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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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It's time for Dead Gods!

Setting: Cender
Season: Early winter
Year: Post-creation 3975, post-Collapse 3008
City: Clen
Crime rate: Unsustainable

For old threads, look here! http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Dead%20Gods%20Quest
NOTE THAT QUEST 22 WAS NOT ARCHIVED, IT CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE: http://www.mediafire.com/download/7g6zn4rhzwnaw5e/22.zip
For updates, check twitter! @Someone_else___

Elsa's Character Sheet! http://pastebin.com/ezsJzAWG

Resident artist: Eversor_
This is Tarsh, the world of Dead Gods. On Tarsh, the Pantheon is stretched to the breaking point by the deaths of all but three of its dozens of members, with the remaining members largely serving advisory roles when they appear to mortals at all.

In this quest, you assume the life of Elsa Ledren, a young Sergeant in the Skirmishers of the Auxiliaries, the support forces of the Royal Army of Cender. You were on a long-term assignment’s first leg when you were attacked and killed in the forest. Your divine Pantheon member, Asa, brought you back to life with a mission: track down and kill the people responsible for trafficking the ancient magic weapon that killed you and your men. You discovered a large conspiracy to traffic and use these ancient weapons, and have been stealthily – or not – killing them off. In previous threads, you knocked off eleven of the thirteen conspirators, but the remaining two have fled the city.

In the origins of the world, there were fourteen gods, and each created a race in their image. Yours, the elves, were created by Mai’te, who then created two demigods, a man and a woman, to liaise with the people, and also created the Heralds. These were normal mortals endowed with some of the powers of the demigods, and able to telepathically communicate with Mai'te, her children, and each other.
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A cataclysmic war, referred to hereafter as the Collapse, erupted about one thousand years into creation, and all but three demigods, all but two races, and all the gods died off. The tattered remnants of the world held together through the power of the three surviving demigods, including yours; the female demigod of the elves, named Asa. Three huge alchemic weather machines keep the world habitable, while the demigods have dispensed with the use of Heralds in favor of Avatars: physical projections of themselves that can walk and talk like people.

The afterlife was dismantled in the wake of the Collapse, and now, all souls are simply ‘inverted’ in the seas of Chaos outside reality after death, and absorbed by their corresponding demigod.

You were assigned by your King to track down a gang of bandits that had sided with the secessionists in the southlands, but were ambushed and nearly murdered by the conspiracy and their ancient weapon, the Orb of the Feathered Demon. Because the weapon can kill demigods, the Pantheon survivors made you a Herald in secret, and have charged you with killing the ten conspirators who survived the battle in the woods.

Previously, you died and returned after a partially botched operation to kill Elger Moor. You’ve been restored, but a lot of people died, and your husband and you had a bit of a breakdown, though you’re both cosmetically better again. Now, the King has ordered you to pick a new target. There’s only two left.
All mechanics are based on a 1d100+modifier roll.
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The hours after the meeting are busy, madly so. The Circle members have endless questions, and though you can defer some and answer others, you eventually have to leave. After arriving home and cooking dinner, you retire early, hoping the King has news the next day.

As the weak, wintry Saturday sun spills light across the carpets of the King’s audience chamber, you kneel and bow your head before his throne. “Your Highness, I am pleased to report that the Circle issue is resolved,” you tell him, heedful of the crowd of advisors and courtiers all around. “I have spoken to them, as I said I would.”

“Indeed, and Lady Asa and I have struck a bargain regarding their promised dissolution,” he says, in a genial tone that surprises you. It must have been a good bargain. “As for my own ends, I have acquired the forces I spoke of before. We can strike against one of our two remaining targets at any time.” He leans forward, and his next words are sharper. “So who shall it be? Novai Saren, the arms merchant? Or Don Kotrick, the crime lord? Striking either will weaken the other, directly or indirectly. We have both their locations known.”

>”We have to stop Novai before he arms more criminals.”
>”We should kill Kotrick before he realizes he’s backed himself into a corner.”
>>”We have to stop Novai before he arms more criminals.”
As much as you know Kotrick is trouble, he’s also stuck in the ground. “We have to kill Saren, sir, before he arms more of our enemies,” you say grimly.

The King straightens back up and nods. “Very well. We will proceed to engage him together.”

You jerk back, stunned. “Together, Sire?”

“The only troops I can spare are the Shadows,” Maas says calmly. “And I’m tired of not leading from the front. I must crush these criminals at once, before they sap the strength of my armies any more than they already have. We already know they’ve backed Zafford to some extent, no?”

“They have,” you agree. “Of course, I can’t stop you, Sire.”

“Quite right,” he says firmly, though you can tell he’s not angry. “Besides. We will not be going alone. We have... ah.” He pulls a piece of paper from a pocket. “Here.”

He passes you the note. Written at the top, under some math equations, is a single line.

BUDGET: 138051000 Acerts

You glance back up at him, forcing back a nervous smile. That is… a lot of money. Not enough to hire Kelscik again, but more than enough to hire half of the Clen Mercenaries’ Guild. “Needless to say, I’ve hired some help,” he says. “A team of Mercenaries who once worked as private security on the local roads. The mansion where Saren is hiding is about six miles out into the woods. We depart at dawn, unless you have some other priority we must address first?”

>”I should get my new swords enchanted.”
>”I should do (what?)”
>”Dawn it is, Sire.”

>>”Dawn it is, Sire.”
>>”I should get my new swords enchanted.”

does that include the artifact Falcion she found last thread?
If you want to substitute that for one of your Shadow-blades, you may, but recall that it is also a Quest Item. If it's damaged, you'll have to hide the Key somewhere else.

That said, it is superior to a Shadow-blade. It has a +1 against Magic Beasts.

If you want to swap it out, all you have to do is tell the Enchanter, and she'll do it for you.
Nah I think I'll stick with the Shadow swords then.
“I can make it at dawn, but I should have my new weapons enchanted first,” you tell the King. “My new swords.”

Maas’ tone is pure magnanimity. “Ah, certainly, certainly.” He gestures to the rising sun. “With nearly all my warriors in the south or on the roads and walls, the Enchanter will find the time.”

“Then I shall take my leave, sire, if I may,” you say, rising to your feet.

“Of course. We shall meet in the parade ground tomorrow morning at dawn.”

Below, you sit at the table across from the Enchantress of the barracks, who knows you by now. “Ah, standard Shadow-blades,” she muses. “Unenchanted. Solid steel. What would you like done? They needn’t be identical, either.”


>Flamewind – +Fire Damage
>Icewind - +Ice Damage
>Armor-cutter - +Armor-piercing effect
>Sturdiness - +Item Durability


>Sturdiness – can be used as ad hoc weapons
>Featherweight – do not count against encumbrance

>Light Winds combo: Different damage enchant on both, Featherweight scabbards
>War Unending combo: All Sturdiness
>Urban Warrior combo: Armor-cutter on one, random environmental enchant on the other, enchants of choice on scabbards
>writein – any combination!
Both scabbards feather weight

while one sword is armor piercing while the other is sturdiness (so it can be used for blocking better)
“I’ll have the Armor-cutter on one, and Sturdiness on the other,” you tell her, “and Featherweight on both scabbards.”

“Surely,” she says, accepting both weapons. “I’ll be done late tonight. This is actually my only order at the moment.”

“Great.” You stand and stretch. “Time to do errands.”

>Asa suggested that you upgrade Alan’s armor with the Divine Disc since it doesn’t work well for you. Do you want to do this?
>If not, you may >writein an alternative afternoon activity, or just vote to
>move on to last-minute chores and get ready to go
Yeah improve his armor with that disc
You decide that even if the Stone of Sights doesn’t work well for you, Alan may as well benefit from it. You snug the cloak and cowl over your Heraldic uniform and hide your dagger well, then walk briskly through the city.

It takes well over an hour to cross the city on foot, or perhaps even two, given its size, but it would take longer if there were more people. You arrive at his home as the sun ekes towards noon. You knock on his door and wait.

After a moment, it swings open. Dervich is standing there, dressed in a robe and looking surprised. “Elsa! What’s up? Did I miss a page?” he asks.

“Nope. Just thought I should give you something. How’s your everything?” you ask nonchalantly.

“I feel great!” he says, beckoning you in. “I slept like a rock last night, no nightmares at all. My head’s cleared up, that cold is gone… I feel like a new man!”

“Hey, good,” you say approvingly. His apartment is immaculate, but then, he moved in two days ago. “Here. I wanted you to have this,” you tell him, passing him the Stone. “It’s a gift from Haret.”

He blinks. “His Lordship?” He accepts the Disc and chip. “Uh, what is it?”

“It’s called the Divine Disc, and the little chip is called the Stone of Sights,” you tell him. “Here.” You take it back and slot in the Disc. “Then take this and press it against your skin somewhere. When you do, it amplifies your powers, and they last longer.”

Alan’s eyes bug out. “Whoa, awesome.” He presses the Disc against his flesh and closes his eyes. “Hmm…” he says softly. “Alright, let’s try… this.” He opens his eyes and makes contact with yours. “Ask me a question.”

You shrug. “What color is your bedroom carpet?”

His voice seems to echo when he answer. “Blue, with gold thread.” He blinks and stares down at where the Disc sits on his chest. “Wow. That’s… way different than when I tried before. Cool.”

“Mount it on your armor, with a quick-release strap for when you’re taking it off,” you advise.

“Yeah, I should,” he says. “Hey, do we have deployment orders?”

“Tomorrow. Dawn,” you tell him. “Strap up. If you want your gear enchanted, go do it now. The Enchantress is taking last-minute orders.”

He nods. “Alright. I’ll go do that. Thanks.”

“Alan?” a husky female voice asks from the bedroom.

You playfully raise an eyebrow. He coughs into his hand. “Uh, my bar companion. Can I go get cleaned up? I’ll meet you Sunday morning.”

“You got it,” you say. “I’ll be there.”

>The rest of the afternoon is yours.

>Go visit an ally (Culler? Kelscik? Arisa? One of the Guilds? Your parents? Darril and Laura? Reed?)
>Buy things for the journey and battle (what?)
>Go home and meditate
>Go to the barracks and train
>>Go home and meditate
You don’t get many chances to do this, actually. You bid Alan farewell and walk back home, snugging your hood against the chill.

The sun is depressingly low when you arrive at your house. Jerome is off shopping, and you took the back door to avoid the crowds, so you only have to fend off one or two well-wishers on your way in.

You shuck your outer layers and hang up the cloak, wandering upstairs to meditate. Asa said that the more you do this, the faster you gain new abilities, which suits you fine. You’ll need them, you’re sure. You light a few candles around the edges of the little antechamber outside your bedroom and stretch.

As you limber up, you let your mind wander back to where Ritera stood, meditating in the practice of a God she had come to resent. When she was focusing, she seemed to try to relax her muscles as much as possible…

You close off your mind and detach the Gem from your soul, like Ritera unwittingly showed you, and begin your meditative stretches.

