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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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It's time for Dead Gods!

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

Resident artist: Eversor_


Last few threads have been chasing down and killing Jester, one of the six mercenaries, and now, only two are left! After deciding to carefully preempt the possible public revelation of your identity by the enemy, you leaked your true power to the five highest ranking members of the Circle, who will begin preparing the populace for you.

Now, we pick up with the Governor having been briefed with everything he needs to know.
You’ve met with everybody who has a say in this, and now, it’s time for a decision.

Governor Ekrine peers at you over his desk as you sit down. “The opportunity is here, then?” he asks. “Wind-thief or Soutri?”

“So it seems,” you sigh. “I can’t let Wind-thief escape, but I can’t let Soutri run amok in the city.”

Ekrine nods and looks over some papers, including a list of the conspirators. “So… the ringleader’s name is Novai?”

“Apparently, and he’s a Master at some branch or chapter of the Explorers’ Guild, place of residence unknown,” you inform him. “Ring any bells, Governor?”

“Sadly not.” Ekrine folds the paper and slips it into a drawer. “I’ll pass along copies to the King and Captain-General. Incidentally, how did you meeting with the Circle go?”

“As well as I hoped,” you say, glad to finally pass along good news. You pull your bandana a bit lower over your eyes and shoot a glance at the locked door. “Er, I don’t mean to be rude, but how many people on your staff know about this?”

He tilts his head, as if shocked you’d even ask. “None. I made a point of telling nobody.”


“Do you think we should? The timing of your public appearance should not be determined by our enemies,” Ekrine cautions.

>To be honest, I think I should stay covert as long as possible.
>We should go public right away.
>I intend to make it known that there is a Herald out there, but not me.
this is what your brand looks like now by the way
>>I intend to make it known that there is a Herald out there, but not me.
Break it in pieces
>I intend to make it known that there is a Herald out there, but not reveal the identity just yet.
Ekrine’s question is a loaded one, but it’s not unfair. “Governor, with respect, I can’t just announce my existence to the world. I need to prepare the people.” You lean forward and tap the desk with one finger for emphasis. “We can turn any attempt by Soutri or Kotrick to leak my identity to my favor by making people want for me to exist. They weren’t all mollified by the King’s speech; they want to know the Pantheon still loves and trusts them. If my presence is spun by Soutri, I’ll come off looking like an assassin. If I can frame it by public expectation, then I can stay on top, and deliver my own message. So, I’ll start by having the Circle spread the good news in diluted form.”


You shrug. “Being heard to proclaim the necessity of a Herald’s presence in public, exclaiming the importance of trust in the Triad now, of all times, that sort of thing. Letting the rumor mill do its work.”

Ekrine ponders this. “Doesn’t that absolutely necessitate your public appearance, however? If you train people to expect your presence, they’ll be resentful if you win and never appear.”

He has a point.

>”That sort of work can be undone by one public appearance by a Triad member.”
>”That’s because I will appear, inevitably.”
>”It’s not a concern.”
>”That’s because I will appear, inevitably.”
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“I will appear. To bid the city farewell when I leave, if nothing else,” you say firmly. “I owe this city.”

“Of course.” Ekrine rises to his feet and grabs a book off of a shelf. “So, this last pair of mercenaries. Wind-thief is in a greater position to escape and Soutri is more likely to be able to cause damage. Which should you prefer we pursue?”

“Where is Wind-thief now?” you ask.

“From all we’ve gathered, she’s on the road between Kepple and Margent,” Ekrine says, pointing at the two cities on the map on his desk. “It’s amazing, how fast she’s moved.”

You peer at the map, surprised. “How did you get this intelligence?”

“Scouts, patrolling the roads. Apparently, some of them knew her from old missions,” Ekrine supplies.

>Prioritize Soutri
>Prioritize Wind-thief
>ask more questions
>page Asa for advice
>page Asa for advice
If she thinks we're ready to take Soutri, then Soutri.
>>”That’s because I will appear, inevitably.”
It is your dessssstiny
You sit back in the chair and think that one over. “Well… it’s not entirely my call, sir, since we have no idea what Soutri is even still doing in town,” you say carefully. “But let me ask.”

You tap the God Gem on your forehead and think. {My Lady, do you know what Soutri is even still up to in town?}

[I wish,] Asa says tiredly. [I do wish, my daughter. The only thing I can say for certain is that he seems intent on staying in touch with the rest of the leaders of the group, with Novai, Forest, and Kotrick. Why? I don’t know. I can imagine he wants to extort more money or artifacts from them, in return for a promise to kill you.]

Fun. {Why hasn’t Forest attacked me again?}

[That, I do not know,] Asa says. [I thought he would have. He’s certainly been ordered to. Hooks knew that.]

{So should I pursue Soutri or Wind-thief first?} you ask.

She pauses. [In your position? I would pursue Wind-thief before she takes ship into the south and eludes you. It could be decades before she turns up again, and you did vow you’d help her sister.]

>What say

>”I’m off to Margent, Governor.”
>”I’m going to take the time to find Soutri first and foremost.”
>”I’m off to Margent, Governor.”
>”I’m off to Margent, Governor.”
You release the link and meet the Governor’s patient stare. “Sir, Lady Asa recommends that I head off to Margent and capture or kill Wind-thief.”

“Then so be it,” he says. “What supplies will you need?”

“Well, a horse, for starters,” you say, listing it all off. “Some of the discretionary funding set aside by the King, the forfeiture money… and continued housing for my family.”

“The horse is no problem, of course,” he says gregariously, “and we would be honored to house your family a while longer. The ride to Margent and back on a fast mount is over two weeks, of course. As for money, you will have to ask the King in person for that, I don’t know where he keeps it.”

You rise and bow. “Thank you, Governor, for your generosity. My family owes you.”

“Nonsense. I’d do the same for any of my people who have received death threats,” he says. “Do be safe out there, Herald.”

Outside, you start the climb up to the private audience hall of the King, thinking about how much money to pull. Wind-thief’s sister would harldy charge you, but if you want to bring others, it would be costly. Maybe you should decide whom to ask for before withdrawing any flash money.

>Bring Garren OR Kelscik (NOT BOTH)
>Bring a Brother/Sister (somebody you know? A recommendation from Culler?)
>Bring Dervich
>Bring (other)
This decision will affect all scenes from here on out, since the mission will take two weeks MINIMUM in-game. Please take your time and consider carefully.
Who is Kelscik and Dervich again? Can we bring multiple people, as in Garren and Wind-Thief's sister?
Wind-thief's sister is coming regardless. You're rounding out the party.

Kelscik is the other Firesoul in town. You haven't met him, but he'd be cheaper than Garren.

Dervich is your former #2 from your Auxilia days. You've fought with him extensively, so he'd be able to cover you most efficiently.
Do we get one option or several?
You can bring either Firesoul, and as many other people as you want. Both Firesouls aren't an option since you can't ask them both to abandon their teaching duties, but one could cover for the other. You can bring as many other people as you want, but remember that a huge party will move slower and be easier to detect.
Alright. Voting Garren and Dervich, as this should provide firepower and familiarity. Make sure to check grenade loadout before the party ventures forth.

Also, lightswitch rave.

I'll vote >>33829651 but a Brother/Sister at Culler's recommendation instead of Garren. Firesouls seem like too much firepower for this, and she mad at us still. Better let her cool off since we'll need her for Soutri.
You didn't give Ekrine a time. You can go and talk to Garren first before you commit. That would also help yo get an exact amount to take from the King.
Switching vote to this, possibly gift Garren some nice booze before departing.
>Bring Dervich
Because why not.
I don't see much of an issue with this.
Okay, closing the vote!
Wind-thief is trying to run, not fight. Bringing as large a party as you did to take Jester is probably unnecessary. Bringing Caliso Arla Wind-thief’s sister, Everi Wind-thief, is obvious. Bringing Garren… it won’t be cheap, but it would be smart.

But if things do go wrong, you need someone you can count on. Someone you can trust. Someone who has saved your life already. Luckily, you know just such a man.

Half an hour later, back in your Auxilia casual uniform, you’re in the medical infirmary of the castle barracks, sitting at Corporal Alan Dervich’s bedside. “Sergeant,” he says, looking up from his fish and veggie lunch. “Good to see you.”

“You too, Corporal. Feel up for some work?” you ask.

