mob.)

And I put the full force of my will into it.

I'm just wondering, what happens if we actually die?

Xefas
2016-01-16, 10:40 PM
I'm just wondering, what happens if we actually die?

I'm not sure if this is a question meant to be answered from an in-character perspective, or an out-of-character perspective, but fortunately the answer is the same for both.

Reincarnation.


When a soul is relieved of its connection to its mortal body, it lingers briefly in the corpse until it is born away by Lethe into the Well of Souls. Here, it wanders until the baggage of its former life is washed away, and then it is born again back into the world as a new infant.

Many people experience memories of their past lives, but they mistake it for a dream, or daydream, or other idle thought. A mortal who is Exalted can relive past-life memories going much further back into the mists of time, and with greater clarity and coherency.

Let it suffice that if June doesn't get her chance to shake the pillars of the world in this life, perhaps she will in the next.

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-16, 10:47 PM
>Throw him off and go help Selino.
>Exert heroic willpower!

See, this is why I wanted to draw a melee weapon. Being surrounded by the little pugs wouldn't be great for a knife-fighter, but it's just terrible for an archer.

Xefas
2016-01-17, 12:23 PM
With a desperate grunt, you forgo trying to throw the goblin off, and go all-in on killing it, placing both hands 'round its neck. But, you quickly find that, without holding back its arms, the creature's claws are perhaps far deadlier than your own hands. It need only send one vicious rake at your face, cutting a set of burning lines across your cheek and upper neck, before you start evaluating other options. As your head is again plunged underwater, your lantern-light shines off of the iron arrow that had been knocked in your bow before you'd been forced to drop it, only a few feet from your face.

Using your much longer legs, you heave your upper body down in the water, flat against the ground, and your legs up, catching your calves around the goblin's head, and twist, wrenching it down and back away from you. In that moment of freedom, you scramble and grasp the metal-tipped arrow, just before the goblin recovers and lunges on top of you once more. But, this time, you catch it across the face with the arrowhead, sheering a jagged, thin sheet of bone from the side of its skull. It convulses in a silent scream, trying to backpedal off of you, but you aren't done. You take all the momentum that it has relinquished and pile on top of it, pinning it down, and sinking the iron into its skull again and again until it stops moving, leaving its body obscured beneath a growing cloud of blood in the water.

As you rise, gasping, you see the other two goblins scrambling away, back up the wall and back into the previous room. The cost of this skirmish seems to have outweighed its potential value; their morale is broken, and they rout.

Meanwhile, Selino seems to be exerting himself just to keep his head above water. You rush to his side and hook your arms under his, dragging him towards the room's center, where the podium's raised area is less flooded; perhaps just a few inches. He heaves and grunts wordless complaints all the way.

He has thin cuts and scratches all over his body, but the far more worrying injury is a deep and messy puncture in his left calf, likely from a weapon carried by a goblin, rather than its claws. Selino says nothing until you try to remove his boot, at which point he suppresses a shout, and hisses through clenched teeth, "No! No, leave me be."

You glare at him. "I can't do that, Selino. You're in rough shape. I need to check the extent of your injuries."

"And do what?" He spits the words at you harshly. "Fix me up? With what? Do you even know what you're doing? Gods know what was in that water, the damn wound's probably swimming with filth."

You look around. Though there's plenty of wooden furniture in the room, all very mysteriously not rotted from centuries of standing water, it is soggy nonetheless. Nothing to build a fire with to cauterize the wound. And certainly no medical supplies. If Mila were here, maybe she could think of something, but you've no idea.

"And-" he continues, a little fire gone from his voice, "...And I think I broke my damn ankle. Landed on it wrong when I jumped. ...Impossible to see the ground with all this water. ...Should've brought a ****ing rope." He doesn't say it accusatorially, but you don't like the tone of resignation growing in his words.

You stand up, the movement of your lantern-light causing nearby ghosts to suddenly fade, then reappear as it passes. You grab the second key, then kneel back down by Selino, showing it to him. "Look!" you say, "It's not time to give up. We've got both keys. We're so close."

"You've got both keys." he corrects you, "You think I'm going to hobble one-legged back up that wall, back up the cellar, back into that house that could be swarming with fey by now? Then... what, we fight them all off, just the two of us? Come to think of it, you might be just as dead as I am."

You put the gem in your belt-pouch with the other one, sigh, and sit down next to Selino. You're tired; very tired. The two of you spend an unknowable number of minutes there, in the dark, watching the specters of a bygone age wander without purpose, speaking nonsense to themselves. If there is a deep and profound wisdom to be gleaned from the experience, you are either too simple or too exhausted to extract it.



You wake up very suddenly. You've no idea how many minutes or hours have gone by, but given the pounding in your head and the general fog of tiredness surrounding your brain, you'd guess it is closer to the former than the latter. Selino is snoring softly next to you. An idea begins to collect in your thoughts as you look around the room. You withdraw the canvas map of the ruins from your pack. It is water-damaged, but you've spent so many hours looking at it that the details are largely engraved in your mind; the now-blurred and broken lines serve well enough as a reminder and guide.

You nudge Selino gently in the ribs. Then a little less gently. Then a little less gently still, until he finally awakes with a snort and a half-hearted grasping at a weapon-sheathe at his side that isn't there. He seems to regain his senses after a moment and mumbles a "Wha-what is it?"

"How deep do you think we are?" you ask.

He looks at you, his gaze empty, then he slaps himself very hard and shakes his head. "No telling." he says, more steadily, "Who knows how many floors of those damn catacombs the goblins chased us down?"

"Right. Those catacombs were pretty extensive. We were just running level-to-level, but there was more to it. They might've even intersected another part of the ruins somewhere off the main path." you say, drawing a finger across the canvas.

He nods weakly. "I suppose. What're you getting at?"

You find the set of blurs and blotches that had once been an accurate depiction of a junction of tunnels that had been blocked with a cave-in. "Here." you say, shaking the destroyed map, which means nothing to Selino, but he looks at it all the same. "This is why we did this the way that we did. This blocked tunnel. When I cross-referenced this map with the vault-tablet and a map of the town, I determined that the second key was somewhere under the governor's mansion, and that the only way into it from the ruins was this tunnel. Blocked. So we had to go in from the top."

Selino shrugs. "It was a good plan. Now, if you don't mind, I'd rather be unconscious right now." he says, readjusting his position against the podium.

"No! Don't you see?" you gesture at the set of blotches that had once been an approximation of depth on the various parts of the map. "This blocked tunnel is near the surface. Much nearer than we are right now." Then, you gesture at the large set of wooden double-doors leading out of the auditorium. "That means that those doors lead somewhere else. Somewhere in the ruins that I've never been, maybe deeper than I've ever been. But, so long as I can keep my directions about me, if I keep heading-" you move a finger through the air until you're able to orient the map correctly in your head, "-that way, I have to eventually run into..."

"The vault?" Selino offers.

You turn to him, a little mirth breaking up the grim mask. "This place was originally built to be lived in, after all. These gems were meant to be here, and they're meant to be used on the vault. It wouldn't surprise me if there was a pathway near the demon-forge that lead more-or-less directly to the vault if we followed it. And it won't surprise me if there's one here, either."

Selino stares at you for a moment, then a very faint, very forced smile tries to peek out from his lips. "I'm happy for you. You'll get your treasure, and then you can follow your way to some other exit from the ruins, outside the city. You'll make it out."



Choice 1
>I take Selino with me as far as I can. (He won't make it past the first obstacle that requires both legs, and it'll exhaust you in the process.)
>I leave him, half-submerged in cold water with a gaping wound to slowly die.

Kymme
2016-01-17, 12:48 PM
>I take Selino with me as far as I can.

ImperatorV
2016-01-17, 01:29 PM
>I take Selino with me as far as I can. (He won't make it past the first obstacle that requires both legs, and it'll exhaust you in the process.)

He'll probably die anyway, but he pledged his loyalty to us. Leaving him behind would be a breach of our duties as his commander.

Eggel
2016-01-17, 02:01 PM
I ask him what he thinks we should do next

I doubt he wants to be dragged around and slowly die, or die sitting in a pool of water, but he deserves to decide how he will face his end.

THEChanger
2016-01-17, 04:49 PM
>I take Selino with me as far as I can. (He won't make it past the first obstacle that requires both legs, and it'll exhaust you in the process.)

We said no man left behind. Damned if we're going back on that now.

Jon0113
2016-01-17, 06:26 PM
I take selino as far as I can

backwaterj
2016-01-17, 07:01 PM
I take Selino with me as far as I can. He doesn't get a choice in the matter. We're the one who's going to have to live with it.

sidhe3141
2016-01-18, 01:57 AM
>I offer Selino one of my daggers, hilt first.

If he really wants to die, this is a better way to do it. If he can't bring himself to do it, we're carrying him.

Xefas
2016-01-18, 01:32 PM
"We'll make it out." you correct him, "We're going together." You walk over and collect Selino's sword, fallen in the water, and walk back. "And you might be needing this."

"As I said, I'm in no condition-" he begins, but you kneel down, hook an arm under his and around, and heave him to his feet, cutting him off, "I'm not giving you a choice, alright? You work for me, and I said that no one gets left behind on this mission, dammit. Leaving you here would dishonor my word, and I should hope you're a man of virtue, who would not ask their employer to dishonor themselves on your account."

You take a few steps towards the door. Selino still has some strength in his less-wounded leg, and the strain on you doesn't seem so bad. For now, anyway. He looks at you gravely, but you only look ahead. "You're a damn fool." he says, and leaves it at that.



You don't know how many hours have passed, but you know it must be more than a few. Your whole body aches - it would have, anyway, from all the events of the day, even without insisting on hauling Selino up, and down, and over, and around every obstacle you possibly could up until this point. But now you've reached the point where exhaustion is overtaking you. And that's when you see the chasm.

Up ahead, the light of your lantern branches out from the previously narrow passageway, revealing that a fissure has split the earth above and below, bisecting the passage with a deep chasm. The other side isn't far - in your current state, you'll need a good running start to make the jump reliably. Selino, on the other hand...

You set him down in a sitting position against the wall of the passage, and then sit opposite him. The two of you look down the chasm for a moment, and then at each other. You don't have to say anything for the both of you to know what this means. For now, you just let it be quiet, and rest.

More time passes.

"What was with you and Alistair?" you say. The sound after so much silence sounds strange and alien in the echoing recesses of the earth. Selino doesn't say anything, and you're content to leave it at that. Several minutes go by. "We were friends." he says, and his voice has far more gravel than usual. You look him in the face, but his expression is elsewhere, his eyes glimpsing something very far off. "When we were young. So... very, very long ago."

You begin to feel quite warm and snug in your clothes, and the thought of moving on right now seems like a villainous disservice to your complaining limbs. For now, you are all too content to sit and talk. "Alistair said he never knew his family." you offer.

Selino wavers a bit, perhaps in an attempt to nod. "Neither of us did. Though, growing up, I considered Alistair a brother to me. Maybe... more than that. We became very close after a while, and though we always used to boast about how very strong and aloof we were, to each other, and to the other street-urchins, about how we were born for a cutthroat life with no pity and no attachments, save for the next score..." His voice trails off, and you can see memories playing in his eyes, memories not meant for you to see. It is a long time until he speaks again, "I would've stood by him at the very gates of Hell. I guess he didn't see it that way."

You gently move and touch the switch on your lantern, plunging the two of you into utter darkness. You decide to afford Selino the dignity of not watching him cry.



As meaningless as time has become in this lightless hole, you eventually decide that you've rested enough, and stir your nagging muscles to life. Flipping the switch on your lantern again, the light is terribly blinding. Selino stirs, but you get the feeling it is not from sleep. As your eyes adjust, it is quite clear he is awake, though much of the color is gone from his face, and his eyes are that of a man not currently living in the present.

You stand, not prepared for what you're about to do, but resolute to do it anyway. "I have to be moving on." you say. Selino looks at you by way of acknowledgement. You grit your teeth, and remove one of the iron daggers from its holster at your side, grasping the blade and handing it hilt-first to him. He takes it; it seems he still has strength left in body, if not perhaps in spirit.

The two of you do not discuss what the dagger is for. You don't have to. "When all is well." you say, "I'll endeavor to have your body recovered, and make sure you have the proper rites befitting a soldier. I hope your soul can forgive me for the temporary disgrace."

Selino takes a deep breath, but it wavers. He holds out a hand to you. You reach out and grasp his forearm, and he does so with yours. "In the next life." he whispers.

You return the phrase. "In the next life."



Going forward, you are beset with a feeling of...

Choice 1
>Anger - at the monsters who did this in cold blood.
>Despair - at the inevitability of the mortal condition.
>Frustration - at myself, who could not prevent this.

Character Sheet

Fearless June
Mortal Female Human
Fated to live a pleasant but ultimately unproductive life and die peacefully in her sleep.

Attributes
[Physical] Strength: Above Average; Dexterity: Extraordinary; Stamina: Average
[Social] Charisma: Average; Manipulation: Weak; Appearance: Above Average
[Mental] Intelligence: Above Average; Wits: Average; Perception: Average

Abilities
Archery: Expert
Athletics: Expert
Awareness: Skilled
Brawl: Basic
Craft (Cobbling): Basic
Craft (Metalwork): Basic
Dodge: Expert
Integrity: Skilled
Investigation: Expert
Larceny: Basic
Linguistics: Basic
Melee: Basic
Occult: Skilled
Presence: Skilled
Resistance: Skilled
Stealth: Skilled
Survival: Basic

Intimacies
[Defining] I Love My Family
[Major] The Ancient Past Is Fascinating
[Major] I'm Responsible For Mila
[Major] I Trust Alistair After Everything We've Been Through
[Minor] I'm Proud of My Skill at Archery
[Minor] Demons Don't Seem So Bad
[Minor] I Need All The Facts
[Minor] I'm No Better Than Anyone Else

Notable Possessions On Person
Composite Bow [Medium Ranged Weapon]
Wooden Arrows
Iron Arrows
Dagger [Light Melee Weapon, Light Thrown Weapon]
Selino's Short Sword [Light Melee Weapon, +Minimum Brave Damage]
Iron-Shod Gloves [Light Brawl Weapon]
The Everbright Lantern [Minor Artifact]
Chain Shirt [Light Armor, Concealable]
The Forgeheart Opal
The Second Key-Gem (Not Yet Named)

Notable Possessions Stored Elsewhere
A cache of ancient jewelry

Health
Physically, June is feeling exhausted.

Mentally, June is feeling taxed.

Spiritually, June is healthy.

ImperatorV
2016-01-18, 01:51 PM
>Frustration - at myself, who could not prevent this.

Also: Kudos on your writing, for making me value a character who's been in only a few scenes and was rather abrasive. You will be missed Selino.

Eggel
2016-01-18, 03:19 PM
Frustration - at myself, who could not prevent this

I never thought I'd be sad to see Selino go :smallfrown:

Jon0113
2016-01-18, 03:38 PM
anger at the monsters

I can't help but feel frustration would be counter productive at the moment

Xefas
2016-01-18, 04:16 PM
Also: Kudos on your writing, for making me value a character who's been in only a few scenes and was rather abrasive. You will be missed Selino.

Running a game like this is very fun, and foremost I believe it is because, despite the apparently very structured nature of it, the story can unfold in ways the GM can't realistically foresee.

If the forum had chosen a different lifepath, they either wouldn't have had anything to do with the ruins (Kung Fu Geisha), or would've interacted with it much less and much more indirectly (Funereal Priest). If they'd hired a mook-squad, a single badass, or gone with the hapless sidekick, Selino would never have been introduced. If the forum had chosen Mila to come with them on Team Alpha, Selino wouldn't be here. If they'd made different choices regarding Mila and her mom, things could've gone differently in several ways. If they'd set up an ambush in the cellar, the dice would've favored June and Selino a bit more (but, of course, dice are fickle regardless).

I wrote the first post for this thread a ~month ago, with no idea what sort of characters I'd be writing, or the exact sort of plot there might be. I had ideas about the setting, and a few set-pieces that might be interacted with (the upcoming trouble with the Fair Folk to upset the town's status quo, for example). But I had no notion of Selino's existence, and until the dice hit the table (figuratively (http://www.miketilly.com/exalted/diceroller.html)), I had little notion of his death. I was a little choked up writing it. He had a lot more stories to tell.



I'm not sure why I didn't do this earlier, but for those interested, here's a slice of Exalted's official map of Creation, showing the Dreaming Sea region. The red dot I added is the approximate location of Asymach, and the cyan dot I added is the approximate location of Boeth, neither of which are canon locales. I named the big island the Ysyr Empire is on "Chalcedon", as it doesn't have an official name, and the little chain of islands (some too small to be on the map) between Asymach and Palanquin 'The Dreaming Isles'.


http://i.imgur.com/C8egQxd.png

Kymme
2016-01-18, 04:31 PM
>Anger - at the monsters who did this in cold blood.

THEChanger
2016-01-18, 05:04 PM
>Anger - at the monsters who did this in cold blood.

We will have vengeance.

Kymme
2016-01-18, 05:19 PM
We will have vengeance.

All for revenge.

Elenna
2016-01-18, 05:35 PM
>Frustration - at myself, who could not prevent this.

Xefas
2016-01-18, 06:12 PM
While you travel, you have much time to think. Your thoughts begin profoundly self-centered. You feel frustrated that you could not save Selino - you were not strong enough to protect him. What's more, you could have avoided this whole situation by being quicker or more clever, pulling off this heist before things went bad. You even begin to doubt if you should have begun this quest in the first place, pulling others into such a dangerous game. It all very much seems like your fault.

But you didn't stab him. Self-loathing is great and everything, but you come to realize that there are other actors at play here, things beyond your control. Sorrows that begin and end regardless of your wishes. Monsters who commit great evil, and there is nothing you can do about it. But you should be able to, you want to be able to. Frustration and injustice quickly turn to anger. If only you could, you would smite evil-doers, you would crush them. You would make an example of every villain until there is no villainy.

Such things are fanciful thoughts to one lonely mortal. Eventually the fire burns low, and you are left cold.



The larger-than-life stone doors of the vault loom over you. Your stomach is twisted in painful knots, mostly from nerves, but also a not-insignificant amount of hunger. It feels like so long ago that you last laid eyes on them, though in reality it has been a handful of months. You are tired. You are ready for this adventure to be over.

You place the red and orange opal in the small slot on the left door, and the black and blue opal in the small slot on the right door. Then you take a deep breath, and before you exhale, the doors begin to creak and very slowly slide open, rumbling loudly in the quiet hall.

And, on the other side, is another test.

This room is quite large and semicircular, very plain, with smooth stone walls, floor, and ceiling. Nothing fancy, save for the seventy-seven lanterns built into seventy-seven stone pedestals along the floor, reaching about chest-height. Each lantern is, itself, similar to yours, though built directly into each pedestal, and with only a single on/off switch. What it has in addition, however, are the rotating plates beneath each lantern. Each plate has five prongs that bend around to rest at level with the beam of light emanated from the front of the lantern, and is tipped with a series of tiny metal bars and hooks; each prong's tip-design is different, for a total of three-hundred-and-eighty-five different designs among all the lanterns.

Each lantern is spaced a different amount of distance from the flat wall of the semicircular room, but all are pointed to the center of that wall, and each light of each lantern shines a shadow-puppet based on the design of the prong in front of it. Together, they create a vast and intricate collage of intertwined symbols and hieroglyphs on the wall, forming a bizarre mandala centered around a clear, central icon of power at its core - a dragon.

The fire in your soul begins to rise again. You wanted this to be over.

Choice 1
>I try to solve the puzzle. I don't even know where to begin.
>I'm overcome with rage and I smash the puzzle.
>Maybe it's not a puzzle. I try turning off the lanterns.

Kymme
2016-01-18, 06:34 PM
>Maybe it's not a puzzle. I try turning off the lanterns.

sidhe3141
2016-01-18, 07:44 PM
> I examine the dragon in the center, being careful in case there's traps.

Xefas
2016-01-18, 09:52 PM
> I examine the dragon in the center, being careful in case there's traps.

The dragon symbol looks fairly standard as far as you know of occult iconography. Dragons are revered as both holy and powerful, and one dragon of immense and legendary puissance is said to embody each of Creation's five elements - Air, Wood, Fire, Water, and Earth. It is said that all are pious and their minds are close to Heaven. For this reason, dragon symbols are not uncommon, although they are seen as easily ostentatious. Someone who wears a dragon symbol is announcing to the world that they believe themselves to be mighty indeed, and that all are welcome to challenge them if they dare. Board and card games often have a suit, hand, piece, stratagem, or other bit of paraphernalia called 'the dragon' to denote it as the best or most valuable.

This dragon is very simple and generic, and bears none of the attributes usually given to a dragon icon to denote it as a specific element; just a serpentine body, four short claws, and two long whiskers. Air Dragons are usually depicted with more bird-like talons, Wood Dragons with stag-like antlers, Fire Dragons with a mane and ridge of spines down their back, Water Dragons with fins for ears and on the tip of their tails, and Earth Dragons with more visible muscle, and stockier, bulkier bodies; less snake-like.

Eggel
2016-01-18, 11:26 PM
Mindlessly changing symbols to possibly solve an intricate puzzle with practically no chance of success? Pass.

The lanterns all have infinite energy, and if we smash all of them, then we would take infinite damage. Pass.

That leaves us with

I turn off all the lanterns

It kind of sounds like a red herring, but I'll take it anyway.

backwaterj
2016-01-19, 12:15 AM
I try to solve the puzzle. I don't even know where to begin. Kremm and Selino's (and possibly others') sacrifice should not be in vain.

ImperatorV
2016-01-19, 02:38 AM
>Maybe it's not a puzzle. I try turning off the lanterns.

Jon0113
2016-01-19, 03:01 AM
maybe it's not a puzzle

Xefas
2016-01-19, 02:48 PM
You quell your anger for a moment and begin to think. Looking at the puzzle with its staggering complexity makes you miss Mila in more ways than one. You begin to wonder if she's okay.

'But... what if it's not a puzzle at all?' You think. There don't appear to be any visible doors. No safes, or hatches, or hinges, or anything for the puzzle to open. Perhaps it is, itself, a map of some kind, or a cipher denoting where the real treasure is. You take several minutes to examine the mandala from afar; stepping into the lantern-light would obscure the diagram with your own shadow, after all.

Still, after some time, you can make neither heads nor tails of what it could mean. Time to start trying things. The easiest would be to toggle the lanterns; a simple binary state, as opposed to the innumerable symbol combinations available. You go to the farthest right lantern, and flip the switch. Its light disappears immediately, as does the shadow-symbol corresponding to it on the wall.

You turn to the next lantern, but a cold shock creeps slowly up your spine, and you turn to look back at the mandala. But it appears as it should.

You flip the second switch, and another lantern dies away, along with its symbol, far below and to the left of the first. You don't feel anything weird this time. And so, you go to the next and the next, until eight lanterns have been extinguished. That's when you hear the laughter begin. In the cavernous complex, it echoes all around, sourceless and mirthless, like a touch of cold cloth all along your skin. First, you whip your head to the entrance of the vault, expecting some interloper. But there is none. Then, you turn the opposite direction, to the mandala. The dragon is looking at you. Its shadow has no eyes, but somehow it is looking at you. Fear and incomprehension freeze your nerves for a moment, and the serpentine shadow begins to move, snaking its two-dimensional self along the wall towards a gap you have made in the pattern of its cage. The laughter begins to build in volume, and you dart your gaze to follow the dragon's path to its lantern, hoping perhaps to shut it off, but you see now that it is a shadow that is being cast by nothing.

The dragon slips the boundary of the mandala, and the laughter becomes so loud and oppressive that you feel your ears throbbing, your blood thinning, your heart going cold... and you black out.



You open your eyes again to sunlight, beautiful sunlight, and cool wind, and the smell of fresh gore and the screaming of the wounded and dying. A door creaks behind you, one you have closed yourself. You recognize the building you've emerged from; it is an old tenement in Boeth's slums; a thin crack in its foundation, just large enough for an adult to slip through, leads down to a distant place in the old ruins, far from where the vault was.

A half dozen corpses lay scattered about the alley in front of you; dead hours, perhaps, stripped and looted for all their belongings. You can hear more fighting in the distance. And you smell smoke.

'You are alive?' says a voice, its voice regal, on the deep side of average, smooth and confident, though in this case, honestly puzzled. 'Truly, how is it so?'

Your head is beset with a deep fog, as if you hadn't slept for days. Everything hurts. There are joints and muscles and bits of cartilage you were wholly unaware could hurt that now call to you for rest. "Uh, what?" you say aloud, not able to conjure much coherent thought.

'No matter.' the strange voice says, 'I shall kill you again.'

You have a moment to mull that over before a lance of pure agony fires itself somewhere from the base of your spine, up and up, into your brain. You convulse for a moment, and you feel hot blood stream from your nose. You cough, spattering more blood onto the dirt beneath you.

You fall to your knees, the pain giving you some bit of clarity. You look around. "Oh gods. What is happening?" you gasp, and begin to crawl.

'Astonishing.' the voice says. 'Infuriating.' it says. 'Truly.'

After some crawling, you come to an intersection, and two goblins much like the ones you had battled earlier, scaly, shark-like, are rifling through the pockets of the dead - of which this street has many. As far as you can see, corpses both human and goblin, some few of the humans armed and armored, litter the way, along doorsteps, atop market stalls. The two goblins see you and their inhuman mouths stretch into sinister grins. One pulls a wicked little blade from a belt 'round its loincloth, and moves towards you, waving the knife threateningly.

You stumble ungainly to your feet. "My family?" you say. The goblin does not stop. "Where are they?"

As the goblin reaches perhaps two yards from you, you begin to move. All the world seems to slow, as if time were trudging through a deep marsh. You take a few steps and reach down to the goblin's hand. You press a hand against its own and squeeze, then move your other hand to take the knife from its grip. A very slow look of shock begins to inch its way across the thing's face as you watch, like an outside viewer of reality. You step away from the goblin, around, and then behind it. By this time, it looks fully shocked and fearful, and its lagging body begins to make a leisurely turn. You have enough time to look back at the other goblin, who is still walking towards you - or, in truth, running - though it does not seem so, and then look back, before then slitting the first's throat with its own knife.

Time crashes back to normality, and the second goblin turns and flees you with plain terror. The first goblin's corpse hits the ground, and you drop its knife beside it.

"I must..." the fog of your mind churns, "I must... get to higher ground. ...better vantage point." You look up at the roofs of the rickety buildings surrounding you, some of them around twenty feet high - three stories messily stacked on top of one another. You bend your knees and leap, rocketing yourself up into the sky, turning a little flip at the end, and landing on top of one. Walking to the edge, you look out across the roofs of the city and its chaos.

Boeth is burning. Pillars of smoke and ash beyond counting reach into the sky. Miles in the distance, atop its wide hill, the far-away silhouette of the governor's towering mansion lies pitted and shattered. Though you cannot exactly see the fighting and pillaging on the streets below, you can hear its din. And, the most horrific and mighty thing you've ever laid eyes upon looms amid the far-off craftsman's-district. It is like a monolithic ape, colossal enough to palm a human in one hand, its slimy sea-green fur parted around enormous patches of barnacles and mussels and other ocean life that have clung to its hide. On its back, the two jet-black fins of a titanic manta-ray beat like the wings of a terrible bird, casting darkness and wind on all beneath it, while a long and barbed tail lashes through streets and buildings behind it. An indistinct blob of golden light is flying around the creature, seemingly striking it and flying away, like some sort of stinging insect. The behemoth swats at it as a man would a fly.

'This is becoming awkward.' the disembodied voice in your head says, sounding like a proper, embarrassed nobleman. 'It would please me greatly, young fleshling, if you were to kindly lay down and perish. Posthaste, if at all possible.'

"Later." you say, too tired and addled to make great sense of the specifics of what you are saying or what is being said to you, "My family lives over there."



Along the way, you encounter many innocents being butchered in the streets by fey.

Choice 1
>I stop to save some of them.
>I stop for nothing.

Character Sheet

Fearless June
Mortal Female Human
Fated to live an interesting life.

Attributes
[Physical] Strength: Above Average; Dexterity: Extraordinary; Stamina: Average
[Social] Charisma: Average; Manipulation: Weak; Appearance: Above Average
[Mental] Intelligence: Above Average; Wits: Average; Perception: Average

Abilities
Archery: Expert
Athletics: Expert
Awareness: Skilled
Brawl: Basic
Craft (Cobbling): Basic
Craft (Metalwork): Basic
Dodge: Expert
Integrity: Skilled
Investigation: Expert
Larceny: Basic
Linguistics: Basic
Melee: Basic
Occult: Skilled
Presence: Skilled
Resistance: Skilled
Stealth: Skilled
Survival: Basic

Intimacies
[Defining] I Love My Family
[Major] The Ancient Past Is Fascinating
[Major] I'm Responsible For Mila
[Major] I Trust Alistair After Everything We've Been Through
[Minor] I'm Proud of My Skill at Archery
[Minor] Demons Don't Seem So Bad
[Minor] I Need All The Facts
[Minor] I'm No Better Than Anyone Else

Notable Possessions On Person
Composite Bow [Medium Ranged Weapon]
Wooden Arrows
Iron Arrows
Dagger [Light Melee Weapon, Light Thrown Weapon]
Selino's Short Sword [Light Melee Weapon, +Minimum Brave Damage]
Iron-Shod Gloves [Light Brawl Weapon]
The Everbright Lantern [Minor Artifact]
Chain Shirt [Light Armor, Concealable]
The Forgeheart Opal
The Second Key-Gem (Not Yet Named)

Notable Possessions Stored Elsewhere
A cache of ancient jewelry

Health
Physically, June is exhausted.

Mentally, June is feeling taxed.

Spiritually, June is healthy.

Jon0113
2016-01-19, 03:37 PM
I stop to save some of them

THEChanger
2016-01-19, 03:49 PM
>I stop to save some of them.

ImperatorV
2016-01-19, 04:05 PM
>I stop to save some of them.

Kymme
2016-01-19, 05:10 PM
>Stop to save some of them

What have we become? I have a sneaking suspicion that the shadowy dragon was something that we might have released, and now it's trying to posses us. Perhaps we've become a Green Sun Prince?

ImperatorV
2016-01-19, 05:36 PM
What have we become? I have a sneaking suspicion that the shadowy dragon was something that we might have released, and now it's trying to posses us. Perhaps we've become a Green Sun Prince?

I think you're right. Don't think it's a green sun prince though, I'd expect more fire and brimstone out of one of those, and the personality of our new head-mate doesn't match what I think they act like. My knowledge of exalted is not very good, however.

Kymme
2016-01-19, 05:42 PM
I think you're right. Don't think it's a green sun prince though, I'd expect more fire and brimstone out of one of those, and the personality of our new head-mate doesn't match what I think they act like. My knowledge of exalted is not very good, however.

Well, Green Sun Prince is pretty much another name for Infernal Exalted. They can behave in lots of different ways, based off of whichever YOZI choose them. However, we never really received a deal or anything like that, so the chances of us being an Infernal are pretty low*. That said, June appears to have time-dilation powers and the ability to jump good, so we're probably something more than human now.

*Unless we Exalted while we were blacked out. Anything could have happened while we were out.

Xefas
2016-01-19, 06:08 PM
You leap easily from one roof to the next, clearing distance faster than you could on the streets below. Your long braid whips dramatically with every jump, wind and smoke flowing about you.

"Why can I do this?" you pose to the air, your words prosaic from numbness of body and soul.

