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Mister Tom
2016-11-06, 12:20 PM
# I get up as quietly as possible and edge step by step toward the cabin door, Finch at my side.

#I position myself between the Prince and his steward.


Not that it seems to matter...

"Never mind the lockpicks!" I snap to Finch, and take aim at the lock."]

quick, and maybe the noise will get some attention.

And finally...
#At this distance, the only weapon worth using is words. If I can taunt the steward sufficiently to make him forget himself... maybe Sherlock Garrett can get to him

pendell
2016-11-07, 10:20 PM
Well, Black_Socks, a good antagonist isn't going to just let us succeed, not so long as ze has any cards left to play. Just because we managed to save the prince -- I would expect our adversaries to make every possible effort to un-save him again, even if that means burning a priceless undercover asset. Even if we fail, we have at least exposed a Vlaski agent -- the steward -- whom they cannot use again.

In chess terms, we made an excellent move, and our opponent is now sacrificing pieces at a mad rate to try to salvage what's left of the game. That means we're doing well! But that doesn't mean victory is assured or that it's going to be cost free. In the games I play, it usually comes down to the king, one other piece, and two or three pawns at the end. All the rest are dead.

At any rate, our votes are:

130) # I get up as quietly as possible and edge step by step toward the cabin door, Finch at my side.

131) #"Never mind the lockpicks!" I snap to Finch, and take aim at the lock."

132) #I position myself between the Prince and his steward.

133) #At this distance, the only weapon worth using is words. If I can taunt the steward sufficiently to make him forget himself, he might give us an opening.

I'll play it through!

"I get up as quietly as possible and edge step by step toward the cabin door, Finch at my side."



Some enemy is in there with Woodward and the helpless Prince. How could he have possibly gotten aboard? Did he stow away somehow, or could he have somehow disguised himself as one of Woodward's operatives, or—horrific thought—is Woodward's organization compromised? That would explain how Madame Albescu knew to tidy up loose ends and flee.

You reach the cabin door and see—


Stealthy: 76 Quick: 24




—the Prince's steward.

His hand is plastered over Woodward's face and his head thrown back in a light-eater's feeding ecstasy.


We position ourselves between the prince and the steward.



The steward whips around. (Woodward collapses bonelessly at his feet.) One elegant, well-kept hand holds a large and very serious-looking pistol.

Which he jams into the back of the Crown Prince's skull.


Stealthy: 65 Quick: 35

I guess stepping in front of the Prince was not a stealthy move. That hurt.



Over there," he says softly, in a tone as rich and cloying as velvet, and motions you and Finch to join Woodward in the corner.

It's pretty much the only threat that would have induced you to comply. You and Finch both hesitate—then move where you are directed.

The steward reaches down with his free hand and uses a knife to sever the Prince's bonds. "Come, Your Royal Highness." The Prince shuffles mutely ahead of him out of the room, a white pawn herded by a black knight.

The key turns in the lock.

Almost before it is done turning, Finch has thrown himself at the door, fumbling the lockpicks out of his pocket.



We shoot out the lock!



It takes you only two tries to disable the lock by shooting it. (Hopefully the sound of gunshots will have the additional benefit of alerting the rest of Woodward's security.)


I certainly hope so.



Bursting out of the cabin, you see two pairs of legs belonging to the Prince and his servant–or, more accurately, to the steward and his prize–leaving the last step of the stairway for the boat deck.

The stairway is littered with the bodies of Woodward's operatives. Some appear to be injured, others merely somnolent. You wonder what was in that tea.

You emerge onto the boat deck to see the Crown Prince untying a lifeboat. The steward now holds his pistol pointing straight up. If he pierces the envelope, the ship will plummet into the sea. He probably intends to do just that, as soon as he and the Prince have disembarked. His eyes sweep the deck, the stairways, the shadowed corners. Every muscle in his body is tensed, ready to jump at whatever danger presents itself.

You have no more than an instant in which to choose a plan of attack. Never before have you played for such high stakes. The life of Mercia's Crown Prince hangs in the balance, and you have to get this right the first time.


At this distance, the only weapon worth using is words. If I can taunt the steward sufficiently to make him forget himself, he might give us an opening.



Finch catches the minute tilt of your head and correctly interprets it. There is really nothing half so valuable as a companion who knows you that well. He fades into the shadows, and you step out into the light.

You take a deep breath. If you have ever needed a silver tongue, it is now. You must distract the steward long enough for Finch to make his move.

"Not bad," you comment coolly. The Prince and the steward both jerk around to look at you, and the steward tenses, but you only fold your arms and tilt your head to one side, in the attitude of an instructor critiquing a student.

You explain kindly, "But another time, you'll want to pay closer attention to the details. You should have kept better track of the bottles. Your plan was undone by no more impressive an opponent than a dishonest dockhand—and you had no idea the wine was even loose in the city, did you?"

The steward's expression darkens.

Behind him, you see the shadows fracture and reform as Finch circles around.

You have to keep the steward's attention on you, no matter the cost.

"It's an amateur's mistake," you say, still kindly. "But I'm sure with a little practice you'll be able to achieve—"

With a snarl of fury, he drops his arm and fires. Not at the envelope. At you.


Uh-oh.



Fire explodes in your chest.


Ow ow ow ow ow



Your vision is blurred, blackening around the edges.

You can only just make out Finch struggling with the steward, trying to get the revolver away from him. The contest is patently uneven, since the steward is using the palm of his free hand to weaken Finch moment to moment.

Finch is gasping at the Prince to get clear, get away, but the Prince is in the thick of the fight, trying to pry the steward's hand from Finch's skin, trying to help overpower his traitorous servant.



Vote 134:
# I fumble for my revolver. I must have dropped it when I fell.

# I try to struggle to my feet. I can't do much to aid Finch and the Prince, but there must be something—

# I clear my throat and try to shout, try to join Finch in telling the Prince to run.


Unfortunately, all choices end the same way...



The attempt leaves you gasping, brilliant colors shooting through your vision. You fall back, almost sick to your stomach with the pain.

Finch collapses to hands and knees on the deck.

The steward levels his pistol at the heir to the throne.


Oh no... oh no...



Finch lurches upward, flinging himself at the steward in a clumsy tackle, and the shot goes wide. Finch uses momentum and gravity to slam the steward into the rail—and half over it, off-balance. He has gained control of the steward's pistol, has it jammed up against the man's breastbone.

But the steward's other hand fastens on the side of Finch's head, fingers tangled in your friend's hair and palm plastered to his skull.

You think Finch casts one look at you, but your vision is wavering too much to be able to read his face.


Great Heavens! No! Not Finch!



In the last instant before the paralysis of light-eating renders him utterly helpless, Finch forces his finger to press the trigger.

The sound of the shot rips through the night.

The universe seems to hold its breath.

And then Finch and the steward topple over the rail and fall, streaking toward the black water below like shooting stars.

You lapse into unconsciousness before you hear the splash.


:smalleek:



Even before you are able to force open your eyes, you know you have been moved to a hospital. The smells are unmistakable.

The sounds are muted, however.

When at last you drag your eyelids open, you discover this is because you have a private room. Grace sits in the chair beside your bed, looking gray and worn. "Oh, love," she whispers. "I thought I'd lost you."

You fumble for her hand.




Vote 135:
What name do you want to say first? Whose fate do you most urgently need to know?

#I croak out, "Finch?"—hoping against hope.

#I croak out, "The Prince? Is he—"

#I croak out, "Woodward?"



We will react and find out the answer to one of those three, then ...


Grace's eyes fill with tears. "John, I am so, so sorry."

Garrett Finch died a hero. That has to count for something. He gave his life to save the heir to the Empire, to save the Empire from what a light-eater ruler might have done.

He would have wanted his life to matter so much. He would have chosen this kind of death if he could have.

The thoughts are only so comforting.

Woodward drags himself in to see you, moving like an old man, bearing that particular white, drained look of one who has been a light-eater's plaything.

"The Prince is safe," he says. "And on the mend".

"That was…brilliant work, Watson. If you had not successfully distracted the steward, he would have killed Finch at once, and then he would have killed the heir to the throne and everyone else aboard. Finch would have died for nothing.

You and Finch between you saved the damned Empire. And…you have my deepest condolences."


That's good, but Finch's loss makes the victory taste like ashes in my mouth.




The doctors do not mince words: you are lucky to be alive.

You may expect to be bed-ridden for some time, and to walk with a cane for some time thereafter. Your lung capacity has been reduced, meaning your athletic ability has been temporarily compromised.

However, the doctors assure you that you will be able to train back to your former levels of ability easily enough once you have healed. (And indeed, you later discover that your skill has not diminished.)
Woodward's recovery goes more swiftly.

One day he comes to tell you, through gritted teeth, that the Crown Prince's steward had been in the
Royal Family's employ for six years. "At that time," Woodward says, "Henry Smythe-Hereford would have
been responsible for conducting the investigation into potential royal servants. He was killed in a
carriage accident two months after approving the steward. It was a very good accident, too…I never
suspected a thing." He slams a fist into the wall in a sudden burst of rage.




Vote 136:

#A similar burst of rage clouds my own vision.

#I am too tired to feel anything approaching anger.

#Oh. So that was it. I matter-of-factly watch the last puzzle piece snap into place.





Your audience with Her Imperial Majesty might as well be happening to someone else. Prime Minister Whitefield shakes your hand, but you can hardly feel his grip.

"The Crown Prince has recovered from his ordeal," the Empress tells you and Woodward. "He no longer suffers from unnatural compulsions nor craves the drug that caused them. Your service to Our family merits a Medal of Valor. Alas, that need for secrecy prevents Us from honoring you publicly."


...



You experience Finch's funeral as though from within a fog.

It is rather better attended than you would have expected. Everyone from the newspaper is there, as well as everyone from the police station and every member of Woodward's irregulars. A number of high-ranking officials and persons of importance cannot risk their presence, but send telegrams of condolence.

The casket is empty, attempts at recovering the bodies having proved absolutely hopeless.

Somewhere far beneath the green sea-foam will lie for all time the villain who almost turned the Crown Prince into a light-eater–and the hero who stopped him.

And your life somehow has to go on.



Yes, yes it does.

*Plays Amazing Grace on bagpipes*



Chapter 6

The air shakes with the shouts of the protesting crowd three streets over, and the ground shakes with the footsteps of the approaching mech. Even miniaturized to fit through Kingsford's old and twisting byways, a mech's footfall is still more than enough to make cobblestones tremble and people jerk around in fear.

You watch the metal giant stomp along the cross-street, steam pouring from its ears to join Kingsford's ever-present fog. It is on its way to support the constables who are attempting to restore order to the crowd in the park—the crowd shouting for Prime Minister Whitefield's resignation.

It is the year 1889, and Garrett Finch has been dead for twenty-two months.

The first fierceness of that grief has eased; it's less of a deafening waterfall roar these days, and more of constant rumbling subterranean river. The life of adventure you once led, first on the battlefield and then as Woodward's spy, seems to belong to some other universe than the one you currently inhabit.

Now you are a general practitioner with a quietly happy marriage and a small practice in the poorer part of Kingsford.

In fact, you are currently hurrying to the bedside of a protester hurt in the fracas in the park, in response to a plea for help brought by his young son.




Vote 137: Why are you hastening to this man's aid?

#His anger was justified. If Whitefield actually did authorize the recent violence in Loegria, the Prime Minister deserves to be removed from his post.

#It is unimportant how the injury was received. I am known as the doctor to whom anyone can go for help.

#A doctor's duty is to treat the patient in front of him, no matter his opinion on the patient's politics, and the patient's son came to me.

#I treat as many protesters as I can, so that I may encourage them to keep their approach nonviolent.

#I treat as many protesters as I can so that I know who they are. Someone has to keep track of these troublemakers.




Life must go on, I fear. Come back on Wednesday, 9 Nov, 5:30PM to treat this protestor and find out what's going on. In the meantime ... please excuse me, I wish to be alone for a bit .

...

FIIIIIINNNNCHHHH!


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-11-08, 06:57 AM
Disclaimer regarding my behaviour, both present and past: I may or may not be, to use the colloquial phrase, 'off their meds'

134)I clear my throat and try to shout, try to join Finch in telling the Prince to run.
Run, Forrest Finch, run!
135)I croak out, "Finch?"—hoping against hope.
Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinch!
136)I am too tired to feel anything approaching anger.
137)A doctor's duty is to treat the patient in front of him, no matter his opinion on the patient's politics, and the patient's son came to me.
Hippocratic Oath, line 6:
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know....

smuchmuch
2016-11-08, 08:06 AM
# I fumble for my revolver. I must have dropped it when I fell.

#I croak out, "Finch?"—hoping against hope.

#Oh. So that was it. I matter-of-factly watch the last puzzle piece snap into place.

#It is unimportant how the injury was received. I am known as the doctor to whom anyone can go for help.

Alandra
2016-11-08, 04:13 PM
Oh no. :smalleek:

# I fumble for my revolver. I must have dropped it when I fell.

#I croak out, "Finch?"—hoping against hope.

136)I am too tired to feel anything approaching anger.

#It is unimportant how the injury was received. I am known as the doctor to whom anyone can go for help.

Mister Tom
2016-11-08, 05:25 PM
# I fumble for my revolver. I must have dropped it when I fell.

#I croak out, "Finch?"—hoping against hope.

#Oh. So that was it. I matter-of-factly watch the last puzzle piece snap into place.

#A doctor's duty is to treat the patient in front of him, no matter his opinion on the patient's politics, and the patient's son came to me.

:smalleek:

pendell
2016-11-09, 10:21 PM
134)
# I fumble for my revolver. I must have dropped it when I fell.

135) I croak out, "Finch?"—hoping against hope.

136)

Too Tired 65
So that was it 19

137)
doctor's duty 22
unimportant 97

Let us proceed!

135) I croak out, "Finch?"—hoping against hope.

Alas, he is not here. I ... can't read through it all again.



Woodward's recovery goes more swiftly.

One day he comes to tell you, through gritted teeth, that the Crown Prince's steward had been in the Royal Family's employ for six years. "At that time," Woodward says, "Henry Smythe-Hereford would have been responsible for conducting the investigation into potential royal servants. He was killed in a carriage accident two months after approving the steward. It was a very good accident, too…I never suspected a thing." He slams a fist into the wall in a sudden burst of rage.


I am too tired to feel anything approaching anger.



The tiredness persists. Much of the world seems far away.

Your audience with Her Imperial Majesty might as well be happening to someone else. Prime Minister Whitefield shakes your hand, but you can hardly feel his grip.

"The Crown Prince has recovered from his ordeal," the Empress tells you and Woodward. "He no longer suffers from unnatural compulsions nor craves the drug that caused them. Your service to Our family merits a Medal of Valor. Alas, that need for secrecy prevents Us from honoring you publicly."


We .. push on



Chapter 6: Crossroads

The first fierceness of that grief has eased; it's less of a deafening waterfall roar these days, and more of constant rumbling subterranean river. The life of adventure you once led, first on the battlefield and then as Woodward's spy, seems to belong to some other universe than the one you currently inhabit. Now you are a general practitioner with a quietly happy marriage and a small practice in the poorer part of Kingsford.

In fact, you are currently hurrying to the bedside of a protester hurt in the fracas in the park, in response to a plea for help brought by his young son.


It is unimportant how the injury was received. I am known as the doctor to whom anyone can go for help.



Anyone can, and everyone does. Respectable shopkeepers and anything-but-respectable members of the oldest profession. Confirmed Rationalists and those whose sympathies tend toward sun-worship. Agitators hurt in demonstrations in the park and police constables hurt in the same confrontations.

Usually the protesters you treat have been agitating for better working conditions—improved child labor laws, or a day off per week, something like that—but since the Loegrian photographs were published in one of Kingsford's less well-known newspapers three days ago, the demonstrations have become more violent.


Compassionate: 64 Pragmatic: 36



Last month, the Loegrian Day of Remembrance was marked by demonstrations, rioting, and looting in Dunleitir. The Day of Remembrance honors those who died in the horrific famine two generations ago—the famine some say was made worse by mismanagement from Kingsford—and so civil unrest on Remembrance Day is not uncommon.

But this year the Loegrian Viceroy ended it by sending mechs stampeding through the streets of Dunleitir, leaving men, women, and children crushed beneath their feet or pierced by their bullets. You might think the eyewitness accounts inflated, were it not for the photographs.

Rumor has it the Daily Yell obtained the photographs from the group that calls itself Free Mercia, and that Free Mercia managed to steal them from the home of the government functionary to whom they had been entrusted, the burglars getting away clean except for the bullet wound one took in the shoulder.



Vote 138:

# I am certain Free Mercia is not telling the entire story. For the moment I am reserving judgment, because I cannot know what other provocation may have occurred in Dunleitir that day.

# I felt sick when I looked at the pictures. Every Mercian should be ashamed of this. But I can't believe Prime Minister Whitefield authorized it.

# When I saw the photographs, a sense of betrayal hit me like a punch to the gut. The Viceroy could only have done this with Her Imperial Majesty's—and therefore Woodward's—knowledge and consent. What has become of the Empire I served?


After you react to that, let's have a look at our patient.



The protester, Tom O'Brien, is suffering from a mild fever and reddened swelling of his shoulder.

He didn't receive that wound today in the park. It's a few days old at least.

You think of the burglar who was shot in the shoulder as he escaped with the photographs.

He sees you notice, and looks up with challenge in his fever-bright eyes.




Vote 138:

#I say nothing. I don't want to know how he was injured.

#I say nothing. If he was the man who stole the photographs, he did Mercia a service.

#I accuse him of being the man who stole the photographs.

#I say, "Thank you," and let him interpret it as he will.





By the time you finish treating the protester, the crowd in the park has dispersed, leaving a sullen sort of quiet in its wake. They had their fun, Kingsford's implacable equilibrium seems to say, and now it is time for us all to be done with that nonsense and go home for tea.

It is the last day of summer in the year 1889, and nothing disturbs you as you start to walk your evening rounds.

You see the usual collection of ailments. An injured laborer who is not yet healed enough to return to work, but has no choice. A woman expecting her first child and experiencing some complications, who ought to spend the rest of her pregnancy in bed, but cannot afford to give up her factory job. Children with rickets, who might be easily cured with a healthier diet and life in clear country air, and you might as well propose their parents learn to fly.

By far the worst is a woman of about thirty-five in the last stages of phosphorus poisoning. The flesh along her jawbone has largely rotted away, and dead bone is visible beneath. Earlier in the course of the disease, you might have saved her by putting her under chloroform and surgically removing her jawbone, but she refused the operation. You understand a friend brought one of the Juniper Street healers to see her, but she likewise refused healing. Now there is nothing anyone can do; she will die in agony. All you can do is prescribe laudanum to ease her pain.


A poor man's life is not an 'appy one. Oh no.



At home, Grace is waiting for you. She'll have had similar experiences today, walking her own rounds with Mrs. Anstruther's nursing band. Talking with her is always the best part of the day.




Vote 139: How do you feel?

#Philosophical. My work now is not as exciting as it once was, but all lives have their phases.

#Glad I can be of use to the people of Kingsford. Grief for Finch aside, this is the ever-after I wanted.

#Depressed by the depth of the need and my inability to do anything meaningful to meet it.

#Worried about the tensions simmering beneath the surface of the East End.

#I really just feel numb.

#Far in the back of my mind, something is screaming to be let out to do something real. I ignore it.






As you reach the small house that adjoins your practice, the last of the light fades, closing the last day of summer.

The first day of autumn begins abruptly, with a frantic knocking on your door. It is little Tommy O'Brien, the lad who came to fetch you yesterday for his father the injured laborer. He says his father is worse than he was yesterday. Fearfully ill.

You try to ask for more detail as you follow the child, but he cannot provide any. He only keeps repeating "fearfully ill." You notice that there seems to be something amiss in other households you pass—a sense of disorder and agitation—but you haven't time now to investigate.

Your patient is, as his son said, fearfully ill, and with something more ominous than fever from an infected injury. When you enter the room, Tom O'Brien is curled up on his pallet, knees drawn up to chest and arms wrapped around them, groaning. He is surrounded by evidence that he has been vomiting uncontrollably for hours; the stench in the little room is terrible.

You turn him over, and his skin is clammy under your hand. His face looks waxen, his eyes sunken and glassy. You get him to drink a little water, but he vomits it up almost at once—in gushes, as though the water overflows his mouth.

You were already harboring a hideous suspicion, but that sight removes all doubt. That particular type of vomiting is characteristic of only one illness.

Cholera.



Cholera. Oh Sh--


Vote 140: What do you do first?

#I must get him to the charity ward at the hospital. There is no cure for cholera, but the quality of the nursing matters a great deal.

#I must discover where he has spent the last few days, where he could have contracted this. If the source of the infection is not found promptly, Kingsford could be facing an epidemic.

#Before any of this, I look for a place to wash my hands—but there is nothing adequate, of course, not in so poor a hovel.


Uh-oh. Cholera. I hope it's an isolated case. If not we're going to be very, very busy.

Come back Friday, 11 Nov, 2016, 5:30PM and make sure you scrub down! Cholera is no joke.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-11-10, 02:01 AM
Y'know i'd really like to se Finch body before mourning him, not saying him "dying" all of a sudden sound like the perfect cover for him going tinto deep cover but....
Hey, denial and barganing are a perfectly normal part of the process !

# I felt sick when I looked at the pictures. Every Mercian should be ashamed of this. But I can't believe Prime Minister Whitefield authorized it.

I don't think "betrayal" work all that well, I mean we've felt it comming even in haracter for a long while now.

As for free Mercia no telling the whole truth. Well yeah, pobably, still doesn't excuse the stomping that ensued.

#I say nothing. If he was the man who stole the photographs, he did Mercia a service.

Did he ?
But we're probably not feeling very charitable to the Mercia gvernement right now, (especialy Woodward)

#Worried about the tensions simmering beneath the surface of the East End.

I think we should rightfully be.
Depressed at our powerlesness or numb would be good second choices too.


#I must get him to the charity ward at the hospital. There is no cure for cholera, but the quality of the nursing matters a great deal.

#I must discover where he has spent the last few days, where he could have contracted this. If the source of the infection is not found promptly, Kingsford could be facing an epidemic.

#Before any of this, I look for a place to wash my hands—but there is nothing adequate, of course, not in so poor a hovel.

... Er.. all three ?
Why is that even a choice, if feels all three actiosn should be done in turn. Wash your end, ask where he's been those last few days, adress hm to the ward.

Mister Tom
2016-11-10, 02:50 PM
Y'know i'd really like to se Finch body before mourning him, not saying him "dying" all of a sudden sound like the perfect cover for him going tinto deep cover but....

Ridiculous. A Sherlock Holmes expy falling to his apparent death locked in mortal combat near a large body of water and turning up out of the blue years later? :smalltongue

# I felt sick when I looked at the pictures. Every Mercian should be ashamed of this. But I can't believe Prime Minister Whitefield authorized it.

I can believe it- but who knows?

#I say Thankyou.

Never hurts to be polite :-)

#Far in the back of my mind, Something is screaming to be let out .

I think we know what it is.

#I must discover where he has spent the last few days.

This is probably cheating, in that !steampunkera! me might not know enough about cholera to know this. But someone needs to find the contamination source and shut it down, priority one-indeed I want to find it so I know where I can safely wash my hands.

Black Socks
2016-11-10, 04:26 PM
Re: Finch's ?death?- Bonus points if he was on a mission during the time he was ?dead?.

'Crossroads'. I have the strangest feeling something important will happen in this chapter....

138)When I saw the photographs, a sense of betrayal hit me like a punch to the gut. The Viceroy could only have done this with Her Imperial Majesty's—and therefore Woodward's—knowledge and consent. What has become of the Empire I served?
Police using deadly force against protestors, with authorization from high government officials. That's another box on the Police State Checklist.
139)I say nothing. If he was the man who stole the photographs, he did Mercia a service.
Well, he did.
This was accidentally labeled as 138, with the following two also mislabelled as a result.
140)Worried about the tensions simmering beneath the surface of the East End.
To paraphrase a famous announcer:
"They're getting ready to rumblllllllllllllle!"
And we're right in the middle of the ring.
141)I must discover where he has spent the last few days, where he could have contracted this. If the source of the infection is not found promptly, Kingsford could be facing an epidemic.
Son of a b....each ball. Beach ball. Yeah.

*Goes off to wash hands. With dish soap. Six times.*

Alandra
2016-11-11, 05:17 PM
Lets hope that the story is following the original in this case. I liked Finch.

#I felt sick when I looked at the pictures. Every Mercian should be ashamed of this. But I can't believe Prime Minister Whitefield authorized it.

At least we can't be sure that he did, and I think it's a bit soon to jump to the conclusion that everyone knew about this.

#I say, "Thank you," and let him interpret it as he will.

#Depressed by the depth of the need and my inability to do anything meaningful to meet it.

And, probably:

#I must discover where he has spent the last few days, where he could have contracted this. If the source of the infection is not found promptly, Kingsford could be facing an epidemic.

We really need to do all three, or at least wash our hands and find out where he has been. Do we need to do more than ask him? If yes, we definitely need to wash our hands before we go and find the source, but if we are just supposed to ask him, washing our hands beforehand would be a waste of time.

pendell
2016-11-12, 12:44 AM
Sorry I missed deadline by 20 minutes, guys. It's been busy!

The vote are:

138) #I felt sick when I looked at the pictures. Every Mercian should be ashamed of this. But I can't believe Prime Minister Whitefield authorized it.

139) Say nothing 85
say "thank you" 14

140) #Worried about the tensions simmering beneath the surface of the East End.

141) #I must discover where he has spent the last few days, where he could have contracted this. If the source of the infection is not found promptly, Kingsford could be facing an epidemic.

Regarding 141 -- of course we're going to do all three, but which do we do first? What is our reaction? That tells us something about the character, perhaps.

Playing it out.

I felt sick when I looked at the pictures. Every Mercian should be ashamed of this. But I can't believe Prime Minister Whitefield authorized it.



It wouldn't be the first time a subordinate exceeded his orders, to be sure. It's easier to believe that than to believe the orders came from Kingsford.


Compassionate: 69 Pragmatic: 31
Conventional: 58 Unconventional: 42



he protester, Tom O'Brien, is suffering from a mild fever and reddened swelling of his shoulder.

He didn't receive that wound today in the park. It's a few days old at least.

You think of the burglar who was shot in the shoulder as he escaped with the photographs.

He sees you notice, and looks up with challenge in his fever-bright ey


I say nothing. If he is the one who took the pictures, he did Mercia a service.



By the time you finish treating the protester, the crowd in the park has dispersed, leaving a sullen sort of quiet in its wake. They had their fun, Kingsford's implacable equilibrium seems to say, and now it is time for us all to be done with that nonsense and go home for tea.

It is the last day of summer in the year 1889, and nothing disturbs you as you start to walk your evening rounds.


Conventional: 50 Unconventional: 50



You see the usual collection of ailments among your relatively-wealthier patients, the shopkeepers and such. Mrs. Robertson's children are recovering from measles. They will recover faster in clean country air, and she promises she will send them to stay with a farmer cousin in the north. Old Mr. Pollack has a recurring digestive complaint, but is responding well to the dietary changes you prescribed. Mrs. Smith, the tavern-keeper's wife, is expecting her first child and experiencing some complications, but when you speak with her husband, he promises to engage a maid so that she may spend the rest of her pregnancy in bed.

It is a peaceful enough set of evening rounds. A peaceful enough existence.

At home, Grace is waiting for you. She'll have had similar experiences today, walking her own rounds with Mrs. Anstruther's nursing band. Talking with her is always the best part of the day.



We're worried about the tensions in the East End.



As you reach the small house that adjoins your practice, the last of the light fades, closing the last day of summer.

The first day of autumn begins abruptly, with a frantic knocking on your door. It is little Tommy O'Brien, the lad who came to fetch you yesterday for his father the injured laborer. He says his father is worse than he was yesterday. Fearfully ill.

You try to ask for more detail as you follow the child, but he cannot provide any. He only keeps repeating "fearfully ill." You notice that there seems to be something amiss in other households you pass—a sense of disorder and agitation—but you haven't time now to investigate.

Your patient is, as his son said, fearfully ill, and with something more ominous than fever from an infected injury. When you enter the room, Tom O'Brien is curled up on his pallet, knees drawn up to chest and arms wrapped around them, groaning. He is surrounded by evidence that he has been vomiting uncontrollably for hours; the stench in the little room is terrible.

You turn him over, and his skin is clammy under your hand. His face looks waxen, his eyes sunken and glassy. You get him to drink a little water, but he vomits it up almost at once—in gushes, as though the water overflows his mouth.

You were already harboring a hideous suspicion, but that sight removes all doubt. That particular type of vomiting is characteristic of only one illness.

Cholera.


The first thing we need to do is discover where he's been.



"Lad," you say at once, "can you tell me where your father—"

You are interrupted.

"Dr. Watson?" You know that voice. You look over to the doorway to see a patient of yours, Mrs. Jill Symond—called "Mrs" out of courtesy; you don't believe she was ever married to any of her children's fathers.

"I thought it was you going by," she says. Her face is drawn with worry. "I came to say could you call upon Jemima Burke when you've finished here? I've just come from her—she's fearfully ill."

You feel as though you have swallowed ice.

"And her two eldest with her," Jill adds.

Within the hour, it becomes clear that cholera is abroad in the East End.


Fudge. Four cases. This is not looking good at all.



The disease sweeps like fire through the ramshackle rooming houses. One hundred and twenty-seven people die in the first three days. Among them are Tom O'Brien and his seven-year-old son, and Mrs. Burke and all five of her children.

Whole houses are rendered uninhabited, their former denizens lying dead in their own filth, in tenement after crowded one-room tenement.

"It's a curse," one of your patients moans. Her name is Maggie Wimple, and you know her slightly; she came to you once for the treatment of a hand she injured in Merrill's factory. She is not yet twenty, yesterday she was widowed, and you do not hold out much hope for her small daughter's survival. "It's got to be. Nothin' natural comes on like this. Those folk at that temple down Juniper Street—"


Ah, because nothing is better in an epidemic than hatred, mistrust, and fear of the Other.


Vote 142:

# "I know what it looks like, but cholera is caused by drinking contaminated water."

# "No, no. The healers in the temple are good people, and even if they could do you harm, they would not."

# "I can see why you would think it a curse, but it isn't. Cholera really does act this way."



After we encourage her, the story continues.



It's been known for years that cholera is caused by drinking contaminated water—but you are forced to admit you understand why the uneducated call it "something unnatural."

If there ever were a disease caused by unnatural means, cholera would surely be it. Sometimes its symptoms are so mild that the victim can go for days without realizing he is infected (and thereby accidentally spread the contagion), and sometimes it hits so hard and so fast that the victim dies within the day.

You arrive home to find Jed Baker and David Brown both pacing up and down your consulting room. Jed has been your patient since the business with the wine two years ago, but you haven't seen David since he was a witness to the Merrill Steelworks bombing.

"My brother and his wife—" David begins.

"My wife and the baby—" Jed overlaps him.

Grace appears in the doorway. Judging from her attire, she is newly-returned from her rounds with Mrs. Anstruther. She looks anguished and exhausted.

Before you can say a word, Jill Symond appears at the window. "Doctor, my daughter—"



Vote 143: What are you going to do?

#I go with David. His brother's household is a few streets over from the bulk of the cholera cases. If the disease has traveled that far, I need to know.

#I go with Jed. Babies are particularly susceptible to death from cholera complications and only the best of nursing can save them, so I need to be sure Baker and his wife know what to do.

#I go with Jill. She's been trying to help all her afflicted neighbors, and now she needs help herself.



It goes without saying that the ones we don't see are at increased risk.




You do what you can for the household, making sure those inhabitants still well understand what they must do to nurse those who are ill.

You visit another four households after that.

By the time you drag yourself home once more—well after dark—you are so weary you can hardly put one foot in front of the other. Every doctor in the area is in a similar state of exhaustion, and the charity wards at the hospitals are filled to overflowing.

Grace enters the sitting room a few minutes after you do, dropping limply into her usual chair without even removing her bonnet and gloves. She lets her head fall back and closes her eyes.






Vote 144: What do you say to her?

#"Did you lose any today?"

#"You should rest, love."

#"I am coming to understand why they call it a curse."





There must be something you can do.

But what? There is no cure. All any doctor can do is treat the symptoms and hope for the best. When the source of the contaminated water is discovered, steps can at least be taken to ensure there are no new cases, but even then—

For the first time, you wonder who is creating the map of cholera cases that will suggest the source of the contagion. Probably someone working for the Royal Medical Society or for one of the large hospitals in the better part of Kingsford…

…and none of those people are here on the front lines. They won't have all the information they need.

Moreover, the doctors who are here working among the ill are, in large part, indifferently trained. Some of them still subscribe to the idea that crowded living conditions or unhealthful air can spontaneously produce cases of cholera. Others no doubt believe the admittedly-not-completely-disproven theory that cholera can spread through the air. They won't be looking for a common source of contaminated water.

The doctors with the information haven't the training to interpret it, and the doctors with the training do not have the information.

If anyone is going to pinpoint the source of the contamination, it looks like it will have to be you.


Okay, so we have a plan: Find the source of the contamination.



You realize you face a choice. Outside your door, people are suffering and dying right now. They need your medical skill, right now.



Vote 144: Dare you turn your attention away from their needs to grapple with the overall problem?

#Yes. Determining the origin of the contagion will save the most lives overall. I devote all my attention to the larger problem.

#No, I can't ignore the smaller pictures for the sake of the larger one. I go and do a full day's work among those suffering, then sit down at night to solve the larger problem.


#I try to split the difference. I work half-days among those currently ill, then retreat home to focus on solving the larger problem.


So. The problem is: The sooner we can make our map, the sooner we can cut this monster off at the source and prevent more cases, which will save a lot of lives. But the more time we spend on this, the more people who are suffering from the illness now will die. We can save some lives by treating them ... but the more time we spend on this, the longer it will take to complete that map.

Gut check time, guys. What's the solution? Whom are you going to kill, so that you can save others?

This is a tough decision. I'll be waiting for your decision on Monday, 14 Nov, 5:30 PM

See you then, doctors!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-11-12, 03:19 AM
Well, after what happened with Finch, This is just what I needed to cheer me up.

# "I can see why you would think it a curse, but it isn't. Cholera really does act this way."


And then get some mapmaking done. Which isnt going to make us many friends locally, that's for sure.


#I go with David. His brother's household is a few streets over from the bulk of the cholera cases. If the disease has traveled that far, I need to know.

I am coming to understand why they call it a curse.


#Yes. Determining the origin of the contagion will save the most lives overall. I devote all my attention to the larger problem.

Black Socks
2016-11-12, 09:02 AM
Ok, here's my strategy.
We need to focus on the bigger problem. This means devoting all our time to finding the source. Every minute we waste on individual cases means more lives are lost.
So....
142)"I know what it looks like, but cholera is caused by drinking contaminated water."
143)I go with David. His brother's household is a few streets over from the bulk of the cholera cases. If the disease has traveled that far, I need to know.
144)"You should rest, love."
145)Yes. Determining the origin of the contagion will save the most lives overall. I devote all my attention to the larger problem.
Greater good, Watson. Greater good.

smuchmuch
2016-11-13, 07:12 AM
Actualy, given the circumstances, particulary the brewing tensions, there is something to be said for taking care of the smaller problem. Namely as folks will increasingly be deseperate and willing to ressort to violence being known as "the doctor who saved or at least was there to atempt saving my family" will soon be a very valuable thing as it does bring asmall measure of protection.
(I've known white people who served in ***** that never had a problem going in places where being white meant normaly good chances of being robed, muged or worse, and that was probably in no small part due to the fact they were known doctors and nurses at the local hospital who admintred vacines to children. World spreads)

142)"I know what it looks like, but cholera is caused by drinking contaminated water."

143)I go with David. His brother's household is a few streets over from the bulk of the cholera cases. If the disease has traveled that far, I need to know.

I am coming to understand why they call it a curse.

#I try to split the difference. I work half-days among those currently ill, then retreat home to focus on solving the larger problem.

Alandra
2016-11-14, 05:25 PM
We need to save as many lives as possible.

#"I can see why you would think it a curse, but it isn't. Cholera really does act this way."

#I go with David. His brother's household is a few streets over from the bulk of the cholera cases. If the disease has traveled that far, I need to know.

#I am coming to understand why they call it a curse.

# Yes. Determining the origin of the contagion will save the most lives overall. I devote all my attention to the larger problem.

pendell
2016-11-14, 10:03 PM
All right. Our choices are:

142) "I can see why you would think it a curse, but it isn't. Cholera really does act this way." 96

142)"I know what it looks like, but cholera is caused by drinking contaminated water." 4

143) I go with David. His brother's household is a few streets over from the bulk of the cholera cases. If the disease has traveled that far, I need to know.

144) I am coming to understand why they call it a curse.

145) Yes. Determining the origin of the contagion will save the most lives overall. I devote all my attention to the larger problem.

Let's get to it! To the operating room, stat!

""I can see why you would think it a curse, but it isn't. Cholera really does act this way." "



She looks at you suspiciously. "How can you know? No, Doctor, it's a curse. My mam always told me light-eaters could do awful things. Four babies she lost to cradle-death, and that's light-eaters too. And this—" She gestures. "This is nothin' natural."

It's been known for years that cholera is caused by drinking contaminated water—but you are forced to admit you understand why the uneducated call it "something unnatural."

If there ever were a disease caused by unnatural means, cholera would surely be it. Sometimes its symptoms are so mild that the victim can go for days without realizing he is infected (and thereby accidentally spread the contagion), and sometimes it hits so hard and so fast that the victim dies within the day.



It's hard to believe nature can be so vicious, but it is.



You arrive home to find Jed Baker and David Brown both pacing up and down your consulting room. Jed has been your patient since the business with the wine two years ago, but you haven't seen David since he was a witness to the Merrill Steelworks bombing.

"My brother and his wife—" David begins.

"My wife and the baby—" Jed overlaps him.

Grace appears in the doorway. Judging from her attire, she is newly-returned from her rounds with Mrs. Anstruther. She looks anguished and exhausted.

Before you can say a word, Jill Symond appears at the window. "Doctor, my daughter—"


I go with David. His brother's household is a few streets over from the bulk of the cholera cases. If the disease has traveled that far, I need to know.



"But my son—" Jed says.

"But my daughter—" Jill says.

"Don't worry," Grace says to Jill. "I can come with you and help with your daughter's care."

"And I will call upon you as soon as I am through at the Brown home," you reassure Jed.


Compassionate: 59 Pragmatic: 41



The Brown household is indeed suffering from cholera.

You do what you can for the household, making sure those inhabitants still well understand what they must do to nurse those who are ill.

You visit another four households after that.

By the time you drag yourself home once more—well after dark—you are so weary you can hardly put one foot in front of the other. Every doctor in the area is in a similar state of exhaustion, and the charity wards at the hospitals are filled to overflowing.

Grace enters the sitting room a few minutes after you do, dropping limply into her usual chair without even removing her bonnet and gloves. She lets her head fall back and closes her eyes.


"I am coming to understand why they call it a curse."



She opens suddenly angry eyes. "Cholera is an illness, and we can do something about it. There has to be something more we can do about it. We know what causes it, we ought to be able to— There has to be something more we can do."

"We know what causes it, but there is no cure," you remind her, though she knows this as well as you do. "All we can do is hold the line and treat the symptoms until the source is discovered."

"How long will that take?"

"No doubt it is underway even now," you say. "Someone working for the Royal Medical Society or one of the big hospitals in the West End knows how to map cholera cases and determine a common source of contagion. Although…" you say slowly, thinking about it for the first time,"…they're not here. I doubt they know where all the cases are clustered. And the doctors who are here are too focused on treating symptoms to think of doing the analysis themselves. Some of them likely still subscribe to the idea that crowded living conditions can spontaneously produce cases of cholera, or that cholera can spread through the air. They won't be looking for a common source of contaminated water."

You and Grace look at each other.


Conventional: 43 Unconventional: 57



"The doctors with the information haven't the training to interpret it, and the doctors with the training do not have the information," she says. "If the source of the contaminated water is to be found…John, I think it's up to us."

You realize you face a choice. Outside your door, people are suffering and dying right now. They need your medical skill, right now. Dare you turn your attention away from their needs to grapple with the overall problem?


"Yes. Determining the origin of the contagion will save the most lives overall. I devote all my attention to the larger problem."



The following morning, you close your shutters, instruct the maid to tell all callers you are not at home, and sit down with paper and pencils. You begin to map the known cases of cholera with the date of onset noted, hoping some commonality will emerge among the earliest cases. Grace reviews your case notes and adds her own to your pile.

All morning, you hear the downstairs bell ringing and the maid's voice turning away caller after desperate caller. You can hear a little of the conversations—but my mother has fallen ill, but my father is in such pain, but my child is dying; I don't know what to do; please tell the doctor as soon as he returns; please.



Vote 146:

A) I do my best not to listen. The best thing I can do for all of them is complete this map as quickly as possible.

B) I throw down my pen, gather my supplies, and go help the people who need help. I can return to the map when my day's work is done.

C) I gather supplies and go help the people who need help. Just for the morning—I can't spare any more time than that from the map.


