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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.
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 rescued Kerin, an elf demon, and restored him to power.
All mechanics are based on a 1d100+modifier roll.
You sit on the bridge over the lake and let your feet dangle over the edge. The day’s a busy one, for sure, and the life you live is a momentous one, but it wouldn’t be right if you didn’t take just a moment to be carefree in this holy place. Asa’s leaning against a nearby tree, chatting casually with Dervich, while the two Circle women are talking with Kerin, who’s as happy as a child in a sweetshop. It’s that kind of place. You’d probably be barefoot if it weren’t a few degrees above freezing.

You lean back and call over to Asa. “Hey, sister, think I should call Avatars of Haret and Vier over? Let them relax a bit too?” you ask breezily.

She laughs. “No, sister. I won’t even be staying much longer. At least I want you to see the temple.”

You frown as she and Dervich walk up beside you. “Oh, can we? I thought you padlocked it.”

“To keep out raiders, sister,” she said. “I can open it for you.”

Dervich looks over at the Circle members. “Should I take them home?”

>”They can stay.”
>”Would you?”
>”Ask Kerin first.”
Ask them if they want to go home.

How's the Natnothingy going?
It's garbage. I may rewrite it completely when the quest is over.
Eh this
You clamber up and walk over to where Kerin and the women are talking. “So, of course, the King demanded our obedience,” Arisa says quietly. “I suppose, ultimately, I can’t blame him, but when all we wanted was to restore some of the Pantheon’s glory, it stung.”

The demon nods solemnly. “I understand. But now, your faith is rewarded, no?”

Priestess Arisa smiles. “It certainly has been,” she said. “I would ask… how often may I come here?”

Kerin glances over at you. “Ask Elsa. She’ll be the one who owns the place, after all.” He beckons you closer, back into his shrine. “Sister, what can I do for you?”

You feel your body relax as you enter the divine field of energy above the stone. It’s as comforting as you remember. “Mmm… actually, I have a question for Arisa and Madam Zimmer,” you say. “Ladies, you can stay longer if you wish, but I’m about to tour the temple with Asa. Paladin Dervich has offered to bring you home if you’d like.”

“As much as I’d wish to stay, I should get going,” Zimmer sighs. “My boss will be wondering why I didn’t come in today.”

Arisa blinks. “You didn’t tell him you weren’t coming to work today?” Then she shakes her head. “What am I saying? Of course you didn’t.”

“I’ll work it out. He owes me one,” Zimmer says.

“I’ll go back too,” Arisa says. “Please drop by, Elsa, we have much to discuss.”

“Thanks. I will.” You stand back and watch as Dervich escorts the women into the wagon and takes off.

“I’ll be back for you, Elsa,” he calls over his shoulder.

“Thanks, Alan!” you say with a wave.

Once they others are out of hearing, Asa wanders over to join you and Kerin. “Sister, please, allow me,” she says, gesturing over the bridge.

“I’ll tag along,” Kerin says to your surprise, following you over the bridge.

“Brother, won’t that weaken you?” you ask, glancing back at the shrine.

He shakes his head. “Only if I stay out for a few hours.”

>What order do you tour these things?

>Meditation sauna
>Lake dock
>Main temple
>Heaven portal
>>Main temple
>>Meditation sauna
>>Lake dock
>>Heaven portal
>Meditation sauna
>Lake dock
sounds good to me.
The temple grounds are gorgeous. The walls are the same marble as the shrine, only without the distinct ring of blessing. It still feels like you’re walking through a childhood home, or a place rife with memories, though. Who knows, maybe you are. Maybe your predecessors came here to meditate.

Asa leads you through the little gate at the far end of the bridge and into a small walkway with its own stone railings. The walkway wends down near the edge of the lake, and ends in a large, low building of stone and wood. “This is the meditation sauna,” she says, gesturing at where a small basket sits next to the door. “Clothing deposit is there. This was unisex before, I suppose you could add a changing room if you wish to. Here, come inside.

You walk around the stone wall that separates view of the interior from the outside. It’s piping hot inside, and you immediately shuck your cloak as you enter. “Wow, midwinter and it’s this hot?” you ask, tugging your collar. “Amazing.”

“It’s a hot spring, sister,” Asa reminds you. “Volcanic heat doesn’t end with the summer.”

“Guess not,” you mutter, wiping your brow. Inside, a few concentric rings of stone benches circle a statue of Mai’te, kneeling with her eyes shut, and her hands on her knees. Beneath the statue, there’s a small pool of water with bubbles rising through.

“Self-cleaning, of course,” Asa says proudly.

“Wow.” You run a hand over the bench – it comes off dry. “Impressive.”

“Isn’t it?” she asks. “I know that pilgrims used to meditate in here for hours before going to ask the priestesses and Kerin questions.”

“You could always tell the travelers, because they’d be sweaty and nervous no matter how long they’d been around before coming to me,” Kerin says with a chuckle. “The people who lived nearby knew to come ask me their question first. Meditating on it first just made them more anxious.”

“I remember,” Asa says quietly.

The path up to the main temple is a short one, but long enough that there’s room for some small, decorated garden pockets and prayer stones along the twisting course. At the top, the path widens up into a courtyard, with glittering glowstones on pillars every few feet along the outside of the mossy space. The entire courtyard is completely covered in thick moss, ankle-deep and flat.

