Twitter: https://twitter.com/MolochQMQuestions: https://ask.fm/MolochQMCharacter sheet: http://pastebin.com/TuHXz5KpPrevious threads: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Northern%20Beasts%20Quest“Where I go, no man may follow.” - from the journal fragments of Konstantin Volkov Vorona.Three southerners were hanged in Port Daud this morning, suspects charged with an arson attack on a munitions factory. Thankfully, you arrive late enough to be spared that spectacle. Even so, a cloud seems to hang over the area – and not just the usual cloud of industrial smog. An ill mood, the sort that seems all too common these days.Walking along the docks, the mingling scents of salt and diesel fuel war for your attention. Taking your time, you walk the length of the docks until you find the Abaddon. It stands empty and abandoned, while the few passing sailors give it a wide berth. Unarmed, the Abaddon could blend in with any number of other ships, traders and fishing vessels... if not for the faintly unwholesome air that hangs about it. Nothing you can put your finger on, but it's the same air that drives away the other sailors.Not, you will admit, a promising sign.
>>1275884You've heard people say that every scar has a story. If that's true, Titus Gore must have a few interesting tales to tell. One half of his mouth has a long and jagged ridge of scar tissue that climbs his cheek, while his front teeth – when they peer through his thin lips – have been replaced by gaudy silver implants. It's not exactly a smile that reveals those teeth to you, but it might have been intended as such.The dock worker who had given you directions to this bar, to Gore's favourite haunt, had also given you a murmured warning. Now, you can see why. Gore is not along, flanked on either side by three particularly rough thugs. Gore might have attempted a smile of greeting, but his companions make no such effort. A single nod from their boss, you sense, and those men would throw you out in a heartbeat. A show of weakness, and they might start trouble for the sheer sport of it.So you do the only thing you can do. You take a seat at their table, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, and you make yourself comfortable. The thugs look surprised, bewildered even, but Gore gives you an appreciative leer.Risky move. Smart move.“You must be the Wolf that Vasily mentioned,” Gore begins, his voice softer than you had been expecting, “He told me that you were looking to travel north.”And he must be Titus Gore, you reply, the man willing to take you north.“I'm a man willing to do a great many things, mister...” letting his words trail off, Gore gestures for you to continue. Two fingers on his left hand are prosthetics, beautifully crafted from steel but strangely womanly in form.Hanson, you tell him with faint reluctance, Henryk Hanson.“Henryk Hanson,” Gore repeats, rolling your name about in his mouth in a way that makes you feel vaguely uncomfortable, “And you're looking to head north... far north. Well, my friend, I think I can help you. Ludwig!” As he calls that name, Gore makes a grandiose gesture. One of the crewmen stands bolt upright in response.“Yes chief?” he practically yelps, standing ramrod straight, “Something you need?”“Go and fetch the rest of the crew, get them to assemble back at the ship. In fact, all of you go!” sweeping his hand about in a broad circle, Gore causes his men to scatter like startled birds. When the last of them has fled, he leans forwards and pushes across a glass of liquor. “Well then,” Gore says, raising a glass of his own, “It's time we talked business, you and I.”>All I need to know is, how soon can we leave?>There's no need. I'll try my luck elsewhere>So what do you hope to get out of this, Gore?>I don't think you realise how risky this is>Fine, I had a question... (Write in)>Other
>>1275885>>Other"Basically I just need to get up there and kill something. Any artifacts or other things of value that are found you and your men can have to sell or do whatever you want with, though I might take a trophy of my kill. And if since we are going in uncharted territory if you have anyone good at making maps they can try to sketch things out as best they can. College would probably pay for something like that.">How soon can we leave?
>>1275885>>So what do you hope to get out of this, Gore?>All I need to know is, how soon can we leave?
Very well, you agree with a brisk nod, you'll talk business. There's really nothing complicated about what you're setting out to do – you need to go north, and you need to kill something. Anything else he might find there, any artefacts or treasures, are his to keep, with one exception – a trophy from your kill, that's something you'll take for yourself. All very simple so far, you tell Gore, right?“Very simple, friend,” Gore gives you a languid gesture, “Very simple indeed.”Since you're heading into uncharted waters, you add, he might stand to benefit if any of his crew know maps. The College might pay well to expand their charts. That's what you're offering him, you conclude, although you are curious – what was he hoping to get out of this?“You see, friend, I have a philosophy. I believe that the world provides... so long as a man is canny enough to take what's on offer. There's a way to turn a profit from everything, if only you're smart enough to figure out how. This is a grand example,” rising from his seat, Gore smooths out his garb, “I was prepared to take this little job of yours, knowing very little about what might be lying ahead. Now, here you are with a fine little plan to turn a profit! Artefacts and treasures, you say... my kind of motivation.” Leering, showing those fake teeth once more, Gore rubs his hands together.Now then, you decide as you stand as well, you just need to know one last thing – how soon can he leave?“How soon?” Gore shrugs, “Today. Within the hour, if my crew are in good order. They will be – I can promise you that.”Within the hour, you repeat, that's good.-As Gore leads you back to the Abaddon, you take the chance to study him with a cautious, discrete eye. He's older than you, although the difference could be anywhere between a few years and a dozen. His clothes suggest rich tastes, velvet and gold buttons, but he also has a remarkable number of feral looking charms hanging from around his neck – their designs hinting at both northern and southern origin. He wears them openly, with deliberate defiance. Long hair, coiled into thick dreadlocks, and a restless light in his eyes.A difficult man to get the measure of. He seems the type to swing from warm friendship to hostile rivalry in a matter of seconds, only to swing back just as quickly. For now, though, your talk of treasure seems to have given him something to think about. It keeps him from paying you too much attention, which can only be a good thing.Within the hour, exactly as promised, his crew are ready and assembled aboard the Abaddon. Like a beast waking from slumber, the engines roar into life, and the ship begins to glide out of Port Daud. Port Steyr will be your next stop, and from there...Uncharted territory.[1/2]
>>1275885>>So what do you hope to get out of this, Gore?Seems a bit risky to ask though. Also that map idea is a good one.
>>1275938The first day at sea, and Gore gives you a brief tour of the Abaddon. It has enough empty space on board for you to have a private cabin – something that you're very much glad of – while the crew seem content to leave you be. Now that Gore has taken you under his wing they don't show the slightest interest in causing trouble, but they're far from friendly. That's fine with you – you're not here to make friends.There's really not much to see aboard the Abaddon. You trade a few words with Wiktor, the ship's gaunt doctor, and then examine the engine room. A pair of southerners, silent and seemingly oblivious to your presence, work down in the heat. For the sake of politeness, you pretend not to notice their chains. The cargo hold, currently empty, is where the fun really happens.At least, that's what Gore tells you, an eerie twinkle glinting in his eyes as he does so.-The third night at sea, more or less the middle of your journey, and boredom finally gets the better of you. Locking all your belongings, the Maus rifle included, in your cabin, you set off down into the guts of the ship. The upper level of the vessel seems deserted, but you can hear a distant rumble of cheering and yelling coming from down below – from the cargo hold, you'd guess. The fun that Gore mentioned. Having come this far, you let your curiosity guide you the rest of the way.Blazing electrical lights have been strung up all around the cargo hold, their burning glare merging with the accumulated body heat to form a sweltering pit. Sweat forms on your skin as you peel off your outermost layer, the scent of it blending in with all the rest. What seems like the entire crew is down here, screaming, shouting and stamping their feet. As you try to push through the loose circle the crew has formed, you hear the sound of a fist striking flesh. After that, shoving your way to the front only confirms your suspicions.Two men, both stripped to the waist, trade sloppy punches as the jeering crowd urges them on. As you watch, one of the men – a giant, with fists like bricks – lands a solid blow on his opponent's jaw and knocks the smaller man sprawling. A scent of blood colours the air, and you feel your heart beginning to hammer in your chest. The cheering lessens slightly as the fallen man is dragged away – he groans, soon rousing himself – and then a heavy hand falls upon your shoulder.“What do you say?” the thug – you recognise Ludwig from before – asks you, his grip tightening slightly, “Fancy a turn in the ring, Wolf?”Eyes all around you, watching and waiting. Studying you, hungrily sizing you up. Demanding an answer.>Yeah, I'll take that challenge>I'm just here to watch the sport>Forget it, I was just leaving>Other
>>1275960>Yeah, I'll take that challenge
>>1275960>>Yeah, I'll take that challengeFuck it. Rather earn these guy's respect if we're going to have to trust them out there.
>>1275960>>Yeah, I'll take that challengeNot taking it would be a pretty bad idea.
With so many eyes upon you, it doesn't really feel like you're being given much of a choice. You might be under Captain Gore's protection, but it certainly doesn't feel that way down in this cauldron. Fighting, earning their respect, might be the best way of securing their trust. In the days ahead, you might just need that.Yeah, you tell Ludwig, you'll take that challenge.The cheer that rises up in response is almost deafening.-“His name's Vendrick,” Ludwig tells you, as he's winding strips of cloth around your knuckles, “Word of advice – don't let him hit you.”Good advice, you reply dryly, you hadn't thought of that.“Fine then, get hit in the face. More amusing for the rest of us,” shrugging, Ludwig offers you a humourless smile – one with several broken teeth in it. Somehow, you can very easily imagine how his mouth ended up in such a state. Laughing harshly, Ludwig steers you back towards the ring and pushes through the eager, excited crowd before shoving you into the middle. Vendrick, the giant from before, is waiting for you. Taking one last pull from a bottle, he gives you a bleary glare.This close, he looks even taller. His arms and torso look packed with muscle, while his skin is marked with tattoos. Swords and arrows, skulls of both men and beasts, a grand crown inked across his collarbone... his body is a tapestry.Time to see if you can put a few bruises on it.-There's no real formal introduction, nothing to declare that the fight has begun. Quite naturally, you both step towards one another at roughly the same time and begin to circle each other. Half a circle later, and Vendrick launches his attack. He strikes first with his right fist, a wide blow that comes down from above and is easily ducked under, but the second – jabbing his left hand up at you in a swift motion – is harder to sway past. Off-balance, you throw a quick punch into his exposed flank.It's like punching a brick wall, pain shuddering up your arm. Vendrick grunts a little, but doesn't slow. Slithering back, you just barely avoid his attempt to grab you in a crushing bear hug.This... might not be so easy.>What should your first move be? (Write in)
>>1275989Is this just fists or anything goes Moloch?
>>1275989Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.Focus on dodging, have him waste his energy trying to catch and hit us. Hit in spots where they hurt: Knees, kidneys, etc.
>>1275991>No biting, no eye gouging but otherwise anything goes.
He's quick, especially for a man of his considerable size, but you're quicker. You've fought beasts where the slightest touch could split a man open or tear off a limb. Compared with that, dodging a few punches should be no problem. It's just a matter of tiring him out, wearing him down with quick and careful blows. This might even be good practise, you think with a cold smile, preparation for the hunt awaiting you.A thunderous punch, swung at head level, is enough to cut your thoughts short. Focus on the here and now, you remind yourself angrily, no daydreaming about what might lie ahead. Ducking low under the punch, you respond by jabbing your fist into Vendrick's side. This time, he does show some reaction, lurching away as your fist catches something soft. Capitalising on the moment, you throw your weight behind a second blow, one that slams into his other side and knocks some of the wind from him. As the breath rushes from him, you step past Vendrick and kick him in the side of the knee.He doesn't exactly fall, but his leg buckles slightly and his balance is spoiled. Sensing weakness, you press back into the fight in hope of finishing things quickly. A mistake – Vendrick rallies quickly and turns, swinging his arm out wide. Even with a last minute dodge, his elbow clips your forehead and leaves you seeing stars. For a moment, the surging roar of the crowd disorientates you, and you don't see Vendrick's foot hammering back into your shin.If he'd been wearing boots, the fight would have been other there and then – the blow would have been strong enough to snap the bones in your leg like dry tinder. As it is, it just knocks you flat and sends a sickening wave of pain shuddering through your entire body. It's bad enough that your stomach actually lurches.You're down, and Vendrick is rising to his feet again, although he doesn't look nearly as solid as he did before.>What's the next move? (Write in)
>>1276011If he is close enough throw a kick into his shin to topple him while he is trying to get up.Either way rise to our feet and try to land a blow to his neck either by feinting or counterattacking.If we manage to do that and cut off his oxygen supply if only for moment we should press the advantage and end this.
>>1276011Get up quickly. Hit him in the throat or keep doing damage to the same leg/knee until he topples
>>1276011Maybe use the not kicked at leg to try to stop him from getting up, sweep a leg or arm out as he's trying. Then try to get up ourselves.
Drawing a sharp breath in through your teeth, a plan forms in your mind. Your timing will have to be good, just right, but...As Vendrick rises to his feet, he turns and starts towards you, cracking his knuckles with theatrical menace. He's playing to the crowd, to his adoring fans, with the arrogance certainty of a champion.This time, it's his mistake. With your strong leg, you kick out hard and strike him in the leg. It's almost a perfect mirror of the blow he dealt you, although it's not nearly as effective. His blow knocked you onto your back, while your blow barely knocks him to his knees. Even so, that's enough. It wins you enough time to throw yourself back to your feet, and to lash out with a hastily thrown punch. It might be hastily thrown, but it's well aimed – it catches Vendrick in the throat, exactly as you'd been hoping. His eyes bulging, Vendrick falls back and lets out a retching gasp. The crowd, startled, falls silent.You're not about to savour the moment. Like a pouncing beast, you lunge into him and press down on his throat with your arm, cutting off his air and sending a rush of mad panic into his bulging eyes. Even as he bucks and thrashes beneath you, you hold on tight. Pressing down harder on his throat, his eyes start to glaze over. A few more seconds, and...“Enough!” a sharp voice rings out, causing everyone in the call to freeze. Beneath you, Vendrick goes limp. As a slow clapping starts to sound – a single man applauding your victory – the crowd backs off a pace. Releasing Vendrick, you rise to unsteady legs and look up.Standing on a balcony, looking down upon you and the massed crew, Gore continues to clap.“A marvellous show, simply marvellous!” he declares, “But now, gentlemen, if I might borrow our newest friend...”A murmur runs through the crowd, and someone hands you your discarded shirt. Looking back up to the balcony, you watch as Gore retreats into the gloom. Certain, you don't doubt, that you'll follow him. A second bout with Vendrick might be preferable, but you know better than that – when you're on a ship, you play nice with the captain.The alternative is often a long swim back to civilisation.[1/2]
>>1276044“I was very impressed with your performance,” Gore purrs as he paces around you, his long velvet coat coiling around him like a shadow, “But then, perhaps I shouldn't be – it would have been a disappointment if you had lost. My crew... they are, above all else, simply men. I dare say that even in a real struggle, with blades drawn and pistols readied, you would still cut a swathe through them.”He seems, you think, almost disgustingly pleased with the thought. Grunting a non-reply, you wince a little as Wiktor presses an alcohol soaked pad to your temple. When Vendrick's elbow caught you, it broke the skin and drew blood – you simply hadn't noticed it at the time. Too busy, you consider, and with good reason.“Wolves are simply the most delightful killers,” Gore continues, “I must confess to a certain admiration. Men cannot choose their birth, but if they could... I would have made myself a Wolf.”He might not be so keen to say that, you point out, if he knew what it was really like. It's not all fun and games.“Oh, I'm sure,” the captain offers you a sickly smile, “But men always aspire to what they cannot have. How many of your number have wished to be something other than what you are? Alternatively, have you ever wished that you could be more than you are now?”That question hangs in the air for a while, reminding you of what lies ahead. Artemis' promise – that her power, once at its peak, would be enough to raise you above and beyond what would be considered “normal” for your kind. It's hard to imagine what form that might take. Something beyond the strict boundaries of man and beast, something that blurred the line separating the two. Something new, never before seen?“Dinner, perhaps,” Gore decides, his voice putting an end to your thoughts, “We can talk more then.”-“You see, I know what kind of man you are,” the captain says later, pointing a fork at you. A hunk of meat hangs off the fork, juices dripping onto the scarred table beneath.Really, you reply as you toy with your food, what kind of man is that?“You're going this far, not for treasure but to kill. This is personal, isn't it?” Gore leans back, looking disgustingly satisfied with himself, “Revenge, then? Or are you being rewarded well for this?”>My reasons are my own. They don't concern you>I'm fulfilling a promise, that's all>Power, Gore, I'm doing this for power>Other
>>1276107>>I'm fulfilling a promise, that's all"And hell, being able to go an kill ancient beasts is it's own reward in a way."
>>1276107>>I'm fulfilling a promise, that's allI feel like we already accomplished our Power related goals. Got revenge, took down the beasts and got through it all pretty safe and sound.
>>1276107>>I'm fulfilling a promise, that's all
>>1276107>OtherEnd of a long job that's taken months.>>1276129Still got whatever Artemis promised us to look forward to.
You don't like the way Gore leans forwards as he waits for your answer, anticipation lively in his eyes. He's already prodded you for details of your work, stories that you reluctantly shared, but this is altogether more personal than that. It's like he wants you to confess some bloody desire for revenge, some fascinating grudge that would drive you to chase your prey to the ends of the land. He'd like that, you think.You're just fulfilling a promise, you reply breezily, that's all.“That's all?” Gore repeats, raising an eyebrow, “That's all?”It might not be very exciting, you continue, but you like to keep your word once you've given it. When Gore's expression darkens, you quickly move to mollify him. Still, you tell him, that's not to say that you're getting nothing at all out of this. Being able to hunt and kill an ancient beast, a unique specimen, is a reward in its own way. It would be lying to claim that you'd gain no pleasure from it, no satisfaction from a job well done.“Ah, I knew it!” grinning, Gore finally remembers the morsel speared on the end of his fork and bites down on it. “You're a wily one, my friend,” he continues, speaking around the mouthful of food, “It's just like I said – I know exactly what kind of man you are!”If he wants to believe that, you think to yourself, you're not about to argue.-The rest of the journey – the shorter, safer journey through League waters, at least – passes by without incident. A large part of that is deliberate, as you avoid trouble whenever possible. No more night time wanderings, and definitely no more visits to the fighting pits. You avoid the crew as much as possible without making it look deliberate, and generally stick to your quarters. Easier that way, and much safer. When Port Steyr looms ahead of you, it comes with both relief and dismay.Relief, because it's the first sign of civilisation you've seen in what feels like a long time. Dismay, because it's also the last sign of civilisation that you'll see in a long time. Mixed feelings all around.-“We're going to be in port for a day,” Gore tells the crew, you included, “I don't want anybody wandering off. If you do, I WILL come back to find you. Don't take that as a threat – it's a promise. Now then, dismissed!”The rest of the crew starts to file away, while Gore moves to intercept you before you can go. Forcing a neutral expression, you meet his eye and nod a greeting.“I've considered a few things,” he tells you, his voice low, “That talk of maps especially. None of my crew are really what you'd call “educated”, but... I'm keeping my options open. Anyway, go on and have fun – it's all business from here out, my friend.”Just business, you agree.[1/2]
>>1276179I wonder, did he ever talk to a wolf before? Maybe he could write a book about how wolfs see thing from their perspectives. >It'd be an ultra depressing but very interesting read.
>>1276179As the motley crowd of thugs and scum file away to their preferred bars, you linger for a while. When the last of them has vanished – you're glad that none of the invite you along, or try to drag you along with them – you head into Port Steyr properly, savouring the cold, clean air. Below deck, the Abaddon has a constant ill odour, an odious mix of sweat, alcohol and even a trace of southern opium.Walking through the streets, you notice a new poster. Where there used to be warnings about the Resettlement Area – dire things warning against mixing with the natives and such – there are now more positive things. Recruitment posters, urging people to take the Ministry's coin and become a soldier. You skim the poster, pause, and then reread it with a laugh. It urges men to present themselves to the Ibarra garrison, at Port Isten.Loch really did it. He actually pulled it off.-“Port Isten? Mm, I don't really know why they picked the name,” Camilla tells you, as you sit opposite her at the local Ministry outpost. Out of curiosity, and the desire to see a friendly face, you had visited the Ministry. Chances are, you were always more likely to find her there than at her lonesome apartment. Her desk is exactly what you expect, covered in paperwork and an overflowing ashtray, while the Ministry hums with background chatter.“I think a few people didn't like Ibarra, as a choice. There was a hint of... nepotism about it. A powerful family pulling strings,” she grimaces faintly, although there is a hint of weary amusement to it, “Never heard that story before, have we Henryk? Anyway, they ended up naming the garrison after them, so that's a compromise. Isten, though... I couldn't tell you anything about the name. Strange choice, I hear that it's northern.”It might keep the locals happy, you suggest with a sly smile, that's worth a little bit of compromise.“Well, you might be right there. I'd certainly...” Camilla lets her words trail off, narrowing her eyes slightly, “You had something to do with this, didn't you Henryk?”A pause. She really does have good intuition, Camilla.>Never mind that, I wanted to ask you something. Do you know the name “Titus Gore”?>Can we talk privately? It's about that “hypothetical” idea I mentioned...>Guilty as charged. I gave Loch the name. It's pretty nice, isn't it?>Why don't we talk about something else... (Write in)>Other
>>1276221>Guilty as charged. I gave Loch the name. It's pretty nice, isn't it?"Isten Kardja. White Tyrant's real name.">Can we talk privately? It's about that “hypothetical” idea I mentioned...
>>1276221>>Guilty as charged. I gave Loch the name. It's pretty nice, isn't it?>>Can we talk privately? It's about that “hypothetical” idea I mentioned...
>>1276221>Never mind that, I wanted to ask you something. Do you know the name “Titus Gore”?>>1276232>>1276235Please stop giving people unfounded hopes. Wait until we know the blood actually works and there's enough to go around.Because the more people we tell, the more it would be dramatically appropriate for it to turn out to be a bust.
>>1276221>>Guilty as charged. I gave Loch the name. It's pretty nice, isn't it?>"Isten Kardja. White Tyrant's real name.">> I wanted to ask you something. Do you know the name “Titus Gore”?
>>1276221>Can we talk privately? It's about that “hypothetical” idea I mentioned...>Guilty as charged. I gave Loch the name. It's pretty nice, isn't it?You we'll probably have to tell her about Artemis and everything else rather soonish. You know since we'll be having a new otherworldly roommate soon.>>1276243She already knows we have it. Just giving an update.
