https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzWsLaolyLwThe great darkness eclipsing the universe arched above you, filling the endless cosmos.You dared not to look but nor could you avert your gaze.Almost purely on its own volition your body attempted to run away as fast as possible.But you soon figured out how futile it was to think you could get out of here.Like in a dream running only slowed you down as if you were submerged in honey.As you were more petrified the more you tried to move the creature behind you laughed which soon turned into pained wheezing."Hhhhhh- [snort] hihihihhhhhhh...Wuhahahahahaaha!"It suddenly ceased and cleared its throat."M-hmmm...Well at least now you understand why I had to jump through so many hoops just to speak with you.Seriously though, it's always the same with you humans.At least you aren't trying to claw out your own eyes!""W-What is going on?!"You scream as panic overtakes you and the creature envelops you so you can not escape its sight at all."Come now, no need to play daft Zsold!...That's right. I know your name. And since I told you mine there is no need for formalities.So I suppose I'll just cut to the chase and remind you of your pact!"With a flick a golden piece of parchment appeared before you, inscribed upon it were words of cosmic power detailing a deal.It seemed familiar somehow.As your eyes trailed downward you saw it.Captured within the celestial paper was your name, glowing with crimson letters.ZSOLD"I DID NOT SIGN THIS!"The beast pointed at you and laughed."OH BUT YOU DID MY FRIEND! YOU DID!Hhhhhhhhhhh...You see it's not the name that matters! But the intent! And it's not like I am the one who made you get high as BALLS!Wuhahahahahaha!And don't try to weasel your way out of this one! I gave you enough opportunities, warning signs and even the capacity to recognize them as such!You signed that contract because deep down in the recesses of your soul you wanted to!THIS is why I'm such a huge fan of you Zsold. That and manslaughter but that's beside the point.""F-Fan?""Adorer. Beloved. Follower!Call it anything you want!Recall my words...I.... am your greatest fan! Everything I said in your drug fueled dream was 100% true aside the setting.Even that was only necessary because the notions other, less open minded individuals hammered into your skull may have dissuaded you.This way... the choice was yours. Not theirs."Then... there was silence.You stared at the ever shifting horror for about half an hour.Without even noticing it your panic slowly faded away.You were still hyperventilating but staring at the primordial chaos made you get used to it, made you see the method behind the madness, rather than driving you insane.
Within that calmness your mind began to race, trying to recall your vision.Suddenly comprehension dawned on you."T-Then... by first performance you meant my father?"Ciel clapped."Nailed it!That was the moment where you got my curiosity... but the second one was when you got my full, undivided attention.Since then... there wasn't a moment when I didn't keep at least one eye on you Zsold...After all there are VERY few people who'd have one of the most powerful relics in the world fall on their heads... and PUT IT BACK ON THE SHELF!HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!Oh and you should be more grateful to your savior by thee way...""What?""The premonition about the demon...Where do you think it came from.""NO!The other one!What did you just say?!"*sigh*"Always getting hung up on the most minute details...Such a fatal error in you mortals.Tell you what! Let's make this easier for the both of us.I'll give you two questions. They can be anything. And I'll answer them."You stopped there.Your thoughts ran wild at the possible questions you could ask this horrid creature.>What relic are you talking about?!>What am I supposed to do then? Am I just your slave now?>What is a fucking GOD doing here anyway?!>Other? (write-in)You can ask at most two things
>>2819235Well I can guess at the relic, we already know we're fucked, and he's told us why he's here. I really can't think of much to ask aside from if he can fuck off and let us sleep.
>What am I supposed to do exactly, you said I have to keep going until the end?>What is a fucking GOD doing here anyway?Spooky no matter what you say I was never pick bard even if it was as strong as the others.
>>2819235>Run me through the terms of our contract. In a way I can understand, now that I'm me.Contract or no, Zsold's going to keep doing what he's been doing. This just changes how he goes about it.And, Ciel, please - deep down, you know you're just a teeny bit scared of what might happen if Zsold masters Outer Magic, aren't you?
Okay... I think I can do this one in two posts if I concentrate it a bit.>writing
>>2819313>CielN-No! Fuck you!
Any idea's on what is so upsetting about a human mastering outer magic guys?
>>2819354It's the kind of magic that can fuck with them.
"So what am I supposed to do exactly?""Oh nothing. Just the same old stuff you've been up to...You know what I mean. Perhaps you should fill in your little lady friend about the second part of your little story.[chuckle]I'm sure she'd find it entertaining. Or at least I would...Just stay true to your word... and destroy the East and the West.How you go about it... it doesn't matter. Level the whole thing, instigate a revolution or just plain old reform them.I don't care about how you go about it... just do it.""WHY?!What ARE you doing here?!"The massive mass let out an exasperated sigh."I've been alive for two millennia. And since my conception I've been infatuated with you monkeys in particular.After all not many species can claim they killed one of my kin!But for the last thousand years it's been the same... Two countries of opposing ideologies go at each others throats.They fight and fight, ruining a great many lives in the process. However before the conflict reaches its climax the Champion rises and stops whoever is winning, resetting the status quo before we could reach the conclusion.I've been getting blue balled for a thousand years now...And while I definitely am the guy who could laugh at the same thing over and over again for ever... I must admit this is making me quite pissed off..."Then the creature poked you on the chest, making your skin glow with a golden light."W-What the-?!""My mark...Worry not. Nobody will know unless you tell them.Should you die or complete your end of the bargain you'll be free as a bird.And as for my part...I will just tell you two things. First my end of the bargain.If you doubt my intentions... or if you are simply curious go and seek out the downtrodden, the sick, the mutant or the outcast.Those who are shunned by this world hold onto the memory of my last 'friend' Stride like the final, dying embers of a fire.He did not bring about the change I wanted... but he still entertained me quite a lot! And his escapades earned him the scorn of everyone in the three realms.To the point where they had his name stricken from all records of history.You don't have to do it of course... I won't order you to do anything.And finally: The only real piece of advice I'll ever give to you.The same thing I told Stride."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_Z35ZSYCSQThe god then cleared its throat before speaking up as the light of the cosmos shone brighter behind him, giving him a holy look."When life gets you down... when you feel like all hope is lost... harness the source of limitless strength that lies dormant within you!Learn to find what you hate, what fills you with rage amusing! Look despair in the eye and laugh at it without restraint!You'll not only break free of your bondage as a mortal... but will turn your greatest weakness into a source of strength!"
You scoffed at that."Great... now that that's out of the way can you fuck off and let me sleep already?""HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!OF COURSE!Rest all you want my friend! And just remember! If you ever need me I'll be here!"Then as the giant clapped your eyes practically snapped open.Seeing the first rays of sunshine made you realize just how much you slept during that brief talk.Even now as you are rubbing your eyes clean you can't decide whether that really just happened or if it was a fever dream.Regardless... you won't be using drugs anytime soon.As you stood up you realized how well rested you were as you stretched your limbs a bit.Looking over at Szikra you saw her still being fast asleep so you quickly went ahead and cooked breakfast while contemplating what just transpired.But before you could get lost in thought too much you felt something poke your shoulder so you quickly turned around and leered at whatever just touched you.It was the kobold.Small, terrified and clearly sleepy. It must've woke up when you started making a racket.It nervously fidgeted around and tapped her two index fingers together before handing your shroud back to you,For a moment you wanted to let her have it but giving that thing as a gift would probably be more insulting than anything else.You took the neatly folded up cloak from the creature and the two of you were left standing there.Staring awkwardly at each other.>Pat head>Shoo it away>Other? (write-in)
>>2819388>Give her some foodShe's been pretty helpful so far
>>2819410This gets my vote.