And we have a follow up vote if you choose 146A:


Vote 146A: (if A in 146 is chosen) :

Shortly after midday, you hear a voice you recognize: Jed Baker. "But the baby—we don't know what to do. Please tell the doctor. Please."

#The odds of the baby surviving are low in any case, and there is little I can do to improve them. To benefit the greatest number of people, I have to finish the map.

#I throw down my pen, gather my supplies, and go with Jed. If there's even a chance I can help the baby, I have to try.



...

:smallfrown:
...

I know this is hard, but make your decisions. Are you really going to stick with the map through all this?

I need to know for the story to continue. Not only because of the branching, but because your choices here may open up other paths further down.

Godspeed, folks. I'll see you Wednesday, 16 Nov, 5:30PM . Let's lick this cholera!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-11-15, 09:45 AM
C) I gather supplies and go help the people who need help. Just for the morning—I can't spare any more time than that from the map

Already given my reason for that choice, will continue supporting it.
Besides even if we find the source if the contagion, we can't do much if we can't convine people to stop drinking (or eating, contminated fod is also a vector) from it.

#The odds of the baby surviving are low in any case, and there is little I can do to improve them. To benefit the greatest number of people, I have to finish the map.

... hurtfull choice there.

Mister Tom
2016-11-15, 01:28 PM
A) I do my best not to listen. The best thing I can do for all of them is complete this map as quickly as possible.

And in case Of follow up, yes I'm sure. I'm not the hero the east end wants, but...

Alandra
2016-11-15, 06:39 PM
C) I gather supplies and go help the people who need help. Just for the morning—I can't spare any more time than that from the map.

It just seems too cold blooded to turn everyone away. Maybe we will even learn something useful?

In case of a follow up vote:

#I throw down my pen, gather my supplies, and go with Jed. If there's even a chance I can help the baby, I have to try.

Black Socks
2016-11-16, 04:44 PM
Greater good.

146) I do my best not to listen. The best thing I can do for all of them is complete this map as quickly as possible.
146A)The odds of the baby surviving are low in any case, and there is little I can do to improve them. To benefit the greatest number of people, I have to finish the map.
Sorry, Jed.

pendell
2016-11-16, 10:45 PM
We have two votes for the kind option and two votes for the pragmatic option which might save more lives in the long run. Rolling:

Help patients in the morning - 30
Do your best to ignore them - 77

Then Jed comes around for the baby -
And we have three votes to press on any way. It will break our heart, but there are other babies who need our help also.

What we doest, let us do quickly.

" I do my best not to listen. The best thing I can do for all of them is complete this map as quickly as possible."



Shortly after midday, you hear a voice you recognize: Jed Baker. "But the baby—we don't know what to do. Please tell the doctor. Please."


"The odds of the baby surviving are low in any case, and there is little I can do to improve them. To benefit the greatest number of people, I have to finish the map."



You continue with your work.

"It's the right thing to do," Grace whispers, but it looks as though she is fighting the impulse to go downstairs and accompany Jed back home.


Compassionate: 38 Pragmatic: 62

This has come at a great cost to us personally; I hope it is worth it.



You wake to the news that the death toll is currently somewhere about 177. And that the three-month-old son of Jed and Helen Baker is among them. As is Maggie Wimple's daughter.

The tensions that always run beneath the surface of the East End are bubbling over. There were riots last night. They began when a lone healer was attacked by a grief-stricken widower who claimed the healers were spreading the disease, and ended with armed altercations between Loegrian-born and Mercian-born East Enders.

But you and Grace between you have completed a map showing clusters of cholera cases and the date of onset of each. It is an extraordinary achievement for one day's work.


Well done. That will definitely help. What shall we do with it?



You study it eagerly, looking for a clue to the start of the outbreak.

The largest concentration of cases, both initial and later, is situated in the three streets surrounding the Broad Street water pump. That suggests the pump is at fault, but does not prove it, since there are smaller but still significant concentrations on Norris Street and Dearborn Street. You frown at those.

You are still missing some of the information you need to make an accurate diagnosis. Only by interviewing the people affected can you close the gaps.



Vote 147:

# Grace and I between us have a sufficient rapport with the people who live in the affected areas. We set out together to acquire the information.

# I'm not sure they'll all talk to me. But Alexandra Townsend owes me a favor. I ask for her help in acquiring the data.

# I'm not sure they'll all talk to me. I ask Christopher Taggart for help in acquiring the data.




Well, it's a good thing we didn't shoot Townsend and send the heavy mob in to raid Taggart's temple, isn't it? They'd probably be a lot less inclined to help us.

*If* one or the other will talk to you, you can probably save some time in acquiring the additional information, especially if they have their own respective networks of people to pound the pavement with you, and that means you can end the epidemic that much faster.

Of the two, you must decide who is most likely to aid you. Bear in mind that Taggert is a healer also, and will probably be doing a very similar job to yours among the Loegrian-born people of the East End. That means that if he's collecting information, he won't be healing people, and that will increase the death toll.

What are you going to do? Let me know on Friday, 18 Nov, 2016, 5:30PM. I think I can see light at the end of the tunnel! Don't give up!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-11-17, 01:37 PM
Well, we saw that one coming. Responsibility is a terrible thing sometimes...

But this seems simpler; we need a lot of legwork done by those who are trusted in the midst of an east end cholera epidemic, and I've just made myself persona non grata.

So # I'm not sure they'll all talk to me. But Alexandra Townsend owes me a favor. I ask for her help in acquiring the data.

smuchmuch
2016-11-17, 04:01 PM
Told you keeping a good rapport with people would come up. That said i wouldn't go as far as say we made ourselves 'persona non grata', it's been but a single day, at least nothing indicate yet that things have gone that far.

# I'm not sure they'll all talk to me. I ask Christopher Taggart for help in acquiring the data.



...Do we even know how to contact Townsend ? I mean i'm gonna guess a known thief and rebel isn't exactly easy to get a hang on.. particulary for someone who worked for Woodward.
besides taggart being ahealer is more likely to do the job better.

Alandra
2016-11-17, 05:28 PM
I don't think those people will talk to Taggart, we have already heard that a lot of them blame the sun worshippers for the Cholera outbreak. And if Townsend is listed as an option, we must have a way to contact her. The O'Briens, for example; if he stole that picture for Free Mercia, he must be one of them. Even if he is to ill to be of help, he's got friends and family, at least one of them must know a way to contact her.

# I'm not sure they'll all talk to me. But Alexandra Townsend owes me a favor. I ask for her help in acquiring the data.

Black Socks
2016-11-18, 11:15 AM
So, with all that 'map > people' stuff, we're probably not the best choice to gather info. And neither is the sun-worshippers, who people think made this 'curse'.
But remember those tensions boiling in the East End? Those anti-government feelings?
Who do we know that's a member of an anti-government group?
Why, good ol' Alexandra!
147)I'm not sure they'll all talk to me. But Alexandra Townsend owes me a favor. I ask for her help in acquiring the data.

pendell
2016-11-18, 05:59 PM
147)I'm not sure they'll all talk to me. But Alexandra Townsend owes me a favor. I ask for her help in acquiring the data.

Hrm ... I hadn't thought until after I put up my post that the Mercian-born East Enders (Endians?) blamed sun-worshippers for spreading the disease. It's a question whether he'd be able to get answers -- or if he'd spark a riot.

Let's see what Townsend will do for us.



You get a message to her via a patient whom you are fairly certain is involved in Free Mercia, and within a few hours a ragged old woman totters into your surgery. She watches you out of suspicious rheumy eyes until the maid has closed the door behind her. Then the old woman straightens and addresses you with Alexandra Townsend's unmistakable voice. "Good afternoon, Doctor. I understand you wished to speak with me?"

She has a hand in the pocket of her skirt, no doubt resting upon the concealed pistol she will draw if you attempt to capture her, but her tone of voice is curious rather than aggressive.


Hrm, we're going to have to handle this a little carefully, but we're not with the police any more.



Alexandra nods with approval when you explain why you have sought her out. "Of course I'll help." She cranes to look at your map. "What is it you need?"

"I need to know where all the earliest cases got their water. I need to know where the unaffected, or those not affected until much later, got theirs. Start with the names on the map, but there may be gaps I don't know about…"

Alexandra nods. "I can get that information for you."

It only takes her a day to fill in your gaps. Twenty more people die that day—but at least, you tell yourself when you sit down to add Alexandra's information to your map, you've almost arrived at a solution.


Excellent! I believe we've almost got this licked!



Once again, you eagerly scan the map.

With the new data added, the solution at once leaps to the eye. All of the initial cases, and many of the subsequent ones, arose among those who drank water from the Broad Street pump.

You lean back. So that's it. You have it.

You know how the city can be saved from this epidemic. You can stop this.




Vote 148: To whom do you take this information?

# Woodward, of course.

# I'm not sure I can trust Woodward to slice through government bureaucracy fast enough—and each day's delay means more death. I inform Alexandra Townsend, instead.

# Woodward has never made the downtrodden of Kingsford his priority–why would he now? I inform Alexandra Townsend, instead.

# I'm not sure I can trust Woodward to slice through government bureaucracy fast enough—and each day's delay means more death. I inform Christopher Taggart, instead.

#Woodward has never made the downtrodden of Kingsford his priority–why would he now? I inform Christopher Taggart, instead.



It's time to finish this. Who is going to be able to solve this problem most quickly and most effectively? And, if we go with either Townsend or Taggert, the *reason* we choose them will impact our stats.

Make a good choice. Let's kill this epidemic! -- on Monday, 21 Nov, 2016, 5:30 PM

ETA: Please cast a secondary vote as well in case the first choice isn't able to help, so as to save time.

Also, I should note that Friday is Black Friday in the US, a holiday for many and a shopping day for many others. Shall we meet on that day?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-11-19, 10:44 AM
Choice 1; Woodward of course.

Let's give him the chance to do some good around these parts.

Choice 2 ( implied)

Woodward has never made the downtrodden his priority...
I inform Alexandra Townsend, instead.


As for Black Friday, it's not a holiday over here, so up to others

Black Socks
2016-11-19, 03:44 PM
148)I'm not sure I can trust Woodward to slice through government bureaucracy fast enough—and each day's delay means more death. I inform Alexandra Townsend, instead.
While I believe Woodward would want to help, I think the red tape would slow him down significantly. Alexandra, on the other hand.... if she can get information, she can give it out.
148 secondary)Woodward, of course.
Since the people think Taggart and the sun-worshippers brought this 'curse', something tells me the people wouldn't listen to him.

Black Friday isn't as much of a thing up here in Canada, eh, so I'm in favour of proceeding as normal.

pendell
2016-11-21, 07:25 PM
Very well, we'll have an update on Friday. Black Friday isn't a holiday per se, but it is the first shopping day of the holiday season, in which we celebrate the season of peace by trampling one another to death (http://blackfridaydeathcount.com/).

Sort of like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, only with people instead of cattle.

Speaking of cattle, I should probably mention that I was thrown from a horse on Saturday and have been in a great deal of pain for days. I seem to be recovering, but I may be forced to absent myself if something unexpected comes up. Hopefully not, though.

All right, let's do the primary first.

Woodward - 21
Townsend - 35

Looks like we're going to see Alexandra. How will this go?



She looks down at the map, then up at your face. "You're sure?"

"I'm sure."

"Then I'll take care of it." She lets out a breath. "Thank you."

"It won't solve the problem immediately," you tell her. "There will still be new cases in the poorest homes where it is not possible to be careful enough when washing linen, and among those who drank the contaminated water but have not yet displayed symptoms—"

"But the worst is over," Alexandra interrupts. "You've cut off its head. Thank you."

In the early hours of the morning, the Broad Street pump is mysteriously vandalized.


Huh. I guess that even terrorists have their upside -- they don't have anywhere near the red tape a government has, and be quite ruthless at accomplishing a mission -- when they aren't hampered by useless ideology or fanatical ideas, which they usually are.

So ... did we do it?



The number of new cases reported each day begins to drop from that moment. Something like 197 people have died already, and there are more deaths to come—but the end is within sight, if not yet within reach. Because of you.

You saved all those who would have contracted the disease tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.

It is a damned good day.

"We did it," Grace murmurs as the two of you fall asleep. "My hero."


Achievement unlocked: Primum Non Nocere: Lost fewer than 200 lives to the cholera epidemic

Congratulations. Now that it's over I can tell you, since I have access to the source code.



So if you take a day off to do the map, 50 people die, including Jed's baby.

If you do a full day's work, you save 30 out of each day's 50, but it takes you three days to get a full map. 60 people die, including Jed's baby and Maggie Wimple's daughter.

If you try to split the difference, you save 15 each day, but it takes you two days to get to a full map. 70 people die, including Jed's baby, Maggie Wimple's daughter, and Frank Brown's wife.


So from the standpoint of lives lost, putting everything into the map, as heart-wrenching as it was, was the correct thing to do, saving the most lives by shortening the epidemic.

Sometimes the right thing to do isn't what the heart would wish. And it cost us; our compassion score has dropped significantly, and for the first time in a very long time our pragmatism score is higher than our compassion. Saving those lives has cost Dr. Watson a piece of his soul.

And there's not a dang thing we could have done to save Jed's baby in any case.

But we did -- we did! -- end the epidemic with the minimum lives lost. So congratulations! It's a day to feel very good about yourself.

Enjoy that happy glow for a few minutes before we move on to the next session.

Ready? Okay, here we go.



That night, you wake suddenly from an exhausted sleep. The room around you is dark and silent, no frantic knocking on the door below. For a moment you can't think what disturbed your rest, and then you hear the whimper beside you.

"John?" Grace says in a frightened whisper.

Before you can answer, she stumbles out of bed and runs for the lavatory.

And the bottom drops out of the world.


Uh-oh.



"I thought it had been long enough," she whispers, between bouts of vomiting. "I thought I was safe. I…I had a bit to drink from the Broad Street pump, the day before the outbreaks started. I didn't tell you because I…didn't want to worry you when I felt perfectly well."

You try to calm your own breathing.




Vote 149:

# All will be well. There isn't a cure, but nursing matters a great deal, and I know what I'm doing. It will be fine. It will.

# I am gripped by rage at those who should have been properly maintaining the pump and the nearby cesspool.

# I find myself wishing I believed in some higher power to pray to.


There's nothing we can do to affect that tonight, so we continue on to the next day.



Over the next twelve hours, her attacks increase in frequency and violence.


Vote 149:
A) I take her to the hospital.


B) I send to the hospital, asking my colleagues for assistance.

C) I send to Dr. and Mrs. Anstruther, asking for assistance.

D) I go myself to the Sun Temple on Juniper Street, asking Taggart's assistance.

E) No one's assistance will make a difference. I know how to nurse a cholera case.



We have a followup on Vote 149D, if that option is chosen:



Or, at least, you plan to. But when you tell Grace where you are going, she flatly refuses to have a healer enter her house or lay hands on her. You try to reason with her, but she says she is shocked that you would even consider it. You've never seen her this angry.



#I abandon the plan. Grace has the right to refuse or accept treatment as she sees fit.

#I abandon the plan. Grace is becoming so agitated that it is better I let the matter drop.

#Grace can be as angry at me as she likes—later, after she is well. I go for Taggart despite her protests.



First Finch, now Grace?

:smalleek::smallfrown::smallfurious:

Heather Albano, do you KNOW what you're doing to this character? Hasn't Watson had enough?

:Sigh:

In any event, what Taggert does is so close to magic it makes near enough no difference. But Grace doesn't want him and there's a chance he'll be drained from ministering to patients already. It goes without saying that the hospitals and the other doctors also have their hands full cleaning up the rest of the epidemic.

So what do you think? Can we save Grace's life? Make your best choice, and I'll see you on Wednesday, 23 Feb, 2016, 5:30PM

Respectfully but kinda sadly,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-11-22, 07:22 AM
First Finch, now Grace?

:smalleek::smallfrown::smallfurious:

Heather Albano, do you KNOW what you're doing to this character? Hasn't Watson had enough?

:Sigh:
How does my rant sound to you now? :smallamused:

Anyways. So our wife has cholera. Let's get working.

149)All will be well. There isn't a cure, but nursing matters a great deal, and I know what I'm doing. It will be fine. It will.
That sounds suspiciously like something Watson's just repeating to himself in an attempt at reassurance.
149p2)I send to the hospital, asking my colleagues for assistance.
A good British Mercian doctor will always help out a comrade, chap!
I would pick Taggart, but if Grace doesn't want it, then it wouldn't work. People say that if a patient is uncooperative it's very hard to help them, and I have the feeling it's the same with sun-magic healing.

Mister Tom
2016-11-22, 05:04 PM
:smallconfused::smallfrown:
Sigh. I'll get the shovel.



# I find myself wishing I believed in some higher power to pray to.
C) I send to Dr. and Mrs. Anstruther, asking for assistance.

Alandra
2016-11-23, 03:56 PM
Since the doctors know no cure for Cholera, the only thing that can actually help is going to a healer. And if that really works like magic, it shouldn't matter if Grace likes it or not. Although Taggart might refuse to heal someone who does not want to be healed. Maybe it's even against the law?

Anyway, if he can't or won't, we should be able to heal her ourself. If we were able to save that soldier, we are also able to save her.


# All will be well. There isn't a cure, but nursing matters a great deal, and I know what I'm doing. It will be fine. It will.

D) I go myself to the Sun Temple on Juniper Street, asking Taggart's assistance.


#Grace can be as angry at me as she likes—later, after she is well. I go for Taggart despite her protests.

smuchmuch
2016-11-23, 06:06 PM
I was wondering how the storry would put grace aside to go back to detective/conspiracy stuff (because while adventures like choice of robots, or Life of a Mage were focussing on the life of the characters rather than a set plot, this on seemd to be written closer to Mecha ace (could be wrong , though) so as soon as grace asked we'd get away from detectiving and into a normal life, well...). I'll admit, I didn't expect it's be that direct.
Still, she isn't dead yet tho, so who knows, maybe she'll get healed weither she likes it or not or some miracle happen. Who knows.

# All will be well. There isn't a cure, but nursing matters a great deal, and I know what I'm doing. It will be fine. It will.

B) I send to the hospital, asking my colleagues for assistance.

if healing worked against cholera, i figure Taggart temple would have mobed by desesperate cases.

pendell
2016-11-23, 07:54 PM
Ah, thanks for the four votes! :smallsmile:

149)All will be well. There isn't a cure, but nursing matters a great deal, and I know what I'm doing. It will be fine. It will.

150) I send to the hospital, asking my colleagues for assistance.

Let's get it done!

"All will be well."

Conventional: 51 Unconventional: 49

So we send to our colleagues at the hospital.



You receive a note back telling you not to bother bringing her in. "We're stacked three deep here. She'll have better care under your hands at home."

You knew that already. You return to her bedside.


:smalleek:

Nothing for it but to nurse her ourselves then. And hope...



By the time night falls again, Grace is vomiting in gushes as though the water overflows her mouth. Between attacks she is gripped by muscle spasms, and her face begins to take on the waxen, sunken-eye look that is characteristic of the end stages of cholera.





Vote 151:

# I frantically pen a note begging my hospital colleagues for assistance.
# I frantically pen a note begging Anstruther for assistance.

#I frantically flip through my medical textbooks, looking for anything that might help.



While we're doing this, we are interrupted...



You hope to see one of your colleagues from the hospital.

Not that they can do anything, but you still, irrationally, hope to see a helpful colleague as you unbolt the door.

It is a colleague. But he is not helpful. Dr. Herschel Adolphus Horn, the local hospital's worst incompetent, is more than three sheets to the wind.


He's ... drunk?

:smallfurious::smallfurious:



"They said y'r wife…poor thing…" He peers around the hall as though expecting to find Grace there. "Horrible at t'hospital, y'know, so many…been working day and night m'self, I have. So tired they told me go home, so I did…but I thought…on the way, I'd just stop by–y'know? See if I could help, somehow." He paws against the wall for a moment before achieving an angle that will hold him upright, and beams at you, expecting approval.

You wonder whether he was sent home because he was drunk, or whether he was truly sent home because of fatigue and found a tavern in which to become drunk between the hospital and your house.

You hear Grace cry out and hasten up the stairs, Horn lumbering in your wake.



When the paroxysm of vomiting leaves Grace, she slumps back too weak to open her eyes.

"Not good," Horn mumbles happily behind you. "Clammy skin, temperature dropping, y'know. Not good."



Well, yes, you f---ing idiot, I'm sure I couldn't have figured that out for myself. I do have a medical degree, after all, and I'm probably twice the doctor you are.

Heck's bells, a charm-wielding midwife with berries in her hair is probably twice the doctor you are.


Vote 152: Do you hit him, or do you merely order him out of your house?

#I hit him. Hard.

#Between my teeth, I instruct him to leave.

#Neither. He's apt to go try to minister to some other patient, and probably kill them. I lock him in my spare bedroom, where he can do no one any harm.





The night wears on. A layman might think Grace could get no worse, but her condition continues to deteriorate rapidly. She lies motionless now, her skin clammy, her hands and feet cold and her torso becoming so, her pulse rapid, feeble, flickering. And still the paroxysms of vomiting and purging do not abate.

You hold her in your arms. She slumps against you like a ragdoll. Her skin has begun to take on a bluish tinge.

The clock strikes three. It hasn't even been twenty-four hours. This is an evil disease if ever there was one.

You have healer's blood, and there could certainly be no more desperate circumstances–




Vote 153:
#But I put the thought aside. It seems like a betrayal of Grace, when I know full well she would never consent to it when conscious.

#It doesn't matter that she would not consent. She never has to know. This situation is so perilous that I must do everything I can, and healing is something I can do.


#It doesn't matter that she would not consent; she never has to know. I run for the temple to beg Taggart's help.



Just so we're clear on this; Grace will die in the next hour or so if she doesn't receive supernatural healing. What shall we do about it?

We're intelligent enough to know better, so I won't say anything about "trust to modern medicine" for the first option; it's a sentence of death for grace, but it allows her to die with her convictions intact.

The other two options may offer some chance of saving her .. but she could also die anyway, in which case we've gone against her wishes for nothing.

As towards Taggert versus ourselves, Taggert is more highly skilled but he's not here. That's something else to weigh in the balance.

So .. what shall we do?

Truth: It is possible to save Grace's life.

Let's see our decision on Friday, 25 Nov, 2016, 5:30PM. Happy holiday to those who celebrate it!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-11-24, 07:12 PM
Frigg you, Mercian doctors. Ready to help a comrade out, HAHAHA. :smallmad:

151)I frantically flip through my medical textbooks, looking for anything that might help.

Heck's bells, a charm-wielding midwife with berries in her hair is probably twice the doctor you are.
Preach it, brother.

152)Neither. He's apt to go try to minister to some other patient, and probably kill them. I lock him in my spare bedroom, where he can do no one any harm.
Better to keep him here than send him off to someone who might actually let him do something.

153)It doesn't matter that she would not consent. She never has to know. This situation is so perilous that I must do everything I can, and healing is something I can do.
If she's in dire straits, it would take too long to get Taggart. We're her only hope.
Just gotta think of warm summer rain and throat-catching music and sun-ripened blackberries, eh?

And happy American Thanksgiving!

Alandra
2016-11-25, 04:21 PM
#I frantically flip through my medical textbooks, looking for anything that might help.

Begging won't help.


#Neither. He's apt to go try to minister to some other patient, and probably kill them. I lock him in my spare bedroom, where he can do no one any harm.

I just hope he won't catch us trying to heal Grace (or at least is too drunk to comprehend it).

#It doesn't matter that she would not consent. She never has to know. This situation is so perilous that I must do everything I can, and healing is something I can do.

Taggart's not here and we don't know if he is able or allowed to help.

smuchmuch
2016-11-25, 04:45 PM
#I frantically flip through my medical textbooks, looking for anything that might help.

Neither. He's apt to go try to minister to some other patient, and probably kill them. I lock him in my spare bedroom, where he can do no one any harm.

The sad thing is, drunk and incompetent he may be, but he still came. Which is more than can be said for.. well... anyone else from the hospital.

Our healing stats aren't great, I don't think we can save her with her stats as they are.... but I think Watson would try anyway.

#It doesn't matter that she would not consent. She never has to know. This situation is so perilous that I must do everything I can, and healing is something I can do.

pendell
2016-11-25, 07:58 PM
The sad thing is, drunk and incompetent he may be, but he still came. Which is more than can be said for.. well... anyone else from the hospital.


Everyone else is at the hospital because there's still a lot of casualties from the epidemic. The script doesn't really tell us *why* he left -- but it IS quite possible that he was gently and firmly shown the door because he was not only not helping, he was in the way of the people who were.

Still, I agree .. he has the heart and compassion of a doctor. It's just that he doesn't have the skill to match his intentions.

It's a pity, really, he wasn't born sun-touched himself. He'd probably be a terrific healer -- but a surgeon? No.


We have a unanimous consensus what we're going to do, so let's do it!

151) I frantically flip through my medical textbooks, looking for anything that might help.

152) Neither. He's apt to go try to minister to some other patient, and probably kill them. I lock him in my spare bedroom, where he can do no one any harm.

153) It doesn't matter that she would not consent. She never has to know. This situation is so perilous that I must do everything I can, and healing is something I can do.


Step 1:

151) I frantically flip through my medical textbooks, looking for anything that might help.

This doesn't help. Doctor Horn tries his bumbling best, which is not nearly good enough.

152) Neither. He's apt to go try to minister to some other patient, and probably kill them. I lock him in my spare bedroom, where he can do no one any harm.



Not long after, you pass the door on another errand, and hear snoring.


It doesn't seem that he's going to be "catching" us or doing anything else for some time, so that' a mercy.



153) It doesn't matter that she would not consent. She never has to know. This situation is so perilous that I must do everything I can, and healing is something I can do.


Right! Let's roll up our sleeves and do some healing!



You look down at your hands pressed against Grace's blue-tinged skin, and try to remember what it was your grandmother told you to do. Close your eyes. Reach out not with your hand but with the flame inside yourself–

You feel ridiculous.

But with a suddenness that feels like falling off a cliff, you know when you have succeeded. The moment of connection is like nothing you've ever experienced. You've shared intimacy with your wife, yes, of course–but nothing like this.

What follows is less like reviving a dying flame than pouring water into parched earth.


Healing: 71



Or into a cracked flowerpot. Grace's dying body takes what you have to give–it even keeps a little of what you give it–but most runs through the cracks and seeps into the ground below. Very little of the light you offer does Grace any good.

You can feel your eyelids drooping, your knees turning to water. You reach the point of weakness so great you can hardly stand, and still you've done nothing to meaningfully improve her condition. On your knees beside her bed, you have to face the reality that you could kill yourself and not save her. Perhaps you might be able to manage this if you were trained in the art, but as it is—

You need more life than any one person holds.

You think of Horn, sodden and snoring behind the closed door.


Oh, so maybe Horn can save a life after all :smallamused:



You could go and drain what you need from him, and use it to save Grace's life. Light-eating without killing the victim requires finesse and practice, and you don't think you can manage it–but you could tell everyone his overworked heart finally failed him. Everyone would believe it; Horn's indulgent excesses are legendary.

No one would ever need to know how he really died.

You take your hands off your wife's cold skin. You turn for the guest room door.



Vote 154:

A) No, I can't do this! I shake off the hideous temptation. I will have to rely on modern medicine after all.

B) No, I can't do this! I shake off the hideous temptation. Perhaps Taggart can succeed where I have failed.

C) How do I know Taggart would come, or would succeed, or is even within the temple right now? I have to do this myself. And I'd trade Horn's worthless life for hers in a heartbeat.


Right. That's our one choice for the night. There's a follow up "are you sure" if you select option C, but if you select it I'm going to assume you know what you're doing.

Let's make no bones about it: C) is the highest probability way to save Grace's life -- if it can be saved at all at this point. It's also a probable that we will become addicted to light-eating if we drain that much light that quickly, and if we aren't extremely careful Horn will not be our last victim.

Plus it's murder.

That is what it is, both by natural law and by the laws of Mercia. This is something you're going to have to keep dead secret, or we'll find out just what Woodward does to light-eaters in his ranks.

It also goes without saying that Grace would not want this.

Let me know your decision -- on Monday, 28 Nov, 2016, 5:30 PM.

Also, I intend to make an exception to the rules in this case.

Normally, in the event of a tie, I simply roll off to determine the course of action between those that received the most votes. This time is different; if this action ties with the others, I will exclude it. Only if option C receives more votes than every other option will I pursue it. Storywise, you can't drop a stone that size into a lake and not expect ripples.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-11-26, 09:30 AM
Horn was drunk on duty or slacked off on duty.
Horn has probably killed patients through incompetence.

Grace is our wife.
Grace is innocent.

It's hard, but Oh. Well.

154C)How do I know Taggart would come, or would succeed, or is even within the temple right now? I have to do this myself. And I'd trade Horn's worthless life for hers in a heartbeat.

Sorry, Horn.

smuchmuch
2016-11-26, 11:12 AM
Horn was drunk on duty or slacked off on duty.
Horn has probably killed patients through incompetence.

Grace is our wife.
Grace is innocent.

It's hard, but Oh. Well.

Certainly not, this is not a line to cross.

Porbably ? Interesting self justification

Grace was a nurse, she tended to the injured and went çin dnagerous places, she the risk of it and I think it's one she was actualy okay with paying. We are a doctor and a soldier and understand that sometime, people die.
And if she didn't want to be healed in the first place, she certainly wouldn't want to be saved this way.

Oh and by the way there is now ay Grace won't find out, I mean her recovering from an incurzable disease and someone dying at the same time of no visible injuries... yeah.

But Watson is but human and I actualy want him to do the wrong thing here so:

154C)How do I know Taggart would come, or would succeed, or is even within the temple right now? I have to do this myself. And I'd trade Horn's worthless life for hers in a heartbeat.

Such a perfect start of darkness.

Mister Tom
2016-11-26, 01:47 PM
"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? "

"Actually, yes."

"...Ah."



B) No, I can't do this! I shake off the hideous temptation. Perhaps Taggart can succeed where I have failed.


So, no. I'm clearly willing to drive a coach and horses through my oath to mighty Apollo by subjecting Grace to treatment to which I am fully aware she would never consent. And it's not as though I haven't killed before. But I have seen enough other travellers of this path to go down it. Haven't I?

Alandra
2016-11-26, 06:16 PM
Really, no. Watson loves Grace, but he's not a villain. And being a drunkard or not doing your duty (or not being able to stomach a Cholera epidemic without a few drinks or whatever Horns problem is) really doesn't mean he deserves to die.

B) No, I can't do this! I shake off the hideous temptation. Perhaps Taggart can succeed where I have failed.

Black Socks
2016-11-27, 01:30 PM
So, no. I'm clearly willing to drive a coach and horses through my oath to mighty Apollo by subjecting Grace to treatment to which I am fully aware she would never consent.
But it will save her life. And she doesn't have to know.
Also, Apollo doesn't exist here. Watson's a Rationalist, remember?

Mister Tom
2016-11-28, 04:48 PM
But it will save her life. And she doesn't have to know.
Also, Apollo doesn't exist here. Watson's a Rationalist, remember?

Ok, for whatever reason I'm going to treat you as actually meaning this.

first off, Apollo doesn't exist here either, but he still gets a nod at the top of the Hippocratic oath. We've sworn loyalty to an idea in our own head, and now we're breaking that oath anyway.

Secondly, I think you're confusing rationalism with utilitarianism. Rationalism has meant a variety of different things throughout history, but fundamentally it places emphasis on logical reasoning over argument from authority or experience. But that reasoning can still start from a set of a priori principles ( the "innate concepts" thesis)- for example, the deontological protection afforded to an innocent, under which bracket Dr Horn just about qualifies. Now it's true that at this point in ( our) history that Rationalism was usually interpreted in an enlightenment setting as encompassing utilitarianism, the utilitarian philosophers (see Bentham or Hume) believed in the concepts of rules, and order; but said rules should be formulated according to utilitarian principles.

Thirdly, even if we did see ourselves as solely bound by some sort of Nietzchian " master morality"- we would still have to weigh up a) the mere increased probability that our actions will save grace's life when the alternative will not; b) the effect this will have on us - whether the effect of carrying this secret to the end our days, or the realisation that ( and yes this is empirical evidence but it's strongly present) that morally well-adjusted light eaters are quite thin on the ground,and perhaps most importantly c) - our relationship with Grace. Going against her attitude to magical healing is one thing - I don't expect our relationship will necessarily survive the revelation, but she's misinformed about it as a matter of objective fact- this is quite another. She's just spent the week, in case you've forgotten, voluntarily putting her own life at risk to help others, many of whom are no doubt no more deserving of her good graces, aha, than the good doctor. By your own admission, your John Watson lacks the respect for her opinions to inform her that he has done this, let alone to respect her opinions regarding the sanctity of the lives of others.

Tldr: so, yeah, no.

Alandra
2016-11-28, 06:09 PM
Rationalism should include at least partly that you value thinking and logic more than emotions.

And while Watson was a soldier and has probably killed before, afterwards he only ever tried to save people. We went the less violent route when we didn't break into the Sun Temple, when we didn't shoot Townsend, when we approached the prince and when we didn't punch Horn. Watson is not even really comfortable with being sun touched, he really shoudn't be okay with becoming a light eater. And while he desperately wants to save Grace, he has always respected her and her opinion.

Not wanting to be healed can be disregarded as superstition - not wanting to be healed by killing someone else is definitely an opinion that should be respected.

Black Socks
2016-11-28, 07:10 PM
Actually, I was referring to this:

you are a Rationalist, like all educated men.
But fine, Grace shall die. When we could have saved her. I guess that makes me amoral or something for choosing the option that had the best chance to save her.

pendell
2016-11-28, 08:36 PM
Actually, I was referring to this:

But fine, Grace shall die. When we could have saved her. I guess that makes me amoral or something.

Please don't take it that way, Black Socks. We're trying to make the best decision we can as a group. A game is a *learning* experience where we can explore what-if scenarios without the pressure of people actually being killed.

I get that Grace is innocent and deserves to live, and that Horn is a .. well, at the moment he's a net negative. One could even argue that killing him would save lives, since as a doctor he may not only actively kill people he should have saved, he may roadblock treatment by real doctors. "Worse than two unit vacancies" as an old boss put it. Not only is he not doing his own job, he's making more work for other people. In an epidemic, that's intolerable. Which presumably is why he was sent home.

Nonetheless ..

http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/001/384/Atrapitis.gif

The author has been deliberately baiting you into making this move, and Alandra and Mister Tom have just saved us from a Nonstandard Game Over.

... Well, that's not entirely true. There ARE one or two ways off this path, at the very beginning, but not many and they pass quickly.

All too soon this happens


You contact the hospital and the undertakers, and count yourself lucky that Horn has no family you need inform.

The undertakers arrive later that day, and you conduct them upstairs to the spare bedroom. You turn–and start at the sight of Grace, supporting herself against the door frame with a white-knuckled grip. She stares at Horn's body. "How did he come to be here?"

"He came by to see if he could aid me in caring for you."

She nods slowly. You can't interpret the look on her face. "Was it cholera that killed him?"

"No," you say. "Drunkenness. Let's get you back to bed, love."

She looks over her shoulder at Horn's body as you guide her away, and she is very quiet over the next day or so.

...

You engage a private nurse to stay with her, and go back to your work among the cholera cases of the East End, as is your clear duty.

As you walk back from one such case a few nights later, a scream startles you out of your thoughts.

Your feet are running toward it before you consciously decide to do so.

In the little yard behind a rooming house, a large man is using a stick to beat a young woman who sobs and begs for mercy and tries to crawl away.

You are behind him before you have time to think, your hand grabbing his neck almost of its own accord. You slam him up against a handy wall, and your palms close over the

—bright burning acid of his inner flame, poison overlaid with coal dust, throwing off toxic splatters in every direction—

There's nothing here the world needs. You squeeze once, hard, and the venomous light goes out.

And sharp, clean strength floods your veins. It's like standing atop a mountain in winter, cold air searing your lungs and clearing your head. He was good for something after all, dead if not alive. He was putting the light of his life to no good use, but with this borrowed energy, you could—

—you could do almost—

—almost anything.

You blink down at the dead body.

...

You wake a few nights later from what should have been the dead sleep of the physically exhausted, your throat aching as though from feverish thirst.

Water does nothing to quench it.

To no avail. You lie awake until morning.

The next night, it happens again.

It doesn't help. Again you lie awake until dawn.

That day, you find yourself idly watching Grace's nurse. She's a rosy-cheeked country girl, and the life inside her pulses with a golden glow you can almost—

—almost see?

What is happening to you?


At about this point the options you are given are fake; there are multiple options but all save one are disabled. You are an addict; no longer in control of your actions.

What do you think happens again, and again, and again?

Eventually this saga reaches its conclusion:


That morning, you return home to find Grace and the nurse have vanished without a trace or a note.

And there's someone in your house.


Men in full protective gear rush you from every side. You struggle as best you can, but your greatest weapon is foiled by the thick layers of cloth, and there are too many for you to take down any more conventional way. At last you are shackled hand and foot, and lie panting amidst the detritous of your ruined sitting room.

Woodward crouches down, carefully out of reach. "Mrs. Watson came to see me early this morning," he says.

"It was clearly a difficult decision. She broke down weeping
in my office, and asked many times if there was not something that could be done to treat your…affliction. I told
her we would take you to an institution where treatment would be attempted." He rises. "At some point in the
future, I will tell her the facility burned to the ground, and show her a corpse she will accept as yours."

The facility is somewhere on the northern moors, you think. You never succeed in an escape attempt, so
you cannot be sure.

And then you stop trying to escape.

Eventually, you forget your own name. The men who surround you—swathed to the
eyes in protective clothing—refer to you only as "the asset." Or sometimes by number. You are number 235.

The man in the light gray suit triggers something like a faint ripple of memory, but it passes. He is the only one in
the room not draped in cloth from head to foot. He stands well back as he regards you. "The treatment is complete?"

"Yes, sir," says one of the cloth-muffled men.

"Good." The man in the gray suit looks you up and down. "He'll be a particularly strong addition to the
program—Army-trained, and all. You'll be defending your Empire once again," he adds, raising his voice. He might be
addressing you, but you're not sure. "The Vlaski bastards have their light-eaters; now I have mine. War is coming.
And Mercia will damn well be ready to defend her borders when it does." He stares at you for a long time as
though waiting for a reaction, but of course you have no reaction to demonstrate.

The man in gray turns, and walks away with echoing footsteps.

The End


There ARE a very few ways off this path but almost all the choices we could make are restricted; most of the story options would be foreclosed by this choice.

That's why I made an exception to the rules; If it had been a one page thing I'd have let things take their course. As it is, we'd have spent weeks or months chronicling Dr. Watson's descent into an addicted light-eater who left a trail of victims behind before the story ended. At which point we would most likely run it all back to this choice and try again.

At any rate, thank you all for the discussion! I'm sorry it got heated, but provoking this kind of thoughtful disagreement is part of what gaming is all about -- at least for me.

At any rate, we shake off the temptation and find Taggert.



The red-haired guard at the Sun Temple's gate mocks you for your request, but the clamor wakes Taggart, who comes stumbling into the front hall in clothes he appears to have slept in. He looks half-dead himself—not ill with cholera, those symptoms are unmistakeable, but he's lost a noticeable amount of weight since you last saw him, and there are heavy sagging bags under his eyes.

But when he understands what has brought you to his gates, he comes with you at once.


Hurry! Hurry!



The windows of your house are lit with all the lamps you left burning. Behind the spare room door, Horn snores.

But in your bedroom, all is quiet.

Taggart takes one look over your shoulder, then pushes past you, dropping to his knees beside the bed and taking Grace's limp hands in his own.

You reach over him. There is no pulse at her throat.


:smalleek::smallfrown:

I fear Black Socks was right; Taggert was simply too far away.



It seems as though a century passes before Taggart gets slowly and stiffly to his feet. He turns to face you. You're not sure if there are tears in his eyes. "John, I am so, so sorry."

You stand there for a long while before you can bring any words up from the back of your throat.



Vote 155:

# "Would it have worked? The healing. If I'd brought you in time."

# "None of this would have happened if that water pump had been properly maintained."

# "Please go."




You don't hear him leave.

Sometime later, you are brought back to yourself by the sound of Horn hammering on the door of the spare bedroom and yowling your name, and you notice the room is full of bright, clean, mocking sunlight.



:smallfurious: I ... I really hate that man. Hate him for the temptation he caused us, hate him because we had to save his life over Grace's. Just ... just get out of my story and don't come back! You've served your purpose, Mr. Bait, and I hope we never see you again!



The sun shines the day she is buried, too—a pale, sullen sunlight more usual for Kingsford.

You stand staring at her grave for a long time.



Vote 156:
#I can't shake the thought that healing might have saved her.

#Though I know it to be irrational, I can't shake the thought that a better physician could have saved her.

#I am still gripped by fury that she was ever in danger in the first place.

#I feel neither guilt nor fury–nor, for that matter, anything else at all. I feel as though I am encased in ice.




The night air hits you like a slap to the face, but it does little to clear your head. You stagger a bit, looking
about in an attempt to get your bearings. You are in one of the vilest stews of the East End, and you face a longish
walk home.



