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/qst/ - Quests

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Given the delay, I figure that an explanation is in order. Shortly after the last thread I was promoted to a full time position at my current place of employment. At the same time, the busy season has started, and the company provides an incentive from that point until the second week of June, and as such there are certain obligations that have to be met. As such free time has been exceptionally slim. My apologies, thankfully I have a secondary means of providing updates, however given that its via a rebuilt laptop and usually from various IP's I believe my user ID will shift somewhat throughout the thread. Whether that will necessitate a tripcode remains to be seen, but we shall play it by ear.

Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Lamia%20Legacy%20Quest
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LamiaLegacy
Opening Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCQmQwKEEOM
Story Thus Far: https://pastebin.com/Kh8GE1Ca
Season: Early Spring

Money: 1425

Sasha: Skill list
Ranching +4
Scholar +3
Marksmanship +6
Natural Ability (Lamia) +3
Intrigue +4
Casting (Draconic+4 Roc+3 Leviathan+3 Troll+1 Elemental+1)
Falconry +2

From the wall you look down at the blustering hussar threatening you. His vehement denials of bandyta collaboration ringing hollow in the face of the evidence. You briefly flirt with the idea of finishing the argument now, and letting their hussars just try and lay seige to the town. After all, it seems they don't know about your force of beastfolk just yet. Then again, how does he know how many hussars are in the town in the first place?

[I find it curious that you have any idea as to what our forces number. Exceedingly curious, as there are no easy vantage points into the city.] You lie, not mentioning the ridgeline on the far side of the city where you set up the ambush for the bandyta. [Lest you have subordinates who can fly, or can see through walls, the only ones who would have any inkling as to our force composition would be the bandyta we routed. The ones who fled into your lands.]

He pauses, face falling before retorting, [It is no crime to interrogate outlaws we capture.]

You adopt an air of scholastic inquiry, [Ah, but had you not said that you had stumbled upon our capture of this place by chance? By the patrol that we espied yesterday? Or was that a scouting force ahead of your banner that had already been moving because your routed allies had warned you we had taken it? How soon after we vacate this place will the Bandyta retake this place and continue to harry Bralin in a means to circumvent the armistice between you two?]

[The armistice exists because we allow it.] He snarls.
[No, it exists because Vernon of House Dijkstra is hostage at Bralin, and how many of your bannermen will see you for what you really are should your disregard for your Casimiran honor become publicly known?] You see that hits the mark, with one of the four in Duren's retinue visibly shocked by your mention of Vernon, probably a hussar out of Dijkstra himself.

[Their claim to have him is as dubious as their own honor.] He says, hastily shushing the protesting hussar. [We only entertain their claims out of concern for one of our own. There has been no proof of his survival provided and his long absence suggests it is a plot to exploit the worries of our bannermen about their liege lord. We will prove it is a lie soon enough.]

[Given that it was me and mine who nursed Vernon back to health, I find your denials amusing.] You reveal. The effect is instant, the worried hussar pulling his leader aside and whispering a hastily.

Looking back at your own crew, you can see you've gone about it as well as can be expected. Artyom and Elim beckon you over, and with the whispered argument continuing down on the other side of the walls, you duck down to listen to them.

[You've done well to buy us some time.] Elim starts, [Not to mention a good number of those banners out there aren't Krasick but the outlying folwarks sworn to them. Your claim that Vernon is still alive will spread through the ranks like wildfire. I'm not surprised they kept that bit of news suppressed.]

[It will also lend credence to our claims that the Krasick sacked my home, and their dealings with the bandyta. If there is one vice that plagues all Szlachta, its that gossip is a way of life.] Artyom says.

[So where do we go from here?] You ask, pleased the outcome seems beneficial.

[As much as I am loathe to suggest it, we try and slip away unscathed.] Artyom says, voice catching slighty. Seeing your look he continues. [This was my home, Elim has convinced me that the Krasick won't openly hold the place, doubly so now that we have my late lieges personal chest and the advisor has been found. Krasick will likely ransack the place again, but with nothing but rotting supplies, will likely leave the place to the bandyta.]

[But what about the trading hub we had planned?] You ask, unhappy at the suggestion.

[Better to keep your aim within your grasp.] Elim says, [With the manpower and logistics issues you mentioned, holding this place right now might be a bigger drain than you can handle. Once that's under control, come back and clear it out. You've already proven that a handful of bandyta are of little consequence to your forces. Not to mention, a few of my more archery inclined hussars have expressed interest in your claybreakers. Lets just say this was one definitive practical demonstration of kutkth technology.]

>No, we had set out to take this place, we'll follow through.
>Agreed, besides, taking this place again will be another black eye to the Krasick.
>Agreed, besides, taking this place again will be another black eye to the Krasick.
>Agreed, besides, taking this place again will be another black eye to the Krasick.
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You're displeased with the necessity, but cannot help but get their point. [Agreed, besides, taking this place again will be another black eye to the Krasick.] You say with a conspiratorial grin. Looking back up to the burned parapet, you can see that the Krasick centaurs have solved their own internal argument, with the protestor sporting a rapidly bruising eye himself. Looking closer you can see regalia akin to the outfit Vernon wore when you pulled him off the battlefield, clearly one of his allies.

[We've come to a decision.] You call out to the yellow clad troops. [We've accomplished our aim, that being that the removal of the bandyta forces in the area. With that done and other pressing matter demanding my attention. We are going to leave this place, provided we are unmolested upon our return and these ruins remain out of either Bralin or Krasick hands until the current 'disagreements' are resolved. Is that amenable?]

[You are not in any position to demand such things.]

[That was your original offer.] You counter. [The only difference being that given the current climate, I am not about to cause a breach of your armistice that would surely arise by you encroaching on Bralin territory. I know that your armistice was brokered and witnessed by many of the Szlachta families. I do not believe that Krasick would like the term 'Truce Breaker' added to their list of epithets. Especially one that is easily verifiable.] You pause for a second to give him time to process. [On my next sojourn back here I will verify that this place is out of either of your hands.]

He talks himself right into it. [You and what army?]

With a gesture you turn towards the beastfolk, and Liama, who mount the parapet, rifles leveled towards the retinue. [My own army, in fact. The ones your bandyta friends didn't see when we drove them out of this town.]