Turning away from the kobold for a brief moment you grabbed the plate you already prepared for yourself and handed it to her.She reeled back in surprise but after nudging the plate towards her she got the idea and took it.Like usual she scampered away but this time remained in the open, relatively close to you.Without a seconds delay Szikra also jumped up from her bedroll."Is it food time?"You looked at the kobold to make sure she didn't get scared away before responding to Szikra."Since when were you awake?""Bout the same time as you are.I just like snoozing.Now, where is my food?"You sighed and poured her some as well.After handing her portion of the food you got to eating straight from the pan."Whoa... you are now feeding it?Is she your pet now?""She's been very helpful.As such I'd like her to remain.What worries me is that I don't know why it follows me in the first place.""Did it ever occur to you that maybe you are the only one not treating it like garbage?""If so then she leads a pretty pathetic existence.""Dude... we are two homeless vagrants who make a living by murdering things.We are in no position to judge.""A fair point."After scooping the last bites of food into your mouth you set aside your pan and for a few but incredibly long moments think about what Arken Ciel said to you."Maybe you should tell your lady friend the second part of your story!""Tch...Can't believe I'm listening to that... thing."You mutter to yourself."Hmmm? You said something?""Yeah.There is something I haven't told you...About what happened to me after my home got burned to ashes.""Don't tell me there is more.""I'm afraid there is.And with it I'd like to share with you why I'm here in the first place.Since you already told me your reason."You pause for a moment."It happened straight after I murdered my father..."
After I came back to my senses there was only one place where I could go.One place I knew would be safe from the scourge of the west.The Empire.I ran for so long I can't even remember how many days passed during that.But because they were too busy pillaging and raiding the settlements they destroyed I managed to outpace them.When I reached a settlement that was occupied by the Imperials I was relieved.I rushed in to explain my situation to someone... anyone who could help me.Little did I know that was the worst thing I could've done.They captured me almost immediately. Knocked me out and put a sack on my head.When they took it off I didn't know where I was, only that it was dark and damp.They beat me up, yelled at me, threatened me.I still remember that feeling when they threw a towel on my head and poured buckets of water on it.Naturally I didn't know what was going on so I screamed, pleaded and begged for them to stop.They asked questions I didn't understand, much less knew the answer to.I don't know how long they kept me there, only that it felt like weeks.The only reason they stopped was because I quite literally broke.They dragged me out of the chamber and tossed me into a cell.After which I curled into a ball and sobbed for hours.The only thing that managed to get me to stop was a voice coming from the cell.And the only kind words I heard in a long while."Hey...You okay?""N-No..."The kid from the upper bunk jumped down and patted me on the head."Don't hold it back. Let it out.I promise... it will be better."Once I managed to stop he started questioning me.Though I was confused I at least understood his words."What's your name?""A-Alexander...""Alexander?You don't look like an Alexander to me.You're more of a Zsold.I'm Mezegis by the way.Why are you in here Zsold?">I don't know!>I'm innocent!>Why are you here?>Other? (write-in)
>>2819545>>I don't know!
"I... I don't know...I didn't do anything wrong!"The boy just stared at me blankly.Somehow just from that he understood my situation immediately."It's not you... It's them.This place... this prison is full of kids like you.They are looking for something. Wolf Cubs.The newest surprise of the west. Child spies.They go past the frontlines, into Eastern territory and leak information back home using trained animals.You were orphaned weren't you?"I nodded in my utter confusion."I'm sorry...But that's the reason why they picked you out. The Cubs love to pretend they are orphans of the war."He then sat down onto the bed."There are over 200 kids in here. Most of them didn't even commit a crime.And even among those who deserve to be here you won't find any spies...A proper Cub wouldn't be dumb enough to get caught like that."He then told me about who he was.Just a kid who joined up with some street gang so he can feed himself.He got caught selling Junk on the streets. He was perhaps my first true friend...It was thanks to him that I managed to survive in there.Through him I learned how things worked, what to do and who to avoid.But all the time in the world couldn't have prepared me for what awaited me.For a while nothing happened...But like with everyone in there I had to be put in my place.There was one big mess hall where they served us some food.And it was in there that I learned just how the world really worked.I tried everything to not stand out.Yet they still picked on me.The biggest, baddest boy in the block found me.Of all the children in there he well and truly deserved to be locked up.Everyone knew that even if he grew up he'd just be another criminal... or worse.I still remember him as he leered over me while I was sitting at the table.He pointed at me with a wooden knife he sharpened without the guards knowing about it, demanding my meal.I didn't want to do it... I asked him to just leave me alone.But he ignored my tears and gave me a warning by sliding his knife across my face.It was at that moment when he reminded me of my brothers.It was at that time when everything that happened prior to that came crashing down on me.Loosing my home, the only two people I ever loved, the torture, the despair.The last thing I remembered was the metal tray bending under my fingers.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYEmpiy9W2oThey tried to stop me. Both members of his gang and other kids who were just spectating.They stood no chance. I swatted them away like flies while howling like a demon.Things escalated so far that the guards had to come in and break things off.By that time it was already too late.When they pulled me off of him they saw what little remained of his head.With my bare hands I pounded on his skull until it was just a puddle of gore.They threw me into solitary confinement for a week.It didn't matter that even the guards wanted that boy gone... they had to lock me up.When I came to my senses I was locked between three stone walls and a solid metal door.Were it not for Mezegis I would've lost my mind.He managed to pay off the guards and smuggled me some aether so my solitary would end quicker...In return he spread rumors that I was his muscle... Soon he dominated the entire drug market in the prison and managed to buy our freedom from the warden himself.You opened your eyes and looked at Szikra."He then directed me to a brothel that had a nice madam.For a while I had a roof over my head and could even earn a bit of coin if I massaged some of her... guests.But after I got out of that eastern prison and parted ways with Mezegis the war soon ended...It was then that I realized that neither side was 'good'. And I swore that I'd tear them both apart if it was the last thing I did...So there... I need power because I want to quite literally destroy the world."There was an awkward pause between the two of you before Szikra burst out in a fit of laughter."Oh so you just want to destroy not one but two of the Free Nations!Childsplay am I right?""Would you stop that?!I am serious!""Oh I know! You are too much of a sour puss to make jokes like these.It's not Midland that you want to ruin so... what do I care?I'm with you because you are capable! That's all that matters!Heck... now that I know how crazy you are this might actually be fun!""Heh...You are a strange girl...""Right?So what's the next part of your master plan Zsold?We kinda need some work.">I want to head Eastward. There is something I need to find out about...>You're right... we need a contract. So we should look for something that might be worthwhile.>First... I have some Scrying to do>Other? (write-in)
>First... I have some Scrying to dolets get healing so stuff like battle wounds become less of a pain in the ass. Also how much longer until our gland heals spooky?
>>2819760>>I want to head Eastward. There is something I need to find out about...