“Mai’te’s tears, I need it!” he groans. “I’m bored out of my mind!”

“Hitting on the nurses lose its appeal?” you ask drily.

“Yes, when they’re actually helping people!” he says. He sits up gingerly, still a bit wobbly on one knee. “Why, are we getting shipped out?”

>Use your power to heal him
>Explain everything
>Get him somewhere private before explaining and asking for help
>>Get him somewhere private before explaining and asking for help
>>Then heal him (for demostrative purposes and to help him)
“Yeah. New orders.” You reach out an arm and help him to his feet, but he immediately sidles away. He obviously doesn’t want to look weak.

“Alright, what’s up, Sergeant?” he asks.

You jerk your head at a supply closet and start over. After a second, he follows. As you shut yourselves in, he turns to look at you with a very strange look on his face. “Thought you were married,” he says lightly.

“Shut up,” you sigh. “I need your help. You can refuse this.”

“…Okay,” he says awkwardly.

You draw in a deep breath. “Al, I didn’t survive the battle in the woods.”

He jerks his head back and nearly brains himself on a box of rat poison. “What?”

“The battle in the woods. I didn’t survive it,” you say. “I got hit in the spine, and I fell. Connor came back for me, and he died too. The only reason I’m here is because the Pantheon called me back to help.”

Dervich gapes. “Are you drunk?”

You yank the bandana free and show him the brand. It’s almost all the way down to your eyebrows now. “Do you know what this is?”

The Corporal leans back against the cabinet, shaking. “It’s not possible,” he whispers.

“It’s true,” you insist. “It’s all true. They thought bringing me back and charging me with killing the conspiracy that took out our guys was better than just levelling the city.”

He reaches one shaking hand out and touches the Gem. “It’s ice-cold,” he manages. “Oh… it’s real…” You can imagine all the horrors of the battle rushing back at once, and move to forestall it.

“Here. Let’s see that leg,” you say. You grab the leg where he got lacerated by the thrown glass and focus all your might.

The raw, alien power of the prauns rushes through your arms and into his wound. Before he can even gasp in pain, you feel his flesh shift under your hand.

Exhaustion slams into you. You teeter back and catch yourself on a crate as he gingerly tests his balance. “You… I… what?” he stammers. “You healed me?”

“Asa gave me that power,” you murmur. “Got it?”

He looks down at his uniformed leg, then back up at you… then up at the sky, through several levels of stone and wood. “So… they do still care,” he whispers.

“They never stopped, Al. They just forgot to show us for a while,” you say. “Can you help me kill these bastards?”

He looks back down at you, with a reverence that you don’t usually see in junior non-coms filling his eyes. “What’s my order, Sergeant?” he asks.

>Tell him to gather skirmish gear
>Tell him to gather close assault gear
>Tell him to gather something more exotic

>Human, male, 23 years of age, single, no Gift and no magic, skirmish Corporal in your battalion
>Average physical ability for a soldier, exceptional hearing, rock-climbs for fun
>Tell him to gather skirmish gear
>>Tell him to gather skirmish gear

Hopefully this'll be up to task.
>>Tell him to gather bondage gear
"Yes, you need to learn what you can do with that sling."
>Tell him to gather skirmish gear
You squeeze his shoulder and meet his eyes. “Grab the old kits, Corporal. Spear, shield, sling, grenades, bullets. Grab some extra grenades for me. I’m going to go call in a favor.”

“When do I meet you, Sergeant?” he asks. “And, well… where? How long will we be gone?”

“Parade ground. Tomorrow morning. Two weerks,” you say. “We’re chasing a conspirator who ran.”

He starts to salute, then realizes you’re still just, technically, an NCO. “Yes, Sergeant. Thank you.” He hesitates as you reach for the door. “Uh… when you say you died…”


“What did you see?” he asks bravely.

You think back to the fight. “Hmph. Not much. My spirit had just started to rise from my body when Asa interrupted the process.” You fasten the bandana back on as you recall the fear and madness of death. “It’s not fun. Back before the Collapse, you’d just get sucked into the afterlife right away. Now, you sort of… don’t. You kind of drift around a bit before Asa or whoever harvests your soul at a distance.”

“I’m sorry, Sergeant,” he says.”

“Forget it. I’m alive.” You nod once and leave the closet.

Nobody was surveiling you, so you have the clear. The doctor who saw the Gem before glances your way once and goes back to his work.

>Go see Garren before you see Wind-thief’s sister
>See Wind-thief first

>Gifts were suggested. Get Garren something nice or go without?
>See Wind-thief first
>Get Garren some nice alcohol
I'll go with this.
The walk to the Brotherhood Chapter house is a quick one, but your mind is spinning the whole way. How to best break the news? Everi won’t like it either way…

The decision abruptly leaves your hands as you approach the Chapter house. “Sergeant?” a voice asks from an alley.

You take a reflexive step back and grip your spear. “Who’s there?” you demand.

Everi suddenly emerges from the shadow of the autumn sun. “I was waiting,” she says quietly. “Sorry if I scared you.”

You relax a bit as her familiar voice penetrates your combat reflexes. “What do you need? I was just coming to see you.”

She looks furtively around her before replying. “Look, you went out of town for a few days, then come back with half your people missing, then chase somebody into a butcher shop and cut his wrists,” she recites. “What the hell is going on?”

>Give her a detailed explanation
>Ask if she’s willing to come along still before explaining
>Refuse until you can get somewhere you can’t be amushed
>Give a vague explanation instead
>Give her a detailed explanation
The middle of a sidewalk is not the right venue for all this. You step into the alley and give her a quick rundown of the adventure to the ports and back, finishing with the spy.

When you’re done, she looks more than a little apprehensive. “You will give me a chance to talk to her before you do anything else, right?” she asks flatly. “You promised.”

“Yes, I did, and yes, I will,” you say. “I’m just preparing for when she doesn’t surrender.”

“She will.”

“Can you stake my life on it?” you ask pointedly. “Gather your gear. We’re leaving tomorrow morning, in the parade ground of the castle.”

She glares at you, but nods to acknowledge your instruction. “Fine. I’ll be there.”

You let out a sigh as she rounds the corner. You knew it would be difficult, but at least she’s ready, and she understands your caution. Now for Garren.

Some hour and a half later, you’re standing outside the penthouse of the Courtesans’ Guildhall, with a bottle of nice brandy under one arm. You knock once and wait.

After a moment, the door swings open. A dark elf man with an air of dignified poise, and a costly grey tunic and empty scabbard, nods politely. “Madam. I was just departing.” He’s not a Companion, that’s for damn sure. They generally don’t look that tough. You step back as he walks by, and slip into the apartment behind him.

Garren, dressed in a scholar’s robe and no armor, looks up at you coolly. “Your Eminence.” Compared to the state the place was in before, it’s vacant in here – not a soul beside you and Garren.

“Your Ladyship.” You sketch a respectful nod and plunk the bottle down on a table. “I wanted to offer you this, with my assurance that I meant no offense before.”

She sighs and levers up from where she’s reading a book with a cover about fifty syllables long. “Thank you, Elsa.” First names, good. “No harm done, I guess. Destroyed, buried, stolen by criminals, it’s out of circulation any way it could have gone. At least it’s partially salvaged.” She grabs the bottle and sets it by the stove. “So. Off to fight again?”

“I am. I need to track down Caliso Arla Wind-thief, a member of Soutri’s gang of rogues,” you explain.

She examines the bottle and slides it into a cabinet. “What artifacts does she have?”

“Maybe none. Maybe lots. No way to know,” you say regretfully. “It’s a fifteen-day round trip to Margent on the Dwarf highways, so this may be goodbye.”

“Mmm.” Garren sets the book down and leans back against the counter, regarding you quizzically. “Want me to tag along again?”

>”Oh, could you?”
>”What’ll it cost?”
>”No, but I’d like you to keep my family safe here if you can.”
>”No, but I’d like you to keep my family safe here if you can.”
I'm going with this as I think our company is pretty good and hopefully we won't need to fight.
“I’m honored, but you have obligations here, don’t you?” you ask.

She snorts. “Yes, and then you gave me that compass, and shaved several years off of the project. I’ve got time to kill. I can just cancel my lease on this apartment, since it would expire while we’re out.”