Asa nods at the green carpet. “Mother insisted. Odd, but I suppose it cleans itself too.”

You run your hand over the plants. “It’s gorgeous. How do you keep it from climbing the pillars?”

“I don’t know, actually,” Asa mused. “Maybe Mother arranged something.”

Kerin walks across the space to the main temple. It’s closed-roofed, but open-topped, and the floor turns from stone to bare earth, with small fountains inset on either side of the door to wash the pilgrims’ feet. The temple opens up to a large central chamber with some hallways jutting out from the sides, which lead to stairways going up and down. The chamber is filled with chairs, some low reclining cot-shaped cushions, and seeming-random pools of water. Asa walks up to one and touches the water, and it ripples, glowing faintly.

Asa smiles to herself. “I remember,” she whispers. Kerin walks up behind her and rests his hand on her shoulder. She clasps her hand over his and stares into the depths of the water as you move up beside them, curious.

“Wow,” you whisper. The water keeps rippling long after it should have stopped. The glow fades to a point, where she had touched the surface, and glitters there like a jewel.

Wait. It IS a jewel. You reach down and hesitantly touch it. It’s red-hot, and you draw your hand back with a hiss. “Yow! What is that?”

Kerin picks it up and holds it, apparently unharmed. The hot gem glitters in his palm. “A God Gem. Completely useless to anybody but a demigod or God.”

“This is where they’re made?” you ask, staring.

It glitters and vanishes as Asa taps the one in his palm. “Yes, sister. I have a small, left-over cache in the Islands that I use instead of these fresh ones. The ones Mai’te made were more powerful than my counterfeits, anyway.” She looks your way and grins. “Fear not, I gave you one of the good ones.”

"I believe you"

honestly considering all things, there's no reason to doubt her.
“I believe you,” you assure her. “How would yours have been different?”

“Oh, the lack of telepathic abilities would have been the worst,” she says. You think of all the times you’ve spoken to her in your mind and have to agree. “Anyway. Try touching the water yourself.”

You reach over and touch the surface, and it coils and swirls. “See? The little glow at the bottom?” she says. “That’s the spark of the divine in you. It’s not as large as mine, but it’s there. The normal mortals see a very, very faint light. I produce enough light to congeal it, while Mai’te could light a room.”

Kerin touches it, and it swirls some more, glowing even brighter than Asa’s. “Told you you were more powerful,” Asa chuckles. Kerin laughs.


Rolled 35 + 10 (1d100 + 10)

"Impressive... is this the effect of him being 'home'"

No idea what else to day.
That's not the modifier I asked for, but hey. Writing.
Rolled 80 + 100 (1d100 + 100)

“So… is this the effect of him being ‘home?’ I mean, where the elves were created?” you ask.

Asa shakes her head. “No, he’d have had that reaction whether he was hale or not.”

“Quite,” Kerin remarks. “I don’t stop being a demon far from home, I just grow more frail.” He flicks the surface, and the light disappears. “The furniture… it’s been a while, but if I recall, it was for meditation, yes?” he asks.

“Correct,” Asa tells him. “The sauna wasn’t for everybody.” She leads you across the large chamber and into a small chamber at the back. “This is where I would hold private audiences, or Ghalad would if he were here,” she remarks. “I didn’t actually like that. It’s so tiny. I wanted to be able to meet people in a more comfortable place. I usually just gave it over to the priests.”

Kerin halts you as you look inside. “Sister, see?” he asks, pointing at the ceiling. “Up there, beside the windows?”

You squint and notice a flock of birds, perching on the stone rafters. “Animals?”

“Statues,” Kerin corrects. “The Flocks of Heaven. Replicas of the animals that watched over the souls of the departed in the afterlife.”

“Beautiful. There’s so many…”

“The Flocks were uncounted in the heavens,” Kerin says sadly. “I do miss them.”

“Sister, here,” Asa says. She directs you to the stairs. “Upstairs is the rectory, where you would live if you accepted this place. It’s huge for a couple, but it was meant for seven priests and seven priestesses, so there’s plenty of room to grow. No point in going up now, it’s empty. Not even any furniture, we moved it all down here,” she says, pointing off towards a stairwell packed with boxes.

You glance over towards the stairs. “Why did they leave?”

“I ordered them to,” Asa admits. “I was ashamed of myself. I didn’t feel worthy fo worship. I can’t hear prayer, anyway.”

Kerin takes over, leading you outside. The next building in the place is a large gallery with a span of bare wood rafters overhead, with no roof. The floor is sunken, but there’s no water collecting, it just drains through the grate-like floor. The large, open floor is covered with seats, with a glass table in the middle. “The gallery,” Kerin says. “This is where meetings would be held if neutral ground were called for.”

“Like the conference in Forest’s book,” you recall.

“Precisely,” Asa says. “There are a few outbuildings over there, for the groundskeepers and guests,” she adds, pointing off towards a small cluster of structures. “There’s a small outdoor bath down at the docks, but that was converted into a garden.”

“No outhouse?” you ask, looking around.

“The rectory had lavatories, the first around with magic plumbing,” Asa tells you. “The outbuildings do too.”

“Impressive.” You look up at the stone buildings and smile. “It’s a gorgeous place.”

Kerin and Asa share a smile. “We saved the best for last, sister,” Kerin promises. “But next, the docks.”

