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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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Greetings! I've been informed that some of my regulars are attending extended 4th of July activities, so this will just be a minithread, probably not a full affair. I also need time to play all the games I bought on the Steam Sale. So, let us begin!

For old threads, look here! http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Dead%20Gods%20Quest

For updates, check twitter! @Someone_else___

Elsa's Character Sheet! http://pastebin.com/ezsJzAWG (fresh and updated!)

Resident artist: Eversor_ (with random pieces by other artists)

Last time, the thread arrived at these next steps.

>Get visual descriptions of Bowler and Caliso from Asa

>Report with these updates to the king, have him send a message with Caliso's description to Admiral Dar as an extra precaution.

>Ask for a few Shadows to scout out around the warehouse where Jester is and stand watch so that Forest can't gank us again.

>Grab like 200K in cash so we can hire a few Brotherhood members to get Jester.
{Thanks, my Lady. I’ll go get Dietrich and Ekrine to help me out right away!} you think.

Asa’s reply is immediate. [Not Dietrich, you won’t. He takes Sundays off to be with his children. Ekrine works some weekends, though, if you wish to see him.]

{Oh, all right. Thank you, my Lady.}

[But, you know, my daughter, you’ve been working very hard. I think if you wanted to take a Sunday afternoon off, that would be all right.]

{Jerome got fired from his job because of my being an idiot, my Lady. I shouldn’t be taking time off.}

Your patroness’ reply is half scolding, half exasperation. [Elsa, please. That will work itself out.]

{Still! I don’t mean any disrespect, but my advantage is speed. I doubt Soutri is fully healed. I should leave the city as soon as possible.}

Asa sighs in your mind. [I can see I won’t dissuade you. Best of luck to you, then, my daughter.]

>Now that you have goals, in what order do you wish to attend to them?

>Get money to hire Brotherhood
>Ask for Shadows
>Refill ammo at armory
>Get your armor fixed and cleaned
>>Get your armor fixed and cleaned
>>Refill ammo at armory
>>Get money to hire Brotherhood
>>Ask for Shadows
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You think about the list in your hand and realize something. {My Lady, may I ask for a description of the two people on this list whom we have identified? I need to be able to pick them out of a crowd in an unfamiliar city.}

[Of course, my daughter. Wind-thief is a dark elf woman in her early thirties. I think she tapped the Well, but it was recently. She’s fairly slender, and a skilled archer.] Asa’s melodic voice pauses. [As for Jester, he is a stocky fellow, very fit. Late thirties, with some scarring around his forehead and ears. He is short but very strong, and he prefers two clubs.]

All right. Wind-thief sounds like the greater threat, but Jester will be easier to find, you imagine. {Thank you. I should speak to the King.}

Upstairs, the King’s private quarters are growing increasingly familiar. It’s not actually all that comfortable, seeing him on a Sunday morning like this, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The Shadows didn’t slow you down, but the King’s personal servants are apparently under orders to deny access to the Royal Residence. You have to wait nearly ten minutes before a slightly annoyed-looking King Maas appears in the antechamber in which you had planted yourself.

The King isn’t dressed in any sort of finery now. His daughter walks by the door as he closes it behind him, clearly trying to see what Daddy is doing. “Yes, your Eminence?” he asks.

“Sire. Lady Asa has identified the location of two more mercenaries.” You hand him the list to browse.

He glances it over once. “Hell. One is in the ports?”

“Yes, Sire.”

Maas sighs and hands the list back. “I suppose you’ll want Shadow support?”

“Yes, your Highness, and an allotment of money for hiring some Brotherhood members for covert movement,” you inform him. “Shall we say two hundred thousand?”

He nods once. “Reasonable. I will ask that you maintain discretion above all else, however,” he adds with a raised finger. “The ports on the Great River are the staging zones for the Army and Navy contingent, preparing to move south to the border fighting. The north one is more dominated by civilians. The last thing I need is a panic.”

>”I promise, I’ll be discreet.”
>”I promise nothing, Sire.”
>”I’ll do whatever it takes.”
>>”I promise, I’ll be discreet.”
“I understand, your Highness. I’ll be discreet.” You tap your finger on your Logistical Officers’ uniform. “I have friends fighting in the south. I won’t do anything to jeopardize the war effort.”

“Thank you, your Eminence,” Maas says gratefully. He seems somewhat less in his element in the residence than he did in the office. Maybe he’s just naturally at home when leading. “I will have the money sent down to your suite. How many Shadows do you want to have dispatched? Keep in mind that I can’t spare more than four or five at the most.”

“Then four, Sire, if I may,” you say. “I simply can’t risk his detecting us.”

“Of course.” Maas rubs his chin with one finger and thinks. “Hmm. Yes. Team fifteen. One Senior Legionary Shadow and his three teammates.”

“I also have the descriptions of the next two targets,” you inform him, handing him the description you jotted down after calling Asa. “The one we’re after is the male wilderness elf.”

The King accepts the notes and glances them over. “Hmph. Neither seems familiar. Pass this along to whomever you appoint to lead this team of yours, this Brotherhood and Shadow group.”

“Very well.” You recall what Asa said about Margent. “Sire, may I recommend that a message be sent with this description to Margent, to prevent the enemy from doing something foolish in the harbor? We may be able to corner her before she makes a break for it.”

Maas nods. “Wise. I will send a dispatch to Admiral Dar.”

“I’ll need my armor and weapons repaired, but the armorer in the barracks can do that,” you muse aloud. “I’ll also need ammunition, but I can get that from the stocks…”

“Then if there’s nothing else you need, I shall return to my family,” Maas says politely.

“Of course, Sire. Thank you for your time.”

Maas bows out and returns to his room.

>Go straight to the armory and get your gear straightened out
>Stop by the Suite and await the money
>>Go straight to the armory and get your gear straightened out
You won’t be fighting anyone with your gear wet and damaged. The walk down the barracks is brief, and you find your gear where you left it. Trying not to wrinkle your nose at the smell, you gather it all up and head for the armory.

The armory of any given military probably looks like this one. Behind cages and racks, piles of wargear sit, collecting dust, while the equipment people actually use gets cycled in and out under the watchful eye of the armorer, who guards their trove like a jealous parent. Your armorer is a retired Auxiliary who never mustered out, and keeps her hands on her gear like her life depends on it. Since yours actually does, you can’t fault her.

The aging human woman peers up at you as you approach with your sodden gear in hand. “What can I do for you, Sergeant?”

“Repair the damaged armor on the arms of this suit, ma’am,” you say after taking the time to salute the old Lieutenant. “This gear was exposed to acid.”

“Acid? In the Logistics Office? I doubt it,” she snorts, but she accepts your stuff anyway. After peering at it for several seconds, she looks back up at you.

“This is acid, all right. Is this your gear?”

>”It is. The uniform is a loaner.”
>”Yes, but don’t tell anyone.”
"What? You think I was sitting in an office during the riot? Got attacked by some crazy bastards with acid."
You look at her coolly. “I wasn’t behind a desk during the riot, Lieutenant. I was attacked.”

“And the gear is still wet, is it?” the officer snaps. She stares at it another moment before grumbling. “Fine. Whatever. Just leave it here. I suppose you need grenades, too?”

“I do.” You pick up the pouch she offers you with every sign of reluctance on her face. “Let’s see…”

How much ammunition do you want?

Your pouch can hold twenty bullets and fifteen grenade phials.

You may choose bullets from:

LEAD (most accurate, but heavy)
STONE (less accurate, but lighter)
CLAY (fairly accurate, light, but useless against armor)

You may choose grenades from:

CURRENT (can set off a Frag Out, electric, lethal against enemies in water, very likely lethal against everybody else)
INCENDIARY (burns through most things, but can be enchanted against)
ACID (melts any organic target, not very good against armor)
CONCENTRATED ACID (limited to 1, melts through all organics and light armor)
FRAGMENTATION (murderous against infantry, not particularly long-ranged)
TEAR GAS (incapacitates. Bandana can be used as breath mask, but eye protection will be needed for close-in use)
FLARE (incapacitates with brilliant light and deafening sound, nonlethal)
15 lead bullets
5 stone bullets

2 current
3 incendiary
4 acid
1 concentrated acid
5 fragmentation
3 tear gas
2 flare
That's twenty grenades. You can hold fifteen.

2 current
2 incendiary
3 acid
1 concentrated acid
3 fragmentation
2 tear gas
2 flare
looks good
With your arsenal selected, you tuck it away. Before you can even ask, the armorer has already held up a hand. “Don’t bother, Sergeant, it will take at least six hours,” she says flatly.

“I appreciate it, ma’am,” you say with another salute. It never hurts to be polite to the armory staff.

Your next destination is the suite. You pop in to see if the money had been deposited in your absence – it has.

Your family is there, with Jerome this time, and they’re all eating lunch. Darril looks up as you walk in. “Hey, Elsa. Tuna?”

“Thanks.” You sit and grab a portion. “It looks like my next target is in warehouse country, up north, on the river. I’ll probably be gone for a day or two while I hunt the guy down.”

“Well, be safe,” Coby says, looking worriedly at you. “Are you going to go alone?”

“No, no, I’ve learned my lesson,” you chuckle. “I’m bringing a few Brothers for backup and some Shadows for security.”

“Amazing,” Laura says, shaking her head. “That you can call on that kind of reinforcement, it’s amazing.”

You tilt your head and think about that. “Well… to be honest, it kind of isn’t. Members of the Legion were that tough, they just all got sent south. The Brotherhood, they’re crazy tough, but they don’t really fight in Legion strength.”

“I guess, but it must still be humbling,” Belle says.

“Oh yeah. Calling on Asa even moreso. Which, I admit, is odd.”

“Odd how?” Coby asks.

“Being able to ask Asa for advice when I need it,” you say. “It’s…”

>”Intimidating to have a being like that listening to me.”
>”Reassuring to be able to call on her.”
>”Annoying to have that voice in my head sometimes.”
>”Something I’m getting used to.”
i dunno i abstain
>”Reassuring to be able to call on her.”
You grin into your food as you think about all the times that she managed to help you. “It’s reassuring to be able to call on her like that. And I can tell she missed it. She likes having somebody to talk to, you know? It probably gets very lonely, having only the dead around.”

“I imagine,” Jerome says. He sits in silence for another few seconds before speaking again. “So, Elsa… about what you said before. I think I’d prefer to look for my own job, you know? I mean, I appreciate the offer, but… I want to own this.”

“I understand,” you say. He shakes his head.

“Problem is, this damn hit man. He has to know we’re here, now. I can move around the city if I’m taking the tunnels, but do you think it’s safe for me to do it alone?”

>”I’d prefer you have someone go with you.”
>”Yes, it should be.”

>”I’d prefer you got like, a job in the castle or something.”
”I’d prefer you have someone go with you. But if you must then only go out during the day and stick to populated streets.”

inb4 an assassin pokes him with a poison needle in a crowd
“Well, to be honest, I’d prefer you got a job in the castle, still, whether I was there to help you get it or not,” you admit. You see him tense up, but forge ahead. “But, if you insist, I think it would be safe for you to go about the city without somebody else with you, as long as it’s daylight and in a populated area. At night, I wouldn’t risk going out without backup. Certainly I won’t.”

He relaxes again. “Good. That’s what I was planning.”

The rest of the meal is a rush, and as soon as it’s done, you grab the money and dust yourself off. “All right. I should be going.”

“Where are you off to?” your father asks. “Off to the docks already?”

“No, I’m off to contact Master Culler and request some backup for this mission,” you inform them. “I pulled a few hundred thousand from the flash money I seized from one of the other guys. I don’t know how many people that’ll earn me, but it should be enough for some muscle.”

The others look at each other. “Flash money?” Laura asks.

“I captured a pile of cash from one of the mercenaries,” you say. “He was laundering it for the other crooks. The King has it. He says I can use it to hire mercenaries of my own if I need them.”

Laura’s eyes widen. “Amazing. What will happen to it afterward?”

“Probably go to the war effort,” you say with a shrug. “Anyway. Come tomorrow, it’s probably safe for you all to go to your jobs, so long as you use the tunnel and don’t stay out after dark.”

“Good. Think it’s safe to visit our houses?” Darril wants to know.

You pause. “…Probably, but ask me to have a Guard do it instead if you think you should,” you answer.

>Perform (task) before going to see Culler
>Go see Culler now
>Go see Culler
>Stare out into the sky, contemplate things.
“I guess that’s fair,” Darril says resignedly. “Safety first.”

On that note, you duck out onto the streets. It feels a little incongruous to be out and about right after your warnings, but going around the city on foot is a task you can’t avoid, with your mission in mind.

The Sunday crowd is slow and sparse. The damage from the riot is nearly all cleaned up, which is refreshing. The people pulled together to restore what was damaged in the fighting. Maybe they bought Maas’ story.

The Brotherhood Chapter house is just as decorated as ever, with its black and gold flowers undimmed by the coming winter. The doors are wide open, and several Brothers and Sisters are eating a lunch on the steps when you arrive, chatting and relaxing. They stand over the crowds on the streets like towering giants, despite their normal height, just by the virtues of their total confidence.

You walk past them with a hiding grin. That confidence will come in handy.

The receptionist looks up from a plate of pasta to greet you as you arrive. “Ah, Sergeant. May I assume you wish to see the Master?”

“I do indeed, thank you,” you say politely. She has no business assuming anything.

“Very well. Master Culler is entertaining Master Lendwael in the courtyard, if you wish to leave a message with him,” she informs you.

He has guests? Not good.

>Wait for his guest to depart
>Just go right back

saw this too late, hang tight
>Wait for his guest to depart
>>Wait for his guest to depart
>>Just go right back
Wait. But go see who his guest is and wait off to the side.
As much as you’re in a hurry, it’s not time to interrupt whomever Culler is meeting. You slip out back into the courtyard and sit unobtrusively in one corner of the area with the fountain, looking around for Culler’s distinctive robes.

After a minute of searching, you spot him: he’s sitting near the arbors under the meeting hall’s windows. He and his guest are sipping something in tumblers and chatting amicably, though you can’t hear him from here.

His guest is interesting. He’s wearing ankle-length robes, colored in black and green, with a pattern that reminds you of a checkerboard, but diagonally spaced, so his whole robe looks like it’s covered in diamonds. The guest is an elf, light elf male by the looks, and in his late eighties. Of course, he’s probably tapped the Well, so he could be four hundred years old.

His Brotherhood cloak is immaculate, with a frankly intimidating number of pins and awards around the clasps for the neck chain. His belt has a gilded compass on the buckle – he’s a Master of the Explorers’ Guild as well as a Brotherhood Chapter Master. Impressive.

>What do you do?
Wait patiently, no eavesdropping.
The meeting runs on for several more minutes. As you wait, you draw your cap down over your ears and huddle. The cold winter is coming on fast.

The clouds shift and cast a rare ray of autumnal sun down over the courtyard. The Brothers and Sisters in the archery range shift their caps and hats to block out the sun, but you tilt your head back and enjoy the feeling of the sun on your face again.

It’s a contemplative kind of day, overall, you muse. The fight with Soutri, the meetings with the King... it all feels so momentous, after the fact at least. The memories of Heralds from the past are quiet while you’re wide awake, but you’re remembering them when you dream, now. Maybe it will always happen. That’s not a pleasant thought.

Still. You lean forward and stare into the mossy cobblestone below, lost in thought. Maybe you can learn from those memories. Maybe you can accelerate your own abilities’ manifesting without having to wait, and have your brand expand…

“Your Eminence?”

You look up in surprise to see Master Culler standing beside you, alone. “Madam, I saw you arrive and sit here. Thank you for not interrupting. I assume you were here to see me?” he asks.

>”I was, sir. May I ask with whom you were meeting?”
>”I was, sir. May I ask with whom you were meeting?”
You stand up and dust off your knees. “I was, sir. May I ask with whom you were meeting?”

Culler nods slowly. “Indeed, indeed. That was Master Jerec Lendwael, a Chapter Grandmaster of the Brotherhood and the fifth in command of the Explorers’ Guild.”

You nearly stumble as realization hits you. “Oh, blast! I should have asked him about the Explorer in the woods!”

Culler blinks. “What?”

“When I witnessed the exchange in the woods, the one selling the weapons was a Master Explorer!” you groan. “Oh, I should have spoken to him…”

The old Brother shakes his head. “I shall send him a dispatch he will see when he returns to his home office, if you wish, but I doubt this Explorer of yours is stationed in Master Lendwael’s home city, Kepple. I doubt he’s Cenderian at all.”