Vote 157: What are you doing here?

#We've broken the back of the epidemic, but it isn't quite over. There are still a few cholera cases
to be treated in poor hovels such as this.

#I haven't been sober much at all since the funeral. I sought out this tavern because I am profoundly
unlikely to encounter a concerned colleague here.


#Just walking. Despite my exhaustion in the wake of the epidemic, I can't sleep, and so I've walked farther and
farther from home each night.



Walking all alone ...



You catch a flash of movement out of the very corner of your eye, but your numbed reflexes are too slow, and you are not able to do anything before the man in the alleyway leaps at you. You crash underneath him to the filthy cobblestones, and his knife blade bites into the skin at your throat.

"Wandered a long way from home, haven't you, lad?" he says in your ear, with a gust of foul breath.

"Now then, you hand over that watch and your notecase, and then our business is done, see? And you can wander back to where you came from. But give me any trouble–" The knife bites deeper. "–and your fine kin will never discover where we've dumped your body."

When he says "we," you see the others. Five or six menacing shapes are stepping out of the shadows.

It should have been impossible for footpads such as these to take someone like you by surprise.
It would have been impossible, had your abilities not been compromised by exhaustion (and drink , if the second option was taken).




Vote 158:

What do you do?

#My revolver is in my overcoat pocket. If I can get the tough on top of me to drop his guard even for a moment, I should be able to slip it free.


#I don't think the knife is near enough to the carotid artery to kill me at once. If I jerk free suddenly, I can get away with only a scratch.



#If I can get him to drop his guard even for an instant, I am sure I can bring him down with fisticuffs.

#I expect these are desperate rather than evil men. I am certain I can talk them out of this, if I can only stay alive long enough to do so.

#Why in the world would I fight for my life? What good is my life to me?



There is a followup vote on 158 if you draw your revolver.


Vote 158A : What do you intend to do with your revolver?

# Shoot to wound
# Shoot to kill
# Brandish it and intimidate the muggers


Have your votes in .. and I hope to see you all on Wednesday, 30 Nov, 2016, 5:30 PM. No hard feelings , guys ... moral dilemmas are *supposed* to be tough, heartwrenching decisions!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Markozeta
2016-11-28, 10:44 PM
I've been watching for a while, but damn... that was intense. Screw this, I'm throwing a vote.


Vote 155:
A.) "Would it have worked? The healing. If I'd brought you in time."


This needs to be a hard decision for Dr. Watson. I recently lost a good friend to pneumonia and am venting some of that out here.


Vote 156:
D.) I feel neither guilt nor fury–nor, for that matter, anything else at all. I feel as though I am encased in ice.


The numbness sets in and you never get out of it until something drastic happens.


Vote 157: What are you doing here?

C.) Just walking. Despite my exhaustion in the wake of the epidemic, I can't sleep, and so I've walked farther and farther from home each night.

Wandering is a sign of major depression. I've dreamt about a nice drive to crater lake for the past few days now. It's so beautiful, you forget all your worries until...


Vote 158:

D.) I expect these are desperate rather than evil men. I am certain I can talk them out of this, if I can only stay alive long enough to do so.


Snapping back to reality by a boss pointing out an assignment that needs to be finished by end of month (or men with knives), the brilliant doctor regains his wits, realizing what his guilt has lost him, and bargains with the world. He has not given into despair, but needed something to snap him out of it.

Black Socks
2016-11-29, 07:10 AM
Please don't take it that way, Black Socks. We're trying to make the best decision we can as a group. A game is a *learning* experience where we can explore what-if scenarios without the pressure of people actually being killed.

I get that Grace is innocent and deserves to live, and that Horn is a .. well, at the moment he's a net negative. One could even argue that killing him would save lives, since as a doctor he may not only actively kill people he should have saved, he may roadblock treatment by real doctors. "Worse than two unit vacancies" as an old boss put it. Not only is he not doing his own job, he's making more work for other people. In an epidemic, that's intolerable. Which presumably is why he was sent home.

Nonetheless ..

http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/001/384/Atrapitis.gif

The author has been deliberately baiting you into making this move, and Alandra and Mister Tom have just saved us from a Nonstandard Game Over.

... Well, that's not entirely true. There ARE one or two ways off this path, at the very beginning, but not many and they pass quickly.

All too soon this happens


You contact the hospital and the undertakers, and count yourself lucky that Horn has no family you need inform.

The undertakers arrive later that day, and you conduct them upstairs to the spare bedroom. You turn–and start at the sight of Grace, supporting herself against the door frame with a white-knuckled grip. She stares at Horn's body. "How did he come to be here?"

"He came by to see if he could aid me in caring for you."

She nods slowly. You can't interpret the look on her face. "Was it cholera that killed him?"

"No," you say. "Drunkenness. Let's get you back to bed, love."

She looks over her shoulder at Horn's body as you guide her away, and she is very quiet over the next day or so.

...

You engage a private nurse to stay with her, and go back to your work among the cholera cases of the East End, as is your clear duty.

As you walk back from one such case a few nights later, a scream startles you out of your thoughts.

Your feet are running toward it before you consciously decide to do so.

In the little yard behind a rooming house, a large man is using a stick to beat a young woman who sobs and begs for mercy and tries to crawl away.

You are behind him before you have time to think, your hand grabbing his neck almost of its own accord. You slam him up against a handy wall, and your palms close over the

—bright burning acid of his inner flame, poison overlaid with coal dust, throwing off toxic splatters in every direction—

There's nothing here the world needs. You squeeze once, hard, and the venomous light goes out.

And sharp, clean strength floods your veins. It's like standing atop a mountain in winter, cold air searing your lungs and clearing your head. He was good for something after all, dead if not alive. He was putting the light of his life to no good use, but with this borrowed energy, you could—

—you could do almost—

—almost anything.

You blink down at the dead body.

...

You wake a few nights later from what should have been the dead sleep of the physically exhausted, your throat aching as though from feverish thirst.

Water does nothing to quench it.

To no avail. You lie awake until morning.

The next night, it happens again.

It doesn't help. Again you lie awake until dawn.

That day, you find yourself idly watching Grace's nurse. She's a rosy-cheeked country girl, and the life inside her pulses with a golden glow you can almost—

—almost see?

What is happening to you?


At about this point the options you are given are fake; there are multiple options but all save one are disabled. You are an addict; no longer in control of your actions.

What do you think happens again, and again, and again?

Eventually this saga reaches its conclusion:


That morning, you return home to find Grace and the nurse have vanished without a trace or a note.

And there's someone in your house.


Men in full protective gear rush you from every side. You struggle as best you can, but your greatest weapon is foiled by the thick layers of cloth, and there are too many for you to take down any more conventional way. At last you are shackled hand and foot, and lie panting amidst the detritous of your ruined sitting room.

Woodward crouches down, carefully out of reach. "Mrs. Watson came to see me early this morning," he says.

"It was clearly a difficult decision. She broke down weeping
in my office, and asked many times if there was not something that could be done to treat your…affliction. I told
her we would take you to an institution where treatment would be attempted." He rises. "At some point in the
future, I will tell her the facility burned to the ground, and show her a corpse she will accept as yours."

The facility is somewhere on the northern moors, you think. You never succeed in an escape attempt, so
you cannot be sure.

And then you stop trying to escape.

Eventually, you forget your own name. The men who surround you—swathed to the
eyes in protective clothing—refer to you only as "the asset." Or sometimes by number. You are number 235.

The man in the light gray suit triggers something like a faint ripple of memory, but it passes. He is the only one in
the room not draped in cloth from head to foot. He stands well back as he regards you. "The treatment is complete?"

"Yes, sir," says one of the cloth-muffled men.

"Good." The man in the gray suit looks you up and down. "He'll be a particularly strong addition to the
program—Army-trained, and all. You'll be defending your Empire once again," he adds, raising his voice. He might be
addressing you, but you're not sure. "The Vlaski bastards have their light-eaters; now I have mine. War is coming.
And Mercia will damn well be ready to defend her borders when it does." He stares at you for a long time as
though waiting for a reaction, but of course you have no reaction to demonstrate.

The man in gray turns, and walks away with echoing footsteps.

The End


There ARE a very few ways off this path but almost all the choices we could make are restricted; most of the story options would be foreclosed by this choice.

That's why I made an exception to the rules; If it had been a one page thing I'd have let things take their course. As it is, we'd have spent weeks or months chronicling Dr. Watson's descent into an addicted light-eater who left a trail of victims behind before the story ended. At which point we would most likely run it all back to this choice and try again.

At any rate, thank you all for the discussion! I'm sorry it got heated, but provoking this kind of thoughtful disagreement is part of what gaming is all about -- at least for me.

At any rate, we shake off the temptation and find Taggert.
I, in turn, overreacted. I apologize.

:smalleek:
Woodward has a light-eater army?!
Dammit, why can't I stop admiring that idea?! He's a genius! But a monster! But a genius! *headdesk*

Anyways, on with the show!

155)"Would it have worked? The healing. If I'd brought you in time."
I would like to know, and I believe he would too.

156)I can't shake the thought that healing might have saved her.
Because modern medicine worked *so* well for Watson. Thoughts like this are natural.

157)We've broken the back of the epidemic, but it isn't quite over. There are still a few cholera cases to be treated in poor hovels such as this.
Watson's thought process:
Cholera ended Grace. Now I will end it.

158)I expect these are desperate rather than evil men. I am certain I can talk them out of this, if I can only stay alive long enough to do so.
This is Marksmanship v. Medicine v. Athletics v. Charisma. Our Charisma is highest.

Mister Tom
2016-11-29, 01:45 PM
Respect and salutations to all of you: I, too, overreacted.

As to the vote; what Markozeta said, viz:

Vote 155:
A.) "Would it have worked? The healing. If I'd brought you in time.

Vote 156:
D.) I feel neither guilt nor fury–nor, for that matter, anything else at all. I feel as though I am encased in ice.



Vote 157: What are you doing here?

C.) Just walking. Despite my exhaustion in the wake of the epidemic, I can't sleep, and so I've walked farther and farther from home each night. [COLOR]

Vote 158:

[COLOR="#FF0000"]D.) I expect these are desperate rather than evil men. I am certain I can talk them out of this, if I can only stay alive long enough to do so.


this isn't going to end well either, is it?

Alandra
2016-11-30, 04:45 PM
Oh, wow. I hadn't expected that the game would punish us that hard for one decision. Lighteating is that addictive after even one time? :smalleek:

# "None of this would have happened if that water pump had been properly maintained."


#I am still gripped by fury that she was ever in danger in the first place.

Anger is at least better than self-doubt.


#We've broken the back of the epidemic, but it isn't quite over. There are still a few cholera cases
to be treated in poor hovels such as this.

Let's bury us in work.

I expect these are desperate rather than evil men. I am certain I can talk them out of this, if I can only stay alive long enough to do so.

Charisma is our best skill. This should have at least a chance to end well.

pendell
2016-11-30, 08:29 PM
Oh, wow. I hadn't expected that the game would punish us that hard for one decision. Lighteating is that addictive after even one time?


It can be. It depends a lot on how much you take how quickly. In this case, I don't think the physical addiction kicked in immediately -- you'll notice Watson seems to have developed a bit of a god-complex as to deciding who should live and who should die, and THEN the physical addiction kicked in after the second time.

I admit to being struck dumb at the elegance with which we were played. First the cholera epidemic put us into the frame of mind to deliberately sacrifice people, even little babies, for the sake of the Greater Good. Then, having done so, the author then swung about and put us in a situation where we would then make one more deliberate sacrifice -- but this time, it's not a matter of simply choosing where to best put our limited effort and time, which meant letting people die by omission. This time the game requires a willing, deliberate choice to kill -- and in a way that would have damaging physical effects to us personally, though that was carefully concealed in the heat of the moment.

The sheer elegance of it.



I recently lost a good friend to pneumonia and am venting some of that out here.


:smalleek:

I'm sorry to hear that. For what it's worth, please accept my sympathy and well-wishing. I wish I could do more than that to make it better.



I, in turn, overreacted. I apologize


Thank you. For my part, I accept your apology.

I must ask: Are you a medical professional yourself? You seem to take a violation of the Hippocratic oath very strongly -- more than a layman would.


And now we have some choices!

155 A.) "Would it have worked? The healing. If I'd brought you in time."

156) I feel neither guilt nor fury–nor, for that matter, anything else at all. I feel as though I am encased in ice.

157)
Just walking. Despite my exhaustion in the wake of the epidemic, I can't sleep, and so I've walked farther and farther from home each night. 31


158) I expect these are desperate rather than evil men. I am certain I can talk them out of this, if I can only stay alive long enough to do so.

So let's execute!

"Would it have worked? The healing. If I'd brought you in time."



"I don't know," Taggart says honestly. "I'm…rather tired." A ludicrous understatement. "It might well have taken more from me than I have to give. But…" He hesitates, then apparently decides to give you the whole truth. "But with a willing donor? Then yes, maybe."

You nod slowly.

Taggart starts to reach out, then puts both hands behind his back. "Is there someone I can send for, for you?"

You shake your head. Once there was Finch. But that was a long time ago.


A willing donor, eh? Or perhaps several donors, so you wouldn't have to take a chance on killing him or her?



"Please go," you hear yourself say.

Taggart nods. "If there's anything I can do…which is a ridiculous thing to say, but it's all I have. If there's anything I can do, don't hesitate."

You don't hear him leave.

Sometime later, you are brought back to yourself by the sound of Horn hammering on the door of the spare bedroom and yowling your name, and you notice the room is full of bright, clean, mocking sunlight.


We somehow make it through the funeral.

" I feel neither guilt nor fury–nor, for that matter, anything else at all. I feel as though I am encased in ice."

Afterwards, we find ourselves in the East End, still heroically paying calls on sick victims.



At least there are only a few cases left. You wish you could feel something more than vague satisfaction, but like every other doctor in the area, you are exhausted to the point of collapse. You can't remember the last time you slept for more than a few hours, you can't remember a time when you did not feel bleary-eyed and faintly nauseous, and you are not far off being unable to remember your own name. You set your face homeward, and try not to stumble.


Aand here is a band of thugs.



You catch a flash of movement out of the very corner of your eye, but your numbed reflexes are too slow, and you are not able to do anything before the man in the alleyway leaps at you. You crash underneath him to the filthy cobblestones, and his knife blade bites into the skin at your throat.

"Wandered a long way from home, haven't you, lad?" he says in your ear, with a gust of foul breath.

"Now then, you hand over that watch and your notecase, and then our business is done, see? And you can wander back to where you came from. But give me any trouble–" The knife bites deeper. "–and your fine kin will never discover where we've dumped your body."

When he says "we," you see the others. Five or six menacing shapes are stepping out of the shadows.

It should have been impossible for footpads such as these to take someone like you by surprise. It would have been impossible, had your abilities not been compromised by exhaustion.


These are probably desperate, not evil men. We'll try to talk him down.



You slowly pull your watch from its pocket, and his muscles relax a little at the implication you have no plans to fight him. The pressure of the blade eases.

"This isn't the way," you gasp. "If you need help, I can help you."

The tough atop you hesitates.

"That's right," you encourage him. "You don't need to do this. Don't turn yourself into this kind of man."

The knife tip wavers, and drops.


Ah, Watson, you still have a silver tongue!



And then the others are upon you.

You've held your own against worse odds before—but that was some time ago. That was when you were in practice. That was when you were not weighed down by exhaustion. And guilt. And grief.

One of them manages to push you back to the pavement, weaponless, a knife once more digging into your throat.

You stare up into his eyes.


Is this it?



You have only an instant to decide.



Vote 159: Your palms are flat against his bare skin, and you have light-eater blood. You could grasp hold of his inner flame and smother it, right now, this moment, before his blade slices your throat.

# He targeted me because he thought I could not defend myself. And how many throats has he slit before tonight? I rip his life brutally from his body.

# I was helpless to save Finch, I was helpless to save Grace, and I shall never be helpless again. Half-blind with grief and rage, I rip his life from his body.

# No. I will not become like them. Not even to save my own life. (What good is my life to me, anyhow?)

# I don't exactly decide to do it, but it happens anyhow–half choice and half reflex. I have pulled his life from his body before I can decide whether to stop.



Well, she (the author, I mean) doesn't want to let this go, does she? :smallannoyed:

Okay, the situation is a bit different this time -- in this case, you can either kill the man with light-eating, or not. And if you don't, barring some kind of miraculous intervention , you'll die.

What's it going to be? Bear in mind that there are more than two choices given, which may mean a chance to minimize the risk of addiction (or might not -- they could be fakeouts).

By the laws of Mercia, killing by light-eating is always a crime. By natural law, however, this would be justifiable self-defense. Whether your body cares about that after the experience of light-eating is another issue, however.

I am stopping here because this isn't a fake choice -- it's a real life-or-death decision.

I'll see you all on Friday, 2 December, 2016, 5:30PM as we fight for our lives!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Markozeta
2016-11-30, 11:27 PM
Thanks for the well wishes. It just shows how important it is to keep good doctors alive, or we could be under these circumstances again!

Well, she (the author, I mean) doesn't want to let this go, does she? No, and I have a feeling it's because we're coming up on some big stuff, real soon.

Vote 159: C.) No. I will not become like them. Not even to save my own life. (What good is my life to me, anyhow?)

I actually did a coin flip between B and C. Tough call - do I *really* risk that life? Could I aim to incapacitate instead of murder? No, not in my state. In my exhaustion, the new life flowing inside would make me empowered, invincible, and unstoppable. Maybe if I chose out of grief, I could hope that seeing my actions would snap me out of it. The power can give and take, and maybe I'd give this man back the life I stole from him. But what if I didn't? Nobody would have to know if I didn't try to right my wrongs. Sure I could walk away from a trial with my freedom, but at what cost? Who would I ever be able to save, if anyone? My name and reputation would be gone.

So I lay down and hope against all hope the first mugger calls this off. "We got what we came for, boys, he's not worth this fight". I sit back, roll the dice, and see if I have a 20.

(E): Yes, I'm sorry this means two of you will have to agree to take his light in the same way now. But I wonder here, what would be the harm if he made the cut? I could take his life and heal myself, no? It does take a few minutes to die from blood loss - enough time to make the moves, if I was clever enough.

Black Socks
2016-12-01, 07:28 AM
159)He targeted me because he thought I could not defend myself. And how many throats has he slit before tonight? I rip his life brutally from his body.
Joking, joking! We've seen where that goes.
159)No. I will not become like them. Not even to save my own life. (What good is my life to me, anyhow?)

smuchmuch
2016-12-02, 03:59 AM
The sheer elegance of it.

I have to somewhat disagree from all of this


... Well, that's not entirely true. There ARE one or two ways off this path, at the very beginning, but not many and they pass quickly.

See, those I would have like to see.

Now if we had seen those and not took them, then I would grant the author the elegance of the manipulation.
But here ?

It seems a single choice lead to disproportionate consequences by complelty removing player agency and having the author deciding what is the suposedly playable character frame of mind.
In a RPG that would be called raillroading and rightfully so. From an interactive storytelling point of view, it strikes me as little forced with all the sutlety of an eighties anti drug PSA.
(Remember kids, winners don't go Light Eating ! Light Eating doesn't make you cool !)


That's why I made an exception to the rules; If it had been a one page thing I'd have let things take their course. As it is, we'd have spent weeks or months chronicling Dr. Watson's descent into an addicted light-eater who left a trail of victims behind before the story ended. At which point we would most likely run it all back to this choice and try again.

Aaaw, that sounded great. That would have been great descent into darkness. It's not like we're on a time limit or anything and I would have enjoyed seeing more of the game.

... And uh, maybe you shouldn't have revealed the Woodward lighteater bit just yet, it seems like kind of a major spoiler.

Anyway i will actively decide as if i didn't knew the future it brings and besides i feel the situation is quite different.

# I don't exactly decide to do it, but it happens anyhow–half choice and half reflex. I have pulled his life from his body before I can decide whether to stop.

For what it's worth, as with many habit forming processes, emotional charge and willingness do play a large role in the formation of an addiction.
Although I doubt the text will bother with such distinctions.
don't get me wrong, i'm sure some miracle would happen if we surendered to save Watson in some way. Notheless I can't imagine Watson, desesperate as he may be would willingly get his throat slit no more than he would willingly ressort ot lighjt eating at this point, as such this strikes me as the most in character choice.

pendell
2016-12-02, 10:15 PM
Aaaw, that sounded great. That would have been great descent into darkness. It's not like we're on a time limit or anything and I would have enjoyed seeing more of the game.


Tell ya what; if possible I'll try to work in some of the alternate passages in to the posts -- if I can do so without making these even longer than they are.

And yes, I probably should have held back on that reveal, but I sensed serious audience discontent and come on, that is just too good a storyline to just pass over in silence :smallbiggrin:.

So, we'd rather die than save our life with light-eating. Will we have to pay the full price?



What good, indeed?


Achievement: Uncompromising. Chose to die rather than kill through light-eating

*Deep breath*



You close your eyes as the knife descends toward you–

–and feel, rather than see, the arm behind it go limp. The rest of the footpad goes limp as well, falling heavily on top of you. You push his body away, and look up to see Alexandra Townsend. She holds a tiny pistol fitted with an extra attachment the like of which you have never seen before, but which appears to have rendered the sound of the shot inaudible.

The echoes of footsteps frantically running away tell you where the rest of the footpads have gone to.

Alexandra raises her eyebrows when she gets a clear view of your face.

"You're aways from home, aren't you?" she comments. "What in hell are you doing here?"



Vote 160:

# I don't say anything.
# I tell her I was out for a walk.
# Stammering a little from the closeness of that shave, I tell her I was called out to see a patient.


*Wipes brow* We've been saved by Alexandra.

I can tell you now -- if you give reason for Alexandra to like you *enough*, she'll save you here. If you didn't, but you did make nice with Taggert (you didn't frame him with false evidence, say), then HE would save you here. If you alienated both of them then this would indeed be Game Over right here.

But, thankfully, it isn't. Our life is spared -- by our -- rival ? Opponent? Not really enemy, but not really ally, either. Frenemy ?

Whatever. She saved us.

After we react to her, the story continues.



In a businesslike manner, Alexandra goes to prod the body of the footpad with her boot. He is very definitely dead.



Vote 161: What do you say?

#"You saved my life. Thank you."

#"You shouldn't have bothered."

#"Good shot."
#"You killed him."




"He had it coming. I know this one. He's slit the throats of other easy marks."

"Weren't you concerned about his companions?"

"Given who I work for?" Alexandra grins. "Not at all. They know better. The Professor takes care of his own."

Alexandra leaves the body, and comes to lean beside you against a convenient brick wall, one booted foot propped behind her. From the pocket of her trousers, she draws out a packet of the little cigarillos the East Enders call gaspers. She pulls one out for herself, glances at you, and offers you one.




Vote 162:

#I accept.


#I shake my head no.

#I decline, but I pull out a matchbox and light hers.




"I heard," she says abruptly. "About your wife." She makes eye contact. "You have my deepest condolences. I'm so sorry."

After a brief silence, she goes on, "We could use you, you know. In the Resistance.

You've been walking my streets for quite some time now, Doctor—isn't it time you joined the effort to clean them? The Professor would welcome someone of your skill, and you know the cause is just. You've seen—" She gestures. "—the horrors of the East End. In all their glory. Come help us put them to an end."



Did ... did we just get a job offer?



When you don't answer immediately, she adds, "There's a meeting tomorrow night. If you want to come, meet me at the Ten Bells at eleven, and I'll bring you along."

She gives you a genuinely friendly smile in farewell.

"Take care getting home, now," she says, and walks off, leaving the body of the footpad on the cobblestones.






Vote 163: You do not have to make an irrevocable choice just yet, but what is your initial reaction?

#I am not about to abandon my post as a respected physician and become an outlaw.


#I never before considered such a course. Now that I am considering it, I hardly know what to think.

#Children died under the feet of a mech in Dunleitir. A cholera epidemic just ripped through the laborer quarter because no one could be bothered to properly maintain a cesspool. Yes, it's time I took a hand in ending these horrors.

#I am tired of my life having so little meaning. I want to feel alive again. Perhaps joining Free Mercia is the way to do that.

#I can't see myself doing it—can't see much of a future at all, in fact. Nothing matters.



That's just an initial internal reaction, not a decision. But we're not done yet!



You wake the next morning nauseated, bleary-eyed, your head pounding like a steam-engine and your old injury throbbing in a dull counterpoint. You stumble down to the breakfast table.


Where a letter is waiting for you. The envelope is addressed in an unfamiliar hand, so when you open it, you look at once for the signature.

It is signed, Christopher Taggart.

You stare at it for a long moment before you begin to read.


Dear Dr. Watson,

You have never shown any inclination to associate with a man of my calling, nor would I expect you to. Your experiences on the Goráskan front showed you the worst of us, and it is understandable you shy away from anything that reminds you of the depredations of the light-eaters.

(Though I will say, as I have said before, that those depredations occur because the light-eaters choose to commit them; or perhaps in rare cases,
because a person of strong talent spends too long exercising his gift without receiving proper training. We who have the same talent they do may choose
to use it differently–to bring light into darkness, to rekindle the flames of lives gone cold. I would teach this to any who wanted to learn it, and so I will say it here though I have no expectation of changing your mind.)

Our philosophical differences aside, I would like to believe your work as a doctor is not so different from mine as a healer, and there is a man among my fideles in need of medical advice. Though I can heal the recurring symptoms of his condition, it may be a more scientific approach is needed to bring to an end the underlying cause. If you could spare a few minutes to discuss the case, I would be very grateful. You know where to find me, and my door is always open.

A postscript adds, Please come. I am becoming quite concerned about him–he has lost much recently, and I see the signs of despair darkening his eyes.



Vote 164:
#I am perplexed. How can Taggart say we have not associated? We have.

#I appreciate Taggart's circumspection. Not one sentence in this letter would compromise my reputation if someone else saw it.

#I have to admire Taggart's craftiness in getting his message across.

#I find myself moved by Taggart's offer.



So... that's our second offer, this time to go to the temple and learn the craft of healing. This could be very useful with our gift -- if we are not very careful , the gift could go out of control and we could turn into a light-eater. Possibly they would teach us a measure of control and allow us to avoid that fate.

Or we can continue on as we have. We've made it this far in life without killing someone, and we've been tested as thoroughly as any man has, I think.



It is really very clever–more so than you would have given Taggart credit for. The letter could be safely read even by the inevitable interceptor working for Arthur Woodward.

And yet its true meaning is clear. His open door, his willingness to teach, his warning about those who exercise their untrained gift. He has given you an excuse to go see him, with his story about the fidelis, and he may be offering you hope, with the line about rekindling the flames of a life gone cold.



Vote 165: You do not have to make an irrevocable choice just yet, but what is your initial reaction?


#Give up the position of a respected physician to join his cult? No.


#To be true to who I really am, to join the fellowship I was always meant for? There's nothing I would rather do.

#I am tired of my life having so little meaning. I want to feel alive again. Perhaps joining the temple is the way to do that.

#I have nothing left. To leave behind the trappings of my old life, to go somewhere different and become someone new…Yes. Yes, that's exactly what I want.

#I never intend to stand helpless by anyone's bedside ever again. Yes, I want to learn the healer's art.

#I can't see myself doing it—can't see much of a future at all, in fact. Nothing matters.


That's a reaction, not a decision.

But the day is still not over!



It's a slow morning at the surgery–fortunately, since you have much to think about. You think in circles and spirals, never quite coming to a conclusion before veering away from it.

To your surprise, Arthur Woodward walks into your consulting rooms.

He is not ill, he assures you.

You offer him a chair, wondering what on earth he wants.


Woodward? Arthur Woodward? What does he want?



You seem to vaguely remember he was at the funeral. Which at least means he is not here to offer his sympathies, so you will not be obligated to discuss it.
Woodward rests his elbows on the chair arms and tents his fingers. "Doctor, I want you to come back to work for me. I understand why you resigned when you did, but we move in dangerous times. The threat from Vlask may be dampened at the moment, but it is not extinguished. And meanwhile, matters on the homefront are becoming dire."


"I am particularly worried about the growing strength of this 'Free Mercia' group," Woodward goes on. "Some of them write stories for magazines, and articles and whatnot, and they are having annoying success in shaping the perceptions of the everyday person. I have begun to see political cartoons, yellow-backed novels, even children's stories that portray government servants as thugs too quick to use violence, or light-eaters equivalent to ghosts and ghouls from country superstition. Or even light-eaters as misunderstood heroes." Woodward snorts in outrage and contempt. "Dangerous, seditious nonsense. We need something to combat it."




Vote 166:

#"And I come into this how?"

#"I have been attempting to combat it from here, by encouraging peaceful behavior."

#"I have been attempting to combat it from here. I can tell you who the worst of the agitators are."





"Your gift with words is obvious. In addition to retuning to work for me in your previous capacity, I would like you to write a series of stories about your adventures with Finch–defeating light-eaters and Vlaski spies, solving crimes committed against the Empire, and so forth."

"About my adventures with Finch in your employ? Doesn't that negate the effectiveness of your secret office?"

"Well, we'd have to do something about that. Make him a…police inspector, or some such, and you a police surgeon? Change the names. But I think you see the idea. I have an editor of a popular magazine willing to publish them if you are willing to write them."

You are torn between the idea of immortalizing your dead friend and the pain of having to relive it all. "You want me to be the mythmaker for the establishment."

"Exactly." Woodward heaves himself to his feet. "I don't expect an immediate answer. Give it some thought. If you wish to discuss the matter further, come and dine with me tonight at eight."



He wants me to write stories ... where have I heard this before...?



Vote 167:
#The idea is insulting. To return to work for the government that has so betrayed its own ideals? Never.

#The idea is painful. To relive all those glorious days again—and look up from the page to my current barren life? I couldn't.

#The idea is…warming. To be part of that fellowship again? To not be alone? It deserves careful thought.

#The idea is unexpected. I will need to spend time getting used to it before I can ever think about seriously entertaining it.

#The idea is…irrelevant. It doesn't matter. Nothing matters.






You spend the rest of that day feeling as though you stand on a precipice. After a time, you give up on the idea of working and go for a walk, moving slowly through the brisk air.

It is almost as though you can see the paths of your life unfurling under your feet, stretching away from you in all directions.

You could accept Taggart's offer, go to his temple, learn to train your inborn talent.

You could accept Alexandra's offer, join Free Mercia, and work against the Empire you have so long defended.

You could accept Woodward's offer and return to the fold, supporting the government in its campaign against enemies foreign and domestic.

Or you could return to the East End, pose as a target, and use your inborn talent to take down as many of the bastards as come after you. You wouldn't last long doing that, but you expect you could drain a great many lives through the palm of your hand before one of them killed you.




Vote 168: This is the moment. Which do you choose?

#I accept Taggart's offer and join the healers.

#I accept Alexandra's offer and join Free Mercia.

#I accept Woodward's offer and return to government service.

#I resolve to spend what remains of my life cleaning up the horrors of the East End by draining the lives of those who deserve it.



So this is the major decision. THE decision which I've been pushing towards this entire night. And of all the votes we've taken, this may very well be the most important.

Shall we learn the craft of healing , and to control our gift?

Or shall we go V for Vendetta and slap on a guy fawkes mask with Alexandra?

Or rejoin Woodward to defend the Empire both from the Vlaski Empire and Free Mercia. While Townsend appears to be Chaotic Good, she is not the professor. If Alexandra is to the Professor as Finch was to Woodward -- then the goodness of the underling may not necessarily mean they're serving something good.

The last choice means we will willingly become a lighteater and a vigilante. Sort of like Batman except the Batman didn't kill people. Maybe sort of a combination of Batman and the Joker? Jokerman?

...

At any rate, that is our big decision. Have your votes in by Monday, 5 Dec, 2016, 5:30PM -- and we will set the course of our journey irrevocably.

By the way, this is why I was so careful about the decision to sacrifice Doctor Horn -- because if you do that, you have exactly one way to avoid Woodward's institution, and that is to head down to the temple and surrender to Taggert. After detoxification (much like a drug rehab clinic), you will be required to sign on with the healers, on pain of being turned over to the tender mercies of the law i.e. Woodward.

By refusing to take that path, we now have FIVE paths open to us rather than only one. Although you may have noticed a certain degree of moralism in the tone -- I'll tell you flat out that the serial killer path (option 5) does not end happily. But then, you probably guessed that.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-12-03, 09:36 AM
Whew. Saved by the spy.

160)Stammering a little from the closeness of that shave, I tell her I was called out to see a patient.
We owe it to her to be honest.
I think Alexandra might be called an 'enemy with benefits'.

161)"You saved my life. Thank you."
Well, she did.

162)I decline, but I pull out a matchbox and light hers.
Doctors don't smoke.

163)Children died under the feet of a mech in Dunleitir. A cholera epidemic just ripped through the laborer quarter because no one could be bothered to properly maintain a cesspool. Yes, it's time I took a hand in ending these horrors.
We need a purpose in our life. We can't just mope around for the rest of our life. And the government is really crappy.

164)I appreciate Taggart's circumspection. Not one sentence in this letter would compromise my reputation if someone else saw it.
https://memecrunch.com/meme/2RE3O/you-clever-bastard/image.png?w=500&c=1

165)I am tired of my life having so little meaning. I want to feel alive again. Perhaps joining the temple is the way to do that.
Again, purpose. And controlling our powers is a pretty good calling.

166)"I have been attempting to combat it from here, by encouraging peaceful behavior."
This ties back to the patient at the start of the chapter.

167)The idea is unexpected. I will need to spend time getting used to it before I can ever think about seriously entertaining it.
Really just want to keep options open here. Although it would be fun to write not!Sherlock Holmes stories.

Well.... this is it. The Big Decision. And I say....
http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/keep-calm-and-vive-la-resistance-1.png
168)I accept Alexandra's offer and join Free Mercia.
The government is terrible. We need to do something about it.
And even if the Professor isn't as good as Alexandra, people low in the order often have a surprising amount of control (https://xkcd.com/898/).
So.... here we go. The titular Crossroads are upon us.

Also, my take on the characters' alignments!
Alexandra= CG
Taggart= NG
Woodward= LN
Finch= LG
Watson right now= NG
Watson as a vigilante= CG at first, quickly descending into CN and then CE as the light-eating addiction takes hold
Vlaskeri light-eater nobility= LE

Markozeta
2016-12-03, 03:33 PM
Tell ya what; if possible I'll try to work in some of the alternate passages in to the posts -- if I can do so without making these even longer than they are.

It's your forum game. If I want my own game, I know where to get the book. :smallbiggrin:.

I'm going to follow the awesome black socks for the most part here.

Vote 160:
C) Stammering a little from the closeness of that shave, I tell her I was called out to see a patient.

Vote 161: What do you say?
D)You killed him.

Vote 162:
C)I decline, but I pull out a matchbox and light hers.

Vote 163: what is your initial reaction?
D) I am tired of my life having so little meaning. I want to feel alive again. Perhaps joining Free Mercia is the way to do that.

Vote 164:
C) I have to admire Taggart's craftiness in getting his message across.

Vote 165: What is your initial reaction?
C) I am tired of my life having so little meaning. I want to feel alive again. Perhaps joining the temple is the way to do that.

Vote 166:
B)"I have been attempting to combat it from here, by encouraging peaceful behavior.

Vote 167:
D)The idea is unexpected. I will need to spend time getting used to it before I can ever think about seriously entertaining it.

Vote 168: This is the moment. Which do you choose?

B) I accept Alexandra's offer and join Free Mercia.

The last choice means we will willingly become a lighteater and a vigilante. Sort of like Batman except the Batman didn't kill people. Maybe sort of a combination of Batman and the Joker? Jokerman?

This appeals to me. Can we save our game here and follow some of these other paths after our death? (As perhaps a new thread)

Mister Tom
2016-12-03, 05:56 PM
!!!
Wasn't sure we'd survive that one, but glad we did. (@Blacksocks- nope, not a doctor, just know random stuff- and the good doctor is I think a man of his word.)

So, choices time...


Vote 160:

# Stammering a little from the closeness of that shave, I tell her I was called out to see a patient.
why not the truth?

#"You saved my life. Thank you."
#I decline, but I pull out a matchbox and light hers.


Ironically, it's because a lot of doctors did smoke that the link between smoking and cancer was definitively made. But I think my chest wants. E to be in the control group.



Vote 163:
#I never before considered such a course. Now that I am considering it, I hardly know what to think.

Whatever we decide, I'm glad to have her as a frenemy

#I appreciate Taggart's circumspection. Not one sentence in this letter would compromise my reputation if someone else saw it.

Gotta pad those stats;-)

#I never intend to stand helpless by anyone's bedside ever again. Yes, I want to learn the healer's art.

And I come into this how?


#The idea is unexpected. I will need to spend time getting used to it before I can ever think about seriously entertaining it.

And lastly...


#I accept Taggart's offer.

Rationalist or no rationalist, I have lost a lot of trust in Woodward and I definitely don't trust the professor, whoever they may be.

smuchmuch
2016-12-03, 08:14 PM
This appeals to me. Can we save our game here and follow some of these other paths after our death? (As perhaps a new thread) *

So far, Pendel hasn't fully shown the big alternate pathes in the games we've been through. I suppose partly out of respect to the game makers and so that people have a reason to y'know, buy the game, since in CYOA game the choice is supposed to be the big factor; and also because it'd take very long)
Showing us the alternate path here was, it hink rather exceptional in account of how much that would have punished us and feeling of growing audience frustration.
I will though that in this game i would be quite interested in seeing the alternate pathes, if that is an option.

C) Stammering a little from the closeness of that shave, I tell her I was called out to see a patient.

#"Good shot."
We're no slouches ourselves and we know it when we see it.

#I decline, but I pull out a matchbox and light hers.
A classic noir gesture (even if it's supposed to be more steampunk)

#Children died under the feet of a mech in Dunleitir. A cholera epidemic just ripped through the laborer quarter because no one could be bothered to properly maintain a cesspool. Yes, it's time I took a hand in ending these horrors.
I think Watson is ripe for that.

#I have to admire Taggart's craftiness in getting his message across.
Definitively

#I am tired of my life having so little meaning. I want to feel alive again. Perhaps joining the temple is the way to do that.
Once again something Watson would be comfortable doing.

#"And I come into this how?"
While the second option would be just as true, i feel Watson might feel some slight hostility for Woodward int he circumstances.

#The idea is unexpected. I will need to spend time getting used to it before I can ever think about seriously entertaining it.

On one hand, Watson is probably none too happy about working for the Mercian governement again. ... On the other hand we did some good work, and Free Mercia has shown they were dazngerous, even if just out naiveté (see a certain dirigeable sabotage)...

And finaly:

#I accept Taggart's offer and join the healers.

That should balance the votes. Let Randomella decide
I will say i would prefer working for Woodward, secret light eater army or not, mostly because of the detective aspect of the job but with two votes for Free Mercia out of four players fol:llowing this, I couldn't tip the scales.

pendell
2016-12-04, 03:20 PM
This appeals to me. Can we save our game here and follow some of these other paths after our death? (As perhaps a new thread)


Sorry, Markozeta. That wouldn't be fair to Heather Albano and her compatriots who gave me their permission to run the game. From their perspective, showing one possible path out of many would whet the appetite to buy the book, but if I comprehensively covered all the paths, making a purchase of the book unnecessary, I'd be cheating them. And it's not like $4.99 is an unreasonable price for a book.

So while I would be willing to back up from a non-standard game over to the last possible decision and go down a new path, so that we can get a happy or at least a satisfying ending, I wouldn't be willing to cover all the major branches in that fashion.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2016-12-05, 10:51 PM
Let's see what we've got ...

160) # Stammering a little from the closeness of that shave, I tell her I was called out to see a patient.

161) #"You saved my life. Thank you."

162) #I decline, but I pull out a matchbox and light hers.

163) Children died under the feet of a mech in Dunleitir. A cholera epidemic just ripped through the laborer quarter because no one could be bothered to properly maintain a cesspool. Yes, it's time I took a hand in ending these horrors.

164) I appreciate Taggart's circumspection. Not one sentence in this letter would compromise my reputation if someone else saw it.
circumspection - 13
craftiness - 12

165) I am tired of my life having so little meaning. I want to feel alive again. Perhaps joining the temple is the way to do that.

166) "I have been attempting to combat it from here, by encouraging peaceful behavior.
encourage peaceful behavior - 95
come into this - 74

167) The idea is unexpected. I will need to spend time getting used to it before I can ever think about seriously entertaining it.


And now the moment we've all been waiting for ...


:drumroll:


168)
#I accept Taggart's offer and join the healers.

Free Mercia - 20
Healers - 61

Randomella seems to want a peaceful life. Or perhaps she has a lust for magical power (I know *I* would have -- but maybe not at the cost of leaving society).

Let's walk through it!

160) # Stammering a little from the closeness of that shave, I tell her I was called out to see a patient.



"Of course," she says as you get to your feet. "I should have known."

In a businesslike manner, Alexandra goes to prod the body of the footpad with her boot. He is very definitely dead.


161) #"You saved my life. Thank you."



"He had it coming. I know this one. He's slit the throats of other easy marks."