You troop down to where the small spur of metal and wood sticks out into the lake. The lake is apparently fed by several small streams that emerge from the surrounding woods over by the shrine, though you don’t see it drain anywhere. “Where is the water going?” you ask.

“It flows out through an underground passage into the Great River,” Asa tells you. “After purification.”

“Wow.” You peer at the docks. There aren’t any boats. “Uh, am I missing something?”

“The boats are in the groundskeeping shed,” Asa supplies. “They were just little pleasure craft.”

You shake your head. “I never learned to swim,” you admit.

“Can’t imagine a safter place to learn outdoors!” Kerin says cheerfully.

Once you’ve had your fill of staring into the crystal-clear water, Asa leads you over behind the outbuildings into a small copse of trees. You feel an odd sense of displacement wash over you as you walk between the branches. “Uh, why is there no pathway here?” you ask.

“Because Mother wanted it pristine,” Asa tells you. “Here, see?”

You walk up beside her, swatting aside a branch, and stop dead a moment later. “Oh, Mai’te, mother of elves,” you whisper, stunned.

“You see them, don’t you?” Kerin asked. “Mortals can’t. Even Priests and sanctioned Paladins. Only we of the divine kin… and those who have our eyes.” Your hand goes unconsciously to your face, where Asa implanted her eyes, several weeks ago.

“I see them,” you manage. It’s impossible to miss them.

Inside the copse, in a huge clearing, you see thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of softly glowing lines between the ground and sky, tapering off about ten feet in the air. They glitter and shimmer with internal silver light. You watch as a bird flies right through one, unharmed, but when Kerin walks up next to one, it glows a bit brighter.

“Heaven portals,” you murmur. “I lived to see them.”

Asa gently grasps your shoulder. “Not portals now, sister, and not since the Heaven-born used them first,” she says softly. “But close enough.”

Any reason for all the pure writins off a sudden? It wouldn't be bad if it didn't feel like I was the only reader.
You're in the final chapter. I was hoping people would feel confident enough to roleplay a bit now.
I'm here but I suck at thinking of things for writeins.
Fine. I'll come up with something.
>”Will it do something if I touch them?”
>”Can you open them?”
>”Is there even a heaven on the other side any more?”
>”Do any lead to hell?”

Writeins provide bonuses if they were better than whatever I had planned, remember.
>"Do they really work with all that's happened? As it is, it'll just be something quite pretty"
>"Is it safe for me to touch them?"

Just some ideas, the whole write in thing would be better if there wasn't a skeleton crew of readers, half of which are occuplied with things half the time.
>”Will it do something if I touch them?”
>”Is there even a heaven on the other side any more?”
You slowly walk closer to one of the threads. It doesn’t react to your presence. “Does this… is there even a heaven on the other side?” you ask.

“In a manner of speaking,” Asa hedges. “There was, once, and there may be some bits oif it left, but I shut it all off forever after… I was a fool,” she says. She looks down at the mossy ground. “Such a fool.”

You reach out to one, and with a tightening of your stomach, it curls and shivers a bit as your hand draws near. “Is this safe?” you ask.

“It is,” she promises. “Go on.”

You reach out and touch one curling strand, but nothing happens. “It… it feels like it’s just air,” you say. “Are they illusions?”

“No, but they’re empty of all power now,” Asa says. “Except… hmm.” She points to one across the clearing. “That one seems to have something in it still.”

She and Kerin walk over as you gradually follow, entranced by the sight of the thousands of strands of heaven. “Well, well,” she mutters. “This is the one Guide used. The first elf. I guess Mother made him a Herald while he was traversing the gate.” She holds her hand out to you. “Here, Elsa, touch this one.”

>”What will happen?”
>She hasn’t lead you astray yet – just touch it
>>She hasn’t lead you astray yet – just touch it

It's true
>>She hasn’t lead you astray yet – just touch it
File: Elsa-Level-divine.gif (1.42 MB, 3300x2550)
1.42 MB
1.42 MB GIF
You gingerly reach out and touch the strand. You were half expecting something truly bizarre to happen, but instead, you feel the same sensation you’ve felt maybe a dozen times already.

New Divine Ability unlocked!

Lance of Purity: Elsa can use her voice to cause harm. Once per day, Elsa can speak the primal word for ‘fire,’ and ignite any plant or wood matter in a straight line from her mouth for forty feet. ACTIVE X 1
“Wow!” you exclaim, withdrawing your hand. “That… this is familiar! I saw a Herald use this in a flashback, the one where I saw Elegance!”

“Ah, yes,” Asa says knowingly. “One of the primordial Heraldic abilities, the ones the first few generations knew inherently. They used it to clear places to settle and build.”

Kerin, however, looks oddly at you. “Flashbacks?” he asks quizzically. “What flashbacks?”

>”I’ve been having dreams of the past lives of Heralds.”
>”I’m plagued by nightmares of Heralds dying.”
>>”I’ve been having dreams of the past lives of Heralds.”
>>"Sometimes good, sometimes bad. It's been a learning experience"
“I’ve been having dreams of the lives of early Heralds,” you admit. “Some are pleasant, but most have been nightmares. I’m learning a lot, but… the fact that it’s even happening is a little odd.”

He steps closer, peering into you with his glowing metal eyes. “How odd, indeed,” he says quietly. “I shall think on this.” He steps back again. “In any case. Is there anything you wish to do here, or shall you just meet your Paladin partway back?”

