You are Christopher Phillips, previously just another teenage nerd living in a small English town, and a lot of things have changed in your life since you died.You’re not entirely sure you’re supposed to be here. The South Tower is packed with people, maybe thirty or forty heavily armed guards along with you, Esther and Hendrik, crammed into a space not much bigger than your living room. Esther pushes her way to the middle, giving one very precise cough. The room falls silent, all eyes turning to her in unison. The guards shift positions slightly, falling into concentric ranks.“I need not brief you on the situation,” she begins. “You’ve all seen enough to know what kind of chaos is out there. Enough of us remain cognizant to be able to re-establish order, as long as we can unite the remaining coherent minds and demonstrate authority. Sufficient of the more disturbed family members should fall back into line once that is resolved. Conditions will be unpredictable, but I have confidence in your ability to do what is needed to protect the interests of the House.” You can practically hear the capital letter there, and it seems the soldiers can too - they stiffen and salute as one unit, standing carefully to attention as Esther raises her hand and returns the salute. “We move out for the main keep in fifteen minutes. Standard squads, close formation, and at close range bite to subdue, not to kill. Many of the disturbed should be salvageable. Hendrik, your squad is with me. Fall out and arm up.” ((Cont.))
>>29514204She nods, and the soldiers begin to disperse to other levels of the tower, equipping themselves from lockers on the walls. Their gear is a strange mixture of the modern and the medieval - military body armour with chainmail sleeves attached to it, webbing belts with a sword slung on one side and a compact green-black firearm on the other, like an Uzi with a long, odd-looking barrel. Some of the men and women ripple and shift as you watch, hair and facial features disappearing to be replaced by the same olive-gray scales as Hendrik, and even the human-looking ones, when they speak or smile, seem to be sporting black mouths and long fangs. As the room begins to clear, Esther turns to you, buckling on her own sword belt. She takes another sword from Hendrik’s waiting hand and offers it to you hilt-first.“Would you assist us in regaining control of the house, Chris? I know you lack formal firearms training, but taking down the Corrupter demon single-handedly is more than sufficient proof of your ability with a sword for myself or Hendrik, and much of the fighting is likely to be at close range. Your aid would be most helpful, and once I have the full might of the House behind me, I can provide assistance in kind.”What do you want to say?”About that whole demon thing... maybe I should just stay back, out of the way. It looks like you guys have things in hand.””I’ll do what I can to help, of course. Just tell me what I need to stab.””I have a few other things I need to go take care of, back in town. Best of luck, but I really ought to be going.”Custom((Archives are located at http://archive.foolz.us/tg/search/subject/monsterhearts%20quest/type/op/order/asc/and also athttp://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Monsterhearts%20Quest ))
>>29514222>[x]Custom"I shall do what I can to help, of course. Allow me a few minutes, first, to call and warn my own contacts. They must prepare in an orderly manner, after all."We shall assist Esther, but first we must call Avril and try to contact Isabella via our connection. Avril needs to warn her dad, Miranda, and Jill. Isabella needs to mobilize her network for an evacuation; they're just mortals with no powers, they wouldn't even be good as meat shields.
>>29514222[x] I'll do what I can to help, of course. Just tell me what I need to stab.
>>29514222>”I’ll do what I can to help, of course. Just tell me what I need to stab.”
>>29514377>>29514701Guys, think a little here. We don't know how long it will take to get Esther's Family under control, and we haven't even talked with Avril or Isabella about our assets and getting them secured.
>>29514730Yeah, we should get in contact with our people real quick, give them a warning, then participate in the fight.