>You have performed the Meditation ritual on enough days to unlock a power.
>Roll 1d100. No modifiers.
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Sorry, this was unclear. The Dream Table and the Meditation Table are two separate entities that don't have the same values. They both require a straight-up d100 with no modifiers, and only kick in at specific points that Elsa hasn't identified. The tables are completely randomized after every single roll.

So 1d100 to unlock a new ability (if you had lost one when you were a ghost, you would have gotten it back here).
Rolled 96 (1d100)

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>See a 96
>Check tables

>Divine Light

Haaaaaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha, okay WOW, you guys are LUCKY (tonight).

You let your mind drift away on the tides of the holy ritual, feeling obscurely glad that elf and human physiology are so similar. Hours pass as you slowly shift from stance to stance, utterly lost in the rhythmic trance of your movements. Your muscles could be sore, your arms could be tired, Asa could be screaming in the Gem, but you can’t tell. All you are is a meat machine, acting without conscious thought.

At last, you feel a strange sense of calm flood your various, detached senses, and you slowly back out of the ritual, until you’re crouching on the floor, breathing slowly, with your eyes shut.

That felt… great. That felt awesome, actually. You feel calmer and more stable than you have since before you were mustered up to go fight in the south.


Something hits the ground nearby. You open your eyes and look up to see Jerome standing in the door from the bedroom, with a laundry basket on the floor in front of him, tipped over and spilling clothes.

“Elsa?” he asks weakly.

“Yeah?” you ask. You glance around yourself. “You okay?”

“Is that you?” he stammers.

You slowly stand up, eyeing him cautiously. “Jerome? Are you alright?”

His hands are shaking. “What happened?” he asks. “You… what happened?”

You look down where you were squatting, but there’s nothing there but your footprints in the carpet. “Uh?”

“You’re…” he says. He reaches up and cups your cheek. “You’re glowing! You didn’t even look like you!”
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New Divine Ability unlocked!

Divine Light: Though this ability lacks any direct combat application, it is Elsa’s greatest. For twenty seconds, Elsa becomes completely indistinguishable from a Holy Demon of Mai’te. Her face, voice, dress, all become identical to those of a Holy Demon. Though she doesn’t gain any new powers in this form, she automatically passes all speech and social checks without a roll. ACTIVE, 4 uses per day.

>Try to calm him down and ask what he saw
>Ask Asa what’s going on
>Try to use your new power

Character sheet updated
>>Try to calm him down and ask what he saw
>>Ask Asa what’s going on
You reach up and squeeze his hand. “Hey, hey,” you soothe. “What’s wrong? What did you see?”

He shakes himself. “You looked like somebody else!” he insists. “A woman, with white skin, long black hair, and red eyes… and you were glowing, bright white!”

You stare. “… One moment, please.” You stab the Gem. Time slows. {Sister, what just happened?}

[You tell me! I felt that from the Geode!] Asa’s flabbergasted voice replies. [Did you just do something?]

{I was meditating, and Jerome said I looked like another woman, with white skin, black hair, and red eyes,} you say patiently.

[…Mai’te’s tears,] Asa breathes. [You found the Light. You found the Light, Elsa. You can transform into a Demon’s form. I’m… I’m stunned. That was one of the mightiest powers we ever gave the Heralds. How did you unlock it so quickly?]

{I was just meditating, and it happened on its own!} you insist.

[Incredible. Simply incredible.] Asa’s voice sounds genuinely reverent. [A power Mother didn’t give even me. You can choose to resemble a demon any time!]

{Is that bad?}

[It’s… no. It’s not good or bad. It’s a tool. It’s just one that I suspect nobody knows you have.]

{Thanks.} You look up at Jerome. “Sorry if I scared you, Jerome,” you say sheepishly. “That was a new power. I can make myself look like a demon. Sound like one, too, I guess.”

He stares into your eyes, then shakes himself again. “But nothing else changed?”

“I was just meditating, yeah,” you promise. “That’s all.”

“Okay.” He stoops and retrieves the laundry. “I’m not even going to pretend I understand Asa’s decisions, at this point. That scared the hell out of me.”

“I’m sorry!” you say plaintively. “I didn’t know it could happen!”

“I know,” he sighs. “I’m not mad. I was just shocked.”

You grind a hand into your eyes. “Okay. Sorry. I’ll keep that one in reserve until I need it.”

He walks past you, laundry in hands. “Dinner’s on the fire, by the way.”

“Thanks, handsome.” You follow him down the stairs. “Sorry, I really didn’t mean to scare you.”

“I know,” he says. He vanishes into the basement as you sit down. As he returns, he fixes you with a curious glance. “Did it feel weird?”

“I didn’t feel anything different, actually,” you admit.

Your husband pulls the food off the fire and deposits it on the table. “It was pretty amazing,” he says. “You even sounded different. Deeper-voiced. Older.”

“Huh.” You stare at the table as he starts cutting the meat. “Well, alright. I’ll just have to be careful.”

>Do something else before the battle
>Go to bed
>>Go to bed
>>Do Jerome before the battle

Not a joke vote.
After dinner, you settle down into bed, already wondering what the next day will face. As your husband joins you, though, he pauses before he snuffs the candle. “Elsa?” he asks uncomfortably.


“Is there a battle tomorrow?” he asks.

“Yeah. We’re going to kill the weapons dealer who found the Orb,” you tell him. “Me and a Shadow team. I’ve been trying to think of how to tell you.” You prop yourself up on your elbows. “How did you find out?”

He sighs. “The troops in the armory were moving around Shadow gear by the crateload,” he says. “You were gonna tell me?”

“I was gonna tell you right now,” you tell him. “But… now you know.”

“Alright.” He hesitates a moment, then his hand falls away from the candle. “I won’t ask you to be safe. I know you won’t be.”

A sad expression turns your lips. “Jerome…”

He runs his hands over your arms, leaving little trails of warmth behind. “When do you have to go?”

“Tomorrow, I need to be there at dawn,” you tell him.

“Mmm.” He lies down beside you, pulling the sheets up over you both. He wraps an arm around your midsection and rolls onto his side as you flop down next to him. He starts to say something when you interrupt him with a kiss.

“Don’t ask,” you murmur. “I know.”

He nods. You pull your pajama bottoms down a few inches and snuggle back against him in a spoon. His arm drifts down into the gap between your shirt and pants and starts gently massaging you. Your eyes drift shut as his hand goes to work. “Oh…” you murmur into the night air. His other hand appears from behind your back to join the first from the other direction, and you let out a slow hiss as both hands go to work.

He pauses long enough to push down the sheets and blankets to your feet as he prepares you. For a few lazy minutes, you content yourself by gently grinding back against his questing hands, reaching back every so often to loosen his pajamas or caress him through the material. Eventually, he feels you get wet enough to be ready, and he frees his hands up to gently prop your upper leg into a more comfortable positon.

You’re relaxed enough that he doesn’t find any real resistance. You feel the tip of his erection slip back and forth on your entrance a few times, then gradually press and penetrate. He sighs into your hair as he reaches his length inside you and wraps both arms around your middle again. “…Feels so nice,” he murmurs.

“Yeah,” you moan softly. “Just move slowly…”

He does. You rock away as he withdraws, and gently push back as he thrusts, and you settle into your rhythm in the flickering light of the candle. You close off your mind, like you did when meditating, and let your body’s needs guide you both.

You’re nice and relaxed tonight and it’s been a while, so you feel as comfortable and satisfying as you can be. He kisses the crown of your head and the tips of your ears as you move together; he murmurs your name as you gently pushes you closer.

When you come, it’s not the seismic shock of rough and fast loving he gives you sometimes. It’s more a throbbing wave of tension and release that rolls outward from your vagina to fill your whole body in rising waves. He feels you tense and gasp, and he smiles against your hair. “Good one,” he says quietly. “How does it feel?”

You groan his name, and he understands. A few short, dazed minutes later, you feel him suddenly tense, and his grip across your stomach tightens for a moment. After it’s over, he relaxes and pulls free. You feel the gentle ebb of his warmth from between your legs as he gingerly cleans you with his day clothes and dries himself off.

You lie there, motionless, as he snuffs the candle and settles back into his position. “I know we said you’d stop promising you’d come back,” he says faintly. “But that can’t be goodbye. Right?”

“Right,” you whisper.

“Okay.” He kisses the top of your head again. “We’ll do it again, sometime.”

“Soon,” you murmur, and you both fall fast asleep.

You wake up a few hours later, before dawn. You lie there in the warmth of his embrace for a bit longer, savoring the feeling, before reluctantly sliding free and rising.

You shower, eat, and dress, putting your weapons on the table. You can carry them all without trouble now that you’ve tapped the Well, and your physical power has increased in measure as a result, but you can’t wear all your armor at once.

>Shadow gear
>Auxilia gear
>Heraldic gear
>>Heraldic gear
All right. One last post, then I'm done for the night. Maybe for the weekend. We'll see how this new book goes.
Time to wear what you are.

You clasp the Heraldic gear on, armor and all, and secure the mask in a bag. You strap your sling around your waist over the belt, snap your shield into place, and heft the spear onto its strap. Your grenades clink in the bag as you tie it on.

Down in the tunnels, you jog towards the castle, where the Enchantress has your gear ready.

It’s a sober setting. As you attach the belts and weapons, she stares at you uncomfortably. “So it’s starting?” she asks sadly. “The King and your Paladin both came in yesterday and asked for some upgrades.

“Yeah.” You slide the blades home after an experimental swing. “It’s time.”

She hesitates, then holds her hand out. “Good luck, your Eminence,” she says quietly.

You shake her hand, trying not to crush her fingers with your armored gloves. “Thank you.”

Out in the courtyard, Alan is waiting with two horses, along with nearly fifty Shadows. Some have Infiltrator garb, but every single one has enchanted stealth armor; some even have it on their horses. The King is there, speaking to an officer, and doesn’t notice you immediately.

Al nods somberly as you walk up. “Elsa. We’re all ready.”

You nod thanks and quickly mount up. “Thanks, my friend.”

“I’m nervous,” he admits as he climbs up on his own mount.

“Me too.” You secure the reins as Maas notices you. “But we’ll win. One way or another, we’ll win.”

Alan nods. “I know,” he says quietly. “I know.”

Maas rides up beside you. “Herald. Are you prepared?”

You snap off an Auxilia-issued salute. “Yes, your Majesty.”

“Good.” He taps the glittering sword at his hip – it’s a beautiful, ancient Dragon-man war-spike, one of the most durable weapons ever designed. “We ride for Cender!” he shouts, and you ride towards destiny.

[Temporary End of Thread]

I don't care if this one dies overnight. If it doesn't, though, that'd be great.

Are you doing a Natnothingy this year? Forgot to ask earlier.
NaNoWriMo? Yes. In fact, I begin tomorrow. That's why I have been doing these three-day marathon sessions of the quest: I wanted to get as much done as possible.

What's your topic this year? More for the Dead Gods 'Verse?
Precisely. It's the war in the south that's been draining the King's resources the entire time, the one Elsa was mustered to fight in the tutorial thread.

