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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 killed Novai Saren, or more accurately, watched a powerful Dragon-man soul-herd do it for you. Now, you’re preparing for the last leg of your difficult journey.
All mechanics are based on a 1d100+modifier roll.
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The chest upstairs is safe to move, obviously, since Saren moved it through deserts and jungles for thirty eight years. You haul it down into the back yard and start gingerly removing items under the keen eyes of the demigods. Dervich is standing watch from the roof. Kerin is huddled under his blanket in the shade of a nearby tree, eyes shut.

You glance up at your ancient brother with worry as you finish laying out the chest’s contents. “Is he alright?”

“He’s meditating,” Asa tells you. “It’s what demons do instead of sleep. He needs to do it before he can be moved.”

Vier walks back from around the corner. “The King left you a spare horse for Kerin, like you asked,” she reports. “Did you finish unpacking?”

“Yeah.” It’s quite an array. “There’s a lot of stuff here… anything you want me to destroy?”

“I’ll handle this stuff myself,” Haret says, waving a hand. Fully four fifths of the artifacts vanish in an instant, along with over half the scrolls. “The rest is yours, Herald.”

You raise an eyebrow. “Far cry from the way you thought I could be treated before, sir.”

He scowls. “I was terrified before, Herald. Have I not proven my trust in you by binding my son Alan’s soul to yours? He is your bonded servant and scion, now, after two months on the job and a public use of excessive force.”

“Both of you put your dicks away,” Vier snaps. “Elsa, that was uncalled for.”

“I apologize,” you say. “I’m just coming down from the Immobilizer.”

“I understand,” Haret says. “My Avatar didn’t find it enjoyable any more than you did.”

Asa paws through the remaining artifacts. “Interesting. The key from my shrine isn’t here.”

“From the sword handle?” you ask. “Great. Who has it?”

“Forest’s servant sold it to Saren, who sold it to Kotrick,” Asa says. “Clever rat.”

You grab the other Dragon-man armor chunk and examine it. “This says ‘wing guards.’ I can’t use that.”

Asa takes it and sets it back in the box. “I bet the Brothers would buy it from you. This material is very valuable for building shields.”

“Shields? Like the kind on my arm, or the one on my helmet?” you ask.

Vier taps her arm. “The kind on your forearm, Elsa. It’s as close to fire-proof as it can be without enchantment. Pay the Brothers to melt it down and re-cast it with some enchantments on it, and you’ll have a Crusades-quality shield.”

“Excellent.” You spread the rest of the items out. “No more prison shards.”

“No, unfortunately,” Haret rumbles. “We can’t be certain there are no more in the world.”

Dervich shouts down from the rooftop. “Road is clear! The King dragged that prisoner off to the city!”

You rise and walk over to the ladder, starting up. Dervich watches, curious. When you’re close enough, you call up to him, much quieter than he had been. “Kerin is meditating, Al. Can you keep it down?”

Your Paladin looks at the demon and winces. “Sorry.”

“Anything good up there?” you ask.

“Some food. Few books. Bit of water. Ammo sack. Pack of cards. An umbrella. That’s it,” he says.


You slide down the ladder and walk back. “Okay. So. What do we have left?”

Asa passes you the manifest you had drawn up before, with all the missing items crossed off. “Here. There’s quite a bit, Sister.”

You glance over the list.

1. Dragon-man wing guard set – undeployed
2. Crawler poison injectors – empty
3. Phial of horrors – panic spell, single use
4. Scroll of exuberance – burns out target’s pleasure sense and kills them with euphoria, scorched
5. Orb of Somnety – Sleep curse, four uses left in the coil
6. Enchanted punch dagger – flesh-melting enchantment, damaged
7. Scroll of levitation – two uses left, five minutes of flight each
8. Immovable rod – magic spell depleted, rod inert
9. Scroll of earth wave – localized earthquake, AOE
10. Scroll of excoriants – creates a sandstorm that does not dispel for one year, roughly two kilometers in diameter, single-use
11. Scroll of envy – causes target to completely lose control of all desirous emotions, single-use
12. Cepro arm socket – heavily damaged
13. Scroll of enthrallment – allows eternal soul-binding, too damaged to cast
14. Scroll of torment – causes target to suffer nightmares every time they fall sleep while the sun is up, single-use
15. Scroll of idleness – stops a moving object instantly, single-use

“That’s… wow.” You look up at Asa. “There’s a lot of stuff on there I don’t want to ever see somebody use.”

“I agree.” Asa folds her hands at her belt buckle. “Sister, we destroyed only those items that were on the Verboten and Proscribed lists AND were fully usable. The punch dagger and Scroll of Enthrallment should be destroyed as well, but they are so damaged as to be useless. Shall I destroy them as well?”

>”If they’re harmless, we can give them to the Brotherhood as museum pieces. Or to Roland.”

Lets not risk anything.
As interesting as it would be to preserve them, temptation is cruel. “Please destroy them.”

“If you say so, Sister.”

Kerin stirs. “Mmm… better.” He slowly rises to his feet, clutching the blanket. “What did I miss?”

You walk over to him while the others inspect the artifacts. “Brother, easy,” you murmur, sliding an arm under his and supporting him. “Rest.”

He shakes his head. “I’m as good as I’m going to get without prayer or relocation to a shrine,” he manages.


“Demons can hear it, at range. The Gods could hear it anywhere.” He grips the tree trunk and slowly levers himself up. As he does, though, he looks you and the others over. “Hmm. What season is it?”

“Very early winter,” you tell him, releasing him.

“I wondered.” He looks down at himself. “Well, apparently, clothing is ‘in’ in this culture and era, though since I barely even have a body at this point, I can’t feel the cold enough to tell. If I’m going to be trailing behind you, I should wear something.”

“Besides the pendant?” you ask, eyeing the little gold token around his neck.