"Weren't you concerned about his companions?"

"Given who I work for?" Alexandra grins. "Not at all. They know better. The Professor takes care of his own."


We light her cigarette.



Smoke wreaths about both your faces.

"I heard," she says abruptly. "About your wife." She makes eye contact. "You have my deepest condolences. I'm so sorry."

After a brief silence, she goes on, "We could use you, you know. In the Resistance. You've been walking my streets for quite some time now, Doctor—isn't it time you joined the effort to clean them? The Professor would welcome someone of your skill, and you know the cause is just. You've seen—" She gestures. "—the horrors of the East End. In all their glory. Come help us put them to an end."

When you don't answer immediately, she adds, "There's a meeting tomorrow night. If you want to come, meet me at the Ten Bells at eleven, and I'll bring you along." She gives you a genuinely friendly smile in farewell. "Take care getting home, now," she says, and walks off, leaving the body of the footpad on the cobblestones.

You do not have to make an irrevocable choice just yet, but what is your initial reaction?



Children died under the feet of a mech in Dunleitir. A cholera epidemic just ripped through the laborer quarter because no one could be bothered to properly maintain a cesspool. Yes, it's time I took a hand in ending these horrors.

Compassionate: 54 Pragmatic: 46
Conventional: 44 Unconventional: 56



You wake the next morning nauseated, bleary-eyed, your head pounding like a steam-engine and your old injury throbbing in a dull counterpoint. You stumble down to the breakfast table.


We read Taggert's letter. We appreciate his circumspection.



It is really very clever–more so than you would have given Taggart credit for. The letter could be safely read even by the inevitable interceptor working for Arthur Woodward.

And yet its true meaning is clear. His open door, his willingness to teach, his warning about those who exercise their untrained gift. He has given you an excuse to go see him, with his story about the fidelis, and he may be offering you hope, with the line about rekindling the flames of a life gone cold.



And our response is

"I am tired of my life having so little meaning. I want to feel alive again. Perhaps joining the temple is the way to do that."

Compassionate: 46 Pragmatic: 54

Next we speak to woodward. We've been trying to encourage peaceful behavior.



"Much appreciated, but I believe you can be more effective working from my office." Woodward leans forward. "Your gift with words is obvious. In addition to retuning to work for me in your previous capacity, I would like you to write a series of stories about your adventures with Finch–defeating light-eaters and Vlaski spies, solving crimes committed against the Empire, and so forth."



Our response: The idea is unexpected. I will need to spend time getting used to it before I can ever think about seriously entertaining it.



You spend the rest of that day feeling as though you stand on a precipice. After a time, you give up on the idea of working and go for a walk, moving slowly through the brisk air.

It is almost as though you can see the paths of your life unfurling under your feet, stretching away from you in all directions.

You could accept Taggart's offer, go to his temple, learn to train your inborn talent.

You could accept Alexandra's offer, join Free Mercia, and work against the Empire you have so long defended.

You could accept Woodward's offer and return to the fold, supporting the government in its campaign against enemies foreign and domestic.

Or you could return to the East End, pose as a target, and use your inborn talent to take down as many of the bastards as come after you. You wouldn't last long doing that, but you expect you could drain a great many lives through the palm of your hand before one of them killed you.


We choose to accept Taggart's offer and join the healers.



That very evening, you head for the temple. You tell yourself that being ostracized from your former life will not trouble you, because you go to attain something far more valuable.




Once face-to-face with Taggart, you find yourself mute. You stand before him, trying to articulate your fears, your hopes, your misgivings, but you cannot find the words.

He seems to understand anyhow. "Dr. Watson," he says, perhaps for the benefit of the acolyte who opened the door to you. "You have come to aid me in my attempt to heal the man of whom I spoke. How very good of you." The door closes behind the acolyte, and Taggart walks around his desk to face you. "I think between the two of us," he says quietly, "we should be able to save his life." And he holds out his hand. "You are very welcome here."


Achievement: Healer : Became a Sun Temple Healer


As a special bonus, I'll roll it back a bit and show you the addict's path, if you had
become addicted to light-eating and surrendered to Taggart.


You don't know how long you've been in this room.

Sometimes you think it is Pierce's prison cell. You were captured by light-eaters, after all, just as he
was–

In more lucid moments, you recognize that the facts do not support this hypothesis. The air around you
is moist, not dry. Mercian, unmistakably. Pierce's cell was "furnished" only with manacles attached to
the wall and a bucket in the corner; yours has all the necessities you could ask for and even a luxury
or two. A comfortable enough bed, an attached washroom, changes of clothing, even a shelf full of
reading material you can't keep your mind on and visits by people you don't want to see. Food is
delivered three times a day, though you don't have any interest in it either. All that makes it a prison
is the lock on the door, and you can't remember how and why you came to be here–

Full awareness returns sporadically, always with a crash. In those moments, you remember—

#Agreeing to Taggart's conditions. After being cured of this compulsion, I will serve the community
as a member of the temple.


#Trying to run when I heard Taggart's conditions.

#Agreeing to Taggart's conditions, but planning to sneak away at the first opportunity.


#Agreeing to Taggart's conditions, but keeping my options open. Perhaps I will steal away in the future.

#Arguing against Taggart's conditions. After being cured, I want to re-enter my life.

But Taggart has made it clear that unless you become a member of the temple and train as a healer, he will turn you over to the authorities as a light-eater.

There is nothing left to go back to in any case. You have done the one thing Grace could not forgive. She said goodbye by letter before leaving Kingsford, headed you know not where.

The key scrapes in the lock, and Taggart enters, carrying this evening's rat.

The rats are the most disgusting part of this. You have no interest in food because the nourishment
your body craves comes from absorbing the light of fellow human beings. Or, in a pinch, rats.


#I attack Taggart.

#I rush past him, for the corridor.

#I can hear the blood singing through his veins from here. I find myself lunging for him without
consciously deciding to do so.

#The compulsion washes through me, but I resist it. I clench my hands tight and stay seated
on the bed.

#I turn my face to the wall. "I don't want to talk to you. Leave me alone and let me die in peace."

Let's attack him.

You can't tell how it happens–you can never tell how it happens–but you find yourself flat on your back at Taggart's feet, feeling as though you have just bounced off a wall. Just like all the other times you've tried this. "You're going to have to give it up sometime, lad," Taggart says. "I can do this all day." He sets the rat cage down on the table. "They tell me you didn't touch your morning or midday tray. Have a rat?"

#"Draining rats is disgusting. I don't need to do this any longer."


#"How much longer am I going to suffer from this hideous compulsion?"

#"Are you breaking new medical ground with this treatment for light-eating?"

#"This practice is incredibly cruel."

Let's go with "This practice is incredibly cruel."

"To the rat? There are levels of cruelty. It is far less cruel than allowing you to eat people,
or allowing you to suffer from the compulsion without any mitigation or gradual weaning.
The latter has proven ineffective as well as inhumane, as it turns out. We halve the chance
of relapse when we do it this way.

"There is even an argument to be made," Taggart goes on, "that is less cruel to the rat than
being caught by the kitchen cat. And it would be caught; we keep cats for a reason. I prefer to
allow the cats to torment and eat rats than allow the rats to eat the pantry stores that we need
to feed the orphanage children. There are levels of cruelty. But I doubt you're very interested
in hearing me talk philosophy."

Taggart leans against the wall, arms folded. It looks like a casual movement, like a letting down
of his guard, except you tried to attack him once when he was leaning like this, and you wound up flat on your back at his feet with no idea how it had happened. "I assume you're not hungry for food? If you are, I will happily supply that in addition or instead."

The idea is nauseating, in a way that draining the life from the rat is horribly not. "No."

"Then perhaps there is some other service I can provide for you?"

#"Just get out of here. Leave me in peace."


#"Just get out of here. And…leave the rat."

#"Perhaps we could…play cards, or something. If you can spare the time."


#"I find I can't keep my mind on a book. I dislike being treated as an invalid, but since it seems I
am, perhaps you could spare half an hour to read something."

#"I wouldn't mind someone to talk to, if you can spare the time."


Let's read a book. We get these options:

#A sea adventure.

#History. Maybe it will put me to sleep.

#A mystery is most likely to take my mind off the thirst that claws my throat.

Taggart pulls the book from the shelf, takes the room's single chair–pushed carefully against
the wall–and reads for literally hours, until you drop asleep.

The daily routine goes on as before. You are present and lucid for more of it each day. The daily ration of rats goes from three, to two, to one. One day Taggart comes in with potfuls of greenery instead of the familiar cage, and announces you will be replacing rats with plants. The plants are nowhere near as satisfying, and for a while the raging thirst consumes most of your waking hours once more.

Finally it fades, and your appetite for food begins to return. You are as worn down from your ordeal as from any long illness
and confinement–thin and weak–but perhaps now that you wish to eat, that will get better.

"Is there anything else I can do for you?" Taggart asks when he comes to collect your evening soup bowl.

#"No, thank you, sir."
#"Perhaps we could…play cards, or something. If you can spare the time."
#"I wouldn't mind someone to talk to, if you can spare the time."

Let's play cards.

"I have nothing but time," Taggart assures you, and gets the cards.

"Somehow one never envisions a holy man gambling," you comment.

"Oh, I play for high stakes all the time." Taggart gives you a smile. "Sometimes I win."

"We're going for a walk," Taggart tells you in the morning. "Just one circuit around the temple, at
whatever pace you can. You'll be seeing people for the first time since you came here." He locks eyes
with you. "The physical compulsion is gone. Which means you are once again free to choose. And the price
of my mercy is that you choose, now and each time you encounter the temptation, to forgo the pleasure of
light-eating." More gently, he adds, "I know you can. You wouldn't have come here, if you hadn't wanted
to stop. Let's go for a walk."

He's right; no physical compulsion propels you toward the people you meet that day. The singing light
inside some of them attracts you, like a fine glass of wine or a delicacy on a dessert tray, but you are
capable of choosing not to.

Taggart accompanies you on increasingly lengthy outings, until finally it is clear he acts more as an
escort than a guard. "I think we're done with the cell," he says finally. "Let me show you to the room
you'll have from now on, and tomorrow, you can begin as an acolyte and full member of the community."

#Joining the temple as an acolyte is exactly what I want.

#Joining the temple as an acolyte is not at all what I want.

#I'm not certain of this life-path, but I am willing to try it.

#It may as well be this. I have nowhere else to go.



At any rate, we pass through that path and now we are an acolyte, but this time willlingly.



The sun medallion is an unusual weight around your neck, and the quiet of the temple echoes in your ears.

Within, there is of course no machinery to murmur and clack, and the stone walls are thick enough to muffle the noise from the traffic outside. Earlier, you heard cheerful bustle out in the corridors, but now, with night fallen, the little room you have been given is absolutely silent.




Vote 169:

# A wondrous feeling of peace reaches out and envelopes me. I can feel my heart rate slowing.
# The silence unnerves me. I find myself unable to sleep for listening to it.
# I don't object to the silence exactly, but I dislike having so much time to think.
# It all feels dark and empty, within and without.


After that reaction , we press on:

You have just finished dressing the following morning when you hear a tap at your door. Opening it,
you find the abrasive red-haired gate guard, who was introduced to you last night as Healer Gavin Chase.

"Morning services start in a few minutes," he says without preamble or greeting. "The Aurifer sent me
for you."

You have inferred by context that "the Aurifer" is Taggart's official title, but you haven't yet
discovered what it means. Chase turns without waiting for you to answer, and you hurry after him.

He says nothing as you walk, and seems to be attempting to maintain a pace too quick for you to match.


Vote 170: What do you say?

#"So then, what goes on in these morning services?"


#"Can I ask you what 'Aurifer' means?"


#"It was very kind of Taggart–of the Aurifer–to offer me a place here."


#"Are we in a hurry?"




Mr. Red-hair is going to come back with something sarcastic and nasty whatever we say, so


Vote 171:

#"Have I done something to offend you, Healer?"


#"Do you have a problem, Chase?"

#I say nothing.





Chase swings to look at you for the first time. "In fact, you have." In a lower, more menacing voice, he says, "I haven't forgotten what you
used to be, even if Taggart is willing to overlook it. But that's the Aurifer for you—more kind than smart. Lucky he has the rest of us
looking out for him."

The morning services are held in the inner temple. The name of the room sounds like it should be something grand, but it is simply furnished within, and lit only by a single candle. What seem to be entirety of the temple's residents sit in straight-backed chairs arranged in a double semi-circle. All of them seem to be holding unlit candles, but there is nothing else unusual about their demeanor. They are chatting with each other, and they wear everyday clothing.

Taggart is standing at one of the semi-circle's ends, talking to the man seated there. He glances up when you and Chase enter, nods as if to say, "There you are," and waves you both to chairs.

You sit, uncertainly.

The woman on Chase's other side hands him two candles, and he passes one to you.

"It's always something of a blessing to have a newcomer," Taggart says in an easy voice. "Explaining what we do helps us remember why. We come together every morning to remember the daily miracle of the rising Sun, whose light nourishes us all–" He reaches for the lit candle, removing it from the wall sconce. "–and to remember also how that light is spread." He touches the candle to the unlit one held by the man with whom he was speaking. "One tiny spark at a time, through the work of each pair of hands." Taggart moves to light the candles of the other three people seated at the semi-circle's ends. As he talks, they all turn to light the candles of those seated beside them, who turn to their other neighbors, and the light slowly spreads all over the room. "We all spread this light. We all tend this flame."

"We all spread this light, we all tend this flame," the crowd murmurs around you.



#The uniform chant makes me twitch. They all recite by rote, not varying or questioning or thinking for themselves.

#I take a breath and let it out. There's a wonderful sort of clarity to this statement of shared purpose. I've missed being part of a community with a common goal.

#They all seem so very certain, so serene. I remember my grandmother's face looking like that. It would be…nice, to be that certain of something.

#There's a sense of peace here, an almost tangible presence like a hand on my shoulder. For the first time since Grace's death, I don't feel alone.



Four votes ... I think that's enough. We should get to some real decisions soon enough.

So go ahead and react, and we'll start our healer training on Wednesday, 6 December, 2016, 5:30 PM

See you then!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-12-06, 06:35 PM
Randomella has spoken. I suppose La Revolution will have to wait.
http://i.imgur.com/WLRV4HT.gif

169)The silence unnerves me. I find myself unable to sleep for listening to it.
Absolute silence creeps me out.

170)"Are we in a hurry?"
Since he'll answer rudely anyways, it doesn't really matter what we say.

171)"Have I done something to offend you, Healer?"
http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/096/044/trollface.jpg?1296494117

172)The uniform chant makes me twitch. They all recite by rote, not varying or questioning or thinking for themselves.
Pretty much how I feel when exposed to organized religion. Also an understandable reaction for someone of Dr. Watson's background.

smuchmuch
2016-12-07, 12:38 AM
# It all feels dark and empty, within and without.

I think Watson is still reeling.

#"Can I ask you what 'Aurifer' means?"

I believe it means 'bearer of gold', if vlaski is anything like latin, which make sense given the whiole 'sun worship' thing.

#"Have I done something to offend you, Healer?"

Well of course we needed some conflict no matter the route we take.

#They all seem so very certain, so serene. I remember my grandmother's face looking like that. It would be…nice, to be that certain of something.

it would be but Watson not int he right frame of min d for this yet, yet it'ss till his choice to come in the first place.

Markozeta
2016-12-07, 11:32 AM
Vote 169:
D.)It all feels dark and empty, within and without.

Vote 170: What do you say?
D.)Are we in a hurry?

Vote 171:
A.)Have I done something to offend you, Healer?

Vote 172:
A.)The uniform chant makes me twitch. They all recite by rote, not varying or questioning or thinking for themselves.

The depression is wearing off, slowly. The scientific mind would not understand the ritualistic nature, nor the offense his willing, uncompromising presence brings to the table. To me, these all seem within character.

pendell
2016-12-07, 10:50 PM
Pretty much how I feel when exposed to organized religion. Also an understandable reaction for someone of Dr. Watson's background.


*Chuckle* If you watch, some people (i.e. me) flat shut up during certain parts; I don't believe it, so I won't say it.

Even so, I come from a background where the pastor is supposed to come up with the entire thing by himself. After several sittings through a meandering topic based on nothing much, a standardized thingamabob can be a breath of fresh air.

But I digress.

169)
# It all feels dark and empty, within and without.

170)"Are we in a hurry?"

171)"Have I done something to offend you, Healer?"

172) The uniform chant makes me twitch. They all recite by rote, not varying or questioning or thinking for themselves.


Executing!

"It all feels dark and empty."



You have just finished dressing the following morning when you hear a tap at your door. Opening it, you find the abrasive red-haired gate guard, who was introduced to you last night as Healer Gavin Chase.

"Morning services start in a few minutes," he says without preamble or greeting. "The Aurifer sent me for you."

You have inferred by context that "the Aurifer" is Taggart's official title, but you haven't yet discovered what it means. Chase turns without waiting for you to answer, and you hurry after him.

He says nothing as you walk, and seems to be attempting to maintain a pace too quick for you to match.


Are we in a hurry?



"We're all quite busy here," Chase says without looking at you. "Not quite the life of ease you might have been expecting."


Have I done something to offend you?



Chase swings to look at you for the first time. "In fact, you have." In a lower, more menacing voice, he says, "I haven't forgotten what you used to be, even if Taggart is willing to overlook it. But that's the Aurifer for you—more kind than smart. Lucky he has the rest of us looking out for him."


We enter the service, and the uniform chant makes us twitch. We don't like people surrendering their minds like this.



Taggart makes eye contact with you. "Not everyone is blessed with the talent to heal, but every member of the community can help with healing. The fideles give a bit of themselves every morning, so the healers can use it throughout the day. Gavin?"

Chase rises and comes to the front of the room. To your surprise, Taggart replaces him in the seat beside you.


Conventional: 43 Unconventional: 57



Chase is donning a green half-mask, saying some ritualized words, but you hardly hear them. Taggart's whisper drowns them out. "It should be me up there," he explains. "That's what 'Aurifer' means–the senior healer of the temple holds the auras of all the fideles—all the faithful who come to worship. 'Aura' is an old word for the light we carry within us. Back in the day, the Aurifer stood up there every morning, and every member of the faith knelt to give him a little light."

Various of the assembled temple residents rise, make their way to the front, cover the upper half of their faces with the golden mask Chase hands to them, and kneel at his feet. He rests his palms on the backs of their hands for a few moments apiece.


So that's how they do healing. Everyone donates a little, which is then funnelled back out to the people. Of course, in Vlask the 'healers' take a great deal and keep it for themselves.



"Back in the day, this service would be followed immediately by another, in which the Aurifer wore the golden mask and gave to any of the fideles in need. But we've altered the ritual a little, to more practically meet the needs of the modern world. The village does not come to the temple for worship or healing on a daily basis any longer. Instead, my healers and I walk the city streets. So it makes more sense for us to take turns playing at Aurifer–though the title stays mine, for other reasons. And it makes no sense for one healer to drain himself to benefit another, so we take light only from those who are not blessed with the healing gift, or who will not be in a position to use their gift that day." That seems to be about half the adults in the room. No children go forward.

You watch Chase reach to take another kneeling man's hands.




Vote 173:

A The tranquil expression on his face surprises me. I would not have thought fiery Chase could look so calm.

B The submissive posture of the kneeling man makes my skin crawl. For a moment I am breaking into Pierce's cell to rescue him from light-eaters.

C The entire tableau makes me uncomfortable. It looks like a painting of a Vlaski scene, a village worth of serfs kneeling before a bloated light-eater, made practically immortal through the forced "gift" of their lives.

D The expression on the kneeling man's face almost brings tears to my eyes. By giving of himself here, he has become part of the hands that save a life later. He knows he has taken part in something holy.


It occurs to me that Dr. Horn's true calling would be as a fidelis here. He's all thumbs as a doctor but he could save lives by making a small donation every other week or so. Sort of like donating blood, except less messy.


If choice A or D are selected, there is a follow up question.


Vote 173A (if choices A or D are selected)

You wonder if it would be considered polite to volunteer yourself.

A It might be, but there's no way I'm submitting voluntarily to light-eating.

B I came here to be part of this. I want to be part of this. I stand.

C I'm not sure of the etiquette, so I stay still.



If you choose B or C, the temple will respond to your offer, but what happens is dealt with in a paragraph or two. Regardless of whether you volunteer to donate or not, we quickly move on after the experience.



Breakfast is taken in the large kitchen, at one long rough-hewn table of the sort that might be found in an old-fashioned country kitchen. Over the bread and tea you meet too many people to keep all the names straight. You do manage to keep track of who goes with what title–there are tenders, healers, and acolytes. Acolytes are those studying to be healers. Tenders are those without healing talent, who "tend the flame" in other ways. They do not seem to be considered lesser in status to the healers; certainly they are not servants. Everyone here does quite a lot of menial work, all of it without the aid of modern conveniences.

"Worship is done with one's hands," Taggart explains. "The hands that till the field, that care for the child, that tend the sick, that protect the helpless, serve the Sun with their actions. The hands that take what is not theirs, or do violence against another for any reason but to stop violence being done, are poor servants. These modern conveniences you mention would separate my hands from their rightful work, were I to use them."

After breakfast, everyone disperses to their work–some outside temple walls, some within. Your work is to be learning. As one with healing talent, you are an acolyte.

You start with plants. Taggart takes you to the inner courtyard and turns you over to Alice, an older woman with a strawberry birthmark on her cheek and an air of quiet calm.

"The same light of the Sun," she begins, in the slight sing-song of one who often teaches children, "is found in every living creature. It is the spark that makes life possible–without it, there is no life, even if the heart beats and the blood pumps a while longer. When light is given to a human or animal, it increases their physical health. It enables the recipient's body to heal rapidly of wounds inflicted upon it–"

In your mind's eye, you see the flesh beneath your fingers knitting together–

"–and to fight off disease. Plants are much simpler creatures, so light given to plants merely makes them grow."

She looks to see that you understand. You nod.

"Today," she says, "we will tend the herbs together." She demonstrates, touching the leaf of a plant for a moment. Nothing happens that you can see, but then she turns to you. "Your turn," she says. "Give it light and make it grow."

Feeling a little foolish, you grasp the leaf.



Vote 174:

#I give the plant a very little bit of healing, to see what will happen.

#I'm not at all sure I can do this, or how much is enough. I push as much healing as I can into it.

#Instead of following her instructions, I try to drain life from the plant. Just to see what will happen.


Depending on the choice made, there can be quite a lot of follow up, so I think we'll stop here now. Let me know what we're going to do to this plant -- and whether we volunteer for donation -- on Friday, 9 Dec, 5:30PM. See you then! :)

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Markozeta
2016-12-08, 12:28 AM
Vote 173:
D The expression on the kneeling man's face almost brings tears to my eyes. By giving of himself here, he has become part of the hands that save a life later. He knows he has taken part in something holy.

We land in a realm of pragmatic here - he knows exactly what is going on, and understands how he can help. This makes the most sense for him to do - he came here to try to change the world, not sit and be upset.

Vote 173A (if choices A or D are selected):
C I'm not sure of the etiquette, so I stay still.

Trying to pump the unconventional stat.

Vote 174:
B.I'm not at all sure I can do this, or how much is enough. I push as much healing as I can into it.

This seems like an interesting choice here. I'll see what everyone else does.

Alandra
2016-12-08, 05:43 PM
A The tranquil expression on his face surprises me. I would not have thought fiery Chase could look so calm.

B I came here to be part of this. I want to be part of this. I stand.
Maybe Chase will like us a bit better if we try?

#I give the plant a very little bit of healing, to see what will happen.

No use in spending everything.

Black Socks
2016-12-08, 07:25 PM
It occurs to me that Dr. Horn's true calling would be as a fidelis here. He's all thumbs as a doctor but he could save lives by making a small donation every other week or so. Sort of like donating blood, except less messy.
The problem is, his blood-alcohol level is probably so high it might mess with the healing power. :smallamused:

173)The submissive posture of the kneeling man makes my skin crawl. For a moment I am breaking into Pierce's cell to rescue him from light-eaters.
Continuing with the 'uncomfortable with religion' theme.

174)I'm not at all sure I can do this, or how much is enough. I push as much healing as I can into it.
There's no kill like overkill.

pendell
2016-12-09, 08:22 PM
Continuing with the 'uncomfortable with religion' theme.


Indeed, Watson has lived his whole life as a rationalist and has reason to hate and fear light-eating. Nonetheless, we have two votes to volunteer -- one flavor or another -- and only one vote against, so the roll-off will be between the two "Aye" options.

tears - 57
tranquil expression - 23

And what do we do then?

etiquette - 72
want to be part - 74

The enthuisiastic choice, very well.

And finally, we push as much healing as we can into the plant.

Let's execute!

"The expression on the kneeling man's face almost brings tears to my eyes. By giving of himself here, he has become part of the hands that save a life later. He knows he has taken part in something holy."



You are briefly suffused with the desire to experience what he is experiencing.

You wonder if it would be considered polite to volunteer yourself.


"I came here to be part of this. I want to be part of this. I stand."



At least, you start to, but Taggart's gentle hand on your arm stops you.

"It's an admirable impulse," he says, "but not yet. We permit only those who can fully consent to take part in this, and you don't know enough yet to be of that number."


Hrm. They seem to run things differently than in Vlask. But I wager things were just as bad in Mercia , back when the temples had power.

Okay, let's see how much we can heal that plant.



You push all you have into the herb. It mutates into a monster and eats you. The End



Kidding! That's not what happens. What actually happens is ...



"Stop, stop!" Alice says. "That's more than enough. You'll wear yourself out to no good purpose. Try again, more gently. No, that's not quite enough. Try again."

The third time, you begin to get a sense of how it is supposed to feel. By the tenth time, it has become easy, but you are strangely tired.


Healing: 75



"That's enough for one morning," Alice declares. "You had better rest a little before the midday meal. Control can be more exhausting than the drain itself."

By the time a week has passed, you are able to tend all the plants to Alice's satisfaction, and feel at the end no more fatigue than you might after walking up a long flight of stairs. Thereafter, you are put into the rotation of healers and acolytes who tend the plants.


Healing: 81



"Now we move on to rats," Taggart says. "Alice will take your shift with the plants today, and you'll be working with me." He swings a cage up onto the table. Three big brown rats glare at you through the bars.

Taggart hands you the green mask. "Put that on; we do this with respect, even if it is a rat." He pulls on a thick work glove, reaches into the cage, and grasps a rat. It hisses and tries to bite him. "Now put your hand on it and drain a little of its light."



Vote 176:
# I attempt to obey and drain just a little.
# I'm afraid it's going to bite me. I drain a lot, but I stop before I kill it.
# I'm afraid I might accidentally kill it. I touch it only for an instant, taking almost nothing.


Although the path diverges, our healing score is high enough we should reach this paragraph eventually.



A sweet, sharp shock of energy tingles up your fingers.

"Good," Taggart says evenly. "Nicely controlled."

Hand me the mask a moment." He puts it on, then touches his ungloved hand to the back of the rat. Taggart's eyes close for a moment, and the rat shivers. Taggart takes his hand away, and the rat's trembling legs collapse underneath it. It watches you out of half-closed eyes, panting.

Taggart pushes the gold mask across the table to you. "Now heal it."

You slip the healer's sun-gold mask over your face and lay hands on the rat. Energy pours from your palms.



Healing is again high enough we should have auto-success.



"Good," Taggart says. "Excellent. Now we'll do it again."




Vote 177:

#"Are you going to drain it every time? Isn't that cruel to the rat?"

#"Can I hurt it by giving it too much?"

#"We really don't need to do this. I dabbled with healing enough to know what it should feel like…"



However we talk, Taggart is firm and we will do it again.




You spend what seems like an eternity over the next several days practicing your healing skills on rats, until at least you achieve the level of control Taggart wants.

"Excellent," he says then. "Now let's try something real." He pulls a knife from his pocket, flips it open, grits his teeth, and plunges it into the back of his hand.

You've seen worse, often, on the battlefield or in the surgery, but the urgency of the moment still snaps all your nerves alert. He's bleeding profusely, there could be muscle damage, Taggart needs his hands–

"You know how to do this," he says through set teeth. "Do it now."

You touch his skin.




Vote 178:

#I know how to do this.
#I—I can't do this. I pull away.
#Bleeding or not, his skin throbs with energy. The temptation to sample a little for myself is momentarily overwhelming–and so I taste just a little.


This'll be our last vote for the night, as there is some room for divergence in the choice here.

Finish this up properly, and we'll be fully trained as a healer and ready to start making people healthy! Give me your votes and we'll start making calls on Monday, December 12, 2016, 5:30PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-12-10, 10:47 AM
Quote Originally Posted by Steampunk

You push all you have into the herb. It mutates into a monster and eats you. The End

Kidding! That's not what happens. What actually happens is ...
My heart stopped for a second when I read that. *takes deep breaths*

176)I attempt to obey and drain just a little.
Best to just obey. Taggart knows more about this then we do.

177)"Can I hurt it by giving it too much?"
I am curious to know. Imagine if, by giving it too much, we could make it explode with life force in a rainbow of healing power.
Light-eat the rainbow. Taste the rainbow.

178)I know how to do this.
Although I am very curious as to where the third option leads, I am not willing to risk ruining the game by sending Watson down the light-eater's path. I should probably just buy the game so I can see for myself.

smuchmuch
2016-12-10, 01:29 PM
Indeed, Watson has lived his whole life as a rationalist and has reason to hate and fear light-eating. Nonetheless, we have two votes to volunteer -- one flavor or another -- and only one vote against, so the roll-off will be between the two "Aye" options.

He is just out of a preiod of greieving and psychological vulnerability which has caused him to loose everything he cared about and question everything he ever beleived in, tho. If anything now would be the best time to be overwhelmed and enthusiastic about the religion as Watson is desperately gripping to find new values and a new comunauty as an anchor.

# I attempt to obey and drain just a little.

#"Can I hurt it by giving it too much?"

That is a good question.
One wonder how exactly the healing power work, is it restorative (as int he damage toissue go back to being as they were before the woound somehow) or regenrative (as in they favor the regenration of tissues) and if it is the later, how does it determine what's the physiological 'normal' state. can one cause tumors or other anomral growth with too much healing energy ?

#Bleeding or not, his skin throbs with energy. The temptation to sample a little for myself is momentarily overwhelming–and so I taste just a little.

He's not a defensless victim so we're not going int he light eating path here, that temptation probably happens quite a bit with beggining healer and i'm curious what he'll say.

Markozeta
2016-12-12, 01:08 AM
Vote 176:
B.) I'm afraid it's going to bite me. I drain a lot, but I stop before I kill it.

Vote 177:
B.)"Can I hurt it by giving it too much?"

Vote 178:
C.) Bleeding or not, his skin throbs with energy. The temptation to sample a little for myself is momentarily overwhelming–and so I taste just a little.

Soo much curiosity, so few choices. At $4.99, why wouldn't I give this to everyone for Christmas? Torture them this way for a bit.

Mister Tom
2016-12-12, 04:20 PM
Vote 176:
# I attempt to obey and drain just a little
Vote 177:

#"Are you going to drain it every time? Isn't that cruel to the rat?

Vote 178:

#I know how to do this.



Have you tried... not being a light eater?

Alandra
2016-12-12, 05:12 PM
# I attempt to obey and drain just a little.

#"Are you going to drain it every time? Isn't that cruel to the rat?"

#I know how to do this.

I think a bit of confidence can't hurt.

Markozeta
2016-12-12, 06:01 PM
Have you tried... not being a light eater?

This made me laugh.

pendell
2016-12-12, 10:10 PM
Originally Posted by Mister Tom
Have you tried... not being a light eater?
This made me laugh.

The joke's going over my head. Help?

At any rate, we have five votes! And an undisputed outcome! I'm in Heaven.

Let's see ...


176) I attempt to obey and drain just a little.

177)"Can I hurt it by giving it too much?"

178)I know how to do this.

Hrm.. tell you what, it's only a paragraph, so I'll give a short alternate history vignette in which we attempt to .. taste the rainbow :smallamused:


Bleeding or not, his skin throbs with energy. The temptation to sample a little for myself is momentarily overwhelming–and so I taste just a little.

You feel the expected jolt under your palm–and then Taggart jerks away from you. You don't see quite how he does it, but you find yourself shoved to the floor. You look up to see him looming above you, tensed, hands raised in what looks like the pose of one trained in unarmed combat. The blood from the injury runs freely down his arm.

"Don't ever do that again," he says. "This isn't a game." And then, without breaking eye contact, "Gavin!"

The door opens, and the surly healer steps through.

"You're not alone in your lapse," Taggart explains to you. "This happens in perhaps one case out of five. So I always arrange for an extra pair of hands to be nearby. Gavin, can you–" It is Chase, not you, who heals Taggart's bleeding hand. And then Chase lingers, eyes suspiciously fixed on you, arms folded, leaning against the wall. "Back to rats," Taggart says. "Perhaps we'll try again in a week or two."

A grueling fortnight's worth of rats later, Taggart–this time with Chase in the room–again injures himself to let you try healing. This time, you behave appropriately and heal the injury.



So that's the name of that tune. You'd think Taggert had done this before, or something :smallamused:.

But let's move on to the "real" history.

First, we obey and try to drain just a little.


A sweet, sharp shock of energy tingles up your fingers.

"Good," Taggart says evenly. "Nicely controlled. Hand me the mask a moment." He puts it on, then touches his ungloved hand to the back of the rat. Taggart's eyes close for a moment, and the rat shivers. Taggart takes his hand away, and the rat's trembling legs collapse underneath it. It watches you out of half-closed eyes, panting.

Taggart pushes the gold mask across the table to you. "Now heal it."

You slip the healer's sun-gold mask over your face and lay hands on the rat. Energy pours from your palms.

"Good," Taggart says. "Excellent. Now we'll do it again."


"Can I hurt it by giving it too much?"



"No, you'll just make it a very healthy rat, but you might hurt yourself. Better to establish good control now, before there are people involved. Now try again."


Clearly Taggert has not encountered the Positive Energy Plane (http://pathfinderwiki.com/wiki/Positive_Energy_Plane), in which exposure to "too much energy" results in incineration. Maybe there's just no way for us to reach those levels.



You spend what seems like an eternity over the next several days practicing your healing skills on rats, until at least you achieve the level of control Taggart wants.

"Excellent," he says then. "Now let's try something real." He pulls a knife from his pocket, flips it open, grits his teeth, and plunges it into the back of his hand.

You've seen worse, often, on the battlefield or in the surgery, but the urgency of the moment still snaps all your nerves alert. He's bleeding profusely, there could be muscle damage, Taggart needs his hands–

"You know how to do this," he says through set teeth. "Do it now."

You touch his skin.


"I know how to do this".



The connection is instantaneous. Intimate. Energy rushes from your hand to his, and you push it along the paths it needs to follow, coating muscle and tendons and blood vessels with a mixture of your light and his until they have knit together.

"There we are." Taggart flexes his hand. "Nicely done. Feeling all right? Head still clear? Very good. Now we'll do it again. Only two or three more times–I must say I don't much like this part–and then you'll come on rounds with me. You can try healing real patients with me looking over your shoulder and stepping in if you need it."


Healing: 88

Right. I guess now we're the equivalent of an intern, if we're accompanying "Doctor" Taggart on his rounds.



The next morning dawns bright and clear, and you make your way to the usual morning service.

Light spreads from one candle to four to many. "We all spread this light, we all tend this flame," Taggart says, and you repeat the words with everyone else.



Vote 179:

# I've never meant any words more. They feel true as I say them. They feel right. I'd swear I can feel a warmth coating my skin—

# I've grown more comfortable saying the words. It's not the mindless repetition some call it—they serve as a touchstone, a way to achieve a desired mindset.

# I'm still uncomfortable with this part of my day, but these are good people, doing good works for their fellow men and women. There's no harm in saying the words.


Taggart dons the green mask and stands at the center of the room, and volunteers go to kneel before him and put their hands in his.


Vote 180:

#I go donate.

#I'm not ready yet.


This time he will accept your donation if you so desire. The story doesn't branch at this point but it does set a flag, so go ahead and make your choice.



You follow Taggart about his work for a few days, healing under his supervision when necessary. Finally he declares this part of your training done. "Now you've gotten your feet underneath you, you'll second Healer Elaine on her rounds."

Elaine is a tall, cool young woman, only just promoted from acolyte. She works outside the temple during the mornings, as a char-woman. Three afternoons a week, she is in charge of the makeshift charity run out of the back kitchen of the temple, which serves soup to all comers until the pot is empty and healing to anyone who needs it. The other two afternoons, she walks through the East End offering help where it is needed–"trying to make it better," as she phrases it, "one hot meal and blanket at a time."

During the first day, you feed hungry beggar children, heal the arm of a man who would have otherwise been unable to work for a month, put yourself between Elaine and a dangerous-looking madman who should really be comfortably cared for in some hospital, are shooed out of earshot when a young woman of the oldest profession wants to talk privately with Elaine, and have rocks thrown at you by an old man in a tattered Army sergeant's uniform, who reacts with horror to your sun medallion.

Taggart pulls up a chair beside you as supper is ending that night. "So, how are you?"

The question doesn't have a simple answer.



Vote 181:

#"I'm too shattered by exhaustion to know what I am feeling."

#"I'm exhilarated. It's been so long since my life felt like it had purpose."

#"I feel like I'm drowning. They need so much, and we can't possibly provide it…"

#"I was able to do much less healing than was needed. Perhaps it's time for me to benefit from donations from the tenders?"

#"It seems ridiculous that we should have to restrict ourselves to what we can personally give when there are so many bystanders out there."


There may be a followup based on your choices here, but the story doesn't branch so we'll move on to the next point.

And so your life falls into a pattern: morning services, breakfast, afternoon rounds, daily exercises designed to both increase your capacity for healing and allow you maintain control of your increasing power. You must control the talent and not allow it to control you, or you risk becoming the worst sort of light-eater, the feral animal kind driven only by its appetites.

In the colder months, the line for the clinic stretches to the end of the street, and the healers vary the pattern of their rounds, because even with donations from all the fideles, they haven't the strength to see to every coughing family that huddles in a single unheated room.



Vote 182:

#The situation makes me furious. I can think of a dozen reforms that could ameliorate this. How could any moral person oppose them?

#I am grateful that I have a foolproof method of really curing them—modern medicine played me false too many times and I am glad to have left it behind—but concerned that the need so exceeds our strength.

#Perhaps the solution is to train healers in the techniques of modern medicine as well, so they have more than one tool to hand.

#Neither modern medicine nor healing is sufficient on its own to address this need. We should be using a combination of the two.



If we go for choices 3 or 4, we will attempt to persuade Taggart to include modern medicine in his curriculum as well as straight healing. There is followup discussion on those questions. You have to ask yourself: Is this something you want to do? If you do, is Taggart open-minded enough to consider this option? And if he is, what is the most effective way to present it? And to what extent would our charisma bonus play into that?

Why don't you have your votes in on Wednesday, 14 Dec, 2016, 5:30PM, and we'll see how it goes!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Markozeta
2016-12-13, 07:15 AM
The joke's going over my head. Help?

I went a bit into the light-eater realm with my last response of questions. Tom just was telling me not to be so greedy.

Vote 179:
B.) I've grown more comfortable saying the words. It's not the mindless repetition some call it—they serve as a touchstone, a way to achieve a desired mindset.

Call me silly, but I still have my rituals before I delve into anything. Before a flight I check my bag three times, recite my schedule in my head twice, replay every possible scenario for any kind of encounter with the TSA. Some mindless tasks serve a purpose, even if it looks to be silly to everyone around me. This seems to be one of them.

Vote 180:
A.) I go donate.

We're not here to sell cookies.

Vote 181:
C.)"I feel like I'm drowning. They need so much, and we can't possibly provide it…"

Vote 182:
D.)Neither modern medicine nor healing is sufficient on its own to address this need. We should be using a combination of the two.

Mister Tom
2016-12-13, 01:34 PM
I went a bit into the light-eater realm with my last response of questions. Tom just was telling me not to be so greedy.

Vote 179:
B.) I've grown more comfortable saying the words. It's not the mindless repetition some call it—they serve as a touchstone, a way to achieve a desired mindset.

180:
A.) I go donate.[/color]

We're not here to sell cookies.

Vote 181:
C.)"I feel like I'm drowning. They need so much, and we can't possibly provide it…"

Vote 182:
D.)Neither modern medicine nor healing is sufficient on its own to address this need. We should be using a combination of the two.


Heh, I guess I was. it was intended as an adaptation of Iceman's mom in Xmen 2 (so... have you tried- not being a mutant?)

I concur wth all the above choices: we are indeed not here to sell cookies.

Alandra
2016-12-14, 05:17 PM
I'm not really original here. :smalltongue:

Vote 179:
B.) I've grown more comfortable saying the words. It's not the mindless repetition some call it—they serve as a touchstone, a way to achieve a desired mindset.

Vote 180:
A.) I go donate.

Vote 181:
C.)"I feel like I'm drowning. They need so much, and we can't possibly provide it…"

Vote 182:
D.)Neither modern medicine nor healing is sufficient on its own to address this need. We should be using a combination of the two. [/QUOTE]

pendell
2016-12-14, 09:45 PM
Unanimous consensus!