There is a moment of quiet. Then the voice comes again, 'You presume to speak to me, human? Ask of me? And yet you dare to defy my own requests.'

You squint, frown, a feeling of annoyance bubbling up among the fog of your mind. "I can't die yet. But..." you sigh, "...after my family is made safe and well, I feel I should like the rest, anyhow."

The voice makes a scoffing sound. 'I dwell in your Po soul, human. For now. Soon I shall become too large for you to contain, and burst your spiritual and corporeal forms like an overripe fruit.'

"Then..." you follow that logic, "...I'm drawing on your power?"

A quiet, throaty chuckle echoes around your skull. 'Of course not. Do you see yourself laying utter waste to the city around you? Does your every step bring awe and ruin to this undeserving world? No, you are using your own meager power, enlightened to my nature. Your bland human essence has been... overwhelmed.'



--Your Spiritual Power has been awakened. You can now use it to fuel supernatural powers.

--You've gained a supernatural power: Shadow Swiftness.

Shadow Swiftness is an active (as opposed to passive) ability that supplements any action that could be benefited by moving or thinking faster, or by being lighter or more agile. It is clumsy and inefficient at its job, but broad, and a variable amount of Spiritual Power can be spent on it. Currently, small uses of this power make you merely seem fantastically heroic, and are not particularly draining if used sparing. Large expenditures of power can make you very temporarily superhuman. Powers branching off of Shadow Swiftness can refine it, making it less draining or more potent in narrow applications.

--You've gained a supernatural power: Leaping Shadows Method

This active power, branching from Shadow Swiftness, allows you to concentrate for a moment to efficiently charge your body with power for a short period of activity. During this period, using Shadow Swiftness to leap slightly superhuman distances is completely free. These leaps are based on being light and ineffable, like darkness, rather than using superhuman strength, and are therefore not terribly fast. Powers branching off of Leaping Shadows Method can refine it to increase it duration or decrease its cost.



Choice 1
>Thank the voice for its aid, entirely indirect as it is.
>Respond with revulsion.
>Say nothing.



Your progress is briefly halted as you come to the town's "lower" square, normally bustling with activity. On opposite sides of the square are two large and heavily fortified buildings - the main courthouse and the old temple to Boeth's City-God, before her new temple was built in the "upper" square, on the more affluent side of town. Now it is a divided-up hodge-podge of shrines to dozens of minor local gods of trade, health, hearth, and luck.

Both buildings have had their entrances built up further with wooden barricades, creating chokepoints by which two small groups of militiamen and armed citizens hold off a veritable legion of goblins, and similarly small but odder things, from breaching their stand and, presumably, killing the unarmed innocents sequestered within. The goblins are leaderless and undisciplined, literally crawling over one another in their eagerness to slaughter the defenders.

You take a flying leap from your current rooftop over to the nearby temple and stand overlooking the entrance and the butchery beneath. Bodies pile on both sides; for every human dead there are five goblin corpses, but it is certainly arithmetic the defenders cannot afford. You feel power surge through you like nothing you've ever felt before, nothing you can describe, and time again slows by your reckoning. In the span of a few seconds, you empty your entire quiver, iron and wooden arrows, down onto the goblin assailants in a rain of sharp death.

The volley kills several, though hundreds remain. More so, it gives them pause. The goblins and humans alike look up at you as you leap down from on high and land gracefully on your feet with nary a sound, behind the barricade, amidst the militia. There's a moment of silence until you grab the shoulder of a well-armed guardsmen and gently push them forward to the breech. "Defend me." you say sternly, and the warriors around you fill in, shields first, to do so. Then you grab the arm of a plainly dressed peasant behind you and say, "More arrows.", not wasting words in your state of fatigue.

Soon, more arrows come, and you fill your quiver, taking a floaty leap up onto the second-story windowsill of the temple, and unloading your ammunition yet again into the rag-tag crowd of monsters, dropping a dozen more corpses in the blink of an eye. You sense they've begun to fear you.

Off in the distance, you see the form of the ape-manta-behemoth roiling from some inner unwholesomeness. Its primate body begins to collapse and implode on itself, and its fin-wings fold inward, enclosing themselves over the storm of broken flesh. Then the wings, too, start to shrink, until they unfurl again, revealing a man-sized figure on the horizon. The golden silhouette, now clearly a man wreathed in a nimbus of golden fire, clutching a comically massive blade in significant excess of his own size, regards the strange new fey. They begin some manner of parley.



After contributing to the rout of the goblins at the square, you leap onward, not stopping to accept any thanks. In the interim, the golden man and his fey adversary have taken up arms once more, and are bouncing off one another in the sky like two battling dragonflies.

As you near the craftsman's district, the trail of devastation left by the behemoth becomes more apparent to you. Entire city blocks are flattened to nothing, leading up to the point in the palisade a mile away, facing southwest to the sea, where the wall has been smashed to splinters. You look on streets that you'd walked your whole life, establishments you'd been to with your family, the homes of childhood friends. More of your tired haze is burnt off by the growing rage.

Just as you alight in front of your parent's home, thankfully in a block not yet crushed or sacked, the golden man above is sent hurtling to the ground, grinding a great furrow through the earth with his body, and shattering a tailor's shop and a noodle stand on his way. Then, he gets up, brushes himself off, and flies up yet again to rejoin the stalemate.

Choice 2
>I take my family out of their home and try to sneak them out of the city.
>I tell my family to stay safely in their home while I try to end whatever is going on.

Kymme
2016-01-19, 06:23 PM
>Say nothing.
>I take my family out of their home and try to sneak them out of the city.

Well, this is f*cking awesome. We should probably get away before the whole city is immolated in a Solar Spirit Bomb, though.

sidhe3141
2016-01-19, 06:34 PM
>Thank the voice for its aid.
Just because it seems to hate us and is trying to kill us and says it will explode us is no reason to be rude.

>I tell my family to stay safe.
We've got enough power to save this place. Maybe. It would be irresponsible not to try.

Jon0113
2016-01-19, 07:21 PM
thank the voice for its aid

stay safe where they are

Although we are pretty much defined by our family, I think they are safer where they are

ImperatorV
2016-01-19, 08:37 PM
>Thank the voice for its aid, entirely indirect as it is.

If we are going to inevitable explode, maybe being nice will buy us a tiny piece of extra time. Time we can use.

>I tell my family to stay safely in their home while I try to end whatever is going on.

There is an exalted battle going on, and people are thinking of not getting involved??? This is what the game is about! It's time to be awesome! Also maybe the solar can solve our little exploding problem if we help him.

Eggel
2016-01-19, 08:52 PM
Thank the voice for its aid, entirely indirect as it is

I tell my family to stay safely in their home while I try to end whatever is going on

Yay bandwagons!

Elenna
2016-01-19, 10:02 PM
Thank the voice for its aid, entirely indirect as it is

I tell my family to stay safely in their home while I try to end whatever is going on

Ah, the joy of bandwagons :smallbiggrin:

EDIT:
http://i431.photobucket.com/albums/qq40/happyturtle-avs/posters/128793118429582186.jpg

THEChanger
2016-01-19, 10:29 PM
>Thank the voice for its aid, entirely indirect as it is.

My general policy is politeness to supernatural entities living inside my body. Tends to help with indigestion.

>I tell my family to stay safely in their home while I try to end whatever is going on.

That's definitely a Solar. I think it might be...

Circle Time.

Xefas
2016-01-19, 11:46 PM
An eye peeks out from a partially open window shutter. Then the front door of your parents' house opens, and your father's tall, skinny, and wildly-bearded form emerges, backed by your older sister, who still manages to appear disapproving along with her terror. He waves you closer, whispering something low enough that you can't quite make it out, and you take a few steps to that effect, then glance back and up at the two beings dueling overhead. "Dad. No, Dad. Look, I'm going to try to fix this. Get back inside." you say. He keeps gesturing, with more urgency, and you can tell he'd be using his authoritative voice if he could at the moment.

You roll your eyes and give an exaggerated shrug, pull out your bow and turn around.

On closer inspection, you see more detail in the combatants. The man in golden flame is very... waxed. You can tell, for his superbly sculpted and statuesque physique is only clothed in the most generous sense. He wears a sparse array of thin strips of gold cloth, so fine and so tightly bound to his body that they seem more like filigree inlaid to metal than clothing on flesh. The material defies all physical logic and retains perfect shape regardless of motion or gravity. The ensemble ends in a pair of thick-soled sandals that lace to the knee. His hair is long, flowing, and a sun-bleached white-blonde. You think he might have a very lightly colored peach-fuzz beard, but it's too distant to know for certain. His sword's blade is easily eight feet long and two feet thick, though its edge is only slightly greater than that of a reasonable weapon. It shines in the same wondrous and enchanting fashion as the torc you gave to Mila, the fire of the man's soul causing its inner light to dance along.

The fey is equally handsome, though less visibly muscled and somewhat more clothed. His skin is pale and slightly blue-tinted, his hair very dark, short, and perfectly quaffed, with a single noticeable strand left purposely out of place. His black leather armor is parted in the front to reveal his bare chest, and his pants seem too tight to conceal proper protection. He retains two glossy black wing-like fins that float elegantly behind him, and his head is crowned with two horns reminiscent of a manta ray's cephalic appendages. He wields a long, three-pronged silver trident.

Both bear significant wounds, and whatever grandstanding and flourishing may have defined their battle previously, their struggle seems to be getting more desperate by the minute.

You nock an arrow and raise it in their direction. Amidst the epic clash, you go unnoticed. You take several long seconds to take perfect aim. The power of your soul rushes forth from within you, and you pour all of it into your concentration, into your arms, your hands, steadying you, slowing the world, creating a perfect shot. Then you reach deep into your willpower and you feel yourself connecting with a moment in the very near future - the perfect moment for the perfect shot.

You hear a short, fake sigh in your head. 'You seem like a nice...' the voice in your head begins, then pulls back on its words, thinking. Choosing? 'Girl. I think. You seem like a nice girl. I know that the trappings of correct behavior come difficultly for your kind. Mmm. If at all, really. But you've made an effort. And you're not long for this world. I am magnanimous, and there is little I believe more in than equivalency. And therefore I shall deign to advise you in this decision.'

You furrow your brow, but do not take your eyes off of the perfect shot, the perfect moment. "Decision?" you think at the voice. This time you did not say it out loud, but merely willed it, mentally, at the voice. "What decision?"

Your mind is quiet for a half-instant longer than you'd expected. And the voice returns, very earnestly, 'Ah, um. Human. Are you... simple?'

Your whole face, rather than just your brow, contorts in concern and some small indignation. "What? I- I- no."

'Alright.' the voice says, not sounding entirely convinced, 'The decision of who it is you are going to shoot.'

"Obviously I'm going to shoot the milk-livered whoreson pig-shagger that has lead an army to burn my town and slaughter my people." you say inwardly, your thought-voice raising a few imaginary octaves.

The voice very softly clears its entirely non-existent throat. 'Ah. Well, it sounds as if you have made up your very... incomplex mind about the affair. Still, if you would like to try considering the movements of your life more than one step at a time, consider that your town is already burnt, your people already slaughtered, and that this fey may not be as feeble as it projects. The warriors of the Raksha are like gladiators. They put on a show. Humans are not as elegant. Nor clever. You can be certain that this one truly gazes at the veil of death. Kill the Sun-Chosen, and perhaps you will ingratiate yourself to two powerful beings in one act.' The voice somehow mentally winks at you.

Choice 1
>I go with the sane and reasonable option of killing the monster who has brought ruin to the only world I've ever known.
>I suffer some kind of psychotic fracture and listen to the malevolent voice in my head that says it wants me to die, and kill the heroic defender of my people.

Kymme
2016-01-19, 11:59 PM
>I go with the sane and reasonable option of killing the monster who has brought ruin to the only world I've ever known.

Elenna
2016-01-20, 01:02 AM
>I go with the sane and reasonable option of killing the monster who has brought ruin to the only world I've ever known.

I don't actually know anything about the setting or either of the two races, but sanity sounds good.

Question: Does June know anything about the Sun-chosen or the fey?

Xefas
2016-01-20, 01:25 AM
Question: Does June know anything about the Sun-chosen or the fey?

Creation is flat. Its edges are blurry, but they truly exist, and when one steps across the threshold of reality, they enter the Wyld. The Wyld is a place of chaos and subjectivity, of dreams and nightmares, of wonder and madness. Its touch mutates mortals (and some say Gods as well) in flesh and soul, and makes them something alien.

"Fey", "Faeries", and "The Fair Folk" are what you know to call the natural denizens of the Wyld. They are all, to a one, insane, and to exist in Creation they must feed on the souls of mortals. Their very existence is inimical to stability and reason, and they take many shapes - Goblins are what your people call their weakest number, the footsoldiers and servants, though they likely have many species among them. Sidhe are what you call their greater and more powerful entities, Lords and Ladies of the Wyld who rule chaos and own disorder. Each one is spun directly from the Wyld itself, and has no soul of its own.

Legends told in Chalcedon say that many centuries in the past, the fey unleashed a terrible plague spawned from the depths of the Wyld that destroyed much of human civilization, and that their armies then marched across the face of the world with the purpose of consuming and thereby annihilating it utterly. Creation's greatest Gods and Heroes rallied together and somehow won the day, though your legends say not how. The Sorcerer-Kings of Ysyr resettled the desolate land of Chalcedon afterward, and mastered sorceries specifically created to corrupt, enslave, and destroy the fey, and demonstrated their power such that the Fair Folk who sail the Dreaming Sea agreed never to step foot on Chalcedon's soil.

Fair Folk hate iron, which burns away the threads of chaos that they are spun from.

You know absolutely nothing about what a "Sun-Chosen" is, save for what the Forge-Demons hinted at; that they were powerful and may have once ruled Chalcedon. And that they seem to treat demons badly. The voice in your head is implying that the Sun-Chosen are also human.

THEChanger
2016-01-20, 01:37 AM
>I go with the sane and reasonable option of killing the monster who has brought ruin to the only world I've ever known.

ImperatorV
2016-01-20, 01:54 AM
>I go with the sane and reasonable option of killing the monster who has brought ruin to the only world I've ever known.

As much as I love insanity and subversions... This thing is the leader of the force that killed Selino.

backwaterj
2016-01-20, 02:09 AM
>I go with the sane and reasonable option of killing the monster who has brought ruin to the only world I've ever known.

Assuming the beast isn't me, that is. :smallwink:

Xefas
2016-01-20, 12:55 PM
"I appreciate your most gracious advice." you think at the voice. "But I must do what my heart demands."

You hear a 'Hmph'. More disappointed than angry.

The moment that you've been waiting for arrives, and you release your last iron arrow. Cutting through the air, it flies straight and true, and the sidhe monstrosity moves directly into its path as if on cue. The arrow strikes diagonally and upward, through where a human's kidney would be, and up through its torso, and out its left shoulder. The fey freezes in shock and horror, and the Sun-Chosen knows this to be his greatest and, perhaps last, opportunity. Placing his blade horizontal, and setting a hand on it, he unleashes a thunderous shout, and all the fire of his golden nimbus implodes, snaking through his arms and into the blade itself, which ignites like a miniature sun. Putting both hands again on its hilt, he hauls it back, and then swings it like a mighty club directly through the fey's body. All of the sword's power is released as a wave of golden light that soars onward after the strike, coalescing as some kind of mythical lion with the head and wings of a bird, which screeches across the sky and explodes. For a moment, you and everyone in the town below are blinded by the ensuing flash.

As the brilliance fades, you see the fey's body topple limply down through the air, its severed head falling after it, an expression of abject shock frozen onto its face.

The Sun-Chosen begins to slowly, one inch at a time, begin floated down to earth, and his face is searching the area below. He finally catches sight of you, smiles a gleaming white smile, and gives you a short little salute. Then, making a motion as if jumping on air, a thin aura of golden light appears anew around his body, and he rockets off towards the embattled portions of Boeth that remain, ostensibly to clean up the goblins that must now be in total disarray.

You sigh and walk towards the house.



Your dreams are restless, full of darkness and death and implacable foes that cannot be run from nor reasoned with. And therefore it is no surprise when your mind drifts to a dream-version of your own bedroom, a single lamp burning on a table in the black of night. The sidhe you'd killed - helped kill, anyway - is standing over you, headless stump still oozing blood, its own severed head coddled lovingly in its right arm.

"Can I not have one dream tonight that isn't a nightmare?" you mumble to yourself.

'Hmmm.' you hear your inner voice again. 'Don't be rude. This man has been waiting in your room for hours. Raksha are like that. He's probably waiting for you to inhale to scream, so he can dramatically cover your mouth at the last moment.'

Your sleepy brain takes a moment to process things. Then your eyes widen and you start to reflexively yell, but the sidhe lunges with inhuman speed and covers your mouth dramatically with his free hand, stifling the sound. Your hands grab onto his arm, wrenching with all their strength, but he seems no more moved by the effort than would a mountain. His grips tightens a little, and the bones of your skull suddenly feel a lot more fragile than they did a second ago.

'Excellently done.' the voice says.

Unable to yell outwardly, you yell inwardly at the voice. "If you knew this thing was standing over me all night, why didn't you say something?!"

'And why would I? I don't necessarily want him to kill you, but if he was going to, he'd have done it already while you were asleep. He's probably just going to... torture you a little bit. Or murder your family or something. Droll.' the voice says.

"You ruined my story, girl." you hear the sidhe say, the sound of something in the outside world snapping you back to it. "How do you plan to repay me?" Its voice is both cruel and enticing, despite the fact that it comes from a severed head.

You think for a moment and then, not willing to give the thing the terror it most likely wants, you instead lick the inside of its hand. It recoils immediately with a repulsed, "Eeugh." And you jump off the bed to your feet. It takes a step back, waving its free hand in the air and wiping it on its pants, mumbling "Gross! That's... ****ing gross..."

"What do you want?!" you hiss quietly at the thing. You're not sure you want to rouse the others and perhaps provoke the sidhe into attacking them.

"As I said-" it hisses back, still plainly disgusted by you, "-you Ruined. My. Story. I've been writing this tale for a decade, ever since that blonde tart took his second breath. He chases my army across the Dreaming Sea, I masterfully evade him, make landfall on Chalcedon, break the old oaths, butcher some innocents, he confronts me, all righteous indignation and glorious solar fury, but then I strike him down!" he makes a little swinging motion in the air, "Against all odds, at the very brink of my own death. The audience swoons, they think it's all over." he makes a faux swooning gesture, "An unhappy ending. But wait! What do you know, the deathblow just narrowly missed his heart. He's still alive. A local boy takes him in, cares for him, nurses him back to health, all the while dodging my jackbooted goblin patrols that are continuously sweeping the city for survivors. Eventually, he regains his strength, learns a lesson about love and friendship, and then confronts me a second time." The fey's movements are becoming more erratic and excited, "I've built this, this, fortress made of human corpses around the ruins of the governor's mansion. It's hideous. I'm just this awful villain. Total lack of audience sympathy. And he confronts me, right? And we fight again, but this time, he has this selfless spark of true friendship that gives him the last ounce of power he needs to turn the tables and kill me." He slaps his hand against his chest, as if imitating a stab wound. "I'm just... just impaled on this guy's giant sword. And I'm just gasping my last breath, dying, and there's this really uncomfortable sexual tension and then... then curtains. Fade to black." He looks over at you, expectantly.

"...You're insane." you state very plainly.

"And you're impossible." the fey throws back at you, "You ruined everything. My masterpiece."

You glance over at the iron daggers on your bedside table. "There's no story, you loon. There's no audience. You're killing real people." you say, uselessly, but inching very slowly towards the table.

The fey rolls its eyes. "There's no story now. But there will be. You'll help me with that." It smiles. "Which would you say is your favorite sibling?"

Rage flashes across your face and you snatch up a dagger, taking a single threatening step forward and brandishing the blade. "Touch them and I will kill you, monster."

The sidhe gives a quiet, wheezy chuckle. "Do you seriously believe I would risk you fouling up my new magnum opus as you did my first one? Just to be sure, I cursed all three of them hours ago."

Power surges through you, and you lunge at the creature with your knife, moving faster than any human could. The sidhe is fast, too, but caught off guard, and you cut a fiery scarlet trail through its left bicep before it can dodge out of the way, rolling across your room and bouncing back up, flat against you wall. "Gah! Stupid girl. I haven't even told you what the curse is yet, or how to lift it. You're the worst protagonist."

All pretenses at remaining quiet are discarded and you scream, "Undo this or die!"

The creature's eye twitches and it begins to look a little worried. "I've not the power to, if you must know. I've put them under a curse of dreamless sleep that will last until the end of their days, and only an even mightier counter-curse using a focus that embodies your love for them can break it."

You can hear your parents stirring elsewhere in the house. You begin to step towards the fey, arm outstretched to grab it, but it nimbly backpedals out of your grasp. "For this story..." it begins, "...you can call me... Dark Lord... no, no, Emperor, no... Fell... Bad, Dark Bad, Blood... Fire... Uh, Death... Um, just how about Lord Grave. That's spooky."

Your parents pull the latch on your door and walk in just as you sink your knife to the hilt into the wall. The fey is gone, and you're alone.



The sound of your parents' sobs slowly melt away with every step you take. You dare not look back at them as you head for the palisade.

'So you've decided then? We're going to this 'Ysyr?'' the voice says.

"The Sorcerer-Kings are the only magi in Chalcedon. And not only are they vastly powerful, they have magic specially made to fight the Fair Folk. There's no better place to go to find a counter-curse." you think to it.

The voice intellectually nods. 'Splendid.'

Choice 1
On my journey, I decide to treat the voice...
>As a strange, foreign friend. We're stuck together, so I might as well not make things unpleasant.
>As a potential teacher. I have so much to learn, and I will desperately need greater power in the days to come.
>As a gracious and powerful noble. That seems to be how it wants to be treated, and I don't want to give it reason to continue trying to kill me.
>As a cruel and detestable monster. I won't respect something that can't give me an ounce of its own respect.

Kymme
2016-01-20, 01:33 PM
>As a potential teacher.

Shouldn't we try to find Alistair and Mila before we go? I don't think that they perished in the fey attack.

Jon0113
2016-01-20, 01:59 PM
as a potential teacher

Xefas
2016-01-20, 02:14 PM
Shouldn't we try to find Alistair and Mila before we go? I don't think that they perished in the fey attack.

You don't like to think that Alistair or Mila might be dead. But your parents' house was the agreed upon rendezvous point after the heist. You asked your parents if either of them had been by since you all left, and they answered in the negative. You could go looking for the two of them, but if they wanted to be found, and were not greatly indisposed in some manner, they would come here.

It's possible that, in the fallout, they went into hiding or fled the city, deciding that returning to your house was too dangerous. In either case, it would take too long to search for them. You don't know how eternal cursed sleep might effect your siblings, physiologically speaking. You'd prefer to cure them as quickly as possible.

ImperatorV
2016-01-20, 03:25 PM
>As a potential teacher. I have so much to learn, and I will desperately need greater power in the days to come.

People mostly have the same ideas as me it seems.

Also, Lord Fails-at-names is amazing. Best character ever.

Eggel
2016-01-20, 05:18 PM
As a potential teacher. I have so much to learn, and I will desperately need greater power in the days to come



[B]People mostly have the same ideas as me it seems. [/I]

I prefer to think of it as a giant bandwagon :smallwink:

Xefas
2016-01-20, 05:59 PM
Boeth is in relatively-civil disarray. You could recover your stash of jewelry, but people are worried about more visceral things at the moment, so selling some of them with any amount of haste is unlikely. Therefore, you have no money, and no rations to travel with. In your hunger and exhaustion, you'd consumed much of your family's own store of food, and do not feel like going back and asking them for more.

Choice 1
>I recover my hidden cache of loot anyway. It may help me in Ysyr.
>I leave my loot where it is. Carrying so much on my person, traveling alone, might make me a target for banditry.

Choice 2
>I hope to hunt and scavenge for enough food on the road.
>I pillage some of the houses of the dead for food and coinage to take with me. They're not using it anymore.



As you walk, you ask the voice in your head, "So, why haven't you killed me yet?"

'Hmmm? Oh?' it sounds as if it had been thinking of something else, 'Ah, yes. I spent a great deal of time considering and I'm not certain it's in my best interests yet.'

It goes quiet. You sigh. "...And?" you coax it.

'And what?' it answers.

"And why is that?" you ask, trying to keep a polite a tone as possible.

'I am not your servant, human. I speak as I wish, and I am under no compulsion to justify myself on your command as if I were some variety of pet.' It sounds a little more indignant than usual.

You stop in your tracks, put your hands together and breathe. "Of course." you say, "You are right. We have not even been properly introduced. I am called Fearless June by my peers. If it would please you, I'd humbly ask to speak with you as... a supplicant."

The voice is quiet. 'Very well.' it says tentatively, 'In your tongue, my old and weathered name means The Darkness That Follows. I am a Prince and a God older than any you are ever likely to see again. I was ancient even before my imprisonment.' it says the word with naked hatred, but those that come next feel much more solemn; even lonely, 'If my kingdom still stands... it is very far away.' You let the voice take its time. Eventually, it again speaks, 'Mmmm... but what is it you supplicate me for, petitioner?'

"Knowledge." you say, "Power. You seem to know the ways of both, and I seem to have less than I'd like of either, Darkness That Follows."

The thing laughs its heatless, wretched laugh. 'Humans!' It says, and a note of nostalgia creeps into its voice. 'They change with such speed and tenacity, and yet they never change.' Its laugh dies down to a chuckle, and then ends. 'And what have you to trade for my tutelage?'

"I find myself as your vessel, Honored Teacher. Surely during your stay, there will be things that you want. Things that will make your time more enjoyable. I don't have a clue what they might be, but I will gladly act in your service to make our relationship as pleasant as possible." you say.

'Hah.' it says, 'You promise far more and far less than you rightly should, student. For now, I shall wait and see if you are all talk. Expect many of my requests to be... unreasonable.'



--You've begun a basic rapport with The Darkness That Follows. You can ask him simple questions about himself, the universe, the supernatural, and various esoterica, and he might answer. Anything beyond the basics and vague things will require a stronger positive relationship.


Fearless June
Mortal Female Human
Fated to live an interesting life.

Attributes
[Physical] Strength: Above Average; Dexterity: Extraordinary; Stamina: Average
[Social] Charisma: Average; Manipulation: Weak; Appearance: Above Average
[Mental] Intelligence: Above Average; Wits: Average; Perception: Average

Abilities
Archery: Expert
Athletics: Expert
Awareness: Skilled
Brawl: Basic
Craft (Cobbling): Basic
Craft (Metalwork): Basic
Dodge: Expert
Integrity: Skilled
Investigation: Expert
Larceny: Basic
Linguistics: Basic
Melee: Basic
Occult: Skilled
Presence: Skilled
Resistance: Skilled
Stealth: Skilled
Survival: Basic

Intimacies
[Defining] I Love My Family
[Major] The Ancient Past Is Fascinating
[Major] I'm Responsible For Mila
[Major] I Trust Alistair After Everything We've Been Through
[Minor] I'm Proud of My Skill at Archery
[Minor] Demons Don't Seem So Bad
[Minor] I Need All The Facts
[Minor] I'm No Better Than Anyone Else

Notable Possessions On Person
Composite Bow [Medium Ranged Weapon]
Wooden Arrows
Iron Arrows
Dagger [Light Melee Weapon, Light Thrown Weapon]
Selino's Short Sword [Light Melee Weapon, +Minimum Brave Damage]
Iron-Shod Gloves [Light Brawl Weapon]
The Everbright Lantern [Minor Artifact]
Chain Shirt [Light Armor, Concealable]
The Forgeheart Opal
The Second Key-Gem (Not Yet Named)

Notable Possessions Stored Elsewhere
A cache of ancient jewelry (Boeth)

Health
Physically, June is a little tired.

Mentally, June is feeling very taxed.

Spiritually, June is healthy.

Supernatural Powers
Shadow Swiftness (Active, One Action, Variable Cost; Grants superhuman agility, lightness, or speed of body or mind.)
Leaping Shadows Method (Active, One Scene, Low Cost; Use Shadow Swiftness to make mildly superhuman jumps for free.)

Jon0113
2016-01-20, 06:55 PM
1: I leave my loot where it is
2: I scavenge from the houses of the dead

Eggel
2016-01-20, 10:44 PM
I recover my hidden cache of loot anyway. It may help me in Ysyr

We have to have something to sell if we want to buy

I pillage some of the houses of the dead for food and coinage to take with me. They're not using it anymore

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-20, 10:54 PM
Just got back... alright, we've got shadow powers! Those are the best kind of powers.
...and our free artifact is a lantern. Real clever, Xefas.

1: Recover our hidden cache of loot.
2: Pillage the houses of the dead or food and coin.

Just because we're nice people doesn't mean we're going to stand on ceremony while our family's under a horrible curse. Get prepped, ask our questions now, and get ready to spend a lot of time gone-to-ground in the big city. Speaking of questions...

Question(s): If you were a king, what was your old Kingdom like? If you were a God, what did you require of your faithful?

Xefas
2016-01-21, 12:44 AM
Question(s): If you were a king, what was your old Kingdom like? If you were a God, what did you require of your faithful?

'Mark these words well, pupil, the fourth of my wisdoms, the lodestar of my faith, the motto of my kingdom. There can be no hope without tragedy, and no tragedy without hope. In the land that I ruled, there was no suffering without repose, no dusk without a dawn, no happiness without pain, no love without heartbreak. For all things there must come an undoing, all order must come to chaos, for every light there must be a darkness. All I ask of my faithful is for them to fall to ruin, and rebuild, and be ruined again until the light of their life meets its darkness. They would pray for me to lift them up, and know full well that in the days to come, I would find them a new low.

I think this is why I once loved humans, and might yet love them again. You are the only mortal creatures endowed with the cognition to understand your own inevitable demise, and the weakness to be unable to avoid it. Your lives are each their own sad play, and in your futile attempts to find purchase in a vast cosmos that moves beyond your comprehension, you reach levels of desperation and sorrow that no immortal spirit could ever truly match.

I am a king of a kingdom eternally falling, and a god of hope in a church of misery.' So says The Darkness That Follows.

ImperatorV
2016-01-21, 02:36 PM
>I recover my hidden cache of loot anyway. It may help me in Ysyr.

We can possibly trade it for something.

>I pillage some of the houses of the dead for food and coinage to take with me. They're not using it anymore.

We are adventurers. Taking stuff from dead people is what we do.

THEChanger
2016-01-21, 04:01 PM
>I recover my hidden cache of loot anyway. It may help me in Ysyr.

>I pillage some of the houses of the dead for food and coinage to take with me. They're not using it anymore.

Supplies. They're important.

Questions for The Darkness That Follows:

Fourth of your wisdoms? May we hear the first three? And the sequels, if there are any?

So...that was you I set free in the lantern room, right? I. Ah. Don't remember much after that. What happened? What were you doing there? Did that Demonbinder person trap you there?
...One of the demons there called her a Sun-Chosen God-Queen. You called that big shiny fellow a Sun-Chosen. What are they?

...I have a lot of questions.

Xefas
2016-01-21, 05:08 PM
You have no trouble recovering your loot, nor picking through the homes of citizens killed in the attack. You have a purse full of silver, and a few days worth of food from your scavenging. The journey to Ysyr will take two weeks or more, depending on conditions, but it is a well traveled road for traders, and there will be places to exchange your coinage for more provisions. The foothills beneath the Chalcedon Mountains are not sparse of creeks and streams, so you have little concern for finding enough water. The days are getting colder, and so you purchase a simple, thick brown traveling cloak to warm yourself.