Clearly not expecting this, the Krasick heir stands there, processing the latest development. He must have been confident in the abilities of his men to come out here without a real numbers advantage, but the unknown quantity of your surprise force must have forced him to reconsider. Rallying, he replies [I find the terms satisfactory. For now, but there will be a reckoning. Nobody insults House Krasick and gets away with it. Not a one. You have two days to vacate this place. We will be back to check.] With that, the little retinue turns back towards their main force.

You watch as the yellow clad hussars move out and say aloud, [What are the odds he is lying and going to try and ambush us on the way out?]

[That was probably his plan for our hussars, possibly hit us while sleeping, but your unknown army put paid to that plan.] Elim says, [I doubt he is going to be light on numbers when he comes back.]

>Make ready to leave immediately. Time to put as much distance between us and here as possible.
>We'll wait and leave under cover of darkness. If they do attack they'll find a rested force waiting for them.
>We'll wait and leave under cover of darkness. If they do attack they'll find a rested force waiting for them.
I don't feel any need to up skirts and run when we could proceed at a cautious and well defended pace.

Also man it's been a while, I may be rusty on what exactly is going on.
No worries, it has in fact been quite a while. Right now you guys are sitting in the ruins of Purobka, having driven out the bandits inhabiting it. You were hoping to turn it into a trade outpost and went out to scout it during your inaugural trade run to Bralin. Right now you've got Marie and the trio of merchant groups sitting at Bralin while Liama, Artyom, your beastfolk retinue and yourself are accompanied by a banner of Lord Bralin's hussars. If you've got any other questions I'd be happy to give a refresher on the state of things.
>We'll wait and leave under cover of darkness. If they do attack they'll find a rested force waiting for them.
Do any of us have Low-Light Vision or Dark Vision? Would be useful.
Also, make sure that it is known to Elim's men that, in the case of an attack by Krasick on our way back to Bralin, we're probably going to light the field that they're crossing on fire, so it would be unwise to make a direct attack against the enemy host until after we've fucked with them.
Also, let's teach those archers about the glory of the guns while we wait.
I think I've got the gist of the current situation, enough for my decision to make enough sense to me.

Biggest problem is worrying if we're going to be overtaken by centaur ambushes, but if they's happening, I want to be rested anyway.

The lamias might.
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Rolled 5, 15 = 20 (2d20)

[It'll take him a day to get back to Krasick, right?] You ask, thinking quickly.

[With his group at full march probably, a little more if he decides to think up a way to spin this as a victory for him.] Elim responds.

[Ok good, we leave tonight. Have the hussars have any qualms about night travel?]

He grimaces, [Outside of the increased activity of the fallen? Not much, but navigation will be an issue. What do you have in mind?]

[Well, thankfully navigation won't be too much of an issue, because we have two people here with excellent night vision.] You say, pointing to yourself and Liama. [And it'd only be for one night, the rest we'd travel as normal. I mostly want to make it so that if the Krasick do try and ambush us in the night, they come across a well rested force.]

Artyom voices an objection, [The Krasick are well versed in night ambushes. Of this I can attest, have you made an allowance for that?]

You provide an answer, [I'll be setting the field between them and us ablaze if they do try to hit us.]

With the concerns mollified, you turn to the beastfolk and relay the plan. If they are frustrated that all their work was for naught, they don't show it. Zhou mobilizes his group in record time, having them get packed and ready by the time you finish explaining to the interested hussars the basics behind gunpowder. You don't give away anything too particular on the inner workings, but the premise, intention, and performance of your own rifle alongside the workings of muzzleloaders and pistols. You also discover that your average hussar is armed to the teeth with not only a lance, but at saber on one flank, an estoc on the other, a wicked looking reflex bow in a case depicting that hussars personal heraldry, and one other weapon of their choosing. Given the number of runed battle axes and war hammers taking up that 'personal' weapon slot you get the impression that your average hussar is someone who is always looking for an edge in combat.

Nightfall finds you and your small army ready to move out, vacating the very gates you took not two days prior. Trusting in your navigation skills, you take the fore while Liama takes the rear, covering your escape.

>Give me a 1d20+3 roll please.
Rolled 5 + 3 (1d20 + 3)

Rolled 19 + 3 (1d20 + 3)

oh shit, an update this late? But I must sleep shortly.
I'm not even going to roll. >>2566285 's got us covered
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You move out at the for with your beastfolk split on either flank, using their own moderate night vision to keep the unit cohesive. There's only one minor hitch in the plan, and its in the form of a grumbling fae spirit. A good ways away from the ruins you see Artyom coming up from behind, laden like a pack mule with the Purobka chest tied to his back. Astride that sits the advisor, very clearly unhappy.

[Something the matter?] You ask, trying not to be distracted too much.

[Of course something is the matter, you are leaving my home in the hands of those brutes!] She says, hopping up to a stand on the back of Artyom. [They will ransack the place looking for valuables, myself included, defiling my lands.]

[And what will they find?]

[Spoiled grain and cobwebs mostly.] She responds automatically. It takes a moment, but then recognition finally dawns [Oh. I get it now. That is actually really clever. I am still displeased, but I see the wisdom here now. For a mad one, you might have a point.]

[We'll be back, and with more in tow.] You promise, [But for the time being we need to focus on keeping away from the Krasick and getting back to my lands.]

Easier said than done, as you've got to make for Bralin first to rendezvous with the merchants, then escort them back. The sooner that happens, well, the sooner you get credited with the four thousand isen share of Serrak's silk deal. With money like that you could outfit the beastfolk into a proper fighting force, or even sink it into workmen to get some of the other projects back home taken care of. Or, you could turn that gold into steel and timber and properly rebuild Purobka, with the hopes that it will yield even more gold. Money on your mind, you take extra care to avoid any possibility of an altercation with the fallen or the bandytas.

Mercifully, it would appear that the Krasick didn't fancy a night raid, and by the time dawn breaks you find yourself in familiar territory, and before long pass by one of the old campsites you had set up just a couple days prior. Seemingly clear of any Krasick interference you take a moment to decide how you want to go about returning to Bralin.

>Any specific plans for your return?
>Also give me a 1d20 travel roll, lower is better.
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Rolled 16 (1d20)

We need to get the beastfolk better guns and make sure an arms merchant comes through in the next caravan to sell to those archers.