You force your annoyance back. “Right. Thank you.”

“So. What did you want to ask me?” Culler inquires, trying to steer your conversation back on course.

>”To be blunt, I urgently need to hire some of your Brothers to capture a member of the conspiracy.”
>”I don’t feel comfortable discussing this outdoors.”

>”To be blunt, I need to hire some of your Brothers to capture a member of the conspiracy.”

Is it really urgent? We want the shadows to scout the place out first.
>>”I don’t feel comfortable discussing this outdoors.”

Better safe than sorry.
You glance around the courtyard. There’s nobody but the Brothers and Sisters here, and they’re discreet. “To be blunt, sir, we’ve cornered two conspirators,” you say quietly. “I would like to hire some Brothers to neutralize them with me in the lead, and a team of four Shadows in cover.”

Culler nods, his face darkening. “Hmm. I suppose I should object on principle to your using us as mercenaries, but I suppose that’s what we are,” he says with dark humor. “Very well. Where are these conspirators?”

“One is in Margent, one in the warehouse area on the river to the north,” you say.

His eyes narrow. “I should hardly bother with the Margent one. We have a Chapter house there. But the one in the warehouses… that’s a three-day round-trip on horseback, maybe five times that on foot. That will cost more than Cassandra charged you.”

“Two hundred thousand?” you ask.

Culler peaks an eyebrow. “Indeed. I suggest- strongly – that you seek to hire a small group of less-experienced Brothers who would be willing to ride for that kind of money. I mean no offense, but that’s not really combat pay for more experienced Brothers.”

>Offer more, then go get some extra cash from the King
>”Good. I don’t need war heroes, so this works fine for me.”
>”Good. I don’t need war heroes, so this works fine for me.”
As long as they go in first
>>”Good. I don’t need war heroes, so this works fine for me.”
“With respect, sir, I don’t expect this mission to need the finest soldiers alive,” you say politely. Which is appropriate, since Garren fits that title better. “I’d like to hire that group of relatively less experienced men, so long as it’s clear who’s in charge.”

He nods, intrigued. “Indeed? Well, I suppose it’s good experience for the Brothers. I’d recommend you hire Brother Hart, Brother Auvi, and Sister Wind-thief.”

Your heart stops. “…I’m sorry, Sister who?”

“Sister Wind-thief,” Culler repeats. “Do you know her?”

“There… is a very good chance that she’s the mercenary in Margent,” you manage.

Culler recoils, aghast. “What? Madness! She’s right over there!” he says, pointing at the Sister in question, who is lounging on a third-floor balcony, reading a book.

“A sister, then? I mean, a sibling?” you press.

“Well, possibly,” Culler says. “She is the oldest of three… perhaps you should ask?”

>Go talk to her
>Ask for another recommendation
>Page Asa to ask if Wind-thief has a sister
>>Page Asa to ask if Wind-thief has a sister
Also what kind of family name is Wind-thief? I thought it was an alias name like Hooks or Feathers.
>>Page Asa to ask if Wind-thief has a sister

Might as well check.
lol coincidence
>Page Asa to ask if Wind-thief has a sister
Nope, it's a family name.

To make it simple, there are entire tribes of wild elves and humans in the forests of the world that haven't really integrated much. It's one of the reasons the Circle is so widely distrusted: they CLAIM they want to live as the Gods desired, but they cling to the trappings of society. There are packs of nomadic ice-dwelling humans and cave-dwelling elves all over Tarsh. Wind-thief is probably a close descendent of one of those tribes.

There are entire cultures I have mapped out that I want to show you all, but Anon is racing through this quest at a break-neck speed. I accounted for that, but you won't get to see much setting unless I railroad you into it, which I would never do.
sounds like novel fodder.
You slip your hand up under your cap. {My lady, this Wind-thief on the list. Does she have a sister?}

[She does, in fact, and a brother. I don’t know where they are.]

You groan under your breath. {Her sister is a member of the Brotherhood in Clen.}

[Oh dear.] Asa hesitates for a moment. [I advise you tell her. Quietly. Privately. She deserves to know.]

{She won’t tell?}

[Not if you’re honest.]

You look back at Culler, torn. He’s looking rather disturbed, himself. “What did Lady Asa say?” he asks.

“That I should tell her.” You sigh and stare up at the autumn clouds, hoping they’ll have some good ideas. Sadly, they’re lacking.

>Go and speak to her at once
>Go and speak to her at some other date
>Hire her and bring her along so you have a chance to observe her


>Hire the other two
>Ask for Cassandra or some other member you know from before
>>Go and speak to her at once
>>see how she reacts before offering to hire her.
>>Hire the other two
>>Go and speak to her at once
Go to Culler's office and ask Culler to bring her there. Tell her, see what her reaction is.

Ask Cassandra if she's willing to go for the not so great pay and fill up the rest of the party with the less experienced Brothers. If she's not willing then ask if she has any suggestions on who to bring.
>Go and speak to her at once

>Hire the other two
>Ask if Culler has any other newbies
One thing is clear. The Brotherhood has a member who has ties to a dangerous conspiracy. You can’t allow that to continue.

You turn to Culler with a heavy heart. “We have to tell her,” you say quietly. “She deserves to know.”

The old Master rubs his hand over his eyes. “I agree.” He looks up at the young woman with ache in his eyes and written in every line on his sun-beaten face. “Well… follow me.”

The two of you walk in silence through the halls of the Chapter House, picking your way through what few groups of Brothers are on-site. Some are pretty badly wounded, actually, and you wonder what happened on the roads. Maybe they were attacked by bandits. Certainly this country has enough of those.

You reach the third floor and walk out onto the broad balcony, where Wind-thief has one leg up on the railing and a book in her hand. She’s wearing no armor, but her robe is wide open at the neck and waist, with only a few buttons holding her modesty together. She clearly holds to the ‘if you have it, flaunt it’ school of fashion when not in battle, because her stomach and parts of her upper chest are covered in tattoos of fish and snakes, in a distinctly tribal pattern, and they don’t harm her considerable physique in the slightest.

She looks up and grins as Culler precedes you out onto the balcony. “Master. How was the meeting?”

“Productive, I’m glad to say,” Culler says with the ghost of a grin. “The Grandmaster is a brilliant man.”

“He is.” She turns the smile at you as you follow him out. “Ah, a new Sister?”

“No, just an ally,” you say quickly.

She snorts in sudden derision. “The Brotherhood doesn’t have allies, Sergeant.”

“Not in the military,” you mutter under your breath.

Culler sits down in the other chair on the balcony and leans in towards her. “Sister, I’m afraid I’ve received some disturbing news regarding your family.”

Wind-thief – you realize you don’t know her first name – sighs and shakes her head. “Let me guess. My idiot brother got arrested for vagrancy again? If he keeps walking off of jobs, I’m going to stop paying his bail.”

“It’s your sister,” Culler corrects gently. “She’s mixed up with the wrong crowd.”

Wind-thief marks her place in the book and sets it down. “How do you mean?” she asks, suddenly not jovial at all.

>Let Culler do all the talking
>Explain about the conspiracy
>Only explain that you have ironclad evidence of her being a major criminal
>Explain about the conspiracy
>>Only explain that you have ironclad evidence of her being a major criminal

Can't say how deep she is, but she is certainly breaking some major laws.
Asa told us if we were honest, this sister wouldn't talk about it
So let's be honest
“What’s your first name, miss?” you ask.

“Everi,” the dark elf says. “My sister is Arla. We’re second-generation Cenderians.” She leans forward in her seat. “What did my sister do?”

“Sister Everi, your sister is involved with a very, very dangerous criminal organization,” you say carefully. “One that I’ve tangled with several times.”

Her jaw drops. “What? She’s just a mercenary!”

“She hired herself out to a group that was ambushing and killing Merchants’ Guild convoys on the dwarven highways,” you say.

Culler takes over. “She found out that the Army was after her and ran to Margent. She’s connected with killing over eight hundred people.”

Wind-thief looks at you one at a time, then looks down at the floor… and then looks up at the sky, tears pouring from her eyes. She sobs once, tries to speak, then breaks down. “No… my sister is a murderer? Arlie?”

“She ran to try to escape the country,” you say, as gently as possible. “Do you know where she’d be trying to go?”

The poor elf sinks back in her chair, heaving with sobs. “That’s not possible!” she moans.

“It happened, ma’am. I’m sorry,” you say.

She suddenly snaps her head down. “Wait. Wait. Eight hundred people? The Home Auxilia attack?”

“That was her gang, yes,” you say. “Her, and eleven others. Now twelve, they’re recruiting.”

Wind-thief leans back forward and drapes her arms over her legs. “…Insane,” she mutters. “She must be insane!” She looks back up at you and fixes you in her deep blue eyes. “Can you bring me along when you go to… get her? I may be able to talk some sense into her!”

>”What, so we can execute her?”
>”What do you think you’ll say?”
>”I commit to nothing until the attack itself. I have a higher-priority target first.”
>”Hell no.”
>>”I commit to nothing until the attack itself. I have a higher-priority target first.”

being honest
"Depending on what she has done, she may be executed. Are you still willing to convince her to come quietly if that may be her fate?"
“I don’t mean to be crass, Sister, but I may well have to kill her,” you say. “I mean, do you really want to be there if that’s the case?”

She rises to her feet. “Careful, grunt,” she says quietly.

“Sit down at once, Sister,” Culler says. Wind-thief sits without complaint. “The Sergeant is right. Her crimes merit the death penalty.”

“That… that won’t matter,” Wind-thief says with some difficulty. “I will find a way to get her to come home. Whether that’s for a trial or not… I’ll deal with it.”

“I can’t commit to bringing you until we finish off her partner,” you say, kicking yourself. Could you have been less sensitive? “For that, Master, I wish to take you up on your offer.”

“Yes.” Culler sighs heavily. “Well. The Brothers I stand by. Sister Cassandra has returned, as well, and I’m sure she’d work for you again, but she will charge far more than the Brothers would charge. You would need to increase your budget.”

Wind-thief’s head sinks into her hands as Culler talks. “Are you sure?” she asks the floor. “I mean, really sure?”

>”I have divine confirmation.”
>”Do you really want to know?”
>divine ability
>>”Do you really want to know?”
File: MaulWow-5.png (637 KB, 1024x819)
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“Do you really want me to explain how I know so accurately?” you ask softly. “Or would you rather ask her?”

She glares at you through her fingers, but she gets the point. “All right,” she sighs. “Contact me when you get back… or I swear I’m finding her on my own.”

All right, I'm to bed. If it's here tomorrow, I'll keep going.

Have fresh art!

It'll be here tomorrow. Trust me on this.

As I said.
O nice, fresh art
This is a busy day for me, but I'll be updating when I can.
Well, that was unpleasant.

You and Culler head back inside and leave the young Sister to her thoughts. “Do you still wish to hire some of my Brothers and Sisters for the battle?” Culler asks.

“Absolutely,” you say. “I can still offer two hundred thousand. Is Cassandra around? Maybe I can bargain her down to a third.”

Culler coughs into his hand. “That isn’t how it works, your Eminence. Cassandra is one of the best scouts in the country. You will pay what she charges.”

“Worth a try.” You shrug and move on. “Then direct me to these others, Hart and Auvi.”

You follow Culler through the well-appointed halls until you arrive in a small room that apparently serves as the Brotherhood’s vice dispensary, judging by the wet bar, dartboards, game tables, and velvet seats. You browse the room with your eyes, wondering which people in the room might be your new partners.

Culler guides you to one young light elf man at a table, casually rolling a chip over his fingers. “Brother Hart, have you a moment?” he asks.

Hart glances up at the both of you. “Sure. What can I do for you, Master?”

Culler waits until Hart stands before replying. “A trip to the warehouses on the northern fork.”

The young elf’s eyebrows peak. “Ah, the Army needs a job done, sir?”

“Auxilia,” you correct. “Search and capture.”

“Interesting.” The Brother has a stronger sense of modesty than Wind-thief, which isn’t a hard thing to find. His cloak is draped over his chair, and his leather armor shimmers at the seams. Enchanted thread instead of enchanted leather? Interesting choice. Maybe he had it waterproofed. “Am I working alone?”

“Two Brothers and four Shadows, plus me,” you inform him. “You and the others split two hundred thousand. Cash, upfront.”

“Now you’re talking my language,” he says confidently. Confidence radiates from the man, which is perhaps slightly troubling, as Culler described him as ‘inexperienced.’ “Who else is with me?”

“Brother Auvi and Sister Donali,” Culler lists.

Hart immediately shakes his head. “No can do, sir. Donali was hired for an escort gig. Dried fish convoy to Kepple. Her former partner, Gannet, she’s around.”

“Very well.” Culler tilts his head and adopts a stern expression. “Sure you can keep your hands off her on the road?”

Hart adopts a wounded pose. “I’m so very hurt, Master.”

“Right.” Culler turns to you. “I’ll find the others. Meet me in my office in five minutes, Sergeant.”

“Yes, sir.” Culler takes his leave as you turn back to your new ally.

“So, Sergeant… might I ask why a Logistician is taking point on a capture operation?” Hart asks mildly.

>”Not in a room full of people, no.”
>”Don’t ask.”
>”Wait until Culler has us all, I hate repeating myself.”
>”Wait until Culler has us all, I hate repeating myself.”
You give the cocky young warrior a cool smile. “Let’s wait until Culler has us all tracked down, eh? I dislike repetition.”

He chuckles. “Fair enough. Want to play a hand of cards while we wait?”

“No, thank you. What’s your fighting style?” you ask. “I need to know, to balance the team.”

He taps the bare patch of leather at his hip. “Cutlass and buckler. Good combination for fighting in roads, ships, that sort of thing. Throwing knives for ranged, if I need them.”

“Good to know.” You nod a farewell to him and make your way down to Culler’s office, where another Brother is waiting.

He looks you over with skepticism on his youthful features. “You Sergeant Ledren?” he asks.

“I am.”

“Hmm.” He looks away again, fingering the string for a bow he has loose in his hands. “Culler says you’re hiring us if we want in.”

“That’s correct,” you confirm. You look him over in turn. He’s a human, male, with a camouflage jacket on under his cloak, which he’s decorated with a variety of seemingly-random strips of matte black fabric. “You must be Brother Auvi.”

The Brother peers over at you suspiciously. “How’d you know?”

“The Master told me,” you say, taken aback. What’s his problem. “You must be a ranged fighter,” you say, just to fill the air.

“Yeah.” He looks away again.

>Wait in silence
>Try to strike up conversation
>Try to strike up conversation
Soooooo, what experience do you have?
The silence is about as awkward as silence can be. You try your best to break it. “So… what sort of experience do you have on this sort of secure and capture mission?” you ask.

He shifts his shoulders a bit under his cloak. “Not much, but I know the area around the north fork pretty well. I was born there.”

“Oh, good.” You nod at the arrival of something safe to discuss. “I’m a Clenner, myself. What sort of work do you do for the Brotherhood?”

“I don’t,” he says, still looking away. “This is the first time I’ve been called to work for the Brotherhood itself. I usually work by myself, out doing whatever.”

“Oh, I see. Well, I suppose you’re really working for the Auxilia,” you say.

“Hmph. I had enough of the Auxilia when I served in it,” he grunts. “Judge said I might like it more than work camps. Dunno what he was thinking.”

Oh, good, a convict conscript. He had better be worth it, you think to yourself.

At that point, Culler arrives with your third new friend in tow. She’s human, too, looking fresh from her teens, and wearing the kind of slightly-nervous but unrestrained grin that says she’s thrilled to be alive, at all times. It’s better than cocky arrogance and shiftiness, at least. Her blonde hair is cut short, almost identical to yours, and she has the ridged leather spaulders and high-cut robes of a journeyman war mage.

“Ah, Brother Auvi, welcome,” Culler says. “I see you’ve met Sergeant Ledren.”

Auvi finally looks at something other than the wall. “Yeah.”

“May I introduce Sister Gannet Ainsley, the newest member of our Brotherhood chapter?” he asks, directing her attention to you. “Sergeant Elsa Ledren, a specialist of the Cenderian Auxiliaries, and the leader of this expedition.”

Gannet beams and clasps your hands. “A pleasure, ma’am,” she gushes.

Well, this is certainly more pleasant. “Just Sergeant, please, I’m no officer,” you say politely. You return the shake and step back. “May I assume that robe means that you’re a war mage?”