Vote 179)
I've grown more comfortable saying the words. It's not the mindless repetition some call it—they serve as a touchstone, a way to achieve a desired mindset.

Vote 180) I go donate.

Vote 181 )"I feel like I'm drowning. They need so much, and we can't possibly provide it…"

Vote 182)
Neither modern medicine nor healing is sufficient on its own to address this need. We should be using a combination of the two

So let's do it!


"I've grown more comfortable saying the words. It's not the mindless repetition some call it—they serve as a touchstone, a way to achieve a desired mindset."


Taggart dons the green mask and stands at the center of the room, and volunteers go to kneel before him and put their hands in his.


We do donate.



Taggart's eyes shine with pride. "I won't hurt you," he murmurs as he hands you the gold mask. "I promise. I thank you for the gift."

His hands on yours are deft and light, and indeed, the experience doesn't hurt. Quite the contrary; it is warm and soothing and very pleasant indeed. It leaves you with the same kind of lightheadedness that might follow loss of blood, but that passes after you eat breakfast.


I was hoping more for. "Will this hurt? Will this really hurt? I mean if it's .. AGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG

Oh well.



You follow Taggart about his work for a few days, healing under his supervision when necessary. Finally he declares this part of your training done. "Now you've gotten your feet underneath you, you'll second Healer Elaine on her rounds."

Elaine is a tall, cool young woman, only just promoted from acolyte. She works outside the temple during the mornings, as a char-woman. Three afternoons a week, she is in charge of the makeshift charity run out of the back kitchen of the temple, which serves soup to all comers until the pot is empty and healing to anyone who needs it. The other two afternoons, she walks through the East End offering help where it is needed–"trying to make it better," as she phrases it, "one hot meal and blanket at a time."

During the first day, you feed hungry beggar children, heal the arm of a man who would have otherwise been unable to work for a month, put yourself between Elaine and a dangerous-looking madman who should really be comfortably cared for in some hospital, are shooed out of earshot when a young woman of the oldest profession wants to talk privately with Elaine, and have rocks thrown at you by an old man in a tattered Army sergeant's uniform, who reacts with horror to your sun medallion.

Taggart pulls up a chair beside you as supper is ending that night. "So, how are you?"

The question doesn't have a simple answer.


"I feel like I'm drowning. They need so much, and we can't possibly provide it…"



"I know," Taggart says. "I know. We can't fix it all; we haven't the leverage. But we can fix today's problems, one hot meal and one blanket and one dose of healing at a time, and that's something. Elaine told me you had charge of a man who had broken his arm?"

"Yes."

"And what did he say to you?"

"That he was grateful–he would have been out of work a month or more while it healed, and his wife could have never managed to earn enough to keep the roof over their heads, and they have children…"

"Then that's not bad for one day, is it? And it gets easier, you know. Not easy, but easier."

He's right. It does get easier over subsequent days and weeks, though it never becomes easy.



Compassionate: 54 Pragmatic: 46



And so your life falls into a pattern: morning services, breakfast, afternoon rounds, daily exercises designed to both increase your capacity for healing and allow you maintain control of your increasing power. You must control the talent and not allow it to control you, or you risk becoming the worst sort of light-eater, the feral animal kind driven only by its appetites.

In the colder months, the line for the clinic stretches to the end of the street, and the healers vary the pattern of their rounds, because even with donations from all the fideles, they haven't the strength to see to every coughing family that huddles in a single unheated room.


"Neither modern medicine nor healing is sufficient on its own to address this need. We should be using a combination of the two."



"I thought you'd thrown your lot in with us," Elaine says disapprovingly when you attempt to explain your thought process. "What, is it too hard for you? Running back to your powders and instruments at the first difficulty?"

And apparently she informs Taggart behind your back, because he opens the conversation with you when you are tending the herbs the following morning.

"Yes, Aurifer," you say, "I do think we could be more effective if healers were trained in the techniques of scientific medicine as well as healing itself."

Taggart shakes his head. "That's not what we're about, John."



Vote 183:

# But it could be what we are about. It's a skill I have that I could teach others. Why should it be different for my hands to heal with medicines and bandages instead of directly?"

# "But when the healer is exhausted, he has the knowledge to do nothing at all. Why not learn this skill as well, so that his hands need not be unarmed?"

# "We can do better than this! Healers are not permitted to study medicine at university; fine and good. But you need not choose ignorance when there is another option."

# "You're making it impossible for those not sun-blessed to use their hands to help."

# "The choice need not be one way to the exclusion of the other. Why could the same man not worship the Sun and use a modern tool?"


Hrmm .. there may be some followup, but I don't want to give the game away. It IS possible to persuade Taggart, depending on your charisma score, your relationship with Taggart, and the choice you make. Some are a flat no regardless of charisma. Some work immediately. Others require followup dialog before the decision is made.

Whether Taggart agrees to use modern medicine in conjunction with traditional healing or not, it has no immediate impact on gameplay, so we'll push on a bit.



"It's that time of year again," Chase announces to the breakfast table a few weeks later. You look up, confused–is there a holiday or some such?

Taggart notices the look and smiles. "The Labor Reform Bill comes up for debate before Parliament every year about this time."




Vote 184:

#Of course, the Labor Reform Bill. I should have guessed it would interest the temple folk. I've been following the articles in The Times for weeks.

#Oh...yes. I think I read something about this a few weeks ago. And there was one last year too, wasn't there?

#The Labor Reform Bill was which one, again? Parliament debates so many resolutions that I stopped paying attention years ago.





"It's a particularly good one this year," Chase says. "Legalizes unions and allows for peaceful strikes in response to broken contracts, reduces the working day for women and children to twelve hours, and makes it illegal to employ a child under the age of eight. The dependents of any man killed while at work shall be compensated by the employer. All workshops and factories employing more than fifty people are to be inspected by government authorities to ensure compliance. If we can get them to pass this one and enforce it—if we can get even half the provisions—we'll have actually changed something real." At Taggart's mildly annoyed look, he amends, "Something big. I'll be attending the pro-Reform rally at the Houses of Parliament today."

"Of course you will," Taggart agrees. "Take whomever can be spared, and I can see to their duties here. Elaine, Alice, William–why not John too? Let him see this side of what we do. Peaceful protests are very useful tools," he adds to you. "Newspaper articles get written, people get talking, public opinion shifts a bit. An inch a year, true, but a bit. A steady hand on the rudder turns the ship, and nothing else ever will."




Vote 185: What do you think of today's assignment?

#Ah, here we are. Treating the symptoms of the disease is all very well, but I have been eager to attack the underlying cause.


#I doubt we can get the Bill to pass when it never has before, and if that is so, we probably shouldn't be wasting time on it.


#I find myself reluctant to leave the regimented, peaceful life of the sanctuary and return (in any capacity, however briefly) to the world I left.



Here's hoping we can sneak our revolver into our pocket. Between Mercia's bombthrowers and police mechs this could get very nasty indeed. "Peaceful protest" my posterior!

Come back on Friday, 16 Dec, 2016, 5:30 PM, and we'll see if we can avoid getting shot, stomped on by a mech, trampled by a panicking crowd, or arrested. :smallamused:

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Markozeta
2016-12-14, 11:53 PM
Hmm... Taggart doesn't seem likely to listen to A, C, or D. I'm going to pick E. But maybe B would be better? Too late, I already said it.

Vote 183:
E.) "The choice need not be one way to the exclusion of the other. Why could the same man not worship the Sun and use a modern tool?"

The other two seem easy by comparison. Giving our new life, I'd imagine you can't stay at the temple long without being part of this group or that group. We're not a recluse here.

Vote 184:
A.)Of course, the Labor Reform Bill. I should have guessed it would interest the temple folk. I've been following the articles in The Times for weeks.

Vote 184: What do you think of today's assignment?
A.)Ah, here we are. Treating the symptoms of the disease is all very well, but I have been eager to attack the underlying cause.

smuchmuch
2016-12-15, 08:01 AM
# "But when the healer is exhausted, he has the knowledge to do nothing at all. Why not learn this skill as well, so that his hands need not be unarmed?"

It seems a reasonable question and not worded too harshly.

#Oh...yes. I think I read something about this a few weeks ago. And there was one last year too, wasn't there?

Watson did spend a while in mpurning and a period of lowdown, i feel having attnetively poayed attntion to the news a few weeks ago may be a little at odds with this.

#Ah, here we are. Treating the symptoms of the disease is all very well, but I have been eager to attack the underlying cause.

Oh hey at least we'll get to do plenty of healing when the mini mechs roll in.

Black Socks
2016-12-15, 02:13 PM
183)"But it could be what we are about. It's a skill I have that I could teach others. Why should it be different for my hands to heal with medicines and bandages instead of directly?"
https://i.imgflip.com/1g1e5l.jpg

184)Of course, the Labor Reform Bill. I should have guessed it would interest the temple folk. I've been following the articles in The Times for weeks.
Watson seems like the kind of guy who reads the papers end to end. Twice.

185)Ah, here we are. Treating the symptoms of the disease is all very well, but I have been eager to attack the underlying cause.
Watson has combat training. These people don't. And based on the last time there was a 'peaceful protest', I think we're going to need both healing and combat skills.

Alandra
2016-12-16, 04:04 PM
We definitely need to try one of the options that stresses using our hands. The fourth one seems to confrontational to me, so I'm torn between the first two options.

The main concern the healers seem to have about modern amenities is that they make things to easy, that people don't use their hands, get removed from what they are doing. But surely that can't be a concern about medicine? Healing with magic is much easier than healing with medicine, especially considering that their medicine is much less advanced then ours.

The first option stresses using a tool to heal, the second option stresses the knowledge to heal. Maybe the first one is a little bit more polite? The second one kind of insinuates that the healers are too uneducated.

#But it could be what we are about. It's a skill I have that I could teach others. Why should it be different for my hands to heal with medicines and bandages instead of directly?


The others are easier for me:

#Of course, the Labor Reform Bill. I should have guessed it would interest the temple folk. I've been following the articles in The Times for weeks.

#Ah, here we are. Treating the symptoms of the disease is all very well, but I have been eager to attack the underlying cause.

Mister Tom
2016-12-16, 04:09 PM
#But it could be what we are about. It's a skill I have that I could teach others. Why should it be different for my hands to heal with medicines and bandages instead of directly?


#Of course, the Labor Reform Bill. I should have guessed it would interest the temple folk. I've been following the articles in The Times for weeks.

#Ah, here we are. Treating the symptoms of the disease is all very well, but I have been eager to attack the underlying cause.


What she said.

pendell
2016-12-16, 08:44 PM
183) "But it could be what we are about. It's a skill I have that I could teach others. Why should it be different for my hands to heal with medicines and bandages instead of directly?""

184) "#Of course, the Labor Reform Bill. I should have guessed it would interest the temple folk. I've been following the articles in The Times for weeks. "

185) #Ah, here we are. Treating the symptoms of the disease is all very well, but I have been eager to attack the underlying cause.



Incidentally, the question about why we couldn't use modern tools as well as the sun results in this dialog:


"I don't wish to encourage any of my people to embrace modern tools, modern technology, or modern morality," Taggart says. He gestures with disgust to the world beyond the temple walls. "Do you like what you see out there?"


#"The modern world may have its drawbacks, but it is ridiculous and willfully ignorant to pretend it has no virtues."

#"I don't think there is such a large difference as all that between Temple morality and modern world morality. It's a manufactured conflict."

#"No, but I don't like what I know about the Temples during the Rationalist Movement, either."

#"Defining ourselves to be only 'what they are not' means we'll die out. Surely it would be better to find common ground instead."

Some of these win, some don't, but I'll go with "Manufactured conflict".

"I was not the one who manufactured it," Taggart says dryly.

"But in fact, you did. We did, I mean. The Sun Temples did." This you clearly remember from history lessons. "The early Rationalist Movement was declared blasphemy by the Temples, and many of its proponents were executed by the Inquisition."

Taggart goes quiet at that. "You mean to imply that if our ancestors had been less concerned with protecting their power, the Temples would not now be mistrusted and reviled? That's—an interesting perspective." He thinks about it.

There's a branch here depending on how good our relationship is with him. Let's pass the check.

"I suppose...I suppose we could take the first step by demonstrating some degree of open-mindedness. I suppose there is no difference to your hands healing in one way instead of the other. And if there is no difference to you, there should be no difference to anyone here. Very well, you may teach doctoring to anyone who wants to learn, and we'll try it in tandem with healing for a little."

Taggart is among those who volunteers to attend your lessons whenever he has a little time to spare, which effectively sets the tone for the rest of the temple. Before very long, a respectable percentage of the temple healers, acolytes, and tenders have been taught simple nursing. Those who work in the clinic or take rounds use it alongside their healing skill.


So it takes a degree of followup, since Taggart isn't thrilled with ANYTHING in the modern world. Like the old riddle:
Q: How many [denomination] does it take to change a light bulb?
A: CHANGE??!!!

But Taggart, you see, is a little enlightened for his profession, which is primarily to resist the modern world.

No such changes are necessary for the other two votes. Let's go with the one we actually chose to do.

"But it could be what we are about. It's a skill I have that I could teach others. Why should it be different for my hands to heal with medicines and bandages instead of directly?""



Taggart looks taken aback. "I have to admit—I haven't thought about it in those terms. Not many leave the physician's profession to join us, after all. Indeed, the situation has never arisen before to my knowledge."

He thinks about it, twisting a mint sprig between his fingers. Then he realizes what he is doing and smooths the plant back into place, giving it a little touch of healing as an apology.

"All right," he says at last. "I suppose there is no difference to your hands healing in one way instead of the other. And if there is no difference to you, there should be no difference to anyone here. You may teach doctoring to anyone who wants to learn, and we'll try it in tandem with healing for a little while."

Taggart is among those who volunteers to attend your lessons whenever he has a little time to spare, which effectively sets the tone for the rest of the temple. Before very long, a respectable percentage of the temple healers, acolytes, and tenders have been taught simple nursing. Those who work in the clinic or take rounds use it alongside their healing skill.

You are whispered about—the apprentice-healer who preaches the value of modern medicine; the doctor who is a member of the temple. You get in to a lot of arguments on both sides of the aisle. "How can you not place your trust in the Sun?" on the one side and "How can you throw your lot in with those charlatans?" on the other. But you may have taken the first step in drawing the two communities together.


Achievement Unlocked: Building Bridges / Built a bridge between the Sun Temple and the conventional world.

Comment in game for both this choice and the one smuchmuch chose:

*comment Good job, player. Have a charisma boost.

Charisma: 91

A good choice, I think. Sun energy is limited, so every person helped with traditional medicine is one less the healers must deal with, so we can save it for those incurable souls who desperately need it.



"It's that time of year again," Chase announces to the breakfast table a few weeks later. You look up, confused–is there a holiday or some such?

Taggart notices the look and smiles. "The Labor Reform Bill comes up for debate before Parliament every year about this time."


"Of course, the Labor Reform Bill. I should have guessed it would interest the temple folk. I've been following the articles in The Times for weeks."



The specific provisions of the Labor Reform Bill vary year to year, depending on the horse trading done by the young reformers backing it, but it has never come all that close to passing.

"It's a particularly good one this year," Chase says. "Legalizes unions and allows for peaceful strikes in response to broken contracts, reduces the working day for women and children to twelve hours, and makes it illegal to employ a child under the age of eight. The dependents of any man killed while at work shall be compensated by the employer. All workshops and factories employing more than fifty people are to be inspected by government authorities to ensure compliance. If we can get them to pass this one and enforce it—if we can get even half the provisions—we'll have actually changed something real." At Taggart's mildly annoyed look, he amends, "Something big. I'll be attending the pro-Reform rally at the Houses of Parliament today."

"Of course you will," Taggart agrees. "Take whomever can be spared, and I can see to their duties here. Elaine, Alice, William–why not John too? Let him see this side of what we do. Peaceful protests are very useful tools," he adds to you. "Newspaper articles get written, people get talking, public opinion shifts a bit. An inch a year, true, but a bit. A steady hand on the rudder turns the ship, and nothing else ever will."


Perception: 82

"Ah, here we are. Treating the symptoms of the disease is all very well, but I have been eager to attack the underlying cause."



Chase organizes the packing up of people and protest signs, and Taggart accompanies you all to the gate. "I'll see you–" Something like a reluctant smile tugs at his mouth. "Tomorrow, probably. We'll hope for tonight, but I'll be by with bail money in the morning if need be. Try to make it for nothing more violent than disturbing the peace, will you please, Gavin?"


Compassionate: 60 Pragmatic: 40



There are a surprising number of people carrying signs and blocking traffic in front of the Houses of Parliament. Most are either laborers (out of work, one assumes, or possibly members of successful illegal unions) or young university students. You recognize Alexandra Townsend, and infer from her presence that Free Mercia is here in force.


Of course they are.



She recognizes you, too. First she looks surprised, then she smiles.



Vote 186: Do you go over to say hello?

# Yes, of course.

# No, there's too much history between us.

# No. I'm not sure what tactics Free Mercia intends to employ today, but they may be at odd with Taggart's directive to do nothing worse than disturb the peace.

# I take no active steps to pursue her, but I won't avoid her if the shuffling of the crowd happens to bring us within speaking distance.



There will be a short vignette if we speak to her, after which we continue.



It is unclear how effective the rally is. Few members of the general public even see the signs, since the press of protesters has blocked the street to carriage traffic, and most of the well-dressed pedestrians who round the corner take one look at the throng and hastily retreat.

But at least you see some reporters here and there, and a few of the well-dressed pedestrians do come close enough to inquire as to the purpose of the gathering. They receive pamphlets from the university students and Alexandra's contingent. Perhaps some of them leave with opinions changed. Perhaps that will matter someday. An inch a year, Taggart said.



Vote 187:

#He's right—a steady hand on the rudder is the only thing that will ever turn the ship. This is what we can do.

#That rate of progress is unacceptably slow. There are people suffering right now. There must be something more the temple can do!

#Perhaps I should have gone back to work for Woodward. At least there, I might have been able to influence those with power to change this—

#Perhaps I should have sought a place in Free Mercia. Their more direct tactics are more likely to have the kind of impact needed.



After we've considered this, the story continues.



Your little Sun Temple group attracts its own kind of attention and draws its own kind of questions. Some are of the "How many children have you drained today?" variety—from your fellow protesters as well as from the passers-by. A few are more genuine. Both varieties get serious, sincere, even-toned answers from the healers. Alice, Elaine, and William Barlow all seem comfortable with the role, but Chase visibly restrains himself from sharper words on multiple occasions.

With what feels like a rush of ice water down your spine, you hear a familiar voice engage Chase in conversation. Turning your head, you see James Morris, your former colleague from Woodward's irregulars. Dispatched no doubt to learn what he can about this unpatriotic display.

Morris is regarding Chase's sun medallion with poorly-veiled revulsion. "What's all this?"



Vote 188: As Chase opens his mouth to give the speech, you realize you have a few options.

#I keep my eyes cast down and say nothing, trusting that my appearance has changed enough that Morris will not recognize me.

#I take advantage of Morris's distraction to duck away, leaving the crowd of protesters so there is no chance my former colleague will recognize me.

#To hell with that. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I face Morris, answering his questions before Chase can speak.


The story changes depending on our choice here, so here is where we stop. So. We have opportunities to chat with Alexandra and a former colleague from Woodward's office. What shall we do?

Things seem quiet, but I suspect we're on a knife-edge here. Come back Monday, 19 Dec, 2016, 5:30PM, to see if we can navigate these treacherous waters.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2016-12-17, 12:58 PM
# Yes, of course.

Maybe we can build another bridge between Free Mercia and the Sun Temple? We are all here for the same thing after all.


#He's right—a steady hand on the rudder is the only thing that will ever turn the ship. This is what we can do.

#To hell with that. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I face Morris, answering his questions before Chase can speak.

I don't think this will be a peaceful protest, if we just let Morris and Chase clash into each other. And with our Charisma, we should hopefully be able to avoid making the situation worse.

Mister Tom
2016-12-17, 04:54 PM
Vote 186: Do you go over to say hello?

# Yes, of course.
Even if I wasn't the sociable sort, it would be much less suspicious of me to have drawn attention to myself in this situation, should I ever have to convince her I'm not working for Woodward at some indefinite point in the future perhaps.

Vote 187:

#He's right—a steady hand on the rudder is the only thing that will ever turn the ship. This is what we can do.

There's something to be said for various of these, but right now we're priesthood.
#I keep my eyes cast down and say nothing, trusting that my appearance has changed enough that Morris will not recognize me.


Having been in the irregulars, I don't think I would improve his opinion of the sun touched, although I would scupper his opinion of me.

Black Socks
2016-12-17, 08:16 PM
186)Yes, of course.
I would love it if Free Mercia and the Sun Temple teamed up to take down the government.
187)He's right—a steady hand on the rudder is the only thing that will ever turn the ship. This is what we can do.
Slow and steady wins the race.
188)To hell with that. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I face Morris, answering his questions before Chase can speak.
Last I checked, although they are the subject of intense discrimination, it's not technically illegal to be a sun-worshipper.

Markozeta
2016-12-19, 01:13 AM
To quote Black Socks:

186)Yes, of course.
I would love it if Free Mercia and the Sun Temple teamed up to take down the government.
187)He's right—a steady hand on the rudder is the only thing that will ever turn the ship. This is what we can do.
Slow and steady wins the race.
188)To hell with that. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I face Morris, answering his questions before Chase can speak.
Last I checked, although they are the subject of intense discrimination, it's not technically illegal to be a sun-worshipper.

pendell
2016-12-19, 06:50 PM
We have our choices!

186) # Yes, of course.

187) #He's right—a steady hand on the rudder is the only thing that will ever turn the ship. This is what we can do.

188) #To hell with that. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I face Morris, answering his questions before Chase can speak.


Let's get rolling!

First, let's go say hello to Alexandra.

"Yes, of course".



Doctor," she greets you. "Didn't expect to come across you here—" She catches sight of the sun medallion then, and stops. "Not Doctor. Healer?"

"Acolyte," Chase corrects her, nodding hello. They seem to know each other slightly.

"Really." Alexandra studies you. "That is not at all where I would have placed my money. But good for you, Acolyte John, if you've found where you are supposed to be. Good luck with it."


Hrm... I guess that was sort of friendly.



t is unclear how effective the rally is. Few members of the general public even see the signs, since the press of protesters has blocked the street to carriage traffic, and most of the well-dressed pedestrians who round the corner take one look at the throng and hastily retreat.

But at least you see some reporters here and there, and a few of the well-dressed pedestrians do come close enough to inquire as to the purpose of the gathering. They receive pamphlets from the university students and Alexandra's contingent. Perhaps some of them leave with opinions changed. Perhaps that will matter someday. An inch a year, Taggart said.


"He's right—a steady hand on the rudder is the only thing that will ever turn the ship. This is what we can do. "



Your little Sun Temple group attracts its own kind of attention and draws its own kind of questions. Some are of the "How many children have you drained today?" variety—from your fellow protesters as well as from the passers-by. A few are more genuine. Both varieties get serious, sincere, even-toned answers from the healers. Alice, Elaine, and William Barlow all seem comfortable with the role, but Chase visibly restrains himself from sharper words on multiple occasions.

With what feels like a rush of ice water down your spine, you hear a familiar voice engage Chase in conversation. Turning your head, you see James Morris, your former colleague from Woodward's irregulars. Dispatched no doubt to learn what he can about this unpatriotic display.

Morris is regarding Chase's sun medallion with poorly-veiled revulsion. "What's all this?"


Compassionate: 66 Pragmatic: 34

Let's go get up in Morris' grill and tell him what's what!



He doesn't appear to hear a word, his face going slack with shock. "John Watson, what on earth are you doing here? With them?"

"The rest of the Empire has nothing to fear from the Sun Temples," you begin.

There is a stir from the crowd further down the street, and you look over.


Eh...?



Around the corner, backlit against the afternoon sun, march a troop of soldiers from Her Majesty's Imperial Army—not police officers but soldiers, and armed to the teeth. Behind them, tall enough to block the slanting sun altogether, a mech—the Merrill version, miniaturized for city streets—stomps solidly into place.

You never expected to be viewing either Imperial soldiers or a Mercian mech from this angle.


Yeah, we totally did not see this coming. :smallmad:

Armed soldiers? What are they expecting, exactly?

I hope Free Mercia doesn't give them a reason to...



The commanding officer has a bullhorn.

He orders the crowd to disperse.

In response, some of the Free Mercians shout back defiance and start throwing stones.

And then it all erupts into chaos.


F----.



At least most of the soldiers aren't firing into the crowd, and those that are appear to be armed with birdshot rather than something more deadly. The bulk of the fighting is conducted with fists, cudgels, and the butts of rifles. Unconscious protesters are hauled away in paddy wagons.

Alice takes a completely understandable step away from the carnage.

"No!" Chase shouts. "We stand our ground!"

"These people are going to need healing," Elaine adds, as a body is dumped into a paddy wagon, blood running down its face.



Vote 189:

# It is time to go. An orderly retreat is nothing to be ashamed of, and we should not blacken the temple's name by being among those arrested.

# Chase is right, we should stand our ground. Let us be captured with everyone else. The message is too important to abandon.

# Elaine is right. We are healers, and there are people who need help or will soon. We should stay.

# Chase, Elaine, and I should stand our ground, but we should get Alice out of here with Barlow to guard her. An old lady has no business in a prison cell.

# Chase, Elaine, and I can risk capture to heal, but we should get Alice out of here with Barlow to guard her. An old lady has no business in a prison cell.



What's it to be? This is a crossroads. Are we going to run for it? Stay and get arrested? Or send Alice, our old lady, away to safety while the rest of us find out what Her Majesty's hospitality is like, possibly after a good kicking and "falling down the stairs on the way to the lockup" first?

Make your decision and I'll see you Wednesday, 21 Dec, 2016 , 5:30 PM . See you soon!


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-12-19, 08:20 PM
Eh. We'll heal.
# Chase, Elaine, and I can risk capture to heal, but we should get Alice out of here with Barlow to guard her. An old lady has no business in a prison cell.

Markozeta
2016-12-19, 09:11 PM
Not very original here:

# Chase, Elaine, and I can risk capture to heal, but we should get Alice out of here with Barlow to guard her. An old lady has no business in a prison cell.

smuchmuch
2016-12-20, 06:50 PM
# Chase, Elaine, and I can risk capture to heal, but we should get Alice out of here with Barlow to guard her. An old lady has no business in a prison cell.

Nothing to add to this.

pendell
2016-12-21, 08:22 PM
Very well.

"Chase, Elaine, and I can risk capture to heal, but we should get Alice out of here with Barlow to guard her. An old lady has no business in a prison cell."

Let's do it! Oh .. might want to keep an eye on your people and make sure we get as many out of jail as go in to it. We know that Woodward has an interest in potential light-eaters ...



We need to get Alice home," you say to Chase, and he nods, telling Barlow to see to it.

The rest of you establish yourselves at the edge of the crowd, catching hold of the injured and doing what you can for them while the struggle rages around you.

Unfortunately, this means that when the arrests begin, you are taken with everyone else.


Compassionate: 71 Pragmatic: 29

Things have certainly changed from the cholera epidemic, when we had a compassion score in the 40s!

Off to jail, then. Don't drop the soap!



The soldiers fling Elaine into the wagon with enough force to break her wrist.


Like we didn't see that coming either :smallfurious:.



But Chase gets close enough to touch surreptitious fingers to her skin, and the lines of pain smooth from her face.

Thereafter, Chase draws most of the fire himself, making himself enough of a target with his brash back-talk that the soldiers don't pay much attention to the rest of you. (He is brave, no matter what else he is.)

At the prison, you and the other members of the wagon are unloaded into holding cells with similarly unnecessary ferocity.

When you were a soldier, you treated the Empire's enemies just as roughly.

And now you're considered one of them. You look down at your sun medallion and shake your head.



Vote 190: Do you say anything to the soldiers in an attempt to alter the tone of the encounter?

# "This isn't necessary! We were coming with you quietly. We didn't throw anything!"

# "You don't have anything to fear from us! The Sun Temples are peaceful—"

#"Easy, lad, easy! I was an officer in the Imperial Army once; I'm not about to undermine your authority—"

#"Get away from that old man! You ought to be ashamed, treating him so roughly!"

#"Have you thought about what you're doing? Since when it is it the calling of the Imperial Army to mistreat the Empire's own subjects?"

#I say nothing.



After you speak, it will have an impact on the van ride and then we'll arrive at the lockup.



Other than your little temple group, the inmates of the holding cell appear to be from Free Mercia. A few are nearly as unfriendly as the guards, but most react positively to your sun medallions. Free Mercia attracts unconventional folk.

Many of the people packed in here with you are injured—some mildly, some severely. One of the more severely injured is the old man you observed being struck by a guard. A young boy, sporting a cut across the forehead but otherwise whole enough, hovers over him nervously.



Vote 191:
#I offer healing, quietly, to the old man and his companion.

#I let it be known more generally that we are healers and can help anyone who needs help.

#I keep my mouth shut. I don't want to draw any further negative attention.



We will have an interaction with our cell mates and perhaps some of the guards as well.



At daybreak, those of you deemed to have not resisted arrest are herded out of the cell again. Taggart is among those waiting with bail money, and he counts out coins with a set face.

"I thought I said–" he begins, looking at Chase.

"We didn't start the violence," Chase says. "We didn't participate. It was between the Free Mercia people and the Army, and we were–"

"Tarred with the same brush," Taggart sighs. "Wonderful."

"Not exactly," Elaine says. "We did heal people who needed it. We were seen doing so."

Taggart looks thoughtful. "Perhaps you've changed some minds, then. That's something, to be sure."

After a moment, he adds, more softly, "And I do thank you for your good sense in getting Alice safely home. That was well done."



A compliment! :)




Two days later, there is a knock at the door from someone Taggart considers a fidelis, tentatively asking if he will come and care for a neighbor of hers. Taggart goes,
taking you with him.

The man with the arm full of birdshot looks up at Taggart out of fever-bright eyes. "Brigit said you wouldn't ask how I came by this," he grates.

"I won't," Taggart agrees, rolling up his sleeves and taking out the green mask. "I don't really need to, do I?"

"Guess not." The man's mouth relaxes a little and his eyes close.

To get that sort of injury, he must have been near the front of the crowd.




Vote 192:

#I sympathize with his injury, mentioning I was there too.

#I ask if he was one of the people throwing rocks.

#I ask how in the world he escaped arrest.


After he responds, we have one more vignette :



In the euphoria that follows the relief of pain, Taggart's patient mutters, "I'll pay them back someday. Someday the downtrodden will Rise and then the gutters will run red with the blood of the powerful. I'll have the upper hand then."

"And you'll be no better than those who fired into the crowd yesterday," Taggart returns.

The man's eyes open in surprise. "Are you on their side?"

"Of course not, but violence such as you describe is never the answer."

"Sometimes it has to be," the man counters earnestly, rolling up onto his now-healed arm as though he has forgotten it was ever injured. "Sometimes asking doesn't get you the change you need; sometimes you have to push, sharp and hard; and sometimes you've no choice but to tear the whole thing down and build something better."




Vote 193:


#I can't help thinking—whatever Taggart may say—that he has a point. Asking peacefully didn't seem to do much good, yesterday.

#I find myself impatient with his rhetoric. It's easy to talk about tearing it down and building something better, but Free Mercia doesn't have the leverage to do it.

#Taggart's right. If we were to embrace the methods this man describes, we'd be no better than our enemies.



Hmm .. I think I'll let you think on that one. Then we'll collect those reactions and we'll be ready to move onto the next part of the story. We're not participating in a revolution right now but I can swear I fear the first winds of a storm ...

See you on Friday, 23 December, 2016, 5:30 PM and we'll see if the gutters will run red with blood!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Markozeta
2016-12-21, 11:50 PM
They won't listen to logic, arguments, but maybe an old war story or two...
Vote 190: Do you say anything to the soldiers in an attempt to alter the tone of the encounter?
C.)"Easy, lad, easy! I was an officer in the Imperial Army once; I'm not about to undermine your authority—"

Might as well get Mercia on our side...
Vote 191: A.)I offer healing, quietly, to the old ${o_man} and ${o_his} companion.

Scores be damned, we're a doctor. Of course we need to get the mechanism of injury! Tell us the story!
Vote 192: C.) I ask how in the world he escaped arrest.

Revolution!
Vote 193: B.)I find myself impatient with his rhetoric. It's easy to talk about tearing it down and building something better, but Free Mercia doesn't have the leverage to do it.

Mister Tom
2016-12-23, 02:44 PM
Vote 190: Do you say anything to the soldiers in an attempt to alter the tone of the encounter?
I say nothing. Guards not be looking for reasoned discourse. They be looking for a victim and an excuse.

Vote 191: A.)I offer healing, quietly, to the old ${o_man} and ${o_his} companion.


And an inch at a time, the wheel turns.

Vote 192: C.) I ask how in the world he escaped arrest.
Vote 193: B.)I find myself impatient with his rhetoric. It's easy to talk about tearing it down and building something better, but Free Mercia doesn't have the leverage to do it.

Alandra
2016-12-23, 05:28 PM
# "This isn't necessary! We were coming with you quietly. We didn't throw anything!"

We have the Charisma, maybe it helps if we say something friendly.


#I let it be known more generally that we are healers and can help anyone who needs help.

#I sympathize with his injury, mentioning I was there too.


#I find myself impatient with his rhetoric. It's easy to talk about tearing it down and building something better, but Free Mercia doesn't have the leverage to do it.

pendell
2016-12-23, 06:31 PM
190:
Easy, lad, easy! I was an officer in the Imperial Army once; I'm not about to undermine your authority—" 73

I say nothing. 33

"This isn't necessary! We were coming with you quietly. We didn't throw anything!" 67

191: I offer healing, quietly, to the old man and his companion.

192: I ask how in the world he escaped arrest.

193: I find myself impatient with his rhetoric. It's easy to talk about tearing it down and building something better, but Free Mercia doesn't have the leverage to do it.

191 was an error on my part -- if Watson is gay, the gender is flipped to an old woman and a young girl. I guess we're trying to make sure there is no sexual attraction that Watson might be acting on.

At any rate, let's execute.

"Easy, lad, easy! I was an officer in the Imperial Army once; I'm not about to undermine your authority—"



A rifle butt across the face is the only response you receive.

You open your eyes to find Gavin Chase leaning over you. "More brave than smart," he says, but there might be a little grudging respect in his tone. "Keep quiet, now


Mister Tom is right :smallamused:. Any response you make except for "say nothing" gets you a rifle butt inna face. These people don't like light-eaters and aren't interested in anything we have to say. But .. that tends to be real-life boot camp as well. The important thing is to not attract attention of any kind, since there isn't such a thing as positive attention.

Let's pick our teeth off the floor and quietly heal the old man.



Other than your little temple group, the inmates of the holding cell appear to be from Free Mercia. A few are nearly as unfriendly as the guards, but most react positively to your sun medallions. Free Mercia attracts unconventional folk.

Many of the people packed in here with you are injured—some mildly, some severely. One of the more severely injured is the old man you observed being struck by a guard. A boy, sporting a cut across the forehead but otherwise whole enough, hovers over him nervously.

The boy permits the healing of his elderly companion, and both seem very grateful.

At the proof that the old man was helped, not harmed, by a healer's touch, the mood of the cell shifts a little. Your group heals some others over the course of the night. You even notice one guard watching, with respect rather than fear.


Excellent! Maybe this wasn't a waste of our time after all!



At daybreak, those of you deemed to have not resisted arrest are herded out of the cell again. Taggart is among those waiting with bail money, and he counts out coins with a set face.

"I thought I said–" he begins, looking at Chase.

"We didn't start the violence," Chase says. "We didn't participate. It was between the Free Mercia people and the Army, and we were–"

"Tarred with the same brush," Taggart sighs. "Wonderful."

"Not exactly," Elaine says. "We did heal people who needed it. We were seen doing so."

Taggart looks thoughtful. "Perhaps you've changed some minds, then. That's something, to be sure."

After a moment, he adds, more softly, "And I do thank you for your good sense in getting Alice safely home. That was well done."


Seems that Taggart's happy with us, which is all to the good.



wo days later, there is a knock at the door from someone Taggart considers a fidelis, tentatively asking if he will come and care for a neighbor of hers. Taggart goes, taking you with him.

The man with the arm full of birdshot looks up at Taggart out of fever-bright eyes. "Brigit said you wouldn't ask how I came by this," he grates.

"I won't," Taggart agrees, rolling up his sleeves and taking out the green mask. "I don't really need to, do I?"

"Guess not." The man's mouth relaxes a little and his eyes close.

To get that sort of injury, he must have been near the front of the crowd.



I ask how in the world he escaped arrest.



One corner of the man's mouth curves. "You don't have to outrun your pursuer, just the laggard beside you, right?"

Taggart's mouth tightens in distaste, but he does not stop his work.


Well, really, that IS probably the only way.



In the euphoria that follows the relief of pain, Taggart's patient mutters, "I'll pay them back someday. Someday the downtrodden will Rise and then the gutters will run red with the blood of the powerful. I'll have the upper hand then."

"And you'll be no better than those who fired into the crowd yesterday," Taggart returns.

The man's eyes open in surprise. "Are you on their side?"

"Of course not, but violence such as you describe is never the answer."

"Sometimes it has to be," the man counters earnestly, rolling up onto his now-healed arm as though he has forgotten it was ever injured. "Sometimes asking doesn't get you the change you need; sometimes you have to push, sharp and hard; and sometimes you've no choice but to tear the whole thing down and build something better."



I find myself impatient with his rhetoric. It's easy to talk about tearing it down and building something better, but Free Mercia doesn't have the leverage to do it.



Taggart says, "There is always a choice."

His patient studies him, perplexed. "But you're Loegrian."

"I was born in Dunleitir, yes."

"You can't approve of what the Mercians have done there. And you can't like the restrictions on sun worship! Wouldn't you like to preach your faith, healer, without having to look over your shoulder? The man I work for is Loegrian, and he says—"

"I know the leader of Free Mercia is Loegrian," Taggart cuts him off. "This isn't the first invitation I've received."

The man sinks back down on his pallet, looking honestly confused. "Don't you want to see it all change?"

"Very much." Taggart gets to his feet. "But not through the Professor's methods."


Oh, really? Taggart is Loegrian and has himself been approached by Free Mercia, whom he has turned down? I wonder what else he knows ...

... I'm a little worried. If he's been approached by Free Mercia and turned them down, fanatical revolutionaries can sometimes decide that if you're not with them, you're against them...




That afternoon, Taggart calls you into his office.

"It's time we gave you some more responsibility, and I have something in mind that I think would suit your talents. I've noticed you have some knack for storytelling, and I have a friend who would be willing to publish a newspaper column.

"You could write of the things you see in this city, and of the things we are doing to combat them. You might also try your hand at actual fiction.

"Stories shape the way we see the world, you know. The magazines now are full of tales of evil light-eaters, brave young government clerks bringing them down, and a grateful, not to mention a well-fed and appropriately respectful, populace. Perhaps we need a few that more accurately reflect the world in which we actually live.



Vote 194: "Are you up for the task?"

# "Yes, of course."
# "'More accurately'? Do you mean a return to the fables we teach the children?"
# "I wish I could help, but I don't think I'm up for the task."
# "I'd…really rather not have my name associated with that sort of propaganda."


If you choose something other than "yes", there will be some followup as Taggart tries to persuade you. But it does sound like something that might be more effective than simple protesting ... and less bloody than killing people.

Whether we choose to write stories or not, that will not have an immediate impact on gameplay, so we'll resume after we've finished that decision.

The story continues!



In the distance, the air shakes with the shouts of the men unloading cargo down at the docks, but here the heavy fog smothers those sounds almost into silence. The fog is starting to brighten, the only indication of the rising Sun that is able to make it through Kingsford's brown shroud. You'll reach the temple just in time for morning services–then breakfast and bed, both of which will be most welcome after your long night's work.

In addition to working within the temple walls, you put in hours as a laborer, to help earn the money the temple needs to survive.

In Mercia's past, all temples were self-sufficient, growing their own food, making their own tools and candles, weaving their own cloth, and so forth. But the model no longer works–not in the modern era in the middle of a city.

As Taggart says often, sun-worshippers are to live in the real world as it is now, not in the ideal world they might wish they had, and so this aspect of temple life has changed with the times. Many members of the Juniper Street temple work elsewhere for coin, in addition to their responsibilities within the temple itself.

Your own actions have stripped you of the right to practice as a physician, so now you take what short-term employment you can get.



Vote 195:

#Sometimes I wonder if I have struck a good bargain, but that bridge has been burned.

#At least the irregular hours of the work give me time for my more important responsibilities–and Taggart would say, living the same life as those one seeks to aid is the first step in understanding what they need.

#My muscles ache, but my mind is at peace. Even hard repetitive labor has its good side. It can be a meditation of sorts, a way to connect with one's body.





You turn your steps through the Loegrian quarter of the East End slums–a convenient shortcut to the temple, and perfectly safe for one wearing a medallion–and the fog wraps sheltering arms around you.

And your foot catches on something huddled at the base of the alley's brick wall.