“A gift from a worshipper.”

>”I can go grab you some of Saren’s clothes.”
>”I bet Asa would like nothing more than to create some clothing for you.”
>”Why do you have a belt and empty scabbard?”

(choose any two answers)
>”I bet Asa would like nothing more than to create some clothing for you.”
>”Why do you have a belt and empty scabbard?”
“All you have to do is ask, and Asa would be happy to create some clothing for you,” you assure him.

He nods thankfully. “Good. I wouldn’t even know where to start… not that I can materialize as much as a thread outside my shrine,” he adds.

“And the belt and scabbard?”

He snorts. “I have no idea. They aren’t mine. I think they were swept into the chip with me when I was sucked in, from the offerings at my shrine, and I just put them on to have something to do in there.”

You hesitate for a moment as the enormity of his imprisonment starts to sink in. “What did you do in there besides that?”

The cheerful demon actually half-smiles. “I meditated. Constantly. I don’t have mortal needs, so there wasn’t much to drive me to madness. Just… endless boredom.”

Asa walks up beside the two of you as he says it. “I’m sorry, brother,” she says miserably. “I would have come for you if I’d known.”

“You couldn’t have known, so don’t worry,” he sighs. “Haret told me a bit about the last three thousand years, and how the old Harpy cities started falling. The Dragon-men ones too?”

“A few.”

“My chip was in one of the Harpy cities. I think the Dommen mage didn’t know what he really had,” Kerin says. “I think he bartered me to a Harpy alchemist, who died when their Pantheon did. Then, the chest we were in just tumbled to the ground when the city fell, and the elf mage who put these on us,” he says, tapping the golden torc, “just picked us up. By the way, sister,” he says, turning to you, “I know you have no ill intent towards me, but would you please take this off me?”

“Oh, of course,” you mutter, reaching for it. You concentrate, its magic bends to your will, and expands until you can lift if off his neck.

He lets out a sigh of relief. “Better. Thanks.”

“I’ve got it,” Asa says. She snaps her fingers, and it dissolves into sparks. “One more item on the Proscribed list to check off.”

>”Our brother would love it if you could craft him something to wear, sister.” (stay and talk a bit)
>”I should start packing up this crap and finish scouring the house.” (go get ready to leave)
>”I should start packing up this crap and finish scouring the house.” (go get ready to leave)
>”I should start packing up this crap and finish scouring the house.” (go get ready to leave)
“I’ll go start packing,” you tell them. You gingerly rest Kerin’s emaciated body on the moss and walk up to the house as Asa crouches next to him. You walk past where Haret and Alan are talking in low tones about how the divine communication works – you already know, so there’s no point in lingering. You walk into the wrecked manor and start searching for what you know to be there – Saren’s maps.

As you root through his possessions, looking for anything that would let you know what route he took to get here, you feel a strange sensation in your stomach. A demon. A real, living, friendly demon. An elf, no less! There hasn’t been a living one in over three thousand years! This changes everything, top to bottom. A divine player outside the Geode?

Asa was always struggling alone. How she has a Herald and a demon backing her. What will this do to the politics of the world? Esepcially the fact that both are Cenderian!

After worrying for a bit, though, military sense reasserts itself. You have to press on. You search the whole house over the course of the next few hours, joined by Vier and Alan after a bit.

When it’s all done, you have Saren’s mattress in the back of a cart, Karin on that, still in his blanket as Asa crafts him something more appropriate to wear, a pile of relics to salvage, and a few maps and encrypted documents which Asa assures you she can decript with Saren’s memories.

While Haret sends the mercenary team on their way – the rebels didn’t kill them, Asa assures you, because that would have alerted the Pantheon to their presence – and Vier destroys the artifacts you’ve found and decided not to keep, Haret hitches the surviving horses, and Sarens’ beasts as well, to the wagon.

>Do something before leaving (what?)
>To the city!

The second Haret there in the last paragraph should be Alan. Derp.
>To the city!

Demons have country allegiances?
His shrine is in Cender. He can sense its distance like a visible object.

When it was first created, it was unclaimed wilderness.
The wagon rolls down the road as the three Avatars vanish, leaving a ruined mansion and a few bloodstained patches of grass behind. You and Dervich ride in silence as the main highway comes into view. “Okay, brother, where next?” you ask.

“My… my shrine is that way,” he says, pointing off into the woods. “Close. Twenty miles, maybe?”

You and Dervich share a look of concern. That direction leads directly into a nearby ravine, not crossable by wagon. Beyond that is a forest that you know first-hand is stocked with magical beasts. It’s where you and your squad killed a Cursed Wolf when you were on a bandit hunt some years before. “Sorry, Brother, but we’re going to have to detour into the city first,” you tell him. “A direct route isn’t possible.”

He sighs. “Very well. I can meditate more, that will help.”

Dervich shifts on his seat as you turn onto the main road and make for the city walls. “Let me know if this is too uncomfortable,” you say over your shoulder to your passenger.

He manages a faint chuckle. “This is nothing. Speed up.”

“You got it.” You flick the reins, and the horses accelerate.

>Try to make conversation
>Let him rest
>Let Dervich take the reins and go sit in the back with him to try to heal him
>Let Dervich take the reins and go sit in the back with him to try to heal him
If our abilities can't do it we can always pray.
>Let him rest
You pass the reins to Alan after a while and go sit in the back. The demon throughtfully wraps the blanket around himself as you settle down next to him. You sling an arm around his shoulders and he manages a sickly smile. “Hello, Elsa.”

“Hi.” You shuck one glove and wrap your hand around one of his skeletal hands. “You’re still with us, Brother.”

“I know.” He closes his eyes and settles back on the mattress beside your head. “The sun feels so good… I can’t even express it.” Kerin looks up at you with his shimmering, metallic eyes. “So… should I know anything Haret hasn’t told me? I understand you’re a soldier.”