“I am! Good call,” she says cheerfully. “I’m a Current specialist, but I had no interest in Utility work, so I joined the Brotherhood with my partner from the Academy. She’s off on some mission, but I’d be happy to work with you until she gets back from Kepple and we can head out.”

Talkative is better than silent and surly, at least. Hart appears at the top of the stairs and climbs down, hands at his newly-reacquired weapons. “Master, are we all assembled?” he asks.

“We are.” Culler lets you all into his office and shuts it behind you. “Well,” he says as he sits at his desk and directs you all to chairs. “How do you wish to proceed, Sergeant?”

>Inform them outright that this is a secret mission for the King
>Actually tell them about Asa so they don’t find out the hard way in battle
>Let Culler do the talking (leave it up to him)
>Swear them all to secrecy no matter what other option you choose
>Inform them outright that this is a secret mission for the King
You stand next to Culler’s desk and meet their eyes in turn, which takes effort with Auvi. “Gentlemen, lady. The mission I’ve been assigned comes directly from King Maas. We are to capture and secure a criminal who is responsible for the attack in the forest against the Second Home Auxilia Battalion last week.”

Their reactions are interesting. Auvi looks up in surprise, Gannet gasps, and Hart just grins. Culler takes over. “Needless to say, you are all to remain silent about the order outside this room. We can’t risk him making a break for it.”

“Who is it?” Gannet asks. Her interjection seems to throw Culler for a moment, but he presses on.

“His name is Derek “Jester” Bowler, and he is a mercenary of some skill,” he supplies.

“He fights with two clubs, up close and personal,” you add. “He’s in the warehouse district to the north, looking for a way out of the country.”

“How was he located?” Gannet asks.

“Please let the Sergeant speak, Sister,” Culler says mildly.

She shrinks back. “Sorry.”

“We know where he is because we killed another conspirator who knew where he was, and we found his location at the first man’s house,” you supply. Telling them about Asa will have to wait until you’re on the roads. “We leave in a day or two, once the Shadows are done deploying their people.”

“Capture? Not kill?” Auvi asks.

“Correct, but kill if he can’t be taken without collateral damage,” you say. “We just want to interrogate him more than we want to bury him.”

“Fair enough,” Hart puts in.

>Any questions you want to ask?
We don't have any questions for them. Shouldn't this be where they ask us questions?
Or you could ask them. You could also ask Culler anything you wanted to.

If nobody has any questions, that's fine, just say 'proceed.'
yeah just proceed
Surprised they didn't ask why a logistics sergeant has this mission. Proceed on. Probably ask later on the road
Then here's a question for you all. Do you want to wait until Elsa's new enchanted Shadow armor is done on Tuesday, or just leave tomorrow morning, Monday, when her normal armor is repaired?
Monday. The Shadows we sent ahead should have scouted already, so we shouldn't need to sneak, just get briefed by them and storm in.
Tomorrow morning. As awful as going without the super special armor seems, speed vital. The more time we waste the more time the conspiracy members have to set up traps or try escaping.

Does the Brotherhood have any armor we could borrow or rent?
The Shadows haven't been sent ahead. They're not even rallied yet. You'll be meeting them when you leave.

If you want to ask for armor you can borrow, you can just go ask the armorer who enchanted your armor last time you were here.
Normal armor is already enchanted. It'll probably be okay. I doubt the Brotherhood would be willing to lend us anything better than what we already have without a huge deposit, or even outright deny it "We're not an armory! We're the prestigious Brotherhood blah blah"

Normal armor will do. Tell our newbie Brothers to start prepping for the trip. We'll go sent the Shadows ahead of us. Headstart + being all Shadowy they'll probably get there hours before we do.
Very well! I'm preparing for a Fourth of July bash, so check back for my post in about an hour.
“If nobody else has questions, then I think we can talk timing,” you say. “The mission starts tomorrow morning. Rally at the parade grounds for the castle. If you have a horse, bring it. If not, ask me to borrow one for you.”

“Why is a Logistics NCO leading this mission?” Auvi asks suspiciously.

Culler is about to shush him when you speak up. “This is just my day job. Any other questions?”

“No, Sergeant,” Gannet says for them all. “We’ll meet you after breakfast for the horses.” She beams a smile as the others stand up to leave. “Won’t let you down.”

After the others have left, you turn to Culler and pull a face. He shrugs, an awfully casual gesture from the old Master. “They’re new, I know, but they’ve got great potential. They also need to learn some respect for the military, especially Auvi. He’s not stupid, but he can be bitter.”

“I gathered,” you mutter.

>Drop in on the Circle for last-minute instructions for our absence/check out their warehouse
>Drop in on Garren to get her appraised
>Drop in on house to retrieve/deposit items
>>Drop in on the Circle for last-minute instructions for our absence/check out their warehouse
>>Drop in on Garren to get her appraised
>Check out the Circle's warehouse
“Then I’ll take my leave,” you say. You deposit the money on his desk. “Here. I don’t really think it’s appropriate of me to ask who gets how much, but make sure they get it.”

“I shall, thank you,” Culler says. “Good luck, your Eminence. May I ask why you didn’t tell them who you really are?”

You hesitate for a moment. “I honestly couldn’t tell you. I want to keep this covert, but sometimes I wonder why I’m bothering. It’s even odds that everybody in the conspiracy knows by now.”

“Well, it’s your life, your Eminence,” he says sagely. “Good luck out there.”

The clouds are peeling back under the afternoon sun by the time you reach the streets again. You decide to head over to Arisa’s house to make sure she’s kept in the loop.

The house itself is all but full of people when you arrive, interestingly enough. Some of the guests look like Merchants. As you walk up, the same doorman as before waves you in, and you push through a departing crowd to reach your ersatz ally.

She looks up from a bag in her hands when you walk in. “Elsa, your Ladyship, hello,” she says, setting the bag down. It clinks like coins when she does. “I was just entertaining. Some tea?”

“Thank you, I’d like that,” you say, accepting a cup. “Who were those Merchants’ Guildsmen I saw?”

“Just bankers.” Arisa pours herself a cup and drops in some sugar. “I invest in various local companies that look favorably on our group. It’s how I have time to lead the Circle in these strange days; if I worked a full work schedule, I wouldn’t have the time do it.”

“Ah.” You swirl the tea in your cup as you parse your words. “I was wondering if you would be willing to allow me access that warehouse, the one you mentioned before.”

She nods. “I had that key cut, as I promised.” She rises and digs through a drawer near the sink. “Hmmm… ah, here we go. This will let you in the main door. There’s a single security guard, but just show him your brand and he’ll think you’re just another recruit. If you’d prefer not to, I can write you a pass, my Lady. He just wants to prevent art thieves, you understand.”

>”No, thanks.”

It'd be easiest
“I’d appreciate it,” you say gratefully. “And please let me say that I’m relieved you’re so willing to help me.”

“How could I not?” she modestly asks. “Besides, it is an honor.”

“Thank you.” You sip your tea and sit back in the chair, watching her face. She looks very tired. “How are those younger members?”

“Restless,” she admits. “They didn’t calm down after the riot like the civilians did. They’re talking about leaving to Margent and starting over.”

“A schism? Troubling.” You think about your options, trying to find a way to make things easier for the both of you. “Listen, Arisa… the possibility exists that my enemies have determined who and what I really am. If they go public, I promise I’ll help you with your divisions.”

“I appreciate that, but how much time will you have to help?” she asks. “The King will be fighting for his life, trying to keep the people in line and the borders secure.”

“Yes, but I answer to a higher power,” you say calmly. “I help my friends.”

She smiles into her cup. “Thank you for saying that.”

You finish your tea and small talk and take your leave, making your way to the corner of Alderdres and Memorial, looking for the warehouse. It’s a part of the city you’ve never been, and it takes a few switchbacks before you finally find the place.

The warehouse is a small, tidy structure in the industrial sector of the Merchants’ Quarter. This whole stretch of the city is a mishmash of modern and classical architecture, rich merchants and poor workers, Guard patrols and famous artists. The World Headquarters of the Philosophers’ Guild is here, and the building dominates the whole sector with its sweeping, minimalist spires, its lavish libraries, and its renowned classrooms and laboratories. The place is known as a meeting place of those professors who seek to best balance ethics and research in natural and classical philosophy, and are known to have something of a friendly rivalry with the Alchemists’ Guild and Mages’ Guild, who do all manner of research themselves.

The warehouse has only one small door and a larger one for loading wagons. They’re both locked, but your key lets you in to the smaller one.

As you walk in, you wrinkle your nose at the smell of charcoal and coffee. The charcoal is for keeping the air dry. The coffee must be for the guard, because his job is inestimably boring.

In fact, there he is, rising from a chair in a small booth behind the door and rubbing his eyes. “State your business,” he mumbles.

You lift your cap and show him your brand. “I’m with Arisa. I’m here to view the gallery.”

“Oh, all right. Head on back,” the old elf says, and sits right back down to read his book.

Well, that was easy.

>Look for ancient artifacts of a non-artistic nature first
>Look for ancient weapons
>Look for ancient artworks
>Look for history books
>look for (writein)
>>Look for ancient weapons
>Look for ancient weapons
And let's turn on And All the World Shall Sing. Nothing wrong with making people happy.
You head for a small display of weapons behind a shield of thick glass. The display is lit with a single glowstone, and it casts harsh shadows over the edges of the ancient weapons

Some are recreations, like the grenades – those would have inactivated over the millennia – but the blades are real. You peer into the case and spot a blade that you remember from your dream of Airo: a Goblin hack-knife. The short, serrated blade was meant for sliding in between plates of dwarf armor.

“Wow,” you murmur.

“Something to see, isn’t it?” the guard calls over. “Name’s Roland, by the way.”

“Hello, Roland, I’m Elsa.” You look over some of the other weapons – a Cepro rapier, a Spireling transformation knife, a dwarven Warhammer – and stare. “What an amazing collection.”

“I know, right?” he asks. He rises to his feet and wanders over, perhaps hoping to impress a pretty young woman. “The interesting parts are the pommels and grips. See the marks?”

You squint and make out the shapes of crosses, Xs, and hatches on nearly all of them. “What does it mean?”

He smiles knowledgably. “They were part of the holy armies. These are crusader weapons.”

“Wow. All of them?”

“Well, not all the grenades and Spireling gear, but the rest, sure.” He points out a strange device that looks like three animal claws attached to a loop of metal and a leather strap. “The Harpies made those to fit over their wingtips, above their real claws. Sliced through armor like paper.”

“Where did we get all this?”

“Oh, around. Marketeers who don’t know what they have, museums that are selling stock, that sort of thing,” he says modestly.

As he talks, you feel something shift inside you. The world doesn’t look different, but… it’s almost like the lights flickered when you thought about the memory of Airo in hell. Curious, you think about something else horrible – the first time you got dumped – and the lights dim again.

“At least the world is rid of that sort of violence,” you say solemnly.

He nods in agreement. “Oh, yes. The one good thing about all that fighting.”

You point at a small statue in the corner. “That doesn’t look like a weapon.”

“Good eye. It isn’t. That’s a map marker, used to mark positions on table-top strategy maps,” Roland says.

As he starts talking about ancient strategy and the like, you turn your thoughts to happier times. The thrill of buying a house with Jerome, the cheerful sun on your face when you got some leave and took a vacation with your parents in your first year of service, the bliss of the memory of heaven… and Roland’s old, lined face lights up with an unconscious grin.

It should feel a bit odd to be influencing the world like that, but it doesn’t. It feels good, almost like intuition.

>Look at the history books
>Look at some other artifact
>Take your leave
>Look at the history books
Look for mentions of that teleportation device Soutri has.
>>Look at the history books

interesting, sounds like there's some nice things here, though probmatic if in the wrong hands, though Roland sounds like someone who'd be against wrongful uses of such.
The next target is the history book collection. As you head over, though, you see that several of them have crumbled to the point that they can’t even be safely opened. Roland notes your disappointment. “If you’d like, Elsa, there are translated versions of some of the older books on that shelf over there,” he says, pointing at a small collection of tomes.”

“Oh, good, thanks.” You recall the fight with Soutri and that teleporter of his. “Think there’s anything about those old Spireling weapons? Teleporters, that sort of thing?”

He stares into the books with a pensive look on his face. “Hmm. Maybe. Let me check.” He walks up to one of the books and checks the spine. “Not this one… anything with the words ‘Hierarchs All Fallen’ would be about the Spirelings. It’s a reference to their weird old alchemic weapons.”

You examine the bookshelf, but only find one book with those words on the title. “Here’s one…” You pry it open and glance through the chapter list. “Only one reference here.”

“What does it say?”

You page through to the appropriate chapter and start in on the tiny print. “Hmm. Looks like the Spirelings used them for courier work before the mine they used to create the potion ingredients went dry. They’re fragile, too, so they lost the means to replace them.”

“I bet. I’ve heard there aren’t any left in the world,” Roland says. Oh, if only.

“They can’t carry passengers, just the bearer. Good to know,” you say under your breath.

“What’s with the history lesson?” Roland asks curiously.

>”Just researching something for my cover job in the military.”
>”Arisa asked me to check on things.


>Look through the other artifacts for a copy of that headdress piece Haret gave you
>Look for (other thing you’ve encountered)
>Page Asa and ask what you should search for specifically
>”Arisa asked me to check on things.

>Page Asa and ask if there's anything you should search for specifically
"Just doing some research for Arisa."

>>Look through the other artifacts for a copy of that headdress piece Haret gave you
What was that for again? I forgot entirely.
“Oh, just keeping tabs on things for Arisa,” you say noncommittally. Roland shrugs.

While Roland is looking the other way, you discreetly page Asa. {My Lady, I’m in the Circle’s warehouse. Should I look for anything specific?}

[Ah, good thinking. If I were you, I would look for any examples of old clothing or uniforms, and also look for any sorts of old maps.]

You pull your finger away and look back to Roland. “Sir, where would I find any sorts of ancient clothing or maps?”

“Over in the back,” he says. “Behind the weapons display.”

This part is surely the most eclectic part of the exhibits, you think. The sheer variety of clothes on mannequins for races that don’t exist anymore is amazing. The huge, towering Dragon-men armor, the tiny praun robes, the normal elf and human clothing, even a few Harpy artifacts. You peer at them, trying to see what the people who made the Orbs looked like. They were taller than humans, but hunched on scaled legs, by the look of it, with long arms and narrow faces.

{What am I looking for?}

[In the clothes, just anything that catches your fancy. I have to finish making your uniform, you know,] she says slyly. You sigh in exasperation.

{And the maps?}

[Anything that shows where the flying cities are. That’s what we need to know.]

You look over the tiny display of maps with your keen new eyes, but you can only see one with a list of the old cities. {Found one.}

[Memorize it. I’ll copy the memory when I see you so we can make a better plan if the time comes.]

You stare at the map for a while longer, relying on your skirmish trooper training to help you keep its salient details in mind.

>Look at anything else
>Go see Garren
>Go see Garren
Check how she's doing after that raid.

It's a piece to a headdress Heralds of Haret used to wear.
>>Go see Garren

we should go and see her now.
Time to move on. “Thank you for your help, sir,” you say to Roland. “I need to be moving on.”

“Certainly, drop by any time,” he says.

Out on the streets again, you head through the sparse crowds to the Courtesans’ Guildhall, wondering glibly if the place saw extra business when it looked like the world was going to end.

You don’t even make it all the way in before a familiar voice speaks up. “Why Elsa! Fancy seeing you again!”

You hide your wince. It’s Giselle again. “Hello, Giselle, good to see you,” you say politely as you come to halt outside the Guildhall’s façade. The Companion drifts past you with an armful of flowers.

“Whatever are you doing here?” she asks gaily. “Are you still staying in the suites?”

“No. I have a meeting here,” you say blandly.

“With whom?”

>(Rude) “Giselle, go away.”
>(Impatient) “I’d love to chat, but I have to go.”
>(Gracious) “The Firesoul in the penthouse.”

No matter which you choose, roll 1d100+11
Rolled 55 + 11

>>(Impatient) “I’d love to chat, but I have to go.”
My July 4th bash has begun, I'll be back in an hour and a half or so. If anyone has any questions about the setting, now is a good time to ask!
Rolled 8

>"Military business, sorry. I'm not free to say."
Rolled 18 + 11

>>(Gracious) “The Firesoul in the penthouse.”