Sighing, you lean back in the uncomfortable Ministry issue chair and look up at the ceiling. Guilty as charged, you admit after a moment, you gave Loch the name. It's pretty good, you add, isn't it? Isten Kardja, it was what the White Tyrant used to be called – although it's been a long time since anyone here used that name.“How fascinating,” Camilla reaches for her cigarettes, reconsiders, and then begins to toy with a fountain pen instead, “I'm sure there's a very interesting story behind how you came to know that. Did he tell you that himself?”Actually, you think to yourself, he did. He told you his real name after you killed him, while his spirit was trapped in some otherworldly prison. He's not such a bad guy, now that he's settled down a little. You could tell Camilla all that, but... maybe not. Or, at the very least, not here in the middle of a Ministry outpost. You have some discretion, at least.“Henryk?” Camilla taps the desk lightly, drawing your thoughts back to reality. The fountain pen, you note, has already been replaced by a cigarette.Anyway, you say quickly, that's a subject for another day. There was another matter you wanted to ask her about – has she ever heard the name “Titus Gore”? He's the captain of...“The Abaddon,” she finishes for you, “His name has crossed my desk once or twice... or a few times more than that. Never about the man himself, of course, always related to one of his crew. Minor crimes, brawling or trying to peddle drugs in town. He's as crooked as can be, but we've never had cause to link him with anything serious. One of his crewmen did kill another sailor in a brawl, but it was found to be in self-defence. Essentially, the other guy started it.”Right, you nod, that old excuse.“Oldest in the book,” Camilla agrees grimly, “Anyway, that's all we've got in terms of official record. Unofficially, though...” Glancing about at her colleagues, Camilla frowns.How about continuing this in private, you suggest, you had some other matters to talk with her about as well.“Good call. Just give me a moment to arrange cover,” nodding slowly, Camilla violently stubs out her cigarette.-“He kidnapped someone,” she says bluntly, as you're walking through a deserted stretch of street, “Gore, I mean. It was never reported as a crime, so we couldn't do anything about it, but... well, it was all pretty blatant. Gore was hired to take a minor noble around a few of the safer islands. You know what it's like – tourism, plump nobles playing at being explorers. Anyway, the nobleman vanished.”Vanished, you repeat.“Right, and then he appeared again,” Camilla gives you a weary smile, “Just as soon as the man's family offered a reward for his discovery. Gore “found” the man pretty quick after that.”Funny, that.[1/2]
>>1276280>He told you his real name after you killed himBefore actually, right before we fought but it's not a big deal
>>1276280“But what could we do about it? As I said, no crime was ever reported. If he wanted, Gore could have made himself out to be quite the hero after the whole thing, but he insisted on keeping it quiet,” she laughs aloud, but there is no warmth to it, “Probably wanted to try the same trick later.”This nobleman, you ask, was he harmed?“Not really. A little scared and worse for wear – he was stranded on an island, after all – but no serious injuries to speak of. Gore was too smart for that, I presume,” shaking her head, Camilla gives you a shrug, “Well, that's all I know. If he's tried it again, he didn't do it up here in my territory. What's with your sudden interest?”You might have ended up making a deal with the guy, you admit, in order to secure passage further north. It's nothing too serious, you hasten to assure her, but he was the only captain willing to take you where you needed to go.“I see,” Camilla sighs, her lips drawing thin with the strain of fighting back a smile, “Well, I don't think you've got too much to worry about. If he gets the idea to start trouble... he'll end up regretting it, that's all I'm going to say. Now then!” Brushing her hands together, Camilla dismisses the issue. “You said you had something else to talk about,” she continues, “What was it?”It's about that “hypothetical” matter you mentioned, you tell her in a low voice, there have been certain developments. You don't want to promise her anything, but you don't want to keep her in the dark either. She has as much of a right to know as anyone else.“You're really serious about this, aren't you?” she murmurs, glancing about the empty street before continuing, “Alright then, developments. Good developments?”No major disasters yet, you confirm, but the long term effects are yet to be properly studied. You've got a friend working on that now. There should be plenty of Giant's blood to go around, you continue in a more sombre voice, definitely enough for her to have a share of it.A silence falls between you, Camilla nodding slowly as she processes the information. “Well then,” she says at last, “I'll consider myself cautiously optimistic. That seems to be the most sensible approach to take, wouldn't you agree?”The pragmatic approach. It's exactly what you expected of her.[2/3]
>>1276322There are few matters left to discuss – namely, it's long past time that you mentioned Artemis, and everything else you're wrapped up in, to Camilla – but you soon realise that you'll need to wait for another day. Together, the two of you are strolling back in the general direction of the Ministry when one of Camilla's colleagues rushes to meet you. Judging by their flustered expression, there seems to be a disaster in the works.“Sorry Henryk,” Camilla tells you grimly, “Duty calls.”Understood, you reply, she's got a job to do. Peace and justice are depending on her on.Laughing at your audacious comment, Camilla hurries to join her colleague. As they talk in hushed voices, the smile drops from her face and she hastens away. Left alone in the cold streets, you pull your coat a little tighter around yourself and head back to the Abaddon. You want to be back in your cabin before the inevitably drunken crewmen come rampaging back.-When the crew do return, they do so in a rowdy fashion – lots of banging and slurred singing. Scowling up at the darkened ceiling of your cabin, you have to wait for a long time before the noise dies down again and you can get some sleep. Considering where you're going next, you want to get as much restful sleep as you can.Even so, it takes you a long time to get to sleep.-The Abaddon's engines are already growling away when you wake up, and the disorientation that descends upon you is absolute. How long have you been travelling, you wonder, and how far have you travelled? All you can think about, there and then, is what Camilla told you about Gore – kidnapping nobles and dumping them on remote islands. Would he really be fool enough to try that on you?Keeping your pistol and dagger close to hand, you start to head up to the Abaddon's helm. The crew don't try to stop you, but they do give you leering smiles whenever you meet their eyes. Scowling harder, you press past them to reach the helm. There are four people there, with one of them seeming absurdly out of place.The three men, the ones you expected to see, are Gore, Ludwig and Vendrick. The fourth man is a frail, elderly fellow, with a dark bruise marring one side of his face. At the sound of your arrival, Gore looks around and places a firm hand on the elderly man's shoulder.“Say hello to our new friend, Rietveld,” Gore tells you, cheerily, “He's going to be helping us with making those maps!”You offer Gore a vague smile of greeting, but inside you're spitting curses.>I'm not feeling great today, so I'm going to pause here. I'll continue this tomorrow>Thanks for your patience today
>>1276375Thanks for running.
>>1276375Well he made a friend, how nice. I'm sure he'll be treated nicely and nothing bad will happen to him!Thanks for running Moloch.
>>1276375hey, a dutch name.thanks for running!
>>1276399At the very least we'll be here to make sure he is treated better and they'll need him alive even after he makes the maps since no one is going to believe Gore that they are legit by himself.
>>1276375> Well we know the Captain is a man who values profit and success and will be sure to treat the man whose name will make the maps worth something when they get back decently, to ensure that the maps ARE worth something.> You know how Scholar's are, after all. Prone to accuse honest men of making things up if they don't have some little fiddly credential backing them.
>>1276375Also thanks for running.
Hey we need to have a party for Revelle, power her up!
>>1278012I wonder what Revelle thinks about sweaty men punching each other in the face
Well.This is awkward.Rietveld looks like a nice man really, the sort of mild mannered gentleman who doesn't deserve to get dragged into your mess. Even with the bruise marking his face, he has a sophisticated look to him, something that reminds you a little of Hartmann, albeit a little less... mad. His eyes are set in a deep squint, but you can still see an intelligent light in them. Not just intelligence, though. Anger or accusation would have made you feel a lot better about yourself, but what you see there... a deep pleading.For the first time, you notice that Gore is wearing weapons openly – a jagged dagger, ideal for spilling blood, and a heavy pistol. Both are still yet to be drawn, but the threat is there.“Well then?” Gore pats Rietveld on the shoulder, “Why don't you say hello?”When the old man doesn't reply, you clear your throat. He looks a little shaken up, you suggest lightly, a little ragged around the edges. As you say this, you allow your gaze to linger pointedly on his bruised cheek.“Oh, that? He just lost his footing and fell,” Gore laughs, “When we were escorting him from his home. You know how... fragile old men can be.” As he says this, Gore tightens his grip on Rietveld's shoulder and steers the man to a makeshift lectern. As he pushes Rietveld into the seat, Gore glances back to you. “We're going to make some wonderful maps, then we're going to sell them to some College genius. Rietveld here will even get his fair share of the profits,” Gore's eyes flash, “And none of us needs to speak of the matter again. Easy money – the world provides, my friend, for those willing to seize the opportunity!”-Still chuckling to himself, Gore strides out with Ludwig trailing behind him. Vendrick lurks in the background, casting a careful eye over both you and Rietveld. A few moments pass, and then the giant sighs.“Tough deal,” he mutters, just loud enough for you to overhear. Glancing around in surprise, you meet his eyes. It would be an exaggeration to say that there is pity in his eyes, but there is a certain... apologetic air to them. The sort of expression one professional might give to another, when they find themselves on opposing sides.Yeah, you reply quietly, tough deal.“Good fight,” Vendrick remarks after a while, “I enjoyed it.”Shaking your head at the sheer absurdity of it all – the fact that you can talk peacefully with the man you choked half to death – you let out a low sigh. Sure, you agree, you must do it again sometime.“Excuse me?” Rietveld says, speaking up in a reedy voice, “I cannot work like this. My head, too much pain. Is there a doctor?”“Go ahead,” the hulking sailor tells you, shrugging his broad shoulders, “Take him to Wiktor.”[1/2]
>>1278186You take your time leading Rietveld down to the makeshift medical clinic, largely to buy yourself time to think. To think of what to say to the man, and to think of what to do next. When you suggested making maps, you hadn't been expecting Gore to just... kidnap the first mapmaker he could find. Though, you can't shake the feeling that if it hadn't been this, it would have been something else. One way or another, Gore would have made trouble for you – it's just the kind of man he is.“Wait, wait,” Rietveld breathes, holding up a hand to get your attention, “Wait a moment. You're not with them, are you?”That's a difficult question to answer, you reply ruefully, but generally speaking... no. You're not a member of Gore's crew.“I see. They got you too,” the old man sighs, rubbing his head, “I don't know what they want from me. I am a cartographer, yes, but... our current maps are already sufficient! I have only recently concluded a project to chart the newly captured territories. Where else...” As his words trail off, a slow look of horror begins to spread across Rietveld's face.Yeah, you tell him with a sympathetic look, exactly.-Once Rietveld has calmed down once more, he draws in a shuddering breath and meets your eye. “They came for me when I was at home,” the elderly gentleman begins, “It's a blessing that I have no family – I shudder to think what those rogues might have done to them. As you can see, they were all too willing to be... forceful.” His hand, still shaking somewhat, flutters around the bruise on his face.You'll get that looked at, you tell him, the doctor isn't a bad sort. Not College trained, you suspect, but not bad.“Well then,” he decides, “I'll gladly take whatever I can get. What then, though? We need a plan, you and I.”His mistaken belief that you're both in the same mess – although that's starting to feel more and more accurate as time goes on – leaves a raw flash of guilt in you. Still, he's right, you're going to need a plan.>Just keep your head down and play along. Gore needs you alive>I'll talk with Gore, see if I can convince him to bring you back to Port Steyr>Gore's a liability. I'm going to have to take him out>Here's my plan... (Write in)>Other
>>1278190>Just keep your head down and play along. Gore needs you aliveDo that and you'll make it out of this fine.
>>1278190>Just keep your head down and play along. Gore needs you alive>tell him that it is our expeditionBetter he doesn't find out after we've been lying to him
>>1278190Also I'd like to point out that we shouldn't tell anyone that we personally have protection from the Red Moon via Revelle.Because removing that protection from select individuals will be our best weapon if things go bad up North.
>>1278190>Just keep your head down and play along. Gore needs you alive
The plan is simple, you tell Rietveld, he just needs to keep his head down and play along. Gore is going to need him alive, and in good shape – he's safe, so long as he doesn't push his luck. That's something he's got in his favour.“I see,” a sour look passes across Rietveld's face, but he doesn't try to disagree. “Yes, I understand your reasoning,” the old man decides after a further moment of thought, “I won't be able to do much work with my fingers broken and my eyes swollen shut. Not much of a position to bargain from, but... it's better than nothing.” That sour look darkens a little as Rietveld looks down. “Although he could always break my legs,” he considers, “I don't necessarily need those to make a chart...”Take things one step at a time, you advise. Then you wince, replaying the words in your mind. Seeking to hasten the conversation along, you decide to break the bad news, the harsh reality, to Rietveld. The thing is, you begin slowly, you're not here against your will. This whole journey, this whole expedition, it was your idea. Even making maps for a little coin on the side... a suggestion you made, without realising how seriously Gore would take it. It's best that he knows the truth now, rather than having it come out later.Rietveld takes your confession surprisingly well, although he does tense up and step slightly away from you. Given the circumstances you can't really blame him for the reaction, but it does renew that stab of guilt. Twisting the knife, so to speak. “I suppose it can't be helped,” Rietveld says eventually, his voice stiff and overly formal, “These rogues are a law unto themselves. In either case, I believe you were taking me to see this doctor of yours?”Of course, you hasten to tell him, this way.-The Abaddon crawls northwards, and the land around you steadily grows wild and untamed. The comforting signs of civilisation fade into the distance, while the sky above darkens. It's almost always dark here, in the northern territories, but this is a different kind of dark. Increasingly familiar, but never comforting. Quite the opposite, in fact.Following your plan to the letter, Rietveld keeps his mouth shut and focuses on doing his job, his skill and efficient work impressive to watch. With a copy of the most recent map laid out before him, he casts a sharp eye at the passing scenery. Sometimes, more or less at random if you had to guess, he'll mark down a correction on the map, nodding with satisfaction. Either he's a damn good actor, or he's genuinely enjoying the work – even given the less than ideal circumstances.It takes all sorts, you suppose.[1/2]
>>1278242What is he even mapping? Isn't it just open ocean there?
>>1278280adjusting coastlines I guess
>>1278280>Mostly distant coastlines, yes, along with very minor islands or outcrops of land. It's very much just busywork, something to keep him occupied. The more serious work will come after we've passed Ghruul's Eye.
>>1278242For your part, you remain at the helm for most of the journey, giving minor course corrections whenever the Abaddon strays a little. All you ever need to do is close your eyes and the directions come to mind, dredged up from the darkest parts of your memory – although you can never shake the feeling that's it not your memory at all, but something far older. A lingering stain, left by your contact with the Giant.Gore doesn't question your directions, not once. It takes you a while to realise why – after you accepted Rietveld's appearance without argument, Gore seems to taken you for a willing accomplice. It's not a particularly welcome thought, but if it means he's more willing to trust you... so be it. You're not noble enough to throw away that advantage.As a bonus, your long hours at the helm prove to be quite educational. You're not completely ignorant when it comes to naval matters, but neither are you particularly competent. Watching Gore handle the controls, though, you learn a lot. If the worst comes to the worst, you're reasonably sure that you could guide the ship home. The rest of it though, anything that goes on down in the engine room, is beyond you.-“We're here, more or less,” Gore tells you simply, tapping the tip of his grotesquely serrated knife against the map. Night has fallen fully – perhaps the last proper night you'll see until you turn back – and the Abaddon has dropped anchor. Rietveld has been “escorted” back down to his cabin, his cell, now that night has fallen. His work is done for now, with the failing light putting an end to his efforts. Now, the helm is empty save for you and Gore.Glancing down, you examine the map and where he pointed. These are still safe waters, but you're skirting the edges of it. Ghruul's Eye is not far away now – you'll be interested to see it again, to see what might have changed. After that, the Garden of Giants will be your next major landmark. Past that point...Last chance to turn back, you tell him, you could all be back at Port Isten by daybreak.“Turn back? Why ever would I do that?” Gore asks, “I think things are going rather well! I have to question the value of Rietveld's work – does he really need to mark every rock and ridge we pass? - but that's a minor complaint. We'll be in ripe territory soon enough. The uncharted north... it has a rather romantic sound to it, wouldn't you agree?”>Whatever you say, Gore>I'd treat Rietveld with a bit more respect, if I were you. Those maps could be worthless if he doesn't make them just right. You know what Scholars are like>I'd say “dangerous” is more accurate. Haven't you heard the stories?>I needed to ask you something... (Write in)>Other
>>1278305Would the Garden, where the Orphan is stranded and the Academy being place worth something either for map making or for...treasure hunters? I guess the Garden could stay hidden a bit longer but the other places?
>>1278317>>I'd say “dangerous” is more accurate. Haven't you heard the stories?It's not the surrounding that is dangerous mind you, up there it doesn't take a lot for a crew to lose its mind. I say that as someone who's experienced it.
>>1278317>I'd say “dangerous” is more accurate. Haven't you heard the stories?"That's why I'm honestly surprised anyone took this job. You and your men have heard of the 'Red Moon' right?"
>>1278317>His work is done for now, with the failing light putting an end to his efforts.Does he not need to see the stars to measure distance and position?>I'd say “dangerous” is more accurate. Haven't you heard the stories?>They're true, by the way, I killed the monster whale lurking in Ghruul's Eye on my last trip, so a little less dangerous now, but not by much.
>>1278317>>I'd say “dangerous” is more accurate. Haven't you heard the stories?>"That's why I'm honestly surprised anyone took this job. You and your men have heard of the 'Red Moon' right?"
You'd have to say that “dangerous” is a little more accurate, you correct Gore, hasn't the heard the stories about these waters? There's a good reason why most captains are unwilling to take their ships this far north, and why you were surprised that he was willing to take the job. Has he ever heard about the red moon, you ask, any of those old stories?“Oh, we've all heard plenty of stories,” Gore nods to himself, toying with some of the tokens and trinkets around his neck, “Stories about madness and horror... and men who've returned safely. A rather recent story, that last one. Seems like a ship came back from these waters, safe and sound. If they can do it, why can't we? Certainly, that's what my men seem to be saying!”Someone from the Ghoul, you realise, must have talked. Maybe it was even Vas himself, sharing a little risky knowledge in order to sway Gore's opinion. If that's the case, you're really not sure if you should thank him or throttle him. Maybe both, one right after the other.“But you're right, I'm sure there's to be some danger ahead of us,” Gore shrugs breezily, dismissing the possibility with an idle flick of his knife, “If there wasn't, what kind of fun might that be? Whatever danger there might be, I'm certain that we have it under control. You're a Hunter, my crew are all keen fighters... what else do we have to worry about?”It's not that simple, you argue, not every danger can be slain so easily. Even the dangers inherent to the region are not so easily defeated. Out here, so far from anything, men can easily lose their minds. You've seen it happen, seen the results of crewmen coming undone by the things they've seen. Their fighting skill might not be the issue, you warn, it might be a matter of discipline.“Your advice is noted,” with a bored voice, Gore puts his knife away and brushes some imaginary dust from the lapel of his coat, “But you really needn't worry about me, friend. I've made my own preparations.”Again, your eye is drawn to that messy assortment of talismans he wears. Preparations, he said. Right.Perhaps Gore notices where your attention falls, because he gives you a callous grin. It's the sort of smile one might wear when sharing an ugly secret with a companion, a smugly knowing smile.You don't like that look. You don't like it one bit.“Go on, go,” still wearing that damnable smile, Gore waves his hands at you, “It's going to be a long day tomorrow. Very long, and very interesting.”Interesting. Right.[1/2]
>>1278414>Again, your eye is drawn to that messy assortment of talismans he wears.Huh. Wonder if it works. And if it does, does it only work on him?
We noted that some of the charms seem southern. Maybe we should ask if he's ever met the spirits he's trying to evoke. We could even offer him a swig. Nothing builds trust like sharing an illegal spirit ritual.
>>1278468Do not trust Gore. There can be respect between us, but that man can easily turn on you if it's in his favor.Don't reveal Revelle's existence.
Actually once we get some privacy we should take a sip of mazka and talk to Revelle about the nature of Gore's protection.
>>1278414>offer him a swig. Nothing builds trust like sharing an illegal spirit ritual.or evern better get some to the whole crew,she is powered by partys
>>1278488Revelle and that other spirit meeting would go like that.>Look at me, I'm the protection now. >I'm the strongest.
>>1278688We only had enough mazka to top off our pocket flask so unfortunately that's not feasible. I don't think it's a great idea, anyway, we don't know how they will react.I don't mind letting Gore have a sip if he gets cold feet, though I wonder if his northern charms are going to fuck with us since if they work, he has the attention of the nameless.anyway, Moloch are you kill?
Back in your cabin, you check that the door is tightly locked. Then you check it again, just to be sure. At the risk of appearing paranoid, you'd really rather not leave yourself unguarded while you sleep. As far as you're concerned, Gore should be treated like a wild beast – kept at a safe distance as much as possible. If it wasn't for the fact that you'd have to watch the bastard all day, you'd never let him out of your sight.When the time comes, though, you can't sleep. A nervous energy hums through your veins, and every nerve in your body seems to sing out a warning song. There's no reason for it, beyond the obvious, but still something keeps you from relaxing. A drink would be good, although getting seriously drunk would be the height of foolishness. You'll leave that sort of thing to the rest of the crew.Getting seriously drunk might be a mistake, you think as you take out your flask of mazka, but a little bit of indulgence might prove to be quite educational. Gore had a few southern trinkets in that collection of his, and you'd like to know if they have any power. Hartmann, you don't doubt, would love to examine them and talk your ear off about each individual one, but Hartmann isn't here.Your other expert, on the other hand...-Lying back in your bunk, with the mouthful of mazka still burning a faint path down your throat, you wait for the world around you to loosen up. The precise moment of transition is almost unnoticeable, but soon the colours around you – what little colour there is in this bleak little cabin – have flared with a new and vivid life. One blink later, and Revelle is sitting on the empty, austere desk.“Checking up on me?” she chirps, “I know, we're gonna be in business soon – don't worry about me, I'm ready for it! Been doing my stretches and everything!” As Revelle adds that last jaunty part, she reaches up as far as she can, her sleeved fingers trembling a few inches short of the ceiling. It's not a particularly tall ceiling, but she has a particularly short frame. Her lips are just starting to twist into a frustrated frown when you clear your throat, catching her attention before it can flit away.It's not that, you tell her, although you are glad to hear that she's ready. No, what you were wondering is, can she sense any other spirits about? Anything that might remind her of home, of southern rites and power.“Huuuuh? Now that you mention it...” Revelle pauses, a rare moment of silence and stillness, “I do sorta feel something. I bet I can tell you more, just let me...” Pursing her lips, she concentrates hard on something, focusing just like you do when you're trying to catch a scent. The moment draws out, and then-And then, like a scalded cat, she hisses.[1/3]>Sorry for the delay. Tech troubles
>>1278824You're sitting up, rising to your feet, within moments. What is it, you ask in a low and urgent whisper, what did she find?“I'm fine, I'm fine,” Revelle assures you, before ruining the calming effect by adding, “I don't think it saw me!”If anything, your unease only increases. What was it, you press, what didn't see her?“A devil!” the spirit breathes, “There's another spirit here, hanging around someone. It's... sharp, like a coat of needles. Ugh!” A deep shudders runs through her, but Revelle slowly brings herself to calm. “I guess... I got a little spooked. Didn't get the chance to learn much about it,” she begins to explain, a faintly defensive note entering her voice, “But it felt dangerous, lethal. It makes him quick, cunning... there's nothing protective about it!”So if he has any protection of his own, you muse, it must be one of those northern trinkets. Next time you're face to face with Gore, you'll have to get a better look at them. You're no expert, not like Alyssia, but you might be able to recognise something. Shaking your head, you let out a hushed sigh. Which totem was it, you asked, that spooked her so badly?“It's not IN any of them,” she corrects you, “It's in HIM. Wearing something like that, a trinket or something, that's just a show of respect. A... a courtesy.”So you won't be able to strip away his blessings, you muse, if it ever comes to a fight. You're not certain that it'll come to that, but there's no harm in being prepared. With that thought in mind, you ask Revelle one more question. Would it be possible, you ask, for her to strip certain people of their protection while keeping others safe?“Yup, can do!” the spirit nods, before pausing, “But... would you really gonna do it?”There's no harm in being prepared, you repeat grimly, that's one thing that you and Gore might just agree on.-An uneasy air hangs over the Abaddon's helm as the ship cuts through the waters. Between giving directions, you take a moment to glance about at the various faces. Vendrick, looming in the distance like a bodyguard attempting discretion, is unreadable to look at, but his finger taps out a sporadic rhythm on one meaty forearm. Ludwig fidgets, pacing around and casting vile looks at anyone who dares meet his eye. Rietveld seems calm, until you notice his growing irritation – his instruments seem to be giving him some trouble, and progress has stalled.Gore, though, seems to regard the approaching waters with awe. He stares up at the bloody sky with rapt fascination, one hand idly toying with the charms around his neck... and hiding them from sight.Then you enter the storms, making a mockery of your attempts at investigation.[2/3]
>>1278831The waters have, perhaps, calmed slightly since the last time you were here – you can't prove that it was due to your actions, but neither can you prove the opposite – but that doesn't mean that they're safe. The great whirlpool of Ghruul's Eye is still churning the water to froth, although it no longer seems quite so... malicious. A natural calamity, rather than anything with evil intent.Still, when you're caught up in it, the distinction seems meaningless. The Abaddon is thrown about on the waves, while everyone at the helm holds on for dear life. Everyone except for Gore, of course, who whoops and cheers with delight as he wrestles with the controls.It reminds you, perversely, of Vas.-When the Abaddon has limped out the other side of the storms, a collective sigh of relief rises up over the entire ship. The whirlpool is behind you now, its fury spent and fading. The waters ahead are clear, and will be for a while yet. When you announce as such, that sigh of relief is repeated. Even Vendrick looks a little pleased by the news.“Magnificent, really rather magnificent!” Gore declares, “Oh, this world possesses such wonders! There's always something new to surprise a man – the southern colonies, for instance. You, Rietveld, have you even been south?”“No sir,” Rietveld replies, sullen, “Never before.”“And what about our esteemed Hunter?” Gore turns to you, one of his hands brushing lightly against the hilt of that grotesque parody of a dagger, “Have you ever been to the colonies?”You doubt that it's an innocent question.>Can't say I have. The climate wouldn't agree with me>I've been there once, on business>You've been there as well. I recognise some of those trinkets>This is about my spirit, isn't it? You felt her, last night>Other
>>1278836>I've been there once, on business"Got a nice tan too."Hey Moloch could Revelle tell if Gore's spirit was protecting only him or his entire crew?