“Auxiliary,” you say automatically. “We support the Royal Legion. Knights and lesser nobles who want to fight professionally. I’m a Skirmish Sergeant by training.”

“Indeed.” He slowly shook his head. “There were no militaries when I was born. A few hunters, maybe.”

“Must have been nice,” you comment.

He shakes his head again. “Parts were. Others… I don’t miss being mortal much.” Kerin’s gold eyes open and he looks up at the clouds. “Mmm… we’re traveling in the rough direction of the shrine. Describe this place we’re detouring to, please, sister.”

>Just brief him
>Actually list some places there
>”I’m taking you to a priestess’ house.”
>”I’m taking you to the Royal castle.”
>”I’m taking you to my home.”
"I'm taking you to a priestess"
he needs them prayers
“I’m taking you to a priestess, brother Kerin,” you assure him. “You’ll be safe.”

He smiles faintly. “Good.” Then he looks puzzled. “Wait. Haret said that there aren’t any of the old congregations left.”

“There aren’t. Hers is technically unsanctioned. Permitted, but unsanctioned. They respect the old ways, and they’re firmly on my side in my campaign,” you explain to the demon.

He tilts his head to look at you. Interestingly, his hair is starting to look a bit less ragged. Maybe your proximity to the shrine is healing him. “Explain a bit of this campaign to me, sister.”

You launch into a lengthy explanation of the conspiracy that Kotrick and Saren hatched. Kerin pulls himself up against the side of the wagon and listens as you describe the battles, the network of allies you slowly pieced together, the terror and pain, the triumph and ever-expanding power.

When you’re done, the sun is low, the walls are in sight, and Kerin is spellbound. “Amazing,” he breathes. “The world has changed so much.” He suddenly smiles. “I wish I could see it.”

“Can’t you?”

He chuckles. “I can’t safely leave my shrine for more than half an hour, sister. I’ll be fine, though. As long as I have a chance to rest soon.”

You grip his hand again. “We’re almost to the city, Kerin. You’ll be able to rest in only a short while.”

“Good.” He settles back down on the mattress and looks up at your brand. “Hmm. Your brand is so fresh, yet you have so many powers. I’m impressed. You must either use them constantly in your campaign, or your natural attunement to the Gem must be incomparable.”

>”Asa’s unlocked some powers for me directly.” (explanatory)
>”Thanks, brother.” (dismissive)
>”With only one Herald in play, I have to use them a lot.” (modest)
>”Asa’s unlocked some powers for me directly.” (explanatory)
“No, you were right the first time.” You think back to all the times Asa’s just outright given you a new power. “She’s gifted me with many, many powers. She’d do it even more often if it were safer to do so.”

“I understand.” He gently grasps your hand. “You shoulder your burdens with grace, sister.”

“Thank you, Kerin.” It’s odd. You never had siblings, and in school, while you had friends, you never really had confidants. You feel like he’s both, already. It’s a horrid shame, you think with a quiet ache in your heart, that the demons are gone from the world. “So… you’re healing, I think,” you say as you pass under the city walls. The Guards wave Dervich in – they must have had orders from the King when he arrived.

Your new demonic brother smiles weakly. “I shouldn’t have a corporeal body at all. Not constantly. We would drift between the walls of reality and the afterlife, resting in heaven or hell for a time. Then, when somebody came to our shrines and offered up a prayer, perhaps a small gift, we would return to the flesh, accept or reject it, and offer them divine knowledge.” His eyes shift away from you, clearly remembering better times. “It was a very rewarding feeling.”

You try to keep his mind off of his decaying body. “What did you focus on?” you ask as you put a bit more strength into your words.

“I… I was a translator, in life,” he says. He coughs, looks afraid for a moment, then continues. “In my days, the last of the Heaven-born’s children had passed away, and the demigods had come to be, but were unsure, still exploring their power. The Heralds were too few, far too… too few.” He suddenly breaks off and coughs again. “I shouldn’t… even have a body right now,”he groans.

“Keep talking, man, keep talking,” you order him. You urge the horses a little more.

“The… the races. They had language, text… but they were all different. I was… a linguist, I suppose you’d say.” He winces and shifts a bit. “I was… it was my job to make sure… the meaning wasn’t lost between messages. I’d… use my discretion. ‘Is this saying worth preserving?’ ‘Is that supposed to be provocative?’” He moans. “If we stop… I can force myself to meditate for a moment… get my strength back a while longer.”

The wagon rolls to a stop. You leap out and run to the back. “Alright, brother, we’re paused,” you tell him, resting a hand on his shoulder.

Kerin closes his eyes, but keeps talking. “It… I don’t feel like I’m dying. Not again.”

“You died?” you ask, despite yourself.

He nods. “I was good at what I did… so when I died, Mai’te interrupted me in the Cage… she allowed me to ascend to demonhood. I became the demon of discretion.”

Kerin grips the edge of the wagon and forces himself upright. “I… was so afraid… but when it ended, and the strange feelings faded… I was reborn.” He opens his eyes and stares wistfully at the clouds overhead. “I felt so good… so strong. I could hear the others… speaking in my mind. Mai’te, Ghalad, Asa... my own brothers and sisters, all the Heralds and demons…”

His eyes slide shut. “Just a moment of rest, sister. That’s all I need.”

You sit beside him and loop an arm around his shoulders. “I’m here, brother. I’m here.”

After nearly half an hour of silent meditation, he re-opens his eyes. “Ah… much better,” he says. “We can go now.”

“Good.” You rise from the seat and tap Dervich on the shoulder. “Straight for Arisa’s, as fast as traffic allows.”

“Got it, boss.” He snaps the reins, and you take off.

Arisa’s home is fully repaired when you arrive. She’s just seeing a few guests out when you roll up. Thankfully, they don’t stop to talk to you.