For a supposed mini thread, this is certainly lasting a while
I feel like this has been asked before, but what exactly are Gifts and how common are they?
There should have been a modifier on that.


I'm as surprised as anybody.

Gifts are very common, but most peoples' Gifts are pretty useless. Being able to see through a burning fire, reading a book with your eyes closed, seeing in five colors instead of three, being able to make people hear the sound of snapping fingers, that sort of thing. Useful ones are rare and powerful, and heavily Gifted people get segregated into special operations units in some militaries, like Strevain and Orond. Cender is actually one of the fairly rare exceptions, but its population is so large that they don't need specialist Gifted troops; they just use dedicated, well-trained war mages instead and use the Gifted as normal soldiers. If those Gifted in the military use their abilities to support their platoons, but have normal uniforms, an enemy can't expect them, you see. As for what they are? Absolutely nobody knows. I know.
>Absolutely nobody knows. I know.
Sounds like you should change your name from someone else to no one else.

Also by very common, 1 in 3 people have them? 1 in 5?
Gifts so weak they can't even be detected? 1:3. Gifts powerful enough to sense but useless? 1:5. Gifts powerful enough to be detected and useful? 1:14. Gifts powerful enough to use and actually get used in battle? 1:38.
You politely brush past your old friend. “I’m so sorry, Giselle, but you know, I’m already late. I really do have to be going.”

“Oh, I understand, dear. Catch up on the way out,” she says breezily.

The light Sunday crowd doesn’t obstruct you further. You climb the many stairs up to the penthouse and walk the short hallway to the suite, wondering what state she’ll be in when you see her this time. Mindful of the last time you encountered Garren, you tap lightly on the door and wait.

And wait.

After almost two minutes, you knock again, louder. The door swings open, revealing a weary-looking dark elf male Companion on his way out. “I suspect Lady Garren isn’t taking visitors,” he says politely as he walks by.

Ooookay. Maybe come back some other day.

>Anything else to do before dinner?
God damnit
I feel like Garren does nothing but conduct research and fuck dudes. And we only have her word on the research portion.

Nothing else before dinner I guess. Just try to not awkwardly run into Giselle on the way out.
Well, you have interrupted her twice.

And there was the time she tanked a War Mage solo.
Try to leave a message for her somehow.
>And there was the time she tanked a War Mage solo.

She probably just sexed him until he was too tired to cast spells.
I meant Ding.
So did I. We didn't see most of that fight. And Garren said most of her flames were illusory. It's impossible to say for sure that the entire fight wasn't one big illusion and she was just fucking him into exhaustion.

I mean, she couldn't get around his amulet shield at first, and then she could. There has to be a cause for that.
Stopping to leave a note with Garren’s mailbox before leaving, you head back to the castle by the back door of the Guildhall, avoiding Giselle on the way. By the time you reach the castle’s vast parade ground, the sun is starting to set in the evening sky.

In your suite, however, you find something entirely less pleasant.

Jerome is sitting on the couch, cradling a black eye. Darril is pacing on the main room carpet, looking more angry than you’ve ever seen him. Belle and Laura are clustered around Jerome, handing him ice and towels, while Coby stress out the window in helpless frustration.

“Damn him to the black wash of the Falls,” Darril snarls.

“I know,” Jerome says painfully. His voice is wrecked. “Elsa? Is that you?”

“Jerome! What happened?” you demand, rushing to his side.

He sighs awkwardly. From close up, his face is even more of a mess. He has a knife mark on his cheek, and his eye is damaged by something. “I went out through the house, looking for work, like I said. But… ah, I’m so stupid,” he groaned. “I went back to the armory where I used to work, just to say goodbye and ask my old supervisor if he would be willing to give me a reference somewhere else. He said sure, but as I was leaving, I got jumped by some guys in black.”

Your heart leaps into your throat. “…Guys in black?”

“They had knives. One had a hammer,” Jerome says. He winces as he runs his finger across the ridge of his eye socket. “One got me in the eye. I’m… I’m having trouble seeing.”

Tears well up in your eye as you bury your face in his shoulder and hug him as best you can around his wound. “Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry!”

“A Guard saw what was going on and threw a Flare grenade... they got spooked and bolted,” Jerome continues bravely. His good eye is watering too. “You specifically told me to take the main roads, and I cut through the alley like an idiot. Of course Soutri had my workplace watched! Of course he had guys watching me! I asked for your advice and then I ignored it completely!”

“Someday I’ll stop getting you hurt,” you say with a cracking voice.

“Hush. This was my fault.” He looks up at you with his damaged eyes. “Can you heal me?”

>use your daily What Once Grew, Now Again
>ask Asa to do it for you
>take him to a battle medic downstairs
>use your daily What Once Grew, Now Again
>>take him to a battle medic downstairs

Not sure if Asa would do it and I get the feeling we might be needing that ability later.
>>take him to a battle medic downstairs
No need to make Elsa feel awful like before if the medic is available.
Not sure if we'll get more than 2-3 voters today due to the holiday/events.
Are you kidding? This is more than I usually get!
“Well… I might be able to, but it hurts quite a bit when I do it,” you admit. “Let’s get you down to a medic in the infirmary, huh?” You loop an arm under his shoulder and help him up, while his older brother gets his other side.

It’s a strange, sad walk down to the infirmary. Darril is still fuming, Jerome is feeling sorry for himself, and you’re just frustrated. The second you’ve captured the runners, you vow, Soutri is dead.

Down in the infirmary, you get Jerome checked in quickly. The healer mage walks up to him and examines his face as soon as you get him safe into bed. “Hmph. A few bone cracks, lots of soft tissue damage… but I can save the eye if I start now. Sir, you’ll be healed up to full by midnight,” he promises.

“Good,” Jerome sighs. “Doc, can I get a moment alone here?”

“Very well. I need to go get my things.” The medic withdraws as you and Darril look over at Jerome.

“Elsa… look, I don’t know what to do,” Jerome says tiredly. “Can you promise this will be over soon?”

“At the rate I’m picking these guys off? You bet,” you say with all the confidence you can muster. “I just need to kill seven more. I’m just under halfway done, and I’ve recruited the Brotherhood and Firesouls to help out.”

He sighs again. “All right, good. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere, I’m just tired of being scared all the time.”

“I know, sweetheart, I know,” you say, squeezing his knee. “I’ll come get you at midnight and we can rest in the suite, okay? Tomorrow, I’m taking off for a few days after breakfast. Two conspirators have tried to flee the country, and I think we can capture them safely. That’ll make a huge difference.”

“Oh, yeah? Good.”

Darril clears his throat. “Want us to send down a proper dinner?”

“I’d like that, thank you,” Jerome says. He manages a little smile as you kiss his undamaged cheek. “Hey, stay here for a bit, huh, Elsa? I wanted to ask you some stuff.”

>Stay and ask Darril to send down two dinners

Also I am a dumb, and I forgot that two grenades come free with your ammo pouch: a Glue and a Caustic. I added them to your character sheet.
>>Stay and ask Darril to send down two dinners
>Stay and ask Darril to send down two dinners
“No problem. Think you could order for two, Darril?” you ask.

He half-smiles. “Of course. I’ll be down later.”

When the two of you are alone, you sit next to the bed and turn to see him. “So, what’s up?”

“Nothing,” he admits. “Just sit here for a sec.”

You lean back against the bedside and feel his arm drape across your shoulders. “Okay.”

The two of you sit in silence for several long minutes as the healer rummages for his kit. You close your eyes and focus your thoughts on the memories of good lives, of your own best times, and of the peace of heaven, and you feel Jerome’s tension vanish. “How do you feel?” you ask.

“Much better, thank you,” he murmurs. He sounds half-asleep. “So… you know how my day was. How was yours?”

You smile and squeeze his hand where it rests on your shoulder. “Busy. Lots of meetings. Lots of talks.”

“Yeah? It must be crazy, seeing the Brotherhood and stuff like that,” he says.

“It is. They’re amazing people. What did you tell your old boss?”

“Just that the owner had it wrong, but I was going to find new work anyway, and he said he’d refer me if I asked him to,” Jerome says sleepily. “That was nice.”


A servant spots you from the door and walks over two platters. “Compliments of the chef and His Majesty,” the servant says as she deposits two steaming haunch roasts on the table.

“Excellent, thank you,” you say. “You hungry?” you ask over your shoulder.

“I could eat,” Jerome confirms. He sits up and lets go of your shoulder to dig in. “Better eat now, before the doc comes back.”

“Sure.” The two of you munch on the roast as you look for safer conversation topics. “Hey, Jerome. I’ve been meaning to ask. Does this new… appearance of mine not spook you?”

He chews thoughtfully for a second. “No, and it’s weird. I mean, it should. I guess it’s just because you’re a part of Asa now, or something, right? You can’t be scared of her.”

You ponder that. “Maybe that’s it,” you think aloud. “I bet you’re right.”

He chuckles. “First time for everything.”

“Oh, stop.”

“Sorry, hon, but it’ll be a while before I stop feeling dumb now,” Jerome sighs, his humor vanishing. “I can’t believe I went out in the alleys alone after what you said. I just wanted to save some time, and pow.”

“I’m really sorry about everything,” you say regretfully. “It’ll be over soon.”

“I’m sure.” He squeezes your shoulder and again and you lean against his side for a moment. “Hey. I love you, okay? I’m sorry I snapped this morning.”

“Hey, I don’t blame you,” you tell him. “I love you too.”
>Just make small talk until the doctor comes back
>Ask something specific (what?)
Won't we be gone for a few days for the warehouse raid? We should bring that up.
Already did. Like twice.

>>Just make small talk until the doctor comes back
>>Just make small talk until the doctor comes back
The two of you chat and eat until the doctor comes back. “All right, Mister Ledren, this will take a few hours, but if you’re out, I’ll be done by midnight,” he reiterates.

Jerome glances sheepishly at you. “Elsa, can you not be here for this? This is kind of embarrassing.”

“Sure, sweetheart, I’ll come pick you up when you’re done,” you assure him. You lean over and kiss him as the doctor prepares a light sleep spell. “I love you, big guy,” you murmur against his lips.

He smiles against yours. “You too, Elsa.”

Upstairs, your parents are cleaning up their dishes when you arrive. “He’ll be just fine,” you promise as you walk in. “His eye will be back by midnight.”

“Oh, thank Mai’te,” Belle sighs.

“I’m tired of this fear, too,” Laura admits. “Maybe we should leave the city.”

“I don’t mean any disrespect, but where would you go?” you ask reasonably. “These people have vast resources. The castle is the only place you’ll be safe.”

“I guess.” Laura picks at her dessert as you kick off your shoes and hang up your cap. “Tomorrow’s Monday, and you’re leaving that morning, right? When will you be back?”

“Probably Wednesday or Thursday,” you inform her. You’re about to explain further when a letter slides through the mail slot on the door. Curious, you crouch and pick it up. “Oh, it’s from Garren!”

You peel it open and read.

-Your Eminence,

My apologies for missing you this afternoon. Despite appearances, I assure you, I was indisposed in quite another way than the gentleman’s presence would suggest. I was arms-deep in that compass you gave me. I hope you have some idea of just how much money you saved me with that. When I’m done with my research, I’ll ask you by for a look at my discovery.

I also wish to assure you that I will be available to help you again in a few days. My meetings with the local Alchemists’ Guild will consume the next day or so of my time, but when they are done, I will be at your disposal, perhaps even at a discount in thanks for your help.

My friend, I understand that this is a risky business of yours. I want to emphasize the importance of what you and I accomplished in destroying those Orbs. A hammer has fallen on these verminous, murdering scum. They have made enemies of the Firesouls, Cender, and the Pantheon.

This is not good company for them to oppose.

With the warmest regards,

Traveler Garren
‘A Soul, By Fire Consumed, Can Not Be Contained’
>wat do?

>just spend time with the family before Jerome comes back
>go talk to the King and Governor first
>ask Asa for advice for tomorrow
>>just spend time with the family before Jerome comes back

Some time relaxing might do a bit of good.
>just spend time with the family before Jerome comes back
looks like Garren is so ashamed of her sex addiction that she feels the need to lie about it
poor show Garren
Wow, you need to let this idea go, man.
not until we spend at least 3 threads spying on her to verify that she does indeed engage in other activities
My bash has ended, so I'll be back to the 'updates every 15-30minutes schedule' now.
You change into looser, evening clothes and curl up on a couch as your parents sort through the suite’s well-stocked little library of books. “So… I hope you guys are all right with being here,” you say. “Is the castle interesting, at least?”

“It really is,” Coby says. “I went down to the library today and got a whole bunch more books. Here, I set them on the shelf.” You squint and glance over the titles. They’re mostly crime dramas and romantic comedies.

“Classics, I assume?” you ask drily.

“But of course!” Coby says in the same tone.

The evening passes, and one by one the others turn in, until you hear the distant chime of the clock-tower in the city square. You set down your book and walk out into the hall, making for the infirmary.

Down below, you find Jerome snoozing, with a few discolorations on his skin, but no injuries remaining. The doctor passes you on his way out. “Oh, Sergeant. Your husband is fine,” he says wearily. “I’m glad to report that he’ll make a full recovery.”

“Oh, thank goodness,” you say, relieved. “His vision?”

“He’ll be fine by morning,” the healer mage swears. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to check my supplies back into the stockrooms.”

“Of course, sir, thank you for treating a civilian like this,” you say gratefully.

The healer smiles. “It was my pleasure, Sergeant. Nobody deserves that sort of suffering. Good night, soldier.”

Inside, Jerome is sitting up and massaging his temples. “Ugh.”

“Hey, handsome!” you say, pecking him on the cheek as you come up beside him. “How’s your pretty face?”

He smiles. “Good as new.”

“Excellent! Come to bed, huh? You must be exhausted,” you say.

He pauses. “Actually, can we go up onto the tower on the roof, like you did before? I’m not sleepy at all, I was under the whole time.”

“Oh, sure!” You grab his arm and help him into his shoes. “Here, it’s a bit of a climb.”

Some while later, the two of you are standing on the artillery spotting platform on the castle roof, with the deep autumn clouds blotting out the stars. Jerome leans heavily on the huge stone spike, staring out at the city with his fresh eyes. “Wow.”

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” you ask. “Hard to believe this is a military base sometimes.”

“I know,” he says quietly. “How did I wait this long to see it? It’s amazing.”

“Oh, am I interrupting?”

You both turn around to see Vier’s Avatar standing behind you. “Sorry, Herald, I can leave you be,” she says. The clatter of her sword against her armored leg breaks Jerome’s shock.

“Uh, your Ladyship, of course not,” he says hastily. “Forgive us, do you need to be here?”

She chuckles. “No, but I fancied a drink.”


She taps the spike where she did before, and the wine bottle appears. “You two, fancy a sip?”

>”Actually, I think we would like to be alone.”
>”No, thanks.”
>”Sure, I could use a drink.”
>”No, thanks.”
Oh man
I kinda wanna be alone
But I don't want to tell a demigod to go away
>see if Jermone's up for it and if so go ahead.

We're not the only person here. Not every day a god's avatar offers a drink.
>>”Sure, I could use a drink.”
Getting annoyed at all the comments from family "Oooo ahhh, you interact with shadows/brothers/gods/kings. Must be so strange blah blah blah"

Make him drink with a damn demigod so he can stop thinking it's so weird already.
You look over at your husband before answering. “Jerome, would you prefer to be alone, or are you okay with company?”

He slowly shakes his head. “Well, I… I mean, I sort of wanted to be by ourselves, but this is fine…”

Vier half-grins. “Well, I won’t get in the way. My usual companion isn’t here tonight anyway.” She closes the compartment and stands back up. “I’ll leave you two be.”

“You don’t have to,” Jerome protests, flushing, but Vier chuckles.

“Nonsense, I was just indulging my tastes. I’ll just come up tomorrow.” She vanishes.

Jerome slumps. “Now I feel bad.”

“I saw her up here before,” you remember. “She won’t be mad, she just comes up here to chat with a Guard she likes. In fact, hang on.” You press your forehead under you bandana and think. {My Lady, please tell Vier that my husband is sorry.}

Asa sounds vaguely amused in her reply. [Oh, she’s laughing. What did he do?]

{He feels bad because we were already up here when she wanted to come up and look out at the city.}

[Ha! Tell him she’s perfectly all right.]

“Vier says not to feel bad, sweetheart,” you say, hugging his arm.

He sighs. “Fine.”

“What did you want to talk about up here?” you ask.