If possible, I want them outfitted with something along the lines of an 1866 Henry, if possible. With the 24 inch barrel. For 13 round capacity and extra accuracy
.45 Colt is the round, by the way. The original was in .44 Henry and had 15+1 rounds
Rolled 1 (1d20)

In case no one else posts. If someone else rolls, disregard this

Your first priority is the beastfolk. They've been stalwart, inventive, loyal and you figure getting them some of the latest and greatest fighting equipment is your most prudent option of paying them back. That said, such equipment is not cheap and getting them kitted out is gonna take some connections. Perhaps Serrak can put you in touch with one of his other 'business associates' once you return. It'd keep the money in his circle of acquiescence, and give you a contact with an arms merchant you could broker a deal with. Given how eager the hussars seemed after your demonstration, you could probably flip the old phoenix surplus to them at a later date. You doubt a gunsmith could churn out weapons fast enough to meet the demand once they catch on.

Thankfully, your thoughts remain uninterrupted throughout the trip back, and you decide to press on after a short rest for lunch. The lot of you are dog tired come nightfall, but you're within spitting distance of Bralin, a fact reinforced when you stumble across a hussar patrol. After a quick word with Elim, the patrol makes with all haste off to the southeast, presumably in the direction of the city in the valley.

[Anything important?] You ask Elim while watching the retreating squad.

[It's good we ran into them. My messengers made it back to town early last morning, they were mobilizing a second banner to reinforce us at Purobka.]

[Then mayhaps we should have stayed?] You say, still disappointed in being routed away from your prize.

He shakes his head, [Had we stayed, the relief force would have left Bralin itself largely undefended. Not something I would want to happen. Better we left on our terms than have this whole bloody mess pick up again so early.]

Sitting just far enough from Bralin that another march is gonna get you there in the dead of night, the group makes camp and you check in with the team you've brought with you. Artyom has been keeping the Advisor distracted mostly by having her beat her head against the mystery of the locked chest. Liama has been coordinating the beastfolk, who've been nothing but professional in the retreat. In fact, judging by the deference Zhou has been giving you, it would appear that your willingness to abandon the prize for fear of overextending has endeared yourself somewhat to the beastfolk.

One surprisingly restful sleep later, you find yourself marching into Bralin itself, not quite conquering heroes, but victors with at least a few spoils.

>What do?
Sweet. We're here. Now go find those merchants and hope none of them are in jail.
Make contact with Mari and the merchants. We need to get back to base and get working on another caravan run as well as getting a portal to Purobka made and getting guns for our beastmen, and getting into Mari's pants.
Once past the gates, you can't make your way towards the main thoroughfare fast enough, heading towards where you last left Marie and the merchants. Its been less than a week, but leaving Marie in charge of the mob was cause for concern. Concerns that appeared unfounded as the trade wagons come into view. It seems to be more of a campsite now, as each of the wagons are bereft of merchandise, and judging from the looks on the merchants faces, business was good. Marie, talking with one of Serrak's men notices you and rushes over to greet you, babbling questions as you respond in kind. It takes a while, but you manage to make each other understood, and as you regale your own tale of adventure she gives you a rundown on her own experiences.

Apparently, with the sale to Boris completed, Serrak's men have been doing a bit of 'market research' within the town. While not strictly condoning it, Marie deigned to act as a translator for the trio as they questioned Boris and the few other locals willing to talk with Kutkth. What they've found out, Marie hasn't quite puzzled out, but the questions they've asked have been fairly innocuous. The food merchant cleaned out his inventory quickly, and has been promptly spending that small fortune on curios and trinkets all throughout the town. The booze peddlers on the other hand, seem to have split the difference, and have created their own little market with an enterprising Casimiran bartender, offering the nobles a taste test of fine liquor from the UFK and the local flavor. The nobility were clearly biased towards the local brew, but that didn't stop a select few from buying a few discreet bottles of the foreign goods, nor did it stop repeat applicants to the taste test. "All in all, our trade mission is shaping up to be a resounding success." Marie finishes puffing up with pride.

"That's good, because we've had a few setbacks on our attempt to gain a foothold in the area." You say, as you begin to tell her about what happened after you routed the bandits in the ruin.

"You mean to say you've got another stray soul that latched on to us?" Marie says, half in jest, once you mention the Advisor. "You've got to stop collecting people every other time you leave the ranch."

"I don't know what's gonna happen with her." You admit, "She's all but latched on to Artyom, and with the suspicions about the Krasick abducting the land spirits, keeping her out of their hands is probably a good idea."

"But she's a land spirit, those have never been good news."

"Just the same, you got any better ideas."

She just shrugs.

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Eh, what's the worst a strange magical beastie latched onto one of our members could do?
It'll be fiiiiine.

Are we staying here for the night? We should probably be in high spirits if we are, maybe even hold a bit of "woo we're making bank" celibration.
"Also, I don't TRY to collect people, it just kinda happens sometimes... Though, you can't deny that it brings in a lot of interesting people to the ranch."
"At any rate, thanks for holding down the fort for me. We'll be setting out soon enough to get back home and I'll start planning our next course of action. Probably getting the Beastfolk some better guns and getting an arms merchant in on the next trade run."
I wouldn't mind us spending the night to let the beastfolk, Liama, Artyom, and the advisor rest. Also, go drinking with Mari. That sounds like a good idea.
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"Also, I don't TRY to collect people, it just kinda happens sometimes... Though, you can't deny that it brings in a lot of interesting people to the ranch." You scoff. Marie concedes that point as you continue. "At any rate, thanks for holding down the fort for me. We'll be setting out soon enough to get back home and I'll start planning our next course of action. Probably getting the Beastfolk some better guns and getting an arms merchant in on the next trade run. As for right now? We could use a rest, that and the fact we're gonna be making bank is cause for celebration. You get a chance to peruse the local color yet?"

"Somewhat, yes." She says, "For rest and celebration, I'd say their traveler's inn is probably the best bet. They worked with this liquor merchants while you were gone, and since it went well they are fairly well disposed to us at the moment."

That's all the prompting needed for you to direct your retinue in that direction. There's a bit of hubbub as Marie, Liama, and the majority of the beastfolk file into the tavern. Zhou and Artyom, ever diligent, have stayed behind to keep an eye on the merchants and the advisor, respectively. The food is good, and somewhat reminiscent of the hearty, rib sticking meals the Kozak tent city had, focusing more on giving you fuel to travel than the taste, but to the exhausted stomach an ambrosia of the gods. The vodka flows freely, and before long the telltale laughter of the profoundly drunk ring through the bar. Despite there being at least three separate language barriers the good cheer passes through them heedless of understanding.