You think that over, but shake your head after a long moment of deliberation. “No, thank you, Traveler. I’d greatly prefer if you kept an eye on my family, instead. I’d feel terrible if they had to be cooped in the castle for two weeks without me to keep them safe.”

The Firesoul waves her hand in a loose circle. “That’s quite fair. If you like, I can cast a warding spell that prevents anybody without a key from entering a few homes. It’s tricky, but it will ensure that nobody will harm your family in their houses. Figure fifteen days of casting, once per day… call it fifty grand. A ninth of what I would charge for a two-week field mission.”

That’s mighty tempting.

>Let your family stay in the castle for free
>Spend the flash money on Garren’s wards

>note: Asa cannot perform this spell since it draws on mana energy and not divine energy
If we're allowed to spend the money on that then yeah go for it.
“You would earn my heartfelt gratitude, Traveler,” you say, sagging in relief. “I’ve felt awful, confining my family like that.”

She nods. “Done. The ingedients are fairly easy to find, it’s just mana, rock salt, and calcium. Let your family know.”

“I will.” You turn to go when she catches you.

“Herald, I have an idea you may like.”

You glance back to see her slowly rubbing her hands together. “I was reading a textbook from that College where you met me the first time, preparing for a guest lecture, and I remembered something. Heralds are supposed to be able to speak in nearly any language possible, yes? They can channel their patron deity through their mouths?”

“Yes. I’ve done it.”

Garren looks slyly at the door. “Can it be used to speak in dead languages? Say… the Harpy language?”

>Page Asa to ask
>Just try to say something in a dead language
>Just try to say something in a dead language

People still speak latin, that's a dead language. No Language is ever entirely dead as long as people can speak some of it. So calling it a dead language is a bit incongruous.
“Well… I’ve never tried,” you admit. “Let’s see what happens.” You reach into your mind and try to remember anything from the memories Asa gave you of old Heralds, looking for memories of the long-gone races. All you can summon is a wisp of memory of Audrey Coulsi’s death, as he remembered hearing his Dommen foes shouting.

“I can’t… I can’t really tell,” you say at length. “I can remember hearing the words of the dead races in my Heraldic memories, but I can’t really tell what they’re saying. If I repeated it, that’s not really speaking the tongue, is it?”

“No. I mean facing a Harpy artifact and giving it voice commands, even if you’ve never heard the command before,” Garren says.

You shrug. “I don’t know how to do that.”

“Can Asa tell you?” Garren presses. “You may be capable of disabling the enemy’s weapons.”

You press the Gem and pray. {My Lady, Traveler Garren is asking me if I can use the powers of speech you’ve given me to speak in a language I don’t understand. Can I?}

[Certainly, my daughter, if somebody who can understand it is listening,] Asa replies. [If they don’t know the language, it won’t work.]

{I can’t use it for voice commands on objects?} you ask, disappointed.

[Oh, I wish it were so, but no, it needs a soul to hear it,] she says.

“Nope,” you say regretfully. “It doesn’t work.”

“Hmph. Damn. Oh well, it was worth a shot,” Garren says. “Well. Safe travels, Herald. Do come and see me when you’re done on your journey.”

“Thank you, Traveler. For everything.” You bow over your handshake and take your leave.

Calling it for tonight. See you all tomorrow. Keep the thread alive, please.
Excellent. Thanks!
That evening, your family draws together in the suite again for dinner. The tone is pretty upbeat, which is a nice change. Jome is grinning from ear to ear, especially. “Elsa, sweetheart, did I tell you the news yet?” he asks eagerly.

His good mood is infectious. “No, what’s going on?” you ask, feeling his smile spread to your lips.

He beams. “I got the job at the armory here in the castle!”

“Oh, you didn’t! Good on you, Jerome,” you say, happily accepting his bear hug. “I’m so happy for you! You landed a new job already!”

“Yeah, apparently the armorer here remembered me from when I was working outside,” Jerome says modestly.

“Well, that’s awesome, Jerome, I’m really glad for you,” you say. “What’s ironic, though, is you got a job here right after we can move back into our houses.”

Everybody starts. “Wait, what?” Darril asks.

“I talked to Traveler Garren again today, and she said she can ward our houses so nobody can get into them without a key,” you explain. “We’ll be safe inside.”

“Oh, thank goodness,” Belle sighs. “Well. Then here’s to two big pieces of good news!” she says, raising a glass. You all follow suit and clink cups together in the middle of the table.

As your parents and in-laws discuss moving their small piles of possessions back into their normal houses, you wait for the good news to saturate the room and the good food to vanish before breaking the bad news in turn. “Well, everybody, I actually had another announcement,” you admit. “I have to leave for Margent for a few weeks.”

Everybody turns to look at you, which doesn’t help. “Really? What for?” Jerome asks.

“One of the conspirators ran there, and I urgently need to chase her down.” You push your dessert around the plate a bit. “Look, I know I just got back, but… I can’t let these people go. They have too much power.”

Jerome sighs heavily, leaning back in his seat. “Yeah. Yeah, I understand.”

“Are you going alone?” Coby asks.

“No, I’m taking a few people with me,” you explain. “We think there’s a chance we could take this one alive.”

Jerome runs a hand through his hair, his frown deepening. “I really hope this is all over soon,” he mumbles. Then he winces at his own words. “I mean, I know how important it is, but…”

You grab his other hand and squeeze. “Me too. Don’t worry. I’ll be careful.”

>You have several hours to yourself before you need to turn in. Do you have any tasks you wish to undertake? If not, just post ‘Proceed.’
Hug family, then proceed.
As the meal ends, you take the time to offer Laura, Darril, Coby, and Belle ach a hug and word of thanks, for putting up with the odd circumstances as long as they have. Coby’s words seem to catch in his throat, though.

“Elsa, this is really hard to hear, I know, but… aren’t you scared?”


“By all this! Demigods and ancient weapons, and… conspiracies!” he says, waving his arm over his head to take it all in at once.

You awkwardly shrug. “Well, it can be, but Asa helps me out. Jerome helps me out. And, well, I managed to keep you guys all safe, didn’t I? This can be scary stuff, but I have powerful allies.”

Your father hugs you again, squeezing your shoulders tight. “You just stay safe out there, all right? This isn’t like the Auxilia.”

“I know, Dad.” You return the hug and sit down in the chair just inside the sitting room door. “So, I don’t head out until tomorrow morning. What do you all want to do tonight?”

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The six of you stay up for several more hours, just talking about life and living thereof. The night creeps in and darkens the window as you all laugh at Darril’s stories about the spoiled-rotten children he teaches, and Coby’s stories about the crazy shit people get up to in the Merchants’ district at night.

Finally, though, it’s time to turn in. As the group breaks up, you finish your own bathroom rituals to find Jerome waiting for you in the bed.

“Hey, sweetheart,” he sasys quietly as you settle in beside him. “Margent, right?”


“Ever been there?”

“Nope. Well, actually, briefly, during training on the river, but I never got out of the troopship,” you recall.

You wraps one arm around you and snuggles you in close. “Bring me a souvenir or something, I’ve always wanted to go see the ocean,” he says.

You smile and rest your cheek on his shoulder. “Heh. I will.”

He leans down and gently catches your lips, kissing you goodnight. “Ask Asa to pop in every so often and keep us updated, alright?”

“I will,” you promise, and you both drift off to sleep.

The sun dawns on you already dressed and ready to ride off, thanks to your tiny sleep requirements. You look over the selection of amor and weapons available to you, wonder which would be best for fighting in the port, if it comes to that.

>Swords + Dagger
>Spear + Shield + Dagger
pick one set

>Shadow Lamellar
>Auxilia enchanted Breastplate
pick one set
>>Spear + Shield + Dagger
>Shadow Lamellar
Might as well use the new stuff.
You snug the new lamellar on over your tunic and heft your old shield and spear, sliding the dagger into place on the back of the shield as you do. You fasten the helm on over the bandana, as well, just in case. You’ll have to let Wind-thief in on things at some point, but there’s no point in anybody else seeing it.

You peck Jerome goobye as he heads into the bathroom and jog down to the parade ground, where you note Everi and Alan are waiting, with their horses.

With Dervich, however, is a young Lieutenant you don’t recognize. You walk up beside him where he’s glaring at a shifty-looking Dervich and snap off a salute. “Good morning, sir.”