>>1278836>>I've been there once, on business>Can't talk about it, sorry.
>>1278836>>I've been there once, on businessGot a tan and a trophy too.
>>1278844>It makes him quickAnd it being IN him makes it pretty likely that it's just Gore.>>1278836>>I've been there once, on business
>>1278836>You've been there as well. I recognise some of those trinkets
>>1278844Or wait. I misread that. The spirit isn't protecting him from the Red Moon, just giving an edge in fighting. If he does have protection it'd might be one of the northern charms right?
>>1278864>>1278861>That's right. For clarity, any spirit influence he has is just his. Anything else he might have, we can't tell yet
>>1278877His going to be fun to fight
>>1278946I hope it doesn't come to that...but I know better.>>1278877Can Revelle weaken, but not entirely remove her protection on select individuals? Not enough that they start going mad, but enough that they start seeing shit like Wehrlain's machine on Low did?
>Going to see about wrapping this up soon, things are looking a little unsteady at the moment.>>1278981>I'd say that she can. It would leave the victims disorientated and confused, with some minor health problems. Sickness, headaches, hallucinations, that sort of thing. No lasting harm, however
You've been there once, you reply carefully, on business. You got a pretty bad tan – thankfully, that seems to have faded into distant and unwelcome memory – and a few trophies. That's about all you can say on the matter, unfortunately.“The Hunter's trade takes a man far and wide indeed,” Gore nods, reaching out and tilting a lever down. The Abaddon's engines quieten down, and your speed drops a little. “I always heard that the League's hold on the south was tenuous, too weak to really send Hunters down as needed,” the captain continues, a lilting note of amusement in his voice, “But I suppose the world is changing.”It really is, you agree, and it was a matter of some importance. Not the usual bit of business.“I see, I see,” Gore takes out his knife and picks at a fingernail, “A shame, really. I might have liked to hear about this unusual business. No matter, I'll just have to ply you with drink and force the truth out of you when we return home.”The way he says that conjures up all kinds of hideous images in your mind, as if there was an entirely different truth he was referring to. Hastening to change the subject, you point to the mess of charms he wears around his neck. He's been down south as well, you point out, you recognise those sorts of trinket. The workmanship is pretty distinctive, especially for someone who travels.“Oh, these? I collect them. Illegal, I'm sure, but who cares about that? You're right, I do have a few southern pieces in my collection. Lots of interesting stories behind them. Let me see, this one...” he pulls a specific charm up, something carved like a jagged tooth, “I took it from a little tribe, some savages who worshipped something they called Khanjar.”You note, with faint interest, his choice of wording. He wasn't given it, he took it. “Khanjar the sharp and canny, who would enter their greatest warrior and make him fight like a devil,” Gore laughs, tossing his knife up into the air and catching it again, “I can't say I was all that impressed. Maybe one day we can trade stories – your southern business for mine?”Maybe, you reply, but he shouldn't hold his breath. You weren't kidding when you said that you couldn't say much more about it.“And I wasn't kidding,” Gore murmurs softly, “When I said that I'd get the truth out of you, friend.”Deathly silence falls across the pair of you, across the entire helm. Every pair of eyes is locked upon you, and every breath seems to be held. The engine, barely making any noise at all, purrs away in the background.“Captain,” Rietveld says suddenly, “We're due to approach an island soon. What should our new directions be?”The bubble bursts, and every agonising morsel of tension bleeds away. Gore's shoulders slump slightly, and his smile falters a little before he can recover. Shrugging, he gestures to you for answers.Straight past it, you announce, straight north.[1/2]
>>1278992It might be a good idea to have her lower her defense of Ludwig or Vendrick.For 1. To test if Gore is protecting his crew at all.And 2. If Gore isn't we can swoop in when we see he is having issues, give him some pointers on how to focus on reality (while having Revelle raise his defense back up), and earn some good will with Gore's 2nd.If Gore isn't protecting his crew we can use that against him if we play our cards right.
>>1278992>>1279008Do we need to drink mazka every time we ask something new of her?
>>1279010If I remember right we can't directly communicate but we can give orders and she can nudge us as an affirmative in the back of our mind. Or some kind of warmth.
>>1279015>>1279010>We can give orders to Revelle without drinking any mazka, and she can give us a fairly vague response - enough to confirm or deny something. Anything more detailed than that would need us to drink some.>We'd need to speak our orders aloud, but they can be in a low voice. A whisper or a murmur is enough..
>>1278997There's something strangely nostalgic about seeing the Garden of Giants again, as if you hadn't been expecting it to be in the same place. A tattered remnant of that earlier silence still hangs over you, with the crew casting uneasy glances at each other. Rietveld – brave Rietveld, who might just have saved your backside earlier – is the only one unaffected. His attention is almost entirely focussed on his instruments and his charts, his pen dancing across paper.Gore's knife has finally found its sheathe again, and for that you're grateful. He's a strange sort, unwilling to press an issue once the moment has passed. You're all in favour of listening to your instincts, but – like most things – Gore seems to take it to an extreme.-A question springs to mind as you crawl through the strangely sluggish water. Just how protected are Gore's crewmen? The man himself has some kind of northern protection, you're sure of that, but what about the rest of his men? Somehow, you don't see Gore as being all that generous with his protection. Revelle is covering them, for now, but...An experiment, perhaps. Making your excuses, you slip out onto the open deck and take a deep breath. The air here is cold, bitterly so, and there's something about it that feels faintly uncanny. What must it be like, you wonder, if Revelle wasn't here?Revelle, you whisper, can she hear you?A faint warmth answers you, like a hand placed upon your shoulder. Something you'll take as confirmation.Ludwig, you murmur to yourself, the restless one who gives everyone shitty looks. Can she give him a little jolt, you ask, a little taste of the north? Not enough to harm him, but... just a little fright.She answers you not with warmth this time, but with a muffled cry. The helm door bangs open, and Ludwig falls out against the closest railing. Covering up your grin of success, you hurry to his side.“Good god!” he splutters, “Can you see them, Hunter? They can't be real, they can't be! Swords like buildings, like crooked towers!” Shuddering, he reels away from you and fumbles for a weapon. Coming up with a set of brass knuckles, he jabs a wild punch at you.Enough of that, you call to both Ludwig and Revelle, enough! Everything should be back to normal soon enough, you add. It's not a lie either – a warmth touches you again, and Ludwig calms. Just a hallucination, you explain, they're pretty common this far north. Did Gore not warn him about them?“He never said,” dark paranoia begins to stain Ludwig's features, “He said it was safe...”Really, you murmur to yourself, is that so?“This is a fearful place,” the sailor mutters, “Why would he...”>Perhaps he was wrong. A lot of nonsense stories going around these days>Maybe you should be asking him that>I think he's trying to get rid of you, keep any prize for himself>Other
>>1279122I mean it'd make sense he'd protect himself first....
>>1279122>Maybe he didn't know? Since you took the job I thought everyone was aware of the dangers. The captain needs his crew, I don't think he put you in danger on purpose.Let's not spark a fucking mutiny or lack of faith in the captain with this stunt, it's very counter productive at the moment isn't it?I suggest we talk to Gore and let him address the crew, explaining the dangers of the red moon. They only need to know that it's a possibility, not that they are being protected by us.
>>1279122>>Other"Probably to get everyone to still come up here regardless of the danger. It's going to get bad soon for all of us. I saw my old tenement building in the water a few hours ago. At least we can take comfort in the fact that we are all in this together now, even Gore....unless. Unless he found some way to protect himself. It might be a good idea to keep an eye on him, see if he has any of the issues the rest of us are having."In which case we should Revelle slowly start lowering everyone's defenses except for us (we'll just play the part) to just enough that the towers and buildings are commonplace.
>>1279165>explaining the dangers of the red moon. Or we can tell the crew ourselves to get them to trust us a bit more.
>>1279177Yeah that's great until Gore gets this idea that we are undermining his authority or starting a mutiny or just plain don't like us doing so.I really, really don't want to fight him on his own damn ship- if we have to do it, we do it on land when we are alone.
>>1279185I'm just trying to sow seeds now. You are correct in that being on land would be the best location for any conflict.Remember that we don't need him to get home.>If the worst comes to the worst, you're reasonably sure that you could guide the ship home.
>>1279122>>Maybe you should be asking him that
>>1279200I just think this is not the best way to go about it. We have been actively avoiding the crew the entire trip, if we suddenly begin talking to everyone he is going to notice. If there is a shift in attitude, however little, he's going to jump us.He's already here and he is looking for treasure, not our destination. We're worthless to him aren't we, now that he can sail around and let the guy draw maps for him. He'll make his money with or without us. We need to be on his side until we can kill our target, so I don't want to do anything to jeopardize this.
The way you see it, you reply in a low voice, there are two possibilities here. Either Gore knew about this danger or he didn't. If he did know, he probably held back that information in order to keep the crew from deserting. It might get bad soon, you won't deny that, but everyone will be in the same mess. You've seen some bad things yourself – your old ruin of a tenement building, stuck right up out of the water.“Yeah?” Ludwig brays out a nervous laugh, trying to picture the scene, “We're all in this together, right?”Sure, you agree, a captain needs his crew just as much as a crew needs their captain. That comes back to your earlier choice – maybe Gore didn't know about this, or he didn't know it would be this bad. There are a lot of possibilities here, and the only one who can really answer them is Gore himself. Maybe he should he asking his captain a few questions?“Maybe,” the sailor rubs a hand across his blunt head before shaking his head, “Nah.”No, you query, why not?“Captain doesn't like too many questions, especially when we're deep in a job. Times like these, he only takes advice from one person – himself,” Ludwig taps a finger against his chest for emphasis, “He's never steered us wrong yet. He'll know best.”No doubt, you agree, and so if he had a way of protecting the crew... he'd use it, wouldn't he?“Of course he would!” Ludwig nods quickly, then pauses. Dissonance is starting to set in, uncertainty clouding his thoughts. A seed has been planted, and that's enough for you. Pushing too hard now would just put everything at risk.Offering Ludwig a wan smile, you head back to the Abaddon's helm. Gore is standing stock still, eyes fixed ahead of him. In a low voice, you offer a slight course correction and he follows without so much as looking around at you.Closing your eyes, you listen to your old thoughts. It's not going to be long now.>Sorry for the abrupt ending, but I've just had something dumped on me. I'll continue this tomorrow, however.>Thanks for everyone who contributed today, and sorry for the pause!
>>1279220>We're worthless to him aren't we, now that he can sail around and let the guy draw maps for him.Yes in his mind which I suppose is the only thing that matters. No technically cause if we die the whole crew goes mad without Revelle.You're right in that maybe we should let him do the talking about the dangers. He honestly might dig his own grave cause unless he has a way to protect his crew the only real advice he can give is 'Deal with it the best you can' while he walks off fine.I'm just trying to get some insurance in case he turns on us and he already kind of threatened us.
>>1279246Thanks for running.
>>1279246no problem, thanks for running
You'll admit, you're a little curious about what you might see out here. Ludwig spoke of swords, as big as towers and looming across the waters. His words had lingered with you for a while, nagging at you with something that you couldn't quite put your finger on. Then, the answer comes back to you. When you had been peering into the Giant's thoughts – its memories? - you had caught a glimpse of the Noble Knight. He had been leaning on a sword, as you recall, a truly vast weapon.You're curious, but not curious enough to risk madness or injury by asking Revelle to ease her influence. Ludwig had certainly reacted violently enough, although he seems like the sort who reacts violently to most things. Either way, you're not about to just casually drop your protection even for a moment.After sailing on through that bleak, strangely ancient water for a while more, something rises up out of the mists. At first, you take it to be a hallucination – a failure of Revelle's influence – but when you mutter a question to your spirit companion, her answer is a cold chill. It's real, no matter how much you might doubt it. A tower, listing to the side and rising up from beneath the water. Completely sealed, without even a single door or window, you're left guessing as to the tower's purpose.“It's a lighthouse, I'm telling you,” one of Gore's crew decides, muttering to his companion.“Nah. Nothing up at the top,” the other sailor argues, “I bet it's a prison. There was something wicked locked up in there once, I'd bet my life on it.”“Reckon it's still in there?” the first counters. His companion has no answer to that, his uneasy silence providing enough of a response. Neither of them says anything else as the Abaddon crawls past the tower, never even slowing. Before long, the mists drawn back in and swallow up the tower.“Still think it's a lighthouse,” the first crewman mutters to himself, shaking his head and returning below deck.-With no more directions to give – your last had been simple, just keep on a straight course – you're free to wander the Abaddon until you reach land. You don't stay below deck for long, but it's enough to give you a quick read on the crew's mood. It's low, with a general sense of dismay only kept in check by Gore's leadership. He seems to inspire confidence in the crew, mostly, but the cracks are starting to show. Ludwig, you suspect, has been talking.When you head back up on deck, a new sight awaits you. Mountains loom ahead, through a curtain of mist, with a barren ring of wasteland clinging to them. As soon as you see those mountains, a heavy certainty descends upon you. This is it.The roof of the world. The end of a long road.[1/2]
>>1283301The Abaddon drops anchor a short distance from the island, as close as it could get without beaching itself or risking damage. From there, the crew splits – a small number remaining on board to guard the ship, and the rest piling into smaller ships to make landfall properly. Already, murmured speculations are passing between the men. Even from here, one shape has made itself clear – an unmistakably artificial construction amidst the wild.A ship, of unspeakably archaic design. Ragged sails hang limply from the mast and rigging, stirring with every gust of the cutting wind. You can't take your eyes from the ancient ship as you sail ashore.Gore, for his part, seems utterly unconcerned by the thought of his crew taking the ship and deserting him. Before splitting up, he promised every man that he would reap bloody vengeance upon any who betrayed him. It had the air of a ritual about it, a tradition, but the men believed every word of it. Hell, Gore believed his own words – he really believes that he would be able to track them down, even from this lost and dismay isle.“Well then,” Gore says, more to himself than anyone else, “What do we think?”“It's a ship,” Ludwig answers, his voice taut and tense, “Someone came here before us. Long, long ago.”“Long ago,” Vendrick agrees, “Never seen a ship like it.”“Quiet, you lot! I wasn't talking to you,” the captain snaps. You notice that he's toying with his southern talisman, his fingers idly dancing about it. When the pair of men reach with blank, confused stares, Gore forces a causal smile and continues. “I was talking to our Hunter friend,” he explains, “He led us here. I thought that he might have something to add, some stunning insight to offer us. Well, my friend?”Frowning, you regard the ship again. Getting caught up in a fight in those tight conditions – although you're not sure who the enemy might be – could be difficult. Even putting aside practical concerns... it carries the stink of trouble about it, vague but poisonous.>We should check it out, as soon as we land. I might be able to pick my trail>You're best leaving it. Danger is one thing, but this feels bad. There will be other prizes>There's your prize, Gore. Take whatever you can carry, I'm going on ahead>Other
>>1283305>We should check it out, as soon as we land. I might be able to pick my trailTake the bait
>>1283305>We should check it out, as soon as we land. I might be able to pick my trailThat's the ship the Knights got here on isn't it?
>>1283305>We should check it out, as soon as we land. I don't want to put the crew left on the ship in danger if there is something in there.
History as we know it may be turned on its head if you bring this ship back. You might have the Ministry, the Scholars and the Dragons on your trails if this history change their canon to something that isn't to their liking. It's a prize allright but you cannot be certain what kind of prize you'll bring about.
It's worth checking out, you decide, as soon as possible. You might be able to pick a trail there, and you'll be safer off checking it out. If there's anything hiding inside, you'd rather deal with it now instead of endangering the crew.“Oh, it's certainly worth checking out,” Gore agrees, “I can smell treasure, can't you? A ship like that... whoever owned it back in the day was no small fish. With luck, they were generous enough to leave something behind for us. Piles of gold coins, jewels and gemstones...”His hungry laugh cuts above the sound of the oars, filling the air as your boat slowly approaches the shore. At the sound of it, a few of his crew trade uneasy looks.-Gore elected to take six of his men ashore with him, the same six men he had with him when you first met the man. His inner circle, as it were. It seems like a long time ago now, and Port Daud has never felt further away. Hell, it's never been further away.Like most of the men, Gore has swapped out his thinner coat with a thick fur. Bleached a stark and flamboyant white, his coat stands out from the mix of greys and browns that everyone else wears. Quite deliberate, you're sure. The crew have their weapons ready – a mix of knives and cleavers, pistols and shotguns cut down to stubs – and wait for his order. Observing them like this, from a distance, you note a few things. Ludwig casts a distrustful eye about, occasionally glaring at Gore's back, while Vendrick has drawn back from the whole group – only a few paces, but it seems like a lot more. The other four crewmen are a mix, varying degrees of confidence and loyalty showing on their faces.If it came to a fight out here, you think, Ludwig and Vendrick would be out. Not taking your side, that's certain, but probably not taking Gore's side either. Another two of the crew, men whose names you don't know, look equally uncertain. The final two are definitely loyalists, as obedient as men can be. Useful information to have, although you hope to hell that it doesn't prove necessary.Shrugging his shoulders, Gore points the way. Lagging a little behind, the rest of the group follows him.-“How long, do you think?” the captain asks aloud as you walk up a creaking boarding ramp, “How long since anyone breathed this air? Since anyone stepped on these planks?”Time doesn't mean much here, you reply with a carefully indifferent tone, but... a long time. A very, very long time.“All that time, left untouched,” Gore licks his lips, “Delightful. We'll start up top and work our way down, shall we?”Slinging the Maus rifle over one shoulder, you draw your pistol and blade. Lead the way, you tell Gore with a gesture.[1/2]
>>1283373“Say,” Gore remarks, pausing at the mouth of the lower deck, “The ship itself... what do you think it's worth? I dare say it's a rare specimen, maybe even something that they've never seen down south. It we could find a way of getting it back...”It might turn history on it's head, you caution him, and that has a habit of upsetting people. If there's anything about this ship, historical records or documents, that fly in the face of League doctrine... he might be making a few enemies. It's a prize, you agree, but it might be the sort he thinks.“Hmm,” sniffing with disdain, Gore weighs up your words, “I'm not shy of making enemies, but even I know my limits. I rather like being an accepted – or, at least, tolerated – part of League society. A backup plan, I should think, if this place proves empty and worthless. With that in mind...” Without waiting for anyone else, Gore descends into the darkness below deck. Grimacing, you follow that flash of white fur.-Your earlier fear, about being caught in tight confines, proves to be less accurate than you had been suspecting. The corridors are all wider, with higher ceilings, than you had been expecting. Of course, you realise, this ship wasn't build with human frames in mind – much like the high doorways found in Thar Dreyse's oldest manors. A ship for Knights... the thought leaves a thrill of vague fear, almost awe, at the back of your mind.Heedless of your thoughts, but busy with fears of their own, Gore's crew swap clipped instructions and reports. They sweep the ship like professionals, covering doorways and leaving no blind spots. There's not much in the rooms you pass, but the men snatch up anything they can find. That's where their professionalism ends, although they're disciplined enough that no fights ever break out, no arguing over the spoils. Yet.“Got a door. Locked,” one of the men reports, rattling the handle of a rather more sturdy door. “No, not locked,” he corrects himself, “Just stuck. I can force it.”“Do it then, Sinh,” Gore orders, “The rest of you, keep watch and listen well.”Weapons are raised, and then the sound of Sinh's shoulder thumping against wood echoes out. The door opens with a crash, and then Gore's breathless gasp of wonder reaches you. Peering around his shoulder, you see the cause of his amazement. Treasure, just as he had been predicting, spilling out from an open chest. Heavy gold coins, covered with archaic markings – letters that you can't read, dates that mean nothing to you, faces of long-dead figures...There it is, you tell Gore quietly, his prize.[2/3]
>>1283442The gold coins aren't the only prize on offer, as a further investigation finds. A crown, for one thing, and a gilded sceptre. The remains of a grand silk robe, although those are worthless and ruined by age. Books, also destroyed by the passing of time. The various objects you find all seem to share the same feeling, a faintly religious air. They all remind you of...Glorious, you murmur. Gore overhears you and looks around, getting entirely the wrong impression.“You're exactly right, my friend,” he agrees, “It's glorious... and ours, now. Raime, Ludwig – I want you here, with us while we check the rest of the ship. The rest of you, I want you to start moving these goods to shore.”-“Splitting up?” Ludwig asks quietly, as Gore is leading you further below deck, “Is that wise?”“Boss doesn't like too many questions,” Raime reminds the other man, a nasty note in his voice. Raime... you don't like him much, just based on first impressions. He was one of the loyalists, and his eyes have the flat look of a killer. He's not the sort of man you like to let out of your sight... except that he's walking behind you, bringing up the rear of your column.“It's perfectly wise,” Gore replies, with a deceptive calm in his voice, “Because it's perfectly safe... don't you think?” You see the white fur of his coat brushed aside, Gore's hand slipping down to the knife at his hip, but the captain doesn't turn around yet.“Not so sure about that,” Ludwig risks, “We're all in this together, aren't we, captain?”Gore stops dead in his tracks, so suddenly that Ludwig almost bumps into him. You stop as well, but Raime actually does knock into you. He mutters a curse, but that's the only sound. Gore still hasn't turned around, his unreadable back offering you nothing.>Captain doesn't like too many questions, Ludwig. Best settle down>Good question. You look after your crew, don't you Gore?>[Remain silent]>Listen to me... (Write in)>Other
>>1283499>>Listen to me... (Write in)"Nothing this far north is perfectly safe. If we are splitting up everyone needs to be cautious.">OtherKeep walking.
>>1283499If I was an ancient evil who's been waiting all this time in this forsaken place, I'd wait until my prey would be preparing to return to whereever they came from, so I could slip into their ship and...well you know what an ancient evil would do in this situation.Or I couldn't be bothered by that and wait in my lair for the foolhardy hunter to come and make my blood sing in my decrepit veins.
>>1283499>"It's not perfectly safe, and that is not up for discussion."
>>1283523Add to this,>"This is my third time in the far North, I can assure you that the greatest danger by far is isolation."