Liama and yourself, possessing the somewhat vexing leviathan trait of holding your liquor until a certain point, are contentedly tipsy by the time the rest of the group are audibly slurring. You espy Elim poking his head into the building, and upon catching sight of you gestures for you to follow him. Slithering outside you look at him quizzically. [Something the matter?]

[As of right now? No.] He starts, looking grim, [Lord Bralin is happy with how you handled the Krasick, and thankful that you have prevented the hasty truce from turning to renewed bloodshed.]

[Then what seems to be the problem?]

[Bralin's advisor is not keen on having another of his kind within the city walls, but that is tempered with his concern over the claims that the Krasick are abducting his bretheren. He desires a meeting, but will not outright admit it.] Seeing your blank look, he continues, [Advisors seem to exist to hate one another. How and why I do not know, but he wishes for an incognito meeting with her at your earliest convenience.]

I suppose we can relay that to her?
How do these people normally do incognito meetings? Is this like an advisor thing?
Either way, yeah, we'll tell her.
Yeah, we'll set it up.
Is Mari not shitfaced enough to act as backup, or is Liama the only one who can still aim in a straight line? I don't trust this, and so I want to be at this meeting.
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[I'll see what I can set up. Check back at the merchants wagons in a few.] You promise, slinking back into the tavern.

You'll need a second, especially if discussions between the two get heated. Preferably someone with some firepower. Your first choice is Marie, figuring her exposure to the citadel would give her some insight and possibly some fair warning about anomalous land spirit shenanigans about to go down. The way you hear it, some remote ruins of the citadel are still rife with those things. That said, that option is right out as the little harpy is in the midst of the centaur patrons, doing her level best to teach them some rather bawdy UFK drinking songs.

Your only other real option present is the daughter of a land spirit killer. Liama still seems no worse for drink, and you catch her attention and beckon her outside. Wordlessly she weaves through the crowd and the two of you slither outside.

"What's up?" She asks quietly, still holding a bottle.

"The Bralin land spirit wants to talk to the one we pulled out of the ruins. Incognito like."

She puts down the bottle, "They chose an inconvenient time to do it. Half the camps too drunk to walk, and I suspect the centaurs are moreso."

"Perfect time then," You reason, "Nobody who'd spy on it would be able to trust their memory. I imagine its something important, especially given how standoffish the Bralin fellow was about his 'brethren'."

Moving more or less in sync, the pair of you move towards the camp where Zhou and Artyom are waiting. Zhou, unfortunately, did not account for the advisor, who's doing her level best to grab at the beastmans tail every time he comes within arms length of the chest she's sitting on.

[Uh, miss...] You start, pausing to try and figure the proper way to address her, [Miss Advisor, or whatever you like to be called. The advisor of Bralin would like to meet with you.]

[Where?] She says, distracted from the chasing of the tails to focus on you.

[At the manor, presumably.]

[Tell the bastard I'll meet him right here.] She says, huffing and crossing her arms.

[Why?] You can't help but ask, [There's probably some nice amenities there and everything.]

[Because the little shit is gonna have to come out of his comfort zone if he wants to meet me.]

You look over to the thoroughfare, and can see Elim looking towards you expectantly. Liama on the other hand, seems to be trying to hold back laughter.

>Let Elim know her demands.
>You don't have time for this, just have Artyom walk her over to the manor.
>Let Elim know her demands.
We want ours to like us. Can't go outright shitting on what they want.
Yeah, let's go relay the demands.
We're a go-between here, so until we get tired of that, go-between.
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You move over to Elim and he looks at you appraisingly, [Well?]

[She has some demands before she acquiesces.]

He rolls his eyes, [And they are?]

[Bralin's advisor has to meet her out here. Something about neutral ground. Or more specifically her saying that he needs to be out of his comfort zone.]

[I'll see what he has to say.] Elim says and canters off towards the lords manor.

[I wonder what he wants to discuss.] You say aloud, waiting for a response.

[He probably wants to know what happened to my home in my own words.] The advisor says, [Probably so that he can spin it into some advantage for his pet lord. I don't get why he dotes on him so.]

Whatever comment you might have is interrupted by the return of Elim, flanked by a female centaur in civilian clothes. You see him look to the woman, who pulls the sheeting off her back revealing the diminutive fae spirit of Bralin. Looking slightly worse for the ride, he slides off her back and lands unsteadily on the ground before springing up and walking towards you. Purobka's spirit does the same, hopping off of Artyom with slightly more grace. The two meet in the middle, standing almost nose to nose glaring at one another until Purobka's says [I didn't expect you to deign to meet us here. So comfortable you are in lounging about the castle.]

You notice, even in the fading light, that the little masculine fae's smug attitude is all but vanished. [We haven't the time nor is this a situation that calls for idiotic posturing. Whatever the Krasick are doing behind the scenes needs to be dragged out into the light.]

[Such concern,] she mocks, dripping sarcasm, [Where was that concern when I sounded the alarm during the sacking? Why did it take you months to even bother to send someone to see if I was alright, and the kutkh spawn of the arrogant and mad at that? I've been in the damned tunnels since then.]

[I never received any sort of distress call. Nor have I been able to get into contact with any of the advisors to Krasick or their allied houses. Many of our brethren seem to have... disappeared.] He says quietly.

[And that makes it alright then? I don't here any apology.] She responds, working herself more into a self righteous fury.

>Try to mediate (Will need a 1d20 roll)
>Let them work it out on their own.
Let them work it out, just don't let them actually fight.
Let them work it out on their own.
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You move to say something, but as you open your mouth to say something the pair just turn an glare at you. Shutting up quickly, you decide to let the two of them have it out. Silence reigns supreme as the two eyeball each other. Eventually, Bralin's advisor lets out a long sigh. [I did not think that anything of this sort was happening. I should have suspected more when the Krasick advisor had all but vanished. For that I apologize.]

[How dare you! I dema- wait...] Purobka's fae spirit says, expectations derailed by the genuine contrition evident on his face. [That's not fair. You can't just be honestly regretful. That's not how this works.]