He whirls to glare you down. “There you are!” he says, his voice an accusation. “My newest Corporal says you pulled his assignment from my platoon for some jaunt out to Margent!”

“I did, sir, thank you,” you say, though it occurs to you that you never did actually ask Dietrich for approval before reassigning Dervich. Oops. “I’m sure that the paperwork is all in order.” Which is a lie, but whatever. He’s some Second Lieutenant boot, you’ve got six years under your belt. He can go complain somewhere else.

“There is no bloody paperwork!” he snaps. “You’re not taking my Corporal, Sergeant, and that is the way it’s going to be!”

You mount the horse that Wind-thief set aside for you – one of her own mounts, interestingly, with a cool tribal braid on the saddle straps – and nod your thanks to her. “Lieutenant, the authority of the Captain-Generals office eclipses that of the Home Guard Battalion junior officers, and I’m sure Dietrich can confirm that if it’s unclear. I don’t have any more choice here than you did.”

The Lieutenant glares at you for a moment longer before stomping off.

“Sorry, Corporal,” you mutter as soon as the irate officer is out of earshot.

“What? Not a problem of yours,” he says, though he’s clearly nervous around officers that are that pissed at him.

“Are we leaving now?” Everi says impatiently. “Army rules aside, it’s a week’s ride to Margent.”

>Complete one final task before leaving (what?)

Taking a break for chores, be back later.
Rolled 92

You are under attack by bandits and must defend yourself
Rolled 79


I think he uses the results to draw from a random encounter table he already had set up.
Yes correct.

Writing now!
You click your horses out the gate and make for the distant port city.

The autumn is departing now, mere weeks after it arrived. This winter will be fierce. The roads are still clear, of course, the snows haven’t started yet, but the clouds in the sky are light and wispy, and you’re barely out of the lee of the city when a nice breeze picks up behind you, fluttering your traveling cloaks.

You pass the first leg of the journey on horseback, until the sun is falling before you, and you all tug your helms and hoods lower to shield your eyes, and you dismount to save the horses some struggle.

There’s not much conversation among the three of you, not initially. Dervich keeps shooting you glances between awe and jealousy, which is actually a little surprising. Maybe he was more pious than you realized.

Wind-thief, however, isn’t as quiet. When you three break to water the horses in a convenient spring and grab a bite to eat, she pipes up. “So. You didn’t want to say it in front of Culler, Sergeant, but now I deserve an answer. What’s your source?”

You look up from your salted chicken. She’s standing across the tiny roadside clearing, hands on her hips. She’s fastened her Brotherhood robe, and strapped some light armor – leather and chain – across her chest, but her arms are bare under the cloak, which she’s thrown back like a cape, and the silver tribal tattoos on her skin are shimmering in the dim sunlight. It’s an imposing effect.

“My source?” you ask.

“How do you know what my sister is doing?” she presses. “You’re obviously not some Auxilia grunt. Not in that armor. Not with that intel.”

>Break the news gently
>Refuse information
>Tell her outright, no sugarcoating
>page Asa and have her explain everything because you’re not a family counselor
>Tell her outright, no sugarcoating
I think she is a big girl. Possible her sister had no clue what was going on, but that sort of thing is up to a magistrate.
Well, she asked. You indicate the ground across from you and set your food aside. “Sit. I’ll explain everything.”

As soon as she’s sitting down, you beckon Dervich over too. “All right. About two weeks ago, I was attacked in the forest, about a day west of here…”

Over the next two hours, the horses drink and rest, the food gets eaten, and Dervich and Wind-thief’s eyes bug out. You explain it all, from the Heraldship to the battle against Feathers, about Garren and Culler, about the other mercs and Soutri’s evil.

You show them the brand and Gem, and listen to them gasp. You explain Asa’s involvement, and the importance of what you’re doing.

As you finish with the battle in the ports – for Dervich’s benefit, since Wind-thief knew already – Wind-thief huddles her cloak across her bare arms and stares at the mossy dirt. “Incredible,” she says quietly.

“It’s really reassuring to know we can ask Asa for help,” Dervich comments, tossing the paper from his wrapped chicken into the woods to rot.

“So there’s no way I can convince you to let my sister live, is there?” Wind-thief asks miserably. “She has to be executed.”

“I leave that to the King,” you say evasively.

She glares into the sky and starts to say something when an arrow zips past her into a tree trunk. In an instant, she’s on her feet, her hands vanishing under her cloak.

Dervich lunges up, snatching his shield, while you ship your spear up and squint into the darkness.

There! Four shapes, running towards you, while another hangs back with a bow.

Three versus five. You can’t tell what they are, but they’re running right at you.

>Get behind cover
>Try to mount up
>Charge to meet them
>Phalanx with Dervich while Wind-thief hangs back
Get behind cover
Not enough shields to get decent coverage. Get to cover, see if we can get some shots in.
In the roadside clearing, you’re sitting ducks. “Cover!” you bark. Dervich is already moving, leaping behind a tree and digging for grenades. You throw yourself sidelong behind the rock that encircles the little rest stop and yank your sling out. It’s a bitch to use prone, but there’s not much other cover.

Wind-thief, however, is taking a more direct approach. She drops something at her feet, and it bursts into black smoke. An arrow zips past your ear and dings off of your shoulder lamellar, but it doesn’t stick or cause damage. You flick it away and load a lead bullet.

Abruptly, one of the attackers clears the smoke and lunges at Dervich. He steps back once to let the attacker overbalance, then slams his shield into the suddenly stumbling enemy and bashes him back into the tree. Before he can right himself, Dervich slices the shield sideways across the attacker’s neck, and he’s down with a crushed windpipe. Four left.

Another attacker – they’re uniform, that’s worrying – fires his bow at you, but this arrow misses, skipping off the rock as you wind up your sling. Wind-thief has her hands full with two others, who are swinging sabers at her, though she’s dodging well.

>Fire at the bowman
>Give Wind-thief cover
>Find the last guy and fire at him
>Fire at the bowman
That archer has to be neutralized before anything else. You whip the stone at him and grin as it braks the bow in his hands. He stares at the scraps before casting them aside and lunging at Wind-thief.

Big mistake. Wind-thief dances sideways, under a swing of a blade, and rams her bare hand against his chest. He flies backwards, his skin aflame where she touched it, and he slams fully into the bowman, knocking them both to the ground in a smoking tumble.

Dervich whips a concussion grenade at the pair of them, and they’re suddenly blind, deaf, and on fire. They’re effectively out of it.

The last guy throws himself out of the smoke and directly at Dervich, catching him as he reloads. He slides a dagger out of his belt and slashes at Dervich, who drops his sling and starts dancing back, trying to find a way to defend himself without lising a hand.

>Wat do?

>Use a Grenade (your options are on the character sheet in the OP)
>Fire a bullet (at whom?)
>Go into melee (against whom?)
>Fire a bullet (at whom?)
Whoever is on Dervich. Keep distance from allies so that last guy can't take more than one out with grenade.
Wind-thief can take care of herself. You reload the sling and whip a lead slug at the guy fighting Dervich.

He takes it full in the back, and falls to his knees, screaming in agony. Dervich swipes his spear, and the attacker’s down, a hole across his throat.

“Wind-thief!” Dervich yells, grabbing his shield again and re-wrapping his sling. “Go, help her, I have these two!” he says, indicating the downed attackers.

You nod and sprint towards Wind-thief, but come to a halt quickly. The one she was fighting is down, a burning handprint on his neck, not moving. The other two, the injured ones, they’re up, and running for their lives.

>Take one alive
>Kill them both and let the Pantheon sort it out
>Fire a bullet (at whom?)
Whoever is on Dervich. Keep distance from allies so that last guy can't take more than one out with grenade

This. Then the others can be dealt with.
>Take one alive
“Capture at least one!” you snap at the others, and you take off a dead sprint to put actions to words. You put your full strength into the chase, as the other two run up behind you. The runners are wounded, one of them critically, but they’re in good shape and unarmored, so it’s no easy pursuit.

Wind-thief overtakes you, her cloak streaming behind her like the tail of a comet, and simply tackles one of the runners. He screams and falls, while the other one redoubles his pace.

No luck. Wind-thief raises one hand and shouts something, and a giant hand of ice rips out of thin air to crush the runner and send him tumbling off into the woods.