>>1283499>"Nothing this far north is perfectly safe. If we are splitting up everyone needs to be cautious.">this is, after all, a ship built for a giant>touch the wall for emphasis
Nothing this far north is perfectly safe, you announce in a calm – as calm and steady as possible – voice, that's not something that is up for debate. There are all manner of dangers here, but isolation is the most consistent. If the group is going to split up, that means being extra cautious and not wasting any time. Keep moving, you suggest, this place wasn't made for men – it was made for Knights, for a Giant. It's not a good place to linger. As if emphasising your point, you reach across and lightly rap your knuckles against the wall.As the sound echoes out, Gore finally turns around, first eyeing up Ludwig and then giving you a curious look. His knife is half out of its sheathe, not yet fully drawn. “Dangers, hmm?” he asks you, an incongruously cheerful note in his voice, “What sorts of dangers, do you think? Has the esteemed Hunter picked up a scent?”Well, you begin quietly, if you were an ancient and terrible beast – the sort that you're here to kill – you would be eager to find a way off this island. That would mean seizing the first working ship you could find, or – better yet – slipping aboard while its crew are distracted. After that, well, the dangers should be obvious.Pausing a moment, you allow a wicked, and faintly theatrical, smile to spread across your face. Or if that was too much effort, you continue, you'd just wait in your lair and feast on whatever prey stumbled across your path. Less work that way, but equally delightful. Those are the sorts of dangers you mean, you finish dryly, and that's just the start.A further pause, and then Gore laughs aloud. Sheathing his knife again, he claps his hands together in what might actually be genuine praise. “I like it, my friend,” he decides, “Sinister beasts lurking in the world's darkest corners, plotting their return to spread mayhem and chaos... you can spin a fine yarn, when you set your mind to it. Very amusing, very good...” Nodding, he pats Ludwig – who looks pale and shaken – on the shoulder. “Not perfectly safe, then,” he tells his underling, “But where would be the fun in that?”Quite so, you agree flatly, so how about you all keep moving?Still laughing faintly, Gore turns away and continues deeper down into the guts of the ship. Raime follows, giving Ludwig a nasty look as he goes. You're next in line, with Ludwig taking a moment to follow you. The poor bastard looks as though his heart has stopped, and he's still waiting for it to start up again.[1/?]
>>1283574>his heart has stopped and he's still waiting for it to start up again.>it doesn't>the Red Moon starts beating for him
>>1283591>You okay, man?>I'm fine, I wouldn't worry about it.
>>1283574Earlier, you had felt an ill feeling hanging over the ship, but you couldn't narrow down the precise cause. It eluded you, no matter where you looked or whatever theories you tried to put together. You had considered that it was the sheer age of this place, but it felt more... malicious than that. Time would not leave such an unwholesome scar.What you found there, in the lowest guts of the ship... that explains it. Even Gore is shocked into silence by what you encounter. The walls are lined with filthy cages – finally, a dark part of your mind whispers, something build with human proportions in mind – and a long table is bolted to the centre of the narrow room. Dark stains have sunk into that wood, vivid even after the uncountable years. Closing your eyes, you run a finger across some of the grooves in the table. You smell a phantom trace of blood, and images of butchery flicker through your mind.There's nothing here, you announce as you open your eyes, it's time to leave.Gore, for once, offers no comment.-That stain of ancient magic, witchcraft in its most primal form, seems to cling to you for a long time. It's only when you return above deck, when the awful light of the red moon pours over you, that you start to feel clean again. Gore seems to think the same way, recovering enough of his wits to give you a cocky smile. It's not the moonlight that has brightened his mood, you realise, it's the sight of the treasure laid out for inspection.Whatever makes him happy.“A fine prize,” he decides, circling the pile of loot, “Well worth the trip out here, I'd say. What do you say, friend?” Having asked this, but before you can give him an answer, Gore turns away from you. Reaching down into the pile, he lifts out the crown you saw earlier and turns it over in his hands. It's far too big for his head, a fact that seems to trouble him greatly. Shrugging, he tosses it back down and glances inland, at the mouth of a rugged pass.That's right, you tell him, your prize waits further in. You're sure of it.“Is that so?” Gore whispers, not taking his eye from the pass, “Then I suppose you'll want to get going. Don't want to leave it waiting forever, do you?”It's waited this long, you grunt, a little longer won't hurt. Before you go, you want to make sure of one thing...“Oh, we'll be here,” Gore assures you, guessing your next question, “I wouldn't dream of leaving without you. I'll want all the juicy details later, when we're making our triumphant journey home. I'd call that a fair trade, wouldn't you?”You glance aside, to the waiting crewmen. Vendrick, looming and unreadable, gives you a slight nod. A small assurance, but one you gladly take.[2/3]
>>1283639You always knew that you'd be doing this alone. There was no point in asking Gore, or any of his crew, if they wished to accompany you. As you were heading inland, you glanced back to them – they had made themselves as comfortable as possible, watching you leave with lazy expressions. Noticing your look, Gore gave you a sardonic wave. Turning away, frowning to yourself, you press on into the barren pass.The path you walk feels terribly familiar, as if you were reliving old memories. When a flash of red chalk catches your eye, scratched onto a patch of barren rock, you feel no surprise. Simply pulling your furs a little tighter around you, you follow the arrow down a branching path. As you start down this next stretch, something scrabbles above you – a faint sound, like claws on rock, reaching your ears.The Maus rifle is in your hands within moments, thrown against your shoulder as you peer down the sights. Above you, skittering across the ridge, you catch a fleeting glimpse of a human – roughly human – form. Frowning harder, you lower the rifle and return to trekking north.Maybe you're not as alone as you thought.-When you reach the next junction, you spot that figure again. As before, it's quick to be away as soon as you appear, but this time you get a better look at it. It's definitely not human, with a deformed and strangely bird-like head. A cowardly sort of creature, judging by the way it continues to flee from you, but harmless enough. Harmless enough when it's alone, you correct yourself, it might be bolder as part of a group.Either way, it's not the beast you're looking for – the cold dagger at your hip is proof of that. Its retreat carried it down a narrow path, taking it away from your marked route. Standing at that junction, you pause.>Keep following the arrows. This is no time to be getting distracted>Follow the bird creature. It might be worth investigating>Other
>>1283691>Keep following the arrows. This is no time to be getting distracted
>>1283691>Keep following the arrows. This is no time to be getting distractedGive it a friendly wave if it appears again
>>1283691>Keep following the arrows. This is no time to be getting distractedThough I am curious what kind of lifeform that is. Giants and Knights are all we are aware of from ancient times.
>>1283691>Follow the bird creature. It might be worth investigatingNo way chalk marks would have survived since the Knights' time. Best not to trust them too much
Shaking your head, you leave the strange creature be and keep following those ancient red arrows. This is no time to be getting distracted, even if you are a little curious. What kind of creature could it be, you wonder, that lives this far north? It's not one of the Knights, and it's certainly no Giant, but you're not sure what else it might be. Those cages in the derelict ship... a degenerate human, or something that was once a human?Looking up at the sky, you gaze into the red moon for a long moment. Could that light have twisted the human prisoners, leaving them in a more animalistic form? Maybe... or maybe it destroyed them, creating new life from their remains. It's a question you might never find an answer to. Certainly, that lonesome and taciturn moon is keeping its secrets to itself.-A different bird creature – this one has a rusty red hue to it – pops its deformed head above the ridge at one point, but this time you don't aim at it with the rifle. You offer a harmless wave instead, but that also sends the creature fleeing. Letting it scurry away, you push them, all their misshapen kind, from your mind. Let them eke out whatever existence they wish, they're not your problem. Not your prey.It's been a while, you realise, since you've seen an arrow. Not that it really matters, you've been on a straight path for a while now, but the absence is strangely disconcerting. Swallowing back your unease and gathering your resolve, you push forward as the pass widens ahead. Passing a few withered, dead trees – regular trees, their presence unexpected here – you emerge into a clearing.Above you, the moon has swallowed the sky. Ahead of you, a crumbling ruin juts from the lifeless soil. No human hand built that structure, you sense, but it doesn't look like something a Knight might have made. Were the Giants builders once, you wonder, or was there something else – something that history has forgotten – that left a mark here?Another question that might never find an answer. For all you know, the nameless northern gods might have sculpted the building themselves, dragging it up from the unformed earth. Its purpose, though...With one heavy footfall after another, you approach the inhuman building. It has a wooden door, vast and ajar as if to invite you inside. Checking the Maus one last time, you draw in a slow breath and step around the open door.[1/2]
>>1283691>>Follow the bird creature. It might be worth investigating
You guys think that creature is a failed experiment, one of the bloodlines that didn't work? Wolves for hunting, birds for scouting?
>>1283772Motes of dust hang suspended in beams of crimson moonlight, the light pouring through holes in the high ceiling. The grand hall is bright enough for you to see, but only just – the pools of shadow are deep, so deep that you might drown in them. What strikes you most about the great chamber is how... empty it is. There is nothing here, nothing that might hint at a purpose or the original creator of this place.In the centre, a statue. No, not a statue – a man, kneeling with his massive sword thrust into the ground before him. Clad in metal armour, scarred and rent by ancient battles, the Knight is motionless – no more active than the statue you had mistaken him for. Around him, also stabbed into the ground, three more swords of varying size and shape wait. The ground underfoot is covered with a thin layer of dust, stirring as you take a tentative step forwards.Your dagger flickers with a faint and indecisive warmth, a greater heat flaring up a moment later. The blade pulses like a heart, throbbing at your side with a growing heat. Still distant, the Knight begins to stir.With the stiff motions of a machine long without maintenance, the Knight rises to his feet. Dust, flakes of rust and crumbling stone fall away from his joints as he moves, but he makes no sound. When he tears his sword – the blade almost as tall as you are, and squared off at the tip – from the ground, the noise of rupturing stone seems very loud indeed. The Knight offers you no salute, no introduction or attempt at communication.Why should he? For one such as him, you're little more than a dog – something born to be a slave, to be used and discarded as needed. To be destroyed at the first sign of rebellion or resistance. With a slow and dispassionate step, the Knight begins to approach.The Maus rifle, tight against your shoulder, suddenly feels woefully inadequate.>What should your opening move be? (Write in)
>>1283826Potentially. Could be the products of another Nameless God impregnated witch as well.
>>1283848Shit this fight is something out of Dark Souls.The only way we are doing damage with our knife against that armor is in the joints.Fire a Maus shot off at his leg to hopefully hobble it then circle it to find weak spots. Don't commit to an attack unless we find one.
>>1283848Doubt a shot to the head would do anything but piss him off. Same as the giant, kneecap him to slow his movement, staying mobile so we can reload and continue firing.
Oh yeah, pop the invisibility upgrade, guess we should have entered with it.
>>1283848Fire a Maus shot off at his leg
>Going to close the vote now and start writing.
>>1283848>Shoot the leg
>>1283848pop invisbility and run outside, we dont want to fight him indoors
>>1283848yeah kneecap him, then retreat. don't get closetry to reload and pop one in his head when he's down. the giant might not have had a brand, but he has
Something strange – the Knight doesn't react to the sight of the Maus rifle, not even slightly. At first, you take it to be a monumental display of arrogance, but then another thought strikes you. Could it be, you wonder, that he doesn't know what a rifle is?Well, he's about to learn. Standing your ground, you jerk your aim down and settle the sights over the Knight's knee. Allowing him one step more, you squeeze the rifle's trigger. With a thunderous crack, it kicks against your shoulder and punches out a powerful shot. It's a good hit, and the Knight is driven back down to his knees by the impact. There's no blood that you can see, but you're not looking that hard. You're already moving back, throwing yourself into one of those pools of shadow and focusing. As the Knight rises to his feet once again, shaking his head with strangely human frustration, you draw the shadows tighter around yourself and concentrate on not being seen.>[Focus remaining: 1]Reaching into your pocket, you pull out three heavy bullets – the last of your Maus shots. Enough, you think, it'll have to be enough. Loading another shell into the rifle, you slide out of the shadows and back off, making your way out of the ancient building. The Knight is...Gone. How can he just be... gone? Freezing in place for a moment, you listen for any footsteps, any sounds at all. A moment later, you hear a huge, echoing creak coming from behind you, then you turn.Behind you – how did he get behind you? - the Knight finishes pushing the great door shut and stabs his vast sword down into the ground, blocking your exit. Biting your lip hard to hold back a cry of surprise, you duck back into the shadows. Focus, make a plan. He's unarmed, limping bad, and he doesn't know where you are. Hopefully.>What next? (Write in)
>>1283948Fire and move, hit the same knee if possible
>>1283948Shot the other leeg
>>1283948shoot the other knee
>Closing the vote here, and writing now.
We'll have to write a thank you letter to the old man that gave us the Maus sometime.
>>1284016and more importantly, have new bullets made
As the Knight lurches up the centre of the great hall, he finally speaks. In the faltering voice of one barely familiar with the language, he calls out to you in your own tongue. “Where?” he growls, “Man... you are hidden. Where?”His voice is old, terribly deep and dripping with contempt. Every word seems to be ripped from his throat, almost as if he resents having to use your language. Answering him, of course, would just be playing into his hands – he wants you to speak, to give your position away. That, or he wants to scare you into hiding for a while longer – for you to keep your head down as he seizes a new weapon. That's his destination, a straight sword planted deep in the stone tiles, although his gaze continually pans across the hall. You'll need to pick your moment carefully.There – he looks away from you, glancing down for his probing hand to close around the sword. As he looks away, you lean out of the shadows and fire, your sights fixed on his other leg. The rifle cracks again, just as the Knight pulls his new sword from the ground.What happens next, happens very quickly indeed.Your shot hits true, knocking the Knight low, but then he moves with hideous speed – no more slow, measured steps here. He twists his body around and hurls the sword in your direction, his aim hideously keen. The ragged outcrop that had been casting a shadow across you – it might have been a pillar once – explodes from the impact, knocking you aside and forcing a cry from your lips. Rubble falls from above, forcing you to scrabble to your feet and madly evade.A mailed fist finds you, the blow lifting you up off the ground and throwing you back a few feet. The world spins around you, a thunderclap of pain shuddering down through your entire body. Greying out for a moment as you land, your vision clears to reveal the Knight. He holds your rifle up to the impassive mask of his helmet, turning it over and examining it closely. For a moment, you almost think he's about to snap it in half, but then he simply drops it.“Weak,” he sneers. Slowly clenching his fists, the Knight takes a slow step towards you. Dark blood is leaking out of his knee – both knees – and his pace is agonising to behold. A man might be crippled, but the Knight forces his body to move. Turning his attention away from you, he lurches past – heading for his next blade.Ignoring you. The arrogant bastard is ignoring you.>What's your next move? (Write in)
>>1284054blow his stomach out.
>>1284054put a bullet in his head or neck, what a dick.anyone remembers the scene where that human killed the knight's king? perhaps emulating him is a plan.
>>1284054Shoot him in the head I guess? If this dude wants us to use all our bullets on him the we should oblige.
>>1284054Changle him to a dule
>Going to close the vote here. Sorry if things slow a little, I'll try and keep the pace up.
>>1284089I think the fight was itself was skipped over when Lize saw it. I do remember the human having two blades. I assume it was mainly dodging and counter attacking.
>Yeah, I've got a pretty bad block going on. I'll try and get a post up to close things, but I don't know how long it's going to take. I'm sorry about this, it's not exactly how I'd hoped this would go.
>>1284290You know you could ask for rolls if that makes it easier. Write ins are fun cause we have to think but that +20 we built up over the quest is burning a hole in our pocket.Also if you wanted a epic duel you should have broken the Maus right there like Henryk thought. 'Shoot the nigger' is a effective strategy until you do.
>>1284054Let's go Beast Mode as well, dodge tanking will be important in this fight.
>>1284290>>1284320It seems our only strategy is "shoot the kneecap" and since we have such a ridiculously overpowered elephant gun the only way to make it less of an "I Win" button is to counter with "A Wizard Did It". It really doesn't make for a fun or climactic battle when the opponents can only drag themselves across the floor from the moment we see them.It's fine to ask for rolls if it helps you write.
A long time ago, perhaps longer than can be measured, the Knight fought a great battle with his former companions. A fleeting image of that battle has been seared into your mind ever since you made contact with the Giant, just as the scars from that battle have left the Knight's armour damaged and flawed.Pulling your pistol free, you roll over and unload the magazine into the Knight's back, his head, anything, firing again and again until the hammer falls upon an empty chamber. Most of your shots spark off his armour, flashing bright lights in the gloom, but some find their mark – slipping through those old wounds and punching into his flesh. Dark blood spurts out, and he stumbles forwards. Bellowing like a beast – showing his true colours at last – the Knight turns around again. Reaching up, he pulls off the blank mask of his helmet and finally looks at you with his true face.Grey skin, the colour of a dead man's flesh, meets you. His eyes are flat and black, while his lips have drawn back to reveal the sharp white teeth of a deep sea predator, set in a vicious snarl. As you force yourself to your feet, you draw the birthing blade and point it at him.A duel, you shout as you point the blade at him, like Tsorig and Leonhard – just like the old stories!Your words don't get much of a reaction, with the Knight staring blankly at you. “Tsorig?” he repeats, as if the name means nothing to him, “Duel?” Then he laughs, a curt gurgling laugh that sends a spike of rage into your heart. Still laughing, he seizes a new sword and rips it out of the ground, finally giving you a salute. His sword is a shorter piece, although still longer than anything you'd be comfortable using, and hooked at the tip. He brandishes it with one hand, while the other hand...It's pressed to his side, to the gunshot wound you left him with.“Duel,” the Knight snarls, nodding his monstrous head.-You start by circling him, watching as he stands in place and follows you with his eyes. He moves his body as little as possible, keeping his feet planted firmly upon the ground. Blood pools beneath them, running down his wounded legs in thin streams. When he absolutely has to move, his legs drag and his balance sways. He might waver, but the sword he holds before him, keeping you from getting too close, never drops an inch.-Still circling him, you wait for the Knight to start one of his lurching turns. As he moves, you twist around and launch yourself to the opposite side of him. As you throw yourself into motion, he scythes out with his blade and just catches you, the hooked tip ripping through your torso. Your furs part, with the flesh underneath parting just as much. Your lunge, spoiled, turns into an ungainly collapse.[1/2]
>>1284446Laughter, more of that damned laughter!If the Knight hadn't laughed, then, he might have won - you might have given up right there. This is all so familiar, a bloody gut wound in some lonely northern hell – when you brushed up against death for the very first time. Here you are again, bleeding like a stuck pig as the world turns grey around the edges. What cuts through the haze is the Knight's laughter, cruel and mocking. It reaches you, as if coming from a great distance, and stirs new life within you.You've not come this far to fail now.Reaching out, you find the Birthing Blade's grip and close a fist around it. Lurching back up, you throw all your strength into driving the blade into the Knight's knee – piercing the back of it in a spurt of sickly black blood. Twisting and ripping the blade free, you send the howling monster down to one knee. Before he can rise, you grab his back and cling to it like a child. His mailed hand, the fingers tipped with cruel spikes, reach for you, but they only find a grip on your loose furs. Shaking off his grip, you drive the Birthing Blade into the side of his neck, pushing it deep enough that the tip bursts through the other side.Throwing you off, the Knight tries, fails, to rise. Slumping forwards, he drags himself a few paces away before growing still. Pressing a hand to your side, feeling the blood slick flesh beneath your torn clothing, you swallow hard and rise. It's... not good, but not the worst you've ever seen either. You can still move, that's enough for you.Crawling over to the fallen Knight, you grip the Birthing Blade again and try to pull it free. It's hard work, and the best you can do is drag it halfway out of his flesh.It takes a very long time to finish sawing through his neck.>Well, it's done now. I'll aim to finish this off on Monday or Tuesday, depending on how I'm feeling.>Sorry about flaking out this close to the end. I feel kinda lousy about it
>>1284451thanks for running moloch, hope you feel better soon
>>1284451Thanks.Its i like your way of wrightingJust it aeems a few battles have become more story/ cinematic the invloment from us.Still makes a good picture in my head
>>1284451Should have quipped "idiot" while we were on his back.
>>1284451No problem and thanks for running.I do think ending this quest is going to take more than just 1 session. Still too much to address. Probably 2 sessions.
>>1284528we better get a long epilogue too or I will file a complaint.
>>1284528>Deal with wound>Deal if Gore is he makes a fuss>Get to Steyr >Make sure Gore doesn't fucking off the old man after he turns in the maps.>Probably get Camilla to come with us back to the capital if she can get some time off/tell her about everything>Get to capital>See how the whole Artemis thing panned out>Learn the Giant's blood's capabilities>Distribute Blood to allies>Lize reconnecting with her family (I want us to be there for that. It's the end of her character arc after all)>Decide what to do with Artemis' deal, whatever that might entail.>EpilogueYeah it's going to take an extra session.
i'm honestly more excited for the epilogue then i was for this fight
>>1284451thanks for running Moloch>>1284595think you're planning a bit far ahead there anon, we still have to get past those bird scavenger things
>>1284683Well I wasn't really planning for anything. Just listing the things that probably needed to be addressed before an epilogue.I did indeed forget about the bird things though.
>>1284665Well we're actually looking at a good end for everyone, that is pretty hype with all the shit we had to do for it to become real.>>1284595You forgot>Have to go underground as fugitives>Run from overzealous Ministry agents and top brass>Hide from overeager College snakes with no sense of right and wrong>Flee to the old college and build a small family cottage in the northern wasteland>Years later the military shows up with miniaturized and improved Wherlain thingies
>>1284696I implied all that with >Epilogue:^)
I wonder how long it'll take for Arty to wake up. If we can we should try and go to Nihilo before long.
Post your face when it turns out that Artemis was in fact pic related?
>>1287602Quick! We have to find three teenage girls with attitude and familiarity with the occult!Lize can join them.
>>1287626But who can we find that is willing to undergo one Petra of suffering?