[Consider it a demonstration of my concern over the situation.] He says, voice even and measured. [More than twenty of our fellows are missing, I cannot so much as locate them, even with the means available to me. Lord Bralin has also informed me that the peace treaty he rejected involved me being placed into the Krasick's custody as a 'hostage' and a number of other pithy capitulations that could be bartered away. I was the only sticking point to them.]

Fear and uncertainty creep into her voice, [Any indication as to what they are planning?]

[Not the foggiest. All I know is that it is bad, and might have been their true aim with this usurpation. Whatever they have planned, it is important enough that they'd commit regicide for it. For now, however, if you could regale your own story to me, mayhaps there is a clue to their motivations, as you skirted capture.]

The little fae, all business now, launches into a full retelling of the sack of Purobka, and the intervening time afterwards. With their cooperation seemingly going better than expected, you find yourself a bit of a third wheel with nothing particularly pressing to do.

We came out here for this meeting, we're staying to listen to the entire thing even if we have nothing to add.
Let's take notes if nothing else.
This shit seems important, and I don't want to have to repeat it to everyone.
Makes sense.
we might also want to ask when this started happening exactly, if we don't already know.
Shortly after the regicide.
Huh. I wonder what's taking the place of all these land spirits.
I mean, it's not like it'll be nothing. SOMEthing will fill that gap.
Nothing filled the Citadel's place. Not really. They can be destroyed and not be replaced.
yeah, but there had to be a lot of hullabaloo with that. Seals and whatnot.
I think we'd notice seals and whatnot, right?
There were no seals beyond the need to use specific weapons. Ssen killed the Citadel with the right tools and it died. Of course, these advisors aren't necessarily dead. They're also not nearly as powerful as the Citadel.
I'm sure I remember some kind of mirror array that spanned a few miles.

Though, these things ARE a lot weaker than that one, it's true.
That was the first attempt. Ssen stabbed the little shit with a spear, which is now a .56 cal single shot rifle(can't remember his name), made of the same material as the mirrors.
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In spite of being ignored, you listen to the story she weaves. The majority of it consists of he complaining about the lackluster accommodations of the little tunnel she inhabited for the better part of her adventure. She does mention the fleeting sense of a few of her fellow fae being brought to the ruins, which piques the Bralin advisor's interest. Eventually she finished her spiel with [And then the mad and arrogant one drove off the bandyta, told off the Krasick, and brought me here.] Her counterpart adopts a musing expression, worry plastering his features. [This help you in your 'inquiry' at all?] She finishes, regaining some of her bluster with a psuedo-mocking tone.

[Well, it suggests that they are not exterminating us.] He says, [Which is one fear laid to rest, I suppose. But far more worrying is the live capture. What is it that the Krasick need us alive for? And how is it they are masking us from each other, some property of those crates? I didn't detect the ones you mentioned in Purobka, much less your presence. Perhaps they've discovered a means of cutting us off from each other? It's only opened more questions, but at least we have a direction to point towards.]

Liama, who's grasp of Casimiran isn't quite as good as your own, has been getting a rough translation of the discussion through you. "You said these guys claim to be fragments of a land spirit, yeah?" She asks.

"S'what they say, yeah. How true it is, I couldn't tell you."

"What if those boys in yellow are trying to put the fragments back together?" She muses.

"And what, bring back the thing? Does it work that way?"

She shrugs, "No idea, but see what they think."

[So, out of curiosity,] You start, [Is there anyone who would want to see the land spirit you were borne of put back together?]

[No!] Is the immediate and simultaneous response from the pair. Looking at each other, the Bralin advisor elaborates. [Neither our fragmented selves, nor the Sons of Casimir would want the progenitor reborn. Us because as you have seen, we dislike each other enough and value our independent existences enough to make such a thing distasteful. The Casimiran because we would easily bring the yoke back down on them. A bit different reasoning, but mutual goals nevertheless.]

[But, lets say the Krasick believed they could place the yoke upon the spirit?] You propose.

[Foolish and impossible.] Purobka says, [Were it possible though, I could see the prize outweighing the risk.]

[It was done long ago on the continent we were from. And an artificial land spirit was created as well, displacing another. It was dealt with, at great sacrifice.] You say, recalling your history as best you can.

Genuine fear flits across the Bralin ones expression, a face unused to the emotion. Purobka continues, voice faltering. [If they are so mad as to try this ridiculous, impossible, and foolish endeavor. What should we do to stop it?]

Hm. While I hate to be a traditionalist, violence is most often what you use when someone is trying to being a demigod into being to rule most horribly.

So I guess we need to find out who specifically is doing this. Like, specific people.
>what should we do to stop it?
There is an old piece of advice for times when there's something that you don't like at all and want it gone from this world: Kill It With Fire.
We will find them eventually, and when we do, we burn them. We burn them until there is nothing left to burn, and then we burn the ashes and the ground upon which they stood.
Though we need to figure out what they're actually doing before we kill them with fire. Can't do this to someone who's innocent
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[Violence.] You say, quickly. [Anyone trying to bring a land spirit back into existence will need to be quickly put down. Preferably with fire, but that's my own preference.]

[And how do you propose we do that?] Elim says, chiming into the conversation for the first time in a while.

[Well, firstly we identify who the people are then we kill them. It's gotta be Lord Krasick, or someone close to him feeding him a line and guiding his actions. He's the head of the insurrection, yes?]

[Him and his allies, yes.] Elim says.

[As for how we find out, I am open to suggestions. We can't just kill indiscriminately, it'll drive the conspirators further into hiding and just breed resentment. Not to mention making us no better than the Krasick are right now.] You respond, before turning to Liama and translating.

"The Nitor will need to be informed of this. We won't begin to " Liama adds. You pause at this, the Nitor won't be subtle, and you suspect that the reserves will be called in for a matter this serious. "Without any concrete evidence bringing them to into the fight will be difficult. We'll need something more than just the disappearance of the few fragments."

You nod, turning back towards the Casimiran party, [We have forces we can deploy but we need to convince them that the creation of a land spirit is actually happening. Do you have any way we can get concrete proof of such a plot back over to my allies.]

[It might be why the Kozaks vanished into the wastes.] Bralin's advisor says. [The sundering of Casimir happened far to the west, it's what caused the land there to turn into the wastes. It's fraught with fallen, but if they learned of this scheme it would be the first place they'd head. Finding them the rub. The wastes are vast, fraught with hazards, and infested with fallen.]