You come up panting behind Wind-thief, who’s busily grappling the runner. “Dervich! Secure the bodies! Wind-thief, hold still.” You place your spear point against the runner’s neck, and he stops struggling. “Be a good little boy and play dead,” you growl. I’m not done with you.

You and Wind-thief drag the prisoner back to the rest stop while Dervich roots through pockets and purses. The prisoner is an elf, wilderness like you, and male – nearly twice your age, and still fighting. Not bad.

He glares up at you past the gag in his throat as Wind-thief stands behind him, glowering at the back of his head. “All right, you little prick,” Wind-thief says, untying the gag as Dervich returns. “What the hell was that for? Why did you attack us?”

“Kill me and ask Asa, bitch,” the thug snarls. “Maybe she’ll answer.”

Ice flows into your veins. “You know about that?” you demand.

He starts to say something when Wind-thief places her hand on his head. A few tendrils of smoke wisp up between her fingers and he yelps. “Who told you?” Wind-thief demands.

“Told me what?” the thug barks, writhing away from her hand.

“About Asa!” you say hotly. “Who knew?”

The thug stares at you, rage and fear coloring his expression. “What? Who knew what?”

“That I could just kill you and ask, stupid!” you retort.

“You can’t! She doesn’t listen to you!” he says. Does he even know what he’s involved in?

>Interrogate him using a Speech ability (which?)
>Kill him and let Asa sort it out, like he suggested
>Ask what the hell he's talking about. First he tells us to ask Asa after killing him and then he says we can't?

>If he continues to be stubborn and not give up info kill him and ask Asa
>>Take one alive
“All right, pal, here’s your quandary,” you say flatly, drawing your dagger and crouching in front of him. “We’re on a mission. An important one. You attack us, without provocation, and as if that weren’t stupid enough, now you want me to ask Asa what you’re doing, even though you think I can’t?”

“Nobody can, ya dumb bint! You see an Avatar here?” he demands.

“Last chance to stop being stubborn,” you say coldly. “Who. Sent. You?”

He glares at you for another moment before Wind-thief grabs the top of his head again. This time, it’s Current she’s using, and little sparks jump between his hair and his shoulders.

“GYAAAAAHH NO STOP!” he screams.

Wind-thief lets go and he pitches forward, gasping.

“Who sent you?” you demand.

“Nobody fucking sent me! Do I look like a merc?” he manages, between ragged gasps.

Wind-thief abruptly takes the matter out of debate. “Yeah, fuck this,” she says coldly. You step back quickly as she grabs the back of his neck with one hand, lifting him clean into the air. She plants her other hand in the small of his back and tilts his whole body backwards, until he’s facing up into the trees, writhing and shouting. “Off you go,” she says coldly, and discharges a huge bolt of mana from her hand into his back.

The thug’s body pinwheels into the trees, crashing through several boughs before getting stuck against a trunk. He twitches once and goes still.

Dervich whirls on Wind-thief as she dusts her hands. “You were not authoried to execute the prisoner, Sister,” he says coldly. “That’s Sergeant Ledren’s call.”

“Whatever,” she says dismissively. “He wasn’t going to help.”

“You didn’t need to kill him!”

“You’re right. We should have preserved his worthless life, so we could waste two whole days taking him back to the city, then riding back here. My sister would wait for us, I’m sure,” Wind-thief says, her thick tribal accent lending her sarcastic words a lilting edge that sets Dervich’s teeth on edge.

“Both of you, shut up,” you say into the strained silence. “Dervich is right. We don’t kill prisoners without my approval. But Wind-thief is right, too, Al. I would have given the kill order. Not like he didn’t ask us to,” you mutter darkly. “Okay.” You press the Gem. {My Lady, who were those guys?}

[Freelance river privateers,] Asa says, surprising you. [Their ship was damaged when you were fighting in the ports. They followed you back to town, and Soutri spotted them tailing you. He gave them some gold, and unspecific orders to harass you. They interpreted that as a kill order, and took it to heart. You are no longer being followed.]

{Thanks, my Lady. We’ll salvage some gear and break camp in the woods, in case the local bandits saw the fight.}

[Shall I join you? I would be happy to send an Avatar to talk things over with your new companions, assuage their fears or misunderstandings. I can keep watch for you, as well.]


>{Sure, thank you!}
>{Sure, and you should know Jerome asked me to ask you update him.}
>{No, thanks. Too high-profile.}
>{No, but Jerome wants to know if we got in trouble out here.}
>{Sure, and you should know Jerome asked me to ask you update him.}
And All the World Shall Sing.
Can this be used to sweetly ask Mr. Bandit what he is up to?
{I would like that very much, my Lady. Do you think you could spare a moment’s attention to update Jerome as well? He specifically asked for that,} you think.

[Oh, certainly.]

The Gem goes cold as the other two continue glaring at each other. “All right, we may as well pitch camp here,” you tell them. “Asa can help keep watch overnight.”

“She can see us?” Dervich asks in awe. “How? I thought they couldn’t scry.”

“Well, no, but she’s right over there,” you say, pointing at where her Avatar manifested, unseen, next to the horses. She hides a smile as she realizes the context of the remark.

“My daughter, Alan, good to see you,” she says politely, nodding at an astonished Wind-thief and Dervich. “I understand the doldrums of your journey were suddenly lifted?”

Dervich – to your shock, since he’s not an elf – drops to one knee instantly, while Wind-thief merely bows, looking suddenly nervous. “Yes, my Lady,” Dervich says reverently. “We were assaulted by bandits.”

“Privateers,” she corrects gently. “And please stand.”

He does so, brushing off his dirty uniform with an almost child-like self-consciousness. Wind-thief slowly crosses her arms and sits down on the rocks encircling the rest stop. “My Lady, why were we attacked?”

“They were prodded into doing so by the enemy,” Asa says regretfully. “I would have prevented it if I were able.” She glances over at you and inclines her head slightly. “Your husband is fine, if worried about you. He’ll be moving back into your normal house tomorrow morning, since he starts work on Monday.”

“Thanks,” you say. “I appreciate that.” You turn and busy yourself with pitching tents as Wind-thief gets to laying out the bedrolls and Dervich just gapes. “Something wrong with your arms, Corporal?”

Dervich starts and hurriedly unbridles the horses as Asa looks down at the bodies. “What will you do with these, hm?” she asks lightly.

“Brotherhood protocol is to just leave them somewhere they won’t bother anybody,” Wind-thief says distractedly. “Dunno about Auxilia.”

“How macabre,” Asa replies, though her voice isn’t judgmental. She waves one hand, and they vanish. “There. Now, tell me. What is your plan for travel? The city of Cender is on this road, as well as Margent, and Cender has a Brotherhood chapter house. Do you intend to stop for reinforcements? I don’t think you’ll need them, but it’s your decision.”

>Just military, not Brotherhood
Gotta go fast
If we need any we should be able to grab them in Margent
“I doubt that, my Lady, Margent is already on lockdown,” you say. “We can get men there if we need them.”

Her lips quirk, perhaps to start a joke, but the others’ presence cuts it off. “Of course.”

The three of you finish pitching tents and make to light a fire, but it doesn’t seem necessary – you already ate. As soon as the horses are covered and resting, you walk up beside Asa’s silent Avatar, where it stands observing the road. “My Lady, will you insist on Caliso Wind-thief’s death if we capture her?”

Asa doesn’t answer immediately. When she does, it’s slow and reluctant. “Probably. We’ll have to see how much she knows. If she knows a great deal and doesn’t divulge it, then yes, she will have to die, so I can gain her knowledge. If she doesn’t know anything, or co-operates… we’ll see.”

Wind-thief walks up behind you, looking even more disturbed. “Lady Asa, this conspiracy she’s mixed up in… what is it? What do they want?”

Asa sighs and sits down in the grass, cross-legged like a kid. “Well, some are just in it for the money. The mercenaries were, in general, and the bodyguards. Soutri and Ding wanted power. The ringleaders… they are more enigmatic, but I suspect money and immunity from their enemies motivate them more than anything.”

The rest of you sit down in front of the tents at look at Asa’s unmoving profile. “Why would my sister help them?” Wind-thief presses.

“She’s horribly in debt, from what I know,” Asa says. “Desperation drives foolish behavior.”

Wind-thief closes her eyes. “Damn it all.”