>>2819783About 5 days
Okay then...Since these two aren't mutually exclusive we'll do one after the other.>writing
"Finish your meal first then we'll pack up and head eastward.There is something I'm curious about that I might find an answer to there.And on the way we might even find ourselves a job.But now if you'll excuse me I have something important to do."Retrieving the orb from your back pack you assumed the same position you sat in last time and began to focus.Your eyes began to twitch and roll around behind your closed eyelids as you were thrust out of your body and into the sea of light above.You had to admit it felt pretty great being there without that oversized mollusk looming over you.But now that you were drifting in the ocean of raw magic you had a different problem.Namely deciding how to progress."The first step is always the hardest."Or so they say.You reached for the wound on your shoulder.At first the choice seemed obvious. Fixing your wounds would be one of the most useful abilities to have.But if your memory serves you well then blood magic healing is a bit more exotic than abstract healing.To close even a small wound you'd need not only the raw energy to do it but the organic material as well.And if your fight with the demon is any indication of how that works you can't just redistribute your flesh so willy nilly.Mending grave wounds would require you to not be engaged as well as the consumption of copious amounts of very specific food for the nutrients.Milk and meat would be essential for you and acquiring those can be a bit tricky unless you are willing to poach some game.However even with these factors there was still the issue that you were severely underpowered.To combat the various horrors of the world you'd need something far more powerful and reliable than just your berserker rage.You tapped your wound once more and as you saw the coagulated blood you had an idea.Getting wounded in a fight is almost unavoidable. And bleeding profusely is a thing a blood mage would actively want.If you could turn something like that cut in your shoulder into a weapon you could retaliate with even more ferocity than before.You are not yet educated enough for something fancy but...You could easily fashion an extra limb out of pure blood, like the leg of a spider sprouting from your shoulder, hardened by the sheer amount of aether coursing through it.A malleable and highly flexible appendage you could turn into an axe, a spear, a sword, a scythe or anything your heart desired at any moment.But even if you could sprout several of such limbs it may not be enough to save you if you die before you could use them.After all your defense is just as lacking as your offense.It may be reckless, crazy even but if you fashioned armor out of your own bones it could act as a second shield against danger.It would be incredibly painful however as you'd need to pierce your own skin and weave the bone into a wall on the outside of your body.Decision... decisions...
It all comes down to what you value more.Killing your opponent before they could seriously harm you, preventing them from harming you in the first place or counting on surviving long enough to undo whatever damage you may have suffered during the engagement.But of course these are just a few possibilities.Maybe something more... specific would be better.Choose what to improve>Offense>Defense>Healing>Something specific (write-in)
>HealingBecause even with that limitation it's still in the end gonna lead to things like limb regrowth. Next time I will vote to go for some attack tho.
>>2820033Oh and since you were talking about it previously...Choosing to dabble in Outer magic is always an option
>>2820049I'd prefer to get decent at blood magic before thinking about branching out
>>2820049I know this but I kind of want to stay away from that for a bit whilst we build our self up. Plus we don;t even know what paths it can take since you have yet to explain it in detail. All we really know is that it;s eldritch and gods don't like humans using it.
Healing it isPlease roll the dice for the result.Best of 3.And if a third roll doesn't appear in a timely manner I'll do it>writing
Rolled 7, 4, 3 = 14 (3d10)>>2820107Prepare to be disappointed everyone,
Rolled 4, 10, 6 = 20 (3d10)Okay then...
Rolled 6, 6, 3 = 15 (3d10)>>2820107
Healing is based on understanding.To know how your body functions and how injuries disturb them is the key.Without thorough knowledge of the human body your attempts at restoration may have dire consequences.For now you'll just stick to something not vital just to be on the safe side.Muscle and bone should be good for a start.Searching far and wide through the crimson clouds you found what you could only describe as blueprints.Outlines of human bodies drawn in cosmic light that you can only make out from certain angles. But they are there.Thoroughly analyzing their contents you got a rough idea on how things should work regarding muscles, skin and bone.After a bit of practice to see what they are made of, what connects to what and how you feel pretty confident about applying the same knowledge in the material world.Retracing your steps you quickly found your way back in your body.Your eyes snapped open quickly and with quite a bit of force behind them."Oh? Back already?"Szikra asked you with her mouth still stuffed."I just wanted to get in a quick lesson before we depart.Magic is so much easier to digest in small doses like this.Now then... let's see."Removing the bandage from your shoulder you took a closer look at the wound.It definitely seems like it healed some. Or at the very least it didn't get any worse while you weren't watching.But now you'll know for sure if what you learned will work or not.Focusing on your open palm you managed to concentrate a small amount of aether into it which you proceeded to weave into the injured area.Using the magical energy in this manner as a tool is much more manageable than simply filling the injured area with it and attempting to close the wound with willpower alone.After a bit of stitching you managed to fuse some of the damaged tissue back together.Right before your eyes the red, bloody area shrunk down until it was little more than a line of dried blood.You felt relieved now that you could move your shoulder without having to worry about your wound opening up again.Though that is still a possibility now it should only happen if you did something truly foolish, like tossing Szikra around again.But still... what should be an injury that could cripple a man turned into something which will heal in a couple of days.You gave your left fist a few testing squeezes and smiled."Incredible!"
"Whoa...Cool! From now on you can patch me up!""Hold your horses...This is still a delicate procedure.I'm not too comfortable doing it. Especially since I have to use cells from somewhere else in my body to do this.""Er... what's a cell?""And if you get hit in any vital area I can't help you at all.So I'd still advise you to avoid getting hurt at all costs."Afterwards you packed your stuff and headed eastward.The kobold now followed you in the open for most of the time and only hid when she detected other humans incoming.As you journeyed ever onward, searching for some information about that mysterious Stride you stumbled upon a few traveling merchants who were busy doing their usual deliveries between settlements.You stopped and kindly asked them for directions as well as any potential job opportunities they might know of.Most oddly not only did they know something they even had multiples to choose from.Supposedly one town in the area has some... potentially dangerous problems regarding necromancers.Why exactly that's a problem is anyone's guess because the Graveguard are usually pretty jumpy regarding the reanimation of the dead.If they so much as suspect there is a Culter or a Necromancer on the loose they'd go out and hunt them down immediately.But there you have it, a contract for adventurers regarding a dark mage. What a day.The other opportunity is a bit less ominous but likely just as problematic but in a different way.With the summer ending soon and the falls imminent arrival the time for the annual Harvest Festival has arrived.During this time the Free Lands all hold large scale celebrations in the hopes of attracting a bountiful harvest.In another nearby town people are preparing for quite large scale festivities, a place ripe with work for adventurers no doubt.>Necromancer Hunt>Festive work
>>2820331>>Festive workIf we had more than 3 people I could be persuaded to go after the necromancer.
Rolled 2 (1d2)For real?Okay...Guess we'll have to leave it up to fate1=Festival2=Necromancer>writing
>>2820418You have 2 different types of people playing spooky, the cautious kind and the kind that just do stupid and dangerous shit because they want to see it;s consequences, look at your last thread.
>>2820451You worded that wrong.I don't have 2 types of people... I have 2 people playing.If there is a difference in opinions I'm kinda fucked.People picking dumb shit I can deal with.This is just aggravating
>>2820470Maybe try sticking to Saturdays?