He looks out at the city again. “Well… where’s our house from up here?”

You point over at the block where your home stands in line with all the others. “That’s us. The one with the new railing. It’s hard to see from here.”

He squints and cups his hands around his eyes. “Hmph. I can… I can make out the blanket on the clothesline next to our balcony, but I turned all our lights out this afternoon, so I can’t see our place.” He looks down at you in the near-total darkness. “Elsa, I guess… ugh. I don’t know how to ask this.”

“Is something wrong?” you inquire.

“No, I just can’t tell if this is too early,” he sighs. “This afternoon, your father asked if we were interested in ever having kids. I honestly couldn’t answer. I lost my job, and I have no idea where you’ll be from day to day… you know.”

Ah, it’s time for THAT talk. No wonder he wanted privacy.

>wat say?
>"As soon as this whole conspiracy is sorted out I would love to!"
Oh that's what I want to say but doesn't that trigger death flags?
>death flags
File: 1397518214367.jpg (13 KB, 232x185)
13 KB
What is a Death Flag?
a type of event that basically signals a character's death.

Examples would be
"When this is all over"
Talking about family waiting for them

I believe TvTropes has a thing on them.

I'm going with this in the hopes that such a flag wouldn't be used.
It's something people typically say in movies right before they die.

Stuff like "I'm retiring tomorrow." when working a dangerous job. Or wearing a red shirt in a star trek episode.
Ah, or being black or a woman in an eighties horror movie.

Yeah, no. I don't write that poorly.
You lean against his shoulder and lace your fingers with his. “Yeah… I think it would be a good time to remove the ring.” That’s an old Cenderian saying. Engagement rings are frequently enchanted with Preservation, a spell that prevents pregnancy and disease that arise from sex. When a marriage reaches the right time, the husband will remove the ring just like he put it on, and the two start trying to conceive.

“I know you’re busy,” he admits.

“Very. I can’t be pregnant while I’m fighting. But, remember what Asa said? If we pull this off, she’ll award us ownership of the shrine to Mai’te outside the city. There’s land and buildings out there.” You smile at the thought. “More than enough to raise a kid.”

“Yeah.” Jerome looks up at the clouds, lost in thought. “My parents never planned on having two. They loved me, of course, but, you know. Like I said. Change-of-lifestyle baby. My mother got moved to this city, they were basically starting over. They were so happy when Darril had kids.”

“I bet,” you say. “I’m sorry I never got to meet them.”

“You wouldn’t have liked Dad,” Jerome chuckles ruefully. “He was a coot. Cynical as hell. Mom would have loved you, though. She had oceans of respect for the military, too, so she’d have been really happy that you’re an Auxiliary and I worked at an armorer.”

You smile at the sound of him reminiscing. “You don’t talk about them much.”

“It was a long time ago.” He wraps one arm around your shoulders and pulls you in close. “So. After we’re done and moved?”

“Yeah.” You relax against his embrace and feel your heart sing. “Yeah.”

The two of you stand in comfortable silence for a long time, just letting the moment stretch on.

Downstairs, the two of you get ready for bed. Jerome’s face is already healed back to new, but he says his vision is still a bit blurry. “Doc said I’ll be fine by sunrise,” he remarks as he slides sleeping clothes on.

“Yeah, he told me the same thing,” you reply. “Did he say what he would charge?”

“Yes, but it’s not much,” Jerome admits. “Can you just get that money from the King? From the mercenary?”

“Good call. I’ll ask tomorrow morning after breakfast.” You slip into bed beside him.

He arrests your movement with a playful squeeze of the posterior. “Say. Three days out of town?”

You bite your lip as his lack of subtlety comes into play. “Yeah.”

“Long time.”


“It’ll get lonely, stuck here in the castle,” he says casually.


He presses his lips against the back of your neck. “Haven’t taken the ring off yet, right?”


He breathes on the back of your ear and makes you flinch. “Want to test it? Give you something to think about on the road?”

“We test it… all the time,” you murmur as he slowly works his hands across your back.

“I mean really put it through its paces,” he says quietly.

>”About time you asked.”
>”Nah, you need your sleep. Just save it up for when I get back.”
>”About time you asked.”
>>”Nah, you need your sleep. Just save it up for when I get back.”

As much as I'd want to, I just have a bad feeling about it.
bro we're gonna be gone for days here
no goodbye sex would just be downright inconsiderate
changing to >>33195267

Well hopefully I'm wrong then.
You roll over onto your back and snake your arms around his neck. “You kidding? I welcome the opportunity,” you whisper in his ear.

He smiles against your shoulder and slides his broad hands down your arms to your shoulders. “Good. Want to make sure… it still works…”

You tug his clothes free as he does the same to you, pausing every so often to offer an appreciative caress or murmur of encouragement, until both as nude as Mai’te made you, and he’s working a circle of kisses around one perked-up nipple. “Mmmm…” you sigh as his hands stroke higher up your thighs. “This is the nice part of… having a husband eight inches taller than me…”

“What’s that?”

“I can feel you all over,” you groan. You can feel him grin proudly against your skin.

“All over?”

“Most places,” you correct. He slides up parallel to you and looms over you in the dim light. “Here, this is where I want you next,” you promise. You run a slightly trembling hand down over his manhood and guide it home. “Ah… yeah, this is what I need to remember on that cold road…”

He leans down until he’s prone on top of you and grips your shoulders again. “You’ll remember it, believe me,” he whispers, and then you really can feel him all over.

How can someone so strong feel so gentle? It’s a question you like to ponder as he drives you out of your mind. His teasing nibbles on your ears drive you nearly as mad as the way his voice trembles when he murmurs your name as he comes the first time, and the way he smiles with his eyes shut as he rests for the second round.

The dark room doesn’t track the time, and neither do the two of you, and when his strength is finally spent, the two of you relax under the sheets, not saying a word.

You never did turn off that ability that lets you project emotions, you realize sleepily, but that can hardly hurt. It more or less guarantees good dreams for everybody you know.

>What tasks must you accomplish before leaving tomorrow?
>speak to (King/Governor/Captain-General/Garren/Culler/family member */Armorer)
>acquire the following items: (which?)
Get on the road
>acquire the following items: (which?)
If we haven't picked up our armor yet we should. Also get a crossbow or something we can attack from range.

Say bye to the family.
Just confirming: you wish to add a crossbow to your sling? You certainly can, but Elsa's not really trained on it.
I cannot picture a sling as viable against any but unarmored opponents.

But her character sheet says she's pretty sweet with them, so I guess just make sure we take a mix of lead and stone bullets, nevermind on the crossbow.
Over half of your grenades are armor-canceling, and you can fire them from your sling. It's how slings stay useful in a world with artillery and mages.

You also have an anti-armor dagger, and a spearpoint honed to a molecular edge by magic.
The bright yellow sun cuts through the mid-fall clouds the next morning, as the clan reassembles for breakfast. You have to race through it, sadly enough, though you find time for heartfelt farewells to the family.

“You stay safe out there, you hear me?” your mother says with one final hug. “I’m sick you getting hurt.”

“Me too!” you say feelingly. “But don’t worry. I’m going in a team of eight specialists now. I’ll be quite all right.”

Jerome gives you a lingering hug. “I’ll be waiting,” he says quietly. “Come back soon.”

You kiss him goodbye with feeling. “I will.”

Below, in the armory, you collect your dried and repaired gear from the quartermaster – not the same one as before. “All right, Sergeant, here you go,” the new one says, handing you your gear without a backward glance. “Be aware that we weren’t instructed to buy upgrades for it, though I guess you had that part covered.”

“Yeah, I paid for some of my own,” you say. “Thanks for the repair job.”

“ ‘S what I’m here for,” he says laconically.

Out in the crisp morning air of the parade ground, the Shadow team is already waiting. Their leader – who is discernable from the rest by the sole virtue of his armor being more elaborate – salutes you sharply. “Sergeant. I am told you’re in charge of this pig hunt?” he asks. He’s a Senior Legionary Shadow, just like Maas promised. In terms of prowess, that doesn’t mean anything, but it does mean that he’s at least a minor noble on paper, and probably bought his own gear to keep after he leaves the Shadows. It also means he was recruited from the Legion instead of the Army, which means he’ll be good at horseback fighting.

“I am. Thanks for assembling on such short notice,” you say as you return the salute.

He glances over your gear once. “I see from your gear that you are the survivor from Second Home. You have my sincere and genuine condolences on the loss of your men.”

“And you have my gratitude in turn, Shadow,” you reply. “We take vengeance now.”

“Ah, so our target is the perpetrator? We’re with you fully, Sergeant,” he says. He leans in close as you pass him and holds his hand over his lips. “Or should I call you Your Eminence?”

>”How did you know?”
>Pretend ignorance
>"I was told Newlar would be discrete with that information."
Whisper: "Sergeant is preferred."
Your hand tightens on your spear as you hear him say it. “I was under the impression that Shadow Newlar would conceal my identity,” you say coldly.

He blinks. “Newlar was in on it? With respect, ma’am, I didn’t hear from her.”

“Then whom, pray tell, has loose lips?” you growl. “The King?”

“Heavens forbid. I figured it out quite on my own,” he says. He ticks off points on his fingers. “You were one of three survivors of the battle. You’ve been spotted killing rich mercenaries around the city and beyond. You’ve been seen in the company of staff-grade officers and giving Firesouls orders. You’ve had many appointments with the King, the Governor, and the Captain-General. You have free rein of the castle and the city, and word on the gossip chain is that your whole family has been moved inside the walls.” He leans in again. “It wasn’t a hard deduction. Now you’re giving me orders, by the King’s command. It’s fairly obvious. Especially after the tornado. Whom else could have convinced His Lordship Haret to leave us in peace?”

You sigh at the recitation. “Fair enough. Forgive my tone, and my insinuation of indiscretion among the Shadows. I prefer Sergeant Ledren. Specialist Ledren, if you dislike getting orders from a non-com.”

“Sergeant is fine.” He straightens up. “Forgive my own impertinence in turn.”

At least he’s very polite. “Nothing to forgive. May I have your name?”

“Naturally. I am Sir Blake Reed, Legionary Shadow Team Commander. These are my Shadows,” he says, taking in the rest of the group. “Shadow Drevie.” A young human man with very dark skin salutes. “Shadow Stone.” A much older elf man with an enchanted eyepatch salutes. “And Infiltrator Zahn.” An human woman with hollow cheeks and a scar on her forehead salutes. “I understand we are to await the Brotherhood you hired?”

>Are you briefed on our target?
>Yes. Do you have horses?

>Clapp lhaldure
>Yes. Do you have horses?
“We are. Do you have mounts?” you ask.

Reed nods. “We all have horses. The Brotherhood is bringing theirs?”

“I hope so, but I don’t know. I should go secure one myself, if you’ll excuse me, sir.” You accept his salute and jog off to the stables.

As you return, you see the Brotherhood members already assembled. Each has significant camping gear in their baggage, which makes the lack of it in your gear and that of the Shadows look somewhat odd. “Gentlemen, Sister Gannet. Are you all ready to depart?” you ask.

Hart glances over at you and flashes a grin. “I am, Sergeant. Master Culler delivered our payment. We’re all ready to rock.”

>Any last-minute tasks, or do you depart?

>when do you want to tell the Brothers about your Heraldship, if ever?
I can't think of any last minute tasks. Tell them about the Heraldship about maybe halfway to the warehouse.
>>Any last-minute tasks, or do you depart?
>>when do you want to tell the Brothers about your Heraldship, if ever?
I don't see a need too. Even though it's secret is less and less useful. Unless Soutri isn't telling the rest of the conspiracy like the rest of his info.

If anyone insists on it though it should be done on the road with nobody else around.
“The sooner we leave, the sooner we get there,” you say. “And you can leave the camping gear here. The road there is full of hotels and inns.”

“Ah, good.” All three Brothers retain their gear, probably for lack of place to keep it. As you leave, everybody falls in behind you.

You glance back to see the Shadows taking the rear with the Brothers behind you. “All right, my friends, we’re off.”

The ride out of the city is easy, with the gate so close. The autumn air pulls at your skin as you ride, and you hike your bandana low over your eyes to shield them from the sun. Your horses break into a traveling trot as you pass the gates, and you’re on your way.

Roll 1d100 for random encounter set. NO MODIFIERS.
Rolled 70

Wonder what my nat 100 will get us
Rolled 12

no wammy
Rolled 78

Here goes....
The first leg of the ride is so peaceful, it’s almost paranoia-inducing. You couldn’t ask for clearer roads, and the weather puts a wind at your back that blows away the lingering humidity of summer.

After a fast break for lunch and to water the horses, you take off again. On the second half of the day’s journey, however, trouble begins.

“Why in the world didn’t it just start raining AFTER we got to the inn?” Hart grumbles under his hood.

“Shut up,” Auvi growls. “It’s not so bad.”

That’s a nice way to put it. The rain opened up less than an hour after lunch, and the lack of wind in the afternoon means that it’s not going anywhere. The thick forest on either side of the road helps block that, but the boughs only rarely cover the highways. You have your bandana, but your traveling cloak’s hood isn’t very well waterproofed.

At least you’re not a Shadow. All four of them are drenched in their helmets, which they almost never seem to remove. Blake rides ahead of the others, stoic as ever, while the others shuffle along behind him.

“Think we can risk rushing the horses?” Gannet asks miserably. She seems to hate the rain, which makes sense, as she’s a Current specialist. The flows of energy in Current are unpredictable in water.

“Dunno,” Auvi grunts. “It’s up to our glorious leader.”

>”Don’t spare the horses. Go as fast as we can to the inn and rest them overnight as best as we’re able.”
Pick up the pace a bit. No rushing though. Don't need exhausted horses tomorrow.
Rush them. Not as fast as possible but definitely faster than we're currently going.

Dang, I thought being a Herald for a demigod with access to weather machines guaranteed us sunny days for life.
Pick up the pace but not recklessly so

fields need watering somewhere
You raise your voice to be heard over the downpour. “Just drive them as fast as you can without them being slowed down tomorrow!” You knee your mound a bit, and she picks up the pace, tossing her mane to free the clinging water.

You work your way through the watery road for another six cold, miserable, sodden hours, until at long last, a large inn and stable appear in the misty air. You all ride hard to reach it and trot your horses right in.

The stable hands take your mounts as the others see to drying their gear. You wait until you have everybody’s attention before asking the obvious question. “How many rooms?”

The Shadows all look to Reed. He just tilts his head. “Five men, three women. Figure three for the men and two for the women?”

“All right, I’ll go get that handled,” you say. “Hope I have enough cash,” you mutter as you turn away. What you brought is tucked in an oilskin pouch, so at least it will be dry.

“Here,” Reed says, passing you some coin. “This should cover the four of us.”

The Brothers all hand back a few of the bills you gave them that very morning as soon as Reed coughs up money for himself. You hide a grin as you turn away. Shame is a motivator for the Brotherhood when they have somebody to impress, it seems.

Inside, your nose is assaulted by the smells of booze, rain-soaked clothing, and food. You work your way up to the counter through the throngs with ease, enabled by your spear, no doubt. “Ho, traveler! What do you need?” a man behind the counter asks.

“Five double rooms, with eight spaces for our mounts,” you tell him.

His eyebrows rise. “The horses I can manage, but I don’t have five rooms. I have four.”

You wince at the prospect of telling the others. “I’ll let them know.”

Back in the stable, though, the news goes over surprisingly well. “I don’t need a room to sleep,” Stone informs you all.

Everybody but Gannet and the Shadows looks at him in surprise. “You don’t?” Auvi asks suspiciously. “Why not?”

“I prefer the free air,” Stone says bluntly. “I can stay outside.”

“In the pouring rain?” Hart asks doubtfully.

“It’s my way,” Stone says. The discussion apparently over, he starts shucking his armor and passing it to Reed, who collects it without comment.

Gannet speaks up. “I understand. Thank you, Stone.”

The much older man grunts and picks his sword back up once he’s down to tunic and pants. “See you all tomorrow.”

“Not even going to eat?” you ask.

“Don’t need it.” With that, he disappears into the rain.

“What the hell just happened?” Hart asks.

“He has an incredibly powerful Gift,” Gannet says. “He must be above food.”

“But dryness, at least!” Hart insists.

“The Gifted feel the world in the rain,” Gannet says simply. “Don’t interfere.”

“Hey, he wants to soak, that’s fine,” Hart says with a shrug.