Asa rises and walks over to Wind-thief, then kneels in front of her and takes her hand. “Everi, your own behavior is suspect enough, but nothing – nothing at all – like your sisters’,” Asa assures her. Wind-thief flinches. “Do you imagine she knew what she was getting in to?”

Everi blinks back tears. “I… I hope not. I hope not.” Asa squeezes her hand and sits down beside her.

“Sleep. All of you. I’ll keep watch, and ensure you all arrive safely,” she says.

>Press Wind-thief on these ‘suspect’ activities
>Just bed down and ask Asa telepathically
>Sleep (timeskip until morning)
>Just bed down and ask Asa telepathically
With a few more cursory words of goodnight, you all close your tentflaps and bed down. As you do, you page Asa. {My Lady, what ‘suspect’ activities is Wind-thief up to?}

[That’s between me and her, and Master Culler,] she says calmly. [Ask her if it matters. If I thought her history endangered your mission, I would have ordered her to turn away. As for Alan, he’ll follow your every word like sovereign law, now that he knows what you are.]

{I feel like shit for not trusting him before,} you admit.

[Yes. Well, he’s over it now, believe me.] She seems to sigh a bit in your mind. [Fine, pious young men like him were the stock of my armies, back in the days of old. Elves instead of humans, of course, but still.]

{Never knew he was religious,} you remark.

[He’s spiritual. As spiritual as any Gifted person I’ve ever met. Not religious. He finds the Circle distasteful, for instance. He understands wonder. He’s spiritual in the way that a truly talented philosopher is spiritual, or a scientist who studies birth. It’s a shame he’s taken to the military life, really.]


[That’s not an impugning the honor of your military, Elsa, just a comment on where his skills would be best spent. He should be an alchemist, I think.]

{I once saw him crush a glass bottle against his head because somebody dared him to.}

[Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate the reaction in the tail of a lightbug that makes it glow. Now, sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up.]

Rolled 16

Best dream get
Rolled 91

gotta dream fast
File: 1161568971308.jpg (47 KB, 400x435)
47 KB
Sssssssshit. I randomize the table after every dream, and add new ones, but this is one of the cutscene ones you'd have had eventually anyway.

Hold on tight.
Rolled 92

Your name is Herald Cardiff Soul-guide, and you miss your home tribe. The floor is cold, the manacles on your arms hurt a lot, and you can’t feel your leg. This is not as much fun as the job description Asa gave you.

Your tormenters are gone, for now. The Dommen warband that captured you and dragged you here to this abandoned fort knew to tie off your arms, so you can’t touch your God Gem. Why isn’t it in the palm of your hand, or someplace you can reach at any time? Why your forehead?

The chains rattle. You close your eyes as the woman next to you – your guide! Just some human woman you hired! – weeps quietly. You can’t even bring yourself to remember what they did to her, while you watched and swore until they knocked you out.

“Herald… are you still there?” she asks shakily.

“I am,” you reply. “I’m here.”

“Can… can you get your hand free?” she whimpers.

“No. Hush, somebody’s coming.”

You both clam up as a Dommen strides into the cell and kicks you. “All right, wake up, Herald,” the Dommen growls. His bestial voice grates on your ears like a nail file. “Get your ass up.”

You lurch to your feet as he kicks you again. “Shut up, animal,” you snarl. “I’m awake.”

He cuffs you on the cheek to shut you up. “The ship’s here.”

“What bloody ship?” you ask.

He doesn’t answer, he just opens your manacles and pulls you away. He ties your arms off behind your back as he does, the clever monster.

It’s so easy to see them as animals now, you reflect, as he pushes you towards the cell door. They were people once, you’re told, though your tribe had only ever seen other elves before Asa asked you to be her Herald. Now they’re just creatures. It’s especially easy to think now, as you look back at the poor woman they defiled. She didn’t deserve that. You doubt an elf would ever do that.

He pushes you out into a bright courtyard, where you can see a sail bobbing on the stream outside the fort’s crumbling walls. “You’re off to the King, boy,” the wolf-man growls. “Be on your best behavior, now.”

“Open a vein and die, beast,” you scoff. He slaps you again, and your arms twist in their bindings as you recoil. What you hope he didn’t see is that as you did, you managed to turn your wrist in the rope. One more twist on the other side, and you may be able to get one arm free…

“Do I have to sniff his asshole, like you do? Or just put my tongue on his nuts, if he hasn’t been neutered,” you goad.

The guard stops in his tracks and punches you full in the jaw, sending you to the ground. As you roll, one arms gets loose, and you slap it against your forehead. He gasps as he realizes what he’s done, but it’s too late.

/My Lady, the Dommen got me!/ you scream in your mind. /Help!/

[What? Did you plant the bomb?]

Then you can’t think, as clawed hands slam into your shoulders and pin them in place. You try to twist free, but something kicks you, and the world spins. “You fucking idiot!” someone shouts. “He got a message off!”

“He said-“


A wave of white-hot light washes over you all. The Dommen all vanish, leaving nothing but bones behind. Asa’s here.

Walls of divine fire rush through the air, burning the world over and over. The ship bursts into flame and vanishes, the walls break and fall, and you hear your former cellmate scream as something kills her.

Then it’s over.

Asa’s hands are on your cheeks, and you feel life and health flow back into you as she heals you. “Cardiff, my son, live,” Asa whispers.

“You killed her,” you mumble, delirious. “The woman in the cell, you killed her…”

“I did? Damn. Sorry,” she says quietly. “Listen, get up. I need to get you to safety.”

“What’s happening?” you manage.

“My son, you must leave. You must go. You must,” she insists. “The weapon, it’s primed. You have to go. You can’t stay.”

“What weapon?” you ask feebly. You feel your jaw knit together as Asa forces her power into your ailing body. “Mine? The device you gave me?”

“The Dommen die today, remember,” Asa says darkly. “Enough is enough. There’s room in this world for two people, and they aren’t lupine.”

“No, no, I didn’t manage to prime it!” you say, as clarity returns. “Asa, get out of here!”

She grips your shoulders. “What? You didn’t prime it?”

“Well, I started, but the device stopped working, so I had to just turn it up to full!” you say. The cursed guards found you planting the bomb under the wagon, though you don’t think they found it. “Leave! It’s armed to kill the whole city!”

Asa gapes in total horror. “No! We can’t activate it at that power setting! It will kill all the Pantheon members who project here!”

“Just the Dommen ones, right?” you ask urgently.

“No, boy! The Pantheon knit this world from whole chaos! All the Gods had a stake in it! If that thing goes off in the city at full power-”

You both recoil as something red and huge appears in the middle of the distant port city. Silence falls, as absolute as the bottom of the ocean.

Asa whimpers. “No…”

The red thing – whatever it is, your tribal upbringing didn’t teach you words to describe it – spreads. It spreads, and it spreads, and you can’t hear the screaming, but there must be screaming, or howling anyway, from inside the city. It’s the end of the world, the primordial chaos of the universe, unleashed again, for only the second time. Mai’te ordered it, but did she know this would happen? The first time, the Imperial capital, it was only at half power – enough to kill a Demigod maybe, but this…

Asa screams. A horrible light colors her face as you spin to look at her, and her Avatar’s eyes stare a you. “NO!” she wails, and her Avatar collapses. “MOTHER, NO! DON’T GO!”

The light… it’s coming from you. From your Gem. You try to put your hand on it, to page Mai’te and demand an answer, when your forehead explodes.

You scream and pitch backwards as the Gem erupts in red light, purple light, black light, and the sound of a Goddess dying. Mai’te’s entire being, all of it, it vanishes, in a single moment that burns your soul out from the inside.

You are dead. You appear in the steel room, like all elves, and crouch. You feel your spectral form shiver and gyrate, so terribly. This can’t be right!

Asa appears, and her form startles you back. All the old art showed her as a carefree young woman, wearing little but a simple tribal wrap if anything at all, and a great big grin on her face. More recently, she’s taken to armors of war, and deep black robes of mourning with the death of her brother.

She’s naked now, but not in the innocent way. She’s drenched in blood, glowing white blood. Her mother’s.

“Asa?” you squeak. “My Lady?”

“All is lost,” she says dully. The lovely silver light in her irises is gone. “All is closed to you.”

“What have I done?” you demand, clasping your hands in front of your spectral body. “What did I do?”