Excellent. I hope it isn't quite as clunky as that other war story you did, which had the unfortunate Abnettesque rushed ending that let the story down.
Did it? It was supposed to portray a fast, confusing battle.
Your horse trots along on the road at the head of the convoy, which is right where you belong. You’re a Skirmisher, you always ride ahead. The odd part is that the King is at your flank, giving directions to the Shadow team behind you, and Alan is at your tail.

Shadows aren’t born riders like normal Legionnaires, but they keep in practice like good soldiers, and you make excellent time. Only a few hours pass before you arrive.

The manor where Master Novai Saren has set up shop is an older building, tucked away in a decrepit farm. You and Alan, by unspoken agreement, halt the convoy one mile out.

The King looks down at you askance as you dismount. “Herald? We’re a mile away.”

“I know, your Majesty, but we can’t just ride in,” you remind him. He hides his confusion well, but you press on. “He has ancient weapons, some of which we can’t even identify. Want to bet he has the whole area rigged to explode? We need stealth.”

“Clever,” he says. “Forgive me, I’m more a cavalry general than anything,” he says drily as he dismounts as well. “Coulter, guard the mounts,” he says, nodding to one Shadow. The woman in question stays mounted and draws a wicked-looking longbow. The team of mercenaries the King hired dismount as well, drawing matte-brown painted swords.

>”Sire, I would feel better if you stayed here. Saren has many weapons.”
>”What do you think we should do?”
>”You mercenaries, you know the area. Recommend an approach.”

Yes, but the cop-out end with 'suddenly, divine intervention and assassination' essentially rendered the prior pacing moot and brought the story to a screaming conclusion, like a car hitting a power-pole.

The ending should not be a bolt from the blue. It should come naturally and flow naturally as well. But I already told you this last time. This time, this Natnothingy, hopefully the conclusion will be better paced and flow better as well.

It didn't come from nowhere. The entire last third of the book was building up to it, explicitly. You see exactly what leads to it. You even see the deliberations and back-room politics in the Geode that dictated that it happen. There's nothing cop-out about it. Copping out is when you accept a plea bargain to avoid a longer sentence in a trial. It's obvious from the moment Barkley finds what Deif is doing that only divine intervention can stop it. It's the fact that divine intervention ISN'T what stops it that's unexpected. Mortals stop Deif, not the Pantheon.
>”You mercenaries, you know the area. Recommend an approach.”
You turn to those mercenaries as they approach. “My friends, you know this area. How do we best attack?”

The leader bows before answering. The green sash on her uniform jacket has some Army pins – she’s a vet, too. “Lady Ledren. I’d recommend an approach across the woods themselves, parallel to the access road, but I would say we get closer. We’re only a mile from the manor’s access road, but the road itself is six miles long. In full armor, with stealth, it would take over a day to get close enough to attack, especially with this cold.”

You rub your chin as you think that over. “Hmm. Your Majesty, I’d suspect he had the road watched, but he probably doesn’t have traps along its whole length…”

>Page Asa and have her ask the others if Soutri and Moor remembered any defenses
>Push on ahead anyway
>Re-mount and approach on horseback
>Page Asa and have her ask the others if Soutri and Moor remembered any defenses

Follow the mercenaries suggestion
Power outage. Be back soon.
Sorry about that. Turns out it was a cracking lightbulb, not an outage.
You tap the Gem again. {Sister, did any of the conspirators have any idea what kind of defenses Saren had here?}

A pause. [Battles in the south sap my attention, my sister. Give me a moment.] You wait a few uncomfortable seconds before she replies. [Soutri suspected that there were few traps, but he met Saren at the mouth of the access road, so he wasn’t sure. Moor had been inside. He described it as a sort of pleasure gallery, like the one at Forest’s estate. Probably a light defense outside, a few guards, and tripwires on the road. He saw no ancient superweapons save the ones Saren produced to sell him. I don’t know where he was keeping them. Kill him, and I’ll have his knowledge.]

{Right. Thanks, sister.} You Look up at the King and the mercenaries. “Alright, it looks like the access road isn’t trapped, or at least there are only light defenses. A few tripwires on the road, a few guards, but most of Saren’s attention has apparently gone into decorating the house. Maybe he was retiring here? I don’t know, but there’s not much defense.”

“Then we ride up until the first sentries come into view, dismount, and approach on foot, your Eminence, that’s what I’d suggest,” the mercenary captain says.

The King nods. “I have no objection.”

The marching order resets, as you all climb back on your horses, and set off in a group, riding quickly now.

It’s tense. The cold, whipping wind saps the warmth from your hands and face. The Shadows are always quiet, which is obscurely comforting, but the King’s silence seems more nervous. You slow your horse a fraction to ride alongside him and steal a look at his face. “Sire?” you ask quietly.

He turns, and you blink at the unexpected smile on his lips. “Herald, damn me,” he murmurs, “but I feel alive. No skulking behind proxy armies. No moving figures on a map. This is a real, just war, against an enemy I can stick with a sword.” He closes his eyes for a moment, then looks ahead. “Damn me, I feel alive.”

“I’ve been to hell, sire,” you tell him under your breath. “Balance your words, please.” You look forward too. “But yes. This is just. This bastard raised his hand, and killed eight hundred good men and women. Ekrine, Connor, Godet, Alen, Saris. My friends. My comrades.”

“Justice awaits at the end of this road,” the King says firmly.

You grin under your helmet. “Quite right.”

You all halt your mounts as one of the Infiltrators spots a sentry around the next bend of the road. You’re perhaps three thousand feet from the manor, and you haven’t seen a single trap.

>Send the Infiltrators in to salt the battlefield
>Go through the woods and attack
>Consult an expert (mercs/Asa)
>>Consult an expert (mercs
Perhaps have a shadow sneak up and kill the sentry? Use his knowledge for location of other sentries and traps.
As a few Shadows tend to the horses, you turn to the mercs. “All right. Does this place have utilities?”

The mercs look at each other. “Uh, I’ve never been inside, I’ve just protected convoys the last owner used,” the captain says. “But I think so.”

You look back to the sentry’s position, though you can’t see him any more than he can see you. “All right. Sire, we should send an Infiltrator to go neutralize the sentry.”

“I agree.” The King beckons a pair of Infiltrator Shadows over. “Sentry ahead. Take him out,” he instructs.

The two Infiltrators nod and walk across the road to the far side. The road continues onward a stretch, straight, then jogs to the right, and it curves out of sight. If the sentry was close to the far side of the road, it would be easier to take them out there.

You all wait, nerves tensed, as the Infiltrators vanish. The sun creeps a few more degrees towards the horizon before you see a distinct flicker of light from the far side of the road.

One of the Shadows leans over to the King. “They got the sentry, sire. The road is clear between here and the house.”

You and the King share a glance. The place is awfully lightly defended. “No tripwires?” you ask.

“None they can see,” she Shadow replies. “That’s the sign for ‘all clear.’”

>This may be a trap. Advance on foot.
>This may be a trap. Use the horses for speed.
>We take the forest, even if it adds a while to our trip.
Check with Asa, and the other two through her, to find out what the sentry knows of the defenses.
So glad you remembered that.
{Sister, we just got a sentry. Did he know anything?}

[She did, actually. She’s a new hire, and she knew the layout of the house… but it won’t matter. Saren is in the front room, alone, and his guards are all on the roof with javelins and grenades. He doesn’t intend to run. They’re supposed to be ready to attack when she gives a signal.]

{What signal?}

[She was a mage, though a very weak one. She was supposed to use the Flare spell and fall back to the house.]

{They couldn’t even see her position?}

[No. These aren’t professionals.]

{No kidding. What is Saren using? Magic weapons?}

[Yes. He has a shield, he has a dwarf hammer with the Flamewind enchantment, and he has a suit of… something. Something maddeningly familiar. Armor, but for some reason, I can’t recall what sort this is. Strange.]

{How many guards total, minus the sentry?}


{Is the house rigged to blow? So we can’t use grenades inside?}



[Saren’s maid, butler, and cook.]

You have forty Shadows, seven mercenaries, Dervich, and nine Infiltrators. Plus you and the King.

>I’ll sneak into the house and assassinate him
>Tear gas in the front door, masks on, charge
>Have the mercs and Shadows kill the rooftop guards, everybody else attack
What time is it?
About 1430 hours.
>>Tear gas in the front door, masks on, charge

Wait till dark. If we can get close enough and inside without being seen then having all his guards on the roof will be a disadvantage rather than an advantage.
“I’d recommend we wait until dark, then chuck tear gas in the window and charge in,” you tell the King. “There’s hostages in there.” You relate all of Asa’s knowledge to the King, and he thinks that over before nodding.

“Yes. If his men are on the roof, we should hit them when they start to lose visibility. Wait… do you have any Flare grenades?” he asks.

“I have two,” you tell him. “So does Paladin Dervich.”

He grins. “Excellent. They will be blinded by those. We can hit the place as soon as the roof guards are blinded. Is the building warded at all?”

You tap the Gem and get an answer from Asa. “Hmm. The front door is, but the servants’ entrance, the cellar, the chimney, the windows, and the mud room door on the far side aren’t. Only the front door is warded, and it’s warded against access by anybody who hasn’t been invited. A good blast of magic will turn it to dust.”

One of the Shadows leans in. “Your Eminence, does Saren know we’re here?”

“The sentry didn’t,” you tell him.

“And the sentry was supposed to report back every so often, was she?” the Shadow presses.

You tap the Gem. “Er, Asa says she was supposed to check in every fifteen… minutes. Hmm.”

>Wait anyway
>Just hit the place at once
>See if you can’t lure more guards down off the roof
How was the sentry supposed to check in?
Asa says she was supposed to walk into the house.
>>Just hit the place at once
So every 15 minutes the sentry was to leave her post and walk half a mile to report in then walk back?
Actually, yeah, that seems a bit dumb. We'll make it forty minutes, and because you caught me being shitty at math, we'll say she just got back on post.

If you want to re-vote, go ahead.
Lets use the time we have to get into position. Then attack.
How fast can we position most of our force to approach the manor from a different direction than the sentry's position. We could use the flare as a distraction and rush the distance to the manor while they're looking the other way.
In full armor, a well-trained soldier can make three thousand feet through woodlands in less than forty minutes.

The question is whether the King should come with you, or you should just take his troops and he stays here.
“Then we advance,” the King says. He gestures to two Shadows to guard the mounts, and the rest of you fall into formation in the woods. A quick gesture tells you the Infiltrators are keeping pace across the road.

You all jog through the woods, keeping a weather eye out for traps. The entire forest seems devoid of anything untoward, which is exactly the opposite of what you expected. Nobody says a word, and to his credit, the King keeps pace. If anything, he’s trying to hide his enjoyment. He earned his kingship through blood, not battle. He probably feels like he’s proving himself.

After just under forty minutes, you see the manor through the trees. True to predictions, there are six soldiers on the roof, and one sitting on the front step, nursing a crossbow. The soldiers on the roof have alchemic grenades and a javelin each, and you see a few bows on a rack, already strung. Yeah, these guys aren’t professionals.

You and Dervich dip your hands into your pouches and pull out your two flares. You wait for the King and Shadows to get into position.

>You and (who else?) attack (which target?)