>Ask how that Gift works
>accept this oddness and move on
>Ask how that Gift works
Knowing could come in handy in combat
“Would he mind if I asked you how that Gift works?” you ask the room.

Gannet looks askance at Reed, but Reed just shakes his head. “He has two. He doesn’t need to eat, and he can walk on water. He also has a bit of magic. Not much, you know.”

The other mage looks impressed. “Remarkable. Those are rare Gifts. To have two, and magic! That’s something special. For some reason, rain is something else to the Gifted. They seem to grow calmer when it’s happening,” she explains.

“Anyway. I know that I’m quite hungry,” Reed says, having had enough of gossip. “Let us get those rooms and some food.”


Be alive, thread! I'll be back tomorrow!


Also Happy 5th of July, for those of us who aren't damn yanks.
After the meal, the group heads for their rooms. Despite some ‘gallant’ offers by Hart to sacrifice his own bed to keep Gannet’s warm, which she denies with nominal signs of disappointment, the capture team breaks up by the sexes.

You and the Infiltrator split one double room. She’s a perfect roommate: silent and possessing of good hygiene. She sets about drying her armor as soon as she gets it off, as you do the same in the tiny, cramped bathroom.

Once that’s taken care of, she lights a candle by the window and proceeds to sit by the door, reading a book she pulls from a water-tight bag on her hip. You curl up in your sleeping clothes and stare out into the rain, discreetly fingering your Gem as you do. {My Lady, we’re on the way to Black Hill Port.}

[Good, good. Decided not to take a day off, I suppose?]

{They attacked Jerome while he was out job-hunting. If they don’t give me a respite, I don’t give them one,} you say bitterly.

[Oh, my daughter, I’m sorry. I haven’t received that gentle soul of hi, so I assume he’s all right?]

{Good as new. Just feeling dumb because he broke the guidelines I set for moving around the city safely.}

[Well, I’m glad he’s all right. Are you alone?]

{I have three Brothers and four Shadows with me. The Shadows have figured out what I am, without any help from Newlar, it seems,} you add.

[Well, you could never have stayed covert forever, Elsa.]

{I guess I knew that. I just don’t like not being in control.}

[Who does? You’ll be fine if you keep your head on straight. I have confidence in you. And speaking of that, how is the ability I granted you?]

>It's nice to make people around me happy
You think back to the experiences in the castle and warehouse as you consider your answer. {Well, it does feel nice to make other people happy. I just want to know what it’s like when I’m mad or sad.}

[You mean you haven’t been, since you received the power?]

It’s a fair question. You were pretty sad when you saw Jerome was hurt. {Uh, I have been. Why didn’t I seem to be projecting then?}

[Were the people around you already upset?]


[There you go. It’s more for helping others understand you than anything else. When people are in wildly differing thought states, they tend to get more difficult to speak to, as I’m sure you know. It’s not for forcing consensus, it’s for allowing it.]

{Ohhhh. I see now.}

[See? It’s not mind control unless you use it as such.] Her tone shifts a bit. [So assuming you find Jester here, and I suspect you will, how do you mean to deal with him?]

>Send the Shadows in first to recce
>Charge in for surprise
>Challenge him to surrender
>Coordinate with local authorities to corral him

>Send the Shadows in first to recce
{The plan for now is to send in the Shadows. One has a Gift, so he can be detected by the mage from the Brotherhood. When they find him, they’ll signal us, and we’ll move in to capture. If we take him alive, great. If not, oh well, we tried.}


{I’m sick of them.}

[The plan will work. If your identity goes public, what will you do?]

You sigh into your hand. {Nothing different, at first. Killing these scum is priority one.}

[Of course, but I mean in regards to the Circle, the Brotherhood, et cetera.]

{Do you think there’s a chance of that?}

[If you kill Soutri, Kotrick will do it, I guarantee it. He will reveal you in his own way, through his criminal contacts. He will endeavor to make the public turn against you.]

You shrug helplessly, heedless of the fact that she can’t see you. {Then I’ll deal with it!}

[I apologize, I didn’t mean to burden you with hypotheticals. Get some rest. Speak to me before you attack.]

As you move your hand away, Zahn looks up from her book. “That must be very frightening, having Lady Asa in your head.”

>Why would it be frightening?
>Only when she speaks without warning.
>Why would it be frightening?
"Only at first. I got used it it rather quickly."
“You think so?” you ask.

“I mean, there’d be no privacy at all,” she observes.

You wave that off. “She can’t hear me unless I want her to. I admit, it was a bit scary, but I got used to it fast.”

“Hmm.” Zahn marks her place and cricks her neck. “I bet it would make you a good Shadow, to be honest.”

“How come?”

“You’d be able to learn whatever you wanted from the people you captured, wouldn’t you? I remember Heralds had that sort of ability.”

“I don’t,” you say, perhaps a bit put off by the bluntness of the question.

“But you could get the Pantheon to interrogate whatever people you killed, too, wouldn’t you?”

“That’s enough,” you say, now slightly disturbed, though to be fair, you’ve done exactly that.

“Sure.” Zahn crosses to her bed and lies down. “I’m turning in. Snuff the candle when you’re ready to turn in.”

>Advance to the next day
>Do something else
>Advance to the next day
Zahn's kinda creepy
File: 1329627293368.jpg (214 KB, 850x850)
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214 KB JPG
Zahn's kinda cool.

>>Advance to the next day
The next morning, you all eat quickly and head out again. Stone was apparently content to rest in the woods behind the inn, listening to whatever the Gifted hear in the rain. If it weren’t so common, it would be weird.

The Black Hill ports are barge landings on the huge river that bisects Cender. The two forks around the island upon which Clen is built are deep enough for traffic from fishers and traders of all sorts, and while the southern one is reserved for military traffic, the north is open for trade, and they’re always bustling. In the most technical sense, they answer to Governor Ekrine. Unofficially, the northern port is under the control of the local Artisans’ Guild Master. It’s his men and women who load and unload all the boats, and without them, the whole town would crumble.

The eight of you ride up in the early morning, since the inn is a mere few miles from the edge of the town. You have all day to work.

You all dismount at the gates and let your horses go into the stables, passing the stable hand a few coins for his troubles. Reed convenes the group when you have privacy again. “All right, Sergeant. What’s your decision?” he asks.

You tap the wall beside you and look around the group. “Nothing complex at first. I wrote down his description – here you all go.” You pass out slips of paper with Jester’s appearance sketched on from information given to you by Ding, via Haret and Asa. “He’s a melee fighter, but assume nothing. Grenades, wacky enchants, all sorts of things are possible. Remember that one of his crimes is artifact trafficking, so he may have some obscure weapons, too.”

“Not a problem,” Hart says confidently. “What’s the plan?”

You turn to Zahn, who is busy examining the paper. “Infiltrator, you’re on point. Go into the town and get a feel for it. We’ll follow on foot, and reconvene when we’re through the town and in the port itself. If you spotted him en route, don’t attack. We need to make sure we take him out fast.”

“Want me in civvies, or armor?” the infiltrator asks.

“I think civvies, for this phase,” you say. “Can you conceal your armor in a bag and take it with you?”


“Then let’s go. The docks are due north of us,” you say.

You probably look somewhat odd, moving through the city like this. The seven of you are about as obvious as you can be, walking through in a cluster. You make small talk as you meander down the busy boulevards, keeping a weather eye out, but not really searching very hard. If Jester sees you, he won’t attack. Not against those kinds of numbers, at least.

For over an hour, the seven of you slowly walk north. At the end of your uneventful trip, you arrive at the docks.

“Wonder where Zahn is,” Hart mutters.

“Stop looking around like you’re being attacked by streakers, new blood,” Auvi growls. “Why not hang a sign around your neck that says ‘Avoid me!’?”

Hart glares at Auvi, but Drevi speaks up for the first time. “Be quiet, Hart. Auvi is right. The only reason we kept our armor on is so that we would look like adventurers on their way to a transport out of town. I’d bet gold to gravel that Jester’s within half a mile of us.”

Gannet glances beside her. “Got Zahn.” Sure enough, Zahn is making her way through the crowd, laden down with her armor bag across her back.

“Did you find anything?” Reed asks.

“Follow me at once,” Zahn says darkly. “Forget the merc.”

>”Whatever you’ve found, it can wait.”
>”Lead the way.”
>"What did you find?"
>>”Lead the way.”
The look in her eyes is something you’d call ‘haunted.’ “What did you uncover?” you ask.

“The King’s worst fears,” Zahn says coldly. “I found Duke Zafford’s spy.”

Reed inhales sharply. “Zafford? The noble who started the secession movement in the south? He’s here?”

“No, but his man Lake-watcher is,” Zahn says. “First-generation national, ex-tribal, rough as hell and smart as a welt. He’s meeting someone in a building I passed.”

>”That’s good to know, and we can pick him up when we’re done with Jester.”
>”Fine, somebody go watch the soy while the rest of us look for Jester.”
>”Jester IS the King’s worst fear. We pursue him with everybody.”
>”Let’s get him!”
>>”Fine, somebody go watch the soy while the rest of us look for Jester.”
I'd bet money he's meeting Jester.
>”Go watch the spy while the rest of us look for Jester.”
I wanna a question:
Did you see who he was meeting or was he just waiting?

I think Jester might be trying to get himself smuggled out. The port is under tight control with the war and the notice from the King, right? The spy network of an enemy nation would be an excellent way to get out if you offered to pay them in ancient artifacts.
“Did you see who he was meeting with?” you ask.

Zahn shakes her head, but in puzzlement, not refusal. “It was a woman. Human, young, red hair.”

That’s nobody on your list. “Hmm. All right, you keep an eye on him while the rest of us look for Jester. Come find us if he does anything, or meets our man.”

As Zahn peels off, the rest of you huddle up. “All right, new plan,” you say quietly. “Jester may be trying to buy passage south towards the war zone. Who’d notice a merc there? If he’s using artifacts to pay his passage, we’re low on time. Fan out, Brothers with me, Shadows under Sir Reed. I’ll search the dockyards, Shadows search the marketplaces.”

“Should we get the local authorities involved?” Gannet asks.

>”Yes, contact them and invoke the King’s authority.”
>”Just let them know there’s a smuggler around, but don’t press if they say it’s not their problem.”

>”Just let them know there’s a smuggler around, but don’t press if they say it’s not their problem.”
>>”Just let them know there’s a smuggler around, but don’t press if they say it’s not their problem.”
“Only if you encounter them, and only tell them that there’s a smuggler around. If they shrug you off, forget it.” You tap the side of your head. “After the tornado, nobody’s in their right minds. People are jumpy, and trust me: no local Guard can handle this guy.”

“Understood.” Sir reed nods and bunches a fist. His people fall in behind him, and he takes off at a fast trot.

You turn to the Brothers and tuck your dagger in behind your shield. “All right, people. You know where the target is, you know what he looks like. Find him.” After accepting nods from the others, you turn the opposite direction from the one Reed took and break into a jog. “Up on the roofs,” you say, pointing at a nearby ladder. You take the ladder quickly and walk up to the edge, trusting your amazing new eyes to find your target.

“Nothing,” Auvi reports. He fingers the string of his bow as he looks down at the roads. “Where is the prick?”

“Uh, wait,” Gannet says. “What about the boats themselves? What if he’s in one already?”

“Then we’ve failed,” you bite off. “That doesn’t happen.”

“Hang on,” Hart suddenly says. “Is… shit! Look!”

You all follow his hand and see a man who looks a hell of a lot like Jester slip in behind Reed’s team, just rounding the corner out of sight, down the dockside road.

“Is that him?” Hart demands.

You squint and shield your eyes from the sunlight. You can’t make out his face from behind, but he does have enchanted gauntlets on… and two enchanted war clubs at his waist.

“No way we found him this fast,” you mutter. “What’s he doing with Reed?”

“Making sure they don’t find him by staying in his wake,” Auvi growls. “That’s the problem with spotter teams of only three, you can’t cover all approaches.”

“Are we even sure that’s him?” Gannet asks nervously.

>Page Asa for advice
>Leave the mage and archer here and go after him with Hart
Follow him following them. The king said to be discreet, taking him down in the middle of the street isn't discreet. The commotion would probably also scare off Lake-watcher.

Wait for an opportunity. Or if he's about to club one of the Shadow's over the head.
“All right, we’re following him at a distance. Gannet, if he looks like he’s about to do something, stop him. Auvi, string the bow, but keep it slung.”

He grimaces at the damage you’re asking him to inflict on his precious weapon, but he does so. The rest of you climb down and start following the man who looks like Jester through the streets.

You have to hustle to catch up; the pace Reed is setting is a fast one. Jester’s good, too. When Reed stops, Jester finds some place to halt and look at something a few paces later. He keeps his movements fluid, and he never looks directly at the Shadows.

The Shadows aren’t exactly subtle, either. They’re not barging through the crowd, but that armor is intimidating.

You follow Reed’s team as they walk down to the market area and start searching, looking around for anybody suspicious, for all the world unaware that their target is right behind them.

Roll 1d100+12 for Perception.
Rolled 1 + 12

File: squadbroken.jpg (35 KB, 400x400)
35 KB
Oh fuck. What have I done...
Rolled 99 + 12

>that nat 1
time to save the day
File: 1387860435015.png (103 KB, 500x375)
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103 KB PNG
Rolled 14 + 12

Here goes
Hopefully that'll override the one
Rolled 24 + 12

It should, as long as SE doesn't do crits
You catch a glint of silvery metal under the man’s wrist guards, leading into his gauntlets. Does he have hidden blades in there too? Whomever he is, he’s either your target, or he’s staking out the Shadows. Either way, it’s time to get close.

You walk a bit faster now, so you’re moving quicker than the target. He doesn’t notice you, but Reed seems to. His back straightens a bit, and he makes a tiny gesture with his hand that causes Stone to speed up significantly.

The crowd gets thicker as you enter the middle of the markets. Alleys are full to bursting with vendors, selling fresh foods from the farms upriver. Bad place for a fight.

A woman with red hair and human ears sidles up to your target and passes him a piece of paper, then vanishes into the crowd. The target’s head tilts forward to read it, then he slides the paper into a pocket.

He breaks off of the Shadow team, walking briskly towards a nearby alleyway. There are a few people in it, but not many.

>Wat do?
Huge trap. 3000% trap. Have Reed's team go around to the other side of the alley, have the group watch Jester from outside the alley on this side, and go question that red haired woman.
You wait for him to round a corner and practically race up to Reed. “You saw him, right, Sir Reed?” you ask hastily.

“Of course I did,” he says immediately. “Did you see the handoff?”

“Yes, but what was it? A note?”

Reed grimaces. “Yes. We need to follow.”

“Circle around to the other end of the alley and cut him off. I’ll follow this way!” you say.

“On it. Go.” Reed and his team take off as you shoulder your way through the crowd to the mouth of the alley. The target is around the corner, but it’s a small market. You’ll find him.

>Prep a grenade (which?)
>>Prep a grenade (which?)
Sorry about the delay, folks, I'm working on things at home. I'll be back in an hour or so.
You grab a Flare grenade from your pouch and breathe deep. Pushing off the wall for a burst of speed, you round the corner.

Nothing. It’s a dead end. There isn’t a thing except some grille milk boxes about a foot high in the corner. The ground has no hatches or manholes, there’s no ladders in sight. He’s gone.

>Search in detail
>Wait for Reed to realize there’s no exit to the alley and join you
>Use a divine or mundane ability (which?)
>Page Asa
Knock the boxes over.
Search in detail starting with the boxes
“Fan out. He can’t have gone far,” you order. You hold your spear laterally, moving slowly down the alley. You strain your eyes and ears for anything that could suggest where he could be.

The Brothers start searching, casting their eyes and hands over the walls, but find nothing.

When you reach the boxes, you kick them over, but nothing happens.

Roll 1d100+10 for Recall.
Rolled 7 + 10

no wammy
Rolled 21 + 10

Man all these first rolls are awful
Hopefully I can pull off another 99
Rolled 10 + 10

Hopefuly this will work.
The alley is taunting you, you can feel it.

“DAMN it! Where did he go?” Hart snarls.

“He has to be here somewhere,” Gannet says. “If he had a Gift that would let him do this, I’d have sensed it.”

Your group searches fruitlessly for another few minutes before Reed and his team come racing into the alley. “There you are! What happened?” the knight demands.

“He vanished into thin air!” you snap. “Did you see him on the rooftops?”

“No! He disappeared?” Reed says incredulously.