“All is lost, and you bear the blame,” Asa says, in that same monotone that makes you fear everything. “And now, I have no hell in which to trap you.”


“The gate is shut. Heaven is gone. Hell is gone. There is only the formless chaos,” she whispers. “Mother is dead, Ghalad is dead, and all the world screams. For how can life continue without a God to direct it? We are Triad, where we were Quartet, and it is ALL YOUR FAULT!” she suddenly screams. That same horrible light from before rips from the seamless corners of the room, and you pitch back, clutching your head in total agony. “YOU! YOU, FOOL TRIBAL, FOOL HERALD, FOOL… fool daughter,” she says, and her form collapses. Its distinctly elfish outline fades into the ripples of sound that comprise her true form as she loses all control. “Oh, Mother… oh, Mother,” she sobs, tears pouring from her bloodied eyes. “Mother…”

You slowly try to straighten up as the pain fades, and that light disappears, but suddenly she moves to envelop you in her true form.

“Asa, no!” you wail.

“It’s what you have left, boy, and you’re welcome to it,” her voice says from somewhere. “It’s what you get.”

Then you do not exist, and all is chaos.

You wake up. You’re not screaming; there’s something holding your mouth shut.

You recoil in your bedroll, and you’re Elsa, and Asa, your beloved patroness, is clamping her gloved hand over your mouth. Her eyes – they’re glowing purple, not silver – are locked on yours, and she looks like she’s going to vomit. “Elsa, please, be quiet,” she says shakily. “Please be quiet. Stop screaming. What did you see? The trauma was so intense that it damaged your connection to me.”

>wat say
>What happens to us when we die now? What did I see you do?
>I saw what you did to Cardiff Soul-guide, and what you had him do.

this was unexpected
>What happens to us when we die now? What did I see you do?
Well, time to sob and twitch
You wrench her hand away and gasp for air. “What… what…”

“You had another nightmare?” Asa asks quietly.

You start to shout something, and she clamps her hand over your mouth again. [Stop screaming, Elsa!] she commands. [What did you bloody see?]

You slap your hand onto your forehead. {CARDIFF SOUL-GUIDE!}

Her face freezes. […Oh.] After another few awkward seconds, she pulls her hand away again. [I see.]

{Why did you do that? Why did you recruit a tribal to go set off a superweapon?} you bellow in your mind.

Her eyes slide shut as she sits on the moss under the tent. [Because Mother asked me to,] she says. She crosses her arms over her knees and buries her face in her arms. It’s a startlingly childish thing to do, for a demigoddess. [Mother realized that the Dommen would never stop trying to kill the rest of the world, after what we had done to them, so she ordered me to exterminate them. She figured it was better to have humans as the only other race left than the Dommen. We knew, at that point, that the creeping chaos from the wound left in the wreck of Solium would overwhelm the world if only Mother and I were left to hold it back, but we didn’t know that the weapon she had found which could do the job and kill Teck, the last Dommen deity, was built around one of the Harpy God-killer weapons, the things that did the job in Solium the first time, at half-power.] She sighs into her arms. [Hate or resent me for what I, what Mother and I, did, but please don’t judge my reaction. Do you know what it’s like to watch a pair of deities die?]

{Oh, I’ll judge you all I damn please,} you think angrily. {What happened at the end? Where did you send him when he died?}

{The Unmade Chaos. Where I’m from. Where Mai’te and Garm and the rest were originally from, technically.} She sighs again and lifts her head to stare out the tent flap she ripped in her haste to get to you. {The Unmade Chaos is a part of the universe, defined by its opposition to something else. We made a world that exists, so the things in the Chaos don’t exist. You send something there, it comes right back, inverted. So, now, when people die, we send their souls there, they come back with their individuality gone, so we can absorb them and learn their memories, just like Mother and Garm did when souls grew tired of paradise and sought to leave heaven. I imagine you’ll see a few of those memories, if you could see that much. It’s not actually painful, or anything like that, I was just really pissed off when I sent Cardiff out. I’ve never felt so stupid.]
>How does this make you feel?
what a shoddy operation they were running
You stare at Asa in disgust. The thing about the chaos isn’t actually new, you’re all told that in school, but to see it first-hand is pretty awful. “What a shoddy operation you had going,” you mutter, aloud.

She jerks upright to glare at you, and the heat in her eyes startles you. It’s easy to forget she’s a demigoddess at times like this, but she is one. “What would you have me do, Herald Ledren?” she demands. “The world is being held together with string, thanks to the idiocy of the Pukels and the Dwarves. I do what I need to to keep it all spinning. Reality wasn’t made to accommodate the absence of its designers.”

“Well, all right, that’s fair,” you allow, “but that was still a horrible thing to do to the Dommen.”

She scoffs. “They were little more than animals after the death of Crosrex. I mean that. I would have never even considered doing that to Haret and Vier.”

“I saw them wearing clothes, sailing boats, building things,” you counter.

“Atavisms.” She shakes her head. “Look, this is pointless. What you saw changes nothing.”

“About my mission? No. You’re right, it doesn’t change my mission in the slightest. But now I can’t trust you.”

She sighs. “Of course you can. Why wouldn’t you?”

“You recruited some expendable tribal to set off that bomb,” you point out.

Asa gapes at you, stunned. After a moment, her Avatar disappears. [No.]

{What? Where did you go?}

[That… was a very, very foolish thing to say,] she says heatedly. [He was NOT EXPENDABLE!] she suddenly roars. You wince as her voice rings through your head. [Oh, that pissed me off. I recruited a tribal so he wouldn’t draw as much suspicion! I planned for him to escape! How DARE you? I would never, EVER abandon my children! Not after watching Ghalad die!]

{Why did you leave?}

[I thought if I didn’t, I might have slapped you. That’s how offensive that was.]

Dead silence.

[Sorry. That… sorry. I love my children, Elsa, I love them very much. You’re not expendable. Nobody is. That’s Goblin thinking. That’s Felis thinking. That’s not Elf thinking. I could never consider you or anybody else expendable.]

{So you wouldn’t do that to a human culture?}

[Never ever,] she says.

{But that human woman in the jail, what was she?}


You slump against the wall of the tent, grinding your palms into your eyes. {I’m not one of the good guys, am I?}

[I chose you deliberately. Vier and Haret weighed in. We all like you. I trust you. You’re a good person. I’m not. I’m a murderer. Oh, Mother, forgive me, I’m a murderer. There, I said it. I am.] She goes quiet for a moment. [Vier and Haret are both looking at me like I’m growing extra eyes. They don’t know what happened here.]

{Tell them. This is too big to keep to ourselves.} You can hardly give her orders, but a moment later, she replies.

[They’re both sad. Haret is saying I should have shown you that memory straightaway.]

{Smart guy.}

[Elsa… look. I was never supposed to be a fighter, or a judge. Circumstances forced that on me. I wasn’t up to it. That doesn’t mean I selected poorly when I gave you your powers.]

{You caused the Collapse!}

[No, a very, very short-sighted Harpy wizard did that. I ended it. I just didn’t mean to do it that way.] Her Avatar reappears beside you, head in her hands. [I won’t ask you to forgive me my omission, but I will ask you not to tell Alan or the Circle. They won’t understand.]

You glare at her, but her logic isn’t inaccurate. {Yeah, they don’t need to know.}

[It’s not an act, you understand. When I tell you I love you, when I tell you I want you to prosper. It’s all true. And the Chaos bit, that was in place before me. All souls went there, even during the time before the destruction of the afterlife. It was the next step after heaven or hell. I didn’t change anything.]

You blink at that pronouncement. {Really? It’s not your invention?}

[You think I’d send my children there without a taste of paradise to sweeten the journey?] she asks, the barest mote of reproachment in her voice. [Goodness, no. But it’s where we all go. Ghalad and the dead Pantheon members, they all returned to the Chaos. Mortal souls just come back, while immortal ones don’t.]

>Wat say
> “Then why keep going? Why not pull the plug on reality and start over?”
> “So why DIDN’T you show me the truth?”
>Why don't immortal souls come back?
>>Why don't immortal souls come back?
>Why don't immortal souls come back?
*Elsa uses Logic*
{Why don’t immortals come back?} you ask, keeping your tone level.