It is customary, when beginning a journey, to make certain prayers.

Choice 1
At Boeth's two main gates, there are shrines to the Goddess Mercury, Maiden of Journeys. Their covered altars are draped in wheat-yellow cloth, and their offering bowls are never empty in a town such at this one.
>Offer an eighth of silver to Mercury.
>I'll take my chances.

Choice 2
Nearby, but solidly outside the perimeter of the city, there is a humble wooden temple to the local god of the road between Boeth and Ysyr, attended by two elderly priests. They have a row of large cages outside, full of wild pigeons. For a small donation, they will sacrifice one on your behalf.
>Offer a pigeon to the local road-god.
>I'll take my chances.



The first day, you make good time, and the first night you build a campfire in a clearing off the road where you can tell many campfires have been made before. The land has already begun to rise into rolling, grassy hills, with occasional stretches of sparse woods. As the stars shine above you, you are alone with your thoughts. Which is to say you not very alone at all.

'Tell me a story.' Says the Darkness.

You look puzzled, though you're not sure how the creature living in your soul sees out to the world, so they may or may not benefit from that. "Um. Okay. What kind of story?"

'Truly, I have been gone from Creation for a great period of time. I see that much has changed. Tell me what your world is like.' it says.

You take too long to think, a few minutes mumbling and mulling over things, not sure how to encapsulate your world-view in a single story. And so the voice prompts you, 'Tell me about your hat.'

"My what?" you say, more puzzled still.

'Your hat.' it repeats. 'I saw no other human in your town wearing such a thing. It is a quite singular fashion statement.'

You reach up and pluck the wide-brimmed green hat from your head, with its enormous fluffy feather. Well, it had seen fluffier days, certainly. "How will this tell you of the world?" you ask, gazing at it.

'What more is the world than the sum of its people?' it says, 'When the sun rises on a Creation in which there is no life left to stir, what will the measure of its beauty be with no one to see it?'

"...I guess." you say, lamely.

You proceed to recount the story of how you'd broken the news to your parents about how you were not planning on continuing the family business with your older sister. Your father had given you a lecture about how his father's father's father's father had been a cobbler, and so on. When you walked out, he'd said something about how it was unacceptable that his daughter be a penniless reprobate scavenger. Running with your first crew, as the gormless newbie, you'd all recovered a set of fully intact steel plate armor from a sealed tomb in the ruin - a priceless treasure in a world of iron. Your cut from the sale had been small, but one of the things you bought was this hat. The haberdasher was all too happy to sell it to you, as it'd been sitting in his stock for years without prospect for its purchase. You'd returned to your parents in new clothes and a new hat, and told them that this way not the hat of a penniless reprobate scavenger, but of a Professional Dungeoneer.

"I've never been so proud of myself." you say, smiling involuntarily from the memory.

'That was a good story.' the voice says, having waited politely for you to finish. You're shocked by the compliment, but take it anyway. 'I was considering that perhaps tomorrow I would begin your instruction.' it continues, 'But, perhaps not. It will depend on my mood.'

You stifle the urge to sigh impudently. "As you say, honored teacher."

There is silence for a moment, and you consider the conversation concluded, and begin to lie down. Just as you do, though, the Darkness speaks again, 'But, have you an inclination what would certainly put me in a more pleasant mood?' And you sit back up. You say nothing, waiting. 'Watching you begin your path to power by destroying something that you love...' You can nearly hear the sound seeping out from a sinister grin.

Choice 3
>I break my word to the Darkness That Follows. I cannot abide such... humiliation, destroying something I've placed so much sentimental value in for so many years just so that he might laugh at me.
>I burn my hat in the campfire. I tell myself there are much worse requests that could've been made. It's not like I had to kill someone. Still. It hurts.

- - - Updated - - -



...and our free artifact is a lantern. Real clever, Xefas.

I like to think so. :smalltongue:



...I have a lot of questions.

I'll answer these in the next update.

Jon0113
2016-01-21, 05:36 PM
offer an eighth of silver to Mercury
Sacrifice a wood pigeon
Burn the hat

i think in the world we are in, not offending any gods is a good thing
And at the end of the day, it's a hat, extra power can help save our siblings

Eggel
2016-01-21, 05:45 PM
I'll take my chances

Offer a pigeon to the local road god

I'm not sure how exactly this works, but do we get to keep the pigeon?

I burn my hat in the campfire

As the Master of Stories once said:
:elan: Appearance changes after a period of time has passed are a great way to provide narrative distance from earlier events.

THEChanger
2016-01-21, 06:14 PM
>Make an offering to Mercury
>Make an offering to the local god
>Burn my hat

I...I don't particularly feel like a Professional Dungeoneer any longer. Too much has changed. Maybe some day I will be again. I'll buy a better hat then.

Xefas
2016-01-21, 06:21 PM
I'm not sure how exactly this works, but do we get to keep the pigeon?

You pay the fee, then on your behalf, the priests kill the pigeon and cremate it in a consecrated brazier. They say a prayer for your safe travel while it's burning, and their prayers are lifted on the smoke to Heaven.

Tentreto
2016-01-21, 06:44 PM
>Offering to Mercury
> Offering to road god
> Burn the hat
The ruin god would appreciate the irony if we kept buying hats wherever we went just to burn.

Edit- stupid question, but how would people respond to a voice in our head? Is it utterly bad, or just strange.

ImperatorV
2016-01-21, 08:11 PM
> Offering to Mercury

>Kill a pigeon

We need all the help we can get.

>Burn the hat

Breaking your word to the powerful being in your head is generally a bad idea. No matter how much it makes your eyes water (not in real life though. That would be silly and definitely did not happen).

Xefas
2016-01-21, 09:25 PM
You clench your jaw and toss your hat into the fire. Then you lay back and try not to feel wretched while the Darkness in your mind titters and chortles itself into the night.



As you awaken, you see rain clouds ahead of you, but they seem to be moving slowly in the same direction that you are. With any luck, you'll remain dry today. Without your hat, you find you can flip the hood of your cloak up, keeping your ears warm.

'Are you ready for a lesson, student?' says the voice as you begin walking.

"Ready as I shall ever be." you respond gloomily.

'Good. Please step into my office.'

You turn your head, looking at nothing, eyebrow raised for no ones benefit. "...Your what?"

Suddenly you feel your brain somehow emerge from one state of awareness to another, similar to the feeling of waking directly from a dream into reality. You look down at your hands, your feet - everything seems fine. You check your head. Still no hat. You look around. You're in a dark, damp cave. The smell of warm meat that has been left too long in the sun hangs amid stagnant air and mold. A dim light flickers on toward one side of the cave, filling it with shifting, spidery shadows. On one wall, their is a large window that encompasses nearly its entire length. Looking through the window, you can see the road and the sky and the hills, just as if you were where you had been. The cave you're in seems to be moving, bobbing up and down slightly, as if with steps.

"Please tell me, teacher, that this is not what my soul looks like." you say.

A shape emerges from within the shadows. It looks like a plain, straight-backed wooden chair. Very simple and spartan. In the chair is a flatly dark silhouette that looks exactly like your own shadow, save that it is not wearing your new cloak, but is wearing a shadow-version of your hat. 'More accurately, this chamber represents how well your soul is accommodating me. The nature of your essence and the nature of my essence are not properly compatible.' the same voice you're familiar with is coming from the silhouette, despite the fact that it has no visible facial features; just darkness. 'I... would not mind making some renovations.'

You breathe a short sigh of relief. "Alright." you gesture to the window. "What's going on with that?"

'Your body is running autonomously right now. In the same way that you can walk and read a book at the same time, you can walk and be in this chamber. But, similarly, your concentration will be split. The division is largely in favor of your consciousness in here so... I will keep a look out, so that you do not fall into a hole or a river or something.' the shadow says. 'Now. I think we should start with the basics of essence control. Tell me everything you know about chakras.'

You look at the creature blankly. "What are chakras?"



Right now, you and The Darkness That Follows are working on fundamentals. But eventually, you will start working towards learning a new supernatural power. Your first inclination leads you towards...

Choice 1
>Shooting shadow essence into my braaain. (Offensive Power)
>Experimenting with more ways to use shadow essence for lightness and agility. (Defensive Power)
>Merging some of my mind with my essence, rather than the other way around. (Perception Power)
>Pushing shadow essence out into the world around me. (Utility Power)



You collapse dramatically onto the ground of your cavernous mindscape, having been in a cross-legged meditative position for the last four hours. "I have a cramp." you say.

Your teacher squats down next to your head, putting thumb and forefinger on the bridge of its nose. 'You can't have a cramp.' it says, gesturing to the window that leads to the outside world, 'Your muscles are out there.'

You purse your limps defiantly, and continue complaining, "It's just not possible. I'm Fearless June. I don't have fears to deal with."

It continues massaging its nose. You can tell if it had eyes and cheeks and skin it would be scrunching its face in annoyance. "It's the first chakra. The Root Chakra is blocked by unresolved fear. You have fears, and your inability to admit that is keeping you from properly channeling your essence. Please. I have taught automatons to open their first chakra more quickly than this."



Night comes and you find it in fair weather. You are back in proper, united control of your body. You gather some fallen limbs from a nearby thicket of trees and hack them apart to make a cozy fire in the valley made by the steep slope of a hill, protecting you somewhat from the wind.

"I've been thinking. It must have been pretty awful being trapped in that chamber for so long." you say.

'Immensely boring.' comes the response.

"I met some other spirits that had been trapped down there too. Demons. They said they were bound there by someone called the Blood-Red Maiden of Chains. Was she the one who imprisoned you as well?" you ask.

'Indeed.' it says simply.

You blink. "Oh. C'mon, you have to give me more than that."

'Not much to say, really. Hmm. Long ago, in a distant land...' it begins, but you interrupt, "Distant land? It couldn't have been that distant."

You can hear the voice rasp indignantly. 'Do not interrupt me.' it says, its voice a little higher than usual. 'It's a common expression among my people to begin a story with. I suppose you would say ~Once Upon A Time~?'

"Ah, okay. Continue." you say.

The voice snorts softly. 'As I said. Fairly routine. Uh, something something, shapeshifting master of darkness, something something unspeakable evil. So on so forth, foolish yandere warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me, etcetera etcetera.'

"...If you don't want to tell me, that's fine." you say earnestly. "I was more curious about these 'Sun-Chosen'. They seem god-like in power, but the man who fought the fey in Boeth seemed human."

'They are, and he was.' the voice says.

"But what are they." you ask, a little more strongly.

'You had never seen one before that day, correct?' it asks by way of answer. "That's right." you answer. 'And you know nothing about them? You had never heard of them before you entered your town's hidden ruins?' it continues. "Yes, that's right." you answer again.

'Then, while I do not know what happened to them, and I do not know why their empires have crumbled during my slumber, and how their names have been erased from the rolls of history, I do know much of their origin and of their nature. Their strengths, as well as their weaknesses. And I would hazard a guess that, in these times, such information might prove valuable beyond measure. It is not the kind of knowledge I would part with for free.'



The next day proceeds much as the last had. You awaken, you eat, you enter your mindscape to meditate on the secrets of bodily essence.

"What are the other wisdoms?" you ask, breaking the long quiet, though still remaining in position, eyes closed.

'You need to be focusing.' the Darkness says.

"I'm seeking enlightenment." you say, "Enlighten me. You mentioned four wisdoms. You told me the fourth. What are the first three?"

Your shadowy double sighs, and from the creak, you assume has raised from its chair. Then, it clears its throat, and says with pronounced clarity and strength, 'There is no power without ambition. There is no love without pain. There is no silence without death.' Then, its voice returns to normal, 'We will cover those in time.'

Eggel
2016-01-21, 10:52 PM
Pushing shadow essence out into the world around me

Just think of all the possibilities...

Kymme
2016-01-21, 11:08 PM
>Pushing shadow essence out into the world around me. (Utility Power)

ImperatorV
2016-01-21, 11:31 PM
>Merging some of my mind with my essence, rather than the other way around. (Perception Power)

THEChanger
2016-01-22, 12:38 AM
>Pushing shadow essence out into the world around me. (Utility Power)

Tentreto
2016-01-22, 01:04 AM
>Pushing shadow essence out into the world around me. (Utility Power)

Jon0113
2016-01-22, 02:14 AM
shooting shadow essence into my brain

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-22, 06:16 AM
Experiment with more ways to use shadow essence for lightness and agility.

Nice Aku reference. :smallwink: Did you do it from memory?

Vauron
2016-01-22, 01:13 PM
[X] Shooting shadow essence into my braaain. (Offensive Power)

I'm so used to getting alerts when threads I follow update that I forgot to check up back here. I guess I'm too used to Xenforo forums.

Xefas
2016-01-22, 01:42 PM
You soon come to find sprawling fields of beans and lentils stretching out over the hills for miles around. By late afternoon, the road intersects through a small farming village. It has two inns, both very large, with sizable stables, as well as a smithy, a general store, and an open market slash trading depot. There are a few residences, but you assume that the bulk of the farming families that do their business here actually have homes in the surrounding area.

'This is good.' the voice says.

"Yeah, I'm getting tired of stale bread and moldy goatcheese." you mentally answer it.

'...That too.' it says, 'But there were other opportunities I was speaking of. Firstly, there are horses stabled here. You could steal one tonight.'



Choice 1
>Which I will absolutely not be doing.
>That is an excellent point.



'And secondly-' it continues, '-there is a smithy. And, if you recall, I spoke of certain renovations.'

"I'm afraid I don't follow, teacher." you say, entering one of the inns and proceeding to the counter to purchase a room for the night.

'To make your body more habitable, I'm going to need to make a few improvements to it. Which I cannot do from within your soul without your express permission. Then, I'll need raw materials to make new furnishings. That can be achieved by you making a sacrifice to me. If you melt down and ruin some of that jewelry, it will be of a suitable nature to be offered to me via prayer. Your lower soul functions now as a godly sanctum of sorts, so sacrifices earnestly made in my name will appear here as blank, malleable matter for the molding.' it says.

"...You want to do what to my body?" you say, incredulous.

'Improve it. Don't tell me you're squeamish. How many humans would beg for the chance to snap their fingers and be stronger or faster without so much as lifting a finger to do it themselves?' it asks rhetorically.

Choice 2
>Forget it. I don't want you messing with my meat.
>I wouldn't mind being stronger. (+Strength +???)
>I wouldn't mind being faster. (+Movement)
>I wouldn't mind a better physique. (+Stamina +Appearance)
>I wouldn't mind sharpened senses. (+Perception +???)

Choice 3
>But my treasure is my own. (Sacrifice nothing)
>And make sure it looks nice inside. I like green. (Sacrifice half the loot from your ruin adventure.)
>And go nuts. It's my soul, I want it to look fancy. (Sacrifice all but a little of the loot from your ruin adventure.)



Nice Aku reference. :smallwink: Did you do it from memory?

Of course. :smallbiggrin:

Jon0113
2016-01-22, 01:51 PM
choice 1: pay for the horse, if not possible, then that is an excellent point
Choice 2: I wouldn't mind being stronger
Choice 3: aw go nuts (from reduced amount if we paid for the horse)
Always try to do the right thing, but that would be a great help with rescuing are siblings

ImperatorV
2016-01-22, 01:59 PM
>Which I will absolutely not be doing.

This is a matter of principle to me because my sister was a horse-thief in Skyrim and I made fun of her for it.

>I wouldn't mind sharpened senses. (+Perception +???)

>bling bling bling

Xefas
2016-01-22, 02:13 PM
choice 1: pay for the horse, if not possible, then that is an excellent point

Just, for clarity's sake, allow me to state that I didn't put an option to pay for the horse for the following reason. June doesn't have enough coin to buy a horse, and handing somebody a fist full of jewelry in the middle of a well-traveling trade route makes her look like a bandit. She could come up with a sob story about being a refugee from Boeth and selling the last of her family's heirlooms to make her way, etc, etc, but she's atrociously bad at lying, and is aware of her own failings in that regard.

THEChanger
2016-01-22, 03:05 PM
>That is an excellent point.
>I wouldn't mind being stronger.
>Sacrifice half.

Resources are important. We need assets which we can liquefy, but there's also no point in not utilizing some of them in useful manners, especially if it makes our host happy. Also I'm on a horse.

Tentreto
2016-01-22, 05:09 PM
Can we actually ride a horse?
Otherwise:
>Which I will absolutely not be doing.
>Forget it. I don't want you messing with my meat.

Our body may be a temple, but sacrificing to a god of ruin, who has explicitly stated he would put people lower than we started seems like asking for trouble.

Eggel
2016-01-22, 05:19 PM
Steal a horse

Being stronger

Sacrifice half the loot

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-22, 05:52 PM
Which I will absolutely not be doing. Guys with horses are either rich or horse thieves. With our impressive talent for verbal manipulation, it'd just be a matter of time before someone tries to kill us for it. Besides, we're a hardened adventurer, we can walk.

I wouldn't mind being faster. We're going alone to the big city, so I would prefer to develop our perception, so we won't get ambushed. But since June is Fearless, I doubt she's concerned with silly things like being cornered and mobbed by assailants. You know, like in the cave...

And make sure it looks nice inside. I like green. Gotta keep some loot to pay people for stuff. Call it a buy-in.

backwaterj
2016-01-22, 08:03 PM
That is an excellent point. Horse thievery taboo or no, that'll cure my family in a fraction of the time.

I wouldn't mind being faster.

And make sure it looks nice inside. I like green. Don't want to get on the Darkness that Follows' bad side. But something tells me Sorcerer-Kings don't work pro bono.

Xefas
2016-01-25, 05:55 PM
You think as you exit the inn and make your way towards the little smithy nearby. "Stronger? You can just... poof, throw muscles onto me?" you ask into your inner mind.

'There's more to it than that. Permanently altering your physical form, especially without side effects, and without any tools or sorcery to draw on, is delicate and arduous work. You are fortunate that I am vastly knowledgeable, and possess a certain intimate gnosis of the human composition.' the voice replies.

You knock on the door and wait. A few moments later, you hear shuffling inside and the door creaks open. Standing in the entrance is a tall and rotund man wearing the thick protective apron, gloves, and other paraphernalia of a blacksmith. His head has not so much a face as a thick cascade of knotted black hair from which a single, scabrous sausage of a nose protrudes.

"Hello." you say politely. The hairy goliath grunts at you by way of acceptance.

"Ummm." you begin, a little off-put, "How much to rent your smithy for a few hours?" You withdraw a couple eighths of silver and show them to him palm-up. The man-beast raises a meaty hand and pulls some of his hair aside, revealing a bloodshot eye that gives you and your money a hard look.

"Rent?" he says, and his rumbling voice sounds like heavy furniture being slid across the floor, "Whadjumean rent?"

"I mean that I want to use your facilities for a few hours. You can do whatever you'd like - go eat some dinner, have a drink - and when you come back, I'll be done. I don't need any materials and I won't-" you're cut off as the man withdraws back into the smithy and slams the door.

You sigh and take a few more coin-pieces out of your purse, then knock again. There's more shuffling, then the door opens again. The man does not look any more friendly than he had previously. He gazes you up and down, at least you assume, then reaches out a hand, clumsily plucks a piece of eight from your outstretched hand, and crunches it between two teeth of his cavernous mouth, presumably to check its authenticity. "Why?"

"Obviously I'm doing something unsavory. How much for you to not ask what it is?" you say with a fake smile.

He seems to consider that, pocketing the eighth that he took. Then he says, "More."

You sigh again and dump the contents of your hand into his, then take out your purse and dump a few more coins into his grip. He jingles them around his scarred palm and fingers for a moment, then seems satisfied and deposits them into a pocket. Then he steps down from his doorway, and you quickly make room for him. "I'll be back." he says, "Anything missing, I come for you." And then he lumbers off down the road.

You enter the smithy and begin orienting yourself with the equipment.

'You've done this before?' the voice asks you.

"A tad." you say, "When I first got started exploring the ruins, I knew I needed to be able to take care of my own equipment. One of the scavengers that I knew at the time knew a smith. He introduced us and I did some off-and-on work there, in exchange for some know-how." You prepare a metal basin and dump half of your glittering golden loot into it, then begin pumping the forge-fire hotter.

Once the gold begins to melt, you kneel and intone a continuous, monotonous prayer to The Darkness That Follows. After a few minutes, an otherworldly hissing and spitting can be heard from the crucible. You continue praying until it stops. When you examine its contents, the gold has been tainted and warped into worthless slag, and the gems have broken apart into colorless glass.



You wait for the blacksmith to return hours later. Other than lighting a few lamps, you've made sure everything is in its proper place as it was before. He gives it a once-over and looks at you, but says nothing. After a few moments, you realize he's not going to, and quickly leave.



You're awoken in the middle of the night by a ragged, wailing scream. It is only after the ensuing shot of adrenaline brings you to full awareness from a dead sleep that you realize that it's your own scream, and that you are in absolute, agonizing pain. Every muscle in your body is contracting violently, and your arms feel as if they've been set on fire and their flesh is being charred away. You gasp desperately for air and instinctively reach out into the darkness to flip your lantern on. As you touch the metal of the switch, a searing jolt leaps from your fingertip directly to your spine and rocks you towards a plateau of deep, primal torment that is entirely novel to you.

In the light, you can more clearly see the state of your trembling arms, whose skin is gone, revealing only raw meat, save for in patches where new skin is slowly growing. Your hands are even further mutilated, with visible bone that is bending and warping itself before your very eyes. You collapse out of bed, and slam your head face-first into the floor, and are unconscious again.



--You've gained a new supernatural power: Demon-Predator Claws
This passive ability raises your permanent Strength attribute. It also grants you claws, which can be used to deal lethal damage with an unarmed strike. The claws it grants are wicked and unnaturally hued, but can be concealed easily under thick gloves.

--You've gained a new supernatural power: Ephemeral Devil-Body
Your body has become inundated with enough dark power that its vitality is no longer wholly physical. This passive ability allows you to sustain wounds that would kill an ordinary human, as well as recover from wounds much faster and fight off infection without medical treatment.



In the swirling abyss of your unconscious mind, you've suffered an epiphany about what misery and ruin truly is. This has accelerated your learning time for your current power.

--You've gained a new supernatural power: Mirage of Beshadowed Visage
With this active ability, you may push shadow essence out into the world, encompassing the space within a few inches of your body with an illusion that masks your features and clothing. You can make yourself appear as anything or anyone you like, so long as it is roughly the same size and shape as you are. This only encompasses the visual, it does not create sound or texture. This ability can be maintained indefinitely, but the spiritual power you commit to it will remain committed, lowering the amount of power you have available to use on other abilities. Power branching off from this one can refine it to function with more senses until it is a perfect disguise, or expand to creating new and different illusions further from yourself.

--Your minor intimacy "I'm Proud Of My Skill At Archery" has been warped to a minor intimacy of "I Enjoy Feeling Powerful"



When you wake again, you do so to movement and gasps of horror not your own. You are lying slumped, half on your bed, half on the floor in a pool of blood and sick. You feel surprisingly spry, and rise to your feet. The innkeeper is in your room with a lit, traditional, lantern of his own. He's thin, elderly, frail, and looking at you in disbelief.

You feel stronger. Inspecting yourself, you look stronger as well, with some noticeable bulk added to your already toned muscles. Your hands are now black as pitch, the color tapering off past your wrist, and their bone structure has been entirely changed to support short, rigid, razor-sharp claws past the furthest knuckle. The skin, too, is rough and leathery. It might be able to catch a blade at the right angle.

The innkeeper mumbles something about "Stay back...!" and pulls a hunting knife on you. Interrupted from admiring your new amazonian physique, you casually snatch the knife from his hand and snap the iron blade in two between your claws. For some reason, you can't help but grin as the pieces clatter to the floor and he turns to run.

Choice 1
>Let the innkeeper run.
>Knock him out.
>Kill him.

Character Sheet

Fearless June
Mortal Female Human
Fated to live an interesting life.

Attributes
[Physical] Strength: Extraordinary; Dexterity: Extraordinary; Stamina: Average
[Social] Charisma: Average; Manipulation: Weak; Appearance: Above Average
[Mental] Intelligence: Above Average; Wits: Average; Perception: Average

Abilities
Archery: Expert
Athletics: Expert
Awareness: Skilled
Brawl: Basic
Craft (Cobbling): Basic
Craft (Metalwork): Basic
Dodge: Expert
Integrity: Skilled
Investigation: Expert
Larceny: Basic
Linguistics: Basic
Melee: Basic
Occult: Skilled
Presence: Skilled
Resistance: Skilled
Stealth: Skilled
Survival: Basic

Intimacies
[Defining] I Love My Family
[Major] The Ancient Past Is Fascinating
[Major] I'm Responsible For Mila
[Major] I Trust Alistair After Everything We've Been Through
[Minor] Demons Don't Seem So Bad
[Minor] I Need All The Facts
[Minor] I'm No Better Than Anyone Else
[Minor] I Enjoy Feeling Powerful

Notable Possessions On Person
Composite Bow [Medium Ranged Weapon]
Wooden Arrows
Dagger [Light Melee Weapon, Light Thrown Weapon]
Selino's Short Sword [Light Melee Weapon, +Minimum Brave Damage]
Iron-Shod Gloves [Light Brawl Weapon]
The Everbright Lantern [Minor Artifact]
Chain Shirt [Light Armor, Concealable]
The Forgeheart Opal
The Second Key-Gem (Not Yet Named)
A small assortment of ancient jewelry scattered about your person

Health
Physically, June is healthy.

Mentally, June is feeling taxed.

Spiritually, June is healthy.

Supernatural Powers
Shadow Swiftness (Active, One Action, Variable Cost; Grants superhuman agility, lightness, or speed of body or mind.)
Leaping Shadows Method (Active, One Scene, Low Cost; Use Shadow Swiftness to make mildly superhuman jumps for free.)
Demon-Predator Claws (Passive; Permanent +Strength, Deal lethal damage with unarmed attacks.)
Ephemeral Devil-Body (Passive; Permanent +Health, Superhuman natural healing)
Mirage of Beshadowed Visage (Active, Indefinite, Low Cost; Create a visual illusion around your body and clothing.)

ImperatorV
2016-01-25, 08:32 PM
>let him run

I think there need to be at least a few more developments before we are depraved enough to hurt an innocent for such petty reasons.

backwaterj
2016-01-25, 09:40 PM
Knock him out.

Innocent or no, we don't want him rousing the town for a good old-fashioned witch hunt. Witch hunts are bad.

Vauron
2016-01-25, 10:14 PM
Knock him out.

His first instinct would likely be to run to the nearest authority figure and call for aid. That is unacceptable. I don't think this would have been as big a deal if we had looked like this when we walked up, mutations can't be that uncommon this close to the Wyld. Granted, the blood certainly isn't helping us at the moment.

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-25, 10:26 PM
What? FEARLESS JUNE is evolving!
Congratulations! Your FEARLESS JUNE has evolved into a Zoroark!

>Let him run.

While we do like power, we also very much dislike being distracted from our quest. Focus. We've already been caught. Doing this in a public place was a bad idea. We need to get out of here, NOW.

If we can just get out of town on the road, our Mystique trick will let us pretend to be a random outsider, like a traveler on the way to a city. Which is what we are. Then we're home free.

Eggel
2016-01-25, 10:50 PM
Knock him out

I mean, what else would you do?

Jon0113
2016-01-26, 03:27 AM
let him run

Tentreto
2016-01-26, 08:16 AM
Knock him out

THEChanger
2016-01-26, 01:21 PM
Knock Him Out

Also, Mirage power into myself without the claws

Xefas
2016-01-26, 04:31 PM
As the innkeeper turns to flee, you reach out and snatch him 'round the neck, stifling any yell before it can escape his spindly throat. Then, with just that hand, you slam his entire body against the wall. With his frail constitution, he goes rigid for a moment, then slips into unconsciousness and slumps to the floor after you release him.

You quickly dart to your clothing and other equipment, piled by the bed, and begin dressing yourself. Fortunately, your chain shirt is much easier to put on in a hurry than your old leather armor had been. It is not long, however, before you hear more sounds coming from the hallway. "I heard a scream earlier..." one voice says, "I heard it too." another one says, "Then there was some kind of crash.", "I hope everything's alright."

Thinking fast, you turn to stand over the unconscious innkeeper, and your form begins to shift subtly, hazily, as if a trick of perspective in the glinting of errant moonlight drifting in from the window. Your clawed hands become thin and wrinkly, and you hope the rest of your appearance does likewise. Judging by the footsteps down the hall, you don't have enough time to inspect the man to get every dark vein and liver-spot correct.

Just as the first nosy inn-guest rounds the corner, you step out from the room, the best facsimile of the innkeeper you could muster, and close the door behind you. The guest is a young man in a long, dark night-shirt, holding a candle. He looks puzzled, but still half-asleep. You can see a few other faces peaking out from the dark behind him. "What was with all the screaming, old man?" he asks.

"Oh ho ho, the lady staying in this room just had a bad dream is all. Fell out of her bed, she did." You respond, summoning all of your willpower to do the best elderly man impression you can possibly muster. "I was checking on her is all. Everything's fine."

The young man frowns. "Are you sure? It sounded worse than that. I've heard cats being slaughtered that didn't scream as much." He glances around the hallway. "I've had some schooling. Maybe I should look her over for injuries. She might've hurt something and not be feeling it yet." Then he begins to step around you.

You step back in his way. "Tut tut, the young lady is getting dressed. I can't let you invade her privacy like that."

The young man looks at you skeptically. "Okay. I can wait a moment." he says, and then begins to eye you up and down. You do the best you can to avoid his gaze and look absent-minded. A few awkward seconds pass. "Hey, old man..." he begins, "...weren't you a lot more bald earlier today?"

You tentatively reach up and slide a hand through thin, silvery white, but nonetheless omnipresent hair, in comparison to the innkeeper's bushy tuft at the back of his head. Just then, you hear a few pained moans coming from your room. The young man looks at you in incomprehension and begins to say something, but doesn't get the chance, as you sucker-punch him right in the side of the head, sending him careening limply to the floor. The other guests, as yet milling about in the dark further down the hallway, begin to move. You don't wait to confirm their purpose, instead darting back into the room and snatching up as much of your gear as you can. As bodies begin to pour through the doorway, you kick open the shutters, your hands full, and leap out the second-story window, landing easily and gracefully on the ground below with an expenditure of power.

As you steal into the night, you exert more power to thin out your hair, and clamber around the side of the building towards the stables. Once you feel that you can spare a moment, you begin to equip yourself properly, but notice that some things are too large and separate from you to be hidden by the illusion; your bow and Selino's sword chiefly among them. In the hopes that it will look more natural, you drain your reservoir of spiritual power empty to reconfigure your disguise so that the innkeeper-illusion is wearing traveling clothes that do not look so out of place with a bow.

You enter the stables, where two armed guards sit on stools beneath a lantern, protecting the few horses kept there overnight. As you approach, the one awake guard slaps the sleeping guard less discreetly than perhaps he would've liked, and both stand up to greet you.

"Nevermind all that." you say, dismissing their salutations with a tone of nerves and hurriedness. "Someone has made an attempt on my life tonight! And the assassin is still afoot. I need you to get me a horse on the double!" One of the guards begins to question you, but you just shout more obfuscation and threats about firing them and soon the both of them are preparing some random horse for you that most likely belongs to someone else.

'Why not just do it yourself?' you hear from the Darkness for the first time tonight.

"Are you kidding me?" you think at it, letting some adrenaline-fueled frustration seep in, "I've never had the money to afford standing near a horse, much less put the... belty... leathery... thingies on them. Or ride them for that matter. Which I'm going to need you to give me a crash course on really fast."