>”I’ll head out now.”
>”Can I explore on my own a bit?”
>”Show me (a specific place).”
>”Let’s just stay and talk.”
>>”I’ll head out now.”
“As much as I’d like to stay, brother, I have so much to do,” you tell them both regretfully. “I should head for home. I’ll meet Dervich on the road.”

“Very well,” Kerin says. “Feel free to return whenever you wish.”

The three of you walk over towards the shrine again, pausing long enough to retrieve your cloak. In the shrine, Kerin speaks up.

The pale demon takes your hand and squeezes it between his. “Sister, I wish to thank you again for helping me,” he says. “But words aren’t enough.” His voice falters a bit as he meets your eyes. “My time in that prison was as bad as hell was for mortals, sister. You freed me. At any time, for the rest of your life, return to me, that you may receive my blessing. I would be honored to grant you my discretion.”

“Wow… Kerin, thank you,” you say, touched. “That’s very kind.”

He pulls you into a lingering hug. “My endless gratitude, sister,” he murmurs. “You’re welcome any time in my home.”

You let the embrace linger long enough for him to feel finished. He’s probably holding his true feelings back in front of his sisters. “Farewell, brother,” you say after he breaks it off. “Stay safe.”

Maul a ded
As you walk away, you pull your hood back up and cinch your cuffs around your gloves. Kerin waves goodbye as you round the bend, leaving the demon alone.

Asa’s Avatar reappears beside you as you leave the mighty, ancient woods. “I’ll re-raise the barrier for now,” she says. “All you need to do if you wish to return with somebody is ask, and I’ll lower it.”

“Thanks.” You look over your shoulder to see the road vanish in a carpet of haunting mist. “Woo. That’s scary stuff,” you remark. “I’d think twice, and I’m a footsoldier.”

“Good.” The Avatar nods and vanishes, though her voice continues in your mind. [Dervich will meet you if you keep walking.]

~And by the by, sister, in case I forgot before: invite your family to come and meet me when it’s safe. I’d love to see them. It’s been so long since I had a chance to just speak with mortals,~ Kerin said wistfully.

>{Can I bring Jerome out here in the next few days?}
>{I think it’d be best to wait.}




>>{I think it’d be best to wait.}
>>{I think it’d be best to wait.}
>>Note it'll only be until this whole thing is over.
{I think it would be better to wait to bring my family, but I sure will when it’s safe,} you promise.

~I look forward to it,~ your demonic brother says cheerfully. ~Have a safe trip.~

As you walk towards the distant city, you slowly turn through the events of the tour in your mind. The road’s wide open and bone dry, so the journey’s not hard, and that leaves plenty of time for introspection.

The shrine was an experience, to be sure. The sheer power Kerin had displayed was unlike anything you’d ever seen in your life. If only he could bring it to bear against the enemy…

The temple, on the other hand… That place was a home, for sure. Would it be yours? You don’t know. Your husband still has to have a say.

You walk in silence for a few hours, just stretching your legs, when the wagon trundles into view. Dervich waves as he rolls to a halt. “Get impatient, boss?” he asks drily.

“I needed the exercise,” you say in the same tone. “Let’s go home.”

As you clamber in, the Gem warms. [Ah, you found Alan. Good. Go see the King when you return, will you? I have a message for you both, and he has one for you.]

{Sure. Thanks.}

An Avatar appears behind you in the cart as you clamber in, though you’re so used to it by now that you don’t jump. “Sorry you missed the tour, Alan,” Asa says lightly. “You’ll be allowed access as long as Elsa lives, though, as her Paladin.”

Alan glances back over his shoulder. “Oh? Good. I can’t really pray to Kerin, though.”

“He’ll make you most welcome, Alan, I promise,” Asa laughs. “You may have noticed, he’s a nice guy to be around.”

The newly-minted Paladin looks back to the road. “Yeah, he is.”

The wagon suddenly lurches to a halt. You peek up over the back of the driver’s bench and stare. “What the hell?”

A dark elf man with a long black cloak and an escort of two human women are standing in your path. “Ledren! Front and center!” the man bellows.

You start to rise when Asa grabs your shoulder. “Sister, be careful,” she says quietly. “This is the brother of the spy you encountered in the ports to the north, Lake-watcher. This is Fish-catcher, his younger sibling.”

>Get down and get in his face
>Approach with caution
>Don’t even leave the wagon
>”What the hell do you want?”
>”Show some respect.”
>>”What the hell do you want?”
>>Approach with caution
You climb up on the driver’s bench and glare at the spy. “What the hell do you want, Fish-chaser?”

The spy’s head jerks back as he sees the Avatar behind you, but he doesn’t waste a second. “I understand you had some hand in my brother’s death,” he says coldly. “I want the truth.”

You leap from the wagon and land beside the horses, looking at the rebel in your path. “The truth is that your brother decided to kill himself to prevent us capturing his knowledge,” you tell him flatly. “I wasn’t even in the building.”

He glares at you and takes a step forward. “Is that right? What about the arms dealer, Saren? What role did you have in his death?”

>Tell him the truth
>Demand how he knows about that
>Use a power
>>Tell him the truth

"I didn't finish him personally. The soul-herd I freed from his control had a score to settle."
>>Tell him the truth

I thought it was the old explorer that did that, with the arms dealer being the guy remaining.
Saren was the arms dealer. He found the weapons while out Exploring.
“I was watching, certainly, but the Dragon-man soul-herd he unleashed from its ancient magical prison did the hard work,” you tell him.