She shakes her head. [To put it simply, mortal souls don’t belong in the chaos forever because they’re not from it. Mortal souls are the product of totally existential properties. They come into being in infants, they mature in bodies, they pass unto us for filtration and absorption. Immortal souls are made of the Unmade, so they return to it after death. They can’t come back because they no longer exist in a recognizable form.] She buries her face in her arms again. [Otherwise, I’d have brought Ghalad back after his murder by the Harpies. I miss him, Elsa, so terribly. He was a better leader than me.]

{So why not end it all? Finish off this world and make another?}

Asa looks at you with the saddest smile you’ve seen. [We love it too much. We worked so hard for it. We wanted to give ourselves a home, and populate it with your kind. If we gave up and let the world spin apart, or let the Chaotic wounds in Solium and The Scar destroy it all and erase our mistakes, we would stop existing, and so would all of you.] She reaches over and grabs your hand. [See? We do care,] she says, tearing up. [Besides, if I were going to end the world, I wouldn’t waste time destroying the planet.]


[I have the power to sustain an Elf afterlife, or a third of reality. Not both. If I wanted to end the world, I would rebuild heaven, and bring you all there, and let the planet crumble.]

You look down at her hand on yours. Hers is shaking. She’s clearly holding back a sob of self-recrimination. {So… why make a world at all? Why not make an afterlife of perfect, happy souls to begin with?}

She hesitates. You can imagine her talking to Vier and Haret. After several long seconds, she grips your hand tighter. [May I have your confidence?]

{Uh… okay…}

[We did.]


[Heaven predated Tarsh. The Gods created it as a place for themselves, after they made their bodies out of the stuff of Chaos. Happiness and perfect order, forever. An opposite to what was left of Chaos after they were formed, purely by accident, from the ripples of infinite possibility. They grew bored so quickly that Tarsh was created as an outlet for their creative energies.] She looks away. [Then, they realized that it was too static, so they created you all. Then, they realized they had abandoned their children to doldrums and misery, so they created us, and let you all into the afterlife when you died. Then they realized that some of you use your free will to hurt people, so they created punishments for those who harmed others, and created hell as a place to store those punishments. Then they realized that trapping souls in hell only after they died was pointless, so they allowed all souls, not just those who had earned the privilege, to leave the afterlife and become one with their gods after death, enriching everybody.]

You ponder that. {So the Gods were as fucked up as mortals are?}

She finally grins. [You have no idea. Mortal children are – generally – the product of love. It’s half the reason I regret the deities making sex fun. If it weren’t, people would only have children when they wanted to. As it stands, though, spells of Preservation allow you to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Healthy families like yours, they’re full of love. Our births were of pure necessity, and the Gods were made completely by accident.]

{Not a good recipe for healthy decisions.]

[The scope of my thoughts and powers would kill you, Elsa, if you tried to comprehend me fully, and even having said that, I agree,] she says dolefully. She scoots over to sit beside you and leans back against a tentpole. [Why do you think I enjoy my jaunts in the woods so much? I absorb so many people’s souls, all the time, and the happiest ones were the ones who could take a moment and appreciate nature like we made you to do.]

You reflect on her words regarding her not being up to the task of being a true Goddess. {People who have to ignore their nature aren’t happy, then.}

[It’s one of the reasons I’m so proud of you,] she says. [You’re doing so well. This isn’t the task for which Heralds were created, and you’re doing so well! I admire you, Elsa, I do. If I had had lieutenants like you before the Collapse, things might have been okay.]

>Now what?
>More questions?
>”So what is the Gift? Really?”
>”Maybe you should revoke my Heraldship, if these nightmares keep happening.”
>”Can you truly do nothing to stop these awful dreams?”
>”So what is the Gift? Really?”
>"Is there a chance that new gods will ever emerge from the chaos?"
>So what is the Gift? Really?”
{Level with me. What is the Gift? Truly?}

Asa’s voice falters a bit. [I wish I knew. I wish I bloody knew. If I were mortal, it would keep me up at night.]

{You genuinely don’t know?}

Her voice is a bit exasperated. [If I knew why some of my children randomly get superpowers, don’t think I’d tell them? All I can surmise is that it’s tiny shards of Chaos slipping into the world. It’s not harmful in any way, so I don’t see any point in riling them up. Gifts have existed for over three thousand years, and nobody’s ever been hurt by them.]

{Shards of Chaos sounds like a problem!}

[Is it? Technically, I’m a sentient shard of Chaos. So was Mai’te. So are Haret and Vier. You’re a product of a shard of Chaos. That Gem in your forehead is a shard of Chaos. Gifts are just so mysterious that I can’t be sure they’re Chaos at all.]


{So could Chaos congeal to make more Gods?}

[No. Gods existed here, so they can’t exist here. Chaos is the inversion of all things we didn’t pull into Tarsh.]

>wat say?
>>”So what is the Gift? Really?”

Do gods even say bloody? That doesn't feel right, a god talking colloquially
Formality doesn't really exist between the two of you, any more. She feels like shit right now.
>"How did the original gods first come into being then?"
She explained that up-thread. It was a pure accident. The infinite possibilities of Chaos simply happened to create something that opposed it.
And there's no way for that to happen again because it already happened? Not even different gods could be created?
Correct. That's what her comment about Inversion meant. By giving its opposite a form, Chaos limited itself. It's not anthropomorphic and directed, like Chaos from 40K.

>How are gifts mysterious? You can't study them from the souls of dead gift bearers?
{Can you study the Gift from the souls of the people who had them?}

[We can absorb those powers and add them to our own. It’s how I gained so much more power than Haret and Vier after the Collapse. All elf souls go to me, whereas they split human ones by sex. So I get ALL elf gifts, and they get half each of the human ones.] Her tone turns a bit wistful. [The people who have them don’t know what they are, either, but the fact that I can absorb them, and mages get headaches when they’re near somebody who has one, lead me to think they may be fragments of Chaos.]

{So what happens now?}

[Nothing.] She opens the tentflap and walks out into the night. [Nothing’s changed, remember? We both still need the conspirators dead.]

{But how do I know you’re not concealing anything else from me?} you ask.

[You don’t.] She turns to look at you over her shoulder, still thinking into your mind so you don’t wake the others. [But I want you to trust me anyway. We don’t have a choice. Neither of us can solve this without the other. Even if we did, I wouldn’t cut you off from something valuable. Like I said, I like you. I want you to do well, to go make my son Jerome happy, and to make my children Coby and Belle even prouder. I may be a terrible Goddess, but I’m a good Demigod, and I will fulfil my task to keep this world spinning.]

She turns back to the road and stands there, stock-still, for as long as you keep watching.

>Wat do?

Final post of the night after this, I need to go do things before bed.
>Grudgingly agree

Bumping after the great freeze.

I bump it so you don't have to.
{Yeah. Yeah. Alright. Fine. I guess I can still trust you, Asa. I just want to know there aren’t any more relevatory nightmares in store for me.}

Her shoulders shift a bit. [Elsa, do you remember what happened last time I tried to share memories with you?]

{The others don’t trust you to share memories with me, I remember.}

[Don’t say it like that!] she says plaintively. [I wouldn’t want them to do it either! Look, if it makes you feel better, I really haven’t held anything else back. My shame and horror at having essentially… killed my own mother aren’t things I wanted you to see!]

{I’m sorry.}

[Don’t be. Sisters don’t keep secrets,] she says heavily. [So. Please stop calling me ‘my Lady.’ I took that title on out of pure necessity after Ghalad died. I don’t deserve it. Let everybody else use it, even if we know better. Just Asa will do. I can’t really insist on maintaining authoritive titles after what you had to see.]

{Now you’re just beating yourself up,} you chide. {Knock it off. It was three thousand years ago.}

[But the throne behind me in the Geode is still empty.] After another few seconds of silence as you tuck yourself back into the bedroll, she speaks again. [You’re right, though. I am beating myself up over this. I just needed to get all that off my chest.]

{Feel better?}

[I do.] She actually chuckles. [Good night.]

Fuck moot and everybody who thought he was a cool person. Four hours is not ten minutes.

So! Any questions about stuff now that Asa's spilling the beans? I feel I overplayed her contrition somewhat, since players seem to be thinking that she's done something seriously wrong at the end there. In reality, she didn't share much that Sun or Garren couldn't have guessed, or that some old library somewhere couldn't have revealed, save the fact that it was an elf that set off the Scar bomb and a Harpy who set of the Solium bomb.

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