The priestess smiles as you leap down. “Elsa! Good to see… goodness, what happened?” she asks, eyeing your damaged armor.

“We attacked a major conspirator, Priestess, and I’m afraid I need your help,” you say urgently. “Do you know any of the prayers they used to use at the demonic shrines?”

She blinks. “Why… yes, I know four or five of them, and I have many others in my library. What’s going on?”

You take a deep breath. “Alan, guard the wagon,” you call over your shoulder. “Priestess, I need you to remain totally and completely calm,” you say, staring straight into her eyes. “Alright?”

“Alright…” she says nervously.

“The conspirators had a demon captive.”

Arisa falls silent. She very slowly reaches up to cover her gaping mouth. “A living… demon?” she asks faintly.

“Calm, Priestess, calm,” you urge. “Does your manor have a guest room?”

“Several…” Her face pales as you walk over to the tailgate of the wagon and unhitch it. Kerin listlessly looks over to you.

The old human woman staggers back, nearly falling down cold from the shock. You reach over and grasp her arm so hard the skin under your grip turns white. “Arisa, pay attention now,” you snap, putting Sergeants’ steel in your tone. “Do you understand? He needs to stay here and rest.”

Arisa looks at the demon, who manages a faint, anemic grin at the odd tableau. “…I have… never been… so honored,” she finally squeaks. “Of course… I will do as you say, Elsa…”

>Keep an eye on the relics while Dervich gets Kerin inside
>Page Asa to let her know you arrived
>Keep an eye on the relics while Dervich gets Kerin inside
>Page Asa to let her know you arrived
You clamber up into the wagon and help Alan lift the demon from the mattress, then page Asa. {We made it to Arisa’s, sister.}

[Excellent. He should be safe, but I’ll leave an Avatar there overnight to be sure. The relics?]

{May as well take them to my house, since there’s no point in leaving them here, and I doubt anybody knows what they do,} you tell her. {Unless you have a better idea?}

[The sword’s already there, this won’t hurt.]

{Good. Thanks. I’ll speak to you tomorrow morning.}

~Sister, you know this won’t help me much, right?~ Kerin puts in. ~She’s human. I can’t hear her prayers.~

[Can’t hear them, maybe, but she can still protect you overnight. I guarantee it’s safer than Elsa’s house, and she needs to rest after the fighting. Elsa, I can contact Jerome and let him know you’re safe, if you’d prefer to stay here.]

>{I should go home.}
>{Thank you. I’ll send Dervich with the stuff to my house.}
>{I’ll go deposit this crap at my house and come back.}
>{I’ll go deposit this crap at my house and come back.}
If demonbro is in danger of dying can't Arisa wrangle up some elven members?
Sure. Who do you trust enough to protect him? I can have her ask for some people.
anyone she trusts among the senior members should be good
{I’m going to see if she can wrangle up some elf members of the Circle and bring them over,} you tell the other two.}

~Honestly, as long as I can meditate for a few hours without interruption, that won’t be necessary,~ Kerin insists. ~And frankly, the fewer people know about this, the more comfortable I am. I’m not so weak that I could just topple over any moment.~

[You were always so unhappy about being burdensome, little brother,] Asa sighs. [Elsa, have her pick a few elf members of the Circle, but that’s the most we can allow. Those people who helped spread the word before.]

~Do I not get a say in this?~

{Enough! I’m going to ask Arisa. If she says she can even get those people out of bed at this hour, so be it.}

~Fine. I don’t want to be trouble.~

[Fair enough, sister.]

“Arisa, do you think a few elf members of the Circle could stop by to help?” you ask as the four of you shuffle in. “He can’t hear human prayer.”

“I think it’ll be unnecessary, but if Arisa says there’s somebody she can spare,” Kerin mutters, “then fine.”

Arisa nods, still looking pale. “I… I can go get Dietra, that’s about all I’ll be able to reach tonight,” she says. “It’s late on a Monday, but she doesn’t live far from here.”

“If you think… she’s trustworthy,” Kerin mutters tiredly. “Though I warn you that all I’ll be able to do is listen to the prayers. I won’t be able to grant them. And I won’t need somebody with me all night, either. Once I hear a person’s prayer, I don’t gain anything from them praying more.”

“I’ll go get her,” Arisa says, casting another look at the demon before scurrying off into the night. An Avatar of Asa materializes next to Dervich and takes Kerin’s hand, guiding him up through the manor into a small guest suite.

“Brother, here,” Asa soothes, her gentle voice low. “Rest.”

He slips under the covers, groaning, as Dervich walks back out to the wagon. “Good… I needed that.” He looks up at you. “Sister, if you wish to go to your husband, there’s nothing more for you to do here tonight.”

>”I should stay.”
>”I’ll be here the instant I can, brother.”
>”I should stay.”
Demons are kinda a big deal. Ask Asa to tell Jerome that we're A-Ok though. And that there's a demon we're watching over.
“I guess I should stay here, just to be safe,” you start, but he cuts you off.

“Sister, please.” He frowns up at you and tries to sit up. “A priestess, an Avatar of Asa, and a Herald? I don’t need this much protection. Go, rest. You’re no good asleep anyway.”

The Avatar gently grasps your shoulder and leans in so close that Kerin can’t hear you. “Sister, he’s embarrassed.”

>”I’ll just stay in another room.”
>”Fine. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

>”I guess if Asa's Avatar is going to remain with you it should be fine.”
Below, through the window of the room, you see Dervich sit down at the driver’s seat and look back over the items you collected. “Alright, I’ll go,” you say, so all can hear. “Message me if you need anything, brother.”

Kerin cocks an eyebrow at Asa, but nods. “I shall. Thanks for everything, Elsa.”

Out below, you hop up into the wagon. “All right, Al, thanks for everything. Want me to drop you at your house?”