You didn’t even need to say it aggressively. The look on his face says exactly how much impact you had. “The… are you mad?” he asks incredulously. “A soul-herd of an extinct race?”

“You see this Gem?” you ask, pointing at your head. “This is real enough.”

He looks up at the Avatar, then glares at you. “Picking sides was wrong of you, Herald,” he finally says. Without another word, he turns on his heel and climbs up on his horse, as the two women do as well, and they ride off in the opposite direction, glaring at you until they’re past.

You look up at Asa, baffled. “Okay, I give up. What the fuck just happened?”

Asa sighs. “If I’m honest, I have no idea. He had no orders to do that of which I am aware.” She sits back down. “Perhaps the King will know, hmm?”

“He’d better,” you growl. “That was weird, even by my standards, and a spy like him should know better than to confront his prey openly.”

“His orders have been somewhat conflicting of late,” Asa says cryptically. “You know little less than I do.”

[Temporary end of thread]

Calling it for now, I’ll be back tomorrow morning, first thing!
Bumping for great justice!
You ride on in silence, though it’s an uneasy one now. How had he known where you would be, and when? How had the spy learned about his brother’s death, and your role in it? How had he known about Novai Saren, and the weapons he had had? And how had Alan not seen him on the way down?

The wagon rolls on towards the town, and right through the gates, where Alan clearly told the Guard to expect you. Once inside, he turns to look at you in the back. “Okay, off to the castle, or do you want to drop in on Jerome first… or maybe go see Arisa? It’s barely dark out.”

>Go see the King directly
>Go somewhere else first
>See the king directly
“We should see His Higness,” you say, as much as a hot meal and warm bed sound appealing. “Off to the castle.”

“Sure. What about the wagon? This was Saren’s,” he says, glancing down at it. “Doesn’t really fit the old bastard’s sense of style, but it was.”

“He doesn’t need it. Keep it,” you say with a shrug. “It’s been handy.”

“Cool.” The Paladin drives you up to the parade ground and hops out. You rise and crick your back as Asa vanishes.

[I’ll be waiting with the King,] she tells you.


You and Alan walk up into the castle and climb the many stairs to the Royal residence, breezing through the heavy security. Inside, the King is pouring over some maps of the south, speaking with a few advisors, while Asa stands in the corner, watching it all. Interestingly, Vier and Haret are present, too.

“Your Majesty, I apologize if I’m late,” you say as you walk in.

“Not at all, your Eminence, you’re right on time,” Maas says. “I have an… interesting piece of news for you.” He looks up and rounds the table to stand amongst the advisors that circle it. “You recall the rebel horsemen from the manor raid?”

“I do,” you affirm. “They were looking for Saren.”

“Correct.” The King crosses his arms and leans back against the table, stroking his chin thoughtfully. “We were all wondering why they kept the mercenary team alive. Well… as it turns out, the souls of the dead rebels had the answer.” He cocks and eyebrow at the little cluster of Avatars. “Lady Vier?”

Vier steps forward. “The secessionists were seeking a weapon from Master Saren,” she says. “They were to peruse his entire stock, select any items Duke Zafford may have wanted, and buy it with credit, bring them south again, and return with payment.”

“Did Zafford know that Novai Saren had superweapons?” you ask, stunned. “If he did…”

“He suspected, but didn’t care overmuch,” Vier admits. “It doesn’t matter.”

“We made it clear to every world leader to whom we spoke, regarding your existence, that you had arisen to purge the criminals that had taken up the superweapons,” Haret says darkly. “Including Zafford. He had sent the riders before he got the news, however.”

“Did he recall them?” you ask.

Maas grins, with a surprisingly malicious edge to the sight coming from him. “Oh, no,” he says with dark humor. “Nothing of the kind.”

Asa sighs and massages the bridge of her nose. “On the heels of such a victory…” she mutters.

“We had to remove Zafford,” Vier finishes for her. “He suspected Saren’s intent, and made no moves to redirect his riders after hearing of your existence. He was paranoid that your being a former member of the Cenderian military meant that he was coming for him personally, especially since one of his nobles is a relative of yours.”

A relative on Zafford’s Council? And… he was deposed? You recoil in shock. “A relative?”

“A second cousin, once removed,” Asa tells you. “Baron Aulder.”

“I didn’t even know I was related to a noble!” you protest feebly. “Do I have a claim on his Barony?”

“Yes, with eighty four people ahead of you,” Maas says, shaking his head. “That’s not the point. The point is that the Pantheon just removed a rebel Duke from power.”

>”So what does that mean regarding the hunt for Don Kotrick?”
>”Is Zafford dead?”
>”Who’s the rebel chieftain now?”
>”What about the tribes in the south?”
>”And the surviving prisoner rebel?”
>”What about the weapons I captured?”
>”Did Saren contact Zafford, or the other way around?”
>"Things must be pretty awkward politically now, huh."
“So… that must have made politics awkward,” you observe.

Maas manages to keep a grin from his face this time. He’s clearly enjoying the rebellion’s turmoil.

Vier just shakes her head. “We’ve managed to convince most of the courts of the world that this was just for his breaking the rules, not in oppression of his political desires. Some don’t believe us, but that’s their problem.”

“So yes, politics are awkward,” Haret adds. “For now. It will pass.”