When it came to taking a trophy from the body, you were left at rather a loss. Taking the whole head would be too much effort, to say nothing of how ghoulish it would be. Even an ear would be pushing it, just pressing up against the boundaries of your comfort zone. A finger... that might do it. As you're stripping off one of the Knight's gauntlets, though, you see a better chance. One on his grey fingers, there is a metal signet ring. It's nothing that might attract a high price or a great deal of attention – simply a ring of steel, with worn and faded engravings covering it – but something about it... you get the impression that it must have meant a great deal to the Knight. You can just about make out the remains of a family crest – maybe this ring had been his last tie to a life left behind.And now it's yours, you think with grim amusement, destined to sit on a shelf in a bleak tenement block for the foreseeable future. What a sad fate.With the ring tucked away in your pocket, you take a moment to steady your nerves before looking down at the wound in your gut. It's ugly, there's no denying it, but all the blood makes it look worse than it really is. Even so, it's going to leave you with a pretty interesting scar once Wiktor has done his job – so be it, you decide, it's not as though you weren't marked already.-Getting out of the ruined building is no easy task. Perhaps you could uproot that vast sword if you threw your entire weight into it, but the trial might just finish you off. Even if you got the sword out of the way, the doors are vast enough that you could never drag them open. An alternative plan, then, is needed.Walking a wide circuit of the hall, you search the walls for any crack or fissure that might offer an escape. On the way, you find the discarded Maus rifle lying behind a pile of rubble. It's in a shameful state, scuffed and scored with ruined sights, but a little work should bring it back to its former glory. Not that far from where you find the Maus, you see a faint dusting of snow – something blown in from outside. Following the slight rush of cold air, you find a small hole in the outside wall. Small... but just big enough for you to drag yourself through.Just big enough to be possible. That doesn't mean it's going to be pleasant.-The wound in your gut leaves a bloody trail behind you, and the effort of writhing through the cracked stone leaves you breathless for a long time afterwards. For a moment, all you can do is lie in the snow and feel the drifting flakes settling on your clothes and skin.Slowly, painfully, you rise to your feet and start walking.[1/3]
>>1290267This is the second time in a row that you're spending the journey south in a haze of anaesthesia, lying back in bed and letting your thoughts drift. It's not so bad really – in fact, you're starting to get a taste for it. The worst part is when you wake, not knowing where you are or what time it is supposed to be, with Gore pacing the length of your room. His knife is drawn, and he thoughtfully weighs it in his hands.The journey back through the barren lands had been a surreal one, as if you had been dreaming for much of it. Whenever you glanced up to the high ridges, you had seen more of those bird creatures... far more than before, in their dozens. Rather than shying away, they held their ground – motionless, save for their heads turning to watch you as you passed by. Never hostile, never helpful, they simply watched you lurch and limp away. As you approached the shore, their numbers had started to thin before they vanished completely.When you had stumbled back to the shore, to where had last seen Gore, he had been waiting for you. By that point, you were barely upright, barely keeping yourself awake. Before passing out, the last thing you had heard was Gore's brisk voice calling for help. After that, you had dipped in and out of consciousness for a while. Wiktor worked on you for a while, you know that much, but the rest of the details elude you.Until, that is, you were roused by Gore pacing back and forth, knife drawn and ready.-“You've been asleep for a long time, friend,” he says softly, “We're about a day out from Port Steyr. It's been a boring journey, without any worthwhile conversation to fill the time. I wish I could have slept for half as long as you.”Try laudanum, you suggest dryly, it seems to work wonders for you.“Not an option, unfortunately. I've got to keep my eyes open at all times – who knows what might happen if I let my attention slip?” Gore shrugs, “Well, it hardly matters. We all must make sacrifices sometimes, and I can't exactly say that I'm not being well compensated for this, can I? That's what matters, when all is said and done.” Sheathing his knife, the captain turns to leave. Then he pauses, looking back. “You're an interesting man to work with, friend,” he says, “Do call on me again, if you ever get another spot of juicy business.”A polite offer, you think to yourself, but one that you might have to turn down.-By the time the Abaddon is pulling into Port Steyr, you're upright and on your feet again. It feels good to be standing up on deck, breathing in the polluted air – civilised air. Figures hurry back and forth on the docks, but one remains perfectly still.Camilla, standing in place with a face as dark as thunderclouds.[2/3]
>>1290269“I was hoping to see you,” she begins as you limp over, her hard eyes flicking between you and the Abaddon, “I have a few questions for you... and your friends.”Now wait a minute, you protest, they're not-“The same day your “group” left town – the exact same day – there was a disappearance. A local Scholar vanished from his home, with signs of forced entry. Considering what we discussed earlier, before you left, I wondered if you might be able to tell me anything about it,” pausing for a moment, Camilla watches you for any reaction, “The missing Scholar, his name is-”“Excuse me,” a reedy voice cuts in, “Is there a problem?” Looking more calm and collected than you've ever seen him, Rietveld strides from the ship and gives Camilla a curious look. To you, he flashes an aside glance – a faint smile in his eyes.“Look who we found,” Gore adds, joining you, “Is there a reward on offer?”-“Alright, I'm sorry. I was coming on a little strong, wasn't I?” sighing, Camilla shakes her head and gives you a regretful look, “I just... wanted to sort this matter out. I really did – I just wasn't expecting it to be this easy.”Wasn't expecting Rietveld to just stroll back, you suggest, makes sense. He was sort of a last minute addition to the crew, you add vaguely, you didn't even know about it until later. That's sort of how Gore operates.“Hmm, I can see that now,” nodding gravely, Camilla bites back a slight smile, “How did you manage to keep yourself from strangling the bastard?”Experience, you decide after a moment of thought, you've got plenty of experience in dealing with bastards. Anyway, you ask, she mentioned wanting to sort the matter out – why was it so important to her?“My own stubborn pride, I suppose. Do you have time? There's something I'd like to discuss with you, and something to show you,” having made this offer, Camilla draws back like a duellist seeking to avoid a counter attack, “Of course, if you needed to head back south sooner rather than later...”>I can make time. What did you have to show me?>It's not a good time, Camilla. I have to head back as soon as possible>I need to head south soon. Why not come with me? We can discuss things on the way>Other
>>1290272>I can make time. What did you have to show me?Though>Why not come with me? We can discuss things on the way
>>1290272>>I need to head south soon. Why not come with me? We can discuss things on the way
>>1290272>I need to head south soon. Why not come with me? We can discuss things on the way
>>1290272>>I can make time. What did you have to show me?>>I need to head south soon. Why not come with me? We can discuss things on the way
You could spare a little time, you reply with a shrug, but not a lot – you need to return south before too long. She could come with you instead, you suggest, that would give the pair of you plenty of time to discuss matters.“Well...” Camilla taps a finger against her chin as she considers your suggestion, “I could probably arrange for some time off. It might require pulling a few strings, but it's possible – I'll have to make a few calls first. If I'm being entirely honest, I'm glad you made the offer.” Nodding off towards the local Ministry, she starts to walk. As you pace alongside her, she continues. “I've been thinking about things,” Camilla continues, “About what you've got going on down south.”Artemis is the first thing you think about, but then you correct yourself. The business of the Giant's blood, of course. That hypothetical matter, you say with a faint smile, what were her thoughts?“Your friend, your contact... I thought it might be best if I heard what they have to say for myself. It'll keep them honest, if nothing else,” she shrugs, “I'm not accusing them of anything – not yet, at least – but it pays to be careful. Call it a little bit of insurance, double checking things.”She'd keep things unofficial, you ask carefully, right?“I can be discrete,” Camilla promises you, “Sometimes.”-“Pulling a few strings”, as Camilla called it, turns out to be easier than you expected. She talked with a few of her colleagues at the Ministry, signed a few forms, and then you were on your way again – although this time, she had a parcel tucked under one arm.“Important documents,” she told you with a wink, “That need to be taken to the capital as soon as possible. Of course, that means someone needs to carry them by hand...”Convenient, you reply dryly, and how soon does the next southbound ship leave?“Oh, about...” Camilla pulls out a note and checks the printed list of times, “Two hours from now.”Convenient, you repeat, but what about that thing she wanted to show you?“It's not all that important really. I can give you the details well enough,” the Ministry agent shrugs slightly, “You won't be missing much to hear it second hand.”There's a slight reluctance to her voice, but she hides it well. With no mind to press the issue, you accept her answer and move on.-The ship in question is nothing glamorous, just a bulk transport, but after spending so long on the Abaddon... a drab vessel seems like a nice change. The captain is dull and unimaginative, while the crew are harmlessly crude. All in all, nothing to complain about. Settling down in your shared cabin, you sigh and tentatively touch your aching wound. To take your mind off it, you resume your earlier conversation with Camilla.[1/2]
>>1290308So what did she want to talk about, you ask her, and what did she want to show you?“It was...” she stops herself from going any further, closing the book she had been reading and giving you a stern look, “Now you'd better not laugh about this, you hear me?”Understood, you assure her, no laughing.“It was my new desk,” Camilla winces a little as she says this, as if expecting you to laugh, “I'm clawing back a bit of my old respectability, you see. A new desk, an office all to myself... up in the Ibarra Garrison. When the military is ready to step down, I'll be taking charge there – everything from hygiene regulations to criminal proceedings will go through me. It's going to be a lot of hard work, but I'm glad to do it. Better that I do it, rather than someone who won't take it seriously.”That is an admirable attitude to take, you reply with a deliberately solemn tone, but there's one very important question you have – is it a nice desk?“You ass!” laughing aloud, Camilla throws her book at you, “I knew you weren't going to take this seriously!” Forcing a frown, she folds her arms and tries very hard to give you a reproachful look. When that fails, she sighs. “It IS a nice desk,” she relents, “But it's just a desk, when all is said and done. It's what that desk signifies that really matters.”Still, you guess, she'll be pretty busy once her new job has started. Not a lot of time to do anything else.“No, that's true. Once I've got the right people in the right positions it should ease a little, but until then... it's going to be rough,” groaning faintly, she leans back in her chair and rubs her temples, “Another reason to get away for a little bit. Who knows when I'll next get the chance to take a little holiday?”It's not a holiday, you remind her, she's delivering some important papers.Smirking a little, Camilla opens the parcel of documents and flips through the pages – blank, every single one of them.-The journey south is hardly an eventful one, although there is one notable abnormality. For the first five days of your journey, the majority of it, you feel a faint restlessness as you're drifting off to sleep. It almost feels like the familiar pull, summoning you to Nihilo, but it never lasts longer than a moment. The connection, you sense, never quite lasts long enough. For five nights, you lie down to the same dreamless sleep.On the sixth night, the situation changes. Closing your eyes to get some sleep, you feel the same tenuous pull. This time, though, it doesn't slip away from you.Nihilo awaits.[2/3]
>>1290329Bouta break my F5 key
>>1290329>Nihilo awaits.Uh oh. Shouldn't it have been dismantled when we killed Noble or during the weeks it took to get back down here.[Worry]
>>1290329Even before you've opened your eyes, the smell of blood washes over you, almost overpowering in its intensity. It doesn't get much better when you open your eyes and take a long look around you.The Stillbirth lies near you, its hideously split mouth torn wider still – its entire head almost torn completely open. Nearby, the Brute is equally broken and bloodied. As headless as it ever was, it has been split down to the middle so that greasy ropes of entrails are tangled at its feet. Covering your mouth against their sickly smell, you start to slowly – tentatively – creep through the abyss.The burnt out husk of the Divine Beast lies a few more paces away, still smouldering gently. At the end of a long trail, the countless snakes that made up the Gluttonous Beast have been pulled apart and scattered. Reaching down to touch one, you feel splinters of bone grind together beneath the scales. The fifth beast, the Parasite, has been reduced to little more than a bloody smear on the ice, identifiable only by the few pieces of carapace left intact.What had once been the Lunatic's giant eye, blind and mad, is now a blasted ruin – no more intact than a normal eye might be, after being gouged by a thumb. Fearing what might come next, you turn your gaze to the boulder that Isten and Yvette often sat at. Swallowing back a wave of revulsion, you spot a pair of slumped forms as you approach. From the way they lie, it almost looks like Isten – slain by a single blow, punched through his sternum – had been shielding Yvette. It did her no good – the noblewoman lies behind his body, her head thrown a few paces away.After that, the details start to elude you, your eye skipping from one bloody scene to the next. The Mermaid, flat head split open. The Giant, with a yawning hole torn through its chest. A great rent in the ice that reveals a dark churn of bloodied water. Finally, apart from all the rest, the Noble Knight. His throat has been reduced to tattered rags, with the unmistakable signs of tooth marks visible in his flesh.Artemis is nowhere to be seen.The abyss, as if deciding that you've seen enough, rejects you. It spits you out, throwing you back into the waking world.-You sit up so suddenly that you break a stitch in your gut. Pain jolts through you, chasing away the last remnants of sleep. Pressing a hand to the bloody wound, you drag in an unsteady breath. A lantern hisses as it brightens into life.“What is it?” Camilla asks, her voice hard but hushed, “What's wrong?”>Just a bad dream... I think>It's a long story, but you need to hear this...>Other
>>1290370>>It's a long story, but you need to hear this...
>>1290370>It's a long story, but you need to hear this...Camilla will scold us so much. But we can't leave her in the dark now. It could be dangerous.
>>1290370>It's a long story, but you need to hear this..."So there was this Tree and this Flower right..."
>>1290375>"Remember when you said my life was like a radio drama? Sometimes I wish that was actually true..."then >>1290379
>>1290370>>It's a long story, but you need to hear this...Ah fuck this is worrying. But also hype if it means last boss Artemis. Also a bit late but surprised the bird friends left us alone up north, was sure they'd pick us to bits.
>>1290379>It's a long story, but you need to hear this.and also>>1290379 thisstarting to get worried here
>>1290426I wonder what we missed out on by not following it
It's a long story, you begin with a grimace, but she needs to hear it. You were planning on telling her, just... not like this. Before you begin, you add, you need to make sure of one thing...“What?” Camilla asks softly, “Not to laugh?”Not to interrupt at all, you correct her, you're not sure if there's going to be much to laugh about.-You talk for a long time, pausing briefly to gather your thoughts or take small sips from a cup of water that Camilla brings you. Even though it's clear that she has a great many questions – or just things to say to you – she holds her silence. Just as you had asked, she doesn't interrupt. Starting with when your ship was attacked, you tell her about your very first meeting with Artemis. From there, your story unfolds without omission, even when you're tempted to skip over certain details. When you talk about tracking Yvette Camilla's eyes narrow slightly, but she still holds her tongue. Finally, with a summary of the grim dream you just endured, you bring your story to a close.When she said your life was like a radio drama, you add as you wait for a response, she wasn't kidding.“Is that... everything?” she asks eventually, “There's nothing else you want to add?”Well, you pause, there might be some background information you hurried past. The historical context, for example – things really began with a great tree and a flower...“No, wait, forget I asked,” holding her hands up to halt you, Camilla winces, “We can talk history later, I need to focus on... this. Pressing matters. Just give me a few moments, I need a little time to take this all in.” Rubbing her weary brow, Camilla fumbles out a crumpled pack of cigarettes and pushes one between her lips. Lighting it, she looks up at the ceiling for a long moment – as if the answers to all her questions were printed there.-“Okay,” she begins, once half of her cigarette has been burned to ash, “Okay, I think I'm ready now. My first question is – did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, this Artemis creature could be an incredibly dangerous thing to revive?”The thought did cross your mind, you admit, but... it started to seem unlikely. Knowing her for so long, talking and spending time with her, you built up a rapport. You weren't deluded enough to believe she was harmless or anything like that, but neither did she seem hopelessly malicious.“She could have been playing you, right from the start,” Camilla points out, “Even the form she took, it might have been carefully planned out – designed to evoke sympathy and kindness.”Again, you agree, the thought had crossed your mind. That said, you'd like to think that you're not so easily swayed – it would take more than a pretty face to buy your loyalty.“I'm sure,” Camilla remarks, a humourless smile on her lips.[1/2]
>>1290431Probably a battle with the horde of them and maybe some treasure.
>>1290432For a while, you both remain silent, neither of you quite sure what to say. It's hard to gauge exactly how Camilla is feeling – a cold and professional mask has slipped down over her face, hiding everything from you. The sort of expression she'd wear, you realise with faint dismay, when dealing with a suspect. When she lights her second cigarette, the mask lifts a little – just enough for a hint of uncertainty to slip through.“Let's look at this from another angle,” she begins, “These twelve beasts – most of them were pretty dangerous, weren't they? I would say that killing them has made the world a better place, generally speaking.”That's certainly true, you agree, the north is certainly a safe place without the White Tyrant around.“And, if I'm understanding this right, those beasts are gone for good,” Camilla continues, “So that's another benefit.”You think that's right, you tell her with a nod, although you're not certain. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but you're not entirely clear on some of the more esoteric aspects of all this. When you first arrived in Nihilo, nobody gave you a guidebook.“Well, I suppose that can't be helped,” Camilla hesitates for a moment, then crushes out her cigarette. “Look, Henryk, this isn't the sort of thing that I can judge you for. Not professionally, at least. Personally? I don't know what I would have done, if I'd been put in your position. It doesn't sound like you were given much of a choice, back then. The way I see it, though, you've got a duty,” meeting your eyes, she draws in a breath, “A duty to learn exactly how dangerous this Artemis is and, if needed, deal with her. Do you understand what I'm telling you?”You understand, you promise her, you're not about to shirk your responsibilities. If you have to face the consequence for your actions, you'll do it.“Then, as far as I'm concerned, you shouldn't feel too bad,” reaching across, Camilla puts a hand on your arm, “What you did, you did in good faith. The rest of it... we'll have to wait and see what the situation is.”Sighing, you feel relief washing over you. There's still a cautious reservation in Camilla's eyes, but her response is far from your worst expectations. On the whole, you'd say that this is about is positive as you'd been expecting.“There is one thing I'm wondering, though,” she asks, in a more casual tone, “The two of you – it might not be any of my business, but were you ever... close?”No, you tell her with a laugh, not like that.“I see,” Camilla nods, and a faint feeling glints in her eyes. Relief, perhaps, or something like it.[2/3]
>>1290494wait does she know about lize now?
>>1290549She knew about Lize when that dude attacked her for Iosefka's research papers.
>>1290553but does she now lize is a noble? i can't remember if we told her when that happened
>>1290597She does. She was worried that if people found out we'd be charged with kidnapping, but trusted that we had a handle on it.
>>1290604oh allright, thanks
how about asking Revelle what the fuck happened.
>>1290494Although Camilla seemed to be satisfied with the matter, it would be impossible to deny that something has changed. When she thinks you aren't looking, you notice something uncertain in her eyes – not suspicion exactly, but caution. The same unease with which she regards witchcraft has surfaced again, and this time it's aimed at you. It might not be a rational fear, she might not even know about it, but it's definitely there.Well, so be it. It stings a little to be on the receiving end, but you can hardly blame her for her caution. If your positions were reversed, you'd likely behave no differently. Neither can you deny your own unease – you want, need, to know what you're dealing with. As soon as your ship pulls into Port Daud, you catch the very first train back to the capital – pausing just long enough to wire Lize a message. A warning, you think darkly as you send it off.-Thar Dreyse isn't burning when you arrive back, which you take as a good omen. Even so, without either you or Camilla suggesting to do so, you hurry straight back to your tenement block. Anders is listlessly pushing a mop about when you arrive, and your urgency causes a crooked smile to form on his face. He's got some snide comment to make, you're sure of it.Before he can speak, you cut him off. Anyone new about here, you ask sharply, any visitors he's never seen before?“Not one,” glaring at you, Anders slowly shakes his head, “But I'm a busy man. You don't expect me to spy on everything and everyone, do you? Eh, don't answer that.”Brushing past him, you ignore the muttered curses that trail behind you and hurry upstairs. When you reach your apartment door, you quietly set down your bags and draw the Birthing Blade. It's cold, but you have no idea if that means anything or not. Camilla, beside you, put a hand on the pistol she wears at her hip. Nodding grimly to her, you reach out and throw open the apartment door.Lize, halfway through building a house of cards, cries out in surprise and jolts back out of her seat-“No guests, no,” she tells you as she picks up the scattered cards, a faintly grumpy note to her voice, “Good thing too, it's starting to feel pretty crowded here. Oh, you did get some mail – let me just grab it now.”Artemis hasn't arrived, you think to yourself, not yet. It's been over a week since you killed the last of her beasts, and she is still yet to be seen. Maybe you're going to have to find her yourself, with any search starting at her temple. As you think to yourself, Lize hands over a thin pile of mail. All junk, except for a simple note from Vas.“Results!” the note reads, “Better talk to your noble friend.”Damn it, you mutter quietly.>Visit Solberg now, while you're in the capital>Travel south to Artemis' temple, as soon as possible>Other
>>1290633>>Travel south to Artemis' temple, as soon as possibleSolberg can wait, blood ain't going nowhere.
>>1290633When's the next transport? If now, go now. If not, may as well take a look see
>>1290633>Visit Solberg now, while you're in the capitalWe might need it for Artemis.
>>1290633>>Visit Solberg now, while you're in the capitalShouldn't take more than an hour.
>>1290633>Visit Solberg now, while you're in the capitalat least some good news, hopefully.also maybe take some blood with us to artemis
>>1290633Can we actually get a chance to talk to Vas as well first? Or wossername our neighbor witch to see if she has noticed anything wonky? Also I'm not concerned about Artemis killing the Beasts. We killed them ourselves once already, after all. Better that than trapped forever in Nihilo.
>>1290633>Visit Solberg now, while you're in the capital
>Closing the vote now, going with Solberg first.>>1290683>We can visit them along the way, yes. I'll include this with the next post. Writing now
>>1290691Vas and Isofeka? Might be handy to have another Scholar along to explain things or point out concerns a layman would miss.Like dosages, handling, methods of administration, flaws in the testing, not to mention being able to double-check that Solberg is giving us correct info / product if we get anything from him.I've been thinking about the safest way to handle the blood, and decided it might be best just to make sure EVERYONE has it.Some for the ministry, some for the nobles, some for the scholars, some for the black market, some for the North, some for the League and the Wolves etc.
>>1290703Our (Henryk's) supply is finite. Henryk should only give it to the people he wants and keep some for future generations, all while keeping it quiet.Solberg's plan for a renewable supply is going to paint a target on him, even if he tries to be altruistic and give it to everyone (which he won't cause he is going to use it as a bargaining chip to keep his house strong). Vas and Henryk should distance themselves from that as far as possible like we established when this renewable supply was brought up the first time.
>>1290718Or alternatively we get Solberg to give us his procedure for renewing it and give the information AND the blood to multiple parties.Honestly there's no way to distance ourselves enough from Solberg at this point.
>>1290718Actually thinking on it, if Solberg DOES want to keep the renewable blood for himself then his best interest is to get rid of us.Like. No one faction is strong enough to just hold it without fighting the others. Simply because everyone who doesn't have it would gang up on the one that did.The only way to be safe is to make sure that everyone has access to it.
>>1290730>Honestly there's no way to distance ourselves enough from Solberg at this point.Of course there is. Just stay from him and his endeavors after we get the results.>>1290734No. Stop that line of thinking. You're making mountains out molehills. Just stay uninvolved
Whatever Solberg has discovered, it might be important – not just for you, but for Artemis as well. Hopefully, you'll be able to get his results quickly enough. It's been more than a week already, Artemis can wait a few hours more.Hopefully.Frowning a little, not entirely convinced by your own decision, you mention your plans to Camilla. When she hears them, she gives you a firm nod.“That works,” she agrees, “I'll admit, I'd like to hear what this friend of yours has to say as well. It's not that I doubt him, so much, but... well, suspicion comes easily when you've been with the Ministry for a while.”Understood, you tell her, there's just a few stops you've got to make first...-“Oh, hello, you're back!” Alyssia glances between you and Camilla, a faintly guarded note in her voice. No surprise that she's cautious around a Ministry agent, considering her... activities. “I'm, ah, guessing that you can't stop for long,” she adds, noticing the uneasy mood in the air, “So what can I do for you?”You're just checking up on things, you assure her, she hasn't seen anything out of the ordinary recently? What about dreams, you add, any strange dreams?“No, uh, nothing like that. I've not...” Alyssia pauses, glancing across to Camilla, “Ah...”“I know about it,” Camilla assures the witch, offering a humourless smile, “Henryk and his imaginary friend.”“Well, I don't think that's a very fair way of putting it,” a stiff, prim note creeps into Alyssia's voice, “But... no. I've not seen anything strange around here, and I've not had any unusual dreams. I've not really had ANY of her dreams, now you mention it, not for... ah, over a week. Do you think she's okay?”You trade a quick look with Camilla, shrugging slowly. It's hard to say, you reply honestly, you're in uncharted waters now. All you want her to do is keep an eye out, and stay safe. With a little luck, this should all be over soon.-“A bar?” Camilla asks, looking at the Medicine with a raised eyebrow, “That's our next stop?”You're looking for someone, you counter, and this is the most likely place to find him. Both of them, in fact. It's a business visit, you won't be drinking... much. Leaving Camilla to shake her head in dismay, you head inside. Behind the bar, Iosefka's assistant is holding court – she gives you a blank look before nodding to one of the more discrete tables. There, Vas and Iosefka are just finishing a quiet conversation. Standing, Vas notices you and hurries over.“Looks like Gore didn't treat you too badly,” Vas begins, “You get my letter?”>Sure – let's go see what Solberg wants>Do you know anything about what Solberg wants?>Have you mentioned this to Iosefka?>Other
>>1290764>>Have you mentioned this to Iosefka?Do we care about what Solberg wants?
>>1290764>Sure – let's go see what Solberg wants>Have you mentioned this to Iosefka?
>>1290764Once we leave the bar we should clue him in. Not telling him anything too crazy since he doesn't seem to like that, and it's not a safe topic out in public. Just let him know that our personal business is concluded and the results are either great or the world's going tits up soon.