“Nah, I’ve got this,” he says. He stands and carefully unhooks his horse from the yokes of the wagon and trots it out next to you. “I’ll be here tomorrow morning.”

“Thanks for your help, man.” You tap your forehead’s shield in salute as he rides past with a wave.

Half an hour later, you pull the wagon behind your house. It’s late now, very late. The crowd backs off when they see you in your armor, not that the backdoor crowd is as large. You gather everything up in your arms at once and walk in, ignoring the curious whispers at the sight of the armfuls of crap.

Inside, Jerome is reading by the fire when you walk in, removing your helmet and dropping it on the chair. “Hey, handsome!” you say brightly.

Jerome looks up. “Elsa!” he exclaims happily. “You’re back! I thought you’d be gone for days!”

“Nope!” You slide your arms under his and hug him close. “Mmm, that feels good,” you sigh. “How are you?”

“I’m great, but what happened to your armor?” he asks, looking at your gear. “You added a part?”

“I did,” you tell him. You disentangle from his embrace and start shucking armor. “But there’s even better news than a bad guy dying and me getting some cool new gear.”

“What’s that?”

You turn to face him and try not to sound too eager. “We rescued a demon.”

He stares. “A demon.”

“A literal, living demon. An elf demon named Kerin, who you’ll get to meet,” you tell him. “I shit you not.”

He slowly sits down, looking suddenly weak-kneed. “Elsa, a demon?”

“A demon.” You sit next to him. “He’s real. He’s a living, true demon.”

He stares into your eyes, seeking a reassertion of reality. “… I don’t know what to say.”

You nod. “I was as stunned as you. Imagine how Asa felt.”

Your husband leans back into the sofa and looks dazed. “There’s demons again now?”

“Yes.” You grab his knee. “You’ll get to meet him soon, I promise.”

“I dunno if I can handle it,” he says unsteadily. “The circles you move in, sweetheart…”

You lean on his flank and try to reassure him. “This is good, though, right?”

“It’s… this will change the world,” he murmurs. “Change everything.”

“I hope so,” you whisper.

With nothing else to do that night, you wolf down some food and leave him to his awed thoughts. After, you disrobe and take a quick rinse, after cleaning your gear meticulously, like the good soldier you are. When you finally fall into bed, it’s after midnight.
>Go do something else before seeing to Kerin, since he can just page you if something is wrong
>Go straight there
>Go straight there
so excite
As you rise the next morning, you hear Asa in your mind at once. [Sister, are you awake?]

You roll out of the bed and tap your forehead. {Yes. Is there a problem?}

[Far from it. Kerin is healthy enough to travel, and I have his clothes made,] Asa says. [Come pick us up. Come in your Heraldic uniform, but not the armor, please. Trust me. Tiara and all.]

{On it. Be there as soon as I’ve eaten.}

~There’s no real rush. I feel much healthier now. Arisa’s a tireless host.~

Your lips quirk up in a smile as you rise from the bed in slow-motion. {First name basis already?}

~She’s a gem. Take your time, I’m fine.~


[Good. Farewell.]

You scarf some breakfast and throw your clothes on, taking the time to sheathe your armor-piercing sword at your side – can’t be caught unarmed. After leaving a note on the bedside table or your husband, you pull on a heavy cloak and walk out the front door, right past the piles of people keeping a vigil on your home, most of whom are asleep and don’t even notice.

You hop in the cart and ride off to the manor, arriving before long. You affix your tiara and walk in, stilling your nerves.

Zimmer is passed out on a chair outside the bedroom, with Arisa nodding off in a love seat across the hall. You walk past the two of them and into the bedroom, where Asa and Kerin are standing before a mirror. “If you say so,” Kerin says doubtfully. “I think it’s too concealing.”

“It’s fine,” she promises, before turning to you. “Elsa, good. What do you think?” she asks, holding her arms out to her brother as if presenting him at a debut party.

Kerin sighs. His new clothes are too large for his withered frame, but they’re cut like the old Priestly uniforms of the pre-Crusades era, the last time the world could be called innocent. They’re layered dark green, with a floor-length cape. The cape is forest green on one side and black on the outer side, with a single leather pouch at the left hip. “I like it,” you comment. “Little big, maybe.”

Asa smiles slightly. “Not for long,” she says cryptically.

“I feel overdressed, since my given form is as bare as a newborn,” Kerin grumbles. “Is the sight of my skin really so off-putting to mortals?”

“No, but your manhood hanging out, taking in the breeze might be,” Asa giggles.

“I don’t even use it! I’m a demon!”

“Still.” Asa claps her brother on the shoulder. “Time to go, I think.”

>”How did last night go?”
>”You could use my Heraldic uniform pattern if that’s too concealing. I like this, so does Dervich.”
>”How did last night go?"
>>”How did last night go?”
Kerin looks fondly out the open door, at where the Priestess is stirring and yawning. “She was a lovely hostess. Once she got over her fear and awe, we were chatting like old friends. Her friend was praying her heart out.” He sighs nostalgically. “I wish I could have granted her prayer.”

That’s the third time he’s referred to granting prayers, or ‘answering’ them, like wishes. “Can you really grant people’s desires?” you ask.

Kerin hesitates. “…Sort of. I can affirm their most important desire, and grant demonic knowledge that will let them achieve it, if I deem it worthy of my assistance. I can also impede it, if they don’t meet my standards.” He shrugs, sending ripples through his new cape. “I don’t do that much. Most people with dark or feeble minds don’t approach an omnipotent being on his home grounds.”

Your jaw drops. “…Omnipotent?” you ask carefully. “Like a God?”

Your new brother’s knowing little smile communicates volumes. “There was little between me and the Gods, once. All that truly separated us was that my powers were confined to one space, I couldn’t judge the dead, and I couldn’t affect any sort of permanent change to the afterlife, which I could travel freely, unlike Tarsh.” His smile fades. “I will miss walking the paths of heaven.”