>>2820508I run when I can.Saturday was just not feasible
There was something that was odd about that 'necromancer' and you intended to find out what.Thanking the merchants you bid them farewell and went on your merry way.While heading for the town Szikra began questioning you."Seriously? A necromancer?After that fucking demon?!""What's wrong? Afraid of a few walking corpses?""Who isn't?!""Fair point.But rest assured there won't be a necromancer.""Oh? And what makes you so sure of that?!""The fact that there is a bounty for it.Normally the church handles these bastards.If a Guard so much as smells something afoot they will head out.But if there isn't one they won't budge an inch. However that won't stop the stupid peasants from believing otherwise.Usually if they post something like this it's either nothing at all or something far weaker than a necromancer.""Which means easy money!...Unless it's something worse.""Worse than a necromancer?If that was the case every adventurer in the region would be on his way here.So far... it doesn't seem like that is the case."As you continued on you soon picked up a small town on the horizon.It was small and underdeveloped compared to Golden Wind and it was more akin to Dirthaven.Yet another thing that suggests that you are right. It's typically these backwater settlements that house some of the dumbest people the realm could offer.Feeling your vigor renewed you picked up the pace and moved closer.Getting closer and closer to the town revealed that the place is quite bountiful.Fields full of crops and rich meadows feeding hundreds of livestock appeared.Looks like this place revolves around the production of food."Ooooooh!""You can't tip the cows...""Boooo!"You kept to the roads but you suddenly stopped in your tracks when you saw a figure laying atop a haystack.Must've been a local.Thinking that this was the perfect opportunity for getting some answers you called out to them."HEY!"The figure stood up.As the afternoon sun shone behind him you could only make out his silhouette.In his hand was a massive scythe, the outline of which was enough to make the blood freeze in your veins.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY3iJJjSJ80As your eyes adjusted to the light however you suddenly felt incredibly stupid and so did Szikra.The boy wearing nothing but a plain white shirt and black pants tied to his waist by a rope looked down at you with a straw in his mouth and his scythe standing tall next to him."The fuck do you want?"He asked you as he grew tired of you just standing there in dumb confusion.His hostility took you by surprise."You go around scaring people like that and then have the nerve to insult them?!""It ain't my fault you are fucking stupid."Szikra snapped at the boy."Listen here you bumpkin-""You got scared by someone cutting hay and you callin' me bumpkin?Whatever...""I'LL KILL HIM!""Hold your horses Szikra...Listen boy.We're adventurers-""Oh really? Never woulda guessed. Thought you guys are traveling minstrals with all those instruments of murder strapped to you..."You took a deep breath and ignored the smartmouthed boy."Listen! We came to deal with your necromancer problem!I don't suppose you heard anything about that.""No. And you can just fuck off back where you came from.The only problem we have around here are drunkard morons mistaking every bush for a fucking demon-dragon or some other shite!Go ahead and waste your time anywhere else because we don't need none of your mercenary kind around here!"This time Szikra had to hold You back because you were about to jump over the fence separating you from the boy to give him a good thrashing.In the end you decided to stop yourself."Are you sure it's smart for you to insult us?We could just tell your boss how you're muckin' about instead of working.""One: You don't know who my boss is jerkoff!Second: I'm already done for the day. I was just sleeping here when you so rudely woke me up!""This is getting us nowhere!"Szikra grumbled and you had to agree."Let's leave this peasant to his 'work' and get on with ours.So... what do we do now?""Hmmm...">Let's head for the inn. That's always a good start.>Ask around and find whoever posted the contract.>First consult with the local Crypt guard>other? (write-in)
>>2820618>>First consult with the local Crypt guardprobably knows whats going on
>>2820618>>First consult with the local Crypt guard
Meeting the local Crypt Guard might be your best bet.If anyone then they would most certainly know what is going on.Without wasting any time you made your way to the cemetery where the ever vigilant servant of the Dead God toiled endlessly.You knocked on the door and after waiting for a few moments it swung open."Payment first...""We're not here for your services master guardian.""Oh... you adventurers?"You nodded.*sigh*"Come on in then."At his behest you stepped inside and sat down on an unoccupied bench while the master sat down at his table while puffing on his pipe."You folks ain't the first to have come here.""Really?"Szikra asked."Aye. So I'll tell you what I told the others.There are NO necromancers around these parts.Before you even ask, yes I did an investigation but only because I grew tired of the locals constantly nagging me!And no, I didn't find any evidence which would suggest someone is practicing the dark arts.Nobody from the village went missing, no corpses from the crypt were stolen. Yes bandit and monster activity drastically dropped.But that alone is not enough evidence. Necromancers are not that selective... and certainly aren't stealthy enough."That last part got your attention."Say... who is the one that reported this 'necromancer'?""The local drunkard Dominique the goatfucker...You can probably guess where the name comes from.""Not the... most reliable witness.""Nay.And when I say drunkard I mean the man once did not drink for an entire day when his daughter got married.Halfway through the ceremony he collapsed and couldn't stand up without a few cups of wine.That man has practically drank away his soul already.""Anything else?""A few reports...But nobody was quite so vocal about it.And you may find that the locals are... less than hospitable.""Yeah... we already had the pleasure of meeting one of them."Szikra responded."Some peasant lazing around in the fields.""Ah... must've been Noryx.Good lad. A bit odd but otherwise harmless.However if you thought him unpleasant then I must wish you luck on your endeavors.The locals are quite wary of outsiders."
After thanking the masters assistance you allowed him to return to his work.Leaving his workshop the two of you began discussing how to handle things."What do you think Zsold?""It's... certainly strange.I'm inclined to believe the masters expertise on necromancers... however there is something that bothers me.""The reduced bandit attacks?""Correct.He may be knowledgeable regarding heretics but he is definitely lacking in other areas.If something is either killing... or worse keeping away the competition with its presence alone-""Then this might be a problem."You nodded."So... what do we do then?Should we just go in the woods and look for whatever is causing this?">That'd be the best. I doubt the locals would be much help>I say let's ask that highly esteemed gentleman...>Other? (write-in)
>>2820793>>I say let's ask that highly esteemed gentleman...Might as well try and talk to someone first before we go bumbling through the woods with out a clue.
>>2820793>>I say let's ask that highly esteemed gentleman...last post for tonight probably
>>2820793>>I say let's ask that highly esteemed gentleman...just got here, the time it started wasn't the best for me but here i am
Okay then>writingAnd I've been thinking about something which might remedy this kinda crappy situation.What would you say if I kept going with the thread throughout the week?I'll keep posting updates and offer you choices and I'll keep going whenever I have the time for it.Sounds good?
>>2820837From my personal experience that doesn't work out so well.
"I'd still like to talk to that... gentleman.""Uuuugh...I want to fight shit already!""I know just bear with me.This won't take long. I promise."Heading to the one location you were almost guaranteed to find that man at you entered the tavern.After inquiring the owner about this Dominique he pointed at a man sitting in the corner."Are you Dominique?"You asked him."Who's asking?""An adventurer you hired.""Another one?Just get lost like all the rest.You all do nothing but look at me like a fool!""Can you really blame us? You are making it quite hard to take you seriously.""Fahk off!Call me names all you like! But I know what I saw!""That's just it... what DID you see?The guard said-""That quack is like all the rest!I told him over and over again what I saw in great detail!Even now when I close my eyes I can see it clearly... Gray, cold flesh, bones sticking out of it, now jaw. And that horrid stench.Just thinking of it is making me queasy..."He then raised his tankard and angrily smashed it against the wall as he broke down in tears.He cried and cried without relenting."I can't even drink anymore because every time I remember that... that thing I feel like I'm gonna throw up!BUT I CAN'T STOP FOR FUCKS SAKE OR I'LL DIE!"From the other end of the tavern the owner spoke up."It's true...Dominique has been cutting back on drinking.""Is that true?"You ask him."Aye... Frankly I'm worried about loosing so much of my income."You then turned your attention back to the addict."Where was it?Where did you see the undead?""Y-You mean you'll actually go and kill it?!""We can only promise to take a look around.But whatever we may find... if the contract says I'm done you'll pay me!Even if there really was no necromancer! Understood?""Fuck me of course I will!Just deliver me from this fucking nightmare!Please..."
Aaaand that's as far as I can go for today.Hope you guys had fun.If you have any questions/requests/etc. you know what to do.Archive's up and I'll see if I can make those mid week posts a thing.See you guys later
>>2820939Thanks for running Spooks
>>2820939If it means anything, I'm still here, but time zones and schedules as of late mean that I tend to miss a fair chunk of threads and am usually relegated to lurking or playing catch-up.
>>2820846Yeah, scheduling becomes a big problem there.
>>2820939Fuck man, I missed it. Sorry for not being here my dude, I thought you were going to wait till next Saturday...I'll try to check daily for now on.