Drevie clears his throat. “Uh, you said he was an arms dealer, right? And he smuggled artifacts?”


“Did he have any of those old praun artifacts that let people turn invisible?”


Oh, duh. Lorenz had one. Jester must have acquired it.

“…I think he might!” You slap your face in shame as you realize what happened. “He turned himself invisible and went up onto the roofs! He climbed the boxes!”

Reed’s face darkens. “This is bad. We need to get to the docks.”

“The woman! The woman with the red hair!” Hart exclaims. “She must be his contact! He came here to talk to Lake-watcher to get smuggled into the south and hire himself to King Maas’ enemies!”

In hindsight, that should have been obvious.

>Sprint full speed for the river
>Ask for divine backup
>Split into groups: one rooftops, one streets, and search
>>Split into groups: one rooftops, one streets, and search
in the direction of the river
To hell with sneaking. “All right, Shadows on the streets, Brothers on the rooftops, head for the docks! Remember, he’s invisible, but not inaudible!” you shout. Your group scatters as the Brothers scrablle up to the roofs and the shadows take off sprinting.

Which leaves you. You pile the boxes back up and follow the Brothers on foot, marveling at their speed, even through your anger. The tin and stone roofs ring against your armored boots as you vault alleys and circle roads, always looking for anything moving against the winds.

People point and stare at you as you run past, but you don’t see that tell-tale red hair on your way there. When you reach the docks again, it’s anarchy. People are running and screaming as a cloud of noxious gray gas spreads from a ruptured container on one of the boats in the river. You don’t see the Shadows, and the Brothers are down on the streets, nearly overrun by people.

The gas. You’ve seen it. You’ve used it. It’s just tear gas. That doesn’t mean it’s not flammable. Jester is slipping away in the chaos.

>Wat do?

>Jump down and join the Brothers
>Use an ability
>Spot targets from up above
>Page Asa
>>Spot targets from up above
Put the fancy eyes to use. Look for Jester or the red head.
You drop to one knee and shield your eyes as the Brotherhood starts sweeping the crowd. They have their methods. Auvi is just knocking people aside, Hart is dodging the running people, and Gannet is circling the edge of the crowd.

The Shadows are still nowhere in sight. You’re thinking about going below and joining the battle when you hear your name.

“LEDREN!” Reed’s voice screams. “OVER HERE!”

You spin around to watch Reed dueling with something in the street below you, but it’s not invisible – it’s the redhead. She has a scimitar, and she’s using it well – she disarms Stone with a twist of her hand and knocks him back with a pommel strike. The other Shadow, Drevie, tackles her around the waist and knocks her out cold with a blow to the head.

Reed staggers back, bleeding from the arm, but he looks up at you. “HE’S IN THE WHARF! LOCK IT DOWN!”

You look back to see the Brothers still searching the boardwalk, weapons out. They didn’t hear you. The wharf itself is a madhouse of swirling tear gas and choking civilians.

>What do you do now?

>Rally the Shadows and demand their help
>Jump down and help the Brothers
>Solo the wharves while the Brothers handle the crowd

>Solo the wharves while the Brothers handle the crowd
File: 1362951697047.jpg (91 KB, 256x256)
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Throw the Flare grenade (or the sling if that gets better range). Hopefully it gets the Brothers looking at us. Then shout or hand signals or whatever to get them to head to the wharf.
Throw the flare grenade UP*

Or at least somewhere nearby Elsa but unlikely to to harm anyone.
The Brothers need to know. You prime the Flare and throw it straight up, hoping it’ll catch their attention.

With a brilliant flash, the grenade cooks off in mid-air. The Brothers turn and stare as the people scream even louder There’s no way they’ll hear you over that ruckus, but you point at the mouth of the complex of wharves and docks and scream anyway. “HE’S OUT THERE!”

Hart grasps your meaning. He unsheathes his cutlass and hauls out his buckler, advancing on the mouths of the wharves. Auvi doesn’t hear you either, but he unslings his bow and leaps up on top of a crate, eyes darting around the crowd. Gannet is too far away. She doesn’t understand what you were trying to say, and just spins in place, looking for anything that catches her eye.

You leap down from the docks and land hard on the stone streets, then take off at a sprint for the wharves where the barges dock. You whip your spear into position at the start of the maze of wooden and stone platforms and narrow your eyes against the glare.

“All right, you prick, where are you?” you snarl.

Your only warning is a missile appearing in midair in front of you, less than ten feet away. You raise your shield just in time, and an enchanted dagger sinks into the shield up to the hilt. It catches on the handguard of the blade, just barely missing your arm.

Hart skids to a halt next to you and glowers into the tear gas fog. “How can he breathe in that?” he demands.

“A mask, magic, who cares?” you snap. “Careful, he has throwing knives.”

“HE’S ON THE DOCK IN FRONT OF YOU!” Auvi shouts, and fires an arrow into the morass. It skitters off of the stone and into the water without finding his target.

Another knife rips out of thin air, several feet to the left of where the first one appeared. It nicks Auvi’s arm, and he lurches back, screaming.

This can’t continue.

>Use a grenade
>Use another weapon (which?)
>Call for divine backup
>Use a grenade
Acid? Hopefully it won't turn invisible when it hits him.
>>Use a grenade
You can’t kill him if he’s free to move and you aren’t. You prime an acid grenade and huck it at the ground where the second knife appeared.

The grenade shatters on the ground and splashes everywhere. You hear someone screech, and the gas swirls around a moving object.

“There!” Hart barks. He whips his scimitar out and tries to charge when another knife zips in to clatter off of his shield. His enchanted shield absorbs the blow, but he slips and falls backwards.

You don’t have a choice. You pull the Current grenade and pray that it doesn’t ignite the gas when you throw it like the incendiaries do.

Something collides with you, hard and heavy, and throws you off your feet. You drop the grenade – it doesn’t break, by a minor miracle – and push back with your shield, calling for help, but it’s no use. Jester is stronger and faster than you, and only your armor and shield are keeping him from killing you. Something incredibly heavy slams into your armor and you choke, lurching backwards.

“Enchanted armor? The Auxilia allows that?” someone says through panting breath. A sharp metal object dings your armor as you duck and throw yourself sideways.

“Bowler! Surrender and I will spare your life!” you snarl.

“Fuck off, slave,” Jester shouts. Those enchanted war clubs slam into your shield and rip it clean off your arm, cracking a bone in the process.

You groan through clenched teeth. “I killed Ding, Laurenz, Hooks! You think you’ll stop me?” you snarl. “Surrender! Now!”

He seems to hesitate. “So I did recognize you. You were in the forest.”

“Surrender or I swear I’ll kill you! I already got your redhead friend!”

You realize the slip of the tongue you committed about a second before twin hammerblows rock you back, knocking your left shoulder loose in the socket and driving you to one knee. “Then I have no reason to turn myself in! I’m trapped in this shithole!” he roars.

Roll 1d100+9
Rolled 67 + 9

what? if he had a way out then there wouldn't be a reason to turn himself in. He thinks weird.
Rolled 51 + 9

Rolled 19 + 9

He uses dual clubs as a weapon. I don't think he's too bright.
Don't you diss dual clubs
He has a Jester theme to uphold.
You wait until the spots of blood and acid on his arm are behind his head, so he’s swinging, and then move.

He’s unbalanced. You sweep low with one leg and pivot on your good arm. He stumbles backwards a pace as your armored feet knock into his ankle. His leg locks up and he nearly falls.

“Ah, fuck!” he growls. You roll away and raise your spear in your right hand, holding it parallel to the ground.

“We killed her, all right,” you bluff. “All the more reason you should give up. Your knowledge has value.”

He roars in anger and vanishes into the fog again. “Can’t you wring it from her soul?” he demands. His voice has a metallic ring to it now. He must have put his mask on. “You Heralds can do that!”

“Maybe. But I dislike killing. Give up. Last chance.”

“A soldier who dislikes killing! Soutri was right! You’re pathetic!”

The stinging gas parts as something BIG hurtles out. You catch it full on the plate and topple back, tasting blood on your tongue. You roll over backwards and scramble back up, but almost trip on the fishing net bundle he tossed.

“Feathers is alive!” you shout.

“So?” Another net bundle soars through the air. You duck it and glare into the gas, looking for the source. “She was weak!”

There! Next to the gas tank. It must have been shipped in from a factory somewhere. He’s crouching, lifting something heavy. He must be out of knives.

Hart rises to his feet, looking dizzy. “Forget it, Sergeant,” he mumbles. “Just blow up the gas.”

“If it touches off more tanks on that barge, it’ll blow us all to hash!” you snap.

>What do?
File: 1394508827062.gif (78 KB, 600x600)
78 KB
Use the sling to shoot him with another acid grenade.

pls no
You unwind your sling and load up another acid grenade as Hart grabs his own throwing knife. “Where the hell is Gannet?” he asks.

No sooner does he say it than she appears, panting heavily. “I’m here! What do you need?”

“I’m gonna burn this son of a bitch,” you growl, and you whip the grenade at him.

He clearly wasn’t expecting it. He drops the impromptu weapon he was making and tumbles into the water with a huge splash. The grenade shatters harmlessly against a pile of rope, next to where he was standing.

Hart gasps. “He’s in the water!”

>Time to decide. Capture or kill?

And how do you want to do that?
>Drop the Current grenade into the water (guaranteed death, but the note and all his possessions [including cloak] will be destroyed)
>Try to use the frag grenades on him when you see him (roll 1d100+30)
>writein (success by merit of suggestion)

>Use the Glue Grenade to try to pin him to a boat hull (roll 1d100+2)
>Use the concentrated Acid to turn the water caustic and force him out (roll 1d100+4)
>Use And All The World Shall Sing to compel him to surrender (guaranteed success, but you have to both justify the act to Asa [who will be reasonable] and live with the fact that it will prove to the whole town that you are a Herald)
Rolled 37 + 4

>Concentrated acid
File: 1327910631039.png (19 KB, 300x309)
19 KB
Rolled 95 + 30

>>Try to use the frag grenades on him when you see him (roll 1d100+30)
Three bad rolls tonight. You owe me, 4chan!
One for lethal, one for non-lethal. I'll give it ten more minutes and start writing.
Rolled 87 + 30

>>Try to use the frag grenades on him when you see him (roll 1d100+30)
Rolled 79 + 2


Use the Glue Grenade to try to pin him to a boat hull
File: Cender_emblem.png (40 KB, 974x762)
40 KB
It’s obvious that he thinks that the redhead has all the knowledge you’ll need. It would have been nice to take him alive, but he’s not going to allow that, it seems.

You grab a frag grenade and load. “I’ll just kill him when he surfaces, I think,” you say aloud.

“Works for me,” Hart says. He grips the side of his head and groans. “I hit something…”

The water ripples near the edge of the wharf. You stare at the spot and see the river water clinging to something man-shaped.

“Gotcha!” You whip the frag at him and step out of sight.

The grenade shatters against his armor, blasting him underwater as nails rip outward at shocking speed. He screams as it shreds his skin and drives him against the hull of a barge behind him. You prime another and prepare to throw when an arrow zips out of the empty marketplace and takes him right in the neck, pinning him to the hull.

“That’s what you get, you son of a bitch!” Auvi yells. The wounded elf drops his bow from his shaking hands and falls to his knees, holding his injured limb. “Can’t believe I hit him,” he mumbles.

The four of you reconvene around Auvi as the Shadows troop up. Sir Reed has the woman slung over his shoulder. “Ho! You four got the bastard?” he asks.

“We did,” you confirm. “He’s pinned to a barge hull out in the river.”

He squints at the unusual sight of a bloody arrow sticking into nothing. “Hmm. We’ll retrieve the body.”

Zahn steps out of the shadows of a storefront as you drag the corpse onto dry land. “What the hell were you doing over here?” she asks, surveying the carnage.

“Winning,” Hart says curtly. The young swordsman sheathes his weapon. “Did you find that spy?”

“Oh, yes I did, and he’s running for the city,” the slender woman says. “He grabbed a horse and took off like a bolt of lightning.”

“Great,” you mutter.

>Now what?

>Read the note
>Find the spy and chase him
>Secure the woman
>Page Asa
Have some of the brothers secure the woman.
Go after the spy with the others. Page Asa on the way. I realized she's gonna be mad we once again didn't tell her "Hey, fight is about to start!"

Get info about the note and whatever from her.
>have a shadow secure the woman
>chase the spy with everyone else, page Asa while chasing if you can do so without slowing down.
As the others see to their gear, tie up the prisoner, and start pawing through the body, you tap the Gem. {My Lady?}

[Some day, I hope you realize how little I can help you if I don’t know you’re about to start fighting,] Asa says flatly.

{Sorry. I did take him down without casualties.}

[Yes. Well done. We were right. He was going to sell his skills to the bandit princes in the south.]

{Did he know where Soutri and Kotrick are hiding?}

[No. But he did know one thing of use: the forename of the Explorer Master who sold everybody the armaments. I’m adding it to the list.]

You grin in satisfaction. {Great! I hope we find the bastard before he gets the bright idea of arming the secessionists in the south. Speaking of, they had a spy here, bartering with Jester before it all went to hell. He’s heading for the city now. Can you intercept him? Or warn the King?}

[No.] Her answer makes you recoil in surprise, but she keeps going. [I’m sorry, my daughter, but I will not get involved in your politics.]

{He was going to buy ancient weapons!} you protest.

[Yes, and you prevented him from doing so. If you wish your particular kingdom to stop your particular problem, of course you may do so. On your own time. We have a job to do.]

>How do we feel?


I figured she'd say as much. But unless she's going to give a direct order. Our own time is right now.

It is her word and considering how we took down the conspiracy, we're more operating as a normal soldier now.
{I understand. We’re still pursuing him, though.}

[Fine. Good luck.]

You pull your hand away as a team of Guards race up, blades drawn. “You! Don’t move!” their leader shouts, leveling his blade at you.

“We weren’t,” Hart mutters. The Guards rush up and surround you all, with their weapon points in.

“What the hell did you do? Who are you?” their leader demands.

Sir Reed taps his pauldron. “Legionary Shadow Team Commander Sir Reed, Clen. This is my team.”

The Guard gapes. “What the hell is wrong with you, knight? Why did you charge into my town and blow up a barge?”

“We didn’t. It was this chump,” Hart retorts hotly, kicking the body for emphasis. “He was wanted for a LOT of murders in Clen.”

“Do you doubt my authority here?” Reed asks mildly.

“I doubt your sanity! What body?” the Guard demands, pointing at the invisible corpse.

Gannet ducks down and rips something free of the corpse, and it’s suddenly visible again. The Guards all recoil, and even you’re shocked at the sight.

His body – all of it – is covered in hideous welts. The parts your bombs didn’t destroy are crisscrossed in angry red marks.

“That’s what happens when you use these,” she says, passing the invisibility talisman to you. “Something bad happens to people who engage those.”

The Guard starts to sputter a demand when Reed holds up one gauntleted hand. “Look, I don’t have time for this,” he says politely. “This man was meeting with a spy, Lake-Watcher. He works for the secession movement. That spy escaped, and is heading for the city.”

Guards aren’t equipped for this sort of disturbance, but this one tries his best. “That’s a real shame, but if he’s on horseback, then he’s already out of our reach,” he says angrily.

“Then my compatriots will have to pursue him, won’t they?” Reed asks mildly.

>Take the opportunity – pursue on horseback
>Stay and help clean up
>Demand that the prisoner be secured and brought back to the city by wagon
>>Demand that the prisoner be secured and brought back to the city by wagon
>>Then go on horseback after the guy.

It shoudn't take too long to do the first.
>>Take the opportunity – pursue on horseback
>>Demand that the prisoner be secured and brought back to the city by wagon

Have a brother stay with her. Whichever one was injured (I forget). Go with everyone else after the spy.

If any of the brothers are going to get picky and say they're not being paid for anything beyond the dead guy then just go with the Shadows.

>Take the opportunity – pursue on horseback
Mindful of your status, you force absolute calm into your voice. “All right, Guard, listen,” you say quietly. “I understand that this jurisdictional pissing match isn’t fair or reasonable, but we need to pursue this guy. Okay? Please secure the prisoner and send her back by wagon, and we’ll be out of your hair.”

The Guard glares at you, but he’s outranked and he knows it. “Fine. Fine. Just get out of here,” he growls.