The voice 'hmmm's at you. 'I'm not sure I like your tone.'

You inwardly sigh. "Please, teacher, I need your wisdom. Very much. And you turned me into some kind of freak, so it would not be entirely unseemly for you to forgive my manner in such a situation as this."



Later that day, you stop by a creek near the road and let your horse drink.

"I can feel my spirit's strength returning. But... why did I feel it empty so quickly earlier?" you ask the Darkness, taking a drink yourself, and refilling your waterskin.

The voice chuckles with some condescension. 'Your essence is only a guttering cinder to begin with.'

"...I know" you say, taking it in stride, "But I felt a lot more powerful while leaping across buildings and shooting goblins."

'Ah.' the voice exhales, 'Back then, you were in a life-or-death situation. At any moment, you could've been killed by any arrow or blade of happenstance. A foundational truth of life and essence is their pursuit of self-preservation. When your soul perceives that your body is in mortal peril, it will burn itself to fuel your body with a constant stream of new energy. This does not damage the soul in any lasting way, if used sparingly, but is an entirely involuntary state. So, learn to use what little power you have sparingly. Unless someone has a knife to your throat right now, in which case feel free to go bananas.'

You're not sure what a banana is, but you get the gist.

Choice 1
>Leave the horse by the road. Its taken you far enough, and you suspect that once someone comes in pursuit of you, they may just be happy to take the horse and return to the village, considering you haven't killed anyone, and the returns on sweeping the entire countryside for your whereabouts would thereby be minimal.
>Keep the horse. Assuming I don't run into any horse-related trouble, the trip to Ysyr should be cut drastically.

Choice 2
>I've maintained the innkeeper disguise.
>I create a new, random illusory disguise.
>I return to my normal appearance, but maintain an illusion to obscure my hands.
>I let the Mirage of Beshadowed Visage lapse; the claws are easily hidden under my gloves anyway.



Now that your soul has new accommodations, you mention to your teacher that you wouldn't mind some more mundane instruction in...

Choice 3
>Melee Combat. I'm learning that there are times when a bow is not ideal.
>Social Skills. I'm learning that there are times when violence is not ideal.
>Thought...uh, braining. Mila's not with me anymore, so it would help if I was a little more educated.
>Riding a horse. I foresee this coming up again.

ImperatorV
2016-01-26, 04:50 PM
>Keep the horse. Assuming I don't run into any horse-related trouble, the trip to Ysyr should be cut drastically.

>I create a new, random illusory disguise.

>Social Skills. I'm learning that there are times when violence is not ideal.

That bluffing was terrible. Darkness pls fix.

Kymme
2016-01-26, 05:09 PM
>Keep the horse. Assuming I don't run into any horse-related trouble, the trip to Ysyr should be cut drastically.
>I return to my normal appearance, but maintain an illusion to obscure my hands.
>Social Skills. I'm learning that there are times when violence is not ideal.

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-26, 05:49 PM
Leave your horse by the road. Though property rights are basically meaningless at this point, there's a real possibility that we'd have to kill whatever folks are sent to bring us in. That would be unpleasant, taxing, time-consuming, and so on. Cut your losses and get to walking.

I let the Mirage of Beshadowed Visage lapse. Meh. Magic is expensive, as Shadow the God-hog just said. With Shadow Swiftness now competing for potential essence, we should probably keep our aces sleeved until we need them.

Social Skills. Where we're going, illusions are like oxygen. And our powers get more useful the better we are at using them. I'd love the horseback riding, but this is the straightforward choice.

Eggel
2016-01-26, 05:55 PM
Leave the horse by the road

I let the Mirage of Beshadowed Visage lapse; If someone is approaching, obscure the hands

We don't need a new face. It's not like we are wanted criminals or something.

Social Skills

When I read some of the social interactions, it literally scares me how bad we are. After that, some thought braining, probably.

Jon0113
2016-01-26, 06:19 PM
leave the horse by the road
Let it lapse
Thought
I was going to suggest taking the horse, but you persuaded me otherwise

Elenna
2016-01-26, 11:45 PM
>Leave the horse by the road.
>I let the Mirage of Beshadowed Visage lapse. Obscure hands if someone is approaching.
Because we only have so much spiritual power.
>Social Skills. I'm learning that there are times when violence is not ideal.
As much as I'd like some thought...braining...thing, illusions+bluffing = good.

Xefas
2016-01-27, 12:28 AM
You tie your horse to a tree by the river, where it'll have ready access to water and grass to graze on. Then, you drop your illusory deception and continue on the road as if nothing were amiss.



The familiar imploding transcendence engulfs you as you appear in your mindscape. Its interior is now a properly constructed room, perhaps thirty feet square, made of dark stone brickwork, and still cast in eternally eerie shadows. The floor is covered in a soft bleached-white rug, with a simple green mandala with flame-like petals protruding from its circular core dyed into it. The window to your vision of the outside world has deep green curtains with white trim adorning the area around it. Wooden cabinets, boxes, and chests line the wall opposite the window.

'This is going to be a tiresome chore.' Your shadowy doppelganger says, 'But a necessary one, no doubt.' He, or she, or it, still looks like you, with the newly added muscle and claws, but is wearing the silhouette of a simple peasant dress clasped at the shoulders. You are wearing its mirror; its real color is a pale yellow. You don't think it suits you very well. Neither of you are wearing shoes, and the rug feels weird between your imaginary toes.

'So. Lets get to it. Etiquette.'



A few hours pass. You're now sitting at a little square wooden table just large enough for one person to sit at comfortably. A bowl of shadowy, ephemeral, brothy noodles sits mostly eaten in front of you. You set your utensils down, lift the bowl with your hands, and slurp the dregs of it into your mouth, just before you feel the sting of your shadow's cane cracking against the top of your skull as it has many times since the beginning of your lesson. You grit your teeth and set the bowl down.

'No. No. No. No.' it begins, 'No, no, no, no, no, no, no. What did I say?' It steps out from behind you, twirling the little black cane like a baton.

"You said, teacher-" and you strain the word, "-that it's polite to slurp your noodles, because it shows appreciation and enjoyment of your meal."

'No' the shadow hisses at you, and you recoil your hands from the table, in anticipation of getting your knuckles slapped with the cane, 'That's for informal affairs. Formal affairs require restraint. You only show overt appreciation in a casual environment. Being wealthy and noble is all about acting as if you don't need things. You don't need to finish your food, because you're so filthy with cash and servants, you could never even imagine what being hungry is like. You don't need people to like you, because you have the money and influence to get what you need whether anyone likes you or not. Being aloof and smug and snobbish makes them think that you're so powerful that you don't need anyone, and therefore they need you. Being unironically thankful is for poor people, who need goodwill and community to not starve when the going gets tough.'

You cough a few times, from accidentally swallowing noodle-broth when you got whacked in the head. "...I never really thought of it that way. I don't know if I want to act like that."

The shadow sinks its fingers into the side of its face a little further than you think it'd be able to if it had real bones, and slides them down in a slow, exasperated motion. 'I imagine most human nobles don't either. High society functions are all about maintaining a hollow facade to fill the void in wealthy humans' souls that know that for all their pomp and supposed power, they're still just mayfly-lifespan primates crapping in the woods.' The shadow gives a few involuntary chuckles. '...Actually, when I put it that way, it's rather funny.'

You spend a moment pondering your place in the cosmos. "Uh, so why should I care about all this etiquette to impress them?"

The shadow turns and presses its little cane to your chest, pushing you back in the chair. 'Because, for now, you're one of those animals, and a lot of them are much mightier than you are. Some day, if you play your cards right, and you wise up, you might become something greater than them. And you can enforce your will on the masses and dictate the rules of how you think society should function. But there will always be a bigger, sadder, emptier fish that you have to impress. And if that day ever comes, you'll have to figure out whatever arbitrary rules that creature lives by so you can impress them, too.'



That night, you realize that you left your quiver of arrows back at the inn. You spend some time whittling a few, but you're not particularly fast at doing so, and by the time you're ready to hunt, it is already dark and you're already tired. Not having had the chance to purchase any food in the farming village, you go hungry tonight. It turns out eating fictional food in your mindscape does not actually nourish your real body.

In the dark and the quiet, it is easy for you to think.

Choice 1
>The idea that human civilization is fundamentally petty, unjust, and void of meaning is strangely comforting to me. I feel that internalizing this truth may allow me to better control the faults of humanity, whether I decide in the future to exploit it or change it for the better. (The more that you think like the Darkness, the quicker and easier it is to learn from it.)
>This voice in my head is giving me the knowledge and power that I need to fulfill my goals, but I'm not going to let it smother my faith and camaraderie for my fellow man. I believe that all human life has its own intrinsic meaning. (Not beginning the descent down the slippery slope of nihilism might have its own rewards.)

Vauron
2016-01-27, 01:50 AM
>This voice in my head is giving me the knowledge and power that I need to fulfill my goals, but I'm not going to let it smother my faith and camaraderie for my fellow man. I believe that all human life has its own intrinsic meaning. (Not beginning the descent down the slippery slope of nihilism might have its own rewards.)

While the other option is superior when it comes to being in harmony with Head-buddy, I'd rather not head down that path. Yes, the only universal law is that the weak are food for the strong, and the strong eat well. However, that does not mean that we should not care. By treating camaraderie and fellowship as important, they become important.

THEChanger
2016-01-27, 02:36 AM
>This voice in my head is giving me the knowledge and power that I need to fulfill my goals, but I'm not going to let it smother my faith and camaraderie for my fellow man. I believe that all human life has its own intrinsic meaning. (Not beginning the descent down the slippery slope of nihilism might have its own rewards.)

While creepy Head-Buddy is technically correct, in that our rules, laws, social constructs and connections are merely illusions which give us comfort in the face of an otherwise bleak and essentially random universe, those illusions are A) what makes humans different from the other mayfly-lifespan animals in the world, and B) the primary thing that stands in the way of humanity devolving into an everlasting orgy of violence and bloodshed. We might have claws now, but it's not time to just completely give up on humanity.

Not just yet.

Jon0113
2016-01-27, 02:43 AM
the voice in my head is giving me knowledge and power

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-27, 03:34 AM
I'm not going to let it smother my faith and camaraderie for my fellow man.

Everyone lies. Even the devil. Especially the devil.

Tentreto
2016-01-27, 05:14 AM
>This voice in my head is giving me the knowledge and power that I need to fulfill my goals, but I'm not going to let it smother my faith and camaraderie for my fellow man. I believe that all human life has its own intrinsic meaning. (Not beginning the descent down the slippery slope of nihilism might have its own rewards.)

We began this journey due to our love for life. We are not giving up this easily.

Kymme
2016-01-27, 09:28 AM
>This voice in my head is giving me the knowledge and power that I need to fulfill my goals, but I'm not going to let it smother my faith and camaraderie for my fellow man. I believe that all human life has its own intrinsic meaning. (Not beginning the descent down the slippery slope of nihilism might have its own rewards.)

This guy is trying to shape us into such a perfect vessel, he won't need to be free. Every step we take into this darkness is another step he takes towards total control over us. I don't think we should become villainous. We had pure intentions before, and we shouldn't give them up now.

Also, I'm beginning to think we might be an Exigent more than any sort of Infernal. Exigent Exalted are basically the champions of specific deities that are imbued with power stolen from heaven. Their powers take after their patron.

Elenna
2016-01-27, 12:19 PM
>This voice in my head is giving me the knowledge and power that I need to fulfill my goals, but I'm not going to let it smother my faith and camaraderie for my fellow man. I believe that all human life has its own intrinsic meaning. (Not beginning the descent down the slippery slope of nihilism might have its own rewards.)

backwaterj
2016-01-27, 04:55 PM
This voice in my head is giving me the knowledge and power that I need to fulfill my goals, but I'm not going to let it smother my faith and camaraderie for my fellow man. I believe that all human life has its own intrinsic meaning. (Not beginning the descent down the slippery slope of nihilism might have its own rewards.)

Bandwagon ho!

Eggel
2016-01-27, 05:15 PM
This voice in my head is giving me the knowledge and power that I need to fulfill my goals, but I'm not going to let it smother my faith and camaraderie for my fellow man. I believe that all human life has its own intrinsic meaning. (Not beginning the descent down the slippery slope of nihilism might have its own rewards.)

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-27, 05:35 PM
Bandwagon ho!

True. Though I'm kind of surprised how many of us have put forward different positions to justify the same decision.

Xefas
2016-01-27, 07:12 PM
A week passes as you travel the road to Ysyr. The days get ever colder as the end of the year fast approaches.

--You've acquired a new skill: Socialize. Your learning process was stunted by philosophical differences, vis-a-vis your unwillingness to embrace misanthropy, and so your proficiency remains at the Basic level for now. Socialize is used to maintain proper etiquette, guard against others attempting to discern your Intimacies (or even faking ones that you do not have), coordinate social events, and to shmooze and network at such events.

Choice 1
Next...
>We'll continue instruction in the social graces.
>We'll move on to learning me to be more smarter.
>I'd like to take a break and learn something I've actually got natural talent in. Hittin' stuff.



The sparkling spires of Ysyr loom as distant shadows amidst the mountains on the horizon. The last leg of the journey is all treacherous mountain passes, howling winds, and giant predatory lynxes. As a city cut directly into a mountain, the surrounding slope sheered flat as if by a great blade, and surrounded by mighty hundred-foot walls, its structure and location make it unassailable by any army imaginable. And that is before one includes its sorcerous masters.

'Pinnacle? We're going to Pinnacle?' the Darkness asks as you walk up the steadily sloping road towards the tree-line, where grassy hills turn to barren, rocky crags.

"...No, we're going to Ysyr. And I'd like to stop for a day or so and gather some provisions. I don't know how plentiful game will be once we get higher in the mountains." you say.

The voice 'Hmmms' very deeply. 'I should be fascinated to know the nature and number of the apocalypses Pinnacle, the seat of the Blood-Red Maiden's prefecture, must have suffered to have fallen and been recolonized by whatever brigands these Sorcerer-Kings are. We had our disagreements, but when the woman built something to last, I dare say it tended to.'

"They're not brigands." you say defensively, "My people have legends about a great contagion and the armies of the Fair Folk who swept Creation centuries ago, slaughtering the people of the world, leaving it nearly barren of life. The Sorcerer-Kings appeared afterward and united the surviving tribes, brokered peaceful relationships with the native spirits, and intimidated the fey from ever returning. They're heroes and all their vassal-states love and respect them."

'There must be more to it.' the Darkness says, 'Back in my day, the Chosen used to hunt the Lords of the Wyld for fun. They'd run them down on horseback like foxes and mount their pretty heads on plaques. No, there must be something more sinister afoot. If only-'

You cut him off, "Teacher, you're some kind of demon, right?" You lay flat against a grassy knoll on the side of the road overlooking a spare cluster of trees. About a hundred feet away, in a small dip in the terrain, is an overturned wagon and what used to be six people. An ape-creature with bright crimson fur stands among the corpses, dismembering them with its foot-long black talons and crunching on the meat and bones with its distended, gaping jaw. Twisted black spines protrude asymmetrically from its back, and it has all-white, pupiless eyes. It seems quite content.

'That is a question whose answer I fear you are not knowledgeable enough to appreciate the nuances of.' the voice responds.

"Right." you say, "But the place I found you had a lot of bound demons in it. And the Blood-Red Maiden of Chains was known for binding powerful demons, and you told me that she imprisoned you in some way, so... You must be some kind of spirit from Hell, yes?"

The voice snorts and psychically rolls its eyes. 'In the terms of a layman.'

"Then, would you correct me in my assumption that that creature is certainly of a Hellish seeming." you say, wiggling your eyebrows discretely at the ape monster.

'I don't need to be a demon to know that's a demon.' the voice says, 'Specifically, it's an Erymanthus. It's one of the most straightforward and efficient demon-breeds you'll ever encounter. Its purpose is to kill, its nature is to enjoy killing and eating things. There's no better tool than a horde of Erymanthoi for indiscriminately depopulating a region you're not fond of. They work fine solo, or in small or large groups. Some of the finest soul-craftsmanship I've seen in my long life. ...Just don't tell... Eh, you'll never meet them anyway, nevermind.'

"How smart are they?" you ask.

'...They're stupid. But no stupider than the average human. Narrow-minded, certainly. They're very interested with the ins-and-outs of savage killings, but not usually anything else. One of my duchesses had an Erymanthus jester in her court for a time. He found passion outside of his race's standard niche in japes and general clownery. ...Clownery that involved a lot of evisceration and cannibalism.' He pauses, recalling something, then chuckles ominously.

Choice 2
>Ambush the Erymanthus. I don't want it wandering around near me while I'm looking for food.
>Talk to the Erymanthus. It's apparently sapient and it just ate. Maybe it'll be docile.
>Leave the Erymanthus alone. And I hope it leaves me alone in turn.
>Hide from the Erymanthus until it leaves. Then I can check out the cart.

Eggel
2016-01-27, 07:44 PM
Move on to making me smarter

You can fake intelligence to a friend, but you can't in front of someone who's even smarter

Talk to the erymanthus

Because talking worked great last time

Also, I'm pretty sure the last one is supposed to be choice 2

Xefas
2016-01-27, 07:56 PM
Also, I'm pretty sure the last one is supposed to be choice 2

Whoops. Fixed! :smallsmile:


True. Though I'm kind of surprised how many of us have put forward different positions to justify the same decision.

It's always cool to see different thoughts and opinions on presented choices. I may have to offer more philosophical ones in the future.

Kymme
2016-01-27, 08:07 PM
>We'll move on to learning me to be more smarter.
>Talk to the Erymanthus. It's apparently sapient and it just ate. Maybe it'll be docile.

If all else fails, we can just jump away from it and pepper it with arrows.

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-27, 09:52 PM
If all else fails, we can just jump away from it and pepper it with arrows.

Leaping Shadows isn't particularly fast, while the ambling speed of a bloodthirsty demon-ape probably is. Something to keep in mind.

>I'd like to take a break and learn to hit things better.
>Talk to the Erymanthus. It just ate, so maybe it can clue me into why in the name of the Sun are all these faeries and demons running amok in Chalcedon!?

If we do try to talk to the Erymanthus, we should make sure to use our Mirage of Beshadowed Visage to look a bit more demonic first. Perhaps like another Erymanthus? Not sure how well that will work, but it can't be worse than walking up without it. It literally lives to kill people, and we're not an exception.

Jon0113
2016-01-28, 02:03 AM
move on to making me smarter
Ambush

Seeing as it killed 6 people, and it's designed for killing, I don't think talking to it is a good idea

ImperatorV
2016-01-28, 02:09 AM
>We'll move on to learning me to be more smarter.

Because you cannot say no to this wording.

>Ambush the Erymanthus. I don't want it wandering around near me while I'm looking for food.

We just heard it's a killing machine. It ate six people.

Elenna
2016-01-28, 03:00 AM
>We'll move on to learning me to be more smarter.
*giggle* Love the wording on these choices. :smallbiggrin:
>Ask the Darkness if we are likely to be able to defeat an Erymanthus without sustaining too much injury to keep traveling
-->If so, ambush it
-->Otherwise, leave it alone, but keep an eye on it

Xefas
2016-01-28, 01:40 PM
>Ask the Darkness if we are likely to be able to defeat an Erymanthus without sustaining too much injury to keep traveling

'Battle is chaos. There are many factors at play that cannot be accounted for. You might well be able to cripple it at range from ambush and thereby gain an advantage in mobility and kill it before it is able to close with you, suffering no injury at all. On the other hand, perhaps it will be tougher or faster than you are able to handle, and I imagine once you are within arm's reach of it, the fight will be decided in its favor very quickly. The possible results are very polarized.' So says The Darkness That Follows.

Xefas
2016-01-29, 12:39 AM
You stand up and tentatively wave at the Erymanthus. It slowly turns its head and furrows its thickly ridged brow at you, munching rhythmically on a severed human femur like one might a turkey leg, tearing off hunks of meat as it goes.

"Good evening." you shout at it, experimentally. It doesn't stop chewing; it just looks at you with an odd serenity.

"What is-" you think how to word yourself, then gesture at the area surrounding the ape-creation, "-you know, what is all this?"

When the Erymanthus withdraws the femur from its mouth, you can make out chips and breaks in the bone from its teeth. "Vict'ms a' admin'strative inept'tude." it says in a deeper baritone than you think any human could manage.

You do a mental double-take at your inner shadow, who seems unperturbed. "Come again?" you shout back.

"D'nt pay t' toll." it says, "As a servant a' middle management, I was tol' t' turn away anyone what d'nt pay t' toll." It easily snaps the bone in half between its immense claws and messily sucks the marrow from between the jagged shards. After slopping its tongue across the great row of teeth distending from its mouth, it adds, "A manner 'n which I was to do so went unspecified." It discards the broken halves and begins digging through the nearly unrecognizable remains of another traveler's corpse. "Foolishness like 'at is how y' get messy li'le kerffufles like 'is."

You can think of a few questions, but one comes chiefly to mind. "Do I have to pay the toll?"

The thing picks up and waves a stump attached to a still-intact elbow joint in the air, though not necessarily at you. "D'y'ave import goods? Or veh'cles ov'a sort to require storage 'r stablin'?" it asks absently.

"No, just traveling." you say.

It bats a claw towards you dismissively. "No toll."

"Oh good." you say, "That's reassuring."

Choice 1
>Go about hunting for food in the surrounding area.
>Ask if you can scavenge supplies from the wagon.
>Proceed up the road immediately and hope to find food in the mountains.

--Also feel free to ask the Erymanthus questions if you feel like.

Kymme
2016-01-29, 01:15 AM
WHO SUMMONED YOU?! (preferably not asked with that tone)

>Go about hunting for food in the surrounding area.

ImperatorV
2016-01-29, 01:47 AM
>Ask if you can scavenge supplies from the wagon.

He'll probably let us take anything that isn't food.

Elenna
2016-01-29, 02:05 AM
>Go about hunting for food in the surrounding area.

backwaterj
2016-01-29, 02:43 AM
Ask if you can scavenge supplies from the wagon.

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-29, 06:26 AM
>Ask if you can scavenge supplies from the wagon.

Very politely, in whichever way our bright and shiny new Basic Socialize says to. He seems like a sensible murderfellow.

"How often do people try to dodge their tolls, exactly? Consequences like... this... don't seem like the kind of thing you just ignore."

Jon0113
2016-01-29, 07:13 AM
ask if you can scavenge supplies

Xefas
2016-01-29, 12:37 PM
"So, the punishment for toll-dodging seems pretty stringent around here. How often do people really risk it?" you ask, hopping down from the knoll and walking a few cautious steps forward.

"Usu'l tollmast'r jus' bars entry." it says, dropping the elbow-stump and lazily rooting around in a carcass, looking for something. "I'm wha'cha migh' call a temp."

"A... what? From where? Where did you come from? How'd you get here" you ask.

The Erymanthus wrenches some kind of organ-meat from the carcass, your best guess is the liver, and gulps it down whole. You get pretty close to vomiting. The smell as you get closer isn't helping. "Ysyr. I walked." it says.

"Uh, I meant more about how you got into this realm of existence." you add.

It turns to look at you, squints, snuffles a little with its gaping nostils, and then goes back to its business. "Sum'n'd a' course. Yer lookin' at a peacekeep'r a' the House a' Del. Lot a' refugees comin' from t' east'rn coast. Lot a' shifts bein' mov'd around. Lot a' new blood."

You move a little closer, as your stomach's churning allows. "Actually, you might be getting some from the west soon enough. My town was attacked by the Fair Folk." you say.

"Is'at so?" it says, but doesn't sound interested. It looks like it's about to say something else, but gets distracted and begins snuffling the air again. Eventually it turns to look at you and then begins to lope towards you. Your first instinct is run, but you master that, and your second is to draw a weapon to defend yourself, but by then the creature has cleared distance enough that you get the impression it's not about to maul you. At least not right now. It gets within a few feet of you and the stench of fresh blood is so overwhelming it makes you a bit whoozy. "Mum or da'?" it asks you.

You stare at it, puzzled. "Uh, what?"

"Y' 'ave the smell'f'a mixed blood on y'." it says, "Demon blood, righ'?"

There's a long moment where the two of you look awkwardly at each other before you finally say, "...My dad?" as if it were a question.

At that, it snuffles the air around you some more. "Smells like someffin' bad. C'ndolences t' yer mum." it says, and retreats back towards the wagon. You follow behind, with a respectable distance.

"Right." you say, "So, what about this wagon? Do you mind if I take a look through it? I don't think these people will miss anything much."

The creature turns and looks at you again. "Y've a salvagin' permit?"

You scratch the back of you head awkwardly. "Uh, no."

The Erymanthus thinks for a moment, then shrugs. "Not like I re'lly care one way a' the ov'va."

All the same, you keep an eye on the creature while you dismantle the tarp over the goods on the wagon and begin looking around. There does seem to be a healthy stock of preserved foods, enough for more than six people to make the trip up the mountains. You have no trouble securing enough for yourself. The rest seems oddly prosaic. It looks less like a merchant's stock and more like the amenities of someone's house. These people were likely one of the aforementioned refugees from elsewhere.



Feel free to ask more questions. I'll move us along later today, but I wanted to give an opportunity for anyone who wanted it.

Eggel
2016-01-30, 03:31 PM
I ask the Erymanthus:

What does he know about curses (aka our siblings)?
What does he know about the Sorcerer Kings of Ysyr?

Xefas
2016-01-30, 05:24 PM
As you rifle through the wagon's contents, you decide to make small-talk. "So, what are the Sorcerer-Kings of Ysyr like?"

The Erymanthus takes a minute to finish gulping down the food in its claws, gasps for some air, and says off-hand, "On'y met one m'self. Not a real one, neither. Heir apparen' a' someffin'. Eight houses..." it begins to count on its claws, "Del... Arc... Dor... eh, I forget t' rest. D'ose f'ree do t' demon stuff."

"I see." you say, finishing packing up your food. You walk over to the creature and add, "Well, I think I'll be off, now." It doesn't seem particularly interested.

You turn to go, but a thought strikes you and you decide to take a long-shot. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about curses, would you?"

The demon looks around to you, "Blood curses?" it says, a little excited.

"N-no, uh, fey curses. Eternal sleep. That kind of thing." you say.

It looks momentarily disappointed and then goes back to eating. "Nah, nuffin' like that."



A few days pass, cold and miserable, while Ysyr looms ever closer. There's no good material for starting a fire, but there are plenty of small caves and alcoves to rest in that provide safety from the wind. Your lantern keeps them lit at night and nothing seems to bother you. The trail is wide enough to get horses and wagons through, but not pleasantly, and you're glad to not have to deal with it. Your travels are occasionally punctuated with lessons from the Darkness That Follows.



'I understand now.' the shadow says, seated at a large, solid-looking desk at the front of the room in your mindscape. To its right is a polished slab with a tray of chalk underneath, and various words and numbers are written on it.

Twenty-five little chairs are arrayed in a 5-by-5 grid, facing opposite the shadow's desk, each with their own attached horizontal wooden tray. A thick wax tablet lies on the tray in front of you, along with a small stack of books, and a stylus and razor for writing and erasing respectively. You're seated in the center column, one forward from the center row.

The shadow rises from its seat and stalks parallel to the chalk-board, feeling its temples. 'This. This must be what Hell is like for humans.' it says, 'No wonder they're always screaming.'

"I'm doing my best." you say, tired and exasperated, prodding at your wax slab with its stylus. "I just don't know what I'm supposed to do."

The shadow looks at you, and you could swear that one of its eyes is twitching, despite not having eyes. It takes a step forward, grabs one of the chairs in the front row, and hurls it sidelong across the room, where it shatters to splinters against the stone wall. Then, it gestures backward with one hand, toward the chalk-board, where the sequence of numbers 13=2x-1 is written. 'Solve for X' it hisses at you, 'Solve for X right now or I will feed you your own fingernails.'

You lock your jaw and grab either side of the wooden tray in front of you, leaning forward. "Math uses numbers." you say with barely restrained calm, and then that restraint is broken and you begin yelling, "X is not a number!"

The shadow is yelling now, too, charging at you, arms flailing, and you see the shimmer of a single tear rolling down its dark cheek.



A few more days later, the immense hundred-foot walls of Ysyr stand tall before you. You can see now that their length for as far as you can see is etched with sigils and runes of occult significance. The city's cylindrical spires shine many times higher still, on the opposite side of the city from the gates, closest to the sheer cliff that precedes the slope of the mountain.

Two open stone doors, not as tremendously thick as the walls themselves, perhaps twenty feet high, serve as a gate to the city, apparently the only hole along the walls' entire length. A set of three stone bridges, their length and size beggaring belief, as their arched supports reach far down into the valleys below, stretch to the east, west, and south, connecting to the sides of the three closest mountains to the city, merging again before the city's great gates. The bridges are each wide enough for ten people to walk abreast, but have no protective crenelations or railings on their sides, dropping immediately into the vast abyss below.

As you walk the western bridge's length, you can think only of how terrible it would be to trip and careen over the side. Peculiarly, the fierce winds you've become accustomed to during your journey do not seem to touch you here.



A few very official looking gentlemen and ladies bustle about the city gates, inspecting a small caravan of oxen pulling great carts stacked high with wooden barrels. You notice, too, that the eastern bridge is backed up for its entire length with people, though they do not appear to be moving in any sort of line. They're simply camped there, and you can see little tents and fires along it. The presence of fire makes you think the eastern bridge must be similarly absent of wind.

You also notice two Erymanthoi, hunched forward onto their knuckles on either side of the gate, looking extremely bored.

You approach a middle-aged woman in a dark maroon dress standing very importantly between the two gates, holding a writing tablet in one hand, and gazing at the oxen-cart very managerially. Before you begin speaking, she cuts you off without even looking at you, "I'm sorry, the city is at full occupancy. Unless your visit is of a business-like nature, I'm afraid you'll have to find sanctuary elsewhere. The Sorcerer-Kings are aware of the recent encroachment by the Far Folk on eastern Chalcedon and are doing everything in their power to restore order." Her tone is very monotonic, as if she's said this very same set of words thousands of times very recently.

You wait for her to finish. "Actually, I'm from Boeth. I-" you begin, but before you can finish, she grabs you by the upper arm with her free hand, looking shiftly left and right, and then steps in close to you. "By the gods, we've heard nothing." she says, low, not quite a whisper, "Are you Del Palaimon's messenger?"

Choice 1
>Ask her to explain.
>"...Yeah. Of course."
>Tell her the truth, but try to explain your way inside anyway.
>Tell her the truth, walk away, and try to find a way to sneak in.

Eggel
2016-01-30, 06:24 PM
I say, "I'll explain once I am within the city"

Because if we aren't Del Palaimon's messenger, she probably wouldn't let us in.

VoodooPaladin
2016-01-30, 08:03 PM
Your description of teaching an adult student is as vivid as it is grim. I love it, and I'm glad others voted for it.

>Ask her to explain. Me here, lie good? No! Bad lie do.

Also, "monotonic" sounds like it should be an item from an obscure JRPG. Maybe one that makes you immune to Silence? :smalltongue:

Kymme
2016-01-30, 11:33 PM
I say, "I'll explain once I am within the city"

Because if we aren't Del Palaimon's messenger, she probably wouldn't let us in.

This. Definitely this.

Also, I like to think that this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKBJzDpRV2Q&feature=youtu.be&t=2m9s) is the sound that plays in Darkness' head when he has to deal with us.

backwaterj
2016-01-31, 03:06 AM
Ask her to explain.