>>2821994just check my twitterI always post on it when the next session will be
>>2822008I don't have twitter sadly, and when I tried to make an account it asked for a phone number. I don't like when sites ask for phone numbers because I'm a paranoid anon.
>>2820939Damn I missed the session. At least we didn't make another deal with a cosmic horror.
>>2822063Ah... hmmm...Yes I understand where you are coming from.I do have an ask... but that is also not ideal for that.Well this is quite a pickle.Any suggestions on how to remedy this?Because I am too tired at the moment to come up with anything
>>2822063Okay... I am literally too dumb to exist.I found a solution to the problem and I've been banging my head into a wall for ten minutes straight afterwards.I'll just post when the next session will be here so that it's literally unmissable.>And on a completely unrelated note:I decided against doing a week long session.Not because I don't want to but because I just got a decent idea for some omakes.And since those were so successful last time I might as well just do those over the course of the week.If you have any requests feel free to toss them my way.
>>2822384Some stuff from Szikras POV when we get up to crazy stuff. Some stuff from our kobolds POV. If it's not too spoilery then some stuff on the Laughing God's last chosen.
>>2822399I don't want to do Stride because as things are looking right now you'll get someone flat out tell you some of his tales.But I'll see what I can do.As for the other two... sure, no problem.Anything in particular?
>>2822601For the kobold definitely the demon incident. For Szirka I'd like her thought process on when we met but that doesn't seem like it would have a lot to it, that's why I left it broad.
>>2822384>I do have an ask...ask?>'ll just post when the next session will be here so that it's literally unmissable.yeah that'll do, but I may be coming here late like at 6ish UTC.The Kobold POV would be great. Also how about one for our lovely, grave digger? I really liked him and want to know whats he up to.>>2822601And who are you! Acting like your Spookyng himself! You didn't even put a name!
>>2822123>At least we didn't make another deal with a cosmic horror.Yet.
>>2825001>6ish UTCI don't know wtf I typed UTC -8
>>2825001Ask.fmIt's a shitty social media site centered around asking and answering questions.I posted mine in the earlier threads.Useful if a player has questions they don't necessarily want to share with others.>graveguardYeah sure. I'll think of something
>>2825063>Useful if a player has questions they don't necessarily want to share with others.Why wouldn't they?
>>2825068Who knows?It was also a great way of shitposting.I had several "you're a big guy" comments
Omake #1: Gather 'round the fireIn the cold north where the wind bites deeper than a mere animal ever could, where food is scarce and more precious than gold hardy creatures live, preying on one another.One kind in particular is so resilient, so tenacious that no matter what happens they will never, ever die out.A being whose ingenuity is only surpassed by its savagery and cruelty.Man.One group in particular... who made their homes at the very border of this territory were just discussing their latest escapades.Their moods heightened by mead and merriment."So as I was about to let him go his necklace poked out of his gamberson.And guess what! It was a noble Imperial families crest!""So what did you do?""Of course I grabbed his shoulder before he could get away and stabbed him through the back!Little fuck thought he could trick me!"The camp then burst out laughing.These fine gentlemen were not from around here.They were intruders, knaves and traitors, deserters and butchers.But the north welcomed them still.However as the bandits grew happier one of them remained calm, almost annoyed by the happiness of his men."What's wrong boss?""Nothin'...Just waiting."He dodged the question.Not that he hated the man. Each and every one of his subordinates were chosen by him and they all proved themselves.If he had to he'd rely on them without hesitation, knowing they'd protect him with their lives.But he was a man of many troubles.A scarred veteran of many fights, a loyal servant of the empire until the very end.Or at least that's what he thought of himself a few years ago. While the war was still going.Even before the fights with the West broke out once more he was a captain in Her Majesties army.He made many friends, most of whom now served him and had a bright future ahead of him. He was at the height of his career.But long and blood conflicts can do strange things to a man.On the front lines he fondly remembered the days when he wore his uniform during parades, adorned with fine silk and his many badges just to reassure the citizens they were in good hands.Even when he was knee deep in blood and mud, his once shining armor now rusted and worn, clinging heavily to his body for if he were to remove it he'd assuredly die.Closing his eyes he remembered the decision that got him here.One born out of desperation and fear.He was not a man of superstition. He did not believe that the Champion would swoop in and save them from the western hordes.But even if he did... even if he held onto that vain hope that his country would not be destroyed should he fail... he couldn't let his men die.So he made a terrible, terrible decision.Calling in every favor he had he procured some rather... illegal goods.He distributed the narcotics amongst his men and after taking it they wreaked havoc on the battlefields.
The drugs did what they promised.Not only did the captain and his men survive the war but they took more than their fair share of scalps.However the war couldn't last forever.Soon the conflict ended and the proud but tired men of the East were called back home.Where everything fell apart.His superiors caught wind of his actions.In acquiring and using those substances he broke several laws of the Empire.And the fact that some of his men couldn't just let go of the bliss didn't help him.He was put through a trial and was found guilty.Stripped of his rank, his career, his life's work he had nothing left to live for...Until he found out who replaced him.Some greenhorn hick from Midland was given the position of captain, his position.He smelled foul play at hand.It didn't take him long to figure out that his fall from grace was clearly orchestrated by someone who didn't like him.Enraged by the treachery of his home country and disgusted at their incompetence and corruption he gathered up his men...They managed to sneak in and steal back what was rightfully theirs, their arms and armor and left everything behind.Now here they were, trying to cause as much pain for those he once revered as humanly possible.And if he got lucky... he could do more than that.But the time for remembrance has ended as the messenger he awaited has finally arrived.A red eyed crow sat down at a branch in front of the former captain.Turning its head to the side it looked at him and spoke."Could you tell the time friend?""Times are harsh friend..."*caw*"I bring good news Captain...""Then let's hear it.""Your friend Captain Braham has died.You needn't worry about him anymore."Julian looked down as he mourned."What's wrong? I thought you'd like this.""Our paths have diverged but Braham was still a friend.I don't expect your kind to understand hellspawn."*caw*"You presume much human.We also feel empathy...""Could've fooled me.Anything else?""Yes!"*caw*"The time for rest is over Captain.You got work to do now."The crow reached forward with its leg.From the iron grip of its talons a small scroll fell out, in it the destination of the vengeful human.He read it and cracked a smile."Good.Tell your master he won't be disappointed!""I hope so-"*caw*"-for your sake!"*caw*And wit that the crow flew away, back to whatever hole it crawled out from.Julian then turned around and looked at his men."TIME TO PACK UP BOYS!It's time to cause some mayhem!""YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"Omake #1: THE END
Omake #2: Instict and something more[No! No! No!][Bad! Bad! BAD!Stupid Hyuman!]The small kobold paced back and forth, gnashing at her claws.Her instincts have been warning her, banging on her subconscious ever since she entered this withered and desolate area.But when she tried to enter the cave after the humans that slight suggestion turned into an impenetrable wall of screams that prevented her passage.Merely being near to it caused every fiber of her being to want to escape.And He went in.She cursed her own powerlessness, she cursed the tall ones foolishness, she cursed fate itself.Back in the tribe life was harsh.The current alpha of the tribe was particularly savage and violent.Her only luck is that he took a particular fancy to her and wished to wait until she was ready to breed.She dreaded the arrival of that day for she heard how... painful mating with the alpha was.But then... then on one fateful day when food was running low again she was sent out to gather.With the area near the tribe stripped of all potential sources of food she had to venture farther than usual.It was this mistake that one of the more... determined hunters decided to capitalize on.The right to breed was earned with might.Whoever was the most capable was the alpha, whoever killed him became the new one.And to ensure the tribes strength the leader had the right to decide who can mate. That typically meant him and nobody else.When she noticed the hunter and the glowing lust in its eye she let out a scream louder than she thought was possible.For days after that she was on the run from the emboldened hunter.Until she met Him.Being ravaged by that thing would've spelled doom for her.Not only it would've broken her but if the alpha found out...At best her brood would've been slaughtered alongside the hunter. At worst she would've followed him.But then like a bolt from the blue a figure jumped out and saved her.She did not understand why would a human help her. When the hunter died she even thought she'd be next.But He spared her life.Perhaps it was pity, perhaps something else.However this creature just saved her.As it left she considered her options. Either she could return to the tribe and endure more abuse... or she could take her chance.She opted for the latter. For days afterwards she followed the human from afar, watching him.A few times she even approached him when he slept.As he rolled around he reminded her of the young back at camp when they had nightmares.She thought she'd try to touch him, to calm him down. In the end she just pulled her arm back. She lacked the courage to act.