>>29514959You carefully take the sword (and attached scabbard and belt), nodding to Esther as you buckle it on.“I’ll do what I can to help, of course. I should probably make a few phone calls while you’re getting the troops ready. Get my assets in the town sorted out. Do we have time for that?”“Ten, maybe fifteen minutes before everyone’s assembled. Should be plenty of time. And thank you, Chris.”“You’re welcome.” Hendrik gives you a brief, pleased nod as you step out onto the roof, looking for a quiet place to make a few calls.The first thing you do is contact Isabella - no need for a good signal or a spot out of the wind when you’re using a telepathic connection. She sounds a little harried when she responds.((Cont. 1/3))
>>29515514‘Hi, Chris. What’s the situation on your end?’‘Esther’s family are trying to kill each other. Ajani and Gloria are missing, presumed captured. And we have two massive, massive threats in town. I presume you know about them.’‘Creepy speech about helping us, lots of powerful magic, everything started going to hell? Yeah. You have a plan?’‘Current plan is run like hell. We’re not set up to fight these people. Evacuate everyone we can, pull back, and come back to fight them once we’re better prepared and have some help. I’m going to need everyone you can muster getting people ready to evacuate. I don’t know how long we’ve got. How bad are things in town?’‘That speech covered most of town, and it was pretty blatantly not normal. People are freaking out. Mostly regular, non-magical ‘what the hell was that?’ freaking out, as far as I can tell, but no less dangerous. I’ve been doing my best to convince people it was just some marketing stunt or something, but I can only reach so many people and most of those aren’t very convinced. We’re going to have mass panic on our hands soon, especially if anything else weird happens.’‘Great. Can we evacuate the people who already know about magic, at least? I’m going to have a word with Avril, get the Fae moving. Can you get your people and our other assets in town secured? Louie, James, Zack, their families and mine?’‘I’ll do what I can. Talk to you later?’‘Contact me if anything else goes wrong, or I’ll call you if I have more news.’You find a dip in the roof that’s sheltered from most of the wind noise, and pull out your phone. Avril’s number doesn’t seem to connect, though. You don’t even get the ‘This phone may be turned off’ message, just nothing. Jill picks up on the first ring, though.((Cont. 2/3))
>>29515532“Jill, thank goodness. Where are you? Are you safe? Have you heard from Avril?”“She was here a few hours ago, talking to Miranda upstairs, and then there was this weird creepy speech out of nowhere and they both just bolted out of the house half-dressed and ran straight for the woods.” Jill sounds like she’s pouting. “They didn’t even stop to explain what was going on. And I think they might have been doing stuff upstairs, too. Do you know what’s going on?”“Trouble. Lots of trouble. No time to explain. You need to pack whatever you can carry and... get to the woods, I guess. Tell Avril the Fae need to evacuate. All of them. And you, too.”“What? But... but you fight trouble. That’s what you do. Like with the King, and the demon thing, and at the dance.”“Jill, just trust me, okay? Not this time. This time we need to run. Pack your things. Go to the woods. Tell Avril. Okay?”“O-o-okay. Let me just... just find a bag.” Jill’s stuttering again. Great. Well, at least she’s moving. You hang up and head back inside.“Sorry if I made people wait. Are we moving out now?”Esther nods. “You’re not part of our regular squad structure, but we can attach you to one of the groups. They’ll work around you fairly well. Where would you like to go?”At the front, in the point of the attack. In the heaviest fighting, but you’ll be right up close, where you can put that sword to good use.With one of the flanking groups, scouting the side rooms and corridors. Less dangerous for the most part, but if there’s any trouble you might be cut off from the rest of the guards.With Esther and her bodyguards. If anything makes it through, you’ll be the last line of defence. Either the safest position, or the most dangerous, depending on what you end up facing.Custom
>>29515542>[x]With one of the flanking groups, scouting the side rooms and corridors. Less dangerous for the most part, but if there’s any trouble you might be cut off from the rest of the guards.We have some enhanced strength and fortitude, but we're nowhere near being a combat machine like a werewolf or any of the combat-oriented people.
>>29515974“I’ll go with one of the scouting groups, on the edges. I can keep up with the guards, and if I’m scouting it shouldn’t matter that I don’t have a gun.”Esther nods. “There, squad 3.” She gestures to a group of soldiers who look very much like all the others. Once you walk over to join them, you do notice a tiny number 3 stitched into their shoulder pads, but that’s about it. The squad nods sullenly to you, each of them bearing the same scale-covered face, flat nose and black eyes.“You’re the boss’s secret weapon, then?” one of them asks, in the same slightly flat accent as Hendrik. “Don’t look like much.” Another one elbows him in the ribs, and he falls silent. You have no idea how you’d tell them apart later anyway. At some signal from Esther, the guards begin to file down the wide stone staircase from the tower into the main building, spreading out across three long corridors with a series of connecting side passages. You all move forward in silence for a time, distant sounds of fighting echoing through the halls. Then one of the doors bursts open and you’re plunged into combat. The soldiers move in practised forms, two laying down covering fire to either side while the three in the middle draw their swords and move in, laying about themselves with sinuous grace. You don’t even finish drawing your sword before it’s over. Three bodies lie on the carpet of the hallway, none of them from your side. You think one might still be breathing, but your squad has started moving again, and you don’t really have time to stop and check.You think the corridor has started sloping upwards now. There’s a few more battles, each equally brief, although now that you’re keeping your sword drawn the whole time you’re at least able to assist a few times. There’s more noise up ahead. You instinctively move closer to the soldiers, your eyes flicking back and forth. There’s a bend in the corridor, there.((Cont.))