Seems about as honest as we can be without revealing our true nature.

Was I the only one reading "X is not a number!" in the Derek Zoolander voice?

Xefas
2016-01-31, 10:27 PM
You clear your throat. "Ahem. I would prefer to speak somewhere more discreet." you say.

She looks you directly in the eye and nods slowly. "Of course. Of course." she says, and steps back out of your personal space. She walks towards the opening in the wall, and you follow. She nods at one of the other inspectors, presumably to signal that she'll be gone a moment.

Directly inside the gate, a series of rickety tenements and ramshackle shanties are stacked upon one another in steep contrast to the ancient, exquisitely hewn walls that rise above them distantly in every direction. Each wall once, perhaps, delineated a neighborhood or district, themselves not nearly as tall as the defensive one at the city's perimeter. You guess that, deeper in the city, buildings from bygone ages must still stand. But this first district has been overwhelmed with refugees from across Chalcedon. Its usual purpose is likely a caravansary of sorts.

The woman proceeds into a little wooden guardhouse, and you follow. The inside has a table, a few chairs, and more writing tablets bound together and lying in the corner. She looks at you expectantly. Some refugees are milling about outside, but none close enough to hear what the two of you are saying.

You think fast. "So..."

Well, fast is relative. "...Tell me what you know already. Obviously I'm in a hurry." you say.

The woman looks at you, her eyes clearly conveying anxiety, her arms crossed in front of her. "Nothing." she says, "Nothing. We haven't heard anything from Boeth. Del Palaimon left to meet with the governor weeks ago. He should've been back by now, especially with all the problems we're having."

You nod sagely. "Right. The problems. The problems sure are bad."

She nods too, with nervous emphasis. "But I don't have to tell you. That's why you're here of course. What news does the King of House Del send? What could be so important that he's stayed in Boeth while his people need him?"

'Does this involve something that happened before we met?' the shadow in your mind asks. You think back at him, "Maybe. I saw a weird guy at the governor's party - inhumanly tall, bronze-metal skin, wearing a black robe at a noble function. At the time, I thought he might be one of the Sorcerer-Kings, but I was a bit preoccupied."

'Is the black robe auspicious of something in your culture?' the Darkness asks. "I think so." you respond.

You can feel the Darkness shaking its head. "You think so?"

Choice 1
>"...That's a good question." I say, as I then proceed to flee into the city as fast as possible.
>"I'm not an official messenger, per se, but I was there when the Fair Folk raided the governor's mansion. I suspect most or all of the guests that were there died in the attack."
>"That's actually highly classified. Very important stuff. I was ordered not to relay to anyone but one of the other Kings."

Kymme
2016-01-31, 10:51 PM
Choice 1
>"I'm not an official messenger, per se, but I was there when the Fair Folk raided the governor's mansion. I suspect most or all of the guests that were there died in the attack."

Now seems like a good time to stop lying.

Elenna
2016-01-31, 11:01 PM
>"I'm not an official messenger, per se, but I was there when the Fair Folk raided the governor's mansion. I suspect most or all of the guests that were there died in the attack."

Yeah... let's stop trying out our abysmal lying skill. :smalltongue:

ImperatorV
2016-01-31, 11:29 PM
>"I'm not an official messenger, per se, but I was there when the Fair Folk raided the governor's mansion. I suspect most or all of the guests that were there died in the attack."

This seems like an easy out.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-01, 01:44 AM
>"I'm not an official messenger, per se, but I was there when the Fair Folk raided the governor's mansion. I suspect most or all of the guests that were there died in the attack."

Tell her everything. Including the glorious hero on a golden nimbus, and the gigantic Rakshasa who Kaiju'd half the town by himself.

backwaterj
2016-02-01, 01:58 AM
>"I'm not an official messenger, per se, but I was there when the Fair Folk raided the governor's mansion. I suspect most or all of the guests that were there died in the attack."


Tell her everything. Including the glorious hero on a golden nimbus, and the gigantic Rakshasa who Kaiju'd half the town by himself.
And let's not forget the fearless and daring archer who helped save the town. Since we're being truthful. :smallbiggrin:

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-01, 06:04 PM
And let's not forget the fearless and daring archer who helped save the town. Since we're being truthful. :smallbiggrin:

Well, if we're going that far, we have to tell her the most important part: the Rakshasa's name. What was it again? Duke Sepulchre... Darkdeath Evilman... Shadow Shadow Bo-Badow? Screw it, his name is Mid-Boss. :smallbiggrin:

Eggel
2016-02-01, 06:10 PM
I'm not an official messenger per se

Let's try to be cool about it so she doesn't kick us out right away. That would be pretty bad

Xefas
2016-02-01, 08:26 PM
"Well, you see..." you begin, "I'm not an official messenger, per se, but I was there when the Fair Folk raided the governor's mansion. I suspect most or all of the guests that were there died in the attack."

She stares at you for a moment. "The Fair Folk? In Boeth? That..." she takes a few nervous paces back and forth across the room, then snaps up to look back at you, "...The picture is becoming clearer. And it is a grim picture indeed. I..." her eyes move along the ground erratically, showing that her thoughts now tread on things she does not wish to speak of, "...You need to speak to my superior. Tell them the whole story. I need to return to work."

You consent, and the woman leads you out into the city. You pass many scenes of want and despair from the displaced refugees, squatting in their hovels, aimless and unsure of themselves and their future.

You pass through a gate in one of the division walls, heading west, then after a time, you pass through another, going north deeper into the city, towards its core.

This place is different. The architecture is strange to you, very pleasing and exquisitely crafted. Homes are built in large U-shaped two-story complexes, with a central courtyard. Their roofs are slanted, with reddish clay shingles, and many still have glass panes in their windows. They are each large enough to comfortably house a half-dozen families, you guess. The exterior walls of each home is something hard, stone-like at a glance, but too perfectly smooth and uniform, so far as you understand modern masonry.

In between the miniature villas, stores, workshops, and foodstands are crammed, as well as the occasional well, and what looks like grated drains - to where you're not sure, but folks seem to be pursuing some peculiar notion of dropping the buckets of filth and chamberpots from their home into them, rather that slopping them in the gutters. And, now that you think about it, the city does have a noticeably odd not-smell to it.

But... as you pay more attention, there's something else odd about the people here. Not one unifying thing, but everyone is a little off. You come to a halt; your guide seems to notice and stops as well, looking back at you. You take a moment to stop and look and pay attention in a more than casual, transitory way.

"That woman has a second head." you say aloud, looking at an otherwise unremarkable lady conducting a conversation a few yards away with an elderly woman whose dress is noticeably modified in the back to allow for a thick, scaly lizard-tail. The second head is speaking precisely in unison with the first, giving the woman an eerie, biphonic quality. Not far away, a man toting a sack of flour on his shoulder has seven eyes, and a small child running past you has freakishly long, pointed ears. Everywhere you look, the people show signs of minor(ish) mutation of the flesh.

"Your first time in Ysyr?" your guide asks, beckoning you to continue walking. You do, but closer to her, scanning warily around your surroundings. "All who are born within its walls bare the touch of the Wyld." she says, "Or the rare gift of sorcery. Never both."

You cringe and recoil as a woman with rubbery octopus-like skin brushes past you on the street. "Why doesn't everyone leave, then?" you say, perhaps a little too loud.

"They cannot." she says, and about then, she stops at the steps of a tall, intimidating, windowless building in the same style of the adjacent homes, but clearly more municipal in nature. There is no paraphernalia squeezed into the area around it, leaving a vacant space in its vicinity. "All citizens of Ysyr belong to one of the eight houses. They are its membership, but also its property. They are forbidden to leave by edict of the Sorcerer-Kings. Outsiders like us are free to do as we will, however, and are omitted from many of their customs and rites." She opens the door for you. "Fear not. In my time here, I've found Ysyr no more dangerous than any city, despite the corrupted blood of its inhabitants."



(I didn't plan on ending this update here, but I have to go rush and do something. If you guys want to ask the bureaucrat lady something, you can. I'll update as soon as I'm able.)

Kymme
2016-02-01, 08:35 PM
(I didn't plan on ending this update here, but I have to go rush and do something. If you guys want to ask the bureaucrat lady something, you can. I'll update as soon as I'm able.)

It's k, Xefas. Real life takes priority, always.

I... don't have any questions for the lady. It's cool that all of these people are Wyld Mutants, but... nah, still no questions.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-01, 08:54 PM
"So, quick question. I heard the houses Del, Arc, and Dor deal with demons? What do they do that requires them keep such company?

Do what you've got to do, Xefas.

Eggel
2016-02-01, 11:15 PM
This feels like a silly question, but,

"How do the Sorcerer Kings get their power?"

I feel like I should know this, but I'm still curious.

Also, "What is (insert lady's name here)'s job?"

Xefas
2016-02-02, 06:21 PM
You step inside, into what seems like an unnecessarily spooky waiting room. The lack of windows, and the poor lighting - a few lamps and candles spaced around the room - makes the room very foreboding, though perhaps less than the insides of your own recently warped mind. There are a few chairs against the walls, and an adolescent youth with ram horns standing next to, rather than behind, a desk in front of a doorway leading further into the building.

Your guide snaps her fingers at the youth, "Go and fetch Ion Leda. It's urgent." And they do so without a word, scampering off out of sight.

Neither of you sit.

"So, you're saying that everyone here is... some species of slave?" you ask.

She shrugs. "Their lives are strictly controlled and they cannot leave the city. But they live well, and find friends and love, and make families, and are not sold or branded or beaten like chattel. ...Perhaps there is a fine line between serfdom and slavery."

Personally, you'd never had need to develop an opinion on slavery in a moral or economical sense. "But you're not one of the Ysyri by birth. What brought you here?"

She gestures at herself, or perhaps her writing tablet. "There's opportunity here for outsiders. The houses employ non-Ysyri for jobs that involve leaving the city, and for the majority of work dealing directly with other outsiders. You may have noticed that I and my crew at the gates have no such Wyld-taint. We inspect goods coming into the city. Certain items are taxed more heavily, some are illegal - that sort of thing. Foreign merchants feel more comfortable dealing with folks without tails or horns."

"And yet." you say, "I saw demons by the gates, too. Tell me those aren't there for their comforting presence."

"House Arc and House Del maintain small numbers of bound demons for peacekeeping purposes. They're more of a deterrent than anything. And an effective one; I have to stand near two all day and after all this time, they still creep me out." she says.

You chuckle inwardly. "Yeah, I can imagine. ...But, uh, what about House Dor? Demon-wise, I mean."

She blinks at you. "Last I heard, King Dor Neros was working on renewing the Anti-Venereal Zones on the brothels in uptown. But, the Sorcerer-Kings aren't exactly public figures. We hear of their miracles by proxy, and feel their effects. It would be impossible for someone of a relatively low station like myself to know what goes on in their sanctums, or the full extent and nature of their power."



"So, there I was, in Governor Basso's mansion for entirely legitimate reasons of a non-felonious nature." you say, sweeping your hands low across the table. The woman across from you is Ion Leda; an older woman perhaps in her late 50s. Her grey hair is flecked with auburn, and her weird rectangularly-pupiled goat-eyes have a sky-blue sclera. Her face began severe when she entered the room ten minutes ago, grim, lacking any cosmetic adornment, but she gradually became more bewildered as you began telling your tale. The room you're in is sparse, windowless, with only a small wooden table and two chairs. Strangely, there's a third chair, its material of a different, darker wood, and its backing elaborately designed into some kind of spiraling crest, in stark contrast to the ones the two of you are sitting in, which are as simple as can be. This third chair is off to the side, placed in a corner.

"And that's when the goblins busted in to crash the party!" you say, slamming your hand on the table by way of adding a sound-effect. "Obviously I collected myself immediately. I grabbed hold of Selino, right? And I'm all like Get a hold of yourself man, this is no time to panic, this is our chance to be heroes!" You pull both your fists back and get ready for a grand gesticulation as you unleash your untruths about valiantly fighting to defend the nobility assembled there. Only at the last moment do you realize that it would leave somewhat of a plot hole about not actually knowing the fate of anyone present. Which might come back to bite you later.

"And then I..." you say, deflating, "...uh... ran and... hid in a closet. And was unconscious for a while."

Leda raises an eyebrow, looking a little worried about you. "And then what?"

"Well, I woke up with superpowers." you say, and her expression only gets more worried.



"So then I wiped this inch-thick coating of goblin blood off my face and told my family Everyone get inside where it's safe. It's time for me to be a big damn hero. And it was so great. Everybody was all gasping and in awe, like, Oh **** man, that babe is so hot and amazing and stuff." you say, having since left your seat, planting a foot on your chair dramatically, so you could better gesticulate your epic fight with the goblin horde in Boeth's town square.

"Your... family said that?" Leda asks.

You momentarily choke back on your words. "Uh, no." you say, "There were other people there."

She nods slowly. "...Okay."

"Right." you try to get some of your momentum back, "So I'm drawing all this cosmic power from the deep wellspring of my enlightened soul and unleash this lance of pure energy from my bow whose brilliance dwarfed the noonday sun, and obliterated the sidhe in a shower of righteous doom!" You sling your arms around and add a Whoosh sound, and a Bam!, Boom. You recover and scratch your head absently. "...I think his name was something like... Lord Slaughterface... Unpleasantguy."

The elaborate chair in the corner coughs. You blink and furrow your brow, turning to look at it. Then, suddenly, your vision flickers.



"...righteous doom!" You sling your arms around and add a Whoosh sound, and a Bam!, Boom. You recover and scratch your head absently. "...I think his name was something like... Lord Middleboss... Wickedfoot."

You hear a soft, "Oh for the love of-" come from the elaborate chair in the corner of the room. You blink and furrow your brow, turning to look at it. Then, suddenly, your vision flickers.



You are in a room with only two chairs. You sling your arms around and add a Whoosh sound, and a Bam!, Boom. You recover and scratch your head absently. "...I think his name was something like... Lord Sepulcher... Deathshack."

The room is quiet. Ion Leda is cringing with her eyes. But also with the rest of her face. "...I think I've heard enough to make a report. I know it's getting late, but this is... a lot to take in. Would you mind remaining here a little longer? I think one of my superiors may want to come ask additional questions."

"But I haven't gotten to the part where I knife-fight Sepulcher Deathshack in my bedroom." you say, disheartened.

She stands from her seat. "Well... you can tell my boss, Ion Lissa all about it when she gets here, okay?"

Choice 1
>Agree to stay.
>Pronounce your duty fulfilled and leave.
>Tell her that you'd rather come back tomorrow, on account of the hour.

THEChanger
2016-02-02, 08:14 PM
>Agree to stay
>Ask where the third chair went

backwaterj
2016-02-02, 08:14 PM
Love the 100% accurate, entirely truthful account! :smallbiggrin:

Tell her that you'd rather come back tomorrow, on account of the hour.

If we can get in some exploration of the city, that seems like a good thing.

Eggel
2016-02-02, 09:24 PM
Agree to stay

I mean, how long could we possibly wait? :smallwink:
The phrase above is sarcastic, in case no one caught that
Also, ask about the chair. It kind of bothers me...

ImperatorV
2016-02-02, 10:12 PM
>Agree to stay

Xefas
2016-02-02, 11:26 PM
"Alright. No problem." you say. But something seems amiss.

--You exert your heroic willpower.

A soft pain pulses behind your eyes. "...Oof. I just got some weird deja vu." you say.

Ion Leda looks at you strangely, though she certainly already had been. "Deja vu?" she repeats, opening the door and signaling to the same ram-horned servant boy from before who, again, scurries away on cue.

"Yeah..." you begin to concentrate more.

--You exert more heroic willpower.

"There was a chair." you continue, with the kind of hurt, confused emphasis one might reserve for accusing one's roommates of eating your leftovers. The woman looks at the corner that you're looking at, and then back at you. You get another flash of deja vu, but unlike any you've had before, for this secondary memory has one factor changed, yet feels just as familiar as the first. "Middleboss Wickedfoot..." you mumble to yourself.

"...Oookay. I'm going to step out for a moment. Thank you for your time, Miss June." says Leda as she shuffles sidelong out of the room, never turning her back to you.

'Hah. This was most entertaining.' speaks the Darkness.

You're still staring at the empty corner of the room, only vaguely registering that you're now alone. Or, as alone as you ever get. "Why? You were there for most of it."

'Oh, no. Your creative retelling of the events was amusing in its own puerile way to be sure. But I'm also having fun watching you struggle against the glamour. It's the first time you've even noticed.' it says, amidst mocking chuckles.

You scrunch up your face. "First? Uh... my... A glamour is a fey thing, right?"

'It's Wyld magic. And since I'm just so proud of you for figuring it out, I'll let you in on part of the joke. Raksha have many tricks, but teleportation is a rare one. The one that was in your bedroom didn't suddenly disappear. When the Fair Folk do that, they're actually using a glamour to beguile the minds of those around them into editing their presence out of their perception. Somewhere between your flawed human organs and your flawed human soul, the information gets lost. This Lord Grave has been following you since you left Boeth. Sometimes your brain turns him into a tree, sometimes a rock, sometimes something else.' it explains.

"Godsdammit. Or a chair." you think.

The shadow smiles. 'Or a chair.' It pauses. 'You might be able to break the glamour now, but it would drain you significantly. And none of the creatures following you seem to mean you any immediate harm. Perhaps, in the future, you might consider developing your essence towards your mental faculties, alien as I'm sure the prospect is to you.'

You consider that. But that's the future. The idea that you've been stalked for weeks without your knowledge creeps you out now. "Teacher, could you not dispel the glamour on me yourself?"

'The depends.' says the shadow, and its tone does not at all sound like a spider asking a fly to step into its parlor, 'If you recall, I require express, relatively uncoerced, permission to access individual parts of your body and soul in order to do delicate work on them. I could take a hammer to your brain if I wished it, but not a scalpel. You would need to permit that I modify your eyes, and a teeny-tiny portion of your brain. The part that intersects your soul's Third Eye Chakra.' Before you can shake the unsettling image of someone walking around inside you with surgical tools - or a hammer for that matter - the shadow speaks again. 'I wouldn't do it now, though. I think it would be less... traumatic if you were asleep while I work.'

"Or in a drunken stupor." you say, recalling the pain of waking up during the last procedure.

Choice 1
>Permit the modifications.
>Do not permit the modifications.

Qoios
2016-02-03, 02:52 PM
>Request that my Honored Teacher be more forthcoming about any side effects of any future modifications he makes to me, preferably before he makes them.
We might be Fearless June, but we shouldn't be Foolish June (past decisions notwithstanding). On the up side, we've got illusions now, so if the Darkness that Follows gives us freaky-shadow-eyes, we can always just cover that up, right?
It doesn't seem like a hard sell, either, considering that DtF doesn't seem interested in setting us up for tragedies we do not foresee, but rather forcing us to embrace a tragic existence willingly.

>Permit the modifications.
That said, DtF might be sinister, but Dominic Badguy over here seems malevolent enough that I don't want to be unable to at least see what he's up to, either.

Non sequitur sidenote: for anyone reading this who isn't already familiar with Gaelic pronunciation rules, "Sidhe" is pronounced like the pronoun "She".

ImperatorV
2016-02-03, 03:53 PM
>Permit the modifications.

It would have been perfectly fine last time if not for the inkeeper walking in on us.

norman250
2016-02-03, 04:11 PM
>Permit the modifications.

I was initially going to say not to, because that was my gut impulse when someone says that they'll take a hammer to my brain, but the power hungry side of me won out.

...besides, some of the most beautiful metalwork pieces were wrought with a hammer.

Jon0113
2016-02-03, 04:37 PM
permit the modifications

I worry him having access to our brain, but this will be useful

Xefas
2016-02-03, 06:02 PM
'I shall begin preparations, then.' says the Darkness.

You rub your hands together unconsciously, nervously. Then your conscious mind catches up. "Wait. I didn't say yes. Not yet, anyway. I want to know what manner of devilry lurks in your details today. When you spoke of strengthening my body, you made no mention of these claws. You marred my flesh; mutated me. I don't wish to project the illusion that it doesn't bother me. It does."

The Darkness is quiet for a moment. 'I will save the explanation of the metaphysics of souls for another day. But let this suffice for now. A human is a human. A human cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound. A human cannot overhaul their muscular system in a single night. A human cannot focus their eyes beyond the slipshod veil of their own personal reality. They were designed in a way, and that is the way that they are. If you wish to be more, then you must be more.'

Your mind goes quiet, but almost as an afterthought, it adds, 'I have had demons in my service. Legions. I would not waste my otherwise valuable time making one out of you. I do not know what side-effects there will be, chiefly because I do not know what exposure to my essence is causing you to become.'

Those words make you very uncomfortable. "What does that-?!"

But then the door opens, and your thoughts snap to the real world.

Ion Leda files back in, along with an armed guard in a leather buff-jacket, holding a spear at some stance of attention, clearly nervous. Then a third person, wearing a deep black robe trimmed in gold; tall - close to seven feet - with the heavy wrinkles and pallor of someone very elderly. And yet he stands tall and firm, and his short hair, thin waxed mustache, and beard styled into something pointed and triangular, are dark as pitch without a hair of gray in them. In the center of his forehead, seemingly embedded into his skull, perhaps all the way through, is a tangerine-sized emerald with eight visible facets.

"Is this the girl?" the man says. His pale eyes stare daggers into your own.

Ion Leda bows her head low. "Yes, majesty." she says with a waver of reverence and fear.

"Speak sense to me, then. Now." he says, this time to you. You can feel the weight of his presence. You can feel that he is accustomed to power of more than one kind, accustomed to commanding things, of not being denied.

"Uh..." you're briefly at a loss for words.

"Speak!" the man says again, and you could swear the temperature in the room jumped a few degrees.

"Well, I- Should I start at the beginning, or...?" you say.

The man looks like he is about to shout again, but instead he takes a deep breath, closing his eyes for a second. His stance shifts to a slight angle from you, his knees bend slightly. He opens his eyes. You can feel power moving - all around you - like the world were suddenly underwater, and this man was the push and the pull of its tides.

"I do not have time for this." he says. "I will pry the truth of my brother's fate from your addled mind if I must. I care not to waste even a moment..." his words trail off, his eyes flash with inner light.

You put up your hands, palms open and facing him. "Woah. Woah! There's been some misunderstanding. I-"

But then you move. The gem in the man's forehead shines, and yellow lightning arcs down from it to the man's right hand, arrayed in front of him, index finger and pinky extended. Lightning connects the tips of both fingers, and then a new bolt fires forth, towards you. But you've already begun to move. The room is small, cramped, but you duck, and you roll forward and you- you- ... you feel a twinge, like a static shock, prickle the hair on the back of your head as the lightning arcs around and strikes you.

You freeze, expecting to be dead. But you aren't. It takes you a moment to realize this. In fact, you feel completely fine. You stand up.

The man is still in front of you, his face locked in concentration. A single continuous beam of crackling yellow energy still proceeds down from his gem, to his fingers, and to your own head. You look over at Ion Leda and the guard. They both look at you, and back to their king. They look concerned. You also look concerned. You shrug. That seems to concern them more.

You wait for something spectacular to happen, but instead it's something innocuous.

"What the devil?" Are the words you hear. "There's a whole bloody room in here." It takes a small effort for you to realize it's coming from inside your head. But it is certainly not the Darkness That Follows. "How the Hell did-"

And that's when the screaming starts.

You manage to say "Oh no." aloud before the body of the Sorcerer King standing in front of you begins to waiver. His muscles begin to spasm, droplets of blood begin issuing from his nose, mouth, and eyes. Yet, his eyes remain absolutely fixed on your own. That is, until his entire body falls to the ground, twitching, flailing uncontrollably. Then his eyes roll back into his head, and the screaming abruptly stops along with the disappearance of the cord of lightning.

Ion Leda and her guard didn't have the privilege of hearing the screams in your mind, but they hardly needed to. The guard gasps in utter, unmoving horror, gazing down on his liege. Leda recovers first and maneuvers behind him, shouting down the hall "Help! Help! Guards! Anyone!"

Choice 1
>Resist arrest.
>Do not resist arrest.

Eggel
2016-02-03, 06:36 PM
This is a tricky one. I'm gonna go with

Run away and try not to kill anybody on the way

Also, ask the Darkness That Follows,"What the hell just happened?"

Qoios
2016-02-03, 07:33 PM
> Do not resist arrest.
I am not looking to make enemies, here. It may be too late for that, but if I resist, that 'maybe' becomes a 'near-certainty'. I came here to get help from Sorcerer-Kings to the tune of "saving my family from Fey curses". I am not ruining that if I can help it.

> Ask DtF what just happened. And more importantly than 'what', 'why'.
Playing into that intimacy about needing all the facts. Established character traits, ahoy!

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-03, 08:42 PM
>Do not resist arrest.

It's gonna suck that we can't Feel Powerful, but we'll just have to ask the next spellslinger not to dive in shallow water. Apparently the Monster from the Black Lagoon here has a guillotine policy for trespassers, and makes no exceptions for brigands Sorcerer-Kings.

>You okay in there? He didn't make a mess... inside me, did he? Ugh, gross.

Elenna
2016-02-03, 08:51 PM
> Do not resist arrest.
I am not looking to make enemies, here. It may be too late for that, but if I resist, that 'maybe' becomes a 'near-certainty'. I came here to get help from Sorcerer-Kings to the tune of "saving my family from Fey curses". I am not ruining that if I can help it.

> Ask DtF what just happened. And more importantly than 'what', 'why'.
Playing into that intimacy about needing all the facts. Established character traits, ahoy!

This. Yay bandwagons!

Xefas
2016-02-03, 11:46 PM
Your cell is tiny. Neither long nor wide enough for you to fully lay down, nor tall enough for you to fully stand up. It's cramped and cold and uncomfortable. The door to the cell is wood reinforced with iron, and has a little slot for the guards to check on you.

You dab gingerly at the swelling around your left eye. The people who'd arrested you hadn't been gentle, despite your relative lack of resistance. Still, the bruises and scrapes seemed to be disappearing at an amazing rate. The Darkness That Follows had told you, at one point, that your body's natural healing processes would be accelerated from now on, but this is the first time you'd really gotten to see it.

"I don't know what you did." you say, "But you shouldn't have done it."

The Darkness scoffs. 'Before we begin assigning blame, need I remind you that this King Ion did, in fact, break into my house with premeditated rapine intentions.'

You gesture into the dark cell in frustration, as if there were actually someone across from you to gesture at. "It's my house!" you say. "..." pause, "My soul is not a house!"

'Regardless...' says the voice, '...I didn't do anything. His Brigandship was stupid enough to come barging in and just happened to be exposed to the raw glory of my divine eminence manifest, without the merciful barrier of a material form that mortal minds require to stand in my presence. And he... had some manner of cardiac episode.'

"That's such a load of-" you begin, but the shadow very sternly clears its throat at you. You sigh. "By which I mean, honored one, with all due respect - though I'm certain your explanation is truthful and proper - to my understand, it is a load. I've never had a problem interacting with you. You live in me."

You hear the Darkness exhale softly through its psychologically constructed, though largely fictitious, nose. 'I suppose this is as good a time as any to begin this conversation.' Its tone is... resigned?

"What conversation?" you say, your curiosity distracting you from the crappiness of your current situation.

'Recall that you did, in truth, have an adverse reaction to me on our first meeting.' it says.

You think back. "Oh yeah. I blacked out. For a while, actually. And when I came to, I was already above ground."

'Indeed.' it says, 'You should not have woken up at all. I had not expected you to. I had expected you to die, as this King Ion may yet. The fact that you did not...' The voice pauses, mulling over its words, '...it offended me. Only after many days of deliberation have I begun to replace that grievance with understanding, reason, curiosity, opportunity. ...Do you recall when I said that my spiritual growth from my emaciated state after bring trapped for a thousand years would explode your body like an overripe fruit? That wasn't a threat. I was stating a factual understanding of our situation, as I had every reason to perceive it. I am more than you. You cannot contain me. It is quite literally impossible. Much mightier vessels than you cannot contain me.'

"...I've been doing okay so far." you offer, considering its words.

'This is true. A perplexing conundrum. There is nothing special about you. I have scoured every place inside of you that I can find. You have no divine blood, no natural sorcerous talent. You have some dreadfully provincial remnants of a past life that mostly involve mead and ice-fishing. You aren't a prodigy at anything, you have no untapped wellspring of genius. You are, cosmically speaking, completely worthless.' it says. '...Yet, here we are.'

"Thank you..." you say, "...for that."

Then you recline as best you can in the tight conditions, and begin to think about what 'mead' or 'ice-fishing' might be.

Choice 1
>Break out of jail.
>Wait and see what happens.

Qoios
2016-02-04, 12:27 AM
>Wait and see what happens.
If we intended to escape, we would have been better served attempting to do so prior to our capture.

A very significant part of the point of not resisting was to try to get an opportunity to explain that the hopefully-not-quite-regicide was an accidental side effect of King Ion trying to mind-rape us with freaky gem-lightning before even asking us a question with enough words in it to indicate what he wanted from us. We had even disclosed to his underlings that we had recently become superpowered in circumstances that left us uncertain as to the extent or implications of those superpowers.

I feel like that would go over much less well after a jailbreak, successful or failed.

> Advise any appropriate persons we encounter during our imprisonment that they should probably not try to force their way into our minds, or likely try any other magic at us, as we are an unidentified, recently-magical person with limited control or understanding of our powers.
Also:
> Apologize about giving their Wizard-Sultan a heart-attack/stroke/aneurysm combo platter.
Are Fearless/Foolish June's social skills honed enough to express the first sentiment without sounding like we're making a threat, and the second one with a semblance of contrition? Let's watch and find out!

ImperatorV
2016-02-04, 12:31 AM
>Wait and see what happens.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-04, 02:40 AM
>Wait and see what happens next.
"Is it too much to ask that you can help out with his cardiac episode? Or is this one of those "No Hope Without Tragedy" scenarios?"

Holding out for Dr. Fearless in the third season. We already have speed, precision, and razor-sharp antiseptic fingers. If we can divine some intimate gnosis of the human condition of our own from The Darkness, we'll be well on our way to becoming the greatest surgeon to ever walk the face of Chalcedon!

Elenna
2016-02-04, 11:32 AM
>Wait and see what happens

In addition to everyone else's suggestions/questions:
Ask the Darkness that Follows if there is a way to avoid people having a stroke/seizure/thing if they try to do whatever it was the king did.
Because killing more people isn't going to help our case.

Tentreto
2016-02-04, 12:32 PM
Wait and see

Take stock of the surroundings

Lets make sure we can see anything suspicious, or a possible escape route for later. Also deathshack thingummy is likely to be somewhere, doesn't hurt to be prepared.

Eggel
2016-02-04, 05:21 PM
Wait and see what happens

Breaking out of jail in a magical city does not seem to be the best of ideas

Xefas
2016-02-04, 05:36 PM
You wait. Time passes, but without a window, you're not sure how long. Maybe a day. You spend much of your stay in the cell inside your mindscape, finishing up your lessons with the Darkness That Follows.

--You've acquired a new skill: Lore
This skill is used to recall facts about literature, history, geography, and so on, as well as to do math and solve purely logical puzzles and other problems. The breadth of a given character's Lore skill is based on how they were educated (and can be broadened later). The Darkness That Follows, for example, can't teach you much about 'practical' history, since they've been imprisoned for a thousand years. They can tell you about the origins of the world that have since been shrouded in myth and legend, but that falls under the Occult skill. Because Creation's geography doesn't really shift on its own over time like it does on Earth, instead being the purview of gods and elementals, the Darkness' information about the Dreaming Sea's geography is likely still more-or-less relevant. Your instruction on literature is incredibly esoteric, but not mystical enough to be Occult; you have a passing knowledge of ancient demonic playwrights. Perhaps most importantly, though, June now has a basic foundation for rational thinking.