[You're still an unknown here.] Purobka says, [As much as I loathe them, you could attempt to trade and befriend a few of the Krasick merchants with your original plan for my home. I suspect someone would approach you if it was discovered I was affiliated ti you. That is of course should they decide to risk it, and there's no guarantee of proof there.]

Trade with the other guys to get closer to the conspiracy, eh?
Well, it might work, but they're not dumb. They're probably going to start demanding guns once those start showing up on the battlefield.
Can you people weather the escalation of violence to gunplay on both sides for however long it takes us to get in good with the opposition?
If we sell repeaters to Bralin then Krasick can get single shots of the muzzle and breach-loading variety without being a major danger. Though, Bralin would need to switch to a majority ambush-based fighting style to make full advantage of the repeaters outside of fortified positions like the walls or some trenches.
In addition, Bralin likely doesn't have the same numbers as House Krasick, so Krasick may view this as acceptable considering the price difference starting out.

Also, I do like this plan, as it gets us a LOT more money than we could have gotten, and it lets us remove Krasick scum.
it gets us money, but it could backfire and blow up in our face in like, the most literal manner possible.

Worthwhile enough to think about though, and maybe do.
There's always a risk when doing business, and the more money you stand to make the more you stand to lose.
This could ruin us, but that's why we just have to make preparations for damage control. Prepare for every scenario that you can and expect the worst while trying for the best.
Now, Krasick knows we're allied to Bralin, so it'll be a problem to get them to trade with us, but if we start trading with anyone that comes and make ourselves up to be neutral then we could manage.
we're gonna have to find some intermediary parties to start selling with to get the whole "neutral" thing to set in.
Either parties uninvolved in the conflict of which I don't know any, or maybe bandyta. I don't quite like it either way.

We could of course try a more direct trade entreaty, but that would be suspicious as heck. Best if they come to us.
>best if they come to us
Obviously. We'll set up our trade post and start contacting the other holds that we should be friendly with, have Bralin send out messages to them telling them about us, or both so they know we're trustworthy before we get to them.
We should also contact the nearer holds to us that follow Krasick that aren't Krasick unless they're right next to us.
About right.
Though, we shouldn't get super ahead of ourselves here. Let's run all this by our advisors first and see if they throw up or something.
Of course.
These are plans for what we want in the future. A long-term goal. We're not ahead of ourselves.
Right now, we need to take Purobka again. This time with a portal to it from our land. We'll need help from Veles, but it's entirely doable.
First thing we do when we get back is inform Serrak about all of this and ask for an arms merchant and an estimate on getting our beastmen properly kitted. If we can't afford it with our own money, then we'll downgrade the rifles we get them to single-shot breechloaders. Like Martini-Henri's or something.
I think downgrading the rifles in general is a good idea here, if we can source 'em, given our customer base just expanded greatly.

And then we can sell them rifles again after this all settles down and we feel they're ready for the good stuff.
No. OUR men are getting Repeaters if we can afford it.
okay. But you know, our new greatly expanded customer base? totally not our men.
I know that. I'm not fucking selling these assholes repeaters until we know for CERTAIN that they're loyal to US (by which I mean Tatiana). They're getting Springfield M1873s and Sharps rifles at best.
oh, you mean just like, ever.
I mean, eventually SOMEbody is going to sell them better guns, loyal to us or not. We live long enough that once this current land spirit problem is done, we'll have to deal with rival arms dealers eventually.
They have to go through our land to get in or try to tunnel through the mountain. We make money off of them no matter what.
Because they're not making it through the mountains.
I guess if you want to give up the arms dealer marketshare after this for some reason.
I wouldn't count on that 100%. People will be trying all SORTS of bullshit to get around that. And we live in a world with magic and giant monsters.
Also, we'll sell repeaters eventually, but not while they're having their civil war unless we're actively dragged into it, we need it to end NOW, or we can defend ourselves against anything we can sell to them.
oh, yeah, that's fine. Like I said, I was talking after all this business blowed over for the selling of the new, better guns.
It's not going to get blown over. The arms merchant is going to come from Serrik's circle, so we're making money off of it.
Also, people've been trying to get over the mountains for the entire time they've been down here.
It'll blow over eventually.

And yeah, people WILL keep trying to get into the mountains. That's why I say don't count on it 100%. Who knows how many other crafty bastards like our dad existed out there, or how many magic circles are going to get smuggled in.
Our dad wasn't crafty. Veles' dragon parent made our tunnel.
and our dad found it, and then held it as a secret property for a period of decades.
He didn't find jack shit. Veles SHOWED US the tunnel. Our dad just found good grazing land.
Huh, I thought he found it.
Though, that doesn't really speak wonders to me. It means there was just... a hole. In the mountain. For god knows how long. That nobody used until we got there.

I see no reason this kind of situation could not repeat elsewhere, and think we should not sit comfortable in eternal monopoly of routes.

We've got a good one for sure though, I don't argue that.
There's a Leviathan under the mountain that's going to stop anyone trying to get through subconsciously, and there was only one Dragon on the range, and they made our tunnel. It also was used by Veles quite often, just not on the side that our ranch is on. There's no one out there that's going to make it through 3 miles, minimum, of rock that's constantly trying to cave in on them. Where we are is also the thinest part of the mountains. Period.
speaking of the leviathan, one of the things I am kind of worried about is the leviathan having a stomach ache and rolling over.
It hasn't for the last few hundred years, so I don't see why it would now. Sleeping Leviathans have a tendency to be still as stones. Though, if it wakes up then our ranch is fucked and so are we unless we're as far inland (away from the mountains) as possible. Center of the Casmir lands should be relatively safe.
basically, right now I'm worried about a few things.

Most likely, is whoops, teleporter got smuggled in with the fine wines, we now have a back route that nobody knows about.

After that it's flying machines.

After that it's some ridiculous weapon technology just making a clean hole.

After that it's the leviathan rolling over.

After that it's railroad barons.
They're not smuggling a teleporter through anywhere. Casimir magics can set up teleportation circles relatively easily, but our magics can't and neither can the Pheonix's magics. There are no devices that can do this either.

No-one's getting over the mountains with a zeppelin. They're too tall or it would've been done already.

The railroad isn't getting through or over the mountains without our permission for the reasons already stated

Magic is the only thing making a clean hole, and the ground near the mountains is resistant to magic.