“The remaining prisoner is contemplating the chain gangs, which I suspect will loosen his tongue,” Maas says. “Which leaves us the problem of Don Kotrick. I’ve dispatched nearly every soldier in the country to fight the rebels, the pirates, the bandits… not much left to fight conspirators. Now, however, Governor Ekrine has dispatched the troops that were sent to the mine up north to surround the mine he’s actually using.” The King turns back to the map and taps the paper. “Here. Calder mine. They harvest emeralds from an extinct volcano. Maybe some alchemic ingredients, too.”

>”How many men does he have?”
>”How long would it take to get there?”
>”So what CAN you muster?”
>”How many men does he have?”
>”How long would it take to get there?”
“How long does it take to reach by horse?” you ask.

The King glances down at the table. “Oh, eight days. It’s not really that far. It’s how he reached it before we could stop him.”

“And how many men does he even have left?”

One of the advisors speaks up. “Forty, from what we can discern, assuming he didn’t hire any mercenaries we don’t know about.”

>Any other questions?
>"Do we have good maps of this mine? How defendable is it? How many forces will we have available to assault it?"
You look down at the table. “Is it charted? Do we have a layout of the tunnels?”

“We do,” Maas confirms, “though it’s obsolete. We also have some maps of the nearby roads, of course.”

“And… hmm.” You look carefully at the map of the roads on the table. It’s isolated, maybe a half hour’s walk from a small town nearby, where there’s a few flags stuck in the map denoting Guards. The mine itself has four entrances, but two are barely large enough for people. Only two are large enough for mine carts. “It’s defensible, but its location is more an impediment to attack than anything,” you muse. “Troubling.”

“The mine itself is fairly cramped, since it’s not very old or well-cored,” one of the advisors says.

“Does he have a mage on his retinue?” you ask the room.

“A healer,” Maas says.

>”Beseige him, then.”
>”Just collapse the mine.”
>”We should try to negotiate.”
>”Fast strike. We bull our way in.”
>Ask more questions (what?)
>”We should try to negotiate.”
Kotrick won't give up, but maybe some of those 40 dudes aren't getting paid enough to die.
“I’d wager some of those men aren’t being paid enough to die horribly,” you remark. “We should try to negotiate with them.”

“Get them to defect?” the King says skeptically. “Well, it can’t hurt. He’ll know we’re coming for him.”

“Yeah, no advantage of surprise to blow.” You glance over at the Avatars. “Unless your Ladyships have something to add?”

Asa shakes her head. “I know little about the place.”

“He doesn’t have God-slayer weapons any more,” Vier points out. “Beyond that, he still has all his normal weapons, plus some items from Saren. I’ll make a list.” Haret just looks thoughtful.

“Perhaps he could be convinced to try to escape,” he remarks. “We could…” The other two give him sharp looks.

[Brother, Sister, Haret is about to suggest that we make Kerin’s survival public,] Asa warned. [Kerin, are you comfortable with that?]

~I want my survival to be widely known, sisters.~ Kerin’s voice is positively longing. ~I miss my people.~

>{Why would he suggest that?}
I see my lunch break had bad timing.

>{Why would he suggest that?}
{Why would he suggest that?} you ask, in that lightspeed communication you share.

[He thinks that the survival of Kerin might motivate some of the guards Kotrick hired to surrender,] Asa says. [I disagree completely.]

~Oh. Well, yes, I’m useless as leverage,~ Kerin admits.

Asa looks over at Haret, but you imagine she’s already discouraged him in the Geode. “If he refuses to negotiate, we’ll just kill him,” Asa says firmly. “The problem is that if we collapse the mine, we’ll put hundreds of people out of work. And, to be honest, if I were Kotrick, I’d have a lot of hostages, and I’d be digging more tunnels.”

“We could flood the place with tear gas,” one of the advisors suggest unhappily. “But… it wouldn’t disperse much. People would choke.”

Maas taps his chin. “Hmm. Perhaps a mage could blast a tunnel down?”

>Suggest something (what)
>Leave the strategizing up to the experts
god damn, no wonder people take hostages so much in real life, it's so effective

If we have maps and numbers, maybe we could have mages blast a tunnel or even multiple tunnels in far from the center, and then invade the mine with a big team or a bunch of separate teams from those new openings.
“I strongly suggest that we use magic to blast a hole down to the mine tunnels and flood the place with as many troops as we can send in,” you tell them. “Good troops, tunnel fighters.”

“I concur,” one of the advisors says. He catches your eye. “Baron Mavos, your Eminence. It’s my land this scum has invaded.”

“You have my condolences,” you tell him. “Do you have anything to supply about the mine?”

He nods. “I brought the maps, your Eminence. They’re as current as they can be, and the mine administrator and his people are trapped inside.”

“How many people?” you ask, your heart sinking.

“Not all, actually. I would say… perhaps fifteen,” the Baron says. “They’re in the mess hall. It’s close to the surface, and connected by a ventilation shaft about one meter across.”

“A meter?” you ask, intrigued. A small man could fit through that on their hands and feet. “How many of these shafts are there?”

“They permeate the entire structure,” the Baron says. “There are filters and magic current generators around, but they’re not being maintained right now.”