Ask the Darkness that Follows if there is a way to avoid people having a stroke/seizure/thing if they try to do whatever it was the king did.

'If your mental fortifications were strong enough to stop a psychic invasion before it ever reached the inner sanctum of your mind, they would not have to contend with me. Of course, only mortals will have such a severe reaction, and I would guess that there are few mortals in this world capable of performing such a feat to begin with.' So speaks the Darkness That Follows.



When the door opens, you're briefly dazzled by the lamplight in the hallway beyond. Two Erymanthoi are there, along with six mortal guards armed with spears, and an older bald man in a simple white robe. You do not resist as they clap manacles to your arms and legs, and then one of the ape-demons bodily lifts and carries you, its arms encircling your mid-section. As they escort you down the corridor studded with dozens more doors leading to cells like your own, and up stairs, and through more hallways, and then out into the fading light of dusk, the spear-wielding guards march with three on either side of you, their weapons tilted in your direction, their eyes wary of you.

You try to think of some of what you learned of diplomacy. "Sir. ...Sir?" you say, and the bald man turns to look at you, still walking across the open, empty forum area before you, but does not say anything. "Sir, I think there's been a misunderstanding, but I realize that my presence has caused a problem and I seek sincere forgiveness for that. I'm deeply sorry for serving up that heart-attack/stroke/aneurysm combo platter to your wizard-sultan as if I were some kind of waitress at Saturn's Teahouse of Terminal Organ-Failure and he was our millionth customer."

The robed man stops walking.

His eyes seem livid for some reason.

Everyone else stops likewise. Restrained as you are by the Erymanthus, you can do nothing as he steps up to you and plants a solid punch near your solar plexus, knocking the wind out of you and causing you to cough and wretch. Fortunately, you haven't eaten in a while. The group begins walking again, and you recover after a minute or so. You decide to keep your mouth shut for the rest of the journey. Instead, you turn your voice inward to your mind. "I don't think he understood how genuine my remorse is."

'Wherever your natural talents lie...' says the Darkness, '...we desperately need to find them. But I believe we may safely exclude anything that should involve the exchange of words.'

You near one of Ysyr's famous spires. You have no way of guessing how many hundreds of feet tall it is, but at this range, you can see why the pure white exterior of the towers glimmer so in the sunlight. Their walls are inlaid, every six inches or so, with innumerable thousands of white and pale-blue polished gemstones.



You had expected to be brought up the spire. But instead, once the group entered its stairwell, they took you down beneath it. Quite a ways, you'd wager.

The room you arrive in looks to be some combination of throne-room and war-room. Its spacious circular interior has eight evenly-spaced thrones around its outside, each identical, black stone, cushioned, high-backed and solid. Near its vaulted ceiling hangs a small sphere of red-orange flame, floating without support, illuminating and warming the room with its radiance. In the room's center are a half-dozen sturdy wooden tables, with a few chairs scattered through. One holds what looks to be a scale model of the city of Ysyr, about six or seven feet to a side. Another, maybe twelve-by-twelve is a topographically molded map of the entire Dreaming Sea region, marked with cities and major trade-routes. Two more are strewn with maps and other papers. A fifth is bare, save for several small open chests you can see are organized with different wooden figurines, and a stack of croupier sticks. At the sixth, two men sit on stools playing some kind of game with little stiff paper cards. One of them has four arms.

Once you are deposited there, still manacled, your entourage leaves, bowing themselves out, and leaving you to the custody of the six kings within.

One nearest the door seemed to be waiting for you. He steps towards you. He is slightly inhumanly tall, like the two Sorcerer Kings you'd seen before, but more muscular, greatly broad-shouldered, and his bald head is very literally on fire. As in, a small bonfire is issuing, sourcelessly, from his scalp at all times. He wears the same black robe as the other kings. He doesn't look happy as he looms over you. "Let me make this perfectly clear." he says, and his voice is deep and thunderous, "Heretic. Attempted murderer. Animal. You are alive now only because King Ion yet lives. Whatever manner of wickedness you have imposed upon him, you will lift it. I command it of you. Else, I shall carry justice against you here and now."

You clear your throat, both physically and mentally, and run a thought by your shadow first. "Can you do that? Fix this King Ion?"

'Of course.' you hear in reply.

This time, you speak audibly, "Of course! No problem. Really, I just think this was a misunderstanding - if I could tell you my story from the beginning-"

The Sorcerer-King leans down until you're closer to face-to-face. "Do not presume that your [i]tricks will work here, creature. You are in the presence of the mightiest beings in Creation, in our place of power. You will do as you're told or I will incinerate you with a thought."

You are lead across the throne room to a door on its other side.

On the way, you notice a king dozing lightly on one of the cushioned thrones, a book overturned in their lap. Their skin is white as snow, white as death, their long hair as vividly purple as a field of blooming irises. Two more kings stand around the model of Ysyr, inspecting it thoughtfully and murmuring quietly to one another. One is grey-haired and aged, though their short locks twist upward in a dysfunctional mop in defiance of gravity, and with every soft word, you can see visible smoke or mist issue from their lips and fade into the air around them. The other is, unlike all the other kings, short - shorter than you, even - with dark hair tied into a ponytail, and a pair of small bronze-framed spectacles set in front of his eyes.

At the table, playing cards, the largest king sits, each of his four arms burlier than your own, impressively burly, ones. He's bald, with an enormous, dimpled, chin and tiny eyes set deeply into his skull. While two of his hands hold his cards, one strokes his bare chin and the other scratches an itch under his armpit. The last king, across the table, is heavily tanned, with a long beard that is, like his short bob of hair, neon green and formed perfectly into dozens of thick, tightly-bound circular curls, like a bundle of chameleon tails.



Your are lead to a lavish bedchamber on a lower sub-level of the spire, within which the bedridden King Ion is to be found. Four servants stand dutifully at attention by his bedside. The fiery-headed Sorcerer King stands close by you; uncomfortably close, as you inspect your would-be patient.

King Ion is awake. Sort of. His eyes are open, but he stares at nothing. Occasionally he mumbles through rigidly clenched teeth. You lean over, close to him, to listen. "...my gods... it's full of dead stars... guttering in the night... Creation's last night..."

Gibberish. You crack your knuckles and turn to the King and servants next to you. "I'm going to need some privacy to work."

The King scoffs. "You'd like that, wouldn't you, assassin."

You sigh. "Fine." you say, and place your hands experimentally on King Ion's chest, hoping you look like you're doing something mystical. Your words turn inward. "Any time now would be great, teacher." you say.

'Excuse me?' comes the voice.

"I know you heard this guy was going to incinerate me if I don't cure this man. So... uh, whenever you're ready." you say.

The Darkness forces out half of a sarcastic chuckle. "I did say that I could do so, but I do not recall saying that I would."

"What?!" you say, but the sudden indignation causes you to blurt it out for real, and the four servants near you all jump. The fiery king merely raises an eyebrow. But then, you see King Ion's head slowly creak over to look at you. You have only a moment to furrow your brow in creepitude before his hand darts out, quick as lightning, and snatches your wrist.

"...who casts the shadow..." he rasps, quiet and ragged, "...tell me... who casts the shadow..."

You tear your arm out of his grasp, easily, and he begins fidgeting again and lies back down, silent once more.

"Ahem." you say. "He will recover."

The fiery king glares down at you incredulously, but says nothing.

You go on. "Under my regular ministrations, I expect him to recover in a few weeks time. But if something were to happen to me, his fate is surely sealed..."

"Very well." he says, "You will be kept here. And alive. For now. Under guard. And no god will be able to help you if you are lying to me."



Over the following day, you manage to be introduced to the other kings, who regard you with either naked anger or apathy.

The Sorcerer-King with neon green hair is King Arc. The one with white skin and purple hair is King Dor. The four-armed one is King Boe. The smoke-breather is King Aka. The short spectacled one is King Eae. Your jailer with the fiery hair is King Eli. That leaves King Ion, your victim, and King Del, the bronze-skinned giant you saw in Boeth. Eight Kings in total.

You are certain that, somewhere in this compound, there exists the right sequence of questions, answers, explanations, promises, favors, and lessons necessary to avoid your own execution, and acquire a counter-curse for your siblings.

But you don't know what they are.

>Suggestions?

(Try to keep it to one suggestion per post. I'm going to try to reply to each suggestion, rather than calling for a vote for each one. Feel free to post more suggestions after I get to your first one. Especially risky suggestions, like starting a fight, will probably call for a vote.)

Character Sheet

Fearless June
Mortal Female Human
Fated to live an interesting life.

Attributes
[Physical] Strength: Extraordinary; Dexterity: Extraordinary; Stamina: Average
[Social] Charisma: Average; Manipulation: Weak; Appearance: Above Average
[Mental] Intelligence: Above Average; Wits: Average; Perception: Average

Abilities
Archery: Expert
Athletics: Expert
Awareness: Skilled
Brawl: Basic
Craft (Cobbling): Basic
Craft (Metalwork): Basic
Dodge: Expert
Integrity: Skilled
Investigation: Expert
Larceny: Basic
Linguistics: Basic
Lore: Basic
Melee: Basic
Occult: Skilled
Presence: Skilled
Resistance: Skilled
Stealth: Skilled
Socialize: Basic
Survival: Basic

Intimacies
[Defining] I Love My Family
[Major] The Ancient Past Is Fascinating
[Major] I'm Responsible For Mila
[Major] I Trust Alistair After Everything We've Been Through
[Minor] Demons Don't Seem So Bad
[Minor] I Need All The Facts
[Minor] I'm No Better Than Anyone Else
[Minor] I Enjoy Feeling Powerful

Possessions On Person
Clothes (Filthy)
Manacles (Locked Around Your Arms and Legs)

Possessions Being Kept At An Unknown Location
Composite Bow [Medium Ranged Weapon]
Wooden Arrows
Dagger [Light Melee Weapon, Light Thrown Weapon]
Selino's Short Sword [Light Melee Weapon, +Minimum Brave Damage]
Iron-Shod Gloves [Light Brawl Weapon]
The Everbright Lantern [Minor Artifact]
Chain Shirt [Light Armor, Concealable]
The Forgeheart Opal
The Second Key-Gem (Not Yet Named)
A small assortment of ancient jewelry

Health
Physically, June is healthy.

Mentally, June is feeling heavily taxed.

Spiritually, June is healthy.

Supernatural Powers
Shadow Swiftness (Active, One Action, Variable Cost; Grants superhuman agility, lightness, or speed of body or mind.)
Leaping Shadows Method (Active, One Scene, Low Cost; Use Shadow Swiftness to make mildly superhuman jumps for free.)
Demon-Predator Claws (Passive; Permanent +Strength, Deal lethal damage with unarmed attacks.)
Ephemeral Devil-Body (Passive; Permanent +Health, Superhuman natural healing)
Mirage of Beshadowed Visage (Active, Indefinite, Low Cost; Create a visual illusion around your body and clothing.)

Eggel
2016-02-04, 07:36 PM
Which Kings are apathetic and which ones are furious?

Also, ask Darkness That Follows some questions

"Will King Ion actually survive?"
"When you (the Darkness that Follows) entered my body and I blacked out, how did I end up aboveground?"

Tentreto
2016-02-04, 07:52 PM
Try to listen in to any servant gossip to learn a little of the characteristics of some of the kings

If possible, try and tell our story to at least one king-possibly mention that there should be a report on our entry.

Probably also a good idea to say a certain fay had been following us.
(Maybe tell the fay that if he wants a good story, he may want to give a few nudges)

THEChanger
2016-02-04, 08:11 PM
Trying to make contact with the Fae bastard strikes me as a...Bad Idea(TM).

We should, however, try to form a rapport with our guards. That sounds like a good idea. Show them we aren't anymore a monster than anyone else in this city.

Xefas
2016-02-04, 08:20 PM
Which Kings are apathetic and which ones are furious?

Kings Eli, Aka, and Boe are strongly negative towards you. Kings Eae, Arc, and Dor are apathetic as far as you can tell.


"Will King Ion actually survive?"

'Likely. But not in a state that the other Kings will find acceptable.'


"When you (the Darkness that Follows) entered my body and I blacked out, how did I end up aboveground?"

'When your soul reaches a certain degree of separation from your body, I am able to take control of your motor functions without prior consent, and without causing you spiritual or mental harm. Originally, I had thought the trauma of my entry had caused such separation. Since, I have come to understand that when humans reach a particular depth of slumber, their souls achieve such separation when they enter the Dream World. While you dreamed, I maneuvered you out of the ruins. When you awoke... well, you were there for that.'

That concerns you. "...Does that mean you've been piloting me around every night without me knowing?"

The Darkness frowns. 'You don't always dream. But mostly I do calisthenics.'

"I...I don't even know what to say."

You can feel the shadow in your mind shrug. 'If you were trapped, perfectly immobile, for a thousand years, you wouldn't take the simple pleasure of movement for granted.'


Try to listen in to any servant gossip to learn a little of the characteristics of some of the kings

There are a few servants who seem to rotate around the rooms of this underground complex, attending to the needs of the kings.

Your initial snooping reveals some complaints about King Eli's short temper, which doesn't surprise you. They seem to be largely terrified of little King Eae, mentioning something about how his personal servants seem to have the largest degree of turnover, and not from peaceful retirement. Conversely, they positively swoon over King Dor, and you hear more than one bawdy recount of his taking one or more (usually more) servants to bed with him each night.

You can collect more information over time, especially if you do something to ingratiate yourself with the staff.


If possible, try and tell our story to at least one king-possibly mention that there should be a report on our entry.

Probably also a good idea to say a certain fay had been following us.

You attempt to explain your situation to King Eli, but he dismisses your words as lies - an attempt to absolve yourself of a crime you were caught red-handed committing - before you can really get to the better parts of the story.

You pick out one of the more apathetic ones at random - King Arc - and try to explain, but he insists that there are greater things afoot and that he can't be disturbed.

You may have to do something to catch the interest of one or more of the Kings before they'll become invested in what you have to say.


(Maybe tell the fay that if he wants a good story, he may want to give a few nudges)

You're not sure if he's present or not. Or where he would be. The Darkness That Follows hasn't modified your eyes yet; although he could go through with the procedure tonight, if you'd like.

Qoios
2016-02-04, 08:56 PM
See, this is what I get for being a wise-guy with my responses. I hadn't actually intended my suggestion to be so directly quoted as all that. Especially the part about using incorrect terminology (Sorcerer King vs Wizard Sultan) that June is established as definitely knowing.

Hilarious as that scene was, I figured all that stuff would get translated into June-speak. I've got no reason to be afraid of fictional Sorcerer Kings, and am unfamiliar enough with Exalted's setting as to irreverently mock a generic-sounding name by way of synonym substitution. I doubt June has my level of detachment from the particulars of her phrasing, though. Lesson learned. Both about my suggestions, and about Manipulation being June's dump-stat.

As to our present course, though, I will start with what I see as the most pressing concerns of information:
> Inquire with DtF regarding the full nature of what he has done to King Ion, as far as it affects our survival, namely:
Will Ion recover naturally?
If so, will it be roughly within the time-table we have bought ourself?
Why will DtF not accelerate that process?
Can we persuade him to change his mind, perhaps via one of those "unreasonable requests" he promised were to come?
Is there anything we can do to fix it ourself, or would that be impossible/offensive to DtF?
Will DtF train us to psychically defend ourself without his aid, so that this type of scenario can perhaps be avoided in the future?

> Also, whether by asking around or simply observing, I'd like to find answers to a number of questions regarding this compound we are restricted to:
How much freedom do we have to move about within the compound?
What sorts of facilities exist within it that we are aware of?
Which of those facilities are available to us?
Who, besides ourself and the Sorcerer Kings, occupy/work within this compound?
What, if anything, can we glean about any persons that stand out?

> Oh! I also vote in favor of going through with the eye-change operation.
The ability itself seems like it'll probably be handy, and if nothing else, any visible changes might lend credence to our attempts to convince anyone of the validity of our recently-superpower-and-actively-mutating story.

Xefas
2016-02-05, 12:03 AM
OOC Stuff


See, this is what I get for being a wise-guy with my responses. I hadn't actually intended my suggestion to be so directly quoted as all that. Especially the part about using incorrect terminology (Sorcerer King vs Wizard Sultan) that June is established as definitely knowing.

Hilarious as that scene was, I figured all that stuff would get translated into June-speak. I've got no reason to be afraid of fictional Sorcerer Kings, and am unfamiliar enough with Exalted's setting as to irreverently mock a generic-sounding name by way of synonym substitution. I doubt June has my level of detachment from the particulars of her phrasing, though. Lesson learned. Both about my suggestions, and about Manipulation being June's dump-stat.

Usually, I'd absolutely translate posters' stuff into something appropriately serious (and setting appropriate), but your wording struck me as funny enough that it put me in the mood to write a more lighthearted scene, so I rolled with it. It certainly wasn't meant to be a "lesson" or a punishment or anything like that. The scene wasn't particularly plot-critical to begin with, and I personally got a good laugh, so by all means feel free to be a wise-guy when the feeling strikes you. :smalltongue:


Trying to make contact with the Fae bastard strikes me as a...Bad Idea(TM).

We should, however, try to form a rapport with our guards. That sounds like a good idea. Show them we aren't anymore a monster than anyone else in this city.

Is this the beginning of a conversation with other posters and/or strategic advice? Or is it meant to be a specific action?





Will Ion recover naturally?

'Likely. But not in a state that the other Kings will find acceptable.'


If so, will it be roughly within the time-table we have bought ourself?

'Impossible to say. As a sorcerer, I could give conjecture that his mind is likely better at putting itself back together than the average mortal. It's possible.'


Why will DtF not accelerate that process?

'I don't have a reason to. I'm your mentor, not your mother. If you can't solve your own problems, then all you've done is proved me wrong in my assertion that you're secretly worth something, and I'll just go on my merry way once you're a smoldering pile of ash on the floor. Come back when you have something to barter.'


Can we persuade him to change his mind, perhaps via one of those "unreasonable requests" he promised were to come?

'We currently find ourselves in a fairly closed system. Do some exploration, and perhaps I'll find something that would amuse me.'


Is there anything we can do to fix it ourself, or would that be impossible/offensive to DtF?

You don't have any skill in Medicine, nor do you have any restorative magics at your disposal. It's possible that somewhere in the vast web of potential for your supernatural powers, there is something that could help, but you don't know how far, and in which direction, you would have to assert your efforts.


Will DtF train us to psychically defend ourself without his aid, so that this type of scenario can perhaps be avoided in the future?

'If that is what you wish to study next, I can teach you.'


How much freedom do we have to move about within the compound?
What sorts of facilities exist within it that we are aware of?
Which of those facilities are available to us?

The stairwell that leads to higher levels, and eventually the surface, is heavily guarded with both mortal and demonic sentries. Escape is unlikely.

Within the compound, you can tell that the servants have been told to keep an eye on you, although they aren't stalking you every moment. You're able to ask them for basic things like food and water. If there is a larder or kitchen, you assume it is on another level.

You have access to some rooms but not others, and the Sorcerer-Kings seem to have some arcane method of ensuring that a door with no visible locking mechanism can open for them, but not for anyone else. That said, you seem to have the same 'clearance' as the servants, and can therefore enter the throne room and the various sleeping quarters around the facility, including King Ion's and your own (which sports some equipment that leads you to believe that you'll be heavily restrained at night). There's also a mysteriously complex latrine, the functioning of which you do not entirely understand.

Individual Sorcerer-Kings come and go, often spending time in areas that you are restricted from. You could likely accompany one if they chose to take you. Given that you sometimes see them with books or occult instruments they did not have previously, you assume that they have a library or libraries, and/or private work-areas that you are not privy to.


Who, besides ourself and the Sorcerer Kings, occupy/work within this compound?

Maybe a dozen servants, in similarly drab grey ensembles as you saw working at Governor Basso's mansion, including the four that seem to be dedicated to watching over King Ion. They're more or less evenly split gender-wise, and appear to exist to fetch mundane things, hold things, fan, feed, and offer sycophancy to their masters.

You suspect guards might be brought in to watch you overnight. The only time the Sorcerer-Kings appear to fear being attacked is while they slumber. Or perhaps it is just King Eli; certainly, King Dor doesn't appear to care about nodding off wherever, regardless of whether you're lurking around.


What, if anything, can we glean about any persons that stand out?

If what you were told about Ysyr was true, and those born within are either mutants or sorcerers, then it's no surprise that the Kings' single unifying trait is rampant egotism. If they grew up from day one being told they were better than everyone else and would eventually be godly figures in their society, arrogance would be inevitable. They don't have much patience with their servant-staff, speaking to them more often than not like especially mobile and manually dexterous foot-stools. So perhaps standing out isn't a trait they're selected for.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-05, 12:28 AM
So, from what Ion was saying, he's been exposed to a wellspring of infinite nihilism and suffering, and had a predictable response. He's completely overwhelmed. His mind is now lost underneath - pardon the metaphor - an ocean of darkness. I'll assume the magical nature of his affliction renders it invulnerable to standard methods of therapy.

According to Hopeless Masquerade, the cure for crushing existential despair is self-definition. Is there any way to, I don't know, pull aside the dark in his mind long enough for his identity to repair itself? It is the nature of darkness to envelope and consume, but it's not destructive, merely degrading. If we can keep his ailment from inflicting further psychic damage, that might be the first step to returning him to sanity.

>All for the modifications. Make me see forever, Morpheus.


I'm your mentor, not your mother.

You now have the image of adventuring with your mother sealed inside of you. It is uncomfortable in ways you had yet to think possible. Truly, the Darkness is a genius in the field of irony, and also wrecking dumb punks who don't know who they're talking up to.

THEChanger
2016-02-05, 12:34 AM
Is this the beginning of a conversation with other posters and/or strategic advice? Or is it meant to be a specific action?



Beginning of a conversation. I'm not sure how to go about wheedling into people's good graces - it's a hole in my skills I share with June. It's also late where I am, and exhaustion tends to make me less good at that too.

...hey other voices in June's head. Are we in a bribing mood? I know we don't have access to our gems right now, but assuming they haven't simply been seized, we might be able to use them to get in good with certain people.

For that matter, the Everburning Lantern might be of interest to the Kings. What with its weird magical perpetual energy stuff.

I will, however, now throw my vote in >For modification. Preferably while we're not dealing with something else. And drunk. Though I doubt we can grab alcohol in sufficient quality to achieve that.

Elenna
2016-02-05, 01:44 AM
>Yes to the modification, in a secluded place, preferably while drunk or on painkillers, otherwise I guess do it while we're asleep?

>Learning to psychically defend ourselves also sounds good if we don't figure out something else to do.

Why do I get the feeling DtF is just sitting there laughing at us somewhere in the recesses of our soul? :smalltongue:

Unfortunately I also fail at social skills IRL. Anyone got thoughts on how to start some kind of conversation with any of the kings? Or maybe one of the guards? Or servants? Or something?

- - - Updated - - -


...hey other voices in June's head. Are we in a bribing mood? I know we don't have access to our gems right now, but assuming they haven't simply been seized, we might be able to use them to get in good with certain people.

For that matter, the Everburning Lantern might be of interest to the Kings. What with its weird magical perpetual energy stuff

Given that we had our things when we got to this city, and now we no longer have them, I'm assuming the Kings confiscated everything.

Speaking of which:



Possessions Being Kept At An Unknown Location
A small assortment of ancient jewelry scattered about your person

Ah, the joys of copy-pasting. :smallbiggrin:

Jon0113
2016-02-05, 02:00 AM
Ask the darkness whatit thinks it's greatest creations are.

We probably have come across a bit surly, and this sounds like something to help stroke the darkness's ego

Xefas
2016-02-05, 03:30 AM
Ah, the joys of copy-pasting. :smallbiggrin:

Ah, thank you. Should be fixed now. And yes, June's stuff was confiscated when she was thrown in jail.


Is there any way to, I don't know, pull aside the dark in his mind long enough for his identity to repair itself?

...Hmmm. Alright. I can work with this.




Ask the darkness whatit thinks it's greatest creations are.

'I had a kingdom once.' it says, 'Sometimes I wonder what has become of it. Likely nothing remains now. It was a masterpiece; a great engine. The hearts and minds of my people were its cogs and gears - arrayed ever so perfectly to work in my grand design. With only a drop of hope to fuel it, it output tremendous prayer and devotion. I loved that kingdom. I dare say I loved it more than my own children. Of course... there is no love without pain. Still, it is the greatest thing I have made that was solely of my making.'



You begin focusing your will towards developing your supernatural powers along the axis of the mind.

Choice 1
>Focus on fortifying your mind against intrusion. (Social/Mental Defense)
>Focus on sensing the darkness in the minds of others. (Social/Mental Utility)
>Focus on structuring the darkness in your own mind. (Social Offense)



It was already late when you arrived, so you don't have long before the Sorcerer-Kings begin to disappear one by one, off to their chambers for the night.

Sensing that you might not have long to do so, you go into King Ion's room. You swipe some of the expensive opium-based ingested analgesic that you noticed by his bedside earlier. You attempt to self-medicate something in the ballpark of not noticing your eyes being torn apart from the inside out, and replace the bottle. It tastes horrendously bitter, but you suspect you won't much care for long.

As you suspected, two guards and an Erymanthus find and collect you. You're escorted into a small room and bound to a wooden frame with something of a simple straw mattress. It beats a lot of the places you're used to sleeping in.



You awaken with a start, as if your body is shocked to realize it's still alive, and you inhale air sharply into your dry mouth; you seem to have been drooling openly all night. The door to your room is being opened. If that strange crusty feeling around your face is as much dried blood as you imagine, whoever is coming in might be in for a shock.

Choice 2
>Use Mirage of Beshadowed Visage to veil my eyes (and face until I can clean up) to what they should naturally be. I suspect the modification may have altered their appearance.
>Leave it be. I have a plan that involves being found, covered in blood, with freaky eyes. Hopefully.



--You've acquired a new supernatural power: Shadow Without Light
This ability has a passive and an active component. Passively, it allows you to see in darkness. Anything less than absolute darkness is treated as perfect lighting for you to see in. Absolute darkness is a little hazy, but you can see almost as well as in bright light. Actively, you may spend your spiritual power to see through illusions. This does not impart any additional ability to detect an illusion is present; you must know to use the ability in the first place. Powers branching off from this one might allow you to see through metaphorical illusions.



>More Suggestions

Qoios
2016-02-05, 03:47 AM
Okay, some thoughts regarding how we might proceed, in no particular order:

On Eye Modifications
I vote that we attempt to remain conscious during the modification of our eyes, if at all possible. The pain woke us last time, anyway. Perhaps, this time, the pain will knock us out, despite our efforts, but sleep feels like a poor salve for the agony involved, and we might learn more by observing the process more thoroughly. Plus I don't think we can get any anesthetics, here, and am unsure who to ask for them, regardless. If someone can present a reasonable path to acquiring anesthetics or alcohol, I'm all ears, but I vote very strongly against any attempt at deception, larceny, or obfuscation of any kind within this entire ordeal.

On Commiserating with DtF
I don't like the ego-stroking ploy, but I do think we should work on trying to establish a better rapport with our soul-guest. I think the best avenue is found in displaying some cunning and working this situation out without his direct aid, just his counsel. Rather than trying to use blind flattery-fishing to warm him to us, let's try to earn a modicum of his respect.

On Defending Our Mind
It is good to know that we could learn this, in case it comes up again later, and we should learn to do so, at some point. Right now, there are much more pressing concerns. This is, however, at the top of my list for things-to-do-once-we-are-no-longer-forestalling-our-own-execution.

On What to Learn Instead
Doing the opposite of forcing people out of our mind. If it is possible, I'd like for us to look into whether or not we could learn to enter someone else's mind/soul-thing. If we can learn to do something similar to what Ion did, we may be able to undo the damage from within him. If this is within the purview of what DtF can/will teach us the rudiments of how to do on a short enough timetable to be relevant to our non-incineration, I'm all for studying up on that. Besides, it'll serve as a good basis for learning to defend our own mind, I suspect. Failing that: Social Skills! June really would benefit from learning to speak without getting gastric acid on her own foot.

On Bribing Anyone Here
We have nothing in our possession with which to bribe anyone, and even if we had our possessions, this feels insanely risky. The costs of this backfiring could be catastrophic for us, and I say we pursue an... equally foolhardy, but also much more Fearless approach.

On Building Rapport with Guards/Servants
This I like better. Given our virtually non-existent social skills, though, I'm not certain how to go about doing this in a way that wouldn't end up seeming like an obvious attempt at manipulation of the guards or servants. Any ideas on details, folks?

On Requesting "Aid" from that-Fey-bastard-who-ruined-our-home-and-cursed-our-family-for-the-sake-of-his-story
I vote "No". If you fail to understand why that is, please reread the title of this section.

As to directly responding to the latest set of choices:
>Focus on sensing the darkness in the minds of others. (Social/Mental Utility)
>Use Mirage of Beshadowed Visage to veil my eyes (and face until I can clean up) to what they should naturally be. I suspect the modification may have altered their appearance.

As a follow up suggestion for our actions today:
> I propose that we find one of the Sorcerer-Kings, other than Eli, Del, or Ion, and try to get their attention. Once we have it, we use Mirage of Beshadowed Visage, directly in front of them, and in obvious ways. Then we stop utilizing it entirely, exposing our freaky claw-hands and spooky shadow-eyes, and make some demonstration of our Shadow Swiftness. We then try to explain to him as many of the following things as we can:
If we were interested in escape or subterfuge, we would have attempted it using those powers, or at least not exposed them to our captors.
If we had intended Ion harm, we would not have surrendered and come quietly upon realizing that he was disabled, and subjected ourself to the mercy of the other Kings, especially not given that our speed could likely have allowed us to escape from Ion Leda and the lone guard that was with her.
If we had foul intentions in general, we would not have spoken frankly with Ion Leda, explained our situation, and tried to relate the news from Boeth as best we could.
King Ion's status is a result of some incompatibility between what he did to us, and our newly-magical nature.
We're not sure if Ion was informed of our magic-ness, but we had openly stated it to Ion Leda, and made no effort whatsoever to hide it.
We have good reason to believe we can undo what has happened to Ion, but if we are to do so, we will need information, resources, and perhaps a bit of practice in some manner of controlled environment.
Oh, and that some guy named Qoios really, really likes bulleted lists.

Elenna
2016-02-05, 04:27 AM
If it is possible, I'd like for us to look into whether or not we could learn to enter someone else's mind/soul-thing. If we can learn to do something similar to what Ion did, we may be able to undo the damage from within him.
I like this idea. And on second thought, I doubt the other Sorcerer-Kings will try to go delving into our mind/soul now that they know it will put them in a weird coma thing.
As such, I propose we ask the DtF whether any of the mental abilities (the ones in Choice 1) will allow us to do something like that, and what any side-effects might be (for us or King Ion).

Regarding Choice 2, let's use Mirage of Beshadowed Visage to veil our eyes and face for now. I know there were some suggestions about dropping the mirage to get the kings to trust us, but that should probably happen in a controlled situation aka when we aren't covered in blood. :smalltongue:
Also, clean up our face immediately, and avoid the Sorcerer-Kings before doing so. I'm somewhat worried they might be able to see through/detect the mirage. Hopefully it isn't one of them opening the door.