The Leviathan isn't rolling over. Period. It's not moving unless it wakes up.
wait, the HORSE GUYS are the ones who have the best teleporters?
Huh. We should be on the watch for smuggling -out- then, not in. good catch.

And all of these things are things we'll have to keep re-evaluating as technology keeps speeding on. I'm talking in long terms with most of these. In the short term, our control of the trade through here is unparallelled. In the long term, we have to seriously consider earthquakes, technological development, and all kinds of skullduggery.
They don't have many good mages. Most of them only know basic pyromancy to burn the degenerate trolls. Their teleporters are also easy to spot as their magic is rune-based. They're also one-way until you put down the other end.
yeah, I figure they put one end down on their side, and then either ship a mage out the other way under the guise of a trader, or ship out some kind of cypher that has runes interspersed in that can be re-aligned according to whatever code they have into a circle.

You know, depending on how advanced spy games are for all involved.
They seem to hate spies, so I doubt it would be that advanced. We'd also catch something like that easily enough. They also don't seem to have any real interest at the moment of getting onto our side of the mountains. Once the civil war is over they may want more clay soon, depending on who wins, but we've got near impregnable defenses against them if they tried to attack us.

Something else, they probably have to know the area they're teleporting to rather well in order to make a teleport to it without potentially fatal consequences.
Still, it's better to start being on the lookout NOW for runes than to have them slip one through us before we noticed.

Like you said, it should be pretty easy to catch, if we're actually trying.
Just for clarifications sake, the gateways are ancient draconic magics used by Veles' progenitor. The phoenix did have a means of hijacking them, and teleportation was how the ones who survived to cove assault escaped. Its a different method and the two don't intermingle nicely.

Casimiran runic magic is a very derivative elemental based magic that is almost entirely contained within the rune itself, there is no innate wellspring through which they cast like how you can. They also lack means of rapid transit.

As for the mountain range, the primary reason folks could not get through was a warding that only recently began to fail. Its failing was one of the reasons you ended up stumbling upon and exploring Veles, that and the net of course.
So this might become a goldrush at any time depending on when holes in magical protection appear.
It'll be fine. So long as everyone thinks that we have the only hole then they won't bother to try unless they can't pay the toll and want through badly enough.
But, yeah. We need to be wary with that meta-knowledge.
oh, they're totally going to be trying. They were trying when there were 0 paths through the mountains, for years. Now that there's 1, that'll only add to the fire.
We can sit pretty for now, though. Just, you know, consider how we can get markets under our thumb NOW, while we're sitting pretty.
We have a house that trusts us and we're about to have a whole town under our control. We're way ahead of anyone else coming through, so we don't have much to worry about at the moment, but that's why we need to hurry up and get back so we can go on another run and set up in Purobka, allowing us to set up a trading town and keep our promise that we're already breaking.
good game plan, I'm for it.
also, what exactly was the promise we are breaking?
I forget many of these things.
We promised Purobka's advisor that we'd keep the bandits and Krasick from entering it again, but from how she reacted to our retreat from the place, she either forgot or was fine with the husk being left devoid of any valuables so long as we returned to recapture it later.
I think that second one, from my read of the situation.
All at once a myriad of possibilities unfurl before you. Avenues for profit, weighing risks and benefits, schemes and backup plans in case things go awry. All focusing in on one option. [The latter sounds like it would be the best plan. We already intend to retake Purobka on our next visit, and setting up a neutral trading post would be the best avenue forward. I'm sure they wouldn't resist the lure of prophet, and should an advisor openly give their blessing to the endeavor, it would attract those who seek to collect them.]

[You would trade with the dogs?] Bralin's advisor exclaims, [Despite what they've done?]

[It is the optimal way forward, and it would provide a buffer between you and the Krasick.]

[With you profiteering on our conflict, no doubt.] He huffs.

Diplomatically you respond. [Naturally, but who got what, and the quality of the goods would be weighted.]

[They should be put down, not traded with. We need allies, the Kozaks will provide you the evidence, and can open up a new front.]

[Rumor of a neutral hold on the border of the wastes, one that stands up to the Krasick would spread quickly, even into the wastes. It could draw my Kozak brothers out of hiding.] Elim says, musing.

The advisor whirls towards him, [You take their side?]

[Those bandyta that survived will flee to the wastes, rumor will spread like wildfire. A second purge, leaving some alive, will spread it even further. That could reach the ears of my brethren. It would make our enemies do our work for us.] He counters.

[Am I to just trust your word on this?] Bralin's advisor fumes, [Right now you speak of kutkh doing business with my enemies while nominally saying that they are on my side. I do not see any guarantees on this.]

[There are no guarantees that this will stop the plot. However, we still have other ploys to play if needed.] You say, thinking about Tatiana, having a claimant to the throne is a particular good ace in the hole.

He stares at you, a combination of frustration and incredulity on his face.

>Let him know about Tatiana, a display of trust is needed here.
>Deflect, keep him in the dark on that aspect until absolutely needed.
I don't actually know much about tatiana, so I can't comment on that. Ask the other guy.

I would like to ask him how he proposes he will acquire the proof we need to blow the lid on this thing. We currently have a plan that has a reasonable chance of figuring out who is behind this. Does he have a way to get the same information? Has anything come up in interrogations and prisoner exchanges thus far? How would we even accomplish the open hostilities we'd need to militarily take this information in the first place, politically? Isn't there some kind of truce going on?

I don't mean to put him on the spot, but it will take time for our plans to get in motion. If he comes up with a better one, or finds another way, before our plans are at full speed, then we can easily swap to whatever he comes up with.
>let him know
Look at Elim to see if he is thinking what we are and gauge his response. If he doesn't get it, go ahead and tell Advisor Bralin about Tatiana.

Tatiana is an heir to the throne by blood.
I would also not put him on the spot at all. Don't say anything along the lines of "what OTHER options do you have?" because that'll piss him off more and make him more suspicious of us.
yeah, I don't want to put him on the spot, but I want to bring it up.
It's important he realize he has to start thinking of ways to do this if he wants our way not to happen. Or at least, could tell us to wait with some confidence that he'll figure it out.
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You quietly marvel at how quickly the advisors shift from reasonable to not at the drop of a hat. Purobka, the one initially being petty and vindictive now looks like the reasonable one while the Bralin advisor is throwing a tantrum. That said, given the people present you could do quite a bit to assuage his fears by mentioning your pocket claimant. In the silence following your pronouncement, you give Elim a pointed, questioning glance. The kozak catches on quickly, and a simple nod is all it takes for you to elaborate.