>>29517165The soldiers bunch up as they approach the corner, three of them crouching at the edge to provide covering fire while the other two dash across the corridor to the other side and press themselves against the wall. They’re just turning to wave the others across when a massive green snake head appears out of nowhere and swallows one whole, then disappears out of view around the corner. The remaining soldiers spring round the corner and start firing in short bursts, and when you turn the corner yourself you see another massive multi-level room. It looks like all three corridors converge on it, the two side corridors at the corners and the central corridor opening straight onto the main staircase down. Inside, chaos reigns. The far wall of the room looks like a bare stone wall, with only one massive door leading onwards. That must be the start of the keep Esther mentioned before. Between you and it, though, are plenty of enormous snakes. Really enormous. They seem to be snacking on various smaller snakes and snake-people who are desperately trying to clamber over or under the larger snakes - just how big is Esther’s family, anyway? - but now that the soldiers have started moving into range, their attention has been drawn to you. You can see a wall of steel slowly moving down the stairs while the flanking groups set up a crossfire from the balconies, but it doesn’t look like they’re having much impact on the massive snakes. Bullets are just bouncing off their scales, and they’re eating soldiers left and right. If this goes on, it’ll be a massacre. What do you want to do?
>>29517188Magical Diplomacy? We could try to order them, or some of them, to stand down at least.[x] Use the voice to convert or put them to sleep.
C'mon guys, I can't be the only one left in here. We need more ideas to deal with this.
>>29517510I'm sorry, I'm doing other things and getting distracted.>>29517244Do we have the juice for this? It seems like it might be the only way to help effectively.
>>29517600((You have some juice. Not enough for a full "the laws of reality are whatever I say they are" miracle, like you did at the dance, but enough that you can warp probabilities, if you try.If you want to go for this course of action, I do recommend thinking up some things to say also. Writing a massive speech from scratch takes forever. Give me somewhere to start, at least.))
>>29517188Do we have explosives? Something to throw inside their mouths and detonate?If we have nothing, can we try to lure the snakes to be crushed by the steel wall?
>>29517814>crushed by the steel wall?That's unlikely to be a literal steel wall, you know, but a squad of soldiers with their swords out.
>>29517676"Good hosts of the House, calm yourselves. There is yet time to escape, and a way out if you will but cease attacking your fellows and listen."
>>29517814((The steel wall is a metaphorical one, sorry. You know, like a thin blue line or whatever.The soldiers are just marching down the stairs with shiny armour and swords ready.Some of the soldiers might have grenades somewhere, but you haven't seen any. And these are *big* snakes. Heads the size of cars.))
>>29517876>>29517844Oh. Well. Ok.[x] Ask is someone has a grenade or an explosive. Tell them to throw the explosives inside the snakes' mouths when they find the opportunity to. Focus fire when this is done.For a filler episode, I'm not well prepared enough to deal with it.
>>29517966>>29517865>>29517814>>29517244>>29517600((Okay, this is enough to work with, I think. Crafting. Feel free to continue suggesting ideas, it'll be a while before this is fixed enough that I can't incorporate new suggestions.))
>>29518042Those are some really big snakes. Although the way they’re opening and closing their mouths all the time does give you an idea...“Hey, have you guys got any grenades? The bigger the better. Those mouths look like good targets.”The soldier shakes his (or possibly her) head. “Just smoke and flashbangs. Won’t do anything but piss them off.”“Damn. Well, time to be a secret weapon, I guess.”The soldier looks at you like you’re crazy as you walk out of the cover of one of the supporting pillars, towards the staircase where the main fighting is going on. Maybe you are crazy. But maybe - just maybe - this will work.You clear your throat, carefully and ostentatiously, funnelling power through your body, the pure, rich energy of true Power. The power of miracles. And a miracle is definitely what you need right now.The sound rings out clearly, not with any extra volume but simply cutting through all other sounds, being heard clearly over all the din of battle. The noise dies down. Fighting pauses, on both sides. You have the complete, rapt attention of the whole room, for a few moments. Then you’ll be the giant snakes’ biggest target.Showtime.“Good hosts of the House. Noble ladies and gentlemen of the family, my honourable friends. Calm yourselves. I know what you fear, but have faith, in yourselves, in your kin, and in me. There is time enough for escape, and a simple way out, if you will but cease attacking for a moment. Stand and listen, and we shall explain the plan. Trust us. We can save you from the Excrucians. All you need to do is listen.”There’s a pause. No-one speaks, no-one moves, no-one breathes. The tension stretches, and then -((Cont.))