Also, question for the DtF:
What will happen to King Ion if we don't do anything? It sounded like something will happen to him besides being unconscious and muttering stuff. Actually, I wonder if he might somehow become a follower of the DtF or something? Note to self: the answer to this one may not be trustworthy.

Things to try and find out (maybe by asking servants/guards, or through personal knowledge:
Is Ion Leda a name or a title? Why does it have King Ion's name in it?
Why did King Ion talk about the fate of his brother when interrogating us? Is the ruler of city-we-came-from-whose-name-I-forgot related to him? Did his brother go off on a journey? Didn't we hear that nobody leaves this place (whose name I also forgot)? (As you can tell, I'm not great with names. :smallredface:)

I agree on not really wanting to ask for help from that-Fey-bastard-who-ruined-our-home-and-cursed-our-family-for-the-sake-of-his-story. Especially since we're already in debt to one powerful, probably-evil supernatural entity.
However, what do you think of using our newfound power to look around for him? Maybe when we're near important people? Finding an intruder might be a way to gain trust? It might also be a way to get killed by the aforementioned Fey bastard, but...well... decisions.

I kind of like Qoios' plan, but I'd like to get some answers, explore as much as we can, and discuss first before doing anything too risky.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-05, 05:42 AM
>Focus on sensing the darkness in the minds of others.
>Use Mirage of Beshadowed Visage to veil my eyes.


Oh, and that some guy named Qoios really, really likes bulleted lists.

Did... did you not see what happened the last time we tried to explain things? Fearless June is incredibly bad at words. I'm starting to think that she literally learned how to talk to people from listening to campfire stories. If we try any kind of overt attempt at manipulation, we're screwed. Especially if we're sincere about it! If they aren't already confused or conflicted, sincerity will be received as a sign of pathos, or further manipulation.

We have no authority over these people. They have no reason and likely no desire to think well of us. And in the case of the Sorcerer-Kings, putting forward even the implication that they are incorrect about something will likely offend their pride, and with it, completely destroy our own minuscule legitimacy in their minds.

What we should be doing is figuring out if we want to commit to staying or leaving. Either one seems plausible right now. We need information to determine which option is less impossible, and the faster we obtain said information, the more time we'll have to save our worthless hides. To that end, here's my suggestion.

>We need to put our feelers out, really throw ourselves into this situation. Don't we have some bright and shiny new skills specifically for figuring out logical conundrums and ferreting out hidden intimacies?

Tentreto
2016-02-05, 01:06 PM
If we do want to try a another attempt at speech, maybe we should write down the key points we want to make and hand them to another king.
At least at this, we can prepare and rehearse what to do, and maybe write a disclaimer to how bad our social skills our.
Earlier we saw two kings playing a game, does TDwF recognize it, or at least the theory behind it, as we probably don't. At the very least, it might give us a little insight into how they think.

We could say as a last resort that Ion is slightly better of than it first appeared, might be enough to start a conversation, but that is probably a little suicidal.

Qoios
2016-02-05, 02:32 PM
Oooh! I like the idea about learning the game. Definitely a good idea to become more familiar with the local customs and such.

Not so fond of the idea of using our powers furtively. The cost of getting caught seems far too high, right now. We need to prove their initially negative opinions of us wrong, not right.

As to characterizing our tone in the theoretical conversation with one of the Kings, I did not intend us to sound as declarative as I am about it. More of a bumbling bouquet with earnest overtones, an afraid-of-approaching-a-demigod-so-brazenly underbite, and a please-don't-incinerate-me aftertaste.

Xefas
2016-02-05, 02:35 PM
As such, I propose we ask the DtF whether any of the mental abilities (the ones in Choice 1) will allow us to do something like that, and what any side-effects might be (for us or King Ion).

'Projecting your mind wholesale into the mind of another, especially when you have a material body, is an advanced and esoteric capability. I do not know if you'll ever be able to do it, because I do not know the exact nature of how your power will develop, or how much potential you have. In any case, when you want something complex or powerful, you need to start with something basic and work towards it. In your case, trying to learn psychic projection right now is the equivalent of learning to smith a sword before you've learned what fire is.'


What will happen to King Ion if we don't do anything? It sounded like something will happen to him besides being unconscious and muttering stuff. Actually, I wonder if he might somehow become a follower of the DtF or something? Note to self: the answer to this one may not be trustworthy.

'I foresee four possibilities. In order of ascending likelihood: He puts his mind back together mostly correctly and wakes up and is sufficiently normal that King Eli doesn't roast you alive; His mind gives up entirely, his body shuts down, and he dies; His mind breaks further and he enters a kind of permanent vegetative state; He puts his mind back together wrong and wakes up and is consumed by what you would perceive as an otherworldly madness.'



You gain enough awareness to shroud your face in an illusory double of what you know your face to be. Then, the door is opened. A guard removes your restraints and leaves. Because your claws have already been seen by everyone, and have not been a cause for concern, you choose not to suddenly begin veiling them.

You immediately notice that everything is much clearer to you, visually speaking. You can still perceive darkness and shadow, but when you focus your gaze on, for example, a dark corner of the room, the blackness shifts to a kind of translucency, allowing you to see beyond it clearly. The otherwise dimly lit hallways of the complex hold no concealment to you.

You catch a servant - a young girl with short, frizzy brown hair; she reminds you a bit of Mila, with the addition of a few ridges of pale blue fish-like scales around her eyes and wrists. You ask her for some breakfast and a washbasin. She meets you back at your room, which you decide serves well enough as a home base. Despite being small and mostly unfurnished, it's a place no one is likely to randomly walk into, and affords you some relative privacy. When the servant girl turns to leave, you tell her to, "Wait."

You sit on the edge of your bed with the tray of food - some bread and fresh fruit - and beckon her to sit next to you. She doesn't.

"I've been told not to converse with you save for the provision of necessities." she says, the latter half of the sentence sounding like it was parroted directly.

"This is necessary. I need advice." you say, before tearing off a hunk of bread only slightly smaller than the full voluminous capacity of your mouth.

She looks at you apprehensively with her big brown eyes. "I don't think... that is to say, I could get in trouble. Giving advice to the prisoner was not one of my duties outlined-"

You interrupt her with a very loud and assertive series of words garbled around the mass of food in your mouth. You swallow and smack yourself in the chest a few times. "I'd wager..." you say, gulping in some air, "...one of your duties is to do whatever it takes to preserve your masters' lives should they be threatened." She thinks for a moment and nods, but still remains standing.

You put the food aside for a moment and clap a hand to your knee, maintaining eye contact. "Well, I'm here to fix King Ion. His life is in danger. Now, I know that you've been told that I was the one who hurt him in the first place, and while that's not true, you don't need to believe me in order to believe that I'm honestly doing my best. If only to save my own skin, if you need justification. So, for me to do my best, I need some information. Okay?"

"I..." she looks to tense up a bit, mulling it over, but after a moment, relaxes ever so slightly, "...I suppose that makes sense."

"Good." you say, "First I need information about how things work around here. I've never been to Ysyr before. I spoke to a woman named Ion Leda earlier. Is she related to King Ion somehow? Is that why their names are similar?"

She looks at you a little confused, as if she doesn't understand the question. After a few seconds, you think about reiterating it, but she eventually says, "Someone named Ion Leda - Leda is their name, Ion is the designation of their House. All Ysyri families belong to one of the Eight Houses. The King of each House is chosen from among the sorcerers that House produces, and reigns until their death. Then one of their House's Sorcerer-Princes is elevated to the position by consensus of the other seven Sorcerer-Kings."

That made sense to you. "So, there's not necessarily a direct blood relation among everyone in a House... I heard King Ion mention something about his brother? Could that have been one of the other Sorcerer-Kings? Could he have been talking about King Del?"

You see something fearful flash in her eyes when you mentioned King Del, but it is quickly gone. "...The Sorcerer-Kings... many of them live for hundreds of years. They grow attached to one another. I have heard them refer to one another as brother before. I do not presume to know the hearts of my kings, but I believe the King of Ion and King of Del were very close."

You nod. "Thank you. Um... miss? You can call me June, if you'd like."

"I... I think we're supposed to just refer to you as prisoner." she says.

You frown a bit. "...Right. But, if you wanted."

She takes a few steps towards the door, then turns and looks at you one more time. "I am Eae Tessa if you need anything later."



--You've succeeded in reading one of Eae Tessa's intimacies: Serve The Sorcerer Kings of Ysyr Faithfully Unto My Death.



Once you're alone again, you wash yourself as best you can in the little basin. There must have been a lot of blood.





As a follow up suggestion for our actions today:
> I propose that we find one of the Sorcerer-Kings, other than Eli, Del, or Ion, and try to get their attention. Once we have it, we use Mirage of Beshadowed Visage, directly in front of them, and in obvious ways. Then we stop utilizing it entirely, exposing our freaky claw-hands and spooky shadow-eyes, and make some demonstration of our Shadow Swiftness.

This might be construed as risky, so I'll put it to a vote.

Choice 1
>Use an obvious demonstration of my power to draw the interest of one of the Sorcerer Kings.
>Do not do that. (At least not yet.)

Xefas
2016-02-05, 03:37 PM
(edit: there is another update at the bottom of the previous page)

When you're done with your morning routine, you proceed into the throne room. King Eli is standing over a table, holding a croupier stick and maneuvering little battalions of wooden men around, his hair crackling softly. You notice that the surface of the table has changed since you last saw it; it has gone from a standard wood-grain to being a simple, slightly stylized map of Chalcedon's eastern coastline.

Kings Arc and Boe are still playing their card game. It doesn't look like any game you've ever seen before. For one, there's no money on the table, so it doesn't look like they're gambling. And they both have hands of cards, as well as stacks of cards on the table, and little sets of individual cards arrayed in some meaningful fashion, lined up against one another. The purpose of most games, as far as you know, is to be something simple that you can play in a gambling den while drunk or otherwise intoxicated. This doesn't seem simple.

You inch closer to them; they don't seem to notice you.

"Have you ever seen this game before, teacher?" you ask into your own head.

'...I believe that I have. It's Wizard Canasta. It was a game played by children in the Blood-Red Maiden of Chains' prefecture. They must have found a set when they settled here.'

"...and then I attune one Air Essence to imprint Tome Scour on my Panoptic Mirror..." You overhear King Arc say.

There's a moment of quiet, then a rumbling rattles up from King Boe's throat, and two of his arms flip the entire table over, scattering their contents onto the ground. "Grragh! Air is the ***** element!" he declares. Two servants come running and quickly begin resetting the table. The two kings remain seated, and wait for them to finish, then begin organizing their cards to play again.

The Darkness rolls its eyes. 'Please. Everyone knows Fire is the ***** element.'

You send an impression that you hope is the equivalent of staring at your soul-tenant is confusion. "Excuse me? I don't think I understand."

'The game revolves around the five elements of Creation, and each card represents a different facet of that element. Earth cards are tough, stable, passive, and defensive, weathering offense until it grows weary. Air cards are evasive, focused on circumvention and non-standard victory. Wood cards are weak at the low end, but their power grows quickly into large, single threats that then crush their opponent. Fire cards are rampantly destructive and chaotic, burning either themselves or their opponent out very quickly. Water cards are erosive and disintegrating, grinding an opponent's options down until they have nothing left. Water is obviously the best.' it says.

"You... know an awful lot about this for it being a children's game." you point out.

'Being a child doesn't automatically mean one has bad taste.'

Qoios
2016-02-05, 04:17 PM
Personal bias compels me to vote that June learn Exalted: the Gathering at some point. I agree with DtF, Water is best element. Air is a close second, though.

To DtF:
> What would be the proverbial "fire" to mind-melding's swordsmithing?

As for the latest choice, I think my vote is implied in the suggestion I gave.
> Time to live up to that supposed Fearlessness, and tell a Sorcerer-King (or perhaps several) that maybe, possibly, they are being a mite bit unreasonable with us.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-05, 05:39 PM
Wait... Spell-slinging monarchs with an inexplicable love of tabletop gaming? A dark-hearted god-king bound within our soul after we released it from an ancient, puzzle-like container? An impatient, arrogant king rendered comatose while searching for his brother? Children's card games!?

Well played, Xefas. Well played.

In other news: it seems we're currently gunning for the 'save Ion' route. I might be wrong there, but I'm in if we are. The hard part will be figuring out, well, what exactly we can do with our limited magic. My first thought is that of using our fresh new visual powers to take a look at Ion and see if there's any magical - stuff - floating around or inside of him. It's better than nothing.


Also, to DtF: what would be the proverbial "fire" to mind-melding's swordsmithing?

If I could take a stab at this?


Iron is a raw material. Fire is a transformative force. In smithing, the object is to use fire to transform iron into a more convenient shape and density. This is an oversimplification, but likely so is the following.
When entering someone's mind, I imagine the object is to isolate 'you' on a spiritual level, and project 'you' into their minds safely.
So if Iron is the 'noun' in smithing, 'you' are the 'noun' in psychic projection. If fire provides the 'verb' in smithing, then 'project' is the analogous verb for psychic invasion. We will doubtless need both to engage in brain-hopping.
This is to say nothing of the difficulties of opening the mind's defenses, akin to making sure not to ruin the metal or your tools. Or of making sure you can actually do things (and more importantly, control what things you do) while in their head, akin to actually fashioning the desired weapon instead of, say, a very well-smelted pile of ore.

So yeah. Looks absurdly difficult, possibly impossible for someone to fudge.

>Do not reveal your Mirage until you discover which of the Kings would find it interesting. Don't want to throw our ace too soon, that's all.
>Do not piss off a Sorcerer-King. Don't do it. No. Bad Juniper. At least, not until we have a better position than sentimentality and contrariness. They're royalty: people beg them for stuff, and it's their job to say no.

Eggel
2016-02-05, 05:43 PM
It's now or never

Use an obvious demonstration of my power to draw the interest of one of the Sorcerer Kings, and ...

I'm a bit confused as to what we are trying to do. Are we telling them about our powers? Or was that vetoed? Man, I have to start getting my head in the game

Tentreto
2016-02-05, 05:49 PM
Lets introduce ourselves to these kings and ask them if they have a spare water or water hybrid deck to play them. and hope DtF can actually play well. Might be a good way to introduce ourselves and actually show them there is a entity in our head.
Of course, asking DtF if he actually was any good.
This can help us being fearless, but also at least somewhat subtle. After all we do need all the facts...something we probably share with DtF.

If we end up playing a children's card game for our very soul, lets hope we can screw the rules...

Edit: This is kinda how I would reveal our powers: knowing about something that is very uncommon...hopefully.

Edit Edit: Did we actually say anything about DtF in our report?-if we did, fine, we elaborate. If not, we are probably screwed for the near future.

Qoios
2016-02-05, 06:01 PM
In other news: it seems we're currently gunning for the 'save Ion' route. I might be wrong there, but I'm in if we are. The hard part will be figuring out, well, what exactly we can do with our limited magic. My first thought is that of using our fresh new visual powers to take a look at Ion and see if there's any magical - stuff - floating around or inside of him. It's better than nothing.
I second this motion.


If I could take a stab at this?


Iron is a raw material. Fire is a transformative force. In smithing, the object is to use fire to transform iron into a more convenient shape and density. This is an oversimplification, but likely so is the following.
When entering someone's mind, I imagine the object is to isolate 'you' on a spiritual level, and project 'you' into their minds safely.
So if Iron is the 'noun' in smithing, 'you' are the 'noun' in psychic projection. If fire provides the 'verb' in smithing, then 'project' is the analogous verb for psychic invasion. We will doubtless need both to engage in brain-hopping.
This is to say nothing of the difficulties of opening the mind's defenses, akin to making sure not to ruin the metal or your tools. Or of making sure you can actually do things (and more importantly, control what things you do) while in their head, akin to actually fashioning the desired weapon instead of, say, a very well-smelted pile of ore.

So yeah. Looks absurdly difficult, possibly impossible for someone to fudge.
I wasn't asking for the metaphor to be explained. I understood all of this. What I was asking was what the first step towards learning to do things like this would be for us.


>Do not reveal your Mirage until you discover which of the Kings would find it interesting. Don't want to throw our ace too soon, that's all.
Agreed. It is a good plan, I think, but this is not quite the moment for it.


>Do not piss off a Sorcerer-King. Don't do it. No. Bad Juniper. At least, not until we have a better position than sentimentality and contrariness. They're royalty: people beg them for stuff, and it's their job to say no.
I didn't see sentimentality as a big factor, here. They are acting based on false assumptions (and in direct contrast to easily verifiable facts), and those assumptions/contradictions need to be corrected, or we are never going to be able to fix the King of Ion.


It's now or never

Use an obvious demonstration of my power to draw the interest of one of the Sorcerer Kings, and ...

I'm a bit confused as to what we are trying to do. Are we telling them about our powers? Or was that vetoed? Man, I have to start getting my head in the game
Yes, telling them. Not quite yet, but I strongly suggest we get their attention and level with them, as quickly as we can reasonably do so.

Lets introduce ourselves to these kings and ask them if they have a spare water or water hybrid deck to play them. and hope DtF can actually play well. Might be a good way to introduce ourselves and actually show them there is a entity in our head.
Of course, asking DtF if he actually was any good.
This can help us being fearless, but also at least somewhat subtle. After all we do need all the facts...something we probably share with DtF.

If we end up playing a children's card game for our very soul, lets hope we can screw the rules...

Edit: This is kinda how I would reveal our powers: knowing about something that is very uncommon...hopefully.
I feel like this is premature. We have no rapport with them, and this seems too irreverent for a first real encounter, and too far off topic and frivolous in the face of fixing Ion. They aren't treating us as worth dealing with on even a strictly professional level, yet. Skipping straight to playing games feels far too personal for us to initiate. Commenting on the game might be a good way to start some kind of conversation, though. If they ask us to play, we roll with it and try to wing it, though, I say.

Also, I'm not sure we should mention DtF. Our powers, yes, as soon as we feel like we have a read on who might be receptive to a conversation about what we need in order to fix Ion. But revealing DtF's existence feels dangerous. Not entirely sure why, but I feel like it'd lead quickly to bad stuff.

Eggel
2016-02-05, 06:08 PM
Lets introduce ourselves to these kings and ask them if they have a spare water or water hybrid deck to play them. and hope DtF can actually play well. Might be a good way to introduce ourselves and actually show them there is a entity in our head.



I'm seconding this motion. It isn't that awkward ,"How ya doin'?" or "Ya know, I kinda wanted to talk" phrase. This would also help us with learning more about the King.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-05, 07:38 PM
I wasn't asking for the metaphor to be explained. I understood all of this. What I was asking was what the first step towards learning to do things like this would be for us.

Would you believe that I didn't until I thought it over? It's not exactly a direct analogy. But that's fine. We're pretty much on the same page, hoping for Red-Eyes Black Dragon to give us a pointer in the right direction.

Asking to play the card game is hilarious and probably nonthreatening. Just don't make it look like we're shirking our duties. Even if it doesn't get us any points with them, the absurdity of it might get them to let slip something useful. Or at least something interesting to our patron, which may or may not be equivalent for our purposes.

Qoios
2016-02-05, 07:56 PM
Asking to play the card game is hilarious and probably nonthreatening. Just don't make it look like we're shirking our duties. Even if it doesn't get us any points with them, the absurdity of it might get them to let slip something useful. Or at least something interesting to our patron, which may or may not be equivalent for our purposes.

I maintain my stance that we should leverage DtF's knowledge of the game to make some comments regarding the game to test the waters, and perhaps catch their attention. If playing a game comes up, we try to leverage DtF's apparent enjoyment of the game as incentive for him to aid us in playing it well, or at least better than we otherwise could.

ImperatorV
2016-02-05, 11:28 PM
>Do not reveal powers.

I'd say we should ask the darkness to explain what's going on in the game, then watch for a while with his commentary. The Kings should eventually notice us watching and if they address us we can then talk about the game without it seeming forced.

Xefas
2016-02-06, 12:50 AM
You inch yourself closer and closer to the table until you can watch what's going on.

That's when you make your first important revelation. "I can't read any of these cards." you think at the Darkness, "Some of them have a lot of text."

'...Explain.' says the voice, with a wary tone that makes it sound like you're about to disappoint it again.

"They're written with what looks like those same old symbols from Boeth's ruins. I mean... I was around them long enough, I recognize a few, but-"

'You mean to tell me you don't speak Language?' interrupts your shadow.

"I... I speak a language." you say.

The voice sighs. 'But not The Language? The First Language? The Divine Language?' You're not sure what to say, and the Darkness takes your silence as assent. 'Well, we'll have to fix that with haste, then. Merciful Titans, I'm glad we converse in thought rather than word. Having to limit myself to your barbarian tongue would be maddening.'

You process that for a few seconds, but the notion is odd to you. "Am I not speaking Chalcedonian right now?"

'Of course not.' it says, 'You're not speaking. At all. Now quiet yourself and watch the game. You see, the green-haired one has just played only Counterspells for three turns in a row. ...You see? See that? And the large four-armed one is about to flip the table again. Mhm... mhm... There it goes. That is the essence of Air.'



"What is it, girl? Why do you harry us so?" says King Arc, after about forty-five minutes of you watching the two of them. "Have you not business with our bedridden brother to attend to?"

You clear your throat, having not actually spoken aloud in a while. "Forgiveness, Majesty. I couldn't help but be held captive by your wholesome and virile displays of grand strategy."

King Arc raises a thin green eyebrow, and strokes his weird mass of bouncy beard-curls. "...Go on."

"Your power to stall the enemy board state while collecting the pieces for one of your milling combos is most... efficacious." you say.

King Arc looks at you, and then he and King Boe share a look. Then King Arc returns his gaze to your own. "And what would a lowborn outsider know of a game for powerful wizards?"

You bow your head in humility. "Little, certainly, Majesty. I am ever and only a humble servant. I beg you forgive my fascinations."

King Arc nods, frowning in thought rather than displeasure, then grinning a tad. "Indeed. Very well, you may continue to survey if you wish."

"The well of your magnanimity is deep, Majesty." you say. King Arc shifts smugly in his seat, his hair bouncing lightly with every movement, and begins shuffling his cards for another game, after having suffered a defeat. "Ah, but, Majesty, perhaps..." you continue, "...Well, it is only that, as a servant, I am compelled to serve."

He narrows his eyes at you, though still with something of a grin, perhaps making his mind up about something. "Yes? Speak."

"It is only that I feel as if you might be more efficacious yet if you..." you begin.

'Splash some Water' offers the Darkness.

"...um... Splash some Water. As it were." You say, holding back all the awkwardness and sarcasm and smartassedness you can, having only contributed words to the current conversation that you, yourself, do not understand. It sounds dumb, honestly.

King Arc begins stroking his beard again, and spends a few seconds lost in thought. "Ridiculous." he says, finally. But then, after another moment, "...But go on."

"You are most gracious for entertaining my foolishness, Majesty. It is only - to my lowborn eyes - it would seem that a small reservoir of Water Essence would allow you access to..." you trail off.

'Tutoring effects.'

"...Tutoring effects. Yes. Is not the situation of having pieces of multiple different combos in one's hand most frustrating? A Diabolic Tutor might allow you to find the last piece of any set you require, regardless of which you've happened to draw into during the natural course of a given game."

King Arc looks increasingly more repulsed with the notion, his face twisted in disgust. "Filthy." he says. "...I like it. How came you this notion of a Diabolic Tutor?"

"It is... interesting you should ask, Majesty. Perhaps I could regale you the story over lunch." you say.



--You've achieved relationship neutrality with King Arc.

--You have filled King Boe with hatred and curiosity.

--You have a lunch date.



Choice 1
>I include The Darkness That Follows in my story.
>I decide to keep The Darkness That Follows a secret, as I've been doing.

And I also try to emphasize my...

Choice 2
>...pitiable situation. I'm a victim in all this. I'm weak and vulnerable and need help.
>...willingness to serve. As a citizen of Chalcedon, it's my duty to serve the Sorcerer-Kings.
>...potential value. I have strange powers and strange knowledge, and could be an asset.
>...indignance, after I make it clear the injustice that's been done. The Kings sort of owe me an explanation.

ImperatorV
2016-02-06, 02:03 AM
>I include The Darkness That Follows in my story.

Leaving him out will leave a lot of holes, particularly how we managed to incapacitate a Sorcerer-King by accident.

>...potential value. I have strange powers and strange knowledge, and could be an asset.

We definitely don't want to be indignant with the kings, but we don't want to seem like a weakling either. Our best bet for getting through to these guys is mutual benefit.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-06, 05:06 AM
>Keep The Darkness a secret for the moment, as we've been doing.
>...potential value. I have strange powers and strange knowledge, and could be an asset.

Yes! This is our chance to possibly get somewhere. If we can get them to think we're useful, then we have an in later when asking for help in lifting our family's curse. Some kind of exchange. I'm sure it would be better in theory if we left our benefactor out, but we simply don't have the Manipulation to make that work.
Don't screw this up, June.

backwaterj
2016-02-06, 05:26 AM
>I include The Darkness That Follows in my story.
It's going to come out sooner or later, might as well be now and of our own free will.

>...willingness to serve. As a citizen of Chalcedon, it's my duty to serve the Sorcerer-Kings.
I find it noteworthy that pandering seems to be our one workable social skill at the moment. Why mess with a good thing?

Qoios
2016-02-06, 09:13 AM
Uh-oh...

I'll serve as the voice of dissent, here:
>I decide to keep The Darkness That Follows a secret, as I've been doing.
These guys do not seem like the sorts who would take kindly to the presence of a mysterious, ancient, dark god-thing that we clearly cannot control, and who treats attacking nearby Sorcerer-Kings as a wholesome pastime.

I also disagree that his exclusion would create narrative holes. Worst comes to worst, we claim that along with our magical new body, our mind is being expanded with knowledge and skills we never had before. The instant KO on King Ion is easily explained as him having messed with an unidentified magic-thing (us), without any precautions, preparations, or knowledge of what he was messing with. Boom! No holes.

I am not saying that we should never, ever tell them about DtF, nor that we should flatly deny his existence. But our position is way too precarious to reveal something so potentially divisive. Eli might kill us on principle, and damn the consequences for Ion. Who knows?


As to Choice 2:
I want to say that we should go for a bit of all of these things in our conversation.

We are in a pretty pitiable position, really. Our whole world got wrecked by Fey, and when we came to plead aid from the Sorcerer Kings, we were attacked, then imprisoned before we could get a word in edgewise.

We are pretty willing to serve, if it means saving our family. We had nothing against the Sorcerer Kings, saw them as the lords of our land, and didn't come here with any illusions that they provide counter-curses for kicks. Feelings of duty-bound loyalty based on residency in their nation is a bit of an exaggeration, but the willingness to serve is probably authentic.

We could be darned useful, especially once we come into our own, and their support would likely aid our development massively. Like, seriously, we got this much power in a few days. Our explosive growth is pretty intense, and hopefully doesn't involve us actually exploding, despite DtF's initial assessment.

And, yeah, Kings Ion and Eli acted like total tools, made a lot of assumptions, and put us through hell, and we have no real clue as to why other than "They're royalty. Royals are like that." Which is malarkey. Their motivations for behaving how they do are almost certainly unrelated to their station. Their station (and personal power) simply enable them to behave that way with impunity, because they're the biggest, baddest dudes around. Outright indignation might be pushing it, but bafflement as to why we have been treated this way seems fairly reasonable.

If I must vote for one over the others, I'll go with:
>...potential value.

Oh, and this lunch date seems like the time to go about demonstrating some of our capabilities to King Arc. We're pitching ourselves on the powerful-new-asset angle, we need to sell that premise.

Thus:
>Use an obvious demonstration of my power to draw the interest of King Arc.

Eggel
2016-02-06, 10:36 AM
Include the Darkness That Follows in the story

It's better that we plan to tell them rather than have it spill out suddenly because of our abysmal social skills

Potential Value

If we (somehow) manage to earn respect from one of them, we could ask for a favor and cure our brothers.

Qoios
2016-02-06, 01:04 PM
I just don't understand. We talk constantly about doing ill-advised deceitful things that are likely to blow up in our faces, but we always end up following the safer path.

But Primordials forbid we withhold one piece of volatile information until we're more sure of how it'll play with this crowd. Nope. Instead, everyone cries "Spill it!" Like we're a romantic comedy protagonist considering revealing our love.

This is not the kind of thing you discuss with someone on your first date.
"What did you study in college?"
"What do you do for fun?"
"Do you have an unfathomable shadow-entity turning your soul into his bachelor pad?"

I hope I am wrong, but it looks like this portion of our fate is well and truly sealed.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-06, 04:47 PM
I just don't understand. We talk constantly about doing ill-advised deceitful things that are likely to blow up in our faces, but we always end up following the safer path.

In my defense, have you seen how bad she is with massaging storytelling? Seriously. Just because you can think does of how to jockey this right does not mean that Ms. June can.

That said, I kind of understand. It's... possible we won't screw this up. Vote changed.

ImperatorV
2016-02-06, 05:01 PM
You know... I think it'd make a better story if we kept TDTF a secret. We spend a lot of time trying to make sensible decisions, but I'm realizing we're here to be entertained. Changing my vote to >I decide to keep The Darkness That Follows a secret, as I've been doing.

Elenna
2016-02-06, 08:11 PM
>I decide to keep The Darkness That Follows a secret, as I've been doing.
Yeah, let's not tell them that we have an evil, mysterious, uber-powerful entity within us. That's not going to end well.

And I also try to emphasize my...
>...potential value. I have strange powers and strange knowledge, and could be an asset.

Qoios
2016-02-06, 11:47 PM
So, I am not artishly-inclined enough to do anything like this, and have little-to-no incentive to offer to anyone with such talents, but if anyone here feels like doing some art of our socially-inept heroine, I think that'd be just splendid.

Tentreto
2016-02-07, 02:57 PM
Exclude the darkness from our story
But add the corollary that if we are directly asked, we won't lie; we probably can't lie well anyway.

Though also make them realize that said darkness did save one of their cities from fay. They might not be totally prid quo pro, but at least it may temper them.
I have no true opinion on our approach.

Xefas
2016-02-07, 07:40 PM
King Arc's chambers have a lot more character than King Ion's. In pots and baskets, and hanging from suspended troughs, and climbing up the walls, are curling vines and spiraling tendrils and creeping, flowering plants of all kinds. It makes the room vibrantly green and natural feeling, along with the little lime-colored balls of light, maybe a little smaller than a fist, that float gentling across the upper half of the tall space.

The back half of the room is softly partitioned with a opaque green curtain, obscuring the actual sleeping quarters, but there is still more than enough space for you and he to have lunch with much to spare. As he'd lead you in, he'd explained that there was a formal dining area, but that it was a fairly lonely place for only two people.

Of course, it isn't just the two of you. While you sit on a plain chair, with a little wooden table to your side to hold food, King Arc is reclined on a cushioned couch, while a servant holds a tray in front of him dotingly, feeding him intermittently. You can hardly complain, though - there's more food here than you could possibly consume, even in two meals, with trays of vegetables and fruit and fish and some kind of baked dish with eggplants and goat-cheese. Your first instinct had been to shove as much as you can into yourself at the first opportunity, but every time you so much as reach for a fork or a plate, the voice in your head murmurs something about restraint, and you end up taking a tiny, demure bite.

In the corner of the partitioned area, an iguana sleeps, curling up on the floor like a dog, humming softly to itself in a way that you hadn't thought lizards could. That was the second clue you'd gotten that it might not be a normal iguana. The first clue was that, tail included, it was about twelve feet long. The third clue was its six legs; it'd taken you several minutes to notice that.