Now... he was gone.The one she thought could maybe keep her safe.She kept pondering on what to do.Rather than making a hasty decision she decided to make camp here, get some food and maybe sleep on the matter.As she considered the possibility of traveling the vast land all alone or the prospect of staying here like a coward, unable to move on her own her heart sunk.But before she could feel too ashamed her senses alerted her to something.So she hid behind a rock, watching the entrance of the cave carefully.When she saw the humans returning her eyes widened.For a moment she felt happy, relieved even. But all that faded rather quickly as her heart skipped a beat.[Hurt...][More hurt!]Suddenly she realized what she had to do.She turned tail and went on to scavenge some healing herbs.She decided to gather her courage and approach the human. She won't make the same mistake twice.Omake #2: THE END
>>2826120I wonder what her opinion of Szkira is.Also, it's a shame she has almost no chance of getting a happy ending out of this. Then again, the same would probably apply to a vast majority of characters.
>>2827598>Kobold[Female thing weird.Smells like pretty flowers... And death.Big fang like kobold.Scary.]
Omake #3: Grave MattersThey told them it was a special day, that important people are coming, that they should be happy.Yet he was scared witless and he didn't know why.They were neatly lined up and the door swung open.Through it came two guards dressed in their ornate uniform.Sandwiched between them was a smaller person wearing a set of black robes.He was a Bone Priest.As the guards closed the door behind themselves the man in the middle extended his arm.As his fingers poked out from under his sleeve the children saw his black bones through his skin, the markings of the holy person, runes etched into their skeleton.Piece by piece as they complete their studies they get the ritual runes carved into their bones with some black ink.The more complete the "painting" the higher ranking the priest, with the head of the church being the only one with a complete skeletal painting.But as the monk reached forward his hand suddenly stopped and with a kneejerk reaction he pulled himself back.He snapped at the old lady standing behind the children."What is this?"He asked, pointing at one of the boys who had a bruise under his eye."I-It was an accident!"She spoke up."H-h-h-he fell and-""Do you take us for fools?The church was gracious enough to take you into the fold.Yet you laid a hand on one of the children under OUR protection?""N-NO!""Silence!"The priest spoke and the woman froze.Not that he had any magical powers to speak of but when one has two Grave Guard watching your every word for when to strike can have profound effects on mere men.Then he knelt down and as furious as he was mere moments ago he became just as calm and soothing."My child... you don't need to fear anything. You're not in trouble.But please... could you tell me if old Nan here hurt you?"The boy was so enthralled by the honey like words of the priest that he forgot just how terrifying he was moments ago.He nodded."She did.She hurts all of us.Usually where people don't see its mark... but she was drinking yesterday.""I see.Thank you."Reaching under his robe he pulled out a large piece of herbal candy and handed it to the chubby boy."Here. You don't have to worry about her hurting you anymore."He turned around."Take her away.""NO!"The old lady screamed and reached for one of the children in front of her.Nervously she grabbed a knife and held it to the kids throat."One wrong move and she gets it!Now back off you soulless husks and le-"But before she could finish her sentence was cut short.Blood filled her throat and prevented her from even breathing.Lifelessly she fell over in one motion, dropping the knife in the process.Quickly before she could fall on the innocent youth one of the guards rushed forward and caught her.Carefully he took the fresh corpse out of the building in a manner that concealed the dagger wound on the back of her neck.
Almost none of the children comprehended what just happened, almost none of them realized that one of the Guards just stabbed their old nanny in the back of her throat.None... except one.Now nervous and confused they stood there, waiting for their judgment.The priest walked up to one of the girls and ran his fingers through her hair."Sweet child...Your heart is as pure as the first snow of the year!"His words were mesmerizing."We would be honored to have you as a sister!Do you accept us as your brothers?""Y-Yes meser!""Excellent! Come with me!"He extended his hand to the girl."From this point onward you are a caretaker!"Then he looked over the children again and walked up to a meek boy with the girl still in tow."My son... your eyes burn as bright as the stars!You may have the honor of holding up the heavens with us!Do you accept us as your brothers?""Yes father.""Wonderful!Then you shall be like I am!A bone priest! There is no destiny greater! Come!"He then turned to his guard and smiled."I think we got what we came here for. Let us be on our way! We have much to do."But the Guard that remained had other ideas."Not so fast father...""What is it?"He asked in confusion as the guard walked up to the smallest orphan.The boy did not feel even a shred of fear when he looked at the pointed helm of the crypt keeper.He knelt down in front of him and sized up the child.All the other kids were shaking in their boots as the guard came so close to them.The stench of decay that permeated him made them reel back in disgust.Staring into the eye of the child the man has seen something. Something neither of the chosen had.Something that made this one special."This one... comes with us.""I understand..."The priest lowered his head in defeat.Subservient they may be... but when the guard claim someone not even the priests can stop them."I'm sorry my child.It appears your fate lies elsewhere.From this day onward... you are one of the Grave Guard and these two... are your brothers.I'm afraid you have no choice in the matter..."Then the guard extended a hand to the boy and finished what the priest wanted to say."Come."The boy did not hesitate and took the offer.Even though he knew the most grueling years of his life awaited him... he felt no fear.Valen then awakened, his eyes snapped open at the first rays of the Lightwell.He reached for his face and grabbed it to make sure he was not asleep anymore.With a sigh of realization he spoke to himself."That dream again...How long has it been?"
Morr woke up from his bed and proceeded with his morning ritual. For duty called.Under normal conditions he'd be perfectly fine letting his work sit but when your 'guests' have a terrible tendency to rank up your home you tend to get rid of them quickly.While one corpse was occupying the acid bath he got to doing the other one the old fashioned way.Without resting he gutted, skinned and carved off the flesh of his occupant and buried it in his compost heap.By the end he was remarkably tired so he whipped up a simple meal and started eating it straight out of the pan while leaning on his fence, observing nature.In between two mouthfuls of food however he stopped when a visitor arrived."Well I'll be...I didn't expect the grand master himself to show up.""Hey Valen.You seem to be doing well.""I am. Thanks for asking.So... Kirk... I imagine you didn't just show up for a visit.""I admit I did not..."The grand masters expression soured."And I'm afraid... That this glass of Rubint Wine won't be enough for the both of us!""...Yooo!."Valen smiled and invited him in.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMxo_3oHULEAfter managing to down almost the entire bottle the grand master was exceptionally drunk while Valen just felt a slight buzz.He recalled that Kirk was never one who you'd call a hard drinker. Really even a sip of wine was enough to get him inebriated."Are you sure it's wise to drink much master?I still have some bodies to attend to.I'll fail my duty to the church if I have to pamper you in your drunken stupor!""Shush childh...They aren'tgoin anywhere!But you... you gotta celebrate!""Oh really?Am I finally get properly supplied?I'm getting kinda sick of rationing out my monthly tribute!""Chlose...'Ere! Iths an official commendation from the church *hic*For nipping that little catastrophe in the making!""A pat on the back from the church huh?I might even have this framed... if I don't use it for kindling first.""Come now! We both know ya deserve it!If you keep impressing those bald arseholes they might even invite you to the Hands.""You know I was never interested in that.I have too little of a stomach and too much of a spine for their line of work.""Tch... look atchu!I come bearing a reward for your accomplishment and you just grumble!Ya know you could have it much worse! Take poor Reuben for example!""The guy near the eastern border?""You know 'im?""Only from the skola.What's wrong with him?""Local folk keep buggering him about some... necrofucker problems.Sayin' the dead have risen from their graves, eatin' babies and fucking the goats...""Sounds like typical peasant superstition.Did he investigate?""Thrice!'E got so fucking mad he apparently scoured every inch of the nearby woods several times for any clues.Nothing, zilch, nada.Yet they keep pestering him."