>Suggest sneaking mission
>Ask the King if any people are available for that
>Suggest sneaking mission
Always good to get more intel, see how many extra mercs the guy hired, whatever horrific surprise he has waiting for us.
“We could slip somebody in there to gather reconnaissance information,” you suggest. “Then when they get back, we blast a hole down into the mine and attack, then storm the entrances all at once.”

Maas looks around the room and sees a few nodding heads. “Very well. We’ll see if that’s viable.” He straightens up and taps the map. “All right. I’ll rally what troops we have left. It’s Wednesday… I’ll ask you to leave with me Saturday. Tomorrow, I would appreciate it if you would lead me to our mutual friend’s new home,” he says.

Asa’s eyes dart to him. [Brother, the local King is requesting an audience with you.]



~Lovely. I’d be happy to meet him. He was at the raid, yes?~


~Sure. Will he ask for a blessing?~


~Alright. The traditional offering from a Royal type is a high-value coin of local mint, for symbolism and a gesture of willingness to trade.~

[Sister, let him know, please.]

“He’d like that, I’m sure,” you tell Maas, a split second later. “His services aren’t free, of course.”

“I remember,” Maas says solemnly. You detect his finger twitch towards his back pocket, where a commoner might keep their purse. Clearly, he’s done the requisite research. “Then, Friday, the day is yours, to prepare however you’d like. Hire some mercenaries, perhaps. I suspect Culler has had his fill of our campaign, and I won’t hire Kelscik again if it kills me,” he adds disgustedly.

>”Er, Sire, aren’t you needed here for two weeks time?”
>(Tell him about Fish-chaser)
>>(Tell him about Fish-chaser)
“Then I should tell you that I was confronted by a rebel spy on the way home.” You recall Fish-chaser’s hatred, and you grimace. “The brother of the man I chased out of the ports after killing Jester. Fish-chaser, a tribal from the south, and his two escorts. He knew who I was by sight.”

Maas looks up sharply. “What? He attacked you?”

“No, Sire, confronted, not attacked. Literally confronted: he stood in front of my wagon and yelled at me until I got out and answered his questions,” you tell him.

“What did he ask?” Maas asks angrily. “And what did you tell him? He’s a rebel!”

“I told him that I didn’t kill his brother, his brother killed himself!” you say, a bit annoyed by Maas’ vexation. “And I said that Saren is dead. That’s all I told him.”

The King scoffs. “Why didn’t you kill him? Or apprehend him? He’s a criminal!”

>”It’s not my war any more.”
>”Because he had us outnumbered.”
>”Because I didn’t want to fight a battle I could avoid.”
>”Because he wasn’t being combative.”
>”Because I had to get home fast.”
>”Because Asa was there.”
>”Because he wasn’t being combative, and Asa was there.”
You take a deep breath. “Sire, I didn’t fight him because, first off, Asa was there, and I know better than to get involved in any battle with anybody now, since it would look to all the world like it was done on her behalf.” He opens his mouth to chastise you further, but you keep going. “And, Sire, he clearly wasn’t trying to fight. He was rude, but not combative.”

“So we spare criminals and traitors now?” Maas asked coldly. “You chose incorrectly, Herald.”

“That is not for you to say, your Highness,” Asa points out. “Asa is my warrior now, not yours. She is in my employ.”

Maas glares at Asa. “Correct me if I’m wrong, your Ladyship, but did Elsa not just ask for indefinite leave to live in my military housing? To hire away one of my Auxilia before his tour was up, and fund his salary out of my own pocket? By what other definitions shall we describe ‘employ?’”

>”…Might have a point, there, Asa.”
>”As courtesies, Sire, I never offered my own service in exchange for those boons.”
>”As courtesies, Sire, I never offered my own service in exchange for those boons.”
>"Sire, I'm still yours. But for now, I am on a mission of importance to safeguard the very beings on whom our lives and souls rely upon for existence. When everything is done, I shall take my burdens and bear them with stoicism. Until then, Lady Asa has caused quite enough political upheaval for some time, and perhaps she could let me get on with my work while not causing more political tension?"
>While telling Asa to drop it for the moment and concede.
“Sire, I'm still your citizen, and I do rely on your help,” you start carefully. “But for now, I am on a mission to safeguard the very beings on whom our lives and souls rely upon for existence.”

“Clearly,” Maas says coldly. You press on.

“When everything is done, I shall take my burdens and bear them with stoicism.” You tilt your head towards the King in contrition. “Perhaps I should have stopped him, but I didn’t. The rebels are already wary of any sign of divine sponsorship of your Highness, aren’t they? Isn’t it possible he was a lure, sent out for me to kill to further test your resolve, or Asa’s willingness to take sides?”

Maas snorts, but says nothing.

“When I’m done, I’ll take my leave of your housing and pay for Alan myself, as best I can. Until then, Lady Asa has caused quite enough political upheaval for some time, and perhaps she could let me get on with my work while not causing more political tension?” you ask, praying she catches your message.

She jerks her head back to stare at you, clearly surprised. You quickly tap the Gem.

{I don’t mean it, sister, but we’re so close! We just need the King to calm down enough to eliminate the last enemy!}

[I don’t like being your scapegoat,] she says angrily. [Don’t make a habit of that.]

{Asa, please! The King doesn’t understand my priorities!}

[Then say that!] Asa snaps. You flinch.

“But… no. Sire, Asa, I apologize,” you say aloud. “Asa, I don’t mean to suggest you’ve done wrong. Sire, I’m sorry, but my requests for your aid were not contingent on my fighting your enemies,” you say. “Were your agreements to assist me contingent my doing so?”