>>1290764>>Have you mentioned this to Iosefka?>"Her experience would be helpfull I think.">>clue him in on Arty
Sure, you reply, and his letter mentioned results. How about heading over to see what Solberg wants?“Right. Better to hear it from the man himself,” Vas nods, half turning back to his table, “Just let me get my jacket and finish things here, we can-”Wait, you ask, has he mentioned this to Iosefka? Your question causes Vas to freeze in place, a faintly guilty look slowly crossing his face. Alright then, you sigh, how much does she know about all this?“She knows what we're working on, what the benefits might be... and what I got paid,” Vas sighs, “Couldn't very well hide that from her, could I? Women, you know, they have a way of sniffing out these things, and Iosefka... well, she can pry the secrets out of anyone. She's pretty interested in what's going on, but-”“But I'm yet to meet this Solberg for myself,” Iosefka finishes, appearing at Vas' side and giving you a look of cool appraisal, “I'd quite like for that to change. As a fellow professional, I'm rather curious about his various methods.”Her experience could be helpful, you suggest, it might help to have a fresh pair of eyes going over the material. If Solberg has missed anything, hopefully Iosefka would be able to pick up on it.“Ah, fine, fine. I'm clearly outvoted here,” sighing, hardly looking upset by recent developments, Vas nudges Iosefka, “Looks like you get your wish after all.”“I always do,” the Scholar purrs.-As your group is leaving the Medicine, a thought occurs to you. Considering everything that he's done to help you, Vas has a right to know a few things. Maybe not the full story, the same account that you gave Camilla – if nothing else, you hardly have the time for that – but a few bits of insight. Touching his arm, you quicken your pace a little, putting a little distance between you and the women.Your personal business, you tell Vas quietly, this important work you've been wrapped up in... it's over. One way or another, it's all done now.“One way or another, huh?” Vas repeats, “That sounds a little worrying, if you ask me.”Maybe it is, you shrug, but it's about as certain as you can be right now. Whatever happens, you get the feeling that the world is going to change.“Between Solberg's plans and your personal business, it sure is,” your old friend laughs, “I just hope it's still a world that I recognise by the end of it all.”Solberg's plans, you murmur, you're getting a bad feeling about those. After this is all over, you're going to put a bit of distance between the nobleman and yourself – he'd be wise to do the same.“Aye, that's the plan,” Vas agrees, “It's his mess now... or his fortune. Either way, he's welcome to it.”[1/2]
>>1290829Solberg looks tired, as if sleep was a distant memory.“This is unexpected,” he says eventually, after giving every member of your group a long and probing stare, “I was expecting two people, not four – and definitely not a Scholar and a Ministry agent.”“Sometimes, life surprises us,” Camilla replies simply, “But you have nothing to worry about – we're not here in any official capacity.” She doesn't even bother asking how Solberg knew about her or Iosefka, simply accepting it and moving on. “But I would like to hear about your work,” she continues, “In as much detail as possible.”“And I would like the same,” Iosefka adds, “Perhaps I can help. Have you been struggling with anything?”Solberg looks between the pair of them, then sighs and gives you a faintly accusing look. You just shrug.-Over tea, served in one of Solberg manor's nicer rooms, Solberg explains his work. Camilla listens with a careful frown, her eyes never leaving the nobleman, while Iosefka occasionally chimes in with increasingly esoteric questions. Undeterred by Camilla's scrutiny, Solberg responds with equally arcane answers. Vas looks utterly lost, only ever perking up when the conversation swings to practical matters – usually about money.“Very well then,” Solberg finishes, “As it stands, my research is at a key stage. The short term study has concluded – any further research will be spread across a matter of years, not days or weeks. Before I go any further, I would like to warn you – try to approach this without expectations. It may be... better this way.”Why, you ask cautiously, what went wrong?“Nothing, so far, has gone “wrong”, as you put it,” Solberg shifts uncomfortably, “But perhaps it is appropriate to say that things did not go as “right” as hoped. Giant's blood does indeed purify the blood, but the results are limited. For example, my cousin Nathaniel – his physical disfigurements have shown only a minor improvement.”The damage is already done, you guess, is that it?“A crude way of putting it,” the noble protests, “And not entirely accurate. With the accumulated filth purged from his blood, his condition will not deteriorate further. His life expectancy, in other words, has greatly increased. In a younger specimen, I imagine the results would be even better – the damage would not get the chance to develop, you see?”You picture the Giant's image in your mind – your ruined tenement block. It was cleansed, true, but not repaired. So that was what it meant. A solemn mood descends, with your friends giving each other unhappy looks.“I did warn you,” Solberg says mildly.[2/3]
>>1290924Bad for Lize's parents. Can still be good for everyone else though
>>1290943Might help her mom keep going. It'd also let them do restorative surgery since the cause can be removed. Wasn't a point before now because it'd just get worse.
>>1290943>>1290947Can either remind me what problems Lize's parents had beyond mental
>>1290924“Excuse me,” he adds, rising, “I need to fetch something. I will only be a few moments.” Bowing briefly, Solberg leaves with almost indecent haste – clearly glad to be out of the increasingly awkward atmosphere.“This isn't terrible news,” Iosefka says, the first to break the silence, “Yes, perhaps it's short of a miracle cure, but it does offer people years... decades more. It's still incredibly valuable.”“Wait,” Camilla cautions, “Solberg mentioned his cousin, said that his condition would not deteriorate further. He was lying.”Lying, you repeat, really?“Definitely,” the Ministry agent nods grimly, “A definite and deliberate falsehood.”Before you can press her for more information, Solberg returns with a folder tucked under one arm. “You will need this,” he begins, oblivious to your murmured conversation, “It contains my instructions for use, along with dosages.”The folder is, put simply, meaningless to you. Rows and columns of figures and abbreviations, all printed in small, cramped text. You recognise height and weight as two variables, but others...“It's everything you need,” Solberg explains, heedless to your confusion, “Take it. I have my own copy.”>Right... but what do I do with it?>You lied, earlier. Why did you lie, and what are you hiding?>What's Nathaniel's condition like now?>You mentioned physical conditions - what about mental ones?>I had a question... (Write in)>Other
>>1290967Physical deformation. The dad especially.
>>1290968>>What's Nathaniel's condition like now?>>You mentioned physical conditions - what about mental ones?Better to beat around the bush gently?And then >Right... but what do I do with it?
>>1290968>>What's Nathaniel's condition like now?>>You mentioned physical conditions - what about mental ones?
>>1290968>You mentioned physical conditions - what about mental ones?Then>You lied, earlier. Why did you lie, and what are you hiding?>What's Nathaniel's condition like now?"This is too serious for me to take bullshit with a smile."
>>1290995Supporting these additions
>>1290968>What's Nathaniel's condition like now?>You mentioned physical conditions - what about mental ones?>Pass the list to Iosefka so she can proofread it>Right... but what do I do with it?>You lied, earlier. Why did you lie, and what are you hiding?
>>1290968>What's Nathaniel's condition like now?>You mentioned physical conditions - what about mental ones?>Have Iosefka check the folder.>You lied, earlier. Why did you lie, and what are you hiding?"All I care about is knowing exactly what this blood does. Every attribute and every side effect. Give it to me straight this time."
What's Nathaniel's condition like now, you ask, how minor was this improvement?“Nathaniel had multiple tumours, attached to several of his organs,” Solberg tells you, with a blunt simplicity, “Since injecting him with Giant's blood, they have... loosened their hold. Combined with a surgical intervention, it would be possible to remove many of them – further increasing his quality of life. I cannot, however, promise that these results would be consistent. Again, I remind you to temper your expectations.”“That IS an improvement,” Iosefka breathes, “You're quite the pessimist, aren't you?”“This is a success of human medicine as much as any... esoteric solution,” Solberg retorts, a glow of rare pride in his voice, “But yes, it would have been impossible without the Giant's blood. I admit that much.”And what about mental conditions, you ask, what sort of improvement would they show? He's mentioned plenty about physical conditions, but nothing about mental ones.“This, I fear, is where human medicine fails us both,” Solberg admits, “Ailments of the mind are little understood – even now, sedation is often the best that Scholars can do. A mental condition, with roots in corrupted blood... nothing is certain. However, when the blood is cleansed, I believe that the condition may be removed along with the corruption. If the blood is not the root cause, however, I would not expect any improvement. If you happen to learn more, please tell me – I'm always looking for additional information. On that subject, Scholar, did you find any flaws in my work?”“Not in what you've told us,” Iosefka shakes her head, “But these documents of yours...” She tilts her head a little, giving you a curious smile. Nodding, you hand the folder over and let her skim it. You've got other matters to discuss.Listen, you tell Solberg simply, you know that he lied before. You want to know why, and you want to know what he's not telling you. All you care about is knowing exactly what you're dealing with, every side effect and attribute – this is too serious for you to just swallow his lie with a smile.“I see. That would be why you brought...” Solberg nods to Camilla, who gives him bland smile, “Well, I did not lie in order to harm you. Of that, you can be certain.”Noted, you reply, now what was the truth of the matter?“I said that there would be no further deterioration,” Solberg sighs, “That was not true. Recently, I took a fresh sample of Nathaniel's blood – it showed the very preliminary signs of corruption. Incredibly minor, too small to be found in a regular examination, but unmistakable. In time, the filth and contamination within his blood will return – and with it, the associated health issues.”[1/2]
>>1291108So a repeated dose would be needed.So let's see. Degradation sets in around 40 right? With the right timing it would only take about 2 doses for a human life span as long as you take it in your 30s before degradation sets in. Not entirely bad.
>>1291121Sounds reasonable. Now we found what to do with the leftover doses. Hand them out for holding so they can be taken again when shit starts going bad.
>>1290755> Just stay from him and his endeavors after we get the results.Once word gets out, and word WILL get out, there are living lie detectors n the setting. People trying to track down the Giant's blood - for power, for themselves, for a loved one - will trace it back to Solberg and through him to us.Assuming the Ministry doesn't break down his doors and grab him.Assuming the League doesn't investigate the change in nobles.Assuming he doesn't do some stupid Scholar shit and make a big mess.Assuming someone he heals doesn't tell someone else.Assuming Vas doesn't accidentally let it slip. Or any of the sailors who were with us.Assuming no witchcraft will smell us out.Assuming Gore isn't investigating us.All those possible leads to us.Not even dealing with the fact that we should consider that we might have an obligation to make it available to all groups so that none can hold it as leverage against people.Yes, it's being paranoid, but this is pretty much the Philosophers Stone of the setting. Easily the most valuable thing in existence.I'd rather be proactive in making it pointless to come after us, then just hiding our head in the sand.How many secret societies and spies and shit have we dealt with so far in the quest? We haven't exactly been low profile in that arena either.It's a common story that giants blood is to the far north.Who has gone there multiple times on mysterious missions?
>>1291135>It's a common story that giants blood is to the far north.No it ain't? Either way, no need to think that far ahead, doesn't make sense anyway.
>>1291125I say we give the to Iosefka.She can copy Solbergs work and manufacture more blood.She can also discretely disseminate it to hopefully prevent a witch hunt for the source while at the same time buying influence and protection.Also ensuring that WE would have access to it down the line.I would also recommend getting in touch with the Half breed wolf dude.And I mean we're probably going to want to make sure Ilse gets some. And Hansen.
>>1291135Doesn't matter. We've already established, twice, that we are not going to get involved. Drop it.
>>1291143We literally found multiple references to it while researching as liz, and Scholars were familiar with the tales.The story of Giants Grove? The previous expeditions made to find it?
>>1291155So we're NOT going to give any to Iosefka?
>>1291169And nobody else. Give it a rest, this is the home stretch it's not going to go on for another 20 threads as fugitives on the run.
>>1291175I didn't imply that in the slightest. Of course we are giving her some doses.Anon it's time to stop.
>>1291108So... why, you ask, why hide that?“I believed that you would be happier if you did not know,” Solberg tells you with a shrug, “I am not entirely oblivious – I'm aware that the more I research, the less optimistic this matter becomes. It was my attempt at being... sensitive.”Vas snorts out a muffled laugh at that. You, on the other hand, don't find much to laugh about. So a repeat dose would be needed, you guess, correct? One dose at about middle age, to purge any early build up, with a second dose in later life. Unless...“No,” Solberg cuts you off, “I've found nothing to indicate that the corruption returns at an increased rate. For all extents and purposes, an appropriate dosage of Giant's blood returns the subject to age zero, in terms of accumulated contamination. However, I have noticed that the beneficial aspects of the auspicious bloodlines are unaffected. The implications of this are fascinating. You see-”Right, you interrupt, that's all very interesting but you had a question about those instructions of his. Namely... how do you even use them? These numbers don't really mean much to you.“Oh, I see. Yes, of course,” Solberg trails off, “Well, the most efficient course of action would be to show the document to a practitioner like me – they would be able to calculate an appropriate dosage using these charts and tables. Please understand, a great deal of this knowledge is not intended for the wider public – that you cannot understand is, in part, deliberate.”“Oh, you nobles are always so cunning with those secrets of yours,” Iosefka chuckles, “The numbers seem to check out, Henryk. Body mass, age, a measure of what I assume to be contamination levels... it's all a matter of showing this to someone in the know.”“Most noble families have their own practitioner, someone to administer... treatments. Questions are rarely asked,” Solberg adds, “And some, myself included, offer their services to anyone willing to pay a small fee. Suffice to say, I would be willing to waive that fee in this case.”“You mean, those nobles would be willing to just inject anything into themselves, so long as the family doctor is the one holding the needle?” Camilla asks, incredulously, “With no regard to what it might be, or what the side effects might be?”“If they thought that it would benefit their health?” the nobleman asks in response, “Absolutely.”Whale's blood, you think, and stranger things aside. Before the conversation can move further on, a distant bell chimes from deep within the manor, Solberg's face darkening in response.“I apologise, but my family is calling,” he rises stiffly, still frowning, “Any further discussion will have to wait for another day. I hope that we can talk again, but please...”It's fine, you tell him, you're leaving.[2/3]
>>1291183>>1291196I'm not saying we have to do it as part of the quest or anything. I just want Isofeka or someone else to be able to distribute it.She has a smuggling and information network and is a doctor.Just gotta ask her to try and make sure that it's available enough that society doesn't tear itself apart.Anyways.I did get caught up in that.So does anyone think we'll need to use it for Artemis? If so, given what we know, will whe have to do what the Giants did and cut her apart to take out the infection, then put her back together with the blood? Would it even work if she corrupted the rage giants blood? > What would happen if we mixed it with mazka and gave it to her? > Mixed and drank it ourselves? > I wonder if Revel could sense anything from it or interact with it. These are all bad ideas I feel but could be fun
>>1291260After being thrown out – in a polite way, true, but undeniably thrown out – you roam the noble district for a while longer. Taking the scenic route, you'd call it. Every noble in the district would pay a fortune for what you have, the knowledge and resources that have fallen into your hands – Lize's parents among them. It might be worth giving them a dose of the cure, you think to yourself with a smile, just so Lize doesn't have an excuse to keep hanging around your apartment.Hell, you've got enough of the stuff. Even without Solberg's schemes, you've got ample amounts of it – more than enough to give all of your friends and allies a share. Sparing a little for the Alkaev family wouldn't be much of a loss.Their missing daughter and a few vials of some new miracle cure... that would be one hell of a homecoming. You'll mention it when you get back, you decide, see what Lize thinks of the idea. She really should-“Henryk,” Camilla says quietly, touching your arm to get your attention, “There's a southbound train soon – maybe ten minutes, there's just enough time to catch it if you leave now. What do you think?”>Right. I'd better hurry. Can you take care of things here?>No, I guess it can wait a little more. I still have something to do here...>Other
>>1291260what does the giant's blood do to Red Eye?Does it heal the person, or the parasites?
>>1291301>>Right. I'd better hurry. Can you take care of things here?
>>1291301>Right. I'd better hurry. Can you take care of things here?>Could you explain all this to Lize and give her her own share for her family?
>>1291301>Right. I'd better hurry. Can you take care of things here?Give her enough of the blood to make sure people we care about get it if we don't come back.Maybe ask her to keep an eye out for anyone tailing us, or lay a false trail? Gore made a promise to find out what we were up to and dude has a demon inside of him. Makes me suspicious.
>>1291301>>Right. I'd better hurry. Can you take care of things here?Time to see if we got a friendly neighbor or a new boss.
>Writing the next post now. Might take a little longer this time>>1291304>It would purge the parasites from the blood, provided it was taken soon enough. After an incubation period, it wouldn't be able to help a victim
>>1291304May as well give it a shot, I don't even give a shit anymore.I hope it make the bloody parasite suffer.
>>1291322>a new boss.>Implying if Art has gone completely bad we'd wouldn't fight to the death.
Right, you say with a quick nod, you'd better get a move on. Can she take care of things here, you ask, just to make sure that everything is okay?“I can do that,” Camilla says, giving you a brisk nod, “No problem.”And you'll have to ask for one more favour, you add with a wan smile, can she explain all this to Lize? You'll leave the Giant's blood in her care, you trust her with it.“I'm sure you do,” she agrees, “And you've got my scent. I try anything funny, and you could track me down – I've seen you in action.”Very true, you promise her. Her joke – at least, you think it was a joke – does make you think of something, however. There might be someone else doing a little bit of tracking. Could she follow you to the station, you ask quietly, but at a distance? You want to be sure that nobody follows you, and she's pretty good with this shadowing business. Maybe you're being overly careful, but...“But there's no harm in being careful,” Camilla nods, “Well, it's just a small diversion, but...” Letting her words trail off, she nods in the direction of the station.But you'd better hurry, you agree, time to see what you're dealing with.-With the sounds of the station around you, it's surprisingly easy to clear your mind. Climbing aboard the southbound train, you take a moment to glance out the window and catch Camilla's eye. She nods, offering you a reassuring smile – no trails, no dirty business. Smiling in reply, you wave goodbye and sink down into scuffed leather seat. A few seconds later, and the entire rumbles into life.The southbound trip is one that you mostly sleep away, feeling all the better for it. A dreamless sleep, but that comes as a faint relief. You had worried that you might fall into Nihilo – an abattoir now, rather than a prison – whenever you slept, but this time you felt nothing. No trace of that unreal place. Now that it's no longer needed, perhaps it's simply... ceased to exist. Good riddance, then.Thar Dreyse to Canid, then Canid to Artyom. A brief stop in Artyom to have a doctor look at your gut wound – nothing to worry about, he assured you, healing well enough – before getting in a carriage to the coastline. The driver recognises you, guessing your destination before you've finished saying it.You're getting predictable.-It's not raining when your carriage arrives at the coast, which you're willing to take as a good omen. How long that might last, however, is uncertain – all the more reason to get this done quickly, while your good luck holds. Approaching Yadhos' shack, you fight back a sudden wave of foreboding. With your hand poised over the door, not yet knocking, you picture a slaughterhouse – bodies torn and scattered, just like in Nihilo.[1/?]
Artemis standing in the center of the room, telling the whole family of Henryk's great adventure.
>>1291410I mean. It's been weeks. Since Artyom was still standing I am taking that as a good sign.
>>1291410oh shit, OH SHITis it time to panic yet?
>>1291410fugMoloch you're doing this deliberately
>>1291410o wait didn't read correctly
>>1291410Before you can bring yourself to knock, the door swings open to reveal Yadhos' coarse, lined face. He looks at you for a moment before bursting into a loud, wheezy laugh.“Close your mouth, lad, you'll swallow a bug,” the old man croaks, “Figure I know why you're here, but I've got bad news for you. No fire in the sky, not since you were last here.” His smile fades, and he shakes his head. “Had family watching the coast, never a time when I didn't have eyes on it,” he continues, “No fire in the sky, not once.”Frowning, you take a moment to consider the possibilities. Artemis could have been wrong, she might have woken somewhere completely different – in which case, you have one hell of a search ahead of you. She could have ignored your supplies, running off into the woods and living rough instead – it wouldn't surprise you all that much, considering her. She might, trying to be optimistic, be waiting patiently for you to meet her. Or...Or something could have gone wrong.“Help me with the boat,” Yadhos tells you simply, “I'll get you across.”-Yadhos says nothing as he rows the little boat across the waters, his sights set grimly ahead of him. You're glad for his silence, although it does cast a solemn air across the journey. The sky above, darkening, reveals nothing. The moon, shining brightly, seems strangely knowing. A chill wind cuts across the water, the first few drops of rain splattering across your face. So much for that good omen, you think wearily.When the boat butts up against dry land, Yadhos makes no move to follow you inland. You're not surprised – he never has, not since guiding you to the temple for the very first time. Again, you're glad for the solitude – this feels like something you have to do alone. As you march inland, you touch the Birthing Blade again. Stone cold, but you're still not sure if that means anything. Still, touching the blade is comforting enough as it is. It occurs to you, as you walk, that you're bringing the blade back home – something about that amuses you, and some of your tension bleeds away as you laugh aloud.Upon reaching the temple, you pause for a moment and wait. Listening, looking around, even tasting the air... you focus on whatever might be out there. Nothing, there's nothing here but the faintly dry, dusty scent of birds.But no sounds of wings, you realise, no sounds of anything alive. Even the wind has dropped to nothing, leaving you in total silence.Drawing the Birthing Blade, you slowly enter the temple and cast a slow eye around. The ground is white with fallen feathers, and something crunches under your boot – the small corpse of a white bird, dried out as if it had been dead for decades.[2/3]
>>1291360That's what I was implying though. If she's gone mad, she'd just be another beast to take down. A big beast. The biggest game of all. And then we ascend to Hunter God!
>>1291475Do we have to use the Birthing Blade to well...help birth her?
>>1291475>dried out as if it had been dead for decades.Oh gosh the birds. She killed the birds. Or maybe I was right and she was the birds all along.
>>1291489>they were her corruption manifested
>>1291493Explains why they were so fucking vicious and deadly and the hardest thing in the quest. They were like level capped while we had barely hit the midpoint!
>>1291508Birds are fucking monsters, man.
>>1291475Walking further in, avoiding the countless bodies as best you can, you approach the vast tree at the centre of the temple. As you approach, you pass the bag of supplies you brought – it's untouched, half buried under white feathers. Like never before, the tree bulges and heaves with a flabby growth, the bark splitting apart to reveal fleshy meat. You pulled the Birthing Blade from this tree, not so long ago, and now...And now, instinct takes over. Putting aside logical thought and reason, you take the first idea that comes to mind and run with it. Raising the blade high above your head, you plunge it back down into the tree. The blade sinks in, and you tear it downwards through the bloated tree. It splits open, clear sap pouring out like cloudy water as something solid – something warm, but terribly frail to touch – wilts into your arms. As the liquid pools around your feet, you push back the delicate body.Naked, almost completely colourless and tangled with hair that stretches down past her toes, the woman seems to be something pulled from an entirely different world – not an inaccurate comparison, you realise. The body is not as weightless as you're used to, from your time together in Nihilo, but Artemis still feels like porcelain. When she finally coughs, her entire body shakes with the effort. Laying her down as gently as you can, you brush a sticky clump of hair away from her face.Her eyes, yellow and cat-like, snap open. She blinks, and then her eyes are those of a woman – a shade of blue that borders on colourless. It takes a moment for those eyes to be filled with anything other than confusion, for recognition to blossom there. Opening her mouth – her teeth are sharp, just a little too sharp to pass as perfectly human – she lets out a wordless breath of air.Easy, you warn her, don't try to talk – not yet, at least.Narrowing her eyes, Artemis' chest heaves as she splutters. Still weak from her... birth, she struggles to cough. Then, you realise something – she's not coughing.She's laughing.>Looks like I'm going to have to pause here, it's getting late for me. I'll aim to have this concluded tomorrow, definitely>Thanks to everyone for sticking around today!
>>1291574Nice.Thanks for running Moloch. See you tomorrow.
>>1291574this is gonna be fine right?anyways thanks for running!
>>1291517https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=YE8PTMSFMUgBirds are evil.
>>1291595Of course! She didn't immediately claw our face off so it seems like she chill.>>1291574Thanks for running Moloch, really feeling the end being near.
Sounds like time for a victory hug.
>>1291663And maybe a haircut. Hair length 'past her toes' seems like a bitch to have. It'd drag on the floor.