"So you're telling me that no bodies were stolen... nobody disappeared-""And not a clue in the nearby forest! Yes!Either this is the most held back, calm and careful necromancer in the Free Lands-""Or it's something else entirely...""Yes but that's not our jurisdiction anymore, is it?""I suppose you're right."Morr then raised what was left of the wine."You know... these Eastern guys really know how to make 'em.So how about this?Let's say a toast for Reuben!""Aye aye!"They split the wine and drank every last drop of it."Ahhhhh...Feels like suckling on the tits of an angel!Speaking of which! Remember when I trained you?""How did you arrive to that from this?!""Well I can not lie I always got a little erect when I was watching you squirm.""I knew it...But yeah. I remember.It was the most grueling, horrific and arduous thing I've ever or will experience.My body, mind and soul all felt like shattering as they were pushed to the limits of their capabilities.I hated you for it.""Aaaand?""Now that I'm here and see the world for what it is... I realized I didn't have it too bad.""That's my boy!I knew you'd be one of my greatest!""Heh... you shitty old man.Just for this... I'm gonna make you suffer!"Morr then stood up and took out an unopened bottle of spirits and slammed it against the table."Yooooo!"Omake #3: THE END
I think I'll do Szikras tomorrow.Then hopefully on Saturday I'll continue the story in this thread
>>2829578Thanks for the stories Spooks!
Omake #4: Face your fearSzikra was frozen in place.Her mind and body both shut down at the sight of so much blood.All that death in an instant...The truth did not escape her... she knew she'd have to face such a beast sooner or later. But not this soon.She blanked out completely, ignorant of the world around her.Even the screams of Zsold were like a muffled whisper.Every inch of her body, every bit of survival instinct she had urged her, begged her to get away.Slowly the shock of seeing a damned demon of all things wore off and as sensation returned to her limbs she slowly stood up."Useless..."She muttered as her body moved on its own.Slowly as to not agitate the unholy beast she shuffled towards the exit while shuddering like a dry leaf in the wind.However... before she could get far something managed to penetrate this maddening confusion.Her eyes caught a glance of Zsold as he charged the abomination recklessly.*That fool!*She thought to herself.*He's going to kill himself!*Suddenly she stopped in her movements and watched her only companion move in his frenzy.He withered the storm of attacks the demon unleashed.Until he got his axe knocked out of his hand that is.Then she watched as the man ran backwards and created a raging inferno around him.She did not understand.How could he move like that? How could he face that... that thing?What was it that drove him? What gave him that power?It infuriated her.Normally she doesn't care about such things.But this time was different.If some... peasant could face that abomination... THEN SO CAN HER!She looked down at her own hand and saw it shaking.That too pissed her off.Clenching it into a fist she brought it up and punched herself in the face at full force.Feeling the shock spread through her face reignited her fighting spirit, her will to live.Gritting her teeth she grabbed her spear and growled as she tasted blood filling her mouth from her punch."Okay! We're back in business!"As Zsold trapped the demon in a ring of fire she used her spear to vault over it.Twirling in the air she prepared to strike."FUUUUUCK YOU!"Omake #4: THE END
Got some bad news folks... I abhor doing this again but I'll have to postpone todays thread until next week. Sorry for blueballing you again
>>2833889Alright see you next week when you tell us the same thing.
I am once more able to reach to computer so I thought I'd say something.Since the weekend thread didn't work out I wanted to think of something just so you wouldn't have no content.And since I pretty much used up all the suggestions as well as my ideas my only option left is doing the one thing I didn't want and write a Stride story.But since this is a bit too little I'll also comb over the pastebins and update them so they are up to date.(I know, I know Spooky is lazy with social links again...)
Omake #5: A legendThe average peasant has many complaints in their life.From paying taxes to being at the mercy of their lords whims.A life of uncertainty and hardship.But even with all these woes they could never comprehend the misery those so called "free men" in the cities are supposedly free of.In truth being liberated from the yoke of nobility brings nothing but hardship to many who choose to live in these massive settlements.When your life isn't a resource to be used by someone then the nobles or those who happen to rule could not care less about you.And because of this these beacons of liberty where the mere peasant may become rich and prosperous turned into the hotbeds of beggars and vagrants.For every family safely nestled between the four walls of their house there are dozens who have lost everything be it money, reputation or belongings.Driven from the streets and away from the eyes of "decent people" these unwashed masses have claimed the filthy and dark alleyways that previously belonged only to stray animals.Like rats they have to subside on the scraps and refuse of those more fortunate than them.One could easily find all kinds of people in here.Soldiers who became crippled in the wars of others, families who lost everything due to sheer bad luck, orphans who had nowhere else to go, junkers and rapists, bandits and rogues.The only thing they share is their destiny and the disdain others have for them.Jesa was a little girl who has lost both her parents rather recently.Though nobody really knows what happened the city guard suspect that the couple have made a few dangerous deals they thought could weasel out of.And without any relatives to take her in or an orphanage she was condemned to a fate of begging, stealing and sleeping in refuse.For the entire day she knelt beside the main road running through the city, hoping that someone would take pity on her and give her something.Luckily for her today was a good day and she managed to scrape together a few copper pieces that people either handed to her or simply ignored after having it fall out of their hands.She caught up with a few other children who did the same and were also rather successful.They all smiled as they went back 'home'.A frail and very emaciated woman awaited them.Her name was Ruka and she was the only one who cared about them."Oh! You're all back!I hope nothing bad happened!"The children shook their heads."Nope."The six kids went on to report the fruits of their labor to their labor.Ruka smiled gently."That's great news!Tomorrow we can go and buy some bread then!"Jesa and the others smiled though it was a bitter sweet victory.It took them the entire day to get this much coin, meaning most shops were closed by now.And since none of them were too eager to try and steal from some of the garbage behind stores after the last incident the only thing that sated their hunger was their willpower.