“Maybe one day, with you around to help, brother, we’ll find a way,” Asa says quietly. “But now, we go.”

“Yes.” He awkwardly hikes up his clothes and casts his unneeded scabbard aside, though he retains the belt out of necessity. “Let us go.”

Arisa stands and shakes Zimmer awake as you enter the hall. “Priestess, I thank you again for your company,” Kerin says politely, taking her hands. He bows his head slightly. “I would welcome you to my home in turn. And you, Dietra.”

[Brother, I’m sure they’re busy.]

~Something tells me that they won’t refuse.~

“It was the honor of ten lifetimes to simply be here, your Holiness,” Zimmer says reverently, sketching a curtsey. Arisa simply tilts her head forward and steeples her fingers as if praying.

“It was indeed, your Holiness,” she echoes. “I will take you up on your offer.”

Kerin smiles warmly. He’s already looking better. “I look forward to it.”

Below, you help him up into the cart as Asa produces a map. “Here. Take him here,” she says, tapping a circled spot. “This small lake. It’s actually across the lake from the temple I’m bequeathing unto you after you kill Kotrick.”

“Thank you,” you say. “May I ask why the shrine and temple were so close?”

“Coincidence,” Asa says. “Mother was fond of the place. That Kerin was the demon assigned to the shrine closest to it is simply extraordinary luck on our part.”

“I wonder,” Kerin grunts as he settles in on Saren’s mattress and pulls the blanket over his legs. “That Dommen wizard was awfully brash, capturing a demon across the lake from Sacred Home.”

“Sacred Home?” you ask.

“The name of the temple.” Kerin leans back against the side of the cart and looks around. “Where’s your Paladin?”

“He knew to meet me here with the other horse,” you assure him.

“Then let’s just wait,” Kerin says with a yawn. “I’ll just meditate some more.”

Asa hops up into the bed of the wagon and sits on the lip of the side, next to his head. “Think I’ll join you,” she says cheerfully.

The three of you sit and wait for a few minutes, before Alan clops up on his horse. You quickly hitch the animal up to the cart and set off.

The weather isn’t co-operating, though. Within an hour of travel, the sky opens wide, and it starts pouring. You look back at your passengers, but Arisa and Zimmer just have hoods up, while Asa ignores it, and Kerin is just looking out at the woods, untroubled. His hair is shorter, you notice, and his eyes have started glowing faintly. You hope that’s a good sign.

You ride in silence for a little over an hour, until you’re out of the city and into the farms. You keep going beyond even that, and after three hours of sodden rolling, you arrive at a patch of trees so old and gnarled that they look like the beard of the planet. You notice the horses getting a bit nervous as you ride into the highway stretch that runs past them. Wending through the trees is a little dirt path, and to no surprise of yours, Asa directs you down it. As you look back to acknowledge the instruction, you see Kerin looking at his hands. He’s staring at them, as if in wonder.

>”You alright, brother?”
>Just ride on
>”Sister, what am I looking for?”

>”You alright, brother?”
>>”You alright, brother?”
You frown at the strange look on his face. “Are you all right, brother?” you ask.

When he looks up and meets your eyes, it’s like looking at a different man. “I am… being reborn, sister,” he says, so softly you can barely hear it over the sound of the wagon wheels.

“Just keep going until you reach the fork in the road ahead, sister,” Asa calls. The rain has halted completely now, with the huge boughs of ancient wood over your head catching it all. In fact, none of it is dripping down to the ground. The drops simply vanish against the wood. The horses are calmer now, too.

Zimmer shivers. “This place… what is this place? I can feel the air around us is rich with magic.”

“Not magic,” Asa tells her. “Something older.”

You ride on in silence a bit longer before finding a fork in the road. “We can dismount here, sister,” Asa says. “The horses won’t run. We’ve arrived.”

“Is there no room for the wagon ahead, lady Asa?” Alan asks as you draw the wagon over to the side of the little road and stow the maps.

“Ample room, my friend, but you should see this up close,” she says happily.

The six of you climb down. Kerin doesn’t even accept a hand in leaving the wagon, he just vaults the side. His clothes aren’t hanging loose any more. “Oh, that feels better,” he says cheerfully. “I’m much stronger!”

“Just wait, brother,” Asa says with a grin.

“Oh, I know. I’d break into a run if it weren’t so undignified,” he sighs with playful resignation. He’s practically shaking with excitement.

You walk the last thirty yards out of the arbor of trees and come to a stunned halt. The road fades into two cobble paths, one leading to the left and the other to the right. They split at the shore of a lake, ringed completely with ankle-deep, dark green moss. The lake is as flat as a countertop, covered with lillypads and flowers as diverse and beautiful as anything you’ve ever seen in your life. The left path leads off to a large marble block that cuts from the ground some distance away, ringed by four pillars. The right path leads off to a huge building surrounded by smaller buildings, and one of them has a bridge, fifteen feet over the water, that arcs unsupported over to the far side. Banners and pennants covered in ancient elf letters adorn every meter of the railing. The buildings are all decorated with columns in the shape of vines and flower stems, and every scrap of construction you can see is in perfect condition, as if the world hadn’t aged a day.

“Welcome to Sacred Home and the Shrine of the Discretion Demon, my friends,” Asa says. “And be welcomed indeed, for you are the first mortals in three thousand eleven years to set foot on this land. My barriers have kept it proofed against all intruders for that time, and I lower them for you.”

Zimmer nearly falls to her knees. Arisa supports her with her free hand, while the other covers her mouth. Alan unconsciously places his hand over his new brand on his heart. You just stare, overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. “It’s magnificent,” you finally whisper.

Asa and Kerin walk by, heading left. “And you thought it would be a shack in the woods,” Asa gently teases you.