Maas sighs shortly. “I suppose not, but let’s not forget their intent, either,” he says dismissively. “I’ll speak to you tomorrow morning, Herald.”

You stand there awkwardly before bowing and quickly retreating as the Avatars vanish. No sooner are you through the door than Asa contacts you.

[That was a very rude thing to say, sister. I expect better of you,] she says crossly.

{I’m sorry, I panicked! Maas isn’t unfair to expect me to stop his enemies when we know they were looking for aid from the conspiracy!} you say plaintively. {But when we were out there, it didn’t even occur to me!}

[Because it’s not your job any more, sister, and remember that!] Asa retorts. [I’ll let this go, but don’t do that again! Never feel that you have to justify your actions when they are exactly what I wanted you to do, and they resulted in no harm for anyone.]

{If he harms somebody because I didn’t act, it will be my fault retroactively,} you counter.

[True. Recall that his ultimate purpose was surveillance, not battle, however,] Asa reminds you.

Kerin hesitantly pipes up, sounding quite sandbagged. ~Oh dear, did my return provoke something?~

You and Asa respond at once. [No!]

{No, just… I did something the King strongly resented,} you tell him. {It’s over.}

~Very well… I’ll just try to ignore your arguing,~ he says contritely. It’s a bit passive-aggressive, but it does force you to calm yourself.

{Fine. Fine. Asa, I’m sorry. The King does have a legitimate claim on my loyalties. You have a staked claim on my soul. This isn’t a balance that makes me happy.}

[Nor I. Welcome to divine politics,] Asa says disgustedly. [It’s never fun.]

>Anything to do before you go home and eat?
Go home, eat, and bitch to Jerome
{Right. I’m out of here. I need food and a loving husband.}

[Very well. I’ll consider this closed. Go get some rest.]

~And please reiterate my invitation to Jerome,~ Kerin says cheerfully. ~I’d like to meet him.~

{I will.}

You troop downstairs and catch Alan lounging in the seat of the wagon. “Hey, Al, we’re done for the night. We’ll be bringing the King to an audience with Kerin tomorrow morning.”

“Awesome. I’ll be here,” he promises, and the wagon rolls out. You head down into the tunnels.

The basement door is locked, even though Jerome is obviously home and the wards are up. Curious, you walk upstairs, noting the detritus of a sandwich in the kitchen, and discarded boots and gloves in front of a cold fireplace.

“Jerome?” you call.

“Upsairs,” he calls back. You walk into the bedroom and take it in.

He’s in full uniform, sprawled on the bed, face-down in a pillow, with an empty tumbler of whiskey on the nightstand. “Uh, I miss something?” you ask. “You alright?”

“I’m sore all over,” he groans. “They had us lifting Legionary equipment today. By the pallet. My arms were so numb I cut the hell out of my thumb making dinner.”

“Oof, sorry,” you commiserate. “You okay now?”

“Got a bandange on it.” He listlessly tilts his head up and grins weakly at you. “How’s your pretty self?”

“I got Kerin, the demon, home,” you tell him. “It took a while. Then Asa toured me in the temple she’s giving us after we kill the last guy.”

“Yeah?” he grunts, partially rolling onto his side. “Nice?”

“Incredible. Just incredible. You have to see it, even if we don’t live there,” you tell him eagerly. “It’s magnificent. It’s like a palace. Then, when I got back, I got into an argument with the King over whether or not killing rebels is part of my job still,” you grouse.

“Wow.” He gives up trying to roll over and just flops back onto his front. “Fuck it.”

“Are you sure you’re alright?” you ask worriedly.

“Just bone-weary. They were moving gear for the Legion unit that cleaned out Nouton.” He’s referring to a short but violent sweep of a border town that joined the rebellion. “So… a demon? Really?”

“Really,” you promise. “It’s a real demon.” You sit beside his head and rest your hand on his back. “He is, anyway. His name is Kerin. He’s a wonderfully kind person, actually. He said he wants to meet you.”

“He does?”

“Yeah! He said he wants to talk to you, show you around. He’s really outgoing,” you recall.

“Huh. Guess that makes sense,” Jerome mutters. “I’m actually awe-struck, but my back hurts so much you can’t tell.”

“Want me to help you into the shower?” you ask.

“Oh, Gods, would you?” he asks, groaning as he raises one arm. “How did I even walk home?”

You help him out of his clothes – less fun than it usually is – and help him walk to the shower, where he rinses off. You strip your uniform off and pull on a robe, then go down and make a sandwich of your own.

When the water turns off, you switch with him, and by the time he’s done, he’s already under the covers. “Bluh,” he manages.

>”Think a backrub would help?”
>”I could use my powers to help you sleep…”
>By the time you're done
>”I could use my powers to help you sleep…”
You rest a hand on his cheek. “I could use my powers to help you sleep,” you offer.

He vigorously shakes his head. “No, no, no. Sleeping will be easy. It’ll be the stiffness in the morning that will hurt.” He shudders. “Besides, your sleep powers weird me out. No thanks.”

“Okay, I was just offering.” You lie down beside him and kiss him goodnight. “See you in the morning.”


Okay, cool. Almost done, guys! See you all Friday.
damn, shoulda gone with the backrub

Thanks for running!
No problem. This was a good thread.

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