>>1291663And a victory fuck
>Tfw you missed the last 4 threads because of work but you got to watch Artemis return HUZZAH MOLOCH
Once she was strong enough to stand, Artemis barely wanted to sit still. Laughing aloud, she spent a long while dancing around the temple in a wild and jubilant trance. You weren't quite sure what to do, what to make of it all, and so you just sat and stared, trying to figure out... well, anything. The fact that she was still stark naked at the time made it all that little bit more awkward – you didn't know where to look.Finally, she calmed down and let you brush away the feathers that had clung to her sticky body, wrapping her in a thick robe once she was somewhat clean. Her hair hangs in matted clumps and tangles, but you'll have to sort that later. Just hacking most of it off would be the easiest solution, but...“Hmm?” Artemis grunts, looking around at you and swallowing the mouthful of food she had been chewing, “You're staring again.”She's right, of course. You've been staring at her a lot, trying to process everything that's happened. First she was barely capable of breathing, then she was dancing about like a child, and now she's set on devouring as much food as possible. This is a new world for her, you remind yourself, a world of colour and sensation. Little wonder that she's trying to take in as much of it as possible, even taking an innocent kind of pleasure in the various pains and hardships. When a rough outcrop of stone cut her bare foot open, she had gasped with amazement.“Nihilo wasn't like this,” she tells you, reading your expression, “It felt like... nothing, just barely nothing. Distant, muffled, like... not like this at all!” Gesturing around her, Artemis laughs again.When she had laughed for the first time, your first thought had been dread – a cold certainty that her next move would have been to tear out your throat. You had recoiled, drawing back and readying ourself, but then her weakness – so great that she couldn't even sit up – struck you. After that, your fears first faded to a dull suspicion and then retreated completely. Well, not completely – later, when she tore into some of the dried meat you offered her, a hint of doubt returned.“Fresh would have been better,” she told you, her grin showing sharp teeth, “But this is fine. For now.”For now, she had said.[1/2]
>>1293039Gathering some wood from the surrounding forests, you manage to get a small fire going. It crackles away merrily, with the dancing flames holding Artemis' attention and keeping her transfixed. Wiggling her toes, she warms her feet by the fire and hums tunelessly to herself. The cut on her foot, you notice, is already well on its way to healing up – with no sign of a scar left behind.You'd offered her a pair of shoes – cheap leather sandals, more or less disposable – but she had ignored them. Either the cold doesn't seem to bother her much, or she's savouring it as much as anything else. Well, she might not be nearly so happy about it when frostbite claims a few toes, but it's her choice. For all you know, they might just grow back.Shaking your head slightly, you finish the last of your own meal and wipe your hands on your trousers. You've lingered here long enough, especially considering that Yadhos is waiting for you on the shore. When you stamp out the meagre remains of your fire, Artemis lets out a faint cry of dismay.“Hey!” she protests, “I was enjoying that!” Pouting at the dismal remains of the fire for a moment longer, Artemis eventually looks up and tilts her head at you. “Fine then,” she says, still looking faintly petulant, “What next?”>Come on, this is no place to stick around. We can talk more later>So what do you want to do now?>I visited Nihilo, I saw the beasts. They were all dead, torn to pieces...>What exactly... are you? Human, something like human?>Those birds, what were they?>I've got a lot of questions to ask you... (Write in)>Other
>>1293041>Come on, this is no place to stick around. We can talk more laterGet on the boat and the other side cough where all the guns are cough before going into the details.>I visited Nihilo, I saw the beasts. They were all dead, torn to pieces...>Those birds, what were they?>Time to meet everyone. Maybe throw a party or something.>So, you think you can pass off as human?>what happens if you drink mazca?
>>1293041>>I visited Nihilo, I saw the beasts. They were all dead, torn to pieces...>Those birds, what were they?>I've got a lot of questions to ask you... (Write in)Your memory? is it clearer now?
>>1293041>So what do you want to do now?"I was thinking we head up to Artyom. Let you see a human town with your own eyes. I also got to send a message back up north to check in with everyone.">What exactly... are you? Human, something like human?>Those birds, what were they?>You did a number on the beasts in Nihilo Artemis. Part of the process?
>>1293041>I visited Nihilo, I saw the beasts. They were all dead, torn to pieces...>Those birds, what were they?>I've got a lot of questions to ask you... (Write in)What happened exactly after the noble beast was killed and popped up in Nihilo?Then >So what do you want to do now?
>>1293041>>Come on, this is no place to stick around. We can talk more later>>So what do you want to do now?Mad regen and a child like curiosity to experience the world. This seems dangerous.
>>1293048That's why she needs a mentor and guide, which is us.>>1293041Also>Other"That dried meat doesn't hold a candle to meat cooked by a professional. You might even like that more than fresh. Maybe."
>>1293050Or play the the Parasite angle, she hated it with a passion. Eating fresh, raw meat is a sure way to invite a few of them.
>>1293052Hated the guy itself, not parasites in general.
>>1293052Like >>1293053 said she just really hated Furtive.
This is no place to stick around, you tell her, you'll both be more comfortable once you're back in civilisation. It'll be her first real taste of it, you add after a moment of thought, so it might be best to take things slowly. Still, there's plenty you wanted to talk with her about – it'll give you something to do as you walk.“Well, okay,” stretching, Artemis rises to her feet, “Civilisation... I wondered if I'd ever get the chance to be a part of it. To see it like you do. At times, you know, I had my doubts.”Doubts or no, she's finally got her chance. What does she want to do first, you ask, anything in particular? Like you said, you were thinking of heading to the nearest real town – a place called Artyom. It's reasonably quiet, as towns go, so it'll make for an easy introduction. She can see the place with her own eyes, and you can take care of a few things. You'd like to send a message north, for one thing, just to check in with your friends.“That sounds nice. I'd like to travel a lot, to see all kinds of thing, and this sounds like a good place to start. Artyom...” Artemis nods, rolling the name around in her mouth, “Artyom – it sounds like a good place to start, that's what my instincts are telling me.”There is... one concern you had, you admit, one thing you needed to ask her. It might be a mistake to draw too much attention right away, you explain, so you were wondering – can she pass herself off as a human? Just a normal, regular person, nothing special.“You mean, can I avoid biting someone's throat out?” she asks in return, giving you a wide-eyed look of sincerity, “I think so, Henryk. I think I can handle that.”Well, there was another reason you had for asking – her eyes, for a moment, were unnatural. Her teeth, as well, aren't quite human... although perhaps that shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. With no way of politely wording your next question, you settle for the plainest option. What exactly is she now, you ask simply, human or something like human?“My eyes? Oh...” Artemis closes them tightly for a moment, concentrating hard. When she opens them again, there is no difference – they're still the same pale blue, still human enough. “I feel different,” she admits, “Different to how I once was, way back... then. Am I human? No, I don't think I am – but I think I'm getting closer. It's going to take a little time for me to, ah, settle in to this new form.” She frowns suddenly, her brow furrowing. “I'm not making much sense,” she asks, “Am I?”About as much sense as you'd been expecting, you admit.[1/2]
>>1293076When you leave the temple, Artemis lets out a little gasp of wonder, gazing up through the canopy of trees at the sky. You have to clear your throat to catch her attention again, reminding her to follow close. As she hurries to catch up with you, she points to one of the larger trees around – an ancient thing with a gnarled trunk.“Hey,” she asks with a wicked smile, “Why don't we-”Nope, you interrupt, no climbing trees. Not yet, at least – the fewer distractions you have right now, the better.“Spoilsport,” Artemis sticks her tongue out at you, flashing her pointed teeth. Definitely better that she keeps her mouth shut, especially in polite company – just like Lize, in other words, but for different reasons.Anyway, you say quickly to change the subject, she mentioned feeling different to how she once was. Does that mean her memory is any better, you ask, any clearer?“It's... odd. Yes and no,” scratching at her matted hair, Artemis frowns again, “I don't really remember many details about the beginning, because... I don't really think I had a mind, then. Not like you do, more like a beast's mind. Instinct, sensation, that sort of thing... those, I remember pretty well. I remember what it was like, being me. Those countless long years in Nihilo, as well, they're all starting to fade now. I'm glad about that, I really am.”You can understand that. You're not sure if you'd like to have so many memories churning within your mind – lifetimes of anger and frustration, repeated failures stacked atop one another... you'd be happier to forget them. Her mention of Nihilo, though, it brings you back to a less welcome subject. It's something you need to ask, and no mistake, but there's no easy way to do it. Once again, you choose the direct choice. You visited Nihilo once, you tell her, and you saw the beasts there. They were all dead, all torn to pieces...“Yes?” Artemis meets your eye, tilting her head to the side and giving you a curious look, “And?”Well, you pause for a moment, she really did a number on them. Part of the process, you ask, a necessary stage?“I don't know, maybe,” again, she frowns in deep thought, “It's hard to be certain.”When she offers no further explanation, you try a different approach. What happened, you press, after the noble beast appeared in Nihilo?“The usual, really. He picked a corner to sulk in, and I left him alone – I didn't want to look at his ugly face, it would spoil my good mood. The moment he appeared, I was expecting... well, I don't know exactly. A big door to appear, maybe, or for the sky to crack open. One way or another, I thought that I would leave,” she shakes her head, “But I didn't. It was frustrating, to say the least, so...”So?“So I killed them,” Artemis shrugs, “I killed them all.”[2/3]
>>1293087>“I killed them all.Arty please, this is scary. I was half expecting the big door too though, so I'm with her on that.
>>1293087>Definitely better that she keeps her mouth shut, especially in polite company – just like Lize, in other words, but for different reasons.kek
>>1293105Why would you expect that when almost everything we do is fuelled by death. We kill things which then gives Artemis more power, which she then gives to us to kill stronger beasts, if this didn't end in a slaughter I'd have been surprised
>>1293118I am not a clever man anon.
>>1293087And killing them all was the key, the last step. The reason she had been saving her strength. When the last of them was dead, she had fainted and fallen into a deep sleep – dreaming, of course, of the dwindling sound of birds. Their failing songs, and the vanishing sounds of their wings, had almost seemed like a countdown. Not long after silence had fallen, she had heard your footsteps.Considering this, you lead her the last of the way to the coastline. Another fire is there to greet you, with stoic Yadhos squatted down beside it. He looks around at you, not much surprise on his distant face. Before you move to meet him, one last question occurs to you. Those birds were certainly nothing natural, you muse, but what were they?“They were both my jailers, and my guardians,” Artemis offers after a pause, “Perhaps they were to keep me within that place, until... I was ready to leave it. When their purpose was finished, they just... died. They died, and I was given life.”A solemn pause follows this, an uneasy silence that you're not sure how to break. In the end, you seize the first thought that comes to mind. Well, you suggest, it's about time for her to meet another new face. The first of many, probably – in time, you'll introduce her to all of your friends. Maybe have a party, you add with a smile, with good food and drink. That dried meat she had was nothing compared with fresh, well cooked stuff.“Ooh,” her eyes widening in amazement, Artemis clings to your arm, “I can't wait!”-Yadhos doesn't ask a single question, simply taking in Artemis – bedraggled, filthy and wearing only a thick robe – and then instructing you to help him with the boat. After he kicks dirt over the remains of his fire, you're ready to leave the temple behind you. From the rear of the boat, Artemis watches as the island draws further away with every stroke of the oars. It's not a fond look, but neither is it a particularly unhappy one. The look someone might give their prison cell, you think, after seeing it from the outside for the very first time.As the boat pulls through the sluggish waters, you consider your next move. Judging by the darkening sky, you'll be best off staying the night in Artyom – especially once you've trekked back to town from the coastline. As you told her before, it'll be a good thing for Artemis, a good introduction to modern League society. Artyom... well, it's always been a little wilder than the rest.Probably why Hunters like you are drawn to it.>Need to pause here for a little and deal with some family matters. I'll get the next post ready as soon as possible. Sorry for any delays
>>1293155Yadhos doesn't give a single fuck.
>>1293155At Yadhos' insistence, you stay a while in his sprawling hovel and warm yourselves up. He offers bowls of fish stew, and roughly spun clothes for Artemis. Crude things, but warm and hard-wearing. She dresses without complaint, but also without much in the way of understanding. The stew, she greets with far greater enthusiasm. As she gobbles down the hot food, you notice many eyes – numerous members of Yadhos' extensive clan – watching with curiosity. They seem to regard her as an oddity, but not a threat.Would that change, you wonder, if they knew what she really was? It's not an easy question for you to answer, especially when you're not even sure what she really is either.-You stay long enough for Artemis to have two more bowls of the hearty stew, but then you finally manage to pry her away. You've got to be making tracks, you can't sit around here all day. As you're leaving, though, Yadhos catches your sleeve.“Careful on the road,” he warns you, gesturing to one of his relatives, “My boy, he says there's something stirring in the woods. Might be a beast, might be hungry – you'd be best to hurry, if you're set on leaving. Hurry, and keep an eye out. Got something to protect yourself, do you?”Brushing aside your coat, you give the man a glimpse of your weapons. Nodding with satisfaction, Yadhos lets go of your arm and steps back, gesturing towards the door.“Come back when you like, stranger,” the old man tells you, “And you're welcome to bring the lady – never much of a hardship to have another mouth to feed.”-Keeping Yadhos' warning in mind, you keep quiet as you're walking through the forest. Every bush that rustles or branch that snaps, you pause and check for any signs of trouble. You wouldn't normally be so cautious, but you're not sure if Artemis is in any condition to fight. Her steps are lagging, and she yawns often. Looking back, you might have been safer staying the night with Yadhos, but you're over halfway back to Artyom now. Turning back would just be making the problem worse.So you press ahead, marching along the path until a low growl reaches you. The undergrowth parts to reveal the low, crouched form of a wolf-like beast, pawing forwards on its strangely human paws and slavering at the sight of fresh prey. Drawing your pistol and the Birthing Blade, you step forwards and prepare to-“Wait,” Artemis declares, putting a hand on your shoulder, “I can... let me do this.”Not taking your eyes from the prowling beast, you hesitate a moment. Her voice is firm, certain despite the undercurrent of weariness.>Keep Artemis back, fight the beast yourself>Step aside, allow her to handle this>Other
>>1293208>>Step aside, allow her to handle thisOh fuck. Time to see what kinda mess she'll make then.
>>1293208>Step aside, allow her to handle this>Keep the gun ready. It's not certain that she really knows the limits of her new body
>>1293208Work together with her to take it down
>>1293208>>Step aside, allow her to handle this>Hand her the knife? Dunno if she needs it.
>>1293208>Step aside, allow her to handle this
>>1293208>Step aside, allow her to handle this>Need a weapon?
Although you don't lower your pistol, you step aside and give Artemis a nod. Need any help, you ask, what about a blade?“I don't need a knife,” she replies simply, giving a tiny shake of her head – her eyes never leaving the beast. As she steps forwards, the beast almost seems to hesitate, another low growl slipping from its throat. It draws back a little, as if preparing to lunge, and then it pauses. Artemis meets its gaze, staring it down, and it freezes in place. Flexing her fingers like a pianist warning up, she takes a step closer.A half-forgotten memory surfaces then, of a northern witch drawing a beast in and placating it. This situation feels almost identical, but stripped of all ceremony and excess. No maddening drums, no straw dolls – just Artemis, staring down a beast as she approaches it. A soft whimper escapes the wolf as she reaches out, brushing a hand across its muzzle. When it doesn't pull away or snap at her fingers, she takes one last step forwards and holds the beast's head in both hands.When she twists, the sound of breaking bone seems shockingly loud. Instantly lifeless, the beast's body slithers to the ground. Artemis slowly nods, but then all the strength seems to leave her body. She wilts, and you're quick to catch her.“Sorry,” she breathes, her eyes closed and her voice faint, “That was... it took a lot out of me.”There's not much you can say to that. Simply shrugging, lost for words, you help her back to her feet, ready to catch her again if her strength fails once more. Artemis opens her eyes, blinking rapidly – once, you're sure that you catch a fleeting glimpse of yellow animal eyes – before looking at the body.“Hey,” she begins, “Do you think-”No, you interrupt, not for eating.Artemis pouts.-It's a good thing that she's so light, because you end up having to carry her the rest of the way to Artyom. You get the sense that she could have found the strength to walk after a while, but she just enjoys being carried on your back. You humour her, but only because it's not much of a hardship. The feeling of her body pressed against yours, even with several layers of clothing in the way, well... it's nothing to complain about.Upon arriving in Artyom, though, you set her down and leave her to walk on your own – you'll attract less attention this way. Night has fallen, and a cold wind stirs the air. Your next stop is obvious – you need somewhere to stay the night, ideally somewhere discrete. You know just the place.[1/2]
>>1293255>No, you interrupt, not for eating.I mean if we could cook it...I wonder if eating werewolf-like beast meat is bad for you.Oh man I just realized. Henryk is going to have to teach Artemis how to use utensils for eating.And we thought fighting the 12 beasts was tough.
>>1293275>Teaching manners to someone who doesn't understand why it's not OK to snap the neck or tear the throat out of someone who is bothering youHeavens above...
>>1293255It seems that the Broken Window is no more popular now than before, with hardly any customers drinking away their coin. The few patrons that are have made their second homes here are not the sort to pay you much attention, concentrating on their drinks with the intense focus of Scholars at their research. A few moments after you arrive at the bar, the owner is there to meet you.“Hanson,” Ilse says, glancing between you and Artemis with a crooked smile, “Interesting company you're keeping these days. Just here for a drink and a place to spend the night, or should I be expecting trouble to follow you in?”No trouble, you assure her, for once. A drink might be nice, and you'll definitely be wanting to stay the night, but there was something else you wanted to ask of her – a little favour, perhaps. Slowly, picking your words with care, you explain what you needed from Ilse. When you're finished, she laughs aloud.“So let me get this straight,” she replies, “You're asking me to bathe your lady friend here, clean her up and just generally make her presentable... that about right?”It's not too much of an onerous task, you ask, is it?“Huh,” fighting back a smile, Ilse purses her lips, “Well, I suppose I can help you just this once...”-Thoroughly washed, and with her hair cut to a more sensible length, Artemis looks more civilised than ever. While that was being taken care of, you'd taken the chance to send a message back to the capital – a simple note, deliberately vague but conveying good news. That should be enough for now, and you've grown cautious about what you send these days – privacy is no longer a guarantee, after all.Either way, privacy or no privacy, you'd rather explain the details in person anyway – it'll be easier that way, you sense, although that might not mean much. When you're not certain on many of them, and neither is Artemis, there's only so much explaining that you can actually do.Ilse doesn't ask many questions, about anything, but you suspect that she has an entirely different reason than Yadhos did for staying silent. The old fisherman simply accepted things at face value, knowing that asking questions would have been pointless. Ilse, you suspect, is happy to arrive at her own conclusions – probably the dirtiest ones imaginable – and stick with those. You're not entirely comfortable about that, especially considering what sort of ideas might be churning within her mind, but she did give you a wink that promised discretion.It's not much, but you'll take whatever you can get. When the time comes to leave Artyom, you make sure that Ilse has your address. Later, when the situation has settled, you'll talk to her about the cure.But now, the capital awaits.[2/3]
>>1293319Upon seeing a train for the first time, Artemis' reaction is not so much fear as deep suspicion, as if the entire thing was built just to make a fool out of her. It took you so much time to convince her to give it a shot that the train nearly left without you. Her complaining continued for a while longer, until she settled down into her seat and immediately fell asleep. Shaking your head in bemusement, you sat back and let the journey pass you by.The train had provoked deep suspicion in Artemis, but the capital itself – a bloated monster of a city – is what finally strikes her numb with fear. Like a beast flinching back from a greater threat, she slips behind you and clings tightly to your arm. Her eyes flash and flicker back and forth, trying – and failing – to track the countless people around her. Crowds draw her ire, and more than once you hear her growling softly to herself.You can't help but sympathise. Returning to the capital after spending a long time in the wilderness can be jarring, and you live here. For her, a being that has never known civilisation, the capital is overwhelming. Putting a reassuring arm around her shoulders, you hasten your step and lead her to your tenement block. It might not be much better, but anything would be an improvement over the bustling streets.-“Got a new woman on the go, have you?” Anders grunts as you enter, giving Artemis a sly look, “Never thought a dog like you would be so popular. Far as I know, your other one is still upstairs – must be a nice conversation you're going to have!”At your side, Artemis stiffens. Her lips part in a snarl, and you sense a wave of murderous anger rolling off her. All the stress of the city boils up within her, rage and frustration finally finding a suitable target. Even Anders can sense the sudden change in mood, for he pales and falls silent. Before the situation can reach crisis point, you find your tongue and speak up.Anders, you say quietly, go away.“Hrn,” the landlord grunts, taking a shuffling step backwards. Recovering quickly, he gives you a dark look. “Rent is going up at the end of the month,” he tells you, “Don't forget that, Hunter.” With that, he turns and shuffles away into his office, closing and locking the door behind him.“I don't like HIM very much,” Artemis mutters to herself.Nobody does, you agree.-When Artemis and Camilla come face to face for the first time, you sense a powerful – but ultimately silent – struggle taking place. The pair eye each other up for a long time, both of the studying their opposite number for any show of weakness or hesitation. When they look away from each other, their conflict apparently over, you couldn't even guess who won and who lost.You're just glad that they didn't drag you into it.[3/4]
>>1293429So many sparks flying. Surprised she's managed to keep things in order this whole time.
>>1293429now time for the meeting of best girl and second best girl, a meeting of ages, the cumulation of all our hard work. happening at last
>>1293464they're going to wrestle and break all the furniture and anders will bill henryk for disturbing the neighbours and making him jealous. it's a hard life.
>>1293464But Camilla and Lize have met already
>>1293429“So,” Camilla begins, “Henryk says that you haven't killed anyone yet. That's a good start, isn't it?”If Artemis takes the remark as an insult, she doesn't show it. She just laughs modestly, giving you a faintly sly look. You decide against mentioning how close that came to changing on the way here. Clearing your throat – and immediately regretting it when both sharp pairs of eyes settle upon you – you ask after Lize. Where is she, you ask, next door with Alyssia?“Ah, well, yes. We sat down and had a little talk, her and I. I explained the situation with the cure, and then I, well, I suggested that her parents might benefit from it – and from seeing her again,” Camilla offers you a wan smile, “I thought she was best off knowing.”Right, you reply with growing dismay, and what happened?“Well, she mumbled a bunch of things and then ran off to your friend's bar,” Camilla pauses, “Which was taking things rather well, by my estimation. You should probably go and see if she's okay. I don't mind looking after... your new friend. I'm sure that we have a lot to talk about.”That... might not be such a good idea, you suggest, maybe you should bring Alyssia around to act as a neutral party. Alyssia Hemwick, you tell Artemis, she knows who that is doesn't she?“Sure, I know her well enough,” Artemis agrees with a nod, “The witch.”“Witch?” Camilla asks sharply.Your sense of dismay continues to grow.-Amazingly, things do settle down a little once Alyssia is in the room, defusing conflicts with the offer of tea and baked goods. Artemis takes to cake just as well as she took to cooked meat, while Camilla is too busy sighing with exasperation to cause any trouble. Overall, miraculously, the group is dysfunctional enough to balance out. When you leave them, you're reasonably confident that you won't come back to a bloodbath.It's strange being alone, you muse as you hurry over to the Medicine. Once, it would have been strange to be anything other than alone, but things have changed a lot over the past weeks and months. Lize, you think as you enter the Medicine, was one of the very first changes.She sits at the bar, peering forlornly down into a glass of water. Iosefka nods to you, then retreats to a discrete distance. Sitting beside Lize, you ask the obvious question – what's the problem?“You mean, other than me being a gutless coward?” Lize asks, “Man, I just... going home, facing things after so long. It's kind of a big deal, you know?”Pretty much the biggest deal there is, you agree mildly, but that means it's important.“I guess, yeah,” frowning, Lize dips a finger into her water and stirs it, “But... I don't even know where to start.”>Why don't we go together? A bit of moral support might help>You're braver than you think. You can face them>I can bring them the cure. I don't even have to mention your name>Other
>>1293480>Why don't we go together? A bit of moral support might help... and the finder's fee is nothing to scoff at.
>>1293480>Why don't we go together? A bit of moral support might helpNo mention of the finder's fee though. They will find out Lize lived with us all this time.
>>1293480>Why don't we go together? A bit of moral support might helpBut>>You're braver than you think. You can face them"I wonder what they'll think. Their daughter disappears and then comes back wielding Tsorig's blade and with a miracle cure."
>>1293480>>Why don't we go together? A bit of moral support might help“Witch?” Camilla asks sharply.
>>1293487I think that's going to come out regardless.That said we shouldn't ask for a finder's fee and instead be honest about what happened.
>>1293494>I think that's going to come out regardless.That's what I'm talking about. Demanding finder's fee when she lived with us for how long again? is just wrong.
Guys, I wrote that as a little joke to ease the tension a little. I didn't intend for us to shove Lize in their face and demand money.