The young ones, knowing the routine already, took off to their beds.For once they awakened they could eat fresh food.The prospect alone made their mouths water.Ruka also seated herself next to them and started stroking their head as she spoke up."Well then...What kind of a bedtime story should we have today?How about how the First have slain the Iron Dragon?"The children remained silent."Or one about Deacon the great hero?""We want Stride!"Jesa spoke up and the others quickly started nodding in agreement.Ruka however gave an uncomfortable grimmace to the kids.She knew those stories, as did everyone else in the streets. They were a source of hope, joy and wishes.But she believed them to be not fit for the childrens ears.However despite her best efforts they of course learned of his existence and were pestering her ever since with it.Every time they'd ask her with those starry eyes and she just couldn't resist.But at the same time she couldn't just tell them either. No... she needed to carefully cherry pick the ones that wouldn't ruin the innocence of these kids.And even then she'd have to do quite a few alterations to them.Eventually she caved in and let out a sigh as she began."Very well...Once upon a time there was a town in Midland.This large and rich place was made by a local nobleman who was just and kind.He wanted to create a place where people would be happy and so he did.In fact he was so beloved by his subjects that each and every one of them prayed for his safety....It was after one such night of best wishes that a messenger from the Heavens themselves descended upon the nobles house and granted him one wish.He was a modest man and had nothing to ask for himself. However his wife was expecting a child.So from the angel he asked that his heir would be blessed by the angel for good luck.The feathered figure nodded and laid his hand upon the ladies belly and spoke as such:"'Your daughter will not know negligence.She'll be both the most beautiful and wise of the land!'"And it was so.The young princess was born with great fanfare and men from every corner of the land came to pay their respects to her.She grew up to be just like the messenger said. Beautiful beyond words and wiser than the oldest Magus.Everyone knew that once she took over her fathers estate the town would enter a new, even greater golden age!"Then Rukas expression darkened."But her blessing was also a curse for it attracted the attention of everyone.One cruel and powerful lord heard of her beauty and excellence and wanted it for himself.Not because he loved her oh no! That man loved one thing and one thing only: Mirrors.He thought himself the greatest amongst the great! The one man who should rule over all!And he thought such a man deserved only the best bride."
"He raised his bannermen and marched against the peaceful town!When he arrived with fire and steel he asked for an audience with the nobleman and asked for the hand of his daughter.The nobleman was no fool and knew that refusing the request would spell doom to him and his subjects.But luckily for him his daughter was a clever creature."'My good lord I'd be honored to enter wedlock with a man of great renown like you!Alas... I have so many courtiers knocking on my door and asking for my hand...It would not be fair from me to just accept your proposal so bluntly.But I have an idea! My father wished to host a tournament anyway!Instead of a meager prize the winner shall have the right to wed me!'"The lord found the proposition amusing and with a hearty laugh accepted.It was no secret to him that the young lady expected him to die in the battles or at least get gravely wounded.But his vanity was not for nothing.Despite his obsession with himself he was still a formidable warrior!One by one he cut down all that dared to challenge him be they aspiring knights, town guards seeking to protect their ladies innocence or mere peasants doing the same.When nobody else dared to enter the ring he turned around to his soon to be wife and laughed."'HAH! My lady it appears I must declare myself champion of this tourney!Now no one shall deny my rightful place by your side and on the top as the STRONGEST swordsman!'The crowd fell silent. The people mourned.But one sound pierced the grim veil of sadness.Laughter.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22DJWtIEgdk"Hah. Hah. Hah..."*clap *clap* *clap*The lord snapped at this."WHO DARES?!""All eyes turned towards the sound of the noise and looked up at one of the housetops where a figure sat.""STRIDE!"The children cried at once."Y-Yes it was Stride...He jumped off the roof and walked up to the man.He stared him straight in the eye without a hint of fear."'Me.'"He said."'So... a clown dares to challenge me?My lord is this your jester? If so you should keep him on a tighter leash!What will it be then you fool? Do you actually want to sacrifice yourself just so your lady remains out of my reach for five more seconds?''You are mistaken m'lord!I am but a humble traveling bard and I couldn't give half a shit about what orifice of that fine young wench you want to penetrate with your *ahem* mighty sword.However I did feel the need to laugh at your joke! I must admit it was quite a funny one!''You dare mock me?!''Oh no! Heavens no! Nonononono...Yes.'"The lord swung his sword horizontally but Stride bowed and ducked under it!He drew his blade in return and pointed it at the noble lord who spoke up."'A-An eastern blade?!''Ye'r right! It's called a rapier.Though I'm fond of lutes these little instruments also suit me well.Since you need great skill just to make them as effective as a longsword! So it's perfect for showing off!'
'ENOUGH!WHAT DO YOU WANT YOU KNAVE?!''Why a duel of course good sir!But not today!'Stride put away his weapon.'I do not wish to beat you when you are tired...Go and rest good lord. For tomorrow at this hour we shall have our duel!Until then go ahead! Enjoy yourself!'"With a hop the great bard disappeared from sight much to the disbelief of the peasants.He reappeared atop the town walls and reminded the lord that their duel shall take place tomorrow at that hour and that he should not be late.What happened afterwards is not well known. Only that the lord spent a night at his soon to be father in laws home, his every whim being cared for by a dozen servants.For the nobleman did not have much faith in his mysterious savior and instead wanted to get in the good graces of his new son.When the next day came the lord appeared at the arena once more."'And as we agreed my darling today we shall begin the preparations for our wedding!Oh how wonderful it will be.Hmmmm...It appears that the knave just ran after all...How pathetic.''Oh you wound me m'lord!''AHHH!How did you-When did-''Oh don't mind me my lord.You just came early. I told you exactly at this moment...Now then. Shall we begin?''O-Of course! Name your weapon then peasant!I shall use my greatsword to cut off your insolent head!I assume you'll use that toothpick?''Nope.'Stride then tossed his weapon to the ground.'Theeeen... your lute?''Nope.'He threw that away as well.'Please don't ask me if I want to fight you with my pants...''Enough of your jokes! You wanted a duel! Now you have it!NAME YOUR WEAPON!''As you wish...'Stride then pointed at the castle gate.'My weapon shall be that farmboy about to appear in 5... 4... 3... 2... One...''EVERYONE!'Suddenly every soul turned their attention to the gates where as predicted a young peasant boy ran in, screaming at the top of his lungs.'IT'S TERRIBLE!FIRE! THERE IS A FIRE!''Fire? Where?'"The people muttered as they climbed atop the walls and stormed out the gate to see what was happening.When they did many fainted, most just watched in horror and a handful of people vomited uncontrollably.The lord meanwhile was frozen in place and pale as snow.His band, his army, his siege weapons... everything was in ruin.What were once bountiful fields now looked like a slaughterhouse with people impaled, crucified, skinned alive or simply burned charcoal black.Stride patted his shoulder and spoke up."'Guess I win.'And he turned to address the crowd.'Good people of the land! I present to you the man who pillaged your homes, stole your food, ravaged your women!He's all yours!'But the lord was quick witted and turned against the angry mob with his greatsword raised.'STAY BACK! STAY BACK OR YOU'RE DEAD FILTHY PEASANTS!''Tsk tsk tsk...You still don't get it do ya?'
"With two gentle pokes, one through each shoulder Stride disarmed the man.... and watched as the angry mob tore him apart.""WOW!""STRIDE IS SO COOL!""Uuuuh... yeah...Aaaanyway...The nobleman was so taken back by this he took Strides hand and thanked him with tears flowing freely from his eyes."'THANK YOU! THANK YOU SO MUCH STRANGER!You have no idea how grateful we are!Please... for saving us... name anything in the world! Anything and by the Gods if it's within my power you'll get it!''You assume you have anything I need old man. I just wanted to see him suffer.You on the other hand...'He turned to the young lady.'How about giving me a kiss and we'll forget this ever happened?'"Hesitant at first the lady decided that her savior has earned his prize.What she didn't know is that kiss would be one she would carry with herself to the grave...One so filled with passion that not even the kiss of her one true love could be compared to it.And so with his reward Stride walked off into the sunset, the people never even learning the name of their savior."With the story over the children finally drifted asleep and Ruka sighed with relief.She bit her lips as she thought about how even this version of the story was heavily censored.If only she knew the truth...In the case of folk tales and rumors like these they tend to get wilder and wilder as they progress...Only the tales of Stride are an exception to this rule.For a normal human can not accept them as truth...And so his fables grow more and more tame over the years.Omake #5: THE END