Uh-oh.



It is the body of a young woman. A member of the oldest profession, to judge by her clothing. She can't be more than eighteen.

You examine the body. Her throat has been cut, but she didn't die of that. For one thing, there is not enough blood spilled on the ground, and no signs she was killed elsewhere before being brought here.

For another, branded on her chest is an unmistakable dark red handprint.



Vote 196:
#I feel as though I have swallowed ice. A light-eater, hunting in Kingsford.

#I feel as though I have swallowed ice. Everyone at the temple is about to be under suspicion.


#A hot burst of rage rips through me.


#Cool detachment descends like a cloak.


There's a different paragraph depending on which answer you choose. I'll go with "hot burst of rage" but I'll print the other as well if we elect another option.



A light-eater. Hunting in the Kingsford slums. Hunting openly, not even trying to keep from leaving handprints, flaunting itself as though it were in Vlask.

How dare that monster do any such thing? This is your territory, these are your streets. The official police force may care little for the lives of those who live in the slums, but these people are under your protection.

When you tell Taggart, his face goes grave.



Vote 197:

#"We'd better batten down the hatches. The police will be hammering on the door in no time."

#"If there's a light-eater roaming around out there, we have to find a way to stop him."

#"The fideles will be frightened when they hear of this. And those who aren't fideles will be terrified. What are we to do for them?"



:smallfurious: :smallfurious: :smallfurious:

How dare he? Or she? Hunting Mercians as if they were sheep before the lion ... I hope we have his head on a spike on the Tower of Kingsford, along with his hands!

See you Monday, 26 Dec, 2016, 5:30PM Perhaps we'll have to remind Taggart that there's a former detective who assisted Finch the Magnificent in the house...

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2016-12-26, 03:47 PM
The thread seems to be a little deserted on Christmas. :smallsmile:

#"Yes, of course."

#At least the irregular hours of the work give me time for my more important responsibilities–and Taggart would say, living the same life as those one seeks to aid is the first step in understanding what they need.

#I feel as though I have swallowed ice. A light-eater, hunting in Kingsford.

Well, probably. Possibly it could be someone else, disguising him-/herself as a light-eater.


#"If there's a light-eater roaming around out there, we have to find a way to stop him."

pendell
2016-12-26, 06:06 PM
Indeed, I hope everyone is having a marvelous time!

So our choices today are:
194: #"Yes, of course."

195: #At least the irregular hours of the work give me time for my more important responsibilities–and Taggart would say, living the same life as those one seeks to aid is the first step in understanding what they need.

196: #I feel as though I have swallowed ice. A light-eater, hunting in Kingsford.


197: #"If there's a light-eater roaming around out there, we have to find a way to stop him."



Well, probably. Possibly it could be someone else, disguising him-/herself as a light-eater.



That's exactly what it is. This body has been killed by light-eating. There is no possible mistake; Watson saw enough of it during the war and, if the path had been a little different, would have known only too well from his own experience what that kind of death looks like.

Let's roll!

"Yes, of course."




Taggart nods approvingly. "Excellent. You generate the material, and I will see that it is published."

"Generating the material" is not overly difficult. You need not invent a setting, after all; you need only give an accurate report of the East End as you observe it from your window. Crafting a plot to go with it it harder, but after some false starts you manage a tale. It still features a light-eater as a villain, and it is still an adventure story, but the hero is a healer. Taggart smiles with approval at that.

An inch a year. One changed mind at a time. Perhaps it will add up to something someday


Charisma: 93
Achievement: Taggart's Mythmaker : Used fiction to promote Christopher Taggart's ends.

At this rate we might be able to talk HM the Queen out of her crown, if we can make a skill check for it :smallamused:.



Chapter Eight: The Adventure of the East End Ripper

In the distance, the air shakes with the shouts of the men unloading cargo down at the docks, but here the heavy fog smothers those sounds almost into silence. The fog is starting to brighten, the only indication of the rising Sun that is able to make it through Kingsford's brown shroud. You'll reach the temple just in time for morning services–then breakfast and bed, both of which will be most welcome after your long night's work.

In addition to working within the temple walls, you put in hours as a laborer, to help earn the money the temple needs to survive.

Your own actions have stripped you of the right to practice as a physician, so now you take what short-term employment you can get.


"At least the irregular hours of the work give me time for my more important responsibilities–and Taggart would say, living the same life as those one seeks to aid is the first step in understanding what they need."



You turn your steps through the Loegrian quarter of the East End slums–a convenient shortcut to the temple, and perfectly safe for one wearing a medallion–and the fog wraps sheltering arms around you.

And your foot catches on something huddled at the base of the alley's brick wall.


B]Compassionate:[/B] 75 Pragmatic: 25



It is the body of a young woman. A member of the oldest profession, to judge by her clothing. She can't be more than eighteen.

You examine the body. Her throat has been cut, but she didn't die of that. For one thing, there is not enough blood spilled on the ground, and no signs she was killed elsewhere before being brought here.

For another, branded on her chest is an unmistakable dark red handprint.


"I feel as though I have swallowed ice. A light-eater, hunting in Kingsford."



The surrounding fog no longer seems like a safe shelter. It's only fancy, of course, but for a moment you can almost sense eyes watching you from within it...

A light-eater. Hunting in the Kingsford slums. Hunting openly, not even trying to keep from leaving handprints, flaunting itself as though it were in Vlask.

You haven't dreamed about the prison camp in quite some time, but you can feel the nightmare lurking at the edge of your vision, at the base of your throat…

When you tell Taggart, his face goes grave.



"If there's a light-eater roaming around out there, we have to find a way to stop him."



Taggart raises his eyebrows at you. "It is neither appropriate nor wise for those of this temple to engage in vigilante justice. We will allow the official police to do their duty."

You spend the day waiting tensely for the visit from the police, but it does not come. They must have another suspect in mind–perhaps a foreign sailor? Perhaps this horror will melt away on its own, without putting the temple in danger.


Somehow I doubt that :smallmad:.



A week later, you are again returning from an overnight shift when your attention is arrested by the sound of a paperboy hawking his wares. This shouted headline snaps you instantly alert: "Third 'orrible murder in the East End! Light-eater stalking the East End!"

A second body was found a few days previously—but the fingerprints ringing the old beggar woman's throat might have been caused by strangulation as easily as by light-eating, and so public opinion hesitated, uncertain whether it should tip over into panic.

There seems to be no uncertainty now.

Last night's victim was a second beggar, discovered with a handprint covering his throat, his abdomen slashed open, and some of his organs removed. The paper refers to the killer as "the Ripper," and it seems as though the name will stick.

(You remember the prison camp, the knife slashes mingled among the red handprints on Pierce's skin—)


Didn't think so.



The afternoon editions report that a witness saw the victim with a "toff"—that is, a member of the upper class—a few hours before his body was found.

Some experts say the mutilations look to have been done by a doctor. Others insist the hand could have belonged to no one more skilled than a butcher. A "toff" implies doctor rather than butcher, but what sort of "toff" knows the East End almost as well as the natives?


A "toff" -- a doctor? Oh dear, sounds like we're going to be a suspect regardless of whether we actually kill anyone or not.



The police kick the door in this time, and they pay particular attention to you—the acolyte-healer who is also a doctor; the Army veteran accustomed to gore; the once-respectable "toff" who still knows the East End like the palm of his hand.

It's a nerve-wracking interrogation.

Fortunately you can prove a cast-iron alibi for the previous night, verified by fellow laborers rather than anyone from the temple. And of course, no other evidence of wrongdoing is discovered within the temple walls, though the police search is thorough. It takes hours to clean up afterward.



Vote 198: What do you do in response to this situation?

# I talk with Taggart about setting up a refuge, so the local unfortunates have somewhere to go instead of huddling in an alleyway waiting to be picked off.

# I go take a closer look at the most recent scene of the crime. Perhaps I'll spot something.

# One night when I am not working, I go for a walk to see if I can spot any suspicious activity.


Hrmm .. if we take a look at the scene of the crime or go for a walk, this will trigger a short sequence where we may either gain clues or be busted as a suspicious person. Or both. So I think we'll have to stop here for now. Go ahead and get your vote in by Wednesday, 28 Dec, 2016, and we'll investigate these 'orrible murders!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-12-27, 12:30 PM
It's pronounced "'Orrible murdah" :smalltongue:




# I go take a closer look at the most recent scene of the crime. Perhaps I'll spot something.

Seems a slightly less suspicious thing to do, even if we are more likely to meet former colleagues there.

Markozeta
2016-12-27, 12:53 PM
Vote 198: What do you do in response to this situation?
A.) I talk with Taggart about setting up a refuge, so the local unfortunates have somewhere to go instead of huddling in an alleyway waiting to be picked off.

Somehow I think we have a better chance of encountering the ripper using this method. It's compassionate and pragmatic. Compassionatic!

Also, wanting to ask - how close are we to finishing the book? I have a flight next week and am debating purchasing, but don't want to ruin this group.

pendell
2016-12-27, 06:37 PM
Also, wanting to ask - how close are we to finishing the book? I have a flight next week and am debating purchasing, but don't want to ruin this group.

I would say we are about two-thirds of the way through. We're coming up on the climax of the story.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2016-12-28, 07:42 PM
It's pronounced "'Orrible murdah" :smalltongue:

Picky picky :smallamused:

# I go take a closer look at the most recent scene of the crime. Perhaps I'll spot something. 48

# I talk with Taggart about setting up a refuge, so the local unfortunates have somewhere to go instead of huddling in an alleyway waiting to be picked off. 22


[quote=Steampunk]
You did once do this professionally, after all.

There is nothing to distinguish the alleyway from a dozen like it in the immediate vicinity. The body has been removed, with only a faint blood smear to tell where it was found. You spot no unusual buttons or foreign coins or anything of the sort.

You look up from your search to meet the accusing eyes of a pair of bobbies.

"And what are you here looking for?" one demands.


Uh-oh. Of course the police would be watching the crime scene.



Vote 199:

# I tell the truth. I used to be a police surgeon, and I thought I might find a clue to the killer.
# I pretend to be a friend of the beggar, wanting to see where he spent his last moments.
# I apologize and back away, letting them think me an idler attracted by the recent horror.




There's a skill check here against a couple of different things -- don't assume that charisma alone will be enough. Consider what other stats might be applicable.

Go ahead and tell them something; then come back Friday, 30 Dec, 2016, 5:30 PM to find out whether they run us in or not. Suggest being a sun-touched former doctor with a military background is not going to have a good time in the interrogation room.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-12-29, 11:53 AM
199)I tell the truth. I used to be a police surgeon, and I thought I might find a clue to the killer


We have nothing to hide.

Guide Watson well, my friends. Guide him well.

pendell
2016-12-30, 07:41 PM
There's only one vote.

199)I tell the truth. I used to be a police surgeon, and I thought I might find a clue to the killer

Let's give it a try!



That ploy might have worked if you were still wearing gentleman's clothing, and if you didn't have a sun medallion hanging around your neck.

As it is, the bobbies decide you must be lying, and haul you off. You spend a night in a holding cell before the shuffling of paperwork brings your alibi to the attention of those who arrested you, and you are released.

Taggart is furious.

"The very last thing the temple needed was further attention drawn to it. I cannot believe you failed to consider the impact your actions might have on the rest of us."


The problem here is our conventional stat -- it needed at least 50 for the "honest" course to work.

"Honest men have nothing to fear from the police", in my opinion, is best amended to "honest, aristocratic gentlemen with top hats have nothing to fear from the police." Hated religious minorities start with one strike against them already; the police have a bias and a hatred , especially if they lost relatives in the war or fought themselves, so they're already looking for an excuse to run us in.

It's funny that way; the skills needed for a person to "sell" the truth aren't all that different from the skills needed to run a scam -- if the idea is not plausible and acceptable to the audience, merely being true isn't enough to save it.

At any rate, we spent a night in the cells and Taggart's mad at us. Ah well.



After the third killing, the newspapers report that the police have devised a system of intricate patrols, intending to catch "the Ripper" the next time he shows his face. (You're certain this was Woodward's idea; it has his fingerprints all over it.)

Six days later, the morning paper describes the ludicrous and horrific extent of their failure. Two people, one a prostitute and one an Army sergeant fallen upon hard times, were killed in a single night–the latter practically under the nose of a patroller. The patroller came upon the body in a yard while it was still warm, yet no one could find a trace of the killer.



Vote 200:
# What kind of bleeding incompetents is Woodward employing these days, anyhow?

# I doubt the guardians of the law are really trying so very hard. East End lives don't have much value to them.

# I expect Woodward's men are trying very hard, and I know he doesn't recruit fools. That gives me a chilling assessment of the power of this enemy.





"In general," Taggart says grimly, "I prefer to leave these matters in the hands of professional law enforcement, as the private pursuit of vengeance rarely does a society any good.

But there are times when it is a greater sin not to act, and I think we have arrived at one of those times. It is unconscionable that five people have died. There must not be a sixth."

"Besides which," says Chase, "it is only a matter of time before professional law enforcement breaks in here, plants the evidence they need, and hauls the lot of us off to prison."

"Also a consideration," Taggart admits.

"I'll go hunting with you the moment you give the word," Chase says. "Who else is trained? Alice, of course, though she's not as quick on her feet as I'd like. And Elaine, though her training's not quite complete. And–" His eyes go to you.

"No," Taggart says. "John has great potential, but he's not ready for Sanctifier training."


Sanctifier training?


#I stay silent and let them talk over me.


#"I have a great deal of experience hunting down criminals," I remind them tartly. "Surely I can learn whatever techniques are necessary to join your task force."


#"I want to help," I tell Taggart. "I can't stay quiet while such evil is taking place out there. There must be something I can do."



Whichever choice you make, you haven't earned Taggart's trust in your judgement just yet. But the choice may affect stats, even so. At any rate, make your choice and we'll go to...



You will not have heard us mention Sanctifiers before. It's a…difficult thing to talk about.

"Healers can turn into light-eaters; it is a thing that happens. So other healers must be able to take them down. The word 'sanctify' means 'cleanse,' you know. It's a holy calling, but it's also a…grave responsibility.

"The training itself is difficult, so much so that many strong healers find themselves unable to master it. And the training is absolutely required before facing a light-eater. Think about it: when facing any other who desires to do us harm, our greatest weapon is the palm of the hand. But anyone who touches an active light-eater's bare skin is at the light-eater's mercy, not the other way around.

"I don't think you're ready for Sanctifier training, John, and I certainly can't bring you onto the battlefield without it."




Vote 201: #"Yes, Aurifer."

#"But there are other ways to kill a light-eater than by light-eating! You may not have skills with other weapons, but I do."

#"Teach me the basics, and I'll be what help I can. If that monster out there kills me, so be it."



After you make your decision, we'll move on to the next bit.



A knock on the door cuts off Taggart's reply, and before he can call permission, an acolyte pokes her head in.

"I am so sorry for interrupting, Aurifer," she says. "I wouldn't have, except you have a visitor, and I think it really is that important."

Everyone tenses, expecting a troop of armed, armored, and aggressive police officers to pour into the room.

But the door swings open to reveal only one man. He stands with his face in shadow; all you can see are his clothes (well-made, a gentleman's garments, but worn and mended) and his build. Which is familiar–oddly so, deeply so–but your brain doesn't catch up with your eyes before he speaks–

And then his voice removes all doubt. "Mr. Taggart? My name is Garrett Finch. I am here looking for–"

Your chair crashes backward as you stand, and his head swings to you. Your eyes meet–and it is Finch, there is no question–and a sigh of relief drains the tension from his shoulders.


Finch?

...

Finch?

...

FINCH!!??

:smalleek::smalltongue::smalleek::smallcool:


Vote 202: You stagger back, feeling faint, and he reaches to catch you.

#I let him do it, reaching back and making it a sort of embrace.

#I jerk away.

#I let him do it, passively, too in shock to do anything else.





"Mr. Finch," Taggart says behind you. You turn to see that he has risen from his desk, and is watching with a slight smile but guarded eyes. "This is an honor as well as a surprise, sir; we've heard so much about you. Gavin, Elaine, why don't we adjourn to the library, so Mr. Finch and our acolyte can have a moment for their reunion."

"Acolyte?" is the first word out of Finch's mouth when the door closes.




Vote 203: What do you say?

#"I thought you were dead."

#"You've been alive all this time. Did Woodward know?"

#"You bastard, I've been mourning you for three years."

#"Alive? How can you be alive? How did you ever survive that fall?"



...

I think ... I think that's as far as we go, tonight. We need to process.

...

FINCH IS BACK! YAY! :happydance:

Let's join our new friend on Monday, 2 January, 2017. A happy new year indeed! 2016 didn't kill Finch after all!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-12-31, 03:04 AM
okay normaly I try not to say that because it'sso smugly self satisified...
... but... kinda
Called it ♪ (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21383263&postcount=258)

# I expect Woodward's men are trying very hard, and I know he doesn't recruit fools. That gives me a chilling assessment of the power of this enemy

While I think we know for a fact how little east End lives matter, a serial killer making the papers is never a good thing for anyone image and is rarely treated lightly (and of course OOC we know how extra hard Woodward is looking for light eaters, ah), I have no doubt we have a smart and lively one here.

#"I want to help," I tell Taggart. "I can't stay quiet while such evil is taking place out there. There must be something I can do."

#"But there are other ways to kill a light-eater than by light-eating! You may not have skills with other weapons, but I do."
We're still a marksman

#I let him do it, reaching back and making it a sort of embrace.
Hugz !

#"You've been alive all this time. Did Woodward know?"

And hey, happy new year everyone.

pendell
2017-01-03, 08:42 AM
Oops.

Part of its because I'm used to doing this on the first day of the work week.

Part of its because I had a raging fever and am still sick.

Part of its because I was finishing up Final Fantasy VI's Dragon's Den.

But none of these are excuses; I missed the update. I'll put it up on Wednesday, tomorrow.

Time for the very sorry song (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/6685099420604681/)!

I blew it! ... He's sorry
I knew it! ... So Sorry!
I'm very very sorry that I missed your up-daaate!


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2017-01-03, 03:56 PM
Don't feel bad about missing the update, it's great that you are playing this game with us and missing it one time is still a great quota.

Does that mean I can still vote? If yes, my votes are:

# I expect Woodward's men are trying very hard, and I know he doesn't recruit fools. That gives me a chilling assessment of the power of this enemy

#"I want to help," I tell Taggart. "I can't stay quiet while such evil is taking place out there. There must be something I can do."

#"But there are other ways to kill a light-eater than by light-eating! You may not have skills with other weapons, but I do."

#I let him do it, reaching back and making it a sort of embrace.

#"I thought you were dead."

pendell
2017-01-03, 04:12 PM
Go right ahead; I'll extend the voting deadline to 5:30 PM Wednesday.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2017-01-04, 09:36 PM
Aaand I'm back! Temperature's down, I don't have to use the necessary every half hour! So let's do this!


200) I expect Woodward's men are trying very hard, and I know he doesn't recruit fools. That gives me a chilling assessment of the power of this enemy

201) "I want to help," I tell Taggart. "I can't stay quiet while such evil is taking place out there. There must be something I can do."

202) "But there are other ways to kill a light-eater than by light-eating! You may not have skills with other weapons, but I do."

203) I let him do it, reaching back and making it a sort of embrace.

204) "You've been alive all this time. Did Woodward know?" 41

"I thought you were dead." 39


Executing!

I know Woodward doesn't recruit fools ...



You think at first the look on Taggart's face is one of similar alarm. Then you recognize it instead—with another faint chill—as focused determination.


We chime in that we want to help!


""I want to help," I tell Taggart. "I can't stay quiet while such evil is taking place out there. There must be something I can do."
"



"There is," Taggart assures you. "Within temple walls. No, John, listen; you aren't ready for this yet. You will not have heard us mention Sanctifiers before. It's a…difficult thing to talk about.

..

"I don't think you're ready for Sanctifier training, John, and I certainly can't bring you onto the battlefield without it."


We respond: ""But there are other ways to kill a light-eater than by light-eating! You may not have skills with other weapons, but I do."



"Yes, and we should make use of the gifts that are sent to us," Chase agrees, leaning forward to catch Taggart's eye. "Let's arm him with a weapon he can use, and–"

"The people of my temple," Taggart says, "do not carry tools suitable only for ending life."

"We're going out there to end a life anyhow!" Chase sounds exasperated. "What does it matter how–"


Interesting. We seem to start to be hitting it off with Chase, although we probably cheesed off Taggart a little.

Just then, Finch makes his entrance.



But the door swings open to reveal only one man. He stands with his face in shadow; all you can see are his clothes (well-made, a gentleman's garments, but worn and mended) and his build. Which is familiar–oddly so, deeply so–but your brain doesn't catch up with your eyes before he speaks–

And then his voice removes all doubt. "Mr. Taggart? My name is Garrett Finch. I am here looking for–"

Your chair crashes backward as you stand, and his head swings to you. Your eyes meet–and it is Finch, there is no question–and a sigh of relief drains the tension from his shoulders.

You stagger back, feeling faint, and he reaches to catch you.


I let him do it, reaching back and making a sort of embrace.



He is solid under your hands–no ghost, no fever-dream. His reciprocating embrace is an awkward, fumbling thing, but you can feel his pounding heart and quickened breath.

"Mr. Finch," Taggart says behind you. You turn to see that he has risen from his desk, and is watching with a slight smile but guarded eyes. "This is an honor as well as a surprise, sir; we've heard so much about you. Gavin, Elaine, why don't we adjourn to the library, so Mr. Finch and our acolyte can have a moment for their reunion."

"Acolyte?" is the first word out of Finch's mouth when the door closes.



"You've been alive all this time. Did Woodward know?"



He keeps his voice steady, though it seems to take some effort. "Yes. It was necessary."

"Who else knew? Was I the only one you did not trust with the secret?"

"No one else knew, and it was necessary for the safety of the Empire."

You take a deep breath. "You've been on a mission for him."

"Yes. Not quite complete, but he summoned me home to assist with this light-eater business. I…fully expected to find you in the office. I…couldn't believe it when they told me you were here. "I—" Finch hesitates, then makes eye contact. "I couldn't believe it when he told me about Grace, either. Watson, I am so very sorry—I ought to have said that first. You have my deepest condolences. I can't even imagine— Is that why you—" Finch looks around, as though the end of his sentence is to be found on the walls of Taggart's untidy office—and then the words seem to burst out of him. " Watson, what are you doing here?"



Vote 205:

# I hit him.

# I say, quite calmly, "It is no longer any business of yours. The acolyte will see you out." Then I turn and leave the room.

# I say, "You've let me believe you were dead for three years, and you want me to explain myself?"

# I hook a chair with my foot and sit down, shaking with joy.


Make your decision, but it has no immediate effect so we continue.



You wind up in Constance Park, elbows on a bridge rail, looking at the sketchy upside-down reflection of the belching smokestacks in the manufactured brook below. The water is too full of rocks to support a good reflection—of the smokestacks or of anything else—but you know without looking the identity of the man who leans his elbows beside yours.

"I should never have allowed Woodward to persuade me to keep you in the dark," he says. "But I did. I take full responsibility for that." He takes a deep breath. "Please will you let me tell you the rest?"



Vote 206:
t takes you a moment to clear your throat. Finally you say,

#"Go on. Tell me."

#"What was the mission?"

#"How did you survive that fall?"

#"It really doesn't matter any longer."


He will react to each of those , then we will press on.



"I didn't have a plan, out on that boat deck. I thought I was as good as dead, and I was only trying to take him with me. I wasn't counting on a parachute…but he had one.

"And once he was dead, he stopped draining me—so I could think again, and move. I saw the cord and managed to pull it. It wasn't designed to support the weight of two men, but it slowed our descent by enough that I didn't die from the impact with the water."




Vote 207:

#"But how could you have avoided dying from exposure? Especially as you were already weakened and injured…"

#"And you didn't know that would happen when you went over."

#"And then what?"

#I don't say anything.




"The steward had a Vlaski submersible waiting, and the crew brought me inside. They figured me for Woodward's man, and thought I would be a good source of information." Finch smiles grimly. "Which didn’t work out as well for them as they had hoped. They underestimated me—an easy mistake to make; I was in a bad way at first—but light-drain weakness fades with time. The Vlaskesari thought they had a half-dead prisoner. What they had was a ticking explosive."

"You took over a Vlaski submersible single-handed?"

"I did. One Vlaskesar at a time. There were only six. The first was the hardest, but after that I had a pistol."



.. Stalking men through that tiny submarine .. that'd make a horror movie. Finch can be tough when he needs tobe.


Vote 208:
#"And I'll wager you enjoyed that, playing hide-and-hunt in a submersible."

#"How long did this take?"

#"What happened then?"

#Remembering I intended to give no encouragement, I fall silent once more and do not answer.





"Then I presented Woodward with a submersible," Finch goes doggedly on. "He was only just home from hospital. You hadn't yet been released."

So Woodward's grief at the hospital—that at least was real. That's something. Or is it?

"He…pointed out that we'd been given a magnificent opportunity. The submersible logs and records provided a starting point, and I was the best person to send—everyone 'knew' I had been killed, and the seven Vlaskesari who could identify me as myself were dead. So I posed as a Loegrian traitor and infiltrated the organization that employed Madame Albescu."


Reeally. And did you learn anything useful?



"I learned much of importance," Finch goes on. "As a consequence of my work, we believe that most Vlaskesari operatives stationed on Mercian soil are now dead or in custody, and we moreover have a great deal of insight regarding Vlaski future covert plans—and I—we—I—" He licks his lips. "—paid a high price to get it done, but I had to do it. For Empress and Empire. I had to. I wish…" He lets that trail off.



But surely you're not telling me all this without a reason...?



"I am—so sorry."

"We need you to come back," he goes on after a moment. "Woodward needs you–I need you, if we're to take down this light-eater and then put an end to the Vlaski threat once and for all. Leave this–" He waves an uncertain hand as though to encompass the temple and all its works. "–nonsense–and come back with me now. We have work to do."



So there it is. The pitch. To rejoin Woodward and government service alongside Finch.


Vote 209:

#"Yes. I've never really fit in here. I've learned what I can from them, and now it's time to go home."

#"It isn't that simple. I've changed since you've been away."

#"What we do here isn't nonsense. I can't leave."

#"You have a hell of a nerve, thinking I'll trot right back when you whistle."



The first answer means you will leave the temple and rejoin both Finch and Woodward, because they need you to thwart a Vlaskeri plot that could be far worse than anything that happens here ... or is it?

Answers two through four require some followup conversation and we talk through this with Finch a bit before we definitely make a decision. Even the very angry answer (4) is not a show stopper ; the comments for that one say

"This is an expression of anger, which might be the first step either in reconciliation or in permanent separation."

There will definitely be some back and forth of we choose 2-4, but at the end of it we will have the choice of either rejoining Finch, or staying on the temple path. At which point , we won't see Finch again for quite some time, if ever.

What do you think?

Oh, yes. The immediate reason you're being brought back is to hunt the Ripper alongside Finch. Taggart is, at least for the moment, reluctant to allow you to do that at all. So if you join Finch, the two of you will team to hunt the Ripper. Refuse, and on the temple path your efforts will at least be divided.

Have your votes in on Friday, 6 Jan, 2017, 5:30PM and let's see how this all plays out!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2017-01-05, 12:02 PM
# I say, "You've let me believe you were dead for three years, and you want me to explain myself?"

I don't think hitting would be in character, just telling him to leave would be a bit too harsh (we are glad that he's alive, after all) but that's not something one can just shrug off, either.

#"Go on. Tell me."

#"And then what?"


#"And I'll wager you enjoyed that, playing hide-and-hunt in a submersible."

Well, I think so, and there is a bit of an accusation in this statement.

#"What we do here isn't nonsense. I can't leave."

It isn't, and someone should tell Finch and the other people who hate sun worshippers. They can heal things that can't be healed any other way and they belong to the few people who actually care about the poor Mercians.

pendell
2017-01-06, 09:12 PM
Okay, we've got a unanimous vote!

Because we didn't go with Finch immediately, this episode will be taken up with the follow up dialog, at the end of which we will choose whether to continue with the temple, to go with Finch, or to take some third option, such as to get Taggart's counsel (his thoughts might be interesting indeed), or something else similar.


205) # I say, "You've let me believe you were dead for three years, and you want me to explain myself?"

206) #"Go on. Tell me."

207) #"And then what?

208) #"And I'll wager you enjoyed that, playing hide-and-hunt in a submersible.

209) "What we do here isn't nonsense. I can't leave.

Executing!

205) # I say, "You've let me believe you were dead for three years, and you want me to explain myself?"


"No—no. I should start." Finch faces you.


He takes us to the park. We ask him to tell us.



You sense some of the tension ease from his shoulders. He begins,

"I didn't have a plan, out on that boat deck. I thought I was as good as dead, and I was only trying to take him with me. I wasn't counting on a parachute…but he had one.


And then what?



"The steward had a Vlaski submersible waiting, and the crew brought me inside...


I'll wager you enjoyed that.



A slight smile flickers over his face. "Perhaps a little."

"And then?"

"And then I presented Woodward with a submersible. He was only just home from hospital. You hadn't yet been released."

So Woodward's grief at the hospital—that at least was real. That's something. Or is it?

"He…pointed out that we'd been given a magnificent opportunity. The submersible logs and records provided a starting point, and I was the best person to send—everyone 'knew' I had been killed, and the seven Vlaskesari who could identify me as myself were dead. So I posed as a Loegrian traitor and infiltrated the organization that employed Madame Albescu."


He asks to come back, to help him to fight these plots and to catch the Ripper. We respond

"What we do isn't nonsense. I can't leave."



Finch draws a breath. "'We'?"


He doesn't seem to like Watson identifying with the temple.


Vote 210:

A) # "It's 'we' now. I have a family again, a place where I belong. I can't leave them."

B) # "Yes, 'we.' And it isn't nonsense."

C) # "I meant 'they'. It still isn't nonsense."


Followup dialog if either of the second two choices are chosen: So it's "not nonsense"? Exactly HOW is it 'not nonsense', exactly?


Vote 210A (in the event option A was chosen from 210):

#"They find practical ways to make people's lives better."

#"Healing can cure what modern medicine cannot. I've been shut off from my talent for too long. Now I can help people in ways I never could before."

#"For the first time, I feel connected to the rest of the universe."



If options B in 210A is chosen, Finch will be somewhat surprised to hear us say that. "Helping people "? What were we doing as a doctor, then?

Although he will put it more elegantly.



"It's so strange to hear you speak like a—like a Loegrian or a country villager. You've always been—you're a doctor."



Vote 210 A B (if option B to 211A is chosen):

#"I still am."
#"I'm learning to be both. There's no reason one person can't be both."
#"It's a tool. It's another tool. I should have as many arrows to my quiver as possible, shouldn't I?"
#"Someday I'll be a healer, and that's better."



After that is satisfied, we move on to the meat of the matter.




"So…what does that mean? For you? For us?"

You take a moment to find the right words, then say,





Vote 211:
A #"You need to get it through your head that there is no 'us.' It's too late for that."
B #"I can't leave the temple. I've found my place in the world, and I'm staying here."
C # "I can't return to work for Woodward, not after the way he deceived me. I'm staying here."
D #"I'll return with you to work for Woodward, but you will both need to understand that I have been changed by my time here."
E #"This is an enormous decision. I can't make it immediately. I need time to think."



Options A, B, C, continue the temple path. Option D allows us to rejoin Finch and Woodward. Option E opens up a new tree.


Vote 211E (if option E is chosen)

Where do you go to think through your momentous decision?

#Constance Park. The illusion of nature in the middle of the city is soothing, clarifying.

#The inner shrine. If there was ever a decision that required prayer, this is it.

#I need to talk this out with Taggart.



Pretty much all three of these options either eventually bring us to Taggart or heavily push us that way, so in the interest of time, we'll just show the discussion with him.



Taggart leans back in his desk chair, watches you pace, and listens to you talk. When you have exhausted your list of the reasons for and the reasons against, he says,

"What do you want to do?"

#"I'm leaning toward staying."
"I would be pleased if you did, obviously, but only if it is what you truly want. You'll have my support either way.

#"I'm leaning toward going back."
"If you did, you would be closing no door here—in case that makes a difference to you. You'll have my support either way.

#I shrug helplessly. "If I knew, I'd tell you."
Taggart smiles. "Well, that's good, at least. In case it makes a difference, you should know that you'll have my support either way.

#I avoid a direct answer. "I'm so angry at him."
"Of course you are," Taggart says. "You will have to work through that in either case; the question is where you choose to do it. In case it makes a difference, you should know that you'll have my support either way.

Stay and work with us to heal this city; or go back, and take with you what you have learned here. Maybe in your hands that knowledge becomes a bridge between the temple and the modern world."

Then you are sure of your answer.




Vote 212: Final Answer

#"I'm staying, Aurifer."

#"I'm going back."


That's the really crucial vote here.

Have your votes in on Monday, 9 Jan 2017, 5:30PM. Note that vote 211 can be obviated by 210, and 212 can be obviated by either 211 or 210.

Because this is a bit confusing, along with your votes tell me plainly TEMPLE or FINCH. Whichever gets more votes, I'll make sure the story goes that way even if the branches can get a bit confusing on the way. If we have 3 votes for various flavors of "leave the temple" versus only two for "stay", "leave" will when regardless of how the votes are spread across the branches. The same goes the other way of course.

See you Monday, God willing!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2017-01-08, 06:48 PM
I'm leaning towards FINCH.

# "Yes, 'we.' And it isn't nonsense."

#"Healing can cure what modern medicine cannot. I've been shut off from my talent for too long. Now I can help people in ways I never could before."

#"I'm learning to be both. There's no reason one person can't be both."

#"This is an enormous decision. I can't make it immediately. I need time to think."

This is a really tough decision.

#I need to talk this out with Taggart.


#"I'm going back."

This hopefully allows us to have both a connection to the temple and to Woodward, while we would probably loose most of our connection to Woodward if we stay at the temple.

pendell
2017-01-09, 07:48 PM
210) # "Yes, 'we.' And it isn't nonsense."

210A) #"Healing can cure what modern medicine cannot. I've been shut off from my talent for too long. Now I can help people in ways I never could before."

211) #"I'm learning to be both. There's no reason one person can't be both."

212) #"This is an enormous decision. I can't make it immediately. I need time to think."


212A) #I need to talk this out with Taggart.


213) "I'm going back.

Looks like Watson is rejoining Finch to get the Ripper and stop the Vlaski. So be it!

" "Yes, 'we.' And it isn't nonsense.""



Finch starts to reply, then visibly thinks better of what he was going to say. "All right," he says after a pause. "I apologize for my choice of words." You see him search for different ones. "What do they do here, that is so valuable to you?"


"Healing can cure what modern medicine cannot. I've been shut off from my talent for too long. Now I can help people in ways I never could before."



Finch nods slowly, seeing the benefit, but still looks both surprised and uncomfortable. "It's so strange to hear you speak like a—like a Loegrian or a country villager. You've always been—you're a doctor."


"I'm learning to be both. There's no reason one person can't be both."



"So…what does that mean? For you? For us?"

You take a moment to find the right words, then say,


"This is an enormous decision. I can't make it immediately. I need time to think."



"All right," Finch says. "Fairly said. Take as much time as you need."





Taggart leans back in his desk chair, watches you pace, and listens to you talk. When you have exhausted your list of the reasons for and the reasons against, he says, "What do you want to do?"


"If I knew, I'd tell you"




Taggart smiles. "Well, that's good, at least. In case it makes a difference, you should know that you'll have my support either way. Stay and work with us to heal this city; or go back, and take with you what you have learned here. Maybe in your hands that knowledge becomes a bridge between the temple and the modern world."

Then you are sure of your answer.



"I'm going back."



Taggart does not look surprised at your decision.

"Centuries ago," he says, "the custom of fosterage was common among Mercia's noble houses–and great temples, for that matter. One sent a child to spend some years as a ward elsewhere, so that he or she came to regard more than one place as home. Families, you see, can build bridges where even the most well-meaning of strangers fail. It should not surprise you—" He grins a little. "—to learn I am fond of old customs.

"And there may be shorter-term gains as well. I have sometimes thought you were frustrated by how little we can practically accomplish here. Returning to your old life, you will have more leverage to change the things that must be changed."

"Well," you hesitate. "Perhaps not. Sun-worshippers may not hold positions of responsibility."

"I know," Taggart says. "Try to fix that one first, will you?" He sobers immediately. "No. Second. First, free Kingsford from this light-eater; there is no task more important." He reaches to lay his hands over yours. "May the Sun bless the work of your hands."


Achievement: Building Bridges : Built a bridge between the sun temple and the conventional world.

Which we have now won a second time since we also won it buy convincing the Sun Temple healers to use medicine.



Your former colleagues in Woodward's office look at you askance, but Finch has convinced Woodward to take you back on the team, and Woodward keeps everyone else in line.

You and Finch are strange around each other; neither you nor Finch fit smoothly into the clockwork of the office; Woodward looks worn to the bone by the worry over the Ripper. In this exceedingly awkward atmosphere, plans go forward to catch the monster that stalks the East End.


Achievement: The Empire's Man : Returned to work for Arthur Woodward.

Now let's catch a serial killer.



"You've been attempting to hunt the Ripper," Finch says to Woodward, "and he's escaped your net every time. Suppose you entice him to hunt us, instead?"

Finch's plan divides Woodward's enormous patrol in two. Instead of all the patrollers acting as hunters, half will be bait–clothed, made-up, and coached into behavior appropriate for helpless unfortunates. Each "helpless" target will be kept in sight at all times by a hunter.

The targets are not, of course, all that helpless. You know, because you've been assigned to be one of them.



Vote 214:

# If I hadn't been assigned, I would have volunteered. I want it to be my hand that strikes the Ripper down.

# If I hadn't been assigned, I would have volunteered. It would have been the easiest way to make sure Finch took the relatively safer role of hunter.

# If I hadn't been assigned, I would have volunteered. I've been wanting to enact this very strategy.

# I was assigned this role despite my vociferous objections.

#I had no particular preference as to assignment. Whichever Woodward needed me to do was fine by me.
[/ color]



You are given a tattered Army Sergeant's uniform, and coached in the stance, walk, and speech of a drunkard.

You are practicing your routine in front of a mirror in a disused office near Woodward's when you see Finch appear in the reflected doorway. He hesitates a moment.



[color=#0000FF]
Vote 215: How do you respond?

#"Come in."

#"Did you want something?"

#I raise an inquiring but unencouraging eyebrow.

#I do not respond.





Finch crosses the threshold.
"Just wanted to check that you have everything you need."



Vote 216:
#"Yes." I meet his eyes in the mirror and smile a little. "I'm looking forward to this."

#"Yes."

#I nod.

#I do not respond.




He looks you up and down. "If you plan to take your revolver, you should make them give you a bulkier jacket."




Vote 217:
#"Oh, good thought."

#"Or I could leave the revolver behind, I suppose."

#"I thought of that, but I'm not sure a heavier jacket is in character."

#"I think this one will do fine."





Finch nods. "Good hunting."

A few hours later, you are walking through a slum in the East End, putting one foot unsteadily in front of the other in an imitation of drunkenness. The people around you offer plenty of inspiration for your behavior; no one here is sober.

This place is among the very lowest of the low. Footpads knife the unwary for a chance of pennies. Men and women sell their bodies for a glass of gin. Between the lack of streetlamps and the yellow fog rolling in off the river, it is almost impossible to see.



Heeere ripper ripper ripper ...



You go through the routine appropriate to your character–stumbling into seedy taverns, pretending to drink more than you actually swallow, stumbling out again, begging pennies from passers-by, repeating the process. You have just left the third tavern–not having consumed enough to feel drunk, just enough to feel ill–when a voice speaks to you from the mouth of an alleyway.

"Hello there, soldier boy." It's a man's voice, hoarse and slurred with drink. "Looking for companionship this fine night? Come back here with me."

Your heartbeat quickens. A back-alley whore looking for a customer, thinking you must have pennies to pay him if you've just spent some on gin? Or the Ripper targeting a presumably helpless man?

You have no way to tell. The targets were not issued Nigel-Trevelyan Glasses, for obvious reasons. You'll have to get your information the old-fashioned way.




Vote 218:
#I seize the chance and join him in the alleyway.

#I linger another few moments, trying to gather more information.



The game is afoot, perhaps! Come back on [b]Wednesday, 11 Jan, 2017, 5:30PM[b/], to see if we've caught a killer!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2017-01-10, 05:46 PM
# If I hadn't been assigned, I would have volunteered. I've been wanting to enact this very strategy.

#"Come in."

#I nod.

Friendly, but a little reserved.

#"Oh, good thought."

Sice we have good markmanship, I think we should take the pistol.


#I linger another few moments, trying to gather more information.

I don't think it's a good idea to just follow a potential ripper in an alleyway. And it matches our stats: we are sneaky, not fast.

pendell
2017-01-11, 07:40 PM
214) # If I hadn't been assigned, I would have volunteered. I've been wanting to enact this very strategy.

215) #"Come in."

216) #I nod.

217) Friendly, but a little reserved.

218) #"Oh, good thought."


219) #I linger another few moments, trying to gather more information.