>You can send the Shadows in the main room, you can send the Infiltrators onto the roof, you can all charge the roof and fight your way down, you can send any combination anywhere you like
Please remember your powers
Fancy soul/mage/gifted eye powers. Find the hostages.
You engage all of your soul, Gift, and Well-finding powers at once, scanning the house. You get a distant sense that three individuals in the picture have tapped the Well; one is in the sitting room, one is in the sun room in the front by the main door, and one is on the roof. You can see two of the soldiers on the roof are Gifted, as well, and one is the same person that’s sending off the Well signal. That guy may be trouble.

Girl, rather. It’s a young woman, and she’s on the roof, massaging her head. She may have sensed the Gifted Shadows. You’re out of time.

Maddeningly, the far side of the building is out of range of the Eyes, meaning you can’t see exactly where all the occupants are.

>Attack now
>Use another power
Again, the more likely you are to actually describe the attack force you want to send to each target, the better the understanding I have of your plan.
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>>Attack now
Bust in using whatever entrances are convienent. Send some of the mercs up the first set of stairs they can find to head off the guards on the roof. Everybody else deals with the main target and the other well taped guy on the ground floor. Put the king somewhere where he'll feel important but be in relatively less danger.
>>Use another power
Divine Light, cause why the hell not?
You glance back over your shoulder. “Flares go up, the people on the roof will panic. Mercenary team, hit those guys, keep them distracted. Your Majesty, you go with the Infiltrators and rush the back door. Find the hostages. Shadow team, on me. Dervich, cover me.” You draw a deep breath and settle your stomach. “My friends, I’m about to change my appearance. If this works, we won’t even have to fight.”

Before anybody else says anything, you focus your powers.

The entire group gasps. Even the Infiltrators. That’s probably a good sign.

You emerge from your hiding place and walk right out into the clearing between the house and the woods. Every eye on the stoop and roof lock onto your position. Several of the guards – they’re not even in uniform – scream or fall to their knees. You can see the whole area light up with a radiant energy. You raise your arms and speak aloud.


Internally, you recoil – the words aren’t even leaving your mouth as breath, they’re emerging from the very air itself, like Vill’s did in your dream of Umbara! Instantly, the soldiers on the roof start dismounting, and the one on the stoop drops his crossbow. Inside, you see whomever’s in the sun room – probably Saren – leap to their feet.

The soldiers on the ladder are nearly to the ground when the one on the stoop suddenly shouts. “What the fuck? That was a trick!”

You blink. The light is gone. The soldier on the ground scoops up his crossbow, enraged.

Roll 1d100+11
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Rolled 23 + 11 (1d100 + 11)

Rolled 13 + 11 (1d100 + 11)

here goes
You hurl your Flare grenade and you hear Dervich do it too. You cover your eyes just in time. They crack, with explosions of dazzling light, and the Shadows are moving.

You uncover your mouth and slap your mask on under your helmet as Dervich extracts a packet of that disgusting single-use mask and applies it. The Shadows are on the clearing and running, and the crossbowman immediately drops his weapon, hands in the air.


To your shock, all six men on the roof manage to land on the ground, and though a few are dazzled, the rest whip out blades. You charge forward to join in the fighting, but something purple and white and black streaks past you. Maas vaults over the nearest, stumbling rooftop guard and simply body-checks another. That one crumples between the King’s enchanted armor and the wall, visibly denting the wall and not damaging the King in the slightest. The others are dead in seconds.

“Nicely done, Herald,” Maas says, before he and the Infiltrators sprint off towards the back.

You all turn to see the guard who surrendered lying prone on his back, horror on every inch of his face. You advance, hands on your weapons.

Roll 1d100+15 for Perception.
Rolled 100 + 15 (1d100 + 15)

Captcha is my worst foe.
Rolled 63 + 15 (1d100 + 15)


I hope that's a good one.
Yes. We use the Proportionate d100 system here. 0 is crit fail, 100 is crit success.
I'm still here. This one is a bear to write.
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The soldier on the ground isn’t lying prone, he’s immobilized… by a strand of red string that looks like it’s connected to something inside the door. And he’s not looking at you. He’s looking inside.

You freeze in your tracks. “TRAP! TRAP, INSIDE THE DOOR!” you scream.

Then the wall blows up.

Your shield sparks as something skates off of the magic envelope. Dervich drops the tear gas grenade he had been priming at his feet and it cracks, but he’s got his mask on.

Then a wave of red tendrils erupt from the smoking hole. You slash with your blades, slicing the threads, but one touches your shield, and you stumble as you collide with the suddenly solid bubble. Several other Shadows with shields seem to do the same, as their shields stop moving with them. Thise without simply stop as the threads touch their bodies somewhere.

All except one. One Shadow, in the lee of the damaged wall and invisible to whomever’s beyond, freezes, but the rise and fall of her breastplate let you know she escaped attention, and she’s just biding her time.

“Well, well, what a shock,” a wheezing old voice says from inside the house. Novai Saren steps out from the smoke and walks casually up to you. A little ball of energy in his hands fizzles and sparks, and the read threads you saw before snake and roil from its surface. “This old thing actually works! A Harpy Immobilizer. Their police used them for crowd control. Hard to corral something that flies, you know.”

“Novai Saren! Drop that thing and I promise you a fair trial!” you shout.

“No need to bellow, woman, I’m five feet away,” he says irritably. “I’m old, but I’m not deaf yet.” He lifts a flask from his pocket with his free hand and takes a leisurely sip. “Two thousand Acerts per bottle, this stuff,” he says. “Most expensive brandy on Tarsh. Worth every coin.”

You glare daggers at him as he gloats. You hear screaming and a horrible crash from the mud room door, then silence from the back. “Ah, the King found my other traps. I must admit, I was genuinely surprised to see him with you,” Saren says. “What in the world did you bring the King of Cender with you for? Mercenaries hard to hire these days? Wasn’t hard to find these louts,” he says, jerking a thumb at the mangled corpse of the man he had pinned in place in front of the door. “Or did I offend him somehow? Is this personal?”

“You killed eight hundred of his Auxilia!” you snarl.

He tsks. “Oh, of course. Took it a little personally, did he?”

The Shadow he missed creeps forward, taking a single, silent step. He doesn’t notice. “Well, no matter. Don Kotrick may be a jackass, but his money’s good. Spent the last month filling this house with everything I’ve ever wanted,” he says with a dreamy sigh. “I’m older than the hills, you know. Probably only have a few years left. May as well live like the Emperor!”

“You killed all those people because you wanted to live wealthy?” you demand, flabbergasted. “That’s it?”

He shrugs. “Well, no. I wanted to live like a god, obviously, but that was thirty years ago. I found that crate, and I dragged it to the one city large enough to hide the kind of rich criminals who would pay me what the Orb and the rest was worth.” He sighs. “I thought it would take eight years. Took me thirty eight. I had to drag it through the jungle, through the desert, across eighty five rivers – don’t think I didn’t track it! And I had to do it alone, since my party of ten Explorers all died, save the guide and myself.” He chuckles. It’s a papery, evil sound. “Gave him some trinkets to cover the extra costs when we got back to his camp. I understand he made a mess with them up in Strevain a few months ago. I wondered what took him so long.”

>You need to stall for time. What do you want to ask him
>Ask about the conspirators
>Ask about his relics
>Ask about his magic
>Ask about him personally
>Use a power
>>Ask about him personally
Ask him if it's worth the stay in hell to live his last month in decadence?
>>Ask about him personally

Until someone else can think of something better, try to do this as he seems to be someone who likes to talk....
Very well! Hell doesn't exist, and he knows that, so make a bluff check! That's 1d100+10.

If you wish to use Voice of the Divine, the modifier becomes +12. If you wish to use All The World Shall Sing to influence, the modifier becomes +18. If you wish to use All The World Shall Sing to Control him, the modifier becomes +50, and Asa will be very mad.
Rolled 46 + 10 (1d100 + 10)

going with normal, the powers don't seem to make much of a big factor.
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Rolled 99 + 18 (1d100 + 18)

Toss some influencing in there. Hell totally exists.
You draw on Asa’s powers for the next attempt. He’s clearly got a lot of knowledge about the olden days, but maybe he’s not quite so certain about death in his old age. “Think stalling me will delay your damnation, Saren?” you snarl. You stretch out your mind to his and feel it connect. “I’ve been to hell, you horrid murderer. I know where you’re going.”

He blinks. “Eh?”

“I’ve BEEN THERE,” you roar. He actually recoils. “I’ve seen hell’s endless waterfalls, I’ve felt the grip of the Shamblers! I’ve seen the Stone Door!”

He takes a step back.

“I died in that forest, you horrible worm,” you growl. You feel the genuine rage of that battle spill into your voice. Every word is a curse. “I DIED! And again, fighting Moor! I KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING!”

Saren stares, shocked by your outburst. Behind him, the Shadow he missed takes another silent step forward, then two more. She’s only six paces away from sword range.

“I…” he shakes his head. “You’re lying. You’re lying, and I know it.” His face darkens. “Even if you weren’t, who would care? If there is a hell, I’ve been bound to it for a long time. This makes no difference. I may as well spend all the rest of my days treasuring what life I have left.”

A horrible crash in the house startles you all. He spins to look at the manor and locks eyes with the Shadow who’s nearly on top of him. His eyes bug out, and he raises the little Immobilizer. The Shadow lunges.

Roll 1d100+17
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Rolled 1 + 17 (1d100 + 17)

I could use another 99. Just sayin'
Well, too bad.
Rolled 40 + 17 (1d100 + 17)

>Roll 1d100+17
Saren raises the Immobilizer and it activates in the nick of time. A string – barely five centimeters in length – rushes out and touches the Shadow. She freezes in mid-lunge.

You and everyone else in a shield bubble groan in frustration. Saren lets out a long, slow breath. “Well. That was close.” He glares at you over his shoulder. “Nice try. Don’t go anywhere now, I need to see if somebody made it past my traps. And in case you decide to do something stupid…”

He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a little glass token. “Here. This will keep you busy.” He walks back into the hole, flipping the token off his thumb like a coin. It shatters on the ground as he walks away.

A black mist forms where the glass cracked. Something large starts moving inside the misty cloud. It grows, and grows, and grows, until the misty sphere is nearly six meters tall, right in the middle of the group of Shadows. Inside, you hear people screaming.

You finally remember that you can move freely inside the bubble and page Asa. {Sister, he has a Harpy Immobilizer!}

[Oh, good,] Asa sighs. [Any sign of an Orb?]


[Then perhaps I’ll step in. I just got a soul or two, was there a battle?]

{A brief one. Sister, he dropped a glass chip, and when it broke, something made of black mist emerged.}

[How large?]

You crane your head up to look at the vaguely person-shaped cloud, which is now twelve feet tall at least. {Twice Jerome’s height!}

[Odd. None of the ancient folk were that large… maybe it’s an illusion.]

A hand emerges from the mist, grabs a Shadow, and pulls it inside. You hear a crunch, and the Shadow’s helmet bounces out.

[…No, that was real. Elsa, my daughter, you are released to use your mind control powers for what is about to happen.]