>Follow them to the shrine
>Go over to the lake
>Go see the temple without the divine folks
>"I need to show this to Jerome sometime."
>Follow them to the shrine
This sounds good.
“I need to show this to Jerome,” you murmur.

“He’d love it,” Asa agrees. “Come. See what Kerin’s so happy about.”

You follow the demon towards the marble block, which is positively dwarfed by the huge, ancient trees and the temple. Kerin is practically racing towards it now. Since you’re closer, you can see that the block is stuck in the ground about four inches above the moss, and the pillars are actually carved into the block itself – it’s all one large stone. In the center, taller than the pillars, which only actually rise to about six feet off the floor and support nothing, just tapering into a point; there stands a large fountain. It’s bone-dry. Each pillar has three urns made of copper at their base, on the stone block.

Kerin slows as he approaches. You can see that as he steps up to the edge of the marble block, he’s physically shaking, from head to toe. As you come up beside him, you see tears pouring from both golden eyes.

“Welcome home, brother,” Asa says quietly.

Kerin steps on to the block.

The air darkens. Zimmer shivers as Arisa nervously fingers the hem of her hood. Asa just clasps her hands at her belt buckle, but you and Alan exchange stunned glances. Maybe the normal mortals can’t sense it, and maybe for Asa it’s not that impressive, but you and Alan both feel an impact like a physical hammerblow to the chest.

Kerin raises his hands to the sky, now weeping openly. The air lightens again as something deeply wrong with the orld is suddenly right again. The demon sinks to his knees, and almost without being aware of it, you and the other mortals do too.

Power, sheer waves of visible, divine energy ripple from the block into the sky above, burning the clouds away in an instant. The late morning sun blazes through the gap in the clouds, illuminating the lake and everything around it, bathing you all in rich golden light. Kerin raises his hands again and clasps them over his head, and his damaged form is restored in an instant. His ragged hair is suddenly tied back neatly, his crippled limbs are whole and muscled, and though his skin stays as white as snow, it suddenly shimmers with the light. Asa’s does too, but this is different. Where hers is a faint, subtle glow, his is a glorious, radiant shine that casts shadows all around him.

“Oh, Tarsh, I am one with you again!” he cries, his voice cracking with utter joy. “Oh, benighted world, your son lives!”

He slowly lets his hands sink to his side. The glow fades. The beams of energy disappear. The demon slowly climbs to his feet and turns to face you. His visage is wet with tears, and his grin is so huge it’s reaching for his ears. “Sisters. Brother. Please… enter my home,” he says quietly. His voice is still shaky, and he sounds as eager as a child.

>”I think you should have a moment alone, brother.”
>”I’d be honored.”
>”I’d be honored.”
You bow your head. “I’d be honored, brother.”

To your surprise, Asa catches your arm. “Sister, wait,” she urges you. “Kerin, please.”

He immediately waves a hand. “Right, right. Sorry.” He sniffs and smiles sheepishly. “Got a bit carried away. One moment.” Kerin raises a hand, and the urns are suddenly empty of debris. “The protocols, you know.” He steps back and spreads his arms. “All right. Now… welcome.”

You gingerly step into the space defined by the quadrilateral pillars, and an immediate sense of calm and peace floods your mind. It’s actually quite similar to the sense of receiving power from Asa, but not the same. That’s a localized effect, one you feel in your mind and body. This is different. It’s more intense, and somehow familiar.

“Don’t be afraid,” he says, gently taking your hand. His flesh had been cold and wrinkled before; now it’s warm and firm, like a young man’s. “Come.” His smile hasn’t left his lips. “Doesn’t that feel different? You’re feeling Mai’te’s presence. She’s gone, but her love remains.”

The realization hits you all at once. “This is what it felt like in my dreams of heaven,” you murmur. “This… blissful feeling.”

“Not quite,” Kerin admits. “The true sensation isn’t diluted by having a body. This is as close as I can manage, though. Feels good, doesn’t it?”

The others walk in after you, and all three audibly gasp. “Oh… this is amazing,” Dervich says, looking around. “This is your power?”

Kerin chuckles. “This is to make the guests feel more comfortable. People are more willing to hide their souls from my sight if they’re anxious. After all, people came to me for help with tricky matters of discretion, indecision, precedent. It’s hard to decide that stuff if you’re wound tight, hmm?”

“Easy, Priestess,” Kerin soothes. “Dry your eyes.” Then he scoffs at his own words. “Hah. Listen to me. I’m leaking like a waterfall,” he mutters, drying his eyes on his cape. “Well. Here.” He waves his hand, and the soggy feeling from riding through the rain for hours is gone. You look down – your clothes are completely dry.

“Brother,” Asa chides.

“Sorry. Not supposed to go that far.” He rubs his hands together, looking for all the world like a child being restrained by a parent from showing off a new toy. “…Heavens, I don’t think I’ve ever felt this happy,” he says quietly.

Asa reaches over and touches his shoulder. “Little brother, maybe you should show them around,” she softly suggests.

“Yes. Yes.” He claps his hands together. “Well… I imagine that you at least know what this is,” he says. “This is what we called ‘Heavens’ Bedrocks.’” He gestures at the marble beneath you. “Stone, endowed with divine energies that recharge with sunlight, or the presence of a demon. The demon draws its power from the prayers of the faithful, from performing its duties, and the conduits of the divine from heaven to Tarsh, like the one in that temple,” he says, pointing across the lake. Zimmer and Arisa look faint as it dawns on them where they actually are, but in his rapturous eagerness, Kerin somehow doesn’t notice. “The stone and demon alike are empowered by each other, all stemming from their God. Though Asa here fits the bill,” he adds with a mischievous glance at his sister. She laughs silently.

“Brother, your power eclipses mine tenfold in this place.”