[This doesn't leave this meeting, alright?] You start, causing the two advisors to look at each other and then flit towards you.

[Elim and the Kozak Ataman entrusted me with his niece before all this bloodshed started. Did it as a favor, didn't ask who she was or what their goals were. Since the usurpation of the throne and the nature of this succession conflict, it's been even more important to keep her name away from the enemies. What I wasn't told is that Tatiana is King Sigismund's third daughter, fifteenth in line for the throne and proof the Krasick are lying about a complete extermination of the line of Sigismund.]

The effect is almost instantaneous, with Purobka giving you an impressed appraising glance and Bralin's temper tantrum immediately halted. [Why hasn't she announced herself?] He asks, [There are many perennial waverers who'd back her just out of tradition.]

[She is not keen on the idea of leading a kingdom, and the implications of succession following her. She suspects her uncle might have more information as well, but without a foothold on this side of the mountain, I can't begin to hunt for them. However, should it get to that point, she is prepared to take up the role. I'd rather it be a last resort. I'd also rather it be kept as quiet as possible, if only so no attempts are made on her life.]

Bralin's advisor is remains silent, musing over your words. Abruptly he says, [I find your terms amenable and your plan sound. Carry on.] And flits away from the group.

Purobka chuckles lightly to herself and you look at her questioningly, [He never does like it when he doesn't get his way. Especially when its shown that his way isn't the most optimal. He's gonna have a good sulk for a while, maybe prank the local nobles to feel better.]

Elim groans and begs leave to forestall the pranking until the advisors attention can be distracted to other matters. With just Liama, Zhou, Artyom, and the Purobka advisor nearby you can be fairly confident that the meeting is concluded.

>What now?
Well. That's settled, then. Head back and make sure that nothing's been broken and no fights started. After everyone's been rounded up we get to sleep and set out next morning. (See if they have any Kompot for sale. That shit's the best thing ever to combat hangovers. Good for your soul too. Lasts forever too.)
yep. Return to the festivities as normal now that business interruptions are done.
With the clandestine affairs settled, you turn to more practical matters. First and foremost, ensuring everyone celebrating in the tavern is alright. Inside you're greeted to a tableau rampant drunkenness, and the discovery that a few of your merchants had slipped into the bar to join in the festivities. Thankfully, most of it is on the Casimiran who've embraced Marie's songs and given them their own flair, usually at the expense of the Krasick. The little harpy herself is looking very much worse for the drink, and has slumped over one of the tables nearby. The rest of your trade caravan are in a similar, if conscious, state, the only exception being the booze merchants and one of Serrak's henchman. You didn't take the broad shouldered prosthetic wielding cart driver for a teetotaler, but given the meaningful glance he gives you as his two compatriots feel the full effects of centaur vodka. Sliding your way up to the tavern keeper, you negotiate out a few hangover remedies and the final tab for your charges. Remedies in one hand, an unconscious harpy over the other shoulder, you file out of the tavern back towards the wagons. The few beastfolk that are still mobile help shift the ones who aren't and promptly crawl into their own bedrolls.

The next morning finds a few protesting groans from the partygoers, muted by the immediate application to the remedies you grabbed the night prior. Marie, hit hardest by the alcohol, recovers the quickest, and is growing impatient to move by the time the last cart is settled and ready. Heading towards the gate, Lord Bralin himself sees you out in a quiet ceremony with little fanfare. Elim isn't present, but Bralin assures you that it is because he is tending to private matters, namely the fact that SOMEONE shaved off half his beard in the night. You're outside the walls when an octet of hussars come bounding up. It's no full guard, but as you understand it, they are going to escort you to the boundaries of Bralin lands. With the two squads acting as outriders, you spend the few days it takes to get out into the badlands proper in full security, well appraised of any developments. When you finally part ways with the hussars, you note that their boundary of "Bralin Land" has shifted by about a half days travel.

>Give me a 1d20 travel roll, lower is better. Also any actions you'd like to take.
Rolled 1 (1d20)

Rolled 15 (1d20)

try to take note of this boundary moving. Might be useful to keep track of these things over time.
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You make a mental note of the supposed border, you suspect that this was technically land on the fringes of Purobka, and that their claim on it is a bit opportunistic. Nevertheless, its better that they have control of it rather than the Krasick. Figuring it an issue you'll have to deal with another day, if at all, you press on.

Good fortune and cheer follow your caravan throughout the journey. The carts have few issues and the merchants are eagerly expecting the profits that await them once they get to the other side of the mountain. Given your propensity towards attracting trouble, this reprieve is much appreciated. Artyom does his best to keep Purobka's advisor occupied, often distracting her from messing with Zhou and his troupe. The beastfolk conduct themselves with professionalism, but do make it a point to range a bit further away from the main caravan than usual. You suspect this is to avoid the advisor, but it has been working well so you refrain from comment.

The only two concerning aspects are Liama and Marie. The two are almost appearing to get along as they share their concerns about the suspected land spirit conspiracy. Given both of their backgrounds it is to be expected that a plot of that nature would concern the both of them. Talking with you, they agree that until hard proof is obtained, involving the Nitor would be difficult and that should the UFK get roused to a credible threat, the repercussions would not be subtle. However, they both come to the conclusion that notifying someone would be in your best interests. Captain Keel comes to mind, the good captain seemingly running operations on the southern continent, and discrete enough to cover up McCain's existence.

By the end of this leg of the trip you can just about see the tips of the mountain pass, just a bit further and you'll be home free.

>One last travel roll if you would, and any actions you'd like to take.
Rolled 11 (1d20)

I suppose we could go ahead and ask Mari if she wants to come with us when we make the second run out here to re-take Purobka. That'll probably be 2 weeks away at least, maybe a month depending on how quickly we can get proper guns for our men and get an arms merchant down here to sell to the Casimir (making sure to suggest to the arms merchant that they maybe shouldn't bring any repeaters over here).
Rolled 17 (1d20)

here's m'roll. Maybe say hello to veles as we're passing by. Politics are heating up, I'd hate to see him get caught in the fallout.
We need him to make the portal once we re-take Purobka again anyway.

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