{What’s about to happen?} you demand.

The mist vanishes.

In its place is a beast from the deepest nightmare.

It’s gigantic. It’s fourteen feet tall, it has wings made of congealed blood, it has glowing purple eyes with no pupils, it’s covered in Shadow elf blood, its massive arms ripple with muscle, and a glowing golden circle wraps around its neck. Its body is barren of any clothing, but it lacks sexual traits. Cracks in its flesh reveal shimmering red light under its scaled skin.

Every Shadow in a bubble starts shouting. Your voice freezes. [It’s a Dragon-man afterlife soul-herd,] Asa sighs. [It’s the guardian of the Dragon-man sinners.]

>{Why the fuck did the Harpies have one?}
>{How do I kill it?}
>{Can you send an Avatar to kill it?}
>{Is it controlled by something?}

>{How do I kill it?}

The first, and most obvious question. If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing yourself.
>>{Why the fuck did the Harpies have one?}
>>{How do I kill it?}
>>{Can you send an Avatar to kill it?}
>>{Is it controlled by something?}
We have light speed talking now. Ask ALL of these.
>>{Is it controlled by something?}
>>{How do I kill it?}

The others can wait.
{Can I kill it? Can I even hurt it?} you demand.

[What is it doing?]

{It just ate somebody!}

[Yes, I have her soul, I’m asking what it’s doing now!]

You look. It’s unfurling its horrifying wings. It cranes back its head and roars, and the glass left in the windows shakes.

{Being scary. It’s not eating any more people…}

[Then perhaps you can slow it,] Asa says urgently. [Listen carefully. The soul-herders weren’t like the Shamblers. They educated sinners as much as they punished them. They can be reasoned with. Does it have any sort of devices on it?]

{It has a golden circlet around its neck!}

[A Spireling mind-control torc!]

Your reply is pure anger. {How did the Harpies get their hands on a Dragon-man afterlife entity, slap Spireling magic on there, and put it in a preservation chip?}

[Spireling conjuration magic gone horribly wrong, I’d guess.]

{Can you kill it?}

[Kill it? No! It’s immortal! Nothing can kill it! But it also rejects most forms of mind-control, since it doesn’t have a soul, per se. It sort of is a soul, only shaped by psychological influences of its progenitor race, like a demon. If you destroy the torc, it will be free.]

{Free it? It just ate a Shadow!}

[And it will try as hard as it can to not eat more! It was probably driven to impulse by hunger in that chip! It’s fully conscious! Just trust me, that torc is its only weak spot!]

{Can you send an Avatar to stop it, at least?} you ask hopefully.

[Of course! I’m preparing one now. Vier and Haret will send one each as well, but an Immobilizer will work on Avatars, so we may have to leave if he uses it on us!]

As you break the connection, you see one of the guards from the roof stagger to his feet, looking dazed. He sights the creature and stumbles back, looking shocked.

>Try to call his attention
>Try to control the soul-herd despite not being able to leave the shield-bubble
>Start screaming for Maas
>Wait for the Avatar to arrive before acting
>>Try to call his attention
You wave towards the guard, and he doesn’t notice. You let a bit of Asa’s power into your voice and cup your hands around your mouth.

“Sir! Look!” you say, as loud as you dare. The huge soul-herd flaps its horrible wings and rises a few feet, roaring in triumph. “Look! See me?”

The guard, a young elf man, probably not even out of teenage years, finally notices you. You pantomime him coming closer, but his knees give out, and he stumbles.

The Avatars appear, but all three vanish at once, as they had appeared within sight of the creature. It didn’t see them, as its eyes are turned up, but all three then appear at the back door. Red threads zip out and touch Haret’s, and it freezes, then vanishes. The other two just vanish.

[Well, he knows we’re coming], Asa says wearily. [We tried to attack, but… well. Maas is alive. I think his whole team is alive. We can’t just level the building. He has them in an ice trap. If we try to blow up the building, it’ll collapse and crush them. If we suck out the air, the ice will shatter their flesh, and they’ll die horribly.] She hesitates. [I think your mind-control spell will work on the soul-herd even if the torc stays on, but it won’t be able to resist the torc for as long as you’d need it to.]

The guard rises again, and reaches for a blade with trembling hands.

Nobody else has noticed, or has reacted if they have.

>Signal him to cut the cords
>Signal him to run for help
>Signal him to go inside and do something
>Signal him to look for something
>>Signal him to cut the cords

we'd at least be able to do more freed. No idea what else to do.
You urgently signal at the cords that trace from you into the house. He looks up at the creature, back at you, and nods. He gulps with fear, but still manages to grab a sword. He clambers up and runs for you.

“No, not for me! The strings!” you whisper, pointing at where they bunch together, near to the hole.

He doesn’t hear. He just rushes in towards you. He raises the blade when a shadow suddenly appears overhead. The boy stumbles as the creature lands mere feet away. With one desperate lunge, the boy flings himself, sword in hand, for the string, even as the soul-herd reaches for him.

Roll 1d100
Rolled 98 (1d100)

I hope this does good. Where did everyone else go anyways?
By a huge stroke of fortune, the lad trips, and the soul-herd’s claws zip through the air, shredding his hat, but not touching him. The lad’s blade nicks your string… and you’re free.

Now what?

>Attempt mind control, like Asa said you should
>Just start fighting
>Slice more cords
>>Attempt mind control, like Asa said you should

This is a start, but I'm not sure what else to do.
You reach into the depths of Asa’s vast power, and force your mind against the creatures. You tilt your head back and scream. “OBEY!”

The soul-herd pauses. It looks down at you, then over at the house, then down at the boy, then at you.

Then it speaks.


Its voice shakes the ground. “I… I am Herald Ledren, of the elves,” you say carefully. “You understand me?”

It blinks.


It taps the torc, and the torc sparks. It withdraws its hand.


“Let me destroy it!” you plead. “I can free you!” It seems to sigh. It’s not moving any more.


Its horrible claws flex. The boy whimpers in fear.


“Resist! Kneel, so I can cut the torc!” you exclaim.


>Try to use All the World Shall Sing again to buy time to act, then use one of the other options
>Charge into the house and try to kill Saren
>Get the kid to cut more cords and try to reach the soul-herd’s neck with your spear
>Grab Alan’s Disc and see if it amplifies your powers
>ask Asa for more advice
>>Get the kid to cut more cords and try to reach the soul-herd’s neck with your spear
“Start cutting cords, boy!” you snap at the terrified elf teen.

“Y-yes, ma’am!” he manages, and he rises with his sword in hand.

You race over next to the soul-herd. He’s trembling from exertion, now. He’s trying as hard as he can to obey you and resist Saren. The screams and crashing from inside are getting louder.

You whip your spear up and try to slice the torc. To your surprise, you actually cause visible damage. The soul-herd groans.


“You have a name, immortal one?” you ask, just to keep him distracted.


He falls silent for a moment.


You haul off and thrust as hard as you can, and the torc sparks even more.


“I got some!” the elf boy shouts, and some Shadows break free. One much taller one runs up next to you and grabs the spear from your hands.

“Let me!” he shouts, and he rams it into the torc.


“That’s enough,” Saren says.

You spin on your heel to see him standing in the hole again, covered in blood. His face is a mask of absolute rage. “So disappointing. My own guard betrays me, hmm?” He flicks his free hand, and a spark of black fire leaps out to consume the boy, who dissolves into nothingness with a horrid scream. “You just can’t get good help.”

The ancient Master Explorer raises the Immobilizer, and again, little threads reach out towards you.

This is your last chance.

>Use a power
>Try to dodge instead of cutting this time
>>Try to dodge instead of cutting this time
>>Try to dodge instead of cutting this time
>>Then attempt a marksman-throw a projectile at the mobilizer

Not sure how well the second will work, but not sure if he'd see it coming.
Cutting didn’t work. Maybe evasion.

“DESTROY THE TORC!” you scream, and you fling yourself aside. The red string that was moving for you twitches and zooms past you, then vanishes as another spawns from the orb. It really is string, too, it looks like something you’d make clothing from. You sprint for Saren, who watches, amused, as the strings tap Shadow after Shadow and freeze them.

You can’t dodge forever. You snatch the dagger from your back and throw it, drawing on every scrap of your training.

Saren curses and shuffles aside, hissing in pain as he stubs his toe on a piece of his house’s wall. The knife skips off a shield, clattering to the ground. The handle starts melting.

Still, even as the string moves towards you, you know you bought an instant. At the last moment, you gather your legs under you and leap, as high as you can. The string touches you, you freeze mid-air, and you fall painfully to the ground.

“Really? I have a magic fire attack that can melt flesh and you close for melee?” he asks disdainfully. The only sound you hear behind you is Ardraebel’s wings flapping. The Shadows failed.

Roll 1d100. No modifier. I will take the first TWO results as independent event rolls.
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Rolled 88 (1d100)

Rolled 66 (1d100)


You feel genuine horror well up inside you as Ardraebel’s shadow looms over you.


Then a new voice speaks up.

“FOR CENDER!” You can’t see it, but you know the voice. It’s one of the two Shadows you left guarding the horses. They’re on horseback now, and they’re charging.


Saren’s head whips up. “Ugh. More?” he asks coldly. He raises the Immobilizer again. “Fine.” Little threads zip out and touch the charging riders. One of them gets touched somewhere on the body, and crashes to the ground as the horse runs out from under him. He manages to roll once before another thread finds him. The other one actually gets tossed from the horse as the beast is touched and collapses, but manages to fire a bolt of sizzling energy from his hand at Saren first.


The old mage looks dispassionately as it splatters harmlessly against the shield. A few threads vanish, but he immediately sends out more to capture you all. He shakes his head. You didn’t even manage to rise.

“Pathetic. Really. The crème of the entire Cenderian military? This is what you manage?”

He sighs and turns away. “Ah well. You’ve denied me luxury, such as I had managed to retain. Let’s go get a few more examples of how well that Infiltrator armor absorbs blood.”

The entire little yard fills with sparks. Saren turns back. “What? What was-”


Saren gapes as Ardraebel suddenly lurches from the ground. He does not have a torc on his neck. “What? How did you do that?”


The huge soul-herd raises its ghastly claws and swipes. Saren’s shield shorts as he scurries back into the house. The ancient divine being’s hands nick a few threads, and you fall on your mask. You scramble up, and look over your shoulder to see Dervich sink to his knees, shaking with relief. He had been behind Adraebel when Saren sent out the strings. The old mage didn’t see him… and Dervich has a spear, too.

Saren raises the Immobilizer, but you’ve had enough. You raise your spear and hurl it as hard as you can. The armor-piercing tip skips off of the shield, and it starts melting too, but it’s enough. His attention is pulled away for just long enough for Ardraebel to land on the side of the house.


He reaches down and simply grabs the ancient mage’s shield bubble, ignoring the searing wounds the fire shield causes to his hands. Saren shrieks and tries to shoot the huge soul-herd with his black fire, but Ardraebel’s skin just diverts it.


He squeezes. The bubble cracks. Saren shoots him with the Immobilizer, but nothing happens.