Executing!



ou are given a tattered Army Sergeant's uniform, and coached in the stance, walk, and speech of a drunkard.

You are practicing your routine in front of a mirror in a disused office near Woodward's when you see Finch appear in the reflected doorway. He hesitates a moment.


"Come in."



Finch crosses the threshold and leans against the doorframe. "Just wanted to check that you have everything you need."


I nod.



He looks you up and down. "If you plan to take your revolver, you should make them give you a bulkier jacket."



Oh, good thought.



Finch nods. "Good hunting."

A few hours later, you are walking through a slum in the East End, putting one foot unsteadily in front of the other in an imitation of drunkenness. The people around you offer plenty of inspiration for your behavior; no one here is sober.

This place is among the very lowest of the low. Footpads knife the unwary for a chance of pennies. Men and women sell their bodies for a glass of gin. Between the lack of streetlamps and the yellow fog rolling in off the river, it is almost impossible to see.

You go through the routine appropriate to your character–stumbling into seedy taverns, pretending to drink more than you actually swallow, stumbling out again, begging pennies from passers-by, repeating the process. You have just left the third tavern–not having consumed enough to feel drunk, just enough to feel ill–when a voice speaks to you from the mouth of an alleyway.

"Hello there, soldier boy." It's a man's voice, hoarse and slurred with drink. "Looking for companionship this fine night? Come back here with me."

Your heartbeat quickens. A back-alley whore looking for a customer, thinking you must have pennies to pay him if you've just spent some on gin? Or the Ripper targeting a presumably helpless man?

You have no way to tell. The targets were not issued Nigel-Trevelyan Glasses, for obvious reasons. You'll have to get your information the old-fashioned way.


I linger another few minutes, trying to gather information.



"Why?" you say lightly. "What's back there?"

"Come and find out," the throaty voice says, and its owner holds out one smooth and slender hand.

A well-kept hand. This is not a back-alley whore, but rather a very clever person aping the voice of one.

Without touching the hand, you slip between the shadows and into the alleyway.


Stealthy: 70 Quick: 30



You are standing only inches away from your new companion now, yet between the darkness and the cloak he wears, you can make out very little of his features. You get an impression of thick red-gold hair. Well-kept, like the hands.

Gentleman's hands. Gentleman's clothing. Red hair. A ruse to entice you into an alleyway.

You are standing face to face with the Ripper.



Vote 220:

# I have to fight off the fury that threatens to betray my disguise.

# I have to fight off the ice that tries to settle around my heart.

# I have to fight off the little smile that wants to settle on my lips. Now we end this.

# I have to bite back the sigh of mingled satisfaction and relief. About time. And now we end this.


Now that we've determined our attitude, it's time to act.


Vote 221:

#I act as though I have fallen for the ruse and consider myself his customer.

#I identify myself as a hunter and inform the Ripper that his reign of terror ends now!

#I pretend I'm a light-eater too, and that I'm looking for an alliance.



Those are our choices for the moment. Consider very carefully how your stats and previous actions would relate to each choice. What shall it be? Remember, we're standing face to face with a killer!

See you Friday, 13 Jan, 2016, 5:30PM to see if we can make it through this mess!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2017-01-13, 05:31 PM
# I have to bite back the sigh of mingled satisfaction and relief. About time. And now we end this.

We are very charismatic, good healers and detectives, compassionate, stealthy and slightly unconventional.

Announcing who we are is probably not a good idea. On the other hand, pretending to be a light-eater will probably let him be on guard.
Pretending to fall for his ruse ... we aren't quick and this could go really badly if he gets to our bare skin.

Still, I like this one better than the other ideas. If we can pull this off, he won't know what hit him!


#I act as though I have fallen for the ruse and consider myself his customer.

Please don't blame me if we get killed. :smallwink:

pendell
2017-01-14, 11:33 AM
Just saw this. Sorry I'm a little late.

220) # I have to bite back the sigh of mingled satisfaction and relief. About time. And now we end this.

221) #I act as though I have fallen for the ruse and consider myself his customer.


Executing!

I have to bite back the sigh of mingled satisfaction and relief. About time. And now we end this.



The plan calls for you to play for time until your reinforcements arrive. How do you go about doing this?


I act as though I have fallen for the ruse and consider myself his customer.



What'll you give me in exchange for a drink?" you ask.

"Anything you like, soldier boy." The smooth hands reach for your face. "I like soldiers, you know."

"Do you?" You casually ease back a pace. "What's so enticing about them?"

He pursues you a step. "Soldiers like it dangerous."



Vote 222:

# I step back again, forcing a chuckle. "Are you so dangerous, then?"

# I catch hold of his wrists, careful to touch sleeve rather than skin, and hold them as if playfully. "This soldier likes it rough. Does that cost extra?"

# I force myself not to retreat. "Stand still," I order in my best parade-ground inflection, adding in explanation, "This soldier likes obedience. Does that cost extra?"


Thanks for seeing this through, Alarra. We're dancing with death here, so this is our only vote. Keep us alive if you can! And I'll see you Monday, 16 January, 2017, 5:30PM! Again, sorry for the late update!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2017-01-16, 05:16 PM
So ... not quick, not athletic ... it's probably not a good idea to grapple. Retreating a bit is probably the safest option.

# I step back again, forcing a chuckle. "Are you so dangerous, then?"

pendell
2017-01-16, 06:39 PM
Let's give it a try!

Thanks for sticking this out, by the way.


I step back again, forcing a chuckle. "Are you so dangerous, then?"



"Oh yes," the Ripper breathes. "Kiss me and find out." His reaching hands brush your face.




Vote 222:

A) I catch hold of his wrists, careful to touch sleeve rather than skin, and hold them as if playfully.
B) I can't stop instinctively flinching away.
C) I let him touch me. It takes at least ten minutes to mutilate and drain his victims, and my reinforcements will be here by then.



If choice A is selected we have a followup vote:



The Ripper frees himself easily, but not urgently.

A little smile plays around the full lips, though the rest of his face is still in shadow. "Oddly enough, I like it rough too. No extra charge." He reaches for your wrists in turn.



Vote 222A (only if choice A was selected above) :

A) I can't stop instinctively flinching away.

B) I let him touch me. It takes at least ten minutes to mutilate and drain his victims, and my reinforcements will be here by then.

C) "Stand still," I order in my best parade-ground inflection, adding, "I also like obedience. It's my pennies buying the gin; we do it my way."



If choice C is selected we have one more follow up:



The man before you halts, seeming a little surprised to find he has done so. "Aren't you delightful," he purrs. "Oh yes, this will cost you extra."

You ease one more step away. "Name your price, then."

"Let's start with a kiss." He closes again.



Vote 222AC (only if option C is selected for choice 222A, which itself only comes into play if we voted for choice A in 222).

#I can't stop instinctively flinching away.

#I let him touch me. It takes at least ten minutes to mutilate and drain his victims, and my reinforcements will be here by then.



So it's all eventually filtering down to the choice to "flinch away" or "let him drain you". There are obvious downsides to both. In the first, he may get wind the jig is up. If the second , your reinforcements may still not show up in time. And even if he isn't able to kill you, he still may incapacitate you to the point you can't use your revolver.

Have your votes in on Wednesday, 18 Jan 2017, 5:30 PM ! Thank you again for coming through!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2017-01-17, 05:06 PM
Maybe the others already bought the game?

I really don't want to be drained, so I'm just going to hope Watson's Charisma is high enough to deceive the Ripper.

# I catch hold of his wrists, careful to touch sleeve rather than skin, and hold them as if playfully.

# "Stand still," I order in my best parade-ground inflection, adding, "I also like obedience. It's my pennies buying the gin; we do it my way."

#I can't stop instinctively flinching away.

smuchmuch
2017-01-18, 02:06 AM
# I catch hold of his wrists, careful to touch sleeve rather than skin, and hold them as if playfully.

# "Stand still," I order in my best parade-ground inflection, adding, "I also like obedience. It's my pennies buying the gin; we do it my way."

#I let him touch me. It takes at least ten minutes to mutilate and drain his victims, and my reinforcements will be here by then.

pendell
2017-01-18, 06:00 PM
220) I catch hold of his wrists, careful to touch sleeve rather than skin, and hold them as if playfully.

220A) "Stand still," I order in my best parade-ground inflection, adding, "I also like obedience. It's my pennies buying the gin; we do it my way."

220AC)

#I can't stop instinctively flinching away. 36

#I let him touch me. It takes at least ten minutes to mutilate and drain his victims, and my reinforcements will be here by then. 22

Randomella's attitude seems to be: There's no way I'm letting this creep touch me. Can't say I blame her.

I catch hold of his wrists, careful to touch sleeve rather than skin, and hold them as if playfully.



"This soldier likes it rough," you say. "Does that cost extra?"

The Ripper frees himself easily, but not urgently. A little smile plays around the full lips, though the rest of his face is still in shadow. "Oddly enough, I like it rough too. No extra charge." He reaches for your wrists in turn.


He "frees himself easily" because we don't have the athletics to keep him trapped. But our charisma is high enough that we are able to convincingly play the part of a drunk, not an undercover cop.

"Stand still," I order in my best parade-ground inflection, adding, "I also like obedience. It's my pennies buying the gin; we do it my way."



The man before you halts, seeming a little surprised to find he has done so. "Aren't you delightful," he purrs. "Oh yes, this will cost you extra."

You ease one more step away. "Name your price, then."

"Let's start with a kiss." He closes again.


Our charisma is high enough that are parade ground act actually rocks him back on his heels a bit, buying us a few precious seconds. But now we're out of time. Smuchmuch made a gutsy call, but Randomella wants to flinch away. So we do.



He stills. You can't see his eyes, but his posture betrays suspicion.

You might not have time to wait for reinforcements.


Uh-oh. The jig is up!


Vote 223: What do you do?


# I don't need reinforcements! Before the Ripper's hands can touch my bare skin, I pull out my revolver and shoot.
# I'm not sure I can make that shot. I grab a handy length of pipe and swing with it.
# I whip out the syringe I was carrying against this moment, and plunge it into the Ripper's skin.



I believe that's marksmanship, athletics, and medicine respectively. Act fast! Come back Friday, 20 Jan, 5:30 PM, and we'll see if we survive this!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2017-01-19, 05:20 PM
Well, marksmanship is our best stat of the three.


# I don't need reinforcements! Before the Ripper's hands can touch my bare skin, I pull out my revolver and shoot.

smuchmuch
2017-01-20, 05:57 AM
At this point, I wouldn't put it past this game that this guy turned out not to be the reaper, just a creepy muger or another unrelated creep and our medecine still decent. Still they probably aren't oo friendly so...

# I don't need reinforcements! Before the Ripper's hands can touch my bare skin, I pull out my revolver and shoot.

Also the fact there could be male (and gay apprently) prostitute openly recruiting client in the street seems to show Merciua is a tiny bit more open than the victorian society it is inspired from. (because to my knowlege, vicotrian era england was /not tolerant of homosexuality)

pendell
2017-01-20, 08:12 PM
Also the fact there could be male (and gay apprently) prostitute openly recruiting client in the street seems to show Merciua is a tiny bit more open than the victorian society it is inspired from. (because to my knowlege, vicotrian era england was /not tolerant of homosexuality)


You might be surprised (http://www.historyextra.com/article/sex-and-love/victorians%E2%80%99-surprisingly-liberal-attitude-towards-gay-men)

From what I've read about Arthur Turing eighty years later, he had plenty of access to male prostitutes . It's not the sort of thing discussed in polite company but evidently , once upon a time, you could get just about anything in the slums if the price was right.

C.S. Lewis, in "Surprised by Joy", discussed the homosexual exploits of his fellow students at his boarding school. Presumably those that weren't killed at the Somme went on to be stout, harrumphing British gentlemen for whom that sort of thing is unthinkable. Ah, as they say, 'hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue'.

At any rate, we're going to just shoot him (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhyDontYouJustShootHim?from=Main.WhyDontYaJustShoo tHim)




The Ripper is lunging for you even as you aim the revolver. If you were any slower on the draw or your hands shook even a little, you could never manage to get a shot off before he closes. Fortunately, one shot is all you need.

You don't manage a killing shot, but the Ripper staggers back and slumps to one knee.

And footsteps burst around the corner behind you.


Footsteps...?



It's Finch, revolver at the ready, and the instant he sees you are clear of the shot, he doesn't hesitate, just starts firing.

It is not, of course, quite that simple. The Ripper, like many ancient light-eaters, has enough stolen life that he can easily survive what would kill a normal person. Many of Finch's bullets hit, and the Ripper is injured, but he is not killed. In the pause when Finch tries to reload, the Ripper surges forward.



Vote 224:

# I physically interpose myself between them.
# I take over with my revolver, keeping the Ripper off balance while Finch reloads his weapon.
# I close my hand over a piece of brick, and when the moment is right, I throw.



Choose your stat and let's go! Choose correctly and maybe the Ripper won't have a chance to kill Finch. Evidently the light he has gorged on has made him practically immortal, so we're going to have to take that into consideration. OTOH, if he touches us...

Have your vote in on Monday, 23 January, 2016 ! I'll be at the dentist that day, but hopefully I'll be able to get an update off.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2017-01-21, 01:07 PM
# I take over with my revolver, keeping the Ripper off balance while Finch reloads his weapon.

Shooting still seems our best option here.

Alandra
2017-01-21, 05:53 PM
# I take over with my revolver, keeping the Ripper off balance while Finch reloads his weapon.


Yes, it does.

pendell
2017-01-23, 06:30 PM
All right, we'll fill him full of holes as well.



You don't kill the light-eater either, but you are most effective in occupying his attention. He can't lay hands on either of you while he is reeling from your bullets.

By the time you are out of ammunition, Finch is back at your side. "Got it," he assures you as you fall back. You think you hear him add, in a murmur, "The unstoppable team of—"

And then the real reinforcements arrive.


Eh? Real reinforcements?



Finch's plan was more complicated than merely deploying patrollers in pairs. It relied on a complex series of runners and whistles to get the news back to Woodward, once the hunter was sure the Ripper had captured the bait.

Now thunderous footsteps shake the cobblestones under your feet as Merrill's miniaturized mech—the new model, shrunk to fit through city streets—comes stomping to your aid through the narrow and twisting byways of this rabbit warren.



Vote 225:

#I haven't been so delighted to see one of these since my days on the battlefield.

#I am certainly grateful to have the assistance, but I am still uncomfortable with the idea of mechs patrolling Kingsford streets.

#The terrified screams of the locals kill any pleasure I might take in this moment.





The Ripper looks up into the blank eyes of the Merrill mech.

The mech seems to grin in the half-light as the cannon arm swivels and points. The Ripper's deadly hands are no use at this distance, or against a knight encased in this sort of armor. (Vlask sorcery has never been a match for Mercia's technological might.)

The mech gunner opens fire.

The Ripper jerks and twists like a puppet with tangled strings, then collapses as though the strings have been cut.

And the city is free of him.


Oh yes! Take that! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE4ZOYVKwfQ)

Y'know .. I begin to see that these mini-mechs might actually have a use. Against ordinary civilians, of course, they are wayyy too much overkill. But against a real light-eater -- against a real light-eater they just might be necessary. As this one was here.



When you have regained your feet and the cannon-roar ringing fades from your ears, you realize that Woodward's men—and perhaps some of the East Enders?—are cheering.

Finch offers you his hand.



Vote 226:
# I shake it briefly.

# I wring it hard, overjoyed with our success and our renewed partnership.

# I wring it hard and bring my other hand to cover it. The gesture will not attract undue attention in a moment like this.

# I wring it hard and bring my other hand to squeeze his shoulder. The gesture will not attract undue attention in a moment like this.


Achievement: Steam & Sorcery
A light-eater threatens the East End.
Brought down the East End Ripper with no injury to yourself or your companions.



Bradley runs up to you both, babbling almost incoherently. "Three cheers!" he manages, over the riotous crowd. "To Finch and Watson, who brought down the Ripper!"



And the mech gunner, don't forget.



"His name was Vladimir Zakharov," Woodward says, looking up from a desk smothered in papers. "He came to Kingsford because it offered a 'hunting ground' more 'entertaining' than the 'boring farms' back home. We know this because he kept a journal." Woodward taps it. "It reads like the diary of any bored nobleman gone to shoot big game at the edges of the Empire. Disturbing bedtime reading, to say the least." He smiles fiercely at you and Finch. "A good day's work, ridding Kingsford of that monster. Mercians are not savage animals to be hunted."

During the next several days, Finch appears to have something on his mind, yet be unable to voice it.

Finally he says, "It was—" Then he stumbles to a stop in a very un-Finch-like way. He tries again: "It was—very good—to work with you again."





Vote 227: How do you respond?

#"'Good' doesn't go far enough."

#"We've always been an effective team. I have no doubt we will be again once we get accustomed to each other once more."

#"It was necessary, given the degree of the threat."





"I would very much like it," he goes on, "if all could be as it was."



Vote 228:
#"All is as it was," I reassure him. "Or it will be. We just need to find the rhythm again."


#"I would like that as well. We will try to rebuild it, all right?"

#"It's too late for that. Choices have consequences. I can't trust you as I once did."



And ... I think that's far enough for now. Get your votes in , come back Friday, 25 Jan, 2017, and we shall start the final chapter!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2017-01-24, 06:50 PM
#I am certainly grateful to have the assistance, but I am still uncomfortable with the idea of mechs patrolling Kingsford streets.

# I wring it hard and bring my other hand to squeeze his shoulder. The gesture will not attract undue attention in a moment like this.

#"We've always been an effective team. I have no doubt we will be again once we get accustomed to each other once more."

#"It's too late for that. Choices have consequences. I can't trust you as I once did."


Y'know .. I begin to see that these mini-mechs might actually have a use. Against ordinary civilians, of course, they are wayyy too much overkill. But against a real light-eater -- against a real light-eater they just might be necessary. As this one was here.

Perhaps but let's face it, from everything we've seen so far, against which do you think they'll be used the most in the street of NotLondon here ?

pendell
2017-01-25, 10:16 PM
Perhaps but let's face it, from everything we've seen so far, against which do you think they'll be used the most in the street of NotLondon here ?


You're certainly right. They'll use them regardless of whether they need them because you never know when you'll run into a light-eater. "Better to be judged by twelve then carried by six", as they say.


#I am certainly grateful to have the assistance, but I am still uncomfortable with the idea of mechs patrolling Kingsford streets.

# I wring it hard and bring my other hand to squeeze his shoulder. The gesture will not attract undue attention in a moment like this.

#"We've always been an effective team. I have no doubt we will be again once we get accustomed to each other once more."

#"It's too late for that. Choices have consequences. I can't trust you as I once did."

All right, lets' do it.


#I am certainly grateful to have the assistance, but I am still uncomfortable with the idea of mechs patrolling Kingsford streets.

# I wring it hard and bring my other hand to squeeze his shoulder. The gesture will not attract undue attention in a moment like this.




Bradley runs up to you both, babbling almost incoherently. "Three cheers!" he manages, over the riotous crowd. "To Finch and Watson, who brought down the Ripper!"

"His name was Vladimir Zakharov," Woodward says, looking up from a desk smothered in papers. "He came to Kingsford because it offered a 'hunting ground' more 'entertaining' than the 'boring farms' back home. We know this because he kept a journal." Woodward taps it. "It reads like the diary of any bored nobleman gone to shoot big game at the edges of the Empire. Disturbing bedtime reading, to say the least." He smiles fiercely at you and Finch. "A good day's work, ridding Kingsford of that monster. Mercians are not savage animals to be hunted."




Indeed.



During the next several days, Finch appears to have something on his mind, yet be unable to voice it.

Finally he says, "It was—" Then he stumbles to a stop in a very un-Finch-like way. He tries again: "It was—very good—to work with you again."


"We've always been an effective team. I have no doubt we will be again once we get accustomed to each other once more."



"I would very much like it," he goes on, "if all could be as it was."


"It's too late for that. Choices have consequences. I can't trust you as I once did."



He swallows. "Choice have consequences," he echoes. "Yes." He turns away, and for a moment in the window-pane you see a look of anguish on his face, before he resolutely smooths it away.


A bit of a sour note. At least we got the Ripper.



Part Four
Chapter 9: The Final Problem

The air outside shakes with the sound of approaching thunder, as ominous as the footfalls of an enemy mech. No rain has fallen yet, but it will. As you watch, lightning scorches the sky like the explosion from a gunpowder stockpile.

It is the year 1891, and you are once again a member of Arthur Woodward's irregulars, once again working in partnership with Garrett Finch.

Any hope you may have had that the capture of the Ripper would lead to a brief respite has proven unfounded; the two of you have been summoned. Finch clears his throat, and you turn from your contemplation of the oncoming storm to follow him to Woodward's office.



It was a dark and stormy night ...



"With the Ripper matter resolved," Woodward says, "we may now turn our attention to the distressing intelligence Finch brought home from his stint in Vlask."

He indicates a dossier on his desk, and you pick it up and begin to read.

Confusingly, it has nothing to do with Vlask. It is a compilation of information gathered from various of Woodward's irregulars and informants, and leads clearly to the conclusion that the Free Mercia movement is planning an armed revolt—what the Professor, using Loegrian terminology, calls a Rising.

It is certainly not news that some of the Free Mercia movement seeks a violent overthrow of government, but it is a surprise to discover that they believe they have the ability to accomplish it. And not some distant someday, either, but soon. Imminently.



Vote 229: How does this make you feel?

# Not surprised. I knew the stormclouds were gathering in the East End as the Ripper matter dragged on and on.

# Outraged, but resolute. Under Woodward's leadership, we will surely bring them down before they can do the Empire any harm.

# Exasperated. We will foil this childish plot as easily as we have the others.

#Concerned. The desire for a Rising is not new, but this is the most serious manifestation of the plot I have ever seen.

#Conflicted. I'm certainly not keen to see a Rising, but I have wondered at times if anything less would actually change the dubious practices of the government currently in power…



Ah, The Rising! The mechs must be together By The Rising Of The Moon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQZLYseqNu4)



"You might think," Woodward says, "that this is not a matter for concern. We've known this storm was brewing, and the Empire has the power to steamroll over any troublemakers of this sort. So why do I not let them strike–then we'll know who they all are–and we'll steamroll–and call it done?"

In answer to his own rhetorical question, he drops a second dossier beside the first. "What Finch learned in Vlask."

This dossier contains information on troop deployments. On increased production in military-oriented Vlaski industries. On whispers heard in Court, on rumors heard in the underworld, on funds diverted.

Margin notes in Woodward's hand calculate the probability of imminent border raids at 92%. The probability of a full-scale invasion hovers somewhere between 79 and 81%.





Vote 230: Invasion. The world echoes in your mind like…

#…a funeral bell.

#…a drumbeat call to arms.

#…whistling wind. I can taste freedom.

#…the roaring of the sea. I think I need to sit down.



A Vlaski invasion in conjunction with a Rising? That won't give us a free Mercia -- it'll bring back the bad old days! :(



"This information is worth its weight in gold," Woodward says softly. "It would be worth an operative's life, easily, but fortunately we were not required to make such an exchange. At least my courier did not have to sacrifice his life to deliver this warning."

Beside you, Finch's breath escapes in a hiss, and you glance up. Finch looks deliberately at you, then at Woodward, and addresses Woodward in a voice like ice. "You think not?"

Woodward's lips part in surprise. He starts to respond—then falls silent. For the first time in your long association, you think he might actually look ashamed.



Oh.

Oh dear.



Turning away from Woodward and focusing his attention on you, Finch picks up the first dossier and nods to the second you hold in your hand. "What would be the worst possible combination of these events?"

The question answers itself. You can visualize it plainly: Mercia's malcontents stage their Rising. Mercia recalls and deploys troops to settle matters in Kingsford and any other cities affected. And while the Mercian Imperial Army is so occupied, the Vlaskesari surge over the border.

"A classic ploy," Woodward says heavily. "Poison the well before rolling up the siege engines."

You stare at the two dossiers…




Vote 231:

#…stomach churning and nausea crawling up my throat. Vlaski boots on Mercian soil? For a moment I'm back on the Goráska frontier.

#…furious with all of us that we never saw this coming.

#…feeling resolute. The threat is unexpected; its gravity makes me catch my breath; but we can vanquish it as we have every other.

#…feeling betrayed. I've only just been gifted with the return of everything I thought I'd lost. And now it is in jeopardy again?

#…feeling confused. This strategy doesn't seem consistent with what I understand of Free Mercia's principles.





"So," Woodward concludes, "we have not a moment to lose. We must take control of the timing. We must make the Rising start too early, so that we can can crush Free Mercia fast enough to get our troops facing back outward before the Vlaskesari flood over the border."

"To do that," Finch says, "we'd need to infiltrate and then sabotage from within." He sounds tired, the tone of a man who has just set down a heavy burden and is now told he must take it up again.

"Exactly," Woodward says. "Not you."

Finch's eyebrows fly up. "Excuse me?"

"I want you and your Vlaski expertise in the tactics room with me. Besides, too many of them know your face from your last infiltration, and greasepaints are hardly practical for a mission that may take weeks.
And more to the point, we need someone they already have reason to trust."



Vote 232: "Watson, I'm sending you."

#"Yes, of course I'll go."

#"Er. There must surely be others more adept at the skills required…"

#"I will do no such thing."



Make your decisions and let's see what we can do. Our mission, should we decide to accept it, is to infiltrate Free Mercia and trigger the Rising prematurely. Of course, once we are actually in Free Mercia, there's no reason we have to do that, is there? We could defect, if we so chose.

So ... see you Friday, 27 Jan, 2017, 5:30PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2017-01-27, 04:53 AM
#Conflicted. I'm certainly not keen to see a Rising, but I have wondered at times if anything less would actually change the dubious practices of the government currently in power…

I think that's consistent with how watson develloped in the temple and Kingford.

#…a funeral bell.

No one want that. At best, it'll be complete chaos. At worst, it's Vlaski occupation. And from what we've seen of vlaski aristocracy.... No thanks.

#…feeling confused. This strategy doesn't seem consistent with what I understand of Free Mercia's principles.

The simplest explanation is that the free Mercia movement we're unknowing stooges for Mercian spies. Possibly the 'Professor' was playing double game.
... Then again so maybe does Woodward, i wouldn't be surprised if there was siomething he's not telling us..

#"Yes, of course I'll go."

Hesitating will do no good. We need to be either in Free Mercia or near Woodward for the finale. I just whish Finch was with us for this (kinda regret choosing that last option, last update but...)

Alandra
2017-01-27, 12:40 PM
#Conflicted. I'm certainly not keen to see a Rising, but I have wondered at times if anything less would actually change the dubious practices of the government currently in power…

#…a funeral bell.

#…feeling confused. This strategy doesn't seem consistent with what I understand of Free Mercia's principles.

Maybe the Free Mercia people don't have anything to do with Vlask? If Woodward knows that Free Mercia will strike soon, the Vlaskesari can know that, too, and are just sizing the opportunity.

#"Yes, of course I'll go."

We need to find out what Free Mercia wants, and if it is possible to settle this peacefully. If they don't know about it, we could tell them about the imminent threat (which probably exists, since I don't think Finch would lie about this) and hope that they believe us.

pendell
2017-01-27, 08:02 PM
#Conflicted. I'm certainly not keen to see a Rising, but I have wondered at times if anything less would actually change the dubious practices of the government currently in power…

#…a funeral bell.

#…feeling confused. This strategy doesn't seem consistent with what I understand of Free Mercia's principles.

#"Yes, of course I'll go."

Unanimous decisions! I like! :)



Maybe the Free Mercia people don't have anything to do with Vlask? If Woodward knows that Free Mercia will strike soon, the Vlaskesari can know that, too, and are just sizing the opportunity.


How would Vlask know about Free Mercia's plans? Either they have infiltrated their organization, or they are in close communication. The second is not unreasonable; the US got its independence through a close alliance with France. If it were not for their supplies, their money, their troops under Le Comte De Rochambeau (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Baptiste_Donatien_de_Vimeur,_comte_de_Rochambeau), and most importantly their navy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Chesapeake), we'd probably still be a colony.

But I digress. Let's execute!


"Conflicted. I'm certainly not keen to see a Rising, but I have wondered at times if anything less would actually change the dubious practices of the government currently in power…"



"You might think," Woodward says, "that this is not a matter for concern. We've known this storm was brewing, and the Empire has the power to steamroll over any troublemakers of this sort. So why do I not let them strike–then we'll know who they all are–and we'll steamroll–and call it done?"

In answer to his own rhetorical question, he drops a second dossier beside the first. "What Finch learned in Vlask."

This dossier contains information on troop deployments. On increased production in military-oriented Vlaski industries. On whispers heard in Court, on rumors heard in the underworld, on funds diverted.

Margin notes in Woodward's hand calculate the probability of imminent border raids at 92%. The probability of a full-scale invasion hovers somewhere between 79 and 81%.

Invasion. The world echoes in your mind like…



Conventional: 25 Unconventional: 75

... a funeral bell.



"This information is worth its weight in gold," Woodward says softly. "It would be worth an operative's life, easily, but fortunately we were not required to make such an exchange. At least my courier did not have to sacrifice his life to deliver this warning."

Beside you, Finch's breath escapes in a hiss, and you glance up. Finch looks deliberately at you, then at Woodward, and addresses Woodward in a voice like ice. "You think not?"

Woodward's lips part in surprise. He starts to respond—then falls silent. For the first time in your long association, you think he might actually look ashamed.

Turning away from Woodward and focusing his attention on you, Finch picks up the first dossier and nods to the second you hold in your hand. "What would be the worst possible combination of these events?"

The question answers itself. You can visualize it plainly: Mercia's malcontents stage their Rising. Mercia recalls and deploys troops to settle matters in Kingsford and any other cities affected. And while the Mercian Imperial Army is so occupied, the Vlaskesari surge over the border.

"A classic ploy," Woodward says heavily. "Poison the well before rolling up the siege engines."

You stare at the two dossiers…


…feeling confused. This strategy doesn't seem consistent with what I understand of Free Mercia's principles.



Yet here it is. Perhaps Free Mercia allied with its enemy's enemy out of desperation.

"So," Woodward concludes, "we have not a moment to lose. We must take control of the timing. We must make the Rising start too early, so that we can can crush Free Mercia fast enough to get our troops facing back outward before the Vlaskesari flood over the border."

"To do that," Finch says, "we'd need to infiltrate and then sabotage from within." He sounds tired, the tone of a man who has just set down a heavy burden and is now told he must take it up again.

"Exactly," Woodward says. "Not you."

Finch's eyebrows fly up. "Excuse me?"

"I want you and your Vlaski expertise in the tactics room with me. Besides, too many of them know your face from your last infiltration, and greasepaints are hardly practical for a mission that may take weeks. And more to the point, we need someone they already have reason to trust. Watson, I'm sending you."



Of course we'll go!



"But–" Finch looks flummoxed. "You can't mean to send him in alone. Surely it would be better if I–"

"You've been given your orders," Woodward cuts him off. "You'll be in the tactics room with me, and Watson will be our mole. We don't know what skills will be required once our man is inside, and Watson's unusual combination of proficiencies give him the best chance of success. We'll stage a fight and let word of it get out, make it seem as though he has broken with us—and then, Watson, it's all up to you." He meets your eyes. "Watson, I cannot overestimate the importance of this assignment. You must stop the Rising, or we may not be able to hold off Vlask when they invade. I am confident I am sending the best man for the job. You must not fail me."



You must not fail me. Why do I hear a rasp coming from a black-cloaked figure when I hear that...?



It is not, of course, quite so simple as ringing the Professor's front doorbell and marching inside. But Woodward provides you with some contacts, you take a room in a disreputable boarding house and a menial job sufficient to pay for it, and you slowly make yourself known to the Professor's lower-level operatives. The tale of the patriot who left government service in disgust is appealing to them. Before long, you receive an invitation to a Resistance meeting.

Alexandra Townsend's eyes widen as you enter. "What in the world are you doing here?" she says, but she says it with a broad smile, and she gets up to greet you.



Vote 232: What do you say?

# "Atoning for past mistakes."

# "Picking the right side for a change."

# "Do you always greet new allies with such warmth?"

# "I came for the food, of course."


Hmm.. she smiles when she sees us. Evidently not shooting her when we had the chance and assisting her in the cholera outbreak has made this easier than it would otherwise be.

It appears that the story will continue after we react to her.



The meeting you've been permitted to attend is that of a single cell, not one of the large general ones over which the Professor personally presides. You understand from your new associates that large meetings are rare. The Professor prefers to keep each cell separate and operating independently. Should one cell draw the negative attention of the authorities, the problem can be managed at that level, without imperiling the larger organization.

So you spend the next few weeks proving your loyalty with small jobs—all the time sweating, listening to the clocks tick and the calendar pages turn. Wondering how close to ready the Rising might be, wondering how close to the border the Vlaskesari might be massing.

Finally you are issued an invitation to meet Professor Sean Callahan himself.

He receives you in the upstairs private parlor of a dull little tradesman's tavern. The light is surprisingly bad; it takes you a moment to realize the gas has been deliberately turned down. The man who sits at the dining table wears a black silk mask. About all you could swear to is his general build and the shape of his chin.

He smiles. "Welcome, Dr. Watson. An honor to meet you, sir. It's quite a coup, enticing you to join Free Mercia."




Vote 233: How do you respond?

#"The honor is entirely mine."

#"Less of one than you might think, sir. We've been on the same side for a long time. I've just given up trying to fix things from within."

#"I don't know about a coup, sir, but I'll do what I




Callahan leans forward. His eyes are dark blue, deep and shining and intense, and his voice is warm and cultured and Loegrian-accented. It is an arresting combination.

"I am proud to count you among my allies, John Watson. We know something about you–you are a patriot and hero who has defended his country in every possible way from the forces that threaten it. If someone like you can see that the greatest current threat comes from our corrupt government, then perhaps it will not be long before all good men flock to our banner.

"Now tell me, Doctor—did your Army service ever take you to the far reaches of the Empire, out to the desert lands? No? Then you will never have seen how the Army mechanized soldiers are affected by that environment.

"They were built here, designed to withstand rain and rust and cold–but not sand. The designers never thought of the dangers of sand. And sand, it transpires, is quite dangerous indeed. It insinuates itself into all the gearworks, and the entire lumbering beast falls to its knees. A grain of sand, combined with enough other grains, can bring down an Empire." The Professor smiles. "Someday I hope for a pebble. Today, I am doing what I can with sand. Are you with me?"




Vote 234:
A) #"Yes, sir, absolutely."

B) #"But I'd heard you were planning a Rising, sir. Is that not a pebble?"

C) #"A Vlaski invasion is a more than a pebble, surely!"


We have a followup vote on choice C, should you take it:


Vote 234C: (only if option C in 234 is chosen)

The words rise to your lips on impulse—and then you think better of them. You are not supposed to know about a potential Vlaski invasion. Callahan will surely ask where you obtained your information.

Do you risk the words anyhow?

#Yes. What's life without a little risk?

#Yes. His reaction will tell me a great deal.

#No, of course not! I can't imagine where that suicidal impulse came from.



This is an important interview, so I need you to stop here and make your choices. It will have an impact on the remainder of the game. So I'll see you Monday, 30 Jan, 2017, 5:30PM, as we play our next move in this deadly chess game.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2017-01-30, 04:52 PM
# "I came for the food, of course."

Let's lighten the mood a bit.


#"The honor is entirely mine."

And the last one is the most difficult choice. I would love to take C, because we need to find out the truth - which side is the right one? On the other hand, it seems like a rather stupid idea.

#"But I'd heard you were planning a Rising, sir. Is that not a pebble?"

smuchmuch
2017-01-30, 09:06 PM
# "Atoning for past mistakes."

#"Less of one than you might think, sir. We've been on the same side for a long time. I've just given up trying to fix things from within."

B) #"But I'd heard you were planning a Rising, sir. Is that not a pebble?"

pendell
2017-01-30, 10:19 PM
All right, I'll break out the RNG...

# "I came for the food, of course." 31
# "Atoning for past mistakes." 89

#"The honor is entirely mine." 6
#"Less of one than you might think, sir. We've been on the same side for a long time. I've just given up trying to fix things from within." 14

#"But I'd heard you were planning a Rising, sir. Is that not a pebble?"

Congratulations, smuchmuch. Randomella likes you tonight. :smallamused:



And the last one is the most difficult choice. I would love to take C, because we need to find out the truth - which side is the right one? On the other hand, it seems like a rather stupid idea.


It is. It's an immediate Game Over.


Callahan goes still. "A what?"

He does not wait for you to repeat yourself or attempt to dig yourself out of the hole you have leaped into.

Instead he raps sharply on the desk, and a side door opens. A big burly man strides into the room.

Callahan jerks his head toward you, the big man swings what looks like a night-stick, and you have no chance to defend yourself before pain explodes in your head and the world goes dark.

You don't know what happens next, of course.

You never wake from the darkness.

Those who sent you know only that you disappeared, and that your body was subsequently dredged up from the river.

Callahan would have been willing to kill trusted long-time subordinates to keep this secret. A new recruit such as yourself? He never hesitated.

Fortunately, he chose to swiftly eliminate the threat you represented rather than torture you for information.

Unfortunately, you will never know if the Rising succeeded or if Vlaskesari took over Mercia. You were feeding the fishes long before the crisis came to a head.


...

Don't mess around with this guy. He is seriously bad news.

This is near the end game and a lot of your slack is gone. Your stats really count now, and your decisions can turn the game on an instant from one outcome to another.

With that in mind, let's execute our choices which, happily, did NOT get us instantly killed.

Roll back to when we tell Alexandra we are "atoning for past mistakes".



"Glad to see you've come to your senses." She takes both your hands briefly.

The meeting you've been permitted to attend is that of a single cell, not one of the large general ones over which the Professor personally presides. You understand from your new associates that large meetings are rare. The Professor prefers to keep each cell separate and operating independently. Should one cell draw the negative attention of the authorities, the problem can be managed at that level, without imperiling the larger organization.

So you spend the next few weeks proving your loyalty with small jobs—all the time sweating, listening to the clocks tick and the calendar pages turn. Wondering how close to ready the Rising might be, wondering how close to the border the Vlaskesari might be massing.

Finally you are issued an invitation to meet Professor Sean Callahan himself.


Achievement: Infiltration. Infiltrated the resistance.



He receives you in the upstairs private parlor of a dull little tradesman's tavern. The light is surprisingly bad; it takes you a moment to realize the gas has been deliberately turned down. The man who sits at the dining table wears a black silk mask. About all you could swear to is his general build and the shape of his chin.

He smiles. "Welcome, Dr. Watson. An honor to meet you, sir. It's quite a coup, enticing you to join Free Mercia."


"Less of one than you might think, sir. We've been on the same side for a long time. I've just given up trying to fix things from within."



Callahan leans forward. His eyes are dark blue, deep and shining and intense, and his voice is warm and cultured and Loegrian-accented. It is an arresting combination.

"I am proud to count you among my allies, John Watson. We know something about you–you are a patriot and hero who has defended his country in every possible way from the forces that threaten it. If someone like you can see that the greatest current threat comes from our corrupt government, then perhaps it will not be long before all good men flock to our banner.

"Now tell me, Doctor—did your Army service ever take you to the far reaches of the Empire, out to the desert lands? No? Then you will never have seen how the Army mechanized soldiers are affected by that environment.

"They were built here, designed to withstand rain and rust and cold–but not sand. The designers never thought of the dangers of sand. And sand, it transpires, is quite dangerous indeed. It insinuates itself into all the gearworks, and the entire lumbering beast falls to its knees. A grain of sand, combined with enough other grains, can bring down an Empire." The Professor smiles. "Someday I hope for a pebble. Today, I am doing what I can with sand. Are you with me?"


"But I'd heard you were planning a Rising, sir. Is that not a pebble?"



Callahan goes still. "Where did you hear this?"

You scramble to recover. "Er, it's a common rumor on the streets, sir."

His warm smile returns. "And it may one day be true, Doctor. You will have to wait and see. In the meantime, I am doing what I can with sand. Are you with me?"

This time, you say, "Yes, sir, absolutely," and Callahan beams.


Congratulations , perhaps, on surviving your second brush with death.

On at least one path leading here, there is a skill check. You must either be terribly unconventional (which makes your association with Free Mercia plausible) or have charisma out the wazoo (so that you can lie effectively). If both those tests fail Callahan decides he doesn't trust you. Cue the non-standard game over above just as if you said the wrong thing in the interview.

Good show at staying alive so far. I hope you can keep it up! :smallamused:



After your audience with Callahan, you are allowed into higher-level meetings where you are introduced to more senior members of the organization.

Perhaps the most interesting among them is Pauline Hart, a slight, sweet-faced young woman who often dresses in the same boy's clothing Alexandra customarily adopts. Miss Hart looks hardly old enough to be out of the schoolroom. It is difficult to imagine what she is doing here.



Vote 236:

# I can't stop looking at her in surprise, but I do not draw attention to myself by asking the question.
# I decide to ask the question directly.

# I study her more carefully. Perhaps I can determine the answer without having to ask.


I won't tell you what she is until after the vote -- let's put those brain muscles to work -- but let's continue the story past that point and meet some of the others as well.