"...and now I'm here." you say, matter-of-factly. "Whatever happened to me in the ruins, its effects seem to be growing. I don't know what I'll wake up being able to do tomorrow, or the next day."

Unlike with your telling of the events to Ion Leda, you'd included the part about going into the ruins with Selino. It'd taken you some time to think of a way to make your being in Governor Basso's mansion sound innocent. Being a thief and a criminal wasn't something you were ready to admit. Neither was the monstrous ur-thing nesting in your brain.

The King doesn't say anything immediately, other than "...Interesting." and adjusts himself on the couch. Several minutes go by while you eat in silence, save for the constant hum of the iguana creature, which you actually find kind of soothing.

"I'm prepared to go forward on the notion that you are telling the truth." says King Arc, his face very serious, "But I would ask if you could show a demonstration of some kind?"

You stand from your seat, concentrate, and feel the light shifting of power across your skin. Your appearance shifts and changes to the best approximation you can muster of King Arc himself, black robe included. He doesn't seem shocked; just nods and remains serious. You exert more effort, and shift back to your eye-covering facade. Most of your spiritual power has been drained by the two activations. Then, you sit back down.

"Interesting." he says, and there's another long quiet.

Eventually, he snaps a finger and the servant with his food backs up a few spaces. Then, he sits up more straight on the couch, facing you very directly. "I would ask you do not judge King Ion too harshly. Your news must have shocked him to the core in two ways. In the first, it would mean we have all lost a brother, but he even more so. He and King Del were enthroned soon after one another. They mourned the death of their fathers together. They have ruled alongside one another. King Ion has scarcely known a world without his counterpart." He pauses, and perhaps there is some pain there behind his sober exterior, "In the second, it put freshly in his mind the succession problem we are currently facing."

King Arc runs a hand through his tendrily beard. "I believe that this counter-curse for your siblings is not only possible, but relatively straightforward. It will take time, but I would be willing to barter my time and expertise in exchange for two favors."

Hope surges from inside of you, and you can't help but smile. "Yes, Majesty. Of course."

He does not return the smile. "Firstly, you must never repeat to anyone that King Del has perished, or even the possibility that he might have. Should you tell your story to anyone else in Ysyr, you must obfuscate his true fate. I will have the two women that you spoke to previously apprehended and ensure their silence. ...You say that you spoke to King Eli about it and he did not believe you?"

You're a bit confused, but the request isn't exactly difficult. After all, in reality, you aren't certain of the King of Del's fate. Just... mostly certain. "I did. And he did not."

King Arc nods. "Likely willful ignorance on his part. He would rather deny any proof you give him than accept the reality of having to crown King Del's only heir." You consider prying on the matter, but decide it's not the time. You wait patiently for him to continue onto the second request. "Secondly..." he begins, but trails off. He thinks for a moment, then locks eyes with you. "I need you to understand the severity of the task I would ask of you. Once I speak, you must never repeat this to anyone outside of the Sorcerer-Kings. Should you do so, there will be consequences. For you, and your family, and everyone you've ever held dear."

He said it so smoothly, with such lack of malice, it took you a moment to realize it was a threat. You nod anyway. This might be your one and only path to lifting the curse, after all.

His stare bores with intensity into your own, but after a moment, he snaps his fingers again, and the servant that had been attending him leaves the room. After the door is closed, he waits another full minute before speaking. "...Ysyr has always been a city of wonder and mystery." he begins, wistfully, "Ever since its first Sorcerer-Kings were crowned, they have delved into its secrets, seeking power. Through its many vaults and complexes, its towers and dungeons, we have learned of the Blood-Red Maiden of Chains, who ruled here in antiquity; you claim to have already heard of her. She was a sorcerer so far beyond the scope of any king that has ever reigned here, that her least miracles make us all look like idiot-children. Her mastery of the cosmos and its precepts is something each of us strives towards in our own way, but we are ants climbing the steps of a giant."

King Arc pauses, and for a moment, he looks tired; old. Creases and lines appear in his darkly tanned face. "Her most inner sanctums within the city were so mightily warded, sorcerously, and by ingenious mundanity, that generations of centuries-old kings failed to penetrate them, even leaning on the work established by the kings before them. But, only a scant few decades ago, we made progress. The eight of us, working together, managed to unravel the last of the defenses surrounding the Maiden's personal study. What we found inside was..." he pauses, and sighs, "Its totality defies description. Especially to one who is not a sorcerer. But you need only know of the object your task centers around."

His eyes widen, as if he is envisioning the item of which he speaks, clearly as if it were before him. His eerie reverence, combined with your curiosity causes an increasingly strong knot in your stomach. "A book. Bound in bone and black leather. Its inscription read The Black Treatise."

Slowly, the knot in your stomach begins to seethe and bubble, like anxiety. You feel strange, lost - you're not sure why. You have no idea what he's talking about. But then the feeling turns to hot anger. You feel yourself becoming angry at nothing, just directionlessly furious at the world. You notice King Arc looking at you with a questioning eye, which jogs some sense into your mind, and you become aware that you're clenching the arms of your chair hard enough to have shredded the ends of them with your claws without meaning to.

You unclench them, and try to spirit away the sudden, pointless anger. It alleviates slightly.

When the King next speaks, it is with an odd, suspicious eye to you. "...Have you heard of it?"

You try to think fast. "No! No, of course not. ...Majesty. I'm just-" you breathe, trying not to think about mauling something, "-excitable, is all. Tense. I want to save my family."

He continues to look at you with the same odd expression for a few moments, but eventually relents, and continues, "Very well." he says, "...Well, we'd never seen anything like it. Never heard of anything like it." He takes his eyes off of you and stares into space. "Never... never imagined..."

After a time, he looks back at you, his gaze more soft, a melancholy grin on his face that looks like it might've just as easily been a weary sob. "Do you believe in evil, June?"

Choice 1
>I believe in greys. But there has to be a dark and a light to get those greys.
>Yes, but I believe that objective good and evil are beyond mortal minds to grasp.
>No, I believe in perspectives.

ImperatorV
2016-02-07, 08:44 PM
>I believe in greys. But there has to be a dark and a light to get those greys.

June as I've seen her definitely believes in good and evil, but she recognizes that not everything is that simple.

Eggel
2016-02-07, 09:13 PM
No, but I believe in perspectives

I was going to say that I believe in grays (because I do), but you can only see how dark or light one gray is if you compare it to another gray. All problems are based on different perspectives. I love philosophy

Also, if King Arc obviously states/implies about something evil in us, then we just tell him. We don't want to keep a secret from our closest possible ally.

Qoios
2016-02-07, 09:27 PM
No, but I believe in perspectives

I was going to say that I believe in grays (because I do), but you can only see how dark or light one gray is if you compare it to another gray. All problems are based on different perspectives. I love philosophy

As a fellow philosophy lover, I'd love to debate this one. However, as a lover of clarity, I feel compelled to first express my interpretation that the "grays" choice indicates a belief in moral complexity, but also in the existence of morality, whereas the "perspectives" choice indicates a disbelief in morality in its entirety.

Though they share many similarities, moral relativism and amorality are two distinct schools of thought.


Also, if King Arc obviously states/implies about something evil in us, then we just tell him. We don't want to keep a secret from our closest possible ally.

This I agree with. Furthermore, we should probably:
> Try to talk to DtF about why he/we are going all Teramach over this book.

Also: I think I will abstain from voting on this philosophical choice. I would rather see how others decide to calibrate June's moral GPS, and then do my best to uphold that paradigm in future votes.

Kymme
2016-02-07, 11:39 PM
>Yes.

We don't need to give him any more complex an answer. I think Pratchett said it best:


An old woman (who happens to be a witch) and a priest are sitting by the road having a conversation.

(The conversation starts on the classic subject of "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?")

"Sixteen!"
"You've counted sixteen?" said [the priest] eventually.
"No, but it is as good an answer as any you'll get. And that's what you holy men discuss is it?"
"Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin, for example."
"And what do they think? Against it, are they?"
"It is not as simple as that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray."
"Nope."
"Pardon?"
There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is."
"It's a lot more complicated than that--"
"No it ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth. People as things, that's where it starts."
"Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes-"
"But they Starts with thinking about people as things…"

Elenna
2016-02-08, 12:37 AM
>I believe in greys. But there has to be a dark and a light to get those greys.

THEChanger
2016-02-08, 03:06 AM
Given that the absolutely wonderful quote by Mister Pratchett has been introduced, I have a very deep need for June to mutter "People as things" under her breath. However, under the circumstances, I will cast my vote in the >Shades of Gray category. Hopefully the number of shades is not 50.

Jon0113
2016-02-08, 03:17 AM
shades of grey

Xefas
2016-02-08, 03:09 PM
You take a moment, ostensibly mulling over his question, though primarily forcing inner calm into yourself. "I believe in grays, Majesty." you say, "Although, philosophically, I suppose a dark and a light would have to exist to create the grays. Even if that absolute good and evil were purely conceptual."

"Ah. Then we are of one mind." His weak smile flickers off and on, "Save that I no longer believe that absolute evil is merely conceptual. This book was... power. Terrible power. It proposed, in exacting detail, a kind of sorcery - a perverse mirror, that was not a means to change the world, but to defile and destroy its spirit. The very spirit of the world. It was so grotesque... grotesque in ways you might not be able to conceive of, having never wielded the very fires of Creation in your hands, but... it was also tempting. It was so new and so unique. It offered a kind of advancement beyond anything our forebears had known. We knew that if we studied this tome, we could achieve things that they never could have." He places his hands together, pensively. "It was evil. And I am proud to say that, after days of deliberation, we stood united in our understanding of that. The eight kings decided unanimously to burn the book and never to speak of it again. But..." He pauses, and the silence is noticeably pained, "...when we returned to the study, the book was gone. Gone."

"And you think that someone stole it?" you offer.

"Not just someone." he says, "We eight were the only ones who knew its location. One of the Sorcerer-Kings took the book for himself."

"There must've been inquiries?"

His smile fades again. "Of course. Truth was sought, but not found. And its pursuit was beginning to drive a wedge between the Kings. Suspicion was drawing ever closer to a witch-hunt. It was best for the kingdom, at the time, to make a ruling amongst ourselves - that we would all agree that the book disappeared either of its own volition, as some quirk of its mystical nature, or that it was somehow stolen from beneath our vigil by an outsider. For many years we have been content with that as our chosen truth. There have been no signs of the book's evil surfacing in Ysyr."

Your synapses begin firing in troublesome new ways, putting two and two together. You become aware of only one last factor you need, one more number to balance the equation and get the X you'd really rather not know. "Until now." you say, not making it a question. He nods, wordlessly. You continue, "And... would the first signs of this evil have coincided with the Fair Folk's sudden aggression onto Chalcedon?"

He nods.

"Then... gods." you say, and add a few swears for effect, "Every child who grows up on Chalcedon knows that our corner of the Dreaming Sea borders the Wyld. And they know that it's only the will of the Sorcerer-Kings of Ysyr that guards us. We're told of the oaths you bound them with, the promises you drew from them out of fear of your power, to never step foot on Chalcedon's soil. But they didn't break the oaths, did they?. They're here because one of the Kings broke it for them. Or dissolved it. Or something."

He nods again. "Indeed. That is my thinking as well. It is a ploy, to draw our attention. To divide us so that we cannot bring the full force of our might and attention on discovering whatever their dark plans are. And... discovering who they are."

"And... King Del being assassinated..." you add, not really needing to finish the thought aloud.

"Perhaps related as well." he confirms.

You lean down and rub your palms on your forehead, thinking. Of course, there's one obvious question. "So, what do you want me to do about it? Uh, Majesty."

King Arc looks as if he's about to speak immediately, to answer you. But, instead, he gives you an expression of appraisal, and asks a question instead. "Why do you suppose we sit and play games while our kingdom burns on one side, and threatens to collapse at its heart?"

You stifle the smart-ass answer. And you think. And you think some more. "...You... don't want another witch-hunt?" you say, tentatively. "If the veil of calm is discarded, and the Kings all start accusing one another, it will be impossible to find the real traitor. It's exactly what they would want. So you have to act as if everything is business as usual, to keep everyone together. No overt moves."

He nods, and his weak smile gains some sincerity. "Very good. So you will investigate. You will find the traitor. I will offer what aid that I can, but nothing that could be connected to me directly. And if your investigation should be discovered... well, you are already held in suspicion. You are already hated. Your summary execution would not drive a wedge between us at all. And I will simply be forced to find a new angle."



You return to your room for some privacy and lay down on your little bed. Your irrational anger seems to have ebbed away. With an effort of will, you enter your mindscape.

It looks much as it had in its service as a classroom, though you notice that several of the desks, and the chalk-board have been smashed to pieces. Your doppelganger stands, arms crossed behind its back, looking absently out the window. You approach from behind.

"So it was you that was angry?" you ask.

The shadow nods. "It was. It is. I am."

"Why? ...and why could I feel it?"

The shadow is silent for a time, choosing its words. "In this world, there is no good and no evil. Your philosophy of grays is only a comfort you afford yourself to keep from having to cope with an arbitrary world filled with sorrow that has no ultimate meaning. ...It is a philosophy I would teach to others, to give them hope. My truths are not the kind that bring hope." It turns to face you directly. "But that man is correct. You must listen to him. What he discovered is evil. It should not be reasoned with or abided. What their hubris and indecision has created is called a Necromancer. I will help you find them, and when you find them, you must kill them without delay or decision. They must die, regardless of who they are."

You give the shadow a hard look, mystified at its behavior. If anything, you would expect it to be all about a dark reflection of sorcery. "Sure. That's the plan anyway, I suspect. But... that doesn't answer my other question. Why did I get all raar-smash?"

The shadow walks past you, raising a hand, and one of the broken desks begins to levitate and reassemble itself as he talks, "Are you familiar with the concept of the Hun and Po?" it asks.

"Yeah." you say, "It's a philosophical thing. The Hun is supposed to be the capacity for good in a human soul, and the Po is the capacity for evil."

The shadow moves on to the next broken desk, shaking its head in disappointment. "Not even remotely correct." it says, "The Hun and Po are real. But they are not morality. The Po is the part of your soul that contains instinct. It is the part of you that wants to eat, kill, and reproduce. It is concerned with self-preservation, fear, anger, and primal, sexual pleasure. It is connected to your three lower chakras. Currently, it is the part of your soul that I live in." With a wave of its hand, it sends the newly fixed chair arcing through the air, back to its rightful place. "The Hun is the higher soul, and governs higher ideals. Ideals like truth and love, art and logic. It is also grief and sadness and guilt. It is from where all your notions of morality come from, and it is connected to your higher four chakras."

"So, I felt your anger, because you live in the part of me that processes anger?" you interject.

The shadow turns to look at you. Maybe a little surprised. "...That is my belief." it says. "You haven't gotten any other feedback, because I have little to ever fear, I do not require food, and am primarily asexual. Simple, primal, animalistic rage is the only feeling you're likely to receive. Unless I was to expand to your Hun, in which case we would be more emotionally attuned."



You suggest that maybe...

Choice 1
>...that would be a good thing. In all but this single occasion, the Darkness has been placidly confident. Sardonically so, granted. And maybe easily annoyed. But I wouldn't mind some of that immortal confidence.
>...that wouldn't be such a good thing. I don't want to understand what lies in that dragon-shaped abyss. I think King Ion would agree with me on that.

THEChanger
2016-02-08, 03:34 PM
>...that wouldn't be a good thing. At least not right now.

We don't even really know what DtF is. It claims to have come from Hell, and to be a God, but as far as I'm aware, those two things are pretty exclusive. Unless Demons have Gods, in which case even worse. And every boon we gain makes us more...well, I don't know for sure, but it seems like every boon makes us more physically like it. Giving it access to our higher mental functions, while it is shaping us into a form that is more like its ideal...no. Bad idea. We are not going to become a host to the demon-god. Gotta hold onto that humanity as much as possible.

...Interesting that the being that's all about good and evil being petty mortal concepts with no truth behind them is so quick to condemn Necromancy as capital-E Evil.

Elenna
2016-02-08, 03:48 PM
Nice to see June starting to figure out this "intelligence" thing. :smallsmile:

As for the choice,
>...that wouldn't be such a good thing. I don't want to understand what lies in that dragon-shaped abyss.
Confidence notwithstanding, I don't like the idea of emotional feedback from a being of unknown power and dubious morality.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-08, 04:59 PM
Nice to see June starting to figure out this "intelligence" thing.

Would you believe she has above-average intelligence?

There's no rush, here. For the moment, no thanks. We haven't even opened all of our lower chakras. If it would later aid us in achieving power or information that we need for something or other, we might reconsider.

Eggel
2016-02-08, 05:17 PM
Not now. Probably later

Right now, I don't think we would be able to handle an omnipotent-esque being in our higher chakras with thought, since we barely understand how DtF affects us right now. We should just give it some time.

Also, who said that him moving into one of our other chakras is completely harmless? Or that we would retain our powers?

Kymme
2016-02-08, 05:20 PM
>...that wouldn't be such a good thing.

I don't really trust DtF whatsoever. We should endeavor to keep our thinking FAR from his viewpoint.

Xefas
2016-02-08, 06:44 PM
You give your shadow a concerned look. "That doesn't sound like it would be fun."

"Maybe, maybe not." it says, "I don't know what effects it would have on me. The nature of our relationship would have to change. And I don't know if you could handle the kind of power it would entail."

"What kind of power is that?" you ask, intrigued.

It Hmmms. "Did you notice how you felt drained after shifting your illusory appearance back and forth?" You nod in acknowledgement. "To make a metaphor, you've got the spiritual muscles of a god, and the spiritual veins and heart of a mortal. The strength you have is too big for your soul to support. No matter how much you exercise your spiritual might, even unto being able to move and act at the level of a demon or of a god, you will only ever be able to do so very briefly before the strain becomes too great and you exhaust your soul's reserves."

You look down at your hands and frown. "So, of course, you want to replace my mortal heart with something else."

"Not replace." it says, and its voice gains an oddly sentimental quality, "Never replace. More like... a second heart. Two hearts, beating together, working in unison to create something more than the sum of their parts."

You scratch your head, awkwardly. "That sounds... weirdly romantic. In a freakish, disconcerting way."

The shadow turns away from you and continues its repair-work. After a long pause, it mumbles, "Perhaps that is why it does not excite me."



The chalkboard in your brain now reads:


King Eli
-Short temper
-Specialty: Fire magic. Probably. (Is his head on fire voluntarily?)
-Jerk

King Eae
-Bit of a creeper
-Rumor is that a few of his servants have disappeared into his workshop and never returned. How long has this been going on?
-Specialty: Unknown
-All the S.K.s are super tall and buff. Except for him. Why?

King Aka
-???

King Boe
-Huge. Four Arms.
-Plays Earth in Wizard Canasta.
-Doesn't like me.
-Specialty: Unknown

King Dor
-The hot one
-Erymanthus tollmaster says he works with demons. Ion Leda says no.
-Ion Leda says he can cast some kind of semi-permanent Anti-Venereal Zone? Weird.
-Specialty: Unknown (Maybe sex or disease magic? Maybe both. Ugh.)


Your shadow creeps up behind you, soundlessly. Although, somehow you can feel that it's there. Perhaps a benefit of this being your head. "You don't want to leave physical notes, so you're writing it all down in here. Clever." it says. You give a non-committal "Mhm.", thinking. You're not sure where the Darkness goes when it's not in this room, but it seems to go somewhere because it's not always here.

"It's rather incomplete, though, isn't it?" it says.

You break your train of thought. "Well, of course. I haven't been on any fact-finding missions yet. I just wanted to write down everything I already know first."

"That's not what I meant." it says, "You're missing three kings."

You look at it, brow raised. "One is dead. One is dying. One hired me. I think we can write them off."

"Can you?" it asks, "Do you know what Necromancy is?"

You take a few steps back from the chalkboard and sit on the front of one of the desks. "Nothing except what I learned today. It's like sorcery, but... evil" you hesitate to say the word. "It sounds like something involving death."

"Not death." says the Darkness, seriously, "Undeath. The Underworld. Sorcery can do a lot; it can certainly kill. Death is natural. Necromancy is unnatural. It can do things you've never thought of. It can do things I've never thought of."

You look back at the Darkness soberly. Its distaste and dread seems honest. You step back up to the chalkboard and begin writing. "So, expect the unexpected." you say.


King Eli
-Short temper
-Specialty: Fire magic. Probably. (Is his head on fire voluntarily?)
-Jerk

King Eae
-Bit of a creeper
-Rumor is that a few of his servants have disappeared into his workshop and never returned. How long has this been going on?
-Specialty: Unknown
-All the S.K.s are super tall and buff. Except for him. Why?

King Aka
-???

King Boe
-Huge. Four Arms.
-Plays Earth in Wizard Canasta.
-Doesn't like me.
-Specialty: Unknown

King Dor
-The hot one
-Erymanthus tollmaster says he works with demons. Ion Leda says no.
-Ion Leda says he can cast some kind of semi-permanent Anti-Venereal Zone? Weird.
-Specialty: Unknown (Maybe sex or disease magic? Maybe both. Ugh.)

King Del
-Deceased (Cause of death: Overdose of Goblin)
-Bronze skin
-Summons Erymanthoi to do his bidding
-Specialty: Unknown (Probably demons)
-Has only one eligible heir, no one likes them

King Ion
-Incapacitated
-Big weird forehead gem (probably connecting to his Third Eye Chakra)
-Specialty: Mind Magic (probably)
-BFFs with King Del
-Jerk

King Arc
-"Hired" me
-Weird tendril hair
-Plant motif
-Does something with demons? (Demon iguana?)
-Specialty: Unknown (Probably plant related)
-Plays Air in Wizard Canasta
-Threatened my family




That night, you are restrained as normal, and freed in the morning. You awaken with new insight into the dark of others' minds.

--You've acquired a new supernatural power: The Heart's True Essence
This active ability allows you to use (Perception + Socialize), with a bonus, to discern a chosen target's most powerful intimacy by reading the invisible cloud of thought-essence floating around their heart and mind. This can be done at a distance, but the target must be within Short Range (close enough that you could talk to them). The target is not aware of your attempt, and is more susceptible if they believe they are alone, or are unconscious at the time. Failure can result in a false reading, no reading, or the target detecting the attempt to read the nature of their heart.

The only intimacies detected by this ability are negative. Hate, anger, fear, disgust, sociopathic disregard for the wellness of others, etc.



Today, I'm going to start by trying to find information about the King of...

Choice 1
>Eli
>Eae
>Boe
>Aka
>Dor

...and see where it goes from there.

Jon0113
2016-02-08, 07:10 PM
aka
Because any information is better than no information

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-08, 07:13 PM
It's okay Darkness-Kun, you don't need to be so tsundere. I understand you. :smallbiggrin:

Blind of other leads, looking into either Eae or Boe would be my first choice. Aka's also good, but we don't know anything about him. Would we even recognize him? If I had to choose...

>King Eae. Let's have the lecher be our dry run. It's not like he'll find a woman trying to talk him up weird, after all.

Eggel
2016-02-08, 09:27 PM
Eae

I have absolutely no recollection of that king. Who knows, he might turn out to be an ally.

Then again, we never see him. If we can't find him after half a day, then I'll look into Eli. We could understand more of why he hates our guts.

I'm slightly curious how King Ion is doing. Maybe he's not in a coma-thingy-whatever-you-call-it anymore.

Tentreto
2016-02-08, 09:46 PM
Eae

Eae currently seems to have on the surface a motive=being possibly weaker than the others, or at least more morally questionable.

Though I am very worried that Arc might be double bluffing us. Utterly arbitrarily of course. We probably should have done some kind of sense motive, just to read him better-this is the guy who essentially holds our life.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-08, 10:50 PM
Though I am very worried that Arc might be double bluffing us. Utterly arbitrarily of course. We probably should have done some kind of sense motive, just to read him better-this is the guy who essentially holds our life.

Pretty standard rule of detective fiction. You should suspect everyone, especially people who seem incapable of guilt. In this case, that's spread between Ion and Arc, as the victim and our employer, respectively.

Kymme
2016-02-09, 12:02 AM
>Eae

Why haven't we asked about who King Del's heir is, and why people don't like him? I feel like this is an important piece of information that we're missing.

He's probably the hot Solar.

ImperatorV
2016-02-09, 11:28 PM
>Aka

I dislike having no information.

backwaterj
2016-02-11, 05:56 PM
Writing in my vote for:

>Arc. As has been stated earlier, no one is above suspicion. If he's truly innocent, then we clear his name quickly. If he's not . . . well, we'll want to know that quickly as well.

Xefas
2016-02-11, 10:21 PM
You take a quick surveillance of the parts of the complex that you have access to. You cannot find King Eae. You consider waiting outside of the door that presumably leads to his private rooms, but an etiquette-related thought occurs to you and you instead make your way to a spot outside of King Arc's little botanical sanctum. Not long passes until he exits from it, and you politely bow and give your salutations. Once those are out of the way and you can begin the conversation proper, you ask-

"Is there a place around here to take a bath?" The closest thing you'd had to a wash in recent memory was... not so recent. "And, for the sake of appearing more trustworthy to the other Kings, maybe I could have these-" you jangle your manacles in illustration, "-taken off, Majesty." In truth, their range of motion wasn't terribly restrictive in day-to-day activity, but you wouldn't want to get into a fight wearing them, and they did make you look like a convict.

King Arc noticeably diverts his course in the hallway, and you follow. "Certainly." he says, "...To the first, that is. And I'll have a servant bring you some new clothes." You look down at yourself, and figure that's probably a good idea. "As for the second, I think being shackled presents the perfect impression to the other Kings. ...Nonthreatening. Servile, perhaps."



King Arc leads you through a series of corridors that had previously been barred to you, and down a gently spiraling staircase even further into the earth.

At the end of the staircase, the walls very noticeably change to more natural stone, though worked to a soft texture. You emerge into a vast, dark space, and immediately have the strange sensation that you're outside. What seems like a sky of bright stars float overhead in the black expanse, and you can hear the trickling of water, and feel moving air on your face and arms.

You focus your new eyes - a feat that is not quite reflexive yet - and the darkness shrinks away from your sight. You can see clearly the cavernous ceiling high above, punctuated by clusters of stalactites, and the strange inky fog that slinks across its surface, studded with points of light to emulate the stars. In front of you are two roughly oval-shaped pools of steaming water, one slightly raised and trickling into the other, itself fed by what looks like a man-made chute hidden in an alcove at the back of the cave. Each pool could fit dozens of people in it without feeling crowded. After only a short moment standing in the cave, you begin to perspire from the heat and the humid air.

"I'll be back in a moment." King Arc says, before turning and leaving back up the staircase.

After you hear his footsteps disappear, you begin walking the perimeter of one of the springs, slowly. "What do you suppose that is?" you ask of the Darkness, looking up at the strange thing on the ceiling. 'An enchantment of some kind. Made to look like Creation's night sky.' he replies, 'Look - you can see the constellation of The Shield.' You unfocus your new senses, and the room reverts to how it was intended to be seen - a serene expanse of darkness, the waters of its mysterious springs only faintly visible by the glinting of starlight. In this way, you can trace the light of the stars more easily, and you quickly pick out the circular pattern you recognize as The Shield.

After a few minutes of stargazing, you hear footsteps and a clink. Quickly, you turn your head back to the entrance and engage your eyes to their fullest once more. You see King Arc placing a key and some kind of folded clothing onto a bench near the entrance that you hadn't noticed on the way in, then turning and leaving. It occurs to you that he, in all likelihood, cannot see as you can in this room, and probably thought you were already bathing.

You make your way over to the bench, unlock your manacles, and slip your clothes off. Then you undo your long braid, step into one of the steaming pools, and do your best to clean weeks of travel off of yourself.

"Of all the perks of being royalty, I think I like this one the best so far." you remark, floating peacefully in the water, all of your muscles unwound in perfect harmony, your eyes half-closed and lost in the stars, "I didn't know things like this existed."

'They don't. Not around here, anyway.' the Darkness responds from your mind, 'The whole layout of the city makes me think the Maiden did some extensive geomantic rearranging when she was raising it out of the mountain. Probably pulled all the water-leylines for miles into this one area; that's why there are fresh wells every thirty feet in the city proper. Maybe... drag a fire-line from a nearby dormant volcano over here; instant private hot-spring. ...Well, certainly not instant. But you know what I mean.'

"I don't." you murmur absently through your haze of relaxation. "Not at all."



You're not sure how long you stayed in the spring, but eventually you decide that you're clean enough and remove yourself from it. Stepping over to the bench near the door, you make two discoveries.

One, the iron key to your manacles and the iron key you were using as an ornament at the end of your braid are remarkably similar.

Choice 1
>I re-manacle myself, but swap the keys, so I can free myself later if necessary.
>I don't bother putting the manacles back on. Nonthreatening and servile aren't things I like to appear as.



Two, you've been left a dress. A long, plain, brown dress. The fabric is simple and it's cut very modestly, showing nothing if worn properly. The front and back portions of its upper half are not sewn together, requiring that they by tied (or clasped; though you have none) around the shoulders to hold. It's something you could see any peasant housewife wearing anywhere on Chalcedon. There are also some sandals.

Your guest seems to notice your moment of hesitation as you begin pulling it on. 'Something wrong?' it says innocently.

Choice 2
>I'm not ready to be dressing like my mother. He could've given me something more stylish.
>It's not practical. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that at some point in the near future I might have to run or fight or something.
>It's obviously a joke at my expense. Oh, haha, look at she-hulk* wearing a dress.



*Not the words she'll literally use. Given the feats-of-strength table in the core rulebook, though, I think June prolly has professional-weightlifter muscles.

(Investigation will start in the next update. Someone off-forum pointed out that June probably reeks like a dead animal right now, so I had to fix that first.)

Eggel
2016-02-12, 11:15 AM
I swap the keys, but I don't re-manacle myself

If the Sorcerer Kings don't like the fact that we aren't manacled and they decide to redo it, we can still take them off if necessary

I'm not ready to be dressing like my mother. He could've given me something more stylish

Tentreto
2016-02-12, 11:57 AM
Don't swap keys and re-manacle
We need to remember that for us, escape is not very likely. We can't survive multiple sorcerers going after us if we antagonize them too much.
Also, it will be a little awkward if someone finds that the key to the manacles don't work... and we are terrible at lying.

It's not practical
We do want to be servile, but also distinct enough to be noticeable. Culturally, trousers may be out, but hopefully we could request, or at least alter the dress to make it suit our needs. Maybe we can mix and match/ If I remember, our clothes are stylish and practical, if dirty. If we still had the hat...

backwaterj
2016-02-12, 03:14 PM
Choice 1: >I re-manacle myself, but swap the keys, so I can free myself later if necessary.
If nothing else, it's an opportunity to test the kings' powers of mundane observation, which may be lacking.

Choice 2: >No, it's perfect. Thank you.
I think part of the point is to make it difficult to run or hide, and I don't think complaining to our main benefactor about something as inconsequential as clothes is wise.

VoodooPaladin
2016-02-12, 07:53 PM
>I re-manacle myself, but swap the keys, so I can free myself later if necessary.
>I'm not ready to be dressing like my mother. He could've given me something more stylish.


I think part of the point is to make it difficult to run or hide, and I don't think complaining to our main benefactor about something as inconsequential as clothes is wise.

I don't think we plan to tell King Arc our opinions on servant clothing. And I'm not really sure we could lie to The Darkness.