>>29518851The snakes are gone. The massive, sinuous, bright green bodies filling the room, packed in tightly across the entire floor, disappear in an instant. Across the middle of the ballroom, a number of human-shaped figures kneel or lie prostrate. All are dressed in the tatters of formal robes or fine velvet clothing, old and worn, moth-eaten or simply slowly decaying. They look old and wizened, but they begin to pull themselves to their feet with surprising strength for people who look like they should be permanently bed-ridden. Finally they stand, stiff but straight, staring at you, and at Esther, who has made her way over to stand by your side.“Excellent work, Chris,” Esther says with a smile. “I can handle matters from here.”One of the elder nobles steps forward, each movement slow and creaking. “Well?” he croaks, a forked tongue flickering visibly in his mouth even now. “What is this great plan? How will a babe in swaddling stand against the enemies of all things, eh? Arrogant upstart!” He jabs a finger angrily up at Esther, who smiles graciously.“Henrik?” she asks.Henrik, and the soldiers around him, vanish. There’s a series of blurs, darting from one noble to another. They stagger for a moment, then slowly fold up, like puppets with their strings cut. Henrik is back by Esther’s side, giving a gracious bow.“All still breathing, Miss. By the time they wake up, the House will be ours.”“Excellent work, cousin. My compliments to your team, as well. Let us move into the Keep. Not long to go now.”Is there anything you want to say or do, or are you content to follow Esther and her troops as they sweep into the Keep itself?
>>29518865What will she do once she has the house udner her lead? There is not much we can do about the Excrucians, is there?And there is still the Ice King to deal with. Or rather, retrieve.
>>29518865I'm content to help Esther and follow into the Keep.
Rolled 2>>29518980>>29519009((No-one else here, it seems. Rolling off for it, in order.))
>>29519289((Sorry. Massive internet troubles yet again. Post coming up.))
>>29519289The way forward is clear. You step between the bodies of the dead and those of the merely unconscious, up the worn stone stairway and into the main keep. Two squads of soldiers go in first, of course - they, along with Henrik and his specialists, are the only remaining forces at Esther’s command. Thirteen men and women out of perhaps forty. Lives well spent, you hope.The scene inside the Keep is calm and quiet. No sounds of battles fill these halls. There’s a certain stillness in the air, as though all inside are collectively holding their breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the madness to descend upon them as well. Perhaps they’re hiding from you for fear that you’ve brought it inside with you. Or simply for fear of a large group of heavily armed soldiers. You can’t really fault them for that.Esther gestures sharply, and the soldiers fan out, training their guns on the smaller hallways and passages within the Keep, but staying in the entryway for the moment. She walks forward, staring at the large doors before her, at the far end of the Keep’s first room. The doors are solid steel, ornately engraved and embedded with silver and emeralds, tracing out serpentine shapes across their surface. She raises her hand and knocks, slowly, once, twice, three times. The doors swing open.The room beyond is far more ornate than any you’ve passed through so far. The stone walls are covered in painted wood panelling and vast tapestries. The floor is laid with Roman mosaics. A long purple carpet leads up a small dais to a simple, high-backed chair. It seems almost quaint in comparison to the artistry around it - no carvings, no gold or silver or jewels embedded in it. Just a small, wooden chair, with an old man sitting in it. Your eyes almost slide off him. Esther strides forward, pushing the doors wide open. Her troops spread out behind her, Henrik at her right hand, and you at her left.((Cont.))
>>29520926The old man slowly rises out of his chair. He looks less wizened than the nobles you saw before - his hair is white, but his face is statuesque, and his body is tall and unbowed. His accent is completely different from that of the other serpents - Italian, perhaps? Hard to tell. There’s purple in his clothing, too. A Roman? Surely not. Well, probably not.“So, you come at last. The girl with the plan to save us all. Do you have such a plan, truly? Or was it merely a ploy to get the others to lower their guard? Where shall we run that the Pale Horsemen cannot chase us, then? What secret do you wield against the void?”Esther simply smiles. “No secret at all, great-grandfather. At least, not truly secret. It’s as plain as one’s fangs, if one only knows where to look.” She takes a step to the right, and the soldiers to your left shuffle away from you, leaving a wide space around you. “Look at the boy. Really look at him. Anyone could see it at a glance, if they thought to look.”The man takes a step forward, peering at you. He blinks, once, then twice, two eyelids flickering down in rapid succession.“Intriguing,” he says at last. “And this power, you think, is equal to theirs?”“It’s a greater power than anything else I’ve ever seen. And he believes there’s a chance, at least.”“Mmm... It is still a great risk that you ask me to subject my House to,” the elder replies.“Do we have any other choice? A slim chance of survival is better than none at all.”He frowns, turning to you. “Answer me, boy. A strange power touches you, true, something beyond any power I know of, but is it enough? Are the Children of Harumaph vulnerable? Can that which has no life die? Is there any chance, any power you know of, by which we might be victorious?”What do you say?