Ardraebel’s voice is almost gloating as the shield breaks. Saren screams as the huge creature’s cracked, scarred skin touches his.


The dragon-man soul-herd cocks an arm and simply throws the old elf like a ball. Saren soars into a huge maple tree at the edge of the yard and breaks in half around its mighty trunk.

>Demand an immediate update from Asa
>Go see to the King
>>Go see to the King
>>Go see to the King
>>Go see to the King
Ardraebel laughs as the remains of his tormentor slough onto the ground.


He turns to face you.


“Thank you, venerable soul-herd,” you say, rising to your feet again.

Your Gem warms.

[Sister! Oh, sister, you did it! I have absorbed Saren’s soul!]

{Good!} you reply as you thunder through the house. {The King! Does he live?}

[He does! He does. He’s missing a finger, but he’s fine. One of the Infiltrators is dead, but the others are alive, and the hostages are in the basement. Go, free them. Be careful. The stairs down are mined.]

You inflate your lungs and bellow. “THE STAIRS TO THE BASEMENT ARE HOT! DISARM THEM!”

A Shadow outside acknowledges you as Dervich falls in at your back. You burst into the mud room and skid to a halt.

It’s an abattoir. One Infiltrator is in pieces. The King is beside her, shutting her eyes, as the others fan out and secure the room. He looks up, blood and tears on his regal face. “We failed,” he says hollowly.

“We didn’t,” you insist. “That voice you heard was his enthralled soul-herd. Long story. Saren is dead. The hostages are alive.”

He looks back down at the woman in his arms. “Then why does it feel like we lost?”

“Because you’re a good man,” you tell him, squeezing his shoulder. You step back and wince as your own shield re-engages. “Hmph.” You pull the mask and helmet off and sling them at your hip. “Look, we have wounded. Fan out and secure the place.”

Vier’s Avatar steps into view. “Allow me,” she says softly. She rests her hand on the King’s shoulder for a moment, before crouching before him and meeting his eyes. “Well done, King,” she says. “Now, please. Go and see to your family while the professionals clean up.”

He stares at her at length, before nodding. “Yes, Lady Vier.”

Vier looks up at you. “Haret is with the hostages. Asa is outside. Ardraebel’s survival is… unexpected. There’s no place for him now.”

“We’ll deal with that when the time comes,” you say heavily.

[Temporary end of thread]
Now that I seem to have people, let’s see if we can’t go three for three!
Just in time!
Haret emerges from the basement stairs with a gaggle of frightened servantry in tow. “The hostages, your Highness,” he says smoothly. “All are recovered. The traps are disarmed.”

Maas struggles to his feet. “Yes… good.”

As Haret leads them out, the Infiltrators fan out in the house, cataloging everything that looks like it could have been Saren’s weapons. You tap the Gem.

{Asa, do you have a list of all of Saren’s weapons?}

[I do. He never thought we’d get to him. He didn’t hide them. They’re in a lockbox on the second floor. Be careful. The lock is wired with an Excruciator trap. The key to the lockbox is on his nightstand.]

{I’ll tell the Infiltrators.} You look up at a passing Shadow. “Hey. The weapons cache is on the second floor, but the lockbox is wired. Be cautious. You can find the key next to his bed.”

The elite soldier salutes. “Aye, ma’am. We’ll find it.”

Outside, the scene is utterly surreal. Ardraebel is kneeling at the edge of the treeline, and Asa is speaking to him. “Noble soul-herd, I do not understand,” she says sadly. “Do you not wish for your freedom?”


The huge soul-herd slowly shakes its head.

>step in (and say what?)
>let Asa deal with this
>let Asa deal with this
Your heart aches for the venerable soul-herd, but Asa’s the one with jurisdiction here.

“The Dragon-men had the wisdom to ensure your folk had minds of their own, Ardraebel,” she says. “Is there no way I can convince you to aid us?”

He pauses for a moment.


“We wish to enter the Temple in Skyborn and destroy the demon corpse there. We must.” Asa raises a hand. “The Orb of the Feathered Demon is powered by that corpse. What other horrors may be?”


The huge soul-herd looks over at you with its horrifying purple eyes. Little streamers of light spill from the sockets. They’re the same eyes the Shamblers had. Maybe only they could see the damned in the various hells? Who knows?


“I am.”


You bow your head. “Thank you.”

His gaze returns to Asa.


Asa lets out a long, ragged sigh. “I can truly not convince you?”


She bows her head. “Oh… very well. Elsa?”

You hesitantly walk up. “Yes?”

“Use your Harvesting ability on him. He has lowered his defense.”

Ardraebel kneels and extends one hand.

File: Elsa-Level-mundane.gif (172 KB, 3300x2550)
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172 KB GIF

An arc of light jumps from him to you. You recoil, but it doesn’t hurt… in fact, it feels quite familiar.
New Secret Ability unlocked!

Draconic Knowledge: Elsa gains an intuitive understanding of all Dragon-man puzzles and psychological tests. This includes the activation rituals for their weapons.

“Elsa?” Asa asks, concerned.

“I… I’m fine,” you murmur, as new knowledge rushes into your mind. There’s a lot of it. “Wow. He… he gave me information.”


You look up at Ardraebel, touched. “Thank you, venerable one.”


He extends his claw until it nearly touches you.


You hesitantly touch one claw. It burns to the touch, but you focus.

In an instant, he vanishes, with nary a word. The rush of air nearly bowls you over, but Asa’s Avatar disappears.

[OH! Wow, that was… incredibly disorienting,] she says in your mind. [I removed my Avatar before you could see what happened.]

You steady yourself. {Are you alright?}

[Yes… I have divided the power and knowledge he gave me among the other two, fair is fair.] Her voice pauses. [He… knew much. The extent of his imprisonment, his torture… I would have sent Saren to hell, too.]

>Anything that can help us?
>Are there more like him left?
>Where’s that armor?
>>Where’s that armor?
>>Anything that can help us?
>>Are there more like him left?

The order of questions
{What about that armor?} you ask.

[Upstairs. It’s in the lockbox with everything else.]

{Okay. Wow, that was generous of him.}

[Ardraebel, or Saren?} she asks drily. {Yes. It’s Dragon-man Crusader armor. I can make it work. You can too, I suspect.]

You start into the house. {Think there’s more like him?}

[It’s horrible, but I think there may be. We’ll just have to see.]

{Did he have any other useful knowledge?}

[Very little. He did know a thing or two about Harpy magic that could come in handy. I’ll share it with the others and make it available to you.] Her voice pauses. [Also, I have put the control back in place for your mind-control abilities. I’m proud that you didn’t use it against Saren. He would have deserved it, but if it hadn’t worked… I shudder to think of it. You can use the powers in the future, all the control does is let me know when you do.]

{Thanks. It felt creepy.}

You break the connection and walk upstairs, where a group of Infiltrators are gingerly opening the huge box you saw in the woods, over a month ago. “And… open,” one says, and the others sigh in relief. “Hmph. Wasn’t even armed. Old fuck must have liked to look in here.” The Infiltrator looks up and salutes as you walk into the lavish bedroom. “Your Eminence! Look!”

He turns the crate so you can see it, and you whistle in surprise.

The inside looks like a Brotherhood Master’s private stash. There are entire stacks of weapons, items, glittering glass phials, paper scrolls. It’s a whole arsenal.

“Amazing!” you breathe. “What are the little tags?”

The Infiltrator very carefully lifts a scroll and looks at the tiny, obviously newer tag dangling from a piece of string around the ancient paper. “They’re identification guides, ma’am, with a guess as to who made the item and what it does. This one is called… a scroll of Fate Guidance. Apparently it blinds the user, but gives them psionic powers, like the ancient Crawlers had.”

“Wow.” You crouch before the box as the Infiltrator puts the scroll away. “Okay.”

You crouch there for nearly fifteen minutes, reading and recording each item’s identification. Partway through, a Shadow arrives with the Immobilizer and the Black Flame scroll, and silently deposits them into the box.

[No Orb,] Asa says in relief at the end of your reading. [I knew the contents of that box already, since Saren knew, but I’ve told the others now. Give that list you made to the King, but beware. I’m going to order you to destroy nearly all of that. It’s either God-killing or on the Verboten or Proscribed lists. Almost all. The rest is yours to keep.]

{Wow. That’s… amazing.} You feel a chill as you look over the piles and piles of horrible weapons and magical tools. {I won’t need some of it.}

[Sell it to the Brotherhood.] She pauses again. [Elsa. Do you see a tiny canvas bag at the bottom?]

You peer in. {Yes. No tag.}

[Take it out behind the manor and open it. Please.]

>{I should destroy the bad stuff first.}
>{Wait, what about that armor?}
Im sure nothing will be stolen... i hope
lock it
take the key

I get the impression this is more urgent
{Yes, Sister.} You quickly grab the bag and slip it into a pocket. “I need to take these to be destroyed. Lock this up, sir,” you tell the Infiltrator.

“Aye.” He seals the crate again and passes you the key. “We’ll keep an eye on it.”

Outside, the mercenaries are receiving their payment and making their escape as you emerge. You walk out behind the house with the bag, looking around. Asa’s Avatar appears before you and nods a greeting. “Alright. Do you have it?”

You lift the bag as proof.

“Ah. Please empty it on the ground. Gently.”

The Avatars of the other two demigods join you as you do so. As the contents spill out, though, you feel your heart seize up.

“By the roiling seas of Chaos,” Vier breathes, her eyes glittering. “They’re real.” Haret just sighs.

The bag contains seven little chips of glass. They’re identical to the one that contained Ardraebel.

“Seven more,” Asa whispers. “Seven. None of them Dragon-men. Look. They’re color-coded. The Dragon-man soul-herd was red. These are black, green, yellow, blue, silver, orange, and purple.”

“As much as I’d like to assume what each color means, I don’t know off the top of my head,” Haret says. “I never visited the hells of the other races besides my own.”

>If you think you know which color is which, feel free to guess, and make me a 1d100+13 roll for Memory. If you remember from earlier in the quest, post it.
File: pantheon.png (18 KB, 263x588)
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By the way.
As a side note, the Gods themselves were less tightly bound to a gender dimorphism than the demigods, as a general rule. Vill could appear as a female or a male, as could Casteor. Mai'te and Garm were more close adherents to the idea of visual consistency than others. Vill is referred to as both sexes and by the neutral Master in flashbacks in this quest, for example. That image just establishes their stated preference, not a hard-and-fast rule.
Rolled 20 + 13 (1d100 + 13)

Shouldn't Saren know what they mean?
“Didn’t Saren know?” you ask.

Asa shakes her head. Her dark brown curls scatter the afternoon light. “No. He had guesses, and his guess about the Dragon-man was right, but that’s all he had. All I know is that they were all summoned using the Spireling conjuration magic, and they should all have the torcs on them.”

You flip one over, looking for markings. “What did he assume these were?”

“He assumed the black one was praun, the red was Dragon-man, the green was Goblin, and the blue was Cepro. I sort of doubt that it’s actually Cepro. I think it’s Dommen.”