You gesture to Auvi and Zahn. “Auvi, you’re hurt. Zahn, you’re not in armor. You stay and watch the prisoner, and take anything the corpse had on him. I’m going after Lake-watcher.”

“I’m coming with you,” Hart declares. “I don’t give a shit about the spy or whatever, but I need to go home for something else.”

Gannet nods. “I may as well tag along and report to Master Culler our success.”

“I will pass along word to the King,” Drevie pipes up.

Reed taps his brow. “Very well. I shall remain and assist the good Corporal,” he says, indicating the Guard with his words. “Shadow Stone, you shall remain as well.”

“Take my kitbag, it’s on the horse,” Auvi pipes up, grimacing as he probes his nasty wound. At least it isn’t bleeding any more. “I’ve got grenades and a map in there.”

“Thanks, Auvi,” Hart says.

>Any final words, or do you pursue now?
Leaving the enraged Guards and unflappable Shadows in your wake, the four of you take off at full speed for the stables. Stopping only long enough to take Auvi’s gear and attach it to your horse you kick the horses out onto the road and make for Clen.

The weather this time couldn’t be more perfect. The animals have their limits, of course, and you have to slow down for them to graze and drink, but you’re still hauling ass the rest of the way.

You ride right through lunch and into the dinner hours, before Gannet finally calls a halt.

“Sergeant, the horses are dead tired,” she says, stroking her animal’s neck. You don’t need magic to see that she’s right. They’re slowing, and their flanks heave with every breath.

“Fine.” You raise a fist and the quartet comes to a stop. “Are there any inns near us?”

“We passed one a mile or so back,” Drevie informs you.

You shake your head. “Hell with that. We stop here and let the animals rest in the woods.”

“This is bandit country!” Hart protests.

“You wanted to come along,” you snap. “Quit bitching and get off the road.”

You break a quick camp in the woods. Drevie ties off the animals as Hart breaks out rations and Gannet starts a fire. You pace back and forth beside the crackling flame, wondering what the hell this all means.

Of course Asa doesn’t support one nation over another! But why did she convince Haret to spare Clen when he found out the Orbs were there, then? Why not, if not because of Cender’s pre-eminent status? Its being world headquarters of so many Guilds, its being the home of the Firesouls, its being the closes to the Sanctuary Islands, its being the wealthiest and best-armed nation in the world, and Clen’s status as unofficial capital of the north?

“Sergeant Ledren?” Gannet asks.

You interrupt your musing to look down at her. She has her hands on the wood, lighting it up into a real cooking fire.

She looks up at you, eyes filled with sudden emotion. “…Was he telling the truth? Are you really a Herald?”

She heard. Gods damn it all.

>Wat say?
Just take off the bandana. Cat's out of the bag, toothpaste out of the tube and all that.

Take off the bandana to show her, but put it back on after. It's quickly becoming common knowledge, but it's not there yet.
Someday, you’ll go public. You swear an path that YOU will decide when. “Yes. I am a Herald.” You untie the bandana and pull it free, shaking your hair loose. “See?” The others stare. With a sudden pang, you see that Hart hasn’t even tapped the Well. He really is just twenty, twenty one. You may well be the oldest one here.

“It’s real,” Drevie breathes. “You’re real. Figuring it out… it’s not the same.”

“My Lady,” Gannet whispers. “I don’t believe it.”

Hart just stares. “Did Asa forget the Pact? The last time there were Heralds, there was war!”

“Think she forgot? Really, kid?” you ask coldly. You retie the bandana and glare at him. “Eight hundred, dead in a second, because of an ancient superweapon.” You tap the Gem through the brim of your bandana. “This is the alternative to Clen getting demolished.”

“But now? They take such pains not to endorse one side over another in the war!” Drevie points out. “A Cenderian soldier has a status of official purpose. It looks like they’re supporting Cender over the rest of the world. I mean, they should, but I know why they don’t.”

Indoctrination’s a bitch. Drevie is at least rational. “Now, yes.” You sit by the fire and stare into the burning wood. “Keep your mouths shut.”

“Can I ask you a question, though?” Gannet says awkwardly.


She hesitates. “How many of these criminals are there?”

You count them off. “There were twelve. I killed three. They recruited one more. I captured one, then killed three. Six left alive.”

“Amazing,” Hart says. “Where?”

“Margent and Clen. They’re in hiding in the aftermath of the riot,” you say. “Save one, who’s sent assassins after my family. Another is spying on me at every chance, and he’s already nearly killed me.” You sigh into the cooling air. “My life is pretty complex.”

Gannet, surprisingly, looks to be on the verge of tears. “I’m sorry your burden is so heavy, my lady,” she says unevenly.

You peer over at her. “What’s wrong?”

“Wrong? I mean… I’m sad you’re threatened, but… I’m happy!”

You all stare at her as a tear works down her face. “It’s so disheartening to hear about all the damage the Triad has done to the world, trying to purge it of the old weapons,” she says quietly. “It makes me so happy to see that they care enough to send us a guide.”

>”Whoa, whoa, I’m no guide. I’m covert ops.”
>”Uh, thanks.”
>”I should think so.”
>Actually ask Asa to pop in and give you the new list/destroy the talisman
>>”Uh, thanks.”
>>"Though I don't feel much of a guide"
>>”Uh, thanks.”
"Uh, thanks. But slow down a bit there. I've only been at this <insert time since forest incident> and the only objective I've been given is to hunt down the conspiracy. Once again a secret, albeit one that is getting more widely known and less useful by the day..."
Creepy. “Thanks, but please stop that,” you say gently. It’s not like her reaction would have been inappropriate three thousand years ago. “I’m just Elsa Ledren. Please don’t spread this around. I’m keeping it quiet for a reason.”

“I understand,” she says, wiping her tears.

“What are these conspirators doing?” Drevie asks.

“I have no idea what they want besides a huge increase in ancient artifact trading,” you admit. “But I suspect we’re getting closer to finding out. I’ve killed over half of them now.”

Hart shakes his head again. “What will you do after?”

“Retire. A nice little place in the woods. Raise some kids, be boring, work hard, meditate. Whatever,” you say with a shrug. “I’m not much of a guide, you know. I’ve only been at this… fuck, maybe a week and change. Hard to believe.”

Gannet’s eyes widen. “You were Heralded only the day after the battle in the woods?”

“Hours after,” you recall, shuddering at the memory of that pain. The fire flickers in sympathy. “Never want to go through that again.”

The others seem even more like kids, now. Even Drevie, in his enchanted stealth armor. “Can you actually… talk to Asa?” he asks carefully. “I mean, her Avatars are still around, aren’t they?”

“Yes…” you say as your voice trails off. You told the other Brothers about the Orb before, but those were far, far more experienced troops than these kids.

>Actually tell these ones more
>Page Asa and ask her to do it
>Say no more
>>Page Asa and ask her to do it
If she's not busy. Gotta discuss newly gained info anyway.

Maybe we'll get some free Brotherhood assistance in the future if they're impressed enough
“You know what?” you ask, feeling suddenly mischievous. “Why don’t you just ask?”

“What, ask her Avatars?” Hart scoffs. “I’m a Brother and I’ve never seen one.”

You tap the Gem and pray. {My Lady, can you pop in to give me the new list?}

[Are you somewhere the others can see you?]

{They figured it out.}

The others all gasp at once. You hide a smile.

Asa’s Avatar has appeared beside you, kneeling on the moss like you were. “Hello, my daughter,” she says. “Busy day?”

“More than a little,” you say. “Still. Cross Bowler off the list.”

“Indeed. Here is the new one,” she says, handing you a scrap of paper.

1. Explorer: ‘Old Master Novai’
2. Noble 1: Don Kotrick, local crime lord, location unknown – suspected to be in noble quarter
3. Noble 2: Elger Moor, Gifted Mage, and second-in-command of Kotrick, location unknown, but definitely in the merchants’ quarter
4. Mercenary 1: Everett Soutri, former Army officer, hiding in Clen noble district, male human
5. Mercenary 2: Caliso Wind-thief, female dark elf, running for her life on the Margent Highways, Gifted battle scout
6. Mercenary 3: Gardener ‘Hooks’ Dunwaith, Gifted, Male human. Deceased
7. Mercenary 4: Kerry Ding, War Mage, Orondian expatriate, lives in a small farmstead in the woods near ambush site, male human. Deceased
8. Mercenary 5: Derek ‘Jester’ Bowler, former member of the Governor’s bodyguard, hiding in a warehouse on the river to the north, outside the city, awaiting passage to another country, male wilderness elf. Deceased.
9. Mercenary 6: Faye Whitehand, referred to as ‘Feathers’, female human. Captured alive
10. Bodyguard 1: Richi Donnai. Deceased
11. Bodyguard 2: Heldo Donnai. Deceased
12. Invisible bodyguard: William Laurenz. Deceased
13. Kotrik’s hitman, name unknown, handle ‘Forest’

>”Then we’re off to Margent after we resupply.”

>”Then we’re off to Margent after we resupply.”
>>”Then we’re off to Margent after we resupply.”
and after possibly capturing the spy

Can't forget him. From a purely practical point of view it'd keep the King from raging after learning that 'discreetly' means 'explosions and tear gas on the wharf'.
“Soutri’s running out of places to hide,” you note with satisfaction.

“So he is.”

“Off to Margent, then, as soon as I resupply,” you say. You memorize the list and toss it into the fire. “Well. Thanks, my Lady.” You look up at the others, who are slowly recovering. “Shadow Drevie, Sister Gannet, and Brother Hart.”

“Hello, my children,” Asa says with a smile. “I understand you all have been quite busy too.”

“We… yes, my Lady,” Hart says, at last out of things to say.

Gannet is tearing up again. Drevie is the only one holding his shit together. “My Lady, may I ask you something?” he says quietly.

“Of course, young man.”

“What did these people do to you?” he asks. “The magnitude of that tornado… it’s unreal.”

She winces. “Yes. It was an ugly thing. Suffice it to say, the weapons these people traffic are very, very frightening.”

“I see,” he says.

The others all fall quiet as you poke the fire and start cooking your rations. “Anyone else hungry?” you ask.

“Oh, right, right,” Hart says, gathering the food. Gannet slowly scoots over next to you where she can be closer to Asa, which is actually sort of cute. She’s fidgeting like she’s meeting her personal hero as well as her Demigoddess.

Asa looks over with a faint smile. “Yes?”

“I… I just wanted to say thank you,” Gannet says.

“For what?”

“For… I dunno,” Gannet says, blushing. “Just…”

Asa shakes her head slightly. Her curly hair catches the dim light of the sun and casts odd light around the camp. “Child, Mother Mai’te made this world together with the others. I simply enjoy and maintain it.”

“Isn’t that enough to be grateful?” Gannet asks bravely.

Asa chuckles. “Perhaps.”

Despite the clear desire of the others to stay with Asa, the road calls. You all scarf down food and use the bushes as needed, and mount up again. Gannet extinguishes the fire with a snap of her fingers. Asa watches you all prepare to leave from the roadside. “Be well, my children,” she says. “May the roads be clear for you all.”

“Thank you, my Lady!” Gannet says proudly, and the others echo it.

[And listen to my words when you lie down to sleep tonight, Elsa,] Asa adds as you trot off. [I have words to say that are not urgent, but neither are for their ears.]

{Understood, my Lady. I’ll speak to you tonight. And try to remember this time,} you say bashfully.

[Oh, would you?] Asa asks drily. [Nice bunch of kids you have there. Keep them safe.]

{I promise.}

>Ride FLAT OUT until dark
>Save the horses for speed tomorrow
>Ride FLAT OUT until dark
>>Save the horses for speed tomorrow

I don't think we'd get to our destination fast enough for going all out to really count.
The group may be inspired by Asa, but the horses aren’t. You ride them as hard as you can until darkness falls, and even then a bit more.

By the time you arrive at a suitable campsite, the poor animals are barely mobile. You’re actually worried one of them might not make it.

“I’ll heal the poor boy as best I can,” Gannet says, running a shimmering hand over one animal’s flank. It’s heaving, hard, and you think you see some blood in its spittle.

“Sorry, but we have to beat that bastard to the city,” you say.

“I know. I just feel sorry for it,” she says. She uses what little healing magic she has on the animal, and it starts to calm.

“Either way, we’re pitching camp in the woods,” Drevie says. He grabs the bag he took off of Auvi’s horse and pulls the tentroll out. “I’ll pitch here.”

You sip some water and keep watch on the road as Hart wanders over to tend to the horses with Gannet. Drevie sets up the tents out of sight of the roads.

“Quite a thing, isn’t it, Sergeant?” Drevie asks conversationally. “Chasing a spy into our own city like this.”

“It’s a huge pain in the ass,” you grumble. “If we catch the prick, though, the King will be pretty happy.”

“Wonder what he was doing up there before your merc Jester interrupted him,” Drevie muses.

You hear a girlish giggle over your shoulder and see Hart withdraw his hand after a playful squeeze of Gannet’s backside. She mockingly pushes his hand away, but doesn’t move an inch. You roll your eyes. “Better set all three tents,” you say wryly.

He glances back at the other two and sighs. “Kids. Thinking about sex at a time like this?”

“You got a better way to get sleepy in a hurry out in the woods?” you ask with a laugh. “Let them have their fun.”

“Hmph. I’ll leave that to my wife.”

“You’re married?”

“On paper. Caught her cheating on me last time I left home,” he says darkly. “She does that again, we’re done forever.”

Awkward. “Sorry to hear that.”

“Eh. Military life.” He sighs as he drives a tentpole home. “Dunno what I was expecting.”

He’s definitely a normal Auxiliary recruited up to the Shadows, unlike Reed. The knightly class tend to have more complex marriages that start later. “My own husband hates that I vanish for months at a time, too,” you say wistfully.

“Heralds can marry?” He blinks as your shoulders tense. “Sorry. I just don’t know… well, anything. I’ll shut up.”

“Forget it. I’m on first watch.”

As the four of you settle down – with well-concealed noise from one tent and total silence from another – you lean against a tree and stare out at the road. The occasional merchant wanders by with a laden cart, and you see a Guard or two on long patrol go by, but nothing else seems to be going on. Most of the traffic on the river is probably military today anyway.

[May I intrude, my daughter?]

{Go ahead.}

[I have discussed things with my counterparts, and we want to do four things. First, thank you for trying so hard to take these criminals alive. It’s reassuring to my human comrades that I picked someone with a sense of restraint.]

You smile at the praise. {Thanks, my Lady.}

[Second, I wish to reassure you that your family has suffered no more attacks in your absence. I popped in on your father the other day, and he has relayed the wellness of the rest of the Ledren family.]

{I guess Ledren, Aulder, and Sparing families, since my parents have their birth last names in place.}

[Right. Thirdly, I have passed an updated list to the King, and despite my reluctance, informed him that you are pursuing another individual here. Not to help, you understand, but just so that he is ready for your return. I will not partake of socio-political jockeying.]


[And fourthly, finally… I have a gift. I have prepared a memory for you, one that will grant you new power.]

>”Will it expand my brand? If it gets any larger, I won’t be able to conceal it.”
>”Cool. Lay it on me.”
>”Can it wait until after we’re done riding?”
>>”Will it expand my brand? If it gets any larger, I won’t be able to conceal it.”

It's a valid concern
>”Cool. Lay it on me.”
File: 1394087815769.jpg (255 KB, 1024x765)
255 KB
255 KB JPG
The thread has hit the bump limit. I'll make one more post and end it.

{I appreciate it, my Lady, but the brand is so large already that I’m having trouble concealing it.}

[This won’t expand your brand for months, my daughter.]

{Then… thank you, I accept.}

[Good. When you sleep tonight, you will awaken wiser.]



Progress: B
Combat: C+
Improv: C

Middling to fair all around. Progress is fine, you’re unlocking and overcoming as best as you can at this pace. You’re officially over the half-way point! Funny story, the invisible guy’s third and final appearance was SUPPOSED to be this level, but you killed him in the first mission, so Jester was invisible instead. And you still won! Nice job.

In terms of combat, above average performance in the battles against the conspiracy. You got everybody out alive, which is good, of course.

Improv, some good lines, but you also went with pre-made options in a lot of places where writeins would have earned bonuses, so that offset it a bit.

I’ll be back next Friday! Thanks for playing in what is officially the longest Dead Gods Quest thread ever!
Thanks for running!
My pleasure. These long threads remind me of the olden days.
Rolled 11 + 2


Most enjoyable. Looking forward to next time.
Good run, entertaining to read man

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