In addition to Pauline Hart, you become friendly with Jerry Bancroft, whose forgery skills are fairly good and whose acting and administrative skills are excellent.

And with Jem, the urchin who runs messages for Callahan, and Matthew, a chimney sweep to whom the boy looks up to as an elder sibling or even a parent.

Finally, you get to know Jack Kendall, a big surly man who you are somewhat concerned to learn was very friendly indeed with Colonel Fearnley before the bloodthirsty Colonel was dismissed from the Professor's organization.




Jem and Matthew -- you remember them, they were the young boy and the old man who were locked up with us , back when we were demonstrating with the Sun Temple in the streets. Don't know whether they were there as spies for Free Mercia or their on their own account, at least not yet.

Now, onto Jack Kendall.



"So," he says the first time you are alone together, "what's your game, then? Slumming for the thrill of it, or collecting enough on us to feed to your government masters?"




Vote 237: How do you want to handle this?

#Calmly. His suspicions are understandable.

#With contempt. His suspicions are staged, and the only way to deal with a bully is to nip his nonsense in the bud immediately.

#Physically. It's going to escalate to that point eventually anyhow.


:shakes head: What is it with joining new organizations that there's always some meathead who wants to scrap with us? Back at the temple it was Gavin Chase, the redheaded doorkeeper. Now here it looks like Jack Kendall, part of the team's muscle.

Go ahead and make your choice. Then we'll see if we get to continue the game, or feed the fishies! Choose well! I'll see you Wednesday, 1 Feb 2017, 5:30 PM to continue this deadly game of steam-cat and magical mouse!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2017-02-01, 06:54 PM
#236 I study her more carefully. Maybe I can boost my stats that vital % or Two.

#237 Calmly. There is rarely a need to outmuscle anything you can outwit.

pendell
2017-02-01, 09:40 PM
235) "But I'd heard you were planning a Rising, sir. Is that not a pebble?"

236) I study her more carefully.



There is rarely a need to outmuscle anything you can outwit.


That ... is actually quite perceptive. If I had any control over the game engine, I'd give you a bonus for that. :)



Looking more closely, you see that her nails are not only cut short, but faintly dirty. Her small hands are more muscular than the rest of her frame would suggest is natural for her. And though she looks gently-born, she is here, not preparing for her debut into society as would most young ladies of eighteen or so.

Peeping out of the pocket of her boy's trousers are a number of glinting little tools, including one obvious spanner.

Miss Hart smiles cheerfully at you. "I am accounted a clever inventor, by those who know me well," she explains. "No reputable university would admit me to study, but the Professor pays me handsomely for the skills I already have."



Vote 238:

# "What a remarkable leader the Professor must be, to recognize unexpected skills in his people."

# "Then was it you who invented Alexandra's boots?"

# "It seems very dangerous work for someone like you."


Next we speak to Jack Kendall, and address his concerns calmly.



You speak without raising your voice. "Neither, Mr. Kendall. I'm here because I believe in Callahan's vision. You'll see, my actions will earn your trust before long."

He snorts.

Alexandra re-enters the room, takes in the situation, and raises her eyebrows. Kendall pauses. "We'll take this up another time," he growls at you.


Well, $%%[email protected]%$ you too.



You watch Alexandra, Pauline, Bancroft, Kendall, and the others as they go about their business.

The explosives experts are slowly but surely stockpiling the ingredients for some impressive devices.

The organization's best smugglers sneak firearms and ammunition into the city.

Pauline Hart is working with a blacksmith's son to create an entirely new kind of weapon: a foldable pike that can be hidden under an overcoat.

And Callahan's slipperiest couriers take messages to his Resistance contacts in other large cities.

It is obvious they are planning a Rising. But no one speaks of the Vlaskesari, and with the exception of a few youngsters, no one seems particularly enamored of Vlask.

Finally you are brought to a meeting where the word "Rising" is spoken out loud.


Oh, really..?



Callahan takes the stage like a tenor at the opera, instantly commanding everyone's gaze. "For years," he says, "we have wrought miracles with grains of sand. Tiny interferences, small irritants, wedged into the system here and there, wearing away at the chains that bind Mercia. I have long promised you that one day we would be able to shatter those fetters with a single hard blow.

"The day is nearly upon us. Before harvest-time, the day will dawn.

"From every corner of Mercia the downtrodden will rise! We may be armed with only slingshots and pebbles against the lumbering Imperial giant, but a hundred pebbles will fly from a hundred slingshots all at once, and their collective power will be so great that the giant will shatter, the entire rotten ediface collapse!

"And then—why, then, we begin the real work. The hard and glorious work of showing the world how a nation should be run!" The room is murmuring excitedly, and Callahan shouts above the swell of noise. "Never again shall children labor in the darkness of the mines or the stinking depths of the factories! Never again shall sun-worshippers fear to openly profess their faith! Never again—"

The crowd is shouting now, on its feet, the pounding rhythm of Callahan's words pulsing through it like blood pumped to every capillary by the heart's striking force.



Vote 239:

# I am on my feet with the rest, swept away by the power of his words.

# I am on my feet so as not to stand out in the crowd, but my mind is completely clear, my attention sharply focused.

# I have to fight down a wave of revulsion before I can drag myself to my feet.





"We shall rise up from the alleyways of Kingsford!" Callahan is shouting. "We shall rise from the mines of Turndale, from the harbors of Stratmouth, and from Dunleitir—once fair Loegria's capital, and Kingsford's most loyal comrade-in-arms!"





Vote 240: Is there anything you want to ask?

#"And how shall we do it, sir? How shall we bring the giant to its knees?"

#"But sir, how can so small a group prevail against the might of the entire Imperial Army?"

#"Once we have thrown out the corrupt old guard, how shall we structure the government afterward?"

#Nothing. I'm not about to draw attention to myself.


You may ask as many of these questions as you wish, depending on how much attention you wish to draw to yourself.

Since that's a looped question, I'll stop here and we'll see what more Callahan has to tell us about the planned Rising on Friday, 3 Feb, 2017, 5:30PM.

See you then! :)

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2017-02-03, 02:13 PM
Aw, shucks :) I actually nicked that one off Garfield. Hes right though.
Anyhoo....

Vote 238:

# "Then was it you who invented Alexandra's boots?"

A bit risky reminding people that I have spent time working for the law, but hey, I'm showing an unpatronising interest.

239: # I am on my feet so as not to stand out in the crowd, but my mind is completely clear, my attention sharply focused.

240: Nothing; I'm not about to draw attention to myself.



Letting slip about the rising might have been a clever bit of making myself look slightly too suspicious to be a spy! but I'm going to let someone else be conspicuous here...

pendell
2017-02-03, 06:19 PM
All right, let's do this!


238) # "Then was it you who invented Alexandra's boots?"




Pauline nods. "And a number of other items."


Good call, there!

Now, he gives his speech, and we surge to our feet.

239: # I am on my feet so as not to stand out in the crowd, but my mind is completely clear, my attention sharply focused.



"We shall rise up from the alleyways of Kingsford!" Callahan is shouting. "We shall rise from the mines of Turndale, from the harbors of Stratmouth, and from Dunleitir—once fair Loegria's capital, and Kingsford's most loyal comrade-in-arms!"



240) Nothing; I'm not about to draw attention to myself.

We keep our mouths shut. A closed mouth gathers no fist.



"But sir," someone else calls from the back of the room, "how can so small a group prevail against the might of the entire Imperial Army?"

"We couldn't," Callahan acknowledges, "without a bit of secret help from the Vlaskesari."

There it is.

"From who?" someone mutters behind you.


Good call. Keeping our mouth shut meant someone else asked the obvious question. And now the penny drops.



"I have made contacts with members of the Vlaski Imperial Court," Callahan continues. "They're willing to aid any enterprise that discomfits their old enemy, of course. They want to see first that we have some fight in us, but if we prove we can seize Kingsford, then we shall have arms and money and some border raids to keep the Mercian Army distracted while we consolidate power in other cities."

You hear a few murmurs of unease, but they are drowned out by the eruption of wild cheers.

You wait for the rest.

But Callahan says nothing of any plan for Vlask to take advantage of the chaos caused by a Rising and actually invade.

Perhaps only Callahan and his lieutenants know, and they are keeping it from the rank and file?

Perhaps the lieutenants don't even know. Would they support it, if they did? Perhaps not…



Vote 241: What do you do?

A I can't imagine Alexandra Townsend supporting Vlaski troops on Mercian soil. If she knew, she might act to stop it. I talk to Alexandra privately, after the meeting has broken up.

B I can't count on Alexandra listening to me or helping me. The best thing I can do is pretend to work for the Rising, but secretly find a way to sabotage it.

C Why would I want to sabotage anything? Even a Vlask invasion would be better than what we have now. I work toward the Rising as enthusiastically as anyone else.


There's a followup vote if we choose choice A above:


Vote 241A (if choice A is selected):

Are you sure? Once you blow your cover, there is no going back. What would Woodward say?

#Woodward said the fate of the Empire hinges on stopping this Rising. Gaining Alexandra as an ally is more than worth the risk of revealing myself.

#I'm sure there's no risk. Alexandra would not knowingly support this plan. Once she is made aware, she will work to stop it.

#Perhaps I shouldn't involve her after all. Instead, I will pretend to work for the Rising and secretly find a way to sabotage it.



Once again a fork is reached in the trousers of time, with radically different destinies at the end of each road. What shall it be? Where shall the pebble roll?

Get your votes in and we'll find out Monday, 6 Feb, 2017, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2017-02-04, 05:16 PM
Well well well well well well well.

I think we've quite enough jigsaw pieces now to see the full picture. so:


Vote 241: What do you do?

I can't imagine Alexandra Townsend supporting Vlaski troops on Mercian soil. If she knew, she might act to stop it. I talk to Alexandra privately, after the meeting has broken up.

Woodward said the fate of the Empire depends on stopping this rising.

smuchmuch
2017-02-06, 08:01 AM
I'm not so sure we have the full picture yet. at least not Ic, somehow I doubt Woodward and his army of light eaters haven't more of, a role to play in this. frankly it feels the best if moist unlikely scenario would be the rising suceeding but the Vlaski invasion failing... Well one can dream.


A I can't imagine Alexandra Townsend supporting Vlaski troops on Mercian soil. If she knew, she might act to stop it. I talk to Alexandra privately, after the meeting has broken up.

taking a huge risk here, i won't deny.

#I'm sure there's no risk. Alexandra would not knowingly support this plan. Once she is made aware, she will work to stop it.

pendell
2017-02-06, 09:15 PM
frankly it feels the best if moist unlikely scenario would be the rising suceeding but the Vlaski invasion failing... Well one can dream.


Hrmm... how would this work? The problem is that this entire plan involves pulling the Mercian army off the frontiers to put down the Rising, thereby leaving them defenseless when the Vlaski army attacks. After the complete conquest of Mercia, the Vlaskis then withdraw and allow the new government to setup, keeping technological progress, rights for workers .. y'know, stuff that doesn't exist at ALL in the Vlaski empire, so naturally they would be keen to grant it to Mercians, right?

What percentage of your monthly salary would you be prepared to wager on that outcome? :smallamused: I just paid my taxes and I could stand to make some money.


Once the Vlaski invasion is successful, what incentive do they have to stop and make terms, instead of going on to complete conquest?

The only way I could see the outcome you propose is if the Mercian government promptly surrendered to the Rising, thereby making the defense of Mercia their job. Then they could form a united front against Vlask. Would Callahan go for that? He'd be selling out his partners.

Still .. a germ of an idea? Maybe?

At any rate.

Vote 241: What do you do?

I can't imagine Alexandra Townsend supporting Vlaski troops on Mercian soil. If she knew, she might act to stop it. I talk to Alexandra privately, after the meeting has broken up.

Vote 241A:

#Woodward said the fate of the Empire depends on stopping this rising. 96

I'm sure there's no risk. Alexandra would not knowingly support this plan. Once she is made aware, she will work to stop it. 15



So we go to talk to Alexandra.



Are you sure? Once you blow your cover, there is no going back. What would Woodward say?



Woodward said the fate of the Empire hinges on stopping this Rising. Gaining Alexandra as an ally is more than worth the risk of revealing myself.



Alexandra stares at you. "No," she says. "I can't believe it. I can't believe that Callahan would ever…"

A disturbance outside interrupts her—the boy Jem, sobbing.

Jem reports that Matthew was knocked down by a cart earlier in the evening and died of his injuries. Jem found Matthew before Matthew died, and says Matthew babbled of some nonsense in his final moments—something about Vlaskesari invading Mercia.


Hrm. So he found out the secret prematurely and suffered an "accident", did he?



You can see the wheels turning in Alexandra's head as she thinks about this. You both know Callahan to be capable of exactly this kind of ruthlessness. "I can't," Alexandra says again, but with an undertone of desperation. "I can't believe this without proof."

You nod. "Then we need to go in search of proof, don't we?"



Vote 242: How do you investigate Matthew's activities during his last day?


A) Under the guise of offering comfort, I ask Jem.

B) Under the guise of helping lay out the body, I examine skin and fingernails and so forth for clues.

C) I investigate Matthew's boarding house room.


There's a followup question if we choose option C.


Vote 242C (only if option C is chosen in vote 242)

How?

#By climbing in through the window.

#By sneaking through the back door.

#By talking my way past his landlady.



Hrm. The adventure changes depending on which option you take. So we'll have to stop here and have a vote. How shall we proceed? We must uncover the truth, and prove to Alexandra that the man she has served so faithfully means to betray her and the rest of Free Mercia.

Godspeed! See you Wednesday, 6 Feb, 2016, 5:30PM

Mister Tom
2017-02-07, 03:13 AM
Phew!

A. silver tongued sonofagun that I am, I ask Jem.

Alandra
2017-02-07, 10:27 AM
A) Under the guise of offering comfort, I ask Jem.

Let's use our best stat.

pendell
2017-02-08, 07:14 PM
All right, let's ask Jem.



Jem is moved by your compassion, and soon falls into easy conversation, in the course of which he reveals that Matthew had been plying his trade as a chimney sweep that day.

Further discreet investigation generates a list of the houses he visited.

One belongs to an undersecretary of an attachè of the Vlaski Ambassador.


A Vlaski diplomat, eh...?



You spend a few days watching the house, to be sure of the routine of its inhabitants, and then, when the maids have the night out and the undersecretary is at the theater and the cook is asleep, you and Alexandra engage in a spot of cat-burglary.

"Do you want to keep watch, or do you want to go in search of the goods?" Alexandra asks.

You consider the various factors: the ivy-covered wall leading up to the undersecretary's second-floor bedroom; the lock of the kitchen door; the need to leave no trace at all of a break-in, since you hardly have Callahan to arrange your alibis this time; the timing of the local bobby's patrols.



Vote 242:

# I'll climb the wall and search the house while Alexandra keeps watch.

# I'll pick the lock of the kitchen door, slip inside, and search the house while Alexandra keeps watch.

#I'll keep watch while Alexandra does the rest. She's more agile than I am.

#I'll keep watch while Alexandra does the rest. I could manage the wall, but I haven't the delicacy of touch to crack the safe that is probably inside.


Make your decision, based on the stats and who is most likely to get the job done. Let's go rob a house ! :smallamused:

See you on Friday, 10 Feb 2017, 5:30PM to determine whether we learn something interesting ... or whether we are drained dry like a soda with a straw.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2017-02-08, 11:14 PM
Hmm, Alexandra is a thief but so far we've caught her quite few time, she can be sloppy. And we we are pretty sneaky at 70 stealth ourselves. Our gaility's pretty awfull though.
We could reasonaly get in by picking the lock but would that be considered as leaving traces iof abreak in ?
I prefer to take the risk as we have good observationa nd Alexandra might miss some clues.


# I'll pick the lock of the kitchen door, slip inside, and search the house while Alexandra keeps watch.

edit: @V fair enough, let's let the pro do what she does best.

I'll keep watch while Alexandra does the rest. She's more agile than I am.

Mister Tom
2017-02-09, 01:45 PM
clearly we're not going over the wall.

I'm going to go for ill keep watch: she's more agile than I am. My smooth tongue, marksmanship or (please no) light eating can keep guard outside.

pendell
2017-02-10, 08:43 PM
The consensus is:

I'll keep watch: she's more agile than I am.

Probably a good choice; she is an accomplished thief and one of Callahan's lieutenants might perhaps not attract interest from any guards even if she was found somewhere she shouldn't be.



Light and lithe, she swarms up the ivy. You turn your back and take up a guard stance.

Alexandra has been inside the house for some four or five minutes when your ears catch the heavy tread of someone approaching. The constable. You shrink back into the shadows, hoping to remain unobserved.

The tread comes closer.


Uh-oh. Hopefully we're stealthy enough to avoid detection.



And passes on without hesitation.


Atta boy, Solid Snake :smallamused:.



You survive the next pass of the bobby on his beat equally well, and before the third, Alexandra has returned to join you. Her face is white and set.


What has she found...?



The deciphered correspondence removes any doubt that Callahan could have been duped by his Vlaski allies. The agreement is plain: Callahan is to engineer a Rising, causing disruption sufficient to weaken Mercia's defenses and divide its attention while Vlask surges over the border.

When the dust settles, Mercia will be a Vlaski possession.

There is no pretense that Mercia will retain any autonomy, no nonsense about Vlask hoping for an alliance with the new Mercian government or anything of the kind.

Instead, Callahan has apparently promised his cooperation in exchange for freedom for Loegria.

Going forward, Loegria will owe nominal allegiance to the Vlaski Empire, but Callahan's correspondent promises to remove all Mercian settlers, to rebuild the destroyed Temples of the Sun, to allow cultural practices currently forbidden by the Mercian overseers, and to reinstate the island as a nation in its own right, governed by a Loegrian Viceroy. Callahan himself, if you read the cipher correctly.



So he's selling out Mercia to Vlask in exchange for Loegria. Reasonable, it's not his country while Loegria is. I daresay that won't make his "Free Mercia" subordinates happy, however.



In her cramped, airless boarding house bedroom, Alexandra stares down at the papers.

"This isn't what I wanted," she says at last, in a voice barely above a whisper. "This isn't what we said we were working toward. I would never sell my country to those light-eating bastards–not for any consideration–and if I didn't have black-and-white proof in my hands, I would never have believed it of Callahan."

"He isn't selling out his country," you say quietly. "He's Loegrian. He just bought their freedom."

"By giving away ours." Alexandra shakes her head. "I thought we were in this together, he and I. And this whole time, he's been manipulating me–manipulating us–manipulating all of this–" She shakes her head again, contemplating the scope of the game Callahan has been playing. "I'd almost have to admire it, under some other circumstances…" She starts to pace.


And so the twenty thousand pound question ..



"So what do we do?"


A) "We have to make this information known to the others."

B) "I was thinking lying in wait with a pistol might answer."

C) "We have to prevent this plan going forward. If we can sabotage the Rising from the inside…"


Well, fudge. here I was thinking this was a real choice. It's not so I'll just go through the options one at a time.

"We have to make this information known to others. "



How?" Alexandra demands. "Publish it in the morning edition of The Resistance Times? The network is too far-flung. And even if we could somehow sit down each of them and explain how horrific the plan actually is, I don't know that we'd dissuade them all. Many of the youngsters have some foolish romantic notions of Vlask and light-eaters, and some of the Loegrians and other sun-worshippers might honestly believe their lives would be better under Vlaski rule."



So what if we lie in wait with a pistol instead...?



"No, it wouldn't. Even assuming we could manage it, it would turn him into a martyr, and an army of followers would rush to carry out his plan."


"I don't think so meanly of our colleagues. Once Callahan is gone, you'll be able to take over Free Mercia and guide it toward a less disastrous strategy."



She half-smiles. "Thank you, but you have greater faith in my usurping abilities than I do. I think I could lead it, if I inherited it, and I think I could steer it away from the rocks if I were in charge. But if anyone—Kendall?—discovers I've caused Callahan's death in order to take his place…"


"Then all I can think of is to sabotage the rising from within."

"Sand in the gears?" Alexandra asks, without quite a smile. "It's been proven an effective strategy, that's true…" She paces the length of the room and back. Then she sighs, straightens her shoulders, and meets your eyes. "Yes. Sand in the gears."

So you and Alexandra Townsend are about to engage in a battle of wits with Sean Callahan…for no less a stake than the future of Mercia.




Chapter Ten : Endgame

Like most of Callahan's plans, the Rising is made up of many small pieces, designed to work together like clockwork. While no one component is big enough to draw the attention of the authorities by itself, full success is dependent upon all components operating at their full capacity.

"It's better if we work separately," Alexandra says to you. "That way, if one of us is caught at our sabotage efforts, the other may yet achieve success. I can think of several things I can do to subtly weaken our forces; find something you think suits your talents, and we will hope our joint efforts are enough."

And so you set out alone to throw sand into the gears of the Rising.




So, one order of sabotage, coming up!



our first task is to discover what those gears might be. And then to pick one to focus on, since it might cause too great suspicion if a variety of things start going wrong whenever you are nearby.

Obviously a great portion of the operation is dependent upon the health of the foot soldiers. Perhaps you could use your medical expertise to introduce some contaminant into the water or food stores, causing a long-term illness sufficient to sap the strength of those who are to fight.

Or perhaps you could weaken morale without causing physical illness, by planting doubts in the minds of the foot soldiers. If enough of them steal away, believing the Rising to be lost before it begins, their fear will become reality.

Or there is the need to store the explosives necessary for the Rising in different parts of the city. The destruction or discovery of one of the stockpiles might well attract the attention of the authorities. Perhaps you could use your knowledge of arms and armaments to set something off early, as if accidentally.

The final weak link in Callahan's chain is his desire to coordinate with other cities. Unwilling to trust the post or telegraph, even with ciphers, he is sending verbal messages to his allies via couriers on horseback. Perhaps you could get yourself employed as a courier and subtly misdirect or alter some of the crucial messages.



Vote 244: What do you do?

# No one knows better than I how the ill health of soldiers may ruin an otherwise brilliant campaign. I decide to poison the food and water.

# I've always thought more like a soldier than a doctor. I decide to set off an explosive stockpile early.

# It's been some years since I rode horseback all over the north country, but I'm sure I still have the athleticism required. I volunteer for courier duty so I can divert messages.

# The stories we tell ourselves shape our perception of the world. And I am a storyteller. I can make them believe this war is already lost.


So this is the final chapter! Let me know your decision and we'll return on Monday, 13 Feb, 5:30PM to implement your strategy and save Mercia! Hopefully!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2017-02-10, 09:33 PM
I wonder if convincining alexandra to usurp the rising could have been an option if we had joined the underground/ dated her earlier.

Wel, anyhow,to fail the rising, our two best options are probably:

# The stories we tell ourselves shape our perception of the world. And I am a storyteller. I can make them believe this war is already lost.
# No one knows better than I how the ill health of soldiers may ruin an otherwise brilliant campaign. I decide to poison the food and water.

The first will likely use our charisma, the second our medecine, I assume; of charisma being our best stat nd very high the storry thing is the best option we have but I'm kinda tired of alway relying ont he same stat... on the other hand it would be stupid to fail now, so:

# The stories we tell ourselves shape our perception of the world. And I am a storyteller. I can make them believe this war is already lost.

Mister Tom
2017-02-11, 08:50 AM
I wonder if convincining alexandra to usurp the rising could have been an option if we had joined the underground/ dated her earlier.

Wel, anyhow,to fail the rising, our two best options are probably:

# The stories we tell ourselves shape our perception of the world. And I am a storyteller. I can make them believe this war is already lost.
# No one knows better than I how the ill health of soldiers may ruin an otherwise brilliant campaign. I decide to poison the food and water.
....
# The stories we tell ourselves shape our perception of the world. And I am a storyteller. I can make them believe this war is already lost.

Yah. Either work for me.

It's a shame though: I can't help wondering if Woodward hadn't planned this all along...

Alandra
2017-02-11, 02:02 PM
When your best stat is at 93 of 100, there is no need to ever use anything else. :smallcool:


# The stories we tell ourselves shape our perception of the world. And I am a storyteller. I can make them believe this war is already lost.

pendell
2017-02-13, 07:53 PM
I wonder if convincing alexandra to usurp the rising could have been an option if we had joined the underground/ dated her earlier.



Afraid not; Until this point she has no reason to be disloyal to Callahan or suspect his motives. There are other advantages to joining the Underground, however ...




Unanimous decision!

# The stories we tell ourselves shape our perception of the world. And I am a storyteller. I can make them believe this war is already lost.

Let's give it a shot!



Only a storyteller would think of this strategy.

Only a storyteller could destroy the Rising from within.


The most convincing arguments are the ones made indirectly. The ones suggested with implications, hinted at with hesitations, conveyed with silences.

You know how to do that.

For instance, one day you wander into Pauline Hart's forge when no one else is about. You strike up a conversation, in the course of which…



Vote 245:

# I reassure her that there is nothing to worry about, even though few of Callahan's people were ever trained as soldiers.

# I advise her not to listen to that ridiculous rumor that the other cities do not intend to support the Rising after all.

# I assure her that, despite what the others say, there is no need to worry that the stockpiles of gunpowder will be accidently set off early.




The following day, you join Bancroft on guard duty.



Vote 246:

#I ask him if he is worried that so few of Callahan's people were ever trained as soldiers.

#I ask him if he is worried over that rumor that the other cities do not intend to support the Rising after all.

#I ask him if he is worried over the security surrounding the gunpowder stockpiles.




And so you ooze your way through the stronghold, talking with as many Resistance members as you can. Weaving the narrative.



How will we do? Cast your votes and we'll find out on Wednesday, 15 Feb, 2017, 5:30PM. We're very close to the end, one way or the other.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2017-02-13, 08:06 PM
#suspiciouslySpecificDenial :smallamused:

On the grounds that...

- she knows the troops are untrained if she thinks about it- but he would be able to joke/ get riled
- neither can verify or do anything about other cities, but the gunpowder are something they can do something about

I'm going to day

Vote 245:

# I reassure her that there is nothing to worry about, even though few of Callahan's people were ever trained as soldiers.
246:
#I ask him if he is worried over that rumor that the other cities do not intend to support the Rising after all.

pendell
2017-02-15, 09:29 PM
Yeah, that was a mistake on my part. I meant the next day. I'd forgotten momentarily that I was posting on Monday, not Wednesday.

Anyways, a unanimous decision!

Let's do it.

Vote 245:

# I reassure her that there is nothing to worry about, even though few of Callahan's people were ever trained as soldiers.




You say this in as hearty a manner as possible. Pauline agrees, but uncertainly.

She looks worried after that, and you see her whispering with some of the others.

The following day, you join Bancroft on guard duty.


246:
#I ask him if he is worried over that rumor that the other cities do not intend to support the Rising after all.



He wasn't before, but he is now.


:smallamused:



And so you ooze your way through the stronghold, talking with as many Resistance members as you can. Weaving the narrative.

It works like a charm. The reality you paint with your words is the reality they believe.

A sense of incompetence spreads like rot through Callahan's organization. His people know they have achieved great things before, but they can't seem to manage it now. It's as though the Rising is cursed. Beginning to believe they have lost before they have started, Callahan's people put in less and less effort. Some steal off home. Others are present in name only. The other cities with which Kingsford is supposed to coordinate hear of Kingsford's disorganization, and rumors begin that they will withdraw their support.


Dissension and doubt can be as lethal as guns ...



"We are losing strength every day," Callahan says in a meeting of his senior staff. To the larger group, he is never anything but optimistic and inspiring; only with you few trusted subordinates does he allow the mask to slip. "We cannot wait until the first of autumn. We must start the Rising now, while we can still command the force necessary to do it."

"Or we lie low and wait for a more fortuitous occasion," someone suggests. But there are growls of negation from all over the room. Everyone has put too much into this to bear the thought of delay.

"It is decided," Callahan says. "We strike next Saturday."

You've succeeded in making the Rising start too soon. Now you can only hope that's enough.

That night, you stare at the ceiling, unable to sleep.



Vote 247: Of whom are you thinking?

# Woodward. I must succeed. I can't disappoint him.

# Alexandra. This Rising must fail, so she can get on with fixing Kingsford's problems.

# Finch. I have to survive this. I am so close to getting my life back.

# Finch. How I wish he were here to help.

# Grace. She would understand what I am trying to do.

# Callahan. Do I really have any chance of outwitting a mind like his?



And a next question.


Vote 248: Is there any last thing you wish to take care of between now and Saturday?

A) #No, I'm satisfied with the preparations I have made.

B) #Saturday will be ugly. I need to ensure Pauline and Jem at least are safe.

C) #I need to warn Finch this is coming. There are some things I can't leave to chance and hope.

D) #I need to warn Taggart this is coming. There are some things I can't leave to chance and hope.

E) #I fear that even with the premature start, Callahan has the charisma to bring the Rising to victory, or to quickly ferment another afterward. The only way we'll be safe is if he dies that day.



And some followup votes. First, if choice B is chosen we have a followup there.


Vote 248B (if choice B is chosen in vote 248 to protect Pauline [our young inventor] and Jem [the young boy]) :

How?

#I talk with Callahan about assigning them roles that keep them away from the fighting.

#I try to take them to Taggart.




And there is a followup for 248E as well.


Vote 248E (if choice 248E is chosen to off Callahan):

Do you plan to shoot him yourself?

#No, I haven't the skill.
#No, I can't bring myself to do it.
#Yes.


Obviously, only "Yes" will have any effect. If you do, we'll have an assassination prologue to the main event in which Watson will attempt to kill Callahan. Otherwise ... One Day More (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQoixSsFiKs)

See youFriday, 17 February 2017, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

"Walks away singing 'One more day to revolution we will nip it in the bud...'"

Mister Tom
2017-02-16, 07:36 PM
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution

Meanwhile...

247 I'm thinking of Grace. I think she would understand.

248 I need to warn Taggart. Finch assuredly knows via Woodward, and as for Callahan? The rising doesn't want a martyrdom to inspire it- or the risk of my own unmasking. But Taggart will understand,and can be trusted to remain discreet.

Mercia Prevails.

pendell
2017-02-17, 07:01 PM
Unanimous decision!

247 I'm thinking of Grace. I think she would understand.

248 I need to warn Taggart.

Let's go through it.

"I'm thinking of Grace. I think she would understand."

And our final preparation is to warn Taggart.

"I need to warn Taggart this is coming. There are some things I can't leave to chance and hope."



"Thank you." He looks pale. "I'll keep them inside, and safe. I…if you wanted sanctuary…"

You shake your head.

"That's what I thought." He half-smiles. "I won't tell you to be careful, either. But I wish you all possible good fortune."


:deep breath: Here we go!



n the foggy gray Saturday pre-dawn, the Resistance rises up and takes Kingsford.

At least, some of it does. Many of Callahan's soldiers, convinced of imminent failure, do not appear for duty.

The original plan called for simultaneous explosions to blow up Parliament, the yard where Merrill's miniaturized mechanical soldiers are stored, the main Army barracks, and most of the railway stations.

But you've caused enough attrition to Callahan's forces that he must abandon the Parliament mission.

And anonymous warnings delivered to Merrill's yard and the Army barracks—by Alexandra, you are fairly certain—makes it impossible to smuggle the explosives inside either building.

The damage to the railway stations is admittedly quite severe.


Thank YOU Alexandra! If it weren't for her...



As the sun rises, companies of surprisingly well-armed and well-drilled men attempt to take the old city watchtower and the main armory.

But there are simply not enough of them. They are repulsed from the armory. They do occupy the watchtower for several tense hours, until iron-willed Prime Minister Whitefield pulls together a force to rout them out.



If we had stayed with Free Mercia we would have had the opportunity to cause Whitefield to resign under a cloud of scandal. His replacement would be a hapless nonentity who would be unable to function during this grave emergency. Since we were with the Temple, that didn't happen and it looks like Callahan wasn't able to bring it off without our help.






In the end, the Rising that was supposed to crash over Kingsford like a tidal wave and sweep inexorably across the Empire…does nothing of the kind.

Most of the damage done is to property. Some people caught up in the madness are injured; a few are killed.

Among the last group are two men eventually identified by the authorities as Sean Callahan and John Kendall. Both were killed by a single gunshot wound and left with no clue as to who their assailant might have been–not that the police look all that hard.


I'll bet I know just who did it... or do I? Finch? Alexandra?

Achievement: The Bard's Weapon : Foiled the rising through the power of story.




With the Rising in Kingsford fizzled like wet gunpowder, and the ones in outlying cities not even attempted, the threat of a Vlaski invasion dissipates like smoke. Most of the Empire never knows it was even a possibility.


Achievement: The Watcher on the Walls : Foiled the Vlaski invasion.



Woodward seems to have shed ten years in a night.

You cannot be publicly honored for your role in saving the Empire–or, Woodward assures you, you would receive a knighthood.




# A knighthood would be as meaningless to me as Woodward's thanks.

# A knighthood is unnecessary. Her Imperial Majesty's sincere gratitude, expressed privately, is something I will treasure always.

# A knighthood is unnecessary. I know what I did to save Kingsford.

# A knighthood is unnecessary. Woodward's gratitude and Finch's admiration are far more important to me.

Whichever we choose doesn't affect the game or even our dialog, so we'll just keep going.



A few nights later, you are returning home on foot, enjoying the pleasant warm air. You turn a corner to find Alexandra Townsend leaning against a lamp post, arms folded, gaslight gleaming on her bare head. Waiting for you, apparently, for she straightens as soon as you approach.

"And so," she says, as though continuing a previously-begun conversation, "thanks to the extraordinary efforts of an ex-Army surgeon and an actress of dubious morals, the entire Empire has been saved from enemies foreign and domestic. The biggest off-battlefield victory in a dozen years. And we can't even cadge drinks off the story."


Once again, another vote which has no effect on game play. I'll just print them all out.



#I grin. "The triumphs you can't speak about are still triumphs. At least we know."

"We do." She grins back. "Your part was very nicely managed, by the way. I didn't have a chance to say so before."

"Your part was as well."

"Why, thank you."


#I pretend to consider it. "Perhaps I could make up for those lost drinks by buying you
a glass of something with which to toast to our victory?"

She laughs, genuinely surprised. "Perhaps one day. Not tonight; I can't think it would do your reputation any more good than it would do mine. Plenty of the men and women who follow me as Callahan's successor would kill me if they knew what I'd done."


#I smile. "We can't tell it now. Give it twenty years or so, and I'll see what I can do. Or possibly I can manage something disguised as fiction, between now and then."

She grins. "A tale of adventure, derring-do, and star-crossed…allies? Sounds marvelous. I'd read it. Waiting twenty years to pen the memoir sounds about right; I certainly don't want my part in it revealed any time soon. Plenty of the men and women who follow me as Callahan's successor would kill me if they knew what I'd done."

#I point out, "You can cadge all the drinks you want, as long as you leave my name out of it. I'm the only one forbidden by my government to tell."

She smiles and shakes her head. "Not a terribly good idea for me either. Plenty of the men and women who follow me as Callahan's successor would kill me if they knew what I'd done. It was still worth it."

She pushes off the lamp post with easy grace. "So the Vlaskesari are back behind their borders where they belong. It will take a long time for them to build such a beachhead within our walls again, now that Callahan has been removed from the picture. We live to fight another day."

"Shoulder to shoulder, or on opposite sides?" you ask.

Alexandra grins. "Depends on how you view the battlefield, I suppose.


"The world is changing around us," Alexandra says, "though still not quickly enough for my taste.

You are looking at the new head of the Free Mercia movement. The organization I command is, whether you like it or not, one of the pillars of power in this city, and you and your government will simply have to learn to take us into account. Now and forever after. I will fight shoulder to shoulder with you when we are on the same side, and the rest of the time, I will fight with all my strength to stop your excesses. And someday–" She flashes a smile. "–I'll make you believe I'm right."



Achievement: Balance of Power: Balanced the Government and Resistance's excesses.



And another vote. Again, no impact.



You contemplate this vision of the future.

*choice

#I find myself looking forward to it.

Doubtless you and Finch and the rest of Woodward's staff will spend a great deal of time foiling her various schemes…but this chess game would hardly be enjoyable without a worthy opponent, would it now?

Finch, small surprise, turns out to agree with you wholeheartedly.

#I find myself regarding it with exasperation.

But it is your profession and your duty, and no doubt her various schemes will prove easy enough for Woodward's staff to foil. You'll bring down her and the rest of her childish associates soon enough.

Finch, small surprise, takes a somewhat different view.


#I've never thought about it this way before, but maybe what the city—the Empire?—needs is exactly this sort of push-pull balance.

It could be distinctly interesting to work within that world.

Finch listens with interest when you recount the conversation to him. "She'll convince us to share her convictions? That will be interesting to watch. If she chooses different tactics than her predecessor, she might even succeed. And here I was starting to worry we'd find Kingsford dull, with the Vlaskesari back behind their own borders and Callahan safely dead. It seems I needn't have worried. What a splendid multifaceted city we live in."

#I half-believe she's right already, but I'm not going to say so just yet. I look forward to the next time she seeks to work in partnership.

Finch listens with interest when you recount the conversation to him later. By the time you've finished, his slight smile has become a real grin. He says mildly, "And here I was starting to worry we'd find Kingsford dull, with the Vlaskesari back behind their own borders and Callahan safely dead. It seems I needn't have worried. What a splendid multifaceted city we live in."




And now the wrap up.



Finch yawns. "Tomorrow. Tomorrow's soon enough, isn't it? You've saved enough of the world for one month, surely?" He rises from the desk, stretching. "Come, sit and have a glass with me. I've acquired some truly remarkable old brandy, and it seems like the sort of night that deserves a celebration."

"In honor of…?"

"We're both home, we're both safe, and there's absolutely nothing either of us need worry over. Not tonight, anyhow. Doesn't that sound like something worth celebrating?"

It does, put like that. Finch pours two glasses, hands you one, and lifts the other in a toast. "Here's to tomorrow."

It is the year 1891, and you have walked a long and twisting path since your injury on the Goráskan battlefield—ten years of decisions, large and small, that moved you to this place at this moment in time.

You settle into your armchair and watch the sun set over the city you've saved.

The End


That's it! Great game everyone!

While we couldn't have overthrown the Mercian empire with Alexandra -- not so long as Callahan was running the show -- we could have got the Labor Reform bill passed.


In order to do this, we must either be with the Sun Temple or Free Mercia and not rejoin the government when Finch returns. This puts us in a position to bargain with Woodward -- one labor reform bill in exchange for foiling the Rising. Play your cards right, he will agree and keep his word.

The other alternative is to so antagonize Alexandra that she won't simply assist you for free, but will drive a bargain with Woodward before agreeing to foil the Rising.



So.. the Vlaski are gone, and Alexandra's running Free Mercia. Who knows? Maybe she'll win .. and maybe she'll be Prime Minister one day if Free Mercia evolves into a political organization called Struggle or Work or some such. You might even help her set up a newspaper called the Manchester Defender or some such :smallamused:.


Thank you all. It was a great game! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did bringing it to you!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2017-02-18, 07:19 PM
Uh.
I'm not gonna lie while that was generally a good game, decently written and all, that end felt a little anticlimatic there. I suppose it make sense how it went, just.. damn did it deflate easily for such a build up, really.

Well, nontheless, good game, good game. If you intend to play another, I'll be following.

Mister Tom
2017-02-19, 01:45 PM
Firstly, massive, massive thanks to Brian P for running the show- I went back and checked and the game has been going for 8 months with scarcely a break. That's a lot of typing!

It was indeed great fun- give or take the odd philosophical contretemps- the ending felt a bit abrupt but I guess there were a lot of different ones to write. I've actually bought the game now, so I will see...

pendell
2017-02-20, 06:13 PM
Aw, thanks :smallredface:. I don't mind admitting that this eight month run was exhausting. I'll probably take some time off, but when I get the itch again ... I just might bring a new story. Any suggestions?


I've liked For Rent: Haunted House (https://www.choiceofgames.com/for-rent-haunted-house/) for its tongue-in-cheek humor and descriptions of Edinburgh (though I've never been there) and there's also Choice of the dragon (https://www.choiceofgames.com/dragon/), which is both hilarious and would allow smuchmuch to scratch his evil villain itch :smallamused:.

There's also Life of a mobster (https://www.choiceofgames.com/user-contributed/life-of-a-mobster/), written by the same guy who wrote Life of a Wizard, set in a 21st century version of Daria. It is a well-written story, but mobsters really aren't my cuppa. Still, if there's interest, maybe.

There are others as well. All suggestions welcome!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alandra
2017-02-22, 10:27 AM
Lots of thanks from me, too! It was great game and really fun to play.

Mister Tom
2017-02-22, 01:42 PM
Choice of the dragon looked like a nice change of scenery ( and diet)

smuchmuch
2017-02-23, 01:11 AM
I believe I'd enjoy all three. I enjoy both tongue in cheeckness and tongue of fires (at my roasted enemies that is)
Thanks for the game as usual.

pendell
2017-03-23, 02:20 PM
It's been awhile, but if anyone's interested I think I've found the event (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLpzHHbFrHY&list=PLhyKYa0YJ_5Aq7g4bil7bnGi0A8gTsawu&index=59) that our plague/street pump adventure was based on.

Respectfully,

Brian P.