“We can’t leave them unbroken,” Vier opines. “We can’t risk them being friendly, but trapped.”

Haret clasps his hands. “Or worse. What if one of them corresponds to one of our races? Odds are high.”

“Whomever breaks them controls the being inside,” Vier says.

>Break them carefully, one at a time
>Have somebody break them over the ocean
>Break them carefully, one at a time
You draw a long, steadying breath. “Be ready for any thing,” you urge your divine friends.

Haret spreads his arms. Vier draws her ritual blade. Asa simply nods.

You gingerly break the green chip. At once, black mist swirls out of the crack. A surge of angry thoughts erupt in your mind, and you stagger back. The mist coaslesces into a goblin specter, which promptly turns on you and bellows something incoherent.

Vier scoffs. “Bah. Worthless ghost,” she says, ramming her sword up to the hilt in its chest. It shrieks and vanishes. All three demigods flinch as Vier absorbs it and shares its power and knowledge with the other two.

“That was green,” you say. The angry thoughts vanish all at once. Maybe the goblin’s mind was so damaded that it fed back through the torc? You reach down and grab the orange one. “Here’s orange.”

You crack that glass and step back. No angry throughts this time, just a serene feeling. The black mist coalesces into a coiled snake, as large as a cow, which appears to be fast asleep.

“Hmm. A Cepro afterlife entity,” Asa observes. “A Guard of the Path.”

“Do we have to kill it?” you ask nervously. It’s shockingly large.

“No. It’s just an animal. The Cepro Guard were simple beasts, given divine instruction. It’s not immortal.” Asa touches its huge head, and it awakens, blinking once. She releases the torc, and it slithers off into the woods. “I don’t even know why they put a torc on it. They can’t be mind-controlled. None of those left in the world, so it can’t breed.”

She looks back at you. “Try the purple one. I bet it will be a Crawler.”

Obliging her suggestion, you reach down and crack the purple chip. This time, the black mist seems to surge and ripple, and though you hear a faint scream of anguish, nothing happens. The mist disappears.

Haret sighs. “It lost cohesion. Those needed their Gods to act as focusing implements.” He waves his hand through the spot from which you heard the scream, and the others flinch again. “Not even a scrap of useful knowledge,” he mutters. “Waste of time.”

“Try the black one,” Vier suggests. You crack it and step back.

Just in time. A wave of black mist erupts from the chip, blasting you clean off your feet. Vier reacts instantly, catching you and stepping back. Asa projects a wall of energy, shielding you and Vier, while Haret raises both hands, crackling bolts of energy arcing to the ground. “Beware! This one is huge!” he bellows.

The mist coalesces into a six-legged creature, almost as large as the house. It spins on its heel, and stares down at you with horrible purple eyes, just like Ardraebel and the Shamblers.


Its roars are bestial. At once, Vier releases you, stepping between you and the creature. “Stand down, Watcher!” she cries.

You can’t move. The beast’s eyes pierce right through you, skewering you with its raw hate. The beast’s flesh is glittering purple and black, with pulsing bands of living crystal that interlock and split in a random grid over its body. Thick pads of crystal cover the rest of its body, shimmering with divine light.


It grabs the torc and pulls it free.


You try to move, but it’s a waste of time. With a single strike, Vier darts in and smites it.

It vanishes with a horrible wail, and all three demigods breathe a sigh of relief.

“A Spireling Watcher of the Gorge,” Asa says. “The only other sentient hell-guard, and one of the few that isn’t immortal. Nothing else will give us that much trouble.”

“Do I have to keep doing this?” you ask in a small voice.

Asa claps a hand on your shoulder as the other two resume their positions. “Almost done, Sister,” she says encouragingly. “Just yellow and silver.”

You sigh. “Fine.” You crack the yellow chip.

It spews mist, but not as much as the last one. What emerges is a tiny creature, barely the size of a housecat. It looks vaguely feline, too, but it doesn’t sound like one. It’s screaming, and it sounds human.

You steady yourself. “Stop screaming!” you bellow, in your best Sergeant’s tone.

It does, but it still stares at you, eyes shaking. “No! Father Sinerr is dead! I felt it!”

>Try to reason with it
>Ask it what it is
>Try to reason with it

Can... can we keep it
If you'd like to try to reason with an enraged, terrified Felis demon, you can try to keep it. Is that the angle you want me to take?
Dunno where everybody is, but I'm running out of time tonight, so I'm just going to forge ahead and assume that was an instruction.
“The Gods fell three thousand years ago, little demon,” Asa says. “All are dead.”

The demon falls to its side and starts heaving sobs. “No… no! Father, no…” it wails. “I felt… I felt… no….”

You hesitantly step forward. “Do… do you have a name, demon?”

Asa reaches out for you, but the creature lashes out at you, knocking you back a pace. “Leave me, mortal!” it howls. “Father is dead!”

“Don’t bother, Elsa,” Vier says quietly. “Its mind is anchored to the Pantheon.”

“Can we keep it alive?” you ask. “Ask it questions?”

Asa shakes her head, regret etched on her youthful features. “I wish we could, sister,” she murmurs. “But no. It’s simply not sane. Without a God or demigod to anchor it, it will never leave this state.”

You look down at the pitiful creature. “Are you sure?”

“Completely,” Vier sighs. “Look away if you wish.”

You quickly avert your eyes. Vier steps forward. The weeping stops. When you look back, there’s nothing there, and all three demigods wince again.

This time, though, it’s far more pronounced. Asa staggers back, clutching her head. Then she vanishes; the human ones stagger too, and both flicker, frozen in their poses.

You spin around. “Asa! Haret! Vier? What happened?”

After a moment, Vier’s Avatar resumes its pose. It looks quite winded, which means that her true form is probably shaking in the Geode. “Okay, that was strange,” she manages. “It was… a surge of power, like I’ve never felt before!”

Asa’s Avatar reappears. Her eyes are already wide. “Wow. I… who knew demons were so powerful? I think my power stepped up by a significant degree there!”

“Yours!” Haret says, sounding shell-shocked. “You, who were already more powerful than us combined!”

“Yes,” Asa says, slowly running her projected Avatar’s hands together. “This is… heady.” She shoots you a grim smile. “You may be getting some interesting new abilities, soon.”

“Indeed,” Vier says, looking at herself. Her appearance is the same to you. You wonder what she’s seeing.

“So just silver?” you ask.

“And blue, sorry,” Asa says.

“Fine.” You break the blue one.

The mist emerges and coalesces, as before, into a… shrieking baby, which instantly vanishes.

Everybody stares. “Uh, what was that?” you ask.

“A dwarf infant,” Asa says. “It died because its God and demigods no longer existed.

“A shame,” Haret says, waving his hand through the spot. The others barely flinch. “Ah well. Just one more, now.”

You crack the silver glass, and before the mist can even emerge, Asa gasps. “Mai’te’s tears!”

When the mist coalesces, Haret and Vier both slowly look over at Asa, eyes wide. Asa takes a trembling step forward. “… Brother?” she asks weakly.

Standing where the mist had been was an elf. Not a real elf, by the look of it. From what Jerome had said about your demon form, this was probably not mortal at all. It’s a demon, a male one.

He sinks to his knees, clutching his head. “Oh… oh, no, no, mother,” he wails. His ragged black hair drops down to his shoulders, and he’s not wearing anything save a pendant and a sword belt. The scabbard is empty. “No… Ghalad…” He suddenly looks up, and you recoil. His eyes are solid gold orbs. “Asa?”

“Kerin!” Asa exclaims, dropping to her knees to wrap him in a fierce embrace. “Kerin, we thought you died with mother!”

“…Asa?” he asks feebly.

So you just awoke an elf demon, and he’s bound to your will by the torc.

Now what?

>Let them have a reunion
>Start asking questions (what?)
>Pull the other Avatars aside and ask what the hell just happened

I dine now. I'll be back soon.
>>Let them have a reunion
“Kerin… oh, brother, I’m so…” Asa squeaks, before she just collapses, her Avatar draping its arms over his shoulders and weeping. “I…”

He just sits there looking bewildered as you avert your eyes. “Sister… what happened? Where am I?” The demon slowly disentangles itself from his weeping sister and holds her at arm’s length. His skin is so pale it looks like snow, and between that effect and his night-black hair, the golden eyes, and his lack of clothes, it looks like he fell from a nightmare. He’s worn to the bone, without a scrap of meat on him. “Where… where’s mother? Where’s Ghalad?”

“They… they died, brother,” Asa manages, wiping her eyes. “They all died. All the Gods. All the demigods but our friends,” she says, gesturing at Haret and Vier, where they sit silent, watching. “All the demons but you.”

His jaw drops. “What?”

“There was a war, brother, you remember that?” she asks, sniffling.

“I do… and…” he closes his unnerving golden eyes and focuses. “He… they were… damn it. All I remember of my last few days of freedom is a battle being fought nearby, and I couldn’t help. I saw the sun rise one day, and I saw a man approach… a little Dommen wizard. I hailed him, he threw something at me… I felt a terrible pain, and then just the cold of my glass prison. I saw nothing… I felt the prayers that sustained me fade and fade… then I felt Mother die, and Ghalad a bit before her… then nothing. Three thousand years alone.”

“You were conscious?” Vier asks in a tremulous voice. “That whole time?”

“I was,” he says automatically, before realizing who spoke. “Wait, what? Vier? And… Haret?” he asks, staring from one to the other. “Why are you here? And where am I? Why am I not in my shrine?” he asks.

“I think you can be moved from your home, brother, inside those chips,” Asa says, pointing at the fragments of glass. “Can you move freely now?”

He slowly tries to stand and immediately falls. “Gah! No, no… I’m too weak.” He pulls himself up into a sitting position. “I feel pulled towards my home… we’re not far, I sense.”

“Very close, brother, just a few miles,” Asa says. She looks up at you. “You have your new sister to thank for your freedom.”

“I do?” he asks. He looks up at you, and you meet his eyes. Oddly, when he’s actually looking at you, the gold orbs aren’t disconcerting. “Er, hello.”

“Hello,” you say, bowing slightly.

His eyes widen. “A Herald?”

“The last elf Herald,” you tell him. “My name is Elsa Ledren.”

“Then you have my thanks,” he says. “I… I sensed some terrible violence of late, near me. I felt many souls snuff out.”

“My comrades,” you say quietly. “The elf mage who had your prison used an Orb of the Feathered Demon on a local military. I barely escaped the site. Then we found the mage, killed him, and started opening the prison chips.”

His face brightens. “Then you have my thanks twice over, sister, for I wouldn’t wish that on anybody,” he tells you. He tilts his head. “Your brand… it’s fresh. Are you new to your role?”

“A few months,” you say awkwardly. “Not even that.”

Asa helps her brother up. “Brother, here,” she says, and a blanket materializes in her hands. “Saren won’t need it.”

“Who’s Saren?” Kerin asks, befuddled.

“Your captor for the last thirty eight years,” Vier says. “Sister, you have things in hand here. Shall I depart, and leave this elf reunion to the elves?”

“Wait!” Asa says. “We need to decide what to do now?”