She's braver than she thinks, you tell Lize quietly, she could face them. That said, a little moral support might help – why don't you come with her?“Yeah?” Lize looks around, her eyes lighting up, “You really mean that?”Sure, you tell her with feigned casualness, how else would you collect your reward?Your words cause Lize's eyes to widen, before narrowing to suspicious slits and then, finally, softening as she laughs. “Oh, funny!” she snorts, reaching across to punch you on the shoulder, “You're a real joker, you. Man, you're the worst...”But it helped to cheer her up, you point out, didn't it?“Yeah, well, I guess!” still smirking a little, Lize throws up her hands, “Okay, okay. Let's get this show on the road before I lose my nerve. We've gotta head back to the apartment, right? I mean, the instructions and junk are there, so...”Right, you agree, that's your first stop. It'll give you a chance to check up on your guest as well, you add, and for Lize to meet her.“Guest?” Lize asks, before realisation dawns, “Oh wow, this is gonna be...”She never does finish that sentence. You don't blame her – you're not sure what you'd call it, either.-Your tenement block isn't on fire when you return, which is a good sign, and you don't hear raised voices when you pause outside your apartment. Bracing yourself for the worst, you open the door and step inside. What awaits you is... a scene of relative calm. Nothing that could ever be mistaken for a normal domestic scene – the ashtray on the table is overflowing, Artemis sits as though she's never seen a chair before, and Alyssia is doggedly pretending to be calm – but there's no overt conflict.Really, that's enough for you.“Don't worry,” Alyssia calls over, turning around, “Everything is fine here. We're getting on perfectly well.”Good, you begin, that's-“We're talking about you, that's all,” Camilla adds, offering a cool smile, “Comparing notes, you might say.”Your dismay, which had just started to fade, returns in full force. You'll be leaving soon enough, you sigh, you just stopped off to pick up a few things and then you'll be away again. They can go back to... comparing notes.“Can I stay a while?” Lize asks, a bright grin on her face, “I kinda want to hear this!”-You stay just long enough for Lize and Artemis to get acquainted. In almost the complete opposite to Camilla, Lize and Artemis accept each other at a glance, with curiosity being the dominant reaction. They're quite similar, you consider, in that they both lack common sense or any general decency. Little wonder that they get along well. After she tries to procrastinate for a while longer, you practically drag Lize from the apartment.She's not backing out of this now. Not on your watch.[1/2]
>>1293576At some point along your journey to the noble district, Lize pulled her hood down low and a scarf high over her mouth. Preparing herself, you think with a faint smile, for the dramatic reveal. She's probably rehearsing her lines now, even as you lead her through the streets of the capital. When the time comes, you're certain, her efforts will be for nothing – she'll blurt out something foolish, just like she always does.Frankly, you'd be disappointed if she did anything else.-Standing at the door of Alkaev manor, you pause. You wait for Lize to knock, while Lize waits for you to knock. The moment draws out for a moment longer before Lize sighs and takes the plunge. Having rapped her knuckles against the door, she turns and looks you in the eye.“I'm thinking that honesty is the best policy here,” she begins, the scarf muffling her voice, “You know, I figure my folks would try and work things out on their own. We tell the truth here and now, it's going to save us a lot of trouble in the long run. Just... let me explain things. It'll sound better coming from me, okay? I've been thinking of a good way to set things out.”Rehearsing her story, you guess, right?“Yeah, I mean, no!” a frown furrows Lize's brow, “Jerk. I never should have agreed to bring you along... but I'm damn glad that you're here.”Before you can answer that, the door swings open to reveal an impassive servant. You're here to speak with the family physician, you tell him, about a matter concerning the Alkaev family health. Words that Lize had briefed you on, an informal code of sorts. They get the desired reaction, with the servant hastening you inside and showing you through to a discrete side room. Promising that the doctor will be arriving soon, he bows and retreats.“We'll start with the doc, tell him about this medicine business, then move onto my folks,” Lize tells you in a low voice, “Trust me, it's gonna work out okay. Wait, crap, do we mention that it's Giant's blood? Shouldn't we have some fancy name for it or something, wouldn't nobles expect something with a fancy name?”Why is she asking you, you counter, wouldn't she know more about what nobles would expect?“Hell, you're right. Uh, let me think... assuming it's the same guy, the family doc always had a weird sorta thing for the south. We tell him that it's a secret southern medicine, he'd eagerly believe it,” Lize nods repeatedly, trying to convince herself as much as anyone else, “It'll work, it's all gonna work out okay.”Calm down, you murmur to her, she's getting worked up.“Oh sure, I wonder why that might be!” she whines, “Man, this waiting is killing me...”[2/3]
>>1293576>Lize and Artemis accept each other at a glance,Huh, maybe best girls get along. That note comparing is something to worry about indeed. Also I was really curious as to how Ayssia reacted to meeting Artemis since I was thinking it'd be like meeting some legendary figure for her, or something along those lines.
>>1293669You're starting to think that these noble blood specialists have a tendency towards silence – all the better to keep their secrets. Certainly, Demyan Alkaev is no more talkative than Solberg – he listens, in a perfect silence, as you explain what you've brought for him. A new medicine, one that might just ease the master and mistress of the house of their ailments. Lize, who is yet to lower her hood or scarf, sits in an equal silence.It's strange being the only one to talk, so it comes as a great relief when Demyan breaks his silence.“I see,” he says, his effeminate voice seeming strange from such a portly frame, “May I take a look at this medicine? And these instructions?” This time, you're the one to remain silent as you hand the materials over, waiting as he examines them. “Very good,” Demyan decides, “I will do some preliminary tests. They may take some time – do you wish to speak personally with the mistress of the house?”You exchange a brief look with Lize, who slowly nods. You give Demyan a firmer nod, which he mirrors. Everyone's nodding – how charming, how agreeable. Perhaps sensing the awkward air, Demyan stands and gestures for you to follow him. He shows you through to a different discrete side room, where someone is waiting for you. With her carefully concealed bulk seated on a low couch, Morgana Alkaev awaits you.“Greetings,” she says, bowing her head, before glancing at you, “I have been informed of your reasons here. You, I remember, but not your colleague. Who, might I ask, am I speaking with?”“Uh,” Lize flounders, fumbling exactly as you thought she might. Pulling down her scarf and her hood, she forces herself to meet Morgana's eye. “It's me, mother,” she adds, clearing her throat, “Uh... I'm back.”-What follows begins as one of the most cripplingly awkward moments of your entire life. Faltering and stumbling, having to pause for thought after every few words, Lize explains her recent life. She omits huge amounts – more, in truth, than she mentions – but it still takes a long time to get the words out. Whenever she falls silent, you glance over to her with a question in your eyes, but she always shakes her head. This is her fight, not yours.You will admit, her delivery gets better with time, and it's well thought out. She never mentions anything that might get you in trouble or paint you in a harsh light, and Artemis is never mentioned – not once. Not exactly as honest as she suggested earlier, but the Ministry's finest agent wouldn't be able to find a lie. Camilla has told you often enough – omission is the easiest way to get away with something.“I wonder, sir, would you give us a moment alone?” Morgana asks you, her voice strangely flat and lifeless, “Unless you wished to add something?”>No, I'll leave you be>I wanted to say something... (Write in)>Other
>>1293756>>No, I'll leave you be
>>1293756>No, I'll leave you be
>>1293756>>No, I'll leave you be>flat and lifelessWorry. So much worry.
>>1293756Maybe say a token apology for deceiving her at least.
>>1293773so, so much worry>>1293756>No, I'll leave you be>don't go too far, though. Keep Henryk relatively alert.
>>1293756By doing right by Liz we did wrong by the family. The decision was right at the time and has been affirmed many times and we stand by it.
>>1293782Hang around the block and use a focus point?
>>1293801I meant more like "sit outside the room with a cup of tea"
For what it's worth, you tell Morgana quietly, you regret deceiving her. It was not done out of any intent to harm. However, it may be true that you have harmed the family regardless – for that, you apologise. Now that you've said that, you add, you'll leave them be. It's only natural that they might need a moment alone. You'll be outside, getting some fresh air. It's exactly what you need right now – the air has never felt so stuffy and stagnant.“Thank you, sir,” Morgana bows her head again, touching a silk handkerchief to her brow for a moment, “You will be sent for, when the time comes.”“So don't, uh, wander off,” Lize says with a weak smile, her comment drawing a sharp look from her mother. Wincing, Lize looks down and stares at her feet. For a moment, you almost say something despite yourself, but then you slip out. Anything else, you sense, would just make the situation worse. Swallowing back a wave of unease, you walk the corridors of the Alkaev manor and step outside into the cold air.Artemis is here, waiting for you.-What, you murmur, how did she...“I followed you here. Your scent,” Artemis explains, “I do so love that smell.”It's not that, you continue, how did she get through the checkpoints? She doesn't have any papers, the guards would have-“Oh, them. Yes, they turned me away,” she shrugs lightly, “I just hopped over the wall. What's the point of stopping people, if they can just climb over like that?”You glance across to the formidable wall, that old symbol of safety and security. She's talking as if it was a low fence , something easily stepped over. Grimacing slightly, you look up and down the streets. No sign of any angry guards or search parties, which is a good sign. Putting everything else aside for now, you tell Artemis, why is she here? Why did she have to follow you here, rather than wait until you came back?“I was in a hurry,” Artemis tells you, a note of urgency creeping into her hushed voice as she steps closer to you, “And I wanted to speak with you alone. It's... important. You remember what I told you, don't you? I'm changing, still in the process of becoming something else. If I don't do this now, I might never get the chance.”This is about her offer, you ask, isn't it? She promised you one last gift, a prize for the service you've given her... this is it, isn't it?“Yes it is,” nodding solemnly, Artemis meets your eye, “And I might never get another chance to give it to you. Even a day more might be too much.”Well then, you murmur, she'd better tell you all about it.[1/2]
F5 F5 F5
Shits fucked lads
>>1293890Is it? Should I be worried? I'm more worried for Lize than this Arty thing.
>>1293823>I'm changing, still in the process of becoming something else.Into what though? Human? Mortal?
>>1293894Arty went too well initially; ergo, both lize and arty must be in for some bad voodoo
>>1293823It takes Artemis a long time to find the right words. She rubs her hands slowly together, pressing her palms tightly together for a while before parting them. As she holds her hands up, palms raised to the sky, you glance down at them. Smooth skin, pale and almost completely free from lines or creases.“Two choices,” she begins, “Just like before, when we started all this. I can see a beast within you, as clear as day, and I can offer you two choices. The first... I can tear it out.”Tear it out, you repeat quietly.“That's right. You would be a Wolf no longer,” Artemis closes her eyes, “You could live as a man, peaceful and civilised, never needing to hunt again. Live a long life, Henryk, settle down. What I can offer you, few men of your position could hope for. It would be... admirable. A good way for a man to live. After everything that you've done, don't you deserve a quiet life?”Maybe so, you think aloud, but what about the other choice?“Transcend the hunt,” she continues, “I can lift the beast up, but shackle it to your will. A true balance of man and beast, the perfect Hunter... that is what I can offer you. No corruption, no deterioration – absolute control over your instincts and abilities. This path you've walked with me, this violent life... you might never be able to escape it. But then, do you really want to?”She's forgetting something, you point out, the third option – there's always a third option. You could just walk away, remain as you are and live the live you've been given. With the Giant's blood, you won't be walking into an early grave.“Yes, I suppose that's correct,” Artemis tilts her head to the side, “A future that you've won with your own efforts. A prize of your own. I can't deny you that much, can I?”What about her, you ask, what would-“No,” cutting you off, Artemis shakes her head sharply, “This is not about me, this is your decision to make. I cannot – will not – force your hand. You decide how this road ends, Henryk. There are no traps, no tricks... but you have to decide this.”Silence. Solemn and heavy. Somehow, you knew that this day, this moment, would come. You just didn't know it would be this soon.>Tear it out. I'm done with Hunting, let me rest instead>Transcend the hunt. I will master this power, no matter what>I choose to walk away. This is my life now, I won't change it>I'll leave this vote open for twenty minutes. Thank you for your cooperationFull disclosure. This is more or less the final decision of the quest. There are no trick options, no punishments.
>>1293927>Transcend the huntWe Gehrman now
>>1293927>>Transcend the hunt. I will master this power, no matter whatI wonder if she can do the same to the other blood types.
>>1293927>>I choose to walk away. This is my life now, I won't change itOh fuck. Gosh this feels weighty. And it even feels kinda shitty to not go for one of her choices and just walk away but it definitely feels like the most suitable choice. But fuck me if Transcend isn't tempting as fuck. I might switch over to that If I change my mind. Gonna think hard on it.
>>1293927>Transcend the hunt. I will master this power, no matter whatHANSON KNOWS NO OTHER LIFE
>>1293927>>Transcend the hunt. I will master this power, no matter whatI really want to give up the blood but I also want to travel with Artemis... Being powerless is a pointless death sentence. Also, with all the benefits at will and no drawbacks its perfectly possible to be a family man anyway.
>>1293927>>Transcend the hunt. I will master this power, no matter what
>>1293927>Transcend the hunt. I will master this power, no matter what
Fugg. Bouncing between transcending or just walking away.Transcending is cool, being something new compared to the rest of the world, but will we be compelled to hunt forever? That said there are no tricks or punishments.Fuck it>Transcend the hunt. I will master this power, no matter what
>>1293927>Transcend the hunt. I will master this power, no matter whatYeah, I guess there isn't much point in staying like this. Might as well move forward and become the perfect hunter.
>>1293927>Transcend the hunt. I will master this power, no matter whatMAN CANNOT REMAKE HIMSELF WITHOUT SUFFERING, FOR HE IS BOTH SCULPTOR AND CLAY
>>1293960Er, marble. Whatever.
If we don't transcend then the ensuing fight when Lize's dad hulks out won't be easy to escape without losing an eye
>>1293972DON'T JINX IT NOW ASSHOLE
>>1293927>Transcend the hunt.
>Well, I think we have a consensus. Closing the vote now, and writing the next post. Thank you, everyone, for your patience and understanding!
>>1293927>Transcend the hunt. I will master this power, no matter whatWas there really any other option? Everything we do is hunting, what would we even do with ourselves as a mere mortal man
>>1293994>inb4 we become the first werewolf
>>1293927>I choose to walk away. This is my life now, I won't change it
>>1294007>thinking this small
>>1294055well, i gotta sleep now and i probably won't be able to say this before you end, so i want to thank you in advance for this amazing quest. have a good night!
The words feel heavy in your mouth, like a lead weight of a mass of ancient, dry stone. For your path to have led you this far, only one choice feels “real” to you – the others are phony, like crude duplicates compared with the truth. When all this started, it started with a wish for power. Why should it end any differently?You wish to transcend the hunt, you whisper, to master this power of yours no matter what. That's your answer – there isn't a shred of doubt left in your mind. You'll become something more, something greater than any Hunter has even been.Artemis smiles, showing every one of her sharp, jagged teeth. Reaching out, she takes your hands in a tight grip, like a bride meeting her groom for the very first time. Stepping close, lifting herself up onto her toes, she presses a kiss to one of your cheeks. Like fire and acid, her lips burn, and your blood burns with their contact. A terrible pounding, a mad drumbeat, sounds, and you realise that it is your heart. It pounds within your chest, and for a moment... you feel as if death is near.“Master it, Henryk,” Artemis whispers, her voice cutting though the haze, “Nothing that is worthwhile is done without suffering. It will not hurt for long.”That burning pain continues to spread through your body, carried to the very tips of your fingers upon a changing tide of blood. Noise, scents, colours... a wave of sensation hammers down upon you as your mind is stretched open wide. Even in your greatest moments, your senses have never been so alert, so keen. Your whole body hums with power and vitality, pushing boundaries further than you thought possible. It's almost too much, almost enough to drive you mad or strike you dead on the spot.Almost, but not quite. Artemis words echo through your mind like the tolling of a great bell – master it.The pain of your body being honed, you clench it down into a tight ball and cast it aside.The insanity of your senses crying out, you shackle and bring under your absolute control.The knowledge that you could kill, that you could tear flesh and shatter bone, you bind with a cold and careful precision.You master it all. You become something greater than ever before. You transcend the hunt.-“Henryk?” Lize's voice, framed in the kind of perfect clarity that you have never heard before, reaches you, “Are you okay?”Details – you note so many of them, all in the blink of an eye. Her eyes are reddened, signs of recent tears, while her heart races with a faint anxiety. She must be cold, she's shivering slightly. A hint of perfume clings to her, suggesting contact – an embrace, perhaps? All those details, absorbed and interpreted before you've finished saying your first word.You're fine, you tell her softly, you're absolutely fine.[1/2]
>>1294121“Well, she gave me a damn good scolding, for one thing,” the young Dragon continues, recounting the “discussion” she had with her mother, “Risking my life, bringing disgrace upon the family name, endangering our noble legacy... uh, all the money spent on looking for me. You know, all that stuff. I'll spare you the details – lord knows, mother didn't.”You nod, murmuring agreement. You've not seen Artemis, not since you took her bargain and heard her voice whispering in your ears. In the storm of sensation that enveloped you, she must have slipped away somewhere. Why, you could not say – her reasons are her own, and her thoughts are not those of a human. She was becoming something else, she said, but what? Has she shed the last of her abnormal power and become a human, or has she reclaimed her legacy as the child of the nameless northern gods?You'll find out, you're sure of that. One way or another, you'll find out.“But you know... when she was done with the scolding, she pulled me close and held me. That's not at all like her. Do you know why she did it, Henryk? Because after everything that happened, I came back. The only reason I came back...” Lize pauses, gazing up at you with a fresh sheen of tears in her eyes, “It was because of you, Henryk. I wouldn't have done any of this without you. So, what I guess I should say is...”But she doesn't say anything, not for a while. Her lips form so many different things – you could have read them if you wanted, like reading words on a page, but you chose to look away – but none of them are given voice.“What I guess I should say is,” Lize finishes at last, “What now?”You have Giant's blood, you think to yourself, and friends who could use it. Friends and allies, scattered across the Free States and beyond. More than that, you have a scent – the scent that Artemis left with you, in that moment when her lips had touched your cheek. A scent that you can follow, wherever she goes. Even now, you could find her... just as she intended you to do. The question, Lize's question, remains – what now?Well, you reply with a calm and measured tone, you've got some travelling to do.The end.>Well, I have a few notes to end on. First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who contributed, for your support and your patience. It really does mean a lot to me>Secondly, I have a few little things planned for the future. A short epilogue to Northern Beasts Quest that I plan to run on the 31st . Probably just a single thread, a bonus episode of sorts. Keep an eye out for it!
>>1293927> Transcend nigga.
>>1294124thanks for running! So what will the others think when we tell them?
>>1294124Thanks for the quest Moloch!How is Camilla taking finding out Alyssia, a civilized girl she has met a couple times already, is a witch? Just long sighs?And how did Alyssia handle meeting Artemis face to face?
>>1294124Thanks for the ride Moloch. Been a fucking blast following this from the start. Looking forward to the epilogue and hyped for any future quest you run.
>>1294124thanks for the Quest!Nobody suffered 1 Petra this time!Did Camilla and Artemis come to an agreement?
>>1294124Moloch, this has been an amazing journey. To have witnessed the nigh impossible manipulation of the written word and men's hearts that you engaged in, to have seen the beauty of what a truly excellent imagination could conjure and refine- it has been one of the most profound things I have experienced in digital form. Thank you.
>>1294124Long epilogue or riot! Thanks for writing, reading quests is part of my daily routine, NB especially since you run at real hours and I get to participate every day. NB has been great from start to finish and you have become a much better writer and story teller since your first quest, it has been a very enjoyable ride
>>1294124Northern Beasts Quest 2: Finding Artemis when?But seriously thank you for taking the time to write all this, your quests have been my favorite since I started reading Sleeping Gods quest and I can't wait for what you might have next, if anything.
wild, baseless theories:Artemis is fusing with Camilla into the one true waifuArtemis went over to Port Isten and rallied a rebellion as the White Tyrant. She really just wants to kill things.A massive supernatural free-for-all between Gore, Artemis, and all the southern spiritsHaving succeeded in purifying their kin, all the Giants now awaken and head on over to create new Knights
>>1294147I think that most people would understand - it would be a pretty big deal to give up on being a Wolf, and the thought of mastering it would be an attractive one. Alyssia would largely support it, seeing it as a perfect balance between nature and civilisation, while Lize wouldn't really consider the specifics. It works out okay, that's all she really needs to know! Camilla... maybe a little less happy, but she would understand duty better than anyone.>>1294166It did come as something of a surprise, but there's a certain degree of trust involved. When you've met someone before without them trying to kill you, you can accept certain things more easily. Plus, meeting Alyssia does give Camilla a more benevolent take on witchcraft.Alyssia, for her part, met Artemis with perhaps the expected reaction - blind panic, a little disbelief, but also a slight bit of relief. She wasn't mad after all!>>1294171A kind of mutual understanding. Artemis was capable of not killing anything that crossed her path, and that's about all that Camilla could have asked for. The fact that Henryk didn't end up awakening an ancient evil did help things
>>1294186>not killing the red moon in the sequel Please, it's the only worthy hunt left after the 12 greats.
>>1294124In Northern Beets quest, Artemis develops a taste for farming.
>>1294208>Why is the ground red?>beet juice>Why is there a red mist>beet juice vapor. The blending facility is over there>Who is that casually chomping beets and splattering the ground with juice?>The owner
>>1294205Artemis thoughts on chairs and snacks?
>>1294205So did the transcendence apply to Henryk's performance in bed too? That might cheer Camilla up.Also Art's thoughts on steaks?
>>1294198>Artemis is fusing with Camilla into the one true waifuI-I can get behind that. Camilla is already in waifu position so having her combine with Arty would be the only chance to have Artemis in the waifu slot. I'm 100% cool with her being Lize's weird big sister though.Also forgot to mention this is the first quest of the one's I've followed to reach the end. Most of the early quests had an early death and the other one I'm reading is still going sorta.
>>1294215> The pie Angel.
>>1293429What could have been.
>>1294216Chairs are strange creatures, too docile to be any fun to hunt. Snacks are pretty great, though>>1294219I DID have a sentence that mentioned "surging potency", but I ended up rewording it. It sounded too much like something Alex Jones might try and sell. Steaks are also pretty great, I think Artemis would prefer hers quite rare.
>>1294256how's she feel about guns? knies,s words, bows and arrows? how does she feel about fish?
>>1294198ah, one more theory:Artemis becomes The Will of Red Eye. Now everyone has to fight an infectious disease that spreads with deliberate intent.
>>1294266>knies,s words, bows and arrowsKnives, swords, bows and arrows
>>1294266I don't really see Artemis as getting the hang of guns, but more basic weaponry would be within her sort of area. Of course, she'd need practice and whatnot, but that's not so abnormal.Fish are stew/10, good eating but not much fun to hunt
>>1294305How about cows, deer, birds and whales?
>>1294305How does she feel about fucking?
>>1294206Heck you're right that's a lot betterBut consider this: What if Artemis IS the Red Moon?
>>1294313Mostly good for either eating or sport. Got to watch out for birds and their small bones, though!>>1294318She's totally featureless, like a barbie doll down there.Not really. I see her as having a pretty unashamed attitude toward sex. It's just a natural thing, right?
>>1294351So could artemis have done this to the other bloodlines?
>>1294351How's Revelle after all of this?
As someone's who's been following you since Devil Summoner London, thanks for another wild ride, and one with the same number of eyes at the beginning and end at that.
>>1294124Aaaaugh curse my timezone! I missed it!This was a gread quest Moloch. An excellent one. Thank you.
>>1294351Hey Moloch, this was an awesome story. You've got a real talent along with great dedication and I hope you can publish your works in the future.By the way, is there any Epilogue stuff planned for this? Like, a 10 years later?
>>1302198>>1294124>Secondly, I have a few little things planned for the future. A short epilogue to Northern Beasts Quest that I plan to run on the 31st . Probably just a single thread, a bonus episode of sorts. Keep an eye out for it!