“True. If only I could activate the other shrines,” he says wistfully. “But I cannot. Still, I do not want for occupation. These urns,” he says, pointing at one of the twelve little copper pots, “hold the devotions. People who wish to pay me worship in the form of a gift would leave them there, though at first there was no point to it. I don’t have any use for them. Why would I?” he asks. He flicks his wrists again, and within the shape defined by the pillars and rising for a few dozen feet above, the air fills with scented tulip petals. “I can materialize nearly anything I desire.

“But I would be a fool and unrighteous to refuse thoughtful gifts, and items of worship and praise,” he adds, and the flowers vanish. “I took to stacking them in the fountain, for the pilgrims to trade, in case they might find something that solved their problem they came here to fix. Ah, the fountain!” he says, walking over. “Hmm. Shut it down, sister?”

“Mai’te did, in her… absence,” Asa says awkwardly.

“Ah. No matter.” Without even a hand signal, the fountain springs to life. He runs his hands over the surface of the water, and they come away dry. “Good.”

“Brother, now you’re showing off,” Asa chides gently. “Can’t you tell how overwhelmed they are?”

He sighs, though it doesn’t seem to impact his glee at all. “Of course. My apologies.” He scatters a few drops of water on the ground. The cascades of water down the central column and into the basin at waist level don’t diminish, and the water level doesn’t drop. “Divine Waters. Never freeze or boil, never become filthy or impure.” He smiles at some memory. “We would bring mothers who were at risk of dying in delivery here to heal them, and wash the babies in the Divine Waters. I got to meet a few prospective Heralds that way.”

“Indeed.” Asa turns to you all. “Needless to say, Arisa, I expect the sanctity of this place to remain until our conspiracy problem is solved. I simply can’t risk Kotrick using one of his remaining weapons on this holy place.”

Arisa wipes away her tears. “I swear it, my Lady.” Zimmer nods emphatically.

>"Don't they already know about it, if they specifically stole a key to the shrine?"
“Don’t they know about it?” you ask. “They have a key…”

“They have a key to the temple,” she corrects. “They don’t have a way of bypassing the barrier, which I will leave in place until I get that key.”

You look over at her, nonplussed. “Then… what’s the harm in them having the key?”

“In case I’m wrong, I like I have been several times already,” she says dolefully. [And because that’s not the only thing that key unlocks,] she continues in your mind, where the Priestess and her Treasurer can’t hear. [It also unlocks every other Temple of Mai’te. It’s a master key.]

~One is unaccounted for?~ Kerin asks in your strange lightspeed talk.


~Troubling. Is every single temple to which that key would fit protected by a barrier like this?~

[I wish,] Asa says. [I’m not even sure I know where all of them are. That was Ghalad’s job.]

~Hmph. Guess I’ll have to wait a bit longer to start receiving guests.~

[You poor dear.]

His voice is tinged with self-deprecation when he speaks again. {I know, I shouldn’t complain,} he says. {I’m just… thrilled to be alive! I want to share it!}

Asa grins. “I’m glad that you’re so happy again, little brother.”

He grins again. “Oh, ecstatic,” he sighs, apparently done with the behind-the-backs talk.

>”So do your powers extend to the Temple? It looks like it’s made of the same stuff.”
>”Will you be able to hear and answer prayers now?”
>”Will you be able to hear and answer prayers now?”
inb4 only within 50 meters
“So… you can answer prayers now?” you ask. “Within fifty yards or so?”

“A bit beyond that, but not much,” he says. “And anywhere within this block.” He gestures to the ground. “It’s a twenty yard square. Figure… fifty-five yards from the edge of this block out, I can hear prayers. A bit closer, I can answer them.” He grins. “Within that boundary, I can do more or less anything.” Asa nods.

Kerin turns to Zimmer. “Try repeating that prayer from last night, miss,” he says.

She looks a bit nervous to be under the divine spotlight, but she does so, leaning her head forward and closing her eyes.

He listens to the silence for a moment. “Hmm. Sorry, but I can’t physically modify objects that far away,” he says regretfully. “But here. Ask me something about your own life. A decision point upon which you coul use some guidance.”

Zimmer does so, and this time, Kerin smiles. “Ah, an old problem.” He reaches forward and clasps her hands between his. “Simply remember,” he says softly, and her eyes light up.

“So… yes,” she says in the same tone. “Of course. Thank you, your Holiness,” he says, bowing over his hands.

“My pleasure.” He turns to you. “And you, sister. As a Herald, I can hear your thoughts when you send them anyway, and you already have a divine patron in your life… but if you come to me when your exploration of this holy grove is done, I can grant you something similar.”

>Ask him what it is over your telepathic link
>Just assume it’ll be something good without asking and looking like you doubt him
>Ask Alan what he thinks, being human instead of an elf
>Just assume it’ll be something good without asking and looking like you doubt him
Let's be cool
You feel your heart pick up a bit. “You have my thanks in advance, brother.”

Alan hesitantly speaks up. “Er… Lady Asa, is this going to be a problem for you?” he asks carefully. “I mean… you’re already the most powerful Pantheon member, and now you have a Herald, a demon brother… and you’ve sort of poached a human Paladin,” he says awkwardly.

“This doesn’t throw the balance of power in the slightest,” Asa promises. “His power is null beyond this grove. And the outside world thinks this is a haunted copse,” she adds. “I’ve encouraged that rumor. Anybody who tried to get in would get lost in mist, only to return to the point from which they started.”

“Right,” he says, unwilling to press further.

“I understand your concern,” Asa admits, “but we’re not rivals any more. They’re happy for me, and they know perfectly well that the world will be safer for demonic powers returning to it.”

[Temporary End of Thread]

Sorry, I need to go. I’ll be back tomorrow, so please keep this alive!
Only one bump needed? Cool.
Actually, sorry, I'm calling it quits. We got a huge amount done, and I posted a lot, and I need to be places today. Thanks for playing.
thanks for running!

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