>>29520953"My... benefactor would know better than I, and they have made arrangements which suggest that they believe it is possible. The alternative is that they made efforts to see my family to safety while leaving me to die. That would seem unlikely, to say the least."
>>29520953"I know power, true power. It is still just a small torch at the moment, but with enough time and preparation...it should be all we need."i'm tired and can't think. i'm going to sleep MHthanks for running.
>>29521134>>29521243>>29521154((Writing. Last post of the night coming up, I think.))
>>29521409“I think so, sir. My... benefactor would know better than I, and some of the arrangements they’ve made would indicate that they think it’s possible, at least. We’ll need time, and preparation. And nothing is assured, of course. But I think there should be a chance.”The old man sits heavily in his chair, sagging a little. “You think there might be a chance. Nothing is assured. It is possible. Better than hearing it is impossible, but still... such a small thing, on which to rest three thousand years of history. We who were the powers behind the thrones of men, we who slew Cleopatra, we who bent whole countries to our will, shrunken and weak, the branches of our tree dying one by one. Mindless beasts left, where kings and queens once rose and fell at our whim. Such a small thing we are, now.” He sighs. “Perhaps we should simply surrender. Let the weight of our fall bear down upon us at last. Fade away, like my brothers and sisters did.”Esther walks forward, slowly. She raises a hand behind her, warning the rest of you to keep back, as she steps up onto the dais.“Is that truly what you believe, great-grandfather? Have you given up on your House at last?”He shakes his head, slowly. “I have never given up on my House. But it has given up on me. Look at these halls, stained with our own blood. So few of us left, and how many fewer now?” He raises a hand, waving dismissively at all of you. “Leave me, my children. I must think on what to do. On whether anything can be done.”Esther lifts her head, slowly. A transformation begins to come over her, all the more terrifying for obliterating features you know. Her carefully coiled locks turn to writhing green serpents, her ebony skin becomes thin, flexible green scales, and thin, delicate claws sprout from the tips of elongated, scaly fingers. The name ‘Medusa’ floats to the surface of your mind as she carefully raises her hand.((Cont.))
>>29523433“I’m sorry to hear you say that, great-grandfather. Truly, I am. But the House must go on.”Esther’s hand darts out, and there is a sharp crack as she drives the old man’s head back against his chair. She draws her hand back and strikes again, and you can hear the crunch of breaking bones. His body slumps down in the chair, his head twisted at an unnatural angle and blood staining the back of the chair behind him.She turns back to face you, her features already resuming their human cast. Henrik steps forward, going down on one knee. He seems to have expected this from the start.“The House must be ruled,” Esther proclaims in carefully measured tones.“The House must be ruled,” the soldiers echo.“Let any of the House who contest my right to rule state it now.” Esther pauses briefly, then nods.“I claim this seat, this land, this people and this House, as mine by right of blood, by right of strength, and by right of will. I will stand against all adversaries, from within or without, to protect my kin and my House. The Blood will rule.”“The Blood will rule,” comes the echo from all around you. Esther lifts her great-grandfather’s body from the chair and dumps it casually on the floor next to the dais, sitting carefully in her new throne. The soldiers rise from their knees, many of them breaking out into cheers and applause. You approach the dais cautiously, keeping an eye on Esther. The image of a mass of slithering, writhing serpents dangling from her head is still fresh in your mind.“So... now what?”Esther smiles, a cold, predatory grin. “Now, I make things secure. A day or so, perhaps. You take care of your other friends. I’ll call you.”She waves in the general direction of the large, silver-engraved doors. “Henrik? Chris has served his purpose for the moment. Show him out, would you?”You are - with at least a hint of courtesy, and a few words of apology - shown out.
>>29523456((Aaaaaand scene. Right. I will be out on Thursday, so the next thread will be TUESDAY, the 21st of January, at around the usual time. Do recall that I now have a Twitter account, at https://twitter.com/MonsterheartsQM, which will provide a small degree of advance warning and links to threads. I am going to sleep now. If you have any questions, comments, etc., leave them below and I will endeavour to answer them in the morning, if possible.))
>>29523575good night MHQ, thanks for running