Haret cocks his head. “Where do we start?”

“My brother! The whole world thinks prayer is useless now, and here’s a demon who can hear prayer when even we cannot!” Asa says, throwing an arm around her brother’s shoulders.

He coughs once. “Er, only within fifty meters of me,” he reminds her. “I’m as deaf as a post beyond that.”

“Still!” Asa says urgently.

>Your role here is done. Go help the King and let them debate
>Stay here and chip in with the mortal perspective when needed
>>Stay here and chip in with the mortal perspective when needed
You feel compelled to stay and assist your sister, and newfound brother, with this conundrum. “Asa?” you speak up meekly. “May I suggest something?”

Everybody looks at you. “What is it?” she asks.

You slowly clap your hands together at your waist. “Maybe we should move Kerin to his home shrine before we decide whether he has a political or cultural role to play?” you offer.

Kerin nods eagerly. It’s almost sad. “Oh, please do,” he begs. “I feel like half a man here.”

Abruptly, an Infiltrator comes around the corner. “Herald! Your Ladyships, Lordship, a group of ten mounted… infantry with… what?” he asks as his eyes catch up with his head.

“Well, that solves that problem,” Haret says irritably. “Infiltrator, if you have a message, deliver it.”

The soldier stares at Kerin with undisguised shock before slowly turning to you. “Er, Herald, there’s a group of… ten riders with heavy blades and shields riding hard up the access road,” he says. “My scout spotted them. They’ve subdued and captured the mercenary team we brought with us, using tear gas grenades. They’re on the way.”

“Are they in uniform?” you ask.

“Yes. They’re in Army uniforms, with red armbands,” the Infiltrator says. “They’re rebels.”

>”This far north? That’s impossible!”
>”Alert the King! Hurry!”
>”How did they get past the Brothers Culler has guarding the roads?”
>>”Alert the King! Hurry!”

Maybe they're here to try to steal super weapons. Although it's odd that they captured the mercenaries instead of killing them.

Whatever their intentions, we should be cautious.
Get that dragon armor from the lockbox
Be ready to use the sleep ability on the rebels
>>”Alert the King! Hurry!”
“Alert the King! Move!” you snap. “And tell him nothing of our… discovery,” you add as an afterthought.

The Infiltrator looks pained for a moment, but nods. “Yes, ma’am.”

You spin on your heel. “Sorry, brothers and sisters, but I have to depart. I need to get that Dragon-man armor and see if it works.”

Kerin starts to say something, but Asa shushes him. “No, brother, care not for their politics,” she murmurs. “The old bonds of racial allegiance are gone.” She looks up at you. “Go. The Dragon-man armor requires you to think the part of your body to which you apply it before you do so.”

“Thanks!” You take off at a run for the bedroom, barreling in the back door of the house and flying up the stairs. The Infiltrators and Shadows inside are huddled around, talking quietly, when you cannon into the room.

“No time to talk, guys, there’s rebels on the road! Go to the King, now!” you shout. “Move, move!”

The soldiers, to their credit, haul for the door, and you leap aside to keep from being trampled. As soon as their gone, you unlock the chest and rifle through the contents, searching for the armor. “Come on, come on… ah!”

You extract an odd lump of metal from the back of the box, with a neat little paper tag hanging from it. It reads ‘wing guards.’

“Useless!” you declare, dropping it aside. “Need something that’ll fit my body… here we go.” You draw another chunk, and this one is labeled ‘gorget – scalar form.’

You slap it against your neck and speak the word ‘gorget’ in your mind, and the metal springs from your hands, attaching itself to the metal plates and super-thin armored layers of the jacket of your armor. It flows up to partially cover your face, but there’s a good six inches between your lips and the metal – this is to prevent shrapnel from kicking off your chest plate and putting your eye out. You slap your mask and helmet on and cinch them, then grab your weapons and seal the chest.

Below, the Shadows and Infiltrators are fanning out in the woods on either side of the road and fading from sight. Dervich and the King are crouched in the remains of the sun room, behind columns. “Elsa! What are you wearing?” Dervich demands. “Why is it bright orange?”

“Forget it! Brief me!” you hiss, dropping behind an upturned couch.

“It’s the scout force that got past Culler’s men on the roads,” the King grunts disgustedly. “I’d stake my soul on it. I hope you found something useful in there.”

Dervich coughs. “Uh, I did.”

“You did?” you ask, staring.

He pulls the a scrap of paper from his pocket. “The Shadow that stripped Saren of his gear missed this,” he says. “It’s a Wave of Earth spell. Causes everything in front of you for thirty meters to start shaking like it’s in an earthquake. Or you could just go charge out there and use the sleep spell you have – the enemy doesn’t know you by your uniform, I bet.”

>”The King’s a mage – let him use it!”
>”No. We just get them in a crossfire from the trees.”
>”No, I want one alive. Only use it to topple their horses.”
>”Yeah, I’ll go parley and put them to sleep. That’s not unethical at all.”
>”Sleep spell it is.”
>>”No, I want one alive. Only use it to topple their horses.”
“Topple the horses. Try not to actually kill anybody with it,” you say. “If they start to spread out, take out as many as you can and then let the Shadows handle the rest.”

“Some of the Shadows had repeater crossbows we bought from Strevain,” the King says grimly. “This’ll solve some problems.”

“Quite.” You gingerly raise one eye slit above the couch and see the first horses round the bend. Their leader raises a hand and slows the convoy, clearly sensing something amiss, thanks to the giant crater and pile of corpses.

You strain your ears, but you can’t hear anything. They’re too far away to eavesdrop on you, and vice versa.

The convoy leader dismounts, just out of range of the spell, and walks closer on foot. When he’s about thirty feet from the front of the house, he cups his hands and shouts. “HEY! MASTER SAREN! WHERE ARE YOU? WHAT HAPPENED HERE?”

>Order the Shadows to open fire
>Use the scroll on him
>Walk out and use the spell on him before you do anything else
>Try to put him to sleep by walking up close
>>Order the Shadows to open fire
Oh, for fuck’s sake. “OPEN FIRE! LEAVE ONE STANDING!” you scream, as loud as you can.

In an instant, a hailstorm of energy and missiles reduces the rebels on the road to hash, while an Infiltrator in stealthed armor drops from the roof in that miraculous gear, rolls once, and simply punches the rider in the stomach as he turns back to gape as his men disintegrates. The rider topples from the force of the blow, and the Infiltrator slaps something wet across his face. The man stops struggling in moments.

You turn to glare at the King. “Your personal bodyguards don’t just have a branch called ‘Infiltrators,’ but they carry chloroform?”

He shrugs. “Infiltrators sounds better than ‘Royal Assassins.’” He shoots a cool stare at you. “Is that a problem? Herald?”

You glare a bit longer before breaking it away. “It’s just… whatever. Let’s secure this guy.”

“And get the hostages to safety,” Dervich adds. “Poor bastards have had enough.”

“All Saren’s guards are dead,” the King puts in as he rises to his feet. “What was all that screaming I heard out back?”

>Page Asa to get the story first
>Just tell him
>Direct Dervich to go find out
>>Page Asa to get the story first
>>Page Asa to get the story first

yeah let's see how much we're cleared to tell.
“Let’s see.” You tap the Gem. {The King wants to know what’s happening back there.}


You leap about a handspan. The King cocks an eyebrow. {Who… Kerin?}

~Sister Elsa? Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.~

{I had no idea demons could talk through the Gems!}

His tone is perplexed. ~We live in fountains and marble crypts miles from civilization, sister, how else could we stay in touch?~

[Elsa, it’s alright, he’s supposed to be able to do that. What do you need?]

{I need to know what to tell the King! He’s asking what all the screaming was!}

~I don’t mean to be trouble.~

[Hush, brother, you’re not trouble. Elsa, tell him the truth. But demand privacy. Kerin is at a meager fraction of his power.]


[You are.]

You pull your finger away. “The bag I found in the chest upstairs contained some more glass prison chips, like the one who held that noble soul-herd.”

His eyes bug out. “That WHAT?”

“Oh.” He was in the back the whole time. “Uh, Saren had glass chips that had ancient beasts and people and divine entities in them. He unleashed a soul-herd from Dragon-man hell, and after we freed it, it killed Saren for us.”

He stares, horrified. “A hell-dweller? Free on Tarsh?”

“We were lucky, sire,” Dervich says quietly. “He was wise. He resisted Saren, and killed him for us.”

“I had to kill him, at his own request,” you finish.

Maas takes a deep breath. “And there were more in the chest?”

“Seven, but only a few had as much power as him,” you say. “A ghost, a snake, a dead infant, an insane Felis demon, a Spireling Watcher which Vier had to slay, a Crawler being who died at once… and a living elf demon.”

It’s all too much for the King. Evfen Dervich looks shocked. “A demon?” Maas asks, staggering back. “A living, sane demon?”

“Yes. Kerin is his name.” You lean in close. “He’s weak. Very weak. Please let him find privacy in Cender, yes?”

“But… a living demon?” Maas asks faintly. “I thought they all died.”

“They did, with the shock of Mai’te’s death. This one was imprisoned in a Spireling divine prison chip, cast by a Dommen wizard,” you tell him. “Tell nobody. Please?”

“Y-yes, yes,” Maas says. He’s visibly trembling. “I… when may I speak to him?”

You start to get a sense of how huge this is to Maas. Even when you blew up three of his people, he wasn’t this emotional.

>”Go see him now. Be gentle.”
>”Let Asa decide that. Start packing up to go.”
Let's check with Asa/Kerin via the gem to see when he'd be up for it.
“I’ll ask.” You tap the Gem. {Brother, the King of the local land wishes to speak with you when you’re able. When will that be?}

Asa and Kerin’s replies come at once. [Days at least.] ~Figure an hour?~

Silence for an instant.


[No, brother, I’m sorry,] Asa says firmly. [You are in no shape to be speaking to anybody! You’re clinging to life by a thread! Maybe a mortal can’t tell, but it’s obvious to me! We need you strong again!]

“Uh, it’ll be a while,” you admit. “He’s not in the best condition.”

Maas sags. “I see. Then… let us strip this place barren and be gone.”

“Right.” You look up at the chest in the bedroom above. What an undertaking that will be…


Progress: A
Combat: A
Improv: C-

Jesus tittyflipping CHRIST, what a thread! I thought for sure you’d go for Kotrick first, hence the name of the chapter, but you didn’t, and you aced it! That was about as good as it could have gone. You mended bridges with Arisa and Jerome, you got the King back in your good graces, you recruited A LITERAL DEMON, and even managed to take Saren’s arsenal intact! Nicely done all around!

Combat was perfect. You got through all those sparring matches in the barracks, you beat the soul-herd, you took Saren, and you even didn’t take damage! Jerome will be happy.

No good writeins, to speak of, but no poor ones, either.

See you all Friday!
Sorry I couldn't improv better, I'm just glad things went as well as they did.
It's not a problem, nor unexpected. This is the chapter that needed a lot of knowledge of the lore to improv well, and there's a lot of lore. You didn't take any penalties like you could have otherwise.
bumping because people on the skype wanted to read

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